Thursday, April 29, 2010

On the Road Again - or Farm Aid

Maggie's Farm is off and running, heading south down the highway to the premier fiber event of the year, Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. At this moment sheep are in trailers, coming in from all over the country to be exhibited at the festival. Vendors who sell wool related craft items of every imaginable variety will be displayed. The trailer is packed, Kimmie Cornerstone, my right-hand woman is here helping me, and the weather is fantastic. This is the event where I bring all the Maggie's Farm products I've managed to make over the winter and sell them to recoup my farm expenses. It's very costly to keep all these critters and up to me to make it all work...a labor of love, but still hard work. Come and see us in Building 2, Booth 6, across from the enormous Susan's Fiber Shop from Wisconsin, and next to another bundaflicka potter from Minnesota, Jenny the Potter. Wild Fibers is also in my building. I'll see my idol, Linda Cortwright, founder and editor of Wild Fibers Magazine, the world traveller and fiber historian. Better get packing. I'm gone for the weekend.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Wrapping Soap

I used to farm it out but now I enjoy wrapping my soap. There's a certain zen to it - the aroma, the fabric, the cute sheepy labels designed for me by Carol Crayonbox. Mia and I wrapped this Patchouli soap during her visit this week. The Laurel Birch fabric is perfect. Very pricey, but the colors are fabulous and worthy of my favorite essential oil.

Chick Drama

I took six tiny newborn chicks away from their mother this morning. I left two with her so as not to distress her more than I had to. I figure she will have an easier time defending two babies from the cats than eight. The new babies were doing fine until I decided I better get in the bath tub and wash my hair. I've been going native on the farm this past week but duty calls and it's back to work tomorrow. As I was relaxing in my giant tub, contemplating the fate of the universey, Miss Holly accidentally knocked over the water container and all the chicks were drenched. The newborns were shaking and the bigger chicks were not happy either. Now they are dry and warm in their new, bigger, tub with the newborns in a box directly under the 100 watt light. None of them keeled over dead yet. My bathroom has a baseboard heater which enables me to make the room quite warm. Chicks have no mass to them and rely on their fluffy dry feathers to keep them warm. Holly says she's sorry. I taped the bottom of the water container to the pedestal which keeps dirt from getting in. I'm totally enthalled with the little songbirds - they are totally distracting from what I should be doing right now.

Where Are My Kids?

I often wonder what my kids are up to. We haven't lived together since they were 17 years old. Someone told me "the better you raise them the less they need you." Maybe that's true as mine never came home to live after they left. Either that or my cooking was really awful. They are pretty good about keeping in touch. Today I received a picture of Mia running a breast cancer fund raising marathon, and Eric flying in his plane in California. I'm fairly certain my Orthodox priest in training son, AJ, went to church this morning and is probably doing something scholarly or relaxing this afternoon. I'm keeping busy as usual, my coping mechanism for missing all of them. Grandkids 4,000 miles away. Good thing I have so many little friends here to keep me company.

Bundaflicka Bags

I've got three on the machine, two cut out and waiting to start. That's it for this bundaflicka ("country girl" in Swedish for those unitiated). My Swedish Opa would come out to the wilds of Somerset County, New Jersey, from Brooklyn (where he settled with my father and aunt) and call me Bundaflicka. It was prophetic. I was told later by Swedish people that I didn't spell it right, but that's how I heard it with Opa's thick Swedish accent. (His favorite news man was Yim Yensen). Makes it even more my word. Anyway, I will spend the last day of vacation sewing these bags and wrapping/cutting up soap. Thank the Force that people will still pay good money for a bar of handmade soap. I heard a rumour that Annie might come swooping down from the sky to help me in Maryland, but it looks like she's been seduced by the Kentucky Derby. The Canadian Mounties are sending their best woman and we'll be fine. Libby Llop is putting us up in her luxury horse trailer apartment. Anyway, I'll try to explain to my animals that Mommy has to leave them to go back to work tomorrow. I'll tell them that I'm working to keep their tummies filled and a roof over their heads. First day back is always rough. The kids are not acclimated to the classroom environment, neither are we, and supervisors have been there all week planning God-knows-what. Gotta deal!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Walking with Tiny Tina

Tiny Tina likes to walk up the hill with us. I pick her up to let her ride on my shoulder, but she gets tired of that and wants to get down and run with the doggies. She's a tiny little thing, like her name, but she's very brave and keeps up with us just fine.

Dust Bathing

My chickens found this soft spot under my show trailer to roll in the dust. The dirt helps prevent mites and cleans their feathers. Notice the rooster supervising the ladies as they bathe. This glorious weather is due to end by early tomorrow morning. It's been a stunningly beautiful week.


I found this hen in the ceiling, hiding her eggs. One fell on the hay, giving her secret nest away. I don't like hens to hatch eggs up high, as the baby chicks fall off the ledge with Mom up high, still sitting on the other eggs. Cats are always on the prowl and I can't be there to intervene when the unmentionable happens. I will have to get the ladder to bring her down and put her eggs in a nest box in the chicken room. She will be furious with me, but I don't know what else to do.

Blue Tag

Blue Tag is Lilly's mother and my oldest living sheep. She is around 13 or so, ancient in the sheep world. Blue Tag is one of my four founding ewes from Lisa Rodenfel's farm in Ohio, a Romney/Bluefaced Leicester cross. She has a real name, but her tag, long fallen off, was blue so she became Blue Tag along the way. When I talked to Matt about her I would say, you know, the one with the blue tag. That's how names start I guess. She had a bum leg for a while, which I treated with Bute several years ago and she's been sound ever since. I got this rare shot with three generations of sheep - Blue Tag, Lilly and Luna. Three VIS - Very Important Sheep. Blue Tag is withering away, like an old lady. Her ears don't stand up anymore. I hope to find her sleeping one day, rather than see her go down. She gave me some lovely lambs, including my gorgeous Lilly. Blue Tag will be sorely missed.

On Deck

Let's sort this out. On deck for today - or, fantasties are free!

Walk doggies across fields - done. Cut out two new bags - done. Eat rye crisp, drink two giant mugs of coffee - done. Water and feed new chicks in bathroom.
Sling bales, fill water tanks with hose, feed chickens and cats, water rabbits.
Carry water to the boys in back of the barn.
Clean out back seat in truck cab to put feed sacks - rain is coming and I don't know if I can get four 100 pound bags up the milk room steps.
Make myself presentable enough to go to the Louis Gale Feed Mill in Waterville, remembering to bring Teresa her Patchouli soap and creme.
Stop at PO first as it closes at 11, mail Mongold Spindle to Canada.
Bring Mary her 100 pound bag of egg layer, pick up eggs in return.
Come back, take doggies out, check on critters, drink more coffee.
Sew Celestial Moon bags cut out this morning, finish Circle Chenille bags from last night, cut wood inserts for several other bags remaining unfinished.
Let sheep out to graze, feed rabbits while sheep are out for safety sake.
Eat leftover chicken with spring greens for dinner, cut fresh pineapple for desert.
Feed and water goats and boys in back of barn.
Mix doggie kibble and feed the White Boys.
Sew, sew, sew.
Barn check. Sew some more. Maybe wrap soap.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Baby Chicks

Is there anything cuter? And look at those tiny little Rhode Island Red wings! There are 8 RRR's, 8 Comets and 8 Leghorns. Not exactly ornamental birds, but good hardy layers. Holly is totally enthralled, but the babies are terrified of her big, black nose. Little do they know that Holly will defend their tiny lives against all threats. I got them situated first after coming home from too many stops. Lowes for lye (yes, they sell 100% sodium hydroxide - a tip from my science teacher friend) where I also found some cute rectangular galvanized tubs to hold my big shaving soap blocks. Off to Wal-Mart to do some basic shopping for pet food and Maggie food. I treated myself royally tonight, with a roaster chicken and spring greens. I even bought a lovely fresh pineapple, from Costa Rica, for a whopping $2, and more Starbucks French Roast to get me through the weekend. Off to the Solstice Hippie Shoppe, where they did NOT have the grapefruit seed extract I need for my creme, but I did score some Organic Nighty-Night tea with chamomile, passion flower and catnip to put me to sleep (as if I need any help - I am exhausted but what else is new?) Off to Hayes Office Supply for my creme and soy wax candle labels then off to Country Max to pick up the chicks. Off to the vet for kitty eye goo medicine, where I overheard interesting conversations in the back like the cow she had to wade into a swamp to treat, etc. Love those country vets! I had the good sense to put the chicken in the oven when I got home, thinking I would smell it and the aroma would spur me on through chores and make me work faster. Kinda worked but I had to turn the oven off as it took me almost three hours to let sheep out, unload, set up the chicks, get the watering and feeding done, feed myself, get sheep back in, mix dog meals, yada, yada, yada. Ten PM now go to work on Maryland stuff. Nighty-Night can't come soon enough.

Designing Buttons

Beautiful bags deserve buttons worthy of them. I spent some time cutting out buttons this morning, after chores and pinning together bag parts for later sewing. Now I know why this Fimo clay was on sale. It's normally very expensive, but Michaels had it marked down. It had partially hardened on the shelf and took quite a bit of squeezing and mashing to make it workable. I love making buttons, and they are so well received by the bag people. Little do they know how easy it is to make these buttons with the lovely colors available. I'm off to Country Max in Norwich to pick up my chicks. I don't need to be worrying about raising baby chicks right now, but they were a gift from a co-worker who realized he would be in Florida when they came in. Hard to resist $50 worth of little hens who will someday pump out those fantastic eggs I can never get enough of. I found myself rolling down my sleeves and stealing eggs from under angry hens for my breakfast this morning. The cupboard is truly bare. I'll have to set up a brooder and keep them in the bathroom, the safest and warmest room in this old barn. Too much to do and Matt is not due home until next Wednesday. After his presentation on "Training Excellence" at the fancy energy conference in Austin tomorrow morning, he is going camping in west Texas somewhere. He wants to reconnect with nature and meditate. God Bless! I could really use a hand around here, but he's truly in his element in his new career in weatherization. It's hard to argue when his eyes well up with tears and he talks about little old ladies freezing in their trailers in upstate New York. I think (to myself) what about this little old lady and her farm????? I'll just have to make do and wear it out.


My incredibly capable and fabulous daughter Mia took time for her busy schedule to visit me. She brought her positive attitude and massive energy with her. We got one more 33 pound run of fiber shipped to the mill, had another sheep photo contest entry printed, took it to the framer for matting, wrapped soap, packed fiber samplers, did chores together and managed to get out to two lunches in 24 hours! Girls gotta do lunch! The doggies are very happy as Mia will drop everything and run them straight up the hill to the pond several times a day. She is training for a 6K run next month. Climbing ladders and slinging bales is about it for me. We made wedding plans and I got to see THE RING for the first time. Yes, flawless diamonds do have more brightness and clarity! Mia says she gets more compliments on her Red Dot Bundaflicka Bag but I don't believe it! The weather this week has been gorgeous. I've got so many things going I'm busier than a one-armed wall-paper hanger. Please tell me it will all come together because it is utter chaos right now.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Cock 'N Wool

This little rooster is the subject of a photograph I'm entering in the photo contest at Md. Sheep and Wool. I picked up the print from the post office today, along with three others. The "RIP Horatio" print is fantastically beautiful and I bet I get a ribbon in the sheep portrait category. Unfortunately, my llama pic is too grainy (taken with Chris silhoutted in the sunset) and Baby Thunder in the living room didn't come out so great either. Enlarging is tricky. The Cock 'N Wool pic is terrific. So I have two to enter. Now if I can just spin a skein to enter in the yarn my dreams!

View from My Window

This has been the prettiest two days this year I think. It's hard to get anything donw when I keep jumping up to peek out the window at the beautiful view. The sheep are enjoying the green grass. The pile of hay/manure is the site of my future garden, which I think I will plant in old rabbit cages for protection. I know, sounds weird but it will all be revealed in the future. I went to Hamilton to pick up cups from Suzanne Farrington for shaving mugs. She didn't like the roving I brought her, which was a lovely black with some colored streaks. She wants plain black or gray roving for her felting classes. Fine with me, as I have more black wool than I know what to do with. She sent me on my way with 24 lovely mugs that I will fill with soap. I stopped at Whole Foods to visit with Candace, who says she will be coming to Maryland with Lisa Merian. That was good news. She might be able to help at my booth. Libby will undoubtedley be tied up with sheep lectures so it will be just Kim and myself. We are staying on the grounds this year in Libby's horse trailer apartment and taking meals provided by the festival. It will be too much fun. In the meantime I have to get busy. It's too tempting to roam through the barn, playing with the critters, and sorting through endless bags of wool. I have yet another run of roving to get out to the mill. Haven't started sewing yet today and it's almost four. Time to let the sheep out to graze.

Caught Him!

Billy Goat is eating hay! I knew it! He didn't want me to see him do it, as I might not continue giving him a bottle. He's right! I'm cutting it down to one bottle a day instead of two. Tough love for the little Billy Goat.

Baby's Got Blue Eyes

I found this trio of kitties in the barn, and aren't they cute?? They were too scared to move, luckily, so I started playing with them every day. I'm surprised mom didn't move them to a more private place. They are right out in the open. The last time I moved kittens into a box I never saw them again, so I'm leaving this bunch right where they are. Impossible cuteness...

Monday, April 19, 2010

My Right Hand Man

I spent most of the day going back and forth from my crafts to my animals and back again. Gorgeous, perfect weather day, and lovely for me to stay home. I let the sheep out to graze late afternoon. They are staying close with enough green grass on the near hillside. So lovely to see them through the window as I putter around the house. Izzy helped me get them back in. He was shaking with excitement when I went out to get them. I picked up a stick in lieu of my staff and Izzy took off like a shot. His herding is a little rusty as he split the flock and sent them up the hill, not down to the barn. I called him back and he came right away, head down as if apologizing for being too anxious. The sheep knew it was time to come in and came running to avoid being collected by Izzy. I puttered around with feeding goats, chickens, kitties, lambs, pouring shaving soap while Luna had her corn snack, and preparing dog meals. Stars and planets came out one by one while the sunlight diminished in the west. Now it's in for the night with sewing and new episode of Nurse Jackie. Some of the soy wax candles I made today are burning now. Baked potatoe in the microwave and maybe some sherry later. Life is good.

Crumbling Walls

This old stone wall must have seperated the grazing field from the apple orchard, still standing and about to flower. Stone walls were built, by hand, one rock at a time, when the field was being plowed. Imagine the long, hard hours spent in the field toting rocks and placing them just so. A later owner disturbed it to put in a barbed wire fence on locust posts. Sister Bernadette told me about cutting down locust trees for fence posts when she was young. I have to wind up old rusty barbed wire lurking around my part of this once grand farm. Not good for sheep or humans wandering around in the dark. All this land was covered with trees, chopped down for firewood I think, then the stumps removed either by hand or with horses. Back breaking labor, but livestock need to graze and hay had to be put away for winter or no livestock alive in the spring. I'm busy today, with wool and other things. Up early to give an antiobiotic shot to a ewe who is breathing heavy and losing weight. Don't tell me I have a sheep with pneumonia. I talked Matt into helping me catch her before he left for his 10 day business trip. I have to get myself a leg crook. Libby Llop showed me how to use it and it seems easier than a neck crook. Once you get them hooked by the ankle you go hand over hand until you get to the sheep and wrassle them down. This is when I start thinking how nice it would be to raise little Shetland sheep...but I have the big, beautiful Bluefaced Leicesters who weigh as much as I do. What was I thinking?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Walking With Luna

I took the doggies up the hill for a walk on this sunny but cold and blustery spring afternoon. The sheep were grazing nicely on the green grass, but were spooked by Holly and Izzy and ran back in the barn...all but Luna, who decided to accompany us on our walk. We explored along the old, crumbling stone wall that was later corrupted by a barbed wire fence, no longer used and in a terrible state of disrepair. Luna kept close to make sure she was safe with her "flock" of a human and dog friends.

Mohair on the Hoof

Jim Baldwin is coming to shear my goats on May 15. I will have a LOT of mohair to play with. Long range plans include putting together my Glimakra floor loom to weave mohair rugs. My mohair is not soft enough for next to the skin wear, except for the kids, but it will make fantastic rugs. I've wanted to do some serious weaving for years, but moving around, teaching full time, animals fuller time, farm business, etc, have all conspired against it. I bought a fabulous Swedish loom a while back but it's in pieces in the tractor shed. In the meantime, Matt put up a fence inside the big barn doors so I can feed the goats over the rail, instead of running as fast as I can around the hay mow, dumping feed in pans from buckets. The goats would put their heads in the pan to get their space and I would either be pushed aside or have to dump the feed on their heads. Farming is all about management, did I say management? Good management is the difference between success and failure. I've had one foot over the failure fence but plan to get back on the other side on firm ground.

Finally - Green Grass

Baby Thunder, a stately old Coopworth at ten years, is enjoying the fresh, green grass on the hillside. It may be cold and wet out there, but the sheep don't mind. They keep checking back inside the barn for their apple and corn treats. Some don't realize the gate is open yet, or think it might be some kind of illusion and won't go through. Week by week there will be more grass and I will have to buy less hay, thank the weather gods. Time to dance around the Maypole!

Way Too Much Fun

I don't know what to do first...pick wool, wash wool, stir the dye pot, play with kitties, go out on the hill and watch the sheep enjoy the green grass, come back in, cook eggs right out of the nest box, wash dyed wool and spread it to dry. I tell you I'm all over the place. The rest of the afternoon will be spent on soap. I love being "diversified," as Beatrix Potter encouraged her tenant farmers to be, but sometimes I feel like butter spread a little thin over toast ala Bilbo Baggins. In any case, I am having so much fun I can hardly stand it. I dyed this wool with Rit orange, but even with lots of vinegar the color didn't "bite" the way I wanted it to. After the orange was taken up by the wool I added some Jacquard Fuschia, and a marvelous thing happened! Gorgeous orangey/pink color! I don't like lackluster color. If I'm going to dye I want it to pack a punch, and Jacquard certainly does it. I buy it by the pound from Dharma in California, and it's cheap, easy and goes a long way.

Billy Goat is Growing Up

I caught Billy Goat on the move yesterday. What a cutie, but difficult to photograph as he is always running around me, chortling and jumping on my legs, looking for his bottle. Yes, the bottle. I am trying to wean him off milk replacer. He is old enough, but very dependent on the warm, delicious drink that fills his belly and makes him happy with the world. I'm filling the bottle with mostly warm water. I don't want to buy another bag of the expensive powder, which is really dried whey, a by product of cheesemaking. Remember Miss Muffett, eating her curds and whey? They charge a ridiculous price for it. I'm putting a touch of goat milk in with Billy Goat's warm water bottle. When the goats go out on grass, he will be eating something better for him nutritionally anyway. Still cloudy and cold with a little frozen rain this morning. I get to stay home ALL day, what bliss! Two black chenille circle totes on the machine along with my very last jungle tote. I left NJ with a big bolt of it and now it's gone. Fabulous tapestry with a great animal print that goes with everything. Kim took the next to the last one for a baby gift. I'm tempted to keep this one but I will probably end up sharing it with the knitting universe. Mia's nurse friend found herself pregnant with boy twins (she and the surgical resident FOT are now happily married) and the Jungle Tote was a perfect gift for her. My hot bath waits, and so do some barn chores, then washing dyed wool and putting it out to dry, then washing more wool for yet another dye pot, then sewing, then cutting up LOTS of soap, then hike up the hill, then more soap, then more sewing, and so it goes.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Bag Factory

Awful weather, but I don't mind it. So much to do inside it's okay with me. Cold, drizzly sleet falling off and on all day. I missed my once weekly visit to the PO but continued on to the feed mill in Waterville and got my goat, chicken and sheep feed. I brought Mary her weekly sack of layer mash which I trade for her fabulous eggs. Just can't have enough eggs. I'll be getting some more chicks soon but they won't lay until late fall. We chatted for a while and admired the sheep now out on pasture. She let me taste the tender young arugula leaves coming up in her little greenhouse - so tasty!! Mary and I will attempt to get over to Hamilton for lunch at the Whole Foods Restaurant one day next week. Back home to find Matt had designed a way for me to feed the goats in the hay mow without being carried away by a stampede. Very much appreciated. I'm trying to improve my mohair with a feed called "fitting." Goats have different nutritional needs than sheep, including copper, which is deadly to sheep but essential to goats. My goats haven't had enough of it, which is one reason I seperated them. I would like to use more of my mohair, but it's rather coarse - even on the white goats. There are always challenges with multi-species feeding. Back to sewing, after morning errands and puttering around with critters and wool. The Bag Factory is fully operational. I'm pulling out fabrics and matching them with linings, striving to use only what I have in the barn, and it's quite a bit. I have another fleece in the washer, getting ready to go in the dye pot. I'm working on an orangey-reddish-yellow run, with wisps of blue. John from Frankenmuth promised to have my 100 pounds or so of wool to Maryland Sheep and Wool for me, carded into one pound balls, ready to put out for sale. He's a real blessing, taking my many colors and fibers, and collating them into something wonderful for me, in such short time.

Sew Nice

I have one full week to concentrate on my farm store. Many bags hanging, but most need bottom inserts or buttons. Several are cut out waiting for sewing. I'll be cutting out some smaller red dot snap frame bags, for small knitting projects or regular purse use. I still need snap frames, shaving brushes and photo card inserts. I hope my photo print order is waiting for me at the post office. Even with extra time, animals have to be taken care of regardless, and with Matt gone for a week to Texas, there will be a lot of toting bales, watering, etc. I plan on letting the flock out to graze a couple of hours a day before sunset, which will help get them fed, but there is not a whole lot of grass out there yet. Mia is hoping to come and help me wrap soap and do chores, but she might have to present a paper to a professor at UMDNJ in Newark on her day off instead. Fingers crossed. Dark, rainy and cold outside. I locked myself out of my minivan last night - darned electronic locks - with both sets of keys inside. AAA is going to send somebody, but who knows how long they will take to get way out here in Brookfield. PO closes at 11 and the feed mill at 12. I may be on vacation, but I'm never on vacation, and life is still complicated...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Little Angel

A blessing was bestowed on my friend Henya and her husband, Eli, today. Little Menucha Rochel came into this world, in Brooklyn, New York. Menucha is number 7 for Henya and Eli, who are Orthodox Jewish. They are commanded to "Be fruitful and multiply," and so far they have been successful! We were hoping to see Henya at Maryland Sheep and Wool, as she is a faithful patron. I can't think of a better reason to miss the festival this year. I'm sure Henya will continue to turn yarn into many lovely creations, which can be viewed on her journal at Stop by and wish her "mazel tov."

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Still Sewing

My students are coming up with some lovely totes in class. The three girls will have a small and large tote to remember us by, and some good sewing skills, too. Santana wanted inside tabs to hold the pockets closed. She did a terrific job on her bags.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Missing Old Friends

The pond is just not the same without Bodie. Holly will dive in and swim out for the ball but she doesn't understand "Ball Here." I can't throw it again if she doesn't bring it to me. We're working on it. Old Jack lasted much longer than we thought he would - a faithful friend who only wanted to be with us, his pack. I think I mourn as much for the era our dogs lived through as the dogs themselves - happy days gone by. Bodie and Jackie rest side by side with a view of the lovely hillside where they used to play. Missing them...

Monday, April 12, 2010

Home for the Night

Home is the only safe place. Four more days and I can hunker down here for a week while others head out for exciting places. It's cold and blustery outside. Too early for cotton as I found out today in school. I turned the heat on in my classroom for the first time all year I think. Back in early in the morning for meetings, but for now it's just me, my critters and my sewing machine. My propane tank is empty. They said they tried to call me, but what the hey? I work for a living! They won't bring gas unless I leave a check or am there to pay for it. Now they want an extra 80 bucks to fill the little tank, which costs $88 to fill. Thanks, gang. Fortunately I have electric heat, a wood stove (that smokes horribly) and a microwave. I could always cook in my dye stove oven, which I keep on for the kitties anyway, but I'm afraid of some kind of poison fumes in the food. I can cook baked potatoes in the micro so I'm not worried, and I love those taters. Back on the machine where I have several bags going. Oh, they are so pretty!! I have 20 bags hanging, two from last season, and my goal is 30 (down from 50!) I think I will make it, Lord willing and the creek don't rise!

Down a Hole

Tanner and Pip had a great time looking for groundhogs on the hill yesterday. Sad fact is that most of them have been routed out by the White Boys by now. Their elaborate underground condos remain, to peak the curiousity of Tanner, Pip and Izzy. The land mines make walking in the dark a little tricky.

Thistles and Branches

While out with the doggies enjoying the lovely spring weather, I looked for botanicals I can use in Mia's wedding. I want to use as many natural materials as I can. Mia and Andrew love the outdoors and I want their wedding to reflect that in some part. My farm has many patches of thistles, which I think will look great in arrangements with birch branches and long needle pine for reception tables. Have to find out what I can get from the florist in February to compliment them. Thistles have nice long stems for standing up in arrangements and would probably cost $5 each if I bought them from a florist! I don't think I will put them in her bouquet, though. Might scare Andrew a bit, coming at him down the aisle with prickly thistles!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Skills for a Lifetime

I'm sewing with my students. There is a Life Skills component to our GED curriculum that I'm supposed to address, and sewing is a valuable life skill. I figure if my girls know how to sew, and can put together a good hand bag, their babies will never go hungry. An aide upstairs sold me an old White machine that was sitting in her front hall for years and years. She even took $20 worth of Shepherd's Creme for payment. Robin negotiated the deal and we are in business. It's a heavy metal machine, not like the current plastic CRAP they are making sewing machines out of now, and will sew through many layers. Problem is, the bobbin casing does not fit in the hole securely and tends to pop out on the floor when we start sewing. Very frustrating. Someday I'll get it fixed. In the meantime, there are three new Bundaflicka Totes walking around the school. One will be a diaper bag for a baby expected May 30. The new mom made the pockets just deep enough for a baby bottle.

Blustery and Cold Sunday Morning Musings

I love this weather. No flies, no sweat, and I feel alright about staying inside and working. It's tough to make soap without a sink or stove, and my sewing machine has to stay put. Thought I would put some ideas down before I get totally involved with the day's plans. I'm going to get in the bath for a while and cover my face with a warm wash cloth. While climbing the ladder to the hay mow with kitty food, a scuffle of cats caused one to fall down the hole. The frightened kitty decided to hold on to my face. I think the bleeding has finally stopped. I've managed to get to work relatively unscathed the last four years of my farming adventure. I guess it's about time for a battle scar, but it has nothing to do with sheep. Two totes on the machine and another on the cutting table. I MUST STOP cutting out such BIG bags. I think it reflects my worries. When I'm anxious about things I want bags to put my worries in - button the clasp and they're secure. Trouble is, most women aren't big or tall or strong enough to carry big totes full of stuff. Once a year I make a real Mega-Tote, I mean giant size tote, and it always sells within the show season. If I have a fabric that I'm tired of, or have yards and yards of, and the kitchen table is cleaned off, I'll cut out a Mega Tote. The sewing goes on forever, with all those long seams. I use them to pack up all the smaller totes when closing down the booth. I don't have any giant totes for Maryland, but many of them are large. I got Patchouli cut out and on the rack yesterday, and a batch of Almond made and setting right now. On deck for today - Clove Bud and sewing, with wrapping in between. Two fleeces are in front of the washing machine to pick, wash, dye and rinse. I'm making an orangey-red batch called Jubilee, don't ask me why the name just came to me in a trance (which is my normal method of operating these days). There isn't a minute to waste, with 18 days to go. Matt got a new tire on my cargo trailer yesterday. I blew a tire on the way home from Fingerlakes last September, and foolishly dragged it to the rest area. All the gorry details are documented on a previous post somewhere, lost to follow-up. One reason why I have to go a day early is to deal with any emergencies on the road and get myself and my goods to Maryland. A friend in the opposite booth at Rhinebeck broke down coming from New Hampshire last year and had to transfer all her things to a rented UHaul on the high way. Triple A won't rescue cargo vehicles, another reason why a mini-van is a good idea, but it won't hold all my Maryland booth. I don't even want to think about it...better get busy. One good thing about getting so much product made is that I will have it for the Hamilton Farmer's Market which starts the week after Maryland. I'm looking forward to seeing my market friends, in good weather that is. A rainy market is miserable. On that damp note I'm saying Ciao for Now!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Cold Again

Took the doggies for a walk in the cold, cloudy morning air. Bits of snow here and there on the hillside. Very refreshing. By the time I got back I was wanting scrambled eggs and my hens cooperated. Very gratifying to take them still warm from under the hens (who are not so happy about being robbed). Only found three in the nest boxes but checked a feed pan I put on top of a rabbit cage and sure enough, found another three. Enough for a good size pan of eggs. I found three baby kittens in the hay mow last night, in the hay by the grain room door. Worried they would fall down the ladder hole, I made a nest of wool in a feed pan and put them in it. Climbed up this morning and they were gone. Either the mother was unhappy with the aromatic raw wool mattress, or the chickens ate them. Chickens will eat whatever juicy protein they can find. Baby snakes don't have a chance around here. Not that I need more cats but I wouldn't want them to suffer that fate. Have to get to Louis Gale feed mill this morning, then come back and get to work. I'll take the Lemongrass soap off the rack for wrapping and replace it with Patchouli. Won't I enjoy cutting that up - love that oil. On deck for this short weekend - make a batch of Almond and Clove soap, sew Bundaflicka bags, wrap Lemongrass. Too much fun.