Thursday, January 24, 2013

Brrrr but Better than -12

Three days now since the temperature has been above 32 degrees or 0 degrees C.   But thanks to the new water system I am not hauling buckets of hot water to melt ice in the water buckets.  What a difference.  I am so glad they all talked me into electricity at the barn and John bought the kids a heater for their new water trough, for Christmas.  No more buckets with plugs and long extension cords.

I am SO spoiled.  All I have to do is put hay out a couple of times a day, check the minerals, rake occasionally, and check in with everyone.  The biggest issue now is the hard uneven ground that is difficult to walk on.  Amelia was favoring one foot a bit one day.  It must be easy to twist an ankle.  I know it is for me walking on it.  At least it is just down by the gate and the hay feeders.  I don't know which is worse- hard ruts or mud.

I was suppose to start training this week but with the wind and temperatures in the 20s I haven't made myself do it yet.  We are suppose to have a couple of more inches of snow tomorrow but this time it will be soft and fluffy instead of wet and heavy.

In a few days it is suppose to get warmer.  I kind of hope it does because I have much to do including hooves on 4 or 5 of the sheep.

John saw a hawk swoop down out by the barnyard.  Maybe after a chicken.  He ran down and waved it off and watched it go from tree to tree before leaving.  The chickens spent the rest of the day under cover.  At the end of the day all five chickens went to roost.  I hope the hawk moves on.

I wonder if hawks need more to eat when it is cold too.  At least it is not -12 degrees like it is in Wisconsin.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Washing Fleece with Snow

THE snow disappeared pretty quickly except on our property as usual.  But I am glad because I woke up in the middle of the night last night thinking about everything and I had a great revelation.

I still have a couple of fleeces that need to be washed from last year.  I like to wash them in rainwater but the washing pot is higher than my holding tank so I have to haul buckets from the closest point or use my handy pump.  Unfortunately my pump has been at Charlie's house because he had water in his basement  awhile back.  I kept forgetting to get it from him and when I finally remembered, I had it a short while before we had the heavy rain and he needed it again.

So last night it came to me; SNOW.   We had lots on the front steps, in the shade, where it falls off the roof so I started shoveling.  I got a wheelbarrow full and thought, "that was easy" but then John reminded me that snow melts down and doesn't = the amount of water you will have.  In fact, he said it takes 7 times what you want to end up with.  Actually the snow was so wet it was more like 3times.

Then I started a fire under it and played.  First I made it look like a big slushy.

Next I put more snow in and the fleece and had fun writing with the Dawn dish soap.  CSF- Cabin Spring Farm.

 It took awhile to melt the snow, so I went and pour myself a glass of sun tea,

took a picture of the moon and the beautiful BLUE sky,

went and found the thermometer in the fiber shed, and waited some more.

Slush surfaced from down under and bubbles were forming and it got a little too soapy.  This is one of those times that I say, "I should have taken physics".  I always think that every time I don't know why something does what it does.

As I started checking the temperature and it began to get warm, I started missing my hot tub, and Lyndy, and Jen, my hot tub and sun tea buddies.  John said we will get it going again soon.

The day was almost too much fun, and I felt guilty because the animals didn't get to come out today but I did wash their bowls and give them a treat.

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Next Generation's Humanitarians

THE snow storm came and left quickly, leaving probably only 3" which compressed to a couple since it was so wet.  Some of the roads were a little  ify first thing this morning, but the fiber gang made it.  Above is their first item they are going to sell for charity .  

Yes, today they announced they are going to sell some of their homespun and simple knit and woven  things, and teach classes in spinning and weaving.  And all the money is going to maybe Goodwill or the SPCA.  At lunch they were discussing prices and for the most part the prices are very reasonable.

J is the weaver in the group but we need to find a loom that works a little better for him.  

 C is a superb knitter who is knitting the first pair of fingerless gloves.  Next time we will work on some new stitches.

Looks like a few sheep ran through the living room.  A good day was had by all.

Thursday, January 17, 2013


red eye editing doesn't fix green eyes
The snow did come.  And with it everyone has to remember the snow routine.

  John put the chains and plow on the tractor (may get 4-8 inches), the sheep and Cher love the snow, but they eat in the barn to keep the hay drier and the ground around the hay feeders less squishy, and the chickens are suppose to take cover before it gets too deep.

Everyone did great except the new roosters.  I guess we should have

 had a drill.  Oh well, now we have. Too be fair, the sheep and Cher have been eating in the barn for a few days because we have had several inches of rain and the mud is getting deep.  The other night I went out to the barn after dark without a flashlight.  That was a mistake.  I was slip sliding away and I told the 4 leggeds they were lucky to have a couple extra legs in that stuff.

Still hoping we won't have to cancel "No School Fiber Day" tomorrow.

EVERY time I photograph this scene

 it is different.  It reminds me of a pond I used to go by everyday when I lived in Mass.  Never the Same.

Sometimes Big and Little looking purple and majestic, sometimes varying degrees of fog, sometimes a double rainbow..........

And look at the size of the snow flakes in the next picture.

It would have been interesting if the guy had been able to stay in the cabin.  He was coming to take care of his daughter who goes to Washington and Lee University.  He might have gotten snowed in.  That wouldn't help her, but maybe she would have come out and stayed in the cabin with him.  That would have been great.  Oh well, next time.

As long as I am fantasizing, what if it started to snow and accumulated quickly after the kids got here and then we got snowed in.  Five kids stuck in the snow- we could have had loads of fun.

More than 2" have fallen and it is still snowing but the snow is really wet so I don't know how it will play out.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Record Keeping

With so much going on, I should be blogging every day so things don't get left out- after all this blog is to chronicle all that goes on at Cabin Spring Farm.

I should go back a week to January 6th which was the day that we celebrated January 7th aka ROC Day or Distaff Day.  In olden days the women spun all of their clothes so they spun every day except for the 12 days of Christmas.  I guess they took those days to cook special foods and honor the holiday.  Then on January 7th, back to the spinning.  Every year spinning guilds around the globe commemorate the day by getting together to spin.

My friend Naomi and I organized the event for our town.  We had 12 spinners including 3 of my students.  We had a wonderful time all being together and a great turnout of people wanting to see some spinning in action.  Here is a photo taken by Jonathan Schwab who is one of the reporters at one of our local weekly newspapers.  This is T spinning on my great wheel.

Roc Day spinning1.jpg
I, once again, forgot my camera but others took pictures so I may be able to post more on the website.

John picked up the parts I needed for my new wheel so it is completely made up of my parts instead of some borrowed from my neighbors wheel.

Two "No School Fiber Days" coming up with one full already and the other with 2 spaces available.

And January's Ruckus Day scheduled in-between the two.  I will TRY to remember to take pictures.

A woman called tonight to see if the cabin was available for the next 4 nights.  I told her it could be but the heat and water were off and the painting of the ceiling in the bathroom not quite done.

She said she thought it looked "sweet" and she would call the next time they were in town.  The word is getting out.  I guess it won't do any good to beat myself up for not getting the ceiling done.  I am certainly motivated now.

I wish I had stayed home on Saturday when it was weirdly warm, but I went to the annual shepherd's symposium at VT .  Every year I think there will be more wool people there to connect with, but this wasn't the year either.  Just a bunch of "good ole boys" as Naomi calls them, just interested in doing business as usual and taking their sheep to market.  Nothing wrong with that I just keep waiting for them to noticed that their sheep have this wonderful stuff all over them called wool, except that most of them have hair sheep now because they can't be bothered with wool.

A couple of years ago I met a guy who wanted to start a flock of Black Cotswold sheep in Virginia and I think I even had his name but I lost track of the guy.  I am looking for a boyfriend for Charlotte in particular.

This blog is getting too long so I will take a break from my recording duties and resume tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

A Fine Day on the Farm

We woke up to 20 degrees and said O.K. this is winter.  But as the day progressed the sun came out and warmed the air.  John cut some wood at some friends' place and as we were taking it off the truck the sheep were calling to me to let them out.  Here is a glimpse of their day.

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Saturday, January 5, 2013

Smart Sheep

I bought a friend a book for her birthday titled, Unlikely Friendships by Jennifer S. Holland.   It is about animals that bond  with animals very unlike themselves.

One example is a bond between an elephant and a sheep.  The 6 month old elephant lost his mother when she fell over a cliff at a South African nature reserve.  The people brought in a sheep for the baby elephant to bond with because it had worked well previously with a baby hippopotamus.

The story mentions how smart sheep are.  Their intelligence falls just below that of pigs it says.  Sheep can apparently "distinguish between different emotions based on facial expressions and will react emotionally to familiar faces of various species"

A few days ago, one of my young friends from across the pasture came over for a few hours.  When we let the sheep out to come up by the house to graze, they were very nervous around my five year old friend.  I guess he didn't have the right expression on his face.  So I decided to start teaching human to sheep etiquette.  Number 1, I told him, was "Don't make eye contact".  Then we talked about "flight zones" and such.  It was fun to watch him walk wide around the sheep looking down at the ground.  Then he hid in the garage/barn while I put the sheep back in the barnyard and he is learning to open and close gates.  It was a great afternoon.

Today, another neighbor brought a New Years gift of apple butter and beets.  The sheep were up by the house again and when he drove up the sheep ran around the house.  He told me he didn't realize sheep were so nervous.  They are just cautious with new adventures.  That's O.K.

This neighbor told me one time he took a vacation out to see the grand canyon and someone was taking care of his cattle.  Apparently, he shouted at the cows to try to get them to go where he wanted them and they got upset.  My neighbor said when he got home, it took him a month and a half to get the cows settled down again.  I wonder where cows are on that list.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


2013 begins quietly at Cabin Spring Farm.   I wanted to take pictures of everyone  wishing our friends a happy new year, but it is a grey day and the camera flash kept coming on and other camera noises were distressing to Cher, so I will just say from all of here, "HAPPY NEW YEAR".

First thing this morning I asked John what he was going to add into his life this year.  I don't like new years resolutions so I don't make them.  I do, however, like adding things into my life, for any reason, but maybe especially for the start of a new year.  So when John asked me what I was going to add in this year, I said, "limes".

 I keep trying to drink more water.  I decided if I added limes to the water, it would be extra special.

 For my birthday, John took me for an overnight, over to the shore, and we stayed in a nice hotel.  From our room, we had a beautiful view of the water and the ferry boats with Christmas lights, and the tugs escorting HUGE ghost like ships.  We went for a walk, rode the ferry over to get fish and chips, and came back and had chocolate moouse, cheese cake, coffee, and hot chocolate.

This morning when I went down to the lobby, there were two large glass containers of water- one with lots of fresh strawberries in it, the other, slices of oranges.  The aroma, was amazing as I took each sip.  I drank 4 glasses of water.  I am constantly reminded how much I love the way the universe works.

Maybe we fell over the cliff, and the Greeks now have soccer teams sponsored by brothels and funeral parlors, but the UNIVERSE is still working quite well.

I remember reading somewhere how healthy lemons are in animal drinking troughs.  I will put lemons in water buckets.  This will be one of the things I will add into the animals lives this year.