Archive for the ‘Family’ 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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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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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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SUNDAY. When we went to bed last night, we had Nine rabbits.  When we woke up this morning, we had Eighteen! Overnight, our rabbitry doubled in size! 

So very small!

Although the kits were expected, sort of (I’m not good enough to be able to palpate a rabbit and be sure she’s pregnant), we had not expected NINE! 

New kits look like mice to me!

So far, they are all still with us. If mama doe Cassie gets too stressed out, she may reduce the size of the litter on her own.  We will be keeping a close eye on them, and be ready with supplemental feed if need be.  Keep your fingers and toes crossed!

Now, for something totally foolish, I’m linking in a short movie I took today of Ken using our little farm tractor to move a heavy bale of hay from the big Equipment Barn (which is in the small pasture), through the gate, and into the hay feeder over in the big pasture.  Why am I publishing this silly little movie for all the world to see, you ask?  For most people, this would be a real “yawner.” Let’s be honest — farmers and ranchers do this stuff every day, right?

Well we’re not “most people.”  We’re city folk who, during a period of mid-life crisis (mine, not Ken’s), decided to move to the country and start a fiber farm! My sweet husband who spent 20 years in the Navy, finished college as Valedictorian of his class, go his law degree, passed the Texas bar, and is a Senior Attorney by day, this man who until 6 months ago lived in a nice, big, suburban house with a grill and fast internet, and a beautiful remodeled kitchen, can NOW not only drive a TRACTOR, but can also successfully maneuver the BUCKET!  That’s downright headshaking-in-amazement NEWS to our families who all think we’ve gone ’round the bend anyway!

What woman not be proud to say, “My husband learned how to drive a tractor for me!” (As well as, “My husband gets up at some unheard of hour of the morning when it’s still dark and goes outside and feeds the animals for me!”).  I have the best Husband in the world!

And THAT’s why I’m publishing this silly little movie! Enjoy!

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Today was a mish-mash of farm life and grandmothering.  We still have enough standing water outside to grow rice, so the typical favorite grandgirl activity of roaring around the pasture in the golf cart was out.  No matter; our girls are nothing if not creative! A stationary golf cart and a tarp make a great playhouse!

After getting their fill of tromping around in the mud (at least the sun was shining!), the girls headed to the Bunny Barn which saw its third transformation in as many days.  Wednesday, the bunnies gave up some of their space for my spinning friends, Thursday, it once again housed its rabbits, and today it became a painting studio!  The great thing about having a concrete floor is that spills are rarely an issue!

Skipping ahead to after lunch at Dairy Queen, shopping for groceries, and leftovers for supper, our last grandgirl activity of the day was cookie decorating.  This is a LOT easier now than when my own girls were growing up! 

First, we shortcut the cookies by using slice and bake sugar cookies.  Once they were cool to the touch, the real fun began. 

Icing specifically for cookies comes in squeeze bags nowadays, and it’s the greatest thing since sliced bread!  It is spreadable, but stiff enough to draw designs.  It dries quickly, but not so quickly that you can’t cover it up with sprinkles first.  The girls must have decorated 4 dozen cookies and had a blast doing it!  There aren’t that many left, of course, but that’s okay.  There are plenty left to be our dessert offering at my mother’s house tomorrow when we have our family Christmas gathering!

The day wasn’t entirely fun and games, though.  Both Ge’mar and Ken had noticed that Flower, our red angora doe, was staying in the shed more often than not, and limping when she walked. Goats can be kind of “prissy” in that they don’t like to get their feet wet or muddy.  But when Flower stayed in the second day, it was time for some investigation.

Turns out that, after application of much soapy water to remove the mud, we found she had cut the pad of her hoof.  It is sort of a strange cut, as if she stepped on something sharp that sliced into her foot about 3/8ths of an inch deep and about 1/2 inch wide.  I cleaned it up as best I could and then drenched it in Iodine and wrapped it up.

Tomorrow morning, after I’m sure the Iodine has had a little time to work, I’ll take the bandage off and once again let the wound breathe. I also plan to make an early morning trip to the feed store in Farmersville to acquire an antibiotic, just in case.

In the meantime, however, we put Flower in a make-shift pen in the main barn where she could stay out of the mud and rest in peace.  This took a little doing because the main barn is in the small pasture where the bucklings live!  Blackie, our Nygora buckling, took an immediate interest in Flower when we first brought her over to take a look at her and had to be contained in a pen while we were working on her.  We’re thinking of renaming him Diablo Negro because that better describes his behavior!

After it was all said and done, though, we secured Flower in a temporary pen that was both Blackie and Little Bill proof. Left to rest with plenty of hay, fresh water, and goat feed, she seemed quite content when we last looked in on her.

Honestly! It’s always something, isn’t it!

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This morning when Ge’mar and the grandgirls and I had gotten up and finished the animal feeding chores, we decided we had had quite ENOUGH of the rain and the mud and the muck and the mire and the all ’round grayness of the day here on the farm.  We did the only thing possible to lift our moods:  We went SHOPPING!  Yes, folks, after diligently avoiding the malls for (at least) a year now, today we had no choice. We were leaving the gray of the farm behind for the gaiety, bright lights, and SALE tags that we knewwould quite literally be hanging everywhere at the mall!

Good gravy, what was I thinking!  It was a bleary day when we arrived at the mall and we dashed inside to get out of the rain. By the time we arrived it was lunch time.  Of course we couldn’t all agree on one food venue at the food court, so it was Chick-Fil A  first, then Sonic. Jennee met us in the food court.  Oh yes, did I mention that Ge’mar did all the driving?? That was a wonderful relief for me because he is a wonderful driver and I was busy knitting (only occasionally offering my passenger side driving hints).

The Heart Ritual

From the food court, it was on to Build-A-Bear!  Probably the greatest thing about not celebrating Christmas on Christmas Day is that by the time we get around to our family gathering (usually held on January 1st, my late-father’s birthday), all the other Christmas gatherings have already taken place.  By this time, the little grandgirls have opened all their presents and, since they are 9, 7, and 5, are quite capable of shopping on their own for their “I love you” gifts from ZuZu and Papa Ken.  Even better is that all the after-Christmas sales are taking place pretty much everywhere all across town!

Georgia and Ally were the ones who decided on a visit to Build-A-Bear. This was the first time I had ever been in the place, and I

The Birth Certificate

have to say that I was impressed.  The animals are reasonably priced, and the ritual that accompanies putting the heart inside the bear is absolutely darling! There are adorable clothes that fit EVERY bear (how incredibly practical!).  Add the birth certificate that your child fills out herself, and you’ve got a pretty special stuffed friend!

After the Build-A-Bear store, we were off to the Stride Rite store where we found the bargain of the day — a $50 pair of crushable suede boots for Lizzie (size 3) for only $20!  Score! Then to Game Stop for the Petz game for Lizzie. Finally, to the Van’s store for Ge’mar who, with Jennee’s help, had patiently helped shepherd the girl-tribe through all the kid stores. 
Although the mall was a temporary respite from the mud and drear of the farm, for me it was total sensory overload.  I was all-too-happy to say goodbye to the crowds and noise and come back to a simpler place. We also said goodbye to Ge’mar as we dropped him at his grandmother’s in The Colony.
Only Ally braved the elements to help Papa Ken feed the animals this evening.  Plastic bags protecting her tennis shoes, she tromped out to the barn with him to feed the chickens, goats, and alpacas who were crowded into the shelter waiting on them. 
After Ken coaxed the goats and sheep in the big pasture out to eat, he and Ally were off to the Bunny Barn.
Have I mentioned the BEST part of being a grandmother?

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