Sunday, April 29, 2012

Maryland Musings

Sunny, blustery and cold today.  Love this weather.   20F this morning when I woke up.  Temps expected to get back up to seasonal levels by the end of the week.  I find this weather much more energizing, which is just what I need right now.    I'm getting seven hours but it doesn't seem to be enough these days.  Got my shaving mugs done yesterday, and put together many Mother Fiber Felting Packs.  It takes more time than you think to put colors together that a needle felter might need for a landscape picture, complete with curly locks for silly embellishments.  The apartment was/is a mess, with bags of wool, fabric, and soap making accoutrement everywhere.  I swear I need a trailer in the barn yard to live in, as my crafting activities take up this whole living space.  I bought a 20,000 square foot barn so I would have all the room I need but it doesn't work that way.  Walls, cabinets and closets are necessary for organization and storage.  A recurring theme I seem to voice.  One can only live and hope - I hope I live that long.  I made sure I got my hot soak this morning, and decided to pull little Sadie in the tub with me for her first bath.  I would have done Izzy, as I'm mad at him for running in the road, but Izzy got wise and darted away as I went for his collar.  Cute little Sadie didn't know what I was up to and just wagged her tail as I pulled her in the water with me.  She was good as gold, but with two feet on the rim of the tub, ready to bolt if I let go.  Now we are both scented with my recent soap batch, Garden Rose.  Very lovely and creamy I must say.   I just got back from my Sunday trip to New Berlin to pick up the NY Times.  I always call ahead to make sure they have one and ask them to hold it so as not to make the twenty mile round trip a waste.  On the way back I spied a great black bird on the side of the road, not looking so good.  I stopped to inspect it and found a lovely, heavy purebred hen, which must have been clipped by a car and left for dead.  I couldn't let her sit there and die in the wind and sun.  I have her in a pen in the barn, with water and feed, but she's in shock.  We'll see.  I put my patron saint Hildegarde Von Bingen's liturgical chanting on, the music I do chores by.  Maybe she'll perk up with the music and chickens all around her, even if they are strange chickens.  I'm clearing the decks to make my Shepherd's Friend Hand Creme.  Clearing the decks is a big deal around here, with nowhere to put the "stuff" besides boxes on the floor.  I had to clean off all six shelves of my sewing shelves for soap to cure.  Can't find a thing and it's driving me crazy.   Have to make the creme today, as I'm back to school tomorrow.  Matt is cleaning off tables for me today.  I used to obsess about my booth, but it's as good as most, and better looking than some.  The first year I did Maryland I was all wrapped around the axle about my booth, then the next door booth people came - The Fibre Company from Maine.  They came late and drove their Subaru right up to the booth.  Out came stacks of plastic crates filled with yarn.  They stacked the crates up and that was it.  No frills.  The lines for their booth were out the door.  I think people care more about product.  I still use the same red and white checkered tablecloths I did ten years ago and they do fine.  Very farmy and simple.  If I ever get all this soap wrapped it will be a miracle.  My roving is just exquisite this year - with lots of mohair blended with wool, my favorite.  So soft and "slippery" for easy spinning.  Only the Lipstick is all BFL wool with flecks of angora.  Trouble is the wool/mohair roving is so soft it will fall apart when people handle it.  Hopefully they will grab it and buy it.  I wouldn't blame them, it's great.  I had a note from a Rhinebeck customer asking for more messenger style totes in Maryland.  I'll try to get one made for her.  Most of the totes are the classic two-strap style as I had some fabulous goat horn toggle buttons to put on them.  Better get to work.  Coffee first as my head is nodding a bit.  I'm using my Susanne Farrington mugs, as I love things that are hand made by people I know and admire.  They inspire me to be creative myself. 

Saturday, April 28, 2012


This year's Lipstick roving is a very rich cherry red, with flecks of angora rabbit dyed bright pink.  Come to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival, at the Howard County Fairgrounds in West Friendship, Maryland, just one hour west of Baltimore, next weekend and you can claim your pound ball of Lipstick.  Orders are already coming in.

Too Much Too Doo

How wonderful that I'm getting calls and orders for the Lipstick roving I got back from the mill last week.  Gotta love that red.  I like it myself, even though it's a challenge to dye.  Red wool needs a lot of dye and extra citric acid to make it "stick."  Even then you lose a lot in the rinse water.  Bluefaced Leicester felts if you look at it, and it's tough to rinse all the fiber without getting some felting.  Every strand is precious with the Blues, who don't produce a very heavy fleece to begin with.  I'm thinking I won't be coming back from Maryland with any Lipstick roving left over.  On deck for to Hamilton to pick up Susanne Farrington's fabulous mugs for my shaving cups.  Luckily I have 15 brushes, which are prohibitively expensive to purchase but they are good brushes, waiting for mugs.  I don't sell a whole heck of a lot of shaving mugs, but the people who have purchased them before invariably come back for another one for a friend or for themselves.  I have another Bundaflicka tote on the machine, and a few that need bottom boards sewn in.  This is Shepherd's Friend Hand Creme weekend, which is always a big deal and requires much organization and a very "fresh" Maggie.  I stand on my feet for hours running the food processor and packing every little jar by hand.  It's a labor of love with lavender essential oil wafting all around me, contributing to my "zen-like state."  Tomorrow is Mother Fiber Needle Felting Fiber Pack day, which requires ferreting out all the odds and ends of roving and scattered locks for collating into a color pallet that a needle felter would enjoy.  I try to put everything into them that a landscape scene would require.  At $10 for a gallon freezer bag of several colors, the fiber packs are very popular.  I just sent out five to a spinner in New Hampshire who likes to spin multi-color yarn.  The sun is shining and everybody is waiting for me to go out and feed/water them.  The critters come first, then the fibery fun.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

True Colors Like A Rainbow

I know, I know....Cyndi Lauper sings that.  I adore her.  I also adore the big boxes that were waiting for me when I pulled in from school today.  All my hard work raising that wool and mohair has come back to me in lovely one pound balls of carded wool, mohair and angora.   I'm so thrilled with the way it came out.  The Bluefaced Leicester is oh, so soft.  The mohair blended with it adds such a silky softness and lovely slip for spinning.  Mohair wears like iron and makes sock yarn so strong that your heels won't wear out.  I just love the stuff.  John from Frankenmuth sent me a lovely celery-chartreuse run that I gave him last year and forgot about - manna from heaven!  I'm so excited about putting this gorgeous fiber out at Maryland Sheep and Wool, which is one short week from now.  Don't know how I'm going to pull this all together...but I say that every year, and somehow I do it.  Kimmie Cornerstone is coming from Kingston, Ontario to help me out.  She's a one-woman Army who will help me get all this soap wrapped and labelled, and put my booth together.   Maryland only comes once a year - the Holy Pilgrimage of the Wool People.  Yes, Wool is the Mother of All Fibers. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

More Rain Please

Two big batches of soap in the molds - my precious Lavender (I love it so much I won't blend it with anything else) and Fruity-Tooty.  I have some fragrance oils left in the fabulous stash I was given by my soap-buddy, Laticia Mullin.  I blended some Bramble Berry Coconut with various fruity oils and came up with this tropical scent.  I'm an essential oil snob, but those oils are light on the scent (which many people prefer) and heavy on the wonderful medicinal and insecticidal properties.  The fragrance oils have a stronger, longer-lasting scent.  They can knock you over.  I decided it might be good to have a fragrance scent for those customers who like their bathroom to smell good.  Took all afternoon but it's great to be well-stocked with soap.  The Hamilton Farmer's Market begins for me the weekend after Maryland.  I'll have a good presentation that should last all summer.  Still have a few batches to make - old favorites that I know folks will look for.  Hand creme will start next weekend after I've received my unrefined shea butter from Ghana via Ohio.  I'm always nervous about having enough product, but I try to turn the anxiety into energy to get things done.  I cut up a lot of fabric for soap wrapping last night.  I used to quilt, in the old days when I didn't farm, and love to play with the cotton prints.  I'll try to get a tote finished this morning before I meet the Central New York Fiber Producers at the Bouckville festival site. We're walking the grounds then having lunch at the Quack Diner on route 20.  That show takes place a month after Maryland and promises to be great fun.  Hoping for more rain tomorrow.  Yesterday's wetness was not the deluge we hoped for.  It's very simple - no rain - no hay - no sheep next winter.  It's ridiculously hard to keep critters fed with the price of gasoline as it is.  Drought compounds the problem exponentially.  Let it rain...

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Looking for Grass

Oh, the joy of it.  Home on the farm all day with my critters and my crafts.  I've often wondered if I would appreciate it so much if I did not have to leave it every day.  Yes, I would appreciate it.  On deck for today - make more soap.  I scored some lye at Lowe's yesterday.  Can't always find it and I have to order online.  I'm pushing hard to have enough soap ready for Maryland Sheep and Wool in two weeks.  A little misery and anxiety is necessary to keep one firmly planted on this earth and keep everything in perspective.  On deck for this morning....barn chores, get a couple of orders together for mailing this morning, pick up hay in Brookfield, get chicken feed from the Louis Gale Feed Mill,  make soap, sew totes,  put together Mother Fiber Needle Felting Kits, pick out pictures to send to web guy for a long overdue site overhaul.  We are looking at three days of rain, thank you Lord.  We should have snow melt water gushing up from the underground springs now and there is nothing.  My tadpole pond next to the apple orchard and under the ridge is a big mud slick.  It should be six inches deep and teeming with fishy-frog like creatures.  Drought is a scary thing and it is looming large over us.  The winter was gloriously free from travel anxiety, but we need that snow to keep the fields green and grow that hay. 

Monday, April 16, 2012

Fun's Over or Back to the Front

I haven't left the farm yet but can't wait to get home.  Back to work after a week on the farm.  Too bad I was sick but at least I was here and not there.  Mia's visit was definitely the high point of my vacation.  I hate to leave all my babies.  They are going to wonder where I am all day.  Wish I could tell them I'm doing this for them, to keep their bellies full and this nice big roof over their heads.  They wouldn't understand, but maybe I'll try telling them anyway. 

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Now You See Her, Now You Don't

She can't come very often due to her career obligations, but when she comes she makes such an impact on our lives that leaves me wondering if I was dreaming.  Sure, it stinks to get sick on my vacation but with Mia here to take care of us all it's not as bad as it might be.  She's just so much fun and I love to hear all the news from New Jersey and the hospital scene, with all her nurse girlfriends and their colorful lives.  Mia left last night and is back at work on the ward today, leaving happiness in her wake.  On deck for me today...Vanilla soap making and playing with mohair.  I've shipped 200 pounds of beautiful dyed wool to the mill, to be returned in time to haul it to Maryland Sheep and Wool.  I have a lot of black/gray mohair, which dyes beautifully, taking on many different hues.  I might not have time for shipping to the mill and back, but I can take it to Md. to give it to someone there.  I had some yarn mill spun a while back, but it costs a fortune and just doesn't give me the same thrill as Kimmie Cornerstone's hand spun.  That girl is a spinning demon when it comes to producing gorgeous, artsy, sturdy hand spun yarn that makes mill spun looking boring with no character.  I have a wash tub full of luscious black mohair right now, that I picked last night after Mia left.  When I miss my kids I turn to my animals and my crafts to fill the void.  There's a price to pay for living up here in the hills of northern Appalachia and one must deal with it the best way she can.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Breakfast with Mia

Mia ran down to the Brookfield General Store for cat food and juice this morning while I made us a spinach/egg/cheddar frittatta for breakfast.  What a treat.  Mia got me hooked on a medical ethics book called "Better," written by a surgeon.  It's a book any lay person can enjoy.  I hope she leaves it with me when she leaves today.  We're working on soap today and hoping to catch a bushy goat to clip.  Mia will be driving back to New Jersey tonight.  She's on duty at the hospital this weekend.   I'm so glad we had some time together.   Prior to this visit she had not made it to the farm since Christmas. 

Bundaflicka Junior

Mia loves the sheep and was happy to give little Valentine his bottle for me.  V. is finished with milk replacer, but, with Vicky's udder completely gone dry, I'm giving him a little molasses water for hydration and vitamins.  He's so cute it's hard to resist his cries for a bottle.  I figure I'll wait until the flock is on green grass full time to stop it.  The sheep get a lot of water from the grass, and springs coming up out of the ground along with the pond.  I love to watch my junior Bundaflicka enjoying the farm so much.

A Little Sunshine

Mia came to visit me for a couple of days and truly made my "vacation."  We drove to Hamilton yesterday to hand in my farmer's market registration, due by 4 PM.  Mia treated us to a delicious and nutritious lunch at Hamilton Whole Foods.  Yes, Mia keeps me on the straight and narrow path to health and success.  She is my biggest fan and supporter.  With this flu-like syndrome I've been plagued with all week, my plans to get all kinds of things done has not exactly panned out.  With Mia here, the week is saved.  She helped me get the Rosemary soap cut up and out to cure, and runs the doggies up the big hill every few hours just for the fun of it.  Mia loves the farm.  I mean, she really LOVES the farm.   Mia is starting her new job with the surgical group on the 30th.  For the first time in many years she will have weekends and holidays off.  What joy!  We're catching up on all kinds of news about girlfriends and hospital stuff.  We pushed the sofas together so we could watch Dragon Tattoo movies in Swedish with English subtitles late into the night.  Today we're working on soap, doing barn chores, and setting out more wool to dry outside.  Yes, it's a beautiful day and I'm trying to ignore the fact that a serious drought situation is happening here.  I'm not going to worry about that now because my darling daughter is here to keep me company for a few more hours.  Life is good.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Snug and Cozy

Mama Hen and her chicks are doing nicely in the rabbit cage, high off the barn floor, with plenty of hay, foot and water and protected from the Kitty Cadre.  When I put the little ramekin of water in the cage, they all drank and drank until it was dry.  Who knows how many weeks Mom had gone without water while waiting for those eggs to hatch.  The weather is gray and windy, threatening rain but not really coming through with it.  Too bad, as the ground is parched and a drought looms large.  With very little snow last winter we are in bad shape for water.  My underground springs are still bubbling up through the ground, but I don't think that will last for long.  The winter before we had 12 feet.  Don't know if we even had a foot.  Not good for the hay growing season ahead.  We are so spoiled with water in upstate New York.  When the rest of the country is dry we are usually swimming in ponds and basking in waterfalls.  Might not be that way this summer.

Heart Buttons

I had drifted away from the heart buttons I adore when a few customers asked me to cut them off a Bundaflicka tote they wanted to buy and replace it with something else.  Hearts are so Swedish and countryish and they always appealed to me.  Now I make some heart buttons to offer in a box of Bundaflicka Buttons.  I do sell some occasionally.  Now I'll have some horn toggles on some of my totes, from my own goats who die of natural causes.  Kimmie Cornerstone started with the horn buttons and they were so popular I thought I would make some.  The horns don't do anybody any good on the dead pile.  I went up there on the ridge to check around for any horns but the skulls must have been dragged away by coyotes and other hungry varmints.  Live and learn.

Monday, April 09, 2012


Dye pots simmering in the milk room, soap pot in the sink after pouring a big batch of luscious Rosemary Goat Milk Soap into the molds.  It's a good day to stay in and do stuff as it's cold, windy and gray out there.  Sadie wants to go out and play all the time, but she's not allowed outside by herself and I would have to suit up in coat, hat, mitts and boots.  I've started taking her out in the barn with me, with the outside doors closed.  Sadie thinks the barn is a Disneyland of fun, with chickens and cats to chase and all the sheep poop a puppy could eat.  She's learned not to go too close to ole Thor, who has no patience for a happy puppy and gives her a warning growl to stay away.  After all that fun, Sadie likes to get on the sofa and take a nap.


Not a pretty day out there.  Cold with quite the blustery wind going.  Glad I got my red wool in last night.  Also glad this hen who decided to hatch her chicks in a box of wool that I put out for the kitties to keep warm is safely enclosed in a rabbit cage.  The kitties who the warm box was intended for would love to make a snack out of these tasty morsels.  The chicks are just so tiny and so fragile, and chill so easily.  Every once in a while a hen finds a place to go broody and hatch some babies.  I don't encourage this as some of them will be roosters, and the hens grow up to be more free rangers who hide their eggs, etc.  Every night I walk around the barn, and it is a big barn at 240 feet long and 40 feet wide, checking certain spots where I might find eggs.  I use them for cat and dog food.  Occasionally I find a mother load of eggs, like I did last night, in the upper mow, in an old kitty litter box.  The kitties had a good meal, and the chickens feasted on the egg shells. The ducks are loose in the barn now.  I felt bad about keeping them in the pen,with all the earth worms wiggling around out on the hill.  Apparently the ducks are not that eager to leave the safety and smorgasbord that is the barn.  I thought I would look out the window to see them marching up the hill in single file, but not yet.  They even came back into their pen to give me some of their fabulous duck eggs.  I am still throwing out corn for them, when the sheep leave the barn.   We opened up the kindergarten pen and let Vicky/Valentine and TJ/Robin out to roam.  It's quite the tender scene to see a little lamb, afraid of the outside world and sticking close to his mother.  Soon he'll be a big bully who pushed her away from the grain.  That's what happens when little ram lambs grow up.  For now I'm enjoying my last lamb of the year and his cute little baby baaas.  I'll continue his bottle with water and some molasses, since mom has no milk, until I'm sure he is drinking from the water bins.  Haven't seen that yet.  Easter Sunday was another day on the farm, with chores and keeping busy.   I got a batch of Spruce Cedarleaf soap done which left the house smelling like a forest.  The cold I'd been fighting has taken hold with fever and chills.  Ibuprofen, Sudafed, herb tea with raw honey keeps me going.  Farmers are not allowed to be sick.  I had a nice chat with Mia yesterday as she came on duty at the hospital.  She had nine very sick patients to care for.  Not an easy Easter holiday for her.  Father Aaron called after his services.  He was out with another priest taking it easy after the rigors of Holy Week.  AJ is really liking the Army these days, and is hoping to be deployed again.  He wants his Combat Infantry badge that says he serviced in a combat area.   A year at Gitmo was not considered a combat deployment.  It would suit me just fine if he stayed in the states.  On deck for me today, more soaping.  I have to figure out where to put all this soap to cure.  My big rack is filled with fabric and sewing "stuff."   The soap needs to cure in a temperature controlled area, free from dampness and critters.  I have two more runs of wool to get out to the carding mill.  Won't it be a treat to see how it turns out. 

Sunday, April 08, 2012

"Woman, Why are You Weeping?"

"Woman, why are you weeping?  Whom are you seeking?"  These lines from the Book of John are especially poignant and meaningful to me.  We are all seeking something.  Some have found it.  I'm still looking.  The farm feeds my soul in a way nothing else does.  The beautiful land, big sky and wide open spaces are sustenance to my spirit.  I believe God is an unseen Force that moves among us in mysterious ways.  We are all on a journey.  I pray that Force guides us and protects us on that journey until we meet the end that is not ours to know.  On this Easter morning I wish blessings on all who take the time to stop and share a little bit of my life here on Maggie's Farm.

Saturday, April 07, 2012

Sofa Duty

Sadie is going to be a little girl I think.  She's four months old and the size of a beagle.  Fine with me.  Sadie is such a sweetie and so much fun.  I love her furrowed brow and jowls that hang down on either side of her snout like her mother Reba.  I am taking Sadie outside without a leash but with Reba secured with one.  Sadie dances all around us, chasing chickens and cats, and always with her nose to the ground in true hound dog fashion.  She hates to come back inside, but once in, she likes to hold down the sofa, no matter who got on it first.   I love this little brown dog. 

Quick Dry

The very windy, blustery, sunny weather continues - perfect for drying wool if you can keep it from flying away.  The welded wire length of fence seems to be working okay, but there are little tuffs of red all over the barnyard - mostly second cuts (ouch!) and short pieces.  It was so windy while putting out the fiber that I had to hold the bin up against me and stuff the wool under the wire or it would blow right out of my hand.  The wind buffeted the wool very nicely and it dried in a couple of hours.  This is the Lipstick run that was so popular a couple of years ago.  I tried to reproduce it but mistakenly put some royal blue in it and the customers didn't like it so much.  This time I'll leave it pink and red.  I have two giant pots of Kim's lovely French angora dyed Bright Fushia to blend with the Fire Red.  That should make for a luscious Lipstick yarn.  The mill wants to fiber by April 16 to be ready for Maryland.  That means I have to ship it on the 13th.  Good thing I have this windy weather to get it dry.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012


I took a chance on Fire Red by Jacquard and like it very much.  There are several different reds that go into the roving run I call Lipstick, but I wanted one main red that really jumped out and looked luscious - just like juicy red lips you want to kiss.  I think Fire Red is it.  It also cost less than the Primary Red that was on the Dharma list.  I got a fleece dyed last night, then turned the pot off to cool down overnight.  I tipped the giant pot into the washer this morning and got it rinsed and out on the rack before leaving for work.  I stayed late at school to work on grades and progress reports, then journeyed home while a storm and wind started whooping up.  Wouldn't you know my lovely Fire Red Bluefaced Leicester wool was mostly blown off the drying rack, even with a 4 x 4 welded wire fence over it to prevent it from flying away.  I was able to pick most of it up but I'll have to pick out the nasty bits again.  Let's hope the weather is better for drying wool outside tomorrow.  One more day and I'll have a week to work on product and do some things around the farm.  It's late now and I should go outside and close the fence.  I bet the sheep are still out grazing in the moonlight.  The planets are very vivid tonight, we Venus shining so brilliantly and the little orange planets so vivid.  I love these cool early spring days and nights.  We have so much more light in the evening, but still have the comfort of cool temps at night.  Yes, the sheep were out grazing.  They would love to bed down on the hill under the stars, and that would be okay, as the guard dogs are out there with them, but I have to go to work in the morning and need them secure in the barn yard.  It's very cool to see the eyes glowing in my head light, and then they jump up and scatter for a moment before running down the hill through the Poor White Gate.  Everybody's in, fire is stoked, cinnamon herb tea and honey consumed.  I'm taking my doggies to bed.

Some Good News

The day didn't start out so great when I put my foot, with my fabulous hand spun, hand knitted wool liner (thank you Kimmie Cornerstone) into my barn boot and suddenly my sock was instantly soaked with ice cold dog pee.  It must have been Izzy who peed down my boot as he knew he was the only dog in this house who could get away with it.  The day got progressively worse as school was so bizarre as to defy any description within my literary capacity.  I made my way home in a fog of "how did my life come to this?" when I found some good news waiting for me.  I was accepted to the very competitive Colorscape Chenango Arts Festival for another year.  One cannot be too complacent when participating in a show like this as they require a new application with photos every year.  Thank you, Peggy Finnegan and Committee for your continued support and encouragement.  I will do the best I can to justify your faith in me. 

Monday, April 02, 2012

Four More Days or Gotta Deal

I have a giant box, must be 50 pounds in there, of fiber to get into the little Saturn to take to Hayes in Norwich, the closest UPS store.  I also have a giant bag full but need to hunt up some boxes at work today.  Matt is home but has been sick to die for two days. with some kind of cold/flu.  Pray I don't get it.   He can't get off the sofa for anything but the absolute basics.  The hot water seems to be working today - thank you, Lord - so I need to get out there and get chores done so I can wash the fleas out of my hair before going to work.  I finally got some soap made last night - Cinnamon Clove - and have broken the wall that was up between me and the sudsy stuff.  I was kind of worried...I think that not having an inch of space to set out soap to cure has something to do with it.  Every inch of my curing rack is covered with sewing stuff.   I need a separate residence so this space could be entirely devoted to a studio.  As the saying goes, it ain't happening any time soon.  This is a four day week, then a week off to "make stuff" for Maryland Sheep and Wool in May.  This is a one woman band here.  The week after Maryland the Hamilton Market starts on Saturdays.  Won't Sundays be the most glorious day of the week then?

Sunday, April 01, 2012


Sleety rain outside.  Orange coals glowing in the wood stove.  I'm getting set up to make soap.  I got another 50 pounds or so of dyed fiber ready to ship out to the mill tomorrow, and cut out another two Bundaflicka totes.  It's time to get the soap train going again.  I wish, oh, how I wish I had a dedicated soap making studio, but, for now, my little kitchen will have to do.  If only I didn't cook so much.  All these dishes, pots and pans definitely get in the way of my soap making.  It does force me to clean up the kitchen before I can get out the scales, pots, vegetable shortening, olive oil, spoons, thermometers, essential oils, shea butter, goat milk, lye, etc.  It's a tricky process no matter how long you've been making soap.  For me, it's been more than 15 years since I received a soap-making kit for Christmas from a friend.  The rest is history.  One of these days I'll stop, but, for now, I'll continue to wash away the woes of the world, or attempt to, with my soap.  Wool to keep the world warm, totes to carry the load, and soap to wash away the worries.  Sounds good to me.

Fooling Around

Time to get going after sleeping a deliciously late morning - 8 am!   Grey, cool and cloudy.  The sheep are soooo beautiful grazing on the hill.  Thank you Lord on this Palm Sunday for some early green grass.  I have Valentine, Vicky, Robin and TJ in the kindergarten pen.  Everyone else is out to graze.  I'm thinking about letting them go, too, but am a little concerned about Robin not thriving like the others.  When she's in the pen I can give her some 18% protein grain.  Valentine needs it too as I am weaning him from the bottle.  I have a mountain of fleeces to play with today but I vowed to make soap instead.  I get in a "groove" where I focus on one thing and neglect others.  Not good a month before show time.  I have some Bundaflicka totes hanging but several are cut out waiting to be sewn.  Once I get my Teal wool run out to the mill I should be able to devote more time to soap.  You can't rush soap as it has to "cure" before wrapping.  Hand creme can wait until closer to the show date.  Matt is sick as can be, laying flat on his back since he had to leave the shearing party yesterday.  Interesting - he and another energy geek got sick at the Hilton.  They unscrewed the plate over the air conditioner and found a filthy filter.  Matt's friend filed a complaint with the management.  Can you imagine - a week's stay at the Hilton courtesy of the federal government and you come home sick?  I just gave him breakfast but he's choking and gurgling.  Time to get busy.


I have a lovely stash of fleeces and it's up to me to put them to good use.  The animals have done their part now I have to do mine.  They won't do anyone any good lying around.  I take a lot of pride in knowing that my wool comes from animals who are fat and happy.


My Myrna is a bit stiff.  She is one of my older ewes and has been with me forever.  She is one of the few remaining animals alive that a depicted on my lovely hand painted Bundaflicka booth sign, done for me by Terry Palmer in Bangor, Pa.  I have to find Myrna some kind of aged ewe elixir to ease the aches and pains of old lady hood, and maybe find some for myself.

Wooly Day

I think it was a perfect day for shearing - cool enough so nobody sweats and warm enough so the sheep can go outside and graze after having their coats lifted.  Darryl and Kim made the pilgrimage to the farm from Kingston, Ontario, to help out.  Loren Wildenstein, former student, was also on board.  Matt was newly returned from his week at the energy conference at the Hilton in Baltimore.  He fought the good fight for most of the day but had to retreat to his bed due to illness of some sort and did not come out until late at night. Big Jim Baldwin sheared 18 sheep and 16 goats.  Matt and Loren caught the animals, Darryl was the gate keeper, Jim sheared them and passed them off to Loren who held them while Maggie did hooves, shots and worming.  Kim was platform sweeper and fleece skirter.  You can't have too many hands at shearing time.  I was thrilled to get so much mohair and lovely Bluefaced Leicester and Bluefaced Leicester/Merino wool to play with, along with some very fine mohair.  All the goats got the new copper bolus pills given to me by Libby Llop.  Goats need copper but sheep do not, which presents some problems when feeding both species together.   My mohair should be greatly improved with the copper in their diet.  Jim turned on his shears at 9:30 and we worked until 3.  I confess that hanging upside down for several hours clipping hooves is a bit tough on the back, but I held up better than anticipated.  We had a short visit from my sheep friend, Mother Katharine, from the Holy Myrhhbearers Monastery in Otego.  She was in the neighborhood visiting Mindy Laymon's farm just over the hill.  I was happy to show her my farm and have her meet the flock.  She was especially interested in my Swedish Blue ducks.  She told me that her LGD, livestock guardian dog, is from the same place that my  Thor, Finn and Knut come from - Joseph Schmucker in Clyde, New York.  Good dogs!