Saturday, June 28, 2014

Saturday Morning

No setting up at the Hamilton market for me today.  I might go over there to see if the Sauquoit blueberries have arrived, and buy more cheese from Jake's Farm.   Sometimes I need a day to fall back and regroup.  My farm needs me today.   Everywhere needs shoveling or tidying.  Spouse is not good.  He went to Tractor Supply and got a haircut yesterday, then met me at Remember When for dinner after school.  That much activity set his foot to swelling and oozing again.   Back on the sofa.  I have to figure out what to do with this lower field of thistles.  I'm about to call my farm "Thistledom."  If only the spoiled rotten goats would eat them.  I see them nibbling at them so I know they can, but there is so much other clover and soft, lovely grasses for them to eat they are fussy.  I took the doggies up to the pond for a dip, then back down for some fresh farmy eggs with melted jalapeno cheese.    I've been busy getting this year's fleeces picked, washed, dyed and dried.  This glorious sunshine is helping enormously.  I'll have plenty of Mother Fiber for fall shows.  Baby duck is still with us after a scare last night when it fell out of the hay mow into a pile of goats, milling around outside of the milk room door where the grain is kept.  I chased the goats away and picked him up, crippled and scared.  Mama pecked at me when I climbed the ladder to give it back to her.  I feared it would die in the night, but this morning found it courageously following Mama through the thick wet grass.  Still have rats in the chicken room.  Found a cozy nest of big rats all entwined under the feed bucket when I was doing chores late last night.  I ran for a kitty but they disappeared under the dirt floor.  I don't do traps or poison as other critters can get into them. Have to have a talk with the Kitty Cadre and tell them to get crackin' on the rats. 

Friday, June 27, 2014

Musings on the Last Day of School

I love the cyclical nature of the teaching profession.  You hang on until the end of June then start all over again in September with a clean slate.  Our annual departmental lunch at Nina's in Norwich was very enjoyable.  Fawn and I stopped in at Mrs. B's warehouse to check out what's happening in this massive jungle of thrift goods new and old.  I picked up some cute vintage J. Crew tee shirts for beans, a pink and white men's Tommy Hilfiger oxford shirt I'll cut down for myself ($1.00) and some men's shorts.  I love the baggy shorts for working around the farm.  Then back to school and work.   We've been busy cleaning our classroom - not an easy feat for an art teacher and her hard-working aide.  Fawn Dix made my art room shine and arranged everything so beautifully.  I'm getting ready for, yes, Summer School.  I decided to give it a try.  I've been assigned a primary class of ten very needy special education students. I have a week off before this adventure begins in which to do some much needed work on the farm, catch up on some projects for the coming fall shows, and float on the pond.  I have one tiny little baby duckling running around trying to keep up with Mama Duck.  I checked the nest and it has some very aromatic, cold eggs in it.  No more babies will hatch from this nest.  No line of ducklings parading about the barnyard this summer.  I hope this baby is alright.  I spent a good ten minutes trying to catch it last night and when I finally did I put it in a cage for its own protection.  Sure enough, it escaped and ran off with Mama.  Okay, I will live and let live.  I have a lot to look forward to, like picking up my new ram from Nyala Farm in Vestal, New York.  He's a white Wensleydale and should put some lovely, heavy fleeces on this winter's lambs.  I took last winter off and, as much as I missed the babies, was glad that I did.  Many nights with minus twenty temps surely would have taken a toll on my lambing.  Now it's home to the farm with boxes of "stuff" that teachers accumulate over the year.  Luckily I'm keeping this beautiful art room next year and can keep the fantastic student art up and my books on the shelves.  My summer school room is upstairs with another class using my art room but I will have access to it.   They say Summer School is a happy, fun six weeks without the stress of grades and progress reports.  Here's hoping...

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Baby Ducks!

Spouse came home from the hospital yesterday and found a tiny baby duckling in the barnyard, standing under great big Thor, one of the White Boys.  It wandered away from the nest in the hay mow where I think Mama Duck is trying to hatch the remaining eggs.  The fuzzy yellow darling was waiting for me in a bucket when I came home from my eye appointment after work.  I returned it to the nest where Mama obviously had some other hatchlings squirming under her.  I'm thrilled about my baby ducks.  They are cheering me up after the loss of my Scarlett and Sue Ellen, who are in Pig Heaven right now, enjoying the green fields and cool wallows they had here on the farm.  I'm looking forward to my next pair of piggies and have Kyra Toful on line for more.   Last summer was the Summer of the Ducks.  I was obsessed with Mama Duck and her brood, marching around the barnyard in a long line.  I took the unhatched eggs into the house to hatch indoors and was able to return those babies to the family.  I want to build a pen for the family so I'm not quite so frantic over their well-being.  That will have to wait until later today.  Will ask Matt to hobble outside from time to time and check for babies.  He is able to get around a little and made it to the tiny cinder block Brookfield Town Hall to vote for his Republican congressman yesterday.  Yes, it's true.  He's one of "them."  

Monday, June 23, 2014

Goodbye Piggies

Scarlett and Sue Ellen have gone to visit Miss Tammy at The Farmer's Place.  They will be coming back to me in many different forms that will sustain us, probably for a year or two.  I knew this time would come but I didn't think it would be complicated by things like Matt being hospitalized, no trailer hitch to pull them, etc.  Appointment after appointment had to be postponed.  Mary and Robert Jordan came to the rescue.  They hauled their horse trailer over here and helped me build chutes from the barn to the truck.  We set it up for yesterday after I got home from visiting Matt.  The girls were right where I wanted them to be and I thought they would be cooperative.  No deal.  They wouldn't be coaxed into that trailer for love or warm slop.  Robert was so patient and kind.  He said he would leave his truck and trailer here and perhaps they would go in by themselves.  No way.  I woke up early and found them sleeping in the hay mow, the way they do, like spoons.  So lovely.  I called Mary and we went to Plan B.   I put down a giant pan of warm corn slop and left for work.  Robert and his brother came to the farm and sent them to heaven before they knew what was happening.  It was less stressful than a trailer ride down the road.   They took them to Miss Tammy, who will work her magic and in two weeks I will have more food than I know what to do with.  Well, yes, I know what to do with it, but first I have to buy a very large freezer.  I've already spoken to Kyra Toful of New Berlin for more piggies.  I can't say enough about the Tamworths.  The girls were sweet as can be until they got too big to contain and went into heat.  They needed a boyfriend or a freezer.  I loved raising them and never begrudged mixing two buckets of slop twice a day.  No pigs were ever more spoiled or free to roam over 50 beautiful, lush acres during their short lives.  Sure do miss them.  Now they are a part of the ever-growing historical drama of Maggie's Farm.  

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Are You Using Protection???

With an accident-prone spouse laid up in the hospital with a serious foot infection from having stepped on my canning rack I am extremely mindful of adequate protection these days.  The prong on the canning rack went right through the sole of his Muck Book Wellington.  Well.....that won't happen again.  I purchased two sets of wool/alpaca inserts for his boots.  Ancient warriors wore felted wool armor which would not allow an arrow to penetrate the densely woven fibers.  Martha, the alpaca farmer, had these made with her own alpaca and offered them for sale at the Central New York Fiber Festival earlier this month.  They can be cut to fit his boot.  No nail, or prong on a canning rack, will push through these pads.  Now we'll wait and see what else befalls this man, who, earlier this year, dropped a big log on the same foot and crushed the toe.

Carol's Shetland

Carol Crayonbox brought some fabulous Shetland fleeces from her shepherd friend, John Steffans, of Ithaca, to the Central New York Fiber Festival.  She helped John when Jim Baldwin sheared the flock a month or so ago.  My "code" only allows me to buy wool from shepherds who I know take good care of their sheep.  Since these Shetland fleeces were so clean and pretty, and so well-priced, I thought I would take home a couple.  The wool is not as soft as Bluefaced Leicester, but it is long and beautiful.  I brought home the tie-dye liquid from school and used it on this fleece.  The variegated colors - Honey Mustard and Pink Orchid by Jacquard - came out very nice.  I think I will blend it with my mustard BFL and see what happens.  This is fiber art.

Summer Sunday

The weather is spectacular this weekend.  I feel sorry for the people who are stuck inside with work or illness.  Matt is still in the hospital, sounding a little blue this morning and I don't blame him.  The doctors are still not on top of his foot infection and he's stuck in bed with four IV's hanging.  Sounds like they are throwing everything they've got at it.  I'm doing chores then driving over to Cooperstown to bring him the Sunday paper.  I have to unload the rest of the 100 pound feed sacks out of the car and up the steps.  Got one done last night.   I can do it if I toss them end over end but it's a struggle.  If I put them on the dolly I can't pull it up the steps.  Not as strong as I used to be and that annoys me.   Mary and Robert are coming over to help me tonight - God Bless Them.   I have wool to put out for drying.   I am so blessed.  Whenever I start to feel sad or lonely all I have to do is get out a raw fleece and I'm magically restored.  Same thing with sewing and knitting, or a walk to the pond.  I have many mechanisms to employ as anti-depression devices.  I have this beautiful land to fortify me.  Then there are my doggies, and kitties, and sheep, and goats, and chickens, and ducks, and pigs.  Yes, the pigs.   If we can manage it Sue Ellen and Scarlett are going to meet their destiny tomorrow.  Trying not to think too hard about it.  I will feel more relaxed about leaving for work every day without them roaming around.  They will feed us for a year or so.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Beautiful Day

Don't quite know where to start but the Multatelli French Roast is helping already.   I can't go to the farmer's market even though the weather is spectacular today.  My truck is parked in the lot of the Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown with all my goods.  Matt told me to take his little Saturn to work yesterday to save gas, then realized he was in trouble and took himself to the surgical clinic.  They wisely admitted him.  Now I have to go to the Louis Gale Feed Mill and fill the little car up with 100 pound feed sacks.  The biggest problem will be getting them home and up the steps into the milk room.  Last week Kim was here to help me.  Big, strong Dutch girl, she's great to have around when things get physical.  I'll figure it out.  I'm just not as strong as I used to be.  Wonder when that happened?  I'm very worried about Thor, who is acting like his rear end hurts.  He is eating and wagging his tail, but whining when he gets up.  I think he was whacked by the pigs.  I have reason to think that as I got a good whack myself yesterday as one was running past me.    I think the girls are in heat.   Kyra Toful, the breeder in New Berlin, told me the signs and the girls have them.  Feisty rambunctiousness plus swelling in a certain area.  Would love to breed them but spouse is not on board with that and my focus is sheep and wool.   I'm very grateful to Mary and Robert, shepherds across the creek, for coming to help me get them to Miss Tammy on Monday.  I dreaded this day but I knew it was coming and now it's past time.  I'll share the hefty bounty with them for helping me, along with lemongrass soap, which Mary loves.   Time to get dressed and get out there.  Never know what I'm going to find.  Have to find that tractor inner tube so I can float on the pond and "ponder" all this.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Life is What Happens When You Are Making Other Plans

Got a call from Matt while I was at work today.  He told me he was going back to the hospital in Cooperstown to have his wound looked at.  He took the bandage off and saw that it was oozing again.  The pain had been waking him up at night.  Mind you, this wound has already been cultured twice.  I don't think Bassett in Cooperstown, big fancy teaching hospital that it is, sent him home too soon.  I am very unhappy with his course of treatment, that is, after they sent him home from the ER with a raging infection.  It was only after he went back two days later having gotten worse that they admitted him.  With all the different doctors and students looking at him I don't even know who is in charge of him.  Had a long talk with the patient advocate at the hospital today.  I'm writing down everything I can think of in case I need to seek legal counsel.  In the meantime I have a field full of thistles that need to be cut down and two five hundred pound pigs that are chasing me around the farm.  I have an appointment on Monday but what now?  No farmer's market tomorrow.  I'll have to make the weekly run to the feed mill in Waterville,  take care of the farm, then travel to Cooperstown.  It will be a lot of driving but that's what we do in the wilds of upstate New York - we drive and drive and drive some more.

 I got my summer school assignment today - ten 8 or 9 special needs kids and three aides.  One in a wheelchair, two almost without sight.  This will be interesting.  I'm not used to being with the same kids all day.  Lots of games and outside time.  They assigned me a beautiful, big classroom with good A/C that belongs to some colleagues of mine.  I hope they are still friendly with me after I'm in their room for six weeks.  

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Tie Dye

The teacher of the little ones asked us if we could tie dye in art class if she brought in the shirts.  I said sure thing and brought in my Jacquard wool dyes.  They are very intense and did the trick.  The kids seemed to like the blue the best.  After school I rushed home so we could take some of the dogs to the free rabies clinic in New Berlin.  Matt is far from recovered from his foot infection but came with me to hold the smaller dogs, Izzy and Reba, while I struggled with Cooper and Bertha.  My dogs don't get off the farm much, if ever, but then, why would they when they live in Paradise?  Taking them to stand quietly in a line full of nervous barking dogs of every shape and size imaginable was a bit much to ask.  I stood off a distance while Bertha and Cooper barked and barked.  Finally they calmed down enough for me to join Matt, Izzy and Reba in line.  The vet was late to arrive so we had a while to wait.   I asked the lady behind me with the German Shepherds to please not crowd us as I truly did not know what my dogs would do if they were sniffed in the behind by strange dogs.  They were fine.  We finally moved past the document table to the vet, a small, older woman who wore stretch tights and drove a BMW wagen.   I thought I would straddle Cooper and hold him but he threw me off.  The vet said "there's one in every crowd."  Cooper stood quietly while she stuck him in the back thigh.  He just wanted me to give him a chance to be good.  Those dogs were SO happy to pile back into Matt's little Saturn and get back to the farm.  The exertion put Matt back on the sofa with his bottle of pain pills.  I don't know what they did to his foot but the infection must have been in the bone and they must have scraped it good.  He is hardly progressing at all and I am in need of some major help around here.  It's 11 pm and I have just sat down to write this.  Going horizontal in about five minutes.  Nighty-night.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Strawberries, Cherries and an Angel's Kiss in Spring...

I was flying down the road on the way home to the farm when I spied an Amish farmer with a table full of strawberries.  Guess who hit the brakes hard and swung the truck around?  I asked him if I could taste one and he said sure.  The price was very reasonable I had a few bucks burning a hole in my pocket.  The rest of my ride home was absolutely wonderfully sweet and juicy.  I don't know what to do with all these strawberries.  Not to worry - in about two days they will be gone.  Loaded with vitamin C I could be eating a lot worse.

Mid Week Musings

What a storm last night!  I'm so glad my chores take me outside where I was treated to an incredible light show.  One half of the sky to the south was clear with bright twinkly stars.  The other half to the north was covered with clouds that were illuminated every couple of seconds with lightning strikes.  It was something like that Close Encounters of the Third Kind movie where the aliens were approaching.  I was transfixed by the show - nature's Imax at it's best.  The field to the east was covered with fireflies and their lovely yellow lamps flittering about.  I stayed out for a while then brought Knut inside.  Finn had already refused to leave the barn.  My dogs hate thunderstorms and I don't blame them.  If the sheep are in the barn the White Boys might as well be, too.  The rain and wind started up and the deluge began.  The electric power flickered on and off and the satellite TV went out.   My upper field grass is growing nicely with all this rain.  Have to call Julia to put me on the schedule for hay.  With all the excitement Scarlett and Sue Ellen decided to sleep late this morning.  Not me, I was on the road after morning chores as usual.   Matt is still down with his foot.  It's not improving very much and causing him a lot of pain.  They must have scraped that infection out good.  I need him to get on the tractor and mow down the thistles that are attempting to take over the lower field.  My spoiled rotten goats prefer the short sweet grasses.  School is still on for another week after this.  I have a week off then summer school.  My summers for the last ten years have been devoted to my grandchildren, but they are growing up and have a busy life with the Pine Tree Council in Maine.  Hannah is working on the camp staff and Luke is attending camp.  I'm hoping Luke will come for a visit but I'm sure Hannah won't.  The farm is very low speed and not very appealing for a sixteen year old girl.  Life is flying by at the speed of sound.  Thankful for my farm and all these little ones to love.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Monday Morning Musings

Back to work after a great weekend immersion in all things fiber art.  The best part was hanging out with Kim, Candace, Carol, Lisa, Susanne, Jim, and my many fiber friends who totally understand what I do.  No explanation necessary with them.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Bouckville Festival

I'm sipping a very large cup of very strong Multatelli coffee before we go back to the Central New York Fiber Festival.  I am very happy with the way the festival is growing.  We definitely had more people come through the gate this year.  We are very lucky with the weather.  After two days of heavy rain the tents kept the water out and the grounds are firm.  No patrons got stuck in the mud yesterday.  I sold some raw fleeces, which is very gratifying to me considering the fleece sale had a hefty number of entries.  If mine were shorn and skirted in time I certainly would have availed myself of that service.  My coffee-for-vendors was well received and I filled the big pot three times.  Kim had a ball, as usual, and sold a few skeins of her gorgeous art yarn.  I love to give her fiber as I see it spun up in the basket at the next show.  She makes me look so good.  We would have loved to spend the night at the fairgrounds and babysit the sheep as we did last year, but spouse is still not good and we had to return to the farm for chores.  We did our pond walk in the pitch black dark to put Lindsay's gift to me, a bag of baby gold fish, into the pond.  Thank you Lindsay!  The grass is knee high after all this rain.  I think it's time to call Julia to cut it.  We were back up there last night to gaze at the water and play with the dogs.  The goat herd was keeping their distance.  Kim and I got a couple of goats clipped Friday night, including a feisty doe who kept trying to bite me the whole time I worked on her.  She feels much better now with her summer hair cut.  I'm sure she told the others to stay back.   I picked and skirted a couple of black fleeces last night while we watched Penny Dreadful on the tellie.  I'll bring them to the festival today.  I won't mind if they don't sell - they are sooo beautiful.  Better get this show on the road.  I have Pavarotti on and he's really stirred the blood.  Fingers crossed for big crowds and happy patrons.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Big Girls

Very wet couple of days.  I have a back log of dyed fiber to dry.  I fed Scarlett and Sue Ellen in the rain this morning.  I sometimes sit down and watch them eat, but not in the rain.  They didn't seem to mind as they are very focused on their meals.  I have fed them the same amount since they were babies - a bucket of slop each morning and night - and look how they have grown.  It's time for them to go to Miss Tammy but with Matt still so crippled and with the trailer hitch broke off my blazer I don't know what to do.  I'm waiting for the other Maggie to come up with a solution.  She always does, sooner or later so I'm not going to worry about it.  I hope in the case of the piggies it is sooner.  I was coming down the hay mow ladder last night and both girls were standing underneath me making loud, primal, pig squeals and screams.  I had fed them their dinner, as I always do, before everyone else so they leave me alone.  Apparently they thought I had gone up there to find something else for them to eat.  I could almost step on their backs, one leg on each pig, and ride around the barn like a circus performer.  They must weigh 4 or 500 pounds each.  They wait for me to come out of the house and try to beat me to the milk room where I mix their slop.  One of these days they are going to break down the milk room door when I'm not home and I'll find them lying on their sides, unable to move, from having consumed all the cracked corn I have.

.  Life on the farm is never dull.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

New Fiber

I just got this fiber back from the carding mill.  John at Frankenmuth in Michigan does such a nice job for me.  This is mostly overdyed black Bluefaced Leicester wool from last year's fleeces blended with colored mohair clipped recently from last year's kids.  Soooo soft and lovely.  I'd like something for myself out of this run I think.

Welcoming Committee

They are always so happy to see me.  Maybe it's the jumbo bag of kitty cookies I haul home with me every day.  I don't care, I know they love me.  They show me their love by keeping the nasty rats from chewing on wires and burning down my barn, and they keep me company.  Thank you Kitties.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014


It's been raining most of the day.  It was a hectic one for me, having overslept until 7:30, which gave me about 20 minutes to mix pig slop, feed/water chickens and ducks, feed the cats and walk the dogs.  Oh, and get myself clean and presentable for school.  Oh, and drink enough coffee to get the wheels in my head turning.  My cell phone alarm went off but I didn't hear it.  Spouse is coming home from the hospital today, after a four day stay during which time they operated on his infected foot and grew cultures to find out what antibiotics would prevent it from coming back.  I've been managing okay on the farm, but it helps to have an extra pair of hands.  This rainy weather certainly makes the grass grow.  The path we take up to the farm is grown over with a thick carpet of clover covered with various grasses and wild flowers.  The sheep have a lush salad available to them and I am thoroughly enjoying it.  Unfortunately, the thistle debacle has raised it's ugly head, and must be dealt with.  I'm hoping spouse will mow them down with his tractor, but I don't know if he can drive it with the foot.  I might have to do it myself.  I have to get those thistles cut before they flower and send seeds hither and yon.   I have two dye pots cooled down filled with Marcellus' (Markie-Mark's) lovely fleece.  His mother was my dearly departed Rambouillet ewe, Miss Mamie, and father, the amiable Zack, a Border Leicester ram.  The fleece is very soft and fills two giant pots, crammed full.  I'm using Jacquard's "Sunflower,"  my favorite yellow.  I'm going to have some lovely wool for fall shows.  All I need is time, plentiful water, my pots, a stove, a washing machine, a drying rack, and sun - lots of glorious sun.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Chicks - Interrupted

Lindsay Parkinson did a good job of ferreting out all the hidden nests in my big barn over the weekend.  I confess I was a bit taken back by the number of eggs she collected, including eggs from under sitting hens.  True, I don't need any more free range chickens - especially the rooster variety.  I will miss watching the moms parade around with their broods, but Lindsay did find something that gives me great delight - a mama duck sitting on a nest!!  With Sue Ellen and Scarlett marauding around the barn looking for eggs to eat I immediately began scheming to protect them.  Lindsay and I constructed a panel barricade in front of mama duck to block  any curious pigs.  If the pigs wanted those eggs nothing would stop them, so I closed the big barn doors.  Last summer was the Summer of Ducks, with yellow ducklings in the barnyard and a couple I hatched myself inside.  I adore my Jemima Puddleducks.  Sure hope this nest results in more fluffy darlings.

First Felt

We've been felting in some of my Studio Art classes.  It's very new and exciting with some apprehension due to complete bafflement over what felting is.   I told them the story of the "first felt" which occurred on Noah's Ark.  The sheep in their stall on the ark shed their wool, peed on it, then stamped on it and then they were standing on a rug.  The kids liked the story except for the pee part.  That was a tad disconcerting for them.  I've made that mistake before when I told them how poor people in the Middle Ages would sell their pee to artists who added it to their paints for more intense colors that stuck to the canvas.  If you didn't have a pot to collect your pee then you were so poor you "did not have a pot to pee in."    Isn't History fascinating?  Back to the wool felt... I showed them a picture of a yurt on the steppes of Asia and told them about the nomadic tribes who have to move when there is no more grass for their sheep to eat and how they make portable houses out of pieces of felted wool stretched over  wooden panels.  It's a bit more work than they are used to, with all the rubbing and more rubbing, but that demonstrates how hard people had to work for shelter.  We have a lot of fun and the soap/water gets our art tables nice and clean. 

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Fiber Kitties

It was a perfect day for washing/dyeing/drying fiber.  What better way to keep busy when friends go home?  While looking for some wool I wanted to give to Kim I found even more lovely black mohair in my storage room.  I washed it dyed it, along with the first white fleece of this season.  What colors?  Teal Green and Pink Orchid Jacquard.  I'm still using dyes purchased least year.  I'm going to try to get away from green, chartreuse,gold, pink and orange but it will be tough.  In the meantime, the kitties don't care what color the fiber is.  They love to lie in the warmth and softness.  I don't mind as they never kick it off the rack, and they look so dreamy and beautiful.

Shearing Day Vittles

What to feed a gang of workers at shearing time?  I figured a giant lasagna would do the trick.  I selfishly added a salad with black olives, spring greens, red peppers, red onions and bleu cheese.  I never know what to feed Kim's kids, Jared and Lindsay, but Mom knows best.  She fed them goodies out of the back of her van all weekend.  Kim brought me goodies, too, as in cat and dog food.  She knows me best, too.

Nailed It!

Wednesday night while I was trying to tidy up here our living area my canning rack slid into the middle of the room.  I had served spouse his dinner as I always do and gone to work in the barn.  I did not know this until the next morning, but he had walked across the room to bring his plate back to the kitchen and stepped firmly on the canning rack.  I cannot quite picture this as it seem to me that it would hit his boot and skid away, but no such luck.  He stepped squarely on a blunt tipped prong sticking up from the circles where you secure the jars.  I had been putting up rhubarb the week before.  He went to work and came home, aching and limping.  By Friday his foot had swollen grotesquely and he was really in a lot of pain.  I knew something was seriously wrong and took him to Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown.  They took him right in and gave him oral meds.  They took an ex-ray to make sure no debris had pushed up into the foot.  He was sent home with prescriptions, no pain meds, just antiobiotics,  and a warning to come back if it got worse.  I was dealing with company and shearing, and had things to do.  Saturday night and the swelling was no better, even worse, and the pain was ridiculous.  He took himself back to the hospital where he is now admitted and the IV drugs they should have given him on Friday administered.  Not happy with Bassett Hospital in Cooperstown.


I had to take down their pen yesterday for shearing the sheep.  Sue Ellen and Scarlett pretty much have the run of the farm anyway.  They go exactly where they want to go because they can.  No pen can keep them in at 400 pounds or so each.  Luckily, they love where they live and stick around the barnyard pretty much, except for walks to their wallows by the hawthorne grove halfway up the hill.  During the shearing, while we all had our duties and were working hard, the girls would show up and walk through the room.  They were very mellow, unless we tried to shoo them out.  We figured we'd be better off if we let them alone and go where they wanted to go.  Good girls, they found a cool spot next to the milk room door to lie down and take a long nap.  We let sleeping pigs lie.

Shearing Day 2014

I have 48 gorgeous fleeces in two giant piles in the barn, thanks to the kindness and generosity of my Canadian pals, the Parkinsons.  I've been anxious to get the wool off the sheep and goats for a few weeks now, but events, and weather, conspired against it.  I cancelled an earlier date due to the long, cold spring we've had this year.  It takes a minimum of six people to shear my flock.  Ahead of time I book the shearer then order in the vaccines, clippers and wormers.    I have to buy the bags and make sure I have food and accomodations for everyone helping me.  Weather report was perfect for this weekend.  If not I would have kept the sheep in to make sure they were dry for the shearer.   The Parkinsons arrived Friday night and slept in Hannah's Celebrity Trailer.  Early Saturday AM we secured the sheep waiting pen with panels and wire.  Kim and Darryl got ALL the sheep in.  I would have loved to do the remaining goats that I didn't get to, but the stealthy critters got away up the hill.  Kim managed to get two hairy goats in with the sheep.  Big Jim Baldwin arrived and we were underway.  Darryl and Jared caught the sheep, one by one and passed them through to Jim.  He sheared the animal then Willie, my student put a lead around it's neck and brought it to me.  Kim scooped up the fleece from the shearing platform and took it out to the skirting table while Lindsay swept off the dirt.  Willie held the sheep while I administered wormers, gave shots, trimmed each hoof, hauling each leg up between my legs and holding it still while I clipped away the excess.  The sheep does not always cooperate with any of this so we have to be on our toes.  It's very physical and very tiring but satisfying.  We worked from nine to three and sheared 48 animals.  Now I have lovely black fleeces to take to Bouckville and white wool to dye lovely colors.  The animals are cool and comfy and walking better with no creepy crawlies in their bellies.  With bare skin going into the summer they are less likely to be afflicted with fly-strike.  They'll have ample time to grow new wool for the coming winter.  I'm pleased with the condition my sheep are in.  90 % of them are FAT and happy.  A couple of old girls are withering like they do, with bones showing. I love the old girls.  Little Cinco, born last May 5, is the youngest and a lamb no longer.  I have some very handsome black wethers who gave me hefty black fleeces.  Shearing day is the culmination of a year's worth of hard work and money invested in the flock.  This very successful and smooth shearing day was not only fun with good friends helping, but very rewarding and gratifying.  I love what I do - it keeps me fit and young.   No sedentary life here.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014


Summer is here.  I wanted to shuck my clothes and wade into the pond with the dogs.  Only someone with a powerful telescope could see me from across the valley.  But I didn't.  I didn't have anything to float on and the thought of mama snapper lying in the mud on the bottom of the pond was at the back of my mind.  Will have to find a truck tire tube for me and Izzy to recline on.  Heaven.  The spring fed pond is cool and clean until the worst dog days of August, and, even then, the pond is cleaner than most.  Oh, I do love the cool weather but we need the heat of summer to grow the hay that gets us through the winter and grows the lovely wool I adore.  Like this beautiful run of my Bluefaced Leicester, combined with some NY State Romney I picked up at Rhinebeck last fall, and my mohair.  The mohair lends strength to the soft wool and makes it perfect for sock yarn.  Don't you hate it when the heels wear out?  Not with this yarn.  I thought I would post it before I take it to Bouckville.  Available at

Monday, June 02, 2014


Warm weather getting even more so.  88 when I left school today.  Rough day at the office.  I work with some really tough kids but I'm tougher.  What it does is really piss me off.   How do I deal with it?  I come home to my farm.  I had to lie down a few minutes when I got home and the doggies didn't mind.  They waited patiently for me to be ready for our walk up the hill to the pond.  It's our afternoon ritual and it really helps me deal with the stress of my job.  The dogs swim in the pond and cool off while I look for goldfish.  Fortunately the Blue Heron that visits us regularly left a few for me to enjoy.  I let the sheep out of the barn yard before we go up the hill and they spread out over the lower hillside.  The pigs head straight for one of their wallows.  Smart girls - they know the concrete floor of the barn is cooler so they head back inside, tip over one of the big hanging water containers (up high so the ducks don't dirty the water) and splash it all over the floor.  Then they mix up some mud from the dirt in the gutter and lie down in it.  I heard crying from the way back and found a yearling goat caught in the fence.  He was not cooperative but I got his horns freed from the wire and off he went.  Since I was back there I spent some time picking up the nylon baling loops from the square bales we used two years ago.  I'm happy to be free of those loops that get wrapped around the sheep and goat hooves so easily.  I saw a clutch of hatchlings following their mom around.  The chickens know just where to lay their eggs so I don't find them.  A month later the babies are hatched and I have a population explosion on my hands.  I have to say the chickens do a good job of keeping the fly population down along with ticks, snakes, etc.  Once dinner was served it was eight pm and time for chores.  By nine thirty or so it was time to go in when I spotted the goat I've been itching to clip.  Beautiful long black mohair - I love my black girls - and very hairy.  I called to spouse can we do one tonight - we've been doing a goat every night or so to make less work for Jim at shearing on Saturday and to give me fiber to work with.  He said oh, alright and I managed to catch her.  A half hour later I had the mohair off, wormed her, and trimmed her hooves.  Poor thing had a length of fencing wire tangled in her back side.  That must have been uncomfortable.  Now she can scratch where it itches and be cool and comfy.  I'm headed for beddie - bye and it will be positively divine to shut this machine down.

Sunday, June 01, 2014


I've been lucky to receive a good bit of rhubarb from friends at school.  I've also picked up a good bit from the little old lady on the roadside, on the way to work. Last Wednesday I spent the better part of  the day washing, chopping and cooking it for canning.  I filled seven quart jars.  I will give most of it to him, as we still have some left from last year.  I used to put strawberries in it but he likes it better plain.  That's the Swede in him coming out.  Every Scandie family in Brooklyn had a little plot of rhubarb in the back yard.
That's where my father grew up after emigrating from Sweden on 50th Street between 7th and 8th Avenue.


The sheep and goats have so much to eat they don't know what to do with themselves.  I'm trying to keep them off the top field so we can turn that into hay.  It gives us a good excuse to hike up there and chase them back down to where they have plenty to eat.  Reba has taken over for Izzy as the main sheep dog.  I say "get them up" and Reba knows what to do.  Their long fleeces undulate as they head down the hill.  I am hopeful for a good hay harvest this year.  Julia, my dairy farmer friend, is on deck with a new tractor and baler.  With all this rain and heat we're looking good.  I figure I need 60 or so round bales to make it through.  Fingers crossed.  My grandmother used to say farmers are the biggest gamblers in the world.  Yes, we are.


These lovely ladies laid themselves down on the lawn behind my tent yesterday at the farmer's market.  It was such a beautiful, delightful, warm, sunny day and I almost joined them.  The market started slow but got quite busy, with several school friends stopping by to visit.  I love when they do that.  Everybody goes home with a bag of soap.  I was able to visit with my market friends Candace and Susanne Farrington, who makes the fabulous shaving cups for me.  One man stopped by to tell me he bought one for his daughter when he brought her to school at Colgate University four years ago and he's STILL shaving with it.  He bought another one to get him through the next few years as he doesn't expect to be back to Hamilton.  Very, very cool indeed.

Dye Jag

I've been shearing the angora goats, one every day or two, for a couple of weeks now.  I didn't shear earlier due to a long, cold , wet spring.  I am the Jewish/Italian mother of the animal world you know.  God forbid they should be chilled.  I did not want to deprive them of their coats.  Big Jim Baldwin is coming next weekend to shear the sheep and I will be thrilled.  The warm weather is upon us and the sheep are panting already, even lying on the cool hay pack on the floor of the barn.  I've been working on the "undesirable" fleeces from last year - the ones that were felted together due to sun and rain - and getting them washed and dyed.  It's no easy task as each lock as to be pulled away from the rug.  Once separated and washed the wool is soft as buttah.  I can get lost in a fleece - it's very meditative to gaze into the locks as I tease open the curls.  I'm doing something so ancient and fundamental - working with my own fiber from the animals I've raised from birth.  The feel, the aroma, the warm sun on my back, the ducks splashing in the water tub, the dogs sleeping around me, the sheep and goats grazing on the hillside next to me, is all so intoxicating.   I'm also trying to use up my supply of dyes.  I had a giant jar of teal green Jacquard dye from Dharma so we are going to have a huge teal run.  Okay with me, I adore the color.  No purple, no pink, just teal...for now.  You never know what I'm going to throw in at the last minute.  Spouse caught Monkey for me and held on to her while I clipped her long locks last night.  She was not happy about it at all, but was clearly enjoying the ability to scratch where it itches.  We did little Comet,.Luke's goat, today.  His coat was the worst, like two solid patches of curls hanging off each side of him, but I managed to pull the locks apart and have it soaking in the wash tub now.  I have more fleeces in the barn to work on, but, with the annual Mother Lode coming in next week, they might have to wait a little longer.  I've found that wool left open to the air does not attract bugs, luckily.  It's the raw wool that is bagged and stored in a dark place that is eaten by the little buggers.  I learned that the hard way.  Soooo, you see piles of raw wool lying everywhere around here.  So much wool, so little time.