Tuesday, May 29, 2012

New Stuff

Over the Memorial Day Weekend, I've been fooling around with my blog design and I created a new blog for Canterbury Tails Rabbitry that will focus on the bunnies.  Everyone's welcome to check it out. 

This morning I took my breakfast out to the patio to have breakfast with the bunnies and enjoy the outdoors before it got too hot -- or, as it turned out, too rainy.  My hardy geranium self-seeding may have been a disappointment, but these lovely bellflowers were a welcome surprise.  I planted some several years ago, but this year I seem to have quite a few volunteers -- maybe because I finally figured out what the baby plants look like and didn't pull them up as weeds this year.
  My hybrid tea rose is blooming.  When I labeled it, I thought it was yellow.  So much for my memory ... 
My heirloom magnolia's little leaf has grown a little bigger.


Friday, May 25, 2012

Things are Growing

Left to right:  Andy, Genny, and Charlie
Yesterday, Kate and I put together a new hutch for the new bunny -- whose name turned out to be Charlie, after all.  I decided that, albeit small, my rabbitry needed a name, so I'm going to call it "Canterbury Tails Rabbitry."  My husband and I became friends in a Chaucer class in college, so medieval literature has always been special to us.  Despite his allergies, he's been very accomodating of my love for angora rabbits and I thought it would be nice to tip a hat to him by naming the rabbitry after Canterbury Tales.    

Two new chairs and a planter make a restful spot.

Parsley, one bought at the store and three seedlings I grew.

Kentucky Wonder Beans and volunteer tomatoes fight it out in the planter.

A miniature rose getting ready to bloom.

Tiny green shoot in the middle of the picture.  This saucer magnolia is a fighter!
Darned if the heirloom saucer magnolia hasn't put forth a little green shoot.  Wow.  I would have sworn it was dead for sure!  We'll see if it can truly recover or not. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

New Bunny Explores

Here's a short video showing Sam and the new bunny getting to know each other.  The new bunny is now nameless.  The girls decided they didn't want to call him Charlie after all.  We continue to seek out and reject names.  The name of the day is "Teddy," because he sort of looks like a Panda bear. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Kentucky Sheep & Fiber AND Surprises

Kerry, Mary Ann, and Lynne
 Yesterday, Lynne and Kerry and Mary Ann and I took our third annual trip to the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival in Lexington. 
It was a beautiful day, albeit a little on the warm side for May.  The festival is in its third year and it seems to grow a little every year.  This year they added another tent to the two other buildings and they seemed to have more classes to offer. 

Of course, there was meltingly beautiful fiber and yarn in a kaleidoscope of colors. 

And lots of nice people to talk to, like this lady who was spinning angora on her Ashford wheel and was admiring my Canon camera.  She was a true soul sister. 
I also ran into a whole slew of my fiber buddies:  Lorain, Karen, Linda, Norma, Rachel, and Barb.
 We watched a chef prepare a delicious lamb dish and got samples and recipes too! 
And, of course, there were the animals.

Lynne feeding an alpaca

This llama has a totally goofy smile
Last, but not least, I came home with a new family member.  Meet Cookies and Cream from Fiber Crazy Rabbitry in West Virginia.  I just couldn't walk away.

Cookies and Cream meets Kate for the first time

 Ben Randolph had about a dozen gorgeous rabbits for sale at the festival.  I went over to take a look and said "You don't have any Satins, do you?"  Yes he did.  "You don't have any Satin bucks, do you?"  Yes, he did.  Not only that, but he had a broken black satin buck.

 I've always wanted white angora fiber, but the red eyes just creep me out.  So, I've always thought it would be ideal to have a broken or an ermine.  What really clinched the deal was that the buck's mother was Tatiana from Somerhill, and his father's line came from Joan Hasting's stock.  It didn't hurt that when I put him on the table to admire him, he came right to me and put his paws on my chest.  :)

So, he came home with me in Lynne's car.  (Lynne was very sweet about letting him come home with us, even though she's allergic).  He sat quietly on my lap all the way home and seemed to settle in pretty well.  He dove into his food and ate two big handfuls of hay besides.  He was born Feb. 1, so he's about four months old. 

Although his official name is Cookies and Cream, I think we're going to call him Charlie, after Charlie Chaplin.  He has black on his face like a black moustache and he's black and white, like old movies.  We'll see when we get to know him better what we want to call him.  After all, Andy was named Merlin for about a week before it became clear that he was really an Andy. 

Friday, May 18, 2012

The Ultimate Question

Today, I have serious questions about when life ends and death begins.  Specifically, when is a plant definitively dead?  Kathryn and I have been trying to root an heirloom saucer magnolia for about a year.  I started out with 13 cuttings and ended up with one plant that survived the winter indoors with about a dozen healthy green leaves.  About a week ago, I noticed that it was droopy and covered with webs.  I took it outside and sprayed it with plant insecticide and removed all the leaves showing infestation, but slowly each remaining leaf crumpled and turned brown.  So, I gave up and took it out of the pot and threw it away.  When I removed it from the pot, though, I could see that the roots were well developed and didn't look moldy or otherwise distressed.  I cut the stem and it was still pliable and green.  So, I retrieved it from the trash, thoroughly washed the pot, filled it with new soil, rinsed the roots thoroughly and replanted the poor thing.  I guess we'll just wait and see -- but I wonder how long to keep hoping.    

This is my new hat and mitts made from the wool I bought in Ireland, Studio Donegal's "Donegal Irish Tweed."  The hat is in the Double Crossed pattern and the mitts are called One Cable Mitts.  I had just exactly enough yarn to make both of them out of three skeins.

As for my new angora/merino blend yarn, last night I started on one of Lucy Neatby's cool patterns for a short scarf called The Emperor's New Scarf.  I'll post some pictures as I move along, but I'm barely past the cast on at this point.  The angora is starting to fluff up already very beautifully and the yarn feels like butter. 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Beautiful Things

Last week I received an amazing box in the mail.  It was full of softness. 

Several weeks ago, I finally got off my butt and gathered together all the angora fur in the house.  It totalled a little less than 3 pounds -- which is quite a lot of angora.  Much more than I would ever spin on my own, considering that I don't spin all that much.  So, I decided to send it to a mill for processing.  Annette had sent her angora fiber to Stone Hedge Fiber Mill   in Michigan and recommended them.  So, I contacted Deb and sent her my angora plus about  3 pounds of washed but uncarded white alpaca I had sitting around in my basement. I figured she could blend the alpaca with the angora and add some merino for bounce. Fortunately,  Deb took the initiative to save me from myself.  She called and said the alpaca would be lovely on its own and would be wasted in an angora blend -- so we made it 50/50 angora/ merino and spun the alpaca on its own.  

Grey angora/merino
The end result was 5 pounds of three-ply sport weight angora/merino blend yarn and 3 pounds of three-ply sport weight white alpaca yarn.  The angora blend turned out to be a soft grey color.  I was really pleased with the results.  I can't wait to knit with it!!!

White alpaca

After scouring the Internet, I was able to order and add an Apothecary Rose to my collection.  This is one of the most ancient of roses and has been documented prior to the 7th century.  It was carried to Europe from Persia with the returning crusaders and became the symbol for the English house of Lancaster.  It was the red rose in the War of the Roses.  It's called Apothecary Rose due to its medicinal uses and a bush planted outside a shop indicated that a druggist's services could be obtained there.  For example, dried rose petals in wine were supposed to be a cure for hangovers.  With my love of history, I thought this rose would be perfect addition to my garden and it's already had two blooms!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Cwazy Wabbit!

Seriously, Sam is the most patient dog in the world.  He allows the misguided Andy to climb all over him.  What a sweetheart!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Return of "Weed a Week"

I'm sure everyone has been waiting with baited breath for the next installment of "A Weed a Week."  I, on the other hand, haven't been very interested in blogging recently.  I'm not sure why, but I have a love/hate relationship with my computer.  On the one hand, it's my connection to the larger world.  On the other hand, when I find myself sucked in for hours I resent the lost time.  Resisting the siren song of the Internet causes a constant internal conflict.  

So, at last, our next weed is either Henbit Deadnettle or Purple Deadnettle -- I think it's probably Purple Deadnettle.  They look very much alike, and they're closely related, but the Purple Deadnettle has pointier leaves and the leaves are grouped closer together on the stem rather than spread out along its length.  Either way, they're members of the mint family with square stems and opposite leaves.    

The young leaves are edible in salads and as potherbs (plants whose leaves, stems, or flowers are cooked and eaten or used as seasoning).  Medicinally, deadnettle is supposedly good for reducing fevers and as a stimulant.  A tea made with the leaves is said to be a laxative. 

I haven't seen it mentioned in my research but, in my opinion, this weed is very sneaky.  Near where the stem emerges from the ground, it has a weak spot.  If you attempt to remove the plant by pulling, it comes up easily but leaves the root behind to fight another day.  Fortunately, it's very susceptible to Round-Up.  :)   

In other gardening news, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing.  I planted some Johnson's Blue Cranesbill (Hardy Geranium) in my garden a few years ago.  This year I noticed little leaves coming up that looked like hardy geranium all over my garden plot.  "Yay!" I thought.  "The Johnson's Blue has self-seeded and now I have LOTS of them."  This conclusion was reinforced by a trip to the garden store where a leaf was identified as hardy geranium and the Internet where I learned that Johnson's Blue is a prolific self-seeder.  So, I've been nurturing a whole bank of hardy geraniums and anxiously waiting for them to begin flowering.  I've been fertilizing them and  pulling or killing anything that threatened them. 

Finally, yesterday I saw the first buds.  They're tiny pinkish flowers, not large elegant blue blooms.  I did a little research and found that what I've been nurturing so carefully is more likely to be Cutleaf Geranium, which is considered a weed.

Still, they're green and they do have flowers -- even if they aren't the ones I expected -- and they may smother out other weeds, so I guess I'll keep them for the time being and see what happens. 

Today's good thing is my knockout rose, which has suddenly burst into full bloom.  I was enviously watching everyone else's knockout roses and wondering why mine wasn't doing anything.  Apparently, it was marshalling all of it's energy for one big pop -- sort of like a firework bursting all at once.  One day it was bare and the next it was a solid mass of red blooms. 


Andy the angora rabbit turned 9 years old on May 3rd and apparently decided to celebrate by coming down with a case of sore hocks.  Rabbits usually have a soft pad of matted fur on the bottoms of their feet that sort of act like felted shoes.  If  their feet become irritated, they can lose this covering and their feet become sore, inflamed, and possibly infected. 

Annette, God bless her, has been helping me deal with the poor old fellow.  I've been treating his feet with antiseptic and, of all things, preparation H ointment, and bandaging them -- much to his dismay.  He seems to enjoy the having the cool antiseptic dabbed onto his sore feet and the soothing ointment.  It's the bandages that he objects to! 
This morning he was a love when I doctored him.  After I disinfected his feet, I sat and petted him for a while and he fell asleep curled up in my lap with the weight off his feet.