Monday, July 25, 2016

Split Creek Thrill Seek

The heat mainly keeps us indoors, but last weekend we got up early and decided to make a quick run to Split Creek Goat Farm.  I've been there many times, coming home with arms full of goat cheese and fudge, but Todd had never been.  Time to remedy that!

Split Creek Farm has been around since 1985.  Their pastures are herbicide- and pesticide-free, and they don't feed hormones to the female goats to increase their milk production.  They started with 3 goats and are now up to almost 400!

 One of the natural methods of pest control used on the farm is utilizing guinea fowl.

They run wild, eating mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas.  Some farmers swear by them to discourage poisonous snakes and rodents, and they drive off intruding birds, too.  Their eggs are supposed to be richer than chicken eggs, but they're hard to find - they lay them in the woods in a rather disorganized fashion.  When Todd and I have our small farm, I WANT GUINEA FOWL.

They have delightfully dotted feathers and I filled my pockets with strays found on the ground.

Here's a female, hunkered down in a grass clump.  What a beauty!

Check out those exotic face wattles!

A farm just isn't a farm without chickens and roosters rambling about.   So many different types, and the sun on their feathers is so beautiful!

Nest boxes are built onto the sides of several barns. I usually peek to see if there are any fresh eggs, but this weekend most nests were occupied.  Sorry, ladies!

Time for a drink!

Baby piglets - both spotted and solid-colored - ran and squealed in their enclosure.

Farms have to have farm dogs, and Split Creek has several.  One was obviously an older dog, but still actively doing her work.  We watched her make the rounds, checking on the various enclosures.

Have you ever met an unfriendly farm dog?  I haven't!

After carefully ensuring that everything was running smoothly, she had a quick back scratch before starting her rounds again! 

Todd was a big hit with the ladies...the lady goats, I mean.

They have a wide variety of breeds, and so many different colors!  Love!  

Apparently every group of goats has a "herd queen" that determines the timing of the daily activities.  It's true!  One goat got up and ambled away from the main fence to the interior of the pasture.  Suddenly, the hundred or so lazing goats were on their feet and following.

Check out the tusks on this pot-bellied pig!

All in all, it was a very enjoyable morning and great fun!  If you'd like to check it out for yourself, here is their web site.  

Have a great week! 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Let Them Eat CAKE.

We had company last week, so I made a homemade cherry chip cake.  The resulting crumb was a little too dense for my liking, so I'm tossing the recipe.  In the future I'm going to take a basic vanilla/white cake recipe and replace part of the milk/liquid with pureed maraschino cherries to give it that extra kick, and use some puree in the frosting, too.  Still, the taste was all right, and it looked pretty:

After everyone left, Todd and I went down by the water.

It was a relaxing morning, just chit chatting before work.  Even though it's been roastingly hot, there was a nice breeze.  Borga came with us...she loves to be a part of things.

Mainly she loves being close to "Dad."

Yesterday, a surprise...R - A - I - N.  Only the second time this summer for us!

I had to go outside today before work, because I know that insects and small creatures are much more active after it rains.  Only a few feet from the front door, I saw a small carolina mantis under a fern frond.

They aren't as disturbingly huge as the ones we had in Indiana (Chinese mantids).  Still, just like the others, this one kept his eye on me the entire time.

Near the base of the fern I saw a tiny young anole.  He was only a few inches long!

Look at his teeny head!  So cute.

I've let the spearmint grow wild in the front beds, so we had lots of buzzing insects on the flowers.

A beautyberry bush is sprouting right in the middle of our front azaleas.  I was going to root it out, but Todd loves beautyberries and volunteered to move it in the fall.  So right now it remains a bit of a bully in its spot.  The flowers are gone and the berries are ripening.  Soon we'll have great color here!

My most exciting discovery occurred just a few feet away.  Now, we have a LOT of hawks around here, and I've identified several.

However, I've heard one call that's been driving me crazy.  It's not the traditional hawk scream/screech that everyone knows.  It's more of a prolonged series of whistles.  Worse, I haven't been able to see the hawk making the call, so it's been nearly impossible to make an identification.  Today I was taking pictures in the front bed and heard the call...almost directly overhead!

I had my macro lens and not the zoom, so I wasn't able to get a good close shot.  But I was able to quickly identify him as a common red-tailed hawk.  I couldn't see the red tail feathers from this angle, but he's got a slightly reddish chest and the other markings help with identification.

But how to explain the call?  None of the traditional bird call sites had this particular call associated with a red-tailed hawk.  I checked website after website and learned that what I was probably hearing was either a courtship or territorial challenge call.  THIS is as close as I've been able to get to the whistles that we hear all day, every day.  I'm SO glad to solve this little mystery.  It's been driving me crazy for weeks!

Even with the recent rain, it's heating up here again.  We're expected to reach 102 degrees by the weekend!  We've been watering and watering the hostas and ferns, who are unused to such glaring direct sun and heat, but they're slowly crisping up all over.

 I just hope they hold on until things cool off a little.

I haven't had time to do much craft work, but I did dig a really cute fair isle baby cardigan out of the .25 bin at Salvation Army.  

 This is an inexpensive inspiration for future projects.  I also found a really cute polka dotted A-line skirt.  It's several sizes too big, but I'm going to try to cut it down and sew it into the right size.  It was only a dollar, so great practice for me.  I am very partial to this dark mustard color.

Hopefully I'll have time in the next few days to get more done.  Have a great week!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Skirting the Issue

My first garment sewing class is over!  I learned quite a bit.

Cutting and laying out the delicate tissue-paper pattern pieces:

Installing my very first zipper:


It was definitely an imperfect job, with uneven stitching, but I'm very pleased that it came together into an actual skirt.  It should've fit snugly at the waist like this:

But although the proportions were technically correct, the skirt was several inches too big.  I measured  I measured myself carefully and had Todd do the measurements to make sure I was accurate.  I just don't know where I went wrong.

It's all right, though, since it was just a practice skirt.  I will just the waist of a currently-fitting skirt and use that measurement next time.  I bought a ton of retro patterns last week:

Others were modern but had the look I wanted.

I also bought enough gingham and madras to make several dresses:

Thankfully, the cats are great help with my work!

I've been making more of my healthy and quick summer meals and thought I'd post a few here with recipes attached.  Last week I made

Shrimp and Couscous Foil Packets with Avocado-Mango Salsa (my modifications:  fish and roasted asparagus over rice):

Tomato, Basil, and Fresh Mozzarella Tart (my modifications:  fresh spinach!):

Skillet Chicken with Creamy Spinach Artichoke Sauce:

All in under 30 minutes and extremely healthy.  Hope you'll give one a try.  Have a great week!