Thursday, February 26, 2009

Adventures In Shipping

I need to ship nine pounds of quilt batting to California. To someone who has the coolest sounding house no less! And, after I started looking into the shipping, I thought why oh why couldn't I just hand deliver it - argh.

Here it is - and where, obviously, things start heading south. It's the bag of wool that ate a sofa. Not only can I not find a box big enough, but if I could, the shipping was going to be completely outrageous. Completely!

One of my genius friends suggested a Space Bag, which, using just your own vacuum cleaner, sucks all the air out and compresses things down to ridiculously small sizes.

Here it is now. Way small enough to fit in a fairly standard shipping box and save an incredible amount on shipping fees. Not only did it easily fit in the box, but I was able to let enough air back in to let it puff out enough so it could become it's own packing material (gotta love wool for that, eh?) and also give it a little breathing room - so to speak :-/.

My only concern with all this was if it would be bad to compress the wool so much. So, as a test I let it sit for awhile and then opened the seal and presto - whooooosh! Right back to where it started. Just amazing.

I learn something new every day.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


New internet farm slang - Rolling On Ground Making Me Smile :-).

Anyone want to play along? Either coming up with new fun farm acronyms...OR rolling around in the warm sun!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Take The Afternoon Off

Usually the winter months are pretty slow. It's too wet or too frozen to ride or drive. There is more of a problem with not enough grass than too much grass. It's too cold to shear sheep and keeping everyone fed becomes the biggest chore. This is the time I cherish. I can get caught up on (most) everything that falls through the cracks during the summer and fall. I read books. Learn new things (well, I tend to learn something new every day, but usually not by choice!). Play with wool... You know, the good stuff.

This winter however has been go, go, go. Part has been self-inflicted - a new farm painting, new website design and a new etsy shop. And if you set up a shop, you've got to expect/hope to be busy. Now, I'm not really complaining - it's nice to have money coming in while you watch it all fly off a wagon as you feed hungry sheep - but as I headed home from the post office this morning I decided I deserved lunch out and an afternoon off in neighboring Georgetown, Kentucky.

I had lunch at a vegetarian friendly/healthy food choice place - a small chain, I think, called Justix - all the food is grilled on sticks - get it? ;-) I had portobello mushrooms with brown rice and broccoli, enjoyed talking to the owner for a few minutes and then watched part of the UK basketball game.

My first shopping stop was Bohannon's Books. I'd ordered Henry Moore's Sheep Sketchbook and hadn't had a chance to run in and pick it up. I discovered this bookstore during my pact to shop local for all my Christmas gifts. If you are ever in the neighborhood, stop by. If she doesn't have it - new or used - she can get it. While there I also picked up a copy of Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver. I should have read this book two years ago (heck, we ALL should have read that book) when it first came out. I also found another small treasure.

My next stop was Stone's Throw Artisans, my nearest LYS (local yarn shop) and within walking distance of Bohannon's. Beth and her family raise sheep out in the county and her shop is full of beautiful yarn, roving and BOOKS! She has the new Judith MacKenzie McCuin book, The Intentional Spinner, in stock and I excitedly grabbed one. I've just glanced through it quickly, but am very impressed and have already picked up a couple good tips. I have a few spinning/knitting/weaving books in queue, but this one has moved to the top of the stack.

When I got home I took some more time off to sit with Wiwi (who'd been horribly neglected by my leaving for a few hours!), drink a cup of coffee and read the first chapter of the Kingsolver book - as always not just informative, but an enjoyable read as well. The statistics of transporting food all over the country - and world - are appalling. I am definitely going to make a bigger effort to eat locally this year. And if it's anywhere near as fun as shopping locally, it's going to be a great year!

On a (more) serious note - we really need to treasure and support these small, local businesses. They are fighting a mountainous uphill climb just to pay their rent, much less feed their kids, sheep, cats, dogs... I know I may have paid an extra dollar or two for my books, but received more than that back in good service and enjoyable company. And I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have found a lady walking with her sheep, cat and dog card at the "local" sprawl-mart ;-).

For real, a "crazy" sheep lady card - and not from the yarn shop!

Friday, February 20, 2009

Army Or Tea Party?

Army. (If you look closely, it kind of looks like Weaslie was already a casualty ;-)

Tea Party.

If it were just that easy.

These "Easter Sheep" are headed to Urban Farmhouse near Columbus, Ohio, this afternoon. I wish it were closer so I could hand deliver them. Miss Ewenice and I would love to see her beautiful store!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Best Seat In The House

Wiwi can find an open bag of roving in mere seconds - apparently a strong cat magnet.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Of Historical Significance

To no one other than me.

We have three painted stools in our kitchen. They were originally in my grandmother's kitchen. I don't remember when she painted them; they'd been there as long as I could remember. They are mine now.

The other day I was cleaning out the closet in my work room and ran across a shoe box filled with some wood blanks she had saved and her paint brushes. I hadn't really looked at them before and decided to take a break. Inside I found not only what I knew was there, but also a folded sheet of drafting paper. I carefully unfolded it and found the sketches she's done for the chair designs.

Something about that really touched me. She was a much better artist than I. The grapes look like actual grapes. The finished product has color and shading and depth. If I painted them, you'd have to paint the word "grapes" under my folksy design.

I don't even have any brushes worth saving. I buy the cheap ones because I'm really hard on my brushes: I don't clean them well enough, if something isn't painting a fine enough line, I snip some bristles off, those sorts of horrible bad habits. As I slowly looked through the bundle of her brushes though I had to laugh.

Some dried yellow paint, some blue, some snipped off ends even.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

A Big Rock For Valentine's Day

Well, I guess I should say a big pile of rocks.

The spillway on the big pond started washing out with all the rain and snow melt, so Saint Tim has switched from ditch digger to ditch filler this weekend.

I'm staying inside this afternoon, eating on a lemon chess pie - my real valentine present :-D.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Rooster Rescue

"Hey, do you want this rooster?" my friend asked.

At least she asked. The person who dumped him in their yard, didn't.

I did miss hearing a rooster crowing and since he was headed to a bad end if I didn't take him, you know what happened. So, meet Tyrone.

Yes, his neck is really that long. He's not stretching.

We don't know what kind(s) he is.

Even better? Tyrone can't crow. Oh, you know it. He doesn't know he can't crow though and he practices all the time, but alas, he sounds like a coon hound. So, there's a famous coon hound around here named Tyrone and we decided if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.

Comby says, "Yeah, whatever. I ain't goin' up in no stupid tree."

Monday, February 9, 2009

Belly Up... the (sugar) bar.

This unseasonably warm weather has brought out the bees. Bees are meticulous house keepers and use warm (over 50 degrees F) days to fly around outside to take care of "business" and also clean out their hive. I added to their mess this afternoon by slopping the sugar syrup I cooked up for them, but they didn't seem to mind. This hive headed into winter in good shape and they probably didn't really need the extra food, but it gives them a little extra boost and you know no one goes hungry around here ;-).

I periodically walk back to The Frog Pond to check our hive throughout the winter. If it's cold I obviously don't see any bees, so what I like to do is put my ear right next to the hive and tap the hive lightly with my finger a couple times - like knocking on their door. Inside, what starts as a light bzzzzzz turns into a much louder BZZZZZZZ. I love that sound because it tells me they are okay. When I walked out to the hive yesterday, in the warm sun and 60 plus degrees, I could hear the hive from almost 10 feet away. No need to knock.

So what do they do all winter? How do they stay warm? During cold weather the bees cluster up together inside the hive and generate heat by shivering or contracting their wing muscles. Even in freezing weather, the inside of the cluster will maintain a temperature range of 57-85 degrees. When the queen starts laying eggs, midwinter, the temperature in the cluster surrounding the eggs and brood raises to around 93 degrees*.

I think that's just amazing!

*The Beekeeper's Handbook

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sunday Scenes

Well, actually some of my favorite pictures taken on Friday. Today was spent in short sleeves! It's like all that snow never happened.

Caspar Belly aka Spooky Tooth and Boudreaux "Kid, ya botherin' me!"

Popcorn PeePee Pants

Buddy and Petunia

The always regal Miss Ewenice with Ford standing behind her.

Cute as a button Clover Belly.

Buddy, with Rebecca Boone peaking in the corner

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Yeah? Well, I'm Sick Of You, TOO!!!

For close to two weeks, due to the snow and ice and then more snow, the horses did not leave the barn. Five horses and three free choice run-in stalls and an "open" area about 25' by 75' along the side of the barn. We tried to keep them as comfortable as possible. They had plenty of hay all day and night and for a few days we even opened up the end of the hay shed to give them just a little more space. Still, that's a long time for anyone to be cooped up in close quarters with T-Bone.

The sun came out and warm breezes began to blow yesterday and the ice on the hill got soft enough everyone could "go free". And here's where I found them...

...just about as far away from each other as they could get.

Friday, February 6, 2009

My New Favorite Snowman...Or Sheep

I'm so glad so many people encouraged me to go out and build a snow sheep. The snow is rapidly disappearing - which I'm very sad about - and it was nice to go out and do one last fun thing.

I know she won't last long, but I'll enjoy her while she's here.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

My Favorite Snowman

Disclaimer - this is not at our farm.

Is this not the best snowman you've ever seen? (click to biggify)

We took this picture on our recent trip to NY to pick up the great wheel and Rebecca Boone. I keep looking out at our snow and ice and more snow - that's now melting a little - and wishing we'd gotten the right kind of snow to try and build a big snow sheep :-).

Have a little fun out there!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Making Tracks

Luckily the ice has done just that. Some of the snow has melted as well over the last two days, but we are still mostly covered. We had a load of hay delivered this morning and our "hay guy" told me that when we have a big snow like this it actually helps the grass for the upcoming year by giving it a nitrogen boost (I think I'm repeating this correctly). I'm not sure of the science, but I know he knows his grass, so I'm looking forward to some good green sprouts after six more weeks of winter.

As I was walking up to the barn this morning I noticed all the overlapping foot prints in the snow.

The entire driveway is a footprint of our daily lives - all of us traipsing back and forth, back and forth, side trip to check out a tree, back to the track...

And good ole' Claire Bear heading back to the barn...alone.


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