|Winter on the Open Prairie - A sea of sienna.|
Winter came and went on the ranch. I have to say, that after last year's nightmare of a winter, this one was a breeze. We had our cold snaps, but they didn't last. We had snow, but it was never a lot, and it didn't stay around long. (I think I spent more time on the tractor moving alpaca manure than moving snow.)We had ice and fog as thick as a down blanket. We had a lot of wind, which made the cold even colder. But here we are, March 1st.
Oh, I'm sure it's going to still snow, but again, it won't last. The sun is high. Even the thick ice on the 1800 acre lake below us is gone. Only the thin ice that forms each night on the still water greets each morning, but is gone by noon.
The flocks migrating snow geese fill the skies like a cloud of smoke when disturbed from the lake or when coming in to roost on the water at night, and when leaving by the thousands each morning. The sound is alien, but joyous.
I've been busy on the ranch this winter doing all the little things that don't need to be done outside. Things that you can manage inside as to not waste a lovely day outdoors. My shop on etsy.com, GnomeGnomeOnTheRange, is up and running. It has some antiques, some weaving, lovely pillowcases, and soon will have wonderful gardening aprons and what I call Orphan Barrel Dresses for Toddlers, and of course, an array of alpaca yarns. Which are going fast, so don't wait too long to get yours. For my spinning and fiber art friends, I also have bags of cleaned and washed alpaca fleece.
I gutted and remodeled another bathroom. Yes, the ugly urine yellow one on the lower level has been brought into the 21st century and is now a lovely shade of stormy sea blue, and the floor is cherry.
We decided to add another 10 trees to the orchard and the irrigation that goes along with them. The trees are all heritage grafts, to include one from a certified Johnny Appleseed (Chapman) tree. How cool is that? The trees should be here at the end of the month.
I built a small animal chute, which will hopefully help with alpaca toenail spa day. (Now, I just need to catch a victim, em ...volunteer.)
I built a second Top Bar Hive. This one went much faster than the first, due mostly to the fact that I'd done it before. It has a few changes from lessons learned last time around and is painted a lovely glowing blue shade of Hydrangea/Lilac/Wisteria.
I earned my State Teaching Certification, which required me to take a modern Human Resources College course to update. It was an 8 week course that I took as a full time job, and finished it in 10 days- 24 essays and papers. I thought my brain was going to explode and my fingers were going to fall off.
I earned my State Food Handler's permit so that I can now sell baked goods at my friend's floral shop along with the honey and eggs.
I earned my CHP certification, and was awarded this year's Swiss and Royal Canadian Mounted Certifications.
I created a custom Tartan design for the Ranch and it was accepted into the Scottish Register. (I'll share it when the official paperwork gets here.) I'll be getting it warped onto the loom this week and hopefully have the sash done for my DAR convention at the end of March. OH....
I was accepted into DAR, Daughters of the American Revolution, and have continued to do research to add to my long list of patriot ancestors. It is time consuming, but fascinating. I had a fellow etsy.com artist design me a custom wardrobe and it is gorgeous. LOL. On a day you feel like a giantess, I suggest you put on a 18th century bumroll, and all 3 petticoats and jacket, and see how slimming your 21st century clothes make you feel. Although I am perfectly comfortable in my period costumes and wish I could wear them all day long, all the time like my fellow online blogger Thea ,but it's just not practical here. She's an inspiration.
My friend Kelsey, had her re-Grand Opening of her new shop in Stromsburg, Spindle Shuttle and Needle. In celebration of that event, I made her a large 4 foot square Dala horse of her very own for outside the shop. Shops all over downtown have them in support of the town being the Swede Capital of the State.
We've been playing with making our own Farmer's cheese and we're hooked. We especially like plain with cinnamon and honey, but garlic-onion-black pepper is our hands down favorite.
I've taken to grinding my own wheat in a KtichenAid Grain mill which turned out to be total garbage. I had to grind it 6 times to get it to the quality of flour and it almost killed my machine, and I have a professional machine!
I switched to the NutriMill Plus Mill which takes all of 2 minutes to grind two weeks worth of fine flour from high quality red wheat berries. Those I order from Minnesota, and have come up with a delicious 100% whole wheat sandwich bread. I've been making it once a week.
It freezes well and makes a great toast, which is high on my 'must' list for a bread.
I found an enormous, antique, bread dough trough that was brought here by homesteaders in the 1880s. I scrubbed it down, dried it, and rewaxed it. It is now ready for use, but I almost don't dare. I might break it in this week or next. She's almost too pretty to use.
The seeds for this year are on order. The sweet potatoes are in jars on the window sill sprouting starts for me.
The chickens and alpacas are doing their best to entertain us all while they themselves are going stir crazy.
|Twill Place Mats fresh off the loom.|
So here's to the last day of a productive Winter, and to a busy Spring!