Saturday, October 22, 2016


That glorious, warm, sunny October is gone.  Now we have a wet, cold, blustery October and I think it's going to stay that way.  Our wonderful (to me) mid-80s temps have been pushed aside by a cold front and we're now hovering just under 40.  The 10 day forecast doesn't have us topping 50 for the coming week.  :-(

With this cold front we finally had rain - just over 4.5 inches of it.  The weather people will probably look at the last 6 months and now declare it 'average' for rainfall.  Weather stats have a way of making wild weather seem bland in retrospect.

I've been washing sheep coats recently, a couple of loads every few days.  I had started earlier in the year but then with the drought I let the job slide.  Now, however, with hay season looming fast I need to get them all done and repairs made to those which have need.  Over the years we've really snag-proofed the barn and feed bunk but they still manage to catch the coats on things we haven't found or even the sharp stubs on the woven wire fence in the pasture where the vertical and horizontal wires intersect, wrap and are cut 'flush' - not flush enough sometimes.  I'll probably have dozen or so to fix and I'm making a pile so I can do them all at once.

When the rain started Thursday I was tempted to shut the sheep out so they'd get washed off again but it was pouring buckets already at chore time and driving them out would have been an unhappy affair for all concerned.  Plus, the rain was supposed to be (and was) an all day affair so coming in sopping wet at night they'd be bringing gallons and gallons of water in and soak the bedding.  We broke into the new, 'this year's' hay and fed in the barn and "picnic area" in the old feed bunk.

Friday was the same rain - just pounding - plus it was in the upper 40s - so they had a second day of hay. Today it was a more normal type of steady rain, but barely 40.  Hay again.  We're hoping to get them back out tomorrow.  We'll be turning the flock into the north pastures again and they *should* be able to keep grazing for a couple more weeks.

These mushrooms popped up as if by magic on the lawn.

At least something can flourish in the cold, wet end of the year.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Yarn Along - A Finished Object!

Last weekend I went stash diving and started dating some lovely dyed roving of unknown fiber. At the rate I spin we'll be going steady for some time.  It was from the Christmas Exchange at our spinning guild last December and all I remember is that it's wool and I'm going to guess it's Blue Faced Leicester or a similar flavor.  It's not merino or a blend of materials, but I really don't know the pedigree.

There were two braids in the gift bag.  This is from the brighter, more shades-of-blue braid.  The other is a bit darker blue with more purple and smokey gray tones.  I'm sure it will be fun to spin too......someday.

The more notable accomplishment - for me - is a fully finished object!  Here is my version of Leftie which incorporates some of the special colorways dyed by Amy the Fiber Goddess of Stone Edge Fibers in honor of the guild's 30th anniversary.  Last year our handspun mini skeins were displayed during the Finger Lakes Fiber Festival.  This year the task challenge was to use those skeins in an item of some kind.  I thought Leftie would show the colors nicely.  The white(ish) main color starts out as handspun Cotswold/silk at the small end and I quickly (but not quick enough!!) realized there wouldn't be enough of it and I started adding in rows of our millspun white Cotswold till it morphs over to all millspun at the wide end.

The leaves were fun to make and like potato chips I found myself wanting to make just. one. more.

While working in the wool shop I've recently listened to Anne of Green Gables (would you believe I had somehow never found it as a kid?  Probably because it didn't have a horse on the cover.) and was then stymied because the library doesn't have any of the other books in that series on audio!  Drat, that's the third time that's happened lately.  So, thwarted in finding out how things go for Anne I browsed the library and wheeled around in a literary 180 degree turn to listen to The Bone Garden.  A good story with interesting parallel mysteries set centuries apart but with the same truth being discovered at the end of both timelines.  

Joining in with Ginny.....

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

October's Beautiful Moon

The full moon last weekend was The Hunter's Moon and a super moon to boot.  Alas, I couldn't get any nice pictures of it rising but today it was only two days past full and setting behind the trees in mid morning.  It was quite lovely with the colorful trees as contrast.

We've been making the most of the warm dry weather.  We went to the woods to take down some dying ash for firewood.  Of course that meant a fun outing for Holly!  It was actually a bit gray and damp on Sunday but not enough to stop us.

It was very still with not a breath of air moving which is very helpful when getting trees to go where you want them.

And Holly has to walk the length of a few of them just for fun.  It must be an interesting perspective to be up off the ground with a better view of things.

I finally finished the new flower bed next to the front door.  Some of the plants are transplants from other beds here but most of them are new - a splurge to mark the occasion.  They are all perennials - unless they die over winter in which case they were annuals.  :-/

There's still a good bit of room to stick in other things so I'll keep my eyes open for end of year sales.  And of course there's an unending stream of garden catalogs coming in the mail.

My garden gargoyle had been tipped over in a neglected bed for some time and I resurrected him to sit front and center in the new bed. 

"She put me here without even brushing off all the dirt.  Good grief."

I'm sure by spring the dirt will have all been removed by the weather and I'll have to pull him out and give him a new coat of paint as I see several patches of bare concrete on him.

"This giant garden is already full of plants and stuff.  Let's just sit here and study it."

Dog pretty smart sometimes!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Out And About

Occasionally, errands take both Andy and I away from the farm at the same time.  Yesterday we both had business in Hammondsport and with the sun shining on the autumn colors it was a great day to be see some sights.

First of course we had to let the sheep out.  They had a very leisurely stroll out into the pasture.

The sun slanting in from the east really showed the colors in the woods south of the ram's pasture.

Holly and Calvin were companionably soaking up a sunbeam in the front room.

One of the reasons we went to town was to see to some things at the Fiber and Art Emporium where some of our goods are for sale.  The shop owners are always moving items about and changing up the displays in an effort to showcase new things or just make everything look fresh.  Quite a lot of the fiber here is ours and I think they did a great job making it look really attractive!

Hammondsport, voted "The Coolest Small Town in America",  is at the south end of Keuka Lake and it enjoys a robust tourist population most of the year.  It's about the only town I know that has every store and shop filled with merchants or services and the windows and sidewalks are always decorated with pretty seasonal displays.  The bakery has an alert doggy sentinel carved out of a log - better than your typical bear I think!

Returning home we still had a few hours of daylight and it was just too nice to work indoors so I finally got back to finishing the rock wall and flower bed on the front of the house.  A couple of years ago while ago we pulled out the ancient evergreens that were supposed to be a hedge.  They had matured to the point that they couldn't be trimmed back to size anymore - they were just thick stumps with no branches if they were cut to fit under the windows - so Andy pulled them out with the tractor and my plan was to put in a nice bed of hostas and other shade loving plants (it's the north face of the house).  Of course a flower bed needs an edge or border of some kind and we do have a lot of rocks........hmmmm. 

Earlier this year dear Andy took my request with good graces and we went to the woods and wrestled rocks OUT of the piles they had been dumped in after being picked out of the field.  He said he had thought when they were dumped that he'd never have to handle them again let alone lug them home.  They joined the load of screened topsoil that we had delivered.  A couple of them were freakin' huge very large ones that I wanted to use to give extra interest to the wall and we needed the tractor and front end loader to pick them out of the pile and put on the wagon.

Wrestling the big ones into place involved both of us, a lot of pushing and a good bit of patience on his part as I waffled over how to best set the big ones into the trench so they'd "look best".  I think at that point Andy thought they'd look best back out in the woods.  But we persevered and got them settled.  Then I started in laying the flat rocks which was actually a lot of fun.  It was like working a jigsaw puzzle with a side of architecture thrown in.  I worked at laying the stones in the evening (when evening lasted till 9 PM) and then things got busy and the project stalled.

Now, in October, on a lovely sunny day we got it finished!  Stay tuned - pics to come!

Saturday, October 8, 2016


We've had the most beautiful stretch of weather.  Sunny and warm during the day and cold enough at night that we close the windows up and start a fire in the boiler so it's not damp and chill in the morning.  I've relished every day that I didn't need a sweatshirt as a second layer.

The other day was cloudless from morning till night. The sheep are still working on the south pasture but now the hillside to the east is showing some color so we know change is coming.

In the very late afternoon the sunlight hits the hill at such a slant that everything is cast with an orange overtone.

Yesterday a front was coming through and the evening sky was lovely as we brought in the rams.  The gold and orange was quite dramatic.

The small volunteer maple near their water tub is also colorful.  It's a hard maple and one would expect it to show bright color in fall but I think some of it is due to stress - there are sections of bark missing where the boys have rubbed their heads on the trunk and the ground is packed pretty hard there since it's a favorite place to hang out in the heat of summer.

Green, orange, red, pink...... autumn in rural New York.

The boys are eating well and come in packed full and ready to sit and ruminate all night.

Andy had an interesting project - repairing an old cradle a neighbor wanted to use.  It came through one of Martin Donnelly's antique tool auctions.  The owner knew it was old and liked the look of it and wasn't concerned about trying to retain authenticity with exact restoration but did want the repairs to blend in.  The end panel at the foot of the cradle was missing the top four inches - it had cracked and come apart long ago.  All the joints were loose and needed stiffening up, one rocker was cracked and needed to be mended and it was very dirty.  They wanted it cleaned up but to still look old and be usable for a coming baby.

It's long and deep but I suppose there was a mattress or tick of some kind in the bottom.

This small decorative cut out on the head end is a nice detail.  In making the repair to the foot end Andy had to straighten up the old break and in planing it down discovered the wood to be tulip poplar.  It's fairly heavy and I'm puzzled by the lack of any kind of hand holds in the frame.  Sure, you probably didn't tote it around with the baby in it but it's still a bit awkward to carry empty.

The corners are all joined with hand cut dovetails and they are all a little bit different in dimension which made the repair a challenge.  In fact, on the head end there are ten dovetails on the right and nine on the left.  Surely not mass produced!

The rockers are different, either by design or perhaps the less elegant one is an old replacement done by someone less skilled than the original maker.

We're guessing the slots in the bottom were there to prevent moisture build up under a mattress.  Andy added a few small screws to stabilize the rockers to the bottom.  The few nails he found are square cut ones, so this is quite old.

There are even symmetrical holes bored through two places at the head end which was likely used to secure a bonnet or cover of some type to keep sun and bugs off the baby.

It turned out quite well.  I wonder what number baby the coming one will be to lay in it.

And since we haven't seen Holly in a while....... dog and flower pictures!

"I'm the best baby.  I was housebroken in just a few days!  And I'm still awful cute!"

 "I do roll in fun stuff sometimes..........but I'm a dog."

 "Nobody's perfect and I don't mind a nice warm baff if I get........."

"Wait!  What's that cat doing?  I'm not sure that's allowed - better go check it out!"

Holly's like me - she likes it hot and sunny so we've had a good run of days!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

How To Wash Wool

Lock the sheep outside in the rain.  Bwaa-ha-ha-ha-ha!

The last good rain we had when they were on pasture was in early September and before that it was in June! Crazy - they've only been rained on a few times this year.

Even though our barn is kept clean and bedded down well it's impossible to keep their wool as clean as it is when they are rained on, shake off, rained on more, shake off.......  And it's all about the fleece!

 "Fleece....but we also have personality!" sez Ophelia, with her dark hip spot.  

Macaroon gave me the stink eye for making them get soaked.

"We are very not amused!"

Andy brought some bedding down from the upper barns and we put down a generous layer in the feedbunk. Now that they're clean(er) we'd like to keep them that way as much as possible.  It will hopefully be another month before we have to feed hay and put coats on everyone.

The coats will keep the fleeces totally free of chaff but I see George's brother, Goober, managed to find a burdock somewhere, probably poking through the fence from the outside, and stuck it to his head.  Boys.

 "What?  It keeps the wool out of my eyes.  Sort of."

The sheep thought we were an interesting sideshow, talking and shaking up bedding, so they hung around the gates hoping we'd let them in sooner rather than later.

"Pleeeeeze, won't you let us in?" sez Fuzz.

Nibbles was in with the oldest girls (she's 10 this year) but had gained well enough that we turned her back in with the main flock when they returned to the south pasture and wouldn't be walking far up and down hills.

 "C'mon, let us in.  I'm wet and having a bad hair day."

"I'm so old and wet I'm growing Spanish moss on my ears."

Happily, it stopped raining while we were working and they had time to shake off pretty much before we let them in.

The rain really helps the Cotswold curls bloom.  They're wet and stretched out but showing lots of promise!

"I'm glad somebody's happy about it.....   Me?  Not so much."

Now if we can just get a sunny day.......