Saturday, January 30, 2016

Woolly Woolly....

 It's shearing time again!

Here's Baa Baa in her full wool.
Walking in line to be sheared.
(She doesn't know she's a famous sheep!)
(The grandkids love her.)

Sheared and coming out the chute.

Ahhh, 10 pounds lighter!

And here's another ewe coming down the ramp from the shearers.

 White as snow, grazing on some green hay.

A couple wool trompers!
They thought it was fun to tromp the skirted wool bits in the sacks.

A crew of helpers sitting on a wool sack.
There were 280 head of sheep sheared yesterday. 
Today we paint branded them and sorted 180 ewes that will lamb in a week.
The rest will hopefully lamb in May.

On another note:  Wool sweater pants!


You asked me to remember to send a pic of the wool sweater pants.
Here's one pair on wiggly Miss Lily.  
They fit her great and they are WARM!
She wore them over her leggings when we were outdoors shearing.

On about February 6-7th we should be having lambies!
Stay tuned.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Rustic crackers and cheese...

Yesterday Hubs ended up on the couch feeling terrible.
Body aches, head ache, just plain yuk!
So for supper, I thought we'd have beef stock and cheese and crackers.
Simple food.
I had the bone broth in the freezer so all I did was warm that up.
I had no yummy crackers so I made this standby recipe that
is very versatile and good. 
We had Dubliner cheese and Tillamook cheddar with our crackers.

Why are crackers so expensive anyway?
Just a little flour, oil, water, seasoning.  Bake!
Homemade are better too.
Here's the recipe.

Rustic Crackers

1 1/2 c. flour
1 1/2 t. cream of tartar
3/4 t. salt
3/4 t. baking soda
1/4 c. oil (I used olive oil)
1/2 c. water
1 medium egg
2 t. sugar
1 t. balsamic vinegar
1/4 c. sesame seeds
course salt for sprinkling

Any seasonings can go into the dough or on top of the crackers.
I like cracked pepper, garlic powder, and rosemary or oregano.

Preheat oven to 350* and lightly spray or wipe cookie sheet with oil.
Or bake on parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine first four ingredients and mix well. Add oil and stir until mixture resembles course meal. Add water next and stir until dough forms and sticks together.

In a small bowl, whisk together egg, sugar, and vinegar. Set aside.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll out thin. (think pie crust) Brush generously with egg mixture and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Sprinkle lightly with course salt. Cut, tear into strips, or use cookie cutters to make any cracker shape you want. (I bake it whole and then break after it's baked.)  Transfer to a baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350*. Bake time will vary with thickness/thinness of the crackers. Transfer to racks for cooling. Store crackers in an airtight container. If they ever pick up moisture and lose their crispness, just pop them into a 250* oven for a few minutes.


Friday, January 22, 2016

My Own Crib Quilt...

My Own Crib Quilt 
is done.
I think every Grandma should have a quilt 
for when her grandbabies come to visit.

 It measures:  54" x 47"
I stitched-in-the-ditch around each square
and then quilted diagonal lines across each block.

The backing is Fresh Air by American Jane Patterns
Sandy Klop for Moda  
It's a teeny tiny check that's so soft.

Now I'm all about cutting wool squares.
Nothing easy about cutting up suit coats.  Blah.
I'm going to make a pair of wool baby pants out of a sweater.
Like these.
It'll be a fun experiment.
"Lily" likes to play outside with her sisters, 
but she's not walking quite yet and it's still snowy.
Her pants ride up and her poor chubby ankles get cold.
The wool pants with cuffs at the ankle would keep her warm and dry, I think.

The sun is shining and it's up above the freezing mark.
I took a walk to the mail box this afternoon.

I got myself a new book.  A quilting book.
by Siobhan Rogers
I bought it mainly for this quilt, 

but there are lots of other quilts I like too.
Fun ideas.
I'm excited about it.

Have a happy day!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Sheeps, Kids, and Wools...

Do you see Baa Baa, the lone black sheep?
If you look closely, you can see blue lips on the ewe to the left of Baa Baa.
The kids noticed it right away.  They wanted to know why blue lips?
I told them it was from eating blue snow cones!
Really, it's comes from licking cobalt salt blocks.  
Ruminant animals need salt to digest vitamins found in their feed and turn it into energy.
Pretty cute aren't they?
 Nibble, nibble.

 Making sheep scatter!
Because it's fun!

 Pushing sheep just because they are there.  
And because they are fluffy.
Would ya look at that wool?
Soon we'll be shearing.

 Nibble, nibble.
Papa helping the kids feed the sheep by hand.


I've been inside working on a couple flannel quilts for the church and one for JJo's friend who will be having her first baby soon.  JJo did the quilt top and I finished it up.  Currently I'm working on "My Own Baby Quilt," -- the scrappy one.  Remember it?   I've begun the machine quilting part now and it's going pretty well.  I'm using a walking foot (on my new Bernina) and it works great. 
(Wool garments I found and a pair of baby moccasins) 

A dear friend gave me a special gift of an online class from Craftsy.  (BTW, their classes are on sale right now and so many choices!)  I'm so excited! I'm taking an embroidery and wool applique class which will surely challenge me, but before I can begin I have to find some woven wool fabrics to work with.  Today I spent a little time at the thrift store in town to see what I could find for wool garments that I can cut up and use in my projects. It's interesting to me that to buy new wool fabric by the yard or by the square, it is CRAZY expensive.  Like $24+ per yard.  But I can go to the thrift store and they do not price wool items differently than they do any other clothing items.   Besides the class project, I have an idea to make a wool blanket in "quilt fashion" kind of like this and this and this.  I'm especially fond of the first blanket with the soft pastel colors and the calico binding.  What do you think?

The weather is going to change from mild winter in the 30s
to cold, Arctic winter sinking to sub-zero temps at night and teens in the daytime.
Brrrrrrrr!  Rrrrrrr!  Rrrrrrr!
Bank up the fire and put on the kettle!
I hope you're warm wherever you are.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Views from snowshoes...

 Going uphill.
(A couple days ago I took this walk.  Mostly uphill from our main road.)

There were lots of tracks.  I think maybe coyote.
The men were chasing after one the day before.  They caught sight of him, but couldn't get him.
We're thinking about protecting our sheep and soon, baby lambs.

 At the top.
On the prairie we have bare spots on ridges and 
deep snow is drifted in the low areas and creeks.

 Looking out over the breaks.

We are headed back down over my tracks.  
Sue was glad she had my tracks to walk back in. 
 She did a lot of sinking.  So did I.

Today's walk is in the photos below.
I took off from our house and walked down a dry creek all the way up
to our Springs where a small dam is.
There was lots of snow in the creek bed and it had a hard crust
which made snowshoeing easier.
Still, I anticipate every step.
Any one of them could be a "sinker."
Just when you think you have easy walking, 
the snow caves underfoot and it takes some work to get
your footing again.

 Looks a bit like the moon doesn't it?

 The wind really blew after our last snow 
and since it was so cold then, 
the snow just blew into drifts that look like sand dunes or waves to me.  
Pretty in its own way.

 Charlie found a hole.

 He got his body halfway in there!

 I think it might be a badger den.  Or a fox den.
I heard a weird kind of "wa-oomph" sound in there.
We just moved on.
No sense disturbing a badger!

 More deep drifts on the way home.
Today was a gorgeous day to be out snowshoeing.
I suppose we got up into the upper 30s with bright sunshine and no wind.
On the way home, I took off my hat, gloves, and unzipped my jacket.
The one thing that I noticed more than anything else was
the quiet.
There is just something special about
experiencing that kind of quiet -- silence and solitude.
I noisily crunch along like Big Foot,
but when I stop and listen, it's SO quiet.

Snowshoeing is so challenging and fun to me.  It's like walking, but with big things strapped on my feet.  It requires much balance, being centered, and requires constant adjusting.  The terrain where I walk is not level.  I break my own trails.  Snowshoeing requires you to do a kind of sidestep. Sometimes the left leg is uphill and next the right leg is.  There is always the chance of a punch through and it can be a struggle to get out.  Then there are times when you can walk leisurely like a queen on top of the hard crusty snow.  But... I'm always leery of the cave-in.  I know it can happen anytime and if you're really striding out, you could really tumble yourself or hurt a leg if you sink down pretty deep.  

I love the challenge of snowshoeing, and I am feeling stronger every day that I walk.  My breathing is easier and no so laborious as it was the first day.  My legs and hips are stronger, and I am taking longer and longer walks without tiring.  These past few warm days have been so much fun for me.  The dogs are happy to go with me to and sniff around for things.  I feel sorry for them when they are stepping through the snow without snowshoes.

There is an Arctic cold blast coming in by the weekend, so I'm hoping to trek around as much as possible before then.  I do hope that there might be some new snow on the way.  It changes the landscape and makes for new adventures, even on the same paths.  Have you ever tried snowshoeing?  If so, where do you like to walk?

Saturday, January 02, 2016

Gradient chicken wire?

I was so thrilled to receive a beautifully embroidered tea towel from my DIL, JLynn, for Christmas.
What did I immediately think of when I saw it?  Chicken wire!  Yes.  That was the first thought that popped into my mind.  In fact, I thought she may have laid a piece of chicken wire down on the tea towel to trace, but she said, "No, they're hexagons."  Right!  Hexagons!  I was gifted the red, orange, yellow towel -- the warm colors.

I was so fascinated with the gradient chicken wire hexagons that I wanted to try it for myself.  I laid a ruler down on the towel first to give myself a straight line and then proceeded to trace around 1.5" hexagons straight across the entire width of my tea towel, and let me tell you, these are some wide tea towels -- 32".  I made five rows, stacked on top of each other, and then numbered them all so I wouldn't get mixed up.  I went around each hexagon with a color and the one next to that row got a part-round of the neighboring color, and so on, to all the other rows.  This way it looks gradient.

I'm working on more chicken wire tea towels but they will have some missing hexagons here and there.  They might look something like bee hives, but again, a gradient color choice.  I'm using a multi-colored green floss on the new towel over all.  It's turning out nicely, I think.  The green towel you see here was a gift to JLynn.

I've been using my time before lambing to work on my embroidery, and I'm really enjoying it.  I also hope to finish my string baby quilt which is waiting to be quilted and bound.   That'll be another fun project to complete.  Do you have any fun projects you are tackling just now?


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