Friday, April 29, 2011

Old Man Winter Take a Nap!

No, your eyes are not deceiving you, that is snow blowing by the Canadian goose.
 And no, these photos were not taken last winter but TODAY. Yup, it's snowing again. We either wake up to snow or frost and we are tired, tired, tired, of it.
 But really, how can one complain when so much of the country is struggling with the aftermath of tornadoes.
 It makes our troubles seem so miniscule in comparison.

I can envision the destruction for a tornado plowed through our little town six years or so ago. Vivid memories linger of the devastation wrought. It is unbelievable what a tornado can do.

Ninety homes were destroyed and many of the inhabitants of our little town of 1200 souls were left with psychological scars. The damage wasn't reserved for those who lost their homes. Others also felt overwhelming feelings of vulnerability. Many children were afraid to go to sleep at night and to be away from their parents.  We were faced with how easily we could be left without wordly goods.   There were those who never did findrecognizable peices of their home or possesions.

I helped out at town hall for a month, ahead of the lost and found. What I discovered was that what most people missed the most was what they couldn't replace. How can you recapture your child's first birthday or his graduation day from high school? It was an emotional month as I watched people with tears streaming down their faces as they found a photograph or two they thought was lost forever.  

Our oldest daughter and I were allowed in to photograph the destruction. It was unbelievable!!! So many more were affected this week and my heart goes out to those suffering. 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Springtime Bedtime Stories

 I do like to delve between the pages of a good espionage book before falling to sleep at night. It satisfies my thirst to learn and the pace is intrigueuingly fast. But, this past week, I've been reading The Vegetable Gardener's Bible before the Sand Man checks in on me. This is a good book!! It is for gardeners up north in cooler climates. And as much as it has stirred my little brain you'd think I'd be dreaming about gardening. Well, maybe I am but I can't remember any of them. The only dream that has stuck with me is the one where I lost our youngest grand daughter. I hate those kind. How come they are the ones you always remember?   
 After browsing through the pages, I'm determined that this year will be the year I do wide rows. I've toyed with the idea for several years and then in the push to get my garden in, I always end up doing the single rows or double rows, once again. Nope, this year it will be different. I've even bought hula hoops for one kind of corn, the Painted Mountain. We'll talk about my idea for them later but what I want to impress upon you is how much more you can get in your garden with beds versus rows. The picture above is of beets. Both illustrations shown are for the same amount of room, four feet wide.  The one on the left is single rows and the one on the right a bed of beets with four beets across then three, then four, etc. to maximize plants per space. The left illustration holds thirty plants. The one on the right seventy. You heard me seventy. More than double the amount of production in the same amount of space.

The only caution is to not get your bed so wide that you can't reach to the middle from each side to weed. As you plan your bed, they recommend spacing your plants so that the leaves just touch when nearly mature, not crowding them. This shades the soil so that weeds are inhibited. I can vouch for that since I usually make my rows so close together that you have to find foot size openings to get around and our son always cursed me with his big feet because they just didn't fit and yet he was suppose to be harvesting vegetables for me. BU...T their were very few weeds. This shade also helps to impede water evaporation, lowering your water bill. Water isn't cheap here, so that's a big deal.

Planting in beds mean that the soil doesn't become compacted from walking on it and that the plants will have more room to spread their roots, thus they obtain more nutrients and grow larger.  This is where I might insert some info on  when to and when not to rototill but I'll have to save it as I'm running behind today. Kirk was home sick yesterday and with the help of a couple shots, he's doing much better today. BUT... I've two kiddos that aren't doing so hot and that slowed my day down considerably. So I'm going to for once stick with one idea. Don't be so shocked, this post might even be short, well, for me that is.
The other thing I want to really shift over to is the inter-planting of crops like in this photo. Companion planting with crops that grow well together and are done at different times allowing more space for others as they mature. I've also inter-planted root crops which needed lots of foot room and crops that needed more head space but there again I did it in rows closely spaced together. This year, I'm going to do carrots planted with the help of chicken wire to aid in the spacing. And carrots that mature at different times.

The book showed this example of onions, lettuce, and broccoli all interplanted and stated that bugs ,and I'm talking about the bad guys, are attracted to their prey by smell. You know how much tomato plants smell, well, the author of the book said that interplanting diffusing the smell because it is so mingled with others, making it harder for the pest to find a hearty meal. Some plants also repel bugs, which he talks a little about  being a good grouping in a bed. This is one book I wouldn't mind owning. I borrowed it from the library, one of my favorite places. 

 Something I learned in Junior High school at the science fair was that not only do plants love classical music and hate hard rock but some types of plants will cry out for help sending out an S.O. S to the good guy, bugs to come and rescue them. We just can't hear the pleas with our ears limited reception range. Other plants emit a nasty tasting chemical making themselves less desirable. Just as with humans, the bad guys are looking for weak prey. The first line of defence is healthy soil so that the plants are getting all they need. I'll go into this some later.

But besides interplanting plants to diffuse their odor keeping bad buds confuse, another book I read recommends planting broccoli for instance in two or more locations in the garden making it harder for the bad guys to find all of the crop. This means that in one area you might loose your crop but not all of it because it was also some where else. Row covers can protect if place on before the bugs arrive and with broccoli, the only way I can keep from finding just skeletons after the flea beetles have arrived is to start the broccoli in the basement and put them out as plants, not direct seeds. The flea beetles with damage the larger plants but not anilate them. This year, I may also try the shop vac trick and suck up bugs with it. Read about that one in a book too. Books aren't just to put you to sleep at night.

So join me and get out your companion planting guides and host a few parties, inviting friends that get along well and group them together. Plants silly, not people but then if your social, I guess you can do that too.

Remember the corn planted in the hoop that I want to try? Well, I've the small hula hoops from the children's toy section of the store and I'm planning on putting corn around the inner rim, a pole bean in the middle to climb on the corn, and white clover sprinkle in between to supply nitrogen for the corn. I won't do a very large section as this is pure speculation on my part that it will do well.

As for putting pumpkins in my corn patch, it didn't work. The corn shaded the pumpkins too much and they remained puny. I just don't think we get warm enough up this far north for that project. I did see in this book where I could put lettuce in the corn patch as it shaded it, keeping it cooler, and hence extending its season. That is one to think about trying.  As for mulching your tomatoes, if you live where there isn't very much warm weather -- don't. Last year I tried it and it kept my tomatoes roots too wet and too cold so they didn't do so well. That is one of the big reasons for experimenting with fewer plants and leaving the rest in the old way just in case it is a flop.

Well, got to go and vacuum before the hubby arrives. He'll probably be pretty tired tonight.    

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I took a picture to remind me what my kitchen can look like. Not that it is going to look like this for the next couple months but to remind me of what it will return to. Hopefully better since I've STILL curtains to make and pictures to get developed and up on the walls. Remodeling goes so slow when there is so much else needing done and because it needs done when the kids aren't here and everything else is waiting for those few moments too.

  It isn't that I don't love a clean house, it's that my restless mind isn't content to do just house cleaning a...nd I've three little girls to help me mess it up. Especially the youngest who at the end of a meal has more food on the floor than in her stomach.
That isn't the worst of it. Nope, yesterday she used the contents of her diaper to paint her horse, Blue Biscuits head. I've spared you and I didn't take pictures. I must say I wasn't surprised because her sister once used some marshmallows to sponge paint with the contents of hers onto her dresser. Nope, my house won't look this good again any time soon.  
 Not until this two of the three little kid goats find a new home. And not until the two other goats have their kids. Hopefully tomorrow when the temperatures are suppose to warm up  and before it snows again which is fore casted for Friday.
And not while I've plants in the basement and living room destined for the garden that need to be watered and frequently transplanted. These are two of the Siberian tomatoes. I've three that I'm hoping to be eating tomatoes off of by July. Then I have some smaller tomatoes that I started much later that are Washington Cherries which have tomatoes that are quite a bit larger than the usual cherry tomatoes. They will ripen next and then my Saucy and Roma tomatoes last. If they stick to the plan.  
Can you believe how much our youngest grandchild has grown? Yup, this is her a year ago helping with my plants. She knows just what to do with the spray bottle. Each season brings a change in chores. Something to look forward to as you leave behind chores that have grown old and tiresome like stoking the wood/coal stove. Grr... it is still burning to keep us warm.

 How could you live in the city doing the same thing day after day? I love the rhythm that living close to nature brings as the season roll by. Your chores change giving you anticipation. I can't wait to put my plants in the garden and watch it grow. Then when fall comes, I can't wait to put it to bed for the winter.

It's kind of like changing your clothes. I love fall when I pull out my sweaters and then in the spring, I can't wait to pull on a pair of Capri's and sandals. My wardrobe changes little, especially since I hate to shop, but within its confines are comforts - my favorite sweater or my favorite Capri's, and anticipation as I wait to wear them. Right now, I'm tired of Muck boots, my heavy coats, warm gloves, and wool hats. I want sunshine that warms my face and even turns my arms a light pink. Come Fall, I'll be wanting pumpkin pie from our garden's harvest and anticipating the first snow.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Sourdough Trials

Staring at the sourdough in the back of my refrigerator, I felt pangs of guilt. How long had it been since I'd used the starter? I pulled it out determined to do better and began browsing the Internet for inspiration. I should do some bread with Italian spices and those naked pumpkin seeds that have been sitting in there forever. We were having spaghetti in a few days. I'd also had a hankering to try some sourdough crackers. So I got the sourdough starter all excited again and mixed up the bread dough and began mixing the cracker dough. BU...T the recipe for the crackers looked kind of boring. What if I threw in some cheddar cheese and dropped the amount of salt because cheese is salty and brushed them with olive oil and sprinkled with garlic salt? That sounded much better and would go with the soup I had planned to make the following day so I pulled out from the refrigerator my white wheat that I'd ground the week and began mixing.
Sourdough Crackers
1 cup sourdough starter
1/4 cup butter
1 cup wheat flour ( I used white wheat which has a milder flavor than red --turkey or the other kinds of winter wheat.)
1/2 teaspoon of salt (I used a 1/4 because I added cheese which is salty.)
Olive oil for brushing.
Salt for the tops of the crackers
Mix and leave dough for 7 hours at least.

My bread and cracker dough rose that evening and then when I was headed to bed, sure I wasn't going to get them made, I through them in the refrigerator in two plastic containers with a good tight lids. The next day they did not get done either and finally, the following the cracker dough was rolled out and baked. After they had set on the counter on a cookie sheet for an hour to let them finish warming up and raise a little.  

Next time when I make these crackers, I'm going to roll them out thinner so they will be more crisp. I'm also going to use Parmesan cheese and sun dried tomatoes, possibly even some dried carrots, and sweet bell peppers. Who knows but these crackers will turn into but they have great potential. The grand kids loved them and they are really picky eaters so I knew I was on to something.  
I was pretty proud of myself because before these crackers, I'd made graham crackers.  I guess you can say I cracked up this past week. LOL Get it, crack -- crackers? Okay, that was pretty lame.
But I did think I was going to crack up a few times under the pressure of so much to do.
And as for the bread dough destined to be a adventure with Italian seasonings and naked pumpkins seeds became pizza dough instead. No, the Italian seasonings and seeds never made it inside the dough like you would make cinnamon rolls. I needed something quick for supper and voila, pizza dough it became. A mighty wonderful pizza dough it was too. This little experience taught me that sourdough pizza was just my style. I could mix up the dough when I knew I had a few really busy days ahead of me or company was coming and I could make bread, rolls, or pizza or all three if I made an extra large batch and put it in the refrigerator.  I just love it was oopses come up smelling like roses transforming into wonderful discoveries. 

Chocolate cake dough
The next thing I tried was sourdough chocolate cake. I've tried at least seven different recipes for chocolate cake this past year and we haven't been impressed with any of them. Oh how I hoped this one would be it. The problem is that we shared this huge slice of divine chocolate cake in San Antone, Texas at this Bistro we love.  The whole meal was superb but the chocolate cake was heavenly. The meal of course came with a pretty hefty price tag but it was worth it. YUM, YUM!!! Ever since, chocolate cake hasn't measured up. Not that I have to make on totally equal but in the ball park would be nice.

And at the dough stage this cake tasted pretty good. Alas, when baked, the flavors dimmed and we were really disappointed. I don't know if I'm ever going to find something that come even remotely close to the chocolate cake we had in San Antonio, Texas. It was chocolate heaven.

 What made me think of making sourdough chocolate cake. Well, I came upon a e--something or other sourdough course on the Internet but as I read the list of things you would learn to make, I discovered I'd done most of them. It was from this list that I saw chocolate cake and that sent me off to googling a recipe
Sourdough biscuits
But for now, I think I'll just relax just a bit and keep making sourdough biscuits..........................................................................
Sourdough English muffins
English muffins..., 
work on my sourdough crackers and I've some bread sourdough recipes with rye and whole wheat to try. And of course there is sourdough waffles and pancakes.

Wait a minute, my son does have that chef friend. I wonder if he could tell me what I'm doing wrong and what type of chocolate is best to use. Hm......Oh dear, will this brain ever slow down? No wonder I'm so busy I'm going crackers.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Spring Chores

 It has been a BUSY few days. I know silence is not golden but the break from blogging left me yearning for it once more. At the beginning of the week I was just feeling pressure as I looked around at all the things that needed done. Done before the chicks and yaks arrive the first week of May. We have been pushing as hard as these STILL flu sick bodies can go and I'm going to tell you what we've been up to the past few days if you promise not to peek at my house. Yes, it is a total disaster. Something I'm going to work on after this blog post and after I hauled some manure on to the garden if my energy will hold out.

You guessed it. We are without the kiddos for a few days and in fact, our daughter has found a babysitter to take over part of the week so Kirk and I can get a move on on all the projects that didn't get done last year while we raised grand kids. Not to mention all the things that we need to accomplish this year. It will be a double duty year. We are STILL remodeling the house outside and inside. I'll give you a peek one of these days. I will probably be a few more years before we are done if we keep at it steadily. Many of you know how it is.

One big project that had to be done was putting up a pen for the yaks. So for two weekends Kirk has help me, who also lacks umph. He has been worse off having caughte the flu a week later than myself, so he'd lay on the prairie to rest and then drag himself up to line up the fence post and laid down again to cough and try to suck in oxygen. This thing leaves you really short of air. My dear husband knows I can't put up a straight fence line no matter how hard I try, my eyes must be crooked or something. So despite wishing he was in bed he helped put up 135 feet last weekend. This weekend we put up a gate and another 115 feet of fence. I've still some wiring to do but I'll work on that a little at a time this week and then go on to fix fence on the older pens that need repair. It is an annual spring and fall task. I'm sure many of you are also fixing fence too. 
 Then after fencing Saturday, we called a friend and begged for some advice. Last year's dehorning didn't go well and we've scurs to work to get rid of this spring on our yearlings. Yes, we should have done that earlier but little has been accomplished this past year. Since we've been breeding the Saanens, we use to own, to Boers for so many years, we were totally out of practice. Not that we really knew what we were doing in the first place. So in the spirit of my big goal this year to learn to do things correctly, I asked for help. Anne, a friend who started showing goats a few years ago had done 24, or was it 27, kids this year alone and I figured she would have it down pat. She did.

We learned some new things and since Contessa and Katarina have not had their kids yet, we will be able to practice what we learned in a few weeks. My first realization was that we needed to order a new dehorning iron. Ours won't do step two. Sorry no pictures for those of you goat enthusiast and I'm sure the rest of you are going whew!! LOL But I couldn't coordinate the camera, try the impossible, to avoid inhaling smoke from the iron which was burning hair, and hold squirming kids. Seven in all since we included Michelle's kids who are also of the same age as our kids. She is next door to our pens.

What I can tell you is that for does at two weeks old, with Anne's  iron, you hold it down around the small horn buds for a count of ten seconds and then check  for a nice copper burn ring around the horn buds. The boys typically have larger horn buds and for them she held it twelve seconds. Everything depended on how large the horns have already grown. Then she laid a knife parallel to the head and sliced off the horn bud and laid the dehorning iron sideways, cauterizing the lightly bleeding bud and killing more cells.

The last part where you lay the iron sideways, we'd never done before but it makes perfect sense. Our iron won't do that and so we'll have to buy a new one. Horns and scurs are too big a pain to deal with and so it will be worth the investment of a new iron. Our old one works but it is twenty five or more years old. Progress marches on with time and the new ones have a slightly different design.

For those of you softies, our kids were bucking and butting heads as soon as we placed them back in the trailer for the ride home. No, we are not big meanies. Dehorning is a humane practice for goats confined to small pastures and pens. Otherwise they continually catch their heads in the fence unable to get out. Think of the people in ancient times who were locked in the stocks  - it's torture. They can't eat, they can't drink, and they can't get out of bad weather. Face it, goats use their horns on you if given half a chance and ours don't need them to defend themselves and for those of us who milk, it is a huge blessing not to have to deal with the pokey things. Life has unpleasant realities and this is one of them.    
Then today, I've been repotting plants and plants and plants. Plus,starting winter squash, pumpkins, and cucumber seeds. I will direct seed these also but this is a part of my plan to extend the harvest. My planting calendar says to wait until May but the first week in May yaks and chicks arriving. It won't get done. I figure it is better to be a little early than late.

I've also been playing with my sourdough - crackers, pizza dough, chocolate cake. Yes, we've got much more to discuss but before the sun goes down with what little energy I still have, I'd better get to hauling manure onto the garden. Oh yeah, and this house is still a wreck.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

What Do I Do?

The plants in the house are doing great. I've a bunch to transplant into larger pots and some pots to get ready for seeds. Oh how do you get it all done? There is just too much on ones plate in the springtime. My basil here on the left is looking good. It makes me hungry to make some pesto. This time of year I crave noodle dishes and salad.
 This is the results of my transplanting a couple smaller pots into this larger terracotta one. That was a few weeks ago. The empty spaces were bothering me so I threw in a few more basil seeds and hopefully soon, I'll have a flourishing crop of basil at three different stages of growth so it will always be ready to snip a bit from to go into the cooking pot. A tip, when cooking with fresh basil remember to put it in shortly before serving. If sooner it turns brown and flavor is lost. Also keep in mind that fresh basil and dried basil lend a different flavor to a dish. I've seen some recipes call for a combination of the two.
The cilantro is doing very well that I transplanted. Yes, the experts say to start if from seed and don't disturb it but I must not have caused too much of a ruckus with the roots because it took off and is in  bad need of a snip with the scissors. I've heard of making pesto with cilantro and I want to give it a try. I think it would be delicious with dried mustard in a pennini sandwich. Yum!! 

The Siberian tomato plants are getting large and before long I'm going to have to transplant them into a taller pot so that I can stimulate more roots by covering up more of the stem.
Outside today is lovely, in the sixties Fahrenheit but tonight more snow is predicted, glug. How are those bare rooted strawberries that came yesterday going to stand a chance? The area they will go I had  already hauled in sawdust from the goat's shed and manure that a friend delivered. Don't you just love it when a friend just gets an old dump truck running and can't wait to haul something. Yup, he just knew I needed some more horse manure. LOL I couldn't say no because I did, I just wasn't quite ready for it a that moment but now I am and here it is so one can't really complain.

So I moved a large amount near the north end of the garden. Just this little area anyway as I've the bulk of the north end still to do. This is the end with the railroad ties stacked up against cow panels and t-posts. We are trying to build up that end so that the garden is level and not sloping north. Eventually, we'd like to tilt the whole thing south as that can move the garden into another growing zone. This is because the tilt causes the sun's rays to penetrate more fully. I then hauled over those square plastic window covers from when the fire department building was constructed last year. I figure the plastic will help to warm the earth, just as rototilling loosens the soil and warms it. The problem is if the temperatures keep dipping down to winter levels at night, not much will grow. Oh spring come on and arrive will yuh? I'm worried, will it kill my bare root plants? I checked the Internet and it says get them into the ground immediately. It also said that they won't take off if not properly planted so don't get in a hurry. You are to create a hole with a volcano shaped mound of dirt in the center. Spread your roots out around the mound so they can reach out and grow. If the roots are crammed in and maybe even tilt up, your plants won't do well.

So cross you fingers because in the ground I guess they are going. That is when I'm not watching the little munchkins. Maybe I should slip out right now and try to plant a few since the youngest is sleeping. Wish me luck and if you've some advice, I'd love it.

I've had strawberries several times before without success. Maybe I planted them wrong. I don't remember but this year I want a strawberry bed and next year lush strawberries.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011


Yes, she is adorable but note those horns a growing. Yikes! we didn't get them dehorned last weekend because Kirk was sick in bed and it take two to do the job. This weekend we will be building fence for the yaks coming the beginning of May and dehorning. Oh yeah, and manure hauling and ..... and..... You know how it is come springtime. Springtime by the calendar anyway, not the weather.
 Here Cheyenne is again and I want you to take a good look at those unusual marking. The sprinkling of brown that makes her distinctive. I rather like it.
 Here is Doc and I think he will soon be an it. Not a buck. Probably this weekend. Ouch...!!!
 Then there is Florence as in Florence Nightingale. I can't decide which doe is better, Cheyenne or Florence. They look like two peas in a pod except for their coloring. Last year it was an easy decision. Contessa of course over Katarina. It still is an easy pick. I'm anxious to see what Contessa has. She and Katarina are due next week.  

Here's Florence again and if you are wondering how I can tell her from Doc, it is because her brown is much deeper in color and she has long ears. Doc's only come just past his nose. A no, no in Nubians. That roman nose and long ears are their biggest trademark.

The grand kids haven't gotten around them much since it has been so cold. It is probably a good thing because they make them a bit wild and I want tame doelings.
The other night when I went down to do chores, I spied three Turkey Vultures sitting in our neighbors tree. I've never seen any in town. What they were after, I don't know but the three of them hung around for a while and now there gone. We see them sixty miles north of here pretty often but not this far south as much. Maybe it is just me that hasn't seen them, I don't know but I have seen them in flocks of twenty or more circling the skies looking for food. We do have quite a few eagles around though, Bald and Golden.
They winter around here and take a few lambs for supper come spring. Nothing something that endears them to the local ranchers.
I'll try and be all wise and wonderful tomorrow but things have piled up around here and I'm scrabbling to get caught up. I've started rototilling the garden and I don't know how I'll fit all my plans into such a small space. Right now I'd better get all that butter I bought on sale in the freezer. Your probably like me scouring the store advertisers each week trying to find sales on items you use frequently. Got to go.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Knitting For Winter

I've noticed that we are short of winter hats. Where oh where did they go? I've no idea so this winter our selection was quite small and since Toni, our oldest daughter, was so generous with sharing part of her stash of luxurious yarns, I've been knitting away. Just a simple plain stitch that is quite mindless because it is taxes time. Yes, today was the deadline and I finished some fifteen or so pages of stressful deductions that had to be done because we own a small, and I do mean small, business which requires lots of paperwork. You know, Kirk makes too much to be considered a hobby and not enough to be considered a really serious business. Yet, it requires lots of paperwork for the government wants its share. And when the stress of preparing and figuring it all out became too much to handle, I'd knitted. I admit, our paperwork wasn't kept like it should have been this year. Most of you can probably figure out why. Tonight, I'm beginning to change all that to make next year's taxes a much easier deal. I don't want to do this again.

Some of you might say stress is good for me because I got two hats done but really it isn't, it just means more adrenaline pills that have to be taken. But enough of the negative, I want to show you the simple plain hats I made to calm my nerves. With taxes done and two hats complete, I've decided that I want to start two more hats, another simple one and a complex one so I'll have a stress reliever and a challenge for whichever I'm in the need of at the moment.

Though the stitch was simple and plain, this steel blue hat isn't because the yarn I chose was made from Merino wool and silk. Curtesy of our oldest daughter who shared with me part of her luxery yarn stash. Thanks Toni, for the wonderful soothing project that felt so soft and wonderful as it ran through my fingers. It saved my sanity and your dad is going to love it as I made the double thick ban extra wide for his poorly thatched roof. Yes, he has been going rather bald for years. What remains is such a beautiful silvery white that I just love. When it gets cold outside and the biting wind tries to creep inside our clothes, I'm sure this will be the hat that he's going to choose. It's the kind I always do. Who knows, he might just put it on in the morning. It has been snowing most of the day and is to continue in to the night. The snow hasn't stuck yet but it will as the temperatures drop. No, Old Man Winter hasn't given up yet.
In case some of you haven't done a hat with a double layer before. I'll run you through the process quickly. I had a partial skein of lighter blue yarn of the same manufacturers, same fibers, and same weight so I used it first. But before that I casted on some pink, yucky, cheap, yarn that I don't mind ripping up and throwing away. It is called waste yarn and this is a method I learned on my bulky knitting machine when it was in the kid's room before they arrived. I knitted a couple rows and recommend you not do more than three rows tops for it all has to come out. Since you are ripping from the other direction, it doesn't come out with just a pull of the yarn tail, it has to be picked out stitch by stitch. The more rows, the more you have to pull out. I prefer ripping it out and as I do so I put the exposed stitched on stitch holders. Then I folded the light blue to the inside of the hat so the knit stitch is showing. I'm not so fond of purling but you could choose to have the purl side out. At the beginning of the next row, I placed a light blue stitch in front of the first stitch on the steel blue yarn's needle. I then knit the two stitches together making one steel blue stitch. Repeating this pattern until all the stitches were joined into one row.
And there you have a hat band. Only I continued knitting and then decreasing when I figured the hat was tall enough to start to shrink the top. No, I didn't use a pattern. I knitted a swatch so I could count stitches per inch. Then I decreased the number of stitches it would take to go around Kirk's head by an inch worth. You want the hat to stretch a little when pulling it on to keep it nice and snug. I'm not against patterns, I just didn't need one for such a relaxing project and in this family we have really small heads. When that's not quite true because the grand kids have large heads like their dad. I should say Kirk and I and our children have really small heads. And the fact that I didn't use a pattern was the whole point. I didn't want to have to follow directions which I was doing enough of trying to figure out my taxes and the find the laws that had changed since last year. I also whipped up a hat to go with my scarf during this period of time. This one is only a single thickness and so I put a small 1x1 ribbing stitch on the bottom edge. I've gloves to make now to go with the set. I've never made gloves before so I'll use a pattern but how hard can it be, just a lot of thumbs I figure. I'll save that project for later. Not too much later because this alpaca yarn is heaven to work with . So there you have my latest stress relievers. I bet many of you do the same thing.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Brenda's Photo Challenge

There are definite signs that spring is here if you look carefully, real carefully. For you might wonder otherwise because the snow is still flying and the wind often has a definite bite to it. But there is some green grass starting to poke through the washed out brown stubble and birds are returning such as the robins and meadowlarks.

The flowers in this bed the robin is looking back at are peaking through the ground promising better weather is on its way. Just not how soon.

And our middle grand daughter discovered the first dandelion of the year in our yard. I've not seen one since this one was found last week but I'm sure more will come.Babies are starting to appear in our barnyard. This is Doc as in Chicory Dickory Doc. Alright, it actually is hickory dickory dock but we don't have a a hickory just a goat named Chicory and this is her son shortly after he was born.Another sign spring is here is the chalk art on our driveway. It appears when the winter sleds disappear.

So there you have it, signs of spring.

Now jaunt over to Brenda's Photo Challenge and see what others have come up with.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Bison On The Plains

Some of you will remember that we have two bison herds near town and today as I had all the kids home sick, we took an indirect route to the corrals by way of the buffalo since they were on the gravel road across the highway from town.

No matter how many times I see them, I thank the Lord for how blessed I am to have such a wonderful view. One where the buffalo, deer, and the antelope roam free. Well, kind of free for the pastures are huge and the owners have learned you either open the gates as the buffalo migrate through or they open them themselves. This is the same ranch we saw seven head of elk last summer. Twenty miles in two different directions from us we are sometimes able to see elk grazing on the plains.

I could never, ever, be a city girl.

For it is sites like these that renews my soul and gives me peace.That's why I love to photograph so much. I just wish I had more lenses.More knowledge of what I was doing for there is so much more I want to capture. And my skills are so inadequate in capturing the grandier of these beasts. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^


This is one of the bulls just before he picked a fight with the one below.

And in the back seat our youngest was yelling, I can't see.
So I lifted her out of her car seat so she could see better and that ended my photographing. But what better thing to do on a snowy, cold April day when your feeling sick than to bundle up and go and look at the bison, the antelope, and check on baby goats. It just has to make you feel better. Photos of the antelope and kid goats are yet to come.