Sunday, November 12, 2017

What You Need is Almost Always Available and Often a Stones Throw Away

That's a long title!  The latest need here was to improve the ground the animals walk on.

After a week of rain the ground was saturated and MUDDY!!!  Then the temperature dropped to the teens and we had frozen ruts, both uncomfortable to walk on.  I think I finally realized last year, that putting down a layer of straw, helps (I will have to look that up).  The good news is: this year, after a few loads of leaves went to the hugel, I realized they could be of better use laid down where the animals stand the most.  And they are so beautiful to look at.  I will try to take a picture tomorrow.

One of the things I like about this time of year is that all the animals settle down early.  Last evening though,  I couldn't find Donald or Black when it was time to close the coop.  I looked a long time for them and it got dark.  It was only when I went in the garage/barn to turn off the light, that I found them in one of Black's favorite places; by the door in the garage/barn.  The reason I didn't look there was because the doors were closed all day since just after feeding the chickens.  That meant that they were both closed up in there All day.  Looking back, I thought it was funny that I hadn't seen them all day.

The next thing I need to figure out is how to get the mud out from between the two hoof parts of the sheep.  They won't let me just walk up to them and plop it out.  I do have to trim hoofs soon but the mud is a reoccurring problem (more often than hoofs).  I thought it would be nice to have a heated pan with warm water that they could walk through.  Even better would be a heated cement trough they could walk through that would also file their hoofs at the same time.  So, if what I need is available and a stones throw away.......... what is it?   I will consult with Henry tomorrow.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Why Do Geese Like To Harass Sheep?

sound like the beginning of a riddle or joke.  The mission of this blog has always been to document what is happening on the farm for future reference.

Last winter, I discovered the best order of morning chores and feeding; put out feed for the chickens, hay for the sheep, clean and fill water buckets, check level of free choice minerals, rake the barn, and then anything else I can think of, before I let the geese out.  This gives the sheep a little peace as they eat their morning hay.

I learned to embrace the time that it takes the sheep to eat, as an opportunity to meditate or take in the beauty of the morning and notice what was special about each day.  Yesterday morning, I was running late so I let the geese out before the sheep were finished eating.  They immediately went down to harass the sheep at the hay feeders.  The sheep would leave one feeder and go to the other and the geese would follow.  I drove out the driveway wondering if the sheep were going to get fed up and run over the geese, an awful feeling.  Fortunately, the sheep just tolerated the geese.  It is actually funny to watch the geese look to see which sheep is where because they know which ones will just carry on with what they are doing.  They will leave those alone and seek out the ones they know will take off.  I hope this harassment will transfer to unwanted predators.  They are guard geese, that is their job.  If they do their job, I guess we will all just have to tolerate their behavior.

My job is to get myself out of bed with enough time to go down and enjoy my morning meditation.  How long will it take me to realize that that one small action will add so much enjoyment to my day.

Transitions times have always been difficult for me,  especially fall.  At least it is light in the morning now when I start my day and start to feed hay.  

Monday, October 30, 2017

Gramma Meister

John's mom was such an inspiration and great fun to be around when she would come to visit us or when we visited her.  Gwen died last week at the age of 94.

Grama, as we called her, Focused on ALL things positive.  Her life was filled with joy.  She shared joy with anyone who would take it.  It is funny to think that one of her few worries, was that she might be a burden to any of her family or friends.  She was far from that. Everyone loved to be with her and help her in any small way they could.  But perhaps she meant in the future as she aged.

Grama had a minor fall which resulted in a broken bone.  Surgery went well but a few days later her heart suggested it was time to move on, and so she did.  We all thought she was beginning a new chapter in her life, she decided it was time to begin a new book.

Though she is gone from this earth, she still warms many here with her countless quilts and nourishes with recipes passed down.  Most of all, her faith and wisdom will be remembered and cherished.

When we met her friends at the church service, they would say, "oh, you are the one with the tiny house, or you are the one with the animals, or you are the one with the beautiful great grandchild/ren, or the many cars, or .................... "  Gwen had stories she told to all her friends.  And in return we would say, "you are the one/s she played bridge with, or you are the one that took her to appointments, or you are the one/s that visited her every time she had a set back, or the one who did the yard work, or brought in the mail, or ....................  The ones, beyond Craig and Shelley, who made it possible for her to live at home.  It is always good to put a face to the stories.

The picture boards at the service showed a loving wife, a caring mother, grandmother, great grandmother, and an adventurous soul (even a picture of her in her eighties on rollerblades).

There were sad times of course, but laughter, love, family/friends, and an ever present God, were forefront in her long life.  There will always be a smile on the face of anyone who is remembering her.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Pumpkins, Colors, and Family

The pumpkins in the mud hall are reducing in number, family came and left, and the colors keep changing.

I picked over 30 pumpkins from the hugels.  Most of them have been hanging out in the mud hall and one by one going off with friends and family or feeding those who visit through pie and muffins.  I wrote a story about the pumpkins on the hugel and the free range chickens.  It is basically a story about reciprocity, caring, adventure, volunteering and all the things pumpkins do when they grow up.
I hope to have it published for next year's Pumpkin Walk at Boxerwood.

Judy and Randy stopped by on their way to D.C. and the Smithsonian. Jan and Don stopped by on their way home from Delaware.  The two visits overlapped and we had wonderful conversation, plenty of laughs and I learned so much about the outside world (outside the farm world).

I have been taking in all the Color I can.  It seems to be a bad year for fall foliage but subtle is good and I think things are later than usual this year.  I want to dye with new plants and barks and lichen and mushrooms.  So much to do but my new apprentice is helping.

Henry is only 9 but I think he is a wizard.  We were looking at a future land project and were admiring the milkweed pods just opening when we came up with a brilliant idea.  Milkweed seed is carried by a wonderful downy fluff that was once used for stuffing in jackets (think down substitute). It has some of the qualities of silk,

so our brilliant idea was to blend the milkweed fluff with wool.  Henry carded the fluff and wool and some silk and wool and I spun both.  The next step is to knit  or weave a sample of each and do a survey to see what people think.

Cathy and I have just started taking Cabin Spring Farm Yarn and Cathy's weaving to our local farmers market so that might be a good place to get some feed back.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

The Ones I Miss

Relationships with farm animals is different from those with domesticated animals for the most part.  I suppose some farmers get really close to a hog or goose or sheep or goat they have had for a long while but it is probably still not like the relationship they have with their trusted dog.

Little Mama died yesterday and I know I am going to miss her.  She is the only hen on the farm that has ever hatched out a baby chick and she hatched 4 beautiful babes.  I don't know if I felt closer to her because she was here so long or because she was a mother and had that motherly settledness about her.  She was a bantam chicken so she was quite small and this years chicks are 3 times her size.  Bantams are know for going broody.  Her chicks were apparently from Black's eggs that she sat on besides her own.  I wonder though, if they will go broody as they get older because they were raised so wonderfully by Little Mama.

I miss Hildegard, the first sheep to come here with her lamb Amelia.  I miss Beau, the first llama, who was quite a character.  I remember how he loved all the lambs when they were born and made sure they were cared for.  I miss Mary, one of Hildegard's lambs.  When she was sick, she used to come to me to see what I was going to give her that day.  She loved for me to sing to her.  We have been fortunate not to lose too many animals, except for chickens that don't live too long a life if they are free range.

With all the hurricane tragedies lately, I have thought about the animals that have been lost.  You don't here about the farm animals but I am sure there must have been many.  I can't imagine how hard it would be to leave your animal friends behind.

Here is a picture of Little Mama with Donald and Black.  She certainly was a sweetheart and I will miss her.

Friday, September 22, 2017

No Excuses

Last Saturday's Fall Farm Day, was busier than ever.  Six of us talked about, demonstrated, and taught, many things wool.  It was a fun day as usual; so many people interested in one aspect or another of the world of wool.  Tomorrow, a friend and I are going to the Shenandoah Fiber Festival in Berryville.  I like medium sized fiber festivals not too far away.  There seems to always be something new and fun to explore at this one.  They have more classes this year but we are not taking any.

I have so many new ideas floating through my head again that interfere with my sleep at night.  Fall is here and the weather is much better to be in the fiber shed.  Not much on my calendar for next week SO maybe  I can see if any of these ideas work.  Stay tuned.

So many beautiful plants about offering to be dye stuff for some wool.   I hope I can take advantage.  Maybe I should pick up some extra Alum tomorrow for mordant.  I think there are a few people around to help dye and now that there is a rain-barrow off the front porch the process will be so much easier.  And I have a bunch of big pots that were Kitty's.

Let's see-- new inspiration, good weather, people to help and not much on my calendar. Humm, Next week could be productive, finally.  No excuses!!!

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.