Wednesday, August 29, 2012

The Days

The days have been hectic around here. I've been traveling around a lot attending classes and coming home and trying to catch up. I got in new hay in large round bales and the alpacas are very happy with me right now. When I am home anyways. I have been a 50% rancher this month and I'm feeling  a bit guilty. But the packies don't mind as long as the hay holds out.

I'm still training my next-generation farm manager. His sessions are going well and now he is telling me how to do things. lol  The girls like him alot, too.

The temperatures have moderated a bit but they are still in the mid 90's and the packies get hot. Some of them, like Vienna pictured here, like to drink out of the hose. Eagan thinks it is so much fun when they do!

One of the summer's big jobs on a farm is scrubbing out the water tanks. It is a job to take seriously and my new manager does. He is all about the work.  I am thankful for the help.

This is a nuno felted silk scarf that I made last week in Ohio with Sachiko Kotaka of Australia. The class was hosted by Marlene's Felting Madness. It was a rockin' class and I learned a bunch of new techniques that I am looking forward to using in my felt work. I love Sachiko's work and working with her. I hope she makes it to the States again and I am fortunate enough to be able to attend one of her workshops. Well, I've still got lots of catching up to do around here!

Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

not into it

I haven't been into my blog lately. As you can tell from the lack of posts. I think its because of that d**@#$
fox. Every time I think about blogging I remember my little hen and the pictures of her that i posted. Then I
think about the loss of my little brown dog, Max. Then I get mad all over again. I think I must be starting to
get past it because I am ready to tell you about it. That must be progress, right? I hope so because I do not
enjoy living with resentment. I don't want it to become part of my nature. That happens too easily and too much in the world. imho. (ok Darrell, that is 'in my humble opinion') So in my quest to rid myself of these
feelings, I am off to embark on a week long get-a-way with my friend, Bonnie, to Ohio to take a rockin'
felting class with Sachiko. If anything will lift my spirits and get me back into the swing of things, it is this class! I have been waiting for 6 months to take it! So, off I go to take an adventure. Me and Bonnie are bound to run at least one tollway and run into at least one karaoke bar.

Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Thursday, August 9, 2012

It Arrived!

Here is my new baby! It is a needle felting machine. I was gone last week to Madison, WI taking felting classes. One of the classes I took was on this wonderful machine. The instructor was Margo Duke, who has two books out on this subject. I enjoyed this class so much! It was Fascinating Fascinators. Let me show you one of the hats I made:

This class was a great shot in the arm. Better than any vitamin B shot I ever got! I am a little over whelmed at where to start. I mean, what project to do first? All I know is, this felting machine will help me be more productive and not wear out my back as much. And for that, I am so grateful!

Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Friday, July 27, 2012

Summertime...and the livin' is ea----

no, no! is HOT! We are in a horrible heat spell. still. We are all drinking out of the hose when we go outside. So far, we are managing the heat. The only way to manage it is with water. On and in the bodies. I have been blessed with a little helper this summer. He is a hard worker and turning into an alpaca whisperer! lol


Drinking out of the hose is one of the fun things about summer. And being a kid in the country.

As you can see, my grandson takes his job very seriously. The girls like him, too. Georgie is doing her happy water dance. 

He has been at the farm enough this summer that the packies know him. And they know he is all business when it comes to spraying them off with the hose. 

Even crabby Canela comes around for him. Alpaca girls are usually particular about who is accepted when caring for them. Canela won't come around my hubby when he has the hose. She is still not sure about him. I've only had her about 6 years. I don't have to worry about anyone coming on my farm when I'm not home and stealing any alpacas! 

In our work day, we took time to stop and smell the roses. or zinnias in this case.

I have been in a blue funk this past week. Last week, I lost a chicken, 3 cats and our little brown dog. All fox related, I believe.
Yeah, a funk.  I've been spending alot of time in the workshop. Not getting alot done, though. Some wool washing, some carding. Some beading. Next week is the Midwest Felting Symposium in Wisconsin and I'm hoping that will lift me back up. I'm taking an Eco-dyeing class with Pam De Groot of Australia. Should be fun! 
I'll be leaving the farm in the capable hands of my farm manager

This is a resisted dyed, embellished pin I made.
It is about 2 inches long. I like those colors

Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Widower Little John

I have been dreading writing this blog for almost a week. Do to the missing Mrs. Little John, I have to rule Mr. Little John a widower. It makes me very sad and it makes me angry. But I will save the angry blog for another time. For now, I have to focus on helping Little John be a single parent. It is not an easy job and he is resisting it. I can't seem to get him to focus on parenthood. I went to to his sisters and each of them were either too busy with their own families or were 'career women' with no maternal instincts. So, I have set up Hotel Brown Box in my workshop to raise the orphan. When Little John was a baby chick, I knew he was a boy and named him Little John. I just knew it. I look at this chick and I don't know if its a boy or girl. I am calling it "baby". In about a month I might be able to discern the sex and at that time I will rename "baby". Until then, it will be Baby. Wish me luck and send me all your positive thoughts.

Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Monday, July 16, 2012

Yikes! There Is A Fox In The Henhouse!

How many times have you heard that saying? lol  Well, we really do. A red fox has been taking up residence at the Fort, next door. Many have seen him. Every day. He is becoming used to humans. I tried to scare him out of our backyard a couple of weeks ago and he just ignored me. He is either very wily or sick. Either way, he has got to go! I know, I know. There are those of you who think he should just be left alone. That to see a red fox in the wild is an awesome sight. A fox is too small to be a threat of any kind to the alpacas. And you are right about that. There are all sorts of rabbits and mice in the prairie grass around my house for him to hunt. And you are right. He probably wouldn't bother our kittens and cats. Although I am missing a couple.... Visitors to the fort getting to see a red fox walking along the stone wall is something they will always remember. A red fox is an animal you don't get to see very often. They are fairly scarce. Even though the hair is standing up on the back of my neck every time I see him, I will leave him be. 

Then yesterday, I walked through the barn and saw Mrs. Little John with her new baby chick. (yeah, chick. she was setting on 1 egg. all through the record breaking heat she sat vigilant)

Then, I rounded the corner of the boys' barn and saw this!!

Yikes! that is a lot of feathers! What happened? 

Wait a minute! I took a closer look at Mrs. Little John:

                                                          Her whole ass end is gone!!

That poor thing! She sacrificed her butt to save her baby! This means that *^#** red fox has to go! He could be out hunting rabbits. But no! He has decided to take the 'easy' way to a meal and go after my chickens. When I look at her, well--I am so mad at that fox. Bye, Bye Fox!

                     Now, let's review. This is what a hen is supposed to look like in the back end:

                                                    and this is what Mrs. Little John looks like:

                                              Thank goodness she is a scrappy little hen! lol

                                                         Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Monarch Of The Garden

I have been asked a lot, "why do you grow that plant?" That plant is bronze fennel. This picture doesn't do it justice. It has been a very hot and extremely dry summer and all the herbs in the garden are showing stress signs. It is a fernlike, lacy plant that has a licorice smell. It has seed heads on it like a dill plant. It resembles a dill plant with a bronze tint to the leaves. It grows more than 4 foot high and in clumps with several others can look like an exotic grass. It reseeds freely and I have them all over the yard. Some people do not like the free form seeding. The same people do not like hollyhocks for the same reason. I enjoy it. I design flowerbeds around them. Or should I say I move my flower beds each year to accommodate them. And I do it each year and each year I have some people ask me why.

And then I get this! Look closely. My fennel has been infiltrated by pests! No wonder it looks sparse and thin. These things are eating it down to the stalks. This is the only plant these things/worms are eating. My beautiful bronze fennel! Take a closer look at these worms:

They are about 2 inches long. But the color! These pictures do not do them justice. The lime green, dark black and the bright yellow. They are beautiful! And they are all over the fennel.

These caterpillars, engorging themselves on the fennel, are Monarchs. They will eat and eat, then spin themselves into cocoons (which they haven't done yet) and emerge as beautiful butterflies. They are the reason I let the fennel free seed. And I let them eat all they want. Soon, I will have a garden full of the most beautiful butterflies you have ever seen! I'll get pictures of them for you. The fennel grows back every year. They do not eat it until it is dead. And the more fennel I have, the more caterpillars I have and then more butterflies. I found out about them about 15 years ago when I tried to grow brussel sprouts. They love brussel sprouts, too. And I have been feeding them ever since.

Elle is still loving the hose. She is getting pretty good at  drinking from the hose. She is a sweetheart!

Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Still Climbing

out of my hurricane hole. The house is getting better (I must admit that I am no Martha Stewart. I only clean my house when company is coming over and my hubby invites people over every couple of weeks so I get some cleaning done). The workshop doesn't look like a cyclone hit it anymore. Just a thunderstorm. But these 100 plus degree days are at 10 of them in a row now. Me and the animals are in heat fatigue and are glad that today is supposed the last one for awhile. And as much as we complain about the weather guys and their predictions, they are usually right and I am counting on their being accurate today! I keep telling myself, "this is the last day!" And this will be the hottest day, 107. I am totally rocking my farmer tan, too. Complete with the stripes across my feet.

Pictured is baby Ellen appreciating the sprayer on the hose.

The sunflowers are reaching for the sky. They must be at least 10ft tall! I grow them for the birds. They come up volunteer in the veggie garden every year and I let them go to seed for the birds. Sometimes, I am very tempted to pick some for a vase for the kitchen table. But I usually don't. To me, sunflowers represent summer.

This is a close-up of the biggest flower head. It is about 15 inches across. You can see the seeds starting to form. The stalk is bent way over because of the weight of the seed head. Even bent over like this, it is still over my head!

Farewell, from the land of toads and kittens!

Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Climb

It seems this week that I have been climbing constantly. Climbing out of the clean-up hole that I am in. Going to Midwest Fiber and Folk Art Fair was so much fun! The color, the inspiration, the atmosphere itself. The feeling was wonderful to be surrounded, for 3 days, by people who knew what you were talking about. My hubby said he thought it was cool when I started talking 'fiber' with the other people. It can be a language all in itself. And they got it. They understood what I had in my booth and they liked it! and liked to talk about it. But then it was over and we had to pack up and come home. It looks like a hurricane blew through my studio. And the kitchen. and the bathroom. I'm still climbing trying to get out from under it all. When the house is a wreck and disorganized, I feel disorganized inside. Not that I'm a clean freak or any Martha Stewart, cause I'm not. But some resemblance to organization and neatness is required. I get a little crabby when its not. So, back to the climb I go. The ultra hot temperatures are not helping either. Its supposed to be 106 degrees today. I spend a good amount of time outside with the animals. Fresh water each day. Hosing them down several times a day. Then back to the climb.

One item I purchased is this cute llama doll. It was made by Envision Unlimited. They are an organization that
works serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities across all ages.
He is the most adorable and colorful little llama. I think I'll name him Curtis. Well, back to unpacking. The Climb. I hope to see you on the other side! lol

Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Monday, June 25, 2012

Trekking' Down The Highway

We are headed home after a wonderful weekend at the Fair. We visited with
Susan McFarland from Susan's Fiber Shop (and she gave me great advice about
my booth layout. Thanks, Susan!). I am exhausted but with a smile on my face.
So much inspiration to be found there! We hope to make it back next year. I
will post more when I get home, I'm anxious to be back.

Talk to you soon! Tammy

Thursday, June 21, 2012

To The Fair, To The Fair

I am off to the Fair with my lovely assistant,
Darrell. Midwest Fiber and Folk Art Fair in
Grayslake, Il. I have been so busy packing that I
Forgot to blog before I left home. At least I
Remembered all my meds this trip. I had an anxiety
Attack at 11:00pm last night because I couldn't
Find my knitting. I had it packed away in some
Tub so I "wouldn't forget it"! Lol We are on the
Road now so...

Talk to you soon, Tammy

Saturday, June 16, 2012

"Poop Scoopin' Boogie"

"Yeah, heel, toe, dosey-do come on baby lets go poop scoopin"

Yeah, my fifteen minutes of fame are over and I'm back to my regular life on the farm. That is my theme song when I go out to do barn chores. "Let's go poop-scoop!"  lol  Cause while I was in the footlights, everyday life continued here and now there are double chores to be done. It is good to know that my eco-friendly pest control system is up and functioning:

                                                            Chickens are the best!

I have been busy on my Supercard. I've been making art batts. I am happy to announce that I have been juried in to the Midwest Fiber and Folk Art Fair next weekend in Grayslake, IL. I will have rovings, art batts, Noro cotton yarns, knitting needles, spinning wheels and anything else I can fit into the trailer in my booth. I will be bringing 'my lovely assistant, Darrell' with me, also. I am very excited about going! I will be leaving the farm in the capable hands of my farm manager.

Little Elle is growing like a weed! She is very inquisitive and energetic, like a cria should be. In this picture, I had my cat, doofie by my side and he has her attention. She loves cats. When she gets close to them, they run away and she jumps in the air. In the evening she will be running circles around everyone and around the pasture. Well, barn chores are calling. "Oh get down, turn around go to town the poop scoop boogie!"

as she line dances away..Talk to you soon, Tammy

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Happy, Happy, Buzz, Buzz

That is what I have been up to this week. Buzzing around happily, trying to catch up on things. I have been very busy the past two weeks rehearsing for a song performance from the Bye, Bye Birdie production I did last fall with Christ Memorial Productions in St. Louis. It was nominated for Best Production Large Ensemble in the Arts For Life Best Performance Awards for 2011. I was also nominated for Best Performance By An Actress In A Comedic Role for my Mae Peterson. At the Awards Ceremony (which is a black tie affair) each nominated show does a number from their show. I was chosen to do my song from  Bye, Bye Birdie! Needless to say, I have been wearing out my friend Greg Mueller by wanting to rehearse. 500 people, most of who are my peers, were to be in the audience. I was immersed in trying to prepare for it. I was also wearing out the patience of my family. My son got a lot of 'huh's?' and  'you want what?' from me. I wasn't ever paying attention to conversations. I was preoccupied. I was in that place that I go to about a week before a production starts. I spend every waking hour thinking about every last detail of my performance. Each day. Everything revolves around me. Its a wonder I have a family at all and that lets me do a musical each year. I don't think I'd be able to tolerate my behavior. I don't mean to do it. I don't even realize until several days after the production ends that I did it again. So, thank you for putting up with me, family!!  I'm very fortunate to have received this on Sunday:

                               Its half inch thick etched glass on a marble base and it has my name on it!!

All the titles on the front cover of the program were productions done in the St. Louis area in 2011.  This award is pretty darn awesome! 

I usually knit to help calm my nerves during a production. This time, I was in my workshop carding fiber into batts for an upcoming Indie festival that I'm going to.

We've got your basic grey cria.

                                    And some art batts for your spinning pleasure.

And finally, a picture of me with two other 'Box Club' members on Sunday at the BPA's. This year, the awards were put back into their boxes after they were presented. (last year, Jesus dropped his and it broke. it was very sad.)

Sam, Jeff and me.

Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Thursday, June 7, 2012

What's Going On?

I have confessed before that I am lacking in computer skills. I didn't notice the past month (yes! a whole month!) that I had been posting in the wrong blog. I feel a little embarrassed. It was brought to my attention this afternoon in the form of a question. "Why hadn't I been blogging the last month?" At least it didn't take me long to figure it out and I reposted the entries into this blog. When I did switch, it looks like I have been very, very productive today and posted 7 times! I will try to stay on track in the future. Sheesh!

                                                            Talk to you soon,  Tammy

Rippin' It At Rendezvous

It was Rendezvous this past weekend. After being transported back in time to the 18th c. all weekend, it has been quite a shock returning to 2012 and trying to upload some pictures of it for this blog. I admit, I'm not all
that adept at computer software. I have been trying for literally an hour to upload these pictures. I don't know if my app is having some problems or if its operator bound. It just didn't want to do it. And I was just about to lose my vigor for blogging when I said to myself that I'd try it one more time...

And it worked! Sometimes you just have to talk nice to your stuff. It does work.

Above is the 42nd Regiment, complete with bagpipes. They are awesome to watch! and hear.

This is the grandson, complete in his frock. Yes, he is a boy. It is a frock. Boys would wear them until they were breeched. That means until they were completely potty trained so you could get to the diaper. After that, they were allowed to wear breeches (knee pants) He has little moccasins on, too. He is eating rock candy that I bought him. Quite a few pictures were taken of him by complete strangers. Under his other arm is a wooden gun he picked out that he drug around all afternoon. By nightfall, he had literally dropped in his tracks. Ahhh! Rendezvous!

I'm still working on my Hitchhiker. I got a little too much sun and messed up my pattern and had to frog back a few rows. Hence, the Rippin' It At Rendezvous! I am trying to stay out of the sun for a few days. It is very difficult but my lobster skin can't take any more. I got quite a lot done on it in two days. Maybe some time this summer it will get done. I'm hopeful.

On Saturday morning, I'm rushing around trying to get to morning colors on time and looked out in the pasture to see a surprise baby! Sara had a large, beautiful baby girl! I knew she was getting close and should have figured she would deliver on my busiest day. She is very healthy and did I mention large? We are playing "Who's Your Daddy?" My guess, is Blizzard because of her size. All the boys were in on that breakout last year. I had started calling them the "Breakout Kings". Well, Levi and Laredo both have small babies. Which is very good for maidens. (first time moms) Blizzard is large boned and so is this baby. She is pronking around the pasture and kicking up her heels! Welcome, baby girl!

I will leave you with a picture of an Indian that you wouldn't want to come across. I couldn't show you a full length shot because he had a lot of flesh showing and I am trying to maintain my PG rating.

                                              Talk to you soon,  Tammy

A Friendly Reminder

Sometimes, when going through life, you have to remind yourself of things. Things that are important to you. Like your kids. Not the fact that they are important to you--of course you know that. But remind yourself how much a part of your life they are. And that they bring some pretty cool times to your life. Like on holidays. My son and his wife hosted a BBQ on Memorial Day. Its a nice time to catch up with his life. They have a great little farm on 6 acres in the country. New this year are the Moon Flowers shown in the picture at left. Those things are huge! They must stand about 4 foot tall and have dinner plate sized white blooms. Awesome to look at. My son laid the rock for that sidewalk and there is a matching patio on the left side of the house. The big stone rocks lining the flower beds were foundation stones from the original barn on the property that burnt down over 50 years ago. I enjoy looking at details like that. I guess my son comes by it naturally.

He has an iron forge on the side of the chicken house. I know it is at least a hundred years old. The guys had it fired up earlier in the day and were cranking out tent stakes for a dining fly for Rendezvous this weekend.

  These are the stakes they made. Yes, it was hot to be working iron. It was about 94 degrees. But the heat works to your advantage with this. There is more time to work the red hot iron before it cools down. The guys had a blast working the forge.

And I had a little hand wanting to show me the rasberry bushes. I have to admit that I only got to eat one. Those little hands are very adept at getting to the ripe berries! I doubt his momma is going to be able to get enough berries at one time to put any up!

I want to show you how we don't mess around in Randolph County when it comes to BBQ's. We get right down to it:

                                                          Now that's a BBQ starter! lol

The family started playing dartball and ended up playing pellet ball. I was kicked back sipping on lemonade, knitting on a Hitchhiker scarf and listening to the good humored ribbing they were giving each other. We enjoyed good food and good company. This is a friendly reminder to take time with your kids. Whether they are 3 or 33. When they are grown they still need the attention of their parents. And I, as a parent, still have a need to look after them. And I have a need to knit, not play dartball much to the amazement of my hubby. Every sport has their spectators and that be me. But that is another blog all in itself.

Enjoy your family. Enjoy your friends. May they be many. Happy knitting.

Talk to you soon,  Tammy


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