Sunday, November 29, 2009

"Thanksgiving Day...."

Our friend, Joe, who came for Thanksgiving dinner, took this photo of Copper amongst the colorful leaves. He liked her copper color amidst the rust colors of the foliage.

The table is set and ready for the feast!

Dinner attendees, Penny and Joe.

Don found the recipe for this little number.....Bourbon Bac'an Pie (bourbon, bacon, pecan pie).

Penny and Don......

Sheila and Kent........

After dinner conversation. From left to right: me, Sheila, Kent, Don, Rob (our neighbor who joined us for dessert, after having dinner at his sisters), and Penny (Joe took this photo, too).

A good time was had by all.....we sat at the dinner table for 4 HOURS!!! I guess that could be considered a successful dinner, eh? :)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"Preparing for Thanksgiving....."

I spent most of yesterday preparing foods that could be made ahead for our Thanksgiving Feast. The same thing will happen again today, and once more, I will enjoy being there. I have been looking forward to Thanksgiving for quite some time. It gives me the chance to make some special recipes that I do not make except for special times. Recipes like my Mom's cranberry salad, and my Grandmother's baked cabbage, neither of which are all that special, but both have meaning to me, and bring back wonderful memories of past holiday's.

Today, I will be mainly concentrating on pies, both new recipes. One with bourbon, bacon, and pecans that Don found (the boy LOVES bacon!), and the other a cranberry meringue. I also have a few things to finish up from yesterday, too, but nothing that is too complicated or fussy.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and safe travel if you are one of the thousands out on the roads or in the sky.

Monday, November 23, 2009

"More Space Bag Use...."

On Sunday, I once again put some Space Bags into use. They now hold a rather large supply of "loopers" and yarns. The loopers had been in a large cardboard box on top of my wardrobe, and the yarns in "under the bed plastic storage bins". By using the Space Bags, I was able to minimize their volume to a fraction of their original size. The loopers are now stored in my wardrobe cabinet, along with Space Bags full of fiber. The yarns are still in the plastic storage bins, but there now is more yarn in each bin. By consolidating the yarn, I now have full use of my dresser to store clothing....what a novel idea, eh?. :)

Don was able to take a couple short movies of the process of the air being vacuumed from the Space bag. I love seeing the "action"! LOL

Sunday, November 22, 2009

"Prep for Carding Wool......"

Before I use my drum carder to card any wool, I prep it by running it through my "Wool Picker". A lethal looking device with ultra sharp nails that grab the wool and pull bunched up fibers apart. I run the wool through the picker 2-3 times before carding it. The "finished" picked wool is a cloud of air and fiber.

Pulling some unpicked wool from the washed fleece to place in the left end of the picker.

This shows some of the sharp nails which are along the bottom of the picker. There are also sharp nails in the sliding top section of the picker, as well.

The fiber is placed inside the left side of the picker.

The fiber is then dragged through the upper and lower nails with the motion of sliding the top section of the picker, left to right and back again, a continuing movement that is repeated until the fiber exits past the nails to the right end of the picker box.

The fiber is caught underneath the slider amongst the upper and lower nails.

An action photo...... ;)

The fiber finally (after going through the picker several times) comes out of the picker for the last time and is ready to go on the drum carder.

I mentioned to Don that I could make myself a Santa how could I resist posing for this photo? Tis "almost" the season! ;)

Friday, November 20, 2009

"The Re-organized Chicken Run with Compost Bins....AND, The New "Girls"...."

Earlier this week, I began clearing up all of the leaves in the backyard. After adding some to our 2 compost bins, I made the decision to move the compost bins from in front of the chicken coop, to behind it. And in the process, make room for a 3rd bin.

This photo shows the area they were moved from. There is now a nice large open "run" for the chickens, which continues around the side and back of the coop as before.

This shows the 3 new compost bins. The larger 2 will hold the beginning and middle stages for the compost), and the 3rd, barely seen in the right foreground, will hold the completed or nearly completed compost. Unfortunately, I had to use the 1st 2 bins for leaves this year, but am confident I will be able to turn all of number 1's leaves into bin number 2 prior to next Fall's leaf pickup. That's my plan anyway...... ;)

By moving the chain link compost bins, I was also able to empty and move the Dane County compost bins to outside of the chicken run, allowing easier access to them without having to go into the run.

A wider view of the area......

The entire back of the yard used to be chicken run, from fence to fence. This Spring I changed the chain link panels to once again make a smaller run, due to having less chickens. When the run was larger, I just raked the leaves into the run and the chickens scratched through them finding bugs/worms and other delectable things to eat, and in the process, turned the leaves, breaking them down, and adding their nitrogen rich "matter" to the mix, too. So in my clean up this Fall, I raked that area and of course, the ground was bare beneath the decomposing leaves. I never thought I'd say/write this, but I may have to plant grass seed this Fall (shudder!!!! More to mow!).

The next 2 photos give a wider view of the chicken coop, run, and compost bins.

I must say, I am quite proud of how much I got done in a few days. As most of you know, I am more of an in-house body, working with my fiber addiction. ;)

In yesterday's short post, I told you of our new little pullets. They will not be laying eggs for awhile (usually pullets begin laying eggs around 5-6 months old), but will begin in Spring when the days are longer and they receive enough daylight to trigger their egg production.

Introducing "The Girls"! We've not named them as yet, but I'm sure that will happen this weekend when we both can go out to the coop together during daylight hours.

Once again, the brown pullets are Red Sex Linked Hens.

The black pullet is a Black Australorp.

And the gold pullet is a Buff Orpington.

So far, I've had to go out and physically pick them up and put them through the little door and into their nest box area, and in the morning, go out to usher them out and down the ramp, into the feed/water area. I hope they are quick learners. They will remain inside the coop until they acclimatized themselves to their environment, then they'll be allowed out into the run area.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

New Additions....."

Unfortunately, this will be a "photo-less" blog entry, but I wanted to have a quick update on here.

We have 4 new additions to our little place. I went to the outskirts of Evansville, WI and bought 4 young chickens. A Buff Orpington, a Black Australorp, and 2 Red Sex Linked chickens. Our older hen, Heather, was taken along and she will be given to a friend of the guy from whom I bought the young chickens. His friend has been looking for an older Silver Laced Wyandotte hen to add to his breeding program.

It was too dark to take photos yesterday, but hopefully, I will be able to get some good ones today.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"Bioneer Convention....."

Don and I attended the first Madison Bioneer Convention, which was held out in Fitchburg last Friday/Saturday. It was an inspiring 2 days. The entire concept is all realms of life. The annual Bioneer Convention was held in California last month, celebrating its 20th birthday. Don and I became aware of the Bioneer "movement" when vacationing in Traverse City a few years ago. We'd thought that perhaps we'd take a long weekend and attend the annual convention that they host, but were pleasantly surprised to find that Madison was going to host the event this year, too. Promega hosted the event, sponsoring it along with Sustain Dane, Organic Valley Family Farms, The Isthmus, UW Health Integrative Medicine, Trek, Willy Street Co-op, Edgewood College, and a variety of others.

Don took this young woman's photo because she won the Trek bike at the convention and this was her initial victory ride. :)

A photo of the lunch room at Promega's BioPharmaceutical Technology Center, where the event was held.

As I said earlier, the event was inspiring and we will definitely attend again next year. So inspiring in fact, that we plan on purchasing rain barrels for a couple of our downspouts, have re-considered our plans for not having chickens after our last one passes away.....we're getting more very soon, and I am switching over to buying organic and/or local foods as much as possible, plus, I moved and re-configured our compost bins, allowing more space for turning the contents. For me to work so diligently the past few days on that project, you KNOW I was inspired. ;)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

"Test of Adding a Video....."

Don sent me a short video today of the new garden that is being built/constructed over at St. Mary's Hospital. Since I have never added a video to my blog, I thought this would be one to try....short and sweet. ;)

"Fiber Activities Update...."

I watched a video on You Tube last week which inspired me to try my hand at once again using a "diz". Basically, it is a little instrument that allows one to pull carded fiber through a small hole directly from the drum carder, and turn it into a continuous piece of roving. I had tried it before and didn't have any luck with the process. As you can see in this photo, the "roving" is coming through the homemade diz (a milk bottle cap with a 3/16 hole drilled through it), but it is pretty thin.

Here is a close up view of what is happening. I worked at it some more and had more success with just pulling one round from the drum carder, which instead of a continuous rope of roving, gave me short sections of thicker roving, as you will see in the next photo.

My drum carded Bluefaced Leicester Sheep fiber, short sectioned rovings.

On the loom, I have finished weaving my first bath towel and have started the second one. Shown in this photo is the final hem of the 1st towel and the beginning hem of the 2nd towel, with white waste yarn in between. Each finished hem is woven 3 inches deep and will be rolled over to sew and will end up being a 1" hem. After seeing what 3" looks like, it seems like overkill, but not having done this before, it is all an experiment. The warp is a thinner material than the weft, so it may be just fine when completed. If not, we will just have "thick, heavy ended" towels. ;)

An overhead view of the weaving. As you can see, I've just begun weaving the 2nd hem.......

Future updates at some point...... ;)

Monday, November 16, 2009

"Final Random Photos of Forestry Field Day...."

Here I am holding a sleeping Henry. He was the perfect baby that day, sleeping through both the chain saw and portable saw mill motor sounds. He was also wearing a pair of the socks that I had given him......

Which Don took a close photo up of for just this purpose! LOL

I can't remember if Anna and I are protecting ourselves by being behind a tree because of the tree falling or the horse team as they head towards us......I "think" it was to make sure we were not in the horse teams path. ;)

Another photo of the sleeping Henry when up by the portable saw mill.......

A photo of Henry's Dad, Michael, along with the woman who took video of each event of Forestry Field Day.

This is my last entry of that days events. Once again, we had a very nice time. Michael did an excellent job with organizing the day, along with the help of Luke and the others involved. Perhaps it will become an annual event? :)

Friday, November 13, 2009

"Forestry Field Day Part 4....."

After Luke felled the tree, the horse team came down to drag it out of the woods.

I just happened to be available to hold Henry, Mike and Anna's son. ;)

The horses were not too small, eh? :)

Such a beautiful animal.......

The horse team owner talking with Luke as to what he was going to do next.........

Anna with me as we wait for the team to be moved down to the fallen tree.

The chain being attached to the trunk.

With log attached, the team pulls it up towards the saw mill.

The portable saw mill with a trimmed log on it. The new log will be swapped for the rough trimmed one.

The rough sawed log being dragged to another location.

Rough sawing the new log.......

I have a few more photos from our day at Forestry Field Day, and will post them on Monday.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

"Forestry Field Day, Part 3....."

Our next event was to listen to this man from the DNR talk about "Forest Management". Unfortunately, I do not remember his name to give him credit, but he was very knowledgeable and interesting.

He spoke of tree species and why some were cut while others are left in a managed wood lot.

Our next speaker and demonstration came from Luke. We met Luke one night at Happy Hour on our deck, stopping by with Mike and Anna. He has done logging with horse teams before. He talked and then demonstrated the correct/safe way to cut a tree down.

Making a few strategic cuts.......

Explaining where and why.......

The dash for his pre-chosen safe spot when the final cut was made in the tree to have it fall.......

It fell quickly (AMAZINGLY SO!!!) AND where Luke had planned on it landing.

I "think" Luke was discussing the growth rings......

Making the measured cut so that the horse team can come in and drag it out to the portable saw mill.

To be continued.......