Friday, August 05, 2005

To the Vav Stuga

What in the world is a Vav Stuga? It is a Swedish community weaving center. Becky runs one in Massachusetts and my friend Jan and I are going for a week of intensive weaving instruction. I bought a beautiful Glimakra floor loom a couple of years ago and don't even know how to warp it. I hope to set up at the new farm and weave some of my courser mohair and wool into rugs. I have never had a room big enough to dedicate to a huge loom, but with my studio in the hay mow that we are planning to build this fantasy is much closer to reality. Picture me and my loom, dogs all around me, wood stove burning, blizzard howling outside, critters below me in the barn, safe and sound, warming each other with their radiating heat. I like to think my Swedish grandmother wove on a loom like mine back in Sweden on their little farm.
I am much more a spinner and knitter, but the loom is calling me.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Spent the night on Maggie's Farm

Well, we signed the papers and hauled our little trailer to the new farm to set up housekeeping for the weekend. I walked my land and found bunny holes, an old apple orchard I will try to restart, and a lovely little pond with frogs chirping and dragon flies dancing. It was all so surreal and sublime. We got the trailer situated and decided against a fire, as the field was so dry and we didn't have a hose hooked up. We lit a half dozen of my soy candles and settled in for the night. I think I might have heard two cars on the road all night long, and two the next morning. It was quiet with gentle breezes blowing. We ate breakfast at the Beaver Dam Diner, a mile from my farm.

We packed up to go home, leaving the future home to the barn swallows and bunnies. Much work to be done...

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Save the pond!

The pond at the front of my property is being expanded to accomodate run off from the 8 more houses they are squeezing into what once was a beautiful farm. I live in an 1836 barn that belonged to the original homestead. This new subdivision was instrumental in my push to get out to the way back yonder and buy my own farm, which I close on this Saturday. BUT I still have an emotional attachment to the little pond and its inhabitants. I had hoped the developer would expand the pond in such a way as to save the fish, frogs and turtles. I awoke yesterday to hear a pump draining the pond in the broiling sun. I called the township, the owner of the pond, no results, just permission to "save all the frogs I wanted." Not good enough... I called the newspaper! A wonderful young reporter came right out and interviewed me as we stood next to the pond, now down to one foot. She got on the phone to the township and the developer. Then she called last night to say she was writing up the story. This morning the pump is gone! I still have my boots and buckets ready...I kept telling everyone that this pond is a living, breathing, viable entity and can't be killed. Yes, the DEP had come to inspect it prior to the developer coming in, but they determined that since it is not a stream it is not worthy of protection! BUT I is fed by underground streams!

I am sitting on pins and needles, waiting for a knock on the door from the irate developer. I am ready...

In the meantime...the pile of fleeces I should be washing is staring me in the face. I did get two new tote bags completed last night. I always hang them on the stone fireplace when I am finished. There are four there now and need to be many more hanging on the fireplace before the fall shows start. I better get to it.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Housework, what's that?

I don't have a dishwasher, so when the dishes pile up it is a big deal to wash. I have to take piles out of the sink and sit them on the floor so I have room to wash. Then I have to wash in stages because the dish drainer fills up. It took two hours today. Two hours I could have been plying my newest roving, a wool, alpaca, mohair and angora mix. Ohhh did it come out nice. I am anxious to felt some of it...all kinds of ideas keep floating in and out about felted purses, vests, etc. And all that luscious new fabric I bought for tote bags. Garden State Sheep Breeders show is coming up soon, Sept. 17 and 18. Then Vermont, then Rhinebeck, my favorite show. I don't know, Vermont is wonderful, too, and smaller - more time to chat with farmer/vendors like me.

Time to get to work...110 on the kitchen thermometer on the shady side of the house...I better get some fiber off the outside bunnies. I have fans on them 24 hrs. a day and they are in the shade but it's still too hot for coats on. Too hot for dye pots, too, but maybe at night...

Time in the field...

I love my time with the sheep and goats in the evening. No matter how hot it is or how agitated I am from a frustrating day at work, the flock calms me down. It is my favorite time of the day. Sheep love a predictable routine. When it is time for me to come they gather by the gate and wait patiently. I get the feed out then let them in the pen. Getting them in to feed at night lets me look them over and if I need to doctor anyone or give shots they are much easier to catch. It still turns out to be a bit of a rodeo...thank goodess for my "cowboy" husband. Without him I would need a couple of working dogs and a chute leading to a shearing stand. Who knows if that would even work out. I let the sheep go, let the goats go, and watch them go back to the field. There is something so beautiful, timeless and magical about them walking in line, or groups, to the stream or to the rosebushes that line the stream. Then it is back to the lean-tos close to the road for the night. When we move to the new farm I will be able to lock them in at night or in bad weather...saving this shepherd a lot of worry.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Sheep are hot and so is the shepherd...

Whew it's hot...Matt and his crew are restoring an historic house on the river. I don't know how they can keep from jumping in it.

The new farm is in a very windy area. Great in the summer but the winters should be tough. I will continue to shear late, I think, just before lambing which I like to be in the beginning of May. The grass is coming out and the fly season has not started yet.

Better get the soap pots bubbling...

Visit to Maggie's new farm...

We went up to the new farm on Saturday to measure for new windows and explore the lay of the land. Full summer reigns in the valley. We went up the road past the farm and found the town of Brookfield, a teeny tiny hokey pokey hardly a town. Fine with me. In the three days I have been on the farm I only saw two cars go by. We happened on a yearly local event, "Mule Days" at the county fairgrounds in Brookfield. I didn't know black and white spotted mules existed. There were all colors and sizes of mules being put through their paces in the show ring. I adore mules and would love to own one someday to ride around the farm, so I made some good connections.

We met the Sisters who grew up on the farm, started by their Lituanian parents 65 years ago. What a blessing to have them next door. They gave us all the lowdown on when the barn was added on to, what problems to watch out for. They told us they had been praying for nice people who do not hunt to buy the property...that's us! Their brother took over raising Holsteins from their parents but fell on hard times and had to sell. We are the third owners of a small section of what was once 230 acres. Wish I had gotten there sooner, but have to keep telling myself to be happy with what we have, the heart of the farm...the beautiful barn.

Back to Pa. to take care of the critters and get organized. Have to get grain today. I am still buying in bags but on the new farm I will have it delivered in bulk and blown into the grain room where I can shovel it out with a wheelbarrow. We gave the llamas and lambs shots yesterday. Oh, how much easier it will be when I can get them corralled in the barn and seperate the ones with problems, etc. I am tired of doing everything slip shod and in the weather. Oh, Lord, thank you for my barn.

Life on Maggie's Farm

Life on Maggie's Farm

Friday, July 22, 2005

I bought a big, white truck!

I bought a pick up truck last night...didn't seem right buying a F150 when gas prices are skyrocketing but have to haul a LOT of stuff to the new farm upstate. I need an F250 but I'm scared of the prices going higher. A diesel truck was 10,ooo $ more...couldn't do it. Found a livestock hauler for the sheep and goats...he can take 100 plus animals in one trip.

Spending all this money makes me want to sit down and sew, sew, sew, spin, spin, spin. I have to work harder at my business if I want to survive in New York. It will take two years for us to build the bed and breakfast - with our own two hands - but won't it be fun.

Miss the grandbabies terribly...every time I look at the big dirt pile or the play kitchen, or the Thomas the Tank Engine table at Barnes and Noble I ache. They are so far away (Las Vegas) and I only see them twice a year if I am lucky.

On my way to pick up Lydia at the vet which is also a no-kill shelter. What a home I could give those homeless kitties in my mega-barn....

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Another hot day...

The heat continues...we feed the flocks in the late evening when the worst of the heat is abated. Last night there was a gigantic orange full moon coming up over the field....just stunning. I love being outside all the time. Without the livestock, I would be at the wheel or the dyepot or the soap pot (or the kitchen sink and stove) most of the time. I much prefer the great outdoors. I used to be a rabid housekeeper. People would joke, "Don't put your glass down, she will wash it!" Now the dishes hardly get washed at all. When the sink fills up and there are no more teaspoons, I wash. Having a dish washer would help...When we build the bed and breakfast I'll put in two dishwashers, one for me and one for a helper (fantasies are free, right?)

I have a ton of dyed BFL and Corriedale wool, mohair and angora ready to go to Frankenmuth. It is always exciting to drive up and see the big boxes waiting for me. I have an idea of what it will look like, but then one color takes over and I am surprised.

Lydia, my new cat is going to be fixed today. I found her on the side of the road with her five kittens. I was turning a curve, almost home from work, when I saw two little kittens sitting right on the side of the road. I pulled over and tip toed over to them, ofcourse they scrambled. There were three more, waiting for mom to come back from foraging. I brought food for them for two weeks before I could catch them all....not an easy task. They are some of the nicest cats I have ever had. Now that I have bought a 200 cow dairy barn, I can keep them all!!!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Heat just won't let up....

Whew...doesn't seem right to see sheep panting like dogs. The goats spread out around the pasture, under shade trees, lying up against rocks cool from the night. The sheep pile up together in the sweltering lean-to's. I spread fresh hay in there to make it more comfortable and keep the flies down, but it's still disgusting. The next time I build sheds they will have wheels on them for moving to fresh ground every couple of days.

Tried shearing baby Belle, the first kid born this year, the other day. The sweat running through my eyes and her bucking made the job impossible. I will wait for a break in the weather. 117 yesterday in Las Vegas where my grandkids live....

Too much to do. Sew tote bags, make soap, call lawyer about incorporating, groom rabbits, clean cages, clean house (what's that?) Have the bunnies in air conditioning for the first time in over ten years. Plan on getting the remaining outside bunnies inside too when the new cages come. So much easier to control flies, cooler for them, no freezing bottles in the winter. I work so hard for that angora...but love it, love it, love it.


Monday, July 18, 2005

The year ahead...too much to ponder!

I read my first blog when a nice bunnywoman from Meadows of Dan in Virginia included the address in her spin list post. I clicked on it and thought, hmmmnnn, that's nice. An online diary where people can keep up with what you are doing if they so desire. A way of sending your vibes out into the great ocean of internet space, looking for kindred spirits. Then I stumbled on Chris Morgan's blog, another bunnywoman and found out stuff about her I had no idea. Like the litter of kittens her daughter rescued, etc., and what she is spinning. So here I am, with lots of stuff to tell.

I bought a farm!! I really did!! After long last, no more digging out to the frozen lambs in lean-tos in the middle of a field in a blizzard. They will be snug and warm in the 200 cow dairy barn I bought in Brookfield, New York...snowmobile capital of New York State I am told. My dream is to get the milking parlor working, get in some Icelandics and start milking. Fantasies are free, right? I have been in love with those sheep for years, but got waylayed by Bluefaced Leicesters five years ago. Great fleece, but I don't think they have a lot of extra milk. Now a year of moving. Two previous moves did not seperate me from enough of my c-r-a-p, and the fiber life is not helping. The creative mind is seldom a tidy place, right? I thought this blog would be a way of sharing the adventures of farming, moving, and farming some more. As I was slipping and sliding in the mud that is my pasture after a pouring rain, I observed the lady across the street coming home from the country club. She stopped to get her mail, perfectly coiffed hair, smooth, even tan, and waved from her spotless SUV (carpeted, I'm sure) before she drove down to her no-dogs-allowed house. That was another life for me, and I am having much more fun, but I was reminded how nice it would be to be around other farmers. And that is what I will have in Madison County, New York. Just a half hour away from my buddy Lisa from Spinner's Hill, whose aura drew me to that area.

Enough for now, this will take some getting used to...