Wednesday, June 27, 2012

AN ADORABLE STORY TO SHARE

My good friend Teresa over at Homestead Notes: Raising Our Own is a very talented writer and is the Enchanted Conversation Contest Winner over at Enchanted Conversation: A Fairytale Magazine for writing an adorable children's story (13+)  The article is titled "Matches and Races" - please pop over there to check it out, it is a lovely read.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

FIBER FINDS

I wanted to share some of the cool things I picked up at the Shepherds Harvest Fiber Festival.  I haven't been motivated to use the weavette yet since I'm just getting over being sick but I couldn't resist spinning some new yarn.

I spent hours wandering around the fiber festival looking for romney wool because I had read that it was the best fiber for new spinners but out of all the vendors only one person was selling it and unfortunately it's not roving :(  I bought it anyway but have yet to try it out.  I'm thinking I need to prep it a bit before using it because there are bits of hay throughout the fiber.  Once I figure out what to do I'll probably attempt to color it.


I hunted forever and finally found a niddy noddy.  I learned the hard way that this tool is pretty necessary.  I wrapped my spun fiber around a book and then couldn't get it off.   With the niddy noddy I know just how much yarn I'm wrapping and won't have trouble removing it.


I also found a small weaving square.  I really really really wanted it and after many failed online searches I am happy to have found it at the festival.  Now I just have to figure out how to use it.  Should be simple.


One of my best finds didn't come from the fiber festival but I wanted to share it anyway.  I was browsing at the Yarnery on Grand and found some polwarth wool top.  I'd not read anything about polwarth but the label on the fiber said it was a long fiber which is best for new spinners so I bought it.  I'm soooooo happy that I did because, so far, it is the best fiber I have spun with.  I tried the Merino Wool after having such a great experience with the BFL but the Merino made me want to give up on spinning.  It was horrible.  I'm sure the wool is awesome for someone but it wasn't for me.  I later read that the Merino fibers are too short for new spinners and often lead to failure.  Now that I have the polwarth I am back to my spinning addiction :)  NOTE TO TERESA: this is the one I mentioned sending you if you'd like to try it.


If anyone is interested in learning to spin and feel like I do, that the wheel is way too expensive to begin with, I suggest picking up the book "respect the spindle."  I took a short spinning class but I found the book to be a much better teacher.  



Monday, May 14, 2012

MINNESOTA SHEPHERDS HARVEST

We hit the great Shepherds Harvest Fiber Festival over Mother's Day weekend.  Lots and lots of fun things too see; angora rabbits & goats, llama, alpaca, and sheep.  We ate fried pickles dipped in horseraddish sauce and fried walleye.  The Shepherds Harvest and the State Fair are the only two places I'll eat fried anything. LOL!

Here is Aiyana learning how to spin.


One of the many angora rabbits.  This one is a french angora just like our bugs.  I never let buggsies coat get that thick though which is why I don't have much angora to knit with.

Lots of fiber supplies.


Middy enjoying the animals.


How sad is this.  I've dreamed of having an alpaca farm and yet I can't tell you if this is an alpaca or a llama.  That's ok though.  After learning about all the work involved with these little creatures I won't be buying livestock anytime soon.




This is called skirting.  I'm not entirely sure what that means since we missed the demo but there was a sign on the side that said "skirting."  My fiber lingo, unfortunately, is very limited but... I'll get there some day.


I'll blog about what I purchased next : )  Lots of fun stuff.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

MASON BEE?

I was so excited to find this itty bitty bee in my garden working really hard on one of my bamboo poles that I'm using to stake my raspberry bush.  I immediately thought it was a mason bee.  Some of the other bamboo poles in the raspberry patch have mud plugged holes already (possibly from last year).  Anyway... I took some pix and a video to show my daughter Maya but when she saw the video she insisted that it wasn't a mason bee.  She thinks it looks like a wasp but the video is a little deceiving when it comes to seeing the bees size.  It was really tiny, about the size of my fingernail.  I don't think any wasps are that size.  Are there wasps that size????




Wednesday, May 9, 2012

MUST MAKE DO

I figured if I can't have honeybees right now it doesn't mean I can't have another type of bee.  According to my beekeeping friend Dave  it is a little late in the season to get going with Mason Bees so I'm going to give bumble bees a try.  A while back, after my beekeeping course, my oldest daughter decided she wanted to try keeping bumble bees.  She's always had a fascinating relationship with bumbles.  When she and I took a class at a local nature center 14 years ago we learned the difference between bees, wasps and hornets, which ones are aggressive and which ones aren't, etc... After that time she's always handled bumble bees.  She mostly likes to stroke their backs when they are busy working a flower.  Since she is so brave and had a real interest we ordered Marla Spivak's book: Befriending Bumble Bees.




Maya, my daughter, caught a bunch of bumbles initially but we were unsure in our ability to determine which ones were queens so she'd always let them go.  Well, since I'm bee-less I've decided to give the bumbles another try. With bumbles I won't have to worry about swarm management and worried neighbors, I'll just be able to still enjoy having a relationship with bees.

Now all I need is a bumble bee to show up.  They are late this year.

Wish me luck! :D

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

THE PROCESS OF MOVING HIVES

I thought this was cool.  Jim at Natures Nectar talks about moving our hives, explaining his process. The hive in the picture was our 2nd year hive :)

Natures Nectar: Moving Hives

Sunday, May 6, 2012

BYE BYE HIVES :(

We said goodbye to our hives yesterday.  It was actually pretty sad.  I didn't care so much about the yellow hive but I was really attached to the pink one (the one you see being carried away).  That was my very first hive after I took the U of M beekeeping course and we've managed to get it through two winters and this was our third spring having them, they were also our mild tempered and happy bees.  My husband said I looked pitiful, like a lost child watching them from the window being carried away.We discussed just keeping the one hive because they really were a great bunch of bees to have but we just couldn't get past the possibility that, even if we managed them well, they could swarm again and next time it might not turn out so great.  I kept having visions of them swarming during one of the neighbors many dusk til dawn lawn parties.

Hubby and I are already discussing other options.  We have a couple friends that live in the country and we might approach them about keeping our bees.  One of them has wanted to have bees but wasn't so sure she wanted to do the management part of it, so we're thinking she might be a good option.  Otherwise, we do plan on moving so we might wait until then to get another hive, we'll see.

For now, Jim at Natures Nectar took our babies away.  I feel good that he was the one to take them since he's the guy I orginally purchased my packages from.  Who better to have our hives than the man I bought them from, right? 

So anyway...a couple pictures to share:

Jim getting the hives ready to be hauled away.



and then carrying my favorite one out.


Middy (my middle child) is pretty mad at me.  She loves the bees.  We have spent every day since spring of 2010 checking them out each morning, watching them fly in and out throughout the day (aside from winter).  I didn't realize she had grown as attached as I did.  She kept trying to think of reasons they didn't have to go.  She thinks people around us should "suck it up and get with the program." lol!  She's already asking when we can get some more.  I guess her nagging will get me moving on finding someone to let us keep them on their property.

Did I ever mention how much I hate living in the city?