Wednesday, May 6, 2020

May 6.   I think this is week 6.  Kind of depends on when we started staying at home -- March 23 here in Texas.    Carolyn and I have been busy trying to make masks and complete our many unfinished projects.  Since the days seem to run together and I sometimes ask myself what have I accomplished, these pictures help me realize I did get some things accomplished. 

Here are some of the masks we have made.

This quilt was started probably in 2006/2007 and was a sample for a 5-inch fabric exchange.  All it needed was quilting in the border so I practiced machine quilting.   It's ready for the Fourth of July!

Here's a little quilt pattern I got off the Internet years ago (like more than 10). Just needed binding.  

And here are two leftover blocks from a fox quilt I made for a neighbor.   Again, just needed binding.  Are you detecting a pattern here?

This is a quilt based on one Carmen's many scrap designs.   I made the blocks using 3-inch squares.  And because I just couldn't make it simple, I organized the fabrics by color.    The back is made and it now needs to be quilted.   The border fabric was gleaned from one of the quilt haus wastebaskets. 

Just to let you know, I don't normally do this any longer.   I have more than enough fabric scraps.   However, this was an ENTIRE border.

Finally, here is the fruit tablecloth that usually sits on the table in the quilt haus.  It was damaged by a bleach bottle set on top of it.   I have been searching for years to find the plum fabric which had been damaged.  I decided to give up and patch it with some blackberries. 

I have many more projects waiting on the shelves but I do think I am making progress.   Needless to say, the lockdown may need to last a year.

Stay home, stay safe, and wear your mask.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Thought I would start documenting again, what is happening here in the Texas Hill Country.  It's week 4 of the "new normal".    When did everyone start talking about the "new normal"?   I have been hearing this phrase for the last year.  Turns out the phrase is an economic phrase from 2007/2008.   Turns out I had a few problems putting the photos in this edition. 

So my "normal" is feeding the hummingbirds.   We had a late cold front come through Sunday so all the black-chinned hummers are really eating to keep warm.  We are now filling the 8 feeders twice a day.  Here is the morning frenzy. 

After filling the feeders, I worked on some of my many quilting projects.   In the "new normal", I have a lot more time to sew.   And it helps me to avoid the housework, I should be doing.

I have been making masks for family, friends, and neighbors.  No need to go to the Essential Store to buy fabric, I have my own store that I have accumulated over 60 years.  Here are some examples:

I decided last week to start using many of the strips I have cut over the years to make Bonnie Hunter placemats using the Row by Row license plates I collected.  I alternate between making placemats and

making 8" half square triangle blocks using a Pat Speth technique using 5 inch strips.   It is a method to sew-off when making blocks for another quilt.  The yellow and blue fabric is from 1960!!!!

Finally, I really wanted to make a fun quick quilt while making the masks so I found the San Antonio Spurs fabric I bought to make Jack a quilt.   The BQ2 pattern was perfect and quick.   Just required a little thought since the fabric was directional.   Here it is.

My only concern as I continue sewing is that I will have a lot of quilts that need quilting when life returns to normal

Stay home, stay safe, and wear your mask.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

I wish I had more time to blog.  There are so many wonderful and fun things that happen every day but somehow I never take the time to write about them.

However, I had to share this with you all.  Everyone who comes to visit always asks if I have ever seen a hummingbird nest.  I explain that the nest is usually only a couple inches big and made of lichen and usually in a live oak tree.  And I have never seen one. 

My darling daughter Nancy was out looking at the cows on May 29 and enjoying the day when she saw a hummingbird fly into a tree.  She sat there on the golf cart watching and waiting and was rewarded to see the female come back to a live oak tree.  Here is what she saw.  Click on each photo to see a larger view.

It looks like a couple branches, right?   Look closer at the lower branch.

Now look at the momma sitting on her nest. Do you think she blends in?  This picture was taken today, June 9.  I knew where to look for the nest but it still took me five minutes to find it.

She watched me the entire time I was there but didn't move from her job.

On May 29, there was one egg in the nest.  We have not disturbed her since.
According to iBird, a black-chinned hummingbird lays one to three eggs and incubates them for 13-16 days.  This is day 10.  I will be checking the nest from afar each day in hopes of seeing them hatch.

According to the Internet, it will take them 21 days before they will be ready to leave the nest.

Perhaps this is the reason we feed so many hummingbirds in June.  So far we have gone through 225 pounds of sugar.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

It is hard to believe our adventure with the Galloway calves began on November 6. 

The Bull Named Sue was born on the night of November 11 and is now 13 days old.
Because we were concerned that Big Girl was so large, we took her into the vet to be safe over the Thanksgiving holidays and have been patiently waiting for her to give birth to the final calf.  Early Saturday morning, she delivered a beautiful little heifer and they stayed with the vet until Monday, December 4 to make sure they bonded.    Betty at the vet made sure the calf was getting enough milk before we took her home.

She is definitely smaller and more feminine.

 Needless to say "Sue" is a lot bigger and is beginning to frolic and knows the golf cart means milk.  He is the cutest little bull and is getting stronger every day.

Betty told us how to transition Sue from a bottle to a bucket and we are going to start training him to do that this week.  In three to four months, Jack and I will not be able to hold the bottle.  And those hooves will be a lot bigger.

I dressed for winter weather this morning.  Today it is 54F (12C) with no rain.  Tomorrow the prediction is 39F (4C) with rain. 

Many of you know that I am the quilter not the outside daughter or the farmer!

Jack, Sue, Big Girl, New Calf

For comparison, the new calf is in the pen with Momma (Big Girl)

Aunt Mitten continues to take care of the first calf.  The real Momma has already moved on......
Aunt Mitten and Sue
I am afraid we are going to bore you with baby pictures.   But what a time we are having. 

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Life here in the Texas Hill Country is just too much fun so I have decided that I have to start blogging again.

As many of you know we decided to acquire some Belted Galloways in May 2016. They were all one year old. 

In February 2017, we sent the two older heifers (Mitten and Pretty Girl) and the newly acquired heifer BIG Girl off to meet the bull at Dan Rohrer's place.  They returned to our place in May and in June we found out from the vet that all three were about three months pregnant.  So we figured the calves would be here in December or January.

Surprise surprise, on November 14, Mitten had her calf while we were away that day.  Unfortunately, the calf was not alive but Mitten was standing guard over her.  It was a sad time for all of us.  She stood guard over the calf for more than a day.

On Monday, November 20, Pretty Girl started having her calf.  Needless to say we were filled with trepidation.  Luckily, my friend Susan had come to visit for the day.  She's a farm girl from Pennsylvania.  She stayed around when we realized the calf was coming.  After 45 minutes of labor, we decided to give Dan and then the vet a call.  It was now 5 PM and dark was approaching.   The vet said she would be out in a while.    To our surprise Dan showed up and he and Susan took over, providing much needed advice.  The vet, Lana, and a fourth year vet, Nathan, from Purdue arrived and started working on getting the calf delivered.   It was an amazing experience involving wenches and swinging the calf around by his hind legs.  :-)   And the calf was alive.   At some point, I remember thinking that I wished I had watched more Dr. Pol and that  Alaskan vet.   

After the birth, we let Pretty Girl loose but she decided to have nothing to do with the calf and ran off.  We went looking for her in the dark and found her but she wasn't willing to follow us back to the pen even with range cubes. 

After much, discussion, we decided to put the calf in the pen with lots of straw and Jack would stay with the calf until first light.  We let the calf loose on Tuesday morning and as luck would have it Mitten wanted to be the Momma instead of Pretty Girl.    We put Momma and calf together in the pen in hopes they would bond.

With no luck, we decided with Dan's and Susan's help to put Pretty Girl in the head gate and the calf with her.  The calf didn't want to nurse.  At some point, Dan suggested we milk Pretty Girl to stimulate her motherly instincts and Susan gamely took that task on.  At some point, I took over (it's not that easy to milk a cow) and we managed to get a small amount of milk from the momma which we mixed in with the calf formula.

All day Tuesday, we worked with Momma to get her to take care of the calf and in the afternoon, we worked with the calf to get it to drink from the bottle with no success using a combo of mother's milk and formula.  At some point, the Momma started pushing the calf away.  Of course, being new, we were worried.  Susan had stayed over night providing much needed moral support and talked with her nephews Ernie and Adam who raise cattle in Pennsylvania.  Before dark, Susan left the two newbies with the calf and momma.  So the newbies were all alone.

After a sleepless night, Jack and I got up Wednesday morning, made formula, and headed down to the pen again to try again with the cow and calf.  The momma continued to push the calf away even more strenuously so we gave up and decided to try to feed the calf.  He had been without food for 36 hours.  I put the bottle up to him thinking I was going to have to coax him again to try to eatand he decided the milk looked good and for the first time he ate.   Needless to day Jack and I were enthusiastic and had tears in our eyes. 

The amazing thing is that Mitten and the other cows continue to hang around to watch over the calf.  The only thing so far that Pretty Girl had done is show some signs of protecting the calf.   We are going to be working with her and the calf again today to see if we can get that motherly instinct going.

Our Thanksgiving was on Friday so we had plenty of time to work with the cows on Thursday.  At some point our son and wife, John and Danae, and grandson, Jarred  and our indoor daughter, Carolyn, got involved in trying to get Pretty Girl into the chute so we could put the calf with her.  After three hours we all gave up.  We fed the calf and decided to let Pretty Girl out of the pen.    In the evening we fed the calf again and let the calf out.   Immediately Mitten came over to take care of the calf.  Momma came over to visit but showed no interest in taking care of the calf.

Friday, our outdoor daughter, Nancy, and family arrived for Thanksgiving dinner.
And immediately made a bee-line for the calf.  In between cooking, the calf was well-taken care of and many pictures were taken.

Our youngest son, Neil, and family arrived and got to visit the calf after turkey dinner.

Saturday, the calf is doing well and we have switched him to two feedings a day.  Of course, more of the family got to feed the calf.  The calf weighs about 50 pounds.  I'm not sure how we are going to feed him when he weighs 200 pounds.  But he is the cutest thing so I'm sure we will figure it out.

"Aunt" Susan came to check on the calf today.  It was an absolutely beautiful day!

We hope everyone had as good a Thanksgiving as we did.    We have much to be thankful for living here in the wonderful Texas hill country.
Thanksgiving 2017
Aunt Mitten and A Bull Named Sue

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Life with Oak Wilt

Some of you know that the Texas Hill Country is being hit with Oak Wilt.  Jack and I began our fight with it in June 2012.   In late 2012, we purchased an additional 43 acres in front of our existing house.  The land had over 600 trees on it and a stock tank.    In 2013 we discovered some of these trees had oak wilt.

In 2013, we treated the trees that could be saved with a fungicide and had a six-foot trench dug around the trees to try to contain the spread of the disease to the rest of the trees.   We continued this process through 2013 and thought we had stopped the spread.

Unfortunately in late 2014 we discovered the disease had jumped the trench so we treated with the bigger trees with fungicide again and dug an even longer deeper trench almost encircling the diseased trees.  Click on any picture to get a better view.

Fungicide pouring into the roots.

Rock saw digging trench

In February this year we hired Chad Ottmers who turned out to be a fifth cousin descended from Conrad Bock, to bring his 150 HP bulldozer over and began pushing over trees.   

Since February, Jack and Luis have been putting those trees in burn piles.  Then they burn them after it has rained here or even during a rain.  If you ever wonder why farmers are leaving all their dead trees in the fields, wonder no more.

These lovely big oaks have big roots and it takes large equipment and hard work to remove them.

Jack's tractor at the start of this project.  This might be a foreshadowing of things to come....

Unfortunately  in June 2015, this year we looked out one day after a storm and discovered that one of our beloved trees between the quilt haus and the Heinrich Lindig cabin had a dead limb.  Here are the trees this past spring!

At the time, we thought lighting had struck it. This mott of live oaks was far from the other diseased trees and it was a new infection!.  So fungicide was applied to no avail and we lost these trees within two months.

Here is a picture of those same trees this fall.   It's hard to believe but we went through a grieving period for these once beautiful trees.

Because these trees were big and between the two buildings, our neighbor George Irwin came over with his " brush claw" to push over these trees in early December.  He then picked up the trees and carried them over the fence.

Jack tried to cut off the limbs to decrease the weight of the trees but barely kept up with George and his big equipment.

However, at some point, George's equipment was too small to deal with the roots of the big trees so we rented a back hoe so that he could dig out the roots and push over the trees.

Now, all those trunks and branches are sitting in the ditch waiting to be burned.  For those of you close by, it will look like the funeral pyres on the Ganges.   But don't worry, again we will be burning after a rain and have our sons and grandsons helping Jack.

At this point we have given up the battle and decided to plant new trees and push over the dead trees. We like to think we are returning the land to how it looked when the early German settlers arrived.

Stay tuned for episode 2  ----   planting new trees and burning old ones !

Monday, May 11, 2015

Today, while feeding the hummingbirds and wondering where the rain was, Jack discovered baby walking sticks had hatched on our table on the porch.  They are about 1/2 inch in size.  The cap is a milk bottle cap.