I found two tiny chicks the day before yesterday. One was on the porch and the other in the driveway. I know this newborn chick didn't hop up the steps to the porch. I figure a cat carried it up for a reason only known to the cat - perhaps a snack for later? I rescued the little ones and snooped around for the mother hen. A hen will hatch as many chicks as she can in the nest, then take them out to teach them how to survive. I suspect these unfortunate babies hatched after mom and siblings left town. Hens are very mobile and travel all over the farm in search of food and water. The brave little chicklings try their best to keep up with her. It's pitiful to see them trying to climb over a step or a rock, as big as a mountain to them. I knew I didn't have much of a chance of finding the right mom, but I tried. I finally settled on a hen who had tucked her babies under her among the bales in the hay mow, ready for darkness to descend. At the least bit of perceived night-time, chickens either roost up high if they are childless, or hide the brood somewhere safe. I offered the two chirping babies to the mom, who immediately tried to peck at me. I was relieved to see she didn't peck at the chicks, tiny wisps of feathers who burrowed under the warm mother. I could sense their satisfaction at finding a home. A day went by and I thought I better climb up the ladder and check on what's going on up there. Sadly, the mother hen had left the hay cave with her own chicks and the newborns were still there, chilled and scared. I put them in the "Cradle of Civilization" to warm them up. I was warm and sweaty, a perfect oven for the babies. It was kind of fun to carry them around as I did my chores, made soap, cooked dinner and spun wool yesterday. They peeped to each other all day long. I gave them water and a little feed to scratch, but noticed they didn't eat or drink much. There is nothing like a species-specific mom to teach you what you need to know. I was afraid to go to sleep with chicks in my bra, as I would surely roll over and smother them, so I made a little bed in a box on the kitchen counter. The little angels didn't make it through the night. Okay, I tried. I always berate myself with things like, why didn't I set up a light bulb (but it was hot in the kitchen) or why didn't I search longer and harder for the right mom (she was probably busy with the chicks she had already). Every life is precious. It's an awesome responsibility to care for all these little souls. In the meantime, there are chickens sitting on eggs in the most unusual places. I do try to pull eggs on a daily places, in all the hiding spots I am aware of. The clever girls know my habits, and use the barn clutter to defy me.
A holiday weekend hardly brings any change in activity around here. There are always chores to be done and animals to take care of. We worked the Hamilton market on Saturday, which is an all-day deal. I had a great time, although three of my vendor friends who I look forward to seeing didn't come. My new booth neighbor has not been there in two weeks. There are too many upscale vendors at this market, with double the number of food outfits, cooking and grilling away, with hardly a hungry person in line. I counted three new potters, all with fabulous wares, including one who brings her wheel to throw clay while people watch. I'm enjoying the party now before they give up and drop out, one by one, and before the temps become so high that the only market patrons are the locals who come at the crack of dawn to get a few veggies. I will be there anyway, with my fan plugged into the lamp. The market is my summer job and I'm one of the die-hards. As long as Matt is willing to help me set up and take down I'll go. With no family around and no one to put on a party for on a holiday weekend like this, I like having somewhere festive to go and socialize. I always thought Memorial Day should be a solemn day, when one pauses and reflects on the meaning of the day, rather than mattress and furniture sales... but the sacrifice of those who served their country enables we civilians to enjoy all those freedoms, however frivolous. I enjoyed the freedom to sit at my spinning wheel and spin up some lovely teal yarn. I made Clary Sage and Lavender soap with the lovely oil that is said to regulate a woman's hormones. Don't know about that but it sure smells good and my hormones are on rather an even keel these days anyway. Back to work tomorrow, and the countdown to June 22 when I will not have to make that trip to Norwich every day. I won't miss it. I'm hoping Hannah and Luke come for a visit, perhaps while Annie and Eric make the move to the new BSA position at the Pine Tree Council in Portland, Maine. The family is in Disney World now, although I am afraid they might be rained on with Tropical Storm Beryl moving up the coast. On deck for today besides barn and critter chores - Lemongrass soap, and a couple of Bundaflicka totes. We might hit 90 today. Maybe a dip in the pond? We'll see.
My sheep are loving the lush, green grass. They came through the winter fat and happy on Jim Postma's hay. An unusual windfall crop of my own apples in the fall gave them a nice layer of fat before the fields went brown. I adore my black sheep, but white wool dyed lovely colors sells much better. I plan on putting coats on my black sheep to take care of those luscious black fleeces for sale to hand spinners, who seem to like black wool. The sheep don't know what color their wool is. They just want peace, quiet, and splendor in the grass.
I've counted three hummingbirds so far this season...a mature male, a mature female, and one fledgling I think. I take my binoculars outside after I come home from work and sit near the feeder. They don't seem to mind me and the dogs, cats and sheep hanging around. That must be some terrific nectar as the little dive bombers are constantly sipping. I have to read up on how often to change the nectar. I was an avid bird watcher for many years in NJ, but, surprisingly, only remember seeing one hummingbird. Central New York is a hummingbird paradise. Lucky me.
Strings from feed sacks and baling twine are a real problem around the barn. They must be picked up and properly disposed of or they cause problems. This little hen was sitting in the barn in an awkward place by the milk room door. I thought she might have chicks under her for the night and left her alone. Knut came along and she moved over a little and I saw no beaks peaking out from under the warmth. I decided to pick her up and check her out and look what I found. This poor chicken was hobbled by string that was wrapped around both her legs and holding them together. One leg was really altered by the string that had been on there for some time. I held her while Matt carefully cut the string off. It will take her some time to get her chicken legs back, but I think she will be fine. In the meantime I continue my vigil of picking up and string or twine I see around the farm.
I've had two hens hatch clutches of chicks in the last few days, and two more are holed up in the upper hay mow, sitting on eggs. One mom must have twenty eggs under her. The mound of hay bales make great cubicles for broody hens. They are blissfully undisturbed by dogs up there, and the hay mow kitties seem to have made a truce with them. The new moms marching around with tiny dots of feathers following them are proof of that. I think the ample amount of feed I put up there every night, climbing the ladder with a slippery bucket of delicious slop, helps keep the cats from eating the chicks. Free range chickens are great for eating flies around the barn. Unfortunately just as many roosters hatch as hens, and they are a real nuisance. You can't have the yin without the yang I reckon. In the meantime, we are enjoying green fields and blue skies. The sheep are fat and happy. What's a few more chickens to feed over the winter?
When I was attending Mia's UMDNJ graduation Daryl and the kids not only took care of my critters - they went to work in the barn building these fabulous gates. I had a wire panels for "poor white gates" with twisted wire and baling twine holding them closed. They were very awkward at shearing time or when I had to get in to where the sheep were. I usually just climbed over the fence rather than undo the gates. Now I have sturdy gates framed with wood with real hinges and latches. I had a feeling Daryl would do something in the barn as he likes to keep busy and has fixed up the barn before. It was a real jolt when I went out there and saw the gates. Daryl set the kids to mucking out the pathways through to the milk room and out Thor's door, too. It takes a LOT of shoveling and raking to do it by hand, then huffing and puffing the heavy wheelbarrow out the door. I really appreciate the love and devotion Daryl, Kim and kids have shown to my farm over the years.
My little friend, the Firecracker (because of her sparkly personality), came to visit me at the Hamilton Farmer's Market last Saturday. She expressed a desire to try my Robin wheel. We gave it a go for a while, then the little Firecracker decided to cruise around the park and check everything out. Her mommy, also named Robin, and I work at BOCES. We worked together for years and were thoroughly bonded, but the powers that be decreed that we must part. We only see each other for a wave in the hall once in a while. Gotta deal but it ain't easy. In the meantime I get a lovely visit at the market from Robin and her little Firecracker.
Mia was crowned America's newest University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey Master of Science in Nursing yesterday at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark with all honors and privileges that go along with it. We are very proud of our Nurse Practitioner Mia, who will undoubtedley take even better care of us than she already does. May all her dreams come true!
We're on our way out the door to New Jersey and Mia's graduation from UMDNJ at the NJPAC in Newark. We'll stay in Milford on the Delaware tonight and have dinner at Casa Del Sol, my favorite Mexican restaurant. Tomorrow we'll have lunch with Mia and AJ at the Spanish Tavern in the Ironbound section of Newark. I'm so proud of my baby girl earning her Master of Science in Nursing along with a Nurse Practitioner certification. My trip to NJ would not be possible without the help of my Canadian angels - the Parkinsons, who have arrived to mind the farm while I'm gone. We have good weather and it's all systems go - very excited to be visiting my home state and watching Mia get her degree.
The Wild Irish Boy has more toys to play with. Yes, I'm jealous. Here he is with his brand spanky new Weatherization trailer filled with lots of gadgets designed to save energy and keep people warm in New York State. A matching new church van will pull the new toy box around for teaching purposes.
The annual Special Education Roller Skating Party was just so much fun. The hour ride to Interskate 88 in Oneonta was uneventful and the countryside was bursting with springtime. I was determined to learn how to roller skate and was I ever glad I put the skates on. After I got the hang of it with the help of students and staff, they had to pull me off the floor to go back to school. I want to bring Hannah and Luke to this rink when they come this summer.
Today is the annual Special Ed. Dept. roller skating party at Interskate 88 near Oneonta and I am bringing my class. Yes, I aspire to Sainthood. The last two years my class was "not invited." Yes, I have a challenging class. I can legally drive the youngin's as I have been fully vetted and investigated by the powers that be. It's a good thing I can drive my own van. That way I can bring them back to school if they misbehave at the roller rink. Will they come willingly? Doesn't matter as I will have my big, strong aides with me for back up. I have the best muscle in the whole BOCES system (38 schools in NY State). I am keeping an open mind about the day ahead of me. I just might come home and jump in the pond. Five more weeks of school and I can stay home with my sheep. Hanging on to that lovely vision...
Spring time in upstate New York means getting into and onto the water. We are surrounded by rivers, ponds, lakes, creeks, waterfalls and swamps. When the temps hit the eighties this weekend I will be tempted to get in my pond, no doubt. Perhaps Saturday after the Hamilton market. This neighbor of mine decided not to wait to get on the water. On this gloriously beautiful, sunny, breezy day I couldn't blame him.
With all the recent rain the grass is green and lush. The sheep and goats come in with bulging bellies (but still ask for cracked corn). I peeked out the barn door and saw the first hummingbird of the season, hovering at the feeder. I blinked and it was gone. Mia and I bought a feeder last weekend, then I found last year's in the cupboard. I put one farther out in the barnyard to attract them and one closer to the barn where I can see them better. I think they are little miracles and was thrilled when I learned upstate New York is hummingbird heaven. Finally cut up all those bundles of rhubarb I picked up from the end of the lady's farm lane on King's Settlement Road. I paid a small fortune for some fresh strawberries at the little market in New Berlin. I would save a lot of money if I went to Price Chopper in Norwich, but it requires crossing town in the opposite direction of where I need to go. Proximity means everything to me as I am always rushing home to the animals. Not so much the sheep, as they lounge around until I let them out to graze, but the doggies who are listening to every noise for my truck. After chores I collected the armful of rhubarb, washed and cut it up with the strawberries to simmer for a while. What a delicious brew that is, especially over ice cream, and I'm afraid I overindulged. I wanted to preserve the rhubarb but was too tired to collect and boil all the jars tonight. Will freeze it instead for canning later. Have to remember to go out and lock up the sheep and take the doggies with me for one last pee. The stars are lovely tonight, with several little planets glowing orange. Several days of pleasant weather are ahead. It was 58 F. in the barn when I was working out there. Perfect for me. I love this cool weather, but am aware that the blistering hot days are required for bringing in hay. I must remember to turn the water heater back on in the milk room. I can't run the clothes dryer and have the water heater on at the same time. Funky old electric. Wouldn't do to have a cold bath in the morning, although it's happened many times. Good night.
No Facebook at work and had to wait all day. Called Mia and Matt before I went into the 15 mile dead zone to hopefully find out if Eric got the job. Tried again under the traffic light in New Berlin, the only blip of reception before going into another ten mile dead zone. No answer. Came in range of the Brookfield tower and got a call from Matt - Eric is now the Scout Executive of the Portland Maine Council, a choice position he was after. Now Eric and Annie pack up Hannah and Luke for the move to Maine next month. Eric has wanted his own Boy Scout council for a long time, and now he's got it, after many years of dedication and hard work. I know Annie helped push the committee over the edge, with her own service to the BSA and all the grant writing she's done for them as a consultant. I won't get to visit the Dallas Palace this summer as planned. That's okay - I'm going to love whale watching with Hannah and Luke out of Portland. The family moved from Louisville, Ky., where the kids were born, to Las Vegas, then San Jose, then Dallas, and now Portland, in the service of the BSA. I suspect Eric will stay here until he retires. Not a bad place to retire.
My cabinets and stove are finally enclosed in a pine bead-board wall. Matt did a fantastic job. There is a counter board on top and an extra outlet on the inner wall. It took him two whole days to do it and makes a big difference in my kitchen. I'm very impressed with all the fine trimming. He really does nice work. Now to keep the kitties off it until the varnish dries...
I caught Monkey (AKA Velvet) napping on Thor's bed today. This is very unusual because Thor is very moody. Most of the sheep and goats (along with the chicken, ducks and cats) keep a safe distance from Thor. He has been known to lash out at any critter who tries to tip-toe into the barn past him while he's lying on the bed. Monkey enjoys special status due to her "attitude." Nobody messes with Monkey, not even Thor. When I put out cracked corn for the goats, they stay their distance or Monkey will whip those horns around and hit them in the face. When Monkey decided to bed down on Thor's comfy pad, he found another place to chill. Monkey has lovely blue eyes, and lustrous black fleece, enhancing her "status" on the farm. She is the daughter of my legendary Celeste.
Mia and I were looking in the pond for a glimpse of "Goldie," my resident gold fish who has lived in the pond for several years now. Goldie is about a foot long and has a lovely fan tail. We usually see her early in the year when she has awakened from her muddy, wintery sleep. Mia said look, there's a gold fish. I asked her if it might be Goldie and she said no, this fish was smaller. How smaller? The way she described it I thought it might be one of the gold fish I was given by the Conservation dept. at my school. They students had so many little goldfish stocked in their pond on the school grounds they decided to give some away. I took the little ones home to my pond, hoping for the best, but fearing that Goldie would eat them. Apparently, Goldie has satisfied herself with plant life, or other minnows, because the pond has a quite healthy gold fish population! We spotted a school of gold fish swimming together! It was quite a thrill to find I have my own personal "coy pond" which never needs feeding or other treatment.
When Mia and I were strolling around the farm this morning, we checked out some froggy friends. My pond is teeming with new life, and old life waking up from the winter. With the recent rains, the pond is high and healthy again. I was concerned with the lack of snow melt to flush it out. Not to worry, the springs are bubbling, the ponds are full and I look forward to floating around with my froggy friends very soon.
My free range chickens are annoying to say the least, like when I am feeding the barn cats. I turn around and the poor kitties have been roughed off the bowl of kibble by a hoard of wild hens and roosters. I rush over and grab two or three to throw into the chicken room where they will hopefully leave their gifts in nest boxes. The others see me doing this dastardly deed and take off for the high regions of the barn to hide. I do tend to forgive them when I find little bundles of joy here and there, like these eggs left in the hay feeder. I can count on finding enough eggs to feed us, our dogs and cats, and occasionally a breakfast for my students (if they behave). Mia made us omelettes for dinner last night, and scrambled eggs with LOTS of dill for Mother's Day breakfast. I've never tasted anything so delicious.
Mia offered to help me shear some goats who escaped last time Jim Baldwin came to shear. We did one last night after the market and before dinner and the ritual burning of the old dog sofa. The goats were way up on the tippy top where the grass is lush and delicious and where the flock can drink from the pond. It was a good opportunity to sit by the water and chat about what is going on in our lives. The pond is deep and full due to the recent rains. Half grown frogs are swishing their tails around and little fish are darting about. We love to hear the dogs slurp, slurp, slurp the spring water and listen to the crunching of all those sheep and goat jaws on the grass. After all the work of setting up and taking down the market booth it was good to relax a bit. We flushed the critters back down the hill and caught one aged black doe whose mohair I've been lusting after for some time now. Mia sits on a chair while I do the clipping. That goat is very happy to feel the breeze on her back after being relieved of the matted rug she was carrying around. I will have to snip the curls away from the felt to salvage some for fiber art. When it's ready to come off it should come off. And that is all.
This gorgeous little market baby was modelling her parent's quilted and tie-dye creations yesterday. The family is from Sherburne and tie-dyes all kinds of clothing and tote bags. There are several vendors who sew totes at the Hamilton market, and I like to check them out against my own Bundaflicka knitting bags. I have to say I haven't found any that have quite the labor and quality of materials that mine have, but they keep me on my toes, so to speak. One local woman, a graduate student and young mother, called me up to say she wanted a bag "just like the one her mother has." Well, the mother purchased her bag several years ago, and I have no idea which bag it was, but I invited her to stop by and see if I might have something she likes one of these days. I was pleased to see her come in yesterday. I couldn't believe what I was hearing, because I thought I was hearing a tape of myself, when she said how she "HATES the Vera Bradley bags, and gets sick whenever she sees one." Vera Bradley totes are everywhere around here. We had a lively conversation about how the VB bags are not sturdy, look more like cosmetic bags, and are surely proliferating human rights abuses as they are manufactured in China. Well, the grad student admired a Bundaflicka tote, but said a smaller one would be better for her. Luckily I have just enough fabric left at home to sew one for her.
The Hamilton Farmer's Markets had a few surprises for patrons this spring, like this crafter who makes brackets and holders for various things that look like tree branches. There are also two new potters, a couple of new quilt artists, a wood artisan and another barbecue cooker. I'm sure there will be more as the season progresses. This farmer's market is really an upscale venue with many fine crafts people. It's tough to bring home one's meager earnings when there are so many ways to leave your money at the market.
We made it to the market fashionably late, but right on time. It was hugs all around from old market friends and introductions to new neighbors. The weather could not be more perfect, with sunny skies, moderate temps and gentle breezes. Traffic was unusually slow, with people most likely at home in their gardens, and who could blame them, but I had some visitors who made the day worthwhile. Mia's surprise appearance in my booth was the high point of my day. She came up from New Jersey to spend Mother's Day weekend with me. We walked through the market exploring new vendors, and chatting with this one and that. Matt watched the booth while we sat under a tree and had lunch. He draws the ladies like flies, so I never mind leaving the booth. Chris, my Roller Derby Queen neighbor, had all her beautiful yarns displayed in the glorious sunshine. I borrowed her ball winder to empty my bobbin as I was getting some spinning done with my new-this-spring Bluefaced Leicester. The day went by in a flash and it was time to pack up. We stopped at Tractor Supply for the weekly stock-up on critter supplies and headed home. Mia made omelettes with aged Gouda, bell peppers and dill. We ended the beautiful day with a ritual sofa burning on the hill. I opened the bottle of Harvey's Bristol Creme Mia gave me last Christmas. She and I toasted the survival of another winter in the wilds of Northern Appalachia in upstate New York, and the new market season. When the coals burned down we ventured back inside and fell asleep on the sofas, dreaming happy spring time dreams.
I had some very special visitors to my booth at Maryland Sheep and Wool. I call them Little Bo Peeps. I asked if I could snap their picture and they struck a cute pose for me. I am still high on the festival. All I had to do was sit at my spinning wheel and have "company" all weekend long. I met people I had not spoken with in years and years. All roads lead to Maryland on the first weekend in May.
I was sure this picture would place in the Maryland Sheep and Wool Photo Contest. Kim thought so, too. I'm not complaining as three out of the five I entered won blue ribbons. I will still frame this and remember fondly the day on the hillside that I was watching my lambs romp and play. They are such beautiful creatures. When they grow up to be big sheep you don't ordinarily see this behavior, especially after they have lambs of their own.
Year after year a sign goes up on King's Settlement Road on my way to work in Norwich. I only got a glimpse of the farmer once as I was flying by, and it was a little old lady who moved rather slowly. I admire her spirit in trying to hustle a buck for the farm, something I am familiar with. I can't stand the thought of her making her way down the lane to the can to find it empty soooooooo....guess who has a boxcar load of rhubarb? Yes, I'm planning on making strawberry rhubarb pies with my students tomorrow, then rhubarb preserves for myself. Scandies are crazy about rhubarb. Manna from heaven...
I've been enthralled with rug hooking for many years. I have a cutter for the wool and a lap thing for holding the canvas steady. I have a collected bags of wool for a long time and even have a rooster drawing stamped on lovely high-end rug hooking linen somewhere in this barn. There were rug hooking vendors all over Maryland Sheep and Wool last weekend. I lusted after them, then retreated to my booth where I was safe from temptation. Weaving will come first as previously discussed, then rug hooking someday. You can't do it all but I like to try.
Packing up the little store and heading home is never easy, but the high of a successful weekend in the Land of Sheep and Wool makes it easier. Kim is a real teamster and barks orders like a general, getting us loaded and on the road in about an hour. I would play with things and say long goodbyes to booth neighbors while she's working her butt off, so it's good that she keeps me focused. Now all my goodies are packed up tight and won't come out until the Hamilton Farmer's Market on Saturday. Hopefully there will be a healthy Mother's Day crowd coming out to support the farm and craft people. There won't be a leisurely Saturday morning for moi until next November. That's okay - I like the market people, and I always meet some very cool folks there. It's all about keeping The Farm going another year.
Still getting caught up after Maryland. Thankfully we are on the downhill slide to the weekend, and the end of the year. This sudden job switch at school really threw me for a loop and I still haven't quite got a grip on it. I took a walk in the back field after work with the dogs and it was just so lovely. It's cool and gray, with lots of water coming down off the ridge. I stopped by a babbling brook that wasn't there a couple of weeks ago and listened to the music. I have many beautiful "spots" on my land that are hidden and beautiful. It's very good for me to get out there and breathe deeply. I had a nice conversation with Mia today. She's got quite a bit of hard study ahead of her, learning what she needs to help the surgeons. I am looking forward to seeing her this weekend and am hoping she will hold two goats for me to shear. They got away from us at last shearing and are dragging a bit of precious mohair around with them. I scored a new pair of hoof clippers at Md. which will be a joy to use. I also brought home some lovely Romney fleeces, just shorn from the sheep at Weymouth Walk, New Jersey, who were getting ready for show. I know if I had more time to wander the sheep barns at the festival I could have picked up more. I never seem to have enough white wool for dyeing. I adore my black sheep, but the wild colors sell better. I keep the black fleeces for myself to wallow in, savoring the earthy, musky goodness. I had a nice note from the doctor who asked me to make her another messenger tote with a fabric she could put on the floor in the hospital while she worked. I found some burgundy Gunlocke fabric I got from Carol Crayonbox and decided it was perfect for the doctor. I finished it in two nights before I left for Maryland and hoped she would like it. Wouldn't you know she popped in the booth first thing on Saturday to see what I made for her. She loved it! It was a bit larger and had eight nice sized pockets. She wrote that she was able to put five knitting projects in it along with a thermos and her wallet. That's what I like...happy Bundaflickas.
I was so busy with my school job and making stuff for Maryland that I almost didn't enter any pictures in the photo contest at Maryland Sheep and Wool. Kim kept telling me to send her the pictures I liked and she would get them ready. She specifically mentioned one in particular, and I sent it to her. Kim brought the enlarged and mounted pictures to me when she arrived at the farm. They were just beautiful and I was proud to enter all five of them. We brought them to the contest people and paid the entry fee. Saturday morning Kim said she wanted to check the photo exhibition and came back with a big smile on her face. I hurried over to the building where the photos were housed and was quickly overwhelmed to find I won not only three blue ribbons in three different categories, but Best in Show as well. My shepherd friend from New Jersey, Joanie Schneiber, happened to be there and shared the joy with me. Joanie took a pic and posted it on Facebook with her smart phone. I had to wait a few days to share my good news with my friends. A special thank you goes to my online friend, Dan, from New Jersey, who sent me the Canon point-and-shoot camera I took all these pictures with. Thanks again, Dan, and thank you, Kimmie Cornerstone, for helping/making me pick out these prize winning pictures.
I find sheep faces so incredibly beautiful. I saw so many lovely Border Leicesters, like the ram I purchased two years ago from the 4-H family in Maryland. I still adore my Bluefaced Leicesters, but am hoping to put more wool on the back of my lambs. I can truthfully say I never met a sheep I didn't like. I have a love affair going with sheep and am an unapologetic wool snob. Angora goats and their mohair come in a close second.
I spent some time chatting with Margaret of Greentree Weavers from Ohio. One can't help but be attracted to the boxcar-like trailer full of incredibly beautiful woven cloaks and jackets. Margaret is a real grass roots kind of weaver. She raises the sheep, processes the wool with her own mill, spins the yarn, and weaves the cloaks on a loom of her own design. I came away thoroughly impressed and eager to set up my Glimakra loom and start weaving. I dream of a weaving studio here on the farm. The Glimakra, a Swedish floor loom, I purchased prior to moving to the farm, is in pieces in the tractor shed. I want to weave rugs with my mohair and coarser wool. It's only a matter of time - and building a room somewhere in this massive barn - before I get the clickety-clack of the shuttles going and turn out those rugs.
Jenny the Potter is my booth-neighbor in the Farm and Garden Building at Sheep and Wool in Maryland. Jenny travels all the way from Minneapolis, Minnesota to participate in the festival. Jenny brought her new baby, Benjamin, along with her daughter Lilly, brother, brother's girlfriend, Mom and Auntie. Some family members flew to Maryland, and some pulled the trailer full of cups, buttons and bowls. Jenny has quite a following and a line of fans formed Saturday morning to get first licks at her goods. My building has a few long-distance vendors coming as far away as Montana, Vermont and Wisconsin. Luckily, Kim and I only had to drive from upstate New York (after Kim traveled south from Ontario). We hit heavy weather in the form of torrential rain and lightning on the way down - so much so we had to pull off and get a room in Hagerstown. It was so comfy cozy in the Econolodge we were glad we did. Friday and Saturday nights were spent in the back of our van, on an air mattress Kim prepared for us. Despite all the hard work setting up, working the booth, and packing up, I got pretty decent rest at night. Spinning yarn under the full moon was absolutely divine.
Sheep people come in all shapes and sizes. I loved wandering through the sheep barns and watching the farm families work on their animals. This little girl was very excited about the process of grooming her great big ram for the show ring, and helped her sister get him ready.
My friend, Jim Shelley, expert knitter and teacher at a Philadelphia yarn shop, couldn't make it to Maryland this year. I met Jim 15 or so years ago when I used to go to Maryland Sheep and Wool by myself and wander through as a patron not a participant. I sat down on the grass to eat my lunch and struck up a conversation with Jim who was sitting nearby. Jim had traveled to Maryland on a bus from Greenwich Village, NYC, and was a fledgling knitter at the time. Now he creates gorgeous sweaters and hats, and doesn't have the "startitis" problem so many of us suffer from. Jim finishes his knitting projects! I hope to see Jim at Rhinebeck in the fall. In the meantime, Jim sent some knitting students of his to my booth to say hello. I'm very impressed with their creative and colorful hats, knitted under Jim's tutelage. Way to go, Jim!
I love the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival largely because it is so exclusively about sheep. Sure, there were a token alpaca or two there, but sheep were everywhere you turned. Kim and I enjoyed walking around the sheep barns in the evening, watching the shepherds get their animals fed and bedded down. Early in the morning the sheep people were up, carrying buckets and getting their animals groomed for show. I don't bring sheep to Maryland, as I have a truck full of wool and crafts and can't do both. I do bring pictures of my sheep, which are very well received.