Unexpected Collection

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These are eleven of my baskets. I didn’t realize how many I have, and how many of them I use almost every day. Until I needed a basket to put cookies in. I started poking around until I found the right one, a small picnic basket with two handles.

There’s my blue fiber project basket, three egg baskets, two harvest baskets, and three storage baskets. Those are just the ones in this picture. It amuses me to see so many, and I really do use them all the time.

My blue fiber basket has 3 spindles and a couple of spinning wheel bobbins in it, as well as some spun yarn and fiber. it’s my ‘grab and go’ for any time I’m going to join friends at a spin-in. Under the shallow harvest basket on the right is my folded laundry basket. Yet, the clothes get folded in front of the TV and put into that little blue basket before they go into drawers.

Women have been making and using baskets for at least 12 millennia. That’s 12,000 years we know of, since most baskets are made of wood and fibers, there’s not much left after a few thousand years to go by. I’ll bet the craft is much older than that. Gatherers need baskets like hunters need sharp points.

I’ve made baskets from plastic shopping bags, t-shirts cut into strips and strips of brown paper. Not the kind of materials that last forever, but common recyclable materials. I stopped making the plastic ones because there’s a nasty powder that gets on my hands and up my nose. I don’t like snorting plastic dust. It makes me feel sick.

T-shirts, on the other hand, appear to be much friendlier to the body. There are dozens of t-shirts around the house that need to be recycled into something. I cut them into 1 inch strips, with a bit of thought I can make one continuous strip of t-shirt material out of the tube part of the shirt.

It’s time for me to go, gotta deliver those cookies.

So Soft – Just Don’t Pet Him!

Grumpy closer


Look at that face! Isn’t he the cutest darn thing?

He hates being petted, which is just TOO bad because he’s SO SOFT! Last winter I’d corner him in the stall and pet his neck and he’d scream “Ewwww!” and stamp his little bitty feet. I’d laugh at him. “Too bad, Grumpy. Get over it! You’re just SO soft!”

I’ve spent most of the afternoon on the back porch, playing with Grumpy’s fleece. I’ve picked it. Carded it. Spun it and plied it.

It’s just so soft!

I don’t know what I’m going to make with it. It’s very fine and a soft creamy white.

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Look, you can just grab a handful and spin it just as fine as froghair, with a drop spindle. My wheel makes it into yarn so fast, the stuff just flies onto the bobbins. The yarn I plied an hour ago needs to be measured and weighed so I know about where I’m at with it.

I’ve discovered how to wash it – just soak it in water for a week. Change the water every day. Use soap and hot water the first day, leave it in the sun the rest of the week. This is a very slow process, but the fleece is just as soft and clean as it can be…after a week. If I go any faster, I get FELT. You can’t agitate this stuff. Even spinning it in the washer felts it.

Now the sad part is that Grumpy appears to have the coarsest hair of the three alpacas. But his is the longest, and the cleanest. I bag it up an ounce per bag – soak it and forget it.

I’ve got more fleece from Atlanta, but I haven’t tried to wash it up yet. I’ve washed one ounce of black llama and an ounce of mouse-colored llama.

Last weekend we went to Wampum Stompup farm. I saw the most beatiful alpacas. Fawns, red-browns and blacks that had some really dreamy looking fleece. There was one red-brown that I’d really like to buy. If he were fixed, which he isn’t.

She breeds her males. I just want geldings. No females, no babies – though her babies are adorable. They are just so hard to keep up. She’s got to deworm hers every 10 days because of some weird worm that comes from the deer.

I deworm mine twice a year. The chickens have developed a taste for Alpaca Poop that defies logic. They like it more than they like horse manure.

Well, the tractor repairman is here, gotta go!


Had to make the picture bigger so you can get the full squee from that cute little face.

The New Guys – Photos

Tribute and Armand

I’ve been busy, and haven’t posted pictures of the new Alpacas.

As you can see, they were sheared in late summer or fall. There’s not so much fleece on them. There are a lot of burrs, too. As usual, they aren’t the kind of guys to stand still to be groomed.

But I WILL work on that. I prefer my ‘llamas’ as well mannered as my horses. This is going to take a LOT of treats.

Also, I’ve got to get them off the expensive Senior Feed that goes to the old horses.

Got to cut corners where I can.


December 2013

I held my annual cookie bake last week. I love to bake, but I don’t always want to eat the stuff I bake. So I invite over some girlfriends to bake a ton of cookies, and I give the cookies away.

This year, things were a little rocky around the edges, for one thing, I’ve been battling an abcessed tooth since the first of December. So my energy levels are pretty low. So this wasn’t as big of cookie swap party as I’d originally planned.

But a funny thing happened that day…one of my projects ‘grew legs’ and vanished from the house. It was a crocheted hat, made from chestnut and white llama yarn. Not a major project, but it was made for a specific person, who is sensitive to wool.

I know I have gremlins…one in particular has lived with me for a very long time. He takes my car keys and various items, but he’s always given them back when I ask.

I try to leave bits of food out for him, but he’s got to get them before the dogs do. The Irish leave saucers of milk out for the leprecauns, to keep the mischief to a minimum. I’ve heard that it works with ghosts, too, if anyone has problems with ghosts, try leaving them a bit of coffee or something.

But I digress.

I’ve searched my entire house. I’ve searched the baskets where I stash all my finished and unfinished projects. We even looked as we cleaned the house, to see if the dogs had taken off with the hat. There’s no sign of it, though I found the extra yarn I spun on the drop spindle, right where I’d last seen the hat.


Fast forward two months – that’s right, it took me two months to find the missing project. However I’ve found it and I KNOW the gremlin took it. Little beast hid it at the bottom of the finished pile.

Alpaca in Trouble?


The boys in their stall.

Yesterday I got a little worried when Bashful didn’t eat his grain, for the second day in a row. I’m still getting used to ‘the llamas’ (yes they are alpacas, but for some reason we always call them llamas.) I contacted SELR (Llama Rescue) for advice.

Bless Debbie for getting right back to me. She told me what to look for and recommended a shot of antibotics in case it was a respertory infection and deworming.

This morning, I offered him some grain, which he nibbled. But he went to the hay bag with real enthusiasm when I put a section of alphalfa hay in it. Bingo! I also watched as he drank deeply.

I checked his eyelids and gums for color. The color was a nice deep pink. His breathing sounded fine. There was a bit of discharge from one eye, but not enough to call unusual.

Just to make sure, I gave him the antibotics. I had a hard time finding skin under all that hair, but I figured it out. Then I let them go outside for a few hours of grazing.

He came in with an appitite! Shoved his little nose into the hay bag and vanished up to his little ears! He still didn’t touch the grain. So, just to be on the safe side, I dewormed both of them.

Grumpy gave me a fight, of course, but it seemed more of a token protest compared to the first time I worked with him. That was a rodeo, let me tell you! He makes a lot of noise, but doesn’t spit on me. It took three tries to get the medicine in his mouth, but I got it done.

I used the least amount of force to get the job done, just like I do with the horses. When a critter doesn’t fight me, I take all the pressure off immediatly as a reward. It works much better than you’d think it would.

I’m going to keep an eye on Bashful. When I left the barn he’d shoved his head back into the hay bag and only his ears were showing. When he came out to breath, he had a mouthful and seemed happy.

I’ll check on him again tomorrow and see how he’s doing, of course.

Chicken World Is Complete

The renovation is complete!

The renovation is complete!

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I finally finished renovating Chicken World! You can see the upper and lower nest boxes. The ducks want to be hidden and the chickens want nests high up. There is also a length of plastic pipe for extra roosts. I also doubled the wooden roosting space on the other side. They don’t like plastic in the winter, wood is more comfortable.

The cold weather made the project more difficult and at the same time more neccessary. The hens don’t like to lay in cold nests. They like to get cozy and comfortable. So if the nest box is cold, they’ll find somewhere else to lay eggs. Which means I have to go on an egg hunt.

To date, there has been nothing between the chickens and the metal wall of the building. No insulation means frozen eggs and frost-bitten combs. I was able to get some pallets from my local feed store, and I used those boards to panel the walls of Chicken World.

This didn’t instantly raise the temperature in Chicken World, after all, two sides are still open. It does keep the eggs from freezing. The wood blocks the cold, so the hay can keep the eggs warm. I hope to get a much higher hatch-rate because the eggs won’t freeze.