Sunday, December 28, 2008

The new stove in action

We are processing our turkies today (and yesterday). After the turkey is dead, we skin it, take out the insides, take off the head, and clean it. Then it gets tossed in a pot of seasoned water and vegetables to boil until it is fully cooked. We then pull out the meat and bones and separate the breast meat for sandwiches and the dark meat for soups and other things. We add another turkey to the pot and cook that one as well. The front right pot will hold about 35 pounds of fresh turkey (10 gal pot). The two back ones will hold 25 pounds. In all, we can do 4 turkies at a time. After they are all done cooking, we separate the fat out, cool it to get even more fat out, and cook the broth down till it is fairly concentrated. We then freeze the broth for soups and gravies. Our old stove (standard 30") could only handle 2 of the large pots at a time. It was very difficult to work because the pots were touching each other and not completely under the burners. It would also take 2 hours for water to boil in the 10 gallon pot. With this stove, water is boiling in under 20 minutes in each of the pots. The turkies cook faster and production moves right along. Our whole house smells like turkey soup.

This is working so well I can hardly wait until canning time.

Turkey lungs

For the scientists out there, this is a picture of a turkey lung. It has a spongy feel to it.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Pot Holder

Here are 2 pictures of the pot holder I finished yesterday. You can slide your hand inside it and use it like a mit (it might be too thin for that, though).

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Brand New Ram Lamb

Yesterday Button had her lamb. He is an adorable little guy. So far all we did is strip her teats (get milk to flow from them), watch to see he is getting milk (they wiggle their tails when they are drinking), and iodine his navel. In a couple of days we will take care of the other things.

Sorry about the lighting in this video. The heat lamp makes it look odd.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Coats

To make the coats for sheep, I first take a nice sturdy cotton material like canvas or denim. I measure my sheep (not each time, but the first time). I take their back (neck to rump)measurement and I measure how big around they are from one side to the other. I add a little bit (about 2") to that measurment so their fleece has room to grow. I take a neck measurment and add quite a bit to it so I can get the coat over their head. I transfer all of my measurments to the canvas and commence cutting the rectangle, don't forget to make it longer so you can sew X and X together to make a hole for the neck. You can take the neck cut-out, trim it down, and use it for the tail flap. I use binding on all of the edges so they do not unravel and I sew (tack) triangles into all of the inside corners and tripple sew the neck area (any place where there may be a lot of stress).

I know this sounds complicated, but it really is not. It is just a rectangle with an oval cut out of one end and moved to the other end.

After I am done with that, I sew thick elastic to the two rear corners about 3" from each side. I make sure I set them into the rectangle at least 2 inches and sew them down good. They will be pulled on quite a bit. Do not make the elastic too long or it will slip, don't make it too short or it will pull on the sheep all of the time. Slip your arm in the hole up to your bicept and it should fit slightly loose.
Ram coats are a little different if they have horns. I add at least 1 foot to the lenghth of the neck flaps and then I sew D rings on and a nylon strap so I can put the coat on the ram and then close the neck area. It is like a wrap in front.
You can also purchase coats from Powell Sheep Company (760) 789-1758. They will be nicer than this design, but they both work well. It would be a good idea to get one (torn and used is fine) and use it for a pattern like I did. I bought a terribly used one at a wool show for $4.
Good luck!
For those who wonder why I and many others coat their sheep, it is to keep the wool clean. Studies have shown that not only is the wool cleaner, it also gets slightly longer. The coats do not make the sheep hot, unless you are wrapping them in something that does not breathe. If they get wet, they keep the wool drier and they dry faster than the wool would dry. Coated fleeces cost more money because of the extra labor involved (they need to be changed every so often), but they are much easier to process. There have been reports that coated sheep do not suffer as many attacks from predators as uncoated sheep, perhaps the sound of the material or the look of it diverts the predators to more "normal" looking prey.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Up Top in the Barn

This picture really does not do the hay loft any justice. There are 100+ bales of corn stalks, 30 bales of straw, 7 "bales" of pine shavings, and 300 bales of hay. The heat lamps are on the right ready for use. The beach towel has 2 fleece lamb coats in it just in case I need them. We also have a bag of egg layer feed and cracked corn behind me. I love looking up there and seeing the orderly stacks of bales. I do not understand, however, why in the world people think a roll in the hay or sleeping in the hay loft is romantic. It would not be, it is very itchy and dusty.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The 4-Ply Cable Yarn

The blue yarn pictured is very soft, 100% merino from Ashland Bay in Baltic.

This is the yarn I am using for one of the sweaters I am making. To create it, you first spin 2 full bobbins of singles in one direction (S). You then ply them in the opposite direction (Z). Then you ply your 2 bobbins of 2 ply in the original direction (S). There it is, S or Z makes no difference, as long as you alter the direction of spin as I stated. It is pretty simple.
My singles are very fine here. I can spin 5-10' of one-ply this fine in 1 minute. Each bobbin has a little more than 4 oz on it and about 1700 yards. At a rate of 100-200 yards an hour 4 ounces of that one ply takes me 9-17 hours. The plying takes hardly any time, though. Thankfully!
This is the prime reason hand spun yarns are so expensive. They are great to work with if done correctly, but the cost of labor is high. I would charge $10 an hour plus the cost of the fiber (about $3-$4 an ounce). A lot of handspun is bulky weight for this reason as well. Bulky takes less time to spin. I have a difficult time spinning fiber in different diameters than it "wants" to be spun, however. Each type of fiber has different characteristics that call your hands to spin in a different way. The handspun from Kodiak (picutered in the banner) is about 1/3 as fine as this yarn. If I try and spin contrary to what the fiber wants my yarn gets uneaven.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Just sanded and sealed

Now we need 3 more coats of poly.

Geneva Metal Kitchen Cabinets

I am thinking of selling my kitchen cabinets. I love them, but I can not find them to complete the kitchen. They are highly collectable so many get snatched up pretty quickly. I will take a couple of photos and share them when I get the camera out of the kitchen. I can not walk in there to get it and it is killing me because I want to take some pictures of the floor for you all. It is amazing. Now our kitchen has the nicest floor in the house. How is that for a turn around?

Mary, Button, and vaccines

Mary and Button were both bred in early July.

In September we vaccinated the ewes for Campylobacter fetus. C. fetus is a bacteria the lives in the gallbladder and intestines of ewes. When the ewe gets pregnant, the bacteria goes into her uterus, into the placenta, and then kills the fetus. 90% of ewes who have this problem will abort their fetus, but, it is like chicken pox in that they will be immune from this after they have had it once. They can be carriers and infect other ewes, though. This shot protects them from aborting. It is given at the beginning of breeding as well for new ewes and then just an annual booster. The vaccine is also to protect against late-term abortions caused by Chlamydia psittaci. Once there is an outbreak of C. psittaci the vaccine will not cure it. It comes from infected fetal membranes, a dead fetus, and uterine discharges. If the flock becomes infected; abortion rates can get as high as 60%.

We also vaccinated them with CD&T. The T stands for tetanus. "Enterotoxemia type C, also called hemorrhagic enteritis or "bloody scours," mostly affects lambs during their first few weeks of life, causing a bloody infection in the small intestine. It is often related to indigestion and is predisposed by a change in feed, such as beginning creep feeding or a sudden increase in milk supply, perhaps caused by the loss of a littermate. Enterotoxemia type D, also called overeating disease or "pulpy kidney disease," usually affects lambs over one month of age, usually the largest, fastest growing lamb(s) in the flock. It is precipitated by a sudden change in feed that causes the bacteria, already present in the lamb's gut, to proliferate, resulting in a toxic reaction. Type D is most commonly observed in lambs that are consuming high concentrate diets, but can also occur in lambs nursing heavy milking dams." To protect the lambs, we vaccinate the ewes late in their pregnancy (yesterday for Mary and Button). The vaccine will be in the ewe's milk and protect the lambs for about 10 weeks. We will vaccinate the lambs in January again.
We also wormed Mary and Button yesterday. We did that because pregnancy and nursing is very stressful on ewes and if they are sick with a bunch of worms they will not get the nutrients they need. We will probably move them into a new enlosure in the barn in a few days after the worm eggs pass so they are on clean straw with their lambs.
The whole worm issue is not a fun one for me. I do not like giving the sheep too many pharmaceuticals. So, I purchased artemesia seeds (wormwood) to plant in the pasture. Sheep do not like wormwood and will probably avoid it even though it does a decent job in reducing worms in their intestnes. So, if they do not eat it, I will dry it and add it to their hay. If they refuse that, I will powder it and add it to their water. We will still need to use wormers, but if we use natural defenses and rotational grazing we should not need to do it as often.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Laugh out loud

I love a good joke and there is a place I visit for clean jokes periodically. Here is a small sampling:

A college class was told they had to write a short story in as few words as possible. The instructions stated the short story had to contain the following three things:
1. Religion
2. Sexuality
3. Mystery
Below is the only A+ short story in the class:
"Good God, I’m pregnant, I wonder who did it?"

An elderly man in Chicago calls his son in New York and says, “I hate to ruin your day, but I have to tell you that your mother and I are divorcing; 45 years of misery is more than I can stand.”
“Dad, what are you talking about?” the son screams.
“We can’t stand the sight of each other any longer,” the old man says. “We’re sick of each other, and I’m sick of talking about this, so you call your sister in Los Angeles and you tell her.”
Frantic, the son calls his sister. She explodes on the phone. “Baloney. We’re not letting them get divorced,” she screams, “we’re going to take care of this.”
She calls Chicago immediately, and screams at her father, “You are NOT getting divorced. Don’t do a single thing until I get there. I’m calling my brother back, and we’ll both be there tomorrow. Until then, don’t do a thing, DO YOU HEAR ME?” and she hangs up.
The old man hangs up his phone, turns to his wife, and says. “Okay, they’re coming for Thanksgiving and they’re paying their own what do we do for Christmas?”

When I was younger, I hated going to weddings ... it seemed that all of my aunts and the grandmotherly types used to come up to me, poking me in the ribs and cackling, telling me, “You’re next. You’re next.”
They stopped that stuff after I started doing the same thing to them at funerals.

A priest is walking down the street one day when he sees a small boy trying to press a doorbell on a house across the street. But the doorbell is just out of his reach.
He watches the boy’s efforts for some time, until finally he crosses the street, walks up behind the little fellow and, placing his hand kindly on the child’s shoulder leans over and gives the doorbell a ring.
Crouching down to the child’s level, the priest smiles benevolently and asks, “And now what, my little man?”
To which the boy turns and yells, “NOW WE RUN!”

For more, go here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Prelude to winter

It is finally starting to melt.
The kids are having a blast in it.

The air we breathe

AHHH! Breathe in, Breath out.
I had some terrible lung problems. Pluerisy in both sides of my lungs, near collapse of both sides of my lungs, and a growth in the left side. Geee, I wonder why. This wall used to be white. The build-up on the wall is soot and other icky debrise from our old furnace. I am shocked everytime I come across evidence of our old furnace. This little piece was behind some cabinets we had put in that we just took out to work on the floor. I am so glad we got rid of that thing. It sure could heat the house, but it was really bad for our health. I have not had issues since we stopped using it and switched to corn 2 years ago.

What's under there????

Every time some show has on "The Ugliest Kitchen Contest" I laugh at the entrants. Well, here is one reason hideous cobblestone linoleum, over faux brick disgusting linolium, over faux silestone linolium, over masonite, over plywood. We were wondering if we had wood floors in the kitchen so we could remedy this eyesore, but no, we ran into plywood.....or so we thought.
Well, we had to remove the cabinet and broken range to make room for the new range when what should we find?

1" maple flooring, like the rest of our downstairs. The dark spots are a buildp of something and not stained. Yipee!!! Bub bye ugly green coblestone, hello maple.

Way up high in the sky beds

The kids needed more space in their room, so the "twins" (not really) got matching loft beds from IKEA. They love them.
We also took all of their toys out of their room and went through their clothes. We told them that they will get a little bit of their toys back at a time so they learn how to organize them and keep their room clean. So far, without toys, the room is staying pretty clean. Next week they will get to take one box of toys back. They have bins to help them organize. I am also making them get rid of at least 10% of the toys in each box. We will see......

Monday, October 20, 2008

Sweet Amanda's Birthday Tights

Amanda loves her funky tights and we love that they keep her legs warmer so here is a display of her new birthday tights.

The Justification

It was getting impossible to even wipe down the stove because the glass is pretty sharp. So, FYI, if you get a stove like this one or aquire a glass top electric through a home purchase like us, do NOT put hot things on it when it is cold or cold things when it is hot!

The Replacement

electrolux icon 48"
I have been waiting about 7 years for a stove like this. Dear kept pushing me to replace the ones we had (old house and here) but I kept saying no, I do not want to buy a replacement unless I absolutely have to or unless we get the opportunity to buy what would really work for us. This will make canning time go so much smoother. I can not even express how much of a pain canning time is with a tiny stove. I could not cook meals for a month because the stove top was taken over by only 2 pots! I did not really need 2 ovens, but Dear wanted 2 and they will actually work out really well for us since the small one is 15” wide inside we will probably use that one all of the time and the larger one will be reserved for massive cooking projects (many loaves of zucchini bread) or turkeys. The one I was looking at a few years back was $4000 more than this one, but it was the only one available at the time and I could not justify that price, but then Electrolux came out with this one and I have been pouring over ratings and reviews on this stove and the only “bad” comment was that one lady was surprised you actually needed to use the simmer plate that was included. So, I think this will be good. I also did not want to get some fancy stove that no one could repair or that I would have headaches with the manufacturer and the warranty. This one is sold at Sears, so it is really close by if I need anything or if I need to harass anyone.
My old stove had a glass top and someone put a hot dish on it when it was cold and cracked the top. The glass has gradually been sagging and the heating element has lost a lot of power. I have cooked on the hazzard for about 2 years. So now the count...We have replaced a refrigerator and purchased a Kenmore Pro, a washing machine with a Kenmore HE4T, we bought a Bosch dishwasher, and 2 chest freezers (both Kenmore). Our kitchen should look fabulous, right? Wrong, we still have the ugliest kitchen in the world. We have 3 different counter top styles (green, tan, and charcole), we have 3 different cabinet styles (awsome Geneva metal ones, crappy stock wood ones, and really crappy metal ones I had moved in the house from our garage). Our floor is green cobblestone linolium with a huge hole in it because it was bubbling. Our sink is an odd white plastic two bowl. So, please do not be jealous. You can do so much better. I don't even want to talk about our one bathroom or I may cry. But the stove!!!! So functional. I am truely excited about that.

Friday, October 17, 2008

New Yarn in the works

My mother asked me to make a single ply frm these 2 rovings for a weaving project.

I am not thrilled with the thickness and consistancy, so I will spin it finer, but take longer...but I love the way the color turned out! The rovings are both from Ashland Bay, purchased at Paradise Fibers.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Personal Growth and Accomplishments

This week I broke down and started to work on some of my building projects. I need to have 13- 4'x4' panels built for the sheep for this winter and I need 3 to 4 mangers / hay feeders. Mary and Button are due at the end of November, so I have to get going on the panels for their lambing pens and their hay feeder. I made one useable prototype feeder and 4 panels (I need 4-5). I am really proud of myself. I did this all with a hand saw, a drill, and a hammer. I predrilled almost all of the holes first as well. "Dear" was gone most of the week, so this was my project. It feels so good to create something useful, especially since the process is pretty new to me.
(The manger photos were taken inside the large building that needs to be re-roofed. Also, a small plastic bin will fit into the base of the manger to cut down on hay waste.)

Monday, October 6, 2008


The soap is curing and when I cut it it broke, but it is still soap and my does it smell good. I particularly like the Neroli, Frankincense, and Rosewood combo. They are all fabulous, though.

Pickled Peppers

Amber's Merinos picked a peck of peppers to pickle promptly.

New glasses

Wow she is pretty!

Since getting her new glasses with prisms she has spent a lot more time reading. Hannah has a problem with the function of her eyes. She does not have lazy eyes, but she has to use eye muscles purposfully when us "normal" people have eyes that function with not a lot of thought. We say, "ok, eyes, time to read." and our eyes automatically work together to grab the letters. Hannah's do not. She has to use her eye muscles to position her eyes in the right place so the letters are alligned properly. I never would have known she was having this problem if I did not take her to the eye doctor. Thankfully I did. She looks adorable, so grown up. She likes the transitions too. The frames are made by Candies.

When's lunch?

In 6 more weeks the table will look a little less feathered. YUM!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Left Unfixed

We received an estimate to reroof the quonset. It is 36' x 100' and all curved wood trusses. I love the look of this building. Sadly, though, the roof is starting to leak. So, what was the magic number????


Not sure what we are going to do. All I know is, we will not let it tumble to the ground like so many old barns do.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Furnace update

So far so good. We are heating with the heat pump and cooling with it since the temperatures are fluctuating so much.
The house even smells better. The purifier sure makes a difference. The service was really good too.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I got misty eyed

My new Strauch Drum Carder came last week. I actually got a little choked up.

I had to try it out right away.
Oh my goodness, this was like cotton with one pass through! I love my sheep! I love love love my sheep!


We have been canning for the past month and there is so much more to go. So far we have Apple Sauce galore, Pickled Watermelon Rind (yuck! but Dear loves it), Rhubarb Strawberry Preserves (from our rhubarb and strawberries), Strawberry Preserves, Hot and Spicy Pickled Asparagus (I love this stuff), Peaches, Spaghetti Sauce, Dried Apples, and Dried Tomatoes. I still have more spaghetti sauce to do, I have to make salsa, can whole tomatoes, more apples sauce and apple pies and dried apples, make chili, more watermelon rind, and I am sure I will find something else. I did not get to the pears in time. Maybe next year. Then I get to start in on making pans and pans of lasagna. I forgot about all of the Zucchini Bread we made too and we will be able to make about 3-4 more loaves.

Having all of that food ready is a huge help. You may think I have loads of time to cook meals every day, but with MNVA, I have many days that I can barely get into the kitchen to clean.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


While looking around for a entry closet I found this site. It has so many neat things to create and even so weird, but hysterical things as well. Check out the crocodile USB drive:

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Knitting update

Locks from 2 of my merinos. The brown is a 16.7 micron. I have not tested the white, but it is finer than the brown. The white will be spun and died orange for a sweater I am looking forward to doing soon.

I am finally ready to begin the v-neck part of this sweater. It is looking really nice. I think it would make a great tank dress for one of the girls, but I am putting 3/4 sleeves on it and it is made for me. Sorry girls.

This is the yarn I am going to use for my next sweater project. I am going to ply this 2-ply with another 2-ply so it is the right diameter yarn. It is 100% merino Baltic roving from Ashland Bay and I spun it very fine and plied it once only to find out that it needs another 1/3 in thickness to be able to make my next project.

School begins!

After a long summer of hard work, Amanda, our 8 year old developed a hard body.

We had our first official day of school. The kids will be updating their blogs regularly now. Check out what they are learning. Aaron is in first grade history and science, Amanda is in second grade history and science and Hannah is finishing up forth grade history and science.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Unattributed Cartoon

I hate to include this because my source for this did not list the artist, but I still thought this was cute, so if anyone knows where it came from, let me know and I will properly credit the person and link to them.


We are having a new furnace put in right now. Our old one was from the 60s and spewed fuel oil soot into the house. We also got an air purifier and a heat pump so we will have central air! They threw in a whole house humidifier which is great for us because our house gets really dry in the winter. I will love the new thermostat that controls it all too.

Baby Pests

These little mice were in a nest under a shed floor. The nest was made of feathers and thistel seeds. They were squeeking for their mom who went scurrying away.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

What is Isaac Newton doing at Cabela's?

We left early in the morning when the fog was still on the lake.

After we got the kids, we had to get some shoes. REI did not have them, so we went a different way home and swung by Cabela's. This is a real stuffed elephant. If I remember correctly, this animal was confiscated from a poacher and donated to Cabela's. It is huge!

(Click on photos to enlarge)
Cabellas has a ton of stuffed creatures.
They arrange them naturally.
What is Newton doing with Hannah?