Thursday, October 31, 2013

The colors of Autumn, God's handwriting

 I took a walk out back behind the house this morning, with the dogs and goats. Didn't want to go all the way back to the ridge because it is deer season. Don't want to get shot! So these photos are from behind my house up on the goat hill, looking at the ridge. It's amazingly beautiful right now, all of a sudden.

                           Can you see a few goats? They kind of blend in to the landscape here.

 This is the hay fields behind the house. All brown now. So pretty with the vibrant colors of the trees and bushes.

 This little bare tree has some pretty red vines for decoration. So creative, nature.
My favorite goat, Sandy. I love this picture of her with all the pretty color behind her.

I hope everyone is seeing the beauty all around them. My mother put up a quote on her FB this morning: "Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything beautiful, for beauty is God's handwriting." Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Right now, this season, God's handwriting is everywhere we look. Please don't fail to see it.

Wasps and bees and bugs, oh my!

 Last week, I spilled a 5 gallon bucket of honey in the back of the Trooper. I got what I could all cleaned up. Or so I thought. Ever since, I have been taken over by every kind of bee and wasp around. They have covered the whole driveway, from the kitchen door all the way down the driveway. From the dripping honey. From the back of the car. Apparently, there is still about a gallon of honey, down in the hole under the carpet, where the tire tools are stored. That I haven't looked at yet. Because now, the bees and wasps are covering the whole back end of the car. I mean, literally covering it. From top to bottom and underneath. And inside.

So yesterday was market day. I could not even open the back door without hundreds of bees and wasps flying inside the car. It was really hard. Then, to top it all off, thousands of ladybugs too! And these are NOT the good lady bugs. Oh, and it's also Box Elder beetle time! Yippee! So I am being taken over by every kind of insect  right now.

I finally got the car loaded and headed down the road. With bees and wasps and lady bugs flying all around me. I rolled the windows down. Collard greens flying everywhere too! SO had to stop down the road, open the doors and starts swatting them to get out. I got some out.

Drove another few miles and did the same thing. Finally got to the market and I think there were 2 honey bees left. And some lady bugs. And when I got home, it was dark, so quickly unloaded everything and drove the car to the road and parked it there. I am going to have to take it to a detail car wash and get them to clean out the back, so this madness can stop finally. I love the honey bees and will gladly feed them. But the others, I can live without. I have to say though, that I have stood right in the middle of them all, and never once got stung. They were all too busy!

I cannot get enough of this maple tree! It's amazing. It's never been this beautiful. So I am constantly taking pictures of it.

Now, here is a GOOD insect. I love Praying Mantis'. I want them here. And she's a beauty. I got close and she followed my every move. She was a great model. Let me take lots of pictures.

I love this shot. Looking out at the garden, where I'd love her to live. And raise a huge family. And be happy. She's heading that way!

On the way to the market, I stopped at the new meat market, beside the bread store where I get day old bread for the critters. I walked in and introduced myself. Told them I have lamb. They are going to come out and look at the sheep! They buy from local farms and I would LOVE to be a source for them. In the future. Right now, I have 2 lambs sold for meat. I might sell them the last one, just to get my name up on the board. And on the cuts of meat. How exciting that would be! Way better than my name in lights on a marquee. It would get my name out there to the community. What a great opportunity for me! So I am just a bit excited about this!

Just wanted to thank each of you who have commented on the last post. It really means a lot to me to know what you think. Really.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Your opinions, please!

I am just wondering about my blog and if it's actually something that I need to keep doing. I know there are millions of farm blogs out there. And they all talk about the same things basically. But they are all different as well. So I am wondering if my blog is relevant at all.

I look at the stats and looking at my post about John Henry coming back home, that got 45 views. But not a single comment. And some don't have any views at all. Kind of strange to me.

So please let me know what you think about the posts on this blog and if they are helpful or not. I would LOVE to know. And I can take criticism too, IF it is done right. I don't like hurtful criticism. But I need to know if this is worthwhile.

I love my blog. It does help me to know when something happened or when a goat had kids or whatever. I can just look it up if I need to.  I love taking pictures. I am always looking for opportunities to take pictures. I almost always have my camera with me anymore.

So please, feel free to leave a comment about what you think about my blog. And thank you all so much for looking. And I do appreciate  ALL of my cyber friends who come here often.

Just an afterthought here: I know people are busy and they just come to check in or whatever. I realize that. I do the same thing. I have several favorite blogs I go to every day. I don't always comment on every post because I just don't have anything to say about it. So I know how that is. Just wanted to add this. And I am not trying to get compliments or anything like that. Just wanting to know what you all think about the posts mainly.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Insect invasion!

The past week has been crazy. When I spilled the 5 gallon bucket of honey in the back of my Trooper and on the driveway, we have nothing but bees and wasps out there for days, cleaning it all up for me. Which I am very happy they are doing this. BUT, there are Yellow Jackets too. And they are in my Trooper. Like I think I have them all out and I'm driving down the road, and here comes a bee flying up in my face! I think they may be making a hive underneath the back of the car. As soon as I drove in to the driveway and got out this afternoon, there they all were again. I don't know how long it will take them to clean up all this honey, but until then, we have to be really careful where we step. I am not in the least afraid of the honey bees. It's the wasps I don't like.

And NOW, if the bees and wasps weren't enough, the LADYBUGS are back! Whoopee! Ladybugs. All over the house, inside and out. And they STINK! And these are not the good kind of lady bugs. Nope. These are annoying, in your face insects. They get in the clothes, the furniture, all over the place. And on me.

So where is a nice hard killing freeze when ya need one?

Monday, October 28, 2013

He's back!

                                                               Let the party begin!

Can you see Sandy behind the fence? She's like "I do not want anything to do with that! Nope. Not me." And she won't either. She's just like that. She is always the last doe to kid. Because I usually have to pen her and the buck up in the stall til I know the deed's been done. She's not getting off that easy. Not this time. I'm on to her. Yes I am.

But John Henry, he hasn't even had a vacation yet. Straight from one pasture of does, right back here for more. He's young. He can do it. He hasn't let me down yet.

Bucks are gross.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Meet Bilbo Baggins. New herd sire.

 This is my new ram, Bilbo Baggins. Isn't he too cute? He's the same age as all my lambs born this year. He's Katahdin. I am hoping he'll add some color to my drab flock. Maybe not this breeding season, but next for sure. I think most of the ewes are already bred.

And if these 3 ewes don't lamb in the next month, they need to go on a serious diet! They are SO big.I got the 3 ewes standing around him from the same place. Not Annabelle, the wooly one, but the other 3.

Now I need to decide what to do with Abraham, the Finn ram. I am leaning more toward butchering him in a month or so. Then start looking for a good wool breed ram for all my wool ewes. I don't think I'll get a Finn ram though. Wonder what other breed would be good to breed Finn ewes to? Any ideas, all you shepherds out there? I think I'm going to Fiber in the 'Boro bext weekend up in Murfreesboro, Tn. I'm sure there will be lots of sheep people there to talk to.

I wish I had gotten Bilbo earlier, but maybe the younger ewes aren't bred yet. And they are all hair sheep. Except for little Buttercup. And she's too young to breed.

I am happy I got this ram. He looks like he'll make a fine herd sire.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Drying up

I just realized, that when Penelope dries up, it'll be 5 months without goat milk! 5 MONTHS! Ugh! It's never been that long before. I am already hyperventilating here just thinking about it. I really screwed up last year when I bred the goats in September. What an idiot! Penelope kidded Feb. 3rd. So she's been in milk nearly 10 months already, which is what I usually milk a goat for. I am going to keep milking her as long as she has milk in those udders!

I'll go get John Henry next week for breeding. I'll have to use him on Sandy too. I don't want to get a Boer buck this late in the season. So we will just have a bunch of little elf eared cuties next spring. That's ok if they are all boys. Which we are due for a boy year.

But no goat milk for that long???

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Like bees on honey

I had a 5 gallon bucket of honey in my car since Monday afternoon. I was going to take it to my friend's this morning for them to help me pour it into gallon jugs.

But as I was walking past the Trooper, I noticed dark stuff on the driveway at the back of the car. So I opened the back door and saw that the bucket had fallen over. Honey all over the back of the car. I di have a hard rubber mat that covers the carpet, but it had still gotten under onto the carpet too.

I grabbed some buckets so it would drip in them and not on the driveway and make a sticky mess. I had left it out last night. When I went to get those buckets, I noticed some bumblebees and honey bees were in the honey. Dead. I was so sad to see that. But there were honey bees here!

I don't know if you can see this little one, but it's sucking up the honey. There were some more bees stuck in another bucket that just had a few spoonfuls in the bottom. I took it over to the water hose and washed them off. I think they'll make it.

In the 2nd photo, there are several honey bees. And a yellow jacket, I think. I am SO happy to see the honey bees! I had thought some might come and help clean up the honey for me. The people I took a bee keeping class from this spring, said when they rob their hives, they leave all the equipment outside and within hours, the bees have gotten all the excess honey cleaned up. I love bees. They are so  smart.

Here's another little honey bee. All that dark is honey on the driveway. They should be busy!

I am also leaving the back doors open for the bees to get all the honey they want. I am so glad they are still around. I missed my bees.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Tiger dog

I love this!

At Ketner's Mill.

I thought I better state that this is NOT my dog! They were at Ketner's Mill last weekend. Very popular dog for sure. She uses vegetable dye and does this for every holiday and football game.

Sad times

Yes, sad times at Outback Farm. We're down to about a pint a day of goat milk. I know. I am already panicking, wondering what I'm going to do for milk soon. I'm going to milk Penelope as long as I can. She's been going since Feb. 3rd. She's a good milk goat.

I just hate the dry times. But there's always spring!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Inside All Books

Monday, I took my great grand mother's spinning wheel to this wonderful crazy cool store in downtown Chattanooga. An 81 year old lady named Polly owns this place. It says All Books, but that's not all.

You open the front door and walk in to this. As far as you can see, bags and bags of roving in every color, skeins and skeins of yarns, spinning wheels in every size and color, hand knit scarves and vests and leg warmers. It just goes on and on and on. Also carders of different sizes. A knitters paradise! And Polly. She is something else. She sits in these chairs all day, spinning, knitting, talking to all who enter.

This is just part of the bags of roving she has here. There is a lot more, around the corner, down the rows of bookshelves, on top of shelves.

And spinning wheels all over. In the aisles, on top of shelves, in the windows. She let me try 3 different wheels. I stayed there about 5 hours.

Here's Polly, in the pink shirt. The wheel by the door is one I tried. I liked it. It's tall. The one she's on, I tried. Then she opened a box with a Ladybug wheel in it. I really liked that wheel. And might get one.

This is my great grandmother's wheel she used to make clothes for her family. It's mine now. Polly checked it out and even redid the string for the wheel and bobbin. It works pretty good. She said I should sell this one and get a new better wheel. Well, I can't sell this. I was the only one in my whole family, I mean cousins, aunts, uncles, that was meant to have this wheel. It will be here as long as I am. I'll use it til I can afford to buy another one.

I did put some money down on a new hand crank carder. Really want one bad.

Anyway, Polly said I can come back anytime and sit and take more spinning lessons. She's really a nice lady. I'm so glad I walked past this store one day a few years ago.

(I'm so sorry. I already posted about my GG mother's wheel. Now I can't figure out how to delete the photo. So I'll just apologize for double photos!)

Monday, October 21, 2013

Ketner's Mill and spinning wool

This weekend was my very favorite country fair in Marion Co. Tn. Ketner's Mill. It was perfect weather. Beautiful colors everywhere. Friendly happy people. I just love it. And look forward to going every year.

But this year was different. I was asked to be a part of the ladies who do wool demonstrations in front of the mill! I said I would be there and would be willing to do anything I was asked! And I do not know a thing. So Susan said I could learn as I went. Perfect!

This is the old mill. They only use it now to make flour and corn meal and grits. And only a few times a year I think. I bought some corn meal and made corn bread when I got home to have with the pinto beans that had been cooking all day in the crock pot. So good!

This is Tia and Susan. Tia let me use her little spinning wheel to practice on! My very first time AT a wheel to spin myself! And I got to spin the wool I carded earlier on a hand carder. It always looked so easy and fun to me when I watch people spin. It was not easy. Or fun. It was a bit hot out in the sun. The wheel was a bit small for me. I could not get it to go for me. But I will keep trying!

Susan is the sweet lady who I got my Alpacas from. She had been spinning the whole morning. When she was plying her 2 yarns together, I thought I might be able to do that. So she let me try. And it was so much easier to do for me. And I loved her wheel. So much easier to use than the little wheel. So I got to ply yarn. For the first time. It was fun! I enjoyed the whole day.

I did a little shopping too while I was there. Got a beautiful hand made spoon. There is a family who comes and makes sorghum. Horses and all. They cook the syrup right there too. I love this sorghum and get some every year. There is also a man who makes the best muskidine juice ever. He has red or white. I love the white. Tastes just like a fresh muskidine. Plus the corn meal. That's all.

They are sitting on the porch of the mill. Inside in the back room is this huge old carding machine. Only 3 of them in the country. It's huge!

This tells about it. I would have loved to see it in action. Can you imagine how much wool this machine could crank out at a time?

                     It's a beautiful machine even now. All the wooden parts and metal. So pretty.

SO, when I got home, I brought my great grand mother Katheryn's spinning wheel out of the bedroom. Cleaned her up. Sat down and tried to spin some roving I've had forever. Just to try it out. It's a beautiful wheel. If it works, I will just use it instead of buying a new one and save $700. I will buy a big carder instead. Sounds good to me.

I have to say how smart my husband is. I told him about the little tiny tool Tia used to get the thread through the little tiny shaft. He told me to use a crochet hook. The man is brilliant! I got my smallest hook and it works perfectly!

So, while I was trying to spin, it wasn't going onto the bobbin. I know I need to get some new ones, because some of them are broken. But as he was watching, he said the bobbin shouldn't be turning, that's why the wool wasn't going around on it. But I clicked on some Youtube and watched as some people were spinning and the bobbin does goes around.

I am going to load her up and take her to Polly at the book and yarn store downtown this morning. She'll be able to figure it out. And order new bobbins and all. But I am anxious to be spinning!

I have all this wool that needs to be made into something. Susan brought me a pound of Alpaca wool to trade for some plantain salve. It washed up so pretty. And I've been carding it as I sit doing nothing. It's wonderful and SO soft compared to the sheep's wool. But I really do want a big hand crank carder.

I also have my great grand mother's Lazy ( I can't ever remember what it's called but remember Lazy) thing and it has 3 bobbins on it. With some of her yarn still on it. I need to get more bobbins for that too. So I am all excited to be carding and spinning and knitting all this wool into nice warm cozy things to wear this cold winter! I know I'm going to knit a hat for me and my husband first.

So what are y'all knitting?

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Squirrel hunters

 Lately, I have been seeing a LOT of squirrels around here. I mean a LOT of them. In my yard too! They are stealing all the pecans. I don't like squirrels.

So this morning, there were a few out in the chicken yard. I let Bubba and Stella go chase them. They went up this tree. I thought the dogs were going up after them! They won't go in the yard where the dogs are now. And the dogs can't get into most of the fenced areas. The squirrels know this.

They also know the cats won't mess with them. This is why. I have 5 more of these lazy animals too.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Oreo cookies

Husband just called. He said a friend of his had called him and told him he'd heard something about how an Oreo cookie will make you feel good. It has the same effect as opium on the brain. Something like that anyway. He said I need to get a pack of Oreo cookies and when I'm feeling mad or depressed or down, eat a few.  Sounds good to me! I don't need to be told twice to eat an Oreo cookie! So while I'm out today, I'm going to pick up a few packs of them.

 I'll give some to Mrs. T. Maybe that'll make her feel a little happier. Maybe give her a reason to live a little longer.

Then when I'm in a line, waiting, and see everyone getting annoyed at having to wait, I'll pass around Oreo cookies. See what happens.

 Maybe while in a traffic jam, get out and pass out Oreo cookies to all the other drivers. See what happens.

This could be the answer to world peace. I could go to Washington. Pass out Oreo cookies to all the Senators and congressmen and Representatives as they are going in to solve the world's problems. See what happens.

This could go on and on. There are so many possibilities here.

Now the only problem will be if they run out of Oreo cookies. Or milk.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Buttercup lamb

Buttercup. She's a scrappy little gal. She was really sick a few months ago. Not anymore. She's growing like a weed and fat as a pig. And she will not back down when it comes to her breakfast! She will fight for it. And she's usually got her own pan. If someone bigger comes around, she will stand her ground to the end. She's a fighter. I like that. She'll be a good ewe and hopefully a great mother some day.

Some pretty fall leaves I was playing around with the other day. I just love fall.

My favorite fall book is by Leo Bascaglia called The Fall of Freddie The Leaf. You have to find this book and read it. It'll change the way you see leaves. Beautifully written book. I love that love that man.

It's been really warm here. I can't seem to get cool enough. I have turned my AC back on to around 70 just to get cold. I am really tired of sweating! Are we even going to have a cool fall? Or a cold winter? I don't know. The way it looks right now, I doubt it.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Carding wool. And some other stuff.

I love this picture of Misha. I wish I could have taken more time with it and gotten a better shot. But taking pictures of moving animals is not easy. He is so gorgeous. He wouldn't come eat without his brother. Sugar Baby was way out at the fence. So I waited til they were both at the feeder to give them their feed. I've been a little worried about Misha, since he was gelded 1 1/2 weeks ago. His right side is still swollen. So the past 2 days, he's let me lift his tail to spray it. He still kicks but doesn't try to get away.

Here is my first attempt at carding Lucinda's wool after washing yesterday. It's really fine and so soft. But this could take a long time! I brought the rest of the damp wool in and put it in the side porch to finish drying. And I still have half a pillow case full to wash. Plus the table is full of drying wool. And this box is half full. I'm going to check on electric carders to see if that would be something I can afford to get. I know I am going to be getting a portable spinning wheel.

This morning's picture of the garden. The kale and collards are growing good now. That brown row to the far right is the onions I planted Sat. Sweet and multiplying.  I water with my well water and had it on Sat evening to water the garden.  If I go inside, I forget it's on. And I did. It was on all night. But it's a well, so there's not that much water in it. It was completely out of water for a few days. And that's what I use to water the animals. But this morning, it was filled back up. I need to write me a note from now on!

Saturday, before mowing down most of the garden, I picked all the peppers. I cut up all the bell peppers and put them in the freezer. I love the colors. And the red ones are SO good!

Then with the jalapeno peppers, I made jelly. It was interesting, to say the least. I have had pepper jelly that a friend makes and I love it! She makes mild and hot. I like the mild. It still has a little kick to it. Just right for me. So I found a recipe and got everything together. I used gloves of course. But hate gloves. I can't feel anything and it makes it hard for me. Anyway, I could hardly breathe while I was cutting and blending the peppers. Then cooking them! And I got exactly 5 jars full. Isn't this pretty? I'll wait awhile to try it. But I did lick the spoon, on accident! I always do that to taste the jelly. I'll have to remember NOT to do that when making hot pepper jelly!