Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Tale of Two Warps

It was a pretty productive weekend. All three looms have their designated warp measured out and two looms have them beamed on and ready for threading.

Hey Baby Louet has on the Plymouth Hillside Linen which is alpaca and linen and I would warp this yarn on gladly, any day, all day. It has beautiful drape and weight and keeps itself in line nicely. It was beamed on in under 5 minutes and I just know the scarf is going to look and feel handsome. It's slated for auction at the humane societies Puss & Boots Ball on Halloween. I wish I could afford to use this mix in a blanket but maybe as a coverlet on a cotton or linen warp with this as weft in overshot might
be doable at some point? I can always dream!

So after the ease of the Hillside Linen I decided to tackle the mixed warp of Habu mohair/nylon and Habu mohair/ silk. As easy as the Louet warp was, this one was a bugger. Mohair loves to wrap it's halo around it's neighbor, this mohair figured it took a village to make itself happy. After 2 hours of rolling an inch on and then unsticking the warp I decided to try something drastic. I combed it. I unstuck all the haloed threads for the umpteenth time, got my little ducks in a row and I took the fine end of my comb and started by the lease sticks and brought all that fuzz up to the raddle, beamed on until the halo got close to my sticks again and repeated.

It worked like a charm. It also produced a lot of static. In my best horror film voice I told the dogs "It's alive, it's alive!".

I finished by pulling everything out of the raddle once I completed my beaming and brought that fuzz up to the point where I would cut the warp and we said farewell as I dumped the waste in the trash. I was done in under 10 minutes after fussing and cussing for the better part of the morning. If this warp wasn't for my Mother I might have given up, but when the folks come for their visit, I want that scarf to be sitting there on her bed as a surprise treat.

I will say the mohair was tough stuff. The Habu is very very fine, just thread size really. I might even have some quilting thread that is heavier. But it held and it held well. It stood up to clumsy manipulation and a lot of tugging as I worked to separate those village sized halo knots and not one thread broke. The mohair/nylon is the lighter green in the center, the mohair/silk blend is the darker outer edges. The weft will be a light green cashmere.

Barbara V is ready for me to start spreading and beaming but with 11 yards I decided to wait until I had an extra set of hands just in case.

Gene arrived home late last night. The fire is no longer a threat to the town of Mosier although mop up crews will be working for a while yet. My home alone time was just about long enough and I was CERTAINLY ready to hand Pogo back to his master. Saturday night was just too pitiful.

The poor little fellow sat on Gene's side of the bed,in the dark, ears forward waiting to hear the truck pull into the driveway, until after 11:30 p.m. He finally gave up and nestled in behind my knees. Last night was a whole different story. Like mother hens we ushered our flock of peeps up to bed and everyone had their little safe haven and the person of their choice. The snoring race was on. Dennett, who has a bed by the bed lead the way. It's music to my ears hearing the old guy sleep and I was right behind him.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Weekend Widow

Well, we knew it was likely to happen. I saved the piggy bank a few weeks ago when Gene didn't get called out by the State Fire Marshall's Office, but about 10 minutes after I got home from my sanity trip into town, the alert came to be on notice and within an hour the "Green Team" was officially called up and dispatched to the Portland/ Mosier area to provide support for the Microwave Fire which started Thursday and had already consumed 600 acres by Friday morning. This isn't a huge fire but it is in a populated area and I guess with grassland involved and heading for the town of Mosier, it was best to play it safe. A lot of western resources are down in California fighting some fearsome blazes outside of Los Angeles.

Now I love Gene but what followed after the official call out can only be described as a Chinese Fire Drill. Gene is not the most organized person I've ever known and to keep some semblance of neatness I take it upon myself to keep everything in some reasonable place. If I let Gene do it, all under the sun would end up by the door where he dropped it. Case in point, his realm, the basement. Anyway, I had put his tent in the back of a closet, neatly with other stuff like his sleeping bag and tarps and soft camping gear. Coolers and camp cooking items live in the basement, the one part I try to keep from being junked up. The man couldn't find his tent. I told him where his tent was and he went to get it. Then accused me of moving his cheese! Imagine, me organizing his tent out of existence. I think not! Well, after I tossed the closet and a few other places, I was stumped. My eyes narrowed and while I didn't know where the tent was, I know who moved it and his initials are GD. He showered, I searched. Seems he left the tent in a large stuff bag he took when he picked up my loom and never unpacked. I found it, and point was made. The sweatshirt he couldn't find a couple of weeks ago was also discovered she adds...dryly.

So out he goes; excited, with tent and a small measure of humble pie tucked under his arm and I am left with Pogo who is bereft his person has abandoned him.

Now, I don't mind being alone, I rather like it sometimes but the Pogo problem does put a twist on things. Pogo curls up at night with Gene, I get a few others who have set spots with me. When Gene isn't home Pogo is like a little restless waif at night.
Jack, Peter and Charlotte are not generous of spirit when it comes to bed real estate.

So, for the first half of the night Pogo moves about between my head and feet, muttering and moaning because he wants Jack or Peter's spot. After about 20 trips either under the covers or over the covers I'm ready to take the little black bundle down and toss him in a crate. We have a discussion, I'm not sure he's listening but I manage at great cost to scoot Jack and Peter and carve out a little prime space . Finally, he circles about 100 times, getting it just so, heaves as big a sigh as his 9 pound body can give and we at last all head off to dreamland.

But back to town, and all things fibery. The fall fibers are arriving in daily and all sorts of beautiful things are starting to appear in baskets and cubbies around the shop at Webster's. Now my yarn budget has been a little tight. Hay and Miss Bea's surgery coming up have prodded me to practice some form of fiscal responsibility. Now that form allows for small purchases, so this certainly fell under that category. What could be thriftier than a scarf I ask?

The hefty skein of natural is Plymouth's Yarn Dye For Me baby llama glow, 95% llama and 5% stellina ( a little sparkle throughout). I love it just the way it is and have no intention of dying this. It's very soft and plush feeling and the skein is large at 273 yards. The mocha and white yarn is Louisa Harding Willow Tweed 40% Alpaca, 40% wool and 20% silk, 128 yards. We'll see if we can't put together a pretty soft scarf with these two yarns.
Hey Baby is ready to go and sporting a plain beam and apron rod.

I have yarns spread out on my little worktable trying to choose what to put on. I'm leaning towards some silk but need to look at some 8 harness drafts before finalizing her next warp and at least 3 uninterrupted days to putter as I see fit. Oh, the possibilities!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Baby Spikes

It would seem with the approaching fall weather, all sorts of creatures are out and about and being more bold than usual. This morning the first of the truly big bucks arrived for the gathering that happens every year at rut.

This fellow was here last year too and in my 51 odd years I have to say, I think he's one of the nicest looking bucks I've ever seen. How do I know it's him? He has a visible white scar that extends onto one of his rear hooves. We also had one of those pitiful teenage boys hanging around, the single baby spike, intimidating to no one. In fact, the doe traveling with our handsome buck, chased the yearling off in the most embarrassing manner...easily! Mr. Big Bucks couldn't even be bothered.

Between yesterday and this morning I have had a chance to sight a lot of wildlife.
The trail ride yesterday included some buck sightings (although not this big one),and turkey vultures roosting in a tree. We startled them into flying. Maybe youngsters who are still perfecting their flying techniques? Cooper and I did a fine job of flushing a bevy of grouse, and high up on one of the hills, a coyote and her pups, who are all looking rather adult, resting in the shade of a group of pine trees. Of course the usual array of chipmunks, ground squirrels and lizards but we haven't seen many coyotes around in the last few years. I don't really know why. Could be the population of larger predators have moved them along to lower ground. Could be I'm just not looking in the right places but I haven't heard them like I used to either.

This morning, a mass of rustling outside the front door made me grab my headlamp and go out for a look see. Tres banditos where climbing into one of the bigger trees on the far side of the driveway. Finally I got my light on the masked bandits. A Momma raccoon and her two youngsters. It was classic cartoon time. Two sets of shining eyes right over each other as the babies shared a perch and Mom, who was a little lower
glaring at me in the dark and gnashing her teeth. A sure signal my presence was extremely unwelcome. I would much rather have come along a skunk. I don't like raccoons, they are aggressive animals who will stand their ground and fight and can do a heck of a lot of damage to a dog. Just plain destructive around a farm. Ask anyone with chickens. I certainly don't want one getting into my dog pen. So, we'll see if the bandits pass along or make a pest out of themselves.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Windows on the World

So, finally after a weekend of hard work and very early starts the back porch can be officially considered a room. The floor painted up beautifully and even with one wall in house siding letting you know the roots of this space, I think it's a fine place.
There us still a little work to be done to the inside. Lighting needs to go in and a set of curtains for the one long sunny wall. I have the fabric and Gene is going to run heavy cable on turnbuckles from wall to wall so I can just pull the drape closed and open it back up with no center support in the way.

The Murphy loom has been officially installed. Gene put rubber bumpers on the floor in front of the back legs and it's just enough to keep him from creeping. Only two small screw holes each side should the loom migrate elsewhere. In fact, they are so small and easily filled I might just have him do this with the other looms.

A very dear friend created the lovely stained glass tree for me the first year I lived in Texas. I was so homesick and the coming of fall and the holidays with no color, no hope of snow, no family and certainly no relief from the heat in sight, put me in a funk I would just assume never repeat. This Sugar Maple in Fall has brought me countless hours of joy and fond memories of exploring parts of Texas with a good friend while picking the perfect glass. As it was said, I am just so about my fall colors. :-)

The prayer flag warp is off the loom and the last length I used to try weaving lavender.
I loved the scent the enveloped me, but I have to say, it was a slow process made more difficult by the fact I waited too long to use the cuttings in weaving.

They were very dry and I would have been better served to have used them in the latter part of the first week of cutting. I took the whole heap I had and deflowered the stems. I'll use the flowers in sachets for my wool/yarn closet. The little pouches and bobbins are what I use for floating selvages.

I have 3 bare looms now. I have wound 60 ends out of 180 for the 11 yard rug warp on the Barbara V loom, I think that linen and wool yarn I picked up in July will go on Hey Baby for a humane society scarf, and I will put my Mother's cashmere scarf on Murphy. The sectional rakes from Hey Baby have been removed and she's ready for me to outfit her with strings (Texsolv) and an apron rod.

None of this is going to happen today though, I got a date with Cooper. We've been talking about a ride up towards the lakes for a couple of mornings now and today's the day. The scenery is always nice and he hears the grass is pretty tasty up that way. I'll spend some time on him fluffing out his tail and taming his mane along with his regular pre-ride brushing. He loves to be fussed on that way and I swear, he knows when he looks all primped and prettified up.

A good grooming is much more than just cleaning the coat. It warms muscles and gets an animal ready for the ride. Good grooms knew this and it is an important part of the warm up, just as a soothing light brushing and some easy stretches should be part of a good cool down once the saddle is off. A groom use to be considered a very important position. They can make or break a working stable. Every part of the horse is gone over by hand. Any tenseness can be felt, any heat in the legs and hoof and any flinch needs to be investigated. The only way to do this is with touch and knowing the horse at hand. Your fingers pick up knowledge your eyes would never ever be able to tell you.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Summer's Done Gone By

I know the calendar still says it's summer, and the weather is pretty summer like too, although nights are getting chilly up here with average temps now in the mid-40's.
What tells me the summer is kaput is the daylight, or lack there of. I have officially dragged out the headlamp and Elmer Fudd set-up.

The headlamp is too heavy and large for my head "neat" so I need a hat. This one is perfectly suited to get me through until I no longer need man made light to stagger around the barn at my chosen feeding time of 5:15 a.m.

This morning in the dark after dumping my heap of hay for every one's morning munch out I headed up the driveway on Bob. There is nothing like driving a tractor with no lights and only a headlamp. The deer we saw at the end were transfixed by the single light. I picked up four pairs of eyes scattered over both sides of the driveway.
Looked like bucks mostly, big, handsome, in velvet and starting to plump up their bodies and their coats. It's a slow ride up the 1/4 mile and back and just a nice little diversion to sit and think.

I love these subtle seasonal shifts, one foot in summer the other in fall, the dogwoods changing colors already. It's like we are all taking a big relaxing sigh before the industry of fall descends on us in a rush of wind, rain and falling leaves. The chipmunks and squirrels aren't stuffing their cheek pouches with abandon, yet. The young of all species haven't quite been weaned and kicked out to make their own way,
but it's coming. Spots are disappearing off fawns, udders running dry, the batch of wild babies are all becoming hard to distinguish from their parents they have grown so much. Do or die time is right around the corner and in the world of people, at least in this country, it is a noted day also. Not only the end of a season coming, but the end of an era with the passing of the old lion Ted Kennedy. Time reins us all in.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Four Ears! Four Ears!

Poor Nick, the heartbreak of fly mask failure. Can't decide if he looks more like a Unicorn from some twisted underground world or a weird species of Rhinoceros.

FMF( fly mask failure) is somewhat common to the pastures of of the Southern Cascade-Siskiyou Mountains, usually affecting younger horses, who feel the overwhelming need to tear the masks off their paddock mates or use a tree or another horses body to rub their own mask off.

It's easily identified as previously masked horses will appear with either one ear out, both ears out or no mask at all.

When the loss of one or more ear protection (but not full face mask removal) occurs the victim will approach, head low with a sheepish posture, for readjustment.

In the case of a missing mask, the paddock must scoured* to find the errant face and ear protection and reapplied as many times as necessary during the day. The victim does not display any remorse when the mask is lost, but it can be embarrassing for a victim with a partial failure.

Said victim will try to convince you it has been an Immaculate Removal. Don't be fooled, there are no reported incidents of fly masks in good working order just falling off.

The means of removal is usually easily discovered. Rips around the nose area and of the Velcro fasteners mean removal has been by a pasture "buddy". Pine pitch means a tree was involved. In either event the usefulness of the mask may be compromised. A fly mask is a terrible thing to waste.

* Missing Fly masks are usually found in any depression, often in one deep enough to not see with a horizon scanning. Other common places for the fly mask to be discovered are: under a pile of poop, hidden in brushy areas, stuck to a tree, either above or below eye level, in a water tank and in one reported incident, velcroed to a buddies tail. Depending on condition and circumstances of discovery, the fly mask may be immediately reapplied, sewn and/or washed and reapplied or in the case of pine pitch, disposed of and another procured at fair market value.

Friday, August 21, 2009

I Had a Vision...

And part of that vision was weaving as close to the harnesses as possible for yardage.
WHAT WAS I THINKING? Please step back and remember how clever I thought myself when I attached a simple apron rod onto the leader rod used for sectional warping. Also remember the attachment was maybe an inch long. If you aren't getting the picture, that's fine, because I didn't either. In my mind that apron rod traveled up over the back beam, in real life, it just cleared the sectional rakes. Now weaving is in part about adapting, and I did manage to tie another longer set of apron strings onto the bar, cut the short ties and weave another 12 inches, but I sure was stumped and slapping my forehead for a bit. There was a fair amount of winding back and forth between the front and the back beams and I am short on what I wanted for yardage, but I have just enough if I get creative with my generous color sampling.

On the other hand, I was wonderfully challenged by some problem solving, I had another opportunity to monkey with the new loom and see just how she handles upset.
The mechanics of a loom while simple are endlessly fascinating to me. I've always liked taking things apart and putting them back together. Sometimes they even work again!
Without further ado, here is the fabric before wet finishing.

I ended up being true to myself and going with a soft green. I tried a grey blue and it changed the value of the orange to read red and while pretty, it wasn't what I wanted. The orange I had had in mind was just so bright it took away from all the beautiful striped variation in the warp.

I asked Gene when sampling the green if it could be mistaken for a part of the woods. He felt I had no fear of someone thinking I was a deer or a tree with any of the colors sampled.

I had issues with the selvage and finally pulled out the temple to alleviate draw-in. Worked fine but I am going to ask Nadine what I can do to correct my tendency to get draw-in in the first place. I am sure it is an operator issue and I know not to pull too much but I just can't seem to get that middle ground with some of these warps.

Here is the fabric after wet finishing and I am very pleased with it as yard goods. It plumped nicely and the drape is good. It is not soft though and never will be. This is rough wool and should hold up well as an outer garment.

It also gave me a chance to use the Harrisville Shetland as both warp (some of it) and weft (all of it) and that was very helpful considering all those double weave blankets are slated for Harrisville yarn. One note, the Shetland did soften nicely but the bulk of the warp was Le-mieux brand 2 ply and it is a very hard wool indeed.

The colored nubs I placed in while weaving. I like them and the tweedy effect they give a fabric. Some will need to be trimmed but it's something that can be done once the vest itself is complete. I better brush up on my sewing skills. It's been forever since I made any clothing.

I need to finish off the warp on Murphy and then each loom will get a little cleaning and sprucing up and warps will be planned for all. Rug warp for Barbara, scarf warp for Murphy and for Hey Baby, I'm not sure yet, but I have a fair amount of projects to pick from.

This weekend will be devoted to painting trim. Yes, the back porch inside trim is complete and now I can get in there with paint and brush and start making it look like a truly finished part of the house. Yippee!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Tonight There's Gonna Be a Breakout...

And, yes there was! Please, let me state right from the get-go, at the root of 99% of all farm "incidents" is a goat. They look sweet and are darn cute, but don't be lulled. They are Trouble with a capitol T. ;)

So, let me set the stage. It's hot, still holding at about 92 degrees F. and hazy and I always give fresh water to the boys on my way to feed. Yesterday was no different. Tip the big water tank, rinse, start refilling, spray a few milling equine bodies etc. Go out the gate and LATCH it. And as always, a couple of goats scoot under said gate only this time they broke the chain holding the latch as their scooting isn't a nice clean clearance under. They lift the gate with their backs.

The sound is the same though so I don't turn around until I'm ten steps closer to the barn and feeling something isn't right. It isn't, the gate has swung open as wide as possible and five horses are all milling around outside. NP, I calmly walk up and grab
Cooper and Dandy by their fly masks and lead them back into the paddock. Now I have 12 feet of gate to pull up and two hands full ( that third hand I always wish for would have come in well, very handy). I have to let go of someone to grab that gate and swing it back on it's big heavy arc. The other three horses are now trotting around and my two are getting anxious. I let go of Cooper, who realizes he has another opportunity at freedom if he can scoot by Dandy. I'm hauling on the gate as hard and fast as I can. Coop scoots out, gate swings closed. I now have four horses running
around the property and one going nuts inside the gate I'm tying together with baling twine. Gene has gone to do the silly jump off a mountain thing.

Now everyone is running up towards the back 40. Dandy, bless his sweet soul, is racing around the paddock watching his herd leave him and screaming his little red head off. I dump some hay up there, hoping he will settle a bit and eat and not break through the fence. Grab a little treat or two and a halter because if I can get Cooper they will all follow. I'm whistling too, because they all know a whistle means a treat.

After walking in the heat, with 5 goats following and tripping me up about a 1/4 mile into the back 40 I realize, these boys are long gone and even the dust has settled. I'm not walking up to the irrigation canal road. It's way to hot for old huffing and puffing me to do in this heat. I go back to the house, call who I need to call to get gate codes, check on Dandy who is pitifully whinnying between hay bites and head out to the car with every horse goodie available stuffed in pockets. I hear the phone ringing and run back to the house to answer in case some neighbor has four horses eating their front lawn. It's a marketing call. Back to the car where by now, I'm feeling like Dandy and just want to cry. I'm hot, sweaty and worried. I pull into the turnaround and there, right there in the lower driveway is my boy Cooper waiting for me. He doesn't believe in keep away and meets me at the car. He gets a treat and the halter gets put on and we begin the walk back to the barn. No sign of the three stooges, Boo, Nick & Imp, but as I'm passing the gully by the barn driveway entrance I see a shiny black back way down munching grass. I whistle and Nick comes running up the slope and heads right for the barn. The two stooges follow and I have all three horses milling around the barn. Cooper gets put away, Imp & Nick come up to the paddock gate wanting to go in and then, there is just Boo. Boo likes keep away. He wastes about another 3 minutes of my time staying just out of reach when a carrot finally catches his eye. The bust out lasted about 40 minutes. Boo has a scratch near one of his eyes, a ding on a back leg. He's my runner, everyone else is kind of lazy. It took longer for me too cool down even with two beers than they were loose.

This is not the first time the goats have sprung the horses, they have bumped that gate up enough to come off the hinges (Gene turned one around so it can't be lifted again) and broken the latch chain a few times before. One time the horses didn't even know the gate was open. Had someone stopped by ( no one did) and asked for the girls, I would have happily sent them on their way, although they are always a little contrite and willing to stomp through the woods with me on a search party. Lots of new browse to check out no doubt. I'm sure last night everyone was swapping stories of the great adventure complete with Dandy admonishing the group for leaving him.

Gene finally called wanting to know what was up with that message I left. "Nothing Honey, we got it all handled. How was the flight? Do we have any of that unbreakable airline cable stuff still?"

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Stops, Starts and Color Sampling

The wool warp is finally seeing some weaving time. Monday I got the reed sleyed, one and quarter times! I started out with a 12 dent reed but after sleying 7 inches I just knew it wasn't going to cut it. The heavy accent yarns were a very tight fit and I could see abrasion problems down the road. I un-sleyed the inches I had done and replaced the 12 with an 8 dent reed. It was much better and I was able to give those thicker yarns more room. I tried propping the reed up flat but that required putting the breast beam back on. I tried hanging it and finally went back to just sticking it in the beater and putting that back on the loom and leaving the breast beam off while I sleyed.
I also learned it's easier to just drop the treadles and start fresh with a new tie-up than to figure out what I can save from the last tie-up. Wasted a bit of time and had to go back down and correct a mistake.

I tied on and starting sampling some of the colors and had quite a lot of fun trying things out.

I also found I as getting a lot of draw in and had to adjust my end feed shuttle. I struggle with selvages. They are many times fairly even but the draw in is the bane of my weaving. The adjustment helped and I have started in with the color selected. More pictures to follow in a future post.

In other news around the farm, the horses indeed got their trims yesterday. Morgan arrived early before it really heated up and was done in under an hour.

Sadly, one of our resident fawns was hit and killed by a passing vehicle. The wild clean up crew of buzzards, big black crows,ravens, coyotes and fox ( a grey one was spied by Gene at driveways end carrying off a leg) have reduced the baby to bones already. We have many travelers passing through in the summer and most don't realize that the deer are active and wandering at any time during the day or night. They seem to always go in twos and threes. When we see a deer run across the road, we slow down waiting for the second or third one to follow. In summer, it's always time for deer hence always "deer-thirty"( a.m. or p.m. take your pick).

After 3 plus weeks of no sighting Puck has moved on to somewhere else. He stuck around longer than I would have ever expected for a tomcat. On going out to the barn this morning I did detect a possible reappearance of Bond the skunk. Time will tell.

Dennett, the resident grit sponge, who loves to roll and get as dusty as possible in the dirt, got a bath. He is so darn good about them too. You sit him in the big laundry sink and he stays put while you grab towels and rinse and such. As long as you talk (loudly) with him, he's happy to wait it out. He got a long ( for him) walk up the driveway and across the road onto the BLM road for a bit. It was hot and I wanted him to dry but at 16 I hate to push it too much considering he has been on heart meds for two years now. He was every bit the jaunty handsome terrier, taking his person out for a stroll and clean too!

I couldn't resist and slept our warm night on the enclosed porch. Gene passed as the heat doesn't bother him a bit and a double bed with 4 dogs on it is cramped compared to the king sized bed. Even with one person clinging to the edge! It was a beautiful clear night. Up here with no light pollution we are lucky to see the vast night sky in all it's glory. I spent a fair time awake star gazing, listening to frogs sing and the small creatures of the woods come out and rustle about. We were cool, comfortable and protected.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

AKK Heza Dandy

I often ask myself what goes through folks minds when they give a horse a registered name. It can't be good. I've gotten to name one of my horses and help with another.
I would never have named Dandy..dandy and I certainly wouldn't have tried to be clever with poor spelling practices. But Dandy he is and Dandy he'll stay and we love him no matter the moniker. He knows his name too and answers usually with a loud whinny back at me when I call him, no doubt hoping I have a treat. It was late in the morning when I finally got out to the paddock to grab a horse and do a little lunge line and round pen work. It was the D Man's day. He can get quite fresh on the lunge. I think it offends his sense of superiority that I would take him back to "baby" lessons so we try to keep it short and entertaining for him with some little challenges along the way. A ride was out until Morgan the farrier comes out on Tuesday for trims.
It's too hard to hold a camera and a horse on a line so pictures are far and few between but I did my best.

Dandy has a big sweet kind eye, sometimes full of mischief and when he's cranky and worked up his whole expression changes. That big sweet eye can get kind of mean and squinty. :-)

He's the smallest horse in the herd, coming in at barely over pony size at 14.3 hands high. A hand is 4" and a horse is measured at the withers or top of the shoulder blade, so he is 59" tall at the top of the shoulder. His size makes no difference to the herd, what he says, goes. He wants your pile of food, he simply turns his head and pulls his ears back and you move. If you don't, I'll find a bite mark on your rump or neck. It won't be more than a scrape of hair off, but I'll know you didn't move quick enough. Mostly he's a pretty benevolent leader and I treasure that he has taught all the babies to be polite. A good herd leader can do a lot of training for you. Here he is looking back towards the paddock down the hill, watching and listening to make sure his "peeps", as we call them, are all okay.

After making sure everything was as it should be, he wisely turned his attention back to me and walked on over . Note, one ear on me, the other on them.

I let him graze the few edible blades that have grown up in the round pen while I draped myself over his back, scratching all those top bits that are hard to reach from the ground. Maybe the name isn't so bad, he really is a dandy little horse.

On a completely different thread, this charming Youtube link was sent to me this morning and I thought it so sweet and dear I would pass it along to all the dog lovers that happen to read this blog. So stop reading this blog and check it out. :-) Enjoy!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

I'm Having Fun...Really!

Maybe I should have titled this post serious weaver? Anyway, the mixed orange wool warp was beamed on yesterday morning.

While tall and rather imposing, Hey Baby is easy to warp by yourself using Jane Staffords method with modifications...of course!
I needed Gene to just hold the warp while I released the ties holding the apron rod in place in case the rod itself dropped unevenly back on the sectional rakes (This won't be the norm). It didn't and I wound it that 3
inches until it was resting on the warp beam and let my helper go. He ran and got a camera, which accounts for the grumpy expression. At least it wasn't his little video camera!

Jack knows how to stay out of the way!

The warp went on pretty nicely. It behaved well but needed a fair amount of pulling on the bundles and thrumming by the raddle as it wanted so badly to tangle up and stick to itself.

Of course, after I got it all wound on and the ends cut,

the Texsolv I needed to change it over to a plain beam, arrived. We'll have to see how this plays out as it is. Threading has started but I was only able to get a few inches done yesterday. I'll have more time and less interruptions today..hopefully.

I took Susan's advice at Thrums and purchased a copy of "Weaving Designs by Bertha Gray Hayes, Miniature Overshot Patterns" by Norma Smayda et al. It arrived with the 20 yards of Texsolv and is just as wonderful as Susan says! I poured over it for a good hour and then started reading from the beginning. Little post-it arrows have already appeared to mark some of the patterns. My Dad made a foray up to Halcyon while on his way to a boat show and made the mistake of asking if I "needed" anything. He'll learn. :-)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Where in the World Has Murphy Gone?

He's not here, where he use to be, but Hey Baby has moved right in and fills the empty spot quite nicely. Some progress made on the wool warp and hopefully it will get beamed on today.

He's not here,

but this old chippy bedstead (complete with a cushy mattress) certainly makes the new sunroom inviting for an afternoon snooze, a guest or small terriers to have a birds eye view for spying for deer, turkey's and squirrels on the back forty. Maybe it's odd to have a bed on the porch, but I can't think of a better place to waste a little time no matter what the weather, and there is enough room for everyone to cuddle in.

Dennett is heading towards 17. He doesn't see well, but his nose still tells him when there is something of interest and Jack will certainly let him know the second something pops into view.

He's not here on the padded bench seat ( complete with doggy beds in the cubbies underneath. Peter and Pogo certainly think the arrangement is pretty nice. Peter is 14 this year, he is so white in the face now. When he was a young dog his face was all black with just a little white dash above his nose.

Here he is! He too has a nice view of stuff going on and so does anyone weaving at him. You can see the dog pen fence line and while it's not visible, the horse shelter is
in view too beyond the fence line about 300 feet away.

No finish work has been done yet, hence the cardboard covering the opening to the small wall that had to built out for the largest window we could get. Trim starts tomorrow on the inside, after that painting and we're painting the floor too. I love painted floors. I'm sure it must be some Yankee hold over, but nothing speaks to me like the blank canvas of a painted floor. Plus,when it gets worn or you become tired of it, just paint it over with something new!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Hey, Hey, HAY!

Every year we go through the saga of the hay or as is mentioned as the check is written out, "Weaving gold into straw". Some years are better than others. Two years ago our steady hay guy retired and we were left scrambling to find another supplier in a bad hay year. The fill- in supplier cost us a lot more per ton than we had been paying. Hay supply is an iffy thing, yes, when feeding one horse the difference between paying $125.00 per ton and $185.00 hurts but not like feeding five.

We average 20 ton per year and it's always good to have some extra if the weather is particularly bad over the winter or the first cutting of the following year is late. We've had that happen too. The local Grange knows they have you over a barrel and a 60-80 pound bale of hay can cost $12-16 big ones. I feed a bale a day at least.
Last year the gas prices really hurt everyone involved with livestock. A lot of horses hit craigslist and for very cheap prices. Broke my heart to see some nice horses being dumped for next to nothing. The hay guys grumbled (no one works that hard to lose money), the owners grumbled and frankly, the hay wasn't all that great for what it cost. I wasn't happy with the hay I got last year and neither were the Hoovers ( they suck up feed like a vacuum). We had to find another supplier. This year I went to Klamath Falls for production hay producers.

It wasn't my first choice, I always try to buy locally, but we simply couldn't afford it and the hay has not been worth the price. Instead of splitting up my hay between two cuttings I bought all first cutting and had it delivered in one gigundum load complete with double trailers and hay squeeze. As the guys were pushing cubes of hay into our barn, I was feeding out my very last pitiful old bale from last year.

If you ever build a hay barn, build it at least 12'6" high. Ours is 11'6" high and we can't get a hay squeeze in. Cody did a great job of pushing it in though. It was amazing and saved Gene and I a whole bunch of work and our backs. These are 125 pound 3 string bales, not the 60-70 pounders I prefer because they are easier for me to lift, but I'll make do.

The price was good, delivery and stacking good considering ( I'll have to push that one loose top load over into the side wall) and the hay looks nice. I liked these guys and it looks like maybe ( fingers crossed) we will again have a steady hay supplier. This morning I'll go out and start feeding off the outside stack we couldn't get in, part of it is for a neighbor so it will whittle down pretty quick once he picks his up. We'll tarp the rest in case of rain. Hay buying is done for this year and while it is always a heavy hit on the wallet, there is a big sigh of relief when the barn is full and you know the kids are all taken care of until next summer. Whew!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Patterns and Warp

My bad for not putting all the necessary information up about the patterns I've been showing. Let's correct that now!

The sewing pattern for the vests is an Indygo Junction pattern #IJ730, Easy Silhouette
Vest and has 6 different variations and sizes S-XXL contained in the one pattern. The cost was $12.95 my end of the world.

The Isabella knitted vest ( one with the big ribbed collar) is a pattern out of a Debbie Bliss book Rialto. It was published in 2007 and has since gone out of print but you might find some copies here and there.

The grey and black vest is Sakiori I from Folk Vests by Cheryl Oberle. It's a nice book and has a few vests I really like in it.
I have started one of the choices shown in a previous post, but no pictures yet as we're only about 10" along in the back.

Hey Baby is getting herself all dressed up in wool. I am trying something different for beaming on. I am REALLY avoiding the sectional warping like the plague. I simply didn't know how much yarn of each color to put on bobbins and had no plan to figure it out since I did all the color changes as I went along. I read on Tien's site how she learned to treat a warp on a sectional beam just like a plain one and the lights started firing. Why couldn't I do the same sort of thing? I have yet to find out the pitfalls, one is no warp separator, either paper or sticks, but have great confidence that Hey Baby can do a good job with this sticky warp.
I made up the lease sticks myself and the apron rod tied on is actually a cut down fiberglass fence post used in electric fencing. They are strong, light and smooth. Much lighter than a metal rod of the same diameter would be. I'll take my time spreading this warp out into the raddle. It's a very lively warp with a mind of it's own but promises to be very unique when done. I certainly hope so!
On back porch news, the door is in. We've had this door kicking around since it was replaced by an all glass french door. Now, that would have been my choice here too, but it made more sense to reuse/recycle. Having the door in means the 8 little furry dwarf's can go sit and look out the windows (and bark their silly little heads off) at the fauna and flora. Really there is a silver lining to my noisy pack. None of my horses is phased a bit at a bunch of dogs rushing a fence at high speed and high volume.

Now quiet bicycles coming up behind them on a mountain trail is another matter all together and I had that happen the other day riding. Needless to say the 20 yard dash into the trees while spooking was exciting and I can't remember Cooper EVER being that wigged out, but we managed. We went back and sniffed the bicycle and even got a treat from its rider. Coop got his wits about him quickly and faced what scared him easily. He is such a sensible horse. Truth be told when the cyclist called out from behind to let us know he was coming, I jumped just as much as the horse. It was all so quiet and we were each in our own little place. We've never seen another human on this part of the trail let alone one on a bike. We finished our ride pleasantly enough and none the worse for wear!