Archive for February, 2012

Reason #198 for Heating with Wood

Go ahead and click on the pic for a closer look.

Coincidentally, (or not) this is also Reason #72 for Why Blogging Sometimes Stretches Daily Chores Out An Extra Half Hour.

Loosely related is this:

the sight of which caused The Mister to ask if I was photographing eggs today. “Nope,” I said.  “They’re on the counter arranged like that because Svejk (the pug) knocked over the pail when it was on the floor, during the mad rush of supper prep, so all I could manage was to carefully pick it up as it was and stash it on the counter out of his reach.  Good question, though,” I said.  “I did just photograph this here log.”

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Seed Starting Anew

I finally made my way to the part of the To Do list that allowed for some digging in the soil.  I meant to do this a couple of weeks ago, thinking I was already late, but realize now, as I count back the weeks from our Last Frost Date (LFD) that I’m right on target, more or less.  Checking back to last year, when at this time I was on the fence about starting seeds at all, I see that the vigorous seedlings I toted to our first Farmer’s Market weren’t even started for another week or more.  It’s not too often that I find myself ahead of the game.

The trusty lunch pail was overhauled in the process.  All of the seeds that you see here are left from last year and should be viable, provided that accidental 24 hour stint in the sun-baked greenhouse during the summer doesn’t shoot my efforts in the foot.

Building off of last year’s great success, I invested in an assortment of soil block makers.  I can’t even begin to say how fantastic the teeny 3/4″ blocks are.  There are over 600 little blocks warming up by the fire in these 3 pans.  Once they germinate, I’ll set them up under my lights and pot them on to a bigger soil block with this handy tool.  That I can start so many things using so much less soil, in a fraction of the space, is a real boon to me.  I used Nancy Bubel’s advice for making my soil mix: 2 parts peat moss, 1 part garden soil (which I regrettably had to buy, not having had the insight to bring some in before it froze) and 1 part compost.  For this, I drained the sludge from the bottom of our worm compost bin, gave the kids an hour of fun picking out the worms inadvertently transferred to the mix, and found it to be a perfect consistency.

Cozy up, little ones.  The sun is coming.

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It is Knitting’s High Season

The needles have been clicking at high speed of late, an indication that I’m fully engaged in a nice, long knitting jag.  If I were to appoint a theme for this winter’s collection on the needles, I’d call it Selfish or Wardrobe-Building.  All three woolens currently on the needles are destined to keep me warm.  To be fair, I did crank out chunky, soft pointed hats for both of the kids not too long ago.  The Mister is not in need of anything in particular, so he’s not suffering knitted neglect.  But I’m in dire need.  I have no over-the-knee knit stockings in my drawer, yet.  (But I will soon, despite any (motivating) doubts a certain someone has.  You know who you are.)

I’ve found an indispensable staple of Around-the-House-Wear to be a thrifted sweater vest.  It’s 100% acrylic.  Imagine my embarrassment and shame if word got out to the sheep.  It would be like coming home to a delicious home-cooked meal and declaring “no thanks – I picked up McDonald’s.”  Yes, I’m equating acrylic yarn to fast food.  To avoid this potential faux pas, I’ve been working diligently to purge the house of all acrylics.  That staple-of-home-attire vest will get the boot just as soon as this vest (above) transitions from my needles to my core. (and not a moment too soon)

And this capelet, resplendent in yarn that is the very essence of Valentines, will be the perfect adornment and practical necessity for a sleeveless, lightweight wool dress patiently waiting to be sewn together.  Perhaps I can even get away with wearing the stockings (top) without looking like a fool.  Such an ensemble would be appropriate for a birthday celebration, wouldn’t you say?  My own is just around the corner.  (Let’s face it – nothing gets knitted around here without a deadline, loose as it may be. )


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Not Kleenex Boxes

We’ve officially made the leap from kleenex to luxurious flannel wipes.  It’s been a gradual transition, one that has at times been impeded by a lack of pockets.  If you can’t carry a hankie around with you all day, then they’d better be at arm’s reach, I realized early on.  Eight little baskets insure that they are.  Super-special fabric for the kids’ room baskets swiftly secured their buy-in. (hot tip!)

Speaking of not-disposable-paper-products, I almost cheated on my husband with this guy.  Swoon.


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Woolen Spider

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The Vicarious Farmer: Winter Water

Welcome back to The Vicarious Farmer.  It’s a bite-size serving of farmdom, featuring a fresh photo from the Acres and a pocket full of words to ruminate on.

The Vicarious Farmer is you.  Imagine yourself perched on my shoulder for a snapshot of the day-to-day goings-on of this little farmette –  the idyllic and the banal.

Getting the water from (unfrozen) pipes to the mouths of the livestock is a significantly more involved process in the winter.  Each year the method is modified to suit the volume of water to transport; in previous years, the hauling of 5-gallon pails from the first floor bathroom sloshed water all over the kitchen floor on its way out of the house.  This year, the thirstiness of the livestock has grown well beyond the capacity of a few pails.  Our solution:  a garden hose connected to that bathroom faucet, running through the kitchen, out the back door to the plastic storage totes lining a utility cart. The totes, the likes of which store your Christmas decorations, are filled, covered, and pulled down the mercifully-downhill path to the coop and winter pasture. It’s inelegant, not at all befitting a legitimate farmer, akin to transporting livestock in a minivan. (Ahem.) This summer we hope to upgrade our status from Cracker-Jack to Self-Respecting by installing some hydrants near the coop and the gardens.  (and there’s plans for a bonafide livestock trailer, too)

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Sundays are made of wood.

The last two Sundays have found us happily engaged in the task of making wood.  Bundled up in our most sturdy, warm clothes, we take to the frosty (or disappointingly not-so) air and set about moving wood.  There’s sawing and splitting, of course, but the bulk of the task involves moving it – from this pile to that, from stack to house.  There’s work for all of us here, work we do together as a family for approximately 4.5  minutes until Isadora runs off to the hay pile to stash her treasures like a crow.  Errol seems to be more of a steadfast worker, heaving the heavy-for-him pieces over the edge of the tailgate, then hollering with all his might a triumphant “I DID IT!”  Was there a Super Bowl this past Sunday?  We hadn’t noticed.  It was good stuff, this work.  Knowing that I’ve already waxed on and on about the sublime wonder of good honest work like this, I’ll just say that all of that still holds true.  The fact that Isadora’s most intensely desired gift from Santa this past year was “work bibs like my brother, mom, and dad” is the icing on the cake.  She got those bibs, of course, and the forecast for wearing them regularly looks mighty good.

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Rumple Recap

When I set out to challenge myself to not buy any new fabric for a few pennies shy of a full year, it seemed BOLD and DRASTIC and DELICIOUSLY RESTRAINING and possibly IMPOSSIBLE.  A year seems such an unimaginably-large chunk of time, too big to wrap my arms (and hence my brain) around.  But, oh, if I could do it, wouldn’t the results be BOLD and DRASTIC and DELICIOUS?

Well.  Turns out a year is but a blink of the eye.  Turns out that what I was really after, with regards to the management of my studio materials and the output of said space, was the giant reconsider-every-last-bit-in-here purge that I have more recently completed.  But it is important to point out that the groundwork laid by the Challenge set the stage for a monumentally successful purge:  if I didn’t make x in the past year, when my attention was focused more keenly on what was in front of me, well, then it likely wasn’t ever going to be made by me, so why not give someone else a crack at it?

And now, as I peruse the archives for those things that I cranked out of the stash-at-hand, I’m immensely underwhelmed by the volume.  I actually didn’t make all that much.  Out of fabric.  But my garden exploded, as did my flock of sheep, their bounty of wool needing processing, and a myriad of other sewing distractions.  It’s clear that the bandwidth allotted to sewing has shrunk consistently as new, exciting ventures are added to the mix.  It is as it should be, I’m satisfied, and now my studio reflects this.  The fabric cubes have been tamed to a manageable size, making room for the introduction of wool into the studio.  There’s a lot of spinning to be done, folks.  Of wool into yarn, not straw into gold.  So with this, I hereby conclude the Rumpelstiltskin Challenge officially, though the basic tenets will stick with me indefinitely.  Use what you have.  Limit your possibilities so that you can stretch your designs further.

But enough about me.  What about you?  There is a wealth of lovely projects captured in the flickr pool.  How did the Challenge fare for you?


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The Studio is complete.

And it is glorious.

It was a major undertaking, one that required a long, contemplative absence from this space.  I’m sorry to have kept you hanging, but it had to be done.

It was a clearing out. An upheaval of the status quo. A reimagining of the function of the space.  A letting go of so, so much –  ideas long expired, remnants from former lives, baggage. I feel so free, so unencumbered.

The world is my oyster, and it is the most beautiful world I could muster within the confines of this space.  I tried to paint heavily with the brush of restraint, to avoid putting in too much, to leave room for contemplation.

There’s room now for a few precious things that stand on the merits of their beauty alone.

Other elements meld the virtues of function and beauty.  To be sure: Roy G. Biv was here.

This particular nook makes me feel like a small genius.  A comfy chair!  To sit and ponder in.  To glean a different perspective from.  To simply be in.

The fabric cubes: my single greatest achievement.  Before the Great Upheaval, their confines were spilling out all over everything.  They couldn’t even begin to contain my collection of fabric.  They were infested with the accoutrements of mice.  I estimate that I purged the equivalent of a small bus;  bags and bags and bags of thrift-bound castoffs, so many I lost count.  I put a sturdy backing on the cubes, to require mice to enter from the much-more-exposed front side.  I have begun a rigorous trapping program, sponsored by peanut butter.  So far the body count is at four, a pittance.

And I found a fantastic use for two years of past Nikki McClure calendars.  That they are so beautiful makes me want to keep them visible by not filling those cubes to the brim.  Genius.

I feel like a blank slate, made fresh and clean and ripe-near-to-bursting with possibilities.  It is a good place to be.

For tomorrow:  the long-awaited recap of the Rumpelstiltskin Challenge.  See you then!


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