Thursday, April 17, 2014

Piggies at Play

Scarlet and Sue Ellen are outside more than in now that the weather has turned for the better.  I knew this would happen.  They are Tamworths, also known as Irish Grazers, and graze they do.  These pigs would rather have roots and grasses than feed.  It is much easier for me to raise pigs in the winter, as I have the perfect long run between the wooden cow stanchions and the wall of the barn.  The girls have been breaking out of their run for some time now, which requires some creativity in getting them back in for feeding.  I prepare the slop and let them see me parading by with the buckets.  They start squealing and snorting among the sheep, and follow me around to the side of the barn where their pen is.  I have to undo the gate which I have tied up with rubber straps to keep them in.  They've broken out way in the back close to the barnyard but cannot get back in on their own.  I pour the slop then prop their gate open while going back to let them out of the sheep pen.  I swing the door open and they trot out, making a bee-line for the slop.  The girls are so big now they will be able to break down any gate they want soon.  It's time to go to Miss Tammy, but that fateful day will have to wait two more weeks until Maryland Sheep and Wool is over.  The trailer to transport them is full of last year's show stuff, which has to be sorted through and organized.  I just can't think about dealing with piggie processing right now.  I'm sure Scarlet and Sue Ellen won't mind.  They are having too much fun.


Walking is my great stress reliever.  I call it my "spa treatment."   I don't take a single pill for any ailment, mental or otherwise, and have to remember to take my multi-vitamin in the morning.  I pride myself on staying healthy and away from doctors.  It's the Scandie in me I think.  I know what I need to do to keep the temple in shape.  The doggies tell me when it's time to get away from the sewing machine and get going.  Cooper runs to the door and barks when it's time for our walk.  The weather is delightful - for me, that is.  Cool and sunny, with little spots of snow on the ground.  Just right for a sweater - wool, of course.  I finished a messenger tote before I got dressed, then off we went for a little walk around the field before chores.  It was just what I needed to perk up and face the rest of the day.  A lone kitty followed us up the hill, one of Lizzy's beautiful calicos.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


Some things I'm thinking about to avoid distress about everything I have to do with limited time.

1.  I'm sitting down for a few minutes looking at the most beautiful hillside view in the whole wide world.
2.  A big white dog is tongue-washing the side of my face as I write.
3.  I'm sewing on luscious fabric that rich people paid hundreds of dollars a yard for, and I have stacks of it.
4.  It's cold and snowy outside but so pretty.  I love winter.
5.  The wood stove is blazing and there's a lovely stack of wood next to it.
6.  I don't have enough space to set out my soap to cure but I'll figure it out.
7.  I decided to ask a couple of people for help wrapping soap so I can do other things.
8.  The piggies are ready to go to Miss Tammy and I'll never have to worry about what's for dinner.
9.  Cyndi Lauper is on the Today Show - I've decided to dye my hair RED, well, maybe not.
10.  Father Aaron is coming to the farm this weekend before he reports to his new duty station in Az.

The snow will melt, the grass will grow, and the sheep will be fat and happy.

Monday, April 14, 2014

If I Make It...

they will come.  Today's tote is lovely.  Could hardly take a photo with the brisk wind that is blowing today. I love this fabric as I am drawn to circles and spirals.  Was I worshiping the sun at Stonehenge in another life?   I have a ton of soap to cut up for curing, which takes all the shelf space I have available.  My living space is covered with piles of beautiful fabrics and baskets of wool.  I'm very much looking forward to building the fiber art studio with adjacent bedroom in the massive space above me.  I will use every inch of it, with my looms, cutting tables and shelves.  I can hold spinning gatherings and family dinners.  Right now, all focus is on Maryland Sheep and Wool, the premier fiber art and wool show on the east coast.  My building was taken over by the fleece sale and I've been moved into the large exhibition hall.  I was not happy about this at first, but I'll enjoy the increased traffic and exposure.  I will have some of the same booth neighbors as I did in the old building.  We are bonded with each other and look forward to catching up every year.  Maryland is a real head trip and the first show of the season.  Back to work...

Lovely Weather

Halfway into April and the weather is more like spring every day.  The hillside has a slight tinge of green and the sheep are straining against the barnyard fence.  Can't let them out until the grass is up a few inches.  They would tear up the tender shoots and turn the hill into mud.  I have two more weeks worth of hay.  I have a couple of local places to try, thanks to a good hay year and people who put some away to sell to people like me who run out.  It's tee-shirt weather in the barn.  Flies are buzzing and I have two ducks sitting on eggs.  The mud/poop in the barn has thawed making chore time very slippery.  Would love to spend a couple of hours shovelling and sweeping every day but I'm very busy getting ready for Maryland Sheep and Wool in two shorts weeks.  Maryland waits for no shepherd.  I love this show and this year both AJ and Mia are coming to help me, along with Kimmie Cornerstone, my faithful fiber art sidekick.   I'm hoping Annie and Hannah can make it, too.  With Boy Scout activities, shooting camp, a cruise I hear they are taking, and Hannah's school, I'm wondering if they can make the trip.   It's so much fun to work all day, then party down at night at the campsite.  I am "off" for spring break which is a bit of a joke but truly a blessing.  I'll derive vicarious pleasure from others taking vacations to the tropics.  My house is covered with fabric, wool, and giant blocks of soap waiting to be cut up and set out to cure.  I love being home to work on product.  The doggies hang on to my every movement until about ten o'clock when they collapse on the sofas.  They are used to me being at school every day and sleeping their time away.  I'm very happy with the way my Bundaflicka Knitting Totes are looking.  I have to bang more nails into the rafters to hang the new bags and bags in progress on.  The ceiling is the only safe place to store them.  I love to sew, and am running my little machine every chance I get, between chores and critter cuddling.  I'm making some familiar totes which are good for people who come by looking for that tote that they wish they bought last year.  I still keep that woman in mind who so wanted a horsey tote, and went to find her husband in the crowd at the Fingerlakes Fiber Festival four years back.  He wouldn't buy it for her and she was sick about it.  With him there I couldn't say here, take it, and send me the money when you can.  A year later she came back to get the tote with the cash in hand.  It was long gone and I didn't have an inch of that fabric left.   That's life.  I'm eating my heart out while looking at pictures of all the lambs and goat kids people are posting.  This is the first year without babies in a dozen for me.  Am hoping to pick up a Wensleydale ram from Ann Meriwether in May.  My plan is to have fewer sheep with more wool.
We'll see how that goes.  I picked a good winter to take off, with many 20 below nights and me at work every day.  I was blessed with a rather healthy winter in spite of the harsh weather.  Not a single cold or tummy flu, just a bit of wackiness with my heart and a ski-knee that is bedeviling me now.  I am paying for all that fun I had tearing down mountains as a young woman.  I don't know what a doctor could do for me and don't trust surgery.  I think I need to do more yoga and reduce the weight on the knee.  The former is much easier than the latter.  Time to feed the piggies, who are so big they are pretty much running the place now.  I can't even think about taking them to visit Miss Tammy until after Md. Sheep and Wool.   Yeah, right, me and what Army?   I have to buy a freezer anyway.  Good excuse for putting off the inevitable...for now

Monday, March 31, 2014

Hay is Life

I almost made it through the whole year....the hay mow is looking very empty these days.  I have enough hay to last through the month of April.  This was the best year I've had with hay since moving here.  No hay, no sheep.  Fingers crossed for next year.

500 pounds of goodness, green and fresh.

The cupboard is bare - where's dinner?

Round bales are layered.  Some farmers unroll the bales on the ground in the pasture for the sheep to eat.  We fork down the hay by sticking the pitchfork in the bale and walking around it.  We pitch it through the hole in the wall to the feeder below.  It's a lot of work but beats picking up heavy square bales and tossing them down which gave me a lot of shoulder trouble.   After a year of using round bales I have full range of motion again.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Water Water Everywhere

Thankful for high ground this morning.  The hillside is almost bare with rain all day yesterday and more wet weather to come.  Beaver Creek will be rushing and roaring across the road.  We will likely have flooding locally and in some of the sending districts to my school including Sherburne, Bainbridge and Sidney.  I lived on the Delaware River for four years - the nightmare years I call it but it gave me the impetus to move up here - and watched the water come up 30 feet over flood stage three times in a year and a half.  Neighbor's homes were ruined and cars floated away.  I was cut off from my sheep and had to drive miles and miles to get across the river to New Jersey and my teaching job.  Before the walkway was closed we would stand on the Riegelsville Bridge - a practice copy of the Brooklyn Bridge built by Alexander Roebling before the big job - and watch refrigerators, propane tanks, and all manner of flotsam and jetsam float down the river to the ocean.  I had two pop-up tents ruined by floods including the one at the Garden State Sheep Breeder's annual show when the whole fairgrounds was wiped out.   I love living on a hillside.  I'm squishy enough for the poo to melt and soak in the ground but nobody is knee deep in mud. The barnyard is on shale with a couple of inches of some incredibly tough grass.  No matter how wet, or how dry, or how many sheep stand on it, I always have a few blades of grass. That shale undercarriage comes with a price.  Digging fence post holes requires powerful machinery I don't own.   The inside of the barn has a hefty hay pack, which would suit a Hobbit or Dwarf better than the 5'3" me, but is perfect for the sheep.  I have to call Rob Wilcox to dig it out and spread the poop on the fields.  Was hoping to get it done last fall but here we are.  Shearing was put off due to extreme cold and now they are in desperate need to be sheared.  It will have to wait until after Md. Sheep and Wool.  I am sewing like crazy in between school, animal chores and marital responsibilities such as cooking and cleaning.  If it was up to me cooking and cleaning would be suspended until the the middle of May.  Wouldn't that be interesting?

Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Color Purple

I adore the color purple.  Happens to be one of my all time favorite movies, too.  I made this tote for myself and carried it all winter, in and out of the truck, tossing it on the floor, under my desk where it's kicked back and forth all day, then dragged up the steps when my arms are about to rip off with groceries, feed bags, etc.  It never shows a ding or a scratch.  No guilt here as this soft-as-buttah fabric is faux leather.  It never walked the earth enjoying God's green grass and sunshine.  I have a limited supply as I bought the six yard piece on line.  I'm offering it now, ahead of Maryland Sheep and Wool, where I'm confident it will fly out of the booth.  At 17 inches high by 22 inches wide it could take you to London for a weekend, or hold a quilt on the way to a guild meeting.  The lovely Gunlocke upholstery lining has six large side-to-side pockets with two inner pockets big enough to hold your electronics or a nightie - whatever you need.  The hand made sheep horn button by Cornerstone Fibres sets off the faux leather nicely with a natural element.   A cedar wood insert supports heavy items.  The Purple Tote is available at

Good news!  This bag is sold!  I have enough purple pleather for one more this size.  Many thanks to my friend in Virginia!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Better Today

I was a bit out of sorts when I got home yesterday.   Preparation for the annual observation took a lot out of me.   Administrators are in and out all year, but this time there has to be paperwork prepared and submitted with standards and incremental plans.  I picked the toughest class to be observed with - not sure why - and told him I could do this because I trusted him.  I haven't always had administrators I could trust.  The glass was always half empty.  With this new guy the glass is always half full.  He promised me if it went south we could do it over again.  Sounded good to me.  My aide cleaned the room so nicely and I even tidied up my desk.  My principal-in-training co-teacher colleague had coached me on how to craft the plan and what to say.  He watched my power-point presentation to make sure it covered my objectives.  Since we teach this class together he would be in the room even though it was my observation.  I knew he would help me if the kids went off.   I had to borrow two more oven racks from the upstairs kitchen so we could cook four pizzas at one time.  I had done big shopping and we had made pizzas with the middle school class the day before to test the method.  The time came and there he was with his Ipad and I started the class.  Sure, there was a kid with chew, and a kid sat on the table, and one kid wanted to go to the men's room.  When I showed the slide of the local pizzeria they yelled HEY!  They sell drugs! and other such nonsense, but all in all, it went as well as can be expected with my student population.  Mercifully, two kids were absent giving us eight young hellians.  Principal left without saying a word.  He had interjected some thoughts while the class was going on, mostly about his own Italian family and how they made pizza.  I had a feeling he would relate to the lesson.  Will it help me?  I'll find out on Friday.  I went home exhausted and fell asleep in the car after I turned off the key.  Their was nothing to cook for dinner and yesterday's dishes were in the sink.  Ugh.  I'm sewing every chance I get, but spouse can't stand the sound of the machine and forbids me to sew after ten.  That's when I get started.  It's cold out there now, and the wind is awful.  Had a terrible time getting the stove started when I got home.  Once I got it going a back puff filled the room with smoke and blew out the little fire.  Got it going again and saw a pig running around outside.  It was Scarlett who had wiggled out of the barnyard and couldn't get back in.  Thor guards the other door to the barn and I suspect he wasn't inviting her inside.  I got suited up and made the slop buckets.  Had to let Thor go so I could get her back in.  She came right along and went back in her pen.  Sue Ellen was in with the sheep so I had to maneuver her back in, too.  Nothing is simple.   Went in to get the dogs out to pee but couldn't let Finn come with us or he and Thor would patrol the farm, only it's not 350 acres any more.  Everybody has to go in shifts.  Finally I'm inside and I'm going to sew for a couple of hours before spouse gets home and wants his hot meal.  Oh, it's a little earlier today due to a water problem at school.  The water pressure dropped and toilets couldn't flush.  They got the kids out and sent us home at 1:30.  What bliss!  I could get used to this!!