Friday, December 28, 2007

'the box' (and some yarn stuff)

Colleen has asked for an update - and while I WAS collating email addresses and putting together an email to the folks interested.... this is way easier. (DUH moment)


So, 'the box' has made huge progress here. A couple of Target gift cards have arrived to be stuffed in the box, and emails from 3 people that packages of goodies are on their way to me for the box, mailed out to me either yesterday or today.
Some of the cash donations thru paypal went to good use yesterday. Santa found out about a couple of things that had been long on a waiting list for her (score 1 for ebay) and they are on their way to her today, ahead of 'the box'. I don't want to spoil it for Santa and tell you what was purchased so you'll have to wait until after 'the box' and the wishlist items are received.

A check came in the mail that I've combined with other cash donated towards a gift card at the local grocery chain for the family. I grew up with this grocery chain and I'm here to tell you that it's not just food - it's pharmacy, clothing, housewares, you name it - it's there. And it's not wal-mart... This chain has had everything in their stores since before I was born (and we will not discuss that date any further). Anyways, a dollar goes a long way there and I'd love to see this amount doubled... right now it's at $75.00. You can paypal me funds at gwynivar @ hotmail dot com and put 'secret santa' in the comment/note/subject line.

Still waiting on some things coming in the mail that folks have emailed me they were sending. If you've mailed it to me, please let me know so I can anticipate things here. If you have not mailed it but still want to, get your keester to the Post Office asap. I'd like to get this box on it's way Jan. 2nd at the latest - depending on who emails me with cries of "It's on it's way!!".

**Very Important: If you commented that you wanted to participate but have not had a chat with me via email or Ravelry mail, you need to get in touch with me asap at jennifer @ nysfarm dot com. I have not ignored anyone, I simply could not find your email address thanks to the blogger system. There is still time to play your part as Santa for a family making ends meet - out of the string in her stash. Give me a shout!

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Yarn Stuff:

For xmas, I knit my MIL a scarf. Nora announced she wanted to dye it. And so, the scarf:


And then here's Nora getting ready to dye it....

And, the finished scarf (we won't discuss what time christmas eve this photo was taken):


Pat, Lisa, you'll please take note of a couple important things here. First and foremost, I FINISHED A PROJECT. Second, it even has design 'features' (not mistakes or 'bugs').

Big deal you say, it's a scarf! Ya, well, Pat & Lisa know that knitting hasn't EXACTLY been my forte lately. I've knit circular lace shawls on the fly in the past, but recently haven't been able to knit, well, anything without completely screwing it up so we're pretty pleased with the basics right now. So, if you'll excuse me, I've got an appt with an ice pack for the migraine. Ta for now!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The other side of the black hole.


Apparently, my house is the other side of the knitter's blackhole.
Could someone let The Harlot know that I found her tape measure? Thanks.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Pics (found the camera cable)

So, if my daughter were made of money, this is how she would look:



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I don't know how they do things where you live when it snows like a new ice age is starting, but here... folks get to work just like any other day, just using different modes of transportation.


This is Casey, who works here on the farm for me. The storm closed the schools but didn't keep her from coming to work! I must say, excellent work ethics out here in farm country. And no, she is not looking for work. She's mine. All mine. (dudes, she even gets to work here EARLY.)



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These are some of the skeinlets/balls of colors ready to go into colorwork for The Nine Tailors:


I missed something in my 'in progress list' on my last post... Colleen - I am spinning as fast as I can!!


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Ok, about this secret santa thing. It's not going to be in time for christmas, but perhaps that makes it all the better. I met someone the other day. No not THAT kind of someone - I already got me one of those!


This was a someone who touched my heart. There's this family see, with not much in the pocket so to speak, but plenty in the heart. There is a spirit here that deserves to be preserved, lifted up, and promoted to continue. Without this kind of person in the world, it would be a darker, quieter, bleak world. She supports her family with things you and I take for granted. And she has dreams, people. Go to school sort of Big dreams. And you know what? They really have very little to do with herself until you realize that the most important thing to her.... is helping others. She has nothing, and the most important thing to her is getting things in order so that she can give to others.
I don't think she reads my blog, and she doesn't know I'm doing this. I would like to ask those of you with a little extra, to help me out here. I've got a box. I am filling the box. She is a knitter. You see where I'm going with this maybe? Maybe not. Sure, I want to fill the box with yarn, but I also want to fill the box with the things she needs. Family to support, husband who works very hard and 3 beautiful children to raise with strong values. So, I'd like to add some gift cards. Wal-mart, Target, the local grocery chain. If you'd like to help in that way, and can pretend for a moment that you have another person on your christmas shopping list, then send me an email at jennifer @ symbol nysfarm dot com and we'll put something together. If you'd like to send on some stash that needs a good home where her knitting literally clothes the family, email me for that as well and we'll work that out.
I leave you with this thought. Take a look at what you spend on 'required' items each month. Now, take a look at your grocery bill. Could you support a family of 5 on half of that? on a quarter of that?

Added afterthought: Folks, thank you for pitching in. For those of you who've left comments wanting to do your part.... if you haven't heard from me it's because blogspot has not given me your email address or you forgot to fill it in. I've tried all day to send you psychic vibes, but obviously sunspots are getting in the way or something.
You really need to email me for best results here at jennifer @ nysfarm dot com.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Quickly!

So Eric & I both have terrible head colds (again)... have simply slogged through life here, moving from room to room (or, kleenex box to kleenex box if you look at it from my point of view) forcing myself to at least keep going because some progress is at least SOME progress.
So, until I find the camera cable, this post is pictureless but here's the finished list:

The Nine Tailors: Mailed out, every single lovin' one of them. And this should have way more to it, because what it really means that I've finished is this:

  • dyed what felt like hundreds of skeins of what someone on Lisa's blog titled 'floodwater gray'
  • dyed and divided smaller skeins of cuff gold
  • dyed really only a couple each of the 8 colors for the color patternwork cause each sock only needs a couple of yards each.....
  • and then wound those all into balls and divided them into smaller balls for each kit (you'll be thrilled to know I pulled them all at the same time saving myself from winding each color individually, wound them into a center-pull ball, put each one in a small ziplock with the center-pull ready to knit. No work for you :) I have pictures, but can't find the cable.
  • Remembered to put one of each (main color, cuff color, packet of colorwork colors, AND emerald bead packet) and a pattern book into it's own little ziplock (love ziplock) and mail them.

One Rosy Hat: Finished - it's slated for a spot in a store on Thursday

Christmas packages mailed to (most) family members.

Still on the to-do:

Make soap - that's what I'm doing right now, this blogging is just a figment of your imagination.

mail the REST of the xmas stuff today.

start brown hat to be finished by I would say the 23rd at the latest...

order cousin Austin's 'stuff' for them to mail today.

order Grandma's 'stuff' for them to mail today.

Finish project for MIL coming for xmas. (feel free to re-read that last one, it's a whopper, since I just cast on last night and Nora wants to dye it when it's done so it's in boring white right now)

Finish mystery gift

If anyone has any ideas for Eric that do not involve knitting a sweater in record time, or moving to the beach cause he's sick of snow, please let me know. So far I have one of those Toblerone Chocolate Oranges you 'whack' to break into slices. Not much for christmas presents, ya know?

Find camera cable.

So, that's the to-do list for today. All bets are off.

Oh, and remind me to tell you all about my 'secret santa' idea cause I'm going to need your help to make it really good.

Monday, December 03, 2007

It snowed here...


Am I not the cutest?




Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Belated B

They definately do not ever never, go in these:



Or these, the summer version:

Or even in the 'dress-up' summer version. (If you see these at TSC, do NOT buy them. The sun won't heat your feet up as in the regular summer boots above, but they will also not last more than 2 weeks. These must be the Martha Stewart version, meant to look good but have someone else do the actual work.)
No, no. These go here with butt in chair and feet up on stool, being admired by passerbys forced to stop yet again and admire them.


Want a closer look?


When Lisa was last with us here at chez critters, she pulled a sample out she'd been busily knitting on to show me. I was really liking the color, thought it knit up really cool in such & such pattern she was using. She looked at me as if I'd grown another head, and told me "well YOU dyed it!!". Hmm. thinks I. Really? But it looks so... awesome! I did THAT? I'm still surprised when I knit something I've dyed and it not only actually works like regular ol' yarn when 2 sticks are applied, but looks good doing it (the project, not my ass), I'm surprised.
So anyways, when I opened the package from Lisa and saw the socks, I turned to Eric and told him "if Lisa tells me that I dyed that, I'm making a dr's appt for myself because something is seriously wrong with my brain to not remember the absolute most amazing colors." And plus, it's REALLY shiny.
Well, thankfully, my brain cells such as they are, are not failing me. I do not remember it, because I did not dye it (score one for the brain). Astrid did!! How cool is this, that the dyer dyes yarn for the knitter making socks for her OTHER dyer friend. You need to totally check out her etsy shop. Run, don't walk - er, type asap because she is all about the awesome, bold colors. Not only that, but the shiney part? This is bamboo blend yarn. The colorway is Bamboo Forest and the pattern is being called 'You Jane'. So we have my yarn, off to Astrid, dyed and snatched away by Lisa, back to me where it originated. Wickedly awesome circle, I must say. She has more of it there for sale, you should clean her out of stock. (How many of you are there, anyways?)
So anyways, these totally awesome socks are mine as part of a belated birthday present that also included 2 of the totally new Harmony needles from knitpicks in size 1's. Lisa has a gift coming from me as well, and no I didn't go to another designer and ask for a sock pattern for Lisa. I xxxxxxxx and xxxx some lovely xxxxx in very nice colors of xxxx xxxxx and xxxx. It's interesting to xxxx the xxxx because I don't get time to do that much anymore. It's part of a small xxxx that got started on xxxxxxxx, though it's been a few, I hope she remembers that! Because of the 'when are you coming' question, I put off sending her gift longer than she held off on mine, and so it's here.
If there's a fire here, I'm going back for my hand-knit socks.
Oh, and btw. Please note there are indeed 2, count em' 2 socks in the picture. 2 feet, 2 socks. Lisa can indeed finish a PAIR of socks.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Hey, whatcha looking for?

Have you found my contact lense yet? Keep looking!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

"Jennifer has potential, but has problems following directions...."

.... says more teacher comment/report cards than I care to discuss from my stay in public institutions.

(Pat, thank you for the positive thoughts on my knitting. This post, is dedicated to you. Enjoy.)
So I have a friend in Michigan who has the loveliest Icelandic sheep in 48 states and 3 countries. And the best smelling as well, she has a lavender farm. Go look, I'll wait. See what I mean? Anyways, she knits these wonderful felted hats, large brim, fancy shmancy - she puts great buttons or effects on them etc. Anyways, I wanted to be that talented and so she graciously shared the directions. They were straightforward. I could so do this. I got yarn, I got needles, and I started following directions. Well, sorta. You see, I had the same yarn she used with awesome results but just wanted to knit a 'test hat' so I got guage using 3 strands of 'Car Cozy' (which still needs a new name chosen - I haven't forgotten). No problem.

Now, I've knit felted hats in the past, lots actually (but just your basic rolled brim hat felted with not much brim or shaping) with no problems. So, when I started reading the cast/on number I was stunned. It was way more than I expected. It couldn't possibly be right. I cast on the smallest number for the smallest size, and started knitting. This was huge. I looked ahead in the pattern and saw all sorts of directions that made no sense including increases and decreases in places that really shouldn't matter. Obviously I was going to have to edit things. My friend must have misunderstood what pattern I was wanting. So, on about row 15, I started decreasing down to the largest size of MY pattern I usuually made, hoping to salvage this hat. I have also in the past started my decrease point a bit to early, so I used the pattern direction for 'guidance' on how many rows to knit before beginning the decreases for the crown. I noted that the decrease/crown rows in the pattern were also sadly bizarre and obviously not going to produce the desired hat shape and so I skipped that as well, and used my own good judgement on that section as well.

So without further ado Pat, I give you my felted hat.

Here it is after knitting. The marker is for scale, it's a regular ol' whiteboard marker. The color changes look better felted, that's expected.

It seems a bit big to me, but the hat was supposed to have more brim than the ones I normally knit, and felting solves a lot of problems... right?

I somehow couldn't find the next picture this morning, (lost to the laptop crash) but suffice it to say that it came out of the wash flat. Like a frisbee, flat. No 'hat' shaping at all. Pancake. So, I took some of the gray yarn used to knit it, and pinched in four corners and felted it again.




It does look a little better in person, I felted it again and used it at Rhinebeck to display cobweb weight yarn skeins. That picture is missing as well... oh well.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Search Words

So thankfully, not much in the way of folks finding this blog looking for beautiful ice land ic gi rls anymore (sorry for the spaces but we don't want to start those searches again, now do we).

However, a consistant number of folks search and find this blog by way of children and medicine, so here goes.

"four year old taking cough medicne"
"tylenol or motrin for fever in kids"
"four year old can't keep cough medicine down"

you get the picture.

Here's my advice for those of you searching. Robitussin cough syrup works. Triaminic night time cold and cough really isn't just for nighttime, nor does it make my daughter sleepy since they changed out the old pseudoephedrine for phenylephrine. It seems to counteract the diphenhydramine HCI (benadryl) in the med. It is prob. the easiest for her to drink straight. Try bribing with a half stick of kit kat (for pete's sake don't give them the whole stick or the whole package - they don't need it.
If they can't keep the vile tasting and revolting medicine down, try spiking their O.J. however, don't lie. They know it's in there, so just put it in with a couple of oz not a whole glass. No sense prolonging the torture by forcing a whole glass of 'wrong' tasting O.J. Do not mix it with jello, it's gross. period.
If they can't keep it down, it could be the gag reflex from the amount of sugar/sweetener combined with the revolting flavor, try the O.J.
If it's coming back up several min. later, get them to eat first. Risk of more to clean up, but less risk overall if their stomach isn't shocked by the sweetener/meds. Crackers. Maybe some peanut butter on them.

Tylenol vs. Motrin. Motrin. Definately. It lasts 6 hours, tylenol only goes the distance for 4. If you want to swap them out, use the motrin at night.

Keep notes. jot down the fever temp, the time and the meds you give out. you may need it if you go to the doctor, because you may be short on brain cells/sleep by then.

Questions in the middle of the night? Some local hospitals have an ask-a-nurse, some insurance companies have them. Find out who does before kids get sick so you already know who you might call for advice including dosing advice when multiple meds are needed.

Good Luck!

Ok, back to our regularly scheduled program. If you'll excuse me, it's Thanksgiving in a couple of days and I really ought to plan something or we'll be having hotdogs.

Update/Ammendment:

Colleen makes an excellent point about homeopathic remedies and their use. In fact, I totally forgot to mention my love for a product called zicam. Even my daughter will use the nasal swabs, because they don't smell AT ALL, and face it. Kids like to stick things in their noses. At least this one is supervised, and it stops a cold and the symptoms pretty durn fast. Love me some zicam nasal swabs! See some on sale? Pick me up a box.
Also, husband swears by the Airborne product, I picked them up for him a few weeks ago. He's feeling like they work, and he's pretty dubious of such hocus pocus things. My daughter will not take that product though, even the childs version Pixie something. We tried one, she ate some of it, but then said it was 'spicy'. And wouldn't touch it. It's not meant for water though, it's just a powder you pour on your tongue. She opted to 'dip' her spoon in it instead. Oh well. Off to drink my echinacea tea (DUH- another one) made by Traditional Medicinals. I've used several of their teas with great success for other things.

Thanks Colleen!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Answers etc.

Gretchen - this post is for you, I cannot reply to your comment regarding the sheep's milk soap, please email me directly at jennifer at nysfarm dot com and I'll answer all your quesitons, because it is slightly different than making goat's milk soap.

Thank you miss Tsarina, I was hoping to avoid the obvious 'I'm a dork' thing with the truck... it was low on water/antifreeze 'stuff'. That's what happens when you overheat. I was so focused on the fact that the vehicle leaks oil and that problem = oil, I neglected to actually apply a brain cell to the actual problem. Overheating = radiator, not oil.. Now, I wonder if there are any problems from having more than the required amount of oil in a vehicle?

Still recovering (ever the optimist) from the strep/bronchitis thing. Taking WAY less cold meds & codiene... not sure what I'm going to use for an excuse now for my dork attacks though.

Have attempted knitting something again, it's a bit chilly for a dip in the frog pond but you can't leave crap on the needles forever so I'm back to staring at balls of yarn. Am I the only one here who finds it ironic to have basically, a stash registering in the triple digits in POUNDAGE (even if most of it is undyed) but who is unable to knit a single project successfully, other than knit hats that are NOT felted (that's another blog post all by itself.)? And, on a slightly different thought on the knitting idea, what do you call it when there are so many things you want to knit that you do not cast on any of them at all but instead have anxiety issues because of all the things you want to knit?
I want to have some of that 'mindless knitting' to do while waiting for the water to boil etc. I seem to be the black hole of mindless though (let's think about THAT one for a moment, shall we?). All those times your knitting and you feel like you've measured, gotten 11 inches of knitting, knit a bazillion rows in 3 hours and still have only 11 inches, it's my fault. All of the stitches you've knit got sucked into the black hole, and ended up here to be part of a frogged project. You knit them, I try to knit anything and end up frogging your stitches. Sorry.
The knitting issue here is getting pretty sad really. Recently I've even managed to screw up knitting in the round on round 1. C/O 12 stitches, divide onto dpn, knit 1 row. At the end of row 1, I had 13 stitches. And I didn't just carry the yarn over the needle at one of the 'corners', and yes I started with 4 stitches each on 3 needles I counted them twice, and I could not find an increase stitch. I'm just lucky this way. Being as how casting on dpn's is annoying, I knit the next round and k2tog. I've made it half way through that pattern now, and it resembles the picture in no way shape or form. pictures later when batteries are charged.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Stranded.

On Friday, I had several errands to run. Post office, Bank, feed-mill... basic run of the mill (get it? mill?) stuff. Anyways, I'm driving 'old blue' right now, the farm truck. In every sense of the phrase 'farm truck'. Ol' Blue is a chevy, she's old, and she's ugly. I've had other farmers get a ride in ol blue and exclaim "wow! this really IS a farm truck!"
The passenger side door does not open from the inside, and the purty blue vinyl covering is gone, leaving the polite but obviously cardboard frame cover of the door exposed. The window also is stuck, thankfully mostly up but leaving year-round fresh air (and rain, and snow) through the 1/2 inch gap at the top.
The driver side door, not only is missing the vinyl cover as well, but is also missing the polite cover the passenger door still maintains. The only way the driver side door opens from the inside, is to give a practiced downward tug on the heavy guage wire that's been knotted around the door jimmie-thing as an anchor. The window is the bane of my driving existance. It falls. straight down with a thump if you hit a bump just right. It no longer startles me onto the shoulder of the road, but it's annoying. In the rain and the snow. Thankfully, that purty cover is missing, so you can actually LIFT the window back into position and put the complex holding mechanism back in place. The mechanism? 2 x 4 cut at an angle and wedged between the bottom of the window and the bottom of the door. Oh, and if the bump in the road doesn't bring the window down, it will jar the door loose, leaving it in that 1/2 closed place car doors go to when you don't close them with enough 'oomph'. So, you do occasionally find yourself performing the following maneuver:
hit bump, jar door (see new draft, rain and snow).
practiced twist and pull of opening lever to open door slightly, and slam closed in an upwards motion to attempt to FINALLY get it tight enough to stay closed.
Pull over to fix window because you slammed the door hard enough to drop the window.
Repeat at next bump in the road.
The tailgate closes VERY tightly. Probably because it's bent. To get it open, my hubby can give it a swift tug, but he's taller and strong than I am. I have to climb into the back of the truck via the hitch (bumper? what bumper?) and kick it open, coincidentally making my muck boots really and true, 'shxx-kickers'.
The plow on the front end works just fine though. And if you need to go somewhere and the plow is attached, please remember to lift it back UP into place periodically as the hydrolics don't quite hold anymore, and you'll eventually be plowing the state roads for the county.
The radio works, and the heater works, and with those 2 things (and the complex holding mechanism for the window), I can go anywhere in my farm truck.

Except apparently, to the post office, bank, and feed mill. You see, I have to be back in time for the school bus. The truck overheated on the side of the road, roughly 4 miles from home... and 4 miles from town. Take your pick. I opted for town because there was a propane company 1/2 way there and I could at least use the phone. I had 2 hours, no problem.
Did I mention the 36 degree day with blowing snow occasionally? Anyways, thankfully a neighbor I knew (ok, I recognized the truck better than I recognized him) stopped and picked me up. Took me to town, I bought oil (the truck leaks oil - did I mention that? Husband says "any problems, add oil.") and he took me back to the truck. Dropped me off. I could not get the hood open. Did I mention, that to get the hood to open, you need to pull on the cord attached to the latch under the hood that kinda hangs out from under the hood? Made of telephone cable?
Couldn't open hood. 1 1/2 hours left. Took the chance, truck engine had cooled off and I drove home slowly. Stopped at a friend's farm, no one home. Stopped at another friend's farm, no one home. 2 more farms? oh ya, no one home. Where the heck are all the freakin' farmers who farm for a living?? Oh ya... deer season.
Now as I pulled back in the driveway having accomplished none of my tasks, but in time for the bus (which was all that really mattered to me), I reflected on our reliance on these machines. I was talking to a friend about it later that evening who commented on all of the new Amish families in the region who've moved up from Pennsylvania and how they have it much easier in that respect because they just hook up the ol' horse & buggy. Of course, I drove by an Amish farm a few weeks ago to see in dismay a horse in the pasture.... 4 legs in the air. I guess at least he wasn't stranded on the side of the road 4 miles from home!!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Now's Your Chance!

FlockSock Club 2008 is OPEN - Sign-up now!

2007 isn't over yet, and the club has seen some awesome socks already this year , with a couple still to come.


2008 looks to be just as amazing as Lisa takes Art for Your Feet to new levels of design, fit, fashion, comfort and fun.


And, even though the club doesn't officially start until next year, there is already a contest running - why wait until next year for the fun to start? Sign up before Dec. 15th to be entered in a drawing for a Bag o' Goodies from the Tsarina of Tsocks and the Yarn Fairy. Heck, the Chocolate Fairy might even smack her wand into things a few times. (You do know there's such a thing as a Chocolate Fairy, right?)


So, visit the website today for full details and feel free to email me with any questions.


And, btw, thank you so much for the Birthday Wishes last week!


Monday, November 05, 2007

(more) Things I've learned from the child.

She's now 5, and I learn something new all the time from her. Like most recently...

Rule # 64 Always keep an extra toothbrush on hand. You never know when the current toothbrush may be used for something other than teeth.
Associated Tip: When you send her in to wash her hands, and she comes out with dry hands, and her toothpaste to tell you it's almost gone, you should get up and go see WHY.

I was in denial and instead simply sent her back in to actually wash her hands. It wasn't until I realized that the noises were not the right 'noises' that I went to investigate. And found her vigorously scrubbing the entire sink basin with her toothbrush. Now for someone out there, that might not be a super huge issue, but dudes. We work in the barn on a farm. With the animals, and the things animals DO, and then come in and WASH OUR HANDS in THAT sink. No harm, new toothbrush at the ready, and the sink smells refreshingly of strawberry now.

In other news, Nora & I are home sick - have been all weekend with a nasty head-cold. No new laptop, and not much else really.

Today is November 5th.
Notably today, FDR was re-elected for the 3rd time.
Susan B Anthony was fined $100.00 for attempting to vote for Ulysses S. Grant (you go girl) and she was arrested on this day a couple years later for attempting to vote.
Guy Fawkes attempted treason,

Remember remember the fifth of November
Gunpowder, treason and plot.
I see no reason why gunpowder, treason
Should ever be forgot...

And Art Garfunkel & I share a Birthday. Now I know why I like his music. Now if you'll excuse me, it's time for our cold medicine.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Vancalcar Acres
www.nysfarm.com
518-993-4326

Summer 2007 Newsletter

It’s fascinating to listen to the good ol’ boys talk about the weather. This year was dry. Last year was wet. Winter was harder than usual. Crops don’t like the heat. After several years of this, I’ve come to the conclusion that there never is a really good weather year. There’s always something that goes wrong, and for someone, it will. Dry heat is good for the alfalfa. Lots of rains are good for the grass hay. There’s nothing to be done about any situation, and I think that’s why we spend so much time discussing it. Because we have no control over the ‘acts of God’ issues in our environment, it makes our entire career of farming a bit of a crap shoot. A critical piece of the puzzle and you have no control. It’s no wonder we tend to fixate on it around here.

As summer winds down, and the geese begin migrating, I realize how fast and far we’ve come around here this past year. Last summer, we struggled to maintain the health of both ewes and lambs who were fighting strong parasite loads and foot problems. It was a very hard year. This summer, we’ve had a drought to fight with. Ponds are low, and the wells are at critical levels. We’ve tried to be very gentle with water consumption, so the animals get what they need, but perhaps the garden could have done better.

This year we started out by lambing more than we’ve ever done. We exposed almost 300 ewes on Christmas Day last year, giving us a scheduled lambing of mid-May. After swearing we wouldn’t have lambs earlier, we actually managed to almost meet that goal, and only a couple of ewes lambed in the winter months. Pollinated. Then in April, we thought we’d give a try to adding milking to the farm, and picked up a flock of 40 or so milking ewes from a nearby dairy. Then the purchase of the equipment for that project fell through, leaving us with productive ewes but no milking equipment. We lambed them out a month before the main flock, and got almost 100 lambs out of those girls. Never saw so many triplets! A week after they finished, the main group began. We did not combine the 2 groups, because of several issues, but this meant that we now had 2 separate groups to maintain. The workload grew. By the end of summer, there was the dairy flock, the main flock, the lamb group, and a temporary adoption of some Rambouillet who needed a home, as well as the group of culls recovering in the barn yard… oh ya, and some pigs & cows J

Once lambing began in earnest, we were flat out around here for some time. We had hired on a high-school student to help out with lambing, chores, yarn, you name it – Casey did it. She’s still with us, and very helpful. After careful tagging of lambs up over the 250 lamb mark (not counting the first 90 some from the dairy flock), I admit we got a little tired. The lambing pasture was quite large, the girls were quite spread out, and it was almost impossible to move them to tighter pastures because of the number of lambs. We stopped counting/tagging lambs, and simply began walking the pasture to assist with problem births, or pick up ‘donated’ lambs to be added to the bottle-lamb group.

The farm had over 400 lambs born this spring. We were exhausted, and the summer was just beginning. Because of our decision to lamb later in the spring (warmer weather, better feed, easier on the shepherd) with a mild winter (until February when we got 9 feet of snow that is), we had more singles than expected…. and heavier lambs. Heavier lambs translated politely into difficult and sometimes traumatic lambing episodes. Typical newborn lamb weights should be around 7-8lbs here. We were seeing singles pushing 11-14 lbs. Moms were unhappy, and so were we. There were several new bottle lambs because of difficult and long labors – the ewe just gave up and had no energy to accept lambs, or walked away in shock. Some came into the barn and were penned with their lambs, recovered, and were fine. Others were lambs found in the pasture, with no idea who the mother was. Occasionally, I was even able to graft or force an adoption of one found lamb to a ewe who was lambing and now thinks she has twins. All in all, it was a hard lambing session on everyone.

Learning from the previous year’s parasite struggle and chronic foot problems, we began culling for repeat offenders in both categories. We started semi-regular foot baths through the chute to get ahead of foot problems and stop them before they started, and added several worming sessions to the flock over the summer. Costly all of them, but worth it in the long-run. As a very dry summer progressed, Eric was able to make all of the hay we would need for the winter himself and for the first time, we were not going to need to buy in hay. Usually, we would have grazed those hay fields a few weeks later as the grass grew back, but this summer was so dry that we were unable to come back to them until just a couple of weeks ago. This meant we leased a few extra acres from a farm behind ours, and grazed there instead. More than a mile’s walk at some points to go feed the dog out there! We definitely get our exercise around here.

The yarn business has continued to grow. Last fall, I had no idea we would be doing this, the sock kits were almost a last-minute idea for Rhinebeck and I had a whopping 13lbs of sock yarn in stock. This year, we’ve just over half way through a year-long Sock Club, have new sock kits, a shawl kit, and 2 new sock yarns. In stock now? Sock yarn in the triple digits. What a difference! And what a struggle. Both sheep and yarn are a full-time job, when you add in the household and my daughter Nora. I began doing the dyeing at night after she would go to bed, dyeing yarn until midnight, and managing farm ‘stuff’ during the day. Although, I must say that occasionally when we’d dye during the day, she would often dye her own yarn and she really produced some lovely painted yarns! Some folks say that Nora should have her own line of yarns, but every time I think of putting them up for sale… I falter. Forgive me for wanting my daughter’s yarn in my own stash for a while J Maybe someday.

Some things that were in the plan for this year, never came into being. Farmer’s markets were one. We had plans of being vendors with at least one market, and we did apply… and I’m grateful now that they put us on a waiting list. As the salesman of the family, I think I might have had a meltdown adding this to the weekly chore list. I try to put out four newsletters per year, and I know we’re short on that this year. Milking sheep? Quite relieved that never happened. We would have started milking just about the same time lambing was in full swing for the main group of sheep. Nothing like 4am to slave in the barn for 3 hours to start an already sleep-deprived day! We still need to pick up several bottle calves to raise for beef, and I’m afraid we are already 6 months behind on that project. Knowing it will take 2 years to raise them out on grass means we are really behind the curve on that one… The dye-day on the farm weekend almost happened. The dates that looked good conflicted with to many interested folks, and so it’s on the drawing board for next spring, depending on lambing dates which have not been decided yet.

All in all, this was a long and difficult summer. We learned our limits and ways to cope with those limits. We learned that the proper equipment makes all the difference because we finally purchased critical chute equipment rather than spend another summer jerry-rigging things together. That helped quite a bit and without that, I’m sure you’d have found us trampled under the mob at some point. I’ve also learned that it’s getting a little harder to recover from long days, followed by long nights dyeing yarn! We will not speak of how the realization of my actual age came to me one night, and that I’m not a teenager anymore, and that’s all we’ll say!

We sacrificed a lot of ourselves this summer. There wasn’t any time to really enjoy what we have here as a farm, to do the things we wanted to, to take any time off… But wait. Perhaps you didn’t know either what we’ve just really realized: This is the life of the farmer. Not the hobby farmer, who can have the neighbor feed the 6 pet sheep in the barn for a 3 day weekend get-away, but the farmer who worries when he hears the coyotes singing and the guard dog barking. Who learns that if at that point, even though they are a mile away, if you don’t hear sheep also baa-ing at the same time, then everything is as it should be. If you suddenly hear the sheep as well… then you’d better get your pants on and find the flashlights because something bad is going on and it’s your job to take care of it or lose stock. Perhaps even a guard dog doing their job. There’s no sleeping in. There’s no vacation. There’s no time off. There’s hay because the rains are coming, and bottle lambs depending on you twice a day to survive. And there’s a four year old who gets to feed ‘her’ bottle lamb, and help it escape from the pen to run up & down the barn with her, following behind like Mary in the Nursery Rhyme. And then having to explain to her why he got sick.

Well, I didn’t realize quite what a book I’d be writing here, or how mildly stressful it may seem. We have had a busy summer. It wasn’t all good, and it wasn’t all bad either. There were beautiful sunsets, and there were lighting storms and rainbows. There were lambs, and helping lambs being born, and four year olds who show the visiting customers’ children the baby pigs and just-hatched chicks. And there is even the four year old who one day, crouched behind her horse stuffed animal named ‘mommy horse’. I asked her what she was doing, and she shushed me and whispered that she was “helping this mommy”. She reached under the mommy horse’s tail, and said “I feel a foot”, and then proceeded to pull out the smaller horse (named ‘baby horse’) she’d hidden under the mommy. Don’t ask my daughter where babies come from, she figured it out for herself when she was three. I am amazed and awed by this life, wouldn’t trade this past busy year for anything. I’m sure some changes will occur so we are not quite so flat out next year, but that’s what you do when you learn and grow; you change.

Thank you for sharing this year with us, even if at some times you might have felt like we’d forgotten about you… we didn’t.

Sincerely,

Jennifer, Eric, Nora, Oscar the sheepdog, Mia the Guard dog, and to many sheep to count.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Last Call for Carnivores

If you've kept up, you know that I've offered to bring 'the package' to you at Rhinebeck.

This is your last chance to get on the list, and get your goods. I'm invoicing those interested tonight - that's the plan vague idea, anyways! So email me, remember I cannot reply to the comments - blogger doesn't see fit to provide me with your email address (and for heaven's sake don't put it in the comment).

I'm bringing 'goods' Friday night for saturday pick-ups by you at my booth 26D at Rhinebeck, as early as possible please... and please please please - bring your cooler - I do not have a spare for you! There is a chance for deliveries late saturday evening or Sunday morning if I can't get it all in the truck or you can't make it on Saturday when my husband comes down (darn day-tripper) - he can bring a cooler full as well.

Don't miss out!

Friday, October 12, 2007

The Plan.

(by the way, if any of you know me at all, you know that even making a plan was my first mistake. Our slogan/motto around here is 'we don't have plans... only vague ideas'. There should be t-shirts.)

So. Here's the plan, in mid-september:

Plan: No problem. Rhinebeck is weeks away. I'll just dye an extra 5 or 6 skeins a day until then, and I'll have tons of yarn for the show.

(insert vague wondering feeling.... 'how much yarn does one BRING to a show this size?')

Reality: What's that? The sheep need to be wormed and husband has injured his hand? no problem. Trusty farm hand Casey (a.k.a. jack of all trades, a.k.a. yarn slave) & I can handle that. 250 ewes and their 290 offspring: wormed.

*******

Plan: No problem. Rhinebeck is weeks away. I'll just dye an extra... oh, 10 skeins a day until then, and I'll be ready for the show.

(insert vague wondering feeling... 'how many of each kit should we take to this shin-dig?')

Reality: What's that you say? The chickens are ready for butchering, the flock needs to be moved to new pasture across the road, across the creek, up the hill and behind the back 40? No problem... , say honey, how's the hand? hmm, still sore. okee dokee, if we work together...

*******

Plan: No problem. Rhinebeck is weeks away. I'll just dye an extra... oh, dozen skeins a day until then, and I'll be ready for the show.

(insert vague wondering feeling... 'how the heck are we going to get this stuf to the show? The guy fixing the van hasn't called back in weeks - hope we still OWN a van... mental note to call him tomorrow.)

Reality: Oh right! Butcher chickens. Totally slipped my mind. No problem. Get up at butt-crack of dawn, start setup for butchering, get daughter out of the area.... 4 hours later, still several birds to go, vultures are starting to gather and my work table is in the sun. Pack it in, we're done for the day.

*******

Plan: No problem. Rhinebeck is weeks away. I'll just dye an extra... oh, 20 skeins a day until then, and I'll be ready for the show.

(insert vague wondering feeling...'are those our sheep outside the fences?' crap.)

Reality: Round up sheep. Put up temporary fences in new location, move sheep to that spot. What's that? Finish with the chickens you say? Well no, not yet, I thought I'd dye some yarn... well yes, they are getting quite large... took on the barn cat and won you say? Ok. Set up, butcher chickens... slice open knuckle. Quality time in the ER.

*******

Plan: No problem. Rhinebeck is weeks away. I'll just dye an extra... oh, 40 skeins a day until then, and I'll be ready for the show.

(insert vague worrying feeling...)

Reality: Ok, I'll wait until I can take the bandages off, and move my finger again. and squeeze out the yarn. and stir the pot. What's that? the freakin' sheep need to move again?? But my hand! Ok, if we work together...

*******

Plan: No problem. (note twitch under left eye) Rhinebeck is not so many weeks away. I'll just dye an extra... oh, 60 skeins a day until then, and I'll be ready for the show. One handed.

(insert vague sleepless look, forgetfulness and worrying feeling...)

Reality: What's that? Help load the pigs to go to butcher, 5 lambs and a cow? Chickens?? I DID the - oh, the next and now ready group... here, call this guy and pay him to do it. Hey, speaking of calling the guy... where the H**L is our VAN??? Mental note: call around for rental vehicle. Ok, CSA customers? Why yes, we do have several wonderful.... you mean it's the first of the month already?? Okee dokee, baking bread & packing the coolers. No problem (twitch). Hey look! An 18 wheeler double-decker livestock trailer! Looks like the one the guy uses who buys lambs from us... and he's pulling in our driveway. Is that today?? Ok, nothing like sorting 170 lambs out of the mob and loading them on the truck to kill some time...

*******

Plan: No problem. (twitch.) Rhinebeck is weeks ... when?? (insert panic attack here) I'll just dye an extra... oh, 90 skeins a day until then, and I'll be ready for the show.

(insert anxiety twitches at random, and I wonder how to display the yarns at the show...)

Monday, October 08, 2007

Happy Columbus Day, America.

Today most folks in this country take note that the post office is closed (Happy Thanksgiving Day to you Canadian folk, btw). The reason? Well, let's just see what my daughter learned in Kindergarten on Friday...

me: "Nora, there's no school on Monday."

her: "I know!"

me: "Do you know why?"

her: "Yes. There was this man. He crashed into Florida... and someplace else. He had 3 boats, and we saw it on the globe in class. He got dead, I think from an animal."

me: "Was his name 'Columbus', by chance?"

her: "Oh! Yes!! That's who it was who had 3 boats and got dead."

me: "Close enough!"

Happy Columbus Day, everyone.

And, on another note, it was also my daughter's 5th Birthday today. We celebrated in style by giving the school district here, and postal workers the whole country over, the day off.
Then we went to Toys R Us and got a balloon, and a few new toys. Came home and made cake with sprinkles in the cake, pink frosting, more sprinkles, some candy letters, and a conservative number of flames. I took control of the candle situation by reminding her that if she kept adding candles, her cake might catch on fire and then what would we eat? Then we topped it off by playing with the new toys for a bit.


I would like to point out the food coloring at the top of the cake picture. Apparently, dyeing runs in the family because we buy white frosting so she can decide what color to paint it when it's time to frost the cake. (FYI: purple frosting is NOT appetizing. Neither is green. Trust me and learn from our mistakes.)


Please note the exhausted Dad in the background. It's hard work going to Toys R Us with a 5 year old.

Wishes were made, candles blown out.

Happy 5th Birthday, Nora!


**BTW - if you are looking for your Sheep or Flock Rental update, I'm finishing up the edits on pics, newsletter, your animal's info, and the like. I expect most to go out the door this week.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

What's for Dinner?



Dig the bumper sticker!! And while we're at it, let's not forget the grassfed beef or pork! Did you know pigs eat grass? Oh ya. Plow right through it. Literally.

Anyways, this fall it's been tough getting a date with the butcher, what with one facility burning down, and another less than reputable... let's just say the best game in town has gotten much busier. They called yesterday to give me some good news! They had a cancelation and she thought of me :)

I'm in such a good mood about it, that if you and a few close friends (neighbors, carpool buddies, complete strangers, etc) would like to order together, I'll deliver here in NY. I'd like to say at least 3 packages ordered to deliver. Ordering by yourself? Send me an email, we'll talk about where you are and negotiate a 'transportation fee'. Single-handedly convince the entire neighborhood (or at least yourself and 4 others to place an order? I'll gift the ringleader you with an extra 5lbs of ground beef.


Here's the package:

15lbs of grassfed ground beef in one pound packages. We send the whole steer, so this isn't trim - it's prime cuts. And it's naturally lean. When I fry up a pound, there's no grease left in the pan.

15lbs of pastured pork cuts. You'll get a variety of cuts from bacon & breakfast sausage, to chops & ham steaks. Excellent flavor, like nothing you'll get in the grocery store. Please note there is no small print on our packages saying anything about '2-3% liquid added for flavoring' on this pork. This is actually GOOD for you!

15lbs of grassfed lamb cuts. Again, a variety of cuts including ground and sausage (awesome in spaghetti sauce).

Total: $280.00 for the whole thing. At just over $6.00/lb, you'll be getting cuts normally selling for $8.00 - $11.00/lb. Going to Rhinebeck in October? Able to fit a cooler in your transport amongst the fleeces? I can bring a limited number of Package Deals with me, so let me know now.

Are you a vegetarian?
While the carnivores dream of lamb shank braised with tomato and frenched green beans in a Balslamic Vinagrette reduction, (we reccomend Paul Newman's Salad Dressing for both Carnivores and Vegetarians), please don't feel left out:

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Very Quickly.

SO, if you remember way back when, our fearless yarn fairy posted a picture of some yarn (duh). The question was, what was so special about it?

Astrid guessed it with self-striping yarn. Now, if Lord Zorg ever attacks planet earth and has a guessing challenge for the prize that is our planet, we want Astrid to be on our team of official guessers. That girl has got GAME. If you don't believe me, check out her comments over at the TsockTsarina.

Anyways, I'd like to post now for your viewing pleasure, MORE self-striping yarn. This time in a heavy Aran weight (read: 8oz to some 400 yards or something heavy), in a muted version of the Gryffindor-style colors.

This is just over 7 yards per color, self-striping. I'm liking it ok, but what I'm REALLY liking is the fact that I think I've finally come up with a way to do self-striping yarn. To quote yet another Kids Movie (a subject for another time), "I think... I have a plan. Using mainly spoons...."

Wanna see something else new?

Look what you can get at Cafepress! A new purty mousepad or wall clock! Yours will be the envy of every cubicle. Click on the image to go check it out. And more stuff in this 'other' cafepress store:


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Garage/Yard/Tag Sale Etiquitte

I stopped at a garage sale this past week. It's a never-ending garage sale, I've driven by it for 2 years ignoring it out of principle. Then I saw a small table I'd been looking for, and so I stopped and gave in. While I looked around, I overheard a conversation the 2 women running the 'garage' were having.

Woman #1: "So what are you going to do with the stuff that hasn't sold here?"

Woman #2: "I'm going to have a garage sale next weekend. I'll put it in the paper. Do you know what the deadline is for the paper?"

A garage sale. to sell the leftover stuff that didn't sell at.... a garage sale. Now why didn't I think of that? Brilliant! The masses will never see it coming!

...stepping onto soapbox...
I've lived on both coasts and places in the middle, and they all have one thing in common: Yard Sales. No matter what you call them, the goal is the same. Convert your 'stuff' into money, and empty space. (Though that can be dangerous combination.)

So, after several years of stopping every 300 yards or so on a saturday afternoon in hundreds of little neighborhoods, I offer up this small checklist, should you be planning a yard sale in the future. Please review prior to, and AFTER your little enterprise, and we'll all be happier.

Before The Event

If it ain't for sale, don't leave it out. This should be self-explanitory, but if you don't want to sell that lovely ol' crocheted toilet roll cover, than please don't leave it on the table in the garage next to the things for sale. Collect all that stuff you must hang on to, and put it away. Out of sight. Cover with a sheet (also not for sale).

If you have things for sale that are inside the house, like large pieces of furniture, please clean up a bit. Let's pretend a couple hundred people might traipse through the house and perhaps put the dirty dishes away, clothes on the children (and spouse), and hide the dirty laundry. Just sayin' is all. And you might want to slap a sign on the piece for sale. If you send me wondering through your house to see 'the dresser in the spare bedroom' and there are 3 of them in there....

Pricing tips:
*You might consider actually putting prices on things you want to sell. Some of us are shy, and don't want to ask how much every coffee mug might cost. You also may not remember.

*You may think you want to haggle, and that's fine but please put THAT on a sign so we have a clue how to buy things. Remember, folks in this country are not used to haggling over price.

*(Pay attention, this one is critical)Pricing. Hey, just because Star Wars made a comback does NOT mean the glass you got with your Happy Meal in 1978 with Luke Skywalker's face on it that's chipped and looks like you used it to mix paint last year does NOT mean you can sell it for $7.00 or something. Reality Check: We're not stupid. Just because you CALL it a collectors item, does not MAKE it a collectors item. Because don't think I won't use my cellphone to check ebay for current prices of crappy condition happy meal paraphenalia. Let's be honest here. If you had the 'Rare Sherriff Woody' doll sitting on a table in the basement, you'd head to ebay with it, not the garage sale.

*Please use common sense. No one will buy the macaroni art your cousin's-best-friend's-daughter made you in 1984. If it holds no $ value, and holds no sentimental value.... throw it away.
Moving on.

Signage:
If you put up a sign or 2 on a telephone pole or something, here are some thoughts:


  1. it really ought to face oncoming traffic. If it is stapled to the pole facing the road and the neighbor across the street, I cannot read it at 35mph no matter how bright the paper you use, so angle it like a billboard, would ya?.
  2. Please don't write in pencil. No one can read your sign, unless your looking to catch pedestrians. Remember, I'm at least 10 feet from your sign, and still going 35mph. Look through the junk drawer in the kitchen for something called a SHARPIE or raid your kids' coloring box for markers. And stick with black or blue. Your not trying to win the 5th grade art contest, your trying to help me find your junk stuff for sale.
  3. Please write in BIG PEOPLE print. Writing small was great when there was a paper shortage. However, I can't read it (see problems with #2 above).
  4. Date the darn thing! Please for the love of sales, don't just put "Garage Sale Today". I can't tell you how frustrating it is to those of us who actually believe the sign, how frustrating it is to never find the sale that is happening 'today'. We're left with a feeling of having missed out on some wonderful find.
  5. If I have to go left at the next corner to find you, and go more than a block, better put up another sign. I have a short attention span, may think I'm lost, or might find ANOTHER garage sale to stop at and miss going further to yours. This is especially important if there is another turn involved anywhere further down the road. I'm sorry but your not as well known as you think, and we don't know where you live.


During The Event

As my friend Jamie used to say, 'Practice your Monster Smile.' That means smile big folks. If you can't do that, at least make eye contact and say hello. Please do not look at me as if I am an interloper pawing through your things. Your the one who dragged it all out on the front lawn, try not to scare away the buyers.

Turn on the lights if it's dark in the garage. I know, I know. Electricity costs money, but if you can't see what it is than neither can I and I won't buy it. Here's a tip: If folks keep taking something back outside to get a good look at it, you need lights on. Lights not working? Drag out a lamp or stick a bulb in the lamp that's for sale and plug it in. At least you won't have to answer the "Does the lamp work" question a billion times...

Change. I know this sounds like a no-brainer, and I certainly don't want you to think that I think you have... well, no brain, but your selling stuff. I just went to the bank and have a roll of 20's. Your high ticket item on the kiddie toy table is $1.50, you do the math. If you have no change, you have no sale. And no, please don't ask me to check my center console in my car for correct change. I'll get in to check but I won't get back out to buy.

After The Event.

So, your broo-ha-ha is over, you've made your pennies millions. Just a couple of little things that will make life nicer for the rest of us...

Put it away. If it didn't sell and your not repeating the shin-dig next weekend, do something with it. That's why God made the Salvation Army, it's there for a reason. But before you go there, please check the $ value of what's left. Was it priced high or should it be thrown away?

And last but not least, and I can't stress this enough. This one is critical. TAKE DOWN THE SIGN. If you paid attention to #5 regarding signage, take down ALL of the signs. If you do not, and we find your house where there is no garage sale after driving all over looking for it (weeks late for the Event), don't be surprised if you find yourself toilet papered or something.

And one littel post script. If you find that after having the neighborhood's longest running garage sale, going on for it's 17th straight week and no one is showing up.... get the point. It's a garage sale, not a dollar store. Close up shop and wait until next year to try again. This is illegal in most towns, something about running a business in a residental district. And, if I get to your 'garage sale' and find things for sale that are new, still in packages, and more than 20 of that same item on the table, I'll be sorely tempted to use that cellphone again because I will not be your next mark (Slang A person who is the intended victim of a swindler; a dupe.)

...stepping off of soapbox...

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Well it's about durn time!

As many of you may know, we have been in dire need of the nice delivery truck to deliver the yarn here. The first attempt brought us yarn, but the WRONG yarn. Well, wrong in the sense that it wasn't the correct base yarn for the FlockSock Sock Yarn, but hey, it was GOOD yarn anyways. Fun things are in the works for what is affectionately known as 'car-cozy' yarn. (By the way, we've been calling it that because unlike FlockSock, this stuff is not superwash, and so it will felt. Upon the discovery of this, I told Lisa she'd have to come up with a pattern for a felted car-cozy, because I had a couple hundred pounds of this stuff sitting here now. It seems to be sticking, pun intended, though I may shorten it to 'cozy' yarn.) More on the coming projects for Cozy Yarn later.


ANYWAYS! Yesterday, Astrid helped immensely by sending out 'find the right house' vibes to the driver, and it worked. I am now the proud owner of a whole whack of boxes of yarn. In the triple digits now folks. I DARE you to order more than I have in stock, I DARE you. Triple digits FlockSock, Triple digits Cozy Yarn, and Triple digits of Bamboo-Ewe, a blend of bamboo/wool/nylon. Dudes. Don't anyone plan on coming for a visit, cause there ain't no room for ya!


Now that my hand has recovered enough to handle the dye pots & yarn again, I've been dyeing the Bamboo-Ewe yarn for the current club kit, Turandot. It's a lengthy process, dyeing 2 different fibers in shades of blue to get a unique 'look' to the yarn. Needless to say, it leaves me with some 'hurry up & wait' time while yarn just sits in the pots absorbing color. I've been experimenting for future projects Lisa has on the drawing board, along with some other colors I've been wanting to create.

I think I may be in love with this one. 'Copper Pennies' is what it says to me, and that's what we're calling it. It's the newest color available in the finally-arrived FlockSock Sock Yarn. Monitors being what they are, this is a mildly varigated 'shade-dyed' color in a brick/copper with gold undertones. It ain't on the website yet, give me a few minutes. In the meantime, I've already had a couple of customers I've shown it to just up & email me a payment using paypal, and you can do that if you like. Toss in a couple dollars for shipping, and I'll get it out to you. Let's say, an introductory price of $18.00 per skein.


But, whatever you do... Don't show it to Lisa!!




Next on the list? Limes. In (Car)-Cozy Yarn. This is actually a base-color to be over-dyed for something else, but I really like it as it is! Makes me want to sit on the beach and eat a papaya or something. This will be added to the website with the Rosetta in this yarn.



And I almost forgot Pistachio! Dyed for in the shell Pistachio nuts, a custom request, on FlockSock.



Now, I need to go eat my Pizza and dye more yarn. WAYYYYY more yarn.








Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Worth more than a minute.

Today is a day for remembering.

If you are a veteran of the armed forces, thank you for all that you've done.
Everyone else, go find a veteran to thank. Freedom isn't free.

If you are a fireman (woman), policeman (woman), emt, or a good samaritan, thank you for your past bravery, and your willingness to be brave in the future.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

We've had visitors!

So yesterday, our friend Katherine came over for a visit. She's here for the summer in the area working with the Glimmerglass Opera down the road here (we're hoping some culture will rub off on us ). I was thrilled when she agreed to bring along her instument of choice to play a ditty or 2 for Nora. She's never heard a violin in person before, and for a few minutes was overwhelmed by the volume it produced in our humble abode.

Later in the day, she played again and Nora decided it was definately good. Dance music, even.

Katherine knits as well (can it get any better?) and is working on a pair of single repeat 'Afterthought' colorway. Just for Lisa, we got pics. I have also been promised pics of the completed pair.





Some friends of hers came with, and we toured the farm. Ann-Marie, also in the orchestra, and her boys Eric and Christophe. They saw the sheep, the piggers, baby chicks, the works. Christophe the younger brother has the makings of a great spinner, and scored a skein of the slightly heavier SuperStrong sock yarn for a scarf.



It was a great afternoon and I'm SOOO glad they all came!




On another note, check out what Nora drew and then TAPED to her door:




Please note that if you read it from right to left, it says "No mom dad" below a circle with drawings of mom and dad and an X over the circle (note how sad we look), with Nora at the bottom corner (note the smile on her face). Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't this type of signage supposed to start when she was well, a little older??


And thanks, the hand is doing better. Still hen-pecking it, but recovering.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I'll get right on that.

Have you ever noticed that when you have to endure some periods of forced inactivity, that you find yourself wanting to be the most productive? You suddenly seem to be inspired to even clean something, and procrastination is a thing of the past.
That would be me. Well, actually, (to quote some good '80's slang) that would be me on drugs. Antibiotcs & pain pills, really. You see, I was 1/2 way through butchering some chickens yesterday... and I'll bet you can see where this is going. In one masterful stroke, I managed to NOT remove the neck bone I had decided needed to be removed, while simultaneously slicing open an inch gash across my knuckle bone. With a boning knife no less. Excellent emergency skills, and a babysitter already on site made the afternoon as painless as it could be, all things being what they were. Thankfully, while she said I could see tendon, I didn't do any damage to anything except soft tissue. And, as it was a very thin knife, she used this wicked cool skin glue called dura-blast (I think) so no stitches. Did get the tetnus shot though. The skin glue doesn't hurt at all, while the alcohol/jet fuel based commercially available product 'nu skin' stings like (insert very bad word here). Go figure. Anyways, I'm hen-pecking for typing and it's stoopidly slow for me & my usual 45wpm so don't expect gobs of email from me. Any typing done here is likely via dictation to my handy farm-help Kacey.
The yarn for the next club kit is skeined & ready to go, but as I can't get the bandages wet for 7 days, I don't have many dye-slaves of my own here, and while Nora dyes some beautiful stuff, she's just not up for club projects just yet.
In the meantime, I'm mulling over names for the new/wrong yarn here. We're keeping it (EZ says you never know when a mistake may be a design feature). It's 75% wool/25% nylon, sock-yarn weight 4 ply and it does felt. A couple of suggestions so far:
Car-Cozy Yarn
Versitae (pronounced versit-i) because it's...well, versitile.
Lemonade
I know there were a couple of others but I've misplaced those brain cells right now.
So, if you have a suggestion, leave it in the comments. If you like one of the couple here, leave it in the comments.

Comment Responses:

Lynne, Pat & others:
Several have suggested the car cozy yarn for lace shawls - I like this idea immensely, and I've got a 600 yard skein and a 1200 yard skein right here waiting for 'the hand' to recover to see how those quantities work in the dye pot and what needs to be adjusted to handle that size to cater to that market.

Trainlady, re postscript. No lambs were harmed this time. Tragedy has touched us in this manner in the past with no respect to age (lambs and ewes have bit the fence, so to speak). Most times, they survive the ordeal.

Food for Thought:
Do you know where your food comes from?

(taken from eatwild.com news page)

Corn Prices Too High? Feed the Animals Candy Instead

The growing use of corn for fuel has doubled the price of corn for animal feed. Typically, corn comprises about 70 percent of the diet of animals raised in confinement. To offset the spiking cost of corn, many feedlot managers are replacing some of the corn with candy and other “junk food” that has been declared unfit for human consumption.
According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, this sugary, fatty fare includes banana chips, yogurt-covered raisin, cookies, licorice, cheese curls, frosted wheat cereal, Tater Tots, Kit Kat bars, uncooked French fries, pretzels and chocolate bars. One feedlot operator from Idaho confesses that he feeds his cattle a 100 percent “by-product” meal.
Grass, the native diet of grazing animals, is a rich source of protein, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids. Has anyone measured the nutritional value of meat from junk-food-fed cows? Candy may be cheap, but it’s cheating consumers out of meat’s natural nutrition. Consider grass-fed, instead.
(“With Corn Prices Rising, Pigs Switch to Fatty Snacks” Lauren Etter, Wall Street Journal, May 21, 2007.)

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Knitting Goddess is Cruel.

You know, here I thought that because I wasn't really working on a knitting project, that the knitting goddess couldn't 'mess' with me, ya know?
I mean, what was she going to do to me? Dust my knitting needles? Move the pink yarn over to the box with the orange yarn? Not much going on in the knitting front around here, just a couple of rolled-brim hats for upcoming fall craft shows. I was safe from mischief, or so I thought.
Enter the next order of base yarn for me to dye for OTHER knitters.

Ordered: Serious poundage (in the triple digits) of our FlockSock base yarn 75%superwash/25% nylon blend pristine in it's undye-ed-ness.

Delivered to my door: Serious poundage (now mocking me with it's triple digits) of a 75% wool/25% nylon NOT superwash yarn. Which definately felts.

"What's that?" Says the Knitting Goddess. "I can't mess with you?" She giggles madly while waving her magic needles in my direction. "Hang on."

I may as well cast on for that Harlot Bohus now, cause what could go wrong?

So, if you'll excuse me, I must go make some lemon-ade. And a pattern/kit for a felted car cozy...

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Post Script

Dear Sheep:

Please consider this a post-script addition to our little chat earlier this year.

I'm sure I mentioned the 'don't drop dead' part as being very important, even critical to all our survival so to speak.
Please if you would be so kind, pass on to your offspring, and feel free to remind each other while out grazing 'round the ol' water hole.... electricity kills. Let's avoid sticking our heads THROUGH the electric fence for that one little bite of grass, shall we?
You know the fence is on, you know it's going to hurt when you get zapped, it shouldn't be very difficult to figure out what's going to happen when you begin dancing wildly because you're getting zapped and you've wrapped the fence round your wee little hoof, neck or entire body for goodness sake.
And, if your plan is to sacrifice yourself and 'bring down' the entire fence so the flock can run free across 2 counties.... stop now. Your flock mates seem a bit smarter than you, because if you succeed in bringing down a portion of the fence, they usually do not take advantage of this BECAUSE THEY HAVE TO CROSS THE ELECTRIC FENCE LAYING ON THE GROUND and your twitching self. And, to add insult to your injury and possible death, the few who brave the zap & head for greener pastures STOP TO GRAZE the nearest green pasture. That's right, no one runs free, or escapes the farm. They stop right next door in the very pasture I would have moved you tomorrow.

Thank you for your attention, feel free to go back to grazing. Away from the fences.

All our love,

The Shepherds

Sunday, July 29, 2007

I've got new socks!

Years ago, I read or heard about this psych professor who would have his students go out and give a try to a list of 'stunts' designed to study social responses blah blah blah. Anyways, my 2 favorites from the list of things to do, were for crowded elevators.


  1. Be the last person to board a crowded elevator. Face the crowd and grin. That's all, just smile. Really big & happy-like. Now, I don't know about you, but that's just disturbing and kinda scary.
  2. Be the last person to board a crowded elvator. (I sense a lack of creativity on the part of the professor.) Face the crowd and announce boldly and with much enthusiasm: "I've got new socks!"
My brother once thought this was absolutely the best hands-down way to greet and freak out complete strangers. He was right. Now, I would like to chime in with him and announce proudly:


I'VE GOT NEW SOCKS!!



Just LOOK at what one of the club members made for ME!! Dudes. I am totally thrilled. As I sat here staring at the 1/4 knit lonely sock cast on in the wee hours more weeks ago than I care to count up, I might have mentioned the lack of hand-knit socks and the irony of it all, what with all the SOCK YARN that goes out the door here. And then these show up on my doorstep. Snug as a bug in a rug are my toes :) A billion thankyouthankyouthankyous to you Pat, thank you.

Please note for the record: The right foot looks a little... well, 'off kilter'. This is because of the 6 or 7 foot surgeries on that foot, it is NOT the socks!! They fit perfect.

Now, just when things couldn't get any better, ON THE SAME DAY, these also arrived:
Let's get a close up, shall we?

Helen has made me 2 of the most lovely potholders I've ever used to pick a pip'in pot off the stove with. They are double-knit, with colors different on each side, wickedly cool. She's a mighty creative gal, thanks Helen - I love them!

My daughter was not quite as pleased that none of the packages had her name on them, but she did enjoy wearing my new socks and using the potholders as blankets for her Barbies that afternoon.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Addendum to the Numbers.

First and foremost, my husband says I am to point out that the picture of the shearer is not of him shearing a sheep, but of the shearer who was also here shearing that weekend. The shearer sheared just over 200 sheep in 2 days, and we're very glad he did!


We caught that racoon the night we purchased the trap and were very pleased with ourselves... And then the next night lost 3 more hens to his big brother. We caught him as well. So far, the trap sits bated but empty and the hen house is down to 11 hens & a rooster. I find myself on the hunt so to speak, for new laying hens to replace the missing crew. No easy task, as folks who have hens for sale seem to want to convince me that the 3 year old scrawny bird sitting sullen in the back of the coop is really a 'good layer'. At that age and condition, the term 'good layer' translates to 'good at laying around all day eating and producing NOTHING'. The search continues.


The 5 little chicks are learning to fly I discovered, as I found mom and chicks roosting last night on the counter of the milk room they are currently staying in. They now share their home with 26 chicks. I'll try to get pics tomorrow of the mob of yellow fluff out there.


Eric has injured his neck leaving me in charge of EVERYTHING. I am exhausted, and pretty darn tired of farm chores (for more on that, see Lisa's latest post here. She came to visit, a wonderful time was had by all but I am to darn tired to go into more detail.


It did finally rain, and everything looks nice & green, but I worry about hay for the winter here. I don't know if we'll get another cutting from our farm. Price of winter could be high, we'll see.


Comments on the comments:

Let me say, I am sorry if I have not replied or responded to questions in the blog. First of all, blogger won't LET me reply directly. Secondly, well, I've been off my game lately (see spring=exhaustion).

So here goes:


Woolgirl: time to knit? time to KNIT?? Uh huh. You mean, like, with needles? I understand 'startitis' but what do you call it when you have so many projects you want to start that you stand in the middle of the fiber room and just stare in a daze with a handful of needles in one hand and an inhaler in the other for the minor panic attack in the other? time to knit she mumbles.


Andrea: Your welcome! The yarn fairy grins with glee :)


Colleen: We *try* to shear the sheep before they lamb. It's easier on everyone, even the lamb because they no longer recognize their mum after she's been sheared, I kid you not. Not to mention trying to sort sheep with lambs in the pens. No way to find the pair & keep them together through the whole day/ordeal. And, for the wool, it's better because lambing can cause a 'break' in the fleece (where the wool stops and starts growing again literally making a break or weak spot in that section of the wool fiber/strand). Very good question.


Jo at Celtic Memory, how'd that Imbas sock turn out?? and did I hear you mention Slytherin for House Socks? You should check out the House colors here...


Colleen: Rental Sheep have had lambs (a good portion of them anyways). Pictures were delayed due to well... more than 340 ewes giving birth and only 2 shepherds. I'm working on them, and the fleece from the rentals! Don't despair :)


Sorry, not much in the way of pictures. I'll leave you with this: Anyone want to guess what this is?


Monday, July 16, 2007

It's all about the Numbers.

Hi, remember me? Here's a quick, brief run-down (run into the ground, run-down) of what we've been up to around here. There's way more by the way, these were just the highlights of spring and lambing.

More than 200 sheep sheared in 2 days.... and 5 stitches for spouse in a shearing accident.













More than 80 fleeces to skirt - this is just a few of them...












The rest went into the wool-pool bags.

















More than 280 lambs (we were just to tired to keep counting by that time).

More than 16 bottle lambs total, with 7 still on the bottle (not bad considering the total lambs born is probably about 350-375-ish).

11 lambs who would have been bottle lambs grafted onto other mothers. (major happy about that one!!)

2 emergency c-sections to save the lambs.

7 animals treated for fly-strike (you do NOT want details on that)

8 new pigs on the farm.

1 steer off to butcher.

What felt like a bazillion-teen skeins of yarn for Cookie's Garden, the spring sock kit for the club.











1 set of double rainbows.












Deja-vu with another astronomical number of skeins of yarn for The Summer sock kit for the club... (pick your own 3 out of 5 ice cream flavors - what was I thinking??)

10 broiler chicks (round 1 - round 2 would be 25 to be delivered next week)

21 hens laying an amazing number of eggs (quiche, anyone?) , down to 13 - see the next 'number'.

1 raccoon who lightened the hen-pen by 8 hens in 4 days... followed by the purchase of a trap.

200 bales of hay at about 600lbs each (that's 1/2 of what we need for the coming winter, folks).



2 1/2 inches of rain in almost 6 weeks (very bad).
5 brand new baby chicks with mommy-hen (2 peeking out here).

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Team Work


"Ok now's our chance to escape!"
"I saw this in a movie once, and it worked for the fish."
"Everyone: Lift UP!!"