Friday, August 31, 2012

Nighty- Night Boys

Rudolfo still gets a night-night bottle, although he hardly sucks on it.  He is almost as big as Marcello now and they are both coming along nicely.  Mama seems to have enough milk for both.  I'm keeping her well-nourished with grain and some lovely green second cut hay I found on the roadside in Mt. Upton.  I think it's time for the little family to go out to graze on the lush green grass out there.  I think Miss Mamie will take good care of them. I will probably have a hard time catching the boys for a hug, but pretty soon they will be as big as ponies and there won't be any picking them up.

Chartreuse Wool

I'm not happy unless I have some form of fiber processing going on.  I've been waiting for my order of dyes from Dharma Trading in California for a week or so.  Yesterday I happened to be down at the dumpster and saw the UPS truck flying by.  The driver saw me standing there and put on the brakes.  He had my package in the truck!  Would he have stopped if I wasn't there?  Doesn't look like it.  Anyway, I thanked him and promptly went to work sorting the Romney fleeces from Weymouth Walk in New Jersey I picked up in Maryland.  I didn't go looking for them, but they kind of found me.  Anyway, this beautiful wool may not be Bluefaced Leicester, but it still feels nice and dyes beautifully.  I washed and cooked two big pots last night, with lots of dye and lots of citric acid, the magic powder that enhances color and makes it stick.  This glorious sunshine won't be around long and I want to make the most of it.  I have two more pots on the stove now.  I'll blend it with sky blue and salmon, maybe a little purple.  You know how I am about purple.  Everything's got to have a little purple.  Something about The Color Purple.


What a blessing this little dog is.  Bertha is very sweet and loving, and fits right in on the farm.  She loves to follow me around the farm, keeping me company and playing with the chickens.  Last night Bertha followed me out into the dark barnyard, illuminated by the full moon.  She planted her feet firmly on the ground, looked up at the ridge and gave a few very brave WOOF-WOOFS.  At four months old she wants to be a guard dog already.  Bertha has recently been able to get up on the sofa.  Yes, we have dog friendly sofas here.  She's very bulky and heavy and had a hard time pulling herself up.  Cuddling with Bertha is like hugging a big sack of potatoes with a very soft fur coat.  Bertha and Sadie are best friends.  The other day I noticed Bertha carrying Tinkerbell around by the scruff of her neck, like a mother cat would.  Don't think Tinkerbell was crazy about that behavior...

Thursday, August 30, 2012

New Crop

I'm filling up the ceiling with a new crop of Bundaflicka Knitting Totes.  Once I cut them out and sew them together the only safe place for my bags is on the ceiling, safe from critters who would love to take a nap inside them.  I'm beginning to feel better about having enough bags to make a good showing at Colorscape - the upscale arts festival in nearby Norwich, where my school is located.  I like having a chance to show my co-workers what I do.  All many of them know is that I live in the remote hillbilly haven of Brookfield with a lot of sheep and goats.  The reality is that it's much more complicated than that.

Sheep in the Mist

It's a cool, misty morning on the farm.  I'm sewing in my favorite black watch plaid flannel granny gown with the white eyelet trim and matching navy blue crocs (for running out and checking on the critters).  The view out my window is the ultimate in bucolic setting - sheep gently grazing on the lush green hillside.  I hear myself going aaahhhhhh and I'm reminded why I'm working so hard.  The recent rains have turned my hillside into good grazing, unlike the hard, barren caked ground of a month ago.  Happy sheep - happy Maggie.  Notice the downhill slope of the land - although I have a lot of water on this land, I will never be flooded.  Hurricane Isaac is wreaking havoc on the gulf states, but not here, in the beautiful hills of upstate New York.  It was this time last year that Irene came this far north and we lost power for three days.  The steady rains caused the first leak in my barn that I've had in the five years I've been here.  I had pots in a line up and down the ridgepole, making music as the drops fell.  My freezer had a decent amount of pork products in it, but my generator was broken.  On the morning of day three I decided to haul all that meat into school to feed my students rather than have it go bad.  It took three trips from the parking lot to get it safely put away, and when I came home the power was back on.  That's okay - those kids loved the bacon and ribs.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Knitting on the Beach

I used to knit quite a bit - before I started raising my own yarn that is.  I took the opportunity to knit all day, between reading pages of the Sunday paper, on the sand at Spring Lake Beach.  The black adult mohair is difficult to see in normal lighting, but not in the glorious sunshine of the Jersey Shore.  Mia brought along a little light reading of her own, although she hardly sat down long enough to study, and I was always chewing her ear off.   I was so happy I didn't know what to do with myself.  This sock might have to wait until next summer to be finished.  That's okay - it's the quest, the journey, that counts, isn't it?

Little Friends

It was a bit of a shock coming back to the farm after my visit to Mia in upscale, classy Morristown, but here we are.  Many cliches apply - "it is what it is, gotta deal, get a grip," etc.   I'm taking it one day at a time.  My little friends always bring a smile to my face.  Sadie keeps me company while I sew, and the little Rambo lambs in the barn are always available for a hug.   I love to bury my nose into the warm lamb's wool and listen to their breath.  Mama wants to go out and graze, but I'm always worried about the babies getting trampled by the other big monster sheep.  Yes, it's happened.  Remember little Tank?   I'm always relieved when the lambs make it to adulthood.   The bucolic setting of the farm hides a dangerous world out there.

Back to the Farm

I traveled back from New Jersey, due north into the misty mountains, back to the farm.  I have a busy month ahead, with school starting next week and two shows this month.  I have to shear soon,  and get ready for winter.  Farm worries are always there - like a monkey on my back, scratching away, but I'll figure it all out.  If only I had found Julia Berger to bale hay for me a month earlier I would have a healthy second cut out there now.  As it is, I'll be lucky to get one this year.  The sun is waning and storms will be coming up the coast along with the rain and dampness.  I have three months of food in the barn, half of what I need.  I have plans to fence the flock in the back field so the second cut can grow but once school and shows start will I have the time to put in fence.  I'm working very hard on product and will have a healthy crop of new Bundaflicka totes to put out.  Quite a few are hanging from the rafters, but they need wood inserts, and I have to order snap frames. My signature woven labels are not here yet which means I have to sew them in by hand later - very time consuming.   I have to make a run today for dark brown thread for the four partially finished on the machine.  I won't diminish a lovely tote with off-color thread.  Everything is on sale now, but what teacher has any money after not working all summer?  I don't know very many who do.  I got one 26 pound Mother Fiber run out to the carding mill last week.  I still have some colorful runs to put out at Colorscape and the Fingerlakes Fiber Festival next month, but not enough for Rhinebeck.  I have to make creme and buy some more cups from Susann Farrington for my shaving mugs.  Then there is the firewood for winter issue to consider.  The list goes on and on.

Duty Calls

I loved watching Mia get ready for work at her new position as Nurse Practitioner with a surgical group.  She's worked SO hard for SO many years to achieve this goal.  I confess I was a little verklempt when I saw her put the lab coat on.  It was so hard to leave, but I'm so thankful we had a blissful two nights and one day together.  I hate being four hours away from her, but I'll be back to see her soon.  Mia will be moving into her cute little third floor walk-up (oy!) apartment in Madison in September.  I'm bringing her some antiques to furnish her new apartment in "shabby chic."

Time to Go

It was tough to leave the beach,  but reality bites.  Mia had to be up early to work the next day and I had to get back to the farm.  Matt was taking care of everybody, working on cars and whacking down thistles with the tractor.  We feared the Garden State Parkway would be murder, but we breezed back to Morristown with no problem.  We stopped at Kings, the upscale market I shopped at for years and years,and marveled at the $300 wheels of Jarlsberg and all the imported cheeses.  Mia bought me some British ginger/mango cheese along with a rotisserie chicken and spring greens.  We went back to Kim's apartment and ate dinner, happy to leave the salt water and a little sand on our skin until morning.

Water Baby

Mia loves swimming in the ocean.  She says I taught her how to dive under the breakers to avoid getting pummeled into the sand.  Mia is training for the Liberty State Park marathon in September and ran up and down the road in front of the beach, when she wasn't swimming.  Truth be told I was so content with my Sunday Times and the utterly wild and beautiful ocean setting I hardly wanted to move.   We slathered ourselves with sunscreen, as we are natural blondes, and let the vitamin D soak in.   It was such a perfect day I'm wondering if it really happened.  Driving back to the farm was so surreal.  I don't spend enough time at the beach.

Spring Lake Beach

I always took my kids to Seaside Heights, Island State Park, and later, when AJ and Mia were growing up, to Point Pleasant Beach on the Jersey Shore.  Point Pleasant Beach has a cute little train going up and down in the sand, henceforth it was called the Train Beach.  Mia took me to another beach that she frequents, Spring Lake Beach.  I loved it. There are no amusements,  only beautiful coast line dotted with rock jetties.  The weather was absolutely perfect - breezy and sunny, not very hot.  If I wrote a recipe for the day it could not have been nicer.  Mia insisted on taking me to a boutique and buying me a classy bathing suit.  We picked up the Sunday Times and headed for the perfect spot near the water. 

Mother Daughter Visit

On Saturday morning I dashed away to visit Mia in Morristown.   The weather was beautiful for driving.  When going through Mt. Upton I spied a hay wagon in front of a barn.  It had some very green second cut hay piled high with a sign that said For Sale.  Thinking I would bring home a tasty bale for Miss Mamie and the twins (always thinking about feeding sheep) I pulled over.  The farmer's wife came out and helped me squeeze two bales into the trunk of Matt's little Saturn.  I motored on and met Mia in a coffee shop on South Street.  Morristown is replete with little coffee and ice cream shops, with puffy sofas and chairs to linger and read, or do some people watching.  We moved to two or three of them while chatting about this and that and basically catching up.  We ate sushi at my favorite restaurant, Nagano, which is still in the same walk up space just off the town square.  Kim Leinker, Mia's ER nurse friend, graciously offered to put us up in her cozy apartment right in town.  Up early Sunday morning to hit the Garden State Parkway and head "down the shore."  I was so hoping to spend at least one day on the beach this summer, tough to do when one lives inland and is tied to the farm. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Oh, Dear

I wrote a long, newsy post and it failed to save or publish.  Very scary.  Are there sunspots afoot today, wreaking havoc in cyber space?    This diary, which recorded six years of my life, could be wiped out by one solar incident, or a drone hit on Google.  Have to get this baby printed one of these days...Mia says when I die, which could be sooner or later, there are ridiculously young deaths and incredibly long lives in my collective DNA, she is going to sell my blog to a publisher.  Good luck.  I wish I could write everything I would like to say, but my grandchildren can read now and I have to be careful.   OK, to recap....on deck for today.  Wash a mountain of dishes left to build up while I sewed the lovely Bundaflicka totes, all seven of them, that I sewed over the last three days.  It's been a marathon at the cutting table and the machine and it's been so much fun. Colorscape is looming large...I want to paint rolling hills dotted with sheep on my pop up tent.  Prizes are given out for artistically designed booths at Colorscape and I at least want to put in a good showing.  I don't know anything about painting and would love to learn.  When Luke, Hannah and I painted the Maggie's Farm sign last summer that was a big deal for me.  Lambs, Rudolpho and Marcello, are doing well.  R. doesn't want his bottle anymore.  Good news.  Will still watch him carefully.  I've had lambs from older moms drop dead on me before - heartbreaking.  I'm designing a stand-up knitting needle storage bag.  We'll see how that goes.  The flies are so bad I'm filling up sticky strips right and left.  Reba doesn't help any when she goes into an anxiety fit and pushes the screen out.  I went to the PO yesterday and forgot to shut the sliding window.  Got home and there she was, frantic in the driveway waiting for me.  Poor thing - she was dropped off next to a trailer in the neighbor's field and abandoned, pregnant and alone.  I keep telling her she has a home for life here, and talk to her, rubbing her ears, and stroking her, but she's still anxious.  If I didn't hate drugs so much I would ask the vet for some doggie happy pills for her. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


I had a whole day to sew, what heaven.  Of course, it rarely results in sewing all day, with taking care of animals, bottle feeding little Rodolpho, pulling weeds, doing laundry, etc.  I still managed to get two totes done with some others cut out for future sewing.  The weather is lovely today, with low humidity.  I got another pot of fiber out to dry.  I'll shortly have a run to get out to the carding mill.  Tomorrow is garbage day and I'm determined to have my dumpster full before they come.  I'm going through some stuff in the tractor shed that has to go.  The space is enormous and could be used for other things.  It pulls at my heartstrings to see the all the baby things I've pulled around all these years.  So much water under the bridge.  In the meantime, I've got these lovely totes to carry around all the baggage.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Back Yard

A view that I don't often show but where I spend a lot of time.  The cars are in various states of repair and disrepair and provide shelter for the cats and chickens from the rain.  The goats are eating the delicious weeds I pull on a daily basis which grew out of the chicken room manure spread last fall.  My wool drying rack is protected from the worst winds swooping through the valley.  The garbage can lid has water in it for the little chicks that used to drown in the cat and dog water.  I sometimes pause and stand on the little porch to gaze at the hills beyond.  In a little more than a month they will be ablaze with color and breathtaking beauty..  If it wasn't for Lisa and Marie Merian, my dearest sheep friends from Bainbridge,  I would never have known about this place.   I don't think I have ever thanked them enough or ever can.

On Deck...

So much to do before I can settle down to work, which is hardly work for me since I like it so much.  Have to run to the bank in New Berlin, and would like to go to Tractor Supply in Hamilton,  but both stops are forty miles apart.  Life in bucolic upstate New York.   Two bags on the machine - Standing Stones - which makes me happy to look at it.  Can't get any more of this fabric.  Found it on the red tag rack at Joann's a year ago.  So many of my totes are "limited editions" but that's okay.  Makes them even more special.  I have two big pots of dyed wool on the stove in the milk room that have to be washed and set out to dry.  I don't have a drop of soap left to wash with - except for my goat milk bars and they don't exactly do well in the washing machine, unless I melted them and that's a big deal.  Will have to go to the market.  Slim pickins this time of year.  I paid property taxes and extra land lease with my summer pay so it's living off the farmer's market.  That's why I smile so pretty at the customers.   It's off to the feed store to buy some sweet feed for Miss Mamie.  Rodolpho and Marcello are doing well.  I thought this morning that they are beginning to look like normal healthy newborn lambs.  Miss Mamie had no pre-lambing treatment and was not shorn this spring, therefore she was not wormed or vaccinated this year.  She grew these lambs on green grass only.  Rambouillets need grain and extra TLC when they are pregnant - not like Bluefaced Leicesters who pop ten pound lambs on grass only.  I'm amazed and grateful the boys are okay.  Mom's one teat seems to be holding them but I'm giving tiny little Rodolpho a bottle four times a day.  I found a nice sweet bale of second cut in the mow for Miss Mamie, who is perking up day by day.  She is as big as a pony and so gentle with her little ones.  Will need to shear her soon.  It takes a couple of years for Rambos and Merinos to grow a decent staple length of wool.  I have one other Rambo left, a wether, from the rescue I did several years back in a very impulsive gesture.  A teacher in the Fort Plain area sold her farm, bought a Winnebago and took off, leaving her sheep fostered locally.  I have no idea how old Miss Mamie is, but she's aged.   Sheep can give birth until they die, but they need lots of nurturing and extra TLC.  Miss Mamie is getting all that right now.  Off to buy her some delicious, molasses laden sweet feed.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

My Baby! My Baby!

I'm loving my little ram lambs, born days ago when Father Aaron was visiting.   Who knows how long it took for Miss Mamie to bring them down the big hill to the barn, tiptoeing along, coaxing them every step of the way.  What a wonderful devoted mother she is.  I know mama would love to be out of the barn, back up on the hill with her babies, but they are too tiny and fragile.  An eagle or hawk, or sneaky coyote could snatch them up so easily.  No, they are safe in the barn with Thor tied next to them.  Yes, coyotes have been known to go in the barn and steal animals.  Some farmers play the radio all the time to keep them out.  I'm bottle feeding the smaller twin as his brother tends to monopolize the one working teat.  The little guy stays close to mama but rushes to me when he sees me coming.  So cute!  I don't go far as mama gets very upset and only allows me the time it takes to down half a bottle before the yelling starts.

Surprise Package

I love presents.  Did I say I love presents?  Especially surprises that come in the mail when you least expect it, when you are feeling a little blue because your kids are together somewhere far away and you can't be there with them, or when the summer is almost over and it's back to work, and summer is over and winter is coming with all the worries and stress involved.  Yesterday I received an envelope containing the most beautiful pair of socks in the whole wide world.  They were sent to me by my dear friend Sock Lady Spins who lives alone in the wilderness of British Columbia, surrounded by grizzly bears and mountains.  Lynne Rettberg describes knitting her socks as a labor of love.  I can't imagine how she does it.  Lynne spins the wool then knits the intricate designs from her own imagination.  For those of us who have "second sock syndrome" getting the next sock done identical to the first is nothing short of a miracle.  All I need are a new pair of khaki pants, a brown top and my brown Danskos and I'm good to go!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Market Day

The market was much busier today despite the Bouckville Antique Show continuing a few miles away.  I sold the most recent tote with no price tag on it and threads still needing to be clipped.  What a thrill.  A woman from the Adirondacks who was visiting some BOCES colleagues of mine bought it.  Another group of BOCES  people came by and the sister visiting from Utah bought a skein of mohair boucle hand spun to take back with her.  I do love those tourists.  The locals know I will be back another weekend with my wares.  The travelers know they better get it now.  Took my wages to Tractor Supply to get a bag of milk replacer for the still unnamed Rambo ram twins.  The little guy is so tiny and spindly - but sucks eagerly on the bottle.  I can't deny his will to live and will help him all I can.  Bottle babies are costly.  Milk replacer, made from whey powder, is ridiculously expensive.  If I could get him strong enough to nurse from mom it would be different but this aged mom has only one teat working and the bigger, stronger brother is monopolizing it.  I'm worried about Mom - she's devoted but seems tired.  I bought her some minerals and found some good hay in the mow for her.  I sure don't want to lose Mom and babies, too. 

Bye Bye

The humid stickiness has turned into lovely, cool. dry, sunny days.   Father Aaron is on his way to Gorham, Maine, to visit Eric, Annie and kids for two days before heading back to NJ.  He'll visit some friends for a day then report back for Army chaplain duty in Nevada.  It was great having him here although the visit was much too short.  I was able to give him two home cooked dinners and have some good conversations about his work out West and future plans.  I love the way he was able to shoot off fireworks, something he can't do in the city where he lives.  I beg forgiveness from my neighbors - they must have thought we were under attack.  Last night the last few were set off while I was hunkered down on the sofa with some very shaky doggies.  We had a very lovely campfire.  There is something about gazing into the flickering flames and glowing coals that is mesmerizing and soothing.  Matt got Luke's motorbike drained and cleaned up to put in AJ's rented SUV along with his bicycle to take to Maine.  I'm sure Luke will be happy to have his wheels back to explore the new neighborhood. 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Surprise Lambs

Look what Miss Mamie brought down from the pasture with her tonight...two little ram lambs.  This came as a complete surprise to me.  I've never had lambs at this time of year before.  Miss Mamie is ancient - one of the Rambos I rescued several years ago.  Dad has to be Zack, my Border Leicester ram.  The lambs are tiny and exhausted, having followed mom on the long walk down the big hill.  Mom is totally enthralled with her babies, and I am thrilled they are here.  Father Aaron arrived for a visit today and I asked him to bless my lambs.

Gorgeous Greens

My chickens, the ones that are incarcerated in the chicken room/run that is, are thrilled that I'm pulling weeds.  I've been standing up some of the dinosaur weeds in the run for them to eat.  My chickens are not laying like they should.  I think they are unhappy that I'm not spoiling them like I used to. When my farmer's market neighbor starts bringing in giant bins of cabbages I'll bring a few home for the chickens.  For now they'll have to be happy with corn husks and weeds.

Super Weeds

I am attempting to build some kind of "garden" in front of my barn.   With dozens of free range chickens (Luke caught as many as he could and put them in the chicken room, but there are still so many on the run) planting anything that has a chance of growing is iffy.  I would like to put in a holly bush, a little cherry tree, and some ground cover, before the snow flies.  My student Randy cleaned out my chicken room last year and deposited the black gold on my future garden.  Well, the weeds that grew out were of such robust variety I can't begin to describe them.  A few I recognize as poke berry, burdock and milk weed.  The others are likely from the chicken feed I gave the chickens, or they blew in on the wind. I tied one of the Goatie Boys out on a line to eat some of the weeks but he cried so much and got himself tangled up so badly that Matt felt sorry for him and let him go.  I'm doing some work on it every day.  I confess I don't have the gusto to spend hours in the hot sun like I used to.  Sitting at my sewing machine or spinning wheel with New Age music on is much more relaxing and fun.  I suspect I will be hiring another student to do the rest.  They appreciate the work and I can "do other things" like shovel poop.  Shoveling is hard work but it's done in the cool darkness of the barn.

It's That Time Again

Fall shows are looming and I haven't even sorted all the wool from last season.  Time to get a move on it.  I don't usually go looking for wool as I have plenty of luscious fiber of my own...but once in a great while I give in.  I;m very fussy about where my wool comes from.  Kim and I were walking around the grounds of Maryland Sheep and Wool last May when we came upon a woman shearing her Romneys.  She was putting the giant fleeces out for sale as they came off the sheep.  Kim and I looked at each other and instantly understood that nobody else was going to get their mitts on those fleeces.  We were willing to fight for them if necessary.  Luckily, the grounds were deserted except for people taking care of their sheep and campers way down the lane.  The shepherd turned out to be from Mays Landing, New Jersey, and was happy for us to take them all.  I don't want to tell you what I paid because it was crazy cheap, causing me to wonder why I am raising my own sheep to begin with.  "Rita" even brought me another fleece or two at my booth the next day.  I am now getting around to sorting the Weymouth Walk Romney fleeces, and they are gorgeous.  I can hardly lift two fleeces at one time.  My Bluefaced Leicester fleeces are very light and hard to pick as they are so baby soft they attract every weed, seed and burdock within miles.  Romney fleece is what we call "open," with big waves of crimp that let the chaff fall out.  I picked them right out of the bag while stuffing the washer tub.  I have two giant dye pots and one fleece took both pots.  I have four more fleeces to wash and dye from Weymouth Walk.  I intend to blend them with my adult mohair, which is on the coarse side, like Romney wool.  The mohair and wool will blend nicely making the combination more palatable to weavers and sock knitters. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Will do some tidying up, which I don't like to do, before I do the things I like to do.  It's my self-imposed rewards system.  Tinkerbell is sitting on my shoulder and purring in my ear, telling me, that's okay, the work will get done, spend some more time with me.  The Today Show, which I can't watch during the school year, is on TV.  Nicki Manaj is performing on the square outside the studio.  I was proctoring a test for one student at my school a couple of years ago.  He was fidgeting and staring out the window.  I asked him if he was okay, and he told me he couldn't take the test unless Nicki M. music was playing.  I had never heard of her.  I thought about it and said let me see what I can do.  I found her recordings on the internet and started the tunes playing.  He got to work, mouthing the words to the songs silently, and knocked out the test in no time.  That's what I like about being a special ed teacher in an alternative school.  Sometimes the kids need a little extra something...I'm sewing some gorgeous bags.  Somehow it seems right to create these functional yet lovely totes to carry the weight of the world.  Whenever I see someone carrying a tiny little flimsy bag I think their life must be wonderfully uncomplicated.  Mine is anything but.  That is my choice, or is it an inability to draw back and analyze what works and what doesn't,  what I can manage without stress vs. a constant crusher.  I think I am finally able to see things with more lucidity.  Having too much to do takes me away from certain realities I don't want to deal with.  I'm so lucky - I still wake up in the morning without having to take a single pill, letting the blessings of good coffee give me everything I need.  I have beautiful animals for company.  I'm going to do some chores - the barn floor looks terrible.  Lukie, God bless him, scraped up a whole bunch of dried manure but didn't have time to haul it out to the pile before I took him to Maine. I'll finish the task for him, with tears falling on the shovels full of poop.  What a fierce little worker he is!  I'll come back inside, put on a movie and sew my beautiful bags.  It works for me.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Family News

Reports from Maine are good.  Luke is attending Webelo camp at Camp Hinds where I visited when I took the kidlets home.  He'll be making lots of new friends and figuring out how to run the place someday I expect.  Luke has a very shrewd, analytical mind and has given me many pointers here on the farm.  For example - Omi, why in the world did you want so many dogs?????  Hannah is helping Annie unpack the many boxes delivered from the Dallas Palace.  She likes her periwinkle blue room with the Ikea loft bed.  Little Fergus is settling in nicely and has figured out how to climb the ladder to the upper bunk.  Eric continues to get the Pine Tree Council on track with his vision for it.  There are many meetings and dinners to attend.  The job of a Scout Executive is a way of life.  I'm hoping to get back to Maine with all the little things left behind, along with Luke's motorbike and bicycle.  Mia reports that her nurse practitioner job is coming along nicely.  She and one of her surgeons saw 35 patients in the office on Friday.  Her hours are long, making hospital rounds early in the morning, then seeing patients in the office in the afternoon.   She's learning all kinds of neat medical stuff.  Father Aaron is visiting in New Jersey now and will come up to the farm on Thursday to see me, continuing on to Maine on Saturday.  He's having fun with old friends and burning off some of that Army Chaplain stress.  He sounds so happy to be home.

Lean On Me

I love being home with my little friends over the summer.  Once September comes I'm always bombing out the door, leaving the critters to while away the day until feeding time in the evening. Everyone has their job - growing wool, guarding the critters, keeping the rats away, laying eggs, etc.  Some kitties are so adorable they become house kitties.  Portia is letting Tinkerbell use her as a pillow.  Portia thinks she belongs in the house and knows how to pop out the bathroom screen to get inside.  Tinkerbell is so cute she can stay in the house all she wants.  I wouldn't mind if she caught the mouse who likes to run across the stove while I'm cooking.  Yes, this mouse seems to wait until I get dinner going to come out.  I'm a big strong farm girl but the sight of a long tailed grey furry thing streaking across my stove always gives me a start - and sometimes a shriek. 


What a gift sewing is.  Nothing occupies me when I'm "home alone" as happily as sewing does.  My old Singer is my favorite power tool.  My fiber artist/attorney friend, Carolyn D'Agostino, from Albany collects vintage sewing machines and decided to offer this one to me in exchange for wool.   It's similar in age and style to the last one I was using, only bigger and stronger.  When sewing my Bundaflicka totes with heavy tapestry and chenille fabric, bigger and stronger is a good thing.  My first show is in less than one month - Colorscape Chenango - and I'm working on hard on creating product.  Today I'm putting together snap frame totes with some lovely purply/flowery embroidered chenille chosen for me by my personal fabric consultant - Carol Crayonbox of Freeville, near Ithaca.  Love it!  I'm very late with sorting and dyeing fiber, but it will happen.  When, I don't know.  I go in fits and starts, ebbs and flows.  That's just the way things are.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Bean, Inc.

Eric took us to the LL Bean flagship store in Freeport.  This massive complex is open 24/7 year round.  I bought from Bean for many years.  Everybody got matching Beaners to wear on Christmas morning and I wore their boots until they wore out.  I got away from Bean products in recent years.  The quality is not the same and a lot of it is made in China.  What isn't?  Still it was wonderful touring the store with Eric and family.  I have some ideas for holiday gifts now.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

Camp Hinds

Eric and Annie lived at Camp Hinds while waiting for their house to be ready.  Camp Hinds is outside of Portland where the BSA Pine Tree Council headquarters is located.  When I brought Hannah and Luke home to them last weekend Eric drove us out to the camp.  Vans of Boy Scouts were arriving for their stay at the camp.  We walked the grounds and met some counselors, the cooking staff and the waterfront staff.  Everyone was very friendly and happy to meet the mother of the new Scout Executive.  I was very impressed with the wild natural beauty of the location.  The dining hall is covered with creative and artsy signs made by previous Scout troops staying at the camp.  I love signs anyway and had a lot of fun seeing what the various patrols came up with.  Annie showed me where to pick wild huckleberries.  Luke will be attending Cub Scout camp there next week.  Lucky boy.

From Pond to Pond

The pond on the farm figured largely in our summer program here on the farm.  Luke now has his own pond adjacent to his yard in Gorham.  This lovely setting is actually a communal pond shared by the people who live in the development.  It's left wild and has bull frogs who make the same music we hear on the farm.   A fire pit and benches are provided for residents.   What a lovely haven for bird watching and contemplation.

Top Gun

After many years of moving all over the country in service to the Boy Scouts of America, including a recent stint at National in Texas, Eric has landed his own council.  The Pine Tree Council is located in Portland, next to the airport, and Eric took me to see his headquarters.  Eric has a large staff that oversees dozens of troops along with Camp Hinds, a beautiful rural facility on a lake, which we also visited.  He is in charge of developing a vision for the council and making it happen.  When I asked how it was going he said "They love me."  What's not to like? 

Stone's Throw

Eric and Annie's new home has a lovely variety of landscaping with pretty and interesting stones incorporated every where you look, appropriate for the Granite State.  The driveway is lined with a stone wall and even the drainpipe over the culvert is covered with decorative flat stones.  The front walk is absolutely beautiful.  Low growing evergreen shrubs form terraces at various levels of the sloping grounds.  I couldn't help but imagine Christmas wreaths made from the clippings.  Beds of flowers are interspersed throughout the lot and a small field of wild flowers lines the road. 

Maine Doggies

Booker, Eric and Annie's Kentucky blueblood English Pointer, is feeling rather indignant at being tied to a well pump on the grounds of their new home in Gorham, Maine.  Annie is training this world class runner on the invisible fence - not an easy thing to do.  Booker joined the family while they were living in Louisville, Kentucky, where Hannah and Luke were born.  Eric was working for the BSA council there and Annie was teaching English and Rhetoric at the Univ. of Louisville.  Booker was joined by Perdita, a Chihuahua mix who was lost of the streets of Louisville.   Dizzy, another little-white-fluffy-lapdog mix, also homeless, was added during Eric's stint at National Boy Scouts in Dallas.  The doggies fared quite well over the last month when Eric and Annie were living in sparse quarters at the local Boy Scout camp while waiting to close on the house. 

Room to Roam

There was much unpacking and organizing to do on the first day in the Gorham house but Annie makes it look so easy.  Hannah and I couldn't resist setting up her Louet spinning wheel in the great room.   This spacious area is very cozy with a wood stove, plush carpeting, fantastic lighting and could easily accomodate a few spinners.  There is another room upstairs from this one that Luke refers to as his "Man Cave."   After a month on the farm with no video games, Luke was enjoying getting reacquainted with his game buddies.

First Breakfast

I felt so lucky to be with the family when they sat down for their very first breakfast in the new Maine home.  Annie is a world-class cook and her blueberry pancakes were fantastic.  Maine is the leading producer of wild blueberries in the nation.  I suspect we will be enjoying more delicious pancakes with these scrumptious little berries in the future.