Saturday, February 25, 2017

An Important Day

Yesterday was an important day.

I woke up to another beautiful day and said, "I want to go for a ride."  I had been farmbound with a bronchial thing for 3 days.  John said Ok.  He had worked all day, the day before, repairing fences.  So we decided to take the back roads over to Eagle Rock.

These rides are very important.  We are inspired by things we see, this house for sale, for instance.

The  house needs a little work but the location is great.  The James River runs behind the house and there is an easy place to put a kayak in.

Then there are all the ideas we come up with to pay for the Villa in Italy.  Yesterday, John came up with the idea of wire coating, of some kind, for automotive wiring. The idea would be to sell it to high end car manufacturers to offer as a $1000 option (similar to getting  undercoating).  This idea, of course, is to keep mice from chewing through wire and causing thousands worth of damage.  John's dentist bought a new Mercedes or BMW of some kind and the mice destroyed the wiring in no time.  It wasn't covered by warranty because it was not a defect.  I think we would pay for this option for all of our vehicles.  My van has had major issues, John keeps the hood and truck open on the Alfa (sometimes with a baited trap).  He was at the gas station the other day and a dog was barking at his truck.  The guy with the dog said a mouse just ran out from somewhere.

We find new places to show visitors when they come, we haven't had visitors in awhile.  We often have lunch somewhere along the ride.  Yesterday we went to Maw and Paw's in Eagle Rock.  What a busy place and the daily special was meatloaf.  Does it get any better? The one thing I don't like about M&P's is that on the bathroom doors it says Maw's room  and Paw's room.  This has always been one of my pet peeves.  In New England the doors say Buoys and Gulls.  What if you were finally old enough to go to the bathroom by yourself and this is what you found. Not the kind of thing you want to figure out when you really have to go.

Besides the ride, and all the thoughts it provoked, it was an import day because I talked to one of my sisters.  Gail is living with the word "patience" this year.  When I was putting everyone in for the night, after hanging out for an hour or so, I thought about Gail.  I wondered if holding a gate open,  for a chicken that couldn't decide if it wanted to come in, or waiting for a chicken, standing in the doorway to the coop thinking about if he/she was really ready to call it a day, would help teach her patience or drive her insane.  The act teaches me more than patience.  The chickens do so much for me.  When I had no energy to do my morning chores, John let everyone out and gave the sheep some hay and the chickens freshened up the goose run.  I didn't discover this wonderful gift until I was getting ready to put the geese in for the night.  I thought maybe John had been the one but I could tell by the way it looked, it was the chickens.  They had spent a lot of time cleaning up and it looked beautiful.

As I walked back up to the house at dusk, I thought, "what a gentle place" (not the farm but that place where I was right then).  Most people would have used peaceful when they took that breath, but the word that came to my mind was definitely "gentle".  I didn't think too long on what that meant because by that time I had exhausted my mental quota for that day.  I just new it was an important day.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

This Week at Cabin Spring Farm

The week started out with a romantic getaway for Valentine's Day.  John and I went to Durham NC.  The animals love it when we go away for holidays because our farm sitter gives them treats for the holidays.

 People around here think Durham is a strange place to go for a romantic getaway but for us it was perfect.  It is only a 3 1/2 hour drive with NO interstates.  We have taken Rt 501 many times to Lynchburg VA, but never beyond that.  It crosses over the Blue Ridge Mountains, going along the James River for a stretch. Beyond Lynchburg it is flatter and straighter and passes through a few small towns, before arriving in Durham, 501 all the way.

We went to the Sarah P. Duke Botanical Garden on the Duke campus on Monday and the University of NC Botanical Garden on Valentine's Day, which is at Chapel Hill.  You know your husband loves you when you visit 2 gardens in 2 days.  And we went to see Chris Rock at the Durham Performing Arts Center.

I took many pictures of the gardens but I wish I had pictures of the the critters the last couple of days, here on the morning rounds.  One day there was a bright red cardinal eating with the chickens.  The chickens go up to the bird feeder, most days, to check for spilled seed, so on the day the bird feeder was empty, the cardinal went to see if the chickens had anything to share, they did. The next day Penelope stepped through the ice in the puddle pond and trudged on across like an icebreaker on the bays.

We went over to Karen and Jame's house and out to dinner with them to catch up.  They have 3 boarders (2 donkeys and a bull) and 3 new chickens that just showed up one day, and the first kid of the season.  Karen didn't even want to count how many critters there are in current residence.

Today, one of my students came over with her mom to help get the fiber studio and dying garden looking good for the season.   Five students are coming for a "no school" fiber day Monday.

Later today, a couple and their baby came for a farm tour.  They were on a getaway from Northern Virginia where they are intelligence analysts for the government.  They kept saying how quiet and peaceful it is here.  They said they could see a farm in their future.  I was glad I was able to reciprocate a pleasant getaway  destination for them.  Reciprocity,-- saying yes when someone calls on short notice and wants to come out to visit a sheep farm.  Providing for complete strangers, what gardens in NC had provided for me.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Boundary Layer

The Boundary Layer is a good place to spend the winter.  Maybe that is why the sheep seem to lay down more in the winter.  The interface between atmosphere and the earth is how Robin Wall Kimmerer describes it.

Basically it is just about how there are many layers of air flow rather than just the same kind of air everywhere above the earth.  All kite flyers know it takes a lot of running to get your kite to the right level to take off, on a still day.  The "boundary level" is the first level above the earth's surface or a leaf's surface.  That is where moss lives and where there is always a little moisture.

One of my rain barrels drips ever so slightly.  The chickens know this, so when they are thirsty they go over and try to find a drop in the spicket.  If that doesn't work, there is always moist leaves or grass there because it isn't as subject to evaporation as a drop at a higher altitude.

The other day, I was sitting/laying in the "boundary layer" while all the critters were out grazing below the driveway.  It was delightful there but it wasn't an exceptionally cold day.  It was interesting when all the sheep decided to go over to the cabin lawn and ran right past me.  I completely trusted them not to run over me and they gave me plenty of space.

It is extremely windy today so I think I will go check out the difference in the "boundary layer" when I go to feed the animals.

When I used to live by the ocean,  in New England, I was alway intrigued by the interface between land and sea.  I spent a lot of time in that space and thought about it quite a bit.  I was even going to write a book about that place (remember Jane?)

I would like to suggest to all my friends and family in New England today, where they are getting over a foot of snow, ......  make snow angels in the "boundary layer"

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Reciprocity-- January

As I have thought of Reciprocity this month, I have engaged in a deeper way of seeing things.  What are the gifts that each living thing processes?  Do we give of what we have?  Maybe, if we don't know what we have.  If we do according to what we know we have, is it reciprocity or a gift?  I think reciprocity, is by nature, unconscious.  This may be harder than I thought.

January has come and almost gone.  For the most part it has been a mild month (except for January 11th and thereabouts).  The trough, buckets, tub and puddle pond have had little ice, unlike December and early January.  I bought a new heater for the trough to be ready for the next cold spell, maybe that brought the milder weather.

The chickens were not particularly anxious to come out this morning.  It is nice that it isn't just me that has a hard time getting going some winter mornings.  It is not so much the cold for me, as it is the dark.  Why is it lighter and lighter every evening around 5:00 but still dark in the morning?

Tuesday is Ground Hogs Day.  I have been seeing more hills and mounds erupting and I've been seeing, and especially smelling skunk so there is a stirring of Spring.

 The sheep look BEAUTIFUL; few briers and not too much hay in the fleece.  I wish it was time to shear them now.  Part of it is, they eat hay off each other.  Is that an example of reciprocity, a simple act of kindness, or just satisfying hunger?

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

A Good Goose Story

My friend Karen sent me a story today.   When you have animals and people read stories about those animals they send the stories along.  This is a good one.  k

 a>> Officer James Givens has served with the Cincinnati Police Department for over 26 years, but has never quite experienced anything like this before.
>> He was sitting in his patrol car in a parking lot when he got an unexpected visitor.
>> A goose came up to his car and started pecking on the side of it.
>> He threw food out for her, thinking that's what she wanted, but she didn't take it.
>> She continued to peck and quack, then walked away, stopped, and looked back at Officer Givens.
>> Then she came back to his car and pecked at it again.   She made it very obvious that she wanted Officer Givens to follow her, so he finally got out of his car and did just that.
>> The goose led him 100 yard away to a grassy area near a creek.  Sitting there was one of her babies, tangled up in a balloon string.  The baby was kicking its feet, desperate for help.
>> Being wary of helping the baby on his own, and worried that the goose might attack him, Givens called for help from the SPCA, but no wildlife rescuers were available at the moment.
>> Luckily, Given's colleague, Officer Cecilia Charron, came to help.  She began to untangle the baby, and the mother goose just stood there and watched, quacking.  She didn't become aggressive, and just let Officer Charron do what she had to do to set the baby free.
>> It was like the mother goose knew they were helping.  Once Charron untangled the baby, she put it down and it ran right to her mom, and they went right to swimming in the creek.
>> Charron teared up and said it was the highlight of her 24 years on the force.
>> "It seems like something made up.  It was just incredible," Givens said.  "I honestly don't know why I decided to follow her, but I did.  It makes me wonder – do they know to turn to humans when they need help?"
>> We may never know the answer to this question, but what we do know is that Officer Givens was in the right place at the right time to help these geese!
>> Life is precious.
>> A great story with a good ending.

Why wouldn't animals turn to humans if they trusted them.  And I guess in a situation like this; if you were desperate, you would take a chance.   

Most, if not all, animals are smarter than most people give them credit for.  At least that's how I see it living with 17 animals that I care for.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Dealing with Early MUD

If you don't have a barnyard, I guess we have been having some pretty nice weather the last few days; misty, foggy,  rainy and mild. When I drive into town, everything looks green and fine.

Cabin Spring Farm, on the other hand, is having spring mud in the winter.  The ground is totally saturated and every footprint is a tiny pond.  It takes a lot of focus and extra time to plan your approach to the barn or goose run.

  The extra straw I put down last week and this week, has sunk down int the mud.  Now, I am trying leaves.  The wheelbarrow full I put down yesterday, seems to have dried out a bit, so today I collected  and put down a trailer full.  I will have to put down some more tomorrow because Sunday night into Monday morning could bring another 2".

In other news,  I purled a row in my friend's pink pussy hat.  She went to D.C. this morning on a bus leaving at 5:15, I think it was.  She sent me a link to an article that was about how all the yarn shops in America are out of pink yarn.  After watching the Womens' March on Washington today, I can believe it.  The pink sheep of America will have to be sheared early this year to fill the deficit.

Thursday, January 12, 2017


Before I forget, many have asked about how the couch turned out.  Reading Karen's blog, reminded me I needed to post pictures I took when we were over to Lyndy's house last week.  It looks especially good with Lyndy's accent pillows and the color of the couch is great.

Lyndy can store the cushions for extending the couch to a bed, under the couch.  Unfortunately, we haven't figured out the base for the extension yet.

Here is the couch without the cushions stored.

The best part is, the couch is super comfortable.  And John can lounge on it while Lyndy swings in her hammock.  Now Lyndy could sleep 4 if she needed to.