Sunday, March 28, 2010

Dinner Bell

I think it's the city kid in me. I think it's very important that a "real" farm has a dinner bell. It's silly, but it's important to me! So bless Ryan, he's been looking for a decent bell since the day we bought this place. He finally found one and today he installed it. So now when dinner is ready I can be a "real farm wife" and summon my husband by dinner bell!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Successful slipcover & deer on the move

Today I tackled a project I've been meaning to do for almost a year. I swear, no one goes through jeans like Ryan. About once a year I make a throw sized quilt out of all the jeans he wears out, but this year I made a slipcover for our cheap IKEA sofa! We got this sofa about and year ago and it was inexpensive and great; but it only came in white. White. Like white is going to survive in this house with 3 pets and a baby on the way. So we've been using one of those throws I made out of Ryan's jeans tossed over it to somewhat protect it, but it always fell off and wasn't big enough for the whole love seat. But in prep for the baby coming, I have to move all my sewing stuff including the massive pile of Ryan's jeans. This means I can either find a new way to store them in a smaller space, or just get the project done! Is the result perfect? No. Are the corners square and the seams straight? No. But did I successfully make a custom slipcover without even the internet to help and no pattern? Yes! So there.
In other news, the deer have been very active in the yard and we have had a couple within tossing distance of the house twice in the last two days. This morning they seemed oddly alarmed and antsy, and we couldn't figure out why until Ryan spotted Nermal bounding toward the deer. That's right: our little tabby cat has decided that he is a carnivore and the deer are herbivores and therefore it is his prerogative and duty to chase them. I wonder what his plans are if he catches one...

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Hay Feeding

I have recently been inspired by this blog: Pioneer Woman and so I'm going to post a little bit more like she does and see how that goes. No promises about maintaining this, just an experiment. If you like it, let me know!

Ryan currently is feeding hay from the bales he had made last fall, but we're still low tech around here. So here is how to feed a small flock of sheep with a bale of hay:

Unroll your bale a little and grab a pitchfork. We searched auctions for months for a decent pitchfork, but I think we ended up just paying the $60 for this one new. It's surprisingly hard to find a pitchfork at auction in decent shape.

Move some hay onto a tarp, basically whatever you can tote around.

Pause to contemplate life while the ram and cows behind you try to figure out how to get some of this fresh hay.
Haul your tarp down the hill. The ram still wants some, so smile at him as you walk on by.
Wrestle the tarp in through the sheep pen gate. Today, only one got out so we're doing pretty good! Luckily the lazy photographer could reroute her back into the corral.
Slide the tarp out from under the hay. This one's tricky because the sheep like to stand on the tarp. So the old "pulling the tablecloth off the table while it's set" trick comes in useful.
Stand back and admire your handiwork again. That and think about how the pastures are almost ready to be done with the whole hauling hay thing and the ewes will soon have fresh grass to eat.
So now it's time to go feed the ram and cows before they bust down the fence in search of hay.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Productive quilting retreat

Last weekend I had a quilting retreat and had a very productive weekend! First, I finished the 14 place mats that I started in August from some fabric my mom bought for the purpose. People kept asking me if I really needed 14 place mats, but the answer is yes! We usually host at least that many for thanksgiving and occasionally host over a dozen for other events (like Easter or Mother's Day). I really like to host gatherings, although it always works better in the months when our sun room (poorly insulated and not on the main house's central air system) is neither freezing nor a sauna.
I also finished a baby quilt that I started at the retreat a year ago, although it really seems like a baby boy's quilt and we're expecting a baby girl. I haven't decided what to do with it yet, perhaps it will just join the stack for the next baby shower I land at or relative who has a baby.

The farm is running OK, but Ryan is working on everything double time so he gets stuff done before the baby is due at the end of April. He's been chain-sawing daily to clear room for the fencing that has to be done, and he's making great progress. We had some "feeder rage" last Friday and lost an ewe and one of our ram lambs; we think the big ram killed them. The little ewe we lost was no big deal, but the ram lamb was a real loss because we were hoping to finish him out for sale this summer. We will still have one lamb now, but that will be it.