Sunday, September 16, 2018

Saori Weaving, Natural Dyeing, and the Remnants of Hurricane Florence

No more excuses, I broke down and bought a new computer.  I am still figuring it out but I said "no more excuses". 

Here is a sampling of my new weavings with my Saori loom.  So far I am just using natural fleece or natural dyed fleece and yarn, so I don't have a great selection of colors.  There are many jars of dye bath in the fiber shed so I guess it is time to do some dyeing.  Many wonderful dye plants in bloom too.

We are starting to get rain from the hurricane now so the New England Aster will be beaten down and ready to be harvested.  The goldenrod is lovely this year so that will be one of my yellows.  Still looking for greens but I have some new ideas.  I think I just need to do more experimenting.  Look out the window,  GREEN everywhere so why haven't I found a whole pallet of greens?  

I was supposed to go camping with Rosemary tomorrow so I trimmed 12 hoofs to get that done before I went.  The rain is coming down heavily now so I am glad we postponed and very glad we got the hoofs done because it is going to be hard to do much is the barnyard for a few days.  Another good reason to dye some wool tomorrow.  

This might be one of those times that I go backwards with blogs to chronicle the County Fair "sheep to shawl" demonstration that 10 of us did and maybe a few other things.  

Monday, September 3, 2018

Communications Here and There

I guess I could go to the library to post a blog.

 This computer is becoming very unreliable.  I have gone through 2 used power chargers in as many years.  I think the reason Apple went to a different power hookup was that this one is a bad design.  It is time to to buy a new laptop but I just bought a new loom.

This reminds me of around 40 years ago when I was saving to buy a used car and ended up buying a small sailboat because it was more exciting and fun.

Cars and computers are Not necessities.  Boats and looms fill the Fun need.

This computer is actually charging as I write but  now the cursor is going all over the place.  I can't even find it unless I start typing.

Sheep have such an uncomplicated life!  No computers no phones no communication problems.  If they want me they just BAA.  The geese too, they are just a little louder.

When Gail was here she was taking pictures of the animals and the geese  were fine with it all until she started going toward the sheep.  Then they really put up a fuss.  Did they not want Gail to go toward the sheep OR did they not want to lose the loose attention.

O.K. it isn't always clear to me what is going on with the animals but they seem to understand each other well enough. I wish I could be with those I like to be with more often.  Face to face communication is just SO much better.

It has been a good summer.  Good fiber camps, good get aways,  good visits with family, good product sales,  but I am ready for fall and maybe a new computer since I can't be with the ones I love.

Saturday, August 4, 2018

A Thousand New Pets

Several weeks ago I had A thousand pets delivered in the mail.  Red wigglers.  Now I bet we have way more.  I real enjoy them; we don't have to let them in or out, I don't think they are much for affection so no petting required, but we do have to feed them.

I ordered the worms to eat our food scraps because there are a lot of things the chickens don't care for and I was tired of feeding the possums (they were messy eaters) and there were getting to be too many.

I am glad Uncle Jim, of Uncle Jim's worm farm, refers to the red wigglers as pets.  When you think of feeding pets you feed on a more regular basis and the scraps don't pile up so high in the bowl by the sink.  Now we have fewer pet fruit flies in the house too.

The worms don't eat everything but most things.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Fiber Camps

This summer's fiber camps were very different.  For one thing, we had more varied ages but not on the young side.  This time we had a mother/daughter duo, a grandmother, and a great grandmother who started knitting again after 40 something or was it 60 years.

We had SO much fun.

Our New Toy

Wednesday was the farmers market, Tuesday our new tractor came.  Today, I bushhoged the lower upper pasture- another chore checked off the list.

The exciting thing about this tractor is that it has a front bucket and a BACKHOE.  I have thought backhoes were really cool since I was about 5 maybe.  It was sad to sell the big blue Ford tractor but one can have too many tractors (not spinning wheels but tractors, yes).  Having a bucket and a backhoe makes more projects possible.  I think that is a good thing.  We shall see.

John scraped the driveway to his garage.  That had been completely covered over in weeds.  I want to dig the puddle pond a little bigger, John wants to make steps down to his garage,  he is also going to dig out the fire pit and make it nice.  I want to rearrange some soil by the compost pile and dig out some poison ivy.  I would also like to level some areas in the barnyard.  We may need to make a list with priorities.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Catching Up take *%(&$ (Farmers Market)

With SO much time between blogs I could title them all Catching up. Maybe I will just do several at once and release them a few days apart.

I always find that it is easier if I start with yesterday and work my way back.  Yesterday, I went back to the farmers market after being away for two weeks with fiber camps going on.  It was a hot day with just enough breeze to be comfortable most of the time.  Lots of people coming through and again many interesting conversations.  It is fun when there are so many people interested in what I do.

Yesterday's theme at my booth was "the insulating properties of wool".  Wool is not just for winter.  I wet felted some sleeves for milk bottles because so many people get their milk share every week.  This was a suggestion from a couple of customers.  I tested them on the front porch in the shade with two bottles of water next to each other, one with a sleeve and one without.  After an hour, the one with the sleeve was almost 10 degrees cooler than the one without and only slightly warmer than when I put the sleeve on.  Unfortunately, the milk people came by with very brief conversations about something else.  At least I won't have to make more before next week.  Who would think that on a hot day the best seller would be dryer balls.

I have been in the research and development phase of farmers market products for awhile and have finally decided what it is that I want to bring to the market.  For the most part, I will be producing "fun functionals".  (pictures soon)

I put some mulch fleece on one of the potted lavender plants that one of my market buddies was selling and a few minutes later a master gardener that was going to be doing an herb workshop came over and bought an ounce to give her students with  their take away herb plants.  (future customers)

I am not making millions yet but John loves it when I come home and tell him I made a lot of great contacts.

Monday, May 14, 2018

Catching Up

Where to begin...  Spring waited until I got back from the road trip out west but then immediately sprang.  So much to do.

The sheep were sheared on Tuesday but they have figured out who is who and barnyard life goes on.  We lost two of the new goslings at a time when I was feeling particularly sensitive about all the sadness that is going on in the world but I was able to use my accumulated spiritual resources, put things into perspective, acknowledge the world's grief, and reset.  I wonder if the animals think they don't have control of what life brings OR do they believe that everything that happens they brought to this life for a reason. 

Yesterday was the 3rd week of the outside farmers market and a very interesting day.  The day started off slowly and then so many interesting people came by to talk about wool and spinning and all sorts of things.  There was a woman visiting from England who told me that many things that get delivered from farmers are wrapped in wool to keep the goods cool.  Then she can send the wool back the next week or put it on her garden as mulch.  Many sheep in England and the English have lots of ingenuity and common sense in my book.  Then there was the woman that has a wolf (3/4 wolf blood).  She has a significant amount of fur from him which she would love to have made into a blanket.  Another woman wants to start spinning again but need to get her wheel from Richmond.  She may bring it over to fashion a new drive belt and see what else it needs.  One woman bought 3 skeins of yarn from Gretta's fleece.  Was she the one that wanted to be added to our spinning group or was that someone else?  Can't remember which story goes with who.  Many interesting conversations and a decent monetary day.

Research continues on natural dyeing so many beautiful pictures should find their way to this blog in the next few weeks.  There are three jars with 3 different lichen soaking in the fiber shed.  They have to ferment for at least 3 months (that will be Fiber Camp in June).  

Spinning, wet felting, and weaving have also taken some of my time lately.  I continue to give Mira her apple cider vinegar most days.  It seems to be helping with her arthritic symptoms.  She didn't like the golden raisins soaked in gin remedy; to sticky. 

The above was written 4 days ago.  Since then Helena hatched out 3 goslings but one went missing the first day.  Now we have 4 adults Sal's gosling that is about 2 +weeks old and Helena's 2.

Sal's gosling is very interested in the little ones.  He is already 4 times bigger than they are.  Hard to remember him being so small.  They all travel  in a group but sometimes Cirrus pecks at the little ones and then Prince steps in.  The older gosling hangs out a lot with Cirrus and one day went after Prince when Prince was going after Cirrus.  That was pretty funny. 

Time to take pictures of the goslings before they are all full grown. Stay tuned.

Friday, April 27, 2018


Donald, Annie, and Little Gray look like they are fast friends in this picture.  It is always interesting to see who makes friends with who and why.  Since Little Gray's mom pushed her out on her own, she has decided to make friends with all the barnyard animals.  The geese, however, harass her whenever they feel like it.  They are especially difficult since the arrival of this years goslings.  Cirrus and Prince won't let anyone get a close look.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018


"AWAY" at Cabin Spring Farm stands for Adventurous Wool Alluring Yarn. The first half of April I was away having a spectacular adventure.

Rosemary and I took a road trip in the green VW Eurovan weekender that I call my greenhouse.  It has been doing close to home travel and hauling for the most part the past year but we decided to take it for a road trip to Tucson Arizona and back.  We packed a spinning wheel, drum carder, drop spindle, hand carders, wet and needle felting supplies, a large pot for dyeing and plenty of wool fleece and alpaca along with all the camping gear.  And of course we took our knitting.  We also took cameras and watercolor supplies.  We used almost everything we took with us.

We carded wool made some felt and dyed it with native plants we found along the way, where we could collect them.  We also spun yarn to add to the dye pot.  We took a 2 hour introduction class on Saori looms in Tucson.  The whole trip was a "Fiber Extravaganza".  But we also took short hikes in the desert, learned to bake bread over coals in a cast iron dutch oven and made pizza inside two enamel plates.  We camped in the desert, in high country along the Rio Grande, and water saturated ground in the midwest, in State and Federal campgrounds for the most part.  We drove through amazing canyons that we were not expecting and also some unexpected snow on the grasslands.

All the while we were traveling, John was taking care of the farm.  Every time I checked in he would report he had the same number of animals he started with.  What an amazing guy I live with.

In case anyone is interested, here are a few pictures of our adventures.

White Sands New Mexico

A morning sunrise in the desert.

Catalina range in Arizona


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Marking Time

On the farm, you know it is Spring when the animals are not as influenced by a can of grain.  They would rather stay out and eat grass.  Yesterday, I had to use 2 days worth of patience because none of the animals wanted to be where I wanted them to be.

Four and a half bales of hay until my road trip.  Rosemary and I are celebrating 50 years of friendship.  We are hoping to take a spinning wheel with us and some fleece.  We want to see what different plants out west are used for dyeing.  We will take a couple large pots to steam over the camp fire while we are roasting marshmallows.  Not your typical vacation but perfect for Rosemary and me.

Most people think that rooster crow at the crack of dawn.  Actually, roosters crow throughout the day and way before dawn.  They are not good markers of time.  The lumber mill is a much better marker of a new day.  They start up at 5:45 week days.

It used to be you could mark time by when flowers and trees bloomed, especially daffodils.  They used to be a first marker of Spring but a few years ago, they bloomed in January and this year it was mid February.  The peach trees are just breaking bud and 2-5 inches of snow are on the way.  At least the temperature shouldn't be damaging.


Sunday, March 11, 2018

"As the Farm Turns"-- "All My Farm Animals"

Some times farming is like a soap opera; lots of drama.  In today's episode, we find someone isn't who we thought they were.

Yesterday, I brought 3 new hens to Cabin Spring Farm.  I waited till dusk to settle them in but Donald and Sister were aroused by the commotion.  Sister started pecking the first one to enter the coop.  John thought maybe she was jealous.  Donald put himself between the two and looked like he had things under control.  The other 2 went in.  There was a little scuffling but then things settled down.

As I approached the coop this morning there was a little more scuffling and when I opened the door, Sister came running out.  A few minutes later Donald came out but when the three Rachels didn't follow he went back in.  I put some grain out for Sister outside the gate and that made her happier.  After finishing the grain she decided to come back to the barnyard but first she stopped on top of the fence and crowed.  Yup, she crowed like a rooster.  Different than Donald's crow; stronger and louder.

Well, I have been telling myself for a month or so that Sister was looking kind of like a rooster.  She had gotten SO large (bigger than Donald) and had a couple of feathers on her tail that were looking like rooster tail feathers.  But no crowing.  Last fall, one of Little Mama's grown up chicks, laid an egg.  The two chicks looked identical until a couple of months ago when the other "sister" disappeared after the dog attack.  We don't usually get eggs in the winter so that didn't give me a clue.

When I told John the news he came up with a new name for Sister.  John is known for his naming capabilities (ha ha).  We now call Sister--- Heshe.  I like it.  It sounds a little Japanese to me.

Heshe spent the day hanging out near the coop but Donald and the 3 Rachels stayed in all day.  At dusk, Heshe waited until the others were settling in for the night and then tiptoed in.  John reminded me that we may get 2-5 inches of snow tonight so tomorrow could get very dramatic.  Stay tuned.

An aside:  The hens are all named Rachel because they were named by a girl named Rachel who wanted to name them after herself.  She and John must be related way back somewhere.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

It Rained All Night

So when I woke up this morning, I dreaded going to feed the animals in the rain and MORE MUD.  A farmer has to be creative because there is always the unexpected or the expected to deal with.  The plan for this morning was taller boots and a wheelbarrow.

Grab the wheelbarrow from the garage/barn, pick up an unopened bale of hay from the hay stack, open the gate and steadily move forward on the grassiest route I could find to the barn.  It all worked incredibly smoothly, like the animals picked up on the plan two paces inside the gate.  They walked in pace along side the wheelbarrow instead of greedily halting my progress for an early bite.  I put the whole bale in the closet without a nudge and then put some in the hay feeders.  Leaving a little in the wheelbarrow, gave the sheep room to spread out, and all were content.

After munching for awhile, Zorra came over for some rubs.  Amelia came for some attention but we haven't really established her favorite sheep to human interaction.  I wanted to check in with Mira to see if I could get a better sense of what is going on with her, but she didn't want to talk about it this morning.  Reminds me of someone I left in the house, who I was checking in with a few minutes earlier.

Gretta was looking out into the rain and we were having a conversation about mud and its positive and negative attributes.  I told her about rainy days in Marin County (about 45 years ago) when I would go to the Mill Valley library and then to a sweet hangout where you could get a hot cup of tea with a splash of brandy.  I would write poetry on paper napkins-- I wonder if any of it was good.

It is funny how what you think is going to be a quick chore of necessity turns out to be a delightful serene visit with good friends.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Out For Dinner

The "after the snow melt" mud was too much tonight so I took the sheep out for dinner.

Everyone likes to go out to dinner but often the food isn't as good as home.  The sheep got both.  I opened the hay gates and let the sheep go help themselves.

This picture was taken a couple of days ago.  It was a fun sight tonite with 9 sheep in with the hay, but once again I didn't have my camera.

Once the sheep decided who was going to stand next to who, they were pretty well behaved and  dinner was peaceful.  I think they all appreciated eating in nice surroundings without squishing in the mud.

Then it was back home for a dessert of organic grain.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

White Sheep and a Kitten Called Little Gray

Just Yesterday, I was thinking about how all the sheep colors blend about this time of year.  I tell people that the sheep of Cabin Spring Farm are brown, grey, white, and multi beige but when the sheep are in heavy fleece they do have a similar outer fleece color (kinda beigy) .  Today the sheep are white sheep.

  Sometimes in the spring, before the sheep are shorn, people will ask me how I can tell the sheep apart.  Are these the people that think all Black people look alike?  Do some African Americans think all White people look alike?  Look at the different faces on these beautiful sheep.

 In the above picture you can actual see the beige,white, gray, and brown.

And below is the kitten called "Little Gray"

Thursday, January 25, 2018


A beautiful day and I needed to get outside so I decided to let the sheep out of there regular space.  As I was letting them out the lower gate, I heard a loud fluttering of wings.  It was sister chicken flying up to the top of the barnyard fence.  This is the first time she has done that since the dog attack.

It was a long recovery and I decided to let her do it in her time.  Today was her time.  All the animals seemed to thoroughly enjoy themselves.  The sheep grazed in the cabin yard, the chickens scratched at some grain by the garage barn and then went over to hangout under the forsythia bush.  The chickens have been in the coop for so long that the kitten maybe didn't remember them.  Little Gray thought they were interesting and decided to check them out.  Then on to other fun things like batting at something and then half practicing prowling.  Mama cat just watched.  She was partially hidden under the cabin deck and as Charlotte went around the corner she was startled by the cat, for a moment.  The geese minded their own business and did't harass anyone. Sooooo peaceful.  I love days like this.

The sheep have been so patient with me these mornings.  Because of all the new things I have to do first thing, I have been getting down to the barn late.  They are just glad to see me.  Little Gray was waiting in a different place and seemed to be trying to get my attention but all in all they seem to be willing to wait while I do some things for John.

John is getting along.  Tomorrow, he is going to try to walk down to the barnyard.  Probably to thank the animals for their patience.  The only time he has been out of the house is to go to PT or the doctor appointment. Yesterday, we saw the pictures of the new knee parts.  Pretty amazing. John's doctor is happy with how everything is going but John just wants to have less pain and more flexibility.  I think he needs to get out more, like I thought the chickens  should get out more but I have decided to let him do it in his time.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Organization and Balance

Two words that I could live with for a year, for sure.  In this context, I am referring to life on the farm this week.  Someone on the farm had a double knee replacement last week and it wasn't any of the sheep, geese, or chickens.

One really has to get organized when adding in all the elements of nursing on top of farming.  Saturday, I felt like I was walking in circles all afternoon. Then Charlie and I built a platform to make the reclining chair high enough to get in and out of.  We did pretty well but the animals had to wait for their dinner.  Yesterday, Lyndy came over and we built a plywood exercise plate.  Lyndy made two different yummy soups for the coming week and helped me bring a few loads of wood up to the porch.  We were looking amazingly organized.

And the balance.  First nursing items, then a cup of tea for me, then the animals.  Then breakfast for me, and a few minutes to write and then back to nursing.

I have a superb patient, a warm house, and plenty of food to eat.


Thursday, January 11, 2018


My word for the year is "Words".  I love words.  I love how many together can tell a story. I like to consider them individually as well.  I especially like certain words for the message they convey and others for the intrinsic beauty of their sound. Some are favored for the way they look.

 I was recently riding a commuter train into NYC.  Next to me sat a man of Asian decent reading a soft bound book from right to left filled with what I call characters.  Does he call them words or are some characters phrases? Hmm.

Sometimes when I go down to see the animals I am very chatty other times we hangout for awhile in silence.  I have not determined which they prefer.  I think as long as touch and/or food is part of the encounter words are not all that important.

I am much more accomplished with the written word than the spoken word.  I prefer to use the written word if I am conveying an important thought.  At meetings, after carrying on for awhile, someone will ask "what are you trying to say" or "what do you want".  If I can write a memo or email, I come across better.

  So, one thing I want to get out of this year of living with "words" IS trying to find the ones that tell others what I am trying to say, and leaving the extras for another time.

  I think this will be interesting.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Walking Back from the Barn on a Winter's Evening

Wind whooing in the woods, my footsteps plopping and jacket crinkling I head back to a warm home.
My companion turns cool in my hands, though it was hot when we started our trek.  

With my tea hot again and honeyed to sooth my cough, I put words on a page for the first time this year.

The lines above are in the font verdana.  I thought it was veranda which I always thought was a fun thing to call a porch.  I often misread a word.  First I am puzzled and then I usually have a good chuckle.  just an aside

If anyone is still reading this blog:  you may have noticed that entries have become scarce.  Here is what I think has been the issue........
I love to write and I love to take interesting photographs HOWEVER inserting a picture for the sake of having something to look at, is stressful and we all know I don't have my camera when it would be nice if I did OR I do and I don't use it.  Anyway, at one point I thought I needed to include pictures with blog entries (maybe Karen's fault) and so - all of the above working together= fewer blog entries.

Whoever said "a picture is worth a thousand words" took better pictures than I and I would like to say  a million pictures would not tell the story of my walk back from the barn this evening.  So I shall dump the stressful load and carry on.

Stay tuned for my word for 2018!   Can you guess it?

Happy New Year