Monday, June 26, 2017

Snakes and Boats

Let's see, June is almost over so I guess I better catch up on what has been going on here.

 The highlight of Fiber Camp was the snake in one of the drawers.  It was just a 2'+ black snake.  No problem except for the initial shock (to the campers and the snake).  One of them just put it out of the fiber studio.  It was the week before Father's Day so many of the campers were making something for their dads.

I like this kayak that was needle felted.  

We have had lots of rain and a beautiful spring.  It was hot the week of fiber camp but we didn't notice too much.

The first day of summer, John and I went to see the batteaues travel down the James River.  They start in Lynchburg and go all the way to Richmond, taking several days.  

We saw them in Scottsville. 

 I have always loved boats.  I loved living on a boat for a year but I had a few more amenities.  The batteau carried cargo down river, back in the day.  No motor, just oars and poles. 

I often think about the woman I met that had Finn sheep in Finland.  In the summer, they would go on a boat to an island where they would spend the summer grazing.  Her sheep looked forward to the ride and easily boarded the boat.  I wonder what the sheep here would think of taking a ride on a bateau.  I think they might like it, at least some of them.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Danger Lurks

Yesterday morning I took my camera down to the barnyard incase there was anything I should photograph.  I set the camera on the post with my glass of water when I opened the gate.  I proceeded to the coop to let the chickens out.  I opened the front door because the new baby chick ramp gets in the way for Donald.  Donald hopped out and so did Little Mama and one of the chicks.  Then the mama hopped back into the coop and Little Black 1 or 2 flapped it tiny wings and hopped back up.  So cute, and the camera was still on the fence post.  Then I took this.  Not quite as exciting.

 Watching baby chicks is like watching any baby; an hour later you wonder how it got so late.  Now that they are out of the coop, they are all over the place but Little Mama keeps them on the fringe so they are safe.

At the end of the day, when the chickens were in, I was dumping and filling a water bucket in the goose run for the geese.  A small black bird spilled out, drowned.  I didn't know if it was one of the chicks.  They had been in the run earlier in the day so I knew it was a place they went.  They could have hopped up on the rim and fallen in.  They sleep under the mama at night so I couldn't check.  What were the odds that another baby black bird the same size, would end up there?  Something didn't look quite right but I went to bed not sure.  

I was so happy to be greeted by two baby black chicks this morning.  The difference that I was sensing was the chubby legs on a baby chick.  The dead bird had thinner legs.  

But it was some mother's baby, still sad.  How did it end up there?  John and I were talking last night, wondering what feelings animals have for loss.  

Early this morning, John was woken up by something moving furniture on the back deck.  A few minutes later he saw a bear out his window.  By this time, I was awake too and saw the smallish black bear right next to the house.  Funny thing was, John had been up, so he opened the front door to let the cool morning air in.  He jumped up and went to close it.  He has a fear of bears walking into the house.  A little while later,  I saw a hawk glide by the grape arbor.  Bears have a lot to eat right now and soon there will be an abundance of berries.  Do they eat rabbits, I wonder?  Seems like I see new rabbits every week.

We have to trust that all the animals living here know what to do when danger lurks because we sure don't.  Sometime, we yell but I don't know how much that really helps.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Little Cuties

Time to finally let everyone see the new chicks.

And A wonderful pose from the new mama.

The goslings have reached that funny stage where they are half fluff and half tiny feathers.

The chicks and the female goslings still have no names because I can't tell them apart, also I don't know the sex of the chicks yet.  We usually don't name the chickens.  One we call black, one red,  one Little Mama, and the Rooster has an actual name, Donald.  So maybe we should call the new chicks Little Black 1 and Little Black 2.  The male gosling (on the left above) I named Aldo after Aldo Leopold.  Did I mention that already?  I didn't look back at the last blogs.  I should when I blog infrequently now.  Oh well.

Summer Fiber Camp started today, so of course we went down to see the animals,  I asked the kids if they could tell the three girls apart and one young boy said yes, one had grass on its bill.  I told them they could name them if they could find a way to tell them apart.  Another camper suggested dyeing them blue, green, and red.  Oh boy.

I made it through the first day of Fiber Camp without remembering to take pictures again, and the camera was in my pocket.  Just shows how intent we are on what we are doing.  Nine kids today and 4 were boys.  Biggest percentage of boys yet.  It was a good day.

Friday, May 26, 2017


The person who started making corn cob dolls most certainly had chickens.  We try to give the chickens a lot of food scraps.  There favorite are corn cobs, strawberries, and melons.  Donald always let the girls start eating first.  If it is strawberries, he might not get any.  What a polite guy.  He is rewarded by having three gals who love him.

The Chickens are alway offering to help me create new beds, and then keep the soil loose.  So after I plant the seed, I immediately, put a screen over the area.  I love to adorn the planting beds with my treasures from the sea.  John doesn't appreciate stones and sea brick and tile around fruit trees and other areas where he mows but he loves these beds.  This is much better than rows and popsicle sticks.  It makes my heart happy just looking at this picture.

Sometimes it is not so bad not remembering things.  I had forgotten there was Love-In-The Mist planted in this bed last year.  It reseeded itself nicely.  Good thing I didn't get out there and dig up the area too soon.  Ah, the rewards of not getting to something. 

 We have had a week of rain and soggy ground and a sloppy barn and barnyard.  Usually, with a lot of rain, we get beautiful rainbows for a reward.  Actually, many times the rain is the reward.  But this week we have had MUCHO rain and no rainbows.  This time, our reward came before enduring a week of rain.  A magnificent sunset.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Not This Time

Last Saturday, two young women came out to visit the farm; to meet the animals and play with wool.

Friday, I was cleaning the goose run and decided to dig down under the nest and remove any eggs that remained there.  It was like harvesting potatoes.  To my amazement there were 9 eggs deep under the nest.  I showed the eggs I had harvested, to the Saturday visitors.  One asked how geese decide how many eggs to sit on.  She wondered if it was determined by how many goslings the goose thought she could keep under control.  I told her she would have to ask Sal.  I also told her it took all 3 adult geese to keep the goslings under control some of the time.

I tried to get the girls to take the goose eggs.  I don't want to throw them in the compost or woods here because then some animal might come closer looking for more.  At this point, I don't want to eat them, not this time, though some say they don't go bad.  Unfortunately, they couldn't think of a reason they should take the eggs.

Up at the fiber studio, we all three had fun spinning wool and felting some small balls.  One of the girls, has sisters that knit.  She said they like knitting on really big needles.  I have been wanting to try that here with some roving or super chunky yarn.  One of the campers at Spring break, was plying some commercial yarns together.  I was thinking that, since plying is easier than spinning, maybe some of the students that have trouble learning to spin, could try plying first. Then maybe we could spin some 4 ply yarns and knit with them, or weave.  Always fun to try knew things.

Then came Mothers Day.  There are eight mothers residing at Cabin Spring Farm.  Little Mama, the only broody chicken here is sitting on eggs again.

Maybe this time she will make it the whole term again.  She was sitting a few weeks ago but one of the eggs broke and made a mess of everything.  A friend told me that I should always candle the eggs because if they are not fertile and they get warm under a broody hen they can explode.  Now I know.

Sal is the mother here that deserved the day off, Sunday.  Her four little ones are so busy.  It could have been 13, but not this time.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival 2017

The day before I went to Maryland Sheep and Wool, the sheep decided to escape from the barnyard.  I was gone maybe 2 1/2 hrs. I wonder, how much of the time I was gone, were they out?  Don't know how they did it ( I must have left the gate ajar) but it was wide open when I got home.  It is a very strange feeling coming up the driveway and seeing all animals out and about.

It was especially disconcerting since I was leaving Saturday morning and John wasn't returning from Ohio until Saturday evening.  Had Gretta figured out how to open the gate?  Would they leave the property?

I double checked the gate and headed off for the annual sheep  festival to see what was new in the fiber world.  Not much.  Couldn't find any new 3D printer equipment.  Couldn't even find any natural dyes.  Just a lot of yarn.  Oh yeah, and some brown Finn fleece for $40/lb. for the unwashed fleece.  Wonder if they sold any.  I did buy a couple of springs for spinning wheels and a couple of small dye plants.

The best part of the whole trip, was camping in the beautiful Greenbriar State Park and waking up looking up at trees surrounding me.  I tried to figure out how I could capture the scene of upside-down trees with watercolor or wet felt.  I had some superb inspirations of new things to try in my fiber studio but not inspired from anything I saw at the festival.  John sent a text--A O.K.

The weather was cool and rainy most of the time I was gone, but the rain wasn't too hard and didn't really interfere with anything except maybe the comfort of the outside vendors.

I think next year I will check out the workshops earlier before they fill up.  There were a couple I might have enjoyed.

Back at the farm, it was a beautiful late afternoon but I needed a nap first in order to enjoy it.  Not sure if the animals noticed I was gone -- they seemed content when I went to say hi.  The one thing I alway notice at the Maryland Sheep and Wool is that few of the sheep there seem to have much personality.  Some seem to enjoy visitors stopping by to say hi, but most seem to be just there until it is time to go home.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Goslings Have Arrived 2017

Here they are, pretty amazing.  They hatched May Day or at least 3 of the 4 did.  And already they have been swimming,  gone out with the sheep and over to the cabin and up the driveway.  They are getting better at following but it seems like every time the adults move, there is always at least one that is eating and not paying attention and then has to figure out how to get where the others are.

Tonight, it is raining and when I went down, THEY WERE ALL IN THE GOOSE RUN.

Earlier, when all the animals were out and about, I was sitting and pulling leaves off some peach and cherry branches I had pruned, to use for dyeing.  What a peaceful, beautiful afternoon. This was after I had walked 3 miles, ran some errands, pruned a shrub and two trees, weedwacked, and mowed part of the lawn.  I guess it has been a busy day for all at Cabin Spring Farm.