Sunday, February 28, 2010

Goodbye Olympics

"Watched" the replay of many ice skating routines while doing things around the apartment. Pretty lake effect snow falling all morning, now given way to some sunshine, leaving blue lights in the holes our footsteps leave in the snow. I made fancy spinach/cheddar cheese omelettes for breakfast. Around here cheddar cheese is called "sharp" cheese to the point where the waitress in the local diner didn't know what I was talking about when I asked for cheddar cheese. Interesting local vernacular here in the North Country. Got the long weekend's worth of dishes washed, scraped crud off the stove - best I could do with no Brillo pads - and swept the apartment. Will do school paperwork until time for chores then closing ceremony. I'll miss the Olympics but the timing is perfect. If it went on too much longer we would get tired of it and not appreciate it. Canada did an unbelievable job and I'll miss all the wintery designs. I loved the tall pines, craggy mountains and the totem poles. I hope they have more whales in the ceremony tonight. I was sick and slept through the whale portion of the opening night show. I want to knit some of the nifty hats I've seen participants wear on TV, like the moose, stars, pines, etc. I'm sure the patterns are around somewhere. Some knitter smarter than myself has probably put them on a computer program and is selling them already. Back to school tomorrow. I like the kids but not the bureaucracy. I'm sure most teachers say the same thing. The snow gave us a nice vacation. Matt is going away again to teach Lead Safe Weatherization in Rochester and Buffalo. I asked him why his trainees can't do it, since his annual evaluation says he should do more delegating. Matt is the only EPA Lead Safe Trainer currently certified in NY State. He says one guy in the office will be ready soon. I don't mind doing everything myself, even with the heavy alfafa bales, but the funky electric goes out, and things can happen with the pipes, etc. I haven't fallen out of the hay mow yet, and I have my cell in my sports bra all the time. I have Jury Duty next week, and I don't know how to get to Wampsville. They said come dressed appropriately for court - very funny. I guess that means no jeans! My Colorscape application with images is due on the 12 with jury fee. I want to do Colorscape again so I better get cracking and put some pictures on a disk. They sent me a report card - very interesting. Two judges rated my booth. Out of seven categories, with the highest score of seven, one judge gave me all sixes and a nice note saying she bought some of my stuff. The other judge gave me all three's and said my "mission statement was not clear." Glad there were two judges to average out my score!

A Love Story

When Andrew's great-grandparents decided to marry there was no money for an engagement ring. After seven years of wedded bliss, his great-grandfather was able to finally buy his bride the ring he wanted to give her years before. He purchased a flawless diamond ring from Tiffany's in New York. When Andrew told his parents he wanted to marry Mia, they went to the bank vault and got The Ring. They gave it to Andrew to have in hand when he proposed to Mia. I haven't seen it on Mia's finger yet, but she tells me it looks and feels fantastic. Here is a picture that Andrew sent me of the ring, before he gave it to Mia.

Still Snowing

The trip to the Louis Gale Feed Mill in Waterville was a ride through a winter wonderland. A state forest seperates Brookfield from route 20 and Waterville. I stopped to take pictures of the beautiful pines, boughs heavy with snow. I usually go the opposite way to route 8 when I go to work. It's a treat to see the prettier view of my farm coming over the hill.

Tulip Goes to Disneyland

My fiber friend, Kim, AKA "Tulip" (Dutch/Canadian), spent a week in Disney World with her extended family. I personally think they had a lot of nerve leaving their mother country on Olympic week, but the trip was a gift from Tulip's parents and they dutifully travelled to sunny, balmy Florida. Upon return to Canada, they attempted to renounce their Canadian citizenship and defect to the US. When that didn't work out, Tulip resigned herself to spinning fabulous designer yarns and knitting nifty garments to sell at American shows. Poor little Kimmie...Here is a shot of Tulip's two little petals in Disney World.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Libby's Sweaters

My shepherd/long distance rider friend, Libby, designs and knits fabulous sweaters. I'm always surprised when she has time to sit down and do such amazing fibery things. Libby has hundreds, yes, hundreds of sheep and lots of horses. She puts the horses on a treadmill to keep them in shape for the endurance riding she does. When she first told me about her rides I didn't believe her, so I Googled her and there were the stats. Like, Wow! Libby's 500 acres farm is about 3 hours away. I wish we lived closer. I would ask Libby to adopt me and be my fiber-mentor. Anyway, Libby and I share a love of good, handspun classic sweaters. Here is a sweater she designed for one of her three handsome sons.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Big News!

Mia just called to tell me Andrew popped the question, ring in hand. Two Jersey tomatoes will be pureed together! I was sound asleep on the sofa with my cell phone ringing and didn't hear it. Mia called the main phone and got Matt who woke me up. Then I heard the sweet little voice, "Mommy I'm engaged!" Mia doesn't know that Andrew called a week ago to ask our blessing, which was happily given. No date has been set, but when Mia said she can finally buy "all those magazines" I got the feeling a date will be set in the near future. I can't wait to see the flawless Tiffany diamond ring that has been in Andrew's family for generations. I'm so excited I think I better sit down and spin some wool, after I have a sip of sherry! Oh, I'm overwhelmed! My little Mia! Twin A! Briday showers! Dish patterns! Dress fittings! I better pick out a pattern and get started on a wedding quilt! My mind is racing! I'm thrilled! Marriage is a good thing...

Brave Little Chickadees

All through the two days of snow storms the chickadees who live in the big pine tree have been coming to the feeder for seed. They are so tough and courageous. One can learn many life lessons from them.

Today's Bag

I posted this gun metal gray chenille tapestry bag on Etsy today. I would like to put my head on it and take a nap, the fabric is so luxurious. It has 8 inside pockets, 9 inches high. Amazing! The lining is so perfect. Speaking of naps...

My Favorite Tree

This towering pine in my barnyard has sheltered many a cow, sheep, llama, dog, chicken and goat over the years. I wish there were more of them on my land. It's just so beautiful, especially when the boughs are heavy with snow. The little farmhouse. where the old farmer lives, has a few of these gigantic pines in the tiny yard, too close to the house. Doesn't make sense. Did they think they wouldn't grow so big? If one falls it will surely crush the house. They can't give shade to the sheep squeezed together on a little lawn (even though my sheep have run over there many times to get under them.) I'll just consider it one of the many mysteries of life and this farm.

Currier and Ives

Can't help but think of the Currier and Ives calendars that people used to have in so many offices, stores and homes years ago when I ride around my area of Central New York. The view of my farm from across the valley is particularly lovely after it snows. Digging out was made much easier when Will Nolan, our dairy farmer neighbor stopped by to help out. This snow is wet and heavy, making every shovel full a struggle. We managed to get out and where did I go first - the feed store, ofcourse, for Billy Goat's milk replacer, dog bones and cat food. I was lusting after a new pair of Scrub Boots but they will have to wait. We took the long way home to look at the pretty hillside of Maggie's Farm from across Beaver Creek.

Home Again

Robin just called with good news. Another snow day. The carbon monoxide alarm went off about 2:30 AM and I opened the windows on both sides of the apartment. Didn't take long with the cold wind to clear the smoke out from the wood stove. Blasted thing doesn't work right when it's windy. Got up again to close the windows but couldn't get back to sleep. I wouldn't have been much good in school today anyway. Poor Matt took three hours to get home from the residential facility in the Catskills where he was teaching weatherization this week. He was holding a graduation there today but can't get back there. All his training equipment is still there. He had some stories to tell about his commute last night, like a snow plow being stuck, spinning it's wheels. He got home in time to watch the Canadian vs. US Women's Hockey game. Very exciting. Matt kept screaming OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD! Those rowdy girls played a real good game. The Olympic Committee is upset with the Canadian girls this morning after they smoked cigars and drank beer on the ice last night. I loved seeing those Finnish girls get their bronze medals. Disappointed with the skating long program. I don't trust the judging. How could Rachel Flatt be 7th after landing all those jumps? Oh, well, what do I know. I have enough hay for today, and will have to shovel like crazy to get out and go to Postma's to pick up more. The hay situation again...I'm almost out of kid milk replacer for Billy Goat, but could always milk out one of the moms if I had to. Billy was so happy to see me climbing up the ladder with his bottle yesterday that he pitched forward and fell out of the hay mow. Luckily he landed on hay, no broken legs. He spent the rest of the day and last night with me. What a cutie, I love his company but need to have the mop handy. He follows me around the apartment jumping on my nightgown like he's playing with another goat. I think I'm going to spin some more, drink some coffee, and make myself some toast with marmalade. Love that marmalade. It's the little things...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mostly Mohair

I'm spinning this old mohair roving. It's slightly coarse, as mohair will be, and I love it. It's spinning very thin. I usually let the fiber tell me how to spin it, and this wants to be fine. I think it will make an excellent thread to ply with something fuzzier, like fawn angora. Tulip????

My House

As I was outside enjoying the snow with the doggies I had a stange kind of flashback. My barn suddenly looked like somewhere I have lived before. Then I remembered a photograph of my grandfather's house in Sweden. Maybe that's why I was attracted to this old, classy structure. I still marvel at the enormity of it and the lovely lines and angles. The snow makes it look even more Swedish.

Sea Creatures?

What's this in my bath tub? Some kind of strange marine life? Fuzzy anemones? Oh, that's right. It's my handspun Mother Fiber having a rinse after washing. It will be fun to knit a swatch and see how it came out. I can tell right now that it will be more boucle than woolen. Must be that strand of llama, shrinking a bit unevenly compared to the other strand of wool/angora. Might be nice. If so, I won't ever be able to duplicate it...but that's the fun of "art yarn."

Lovely Lilly

While I was gazing at the pretty field yesterday morning, Lilly was being very affectionate. Her eyes were soft and her ears relaxed while she waited for her scratching. She's not asking for food, she's just enjoying my company. I kept backing up to take a picture of her in the snow, but she followed me everywhere I went. Lilly's son, Forrest, also has his mother's loving, gentle nature. His twin brother, Denzel, is a pushy, annoying bully. Sheep are so much like people with their many personality traits. I find them so interesting. Lilly's mother is still with me. I bought her ten years ago as a full grown sheep from a breeder in Ohio. Keeping these old ladies is becoming a challenge. I have one of my founding flock in a pen where I can feed her seperately as her front knees are totally shot. She seems very contented with her situation for now. I hate to think of Lilly being that way, but it will come. Sheep only live for 10 - 12 years and time is slipping by so quickly.

School Closed Today

Snow storm coming up from the South. The day off we were hoping for is a reality. What a gift, one of the best things about teaching. A furlough from the Front. I brought special ed paperwork home which I would have to stay late again to do. Got out of there at five last night without hardly denting it. Before I left for work yesterday I paused at the east end door of my barn to gaze at the beautiful, wild back field under the ridge.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Thank You Snow Plows

I live on a school bus route, fortunately, because I have to go two miles to get to a main road. The plows do a great job of clearing the snow and ice. This is what Academy Road looked like yesterday and it snowed again last night. A major storm is on the way for tomorrow. Teachers and students are very optimistic...

Sewing at Dawn

It feels good to be sewing in earnest again. I've broken the bonds with my spinning wheel for now. I adore my old Singer, almost a hundred years old, purchased from a New Berlin quilter, Linda Foote, for $75 with the cabinet. I had my Janome fixed, and it's broken again. Won't invest any more repair money in that machine. The old heavy metal machines are the best. I need a new drive belt on this one but it's sewing fine for now, with a little squeaking and a loud motor. I heard Matt mutter something about oh, no, she's sewing again. He'll have to get used to it because my machine will be running hard for the next eight weeks.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Libby's Lambs

My two shepherd friends, Mary and Libby both have a bumper crop of lambs this year. I stopped to pick up eggs at Mary's farm on the way home and got a look at her barnyard full of little angels. They surrounded me and nibbled on my fingers and jeans. Libby has a lot of black lambs this year. I adore black wool but my customers prefer vibrant colors which you can only get by dyeing white wool. I have a giant tub of black BFL and Merino fleeces to sort. I'll send it to the mill to be blended with streaks of vibrant colors. I might just leave some black for myself.

Another Day on the Front

Woke up at 4:50. Olympic Curling on TV. That would ordinarily be the perfect vehicle to more sleep, but I decided to spin some wool instead (after coffee and inside kittie feeding that is). I have another giant bobbin full of mostly natural colored three ply llama, BFL and angora, spun and plied very tightly, the only way I can do it these days. I might sneak half a skein to make myself a pair of socks. I'll display one sock at this season's shows to help sell the yarn. Better turn a nice heel on that one. It snowed a bit last night, with more coming now. Perfect day to stay home but no can do. Busy week with paperwork and some changes in the classroom, which never go over well with students who like to think they are running the show. Luckily this Batwoman has a Robin to back her, not my spinning wheel! Better hit the road.

Monday, February 22, 2010


The day just ran away with itself. It was too long yet not long enough. I spent an hour with one student, helping him to write the elusive Five Paragraph Essay. Kids don't know how to write anymore because they don't have to write. They text instead, or play video games, or fiddle with the Ipod when years ago they might have been writing a letter or in a diary, or, heaven forbid, reading a book in the quiet of a silent bedroom or tree house. Harry Potter helped stave off the reading block, then the Twilight series more recently. Sad thing is, kids love to be read to when they are forbidden to use the nasty little boxes. The big, brash, swaggering teens sit in rapt attention when a teacher reads a story to them. The need to read or listen is still there, for now that is. I'm sure that with years and years of favoring technology over reading future generations will be even less desirous of good literature. But for now, I'm glad the day is over. The school day ran into a meeting and it was four o'clock before I realized I didn't have a late morning or afternoon cup of coffee. The damage was done, I was crashing and craving something to wake me up. It was after five that I was home and able to brew myself a cup. It's a terrible thing to be chemically dependent. It's after nine and the caffeine never caught up. I made tuna melt for dinner tonight, surprisingly tasty and filling. Chores done and time to hold down the sofa for a while and watch the Olympics. Snowy days coming later this week, travel will be tricky. Wouldn't a snow day be nice?

Wound Too Tight

Spent most of the weekend playing with fiber. I don't always allow myself the luxury of spinning what I produce to sell to other people to pay for having all this fun raising my own fiber. I do like to do some "quality control testing," while spinning and knitting my own yarn. My spinning is slightly tight and overspun, more so with plying, giving my yarn a "left hand bias" while knitting. I don't really have the energy or determination right now to remedy that problem, but the worsted spun makes for great sock yarn, so what's the worry?

Where Did She Go?

Spent the whole weekend plying skeins and winding off the bobbins while watching the Olympics. Time well spent, although I feel guilty having so much fun sitting down. I have several real nice skeins. I keep wondering where this wonder-woman is, you know, the one who works day and night for months to create a booth full of lovely products. I don't know where she went but she better surface sometime soon or we will all be in big trouble around here.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Billy's Back

I decided to put Billy out in the barn for the weekend. When he knocked over my big mug of hot, foamy French Roast on Saturday morning that was it. The sweater went on and up in the hay mow he went. I brought his bottle to him and decided to leave him there for the night. This morning when I was out in the barnyard with the doggies I could hear Billy's bleatings. It was time for his morning bottle and the goat mommies were not offering to help him out. I climbed the ladder with his warm bottle, fed him and went back in the apartment. Later on this morning, in walked Matt with Billy in his arms. "I brought a surprise for you," he said. I sighed and said okay, Billy's back. Matt was worried about Billy and was sure that since he was out of sight he was surely out of my mind. The wind is howling and it's getting colder out there, but the hay mow has a nice bed of hay on the floor and alfafa bales for little goaties to munch on. I'll let him stay inside for the afternoon, but tough love is in order here, even if a big Billy Goat has a soft spot for a little Billy Goat.

A Bit of Spring

Robin, my trusty classroom aide at school, brought this primrose flower in for me last week. It really brightens up my desk. The gourd planter, my Christmas gift from Robin, was created by her sister, a very crafty lady and an expert knitter. The Christmas cactus it originally contained was not doing very well, so Robin replaced it with the primrose. Robin is very thoughtful, and is really good with the students. My job would be frighteningly difficult without Robin. She is always keeping me out of trouble with paperwork, which I hate because it takes me away from my students, and reminding me of what I have to get done. Robin goes for a walk around the school with her friends every day, but often cuts it short to come back to our classroom, tidy up, and help me put together our battle plan for the next day. Every teacher needs a Robin. I appreciate her help and support so much.

Happy Birthday to My Twins

Twins are special in any case. But my twins are even more so. I gave birth to them eight months after the wedding and people referred to them as the "Cape Cod Kids," (honeymoon). One of each. Six weeks premature and oh, so fragile. Tiny little things that were as big as a small whole chicken roaster. I consider their birth my greatest achievement ever. I could spend hours bragging about them but let's just say that I am crazy about them. AJ and Mia are as different as night and day. They each embody qualities from both their parents, and, as years go by, I can point them out more easily. I was so worried about them coming too soon, and Dr. Elizabeth Coultas told me amniotic fluid was leaking, but I've always had a problem lying down. I was sewing nursery curtains, and crib bumpers, and sheets, and canopies, and sanding down and painting the second crib our orthopedic surgeon friend, Phil Keats had given us. They soon found out they were pregnant again and took back the crib (can you believe it?) but I got it ready for The Birth. And so they came. I thought everything was alright, when it was determined that AJ was very sick, with what they called at the time, Hyaline Membrane Disease, now referred to as Respiratory Distress Syndrome. The slimy substance that coats the lungs and fills the holes, allowing processing of oxygen, was missing due to his prematurity. A special baby ambulance with a neonatology resident came from St. Joseph's Hospital in Patterson, NJ, to get him, and they brought him to me to say goodbye. At that time Morristown Memorial could not intubate a baby. The expansive new neonatal unit was a year or so away. It was touch and go for three days, when he rallied and could come back to the local hospital. They didn't have the methods of saving babies the way they do now, so AJ had to make it on his own. Both twins would turn out to be strong and healthy. They've always been the center of my universe, and still are. The night following their birth, the US Olympic Hockey Team beat the Russians. The Miracle on Ice. I was lying in my hospital bed, so sad that they had taken my baby boy away, and praying for a miracle of my own, alone in that room. I couldn't understand why nobody was coming to see me, and then I found out they had put a note on my door to leave me alone, the worst thing they could have done. Maybe that's why I was able to watch that game uninterrupted from start to finish, when I might otherwise be chatting away with company. It looms so large in my collective memory. The euphoria of achieving the impossible against enormous odds. And here we are thirty years later, with AJ and Mia doing BIG THINGS with their lives. I'm so blessed.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Finally Home Friday

Stayed late at work to do special ed. paperwork. It's that time of year when IEP's (Individual Educational Plans) have to be updated. Much thought and creativity has to go into them, and it can't be done when the kids are there. NY State is very different than NJ, where they have consultants testing students and writing IEP's. All we did was help the kids in the classroom. It's been an adjustment. But it's a relief not to hear from my supervisor that I'm assigned to a college prep chemistry class and I have to help students with their chemistry! So glad it's Friday. Got home just as it was getting dark and the wind was really whipping up. First thing I did after taking doggies out was to bring Billy Goat a warm bottle up to the hay mow. Today is the first he's spent all day outside of the apartment. He yelled when he heard my voice, and more when I climbed back down the ladder. It was tough to leave him looking down at me, and not bring him back in the house, but he has to learn how to be a goat. I've been worried about him chewing on wires and plastics in the house. After chores and lentil soup I plan on spending the night with the Olympics. I'm excited about seeing Bode Miller ski again, and the half-pipe girls, and maybe seeing Evan L.'s routine. I sleep on the sofa to get the coverage, and only wake up to see sporadic portions. Not a good night's sleep, but I had to miss it all day long. I enjoy the interviews about what the athletes do in their private lives and the philanthropic work they do. Wouldn't it be nice if Lindsey wins another medal tomorrow, and Anja gets on the podium with her pretty Swedish colors. I like Julia's tiara and think she has a lot of spunk. I can only dream about the guts all those women have. I actually did some amateur ski racing many years ago (I know, I know, I used to be skinny and strong). Remember Nastar (not to be confused with NasCAR) racing? I wonder if they still do it. Anyway, the slopes of Vermont are often just like Vancouver, with hard nice underneath a whisper of snow. Your skis chatter and vibrate and without razor sharp edges to carve your turns you are dead. Yard sale. In those days the snowboarders could only ski on a small part of the slope because they scraped off what little snow we had. We would sneer and snicker and make faces at them from the chair lift. Look at them now! They own the slopes! I fell a lot and have a bum left knee for it, but it was so much fun. Have to find those pictures of me in my pinny. Maybe I can get Gretchen to scan it and post it for a laugh. Out to chores so I can get back in before the coverage starts.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

What a Night

I so enjoyed the Games last night. Who could not marvel at Lindsey Vonn's courage and talent, bombing down that icy slope on those giant man-skiis after so many crashed before her. Would love to have seen that sturdy little bundaflicka, Anna Paerson, on the podium but she yard-saled big time. Shaun White was amazing with his big smile and red Farrah Fawcett hair, and Shani double golding with speed skating spiking the medal count. Big night for the US of A. Let's see if the skating judges will give Evan L. a fair score tonight against the Russian. I don't trust their judgement. Seems to me that the time clock is the only judge you can trust. The clock still says five-something so I think I will sit a little longer with my cup of coffee. My coffee maker is dieing and doesn't wet all the grounds,making the coffee weak. Weak coffee is disgusting to me. If I can see daylight through it I don't want it. I remember my Swedish Opa making coffee for me. It was "cowboy coffee," with no percolator insert. He just let the grounds boil for a while, then settle, then poured. There would always be grounds at the bottom of the cup. Okay, now I'm missing him again. He just didn't live long enough. I can still see him staring out the window saying wistfully, "yah, yah, yah" in his thick accent. Thinking about his many adventures maybe. Enough clouds in my coffee, it's a work day, as in go-to-work. Hope the roads are better.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Oh, Billy!

That's it. Closing the bathroom door and shutting himself in is one thing...but now he's jumping on the sofa. I had Billy in the hay mow tonight while I was doing chores and eating dinner, but I don't think he's ready to spend the night there yet. It's coming soon. He's so adorable, and doesn't make a sound up there until he's hears my voice and then waaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!!! Those moms will knock him around, but Chris my llama won't let anything happen to him. I blocked off the hole to the lower level, but even if he fell down I don't think the sheep will hurt him. They are nicer than the goat mothers. I drove home from work on snowy, slippery roads. Even the F150 slid some, with the anti-lock brakes chattering. I popped a little chicken in the oven and turned it on before going out for chores. Two hours later the smell when I opened the apartment door was wonderful. Ate in front of the TV then went to get Billy out of the hay mow. Back in at 8 just in time for the Olympics. What a night - can't wait to see Lindsey Vonn ski. Still snowing, but not very cold. Bunny water not freezing. Fine with me.


Wishing I could stay home today. Okay, it's a short week. That helps somewhat. Oh, terrific. Chores took me half an hour going at lightning speed...and it's wash hair day! My trusy braid will have to do...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Bunny Day

I feel like I've been taking care of animals all day, but then I have been taking care of animals all day. If people only knew... It was time to get the angora off the bunnies, so I spent a couple of hours sitting on a cow water dish, still attached to the stanchion, clipping bunnies. There is a window of opportunity with angora rabbits, where the fiber is ready to come out. You had better get it out at that time or the fibers will mat together and all your hard work will be for naught. I clipped 6 or 7 rabbits and got a large grocery bag full, mashed down. Most of it went right in the dye pot. I need another color for the first big run I'll be sending to the mill soon. The angora is costly and labor intensive, but sets my roving apart from other artists, I think. I don't put a lot in a run, maybe 10 - 15%. Once or twice I blended alpaca with angora but the yarn from it was very dense and too warm. Wool is the best - so light and airy, yet warm and cozy. A little angora added makes it softer and warmer. It's hard work taking care of all the bunnies. They are watered twice a day and fed once, along with hay to munch on. Sheep, goats and chickens can be fed collectively, but bunnies are fed individually. Water bottles freeze and must be replaced with bowls in the winter. Angora rabbits don't require shots, but they do need a wormer to control the mites that love to live in the fiber. I've always had bunnies it seems. My first rabbits were New Zealand Reds and I raised them as a member of the Somerset Cottontails 4-H club in New Jersey. Years later I saw a woman spinning from a rabbit at the Jockey Hollow area of the Morristown National Historical Park I lived next to. I had to have one and started with English Angoras. One became two and three and four. The neighbors in my fancy development were not amused. One called the Board of Health and two official cars pulled up. Low and behold, there was an old zoning law still on the books that said a person could have X number of square feet of livestock cages on their property, and my nifty custom built cages fit that criteria. So I kept my bunnies. I've carried them to the several moves I've made before we all came to rest on this farm. May we never move.

The Air is Filled with Spices

Spent a lot of time in the barn with the sheep this morning. It feels so right to be with them, taking my time, not rushing off to a stressful job. The chickens must have been hungry when Matt was feeding them over the weekend, as they cleaned out their own nest boxes for me. I loaded them with new hay and gave the few eggs to the cats. I gave the hungry birds lots of egg layer mash and corn. They adore corn but for some reason it does not make them produce eggs the way the mash does. I found another clutch of beautiful eggs under a stanchion and saved them to put over the dog kibble. The lambs are fabulous, growing so well, big and beautiful. I have my favorites - Loki and Nicholas, the big, black Merino/BFL crosses, and Blue Boy, oversized son of the tiny black ewe, daughter of Myrna, one of my favorite old timers. The others will have to go in the freezer, something unthinkable for me in previous years, but the reality of the situation is very sobering. I refuse to take them to auction, which is terrifying and cruel for any animal, and will have Matt take them to our local abbatoir to be made into sausage - meat in disguise. Sure, it's wonderful to be a "No Kill" farm, but that's for rich people, or people who don't breed. The livestock world is the perfect place to exercise your gender bias. Boys are practically born to die, except for the select few who are saved for a few years to breed. Males can be castrated and saved for wool growers, but I have a few of those already. They can be pussycats, or big bullies who push the ewes away from the food. I don't know what to do with all the buck kids. I know my mother fed us lamb chops growing up, but I'm quite sure I have never eaten goat, and not sure I want to start. I know Matt would, as he lived in Texas for so many years, but I won't cook it for him, and he would never cook it himself. I put Billy Goat, who will never be eaten, in the hay mow and he's still there, four hours later. I'll go and get him now. I was hoping he would see the others eating hay and try some himself. He only cries when he hears my voice downstairs. It's not very cold today, around 30, and snowing steadily. I made a pot of lentil soup, with onions, celery, sweet sausage, and tomatoes. I have a big load of lovely spices from my shepherd friend who sells them at her booth for cooking with lamb. I used a bunch of them in generous portions in my lentil soup, like curry, herb seasoning, celery seed and whatever. Mia always brings me wine, which we never drink, and I use it in my soup - so delicious. Matt hates lentils so this will be a perfect thing for me to eat for a couple of days. The apartment smells divine.

One More Day...

One more day on the farm with the critters, Olympics, sewing, spinning, cooking, all the things I love to do to relax. I have so many ideas in my head sometimes it interferes with doing anything at all. I have to sit down and make myself focus. I stayed up as late as I could to watch the Games last night. Love the ice skating but have to confess I really enjoyed the snowboardcross, the snow boarders racing together. Very exciting. Lindsey Vonn will finally ski tomorrow and I'll be at work!! Not crazy about the ice hockey. I have a stack of bags that I cut out in a crazed hour or so, all the pieces in a pile. This is not the best way to do it. I usually cut out a bag and put all the pieces in a sack, to be sewn at another time. Now I have to sort all these pieces out and put them in order. I'm anxious to sew this bag as the fabric is terrific. It makes me happy to have a finished bag hanging from the ceiling (the only safe place in my apartment) ready to introduce to the world. Sometimes I get tired of a fabric, another reason to use high-end remnants. I can only make so many bags from a small piece. Sometimes I'm crazy about a fabric and wish I had more of it - like the wild horse tapestry that sold so well over the years. And so it goes. I'm making lentil soup today as Matt is away and he hates it. I'll live on it for a couple of days. Have to suit up and get out to do morning chores. I'm so pokey slow in the barn, as I like to spend time with my animals, but I'll feel better in the cold air. I've decided to make my hay mow a walking track. It's a gigantic space with good ventilation, protected from the weather. Don't know why I haven't thought of it before. The hay layer makes the ground feel like sand on a beach. I might push it back with a shovel to get to the wood floor. Billy Goat and I took a practice walk around last night, with all the other critters watching us with intense curiousity - what the heck are they doing? Gentle snow falling now, so good to be home.

Monday, February 15, 2010

New Crescent Moon

There's a lovely crescent moon just over the ridge opposite the valley my farm sits in. The round moon is silhouetted by the setting sun and is glowing softly from the dwindling light. The air is cold and fresh, with twinkling stars overhead. I may be crazy, but there's an ever so slight hint of spring in the air. I tossed Billy Goat up into the hay mow to play with the other kids while I did my chores, only to realize later I didn't have anyone here to hand him down to. I was reluctant to drop him so I held his sweater in my teeth while I climbed down the later. He didn't like dangling in the air and screamed his head off, but he was fine. One of these days I'll leave him up there for the day while I'm at work. I'm tired of the piddle patrol in the apartment and he's chewing on things that could be dangerous. Billy's favorite trick is to go in the bathroom and shut the door with his hooves, closing himself in. He hasn't figured out what to do then, and I'm not always there to hear his bleatings. We'll see how it goes. Sewing and Olympics on deck for tonight. I peaked and found out that Bode Miller won a bronze medal. Good for him - I like a comeback kid, chastened and matured through suffering. More figure skating tonight, a real treat. When Matt is gone I like to get chores done before pitch black dark, which happens around 6:30 now. I leave lights on in the barn, but most of them have been bashed with our heads and are broken. Wouldn't you know, both headlights are lost in the apartment. I called Matt in Long Island but he can't remember where they are. I would leave Thor loose to take care of things, but my neighbor, Sister Bernadette, is home from the convent for the holiday and doesn't like it when Thor patrols past her house. He thinks he's protecting her, but she doesn't appreciate his efforts. What's for dinner? Apples and peanut butter I think, with some mandarin oranges over light vanilla ice cream for dessert. Hmmmm, good.

Valentine Fur Ball

The Annual Valentine Fur Ball, for the benefit of the Chenango County Humane Society, just two miles from my school, took place on Saturday night, with the cream of the Norwich Glitterati in attendance. My lovely Holly came from the Humane Society after being rescued from a box on the side of the road. What a classy affair, with fabulous food and a terrific 80's band, the Splash. This was definitely a dance event, and the floor was never empty. Mia was really impressed with the music. We've picked out our outfits for next year, with Mia planning on wearing her old fire engine red prom gown. It was so much fun to eat and dance, then eat and dance some more. I saw one person from BOCES, the speech therapist, and a few people from Colorscape and the Hamilton Farmer's Market. A couple of people were looking at me, wondering where they know me from, and just decided to nod and smile instead of moving in to find out. Without my plaid shirt, braid, jeans and muck boots I was not easy to place. No matter, because the band was so loud talking was difficult anyway. Good reason to party-on.


After the excitement of the Fur Ball, Mia and I spent Sunday afternoon sewing her new living room curtains. They were started before Christmas, but, well, you know how that goes. The lovely fabric was picked out for us by Carol of Crayonbox Designs in Ithaca. She has a secret high-end fabric source and does some personal shopping for my Bundaflicka Bags. Mia likes to sew but has little time for it with working full time at Morristown Memorial Hospital and working on her MSN at NJ College of Medicine and Dentristy in Newark. I told her she will always have nice curtains, pillows and bed coverings as long as I have a machine to run.