Sunday, September 30, 2007

Another Bloody Sunday

Here we go again, dutifully watching another installment of The War, the Ken Burns documentary. It started out as a blissfully relaxing Sunday morning, lying in bed until almost nine. I was up until one am watching Bill Mahre so the doggies were taken out in the wee hours to pee and held it until we got up at nine. So nice...I got four bags cut out this morning and made Lemongrass soap in the afternoon. I finished printing out the pictures for my Maryland Sheep and Wool application. It must be postmarked tomorrow. This will be my third application, and wish I could say it would be a charm. They are very fussy and don't want any more wool. They want different, unique products, related to sheep ofcourse. I am hoping my sheep signs and bags will work. Got some great pictures and printed them out on 8x10 glossy photo paper. Maybe that will help. Last year I bought some expensive advertising thinking that might help get me in, but no deal. I know my stuff is good enough, but will they want it? Don't know...I won't know for months. Had a lovely walk with the doggies tonight. Matt spent some time working on my workroom electric, says he will put the French doors in next weekend. That will be great. Then I will be able to get the dogs out in the morning easier. The best part will be not having everyone troop through the Milk Room to get in here. I'm tired and would love to go to bed, but still have to check on chickens and put cat food out, change the kitty boxes, get clothes ready for school tomorrow, fill out the Md. application, take the doggies out, get the sheep in, close the gate, etc. Seems like nothing compared to fighting my way through Europe. What a terrific series this is. Last week when the veterans were attending the dedication of the WWII Memorial in Washington, and they were sharing their war stories, Matt had tears rolling down his cheeks. He's like that...every time the American flag goes by in a parade he cries. Nice to have a Patriot in the family.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Pre Birthday Saturday

I asked Matt to go to the post office and pick up the package Mia said she sent me for my birthday. He said, "It's your Birthday???" Realizing he doesn't know WHAT day my birthday is, and was totally unprepared for it anyway, I said, yeah it's my birthday. He was very nice to me all day, swept and mopped the floor in the apt., went into New Berlin to get me eggplant parmigian, fixed the light over the Milk Room steps I've had to feel my way up and down in the dark for a year, and even went with me for our nightly doggie walk up the hill. I figured I might as well be celebrating it on a Saturday anyway, since we both are working on Monday (my birthday.) We explored the apple orchard, which has quite a few ripe apples ready for picking. I want to make a pie from the apples in MY orchard. They are small, but taste terrific. There are plenty left for the deer who take shelter from the hunters. Mia sent me a beautiful picture of me holding baby Hannah on my lap on my wedding day. I washed a black fleece, then dyed another one, and cut out a bag. I'm going out into the Milk Room to make some Rosemary soap now. One of my favorite kitties, Lizzie, is on my shoulder. OH, she's so sweet. Lizzie loves to climb up my back and sit on my shoulders as I go about my business. The movie World Trade Center with Nicholas Cage is on TV. Omigosh, it brings me back to Voorhees High School, where I was making copies in the copy room on Sept. 11. The door to the media tech's workroom opened and he motioned for me to come in. Several people including the principal were gathered around a big screen TV. We were only 35 miles from Manhattan. Our guidance counselor's husband was killed, and many families were involved in various ways. The principal wisely would not allow TV's to be turned on in the classrooms, as many other local schools did. With a quivering voice and shaky hand I called Matt on the job site where he was working and asked if he was alright. He answered, in his own indomitable Blue Collar spirit, "Ain't no Towel Head gonna get ME, Baby!" It was beautiful. We feel so far removed up here in our peaceful little valley in Central New York. I like it that way.

Friday, September 28, 2007

A New Look for Velvet

My little monkey face is sleek and beautiful, newly shorn and relieved of all the burrs and tags she was carrying around. Her fleece is so fine and light it hardly weighs anything at all. I marked the bag with her name so I can make something special with her kid mohair. She's out in the cool rain now with the rest of the flock and must feel amazingly refreshed. Now she can grow another heavier coat before the snows come. With the big barn she will never have to get wet, important for angora goats who are hot weather animals.

Worn Out But Swimming in Wool

Another shearing day down, a few months to figure out what went well, what we need to work on, how we can get better organized. Tom Horton and his son, Michael, did a terrific job with the rather primitive conditions we shear in. One problem with using so many different shearers is not knowing what we need to provide and what they bring with them. Our last shearer, Jim Baldwin, brings his own raised platform. Tom wants us to provide the platform and somehow that wasn't mentioned in my phone call with him. Matt found two of the most gnarly, dirty ragged pieces of plywood I've ever seen, making it difficult of me, the sweeper, to get rid of the previous animals fiber. A raised platform helps keep hay and dirt out of the fleece. Somehow we made it work, and did we have to hustle! With two shearers going full tilt it was all I could do to get the bag ready, gather up the wool while trying to leave out the soiled and matted parts, sweep the board and get out of the way so Matt can hand over the next victim. Tom told me about a local shepherd who has a holding area where the sheep spend the night on a slotted floor so that any dirt and hay can fall through as they are milling around and it doesn't end up in the sheared fleece. This guy has chutes and runways AND his wife is a VET! Some people have it all figured out...Anyway, we survived. Matt has a new assistant, Trevor, who came later to help us give shots. Always good to have people we can pull in to help. Somehow I lost a giant roll of clear plastic bags in the middle of the melee, and had to use big black contractor bags to put my fleeces in. Made me crazy. Maybe it got trampled and buried...another reason to buy more hang up buckets to keep everything off the ground. My syringes were knocked over several times (I need some dose guns) but my camera came through okay. Now I have the awesome job of sorting through 50 odd fleeces. We did all the lambs, all the goat kids, and any big ones that had fleece three inches or longer. Last year was such a shearing disaster in terms of finding someone who would, or could, do the entire population of sheep and goats, so the fleeces are in a different stages. I plan on sorting through as many fleeces as I can to bring to Rhinebeck to sell as raw fleece. This is a market I have no yet tapped, foolishly, and want to take advantage of. Some of the lamb fleeces are so tiny they will fit in large zip lock bags. A cute picture and description inserted and there we go. I have some bigger fleeces that I think are show quality. I am disappointed in the lustre in some of them. Tom tells me to feed them oats for at least six weeks before shearing to give them more lustre. The sheep look big and healthy, just on grass. They were so happy to be able to scratch all those itchy spots under the wool. The goats look good, too, although I look forward to seperating them from the sheep so I can give them some goat-specific minerals. God bless Central New York. Tom comes from Towanda, northern central Pa., and says there is NO grass where he is. Nothing on the ground for them to eat. As I look out my window the fields are still bright green with lots more for them to munch on. Tom and his son are already scheduled to come back in March and do everybody. I let the crowd out of the barn and the goat flock ran up the hill, past the pond, and across the road. Matt went up in the truck and they ran back onto our land. We crawled back into the house after paying the guys and I heated up this morning's coffee to wash down the Aleve. Oh, my aching back. Matt is getting Stouffers veggie lasagna for dinner. Have to feed the bunnies and chickens, rest a bit, then do some sewing. A new Bill Mahre is on tonight...hope I make it.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Mommy, What's Happening?

The sheep are locked in the barn. They want to go out and graze but it's been raining on and off and shearers can't cut wet wool. I explain all this to them but they don't understand. We gave them bales of hay but nothing beats green grass. I turned out the lights so they would bed down. Tom Horton, a Vietnam Veteran and really good guy is coming, maybe with his son, a shearer in training the last time I saw him. Matt and I will have to work even faster if there are two shearers shearing. If I recall correctly, Tom does trim hoofs, usually my job. That will give me a couple of minutes to catch the next one, drag it to him, take the one that he's just sheared and give it shots and wormer in the mouth, then hustle to scoop up the wool and sweep off the platform for the next one. With a lot of sheep this can go on for hours. In a perfect world, and I read about people having this much help but I never have, there would be a team of helpers standing at a skirting table where they would pull out all the gnarly tags (sheep linger for pieces of manure), hay, burrs, and britch (the parts of the fleece at the bottom of the rear legs and thighs and belly wool. Only the good stuff would go in the bag. I have to sort it out later. I'm excited about all the beautiful wool I will have to play with!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Heat, Humidity, Sick as a Dog

Yuck, this weather is awful...the cold virus that I am just getting over is spreading through my school, and, according to Matt (who has access to more local news than I do) all of Brookfield. He came home from work, coughing, choking and sneezing with chills and sweats. Yep, that's it. I went to work because I didn't want to take any days off, and so many people there are sick anyway. Good thing I didn't because the shearer is coming Friday. That's going to be tough. Randy, my main hired man, is away and Matt is sick. If I cancel I don't know when he can come back. The sheep and goats need time to grow more hair back before it gets real cold. The most valuable kid mohair has a short life on the goat before it gets ruined from burrs and dirt. Situation normal here on the farm - desperate! Thor is in the dog house. He went over to Chris and Sister's house yesterday and hooked up - literally - with their female dog who was tied to their shed. Chris found them locked in their carnal embrace, untied her and retied her to our trailer, still with Thor attached. By the time I saw her, Thor was gone and I wondered why he did that. Was he giving me his dog? Matt went over and heard the bad news. He wants to tie Thor up all the time now, and fastened him to the picnic table on the hill side of the barn, near Finn and Knut. I sneaked out there before I went to bed and untied him. I can't have all my guard dogs tied up in the full moon when the coyotes are out. Guess I am going to have to make good on Thor's monkey business and pay for his girlfriend's operation...and get Thor liberated from his urges too.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Birthday Presents

A Happy Birthday surprise was waiting for me when I got home from work. Jan, my friend in NJ, soon to be my friend in Brookfield, sent me a "Bad Dog" calendar. Every day a new funny doggie picture. I love stuff like this. The calendar was wrapped in critter paper, with a home-made critter card. That's so Jan! For years I had Far Side calendars. Don't know why I haven't had any in recent years. I guess whoever was giving them to me stopped. This Bad Dog calendar will do just fine. The moon was full and beautiful tonight, even more so than last night. Matt wasn't in the mood to walk - again. His loss.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Mismatched Chickens

Remember the Mismatched Chickens with the teeny tiny mother? Look at how they are growing up. Their mother is almost hidden behind them. They are Silver Laced Wyandottes. I found their real mother dead in the barnyard and I was sorely pained about losing her. I suspected Tanner, who has been spanked several times for "playing" with the chickens, but she wouldn't confess. I have it in mind to order some more Silver Laced Wyandottes and Buff Orpingtons in the spring. I have many tiny little Bantams now but do so admire those great big buxom girls. Have to order another Murray McMurray Hatchery catalogue out of Iowa. Terrific birds, they have. Oh, and I will certainly order some geese for my Hannah, who is totally enthralled with goose eggs. I am impressed with them, too. That's a whole lotta egg that comes out of those beauties!

A Walk in the Moonlight

The days are getting shorter and I have to get up the hill earlier. The moon was on the rise when I took the doggies up to the pond tonight. They didn't mind at all, I think they liked it better in the dark. Every once in a while they hear some kind of varmint making a noise in the woods on the ridge and take off, barking and snarling at some perceived threat to their territory. Little Velvet followed us half way up, then kept looking toward the flock way up on the hill in the other direction. She decided to join them...guess she is growing up. Sister Grace is threatening to put her in the stew pot. Velvet keeps squeezing through the fence to go over to Sister's yard and nibble on the bushes. I think Velvet is just trying to be neighborly and do some trimming for Sister, but she was NOT amused. Sister wants me to tie Velvet up, but I don't think so. I threw the ball for Bodie and Holly for a while, then came back down to do chores. There is a Neil Young special on TV. Oh, he looks so old, but oh, he is soooo good. I feel like I grew up with him, looking for that Heart of Gold...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Tommy Boy

Tommy Boy was removed from the harem today. He is living in the pen behind the barn now with several other boys. He has crippled two billy goats who tried to get near his girls. I left them in with the does, as they are not in good enough shape to mount the girls. He is so gorgeous and photogenic, with his piercing blue eyes and magnificent rack. We managed to get a few limpers' hooves trimmed and checked out some others. The goat kids have some very nice mohair, which will be collected when the shearer comes on Friday.

The War

Just finished watching the first installment of Ken Burn's "The War." Wow, what terrific footage. Matt and I were riveted to the TV. His father followed Patton around Europe. He was 25 when he enlisted, so old they made him a sergeant - and pulled out all his "Irish" teeth. He went to war with a set of brand new dentures. My mom, and her sister, and her two brothers all enlisted together. My grandmother had four stars in her window. I have one in my window right now. The girls became Army nurses, the boys became infantry soldiers. Billy fought in the Battle of the Bulge and Fred went island hopping in the Pacific. My mother had never crossed the Georgia state line prior to joining the Army. The Army sent my father to a language institute at Princeton Univ. where he learned to speak six languages in a year, including Arabic. He was in Army Intelligence and never saw combat. I think he was a spy. I was raised on all their war stories. I know that's why I wanted to be a history major in college. I enjoyed it thoroughly, and found most other courses meaningless. My mother and father were stationed in Munich just after Liberation and lived there for two years. My brothers learned German as a first language. They came home to the USA just in time to have me. My father was a NYC police lieutenant and stayed in the Army Reserve. He was the best shot in the country with a 45 caliber pistol for a while and we travelled around to various Army bases so he could shoot. We lived in tent cities and breathed in the DDT sprayed into the tents by a guy with a hose on a jeep driving through. I remembered latrines with long lines of toilets and no dividers, mess halls and reverie at dawn. It was all very cool at the time, and made me feel a part of the military without ever feeling any discomfort. My two boys joined the Army, entirely on their own with no encouragement from me - but when they did I was so very proud.

Seperating the Boys

Today we are seperating the intact boys from the flock. It's long overdue. I would have done it myself but many of the boys are 250 plus pounds and they don't come quietly. Matt has been putting me off and using the Russian Roulette principle of sheep keeping...the fact that ram sperm is killed by high temperatures. We have had temps spike to over 90F. many times over the last few weeks, and technically that should render the boys sterile for around six weeks. The first cool night triggers an instinct to breed and the boys have been mounting the girls like drunken sailors in port for 24 hours before going back to sea to be torpedoed by Nazi submarines. We are banking on them shooting blanks. Come January 15 when it is 20 below zero and I hear the baby monitor making noise, I am going to plant my foot firmly in the middle of Matt's back and give a good push. This has always been my job, since this whole sheep thing was my idea and I take full responsibility, BUT I wanted this year to be different. Granted, we can have snow here in upstate New York through May, but I would be less likely to face that initial blast of frigid cold and ice, like I did stumbling out of that little trailer every few hours a night last winter. I am living in the barn now and won't have far to travel to get to the sheep, but cold is cold, and getting a new mom situated with the babe or babies takes some time. I may be worrying for nothing. Maybe they are shooting blanks. We'll know around January 15.

Ahhh, the Weekend

What utter, sheer bliss to be able to roll out of bed and have your only immediate worry be getting the dogs out before they pee on the floor. It's 48 F. and a sunny first day of fall is blossoming. I fix the coffee pot so I can flip the switch as the dogs pull me out the door. Pip is leashed again because Sister Grace says her cats are afraid to come out of their house. Don't want to risk the wrath of Sister Grace (remember what happened to the Blues Brothers?). The sight of us busting out of the barn door draws Thor over, snarling and spouting. His head is as big as a Volkswagen, and I'm a little scared until he rolls over and shows me his belly. When we got back in I took the basket of kittens living in the guest room on my lap and played with them for a while. I can barely remember life without cats. They are the most amazing, prolific creatures. Yesterday I saw a tiny little kitten, growling viciously under her breath, with the rear legs and tail of a mouse sticking out the back of her mouth. For years I had a group of cats who were never allowed outside. I considered doing that here, by putting a door on one of the hay mows to keep them in. But it's tough to do that on a farm. There are holes everywhere in this old 20,000 square foot barn. The cats have the run of the place and have kept the rats at bay. An Irish teacher I worked with in NJ, who lived in Manhattan all her life and was very familiar with rats, told me that if we have mice that's a good sign - rats and mice don't run together. Imagine that, a Manhattanite teaching me about rats and mice. We had quite a pidgeon population when we first moved in. They roosted on the uppermost peak of the roof, way, way up high. The kitties even got rid of them, banishing them to one of the silos, then going to work on them in there. I don't hear the echoes of pidgeons cooing. We live a little close to the road for my liking. Sure it's fine for getting your truck out to go to work, but I have always wanted a "mile long" driveway. I think that's the ultimate in privacy and country living. Before the road was changed, this farm had a mile long driveway. Chris Kupris pointed out that horses would never want to pull wagons up the steep hill nearby on the way to Brookfield. The road was down by the creek, across the hayfields. Makes sense to me, the creek water follows the path of least resistance. A couple of my cats have been run over by cars, making me absolutely crazy. I can count the cars and trucks that go by here every day on the fingers of my hands, yet they manage to run over my cats. There are thousands of road free acres behind me, yet the kitties go for the road. I wonder if they hear the cars coming, then wait to run across when the car is upon them, like a deadly game. I need the kitties in the tractor shed to keep rats out of my storage boxes and wool. The shed is right on the road. That's Lydia's domain. She loves it in there. I keep a bucket of her favorite kitty feed and water in there, in hopes that she won't cross the road to go hunting down by the creek. Chris tells me she hops over to his yard to catch chipmunks to eat. I didn't want to hear that...

Friday, September 21, 2007

Friday Night Euphoria, almost...

After a five day work week I am experiencing the Friday night euphoria. I just want to stay up all night and spin wool, watch movies, scratch my dog's ears, play with kitties, listen to the White Boys bark, check my email for messages that don't come fast enought, etc. etc. BUT I am so sleepy my head fell back while I was holding the wool and treadling. I guess it's time to go to bed. My Yahoo mail has gone berserk, with the sign in page flashing on and off so I can't even type my user name and password. I've pressed all the help tabs I can find - nothing. Rebooted several times. The other email account, which I never use, works okay. SO anyone wanting to contact me this weekend please use: Or leave a message on the blog. OR call me at 315-899-8220. I will be home all weekend skirting fleeces, making soap, sewing bags, sweeping the barn floor, feeding or chasing critters, and the endless cooking and washing of my husband's clothes. I wonder what would happen if I came home from work and walked in the door and said, "HONEY!! I'M HUNGRY!!!!" Hmmmm, food for thought, pardon the pun. Wouldn't it be nice to open my dresser drawer and see a row of freshly laundered, folded panties in a row. Ain't gonna happen. But then Matt likes to point out the fact that he is the one to pull the lid off the septic tank and pump it out, or crawl under the truck in the mud or snow to fix something, or kill a sick or crippled critter that needs killing. He definitely has a point there...

Computer Blues, Processing Blues

When my son, AJ, got his National Guard signing bonus he bought me a new computer. That was three years ago. I think it's kaput. It is giving me all kinds of fits. I can't log on to my email and it's Friday night. All weekend with no email? It's enough to send me into some kind of withdrawal. And my blog? The thought of not documenting my existence for three days until I can get back into my school computer was almost too much to deal with. Then I succeeded in logging on to my blog through Frontier net, which comes with the phone company. So the problem is my Yahoo. Could it be the fact that I have almost 3,000 pieces of mail in the inbox? I bought more space from Yahoo. Kelly tried to show me how to put things in folders, but I must have been thinking about sheep, or wool, or soap at the time. It didn't stick. My special ed director gave me a brand new Dell lap top, which, coincidentally, only works in one corner of one classroom in the school. I will bring that home and plug it in here. The keys are so tiny I can hardly type, but at least I can get my email. So here we are. It was HOT today. Great for the people who are getting their hay in...but tractorless me is not doing that. I still think I should have gone down to John Deere and leased a tractor, but Matt said no. All the farmers with multiple tractors around here and we couldn't find a single person to cut and bale our hay. We are still trying. I want to believe them when they say they are just too busy. I hope that's all it is...I have a lot to do this weekend, including cutting out more bags and making some buttons. Matt is out bidding a job in West Winfield, only half an hour from here. A lady with a beauty parlor wants to change her house into a B and B. She had three contractors come and take a look but none of them even called her back. Enter Matt...I'm keeping my fingers crossed. I'm hoping he doesn't have to go back to NJ to work this winter. My cold is going away and I am coughing up the residual gunk. Good riddance. The goats and a few sheep showed up this morning after staging an escape last night. I wonder if coyotes scared them into coming home. I am washing yarn I had spun by Duck Flats Farm. I'm not impressed. I wanted to support a member of my sheep club from NJ but after sending her beautiful roving it came back a dark, muddy color with a tinge of purple. Don't know who would buy this stuff. There are many unspun spots. She gave it to Matt at GSSB and told him the short fibers gave her trouble. Hmmmm, I think that is a common complaint of processors when things don't go well. There were plenty of nice, long BFL fibers in this roving. The skeins were rock hard to the touch. I don't think she washed them before giving them back to me. I have them soaking in the bathtub now and will try to "full" them myself, which requires whacking them against something hard to fluff up the fibers. The giant lot of dyed and natural colored wool and angora I sent to Zeilingers to bring to me in Vermont is a disappointment too. They SHREDDED the beautiful long fibers. It looks like mattress stuffing. It took me a week to sort, pick, wash, dye, wash again and dry that fiber...AND a lot of money to send it to them. All to save on the return postage because they were going to Vermont Sheep and Wool and so was I. I keep trying to lower my carbon footprint by using people who are closer and can deliver processed wool to me, but Deb McDermott in Michigan still reigns supreme as the best spinner, in my humble opinion. Can't wait to get my sock order from her. OH, how I wish I could afford my own equipment, but that doesn't look likely in my lifetime.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Goaties Are Gone

This nagging head cold won't let go - sore throat, sinus, etc. The air circulation in my wing of the school is poor, and the weather is warm, not pleasant. Gretchen had a bottle of some kind of daytime cold medicine which helped a bit. When I got home and was able to be outside in the fresh air I felt a LOT better. Got another fleece out to skirt. Gosh, this BFL wool is luscious...just MAHvelous...I want to put it up to my face to inhale it. Matt was in a good mood tonight so we walked up the hill together with the dogs. The sheep and goats were all up by the pond, running ahead of us as we climbed. The moon was on the rise and the air was cooling down. The view up there would do wonders for anybody's head. Bodie is doing much better and swimming for the ball himself now, with Holly standing by just in case. We meandered down with little Velvet at my heels. Made a nice salad for Matt with left over pizza, followed by a giant bowl of Death by Chocolate. Works wonders for his mood. Jackie, my Fat Old Beagle, has been scratching like crazy, pounding that back leg all night long the last couple of nights, driving us nuts. I think he might be allergic to the flea spray I put on him. I ran a bath with a little eucalyptus oil and scrubbed him stem to stern with my Tea Tree with Lavender Soap. He took it rather well considering I don't remember ever giving him a bath in the 10 years we've had him. Once Matt lifted his incredible bulk out of the big tub Jackie ran around the living room on those stubby legs and rubbed himself on anything he could find. It was so funny. The tub was filled with little black gnarly hairs and Jackie goo. The tub will get a good scrubbing before I will get in it tomorrow morning. Matt went out to bring the sheep in and couldn't find the goats. They've disappeared, probably bedded down up the hill or in the orchard. There is a thick fog and we're afraid of coyotes taking advantage of an easy meal or two. The llamas and dogs are out there, but the coyotes don't always make noise and let it be known they are around. They hit and run. Little Velvet stays close with the dogs but the goat herd goes anywhere and everywhere. Matt took the truck out to shine the head lights over the field, but with this fog it's doubtful he will see anything. Hopefully the morning light will show them next to the barnyard fence, waiting to be let in.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Time to Make Product

The high from the last shows is faded and it's time to get back to work. I have a nasty cold which I need to shake. Now I know how my poor kitties felt with their sneezes and runny noses. I think it has just about run it's course through the kitty colony. I am still giving amoxicillin and eye ointment to two or three and they seem to be responding. I am feeding them a lot to get them fattened up for winter. They have shelter but it gets cold, cold, cold in the barn. I need to make more soap, melt soap for shaving kits, make more hand cream, sew a lot more bags, get prints made of some recent pictures and old favorites and get fiber out to the carder. One man bought five rooster pictures for a grouping in his Victorian house. He never thought he would like raising chickens but now is totally enthralled with his roosters. Deb McDermott got in touch to tell me my sock order is ready. Yippee! Now I will have socks for NY Sheep and Wool for Rhinebeck but I have to pay her for them...very costly. They do sell, fortunately, even though every alpaca breeder seems to have socks to sell. This year's socks are cream colored, just like my creamy llama, Breeze. Now I have to get a picture of Breeze and ask Kelly to make another label for me. The hand cream sold very well last weekend. People told me they liked the grittiness (big relief)so I am psyched. I have lots of beeswax but need to order more shea butter and jojoba oil. It seems I always have to spend money to make money - except for the bags. I have a small fortune of fabric. OH, and I have to make more buttons for bags and find cedar shims for the bottoms. Yes, I will be a busy girl this next month. We have to fix broken windows in the barn and milk room and deal with water issues, like the clogged drain that makes washing wool a problem. My kitties go swimming in dirty water - yuck! I have lots of things for them to jump up on but they are more likely to play with the swelling pool and bat it with their paws. And then there is the hay issue - always more hay. Yes, hay is life.

Heavenly Commute

I went from jammed six lane highways where accidents were commonplace to vistas like this to and from work. Sometimes I just can't believe how beautiful it is around here. Ofcourse, you have to wonder about the zoning that allows big tin cans (trailers) to be put up next to Victorian homes in the quaint villages...but after having spent the winter in a tin can myself I am reluctant to criticize. Home is wherever you put your head at night and keep your critters warm and dry.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Pumpkins of Love

When my kids were little, and not so little, we always made a big deal out of carving pumpkins for Halloween. When Mia was travelling up here to run the farm she passed some pumpkin stands. I dragged my weary behind in from Fingerlakes on Sunday night and found a Jack-O-Lantern aglow with candlelight highlighting a moon and stars. Mia knows what I like! She wrote a sweet note on top of the pumpkin. I thought I better take a picture quickly, as little Velvet thinks the pumpkin is very delicious. Am I a lucky mom or what?!

Wooly Kitties

The day was so lovely when I got home from work I spent some time skirting a couple of lambs fleeces. The kitties jumped up to help me. The activity, warm sun, and pungent smell of the lanolin in the sunwarmed wool helped me destress from too much work and worry. The trees on the ridge on slowly starting to turn, and soon we will be enjoying a breathtaking colorscape in our own back yard.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Fingerlakes Day Two

After the pot luck dinner I made my little bed in the back seat of the F150. I can stretch out my toes and just touch the door, perfect fit. It was pitch black dark in the field and quiet except for the voices of the lingerers at the dinner. I settled in for the first complete 7 hour sleep I've had in a very long time...but that meant I woke up at 5 am while it was still dark. Nature called, I ignored it, but soon it became imperative that I exit the warm truck. The temperature had dropped significantly and I jumped down to the grass to make myself more comfortable. It is my habit to check out the night sky quite often, and I gasped at what I saw...Venus was positively gigantic and twinkling like a huge diamond. I've never seen anything like it. My first thought was of the Three Wise Men who followed the star to the manger with baby Jesus. Surely they saw something like this. My second thought was of Alec Guinness in Star Wars..."That's not a star - that's a space station!" As cold as it was, I stood on the edge of the cab and watched the shiny planet in all it's celestial splendor before crawling into my bed. Jan had recently given me a down comforter and it was my salvation that night. I couldn't go back to sleep, so I looked at the Princess Diana book AJ gave me for a while with my little Mag light, then went back to a wonderful sleep. I woke up groggy at 8 and was glad the windows were foggy to hide my bedroom. I had changed into the clothes I was going to wear on Sunday before I went to bed so I got up and went to get washed up. The doors to the Ag building were open so I brought my wheel back into my booth and got the booth tidied up for the day ahead. I wandered over to the big Exhibition Building to check out the booths of the women I ate dinner with the night before and marvelled over all the beautiful weavings and other hand made things (along with the "imported" yarn). I had a nice chat with Lisa Merian, who I have not had contact with in quite a while. Vendors were shopping so I thought I better get over to my booth and settle in for the day. Sales were brisk and I was very pleased. My good friend, Laticia, arrived with her husband and brought my two Robin wheels back to me. We had a nice chat and a few hugs and I wished her luck on her upcoming surgery. The afternoon chugged along and sales were steady. I was thrilled when other fiber vendors bought my fiber - the ultimate validation! I was glad I had a good breakfast at one of the food trailers that morning because I couldn't get away from the booth all day. I was gasping for coffee all afternoon but it was not to be. I ran outside and peed on the grass behind a truck because I didn't have time to walk across the fairgrounds to the portopotty. Finally it was four and time to pack up. Took me two hours. I confess I was a bit envious when the Village Yarn Shop husbands came in as a team and packed up their wives' business with impressive efficiency. I nabbed one of them to back my trailer up to the ag building so I could get my heavy tables in without dragging them across the parking lot. When I was finally ready I said goodbye to Phylleri in the next building. She was far from finished and I wanted to stay and help her but if I didn't get on the road I wouldn't have any time to talk to Mia when I got home. Ditto with Lisa Merian. I stopped to say goodbye to her and she was still packing up her enormous booth. Gassed up and headed toward the NY Thruway. My quasi cell phone Matt got me did not have enough minutes left to call home. I had been out of touch all weekend. I headed home in heavy traffic and hoped for the best. Pulled into a rest area just in time for the manager to pull the steel curtain closed in front of the Starbucks store. No coffee all day! Three and a half hours home safe and sound. I hadn't taken out any toll booths or gas pumps with the trailer and I had a wad-o-cash to show for weeks of hard work. Matt had a good weekend at Garden State Sheep Breeders, where, he tells me, many people asked about me and how I was making out on the farm. Mia had held down the Farm admirably as she always does. We talked until midnight or so then I had to go off to bed to get up for work. What a transition from non-stop chatting and selling all day to trapped in the classroom watching other people teach. Oh well, that's my job. Came home hoping for a good meal to top off the successful weekend but it was not to be. I haven't had a decent meal in weeks, it seems, and after giving Matt all the money I made to put in the bank I hadn't kept any for myself to stop and buy something to eat. He had given me the mortgage money and told me to pay it in Norwich before coming home. Mia was gone and Matt wasn't around. It was kind of a let down after such a good show as I had hoped to go out or meet for dinner. Waited a while and played with the critters, took the dogs out, let the sheep out, looked for wool in the tractor shed with the next show in mind, then finally made a pot of rice with a can of kidney beans poured over it. Yuck, Yuck, Yuck. What a let down. Matt wandered in and told me he had not even been to work that day. He was making arrangements for Jan and Dave's perk test across the road. He had even been in Norwich and could have paid the mortgage and picked up dinner. I was kind of annoyed that I had no idea what he was doing or where he was. He likes it that way...I am stuck in the school where he always knows where I am but I never know where he is. With no cell phones he has complete freedom of movement and can leave the job site whenever he wants. He never calls me at work and I can't call him. Can you tell I am not happy with this arrangement?

Fingerlakes Fiber Festival

My fibery weekend was a terrific success. I was just a bit nervous setting out in the wee hours after three hours sleep, pulling a trailer in pouring rain, passing trucks on the New York Thruway. I am blissfully ignorant of the principles of physics but was still scared to pass all those trucks with that trailer behind me. I pulled into the fairgrounds around 7:30 and managed to pull up to the door of my building without the dreaded backing up. My new space was perfect, I was thrilled to find it in the corner of the Ag barn, a spacious and well lit building which lets a lot of light in. I had all the room I needed for my big sign and racks, along with Martha's gorgeous, gigantic baskets for my fiber. Gosh, I feel right at home out there in western New York. There were lots of farmer women with weathered faces and confident demeanors, unloading their livestock and wares. When the gates opened up the customers poured in. Many of the patrons come from the Rochester area and what a nice bunch of folks who appreciate good wool and fine crafting. I had made a good deal of soap but there was no chance to wrap it. One person moaned and complained but most people bought it without a comment, just ooohs and aaahhs. I sold a dozen shaving blocks, too. Everything I make was validated in some way. I even sold a $100, 10 ounce skein of handspun to a lady from Rochester. She was thrilled and so was I. That sale was enough to keep me spinning for years! A rug hooker/psychologist vendor bought my huge spinning wheel bag to carry around her rug hooking frame and accoutrement. Only sold two other bags but there was a lot of stroking and longing. One lady came back three times, then again with her husband, but he was not impressed. She took my card and walked wistfully away. I wanted to tell her, take it and pay me when you can, but I did that once before and am still waiting (two years later) and I have a lot of mouths to feed! There was a small gathering at the pot luck supper with some long time hard core fiber show veterans. I brought my garden fresh green beans stewed with wine and tomatoes but they were not a hit. My friend, Phylleri's, goat cheese was, along with the blacksmith's lamb stew (not my cup of tea). I listened to their discussions about this show and that show and was disappointed to hear that many of them buy their yarn and dye it instead of raising it themselves. One woman's husband had a stroke and she let go of her angora flock. She buys her mohair yarn from South Africa now. Another woman's husband "got sick of taking care of" her Merino's and she buys her yarn from Henry's Attic instead. It made me realize how special it is to raise one's own fiber, from happy sheep. I don't want to buy wool from a flock that was slaughtered for meat after days on a truck. Yikes! I started telling people who came to look at my roving that it comes from Happy, Well Cared For Sheep. Don't know if that had an effect but they did buy quite a bit.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Math Class Blues

My four 10th graders just took their first math quiz amidst grumbles and curses under the breath, sometimes not so under their breath. This lap top is handy, a little too handy, to have in class. I can sneak a blog post in here and there, but no pictures yet. Have to download some pix on it soon. The keys are so sensitive and tiny I keep making typos with my big klutzy fingers. My Swedish Opa had gigantic hands and I think I got big hands from him...along with my big Swedish skull. Little Luke has a big round peasant head, just like his Omi.

Kelly, my friend the special ed. aide, didn't show up for work today. Wait until I get ahold of her. Here I am the one who has to go home, load the truck and do chores, get a couple of hours sleep then drive three hours to the Hemlock Festival, unload and set up, then be happy smiling vendor all day. I would have loved to stay home today, but I just couldn't do it the first full week of school. What if I can't get home on Sunday and have to call in on Monday? Besides, I am used to pushing myself until I am hallucinating with fatigue. My face is beginning to show it. I looked in the mirror last night and what I saw was scary! I am getting OLD before my time. If Matt and Dave Strack ever get their business going I am going to retire from the show circuit and sell fleeces over the internet. But that requires Dave and Jan selling their palace in New Jersey, and the real estate market won't wake up, in all likelihood, for two years. Still can't believe it hasn't sold, it's the perfect yuppie family house, artfully situated on a beautiful culdesac on top of a hill...but no takers, not even lookers. They are practically giving it away and it still doesn't sell. The economy is in bad shape, people are really struggling. My mortgage broker sheep friend Donna Carlstrom told me we are in a recession nobody wants to talk about. She was a top performer at her broker firm now she is working part time at Macy's at night and spinning wool for people every spare minute. After this weekend I should be able to sit and spin a bit (sell the yarn at Rhinebeck) which will relax me. Up until midnight again last night putting together shaving kits. The clove oil soap is terrific, bathed with it this morning. I cooked it just enough so all the scraps melted together, then added just the right amount of clove oil. Very fallish...I escaped into Gretchen's room where she was watching Monty Python with her GED kids. I have one of her students on my list so I was technically "working" but having way too much fun. I forgot how hilarious and entertaining MP is, with the horseless knights and the coconut knaves following along. Off to lunch, the day is going by quickly. Thunderstorms forecast for tonight so I will probably lie down for a couple of hours then drive to Hemlock in the wee hours. Did that once and drove all the way to VMI to attend graduation and pick up Eric. Took 8 hours...three is much more manageable but hard work when I get there. At least I can sit and spin a bit. Jan scolded me once for sitting down too much in the booth. She has no idea...

Thursday, September 13, 2007

So Much Going On

I am preparing to leave for the Hemlock Festival while Matt goes south to the Garden State Sheep Breeders Festival in New Jersey. We started splitting my goods into two show's worth, not an easy task. I have to make sure he has signs, tape, scissors, bags, enough wool, yarn, soap, cards, display equipment, on and on. Coming on the heels of the Vermont show last weekend, it's tough. And all the critters need just as much attention, somehow more when they sense something is going on. Nurse Mia is coming to babysit, lovely for them because she will pay more attention to them than even I would and make several hikes up the hill with the band of doggies if I know her. Poor little Holly is spending the night at the vet's office, ready to be spayed tomorrow. She came into heat three weeks ago and although I watched her carefully I think she sneaked out to the White Boys when I didn't know it. Don't want to take any chances with Miss Holly. I want her to keep her girlish figure and I don't need any more puppy mouths to feed. The kitties are getting better after the cold virus made it's way through the feline population here. I carried eye drops with me around the barn and snatched them up for treatment whenever I could catch them. Luckily, no more injections needed - cats are really hard to shoot! I hope the weather holds out for my trip three to four hours west. I don't want to pull the trailer so everything will be in the back of the truck in tubs. I hate setting up and taking down but it has to be done. With all this insanity I still took the dogs up to the pond tonight. It's so beautiful up there, on the brink of fall with a nip in the air. I fear frost is coming and Sister Grace wants me in the garden to pick green tomatoes. I can't help her until next week. We are on a downhill slide to winter. I love cold weather and careful what you wish for!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Stay Awake

I have ten more minutes to go before I can get out of this hot, windowless room. There are other classrooms where I can hang out after the kids leave and get a glimpse of the hills and sky, but those teachers have things to do and I am more comfortable in my little corner where I don't have to be sociable. I'm having a terrible time getting used to being closed in all day. I was up late cutting soap last night and would run out of the barn every once in a while to check out the sheep, dogs, llamas, sky, etc. A cloud settled right down on top of the barn and I was standing in a swirling mist. A little creepy, and I thought for sure I would have a sighting of Lydia, but no deal. She will appear to me when I least expect it and I will be scared out of my wits. When I collect myself she will disappear, I know it. Anyway, next year we will move to the new addition and I will probably have a window. Gretchen, next class over, has a lovely courtyard with ornamental shrubs grown to glorious maturity, that will probably be torn down and paved over. I cringe at the thought. Tonight I will rush home and, after saying hello to all the creatures, get to work on finishing some bags. Whoops, time to go...I'm free for the night!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Happy Birthday Gretchen With the Red Vest

Gretchen Dana Hoag is 26 years old today. She is my colleague and next class neighbor at the DCMO BOCES Career Academy. Gretchen teaches Social Studies to our kids and GED to kids who didn't make it in high school and just want to take the test and get a diploma. Gretchen has a Master's Degree and is a very smart girl. She could teach anywhere she wants but she's happy working with this very needy population. Her classes are a lot of fun, as Gretchen is very animated and frequently punctuates her lectures with wild yahoos! and woo-woo's! and hee haws!, along with jumping up in the air and landing in front of a student whose attention might be waning, or when she wants to make a point. Gretchen is good at anything se touches. I brought in my spinning wheel and she just sat down and started spinning. Then she started knitting and was making cables lickedy split. That's just the way it is with Gretchen. Gretchen stocks her desk with all kinds of goodies like chocolate, candies and energy bars. She makes a pot of coffee every day, and, let me tell you, sometimes Gretchen's coffee throws me the life line I need. She even buys extra bold Starbucks for me. Gretchen's parents are life-long New York residents, descended from colonials. She is the first college educated person in her family and is quick to point out that she makes more than either of her parents ever did in the factories they work in. (All in an effort to inspire her students to stay in school.) I love working with Gretchen. She always has a big smile on her face when I poke my head through the door, and makes me feel welcome when I hole up in her classroom for a few minutes before lunch. Her desk is piled high with history books I like to look at, ready to slide off on to the floor at any second. Gretchen loves movies and has an enviable collection of DVD's she is willing to share with her friends. Gretchen loves purses and handbags so I decided to make her one for her birthday. It's only big enough for a water bottle and bank card I told her, and she added, "And a book!"

Let's See if I Can Show You Some Pictures

Okay, so this machine is not cooperating with the pictures I wanted to show you today. Let's give it another try! I have to get out there and walk the White Boys. A big thunderstorm just blew through and I think it's clearing. I asked Matt to help me with some shots, and had everything ready when he got home from work. Poor Matt, he had the remainder of his big toenail removed yesterday and he was kind of skipping around the wet field trying to catch the sheep I pointed out to him. Izzy tried to catch them himself and would grab a mouthful of wool and hang on. He went for a ride, ofcourse, but was very proud of himself. I told Matt to forget it - I don't need my main farm hand with a broken the meantime, Izzy had cornered one of the goats I wanted to doctor in a corner of the barn! We got her done so the effort was not totally thwarted. That think I said no, I didn't want him. That little dog has the heart of a champ - and he still warms my side of the bed for me every night. I lift the covers and there he is!

Pokeberry Time

When I pulled in after work today I couldn't help but notice the pokeberries lining the driveway along the barn. I will pick them before the birds eat them all. The berries make a lovely dye color. Sometimes the wool turns yellow, sometimes pink, sometimes red, depending on a variety of things ranging from amount of rain to the alignment of the planets ( I like to think! ) I boil the berries, then strain the juice to get the pits out. I use vinegar as a mordant to make the dye stick. So much to do to get ready for this big show weekend, then a month off before New York State Sheep and Wool at Rhinebeck, my biggest and favorite show of the year.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Back from Vermont

We arrived home in the wee hours last night and somehow I made it to work today. It was touch and go, with frequent nodding off. AJ had to make a 9 AM dental apt. in Morristown and left after only a couple of hours sleep. The weekend was great, and spending so much time with AJ was just terrific. He was so pleasant and helpful the whole time, and did a masterful job of setting up and loading the trailer to go home. We pulled into the the Champlain Valley Expo Center in the wee hours of Sat. morning and parked the truck in the middle of a giant pitch black dark parking lot. AJ slept in the bed of my F150 on his Army bed roll and I made my little bed in the back seat of the cab. I can stretch out my legs across the seat and sleep just fine. I had the primo booth spot of the whole festival, and good stuff to sell, but the crowds were not in a spending mood. Lots of cute artsy Vermonty families came with their little kids to see the sheep and llamas. My soap saved me, as it so often does. Soap sales were steady all weekend. I made booth fee, gas and food cost, and came home with enough to buy some cat and dog food and give AJ a little to fill up his tank to go back to NJ. I remember when this festival was held in October and the leaf peepers would come with their pockets full of cash and spend, spend, spend. For the life of me I don't understand why the festival people changed the date. I have to admit I didn't hear any complaining from my neighbors. I truly think these Vermont people don't care about money. They were there to rub elbows with other fiber people and have a weekend away from the farm. Maybe they don't have as many mouths to feed as I do! Oh, Well, AJ and I had a lovely time together. How many mothers get to spend a whole weekend with their 27 year old single sons? We went down to the docks in Burlington, drank frozen daiquiris and ate dinner while watching the sunset. Music was playing and people were laughing and the worries of the farm were a million miles away. When the light show was over we climbed the hill into the center of town and walked around Church Street. It was one big party, with UVM students all around, street performers, and people sitting in outdoor cafes. I wanted to hang out all night but we could hardly put one foot in front of the other, having three hours of sleep the night before. I crawled into my little bed in the truck and had the best night sleep I'd had in weeks. AJ slept great under the stars. He was supposed to be participating in a National Guard drill at Fort Irwin in the high desert of California, but my dutiful son came to the aid of his mother. At the previous drill, his Army unit arrived in the desert, got everything set up and secure then bedded down for the night. After 45 minutes of sleep the CO woke them up and they all went on a forced march the rest of the night...I suspect that was one reason AJ was happy to fly east to help his mother! I got the White Boys up to the pond tonight, bunnies and kitties are fed, kitty boxes are clean and I am about to cut up soap. I am off to the Fingerlakes Fiber Festival this weekend in Hemlock, New York, only three hours away instead of six, thankfully. Matt will be taking my products to the Garden State Sheep Breeders Festival in NJ at the same time. Nurse Mia is coming to run the farm and get a little R and R before she starts her RN job at the hospital where she was born. I have so much to do in the next three days it scares me to think about just work, don't think!

Friday, September 07, 2007

Off to Vermont

My incredibly good-natured son, AJ, is here and we are loading up to head out to Vermont. I'm leaving Matt with a big job - sick cats and a lot of mouths to feed. Still, he is ecstatic at not having to take me there himself. I have a load of beautiful bags and great fiber, along with soap, hand creme, photo cards and a positive attitude. God willing, we will get there in the wee hours then get some shut eye in the truck and set up at 7 am when the building opens. It's hot as Hades here and we're looking forward to some cooler weather. Didn't manage to get myself a new boom box so there will be no music in my booth and I will miss it. Anyhow, there will no blogs for a couple of days. Come to see us at Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival at the Champlain Valley Expo in Essex Junction, just outside of Burlington!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

I'm Tired

My mother used to call me lazy. She said I didn't know the meaning of hard work. I think I do now. We unloaded three more hay wagons tonight, 125 bales each in 90 degree weather...and that was after rushing home from work to grab a sick kitty and driving another 15 miles to the vet. Almost all my little ones have a cold virus. I should be giving penicillin shots and eye drops to them all, but there is no way I can do all that, and my chores, and pack for Vermont. Farming is all about pushing one's self to the limits of human endurance anyway, but darn it I am tired. I sure hope people come out to this show. Last year it was a bust for us but I like the folks up there in Vermont and I wanted to give it one more year. I am anxious to display all the nice bags I made this summer. There was not time to wrap soap so I am putting it out naked and making a sign, Farm Fresh Soap. We'll see how that works. Have to go outside, hike up the hill and drive the sheep down to the barnyard. Then I am going to hit the sack and not move until the alarm goes off at six. AJ is coming to take me to Vermont. The plan was to unload the cargo trailer and sleep in it - but we will get there too late to unload and will have to sleep in the cab of the truck. I can just fit across the two seats but AJ will have to sleep folded up. Not what I had planned. Saturday night will be better.

Second Day Down

Work was better today...the kids came in and we are settling down to a routine. The academic teachers get the ball rolling and I simply watch and wait for the kids assigned to me to need some help. I have to get my act together in terms of getting work with a dry head (can't wash my hair at 7:30 and expect it to dry in the truck) and thinking about what to wear the night before instead of ten minutes before I should leave. I'll get it in gear...maybe. I just made lotion until it was time to put the sheep to bed. Now it's time to drag my behind to bed and hope the alarm doesn't ring for a long, long time.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Milky Way

Don't know if it's the unloading of three wagons of hay yesterday, or only getting four hours sleep, or sitting in a dusty construction zone, or listening to union reps telling us we are not going to get a contract this year, or whatever, but I am zonked. Rushed home to find hungry kitties and happy doggies, sheep lined up to go out and graze, everybody wanted attention and all I wanted to do was lie down. Somehow I got it together and took care of everybody, made dinner, walked the doggie pack up to the pond, fed the bunnies, chickens and cats again, did laundry and cut up soap until 11:30. Then I went out to put the sheep to bed and marvelled at the sky. The Milky Way is clear as a bell tonight. I leaned up against the silo and looked straight up. No moon and zillions of stars. I saw two shooting stars within five minutes. The silo held me up long enough to take in this spectacular show, and for a moment, with little Bridie and Velvet nuzzling up against my legs, there was no job that requires leaving the farm, no bills, no aches and pains, no missing my kids. I was in heaven. Had to come inside to write it down before the euphoria fades and I fall into bed.

Trapped Once Again

Here I am in my windowless classroom...with not a single natural fiber anywhere to be seen. Just got my desk cleaned with clorox and water, wiped off the computer, file cabinets, etc. and thought I would limber up the key board. My mailbox was filled with manilla envelopes I need to go through. We had a welcome back meeting after bagels and doughnuts in the lobby. It's good to see my Career Academy co-workers again. What a great bunch I work with, which makes me feel a little better about leaving the farm behind. Couldn't get to sleep last night worrying about leaving everybody by themselves all day. Guess we will all have to adjust. I am so lucky to have a teaching job which allows me to be here at 8:30 and run out the door at 3:00. My colleagues are very understanding about the farming aspect of my life. This building is being refurbished and there are half a dozen construction workers in the hall outside my room. One of them is walking around on contractor stilts, what a sight! Their boom box is blasting oldies. There is a huge addition going on to this building where my department will be housed next year. Our New York State tax dollars at work. Unfortunately, Cosmetology won't be open for a while. They are way behind and the Cos teachers are bummed. Their beauty parlor is an empty shell. It is usually buzzing with future beauticians beautifying each other and the public clients. I was hoping to get a pedicure and get these leather soles shaved off my heels. Not even my Shepherd's Friend Hand Creme with it's amazing exfoliative component can penetrate the callouses built up from running around the farm all day (and night). I'm afraid they will slice through my new socks. Speaking of socks, I might be putting them into action this weekend at Vermont Sheep and Wool. AJ is in NJ now and will come up on Thursday and drive me to Vt. Friday night. It was cold this morning and I found myself grabbing a wool sweater when I took the doggies out. Wool, yes, it is all about wool isn't it? No picture this post - nothing on the school computer!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Laborious Labor Day

My shepherd friend Mary Liebau, the long distance endurance rider who rode a pony all the way across Ireland and also Nova Scotia, came to see me today. She brought a homemade remedy for my sick kitties. I couldn't get my vet on the phone today and called Mary to ask if she had any cat cold medicine and said she had just the thing. I showed Mary my new digs and she was very impressed. We talked all about this and that and, as farmers often do, we got on the subject of hay. Everybody is filling their hay mows and selling their surplus bales to those poor folks down South who are having that awful drought. Mary told me the farmers around here with any hay to sell are getting $5.00 a square. Since we are still having to buy hay that was a shock to hear. Mary mentioned her neighbor was cutting his fields and since he doesn't have any livestock she thought he might be willing to sell some. Matt took off to check it out and bumped into Bill the Pig Farmer on the way. He told Bill he was looking to buy hay and left to find Mary's neighbor. Low and behold, a while later, while we were working in the barn, Bill and his father, Bill, pulled in and asked if we wanted three wagons of hay for a really good price. We jumped in the truck to go check it out. Well, the hay is absolutely gorgeous, and we took it all. Turned out to be about 400 bales, a fraction of what we need but it felt good to get started on building a supply. These first bales will serve as insulation over the barn apt. It was 41 F. the other morning which served as a reminded that cold is on the way. So we spent Labor Day unloading hay and sending it up the elevator. Matt was on the hay wagon and I was on the ramp, making sure the bale is correctly situated with the bottom firmly planted on the step that pulls it up. If not properly placed it can come flying off and kill somebody. Clouds rolled in and we were nervous but got the job done. Figure we need twelve more wagons to get through the winter. It sure is pretty hay. I raked up what fell on the ground and gave it to my bunnies.