Friday, December 31, 2010

At the end of the year

Here we are on the last day of the year. What a year it has been. From a fantastic quilt trip to Japand to being down and out for a while after surgery. But by and by it has been a good year. We had a lovely time during Christmas. The group was smaller then I'm used to,but that did not matter. We had a white and cold Christmas, but right now it is raining, so no more smowmobile rides for a while. This year I have been knitting up a storm. After not being able to knit for years, because of painful shoulders, I found that I could knit socks again if I took my time.Most of the socks have found a good home. These were barely of the needles before Christmas. I gave our son-in-law's mother a choice and she picked this pair. The pattern is another by Cookie A and the yarn is by Socks-that-Rock, my favorite combination. I'm working on a new pair, since my inventory is quite low after the holidays. I have a new idea for a quilt and this Delft Blue vase is part of it. The idea is to make a quilt with old Delft Blue vases and pots. In the vases I would applique bouquets of spring flowers. I'm thinking of tulips, daffodils, snowdrops and crocusses.To see if I can pull it of, I took pictures of a vase that I remember sitting on the mantle at my grandparents. From there they( yes there are 3) came to my mother's and after she passed away they came to me.
I found a few suitable blue/white fabrics in my stash and I have been looking around for more. Next week I should have a good start.
This vase will be filled with tulips and I found some fabric by Phil Beaver with lots of color variations. I have not been able to find a suitable Dutch picture for the center, but I did have a suitable oriental fabric, so that's what it will be.
Now it is on the the next job. When we were growing up, my mother would always make oliebollen for New Years Eve. I found a recipe, so I will be making some for us and take some to the neighbours, at least if they will turn out.
Wishing all of you out there a very Happy 2010!
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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Thinking a year ahead.

Not long after I had send all our Christmas cards away I discovered, that I was a few short. My eye fell on my container with selvages and an idea started to form. I had a nice piece of dark blue batik,already with WonderUnder at the back. And I found a piece of Timtex, big enough to make 5 cards.The Timtex is used to make the cards stiff, so they look like a real postcard. I dumped the whole box of selvages on the table and started to sort the blueish ones out, both with lettering and color dots. I also found a few pieces of a silky type ribbon, used to tie fabric packs together. First step was to cut out the Timtex a little larger then I needed. On one side I ironed Wonder Under. I took the paper of so only the glue part was left. Next step was to audition pieces of the selvages and ribbon and try and come up with a nice design. Once I was satisfied I ironed the pieces on to the Timtex. I had a piece of dark blue batik all ready to go. I drew halve the tree design on a piece of freezer paper, folded it double and cut it out. From there I ironed it on the dark blue fabric and drew around it with a white marking pen. Once cut out I centered it on the selvages and ironed it down. For the back I found a piece of grey/blue wintery fabric with cranes, just enough for 5 cards. After ironing some WonderUnder to the back, I put a piece on the back of each card. Now was the time to square it all up. Then the final step, the finishing of the edges. I used a variegated King Tut thread, left over from a previous project. Some cards are gone, but a few were stored in a safe place. I have been making different cards for what must be close to 15 years and at times the hardest thing for me is getting a new idea. Now I don't have to worry about next year. I will have to start to collect more selvages from blueish fabrics though. It took more thant I thought. This will be my last post before Christmas and I wish everybody out there a very Merry Christmas.
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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas cards

I know it has been a while, but I did not feel the best. But a visit to the doctor and some medication took care of it. But in the meantime not much got done. Last week I managed to do the water area of my landscape. The front will have more trees and rocks, but I have not decided what will go where. It is on my design wall and once in a while I have a good look. One of these days I will get THE idea. Yesterday I mailed this year's Christmas cards. I had the wintery print for a while and I had enough for 12 cards. The back ground is a fine Indian cotton, what made it hard to stitch the sashiko. The sashiko was done by hand and I used overdyed cotton thread by Sassalyn . It was left over from another project. Inside the cards is a piece of Timtex and this makes it firm. Now today I realize, that I'm a few cards short. I found enough Timtex for 5 more cards and I will show the result next week. Most of my Christmas shopping is done and the gifts are wrapped and under the tree. This is the first time we went to a tree farm near Mount Forest for out Christmas tree. What I liked the most was the giant Saint Bernard, which greeted us. We used to have one years ago on the farm and I'm still partial to them. I did some special baking also, but around here that never lasts too long. Whereever I hide it, my dear hubby will find it. My solution is, to do the rest of the baking just before Christmas Day. On Tuesday I finished my schedule for this year. I did a trunk show at the guild in St. Mary's. We have had a fair amount of snow, not as much as a lot of places around us, and the roads can be slick at times. We were lucky. I did get there in time and had a wondeful time. And after my talk, there was a catered lunch. What can be better. When it did start to snow again, I got out of there in a hurry and I made it home in good time. We have had the bird feeder out for a few weeks now. When we just moved here, I was complaining to Laurence , that we never saw any birds. Well, this year is different. It seems, that every few days I have to fill up the 'big' feeder. And for the first time I saw my favorite bird, the cardinal. I know, that this is not the best of pictures, but I cannot get any closer. All in all it seems that most of the work for Christmas has been done and I feel less pressure than some years.
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Thursday, December 02, 2010

Winter is here

Last Saturday I had a workshop in Burlington, at least a 11/2 hour drive from here. When we got up, it was freezing rain. Not good for this nervous driver! But since we were up early, Laurence decided to come along. He quickly did the chores and of we were. He dropped me of at the store and spend the day visiting with Jeanette and Tony. They had promised to take him out for lunch if he would bring the truck. That way he could take their summer tires back to our place for storage. We had a pleasant time during the workshop. For lunch a few went across the road to a deli and they came back with some Dutch chocolate I had not seen in 40 years. As a child we would get small chocolate Christmas wreaths topped with sprinkles. And here was a whole container to be shared by all. That started the conversation and it ended up that most had some Dutch in them and all had stories to tell. And yes, during this all they kept working very hard. All in all a succesful day. When Laurence picked me up again, the snow and ice were gone and the sun was shining. But I was very happy he came along. I have been somewhat under the weather for the last few weeks and had dreaded this day, but it turned out fine. Not much has been accomplished, just the necessary seems to get done. I put the crazy quilt away till next year. I did find this small wallhanging I made years ago. I never used it. No wonder, it did not have sleeve. I put a sleeve on and will hang it in the hall. I think I made it, when I got a machine with some fancy stitches. I do remember, that it was hard sewing with this golden thread.
And winter is here. We have snow on the ground. This morning I saw a car almost sliding in the ditch. It seems that you have to see something like that, before you are slowing down yourself. And now the snow can come for Laurence. The outside work is done and he has his new snowmobile licence!Posted by Picasa

Friday, November 26, 2010

Grandma's cross stich quilt

When Jeanette asked me to take a few of her quilts home so that they can be flat on a bed for a while, this was one of them. With one large dog and 2 cats her house is not set up to display her "good" quilts. I still remember when grandpa and grandma Helmuth went on holidays to the States for a few days. Grandma found this pattern for a cross stitched quilt top. She had bought the kit and spend the following few winters making the top. It is a beautiful design with lots of different colors. Once the top was finished, she quilted it, all by her self. Really, 100% of this quilt has been done by her. Then when Jeanette and Tony got married, grandma choose this quilt to give to them as her wedding gift. Right now, she cannot display it, but she hopes that in the future she has the right place for it. It has been another busy week with specialists appointments for grandma and dentist appointments. Right now Shawn is home for a few days, so we want to spend as much time with him as possible. He will fly back to Calgary at 6 tomorrow morning. That means leaving about 4. It will be a short night! I'm allready packed to go and teach in Burlington tomorrow. This will be the last workshop for this year. Last week I send a picture of my crazy quilt to a quilter by the name of Allison Aller, who is very well known for her crazy quilts. I asked if she had some ideas about how to put my crazy quilt together. She gave me some great suggestions. According to her I should put some thought into what I put on the back. Now for me a backing just means to get a piece of fabric, preferable matching the front somewhat, and that's it. I knew I wanted to use the fabric my mother had bought years ago to make a Hindelooper costum. She never got around to it and finally gave me the fabric. Over the years I had used some of it, but I did have enough left to make the back you see here. Then I used some of the lace I used for the front and covered the seams with that. The lace is then embroidered to the background. This is all I will do. The next step will be to do some hand quilting around the blocks and around the border. The rest will be tacked together with beads. How I have not quite decided. It will be one step at a time.
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Friday, November 19, 2010

Back to the crazy quilt

It has been another week where not much quilt wise has been accomplished. My mother-in-law came back from the hospital at the beginning of the week. She is much better, but still needs regular visits. Since the week-end we have a canine visitor, Bernie the Bernese. A few days ago Laurence took her for a long walk through a corn field and unknown to us, she ended up with burdocks on her legs. That was the beginning of a frantic search to get them all removed. We have never seen her that upset, to the point of starting to vomit. I clipped most of them with scissors and after a few hours of trantic searching she quieted down. I guess she is not what you would call a farm dog. She likes to be very clean I was told later.Now we just take "clean" walks on the lawn. We also had company from out west. That and the guild meeting on Wednesday took a chunk of time.I also realized that in just a few months entries for the NJS have to be in and the crazy quilt is far from finished. Today I sewed the last of the lining to the front. It is a very heavy quilt and I want to be sure, that it will not start to sag. So far so good. Next I will put a variegated piece of yarn around the blocks, so the edge will pop out more. For the bat I will use a piece of heavy flannel and then on the back will be the fabrics my mother gave me. Next question is: How to put it all together. There has to be a "quilted component" I figure I will hand quilt on both sides of the border.The inside of the border and the blocks I will tie with light colored embroidery floss. For the black velvet I have some black beads in mind. That will come last and I'm not sure about it. This landscape has been put on the backburner for a while. I was planning to have it finished by now, so I could do some of the embroidery tomorrow during my workshop, but that is not going to happen. The car is all loaded up for my workshop tomorrow in Guelph. For this one I need a sewing machine and I spend some time today to make sure it was all set up right. Then next week the last workshop for this year. I will be at the "Quilters Dream" in Burlington. We will start an Hawaiian style block, using the snowflake folding method of making the pattern. I think there are a few spaces left and if you are interested you can get information at 905-681-8164
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Thursday, November 11, 2010

It took a long time!!

In May 2009, I taught my 2 day workshop "Vase with orchids" at Quilt Canada in Saskatoon. One of the organizers saw my sample, and she mentioned that she had a lot of orchids at home and asked if I wanted a small one (notice the word "small").

The next day she showed up with, in my eyes, a large orchid in a clay pot. No way I was going to leave it behind, so I emptied one of my bags and stuffed it under my seat on the plane. It got home in one piece. Over the next months it grew a few new shoots, which would then turn brown and wither away.

This spring I got fed up and took the plant outside. I smashed the pot to pieces and cut up the plant in 6 pieces. Two were very small and they ended up in the compost pile; the rest I potted up. One I hung in a tree, the others ended up in the shaded area of the deck. A month later, I found the 2 small pieces in the compost pile had roots. I found pots and put them with the others. Later I gave a few away, and the rest are doing fine. No more water out of the tap (runs through the conditioner) but water out of the barn -- and no more brown points. And yesterday I had the first flowers! And it was worth the wait.

I see I have lost a picture of my landscape in progress that I had loaded up and have no idea how to get it back. That will have to wait till later. There was a question about the sky fabric. It is not a batik or a hand dyed. It was a small piece that I found somewhere in my travels. And all I had is being used.

These fabrics are the ones used for the foliage. I try and buy fabric with lots of variations and then I cut where ever I find the right piece. This makes for very "hole-y" fabric. Notice the small piece in the left bottom corner. It has maple leaves, and those leaves are the perfect color for some of the "trees". Notice also the holes.

We had a busy week. On Saturday I taught a landscape workshop in Guelph, and this coming Saturday I will repeat the class. On Monday, I spent a big part of the day with my mother-in-law at Emergency, and finally at 7 at night she was admitted. She is doing well, but will be in the hospital for a few more days. On Tuesday I had a trunk show in Ajax. I do not like to drive in the city and was not looking forward to this. But Laurence came to the rescue. He came along. This way we were able to visit grandma in the hospital first. We took the road through the country, Orangeville, Newmarket and then south and we did not run into heavy traffic till a few kilometers from where we had to be. With him driving, it was a piece of cake. By the time we were done, the busiest time was over and we came home over the 401, through Kitchener. And in the end that way was only 1/2 km farther than the other.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Fall landscape

We have had a few busy days, and we can blame it on this little fellow and his companions. The busiest time for us is before the chicks arrive.

It amazes me always how these little chicks, barely out of the egg, hit the straw ready for action. As small as they are, they will start eating and drinking right away.

Now it is back to quilting. For the next two Saturdays, I will be teaching my second landscape workshop at Greenwood Quiltery in Guelph, and there are a few places left. If you are interested you can give them a call at 1-866-364-2790. In this workshop, I will teach you how to make a pattern from your own picture.

It is always good to have a project on the go. I started this landscape as a sample of how I approach a project like this. The picture is from a very old postcard I found in my mother-in-law’s box, when we were getting ready to move her to a retirement home. I enlarged the picture and made a copy, first on transparencies, and from there on freezer paper.

For me the hardest is to find the right piece of fabric for the sky. Once that is in place, I feel like I'm getting somewhere.Then after the applique is finished, I will keep on with some threadwork.

We have made some changes to this website and you will notice the menu line across the top. We will re-organize the quilt galleries and the first one shows the quilts I have co-ordinated for the Mennonite Relief Sale. As time allows, we will update the other categories. Some new ones will be added and some older ones removed. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Blame the wind

Yesterday started out well, with lots of sun: a perfect day to work in the garden. On our way home from Jeanette's, we had stopped at the Terra Greenhouses, and since the bulbs were on sale, I could not stop myself and had to get some more. You can never have too many spring blooms after a long winter. And I managed to do some additional cleaning. This arrangement shows a few of the flowers still out there.

The wind was strong, but it had been like that for a few days. Early in the afternoon, just when I was ready to sit down at the computer, the lights started to flicker. After 15 minutes of that, the lights went out and stayed out till it was time to make supper. After supper, cleaning the dishes and bringing Laurence back to the workshop, I was ready again, but right at that moment it turned pitch black and it stayed that way. We went to bed very early and by this morning we had hydro again. And yes, we have generators at the barns, just not at the house here. We did buy a small one last year, but over the summer it got stolen, along with a backpack blower.

It has been a very busy week. I was in Barrie for 2 days, for a trunkshow and a workshop. The last time I went to Barrie I ended up in a snow storm. This time it was better, but still I ran into the first snow of the year. I had a very enjoyable time there with a very lively group.

Then on Sunday, my friend Lois and I went to Jeanette's. She had tickets for the Shaw Festival after which we went out for supper. I knew that she had a few quilts tucked in the closet. I asked if I could take them home to give them a rest from being folded up.  One of them is this quilt, made by Jeanette when she was 9 years old. She wanted to make a quilt and her grandma offered her to buy the fabric and then, when it was all pieced together she and the great aunts would quilt it for her. She choose this pink fabric ( a color she cannot stand now). Each evening, after the dishes were done she would sew a block, while I was in the barn, milking the cows. She was very exact and did a lot of ripping, but she did finish it in time for it to be quilted for her 10th birthday.

I did not get much done this week. It is getting time to finish the crazy quilt, and the first step was to sew the backing on. This is a very heavy quilt and it needs an extra layer to keep it from sagging. This lining is heavy and hopefully will do the job. It has been sewn to the center. The next step will be to sew the border to the center with reverse applique. The hole has been cut and it is all basted together – all I need is time.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

More sunshine

Here it is – the middle of October – and there are still gorgeous roses outside. I took a bunch of pink ones to my mother-in-law, and made this small arrangement for on the table. Since the rose bushes are at the side of the house, we don't really notice them. So we might as well enjoy them inside. And as soon as these are finished, there are more where these came from. 

All my orchids are back inside and the time outside has done them well. Most have new shoots coming and I hope to have a very colorful winter. This clivia decided to bloom early this year. It sits in the hall,inside the strainer. I really treasure this milk can and strainer. Both are painted in the style done in the small town of Hindelopen, where my mother grew up.

The can has a painting of the farm where I grew up. On the strainer is a picture of the farm my parents moved to when they sold the farm. It was their retirement place, where they could have a few heifers, horses and (for my mother) some Shetland ponies. By that time, I had been in Canada for a while, so it never was home to me.

This can came to Canada in a large crate with other things after my parents passed away. I have another milk can without strainer, also painted with the farm, that I brought years ago. I never forget how heavy it was, carrying it on the plane, full of knitting yarn. Yes, at that time it was carry-on. When I saw a neighbour at the airport in Toronto, willing to take me and my milk can home, I was overjoyed. By that time I could hardly lift the silly thing. But you forget that once it was home. Now I just enjoy looking at it.

This quilt top is finally finished. In the corners I had planned to put Chinese characters, but it just did not look good. These kamon designs look much better.

Right now the car is packed and ready to go. This afternoon, I will drive to Barrie for a trunkshow tonight. And then tomorrow a workshop.

On the farming front, the harvest is finished. This year we had good weather. That meant a good crop. And now we also have good prices. So who can complain!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

More sun

We have had some more beautiful sunny days. The trees have turned color, but in general they are not as bright as some years. These trees are the best I could find, and they are just up the road from us. Other years, we have gone for drives to "find the best trees" and more than once we would find them right around our farm on our way home!

We’ve also had some fabulous sun rises. I took this picture 2 days ago, at about 7 o'clock in the morning. It never lasts long, so as soon as you see these colors, you run for the camera.

Monday was Thanksgiving, but since it was a nice day and we were busy with the harvest, we had our dinner on Sunday. Jeanette and Tony, Tony's mom and dad, and grandma all came, and with everybody bringing something we had lots to eat. I found enough flowers around the house to make this arrangement in a hollowed out pumpkin. Then on Monday I dug up all the remaining bulbs and tubers, which are now drying in the garage.

Here is a picture of another pair of socks I knitted, and as you can see, Bernie the Bernese was not impressed. The yarn is "Socks that Rock” and the pattern is from the book " Sock Innovation" by Cookie A. Looking back, the pattern would have shown up better with a less colorful yarn.

Yesterday morning, I drove up to the Grey County Museum near Owen Sound for a short workshop, and later, a trunkshow. The guilds in Grey and Bruce County had come together and put this day together. With about 180 quilters attending, it was a busy place. In the afternoon, I taught a workshop on making flowers with wired ribbon. Then we drove a short distance to the Keady Community Center, where we had a delicious supper. Then came my turn to do my trunk show.

By the time I drove home, the nice weather was gone and it was raining. I had a great day, and the ladies did a fabulous job with the organization. They were already talking about next year.
Next week I will be at our guild meeting on Wednesday, then I will be in Barrie on Thursday for a trunkshow and on Friday for a workshop.
Right now the sun is shining again and Laurence is back to combining corn. It is all going very fast and this time next week we hope to be finished – that is, as long as the combine behaves and I keep the guys fed and watered.

Friday, October 08, 2010

Gorgeous weather

Just as I was sitting down to write this post, the phone rang. It was Laurence: could I bring some lunch to Herb, the neighbour we work with? And since it would on my way, he could use some more lunch, too. And then take Herb from point A to B, back to A, then to C.

This has been been going on for some days now, but I don't mind. The weather has been beautiful, the trees are changing colors, and the soybeans are off the field. Later on today, we will start combining the corn. Up to now, it has been almost a perfect fall: completely the opposite of last year, and much easier to take!

The border pieces with the sashiko pannels are finished, but not yet attached. In the corners, I would like to add some Chinese symbols. Since Tony's parents are coming on Sunday and know both Mandarin and Cantonese, they can help me with that. The coins will not go on till after the quilting. I figure it will be much easier to do the quilting first, than having to go around all the coins.

But the quilting will have to wait till this winter. There are a few other projects that I have to finish first. One, my Christmas cards for this year, is now finished. The crazy quilt will be next. I still don't know how to get it all together and not have it sag – but I will take it one step at a time.

On Wednesday I'm teaching a short workshop for the guilds in Grey and Bruce County. It was just supposed to be some flowers made of shaded wired ribbon, but I felt that would not be enough, so I have been digging in my sample box. Each time I teach a workshop and come home with some samples, they go in this box. When needed I will take them out. It is very handy if I need some for postcards. I will make up a pattern, but all the pieces will stay separate, so we can play with the design.

Sunday we will have our Thanksgiving dinner. Jenny and Tony are coming tomorrow, and then on Sunday his parents and grandma will be here. The group is smaller than it used to be, since Shawn and Emily, and Laurence's siblings and families, have moved out west. We still will have our turkey, but no 20 pounder!

Now I’m heading out to the garden. It is the perfect time to clean up, but it is a shame as long as the flowers are still blooming. Winter is long enough as it is. So, as in other years, part of the cleaning up in the flower beds will be done in freezing weather.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Sashiko workshop

On Saturday I had a few friends from our guild over for a day. They had decided on a beginner sashiko course. Since it was a small group we could have it in our dining room with a nice big window. Since my quilt room is right beside, it was easy to go there and have a look at what I'm up to.

Jeanette went with me to Japan at the beginning of the year and she loved the small kimonos. I always keep one handy, that is only partially sewn together. That way I have something to look at, in case I forget how it goes together. She had just the solution. With her camera she took pictures of the different steps.

Elizabeth also went to Japan. She has all the fabrics to prove it. She will use the sashiko to go with her pieced pieces. This was something new for Tamara, but it did not take her long to catch on. We had a wonderful day and are planning to do it again in April with another new technique.

I have been working on some narrow bands of sashiko to be used in the border for the quilt I'm working on.  I did not get too much done. I was in Pickering on Monday for a trunk show and on Tuesday for a workshop. Driving down went very well and I was way too early for supper, but on my way home it rained quite heavy and it was no fun at all driving on the busy 401. But the nice people make it all worth while.

This is the sample of the narrow band of sashiko. It is 1 inch wide. On the left is the front, on the right the back. But it could easily be the opposite.

I have just finished mowing the lawn and I hope it is the last time for the year. The trees have been changing colors, but for them to turn more we will need a frost. So far we have had no frost here. The soybean harvest has stopped for the time being. While I was in Toronto we had 2 inches of rain here. But most of the beans are off and the winter wheat is in the ground, and right beside the house the field looks green already.

Next up is a workshop on Saturday at Greenwood Quiltery in Guelph.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

My oldest quilt

When I got ready for my trunk show on Monday morning, this quilt showed up at the bottom of the pile. It is my oldest quilt and dates from about 1850. It was made by Margaretha Axt, Laurence's great-grandmother on his mother's side. I received it quite a few years ago from his aunt Ruth from Chicago. It had been hanging in her family room, but she was ready to move and none of her family wanted the quilt, so she wondered if I wanted it. I could not say no. Most of the fabrics are in good shape. The brown patterned fabric is in very good shape and the colors still look bright. Notice how the dark patches are not all going in the same direction... The binding is gone in places. The red fabric is also gone in a lot of places and the wool bat is coming through.

I was told that the reason for the disappearing fabric was something used to make red dye. I do not want it to discolor anymore, so I’m keeping it in a dark place – on a bed, beneath some other quilts, where it will not get creases.

I had a good trip to the Etobicoke guild. I'm not a city driver and was not looking forward to this trip, but it all worked out very well. I had a nice supper with some of the members. And the facility they meet in makes you jealous!

I always put 7 large quilts in a suitcase that fits just right in the back of the car. When I was trying to open the suitcase, the zipper broke and that meant a trip to Waterloo for a new one. I'm going next week for 2 days to another guild on the other side of Toronto ( Rouge Valley), so the new suitcase could not wait. I found one on sale: I was a very happy camper! On my way back I stopped at a tree nursery. I always wanted a Mountain Ash tree. My inlaws had one on their front lawn and I always loved the look of it. Laurence had stopped in on Saturday, but he wanted me to check it out. He even had dug the hole already. I found the tree I liked and with it tied on the back of the truck I got it home. I'm pleased to tell you that, as of now, it is in the hole, everything is cleaned up -- and we even put 2 stakes in with wire to keep the tree straight.

We have had some decent days and managed to combine part of the soybeans. This morning, Laurence planted some more winter wheat and an hour ago I took him over to the combine.There is rain in the forecast, so he wants to try to get as many beans combined as possible. As soon as I'm done with this entry, I have to go back and see what he has lined up for me to do. My ITINERARY has been updated. Please have a look.