Saturday, March 24, 2012


A. built a new, smaller rowboat so he and Cubby could go fishing. Obviously, Cubby was instrumental in the building process.

Cubby calls it "The Floating Bear," after Pooh's "boat" (a honey pot) in the part about the flood in A.A. Milne's book*. Let's hope "The Floating Bear" is lucky for the fishermen.

* Incidentally, if you have children or want a gift for children you know, you should definitely buy the A.A. Milne books for them--Winnie the Pooh, The House at Pooh Corner, When We Were Very Young, and Now We Are Six. The last two are actually books of poems, which is nice for small children and their short attention spans, and the first two are chapter books. All four are well-written and charming and actually fun for the adult to read, which is very, very rare for children's literature.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Hey, Uh, Wanna See Some Wool?

Sure, why not? I mean, here I have these photos that I took so A. can sell our fleeces online and there YOU are, no doubt DYING to see what the difference is between a Merino and a Cotswold fleece. What a happy coincidence that we met here today. Shall we?

First up, the Cotswold wool. It's really long and somewhat coarse. Also, it's apparently not as popular with hand spinners as Merino wool, despite the fact that Merino wool can be somewhat tricky to spin.

That's what I hear, anyway. I have no personal experience with any of this.

Craft people do like Cotswold wool for things like doll hair, though. I mean, supposedly. Once again, no personal experience.

And here's my fingers for scale. I have fairly small hands (I don't smell of cabbage, however*), but that's still some damn long wool.

Merino wool is where it's at for spinners apparently, because all the inquiries generated by A.'s ad were for the Merino fleeces. Or maybe it's just that Merino is way better for knitting with, as the fibers are short and make for much softer knitted products. Or something. Again, I don't knit.

See how it looks less nappy and more puffy?

Not as long as the Cotswold wool, but incredibly dense. Also, note my sassy manicure, slated to be forcibly removed tomorrow morning at a salon so I can cut my damn nails already and get the dirt out from under them. That shellac polish is no joke, y'all.

End wool lesson for the day. Aren't you glad you stopped by today? Is there any better way to celebrate Friday than with a wool tutorial? Didn't think so.

* Austin Powers reference, description of carnies, feel free to look it up yourself if you're that curious.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Winter that Wasn't and the Summer Without

I am hardly original in mentioning this, but . . . what the hell happened to winter this year? It snowed, like, twice. The rest of the time was non-stop mud and excitement. And now? Well, now the magnolias and forsythia are blooming, every spring flower--early and late--is currently in a blaze of short-lived glory, and it's supposed to be 80 degrees tomorrow.

What the hell? I don't know either.

It was really warm today too. And you know what I realized? Man, it's going to be a long, sad summer with my beloved gin and tonics. Today was just the day for them, you know? Warm and sunny while we were outside grilling the lake trout Jason caught today and dropped off for us*, watching Cubby "pinch" things with the tongs while wearing a short-sleeved t-shirt, with the dogs sniffing around the grill and panting in the sun. A. had a gin and tonic. I had a sip of his, just to torture myself, and sighed a regretful sigh in anticipation of the coming summer that will be sadly deficient in G&Ts.

Oh well. There will be other summers, with many G&Ts. And doubtless many winters with feet of snow and frozen ground. Life goes on. Just with some aberrant seasons here and there.

* I know, you wish you had a friend like Jason. We find him quite wonderful ourselves. Especially Cubby, who, while he was eating the fish, kept up a running monologue about his buddy Mister Jason and the trout he caught with the bobber and the hook. It was really adorable.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Time Once Again . . .

For the shearing post, complete with photos*.

When we did this last year at this time, the ground was frozen and our shearer was all bundled up in a hat and sweatshirt. This year his sweater came off after the first sheep and he was literally dripping sweat by sheep four or so. It was warm. Imagine that.

Also, the sheep were significantly less pregnant, as A. held the ram out from his duties later than usual last fall to make sure there were no lambs being born while we were in Arizona for my sister's wedding. I'm sure the shearer appreciated having smaller sheep to work with.

And this is why we pay someone to do this. I mean, really. Who wants to stand like this for hours at a time embracing a smelly sheep? Not me. Not A., either.

Though A. did jump in at the last minute to clip all the sheep's hooves.

One of these things is not like the others . . .

The chickens came to inspect the proceedings. And one of the hens, presumably one who lays her egg in the shed the shearing was occurring in, kept coming back, no doubt thinking, "Come ON, you guys. Can't you hurry this up? I can't hold this egg all day!" Or maybe not. Chickens don't think much.

There are no photos of Cubby watching the shearing, mostly because he only watched for about five minutes before wandering away with the MiL, only to return occasionally demanding the hoof trimmers or the keys to the shearer's truck. Not joking. That kid has an instinct for the forbidden.

So that's that chore out of the way. Next up with the sheep: lambing, in about a month. Oh goody.

* But only photos of the beginning of the shearing, because after pulling off dung tags (just what they sound like, yes, and just as gross) and bagging up fourteen fleeces, my hands were in no fit state to be touching the camera. They were really soft, though. All that lanolin, you know.

Monday, March 19, 2012

We're Off

Big day yesterday, duckies: Garden Season 2012 has commenced.

Like much of the normally colder part of the country, we've had an extremely mild winter and some crazy warm weather for the past week or so. This meant that the soil was actually dried out and ready to till. In a normal year, there would be standing water in parts of the garden right now. But when I dug up the last of the leeks yesterday, the soil was fairly dry, and so I informed A. that his time had come with the tiller.

The tiller had an overhaul this winter and was all ready to go. So was A. And so was Cubby. The whole family trooped out the garden to watch the miraculous machine in action. And it was miraculous. With one pass, that tiller reduced our already-weedy and compacted soil to plantable material within half an hour. For the whole (HUGE) garden. It was awesome.

I celebrated by planting lettuce, spinach, and radishes. A. celebrated by broadcasting oats all over the majority of the garden as a cover crop to fight back the weeds. Cubby celebrated by touching the scorching-hot muffler on the tiller and burning his finger.


But an ice cube for the finger helped with that little problem, and Cubby quite enjoyed jamming bamboo stakes into the ground for me as row markers. A. was extremely proud of his machine, and I was extremely pleased at the prospect of planting the whole garden without any hand digging this year.

Happiness all around.

With the way the weather is going this year, it won't be long before the carrots and beets and things go in. I need to start my tomato seeds any time now; the MiL will be going soon to pick up our seed potatoes; and before you know it, there will be piles of sheep-shit straw in the garden awaiting spreading.

Oh, and the shearer is coming this morning. Does it get anymore exciting than this? Not at Blackrock.