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.