Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Repurposing an old sweater

I am not a fan of cowl neck sweaters, so when I received this one as a gift it just sat in my closet unworn. (although it is a pretty sweater)
I've seen a lot of patterns on Pinterest for ways to turn these sweaters into other items: mittens, cardigans, skirts, purses, and I figured this one would be perfect for just that.
I decided to make a pair of leg warmers, a hat, and a cowl.

I cut the sweater for the pieces I needed and immediately zig-zag stitched the edges to stop it from fraying 

I then turned those edges under, to hide the zig-zag, and hand hemmed the edge with yarn. For the hat I singe crocheted around the edge and then cinched it closed.

leg warmers, cowl, and hat

leg warmer from the sleeve of the sweater.

cap made from the cowl neck of the sweater
All complete and I think they came out pretty good! 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Herbal Healing Salve

I make a batch of healing salve every year or two. We've found it works well for cuts, scrapes, insect bites and burns. In fact, on a burn it seems to relieve the pain rather quickly. I keep a large jar in my medicine cabinet and a couple of small jars go into my purse and first aid kits. For containers I got these small jars from Mountain Rose Herbs (I've also seen them on Amazon):

Plastic jars from Mountain Rose Herbs. 2-4 oz sizes are good for salve.

To make the herb infused oil you want to take olive oil and either cover your chosen herbs with oil in a jar and let them sit for 3-6 weeks, shaking the jar each day OR steep them in warm oil for a few hours and then strain the herbs out. If you don't want to go through the trouble of making the infused oil you could use plain olive oil and add essential oils for the herbs you want to use. 

You might be able to wild harvest some of your herbs. I am able to find St. John's Wort and Plantain on our property and I'm still searching for more medicinal herbs that I can harvest!

my recipe:

1 cup herbal infused oil (any mixture of St. John's Wort, Plantain, Calendula, and/ or Comfrey)
1 - 2 oz. Beeswax (depending on how thick you want it to be)
2 1/2 tsp or 10 capsules Vitamin E Oil 
½ tsp. each Tea Tree and Lavender essential oils

Simply melt your bees wax in a double boiler, add the oil, vitamin E (to preserve your salve) and last your chosen essential oils.
Pour the salve into containers and allow it to cool.

my last (very well used) batch of salve. it's going to be
time for a fresh one soon!

This could be made without the vitamin E and will last 6-9 months stored at room temperature. I would really recommend using it if you can, it makes the salve last much longer.
They make nice gifts too!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Meet the goat herd!

I finally got a chance to get photos of all the goats so I could show you the group! Of course none of them wanted to sit still so excuse the blurry pictures.

This is Big Momma. She's and 8 year old nubian/ red boar cross. She one of the first goats we bought when she was only 6 weeks old. I rode home with her on my lap! With her is her boy who was the first kid born this year just after Thanksgiving. We'll keep him for our back-up buck.

This is Peanut. (if you saw her when she was born you would understand the name) A nubian/ alpine/ lamancha cross, daughter of Skinny, granddaughter of Big Momma. She's about 4 years old now, last year was her first year milking and after getting her trained to the stanchion she did quite well.

This is Skinny, a nubian/ alpine cross, daughter of Big Momma, mother of Peanut. She's about 6 now. Her name was more fitting in previous years but she has really filled out this past year and is probably in the best shape she's ever been. She's the most friendly goat we have and loves being pet. When we're out in the pasture with the goats she's know to sneak up behind you and nudge your arm so you can pet her.

This is Red, daughter of Big Momma, she's just two this winter. I'm still working on getting her use to being touched, she always runs from me. I find that if I keep her in the barn she much more relaxed with me coming near her.

These two cuties are Missy and Dottie. They were born to Peanut just after Thanksgiving. Dottie is the one I had to keep in the kitchen and bottle feed because mom rejected her. Her feet were also bent and I had to splint her legs for over a week until her ankle strengthened. 

The white goat is our buck. So far he's been one of the nicest bucks we've had and doesn't give me too much trouble. However he is fond of ignoring his shock collar and walking through the boundary. That might become and problem and he may have to go to auction when the little boy is old enough to replace him.

The girl behind him is a three year old, alpine/ nubian free loading doe. :P No babies from her yet but hubby thinks he feels babies so maybe this year will finally be her first.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

The PA Farm Show

Thursday we attended the PA Farm Show in Harrisburg. It's the largest indoor farm show in the country and, according to the web site, has "nearly 6,000 animals, 10,000 competitive exhibits and 300 commercial exhibits"! We hadn't gone in a few years but I always watch the week long coverage on PCN. It's so nice to have something like this to break up the winter, I really look forward to it each year!

Each year, in the main hall, they have a giant butter sculpture. It's made with nearly 1000 pounds of butter!  This years sculpture featured people drinking milk shakes and a couple of dancing cows! It's kept in a refrigerated glass case to keep the butter cold.

Also in the main hall is tons of exhibits from bee keepers, wood carvers, maple producers (we saw a really nice sap boiler), wool weavers, painters, pottery makers, the list goes on and on. I got to talk to a lady from the PA Gourd Society and found out that my gourds that I thought I ruined because they froze in the garage are actually fine and should dry perfectly! In fact she told me that often the gourds are left in the garden and harvested the following spring! I didn't know that!

You can also see displays from all the contests from fruit and vegetable growers, hand sewn cloths, pies and cakes, canned goods, bread, honey, photography, maple syrup, etc! For many of them, locals enter their county fair and the winners are then eligible to enter here at the state level.

Of course the kids love seeing the animals, I think that's their favorite part, that and the carousel. The cows are fun to see. I've thought many times about getting a Jersey instead of the goats we have. Mainly because my daughter does not like goats milk and refuses to drink it,  I would have more cream for butter, and my mozzarella cheese would come out better. I just don't know if I could handle to amount of milk I would get from her. But I do love the sweet faces that those Jerseys have!

Over in the poultry room I got to check out the polish chickens. I look for them any time we go to any agricultural fair, I absolutely love those poofy heads! One day I will have day.

Over at the ducks I saw this little breed called bantam call ducks. They are the cutest things I've ever seen! It's seems they're only bred for pets and showing so I can't really justify getting any, but man were they cute!

Unfortunately most of the pigs had already left, but we did get to see a sow and her piglets!

Hubby has talked about raising geese for years now. The grey toulouse geese in the back really caught his eye and I think we may be starting a flock in the spring time. We have a shed near the garden that can be their house and the pasture would provide most of their food in spring and summer.

An incubator in the poultry room lets the kids see chicks hatching. They even have them spaced out so that some are hatching each day throughout the week!

There's another room full of commercial exhibits. Tractors, fence supply companies, trailers, solar products, green houses, all kinds of farming equipment is on display.

There are three arenas in the complex that have various events going on throughout the week. Horse pulls, barrel racing, rodeo, sheep herding, animal judging, tractor square dance, people square dance, tractor pulls, all kinds of events! 
On Wednesday there's the Sheep-to-shawl contest. Groups have three hours to sheer a sheep, spin it into yarn and then weave it on a loom into a shawl. They are judged on all three aspects of the event and afterward winners are announced and the shawls are auctioned off.

There's a lot to see in the 24 acres that the building covers! Everything is inside! But it's worth the 3 hour drive each way for us to see it! 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Why you should roast a turkey when a winter storm is coming...

So your weather report is calling for a big winter storm. You've got your shovels ready at the front door, you've pick up the bread and milk, got fuel for the generator, filled some jugs for drinking water, filled your oil lamps, what else can you do to prepare?

Roast a turkey!!

Sounds strange I know, but I promise it does make sense. The day before the storm you take your frozen turkey out of the freezer and float it in your bath tub to thaw and be ready to cook the next day. In the morning, before the storm really gets going, get that bird into the oven!

Why are we doing this you ask? :
1. The hours that your oven is on will provide needed extra heat to the house during a cold storm. There's nothing like a cozy house while the flakes are flying outside.

2. If power goes out later you don't have to worry about how to cook for your family. You'll have plenty of left over turkey for sandwiches to tide everyone over.

3. One less thing to worry about. After spending hours outside shoveling snow and scraping cars the last thing you want to worry about is running inside to start cooking dinner. Put together a quick salad and you have your meal!

3. That bath tub full of water can be used for flushing if power goes out! 

See, I told you it made sense! So next time you're making your list of storm preps, DON'T FORGET THE TURKEY!