Archive for the “homestead” Category

I totally rocked my Saturday.

There was a lot to do: garbage dropoff, a trip to the hardware store, grocery shopping, fishpond maintenance, cat brushing and yardwork. To be honest, it was a little overwhelming to face a day like this for the first time on my own. But I sat myself down with a cup of coffee (which I made without any sort of coffeemaker at all, because all the coffeemaking devices left with Pirate-Ex, but which was awesome nonetheless and possibly even more awesome for not needing a specialized device) and told myself, "Self, you can be anyone you want to be. Do you want to be someone who goes wah wah wah I can't do this it's too much, I hate being a girl in a hardware store and I know nothing about fishponds or do you want to be someone who goes HECK YEAH (I may have used a stronger word than 'heck') I can TOTALLY do all this! RAWR! I am going to STEP UP!

In a move that should surprise absolutely no one who knows me, I chose RAWR over wah wah. (Useless trivia: my desktop computer is named RAWR.)

And to reward myself for being RAWR I stopped at the local artsycrafts store and bought the sock yarn I've been ooh'ing at - do those stripes say "I want to be Jaywalker Socks"? Maybe! or maybe they'll just be plain socks! - as well as three colourways of Sugar and Cream for washcloths and a new swiffer mop cover as the old one doesn't fit quite as well as I'd like anymore. The mere thought of knitting anything else in cotton makes my fingers seize up in protest, so I'm going to make up a crochet pattern for it if I can't find one I like.

(Conveniently, I had a 20% off everything coupon for the artsycrafts store in my pocket.)

I expected the cats to get between my camera and the yarn, but for the most part they were quite well-behaved. Kipling snuck into the frame once or twice...

Anyway, it was such a successful day. I tossed garbage bags and didn't hesitate to ask for help in the hardware store and bought only healthy groceries within my budget, and I fixed the fishpond all by myself without even getting too wet, and raked leaves and cleared two flowerbeds and I even ran up the driveway, and despite (because of?) all this activity my back isn't even complaining too much. Also, I brushed the cats, since they're shedding for springtime. One cat absolutely loves being brushed and the other only barely tolerates it. Can you guess which cat is which?

Oh yeah, so making coffee without any coffee-making devices! You'll need a heat-resistant glass measuring cup (I'd say a Pyrex, but mine's actually Anchor Hocking. Either way, one of those.) and a good strong paper towel, like Viva. Add the right amount of boiling water into the measuring cup. Now, you don't actually want your water to be boiling when you put the coffee in; you want it to be a few degrees less, but when the water hits the glass it'll cool down just enough. Then put coffee on top of the water. The general recommendation is for two tablespoons of coffee per eight ounces of water (about 240 ml). Don't stir for 90 seconds, just let it float and bloom on top of the water. Then stir and wait another 90 seconds or so. The coffee shouldn't be in the water for more than four minutes total, or it'll get bitter. Pour through the paper towel into your mug; most of the grounds should have already sunk to the bottom of the measuring cup anyway. Et voila, coffee sans coffeemaker!

I bought more coffee at the grocery store. I'm determined to perfect this method. My first attempt was strong but sour; the suggestion I found was to use *more* coffee rather than less to avoid sourness.

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We've had some renovation excitement here at Up Mountain - after three years of struggling with the front door, we finally got to replace it! The old door was difficult to open or close, and its screen door was marvelous at letting bugs in while keeping air out. But now we have a brand new door that opens and closes with the greatest of ease (since it hasn't got a doorknob yet, perhaps this is too easy) and a screen door which will allow air to pass through but not bugs. It even has a sliding screen so that we won't have to swap it out for a storm door in the winter.

As is the way with home renovations, one thing leads to another: we discovered some rot in the sill below the door, which has been repaired... and our deck is now missing a board, which still needs to be replaced. But! New door! The screen door is a lovely green, but the door itself is currently white. We're thinking of painting it red on the inside of the house, but in multiple colours on the outside like a stereotypical gypsy wagon.

While I was outside admiring the door and considering window replacement options, I took pictures of some of the flowers growing in our yard. These red flowers appeared at the edge of the fishpond. I'm not sure what they are, but I like them! I didn't plant anything in the yard and so I'm surprised each spring by the colourful and often fragrant blooms that appear. I'd like to clean up the flowerbeds and plant my own herbs and flowers, but I'm not sure what I'll be disturbing in each bed. Guess they'll just have to grow up all intertangled!

The mountain laurel is beginning to open up. Some of them are more white and some of them are more pink. At first I thought it was a matter of how much sun each laurel was getting, but now I'm not so sure. They are everywhere on the mountain, and they are so pretty! If it weren't for the mountain laurel, I might consider keeping bees - but honey made from mountain laurel nectar (and its cousin-plant the rhododendron) is toxic, so perhaps that would be a bad idea...

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These furry four-legged beasties are the reason I haven't been knitting lately...

Kipling is almost always on the go. He is high-energy and totally ready for a game of tag, chase, or full-on wrestling. He's only a year and a half old, so some of his energy is from being young - but a lot of it is from being a Bengal, and he won't really outgrow it. The down side to his being so tightly wound is that every noise startles him, so I've been trying to spend lots of time near him, convincing him that a sneeze isn't a death sentence. The other day Pirate-Husband dropped the tv remote, and poor Kipling tried to take off running in three directions at once, leaving a floating cloud of short fur behind! When he's in a calm mood, though, he is the sweetest cat. If you pet him just right, he rolls onto his back and paddles his paws in the air, asking for chin and chest rubs. He has velvety-soft fur and he purrs like a motor. Then he falls asleep upside-down with his tongue hanging out...

Floyd has been a lot less clingy since we brought Kipling home. Now that he has someone his own species to play with, he's not trying to wear out his kitten-energy on Pirate-Husband and me. He is still lovey and likes to sit in our laps and watch tv, when he's not otherwise engaged in playtime. It's funny to watch him flop on his side to invite a pouncing, or to see him run over, tag Kipling on the head, and dash off at full speed. Floyd's still super talkative and will wander around the house, prrrting into all the corners or singing to himself. And when it's suppertime, the only way to stop his meowing is to feed him. He's trained us well - but we're also training him; he is learning to sit, lie down, and give high fives. Clever cat is clever (and doesn't really like having his picture taken).

Unfortunately, the cats aren't the best knitting companions. They both have a tendency to beg attention, to flop on my lap between me and my knitting, and to lick, bite, chew, bat at, and otherwise destroy the yarn. The hanging long-tail of my cast on is especially attractive to them. So I haven't been knitting much, and while I enjoy the time with the cats I'm starting to miss it. Hopefully they'll understand that I don't hate them when I shut myself into my room for a bit and work on a baby sweater.

There are other things I've been doing that cut into my knitting time as well. I've started an exercise regimen and called it Operation: Badass, and I'm already starting to see some results of it! If you're interested, I can write more about the cats, the exercise, the bread-baking, and some of the other things I do that aren't fibre-related. Leave a comment and let me know!

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These pictures are a little smaller than usual because I took them with the camera in my phone. I wasn't expecting any of them to come out well enough to share, but some did! So here they are.

I've always thought Jacob sheep were cool, especially the four-horned ones. Some only have two horns, but these all have four. If I ever have a farm, I'd like to have Jacob sheep - their wool is good for spinning, they are good to eat, and horns could be useful for any number of things.

I'd consider having a couple of alpaca, too, but as they're primarily fiber animals, they seem a little bit less useful. Alpaca meat was once considered a delicacy, but apparently no one eats it any more. They are kind of scrawny under all that hair, but they're so cute!

Llamas are also cute, but not on my list. This particular fellow barely moved as I walked around and snapped pictures of him. It was a very hot day, and while he'd been recently shorn, I think he was enjoying the breeze from the electric fan that was aimed at him.

Unfortunately I wasn't able to get any good pictures of the baby Pygora goats. Now those are cute little useful animals that I wouldn't mind having a bunch of - maybe not Pygoras specifically, but goats in general. They're another smallish animal that gives fibre, meat and milk. I'd also consider raising quail and rabbits.

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