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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Merry Ho Ho Ho!

We are working on a second batch of Christmas brunch mimosa's so feeling slightly buzzy.... :)

I told the boys up no earlier than 6:00 this morning, so at 6:02 they were down to get us up. We spent Christmas Eve at Dougette's house and had a wonderful time as usual. Dinners main dish was corned venison and it was delightful! Rachel's beau Orson made me the most incredible Bloody Mary so that I unabashedly asked for a second. It was SO tasty...ground black pepper floated on the top and there was a jalapeƱo stuffed olive, a pickled tarragon ramp/leek, and a dilly bean in the bottom for snacking on. I've never had a better one. Laurel made all the pickled goodies and they were delicious. Home by 10:45 in time to get the kids to bed since Santa was well on his way. Will and I made it to bed by 1:30. We will need naps.

Some loot highlights: Star Trek original series (Lila) (bad captain), Star Trek next gen (me!) (good captain!), the entire Simpsons series, Black Sheep knitting mysteries, Seaside Knitting mysteries, Legos, art supplies, DS games, Snow Tubes!, snow castle building molding blocks, books!, scotch, a splitting axe, hickory shirts, tea, cheese, kittie doors, the whole earth seed catalog, canned goods, beautiful native copper earrings, knitted hats, hoodie sweatshirts.....and eight inches of fluffy snow overnight.

We will have some family guests the next few days also that everyone is looking forward to seeing; uncle tommy and the cousins and grandma and grandpa. Wish we could beam in all those far flung MacKinnon's too. The prime rib is resting on the counter and there are other simple dinner preparations to be done in due time. Right now we are enjoying some lazy time after doing animal chores and picking up a bit. I think the best gift I had today was a big hug from Will. I can do without everything else, but those are essential.

Merry Christmas and Peace to you all friends.


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Happy Winter Solstice!

Happy Winter Solstice and Merry Yule to all!

We've had a busy day here; we've made Rugelach (apricot and cinnamon/sugar/nut), Celtic creme (our Version of Irish cream), butter mints in three flavors, and lip balm.  Home made chicken noodle soup and Eggplant parmesan are thawing and will be supper soon.

The yule fire has been lit just now, whilst still daylight. I'll post a picture of it all ablaze in a bit.

Meanwhile, instead of sending out paper cards this year we decided to make you all an electronic one. 
 It is a little silly, but then I guess we are too.


Monday, December 16, 2013

Chicken Sweaters

I'm afraid this is a photoless post so I don't give away any Christmas/Yule surprises.

I started knitting some gifts a few weeks back and one of them was a hat for Sam. He had picked out the yarn a few months back and I was afraid he would recognize it when he saw me knitting with it. Of course, I started the hat and he saw it and wanted to know what I was knitting. At a loss for a good answer I told him "a chicken sweater, because it is going to get cold and some of the old chickens will need one".

Evidently he remembered that. His hat has been done for awhile, but I was working on another hat for a gift yesterday and he said "working on another chicken sweater, huh?" (And he is totally serious about this) Well......"yes!" I said.

So, here starts the beginning of one of those familial legends and hats will now forever be "chicken sweaters" in my mind.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Uh oh!

A fiber optic cable was cut in the Eastern Upper Peninsula by a bridge that collapsed; apparently the victim of all the recent rain over the weekend, which has left three counties without 911 service and mostly without telephone service as well.
Will was called in to sub at the school so I did chores and them went off to work. Around two o'clock one of the administrative staff at work said "I saw a post on facebook that your animals are out"! I couldn't call anyone to check so drove the half hour home hoping I wouldn't find animals in the road. I pulled in the driveway and all seemed peaceful, but I did see animal tracks dancing up the driveway and the critters seemed a bit agitated.
Will came home soon thereafter and said someone had stopped at the school to let him know and it happened to be at lunch time so he was able to come home and put them away after finding them next door at the Heatherington's.
I believe the quote was "My wife is good at many things, but closing gates isn't one of them".
I might need one of these signs by mypoolsigns! Thanks Will for bailing me out again......

Here is a link to purchase this lovely sign..." target="_blank">

Saturday, November 9, 2013

We lost our "Bright Eyes"

Our pretty little Bright Eyes, better known as "Chunk", decided today was the day to sleep on.

Chunk came to us as a mature ewe and had celebrated her eleventh birthday this year. She had no back grinding teeth left and getting nourishment to her has been a challenge the past couple of years even supplementing her with other goodies besides hay. We thought we would put her down before winter set in, but she beat us to it.

She will be missed greatly. Frolick on dear will be with me always.



Friday, November 8, 2013

An unplanned and delightful visit!

Last evening after running around all afternoon from one school to the next for parent teacher conferences, we landed at The Erickson Center for the Arts to see Bill Harley, a two time Grammy Winner in Children's music and storytelling, perform. He had been at the school earlier in the day for a concert with the kids and then a family concert was arranged in the evening performing different material.
As we came in the door, Linda (our lovely librarian) told me that Bill wanted to talk to a biologist about a project he has an interest in pursuing. Just before the concert started he asked if there were any biologists in the room so I raised my hand. After the amazingly funny performance (during which both Sam and Duncan laughed like the nuts they are) we picked up a couple of CD's out of the plethora available and had them signed. Bill conveyed his interest in having a chat and we arranged for a visit at our place this morning.
Will and I had a GREAT visit and it was a relaxing philosophical discussion and it was even work related for me! He is a kind and funny man. If you haven't heard any of his stuff, look him up. You will be delighted.
I looked and looked on YouTube for "the best" clip to show you, and I ended up with this TED talks clip. It is 12 minutes long, but it is well worth the listen. It captured perfectly the gist, if not the topic, of our conversation and it is magically powerful.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Muckle Mull

Muckle Mull was the ram lamb born this year that was rather large and his mum Zanzibar needed a wee bit of help getting his huge head out. He was a cute cute lamb, but we were rather disappointed by his rather blah feeling fleece and thought he was going to be chops and kabobs. It seemed odd given his great genetics.

A couple of months later his fleece started getting crimpy and butter soft, so I decided he'd remain here as a fiber wether because he has such a nice fleece and it is a beautiful grey with a blue cast (Emsket).

Unfortunately I left banding WAY too late and his testicles were too big to fit through the bander. I also did this with Rum, the super friendly black ram and had to have him surgically altered (banding would cost about $.04 versus surgery at $120....I won't forget again!). SO....we decided Mull with stay here as a breeding ram for at least this season and will have four ladies to woo for a month.

Deja, Gaia, Elle, and Daisy will be his breeding group.

Fleece upper shoulder

Lower back

Mid side (last rib)

Daisy is in the back ground admiring Mull (or looking for a pat!)

"Why are you doing this to me...."

There has been a lot of wooing going on through the fence the past few weeks and the girls will be put in with him soon for mid April to Early May lambs.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Bwah ha ha!

The annual vegetable marrow carving has been accomplished.

The pumpkin seeds are soaking in a saturated sodium chloride solution and will be drained,

and tossed with tamari and Cajun seasoning from Uncle Dan.

And accompanied with a glass of fine $3.00 wine.



Sunday, October 27, 2013

Spinner's End Farm takes to the airwaves!

I met Sara from "Yarns at Yinhoo" through our alpaca kickstarter project.  We have many things in common and she is a sweet soul.  When she started her podcasts earlier this year she asked if I would be interested in talking about the farm in one. I said sure! 
 She supported our project, and I feel wonderful helping to support hers.

So, in Episode 12- Life on the Farm, you can hear me yammering on about the UP, life on the farm, and how we ended up in this big sweet mess to begin with.  If you like the podcast, please leave some feedback for Sara either on Itunes or her website.

Thanks everyone of you (all twelve of you) for being a part of our lives!  

We appreciate you here on the farm.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Amongst Other Things....

October seems to have flown by.  This month is a time for getting ready for winter.  
However, I don't feel quite there yet and this was the wake up call this morning....

(It didn't stick)

We spent Sunday turning apples into cider at Doug and Ruthette's house, and they had this, erm, "interesting" pumpkin there.  Doug grew it in his garden.

Kinda cute eh?
(turn it over!)


The Kittens continue to grow and wreak havoc upon the house.  
I am dead serious about the havoc wreaking.
The boys are getting neutered in two weeks!

My sweater, the first "big" knitting project I've attempted, is starting to look like the beginnings of a sweater;or if I give up, a shrug.  I have to knit an additional seven inches of the body before beginning a cabled medallion pattern on the back, then add a garter stitch border along the edges and knit the sleeves in the round.  This sweater is all being knit as one piece and so far it has been fairly simple.  
We'll see how the cabling goes.

Dear sweet Uist went to be a breeding ram in southern Michigan.  I had a hard time parting with him, but he will be loved where he is and pass along his lovely genetics.  I would have kept him as a wether for sure.

Duncan, the baby of the family, celebrated his ninth birthday on the seventh.

I'm not sure where all those nine years went!  
(he's only a little bit neater eight years later!)

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Cider time!

One of my favorite fall activities is cider making. For the past several years, when apples are abundant, we get together with Dougette and sometimes an assortment of other friends, and press cider.

This year we had four varieties of apples and two varieties of pears that my Mother brought up from her tree and my cousin Darlene's tree. They are an incredible addition to apples in cider.

There isn't much to it after gathering up the apples. You toss a well blended mix into the hopper and grind away and then press the resulting pulp, collect the cider and filter through muslin cloth (a friend jokingly asked if this was Yooper pasteurization).

We ended up pressing thirteen and a half gallons of the nectar! Eight are in our freezer and a half gallon is waiting to be enjoyed with supper (pasties and Brussel sprouts and broccoli). The weather was crisp but the sun peeked out from time to time for which we were grateful. It was a day well spent.




Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Suri Yarn

This is the last of the yarn I needed to spin for the Kickstarter alpaca project! Heather was very patient with me as I worked up the fiber and began spinning at a crazy time of year.

The black skein is from Mattie's cria fleece and the dark brown from Iona's. It is pure Suri and was tricky to prep at first before I got the hang of it, and you need to spin it as you would silk or fine mohair; from the fold. It is quite lovely to work with and the yarn just glows.

This week is National Spinning and Weaving week so I've challenged myself to get a pound of dark brown Shetland blended with Suri done this week for Virginia who is one of our CSA shareholders.

This is what it looks like now...

It is so soft!


Friday, October 4, 2013

Long John Silver


Today Long John Silver went to his new forever home with Denise and Jeff.

They are kind and loving people so he will be in good hands....and he will be missed here.

Thank you Denise and Jeff!

It was good to meet you in person and we will be keeping up with your blog and will see LJS grow up!


Saturday, September 28, 2013

NML&WF- Day One

Day One of the Northern Michigan Lamb and Wool Festival is officially over, and it was a busy one!

We met some old friends, made some new ones, and renewed some acquaintances. People shopping to fulfill their fiber addictions were a pleasure. Many folks had visited with us last year and some are blog followers! Thanks so much for stopping by to say hello to us! Some had checked out our Etsy shop to pre-shop which was pretty clever I thought! The folks that run the festival here are very friendly and do a great job taking care of us; a big thank you to them for making this a fun event.

Had the traditional vendor dinner tonight and met our new potential alpaca shearer....a young lady who was trained by her well experienced alpaca shearing father. She is going to NMU in Marquette and would be available to shear next year, trim toes, and grind teeth.

I had a near miss with a French angora rabbit; a broken black with the sweetest freckles on her face! Fortunately someone else bought her. :)

Tomorrow we get to sleep in and I will take Lila out for a big breakfast before we start in earnest again tomorrow...and do our own shopping! I have some gifts in mind for friends and family and will pick up some new dye colors.

Tonight, we are parked in front of "Ice Age-The Meltdown" at the Super 8 and soon tucked in to sleep.

Good night!