Category Archives: flowers

Holiday Weekend

It was a beautiful holiday weekend here in Wisconsin. We couldn’t have asked for better weather.

The Golden Laced Wyandotte chicks were moved out to their netted pasture. They are about a month old now. They’re loving the fresh air, sunlight, grass, and insects. Our broody Wyandotte hen hatched out nine adopted babies, so that little family was also put in the electric netting for “safekeeping”.

In addition to moving the chickens around, Jeff and our Farmhand Extraordinaire, Dakota, got us caught up on goat vaccinations and hoof trimming, fencing, yardwork, hay moving, and a billion other tasks. Thanks for all the hard work, guys!


We had a great time at the Altoona fireworks with our friends, Dakota’s family. Dakota’s brother, Tanner, gave us a private fireworks show in his backyard afterwards. This is his stash. It was quite an impressive display!

We watched Tanner’s fireworks from the comfort of our friends’ new screen porch, which is the ultimate in summer comfort. What a great area to relax with friends! These guys are great hosts and it’s always great to spend time with them.

That’s Dakota there in the center of the photograph. We are going to miss him when he goes off to college this fall. Jeff says that Tanner will have a job here on the farm as soon as he is old enough. Two finer young men can’t be found!


Knowing of our love for fishing, our friends generously invited us to access the Eau Claire River from their property. Chef Jeff and I had a lovely afternoon there yesterday. Though we didn’t catch anything, we enjoyed being out in the woods and seeing the gorgeous scenery.

Afterwards, the Chef prepared the catfish he’d caught last week according to a recipe from this beautiful book, which also included recipes for homemade refried black beans and great guacamole. It was an outstanding meal, though we somehow got our hands on a jalapeño that must have been grown near a nuclear reactor because that thing was HOT – and this judgment from people who use habañero sauce on a regular basis!


We are so glad that Otter is acclimating to her new home. The other dogs love her… well, Molly tolerates Otter, but Molly’s coming along (that’s just her way – growl first, make friends later.)

Otter has Lyme disease so she’s on antibiotics for a little while. She doesn’t seem to have had toys or chews before; she’s finally understanding that baked cow ears are a good thing:

When Otter was found she was suffering from heat exhaustion. We are so grateful to our wonderful vet for taking her in for us for treatment and boarding, despite her history being unknown. We intend to go to a town meeting to see how we may be able to change the policies and procedures of our township in order that stray animals may receive temporary housing and care in a more efficient manner; we are not served by the County shelter due to the lack of a financial agreement between them and our township. There has to be a better way, and we shudder to think what could happen if one of our own beloved dogs went missing.

So yes, now we are a five-dog family. I would think we were certifiably nuts, except that the entire vet staff said they hoped we’d keep Otter because they knew we’d be good parents. And Valentine is getting up there in years and has Cushing’s, so, after all, we may be back to a four-dog family in the not-too-distant future anyway.

But if I had my wish, there would be a loving home for every dog… until there is, we will take in whomever the Creator sends us, sharing our blessings.


In crafting news, I am this close to finishing up my Drops blue alpaca lace shawl… just on the final rows. I started a Koigu “mindless” sock for traveling-to-fishing-holes knitting, and I hope to do some sewing this week before Saturday’s MaryJane’s Farmgirls meeting, where everyone will ask me if I’ve made any progress on my current stitching project (not yet, and it’s already been three weeks since our last meeting!)

I’ve seen a cute sewing pattern made up on this blog, and I purchased a copy here. The construction looks super easy, and I think it will be a neat use for some of my Tanya Whelan/Free Spirit or 3 Sisters/Moda girly-girl, flower fabrics.

Have a wonderful day!

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Filed under animal of the day, animals, farm chickens, farm chores, farm fence, farm knit, farm recipes, fiberarts, fishing, flowers, food, gratitude, holiday, knit, nature, pets, summer, weather

This Week In Farming

Busy, busy week at Tuppinz Farm. Here are some of the highlights…

The sheep and goats were finally shorn! They are so relieved to be nekkid, as the days are starting to get very warm. That’s “Fontina” (whom we call “Caribou” for obvious reasons) in the foreground. Need fleece? We have LOTS!

This year’s Largest Fleece award goes again to our Jacob ewe Montana. Jeff tells me the Shetland fleeces are again very nice and soft. I’m looking forward to keeping the two badger-faced Icelandics’ fleeces for my own use – they are identical in coloring so it will be nice to combine them and have enough matching wool for a big project.

I would have preferred that shearing not take place on the same day the farrier and vet were scheduled to attend to the donkeys, but on a farm, you have to roll with the punches. Farriers, farm vets, and sheep shearers are not as easy to coordinate as the business projects I was used to in my “former life”. There simply is no option to have a “Type A” personality on a farm.

Poor Michelle had to have her shearing appointment on a day when she couldn’t even be home! I hear her wether’s fleece is really nice…

Potatoes are up and growing nicely. We’re using this method.

My crazy junk garden is also doing well.

I tried to make raised beds using only materials I could scrounge up around here. I decorated with rusty bits of metal that were found on the property.

I’m growing lettuces, hot peppers, tomatoes, scallions, cucumbers, basil, cilantrol, parsley, three pumpkins, and sunflowers. We had lots and lots of rain this past week and the plants loved it.

We moved about 100 iris plants from the area that became the veggie garden, and popped them in the beds in front of the house. Several of them flowered despite this insult. We have planted echinacea I started from seed, as well as rudbeckia, in one bed, and roses in the other; next year it should be very pretty – all purple and yellow.

Little goats are growing like weeds, too. Here are sisters Elfine and Daisy May, almost all grown up (but still very tiny!)

The purchased Golden Laced Wyandotte chicks have their wing feathers now. Soon they will no longer need a heat lamp. They enjoy the thinnings from the veggie garden – feeding them teaches the chicks to eat greens (which they won’t learn without parents to raise them) and it gets some good vitamins into them.

We had a lovely Wyandotte hen go broody. Unfortunately, before we realized she was nesting, we gathered the eggs she was laying each day for the refrigerator. We then noticed that she – and she alone – was hanging around with our single Golden Laced Wyandotte rooster… the two chickens we most hoped would reproduce. Hobby Farm Mistake #1027 – when the chickens you want to breed actually do, let the eggs turn into chicks!

So as not to waste her broodiness, we collected two days’ worth of eggs which will hopefully become mixed-breed chicks, and stuck them under her. She accepted them readily. Hobby Farm Mistake #1028 – when you have a hen that is broody and you want to hatch out chicks, consider the fact that she is nesting in front of hay bales you will need to access in the next month – not the best choice of locations for anyone involved.

Last Saturday, we went to the farmers market in Eau Claire, at Phoenix Park. It was raining and quite cold, but we had a great time. On our walk back, I saw this Labyrinth in the park – what a neat thing!

On the way home, we stopped at a couple of places to fish for a little bit. Did I mention it was rainy and cold? The only trophy was an ugly thing I caught called a river chub, which went gently right back into the water. We gave up on a fish dinner and went to Tep’s Drive-In in Augusta, for their amazing garlic fries. Got to love a place with carhops – especially in an Amish village.

I ended up the week with a meeting of my MaryJane’s Farmgirls group yesterday. We met at Dee Dee’s Diner in Northfield and had a great time chatting and knitting and sharing pictures.


Dianne, Kayley, Dawn, Michelle

We meet on the second Saturday of each month to just hang out and do whatever… we talk about animals, crafts, gardening, and end up laughing. One doesn’t have to be a “real” farmgirl to join; as MaryJane Butters says, “‘Farmgirl’ is a condition of the heart.” We’re just a bunch of gals out to learn new things and meet new friends.

The weather has turned glorious. First hay cutting this week. Crickets, junebugs, and moths abound (one notices this when one takes up fly fishing…) Baby squirrels exploring their world. The glow of light as the sun begins to cross the horizon is more amazing each and every evening. What a wonderful time of year.

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Alive And Kickin’ (And Picture Heavy)

Been a while, huh?

Just like my knitting and spinning… sigh! What have you been up to?

The snow here has melted.

Spring sprang while I wasn’t looking and summer‘s in full bloom already.

Springtime on a farm is amazingly busy and there hasn’t been a moment to update you all, tho’ I’ve taken tons of pictures. Poor Jeff had the duty of cleaning the deep bedding out of the goat barn after the winter season. He had to borrow this manure spreader from the neighbor, and filled it – by hand, by himself – several times before he was through. Ouch!


Remember Eggbertina?

She grew…

And grew some more, and was introduced to the flock…

And now she’s doing just fine on her own with the other chickens – though she does still think she’s a human child, and tends to follow me around as I do chores or walk the dogs.

I think she looks just like her papa:


The sheep and Angora goats went from being wild and wooly:

…to being much more comfortable.

The fiber is at a local processor this time, and I’m expecting it back in just three short weeks, rather than eight or nine months.

And here is an update on little Elfine!

The little buckling’s name of “Periwinkle” didn’t go over well with Cheff Jeff, and now he is known as “Jack”. Probably a good thing.


Jeff successfully completed his certification at the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, and is now going to give exams to potential hockey referees throughout Wisconsin. That is, after his second knee surgery later this week. Go, Jeff! Not bad for a guy who didn’t start skating until after we were married (fifteen years ago yesterday!)

And the next post has to do with… donkeys!

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…But Will I Have Time To Read It?

Hobby Farm Mistake #346: Thinking you will ever have time to shower, maintain a blog, or keep up with your magazine subscriptions once you have livestock.

Did that knowledge keep me from clapping my hands gleefully, and resubscribing, when I saw that this was starting up again?

It did not.

If what I did for the past two weeks involved anything besides manure, I’d have a photo for you.

[Cue crickets chirping.]

Well, maybe there is something I can show…

I was sent a pic of a beautiful spindle utilizing a double-sided mandala from Nepal as the whorl, and of course I couldn’t resist it.

You’ll never guess who made this… unless you were to spin on it, and then you’d know for sure!

I also ordered a Golding Lazy Kate I, which is beautiful and works wonderfully.

Besides goat poop, my current interests (as seen here) are reading about farmgirl pursuits like those in Maryjane Butters’ books; knitting some baby socks for our friends’ new little boy, Donovan, from some lovely Rowan yarn; finishing spindling the Ashford Club’s Shrek Rogue Merino fiber; and assembling my new dog/goat cart (which I won on Ebay for much less than list price).

I tried knitting one baby sock from the top down and didn’t like the traditional heel, so I made a pair from my toe-up formula instead, along with a little hat to match (top-down – I’m such a rebel). This is the most knitting I’ve done in months, as is evidenced by my foul mood of late. I’m now trying to finish up a “have to” project (a Lopi-style sweater for Jeff, knit with Blackberry Ridge’s yummy, sproingy natural yarns) so that I can get on to something fun, portable, light, and mindless, as my dad’s in the hospital and I’ve a bit on my mind.

My beautiful girl Emma celebrated her first birthday with a grilled leg of organic Jacob lamb, marinated in garlic and lemon juice. YUM!

As you can see, she is taking her puppy-owning duties very seriously, being ever vigilant, and brining up Molly properly. Valentine just rolls his eyes…

Molly is growing like a weed. We’re having her DNA tested so that we know what to expect from her, size-wise and health-wise, in the future. The results haven’t come back yet, but we think she’s partly collie, partly Lab, partly German shepherd dog, and partly wolverine – and you’d agree with that assumption if you ever got to hear her crazy voice. She sounds like a Ninja – it’s indescribable. There’s a reason her middle name is “Pipsqueak.”

Molly’s latest favorite hobby is digging for grubs, roots, and other buried treasures. The girl is tenacious as a Tasmanian devil, fearless when it comes to baiting Emma for a game of chase. Oftentimes I will hear wild noises and come into the living room to find Emma on her back on the futon, Molly sitting on top of her chest and barking furiously because she can’t get a bit of paper towel tube that Emma’s holding in her teeth, just out of reach.

The end of May brought shearing day. An event eagerly anticipated by handspinners becomes one of emotional trauma when you own your first sheep. I mean, look at the size of those clipper teeth! What would pass for a nick at a sheep-n-wool fest instead appears as a gash requiring a trip to the veterinary ER. I had to turn away…

That brings us to Hobby Farm Mistake #347 – thinking you are going to save money by growing your own spinning fiber. According to my calculations, these six fleeces have an average cost of $1,685 per pound. I hope Matt and Jamie at Wooly Knob Fiber Mill are insured, as UPS delivered it to them on Tuesday.

Speaking of fiber expenses, have I introduced you to our blue-eyed Angora doe, Arwen? She comes to us from Tall Grass Farm. If you’re in southern Wisconsin in April or October, their Fiber Jubilee is a really great event.

Arwen is warming up to us a bit and will now eat from my hand (unlike the other goats who will bowl me over to get a bit of grain, or nibble on my ears when I put down a water bucket.)

Speaking of water buckets, thank goodness we ordered this portable fountain to go with our portable pasture fencing. Pippin and Merry enjoy the fresh, cool water.

The neighbors probably think we’re nuts, but goats and sheep do in fact need shade when out to pasture. Since we rotate our grazing area to maximize pasture and minimize parasites, and since there aren’t shady trees available everywhere, we had to make a run to Wal-Mart, which had this goatie gazebo on sale last week. Works great for afternoon naptime.

Gorgonzola was seriously embarrassed after being shorn.

But it wasn’t long before everyone was sportin’ a new do and heading out to pasture.

They complained a bit about the breeze…

… but soon forgot all about Mr. Edward Scissorhands and his evil ways. (That huge tree is a cottonwood – I love it! Wonder if the white, fuzzy sheddings are spinnable… they’re all over the driveway now.)

For the goats, the day was just business as usual, so we found them up to their regular tricks.

Blogger is currently being crabby, so the rest of the pictures will have to wait until tomorrow. Hope these weren’t too many to bore you! Have a great day.

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Filed under animals, farm, farm knit, farm mistakes, fiberarts, flowers, pets

Right On Schedule

Spring has definitely arrived here in Central Wisconsin. Back near Milwaukee, it took a long time coming – a little of this, a little of that, until one day in May it was obvious. Up here, where the weather is harsher, Nature seems hardier, somehow. March 21st arrived and so did the spring signs: red-winged blackbirds, robins, a caterpillar, and a moth all showed up on cue. The grass is showing a bit of green. There are visible buds on the tall maples. Nature seems to have snapped her fingers because of the tighter seasonal schedule – there’s a lot to get growing before it snows again.

The yard is mud where the new well was put in last fall, so the ducks and geese can be seen wearing brown galoshes, and I can be seen in ridiculous orange rubber boots. The animals are feisty and Tulip and the kids decided to make a break for it when I opened the barnyard gate yesterday, apparently going off in search of twigs to nibble. Chef Jeff kindly cut down a rogue maple for the sheep and goats to strip inside their pen today, but it’s obvious the “flerd” is ready for me to set up the electric netting and let them out to greener pastures. Soon, guys, soon… don’t want your hooves to get stuck in the soggy ground!

I found some bulb shoots (iris?) poking up – looking forward to seeing what they turn out to be; this is our first spring at Tuppinz Farm and I’ve no idea what may be planted around the house (what the previous owners may have actually left, as they dug up most of the other perennials from a little garden despite it not being allowed in the sale contract. Grrrr…) I am missing the garden at our previous home – ten years of working on my roses, lavender, trellised vines, the native prairie plantings… sigh! I must wait to establish a new garden here until next year at least, so will have to content myself with houseplants and perhaps some outdoor containers. At least I can drive over to the Amish neighborhood for my flower-viewing fix – now those are some gardens to envy!

I saw the cutest poster here and ordered one here – hope to have it framed and hanging soon. I need to see that message on a daily basis right now, believe me!

There will be a lack of photos here for a while due to a server problem. Hopefully the boogers will stop being boogers soon and Nan, the ICanSpin site, and I will be up and running again. But there’s nothing much to show in fibery news, anyway; I frogged my ripple afghan as I was running out of some of the colors, I’m stalled on Jeff’s Lopi-out-of-Blackberry-Ridge-sweater because there’s no sense finishing it now for spring, and I’m staring at a ball of yarn and a pattern for a little crocheted beanie without much oomph. I’m actually thinking about embroidering something… but maybe I’ll just take Emma Doba on a walk.

Hoping spring has sprung in your neck of the woods as well.

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