A little late, I know, but I hope everyone out there had a wonderful day with family, friends, or just on their own. (One of my most interesting Thanksgivings was when I was a junior in high school and my parents had gone to Portugal or Spain with my uncle Morty, supposedly for 4 days, the weekend before Thanksgiving. I think it was to look at what eventually became known as ‘time shares’ and they were offered another free three days, which they took advantage of, but which also meant that they couldn’t make it back for the holiday. My dog Jason, the sweet Bedlington terrier and I, had a vegetarian Thanksgiving all by ourselves. Well, he ate meat, I did not. I think I had broccoli and stuffing. It was a very instructive and insightful holiday!).
Anyhow, not being a vegetarian any more, we had a lovely, if very low-key day yesterday with a 22 pound turkey. Just the three of us and Tesser the Chihuahua. Of course I make the same amount of food no matter who is coming, because it’s all about the leftovers for me! The only thing I did not do was hors d’oeuvres, because without real company, it didn’t seem all that important. We had a toast to our lovely neighbor who passed away this past August, as she (and previously her husband Jim) had been a fixture here every Thanksgiving since we moved in 13 years ago. And then we took our time eating our lovely dinner, all of us in something other than holiday garb, and closer to the PJ side of things. A most relaxing day. (The goaties got to celebrate with some celery and romaine leaves).
And so it goes. It’s a very grey and rawly damp November day here today. I had a morning visit with a good friend, and then came home to sit by the woodstove and perhaps do a little knitting or spinning. I slept in until a shocking 7 am this morning and have absolutely no reason to be tired, but a quick nap on a day like this could be just the ticket. I love Thanksgiving :*)
I know that it’s even warmer down in the mid-Atlantic states, but 53F on December 12th is pretty unheard of around these parts! No complaining from me, however, as I know Winter will catch up with us soon enough. I am pleased for the skiers that it has been cold enough for the resorts to make snow, and they have also had a few precipitation events that brought snow to the mountains, leaving rain for the coast. That’s the way I like it! (Don’t get me wrong, I love snow. Just not as much as we had last winter, with negative temperatures to match. And even though I love it, I think I am still reeling from last year ).
We have been trying to make the most out of this weather, and did quite a bit of outside work yesterday. My biggest pleasure of all: the hose that comes out of a dug-well that we use to water the animals, is still running! Usually by this time we are wrestling gerry cans of water into the tractor and driving them up. What a treat! We did get enough cold weather in the past two weeks that I had set up the tank heater in the big trough, and plugged in the 16 gallon heated buckets in the other two pens. Yesterday I scrubbed all the tanks, all the feeders, and Sam got the inside of the greenhouse cleaned out, on the large girl’s group side. Lots of stuff got checked off of our list!
It still feels like an early spring morning out there today. It even smells earthy and fresh. The girls are being very frisky and flying around the paddock like they are kids, too. The big rock is covered in flecks of mud, there has been so much frolicking going on.
Today I must do some baking and present-putting together. Sam got the lights on the tree, and that is where we have stalled out. Gotta get going on that as the grandboy is anxiously awaiting Grampy’s train set around the bottom. I think we have our work cut out for us! Hope everyone out there is enjoying their Sunday as well!
Always a difficult thing. 5 of us spent a very satisfying and lovely 4 days out on Vinalhaven. We got back on Sunday afternoon, and I have been running ever since. Some work-related meetings as well as just trying to get down to business at home with all the crazy projects I have been wanting to try and do. It’s hot and muggy again as well, and I do not function well at all on these days. The Vinalhaven fiber retreat was balm to our exhausted souls! We all got quite a bit of knitting and spinning done, and we even had an indigo dye day, thanks to Pam of Hatchtown Farm. Once we saw what the results were like, we all scurried around looking for more items to pop into the bucket! One of our merry group grabbed an old canvas hat out of her car and I tie-dyed one of my beloved sleeveless t-shirts. What a hoot! Good times with good friends is what it’s all about. Now I guess it’s time to get back to the daily grind. And while I am doing that, I will be able to dwell fondly on the lovely, restful and fun outing that we were lucky enough to have. Until next summer!
Mostly it’s in a good way! We have spent the last two weeks very close to home, with lots of good friends and family. Alongside the holidays, we had our grandson for a few overnights so we could have some fun time together. (We are reading Paddington the Bear to get ready for the movie when it comes out in 2 weeks). We also did lots of cooking and baking together which was fun.
In the midst of getting ready for the holidays and then celebrating them, we have also been getting ready for the installation of a wood stove in the living room. Which meant that everything in the living room and dining room was pushed around, and the whole thing has had me off-kilter for weeks. I think I have finally gotten things moved around a bit so I don’t feel like I am tripping over myself, and it needed to be done, really, anyway!
The icing on the mess cake, however, was that John was also trying to fix the drawers under our range top that hold all our pots and pans (the whole cabinet has spread at the back, so the drawers were falling off their tracks). As a result, the 2 large drawers were standing empty in the corner of the living room (yes, more stuff in the living room), and the pots, pans, etc., were stacked in every corner of the kitchen, most of them on the floor. There may have been a little more wine imbibed than usual while we were celebrating and fixing, everywhere. Ugh.
As of yesterday, the drawers are now happily back in their slots, full of clean pots and pans. The tree is gone, the living room is mostly re-organized, and the floors are vacuumed and washed. The tile pad is finished and waiting for the wood stove, and I am trying very hard to enjoy the last gasp of vacation. I have been spoiled, this was an extra long one, a whole two weeks. Absolutely fabulous :*)
Saturday, a friend and I were lucky enough to get into a workshop down at PortFiber in Portland. Taught by Robin Russo, it was a day spent learning about the history of sericulture (farming silk worms) as well as a lot of hands-on work with silk cocoons, reeling silk, pulling cocoons into “hankies,” and then spinning wild and cultivated silks. It was an absolutely fabulous workshop, and I would highly recommend any workshop with Robin! She is a wonderful teacher. She even brought in silk moths who were mating and laying eggs.
Yesterday was spent at Hatchtown Farm having a spinning party/end of summer blast. As usual, we had lots of food, laughter and fun. Sitting on the porch listening to the crickets and watching the crazed grasshoppers and dragonflies was very therapeutic!
One of our spinning friends, Chris, set up a woad experiment for us to work on during the afternoon. She grew the woad plants over the summer, and got the initial dye pot set up yesterday morning. When we got together, she continued the process and we got to put a bit of fiber into the pot during the afternoon. It was magical! The woad was a lighter blue than most indigo will dye, and it’s beautiful. Chris threw my little misshapen mawata into the pot and it’s turned fabulous shades of blue.
It was an exceptional weekend to end the summer fun. The weather totally cooperated, and of course, the heat and humidity are coming back just in time for school to begin!
These are the name of the game this week. Not getting enough sleep due to all the birthing checks and I feel like my engine is running on empty and we have not even begun to kid yet! Yesterday was Hatchtown Farm’s shearing, and even though it was a long day, it was replete with good work and then some relaxation with friends. Great food as well, as always!
We are still waiting on our goat babies, no secret there, and Zelda looks poised for action today, which is encouraging. She is really dropped and her udder is very full. It would be nice if she presented us with some babies in daylight, although we have had rain most of the day and it’s raw out there. All the animals were still at the feeder this morning awhile after breakfast and I noticed that Zelda had eaten but then walked away. Not much room in there for a big meal!
Every time I make the rounds up in the paddock I do a thorough check of all the back ends and udders. Every one is coming along, but the only one who is very close is Zelda. I can hardly wait for the excitement of new babies. Then it may truly feel like Spring has finally arrived.
Phew! All went well. The day began cold and bright, and is ending a little warmer and with a few clouds here and there. In between, we got a torrent of rolling giant-flaked snow followed by a little bit of rain, but we were already finished with the shearing and safely inside, gorging on a great potluck spread. Everyone who came did a lot of work, and before we got the meal going, Pam of Hatchtown Farm made an extremely lovely toast with some yummy Prosecco to our last shearing day.
I am sore and achy, but we got a lot done in a very short amount of time. Emily the shearer did a wonderful job as always, and we have 7 more beautiful fleeces to process or sell. I do not think I will ever run out of fleece! The only issue we had today was weather-related: Fern’s fleece (the big white ewe) was damp all the way through, a reminder of the downpours the other day. So the lovely ladies tagged the fleece and I already have it inside, spread out on the floor to dry. As the temperatures are due to go down in the next couple of days (down into the single digits tomorrow night, ouch), the heat in our floor should take good care of that. But as I sit here and look at these beautiful, lustrous locks (6″ average), I may just have to wash some up and do some spinning tomorrow!
And so goes the last sheep shearing at Ruit Farm North. Great excuse for a party. But I have plenty of other excuses that work just as well, no shortage there :*)
Finally! We got the party off the ground yesterday, unfortunately without a few of our favorite people. The weather lent a lot of atmosphere to the day, but the snow was pretty persistent and when you live on a road that’s far off the main roads, it’s always difficult to predict the condition of the mains. The only reason this was an issue was because our friend Chris in Brunswick hosts the party, and that is about 20 miles from our house, but much farther for a few of the other members. So I picked up Pam from Hatchtown Farm, and our roads were atrocious, but then we got out onto Route 1 and everything was fine.
We excel at putting on a party that involves great food, fiber and friends. So we ate a beautiful meal and we did our show and tell with our island retreat fiber projects, which are totally awesome! (On our Vinalhave retreat last summer we dyed the fiber with cochineal bugs and some with osage orange, and each of us took two small skeins and some uncarded fiber to come up with a project). I knitted a hedgehog pin cushion, Pam made a beautiful wine cozy, Christine knit a fantastic warm and beautiful headband, Chris felted a snowman who wears a scarf knit from the yarn and is holding a heart made from the fiber as well. We are dying to see the project that our other island friend has made, but we will have to wait for that one. We also do a ‘hot potato’ gift pass around our circle which is always a lot of fun. I do not have my gift yet, as it will come from our friend who didn’t make it.
And so we finally were able to have an afternoon of laughter and fun. With a lot of great food! Now it really feels like the new year can begin!
Four of us Treadlers have had a plan on for the past month or so. We were lucky enough to score tickets to hear the Yarn Harlot talk at an old elementary school in Rockland on Saturday night. So our whole afternoon and evening was set up on a pretty tight timetable and it was more fun than we even expected!
A lot of us follow Stephanie Pearl McPhee’s blog, Yarn Harlot, and most of us have read all her books to date as well. She is a very hard-working knitter and knit designer who also happens to write amazingly wonderful essays on life in general, life with her family, and knitting, knitting and more knitting. It sounds lame to say that she is a knitting humorist, but I guess that’s really what she does. Her visit in Rockland was a talk about “Your Brain on Knitting.” A lot of research and good things about knitting, how it engages your brain, how can help put you into the Theta brain wave center (which is the brain wave zone that helps your brain be more creative, and doesn’t happen unless you are in a more relaxed but focused state, like when you are knitting!). But all of the talk was punctuated with seriously hysterical anecdotes from her life. We laughed for hours, but I almost felt bad because I knew from her blog that she has been doing a lot of traveling, and she did look pretty bone-tired.
Part of our Saturday plan involved getting up to Rockland early and invading the Over the Rainbow yarn shop there. This is the shop that set up the talk, and they also sponsored two classes with Stephanie at the shop the next day. (I did not sign up for either of those). So the four of us toodled over, fondled a lot of beautiful yarn, and then walked back to Cafe Miranda and had an amazing dinner. Just in time to get us over to the Lincoln Street School (and did that school conjure up memories of one of my elementary schools!). It’s lovely fun to be in the company of a hundred or so knitters, most of us knitting during the talk as well. Stephanie was also extremely gracious about signing books and having photos taken with her fans as well.
And then our friend Chris stayed over at our house so as not to have to drive back to Brunswick that late, and we had a blast doing morning chores together and then we made soap from some of the lard that I rendered last weekend. That story is for another post! The rest of the day I spent fixing up fencing as our pigs left on Friday for the butcher. That is another post as well! It really was one of the most fun weekends I have spent in a very long time.
It was a fabulously beautiful weekend as far as the weather was concerned! Coolish, almost cold nights, and warm and sunny days with a steady breeze. The perfect weather for pulling fence down in the field. Well, kinda :*) The electric net was stuck in the tall grass down there and it was a slow and steady (sometimes painful) backbreaking time getting it untangled from the grass and rolling it up. It was not a fun job, but the field desperately needs to be mown.
Yesterday, however, was a totally fun day. A few of us got together for an afternoon of spinning fun and some lunch along with it. We had a great time out on Hatchtown Farm‘s screened porch, visited with the sheep, and actually got a whole lot of spinning accomplished. It was a relaxing day full of good company and good food. And Gemma the Golden Doodle kept us company, as well as a nonchalant eye on the food table.
Now it’s back to getting ready for the first “official” day back at work, Wednesday. I have not gotten used to sleeping in at all during the summer, but I don’t usually get up at 4:15, either! 5:30 has been my hour of choice for most of August. Ah well, it will take a little time to get into the routine again, but the year is marching on. (I can tell by the way my husband angsts over the almanac information each morning on the weather, which notes how many hours and minutes of daylight we have lost since the summer solstice!). I may actually be doing chores in the dark already!
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!