Sunday, March 18, 2012

King of the Farm & Pruning Peach Trees

Our ram, Hades, is kind of an ornery old cuss. He's pretty convinced he's cattle, not sheep. This weekend Ryan moved him from being in with his ladies to being with the cows and bull.
Here, the cows are running in fear. It's a stampede!
Note that this ram is smaller even than the calves. But like I said, he is ornery. He and the bull are sparring occasionally, but Hades is winning.
Hades will do anything it takes to be the undisputed King of the Farm. 

We also worked on pruning the peach tree on Friday night. It hasn't been well pruned in years, we were trying to allow it to recover from some ice damage two years ago. Here is the peach tree before pruning:
I did lots of research about pruning peach trees, and apparently they do better with fairly severe pruning. So Ryan and I worked on it for some time and yet still didn't really get it all done.
Some branches had gotten a bit large and overgrown.
It's hard to see the lopers in that last picture, but you can certainly see Ryan trying to cut the branch off! Here are pictures of the peach tree after the pruning:

I feel like my camera is inadequate to capture how much we did cut off, but we really did cut quite a bit. When I was a girl, my mom used to cut branches off our apple tree about this time of year and put them in a vase. The buds still bloom, and are a bright cheerful greeting for spring. Since I had so many branches trimmed anyway, I made a big arrangement.
I will post a picture of it when it blooms fully!

And now for our Hazel pictures of the day. Ryan has some oats right now for our lactating ewes, and he's been filling containers of it for Hazel to throw to the chickens.
She loves this newest activity!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Winter Chores, Charity Quilt, and Iowa Quilt

We had a bit of a surprise snow today, it seems our winter just decided to come a little late.  As I type this, however, the evening weatherman is telling me it will be almost 70 degrees by Tuesday. Iowa weather is so strange. 
I snapped this photo of Ryan coming in from evening chores, sometimes it seems like my life is just perpetually waiting for him to get in from chores! I tried to get a picture of the black and white cows against the white snow, but they were over the hill and not very easy to photograph from the house. 
The green bucket is the feed bucket for feeding the layer hens (with the red feed scoop sticking out the top), and the blue bucket holds today's eggs. We didn't have a lot of luck with the traditional wire egg basket, they tend to break eggs. Plastic is much more forgiving in this case!

I try to make quilts for our guild to give to charity, it is one of the directives of the guild that we create quilts for people in need. So I recently finished a disappearing 9-patch made of some garage sale scraps.
It's a variety of calicos, which are oddly coming back into fashion. What goes around, comes around, I guess. 
I used the opportunity to practice making feathers, and I know I improved through the practice. It's about a throw-sized quilt, and I'm not sure where it will go. But I hope whoever gets it likes it!

Last weekend was the semi-annual quilting retreat, where I finished my oldest UFO (UnFinished Object). I started this quilt in 2006 at my very first quilt retreat. I quilted it on my Bernina Activa 130, no longarm machine here!
It's a monster, at 109" square. But it's finally done! It has a lot of techniques that were my first time trying them. This was my first attempt at half square triangles, machine applique, trapunto, and hand applique.
It has 4 Iowa flowers as its theme: Wild Rose, Black-Eyed Susan, Virginia Bluebell, and Iris. 
Here's the black-eyed susan trapunto and a sample of the machine quilting. Lots and lots and lots of little loops. Did I mention lots? I quilted this thing for 3 days straight, about 15 hours a day, and I had started quilting it at last fall's retreat. I'm so glad it's done!!! I was calling out when I finished bobbins (and my fellow retreaters were great for cheering for each one to keep me going), and we estimated this thing took about 20 bobbins to quilt. 
The center medallion is a picture of the bridge in Madison county where Ryan and I were married. Here's the other hand applique themes:

I am proud of this quilt, but I also know my skills were not as good when I made it as they are now. It was never intended to be as big as it turned out, it just happened that way. As you can see, it's too big for my queen sized bed and is really intended for a king. So I'm glad to get it off my plate because I feel I can go start more new projects!