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