Horti Honey's Blog of Yarn, Plants, and Life

Sarah Humke examines life through fiber tinted glasses….

Settling In June 9, 2015

The last couple of weeks have been all about learning about and getting used-to the new members of the farm. The sheep are getting not only used to us, the humans,  but also to the other animals.  They are fascinated by the farm cats and will start a small stampede following one of the poor nervous felines right up to the fence!  Dusty, my little fuzzy white dog makes them all pause and investigate as well much to his discomfort.  If I sit down, often they will come right up to me and sniff my neck and nibble my hair, which I take as a compliment.

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The flock is remarkably quiet.  Everyone on the farm knows if someone has gotten out of the fence because one of the girls just goes nuts.  She has a high-pitched bah and if the flock was a high school class then the noisy one would be that one girl who always (loudly) said, “Hey! You aren’t supposed to be doing that! Wait for me! Wait for me! I’ll tell if you don’t wait for me!!!”  But honestly, that is about the only time that they make a noise other than chewing (they are loud chewers) or belching (ditto).

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Memorial day was all about worming and vaccinating.  I didn’t take any pictures.  You’re welcome.  We also moved the flock which didn’t go all that well (ahem).  Shetlands aren’t one of the strongest flocking sheep breeds around.  Plus most of these are young ewes.  All in all you have a recipe for some cabbage in the garden to be eaten!  We probably shouldn’t have tried to move them when we were tired from all the vaccinations and worming fun and they were all keyed-up from being vaccinated and wormed.  Lesson learned.

set 3set 4However, we do have a flock leader now.  Her name is Abigail and she can be by turns both amazingly easy to work with and a complete brat.  We’re still working out the kinks in the relationship:-) Only a handful of the sheep have names at this point.  Buddy, the big black wether, Abigail, Herbert (his scrapie tag is 1938, during the Great Depression [though I know not during Hoover’s administration, but he looks like a Herbert too]), and Liberty.  Her scrapie tag is 1976.

Miss Abigail being good.

Miss Abigail being good.

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Abigail and Herbert.

The sheep are amazingly good at keeping the lawn mowed and seem to relish their job.  They are also insanely curious about the chicken flock who have been moved to temporary outdoor quarters with the sheep (electric fencing and jealous wethers are added protection from the ravenous raccoons we have around here).  So far our county hasn’t been hit with the avian flu so we are keeping our fingers crossed that we can keep these girls alive since the cost of eggs has skyrocketed already.

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The Great Sheep Drive: Part Five-Homecoming May 13, 2015

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We are down the road from Kadoka by the time the clock read six am.  The sheep had their water removed (it would spill all over) and another half-bale of hay given to them.  South Dakota went by very quickly thanks in part to their eighty mph speed limit on the interstates.  We crossed the Missouri river and stopped there for a break.

pt5-1After the Missouri, the land quickly becomes less wild, more domesticated.  The vistas of buttes and exposed strata of rock morphs into orderly fields of grains and tidy farmsteads surrounded by windbreaks.  The further East we travel, the darker the just-planted soil becomes.  The ditches become greener and the trees more numerous.

We cross over into Southern Minnesota around mid morning.  It is here, when the land becomes distinctly more like home, that I start musing about hefting.  Hefting is a term that applies to sheep that are naturally bonded to the place where they were born.  You can take a hefted sheep away from its place and it will always try to return.  The most famous hefted sheep is the Herdwick.  Shepherds there don’t need to worry about their sheep wandering too far away as they really sincerely don’t like to be away from home.  I’m starting to wonder if there are hefted humans too.  As we moved further into territory like home I began to feel more at ease.  I was nearly giddy by the time I pulled into the driveway.

C backed the trailer up to the gate (I may be ok driving the rig by now but I am still NOT ok backing it) and then we went and checked the paddock for any problems.  There were only a few and they were all quickly taken care of.  We grabbed some more people to help unload them.  As we all waited, C opened the back gate.  At first they didn’t seem to want to come out but eventually the thought of freedom won and in ones and twos they came out of the trailer.  And then stop.  And immediately put their heads down and start to eat like they have never had a meal in their lives.  We didn’t have any trouble with them trying to bolt or anything, rather they wouldn’t move probably not realizing that there was more like that in their paddock!

I can’t really blame the sheep.  Where they were born and raised is very dry.  Even C was kind of taken with the sheer amount of GREEN that we have here right now.  I’m sure the sheep thought that they had died and gone to heaven!

C really needed to leave as she really wanted to get back to the ranch.  We loaded her up with canned goodies and bottles of honey and sent her on her way.

The sheep have already found a favorite spot to hang-out.  It is in a corner where two buildings meet so it is both sunny and out of the wind.  I have been watching them closely for signs of bloat or diarrhea as they did have a rather drastic change in diet.  But so far, they have all been good.   They even seem to be getting used to me checking on them repeatedly.  And taking lots of pictures.  LOTS of pictures.  I think I keep taking pictures of them because it is so hard for me to believe that they are actually here.

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I cannot thank all of the people who helped to make this happen enough.  Deb for introducing me to C, my parents for supporting me even if they might think me a bit nuts, all the people who work with C who put in the time and effort to allow this newbie shepherd her own flock.  My boyfriend, Joel, for helping me do the heavy lifting.  To my friends who offered support and advice.  And most of all to C for her generosity and her time.  Thank you.

 

Best. Investment. Ever. February 25, 2015

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Today I used something that I purchased a bit ago and hadn’t had a need to use.  I live in Iowa where these aren’t considered…..unfashionable, like they are in other places.

I got myself a pair of Berne women’s insulated overalls.IMG_0096

Not sexy, but I was toasty when I was outside shoveling the walk:-)

I wish I had gotten these MONTHS ago!!!

 

Kalona October 3, 2014

This past week my friend (and former roommate), Elise, has been back in the midwest.  She is currently working on her PhD at LSU in animal science specializing in goats.  She was back in the midwest to attend and present at the National Goat Expo in Illinois and to see her family.  I wanted to see her while she was home so a plan was hatched to take me down to Kalona with her mother and to go to the small animal auction there.

Oddly enough, I went to a small animal auction and came away with a big box of assorted winter squashes and two bundles of beets.  The beets have already been pickled and the squashes stored for winter eating.  It’s probably a good thing that the auctioneer was so slow as there was a real possibility that I would have come home with an Angora rabbit or two:-)

Iowa has several disparate communities of both Amish and Mennonite spread throughout the state.  One of these communities is around the Lamoni area where I have gone for produce auctions in the past.  Another one is Kalona, which isn’t too far from Iowa City.  Around Kalona there are a number of businesses that cater to both the local community as well as the tourist groups that visit to see the Amish of the area in their horse and buggies driving around.

At one of these, a grocery store, I found the best prices on both Clear Gel and Pectin that I have been able to find, including on the internet.  I also picked-up two big cabbages to make sauerkraut from.

 

Pectin, lots.

Pectin, lots.

Clear Gel. Did somebody say pie filling???

Clear Gel. Did somebody say pie filling???

Future Sauerkraut

Future Sauerkraut

Elise’s folks have an overachieving pear tree in front of their house.  This years crop of pears was so abundant that it was bending the tree to the breaking point.

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Elise and I spent the afternoon picking pears from this poor tree.  At one point Elise got stuck in the tree.

Somebody call the fire department!  Elise is stuck in a tree!

Somebody call the fire department! Elise is stuck in a tree!

But most of the time it looked like this.

That is me with the very long fruit picker I am very familiar with now.

That is me with the very long fruit picker I am very familiar with now.

Elise’s neighbor grew an unexpected crop of pumpkins and I got to bring one home.  It isn’t pretty, but it’s going to be going into jars, pumpkin butters, and pies so it doesn’t really need to be.

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I bet it’s tasty though!

 

On Becoming a Knitting Cliché June 6, 2013

So, yeah…  I get the addictive nature of the Monkey socks now.  I already want to cast-on the next pair and I’m not done with this pair yet!  It’s sort of like when I was still smoking (yes, I used to smoke. I quit. It’s bad for you, don’t start it!) when I would want another cigarette before I had even finished the one I was smoking. Knitting Monkeys is kinda like that…

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I even have the yarn for the next two pairs balled up at this point, just waiting to get cast-on.

Both are Socks that Rock lightweight in mill ends colors (aka, I don't know the colors:-))

Both are Socks that Rock lightweight in mill ends colors (aka, I don’t know the colors:-))

It really is a sickness. Get used to seeing Monkey’s on here for a while!

In other news, I now have a place to live come the end of July.  Yay! I’m not going to be homeless!  Also, it allows dogs (note on the plural there) so I will be able to have both Weezy and Malcolm living with me next year.  I have a feeling that this means that the bromance ongoing between my father and Malcolm will cool a little bit and hopefully I’ll be able to get Mal back down to his proper weight.  Maybe in working on doing so, I will bring me back to down to my proper weight as well!

This has been a really scary year so far weather-wise across a huge chunk of the US.  For the folks in Oklahoma, it’s been heartbreaking.  It feels as though every time we turn around, there’s another round of severe weather heading their way, making the clean-up from what they’ve already gotten even more difficult.  There’s a really great knitting pattern book that’s been put together to aid the folks devastated by the tornadoes in Oklahoma.  It’s called k*tog and it contains 20 patterns including: 4 patterns for socks, 4 patterns for scarves or cowls, a vest, a cardigan, 2 hats, 4 shawls, a baby cocoon, some toys and a pair of fingerless mitts.  It’s $20 and ALL of the proceeds from it go to the folks in Oklahoma.  Honestly folks, even if you only knit a couple of the patterns in it it’s still a great deal. I mean, $20 for 20 patterns. Go, get it here if you haven’t already!

This weekend is the Iowa Sheep and Wool festival in Adel, Iowa.  I will be attending and taking a class on Saturday morning about Angora rabbits. How to care for them and how to spin their wool. Should be… fluffy:-)  I will be doing some stuff with my guild as well which is always fun!  If you are in the area I would strongly encourage you to come and check out the wooliness!

 

Sock Blocked June 4, 2013

I finished the pink and grey monkeys shortly after I finished the last post.  My sock blockers have been getting a lot of work lately, a lot more than they are used to at least!

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There wasn’t a huge amount of yarn left over, but it only take about 5 or 6 grams to make one of the smaller squares.

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I enjoyed making that pattern so much, I’ve decided to make it again.  I’m even using the same yarn (base, like I would have that much pink of any yarn in my stash!). I think that these are going to be for me as I wear a lot of the colors in them often.

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It was a grey and rainy day today, as it has been much of the spring. Hence the craptastical photos. So far, Ames hasn’t flooded in any substantial manner, though given the amounts of rain that we have received, this is almost a surprise.  I don’t live in an area prone to flooding though there are areas like that all around the city.  Hopefully, this won’t be a repeat of years past

(Don’t worry, the Wollmeise is all in plastic bags and on a top shelf, just in case! [because I knew that y’all were worried!])

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Squashed! September 25, 2012

Today I went down to the Lamoni Produce Auction.  My goal was winter squash and boy did I succeed!

I put the CD in the picture to give it scale.  Otherwise the squash looked like little ornamental gourds!  These 8 butternut squash weigh from 7.5 lbs to 8.5 lbs!  Huge!!!!

On the other end of the spectrum, I got 36 of these little baby butternuts.

They average of these little ones is about 1.5 lbs a piece.  There were also a few in the middle that were around 2.5 lbs.

I realize that I haven’t spoken about the Lamoni produce auction here before.  It’s more or less what is sounds like.  A produce auction held in Lamoni, Iowa.  The interesting thing about it is that the bulk of the sellers are Amish (read the link, it’s interesting).  Thus, much of what is done is with horse and wagon and man power.  Just seeing all the wagons and horses come through is fascinating!

The auction site itself has all the modern conveniences.  Electricity, phone, internet, but it also isn’t run by the Amish themselves.  However, they do work a lot in it and are obviously on-site during the selling.  I wanted to show how the auction is run without taking pictures of any of the Amish themselves.  You see, I’m not completely sure what this group of Amish’s beliefs are as they pertain to photos.  I couldn’t find any good way to photograph this experience without getting any of the Amish in the photos.  So, I compromised. Any Amish in the following photos have had their faces obscured if they were at all visible.  There are lots of pictures of the Amish online, but these people aren’t exactly strangers to me and I sincerely don’t want to offend them.  However I really wanted to show you all this as it’s really interesting.  It’s a tricky tightrope to walk and I hope that I have done ok with it.

You can see here that the wagons pulled by the horses go through an alley of sorts.  On one side of the alley there is the auctioneer with his motley crew of assistants that sort out what is being sold, display it, and record the sales.  On the other side of the alley are the buyers placing the bids for the produce.  It’s really a pretty slick way of doing it and reminds me strongly of the Dutch flower auctions!

In this photo you can see how the big speaker is really quite close to the horses heads.  It’s amazing how patiently they wait while all this bidding is going on!

The Lamoni Produce Auction is open to the public, if you would like to take a look.  However, if you want to bid on anything, be prepared to buy in large lots as it intended for wholesale sales.  At the auction today most of the pumpkins were sold in lots between 32 and 100.  Often, the produce is sold in groups of cases, so be prepared to eat a lot of whatever you buy!  In my case, squash!