Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Quiet Halloween

Not writing from my desk today. My computer crashed last night. It is harder to go through the process of posting from another computer so we will see how dedicated I am.

Life is quiet again after a 24 hour visit from great nieces, great nephew, nephew, and my oldest brother. My computer crashed just after I downloaded great Halloween pics.

They were a great help. Yesterday, we pulled the last tomatoes out of the garden, dug sweet potatoes, and picked and beheaded the last of the marigolds so I can use them for dye. They helped feed and water the animals and collected eggs while asking if there were baby chicks inside. I always love to see what young children will do with eggs in their hands. Some carry them as precious cargo and others put them in a feed bowl or under a pile of hay.

With the main gate open for awhile, the chickens took the opportunity to check out the smaller pasture and somehow 3 escaped into the wild.fringe of the woods. Usually they come running when they see me but not this afternoon. They are loving scratching in the leaves. I wonder if they will go back on their own.

Another quiet day for Thor. So far, to my knowledge, only two ewes have gone into heat. I thought it was going to be wild and crazy when they all got together but not so-- anyway not yet.

Plans for my fiber business are expanding and clarifing. I carded some wool with my new method and it came out much better. A friend helped me with the upper support on the north end of the arbor so now it is ready for stringing a Navaho type loom. And the cabin is clean and ready for me to transfer supplies and set up my studio down there. The woman I hope will be my apprentice, did a 2 day workshop with a weaver in the county so I am hoping she will get excited about production and find some time to come over this week. Maybe once I get started on new ideas I will be able to sleep better nights. Too many idea flowing in.

Friday, October 29, 2010


Last SuNDAY aT the SAFF WORKShoP I leARNED ALL ThE THINGS I was doinG wrONG in My fiBer PrOduction. -- my computer is really going nuts this morning except now it seems to have settled down. Actually, fiber instructors say "anything goes" but encourage fiber novices to try certain techniques to accomplish yarn that might have more the qualities they need for specific projects.

In the workshop, we talked about angle of yarn twist, twist direction, wheel ratios which accomplishes twists per inch, spinning to the crimp, wraps per inch and other things. We were shown how to measure all of these things and then we were shown how to observe the yarn and check for BALANCED yarn. That is what we are looking for in the end unless we are not. For the most part, knitters, weavers, and other fiber people work with balanced yarn unless they are trying to create something a little more unique.

I knew the above terms and knew how to observe some of them but did not know how to technically measure them- so that was important for me to learn. I think it is important to understand how to get different results and then we can make decisions about what we REALLY want to have in the end. Sometimes it takes hours of practice and disciple to accomplish a preferred outcome and other times we can choose to let go of control and see what comes out in the end.

The photo is taken from my desk where I write.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


SARAH is Thor's first love (at least at this farm). Sarah has been the ewe most interested in Thor since he arrived here so I am glad it worked out tHAt she is his first love.

Thor is so romantic. He makes sweet sounds and smooches and licks her neck. She loves all the attention. He went to check out the other sheep and Sarah followed him. Thor came a little close to Amelia and she told him to take off. He did.

It all started this morning when the girls went over to visit Thor and have a picnic. Most of the girls did't stay long and went back to their pasture. Even Sarah wanted to go back after awhile and Thor followed her back. Hildegard just kept eating, oblivious of everything else that was going on. Beau watched from a distance still wondering what is so special about Thor. Beau has accepted Thor but still hasn't gotten too close.

I have left the gate open between the pastures and Beau went over for awhile by himself. Later the chickens decided to explore the area.

Even with everyone changing places and moving around though, it has been a very quiet day. Not what I expected-- but I am glad.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Off to SAFF

Headed down to Asheville for the Southeast Animal Fiber Fair. I am excited for many reasons.

First, the young woman who is considering being my apprentice is going down with me. I have only met her once so it will be good to get to know her better. We are going to camp in the van overnight tonight which I always love even when it is cold as it will probably be tonight (we had our first frost last night here).

It is always exhilarating meeting and being around fiber animals and fiber people. Very fun to pick up new supplies. And I got in to the workshop I was on the wait list for. It is a workshop that goes into more of the technical side of spinning.

We leave mid day so I am going to spend the morning organizing my fiber stuff here so that when I come back with new ideas and new knowledge I can take off running. Does that sound like me? Some things need to move at a slower pace with contemplation.

I am going to set up my fiber studio in the cabin. My equipment and fiber are taking over our house and it is time. Then I can go to work and get away from the distractions of the house.

Thor seems to fit the new ram so it is nice not to have to think about his name anymore. That wasn't so hard (thanks Lyndy - sorry Gail). If all goes well in the next few weeks there will be many names to think of for next Spring. I will let you know when to start submitting your ideas

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Formal Introductions

I will take a friend's lead and begin this blog before I forget what I was going to write about. Twice in 2 days that has happened.

The ram shelter (bachelor pad) is finished. Rams have many "relationships" but never really marry so I guess they are bachelors all their lives. What a tough life! A week and a half of the two week quarantine has passed and the next step is fast approaching. I technically know what the next step is but alas I am not sure of the best approach.

"The Introduction" As I mentioned before, the girls have been over to the fence and have been flirting and the ram has been making some interesting noises and running around alot so what next? Should the ram go visit Beau and the girls and hang out for a few days before the excitement begins? Should Beau and the girls go over to the ram's pasture for a picnic to get acquainted? Should I wait and let the girls visit individually when their turn comes? Their times should be starting around Oct. 29th.

The 2 things that enter in to the decision are both male related. I don't want Beau to confuse breeding with the ram hurting his girls so I was thinking he should see them together before things get hot and heavy. I want the girls to go over to the ram's pasture for breeding so the ram won't be running around over the big pasture wearing himself out. If he goes over to the bigger pasture now will it be harder to get the courting to take place in the smaller pasture?

I emailed the women, that lives where Beau used to live, for advice on llama psychology and I wonder, as I wait for a reply, if this is yet another example of me over thinking everything.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Refocussing with a little help from my friends

Today was one of those days my mind was spinning instead of of my hands. Too many things to think about and so many things I wanted to do. When I reached overload I headed for the barn. Animals definitely have a calming effect on me like millions of others.

First I encountered the new ram- Thor? He was relaxing in his new digs waiting for visitors. I tried on some new names for him.

Check out his shelter in progress.

I crimped an edge for a roof panel this morning so it should be done soon.

When I came upon the chickens they were intently looking for something.

A few minutes later two were strolling with Amelia while Beau looked stately except for that piece of hay hanging from his mouth like an old farmer.

I wish I knew which hen is still laying eggs in the nesting boxes in the chicken coop-- I 'd give her a medal. These I have to collect from the hay loft in the barn.

I think I liked it better when they were laying on top of the closet.

What a Beautiful Autumn day-- especially once I put the cluttered thoughts aside.

Monday, October 11, 2010

What's in a Name?

"A Thousand Clowns" is one of my favorite classic movies. It stars Jason Robards, as an eccentric bachelor, raising his nephew, played by Barry Gordon, in New York City. I have been thinking about the movie a lot for the last couple of days. One of my favorite parts is that the nephew wants to change his name and tries different names every week until he finally decides on one at the end of the movie.

As I said in the last blog, I have been having a hard time deciding what to call the new ram that has come to live with us. The woman I got him from called him Rammy but said he would come to anything if food was involved. His official name on his registration is Teddy. I don't know how I feel about changing names but I didn't for Beau and Sarah, the only two here that came with names. None of them come to their names-- at least not yet-- so what is the big deal?

When Lyndy called to say she was coming for a visit on Sunday, I figured my problem was solved. Lyndy loves naming animals and other things. The new ram has a very deep voice and is a real stud so she said Rammy was out. Teddy isn't too studly either.

At lunch Lyndy came up with a list of suggestions with manliness taken into account. I decided to try Thor for this week. Teddy is short for Theodore so using a friend's logic Thor should be fine.

Anyway, he is a real sweetheart and I love him.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

He's Here

What a long day!!! It started with me realizing (20 minutes from my house) that I left the directions to where I was going at home. Also the woman's phone number. When I met my friend, who volunteered to go with me, in town, she somehow didn't seem too surprised.

It wasn't too difficult to get her number from information, so off we went with a new set of directions and a cell phone number scratched on the back of a check book. The first two hours of the trip went pretty well but then I made a right instead of a left and things went astray once more. Called the woman again, got straightened out, and retraced a few miles. This time we made it all the way to her road which we went down twice before calling again. I am surprised she let me take her beloved ram home with me. She probably thinks I am a total flake and is worried I will forget to feed him. We didn't get lost coming home but toooo long. Rammy Teddy didn't seem to mind.

Once home, we received a great reception from the sheep--Beau wasn't too sure what to think. The girls were flirting and R.T. or T.R. or Rammy or Teddy was eating it up. He was smooching through the fence. By the time I got my camera, a half hour later, the girls had headed across the pasture leaving the new guy at the fence. He seems O.K. being here--- now if I can just figure out what to call him.

Friday, October 8, 2010


Weeks ago I looked out the south side windows of our home trying to visualize how the planned arbor would impact views. Is that weird?
Other than sleeping, a small portion of my day is spent inside, John also, yet I seriously considered how the arbor would look, particularly from our bed and John's desk. I have to admit, I did the same when it was necessary to change the location of an electric pole.

I do spend a few moments every morning gazing out-- thankful for a great, new, day--contemplating the plan for the day and noting the passage of the seasons. The rest of the day, when I am home, is outside working on various projects, hanging out with the animals, or working with fiber.

Yesterday, Karen and I sat in the arbor visualizing what it would become. We talked about future lunches (in the sun or dappled shade), gazing at the dyeing garden, harvesting grapes, and constructing tapestries. We did a little construction.

As far as construction goes, it is moving along at a nice slow pace. I see the project, as important in the visualizing and building stage as the finished stage. There is much to be learned in the process.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Moving Right Along

Tomorrow is suppose to be arbor day-(not Arbor Day). I am not planting trees, I am going to start erecting an arbor [for grapes, breakfast, weaving, and many other occasions] out of dead cedars from the woods on the property. (reminds me of a children's book)

I am very excited, even as it is raining now and is forecasted to tomorrow. The guy who is going to help me, just called and said if tomorrow doesn't work Friday is good for him. So it looks to happen soon. I have been visualizing the arbor for quite awhile, kind of like I used to visual the sheep in the pasture before they came. I look forward to the reality of the arbor.

Yesterday, a few women were over to do some fiber stuff. As one of them was leaving she told me how excited she was about the arbor and she wanted to help in some way. She may help with a table or some of the later detail on the structure. She seemed amazed that I thought I could do this and confided that she wanted to design a small space and build it or have it built.

I am SO thankful for all of the support I have received from many women in my community. I feel so blessed. A good friend of mine visiting this summer, asked me, when she was here, if I ever felt lonely. I never do. I miss my good friends and family that don't live near by-- different ones on different days-- but I never feel lonely. I have though, at different times in my life, I think I know what she was talking about.

The new fence is almost done. The last post is giving me a hard time ( eight holes and still no spot without hitting rock). I put in 8 or 9 posts and only had a problem with the last 2. Same with the arbor-- one corner is going to have to be drilled and pinned-- but my wonderful husband doesn't think that will be a problem.

Pictures of both coming soon.