Sunday, February 27, 2011

OOps, she did it again.

 Have you ever had one of those friends that out-nices and out-thoughtfulnesses you all the time? Don't judge my vocabulary, those are real(ish) words. I have several of those kind-hearted, thoughtful friends who, when you think you have done something nice for them, they turn around and do something even nicer for you. One such person is my dear friend, Miss Effie. A couple of months ago she asked me to do a favor for her, I was more than happy to oblige. She never asks for anything and I never feel like I can catch up with the aforementioned surplus of niceties that she has bestowed upon me.
It was a horrible task that she asked of me. She and her husband would be going away for a few days and one of her outdoor cats had given birth to two kittens, Miss Effie was worried that while she was away,  the mama cat might not get enough to eat to keep her babies warm, and well-fed in the cooler temperatures. Even though they had plenty of dry food in their feeder, she asked that I stop by and give the new little family some canned food every day.
So every day for THREE whole days, I had to drive THREE whole miles to Effie's farm, open a can of cat food (exhausting), and feed these horrible, awful, hideous creatures...where is the sarcasm font when I need it???

 It was a tough job....I almost took them home with me.
I was happy to finally have helped Miss Effie with something, even though it wasn't very significant.

Last week, Miss Effie called me, "Are you going to be home for a bit?" I told her that I would be home and to come on over.
When she and her husband came in, Miss Effie was holding something......oh no, she is going to out-nice me again, I thought. Sure enough they handed me a beautiful sign with my farm name on it, hand painted by the very talented Jen VanOort, a local artist. "What is this for?" I asked. "Remember when you watched the cats?" OMG, seriously?

Of course I am joking about out-niceing each other, I know that nobody keeps track of these things among friends; we do things for each other because it makes us feel good to see our friends smile, and this certainly did make me smile. Thank-you so much Effie, and Thank-you Jen for creating this for me.....darn it, now I have to think of something nice to do for BOTH of them........out-niced X two (sigh).

Monday, February 14, 2011

Well, of course I did! Because I 'felt' like it.

Happy Valentine's Day! I hope you spend it with someone...errr....if you are Emma, spend it with something you love.

Well, it's finally getting warmer out, and the mountains of snow have turned into rivers of sludge. I fought a losing battle yesterday trying to clean out the barns, and decided to wait until more of the snow has melted, or until it gets cold enough for the ground to refreeze so that I am not slip-slidin' away on the slimy mud. Frustrated that I couldn't get things done outside as I had planned, I decided to spend the afternoon doing something completely different. I have seen needle-felted figurines on many of the fibery websites and at crafty shows and often thought that I would like to try making one. I make stuff out of clay all the time, so clay to fiber didn't seem like a huge leap... sculpting is sculpting....sort of.
I should have taken pictures all the way along, but since I kind of threw myself into this project I didn't have that forethought.
If you are not familiar with the process, you basically take a ball of roving or fiber, roll it up tight, stab it, a lot, with incredibly sharp needles, and keep stabbing it until you make it into something. Someone more adept at the process would probably argue that there is much more to it, and I am sure that there is, but I didn't have any patterns or anything so I just kind of winged it. Oh, also, it helps to avoid stabbing yourself with said incredibly sharp happens...a lot...OK, maybe it just happens to me.
So, I decided that I wanted to make a sheep...I KNOW...I am so imaginative! I started with a gob of britch wool from last year's shearing (always wondered what I was going to do with that stuff), made it into a ball, and went to town stabbing the bejeezers out of it; which I found to be an excellent form of stress relief, until I stabbed through the fiber, and into my finger....repeatedly. I would like to note that it really slows down the process when you have to stop every few minutes to wait for your fingers to stop bleeding. 
After a few hours, I ended up with this-

As I mentioned, she isn't finished,  I know it's kind of wonky at this point, but that's what is nice about needle-felting; you can add more fiber and reshape it as you go. When I brought the little sheepie out to show my husband, I promptly told him that it wasn't finished and I started to go through a laundry list of conformation flaws as if I were looking at a sheep in the show ring: "It's head is too big, the topline isn't level, the back is too short, the tail is too low-set..." When I finally stopped with my dissertation he stared blankly at me for a moment and put it all in perspective, "You do know that this isn't a real sheep....aaaand it's made out of a ball of fiber, right?"
Why does he always have to be so practical?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

SnOw way!

You may have heard that we had a little snow storm here in Iowa. It's true. We did.
I woke up this morning and tried to look out the window to get an idea of what we were up against....tried to look out the window...
Well, that wasn't very productive, so I put on my eighteen layers of clothes and headed for the great unknown. The only door that I could get out of was the cellar door, which, for some unknown reason, was fortuitously, snow-free.
Once outside, I discovered the reason that I couldn't get out the other doors.

Front door....

 Aaaaand the back door..
Well, yeah, of course I brought my camera out with me, what kind of a silly question is that?

Although they were uncooperative for a photo, I checked on the horses first and everything was fine there, except that the strong, swirling winds had blown snow all over inside the barn, creating indoor snowdrifts-never had that happen before.

At least the water de-icer in the stock tank seems to be holding up; there is enough open water for the horses to drink from.

I knew that the rams might be bearing the brunt of the storm since their pasture is a bit more out in the open and is exposed to the harsh wind, so I wanted to check on them next.

Something told me that they might be in trouble, and I was right, there was definitely a problem...

OK, so they didn't really write this...I have cabin fever....I can not be held responsible for my actions.

"Where are you, boys???"

"Here we are mom!"

At least Mother Nature was kind enough to leave a little "mote" of a clearing around the ram-hut, but the drifts all around them were about 4 feet deep.

Since the boys were surrounded by drifts, I had to shovel a path for them so that they could get to their water. I just hope they don't realise that the snow is at fence-level most of the way around their pasture and they can now easily step over the fences and go on walkabout.

"It's about time you got out here!"

"Thanks, Mom!"

The ewes seemed to be faring a lot better than the boys; there are enough clearings around their barn that they are able to get in and out without any trouble, and they have access to water inside the barn.

The rest of the menagerie seems to be holding their own, but because mother nature decided to add insult to injury with frigid temperatures over the next few days, I am going to have to add more bedding for the chickens. And since the wind will continue to sculpt the landscape, I will have to monitor everyone throughout the day...and probably re-shovel several times.

Of course, some members of this household are completely unaffected by the weather.

 "Don't worry, I'll find a way to get us to the front door!"

"Yeah, never mind, this is never going to work."

I know that most of the country is in the same boat that we are, so I hope that you are all safe and warm. Enjoy the day off : ).

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