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April 5th, 2009

Whew, spring is coming...

...because I have no time for the computer, that's how I know.

Been really busy lately, mainly in Cleaning Stuff Up. From mucking out the sheep and goat pens to trying to clean out the lean-to of all the fallen hay and other detritus, etc. It's spring, and everything is a great sodding boggy, muddy mess. We got 6 inches of snow suddenly dumped on us the other day, just when it was starting to green up.  The horse pens are awful; there's about an 8 ft. sq. spot in where poor Raven and Eowyn are that is about 2 ft deep and the consistency of cake batter. They try to stay out of it, but....*sigh*  And add to that, last week somehow the two of them upended the wood and wire manger that Forrest built for them, and dumped it right in the edge of that cake-batter spot. The rest of the pen is muddy and slick, and they're wearing away at the ground in places so that there are ledges all over where they haven't stepped. I'm calling it equine-assisted landscaping. I had to partially wade into the mud to try and pull the damn manger out and couldn't do it myself; clay soil is like glue. I ended up actually putting Eowyn's pulling collar on her, only to realize I couldn't possibly put the hames (wood parts that buckle onto the collar) on, because then the tugs (thick leather straps that are attached to the hames, that pull the majority of the load) would drag in the mud and get sodden.

"Hmmmm," says I.

Then I get the bright idea to use one of the long lead ropes as a sort of soft set of hames, if I sink it down into the sunken part of the collar where the hames normally lodge in, and then attach the other end to the manger....luckily, this worked. We pulled the manger free enough that I could get at it and pull it the rest of the way without the danger of me falling into the cake-batter bog. My luck, I'd probably fall in and get stuck in a position where part of me was touching the hotwire; getting repeatedly shocked while standing in  knee-deep mud would add insult to injury, I'm sure.

I bought 20 chicks from the Grange, 10 Buff Orpingtons and 10 Rhode Island Reds. We lost one of the Buffs after getting them home. I found it huddled, barely conscious and reflexively gaping, so I thumped it in the head to give it a quick death. The rest are fledging out nicely.

We also hatched 11 chicks in the incubator, all from eggs out of my hens. I have my two Buff Orpington hens sequestered in a different coop with a Buff rooster, and then the 8 Rhode Island Red hens sort of free-range with the Red rooster. We also have 3 of the 'mutt chickens' (from the last time we hatched eggs, just to see if we could and to get some meat birds) that we decided to keep as laying hens until I get some replacements. After the neighbor's dog got at my flock (that dog is dead next time I see it here, I swear) I was really low on hens. We collected eggs from the Buffs, as well as eggs that looked like they were dark enough to have been laid by the Rhodies, but surprise, surprise; in the midst of the eggs hatching, there were two BLACK chicks in the midst of the golden-yellow and reddish-yellow ones! I think that those two were probably laid by the one 'oddball' hen that I kept. She's white with really pretty black barring and specks in places, and her name is Slut; mainly because I've seen her walking around, suddenly spy the rooster from 20 feet away, and she does the 'crouch' that invites the rooster to come over and jump her.

I attended my first "Spin-in" last weekend up in Couer D'Alene, and oh, what an event that was!! I thought it would just be a few locals getting together to spin, as well as some invited spinners from surrounding areas, and there might be a handful of vendors selling wool and whatnot....

Was I in for a shock! There were at least 50 vendors, door prizes, raffles, demonstrations of things....whew!! I spent about 70 bucks and came home with 4 different varieties of alpaca fiber, lots of different wool roving, some raw Polwarth fleece, some prepared yak (yes, I said yak) roving...whew!!

I have also been starting to make lampworked glass beads. I brought a bunch that I had made just to show some of the local ladies, as well as a few that I had specifically made for a friend; she ooohed and aahed over them, and then said 'You oughta show those to this vendor lady! I bet she'll buy them from you!" I told her that this lady (who made little beaded distaffs that hang on your wrist to hold wool) wouldn't possibly want amateur stuff that I was cranking out, since I was still learning technique.

But she loved them and bought 11 of them from me at a buck apiece!! I had no idea what to charge for them, so I just said a dollar. She also gave me some ideas and color combos she would like, so I guess I have my first commission....or something. :) I've shown them to folks at work when I tell them I have a new hobby, and when they see the beads in my hand they invariably say something like, "Oh, you're collecting beads/doing beadwork?" And when I say, "No, I made these..." The response is usually an incredulous "You MADE these!??" They're a lot of fun, and I will take some pictures soon and post them.

I've started hanging out with the local SCA group, and they're a nice bunch of folks. Apparently my skills as an archer are being somewhat drooled over, and I'm going to be getting/making some light armor to become a combat archer. This ought to be fun, I've never shot at people before.... There's a big event called Honor War coming up, and it will be the first SCA event that I've really been able to participate in.

Speaking of combat, yesterday it was kind of nice, the snow was starting to melt off in patches (finally!) so Forrest and I dragged out stuff for practicing. He's wanting to practice shinai, and I've always been interested in polearms, especially something in the style of a naginata or a glaive. We have an 8 ft. hardwood pole (like a closet rod) and went against each other, in three-weapons masks and hockey gloves.

I have to say, there's just something immensely satisfying about getting past his guard, bonking your mate in the face with a polearm and seeing their head kind of flop back. I believe that's called 'ringing the bell'.....DING!

I also went to the Tutxinmepu powwow today, it's a smaller, local, annual powwow that's always good to go to. Brought my spinning and got a lot done, browsed the vendors (really small turnout this year, sorry to say) and got a pair of shell disc earrings. I'm not much of a jewelry wearer, but I liked these as they could ostensibly be used for buckskinning/rendezvous events, and I like to support the merchants that come out; I try to find something l like everytime I go.

Speaking of buckskinning, Forrest won a great Ebay auction for a lot of this series of books called "The Book of Buckskinning". There's like 10 volumes to this series, it's kind of the equivalent of the 'Foxfire' books for buckskinning. Great to read, and I can't wait to get involved in the local group(s), and start doing some fur-trade era re-enactments. I need another hobby like I need a hole in the head, but....oh well. I'll probably work up a persona of a white woman that assimilated into Native culture after being kidnapped; that was about the only instance of white women on the frontier at that time. Amusingly enough, after the movie "Dances With Wolves" came out, I had more than a couple people tell me they thought I looked like Stands With A Fist......must be the unkempt mane of hair, I suppose.

I was supposed to go get two ton of hay today, but we got back late and then my hay guy was just on his way out to deliver a truckload somewhere, so I wimped out and told him to deliver a ton tomorrow. It'll tide me over for a while, and I won't have to stack it.