Archive for September, 2008

Fall is in the air!

September 23, 2008

Where does the time go? It seems like yesterday, I was unpacking from the Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival, and here it is almost the end of September!  I’ve been to the Tunbridge World’s Fair, demonstrating spinning and knitting on two days while two of my ewe lambs entertained the hoards of people who wandered through the sheep barn.  In the spirit of fried foods at these things, the village store owners invented a new deep fried treat: crispy cheesecake. (Cheesecake wrapped in a flour tortilla, flash fried, and dipped in cinnamon and sugar.)  It was actually very good.  But I missed the guy who has been there in the past who made real turkey dinners with real mashed potatoes, a diversion from all the fried fair foods.

In the interim, Mark came to take away the four horned ram I was no longer using.  We had frost, so all the butternut squash and potimarron squash was picked.  I’ve made two baby sweaters and am working on a very large sweater with six different colors of shetland wool, of which I had a few skeins each.  (Actually, one color, the grey is not shetland; ran out of shetland grey, so it is Sweet Pea, one of Shari’s sheep, who is now living at  Cindy’s, I believe.  Beautiful soft romney cross.  Yesterday I dug l/3 of the potatoes, roughly, a wheelbarrow full.  And little by little, I’m “spring cleaning” my house, preparatory to a northeast regional jacob sheep breeders meeting on Columbus Day weekend.  One room done, four more to go…plus probably my side of the basement.  And the regular spinning and quilting and knitting group meetings each week.  Sunday I drove up to Moretown and purchased a trio of Jersey Giant chickens, big ol’ black girls, and a young rooster, who is already almost as big as my penedescenca rooster.  I got them settled in the winter henhouse/yard, separate from my other chickens for a few days, to let them settle in.  And I made Italian sausage with the ground pork from the two pigs slaughtered.  Did I already mention that in a previous post?  I don’t think so…but the mind is not as sharp as once it was.

Today is just trip to the grain store, knitting, reading a bit (it’s hard these days of harvesting to get a book a week in!) and then off to spinning.  In the last two weeks, I’ve spun twelve skeins of jacob yarn.  But there’s still another bag of rovings to go, AND two coopworth fleeces awaiting washing, picking, carding, and spinning.  Then, there’s the Wool Tour, in the Monadnock region of N.H. on Columbus Day Weekend. I need to make some more socks, and some felted hats and mittens for that…ARGH! (In my sleep, perhaps?)

Okay, time, while it is still dark this morning, to start to “pick up” my sewing room, straighten shelves and discard stuff I’m just never going to finish, organize my stash of fabric, and get stuff ready to cut out a new quilt, so I have something to work on at quilting group on Wednesday night.  This cooler weather inspires me to actually accomplish something!  Happy Fall.


Home from the Fair!

September 8, 2008

Well, here it is the day AFTER the Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival and I’m not exhausted. Maybe because I didn’t go on Friday, set up all the pens, sleep in the car (or rather, lie down in the car, and get up several times a night to check on the sheep and goats), and in general, run around all day for three days.  Retiring from being in charge of the barn was a good idea.  Lib James is doing it and loves it, plans to continue.  GREAT!

The festival itself was not as good as some years, though better than others.  It rained on Saturday in most of the state, thanks to Hurricane Hanna, though in Burlington, it was mostly overcast with showers.  Still, it may have kept some people away.  We had fun, though.  I spun two more balls of yarn, and plied six. decided on a new project to use up all the individual colors of shetland yarn I have left, and got home at 6:20. Lizzie was waiting for me: John had picked her up from the hospital where she’s been for the weekend.  On Thursday she ran past the edge of the ram pen, made of cattle panels, and got too close, ripping a hole in her shoulder.  I checked when it happened, couldn’t find any wound. Checked an hour later: still no evidence of a wound.  Well, I guess I just didn’t check well enough. The next morning  she was mopey, and I looked again to find an inch in diameter, l/2″ deep gash in her shoulder. Off to the vet, emergency surgery, weekend in the hospital.  (Mostly because John is not up to giving meds and really doesn’t know how to tell if a dog is sick or not.)  Anyway, she is home, with a lampshade collar to wear when we’re not with her, so she doesn’t worry her wound.

Here’s a photo of our “booth”, which turned out to be a crossing between the two ranks of booth, because through some inexplicable confusion, our space was taken.  It turned out okay in the end, but we had planned for a specific shaped booth, and the space we got was different, so things look a little scattered.

And here’s the back of a full length shawl I made, after spinning the yarn from some romney fleece.

And lastly, here’s a photo of one of Jessica Dillner’s angora goats.  SHe sells white and colored goats, but dyed this one purple to show how well the fleece takes color.  This goat was the hit of the festival; everyone came to see the purple goat.

I got a good night’s sleep, and this morning, changed the ewe pasture, first leading them into a corral of green gates and catching the two lambs who have to go for health papers this afternoon, preparatory to taking them on Thursday to the Tunbridge World’s Fair.  Now, I have to pack Lizzie and her lambshade into the car and head to Sue’s with my carload full of festival stuff to bring back to the store.  Have a good day: it’s a lovely one here: cool, dry, and sunny.  The lambs are in the truck under an evergreen tree to keep cool until we return.

Moving Day!

September 2, 2008

Well, actually, WE aren’t moving, but the pigs needed moving and the goats needed moving.  So, on Labor Day, I decided to labor a bit.  It was one of those days.  Every bit of wood possible to get tangled in the fence, did.  Every bit of fencing that I could get my boots caught in, I did.  It seemed to take forever to make a new paddock for the pigs back further in the woods; they’ve totally dug up the part they were in.  And John cut a path through the brush for me on another rocky bit of woods, which I made into a new place for the goaties, who really like jumping around on rocks.  There’s brush and grass and rocks and a hill and a tree for shade in their new place, with the added bonus that I had a bit of leftover end of fence which I could wrap around the dahlia bed, where some woodsy critter had been chomping on the ends of the dahlias.  Moving the animals actually (count my blessings!) was easy.  They all moved into the new areas without incident.  Then the charger registered dead, so we changed the battery. Then the new battery didn’t want to run at full throttle.  Well, it’s all worked out now, but took me a good portion of the day, after which I didn’t want to do much else.  Oh, and did I mention, in between all that, I baked an apple pie with our own apples, first time we’ve had a crop.  They are tart, but break down a bit faster than Granny Smiths so I will have to remember not to cook them as long, or we’ll be having applesauce pie.  They are firm enough raw to make it possible to use the peeler/corer. (Macs and similar types are too soft fleshed to use it with.)  AND I went to the market for sausage and came home to turn the big pot of tomatoes into 7 quarts of spaghetti sauce (I refuse to cave to the “pasta” routine) with sausage in it.  Today, later, I will have to transfer everything in the little freezer to the big freezer, for there’s no room in the little one, and the big one has been defrosted and cleaned.  This week sometime, Boz is coming to take the two big pigs to be butchered.  So, I’ll need even more freezer room. And I have a lamb or two to go into the freezer this week as well, if he’s up for it.  So, I will definitely need the big freezer on and functioning.

Dates to mark on your calendars if you are reasonably local to New England!  This coming weekend, SAturday and Sunday, Sept. 6 and 7: The Vermont Sheep and Wool FEstival at Champlain Valley Expo in Essex Jct.  The following weekend, from the 11th through the 14th, the Tunbridge World’s Fair. (I am told by native born folks that the Tunbridge Fair used to be a place you didn’t let your unmarried daughters go to unsupervised. It was a brawling, drunken, sex-in-the-woods kind of fair.  Nowadays, however, it is a family event, with animals, plants, handwork, a history museum, dancing, car races, you name it…like a state fair, only better.  I’ll be at both these events, so if you go to them, find me in the sheep barn and introduce yourself.  (Probably only Thursday and Sunday at Tunbridge.)

And looking ahead, the regional Jacob Sheep Breeders Association meeting here on Columbus Day weekend, Saturday and Sunday, some beds here available for free overnight!  See http://JSBA/NE news and for more info.  Also that weekend, Sat. through Mon., the Monadnock Wool ARts Tour in New Hampshire about an hour from here.

I’m working on a sweater supposedly size 2, but it is wide enough to be a size 6!  The gauge was pretty much on target so I’m not entirely sure why it’s so big.  I’ll have to adjust the length to reflect the bigger width.  It’s that time of year when Sue and I are going gangbusters, knitting and spinning, so we have inventory for the festivals.  Same with other friends who also have booths at the Wool Tour and at Vermont.

A beautiful day here today. Later I will be going up to Lyme Center for my spinning group, a long haul but fun.