Sunday, February 27, 2011

an exercise in frustration

Remember those fresh, clean sheep coats we put on last Saturday?

As of feeding time this morning, they were all just fine...

But when I went out at 2 pm, this horrific sight met my eyes:

The white patch on her side is where she tore a hole
in the LAST coat that she had on.

ARGH! On a good note, baby lambs are definitely in there. I don't know if you can tell from the picture though.

By the time I found a clean coat in her size, repaired the rips in it, changed into chore clothes, and went back outside, she had ripped the neck out of the old one and left it in a forlorn heap in the back of the pasture.

This is Farrah, who had triplets last year. She managed to do the same thing last year, around the same time, and I left her alone because she was so darn big with those lambs that I couldn't find a coat to fit her comfortably. Her fleece was completely ruined by hay chaff in less than a month. I can't afford to sacrifice her fleece this year, because we have had unprecedented demand for our fleeces.

She nearly took me out in the mud -- again -- while I got this one on, but Too Darn Bad, Sister, you are wearing a coat and that's the end of it.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

better late than never

Remember the mitts I was going to make for a special first grade teacher for Christmas? They did get made, but they looked like something Frankenstein would wear, so they were never actually gifted. However, Valentine's Day gave me a second chance! I worked them up quick-like and did actually gift them on V-Day, though my blog post about it got superceded by a very funny card.

They came out looking like so (note the thematic placing of the hands, please):

I also managed to rewrite the pattern to make them a little more finished-looking*; so Mrs. C, this is for you. I think you may have been waiting a few months, sorry about that.

Marta's Fingerless Mitts (new and improved)
1 skein Baby Alpaca Grande (enough for 3 mitts, if that helps you in some way)
set of 10.5 DPNs (6.5 mm)
2 stitch markers
tapestry needle for weaving in ends

inc 1 by lifting bar between stitches and knitting into it
M1R by knitting into the stitch below the previous stitch
M1L by knitting into the stitch below the next stitch
C2F: Slip 2 to cable needle, hold in front; k2; k2 from cable needle
C2B: Slip 2 to cable needle, hold in back; k2; k2 from cable needle

CO 24 st loosely and divide evenly on three needles.

Knit 10 rows in k1 p1 rib.

Left Mitt:
Row 11: k1; inc1; p1; k4; p1; k2; inc 1; k15.
Row 12-15: k2; p1; k4; p1; k18.
Row 16 (cable row): k2; p1; C2F; p1; k18.
Row 17 (start thumb gusset): k2; p1; k4; p1; k10; k5 onto 4th DPN; k1; pm; M1R; k1; M1L; pm; k1.
Row 18 & 20: k2; p1; k4; p1; k to end of row.
Row 19 (and all WS rows until Row 29): knit in pattern until first marker; slip marker; M1R; knit until second marker; M1L; slip marker; k1.
Row 22 (cable row): k2; p1; C2F; p1; knit to second marker; slip marker; k1.
Rows 24 & 26: knit in pattern.

Row 28 (cable row): k2; p1; C2F; p1; knit to second marker; slip marker; k1.
Row 29 (bind off thumb gusset): knit in pattern to first marker; BO 11; k2 (remove markers).
Row 30: knit in pattern until 3 stitches remain in round; k2tog; k1.
Row 31 & 32: knit in pattern (can remove 4th DPN).
Row 33: k1; p2; k2tog; p1; k1; p1; k2tog; p1; (k1 p1) to end of round.
Rows 34-38: (k1 p1) rib
Row 39: BO loosely in pattern.

Right Mitt:
Row 11: k15; inc1; k2; p1; k4; p1; inc 1; k 1.
Row 12-15: k18; p1; k4; p1; k2.
Row 16 (cable row): k18; p1; C2B; p1; k2.
Row 17 (start thumb gusset):  k1; M1R; k1; M1L; pm; k5 onto 4th DPN; k9; p1; k4; p1; k2.
Row 18 & 20: knit until first purl stitch; p1; k4; p1; k2.
Row 19 (and all WS rows until Row 29): k1; M1R; knit until marker; M1L; slip marker; knit until first purl stitch; p1; k4; p1; k2.
Row 22 (cable row): knit until first purl stitch; p1; C2B; p1; k2.
Rows 24 & 26: knit in pattern.
Row 28 (cable row): knit until first purl stitch; p1; C2B; p1; k2.
Row 29 (bind off thumb gusset): k2; BO 11; knit until first purl stitch; p1; k4; p1; k2.
Row 30: k1; k2tog; knit until first purl stitch; p1; k4; p1; k2.
Row 31 & 32: knit in pattern (can remove 4th DPN).
Row 33: (k1 p1) 9 times; k2tog; p1 k1; p1; k2tog; p1.
Rows 34-38: (k1 p1) rib
Row 39: BO loosely in pattern.

* I recognize that, by doing this, I might have people scratching their heads as to why they should take such trouble for a "quick and easy" project, since all my little "improvements" may have elevated these mitts out of that realm but... they bugged me in their original incarnation, and I thought they needed some tweaking. Type A tendencies tend to show up in odd places.

Monday, February 21, 2011

good for what ails your sheep

As I mentioned a few months ago, I have developed an abiding interest in all things nineteenth century. The wonderful advent of Google Books means that I can spend an inordinate amount of time browsing through books and periodicals from that time period, no trip to a library or museum required. What a time suck resource!

Many of the publications contain patterns for and commentary regarding needlecraft. Of course, I can't just be content reading and enjoying them all on my own. I have to create work for myself in the process -- but honestly, it is too good not to share! I started another blog to do just that, called Fancy Work. I figured my five loyal readers over here may not be interested in that particular preoccupation and I don't want to take any chances with their loyalty, so I have seperated it out.

But I can't resist passing on this advice for treatment of sick sheep that I found today in the Wisconsin Farmer's Journal, from December 1, 1862:

Luckily, we have never had sheep behave this way, but now I know how to deal with it should it ever happen. One has to wonder if the cure is worse than whatever ails the poor sheep? Not to mention the fact that I would have to take up tobacco chewing to produce the requisite dose. My mom tells tales of my great-grandfather's spittoon. I suppose it would have been good to have something constructive to do with its contents.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

the big melt

It took a week of warmer weather, but the snow and ice is gone... almost. A few hold out patches here and there, but we could finally get the sheep into the catch chute without risking our necks or theirs.

We were a little overdue for some sheep maintenance but it has been a solid sheet of ice back there, making work conditions completely impossible until the ice melted.

Unfortunately, the mud that replaced the ice didn't exactly make it easy. Wrestling with a 200 pound ewe that does not want her hooves trimmed becomes an exercise in balance and perserverance when your feet and hers are skating all over the place. The fact that I couldn't distinguish between where the mud stopped and the hoof began added an extra element of challenge.

Hermione, Henrietta and Holly:
fresh pedicures, clean coats, new digs

We managed to get hooves trimmed, vaccinations done, coats replaced, and udders checked for signs of pregnancy. Looks like we have five expectant mamas, which is quite exciting. They have another month to go, but we moved them up into their own maternity ward so we can give them extra rations and keep a closer eye on them.

Monday, February 14, 2011

valentine's day

Let me start out by wishing a happy Valentine's Day to all, and emphasize from the start that I don't have anything personal against the holiday. Today's celebration was particularly noteworthy, however.

You see, my dear children spent a bit of time in the card store by themselves last week, while I was stuck in a snafu of a checkout line at the supermarket. When I eventually popped in to pay for their selections, they were quite secretive about their choices and promptly hid them upon returning home.

I remembered that shopping expedition this morning, when their father received this lovely card celebrating the spirit of the season:

The interior goes on from there, to complement him on how wonderful he is, and what a great job he is doing, how appreciative they are, etc. etc. Lovely sentiments, all.

Meanwhile, MY card from the boys looked liked this:

And breezily wished me a happy Valentine's Day from the people that "usually caused me to make that face." Not even a word of apology or remorse, mind you!

I had ample time to think about the irony of this situation today as I washed dirty plates, picked up stinky socks, put away crumpled papers and washed practically every item in their wardrobe. No doubt the look on my face was quite similar. The truth hurts, I suppose.

p.s. Thanks for all the notes of concern and well wishes. It was a rocky weekend but I am finally on the mend!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

so sue me already

It has come to my attention that certain people, not my dad but maybe extremely closely related to my dad, have been complaining about the lack-o-post so far this year.

In a paltry attempt to humor such people, I am putting up this post with a picture of melting snow -- thank the heavens above. Hopefully you will find it lovely and inspiring and all that. I for one am glad to see the back end of it.

Thanks to my generous children, I am now suffering from the creeping crud, so I am taking myself off to bed, with the hope that certain people are satisfied.

Monday, February 7, 2011

one trombone

For your listening "pleasure" (really, for his grandparents that weren't able to attend the recent 6th grade concert):

To get the full effect that we experienced at the concert, you will have to imagine two trombones playing this tune but there were technical difficulties and unfortunately there is no recording.

Technical difficulties has been the buzzword/excuse for non-blogging, and I am sticking to it. In addition to a flooded basement, a kid with the flu, two dead computers, two HS winter track meets and other assorted issues... The following video is just a small representation of what I am dealing with.

NOW I know that the tiny red dot on the camera screen (tiny, I tell you!) indicates when you are recording (or not). No comments, please, peanut gallery. My kids have already had enough of a heyday with this one. It is in the running to be their favorite video of all time.