Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Goodbye Ginger and Janice

We had the vet come out to put down two goats yesterday.

The first was Ginger. She was Vet2Be's first goat. He bought her when he was 10 with money that he had saved. She was an Alpine x Saanen cross and was one of those goats that you just love. She was sweet and friendly and even a 2 year old could lead her by the collar. A 'wonder goat' if there ever was one.

And besides being so sweet, she gave alot of milk. We milked her through for 3 years. She gave at least 1/2 gallon a day when we were milking her once a day through the winter. Milking twice a day she usually gave more than a gallon.

About 3 years ago she had an allergic reaction on her udder to something. It never went away. Not only did it never go away, some of the sores continued to grow. Then the sores turned necrotic. The vet came out about 2 months ago and surgically removed the necrotic tissue. She was planning on coming back within 6 weeks to remove the rest of the tissue and try some reconstructive surgery. We would never have bred her again, but she was such a sweet goat that we wanted to give her this chance.

But it didn't work. Within a month the mass on her udder was bigger than what the vet removed, and another sore was growing quickly om the other side of her udder.

We did all we could do for 3 years, and it was time to let her go.

Janice was a Saanen. A sweet goat, but not great back feet. We nick-named her "Grandma Goat" because she didn't mind taking care of any of the other kids. She would let kids snack whether they were hers or not.

This spring she had two beautiful kids. But something happened to her hips during delivery and her hips were all 'wonky'. That's the best way to describe it.

She managed okay during the summer, but had a hard time getting up and down. She limped alot. She would sit out in the pasture to graze instead of wandering and grazing. She couldn't get up on her back legs to head butt anyone, either. It's sad when goats can't play.

We haven't had an especially cold winter, but it was still taking it's toll on her. She got very thin. It was time to let her go, too.

I don't have any photos today. They all ended up on a storage/back up hard drive. I'll have to dig it out of the box and post photos later.

Although the day was very sad, both Vet2Be and I cried alot, we were glad that the two people who loved them best were with them when they crossed the 'rainbow bridge'.

We'll miss those two.

They were very special to us.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Preemie Hats Machine Knitting Pattern

These are the hats that Spunky knit for the NICU.

The machine we use is a Silver Reed LK150. It's my most versatile machine and I love it.

The pattern makes a hat that is 10" in circumference and it fit QT's head when he was born 6 weeks early.  Here's a great chart if you want to make a different size preemie hat. Bev's Country Cottage.

Tension 1
Gauge: 5 st/ inch, 9 rows/ inch using fingering weight yarn. We used leftover scraps of baby yarn and sock yarn.

Cast on with scrap and ravel every other needle 52 stitches.
Knit 14 rows, hang hem on empty needles.
Knit 20 rows (you can add a pattern here)
Transfer stitches to every other needle. Put empty needles in non-working postion.
Knit 6 rows
Cut yarn with a 12" tail. Using a double eyelet tool (or chenille needle) remove stitches onto tail. Don't gather yet.
Seam about 2" of the back of the hat, then pull and tighten the hole at the top.
Finish seaming and bury yarns in brim.

We decided to not knot the yarn, every loose end is either woven in or buried in the seam.

Please let me know if you have any trouble with the pattern. I'll do my best to clarify or help.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Machine Knit Preemie Hats

Our little grandson was born 6 weeks early this year. Our daughter, Spunky, and her husband received so much help from neighbors and friends where they lived. Two people took care of the dog, others watched the house, many sent gifts which were delivered to their home by co-workers.

My daughter and her husband stayed in the Ronald McDonald house since the hospital was 3 hours away from their home in rural Maine. They said they will forever be grateful for the Ronald McDonald house and continue to donate to them.

One of the sweetest gifts they received was a hand-knit hat from the NICU. Spunky decided she wanted to give back.... she wanted to learn to crochet or knit so that she could donate some hats back to the NICU.

She learned to crochet all on her own! I was so proud of her!

Earlier this month they were able to move back to our home state. They didn't want to leave Maine, but they wanted to be close to family, both hers and his. We are all so glad to have them here!

On Friday Spunky brought little QT over and she re-learned how to knit on a knitting machine. I made up a pattern and it came very close to matching the size of QT's first hat.

The little hat on the left was the one that QT was given at the NICU. The one on the right is the first one I knit from my pattern.

Spunky knit four more.

Not bad for a beginning knitter!

I'll post the pattern and more photos in a few days.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Canning Turkey Broth

One of the projects I got done today was canning some turkey broth. I pressure cooked all the bones with about 4 onions, 6 cloves of garlic, and 6 carrots yesterday. After straining the bones and chunks out, I put the pot in the fridge overnight.

This morning I skimmed the fat off the top and simmered it for about 2 hours to condense it a little bit.
I pressure canned the pints at 15 psi for 20 minutes.
One didn't seal so it's in the fridge and I'll use it to make some Turkey soup this week.
Canning USA has more information about canning broth.

If we don't finish off the turkey by Sunday, I'll be canning the rest of the turkey, too.

I'm not letting any turkey go to waste this year!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Quilt Back Done

This is the back of Blondie's first quilt. There were some mis-cut pieces and lots of scraps. This is what we came up with so we didn't have to spend $100 on backing material.

You can see the front here.

It's at the quilters.

It should be done before Thanksgiving.

We're pretty excited to see it so close to completed!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Socks for Sandy

One of the blogs I subscribe to started a drive called 'Socks for Sandy'. You can read more about it here.

I'm not bragging, I was only able to buy a few pairs of socks, but I thought if there were more readers who were interested in helping so I wanted to write a post about it and hopefully inspire a few people to send a pair or two.

Only 12 pairs of women's hiking socks. These are my favorite socks, so warm and comfortable!
It isn't many pairs.

But a few pairs is better than none.

And to people who have lost everything, it will be a blessing to have toasty toes while they are staying in a shelter.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Oregon Trail Quilt Back, Done!

The back of my quilt is finally pieced! It is now at the quilter's and will probably be done before Thanksgiving.

I'm happy to have one project so much closer to being completed!

You can see the front of the quilt here.

Yay for less yard work!

Thursday, November 1, 2012


Here's a little conversation I had with Prion before Hurricane Sandy hit. She's on the East Coast on the fringes of the hurricane.

We're so glad she was safe and warm...

And that she got to start her next rotation in a new lab.

Although she appreciated the opportunity she had to work in the first lab, she knew it wasn't a match for the next 5 years of her life.

She has always been over-the-top dedicated in every lab she's worked in. We're very proud of her and all she's accomplished in her life so far

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Food Storage

Food storage for the food storage (goats, sheep, llamas, and cow). This will last us until the grass is growing in the pasture again.

I found out that our local farm store carries Timothy pellets! I thought they only carried alfalfa pellets. I'm so excited for the grass pellets because that is better for the sheep, llamas, and male goats than the grass alfalfa mix in the bales. We'll still feed them the mix, but add the pellets in to reduce the amount of protein they get.

We've got some water stored, too, but probably only 3 days worth. But we'll work on that next week. The hard part is figuring out how to keep it liquid during the winter. If we run into problems, ice won't be as helpful as liquid water.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Apple Grinder Table

Simple, sturdy, ugly grinder table. No more saw horses for me!

It's not quite all the way done. I have to go find some bolts and thumb screws to hold it in place. I wanted it to be semi-portable so the grinder has to come off the table easily and transported separately.

The shelf that the bucket is sitting on isn't attached, either. Since we lend all the equipment out I wanted to let people use taller buckets if that's what they have. I like using the stock bucket because it's wider at the top which means it catches the apple grindings easily. It also pours better than a standard plastic food storage bucket.

I've got to be able to move the press, the grinder, and the table myself. No small feat since the press is solid maple and weighs a ton! But I can move the press with a hand truck, so it's not a big problem.

Wednesday I'm scheduled to make cider for the 3rd grade at the local charter school. They just learned about simple machines, now they get to see some in action!

It will be a fun addition to their Halloween party!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Forging Again!

Saturday Son1 and 2 of his friends came home from university for the weekend to make some knives from railroad spikes.

They had a great time!

Earlier in the week a Comcast representative came by trying to get us to buy something other than internet. He told me that they had 80,000 choices on TV!

I said, "Wow! 80,000 ways to waste time!"

Watching these young men play around with the forge,  hammer, and anvil was better than watching young men sit around playing XBox or whatever the new gaming system is, and better than watching them channel surf and waste time.

Oh, they are normal guys and they do play occasionally, but I love it that they have hobbies other than watching TV and gaming.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Velvet Pumpkin Tutorial

I saw these on Hot Skwash and thought they were great! No way I wanted to pay what they were asking, though.

Here's my knock-off version
After looking at a few blogs and coming up with a few little tricks of my own, I made a bunch. Everyone I've given them to loves them, which always makes me happy.

Now is a great time to find stems at the grocery store or pumpkin patch. They always have some that have fallen off the pumpkins.

These are easy and you don't need a sewing machine to make them.
You do need stretchy velvet, I used Panne, plastic pellet filler (I found mine at Hobby Lobby, but I also saw some at JoAnn's), polyester fiberfill, matching thread, a long needle, craft glue or hot glue.

The sizes listed below are approximate! Your size may be different depending on how full you stuff your pumpkin.

For a 3" pumpkin cut a  6" square of Panne or stretchy velvet.
For a 4" pumpkin, cut a 9 1/2" square
For a 6" pumpkin, cut a 12 1/2" square
For a 7" pumpkin, cut a 16" square

Cut a square of panne or stretchy velvet. (See list above for sizes)

Fold the square into fourths with the right side inside.

Cut the corner off as shown. You can use a bowl if you want, but this works even if you end up cutting an oval (ask me how I know!)

Tie a big knot at the end of a really long thread that is doubled. I used regular all purpose thread because it is stronger. In my tutorial I used brown so you could see the stitches, but normally I use a matching color.

Take large (about 1/4") stitches about 1/4" away from the edge. If your stitches are too small then its very difficult to close the hole in the middle.

Add about 2 tablespoons of plastic pellet filler to the center. I add a little more for larger pumpkins. The plastic pellet filler adds just a bit of weight to the pumpkin so it doesn't tip from the weight of the stem on top. You can use rice or beans, but I always use plastic pellets if I'm giving the pumpkins away. I don't want to attract mice in someone else's home.

I used a little bit less fiberfill than shown in the photo. If you want your pumpkin stiff and full, then add more fiberfill. If you want it squishy and flat, then add a little less.
This is what it looks like with all the fiberfill added.

Pull both the knot end and the needle end tight. Then tie a knot. This is probably the trickiest part which is why you see my farmer hand holding both ends of the thread

Take two stitches across the top in an "X" to close the hole. At this point you can also take a stitch through the bottom of the pumpkin to hold it flatter, rather than having a taller pumpkin.

Bury the threads inside the pumpkin.

This is the type of glue I used. I don't like hot glue, but maybe you are better with your glue gun than I am with mine. Put a dab of glue onto the stem and press it into the top of the pumpkin

Lots of pumpkins!
I think I've made about 24 now. They are easy and I love sharing them. The only hard part is finding stems. So if you have extra stems you aren't planning on using, feel free to send them my way.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Salsa Verde

Salsa Verde
I've got great friends and neighbors! Two friends had more than enough tomatillos this year and shared the rest with me and one of them had a recipe for Salsa Verde.

The last batch of red salsa I made wasn't hot enough for Fly Boy or Son1, so this time I left some of the seeds in .... we'll see what they think now!

This recipe comes from Carol Jean Gibson who is an economist at the Utah State Extension Service.

Yes, I use a steam canner. The FDA says no, but Utah State Extension Service says it's okay with precautions. You can find the info here.

Green Tomato Salsa
5 cups green tomatoes or tomatillos, chopped
1 1/2 cups long green chilies (Anaheims are a good choice), seeded and chopped
1/2 cup jalapenos, seeded and chopped
4 cups onions, chopped
1 cup bottled lemon or lime juice (must be botled to guarantee acidity)
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tablespoon ground cumin (optional)
3 Tablespoons oregano leaves (she substitutes 1/2 cup well pressed fresh chopped cilantro)
1 Tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Mix, then bring to a boil in large pan and simmer 20 minutes (She simmered it for more like an hour and a half).

Before canning she runs it through the blender

Can in pints, 20 minutes with usual precautions.

I followed the directions, but forgot the pepper. It smelled wonderful while it was cooking on the stove!

My friend told me that you can substitute lemon or lime juice for vinegar, which I didn't know. Of course, it makes sense.

Here's how they stack up on the pH scale.
Lime Juice: 2.0-2.35
Lemon Juice: 2.0-2.52
Vinegar: 2.4-3.40

Tomatoes: 4.5

I might try substituting lemon and lime juices for vinegar more often. We like the citrus flavor alot in this house!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Shelf... done!

I'm trying to finish up some projects around here.... just like everyone else that I know of is doing.

I finished Blondie's shelf today. I [pretty much] like the way it turned out. The wood isn't top quality so it didn't finish as smoothly as I would have liked. The dimensions, shape and design are perfect for what she wants it for so that is a plus.

Nope... I don't style stuff like on the fancy blogs. Just a plain picture of the shelf... and only one photo instead of a bazillion from every angle!

I love the back of the shelves. Blondie fell in love with some fabric and it just didn't work with the other fabric in her quilt. However, we loved how it looks on the back of the shelf!

The fabric is taped to some foam core board and then slipped into the back of the shelf. The foam core isn't glued or tacked to the back of the shelf, it just sits there snugly and doesn't move.

The benefit of not having the fabric permanently attached to the board or the board permanently attached to the shelf is that she can change the fabric out later if she wants. And she can use the fabric that is on there someplace else, too.

I used 3 coats of Minwax Polycrylic to protect the paint. I've used 3 different sealer/top coats as I've refinished pieces this year. This is my favorite. Soap and water clean up, it dries fast, and it lays down smooth. I wish the satin finish was a little more satin and a little less glossy, but other than that, I'm really happy with how it turned out.

Next on the list:
2 quilt backs (the tops are done)
a table for Blondie's classroom. I've already found legs and a table top on FreeCycle to cut down and remake, so it feels like I've already started on this one!

And of course there are goats to breed this fall, a new buck to find, a chicken pen to clean, and an animal shelter to fix

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Welder's Cap Tutorial

Vet2Be is welding again. He decided he needed a welding cap. They are kinda soft, backwards ball caps. The bill is worn to protect the back of the neck and they are made out of cotton so they don't burn easily.

They are supposed to be made out of 'unique' fabrics, because welders are very proud of their welding caps!

Taco, Vet2Be's good friend, is a welder, too. His mom, Sheepy, made him a cap and tried to use the pattern I used, but it was very difficult to follow. This tutorial is for her!

Ricochet and Away has a post about a welder's hat. The pattern I used can be found here. The instructions are found here.

All the photos in the following tutorial are mine. I did make two small adjustments so the cap would fit Vet2Be's head better. I'll note them in the tutorial.

You'll need either 1/2 yard of fabric OR two 1/4 yard pieces to make a reversible cap. I used some of Vet2Be's favorites.

You'll also need thread (duh!) and a small piece of flannel or thin batting for the bill. I used flannel because it provides a little bit of weight without too much bulk.

Print the pattern out so that the pattern is the correct size. You can either use your printer's scale function or you can re-size the pattern in a drawing program.

Fabric A: (Clockwise from left) cut one strip for the band that is the same as the head measurement plus 1/2" x 1 1/2" wide. The pattern says 2" wide, but 1 1/2" fit Vet2Be's head much better. Cut four Front/Back pieces, one bill, two Side pieces.

Fabric B: (Clockwise from left) cut one strip for the band that is the same as the head measurement plus 1/2" x 1 1/2" wide. Cut four Front/Back pieces. One bill from Fabric B and one bill from flannel or thin batting. Two Side pieces.

Sewing Directions
Place the bill pieces right sides together with the flannel on the top. Sew around the longer curved edge using a 1/4" seam.
Trim the flannel (or thin batting) close to the seam allowance to reduce bulk.

Turn right side out, press. Trim the raw edges of the bill so that they are even.
Pin around the edge of the bill as shown to keep the fabric from shifting while you are top stitching.

Top stitch close to the finished edge, then add as many top stitching lines as you like. Mine are about 1" apart.
 Step 1
Stitch Fabric A side pieces together, right sides together, along the top (short) seam. Repeat for Fabric B. Press the seam open
 Step 2
Stitch a pair of Fabric A Front/Back sections, right sides together, from the bottom to the dot. Back stitch at the dot. Repeat with the other pair of Fabric A Front/Back sections and both Fabric B Front/Back sections.

Press the seams open. I shouldn't have placed my pieces so close together! The photo really shows four different sections if you look closely.
 Step 3
Place the Fabric A and Fabric B Side pieces wrong sides together and pin or secure so they don't shift while sewing.

Sandwich the Side (one A fabric and one B fabric) pieces (wrong sides together) with two of the Front/Back pieces (right sides together) matching the bottom of the crown and the end of the stitching (dot) with the stitching line on the Side piece. Wrong sides of Front/Back pieces face out, wrong sides of Side pieces face in.
Sew from bottom of crown to dot through all four layers.
 Step 4
Stitch the other side seam in the same manner.

Pull the Side section out from the Front/Back section and the seams should all be hidden. Press to set the seams.
Repeat Step 3 with the other two Front/Back sections.
The seam allowances will be encased in the crown of the cap. I trimmed about 1/4" along the bottom of the crown so that it would be even. It also made the cap fit Vet2Be better. I think his head is a little shorter over the top than the pattern allows for.

Sew the short ends of Fabric A band, and Fabric B band. Press open.

Match the center of the bill with the seam of the band. Sandwich the bill between the two bands, matching the fabrics. Using 1/4" seam, sew the long edge in a complete circle. Pull out the bill and press. Press one of the fabrics under 1/4" along the raw edge. (The pressed line will help when you hand stitch the last seam to the crown.)

Match the seam of the band to the seam where two Front/Back pieces come together. Do not place the bill along one of the Side pieces! The cap won't fit correctly! The Side pieces need to be on the side of the head. Sew one raw edge of the band (not the side with the pressed edge) to the crown. Align the pressed raw edge of the band with the seam, covering the seam on the crown. Hand stitch or top stitch the band in place.

Fabric B on the outside.

Fabric A on the outside.
If there is a step that is unclear, please leave a comment and I'll do my best to clarify it.

Sharing this post at Not Just A Housewife.

Someone used the pattern to make a tutorial for the welder's cap!
Here's the short video

Here's the long video

Monday, September 10, 2012

Molasses for Fertilizer?

This was one of the signs at the demonstration garden that we visited on Saturday.

I'd never heard of using dry molasses as fertilizer. Here are two links I found that have information:

Dirt Doctor

Bob Webster's Gardening

I haven't found any locally.... yet. Here's a link to a place to buy it online. I'm sure the shipping charge will make the cost higher than I'd like to pay so I'll keep looking and asking around here.

Kandy Kid Dried Molasses

If you've used dry molasses for fertilizer, please let me know how you liked it. Especially if you have used it on pasture where you have animals.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Visiting The Gardens

My Aunt and Uncle came to visit for a few days. It was wonderful to see them! She's never been to our home before and I was a little nervous that our house might not be clean enough for guests since I've spent so much time this summer doing things other than taking care of the house and yard this summer.

I spent quite a few days cleaning! It seemed as if every time I turned around there was more sheet rock dust to clean up!

We had a lovely time while they were here. We visited a local garden that was beautiful! Lucky for us the gardens were having a tomato tasting! In our state we don't have wine tasting (we might, but I don't know of any) but we have tomato tasting! Yum!

These are my favorites! I hope to find some seeds and grow some next year.

All the tomatoes are heirloom varieties. Here's the tasting table.

What the tomatoes look like before they are cut up for us to taste.
Here are photos of the gardens.