Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Labors of Love

When I took on the Agnes Dei banner project; I did visual research on sewing this type of artwork.

I realized that people have invested hundreds of hours creating these gorgeous crafted items. They also have limited distractions in their lives. My life is defined by distractions of various degrees.

I have escaped bulls in my yard, visitors stopping by, calls to make, machines to repair, deliveries, plantings and harvesting, 3 meals a day to make and house chores.

But when it gets calmer in winter, I'd like to make one of these. For my church a piece I create that will be seen by those who visit. To bring some beauty into their lives. We all have gifts and talents to share. Sewing is mine to share.

Satin Banner Sewing

About a month ago I had an idea to give our local priest a gift. He just celebrated his 25th year being a priest. As he was from India, he did not have his own church decorations. His chosen symbol is the Lamb of God. I thought a banner with this lamb would be a great project.

I had figured out the fabric and the time to complete the project. What I did not take into account was the flu, farm and floods. We had out of town visitors stranded, roads closed so no deliveries and I got sick, very sick. The deadline I created was 1 week away from the celebration. It was time to buckle down and create.

Bridal satin is not your friend. It has a mind of its own. Using the window to transfer the design.

Fleshing out the basic design on slippery satin. The secret to satin is using tissue paper under the seams as you sew. The fabric will not slip and you can wash or tear off the tissue paper after. I used holiday tissue paper I had around. The backing was navy blue batik with ivory stars. It was all I had on hand that was wide enough for the back.

Quilting down the parts of the applique and adding black rat tail for the flag. I decided this was too much work using the rat tail. I did a satin machine stitch in black instead.

Machine appliqued the banner 40 inches x 55 inches under my Janome. 

I added batting under the lamb for more body and machine quilted the fleece.

When I finished I needed to frame the banner. I was out of blue satin fabric. And after a practice run of sating binding I tossed out that idea, too much work. So I found some gold crackle cotton and I sewed the binding by machine. It came out flawless. The only part I had to hand sew was the rod pocket on the back after binding. I even got the cloth label on by machine thanks to my husband printing it off ahead of time. I got the banner done the day before. My studio is still covered in paper, satin and fabric scraps. Clean up has to wait until I get all the veggies planted.

close up 

Banner in place in natural light.

One more garden

This is one of the original gardens that came with our property. This year, thanks to our tiller it is bigger. Really bigger! I now have 3 lettuce beds, 3 bush bean beds, rotated tomatoes and a spacious cabbage bed. And I have room for all the extra flowers and herbs. My rabbits still have their mint/straw yard to play in with overhead cattle panel arch for hawk protection. This arch has sweet peas on it for shade and for the bees. The tiller gives us the chance to enlarge and break new ground quickly. I still have years ahead to condition the soil and amend it. But for this year I added compost and dirt.The fence is to keep my poultry out during the harvest. Chickens love to peck red tomatoes and dig up lettuce beds.

Bone Up

A year ago a trapper friend of mine gave me a pile of heads. I thought I could clean them and sell them.But life got busy so I put them in a cage on an ant bed to be cleaned. The cage was to keep other critters from eating the bones.

Then I see a local science teacher asking for carnivore skulls for her science class. Living in the Ozarks I thought she would have no problem getting these. But she did not get any, so I said I would help. 

After a week of soaks in gallons of Hydrogen Peroxide and cleaning and oh the smell I got the skulls clean enough. This one is an otter. I could have boiled them but did not have a good location as it rained a lot this spring. And I needed a pot just for the skulls only. My pots are for cooking food not cleaning skulls.

It took several weeks to get these skulls to dry. I put them in my greenhouse and it worked faster.

Matching jawbones and teeth took the longest

Jawbones and teeth. A glue gun is great for joining jaws back together.

my tools

matching coyote teeth

beaver on the left and coyote on the center

The teacher got all the carnivore skulls for her class. I asked that the students wear gloves as these were not sterilized skulls. Safety first when dealing with dead things.

My favorite skull the beaver. The teeth are deep and curved. Very heavy skull.



All The Pretty Poisons

One of the joys of raising bees is teaching people about the environment- in their backyard. So many think nothing about using RoundUp to kill weeds and then they wonder why their plants, animals and bees die. You have to read and study stuff before you use it.
I bought a fly cube for my horses. This cube has one ingredient: Tetrachlorvinphos  that kills all bugs and causes cancer. I thought I would be ok, but after reading about it I bagged it and returned it. This stuff does not break down and is harmful to myself, animals, soil and water. So now I buy minced garlic to feed my horses. It keeps the flies off my horses and ticks. These bugs do not like garlic. And it does not harm anything. Sure, it might be faster and easier to buy poison in a bottle and be done with the problem. But if the poison lingers, gets into my food and causes cancer- no I will pass. Taking the natural path is better for all. For now and for the future. And for my bees. No bees means no food and that is a horrible future for all.

Bees Killers and Trouble

This is an Asian cicada killer wasp. It is pretty tame to deal with more so than other wasps and hornets. But it likes to eat bees. I have seen them about on our farm here in Missouri. The are curious and fly over by me when I am working in the garden. I have not seen them go for my bees but they can wipe a hive out in 2 hours. So my husband installed some metal gates that only allow my bees into the hives. 
My 2 hives the yellow is Hurdy and the green on is Gurdy. This was taken on the first day of bee dumping. The 3lbs of bees, plus syrup and a queen cage are seen in front of the hives. The metal gates are in the front entrances.
Bees have such a hard time as it is, this is one less thing. No wasps to be a worry.