Tuesday, July 31, 2007

One Year Anniversary

Just realized that it was one year ago today that I was dropped off here with my flock, a garden hose and a trailer. No bathroom, but I did have an extra livestock trailer, no coffee pot, no stove. I made it through a year that would have sent most of the women I know running for cover. I got my bathroom a month ago, and have taken a bubble bath every night, and sometimes morning, since then. A kitchen and a dishwasher would be nice...

A Honey of a Veggie Stand

I took a trip into New Berlin to get some things at Big M, the indy store I like, and to pick up a good fly trap at Homestead. I decided to take a ride toward Pittsfield to see if the organic veggie stand was open. It was, and, since I have Sister Grace's garden for vegetables, I decided to buy some much needed honey. I love honey and use it in my hand made soap. What a lovely visit I had with Gayle Austin, the owner/grower. Gayle is a one woman powerhouse who does all the growing and beekeeping. She had on a tee-shirt that said Hoboken Agricultural District on it and I had to ask if it had anything to do with the NJ Hoboken. Gayle told me the story of Irish cotton mill workers who came here to work here in the 1850's. They gave this suburb of New Berlin the name Hoboken, as they were homesick for New Jersey...I guess it happens. I went home with some delicious spring honey, made from so many flowers that rolled effortlessly off Gayle's tongue, but I can't remember a single one right now, late on this hot afternoon. Have to let the sheep out to graze, then ride up and down the road to keep them in. Did it on foot yesterday and decided an air-conditioned truck cab is infinitely more comfortable.

Quiet Sunset Walk to the Pond

Last night I took the doggies up to the pond around sunset. My heart was just aching for the Little Ones, who were probably playing at the other grandmas' beach about that time. From fresh water pond to salt water sand. How wonderful for them to have a summer of fun with adoring grandmothers. The froggies were hard at play, unfettered by little boys and girls chasing after them with nets and sticks.

Washing Wool While the Sun Shines

Washing and drying wool while the sun is hot enough to dry it is highly recommend. It could take weeks to dry in cold weather. You can't put wet fibers in the dryer, either. I have thought about it. Holding a hair dryer over it might help but talk about time consuming? It does my heart good to see a big table of freshly washed wool out in the sun. I am in a rush to get it out to Deb McDermott in Michigan who will spin yarn for me to sell at the shows, which start in September! Yes, we are on a downhill slide into fall. The tractors are racing around Brookfield trying to get that hay in over the four sunny rain free days predicted this week. I have a big pot of angora on the stove now, with Jacquard's "Spruce" dye in it. Ohhhh, nice! When I drop the angora into the dyepot I whisper thanks to the bunners, who give me such luscious fiber. It doesn't even have to be washed before dyeing, just put it in the pot.

I took pictures of the froggies in the pond last night to send to Luke. They are enjoying the still, quiet pond. Much, much too quiet for me!

Get Into Gear

Definitely a fall back and regroup day today. Have to get my head together to get the farm organized and producing, and for this farm that's wool products, soap, knitting totes, and farm photos. It was just so wonderful having the kids here and being able to focus on them entirely - but now the reality check sets in. When I was spinning at the New Berlin Quilt Festival a member of the Chenango Colorscape Festival committee stopped to chat. She asked me to apply to this year's festival, even though she didn't think there were any booths available. I just sent her a few pictures of my booth, products, etc. by email. May be a good idea for next year. I love to stay local. Long trips pulling a trailer late at night are becoming extremely unpleasant...and finding someone to babysit the critters is always a problem. Mia will be the new nurse on the ward and will probably get most of the weekend and holiday shifts. She's always been such a help to me. Sister Grace wants to watch the farm but she is now struggling with her kidney disease. I will have to investigate other avenues of coverage pretty quick.

Monday, July 30, 2007

So Deal With It

Everywhere I look I am reminded of the Little Ones. Hannah's egg basket, the chicken room, the kittens, the birdhouses they assembled and painted yesterday when Mommy and Daddy were napping, Izzy (Luke's best friend on Omi's Farm), their bedroom, it goes on and on. What I would give to hear Luke answer the telephone again. The other day it went something like this: Imagine a teeny tiny kiddie voice - "Who is this, who is this? I am Luke, who is this? What? What? Matt? There is no Matt here! Oh, you mean Poppy? Oh, he's outside working on the farm. Okay, he'll call you back." I don't think Luke knows my name is Maggie! What I would give to hear that cute little voice again. Luke will be six in August and is starting kindergarten next month, too. It was so nice to talk to my son, Eric, who is really busy pursuing a career with the Boy Scouts. He will soon take his pilot's license test which will allow him to fly with people (including me) in his airplane. I asked him to fly me over the Grand Canyon and he said he would. I called Mia and had a nice chat which really helped. It made me snap out of my own melancholy when I was reminded of the stress she is under. Mia is taking her nursing boards on Wednesday and getting ready to move into her new apartment. She found a room mate on My Space - a web designer who has a chocolate lab (with a Coach collar) who works at home and coaches tennis. Mia says she is thrilled with this young woman and happy there will be a dog in the apt. Mia wants to walk across Morristown to the hospital where she will be working. You can't park there any more as they bus people in from the local community swimming pool. I am waiting to see how long that lasts (bad weather, etc.)although Mia is a marathon runner and perfectly capable of making the distance (four miles, maybe?). I am so, so happy for my little angel of mercy. Thank Goodness this angel doesn't live thousands of miles away. In the meantime I am diving into a black Merino fleece I bought at New Hampshire Sheep and Wool. Just the smell of the grease wool and the feel of it in my fingers made me feel better. I will combine this wool with my own colored Bluefaced Leicester and angora for some lovely yarn.

Ta Ta For Now

The kiddies have left with their parents. They will visit Annie's parents at their beach house on Maryland. Eric keeps a sailboat there so I know they will have fun on the ocean. Gosh, I miss those little monkeys. Not even a barn full of critters can take their place. I better get busy...

Last Swim

We took Eric, Annie and the kiddies up to the pond for one last swim. All the doggies joined in, including little Velvet who followed us all the way up the hill. What a lovely way to end a wonderful two weeks with my grandbabies. We built a big bonfire and roasted marshmallows. Up early tomorrow to pack up the little family and see them off to a week at the "other grandma" on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. I will buy my ticket for Christmas at Hannah and Luke's home in Las Vegas very soon...for I will miss my little friends sorely. It will be a tough couple of days...

Pinball Winners!

After a warm, dusty two hours and Taylor's Tack and Field we headed over to Maxwell's in Hamilton, where the air conditioning is guaranteed to make your arm hairs stand up. Whew! It's cold in there! Hannah and Luke warmed up by playing pinball in earnest. Somehow they both won "Winner" balls and were rewarded with free ice cream cones. Mommy, Daddy and Omi had to buy theirs...

Annie and Hannah Ride Together

After a delicious breakfast Hannah cooked for us and a walk around the Farm we set out for Barb Taylor's for a lesson. Hannah and Luke rode Cudy while Annie rode Tybaby. What a beautiful pair Hannah and Annie made, riding around the ring together. Annie is an experienced rider but has not been on horseback for years. It was as if she had never stopped riding - smooth as glass. Hannah and Luke helped break a new horse at the stable, Ellie, by sitting on her back and getting her used to the human contact.

Mommy and Daddy Are Here

Hannah and Luke were reunited with with their parents sometime in the wee hours of Sunday morning. After much hugging and kissing most of us went to bed, but Eric and I stayed up to look at a treasure trove of old pictures he recently found. They included pictures of my mother and father when they were young and in love and pics of them with their two baby boys in Munich, Germany, where my father was stationed post liberation WWII. They are amazing pictures I didn't know existed - what a wonderful surprise. We woke up and had scrambled eggs made by Hannah then walked around the Farm. Annie has never been here and we took her on the grand tour, including my grain room and the hay expansive hay mows.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

The Pig Farmer Takes A Wife

Will, the Pig Farmer, got married today. It poured buckets for half an hour before the ceremony and cleared just in time for the ceremony. The wedding was lovely, with twin flower girls throwing petals on the aisle before the bride came through. Hannah leaned over and picked up a petal, examined it, and turned to me and said with deadly seriousness, "They're FAKE!" Oh well, it was still a nice touch. The church must have been a hundred degrees, with matching humidity. Instead of following the crowd out to the tent at the fairgrounds, we went to get pizza in the air conditioned New York Pizzeria. With such a crowd we didn't think we would be missed. We had to get home and start getting ready for Eric and Annie who are on the way from Las Vegas.

Last Day with the Kiddies

I couldn't sleep last night thinking about the little ones leaving. Their parents, Eric and Annie, are coming to get them and will arrive late tonight. They are flying into Baltimore from Las Vegas and will drive up to CNY in a rental car. What a long trip. I have to get this madhouse into some kind of shape today. Eric never quite understood the animal thing...and he HATES flies. There are no flies in Las Vegas. Yes, we have flies in Central New York. Not the biting flies they have in New England, just the flies that land on you and sit there a while. I bought some Deep Woods Off with the high percentage of DEET to spray on him. We are going to the Pig Farmer's wedding at 2 in Brookfield. Rain is in the forecast. I haven't met the bride yet but young Will delivered hay to me last summer and fall. He bought the little house across the road and up the hill - nice little gem he got for a song. I tried to get Jan to buy it. Not long after Will bought it a fire started in the basement chimney and gutted the living room above. He got twice as much from fire insurance as he paid for it and is doing a big renovation. Will keeps his pigs and cows at his sister's farm on the other side of me, so he is twice my neighbor. Sister Grace is his auntie. Wow, Aunt Sister Grace. The other day I drove by the farm and saw one of the calves that used to run playfully around the field hanging from the tractor bucket by his hind feet, gutted from stem to stern, right by the road for all to see. I gasped and turned my head...life on the farm. My mother came from a long line of hog farmers and watched that sort of thing all the time. Will's sister has three little kids who have to see that stuff...yikes! The wedding should be interesting. We go to the First Baptist Church for Christmas. Last summer Hannah and Luke went to the vacation bible school but they will miss it this year. I thought Hannah would like to see the bridal party in their pretty dresses. I am looking forward to seeing what Will looks like in a suit as I've only seen him in barn clothes. This is the first wedding I've been invited to since Eric and Annie were married in Louisville years ago. Makes me feel part of the neighborhood.

Friday, July 27, 2007

A Note to Michele with One L

Hi, Michele (nice name!)...yes, I do spin dog hair. Haven't spun anything from Finn, Knut or Thor yet. When I comb them I will certainly save their hair. Once I worked with an English teacher who owned a Samoyed, a very popular dog hair to spin. He brought me a big bag of hair and asked me to spin and knit a set of mittens, hat and scarf for his wife. I mixed it with a little wool, not much, and made the set. It was beautiful, very pearly white and warm. Spinning dog hair is nothing new - Native Americans have been doing it for many, many years. The most interesting dog hair I worked with was Lansdale (sp?) Newfoundland, the black and white one, which I hand carded with grey angora. Whoooo they were nice. I gave them to a boyfriend, who gave them to his landlady, who finally gave them to someone who appreciated them! I'm not anxious to give away such treasures anymore. You just never know...and glory be - I have a picture of the Newfoundland/Angora mittens, complete with bunny donor! Omigosh!

Pinwall Wizard

It's just my favorite Elton John song, after Tiny Dancer...but that's what came to mind when Luke and I played pinball in Maxwell's Ice Cream Shoppe in Hamilton today. Ahhh, Hamilton. Colgate University, and all those yuppie parents and their kids looking the town over. I like the book store, and feel quite at home with all the well-to-do New Jersey parents flashing credit cards and buying $75 sweat shirts. All those pastel cotton Vera Bradley bags (made in China, mind you) make me want to run home and fire up my sewing machine. My bags are definitely reactionary to those soft cotton sissy bags...I like a sturdy bag you can sink a lap top and a few books into, one you can bring to the stable without it showing dirt. But I digress...Luke had an absolute ball, and shrieked with laughter every time a gumball popped out. I got him a bag and he collected quite a few. Good thing I had a fortune in quarters in my rugged, earth-tone tapestry bag!

Back in the Saddle

Hannah and Luke both rode horses today. While Hannah was having her lesson Luke and I went over to Hamilton. We ate ice cream and played pinball at Maxwell's. Luke wanted to stay at the barn but I wanted Hannah to have some special private time to herself with Barb and the horses. Luke looks to be quite the horsey boy himself, and climbed hay bales to get up high and pet the horses in their stalls. When I brought him back to the barn he couldn't wait to get on Cudy, Hannah's lesson horse. I want him to be a bit older before he starts taking lessons, but for now I like the idea of him getting used to being around and on horses.

Nice and Clean (spoken in a sing-songey voice)

Izzy has never been so clean - and Luke gets clean in the process! And I have never seen Izzy so happy as when he escapes from the tub and runs around the apt. in a joyous happy dance! We are off to Hannah's riding lesson and a trip to the ice cream store in Hamilton for Luke.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Cooling Off

Heat and humidity set in today. Sheep and goats don't seem to mind a bit. I kept them in until late afternoon and I was home to watch them. They've been straying a bit and finding ways out of the feeble fencing. Now that we have decent shelter for ourselves we are going to have to drop some money and time on fencing. We got an estimate from a fence company to do just the perimeter of our pasture and it was over $8,000. A little pricey for us right now. I don't want to make enemies of our neighbors or cause a traffic accident, either. But for now I am enjoying Hannah and Luke's visit, which will be over in three days! We enjoyed a lovely swim in the pond which cooled us off very nicely. There is a big bullfrog that comes up to look us over once in a while. We can only see his big head and tips of his knees. Would love to get up close but doesn't look like it's going to happen anytime soon...

Hot Cookies on a Hot Day

Hannah wanted to make cookies. So it's 80 in the apt. but we want to keep everything on the up and up. Cookies smell great and Hannah is happy - that's the important thing. When Hannah is happy, Omi is happy.

Back from the Evil Empire

Whew what a morning...got over to WM just as the kids fell sound asleep. Reminded me of what it was like to be a child and hauled around by parents, and having no say about it. We did have a lot of fun finding everything on Hannah's list, and lots more. I was able to get the thread I need and a couple of rafts to blow up and use to float around the pond. I took H and L to my favorite bakery (good excuse to get a double cappucino for myself) La Maison Blanc. Hannah, yes, she is my granddaughter, chose the dark chocolate mousse cup, and Luke chose a cow cookie. This bakery has the most amazing decorated animal cookies (very pricey). I would buy one of every cookie - cows, sheep, frogs, chickens, etc. to put in holiday packages to send to them in Nevada, but never heard how they liked them. I found out today, that Hannah doesn't like them at all, but Luke is crazy about them. Stopped at Tractor Supply and the kids rode around the store on top of 50 lb. sacks of rabbit pellets, cracked corn and dog food. Can't beat 52 lbs. of Pedigree for $18.99. Sure hope Tractor Supply doesn't oppress their workers. I love to patronize my little local Homestead Feed shop, but some of their items are $5 to $7 more than TS. Just can't afford it, and TS sends me an itemized receipt of everything I've bought there at the end of the year. From there we went to another Evil Empire, the big yellow M. Yes, I made the ultimate sacrifice and stood in the lunch hour line to get Hannah her nuggets and French fries. Luke just wanted to eat his Lunchable to get the Transformer out. I neglected to buy Hannah's food in the form of a Happy Meal and consequently didn't get the toy, to Luke's dismay. So he went up to the counter, remember he is 5, and asked for a toy. They gave it to him, and he brought it to me to figure out how to use it. Just my luck it didn't work properly, but he let me talk him into going home to work on it. We almost made it home clean but Luke had an emergency bathroom urge, fortunately made it home because Stewart's had an unusual line for the BR. Hannah helped me haul in a truck load of groceries, what a trooper. Back on the sofa for a little of Star Wars. Their Daddy, my son Eric, was the TWIN of young Anakin Skywalker - complete with haircut and natural ability with anything motorized. He hated me for years because of that haircut (first on a list of many unresolved issues) but it was adorable. He was so cute I worried all the time about someone snatching him. In the meantime, I can love on his cute little son, Luke, who tells me he loves me like crazy every day.

Off to Wal-Mart, Sleepy Morning Musings

Luke wants more Lunchables with Transformer toys in them, so we are off to Wal-Mart. What an awful little toy...they are tiny and fold up so small we are losing them like crazy and finding them chewed up by the dogs. I've got some coffee in me and am on the way to waking up. Used to go on 5 hours sleep no problem, but lately it doesn't work. Hannah hates going to stores, but she just told me she wants to make chocolate chip cookies. We have to go get the ingredients. Wal-Mart is 25 miles from here, but I can do Tractor Supply for bunny food at the same time. I love my little local indy food store, but can't beat the prices at WM. My Economics teacher friend Jeff has me convinced that it is a good thing to shop at WM, but Matt has a fit. Sure, they rip off their employees by not giving them health insurance...but I see a whole lot of people working there who might not get a job anywhere else. They look downright freaky, old and infirm, but they can still say, "Hi, welcome to Wal-Mart, and here's your cart." That can mean a lot to a shut in. Chris Kupris, my neighbor and former owner of this gorgeous farm, now works at WM. He may be cleaning s--- pots, as he calls them, but it gives him a sense of purpose, and he tells me he's had a few marriage proposals from some of those freaky old ladies who can't stand the thought that he's never been married! I can buy Hannah and Luke toys in Wal-Mart to help make the trip home bearable. I can pick up some Starbucks French Roast and grind it on the expresso setting, my favorite. I want to make Anise soap with Hannah when we get back. Laura Brush, the "Other Grandma" loves that scent because they fish on the Chesapeake and Anise supposedley masks the scent of humans. They are going to visit her for another week after their time with me. Maybe the pouring and stirring of soapmaking will be more fun than yesterday's sewing. I want to teach her everything I know, but not be the beastly taskmaster grandmother! I got some incredible pictures of my bags on a beach near Laura's house. You should have seen the canoe, loaded with beautiful tapestry bags, teetering side to side, with me paddling out to look for a sandy barren beach with some driftwood. The pictures are gorgeous, too bad they are obsolete. Don't have any of that fabric anymore, but still want to make a post card to send to customers someday. Barb Taylor is still booked for lessons today, but I got Hannah a lesson for tomorrow and Sunday, when her mommy can watch! I can't wait to show Annie how good Hannah looks on horseback.