Saturday, September 26, 2009

"Houston, we have a problem"

How can you tell that you have lost all hope, you are addicted to fiber and your family unsure of what to do (or maybe unwilling to give up the products of said addiction) supports you.

Scene: peaceful living room, calm inhabitants, whir of a wheel going in the background.

All of a sudden there's a thunk. The wheel slowly comes to a halt, treadle is laying on the floor and everyone looks up stunned.

My ever faithful footman connector has died after 20 yrs. It gave up with no warning, unable to continue it's essential duty any longer.

*moment of silence*

No problem, figuring that it had limited life left I had bought a replacement when the wheel came home. Can I find it??? Noooo. It's 9pm. Stores are closed. My family is getting that deer in the headlights look.
Justin takes the peices out and examines them, I'm looking around, where did that fish tank tubing go? Glue stick? Something, anything for a temporary fix until a new piece gets here.
I stand there staring at the partly plied bobbin that is to be socks for him. I just need to finish plying, then I can knit and I'll be fine until I can reconnect my footman to the treadle.
Do I have a cupboard full of yarn ready to go? Yes, of course I do. What kind of fiber addict do you take me for anyway?? They're all for different projects, or I haven't decided what they're for, but I'm pretty sure J. won't go for lilac Kool-aide socks...even if they'll be hidden in boots.
Dear man quietly asks if I have some knitting I can do? No, nothing on needles at the moment.

"What about my socks?" Calm and soothing, I think he uses that voice to calm down hysterical people at work.
Well that's them, on the wheel.
Inside, I'm hysterical. My wheel is out of commission, this is clearly a time for panic and a VERY good argument for getting another know...backup.
Outside, I'm calm, I'll come to a reasonable solution...just give me a minute to finish my internal hysteria.

Okay, I'll spin the wheel by hand, if it takes me all night I'm going to get that bobbin plied. At this point Bruce sits on the floor, grabs the footman, Justin cheers him on "If Mom says slow it down, slow it down, speed up, speed it up son." So for the next 10 minutes my son sits and spins the wheel, bobbin is plied, he even directs me when it's time to change hooks.

Meanwhile, as I'm watching my son watch the yarn wind onto the bobbin, I'm thinking maybe I have a problem and God Bless'em my family is suporting me all the way.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A picture is woth a thousand words

Or so they say, but pictures just don't do these guys justice.

Angoras of the Lagomorph variety.

I've been looking at pictures for years, snagging a quick peek at the fair. It just can't compair to getting up close and personal.

All of our working animals are here and getting started. So my first "fun" animals are here. That's not to say they aren't working, they'll provide this oooooh so wonderful fiber, great fertilizer and the kids love to sit with them and pet (judging from the sprawl, the rabbits don't mind either).

Yes, I bought my first Angora rabbits last weekend. There's a breeder, Sue, over by Colville at Daisy Hill Fiber Farm. I crossed paths with her via a friend who raises different breeds, but rabbits none the less, at Two Hunnyz Rabbitry. For the last year I've been waiting and drooling over Sue's website. We started the meat rabbits, last of the for sure work animals and I started the ball rolling on the fluffier version.
I had a wonderful late summer morning drive over Hwy 20, a little on the drizzly side but this time of year that's refreshing! I spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon wandering her rabbitry and farm, listening and talking, fondling very soft rabbits. It ended with a testing of a couple of wheels I've never sat at before, seeing some of her yarn and roving.
A complete Mom day. Quiet, wonderful, full of fiber and an espresso. I'll be feeding off that day for a long time to come.

So here they are in all their glory.

She's a German/Satin Angora cross. Yep, she's that fluffy. Justin thinks she looks more like a disembodied head than a rabbit. LOL

He's a German/Satin cross. He'll be our new house rabbit. His other eye is a bit off, but he's a doll! During his hair cut, he spent it sprawled on my lap watching TV. After he was sprawled on whoever would let him.
Not pictured: Cheech
German/Satin Cross.
Yep, Cheech and Chong. He's a little more active than his brother, but still more than happy to lounge. Every time I go out to his cage, he's got this look like he's been up to mischief. He's currently sans coat at the moment.
They're all from the same litter and I have plans to go over in the Spring when she has Satin Angoras availible. Everyone has since had a haircut and pedicure.
Satin Angoras have a gloss to their coats, they look like they've gotten into my bottle of Shine Drops.
I'm working on a batt that's 25% Angora and 75% Targhee. As much as I'd love a 100% Angora, I'm going to wait a little while. Maybe next fall when I have more.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Me and mine

My entry.
It's filet crochet, vintage size 30 thread, size 10 steel crochet hook, 200 hrs for those curious about the details. The pattern is from an Elizabeth Hiddleson book and about the same era as the thread. It's backed on a very dark green velvet.
It's now over the couch, I've had that spot for it for the last two years. I'd taken the ribbons off, but the kids put them back. ;) What to do for next year? I'm not sure, I'm working on socks at the moment. I have another filet project that I'd like to do, two actually, but they're both going to take me a long time to finish.

Lars and Dougall

Lars and Dougall, doing their thing.

Lars demonstrating penning.

The bird swap and Lars getting to handle a smaller bird. If you look down the table you'll see Dougall doing his best to enforce is evil duck image.

Lars and his blue, with Dougall standing there very please with himself.

Yes, Dougall is hiding behind his ribbon. He and Lars did a great job for their first time at the showing table.

Anna and Starlight

Anna and Starlight in the spot light (say that 5 times fast)

Anna and her hen, see how well she's staying on the table?!

The bird swap, Anna had fun handling a different bird.

Ta Da!! She got a blue, not bad for first time out.

Adventures in Fitting and Showing, a novel

I'll start off with saying, no clue. Had no clue. Consider yourself warned.

Easy enough, right? You take your disease, bug free animal down and enter them into the fair. Sure I know that 4-H does more, we're an Open fair though. So I figure we put the birds in, hang around the barns and figure out it all out for next year. HA! Wroooong....soooo very, very wrong.

Then evening before the children catch up their innocent, unsuspecting birds, get them caged and wait for Dad to arrive (he's gone off to get hog panels.) I finish up in the kitchen, listening to one very peeved drake, the hen has settled down in her carrier. She's got no worries, food and water all to herself, it's cool, she's takin' a nap. The drake, well....he's not impressed.
Dad gets home, the children pounce, they're all ready to get this ball rolling! Animals get loaded, Dad gives the order to
"Load the Birds so we can get going."
"They are honey."
"oh....well come on, what are we waiting for?!"

We join the throng of entrants, vendors and families getting ready for the fair. It reminded me of the movie "The Greatest Show on Earth". The birds get settled into their pens, watered, fed and we find the Superintendent of the barn to find out what comes next. There's a fitting and showing clinic the next morning, hadn't planned on doing that but she'd like them to try it out. So, the kids are skeptical, Lars more so. He needs to what with his duck? Dougall, stand on a table? Riiiight. He's going to do it, not going to do it, going to do it, not going to do it. Finally he settles on a take it as comes basis. We all pile back into the Suburban and head for home.
I'm left wondering if entering is that chaotic, what are the next four days going to bring?!

Thursday morning dawns early! First day of fair, the children bound out of bed (they need to be there before 8am to clean out pens, water and feed their birds), eager to get to the barn. I need my coffee. At the gas station I opt for the supercharged caffine blend, long ago I learned the wisdom of planning ahead. The morning progresses, animals tended at the grounds, back here to get everyone else off to school, make sure Justin is ready for his day (work intruded on his vacation), morning chores, housework, feed the rest an early lunch, back to the grounds for fit and show clinic.
Hmmm.....confidence is waning. Okay, well we have the information, now to get Miss Meena to school, back home to get Justin, more house stuff, load everyone up that's back from school and off to the grounds to get some hands on time with the animals.
Starlight is doing well, Anna's wandering around asking if anyone wants to pet her chicken. Okay, now it's Lars and Dougall. The lady with years of experience proclaims "He's a handful." Oh dear.
Long and short of it, Dougall got hung upside down...after which he behaved quite well. Lars worked him and we decided to call it a day at about 7:30pm.

Friday, it's the big day. Fit and Show, 9am. Justin took the kids down to the grounds, I stayed at home to milk, do farm chores, just about needed a block and tackle to get Bruce out of bed, housework, packed the two coolers for us to eat out of, got everyone ready to spend the whole day down at the grounds, Justin picked the rest of us up while Lars and Anna stayed behind to get some last minute handling and instruction in. While they're waiting their turns, they're getting last minute tips, listening to the judge's comments, Lars's arm is getting tired. Dougall is all tucked in under his arm and has, at this point, resigned himself to his fate and getting a doze in.
Anna is up first, it's going great until the judge put a pen on the table and wants them to demonstrate how they put them in and take them out. Anna, I tell her to watch what the others do and follow suit, Lars has turned a greenish white....just watch son....and breath. Then another surprise, the judge switches everyone's birds. Anna took it in stride, does very well and gets her hen back. Lars is calming down some.
This goes off well, Anna's doing great until the chicken next to her decides it doesn't like her hen. It jumps her, they both go off the table.....and again....Anna's flustered at this point. A group is asked to leave, Anna in them. She puts her hen back, very disappointed. I go with her, talk, tell her it's okay and she and her hen both did fantastic for being first timers! Come on, her hen stood there like she'd been doing this days out of the egg and she's a working farm hen. Good dispositon on behalf of the hen and Anna's been packing her around for the last day. I know that Anna doesn't understand, but I was really impressed with both of them. Sometimes you just get bad luck with the line up.
Everyone is called back up and she gets a blue ribbon. Ahh, she feels better but I know she had her eye on that purple ribbon. Maybe next year. ;) Off she goes to put on Starlight's pen and back again to see how her brother does.
Lars is called, I know he's dreading putting Dougall on that table. Dougall has some surprises of his own though and stands there like a gentleman. He fussed a bit at first, but settled down to grooming...or trying to at least. Lars completed the penning excersize perfectly, the Superintendent was very impressed. Neither he or Anna really had any instruction in this. He was starting to calm down, the worst part was over.
Now for the bird swap, Lars got a Phoenix pullet, while the poor girl down the table looked like she'd just been handed Daffy's evil twin. Dougall may behave for Lars and the nasty lady that hung him upside down....but he was going to eat this girls buttons for breakfast! He did try too.
Lars also took a blue, put Dougall back and the two of the, Anna and Lars, put in their request for next year's birds. Lars has decided that this will be Dougall's only year at the fair. He's best suited to the life of a guard duck and is retiring to said life. Next year, he wants to do a Call drake...they're tiny little things. Anna has a range that she's considering, but has it down to Frizzle, Call duck and Silkie. She wanted to try geese...but Mom's not doing geese, no.
Bruce voiced that he would like to consider it for next year, Malina wants to, Leif was pretty oblivious...he had a germ on the end of a string that he was flying through the air.

Big breath. Done...nope. Saturday brought Poultry Judging. They didn't have enough of one breed to do a line up so we supplied a line of Speckled Sussex cockerals. Lars took Reserve Champion in this for Juniors. Listened to why the chickens were judged the way they were and knew which ones he got wrong.
It was a lot for Anna to take in all at once, people everywhere, she did listen but she's reading up some more now that she's home.
Friday and Saturday were the marathon days, stayed all day, came home did the housework, got dinner for everyone and collapsed.
Sunday, was quiet until 4:30pm. We'd made rounds during the previous 3 days and Justin talked with the people in the Rabbit barn. The result is that we now have 2 Californian does for free and a very nice New Zealand buck (he's just a little narrow through the shoulders, but for a first buck he's great) for $10. We bought the does cages and one of the nest boxes. Okay, I have a Suburban and 5 kids, a duck, a chicken, 2 does, 1 buck.....I ran out of room at 5 kids. I spent a couple of hours running animals and accessories home, doing a little connecting of my own and finally finished up at 7:30pm.
As for me? My filet crochet piece took Grand Champion *grin*. When I went to pick it up, there was excitement to see what I entered next year. Don't know, but I'll figure something out.

Next year is going to be crazy too, it just is, but at least I'll know what to expect, what I need and be able to line up my time better. There's always the proverbial monkey wrench but hopefully it won't be too bad.

Today, I have a date with the couch, remote and a pair of socks. Sounds like heaven.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Fair Time!

So the fair comes to the Okanogan Valley again! I love fair.
This year we took the plunge and entered. Lars and Anna entered animals, I entered a crochet project. It's been a lot of fun, grueling, but fun. The kids are down at 7am to clean out pens everyday. Today they had their first taste of Fitting and Showing, more on that later, so we were there all day....oh boy. Two more days.
I'll know what I'm doing next year, so that should help. It's been a lot of flying by the seat of my pants the last couple of days and I do that soooo well *insert sarcasm here*.

In any case, I have to admit that I've really enjoyed just hanging out at the fair for a change! We've had the time to really look at the exhibits, split them up over the days and just meander. The kids have been able to watch their friends compete, congratulation them on their winnings, run around and just enjoy. Small town county fair, couldn't think of a better way to end a summer!

Bald Eagle on exhibit

"Mom take a picture of the Bald Eagle!" Granted, we don't see them this up close and personal, they're usually up high riding the wind. Of course I took the picture. These are rescued animals that are unable to sustain themselves in the wild.

Leif. He's been running around all day, so much to see, so many people to recongnize and he's stuck waiting for his siblings to finish their 1st tour of barn duty. We've been at the grounds since 7 this morning, it's almost 4pm now.....Dad and Mom are just about wiped. True to the 8 yr old, he's still got energy to spare.

Justin actually managed to sneak a picture of me. I'm working on a pair of socks I'm making for a knit along sock exchange on Homesteading Today. We were taking a break, catching some shade and waiting for Justin's parents to arrive.

HA! I caught him. This took some doing, but I caught Bruce being goofy with his brother.

Miss Meena, not to be left out adding her own silliness to the day.

So we're still in the thick of it, but that's fair! I'm not sure however, if I'm going to be coherent by Sunday evening.
I think that Monday I'm going to make the couch my best friend, say hello to the remote and find something brainless to watch on Netflix.

The kids are very excited for next year. The Superintendents of the Poultry and Rabbit barns were very helpful. On the poultry side, they spent most of yesterday working with the kids and their birds, crash course in showing. Lars has plans for a Call drake next year, Anna did but she's thinking about doing rabbits instead. Bruce hasn't quite made up his mind, although the thought of selling a market hog has his mental calculator going.

More to follow on the entries, but it's been a long day and I'm beat. Time to head off to a prone position.