Monday, December 29, 2014


Gifts are Important.  It is a shame that giving gifts stress people, but that is important too.  And receiving gifts is an art and act that is equally important.

 Now that being said, not all gifts are equal.  There are gifts that will be treasured always and gifts that are immediately put in a pile to be re-gifted.  The important thing, from my way of thinking, is that in giving gifts we need to realign ourselves with the people we are giving gifts to and think about what is important to them, what their interests are, what their needs might be etc.  It is the process of stepping outside of ourselves that can be important.  If this can be done successfully, we might gain some new perspectives.

So this is where I have difficulties.  Someone once told me that you should give gifts you would like to receive.  I thought that sounded great but I'm not sure.  If you give a gift certificate for body work to someone that you love so that they can feel better, is that a good gift?  What if this loved person has not yet come to understand how special "hands on" treatment can be.  Still a good gift?  It is something I would love to receive, something I understand the benefits of.  I want the gift to be  "relief from tiredness and aches and pains".  That, I know would be a good gift.  I am just not sure I have successfully stepped outside of myself.

On Christmas Day, my mother-in-law had an encounter with an unusual step.  The encounter necessitated her visiting the emergency room of the local hospital.

On Christmas Eve, John's mom received many material gifts.  She is an amazing person.  She is an active gal with many interests so it is not hard to find a gift that you think she might enjoy.  I bet you though, that her favorite gifts were the pouring out of love and reassurance that she received after the encounter with the step.  She would probably tell you that taking care of the house needs and spending extra time with her were other favorite gifts.  I'm just guessing.  I am sure she would also like these special gifts to be re-gifted but not in the usual sense.

I think the hardest part for some people is receiving gifts.  Is it about not feeling you deserve something?  Is it about not feeling the other person can afford to give the gift?  All I can say here is TRUST that the person giving the gift knows what they are doing.

The only gifts the animals received for Christmas from me, was making sure they were cared for by loving people while I was away.  Soon I will give them "hands on" hoof trimming.  They haven't really come to enjoy this yet but it must feel so much better after and all I want for those I love is Joy.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Cirrus and Sal Answer a Posing Question

I have been going back and forth about whether or not to allow the geese to be out and about during the day when we are away  for a couple of days.

Kind of like trying to decided if a new teenage driver left alone at home over a holiday should be allowed to drive the family car across town and then a few days before you leave, he knocks over the neighbors mailbox, while changing the radio station.  The teen gives you the answer right out.

This morning, first thing, Cirrus and Sal were playing around and took off.  As they were heading for the fence they made a sweeping turn but still landed over the fence.  They walked up the driveway around the corner and up to the gate and waited for me to open it to let them back in.

I know I will have to deal with this at some point but not over Christmas and not from out of town.  There will be friends watching the farm but no one wants to spend Christmas wondering if the geese are wandering the neighborhood or pacing by the gate.  Kids!

At least this means I can put my new project off until after Christmas.  The sheep can't get in the geese run if the geese can't get out.  The door Will be closed.

Everyone has been enjoying the weather this week.  The sheep are out and about all day and resting up in the pasture.  The geese usually join them but sometime the geese do their own thing, especially in the morning.  The first thing the sheep want to do every day, is eat.  The first thing the geese want to do is wash up.  The puddle pond had a sheet of ice on it this morning and Cirrus was trying to figure how to get water up over himself through the ice.  I give them both a bucket of fresh water to bathe in first thing and they  take bucket baths.

I am glad the weather has been mild over most of the country for people to be out and about.  Good for the economy.  I heard something weird this morning that is not good for the environment.  I am raising the carbon dioxide level by losing weight.  I hope not too many people will lose weight at the same time.  I guess we are O.K. for the next couple of weeks- no one loses weight over Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, and New Years. The problem is the fat released is actually breathed out.  It causes CO2 to be released into the atmosphere.   So now there is a good reason not to lose weight.

Some questions, like where does your fat go when you lose weight, Cirrus and Sal can't answer, but the  question that has been foremost on my mind, they clearly answered.  The door will be closed.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Chocolate and Peppermint

A good title for a blog in December and one of my favorite combinations this time of year.

I had two meetings this week, both at the coffee house and I don't drink coffee.  I usually have tea but peppermint hot chocolate sounded good and they could even make it with soy milk (just like Starbucks).  They will make it with almond milk if you bring yours in.  I love how local places are so accommodating.  Both meetings were with great people and were stimulating.  Some times you just have to put on some clothes that don't have hay all over them and communicate with the 2 legeds.

Today, I actually went Christmas shopping but made sure the animals had some time outside the barnyard.  I don't let them go to town but I let them go over to the cabin and down in the lower pasture. They have had 3 such outings this week so they are getting used to the routine.  I drive down the driveway to the end, turn around, and drive back most of the way to the lower gate.  They walk slowly and politely to the lower gate and wait for me to open it and Cirrus and Sal give the sheep room to move through the gate first.

At first, the geese stayed in the barnyard even with the gate open but now they like to go out and join the sheep.  I love when all are respectful of the others.  Unfortunately, the sheep have recently realized that the geese don't always finish their grain at night and after I let the geese out in the morning, some of the sheep go in the geese run when I am not looking.  Then they are not so respectful and I have to get them out and close the door for the day.

  I have tried to figure out how to set things so the geese can go in and out but not the sheep and finally this morning, at 4: something, it came to me.  Later this morning, a friend who is going to feed the animals over Christmas, suggested an alternative plan that might work even better.  Now, I just have to find the time to implement the plan.  I wanted to find time to trim hoofs before Christmas but things are not looking good for that to happen.  If anyone wants to hold and hug sheep soon, let me know.

I thinks sheep hugs are as good and chocolate and peppermint but that might just be me.

Monday, December 15, 2014

First 1/3 of December

I am looking at December in 1/3s this year. The idea was to work on the pouches, pockets, purses, and puppets fiber project the first 1/3. Decorate and Christmas shop, the 2nd 1/3 and be in a quiet space the last 1/3.

 I didn't anticipate a cold beginning to December and a crazy accident.  So in addition to my fiber project, I spent the first 1/3, winter tending to animals, including 2 plug-in buckets, 2 feed bowls, 2 of everything for the geese since Sal had to be in a sss (separate small space) for a week. (That is a lot of ,s)  The fiber project culminated in a holiday shopping evening at Boxerwood. The event was a success in my book and a good day for me making connections and money.    Here are a couple of pictures.  I am proud of myself for remembering to take a few pictures though I didn't get pictures of the whole festive event, some of the puppets are missing, and not good pictures of pouches and pockets.  Oh well- some day.

So now, on to the 2nd 1/3, with many extras added in.  It doesn't matter as long as the 3rd 1/3 is reflective and quiet.

Friday, December 5, 2014

How Do You Entertain a Goose in Confinement?

Sal had a landing accident last Saturday.  We didn't see what happened (however, the next day I found clues) At dusk I went to put the geese in their run and Sal was sitting near the trough and didn't get up to follow Cirrus.  I went over to see what was going on and saw a tuft of down hanging from her underbelly.  I scooped her up and found a gash where the skin was opened but no bleeding.  She acted calm like nothing was wrong.

Why is it always on a weekend that accidents happen?  I called our vet and was advised to call the exotic animal vet in Fishersville where she went the last time she got into trouble.  Come on, farm geese are not exotic animals.  You have a cow, sheep, horse, goat, pig, llama and a vet from our local clinic will make a house call but you want to bring a goose in and they hesitate big time.  They take care of dogs and cats too so I didn't think it was asking too much.  A goose is similar except it has wings and feathers and it wasn't the wings or feathers that were involved.  To be fair, the doctor said she would call me back in 15 minutes to make sure I was able to get ahold of someone at the other clinic.  This was after I suggested maybe I would try to sew her up myself.

John had left for New England that morning but Lyndy was still here from coming for Thanksgiving and I was giving thanks that she was here.  I was giving thanks too that we did have a place to take Sal.  On the way there I held Sal, who loves to drive in the car and look out the window, and Lyndy drove.  The whole way there I reminded myself of the good I was doing for the economy.  They always say the best way to help the economy is to spend money.

Back at the farm, Sal has been on pretty good behavior in her small area of the goose run.  She is separated from Cirrus by a cattle panel.  This way he can go in and out the other door of the run and not get Sal worked up.  He does go about his regular day but spends a fair amount of time by her door or on his side of the cattle panel in the run.  Cirrus gets to swim in the tub and pond and Sal has to just watch.  I can't wait until Monday when she can hopefully go in the tub.  She is so tired of taking a bath with her water bucket.  This morning she tried to get into it.

I feel so sorry for her not being able to go out and have fun on the farm.  I came in this morning and googled "entertaining a goose in confinement". Unfortunately, all the sites were about how entertaining a goose is and about confined geese vs free range.  I guess we should all just be glad that the confinement will be over soon.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


This is one of those days that going barefoot really isn't practical.

Remember the misty woods from yesterday's blog?  Here it is today.

The snow is VERY wet so the sheep had their hay in the barn.

The the first snow for Cirrus and Sal.  Hard to see Cirrus except for his orange beak and feet.

Not the best day to sit under the hickory with a book.

A good day to work in the fiber studio, maybe, but not a good day to walk barefoot.

A Balmy Morning

Yesterday was amazing.  Almost all the ice has thawed.  Sal found a little to chomp on.

LOOK how polite the sheep are, letting the geese eat from the end of the hay feeder.

The misty morning woods were very inviting yesterday morning.

I keep thinking about my neighbor's barefoot path.  Chris and I walked it in late October and it was wonderful.  The barefoot path leads into the woods near the labyrinth at the Belfry.  Chris was going to leave her socks on but when I told her how amazing the path felt, she joined me in walking barefoot.  Parts are moss covered, some just clay, some carpeted with pine needles.  There are trees all along the way with laminated cards with scripture readings.  I think I must find an area, here on this property, to lay out a barefoot path.  

As I have said many times, I love to walk barefoot.  Unfortunately, there seems to be many times that going barefoot isn't practical.  That is why I have tried to make felt shoes.  I have 4 prototypes and I still  don't have what I am looking for.  When I was in Oklahoma, I bought some soft sole moccasins.  I love them.  It feels almost like walking barefoot. 

 The sheep and geese get to go barefoot all the time.  I wonder if they wish they had shoes sometimes.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The New Goose and Chicken Run

CIRRUS and Sal are so glad their puddle pond has melted.  It was frozen for several days.  

I love the ridges on their necks.    
Here are pictures of the new goose and chicken run.  It is really nice.  It looks a little over built in these pictures but it looks good in the whole scheme of things and I love being able to stand up in it.  Now the geese can swim at night when the water in the tub isn't frozen and skate if it is frozen.  I am not sure they like to skate though.

I just wish the geese wouldn't try to escape at night. They pace and dig and I am afraid they are going to let in what we have tried so hard to keep out.  

The geese love to get out in the morning and hang out all day with the sheep.  I wonder what they will do when we get chickens again.  It has been so cold that I think it might be better to wait until next spring to find out.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

A New Winter

Winter has arrived early to Cabin Spring Farm.  I don't think it got above 30 degrees today and it is supposed to get down in the teens again tonight.

Sal was walking on thin ice on the puddle pond this morning and broke through.  She scrambled out in a hurry.  They now have their blue heated bucket for drinking water.  The sheep are loving the new hay and the geese like it too.  The geese like to line up at the hay feeder next to the sheep but the sheep go back and forth between the feeders and the geese have to keep an eye out so as not to get trampled.  A new thing to worry about.

I got back from Oklahoma last night.  There was a dusting of snow there.  I thought I was going to have a couple of nice days while the cold moved into Virginia, but it was unseasonably cold in OK,  and windy.  It was my annual sister's trip and Judy found us a nice cabin in Medicine Park OK, 3 miles from the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge.  This refuge was the beginning of bringing Bison back from almost extinction.

We sang "Home On The Range"multiple times, told Bison jokes, or at least one, and got to see one Longhorn cow, a bunch of Prairie Dogs, and a small herd of Bison.  The bison are really cool animals.  The preserve has a bison auction  every year and I would be tempted to invite one to live at Cabin Spring Farm BUT we don't exactly have a range.  I wonder what the sheep would think of a resident bison?

O.K. the joke--   There were these two cowboys riding the range and they came across some buffalo.  One said to the other, "Now that is one really ugly animal, I mean UGLY".  The other agreed profusely and they rode off.  One buffalo looked at the other and exclaimed, "now those are discouraging words".  Not sure if it is funny or not, I keep changing my mind.

Back to the farm, farm chores, and farm clothes covered with hay.  Pictures tomorrow.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Where Does HARM Lurk?

 I had one of those draining days.  When I got home and needed to be refilled, I called a friend and then I went down to talk to the animals and hang out.

 There were turkey vultures gliding overhead, when I took the above picture.  I love to watch Cirrus and Sal turn an eye to the sky.  I asked them if they could tell a hawk from a turkey vulture at so great a distance.  They didn't answer vocally but maybe that was a yes.  Now that the geese are big, hawks are not a problem, theoretically.  When we have chickens again or when Cirrus and Sal have a family, I  imagine they will know what to do.   But how do they distinguish between friend and foe?  A few days ago, two neighborhood dogs ran across the property.  I yelled at them but the geese were silent.  Did the geese decide that since the dogs did not come up to the fence and look at them, that they were not a threat and it was best to remain silent?

The meetings that drained me today were filled with negativity and history, relationships and communications, or lack of.  It was all about "you can't do …….  or ……….. will happen.  Where does harm lurk?

I am on the board of a very special organization and the chair of PR and publicity.  I am still at the stage where I have hope and enthusiasm and I am looking for a place to make a positive change.  I NEED a starting point but I had to repeat that many times before I got the support I needed from my committee.

I am often accused of being a GIF (a good ideas fairy).  O.K., I get that many people do not like over zealous new bees, but please just offer a place from where change can begin.

So, there are days like today and there are days like yesterday.  In the morning, yesterday, I worked with kids (always refreshing), and then I came home and emptied the geese's puddle/pond.  I went down to the creek and collected some smooth stone to put on the bottom and then filled it again.  John said it was clear when he went down to let the geese out this morning but when they got in it , they muddied it up.  Nothing like it was though.  I just need to collect some additional stones.

When there was green in the water I found myself asking, "where does harm lurk?" I  moved the geese's overnight pen to new grass and gave the sheep their Garlic Barrier ™ .  Now I can go away for a few days to get even more renewed, feeling that harm does not lurk nearby.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Halloween- Boo

Out in the county, we don't get many "trick-or-treat" ers.  Sometimes, like today, I am in town when the  Lexington area children parade down the streets picking up treats from all the stores.  Fun to see but unfortunately not many exciting costumes.

Every change of season is like Halloween to the sheep; scary.  Now that it has gotten cold in the mornings, I might where a sweatshirt with the hood up or an orange hat when I go out to the barn in the morning.  When winter arrives, maybe even gloves and a scarf, whoa that is scary.  Come spring it might be sunglasses, and summer a big hat.

Sheep seem to take things in mostly through sight.  The geese have a keen visual awareness but don't seem to mind change.  Some people would say sheep are dumb because the changes in clothing frighten them, but think about it, they don't change their clothing accept in April and that really frightens them.  It is like Halloween all over again.

Maybe it is good thing we don't get many witches and goblins.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

What Does It Mean?

Ukraine 61 United States 58--  Not football or basketball, it is the viewing numbers on this blog over the last week.  I love it.  What search word brought them to the 6 sheep and a Llama blog in Rockbridge County, VA?

 It is fun fantasizing that one soul in Ukraine somehow found the peacefulness of our farm and shared it with a friend who shared it with a friend who………..  I sincerely hope, that is what happened.    I hope that no one will tell me how else the numbers can get so high.  It is the first time that any country had higher numbers than the U.S.

I get viewers from countries I have never heard of and then I go look them up.  I follow a few blogs and have read a fiber one from Canada, but no blogs from any other country.  I must find one.  I bet there are more Ukrainians that speak and read english than there are Americans that read Ukrainian.

Other Countries on the list this week are France, United Kingdom, Russia, Argentina, and Canada.  I have a fairly regular reader in Denmark and one in Latvia as well.  I know who follows from Denmark but not from Latvia.

O.K. off to search for a blog somewhere away.

Remember, if you know how my numbers get so high; if you know "What it Means"

Saturday, October 25, 2014


I wonder what the average number of prototypes is before a product is produced.  With the shoe thing I am trying to come up with I think I am up to 3 or 4.

Today, I have been working on some puppet prototypes.  The first 2 didn't work out that great but almost everything that doesn't turn out as planned, becomes something else.  It is always interesting to see what they become.  I saw a show once where they talked about things that had been produced, that didn't sell that great for the intended use, but were later manufactured in a different area for an alternative  purpose.  Some of them really took off in their new life.  Wish I could remember an example.

The puppets may get a another chance to become puppets before I go to plan B.  Puppets are just so cool.  To turn them into something else would be like telling an artist he/she must become an accountant.

I do like the yarn I have been spinning out of 3 bins of colored bits of fleece that have been mounting up for a long time.  I am using the yarn to make some small purses.  I am really in color mode this fall.

 Maybe I will go to natural colors when winter comes.

Anyway, I am having fun making prototypes of Pockets, Pouches, Purses, and Puppets.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Fine Fall Days

A little frost, a little wind, day time temperatures in the 50s and 60s, dry sunny days, Lovely.

  Sometimes I wonder what Gretta is thinking.  She always seems deep in thought.
I got tired of waiting for warmer weather and decided to just use hot water in the cobb mix.  I think it came out good.
I was going to wash some wool in my BIG pot outside but it was too windy so I dyed it in the house and washed it after in a basin.  Sometimes you just have to do the best you can.

Yesterday, I weed wacked in the wind.  If I just do what I want to, regardless of the weather of the day, I can actually get a few things done.  And then when things are done, I can enjoy the Fine Fall Days.

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Post Card from Home

Greetings from Cabin Spring Farm, wish you were here.  From the lack of blogging lately, everyone probably thinks I have been away.  I haven't.  I have been Very busy, which is why, I wish you were here.

 Finished the dyeing project and presentation.  It came out good.  Now, I want to dye more from the dye baths that I saved in jars in the fiber studio.

 I made the geese's pond bigger and hauled away the fill.  I have not gotten back to the cob building to raise the water level because the weather hasn't been inviting for squishing.  I think I need to get Karen over here. 

I have had five people visit to check out the farm, fiber production and studio in the past week.  I alway enjoy visitors who are farm and fiber enthusiasts.  We have also had people in the cabin the past 2 weekends and expect to have this weekend.  One of our visitors was a teenage boy who helped me move the sheep.  It is always refreshing to have young people enthusiastic about farm animals.

I have had more time to get back in the fiber studio and these are the views out my windows.  I wish everyone had views like this from their place of work.

I think most of these photos would make excellent post cards.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A Schedule May be Hazardous to My Health

I have tried to make a schedule believe me I have, MANY times.  I tried schedules that changed with the seasons, I tried 1/2 day schedules, I can't do it.

I keep thinking if I had a regular schedule I would get more done.  But, if I can't paint a mud hall in a clockwise direction, why should I think I can keep a schedule.

Animals seem to like schedules or at least routines, it seems  to me.  I do keep a regular supplements schedule for the sheep.  Today, was the full moon (wow was it beautiful) so I gave the sheep their garlic barrier.  Sometimes, I give them a second dose the next day.  A few days later, I give them a probiotic.  Then at the new moon, more garlic barrier and maybe some dried herbs.  Apple Cider Vinegar in-between.  This paragraph started out seeming like I had at least a supplement schedule for the sheep but by the end of the paragraph, the truth came out, there are many variables in the schedule.

An artist friend told me that if I went out to my fiber studio for 3 hours every morning I would get into a working schedule and get more done.  It is not just distractions that keep me from accomplishing this, it is an abundance of other exciting opportunities.  I truly wake up (almost) every morning feeling like I am on vacation and I can do anything I want.  What a great feeling.

Talking to my friend Jan last night helped me sort some things out.  She said maybe I just shouldn't try to have a regular schedule.  Then she asked me if I prioritized.  I found myself hesitating, then realized everyone prioritizes, or they would be motionless.  But, the fact that I hesitated, made me look more closely at the way I prioritize.  One of my main rules is- "if the task involves something/someone living, do it first and animal over plant.  The rest can be completed later.  By the end of the conversation, we decided that I was somewhat deadline oriented.

This morning I felt a bit overwhelmed so I made a few lists, I think 5.  By the end of the day, I crossed off 4 things on one and 5 on another.  The other lists were for things not as pressing.

A meeting with Joe, was one of the top things on one list.  I was to meet him at the coffee shop where he plays music on Wednesday mornings.  On the way to meet him, I went by the Farmers Market so I walked through.  Some flowers I have been looking for, for dyeing some wool, jumped out at me.  Also a zucchini to make some zucchini bread I have been craving.  It was the last one she had left, just the right size, waiting for me.  And, on my way out of the market, I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned to find a friend I have been trying to connect with about some specialized plants for dyeing.  We made a plan for me to go over to her house, later in the day, to collect the plants she had, even though it was not on my schedule.

As I walked into the back room of the coffee house and heard the music, all my cares vanished and I felt grounded.  I said a prayer of thanksgiving for all musicians who spend countless hours playing music to calm the souls of mankind and animals the world over.

Synchronicity and Music is what is good for my health.

Saturday, September 27, 2014


We need to enlarge the pond and the geese are helping.  More later

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

How We Spend Our Time

At my journey group last Sunday, my friend L. was telling us about a conference she went to and challenged us to do an exercise that the leader of the conference suggested.

Here it is:  first take a few small pieces of paper from a pad of paper that are alike and write on each, one thing you do, most every day, that takes 2 hours of your day.  Then, take a few more pieces and write things, that you think you would like to do, that take a similar amount of time.  One activity on each paper, then fold them all the same and shake them in a bowl or basket or like.  Now, place them around the room, on the floor or ground if you are outside.  Take a few breaths to center yourself.

Before you pick up the folded papers, stand on each and see what feelings come up.  Pick up the paper you were just standing on,  and without opening it, write on the outside the feeling evoked e.g. frustration, exhaustion, boredom, joy, fulfillment, you get the idea.  Now pick up the rest of the papers in turn and do the same. When you have some time, sit and read what you have written on the outside and open the folded paper to see what activity brings about that feeling.

Are we spending our time and energy doing what fulfills us and brings us joy?  Which activities should we be carving out more time for?  Which activities do we need to abandon or change in some way?

I have not taken the time to do the exercise yet, but just thinking about it has peaked my awareness.  I look forward to more fully understanding where I need to make some changes in time spent…..

My conscious self truly does not know the answers.  My unconscious self will reveal all soon.

There are different kinds of writing--writing checks, press releases, returning emails, writing blogs, love letters, poems, and novels.  They must be separated as well as different kinds of reading.

Today was my first Boxerwood day of the season.  It was a river day.  My assignment was to direct the students in a nature painting activity, 4 groups, 13-14 per group.  It was a fun day.

The geese were probably wishing I would finish their pond that I began yesterday, the sheep were just excited to get a treat when I returned.

Tomorrow is another day-- how will it be spent?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Return to the Wild

John and I went to visit his mom in Ohio last week.  The last thing John did before we left was mow the lawn.  When we returned a few days ago, the first thing John did was mow the lawn.  We were only gone parts of 5 days.

In doing my routine walk around the property, I was overwhelmed with the growth- around the fiber studio, the veggie garden, the mint beds around the back of the house, areas the sheep haven't been grazing in a bit...   The dyer's garden is passable again with a minimal weed whacking.

Beverly, came over today and brought me lunch.  After our lunch we went for a walk.  I had not been up to the Belfry chapel in the woods and trails since last spring so we decided to walk up that way.  What we found was scaffolding in the chapel where a wood ceiling is being installed over insulation and overgrown trails.

Everything is always in a state of change and that is a good thing if we can let go of expectations and control. What a pleasant thought!

  Samuel Hawes Park, in Chatham MA is an amazing natural park with 3 kettle ponds and many trails coming in from all sides of the park.  One way to get into the park was from a remote corner of a parking lot of an A&P grocery store.  The store was one of those that the parking lot was much bigger than it needed to be and much of it was never used.  It was asphalt and it would crack and weeds would start growing in the cracks and I would fantasize that one day the whole parking lot would return to the wild and the building would come down and the park would expand and trees would grow up.  While this fantasy was playing out in my mind it was usually accompanied by Janis Joplin singing "they paved paradise and put up a parking lot".  I would always think "Janis, it is coming back".

It is a good thing that everything returns to the wild; it reminds mankind that we are just spending a very short time on this earth and then what we have moved or changed, can be erased for the next generation to move or change.  What is tragic, is when changes influence animal species which in turn can impact other species, for a more permanent interruption in the plan of life.

Tread lightly, like sheep and geese.

Monday, September 8, 2014


I think it was in my dentist's office on the cape that I used to read the poster about all the things you are suppose to do to live a good life.

There were all the ones you would expect like laughing a lot and and a hug a day and all that stuff, but the one I remember the best and live by is "say yes unless you have to say no" (or something like that). Too often people say no because they are used to saying no or it is easier because then you don't have to think.  I would recommend a long pause before saying no to anything (except maybe, carrying a terrorist's bag at the airport).

We got an interesting phone call and request a few days ago.  Could we rent the cabin to 2 juniors at one of the local universities, for the rest of September.  This was a plea from a woman who rents apartments in town, one of which was being renovated and was not ready yet.  In my mind, I said yes and no many times, before she was finished with her story and when she finally paused, I responded with the "let me talk to my husband" line.  John and I sat on the steps of his workshop considering many sides of the situation, before I went and called her back with a yes but…...

We have a couple of weekends booked-- no problem.  We don't have a reliable internet connection-- no problem.  It is pretty small, by today's standards, for that length of time, for 2 students (one of each sex- but not a couple)-- no problem. Well O.K. then.  The adventure begins.

The first thing I do when I wake up in the morning is consider the possibilities for the day's events, and I wonder who I might meet that I don't know already.  I believe, everyone has the opportunity to meet someone new each day, with few exceptions.  There is the commute to work, the grocery store, the gas station, coffee break, lunch, the library (Gail) ….. think about the number of people who cross our paths in a week-- all potential "people of interest" who could make a difference in our lives.  Sometimes, we have actually seen or met a person before, but then one day have the opportunity to learn something new about them.

With the animals here, I think it is the same.  There seem to be new deer, rabbits, mice, snakes, etc. every day.  Soon, I hope there will be new chickens.

I look forward to getting to know J… and K,,,  and  seeing what kind of connections we make.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Pictures from August Fiber Camp

I keep forgetting to post pictures of our last Fiber Camp of the summer.  When I go into my fiber studio now, to work, it seems so quiet.

a beautiful blue batt created on the drum carder

Spinning on a drop spindle.
Weaving a bracelet on a small frame loom

goldenrod, pokeweed, mullien, and concord grape for natural dyeing

 amazing homespun yarn

le chapeau-wet felting 

a fun bracelet

We had a fun week and now the kids are back to school. We will have to find time for some creative workshops this fall.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Hangin Out

 Cirrus and Sal decided to help me pick the grapes off the vines to use for dyeing some yarn.  They didn't eat too many.

It is so nice that the sheep and geese are working things out.  It looks like Gretta and Cirrus are best buddies in the picture below.

The sheep still don't like the geese to come into the barn when they are resting and the geese seem to respect that.

The geese have their pen and little house to rest in.  John says he saw one of the sheep checking out the pen the other day.

The fiber campers love the sheep and are fond of the addition of geese to the farm.  Everyone misses the chickens.  It seems like you can't find a free range farm that hasn't had a heavy loss of chickens recently.

I do want to get chickens again.  I wonder what Cirrus and Sal will say to that.  I have been thinking that when I schedule some workshops for the fall,  I should have the charge be $30.00 or 3 chickens-- kind of like the canned goods for the food bank for admission that some events have.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

August Rain and Rambling

It is raining AGAIN.  We have had rain everyday since, I don't know when, BUT it isn't constant rain, more like Denver Colorado where it rains every afternoon or evening.  Scattered T-storms.  The other evening we were sitting on the front porch watching the lightning outline big puffy clouds.  What a light show.  Brilliant!  Most of July was pretty dry so I am glad to have the rain.

Unfortunately, with my short term memory shortfall, I forget to put my van windows up and close the two windows in the house that are notorious for flooding the floors.  The barn isn't too bad, no one is complaining.  I remember when the barn used to flood badly.  That was before the gravel drainage pit was put in above the barn.

 I was just out mowing a small area behind the garage/barn where the sheep usually do the job.  It has been off limits for awhile because we had to remove a piece of the fence.  As I was finishing that area, the wind came up and it started to get dark so I decided that was enough and pulled into the garage/barn.  I was going to mow the lower upper field.  I am glad I picked the smaller closer area, otherwise, I would have been drenched.

I was down at the community festival earlier and someone  asked me how the pastures were this summer with the lack of rain.  We had some brown brittle grass in spots up near the house in July, but the pastures were good, do to dew (ha ha) and fog, I guess, and rotational grazing.

When it comes to rain, timing is everything.  We had a full week of fiber camp this week with the daily rain not really being an issue.  A couple of the days, it rained after 3 and when it did rain during camp it was still O.K. because it was on and off.  The kids love when it rains so they don't have to use the rain water fed sink water, in the fiber shed, sparingly.

I almost had a fleece dry on the rack a few days ago but then it keeps raining and re-rinseing,  I can't wait to see how soft the fleece is when it finally does dry.

With 467 posts and a short term memory shortfall, I never know what to title the blogs. Rain is probably in the title of a few, I know August is in one or a few, and rambling, probably many, so I titled this one, August Rain and Rambling and the titles of subsequent blogs will probably be longer.

Pictures of August Fiber Camp coming soon.

Sunday, August 17, 2014


Tomorrow, is the first day of the last week of Fiber Camp for this summer.  While cleaning the fiber shed, I was rewarded by a special radio interview with Paulo Coelho.  He is one of my favorite authors.  For those who don't know him, he wrote The Alchemist and several other books and writes a column in the "Intelligent Optimist"(formally "Ode") magazine.

It was a great interview, and I don't think coincidental.  Today is Wednesday's birthday.  I think of Wednesday when I think of Coelho.  Paulo, in the interview, was talking about how when he wakes up in the morning he doesn't know what the day will bring and he looks forward to the opportunities that may unfold and the people he may meet.  I feel that way every morning as well, and I imagine Wednesday did too.

Probably his most notable quote is

"when you really want something, the whole universe conspires in helping you to achieve it"

I heard an old interview with another person who I admired greatly, a few days ago.  I was tremendously saddened by the death of Robin Williams, last week.  The quote, that stood out through all the gibberish in the interview, for me, was "Life isn't for everyone."

  I think you can learn a lot more about someone listening to them being interviewed, than reading a bio.  You can feel who the person is by listening to their voice as well as the words they say.

I think I will begin interviewing the animals who live here at Cabin Spring Farm.  And I think I shall begin with Zora.  She doesn't seem herself lately.

Maybe I will interview the campers this week too.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Nearing the End of Summer

 THIS is who I share my fiber shed with.  I can't get over how big insects and spiders are in Virginia.  At least the snakes and mice have spent the summer outside for the most part.

I am not even sure what this one is -- all I know is it is big.  I think this is one of the flies that occasionally bother the sheep.  Anyway, it is time to move them out so we can have fiber camp next week.

It seems like autumn is coming early this year.  It is mid August and we have not had our air conditioner on since sometime in July.  The only really hot weather I can remember this summer was the last time we had fiber camp in June.  It will probably get hot again next week.

Robbie's garden down the road is mostly harvested and I picked most of the concord grapes in my dyer's garden a few days ago.  I made a wonderful grape pie and some grape jam.  The pie was so beautiful!  Why is it that I take pictures of these guys in the fiber shed and not of the beautiful concord grape pie?  I will use some of the grapes to dye some yarn.  I have some blueberries to dye with too.  I like dyeing with berries but I also have some leaves I want to dye with and of course some wonderful end- of- the- summer flowers.  A great project for the weekend.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Drama is Over

At least for today.  It was a quiet day at Cabin Spring Farm.  This morning I let the geese out of their pen but left them in their run area because I was walking with friends.  As I was getting ready to leave, Sal flew over the run fence.  I quickly put her back in and went off thinking, it won't be long before she flies over when I am not around.  I came home from walking and she was out again.

Cirrus has not gotten out without me letting him out--yet.  When I changed my shoes and went down to the barnyard to see how things were going, Sal was down by the gate, Cirrus was as close as he could be but still inside, and the sheep were resting in the barn.  John had just opened the gate to the geese run but Cirrus didn't notice.   I decided to let Cirrus discover the open gate on his own and just be an observer to the barnyard goings on instead of a participant.  A few sheep came down by the gate and I decided to let them into the area behind the garage/barn to graze.  Sal was still near the gate so the sheep had to maneuver around her.  That was interesting.  Some sheep gave Sal plenty of room, others just took the straight route and Sal had to make some quick moves.  It was all so much easier with one goose in the mix.  I had a story I had to write so I sat in a chair between the gate and the geese run.  At some point Sal went up to the gate in the run and Cirrus saw that he could come out, and did.  The sheep returned to the barn as Sal was walking up that way.  With both geese out, I stayed awhile longer to see if they would go in the barn and harass the sheep.  They didn't so I went back up to the house and fiber shed but stayed in hearing range.  When I peeked a little while later, the geese were resting outside the barn, the sheep inside, and all was calm.  I went back to what I was doing.  Later in the day, I went down to just hangout in the barnyard and sit in the sun.  Cirrus was resting too and Sal was entertaining us.

I am so glad things are working themselves out.  Usually, it just takes me figuring out how to stay out of the way.  I hope tomorrow is as calm as today.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Another Very Enjoyable Day

My friend who came to spin yesterday, went with me to demonstrate spinning at a County Fair in the county south of us.  It rained hard down there this morning before we got there, so things were pretty soggy.    It was a one day small county fair but until last year, the fair organizer told me, they think they hadn't had a county fair in probably 50 years.   So all things considered, I think it was pretty successful.

We were set up next to 2 pigs who were having a splendid time in the rain and mud.  Beyond that were the dairy goats that you could milk or feed.  4H ers and Future Farmers were showing their animals which I think was the main focus of the fair.  Fortunately, there were no rides so everyone was checking out the animals. One day is not enough time to set up rides.

With all the rain and wetness, there weren't too many fair goers in the afternoon but those who did come by were very interested in our spinning.  Some people stayed for quite awhile and my young friend taught at least 3 people how to spin.  I think we both enjoyed "being a part of the change you want to see in the world"…something like that is the bumper sticker you see around.  People need to remember why wool is so important, as much as they need to remember the value of real whole foods over imitation stuff and processed stuff (right Gail?)  What's cool is that people do listen and seem genuinely interested.

What surprises me, is two age and gender groups that seem particularly interested.
In the last five years, doing what I have been doing, I have found that boys between 8 and 12 and men in their mid thirties to mid fifties are fascinated with the whole wool process.

John and I both returned from our different adventures around 5 P.M. and later mentioned that the first thing we did on arriving home was to see where Sal was.  She was standing next to Cyrrus on the inside of the fence, which is great, since the first thing this morning she flew over the fence around their run.  It looks like she followed my instructions not to fly out of the barnyard but maybe she had an enjoyable day flying back and forth and all around.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Goose on the Loose

A friend came over to spin today and as she and her mom and I were talking I heard some squawking and saw a Big blur.  We went to investigate and found Sal walking along the driveway.  She followed me right back to her run and I's mom was quite impressed.  I don't know if Sal really knew what happened. I think she was just flapping around with Cirrus and accidentally went over both fences in one swoop.

When I told John about it, I told him I felt like I just handed over some car keys to a teenager.  Oh Boy. I knew it was coming but I am not ready yet.  Are we ever?  I have decided not to clip wings. The feathers grow back necessitating repeated clipping and when I checked out how to do it, I read that it is a 3 person job and if you are not SUPER careful you can cut the goose and they can bleed to death.

I guess I just have to do all I can do, pray a lot, and have faith.

I still haven't let the geese go in the barn with the sheep resting.  That is the last stage before letting the geese be out all day.  I wish the geese would get over all the teething stuff.  That is what it seems like; everything goes in their mouths.   I was sitting in the barnyard during happy(?) hour, talking to my friend Betty on the phone.  Cirrus came over and chewed on my pants and gnawed on the plastic chair most of the time we were talking.  When one of the sheep wandered near, he would go and harass whoever and then come back and chew on me again.

Tomorrow, I am going to be away most of the day and John will be as well.  I hope Sal doesn't fly the coop then or she will be out alone and distant from the rest of the animals who will be in their run or in the barn resting.  Cirrus, is a little heavier and hasn't taken flight yet.  Maybe, if Sal does fly, she will just go over the run fence and still be in the barnyard where she can go and harass the sheep in the barn.

My friend who was spinning with me today asked if I could put a collar on Sal and do an invisible fence or something like that.  I will have to put my inventor friends to work on that one; electric air space.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Wrong Side of the Fence

Fences are a farmer's best friend and obstacle to get beyond at the same time.  Farm animals are constantly on the wrong side of the fence.  Take yesterday for example.

I have been letting the geese out of their confined area when I can watch them.  The sheep and the geese are not easy going like the sheep and the chickens.  The geese peck at the sheep, which the sheep seem to enjoy up to a point.  But then Cirrus and Sal both gang up on one sheep and peck their ears, nose, legs, and tails all the while squawking loudly.  So I like to arrange get togethers in the morning as the sheep are coming back from the pasture and in the evening when they are getting ready to go out.  Visits in the barn when the sheep want to lay low are not good times.

 Yesterday, I wanted the geese to go out further toward the pasture in the morning but Cirrus wanted to take his morning swim.  If I go out with Sal, Cirrus gets out of the tub and goes to the closest point to us as he can, but inside the fence.  He doesn't know how to go around.  So then I took Sal back to the gate to have Cirrus follow us but this time she goes in the gate and wants to take a swim, so I closed the gate with both inside.  When I went out to where the sheep were, Cirrus and Sal came as close as they could but still on the wrong side of the fence.  Later in the day, I let the geese out and they came down by the barnyard gate where the sheep were.  Charlotte, decided to go into the geese area and see what they had to eat.  I am trying to let the geese know that the sheep are above them in the barnyard hierarchy  and I am the queen so I wanted to give the sheep a treat before I fed the geese and put them in for the night.  Charlotte was on the wrong side of the fence so I had to lead the sheep up to the geese gate so Charlotte would join us.  First though, I had to lead the geese to their pen and close the door (without feeding them) so I could get Charlotte outside the run fence to eat first.  Maybe, I should have let all the sheep in the run area and fed them just outside the pen.

Many would say, I worry too much and I should just let them work it out.  I am, but with supervision.  At first I was standing between them refereeing, now I stand with the sheep trying to get the geese to be nice.  The sheep do head butt the geese but the geese keep coming back for more squawking louder.

I want them to all be on one side of the fence, the right side, together.  I hope that day comes soon.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Garden Dream

The night I blogged about "why do I plant a veggie garden?", I dreamt I was leading a garden group (kids and adults).  It was the 1st day and I was expecting an intimate group of 9 and found myself before 15-20 students.  We did all the exercises about "What is a Garden?" like,
    close your eyes and think about a garden-- what do you see?
    notice as you walk along what vegetation combinations please you.
    get down on the ground and look at an 8"X10" plot-- what does it look like?

What I remember most about the dream, was how excited I was to introduce these people to gardening.

Once, when I was doing a holodynamic tracking, I was tracking - why I had a disconnect with my veggie garden in MA.  Turns out it was about not being grounded.  Hanging out with the animals and spinning wool are two activities that help me get grounded these days.

I think EVERYONE should have a garden or gardens.  I recently overheard a young boy proudly telling some people about his garden.  His favorite crop was his pumpkins and they were already, by his hand gesture, bigger than a basketball.  It was only the end of June, but it turned out he was talking about the leaves.  Anyway, he was very excited about his garden.

I have thought about making gardens for the sheep.  I started a hedgerow, but they ate most of it.  I realize that is what gardens are for but they need to be sustaining too.  That was back when I was using fences the sheep did not respect.  I guess I should try again with different fencing or protection.

Cooler weather is coming soon,  I should make a plan or have a dream about sheep gardens and explore what kind of gardens I should have.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

If Life Gives You Cucumbers.....

"When Life Gives you Lemons, Make Lemonade" is a phrase everyone has heard.  In the past week, 3 people have given me cukes, and each, at least 3.  So today, I made bread and butter pickles.  Charlie brought me more today, so I gave him a jar of pickles.  Why do I grow cucumbers?  Actually, I planted late so I don't have any yet.

It hasn't been raining much lately and I don't like to water the vegetable garden.  There isn't alot of water pressure and it takes awhile and I have animal chores in the morning and I am too tired at night and......
So, I have been thinking the last few days, that I should plant veggies in the compost pile where they never seem to need watering and plant something else in the vegetable garden.  I keep coming up with different ideas of what I should plant; it has to be something that doesn't need much watering- or maybe just much mulch.

I think the key is to plant something this fall when the beds are empty and it rains more and then when next spring comes I won't think I have to plant a bunch of vegetable seeds because there won't be any room.  Then, I can throw the seed in the compost pile.

We have 2 farmer's markets, 2 organic health food stores, a farm to you store, and a few CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) farms in our county, why do I need to plant a vegetable garden?  Just because I have for the last 42 years, it doesn't mean I have to next year.

"The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men......

Saturday, July 12, 2014

They Are Getting Bigger

Sometimes when I am waiting for someone to blog, I read old entries and see how things have changed.  I hope anyone out there waiting over a week for me to blog does the same.  Many times I read my blog of a year ago near this date just to see what I was up to.  Last year, I was struggling to get to the barn with a broken ankle.

Cirrus and Sal have grown SO much so we built them an elaborate set up.

They love to practice flapping their wings.

The only problem was that Sal escaped twice the first day.  We thought she was flying over but then I thought maybe she was squeezing through a square in the gate so I put some smaller fencing over the gate and she hasn't been out since.

It is great that we don't have to move the pen every day like we were before we built the play yard.

They haven't gone in the boat pond yet

but they love to hang out in the little tub.

So far they have been going in their pen at night, bribed with grain.  I hope they will continue a little longer before I have to except the fact that I won't be able to protect them forever and they are going to have to take care of each other.  They are such a sweet pair of geese.