Thursday, April 30, 2009

See You At the Fair

Weather is gorgeous and we are off to Maryland. Kim came down from Ontario last night and has been helping me take care of critters and put fibery stuff together. She's out in the barn feeding everybody right now. I got a good night sleep and feel great. We're loading up and waiting for Carol Crayonbox to pull in from Freeville. All systems go!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Mounties Are Coming

Kim is driving down from Ontario today to spend the night and help me load up. I grew up with Sergeant Preston and the Royal Yukon Mounted Police. The first thing I thought of when I opened my eyes was Sergeant Preston in his red Mounty outfit with his trusty dog, King!! Don't tell me TV shows don't leave an impression on kids. I asked Matt if he remembered Sergeant Preston and he immediately got excited and said Sure I do! Those Canadians are great in a pinch...they know how to git 'r done! Matt is leaving for Malone NY to teach Lead Safe Weatherization. It will be great to have Kim to help with chores and, yes, wrap some more soap. I made creme until 1. Came out great and the new Sunburst Bottle Company jars are adorable. One sleepy camper am I. I had to wake up in time to receive one more lesson in hooking up my little cargo trailer to the F150. Nothing like parking a big truck hitch, which you can't see, precisely over a little ball mounted on the trailer. What fun. And all those chains, locks and wires so I have lights and my stuff doesn't disconnect from the truck and go backwards down the highway causing major pile-ups. Heaven forbid if I have to back it up. With only one axel the cargo trailer swings this way and that if I need to go backwards. Wish I bought a two axel trailer, but at the time I didn't know what an axel was much less the benefits of having one or two. If people only knew what it takes to get to these shows with the goods in one piece maintaining one's sanity...and then have a smile on your face the whole weekend like oh, this is all so easy and fun! I'm being observed in a science class where the teacher is teaching how to get your bearings and read orienteering coordinates and follow a trail. Maybe I will use these skills someday when I'm lost on my way to a sheep show somewhere. I'm outta here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Failsafe Time

Yes, I am a Cold War Kid. Cold War Kids know what Failsafe means. When pilots take off on a mission to drop the bomb they cut off radio contact. No information can get in. Their focus is on completing the mission, and they won't think about anything else. I am almost on failsafe. Mia understands what failsafe is. When she was getting ready to take her nursing license boards she went into failsafe. The world could be falling apart all around us but we can't let go of the mission. Once I get out of work tomorrow I am going into failsafe. Throw the stuff in the trailer and get on the road. Matt came home with my new NY commercial plates on - only took three years - but now I am all systems go. Last year I had a weeks notice that I got into Maryland, after years of trying, and I went into a panic trying to get up enough product. I did not even have a whole box of soap. This year I have eight boxes of soap and forty bags. I'm making creme tonight. I picked up my entry into the photo contest from the framer today. It's my "Princess of the Flowers" picture. Kelly brought her soap into school today, Candace has some, Susan Carr has some, and I'm bringing the Tea Tree with me to wrap in the truck and at the B&B. John Erlinger called from Frankenmuth to touch base about dropping off the roving. He says it's very beautiful, especially the 50 pound run I gave him last fall. That's the purply/teal/red run. The others are colbalt blue, red, yellow and orange/yellow. I'm very excited. He also told me not to give him any short staple Merino without other longer, stronger fibers to mix with it. No problem there. I'm bringing him a big run to give me back at Rhinebeck, saving on shipping, but the Merino run won't be ready. I'll be working on that over the summer. Better get some dinner ready then clean off the counters for creme making. Heather, my friend Rebecca's daughter, sent me some samples of the soap she made. It was such a thrill to receive it. So nice to know I inspired a young person to make soap. It's the gift that keeps on giving...Speaking of gifts. I had something so lovely happen to me this morning. When I got into my room this morning I found a little white bag with a container inside. The note was from my friend Sharon Winans, the special ed. dept. secretary. She had spent the weekend in Marblehead, Mass., and was planning on going in the ocean. I told her to play in the ocean for me, as I adore the beach and hardly ever get there. She brought the beach to me! Inside the container was some salt water, a clam shell, a mussel shell and a live snail! The card said "Sniff the beach - from Marblehead, Mass." I was too thrilled and feel so fortunate to have such a thoughtful friend. Thank you, Sharon! You are Toot Sweet!

Crowded House Story

One of my favorite Yiddish stories goes something like this...

A man goes to his rabbi with a problem. His house is so crowded he can't stand it any longer. There are kids everywhere, piles of clutter all over, and there is not a bit of extra space for a man to relax a little after a hard day's work. The man was completely miserable and at the end of his wits. The rabbi ponders the man's situation for a minute or two, then says "I have the answer!" He looks the man straight in the eye and directs him to, "Go home and bring all your farm animals in the house - your cows, your sheep, your chickens and your dogs. Keep them in the house for two days. At the end of two days, let them go. The man did as his rabbi advised. He went home and pulled and shoved his livestock into the little house. His family thought he lost his mind. At the end of two days, he let all the animals out of the house. A miraculous transformation took place. The little house seemed roomy and comfortable without all the animals in it. There was plenty of room for parents and kids. The man was happy as can be in his new home.


It's 12:30 and I'm going to bed. Wrapped the rest of the Patchouli (heavenly) and the box is full. Kelly and Candace are wrapping for me - Bless Their Hearts - and will bring Kelly another box tomorrow. Waaayyy too hot today, got up to 90. When I got home from work the kitties were lying flat out in the driveway and around the barn. Izzy had somehow been locked in the bathroom and was barking out the window. I was a little late getting home as I had to go through Hamilton to drop off my sheep portrait at Evergreen Gallery to be mounted in the frame I brought them. Would have done it myself but I needed glass cut. Had to drop soap off at Hamilton Whole Foods where Candace works anyway. What a sweetie she is. I didn't know how I was going to get this soap wrapped but brought the Clove Bud and Expresso to work with me anyway, praying something would happen. Much drama at school today. Mis-alignment of the planets? Then I thought wait, Candance works in Hamilton, she's going to Maryland Sheep and Wool, maybe she would wrap the soap. I called her and she said she'd love to. She keeps telling me how happy the sheep have made her. Makes me feel so good to add the sheep dimension to someone's life. Will start making creme when I get home tomorrow. That will be several hours but has to get done. Clearing the decks to get set up is the worst part. Will load up Wednesday night. My supervisor gave permission for me to take two personal days - whew! Was a little worried but no problem with her. Beautiful crescent moon tonight, with the full moon silhouted behind it. Brilliant stars and planets glowing in colors. Love this clean fresh upstate air.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

New Products

I'm bringing some shaving cups with brushes to Sheep and Wool this year. They were made by my Farmer's Market friend, Suzanne Farrington. She's a local potting legend. The German brushes are lovely, a step up from what I have been selling. I still have my big, funky blocks of shaving soap. Just emptied a lot of stuff from the Rhinebeck trailer into the cargo trailer, lights, Bundaflicka sign, more roving, etc. I could survive a war with all this wool. Yes, Wool is the Mother of All Fibers. I ordered jars and labels for my Shepherd's Friend Cleansing Grains, but I don't think they will come in time for this show. There is always the farmer's market and the fall shows. The cleansing grains have my handmade soap, ground up with wheat germ, corn meal and oat meal. It's a great way to use my end pieces and bars that don't cut right. I brought Annie a bag of end pieces at Christmas time. She lets the kids have them in the bath tub and leave them in the water. That way they get washed and they don't know it.

Thank Heaven for Little Girls

My friend Carol finally got her hands on her new granddaughter, Chloe. Carol's daughter, Gretl, and her husband travelled to Carol's farm near Ithaca for the weekend. Lots of time to get acquainted with the little angel. She's so precious...

Good Morning Sunshine

How could anyone be upset about anything on such a beautiful day? It's positively gorgeous outside. I'm working inside but I run out with the doggies every once in a while. I don't think it's going to spike to the eighties today. Fine with me. Back to work. It's coming together and I'm beginning to get excited. I can't wait to see what the mill did with my fiber. I don't do "count by numbers" roving. I dye a whole bunch of fiber in "colorways" I think will work, then wait to see what John and Kim have done with it. They stand at the carding machine and feed it in. It's difficult to get it all proportioned correctly but they manage to spread it all out so nicely. Sometimes I gasp when I open the bags. Sometimes I think oh, I should have added more of this or that. I work with what I have. Almost 200 pounds will be delivered to Md. I have about that much to bring to them. I'll be set for the fall shows. I'll dye fiber all summer and let it dry in the hot much easier than drying by wood stove.


Too much to write about with regard to the chaos that is going on around here, and my pride won't let me go into it with a lot of detail. It's too easy for me to tell all to the computer and forget it's going out into the great beyond that is cyberspace. The truck is inspected (BHS) and the trailer lights working. You don't want to know the craziness that went on getting that done. I accidentally bumped Farmer Chris' split rail fence with the pick-up truck on the way out Friday morning, and didn't put it back up when I got home. Just got busy with critters and didn't get to it. It falls down if you look at it and takes 5 minutes to put back up. Well, Mister Mister came home and found it down. Funny how one incident opens the flood gates for all kinds of anxiety and anger. Enough said about that. Good thing I'm a special ed teacher and can deal with this behavior on a professional level (yeah, right). Enough said. I'm still working on the bags, putting in snap frames, sewing on straps, etc. Kelly is wrapping soap, I'm way behind on that. I put together some more farm photos in their inserts and wrappers last night. It's so soothing to look at my cute photos and remember why I'm doing this farming thing that's so much work. Matt went out and got the wood for booth shelves last night. It's only taken ten years. I've been allowed to give some input. Let's see what he puts together. I did get a couple of last year's kid mohair dyed and dryed in the lovely weather. There is a fortune of kid mohair running around on the goats out in the barn. I don't have anyone here to hold them for me while I clip. They are too small to put on the shearing stand. I'll have to wait until Hannah comes in June, but it will probably be ruined by then. Better get my mind on the next few days and not dwell on negative things.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Chicks Are Alright

I climbed the hay mow ladder to look for my mother hen and chicks after work today. I am always worried about what I will find. Yesterday I went up there and, to my horror, she had taken her brood to the end of the hay mow, away from the sheltered area. I had put a crate there for her to run into with the chicks to get away from the cats. That way she could do her dive bombing in one direction instead of the cats coming in from all around. But now she was out in the wide open, too far away to make a run for the crate. I was out the door to work and didn't have any time to chase them around. You've never seen anything scatter in all directions like chicks you are trying to catch. I had also put her food and water in a corner nearby the crate. The tiniest chicks drink water all the time, unlike kittens, puppies, lambs and kids who get their liquid from mom. I found mom in her corner heating up the chicks, which she does periodically, and filled up the dry-as-a-bone water dish. Suddenly the little fluff balls came running out from under her to drink water. I counted seven! Mom and all the peepers drank and drank. I watched them for a while and all my worries floated away. What heaven. All creatures should have a loving and talented mother hen like this one. I poured a lot of cat food in the hay mow kitties bowl to thank them for not eating the chicks and leaving the mother alone. I wish I had stock in the cat food company...

84 F.

Frost covered the fields this morning but it's 84 F. on my milk room steps now. Granted, it's a sheltered area where the air can be a little "still" but it's still warm. Work was a mixture of agony and ecstacy. Well, maybe not quite ecstacy, but the agony was punctuated by moments of calm and conversation, and some teaching, too. I got a box of Cinnamon Leaf and a box of Lime over to Kelly in South Otselic via Joe the substitute who lives a mile away from her. She's recovering from surgery and said she would help me out. I'm sure wrapping soap is the last thing she wants to do in this glorious weather, but she is supposed to be staying still and not turning over her garden. I took the F150 to Norwich glass to get the new rear view window mounted. He wasn't there so I went into town to get the stickers for the Shepherd's Friend Hand Creme. They did a terrific job shrinking the stickers for the new, smaller jars. Went back to get the mirror on so I can get the truck inspected tomorrow early AM. Matt drives the truck to work and it's needed to be registered for some time. I'm very sexist when it comes to the car thing. Just as he expects me to be in complete charge of cooking, kitchen and cleaning, I expect the man of the house to take charge of the vehicles. As I was leaving Matt called on the cell to check on the status. I bought an after-market mirror to save money but it's not exactly like the one on the other side. Matt was not amused and I was not amused that he was annoyed since he should have done this a LONG time ago (it's been broken for three years). Not the way I wanted to start a Friday. Stopped at the feed store then headed home to the critters. Everybody was REAL thirsty and it took an hour to drag the house around and refill, refill until they were quenched. Mia called to tell me my Canon Elph will cost $130 to fix. The camera store guy said, did she crush or drop it? Mia said, she lives on a farm what do you expect? Mia wants to get it fixed for Mother's Day and will send me her new camera to take to Maryland. What a SWEETIE! She is going camping in the Catskills with her Main Man Andrew. Glad she is having fun in the great outdoors, where she loves to be. I have a mountain of dishes to wash before I can start on the other mountain of things I have to do. Matt had a fit when he found out that Kim and Carol are coming here to catch a ride to Maryland. He's ashamed of the way I have not been keeping house. Let's see...hold down a stressful job, run a farm with hundreds of animals, design and create lovely things to sell to make money for aforesaid farm to stay afloat....hmmmmm. Doesn't leave much time for housekeeping. I do require 5-6 hours of sleep per night. Maybe I should try cloning.

I Hug Kids, Too

It's been a tough week at school. One would think, after having a week off, that we (teachers) would be totally refreshed and eager to take on whatever the little (or big) darlings could throw at us. Well, that might last a day or two. Today, Friday, that feeling is gone. All remnants of vacation bliss are no more. I don't think it's appropriate to discuss specific incidents but suffice it to say a trick was played on me yesterday that was a little disconcerting. It had to do with a student hiding and letting me think she disappeared. The kids thought it was hilarious. I didn't. No more baking cookies and playing games. It's the dreaded Regents Prep for them! Hah! Anyhow, today is a new day. Clean blackboard (or Smartboard - TM) every day is my M.O. I better get this show on the road. I woke up with the realization that if I don't bring soap to school for people to wrap over the weekend for me I'm sunk...and I don't have it ready to bring to school. I have to find a container, fabric, and labels (kindly printed by Carol Crayonbox). I was up late working on bags. Lots of little things like covering the cedar bottom inserts with fabric, etc. I found one bag in pieces and decided to put it together. I'm not cutting out any more bags before Maryland. Gotta get ready for work. Sitting here at the desk is not getting anything done, except getting stuff off my chest. Feels better already.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

It's Hug a Sheep Time Again

Out of the blue Sean called from San Francisco. Sean is Matt's son from his childhood marriage. Well, hush-my-mouth! Sean is a writer! He has popped up with a snappy, artsy and interesting blog! It's very "California-ish." Sweet boy that he is, Sean said he was inspired by his step-mother's online journal. Wait until I get ahold of him, I will just have to pinch him. Sean is very tech-savvy and has some neat additions to his blog that I couldn't even imagine how to utilize. So...I will continue with farm animals,sewing and spinning while Sean does podcasts and what-not. Sean's blog is It's late and I'm tired after putting last touches on some bags. Might have to call it a night. I ordered the rear-view mirror for the F150. It was smashed while I was crossing the Riegelsville Bridge in New Jersey. The on-coming pick up truck was coming right at me and we didn't have enough room to squeeze through together. I want to get it fixed before I go out of state pulling a trailer. On Saturday I will start cleaning out the trailer, washing down the folding tables, washing my tablecloths and packing. Matt told me he has an idea for shelves that will put up and take down easy and he'll buy the wood this weekend. I will keep my fingers crossed...Meanwhile I need to go out in the barn and hug a sheep. It's been that kind of week.

An Unearthly Farewell

I was proud to be a member of the BOCES family today. Teachers, administrators and students piled into a fleet of little vans and busses to attend Ashley's funeral in Sidney. The weather was delightful with gentle breezes to dry the multitude of tears. The white casket surrounded by bouquets of pink flowers was appropriately representative of the youthful remains it carried. There were pictures to remind us of the big smile and shining eyes we would enjoy no longer. Ashley will be forever frozen in our minds and hearts as young and beautiful, vibrant and joyful. We forgot to recognize Earth Day when we came back from the services...but Kristin's birthday cake was frosted and ready to cut and eat. It seemed a "life affirming" thing to do - and got everyone laughing and chatting again. On the way home I stopped for chick feed, and cat food. I found the "grapefruit seed extract" I needed for my Shepherd's Friend Hand Creme in a cute herbal pharmacy in downtown Norwich. It just happened to be across the street from the Salvation Army Thrift Shop, and I remembered that Wednesday is 1/2 price day. So there I was, going up and down the aisles of the cast off clothing. Low and behold, I found Mia a gorgeous Ralph Lauren, 100% silk, lined, pink, purple and green plaid sleeveless shift - size 8! I got myself a couple of moo-moo hippie dresses including a tie-dyed wild one. What fun.

Warm Weather Coming

I'm told the temps are going up to 80 F. by the weekend. Hello flies! Banties will go to work I'm sure. Hmmmmm, good. Chickens love those flies. Off to work to take a bus to Ashley's services with the students who managed to get permission slips in. Makes me want to hug my own kids but they're so far away. I used to think I would lose Eric in a motorcycle accident and would pray, just let him live to 20, then, just let him live to 25, then I figured he would be around for a while! When he reached 30 I relaxed! Then it was AJ in the Army, then it was Mia being sick all the time. Oh, Motherhood! And my students...teachers are surrogate mothers, and in my educational setting, sometimes we're all they've got. I have to do more at night and this weekend. Last night I did little more than sew on the gorgeous buttons Mia and I made when she last visited. I've been making myself go to bed by 11:30. Don't want to get sick like I did at Rhinebeck last fall. I want to have FUN, FUN, FUN in Maryland. I got Miss Jane on the phone and checked our reservations. She runs the Strawberry Inn in New Market, filled with hooked rugs, brass beds, antiques, quilts and faux painting. I've gone there so many years it feels like home. All I need are sheep on the lawn...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Going Home to Hug My Sheep on a Rainy Monday

Much emotion and tenderness in school today, holding each other up over the tragic loss of one of our students in a weekend drunken driving accident. We are a small group on our campus, in a rural community and something like this hits hard. I had not been working directly with this student in some time as she left our school, then came back, and then started working on a GED in Gretchen's program, but we saw each other every day and got along very well. Ashley was larger than life, a big, beautiful blonde, with an outgoing vivacious personality and zest for life in spite of her challenging personal circumstances. Another one-time student was driving a group of young people home, at 6 am, while intoxicated, and swerved off the road. The mini-van hit a guard rail then rolled several times. None of the teens had seat belts on and all were thrown from the vehicle. Some had devastating injuries and Ashley was killed. The 17 year old driver was checked and released from the hospital, and was taken straight to jail. He won't go home unless someone can come up with $200,000 bail. Not high enough.

Back to the Salt Mines

Back to school today. Mothers jump for joy, teachers weep. I hate to leave the farm. I want to stay in my barn, where I live with the sheep, and work on my business. Alas, Matt's new career that he is totally absorbed with does not provide any health benefits for me. Not any. Just my luck. So it's get my butt in gear and give all my little, and big, friends some food and get the heck outta here...and worry and pray all day that nothing terrible happens while I'm gone. I had a gorgeous week...OMIGOSH! There's angora on the drying rack outside that I forgot about! Better get out there 'cause it's going to start raining any second. There is a TON of newly cut soap on the rack giving the apartment a lovely aroma. How I'm going to get it wrapped in time for Sheep and Wool I don't know. I went to WM yesterday to buy myself a new pair of pants and a couple of shirts for my "spring wardrobe." Wouldn't you know, it will be cold and rainy with some snow all week. That's okay, suits my mood. Better get going...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Shearing Again

Big Jim Baldwin came over from Freeville (yes, I found out he lives in the same town as Carol Crayonbox!) to shear 30 more sheep and goats. He has to come back one more time, but we decided to wait until two weeks after Maryland. My hired man was a no-show, so it was Jim, Matt and myself working our tails off. Matt chased down the victim and gave it to Jim. After shearing, I took up the fleece, swept the platform, then took the sheep off and held it while Matt ran down another one, gave it to Jim, then held my sheep while I clipped hoofs, shot wormer in the mouth, then gave vaccinations and the injectable wormer. Many hoofs were in bad shape and my clippers were not as sharp as I needed them to be. After 120 hoofs I am in desperate need of my Shepherd's Friend Hand Creme! I have some luscious fleeces, particularly my black cross-breds. My purebred BFL ewe gave a measly two pound fleece after 7 months of growth. Very disappointed. I'm tempted to put Othello, my Morehouse Merino ram on her next year, but I haven't decided if Merino/BFL is the best cross. Their fleece types are very different. Jim was here from 10-4, after which we were all thoroughly exhausted. Three old shepherds doing their best to get the flock in shape. Jim is SO funny, patient, and easy to work with. He's a spinner and knitter, and has a flock of Merinos at home. When Jim left we piled all the bags into the F150, along with a mound of the black fleeces I did not want to stuff into bags. I would like to sort through them first. I wanted to shear Othello but Jim advised against it. I have two giant black Merino fleeces I am combining with the black BFL. I hope to get it picked in time to bring it to the mill people at Md. Sheep and Wool. Days are growing short and I go back to work on Monday. Anyway, we crawled back into the apt. to get the coffee pot going, sat down to sip some of the reviving brew, then realized it had started to rain. What a frantic run to get the wool out of the pick up truck. Some of it I stuffed into the back of the Jeep, and some into the milk room to be hoisted up the hay mow ladder and into the grain room for storage. I dream of a real sheep shearing with lots of helping hands and pickers ready to sort through the fleeces as they come off the sheep, and pots of stew simmering in the kitchen for the after-shearing buffet and celebration. After all these years it is still a fantasy. Maybe someday...

Goodbye Dulce

While doing chores last night I went out the east end of the barn to look for Chris, my llama, and there she was, lying on the ground. Somehow I knew she wasn't resting this time. Chris was very nervous, dancing all around her, wondering why she wasn't getting up. It was pitch black dark with no moon and brilliant stars. My headlight showed me everything I needed to see. Dulce has been with me ever since I started in sheep. She came from Ohio and was a registered "Natural Colored" ewe. Dulce has given me beautiful lambs every year prior to this one. My photo of Dulce peeking out a barn window won a second place ribbon at Maryland several years back. I'll miss my old friend. I'm glad she went peacefully. I think she was following the flock out to enjoy the lovely weather and just stopped.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Oh, No, It Can't Be Friday!

Last day of my vacation from school. Didn't get nearly enough done but I put a dent in it. What would I say to someone else in my position? Put all your tasks in order of importance, get to work, pace yourself, and do the best you can. What gets done, gets done. What doesn't get done you do for the next show. I want to make "cleansing grains" from a Rainbow Meadow recipe. It consists of ground hand-made soap, wheat germ, oatmeal and cornmeal. I would throw in a few drops of lavender essential oil, ofcourse. You put a small amount in your palm, moisten it with a little water, and gently rub it onto your skin. Leaves your skin positively yummy. That would require another jar purchase from Sunburst and more labels printed. The local print shop in Norwich does a good job with my creme labels. They could even use the same picture. Whoops, I need to get more creme labels printed! All the loose ends. The glorious weather continues. I have several bunnies in need of shearing so I can get one more dye pot going. Jim Baldwin might come tomorrow to shear more sheep so I can have "dyed locks" on the table. I will have a big run to drop off to John from the mill in Maryland - saves shipping. Right now I am still in my jammies cutting and sewing bag bottom inserts. Still now labels. The ribbon and non-bleeding archival pen I bought looks awful. I wonder if I can prevail upon Carol Crayonbox to do one more favor for me and make bag labels. That girl can do anything she puts her mind to. Fortunately for me she is taking payment for the design work she's done for me in the form of fiber, and anything else she wants from my "shop." I have to sweet-talk Matt into making a shelf system. He will balk and say he doesn't have time, but I will persist. After going round and round he will knock something together in a couple of hours. I've seen him do it before. It's just getting him in the right mindset. On deck for today - two more batches of soap then I'm done with soap. Garden Rose and Gingerberry. I have a nice lye burn on my thumb. Drove into town yesterday to buy the rubber gloves I forgot the day before. After all these years I got cocky and thought I could make soap being careful. Yeah, sure. Yesterday's clove and lime came out sooooo nice. Have to get going, the day's awasten. Work on Monday, no, it can't be true. Thank goodness I'm a teacher. Two more months then summer vacation and Hannah and Luke are here!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Intoxicating Weather

Maybe it was the soap fumes, maybe it was the fact that I'm supposedley, allegedley, on vacation. I don't know...but I laid down on the grass on the hillside, dog leashes in hand, and took a sunbath. Oh, what luxury. All that vitamin D. I got a big batch of Lime essential oil done and another with Clove. I poured some of the molten clove soap into handmade mugs I purchased from Suzanne Farrington at the farmer's market last summer. The German brushes came today and I will tie them onto the mug handle. Won't they be a neat Dad's Day gift. What heaven, breathing in all those lovely fumes...but it gave me a bit of a headache. It's worth it to get all that lovely soap done. I got some dyed wool out on the drying rack, which I had to move to the shelter of the silo from up on the hill when my wool started blowing away in the wind. I checked on Mama Hen up in the hay mow and, to my delight, saw her with 8 little chicks, two more than I thought she had. They were basking in the hay under a sunny window. I brought them ground egg layer mash and freshened their water. She's set up in a sheltered place where she can see who's coming. Smart mama. I put the dog crate where she hatched them all nearby so she can dash in there if she needs to. Better get out there and put out more cat food. I'm trying to keep the cat's tummies full so they will be less inclined to go for chicken nuggets.

More Nice Weather

Maybe it was the hike up to the pond yesterday or maybe it was not having to worry about going to work in the morning, whatever, but I slept 'til nearly 7 and it was heavenly. Life is good. I have damp turquoise wool to put on the drying rack, and another big batch of overdyed black fleece cooled in the dye pot and ready to wash. I just couldn't let this weather go without putting something on the drying rack. I will have a record amount of roving to sell in Md., the farmer's market, and the fall venues. If I keep up the pace with soap I'll be set with that, too. The alignment of the planets must be right, with good karma in the barn (my home) because the soap making is going well. I took the doggies up to the pond last evening for fresh air, as I'm spending a lot of time inside working. Bodie won't swim out to the ball anymore (sad!!)but we have a neat arrangement going which the dogs remembered from last year. I throw the ball out and Holly dives in. She swims like a black torpedoe for the ball, turns around and brings it to Bodie, who has his front legs in, and drops it in the water in front of him. Bodie grabs the ball and I praise them both. Great team effort and both doggies are proud of themselves. Bodie carries the ball back down the hill so he feels "in charge." It's slow-going and we all wait for him. I don't know how much longer we'll have Bodie. I don't want to deal with it but I'll give him lots of extra attention. Last night he was accidentally left outside after our midnight potty walk. This morning I found him standing in the pile of discarded wool I leave out for the kitties, wagging his tail. I think he was proud of himself, being out with Thor and the White Boys.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Titanic Today?

The Titanic sank on April 15. Awesome. What a lesson in humility. And to think it was all because of the inferior slag iron used in the rivets. I never get tired of watching Titanic Revisited shows. New info comes out all the time. Just got back from town where I went to buy the Times and get half gallon milk cartons for soap making molds. It takes six cartons for one batch. What to do with all the milk? I poured a bucket full for the stoop kitties and another for the hay mow kitties, hoping it would keep their bellies full and leave the chicks alone. I thought I had saved enough cartons but no good. I made Expresso soap today and oh, did it come out beautifully. I had a jar of expresso coffee grounds soaking in 180 proof vodka for two years, the last time I made this soap. This time I added some coffee fragrance oil as well, along with all the other wonderful goodies that make my soap special. It set up right away and poured nicely. Next stop is LIME, a very expensive essential oil, wouldn't you know, more $$ than Lemongrass or Orange, but I had to have it. Have to go sling bales, do the doggie routine with Thor, Finn and Knut, and see how I feel about another batch tonight. I think I will finish cutting up the Tea Tree and Cinnamon Leaf instead. They are nice and hard, yet cuttable - the consistency of a brick of cheese right now. Perfect!

Carol's Books

When Carol told me she has "art books" in the Smithsonian Museum I couldn't quite get a handle on what she was talking about. I know she's really into fiber and fabrics, which I totally understand, but the books? My imagination went wild. Finally I got a look when she sent me these shots of an exhibit starting next week in Ithaca. I can't even imagine the skills required to do this type of thing. Someday I'll travel over to Freeville to take a look at her studio. She's invited me before, but two hours away from this farm is quite a distance, with Izzy looking out the window and the lambs baaing for their corn. I'll get there someday.

Another Lovely Day

Oh, it's so beautiful outside. Wish I could lie on my back on the hillside and soak in the sun. Not two weeks before a big show, just can't do it. What I did do, rather unintended, was spread a big dark fleece on the hood of the Jeep to skirt and pick. Got it in the washing machine. My dye pot is cooking part of a miserable little lamb fleece that was so fine but covered with a layer of felted dirt and filthy inside too. A clean fleece is indeed a joy to behold and work with. My mind is scattered with too many things but once I get ahold of a fleece and start handling that wool it straightens me right out. The chicken in the hay mow with chicks looks alright. Every time I climb the ladder to check on her she's got her babies tucked under to warm them. Good Mommie! I wanted to order more hens from Murry McMurry Hatchery but after a half hour on their site getting my order done most of what I wanted was unavailable. I'm going to be happy with what I have, my lovely little Banties. I can get big gorgeous eggs from Mary across the valley. I'm back inside making soap but now I'm tired. Running around with chores then messing with wool standing up for so long has done me in, but I can't be done in. That's the nice thing about sewing, it can be done sitting down. Matt is on his way to Yonkers to visit AJ at the seminary, then to the Bronx to teach lead-safe weatherizing. This morning they had a "Train the Trainer" session. A certified teacher, who was laid off after ten years at his district, came in to critique their presentations and give them pointers. One trainer with Matt's outfit did "You can be a marathon runner, too." One did something on vacation photo storage. Matt, in typical Matt Redmond fashion, did "Care and Maintenance of your Negative Pressure Safety Mask" or something like that. I asked him if he was told he sounds too ghetto. He said the people he teaches weatherization to are very ghetto so he fits right in. Got a point there. Glad he's so into his new career. Speaking of careers, my oils and lye might be cool enough to combine now. Then I might lie down for a few minutes. I have to go into town to buy some more half gallons of milk for soap molds. Can't seem to keep enough on hand these days. My Sunburst Bottle Company order came. Gretchen turned me on to them. The 2 ounce jars are fantastic. Now I can make hand creme! (After lying down for ten minutes I think...)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Springy Day

Spring arrived in Central New York today. It was gorgeous outside. I went to Michaels to find the ribbon and pen I need to make my own bag labels. I don't have time to order the English labels I've been using before Maryland. Carol suggested the ribbon. We'll see how it works. I'll sign the ribbon and glue it in. I got a few more things for soapmaking from WM and, to my delight, found some great magazines in B&N to buy with Mia's gift card. They even had April British Country Living. I missed March and am surprised that Andrew's Christmas gift subscription hasn't kicked in yet. It has a great article on making goat milk fudge, something that my endurance rider shepherd friend, Libby Llop, said she would make for my booth. Have to check with officials in Md. I'm new and don't want to do anything wrong. Oh, the hay mow chicken is tootling around with 6 little chicks. I had to make a judgement call on taking them out of the mow and away from the cats. I watched for a while. Every time a cat came near she put up her wings and lowered her head in a menacing posture and marched toward the cat, who ran away. I will check tomorrow to see if all 6 are still with her. If not I'll catch them and put them all in the chicken room. Every chicken is precious. In hard times I could put the roosters in a pot and they are all good fly catchers. Around sunset I noticed Dulce, my ten year old Natural Colored ewe, lying flat on the hillside. Ran out to check on her and coaxed her up. She stood up on shaky legs and took a long pee. Got her back inside where she's safe. This is my first experience with aged ewes. The foundation ewes from Ohio are old ladies now. I lost one winter before last but the other three are fat and happy. Back to work tonight. I'm feeling okay at ten o'clock so will work on soap for a while. After barn chores I reward myself with some light vanilla ice cream with canned mandarin orange on top, my current late night snack. No more frozen bunny water. Now I have to get some spray for their bottoms to keep flies away. Summertime on the farm. Lincoln was shot on April 14. My Georgia born and raised mother never celebrated Lincoln's birthday in school. I wonder how history would have changed if he lived through Reconstruction. I know he would marvel at who's in the White House now!

No More Bags

I finished a giant Mega-Bundaflicka Spinning Wheel Bag this morning. It's gorgeous. I have a few knitting bags almost finished and many needing the buttons that Mia and I made over the weekend sewn on. That's it for now with the bags. I'm kind of cranky having awakened at 5:30 after staying up to hear Jay Leno's monologue. Didn't make it all the way through the monologue, then went to bed but something woke me up. Can't imagine who did that, but I would bet it had four legs not two. It's noon now and I'm exhausted. I love sewing bags but I have to back off for sanity sake. No problem, as I need to concentrate on soap now anyway. On deck after soap is my Shepherd's Friend Hand Creme, my farm photo notecards, and getting some things framed for the Sheep Photo competition at Md. Sheep and Wool. I won a first several years ago and have three good ones I think might have a chance to win a ribbon. Competition is very stiff, but I'm ready. One is my Princess of the Flowers with the BFL lamb in the flower garden (which I was chased out of when the lady gardener drove up and pitched a fit - I had to grab my lamb and run!), my Izzie Bringing Home the Flock with Izzie driving the sheep up Academy Road, and the last is Three Guys from Brookfield with two rams and a goat buck lined up so perfectly and posing so nicely you would think they are waxed figures. We'll see what happens. I'll try to post them soon. You get a few dollars for a win, taken from entry fees. It's so much fun to see what the sheep people come up with and many are top-notch photographers. I have to lie down for a few minutes before I tackle the kitchen. I have to wash a mountain of dishes before I can make soap (what else is new?) then cut up 96 pounds and set it out to cure. The doggies need to go out but Sister Bernadette is home from the Convent and is working in her yard. She HATES my dogs and you know they will run right to her if I let them out. I'm surely damned to hell, unless my son, Father-in-Training AJ, can pray me out of pergatory. I need all the help I can get.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Itchy Sheep and Broody Hens

I was worried that one of my aged ewes who I call "Ole Crip" (she's had a bum knee for years which buckles under her when she walks) was about to keel over. She was rocking back and forth while leaning on a post. I thought, Oh, No, not now. I then realized she was scratching her back on the post. Whew! Except for Chris' bout with meningeal worm I've been blissfully free from medical problems this winter. Chris is holding with that weak leg seeming to cause him minimal discomfort. I just finished chores and gave him his nightly cracked corn snack. While up in the dark hay mow throwing down bales, I heard a cheap-cheap in the dark. Shined my headlight around and caught a glimpse of a chicken beak in a dog crate. A hen has hatched eggs in there! What to do, what to do. Do I leave her there to hatch the rest of the eggs? Will she be able to fight off the cats when she brings the chicks out? If she is a bantam she can handle the cats, but another hen might not have the fight in her. I thought of closing the door to the crate and dragging it over to the ladder to bring downstairs to the chicken room, but I would need Matt's help. I decided to wait until morning and check out the situation. A hen goes weeks without food and water while she is "broody" but is very thirsty and hungry after the chicks are hatched. It's very inspiring to see a mother hen clucking and fussing over her chicks. She brushes her beak back and forth on the ground to teach them how to find food and never lets them out of her sight. Wouldn't it be nice if all little ones had that kind of parenting?

Maggie's Monday Musings

Okay, Captain Richie is free. Just the scenario I imagined. What crack shots those Navy snipers must be, to hit their marks on a bobbing boat through a window. Unbelievable. All three captors falling down dead around the right out of the movies. On a lighter note, the Obama girls got their puppy, a purebred Portugeuse Water Dog. Okay, that's fine, but I hoped O. would go ahead with his plan to get a shelter dog - "a mutt, like me" he called it. I loved him for that. I have several mutts, and rescued purebreds. A shelter dog in the White House might have given some much-needed exposure to the millions of homeless doggies, languishing in concrete cells, their paws never feeling the grass. I saw one on the news the other day, a great big lovable eight year old fellow whose family lost their home to foreclosure and was abandoned at the shelter. What must he be thinking, wondering where his people went? I believe what the HSUS says, every purchase of a purebred dog dooms many shelter dogs to die. I can hardly stand to think about it. When I heard that Izzy's former owner had a new litter of Izzie's that she was selling for $400 each, my heart leaped, but I could never do it even if I had the money. Poor Izzy was purchased for high $$, then returned, then given to the handyman, who gave him away, and that person gave him to me in desperation when she broke her back in a truck accident. Izzy is set for life with me, but so many are not...I got up early, 5:30, yes, it's a curse this early rising business, but I got my coffee down and starting working right away. I have three bags going on the sewing machine. It's such a joy to stay home and work in my jammies. Once in a blue moon the "doorbell" rings and I have to make my way out through the barn, wading through sheep, and into the milk room to get to the "front door." It's wild. I'm hoping to get my stoop and steps built this summer but the way Matt is going with his new career, well, I'll remain hopeful. He's so wound up about teaching, travelling, and building this new training center I can't even talk about long range planning for the farm without him having seizures. His little non-profit had gazillions of dollars dropped on them by the Feds and they have a limited amount of time to use it. I told him he had to take deep breaths and exude an aura of confidence and "sure, I can get it done, no problem!" attitude. It doesn't look good for my trip to NJ this week. Matt is leaving for the Bronx to teach weatherization from Wednesday to Friday, just when I wanted to be away. I had hoped to pick up baskets from Martha while I was down there, but I haven't heard from her. Maybe she's too busy to make more than what she needs for her own shows, or maybe she didn't read her email. I'll call her today. I'll be in NJ for the new Woodsedge Wools Fiber Festival in Stockton on June 20. Maybe she can bring me some baskets then. I'm off the the PO, the feed mill, and, maybe up to Barnes and Noble to use the gift certificate Mia gave me. A grateful patient gave it to her. I'm hoping to find the new Spin-Off and, if I'm lucky, a copy of Selvedge, a British fiber magazine that's real hard to find. Back to work. Have to get out into the barn and fill up water tanks, etc. Mia did that for me while she was here. What a darling love she is. She called last night, so excited about her new spring purse. I'll make her a dozen if she wants. Then there's cutting up LOTS of soap...tea tree and cinnamon leaf. I have to clean off my soap drying rack, which is covered with sewing stuff and the detritus of my personal life, mail, bits of yarn, photos, old magazines and baskets of junk. I never have enough room. Someday...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Mia's Visit

Mia went back to NJ today, boo-hoo. It was such a joy to have her here, even for just 24 hours. She helped me make clay buttons for bags and wrap soap. She helped me with chores last night and made it so much fun. We were exploring the hay mow in the pitch black dark, with the wind whistling through the cracks and shaking the walls. The doggies went to the pond a couple of times and the kittens hardly touched their blankets. Mia went home with a new spring handbag - the orange and white leaf messenger style, and a bag for one nurse friend of hers. I gave her a special Easter present - the gold earrings I was wearing when I gave birth to her (and AJ!) They were purchased from Tiffany's in NYC by my brother Freddie for my mother, who gave them to me when I had swishy places to wear them. Now Mia is the one going to swishy affairs and I'm home on the farm most of the time. She was thrilled and confessed she wanted them for a long time. She wore them home and was happy that they took attention away from the black eye she received when young Finn, Andrew's dog, clocked her on the face during a visit to the vet's office.

Kid in the Sand

What do you do with a kid when you want him to stay put? Try like a charm, except when the tide comes in!

Easter on the Farm

Woke up at 5:30 and saw the first morning light of Easter '09. I lingered under the covers snuggling with Mia who was more intent on getting some rest than chatting with her mother (I got her to talk anyway) then couldn't stay in bed any longer. There's always too much to do to stay in bed! Got the fire blazing in the wood stove, made my famously strong French Roast foamy milk coffee and got the doggies out. A blast of cold wind made me wish I put on more than a sweater over my granny gown. The thermometer said 24 F. but it felt colder with the wind. Some sheep jumped over the stanchions to get outside and graze, but Thor lying in the doorway to the Northside chased most of them back in. One little sheep is on the hill eating good green grass, a sight that delights the shepherd after a long winter of slinging those costly bales. Matt is still saying "We made it, we made it!" (through another winter) but it still feels like winter out there to me. I bet we'll have another snow storm yet. I leave you with this picture of little Velvet AKA "Monkey" who I found lying flat on the hay next to her mother, Celeste, the day before Easter in '07. I tube fed her warm milk then put her in a laundry basket on the oven door in the milk room to thaw overnight. I thought surely I would find her dead the next morning. When Easter dawned I went out there to check on her and this is what I saw...a tiny little doe kid standing up, calling for her mother. She was my Easter miracle. Now she's a big, fat, sassy doe goat who rules the roost. Monkey was the one who I heard murmuring under hundreds of bales of hay last summer after the elevator filled up the barn over her. Another miracle. She's just that kind of tough girl who won't give in. As I look out the window now she's eating dog food from Knut's dish. No other animal can get near Knut's kibble. It's all about attitude, and Monkey's got it.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy Easter

We spent Holy Saturday shearing goats with Jim Baldwin from Cortland. Big old Tommy Boy is now fairly naked and enjoying the ability to scratch where it itches. There are not many shearers who will do goats. Goats have lots of bones sticking out in odd places and the horns stick the shearer in the back of the leg. Jim scoffs at this attitude and just gets the job done. He's a big old hippie with a great sense of humor. Loren Wildenstein came to help out. The weather was just perfect with a sunny sky and lovely cool breeze. We worked until 2 or so when Mia rolled in from New Jersey to spend Easter with her mom. What a lovely surprise. After cleaning up a bit (still smelling like goats) we went to Frank's pizzeria for late lunch. Now I'm bushed. Mia went running up the big hill to the pond with the dogs while I gave myself a ten minute nap. We watched "Shooter" yet again (oh, Markie Mark!) while wrapping Patchouli Soap with the new logo, soap labels and fabric from my personal designer, Carol Crayonbox. Can't wait to introduce my new farm logo at Maryland Sheep and Wool. Gotta get some rest.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Squeaky Clean

I made soap today after a long no-soap hiatus. Always makes me nervous when I set up to make soap when I haven't done it in a while. I still check my directions after all these years to make sure I have the amounts correct. My Rainbow Meadow shipment came just in time so I had everything I needed. It takes a couple of hours to get organized, heat the oils, mix the sodium hydroxide, heat the milk, honey and shea butter, taking temperatures of all the fluids to make sure they are all between 95 and 98 degrees when the lye is added to the oils. I always hold my breath, figuratively, and wait for the oils to start changing into soap. It still gives me a thrill...especially when the newly formed "soap" sets up nicely and I can pour the thick liquid into the paper milk carton molds. If it pours well I know it will harden and cut well. It costs SO much money for the ingredients I don't want to botch it up. I cover the containers full of soap with a wool blanket and hide them under the counter to "cook" for three days. I made a 48 pound batch of Cinnamon Leaf and a 48 pound batch of Tea Tree. I have the Tea Tree fabric for wrapping after it cures. Carol sent me fabric for the Cinnamon Leaf, still waiting for me at the Post Office (don't get me started). I'll be at the PO when it opens in the morning. I'm expecting a box from Libby Llop in Caledonia, too. She's knitting some things from her handspun to put in my Maryland booth. Carol sent me a picture of her new granddaughter, Chloe, born just last month. Here they are together, Chayce and Chloe. OH!, what cute little Easter bunnies they are!

In the News

Yikes, it's true. It's on tape! Obama really did bow to King Abdullah. I was hoping that maybe his shoe was untied and he quickly dipped down to tie it. The conservative Dem-bashing Fox network is going wild. I don't like the looks of that either. He hardly nodded his presidential head to Queen Elizabeth, symbolic head of a democratic government, but he downright kow-towed the Muslim leader of a country where women are not allowed to vote or drive. Hmmmm. Nope, I don't like it. Granted, the Bushes held Abdullah's hand, kissed him on the cheek, and spent gazillions of dollars and American lives protecting his oil deposits, but I thought O. had more class. I can see the political ads in 3 years when O. runs for re-election. That footage will reappear big time. Let's see, what else? Pirates holding the captain of an American vessel headed for Africa with food relief??? Nope, don't like that either. Send in the Navy commandos to swim under the boat and climb over the side, slitting the captor's throats from behind as the captain breaks free. Maybe I've been watching too many James Bond movies lately. I don't like those pirates messing around with relief shipments to starving people. Where's the Big Stick? Yes, the Big Stick is there in the form of warships, but getting him out alive is another thing. And the worst news I've seen in a long time - Canadians clubbing baby seals on the ice!!!???? Brutal slaughter of the innocents. I wish the ice opened up and swallowed those murderers. I confess I thought the seal hunt was over years ago, but there was the footage on TV. Lord save us, what barbaric creatures we are. A mother seal will mourn over the skinned carcass of her baby for weeks. There I was, in Wal-Mart yesterday, trying to figure out where the frozen fish sticks I wanted to buy came from. The Humane Society says to boycott all Canadian Fishing Industry products to protest the seal hunt. I couldn't find where the fish sticks came from so I put it down. My, am I the opinionated one this morning. You might think I have too much time on my hands. Quite the contrary. I think I'm going to turn off the news and make soap...lots of soap to wash away the sins of the world. That would take a LOT of soap...

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Happy Happy

Lovely full moon tonight. Not a bad day in school. The day before vacations is usually a wash, with movies, basketball, and pancake breakfasts in the classroom. I was the flipper this morning. Off to Wal-Mart after school to pick up olive oil (OO in the soap making industry) and vegetable shortening for soapmaking. I hate to go as it's across Norwich in the wrong direction. My Jeep was full of boxes to send to the carding mill, and I didn't get out of WM in time to get them shipped. PO closed tomorrow, shearer coming Saturday AM. Will have to dash out early to B'field to mail them before he comes. Tough to work a full time job and run a business too. As it is I know John at the mill in Michigan will roll his eyes when he sees more boxes of wool coming from me so close to the show date. He will bring it all to me in Maryland, saving me the cost of shipping home. I will bring more wool to him for carding and he'll bring it to me at shows in the fall. The wool cycle goes round and round. I have to make soap like crazy to get it cured in time. What else is new? Too much to do, too little time. At least I can stay home and get it done. My Army Preacher son AJ was going to come for Easter but has to stay at the seminary for church obligations. Ever since the kids left for college, the military, and the four corners of the earth we've been seperated for holidays. I've never seen Hannah and Luke dressed up on Easter morning. Easter was a big deal when I was growing up and my mother went full tilt. We were dressed to the nines and had Easter baskets we could hardly pick up they were so full of goodies. I still can't get used to not having my family around me but have to deal with it. Staying crazy busy helps a little.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Just In Time

Vacation starts tomorrow at 3 PM. Just in time before I lose my mind. This job business is much too confining and constricting. I want to stay home on the farm. My animals are so uncomplicated and forgiving. They think I'm fantastic, especially when I show up with a sack of feed or bale of hay. After being home for a while and playing with my dogs I came to my senses and decided the only way I could keep all these critters with full bellies would be to keep my job and make the best of it. One nice thing happened today. While in the cafeteria for my early morning duty I saw Laurie passing a card around to sign for someone's birthday. When I went to sign it I saw that it was an old Maggie's Farm photo notecard called Shearing Day, with big bags of wool gathered together. I was really flattered, and inspired to get more cards made of my photos. I haven't made new cards since I moved to New York! I've also picked out three recent farm photos to enter into the Maryland Sheep and Wool photo festival. I won a first a few years back and have better pictures now. A pretty little snow was falling all day without sticking, and it's cold outside. When I saw the full moon it all made sense. No wonder I'm losing it. There's a lot going on today. It's the beginning of Pesach, or Passover, and also the Jewish Holiday of the Sun, which only comes every 28 years. The sun is in the same position it was on the day of creation. Very cool. Passover is a wonderful Jewish holiday. If you ever watched Charlton Heston and the Ten Commandments movie as a kid, you know the whole story of Passover, with the plagues and the escape from Egypt. If I wasn't going crazy with getting ready for the biggest sheep show of the year I would make a seder. Gotta go with the ebb and flow of the tide - it's the moon thing again. Craziness all around.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Spring Snow

I drove to school in a pretty snowfall today. The road was covered with a dusting over the landscape. I had left in plenty of time, a miracle, so I could go slow and enjoy it. I had fun baking and making smoothies with the kids, already putting a dent in the loot we got from Wal-Mart on Friday. Picked up my two spare sewing machines from Doug Hilts in Norwich. He was recommended by the Sew Nice quilt shop and does a good job. Doug grew up in Brookfield and his brother farmed the big spread next to Mary for many years. Small world. I got 33 pounds of bright blue roving mailed out to the mill, with two big boxes of the orange/yellow run to go out tomorrow. Brought home groceries and was pretty done in after toting it all inside. Got my hand creme ingredients ordered, along with jars from a new company Gretchen uses. I'm beginning to think I have everything under control, but I have to keep up the pace. I got sick right before Rhinebeck with a horrible cold and was miserable the whole weekend. Don't want that to happen again. Many little challenges on a daily basis but they pale in comparison to what I hear on the news every day including earthquakes, devastating illnesses, shootings and massacres due to unemployment and desperation - it goes on and on. I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to make some extra income doing what I enjoy. Tonight I wandered around the giant hay mows upstairs in the near darkness. It helps clear my head. The enormity of the building still amazes me. Even when I get the big room built upstairs in the newer section, I'll have the old hay mow to walk out in, to sit on the bales and play with the kitties. What heaven.

Sunday, April 05, 2009

Time Off

I've been sewing a lot lately. I have 25 Bundaflicka knitting bags in various stages of completeness hanging all around me. Most of them need buttons. I have the clay and need to sit down and start rolling and squeezing. Some need the cedar wood inserts for the rigid bottom. I have to buy a package of construction shims - perfect for inserts. A good bunch is hard to find. Some are split and full of knots. Some of the bags need snap frames which I order from an outfit in Louisiana. Most are 95% finished, which gives me a good feeling. I have a few bags in the trunk already. I am shooting for 40 for Maryland. People like to have a few to choose from. After sewing all day and watching the 360 Battle of the Pacific on the Military Channel all the way through Guadalcanal I thought I had to get out of the barn and get some fresh air. While walking the doggies down the drive I thought, oh, let's climb the giant hill that is my farm. I haven't been up there all winter. The snow is gone and although the pasture is wet the climbing went easier than I thought. We walked around the pond three times and, shame on me, I had no ball for old Bodie. I got him to walk in by throwing rocks out, but he knows that trick and wouldn't swim out for anything but a tennis ball. Bad mama! We made our way down while taking in the glorious views and lovely spring air. I needed to be reminded why I am working so hard and it was just the thing to keep me going. I peaked in the little show trailer which had been cut off by snow and found some shaving blocks, good boxes for shipping fiber, and a closet FULL of beautiful roving I forgot I had. Wool is certainly a renewable resource. I'm about to start boxing up probably 100 pounds now. It's tricky to get just the right combinations of a base color, then colors for variegating. I'll have mostly bright, dyed roving this spring, and darker natural colors for the fall. I have a lot of black Merino and black BFL to sort through that I'll bring to Md. to give to the mill for fall shows. I have the shelving issue to deal with. Carol is sending me some plans for shelving she might build for her booth at Fingerlakes. Kimmie Cornerstone has a line on cheap shelving I can order in a pinch if I don't get some built. Time is getting short...

Cold and Blustery

Had such a good night sleep I can't believe it. I made my strong, foamy coffee then took the doggies out in my flannel nightie with boots and big Carhartt coat. Got outside and was blasted by the wind and wished I had my bunny scarf wrapped around my head and neck. Tried to build a fire in the wood stove but the wind blew the smoke back at me and I gave up. I'm going to have to rent a lift to get yet another section of smoke stack up top. Matt got up and turned the heat on, which I turned off when he went back to sleep. The electric company got too much of my money this winter. It will get warmer in the apt. as I cook and move around. I was sewing late then caught the first few minutes of SNL, which wasn't very funny, and I don't know a lot of the young hip bands they have on. I went to the SNL studio once for a filming and DAVID BOWIE was performing. Now THAT was a thrill!! But David Bowie is getting on in years and so am I. I've found that kids are fascinated with the 1960's but not the people who lived the 60's because they are dinosaurs now. The rumor went around the school that my principal was celebrating her 50th birthday. When I saw how horrified she was when hearing we thought she was turning 50 (she was 47 and that was bad enough) I thought, oh, wow, old is really uncool. But time marches on and they will be old someday and don't want to be confronted with the fact. It's inevitable that it will happen to them and they want to enjoy being young, or being oblivious about it. I have no problem with that. My sheep don't care how old I am as long as I take good care of them and they'll take care of me.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

"A Hard Rain is Gonna Fall"

Rained like we should build an ark last night. Pounding on the metal roof the Sisters built when they were young farmgirls. The men would hand the long metal sheets up to the girls and they would nail them on. Too warm to snow last night, but it's colder now and the snow is coming down. Glad I am on high ground. I keep wondering what is going on down river, four hours south, where I used to live. Once you've lived through bad floods you are forever cognisant of what water can do. My farm is muddy, as the settlers built this farm 200 years ago on the springs coming down the mountain. Makes sense as they didn't have to go far for water. I got four bags cut out before I went to bed last night. I can sew 'til the cows (or sheep) come home. I got up early to take the dogs out and make coffee, nectar of the goddesses. Came back inside and thought I lost Izzy. Ran all around yelling Izzy! Izzy! No Izzy. I must have sounded like the Octomommy on the 911 call when she lost little JJ. I was about to get Matt up to go down to the road and check for the worst. If I found Izzy dead on the road I would lose my mind. Came back inside to get a swallow of coffee for sustenance and there was Izzy, wagging his tail. He was under the covers with Matt, sleeping in, wondering why Mommy was screaming his name! Have to go out and get veg. shortening and olive oil for soapmaking. Plan to make Tea Tree and Cinnamon Leaf this weekend. I find soap making very relaxing despite the work and mess. There is something just so BASIC about soap! It's my way of washing away the worry and woe of the world. And it's just so cozy and dry in my little barn home. No more does my hair freeze to the wall of the little trailer. I'm gonna give that tin can away to the next guy that comes around looking for scrap metal. Good riddance.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Friday Again

Where did the week go? Time is flying by. I realized during 8th period today that my nerves are frayed and I'm ready to blow my top. Fortunately, the bell rang and it was over. Four days next week and we get a nice break. I went out with two teachers to Wal-Mart to get equipment for our kitchens. The beautiful new wing is equipped with sinks in every room and a full kitchen in mine. I share it with the French teacher and we both want to cook more with kids. Today was the principal's birthday and we presented her with a big, heart-shaped chocolate cake made by a student in my room. It was so much fun. I love birthdays, as anyone who reads this journal knows. I believe everybody should have a special birthday. It validates our anniversary of our existence in this life. Well, our principal was so impressed with our cake she made me head of the newly formed Birthday Committee. She wants every student in our wing to have a birthday cake, and I will be responsible for helping the students make the cakes. Good deal. Perfect job for me. So what did we buy at WalMart with the school credit card??? Imagine, three teachers running wildly up and down aisles, tossing things into carts and pushing ahead. We had until four o'clock to get the credit card back and there we were, three carts full in line behind another woman with a huge cartload. Called the school at 4 to say we were still in line. Yes, enough cake mix and rainbow sprinkles for a whole lot of birthday cakes, in addition to basics like mixer, blender, coffee pot (now I can bring mine home!) cookie sheets, flour, sugar, spices, canned fruit for smoothies, dish drainer, and lots of other goodies. Good thing there were three of us to go in the Support Services building to return the school credit card. We were afraid for them to see the bottom line, but some secretaries took a peak and rolled their eyes. We have to take the receipt to the principal's office on Monday, and thought we would dash in, put it on the chair while she's at lunch, then run out quick. We left the loot in Denise's truck for the weekend and will have the kids carry it in on Monday. Darned, I forgot a can opener! The larder will be full. I have one student who likes to open the cabinets and stare at the groceries stored there. I wonder what's in her kitchen at home? Drove back to the farm in the rain to find a very happy Matt, who is now an EPA Certified Lead Abatement Supervisor. He passed the three day course with a 92. Way to go, Matt.

Maggie Musings

So tired last night I went to bed at 10:30. Should have stayed up to sew but couldn't. Too much sugar. I do a lot of baking with the kids now - a real blessing in terms of not having to fight with them to work, we bake then we work - but there are too many goodies around. Today is the principal's birthday and we made a big heart shaped cake yesterday. Lots of finger licking with the chocolate icing! I got up this morning at 5:30 when I heard Matt taking the dogs out. He has another day of Lead Safe certification testing. I told him to just remember, "Paint chips - baaaaad (spoken in deep scary voice). Nice smooth painted walls - goooood (spoken in light happy voice!" He said he would try to remember those tips. Thank you Heavenly Mother that it's Friday. These five day work weeks are a killer. Four more days and spring vacation. No vacation for me, but I will try to get down to NJ to pick up some baskets from Martha Dreswick. She won't answer my emails, but with Martha that doesn't mean anything. I know she's working those fingers around those stems when she's not driving that school bus around. Martha makes the most beautiful baskets that are so much a part of my display. I want some to sell. I have some gorgeous new fabric to cut out and lots of bags to sew on. I have to bring more boxes home from the trash pile at BOCES to get my fiber shipped out to the mill. Lots of work going into those boxes. Hours and hours of picking, washing and boiling, not to mention raising the critters to begin with. I think I bought around ten pounds of Jacquard dyes last June and I am almost out. It was heaven having all that dye to work with instead of teeny tiny jars. My colors are much more vibrant this year. I'll start making creme soon. Interesting, I use old creme every night when I go to bed. All the jars that I find lost around the house, jars that I found to be gritty and didn't sell, and it's still good. The lavender scent has turned into a more Vicks Vaporub scent, but it still cures little scratches, bug bites and sores. I know I should put a chemical preservative in my creme but I don't want to. Turns me off. I like stuff I can spell in my creme. Almost seven better get going. I heard from my beautiful Hannah yesterday. She hurt her knee in gym class and was wheel chaired out. Hannah will be taller than me soon. So nice to get some tall genes back in the family. I can't wait for her to come and help me with these chores and make me scrambled eggs every morning. Won't be long...Kimmie Cornerstone, bless her heart, has found me a German angora buck so we can have babies again. Won't that be wonderful. I just can't get my hands on enough angora. What a miracle fiber that is. It streaks so beautifully in my roving and adds a touch of warmth and fuzz to the yarn. Have to remember to bring a cage to Maryland.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Very Exciting

Carol, my graphic artist art book crafter and knitter friend has designed a logo for me. I just love it. I've always wanted a logo that would go on soap labels, hang tags, business cards, etc. She's brimming with ideas and energy. It's amazing and I'm so lucky. Carol has been designing her own Crayon Box knitting patterns for years, and knows how to write a pattern. Carol is going to adjust the color of the soap labels to the fabric I use to wrap the soap. I'm still incredulous at her talent and generosity with her time. Okay, they won't upload to show you the picture, but you will see them on display soon. I sent in my Hamilton Farmer's Market application today. The market starts on May 2 when I will be in Maryland. I will be there the following week. I'm excited to see my farmer's market friends and to come home with beeswax candles and fresh veggies every week. The weather was gorgeous today. It seems too soon to have this lovely warm weather. I walked in the pasture and saw green grass coming up through the thatch. The thistle plants are coming back, too. Have to deal with them before they flower again this year.