Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Touches of fall

The year is going by really fast. I have bred my does so I will have kits available for the Kid n Ewe. Whether or not they took is another question. The extreme heat makes the bucks sterile for short periods. The weather finally moderated, but whether it was in time I won't know for 30 days.

The large wasp nests in the rabbit hutch have disappeared overnight. I originally had 2 large yellow jackets and 2 red wasp nests. I myself removed one of the yellow jacket nests as I needed to get into the hay area and put in a fresh hay bale. They were just below I store the hay on and I just knew our peace treaty would be broken if I started to bring in the new hay so close to them.

I treated them with an organic spray of mint oils. It took 3 days to get them fully off the nest, but I planned for that. The spray didn't really seem to kill the individuals, but it did drive them away from the nest. They reclustered on a nearby tree and on the 5th day began building a new nest from scratch on the inside roof. I could deal with that since it was far enough away from my work area.

Yesterday all the nests were gone, most of the wasp were gone and the hay was undisturbed. It had to have been raccoons to do such a clean sweep of all the nests. What surprised me the most was that they didn't knock my hay over. Raccoons are annoying and do damage most of the time, but in this case they did do me a favor without much damage to my equipment, for once.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Break in the Weather

Well this has been a different week as far as weather. Monday it went to 107 F, a record and on Wednesday the high was 81 F. It was amazing!

On Wednesday morning while checking the rabbits I realized the fans weren't working. I checked everything to see if anything was chewed on, knocked out of a socket etc...I just couldn't find anything wrong with them. While I was staring really hard at the fans willing them to work it hit me that they have a thermostat and that the temperatures had fallen below the threshold that I had set them for to turn off.

I felt rather silly then and relieved they were fine. The fans have been running day and night for months as temperatures were not going below 85 F at night. It really makes for some uncomfortable times at those temperatures. But FINALLY we are going back into the 70's at night.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Newest Family Memeber

Here is our newest family member. This lovely young lady was adopted from the North Texas Humane Society. She was found wondering the streets of Fort Worth.
The guess at her age is 2 years old and a Saluki mix. She was in sad shape, but a little time in foster care, and now with us she is looking bright and healthy.

For those wondering about if she has a spinnable coat? No. I deliberately concentrated my search for a new pet with a smooth, flat coat. I do so much for others in my company that I felt I wanted to fore go that for a personal pet.

Her temper is calm and laid back and she is training very quickly. She is fitting perfectly.

Weather note: we now have had 100+ for high temperatures 12 days in a row.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Harvest of Summer

Now is the time of summer doldrums. We are 100+ everyday now for the next 7 days. With the rabbits it just a matter of monitoring them several times a day, fans on 24 hours a day to keep them cool. They are doing well so I am glad of that.

With that kind of heat it really is hard to be motivated to do anything, but there is still lots to do for work and find in the woods.

In the woods we have been harvesting Mustang Grapes and Wild Chickasaw Plums. I have been preserving them as jelly and syrup.
In the yard I harvested my 1st homegrown apple, Mollies Delicious. It tasted wonderful, crisp, sweet, with a hint of honey. I planted the trees 3 & 4 years ago. This is their 1st year to produce so I have great expectations for next year.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Finally Some Rain

Well happy dance for me. We have had rain over the last 2 weeks in a good amount, but not too much too fast. It was about time too. It has been 2.5 months with nothing.

Now the humidity and mosquitoes are high and fierce. We are usually on the arid/dry side on the humidity levels.

The rabbits are coping well. Taking off their coats early was the best thing I could have done. The nights stay in the upper 70's into the 80's so the fans are going 24 hours. The air movement has been enough to keep them comfortable.

I will be teaching a class at the Winter Fiber Retreat in February 2011. It is called "hand carders vs combs". I haven't formalized the content yet, but it should be fun and informative.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Heat and the Silk

Well the weather is completely full on summer heat wave. Three weeks early we went into upper 90's and 100. Did I mention no rain. We haven't had rain in weeks and none is forecast for the next 7 days.

I clipped all the rabbits down a month early. It was just too much to ask them to bear as the humidity was also higher than normal. I got 9 clipped down in 3 days and they look really pretty good. None were nicked. I use a small pair of pointed scissors. I can remove the coat with no 2nd cuts with them and with enough patience and technique the result is a smooth finish.

Muga Silk Top and Eri Silk Top have been added to my selection of hand spinning fibers. These fibers are so beautiful.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Quad Amadillo Family

Not a whole lot of change with the rabbits. I have kept them in full coat since the weather has been pretty moderate this year. We have had good rain fall amounts this spring and this is the first week we will see low 90's during the day.

This morning I did find one of my jr rabbits had died during the night. This was a cull rabbit since the doe had a hernia from birth. It ruptured during the night and the rabbit died. It is unfortunate I didn't get her put down in a more humane manner.

On the lighter side, there is a family of armadillos living under the house deck. I generally find them annoying since they did holes in the yard, and disrupt the flowers and garden. But, these 4 little ones were so cute and I have never seen such relaxed armadillos as shown by the pics.

I haven't seen them in groups this size before. I have seen two chasing each other through the yard. They jump amazingly high.

They sniffed my feet pretty throughly and decided I wasn't something to eat.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Rescue Pet Raffle

The American Animal Rescue Society group is holding a raffle to generate funds and if you are a knitter or spinner the prizes are excellent and, of course, a worthy cause. You can view the prizes here. They have Golding Spindles, a Namaste bag with all the trimmings and some very nice yarn.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Reducing and reusing appliances

We are the proud owner of a used, but new to us, dishwasher. One of our neighbors upgraded their kitchen to stainless steel appliances and they were removing a perfectly good white dishwasher.

Our old dishwasher is black and in bad physical shape. The door had corroded away at the edges and it was causing leaks. It became so bad I had to do the dishes by hand or mope the floor after every load. We were reviewing the dishwashers over the last month on the market and I wanted a white one.

I was visiting with my neighbor after checking the mail and when I mentioned my problems with the dishwasher they offered theirs as it was just sitting in the garage and they were actively looking for someone who needed one. Talk about fate and timing.

So we now have a great "new" dishwasher and instead of 2 dishwashers going to the dump only one will go. Reduce and reuse.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Coyotes in the backyard

Recently in the news a city in North Texas closed a city park so the state could send in trappers to remove coyotes. This is because a couple of pets in the area had disappeared.

The city declared victory when it announced 5 coyotes were removed.

Everyone needs to stop and examine the stupidity of this act in time, expense and the lack of simple common sense.

If you choose to live close or in the woods you will have visitors from time to time from those woods. Especially if you leave pet food outside. You might as well ring the dinner bell if you do that.

And speaking of dinner bell. Your small dog or cat is on the menu. But not just coyotes find your pet appealing. Hawks, owls, raccoons, bobcats and mountain lions all will view your smaller pets as food.

So to blame "coyotes" for the disappearance of a few pets is not completely accurate. There are a whole host of possible suspects. The city should have asked to remove all the hawks, owls, raccoons, bobcats, and mountain lions from the park.

I mean isn't that what it means to move out closer to nature, be outraged when nature does what it does every day whether you live close or not, then complain about it, then demand the city remove the parts of nature that are causing offense, then feel justified when a few unlucky predators get caught.

I love all domestic pets and I throughly enjoy the wildness of the woods; the pets get hugs, tickles, and belly scratches, the wild creatures of the woods get my respect and admiration.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring Snow

We had an unexpected spring snow storm this weekend and it was bitterly cold. The Redbuds are in full bloom, now decorated with the last of the snow.

On Saturday the wind was howling and just a few flakes were coming down. As the day progressed sleet came down and that shortly changed to wet snow. By evening it was fluffy snow. It was blowing very hard and the snow was vertical half the time.

Sunday the wind was still high and temperatures very cold, but it was above freezing and snow melted away by early afternoon. By Monday we should be back to upper 60's and low 70's.

The February kits are growing and doing well. Here are two.... They were moved outside since they have gotten bigger. They are now 5 weeks.

The fawn is just adorable and I would have kept her, but she has a hernia so she can't be kept.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Spring Cleaning

The spring like weather has the wasp out in full force. They have come out of their winter hibernation in droves. Looking over a small patch of flowers there was an equal number of wasp and honey bees.

Prepped half the garden and put in seeds for spring. In the fall the garlic and onions went in and they are already up. I have high hopes for them. The rains came the next day in a nice, slow manner and it lasted all day and then we had a bit more the following day.

I pulled out "stuff" I have stored in the rabbit shed. Last year the wasp built several large nest in the shelving. I don't want a repeat of that. I don't mind the wasp that much as they are really necessary and perform a great service. The stuff needed to pulled out and cleared of hay and dust.

For the rabbits it is time to pull down the tarps, pull out hay & manure, and brush down the fiber clinging to the sides of everything.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Death of a rabbit

I have one of my best bucks in the process of dying. He is young, energetic, eating food and hay as normal and in less than 24 hours will be dead.

Saturday evening he was perfectly fine and had finished his pellets as normal. We feed pellets in the evening so they have the night to eat and the following day to browse what's left plus hay in the morning. He received his normal ration of pellets Saturday night. Sunday morning it didn't look like he had touched his food and his breathing was incredibly loud. I have never heard a rabbit with such a rattle in the chest. He has no nasal discharge. You could hear him from quite a distance.

I brought him in and checked him over. He had a small bit of poop I clipped away from his bottom, but nothing major. I gave him a deep tummy massage in case he was blocked. Blockage is rare, but I did it anyway. I sprayed his nostrils with a dilution of Vanodine along with all the cages and other rabbits just as a precaution.

I think he inhaled his pellets into his lungs. There are still no sign of discharge from eyes or nose. The Vanodine is really to make me feel like I am doing something. This morning the loud breathing has stopped, but that is because his breathing is so shallow. When I held him he barely moved and is grinding his teeth a bit (signs of pain).

I fully expect him to pass within a few hours.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Work never stops

Well here they are at day 7. Just so cute and since they are satin angoras they have a wonderful shine. Eyes should be opening in another 3 days.

The last of the snow finally melted. Now we may have a bit more on Tuesday.

I have been spinning steadily. The bad part of working from a home office is you never really seem to stop working. I don't just sit and watch tv anymore. I always have something fibery in my hands, updating paperwork or computer data. The ladies in the spinning group I attend are always asking "who" I am spinning rather than what. It's a very good thing I really enjoy what I do.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Here are the latest to join the herd. My chocolate doe had these big, fat kits Feb 13th. Just missed Valentines' Day. She had 6 and all are doing extremely well. The pic shows them at day 2.

I decided to bring them in since we were expecting high winds with snow flurries and freezing temps. I lost 2 batches in early winter when freezing temps and high winds came through. So these go out in the morning to visit the doe and be fed.

This past week we had record snow fall at 12.5 inches. This much has not been seen for 111 years. I went tracking in the woods and found deer, raccoon, and coyote tracks. It was very pretty, but soooo cold. I wrapped a shetland wool scarf around my head and neck for warmth.

I know there are lots of man made fibers made for insulation now, but I still prefer natural wool. The main thing I have found when wearing the synthetics is the smell they develop. When I get warm when working in cold weather the sweat and synthetics combine to create an odor that I find objectionable and quite noticeable and yet when I sweat in my wool clothing it seems to mask any body odors.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

It's snowing now. It's been snow all day. This is the pretty fluffy white stuff. You can almost see it coming down in the pic. You can see the trip to the rabbit hutch was white and wintery.

I decided not to go to the post office to get some of my orders out. While I am confident of my driving ability in the snow, I have far less of my fellow drivers.

Last year during a snow event I was coming back on a feeder road following in the tracks of the previous cars going only 5 miles under the speed limit when a Hummer went whizzing past me. My truck was covered is ice and snow. So much for common sense driving.

The weather is really cold, cloudy and now rainy with snow coming soon.

I have been working steadily on my spinning orders. I just finished Tyler, an Old English Sheepdog, plus three additional orders and a sample.

The sample was a Blue Kerry and I wished I had taken a picture of it. It was a beautiful color and very soft. The entire effect was lovely.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The weekend was a nice change of pace for me. Mary Berry of Fancy Fibers hosts a really nice event at the Briar Wood Retreat,, in Argyle, TX, the Winter Fiber Fun Retreat. This is the 2nd year for this event. The classes are great and very affordable.

I could only swing a Saturday with them, but it is really a great way to meet other spinners and knitters in a relaxed and casual setting.

For those coming any distance, there was lodging available on site. Since it is held in February everything is on the bleak side outside, but the colors of everyones fiber was very inspiring. I went around trying to guess what the fiber was of those spinning. It also inspired me to a new round of dying (fiber, not personally).

I listened in on knitting 2 socks at at time class. Beginning these socks is the most tedious part to learn and I had to smile to myself listening to everyones comments getting started. It was a bit of a challenge, but once the process started to click things smoothed out. It is the only way I knit socks.

Mary was gracious enough to allow me to bring a small assortment to vend at her event. I am always ready to enhance anyones stash.

This event will continue to grow and I encourage anyone who has thought about going to do so.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Here is project I worked on recently. This is one of my clients, Rocky, an Akita, I spun and knit the afghan for his owner. Rocky was spun pure into a 2 ply yarn.

This was an awesome project. He was so warm, fuzzy and wonderful. I had a hard time sending him home. I had him curled over my shoulders while I knit on the other end.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

A local fiber event will be happening this weekend, the Winter Fiber Retreat, in Argyle, Texas. It is put on by Mary Berry of Fancy Fibers. It takes place for the entire weekend, but I could only schedule enough time for Saturday. Mary is nice enough to allow me to lay out a small assortment of my fibers, and such and be a vendor as well as attendee.

The Kid 'n Ewe was a great success for me this past November. It seemed the number of people who attended was down from the prior year, but those who came were ready to visit and buy. I saw many of my past customers and met a lot of new people.

I did bring 3 kits to sell at the show and sold 2. I am always leery of selling this way as I always want prospective buyers to understand that angoras take much more work than they realize. So I give everyone the doom and gloom speech on owing them, emphasizing that they make terrible children's pets as most adults can't handle the amount of upkeep they require.

I am positive that both kits went to good homes in this case.

The Kid 'n Ewe was embroiled in problems with contract issues and the board for the fair grounds acting in an unprofessional manner. Not a good way to handle any business and expect it to grow. Since the organizers didn't even know if the event was going to be held in Boerne until very late, much of the usual advertising didn't happen.

Hopefully this will be resolved in better manner this year. I like this event and the people who run it are a nice group.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Well I haven't posted in an absurdly long time. I can't believe how quickly every has gone.

The rabbits are doing well. I have cut back on the breeding as the costs of feed and hay are just simply expensive. They are so sweet when they demand attention. I relax just by walking into their hutch.

I added some fibers from Peace of Yarn, baby suri, baby camel and and baby alpaca. They are so soft....you just want to roll in it....those who work with fiber understand what I am talking about.

I also found a source for pulled, carded sari silk. Hopefully I will have that in stock in the next month or so.

I've been wanting to try Gotland for a long time. I wanted a raw fleece to start with. I finally found one and am working on that now. It is all washed and I am in the process of flicking the ends. For any non-spinners reading this that means I am taking each lock of fiber and brushing each end. It opens the lock up and creates a fluffy end.

My main business is going well. Spinning pet fibers is keeping me very busy. I had to extend my turn around time as I do need some down time to spin for myself. I have been ramping up my equipment to help keep up with demand. I finally bought a Patrick Green SuperCarder electric drum carder. I really wish I had done this earlier. It is saving my shoulder from a lot of wear and tear. I am really pleased with it and the results it produces.