Wednesday, February 5, 2014

a bit of knitting

farming is not cheap. we never thought we would be making money on it but I can't get over how much everything costs and how little value things you raise are to sell. it is the life we would like to be living, and we have many plans for the future, but to live in a wintry kind of place and have animals makes it even more costly. we kept getting a short in our green metal barn and figured out it was the chicken water heater (which you need in the winter here to keep their water from freezing). after tinkering with it didn't fix the problem, we had to buy another one for $50 at the feed store. this was our 2nd winter with the broken one, and it is just one of the many things required to have just keeps adding up. oh well.
it has been a very dry here in Durango which is quite scary because all of our water comes from lake lemon a couple miles north and it was incredibly low last year. above is a picture of some of the sheep and chickens running around and trying to find something not frozen to eat! in the back you can see the cage we built attached to the green metal barn to keep the sheep safe at night from all the predators we have here. I have one ewe (female sheep) that looks like she is going to poop a baby or two out any day now so they are in the new barn my hubby built.

 the window is for warmth from the south and to allow our seeds to germinate early spring. we also added a little closet in the back with a window for storing hay since these sheep eat a lot!

 inside the barn we set up two lambing jugs. we used leftover horse paneling and attached it to create a separation then collected some pallets to make a wall and a little gate. my order from premier arrived and I now have heat lamps, lots of straw and molasses lick with minerals for the two mamas that are hanging out in there. I need to get an updated picture because these were mid-project!
there is my little farm girl. she loves the animals and helping collect eggs from our flock of 33.
we have so many plans and dreams for this place. we are pretty sure we will raise two butcher pigs from spring to fall. we have a friend who does not use the hormone to force the sow into heat which is a crazy dangerous hormone and I wouldn't want to eat meat that was conceived on this hormone. we also have a foundation on our property that goes down a couple feet into the ground but then has earth instead of cement. we hope to save the money up to turn it into a 1200 square foot greenhouse!
until then...I have been knitting. I made so many things the last few months. Below is a favorite that I made for my sister who will have a baby boy this month. it is the 

 I made a few of these for some other little ones that have arrived recently. it is the Plain Cardigan by Anna & Heidi Pickles
here's another one...

 i knit this little sweater for my daughter because she loves our sheep so much. it was my first attempt at fair isle knitting  Welcome to the Flock by Julia Farwell-Clay
and this red shawl was a gift for my mom for christmas. it was my first shawl, my first lace knitting and my most favorite project ever. i was afraid to begin it but found that i loved the challenging pattern and the tiny stitches. it is Sempervivum by Jared Flood 

well, there are other project i want to share but dinner isn't going to make itself so i will return another time. happy knitting!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

this last year...

i have never been much of a blogger. i find that life is too busy to take the time to upload photos, get everything I feel across in a way that is clear, and then doing it all again in a timely way. but I do think of this space often...I have so much I could be sharing.
the honeybees did pretty well during the summer. we lost a queen, added a queen, possibly lost that queen...then it got cold and my husband got stung checking on them so we kind of threw our hands up, hoping that they survive the winter on their own, because I think they are smarter than people and probably have most of it figured out. we did notice that one hive probably lost their queen because there was very little larvae and some honey but not a ton of work had been done inside their hive compared to the others.

we did a lot of camping

(why are my kids always naked!)

we added 2 goats and 2 lambs to our little flock and then two months later our animals were attacked in the middle of the night by mountain lions. we lost our two goats and two sheep.

it was a terrible scary night. a mama lion was teaching her two cubs how to hunt which is why we had a survivor. the picture above is of the lamb who survived for a month. i snuck up on the lion chomping on her neck (so scary and surreal) so she didn't die that night, but couldn't recover. she was my friendliest little lamb. my son named her hungry. i was incredibly sad.but we had two sheep survive, and i went back to my sheep guy in grand junction who was moving the next week to Scotland so i ended up buying two ewes and a big badass ram. we also had a huge cage made out of horse paneling and welded to our "barn" where they sleep so that at night we can lock them up safe or when we leave for a weekend they can choose to be inside or outside. they much prefer outside.

now i will be able to raise my own lambs and not have to continue buying them. there will be a lot to learn but i just got a marking harness for the ram from my grandma. it is beautiful leather and they used it in the 1960's when they raised sheep. i suppose the love of sheep is in my blood. i will put it on him to mark the ewes when he mates them, though i am quite late this year. apparently the ram waits until the ewe is ready and goes into heat, then they breed that day or two and they conceive. i saw him mating my little one pink, on thanksgiving day and i have no idea when or if the others are pregnant so we will have to be on the lookout come april. my hubby is amazing and built this for me.
it is a lambing shed/a place to raise our baby chicks next time we buy more/with a window made for green houses so that we can build a shelf and put our starter plants there and they will get plenty of sun and stay out of my dining room/a future animal anything we want it to be! it is more complete than this picture, i just haven't taken any pictures lately.
we did a good job this year storing hay for 6 sheep (they eat a lot because they are big) and storing firewood.
 we think we cut and stacked about 5 chords and hopefully it will last us until may. we took our first family vacation to mexico and i have been knitting up a storm this much that i will post them all another time.
there was so much more that happened, like my son losing his first tooth, celebrating birthdays, first day of kindergarten. there really is so much beauty here.
we love where we are in life right now. both our home, our land, our has all evolved so much in the last few years. we are right where we hoped we would be and will continue to add to it slowly. it seems like as the kids get older, life is getting easier, and we have the space and time to do more here. until next time...who knows when that will be.

Monday, May 13, 2013

honey bees

our honey bees have arrived! this is what they looked like when we picked them up. the main lady from our local bee club took bee orders a month of two ago, then drove to Utah to pick up about 100 bee boxes. we purchased 3 hives, and picked up 3 other hives for a friend who was out of town.
 the photo above is when they had just arrived and were in the warm sun. the photo below is our friend's bees that spent the night in our garage until he arrived home the next day to pick them up. I thought it was amazing how the bees clumped together, in a form similar to the shape of a top bar honeycomb they create, to keep warm. a few bees got out and still tried to clump with the hive to stay warm through the night.
we got our bees in their bee boxes as soon as we could. my poor hubby spent hours and hours to construct our bee boxes. they are quite expensive to purchase online so we thought we would build them ourselves. we went with top bar because it seems more natural to us, and much simpler/cheaper to harvest honey and wax than a langstroth hive.
the photo below is shows the box that the bees arrived in, placed inside of the bee box. our friend told us to do this and let the bees come out on their own....this did NOT work. after one night, they had begun forming comb inside of this box, rather than on the top bars we had so thoughtfully rubbed with beeswax before their arrival, trying to entice them to begin their combs in the proper place. anyways, we had to go back and dump the bees out of this box and into the bee hive. the bees were a bit pissed at us about this, but with our hats and gloves, we didn't get stung at all. 
below is the photo of my husband dumping the bees out into the top bar.
we came back the following morning to check the bees and make sure they hadn't left. we also had to release the queens. for anyone new to bees, each hive needs a queen. the queen comes in a small box to keep her separate from other bees. usually, there is a type of candy in her box that she eats through, and other bees eat through on their side, so that she is released after a few days when the hive has started making a home. in our case, we popped the cork of the queen box and expected there to be candy inside to prevent the queen from escaping...not so. no candy, so the queen flew away into the dusk of the night. woops. no queen means the hive would have left the following morning. luckily, the head of the bee club had a few extras. we got another queen that night and put her inside the top bar hive, left in the box. the next day, we released her inside the hive where the bees were surrounding her. it turns out, none of the queen boxes had candy inside, so many people with this shipment lost their queens just like we did. we lucked out getting a 2nd one.
 the day we released the queen, the bees were already hard at work.

below is a photo looking inside the hive that had been there for almost 2 weeks. we had been having quite a bit of wind and some rain so we left them alone to do their business for a bit. when we checked on them, we were quite surprised to see all their progress!

 this is just one bar on one hive. we looked inside and they are working on quite a few bars on one end, then working towards the other end of the hive. after 2 weeks, it appears that they are making comb on about 5 bars.
below is a picture of our 3 hives on our property. we put up electric fencing and are using a solar power battery charger. it is working great and will definitely keep all the bears away. we had a lot of bear action in our area last year, though we didn't personally have any issues. but bears love honey and apparently we have a bear living right in our little valley under a tree. we haven't seen her except at night so I don't have any photos.
oh, and one little shot of the sheep loving each other. :)

Thursday, April 25, 2013


it is now spring. last time I was on here it was fall. we spent a lot of our winter with colds. we caught it all. the noravirus, influenza B, lots of coughs and sore throats. it really blew our minds. we eat quite healthy, go to bed quite early, wash our hands, take our just hit us really hard this year. we started juicing grapefruit and oranges every day and we went 5 weeks without a cold during 4 year old also turned 5 that month....
and we also received a package of 26 baby chicks for more layers. we went with all speckled Sussex this year and plan on getting all rhode island reds next year. that way, we will know the age of the hens as the years go by.
there was still snow outside so they lived in our laundry room for a few weeks before they moved outside in a fenced corner of our chicken coop with a hot lamp to keep them warm.
with the snow melting here in Durango, Colorado, we are venturing outside with all the endless projects and dreams. my hubby installed a fire pit in our front yard which is getting lots of action. time with the kids, burning weeds I find, and late night fireside chat with my man.
my littlest one turned 2 years old this month. that girl is flourishing. she is finally getting words out and much of her fussiness is being replaced with silly behavior...thank goodness!
 this is her eating the batter from her birthday cupcakes. I made this recipe and subbed maple syrup for the white sugar and they were really really good!
my most exciting experience happened just yesterday. I began looking for a sheep shearer and found a man in the area who came over within the hour. he was wonderfully gentle with the sheep and I loved watching my little ewes transform from fluffly big girls to naked looking baby sheep! the fleece is incredibly soft too! this is my first time watching them get sheared and I cannot wait until next year. Here is a photo of them before....
 and here they are after! quite a change!
 it is really something to see in person and I am thrilled with how long their fleece we will see how I go about with learning to spin it. I am considering sending it to a mill in the state to get it back and learn how to spin either with my drop spindle or learn on someone's wheel. I don't want to try to do it all this year being that it is my first and then end up not getting any of it done!
 the ewe on the left is rosy and she is a Shetland. she was attacked by a coyote when she was a baby so when she gets stressed she wheezes and is very skittish of people. the ewe walking to the camera is named blue and she is a blue faced Leicester. she has lovely fleece that I can't wait to knit up! her mama was old and died 2 days after she was born so she was bottle fed and is incredibly friendly...too friendly sometimes. she has the personality of an inquisitive, mischievous goat! it has been so much fun to raise sheep! until another time....happy spring!