Wednesday, April 27, 2016

I Can't Stop Making Rugs

I've been trying to whittle down my stash of fabric, some of which I've had for more than twenty years.  (Does that qualify me as a fabric hoarder?)  Happily, I've found using the material to make rugs works out very well.

Since we don't have any carpeting in our house (nor do we desire to have any), I use a lot of what are commonly called throw rugs in strategic spots.  In the past couple of years, I've been making ones to replace previously purchased ones that I've hung on to way past their expiration dates.

For these rugs I'm making, I've used either Aunt Lydia's Rug Yarn (a brand no longer manufactured) that I've found on eBay . . . or strips of cloth fabric (refer back to first paragraph).

Back to my fabric hoard stash, my taste in design and color pallet preferences have changed since some of my old, old fabric was purchased.  I have a strong feeling I'll never use it in sewing garments or making quilts, so why not use it in making rugs?

To be honest, I did recently actually purchase some (dirt cheap -- what a find!) fabric in colors to compliment that in my stash.  To use in making the rugs.  Now I'm on a roll and can't stop making up these quasi-sorta-look-like-braided (mine are crocheted) rugs.

My most recently completed one (it measures approximately 20" x 30") was made specifically for the spring season.  I mean, don't we all need a splash of bright color 'bout this time of year?  However, I've refused to put it down on the floor (it will go in the kitchen in front of the sink) because our weather has been so very un-spring like!  Lots of gray, drippy days and even when we do see the sun, it just isn't warm enough to feel like spring yet.

I figure it will be a real celebration day when I deem the weather worthy of starting to use this particular rug.  (Are you starting to question my sanity?)

The next rug in progress?  This one shown above.  It will go at the juncture of the bottom of the stairs to my husband's office and the doorway to my quilt room.

Then I plan on making one to match the new quilted summer shower curtain (which is - ahem - not even started yet) in the bathroom, a couple of a specific size for hubby's office, three matching ones for the living room, two new ones for our bedroom to match the new quilt on the bed, one for the door coming in from the garage . . . you see?  There is no end.  Good thing I can't stop making them.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

A Refreshing Day Off

Okay, so it wasn't truly a whole day, but a good portion of it.  We went back into the woods, waaay back into the woods.

It's a glorious time of year because you can see for miles and miles.  The snow (all but a patch here and there) is gone and the trees haven't leafed out yet.

We found two new places where we can easily put in our canoe to explore a lake and a river that we've never been on.

Now all we have to do this summer is take the time to do so.  We always think we need to keep our noses to the grindstone of tasks to be done here at home, but it feels so good to slip away of a day to relax and rejuvenate that it's downright dumb (dumb, dumb, dumb!) not to do so every now and then.

Would one of you be willing to wield a big stick and drum that into my thick head frequently?  Thank you.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Temporary (Bigger) Gosling Quarters

As sometimes happens (sigh), projects don't proceed as quickly (or smoothly) as anticipated for.

Our construction of the new chicken/gosling/duckling tractor is not progressing as planned and because our largest gosling, who is growing at an alarming rate, was suddenly unable to stand up without rubbing his fuzzy head on the wire covering our brooding pen, we had to set up short-term, temporary, bigger-than-they've-been-in quarters for the goslings.

Giant Gosling says, "Oh, it feels so good
 to be able to stretch out my neck!"

This should buy us a little more time in getting their outside housing done.  We can hope.  :o/  (The other glitch we've encountered is the fact that Mother Nature has gotten confused and is bringing back nasty weather . . . a rain/snow mix forecast for today.  Arrrrgh.)  Of course, we wouldn't have our undies in such a bunch if these goslings had arrived at the end of April, as they were scheduled, rather than the first.

In the above picture, you can see how much bigger our one gigantic gosling is than the others.  We've dubbed him Skidmore, by the way.  Ado Annie (Annie for short -- we're going with the theme of names from the musical and stage play "Oklahoma" [thanks, Sandy!] since they came from a hatchery in the state of Oklahoma) is the little dark one that is of questionable parentage, if you ask me.  The other two over to the right haven't been named yet because we aren't sure of their sex.

As mentioned before, we were to get two females and two males.  Presently we're thinking Skidmore is the lone male and the other three are females.  If that turns out to be so, at least it's a more desirable ratio than three males and one female! 

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Projects: Full Steam Ahead!

Slowly, that is.

The current project is a chicken/gosling/duckling tractor.  It's amazing (and frustrating) how long it takes to just get the 2 x 2 framing put together.

Papa Pea and I drew up the plans this week and our summer intern (aka daughter) worked on the framing a good share of the day yesterday.  With luck, Papa Pea and I will get it close to completion today.

We're concentrating on making it as light, and yet secure and sturdy, as we can so that moving it frequently is possible without the necessity of renting any heavy equipment.  (The power will be one of us hoisting the handles at either end.)

The four goslings that arrived first of the month are growing so fast they're almost too big for the brooder they're in (still in the heated garage) so it's imperative we get this new outside pen (house and small run) finished as soon as possible.

Of course, our weather has taken a dip downward and the 40s are as warm as it's been getting during the day with low 30s at night.  This next week coming up looks to be much the same which means we'll have to make provisions in the new pen for a heat lamp.

Meanwhile, the grown-up poultry is enjoying the lovely days of sunshine in their big pasture.  (We do lock all feathered friends up each night for their protection.)

One of our adult female geese has been stuck like glue on a nest of eggs so we're keeping our fingers crossed that proves profitable.  So much easier when poultry hatches and raises their young!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

I Do Believe Spring Has Arrived

What a glorious weekend we've had.  Although today it made it to not much more than 60 degrees, yesterday was in the 70s and we hardly knew how to handle it.

The garden and many spots outside are still very wet and muddy so work in those areas has to wait a while, but there's much that can be done outside now.  It's so nice to work outdoors without my hands freezing within 10 or 15 minutes.

The poultry must line up by their pen doors because they shoot out each morning as eager beavers to scratch in the dirt, eat green grass shoots and head for the pond.  The grass in the picture above doesn't look very green, but you'll just have to take my word for it that there are indeed green shoots coming up and the poultry is definitely enjoying the fresh fodder.

This morning was very gray and we thought we were going to get the predicted rain showers, but the sun prevailed from about noon time on.  I'd like to hang the laundry outside tomorrow (for the first time this year), but the forecast I just saw said 80% chance of rain.

The precipitation would be bad for the mud situation, but good for making the rest of the snow disappear faster.

The goslings are growing so fast.  Yes, all four of them are huddled in that pile there.  No feathers showing yet to replace the soft fuzz, but I think they're starting to get their teenager faces already.  Looks like the one in the front is giving me the Evil Eye, doesn't it?  I'm convinced we have three males and one female rather than two of each sex we were supposed to get.  Unless the weather gets a lot warmer quickly and they can go outside, we'll have to make a bigger brooder box for them because when they stand up their heads almost touch the wire on the top.

I'm sitting here well satiated after our dinner tonight.  I was down to one package of cooked chicken or turkey in the freezer so picked up a turkey at our co-op this week and today made a full-blown turkey dinner, complete with pumpkin pie and whipped cream.  The turkey carcass has been picked clean and several packages of turkey are in the freezer.  I saved out a portion of meat to make into barbequed chicken tomorrow for sandwiches.

Yupper, it does seem like Mother Nature has finally gotten around to waving her spring time wand over northern Minnesota.  When I got up at 5 a.m. this morning for a potty stop, I could see the day starting to dawn.  Our long days of growing time can't be too far away.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Can't Plant Yet!

This post and pictures aren't to convince those of you who garden in more temperate climates that those of us gardeners who live in the far north are totally crazy, but rather to document the current conditions for this (slow) spring of 2016.

Last year, on the 15th of April, the soil was thawed and warmed enough that I planted my Sweet Pea flowers in the garden alongside the trellis I had erected for them to climb on.

This year . . . conditions are a little different. 

Although all of the raised beds are free of snow as is all but the bottom couple of feet of the field garden, there's still up to a foot of snow in some of the lower areas.

This is our raspberry patch and 
part of our
blueberry patch.

Our temp is actually going to reach 50 degrees today (okay, maybe with a little boost of my warm finger on the bulb of the thermometer when no one is looking), and we're expecting even warmer temps in the next several days.

The pond is free of ice and the adult geese and ducks are enjoying it immensely.  Of course, now when I want to get a picture of them splashing around, the pond is devoid of water fowl.  They all must be up by their pens taking an afternoon siesta.

First thing this morning, we had six wild Mallards swimming on the pond.  We saw only two or three all season last year in contrast to the forty-some we've had hanging around other years.  We're really hoping they'll make a comeback this year.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Raised Bed Construction

I got a very nice note from, Karen, one of my readers recently.  She asked a couple of questions about our raised beds as her own 20-year old beds now need replacing.

This year we'll replace the wood framing on  the last four of our beds (hooray!) that we've also used for the last 20 years.

The above two pictures show some of
the rotting that has occurred
in the wood framing.

It's a project we've been working on for about the past 3-4 years, replacing a few each year.  When these last four are done, all the wood framing of all our raised beds will be "new" and hopefully good for another twenty years of raising delicious, nutritious food.

Our first frames were made of two 2" x 6" boards stacked one on top of the other to equal a height of 12".  We used the 6" boards because we had them, but it wasn't the wisest move.  They didn't hold up nearly as well as the 2" x 12" boards we've used since then.

Initially we nailed them together into a 4' x 8' rectangle, but found with the soil freezing and thawing over the years, the joints started to pull apart, and we had to reinforce the corners with metal "L" brackets.

Using screws as fasteners works much, much better.

The screws which seem to do the best job are these.

The type of wood we've experimented with has included local rough-cut white cedar, tamarack and pine.  The longevity of each has been about the same.

For the ones we've been replacing recently, we've used pine or fir from the local lumber yard with two applications of tung oil, thinking this would prevent rotting longer than unfinished boards.  Time will tell if this proves out to be true.

When questioned, my husband stated that if we have to replace raised bed framing again after this time around, he'd like to go with a good quality western red cedar . . . probably with the coating of tung oil as a preservative again.

Although there's no question that pressure treated lumber for the raised bed framing would last longer, and supposedly the chemicals used in the pressure treating process are not as toxic as they once were, we wouldn't feel comfortable using any pressure treated product that comes in direct contact with the soil in which we grow our food.

Hope this gives an overview of the construction of our raised beds, and answers your questions, Karen.

Monday, April 11, 2016

As Forrest Gump Would Say . . .

You never know what you'll get.

Left to right - Standard sized chicken egg,
bantam chicken egg,
and . . . hiccup?
(Quarter on itty-bitty egg for comparison.)

Friday, April 8, 2016

Good As New?

Not quite, but much, much better.  We decided to take the foot "brace" off the little gosling who arrived with a turned under right foot.

It's definitely much improved.  At least it's out flat now rather than folded under.  It looks curved more to the center of her body with a pigeon-toed (gosling-toed?) angle to it.

Here's a picture of her normally formed left foot for comparison.  Whether the right foot will straighten out more on its own now that we've taken off the corrective adhesive only time will tell.

She's walking on it as if nothing is wrong, has a normal goose gait and seems quite healthy although she's still much smaller than the other gosling we think is the second female.  Either she's really a runt . . . or she's not a Pilgrim goose like her other three brooder mates!

Thursday, April 7, 2016

A Fun Morning

Our daughter (the nanny) brought the twins over for a waffle and bacon breakfast yesterday morning.  (Their big sister was in school and missed the visit.)

Mmmm, waffles with fresh frozen (warmed up, thank you very much) strawberries from last year's garden.

There's more than one way to eat a waffle.  (Apologies for the poor pictures in this post.)

Point proven?  (This was after several
attempts to get a strawberry on his fork.)

Their first look at goslings.

"Can I hold it?" 

"So soft!"

Then we went out for a sled ride.  Little Sister was apprehensive at first and felt more secure with a four-point stance on the sled.  A couple of weeks ago in their first sledding adventure, she fell off landing on her right cheek on crusty snow which made an abrasion which is still noticeable, so we couldn't blame her yesterday for remembering the incident.

Everyone got a chance to ride on the sled . . . except Papa Pea who had to do all the work!  Tucker helped with his participation and encouragement.

Our daughter commented that the twins' mama would have loved the outing and been running alongside the sled yelling, "Faster, Papa Pea, go faster!" and laughing all the time.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Chores on a Snowy Morn

As predicted, more snow fell overnight.

Geese preening in the snow. 

The ducks came right out (with their hats, scarves and mittens on) 
also, but the chickens (so far)
were a no show.

Apple blossoms on these three 
apple trees?
Nope, more like snow blossoms.

Spring will come.  Eventually.  
It's a sure thing.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Meet Our Summer Intern

Ha-ha, and don't we wish!  Although we couldn't convince our dear daughter to give up her other two jobs and function as slave labor here on the homestead all summer, she did agree to work for us one day a week.

Yesterday was her first day and much was accomplished.  She moved and re-stacked a lot of lumber, moved a bunch of bags of feed, took down some overhead bracing (don't cha just hate working with your arms over your head?), moved some materials to a storage building, and built a storage rack in the feed room.  (You can see her hiding working away down in the right hand corner above.)

Raise your drill if you're having a good time!  (The feed room is unheated and we had a high of 30 degrees yesterday.  Hence, the hat and jacket.)

The first shelf boards were put in place before she had to leave to go put in a few hours at one of her "real" jobs. 

Even if it is only one day a week, we're pickled tink to have her help.  

Monday, April 4, 2016

I Think I'll J-u-u-u-st Make It

I took my last container of fresh frozen chives out of the freezer this morning.

During the winter months I use a lot of chives, mostly for adding color to dishes.

There are four clumps of chive plants in that center raised bed, the one in the foreground.  (Picture taken a few minutes ago.)  Even though they are the first green to pop up in the garden each spring, something tells me it's gonna be a while yet this year.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over

Winter, that is.

More predicted for this coming week.

Along with cold temperatures which
 means this new snow
will be with us for a while.

I'll leave you with the song that's been
running through my head all day
as I look out on the
beautiful scenery.

"It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas . . . "

Saturday, April 2, 2016

A Little Webbed Foot Help

While watching the four new goslings, our daughter was the one to notice the littlest one's right foot didn't look quite right.

Turns out the front third of the little webbed foot was curled back under.  She was still navigating but with a definite hitch in her get-a-long.

We tried unfolding the foot which didn't seem to cause any distress to the gosling, and then tried to tape it to keep it flat, but nothing remained on her foot for long.

Finally I made a little square out of strapping tape which is clear tape with filament inside it (makes it extra strong), put her little unfolded foot on that and then applied another square of the strapping tape on the top of her foot.  I pressed the edges of the tape tightly together along with putting a little pressure on the bottom and top of the tape covering her foot.

Then I trimmed the square of tape up a bit.  Put her back in the brooder and found that the bottom of the tape pad was too slippery and she kept falling over.

Out of the brooder she came again.  I painted some rubber cement on the bottom of the pad, and we dipped that in some fine grit making a sand paper-y grip on the bottom which kept the foot from slipping on the bedding in the brooder.

Her walk is still a little funny, but the "brace" has stayed on and she rapidly runs around the brooder like the Energizer Gosling Bunny.  When we put tiny pieces of green lettuce in there, she beats the other three to it every time.  Despite her slight disability, she's a little spitfire, no doubt about it.

So, two questions:  Have any of you ever had this foot problem with chicks, ducklings or goslings?  How did you handle it?

And any suggestions for a name for our little gimpy gal?  Since the goslings came from a hatchery in Oklahoma, we were thinking of using names for the four related to the musical and movie, "Oklahoma."  What do you think?

Friday, April 1, 2016

Small Quilt Winner and Four Fuzz Balls

Thanks to all of you who showed an interest in my small baby quilt.  Or table topper.  Or pillow cover.  Or however you thought to use it.

I drew a name out of a bowl this morning and the winner is:

~ ~ ~ KATHY ~ ~ ~

Kathy, if you will send me your mailing address I'll send the quilt off to you as soon as I can. 

Thanks again to you all for making this a fun little giveaway.

* * * * * * * * * *

Now for pictures of our newest critters.

We got a phone call from the post office in town at 7:30 yesterday morning letting us know we had a package there from a hatchery.

Arriving at the post office building, Papa Pea was met at the back door by our Post Master holding the small box with a bit of a worried look on his face.

"I'm a little concerned," he said.  "There hasn't been much peeping coming from the box."

Papa Pea told him that the box contained goslings rather than chicks, and they're not as vociferous as chicks usually are.  And, no worry, all did turn out to be just fine.

The box contained four healthy looking goslings.  Packed in fairly tightly, but I'm sure that helped keep them warm on their journey from Oklahoma all the way to northern Minnesota.

They are supposed to be two females and two males.  The darker one is quite a bit smaller than the other three, and we're assuming she's a female.  One of the other three (back left in picture above) has a smidge more shading of the darker coloring than the two very yellow ones (males we're presuming), but she's not much smaller than the boys are.  Time will tell exactly what we've ended up with.

When you put your hand into the brooder near them, they don't seem shy at all but come running over to take a peck or two to check you out.  They sure are cute little buggers!