Thursday, September 30, 2010

One Small Change: Putting Up Fruit, part 2

This last month has been quite fun... my goal was to learn how to put up apples since we have an apple tree on our new place.

I have made and canned apple butter and apple sauce and frozen apple slices.

Initially I was unsure how to execute the canning process.  The instructions that came with the jars said to follow the instructions in the recipe and the recipes said to follow the instructions that came with the jars.  So my first attempt did not result in sealed jars.  Fortunately it was a small batch of apple butter and we had a few people willing to eat it up.  :-)

Eventually, I found this website with canning instructions and everything moved smoothly after that.

While working on my third batch, I realized I was reading the kilogram scale rather than the pound scale, so my sauce and butters are a little tart.  :-)

My brother-in-law and neighbors also gifted us a bunch of summer squash and tomatoes which I combined with our green chile and turned into calabacitas.

We have a few more squash, quite a lot of apples still on the tree and another huge bag of apples some friends gave us, so I will continue freezing and canning into October.

Regarding my garden: again I have not made progress.  We realized there is a cable coming down from a utility pole that goes underground to our neighbor's house and one of our out buildings.  So I will be calling to have all of the utilities marked before we do any digging.

One Small Change

Monday, September 27, 2010


Being able to spend quiet, technology-free time with the people you love is a blessing.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Hay is In

Ready for Hay to be Delivered


130 bales of Grass Hay and Alfalfa Stacked for Winter

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Spinning Camel and Silk

Oh my gosh... I spun a tiny bit of a Camel/Tussah Silk roving today. 

I picked it up at the Estes Park Wool Market earlier this year. It was so soft and the color was amazing so I had to bring it home.

All I can say is... Wowza! It's like spinning silver.

Thoughts on Garden Hoses

There are two basic rules for purchasing garden hoses.

1.  No matter what length you buy, it will be at least 10 feet too short.
2.  You get what you pay for.

The combination of rule #1 and the fact that we do not have a sprinkler system or water to our corrals means I have three instances of no less than two garden hoses linked together.  Which means with all of the garden hose buying I was doing this past spring and summer, I started trying to save a few dollars.

The most recent, and coincidentally the least expense garden hose I purchased is the perfect example of rule #2.  It stretches when I drag it around the property.  It stretches and stretches but will not move until I give up and go pick it up in the center.  It kinks up instantaneously and continues to kink as I release existing kinks.  If it's possible to hate an inanimate object, I hate this hose.  Then last weekend, I noticed this...

The hose will have a big hole in it very soon.  I've had it about four months, which does not make a very smart purchase, in my opinion.

So from now on, I will be purchasing those heavy duty black rubber hoses.  I have a couple.  They are definitely worth the few extra dollars.  They are easy to drag around the property and they never kink up.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The New Barn Cat aka Happy Caturday

We had a cat when we moved to our place last year.  She was primarily an outdoor cat, but slept inside at night and kept my lap warm in the winter.  Sadly, we lost her to the food chain in April and have been kittie-less ever since.  Which has been ok, except;
  • We live on a farm, so we have a hay barn.
  • Having a hay barn, means we have mice.
  • Being kittie-less for quite some time, means we have fat mice in the hay barn.
The alpaca dog would like to catch the mice, but he's just not quick or silent enough.

I've only seen a couple of mice this summer, but with the weather cooling off, I suspect we'll have a large migration of mice into the hay barn if we don't do something about it soon.  Having an excess of mice leads to an excess of mouse droppings which can lead to Hantavirus and the Plague.  Which means I have been thinking quite seriously about replacing our cat for a while.

So yesterday, when I was visiting a nearby alpaca farm I spied 5 or 6 young kittens in the brush.  I asked the owner if she was going to be keeping all of them.  She told me about the cats, how she got them and that she had a few older ones she definitely wanted to let go.

I told her I would be interested in one or two, but needed to speak with Hubba and pick up supplies.

I think she was very excited to get rid of a couple, because she emailed me late last night saying her granddaughters had caught two of them and they were waiting in her office for me to fetch them.  :-)

Hubba agreed to one cat with two stipulations: (1) it will not come in the house and (2) it will not have a name.

So, here is the newest addition to the Alpacamundo farm... The Barn Cat.

He's quick.  Quick like a cat.  So all the photos look like this one.  But I did finally get a decent one...

He's about 6 months old, is an accomplished mouser, likes alpacas, big dogs and people.  He has some seriously big feet, so I think he'll end up being a big boy.  For some reason, I really want to call him Bruce...

Updated: One of my favorite blogs has a Saturday feature called Happy Caturday, so I updated the title of this post... since it is indeed a Happy Caturday. :-)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Fiber Arts Friday: BFF Hat, part 2

I finally finished the body of my Plumber Sweater, so I have been able to focus on my BFF Hat for the last couple of weeks.  :-)

I am just about ready to begin decreasing.

I will have to spend a little more time planning the decreases to ensure I maintain the basketweave pattern.

Then I will have to decided if I need more stitch holders or more #2 dpns... My dpn's are busy with a snoozing baby bootie.  I can't free them up because my stitch holders are busy with the plumber sweater.  Or, I suppose I could use scrap yarn (aka dental floss) to hold the stitches on the baby bootie.  Hmmm...

While I ponder this decision, please take a look at the other amazing stuff people are sharing for Fiber Arts Friday over at the Blog of Wonder.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Good and Bad

Typically I'm a half-full sort of person, but I'm feeling melancholy this week.

Even with the joy of Apple being born last week and the anticipation of our next cria, I'm sad.

In the last two weeks there have been (and still are) two major forest fires in my locale, we've lost someone special and I'm away from home.

The good news is that one fire is fully contained, they are making progress on the second, I will be able to see my friend at the memorial service, and being away from home has me working on something exciting.

Yes, my glass is more empty than full this week, but writing this post fills it up a bit.  :-)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Potty Training

As an alpaca breeder, I often tell my friends that one of the big benefits of raising alpacas over other livestock is that they use a community poop pile.

It's true, all of the alpacas eliminate in the same place.  They even wait their turn if the pile is "occupied."  Alpacas are very polite.

It turns out another benefit to raising alpacas is the speed of potty training.

On the first day, Apple was eliminating where ever she happened to be.  I was just happy that all of her bodily functions were working properly.  But I noticed her mom give one of those mom looks.  I decided to take note of how long it would take for Apple to conform to the group norm.

On the second day, Apple was attempting to use the pile.  She completely missed it, but was in the general area.

On days three and four her aim was still a little off and she hadn't entirely got the idea of waiting her turn, but she was doing better every time.

Yesterday, day five, I observed her hit the pile and wait her turn.

Yes, speed of potty-trained is definitely a benefit to raising alpacas.

Friday, September 10, 2010


I don't know much about Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's Disease, but I do know that it's horrible.

One of my very favorite people on earth lost one of her very favorite people on earth to ALS this morning.

It was several weeks of not knowing what was going on and insisting on more tests when the hospital wanted to send her home.  Finally a transfer to the Mayo Clinic in Phoenix and the grim diagnosis.  Now less than three months later, my friend and her family are figuring out how to move forward without their rock.

It makes my heart break that I'm not there to help her.

Fiber Arts Friday: Boy Beanie

The London Beanie is a simple hat pattern.  One that I've used at least a dozen times over the last two years.

It was the second hat pattern I ever tried.  I had trouble with it at first.  I was a new knitter and made a lot of mistakes.  Most notably, I would have the stitches twisted when I joined the cast on to begin knitting in the round.  Often I wouldn't figure out what was going on until I had knit two or three rounds.  Eventually I got to the point to where I knew what the cast on should look like before I joined and now it's almost second nature.  My joins are never twisted anymore.  :-)

The other mistake I would make was loosing count on the stitch pattern for the hat band.  Yes, K2, P1 is a very easy pattern, but I was still learning what these stitches looked like and lost count.  A lot.

I kept track of every round on a scrap of paper and wouldn't let my husband speak to me until I reached the end of the round.  My most popular response to any question became, "As soon as I finish this row."

(of course I meant round, I've since learned that round is for knitting in the round and row is for knitting flat)

I remember Hubba saying something to me about how his grandmother never kept track of what she was knitting like I was doing.  I told him certainly she was better at it that I was.

Now a couple of years later, I do keep track of rows/rounds for more complicated patterns.  But in the case of this London Beanie, I reviewed the pattern, set a couple of milestones and just knit the whole hat in a several hours over a week.

I've come a long way baby.  ;-)

Be sure to check out what everyone else is doing for Fiber Arts Friday over at the Wonder Why Blog.

PS: I gave the Boy Beanie and Two Hats for Twin Girls to our friends when they came over to meet Apple earlier this week.  He was very excited about the hat, and his parents were very appreciative.  Which makes me very happy... It's fun to give home made gifts to people who enjoy them.  :-)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Alpacamundo's Apple

Our first cria watch has come to an end.  :-)

Keyla was due on Labor Day, September 6th.  We've been watching her behavior closely and checking her for signs of impending birth for the last few weeks.

Monday morning (Labor Day), I checked on the girls, made some coffee and settled in with Hubba for a relaxing morning.  I got up for a second cup of coffee and noticed all of the girls were gathered around, sniffing at something in the corral.  It took a few seconds for me to realize it was a freshly born cria.

We ran outside in our jammies, to make sure the cria was ok.  She was wet, dirty and trying to get up on her sternum.  I think we literally just missed the birth.

I went inside to put on some proper barn clothes and gather my wits.  By the time I got back to the corral, she was on her sternum and holding her head up pretty well.

I spent most of the day outside, waiting for the placenta, ensuring she was nursing and just watching her progress.  It was such an exciting day.

Our new cria is a beautiful light fawn girl, daughter of Qaint Keyla and Smokey's Bandit at Pastoral Profits.  Keyla and Bandit both live on the Alpacamundo farm.

We have named her, Alpacamundo's Apple.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Fiber Arts Friday: Fiber ADD

I think this Fiber ADD is catching... I worked a on a couple of projects, started one, finished another and added three more to my to do list.

Wonder Roving:

I finished spinning the Wonder Roving (70% Suri Alpaca, 30% Merino).  I was originally thinking about using this with the Huacaya Alpaca I spun during the Tour de Fleece in a yet to be fully defined weaving.  However, I had a flash of brilliance and decided I want to use this yarn in a small project for someone I love.  So I Navajo-plied it to get a larger gauge and added it to the long list of projects I want to do.

Plumber Sweater:

I desperately wanted to finish the body of this sweater before this post, but I still have about a half-inch to go.  Once the body is done, I can start the sleeves, which will be easy to take on my trips to MSP.

BFF Hat:

I've made some progress since I cast on a couple of weeks ago.

This is a 4-stitch basket weave pattern and will take a while to finish using the #2 needles.  I think once I finish the body of the Plumber Sweater, I will be able to focus more on this project.

Boy Beanie:

When I showed the Two Hats for Twin Girls to Hubba last week, he said "Great, but what about the brother?" 

Ugh.... Yes, I know.  Gifts should be given to each of the siblings.  So, I'm about 75% complete with a cotton London Beanie for the 3 year old brother.  I think he'll like this one, because Hubba has the exact same hat in a much larger size.

As for my growing list, I think it's time I write them all down.  It's getting a little long to keep straight in my brain.

Please take some time and visit the other Fiber Arts Friday posts over at Wisdom Begins in Wonder.  In the meantime, I promise to replace my camera.  The view screen went out last weekend, so these photos are courtesy of my phone.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I want...

I want to knit all the time.

I keep finding inspiration and have a very long list of knitting projects I want to do.  If I were to have no more inspiration, I could be busy for 18 months. ;-)