Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Colors of August!

Wow! August is almost past tense!

I have put together some of my favorite August scenes from our garden.

The Rose of Sharon bush/tree right outside our back door is heavy with bumble bees this time of the year - luckily they are more interested in the blossoms than they are in me.

One thing about August is that you can always tell where our drainfield is...

The corn du Jour is Mirai - a Japanese hybrid - it is better than dessert! (and it doesn't even need any butter - and coming from the "butter girl" that is saying a LOT!)

Dahlias are my very favorite flower (unless you count Zinnias, and Asters, and - oh well, maybe all flowers are my favorites...)

Dahlias come in so many different colors and styles - These are "Bishop's Children" that The Shepherd grows from seed.

I barely caught these pretty little daisies before The Shepherd (aka the "yard guy") mowed the pasture....

Pink Lupine, also grown from seed - there are purple ones and red and white ones so far - and half of the plants haven't bloomed yet! .

These California poppies have become one of our favorites this summer - there are as many colors as there are plants and he planted a bunch of them. Hopefully, next year they will come up from seed (and still be such pretty colors.

The garden has been so stressed from the heat, but these petunias on the front porch don't seem to have minded it too much.

These cone flowers just look so happy in the bright sunlight -

while this fern looks cool and collected in the dappled sunlight by our front door - this summer has been just a little slice of paradise...

Now for more visions of August from all around the world go visit Sue at Life Looms Large. Thanks again, Sue for letting us all find the beauty that is around us to share it with all of you.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

And then a week later

Spinning wheel - check
Chair - check
Story board (How wool goes from Sheep t0 Sweater) - check
Wool to spin - 100% Shetland roving - check

!/2 day off from work for me and the Shepherd - check

Off to the NW Washington Fair we went and, as days go - the weather was great - none of the 90 degree heat we'd had the week before, thank heavens -

These two ladies were having a great time - and were surprised when I said it was 2:00 and they could go check out the rest of the fair - spinning does have a way of whiling away the hours -

My friend and "spinning mentor" Yvonne took the next shift after mine - she came a little early, not sure of traffic or parking - besides being the 100 year anniversary week for the fair, it was Kenny Rogers night , so it was bound to get crowded.

There were many lovely items in the wool show - I didn't enter anything this year - just didn't get "a round tuit" -

And, of course - the obligatory cow -

One aside note - the "Dairy Women" have a booth selling "Moo-wiches" - an ice cream sandwich between two giant chocolate chip cookies - they have been the hit of the fair for many, many years - The first night of the fair, someone forgot to fill the generator for the freezer truck - 5000 melted Moo-wiches - Oops...

But, not to fear - cookies were rebaked and more ice cream was brought in - there were Moo-wiches to satisfy all fair goers - tragedy was averted.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Off to the Skagit County Fair we went....

The County directly to the south of us is called Skagit (soft "a" and the "g" is is pronounced like a "j") - The past week was their county fair - we went two years ago, but did not get our entry in soon enough to go last year. This year, all the Shetland breeders who were going sent their paperwork in as soon as the enrollment opened to ensure that we could have a "mini" Shetland Show -

There were four farms who participated -

Krissie and Robin were our sheepy representatives - Ruby would not take part in any of the pre-fair lessons, so she didn't get to (have to?) go.

Mt. Vernon, where the fair is held, is only about 30 miles from our place -

Joyce came from Thistledown Shetlands - She had the longest trip - over 300 miles - to get here.

She had some very handsome little boys - I just loved the one with the "cumber-bun"

Lynn came from Soap Lake - probably close to 250 miles -

She had recently had foot surgery, but she always had a smile on her face.

Sally came from Granite Falls - about 45 miles SE of Mt. Vernon.

We all wondered if she had Max on Prosac. He was the mellowest, sweetest ram I've ever seen.

She also brought these two cuties...

Our friend Denise was nice enough to come help with the showing - she got to lead Robin while The Shepherd got the wiley Krissie.

Did I mention that it was hot - it was about 90 degrees at the "top of the afternoon" - in fact we have broken heat records for the past three days now.

The Shepherd also helped Joyce show her boys. (it looks like I need to sit down and figure out what's going on with my camera - a lot of my pictures were terribly overexposed)

The judge is the owner of Dawn's Custom Carding in Roy. She was fast, and definitely knew the type of fiber that she preferred...

I had to work on Friday, but Saturday I took my spinning wheel. This is where we sat to spin a couple of years ago. so this is where The Shepherd put my chair and wheel when he brought it in - but you see the square light spot at the verrrryyy end of this walkway? That is where the Shetland stalls were... So I packed up shop and moved down with "my people" --- it was much better.

Joyce didn't have a spare spot for her wheel, so she brought the lovely shawl that she is knitting. Lynn brought her wheel and all kinds of "show and tell" stuff - I brought the wool that I'm spinning for one of the baby sweaters that I'm making for my boss's new twin daughters.

As always, we attracted lots of people - prospective spinners and men, fascinated with the workings of the wheel - Since Lynn teaches fiber classes at her work, I let her do a lot of the talking, but I did a lot of explaining about why my wool was colored and how it got that way.

This yarn will be for Annie's sweater - I will ply it with the other bobbin straight out, not Navajo ply, because I want the sweater to have lots of color to it.

The wool for the other sweater is lavender, pinks and blues - it, of course will be for their other daughter, Violet.

And, speaking of Violets - last but not least, OUR Violet's fleece got the blue ribbon and rosette for the Shetland fleeces - (Outstanding in a class of one - )

As I mentioned earlier the judge is the owner of a fiber mill, and was clear that she was partial to "uniform length" fleeces (Appendix A anyone...)
However, I know quite a few hand spinners who would LOVE to get their mitts on this fleece - so, what ever, we got the blue, and we'll take 'em however we can get 'em.

The fair went really smoothly this year - they had changed some policies to let us go an hour before the actual closing time, to alleviate some of the congestion in the animal areas. We had a scary thing happen with the trailer just before we got on the freeway, but everyone (humans and sheep) was safe - although it might have knocked a few years off our life expectancies...we got home safe and sound.

This next Wednesday, I'm the spinning demo person for the NW Washington Fair in Lynden - I did it last year and it is quite fun. I need to get my new "story board" (How wool goes from Sheep to Sweater") put together. And the good news is that it's only supposed to be about 70 degrees instead of 90! Whoopee!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

View from the front porch

Oh, I hope you can stand a few more pictures of the lovely flowers in The Shepherd's garden.

A couple of months ago, our closet exploded. Well what really happened was the clothes got to heavy on the rods and the support brackets pulled out of the walls - so, I've had no choice but to go through my clothes and this weekend, I took two big boxes and a large garbage can size sack of dresses and blouses that I no longer wear into the local woman care shelter garage sale. I have a couple of sacks of books to take in too.

I know this sounds silly, but it was really hard for me to part with those clothes - some I know that I haven't worn for at least 10 years or so - but I had to bite the bullet and do something, because there was no more room in the closet.

Actually, I'm kind of a pack rat, so it's hard for me to get rid of anything. I know this is driving the neat- nick in the family batty, I'm trying, I really am.

Hope you're having a good week!

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Looking Back Sunday

Looking back to this week in August 2006 has lots of pictures of beautiful sunflowers in The Shepherd's garden.

The goldfinches loved his sunflower garden - and boy would they scold him when he was out and about cutting stems to sell to local florists.

We made this sign two years ago when we were at the Skagit fair. We will use it again this coming week - got a lot of halter training to do between now and next Friday...

Have you ever seen purple cauliflower? It was very tasty - but this year his purple cauliflower is still very tiny - I did however put 12 quarts of broccoli in the freezer last week (sans pill bugs and slugs, I hope)

We had broccoli/ham quiche (broccoli from the garden) for dinner, with side dishs of green beans AND sweet corn (from the garden). He also brought in the BIG YELLOW Tupperware bowl full of purple pole beans tonight but I was too tired after dinner to do them, so I stuck them in the fridge and I'll do them tomorrow night -

I was reading the cook book "The Perfect Recipe" the other day and the author talked about steaming fresh corn on the cob. A concept which had never occurred to me, but I always get frustrated boiling corn on the cob because it always seems like there is a part of the ear that is out of the water - and when you steam it, ta da, the whole ear gets cooked at the same time - I tried it tonight, it was delish and I will probably never go back to the other way.

Hope you are all having a good summer.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Tomato Soup?

Yup, that's the name of this lovely Echinacea - He picked it up at the feed store the other day.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

The Shepherd's Garden

Here is The Shepherd - "Outstanding in his field" as the old saying goes...

See all of that lovely corn right behind him - It was just about ready to harvest - one of those white and yellow sweet corns that is supposed to be super yummy....

Well - the raccoons got in there last night and had a little party - ate 15 ears, the little buggers!

This is the first time in many years that we haven't had rows of tall sunflowers - this sweet little bouquet is all on one plant and it is less than two feet tall.

Last year, his big crop was purple cauliflower - this year it is going to be broccoli - I will probably spend tomorrow night blanching and freezing broccoli - it will be nice to have next winter.

My only problem with broccoli is cutworms and slugs - but at least they tend to float to the top when you blanch it... yuck...

And one little bitty cantaloupe

And lots of yellow beets - which should have been thinned a couple of weeks ago - but, his new business has taken off and he is busy every day - we need someone to come in and mow OUR lawn so he doesn't have to do it when he comes home from mowing everyone else's