Werid fungus?

I have seen something super weird outside in the bark and one of my garden beds in the last few days.  Some weird fungus perhaps?  At first when I saw it, it looked just like a bright sunflower yellow dusting like some pollen.

Before Fungus

But that night around 1 am when I was outside checking on the goats, I noticed it again.  It had changed.  Greatly!!  It had swelled up over 4 times its original size, puffed up big like yeasty dough rising and swelled.  Creepy.  The next morning I was curious and looking at it as again I was stunned by the changes.

After Fungus

It was still a bit puffy but not as big as during the night.  It dried out, turned a pale beige color and looked all crusty.  I had two spots in the driveway.

Two days later, I noticed another small dusting on one of the pine logs in the wood pile.  I checked it out last night again in the dark around midnight and it was swelling to huge sizes again and still that brilliant yellow.  And now….you guessed it.  EWWWW!!  Creepy.

Squeee….WoolWench blogged about Alba Ranch

Squee….yahoo!  WoolWench aka Suzy, blogs at various locations.  This time she was on the Fibery Goodness Blog and she did a posting about the various Fiber Sponsors for the Journey to the Golden Fleece Award online spinning course that both WoolWench (Suzy) and Spin Artiste (Arlene) have created and are currently teaching.  Alba Ranch was just added as one of the Fiber Sponsors and the discount code for course participants is in the members only forum.  Course participants get a 15% discount!!  AND  WoolWench blogged about ALBA RANCH.  Yayness!

Module 1 yarn panel woven and free form crochet

I love what she said about Alba Ranch as well as her feelings about one of my hands down favorite fibers to spin which is the 15.5 micron merino.  I consider this THE luxury fiber to spin as well, very classic, very luxury.  I have been selling this fiber for a while but never allowed myself the opportunity to spin it until I started this course.  Part way through Module One, I decided that ALL my modules would be created from this one special fiber left in its classic white color.  So my personal challenge has been all about using the same fiber, prepared as a commercial combed top, in its natural white and getting 7 very different yarns all down to the spinning and plying techniques.  Whew this has been a challenge. With them all being the same color and fiber, the only way to make them different is really to spin completely different yarns.  Some of these various structures have been super fun and the fiber has worked well with them.

Mod 5 panel woven and free form crochet

A few were more of a challenge and the resulting yarn has been great but I might choose a different fiber in the future for that specific yarn style.  It has been a serious learning challenge that I had no idea what I was getting into when I came up with this crazy brilliant plan.  HA!!

If you want to read the blog posting and see all the wonderful sponsors for the Journey to the Golden Fleece award go here to read all about us.

I am off out into the woods to sort out all the goats, dogs and cats along with various plants and trees.  a “ranch goddess” work is NEVER done.

Nigerian Dwarf Dairy Goats For Sale

I am selling off 40% of my herd.  Downsizing 4 doe lines and 2 buck lines.  I really can only drink just so much milk!

Fire Sale–Everything must go.

Alba Ranch Smut’s Triplets

I have 10 goats listed for sale on the sale page with both options of registered or unregistered.  If you see one that you like or several, email me and we can chat.  I do starter packages and group buying although these are lowered already to sale barn prices for registered stock.  Hurry as they won’t last at these prices for long, already started selling goats since I made the decision on who to sell and who to retain.

A Revolution of Sorts….

Whiskey barrel collection

My husband, Chaz, says that he believes “gardens should be an evolution.”  Being Scottish born, “garden” to him is the back yard, front yard, and side yards with any landscaping.  Your Basic Garden that surrounds you.  What Americans call a “garden” is a vegetable garden in Scotland.  So from the Scottish definition of a “garden”, he is referring to our surrounding landscaping.  In the example of us though, it is all combined.  I have a tendency to plant herbs next to flowers, vegetables with bulbs, and fruit trees and bushes with annuals and perinnels.  No where is there a gardening handbook or a gardening police that says you can’t plant a lovely lettuce next to a lily!!

Before shot of new area when we first saw the property in Jan 2013

We have about 20 Acres on the Michigan Alba Ranch and it is all deep woods except for a small area around the house and barns and the pond area.  Because you can’t have a tree growing up in the middle of the pond or it isn’t a pond. Once we bought this property, the first thing that started as soon as Chaz went off shore was for some of the trees to start falling….on the buildings!!!  The first one fell on the lean to roof where Chaz vintage 1970 VW bus was parked.  Over this last year, we have taken down about 180+ trees.  This is barely a dent in what needs accomplishing.  We could have it logged but than it would be about 60% gone with no fire wood left for us.  We will probably continue working on it ourselves instead.  Just this last 10 days we have had 2 maple trees fall.  Both were broke off about 10-15 feet in the air, no other trees down around them, and in a middle of a grove area.  We do wonder if those were lightning strikes with the recent storms???

Brush piles

The trees that we have cleared maybe opened up about 1 acre of land.  It was a very uneven topography, steep hills, drop offs, low bits, flooded areas and stumps everywhere.  Working with a chain saw, wheel barrow and by hand only gets you so far.  I decided to get a quote to bring in the big guys…..just for research as I didn’t think that we could afford it.  Well to say that excavation costs and operations in Michigan are different than in Colorado is an understatement.  We ended up moving the rest of the firewood out of the low old orchard area burning the huge piles of brush.

Brush Burning

It took over 3 days to burn all the brush.  After being in Colorado for 7 years, I still haven’t gotten over fear of wild fire and even lit my fire pit for a camp fire yet.  So burning the brush was major….efficient…but scarey for me.  Chaz did an excellent burning the brush and keeping everything under control, complete with having a water hose on and down at the site for fire suppression safety.  All those years working offshore and those fire and safety courses paid off!!

We had the Beckman Brothers come and with a bulldozer, loader, trucks, and excavator they made quick work of the job.  It was like big Tonka trucks playing in the sandbox.  I was fascinated and set up a chair to sit outside and watch them.  I didn’t go so far as to pop any corn, but almost.  Amazing.  I was used to watching excavators dig for WEEKS and may very little progress compared to this few days and my 1 acre doesn’t look anything like it did before.

Excavator at work

Once the excavator left, we got down to work.  We raked most of the acre by hand and seeded it.  Certain sections will be pasture in and around the orchard trees for the goats.  That was seeded with alfalfa, wheat grass and sun flower seed.  Chaz keeps saying all he can envision is this field of grass and alfalfa over 2 feet high and can’t see any of the goats….only occasionally see the grass wiggle because they are so short and the kids are even more tiny.  The other areas were seeded with regular grass seed.  Chaz had to put a fence around the entire area as the deer were trying to move in the night the excavators left!!

We have planted about 9 varieties of apple, 2 crab apples, 4 mulberries (white and red), 5 cherries (sweet and tart), 4 peaches (white and yellow), 8 plums (6 European varieties that most folks here have never heard of but are familiar to Chaz), 3 apricots, and 2 pears.  A partridge in there probably as well.  Also I have planted 9 sea berries, 10 fruiting Blue Honeysuckles, 6 Service Berries, numerous other blueberries, 10 red and white currants, a contorted mulberry, and am about to plant the last 2 trees which are a weeping mulberry.

I hope to be making loads of jams, jellys, preserves, chutneys, pies and such later on. We did have the excavator raise, fill in and level an area off the house that was eroding and steep enough that with the constant walking that I do on it, my back and knees were having some severe issues.  In that area, the bull dozer took one nice chunk dug right out of the side and Chaz is out there building the platform to set up our Snorkel Hot Tub.  We have been waiting to get this hot tub for over 5 years.  It is a red cedar tub that has a submerged underwater wood stove to heat the water.  No electrical maintenance or running.  Since we don’t have a bath tub and our house is too small to add a tub, it really is a necessity that the Doctor has told me repeatedly to soak in Magnesium flakes.  Now I will be able to and will change the water frequently enough that we don’t have to use chlorine at all since I am allergic to it.  I can’t wait.  We deserve this bit of fun.

Chaz just said to me last night, “I believe a garden should be an evolution.”  I responded that this was as about 5 weeks ago I hadn’t even thought of doing what we were doing and he responded, “No honey, this isn’t an evolution….THIS is a REVOLUTION!!”

Fibery Goodness Module Five Yarn

I have finished Module Five yarn, set the twist, photographed it and wove a circle weaving with it.  This module was supposed to focus on mastery.  Specifically mastering a spinning technique spun previously, showing several variations in small yardage skeins.  I did not find the module enjoyable because I personally hate doing small yardages, samples and other assorted test your technique stuff that many people do.  I personally find it annoying and a waste of time as I tend to want to just get on with a project and spin or weave.

Mod 5 yarn close up

Since I have been focusing a lot on Spiral techniques in this course, I decided to spin 4 variations of a spiral yarn.  In order to really show off the technique, I still followed my previous outline which was using the same commercial prepared combed top preparation of 15.5 Micron Merino wool in white.

All the photos have the basic spiral, extreme spiral, beaded spiral and super coil core spun style spiral in that order from left to right.

Module 5 yarn

 

I spun a basic spiral, a extreme spiral holding one ply with tighter tension to create more spiraling, a beaded spiral with a silk thread and freshwater pearls, and a super coil almost core spun version of a spiral.

Module 5 yarn

 

 

 

 

 

I accidentally did the super coil core spun sort in a different module but this time wanted to do it on purpose and see if I could over come the original design problem of so much twist that the yarn was coarse feeling and darker in color.  When I spun this super coil core spun sort of version this time, I did keep the softness and loftiness of the merino fiber as well as the white color and I just loved it.

I am finding that with each module I have a large amount of yarn spun up that I don’t use in the final project weaving.  I think that I will be weaving some circular and square wall hangings as I have had requests for more baby room wall art, as well as some scarves and maybe shawls.  You will find those on my shop on Etsy.com so keep an eye out for Alba Ranch’s shop and some new projects.