Monday, October 31, 2011


Don't know if it was a trick or treat that no kids showed up for fiber puppet class today. They all went home after school to go trick or treating. The downtown shops all give out candy in the afternoon and then it is on to the houses. Since I got to come home and leisurely carve the jack-o-lantern and give the sheep the inside glop, we decided to call it a treat.

They ate it all-- especially Sarah, Annie, and the chickens. Mira tried a little and others couldn't decide. Pumpkin seeds are great natural dewormers.

Coming back from the barnyard, I saw this beautiful treat. Fall color at sunset. A jack-o-lantern on the hill?

The treat on the right showed up in our refrigerator. John doesn't drink fruity beer so I lucked out.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Is it Winter Already?

I am back home after a week of visiting family. First John's family gathered for his dad's 90th birthday. All of his brothers and sisters made it plus a cousin, a nephew, and a few inlaws. Then I went on to a gathering of my family. All of my brothers and sisters made it plus 2 inlaws and a niece. Within a few days, I saw 22 family members. It was wonderful!

I came home to cool weather that turned cold. We had our first snow last night and this morning but just a dusting. More snow in other parts of the county (a family that came to the mask workshop this morning left an inch and a half of snow at their house).

Yes, today I had a felt mask workshop. Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures until the end so no pictures of the process ( I think I need to hire Karen next time). It worked out well and we had a lot of fun. Not many participants but I know that will change with time.

The animals faired well without me but of course they are glad I am back- maybe ? I forgot to tell John where the chickens are laying these days so there were almost a dozen eggs in the nest in the closet. Oh well.

The snow reminded me that John reminded me to call my hay farmer for some hay. He is going to bring me 2 round bales and some square bales next weekend. Round bales are less expensive in the long run and I think I can peel the hay off in strips to put in the hay rack. The hay farmer has some better quality hay in the square bales so maybe I can mix some in from time to time.
There are more sheep to feed this winter but no pregnant ewes so that will keep the amount down. Still plenty of grass if we don't get too much snow early. If there is grass, sheep prefer it to hay and if there is good hay they don't want the mediocre stuff so winter feeding can be a bit tricky.

I am hoping the weather warms up again since I still have some fall projects to finish. May be time to prioritize.

I am looking forward to a winter of spinning, knitting, and trying new techniques but it is too EARLY.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Busy but Rewarding

Another busy day at Cabin Spring Farm and MRMS.

I started off the day making sure I had all the fleece my fiber students needed for today. Washed some black alpaca and checked on some fleece I dyed last night after spending 5 hours climbing and descending Jump Mountain. Had a meeting in town, then came back and let the animals out, dumped manure buckets, cleaned the barn, put out fresh minerals, also fresh water. When the animals went back I moved up to the house and weed wacked inside the arbor by the dyeing garden, practiced left handed knitting and double knitting right handed, talked to my neighbor who will be taking care of the animals while we are away for a couple of days, and packed up the van with all the stuff we needed for today's puppet making.

Then, I picked up a friend to check out the class. She has agreed to fill in for me the one day I will miss while away. Puppet making went well again today. I am so proud of my fiber students. They are so enthusiastic and creative.

Home again, I flopped on the front porch and rested, before planning how I could best meet the future material needs of the puppet makers. They give me requests at the end of each session, but don't know their yarn needs yet. Tomorrow, I need to spin several skeins of yarn to later be dyed.

Yes, I am a very busy person, but I love what I do and I am very thankful for the energy to do it all. I look forward to my respite and time spent with family and then I should be ready to come home and be rewarded again.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

How Could Today be any Better?

Tromping in my boots through wet leaves, watching soggy sheep browse for favorite fall foods, feeling the warm October sun between showers, and listening to the wind and leaves- how could today be any better?

Beau, Gretta, and Charlotte like the oak leaves when they can find a limb low enough. Beau eats some leaves off the ground. Amelia likes purple aster flowers. Gretta likes anything in out-of-the-way places. The forsythia bush is well pruned by all.

Washing more fleece today even though it is not really a drying day. Just trying to keep up with some of it. Need to do more Finn for masks. Soon I want to do a wood fire- big kettle batch.

Starting to get responses for the Halloween felt mask making workshop the 29th. Should be loads of fun. Think I will do a mask this evening to try a new method.

Lunch is over, time to get back to "work?" I was tell John this morning, too bad we have to eat and wear clothes. He agreed that then we would have more time to do the important things we want to do. The sheep and Beau don't have to wash their clothes (the rain does it) and if they didn't have to eat, what would they do all day. Meditate I suppose.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

So Much to Write About

Rosemary came to visit last Friday and we have been going every minute trying to fit everything into the short 4 days we will be together. By fit everything in I mean all the things we want to share with each other. Rosemary is a BIG TIME fiber enthusiast and fiber artist. This visit she brought several of her felt dolls she has been creating. They are amazing! They look like people I know.

Rosemary left yesterday and today I had my second after school puppet class. I have 5 great middle school students and a mentor helper that is a senior in high school. In the class the students will learn to felt, knit, and weave and use all three to create a puppet. So far they have made a piece of sheet felting, learned to wet felt something round or oval for a head, and some have started the knitting because they have chosen to knit their puppet's body. It is all very exciting- they have remembered to bring things back to class and have written plans. Much different than the elementary kids I have been working with earlier this fall. I just have to keep them busy and I have to stay organized.

Mary has had bottle jaw as a result of having parasites but is much better. Rosemary and I were talking to a friend of mine yesterday, about how we have medical issues to bring us back to our path of healing studies. Sometimes, it is our children or our animals that put us back on the path. I have been giving Mary numerous different treatments and remedies and nutritional support. It has all been good research for the book but I better take time to make sure everything is recorded in the book I keep for the animals so that nothing is forgotten. Today, I gave them all some nutritional yeast. I keep it in the refrigerator for me but I really don't like it and forget to put it in things where I won't notice it. It blends beautifully in the grain I give them for treats.

I look forward to a quiet tomorrow to do some catching up but I enjoyed every moment with Rosemary.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Six Years Ago Today

Seems like much longer. I feel like it was a life time ago.

A quiet day here on the farm. Dug out yet another wheelbarrow full of thistle plants in the small pasture. I can't wait until all the weeds die off again for this year. Next year may be the year of the goats. I wonder if I took a sampling of the weeds I have here down to Karen's goats and offered them if that would be a good indication of what goats would eat or would they not like them if they were not fresh? It would be easier than bringing goats here for a trial, I think.

Sheep do browse trees and shrubs, especially this time of year but who eats the hefty woody weeds? Do goats eat thistle? Sheep eat rose bushes and berry canes but not thistles.

Coming to the top of the priority list, is biodynamic treatment of the pasture and then fencing the animals off of part of it to let it recover. Plenty of great grass for short term grazing while I am here but the secure pasture is very short and sparse in many areas. It is time to act! Tomorrow I will go to the farmers co op and see what the options are for posts for fence wire. Pictures soon.

Monday, October 3, 2011

I'm Back

Back to farming and fiber Yay! I was a guidance counselor in two elementary schools for 6 weeks filling in for a guidance counselor who was on family leave. I enjoyed working with the kids and playing professional (all dressed up) for a little while but I am glad to be back to my REAL life where I can stay home with animals and wear blue jeans (the same pair for two days).

I can wake up by the light of the day- not in the dark. I can let the animals out earlier and spend more time with them. I can play with fiber again. I was too tired after a full day at school and then taking care of the animals and making dinner. And then with all the Saturdays in September scheduled to be away, places doing things, it really made it impossible to get anything done.

There is a long list of things that have been neglected and new things that have been put on hold but the weather is beautiful and I will just keep whittling away until all the important things get done. It will be interesting to see how much the school system pays me for all those weeks away - not a lot I am sure, but maybe a bit to do a project or two.

I am on to my next fiber adventure. It is actually called NEXT. It is an after school project to get kids to interact instead of going home and vegetating. They are going to pay me $20/hr but it is only 2 1/2 or 3 hrs. per week. Tonight, was the kickoff; where the kids got to check out all the activity groups they could sign up for. I will be doing a fiber puppet class. The students who choose my group will learn to knit, weave, and felt and design a puppet incorporating all three. I am excited and I hope a few will sign up and get excited too. I was talking to a woman who is doing photography and she told me when you get to 6th grade it isn't cool to look like you are excited so not to get discouraged. I have been working with K-5th for so long that I forgot about that. Oh well, I still want to do it.

Now I will be able to give the animals and the farm the best part of the day and then hang out with the kids at the end of a couple of days. That is what I call a balanced life.