Archive for May, 2007

Rain, rain, go away!

May 20, 2007

What a week! It seems like it rained every single day, and was cold and damp. John took the week off to stain and varnish the woodwork in the upstairs hall and also the bathroom and paint the bathroom…so the house was smelly, and we didn’t put the heat on for fear it would circulate the fumes, to which I am violently allergic, throughout the house. We slept in the basement bedroom, as far away from the smells as possible. Now, it’s over. Tomorrow, I will go get some fabric (in my spare time) and make some simple valences for the bathroom window.

The rain did not deter me from a busy week. Wednesday was Red Hats luncheon: what a blast it is to have lunch with women between the ages of 50-90! We dress up, don our hats, and go out to lunch and often other activities afterwards, once a month. I love it. Here’s the gang, (not me: I was taking the photo):dsc00204-medium-web-view.jpg

I can’t remember quite what I did all day Thursday…oh, wait, I think I went to Sue’s store (Hodge Podge) and bought a bunch of yarn to make two sweaters for me! (I’ve been working on one since: nothing fancy, mind you, just a simple top down, short sleeved pullover, out of some yarn that looked lovely in the skein but is knitting up to look like chenille and I don’t much like it.

Friday was Prom. There is a young woman for whom I’ve been mentor since she was in fourth grade, through the school system. She is now a junior, and a wonderful young woman…not to mention beautiful. Here’s a photo of Christy with her boyfriend, Dan, whom we met last week, and like very much:

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Saturday was another lost day, spent around the house, planting 90 gladiola bulbs, changing the pen for the pigs, reading, napping, nothing really exciting.

But TODAY, today was the Vermont Bird Fancier Bird Swap, the first of three for the year, a festive occasion where folks come with chickens, ducks, guineas, turkeys, peacocks, geese, you name it and sell them to other people who come to buy. I came away with five new hens, three partridge chanteclers and two cochins (who each laid an egg for me when I got home), and two dominique roosters, one for me and one for a friend. Lucas went with me and sold 7 Indian runner ducks, resisting buying anything at all. Some folks came to the house afterwards to see the baby sheep, the pigs, the poultry, borrow an incubator, get some fertile eggs to hatch…and then, John and I went to our neighbor’s house to help set up the tables for the yard sale next Friday and Saturday. In between, I potted about twenty small lily plants and some echinacea. I may be ready by Thursday, who knows!

Here’s Walter, premier chicken breeder with some of the chickens he came with to sell…

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So, I think I’ll sleep tonight, first time in a week in our own bedroom, not in the cellar!  It promises to be good sleeping weather, and the rain has blown through, with the weather guys (for all they know!) promising bright and sunny and 60′s for the rest of the week.  We shall see!

Women from outer space?

May 14, 2007

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You can’t see the full effect of this lovely hat, since I have it way back on my head, but it was my purchase at the New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival. I can’t decide if it makes me look like a minion of Genghis Khan or a tibetan sherpa…or as someone suggested, a teletubbie. Now, if you scroll down some, you’ll see that it was so popular that my friend, Deb, went to the hat booth and came back with one as well. Since hers is forward on her head, you can see what they look like in full! The artist who made it had one with huge horse tail hairs (I think…that’s what it looked like anyway) coming out of the top. SHE looked surely like she was part of Khan’s invading army! All she needed was a grimace and a bloody sword! …and a horse, of course.

The weather was great for the NH festival, even if Sunday was cold enough so that the heavy felt hat felt warm and good. There was a stiff breeze, which made the buildings chilly. Out in the sun, it was quite pleasant. There was a good crowd. We sold a respectable amount of rovings, mostly. It wasn’t a big raw fleece day, which is unusual: usually, I all but sell out of fleeces at this show. This means I have a goodly amount to bring to the Massachusestts Sheep and Woolcraft Fair on Memorial Day weekend, in Cummington, Mass. Maybe I’ll see you there, if I missed you at NH.

What I love about NH is that, as the first big show of the season, it is a time to reconnect with other vendors, some of whom we don’t see between shows. I also ran some fleeces to the Zeilinger booth for processing, AND took some jacob fleeces to Pogo, at Friend’s Folly Farm in Maine. She does a fabulous job, especially on jacob fleeces, somehow managing not to homogenize them. They come back with streaks of black and white. She also does small lots of yarn. She’s a Maine and national treasure, as far as I’m concerned. She with two friends, was recently in Scotland, where they helped work a felting machine at one fiber mill/farm, and saw many others. She has wondrous tales to tell about that experience. And Janet, who had hair all the way down her back, cut it into a short “bob”: totally changes the way she looks! Janet raises the finest fleeced jacobs I’ve ever seen. They may even be too fine to register! But they make great garments. Most of the fleeces she brought were lilac, rather than black, with white, and so lovely.

Okay, time to put the other photos on here, and toddle off to Sue’s store (Hodge Podge) with my truck full of ‘stuff’ from the festival, to return it to it’s between festivals home.

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Unfortunately, this photo is a little blurry: that’s Deb on the right, and me in our fancy new hats. I made my sweater and Sue made my shawl. The hats got lots of laughs; the shawl got compliments wherever I roamed on the grounds.

New Hampshire Sheep and Wool Festival

May 8, 2007

This weekend, the “season” starts, with the festival at Hopkinton State Fair Grounds, in Contoocook, off exit 7 of I-89.  130 vendors, sheep show, dog demos, classes, spinners, knitters, weavers, sheep, alpacas, goats, rabbits, fleeces, handknits, lamb sausage for lunch, …

It is something we all look forward to because we get to renew acquaintances with other vendors/shepherds/spinners, etc. whom we haven’t seen all winter.  From now til October, we’ll see each other at the major shows.  It is a fun weekend, for sure.  Maybe I’ll even see some of the folks who read this blog there!  Hope so!  Right now, I’m busily trying to get cards made, weigh and label fleeces, finish up those socks which are lying in a pile, waiting for the finishing part, which I hate, cleaning out the back of the truck to hold all the stuff we have to transport to the fair…You can find me at the Hodgepodge Yarns and Fibers booth, along with my friends, Sue and Betty I.  See you at the Fair!

Blade Shearing at Suzanne’s

May 8, 2007

dsc00198-medium-web-view.jpgMy friend Suzanne had a mini-sheep festival yesterday, with spinners, knitters, lots of sheep, open farm with pigs, cows, chickens, goats, as well as her three sheep to be shorn. Kevin Ford came from Massachusetts to shear these three sheep. Afterwards she served lunch. And someone suggested her dog needed shearing. Jip is a sheltie, a tubby little guy, who has had some skin issues lately, and REALLY needed a haircut. Enter famous, award winning blade shearer, author of “Shearing Day”, and what do you get: a funny looking partly naked blade shearer sheltie. I guess I should have taken a photo of the final result, but he looked so funny, I didn’t think he’d much like his photo taken. Anyway, I’m sure he’ll be a lot cooler for the summer, and hopefully, this will allow his skin thing to heal. My Margaret gets a “summer haircut” every summer. She hates it while it’s being done. And she walks around embarrassed for a day or two, until she realizes how cool it is, and then she loves it. She can come in and isn’t restricted to her bed because she’s a “swampy”, because she doesn’t have all that long border collie hair hanging down and getting muddy every time she goes into a stream or through some mud. Another month and Margaret, like Jip, will be sporting summer haircut!

Thelma and Louise

May 3, 2007

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This is Thelma and Louise, or actually, in order, from left to right, Louise and Thelma.  Yesterday afternoon, we went to Walter’s and Holly’s (Sugar Mtn Farm, see blogroll for link), saw their tiny house in progress, and picked up the girls.

The tiny house is amazing.  It is very compact.  I’d be a little trepidatious moving into something this small with each other and three children, but they’ve very carefully constructed it so there are nooks and crannies and lofts enough, so that, theoretically, all five of them can be in places not occupied by the other ones, which considering the size of the place, is absolutely amazing.  The barrel vaulted ceiling of concrete is a sight to behold…eventually it will be covered with dirt, with a stone wall in front of it…I can’t quite picture this, but will wait for the finished product.

All around the land, between the old farmhouse, right at the road, and the tiny house, up on the hill, are pastures and paddocks, swimming with pigs (and in some cases, it being mud season up there still, MUD).  There is a whey tank where the guy from Cabot Cheese comes and deposits the cast offs from the cheese making operation, and boxes of “ends” of cheeses, all pig food.

Walter suggested we not take the pigs out of the dog cage last night, so I fed them a little corn and a little pig food, and lots of hay, and some milk, and then water, and they curled up and went to sleep, dog cage, inside vacated winter hen house, inside dog kennel, inside electronetting and 7 strand high tensile fence…they say pigs are escape artists, especially when nervous.  Don’t think they’ll get through all of this.  Today, I’ll keep them in the henhouse, and visit them frequently.  Tomorrow or the next day, after they are not so afraid of me, I’ll open the door and give them the playyard.  After a week or so there, they’ll move into the (then) vacated sheep shed and environs, and then after they root around in there awhile, they’ll go up in the woods/pasture where they’ll spend the rest of the summer.  I think they’ve grown overnight.  I was going to put just hay down, but a)I’m low on hay, and b) the floor of the henhouse is wood, so I put a layer of shavings down first, for absorption, and then hay.  They rooted around and piled most of the hay in one corner (busy little girls).  I’ve given them a half gallon of milk and some mixed organic whole grains/pigfood this morning, and they have a pile of fresh hay as well.

This is a new adventure and I’m a little scared about raising pigs through October or so and then somehow, getting them to the butcher.  Luckily, the guy who does our slaughtering/butchering is very knowledgeable about pigs, and probably will come here to get them, which would make life much easier. I will call him today.

It was pretty chilly out there this a.m.  I have to finishe chores, made a little more time consuming, as the chickens are divided into breeding groups, which means three different stations instead of one, plus the pigs.  The sheep are still on hay (thank you, Ian!) but have a bit of pasture in the ram pasture, actually (rams still in winter quarters), extending down from the girls’ winter quarters, to get them used to grass in their systems.  There’s not that much there, so they aren’t likely to get raging diarrhea, though  I have seen some effects of the grass in their poop.  After two more days of this, they will get filled up on hay in the a.m. and then put out on pasture, and spring will have officially begun.

Today, I’m off to Suzie’s to help with her shearing.  Friend, Lucas, is coming here to help John clear a section of woods.  And Julie called to say the chicks, which she told me weren’t coming til the end of May, are here.  So, I need to call her and make a chickie place in the garage.  Maybe I’ll get her to keep them until the pigs move to the sheepshed, and then, I can put the chickies in the then vacated pig nursery!  Then, I can keep my car in the barn/garage.  Complicated work, this animal business.

Happy May.  I confess that Monday was so busy that I didn’t go walking in the woods, looking for wildflowers, though I doubt any were there.  Couldn’t bring any flowers into the house, because of spring allergies, didn’t even go hug my tree friend, and bring in a twig.  But Margaret the Wonderdog, always helpful and very intuitive, brought in a couple of twigs in her tail. (Probably not deliberate as she frequently does this, but hey…)


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