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05 May 2016

News from the Farm, and a Smaug Update

Blowing out the candles in the darkened kitchen.
After a very busy weekend, and a busy beginning to the week, I've gone through all the photos I've taken to share with you what's happening down here on the farm.  Saturday, of course, was devoted to the Indiana Fiber & Music Festival, which I reviewed here earlier this week.  Sunday was the grandson's birthday party, and I had to laugh -- we had a severe thunderstorm, which threatened to blow away the canopy (I think my friends in the UK call it a marquee) set up over the back patio to provide shade.  Son-in-law #1, with the help of friends and family, valiantly weathered the storm to save the canopy ... then, husband remembered he'd left our auto windows partially open .... and son-in-law #2 remembered that he'd left his sunroof open .... so by storm's end, we had several rather damp men drying off in the kitchen! The reason I laugh about this is because it seems that, more years than not, we've had severe thunderstorms or tornado alerts on the day of the grandboy's birthday party.

On the way home, however, the weather cleared up, giving us the glorious blue sky and white, fluffy clouds that are often seen after a storm has passed.  I made the spouse pull over along the road, so I could photograph the sky and clouds.  Once home, I saw the same cloud formation over the neighbor's barn, across the road -- so of course, I had to take a few more snaps. Looking from my porch, across the road to that barn, is one of my favorite views.

Here on the farm, there's a lot of growing going on!  The trees are in full leaf, the locust trees are blooming, there's new leaves and buds on the rosebush, and I saw my first violet!  I love violets.  They are one of my most favorite flowers.  We also have plenty of dandelions, which we leave for the bees.  Dandelions are a major source of nutrition for American honeybees, and we like to encourage their prosperity.

     New leaves ...                                                                     ... and buds on the rosebush!

The birds are very active right now, too.  Remember this fine fellow?  He keeps popping up to be photographed!  I swear that bird is a camera hog!  By the way, I discovered his name, thanks to the kind folks at our Department of Fish & Wildlife.  He's an American Tree Sparrow (and a fine example of one, says the orinthologist).  I think he must be pretty clever, because he always comes around when I go out on the porch with the camera.  The cardinals, blue jays, and the woodpecker (very large!) that visit the porch and the feeder continue to elude my lens.  I never thought I would be considering putting up a "bird blind" so I can photograph them unseen; does that make me an "extreme" twitcher?  Perhaps that can be the next new "reality" show .... Who will best use their 600mm zoom lens and camouflage netting to win $100,000 and the title of "Top Twitcher"?  Don't miss the exciting finale! :D

The suet cage has been very popular this spring with several of the smaller birds, including Mr. Chickadee and Mr. Nuthatch.  It's empty now, and will remain so until autumn -- as will the bird feeder, once its current stash is consumed.  I don't want my little bird friends to lose their instinct to hunt for themselves in the summertime.  I think Mr. and Mrs. Nuthatch have built a nest in a cranny of one of the porch posts.  However, since the other side of that duplex is occupied by a gang of wasps, I'm not going to venture too close to inspect.

All of the dogs are doing well, and are enjoying the fun to be had outdoors during spring ....

L-R:  Winston, Lola, Lucy.
...but Steve, the outdoor cat, has tangled with a snake.  He came limping into the yard at the end of last week with an ugly wound on one of his front paws.  We brought him into the house, something we only do during very cold weather.  I should mention here that Steve is one of the neighborhood strays.  We found him shivering in the rafters of our porch during one cold spell a few years ago, and started feeding him.  Now he shows up about once a day, or once every two days, to lounge under the lilac and wait to be fed.  He really does not like being indoors at all, and shows his displeasure by marking everything with his unmistakable tomcat scent.  Well, Steve has been living upstairs now for almost a week, and thanks to husband's careful doctoring, the wound is healed.  However, he's still lame, and favoring that front paw.  We've decided to keep him indoors until it's fully healed.  A lame cat, in this neighborhood, is coyote bait.  I saw a mouse upstairs not long ago, so maybe Steve will perform some de-mousing services in exchange for his hospital care. ;)

An update on Smaug: as I noted on Facebook last week, I underestimated the amount of yarn I would need.  This is easily the largest African Flower project I've undertaken, and 100g of Cascade Heritage Sock Yarn in "Christmas Red" was simply not enough.  I've finished all of the pentagons, both multi and solid; all of the multi hexagons; and all but four of the solid hexagons.  The remaining nubbin of yarn is about the size of my thumb, insufficient to make a full hexie.  Sooooo I'm waiting for Verlinda, the mail lady, to bring me my latest yarn order from Loveknitting.  It should be here tomorrow or Saturday, at which time I'll be back in African Flower territory, hard at work on Smaug.  I am so pleased with Cascade Heritage; it is easy to work with, the colors are lush, and it is a very soft superwash yarn. Since I'm more comfortable with sewing the motifs together -- I shy away from "join as you go" -- I'm making all the motifs up front.  Thanks to friend Carrie for suggesting the sandwich bag organization!  Works like a charm!

And that's all the news from the farm!  Once Smaug is finished, I'll start working on knitting and crocheting for Grandbaby #7, so "baby" will be the theme of my summer projects.  Do you have any favorite baby projects?  As always, leave me your questions or comments -- and if you know anyone who would like to visit with us and talk about string, birds, dogs, cats, plants, babies, etc., feel free to send them a link to this blog.  Thanks for stopping by!!

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