Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mode of Travel…4-Wheeler

Most farmers around here have at least one 4-Wheeler or Quad as they are called in some parts of the US.  We use them for fun at times but the main reason we have them is for work.IMG_4092John drives one out to the fields to check irrigation every day during the summer.  Some places the pickup can’t go or would get stuck so the 4-Wheeler is the vehicle of choice.  This one has a large tank attached with a sprayer on the back and another hose with a sprayer hand wand on the side.  We use it to spray the ends of the fields and pasture for weeds.  The tank sort of looks like the back of a chair doesn’t it? 
John also uses a 4-Wheeler to check the cows and fences in the pastures.  Again you can maneuver a 4 wheeler where you can’t take a pickup.  If he needs to use it and it is too far to drive John loads it up in the back of the pickup using a folding ramp then drives to where he needs to be and unloads it.  It is not unusual to see farmers around here driving around with their 4-Wheeler in the back of their pickup trucks.

I usually drive this one as it has an automatic shift.  I hate shifting gears so this works pretty slick.  I don’t think I could ever drive it long distances as my arms get tired being stretched out all the time and the throttle is run by the right thumb and pressing it all the gets tiring too. In spite of all these inconveniences or fatigue, they are fun to drive. IMG_4093John and I each rode one down to one of our pastures that is only 2 1/2 miles away tonight.  It was nice out with no wind but the gnats were flying all over.  One thing you learn rather quickly is to ride with your mouth closed at all times…sure don't want to swallow a few of those tiny bugs.  We also noticed a lot of Dragon Flies tonight, especially in the pasture.  I am thinking that maybe they eat gnats but don’t know for sure. 

The cows just looked us over as we drove by and the 3 geriatric horses were happy to have their special treat for the day, some horse pellets.  Sally is 19 and has had some health problems in the past and can’t be ridden anymore, Lucky is 27 and was my father in law’s horse so he will live out his life on the farm and can’t be ridden either. They are both looking good and have put on some weight this summer.

Bandit belongs to a friend and is spending the summer in our pasture to try to get more weight on him as he went down hill for no apparent reason last winter even with unlimited food.  The veterinarian was stumped and attributed it to old age.  I don’t know how old Bandit is but know he is over 20.  He is looking a little better now but old horses can look like they are starved as they have sway backs and sometimes their ribs show even with special food and care.  We take care of them and try to make their life happy how ever long that is.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Farming Science

Farmers as scientists ….How you might ask, read on if you are curious.

Late summer after the corn kernels are starting to dent and the moisture or milk stage in the kernel is half way down the kernel, John cuts and puts up silage to be used as feed for the cows this winter and next spring.  Silage starts out as just a pile of finely chopped corn, green stalks, leaves and cobs.  Some changes take place in this corn pile to make the stalks, cobs and leaves palatable and nutritious to the cows.  The cellulose in the corn breaks down into a digestible form during the fermenting process that takes place in the pile of chopped corn.  The chopped corn has to be piled, packed, cut into small size pieces and the moisture content just right to make this all happen the way it should.IMG_4079The first step in this process is the chopping of the corn.  John has the help of a couple of guys to put up the silage each year and the driver of the cutter drives along and cuts a few rows of corn that is then blown into the dump wagon he pulls behind the tractor and chopper.IMG_4049
We have an old farm truck to haul the corn from the field to the pile.  The truck pulls alongside the chopper and the dump wagon dumps the newly chopped corn into the truck.
This truck is not used for much anymore and is retired most of the year but it is the only one that the special end gate was made to fit many years ago.  When this truck finally dies John will have to figure out something else. 

The truck brings the corn to the pile and dumps it all at the base of the pile.  You can see the end gate swings open to let the corn spill out onto the ground.IMG_4075
John drives the tractor with a blade on the loader front and pushes the corn up the pile distributing it along the pile.  The tractor driver pushes all the corn from that load up building the pile higher and higher and by the time it is packed the next load is delivered.  Silage can not ferment correctly if it is not packed really well to get as much of the air out between the pieces.  Oxygen left in the pile will change the end product and it will not be as good a food product for the cattle.  The tractor is very heavy and does this packing with dual wheels as John drives back and forth and back and forth over the pile.  Here are two really good articles that explain the science of the process if you want to read more.  Silage Fermentation and Preservation by North Dakota State University and Corn Silage by the University of Missouri
IMG_4063 IMG_4023
IMG_4013 IMG_4012
The three guys work for about a day and a half to get enough silage for this winter and next spring.  Our cows will be foraging in the harvested stock fields this fall and early winter until about a month before they have their new calves then they will be brought home and kept in the lots and fed the silage.  They really like it even though I think it kind of stinks!

I get nervous each year when they are putting up the silage until the job is done.  I nag John to wear his seat belt in the packing tractor as the sides of the pile are a little soft and I worry that the tractor will tumble down or go over the end of the pile as it grows higher.  There are roll bars built into the tractor cab so that should protect the driver if the seat belt is in use.  I have not heard of any accidents like that recently but remember as a child that my dad and uncle talked of someone rolling a tractor off the side of a silage pile as it was being packed – don’t remember much more than that but remember the man was injured.  I guess that made an impression on me way back then so think of that every year.

John has tried to advise me a little on this post to get my facts right.  Even growing up on a farm and living on a farm my whole married life I am not the “farmer”.  I do understand a lot about farming but don’t want to pass along misinformation so had him read it before I posted.  I had to chuckle as he had a much more detailed explanation of the process that the corn goes through to make silage but I decided to just write the basic steps and let you read more if you want from the links I posted.  After all I am sure most of you are not going to run right out and make a silage pile for yourselves.

Until Later,

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Tip Time–Vinyl Sewing

I recently learned the best tip about sewing with plastics.  If you have ever tried to sew with these materials you might have found that your presser foot wanted to stick to it and not slide along.  I know I had that trouble when I made all the luggage tags a little over a year ago.  Posted about them here on March 18, 2010.  I used a piece of fabric or paper to help the presser foot to move along and not stick to the vinyl but at times it was a little tricky to keep it under half of the foot and not stitch over it.

I read this tutorial on making bag straps of vinyl on Paradiso Designs by Cheryl Kuczek.  She suggested using a Teflon or roller foot if you have one but the best part was the tip that a regular foot could be modified very easily to slide along on the vinyl.

I decided to give it a try and wonder of wonders it worked great!  OK, here are my photos and what I did following her instructions to modify a regular sewing foot.  First you need to gather your supplies….a roll of Matte Finish cellophane tape, yup that is it.  The shiny kind of tape will not work – only the matte finish will work for this application.IMG_3954Cut off a piece of tape the length of your machine foot and stick it to the bottom of the foot.  IMG_3956
Using an X-Acto knife or scissors and trim off the excess tape between the toes of the foot and the needle hole, sides and front and back of the foot.  Cut off any tape that is not stuck down to the foot.
That’s it, now you can sew vinyl without the foot sticking.  If you are only sewing these materials occasionally it is a lot cheaper to use the matte finish tape over buying a specialty foot.  If you sew with these materials all the time it might be worth it to buy the Teflon coated feet or the rolling foot.IMG_3966
I tried each of the feet pictured above with the tape on the bottom and they all worked like a charm on the vinyl.  I am thinking any foot configuration would do the job with the tape so give your machine feet a try.  I sure wish I would have known this trick last year but better late than never and I will sure use the tape on my presser foot the next time I need to stitch vinyl.  I would like to try it on leather but I don't have any leather to try it on…let me know if you use this trick on leather as I would love to know if it works as well on it.IMG_3960
Here is one of the samples I stitched…if this were a video you would see the foot sliding along just fine, stitch after stitch.  YAY!

 This post is from the blog, Nebraska Views. If you are not currently reading this via e-mail or an RSS feed, then this post has been stolen or scraped from the Nebraska Views blog.  Stolen content can be reported HERE .”

Until later,

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Blue on Blue…The Top Is Done!

I finally got the borders sewn on the Blue on Blue quilt.  It laid on the floor of my living room for over a month just waiting and waiting and waiting.  This was the week to get it wrapped up and stitch those borders on.  It wasn’t difficult, first 5” border out of cream/navy print, second 5” border of pieced blocks and final 2 1/2” border of the cream/navy print.IMG_3975
Here is a close up photo of the cream/navy print I use for the borders.  I don’t know when I will get this quilted but at least it is all pieced now.  I do plan to bind it in a navy print to finish out the outside edge with a dark color. (Forgot to add that it measures 96x106 so is a very large quilt.)IMG_3977
I now need to figure out what my next project will be so maybe I will have something to write about again that is sewing related.  I am sorry it has been so long between posts but when I was doing no sewing it was hard to post sewing blog posts.  I hope the other posts didn’t bore you too much.

Other posts on making this quilt in case you are interested in looking back to see how I made it.
June 13,15,27,28, July 3,5,6,8,9,10 all under the label Blue on Blue.

Until Later,

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Quilt Labels Finished

I am finally getting labels on the last two quilts I finished last spring.  Had the label on the first one all stitched down then looked at it, really looked at it – can you spot the huge error? 
I am not sure how I overlooked that year number as I checked for balance, fonts and making the print bold to get more ink on it but obviously didn’t really look at the wording very well.  Thank goodness I didn’t delete the original on the computer so I could go back to the computer and printer to make another copy with the right year on it.  I am making these labels using Bubble Jet Set 2000, a solution to make ink jet printer ink permanent.  Just click on the link to read about it if you need more information.

The flower designs were cropped photos of the quilt “Sweet Remembrance” in Photoshop Elements.  The cropped photos were pasted into a Word document where I typed up the label information – kind of a cool way to bring the design from the front of the quilt to the label on the back.  Here is the new and improved label now stitched to the back of the quilt.IMG_3898
The two quilts I labeled today are going to be taken to the Nebraska State Fair on Wed. for the State Fair competition and I needed to put my own label on them plus the state fair requires that I cover my name on the label with another piece of fabric that has my name and address written on it then cover that up too.  That is an added level of security in case the fair tag gets lost.  I just baste on the state fair label so it can be removed easily after the fair.

I never plan on getting a ribbon on my quilts as I know all too well the problems that each quilt I enter has but love having something on display at the State Fair each year.  The competition is pretty stiff too so any ribbon is exciting.  Last year there were over 700 quilts entered….I wonder if there will be that many this year.  Last year was the first year the Nebraska State Fair was in a new venue in a new city so lots more quilts were entered from the western and central part of the state.  

The second quilt I am entering is the small challenge quilt I made for our guild last spring.  It is nothing special but I just like the colors and want to put it in the Nebraska State Fair quilt competition so it can also be on display.

Hey – got the job done with one day to spare!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Summer Time…

I’m not sure what to title this blog post.  It could be “Summer Time is Busy Time” or maybe “Summer Time is No Sewing Time”.  How about “Summer Time is for Nature”?  What ever title I choose it all means I just have not been sewing lately. 

The yard and garden take a lot of time plus it seems like we have more company in the summers and spend time seeing family and attending grand children’s activities.too.  I enjoy it all but do miss my machine and spending hours stitching.

Besides sewing I also love photography and take my camera with me when I can.  I especially love taking photos of flowers and flower details on the macro settings to bring out shapes and patterns that I never knew existed before.  Take a look at this detail shot …can you guess what flower has all these tiny stars packed together?  Very pretty detail and the stars are so perfect.IMG_3847-fine-detail

A little larger crop of the same photo.  Any ideas now?
OK, here is the full photo…yes, it is one of my beautiful sunflowers.  Isn’t the center with the star shapes so interesting?  I love taking close photos then enlarging them on the computer as you never know what you will see.  Nature and all it’s wonders can be fascinating.
Until Later,

Sunday, August 7, 2011

QuiltNebraska Class Projects

QuiltNebraska has been over for a week now and I did get to sit down to finish one of the class projects a few days ago.  This is from the Hawaiian Applique by Machine class taught by Sarah Smith.  The satin stitching is a little rough but the more I stitched the better I did get though.  One thing I tried to do that ended up to be a royal pain was to narrow the stitching down gradually at each point and then to widen it gradually going the other direction. 

What made this so difficult is the width adjustment knob on my Bernina 730 has no stops so it was hard to increase and not go too large.  It got very tedious to say the least.  I am not sure what would have worked better but with the number of points on this piece it was sure not fun.

Here are photos sized from my other two classes.  Not sure I will do much more with them but did love learning what the teachers could teach and will hopefully be able to use the techniques on other quilt projects.  The cheery Sun is from Mickey Depre’s Animate Your Applique class and the partialiy finished tree is from the bobbin drawing class by Marjan Kluepfel
 IMG_3776  IMG_3779 
Today was cooler so it was a nice change from the near hundred degree days.  I am not getting much sewing done but eventually I will have time again.  It seems like every summer is like this though.

Until later,

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Let The Sunflowers Bloom!

My sunflowers are so pretty right now so I am sharing a few photos of them.  I planted a mixed color package and some are the traditional bright yellow and others are this shaded burnt orange color – beautiful.  The bumble bee just happened to be gathering pollen when I snapped these photos.  It is hard to take photos of most of the flowers as the plants are about 8" tall but this one had blown over and then curved up again to bloom so the flower was only about 3" off the ground.

Friday, August 5, 2011

A Walk Around The Farm Yard On A Hot Summer Day

That title pretty much sums the weather the last few weeks.  We have had extreme heat andIMG_3455 high humidity for weeks.  I spend the majority of my time inside our house where it is air conditioned but I do get out to mow the yard and water my flowers and garden but don’t go out just for the fun of it as I don’t tolerate heat too well.  Being a former red head I burn rather easily you see.

The other day I did have to make a trip IMG_3456out to turn some water off so grabbed my camera and walked around and snapped some photos of some of the things I saw around our farmyard.  First I walked through the Quonset with the shop in one end and storage on the other and noticed the row of old saddles.  There they were lined up over a pipe, collecting dust.  These were well used and worn saddles but for many reasons are not used anymore.  Some are intact but others have had parts robbed from them to repair other saddles.  Looking through the dust you can see the beautiful tooling.

On the way to the barn I crossed a moon landscape….maybe not a real moon landscape.  OK, not the moon but a dried up puddle.  The cracked former mud sure has a great texture though.

Bart (left) and Jesse (right) greeted me IMG_3467as they thought I might have something for them to eat so they came running when they saw me walking toward them.  You might ask why they are in different pens?  Bart is a pain in the patootie and quite ornery but he can eat pasture grass, where as Jesse is well trained but gets overly fat when she is out in the pasture that is close to the barn so she has to eat hay in the lot by the barn instead of being in the pasture all the time.  A fat horse has too much trouble running, breathing and other problems caused by carrying the excess weight.  (Hmmm…it is the same with people too isn’t it?)  A lot of times the two horses are standing beside each other across the fence just hanging out.  Bart doesn’t like being separated from the other horses but when they are together he is not nice to any of them either.  You would think he would learn to be a good boy.  Right now it is just the twohorses here on the farm as our two geriatric (old) horses are at one of the pastures with the cows for the summer so I think Bart is trying hard to be nice to Jesse.  Jesse is rather dusty in this photo as she had just been rolling around in the dirt to try to help keep the flies off of her.  The dust helps protect her skin from the biting flies.

As I was heading back to the house to cool off who should drive in but my hubby.  He had to go to a town about 35 miles away to get repairs and was just getting back.  He is smiling as he is also in an air conditioned pickup but soon would be back in the heat getting that piece of equipment fixed while I will be cooling off in the house. 

So much for my short walk, now it is time for a cold glass of lemonade.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Sweet Corn

IMG_2967Our sweet corn was ready to harvest during the weekend I was attending QuiltNebraska so guess what I had to do on Monday morning?  Well, I didn’t “have to” but I love my own frozen corn so much better than any I can buy I “want to” preserve it this way for eating the rest of the year.  I wrote a blog about the procedure I use in a blog post long ago on August 22, 2008.  Still do it the same way each year so why repeat what I have talked about before.  So far I have not dehydrated any this year but re-reading this post reminded me that this would be something else I might want to do yet.  It isn’t quite as important to get the ears picked at just the right time since the kernels from older ears dry just fine and grind up great for cornmeal.   That might make good gifts if I get it done and have extra.

I was really tired of standing by the time I got it done but the feeling of satisfaction of having enough corn in the freezer for the coming year makes it worth it.  I had 7 pkgs. left from last year so put a little more in the freezer this year as that was cutting it pretty close.  I always serve corn from my freezer to company, especially if they do not put up corn themselves.  They are always amazed at how good it is, more tender and sweet than what they can buy.

Until later,

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

QuiltNebraska 2011

Last weekend was the annual quilt convention for the Nebraska State Quilt Guild that is named QuiltNebraska.  There are classes by national and regional teachers, banquets, quilt displays, merchants booths, raffle quilts, etc.  It was a fun filled busy weekend that always passes so quickly.  I room with the same 3 gals and we took our annual photo right before the Saturday night banquet.  Sometime I should go back and look at past years and compare…or maybe not.  Who wants to see yourself age year by year? IMG_3758
I took three machine work classes over the weekend so packed up my Bernina 730 to use.  I needed a zig zag machine so my Singer Featherweight stayed at home this year.  Lugging my machine to the second floor of the motel to our room the first night then down on Friday morning for my first class was a challenge but I solved that problem by putting it in my car between the other classes.

Friday morning I took “Bobbin Drawing, Thread Painting, and Free Motion Machine Embroidery” by Marjan Kluepfel.  Was a fun class learning how to set up your machine for the different techniques and playing with different threads.  Some threads worked real well and others I found out were not good choices.  Am anxious to try bobbin drawing on a quilt top soon.  Marjan is very talented and her work is full of detail and very pretty.
I had a machine embroidery class on Friday afternoon, “Animate Your Applique” by Mickey Depre.  She uses a product called Pellon Décor Bond as her stabilizer of choice.  The product worked well and want to get more to try.  Mickey was fun and making the sampler of different stitches will be a nice reference.  Her quilts are so whimsical, very lovely and hang so well with the extra stabilizer.
Saturday I took an all day class with Sarah Smith called “Hawaiian Applique by Machine”.  I really enjoyed the class and have worked on my block at home this week.  I am not that proficient at satin stitching so it is a little wonky but with a little practice I am sure I can do a better job.  The room was really tight with tables and students but we managed to find room for what we needed to do.  Tried another stabilizer in Sarah’s class and liked the way it behaved.  It was C&T's Wash-Away Applique sheets that can be fused too.  Loved looking closely at Sarah’s work as it is just beautiful.
Each year a new raffle quilt is revealed at the Saturday night banquet.  The quilts are always beautiful and this year is no exception.  The quilt was entered into the Machine Quilters Showcase in Overland Park, Kansas this last May and did well.  It is named “Magic of the Rose” and was pieced and appliqued by a group of women from the Columbus, Nebraska area and machine quilted by Kristin Vierra of Lincoln.  It won the viewers choice award plus and honorable mention award.  My photo was taken from the side so is not the best angle but you get the idea of what it looks like and the detail shots show the wonderful machine quilting.
The theme and national teachers were revealed for 2012 in a video slide presentation.  The chairman is very enthusiastic and has a lot of things in place already.  QuiltNebraska moves around to different locations and 2012 will be held in LaVista, Nebraska then end of July.  The web page here shows the teachers booked so far and some of the other plans that have been made so far.  They will be updating it with new information as it becomes available.  The convention will play on the Harry Potter idea – different than we have had but sounds like fun.  This is not limited to just Nebraska residents so if you are interested in attending next year just check out the website for more information in the coming months.  Registration forms won’t probably be posted until Feb. or March though.

Still thinking back to a great time spent with quilters and quilts – a great summer get away.

PS-Follow this link to see a better photo taken of the quilt.

Monday, August 1, 2011

More Potholders

I can finally show you the other three potholders/hot pads I made from old jean fabric.  These were made as gifts for friends and I didn’t present them until this last weekend. 
I tried to coordinate them with the tea pots that were also part of their gift.  They might be a little large for the pots but will protect the table from the heat of a pot full of hot water and they can be used as potholders too.
The next photo was sent to me from a reader of my blog following the tutorial I posted on this blog entry.
photo 2
  She helped her granddaughter make these potholders when they had a sewing day together recently.  Aren’t they cute? She did such a good job too for a young girl.  Her grandmother said if she were making them again she might cut the batting a little smaller so it wouldn’t have a chance to peak out.  I think that would be a good idea – the 1/2” smaller size worked for me but a child would have more trouble keeping the batting hidden under the cotton print and cutting it smaller would solve that problem.  Thanks Carol for sending the photo!.



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