Blog or Vlog 365 Fiber and Fabric

Day 27 of 365 Blog or Vlog

I’ve agreed to demonstrate spinning at the Doc Holiday festival in downtown Denison this weekend.

I’ve been giving some thought as to which spinning wheel I should bring.

My CPW (Canadian Production Wheel) dates to 1870 – 1890. However, the likelihood of it actually making it to north Texas in that time period is pretty remote. Then too, it is in need of some repairs.

My Appalachian Great Wheel is both the right period, and more likely to have made it to north Texas. It needs even more repairs than the CPW

So I think the best wheel to bring is my Jensen. The design is a variant of a CPW, and i am spinning a more appropriate fiber for north Texas. I’ll be bringing a few spindles with other fibers for discussion.

Art and Music Blog or Vlog 365

Day 26 of 365 Blog or Vlog

I still need to make a lot of posts to catch up with this blog project. If I can get a few done every day it won’t take long.

Right now, I’m going to spin some linen yarn.

Later, I’m going to wood burn some more disks for drop spindles.

I may even get some clay out and make a few small projects.

Art-earnative Life Farm Blog or Vlog 365

Day 25 of 365 Blog or Vlog

Continuing look at living within our means.

Chicken math.

The cost of eggs and chicken is skyrocketing in the stores. We’re happy to be ahead of this curve. We have fourteen one year old chickens, and just got twenty-seven more birds two weeks ago. The older birds are laying over a dozen eggs a day, and the new chicks are “straight run” – meaning that they are males and females.

We plan to keep two or three of the roosters, but the rest of the roos will be sent to freezer camp. Since these are all large breeds, we get large eggs in at least three different shades.

We learned our lesson about letting the birds free-range. Having lost all our birds to predators last year, all the birds are under wire and a large coop is nearly finished.

The younger birds are currently in a brooder tub in my office, and will go outside to a separate pen in the farmyard in a couple more weeks. There they will be away from the older birds, but all of them will be able to see and hear each other for a couple weeks. We hope this will limit the pecking order fuss. We’ll also mix the two groups after dark in the coop.

Then there are the rabbits. The cute factor is something to be considered. Rabbit meat is a great deal easier to process and can be self sustaining with minimal inputs.

I am growing a great deal more of the rabbit feed this year. The Three Sisters planting I did a week ago should go a long way towards deleting the feed bill this year.

The rabbit cages are getting some badly needed expansion and upgrades right now, and we plan to manage the breeding much more closely once the upgrades are done.

Blog or Vlog 365 Homestead

Day 24 of 365 Blog or Vlog

Some thoughts on living within our means, priorities & projects.

We’ve all experienced the rising cost of everything. Gasoline more than double that of a year ago,  car insurance rates increasing, electricity providers adding fuel surcharges, grocery bills skyrocketing, and so on.

There are some things that we don’t need to deal with here – mortgage and rent in particular. This is more due to good luck than good planning, but we are very happy with this.  Our property is family land, and we were given an old single wide with the proviso that it got moved from the property it was on.

It was quite the rodeo to more it here, and we are still getting basic repairs done.

We have in numerous discussions taken the least costly option. Salvaging materials, shopping around, buying used, trading for labor, going far beyond frugal to channeling my Scottish heritage. I also apply my grandfather’s favorite comment that money spent on books or tools is never wasted.

I did have to use a buy here / pay here car dealer to get a decent truck. This has not been a bad decision. We got a much better truck than we could have afforded for cash. The engine was replaced the year before we got it, and now we had to replace the transmission. While that was a very steep repair bill, the dealership has a repair shop on premises, and the repair is rolled into the car loan.

The car loan itself is improving my credit.

Another this we are doing is rainwater collection. A DIY collection system can be budget-friendly, but mistakes can also be made.

We tried a non-caged IBC tote. Nope. It leaked.

I was able to find a half dozen 55 gallon food-safe drums for $20 each, and paid $30 to get them delivered yesterday.

We plan to do a different manifold system for these, and will probably change the other three barrels also.

I’ve done a specific post on rainwater collection, and will revisit the topic soon with some DIY filtering setups.

Blog or Vlog 365 Fiber and Fabric

Day 23 of 365 Blog or Vlog

Some of my fiber tools and projects.

I have a tendency to carry a large tote bag as a purse so I can carry a project or two to work on if I have to wait for something.

I have a metal lunchbox that I use for sock knitting projects. The bamboo sock needles are easily lost or broken, so I made a needle keeper out of some stout fabric and waistband elastic.

A decorative lipstick box makes a great container for yarn needles and stitch markers.

Though my favorite solution to keep stitch markers and  a stitch counter handy is this beaded necklace – a knitter’s chatelaine.

A coin makes a simple way for me to check how consistent my spinning is. After four decades of spinning, this is rarely a problem. Still, when I take pictures of my spinning, the contrast of the coin is effective

While a bent paper clip can do the job of threading the orifice on a spinning wheel, beautiful tools can make the process of fiber art more satisfying.  This orifice hook in black walnut is finished smooth as glass.

My spinning wheel itself is so wonderful to use. It was made for me specifically in 1993, and has some features unique to this wheel.


Art-earnative Life Farm Blog or Vlog 365

Day 22 of 365 Blog or Vlog

Some progress on the gardening!

I planted a number of grow bags a few weeks ago, and they are doing well.  A dozen more grow bags and a few pots are ready to get planted.

The main reason that I am doing grow bags and pots is simply that I don’t have any decent soil on the property. It’s all sandstone gravel. While I’m thankful that our rains will not turn our growing area into a quagmire, it makes gardening harder.

The rabbit cages all need to get cleaned. This will get mixed with soil and some aged compost. Rabbit manure is not “hot”, so it can get used directly in the garden.

I have quite a bit of vegetables I still want to plant, and the fiber and dye plants need some more general areas.

I did plant a half-dozen “Three Sisters” groupings in some tires south of the camper trailer. The big part here was to keep anyone from parking there out of sight of the house. It’s also an experiment.

I’ve never tried “Three Sisters” before. Corn to provide support for beans to climb, beans to provide nitrogen, and squash to shade the ground and conserve moisture.

I probably wildly over-planted the tires, but there is quite a bit of space for the squash vines to run.

I planted  winter squashes – Blue Hubbard, Striped Cushaw, and Pie Pumpkin. Beans included Vermont Cranberry, Jacob’s Cattle, and Lima beans. The corn is a heritage type sweet corn that was unlabeled in my storage. I’m hoping it’s a red corn, but I’ll be happy with what I get..

Art-earnative Life Farm Blog or Vlog 365

Day 21 of 365 Blog or Vlog

I’ve got a lot of ground to make up here!

I got 27 chicks from Murray McMurray Hatchery two weeks ago . I’d ordered 25 of their Heavy assorted straight run. It was 5 each of several of their heavy breeds, and they included 2 “extra” chicks.

McMurray got hit with the avian flu, losing an entire barn of rare breeds the week before mine were due to hatch. The Brahma chicks I was hoping to see in the assortment got held back by the hatchery to rebuild their breeding flocks. When I watched their update videos, you could see that they were just shattered by the loss.

Oddly, I am actually more confident ordering from McMurray when I see how much they care about this. The transparency of their updates and strong health practices are a big part of this, but the fact that they care is the most important part of my confidence.

Blog or Vlog 365 Recovering Health and Fitness

Day 20 of 365 Blog or Vlog

Updating from older blog. While this is a re-run in some respects, this does apply to recovering health.

Do you start the day with a mental or written list of things that need to be accomplished and then beat yourself up when you don’t get a quarter of them done?

Do phrases like “over-ambition and under-application” “lazy” and “poor planning” come to mind?

What if part of the problem is that your energy and physical ability are not up to the kind of production you really feel that you should be able to do? How can this be overcome?

Simply making shorter To-Do lists when this leaves out projects that truly need to be done is not a good answer. You may feel better at getting the abbreviated list complete, but you may end up with a sink over-flowing with dirty dishes, the car breaking down because it hadn’t gotten maintained, or an empty larder when the storm of the century rolls in and you hadn’t done the grocery shopping.

Recognizing that we really are able, competent, motivated beings is really the first step to fixing what is off. If you weren’t really able, competent and motivated, you wouldn’t feel anything wrong about not getting things done. ( You also would be unlikely to be reading this, but that’s another topic.)

The best answer is also the longer-term one: Get your energy and physical state into a higher condition, able to zip though your days and leave successes in your wake. We’ll leave that alone for the moment and address things that can be done right now. Today.

Here’s a starting exercise. Take out paper and pen and write everything you need to do. Work, Home, Personal care, School, Church, Outdoors, whatever. List it all. Need to shave your legs? Put it down. Move the furniture from the larger bedroom so you can set up a home office? Write that down. Need to call the electrician to wire the new office first? Make sure that’s on there. Someone left trash in the yard that needs to be picked up? Likewise.

Now we’ll take the list and categorize and prioritize.

First: YOU. Your hairdresser appointment, sleep time, shaving your legs, study time, reading a novel, exercise time.

There is a very valid reason this begins with you. If you don’t have enough sleep, feel disheveled, frazzled, and unprepared, none of the rest will get accomplished.

Second: YOUR FAMILY. Keeping the family going does require attention and action. Get the dishes done, the living room cleaned, get the groceries, etc. If there are youngsters, remember that they need to be given ways to help. Delegate chores as possible.

Third: WORK Need to remind the boss that equipment needs repair or replacement? Do so. A project needs to get done this week? Be doing your work when you are supposed to be doing your work. If you’ve put the first two in order, this is much, much easier to keep in mind.

Then add School, Church, Outdoors, any other categories you’ve created for yourself.

You may feel more organized right now and try running things on priority basis for awhile and see how that works for you.

A bit more organization may be helpful in some cases. Make up lists that have to be repeated – daily, weekly – various computer calendar tools are really helpful here.

If the howling demands of everyone else wanting to be first leaves you feeling that you need a old-time lion tamer whip and chair; create a time schedule. Rough blocking out of time is really far better than going down to quarter hours.

By now, you see that you can be more productive with just the energy and physical ability you have at present. Putting a few things in their places and creating some order will allow you to get more order in place on a gradual basis.

These small successes will actually improve your energy level.

Blog or Vlog 365 Recovering Health and Fitness

Day 19 of 365 Blog or Vlog

Updating from older blog This is some of my activities when I was first putting attention on recovering my health

Ever feel like you simply can’t get up to do something? It seems that my physical deconditioning is very nearly making that thought true.

While I had received the resistance band set just before New Year’s Eve, I didn’t start with them until this week.

To start, I am alternating using the resistance bands with sets of ankle and knee rotations while seated. I have also been working on getting the apartment fully cleaned and re-organized. While I had a friend come over to run the rented carpet shampoo machine, I also had considerable work to do to make it possible for him to do his part.

The place does look vastly improved! And I repeatedly got my heart rate up, while not getting too out of breath.

I did feel truly worn out last night, though.

Last night, I dreamed that I was able to ice skate again. I wouldn’t even be able to get skates on over my swollen feet at present. That is my first target: getting the swelling down. I may be able to move more easily if my feet and legs aren’t as swollen and stiff as they are now.

There are several ways that come to mind of accomplishing this, and I plan to use them together.


  • Get a “foot spa” to soak my feet and handle the dry skin.
  • Get a skin lotion that doesn’t irritate the over-stressed skin of my lower legs and feet and use it daily.
  • Once I get enough reduction in swelling, start using compression stockings to help it along
  • Exercise my feet, ankles and knees with the resistance bands.
  • Get my feet up on a stool while I am working on the computer.
  • Set aside time to use my spinning wheel every day. The treadling action on my wheel is very mild but persistent.
  • Change my 1957 Singer sewing machine over to treadle operation. Also set aside time daily to sew. The treadling action for a sewing machine is different, and a bit more intense than my spinning wheel, and involves the knees more.

The last two actions also have the benefit of getting a product.

Blog or Vlog 365

Day 18 of 365 Blog or Vlog

Updating from older blog This post is from several years ago when I was living in an apartment next to DFW airport.

Is there anything that inspires more hope for the future than a sprouting seed?

The simplicity of soil, seeds, water and sunlight that result in flowers, fruit and vegetables are truly an artistic expression.

This past summer my patio railing was home to some excellent successes, a couple failures, and also gained me the go-ahead from the apartment complex managers to take over the small planting bed in front of my patio.

This will allow me to solve the cause of a couple of the failures. My apartment faces north, and the direct sun is only on a portion of the patio for a couple hours in the morning. The small bed in front of the patio gets much longer direct sun, which will allow me to have more space and get enough sun for the tomatoes.

If there is a greater taste treat than that of a fully-ripe, sun-warmed tomato you grew yourself, I don’t know what it would be.

I won’t have anything to do with GMOs as I do not believe that the agribusinesses creating them have any more idea of the whole picture than the blind man describing an elephant after only touching the trunk. Tales of such blind arrogance creating disaster go back to the dawn of recorded history.

I currently use two seed catalogs. Neither Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds or Pinetree Garden Seeds sell or have any connection to companies that sell GMO varieties.

Baker Creek also is now publishing a behemoth of a seed catalog. Somewhat reminiscent of the Whole Earth Catalog , it offers up articles covering the history of some of the seeds they offer and dozens of recipes. The images are incredible, and make me long to grow many more varieties than I can possibly handle.

Pinetree’s catalog is much more modest, and to be truthful, their prices are also far more modest. I do purchase most of my seeds from them. I have to admit that Baker Creek has many varieties they don’t, so Baker Creek will get a good share of my business this year also.

Last year I had good results with herbs, beans, some flowers, and a few pepper plants. With the bed in front of the patio, I hope to get a couple good size tomato plants going, far more spinach and radishes, and some summer and winter squash.

This picture shows the beans, flowers and upright peppers. These were described as an ornamental pepper, and though they look like they’d be incendiary, they were actually quite sweet. I’ve saved seed, and we’ll see how they grow out.

Looking down the front of the patio, you can see the petunia with the ginger plant in the same pot. I particularly enjoyed this combination, and will likely have some fun with it again.

You can also see a number of the white plastic containers that I reused after I used up the cat litter.


The tomatoes barely survived, but there just wasn’t enough light on the patio for them to produce. Getting them in front of the bushes will handle that.

Since I’ll be planning on moving in October, I want to have much of the garden movable as well. I’ve been making a practice of reusing the white plastic containers that the cat litter comes in.