Saturday, February 28, 2015

Snowshoe Hare



The trouble with going for a hike in the snow, without glasses, and with only my phone for a camera - I can barely tell if I've turned the camera on, let alone see what's in the frame. Best I can do is point in the general direction and hope for the best.

I was quite excited to see these tracks yesterday when Jonah I hiked into the bush at the back of the farm. These tracks belong to a Snowshoe Hare. They are easy to distinguish from other rabbits because hind feet (which are at the front of the tracks) are very wide. Their feet are also very long but they tend to walk on the tips of the hind feet unless walking slowly.

The reason this was exciting it that its the first time in quite a few years that I've seen sign of these hares. The traditional habitation on this farm was cottontail bunnies around the homestead, jack rabbits in the fields and laneways, and snowshoe hare hares deep in the back woods.

With the waxing of coyote population I stopped seeing hare tracks altogether, and last winter there were rarely rabbit tracks of any kind to be found.

This winter the cottontail tracks have returned to the homestead, the jacks to the back lanes, and now the hares in the bush. Horrah! This means coyote population is waning.

For a sheep farmer....that's a good thing!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Yes we have no bananas

I like bananas, but they generally don't like me so I don't eat them often.

But I stumbled on this idea in Pinterest and coudn't resist.






Saute sliced (not overly ripe) bananas in butter until they're browned.

Put in a bowl. Wisk a tablespoonish of honey with a tsp of water and put into the emptied pan, but off the heat. Mix in the dregs that remain in the pan and pour over the warm bananas.

OMG this is good!

The potential for booze with the honey is unlimited.

OK, maybe some fresh whipped cream on top.

Made in China

I try to shop as close to home as possible. When my 20+ yr old traditional snow shoes died 3 years ago I bought a new pair of the aluminum frame modern style. Made in Canada.

At the end of last season they fell apart. Specifically the integrated binding on one shoe fell apart rendering the pair useless. I had grumbled off and on about the constant ice buildup between the sole of my boot and the binding, making for very awkward walking, and also the tendency of snow and ice to clump on the traction cleats on the underside of the shoes.

They weren't cheap. I'm one of those (suckers) who believes you get what you pay for ;o(

I had to replace them for this winter and I wasn't able to find another brand that was made in Canada. Reluctantly, I bought a pair made in China.






This is the Atlas 10 series, for 'mountains and deep snow'. I don't have mountains but I do have steep hills, and deep snow is a given these past few winters.

As I'm only into the first season the jury is still out on how long these will last. But thus far I am really pleased with them.

I get no build up of snow on the cleats, and you can see in the photo I get very little on the toe pad of the binding.

I try to snow shoe at least 5 days a week. Good performing, reliable equipment is important to me.

This is a new style of binding for me and I really like the ease of entry and exit. (My dad used to scoff at any binding that wasn't lamp wick. What a bugger that stuff was!)

I admit I still kind of miss the old style snow shoe. The larger surface area gives a better loft in softer snow, although the larger width means harder work on the hips to walk. And with the frequent icy conditions of the past two years, the cleats on the modern style have been a real plus.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Snack Time






It was -30 degrees when we got up this morning. But it warmed up to -18 this afternoon so Jonah and I went for a windy walk up to the top of the knoll. I brought him a snack to have when we got to the top.

I didn't realize the snack (chew stick) would freeze in my pocket so it took him quite a while to chew it.

I also didn't realize I should have brought a snack for me too.

Double Shetland Sock Yarn






Playing some more with my Shetland Sock Yarn - 70/30 Wool/Nylon, ~400 yards/55 g,

For this pair I knit the yarn double, using two strands of the fawn colour for the topper, heels and toes, and one strand of fawn plus one strand of dark brown for the main body of leg and foot.

This is definitely a more substantial sock, yet still under 100 grams for the pair. Size Large, knit with 72 cylinder and 36 ribber on the Verdun 47 at a tension about 1/4 looser than commercial grade sock yarn.

The looser tension was to accommodate the loft of the two separate strands, rather than the weight of the yarn. I'm knitting straight from the cones (unwashed after milling) - so I want to allow the yarn a little room to bloom when the socks are first washed. I'm not certain that my reasoning is sound, so I may try a pair at normal tension and see if there is a difference.

It's nice to work with the two different colour strands and see how they randomly pattern. The strands do ply a little as they are feeding in.














Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Dutch Baby

I looked for a 'different' kind of pancake recipe to make for my Shrove Tuesday supper, and found this version of Dutch Baby on a Martha Stewart video, via Huff Post.






This made a good man sized one dish supper. Would probably do for two at lunch or as one component of a larger meal.

While preheating oven to 425, and preheating cast iron fry pan on the stove.... mix in a blender 3 eggs, 3/4 cup milk, 1/4 cup sugar (I used Stevia substitute), 1/2 cup flour, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp vanilla.

Melt 2 tsp butter in the pan, remove from stove, pour in the batter and put in the oven for 20 minutes.

I didn't have any trouble getting this out of the pan onto a plate in one piece. ('cuz my pan is well seasoned)

Sprinkle with fresh squeezed lemon and sugar (me again with the Stevia). I also grated a little zest from the lemon.

This was REALLY good! Kind of a three way cross between a pancake, a crepe, and a Yorkshire Pudding. The quick n' easy part is really good too.

My friend Abby (maple syrup maker at the farmers' market) makes Maple Sugar that I usually have on hand to sprinkle on fresh fruit - I ran out last week - would have definitely used instead of Stevia for the sprinkle part.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Beaulagh



This is Beaulagh.She is the only cross bred Shetland that came with my starter flock. She was born in 2011 and is a Shetland - Cormo cross. This picture was taken in about a month ago.





And this picture is from the other day. You can see that her fleece is growing at quite the rate. Size wise she is not much bigger than the pure Shetlands. But her fleece the last two years was triple the yield of any of them. 

Her fleece is gorgeous and I have stored them rather than sending them to the mill. When I get her third fleece (late spring) it will make enough to have spun into her own batch of yarn. 

I'm torn, at the moment, between getting it spun as a worsted weight, or as a fine sock yarn. Goodness knows you can never have enough sock yarn! If I go the latter route I'm thinking of a mohair blend for strength instead of nylon. Or???

And this:


is Beauregard, Beaulagh's 2014 lamb. I was so taken with her fleece I decided to wether this ram lamb and keep him as only a wool factory. He's big, friendly and indications so far are of a large fine fleece. (Qualifier - almost all lamb fleeces are gorgeous. It will be his 2nd year fleece that reveals the full story).