Whimsical and Homespun Art Creations with a Little Rural Living Thrown In

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

It's Shearing Time for Everyone

No animal could avoid the shears around here lately.  The first two to fall prey  were Izzie and Gabby.  They went to see Dr. Julie.  Yep, it was spaying time.  A time dreaded by myself (and them to I'm sure, if they could understand).  They seemed to take it well with the exception of some cold tummies.  

March came in like a lion for the sheep, since the gentleman arrived at Farmerboy's to do some shearing.  Farmerboy was all smiles with that chore finished.  Luke the llama posed happily for a photo op, since he didn't get sheared... this time!

The rest of the crew seemed to enjoy the loss of 4 or more pounds each!  They were scratching themselves on anything they could find.    Last year's lambs were bouncing around the barnyard happy to be free of the excess hair. 

Even Max seemed to be a little more mellow.  :)

I have been spending the last week skirting fleeces and bagging them for proper storage until they can be scoured.  There are some extremely beautiful colorways.  The nice thing about Shetland fleeces is the variety of crimp and locks all on the same sheep.  It is just amazing!  I am going to be putting quite a few to the side for personal spinning and will share some photos later.  But I have to say, there is one lamb that is coal black from skin to tip with locks in excess of 7 inches.  Crazy gorgeous!!  I washed a couple of locks, and they are fantastic.  The whole fleece is like that... A spinner's dream. :)

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Valentine's Day or Easter?

The weather makes me think that it should have been Easter not Valentine's Day.  Trust me... I am NOT complaining.  ;)  So, it honestly didn't seem odd when the kids stopped in last night with a Valentine's purchase from Theisens... Baby chicks! 
Farmerboy always loved having chickens.  Believe it or not, his wife does not eat eggs!  She does like to bake though, so they will come in handy for that.  He wanted to get 12, and they compromised on 10.  Great compromise for him since his lovely bride did not really want chickens.  I have to admit... I always loved raising chickens.  Here is a close up of one of the crazier looking ones!
Aren't they darling?  It always amazes me when I hold on to them.  For those that question a higher being, look at these tiny little critters.  Only a higher being could create such a wonder.  Absolutely amazing!

I hope everyone had a Happy Valentine's Day.  Ours was quiet and that is okay with me.  Tomorrow is our anniversary... twenty-seven years and counting.  :)

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Down on the Farm Visit

There has been a lot going on lately keeping me close to home.  But on one of the warmer days, Mr. Hollow talked me into visiting the kids' farm.  Farmerboy has been laying flooring in the kitchen and working on his workshop.  I laugh at the fact that I did not take any photos of his hard work... just some animal shots. ;) 
In the shop, Farmerboy has three new furry mice catchers:  Here is mama kitty.  I call her Moon Pie.  If she looks directly at you, her eyes are as big as Moon Pies... I swear!!  She is the sweetest tempered cat with the tiniest feet for her size.

This is a photo of her kitten Patches.  I think her fur looks like someone dripped paint all over.  On her other side, she sports some big splotches.  Patches is very vocal and one heck of a climber!

I cannot remember the name of this one.  Isn't she a beauty?  This is Patches sister.  She is quiet and like her sister loves to climb.  Her favorite spot is looking out the new window Farmerboy just put in.  I imagine she is wondering about where all the mice went, since their arrival.  It didn't take long for the pests to stop going in their domain!

Here are the piglets Farmerboy purchased in the fall.  Oh my, they sure have grown.  It never ceases to amaze me how furry pigs are.   I was there for feeding time.  There is one particular one that makes so much noise when she eats, it is funny.  Maybe the noise has a calming effect on her.  I am not sure. 

The one to the left is not growing like the others, but she can mix it up with the best of them.  They have just got moved to their new digs with plenty of space to sprawl out and relax.  :)

My favorite part of the farm is the barn.  If you go into the upper loft, the ceiling is amazingly high.  I helped the kids stack hay inside over the summer... That seems like such a long time ago.  *sigh*

I have always had a love of barns.  They have that rustic cozy feeling inside, and the hay stacked makes it even better.  It saddens me how many wooden barns in the area have fallen to decay with new steal sheds taking their place.  I understand the reasons for the progression, but it is still sad none the less.

Oh yeah, the sheep have their own cozy shed.  It use to be a home to pigs back in the day but is a perfect spot for the sheep.  They love it!  As you can see, they have quiet the wool jackets going on.  I believe they are scheduled to be sheared next weekend.  Farmerboy's flock this year has a great variety of colors and textures of wool.  There will even be some solid black lamb fleeces coming off this year.  Very exciting to this spinner!  :)

Always a couple of interested sheep wondering if there is some feed in the bucket!  LOL

Farmerboy's wife always can be counted on to pitch in with taking care of the animals.  This girl's not afraid to shovel some pig manure.   And if you ever smelled pig manure, you would know she is a Saint for helping out!   Whew wee!!!

I think they are pretty happy on their farm.  That day was such a fun time and makes me think that spring is around the corner.  Hard to believe it is only the end of January!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Hello 2017 ... Farewell to 2016

Where has the year gone?  It is hard to believe that 2016 has been filed into the archives of the past.  I took a bit of a hiatus from blogging... hadn't intended to... but was intermittent in posting all the same.  I missed it greatly and am going anxious to begin fresh for 2017!  Are you ready for that?  LOL  
I thought I would share a few moments from 2016:
Believe it or Not... Farmerboy got married!  It was a lovely ceremony and day.  I really do not think a being could ask for a lovelier bride for him to share his special day and life with.  She is a beautiful girl inside and out.  They live on their own small farm about 5 minutes away from us.  The location has a beautiful home for them and plenty of room for the animals.  It is exciting to watch their lives begin, so many great adventures with more to come... :) 
I strive to keep a positive vibe on my blog as well as in life, but sometimes life has its sad moments.  Mew, the little being that had kept us on our toes for the last 16 years, was called on to her heavenly home.  She left an emptiness in our hearts and home that was almost unbearable.  I spent months roaming the house expecting to see her sleeping in the sun or turning a corner expecting a treat.  We were blessed to have her arrive on our door step as a few week old kitten back in 2000.  I believe she was sent from heaven to share our world.  I could not have hand picked a better soul than her.  She was and always will be our little girl.

Life is odd sometimes.  I made it perfectly clear for months after Mew's passing that there would not be any more furry creatures in my home.  Farmerboy even brought a little black kitten to visit... no bigger than Mew at our first encounter.  I held firm to my convictions... No more.  He ended up adopting the tiny guy and named him Elliot. 
In October just in time for Halloween, I took a week off from work.  It was always my joke to tell Mew she was worth a premium at that time of year, since she was black. :)  The house was so quiet.  I remember looking out the window into the back yard.  I really felt at peace.  I promised God that if a kitten would arrive just like Mew did... I would take it in.  The day after Thanksgiving, He decided to take me at my word.  Mr. Hollow began the day by tapping on that same window saying there was something I needed to see...
I made good on my promise.  And into our world entered Miss Gabrielle-- Gabby for short.  Do I really need to tell you how our Christmas went?   LOL

Here is the kicker to the story that to this day still shocks my family.  Miss Gabby did not show up on that particular Saturday alone... She arrived with her little (in size) sister.  Yeah you heard me,  there were two!!    Apparently someone from Above, enjoys testing promises or has an uncanny sense of humor.  I remember telling Farmerboy, " I might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb."   So on the day after Thanksgiving,  Mr. Hollow arrived back from work to the news of two little girls being adopted into our home... Yep, as simple as that...  So without further adieu,  please let me introduce you to Miss Isabelle aka "Izzie" (top of photo) and Miss Gabrielle aka "Gabby" (bottom of photo).  Nothing heals the heart like falling in love again.  :)

I look forward to new beginnings in 2017 with a studio unfolding for myself in the spring.  I cannot wait to share the space with you.  There will be more adventures to share in our travels, experiments in the kitchen  and  tales of the little fur babies.  Plus, I look forward to taking time to check out the happenings on the kids' farm! 
So here is to an adventurous New Year. 
Welcome 2017!!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Baraboo Steam and Gas Engine Show 2016 ... Lots of Photos :)

I seriously look forward to the Baraboo, Wisconsin Badger Steam and Gas Engine Show every fall.  For those of you that have never attended, it is the third weekend of August every year.  The forecast called for showers on Saturday with the main bulk arriving on Friday night.  The weather man wasn't fibbing!  Those poor exhibitors and vendors saw some serious showers.  Friday was very busy with spectators trying to beat the weekend precipitation.  Mr. Hollow and I arrived at 8:30 am on Saturday morning hoping for a dry day... Well at least from the clouds that were passing over anyways. 

We only endured two cloud bursts in the afternoon hours, but the grounds told the tale from the previous night.  Those exhibitors and vendors stuck it out, and it was a wonderful day.  Not too warm in the morning hours and delightfully cool after the cloud bursts.  I was very happy that I packed a t-shirt and light jacket to change into; although, the book building offered t-shirts and tank tops for sale. 

I was so happy to see the engines running.  This gentlemen took the time to start and explain the function of his engine.  It made me smile.  The puff and toot reminded me of the contraption from Willy Wonka... Right down to a bit of water shooting from the pipe !  :)

Such a nice tribute to the ladies who went to work for the war effort.  It always makes me smile to look at the photos and read the articles.

Can you imagine these huge machines still run flawlessly?  I just love watching the smooth effortless power.  It is a blessing that they have such a wonderful home and are shared for spectators to enjoy.  At the other end of the building was a machine creating huge amounts of steam, I walked through the steam as I exited and probably took every wrinkle out of my clothes! LOL ;)

I know this photo is hard to see, but it is a sea of farm tractors.  Can you believe the turn out?  Even with rainy weather being forecasted.   Simply fantastic! 

While Mr. Hollow visited friends at the chainsaw competition, I took a few photos from my favorite spots.  The printing presses are one of my favorites.  The gentlemen there are so fun to be around and extremely knowledgeable.  At this machine, the gentlemen was asking the kids which way the letters and arrow needed to go.  They did really well and was amazed at the final product.  :)

The guys demonstrating their blacksmithing skills were probable relieved by the cooler temps!  I purchased a cross from this exhibit area a few years back.  Quite a fascinating art!

The gentlemen one window over made this terrific bird.  As he worked, he put wax from a candle all over it.  I never got to hear the reason behind this.   He set it in the vice to cool... all in a days work.  That was pretty awesome!

Can you believe someone built this?    Do you know what is more amazing?  The little engine on the left makes all of the other little machines run.  And let me say from seeing it with my own eyes,  they ALL do run as working machines.  That is some seriously crazy talent!

I have a fondness for the large engines.  Looking at this photo, I can still feel the heat.   Such power harnessed in  iron... You can just feel it standing next to it. 

I never tire of the big saw! 

I am sorry to have not gotten photos from the Women's Center.  Kind of odd really, since it is home to  the lovely sewing machines that got me even more hooked on quilting.  And let's not forget the spinners who are responsible for me taking the leap into that arena.  Also to the chainsaw exhibitors, where Mr. Hollow spends his day while I run! ;)  There are so many exhibits that I am so sorry for the various ones not shared.  Those will be the ones I showcase next year... I gladly promise. :)

Before I forget, here are a few of the items that I picked up at the flea market:  The brushes and pick will be great for a few projects looming in the distance.  You all know I cannot pass up on some good fabric.  (Actually I did, the lady had a ton... but I refrained!)  Then I met a really nice lady who had this beautiful baby quilt of verses.  (It is so soft and cuddly... Very well made and for 5 bucks!)  Also over at the shingle making exhibit, they had some cedar wood pieces.  These thin planks will be wonderful to put in with my wool bins to keep the insects at bay... plus, they just smell wonderful!

Here is a block from the quilt.  Definitely perfect for me!

I spotted this vintage testor set.  Isn't it odd what strikes my fancy?  It is so cool.  Mr. Hollow walked back and bought it for me.  It will look great in my future studio next to my natural wool dye jars.

I also was lucky enough to get a half gallon of Maple syrup... Some really dark syrup this year.  I forgot to pick up some cornmeal on the way home.  Drat!  But at least,  it made the bacon this morning so much better. ;)

An enormous Thank-you for those wonderful souls that make this show possible!  All of the exhibitors, vendors and behind the scene magic makers who take the time to make this weekend great for all of us spectators.  You are truly the best! 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Summertime... Fleece, Fabric & the Return of ...

Oh my heavens... Where is the summer going?  I have been so busy!  Here is a little bit of my summer antics.  First, I got some cool new combs and another carder for processing all of that Shetland wool.   Also, I have been doing loads of reading on Ravelry regarding the processing and spinning of raw fleeces.  I have learned so much that I will need to revamp my tutorial on "how to wash raw fleece".   And oh the lovely fleeces!!!  There are many wonderful caring shepherds selling their wares on Etsy and Ravelry... got to have more than just Shetland to spin. ;)   (More on that in future posts!)
Here is my latest processed fleece.  The taupe colored fleece is from Farmerboy's Ariel.   The gray bun in the upper left corner is from Lego.   They were two of the original 3 that started out this crazy group.   Beneath the gray, there is some Targhee / Rambouillet fiber from Kami over at "Ranching Traditions".  I haven't spun the fiber yet, but this stuff is spongy and destined to be socks.  So, let the fine spinning begin!

At present, I'm still messing around with combed top purchased from "Edgewood Garden Studios" on Etsy...  Love her colors. :)  It is really good practice.   And hey... It  actually looks like yarn!  LOL 


Did you think I was too busy for the Flea Markets?  Of course not! ;)   Mr. Hollow and I just went up to Jefferson, Wisconsin this morning and had to bring home some vintage fabric.   Although we did not go on the 127 this year (the first time of being a no show in 14 years),  we have been hitting a lot of the smaller venues.   One of the vendors today had an old Viking machine in its original case (heavy metal at its finest)  and also there was an old treadle White, but I managed to pass them up without too much regret.  I am in the process of getting a studio area set up in my house, so my spending has been sparse until my room is semi functional... At least for bigger items anyways! ;)   There aren't enough words to convey how thrilling it will be to get my sewing machines and fabric easily accessible to me... Whenever, I feel the need.  Yipee!!

At the beginning of the summer, Mr. Hollow and I discussed removing the pond from our back yard.  It was June already with no sign of Gary, and Farmerboy is moving out with the purchase of a farmette.  (How cool is that?)  The pond had always been his project.  And as of the last few years, Mr. Hollow has gotten stuck with the cleaning of it anyways. :(  LOL  Not two days later after discussing the demolition, I looked out the back window and guess who was walking across the yard?  Yeah, you know who.  Mr. Gary made his appearance ambling around, sniffing the air and going plunk right into his pond.   Apparently, he winters in our back yard under one of Farmerboy's sheds that he is not planning on moving... Lucky for Gary right?  ;)  Guess that means the pond is staying.

The "Gas and Steam Engine Show" will be in Baraboo this next weekend.  I am very excited to attend.  Hopefully, the rain they are predicting will move out of the weather forecast. :(  I finally purchased a new memory card for my camera and will get plenty of photos. 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Cast Iron Skillet Cookies

Have I mentioned that I love Cast Iron cookware?  ;)   My vintage pieces mean the world to me, and there is a story behind each one.  But every once in awhile,  a cook has to turn to a modern company to fill a need.  This is what happened to me when I learned of the skillet cookie sensation.  I know.... I could have used one of my smaller skillets, but single serving cookies were on my mind.  Unfortunately, not one of my pans fit the bill.  (Sigh of relief at the thought of my family taking forks to my beloved Griswolds and Wagners!)   To fill the bill, I turned to a wonderful modern maker of cast ironware, Lodge.  They are so reasonable and hold on to your chairs folks... They are Made In The USA.  How often do you see that?
Below is the four that arrived in their gorgeous cast iron glory.  Trying to stay with a single serving size, these little beauties are 5 inches.  My confession may as well be right now, "I could not make it half way through a cookie at this size."  It would have been even less if there was ice cream on top! :(
At any rate, these cookies were made with the addition of mini M&M's and chocolate chips.  Subsequent cookies have been made with the addition of chopped up candy bars... Reese's in particular for Mr. Hollow.   I made the dough with a recipe from Cookies and Cups blog that can be found here.

Here are a few photos of the process.  It is important to me to show that the amount of butter is accurate.  The batter starts out crazy runny but do not fear...

It turns into a butter infused dough with the addition of the flour... I am talking some serious butter!

To make it easier, I divided the dough and mixed in the diner's choice of candies.  (Extra dough can be refrigerated or frozen.)  Be creative.  This dough is a fabulous base to any additional sweets.

The dough is all pressed in place and ready to go!

Viola!  Chocolate chip cookie in a skillet... YUM!

And don't forget the M&M's.  :)

Trust me, it tastes as good as it looks... The flavor is just awesome.  If you are looking for a cake like cookie, this is NOT for you.  If you are looking for a ooey gooey cookie, this is what you have been waiting for.  And if you are tougher than me, try a scoop of ice cream in the center. :)

A big thanks to Shelly over at Cookies and Cups blog for such a wonderful recipe!  And just in case you were wondering, I still cringed as the forks touched  those beautiful new pans!  LOL