25 June 2007

From fibre to mitten

Remember that pretty blue roving my aunt sent me from Michigan?

It's now a very soft, very pretty ocean coloured mitten.

I am currently in the process of spinning up some more yarn so I can make the other one!

A new sheep, kinda

The Boy had a field trip today to the local historical museum, and brought me a souvenir.
(It's a little bar of soap, shaped like a sheep with a happy little smile.)

20 June 2007

Hot, then rainy, then hot, then rainy

The weather is doing it's usual early summer mish mash of hot days followed by thundershowers every evening.

The grass is gorgeous - knee high in the central pasture (we have *got* to finish the perimiter fencing and get the sheep in there, it's getting out of hand!) and everything is beautifully green.

However, the area around the base of the addition is filled with standing water and boot-sucking clay mud. We need a week of hot dry weather to even begin drying it out so that the weeping tile can be put in place.

Ah well, at least the subfloor is on and the sump pump installed so the interior is staying more or less dry.

14 June 2007

Concrete & Subfloor

The concrete is in and the subfloor started!

There'll be something of a lag while we wait for plans to be completed and lumber ordered and all that stuff, but pretty soon here we'll have a closed in basement.
Neat, eh?

09 June 2007

Achievement Day

At the end of the 4H season, kids with sheep and cattle show them at a big event known as "Achievement Day". The animals are shown in the ring (for those of you who haven't been to a livestock show, it's sort of like what happens at a dog show, only with bigger animals) and the kids are judged on the quality of the animal and on their showmanship skills.

Achievement Day is a big deal, starting the day before with preparation of the sheep for the show. The Boy spent several hours grooming his market lamb: you need to trim the fleece short so that the judge can see what's under there, otherwise it's like a bodybuilder competing in a big wool coat! This is a tough job involving hand shears and carders, but boy oh boy did that lamb look good when it was done!

His breeding ewe is being shown partially for her fleece (since we have a wool flock) so she didn't get as much trimming. It was a long hot afternoon for The Boy, but his animals looked great when he was done.

Monday morning we loaded sheep, kid, and supplies into the truck and headed to the fair grounds. Animals get unloaded into pens, then weighed, and then the waiting begins. The day is very long: we arrive at 7:30, do weigh-in around 9:00, then there's a starting parade at 10:00. There are so many animals to show that it can take a long time for your turn to arrive.

The Boy and his sheep did really well: his ewe lamb took third place (out of only three sheep, but they were very close) and he took third place in showmanship (out of seven kids) which was excellent considering this is the first time he's done anything like this. He was very pleased with the results and had a great time during the day. In the evening all the market lambs are sold at auction: his lamb was the lightest one there, weighing in at about half the size of the heaviest one! Still, he got $1.90/lb, which is quite respectable: the champion lamb sold for $2.25 and the average price at the auction for lamb was around $1.60. Some of the kids have a really hard time saying goodbye to their market animals, but The Boy handled it all very well. I think it stings a bit less when you have other sheep to go home to - lots of these kids purchase a lamb in January, raise it and play with it for a few months, then have to send it off to the butcher and go home to an empty sheep pen. Here, we have others to come home to, and his ewe lamb will be an ongoing project for the next two years.

03 June 2007

Union Guy gets a new name

As of today, Union Guy will be known as The Reluctant Farmer.

Why, you ask?

Because he has decided to become a permanent part of the Apple Jack Creek crew ... against what he frequently says is his better judgement. (I presume he's at least partly joking...)

Union Guy has two kids and a house in the city. His kids live with him half of the time, and the other half of the time they're with their mom. Union Guy and the kids' mom all get along quite well, and it seemed that the best plan was for everyone to stay in close physical proximity for the long term - school and extracurricular activities are a lot easier to arrange when everyone lives in the same neighbourhood (or at least neighbouring neighbourhoods).

This all made perfect sense.

Then, housing prices went through the roof.

Suddenly, The Reluctant Farmer's house in the city was worth close to twice what he paid for it. He could build an addition onto this house with the cash proceeds from his house sale, and be mortgage free. The costs of shuttling kids back and forth to town for school and soccer and swimming lessons would be nothing compared to the increased property taxes in town.

Besides, much as he hates to admit it, he misses me when he only gets to see me on weekends. With the cost of fuel being what it is, midweek trips stopped being economically viable quite awhile back, and although we are quite adept at virtual communication, it's just not the same as hangin' out in the same place.

We'd already determined some time ago that our partnership is a permanent arrangement, and it'll be appropriately formalized in the near future (stay tuned for details on that adventure).

A little while back the work on the addition to the house started:

This lovely pit will someday soon contain the foundation of a 1,000 sq foot addition housing three bedrooms, a bathroom, an extra kitchen and a living room. With a full basement for play space and media, we'll feel like we are living in the lap of luxury.

Stay tuned for updates on the next phase of construction at Apple Jack Creek!