The scarf project is looking silly now. For some reason it's getting smaller and smaller as I go. I think I've figured out the problem, but from here I can only prevent it from getting smaller, rather than making it as wide as I had originally planned. Still, it's a learning experience. I wasn't expecting perfection, and honestly, I'm still really excited to see how it turns out in the end.
It's Friday. We survived a rough week. This weekend is set to be pretty cold. The low is expected to be -25 tonight, high tomorrow of 1, and low tomorrow night of -15. Monday is supposed to get to -8 as the high with a low of -23. The barn kitties stayed in the entry way last night and today at the warmest point (-12 with windchill) I attempted to kick them out while I checked on the outdoor critters. When I got back to the door they were right where I'd left them, looking miserable, huddled up waiting to be let back in again. Can't say that I blame them. So back in they came.
I am trying some new things with crochet that I have never tried before. I'm attempting a scarf, which is looking rough, but is coming along nicely despite my many mistakes. I have largely been leaving my mistakes in there. It's not meant to be perfect, and I think every little flaw gives it character, makes it unique, and will forever remind the wearer that it was hand made.
Tonight I made an interesting dinner that would have been a hit had I omitted one ingredient.
Mom's Spicy Veggies with Drumsticks
12 Chicken drumsticks
14 little red potatoes
1 medium to large onion
6-8 large carrots
2 cans of green beans
1 can of diced tomatoes with green chiles
~1 Tbsp minced garlic
Your preferred dry chicken seasoning
Chop the potatoes and carrots into bite-sized pieces. Slice the onions into strips. Drain the green beans and diced tomatoes. Combine all vegetables in slow cooker.
Add one spoon full of minced garlic, and enough Ranch powder to coat the entire contents. Mix well.
Cover chicken with your preferred dry rub, and add to the top of the crock pot.
Cover and cook on High for 4-6 hours.
This is another of my "use what we have on hand" recipes that I make up as I go. We aren't usually big eaters of drumsticks, but I had a package in the freezer and decided to use them up. The veggies are what we had on hand, and the seasonings just happened to be in the cupboard.
I must say that the can of diced tomatoes and green chiles really stole the spotlight, and not in a good way. The veggies were so spicy we could hardly eat them. My husband thought they were great, but he likes spicy food. If I were to repeat this recipe, I'd omit the tomatoes/chiles and enjoy the flavors that got lost under all the spicy heat.
I managed to get out to the barn today briefly to snap some updated photos of Ulric and Vesuvius. I wasn't able to get as good of photos as I usually try for. My fingers were freezing and I couldn't stand to be out there anymore. I'm not equipped to be outside, and I really should have been wearing gloves.
Anyway, Ulric is looking really good. His ears are healing up nicely. I'd say he lost less than 1/4 of his ears, so it almost gives him an odd Netherland Dwarf look.
Vesuvius fared better. Just the very tips of his ears are a little tattered. It looks like he lost about 1/4" or less on either ear. He is also healing well.
Ulysses got the brunt of the damage. He lost about 1/3 of each ear, and his are still raw in places, but he is healing. Poor guy, lost his ears, blind in one eye, and he's a meat breed to boot. Glad he's staying here though. I hope he makes a good breeder. Maybe the does will like his rugged good looks?
Meanwhile, in the house, Wisp is nibbling carrots and playing with toilet paper tubes. She's getting plenty of love, and will be sure to make someone very happy as a companion.
Today Rocket moved on to his new home. Yay Rocket! One more bunny off on a new adventure. One less mouth to feed here.
We ran to Brainerd tonight for some shopping. One of the kids needed art supplies for a school project and we did some other shopping as long as we were in town. We got some goldfish for Minnow (the turtle), some yarn and crochet hooks for the kids to learn to make things, and of course we checked out the seed selection too! Tonight we added Short 'n Sweet carrots, Big Kahuna beans, Goldrush beans, Heavy Hitter beans, Bistro corn salad, Blue Fescue ornamental grass, and Goblin Gaillardia to our collection. The kids were excited to pick out seeds and took it as a challenge to find ones we don't already have.
I managed to get the bookshelf back in order today. The kids like to just toss books back or stack them flat on the shelves instead of putting them away properly. In cleaning it off I found a few extra books we don't want or need, so we're officially back on Amazon selling some stuff. Two of the books are up on Amazon, and I still have three more that aren't going on Amazon but might end up on eBay or just donated to the local library. I had to ask my husband how in the world we ended up with a copy of "Microsoft Excel For Government Use Only" the user guide. Copyright in it is 1993-1994, so it's pretty old. I guess we can't sell it, so I'm setting it aside for future projects that require paper. Maybe something using cut out words from a book, or paper mache, or decoupage, or something else. Who knows. I'm sure it'll be useful at some point.
I also came across an old hardcover book titled The Summer House by Clarence Jonk. The inside is signed by him and dated March 25, 1951, Stillwater, Minn (which happens to be his hometown - I looked him up). I have no idea what it's worth, but probably not much. He's not a prominent author it seems, so perhaps this one will go to the library, or I could see if the historical society would have any use for it. Maybe eBay. The last book is one of those cheap romance novels. It must have come from my mother-in-law's old collection because I certainly don't read that kind of book. That one is headed either to the local library or the art bin for scrap paper with the Excel manual.
Tony has challenged me to teach myself to crochet a scarf. Since my grandmother only showed me how to make pot holders before her Alzheimer's took her mind too far away to teach me any more, and I am unable to read crochet patterns, I will have to figure it out on my own. I have a pretty good idea of how to do it (in my own way, not necessarily how it's supposed to be done), so I think I will give it a shot with the new skein of yarn I just picked up. It's a really pretty variegated skein with shades of brown. It reminds me of a calico cat.
I went out to the bunny barn today because it was finally above freezing. I brought a bucket of water to give everyone a drink, and to check my critters. It's looking sparse out there. We've had a lot of losses with the extreme cold, even though they're inside buildings. Even with the wind blocked, -36 is brutal. Having temps that low for over a week is deadly.
I will have to take updated photos of Vesuvius and Uhlric. Both are now missing the tops of their ears thanks to Boon. Ulysses will need an updated photo too, but he's staying, so I'm in no rush for him. Maybe we will find time tomorrow. I had hoped to get it done today, but just ran out of time.
I reintroduced Spot (Boon's mom) to the colony to replace Speckles. I put Kaelyn in with Kevin, and Penelope in with Sushi. No witnessed breeding, but I did leave them together while I did watering chores, and for a while after that as well. Who knows if we will have babies in 31 days, but here's hoping. Kaelyn and Kevin are unproven, and Penelope is getting older. I guess we will see.
We are anticipating more intense cold weather starting tomorrow night (low of -22) and on through the next six nights (-26 Friday night with a high of -1 both Friday and Saturday). Eek! And we just got the entry way cleaned up from having the cats in there for the last cold spell!
I do plan on breeding two more does after this next cold spell. Their babies may not be ready in time for Easter, but if not they'll be ready shortly thereafter. I hate selling bunnies for Easter anyway. Too many of them are bought by people who've done little to no research and many end up returning them within a few months anyway. Personally, I tend to ask more questions of potential buyers around holidays to try to avoid rubber-band buyers. It's all about educational moments and using every opportunity to help educate people about proper care and what to expect with responsible ownership.
With all of the other family drama going on behind the scenes, I've missed out on posting about our dear little Floki. She's showing signs that she could be pregnant! I'm a little confused about the timeline. She's getting some nipple development, which means she should be somewhere in week 3-4. I knew I should have written it down when breeding was witnessed, but I completely forgot. I swear it wasn't that long ago (more like 1-2 weeks ago). If she is 3-4 weeks along, she should be due somewhere in the range of February 6-13. If I'm right and she was bred one to two weeks ago, that would mean kittens in the time frame of February 27 to March 6.
The potential mom-to-be is Floki (above) and the would-be father-to-be is Henry (below). Floki is a dilute calico with bi-colored eyes (one blue, one green). Henry is blue and white with blue eyes. Because both carry for Rex genetics, there's a 25% chance of rex showing up in the litter. All kits should be blue and white, dilute calico, or cream colored.
That said, we've had false starts before. It's possible that this breeding will not conclude with kittens, but we're hoping for some anyway.
It's been a long day, and I'm incredibly tired. We spent most of the day working on the family crisis. Today was fairly straight forward and I am thankful to the three individuals we worked with to get the ball rolling on the situation we're facing.
The initial results are less than anticipated, which is a good thing. It's not as bad (yet) as we were worried about, but tomorrow and in the coming days we may have to deal with more dominoes as things continue to move along.
Again, I apologize for the lack of details, and for those of you who've written emails, I am sorry for the delays. I will try to get back to everyone tomorrow once I've had some sleep.
We spent most of today cleaning the house. Catching up on laundry, clearing off the counters, finally putting away the dehydrator and bread machine. We worked on cleaning off the desk, at least partially. We took all the cardboard boxes and broke them down and hauled them out. They will be used as the base for our Back To Eden style gardens we plan to build this year. I helped the boys clean their room, and organized #5's clothing cupboard as last time he brought clean laundry up he just tossed the pile in. He's been rummaging through it to find clothes since, so it was a mess. I got the living room vacuumed, #1 mopped part of the bathroom, and I got Wisp transitioned into a cage. It was getting a little gross having to clean up bunny messes, so she is now contained to a cage so her little fertilizer pellet gifts don't end up all over the kitchen (eewwww). I re-organized our movie collection. Turns out we had quite a few missing disks. No sense keeping the case if there's no disk to go with it. It's no fun to find a movie you want to watch only to realize the disk is missing.
I didn't get to finish mopping the kitchen floor yet, and I've still got some more dishes to wash (does it ever end with a big family?). I didn't get to giving the dog a bath, but it's still on the to-do list.
Tomorrow will be a long and busy day for reasons I still can't discuss. If you're of the praying sort, we'd appreciate your prayers. Or your good vibes, or your thoughts, or whatever you believe in. Please keep our family in your thoughts and prayers as we journey down a difficult road (in private for now). Thank you.
Last night little Xavier passed away. I'm at a loss. I have no idea what happened to this one. She was doing well, she was eating, she was in good health, she wasn't thin or underweight or dehydrated. She was growing well and active. I don't know what went wrong.
Today I got the phone case I ordered with my dog design on it. I am so happy with it, and excited that it arrived two days earlier than anticipated. If you'd like to have a phone case with this design, or perhaps a shirt, mug, sticker, clock, or bag, please take a minute to go HERE to see what's available with this design on it.
The live trap caught something today. It wasn't the raccoon we were hoping for, but one of the local red squirrel babies. When we moved in last August there were several tiny baby red squirrels, likely just weaned. There was no mama squirrel around, just several babies and they would run through the yard and climb the trees all in line. They were about the size of mice when we first arrived, and now they're about the size of a chipmunk. We have two that are still around. One that seems to live in the "mother walnut" tree beside the chicken coop, and one that has claimed the walnut grove with the black raspberry plants as it's territory.
So when this cute little guy triggered the trap and was springing around making crazy circles in the cage, we had no choice but to let him go. I snapped this photo as #3 opened the cage to let it out. It lost no time in making a prompt escape. This one happens to be the one that owns the raspberry bush area.
I used as much of the red white and blue skein of yarn as I could and came up with a grand total of seven crochet coasters. Of them, six are variations of more or less stripes and blue star sections, and one coaster that is just stripes, with no blue star part.
I only got a photo of six, as #2 picked one out that he wants to give to his history teacher. Of course that meant that #4 wanted to bring some for her teachers too. So now I'm left with three.
I guess they're for sale if anyone is interested. They're double thick, hand crocheted, and are roughly 4" x 4" (slightly more rectangular, so closer to 4" x 3.75"). I've been using the prototype for a while now and it's actually quite nice. I haven't had to wash it yet, so I don't know how that will work (wash cold, line dry). I expect it will wash as well as my pot holders that are made the same way.
We had some pretty devastating family issues come up today. I'm not sure how this will play out, but I'm not at liberty to share the details right now.
I have continued to work on the tomato research, and have been updating my notes as I go. I've already selected a few varieties we will be trying, and I'm only into the G's (going alphabetically).
Given that I have Asperger's, one of my coping mechanisms when I'm really stressed out is to become fully immersed in a project or activity. When my grandmother passed away, while we were working on funeral arrangements (largely handled by my mom and her siblings, but I was there every day with them), we picked up a stray dog and I dedicated weeks and months to caring for her and finding her a new home (after not being able to find her original home). It really helped me cope with it. We had a family emergency several years ago, and that's about the time I started collecting seeds. In previous stressful times, I have been known to take in a project animal, but with a tight budget and no more space right now, perhaps I will focus on my seeds, garden planning, research, and maybe winter sowing. Or maybe I'll start another crochet project. I'm nearing the end of the red white and blue skein of yarn and have five done and one more in the works. I'm not sure if I will have enough yarn to make a seventh, which means starting another project with another skein. Maybe more coasters, maybe a potholder. I don't know. My Aspergian mind craves a focus away from the stress.
I got the mug I ordered for my brother today in the mail. He's going to love it. It's got a picture of his dog on it.
I'm still waiting on the phone case I ordered for myself. If you're interested in checking out some of my designs, please feel free to visit our RedBubble shop. I've got all kinds of designs and I'm often adding more. You can get stickers, shirts, pillows, phone cases, coffee mugs, and all kinds of other stuff with our art or photos. The phone case I ordered should be here on Monday.
We lost another duck today, though not to predator. This cold spell has been brutal. I'm told the remaining guinea isn't looking well either. The metal inside the Quonset is covered in frost. I wonder how much of this is because of the cold and how much is because I moved the water dish indoors while we closed everything up after the holiday duck murders.
We still have yet to trap anything in the live trap. Tonight we're expecting -23, and tomorrow night -16. From there on it looks a little better for lows, even possibly touching above freezing in mid January (though that's far off and bound to change). The barn kitties have been locked up in the entry way for what seems like forever now. It does make it much easier to feed and water them, but they lack litter box skills and have already destroyed a couple pairs of shoes and we're going to have to do some cleaning and sanitizing once it's warm enough to clean without everything freezing. Better than frozen kittens though.
I worry about letting the kitties stay outside at night when it warms up a bit. If something was big enough to attack and kill a duck, they're more than big enough to catch and kill a half-grown barn cat. On the other hand, we got them to be barn cats, and what good are they doing being locked up in the entry way every night? I don't know what to do. They have to be out during the day. They're seriously going stir crazy in the entry way. I mean, it's pretty decent size, but it's not as big as the barn, and certainly doesn't offer them the opportunity to climb trees and play in the snow and chase each other around the yard. So how do I weigh in between safety from predators and cold, versus freedom to do what they're meant to do? Maybe I'm just not in the right state of mind for a barn cat. I still see them as pets and parts of our family. There's no disconnect. If they go missing or get killed, I will never forgive myself. But at the same time, our indoor cats will not accept another into their group, and my husband already says we have too many in the house (and I agree), so they can't come in beyond the entry way.
So, I'm hoping we can catch the duck killer in the next couple of days, so I can feel safer letting the cats out to play when it finally warms up a little out there.
Wisp remains the constant companion of little Xavier. She is teaching the little one about food, and Xavier is now munching on pellets in addition to apple slices. I don't know if it will be enough to pull him/her through, but here's hoping!
I did remove the pine bedding (finally) and now these two are living on fabric. One towel in the bottom of a laundry basket. Then the towel can be swapped out and washed every day or two as needed.
Xavier is three weeks old today. Still not drinking water from the bowl, but apples provide moisture. I'm really hoping this kit pulls through. We need another Wisp miracle. Maybe she feels it too. She still won't leave the laundry basket. She spends her entire day hanging out with Xavier. What a good big sister.
I'm having trouble concentrating on anything lately. I feel so distracted. I try to do my tomato research, but then I get side-tracked. I think a lot of it has to do with #5 being especially clingy lately, so I can't concentrate on anything for more than a couple of minutes before he needs me for something. But hey, if my little guy wants to snuggle and hang out, I'm game.
I am itching to do some winter sowing. I keep telling myself I need to focus more on researching the varieties I have before I start putting seeds out... but darn it, that soil is calling to me!
That and my husband called me after work yesterday to inform me that Menards got their first seed shipment and the Burpee rep was there setting up the first seed display. He even sat there for twenty minutes as I went through my seed wish list to see if they had any of the varieties I'm looking for. No luck yet. I'm sure more seeds will be coming from other companies. And they don't have any of their roots and tubers out yet. I'm hoping to snag some purple asparagus and some more blue potatoes this year. I always end up buying plants too - especially when they're on sale. Who can resist 69-cent 6-packs of tomatoes? Well, that's much later in the season (obviously).
The live trap is set again today, we've added marshmallows as the bait (I'm told this is a raccoon favorite) and moved it to the place at the corner of the bunny barn where there's a gap and the critter keeps trying to get in. My kids are excited to "catch a trash panda" and my husband has a contact that is a trapper and will know what to do with it once we catch it.
I attempted to do a video of me opening the seed package. I was careful to cross out my address on the package, and then what do I do? Pull out the inventory list with my address on it... *sigh* And with no video editing software, I guess that's a dud video. Better luck next time I guess. Lesson (hopefully) learned. Anyway, we added Everbearing cucumber, Purple Tiger pepper, and Licorice basil to our collection.
I had plans today to do a video of opening the seeds that arrived in the mail, but my kids had other plans. With #5 being a little extra needy, and the older kids being loud (it's the last day of winter break for them), a video just didn't happen. Maybe I can try to do the video tomorrow when the kids go to school. The package remains unopened.
Today I opened up the bunny barn for the first time since Christmas Eve when we lost two ducks to a suspected raccoon attack. The ducks are not enjoying being cooped up in the barn, they needed some fresh air. I opened the door and only Josh the goose came out. The ducks (and two roosters and last remaining guinea) decided they'd rather stay in. Well, at least I gave them the opportunity.
I did notice the pawprints around the bunny barn. Something has been snooping around, circling the barn, looking for a way in. Oddly enough, the three rabbits in the cages outside do not seem to be troubled by the night visitor. The prints go right by the front of the cages, but don't seem to stop or circle them.
I set the trap again today, but no luck during the day. Maybe we'll catch the culprit tonight. It's clearly revisiting the scene of the crimes. Perhaps I need better bait. Ham doesn't seem to be doing it.
The bucks in the grow out pen in the bunny barn are having serious issues. It's been a long time since I've been out there. I have problems going out in the cold, so #3 has been doing bunny chores. She was off at grandma's house last night and this morning, so I went out to do morning water chores and open up the coop and barn. There are four bucks in the grow out pen. Three of them are now missing the tips of their ears. It's a frozen bloodbath in there, and I don't understand. We've kept bucks together much longer than these four young ones have been together without issues (in fact the three older bucks are still living communally in our basement right now). I'm left to assume the aggressor is the one bunny who still has intact ears. To this evening #3 moved Boon to his own cage. It's a risk putting him in a solitary cage when it's so cold - nobody to snuggle with for body heat - but if he's the one attacking the other boys, I can't let him continue. Vesuvius, Ulysses, and Ulrich have damaged ears now. They don't appear to be in any mortal danger, but they won't be as pretty now. Their ears will heal. I think the cold helped by reducing blood flow, and thus reducing blood loss. My poor boys. I stood out there until I couldn't feel my toes anymore, hoping to see who was the bully, but they all seemed sweet and they all got along while I was watching.
Between the blind eye and the damaged ear, I think if Ulysses comes through the winter, he may earn a place in our breeding lines. I love weird and different critters, and since his damage is all cosmetic and not genetic, he'd be better suited for breeding than eating. I will reserve that decision for spring when the weather warms up and I can see where we stand with cage availability and where we want to go from here with rabbit breeding.
It seems to take longer and longer for the sun to find it's way back to us in the morning, and it never stays long enough. I took the above sunrise photo just before 8am. The sun starts setting by 4:30pm and by 5:15 it's completely dark. I'm looking forward to spring, and more sunlight and warmth!
We lost one of the silkie roosters last night, and one of the shelved kits passed away this afternoon. I couldn't get the smaller one to take an apple, and the two momma rabbits out in the coop are not feeding the kits. With their mom gone, I'm not sure what else I can do to keep this last kit going. Wisp has taken a liking to the last kit though. She won't leave the nest box (though she's more than capable or jumping out). Instead she spends her time cuddled up with the little baby.
I was admiring how similar they looked, and then it dawned on me. They have the same mother. Maybe it's sisterly love, maybe it's just Wisp wanting to steal the apple slices, but whatever it is, it's adorable to see them together. Wisp will sprawl out, legs stretched out, and Xavier will be curled up next to her. Of course the instant I pull my camera out, they jump up and act like they weren't just besties.
Still no babies from MoR, which seems odd. She's always been right on time delivering new kits. Maybe tomorrow.
Tonight we had dinner at my parents' house. Their new bloodhound ate one of #4's brand new Shopkins shoes. My mom was going to throw the remaining shoe away (since all of my kids have two feet, one shoe isn't worth keeping), but I had an idea.
When I have time, I plan on adding soil and seeds and making the shoe a planter. I mean, it's not a big deal if it doesn't work out, because it was just going to be thrown away anyway. My thought is that the bottom sole is rubber, which means I can use it as an indoor planter without worrying about the water spilling out from the bottom. Since #4 has a nice West-facing window in her bedroom, perhaps she can keep it in her room as an odd, but still relevant Shopkins collectible (she does love them). I will have to take photos.
Also, this year, I'd like to start making videos to add to my blogs. I'm expecting some seeds in the mail tomorrow. My kids love watching videos of people opening things. Perhaps a quick video of my opening the seed package will be entertaining.
If I knew how to video edit, I'd make the shoe planter a video too. I could do videos on winter sowing, seed saving, and homestead chores... Once I figure out editing, the sky's the limit. Here's to a busy year full of new opportunities and lessons to learn!
Amanda's blog about everything, important and trivial.