Friday, July 29, 2011

tractor club cliff hanger

The tractor club kids were temporarily disrailed in their project due to lack of parts; after taking pretty much the entire engine apart, they waited and waited and waited for the new parts to come in.

It has been a race to finish in time for the fair.

They pulled the 4-H project equivalent of a college all-nighter last weekend, working from 10 am to 9 pm on Saturday -- in that awful heat -- to get the engine reassembled. When I got there at 8 pm to pick them up, they were all still working...

And I think still having fun...

And also suffering a bit from the goofiness that affects you when you have been working so many hours in a row.

When we left that night, the tractor still looked like this (which was a slight improvement, as the back tires weren't even on when we got there that morning):

But the entire front end was in a completely different location.

They have worked a few sessions since then, but the question remains: did they get it put back together in time for fair? You'll just have to wait and find out!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

sheep school

County fair is on the horizon, so lambs must be schooled in the ways of walking nicely on the halter so they don't embarrass their showmen in the ring. We had a regular sheep school going on in the backyard last week, before the worst of the heat hit. I'm sure you can guess whose sheep was the best behaved... the boy for whom the gloss of his first-ever lamb has not worn off yet. Hard to see from the distance of the shot, but she is clearly the only one going nicely!

(No, your eyes don't deceive you. There are four boys out there. One of them is a friend of Primo's, who has been in the lend-a-lamb program with our sheep for years now.)

Terzo had no hesitation in pointing out (over and over and over again) the superior behavior of Kanga Jr. He frequently stopped to praise her in a voice designed to be heard by all present.

We'll see if she -- and he -- can keep it up when the pressure is on in the showring. The rest of the lambs... well, let's just say that this should be an interesting year.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

seeing red

Finally, a relief from the green zucchini and yellow squash!

Succulent, small strawberries, an excellent reward for the faithful waterer.

Sun-kissed cherry tomatoes, the first harbinger of the harvest to come.

Monday, July 18, 2011

lamb sundial

We don't need no stinkin' clocks around here. I can tell the time just looking in the backyard.

Early morning:

Late morning:


Early afternoon:

Late afternoon:

Can't do a good representation of evening, but imagine late afternoon, just a bit darker!

Friday, July 15, 2011

a lamb of his own

For the first time this year... Terzo asked for his own lamb. When the older boys started to make their choices for their 4-H projects, he quietly approached me and asked if he could finally have his own, instead of sharing one of his brothers. He had a little help choosing her, but she is all his.

Meet Kanga Junior. She was the ewe from this set of triplets.

"Kanga" because it is "K" year, and we were reading "Winnie the Pooh" and "The House at Pooh Corner" on and off this spring. "Junior" because she is little. According to him, when she grows up, she will be just plain Kanga.

He is in the midst of training a lamb for the first time, and he is doing a pretty darn good job, if a proud mother may say so herself.

He is training her to walk with him....

and turn with him...

and get used to the sound of his voice encouraging her to keep up with him.

And so it begins.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

nearer to thee

As I work in the garden these days, to keep things watered and weeded and generally tended to, one phrase from this poem keeps running through my mind:

"One is nearer God's heart in a garden,
than anywhere else on earth."

He's got it all going on this week out there.


A strong comeback from the cucumber plant decimated by the deer.


Is there anything to rival the fecundity of a well-picked squash plant?

... and simple grace and beauty.

Certain visitors are welcome to enjoy the garden's bounty with me.

The blessings of a garden extend well beyond the dinner plate.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

surefire sign

Today we were displaying the international symbol for "our kids just got back from camp, and now we are dealing with the aftermath":

Nothing like the smell of sleeping bags dried in the sun to dispel the horrendous odors that came home with them.

Saturday, July 9, 2011


Older two boys were at camp this past week, so it was very quiet and tidy and relatively calm around these parts.

The littlest one was heart-broken this year at being left behind. Next year -- his last one before he is finally old enough to go -- will be even worse, I suspect.

The camp looked its usual idyllic self when we arrived this morning, though they had quite a dramatic final night. A powerful wave of thunderstorms swept through the state yesterday afternoon, and they lost power (and therefore water). They enjoyed the ceremonies by lantern light, but they sure were stinky without that last shower.

Now we all need to adjust to the pace of having them back. It may have been quiet, but it was pretty empty as well. It was certainly nice to have a full dinner table again. The little rituals of life that renew your gratefulness for the pace of a family.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

this means war

Early one morning week ago, Secondo came running in great excitement, to show me the pictures he had taken of the visitor to our garden.

He wasn't expecting my reaction: complete and total HORROR. I sicc'ed the dog on it right quick and hoped that was enough to discourage any future visits.

I hoped in vain. One recent morning, I discovered the carnage.

Bean plants leveled.

Cucumber bushes denuded.

Tomato plants topped.

Only the zucchini plants -- and the beans sheltered underneath -- escaped.

It's been one long counterstrike ever since. I haven't resorted to a gun and venison jerky yet, mostly because I am unable to catch that sucker in the act. The dog, my primary weapon (I thought), has been completely and totally useless.

I began to noodle over what was different this year, and I realized that I never put the fleece around the plants as I have in all prior years. I tried a newspaper and old hay mulch combo this year, and though it has been doing a fair job on the weeds, it is obviously useless against deer.

Human hair is reportedly a deer deterrent; could it be that sheep fleece has the same properties? I have been mulching with it like crazy this week, with fingers crossed that it makes some sort of difference before the garden is munched to the ground. I'll report back on the results.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

swap my sweater

It may not seem like I have been doing much knitting lately but actually what I haven't been doing is posting about finished projects. I will have to catch up in one giant finished project post soon.

One of the things that I managed to wrap up was my February Lady Sweater, which I started last May (I am suitably embarrassed):

I was very pleased with my February Lady Sweater. The buttons were just perfect, the lace came out really well, I loved the length of sleeves...

And then I tried it on, and was sorely disappointed. It didn't fit. Even my LSH, a very diplomatic sort of person, agreed that it didn't flatter me at all.


Today was my mom's birthday, and we had a little get-together at our house. Coincidentally, she had just finished a sweater that she had loved knitting, and it sorely disappointed her as well. She brought her sweater along so we could commiserate about sorely disappointing knits, that seem to be going so well until you finish them and put them on your body. Her sweater was a completely different sort of sweater with the same darn problem as mine (hers is so airy and unstructured that it is hard to get a good picture of it):

But she ended up trying on my sweater... and I tried on hers... and through some kind of amazing mystical knitterly alchemy, we both had new sweaters!


It was obviously fate, since the outfits we had on went perfectly with our new sweaters.