I have been a member of the Missouri Star Quilt Company forum since August of 2009. I have met many wonderful people on there, some I consider best friends I have just never met in person.

There are numerous groups available for many interests. The Circle of Comfort group was put together by a particularly sweet woman who wanted a way to express our support for others through a quilt. These quilts could be made by one person or from blocks donated by many people. They are usually made from 4 patches trimmed into circles.

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This one is a bit more involved than a trimmed four patch, but not much. One of the ladies decided to not waste the frame that was left after the circle was trimmed and incorporated that into her quilt. I liked that idea, but I didn’t have a snazzy embroidery machine to fill in the large open space, so I trimmed a smaller circle and made this. I think it looks a lot like a jumbled pile of LifeSavers candies!

This one is made from 4 charm packs of Connecting Threads flannel samplers, plus two fabrics from my own stash to round out the count. At 9″ finished, this makes a decent sized lap quilt, even if I don’t add any borders. These quilts are designed to be used at the hospital, during chemo treatments, in the car on long drives, or just about anywhere. The idea is they will be there when the recipient needs comfort of friends who can’t always be right there.

The idea of a circle has several meanings. A circle of friends helps to hold you up during the tough times. A hug is a circling of arms to give comfort and support, and a circle doesn’t have a beginning or an end. You can step into it when the need arises, and help support it to make it stronger when you can.

These ladies manage to make many more of these every year than I do. This fall there has been a local and personal need for a couple of them. The one I whipped out had more errors than I ever wanted seen, but I had less than a week to get it done. She loved it anyway, and I have had reports that she drug it with her to her treatments and people remarked on how cheerful it was. That is the reason we do it. To remind the recipients that we care about them and they are in out thoughts and prayers.

I can see the need for having a few of them finished and on hand just incase. Thank you ladies of the Missouri Star Circle of Comfort group for your inspiration!

We have been threatened with snow by Monday morning. We figured if we jumped on the winterizing, it will stay away!

We spent the whole day outside since the weather decided to be sunny and clear. We rerouted electrical cords and hoses for their winter purposes. Eric drained the little hot water heater in the barn. I now have a dry sink until spring.

The stock tanks all have floating heater units in them this season. We finally have a bucket big and tough enough for the bucks water. I have one smart aleck buck that thinks he ought to try chewing on the power supply cord. You have no idea how tempted I was to let him find out why we don’t chew on power cords! My more rational side took in to consideration the effort to replace the gnawed cord, and/or the expense to replace the tank heater if it couldn’t be repaired. This solution seemed more logical.

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A 90 degree PVC elbow with a length of pipe kept teeth from nibbling, and yet will be able to move with the water level.

Here is to hoping the snow is merely a pretty thought instead of a nasty traffic maker!

 

We love being home on the farm, but every now and again, we like to get away and change up the view.

When we were first married we bought into a timeshare program that allows us to choose the time and place for our get-aways. Our favorite spot seems to be Point Brown in Ocean Shores. The condo units are nicely appointed and self-contained with a full kitchen, sitting and dining areas. The views are pretty fabulous too.

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In the last 15 years we have seen a lot of changes at the beach. We used to find lots of rocks and shells. Now we are seeing mostly sand as the land erodes. They are trying to protect the beachfront by dumping large boulders along the leading edge. Sadly not all of the property owners bought in to the plan and the waves are eating around the backside of the boulder blockade.  We noticed a lot of changes even from a month ago with all of the wild storms we had. I think they are going to have to invest in some serious rocks to preserve these buildings. They may have to construct something similar to the structure of the Jetty itself to stand up to the power of the water and waves.

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This is almost high tide, and there is about 10 to 15 feet of water down there where we used to be able to walk.

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We always bring the assortment of kites. Depending on the wind speed, different kites will fly, or not. Every trip Eric tries to find a new piece of ‘laundry’ to fly from the kite line. (I’m not making that up, it’s the term kite flyers use for the spinners and other things they fly with their kites.)

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This time we were able to get the Macaw aloft, and once the breeze picked up a bit, Eric’s big power sled with the new 75′ tail. The breeze didn’t last long, but we at least managed to snap a picture of it unfurled. When we added the lightest spinner he had it was too much and pulled the kite down.

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This morning, over the course of an hour, we sighted several whales heading north! We saw a momma and her calf heading south last November, so this was pretty cool.

Add a seal or a sea lion to the list of things spotted in the surf!

 

 

 

It is nice when people gift you things. In this case, it is fabric. I am always glad to have more fabric, especially if I don’t have to spend a bunch of money to get it!

In this case, a friend of a coworker needed to have some help clearing out their parent’s place. He came across the fabric and yarn stash that was slated for either the Goodwill or the dump. He asked if he could take it home for a friend. Ten totes worth!

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This is what it looked like when we unloaded them into my dining room. Unfortunately, Eric forgot to mention that he thought he smelled cigarette smoke. Now my house has the smell of stale cigarettes in several rooms, as the fabric is steeped in it. My free fabric now has the added cost of laundering before I can use it. That cost is still much less expensive than if I went out and bought all of this.

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After some searching on the internet and several practice runs, I figured that the first wash with the powdered detergent followed by a wash of Dairy Du with 3/4 cup of white vinegar will remove the smoke smell from the cottons. The poly/cotton blends seem to hold the smell no matter what combo I try.

I lost count on the number of loads I have washed, but I’ve been working on it for about three days. I pre-sorted the fabrics into stuff I want. Stuff that will make good pillow cases for our Cyber Elves project and blocks for the Circle of Comfort quilts. And finally materials that will be usable for the After ‘Ours sewing class. There is at least one tote of fabric that will go to the Angel Guild (the community thrift store) as I have no use for it, and certainly no space!

This is where I am so far with several more loads to do.

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My sister will be heading out to choose what yarns she is going to take. With her new loom habit, she is cooking through the yarn in a big way. Thankfully for her, the yarn doesn’t seem to be as smelly.

This is the second quilter’s stash I have inherited. It has really made me think about what I have and what I am doing with it. I have specific projects in mind for fabrics, but may not have stuck instructions with them. I know getting through all of the fabric I have will take a while, but I am being much more diligent about shopping my own supply first. I’m even being very selective with the “free” stuff I’m accepting.

I will say, if you have a unfinished project, you should probably leave a set of instructions, diagram, or at least the name of the thing with it. It will help whomever inherits your stash after you are gone.

Back to folding my “free” laundry!

 

 

Well, another year slipped by somehow. I am pretty sure the adoption of this girl put a halt to “extra time” around here.

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Eve is an Anatolian Shepherd which is a breed of Livestock Guardian Dog (LGD). We have pretty much decided that the word shepherd is more a of a description of their body type that their purpose. They rarely herd anything, but are excellent guardians.

This is her mug shot from the shelter after her arrest for poaching the neighbor’s poultry. She was about a year old, and didn’t have a job, so she went looking for things to do. As kids are wont to do, they usually pick the wrong things without parental direction.

Thankfully a very wise Deputy Sheriff Animal Control Officer had an understanding of the breed, and negotiated with the poultry owner to find her a new home where she wouldn’t bother him any longer. We brought one of our sassiest goats with us on the day we interviewed her, and they got along just fine.

We started her out on a long line and only allowed her out with the stock while we were in the pasture. She fell in love with Emily and Jaiden and was their protector and fellow puddle jumper.

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A week after her arrival, she let herself out of the pen, installed herself on a wire spool to watch the goat herd and hasn’t looked back. She found herself a job!

She has weathered her first kidding season, show season, and breeding season with minimal issues. She has enjoyed the addition of two new barn kittens, as Mookie refused to play with her, or even inhabit the same barn.

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This year she is a little sad, as the first baby is being dam raised, and Momma isn’t a big fan. She still gets some play time in though.

I can recommend this breed as a great livestock guardian dog. I would, however, strongly encourage you to go through a reputable breeder of working stock to get started with this breed. Not all of the dogs are suitable for every situation. A good breeder will help you find a good match for your situation.

Anatolians are vey independent thinkers, and will take obedience commands under advisement and get back to you. This trait is very valuable when covering a large range and protecting their herd. Not so handy if you want an obedient house pet. They also have a nifty habit of digging holes large enough to completely conceal themselves and most of the Seahawks Offensive line. Again, not good for nicely landscaped and manicured yards.

We have had five of these dogs so far. All but one of them have been wonderful. Our one failure was put into a bad situation by her original owners not being honest with us regarding her personality. She didn’t like men or children; we have both. Cars were mostly unknown to her, and we front a busy road. Goats were much smaller than the horses she had been with and she was wary of them. Sadly, we could not find her a perfect home where she could be left to mind a herd of larger livestock with minimal human contact. She had bitten me in fear, refused to stay inside the fences, and crossed the final line when she started pacing cars and people walking along the road. For the safety of all parties involved, we had to put her down.

You can see why I was very leery of another rescue dog. Thankfully, we gave Eve a chance and went to see her for a job interview! This girl is almost the polar opposite of the last rescue. Given the chance, I think Eve would like to become a lap dog in the house!

Otis, King of the Spool

She has even made through-the-fence friends with Otis our old man. (I would let her in the buck pen to play with him, but her long hair would hold that buck-funk smell way too long!) The other issue with that is she will never be trustworthy around the poultry. The chicken coop is inside of the buck pasture. That would be way too much temptation for her to resist and we don’t want to invite disaster.

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While cleaning out a couple of cabinets this winter, I found several items that we no longer needed, or may have never needed, but ended up with anyway.

I found a baby bottle/food warmer tucked in there. Huh. I’m not sure if it was ever used for Emily. Since she’s nine now, I probably won’t be warming any bottles for her again.  What am I going to do with it now?

Well I wonder how warm the water actually gets. Could I use it to defrost and warm a bottle of colostrum for the baby goats? I hate to leave the bottle warming on the stove top in the house since I’m not there to keep eyes on process. Sometimes things get hung up and I can’t get back up to make sure I haven’t made colostrum pudding, or run the pan out of water. Worst case scenario, I try it, it doesn’t work well for my purposes and it just makes a later trip to the thrift store.

Bottle Warmer

It looks like I have a new barn buddy. I dropped a bottle with 500ml of frozen colostrum in there, added warm water, and set it to 2. By the time the doe kid was born, dried off and ready to eat, so was the colostrum. (Maybe an hour?)  I actually cranked it to 3 to ‘finish’ heating it, and I got the milk too hot and had to cool it down. The lowest setting would be good if it was already warm when you brought it down to the barn. Level three is ‘coffee pot’ hot. (Oooh! I wonder if my ceramic travel coffee cup will fit in there? If it does, NO more cold coffee by the end of morning chores!)

If you have one, know someone with children who might have one, or you see one at a garage sale/thrift store, you might think about adding it to your kidding kit. It will take a 20 ounce, standard-sized diameter soda bottle, but that is about the maximum. It is oval shaped, so you could float the 4 ounce Gladware cups in it too. I haven’t tried it with the food saver bags, but my guess is they would work in there too.

Our first kids of 2015 have arrived.

It’s a pretty remarkable story, and this is the condensed version. I sold two does six years ago as pets. A set of circumstances put the woman who ended up with them in contact with me to re-home them for her. I went to pick them up for delivery, and checked for tattoos. They were our breeding. The two pygmies that she also had went on to their new home. The dairy girls returned to our farm.

This is Whacky as a kid, and you can see she was a pretty good buddy for a little girl.

Whacky & Em 2008

Neither girl had been bred in the six years they were off the farm. Folly, the Toggenburg,  settled via AI on the first try.

She provided us with triplet doe kids Friday night. They were pretty well twisted up in there. Folly & all three doelings survived, which surprised me. It was pretty rough going.

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In keeping with our naming system, all three of these girls will end up with names that start with the letter F. We have Tyvek neck bands to identify the kids. All of the kids from one dam normally have the same color band. Then comes the trouble of identifying each kid when they all look a lot a like. One of our friends uses a hair clipping pattern system to identify the kids. With this thought in mind, I saw the permanent markers on the sewing table last night. Hmmm. It will eventually either wear off, or I can clip it off.

Quick Color ID

I think this will be very helpful when the Saanen kids start landing as they are all white. This year’s crop will all have the same sire, so they may look more alike than normal.

A check in the barn turned up this limping beauty this afternoon. Nice job Errol!

Wound clipped to see damage

We have found all sorts of stuff that has worked its way up through the soil around here. I’m guessing we have some glass out there somewhere. We’ll keep looking for it.

Cut flushed

For a change I had the camera with me in the barn, so here is the way I treat a wound like this. First, I cleaned off the mud and clipped the hair back to find what the wound actually looked like. Then I cleaned the wound tract by irrigating it with hydrogen peroxide. In this type of case I have found it very helpful to have a squirt or spray bottle with the hydrogen peroxide in it. It has some pressure behind it to flush the dirt out of the cut.

Gauze packing

I wanted to keep the medicine in contact with the wound. I cut a 4×4 of gauze in half, folded that in quarters length-wise. I soaked it in the Schreiner’s herbal solution, and placed the gauze between the toes. I also flooded some of the Schreiner’s into the cut.

treatment plan

I cut a piece of 4″ wide vet wrap (self-adhesive bandage) to fit the bottom of the hoof. I pulled a length off the roll that would wrap around the hoof to secure it from dirt. I split the 4″ wide stuff in half to give me two lengths. When using vet-wrap you need to make sure you don’t wrap it too tightly and cut off circulation. If you are a ‘puller’, wrap a few of your fingers under the bandage and then remove them, that will give some breathing room.

vet-wrapped just tight enough to keep out debris

Wrap the bandage so that you catch the edges of the bottom piece. This wrap isn’t for support, but to keep bedding and other debris out of the wound. It just has to be snug enough to hold together.

trailer first aid kit

This is also a good time to talk about an emergency kit for the barn/trailer. This one is a hardware cinch sack. I store it in a recycled laundry soap bucket with other emergency supplies. These are actually designed to stack in a round, 5 gallon bucket. With the exception of the warm water & hydrogen peroxide, everything I needed to treat this cut was in the bag. I thought I had a tube of hydrogen peroxide gel in there, but it was no where to be found.

I’ll be replacing the gauze pads and rolls of vet wrap, topping off the liquid soap, and adding the H2O2 to refresh the kit. These buckets are kept near the barn doors, so in the event of an emergency, I can load them in the trailer quickly.

She also received a dose of tetanus anti-toxin, since it was about a year ago she had her shots and we haven’t given our boosters yet for the year. I don’t know exactly what cut her, so we are being cautious since I know she had mud and manure in it.

She’ll get this changed twice a day while it heals. I hope orange is her color!

My step-dad, not-so-subtly, hinted that he got cold while sitting in the chair during dialysis, and that it would be nice to have a blanket.

Basic Ship

Hint taken.

I mulled over several possibilities for patterns, but none of them really moved me to make them. I was flipping through an older quilting magazine I had checked out from the library and found a paper-pieced pattern for a ship. The ship looked more like a vintage steamer, but close enough to a tug or side profile of a short-bodied freighter. I enlarged it from about 4 inches square and then had to figure out a setting for it.

I decided on the Storm at Sea setting. This meant I had to turn the pattern to rest ‘on-point’ to fit the pattern. So a bit more re-designing was necessary to keep the integrity of the final design motion.

Coast Guard Ship

Since I couldn’t leave well enough alone, I thought a couple of Coast Guard cutters (or my version of them) would be appropriate additions. Especially considering his service before his career as a longshoreman. They are as close as I could come to rendering them accurately in fabric. Just for fun I added some of the fabric with the octopi in it. I also named the two cutters the USCG Coleman & the USCG Emily M. I figured he could use the laugh at the octopi trying to get the ships and the mental hug from us when he sat under it.

This is a pretty bad photo of the top before it was quilted and bound. The finished piece is layered with Warm & White and backed with light blue flannel. It is considered a lap quilt, but for it’s size it’s pretty heavy. (This is what happens when you are trying to take photos at night when you are Night Owl quilting! Perhaps I’ll get a better shot of it one of these days when the sun is up and Dad is holding it.}

Ship Shape

I do hope he liked it. His only comment I heard was, “I’d hate to get blood on it.” To which I replied “It is washable and I made it for you to use.” I haven’t heard any more about it. I did notice that it wasn’t laying on the rocking chair where it landed after we opened gifts on Christmas morning.

I hope he is using it and that it brings him warmth & comfort as we meant it to.

The buck barn has been finished for a few months. OK, almost 6 months. I obviously neglected to post the final installment in the saga.

Siding in Progress

The metal was all repurposed from either the shop or the barn builds. We had mostly grey siding to work with. We certainly tried to use that first, and on the sides that would be the most easily viewed from the house. Three of the four sides are indeed grey, and keep some continuity with the rest of the outbuildings. The half wall is made up of the tan colored pieces that the metal company used to protect the grey when strapping it down for shipping. It works great, and I seriously doubt that the neighbors are going to care that they get to look at the tan side, if they can even see it through the trees.

Scrappy Siding

The inside was a bit of a design challenge when it came to the hay feeder. The feeders in the Retirement Home and the Milker Barn are the slatted jobs to reduce hay wastage. The buck necks are much thicker. The danger of having their heads stuck between the slats and their pen-mates deciding to take a cheap shot is pretty high. We modified the feeder to have horizontal slats to prevent the boys from just coming over the hay box. We installed a salt & mineral feeder on the inside edge of the hay box. The boys don’t seem to mess with it like they did the one mounted to the wall.

Buck barn feeder/storage

The front of the building can hold a dozen bales of hay. We did add the section of cattle panel to keep the goats from leaning over the half wall and helping themselves to the hay quite so easily.  A grain bin and the dog food bin fill out the space. This set up makes it very easy for anyone to feed the boys no matter what time of the year that it is. Once the bucks are busy with the grain in the hay feeder you can slip in and feed the dog without getting funky. Eventually we will have a separate entrance to the chicken coop so we don’t have to access the coop only through the buck pen.

We will finish insulating the walls this spring/summer. I will say that the next one we build will have the roof insulation installed before the metal goes on. The condensation on the ceiling makes it rain inside when the wind blows. It ought to help with the heat in the summer too.

The guys installed an outlet for the electric fence charger and a light socket. The light has been very nice on the dark days of winter. We left the floor as dirt for better drainage. The one drawback with the dirt floor is the Anatolian Shepherd Livestock Guardian Dog. He likes to dig a nest. We’ve come in to feed him, and nearly fallen into the sleeping pit that he dug next to the gate!

Ed & Cute 1/3/15

The boys seem pretty happy with their new digs. Edvard, the Saanen buckling, will be reintroduced to the pen in a few weeks. He was a scraper, but with Wynton, Cute, and Otis in there, he was getting the short end of the hay feeder. Seeing as he was still a kid, we pulled him out and let him test the middle pen. It is where we transition the keeper kids from the indoor pen to being outside. Once they are tall enough to get their heads in and out of the big hay feeder on their own, we put them out with the big girls.

The timing of the construction of Buckingham was spot on. During one of our windstorms this fall, the old buck shack fell over! All but one of the posts had been destroyed by termites. I was so glad to not have to be out there trying to make some emergency repairs in nasty weather. (Been there. Done that!)