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.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Photo Shoot

Melanie, came from NC to stay up at the hermitage at the Belfry for 3 weeks to work on an art project.  She is working on a series of sheep pictures, so Anne put her in touch with me.  Melanie came for two photo shoots with the sheep.

 Yesterday,  Melanie told me she was headed home and wanted to know if I wanted to see her work in progress.  Of course I said yes.  She blows the pictures up to 2'X3' and larger and puts a distressed wood frame around them that she has made saw gouges in.  There are halos around the sheep's heads.  It is hard to describe.

I have mentioned that when I take a camera up to the barnyard the sheep are very interested.  For Melanie, they really struck up some great poses.

And of course Donald wanted to be a part of it.
They make me laugh.  

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.

Monday, May 1, 2017

The Long Month of April

Wow was April loooong. We came back from our trip to SC, had a week of fiber camp, shearing event, Easter,  5 visitors from New England (three different arrivals and departures), and 2 trips to southern VA., and John's mom came to visit, yesterday.  Oh, and I took about 60 lbs. of fleece to be processed in a new place really close by.  In October we should have a good assortment of yarn, batts, sliver, and more.

Mira before shearing

Mira after.

 And now you can see the true colors of the sheep

And the fleece.  This is Sarah's fleece, below.

Now it is May and we have a new resident at the farm (more later on that).

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

The Pendulum of Hard Work

"Spring Break Fiber Camp" is over, whew.  The sheep were sheared and connections made at our annual shearing event,  AND Easter was shared with family.  Now a new year is resurrected, as was Jesus.

Rosemary and I had our own sunrise service up on top of Charlie's pasture, which is higher than any here.  You can see miles and miles of the Blue Ridge Mountains to the east, the beginning of the Allegheny to the west, and of course Short Hill and House Mountains.  An amazing view and a SPECIAL place.

Now, I am ready to slow down and enjoy life's quieter moments.  There is a lot to get done but no rush to get it done.  There is so much quietude surrounding me today.

 The sheep are rid of a year's worth of wool containing a fair amount of hay and other vegetation and, I am sure, a decent amount of weight and warmth.  They seem to be happy and peaceful as well. They have new pasture (the highest and favorite) to eat, which was saved in a rotation.  The pasture below the driveway is getting long and thick and still a good place to spend some time when I can be on watch.  Today, Rosemary and I sat on the cabin deck and drew, at the picnic table.

Our time to relax and draw was well earned after some heavy lifting earlier in the day.  First, some quite large stumps that were hanging around, were moved to Boxerwood to be used in the "Fairy Forest".  Then we began moving my collection of heavy, large stones to the new steps area that I having been planning for over a year.  Pictures tomorrow.  Sweet.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

It's That Time of Year

We went away for 6 days.  We were on holiday, as John puts it.  We went to see Beverly and her new house in Charleston.  It was great to see my good friend and we had a lot of fun and got refreshed.

I got so refreshed that our first night back, I forgot I was a farmer and didn't remember to close in the birds and give the sheep some hay until 9 P.M.  At least I remembered before I went to bed.  The next day, I was back into my farming routine and everyone was glad, except Prince.  Prince is testy these days so I had to put my big wings out and remind him I was the Queen Farmer.  Since he had to retreat, he went after the sheep, nipping at their legs.

My first day back was also the day that Sal finally decided to sit on the eggs she has been moving around in her big beautiful nest.  Now we wait and see what happens.

Meanwhile, the sheep are really wooly.  I haven't told them yet but they are all getting sheared the 15th.  I always struggle with when to have them sheared; the weather is so changeable.  Today they are probably glad they have the fleece; it is cool with strong gusts of chilly wind.  The problem is they get buzz cuts. 

Charlotte gets so much hay in her fleece when she eats.  It is her place at the hay feeder.

Today I spent the day in the fiber shed taking an inventory of the fleece left from last year.  Next week is Spring Break Fiber Camp, maybe we should make some big pillows stuffed with fleece and lavender.  

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Sometimes Things Get Done

Yesterday, was a productive day.  I went to Boxerwood for a load of leaf mulch and John and I covered the hugels.  Wow, they look good now.

And then I planted some clover and covered it with straw.  I also raked some stick weed and did a few other things in the barnyard.  Enough to realize that it would not take much time to do the rest of the things I need to do.

Today, I sat at the camp fair with a slideshow and pictures of last summer's fiber camps.   It was fun to put the slideshow together and see the concentration, the camaraderie, the characters.  At the fair, I talked to a few new people but mostly reconnected with parents of repeat campers to give out cards with this year's dates  an talk about how these kids are growing.  It is great to hear the things that the kids say about fiber camp.  And the parents too.  Some of the younger siblings are getting old enough to come and some of the oldsters are ready to be camp councilors.

Tomorrow,  it's back to farm work, rewarded by going out for dinner, another fine week.  

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Cold Again

At 18 degrees with snow, everyone was looking for some protein to boost body warmth.  At times their were almost a dozen little birds sharing breakfast with the big birds.  The chickens wanted breakfast in their coop.

The forecast of 4-7 inches ended up fizzling out and we actually only got just over an inch of snow.    But it was cold.   With previous  nights in the 20s, Cirrus was able to keep the water open in his tub, but with night temperatures in the teens he can't keep up.  This morning Cirrus  particularly wanted my attention.  It seemed he wanted assurance that he was going to be able to swim again soon.  I told him that warmer weather was coming.  I will have to try to get some water in his tub or put some water on top of the ice in the puddle pond.  The sheep don't seem to mind the cold as long as I give them extra hay.  I may have to get a couple of bales of hay to last the season.  In February, it looked like Spring was coming and we were going to have plenty.

Yesterday, it never got warm so I spun some wool by the wood stove.  I want to spin up a lot before this year's shearing event which is going to be April 15th.  It would be nice to have some fun and funky home spun yard available.  O.K., I will make it a priority.  A good thing to do in the cold.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Eloise and Penelope Moved to Another Farm

With 7 or more eggs in the nest, it was time for a couple of the girls to move along.

 I think Eloise might have been a help last year in bringing up Prince and Penelope but can you imagine 5 geese in a flock with 2 or more new goslings.   So they are exploring a friend's place now.  She has chickens and occasional other birds.  They seem to have settled in nicely.  There may be another goose and a gander joining them soon.

This is Eloise with her dad last year.  

These are the 5 that used to give the sheep such a hard time.  It seems so much calmer around here now, with just 3.  Group dynamics.

And sweet little Penelope who is not so little anymore.

The move went pretty smoothly.  Laure came over at the end of the day last Friday with her big cage. The geese all went into their run for dinner and as they were eating, I picked up one and then the other and put them in the cage.  No big squawking, no charging, it sure made it easier for me.  We carried the cage and put it in the back of the car and stood talking for awhile with the girls just watching and listening and maybe wondering, but seemingly O.K. with it all.  Prince is staying here for now.   The next morning no one asked where Eloise and Penelope went and no one seemed to be looking for them.

Sal hasn't shown any interest is sitting on the eggs yet.  But she rearranges the nest most every day.  One day the straw will be piled high above the eggs and another day you can see one or two uncovered completely.  We are going to have three very cold nights this week, so it will be interesting to see if Sal sits on the eggs to keep them warm or just piles on more straw.   I asked Laure if the girls were nesting and she said one of them laid two eggs but didn't build a nest.  I have 3 eggs in my refrigerator to give her if they do start nesting.  Do you suppose they don't bother to build a nest if the eggs are not fertile?  If the gander comes soon we will see if it makes a difference.  Anyway, that is for L. to figure out, they don't live here anymore, but I do miss them.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Different Points of View

I was thinking one day, while laying in the boundary layer looking up at the sky, how most of us living at Cabin Spring Farm, see differently.

Cirrus  and the rest of the geese, also look to the sky,but when they do, they completely tilt their head. One eye is looking at the dirt and the other at some bird at great heights.  The last time I observed one of the geese looking up, there was a formation of geese or duck or other large migratory birds.  So high and quiet, I would have never noticed them if it were not for my farm friend.  But even though it looks like their eyes are on the side of their head and they look to the sky with one eye, they look straight into my eyes when looking at me.

Red, here, has a similar way of seeing the world I think.  She picks up on hawks and other threats from the sky, but uses sound or vibration or something else, to search for her  favorite food, insects, while cocking her head from side to side.

Amelia, doesn't ever seem to look up to the sky.  This time of year, I am not sure how much she sees through her curly locks.  I always wonder if she wishes these locks were with her all year aiding as sunglasses,

or does she wish she had an open face like, Zorra, Gretta, Rosa, and not pictured here, Sarah and Annie.

I often feel a sensory overload, so I am not sure I want to be able to move my eyes into so many directions  and take in so much more.

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 knew 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.