Sunday, December 29, 2013

A... Deer?

So you're just coming up the driveway, and do a double-take. Is that a deer? :gasp: And it's a stag! 

And you come to a stop. Wait. Is it moving or no? Why haven't I scared it off yet? You roll down the window. Is that even real? 

(In a very disappointed voice) No. It's not. 

But this little guy has fooled many folks! You're not the only one that he's duped. Our neighbor put this up a while ago, we all had our moment of trying to figure out if it's real or not. We all had a good laugh, and the deer remained. From the kitchen and the dining room table, we have an excellent view of the comings and goings of everyone, so we got to see the show of people slowing, stopping, getting out of their cars, taking pictures, and laughing as they go on. 

Then, on Christmas Eve, someone Santa-bombed the deer. How do we know when this happened? We saw our neighbor's reaction(s) to the holiday-decked deer from our dining room table (I guess it's the perfect place to spy on everyone). 
He looks like he partied too much. 
Photo courtesy of our neighbors

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Sewing: Colossal Squid

Sorry for the radio silence lately, I told myself that I would try to resume a more regular blogging schedule after Christmas. Between Christmas trees, Christmas sewing, Christmas scheming, Christmas shopping, well, I guess I could just sum all that up as Christmas... Ahem, with all the Christmas-ing going on, I needed to limit my computer time to maximize productivity time and direct mental energy towards things that jumped higher up on the priority list. 

I much prefer a home-made Christmas. Something about turning your back on commercialism and consumerism and making things yourself just makes me feel freer. I'm weird that way. I'll step into a craft or fabric store any day, but when it comes to actual 'shopping,' I'll run the other way. 

Now to fill you in on what I've been working on - 
Between paper-piecing and pj sewing, I made a giant squid. Not joking. This sucker's probably over 7 ft tall! 
The inspiration and directions came from something I saw on Pinterest. Big surprise there. You can check out the tutorial for yourself here. I drew out the pattern pieces, cut everything out, and, with the help of Emi, sewed the silly squid together. We put the last stitched in on Christmas Eve.  

The thought of trying to wrap something of that size was daunting. So I skipped that step. After the mini-man went to bed and fell asleep, I crept into his room with the squid in tow, and gently put it right next to his head so he'd wake up with a colossal squid looking at him. The next morning, all I heard was, 'Wha...? WHOA!' And then he ran around the house showing everyone his monster plushie. 

Even when I was working on it, it was obvious that it wasn't a 'normal' project for me. Where would you hide such monstrosity? If I told you where I stashed it, I couldn't hide things there anymore. :P 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Make Trade

I have something you need; you have something that I need (or want... it just depends on what we're talking about here). You put a value of what you think your product is worth, and I'll do the same. It's as simple as that. No federal governments putting a supposed value on it, and no extra costs in printing the money. Just you and me making a trade.

With all the chickens that we grew out this year, we've come realize how much barter power we have with them. Those birds are pasture raised on corn free, soy free feed. They run around in the open air and foraging to their little chicken hearts' content. And apparently it's hard for folks to find a good source for their chicken dinner with a 'pedigree' like that. Years ago, after sitting down and running some numbers, we found it was cheaper to grow our own instead of buying it through a food co-op or farmers' market - that was the only reason we started raising our own meat. We had the space, and we already owned layer hens. How much harder can adding in meat chickens be? (That was a hypothetical question, therefore I won't answer that right now :P). It's only been in the past year that we've started exploring this option of 'bartering.'

A friend of ours has a really good source for vanilla beans. Wanna trade for chicken?
Some friends of mine are vegetable farmers but don't have a good source for chickens. We'd love to trade for some of your extra squash and onions and tomatoes and beets and and and and!
Elk meat for chicken? Bring it!
The booth that we go to at the farmers market in town? They ENCOURAGE trading. BOOM BABY!
Why didn't we get into this sooner? It's so much fun! We're going to have to include a barter batch of chickens for next year.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Baby, It's Cold Outside

You know you're getting used to the temperature staying below freezing if you think that 34 is a tropical heat wave. For the past week, we've been living and working in a Popsicle of a weather pattern. Something about extreme cold just wears you out, and when the wind gusts and swirls around, not much can protect you from its bite.

The best you can do is hunker down and minimize your time spent exposed to the elements. Unless of course you're out doing Christmas trees. ;) I just finished an entire laundry load of thermals and wool socks that we had used over the weekend. When Mom was out running errands, she found some really nice knit wool gloves with a fleece lining. Those were finger-savers. Those and my Bofur hat. Everyone's ears were freezing, but mine were toasty warm. :P
Ice from a bucket that was left outside. Before it was broken, it could have served as a bowl.
At least we can escape the cold by coming in the house and warming by the fire, the animals are out there with not much else besides what God gave them. Before the really cold weather sank in, we did our gosh-darn-bestest attempt to set the farm menagerie up for the weather. Our attempts were not in vain; they seem to have fared well (for the most past, mini chickens seem to have been the exception). We made sure that there was deep bedding, lots of hot water to prevent the buckets from freezing, and heat lamps (very well secured heat lamps, I might add). 
The geese's bucket and the frozen splashes against the back wall
One can't be too cautious when using heat lamps though... You need to be freakishly OCD when it comes to heat lamp safety. Our neighbors just down the road lost their entire barn last week because a heat lamp fell into the bedding. You could see that giant black smoke cloud rising for miles around. Driving past that old barn, all that's left is charred metal sheets left from the siding.

Now, I know that everyone from the NE corner and Midwest is probably rolling their eyes at me right now. Cold this deep is normal for them. It's something that you acclimate to and learn to live with (or you just do as the birds do and fly South). In our lovely, temperate, mild Pacific Northwest, we don't know what to do with ourselves when it gets cold. Give us drippy sogginess any day, and we'll handle it without an umbrella, but throw us into Canada's weather systems, and you just might give us enough reason to hibernate for the rest of the winter.
I think that the garden is done until spring
Stay warm and stay safe everyone!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Lost Inspiration

He was the smallest, proudest, most photogenic rooster one could ask for. And he's gone. Somewhere between is advanced age (for a chicken) ,the extreme cold, and his tiny size, he didn't make it. 

I've been working on a children's story with Mr. Collins as the star. Granted, the writing has been off and on as the words came to me, but now, that physical manifestation of that inspiration is no more. 
Farewell, Mr. Collins, you have no idea how much joy you gave people when you strutted up, puffed out your chest, and let out the biggest crow you could muster. You will be missed. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

"My Little Doe" - A Sonnet

My sisters are taking a British literature class, and the recent assignment was to pen a sonnet in the Shakespearean form. With it's strict rhyming scheme and meter, this is no easy task. My sister, Emily, surprised us all with this adorable sonnet written about the little doe that was born back in October. Since she was bottle fed for the first several weeks, Estella thinks that she is one of us. She is our little shadow. Our joy. If we could, we all would spend the entire day out in the barn and pasture with her and then bring her into the house to snuggle with us. She has won the hearts of everyone that she meets with her sweet demeanor and affectionate personality. 

So, it is with great honor that I give you:

My Little Doe

A Shakespearean sonnet by Emily G

Once upon a merry time lived a wee goat;
Her fur was of charcoal with specks of white.
Her diet consisted of grain, hay, and oat,
but raisins and carrots were her true delight.

Her physique was miniature and delicate;
Her temperament was darling and sweet.
Of the goats, this one was the most affectionate.
When her lady left her awhile, then she would bleat. 

She enjoyed bounding on and off her box,
She frolicked with her companions in the field,
With them, she played among the boulders and rocks.
Her joy in life was never concealed.

This tale of mine took place not too long ago,
Estella is she and to me she belongs, my little doe.

Estella and her mom, Genevieve