Thursday, May 31, 2012

Slow Living: May 2012

Today I share my fourth installment for the Slow Living Project.  :-)

NOURISH: Make and bake as much as possible from scratch. Ditch overpackaged, over-processed convenience foods and opt for 'real' food instead. Share favourite links/recipes/tips from the month here.

I am very lucky that Hubba does most of the cooking in our household.  He makes sure that I am well fed and he loves a Farmer's Market perhaps even more than I do.  So he trekked over to the Boulder Farmer's Market for Mother's Day produce and then together we made a yummy meal of grilled lamb, asparagus, sweet potatoes and salad for my mom.  Then our local Farmer's Market opened a week later.

I've had a lull in my yoga practice.  The studio is moving and shearing season is winding down, so I suspect I'll be back on track shortly.  :-)

PREPARE: Stockpile and preserve. Freeze extra meals or excess garden/market produce. Bottle/can, dehydrate or pickle foods to enjoy when they are not in season. Aim to reduce dependency on store bought items especially those known to contain BPA and other suspect additives. Stocking up on dry goods when prices are low counts too.

I met a local Cattle Shearer at the feed store earlier this month.  We use the same equipment and he has the sharpening equipment for the combs and cutters... which means I may no longer have to send my combs and cutters out of state for sharpening... I need to give him a call and set that up.

REDUCE/Reuse/Re-purpose/Repair: Cut down on household waste by re-using, re-purposing and repairing. A ladder into a strawberry planter? A sheet into a dress? Share ideas and project links here, allowing others to be inspired.

Hubba finished pulling out the old T-Posts that were used in a previous owner's electric fence and I took a few to build a climbing structure with some used baling twine for the impending peas and beans.

I'm also experimenting with goldfish and snails in our alpacas' water troughs.  The theory is that they will eat the algae and I won't have to scrub out the troughs as often, and therefore won't waste as much water.

GREEN: up our lives. Start (or continue!) using homemade cleaners, body products and basic herbal remedies. The options are endless, the savings huge and the health benefits enormous.

I have been talking with some of my shearing clients about donating fiber to Matter of Trust to help in oil spill cleanup.  Especially when they feel the fiber we are shearing is not usable for their own pursuits.

GROW: plant/harvest. What's growing this month? What's being eaten from the garden? Herbs in a pot, sprouts on a windowsill or and entire fruit/vegetable garden -opt for what fits space and time constraints. Don't have a backyard? Ask a friendly neighbour or relative for a small patch of theirs in return for some home grown produce, they may surprise you!

I wasn't sure it was going to happen, but I started and finished planting our garden.  :-)  It feels so good to have the plants in the ground.

Also our apple, cherry and plum trees have fruit on them.  The cherries are just starting to change color.  :-)

CREATE: to fill a need or feed the soul. Create for ourselves or for others. Create something as simple as a handmade gift tag or something as extravagant as a fine knit shawl. Share project details and any new skills learnt here.

Somehow, in the midst of the crazy day job, shearing season and website work, I managed to knit a few rounds and spin a few inches.

DISCOVER: Feed the mind by reading texts relevant to current interests. Trawl libraries, second hand shops or local book shops to find titles that fill the need. Share titles/authors of what is being read this month.

Being an Alpaca and Llama Shearer means I am able to visit other farms and learn something about their methods and tools that I can pass on to other breeders or incorporate myself.

But one of the biggest perks of being a shearer is that I see a lot of animals up close.  I have my hands in their fleece and get to know a lot about their personality during the shearing process.  This especially means I can see herdsires and their offspring.  Which means I have added three possible herdsires to my breeding program.  One is a Junior (unproven) who I will definitely use.  The other two, I would like to use but need to check into their ancestry before I make any further decisions.

ENHANCE: community: Possibilities include supporting local growers and producers, help out at a local school/kindergarten, barter or foodswap, joining a playgroup or forming a walking or craft group. Car pooling where possible and biking/walking instead of driving. Even start up a blog if you haven't already - online communities count too! Or maybe just help out someone trying to cross the street! The rewards for your time are often returned tenfold.

Hubba's car gave up the ghost in March... just a few thousand miles short of 200,000.  He loved that car and was trying to get every last bit out of it.

We had been going back and forth between donating and repairing.  So with it officially dead, we donated it to Colorado Public Radio.  They hauled it away for us and will be selling it for parts at auction.  RIP dear Saab.  You were a good car.

Also I was given the Liebster Award by City Garden Country Garden, who I met through this Slow Living Community and shared it with a few smaller blogs that I very much enjoy.

ENJOY: Life! Embrace moments with friends and family. Marking the seasons, celebrations and new arrivals are all cause for enjoyment. Share a moment to be remembered from the month here.

While I have been a tiny bit too busy this past month.  Much of it has been outside working with alpacas, llamas and their people.  Which is really one of my favorite things to be doing.

Have a great month... and if you're thinking about joining in, please do.  :-)

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Veggies are all Planted

My garden is fully planted!!  :-D

I did not get some things in the ground (potatoes).  I did not plant nearly enough chiles (no room).  I somehow bought more than one watermelon... I'm not a fan of watermelon.  It's a good thing Hubba likes watermelon.

The chiles, herbs, tomatoes and a few others were planted as seedlings.  Everything else will be growing from seed.  I'm certain I planted the seeds too close together, but I feel good about the row spacing.  Some of the seed packets may have been around for a while.  Do seeds have an expiration date?

A lot of the plants are first-timers for me, but they are all clearly labeled.

I even marked the seed rows with used baling twine.  :-)

  • Chiles
    • Habanero
    • Serrano
    • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Herbs
    • Rosemary
    • Common Sage
    • Sweet Basil
  • Tomatoes
    • Juliet, Roma Grape
    • Husky Cherry Red
    • Red Beef Steak
    • Roma
    • Cherokee Purple
  • Pea, Oregon Sugar Pod II
  • Snap Bean, Blue Lake Bush
  • Cucumber, Slicing
  • Squash
    • Spaghetti
    • Zucchini, Dark Green
    • Acorn, Honey Bear
    • Butternut, Waltham
    • Pie Pumpkin
  • Melons
    • Watermelon, Sugar Baby
    • Watermelon, Yellow
    • Cantaloupe, Hale's Best Jumbo
    • Honeydew, Early Dew
  • Eggplant, White
  • Artichoke, Imperial Star
  • Beets
    • Golden Detroit
    • Detroit Dark Red
    • Gourmet Blend
  • Rutabaga, American Purple Top
  • Carrots
    • Atomic Red
    • Cosmic Purple
  • Parsnips, All American
  • Radish, Early Scarlet Globe
  • Okra, Clemson Spineless
  • Brussels Sprouts, Long Island
  • Onion, Yellow
  • Sweet Corn, Golden Bantam
  • Mesclun Salad Mix
    apples about the size of a grape
We have apples, cherries and plums growing and the thyme came back from last year.

a plum that's a little bigger


Let the experiment begin.  :-)

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


I generally don't follow other blogs, or Twitter accounts or whatever just because they happen to follow me... and I don't expect it in return.

Usually I start because they've written or posted something that touched me or they've been recommended by someone I respect.

Some I follow as a trial.  Just to see if that little hint continues.  Sometimes it does, sometimes it doesn't.  Every now and then I clean out the list.  It's not a bad thing.

My advice?

Be authentic and don't worry about numbers.  It's much better to have fewer followers that feel a connection with you than a long list of people who don't.

Monday, May 28, 2012

More Planting

I have two rows left to plant.

It's always a little surprising to me how paltry a garden looks at first.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Fiber Arts Friday: Dropping Stitches

My intent was to wait to start another project until I had finished both of my Challah Socks but I keep dropping stitches while working on the gusset increases at knit night.  :-/

9 stitches on the left

and 8 stitches on the right
as well as a wonky correction a few rows back

The first time I thought maybe I had just lost track of whether I was on an increase round or not and figured I had made one increase, but not the other.  But the last time?  I absolutely remember when it happened.  :-/

So I reviewed my work with my comadres and decided it's better to have something very simple to work on at Knit Night... at least until I get past the gusset increases.

Regarding the Challah?  No worries.  I have Life Lines this time!

Happy Fiber Arts Friday.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Experimenting: Flies

I hung out the fly traps last weekend... I'm trying something different this year, by using just soapy water instead of the provided attractant.

The attractant works very well.  It's incredibly stinky and our traps filled quickly last year.  I think it was calling flies over from the dairy down the road.

We haven't had too many flies yet, so I just want to trap the ones we do have and let the dairy keep theirs.  ;-)

Also since LGDs are much larger than they were last year, I suspect it's better not to use the poison.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

In the Ground

I finally got in the dirt this weekend... :-)

My garden space had been neglected since mid-April so there were weeds that needed to be pulled.

But then I got busy.  :-)

Habenero, Serrano, Sweet Bell Pepper

Trimmed back the thyme and added rosemary and sage

It doesn't look like much happened but there are tomatoes, peas, beans,
spaghetti squash,watermelon, cantaloupe, eggplant and basil in the ground.

3 t-posts that Hubba has been pulling up and used baling twine
made a climbing structure for the beans and peas.

I still have a lot of seeds to plant and a few more plants to acquire, but boy it feels good to have food in the ground now.  :-)

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Opening Day

It was a cool and damp 45F this morning for opening day at the Larimer County Farmer's Market.

As far as I could tell, it didn't dampen any one's spirits and I think it's also a blessing for those working the nearby Hewlett Gulch Fire.

I really like the idea of having a booth at the market one day.  Of course at this time I don't have anything planted and have no idea about the regulations or what licenses might be required to sell our produce.  But I am sure glad that other folks are on top of this.  :-)

Friday, May 18, 2012

Fiber Arts Friday: Maplecroft Corriedale

Last September I visited a friend of my parents.  I didn't get the post out but I enjoyed meeting this local fiber artist/sheep rancher/gardener.

She showed us around her place and introduced us to some of her ladies.

We bought a lamb from her earlier this year for our freezer (it's delicious) and last September I bought two samples of the lovely roving that her sheep had previously donated.  :-)

4oz Corriedale Top

4oz of Lincoln Longwool

I've (finally) started spinning the Corriedale.  This fiber is quite sproingy... especially after spinning alpaca.

In other news: a reporter from The Greeley Tribune came out while we were shearing alpacas and llamas last weekend and put a few photos in Tuesday's issue.  :-)

Have a great Fiber Arts Friday.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Liebster Blog Award

It's really nice when folks leave comments and even better when they regularly leave comments.  Through the exchange back-and-forth we get a sense of knowing each other.  But it's especially lovely when someone takes the time to spell out why they like you.  So I am honored to receive the Liebster award from City Garden Country Garden.

City Garden Country Garden is based in Melbourne, Australia and is fortunate to have two gardens to play in... as her name suggests there is a small city garden and a much larger country garden.  Of course we've never actually met and I can't say I know her real name, but I feel a kinship.  We are both pursuing our second year garden in our current locations and learning as we go.  I suspect I'll learn a lot from her as she is embarking upon winter gardening, and I have never even tried it before.

The rules for the Liebster Award are:
  • Choose 5 up-and-coming blogs with less than 200 followers to share the love with
  • Show your appreciation to the blogger who awarded you by linking back to them
  • Post the award on your blog
  • Link back to the blogs you are awarding so that everyone else can pay them a visit
These are the blogs I would like to pass the Liebster Award on to:

AC Engineered Knits - she's a knitter, an engineer, a PhD candidate and dog lover.  I'm not entirely sure when or where I came across this blog, but I love it and her sense of humor.  Especially when she posts her "angry" or "frustrated" faces.  They always crack me up.

Wattsolak - knitter, dyer and brilliant toy designer.  Also a good friend of my sister, who decided that the two of us needed to know each other.  I wish we were able to spend time together.

Knit 1, Raised 4 - a relatively new blog to me.  A couple reinventing themselves as farmers, much like we are.  I love her simple approach and beautiful photos.

Remembrances - also a newer blog to me.  She's a potter, fiber artist and gardener who is embarking upon an Eat Something She Grows Everyday challenge, which is intriguing to me since Ontario, Canada is much further north than Colorado.

Serendipitous Intentions - there are some blogs that you just anxiously await their next post.  This is one such blog.  I believe she is able to find beauty anywhere.

If you are unaware of any of these blogs, I hope you take the time to check them out.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Simple Satisfaction

There's a simple satisfaction with hanging hand-knit socks out to dry on our repaired clothesline after several cold and rainy days.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Fiber Arts Friday: Slowly but Surely

Now that it's shearing season, my progress continues to be slow on my Challah Socks... but there is progress.  See, it now has TWO life lines.  :-)

I had four shearing clients over the weekend.  This was my first time having multiple clients in the same day.  I am happy to say I was on time for all of my clients.  But now I certainly understand why the utility folks will only give appointment windows rather than specific times since both of my afternoon clients took longer than expected.

One of my clients was a family not too far from our house.  They have only one alpaca who was given to them after his best alpaca buddy was killed by a coyote.  So he was an only alpaca who had not had any grooming for at least two years.  The family got him a donkey (who was also a rescue) for a best friend.  And the two of them are very much besties.  When we brought Graham out for shearing, the donkey brayed for his friend.  I could not stop laughing until he finally decided we were not hurting Graham and went on to do whatever donkeys do.

We then got Graham ready for shearing and the mom started joking with the daughters about how I could give him a poodle cut... well, next thing I know they decided he needed a Mohawk and their mom agreed.

photo courtesy of Graham's family

Have a great Fiber Arts Friday!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Fiber Arts Friday: Shearing Day, 2012

We sheared our alpacas last weekend!

We have also been working on a website re-do for the farm so the developer came out and shot video of shearing day.  The footage will become a bit of a commercial for me as a shearer.  The Go Live Date is a little ways off, so stay tuned.  :-D

Everyone is highly caffeinated, including The Fiber Fool.
Cuz that's how we roll on the Alpacamundo farm.

Also my friend Kristi, the Fiber Fool, of Challah sock fame, came out and took photos.... I just love her perspective.  So you will be seeing her photos on our new and improved website too.

It was a great day, made possible by some great friends and family... including most of the photos below that D kindly took for me with my POS P&S camera.

I have no idea why I'm laughing, but we did a lot if it on Saturday.

A freshly shorn blanket.
A little de-wormer.
The alpacas almost always want spa day to continue.
Then a good shake
... and on to another

The  boys grow fighting teeth that we trim off.
This keeps them from  turning each other into geldings.
Also their incisors can grow quite long so they
need to be trimmed periodically.

Chivalry looking very handsome with Clementine and Big Thompson. 
Some pretty looking girls with Daisy in the front.
The 2012 Harvest!
There are 13 fleeces (3 bags each) crammed under that counter.

Since it's shearing season around these parts, you might see more nekkid animals if you head over to Wisdom Begins in Wonder and check in on the lovely fiberistas.  If your not interested in nekkid animals, there will most certainly be other fibery-goodness to be seen as well.

Have a great Fiber Arts Friday!  I start shearing client alpacas and llamas tomorrow!