Wednesday, February 19, 2014

I gone done it

Well, it seems that seeds are not the only ones who reproduce when the days get longer.  I think I artificially stimulated my kitten to go into heat.  Yikes.  We've had 3 sleepless nights already, what with the yowling and meowing all night.  I've been trying to make an appointment to get her spayed, but they never pick up at the office.  As I understand it, there's a limited window of opportunity to get her spayed in between cycles, which will continue until she gets preggers or the days get shorter again.  Or something like that.

Yesterday,  I managed to card up 4 oz of fleece to blend with the first batch I dyed.  (Promise pictures next week.  I'm not even supposed to be writing this, since I have a crapload of work to do.)  After I submit my project on Sunday, things should settle down for a bit.  I can't wait to say goodbye to February.  This month has been hell.

The seeds are doing well.  I think the chamomile tea mist helps.  I have to keep at it everyday, but there's hardly any white fuzzy stuff anymore.  Some more seeds have come up, so there's lavender and some alpine strawberries.  Still waiting on the huckleberries and rhubarb.  Most of the seedlings are big enough that you can actually see them upon first looking at the seed tray, instead of closely inspecting every nook and cranny for signs of life.  Feeling a bit more confident, but damping off is a constant worry.  Well, gotta get to work.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Back to the Grind

Today was back to work.  Yes.  On a holiday.  But that's ok since we had a lovely 5-day break.  It also made the seedlings grow faster.  They do that when you're not looking at them every time you pass the seedling room.  Which is about every hour or so.  I saw the beginnings of rhubarb, lavender, oregano, thyme, marjoram, rosemary and lemon balm.  It's super exciting to see how they all look similar, but they will be changing a lot soon. The frais de bois and huckleberries are the hold outs.  I actually expected all the seeds to take a while so I'm pleased as punch I have this much action after 5 days. The super strong chamomile tea I brewed up seems to be helping with the damping off.  I no longer see the fuzzy white hairs on top of the soil.  2.99 for the chamomile flowers and 1.50 for the spray bottle.  I was desperate.  Next weekend is the county plant sale.  All the plants are $2 and I plan on getting around 10, depending on if they have the sex of the plants identified.  I really wanted to get some berries for the birds, but some of them won't fruit unless there is a male plant.  Hopefully someone can help me with that.  Mostly they are offering native shrubs and trees that thrive in clay soil.  That's good for maintenance.  It's nice to think I can have a lush woodland garden with minimal upkeep.

In other news, my cat went into heat.  It's the first time I've had an unspayed female and she's been yowling like mad.  Two of the boys think she is cray, and avoid her, and one seems to remember what you do with a female in heat, and keeps trying to mount her.  Money's been so tight, so even though we wanted to do it sooner, we just couldn't.  It's a priority now.  I can't live like this indefinitely with consecutive heat cycles.  Apparently, it won't stop until she gets preggers.  Which won't happen in my house.  None of the boys have their balls.  Signing off for now ;)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Last day of my Impromptu Staycation :(

Happy Sunday!  Unfortunately everyone goes back to school tomorrow.  Oh well.  It was nice while it lasted.  This morning I looked through my fiber stash and sorted through it a bit.  Seems like I have a Jacob and a half, one baby Icelandic, one baby Shetland, the rest of Guilia (Coopworth/Border Leicester cross), one black/brown cross-breed from SAFF, half a silver Lincoln/BFL cross, and some more odds and ends.  The cross breed from SAFF is in the bathtub right now.  Gosh it's nice stuff.  Magicstix felted hers by accident from getting used to going crazy with the Cheviot this last year.  The dirt practically fell away from the fleece.  It's one of the cleanest I've washed in a long time.  Also, the electric centrifugal spin dryer works fantabulously!  I recommend anyone who works with copious amounts of fleece or roving to own one.  I happened to snag this one for free just before I left NY, but they cost about $145.  Definitely a worthwhile investment.

On the gardening front, the snow is pretty much melted, and I have a few more seedlings.  I see the beginnings of some fungus/mildew and am worried about damping off.  I'm going to try chamomile tea and see if that helps.  If not, next is boric acid.  We'll see.  I'm sure they'll be a lot more action next week.  Here's hoping.  I know my blog is seriously lacking pictures, but iPhone is not doing a great job (yes, i'm blaming it on the technology, not the user.)  Will dig out my camera and see if I can wrangle up some pics.


In fiber-related news, the black/brown fleece is drying and it's heavenly.  Spun up a tiny sample.  9 oz of Guilia is on the stove right now.  I'm trying to figure out what to do about my Post-Apocalypse coat.  It needs to be finished by the time Fiber Fallout comes around in September.  I dyed up about 2+ pounds of fleece a few years ago, then carded all the colors separately into batts.  My original idea was to have Steph card them together on her mini-mill to get a heathered green, but after the flood, it became hectic and no longer feasible.  Eventually, I got restless and started spinning up the batts by color with no real plan.  Now I see that I'll prolly need about 3-4 pounds for the sweater/coat and need to dye up some more.  The original design was based on an acrylic sweater coat I wore the crap out of, however, it's progressed from just a plain copy-cat design.  The bust had a horizontal cable across it, with the rest of the sweater ribbed from the empire waist.  Now that I have a bunch of colors, I plan on making a fair isle design and steeking it.  Something with green/brown/orange/white and possibly mushrooms.  Then I can knit down from the waist plain ribbing and increase my needle size to give it a slight a-line shape.  If I run out of the main color on the body, I can revise the design to include fair isle on the sleeves.  So anyway, I spun up 12 oz of green and 5 oz of green/brown.  I have 4 oz of green left over.  My plan is to dye up 9 oz of similar green, card it with the original green, and then dye up another 12 oz of similar green, ply the 3 together to get a little over 2 pounds of the main color.  This leaves me with some extra white fleece to work with for the fair isle part. If necessary, I can also add in some other fiber, like the black/brown
SAFF fleece, or the silver Lincoln/BFL.   I've also decided that the fair isle body will be 2-ply, while the rest will be 3 ply.  It will also have a hood, but it remains to be seen what kind of design.  So far this thing sounds like a hot mess, but I have faith in my skills.  I can do eet!!  I'm crazy.  This is my first handspun sweater.  Clearly, I love to stuff my mouth with more than I can chew.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Happy Saturday!

Hubby finally landed a full time position!  Yay!  The pay isn't great, but it's full-time with benefits so at least he's set up for the future for now.  I'm still working on getting a retro-active raise with my experience.  Hopefully it will pan out favorable for us.  In the meanthyme, um meantime, I have tiny itty bitty thyme seedlings.  You can barely see them.  Oh so cute!  I thought they would take a long time, but there they are.  Can't wait to see more seedlings tomorrow.  They grow so fast!  Saw some white mold/mildew forming so kept the top off all day to dry out some.  Hopefully I can avoid damping off.

In fibery news, finally dug out Guilia and recarded the green batts so I can continue working on my car coat.  I'm struggling with how to divide up the yarn.  I only dyed 16 oz of green, but prolly need 2-2 1/2 pounds of the MC.  Thinking of doing a fair isle bust, so the rest of the colors could be flexible.  Too many decisions!  Also, knit a bit on the sock that will not end.  Hopefully it will be done before I run out of yarn, or else I'll have to rip out some of the first one and finish it again.  BTW, I HATE SIZE 0 NEEDLES!  Onward.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Pax has brought me some peace!

Greetings from NC and Happy Valentine's Day!  Winter storm Pax has granted me early spring break.  At least, that's how I'm viewing it, since my district has now taken away two days from our upcoming break for make-up days.   Oh well.  It's not like I was going anywhere anyways.  It's a stay-cation no matter how you slice it.  The only difference is that I have no choice in staying, since we're pretty much snowed in.  No plows come down my road, and most in my neighborhood are retirees, with no interest in digging out to get anywhere.  We'll see what happens today.  Hubby has off till Monday, too.  We already discussed a crisis plan for him.  I have to keep him exercised so he doesn't turn aggressive, lol.  Looks like he's walking to Compare foods today...

Checking on seeds during week one is depressing.  Nothing going on at all.  It took me all day to sow 1 flat of perennials.  Though I wanted to recycle containers and spend minimal cash on seed-starting, I splurged for seedling plug trays.  At $5 a pop at Wally World, there's no reason for me not to buy them.  It's just easier.  I will recycle those next year.  First,  I dutifully filled the flats with peat-based seed starter.  Then I boiled some water to off-gas the chlorine in my tap.  Then I cooled the water with snow outside and bottom watered them.  A few hours later, dry as a bone.  Ugh.  Don't I already know this from boiling water in my basement years ago and wetting bags of peat?  So...I boiled the water again and mixed it in a stainless steel mixing bowl.  Ok, soil wetted.  Refilled the plugs, and then started planting.  After I spoke to my friend, I determined it's too early to plant vegetables.  So I figured I seed all my perennials which allegedly take forever.  Mind you, I don't even have garden beds in yet!  This truly is a fly-by-night operation.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Fast Forward Time Machine!!!!

Welcome back, oh faithful reader!  It's been over 3 years since I posted, but I think I'm back.  Seems like only yesterday I dreamed of having a trailer.  Oh yeah.  It was.  At least now, I have a driveway and backyard.  The trailer dream is closer than ever.  Try finding a place to park that thing while you're renting in Queens!

Anywho, I have moved to North Carolina and am loving it.  We're broke, and in transition, but I can see that we are a step closer to our dreams.  Most of them are contingent on me getting a pickup truck again, but that's in the works.  Hubby and I have been working on landscaping our barren backyard.  You have to see it to believe it.  Big trees, no grass.  Red clay, on a slope.  Builder's fill in everywhere and tree roots as far as the eye can see.  How can we fix it?  What can we do?

 (Curtains open...steps onto soapbox.)


Ok.  I said it.  Well, yelled it.  It's crazy to me how people have come so far from what is common sense.  Also, how they like to make more work for themselves.   When the air turns clear and brisk, and the wind has pushed out the heavy, sticky bug-infested air, bags of leaves appear mysteriously at the roadside.  They get carted off to the municipal yard waste facilities, where you can buy it back as compost for $23/cu yard.   Did I mention there's a fee to deposit it, too, if your vehicle is larger than a car?  Yes.    If you have a pick-up truck less than 10 ft. long, you only have to pay $8.50.  You pay to drop it off, and then to pick it up.   Genius.

Suffice to say, I will NOT be carting my leaves out.  Phase one of operation backyard overhaul includes raking leaves into beds that will remain undisturbed and build humus-rich soil that is typically found under large woodland trees.  Excess leaves will be raked to the left side of the yard to start building up the soil to fill in the ditch that has formed there, most likely due to water runoff since it's on the low end of the slope.  There is no topsoil in my yard.  Between the roots and builder's fill, it's near impossible to dig a hole.  No-till principles have become my best friend.

The funny thing is, since I did this, we see more birds in our yard than on either neighbor's yard.  That's how I know I'm on the right track.  One day we saw over 40 robins in our yard, hopping through the leaves after a light snow.  We also have frequent cardinals, a few types of woodpeckers, an owl resides nearby, and some rabbits in the brush just beyond our fence.  This is the reason we moved here:  to be part of a larger community of not just people, but plants and animals, too.  Looking forward to a beautiful yard filled with life :D

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