Monday, May 14, 2018

Catching Up

Where to begin...  Spring waited until I got back from the road trip out west but then immediately sprang.  So much to do.

The sheep were sheared on Tuesday but they have figured out who is who and barnyard life goes on.  We lost two of the new goslings at a time when I was feeling particularly sensitive about all the sadness that is going on in the world but I was able to use my accumulated spiritual resources, put things into perspective, acknowledge the world's grief, and reset.  I wonder if the animals think they don't have control of what life brings OR do they believe that everything that happens they brought to this life for a reason. 

Yesterday was the 3rd week of the outside farmers market and a very interesting day.  The day started off slowly and then so many interesting people came by to talk about wool and spinning and all sorts of things.  There was a woman visiting from England who told me that many things that get delivered from farmers are wrapped in wool to keep the goods cool.  Then she can send the wool back the next week or put it on her garden as mulch.  Many sheep in England and the English have lots of ingenuity and common sense in my book.  Then there was the woman that has a wolf (3/4 wolf blood).  She has a significant amount of fur from him which she would love to have made into a blanket.  Another woman wants to start spinning again but need to get her wheel from Richmond.  She may bring it over to fashion a new drive belt and see what else it needs.  One woman bought 3 skeins of yarn from Gretta's fleece.  Was she the one that wanted to be added to our spinning group or was that someone else?  Can't remember which story goes with who.  Many interesting conversations and a decent monetary day.

Research continues on natural dyeing so many beautiful pictures should find their way to this blog in the next few weeks.  There are three jars with 3 different lichen soaking in the fiber shed.  They have to ferment for at least 3 months (that will be Fiber Camp in June).  

Spinning, wet felting, and weaving have also taken some of my time lately.  I continue to give Mira her apple cider vinegar most days.  It seems to be helping with her arthritic symptoms.  She didn't like the golden raisins soaked in gin remedy; to sticky. 

The above was written 4 days ago.  Since then Helena hatched out 3 goslings but one went missing the first day.  Now we have 4 adults Sal's gosling that is about 2 +weeks old and Helena's 2.

Sal's gosling is very interested in the little ones.  He is already 4 times bigger than they are.  Hard to remember him being so small.  They all travel  in a group but sometimes Cirrus pecks at the little ones and then Prince steps in.  The older gosling hangs out a lot with Cirrus and one day went after Prince when Prince was going after Cirrus.  That was pretty funny. 

Time to take pictures of the goslings before they are all full grown. Stay tuned.

Friday, April 27, 2018


Donald, Annie, and Little Gray look like they are fast friends in this picture.  It is always interesting to see who makes friends with who and why.  Since Little Gray's mom pushed her out on her own, she has decided to make friends with all the barnyard animals.  The geese, however, harass her whenever they feel like it.  They are especially difficult since the arrival of this years goslings.  Cirrus and Prince won't let anyone get a close look.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018


"AWAY" at Cabin Spring Farm stands for Adventurous Wool Alluring Yarn. The first half of April I was away having a spectacular adventure.

Rosemary and I took a road trip in the green VW Eurovan weekender that I call my greenhouse.  It has been doing close to home travel and hauling for the most part the past year but we decided to take it for a road trip to Tucson Arizona and back.  We packed a spinning wheel, drum carder, drop spindle, hand carders, wet and needle felting supplies, a large pot for dyeing and plenty of wool fleece and alpaca along with all the camping gear.  And of course we took our knitting.  We also took cameras and watercolor supplies.  We used almost everything we took with us.

We carded wool made some felt and dyed it with native plants we found along the way, where we could collect them.  We also spun yarn to add to the dye pot.  We took a 2 hour introduction class on Saori looms in Tucson.  The whole trip was a "Fiber Extravaganza".  But we also took short hikes in the desert, learned to bake bread over coals in a cast iron dutch oven and made pizza inside two enamel plates.  We camped in the desert, in high country along the Rio Grande, and water saturated ground in the midwest, in State and Federal campgrounds for the most part.  We drove through amazing canyons that we were not expecting and also some unexpected snow on the grasslands.

All the while we were traveling, John was taking care of the farm.  Every time I checked in he would report he had the same number of animals he started with.  What an amazing guy I live with.

In case anyone is interested, here are a few pictures of our adventures.

White Sands New Mexico

A morning sunrise in the desert.

Catalina range in Arizona


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Marking Time

On the farm, you know it is Spring when the animals are not as influenced by a can of grain.  They would rather stay out and eat grass.  Yesterday, I had to use 2 days worth of patience because none of the animals wanted to be where I wanted them to be.

Four and a half bales of hay until my road trip.  Rosemary and I are celebrating 50 years of friendship.  We are hoping to take a spinning wheel with us and some fleece.  We want to see what different plants out west are used for dyeing.  We will take a couple large pots to steam over the camp fire while we are roasting marshmallows.  Not your typical vacation but perfect for Rosemary and me.

Most people think that rooster crow at the crack of dawn.  Actually, roosters crow throughout the day and way before dawn.  They are not good markers of time.  The lumber mill is a much better marker of a new day.  They start up at 5:45 week days.

It used to be you could mark time by when flowers and trees bloomed, especially daffodils.  They used to be a first marker of Spring but a few years ago, they bloomed in January and this year it was mid February.  The peach trees are just breaking bud and 2-5 inches of snow are on the way.  At least the temperature shouldn't be damaging.


Sunday, March 11, 2018

"As the Farm Turns"-- "All My Farm Animals"

Some times farming is like a soap opera; lots of drama.  In today's episode, we find someone isn't who we thought they were.

Yesterday, I brought 3 new hens to Cabin Spring Farm.  I waited till dusk to settle them in but Donald and Sister were aroused by the commotion.  Sister started pecking the first one to enter the coop.  John thought maybe she was jealous.  Donald put himself between the two and looked like he had things under control.  The other 2 went in.  There was a little scuffling but then things settled down.

As I approached the coop this morning there was a little more scuffling and when I opened the door, Sister came running out.  A few minutes later Donald came out but when the three Rachels didn't follow he went back in.  I put some grain out for Sister outside the gate and that made her happier.  After finishing the grain she decided to come back to the barnyard but first she stopped on top of the fence and crowed.  Yup, she crowed like a rooster.  Different than Donald's crow; stronger and louder.

Well, I have been telling myself for a month or so that Sister was looking kind of like a rooster.  She had gotten SO large (bigger than Donald) and had a couple of feathers on her tail that were looking like rooster tail feathers.  But no crowing.  Last fall, one of Little Mama's grown up chicks, laid an egg.  The two chicks looked identical until a couple of months ago when the other "sister" disappeared after the dog attack.  We don't usually get eggs in the winter so that didn't give me a clue.

When I told John the news he came up with a new name for Sister.  John is known for his naming capabilities (ha ha).  We now call Sister--- Heshe.  I like it.  It sounds a little Japanese to me.

Heshe spent the day hanging out near the coop but Donald and the 3 Rachels stayed in all day.  At dusk, Heshe waited until the others were settling in for the night and then tiptoed in.  John reminded me that we may get 2-5 inches of snow tonight so tomorrow could get very dramatic.  Stay tuned.

An aside:  The hens are all named Rachel because they were named by a girl named Rachel who wanted to name them after herself.  She and John must be related way back somewhere.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

It Rained All Night

So when I woke up this morning, I dreaded going to feed the animals in the rain and MORE MUD.  A farmer has to be creative because there is always the unexpected or the expected to deal with.  The plan for this morning was taller boots and a wheelbarrow.

Grab the wheelbarrow from the garage/barn, pick up an unopened bale of hay from the hay stack, open the gate and steadily move forward on the grassiest route I could find to the barn.  It all worked incredibly smoothly, like the animals picked up on the plan two paces inside the gate.  They walked in pace along side the wheelbarrow instead of greedily halting my progress for an early bite.  I put the whole bale in the closet without a nudge and then put some in the hay feeders.  Leaving a little in the wheelbarrow, gave the sheep room to spread out, and all were content.

After munching for awhile, Zorra came over for some rubs.  Amelia came for some attention but we haven't really established her favorite sheep to human interaction.  I wanted to check in with Mira to see if I could get a better sense of what is going on with her, but she didn't want to talk about it this morning.  Reminds me of someone I left in the house, who I was checking in with a few minutes earlier.

Gretta was looking out into the rain and we were having a conversation about mud and its positive and negative attributes.  I told her about rainy days in Marin County (about 45 years ago) when I would go to the Mill Valley library and then to a sweet hangout where you could get a hot cup of tea with a splash of brandy.  I would write poetry on paper napkins-- I wonder if any of it was good.

It is funny how what you think is going to be a quick chore of necessity turns out to be a delightful serene visit with good friends.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Out For Dinner

The "after the snow melt" mud was too much tonight so I took the sheep out for dinner.

Everyone likes to go out to dinner but often the food isn't as good as home.  The sheep got both.  I opened the hay gates and let the sheep go help themselves.

This picture was taken a couple of days ago.  It was a fun sight tonite with 9 sheep in with the hay, but once again I didn't have my camera.

Once the sheep decided who was going to stand next to who, they were pretty well behaved and  dinner was peaceful.  I think they all appreciated eating in nice surroundings without squishing in the mud.

Then it was back home for a dessert of organic grain.