Archive for the ‘Around the House’ Category

As part of our 2010 cyber-reorganization, we are moving and consolidating our cyberhomes.  You can get to our website at http://www.fancyfibers.com or just http://fancyfibers.com.

Our Farm Blog is now on that site instead of in a separate place! 

Please continue to follow the news from the farm by going to our newly designed website (on a different hosting service), click on the latest blog post, and SUBSCRIBE!  There is an RSS feed link down at the bottom.  When I figure out how to add other feed readers, I’ll do that, too!

We hope you’ll check it out and watch our new site grow!


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It’s been a great week to be outside. Right now I’m looking at a cow who has wandered over from the pasture next door into the not-yet-being-used part of our land. That’s okay by me. Cows gotta eat, too. Here are a few other things I have seen in the last week.

My Blooming Peach Tree

Big Bertha, Before

Big Bertha, After

Bees Buzzing in the Willows

 If you stand underneath the willow tree in our front yard, it sounds like you are in the middle of a bee colony!

There is one more day of spring break, plus a weekend, and then it’s back to the school house until June. It can’t come soon enough for me! I have fiber in the barn that is calling my name!

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Mandy & Bo

Yesterday afternoon Amanda (DD#1), Bo (her husband), and Lizzie, Ally, & Georgia (The Grandgirls) came out to the farm, their pop-up camper in tow.  We’ve had a great two days with them with the camper set up beside the house and the girls playing rotating beds between the camper and the house.  Part of what makes it so great to have Mandy and family visiting is that Mandy cooks! We’ve had Italian, and Mexican, plus a little American macaroni and hot dogs. To make things easier for her, I even dusted off the stove!

Granny & The Grandgirls

It happened that I needed to be in Dallas on Tuesday mid-day as well, so I brought Granny (my mother) back to the farm with me. And to top it off, Jamie (DD#2) drove up for the afternoon today!

What do we do in the country with everyone here?  Let’s see…. Clean rabbit cages, drive the golf cart, shear a bunny, drive the golf cart, gather eggs (11 today!), drive the golf cart (get the picture about the Grandgirls and the golf cart?). We also did some weaving of mug rugs (each Grandgirl has her own mini loom), some knitting of rope on a Knitting Nancy (again, each Grandgirl has her own), and I taught Lizzie how to spindle spin!  Lizzie is 9 years old. We got a bit of yarn spun and plied on the spindle I bought for her last weekend at the Wildflower Retreat. She’s bored with the white, however, and is ready to dye some roving blue!  More on Lizzie and her spinning in another post.

Bennett fixes the hay feeder

We couldn’t have a family thing going on here without my brother The Welder. His other half was working today, so he drove over to see what projects I had lined up for him (isn’t there always something that needs to be done on a farm?).

Sure enough, he ended up modifying a hay feeder for me, and this is one of my “lessons learned.” Although the hay feeder I bought was great for the alpacas, it held the hay so far off the ground that the goats could get under it. What do you get when you have goats under a hay feeder full of coastal? Hay in your fiber! Not good!

Well the Welder was able to fix that problem for me in short order by reconfiguring the feeder’s legs so that the entire structure is closer to the ground!

Ken watches his Girls

Meanwhile, Ken decided to let the chickens out, and here is where another lesson was learned:  Where something can go out (such as the chickens), something else can come in (such as the goats). 

Although the chickens loved their newly found freedom and grass and bugs, once the goats discovered the gate was open, they were making their way into the barn to eat the chicken feed!  Little Blackie was especially annoying, I’m told, because even though Ken tried to close the metal door from which the chickens make their exit, Little Blackie was able to get one horn, then the other, into the tiniest of spaces. 

Next thing Ken knew, the goats had opened the door!

All in all, I can’t tell you how much fun it’s been to have most of the close family here. Yes, we missed Jamie’s other half (Bryan), and Bennett’s other half (Dawn). This description just scratches the surface of all that went on, and leaves out multiple trips to multiple farm and ranch stores, Ally backing the golf cart into its parking space as if she’d been driving all of her 7 years, a last minute trip to the copy shop and a whirlwind delivery to Dallas, Buddha escaping out the gate temporarily, Bo attending a meeting via computer hookup, and my two daughters breaking into song at the mention of the word “north” (you had to be there). 
This, my friends, is real happiness.

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It was another busy day on the farm today, but the results were worth it.  I cleaned bunny cages. No pictures of that. Just use your imagination!

Daniel and Dalton, both seniors at Farmersville High School, joined us about 11:30. I hired these boys with a few specific tasks in mind. They blew through those, and then did even more! And they said “Yes, ma’am” to me all day. I sure wish I was spoken to so well by the freshmen I teach! I was very impressed with these young men overall, and their work ethic in particular, and I would recommend them to anyone.

They put up my shelves.

They cleaned up a very disorganized stall in the barn, including moving in a new cabinet (donated by The Welder), and securing it so the goats couldn’t knock it over.

They dug a trench to drain off some water, which also involved busting up some concrete that was in the way.

They also made a new door for the young chickens’ coop, and helped me clean out the shed (which included moving 2 pieces of furniture and my stainless steel dye sink)!

The Welder was here, too, doing his roofer impersonation. I still have a roof leak, but it’s moved to another part of the roof. I’m afraid this is one of those times when I should have just replaced the roof in the beginning instead of trying to patch it. Live and learn.

Dudley looked on, nonplussed, and a couple of cows dropped by to see what the activity was all about.

Mom was here, and even she worked, bless her heart.  Between the cats snuggling in them and the dust, my sock yarn was being used and abused. Rack by rack, she got it all organized into plastic bags for me. Stanley still managed to get himself in the basket, but I think he found it was not quite as comfortable as it had been! Do you suppose this might convince them to use the high dollar cat tower I bought them?

Of course, Ken worked with us too, supervising, fetching tools, and keeping everything running smoothly. My heartfelt thanks go out to Ken, my Mom (who thought she was going to get to rest and relax), and particularly to my brother Bennett (The Welder), and the team of Daniel & Dalton who all even worked outside in the rain.

We’re getting there!

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We love, love, love sunny Saturdays on the farm.  The animals wander around the pasture munching on the new green grass (weeds), and the sunshine just calls to us to come outside.  Mother is here for the weekend, and we all made good progress on our various chore lists.

Tomorrow we have strong, able-bodied help coming, so there will be LOTS of good work done.  Our new friend Daniel, a local high school boy, is bringing one of his friends to be  “hired hands” and earn money for their upcoming mission trip in June. I’m excited to have such good (and polite) help, and I’m pleased to be supporting these young men’s mission trip.

Why isn’t Ge’mar here this weekend, you ask? He had to take a trip to Oklahoma with his grandmother to visit a sick relative. We miss having him here with us this weekend, and hope he’ll spend some time with us during his spring break!

The Welder will also be back tomorrow. He will decide whether it’s time for the next step of his roofing project, and he and I are going to have a serious discussion about fencing options.  I would really like to fence in an additional chunk of the acreage we own farther back from our existing fenced area, but the cost may be too much right now.

Back to today, we started early by taking Ken’s car in for an oil change and tire rotation. Then it was off to the vet to get the CD&T vaccine that we will need on Friday for the animals’ annual vaccinations, and some B-Complex Injectable for a goat with a runny nose.

Then there was a $$$ trip to the feed store.

The Barn Cats ladies brought us 3 new cats that really will live outside in the barns (if they ever come out of their little house).

Ken moved the winter alpaca poop from the barn to his newest garden bed.

Mom and I worked on organizing my gigantic pile of receipts into files for the tax guy.

I took some eggs across the street to the neighbors’ house and tried out my new grooming brushes on a few of the goats. They are actually special brushes for the Suri alpacas, and I hope to work on them during spring break. Then, to be honest, my headache and I took a nap! Tomorrow will be my day to pitch in 110%.

Ken put the perfect end on a perfect day by making sure we were all fed well with some vegetable soup and cornbread muffins.

Looking forward to tomorrow!

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For those of you not personally acquainted with us, we have three children (all girls) and four grandchildren (all girls).  Three of those four grandgirls are sisters who live within driving distance.  I refer to them as the Three Sisters.  This weekend, we were fortunate to have them come play with us here at the farm. 

The girls were able to do all of their favorite things!  They drove the golf cart, and drove the golf cart, and drove the golf cart… You get the picture!  Good thing they got that out of the way on Saturday because by Sunday, it was muddy……. again.

They ate their favorite foods, both at our house and at the Dairy Queen!  They went to the Farmersville feed store with Papa Ken, and to Atwoods with me where they got to play with (more) baby rabbits and hold the baby chicks.

Papa Ken and I started putting together the dog kennel (although the rain and the tangled arrangement of the chain link prevented us from finishing it).  This will be handy to keep Buddha and MudBud from going on unauthorized adventures outside the fence when we have workmen coming in and out.  The Welder is going to be starting a fence for me soon to make a place for the alpaca herd that will be increasing in size substantially this summer, and then he’ll be helping me build some new goat shelters.

I had to just shake my head at my poor dirty goats.  I think these animals roll in the dirt just for fun!

The girls and I also had some fun in the Bunny Barn.  It was a bunny free-for-all while I cleaned cages.  First we let all the girls out to run around; then we let all the boys out!

Finally, once it stopped raining on Sunday, we put away 30 bales of hay that we hope will get us through the rest of the winter. There was no prayer of getting Randy’s truck and trailer into the back pasture where our hay storage barn is, so we ended up loading it into our livestock trailer which we have parked in front of the house. Not much use having a building for hay storage when you can’t get to it, an issue we still have to work out!

All in all, I think the girls had a fun weekend in the country.  They took home a dozen fresh eggs they had gathered from the chickens, and a bag of rabbit poo for Ms. Patti’s garden. Mostly, they ran in the fields, tromped in the mud, played with the animals, ate lots of favorite foods, and provided lots of joy for their grandparents!

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Barn Cats ROCK!

Tonight Ken disassembled, stacked, and packed all the cages, carriers, and other gear that had been temporarily loaned to us with the arrival of Stanley and Dudley, our “barn cats” living in the Bunny Barn Workshop.  Tomorrow Peggy of the Barn Cats organization will pick it all up to use the next time someone wants to try out one of her captured, neutered, healthy cats on a “trial run” basis.

Our new additions, Stanley and Dudley, have definitely made themselves at home, and their performance has been great.  Although we love most creatures, there are a few four-legged critters, most notably little gray ones with long tails, that we would prefer live outside. Stanley and Dudley have the responsibility to make sure that rule is followed, on penalty of death!

Still, there are a few “kinks” to work out.  Dudley and I are experiencing a difference of opinion about his sleeping quarters.  He seems to favor one of my bottom baskets of yarn, despite the fact that he has to flatten himself out substantially to get into it! The squished “nest” of sock yarn was a definite clue that he had found himself a cozy spot.

He knows I’m after him for it, too! You can almost hear him say, “You can’t keep me out!”

Dudley is probably right, too, and it will probably be me who will alter my yarn storage system long before I am successful at convincing Dudley to give up his yarn basket!

That’s ok, Dudley boy. Just keep on showing the mice who’s boss!

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