We spent much of this week just trying to keep ourselves and all the animals warm. Our temperatures ranged from -20F to about 12F for most of the week, warming into the 20s at the end of the week, but then dropping again. We had snow off and on all week as well.
We were able to collect, split, and stack another load of firewood Monday morning before the storms hit. The house has been cozy warm with the fires going almost continually. In between trips to the barn to care for the livestock, we enjoyed sitting by the fire, drinking hot beverages, eating snow ice-cream, knitting, rug braiding, reading aloud as a family, and playing board games – all the while with grandma dog, Holly, and puppy, Finley, wrestling and playing at our feet. It was very pleasant.
The sheep are gone to the breeder, so the farm dog is sleeping alone in their stall. We gave him a huge pile of straw and he has been bedding down into it with the barn cat Jerry to keep warm. They look so very cute cuddled together in their straw “nest” that I wish I could share a picture with you. Unfortunately, Jerry jumps out of the nest as soon as he thinks we are looking his way…he must not want to be caught cuddling with a dog. 🙂
The two new barn kittens were also given straw and they have made a cozy cuddle nest for themselves and well. Each morning and evening we bring warm water up for the dog and cats to drink and check them to be sure they are staying warm enough. One night, when it was -18 outside, and 0 in the barn, and Jerry had headed up to nestle in the hay in the loft, we brought the farm dog indoors, the cats were all doing fine, but he seemed to be struggling a bit to stay warm without the sheep there, and with Jerry not cuddling with him.
We have been hot-mashing the chickens morning and evening, and on the coldest days (where our high for the day was zero F) we didn’t even let them out of the coop. We have the heat lamps going for them as well, on thermostats, keeping the coops’ indoor temperatures right around 30-35 degrees F when it is very cold out, and closer to 40-45 F when it is a tad warmer outside.
Because of the cold weather and thus the hunkering down indoors, we have made some good progress on Christmas present making and processing fleece.
Each year we give out “Homestead Baskets” for Christmas to our friends and family. The whole family participates in the making of items in them, and each year they look different. This year, since we did more canning than we ever have before, we decided the baskets would contain canned items.
Each little crate (made by husband) contains a jar of crabapple jelly, dill pickles, peach jam, strawberry jam, sweet pickles, and salsa.
I finished sewing all the traditional Christmas Eve pjs I make each year, but forgot to take pics before I wrapped them. I am always in a rush to wrap things before someone sees them around here!
I finished the socks for youngest son. They are knit with Patons Kroy Sock Yarn on size 3 needles. I did them with the 2-at-a-time-on-2-circulars method – which is pretty much the only way I do socks anymore. I did run into an issue though. This is the first time I have ever had this happen…the self striping on the sock yarn didn’t match from one ball to the second. So even though they are stitched exactly the same (since they were done at the same time) you can see that one sock made it into the next color right at the toe and the other one didn’t. Oh, well. I’m not letting it bother me. He’s going to love them!
I am making good progress on the gifts for my daughters. Oldest daughter is getting a fox scarf. It is so cute, it wraps around the neck and then the fox’s face hooks on to look like it is biting it’s tail. I found the pattern on ravelry.
And youngest daughter is getting a knit dress (or skirt if I can’t complete the dress fast enough). It is a pattern from ravelry called Eyelette Flower Dress.
And lastly, I was perusing patterns on ravelry the other day…why was I doing that when I have all these projects on needles right now? I have no idea. But I found this adorable owl cell phone case pattern (called “Who? Ipod Case”) and just had to make it. It was a really fast knit – except that the yarn I used was Malabrigo Finito fingering weight on size 2 needles and the pattern was for worsted so I had to completely re-write the pattern to work…but I digress. I love my new owl cell phone cover and am probably going to have to make a few for friends as well. This photo doesn’t do the yarn color justice, but you get the idea. 🙂
Fiona was shorn recently so husband has been working at getting her fleece washed. She was way past due for shearing, so it was a huge fleece. He has had to break it into quarters for washing. In addition, we were given a llama, a llama cria, and alpaca fleece. So he is working his way through washing those as well. Based on texture it looks like the llama will be rug wool for my husband and the alpaca and cria will be for me to spin. We haven’t decided yet if we will be sending these off to be turned into roving by the processor or if we are going to do them ourselves.
That’s about all that is going on here at Willow Creek Farm this week! We will continue to work to keep warm through this cold snap, and dream of warmer days, you know…like 35F…that would be a heat wave at this point!