Spa 2018 coming up

Winter sun winning the day

Well, I am packing tonight to get down to Freeport, Maine tomorrow.  New England Textile Arts Spa weekend is upon us!

The vendor area at the Hilton Garden Inn will open up on Friday night at 5 PM.  It’s a great weekend, and I can’t wait!  I hope to take some great photos and share them with you after the event.

On another note, I can’t believe we had a 50+ degree day today!  It was luscious :*)  All the goaties ate outside and everyone was cavorting and kicking up their heels.  When the fog finally lifted and the sun came out midday, it was heaven.  I know that not everyone in the country had such a day, so I feel very grateful for the little bit of sun and warmth we got this afternoon.  Quite a bit of the hard layer of ice in the driveway and in the paddocks melted.  Let’s hope the temperatures stay up a little and that any bad weather we get (cough, Sunday) does not hang around long enough to turn into ice.


Pippi the grump

Yesterday dawned a beautiful day.  I am glad because it was hoof trimming Thursday!  The sun was out for the morning and it almost smelled like Spring.

I am sure I have written before about our wonderful shearer Emily.  We always had her shear the sheep when we had them, and as I have some issues with my back, she comes to us to do hooves every few months.  I don’t know what I would do without her!

Our sweet Twig

Our goatie girls have long memories (as does Jingle the donkey).  One or two of them hold grudges for quite awhile after we have someone like the vet out to see them.  Twig is actually the worst.  She wouldn’t talk to us or let us pet her for a few weeks after the vet did Rabies shots last fall.  She was seriously pissed with us.  The other one who has fits is Pippi, our Lamancha herd queen.

Pippi in a pout

When Pippi sees the vet or anyone she is not overly familiar with coming down the driveway, she tries to make herself scarce, running into the adjoining paddock and standing in the corner (you can’t see me here, right???).  All of our goats are extremely friendly, we have culled any that are difficult to handle, and mostly we have no problems corralling them.  Yesterday Pippi did her usual mad break for it, but when we got her on the milk stand, she would not eat the grain we had for her.  Instead, she just put her head down as low as she could get it, and stuck her tongue out at me.  I try not to anthropomorphize animals, but it just killed me to see her standing there giving me the stink eye, with her tongue sticking out like a child who has been caught being naughty!  She stamped and did her best to throw Emily off, but the humans prevailed.  Pippi wasted no time getting back into the paddock, and we all had a good laugh.

It was good to get the hooves taken care of before the girls get too big with babies.  A little over a month.  I am starting to get baby goat fever :*)

Livestock guardians

Jingle mugging for attention

Our Jingle the guard donkey frequently gets overlooked in the social media department, even though she is a very integral part of our farm, and has been for many years.  She is our only guard animal now and lives with the boys.

When we first got our sheep, we added two llamas to the mix as guardians and had a terrible time with them.  Very difficult to handle, they were half brother and sister.  Good deterrents to predators, but dealing with them became very difficult because all they did was fight with each other.  We finally moved the female llama along to another farm, and after that Zorro became a real pussycat with us and just did his job quietly with the sheep and goats.  We always kept him in with the girls and the moms and babies, and he loved those little ones.  He even tried to reunite a stranded new born lamb with his mother, as she was having a very difficult second birth.  Zorro was patient as the day is long with the lambs and the goat kids, and they used him as a jungle gym until they got too big to do so!

Jingle wants kisses

I was very happy to have Zorro with my moms and Jingle the donkey with our boys.  That worked very well for many years, until Zorro died of old age.  I really didn’t know if having the donkey in with just the one group would count with the local coyote population and I thought maybe Jingle should be in with the girls and babies during the spring.  I guess she is in her perfect comfort zone with the boys, because she raised such a ruckus when we moved her, that we didn’t keep her there for long (it became a dangerous situation for us and for the girls).  Maybe it’s been too many years, I don’t know.  Guard animals have to get along with their livestock charges, or the whole thing doesn’t work very well.

Watching for her supper

Zorro has been gone for a few years now, and we continue to keep Jingle in with the boys.  We have a lot of coyote activity in the area, all around us, and we even see tracks right near the goat pens.  So far, we have not had an incident.  I know that wildlife biologists say that if the coyote population is stable, there should be enough to eat for them without attacking domestic animals, and I hope that our situation is in that category.  We have acres of woods with small game and lots of deer, so hopefully that keeps them moving past our goats.  And I think that Jingle’s smell and her presence may count for something as well.

Jingle on a much warmer day

Besides, we love Jingle just for herself!  She is a sweetie.  She begged for soft donkey nose kisses this afternoon and wouldn’t let me stop.  She loves people, and can’t get enough attention.  Even luckier, she is in love with the farrier :*)  She is also the neighborhood alarm clock if breakfast doesn’t come her way at the right moment.  Donkeys are the best!

Some fun news

Masham fiber that I got from Into the Whirled at Rhinebeck, 2016. Lovely springy fiber!

Lest anyone think that I have been idle all winter, I have not!  I have been alternately messing around in and re-organizing my studio loft area.  I can get so easily sidetracked with all kinds of things, like book binding, embroidery, quilting, and of course, spinning, knitting and weaving, that I can make chaos in a very short amount of time.

Before I retired I knew that one of my very biggest goals in retirement was to get back to my weaving.  I have been fooling around with looms, both simple and multi-harness, since I was about 12 years old.  Nothing fancy and nothing complicated, but always I come back to it.  I learned everything from books, and now that YouTube and online tutorials are so widespread, I have used some of those to get my feet wet again in weaving, but I really wanted to do a more organized and thoughtful study of weave structures, not just fool around with the odd project here and there, to really learn how to design and weave what I want to.

I had met a local weaver a few years ago when I was driving to Bethel, Maine to pick up a buck from my friend Jane, who is also a production weaver.  The local professional weaver, Nancy, was picking up a loom from Jane at the same time, so we caravanned over in a snow storm (what else is new).  At the time I had only spoken to Nancy a little bit, and asked her just in passing if she would be willing to work with me after I retired, and she said, “Sure!”

When I finally got in touch with her last November, we had just heard about the Maine Crafts Association and Maine Arts Commission opening up the application process for grants to artisans wishing to apprentice with a master artist (Maine Craft Apprentice Program).  We talked about it and decided to give it a try.  It was quite a process, but we got the grant application in before the December due date, and then promptly forgot about it with the holidays and the bitter cold weather ushering in the new year.

Waffle weave dish towels, cottolin

When we got the notice in mid-January that we were finalists, I really couldn’t believe it, and a week or so ago we found out that we are one of two master/apprentice groups to receive the grant for 2018!  I am very honored to think that the committee liked our proposal and am very excited to get started!

In the meantime, I finally warped and wove off a set of waffle weave towels that I have been trying to goose onto my Macomber loom for over a year.  I know there is a threading error, but I can’t find it, and I am very happy with the towels, perfect or not!

And so the adventure begins.

New Year catch-up

It really has been awhile.  I can’t believe that I have been absent for so long from the blog!  The end of 2017 came and went, and it feels as though the winter is picking up speed and galloping toward the finish line, faster and faster.  Or maybe that is just wishful thinking!

The more daylight we find ourselves with, the happier I am, though.  I don’t get seasonal affective disorder or anything, but it’s just cheery to look up and realize it’s 5 PM and the sky isn’t as black as night.  I know what comes next in the weather department can be the worst of the winter, but it won’t be long.  Spring will show up one of these days!

Twig, waiting for some love pats

Our winter program for the goats has been going along fairly well, although we have had some trouble with the electrical supply to keep the water buckets from freezing.  Hopefully we can upgrade that once the weather gets warmer so that we don’t have these issues next year.  The brutal cold spell that we had earlier on in the winter is mercifully just a memory now, and we all have our fingers crossed for more middle of the road winter weather for the rest of the season.

We are, of course, beginning the countdown to goat babies.  Pippi and Saffron have the earliest dates, round about March 23.  Our only real wild card is Edna…  she must have been in stealth breeding mode, as I never caught her in heat or even with the buck.  But she looks like she has a very nice baby bump coming along, so we just have to watch her.  Everyone is looking very healthy, thankfully.  Peanut and Twig are as sweet as ever, providing a lot of cuddle opportunities every day.

And so it goes.  I am just about up and around after a good 10 days of the Type A flu.  Being asthmatic, I try to be especially careful, but this really caught me off-guard.  It was a particularly bad one.  Wishing everyone a very belated Happy New Year!