Monday, July 31, 2006

The Decorah Weekend

Vesterheim, the Norwegian / American Museum, puts on Nordic Fest every summer. People come from all over the world for this event. There are special musical groups, plays, art displays, an art show, and tours through the museum and the ‘open air’ buildings. There is a Viking group that sets up in one area and there is the area that we traditional “old time” crafters gather to demonstrate. As I said, yesterday, there were four of us (five, if you split Norm and I up).

Woodworker Dave, who makes exquisite wooden boxes and chests and shelves. His main demonstration is dovetail joints. He was bored this weekend, so made a box with random joints – he was going to cut the joints off and start over another time, but Norm traded spatulas for the box, since Norm fell in love with the uniqueness of it. I said a unique box needed to store unique things and should have “Unique” painted on the side.

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These are two joints on the box ... notice the different spacings and different shapes

Potter Jasper has a wheel along and makes pots while talking. He said he could do it with his eyes closed but I never saw him do it; however I believe him, as he looks at his crowd of visitors while working. I am collecting pottery from him. I have gotten a special color for my pots – he calls it the “Tim glaze,” if I remember right. Every time we get together, I have gotten something from him. I got a small pot, this time, to make a miniature butter churn. I then ordered a pot to hang on the wheel for my flax water. And ordered some “plowls” – his word for a plate that has a lip like a bowl – a larger bowl for eating when you take your bowl (or plate) to someone’s tent for supper. Jasper is wonderful with children and spends a long time with them if they are truly interested in his craft.

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Blacksmith Tom is known world-wide. He is an artist and can make wonderful things from a piece of iron. This weekend, he was working on a decorative piece for the Museum, to go on a door. Tom was the one who started the idea of the Traditional crafts at Decorah. He has been working with Vesterheim for years. Last year, we were invited to join on Tom’s suggestion. Tom also started the Traditional crafts at Pepin, Wisconsin, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Wilder’s birth place. We were invited to join him several years ago and go every year on the LIW celebration days.

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A sample door to show how Tom can do locks as well as hinges and decorations
We had two people join us who do Traditional crafts but were not set up in the “period” way. Bill is a teacher at the Swedish Institute and does “Norden” characters.

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Scott does knives and has some beautiful knives to show. The handles are generally of antler.

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We missed the family that normally comes – they are homesteaders to the max! They live near Pepin, WI, and come to the Pepin festival; last year was their first at Decorah, too. I will make sure I have pictures of them when we do the Pepin fest. They have a farm where they raise most of their food for animals and people. They do not depend too much on buying from stores. I should ask them if they’ve ever been to a Wal-Mart?

Our beds were comfortable, but that was the only thing comfortable about sleeping this weekend. We had heat, of course – but Norm had brought along a fan and Jasper had extra lengths of cord so he and we ran extension cords from behind his tent to his fan and then across the square to our tent. The fans made a little bit of a stir of air when there was no air. And it cooled off about 3:00 each night. But the noise – traffic, street sweepers, garbage trucks, delivery vans, sirens! None of us live in highly congested areas so noise is not something any of us are used to. Friday night, also, there was a rock band that played until about 1:00. They made up with noise for the lack of talent they had. It echoed and boomed all through the tents and our heads. If it was loud for us, how did the audience survive that noise? No wonder people are going deaf at earlier ages!

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On Saturday, as I have said, the heat index was about 110º. Norm and I had planned on staying overnight and tearing down in the morning, then taking a leisurely way home. As Norm sat there, melting in the heat, he came up with one of the best ideas he’s ever had (next to marrying me, of course!) … we tore down on Saturday night and headed south west and found a motel in New Hampton. As we watched the news that night, in the comfort of a cool, quiet motel (with a shower!), we found that the heat index was higher than I thought (I had guestimated it to be about 100º) and that it was going to be hotter the next day. The night time temperature was to be about 85º - not comfortable sleeping if there is no breeze. Smart guy I have there!!

Sunday we headed home, but that’s another story for tomorrow. It looks to be a beautiful (hot) day today – you have a beautiful (cool) day!

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Well, we are home!

Norm and I went to Decorah for our Nordic Fest demonstrations. We were praying for good weather, but no-one was listening. We had temperatures of 98º and heat indexes of 1105º to 110º both Friday and Saturday mornings but it ‘cooled down’ after lunch so our indexes were probably only 95º to 100º.

Miserable for working in costumes, miserable for guests. We had fewer guests this year, and no surprise. If we hadn’t been obligated to be there, we wouldn’t have been, either.

Our weekend started with leaving here early Thursday morning. We had to go to a suburb of Rochester, MN, to collect mattresses .. a Rendezvous friend sews many things, and mattresses are some of them. We have the loan (Katie will not sell) of two single beds, so are finally cot-free and can sleep on normal beds while camping!

Then went through Harmony, MN, where there is an Amish settlement. I get a thrill out of seeing the horses and buggies going down the highway. We stopped at an antique / gift shop (where I found my first patterned butter pats) and I took a picture of this horse tied to the side of the store. I told myself that this was for my grand-niece, Erin, so that I wouldn’t feel like a tourist (so, Erin, you’d better enjoy it!).

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I also took a picture of one of the signs on the road. I get a kick out of them, too! (I am easy to please!)

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We got to Decorah early in the afternoon and spent a hot hour trying to figure out where we would put the tent. Last year, we just had a lean-to type of situation; this year we had the full tent and a fly, as well. It was hot putting the tent up, but we persevered … what else can we do when we are obligated?

By the time we figured out where we wanted to go, which was exactly where we went last year, Woodworker Dave showed up; he has no choice for his tent – it’s so big with all his lovely articles to display. His lovely wife was there to help him set up – they live an hour away, so Dave chose to go home each night to air conditioning and hot showers.

Then Potter Jasper showed up and we helped him decide where to put his tent. This weekend was his first for his new tent, so he had to do some measuring to see if he would fit.

The place where we demonstrate and sell is a small square surrounded by Norwegian houses and buildings that have been brought in from surrounding farm areas to have on display. We had a little more room to spread out since three of our normal gang didn’t make it this year because of differing reasons.

The last to show up was Blacksmith Tom. He came to start setting up just after we got back from a very filling meal at the local Mexican restaurant. Too filling – everyone was pretty miserable all night long! (Dave said he had recurring visits from his meal during the night!) Tom brings a forge and an anvil and other heavy stuff, so the guys helped put up his area while I supervised. I’m a great supervisor, even though I was threatened with hammers being thrown at me because of my suggestions.

I will give more details about the weekend on my next post … here are some pictures of our tent as it was being set up.

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Norm, resting in the shade of the tent before the ridge pole is up

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The beds are set in place (we thought)

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It was cooler to make the beds before the sides were up

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We moved the beds to a right angle so we had more walking room

As I said, it was hot, hot, hot! Right now our heat index is ranging around 107º. I just went out to take more ice for the chicken waters and check on them. Don’t know what I’d do if some were showing stress except dowse them in the water! But I have to check often, anyway! However, they are panting but doing reasonably well, considering. We have all the doors open and the south wind is at least stirring the heat around.

It was a beautiful, if hot, day. You have a beautiful cool day!!

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A strange noise this morning

I was out in the barn doing chores when I heard what sounded like someone strangling .. it was one of the babies – trying to crow! These guys are almost seven weeks old and are starting to feel like they are roosters. It was the funniest sound! Only those of you who have raised cockerels could really duplicate the sound! That means my babies are growing up!

We have had discussions, our co-op of four families. When it is time to butcher these guys (these will be harder to say goodbye to than the white Cornish Cross, believe me!!), we may just take them to town. It costs only $1.50 per bird for butchering, wrapping and freezing. I don’t think I’d do it for that, but it will be a lot easier on all of us – we were exhausted after thirty birds last time, what would be our energy level after forty-five?

We are nearly ready to head out in the morning – Decorah, Iowa, for the Vesterhiem. I have my camera packed already, so I can sneak in lots of pictures. Now, we will not be in character this time, so taking pictures will be easier! We are excited because we will be seeing friends that are nearly family to us. And I am excited because we will actually be sleeping on ‘real’ beds, not cots!!! We will collect our new mattresses tomorrow on the way to Decorah.

Norm has spoons and paddles and spatulas ready to go – and I will be demonstrating flax spinning.

I will be in touch when we get back on Sunday night. You have a beautiful day and a beautiful weekend.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Cleaning the barn

I have been having problems with my six-week old chicks – I have lost a total of five out of the fifty this past week. I have tried a lot of things – vinegar in the water, medicated feed, but Candy suggested that we totally clean up and sterilize the area the babies are in.

Yesterday was a hot day, but we started early. Candy and Wayne came over to help and we started by cleaning out the runway … the floor is cement, so we will be able to clean the runway easier now that we have all of the junk off the floor. We also cleaned out the corners that I had not gotten around to, limed the floor where the feed bins were moved to and got a door open in the south side of the barn. We made temporary half-doors with pallets to keep the chicks from going out the wrong door and to keep them out of the feed bin area.

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Clean runway

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Wayne at the half-door (sounds like a movie)

We sprayed 10% bleach water on the runway and in the raked yard to help kill any buggies that are killing my babies. Wayne weed-whacked the yard, even getting rid of the tall grass next to the fence.

Oofta, it was tough! All four of us worked all morning, then had tuna-fish sandwiches and watermelon for lunch. Went out to check the chicks and found that the littler ones could sneak through the slats of the snow-fence because the tall grass was gone. It evidentially made a good enough barrier so they didn’t think they could get through. Little “Tiny” was the first – he’s a brave little explorer. So we put boards around to stop them; we were going to put wire around this morning, but we are out of wire, so I raked up piles of hay that had dropped out of the neighbor Bill’s bales he had made in the pasture. I put the piles around fence to hopefully fool the boys into thinking it’s a solid fence again.

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The hay makes them think it's a solid fence

Of course, Tiny was trying to eat grass through the gate, so I hope he doesn’t think he can squeeze through there!

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Notice how small Tiny is compared to a normal sized cockerel

During breaks, we hung over the pen wall and watched the boys scratching. I want to keep one for my rooster, but can’t chose, right now. There are so many pretty ones. We have chosen two, though, I think. We are not sure which breeds they are, but these are the two (of the moment). But, then? Maybe tomorrow another one will catch my eye!

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"Harley" - notice the chaps - bare on the inside, feathery on the outside

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The white and tan one has blue legs - he says his name is "Rupert"

Right now, the boys are doing well. Whether it was the vinegar or the changed feed or just dumb luck, we seemed to have stopped the “plague,” and our cleaning and sanitizing should help keep it from recurring!

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The boys peeking out the gate

It is a beautiful day – it started out with a rainbow. You have a beautiful day!

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Good news!

I just heard from brother Charles this morning about my nephew. I am just going to put the whole message here.

I want to thank all of you who put Charles J in your thoughts and prayers.

Have a beautiful day!

Good morning everyone. I got back to Ardmore late yesterday afternoon. I had talked with CJ (Charles Joseph) at about 8:00, but he had not heard the results yet (it was only 5:00 there). He called me at 1:00 this morning with GREAT NEWS!!!!. He will not have to have the surgery on Saturday. He will however still have to have the spinal tap.

Let me try to explain what they found.

They performed a MRI, CRI, blood work, and other tests yesterday. Several weeks ago, CJ had a sudden loss of the ability to interpret words. The letters and numbers appeared all mixed up. The doctors diagnosed it as dyslexia. They took all kinds of tests and found nothing wrong other than he couldn’t read. After awhile his abilities returned and they continued to test. What the tests showed yesterday was that the blood showed a chemical imbalance in his system. This imbalance caused his blood pressure to elevate. That elevation caused swelling in some arteries in his brain which in turn caused them to put pressure on some nerves and areas that control the language function of the brain. This caused the dyslexia. Once the pressure returned to normal, his capabilities returned also. This swelling in the arteries was verified in yesterdays tests – they noticed a movement in the arteries in his brain from the MRI. They saw a reduction in the size of the arteries and this with the fact of the chemical imbalance cause the doctors to determine the problem. The great news is that this chemical imbalance can be controlled by medication. They told him yesterday that he would not have to have the surgery.

There was a very relieved young man on the phone this morning and a joyful and thankful father. I will not be flying up to Alaska. He said that he doesn’t need me for the spinal tap. The doctors are going to continue to monitor him because what they found in him may be a reason that others have dyslexia. This chemical imbalance that they found may be in others and therefore a potential solution/cure for dyslexia. Some of the experts/scientists that they called in for CJ’s situation are very interested in this diagnosis and want to continue to study him. Should be free if that is the case.

Anyway, long story short, God is the Great Healer!!!! I give him all the praise and glory for educating the doctors and giving them the skill to interpret these tests and the results. Praise the Lord!!

Thank you for all your prayers, love, and support. CJ really felt this worldwide network. He thanks you from the bottom of his heart as do I. He is going to come down to Oklahoma sometime in Jan-Mar 2007.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Maniac Monday

Carla is up with her cool stuff again! When was the last time you got sunburned?

You know, I really can't say - I am pretty careful about being out in the sun. For the last 10+ years, I have worked during the day, inside, with long sleeves (long dress, petticoats, etc) so have not been tempted to be in the sun. I generally am outside in the morning, evening or when it's not hot and sunny. I get a touch of pink, sometimes, on my arms if I wear short sleeves now, but not a whole lot.

Sorry, guys, I'm a wimp (and proud of it).

Oh, Lordy! I’m glad I’m not a man!

Just the other day, I thought that thought again. I think it very often and am so grateful I’m a woman! I think that as it’s pouring down rain and Norm is outside the car changing a tire. I think it during a blizzard when I’m toasty warm inside and Norm’s struggling to dig a path so we can drive the car out of the garage (well, that is not an action we have very often anymore – being retired means we can both sit and watch a blizzard and cancel most plans).

So, that other day, I thought it again! Norm was out in the blazing sun, changing oil in the car. I was sitting in the shade, painting poles, again (painting the roses red!). Now, why he in the sun and I in the shade? I chose my spot to paint – he chose the chore, but never moved the car into the shade.

This brings a question to mind. Is it a “man thing” to suffer? Or do they just not think of things like “relative comfort?” Is it because the man has always been the hunter, the breadwinner, the protector that makes him want and desire to be uncomfortable in his actions?

A woman, now, being a nurturing soul, nurtures herself as well as others. Which means, of course, finding the most comfortable way to do things, even for herself. So I found myself the most comfortable place to paint (painting the roses red) while Norm found the most uncomfortable place to change oil. And we were both relatively happy!

But my obsessing question is: if I am “painting the roses red,” why do I have blue paint on my face, blue paint on my pants, blue paint on my knees, blue paint on my fingers and blue paint on the garage floor?

You have a beautiful day!

Some time saving / energy saving ideas

Now, I am the laziest person I know, and proud of it. You can ask anyone. If there is work to be done, I will figure out the easiest, quickest way to do it. I love shortcuts of any kind. Sitting down is my favorite sport.

So, when it comes to doing anything in the kitchen, even though I love to cook and bake, I am always thinking of timesaving ways to do the cooking and / or baking.

Cookies – Mr Hollow Leg demands cookies. If I can’t bake them, he has ‘town cookies’ … and I would rather he ate mine and not have all the junk in the ‘town cookies.’ But, being lazy, I think about making cookies more than I do. And in the summer, heating up the oven for a batch of cookies is not my idea of fun.

So what I figured out was this: Mix up the cookies (oh! how hard that is, but I persevere!), making sure the batch is able to be stored in the fridge. My favorite is a refrigerator cookie with brown sugar and spices – almost a spice cookie – well, it IS a spice cookie! That hard work done, I roll the dough in plastic wrap and carefully place in a flat space in the fridge (THAT is hard to find!) for a day – but the dough can stay in the fridge up to two weeks – haven’t tested it longer.

On another day when I am rested up after about eight hours of sitting at the computer, I take out a roll of dough. (That just reminded me of ‘Young Frankenstein’ – “Roll in the hay!”) I slice up a few cookies and bake them in my toaster oven. I line the tray of the oven with foil, bake about two batches, placing the done ones on paper towels, and voila! Fresh cookies to go into my lovely antique cookie jar with a few sitting on the lovely antique plate that sits under the jar. (The jar comes from my Nana through my Auntie Pete, who willed it to ME in her will. The plate comes from Candy who had started collecting pink depression ware but, when she saw the cookie jar, said the plate belonged with the jar.)

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Oops ... need more cookies, I see!

No heating up of the kitchen, less energy used for the stove and for me! And fresh cookies every few days for Norm.

Another timesaving plan is waffles. When I struggle up after an exhausting few hours at the computer to make breakfast, I occasionally make waffles. That is an exhausting task in itself. But Norm is selfish – he wants waffles more than once every six months or so. So I make waffles once in a while, but make a large batch. After getting those done (I need to rest for several days after making waffles), I put the extras in a plastic bag in the fridge. Then when Norm wants waffles again, I bring out the heavy waffle iron – it weighs at least 15 pounds – and warm the already baked waffles for just a few minutes for that fresh made taste. They are better that way than heated in the microwave. Plus, after I bring the waffles out of the fridge, I don’t know if I have enough energy to push a button on the microwave.

Now, if I could only figure out how to wash dishes or water plants or weed while sitting down. Of course, the TRUE sport of chair-sitting requires total stillness except for moving fingers for typing on keyboards. If I try doing dishes sitting down, I would ruin the sport! So, I will have to continue to wash dishes standing up, and try not to fall asleep in the dishwater.

I will have a lazy day - you have a beautiful day.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Please help

I do not often ask for prayers for anyone. I generally feel that one prayer from one person is enough to get the responses we need.

However, in this case, I want to send the word out for others to help my nephew. Charles Joseph is my brother’s only child. He is twenty-four and a fine young man. He lives and works in Alaska with friends; his mother is in Florida, his dad is on the road (as many of you know, if you are following his photo-journey in “Chuck’s Adventures”), heading back to Oklahoma .

Charles sent me a note this morning that he had heard from Charles (Joseph) that he is going into the hospital for a battery of tests.

Charles J has had an EKG and a CT scan (about his dyslexia and it's sudden appearance). They will be performing another battery of tests starting on the 28th and continuing until the 31st. Saturday the 29th is going to be the scary day. Dependant upon the results of the tests on the 28th, they may perform a spinal tap and stereotatic biopsy (drilling a hole in his head and removing a small sample of brain tissue to check for bleeding, cancer, or signs of scarring/lesions).

The doctors don’t know what the problem is, so they have to go this route, I guess.

So whatever God you pray to, however you pray, please put Charles J into your thoughts. He is my only nephew on my side of the family and I want to see him safe so he can come home sometime for me to hug him.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

And another place to go

I have joined the Homesteading Webloggers ring … it’s a loose-knit group that seems to work like this: You click on the link on my page (bottom left) and it takes you to the web site – along the side is a list of other members that you can click on and find easily. Kind of like the list I have of my friends (some of them, anyway) only more people listed.

Try it, you might like it! Have a beautiful day!

Friday, July 21, 2006

New blogs to look at

Carla Lynne showed me a place to go called “Blogs of Summer.” I have put the link on my side-bar. This is a place that has bunches and bunches and bunches of places to go.

It also is running a contest for the best blog in many different categories. Carla Lynne has been nominated for best Blogger in the “mommy and chicks ” section. You need to stop by and vote for her!

This new blog (to me) does have a list of many bloggers, so you can head on over and browse – perhaps find some new friends. I know I am going to!

Have a beautiful day!

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Painting the roses red

Every time I get a paint brush in my hands, a song comes into my head .. the one from Disney’s Alice in Wonderland where the guards paint white roses red.

Yesterday I started painting tent poles. Next week we go to Decorah, Iowa for the big Vesterheim celebration.

This is the Norwegian event of the year! People from all over the world, especially Norway, come Last year we were honored to be asked to come demonstrate. Norm took his shave horse and worked on spoons; he sold more spoons there than anywhere. He even sold a pair of Scandinavian butter knives to a Norwegian gal who took them home for herself and her mother!

In talking to the Organizer, he mentioned that there would be spinning and weaving demonstrations in the museum; we decided, between the two of us, that I would spin flax.

Flax, when spun, is called linen. The Scandinavians used linen and wool; cotton did not grow up in the North countries. Few people spin flax nowadays. I am not fantastic at it but I do it well enough to show the process. I also have a small loom that I have warped with commercial linen and use the homespun for the weft to demonstrate what it looks like before washing.

Back to the poles, however. When we bought our marquee tent five years ago, I found some wonderful period correct flowered material to use as a privacy curtain; this enables us to open the front part of the tent yet have the bedroom part hidden (sort of). The material has a lot of blue in it, so Katie suggested I paint the tent poles blue to highlight the blue in the flowers.

Katie loaned us (would not sell) two single bed frames so that we can have ‘real’ beds, not cots for camping. The mattresses out of lightweight foam are made and Norm has been making the slats. The beds are blue, so that encouraged me to paint the poles.

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Hence the “Painting the Roses Red” song. I will finish them today and we will have nice blue poles to brighten up the tent.

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Lil is helping paint!

For those of you who don’t know, when we demonstrate, it is “period correct” … we generally run around the 1870s, but sometimes move to the early 1800s or pre-Civil War. Nearly everything we have is as close to correct as possible. Our new beds look like ones made back then (except the metal rails, and those are hidden). The tent is made like back then, as well. Marquees were very popular for families, Officers’ tents during the war, and any one else that had large amounts of people or things to move. We have a commode that is a copy of an antique, a wash stand, and cooking pots, as well. We are organizing the camp set-up more, since we have only camped for a few days at a time, but are doing more camping now that we are “retired.” (Our modern pop-up trailer that Katie and I bought is for modern camping.)

I am so excited about the beds, because we have been sleeping on modern cots that are NOT comfortable, are narrow and tip over easily. Also, they are low to the ground and I have trouble getting up or down without support when something is that low.

I will take pictures in Decorah to show our setup.

We had threats of storms yesterday, but only got a wet driveway with the rain. East and south of us had hail and tornado warnings, but we missed most of that. Nothing like Carla Lynne had these past few days!

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This was at 3:00 in the afternoon!

My volunteer sunflowers from the bird feeder are starting to bloom. You can see the seed heads starting to form on this picture. I am tempted to plant a bed of sunflowers for the birds, not just depend on the volunteers!

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One thing (of many) that I love about summer is open windows. Nearly every window in the house is open 24 hours a day and it smells so fresh and outdoorsy in the early morning!

It looks to be a beautiful day today – you have a beautiful day.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

It’s going to get hot again

We have enjoyed a few days of coolness, but the humidity is rising. There are promises of rain, but we’ll see if that happens!

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Goldfinch on feeder stand
Monday morning (about 2:00), the temperature was 87º. Tuesday morning, same time, the temperature was 57º. Now today, already, it is about 75º and humid and breezy.

We found Lil last night! Our orange cat had gone ‘walk-about” this summer. A combination of Tasha chasing her and the fireworks on the 4th of July caused her to disappear. We had been leaving food out for her but had never seen or heard her.

Last night Norm and I were out looking for two pullets that had flown the fence; we heard Lil crying, so found her in the tall grasses. I had to follow her into the corn (taller than I can reach up) before she let me pick her up.

I brought her in the house, but Lucky was mad and we had cat fights all night. Now both are outside, hiding in separate corners of the yard. But we have her back, which is great! She will probably have to be a mostly outside cat if the two cats can’t get along.

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Lil by the barn

Yesterday we moved the nest boxes from the middle section of the barn to the east section. All the pullets and the three hens are now residing together and the hens have found the nest boxes again. We actually got three eggs, for the first time in a long time!

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Pullets investigating nest boxes

The babies are going outside in the fresh air and green grass – really enjoying it. However, I lost one this morning – a barred rock cockerel was dying when I went out to feed. It might be Coccidiosis – and I found a ‘recipe’ for a home cure; vinegar. It says one tablespoon of vinegar to a quart of water. So I will take some vinegar out and see if that helps. There is another little brown one that is looking droopy!

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Babies in the runway, going outside

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Buff Orpington cockeral and White Leghorn, enjoying the fresh air

The other day, when it was so hot, Norm worked on spoons in the kitchen. He used a clamp on a chair to hold the spoons and he chiseled out the bowls on several. He needs to get more spoons done before next week. We go to Decorah for the Vesterheim celebration and he sells quite a few spoons there. I will be demonstrating flax spinning.

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Norm gouging out a spoon bowl

It looks like it will be a beautiful day – you have a beautiful day!

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Milkweed or Butterfly weed?

Candy D and I were talking the other morning (on Yahoo Messenger – don’t you love technology?) about Butterfly Bush, Butterfly Weed and Milkweed.

I have taken a picture of a butterfly weed, and we were discussing all of the flowers that are close to each other for names and or type.

Now, the Butterfly bush is a shrub, and a beautiful shrub it is. It’s Latin name is Buddleja davidii and is a woody shrub. It comes from China in several flower colors--including white, pink, and purple--and is a staple in both hummingbird and butterfly gardens.

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Disclaimer - not my picture - I got it from the Web

I would like to eventually get one for myself, but I have to tame the wild country outside my door, first. I am struggling (well, not struggling enough) with thistle and grasses in my herb garden and around the few plants that I do have. I don’t think I can justify the cost of a shrub until this is taken care of. (Maybe in a hundred years?)

Butterfly Weed is sometimes mistakenly called “Bush”, but it is perennial.. Asclepias tuberosa (Asclepiadaceae) is the Latin name. It is an extremely hardy, long-lived perennial native to North America. Butterfly Weed may take up to two years to become established from seed, and then it should bloom every year.

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Disclaimer - this IS my own picture!

Note: Also called Pleurisy Root: it is a member of the Milkweed family, so most parts of the plant contain toxins. Poultices for sores were made from the powdered root. A tea from the root encourages sweating. A tea can also be made to induce vomiting.

Again, something I want, but after the jungle is gone outside my door. Wish I would wave a magic wand and have the fairies till and work my gardens. I am a gardener planner, not a weeder! And no one but me to do the work, as Norm has the vegetable gardens to struggle with. HIS fairy isn’t working too well, either!

Sometimes Milkweed is called Butterfly weed and no wonder! They are nearly the same! Milkweed’s Latin name is Asclepias .. and Butterfly Weed is just one of over 200 different plants throughout the world.

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Disclaimer - again, not my own picture

It is suggested that you plant two or three different kinds of Milkweed, including Butterfly Weed, to attract your Monarch butterflies. I was surprised to find that you can actually buy a common Milkweed plant – the very same kind as most people pull from their gardens. I know – I did, until I found that lovely caterpillar on one.
So, until my massive mess outside gets tamed, I am going to allow the Milkweeds to run rampant. When (if) I get it tamed, I will plant more Milkweeds and Butterfly Weeds and even a Butterfly Bush … love those butterflies!

Have a beautiful day!

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Oh, Lordy, it’s hot!

Heat index for Storden is 104º! We have had the air running for 6 hours and it’s still “only” 77º in the house. There is a strong, hot south wind.

This reminds me of Norm’s family ranch in Western South Dakota … the wind was always so hot – you didn’t know if it was better with or without the wind, and temperatures were about what we have today. However, they don’t have the humidity. But they didn't have air conditioning back then. We would lay in front of a fan and gasp for air.

Reminds me of my uncle's North Dakota farm back when I was growing up. The boys slept in the upstairs of the old farm house, and they didn't have air conditioning, either. Yes, they DID have electricity!! I was born AFTER electricity, no matter what people say! I would sleep in the second bedroom. There was a bedroom on the west, a bedroom on the east and a hall between. We kept the windows open and the doors open and laid on top of the sheets and gasped for air (except the night that the adults were gone and we never felt the heat because of the shenanigans we pulled - but that's another story).

A side note - Candy read an article the other day that compared heat and cold through-out the United States - North and South Dakota are rated as the states with the most extreme heat swings - and also are the hottest states in the country, on the whole... And, no, dry heat is not any better than humid heat if it gets up there where the thermometer breaks!

Our humidity is only 40% but the dew point (don’t know how they figure that) is 69%. That makes it close to tropical … if I remember right, tropical hits in at about 70%.

Minnesota is having a “mild” drought – no rain to speak of since the middle of June. And June only had 1 inch. I hate to admit a “mild” drought when I think of my brother-in-law and their neighbors suffering through the 7th year of severe drought. But our corn and soybeans, they say, are crying for water.

Now, this seems to happen nearly every year .. I remember complaints of heat and drought last year and they had a bumper crop in the fall! So don’t know if the Minnesota farmers are complainers, worriers or if this really IS a “mild” drought.

I went out to check the chickens and gave them fresh water. They looked comfortable – at least as comfortable as you can expect, but none of them looked like they were hitting any danger zones.

I took out some cat food. Someone (can’t remember who) on Homestead Blogger told me to feed more protein to get more eggs … so I mix cheap cat food and powered milk, add warm water and soak until it’s soft-ish. They love it and it is supposed to help them lay more eggs.

I took some pictures (not with my new telephoto) of the little guys. They are almost 5 weeks old now. When we butcher, I am going to pick one out to be my flock rooster, and am having a trouble picking him out, so far. Of course we will wait until they are bigger, but still … it’s fun to try to chose, now.

I have some with feathered legs …

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I have some Buff Orpingtons …

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Now, this one, I don’t know what he is, but his coloring is very interesting…

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And this little one, the one laying down in front… he’s smaller than the others – I was promised an ‘exotic’ as an addition to my bunch, and he might be it, but what he is, I don’t know.

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Stay cool and have a beautiful day!

Oh, wow!

I got a telephoto lens for my camera today ….they say a picture is worth a thousand words.. So, here is one shot, taken from my kitchen window.

Number one is normal, no zoom. Number two is the highest zoom I can get. Number three is the new lens, high zoom.

Enjoy – I sure am, already!

Have a beautiful day!

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Llamas. Again!

Candy and Wayne and I too Erin to see Bill, the llama man yesterday morning. It was a surprise for Erin, but a pleasant one.

Before we left here, Erin needed to go see the chickens and check for eggs. She is fascinated by chickens, as are most children.

We went over and Erin was awed about seeing llamas in the barnyard. Of course, with the heat, they weren’t all out, but we saw the three new babies – two of them less than twenty-four hours old yesterday!

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Little girl born July 12th

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Little boy born July 13th
One of the boys is a bottle baby. For some strange reason, he had no desire to nurse from Momma. Bill tried every trick he could think of, but baby wanted a bottle, not Momma. Usually the problem is the other way around. So Bill milked Momma for a while, to get the co lustrum, then dried her up and is feeding baby himself.

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Bottle baby
Now, I learned another thing about llamas, but this could pertain to most animals. If the male baby is cuddled and made a fuss of, then he will bond with humans, not his own kind. When he is an adult male, he can become dangerous because of breeding ideas in his head. You can neuter him, but if he’s a prize and you want to use him for stud, you need to do something else. So Bill ignores baby when he’s around and baby is in a yard with the other babies so he learns to play with them. It was touching to see the baby nuzzling Bill and chewing on his belt with Bill standing there, arms crossed and not even looking at him.

That would be tough for me – I want to cuddle and love all babies!

We saw Wendy Darling and Peter Pan (the first babies of the year that I was allowed to name), and they are really growing up. A lady saw Wendy Darling on Bill’s web page (one of the ones I took) and wanted to buy her. She is not weaned, yet, but Bill said he might sell her if the price is right.

Erin was allowed to lead and jump Caramel, just like Ashley and Jessica did. Candy got all excited when she learned that llamas do obstacle courses similar to dogs. She used to train dogs for them, so is extremely interested in helping Bill train for obstacle work.

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Erin and Caramel

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Candy, Erin and Caramel
Bill offered to lease two llamas (they cannot be alone) to Candy and she could train them and enter them into the fairs, but she’s not ready for that this year, and will think about if for next year.

Bill has a great plan – he leases llamas (always at least two) out to 4-H kids for the summer. They work the animals, show them, get any prizes, and then Bill takes them back for the winter. It is cheaper than buying them, and there is no winter maintenance for the children. Candy could do the same, if she chose.

It was very hot yesterday, so we didn’t stay long. Bill also had other company .. he had met some people at breakfast in town yesterday and invited them to come see the llamas … which they did. Wayne, also, was feeling the heat and the effects of the storm we had the night before. His fibromyalgia is getting a little bit better but some things still bother him a lot. So we came home, had a cool drink of water. Candy and Erin emptied out Nana’s antique depression glass cookie jar (which means new cookies today) and Wayne helped Norm level up the “new” fridge.

We got C&W’s old fridge when they got a new one. Norm has set it up in the mud room for our second fridge. It will be VERY useful when we start getting the (hopefully) dozen eggs a day once the teenagers start laying.

A hot but beautiful day. You have a beautiful day.