Saturday, March 29, 2008

Tate's Afghan & My Seedlings

I just finished up Tate's afghan. I made it similar to the one I made the baby. Tate picked out the camouflage blue yarn and I picked out the light blue and navy to match. I already had the periwinkle frosting yarn and didn't know what I had originally bought it for, so I used it one the edges.

Tate was really pleased with it- he calls it his "pretty blanket." Even my husband liked it and he usually doesn't pay to much attention to such things. I have already started one for Sullivan and had about five rows done before I ripped it back out and started over because the beginning chains were too tight. I have about 6 or 7 rows done on it now.

My seeds have been sprouting like mad! The tomato plants were the first to come up, closely followed by the lavender. My honeylocust seeds are growing like crazy too! They are getting quite a few leaves on them already.

I'll be happy when all the snow is gone in the garden so I can start getting it ready. I don't recall ever having snow still around this late in the year. The barn is full of horse/goat manure to put on the garden, plus my compost barrel is pretty full. I really need to work on getting my herb garden back in shape. I also need to do a lot of work on the raspberries and asparagus. I can't wait for the weather to get nice to I can spend some much-needed time outside.

Around the Farm

I was out taking pictures around the farm the past few days. Above is Helga and her baby, Caliber, who was our first kid of the year, born in January. In the background you can see a group of my chickens roosting on a tire. The goats and chickens all like to lay together in front of the barn in the sunshine, but as soon as they see me, they come running, expecting food, so I never get a picture of it!

You can see behind Kassie and Whisper that there is still some drifted snow that's going to take awhile to melt. The pasture is very bare and muddy- one of my first projects this spring is to fence off more pasture and close this section off to regrow. I have another pasture, but it's small and I need to make it a whole lot bigger before I can let everyone into it.

There's a little bit of melting snow in front of the barn. The ducks will definitely miss the puddles, but no one else will. I only have 4 ducks left, since the dogs killed some of them earlier in the winter before I moved them to the barn. I have been watching the local farm store so I can get some more ducklings. My chickens will be arriving near the end of the month, so I want to get some ducklings around then as well.

This is one of my many mousers, Sheila. He is one of my favorites, but is sort of a big weenie. He used to be very wild, but one time he was gone for a week and came home running, soaking wet and ran right to me. He let me pet him then and ever since that day. In the picture he is eyeballing the farm dogs- he has no trust for them.

I was very excited to see buds on my lilacs. Spring really is here! The scent of lilacs is one of my favorite smells, along with peonies and roses. I have been noticing tons of birds- or "acksuppies" as Tate calls them. I have no idea where he got that!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Swapping: Felt Pins and Yo-Yos

I was very busy all day yesterday finishing up on my felt pins for Grace's (katmom) swap on Mary Jane's farmgirl boards. I had a really good time making them- they're very easy to do. Once I get started, inspiration keeps coming and I don't have enough hands to make everything I want to. I used a lot of yo-yos this time with coordinating buttons and felt. I also made a brown cow like the black and white one I did earlier that everyone liked so much.

It's actually kind of hard to stop making them once you've started! I also finished my series of seasons with a tree. I had done winter and spring last month. I made summer, with apple buttons on the tree and flower buttons around it. I also made autumn, with red, yellow, and orange buttons on the tree and falling from it, symbolizing falling leaves. It was kind of hard to let go of all my beautiful creations, but I know that the other farmgirls will treasure them.

I also started a yo-yo swap with the farmgirls. I have about half of mine done so far, with the other half cut and ready to be stitched. Two of the farmgirls (sissysquilts' are the autumn-colored and levisgrammy's are the blues and purples) have already sent me theirs:

I have been working on a yo-yo quilt for quite some time now. I wanted to host a swap so I can get some different fabrics in it and to share some of my fabrics that I have more than I need. A lot of times when I go to buy fabric, I find myself only looking at pink fabrics and ignoring all the other colors, so it helps to trade yo-yos with people who are obsessed with the color pink!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Little Bit of Flooding

Across the road, the Plum Creek has been high with all the melting snow for the past week or so. The other night I walked outside and could hear rushing water and the cornfield was filling up with water. By morning it had gone down some, but I took a few pictures anyway. It floods quite often- last October it flooded so much that Tate, Annie, and I rowed the flatbottom boat from the barn to the end of our property and back!

This is the first time I have seen our creek flood with snow still on the ground. There used to be three big trees on the bank in this spot of the creek, but the flood last fall took all of them out. Bald eagles used to be in those trees all the time. Now the only big tree around the area is the old Silver Maple in our front yard.

I caught a pair of geese cruising the creek when I had my camera out. We see quite a few of geese in this area, as well as Great Blue Herons, Bald Eagles, and pheasants. I've actually run over pheasant nests a couple times while mowing our acreage, so I took the eggs and put them under a heat lamp. Most of them actually hatched and when they got big enough, I released them.
Down the road about a mile, there is a tree with an eagle's nest in it. The eagles reuse it every year and you can see one in the nest and the other in the tree nearby standing guard. Eventually you can see the hatchlings heads popping up. I can't wait to try to get some good pictures this year with my new camera. There is also another nest about a mile or so in the other direction, but it's a ways back from the road. I'll have to go out walking with my camera and see what wildlife I can find.

Saturday, March 15, 2008


On January 24 of this year, at 9:00 in the morning, a pygmy goat baby was born on my farm. The temperature outside was -19. The twin of this little boy didn't make it, as he was born in the snow, but this tough little guy was born in some hay, which gave him some warmth. The only reason I discovered him right away was because one of my Shelties, Gannon, got out of the backyard and I was running around trying to catch him. Which he thought was a fun game, of course. That's when I noticed the mama goat making a sound that wasn't usual. When I discovered him in the barn, I immediately took him into the house.

Tate was a good helper for me with getting the goat started on bottle feeding. I decided to name him Magnum, keeping with my tradition of naming my baby goats after Dodges. Magnum was scared the first day, but after that, he became used to being a house-goat.

Once he was a week old, he was unable to walk and I noticed his hooves and ears were swolled. I took him to my vet, who said he had frostbite and it would take three weeks for the swelling to go down, plus he would definitely lose his ears, and his back hooves could possibly fall off. He has been healing ever since. His ears did fall off and he is blind in his right eye. His front hooves are fine and his left back hoof just lost some fur, skin, and a little cartilege or something. His back right hoof is still sloughing off dead skin. He will lose more fur and skin, but I can't tell yet if he will lose his whole hoof or not. As long as he has the other 3 hooves, I think he will be okay. He has been getting around well for the past 2 weeks and is now able to run and jump a bit.

He gets along well with the kids and the dogs. He has been trying to headbutt everybody and doesn't understand why nobody does it back. He even headbutts our legs when we walk by him. He knows my voice very well and follows me everywhere I go. He loves sleeping on the dog pillow, especially if there's dogs on it. I'll be happy when he's healed and the weather is nice so he can play outside with the other goats. Though he's not much trouble in the house, I know he will have to move to the barn soon. The dogs may even miss him!

Garage Sale Finds

Dubuque had a garage sale event at the fairgrounds and the Dubuque Humane Society had a garage sale fundraiser at the National Guard Armory today. I found some good stuff, including a huge bag of Mr. Potato heads and a bag of accessories for them for Tate and Sullivan ($18 for all of it). Tate was thrilled! I bought the hanging miniature quilt at the right for 75 cents, the sheep wearing a dress and bloomers for a dollar, and the ceramic pig (for Sullivan's farm-themed bedroom) for a dollar. I spent another 75 cents on the wooden Amish figures and cow.

The Holly Hobbie lunchbox and thermos were marked $25, but the guy said he'd sell them to me for $10, so I bought them. I love Holly Hobbie! It was a pretty good day garage salin'!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Getting Ready for Spring

The weather has been warmer this week and snow is finally melting. I have been thinking about all the things I need to do to get ready for spring. I made an order of chicks through Ideal Poultry. I got some bantam cochins, Delaware pullets, Barred Rock pullets, and some Rhode Island Whites. There is something really excited about getting a peeping box in the mail. I have been moving my chickens and ducks into the barn because the dogs won't stay out of the coop and with the melting snow, it's too sloppy for the chickens. The barn is pretty dry, but there's a nice big puddle in the hog lot, so the ducks should be happy. The last 2 days I have come in from doing chores covered in chicken poop. Underneath the nastiness in the coop is a thick sheet of pure ice and I fell both days. The first time I hurt my knee, but at least I didn't lose the rooster I had under my left arm and I didn't crack the egg I held in my left hand. The second time I just fell on my butt, which didn't hurt at the time, but is a little sore now. I have about 8 more chickens to move today and then they're done. I'm still trying to figure out how to feed the poultry without the goats eating it. So far I'm feeding them at the same time, plus scattering scratch grain around.

I have been planning the garden the last few days. I have a bunch of seeds to get started this week. I have lavender, sweet basil, and rosemary for the herb garden. For tomatoes, I have Roma, Jubilee, Brandywine, Yellow Pear, and a packet of Best of Show Mix. I have sweet banana peppers and a packet of bell peppers in red, yellow, orange, white, purple, and chocolate. I also have some Sugar Baby Watermelon seeds to start.

I can't wait to see flowers blooming! I have peonies, lilacs, roses, tiger lilies, tulips, among others. Tate had me buy him so packets of flower seeds, so he's going to have his own flower garden this year. He's going to have asters, bachelor's buttons, zinnias, dwarf sunflowers, and marigolds. I bought a ton of sunflower seeds so I can plant a very long row of them. I am going to save the seeds for winter feed for the animals. I meant to do this last year, but after having Sullivan, I didn't have much time for gardening. I want to do some freezing and canning this year as well as selling at farmer's markets. I bought some onion sets and russet potatoes to plant, as well as carrots, parsnips, peas, beans, swiss chard, lettuce, and spinach. I can't wait to be eating my own organic produce! I couldn't believe the price of a little bag of lettuce at the store. It's insane! I'll save a lot of money by having my own produce, chickens, and eggs. I still would like to get a pig or two this year and maybe in a couple years get a cow. That would help immensely with the grocery bills!

Another big project on the spring agenda is creating a habitat for birds, bees, and butterflies. I planted trees a couple years ago that came in a songbird package from Iowa's State Forest Nursery. I need to put up some more feeders, as well as a couple birdbaths. I have quite a few flowers and herbs that they would like, but I want to have even more this year. I also need to put up some bird houses, I don't have any yet, so that's going to require some building. Better Homes and Gardens' website ( has a lot of plans and tips for creating wildlife-friendly gardens, so I will be spending a lot of time there.

My grandpa was an avid bird watcher and always had tons of feeders hanging around his deck. I'd like to continue that tradition so my sons learn to appreciate everything nature has to offer. Our dog, Annie, loves butterflies and I've seen her twirl all the way across the road to try and catch one. She never has though.

Earlier in the year I bought Tate and I bug nets and I'm making him a bug cage out of plastic canvas. We are going to have so much fun! I am starting to get very impatient waiting for all this snow to be gone. It's supposed to be in the 40s all week, so I don't think we have long to wait now!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Finished the Afghan

Well, I did it! I finished my first crochet project, the baby afghan. It was originally going to be just the hot colored variegated yarn with the red yarn on the outside, but I thought it needed something more, so I added a yellow and an orange stripe to both side, then went around the entire thing with yellow frosting yarn. I'm happy with the way it turned out. I may have to make a couple for my boys next.

My next crochet project is the Crocheted Head Wrap on page 35 of Mary Jane's Stitching Room by Mary Jane Butters. Anytime I feel the need for some inspiration, I can open this book and there it is. I don't think there's a single project in the whole book that I don't want to try. Here is my progress on the headwrap so far:

My thirteen-month-old son, Sullivan saw me with the camera out to take the picture of my headwrap and made a beeline for me. Both my boys love having their picture taken! So much so that I'm about 2 years behind on scrapbooking. I have a pile of pictures you wouldn't believe!