Tuesday, September 29, 2015


  I counted four mother hens with newborn chicks following them around.    The moms find places to hide their nests where I can't find them and pull the eggs.  One hen hatched eight chicks on top of a rabbit cage.  Luckily I heard them peeping and got all of them down safely.  I've put them all in cages in the past but truth be told the moms do better on their own free ranging.  They teach the babies how to forage and periodically tuck them all under their wings to warm them.  Warmth has not been a problem lately as it's been hot and dry.  It rained all day today and will be wet all week.  I suspect  the mother hens have all their little ones inside.  It's a miracle my cats have not consumed the tiny chicken nuggets.   The bantam moms are fiercely protective and launch attacks into the cat's faces if they come too close.  

Monday, September 28, 2015

On the Wheel

I'm spinning lovely orange - yello - bronze 100% mohair and loving it.  This fiber reminds me of why I keep angora goats.  I love the slip and luster.  I usually blend wool with mohair but for some reason I didn't this time.  Now I'm glad I left it alone as it's heavenly.  I will probably knit socks with this yarn.  When you use mohair in sock yarn your heels will never wear out.  Commercial companies put nylon in their socks but no need here.  I have plenty of mohair and the goaties keep making more for me.

Out to Graze

The grass is getting a little thin on the hillside.  We've had days and days with no real rain.  It's not as bad as some years past when the hill was dusty and rocky.  There are thick patches here and there but sheep are creatures of habit.  When I open the gate they run up the hill as far as they can go to the tippy top where the pond is.  It's getting thin up there, too.  I've been putting out hay on the days when I can't let them out but sheep dearly love green grass.  Rain is expected over the next several days and it will be a blessing.  The less hay I feed them now the more I will have next April when I really need it.  I have 110 round bales stored away, a record for me.  Last year I had around 55 and that was not enough.  You don't want to be scrambling for hay in April when all the other losers who ran out are looking, too.  That was me last year.  I like fat and happy sheep.

Bag Lady

My newest Bag Lady went home with this lovely Bundaflicka tote on Saturday.  I love my bag ladies.  I wanted to keep this bag for myself but when she fell in love with it I couldn't say no.  The massive hay bill hanging over my head was a factor, I confess.  I found this luxurious tapestry chenille on line and this bag is the last of it.  


Doreen and Delphine came home to the farm yesterday.  Matt picked them up in Long Eddy, New York.  The girls are purebred Tamworths, also known as "Irish Grazers" for their ability to forage with their long snouts.  My Scarlett and Sue Ellen were Tamworths. Fabulous pigs.  I'm so happy to have new piggies in the barn.  

Friday, September 25, 2015

Fingerlakes 2015

The Fingerlakes Fiber Festival this year was absolutely wonderful.  I drove the 200 miles west to the little town of Hemlock, an hour south of Rochester, in lovely weather.   Kim was waiting with sushi from Trader Joes and we ate dinner while setting up in my new space.  This year's roving runs are gorgeous and well received.  My Yarn Pockets are a success, which is a real treat for me as they are easy to sew and a great way to use smaller pieces of fabric.  I had requests to make them to match the Bundaflicka Knitting totes, a smart idea.  Warm weather continued through the day until a storm blew in.  We attended the pot luck supper with local shepherds and fiber artists while torrential rain and wind pounded the pole barn.  I was relieved to be in the big strong new building with a concrete floor instead of a flimsy pop-up tent.  We worshiped in the same pole barn on Sunday morning with Reverend Adams leading the small group.  Sunday weather was cooler and delightful.  I came home with zippers and goodies from another bag artist, and a sack full of Cushings Dyes which I'm anxious to use.  I had so much fun hanging with the Fiber People who are so talented and inspiring.  Lisa Merian and Candace Cain, local shepherd friends, were there, too.  We had a chance to catch up on a million things not possible when we are all working at home.   Carol Schwartzott was absent and sorely missed.  She's "retired" from fiber art, if that's possible.  I'm lucky to have some of her exquisitely lovely creations, which will live on forever.


My orchard is giving me an abundance of apples.  Trouble is, they don't want to come down.  I have to knock them down as best I can with my shepherd's crook.  I hook the branches with the curved part of the crook and shake them hard with some success.  I risk being knocked on the head but that's okay.  The sheep and goats often stand around, waiting for their delicious apple snacks.  I can't reach the top branches and the apples often rot on the tree before a fierce wind comes along and helps me out.  Large orchards have machines that shake the apples loose.  If the old Dodge Ram truck was running I could back it up to the trees and stand in the bed.  I love this orchard which dates back a hundred years or more.  If I had money to burn I would hire my Amish neighbors to trim the trees back and really get it going again.  The trees are so thick that light doesn't get to the inner trees and apples don't grow.  The darkness inside the orchard is mysterious and inviting.  The sheep love it. 

Tote Season

Winter is coming and knitters are thinking about cold weather projects.  Teachers are back in school and they are the ultimate Bag Ladies.   Weekend travelers need a carry-on bag for their jackets, computers and passports.  Retirees are considering taking the ocean cruise they always dreamed of. Bundaflicka Knitting Totes are perfect for everyone on the go.  For me, it is truly a blessing to create something so lovely and functional.  

Wednesday, September 09, 2015


Three weeks off after summer school went like a flash.  Lying in after the alarm was too good to be true.  I got up anyway to make coffee but took it to the sofa.  I did chores in my jammies and sewed to my hearts content.  Here we are back to school already with so much to do before winter hits.  The barn is full of round bales - over a hundred, which is more than I've ever had on this farm.  It was a tough hay year with so much rain this spring.  We have not had rain in many days but the hillside is still green.  Coco is giving me three gallons a day.  I think she could give me more but that's about all I can squeeze out before she finishes her half a bucket of grain and walks away.  Blackie and Rocky are thriving on lush green grass and Coco milk.  We'll be bringing them all in the big barn when the bad weather hits.  Once the snow starts in December it will be difficult to carry feed and water to them on the lower field by the tractor shed.  The slope turns to ice and I don't want to chance it.  It will be easier for me to milk her morning and night if she's closer.  I think her insemination took and we will be blessed with a calf in April.  The vet looked her over when he was out giving rabies shots.  He thinks she should deliver with no trouble.  Won't it be fun to find a little baby cow beside her one cool spring morning.  We sheared 34 lambs three weeks ago.  I was relieved to find all 34 lambs accounted for.  With my rough land and coyotes up on the piney ridge well, things happen.  The Wensleydale/Bluefaced Leicester wool is lovely.  The lambs are robust and growing nicely.  I have two young Nubian does who are so beautiful I can't stand to part with them.  I'll find homes for the bucklings.  Coco is so easy to milk I confess I wince at the thought of Fancy and Matilda freshening again.  They are she-bitches from hell to milk.  Coco just stands there and let's me take what I need (as long as the feed holds out).  Colorscape Chenango is happening this weekend with the Fingerlakes Fiber Festival following the next weekend.  I'm working very hard to get ready for them.  Spouse is away teaching energy efficiency at a community college in Buffalo all next week.  Don't know how I will rest from Colorscape, go to work every day, get ready for Fingerlakes, and do all the chores/milking.  If I ever really thought it through I would probably give up....but it's just so much fun.  

Friday, August 14, 2015

Still Kicking

Yes, I'm still here.
Today I finished six weeks of Special Ed. Summer School.  I have three short weeks to do all the things I should have been doing for my farm and to get ready for fall sheep festivals.
Next weekend Jim Baldwin is coming and we'll shear the 34 lambs born in the coldest of coldest winters in my life anywhere.  They are beautiful and I'm anxious to play with their gifts.  There is a surprise lamb who appeared one day along side her mother last month.  I call her Summer, of course.  She is delightful.  What a difference to have a lamb born in beautiful, warm weather.  The Parkinsons are coming to help shear.  Worming and vaccinations have to be done.  The rams and goat bucks have to go into their pen behind the barn.  It's smaller but they have a silo room to bed down in and a lovely view of the piney ridge.   I don't want any February/March births this winter!   I have to get this done before school starts again and the weather turns.  There is so much to tell but it will have to come in short bursts.  I own a cow and her name is Coco. Long story I will tell sometime soon.  She came with two baby bulls who are the cutest things you've ever seen.  So now I am a dairy woman, milking by hand twice a day - 6 am and 6 pm.  I love the milk and make yogurt and mozzarella with it.   Hard cheese is next.  I'm tied to the farm more than ever, if that is possible.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015


I am living in the land of extremes.  Last week my little thermometer read 28 F. when I got up in the morning.  Yesterday we hit a record high of 90 F.  The bunnies have a fan on them.  The sheep are panting.   I am desperate to get the wool off them.  Big Jim Baldwin is coming on Sunday and I'm trying to round up some help.  Never have enough boots on the ground.  He's squeezing me in on a Sunday, which he ordinarily never works, because he knows how anxious I am to salvage some wool.   Some of the fleeces are too far gone to save.  Lambing took a toll on the wool.  They put everything into growing the babies.  I'm comforted by the fact that I have a box car full of lambs, 34 to be exact, to grow wool for fall shearing.  Everybody is thriving on the lush green grass the rain and warm temps have given us.  I'm thrilled with the way these Wensleydale/Bluefaced Leicester lambs are turning out.  They are tall and sturdy with thick coats.  It's hard to tell just how the wool will turn out.  I'm hoping for some lustrous curls.  The Nubian goat kids are absolutely gorgeous.  They leap around gracefully in their own ballet troupe.  I'm hoping for some goat milk but the Nubian moms are not anxious to share.  I'm letting the babies have their fill for now.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Maryland Sheep and Wool 2015

I'm back from a Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival that went so smoothly and nicely I can scarcely believe it.   Funny how the harder I work the better the outcome of the festival.  I've never worked so hard in my life, between the farm and supporting the farm, but it was all worthwhile.  What I didn't move in Maryland I can take to the farmer's market.  My corner space in the Main Exhibition Hall continues to be a blessing I didn't ask for.  I was moved there after the fleece sale moved into my old building.  I love the natural light from outside and the extra space an end booth enjoys.  I won't get too cozy as Md. Sheep and Wool tends to move people around.  The weather was perfect - cool and breezy - for sheep and humans.  I could walk around at night and touch noses with the sheep in their stalls.  Kim booked us a spot at the Shepherd's Feast Saturday night and the Shepherd's Breakfast Sunday morning so we didn't have to leave the grounds at all.    We slept on Kim's air mattress in the back of my Honda van, warm as toast in Canadian Army sleeping bags.  After months of sleep deprivation due to lambing and "making stuff" late into the night I got a record nine hours of shut eye Friday night.  Saturday night not so much as my eyes popped open at 4 am.  I should have taken two of Kim's allergy pills instead of one.  Some positive points...

1.  I sold my first Bundaflicka Knitting Tote to Kevin Potter, a shepherd from Lexington, Virginia, and a direct descendant of Beatrix Potter.  It was the Goofy Bird design I lined with Gunlocke office furniture fabric I picked up at the Hemlock festival last fall.  I had five totes made of that fabric and I sold them all, including one special order.

2.  Tote sales were steady and incredibly gratifying, considering the festival was vast and full of totes.  Most customers came back after looking them over then checking out the rest of the show.  One woman bought a tote then came back the next day to pick up another one.  I love my bag ladies.  They keep me sewing, and sewing and sewing.

3.  My new Shepherd's Friend Lip Balm proved to be a good idea.  People didn't balk at the $5.  I had a question I couldn't answer about SPF but told them the beeswax would help protect their lips.  I hope that's true.  Why wouldn't it be?

4.  My Goat Milk Soap was a big success.  I sold out of Peppermint and my Chocolate Espresso was a big hit.  Several people said my soap smells the best of any at the festival.  I was glad to hear that as I spend a fortune on essential oils and keep the soap in closed boxes.  I don't know anyone who wraps all their soaps in quilt fabric like I do, a nice touch that keeps the bars from getting nicked and holds the fragrance in.

5.  The Shepherd's Friend Hand Creme was very well received, with most anybody who tried some in the tester leaving the booth with a jar or two or three.  The macadamia nut oil was a brilliant addition to the creme.  The owner of Columbus Foods, Mike Lawson, suggested it when I balked at the price increase in jojoba oil due to a crop failure in Venezuela.  The macadamia nut oil soaks into the skin so nicely and the price is much easier on the pocket book.

6.  I hired two Boy Scouts to help us pack up at the end of the show, saving many little trips back and forth to the van.  I hope they are around next year.  They made short work of it and we were on the road much sooner.

Some not so positive points...

1.  My yarn was a bust.  No interest in the hand spun basket at all, and only a skein or two of the mill spun left the booth.  Sadly, I don't think most people care where their yarn comes from.  So many vendors buy white wool skeins, dye them and think it's a big deal.  Not so much support for the small hard working shepherd who sits up nights in a cold barn waiting for lambs to be born.  Most commercial yarn comes from "dead wool" that was shorn from sheep killed for meat.  I remember when Linda Cortright of Wild Fibers Magazine told me about that.  She visited a processing facility where the dead wool pile was huge and the live wool pile very small.  When you buy commercial yarn you might be supporting the worst kind of cruelty without knowing it.  There were other small flock shepherds at the show and the ones I spoke to were disappointed as well.  There is the yin and the yang of the fiber art business.  Kim sold a couple of skeins of hand spun wool and angora.  She had a good point - our hand spun baskets are a protest against a world full of commercialism.  I like that.

All in all I think it was a fabulous Maryland year.  I spent time with so many good friends I hardly ever see, like Lisa Merian, Candace Cain, Joanie Schneiber, Piroska Toth, Denise Wilkinson, Kathy Davidson, Lisa Hughes,and others.  I was visited by a group of Tasmanian shepherds and a Congressional Representative from Texas.  My critters were thrilled to see me home, even Coco the cow was bellowing her welcome, standing under the moon in the driveway.  I milked her the next morning and gave her an extra scoop of dairy feed in the mash.  The grass is growing finally and the lambs are thriving.  I'm happy I can provide for them with my skills and energy.   Life on the farm goes on.