Friday, January 27, 2012

Blogging blahs

So I'll admit I have been in the blogging doldrums a bit recently.  I just haven't found things to be super excited to write about and I don't want this to be a place of boring ramblings (which this post will probably end up being anyway...). The kids have been very uncooperative in letting me take their pictures so I haven't even been able to indulge in their cuteness.  Outside has been dull and dreary most of the time so I haven't been able to take cool pictures of the outdoors and all in all I have been keeping very busy. So here's the wrap up on farm and home goings-on and I apologize in advance if I bore you all to tears.

I think we have decided not to do chickens again this year. All things considered they just haven't been very cost effective for us.  While I love the fresh eggs vs the store bought ones the amount of money we spent feeding and housing them far outweighed the cost of eggs. Right now we need to focus on some aspects of the farm that are more profitable or at least have the potential of being more profitable. The problem with the ducks and chickens is that we have had a real predator problem and have lost many birds. So much for free range being healthier- they are only healthier if they don't get eaten by a fox! We took both pigs to the butcher, one for us and one we sold so I am looking forward to some fresh bacon- yummm! Pigs have actually worked out well for us so far so we may get some more in the spring but for now we are content to not have to worry about watering them in the cold weather.

Frank has continued to have difficulties with the "frost free" faucet in the barn freezing up on him and preventing the automatic waterers from functioning properly.  He purchased some new heat tape this week so hopefully that will remedy the problem because having to drag a hose from the house to water the cows and sheep was certainly becoming a tiresome business. All 5 winter lambs are doing well and thriving.   We'll have a few to sell in time for Easter but I think that we will keep a few of these girls back for breeding stock. Currently we are at 15 ewes so here's hoping that we are in for a robust crop of spring lambs.  I believe that Bob has been trying his best! We moved the geese in with the sheep which may seem like an odd pairing but they seem to enjoy each others company.

We acquired a new Hereford bull this month named Buckey who will hopefully sire at least 2 calves. Unfortunately Molly is getting to the age where she may no longer be able to calve and then we'll have to look at retiring her. Jack is shaping up to be a nice looking bull calf and Little Bit is living up to his name.  He is a sweetheart though.  Annabelle is still a bit skittish but she's slowly coming around.

That is the farm updates and on the house front we are doing some more renovations. The plan is to take the playroom and turn it into a big boy room for James.  Mostly the carpet in there is gross and I have been looking for an excuse to rip it out and replace it with new flooring. James decided the theme of his room should be trucks (how original right...) so we are painting the walls a lovely warm yellow color, putting in new hardwood floors, and updating the outlets and light fixtures. I plan to paint the corner behind the door with chalkboard paint so he will have someplace to express himself on the walls! In the process of cleaning the playroom out I have been doing some major swilling.  I took a whole carload to the dump today and out a whole list of stuff of freecyle to get rid of. We'll call it early spring cleaning!

We have some rotted floor boards by the front door and what we hoped was just a leaky door has turned into a much bigger project that is going to require a backhoe to come and remove the front steps. Once those have been ripped out we'll just have to see how much water damage is behind them.  Fingers crossed not too much! But refinishing the living room floor has been put on hold until we can get a handle on the amount of water damage that is there.  The plan is that once that has all been taken out and repaired then we can replace the rotted floor boards and refinish the living room floor. That will leave us without any front steps so we'll be saving our pennies in the hopes of building a front deck in the nearish future. The joys of home ownership!

So that is what we have been up to behind the scenes.  I'm going to be spending a lot of time painting in the near future because we are having the new floor installed in James room Feb 20th, but I'll try to accost the kids with the camera so you can see how big they are getting!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Yarn Along

So I have been busy working on Baby B's layette.  I finally finished the owlie sleep sack. It was an easy knit so I am honestly not sure why it took me so long- probably the 10 in of stockinette.  I got bored I think.  I used a slightly lighter weight yarn than the pattern called for but I didn't want to size up too much on the needles b/c I wanted it to actually be a cocoon and not a loose bag so hopefully Baby B isn't an enormous baby because this sack is definitely for a newborn. So right now my layette consists of an owlie hat, owlie sleep sack, an owlie milo, and a pair of longies.  I plan to make a pair of booties and then I am done!  I found out today that one of my co-workers is also having a baby boy so more fun boy things to knit.  I'm not sure what I am going to make for her- the baby is due in June. I like the owlie set but I might need to branch into something a bit different- maybe shorties and the XOXO milo.  Is the XOXO milo girly do you think?  I also volunteered to test a hat pattern for a fellow diva so I have to get cracking on that.  It is a cabled hat so my cable needle and I are going to be getting quite friendly I think! And in spare bits and moments I have been working on my prayer/remembrance shawl for baby Poppy one row at a time.  It's hard to believe that it has been six months since the miscarriage- in some ways it feels so much longer and so much shorter at the same time.

I just picked this book up from the library- Back to Pakistan.  I heard them talking about it on NPR awhile back and it sounded really interesting to me.  The one really nice thing about our library is that in their budget for new books is a portion set aside for books that patrons request and since the librarian and I have similar tastes in reading she will often purchase books that I request for the library and then I get first crack at them.  So it's like getting a brand new book for free =) I picked this up this morning so all I have managed to read is the preface but basically it is the story of a diplomat's wife who was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Pakistan in the 1960s and who returned to her village some 50 year later.  I often wonder what it would be like to return to my village in Senegal and see if anyone even remembers me!?!? So I am interested to read her account of returning 50 years later.

Come yarn along with us over at Ginny's place.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Yarn Along

Honestly I haven't been doing much reading recently- mostly just lots and lots of stories with the kids.  We have been doing a lot of phonics readers along the lines of Frog on a Log and Fat Cat on a Mat, Mike Mulligan is a perennial favorite, as well as Click, Clack, Moo but we have been able to graduate to some slightly longer stories such as Farmyard Tales and Usborne Stories for Little Boys. We have a lot of Usborne books product of a book party we did in August.  I'm actually thinking about doing another party for Xander's birthday- instead of toys having everyone get him books instead.  He certainly doesn't need any more toys and though he has a ton of books somehow I feel more comfortable with the idea that you can't have TOO many books! I would really like to encourage the boys in a love of reading.  Mostly now they ask to knit...probably from seeing me spend way too much time with my needles. So last week I gave them each a pair of big chunky needles and a small ball of scrap yarn.  Xander tried to actually knit for a few minutes but then they started tying each other up with the yarn so I had to intervene. I'm thinking that maybe they would be able to use a knitting frame or a knitting Nancy- Xander at least.  Any suggestions for a three year old (other than wait until he is older)? I want to try to find something they can do with fibre so they feel like they are actually being "like mommy." They just want to do whatever am doing so I am having a hard time finding things to keep them occupied while I am knitting.

As per my usual I have been doing a lot of knitting!  I finished up these longies over the weekend.  I may still embroider an owl on the leg but at this point I am thinking that a decent size owl might be a bit overwhelming.  I did add a cargo pocket to make them more boyish because the blue is rather periwinkle and could read a little purple. I used a single ply yarn from Manos del Uruguay which is just lovely and the trim is Malabrigo Worsted- one of my favorite yarns. I ended up with some extra time on Monday so I finished up a small milo for the same layette set.  I really enjoy the milo pattern so I will probably make more of them in the future!  I really want to make one with and XOXO cable.  Then tonight I was able to finish this owlie hat to go with the set  I'm also planning on doing an owlie sleep sack and a pair of booties to round out the layette.  I'm actually making really good progress on this set so that makes me really happy because I want it to be finished well in time for baby's arrival- scheduled for April but according to his mama she doesn't think he is going to wait that long!

Once I have finished this layette I will head back to my WIP pile and see if I can't get it done! I've got a half finished pair of gloves that would be coming in handy right now if they were done!  Come yarn along with us over at Ginny's place

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Yarn Along

Well I am still reading Naked Heat by Richard Castle, which is pretty much a sad commentary on how little time I have had to read recently. The again I have chosen to spend what free time I have knitting and not reading so that at least is a personal choice. Much of my problem lay in the fact that I had a hard time getting into this book but since I like to finish one book at a time I didn't really let myself pick up something new, however since I borrowed this book I figured I had better read it so I could give it back! It's actually an easy read and now that I have gotten more into the meat of the story it is pretty decent, not as predictable as the last book, but then again I am still not finished!

In addition to my knitting I have been spending quite a bit of time "spring cleaning." It's a bit early for spring cleaning but if I start now I might actually finish by spring... Needless to say we have a lot of junk lying about the house. I am trying to get myself viciously organized and am only partially succeeding. I got the book A to Z Storage Solutions by Donna Smallin in my stocking and I have been trying to make use of her tips but also shovel as I go.  I spent all this morning shoveling out the guest room closet and I made some headway but we still have a lot of stuff! I have also made good headway into organizing, cataloging, and properly storing all my yarn so the next project is cleaning out the craft room so I can have a place to be crafty; something that is hard to do when the craft room door is blocked by a iron board loaded with stuff waiting to be put away! I made shameless use of Raverly in an attempt to get myself organized and catalogued all my yarn in my "stash." Hopefully that will prevent me from purchasing duplicate yarn and save me from buying more yarn when I have something in the stash that will suffice.  The goal for this year is to make a dent into the stash, a big dent!

Xander enjoying his new mommy made sweater.
As for knitting I worked up this sweater for Xander last week.  It's from the Fit for YOU pattern by Shonny Isley, a fellow Diva.  I must say I am a total slacker because I was supposed to test this pattern for her back in August and I had the yarn and everything and I am just getting around to it. Basically I realized that if the pattern requires me to do math then it isn't a good pattern for me to get going quickly on.  That being said, it worked up nicely and very easily.  I didn't make something fancy with cables or anything so it is just a nice, plain, very functional sweater.  I made it a bit big on purpose so there is some room to grow but overall the fit is nice.  I should have closed up the V a little sooner so it wasn't so wide on the shoulders but I also haven't blocked it yet. This pattern doesn't really lend itself well to a bulky weight yarn in a small size (although what pattern really does) so I do want to try it in something of a lighter weight. I really do love the raglan style though.

Once I finished Xander's sweater I moved onto to some longies for my neighbor's expected babe.  Actually the plan is to make a whole layette, including longies, a hat, booties, a milo, and a sleep sack/cocoon but since the baby is due in March we'll see how far I get! I'm using Carina Spencer's Convertible  Baby Bloomers pattern but since this babe is a boy I am making them as longies rather than bloomers.  I like the fit of the butt and thighs in this pattern. I love making longies in a single ply yarn- it is so soft and cozy feeling.  I'm not sure I would use a single ply on a bigger baby (I am making a nb size) because I would be afraid it would pill terribly but ooooh they are squishy.  The rest of the layette will be made in superwash for easy care but longies are special!

Well back to my organizing and knitting!  Come join us over at Ginny's place to check out all our New Year's Knitting.