Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Christmas cards 2011

Another month and another cold. I'm not sick, but I don't feel like doing as much as I would like. I did send my Christmas cards. And I'm very glad I made these in the summer. Laurence always tell me I'm nuts, but that seems the time to get it done. By late November I seem to have a lot of other things on the go.
The background of these cards are selvages, sewn to a piece of Timtex (you can really use anything that stiffens the fabric enough so that it is not too floppy). I wanted a different color combination and saved for a long time to get enough of the blue selvages. And there are none left! The silhouette comes from the book Applique Paper Greetings by Elly Sienkiewicz. 
For the silhouette I traced the pattern on the dull side of freezerpaper, cut the pattern out and ironed it to the right side of a piece of dark blue batik which had fusible web on the back.
 Next step, trace around the freezer paper pattern.
Cut the tree out, center it on the background and fuse it.
For the back I had to be somewhat creative. I did not have enough fabric for all the backs, so I used different scraps. One of my favorite fabrics is the one with the cranes. I had only bought a fat quarter and had used most of it by now. It was just the right color, so this was the time to use the rest.
With the cards I made before, I always had trouble finding a spot to write a short note. This time I came up with the idea of using a piece of silk ribbon, again fused to the fabric. It worked very well and the writing looked good. The final step was the zigzag stitch around the card. For that I used a variegated thread by King Tut.
The cards went out on Friday and I know of at least one that has arrived.
The weather is not really winterlike. Today it rained all day and it will be the same tomorrow. It would be nice to have a white Christmas, but we can do without a winter storm.  The tree has been decorated and some of the baking is done. I'm not much for anything sweet, but Laurence makes up for it. And my shopping is done, over with!!!!

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Wheat weaving

Years ago I went with a neighbour for a one evening course in what was called wheat weaving. We made a few small braids using wheat straw. I found it very interesting and wanted to know more. The instructor that evening had only one small book and could not tell me much. I did find the address for the Women's Institute of England in the back of the book. I wrote a letter explaining my interest and a few weeks later I received a reply from Janet, who has been my friend ever since. I have visited her in England and she has been to Ontario to see me. We even went to the North American Wheat Weaver's Convention in Illinois together.From her I learned more about the craft of making "Corn Dollies" as it is called in England. I also got to know Daniel, who made corn dollies for a living not far from us in St. Jacobs. You use mostly wheat, the straw as well as the heads. It is in the heads that we can see a difference. There is bearded wheat ( has long hairs) Black bearded wheat with ever longer hairs, white looking straw and red looking straw. And then there is barley and oatsLaurence used to have test plots with the varieties, that I would beg of the different companies. I loved to make a large variety of designs. I would sell them at the different craft sales and that was the part I did not like. You cannot use the straw till it has been in water from 1/2 to 11/2 hour. That makes it plyable and from there you can braid and twist it. At that time I still did most of the milking and my hands and arms used to give me trouble. Because the straw had to be wet, you could not stop too long. I found that with applique I could just do a little and stop. Slowly the applique became more important and finally I stopped with the wheat. I have only a few pieces left. I had forgotten all about these dolls. One year I planned to make a nativity scene, but after these 4 dolls I gave up. They are about 12 inches tall. The idea was to make the rest the following year. And promptly it was forgotten. When a friend asked me about them I took them out of the box and I will display them this year. In the back of the yard we have a fair sized gazebo. We don't use it, since we have a large deck at the back of the house and during the summer we do not take the time to sit out much. But I figured that it might be an excellent place to put my orchids for the summer.By the middle of June I took them all out there and they were told to either do well or they would end up in the compost pile. Almost all listened very well . By the time I took them in, after a few light frost, most of them had buds. This is the first one blooming and it looks like there will be more before Christmas.
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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Another quilt finished

Finally it all came together and I could finish this quilt.
I started with the dark blue blocks. I used Susan Briscoe's books as a guide to fill the dark blocks with hitomezaski sashiko patterns (one stich sashiko). In the 4 corners are designs I have made before. All the sashiko is done by hand. It takes a while, but I love sitting down and working by hand.
The 2 fabrics in the other blocks are doby cloth I bought from Michelle at Kallisti quilts.
A few years ago we went for dinner to the Mandarin Restaurant during Chinese New Year and each of us received a coin. I had saved them and they would give a nice touch to this quilt. But I had 2 problems. First of all I did not have quite enough coins. All it took was one phone call to the restaurant and I was told I could pick up as many coins as I needed.  The next problem was the large square hole in the center of the coin. I could not find the right button to either fill the hole go over the top.
When I found out that my friends Elizabeth and Elizabeth (or as I call them the dynamic duo) were going to the show in Houston I asked them to look for something suitable. And they delivered! They found beautiful round, Japanese buttons, large enough and the right color. For the back,they brought back small square pearl shell buttons.
By that time I had machine quilted the piece and was ready for the final step. It worked like a charm. I sewed the binding on and it hangs as it should, nice and straight.
This is one more project done.
I'm working on some new applique blocks, but it is going slow.
We still spend a fair amount of time with my mother-in-law in town. We also have a visitor again. Abner the basset is back for a few days and he is making himself at home. His favorite spot is Laurence 's chair.
One of these days I will have to start thinking about Christmas. Right now it is all white outside and that at least gets us in the mood.
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Saturday, November 19, 2011

More work in the future

It has been a while, but I have been under the weather for over a week now. At about this time of the year I will get problems with my throat. Some years it is very sore, but I can talk normally; other years I will get laryngitis. And this was a bad year. Needless to say that it has been a very quiet week around here. But we did have some company. Abner, the Basset, spend a few days at our place, He must be the easiest dog to have around. Here he takes a peak into my quilt room through the glass. I'm working on my crazy quilt block and as you can see,  there is stuff all over the place. I just did not want him to get a needle or pin in his paw. And he did not mind, although it is not quite as good as sitting on Laurence's lap, watching t.v.
The block is coming along. Right now I'm at the place, where it is not fun anymore. The easiest would be to put it all away, but I know from experience that it will change one of these days and the rest will come along just fine.
I do have some ideas of what to do next, but that will not happen till next year.
Last Sunday I found a small parcel in our mail box at church. In it was a short note , a pattern in Dutch and a few typical Dutch hankies. The pattern was of a small kimono, just up my alley. My friend had received it as a gift, but did not speak Dutch, so could not interpret the instructions, which were not all that good anyway. It will make a nice quick project at some point.
The same day Jenny and Tony were here and they came with a parcel from Japan. They had placed an order for me, since I don’t have PayPal, for a sashiko book and some wrapping cloths. I'm planning to make small quilts with these cloths, using selvages and sashiko. And this also will happen some time in the future.
Grandma is slowly getting used to her new place. We had to clean out her room in the retirement home as quickly as possible and all those things are in our garage, waiting for me or her to go through.
I hope to have her here for lunch on a regular basis and then she can decide what has to be done to her things.
Our harvest has been over for a few weeks now. All Laurence has to do is combine for one more neighbour.Then all the equipment can be washed and put away.

Friday, October 28, 2011

First frost

It has been a while, but a lot has happened here in the last days.
A week ago Monday I drove to Buckhorn, which was easier than I expected. On Tuesday, I taught a workshop in a recently remodelled hall with lots of room and great light. 20 ladies wanted to know more about making a crazy quilt block. With this workshop I ask everybody to make a block (I supply a pattern, but they can make whatever they like) beforehand. The first thing we do is look at all the different blocks. It is great to see the huge differences, from real wild colors to muted, very co-ordinated blocks. 
What made it also great was all the room we had. You know, that anything to do with crazy quilting means a lot of "things" to bring. The tables were full to overflowing with "stuff"!
On Wednesday morning I gave my trunkshow. This guild has it made with a restaurant right beside the church where they have their meeting. After lunch I drove home in the rain, where Laurence was waiting for me. He had 3 days with no combining, but things were starting to get better. By Thursday afternoon he was back combining and since then we had good weather. One more week should do it. We did have our first frost. Most of the flowers are gone, but I still can find the odd rose, including this pale yellow one.
As I wrote before my mother-in-law has been in the hospital for a month now. She fell in her room and ended up in the hospital with 2 broken ribs. After a week she fell again.
By that time we all decided, that she needed more care and she was put on a waiting list for a bed in a nursing home. The Powers That Be tried to find her extra help, so that in the meantime she could go back to her room in the retirement home to wait for a bed, but all the work was for nothing. I have to say, that she is getting excellent care at the hospital, but it is not a nice place to be, if you don't really need all that care.
Then we got a call yesterday, that a bed was available right in the same home, where she was on the retirement side. It was not exactly what she wanted and she had only one day to make up her mind. Her other option was to stay in the hospital till something more suitable came up.It was very hard on all of us to help grandma to make a decision. But by this afternoon she has decided to go ahead and move on Friday. I will help her with moving the few things she can take along and the rest will be stored here till she, hopefully soon, gets in a bigger room.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Rain, rain go away

Remember last week? I talked about the wonderful weather we were having -- how fast things can change! It has been nothing but rain since. The equipment has been repaired, greased, oiled and fueled up, but there is no place to go. Laurence is getting just a little antsy. We have been farming a long time and we have been here before, but the waiting never gets any easier. And the forecast is not looking much better.
Here at home, things are about the same. Laurence's mom is still in the hospital. She fell again, but she only had a few bruises. Right now she is doing well and some changes have to be made. We try and visit her each day and keep her spirits up.
Next week I will be in Buckhorn, where I will be giving a trunk show and a workshop.  We will be doing some crazy quilting. For that workshop I like to have a sample handy. A few weeks ago I showed you the beginning of a new block (see the top picture). Since then I have been adding some ribbons and laces. I guess if you wanted to be really "crazy" you would work at it more randomly, but I like to have some control. That's why I add the ribbons and laces later. I sew them on with some big stitches, since later on I will follow with embroidery or beads. For the lace ends I will open the seam allowance and tuck them under that or I will double the ends, whatever works.
Finally I have used all the lace pieces I got from my friend Janet in England. Thanks Janet, I loved to work with them. I was very stingy, but the box is empty. For the next round I will start with the beading and the embroidery. This I will do from the center out. That way it will get less wrinkly. The final round will have all the little extras like buttons, pins and whatever else I can find. Remember this was only a sample piece! Well while working on this you have lots of time to think and wouldn't it be nice to continue with a border with embroidered flowers, next a crazy quilted border and then a border to pull it all together. Have to give it some more thought!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

What a week!

What a glorious week we just had. By last week Wednesday we could start with the harvest and the weather was good till today. By now the white beans and soybeans have all been combined, except for one farm a distance from here -- and all the winter wheat has been planted. The next job on Laurence's list is checking the combine. They ran into a few smaller problems yesterday, but with the coming days being rainy he has time to fix whatever is needed.
This last weekend we celebrated Thanksgiving here in Canada. Jenny and Tony arrived early Saturday afternoon with their bikes. They went for a few long rides and enjoyed every minute of it. On Sunday we had our Thanksgiving meal and we missed grandma: she is still in the hospital. Though she is feeling much better, she decided that she was not up to coming to our place. Instead we visited her later on in the afternoon and brought her a few treats.
Shawn and Emily brought their bassett hound, Abner. The two of them left in the midafternoon for the tractor pull at the Simcoe Fair, and we were to watch Abner.
Bernie could not appreciate another dog and there were a few instances where it was hard to keep the peace between the two of them. Here is Jenny showing off my latest pair of socks, while keeping the peace between the dogs. The pattern is by Cookie A and I forget where the yarn came from.
It was a nice pattern to knit. By now I have enough socks for a while and I have started the knit a pair of Norwegian mittens. Yes, I know it is not winter yet, but I like to be prepared. Jenny just happened to have a book and some of the right yarn. With us being so busy with the harvest I just don't feel like starting another big quilting project. These mitts should not take long, but they are fussy.
Tomorrow I will get a few pictures printed for my next project. So once the fall work is behind us, there will be no more excuses. I did some clean-up work in the flower beds, but a lot of plants are still blooming. These roses I took to grandma yesterday and there are many more. I did take most of my orchids inside. And almost all have survived their stay outside. Most did very well and I can see flower stalks on a lot.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Canadian Food Grains Bank

What do you get ,when you have over 120 combines in a 160 acre soybean field? Besides a lot of noise and a lot of dust flying around, after 11 minutes and 43 59/100 seconds, you get a new world record! All the proceeds from the combined beans will go to the Canadian Food Grains Bank and the government will match this money 4 times.
The Canadian Food Grains Bank was formed by a group of churches and as the name implies, tries to help get food to people in need. The first we heard about this plan was in the winter: by then, everything had been donated, from land, to seed and fertilizer. Later came the call for combines. I was after Laurence to go, but he figured that our combine would not be big enough. The big day was last Friday, but it was rained out. The second try came on Monday, again a rainy day, but today was just perfect.  We had seen a few combines go past here and we are about 40 km from Moncton. Shawn was there with one of the dealership combines and so was his father -in-law with his combine. But Shawn did not get to drive and so watched it with us.
Once I looked at the pictures at home I noticed him on the right of the first picture. By 1:30 it was time to go and it was something to see. The combines started from both sides, one with 65 and the other with 55 and they met in the middle, where an area had been combined before.  A big worry would be any machines that quit for whatever reason, and there were some that could not keep up.
As the combines came closer, so came the dust. But after 11:43:59 minutes the horn went and it was all over.  Or really it just started, because all these beans had to be sold by auction!
We went home soon after, but Shawn phoned just now and we heard, that the first 10 bags of beans sold for $1000 each and were donated back and then resold for the same amount. We will have to wait for the final tally for a while. And you cannot have a farmer do without food. I do not know, how they did it. This all happened way back in a field with no hydro in sight. There was one tent, where you could buy beef or pork on a bun, all donated and ice cream, coffee and apples. All they asked for was a donation. And there were hundreds of people.
On the home front things are not going as well. Last Thursday night we got a call from the hospital. My mother-in-law had fallen and was taken to the hospital: she had 2 broken ribs and she is still in the hospital and she is in a lot of pain.
Today we had great weather and we hope to start with the harvest tomorrow. So we keep our fingers crossed and hope for a lot of sunshine in the coming weeks.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sniffles and sneezes

By Friday afternoon last week, everything was packed and I was ready to go to the Heart and Hand Festival. It was a wet outside, not looking promising for the next day. I knew that a lot of the people would be outside. But by Saturday morning it looked totally different. I left around 7:30 with my camera, and it was very hard to keep on driving: it was one of the days with a ground mist, perfect for taking pictures!
I was good though and arrived at the Schneider House nicely in time for the set-up. The day before, I was asked to bring a few larger quilts – dowels would be provided, along with screws and a tall girl with a drill. One minute tops, and a quilt was hung! 
I did manage to look around before it all started, but quite a few had not arrived yet. That's what I miss: I love to see what others are doing. By the time my things are back in the car, theirs will be too!
I had a good size area inside where I could show a nice variety. It was a long and tiring day. Before I made it home at 7pm, I took my crazy quilt to another guild member. Our guild show is coming up and that meant one less trip to Kitchener.
At left is a block I made for a quilt that will be put together for the Mennonite Relief Sale next year. I received the pale yellow and pale purple fabrics and was asked to make a 9 inch block, on point, with flowers. I had started it at home and worked on it, while at the Schneider House. It was a perfect take-along project.
Jenny and Tony came for Sunday dinner. They had to go for business up north and we were asked to look after Bernie, the Bernese. By early evening I started to get a sore throat and by Monday morning I had it all: sore throat, cough, runny nose and whatnot. Now my mother -in-law had the same early last week, so it was not that surprising. Needless to say the last few days have been very unproductive.
I did finish the block. The tulips and the inner heart have trapunto behind the applique and all the pieces are highlighted with a black stem stitch done with perl cotton. With my gucky eyes it was hard to see, but I think it turned out presentable.
Back to the guild show. The Waterloo County Quilters Guild has their bi-annual quilt show at the RIM Park in Waterloo on Friday September 30th and Saturday October 1st from 10am till 6pm. There will be lots of quilts, merchants and a tea room.
We are ready for the harvest to start, but we are still waiting for the beans to dry down some more. Most of the rain went past us, but there is lots of moisture in the air. And it does not look very promising for the next few days. Better keep our fingers crossed!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Heart and Hand Festival

A few days ago, I received a call from Susan Burke, the curator for the Joseph Schneider House. On September 24, there will be a craft festival at the museum and they wanted a quilter. She wondered if I would be interested. Since it is only one day I thought it might be nice to go and see all the other crafts. I would have to bring some quilts and have something to demonstrate. The house is from the mid 185o's and that made me think that a crazy quilt might just do it.
After finishing the last crazy quilt project I made myself a promise to stay away from it for a while, but what harm would it be to just make one block? So out came the stuff! I always like something in the center that stands out. I have done embroidery and pictures on fabric, but this time I wanted to use one of the transfers I bought a few years ago. I had tried a transfer once and it had not worked out. This time I was very careful and did everything according to the instruction sheet. And it worked great!
As you can see it will be another horsey block. I have enough odds and ends to make it work. I will not be able to take all my "junk" with me next Saturday, so I cut out already some ribbon. Later in October I will teach a workshop making a crazy quilt block at Buckhorn, and this same block will come handy for that. Now back to an oldie. This wall hanging was made about 10 years ago. I had ordered a lot of different colors of 1-1/2 inch shaded wired ribbon; some I had used for other projects, but there was still a lot left -- enough to make this quilt. The bushel basket and leaves are hand appliqued. The flowers are all made with the ribbon, but they are twisted and sewn different ways. The centers are either made with lots of small beads or French knots.
I made these centers with black fabric in a hoop. When done I would cut it out with a seam allowance, which would be folded around a few pieces of quilt batting and sewn down with big stitches. The last step would be to sew it in the center of the flowers. That gives it a somewhat puffy look.All the beading was a lot of work, but very relaxing. The border was done with reverse applique. I had another border first, but it just did not do it for me. Finally I ripped it out and did it this way. And it does look much better.
It might be a week and a half before you will hear from me again. Next week will be very busy: first my trip to the Trent Valley Quilters Guild, then our monthly guild meeting, then we have to get the barn ready for the chicks we are getting on Friday (yes I do have to do some work around here!), then Saturday to the museum. Sunday we can expect Jenny and Tony here for the day.
The harvest is about ready to start. Next week Laurence will start with the white beans and that will be followed by the soybeans and then the corn. All we need is some good weather!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


It has taken me a while to get this done, but we have had some problems with our Internet connection. Let's hope it will work today.
This is the week of the Outdoor Farm Show near Woodstock, a sure sign that fall has started. We went yesterday early and it was a great day with beautiful weather. We saw all the new and ever bigger equipment, and with the ever bigger price tags!
We missed out on the free breakfast this year, thanks to a computer glitch, but we came home with lots of goodies, as you can see on the left. From free bags, hats, toy truck pens, paper and what not. And that’s not counting food and drink: we dined on pie, apples,candies, coffee, juice and water and peanuts. By midmorning wheelbarrows full of peanuts are parked in all the intersections. I guess it is not really free, somehow we will end up paying for it, when we buy our seed or fertilizer.
Now back to quilting. I managed to machine quilt this top and put the binding on. All I have to do is find some way of putting the big coins I got at the Mandarin Restaurant in the center of the flowered blocks. The hole in the middle is square and I'm looking for old buttons with a square shank (I'm not sure that's what you call it) that would fit in the hole.
Then it would work with another button on the back.
The machine quilting was hard on my back and shoulders and I decided that this would be it. It took about 4 days to change my mind.
I appliqued a small landscape last fall and it needed some quilting and then embroidery. One more day and the quilting will be done. And that will be it for now. Last week I had my first trunk show for the Brant County Quilters Guild in St. George. Next week I will be gone a few days to the Trent Valley Quilters Guild for a trunk show and a workshop.
I have had some problems with my foot and at times it was hard to stand for any length of time. I did get new and better sandals and it has improved quite a bit. Now I know, that sandals do not look too classy and I came up with the following, still not classy, but a little different. For my trunk shows and workshops I will be wearing my sandals with socks, that will match my top.
Here, you can see the socks I just finished. The picture turned out a little redder, than the socks are in reality. I'm working on a green set now and I have grey yarn set aside for later. These socks are designed by Cookie A and were fun to knit.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


AS you will have noticed, only the pictures from last week showed up. No matter how much I tried I could not get the rest to show up. Then we left for Jenny's for a few days and when I came home I had 1/2 bushel of tomatoes, peaches and cucumbers to can and pickle. All that is done and now it is back to quilt related activities. This orchid is my latest one to bloom. I received it in early spring from Jenny's mother-in-law. They were moving and she did not have enough room for all her orchids. I put it outside and one day I noticed a flower stem. It took a while, but it is in full bloom now. I will need a card for this coming week-end and I found this one already fused with selvages. On the Internet I found a suitable rose silhouette. I drew it on a piece of fused batik and cut the different pieces out. On the back I put another piece with flowers. Up to now I never had a place to write a short note. Last week I bought some satin ribbon. I also fused that and that will be my place to write a short note. I will have to finish the edges yet. I have been machine quilting and I do like it at all. In one more week I hope to be able to show you the result. Now let's hope Blogger will cooperate!
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Thursday, August 25, 2011

All mixed up

I love my amarillis to bloom during our long and dark winter. Then in the spring I take them outside and once there I hope they will grow bigger bulbs for more flowers in the coming winter. A month ago I noticed a few flower stalks coming out of one of the plants. And right when we celebrated grandma's 90th birthday I had 12 flowers all blooming. The picture here does not do it justice. All I hope now is ,that I still will get some flowers in the winter. Today another oldy. Grandma has 5 children and she promised a quilt for each of them. Since Laurence is the oldest, she started with us. But since I had done some piecing and that is not what she is interested in, she told me, that she would get the fabric, but that I could do the piecing with her help. Now I had done some piecing and with her help the center went together nicely. Then the border. After ripping it out again and again I realized, that if you are told to make a 1/4 inch seam, that's what you have to do. Once I had that in my brain, it was clear sailing. I marked the quilt and then grandma took over with her magic. She is one of the best hand quilters I know. A few years after grandpa and grandma build the house at the corner of the farm,they build on a sun room. It was here that grandma would do her quilting while grandpa would read the paper. and it was here, that our kids would play under the quilt. They loved to across the field for a visit. Now let's hope Blogger will cooperate this time.
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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Back to a quiet house

We have had a few busy weeks with lots of company. Laurence's brother and his wife were the first to arrive -- and see what they ended up helping me with!
I store my large quilts on one of the spare beds and since we were going to have a full house they had to be moved. Just the right time to take some pictures. I never took pictures of my oldest quilts. It all worked out very well. I would take one quilt downstairs, if needed put a temporary sleeve on the back, take the quilt outside and my helpers would hang the quilt on the frame. The weather was perfect, overcast and quiet, except for a few minutes. Right at that time, one of the quilts decided to try out for a flying carpet. No damage done though. Now I have documentation of almost all of my quilts. 
Over the next few days the rest of the family came from B.C, Alberta and Saskatchewan. By Saturday morning the house was more than full. Grandma, the birthday girl, came midmorning and was here till early evening, having a wonderful time with all her children and grandchildren. And this picture just shows that you are never too old to learn something new. Here grandma, 90 years old, is using an IPad for the first time. Jeanette brought her pictures of their holidays to Scotland and grandma spend a long time watching them and figuring out how to use the IPad.
After a wonderful Saturday, we all went to a reunion on Sunday. I had made lots of food beforehand and that came in very handy. By the time the company was gone, the fridge and freezer were getting empty. All in all, a good time! 
Soon after we were married I made my first quilt. After using it for years, it ended up covering one of Laurence's antique John Deere tractors. So no picture of that one. But this was the next one, made in 1974, just before Shawn was born. We had moved back to the dairy farm and with helping with the milking and teaching special ed. I was very busy. But somehow I found the time to make this quilt.
The pattern came from a very old and very small picture I found in one of grandma's very old magazines. Since we did not know if it would be a boy or girl I used both blue and pink. I drew the pattern pieces and did the applique on the machine.  After that grandma put in her magic with her hand quilting. This quilt has seen a lot of use. It was lost for a long time, till I finally found it in the bottom of the cedar chest.
The weather has been good the last few weeks with lots of sunshine and some much needed rain. The wheat harvest is behind us with a very good yield and most of the straw has been baled or sold. We are looking forward to some quiet days on the farm, at least till the white beans are ready. Lots of time to get some projects finished.