Friday, August 3, 2012

Waterproofing with Fireweed

Fireweed blossoms
 If you live in the Pacific Northwest, you've undoubtedly noticed the tall fiery spire that is fireweed.  It grows along roadsides and other disturbed areas and has lots of uses.  The one that drew my attention most was that the Blackfoot native americans rubbed fireweed blossoms into their mittens and rawhide thongs to waterproof them.  I have leather Soft Star moccasin type shoes, so I've been eager to see the fireweed bloom ever since!

The coloring of the pollen didn't show up, but on the first day the flower blooms, it is turquoise and has a lipoid (fat like) coating, which I am guessing helps with waterproofing.
The mess I made, rubbing flowers into shoes.  My kids must think I'm mad.  Well, maybe not.  This is pretty normal for me.
left not waterproofed, right, waterproofed.  
Tested by putting water on the shoe.  didn't soak into the waterproofed one like it did into the non-waterproofed one.  Hope it works well this winter.
There were a few flowers leftover.  I read that an infusion of the flowers in oil is a good treatment for childhood eczema.  I know several people whose kids have this issue, so I decided to pour Organic extra virgin olive oil over the fresh flowers and put it in a sunny window for 2 weeks.  Every day I wipe the inside of the jar of condensation so it won't mold and shake the jar a little.  It smells lovely!  I think I will strain it and add some beeswax so that I will have a nice salve.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Yes, it takes a village!

Cinnamon, one of the first goats born on our farm, gets prettied up for fair

We're heading into our second fair of the season for my kids showing goats and, new this weekend, Alpacas.  It surprises me every year how much of a team effort it is to get these animals to fair!  Eva's favorite show goat with the best fleece, a gray wether named coal, has had problem after problem.  He missed the first fair because he had a sore on his mouth.  A local vet gave us free advice on what to do to be sure it's not sore mouth, a very contagious and icky sickness goats can get.  After picking the scab and medicating it for 5 days, we realized he must have just poked himself in the mouth.

Coal was healed up and the kids were preparing him for this weekend's fair while I ran an errand.  I got a call from Eva in tears...he had a gash.  Someone had accidentally cut into the skin between his front legs and an inch sized piece of skin was loose and icky.  Thankfully, Eva got a chance to get away from the stress and disappointment for a bit with her grandparents, who so kindly took her to buy show leads for the alpacas.

My friend Wendy has been an ever faithful help each year, braving the chaos that is my house before fair.  She visited and brought me cake (so I could have my cake and eat it too) while I gathered posters, art, spinning, and veggies to turn in at the fair.  She even took my kids to swim so I could put the last minute things in the car. And today she came and got Maia, my youngest, so we wouldn't have to worry about her wandering off into a goose cage or or something while we checked the animals in at fair.  I'm pretty sure Brandon wouldn't have been able to have a full work day today without her help, and I would have been a nervous wreck trying to find Maia all evening at the fair.  As it happened, all he had to do was to help me get the children and equipment loaded into the van on a brief break from work!

My in-laws brought the alpacas in a horse trailer, but the goats were hauled in dog kennels in the back of my van.  As we walked supplies to the barn, my father in law asked if I didn't want to put the goats in with the alpacas.  "They'll be fine," I said, ...famous last words.  My friend Anneliese happened to be in the parking area when my two largest goats made their jailbreak and were hightailing it toward the road.  Very kindly, she called me on my cell phone and informed me of the incident.  I told her there was certainly a reason she was there in the parking lot at that time and thankfully, she held those naughty goats until I made it back.  I don't like to think of what could have happened to them, had they made it to the road.

My friend Jenny brought Isaac to the fair after he had spent a day doing community service sprucing up a local park.  He and his buddies carried things into the fair, my mom in law took Saraiah to see the adorable pigs and wendy took Maia to see the geese and the hatching ducklings.  We were doing a last minute check on the goats before heading to the car when we noticed our baby wether, Beau, had managed to get his head stuck in the fencing of his pen!  The 4H girls worked together to rig the fencing so that he would be safe, and we said goodnight.

Somehow, I have a penchant for forgetting to eat on time and to feed my family before they are famished, and Wendy came through for us again, staving off the certain starvation of my family with a box of granola bars for the road.

I'm so thankful for our family and friends and the generous and lavish ways they give of their time and energy to help make the lives of our kids richer.  I hope that I can some day do for them at least a fraction of what they have done for me.  They show me what a real community looks like when people work together toward a common goal and my heart is happy.  Who is your village?  Have you taken the time recently to thank them for all they are to you?

Mr. Moon

It's been a busy week sandwiched between two local fairs.  The weather has been hot and lovely during the day.  The evenings have taken on a chill that reminds us that fall is racing toward us more quickly than we might realize.  The moon was full tonight and instagramming pictures of it very tiny in the square frame on my cell phone just didn't do it justice.  

After milking the goat and feeding the chickens with my little girls, I raced outside again just as dusk closed in and the moon was rising.  I had my 55-200mm zoom lens on the camera, so I set the ISO at 1000, put the focus on manual, the shutter speed around 250 and the aperture around 5.  The moon was so bright, I hoped I'd get some detail of its surface without the photo being blown out, and I did!  

Then I ran out to the goat pasture, hoping to catch the last of the sunset, but I missed it.  Instead, I decided to use the moon as a sort of circular light box with which to frame the grass that has gone to seed in the pasture.  It was great fun to take pictures just to try to be artsy.  If you made any pictures of the moon this week and have them posted online, feel free to share a link in the comments.  I would love to see!