30 August 2007

Blue Mittens, as requested

My sister asked for a picture of the county-fair-ribbon-winning blue mitts, so here it is!

A pair of mitts made from loosely spun singles, done on the drop spindle from commercially prepared (and beautifully dyed!) roving - a gift from my very cool aunt in Ontario. :)

They are too small for me, but fit The Boy perfectly. They're his for the winter ... which is coming much too soon!

The Reluctant Farmer gets serious about construction

The Reluctant Farmer has gotten serious about construction!

This is his new toy. :)

Okay, it's not a toy, it's a skid steer. It has a smooth bucket for scooping and dumping gravel (the current task), a bucket with teeth for moving dirt (another of the upcoming tasks), and forks (which will be perfect for moving round bales of hay).

The smooth bucket will also work for clearing snow from the driveway.
How did this manage to show up at Apple Jack Creek? Well, a neighbour recommended someone nearby who had digging equipment that could clear out the muck and mud from around the foundation. Digger Man cleared away the muck and mentioned that he just happened to have a skid steer for sale ... so The Reluctant Farmer and our Contractor Guy went to check it out. The next day, this sweet little John Deere was delivered and immediately put to work.

Construction has made some substantial progress in the last few weeks. The moat has been drained, the sticky membrane attached to the foundation, and weeping tile put in place. The inspector was out today, and is happy with what he sees, so we are good to go.

19 August 2007

Fibre successes at the fair

I entered this picture in the "Photograph of a hobby or collection" category and won second place:

I also entered a pair of mittens made from the blue roving my aunt sent me, spun up on the drop spindle into loose singles then knitted into mitts. They took third place, after two very beautiful pair of patterend mitts. That was exciting!

Best of all, though, was the entry in the "general crafts" category (the catch-all 'stuff that doesn't fit anywhere else' grouping). I entered a skein of yarn spun from Brownie's fleece (hand shorn, carded, spun, plied and washed!) and it took ... first place! How exciting!

The Reluctant Farmer wins a ribbon at the fair

The Reluctant Farmer entered his first fair competition today, and he won a third place ribbon!

He entered this photograph in the "Volunteers at work" category. It was titled, "The Dads, house construction volunteers".

A weekend at the county fair

This weekend was our local county fair, and this year was the first year we could really participate in the events.

Friday night is the big Tractor Pull - which I haven't ever actually seen, as that night our 4-H club works the concession booth. It's one of our best fundraising events, and wow, were we ever busy this year! I managed to pause long enough to drink one can of pop between 5:30 and 11:00, when we finally shut the doors. What a great night!

The Reluctant Farmer brought Princess Girl and Dinosaur Boy to the fair, and we all spent Friday night in the motorhome on the fairgrounds. It wasn't really a *quiet* evening, but we did eventually all get to sleep, and we were ready for the parade in the morning. The kids think the parade is just wonderful, as at the country parade the people throw candy to the spectators. This isn't done in the city anymore, as it is deemed a liability ... but in the country you can still have this kind of old-fashioned fun. There were people on horses, miniature donkeys, and kids on bikes ... and a tired, costumed goat that was handed off to me as he was too worn out to finish the route!

Saturday afternoon The Reluctant Farmer and his kids headed back to the city for one last trip to their old house. This weekend marks the beginning of our new combined family: the house in the city passes to it's new owner on Tuesday, and our transition to one household is just about complete. Of course, it'll all be much more comfortable once the addition is finished, but in the interim, many of The Reluctant Farmer's things are in storage, and we will manage to fit everyone into the house and motorhome until construction is complete.

Back at the fair, The Boy and I were busy with the pet show Saturday afternoon. I volunteered for handing out prizes and getting the kids and their pets into the ring, and The Boy showed his various animals. My favourite category this year was the "pet and owner lookalike" competition: there were two girls with their pet cats, and The Boy and Duggan, our beagle. The Boy told the judge, "I have short hair, he has short hair. I have big ears, he has big ears. I'm dirty, he's dirty!" Apparently the judge agreed, and The Boy took first prize in that category. :) His pet bunny also won first place, and he received a wonderful package of bunny treats from one of the show sponsors.

We didn't have many entrants in the sheep show, just The Boy and I - meaning we were competing against each other! I showed Cola, one of the last set of lambs born here this year (the one with one black ear). The Boy showed his 4-H lamb, Cherub, and the judge placed Cola first and Cherub second. I was really excited to win a ribbon: The Boy gets to compete all the time in 4-H events, but this was my very first time showing a sheep, and I took first place! Okay, so I was only competing against my own kid (who took second, yay!) but still.

The last event of the fair was the bench show. There are a wide variety of categories to enter: everthing from flower arrangements and vegetables from your garden to artwork done in class and photographs. We entered in every category we could think of, just for the fun of it all!
A dozen of our free range farm eggs won second place! That was eggciting. :)

The Boy brought home a first place ribbon for some artwork he did at school, and a grand total of four second place ribbons and six third place ribbons! His photograph of Gram Picking Berries was one of his third place winners ...

and his photo of Little Red took second place:

The winter scene that The Boy photographed for Grandpa was a third place winner, too:

13 August 2007

Country Fair Season

It's country fair season!

This past weekend, The Reluctant Farmer & I were at a friend's wedding (a beautiful ceremony followed by an amazing feast - which is what you get with a Ukrainian bride and a German groom - and an evening of dancing that my feet are still recovering from). While we were off at the wedding, The Boy went to Gram and Grandpa's house and entered his crafts in the local fair.
His crafts brought home some ribbons: participation for his artwork from school, second place for the Christmas stocking he sewed at a 4-H event, and first place for his birdhouse!

Our local fair is this weekend, and we'll be entering a few things there ... further bulletins after the results are in!

09 August 2007

What a fibre addict does when she has an evening to herself

I was all alone the other night, so I sat down and skirted a fleece.

Translator's note: 'skirting' a fleece means getting the yukky bits off - pulling the straw and hay and burrs and seeds and yukky wool out, and leaving just the nice clean stuff behind.

I am sending some of the fleeces out to be processed, and the mill will be happier (and able to produce a better finished product) if the worst of the mess is cleaned up before I send the wool to them.

For this job, I sat on a stool in the living room with a bag of sheep fleece dumped on the floor in a pile. I pulled lap-sized chunks of fleece from the pile, shook them to get anything loose to fall off, then removed smaller-things-that-weren't-wool by hand. I put the very best and cleanest wool into a box: this wool I'll process by hand, meaning I will card it on my hand carders, spin it (I like to spin 'in the grease', meaning before washing the natural lanolin out of the wool - it makes your hands really soft - and then wash the finished yarn). The "mostly clean" wool went into a box to go to the mill, and the yukkiest bits went into a pile that'll end up on the compost heap. It actually was a fairly pleasant experience: I listened to an audio book while I did it. When I finished, I hand carded some of the nice stuff and started spinning.

In fact, I think I'm gonna go clean another fleece tonight - I have a new audiobook on the go, and this is one of my last nights all alone in the house: The Boy is at summer camp, and the Reluctant Farmer is home in the city. In another week and a half or so, The Reluctant Farmer will be here full time, and Princess Girl and Dinosaur Boy too! It'll be nice to be closer to being settled, but the interim period (while the addition is still under construction and everyone is making do with the smaller space) will be ... interesting.

Yup, I'm gonna go clean fibre and enjoy the peace and quiet ... while it lasts. :)