Friday, October 31, 2008

A Quick Note

Waiting for a student to come in so I thought I would post a little note. It always helps to get my head on straight when I "write" things down. What a night. Went to bed early (10 PM) exhausted then woke up at 3:30 with the White Boys barking, barking, barking into the night. Coyotes are roaming and the boys are doing what they are supposed to, but I surely could have used more sleep. Tossed and turned then got up to make the coffee cake for "goodie day" in school. I was supposed to bring fruit salad but the storm totally threw me off with shopping. I had Bisquick, eggs and milk in the house and a can of pears. I made a gorgeous cake in a big Pyrex dish and it made the house smell divine. Finally got out of the house after dropping a big pot of oatmeal while climbing the hay mow ladder to give it to the kitties. If that wasn't bad enough, I lifted the cake bag while driving to see the bottom had collapsed. Stuck my finger in and it was mush! Hadn't cooked entirely. I had to carry the uncooked dish all the way to my wing to put it in my classroom oven. Hope it gets done. I love Halloween, but didn't get it together to dress up this year. I love to dress up but only if it's done right, and I am seldom that organized. Flying by the seat of my pants is my M.O. Cold and clear this morning, warm and balmy this afternoon. Cold again this weekend. Have to get plastic over the barn windows, make soap, make hand creme, sew bags I have orders for...wish I knew how to build a new hay mow ladder!!! It's a miracle I haven't fallen out of it by now. Piggies doing fine, even Matt is enthralled with them. They burrown into the hay and make themselves a fine nest, then pop up when we pour the warm mush into the bowl. Good little piggies!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

First Big Storm

Did just fine Monday night with getting my new critters installed in their domains. Went to work Tuesday morning with slush on the road and icy rain coming down. I travel 25 miles, ten of them flat then a leg of 15 miles up and down little mountains. All day long I had one eye on the weather. It kept coming down, more rain at times than ice. The trip home was miserable. When I left Norwich and hit the hills going toward New Berlin I began sliding every which way. Horizontal snow started coming across the road. It was white knuckles all the way, creeping along doing 20 tops. The weather just got worse, and I called Matt's cell to tell him not to attempt coming home from Buffalo and to stay at a motel. He finally made it with stories about cars in ditches and flashing red lights everwhere with downed power lines. I filled up the stock tanks and every container I could find - good thing because I lost power. Fortunately I am the candle queen, and we had wood from Rosanna's delivery on Sunday. Our generator is broken, so there would be no power for refrigerator, TV, or well-pump. The wood stove was still untested with the extra stack Matt installed. It was a long night, cold and blowing. Wood stove working fine. Morning came - no telephones and still no power. No cell phones, either. I was frantic to find out if BOCES was closed, but no way to tell. Did morning barn chores, everybody fine. New piggies happy in their pig-pen, nestled in a pile of hay. I couldn't imagine there would be school, butBOCES can't close unless all sending districts close. It takes time for them all to decide. Last year I went to work twice to find school closed! I worried and fretted all day, cut off from the world. After the harrowing trip I had home the day before I was not anxious to get out on the road. Low and behold, around 5'oclock Rosanna came in, checking to see if I was alive. Everybody at school was worried. I was the only one who didn't make it in. What a hardy lot these NY girls are! Power came back on, got TV back, but no internet yet. Maybe it will be back on when I get home from work. Better get going...piggies are waiting.

Such a Week!!

So much to tell, better start at Monday. Typing at work on the teeny-tiny lap-top they gave me for school, with a keyboard so small my big Swedish hands can't hit the right keys. Matt left for Buffalo on Monday to do weatherization training and we were making out just fine. I went to Bainbridge after work, with directions from co-workers, and picked up my two little piggies along with an unknown random sheep which turned out to be a purebred Cotswold!! (I think.) I have a student who works on a farm with piglets for sale. They got this sheep for display purposes and I think it turned out to be too big and wooly for their liking. Fine with me. She is a lovely ewe and very sociable with the rest of the flock. My two helper-students met me at my farm to help unload her and put her in the isolation dog-pen. Then we set up the pig pen behind the wall of wooden stanchions on the East End of the barn. I am so enthralled with those little porkers, they tootle along making little oink, oink noises, and are curious about everything. I come from a long line of pig farmers on my mother's side and always loved watching my folks "slop the hogs."

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunny Sunday

After a day and night of pouring rain a lovely sunny Sunday presented itself to us. I woke up with a start at four, then made myself lie down and "counted sheep" to get back to sleep. Such a joy to stay in my jammies and do chores, housework, whatever. It's still warm enough I can wander around without lots of heavy clothing but not for long - a Canadian cold front is coming and snow is expected. Sometimes I forget we are on the same latitude as Eugene, Oregon, with the Great Lakes throwing weather at us all winter long. Matt installed a light on the North Side of the barn that looks uphill and where the White Boys live. One spot is pointed uphill and the other on the wiggly log, soon to be replaced by the little wooden stoop he built for me (and Jackie) to get in and out of the trailer (my idea). It's the little things, you know? Three students came to help stack four cords of wood delivered today by Rosanna, our new science teacher/Brookfield resident, and her husband, Mike, logger and pumpkin farmer. We had a nice visit and I proudly showed off my lovely old barn with the gigantic hay mows. Rosanna was fascinated with the animals everywhere she turned. She owns 80 acres and a nice barn, and doesn't have a single pet! Not one! She had quite a thrill, petting little Monkey who was climbing on hay bales with Lincoln (still with burdock all over him). The boys helped Matt empty the hay out of the big newer mow, as per NY State compliance orders, and get it ready for the foot of old newspaper "green" insulation which we have to purchase - for a thousand dollars or so. No new kittens in the hay we moved, big relief, just some cats who were napping and annoyed at losing their nifty hiding places. After moving a mountain of fleeces (found some nice ones in there!) and stacking the wood the boys helped me capture and worm the rams and bucks in the back pen. Matt did most of the running and chasing, to my annoyance since I hired the big strong students to do this sort of thing, sparing Matt pulled muscles, injuries, whatever. I guess Matt had to teach the young men how it's done, in typical Matt Redmond fashion. I just stood by and watched, then jumped in to do the hoof trimming and shots while the guys held them still. Sometimes silence is golden. I let them go home after the worming episode, happy that I have such good workers nearby in the New Berlin area. I still miss my Randy, but he is much farther away, in Preston, and busy with jobs over there. He visits me in school and we hug like long lost mother and son. Anyway, Matt went to installing the last segment of stove pipe to the chimney and I could barely look. I stayed until I was sure he was not going to take a header then went to get the NY Times in New Berlin. Matt made a lovely fire tonight. Hopefully the extra length will prevent the downdrafts that filled the apartment with black smoke last winter. This big and cheap Tractor Supply stove puts out the heat - a little too much for this apartment. If I ever get the room upstairs built this stove will heat that, too. I have an eye on a little gas stove for my workroom I saw it in Lowes. Dream on! D-Day footage on the History Channel tonight. Oh, how I cringe to see the Gerries shooting the Chaplains and the Medics! Nice guys! Thanks be to Jesus that my AJ is safely sequestered away in St. Vladimir's Monastery in Yonkers! I can't watch too much or I will be glued for the night. And I'm sleepy. Took me an hour to wash a week's worth of dishes. Someday I will spring for a dishwasher. I haven't had one in ten years and have almost gotten used to the mound in the sink - but not quite. When I came home on my birthday moaned to see a mountain of dishes waiting, I thought, wait a minute! I thought if I got my Master's Degree I wouldn't have to wash dishes any more. Jan had left me some bottles of liquor for my birthday. Guess she thought with a pile of dishes like that I could use a drink or two. Back to work tomorrow. Speaking of drinks...I just had some light vanilla ice cream with whiskey poured over it and now I am so drunk I can hardly see straight... what a light weight! Matt is leaving for Buffalo in the morning. OH, joy, what catastrophies can happen in the three days he'll be gone. There's just no telling. No pictures yet - I bought more space but I guess it takes Blogger or Google or whoever a while to get it posted.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Wet Pumpkins

The annual Pumpkin Festival was a wash out...poor participants and vendors soaking wet. Maybe better weather for them tomorrow. Matt and I had a lovely "date afternoon" with coffee in La Maison Blanche before going to Lowe's for barn windows. I found a nifty boot scraper, only 8 bucks! It's hard rubber and can be washed with a hose. Wish I found it a long time ago, my poor pine floors wouldn't be quite so scratched up. Hard not to track in when you live in a barn. Stopped at Walmart for thread and a few things. I hate the place but love the prices. When I save a dollar or more on each item, well, it's hard not to go back. Remind me not to go there on a Saturday, the lines were awful. I did get to read some articles in Cosmopolitan magazine, which I haven't picked up in years. All about sex and how great it is to be young and beautiful. I was glad to get back to the farm and my sheep where I feel perfectly at home! They were happy and dry in the barn, with pouring rain outside. I think I have a couple of pregnant ewes, my lovely Lilly included. How could she do this to me with my trip to Ca. planned for Christmas? I didn't want to breed her again. She has one udder, which can be a challenge. Ashamed of myself! I should have known August 1 is too late to pull the rams. Good thing I found hay right down the road. We stopped and spoke to Mr. Simmonds this morning, and gave him a deposit on 2,000 bales. The sheep will eat this winter. I think I will have some Christmas lambs. The Nativity Story is on TV. I love the part about the shepherds, living with their sheep outside all the time. Wish I could do that. I feel so Christmasy, with the cold weather here. I'm scrambling for sweaters and my silk long underwear. I would have frozen at Rhinebeck if I didn't have the silkies Annie got me for Christmas. I really need some warm barn pants...I need, I need, I need. It never stops with farming.

Ewe and Me and Rain on the Roof

My sick black ewe lamb is hanging on. She was eating yesterday, holding her head up, drinking out of the bucket, so I didn't give her the oatmeal and molasses last night. This morning she is worse. Back on the oatmeal and I started her on antibiotics. She has the most beautiful coat of wool on her. I never feel good about clipping the wool off a dead animal. He doesn't seem right, but plenty of shepherds do it. Some skin the sheep altogether and send it out for processing. Lamb skins were selling briskly at Rhinebeck from what I could see. Not my gig - yet. I sure hope she doesn't die... Rain all day today - the last day of the Farmer's Market! Boo-hoo, I will miss it so. I didn't get there regularly but I had some real nice customers who were really appreciate of my products. I was selling bags toward the end of the season, too. Looking forward to next year.
Baby shower at work yesterday for a tech teacher I have lunch duty with. She got some real cute things. The table was covered with pastel cupcakes and decorations - so adorable. Gretchen knitted her a fancy cable baby sweater. It took her several weekends and she almost didn't get my Anise soap wrapped! She pulled both projects off fine. I hope the new mom appreciates the workmanship, but if she doesn't knit it's hard to tell. People just don't realize the intricacy of some of those knitting patterns - they are Greek to me! I had a nice talk with Eric yesterday. He is very busy with his new BSA job as second in command of a big district in California. Annie is finally reunited with the family. They decided not to wait for the *&^%$ bank to sell them the foreclosed-on house they were trying to buy. I'm sure the bank was holding on their properties once the big bail-out went through. He had offered them top dollar and had Hannah and Luke in that school district. As long as they had the mortgage application in Annie had to stay in her Bechtel job in LV. He decided getting the family back together was more important and rented a house on "Avenida Rottella" in San Jose. Kids had to move to yet another school district, but thankfully Annie is home and with the kids full time. I can't wait to visit them at Christmas. They are going to a San Francisco 49'ers game this weekend. AJ is very happy in Christian Orthodox seminary in Yonkers and says,"I really have it good here." He is coming to visit for a few days in November. He can help me nail up plastic over the window openings in the barn. I am heading out to Lowe's with Matt to get the new bedroom windows required by the Code Enforcer. We are WAY behind on the Compliance Project. Won't be done by Dec. 1 unless the Angel Gabriel comes down from heaven and does the work himself. We have little windows in the bedrooms and NY State wants big ones in case we have to squeeze our big fat bodies out of them during a fire. I am riding with him so I can get some goodies from the bakery to send to Luke. He loves fancy holiday cookies from La Maison Blanche. Matt doesn't like to talk on the phone during the day, or do email, so we rarely communicate during the week. Speaking of FAT, if I don't start a diet I will be unable to move from point a to b. The BOCES food is so good and the culinary kids are cooking like crazy for the teaching staff. I stand there on cafeteria duty and stare at all the goodies every day for 40 minutes. I can't afford to buy clothes and have so many beautiful things in bags in the tractor shed. Something's got to give. I know what I have to do, I starved myself for 30 years, but somewhere along the line lost my "will to starve." Gotta get it back. I think horseback riding lessons will help - riding is great for "core strength." I have to find my pilates videos. Put out hay this morning and tried to spread it out. I can hardly walk through the barn. I had a chance for a skid loader down in Chenango County but had to wait for Rhinebeck money. Some poor farmer was doing his barn and had a heart attack. He kept going and crashed into his wife's car. Can you imagine coming home to find your hubby croaked in the skid loader and your car wrecked? You can't dream up these things. A student told me about it and I got all excited because she "just wanted to get rid of it." Somebody snatched it before I could come up with the money! Maybe next year. Equipment will SET YOU FREE. We need a little Industrial Revolution around here. Oh, well, winter is here and Matt promised to get the wood stove working. I finally put my foot down and said I wanted a decent step under the back door (a friend pointed out that I needed one - as if I didn't know) and a LIGHT so I can see the rickety log I am stepping on. Low and behold he said "I've got the light and the wiring is all done." WHAT??? All this time and you made me wait for a light? Somebody please explain it to me.

Timing is everything...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Thursday Night

Am I almost through this week? It's been dragging by, the post-Rhinebeck malaise. I think I am almost through with this flu/cold/virus that's had a hold of me for almost three weeks now. Mia says a very virulent virus is going around her area of NJ. Two nurse friends have been so sick with no help from doctors, so they've gone to their yoga teacher for advice. I personally think one has to eat well, rest and wait it out with this type of thing. I hate the "breaking up" period of a bad cold, when the strangling cough struggles to rid the lungs of the contagion. Oh, so pleasant in a classroom setting. Hecky, the goat who was caught in the barbed wire in the storm the other day, is doing fine...only, it wasn't Hecky! It was Lincoln! In my hysteria, and with his top-knot covered with brown burdock, I didn't recognize him. Lincoln is even more of a baby-doll goatie than Hecky (short for Hector, my Cape Cod organic farm registered white goat, who came with a contract for me to sign promising never to eat him). I have another critter-crisis going on now. A cute little black ewe lamb was sitting/lying down, chewing her cud (always a good sign) while the others were eating their hay. I thought, okay, she's just not hungry. Then, to my horror, yesterday I saw her sitting in the same place - never a good sign. She had not moved in a whole day, maybe more. A loose manure pile was at her behind. I examined her and found that under the thick wool was a spine way too high - a sign of underconditioning. I went into action and moved her into a birthing pen where she wouldn't feel isolated but would be undisturbed by the other sheep. I brought her a second cut bale and some rabbit pellets (a favorite lamb treat and high in protein). Gave her a shot of B complex and oral/injectable worm meds. She nibbled a bit on the hay and chewed on a few pellets, but I knew she was in trouble. How could I let this happen? Gripped with remorse and self-incrimination (how could I let Rhinebeck distract me from the health of my babies???) I vowed to do everything I could to get her through. This morning I gave her warm water and honey. I stopped on the way home to buy molasses - a terrific sheep tonic loaded with potassium, magnesium and iron, to mix with oatmeal. Rushed home to make this yummy meal and found her lying flat - not a good sign. I picked her up and, with a big syringe, made her drink a nice bowl of warm, molasses laced oatmeal. Gave her a shot of selenium with vitamin E, recommended by a shepherd friend on the famous Sheep-List out of Sweden, and some more B complex. Tonight she is showing signs of improvement, eating on her own, keeping her head up. While doing chores I made her swallow a mouthful of water every few minutes to keep that rumen going. I am hoping for the best. Now I will have to massage her legs that have been bent for these few days to keep the ligaments from tightening up. I have had success with this before. She could live, she could die, but I don't let them go without trying everything I know how. I had let the sheep out to graze yesterday afternoon and watched them in the Jeep with Izzy and Holly keeping me company. Sittin up on the hill was just the tonic I needed. The fall colors are gone but the gorgeous landscape is even more beautiful with the winter colors of browns, tans and greys. I stay up top to keep the flock from going even higher up the hill to cross Hollow Road and graze on the Plows land. I have had visits from them before. If I wait until dark the sheep usually stay around the barn. Not tonight. Matt got up early to get them in the barnyard pen and could only find a few in the fog. He got all dressed up to go to the second day of open house at his non-profit energy group in Syracuse, and set off to work. Minutes later I got a call from his cell-phone (we have a tower now in B'field) saying the sheep were on the Plows' fields, and that he had to herd them together and back across the road. He hung up rather than scream even more and I went out in my jammies to meet them coming down the hill. I got a few back in, but had to leave for work myself and left the others to fate. Hopefully they had their fill from grazing and would stay on their own field and rest. Rushed home from work to take care of my lamb, and all the cast of thousands, and saw them doing just that, scattered around the field. Around dark when I was taking care of the White Boys I saw truck headlights coming down the hill with a group of sheep running full tilt ahead of it. I don't like to stampede sheep - it can be disastrous. Sure enough, Andrew misjudged the gate opening in the dark and crashed into the wire fence, breaking it in half. He lay still for a minute and I suspected the worst but when encouraged he jumped up. Is there never a dull moment? I went about my chores and let Matt stomp and fume a bit on his own to work it out. It's wonderful to have the sheep to hang with when I don't feel like dealing with a tired, cranky husband. He was so wired from smiling and acting so hospitable to the dignitaries for two days he could just spit! There is a baby shower at work tomorrow and all my soap is at the opposite end of the trailer, under tables and lengths of wood. I don't have the strength to deal with it tonight, so I'll go out there in the morning and pull enough out to get to the soap. I don't have time to make anything special for her, but soap is a nice gift for Mom and Baby. Better go check on my lamb and do some sofa time with the doggies.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Ruminating on Rhinebeck

The Gods of Google say I have used up all my "free" picture space on this journal and will have to purchase more room. Until I can figure out how to do that I will just write, then put pictures in later. Much less entertaining, I know. I love photographs and sometimes a picture inspires me to pour it all out on "paper." What would I do differently for next year's NY State Sheep and Wool? Let's see...I will try to get more product made ahead of time, and purchase what I need to make product ahead of time so I won't be scrambling, sweating out deliveries and staying up too late working on school nights. I got myself so run down no wonder I got so sick. Neither polka dot bags sold, and I knocked myself out to get them made. I left the apartment in a shambles and poor Mia felt compelled to clean up the place. Not something I wanted to leave her with. I pride myself on making everything for my booth, and we are fewer and fewer I noticed. So many booths I observed are delivered in UPS boxes. Sticking prices on and placing the items on shelves is all the vendor does. Not so here, and I like it that way. Why will people stand in line to buy cheap commercial yarn??? I just don't get it. There was gorgeous, luscious, natural fiber yarn everywhere you turn, but the lines for the cheap stuff were 30 long in places. There is nothing like the feel of natural fibers - and handspun natural fiber yarn can't be beat. Let's see, what else. Oh, yes, get the shelves made. I had to take the chrome rack out of the milk room, which worked alright, but now I have piles of what used to be on the shelves all over the place, contributing to the horror of the milk room. Ditto for the milk room table I needed for the booth. That stuff is on the floor. The trailer worked out wonderfully. Candace, my jewelry maker spinner friend, came by the trailer on Saturday night with her felter friend named Susan (forget her last name - she is married to a psychiatrist in Norwich) and we had a lovely visit. That's what I dreamed of years ago when I visited Doreen Keller in the same trailer. We had a lovely knitting/chat session and I knew I wanted one just like I bought it from her! It's an oldie but goodie. I still have a little trailer I used for lambing in the field at the last pasture. I am hoping to go get it one of these days. That one is truly historic. Hmmm, sales of bags. Every other vendor seemed to have bags for sale, and I think people were sacrificing that type of frivolous sale in favor of something more basic, like soap and fiber. I've had other "light" bag years. Speaking of light, I had a few comments about my bags being too heavy. It depends on what you want to use them for. If you are going to carry a spinning wheel you need a heavy, sturdy bag. I use high end upholstery fabric, and it's on the heavy side. I will try to make smaller, lighter bags. I can use them all in Maryland. I am always tempted to give them away as Christmas gifts. With Md. Sheep and Wool coming in the spring I will need them. I love to sew so much I am already cutting out more bags in my mind. I have another bottle of patchouli oil and will get a batch made as soon as I put the milk room back together. Sunday night we arrived home to find Mia flat out with a horrible, crippling headache. Nothing she took would stay down. Matt was too tired to help so I did the chores myself. He's been working late every night on the open house his energy non-profit group is having for state officials. I don't mind doing all the chores, but it takes me so long, and suddenly it's very cold. There are so many broken windows, or holes with no windows at all, in the barn and the rainy wind blows right in. I have to get thick plastic over the gaping holes. I have some students coming this weekend to help, but they cost money. Matt is way behind on his compliance work. I told him his weekends and nights of helping the neighbors is over, that he has to take care of his own farm. Speaking of taking care of things on your own farm - old barbed wire fencing can be deadly and we have plenty of it. Last night I came home to find Hecky, my young white goat buck, all wound up in a length of old barbed wire that should have been cut and discarded. He was covered with brown burdock burrs and screaming his head off. I had gone to Wal-Mart and was two hours late getting home, something I felt so guilty about. It sure makes me think twice about doing things after school. Something always happens back at the farm. I ran for my scissors, and wouldn't you know, every pair I have was buried somewhere in the trailer. I found a little pair in my purse and started cutting carefully away at the hair around the barbs that were sticking into his flesh. My hands were bloody, and realized later it was my blood as well as his. I got most of the length cut away, but the icy rain was coating my glasses and he was thrashing around. I ran for the wire cutters that are usually hanging in the milk room, but they were gone!!! Back to Hecky, and, to my horror, the length I had cut free was all entangled again in his mohair. I called Matt on my cell phone and he told me the wire cutters were across the road at the Stracks!!! You can imagine my reaction. No cars over there. This has been an ongoing problem - leaving tools at job sites and nothing at home when I need something done. Poor Hecky, no way to free him entirely. I saw Chris Kupris's car in his parking spot and banged on his door. It was dark inside, but thankfully I saw his face in the window. A burst of warm air from his wood stove hit my face and felt so good! He said just a minute and came back with some wire cutters!! He told me "they may have taken my farm away but they didn't take my tools!" We were able to cut away most of the wire but the part embedded in his side had to stay until Matt came home and I could "operate" on him. I thanked Chris profusely and he said not a problem, that he's just a lonely old man with nothing to do. My heart went out to him but I had to drag Hecky inside and get him stabilized. I put his head in the corn sack and he devoured it. Who knows how long he had been out in the cold rain. When Matt got home I got the rest of the barbed wire out, doctored the wound, and gave him a tetanus shot. I think I need one, too. Rhinebeck seemed a million miles away.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Educate the Public

I like the way the animal booths tell about their breeds and how they are used. There is so much love and pride on display and the crowds ate it up.

Critters Steal the Show

Rhinebeck has many beautiful fiber animals on display. Without them, we wouldn't have our fiber arts, would we?

Scenes From the Fair

I strolled around taking some shots of the lovely booths. There are sooo many, as the festival has expanded quite a bit.

Kim Makes A Hit

Kim took one of my Mother Fiber Nuno/Needle Felting Kits and spun the combination of fibers into yarn. She knitted a nifty shawl that I displayed with the fiber kits. People asked for the pattern ALL DAY LONG. Kim promised to figure out how she did it (not always easy when you are doing stream-of-consciousness knitting) so I can put it online. Leave it to Kim to do something so crafty and out-of-the-box! The shawl pin was made by a friend, who used a rubber sheep stamp to make the design on Sculpey clay - how fascinating! Kim has her own fiber business, Cornerstone Fibres (yes, they spell it funny up there in Canada) which she runs out of her house in Kingston. Sales of the fiber packs were brisk all day. Kim and Darryl leave Jared and Lindsay with Aunt Peg, a bunnywoman who used to break wild mustangs for a living. Like I've said before, those Canadian girls are amazing! I want them in my fox hole when the going gets rough!

Rhinebeck 2008

After much hub-bub rushing around and packing, we set off over the Catskills and into the Hudson Valley to Rhinebeck, near Red Hook, New York. Friday was spent setting up our booth. We have new show neighbors to the left, the Red Maple Sportwear Company from Maine. They are okay, but I miss Morehouse Merinos. They raised their own wool, something I respect and admire. The kilted Red Maple duo filled their booth with commercial alpaca sweaters, etc. When I asked (trying not to sound snotty or sarcastic) if they raise their own fiber one said, yes - well, we board our alpacas in New Hampshire. Hmmmmmmm. My dear and faithful friends, Kim and Darryl Parkinson from Kingston, Ontario, came early to help set up. We went to the local Mexican pub and had delicious guacamole for dinner. The temperature was dropping and Maggie's head cold was quickly taking hold of her so we headed back to the cozy little trailer. Kim had planned a rendezvous with a bunny customer and headed off into the night to keep her appointment with a woman in a van full of kids in a far off MacDonald's parking lot.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Madhouse Musings

Okay, it's 10:30, trying to get on the way by noon. Just found some clean clothes for myself, now have to get down to the B'field PO to see if my snap frames came from New Orleans. If not, I have 3 bags I can't sell this weekend. Sitting down to write 'cause it seems to get my head straightened out. That flu-like syndrome went to my head, sneezing and congested along with fever and achiness. Not a great way to start a big show weekend, but gotta deal. I was with a real sick kid a lot yesterday who said her father made her come to school. Not pleasant, sputum flying everywhere, but I think I got it from Matt. He is scrubbing off my rack. Lots of Mother Fiber waiting for me at the show, brought from Michigan by the carder. Wish I had a better way to display it, but has to wait for next year, like that Jewish prayer, Next Year in Jerusalem. It's always next year for me, too. Nurse Mia is on her way after working all night at the hospital. Last time she had to stop every once in a while to take a cat nap...bless her little darlin' heart. We had such fun yesterday with a pumpkin carving party in school. Remember this is an alternative setting so things can get "creative." I loved it. Matt has the trailer ready to go, will be cold tonight. I'm excited. There is something so thrilling about presenting one's creations out for public view and having them respond favorably. There is also something very relieving about making some money to get the wolves away from the door - and some lovely pups who are waiting so patiently for their money...hold on everybody, the money will be on the way come Monday!! I promise!! I managed to catch a little goat this morning and dragged her into the apt. for a foot rot shot. Little goat droppings all over the floor. Poor Mia, no time for me to clean for her. Last time she was here with Andrew I cleaned for two days and the place looked great. Not this time. The creative mind is seldom a tidy place!! And all these animals! I can't do it all but I try and get soooo tired. Matt made me drink some of his Nyquil last night and it made me sleep for all of 7 hours - so atypical of me. I hate drugs of any kind after seeing what they did to some family members and people I know...but a little cold meds I will take. Have to stop in New Berlin and get some Sudafed - have to sign for it now, give me a break! Fed Ex just dropped off my gingham tote bags which the customers love, so grateful for F.E. UPS is fine but they come late in the afternoon and I would have missed them today. Love my little totes which look so cute with the quilt fabric soap! Gretchen and Kelly really came through for me with the wrapping - thank you colleagues!! Gotta go and help pack the trailer then clean the bathroom. Off to Rhinebeck....featured breed this year, the Romney. Such a terrific sheep and underappreciated in my opinion. Human nature is such that anything so plentiful is taken for granted. Romneys are everywhere and produce good wool and plenty of it. Speaking of wool - a big batch of dyed alpaca got rained on day before yesterday. Still out there soaked. I'll take it to the show and dry it in the bed of the truck I think. I will have lots of stories to tell and pictures on Monday. Wish me luck...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Ahhh, Patchouli

Just got finished with my first batch of patchouli soap in over a year. The crop failed in India and when the price shot up to over $200 for a 16 ounce bottle (the size I need for my recipe) I said forget it. Now it's back down half way and I decided to do it. What a unique, musty and seductive aroma. Missed the debates but the milk room kitties were delighted I was keeping them company so late at night. My students were back working on moving a mountain of hay to the other end of the barn. NY State codes require a fire wall between us and the barn. I will have to buy a fortune in wallboard for that. That's just a start. I thought NJ was a fascist state - New York is worse. The bureaucracy here is strangling. What fun to hear the kids laughing and joking as they were working, such happy sounds. I decided to try to hire them more often. Worth every penny. They helped me catch a sheep and a goat I needed to doctor and were so eager to do anything I asked. I said somebody please pinch me. Got chores done by 8 then Matt came home, still pretty sick. He had been looking for shelving units for a couple of hours after work. I just don't get it. I asked for a few boards put together somehow and I would have been thrilled. Long meeting after school with our director. Bad news on enrollment - it's way down and some changes have to be made. Too many staff for so few kids. No lay-offs - yet. Thank you, Rutgers, for my special-ed certification. I hope it saves me. So many hungry sheep to feed...Eric called to say his new Boy Scout director job is very demanding but he loves it. He rented a house for Annie and the kids and decided not to buy the tiny hut for half a million dollars in San Jose. He kept the Las Vegas house and is satisfied to rent for a while. This way Annie can quit her Bechtel job in LV and join Eric and the kids in Ca. Luke loves the new school and Hannah is coming along slowly. Thank goodness for the after-school program where they have kids to play with and do homework with. Wish I could be there to help out...

Working Hard

Marathon creme making session last night. Started about seven, ended about eleven...soooo tired. I thought about little Nurse Mia, on her feet for 12 hour night shifts. She always gives me inspiration. Two students came over to move bales away from the future fire wall in the hay mow. Had to go up and work with them now and then. Matt was out looking for ready-made shelves. I had my heart set on new shelves for my booth this year. Every inch of retail space is precious. Well, he had other things to do and no shelves were made. He didn't come home with anything, and he's still so sick I couldn't be angry. He has a lot of stress at work, too. I got up earlier to do some sewing. Every minute counts now. Better get ready for work.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Too Cute

If nobody buys this bag I will give it to Hannah for Christmas. I've been looking for a chance to use this button for a long time.

Yes We Have Patchouli!!

Just got off the phone with Queen Melody of Rainbow Meadow. She is my essential oil guru, and the lady I trust to give me the best soap making supplies. She has some terrific, aged patchouli oil, just in from her supplier and it will be shipped to me today. If it gets here on Wednesday with the 2-day UPS delivery, I will make a batch that night. It won't be ready to wrap, but I will put it out on the table in a "cut-your-own" format and sell it by the ounce. Won't that be neat? People will get their patchouli and I will have the heavenly aroma wafting out of the booth. I feel bad for anyone with allergies who is stationed next to me. People tell me they follow the smell - works for me! Meanwhile, I just cut out some luscious fabric. Pastels don't sell as well as darker colors - but I couldn't resist these dots!!

Countdown - 3 days

I got three bags made yesterday - oh, so cute. Two are Waverly paisley fabrics from Joann's. Snap frames are on their way from New Orleans, I pray, or I can't sell them this weekend. Linda McGhee promised to get them out Priority Mail. Such is the life of the small business owner with no line of credit. I make a little money, buy what I need for the next sale. My teacher's salary supports my farm business. With the Farmer's Market money from Saturday, I am trying to get ahold of some patchouli. Three people stopped at the table asking for patchouli soap. Melody from Rainbow Meadow "might" have some today, but how can I get it? I have soap melting in the event I can rush order some patchouli EO. I sheared Monkey yesterday and got her mohair in the dyepot. I am making a run of Mother Fiber to take to John, of Frankenmuth carding mill, who will be at the show this weekend. It will save me $200 on shipping on a run this big. All this adds to my stress. When I get to a show in one piece I sometimes feel like kneeling down and kissing the ground. I'm hoping AJ will take the train up to Rhinebeck from his seminary to visit. Jan doesn't want to go this year, but Matt is getting the trailer ready for Princess Janipat so she will be comfortable and warm, so she better come. I would just as soon sleep on the floor of the cargo trailer. He is over at her place today, getting her electric up and running. I'm glad somebody will be all ready for winter.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Feeling Lazy

I don't know if I'm lazy or tired. Made pierogies for dinner - hmmmm good - and got through chores. Either Freya or Flicka is down. They look the same and their ear tags are broken off. I wormed her, gave her some LA 200 antibiotic, and trimmed some tags from around her back side to check for fly strike. I can see better in the morning. Have to get some more molasses in the house. I'll get some when I go into town for the paper. The guy on the ridge above me is here. He has a camp up there and I only know he's in residence when I see a fire in the trees. I have no idea who he is or where he comes from. My dogs bark at his presence constantly - can't be very pleasant for him. First time I saw the fire I thought oh, crap, I've got somebody right behind me. He hunts his land with a muzzle loader and the bang rings through the valley. Deer season starts next week - causes serious absentee problems among the students at school. Last year I was chasing after people shining lights on my land looking for deer. They hide from the hunters in my apple orchard. Wish I had more land for them to be safe in. I have to replace the no hunting signs that were torn down last year. Hunting is one of the reasons I landed up here in CNY. When I had my sheep on rented property the owner would let hunters in among my sheep. I would be taking care of them with shots ringing out all around me from deer stands! It was horrible. Not now. Not much on TV tonight. I want to cut out some of the new fabric for bags but my body says lie down. Hoping I can stay up for Saturday Night Live, but doesn't look good so far. I think I need the sleep more.

Jane Porter's Fiber Studio

Jane Porter is a dress designer who opened a shop in Hamilton. She teaches people to spin (on a Schacht wheel) and sells her own designer yarn. Her husband is a photographer and has a gallery in the same space. Jane is holding a fabric sale of her own amazing designer fabrics. I got some bag lining fabric for an incredible price. Even Candace fell prey to the kimono fabric. I got some hand stamped, handwoven tussah silk, and some neat fuzzy wool fabric for a great price. Have to keep those bags coming...She had all kind of fabulous trims, which I don't quite know how to incorporate into my bag design. Maybe in the future I'll start experimenting. Right now my bags are rather basic - and it seems to work for my customers. I'm so tired of my clothes and want to make some things for myself, but right now I have to make things to sell to pay for the hay I have to buy this winter. Skirts and dresses will have to wait.

Politics at the Market

The Democratic Party has a booth at the farmer's market. This is a predominantly Republican area, as farmer's are not fond of any kind of government intervention in their activities. They are an independent bunch (tell me about it!) The Dems generate a good bit of interest in their causes. Their activism adds a neat touch to the market. There are some Obama posters around Hamilton, a college town, but that's about it. I don't see many in the outer areas.