We have spent most of the first month of the year dealing with surgeries and hospitalizations. But things seem to be calming a bit and yesterday we were able to have a “normal homestead Saturday.” Which for us means working on projects in the home and on the homestead. This time it was in the home, in the basement to be exact.
Since there are 7 of us we buy a lot of food in bulk, especially our flours because we are Gluten-Free as well. We also home-can a LOT each fall. So in the basement we have another refrigerator/freezer, as well as a pantry area for our overflow bulk food, flours in buckets, and home-canned food. It was previously a temporary mix of different shelves and cabinets from here or there. But yesterday we built the real and final basement pantry. We are very happy with how it turned out!
Normally, by this time of year we wouldn’t even be halfway through the home-canned goods. But as you can see by all the empty jars, that is not the case this year. That is because we didn’t can even close to as much as we usually do last fall. Hopefully next fall it will be all full of FULL jars, not empty.
The two old hens we put in their own pen were only laying one egg a week, so we did end up butchering them this week. We have 18 hens, 3 chicks (we are guessing 2 cockerels and 1 pullet), and 1 rooster. We also moved all the hens into the upper coop together to consolidate our flock to make winter barn chores easier. So now all the hens and chicks are in the upper coop and barnyard, and the rooster is in the grow pen in the barn so he doesn’t tear the girls backs up. The lower coop and the Mama Hen Pen are currently empty. Come spring we will rearrange again for breeding season.
The last change we made this week was to move the water trough and set it up in a way that the birds can drink from it but not fall in. Previously it was set up so that if they did fall in they could climb out, but in freezing weather, as we learned last week, that doesn’t work because a wet chicken is a dead chicken. It is very convenient to use the trough with its de-icer in the winter, but we didn’t want any more chick-falling-in-freezing-and-dying scenarios like last week. So now that is fixed as well.
Here it is! The cabled cardigan I have been working on for months. The pattern is Let Go by Joji Locatelli. The yarn is a special yarn Mtn Man made for me from a fleece he bought me for our anniversary. I call it Sandstorm because that was the name of the sheep. It is a thicker and somewhat coarse wool, so this cardigan will be perfect fall and spring outerwear.
I am really excited about this sweater and pretty happy with how it turned out. There is only one problem…when I blocked it the length shrunk. Probably because I was really trying to be sure the cables opened good and wide. So I will be putting it back on the needles and lengthening it because I have plenty more yarn and if I am going to spend months making a cardigan for myself I ought to LOVE it when I am done.
I love the pattern so much that I have already cast on another one. This one is with a much finer yarn that is a deep purple, silk/merino wool blend from Knitpicks. It will be a much lighter, very soft, more indoor-wear cardigan. I will have two VERY different cardigans made from one pattern.
After casting on the new sweater I noticed my pile of project bags and WIPs (works in progress) was pretty big, and that made me feel like I needed to get some of the smaller, almost finished projects done before I spend too much time on the sweater. So I am doing a knit-WIP-down, starting with finishing my hat.
This pattern is Jason’s Cashmere Hat by Melissa Thomson. I used 100% Alpaca yarn for the first time ever. Mtn Man made the yarn in the mill for a customer and I liked it so much I bought a couple skeins from her (the benefits of owning your own custom fiber processing mill!). I love, love, love the grey color with lighter and darker fibers mixed together and I am seriously considering reserving the fleece off this particular alpaca this year so that I can make a sweater. I am just not sure how alpaca wears and washes. Anyone know? Does it pill easily and get worn out? Because my life is a little too active for high-maintenance clothing right now.
Willow Creek Fiber Mill
Speaking of the benefits of owning your own custom fiber processing mill…have I ever mentioned how cool it is for a knitting-crazy gal like me to have a husband who makes custom yarn for a living? Well it is REALLY cool. And it is kind of funny, but also cool because he is such a burly Mtn Man that is outdoorsy and hunts and builds anything you can imagine, and yet he is really skilled at making something as soft, fine, and un-burly (new word, add it to the dictionary) as beautiful custom yarn.
As I mentioned above, one benefit is that I get to see all types and styles of yarn come through the mill, and then, when I see one I really like, I get the opportunity to buy it from the customer. Fun, fun!
This week Mtn Man processed some of the fleece from our sheep (that we don’t own anymore, so it is nice to be able to still be using some of their fleece even though they are gone now). This particular one is from Fiona, our white CVM/Merino, and he blended it with purple bamboo. It is fingering weight and I am seeing socks and hats in my daydreams about this yarn. I LOVE how it turned out and can’t wait to get it on the needles.
He only did a small part of her fleece, giving me about 900 yards of this yarn. Now we have to decide if we want more of this, or if we want to do something else with the rest of the fleece. I LOVE my yarn-making Mtn Man!