Sunday, August 31, 2014

Rainy Sunday

Warm and drizzly this morning on the farm.  The flies are about to pick me up and carry me away.  Need to make more patchouli creme, the best natural defense I have against them.  Forgot to buy fly strips in TS yesterday.  I hate the things and they fill up so fast anyway.  Market day was delightful.  I was able to visit with my friends Susanne Farrington and Candace Cain.  Several people stopped to say they were glad I was there.  One woman came to find colored fiber for making beads.  She said the Mill Artisans store in Sherburne has fiber but some of it did not felt well.  I assured her my Bluefaced Leicester/Rambouillet/Merino fibers would felt very well.  She was thrilled with the colors.  I will not be dyeing fiber on a large scale until my angora goats are clipped in a month or so.  They have three inches on them now but four would be better.  I have to get Big Jim Baldwin over here to shear a dozen or so goats.  I like to do it myself but he makes short work of it which is better for the goats.  I have to get them shorn early enough for them to grow back a decent coat before it gets cold.  The sheep were shorn late, in June, so they are fine for winter.  They already have nice fleeces coming in.  Mohair grows almost twice as fast as wool.  I'll have a lovely yearling clip this year.  On deck for today after morning the Anise soap I made two days ago and set it out to cure.  I'm space challenged for soap curing and will have to be creative.  I have several totes cut out. They were very well received at the market yesterday, but no takers.  That's fine!  I only have ten and need them for fall shows.   I brought home three varieties of tomatoes grown in Hamilton by Joyce Nevison of Hilltop Farm.  I made a huge bowl of salsa last night and we ate it with corn chips for dinner.  One more day of freedom - to work on the farm - before school starts.  Robin stopped by to visit me at the market yesterday.  We will be reunited in the classroom after two years apart.  I adore her.  She is the consummate professional, great with the students, an organizational wizard, tough in the line of fire, and a good friend to me.   Robin knows all my quirks and eccentricities and likes me anyway.  What more could I ask for?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Home on the Farm

Yesterday's lovely cool weather is giving way to warmth and humidity this weekend.  Wish I had more wool to set out and dry but I have so much at the carding mill it will cost me a fortune to get it out of hock.  That's okay, I need it.  Kimmie Cornerstone will have a coronary when she sees it all.  She loves to spin my Mother Fiber.  Celebrating my almost-last-day-of-vacation by staying home on the farm the whole dang day.  What a joy.  I have a large batch of patchouli soap to cut up and put out to cure, and lots of balls of unscented soap to roll.  I have the ingredients to make one more batch and I think that will be almond.  Oh, the joy of it.  Inhaling patchouli and almond in the same day?   There is a pile of totes to sew calling to me by the sewing machine.  Yesterday my plans to get some work done were interrupted by a long overdue trip to the cardiologist in Cooperstown.  Nice lady but she takes so much time with her patients I waited two hours for my turn.  Next time I see her I have the first appointment of her day.  Smart move.  I shudder to think that the best remedy for my particular issue might be giving up COFFEE!  What a cruel twist of fate on one hand, but, on the other hand, how lucky I am that I might benefit from something I can do for myself without even the purchase of a prescription?  More tests to follow....yuck, yuck, yuck.  I'm the healthiest person I know and I want it to stay that way.  As I write I lift up my eyes to see the sheep grazing on the hillside, the ultimate bucolic setting.  Other than a couple of old girls with bad knees everybody looks good.  With Matt still pumping antibiotics into himself  through a pic line for the staph infection he is not much help wrangling sheep and goats with me.  Just changing the sterile dressing took us a half hour last night.  He wraps an ace bandage around that area of his arm to protect the dangling orifice while at work.  Two more weeks of daily injections.  Oh, right, I have to wait for a delivery of meds for him today.  Thank you, teacher bennies.  

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Another Day in Paradise

Monday, Lukie's Birthday, it was real hot with a clear blue sky.  Today is cloudy and cool.  No rain all week.  The clouds parted yesterday afternoon and gave us some blue sky followed by a spectacular "Key West" sunset, with dark streaks over intense pastels.  Gorgeous.  I stepped out of my barn and gasped.  I'm missing Luke and mourning for the little girl Hannah used to be when she liked long lazy summers on the farm, but they are growing up and moving on to new adventures.  Both are starting school today.  Luke will be reconnecting with his buddies.  He loves, loves, loves clothes and will surely have on a snappy outfit.  Hannah will be sporting the vintage red Coach messenger bag I found for her online.  I gave it to her for back-to-school and she loved it instantly - it matches her hair!  On the Family News front - Mia is still acting as Primary Care professional at Care Station, treating the masses who use that medical venue for every ailment under the sun.  She is learning TONS of good information she will take to whatever she decides to do next.  Father Aaron is loving active duty Army life at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma.  He is preaching weekly to an Episcopal congregation made largely up of officers from West Point and foreign soldiers attending a Captain's Artillery Training School.  With a staff of three to help with various programs he has going Father A. is very busy.  Number 1 son, Eric, is happy with the way his programs went at BSA Camp Hinds in Maine.  Annie taught pistol safety courses on the various ranges built by the Army Corps of Engineers Eric brought in to help renovate the camp.  Hannah was on the counselor staff and loved helping the little boys get over their homesickness and get into camp activities.  Maggie is busy working with wool and getting ready for the fall.  I took a walk up top yesterday and gosh, I wish my camera had not decided to die.  The sheep lined up so beautifully a couple of times, asking to be photographed against the breathtaking views.  If only I had not stored the point and shoot in the Cradle of Civilization so often.  The lens is fused and won't be budged.  Second time it's happened.  Will have to break down and get that smart phone to take pictures and keep in touch.  Maybe not so much to keep in touch, although it's good to have some way to call help if I step in a foot deep ground hog hole.  The dogs usually tell me where the holes are as they gather around them and stick their noses in.  Nobody is ever home as the White Boys have taken care of the critters long before.  I follow the sheep trails over the fields.  They know where the holes are and have laid down lovely meandering paths over the hillside....however, they lose all sense while gorging on the lovely, short, sweet grass I was hoping to get a second cut with.   The barn is FULL of hay, so I don't mind.  Better they go into winter nice and fat.  It will be a long wait for spring once the killing frost comes.  The forecast says another long, cold winter.  I don't have a stick of firewood, but I have HAY!  The sheep come first, so that's okay.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Here and Gone

Annie and Hannah came to collect young Luke and take him home.  They arrived in time to celebrate his birthday with home made apple pie.  It had been so long since I made an apple pie I had to look up a pie crust recipe online.  It was okay but tasted more like a cookie than a pie crust.  I used Granny Smith and Golden Delicious apples.  Took a long time to peel but the sheep were very appreciative of the trimmings.  I wish our little party could have been better attended and more festive.  It was quiet and intimate.  We sat outside and watched Luke build the last fire of the summer.  Annie just returned from a big Boy Scout conference in Anaheim, California, the day before she drove to the farm and was rather jet lagged.  Hannah finished her job as camp counselor at Eric's Pine Tree Council BSA camp, Camp Hinds just a few days ago.  We all remarked that summer went way too fast.  I served the big smoked ham and  yellow rice dinner and we sacked out on the sofa to watch the latest Dr. Who which we had recorded for Hannah.  Luke and I snuggled one last night.  I was keenly aware of the fact that snuggling with Luke is less and less enthusiastic with each passing year and now is always initiated by me.  He is on the cusp of manhood and very into acting very "manly."  It may be a few years before he will hug with certainty again without inhibition.  We were all up early for bacon and Swedish pancakes.  The 1980 VW campmobile was packed, motorcycle loaded, and off they went - Annie with a quart of very strong French Roast on board.  It was not too long before the phone rang and I heard the bad news - the VW had lost it's transmission not a mile down the road.  Hannah and Luke hiked back while Annie called the tow truck and rented a one-way-trip car out of Utica.  The camper was towed back to the farm and parked by my pole barn.  I drove them to Utica and said good-bye again.  Luckily I was able to ship a big box of lovely orange BFL to Frankenmuth while I was near Staples.  The second parting was not as painful.  I knew they had to get home and do a day of back-to-school shopping before starting back tomorrow, Thursday.  It's lonely without my side-kick around.  I'm thrilled I had him as long as I did.  Luke kept Matt company during his convalescence, and they were able to make a day trip to Manhattan.  I had him for a week post Summer School.  I had Hannah here for less than 24 hours but at least I was able to see how she blossomed working at the camp.  I'm keeping busy with a trip to the Louis Gale Feed Mill, chores, and cutting out Bundaflicka Knitting Totes.  I'm so far behind with product for shows.  The only thing I will have plenty of is WOOL, and beautiful it will be - once I get it back from the mill.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Trip to Bountiful

We wanted to do something special today as it is Lukie's Birthday Eve and his mother is coming to get him tomorrow night.   Tried to hook up with Shepherd Mary but couldn't make it.  We packed up and drove over to the Button Falls waterfall, the scene of many happy times with just about everybody in my small circle of friends and family.  We hiked down to the floor of the little canyon and quickly noticed the water was high in the creek leading from the falls.  Our excitement built as we waded up the stone floor of the stream and heard the pounding of the water coming closer.  Luke swam in the pool while I marveled at the force of nature that carved out this oasis.  Fortunately he didn't push me too hard to come in the water.  It's not that hot today and I was not anxious to submerge in the icy water.  I watched and took pictures and tried to freeze this moment in time.  We sat and talked a while then made our way back down the rushing stream bed to the trail up the steep hillside.  When we reached the top and the edge of the forest canopy opened up to the warm sun it was quite welcoming.  I asked Luke what he wanted for his Birthday Eve dinner and he thought carefully about it.  Finally he said, "My own bowl of bacon."  I had served the bacon in a bowl the other night and he ate the whole thing.  I said fine, no problem!  Once home I teased up the Shetland I had on the drying rack and turned on the news.  Luke headed for a hot bath tub.  There are always a million things for me to do at home, from toting water to animals, throwing corn out for chickens and ducks, filling cat food bowls, taking dogs out to pee, it goes on and on.  For a few minutes I had complete peace and solitude with my grandson.  Priceless. 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Dear Diary...

It's been too long since I've written.  The days are flying by.  Leaves are changing on the piney ridge getting ready for the explosion of color around my birthday.  The weather is off and on lately.  Luke and I have been staying pretty close to home this last week of freedom from summer school.  I still get up early as I'm used to bombing out of here at seven.  Loving the freedom to do chores in my jammies, sew, spin, play with wool and watch the news.  I've had the dye pots bubbling again, working on a chartreuse mohair/wool run that I'm trying to duplicate from a couple of years ago.  Next to impossible but Kim keeps nagging me about it.  So many variables like the different animals the fiber comes from, amounts of dye I used, what colors, the mordant, etc.  I'll see what I can do.  The other run is some old black wool fleeces I found and am overdyeing them dark purple.  Love to see the porous tips take on the color and any silvery strands become purple.  The black just gets blacker.  I'm blending the black/purple wool with Shetland that comes from Freeville via Carol Schwartzott, my talented designer friend.  She brought several fleeces with her to the Bouckville Festival, with a long staple and nicely picked.  I have one bubbling on
the stove now.  I could hardly fit the whole fleece in my giant pot.  Annie is coming to pick up Lukie on Monday.  Woe is me.  I sure love having him around but he is ready to go home.  School is starting in Maine on the 28th.  I'm lucky I got to keep him as long as I did. What a sturdy, wonderful, talented boy.   I was so sorry the farmer's market was rained out this morning.  He loves the market.  We drove over to Hamilton but I just didn't have it in me to haul all my stuff out in the rain.  Soap and wool don't do well in the drizzle and dampness.  I was eager to put out my latest tote, a paisley bag with a luscious linen lining from my friend Sally Newhart who has the upscale slipcover business in New Orleans.  Not to worry, it will be scooped up somewhere along the line this fall.  Lukie got a hair trimming from some lovely ladies in Hamilton and visited the Broad Street Gallery with me.  I love that place.  I handed in my paperwork and will start teaching knitting for beginners there this fall.  I will use the same curriculum map as I did years ago with kindergarten students - cast on, knit, purl, increase, decrease, cast off, using the German or Continental Method.  That way there is no right or left handedness to worry about.  Kathy Herold is very enthusiastic about introducing more fiber art to the gallery program and wants me to spin on my wheel when I'm doing my gallery work shift once a month.  Sounds like fun to me.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Full Up

Eighty-six round bales in the barn, loaded in by Julia and myself as her husband, Andrew, dropped them off one by one at the hay mow door with a skid steer.  It took three trips by Julia's son, Matt, to bring the bales over from the field on the other side of Edmeston.  Somehow Julia got Clinton Tractor to drop off a skid steer to load the bales up in my barn.  Maybe something to do with the brand new $80,000 tractor she bought from them breaking down had something to do with it.  Nevertheless, around midnight Julia and Andrew showed up to get the bales that lined my driveway and barnyard under cover.  Rain was forecast for early morning and surely enough, it came.  The moon was high and provided us with the light we needed to do the work.  It's a good thing as the barnyard light had been blasted off the door of the hay mow a few years back by lightning.  Lukie lost my only working head light and I had not thought of hanging my sheep show booth lights in the mow while waiting for Julia to come back.  She put her phone on a post to provide us with enough light to get three rows going.  When it went out we did it by feeling our way in the dark.  Some of the bales were so heavy that Julia and I, pushing and heaving could not get them going.  Andrew would get out of the skid steer to help us get some momentum.  As exhausted as we were, going on 1 PM, we laughed and chatted about this and that and got to know each other better.  Julie has a dream, like I do, of making a struggling farm succeed.  She is very motivated to buy more cows, sell more milk, make hay for people, and make a future for her family.  Andrew is very supportive of her and their love for each other showed through the night.  They worked far harder for me than their bill showed.  At 1:30 they walked hand and hand down my lane to their truck to go home and get some rest before Andrew set out to work in the morning.  Julia would be up early to start milking.  I had to get ready for bed and last looked at the clock at 2 am.  I slept the happy sleep of a shepherd knowing I had a barn full of hay for hungry animals through the winter.  I  have good people behind me who are eager to help me when I need them.  I would be up at 6 to be on the road at 7 for work.  It was a bit of a hairy day as I'm used to six or seven hours but I was still high on hay fumes.  I almost paused to wonder if it was all a dream.  When I got home from work Matt and Luke were back from their two day trip to Manhattan to tour with Sean and stay with Mia in New Jersey.  Luke and I played our "round bale games" and ran up and down the rows on top of the bales with the dogs.  It was wonderful to see him playing like a farm boy, jumping and leaping across the bales, and climbing up on the balcony above the bales.  I cooked pork chops, white rice and corn for him tonight and he loved it.  Julia stopped by to pick up her money and looked her typical million bucks.  The farm life works for her, too.  Hay is life and the farm is forever.