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Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Back to winter weather

We've had a very mild winter, so far. Last weekend we had heavy rain & very high winds.  Several building in town lost shingles, and a few trees are down.  We didn't have any damage to our property.  Our neighbor to the south had a tree come down near her cabin & garage.
Large tree

Large tree that missed all buildings.
After the windy weather, Joshua and I got the first layer of rubber applied to the Hobbit House.  It's now a nice green color.

And the, winter made it's continued presence known... It snow on Saturday night 3/11. We got about 3 inches.
Cricket in the snow

Bunny tracks

I took these videos Sunday morning.  The dogs really enjoyed the walk.

We canned some venison yesterday.  I started out by removing all the connective tissue from the meat.  After 2 hours, my hands were exhausted.  Josh took over.  He ground the meat, packed the jars & loaded them into the pressure cooker.  This was his first canning experience.  Now he knows exactly what to do.

I finally finished a sweater I started 2 years ago.  I'm not happy with the collar... I've worked on it quite a while, and I may re-do it yet again.  Or I may just put the buttons on and accept it the way it is. Earlier this year I scored a great find, a collection of buttons, at the local flea market.   I remember moving my stash of pewter buttons while I was sorting all the buttons.  Now I can't find them.  Dang.  Anyway, I've put the sweater aside while I search for buttons.
The back of the Fair Isle sweater for me

The front of the sweater.  No buttons.
 My next project is a double knit Fair Isle vest.  A new challenge for me.  The vest will be completely reversible. Here's a link to my Ravelry page for this project.  Camilla, a Fair Isle Vest

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Spring on the homestead.

It's been rather warm the past few days.  The flowers are really putting on a show!
Pale yellow daffodil with yellow center.

White hellebore.

Purple hellebore.

White daffodils with orange centers.

Yellow daffodils.

We had some VERY high winds on Wednesday, 3/01, early in the morning.  Our dogs woke me up at 3:20.  They were terrified!  The wind sounded like a train coming through the house.  I'd heard that description for a tornado before... but I don't think we actually had a tornado.  Just high wind.  We didn't have any damage to our property.  A large tree fell down next to our neighbor's hunting cabin, no damage to any structures though.  Thankfully.
The tree just missed the cabin & garage.

Big tree

We've made some progress on the Hobbit House.  Joshua worked his buns off, removing clay that fell in over the winter.  John got the tractor out & used the bucket to help.  Sorry, I have no pictures of this activity.  I was busy removing splattered cement from the slab (floor) inside.  Why didn't the men put plastic down to protect the floor before they started adding cement to the dome??  ARRRRRRGH!

Anyway, the french drain is now in.  We should have several warm, dry days next week.  We'll be applying the rubber sealant to the structure.  That should make it waterproof.  Then I can start working on the interior walls.

Pictures of the progress...
French drain installed.

French drain, the black perforated pipe, then covered with gravel.

Scraping the splattered cement to clean up the floor inside.

I finished the boot cuffs I've been working on.  They came out well.  I like them!

We have an unidentified tree blooming in "the pasture".  It also bloomed last year.  We've had several people say  it might be a Bradford Pear. There's no aroma.  It looks like an apple blossom.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

February weather

Normally at this time of year, we have snow and/or ice on the ground.  The temperatures are in the mid-30's during the day.  Here's a picture from 2/17/15.

This ice storm was in February 2013.

And this year?  No snow or ice.  At all. Nothing.  Maybe that doesn't seem odd to you, but ponder this.  It's been so warm that the tree frogs (alias peepers) are sing outside right now.  It's only 43F right now and I hear peepers singing.  The wasps are out already.  And the lizards and garter snakes.  Very odd, if you ask me.

I've been working on the floor inside the Hobbit House.  I've been scrapping off concrete that fell through the mesh when they were working on the dome.  I need to remove this mess before we can put any tile down.

Joshua was working on the french drain for a few hours yesterday.  That is damn hard work.  Shovel and bucket work.  He's removing clay from around the concrete pad so the drain tube can be laid down.  Then gravel will cover the drain.  We have the sealant that we will cover the dome with, as a rubber barrier.  This will waterproof the dome, so we can bury the whole structure.

We'll work on the inside during the summer.  The interior will be cool in the summer, nice for working on the interior walls & putting tile down.

I made a Pinterest board for the Hobbit House, if you'd like to check it out.  Here's a link:

Hobbit house ideas on my Pinterest board

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

New books

I'm always interested in learning new things, or in this case "new to me".  I watched a homesteading video on YouTube and he referred to these 3 books.  So, I thought I'd invest in them for our homestead.

The fist book is "The Forgotten Crafts", by John Seymour. When I handed this book to my husband John, he was very interested.  He looked through it for a few minutes, vowing to peruse it again.

Do you need to make an enclosure for your livestock?  The section on stiles will help you design & construct it so that the animals can't get you & YOU can. Do you need a new, rugged pair of shoes? Learn how to cut your own clogs. Barrel making, saddle making, basket weaving, sod cutting, charcoal making.  This book introduces you to the skill and shows you the tools you need to complete the task.

The second book, "The Forgotten Skills of Self-Sufficiency" by Caleb Warnock.  This book was very interesting to me.  The author quotes for farmer's journals from the 1840's and 1850's, discussing planting times, how to replant if needed (and it usually was), saving seed, establishing a community seed swapping network and raising chickens.

The third book, "Lost Crafts", by Una McGovern, is a real treasure.  The print is tiny, and the book is thick.

This book cover a great assortment of crafts. From dry stone wall laying to soap making, milking a cow to skinning a rabbit, pickling to thatching, blacksmithing to weaving.  Very handy for the homestead, to be sure!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Canine diabetes

Our older dog, Peanut, has been acting a bit odd lately.  She's been drinking A LOT.  And I mean A LOT.  As peeing a lot... vomiting, shaking, losing weight.  She's always been a chow hound, but lately she's been sleeping by the food & water bowl.  Odd.

We've had her 10 years now.  We don't really know how old she is, she's a rescue dog.  She was a young adult when she came to live with us.

Miss Peanut in 2008
She had an eye infection last week, so we took her to the vet for treatment. Shaw Veterinary Clinic While we were there we made arrangements to get her teeth cleaned this week, on Wednesday.  But on Tuesday she was rather ill.  Drinking, peeing & vomiting.  When we took her in on Wednesday, I told Dr Roger Shaw about her symptoms.  Peanut had to stay & have blood work done so he could solve the mystery of her illness.  Her blood sugar was over 500!  OMG!

Both my parents, my cousin, several family friends, my sister-in-law all have diabetes.  I know this is a difficult disease to manage.  How in the heck do you manage it in dogs??!!

Just like people, when dogs get older & heavier they are more at risk for certain diseases.  Diabetes is one of them.  And Peanut was in the heavier category to be sure.  She's a shorty Jack Russell terrier and she weighed 25 pounds!  She's now down to 18.  A much healthier weight... but it was all lost in the past 6 months.

She's now going to be on insulin twice a day. I did my research on treating dogs with diabetes, and was a bit apprehensive about giving her the injection.  But this morning at her 6 AM dose, she didn't even flinch when I gave her the shot.  She was fixated on the jerky treat I had for her.  I hope this trend will continue.

More info on canine diabetes:
The following symptoms should be investigated as they could be indicators that your dog has diabetes:
  • Change in appetite.
  • Excessive thirst/increase in water consumption.
  • Weight loss.
  • Increased urination.
  • Unusually sweet-smelling or fruity breath.
  • Lethargy.
  • Dehydration.
  • Urinary tract infections.

Dog Diabetes Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment - Pet WebMD

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Saturday morning walk, Women's marches, thoughts on actvism

Cricket and I took a nice walk yesterday.  The weather was beautiful.  Very warm & sunny, especially for mid-January.
Looking downhill from the Hobbit House to the property line.

Looking uphill from the property line to the Hobbit House.
The Hobbit House is difficult to see... If you look just left of this big rock, you can see the window opening.  When the leaves are on the trees, it's all but invisible.

Several of my spinning friends participated in the Women's March in Bellingham, WA yesterday.  All these ladies are strong advocates of women's rights.  All are professional women.  They all have raised an family while working.  We've known each other for years.  I love these ladies, and was marching right along with them in spirit.  I hope they felt me there.

 We've done so many projects together; yarn for knitters in Bosnia, donations to the Heifer Society, charity knitting, teaching kids.  And we did these projects because it felt right, not for any recognition.  That's exactly how I prefer it. Doing something because it's the right thing to do.  Paying it forward.

As I look back on my life, I realize that I've always been an activist.  Not a pushy, loud activist.  More a feed the hungry kind of activist.  Help those in need - 2 legged or 4. I've always tried to make sure the kids in my extended family had what they needed.  My winter knitting/crochet projects are an example.

In a way, I saw my time in the Navy as activism also.  Doing what needed to be done.  I guess that's why I got a Human Services degree once I was out of the Navy.  I'd always wanted to be a nurse.  I was on the waiting list in Washington.  But I got the degree I did before my name even came up on the nursing list.  I guess I wasn't meant to be a nurse.

Two people who have always inspired me are Mahatma Ghandi & the Dahli Lama.  They both saw their nations exploited, their countrymen (and women) abused.  And they both worked for change without resorting to violence.Image may contain: 1 person, text

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Weird weather, gardens & bugs

The weather here in Sharp County, Arkansas has been very volatile lately.  We had 3 days with temperatures below freezing, then we had a few days close to 70 F.  And now we're back to colder weather.  Night time lows close to freezing and in the 40's during the day.  A fairly strong snow storm passed over Arkansas south of us.  And then freezing rain passed north of us.  We only had drizzle and fog.

We've been receiving plant and seed catalogs in the mail.  I haven't looked at them closely yet.  We have a stash of seeds, but it's always good to see what else is available.  I particularly like Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  I try to invest in heirloom seeds, so I can save my own for the next growing season.  I also want to have the old, tried and true plants.  The are more hardy, in my opinion.

We don't use herbicides or pesticides.  Our bees wouldn't like that.  I do admit to using wasp killer around the house. Particularly, on the front porch.  We have those large, nasty red wasps here.  And they seem to believe our front door is the portal to wasp heaven!  They literally cover the lintel if we don't spray.  And their sting if awful!  Here's more information on these beasties. Red wasps

Red Paper Wasps
We don't kill the wasps flying around the flower garden or the veggie garden.  Only around the doors and windows.  They may think they should come inside, but I disagree!

I haven't seen many hornets or yellow jackets.  There are fewer bumble bees around, which is really sad.  We also have mason bees.  And mud daubers (which aren't bees at all). And there is this interesting fellow that my husband calls a "good news bee".  It's actually a fly. good-news-bee-is-actually-a-hover-fly
Good news bee
I hadn't ever seen one, until I moved to Georgia.  They are friendly little guys.  Some days, one will follow me around everywhere I go.  

Our "yard" is actually a mixture of many different plants.  Dandelions, clover, plantain, wild garlic/onion, mullein, some traveling saw grass type grass... what else I'm really not sure.  We haven't put any chemicals on the "yard".  Whatever was growing there 11 years ago is what is there now.  Josh keeps it mowed.  It's nice and green.  That's all we care.  We have many species of wild flowers growing along the drive & under the power lines.  Echinacea, blue eyed prairie grass, black eyed susan, cosmos, wild oregano,  beautiful wild Siberian irises all over in the woods, day lilies, a tiny orchid.... I know I'm only touching on what's out there.  I love wandering around taking pictures of them.  If you're interested in wild flowers, check out Arkansas wild flowers