Monday, April 30, 2007

Been Busy


Meet Ewen McTeagle. He's a Hampshire/Suffolk cross and was one of a set of three from a friend's farm. He's had rough few days, but I think (hope) he's on the road, so it's time to name him and send out a picture.

Tim came up with Ewen McTeagle. He was a character from a Monty Python skit. The way I understand it, he was "Scotland's finest bard", who's poems seem to all be short notes sent to friends and family and all following the same theme:

"If ya' could see your way to lending me six pence, I could at least buy a newspaper. That's not much to ask anyone."

Or, possibly the most useful, "Can I have 50 pounds to mend the shed."

I also have exciting news from the pond - babies out there as well! Stella and I have been trying get some pictures, but we are consistently outsmarted by the proud, but cautious parents. Hopefully more later. Parenting is hard, stressful work no matter if you are in a house, barn or pond.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Big Mouth, Big Butt...


Big fleece. The sun is shining and it's finally warm enough to do one of my favorite "jobs", washing wool. This is Peabody's - as always, one of my favorite fleeces. While Peabody is such a whack that we would keep him around just for entertainment value, his fleece is so nice that if we didn't enjoy his company, we'd keep him anyway. Here is an excellent portrayal of Tim trying to catch him for some routine vet care, except Tim ain't the one causing the airplane ride. You get the idea.


In case you are wondering what all that wool is drying on, it's our hammock. I've found that this is the only thing a hammock really gets used for on a farm. We have hooks on our porch posts and it is easily removed from under the shady trees to under the ceiling fan and then back to it's lonely outpost. This is a far superior method to the old way of leaving the cats in charge.


I wash all my wool in our old, trusty upright washing machine. There are other ways to wash, but here are instructions for my method if you are interested.


1. Turn your water heater up a bit - to where you really don't want to put your hand in it, but could, if you had to...for a second - like 140 degrees.

2. Fill the empty tub (I set my washer on "medium") and then add about 1 cup of blue Dawn. Carefully add the wool and then gently push it under the water. Don't agitate it too much. Let it soak for 20 minutes and then use the spin (no rinse water coming in) cycle to remove all the dirty water.

3. Remove the fleece from the tub and repeat step 2.

4. Remove the fleece and repeat the fill, soak, spin cycle two more times, but don't add soap to these two cycles.

Between cycles, take a damp rag and wipe the inside of the drum before re-filling. After two washes and two rinses, your fleece should be pretty darn clean. You could probably add another wash cycle if your fleece was super greasy or dirty, but I've never had to with our Jacob and Cheviot fleeces.

If you don't have a hammock, you can make a great drying rack out of an old screen door or such. You can also lay it out on towels, either indoors or out, but try to keep it out of the direct sunlight. While my fleeces are drying, the hammock is the perfect height for me to walk around it picking out any vegetable matter or second cuts I may have missed while skirting. Plus, it's such great fun to handle clean fluffy fiber.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

A Nice Place

If you can't be sitting in front of a crackling fire with a cat (or a bottle lamb) on your lap, the nicest place to be on a cold, dreary day is in a greenhouse. The air is warm and humid, smelling of potting soil and growing plants, and you are enveloped by the wonder of spring green. The sounds of the outside world are muffled and you are impervious to the bitter wind.

The tomato seedlings were ready to be transplanted over the weekend and some of the flowers were not far behind. We had snow - yes, snow - on the ground, and while it was beautiful, after acclimating to those 80 degree days, it had lost much of its "snow day" appeal. Perfect weather for some indoor gardening.



Brushy, of course, came along to help. Eli, who has still not forgiven me for kicking him out and filling the "cat house" with plants, watched from a distance. Ewenice stayed busy doing Ewenice things (that would be mostly eating) and the dogs were cashed out in the kitchen. In our little spot of heaven, the afternoon just flew by.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Happy Easter!

The Easter Bunny sent me a seriously cute lamb ears headband. I was going to pose Iris wearing it, but the Easter Skunk got to her first (!). My friend Shelley's daughter Maddie is a much cuter model anyway. Thanks Kentucky Girls :-).



Ewenice had a nice Easter. She got pretty thirsty hunting Easter eggs - hidden by the Adventure Chickens, of course - so she stopped off at the bar for a nice, icy cold beverage.


She thought she saw one hidden in the house...

How long do you give her to figure out the door latch?

Friday, April 6, 2007

Seems Like Just Yesterday

...that I was standing outside in short sleeves relaxing with my friends at the end of a busy day. Wait a minute, it WAS yesterday (well, actually the day before).

We hit the lower twenties last night and will again tonight. I crunched through frozen grass on the way to the barn this morning. The horticulturist on the news said there really wasn't anything we could do to stop the damage. We have the cutest, hard working little peach tree and it was covered in blooms the other day. Likewise the pears, apples, plums and cherry trees. While I feel bad for myself and my trees, I feel even worse for the folks they were interviewing from one of the local orchards. There is a big difference between fun and livelihood.

Monday, April 2, 2007

New Wheel in the Boo-grass State

Spring has sprung. And with a vengeance! Everyone is mowing and weed-eating, mulching and pruning. Luckily the sheep are shorn, as it's been incredibly warm for this time of year. The horses are shedding hair everywhere and the chickens are in heaven chasing bugs down by the creek. We are probably going to pay for this nice weather later in the spring... or at the end of this week. Here's a picture of handsome Boo in the green grass.



I have my first show of the year, The Paris Art Fair, this weekend. Sounds exotic, but that would be Paris, Kentucky :-). Still, if the weather holds, you know what they say about Paris in the springtime... The moral of this story, other than to give them some free publicity, is that between spring chores and getting ready for the show, if you don't hear from me, I'm probably just up to my elbows in wool or grass clippings.

As much as I enjoy needle felting sheep and mowing grass, I'd rather be sitting at my new spinning wheel. I found this on eBay last week. It's a beautiful Jensen production wheel and I love it!

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