Wednesday, October 31, 2012


I brought pumpkins in to school today to carve in my studio art classes.  It was a lot of fun, and the kids did a great job.  I put votive candles in them and turned the lights off.  The pre-schoolers came through our class Trick or Treating.  I loved it.  Took my mind off the sadness going on three hours south of here.  Mia says Morristown is still in a terrible mess.  Lines for gasoline are 50 cars long.  She spends a lot of time in the hospital, which has power and places for nurses to sleep and shower.  I don't want her climbing to the third floor of her apartment building in the dark.  I'm hoping to get down there to see her and make those curtains, but should wait until I can plug in my sewing machine.  There is one more market day on Saturday but the weather forecast says 39 F.  Wonder if the peeps will come out.  I would like to see my vendor friends one more time before we break for winter.  Andrew and Jason did a good job of scraping out the area of my barn where I walk back and forth doing chores and mixing kitty stew.  Still so much to do.  I've developed an attitude about it.  The work will be there when I get to it.  If I can get the young men in to help once in a while I will do it.  Waiting on Stan's son to come and clean out the sheep area with his machines and spread the poop on the fields.  Looking forward to getting more hay in next year.  The sheep love, love, love the first cut round bales I'm feeding them now.  47 left on November 1.  Won't get through the winter on what I have and will have to buy more.  Should get that in now before the snow flies and the elevator freezes.  Momma knocked down the wire fence and took her lambs out of the barn.  She was very antsy.  Kept the one month old ewe lambs out after dark.  Will go out there now to make sure she brings them in.  Won't be able to grain her when she's out with the flock and I know she'll miss it.  Price to pay for freedom....

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Mo' Mohair

I'm working on getting my angora goats shorn.  When I clip their mohair with scissors I can leave on a nice layer to keep them warm, like I did with this little guy.  Mohair grows very fast and they'll have a thick coat on in no time.    I adore mohair, and, thanks to my friends Dr. Quentin and Libby Llop, I'm able to give my goats the copper they need to make better fiber.  Libby sent me copper vitamins to give the goats when I shear them.  Copper is deadly to sheep but the goats need it.  Running animals with different nutritional needs together is a challenge.  In the meantime, I'm going to have several kid mohair fleeces to spin and knit for scarves to bring to the Plowshares Peace Festival in December, that is, if I have any time left after tending to all these critters.

Bag Ladies

I love my bag ladies, even when the bags are not my creations.  Carol Crayonbox's fabulous triangle bag went home with a woman named Audrey.  That's all I know about her, other than she knows a quality crafted one-of-a-kind art bag when she sees one.  The felted sunflower bag I picked up at the Fingerlakes Fiber Festival from the mother of the crafter who was vending across from me.  I traded wool for it, then offered it at the Rhinebeck festival.   The woman who bought it was absolutely bonkers over it.  Too bad, as I was going to send it home with Hannah.  Now I have something else in mine for my artsy granddaughter.


My lambs are doing fine.  I have two maternity pens to take care of, with separate water, hay and feed bins, along with several other hay racks around the barn to keep full, but that's okay.  I like the babies right where I can see them.  The moms would love to be let out to pasture, but the little ones are too small.  I'm bottle feeding the new boys as mom has only one working teat.  The lamb who monopolizes the teat is noticeably bigger so I'm letting the little one have more of the milk replacer.  Nothing can replace mother's milk, but we try.  The sheep rode out the storm okay, relaxing in their warm and dry barn, chewing their cud and munching on their delicious hay.   With 48 remaining round bales up in the hay mow holding down the barn I was fairly certain we would not be flying off to the Land of Oz. 

Come and Gone

Hurricane Sandy did what they said she would do...wreak havoc and devastation to my both my home states.  I almost feel guilty that the heart of New York, where my little farm is located, seemed to be surrounded by a force field that protected it from the wild wind that destroyed so much of the northeast.  I lost internet for most of the day but that's it.   School was cancelled today and when I wasn't sewing I was out in the barn with the critters. Mia called to say she was okay.  What a relief.  Morristown is a wreck, with no power and trees/electric wires all over the roads.  The hospital has generators to provide power and nurses are allowed to sleep over.  It will be days or even weeks to get back to normal.  When we think we have a grip on it Mother Nature has a way of slapping us back down  and putting things in another perspective.  Thor had a good idea on how to ride out the hurricane - in my hay box.  What a big baby.   I brought the White Boys - Thor, Finn and Knut in the barn for the night.  It was more for me than them - but they loved it.  When the big snows come they will live in the barn with the sheep.   Makes sense as the sheep will be in here too. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Different Worlds

I have a new booth neighbor at NY State Sheep and Wool.  They are very commercial and called Soak, out of Canada.    We are from different realms of the planet.  Yes, I need a partition and one is in the planning stages.  I was selling hand made hand creme, ladled into the jars one at a time, with all natural ingredients.  Nothing you can't pronounce.  I picked up a bottle of their wool wash and hand creme and saw a long list of chemicals, very few of which I could pronounce.  Different strokes for different folks.  They drew a big crowd, curious about the fancy rainbow colored bottles.  That's okay, I drew a big crowd too.  I sold out of hand creme by noon on Sunday.   Wish I had more but it is prohibitively expensive to make.  I will definitely have enough next year.  Isn't it nice that Rhinebeck comes back every year so that we can fall back, regroup, and come back stronger next time?


I adore hand knit socks.  The booth a few spaces down from me brought this lovely display piece to Rhinebeck this year.  It was made by a local welder to display their sample socks - only one each!  I think it's very cool.  None of the socks can compare with the Sockladyspins socks I collect and adore.   Lynne is still up north in the wilderness of British Columbia, knitting her artsy and durable socks.  None of mine have sprung a hole, even after several years of wearings and washings.  With my earnings from this year's festival I ordered myself another pair.  If I could knit fancy socks like my friend Gretchen and my daughter-in-law Annie, I would.  So far I have mastered the Handspun and Handknit Basic Sock Pattern.  I think socks are the perfect, portable and functional thing to knit.

Raw Fleeces

I finally got raw fleeces ready to bring to Rhinebeck this year.  They all sold without even trying.  Guess who is kicking herself for not bringing wool right off the sheep in previous years.   I am still planning on getting coats on my black sheep to prevent sunburned tips.  Now is the time to do it as they were recently shorn.  It's not as easy as you think.  I have to get a couple of guys to catch and hold them for me while I fit the coats properly and put them on.  It is well worth the trouble.  White wool sells better if it is dyed in bright colors and carded.  Black carded wool is not very popular, but black raw fleeces are.  I don't quite understand it, but that's okay.  I do have to remember to put names on the fleeces as the customers wanted to know who was donating the wool. 

New Jersey Fiber Friends

My faithful New Jersey fiber artists buddies Juliette and Rebecca came to see me several times over the Rhinebeck festival weekend.  Juliette was sporting her first weaving project - a stunning plaid poncho.  I was very impressed with her choice of colors and skill at such an early stage of her weaving studies.  Rebecca and Juliette are always so much fun to hang with.  They have a lot of  news for me from my home state.  Rebecca and her husband visited me on the farm.  I hope she brings Juliette to visit me and my critters in the spring.

Hannah at NY State Sheep and Wool 2012!

Hannah and Annie came to Rhinebeck this year.  It was absolutely wonderful having them there.  Hannah has become quite the fiber artist.  With a mother and grandmother who spin and knit it was a fait accompli.   Hannah surprised us with her needle felting skills.  While at the festival Hannah felted flowers and attached them to her wool hat.  Patrons stopped to watch her demonstrations in my booth.   Hannah set up her Louet wheel in the classy, vintage 1979 Westphalia VW camper Annie drove to NY for us to sleep in.  She spun yarn all the way home to Gorham, Maine. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Tender Mercies

I took a break from loading up for Rhinebeck to do chores.  Thought I heard something going on at the back of the barn but went about my business.  I threw hay down the far hole then climbed down to stack the feeding pens.  There they were - a pair of hefty, healthy babies staring me right in the face.  Almost rubbed my eyes as I thought I must be hallucinating, but they were real.  Didn't see mom at first, only goats munching on the hay I put out.  Uh-oh, I'm really in trouble I thought.  But no, there she was, big fat ewe - no wonder I didn't realize she was pregnant.  My mind was spinning.  Where to put them, do I have racks for a pen, buckets, where's my newborn kit, etc., etc.  Stuff is everywhere, the place is a wreck.  So much to do...but babies come from heaven (and my very eager Zack - Border Leicester ram) and I must see to them before anything else.  Two hours later I have them all sorted out, with Matt's help.  Thankfully Matt is home with them this weekend and will keep an eye on the babies until I get back.  Mom is not happy about being penned in the forward part of the barn where the maternity ward is.  She gave birth to them in the back where it's private, but I already had this pen set up and there she had to go, with the three week old girls and their mom.   I hate to leave them but duty calls and I must support them.  Luckily everybody loves the hay I'm putting out now.  Good hay along with a little grain makes good milk for babies.  Now it's late and I'm way behind.  What to do first.  Oh, how I love the sound of newborns in the barn.  I can hardly stand not being out there with them.  Zack is a full-bodied ram with a fantastic thick coat of wool and a sweet disposition.  I bought him from a 4-H family in Maryland two years ago.  I've never had fall lambs prior to this year.  I can thank Zack and lots of good green grass.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I See the Light

My latest run of Mother Fiber was waiting for me when I pulled in from work.  What a nice surprise which served to perk me up big time.  Stayed for a meeting after school to listen to the newest demands the Race to the Top people have set up for teachers.  The bureaucracy of education is daunting, and with our kids even more so.  Thank you, Lord, for my job.  As long as I have my job nobody can tell me I can't have my sheep.  The two wool runs my hero, John of Frankenmuth, got done for me are lovely.  One is a mustard gold with green and other colors running throughout, and the other is deep purple with chartreuse and reddish magenta.  If I had remembered to put the other bag of red in the box it would be even more striking.  It's a miracle I got it all dry and in the mail to the mill in time for Sheep and Wool this weekend.  Can't wait to spin it when the fur stops flying.  John yelled at me for five minutes when I asked him to get it to me so fast, but he did it.  I owe him big time.  On deck for tonight after chores - finish a partially constructed Bundaflicka tote, skirt another raw fleece or two, and start assembling more Mother Fiber Needle Felting Fiber Packs.  The "grab bags" as Kim likes to call them are a great way to use up my odds and ends for people who like a few colors for a good price.  Robin has been faithfully wrapping a box of soap every night.  Don't know how she does it without getting carpal tunnel.  I will bring the Bay Rum and Bergamot with me to have a soap wrapping party in Annie's VW camper.  Many hands make light work.  The week is flying by which it always does when I don't want it to but here we are.  The sheep were spread all over the hill when I got home which tells me something is wrong with the barnyard fence again.  I've promised myself that next week I will come home from work and, if the weather is nice, lie down in the middle of the field and soak up the sun.  If it's raining I'll lie down on the sofa after work for a while.  It will be a well-deserved rest.  the light is at the end of the tunnel.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

It's That Time

I know it's fall when I change into a cotton turtleneck, light sweater and fleece pants when I get home to do chores.  I'll get some more black fleeces skirted and weighed while it's light, then get chores started early so I can get inside and get dinner started before the presidential debate comes on.  Funny how easily swayed the American people are by one debate.  I wonder if they examined the issues first.  I doubt it.  They make a choice based on one night's tv performance.  Thomas Jefferson said the American people were not capable of choosing a President for themselves.  I'm inclined to agree.   I'm confident the Dems will stay in office, then down the line Hillary will run and surely win.  But for now I have a lot to do.  Robin is a soap wrapping machine, with her little Firecracker, Jaryn, 11 years old, as her helper.  Little do they know how that frees me up for other things.  Rhinebeck only comes once a year and thanks to them I will have a good crop of soap to put out.   Lambs are doing fine.  Margot and Margareta are thriving, still in the jug with mom.  Tails and shots done.  Have to take more pictures - they are adorable.  Zack gave me some lovely lambs.  Have to get Big Jim Baldwin back here for one more visit.  Zack is covered with burdock - my fault for not getting it whacked down before it bloomed.  Add it to next year's list.  There's always next year, thankfully, and the list grows and grows.

Monday, October 15, 2012


I'm sorting and picking fleeces in the twilight.  Have six weighed, tagged and ready to go to Rhinebeck.  Can't imagine where I will fit them in the booth but I will.  They are mostly BFL/Merino crosses.  Won't be any more of these as my rescued Morehouse Merino ram crossed over the Rainbow Bridge a couple of years ago.  I'm printing out soap labels for the mountain of soap I've made recently.  My trusty classroom aide, Robin, saved my behind and offered to wrap soap for me.  She's happy to take soap in return and use it for teacher's gifts at holiday time.  Her help is very much appreciated as it frees me up to do other things.   I made Shepherd's Friend creme until midnight last night.  Will sew after chores tonight.  Very happy that my shaving brushes and two Mother Fiber runs should - fingers crossed - get her in time.  Positive attitude prevails.  I'm hoping for cool weather this weekend.  When Rhinebeck is cold, the beautiful hand knit sweaters come out in force.  I've wanted to make this sweater for a long time, and there it was, in the wool, standing in front of me, two years ago.  I want to make it in cranberry red, longer than you see here, which the pattern calls for.  Someday...

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Rainy Sunday Morning

The glorious, cold, crisp, sunny air of yesterday seems a million miles away.  I knew I didn't have time to do the Hamilton market, but I'm trying to get my latest run of roving out of hock at the mill, and, besides, I wanted to see my market friends.  With winter closing in and Rhinebeck next week I don't know if there will be another market day.  It was the perfect medicine for me, soaking up the vitamin D and chatting with friends.  Two little old ladies (a little older than myself) came up with empty containers of Shepherd's Friend creme and said OH! thank goodness you are here!  They bought larger jars to get them through the winter.  Private jets were taking off all morning long, with the Colgate Homecoming going on.  I guess those monied alumnae didn't want to spring for extra jet fuel because they were not buying, but one older lady (my best customers) stopped and fingered a bag or two.  She said to her friend, Wouldn't Bunny like one of these?  They kept on walking but came back and bought a bag I've carried around for two years at least.  I had marked it down hoping to move it but she would have bought it anyway.  Lesson learned.  She handed me a hundred dollar bill.  Yes, people still carry those around.  A classy older woman covered in Colgate memorabilia asked me if I would come to her Christian woman's group to talk about what I do.  She made a $5 purchase, I think she thought that would somehow cover a morning away from the farm, but I will probably see her in heaven.  Okay, I wish I went to Colgate and didn't have to work a day in my life but things didn't work out that way.  I traded teal and cobalt wool for some more Susanne Farrington mugs for shaving soap, and my potter friend Kylie Spooner offered to trade something from her booth for more teal.  I surely do have to dye another teal run!  I picked up a lovely earthy crock from Kylie for my kitchen utensils.  Ron Wagner's mother gave me a giant bag of broccoli crowns so heavy I can hardly pick it up.  HAVE to make cheddar/broccoli soup.  It would be a crime to let them go bad.  I have so much to do today it scares me to think about it, but I've been here so many times before that I know I will pull it off.  Positive attitude prevails.  Rainy and dreary today but the morning in the sun at the market, even with all the loading, setting up, taking down and loading again, was worth it and buoyed me for the week ahead.  I bought lunch for Matt at the Indian buffet across from the market and can't remember when twenty bucks was better spent on food.  It was fabulous with great service, and it meant I didn't have to cook last night.  I don't know how I'm going to get all this soap wrapped, I don't have any lavender fabric, I need shaving brushes which have to be shipped tomorrow or I won't get them...but guess what - everything will be fine because I will make it fine.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Got Soap

I'm working very hard on soap this week, cooking it at night after chores, then cutting it up the next night after cooking some more.   I can wash away the woes of the world with all this lovely, pure,creamy, sweet smelling soap.   After bread, soap is the stuff of life.  It's the gift that keeps on giving.  I don't deal in foo-foo goods.  Everything I make is wonderfully basic and simple.  I like it that way.

Feeding Hay

My feeding of round bales will not be as hard as I anticipated.  The guys rolled out a bale to the barnyard on Monday.  By last night, Tuesday, it was wet and trampled on.  I knew I had to put out hay this morning.  I pulled a big water tank that will no longer hold water under the far hay mow hole.  I pull apart the layers of the round bale with my hands.  The hay is lovely and sweet, but it's first cut and has some sticks.  The sheep don't seem to care - they love it.  I throw down big chunks of hay into the water tank until it's a high mound, then climb down the ladder into the tank.  My stepping on it serves to mash down the hay which I then scoop up in big armfuls to put into the hay feeders. If I had room in the barn to roll out a bale I would be better off, but with 50 crammed in next to each other that's not possible.  I'll figure it out...

Coming on Fast

Rhinebeck is one week from tomorrow.  I can't believe it's here again.  I am working harder than ever before on product, and have some beautiful things to take with me.  I am in a constant state of fatigue and anticipation.  The teaching job and farm animals can't be neglected but I have to make product.  I've been making/cutting soap every night.  It's so good to see it curing on the rack.  I have to start my pot of scraps to melting so I'll have the big blocks to put out.  I will spend Sunday making Shepherd's creme and skirting fleeces.  It may not have been a good idea to shear early this week, as I still haven't caught up, but I wanted to take fleeces to Rhinebeck for the first time, and I had to shear now to give the sheep some time to grow back some wool before the snow flies.  As it is, the cold came on us sooner than later.  It' was sleeting outside my classroom window today and it's dipping down to 25 F. tonight.  The wood stove is blazing now and the sight of it is a pleasant reminder that as long as I tote logs we will be toasty warm.  I have so much to do it scares me to think about it, and it's all too much for one person to take on, but it's so much fun.  Rhinebeck pays for the hay I need to keep my critters alive all winter.  I had my big mug of coffee after work, and have my fleece ski underwear on, and will go out to throw down hay.  Hay composts inside sheep and keeps them warmer than grain.  I'm still letting them out to graze, but the pasture is eaten down and I want to keep them fat and happy.  When I'm too tired to sew I spin and ply some skeins.  Here is one mega-skein, at 400 yards, of two-ply (yes, always 2-ply)Bluefaced Leicester/Border Leicester yarn I finished last weekend. 

Monday, October 08, 2012

Lovely Lilly

I did not have Lilly shorn today.  Her fleece is very typically Bluefaced Leicester - very light and fine.  I don't want Lilly to be chilly this fall.  She's a grand old lady now and has VIS status - Very Important Sheep.  Lilly nudges me on the back if I don't pay attention to her and gives me hot, wet kisses.  I adore her.  I wish there was a way for me to give her corn snacks and apples, her favorites, without being mobbed by the rest of the flock.  We had a bumper crop of apples last year and Lilly was in heaven.  She went into winter with a good layer of fat from gorging on apples every day.  No apples at all this year, sad for Lilly.   Lilly's son, Forrest, inherited his mother's affectionate nature.  I only have one ewe from all the years I've had Lilly and that is Luna.  Luna has a lovely, thick fleece which I will enjoy dyeing soon. 


Myrna is one of my "old ladies."  I figure she is pushing 11 or 12.  Myrna gave birth to two sets of ewe twins that did not survive.  I was extremely frustrated until I witnessed her giving birth and was there to make sure the lambs made it.  Myrna is a very graceful and dignified sheep.  She suffered an injury a while back which left one eye dark.  As years passed it slowly lightened and her beauty was restored.  Some things need time to heal.  I'm happy to have had many good years with Myrna and like the fact that she has such a lovely farm to live out her time.

Fall Shearing Day

We got 45 fleeces in the bag today.  I had all the help I needed with Jim Baldwin shearing, Santana skirting, Andrew and Crash wrangling sheep, and Matt holding them while I trimmed 180 hooves and gave vaccinations.  No worming was necessary as the sheep were FAT.  I mean, positively roly-poly on grass alone.  I'm very please with the health of the flock, aside from three or four very old ladies who are a bit bony and withered as old ladies will be.  I'll have black fleeces to bring to Rhinebeck, and enough white wool to keep the dye pots going for weeks.  When the dust settled and everyone was paid and on their way home, I retreated to the kitchen for coffee before chores.   Matt drove to Hamilton to get a chimney brush and came home with Chinese for dinner.  What a perfect treat on a day when I was not crazy about cooking.  After chores I made a batch of Mango-Mango soap.  I'm about to punch out in the time clock and go horizontal.  All critters fed, watered and loved up for the night.  Back to work tomorrow to get some rest.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Sunday Morning Musings

Watching for rain.  Can't have the sheep wet when shearing tomorrow.  I'm excited about all those big bags of wool to play with.  Luckily I have two former students - Andrew and "Crash" are coming to round them up, catch the sheep and hand them over for shearing.  Jim Baldwin will shear them, Matt and I will take it from there with shots, hoof trimming, sweeping the platform and bagging the wool.  Sure could use someone else but the Parkinsons can't make it.  We'll see.  I can't wait any longer to shear.  I need the wool for Rhinebeck and the sheep need time to grow back some more before the snow flies.  Luckily they have a big strong barn to get out of the cold.  On deck for today:  cut up lots of lavender soap, make enough hand creme to get out some orders and cut out some bags for sewing on week nights after work and chores.   I have a lot of really cute fabric - thank you Carol of Crayonbox Designs - and would love to put my scissors to it.  I'm cooking a big pot of cabbage/cauliflower/kidney bean/onion soup to ward off colds and live on over the next two weeks while Matt is away building weatherization training houses for community colleges across the state.  The weather has turned nicely cool and I plan on building a little smoldering fire on those nights when I'm here alone with the doggies.  This time of year I pull the sofa in front of the wood stove, pile on with the doggies, and go into peasant mode.  I hope I don't have any more deaths in the near future, but with all the older animals I have I think I can count on it.  I'm worried about my old Rambo mama.  Those big wethered ram lambs are really taking it out of her.  I bought a bottle of vitamin B complex and gave her a shot of it yesterday.  She's thin despite worming and lies down a lot, staring into space with foggy eyes.  Thankfully the boys are eight weeks old and will survive without her, but still...she's my last Rambouillet, rescued from the shepherd who sold her farm, bought a Winnebago and took off several years back.  I love those big majestic sheep, gentle giants, but they are hard to handle with slow growing wool that needs special processing.  I am a British long wool sheep lover, but those big Rambos were wonderful while I had them.  I'm enjoying the political news and current events are always interesting.  I think any social minded caring working person would be terrified of a Republican presidency.  I work with the poorest of the poor every day, some of whom only have one set of clothes and get their only hot meal in school.  I keep reminding them that their vote is every bit as powerful as any wealthy person in high positions.  They can't imagine having any power to change their position in society...but then, I work with people who have Masters Degrees and don't vote.  They tell me it makes no difference.  How can I convince them they are oh, so wrong?

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Rain All Weekend

So glad this week is over.  Not that my job is all that difficult, but combined with the commuting, farm, running errands, etc. I get a little tired.  Matt has been building two weatherization training houses, in Albany and Buffalo, for community colleges to use with students.  He makes it home on weekends and is a big help when he's here.  The new Bluefaced Leicester/Border Leicester lambs are doing fine.  Mama wants out of the pen but I won't do it.  Those little ones would surely be trampled by the big ones.  We're shearing on Monday, Glory Be!  I sold a raw fleece at Fingerlakes and that's inspired me to work harder on making them part of my booth.  Had to shut the sheep in the barn this morning as a cold rain is falling out there.  Missed another market  day.  Ouch.  I have to put out hay but all I have in the barn is the first cut round bales.  I was wondering how in the world to put them out for the sheep without the proper equipment  but found the hay comes apart in my hands when I cut the netting off.  The big door at the end of the barn is broken and sits at an outward angle.  That has to be fixed before the snow flies.  I found a large older doe dead in the back of the barn.  Wondered why she was sleeping in the same spot for two nights in a row and went to inspect.  With the hot weather last week I had a heck of a time getting her out this morning.  Luckily her limbs held together on the way out.  My Shepherd's Friend Hand Creme has a new purpose - rubbing on/under/up my nose when performing grizzly tasks.  The cool, cleansing rain helped too.  I hate to lose my little friends, but I have the newborns to cuddle and love on to make me feel better.  The circle of life goes round and round.  Looking forward to shearing on Monday...Big Jim Baldwin is coming from Freeville.  Hope he brings me some of his lovely Merino fleeces.  Former students coming to help round up critters and Matt will be home for Columbus Day.  Will pick up supplies today.  I have a big batch of lavender soap to cut up and put out to cure, with several bags cut out to sew this weekend.  Never enough time in the day.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Misty and Spooky

Warmish dark and misty out there, with nary a star twinkling or moonbeam penetrating the cloud cover, so unlike last night when Izzy and I went up to the tippy top looking to bring in the sheep, with the full moon glowing through horizontal streaks of grey clouds.  I can't see a thing five feet in front of me tonight.  I dragged panels up the lane from the tractor shed to make a pen for the new family.  They won't be bothered by other sheep who want the hay and grain I gave mom and the babies won't be jostled about.  Mom will also be kept close to the babies until they are safely on the teat.  Don't think I'll have to worry about this mother straying - she's fantastic.   I sometimes let myself get spooked on nights like this, thinking Lydia the resident ghost might be wandering the grounds, keeping me company.  It's okay if she watches from afar - I don't want to accidentally walk through her ghostly protoplasmic web.  My headlight is enough to keep me from stepping in a dog or ground hog hole and finding the gate closure.  Just when I think I am about to get nervous, I look back toward my giant barn with the lights on from one end to another, and think of all the fat and happy critters inside, especially my newborn ewe lambs in a pen with their mama, warm and dry, and I make my way back into the cozy scene to finish chores.  I lingered quite a while tonight, watching mama eat her fresh grass hay and nibble on her grain, with the lambs napping and finally getting up to nurse, wagging their little tails, and I think, life is good. 


While opening the gate to let the sheep out to graze I noticed a tiny little body peeking out from behind the round bale.  Thought I was hallucinating from too much birthday cake, then saw another little white body, cord hanging, nearby.  Twins!  Then I noticed there were no "packages" hanging from the rear end - ewes!  Mom, a veteran mother, was nearby, calling them to her.  I grabbed them quickly and did my backward crouch into the barn all the way into the pen I used for Rudolpho and Marcello in August.  What a thrill!  I can't believe I've had two sets of twins in two months - a first for this shepherd in more than ten years with sheep.  Did my clip-dip-strip routine and got Mama some fresh hay and a bit of grain.  One twin a bit smaller than the other.  Both teats working.  Will get her some warm water with molasses now to get that milk moving.  Everybody doing fine.

Monday, October 01, 2012

Birthday Fun

I get a little sensitive around my birthday, missing my mother (who always went all out on my birthday), missing my kids who are all far away, and wishing I had someone to make a German Chocolate Cake for me the way my mother did every year, yada, yada, yada.  I kept the last German Chocolate Birthday Cake she made me for years after she died, taking it out every birthday and eating a bite or two until it was gone.  I can still see her sifting the fancy cake flour and melting the little chocolate bars for the icing.  I know what's coming and try to be pro-active about it in an effort to avoid the emotional melt down.  I went to Morristown to spend Saturday night with Mia in her new apartment.  We went out to dinner with Aunt Carol, my oldest best friend from my Morristown Memorial Hospital days and Mia/AJ's grandmother.  Carol gave me a beautiful glass container filled with scent that fills the room when you lit the wick.  What a great time we had, drinking wine and telling stories at a Thai restaurant in upscale Mo'town, the South Beach of the Northeast.  Mia and I had a slumber party in her third floor Victorian walk up, snuggling in the big bed underneath the slanted ceiling in her bedroom, chatting away until we fell asleep.  We woke up at four and drank coffee until the sun came up, ordered fabric online for her new curtains, and positioned the furniture I brought her from Chez Tractor Shed.  It was heavenly, and buoyed me substantially to see her so happy in her new digs across from Drew University and within walking distance to Madison.  Home to the farm and work today.  My angel friend and classroom aide, Robin, baked a cake for me and gave me a handmade card signed by her darling daughters, Harlee and Jaryn.   We lit and candle and the students sang Happy Birthday.  Somehow she found a copy of Haute Handbags, the quarterly magazine I had been looking for but couldn't find.  I was incredulous and thrilled.  I could barely concentrate on the students for flipping through this book full of artsy hand made bags.  Home to the farm and a trip to the PO in hopes there would be something there.  I don't know how she timed it so perfectly but there it was - a package!!  My fabulous Canadian buddies the Parkinsons sent me a goody box with a pair of gorgeous hand spun hand knitted thrum mittens along with two pounds of Multatelli coffee and my favorite tea!  The best part of the box I discovered last - a hand written Birthday card created by Lindsay with farm animals drawn and colored all over it!  I adore kiddie cards and will cherish this one forever.  Thank you, thank you dearest friends!