Friday, September 15, 2017


to our own Izzy P.
who, as you can see
from the photo, did very well at the Rockbridge county fair.  Way to go
Izzy!  Next year I would encourage other campers from FARRR AWAY fiber camp at Cabin Spring Farm to enter their creations.

Annie's fleece placed 1st in Natural Colored sheep and Rosa's fleece placed 3rd.

A good year for Cabin Spring Farm.

I also entered pie pumpkins from the hugel.  They received a blue ribbon as well.

The bird house with the woven walls and felted roof won a red ribbon.

John took pictures of all but I need to transfer them from his computer.  The USB ports on my computer are not functioning well.

A friend and I demonstrated spinning and weaving for the fair last week and tomorrow it is off to Rockbridge Fall Farm Day.  It is a very busy time of year in the Fiber World.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

No Big Deal?

My friend Kris told me she was going to watch the eclipse with her horse.  Animals often have an interesting reaction to such phenomena, so I thought we should have an eclipse party in the barnyard.
I read that some native americans observe the eclipse by staying inside quiet (but not napping), fasting, and just generally paying respect.

Just before the beginning time, I took my recycling to our recycling center.  My buddy was there and we were talking about the eclipse.  He told me an old farmer was in earlier with a story about the 1979 eclipse.  The farmer said his cattle went crazy and were going in circles.  I was getting excited about what might transpire in the next 3 hours.

 Here is what the animals did, here.  The sheep hung out in the barn with no noticeable reaction,  The geese were out and about with a similar reaction, and when it got, not dark but eire blueish grey, a couple of the chickens that were there for the party, got quiet and roosted outside for a little while.
Maybe the sheep were just paying respect.

I thought 88.8% would be a little darker than it was.  I wonder if the 1979 eclipse was a total eclipse in our area. I have not yet talked to Kris to compare stories; maybe her horse got a little more excited.
I thought it was cool but not "life changing".  I guess it really makes a difference with a total eclipse.

Friday, August 18, 2017

A Few Days Ago

Well, I have done it again; made it through half of a month without blogging.

 Now that Helena has recovered, she comes up to me and looks at me with her sweet eyes as if to say, "hi, my good friend, how are you".  She ran when she saw me, when she was recovering.  And then the same thing started showing in Rachel (the drunkin walk).  Now
then I had to think it was something causing the walk that lead to Helena's other injuries.  I talked to my practitioner again and she suggested a deficiency of some kind.  When I asked my feed specialists, they said- niacin.  It turns out that chickens can eat waterfowl food but waterfowl can't get enough niacin in chicken feed since chickens don't need as much niacin.  So now we know.  Low niacin apparently effects different individuals differently, There wasn't a problem in the last two years.  Since we caught Rachael early, she didn't have the severeness that Helena did.

In other news, the sheep are enjoying a cool day after 3 or 4 hot ones.  Pumpkins are taking over the hugels.

 The 2 chicks are much bigger than mom and can fly over the fence.  They still don't mingle with Donald, Red, and Black much.  Red doesn't like them and will block their entry to the coop at night if she goes in first.  They have learned to try to get in first but occasionally I have to offer an alternate solution.

Headed over to the fiber shed for the afternoon since finally it isn't too hot.  I made a 2 liter bottle air compressor but I am not sure it helps that much.  When I was scrummaging through a nearly empty recycling bin with our recycling attendant we had a hard time coming up with 16 2 liter bottles.  The ones we did find were tonic or seltzer (except for a couple).  We were both surprised we didn't find more Coke and other diet sodas.  He then theorized that soda drinkers probably don't recycle. Hmm .

Monday, July 31, 2017

Helena is Recovering Again

A few days after I graduated from college, I was hiking in the Rocky Mountains and sprained my right ankle, jumping a creek.  Just about the time it was finally feeling good again, I re-injured it walking out on a jetty of loose rocks, out into the Pacific Ocean.  I don't remember how many times I had relapses but I think it took the entire summer for it to heal completely.

That is what the entire month of July has been for Helena, one of this years goslings.  It has been exhausting for both of us.  Since Helena is a farm goose, not a show goose or a golden goose, it was up to us (Helena and me) to figure out what to do for her.  First, we had to google "bandaging a wing" (that actually went pretty well), then it was weakness after the next injury.  We gave apple cider vinegar in her water and an essential oil (lavender) on the bottom of her feet.  A few days later she looked great.  After the next injury, her neck was compressed.  That is when we started physical therapy.  I would hold her in a slightly inclined forward position so gravity could help the neck release.  I would support her jaw and hold ever so gently while she let go.  That seemed to help but when we stopped, her neck would return to the compressed position.  Next, I called my osteopathic practitioner for a consult.  She said she thought there might be nerves involved, and suggested I spritz Helena with a low dose Homeopathic Hypericum solution. Amazingly, I had a 6x Hypericum in my collection of remedies.  I also put a few drops in her drinking water.  A couple of days later, she looked a little better.

All the time the treatment has been going on, I have to keep her in a safe place and give her maximum time with her buddies.  It has been quite interesting watching how the others have been with her; calling her, staying by her side, dad watching over physical therapy, all of them hissing at me when I pick Helena up but not intruding. Gretta, the sheep, has been hanging closer than usual but more out of the way.  The geese don't mind the extra grain involved. I have had to keep hiding the grain when I want to just give it to Helena; under a towel, under my shirt, in a bucket... but the geese catch on quickly and follow me about getting under foot.

One would think that with all the time Helena and I have spent together, we would be good buddies.  Not the case.  She runs when she sees me coming.  She settles down while on my lap but doesn't like to stay long.  As she has gotten better, she resists her exercises but gets more stretching because she is able to do more each day.  Her balance is better and she can take baths again and preen herself.

So what is the lesson in all of this?  I am not sure for Helena but for me it is this:  Life is fragile.  Animals and People all around me have cares and struggles.  We all need to take care of each other in the big times and the little times.  Love and patience for all!   Another form of reciprocity.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Peaches, Pumpkins, and Pretty Flowers

Peaches on porches and pumpkins on hugels,
da da da da da da, da da da da da,
................ ............
 these are a few of my favorites things.

Wow, what a year for peaches.  We ate them fresh many ways, gave some away, froze a few and then when I was ready to pick the remainder--- they had suddenly vanished.  There must have been a tremendous party that night, with all animals within a 2 mile surrounding area, invited.  There are still very small peaches on a younger tree that we are hoping will ripen to some degree.

The hugels look fabulous covered with pumpkin plants.


When I lived on Cape Cod, I was a persistent vegetable gardener.  Every Spring I would plant a large garden in sandy soil with whatever soil amendments I could come by.  Unfortunately, on the Cape the temperatures needed to grow tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins and such, didn't arrive until after the 4th of July so the growing season was much shorter than recommended on seed packets.  If there wasn't an early frost in the fall, you could get some winter squash and pumpkins but tomatoes were iffy, at least for me.  The only thing you could really count on was PEAS.  Finally, after many disappointing years, I decided to name the year after what one or two plants did well.  One year, it was the year of winter squash, another, the year of comfrey.  There was one year that was actually the year of sunflowers.

This year is the year of Peaches, Pumpkins, and Pretty flowers.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Heat and Injuries Are Draining

Well, lets see.  First there was the July 4th weekend, then a sisters' trip, then extra caring time for an injured gosling.  Things have been out of sync since my return but now I am writing again.

Helena, the gosling, hurt her wing, initially, but she recovered mostly after we bandaged her up.  Then she removed the bandage but looked fine.  This morning we were awoken by the geese squawking so I went down to see what the fuss was.  Helena, was sitting in a corner of the run, injured again.  I think it was one of those "I feel better so I will go out and get in trouble again" things.  This time it seems to be more her leg or .......... ???  No one will tell me what happened so I just have to come up with a theory and treat accordingly.

The heat isn't much help, either.  The big accomplishment, today, was cleaning out the refrigerator.   I also fulled some yarn and needle felted most of a box turtle for a friend at camp.  I guess it is going to be in the 90's for a couple more days so I will have to continue projects in the house.  I picked up my summer knitting again, yesterday.  I have also been spinning in the house instead of the Hot fiber studio.  Most of the outside projects have been put on hold.  I do try to slip something in when I first get up if it is still cool.  I am SO glad that the nights cool off substantially unlike some places I know.

Most of the time, the animals take care of themselves and I have very little that I have to do for them. Heat and injuries are draining for all of us, though. Today, John suggested going away for a month in the summer.  That sounded good to me.  Maybe we will try it next year, there are only 5 or 6 more weeks of summer left this year.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Special Treatment

I keep the barn, barnyard, goose run and chicken coop kept up much better than my house.  I think one reason is because the animals do so much for me and they like it when I come visit and give them special treatment. Another reason, perhaps, is that they don't create so much clutter.

 Cirrus is a collector, though.  He finds things and puts them in his tub or elsewhere around the goose run.  Yesterday when I cleaned out the tub, however, there was nothing but the regular collection of feathers and green stuff.  When the tub was clean and I was putting my attention elsewhere, I heard splashing coming from the tub.  I thought I'd go watch Cirrus enjoy the refreshment but what I found was all 4 goslings having so much fun, with Cirrus standing on the step trying to figure out how he could go in.  All three adults, initially, looked like they were glad the goslings were enjoying themselves but then they just left the run when their turns didn't come.

Now, John likes it when I come in and see him and he loves special treatment. He does SO much for me, but still the house is cluttered and the floor doesn't get swept more than the barn gets raked.  Maybe if we lived in a house with a dirt floor....

Little mama made the chicks roost on the perch last night.  They have been enjoying sleeping in one of the nesting boxes with mama.  They looked too small to be balancing on a big perch but, I guess, mamma knows best.  They are so funny to watch when they come up to the barn to get a drink, first thing in the morning.  They go together and synchronize their dip and swallow.

Sometimes I let the geese come out of the barnyard, for special treatment.  Yesterday, I let John herd them back in and he did a great job!  I think he will do a fine job watching the animals when I go to see my sisters for a few days.  That is special for me.