Tuesday, July 29, 2008

In for the Night

Hannah and I put this hen and her babies in the chicken room, after spending several weeks in a rabbit cage. They are doing just fine mingling with the roosters and other hens. As darkness comes, however, she gathers them up in one of the nest boxes and they spend the night together. If all human mothers were as devoted and attentive as chicken mothers the world would be a better place.

Fire Up the Dye Pots

This pot of angora took up the dye unevenly and the results are just beautiful. The weather today was perfect for drying wet fiber outside, but the breeze kept blowing away my angora. I remembered the roll of chicken wire in the barn, and rolled a layer over the fiber. It worked perfectly, and the wire also prevented the kitty-cats from scattering the angora while playing. I have a LOT of work to do, picking through fleeces, washing the wool, dyeing the wool, washing again, then putting it out to dry before it's packed up and sent to the carding mill. Very labor intensive, but that's what I do.

Lovely Pests

The thistles are on the way to taking over the pasture. Randy didn't come back as promised to help me dig them up, so I am cutting off the heads before they go to seed. It's not easy to keep up with them. Kim P. tells me dairy goats will eat thistle plants. Wish I had some, as my sheep, goats and llama won't eat thistles. In the meantime, I am enjoying the butterflies as they flutter from flower to flower.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Too Much Rain

Forecast says rain almost every day. Hay situation looks very bad. Sun is out most of the day but then storms roll in. The corn is high and fields are green, but getting the hay in is impossible. You need four dry days to get it in and we just have not had it. August is usually when the hurricanes start sending rain up the coast. Unless we have an unusually dry August and September, I am out of luck. So what else is new?

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Ole' ELO

What a show. A series of thunderstorms rolled in last night and got very serious before the night was over. I climbed into the hay mow and watched the sheep running back to the barn while hail pelted them. I wished that Lukie was sitting on my lap and Hannah on the bales the way we watched storms through the big open barn doors. As the night progressed I was glad I got them on the plane and out of town early. Not sure if they would have flown today. By 10 an incredible light show was going on, reminded me of the aliens coming in Close Encounter of the Third Kind. Then the thunder cracks came closer and closer. The poor dogs were tied to the pine tree and going crazy. Even Chris the llama came into the barn. The sheep were standing inside tightly grouped with terrified looks on their faces. Thor, tied to the silo next to the barn, jumped through the window by the bunny cages. With lightning bolts coming so close I was afraid to run out into the barn yard, and went back into the apt. to calm the other dogs. Suddenly a deafening crack so loud it hurt my ears erupted right on top of me. The dogs went wild and the power went out. The storm kept going but eventually moved on over the ridge. Today I found the big light over the barn doors blown off it's hinges. I don't know why the strike didn't hit the tin roof, with the line of lightning rods going across it. Relieved that everyone was okay, with Finn and Knut sleeping peacefully under the pine tree, I was more annoyed about the power still out until 9 this morning. I should have closed the big barn doors during the storm, as the rain blew in and wet the haystack, but it requires hoisting a big, long, heavy wooden brace up and slipping it into the slots, while the doors keep wanting to swing open. Today I hear of storms up and down the Midwest and Northeast. I called Annie today to ask about the kids, but there was no answer. Just as well, they should get used to being with their parents, and I need to deal with it. Everywhere I look I'm reminded of them, and collecting all their little things is painful. I loved serving them their cute little meals, and washing their clothes, and taking pictures at every turn. Luke's birthday is August 25 and I am already scheming how to get to LV...but I would have to fly out of Philly to get a good deal - five hours away. Keep dreaming. In the meantime, I am sewing, tidying up and tending to my critters and missing the Little Ones.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Fly Away Kids

I got us out of the house just late enough to make it a nervous ride to the airport. I wasn't sure of the way, and there are three highways in quick succession after a long ride on route 20. The weather was good, and the kids were sleepy. We got checked in with enough time to have a nice lunch at the airport McD's, which Hannah and Luke were happy about. I am so lucky to have had them for a month, and realize they want to get back to their parents, but it's so hard to see them go. I waited until the plane left, then I got lost on the way home, unbelievably, and the rains came down. Luke's little bed was still on the sofa, and, well, you can imagine how low I feel. It makes me happy to know they are having a week's vacation at Ocean City, Md., with their parents who flew in from LV today, then another week with their very patient "other grandma," also on the beach. Playing on the beach all day, out to dinner every night, having their parents and extended family all to themselves, away from jobs and worries. Just heavenly... From mountain ponds and streams to the ocean, how very lovely.

Last Fire

The weather was dry enough for us to get a campfire going last night. It was a terrific fire and I was treated to some more of Hannah's perfectly roasted marshmallows. She's a real pro. We stayed around the fire so long it was too late to pack when we got in. We watched TV together for a while. Luke and I had a good cuddle. He's growing up so fast we won't have too many cuddle years left.

One Last Swim

Luke needed a bath and Bodie needed a swim so we went to the creek for one last dip. It was just gorgeous with the rain swollen rushing stream glistening in the afternoon sun. Hannah wanted to work on some sweet concoction in the kitchen so we left her to her mixing and blending. I love watching Luke throw the ball for Bodie, laughing and having so much fun. I can't imagine anything more precious than having my grandchildren near me, watching them grow and enjoying life. I asked Luke to wash his hair so he would be clean when he sees his Mom and Dad, and he accomplished the task just fine.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Packing Up for Grandma's

I started washing the little shorts, tee-shirts, socks, and dresses this morning. Lovely, cool, perfect summer day. The Royal Couch Potatoes are still watching their morning cartoons and eating breakfast. We'll spend the rest of the day rounding up the dozens of toys and belongings to pack for tomorrow's flight to Grandma at the beach. Whatever will Izzy do without his little sidekick? I have my coping mechanisms in place...bags cut out and ready to sew, freshly clipped angora to dye, along with LOTS of fleeces to sort, wash and dye. Beastie Boy finally got the sink in my Milk Room connected so I can turn on the water without it running all over the floor. I have a new on-line fabric shopping web site to peruse and drool over. It was recommended to me by a woman - Martha of Green Mounting Knitting Bags - whose bags I so admire I just had to write her and ask where she buys her fabric. She graciously told me about this site. It's an instant, albeit temporary, cure for my blues...www.fabricguru.com. I was beginning to worry about where I was going to get high end fabric being so far away from NJ now. I'm not worried anymore! I think we will go to the creek to play, and maybe ride up and down the Long Lane to test the roadbed. Maybe we'll spin wheels to check how well the contractor packed the rocks (just kidding, Jan!)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Worthy of Lizzie Bennet

This lovely meadow behind the barn and under the ridge reminds me of the field where Lizzie accidentally met Mr. Darcy walking the morning after Lady Catherine paid her that nasty visit. Mr. Darcy professed his love for Lizzie and she finally saw the light. They lived happily ever after. This meadow is where I want my ashes scattered - whenever (sooner maybe than later!) Figured I better let my wishes be known.

Sheep Trails

The sheep make lovely walking trails for me to follow around the farm. I read a poem once about a calf trail that eventually became a highway. Darned if I can remember where or when I saw it. Makes sense, though, as the sheep travel the most practical route to where they want to go, then keep to the same trail. Sheep are creatures of habit. I totally understand. The things we make habits are much less of an effort to do. I need to develope many more habits in my daily routine.

The Long Lane

A bird's eye view of the "Long Lane" stretching across Jan's field. What a lovely, artsy meandering line. My Canadian friends wondered out loud how the heck she's going to keep it plowed in the winter and why she didn't go straight out to the road from the house site. Some of us just prefer the winding road to the straight and narrow path.

A Shady Glade

The apple orchard, planted over a century ago, is a lovely, cool escape from the heat and sun. I'm going to bring a lawn chair and a book in there next week and spend a couple of hours away from the world of computers, TV and telephones. Luke was determined to climb the apple trees, although the spikey branches are not the easiest to negotiate.

The Meadow Pond

While on our hike to the apple orchard, Luke and I happened on the meadow pond. What a lovely surprise to see this oasis for every living organism in the meadow, brimming with tadpoles, bottle flies, dragon flies, and wild plants. Bodie still had his ball in his mouth - unusual as he often loses it - and Luke threw it a few times. The frogs must have been very upset, as this is the first time we've been up there this season. Luke is leaving day after tomorrow and wanted to roam the whole farm before he leaves, especially the apple orchard. I was a little wary of snakes in the marshy grass but haven't seen a single one this year (cats?) The wild plants and flowers are just stunning. You would pay a fortune for some of these plants if you were to purchase them for your "woodland pond" in a development yard...and they are growing wild here on the Farm.

A Little Hike into the Wild

Luke wanted to explore the back meadow and the apple orchard. He found a bucket and asked me to prepare a water bottle for him. I followed him with my camera and enjoyed his wide-eyed wonder at every flower and insect. He followed the sheep trails and wandered into the orchard, making sure I was close behind him as he is "scared of forests." I'm not surprised, with so many fairy-tales and movies (Lord of the Rings) having scary things happen in the woods. Luke tasted the tart little green apples and found mint to bring home for tea. After a crash-boom-bang thunderstorm this morning, the sun was out and the ground squishy. We managed to keep our ankles dry.

Getting Legal

With all the attention Jan's construction project brought to my end of the little valley, we were bound to be discovered. In our desperation to get out of the tiny little trailer and into some decent housing, we moved into the barn without a building permit. Permits make money for the town and make sure important safety measures are taken in construction. Matt is a builder in his own right, and built a pretty sound and safe apt. BUT there are reams and reams of NY State mandated "codes" but I didn't have the money to do everything the State requires. It's been a tense month after receiving the letter that we were in "Violation." Funny, nobody seems to know my name. I'm going to paint my name on my mailbox so when I get these legal notices (dogs, codes, etc.) at least they can get my name right. They wanted everything from raising the ceiling (not possible) to new windows (so we can squeeze out in the event of fire), alarm systems, septic system (I put in a holding tank for $2,000 - not good enough) firewalls all around the apt...it goes on and on. I have to pay an architect $500 to design the septic system, then hire someone to put it in. Everything else Matt can do if I pay for it ("if you've got the money - I've got the time"). Got the permits (another $500) and he's allowing us to do everything in increments...or else we would be back in the trailer. AND absolutely no hay above the apartment and that comes from the head NY State code inspector. I have to buy insulation and a floor. This makes a future fiber arts workshop with stairs going up to it from the apartment a future possibility, but prevents us from having the hay business operating out of the front of the barn (whenever we get that going with Jan across the road). Fortunately there is another giant hay mow in the barn of the barn, but the elevator will have to be moved to the back, and some kind of access with trucks and trailers put in. It just goes on and on. Amidst all this I have to hold down a job, run a farm, and operate a fiber arts business which takes every bit of creative energy I can muster. In three months it will be cold, and with no hay above us it makes some kind of insulation an immediate necessity. There goes all my Rhinebeck money!! Luke is begging to go to the movies, and I don't think I can afford it. Tickets are $8 each at the multiplex and gas is - well, ridiculous. I think I have just enough gas to get us to the airport on Saturday. Thank Goodness he has smart, educated and successful parents who make good money to spend on him. I feel like a meteor, hurtling through the universe with no intended path, bouncing off asteroids as I go.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Little Angels

How I will miss watching the Little Ones sleep...

Luke Loves the Bunnies

Luke is helping me get the wool off some bunnies. He and Hannah wonder at the softness of the bunners. I have a lot of dyeing to do in the next month.

Visitors from Another Country

Kim, my long-time bunny friend, and her husband, Darryl, came to visit with their children, Jared - 10 and Lindsay - 6. The weather was not in our favor but we managed to have a lovely time. We baked oatmeal cookies, ate Hannah's bread, hiked to the creek to play in the running water (much higher now with all the rain), climbed the hill to swim in the pond (while adoring adults watched in the rain) and played endlessly in the hay mow. Kim brought us a cart load of goodies including Canadian tee-shirts, Multalelli coffee (a real treat), tennis balls she's collected for Bodie and Holly, and gorgeous silk caps dyed by Jared. We went out to lunch at the Beaver Creek Diner, much to the delight of the French fry gorging children. I will see Kim and Darryl again when they come to NY State Sheep and Wool at Rhinebeck. Kim goes Christmas shopping at my booth using her delicious angora as currency. Little Lindsay cried so hard when she had to leave tonight, and Luke watched wistfully from the barn window as they drove away. Now I have no one to play with, he said sadly. With all the wonders of Omi's farm, nothing can replace kids your own age to share the fun.