Saturday, December 29, 2012

Are You Open? she asked

Yesterday, I got a call from a New Jersey woman, passing through Lexington, who asked if I was open.  After a long pause, (while I tried to figure out what that meant) I mumbled a bunch of stuff about the sheep being here, and then somehow asked what she was interested in.

When is a farm OPEN?    Or not OPEN?

Turns out she figured I had a little shop with wool items for sale.  I told her the fiber shed is in transition and not heated and there was no stash of product right now, so she said, "maybe next time".

She was driving through Lexington and checked the tourism site (probably from her iPhone) and found Cabin Spring Farm and gave me a call.  This is how it is suppose to work, but, we are listed under farm tours and cabin rental, so when she asked if we were open, I was a little confused.  I would, instead, expect,"could we get a tour of your farm today" or "is your cabin available tonight".

What do people reading the tourism listing of "farm tour" picture in their mind?  White farm house, surrounded by pastures with many sheep grazing and a little store that says "OPEN"?

Several years ago, I was in Tuscan and I somehow found out about a place on the edge of the desert where a woman raised a few sheep and I called and went out for a visit.  A small fenced habitat with six or seven sheep, a modest home and a little shop, is what I found.  She first introduced me to the sheep, which you could tell she loved immensely.  She gave me a little history of her dream- come- true and touched on future plans.  I checked out her shop in which she had some natural color homespun and some dyed with Kool Aid TM.  She also had a few items that she had knit, for sale.  She instantly became my hero and mentor.  I talked to her a few times between that day and buying the farm but just having the memory of that day to hold onto was special.

We have accomplished much this year.  Hopefully, next spring the fiber shed will be completed and stocked so that our visitors, after meeting our animals, can follow the processing of fleece and see and purchase something to take home.  I don't plan to have an "OPEN" sign, though.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Animal Senses

The snow is melting and sliding off the roof of the garage/barn down by where the hay feeders are and every once in awhile the sheep all run back from the feeders.  The interesting thing is, I couldn't figure out what was scarring them for quite awhile because they were running just before the snow crashed to the ground.  They were sensing it.

They say animals react to many weather phenomena and when we had the earthquake a year (+ or-) ago, some people told me their animals senesced it before it happened but I have not personally been in the right place at the right time to be a witness to this early sensing before today.  It was so interesting to watch over and over after I realized what was going on.  They didn't all jump every time, some were definitely more sensitive.  What was especially interesting to watch was that the sheep who kept sensing the snow slides are the ones who look up when I come from a distance.  Some sheep keep eating and don't look up.

I am not sure if Cher jumped, I wasn't as aware of it, anyway.  I know she has good senses though.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Over the River and Through the Woods

Gramma's house isn't connected to the world wide web so Merry 2nd Day of Christmas.  A quick trip to be with family for 2 and a half days.  Oh the memories it brought back, including driving in a scary snow storm.  Fortunately, we were traveling in opposite directions so our trip down memory lane was fairly brief.

Back on the Farm the animals were glad to see me, especially since I had feed in my hand.  Our neighbor said the chickens stayed in the barn all day.  About and inch and a half of wet snow fell here while we were gone.

I am glad winter has arrived with the much needed precipitation but it is difficult when so many are traveling over the holidays.

Now to look back over 2012 and think about what to add to life on the farm for 2013.  

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Must Be GOLD in These Hills

Another gift, first thing this morning, a double rainbow.  

One end by Big House Mountain and the other in front of Short hill.  At one point you could see the whole thing but it was too close to photograph .

Amazing clouds all day.

 I was almost late to meet my walking buddies in town because I could't stop watching the rainbow change.  When I met some neighbors at the farmer's market, later in the day, we were talking about the incredible light and rainbow and they showed me their pictures.  One of them was telling me about seeing a rainbow once, that ended at one of their cows in the pasture.

The rainbow could have ended at any one of the sheep or Cher.  They are as good as gold, when they are not being difficult.  HA HA

A guy called us last night and said we didn't know him, but he was going to be turkey hunting on an abutting neighbors property and asked if he could walk across our property because of where he was going to park.  The end of the rainbow, on the above picture, is right where he was going to hunt this morning.  I wonder if he found any gold.

A few hours later, I came home and this

was the first thing I saw.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

More Early Gifts

More Early Gifts, this time material.  I have been looking for a production spinning wheel for awhile.  I have spent 3 years over thinking the purchase.

This fall when John and I went down to the fiber festival in Ashville NC, I spun on a bunch of wheels. The one I really liked is a Matchless, made by Schact.  Unfortunately,  it is one of the more expensive wheels on the market.  I remembered my neighbor said, if I ever wanted to try her wheel I could, so I gave her a call.  When I went over to pick it up, I was surprised to see that it too was a Matchless.  Of course, I told myself that maybe when I spun a little longer on the Matchless, I would find some things I did not like about it. That didn't happen, so I went over to our closest spinning supplier to see if I could find one I liked almost as much, nope.  Last week I looked on ebay, which I check a few times a year.  And there it was, on the first page, another Matchless.  This one was used and missing a couple of parts.  Parts are not expensive and readily available, so the bidding began. On the evening of 12/12/12, I became the winning bidder at a very reasonable price.  It is on the way here and I am very excited.

Now, I thought to myself, I can spin hundreds of skeins of yarn.  I went out to the fiber shed, to card some Cotswold for some Christmas gifts, and soon became discouraged.  The locks are open but where they were shorn off the sheep, it was difficult to get the locks free from each other and the pre carding step became very tedious.

I remembered talking to a woman at Farm Day, this fall when I was spinning, who had a picker.  She gave me her number and told me I could come over and try it, so yesterday I did.  Wow, what a piece of equipment.  I asked her if I could rent it because I didn't think she would want to sell it and If she did, I thought it would be too expensive.  Turns out she wanted to sell it and gave me a great price.  Now I can spin hundreds of skeins of yarn.

We have basically 3 types of fleece here and all have to be treated and prepared differently, but this will really help.  It is a monster machine which I will say more about later but for now I am enjoying one early gift and waiting excitedly for the other.

Monday, December 10, 2012

It's Like They've Known Each Other All Their Lives

Mr. Black and Dodo Bird have come to live on the farm.  They spent yesterday in the coop getting acclimated.  The sheep and Cher were not sure what to think about all the crowing or whatever so they were a bit skidish.  I didn't see the rest of the chickens come around so don't know what they thought initially.

This morning, John went down to let the new guys out of the coop and they seemed quite at home.  A few hours later I went down and the chickens were all hanging out together like best buddies.

The chickens all stayed in the barnyard area and barn all day so I didn't know if the roosters knew how to fly over the fence until later in the day.  At dusk, I went to see if the roosters had returned to the coop.  They had not, so I went to check out the barn and found Dodo Bird perched where the araucana usually sleeps high up on a beam.  I guess he likes heights.  The others seemed to be on top of the barn closet.

I wonder why the araucana decided not to sleep on that beam and why Dodo picked that one.  More mysteries.  The mysteries are one of the things that makes farming fun.  Can't wait for tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


The other day I took this ice off the top of a bucket and threw it on the grass.  It was on the grass in the shade of the fiber shade for a day and then I picked it up again-- How beautiful- What a gift.

I have always loved ice crystals, especially with the sun or candle  light coming through.

One of my favorite childhood memories is of walking in the woods on a cold winter day and finding frozen water falls and huge ice cycles.

Another wonderful early gift, is all the help I have had in the past week with hoof trimming.  Some people don't especially like the Christmas Gifts, often given by children (and other special people), that are gifts from the heart.  Coupons for washing the dishes, taking out the trash, feeding the dog, back rubs and such, but I DO.   Some of my favorite gifts from Lyndy, growing up, were the hours spent helping me in the garden on Mother's Day.

I would love to get coupons for hugging sheep while I trim hooves, or helping to further establish the hedgerow in the pasture.  John gives me gifts of time all the time.  The fiber shed addition is coming along nicely and yesterday the garden tool shed.  The last gift, is sponsored by the amazing "spring like weather" we have been having this week.  I love winter and I am ready but still I enjoyed the gift of the last couple of days warmth.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Video of a Quiet Day

I know there are people who read this blog and really don't have a close connection with the animals on the farm.  Here is the flock on a quiet autumn day.  Just got the new hay feeder (not trough- troughs are for drinking).   My first attempt of putting a video on the blog I think.

Thursday, November 29, 2012


 333 posted blogs, with this one, WOW.  What started as a chronicle of farm life at Cabin Spring Farm, has been read or followed, by a few readers from all over the world.  Amazing.

 With all that is going on in this world, this week people from Russia, Latvia, France, Germany, Poland, Australia, China, Indonesia, and Pakistan have ended up at Cabin Spring Farm for whatever reason.  Many end up here because of a keyword used in a search, but I like to believe some follow the life of the 9 sheep, llama, and 3 chickens that live here.  I would love to know who our friends and family are, but other than the 21 who have registered as followers, I just know what countries and areas of the United States, people are from.  That's O.K., humans are just curious, I think.

The excitement of this week is, that I sent out an email to my local fiber enthusiasts asking if anyone wanted to hug sheep this week while I trimmed hooves, and 4 responded positively.

Karen came over yesterday and another friend stopped by.  We trimmed 16 hooves.  What a wonderful feeling, especially since the ones we did are the heaviest.  A little stressful for the sheep but they forgive me quickly and life goes on.  Karen kisses them while I trim so the only stressful part is the initial anticipation.  Maybe hypnosis would be good.

Another highlight, was a visit Tuesday from a friend of a friend and her sister visiting from Vermont.  The visiting sister is a needle felter who was in need of some fleece for a project she is working on.  She is needle felting a submarine and needed some yellow fiber among other things.  Anyway, it is always interesting to have people visit.

It is another beautiful day on the farm and I have to give the sheep their full moon garlic so maybe I will take some pictures.  I think more photos is what I will try to bring to the next 333 blogs.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Flight Zones

An interesting term, flight zone, could mean many things, I guess.  When I was reading about handling sheep, last night, the article was talking about different sheep having different flight zones.

A sheep's flight zone is like a human's personal space except if someone invades my personal space, I take a calm step backwards instead of running for my life.  As animals begin to get "up close and personal" with people their flight zone gets smaller, until they read our minds and know we are coming to trim their hooves.

  I am always trying to find ways of making hoof trimming less stressful.  The first time I ever trimmed a sheep's hoof, I was getting a lesson at the Frontier Culture Museum.  My client was an older sheep and Marcus just walked up to it when it was lying down and confined it a bit while I trimmed.  No Big Deal.  A friend of mine says she can walk up to her sheep laying under a tree and start shearing them.

I have read many times that sheep have very good memories.  In my opinion, their memory is probably almost as good as an elephant's.  And the problem is, when you first get sheep you don't really know how to handle them and you make mistakes and the sheep remember.  

Fortunately, sheep love grain and will go almost anywhere for a handful of grain.  Eventually, they begin to like and trust you and their flight zone gets smaller.  Llamas are no different, when it comes to treats, and Cher will now eat out of my hand.  Yesterday, she even ate out of my hand without a gate between us.  Of course, she is still coming to me.  It may be awhile before I can go to her.

After being away for 3 days at Thanksgiving, I walked up to the sheep and they retreated.  It took half a day for their flight zones to shrink again.  This week I will be trimming hooves, so here we go again.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Lost Art of Spinning

If you google spinning these days, you are led to a bunch of sites on bicycle spinning.  If you don't want to search through them all, you can put in "spinning yarn", but the other day when my business advisor did, what came up was "spinning yarns" as in story telling.

Betty is the one that told me to "celebrate the snake" (see earlier blog).  Now she is all excited about the idea of having a special event where we spin yarn and spin yarns.  Actually, that sounds fun to me too, since I have been enamored by  story telling, long before I began spinning yarn.

Why not?  Who would come?  Should we have a bonfire?  Could I spin in the dark?  Probably.  I bet it would not be too hard around here to find some old farmers that could spin some good yarns.

I have been spinning some of Zorra's fleece recently.  It is very fine and many colors but maybe a bit flat.  She has no Cotswold blood in her so no Cotswold luster, but oh so soft.  I will probably use it to knit some baby sweaters since there are babies in my life again.

No one signed up for the after school knitting workshop so I guess I will have a lot of extra time this winter.  I have some knitting projects lined up and I want to spin, spin, spin, and see how many skeins of yarn I can spin by the end of the year.

This may be the time to  buy a good production wheel.  I have five spinning wheels in the collection here but none have good tensioning and smooth control for spinning a lot of even yarn.  I have been looking for a long time and I think I am finally deciding what I am looking for in a wheel.  There are many on the market now.  Some old traditional wheels and a bunch of new fangled ones.  They go from around $200 to well over a thousand dollars.  I found one I liked at the last fiber festival I went to for $1050.00 but I am hoping that I can find one I like as well for around $600.00.  Think I will borrow my neighbor's wheel for a couple of days and then take a trip over to Charlottesville to try some others.

Of all the things you can do with fleece, I think spinning is one of my favorite.  Very relaxing.  Knitting is relaxing if you are not knitting a mega row repeat with many colors, but somehow I don't often find myself knitting as simply as I could.  There are many techniques one can use while spinning as well, but I have not yet gotten that bug.  I think I could spin yarn and spin yarns at the same time.

I wonder if my friend, Candy, could spin her amazing novelty yarn and spin yarns at the same time.

Friday, November 16, 2012

9 Sheep and a llama (and 3 chickens)

All seems quiet on the farm this week.  Cher has settled in and is getting used to gates, the sheep are loving the cool weather and playing sports, and the chickens are doing their thing.

Cher has found some favorite places -- some that were also Beau's favorite.  She doesn't seem to understand why there are so many gates and why sometimes they are open and sometimes closed.  Rotational grazing is probably not a llama's idea of a good thing but it is really important for good health so she will have to get used to it.

The sheep are running sprints and head butting in the cool weather.  I wonder if they have a TV hidden in the barn somewhere and have been watching football.

The chickens have been too quiet.  I have been wanting to find if they are laying eggs somewhere we don't know about, so I listen for the proud cackle, that some say means they have laid an egg, but I haven't heard anything from them lately.  They just hang out by themselves and scratch around.  Maybe it is too cool to lay, or is it a light thing, I forget.  Anyway, today I bought eggs at the grocery store.  Maybe I should put a couple in the nesting boxes.

The pastures still have grazing and foraging but soon it will be time to buy supplemental hay for the winter.  Maybe it is so quiet because winter is just around the corner.    

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


This is Cher
She came to live with us Sunday

She was living with some horses and was a bit bored
with no real llama work to do

She was so excited when she looked out of the trailer
and saw the sheep

and now everyone is getting acquainted

Friday, November 9, 2012


Without sheep again for two days.

When we booked this lovely cottage by the ocean, it was September and fine weather.  How were we to know that a hurricane and a nor'easter were planning to be in DE at the same time?  Actually, Sandy was here one week before we came, but we shared the time with Athena.  John stayed home with the sheep and chickens while I went off to meet my sisters for a few days get together.

I was really excited about the cottage I was able to find for us; two bedrooms, closed in porch, full kitchen,  wood stove.  We were told there was no heat but that didn't matter to me since there was a wood stove, which I pictured to be similar to ours (it was, minus the catalytic converter).  I began to worry when Sandy made her visit before ours, but then I got the word from the owner of the cottage that all was fine.

The convening date was to coincide with election day, with a split in opinion (amongst sisters) of who would be the best choice for President for the next four years.  All voted before meeting up and then the time came.

John had reminded me that it was going to take a bit to heat up the cottage furnishings before we would begin to feel real warmth.  We arrived at the cottage, just after dark, with not too much trouble but as we turned off the key in the van, I wondered when we would next feel warm.

The fire was started, the pizza delivered, the TV turned on to the election results, and then things started to heat up.  Unfortunately, the cottage was still cold.

The rain and wind started to pick up as we finally crawled between cool sheets. Sleeping was warm enough but our cozy little cottage was not quite cozy when we woke the next morning.  I thought about the sheep and how even they would not like the day we were heading into.  The rain was on and off throughout the day but the wind did not subside and the water rose.  By evening, there were a few comments suggesting that it seemed a little warmer.   We four were together and some were celebrating a presidential victory so what did the weather matter?

After a better nights sleep, we woke up to blue sky, diminished wind, and a definite feeling that we would be comfortably warm again.

The best day for last but I always enjoy the dramatic days like yesterday at the ocean (as long as they only last for a day, or maybe two at a time).

But now it is time to sleep so we can get an early start home tomorrow to our "home sweet homes" that are warm and in my case have sheep.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Trick or Treat

Living way out where we do, we seldom have trick-or-treaters, unless the kids from across the pasture come.  I really miss it, but I guess it is better than the other extreme.  All the stories you hear about people having thousands of kids come by on Halloween, is unbelievable.

Regardless of who comes up the drive, I can alway count on  my special trick-or-treaters.  They come in a tricky way; in an envelope.  This year they were dressed, appropriately, as a pirate and a shark and their pictures have once again been placed in our esteemed gallery.

At least I can go downtown on Halloween and watch the parade of all common and bizarre costumes.  The kids who came the other day to the NO SCHOOL FALL FIBER DAY part 2, told me they were a haunted house, a platypus, a princess with a special name I can't remember, and I forget the other 2.

I was thinking today, that I might have some kind of special event here next year on Halloween.  I have almost a year to plan and if anyone wants to help with the plans that would be wonderful.

What's wonderful now is looking at the pictures of a spooky shark and a scary pirate.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Cabin Spring Farm Website Returns

The New and Improved Cabin Spring Farm WEBSITE is finally functional.  Needs a few tweaks but O.K. for now.  .

Got it up just in time for the Fields of Gold jubilee festival.  Fields of Gold is an agritourism venture in the Shenandoah Valley region.  FOG just finished the first year of promoting agritourism by finishing a listing and map of 130 sites in the area, one being Cabin Spring Farm.

We celebrated at one of the vineyards, with some great local food, some good networking and socializing, a few speakers, and a few displays.  I was going to set up a display but we were delayed getting there (more on that later) and the display space was taken up.  John and I were both glad because that meant we could eat and mingle instead of sitting at a display.

I made a contact that wants 4 pounds of fleece for stuffing dolls.  All in all a very pleasant evening.

On the way home, I remembered I have to be up early tomorrow morning  to greet 5 or 6 kids that don't have school again.   I am excited.  It is too cold to meet in the fiber shed, so we will go down to the cabin, at least for the morning.  I actually met the grandfather of one of the summer fiber campers at the function.

Yesterday, was the last session of the fall after school workshops at the MRMS middle school.  Being Halloween, there were only 2 students.  Much more relaxing than 13.

A good week fiber wise, and storm wise as well.  We did get snow flurries on and off all day, but nothing stuck.  High areas of WV, not that far away, got MUCH snow.

I hope many people will visit the Cabin Spring Farm website to keep it in a good position and some feedback would be good too.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Blue Eggs Again

I went out to check for eggs a few days ago and look what I found; blue eggs again.  I haven't seen a blue egg here for over 6 months.

I don't know if the arracana has been laying elsewhere or not laying for quite awhile.  I haven't found brown eggs for a few days so I still think about uncovering 100s of eggs somewhere.  Maybe I will go in search again today, since the after school workshop I do has been cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy.

  Maybe if the winds do come there will be 100s of eggs flying through the air.  Wouldn't that be a sight.  Scrambled eggs for all.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Amelia Bedelia's Parasite

Today was "No School Fall Fiber Day".  Since there was no school today, for whatever reason, I decided to do a fiber workshop.  I had four enthusiastic students.  We had a blast.  First we made a plan  of what we wanted to do.  It was decided we should card and spin some wool, pick pokeweed berries to dye the yarn in the microwave, and of course hang out with the sheep.

Unfortunately, I didn't take any pictures this time.  Next time I will have the kids remind me.  The girls who have been here a few times are getting better at spinning.  It is so great, when you ask kids if it is important to take something home, or just learn more, they say, "just learn more".

The pokeweed had mostly gone by, but there was a large plant next to the compost pile big enough to dye our five small balls of homespun.  It came out beautiful!  The yarn was different shades of red and pink instead of the fushia color I am more used to.  Not sure what that was about.

The two new students wove bracelets on some cardboard box looms we made.  It is nice when we can be doing different things and the kids are always complimenting each other on a job well done.  I am spoiled with this group; they are all sweethearts.

As we were sitting in the sun making our plan and laughing, one of the students said,  "Amelia Bedelia must live here, this is Amelia Bedelia's home, this is Amelia Bedelia's parasite."  I hope she meant paradise.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Giant Steps Forward

John's mom was here a few days last week and she helped me with a prototype I have been working on.  Footwear for little ones.  Now, I have two little moccasin type shoes; one brown and the other white.  Still no pair, but alas, my brother and sister-in-law are coming in a few days and maybe Cathy will help me continue where Gramma and I left off.  I have three different ideas and need to develop them a little further to see which design is the best to go with.

Saturday is the Farm Day at a local farm where they are shearing sheep and showing off old tractors and farm machinery.  Suppose to be a tailgate sale of small animals too so maybe I can find a few more chickens.  I told Keith I would do a demonstration of some kind so I am thinking I might take a couple of spinning wheels with me.  Should be fun and a good thing to do with guests from out of town.

The farm website is coming together again and I am hoping that it will be operational before November 1st which is the Harvest Jubilee; a celebration of the first phase of "Fields of Gold" ( the agritourism project of the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia).  That is a run on sentence, whew.  Anyway, lots coming together and very exciting to be sure.

A week and a half until the Southeastern Animal Fiber Festival (SAFF).  I haven't been for a couple of years and I am excited about going this year.  Taking a workshop entitled Homespun meets Nuno felting.  Should be a good one.

A couple of giant steps forward lately, and another is that I successfully trimmed 6 or 7 hooves on my own yesterday.  I have to go back and check Amelia's because she wanted to quit before I did and I am not sure how the last ones ended up.  I do know that  since we put in the water trough with the gravel around it, the sheep don't need their hooves trimmed as often. Yay.

Must go out with the camera tomorrow and document whats going on in the barnyard and it is time to rotate to the next pasture.  Always an exciting day for the sheep.  I will try to catch a few smiles.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


A week into October, just got back from another few days away.  All seems good on the farm.  The sheep are out grazing more of the day.  Unfortunately, they found something that let loose a bunch of seed all over their faces.  Oh well what can I do, they don't seem to mind?

I should start halter training but keep putting it off.  One day it will be just the right day and I will begin.  I need to trim hooves too and can't put that off too long.  Most of the sheep are getting more trusting (most of the time) so jobs are easier.  But, they still seem to know when I am just giving out treats and scratches or when I have something else in mind.

I have been more in the fiber faze and trying to finish scraping the ceiling of the cabin faze lately.  I will be very happy when the ceiling is done.  It shouldn't take long to paint everything and then we plan to begin the farm stays part of the farm operation.

John went to the lumber mill today, to get the rest of what he needs for the fiber shed, among other things.  It will be nice to have more windows letting sun in the fiber shed, as the days get cooler.

What LOVELY weather we have been having.  The perfect weather to follow the hot summer we had and it started before it was officially fall.

I am really enjoying the balance in my schedule these days.  Just a little more time with the sheep and a few more hikes and I will be completely content.

Friday, September 28, 2012

It Has Been Busy Lately

trying to get the right picture for a sketch 

Amelia glad to see me

the stately pose from a silly girl

the wallpaper is gone

making progress on the fiber shed

It has been busy around here.  And off farm, I set up a nature weaving project at Boxerwood, started the after school fiber workshop at the middle school, submitted all the forms for next years tourism booklet, and continue to meet with my small business consultant.

Right now I am in the middle of my 4 days off on my new fall schedule.  I never know what day it is if I am not at school, Boxerwood, or a river.   Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are full of responsibilities and I squeeze in yoga and Tai Chi.  Thursday through Sunday are free. 

Monday, Karen came over and helped me remove wallpaper in the cabin.  It came off easily.  I was kind of sorry to see it go but it does seem lighter and fresher.  Ruckus was Thursday and everyone liked the new look even though it is not done.  

The fiber shed is clean again.  With all that has been going on it got cluttered, so I cleaned it for Ruckus Day.  Had to stop in the middle to identify a small snake that had moved into a mouse nest of fiber in a rolled rug John had given me.  The snake checked out O.K. but I still gave the rug back to John.

The County Extension office just got a premo microscope given to them so I have to go check it out.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Special Attention

 I wonder if the sheep here know how fortunate they are.  They might think all sheep are offered kale and carrots for snacks.                                
            It is hard to tell how much Norma Jean likes the kale because this is the moment before I had to hold on tight because she was devouring it.

Norma Jean and Gretta think kale is superb.  Zorra can eat a whole carrot if you let her.  Most love pumpkin seeds and ate a hole in the bag when I didn't get them out fast enough.  If I had 20 sheep I wouldn't probably give them the same kind of treats, but with just 9 it is not so bad.

Growing up with many siblings, we didn't eat exotically.  We rarely went out to dinner.  I used to have piano lessons on the other side of the city, for some reason, and I got to go out for dinner after sometimes. That was a real treat for me.

I still like to go out for dinner now.  Partly, it is that I don't have to plan what we are going to have and then stop what I am doing to prepare it, but I finely realized (in the shower the other morning) that, both now and then, it is probably more about the attention.  Someone sitting across the table listening to me, is one of my favorite things.  A cup of tea with a friend is as good as lunch out.  Tea is good because it takes awhile to cool.  Meals here, are more about the making.  It only takes a few minutes to eat and then we are off to do whatever it is we are doing.

So- it is attention that I crave?  Interesting.  Why did it take me so long to realize that.  Did I not get enough growing up?  I thought I did, then.

I hope I gave my girls enough attention,  I hope I give my husband and the sheep enough attention now.  I will think about that this week.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

More Chicken Craziness

Another BEAUTIFUL autumn like day.  The kind of day that one skips to do farm chores.  The humidity is gone and there is such a light feeling to the body.

Yesterday was just as nice so I took the hose and sprayed the chicken coop out really good and the nesting boxes as well and drilled holes to drain the water out of the nesting boxes.  I left the big door open to help dry everything out.  Today, the coop was very dry so I put fresh straw in it to ready it for the return of the chickens which I thought would be in the next week or so.

Tonight, I went down to let Brown 2 in because I knew she had been out earlier.  To my surprise, instead of finding her just outside the gate, I found her on top of the gate.  For the first time, she flew up but she didn't fly down so I gave her a little nudge to complete the experience of flying over the fence.  It was dusk so she was a little foggy about where she was going and she walked up the chicken ladder of the coop and went in (another surprise).  I went to check on the other chickens to see if anyone wanted to join Brown 2 in the coop.  I found Black 1 on the half wall in the barn where three have  regularly been roosting, I found Brown 1 on top of the closet, and I didn't find the araucona at all.   I took Black 1 and put her in the coop so at least 2 are sleeping together.   Crazy chickens.  At least they are laying again, except for the araucona (or at least no green eggs with the others).  I hope she shows up tomorrow.  I saw her around 6:00 P.M. and she was fine then.  Sometimes they roost at different times so I won't worry yet.  I wonder if all chickens are so scattered or if it is just the chickens at Cabin Spring Farm.

Most of the sheep let the chickens ride on their backs but Norma Jean didn't want Brown 2 on her back today.  I wonder if it was just today or if she doesn't like it.  Norma Jean has recently decided that she likes to get scratched around the ears and under her chin.  Now most of them like it but not Gretta or Annie.  Time to do clicker training again.  I want to halter train all of them so it makes sheep chores easier.

Took more sheep photos today but then when I thought I was getting some good ones the batteries failed.  Maybe tomorrow will be another fine day and I can get caught up with outside loose ends.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Chicken Raid

The broody hen was killed in a night raid.

This morning when I went to check on the broody hen, she wasn't there.  There was one black feather and some broken eggs.  I hoped she had just been frightened by something and was holed up somewhere else.  This evening John thought to look in the chicken coop where none of the chickens have been for weeks.  She was there but dead.  She got out of the closet in the barn without being captured and thought she would take cover in the coop but something followed her in and attacked her.

It is interesting that you can determine what the predator was by the remains.  I had forgotten what each predator does but looked it up again tonight.  It sounds like it was something in the weasel family.  Weasels are pretty skinny and can get through anything bigger than 1"so can easily go through the fence.

According to what I read, the weasel is suppose to be the farmer's friend.  They eat mice and other rodents and usually eat whatever is most plentiful.  I didn't know the skunk was in the weasel family so actually it could have been a skunk.  The children's' message at church this morning was about skunks. Apparently there are an average of two skunks per acre.

Whatever the culprit, if they come back tonight they won't find any chickens or eggs.  I cleaned out the closet.  The rest of the chickens roost fairly high so may be O.K.  If it was a weasel the chickens are probably safer in the barn than the coop.  If it was a skunk they should be safe roosting in the barn as well. It was just not a good idea to nest on the floor of the closet.

In three years, that was the first chicken attack at night.  The others went missing during the day but not when we were around.

Black #1 or was it Black # 2, was a very sweet hen.  I shall miss her.  She was the one that was going to be a good mother one day and probably was in the past.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Loose Ends

Vacation is over and time to get to the list of loose ends from the summer.  Unfortunately, I can't find the list.  I remember several things on the list but some of them involve calling people I have lost the phone number for.  I found one number on my desk so maybe there is hope.

Most or many of the items on the list are farm related - I wish the humidity would subside.  Looks like rain today so that should help.  I should be mowing right now instead of writing.  Wish I didn't put things off so much then I wouldn't lose scraps of paper with phone numbers.

Part of the issue is that I have always had a difficult time at seasonal transition times; especially spring to summer and summer to fall.  Not really summer to fall, more like August to September.  I think it is a remnant of having kids in school for so many years.  It seems to take several weeks to settle into the September schedule.  I find myself getting out of bed to make sure dates are on the calendar.  So many new things in a schedule I am afraid I will forget.

Three of the things on the list involve taking pictures.  Pictures of the cabin because we are opening it up to farm stays soon and need to have good pictures for marketing.  Pictures of the sheep for t-shirts; again to promote the farm.  Pictures of favorite places to frame and put in the cabin.  I took photos of the cabin yesterday that came out great but the photo shoot with the sheep didn't go as well.  I think I need to have someone else take the photos as I interact with the sheep.  As soon as I pick the camera up they walk away or put their heads down.  I guess I just need to keep taking pictures and a few good ones may happen by accident.

Making headway on the new website.  Stay tuned.

Time to go mow and then I am going to felt a postcard.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Fish and Chocolate

 Seagulls fighting over a stolen bag of food, on the beach, breaking the lull of conversation and ukelele,
         Walking through Lincoln Square with 3 flavors of gelato dripping down the wrist, 

            Thursday night live band by a river,  
A lock filling with water on the mighty river, swinging high over the river, 
Peppers begging to be painted at the farmers market,

 Bonfire in the sand, blue moon rising over a great lake,
 Picnicking at sunset on the other side, 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Mystery Solved

Our latest broody hen would make a wonderful mother I am sure. Too bad the eggs beneath her are not fertile.  During the first half of her nesting I have only seen her off her nest once to get something to eat.  At that time, I took all but two of her eggs.

Since she decided to be broody in the favorite laying spot, I have not been able to figure out where the others are laying.  Yesterday, I decided to make a nice big batch of zucchini bread from the garden surplus.  The recipe called for 6 eggs.  When I went to the refrigerator, I found only one left.  I went out again in search of eggs but still could not find any.  John was going into town so I asked him to actually buy eggs at the grocery store.  Since we have not bought eggs in 3 years, John forgot there was a difference in eggs and I am sure picked up the first carton his hand touched.

Back in the kitchen, I decided it would not be such a bad thing using store bought eggs because it would give us an opportunity to do a comparison and remind us how fortunate we are to have farm fresh eggs whenever we want them.  Then I opened the carton and found 12 rather small uniform white eggs.  I knew before I even cracked the first one that we were comparing "apples to oranges".  But crack I did, and found the yokes were such a dull yellow instead of rich orange.

Never-the-less, the zucchini bread was wonderful and the fresh garden salsa made at the same time (with the help from a friend) was delightful as well.

This morning I went out early to follow the chickens and find out the new laying spot.  Brown 1 was not with the others so I went looking and listening.  Up at the barn, I saw her go out from under the wall of the closet where the broody hen is nesting.  I opened the door and noticed that the broody hen had spread her wings broad and just seen on one side were two eggs hanging out.  That was all she should have under her, but now looking at her she must have around a dozen under her.  Instead of pushing the other hens out, she must be allowing them to lay an egg and leave, and then scoops the latest egg under with the rest.

I tried to nudge her to get a few eggs but she declined and pecked me (politely).  I would insist but we are leaving in a few days and don't need the eggs.  Besides, it will be interesting to see what happens when there is no more room in the nest.

We don't sell eggs, we just have the chickens to clean up after the sheep but it would be nice to have a few more chickens and Black 1 or 2 would make a good mom and John is way out numbered gender wise; I wonder if it is time for a gentle rooster?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

"Meaningful Work"

I am SO fortunate to have a husband that likes to do "meaningful things".  That is what he called starting the new addition to the fiber shed.  He had been doing a bunch of small projects and decided to start on the fiber shed while still in summer, whereas I was thinking more like next spring or late winter maybe.

John has been digging the footings by hand instead of machine.  He would start early and work until it got too hot, which some days was 9:30.

And today, the cement truck came to pour the footings.  Cement is heavy but all went faster and easier than I thought.  It was actually fun.  Now, we just wait for the footings to set up and we can start the block work.  I say we, but John will probably lay all

the block.  Not that I can't, I actually
took a course at a technical H.S. near us in MA and laid some block in our house and my greenhouse.  It is just that I have a lot of "meaningful things" lined up for this week before we go on vacation.

One of the meaningful jobs I must complete, is trimming 28 hooves ( 7 sheep).  The other two sheep had theirs trimmed not too long ago.  I just put the word out, for help, this morning and already I have a volunteer to hold sheep.  I guess more people than I thought are looking for "meaningful things" to do. I could use more help still, as I have noticed that after 3 or 4 sheep, the fun factor drops off.

Also, I recently found out, that someone I know, was hired to be the new Ag teacher at the high school.  I am hoping that this will give me access to a microscope to do fecal egg counts.  Naomi suggested that I even let the students do the testing for me.  Is that like white washing a fence or will they look at it as an opportunity to do "meaningful" work?  I will report back.

Friday, August 17, 2012

33 Years

33 years ago today- Wow.  h.b. Wednesday.  Was that the same lifetime?  I never would have dreamed that day that I would be here today.

I was talking to Mira today and I told her about Wednesday.  I was wondering what she would have thought about Mira.

Could not have been here 33 years ago, or at least most of the time between then and now.  Too much sun, too many stairs, but I am here now and it is the right place to be.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Envisioning Protection

Remember the story of the guy who went overboard in a storm and was hours in the sea and as he was getting tired he prayed to God to save him?  As the story goes on, someone comes by in a boat and reaches out to the guy and he says something like, "that's O.K. God will save me; you can go on".  Hours later we find the guy getting worried but alas another, would be rescuer, comes by and is ready to toss the guy a life ring until he says, "God is coming to save me, you go on and see if anyone else needs help".  All good stories have a third occurrence and this one is no different.  And yes the same answer, "God will save me".   When the guy eventually drowns and goes to heaven, he asks God why he didn't save him and God replies, "I sent three rescuers."

Here is my dilemma- I asked for another guard llama and was offered a guard dog, an alpaca, and most recently two older llamas that came as a package deal.  I turned down all three - now what.

There was one guy who had a llama that he had for six months but didn't know how old it was and the story seemed a little foggy in a couple of other areas.

I found a llama on craigslist today, but it was an intact male and everyone says that is not a good idea except the guy selling the llama.  What am I to do?  Read less?  Think less? or do I still have opportunities yet to come?  Two other considerations are, that none of the llamas available are close and I don't want to spend a lot of money.  But then as I hear the coyotes in the distance at night I worry that I am not being responsible and tell myself, "what's money".

The time has come to ask in a new clearer way and listen carefully.  I think I will envision the animals here being protected and see what comes.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Playing in the Mud

Yesterday, I finally brought out the bucket of mud that is some I saved when Adam and I dug a hole to build a bird bath many moons ago.  Anyway, it was great letting it ooze through my fingers and spread it down my arms.  I know it is not the full experience that Karen had a couple of weeks ago in Roxie's mud hole but none-the-less awesome.

I have been playing "Keep Your Heart Young" by Brandi Carlile lately since Lyndy downloaded it onto my computer and also my new/ her old, iPod (yes, I confess, I have an iPod now).  I decided trying to figure out electronic gadgets will either keep me young or drive me crazy - either is better than getting old, which I don't plan to do, since my mother got away with staying young until she died at 88.

Back to the mud and memories of mud/clay.  One of my earliest memories of mud, was getting my boots stuck in it, when I was 5 years olds, and having to step out of them and walk through the mud in my socks.  The boots were probably way to big for me since I wore my big brothers's hand-me-downs for the first decade of my life (at least).  I loved making mud brownies too.

Advancing a few years, I remember a solar fest where I got to practice making cobb blocks.  That too was great!  You spread out a big blue tarp and mix together clay, land sand, straw, and water and stomp around in it until it is the right consistency to build with.

I went home from that festival and looked all over for the right ingredients, which were hard to come by on the Cape.  All the beach sand you could ever want and then some but few pockets of clay, and the rest of the stuff you had to buy at a premium.

Here, I have all the ingredients readily available, but just have't taken the time to put it all together.  At least yesterday I made a start.  One of the chickens looked back and forth between the bucket of mud and me for quite some time, cocking it's head and glaring at me like I had really lost it this time.

I want to make some little pots and bury them in the hot coals when I wash fleece.  I washed some, out front, a few days ago, I have more pre rinsing.

Still haven't had the family meeting, but John fixed the fan, I tied it up, and Charlotte (and all the others) are enjoying it for  sure.

 I guess I can't complain about the heat anymore, after a woman I walk with, told me it was around 112 degrees every day at her mom's place last week when she was visiting.

Staying coolish is all about following the shade all day when you have to do things outside.  In another hour, I can go check on my mud and see how it is doing.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Time for a Family Meeting

The sheep keep peeing in the barn and making it wet.  I put a fan in the barn to cool the sheep and dry out the barn and someone stepped on it and bent the plastic grill in.  Today, as I drove out the driveway, like I always do, the sheep freaked out and ran in different directions tearing down the electric fence in several places.  I had to go up in my "town clothes" to temporarily fix the fence.  Later, I went up briefly, to show the sheep the new gate, since it was time to rotate again.  I told Charlotte not to put her foot on me and get my good pants dirty, but she did.  We need a family meeting.

But mostly we need a family meeting to hear the sheep's complaints and comments.  The things I have been reading about sheep lately (actually all animals) is very interesting and I want to check in and ask the sheep what they can tell me.

I want to find out what stresses the sheep who reside here, since knowing that will keep them healthier than anything else I can do.  I have been reading how animals take on our stress and physical ailments to relieve us or at least to dilute the problem.  Very interesting indeed-- I need to read more.

On another note, I got my new McMaster slide (a slide for a microscope not a playground).  At $60, you should be able to do more than look at parasite eggs but, oh well, it should be fun.  Now I just have to find a microscope to use.  I have our extension agent looking into it and also I asked at the middle school where I am part of the after school program.  That should give me some perks.  Should hear soon.  When I am able to do fecal egg counts, I will be able to better monitor how affective my parasite treatment is scientifically, instead of wondering if it is effective and waiting to see.

There are other indicators of general and specific health, of course.  FAMACHA, body language, general movement, and soon to be, Family meetings.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Made it to the Front Page

A couple of campers, from earlier in the summer, came over today to have a fiber day.  They decided they wanted to spin for awhile this morning.   At lunch, one of them asked if they could do some dyeing with plants.  We decided to dye with Queen Anne's Lace.

Then of course we spent the rest of the day with the dyeing jokes.  "We are practicing dying (dyeing)", we love too dye,  etc.  When we googled dyeing with Queen Anne's Lace,  guess what we found on page 1?  An entry from 6 Sheep and a Llama, right there on the first page with 195,000 entries.  Amazing.

 The morning started out cool, (hot chocolate for morning snack) but half way into picking the Queen Anne's Lace,  in the afternoon, I heard across the yard, "are there any growing in the shade?"  The sun got quite warm but we managed to stay comfortable moving around and about.

The girls spun some yarn from some  white fleece. Then we put our Queen Anne's Lace in a pot and boiled it for a while.  We strained it and put the home spun yarn in the dye bath.

 The yarn came out a beautiful light shade of yellow.

We added some rhubarb leaves to get the next yarn a little more orangy but we ran out of time and let it be a slightly different shade of yellow.

What a great day.  I love fiber camp.  It is much more fun than registering with eVA and working on the website and marketing in general.  If I can make it to page 1, I should be able to have a marketing department, shouldn't I?

Monday, July 30, 2012


I guess it is time to make a new blog entry in case there are some out there who are getting dizzy looking upside down.  But before I leave the subject, John and I went on a picnic at one of our favorite spots, Goshen pass, where a river cuts through the mountains, and I tried it there.  I looked upside down between my legs and saw some people -- tiny, attached to the earth by their feet leaning into space.  STAY GROUNDED AND FLY, that is my new moto.

It is funny, I don't like big planes but I would love to fly myself -- maybe holding on to the tip of an eagles wing.  Several years ago, I went to a Holodynamic conference and we sat in small circles and intuited the strengths, one by one, of the four or five in our group, a very short time after first meeting.  It kind of "blew me away".  I still have the little scrap of paper with the attributes the others saw in me and I read it from time to time.  The last thing on the list was the word flying.

I have often wondered, how can I fly? what does it mean?  But I think she was right and her (a girl in my circle) saying that word about me has empowered me, I think.  Courage, was not on that list, and I have never really thought about hang gliding or parasailing.  So if I want to fly I may have to do it with my feet on the ground.

One of the chickens who lives here, can't fly.  She paces when the others go over the fence.  Most of the time, she knows where to be when, so she can get in or out.  I wonder what she thinks about not being able to fly, at least physically.  And what about the sheep?  Do they ever watch a bird overhead and wonder what it would be like to fly?

A good friend of mine has dreams about flying, frequently.  I have always envied her that.  I guess for me, it has to be thinking about what it would feel like and finding other ways to experience those feelings.  At least for now.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Looking at Life from a Different Perspective

Friday, my young friend and I went down to clean the barn.  I decided I could do more, so, with my wheelchair towed behind the golf cart we arrived at the barn.  We did a good job cleaning up and emptying and cleaning buckets etc., but 30 minutes later I embarked on cleaning the wheelchair, my sandal, and orthopedic boot.  That took as long as cleaning the barn.  What a mess.   I want to do more but everything takes so long to do and sometimes things seem a ridiculous effort.  Part of the problem, I am sure, has been the heat this week.  But alas, we just had a storm arrive so it will be cool again.  Will that make a difference?

For some reason, it seems like I can not focus very long on anything.  Yesterday, I did finish two small felting projects but still  it seems like my mind goes from one thing to the next and not a lot gets accomplished.

 Funny, I thought not being able to put weight on my right foot for 8 weeks would allow me to focus on a few projects  and get some things done.  First the pain got in the way.  Then it was having to have my foot elevated so much, now I am not sure.

I am afraid I am going to get to the end of the 8 weeks and think "no! I am not ready to go back to regular life- I haven't gotten the things done that I wanted to".

Maybe, the attitude of getting things "done" is what should be looked at.  Why do things have to get done?  Why can't we just continually EXPLORE whatever comes to mind.  It seems, eventually, we will get finished exploring some things and go on to others.

Although I haven't achieved much to look at, I have taken time to look at things from a different perspective.  In all the journey work I have done, this "suggestion" to look at things from a different perspective, is a subject that comes up over and over.  Maybe, this is what this broken ankle experience is about.

An opportunity to further explore "looking at things from a different perspective".

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

"CELEBRATE THE SNAKE" and Gold one and Gold 2

I knew I liked Betty, my small business advisor, the first time I met her, but today I really know why.

We are getting ready to offer the cabin for overnight stays soon and discussing marketing and the last few days Blake, the black snake has been hanging out inside.  The other day I went to the cabin to use the bathroom and there was Blake behind the toilet.  I had to wait for him to go back down his hole. When a friend came over Sunday to hangout at the cabin and focus on some paperwork, she met Blake on the landing.  I had told her she might see him so she was not totally freaked out.  Yesterday, I googled "snake in the cabin" and had some hilarious reading.

So this morning at our meeting, I told Betty about my dilemma. When Betty said, "celebrate the snake", I was quite relieved.  She gave me some great ideas about how to incorporate Blake into the whole package; educating the visitors about the importance of Black Snakes in a country setting.  Then, she started to get really silly.  She suggested that we have a prize for anyone who had a snake siting and could get a picture of Blake.  The reward she suggested was to have them come up to the house and show us the picture and have a glass of Black Snake Mead.  Then we could go down and put Blake out.  There is a place, about an hour south of us called The Black Snake Meadery.  Sounds like a great place to visit and I would not have heard of it if Blake hadn't be calling at the cabin.

I woke up in the middle of the night last night and had thousands of ideas running through my brain.  Amongst them was a recollection that snakes avoid rough surfaces so my idea was to go around to all the tiny holes and put sandpaper around them.  Easier than patching them all.  I guess more research is necessary but we all agreed that snakes are better than mice.

In other animal news, we have two new animals on the farm (more than that but two that we brought to the farm).  Gold one and Gold 2.  They are two comet fish that live in the new water trough.  There was a frog in there the other day but I think it has moved on.  Anyway, the water surface seems clean and nice but the water is a little green.  I will put some barley in it to clear it up.

This morning on my way to the barn, I walked by the peach tree as usual and checked to see if they were ripe.  What I noticed first was that most were missing.  I picked the last 8 peaches but found at least three times that many pits under the tree.  All in one night.  I am not pointing any fingers but I was quite disappointed.  What can one do.  We have an abundance of wild life these days and a  skink (blue tailed lizard) hanging out in the fiber shed.  At least I haven't seen Blake in the fiber shed lately.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

The Shortest Distance is Not Always the Best Route

The last time the sheep rotated pastures, I didn't close the previous one because the lower pasture that is the current grazing pasture is not available at night or in the early hours of the day.  This is because I still don't feel like it is a real secure pasture.

The last few days, I have been reconfiguring the interior pastures.  I am making the two upper pastures in to four.  When I go out in the morning and the sheep are in the lower upper pasture, I like to open the gate so that they can go down to the lower pasture to graze.  The problem is the opening in the electric fence between the barnyard and the lower upper pasture is up the fence a bit, not down in the bottom corner, because of a ditch and uneven terrain.  Sometimes, I have to get the sheep to go uphill to go downhill.  It works if all are coming to the barnyard to meet me but if a few linger grazing and I take the others down to the gate, the stragglers want to go down to the corner where there is not an opening. They want to go in a straight line which is the shortest distance but alas there is fence when they get to the bottom.

I remember when I first put the fence up and I went down to the barnyard after dark. I called the sheep without thinking (or thinking as a human).  Mira came running and ran right through the electric fence, tearing it down.  It was the shortest route to my voice.

I wish I could find any route, except the shortest, to fixing the Cabin Spring Farm website.  The shortest  would be to have my nephew totally fix it, but that would make me dependent on him again.  He has a life and is not local so that is no longer a good option.

A friend reminds me, that even when you do get things working on the computer, things change and there is more to learn.  That is true, but I really feel, if I want to promote Cabin Spring Farm and have people find us, I do need to rely on the internet (not everyone reads flyers on bulletin boards any more).

I think next week I will find an answer to my "website woes" and I will be able to get back to fences and gates; somethings that you can see where they are and where they are going (as long as you are not a sheep).

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Caught in the Act

I used to think it was deer that ate the peaches off the tree, then someone told me that deer eat them off the ground and it is squirrels that nock them off the tree.  I felt so bad that I was blaming the wrong animals.  Well, a couple of days ago I found the real culprit.  Click on the photo above to see who it is.

The rabbits have been so good about eating the grass and not bothering the veggies here and there or the roses but I didn't know they were eating the peaches.  At least he didn't go from one to another- he filled up on the same one.  I have been waiting for weeks for the peaches to get ripe.  They get bigger and bigger but just don't seem to get soft.  And now, they are getting so heavy that the limbs are hanging low.

I think this rabbit has been hanging out with Gretta, our ballerina.  It has the same keen balance on its hind legs.  Gretta, goes for locus limbs and sometimes holds them down for the other sheep to eat.

 It has been raining again!  It was SO dry and hot for way too long.  When that happened everyone got into a schedule of what to do for themselves and the animals to survive and  I  finally feel like I am somehow in sync with the universe and get ideas of what to do, when.

Yesterday, I took advantage of the rains softening the sheep's hooves and my great nephew-in-law being here, and the two of us trimmed hooves on two sheep that were missed the last time around.  He was a natural and now he can go back to Utah and tell his friends he knows how to wrestle a sheep and trim hooves.  My great niece has the pictures to prove it.

This morning I sowed chicory seed in one of the pastures for extended fall forage.  Our forecast is for 10 days of scattered showers.  Better that Mother Nature water the seed in than me.  What a relief to have rain again.  Now if it would cool off a little more.

Speaking of Getting Caught in the Act, if anyone has gone to the Cabin Spring Farm website lately, they have seen that I blew up the website and have not yet figured out how to put it back together.  Since Cal put it up in the first place, I called him and he retrieved the content and is letting me try to rebuild it.  Not my strength for sure but I need to figure this out.  I wouldn't mind a little help from my friends,  along the way, though.  Even just a little encouragement would be appreciated.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Independence Day

First thing this morning, I Freed the sheep and let them go down to the lower pasture.   They loved it for an hour or so but then decided to go back to the barn.  I am going to start closing the gate and leaving them in the lower pasture for longer periods of the day now that I have a hydrant down there and more secure fence.  But not today, because we won't be here all day and it is too hot.

The heat wave continues and still much of the county has no power.  I am glad we do so I don't have to haul water from the spring, but I could if I had to.

I was over to Naomi's this morning and it looks like a tornado went through her farm.  We were talking about how sheep are critters of habit and how hers had to find new shade.  They are up by her house and look pretty content.  She too has a spring and she had to move all her sheep into that pasture because all the troughs need power to get the water to them.  I asked her about the rams and she said she hoped it was too hot for them to get any ideas.

Talk about independence, Naomi is very independent and doesn't ask for much help even though her husband died last winter.  A neighbor came down and sawed through a large Tulip Poplar blocking her driveway, but just wide enough for her pickup to get through.  John and Charlie are going over to cut up some of the rest of the trees when the heat breaks.  Naomi also has not had phone service and a lady from Tennessee was suppose to come tomorrow to pick up some sheep with a trailer which would not make it down the driveway.  She said her cell phone kept calling wrong numbers so we got through to the lady on mine.

I think it takes a good storm to see how independent people can be.  Town and county services are doing all they can, I guess, but it isn't enough.  It always takes neighbors helping neighbors and friends helping friends.  People are putting things in other's freezers and showering where they can.  One of the  hardships I didn't think of was people being cut off from their computers and cell phones.  Some people are charging their phones in strange places.  I told a lady in the library that I was going to email all my friends to see if they needed a place to stay and she said if they did they wouldn't get the email.  Good thing my friends are independent.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Fortunately and Unfortunately

We had a POWERFUL windstorm last night.  It was SCARY.  Fortunately all is well this morning.

Unfortunately it was dark and there are too many trees between the house and the barn to risk going down there last night.  Unfortunately the chickens had gone to bed but fortunately they are O.K. this morning.  Not sure where they slept last night, don't think they could have held on to the stanchion they have been roosting on.  Fortunately animals seem to know when severe weather is coming.

When we went down to survey the situation this morning we found medium and small limbs down but fortunately no trees.  Unfortunately there were a lot of small wild cherry leaf clusters and small branches  all over which are poisonous to sheep but fortunately there were more branches of locus which seems to be the sheep's favorite.  Fortunately the cherry is only poisonous in the wilt stage and I was able to get it up before that.  Unfortunately there is more in the upper pasture but fortunately the upper pasture is closed off to the animals now.

Later, I went down to town to pick up sheep feed I had ordered at the farmer's co op.  Unfortunately they didn't have power but fortunately they were charging things to peoples's accounts.  I went to the bank but unfortunately the ATM was down so I couldn't get money.  I decided to go to Kroger to get money but unfortunately they were closed too.  Fortunately I ran into a friend who loaned me $20 so I could go to the Farmers' Market to get a few things.  Fortunately the Farmers' Market doesn't need power to operate.  Fortunately I did not spend all the money because unfortunately I needed gas.  There were only a couple of gas stations open and they had long lines.  Unfortunately they could only take cash but fortunately I had $10 left and ended up in a short line.

Many downed large pine and locus trees in town and much of the area is without powder but Very fortunately there are many creeks and rivers where people can cool off.

We have no loss of trees or power -- I feel very fortunate.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Interesting Animal Behaviors

I think the invisible eggs hatched today.  Hard to be sure because the chicks are invisible as we might have guessed.  This was the due date and the broody hens abandoned their invisible nest.  Hopefully we will start getting visible eggs laid for us to eat soon.

Our neighbors must be wondering why they haven't been getting any eggs lately.  Between the two hens being broody and the snake snacking, we have eggs, few and far between.  I did get one egg yesterday and one today so we can eat pancakes and bake cakes.

The two hens that were broody are no longer sleeping on top of the closet but they are not roosting on the stanchion with the others either.  They are roosting on the half wall in the barn which would be O.K. with me but they poop there and there is a danger that their poop will end up in the sheep minerals bin which is screwed on one side of that wall.

I do enjoy the chickens most of the time and they do a pretty good job of cleaning up around but they are a little nuts sometimes, that is my opinion.  And the problem is, I think we need more chickens.

Maybe we need geese too, I am not sure.  I know we will need fish soon.  I am waiting to see what comes to us next in the way of farm animals.  I have been checking out Craigslist but I am not going to rush into anything, I am just going to put the feelers out.

The sheep were not going into the lower upper pasture much so John bush hogged the pasture to make it more like the barnyard but a little taller.  But they still prefer the barnyard.  It is too warm to close them into a pasture with little shade so I keep the gate open and they don't spend much time out in the correct pasture.  I decided to let them go into the area behind the garage/barn a little early in the grazing cycle because that would be better than eating the barnyard over and over.  They were very happy and even went into the new wild area and were grazing on tall stuff over their heads.  I have to check out tomorrow to see what it is that is so exciting over there.  It was a little late tonight.  I need a little fine tuning with this pasture rotation.  At least when they go down into the lower pasture next week there is shade down there.

I can't wait to see what everyone does tomorrow.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Lovely Summer Days

Another productive day.  I continue to amaze myself.  I just keep finding a way to make a difficult job reasonable for me and then do it.  

Today was a little easier, with a cool, beautiful, clear, dry, day.  Wish we could have a few more but it is suppose to get in the low 90's for a few days.  Tomorrow may be just 85 so I guess I better finish my ditch to get water to my vegetable garden.  Why not- I am on a roll and I know 90's are going to drive me indoors to my closet projects.

I took some great pictures yesterday and I thought I would inspire or guilt Gail into posting some.

Gretta under a Rainbow

What a Charming Place
Opening for Farm Stays Soon

The Mimosa  was Exquisite this Year

A Peaceful Evening

Monday, June 25, 2012

Let there be Music and a Little Light Once in Awhile

I was sweating before 9:00 A.M. this morning.  I was playing electrician assistant and drilling holes in timbers and running wire, stapling wire and pushing wire through conduit- usually the wrong direction. Then I was shoveling dirt into a trench.  I just went out to check out the new light in the fiber shed; not bad.

Tomorrow, I shall have music that doesn't go out because the battery drains.  I know I didn't think I needed electricity in the barn or fiber shed but, I am beginning to think of more and more I can do with


The barn was done last week and I only had the light on one night when the sheep were near the barn.  I couldn't get a sense of whether they liked it or not but I know they will like to have music once in awhile.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

"Summer Time, and the Living is Easy?"

Five days again, how does this happen?  I am not even on vacation.  Two very successful weeks of fiber camp are over and I guess this coming week I will take care of some things that were put aside.  Hope the weather cooperates.  I have got to get up earlier but it is hard when I wake up at 3:00 and don't feel like I get back to sleep.  Most nights aren't bad though.

When we were having all the work done here, we put electricity in the barn and ran wires to the fiber shed so I can put a flood off the fiber shed toward the garden and then I could work in the barn, fiber shed, or garden at 3:00 A.M.  That would make for a long day!

Officially summer and how different it is here compared to the Cape.  We used to have a long string of family and friends visit in the summer- now it is usually spring for visitors or perhaps autumn.  We do have some family scheduled and some considering.  One of my sisters is a new grandmother so I am hoping her grandchild will get her to the east coast more often.

Still haven't gotten all the vegetable garden planted but I am not going to beat myself up.  We have a long season here and I can still plant some things.  Next year, there won't be so much prep work in the garden and I will be able to plant earlier.

For me summer is about swimming in the rivers and last night I had my feet in the Maury after a dinner out.  It is a mountain river and it was not at all cold.  Well, maybe in the deep pools, but I had my feet in the shallows.  The pass is SO beautiful now, the wild Rhododendrons are still blooming.

I like summer if it doesn't get too hot or last too long.  The sheep think it is too hot already and lay in the shade all day except early, early and late.  In the cool of the mornings sometimes they run back and forth across the pasture.  It is so fun to watch; they are like new lambs.  I am very pleased it still gets down in the low 60's or even 50's at night.

Ah Summer,  when will autumn be here?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Animal "goings on"

I don't understand chickens.  We had two go broody and sit on top of the closet in the barn.  O.K. that sounds normal.  But they really didn't have a nest, just sat on the boards.  When I went to put fertile eggs under the one that was up there at the time, I only saw one egg.  I slipped under maybe 6 fertile eggs.  A few days later we saw a broken egg on the ground so maybe there were only 5 left.  John drilled holes to run electrical wires and they never moved.  Noticed one other, broken on the ground a few days later.  Then yesterday, when the 2 broody ones were taking a break and getting something to eat, I looked up on the shelf and saw no eggs.  So do they hide them when they leave the "nest"?  Are 2 hens just sitting up there for long stretches with no eggs under them?  I don't get it.

The tire trough got finished today!  I went up to see what the sheep thought of it this evening but they were more interested in staying up in the pasture to eat.  When the excavators finished grading, they seeded the area and put hay down.  They put down nice orchard grass hay with seed stalks in it, so that it would set seed as well.  The chickens followed after the guys seeding and tried to eat all the seed.  Later, I saw the sheep eating the hay.  Hopefully, the animals won't eat it all.

Second week of Fiber Camp (new set of campers) started today.  We were down talking to the sheep and came back to the fiber shed and two of the girls saw a black snake in the shed.  The girls stepped out and I showed the snake the door.  The girls didn't get upset, they just calmly stated that there was a black snake in the shed.  We have seen three blacks snakes within the past week, or perhaps the same snake 3 times.  I am not sure how far they travel.  Anyway, I think it is time to give it a name.  I think Blake is a good name for a 4 foot black snake.