Monday, August 22, 2011

The Fence

     The very first project started when I bought the house was the chainlink fence. Since chainlink is ungodly expensive and this yard is quite large, it's a chunk by chunk prcedure. I have also never put up chainlink before (though I have a lot of experiance with farm fence!). Very very luckily for me, a friend of mine called while I was cementing in the first corner post and came over to help. He doesn't know what he's doing either, but it's working out very nicely. Plus, he's good with a sawzall which turns out to be a vital tool which I am not good with at all.

     So this may not look like a lot of fence, but it was a lot of work. It's about 2 weeks worth of evenings there. Primarily becuase of the steep learning curve, and because we had to dig out 2 large pine trees which were too close for future growing. One was not bad at all, it took about an hour. The second was twice as large, and took about 3 hours, we finished planting it in the dark, and it's not nearly as crooked as we both thought it would be.

     There are 10 posts running from the corner I'm standing at back to the house, which we intend to be running fence on next. Running the fence is actually vey easy, just slow going.

     We also had to take off a day to dig a trench 100 foot long, by 19 inches deep for electric to the chicken coop. Unbenounced to us, we had to dig it right over a driveway which used to be here, and required a pickax to get through the first foot. Under that was a solid rock base, all the size of your fists or bigger, which required digging 1 by 1 by hand. But that was one 50 feet, the other 50 was tree roots. My grandpa came over and the three of us worked on it about 4-5 hours, then he left and we continued for another 3 hours. A full day of pickaxing through solid rock is a full day. I was ready for the weekend to be over so I can go back to work and get a break!
      Oh, and the bun colony is doing great! They are best buds, playing and grooming all day long. Here they are eating breakfast together.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Bun Room

     I have two angora rabbits, Sapphire and Misty. Sapphire has been on the blog before, and Misty is a recent addition. She came this spring to be a buddy for Sapphire. Some bunny's don't like buddies, but I've always found mine do. I've always had a bunny around, and they've always had friends, be they guinea pigs, another bun, cats, or even goats (my rabbit Harvey used to dump his pellets out the door/or push carrots through the wire to feed "his" goats).

     They previously lived in 2 seperate 4 foot by 4 foot pens, Sapphire is a brood bitch cage, and Misty in a NIC cube bunny condo I made. They sat side by side, and the buns usually slept "together" through the wire, and had never cage fought (though I'm not sure bunny's cage fight, thought they will cage hump). I left them "roommates" like this for a long time, hoping that I could eventually put them together and they would not fight, as buns sometimes do.

     In the house there is the mud room, a separate room that does nothing but hold the washer/dryer and occasionally someone who is sick and doesn't want to deal with the dogs. It's got a concrete floor, and no woodwork. Who wants to heat a whole room that basically does nothing?

     So now it's a bunny colony. :) 

      It is not done yet, as I intend to put down non-slip rubber matting. But I have to pick that up custom cut and haven't got that done.

     I put up a dog-proof latch on the mud room door (Zak can and does open it regularly), bunny proofed the room, added litter boxes, food and water bowls, and a bunch of toys and treats.

     Zip-ties and wire squares can bunny-proof anything.

     Sometimes new buns fight. It can be hard to bond them. I did a bunch of research on it, and found many people who talked about the difficulty they had getting two buns to live together. So far so good, Sapphire quickly humped Misty's head (both are girls, buns hump to establish dominance like dogs do), Misty didn't care, and that was basically the end of it. Hopefully it stays that way and they become good buddies quickly. I have spent the last week telling them, "The bad bun stays in a cage", while giving Sapphire the "yes, you" look.  

     Sapphire is a French Angora, they have clean heads/ears and less belly/foot fiber.

     Misty is an English Angora, they have the full furry faces and ears, and long belly/foot fiber. They also tend to be just a bit smaller. Misty is very friendly and sweet. Sapphire is too, she just has a bit of an ornery streak, where Misty only has the sweet streak.

     From the quick hump they pretty much ignored each other and explored, then Misty claimed a litter box...

     And Sapphire decided to join her. It's the box the fan blows on the most, so I assume that is why it's the favorite. I plan to get a under-the-bed storage container to put there for a two-bun sized box.

     So far so good for now. Hopefully I'll get the rubber matting in the next week or two and finish it. And definitely knocking on wood/crossing fingers that they continue to be buddies and get along together. Sapphire's never been aggressive to Misty, but she *loves* to chase my cats (and occasionally the beagle).

     Right now they are laying nose-to-nose stretched out on the cement directly in front of the fan. :)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Latest Dying Projects

      So, testing the new computer with my camera. So far so good, after trying the first 4 programs offered only to be told, "You don't own that program, would you like to?" after fiddling with it for 10 minutes. Anyways, above is, "Thing That Made Xenia Cringe". It came out exactly as I wanted, but while I continued to add neon colors she tried to guide me toward not making it quite so... loud. But I must say I am tickled pink with it, it's slightly darker/brighter then the picture shows.

     Then there is "Lizard Yarn". I think the name is self explanatory.

     And last but not least the terrible picture of, "Giant Purple Cat Thing From Avatar" which wanted desperately to show up blue in all the pictures, but is in fact very deep violet. This was the closest I could get to the actual color.

     The story of "Giant Purple Cat Thing", starts with my head fiber cat Daisy, AKA Dasia the Mountain Lion of Kewanna.

     She is in charge of all fiber related activities, a post she commandeered after a prolonged illness. When she was sick she could barely walk, and couldn't regulate her body temperature, so she would "nest" in my fiber stash 24/7. Now she is healthy, but she still considers all the fleece her property that I am allowed to spin as long as I am spending the majority of the time making something soft for her.

     I was spinning this skein of yarn, and she was on my lap assisting (her phrasing, not mine), while I watched "Avatar". At the moment the Giant Purple Cat Thing (a Sandrythanator? but I may be off by a few letters) came crashing through the bushes, she jumped up, stared at the television, and yelled, "I'm on TV!"

     I told her that thing looked nothing like her at all. She gave me her famous, "my ape-descendant has the intellect of a stick insect" look; and said, "It looks exactly like me. Are you blind? Look at it! Those are definitely my teeth, and very definitely my claws. I did that to a tree just last week. Is it legal for them to steal my image like that? Shouldn't I get money from this? Did this movie sell well?"

     "Yes, I believe it sold a few copies. Maybe you should contact Jame's Cameron about it tomorrow."

     "I probably should. Do you have his phone number?"

     "Oh, yes, we chat weekly. Runs movie ideas past me. Be sure and tell him you want paid in Whiskas."

     She must have sensed my sarcasm because she got up, giving me a bit of claw in the leg in the process, and walked out the room saying, "I'm going to go push something off a high precipice. Possibly something valuable."

     So when I started to dye this yarn I was thinking of that conversation while spinning it, and had to dye it deep violet with gold spots. Can't wait to see how it knits up.

     Spinning would probably get dull if I didn't have so much assistance.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Wooly Knob Fiber Mill

     Today me and my friend Xenia drove up to LaOtta (outside Fort Wayne) to the Wooly Knob fiber mill. We took in almost 50 lbs. of clean, washed fleece to be turned into rovings. It was awesome. The big mill was very impressive and made gorgeous roving.

     The whole place was amazing. More fleece and fiber then you could imagine, everywhere. I could have lived there as a small creature darting between shelves, touching things all day long. It was like an amusement park for the totally fiber-mad.

     Since our fleece was skirted, cleaned, and washed before we went up (we made an appointment) we were able to stay for the day, have it all done, and bring it all home that night. Fun fun! The owner, Jamie, is an exceptionally nice guy and even stayed till 7:00 so we could finish our load (note to self- 50 lbs. is more then plenty for one day).

     I had two Romney sheep fleeces processed (socks!!!) and 4 alpaca fleeces. I have... ohhh 1, 2, 3, MANY alpaca fleeces left to skirt/wash but it was a dent in the pile. Xenia got all her fleece from her herd done. So now it's back to tinkering with the raw stuff, then hauling another 50 lbs. up there. That is, in case you are wondering, A LOT of fleece. 50lbs. of roving in trash bags filled the back of my truck. :) Most skeins of yarn are between 2-4 ounces, so 4-8 skeins in a pound. So in the end 200-400 skeins of yarn worth of roving. Should keep me spinning for a week or two...

     Most of the Romney, which is a long, lusterous wool, will be spun then dyed. I like dying bright, vibrant, eye-blistering colors which tend to make Xenia wince as I apply them. It's either natural greys and browns, or something that look like it crawled off the nearest neon sign. But I like it, and that's the point. Nobody else needs to like it, and if they don't they can go make something they like and leave me alone.

     One day I will discover how to hook up my camera to the new computer and post pictures of my latest wild-ness. I have three new designs and I call them "Lizard Yarn", "Giant Purple Cat Thing From Avatar" (there's a story to that one), and "Thing That Made Xenia Cringe".

     But anyways, Wooly Knob was awesome, Jamie was beyond nice, and I will be excited to go back later with another load. Meanwhile I must go drool on the fuzziness...