Monday, September 28, 2009

Wool for Newbies

Here is the washed and carded wool we got back from the carding mill about a month ago. Not bad from 3 sheep. The lady blended our Border Leicester wool and Shetland/Icelandic sheep wool together and kept our black Merino/Corriedale/Southdown sheep wool separate. The black wool is incredibly soft. I have been starting to do some reading, in books and the Internet, to learn about our options for our wool. There are so many techniques and projects I want to try. Felting, spinning, dying, knitting, weaving... Stay tuned for all the future struggles (and hopefully a few successes) in the months ahead. I am positive I am already over my head... :-)

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Water Wheel

All summer Zachary has been plugging away on a water wheel project for my parents. Today we assembled it, after getting the roof done this morning. My parents aren't sure where they are going to permanently install it, but we set it up in their driveway to make sure everything fit well before winter comes.
Zachary and his water feature.
Later on, we stopped by Mystic Springs Ranch. It is an alpaca ranch near my parents' house. This weekend they were hosting an open house to visit the farm and see the animals. Their store was also open and they had fleeces, rovings, yarn, and finished handmade goods made from the alpaca fiber. It was very nice. I got a free sample of yarn. I am looking forward to learning more about the fiber arts. We have 4 rolls of cleaned and carded wool to play with this winter. :-)
(I reckon I should post a picture of those soon)

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Yesterday a few of us cousins from my Grandpa Sorenson's (my dad side) side of the family got together for lunch, catching up, and photo sharing in Winneconne at the Fin 'n Feather. It was nice to see everyone and get re-acquainted. It has been a number of years since the last get together.
Good food, good times.
Afterwards we paid a trip to M. Schettl Sales since we were near. It is quite a collection of "stuff" for sale there. There is normal items like building materials, furniture, and housewares. But there is always some interesting items sprinkled in between too.
Hmm... where can I put that in our house? That would look fantastic next to the couch! :-)


A few days ago Zachary and I both had a day neither of us had to work. We drove up to Door County, to take in the sights and explore some parks. We traveled up the Lake Michigan side, staying on roads that hugged the shoreline. An US Coast Guard base caught our attention in Sturgeon Bay. A long concrete pier lead you near a red lighthouse
The water was so clear, you could see brown trout and other fish swimming along the pier.

While snaking along the coast line, we passed a lot of bicyclers. A lot of them. After a while we realized it was the Door County Century event. You can ride up to 100 miles on the peninsula. That is impressive. My butt is pretty sore after 10 miles.
The first park we took in was Whitefish Dunes State Park. The beach was filled with swimmers and sunbathers, soaking in the last few days of summer.
Zachary and I hit the trails.
Next we meandered to Newport State Park on the peninsula. Newport was quite a bit quieter than Whitefish. Door County is a tourist driven destination, but these state parks allow for the peninsula's natural beauty to shine and be preserved.
Wildflowers on the shoreline.
The sandy shoreline gives way to a rocky face as the coast bends.

Finding a suitable rock that looked free of sunbathing snakes, we had a picnic. Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and bananas.
Mr. Seagull noticed our picnic on the rock. Keeping about 7 feet away, he waited patiently for us to leave to inspect the rock for tasty leftovers.
I think I took about a dozen shots of this Monarch, trying to get a clear shot of it with his wings wide open. Between the breeze and the bees, it didn't happen. But I like the way this one turned out anyway.

A day well spent.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Some Bounty

The peppers and tomatoes are ripening now. Our tomato yield is lower this year. The last few weeks have been dry and the plants got stressed. We have Red Amish Paste and Yellow Cream Sausage tomatoes. Depending on how many tomatoes I end up getting, I'll either make sauce or freeze them. I am reminded again how much flavor tomatoes can have when they are freshly picked. Yum!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Hammering and Smiling

Rocky says hello and would like to know if you have any horse treats to share.
The past couple weeks, Zachary and I have been building chicken coops. Over a month ago, to generate a little extra income, we put up an ad on Craigslist for custom built chicken coops. With in a week, we had 4 orders for coops. Since then, a lot of our free-time has been consumed by these projects. We've built a brown one and a white one, and now we are starting on a green one. Zachary is a talented builder and likes to design and build. My hammering skills are improving with these projects, the bruises are healing on my thumb...

Zachary got his braces off this week! He had them on for about 2.5 years. Maybe now he'll look a little older, maybe pass for 20. :-) He started a new job recently and at first his co-workers thought that he was about a year or two out of high school. They were really confused when they saw his wedding ring and he told them he has been married for 5 years.

Signs of Fall

Fall is arriving in our neck of the woods, with a few trees showing the first blushes of autumn. The days have stayed warm, but the nights are cool.
The pumpkin patch is starting to show it's bounty. Golden orange orbs rising above the slowly wilting vines.

The gourd patch is also full. We haven't much luck with gourds in the past few years, but it looks like we'll have some this year. I think my Mom and I will have some fun craft projects in the future.
Striking red berries for the birds to feast on in the woods.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Cat Meets Flower

After work today, I was in the garden, inspecting. I noticed a sunflower on the ground, face in the dirt. I plucked it and put it in a vase. While snapping some pictures, a tri-colored invader entered my viewfinder.
Queequeg rubbed her face in the bloom and proceeded to chomp on all the leaves. Nothing new ever gets by her.

Wandering Day

Every once and a while, Zachary and I will jump the car and start driving with no destination in mind. After a few miles, we'll break out our trusty Wisconsin atlas and look for areas colored in green. A lot of our favorite excursions have been "planned" like this. Today we found a nice green patch on the map labeled, George W. Mead Wildlife Area. It is a large preserve between Wausau and Stevens Point.
Before we left the car, I asked if the mosquito spray was still in the car. We looked and it wasn't. Oh well we thought, they are probably not that bad...
A few minutes into the woods, we had a cloud of mosquitoes chasing us. We kept asking one another, "Should we turn around?", as we are swatting, speed walking, and trying not to swallow any of the blood suckers. After about 20 minutes in and at our wits end, we came into a clearing. A gentle breeze reached us. The mosquitoes dropped off.
We came upon a large marsh area with levees dividing it into large parcels.
We hiked along the levees, enjoying the sights and sounds. Saw a few snakes, frogs, lots of birds, deer, and squirrels. We saw a couple riding bikes with their dogs on the trails. They were the only other people we saw on our hike. I think we might come back one day with the bikes.
We entered into another wooded area, but the mosquitoes were mild. We made a zig-zag of a loop and we were back on the trail where the mosquitoes were thick and thirsty. Hiking quickly, and then on the last couple hundred feet, jogging, we made it back to the car, sweaty and itchy. We agreed it was worth it, and fun, just the first mile and the last mile was just a bit too "bitey". In all, I think we covered between 8-10 miles. Seeing the upside, at least we didn't have to smell like bug spray...

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Happy Chickens

This afternoon I decided to let the chickens out of their yard. I have been waiting for them to grow bigger and bond as a flock. Their sad little chicken faces got to me while I was feeding them in their yard. When I went to shut the gate behind me, they were all lined up at the door, wanting all that fresh green on the other side of the fence instead of their dry, dusty feed. I gave in. Since then, they have been excitedly scratching in the garden and foraging in the grass. We'll still tuck them away at night in the coop, to keep them safe from night predators.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Garden Update

Our late summer produce is taking shape. The cabbages have heads about the size of softballs.
The green bell peppers are abundant, with 3 to 4 peppers on each plant.
The first of the tomatoes are ripening. Within a week or so, we'll start the preservation process. I noticed they are late this year, judging by the dates of the tomato sauce we canned last year.
The blooms are still going strong. White Coneflower.
Tiger Lily.
A waterlily from our small pond in the yard. I can see why Monet was inspired by waterlilies.