Monday, October 6, 2014

September Summary

The back half of September was so busy that I see I neglected to chronicle several events.

I went to the Benjamin Patterson Inn Museum for their Whingblinger event and demonstrated hand spinning.  An event like this always brings out the 'fiber people' and there were spinners, weavers and people from other disciplines educating the crowd.

This year they were missing a docent for an upper room so they asked me to spin there and kind of watch out for things. I didn't mind a bit as I could park next to a window and had both good light and a warm breeze coming in the open window.  They've done a great job of furnishing the room with period items, sometimes actual originals to the building, and they didn't want them to walk off.  Most people were very good about not handling the items but little kids almost always jumped on the low bed before they could be prevented.  No harm done.

This is one of the rooms that you may have stayed in had you been a traveller back then.  They were communal guest rooms so unless you were travelling with a big enough party to occupy the whole room you would likely be housed with strangers.  There were some simple rules:

Lodging was 4 pence, 6 pence if you wanted supper too.
No more than five persons to a bed
No shoes allowed in the bed
No dogs allowed upstairs
Rag sellers had to stay in the washroom
No tinkers or organ grinders taken in

It seems pretty comfortable although I don't think the fireplace could bring the room much above freezing in the deep winter.  I'm sure for the time it seemed to have all the amenities you could want, including a commode (under the window to the right of the fireplace) if you didn't want to trek to the outhouse in the cold and dark. 

I attended a farmers market as a vendor at an event a few towns away.  It was a lovely day and the grounds were already pretty busy with the overflow from a softball tournament.  Several matches were played just outside the pavillion where we were set up. 

There was room for many more vendors but a couple were lacking due to illness, one had gone to Boston to see Derek Jeter play, someone else had moved away....  Still there was a good variety of farm raised goods.

There was a bakery which went home with very little product left, someone with alpaca yarn and finished items, two maple producers, someone with honey, myself with lamb, the person next to me had chicken, eggs and pork, there was one producer with many flavors of jam and jelly, and three set-ups that were largely fruit and vegetable type produce.   I particularly liked this vendor "booth" which was a wagon full of fruits and vegetables (plus a canopy to work under) pulled by a lovely old Ford 8N or 9N tractor.  This ubiquitous workhorse from the 1940s was very much like the ones my dad and uncle used and what I learned to drive when I was 8 or 9 years old. 

A neighbor on the ridge parallel to us raises field crops including potatoes.  This area is actually very good potato ground and when Andy was a little boy all this area of Steuben county was farmed and most of the field crops was potatoes.  Schuler's Potato Chips were made exclusively from potatoes grown  nearby on the Schuler farm.  This year was an especially good one for potatoes - so good in fact that many grew too large.  This is a problem because they are too big for the intended purpose (fries and chips) and worse, when potatoes get too large they erupt from the ground and get a green sunburn which causes them to be rejected from the market.  So, when they are sorted and graded the giant ones, even without sunburn, go into the cull pile.  With 350 acres of potatoes and 35,000 lbs per acre, about 7500 lbs per acre were culls.  There are tens of dump trucks worth of potatoes that have gone back to the field to get plowed under.  The local dairy is taking some and feeding their herd 3 dump trucks per day so some aren't getting wasted.  We asked if we could have some and were told to take as many as we want.  I wish I could share these with friends and family that live far away.

On a sad note we lost Mr. Bill the last week of September.  He had begun acting quite ill a few days before the Finger Lakes Fiber Festival.  He had a moderate fever, was off feed (very unlike him), was breathing a little fast although he never had a cough or respiratory symptoms, and had a slower careful gait that made me think he had body aches or a deep soreness.  We treated with an antibiotic and the livestock equivalent of high powered aspirin and he perked up a little but not much and after the festival we had the vet take a look.  She also didn't find anything other than some roughness in his lung sounds.  She tried a different antibiotic that is considered much more effective against respiratory illness but there was no improvement and he dropped dead (literally) walking back into the bunk from the pasture after the morning turn out. 

Mr. Bill       2008-2014
He was a bottle baby and a funny sheep with lots of personality and at only six years old is gone too soon.  We'll miss him.  I still had half of his 2014 fleece that hadn't been reserved so I washed it the other day and will spin it and use it in something for myself.  I'm thinking of putting it together into a sweater along with Pearl's half fleece that I've already spun up.  Maybe find a knitting pattern that has a design of two colors and learn how to do that - knit with multiple colors, I mean.
Just yesterday Andy built me a dandy drying rack for washed fleece to replace the cobbled-together arrangement I'd been using.  Voila - chicken wire in a frame, four feet wide and eight feet long resting on two sawhorses.
Today its first function is to hold Mr. Bill's fleece while it dries after washing.  Now it's full of all sorts of good vibes, having been built by my DH and pressed into service for a good sheep's fleece. 
Funny how the most mundane items can quickly come to have sentimental value.



  1. Hard to tell for certain from the distance in the picture but I am 90% sure that's an 8N and not a 9 or 2 N. Reason being is the back rims which had the raised center section much larger on the 9N and used a six bolt pattern. The 8N's went to a smaller raised section and an 8 bolt pattern.

    Those old Fords (9N, 2N and 8N) all had so much overlap here and there it's hard to tell for sure without close ups of the running boards, brake/clutch pedals, and throttle. Some 9N's were all gray though.

  2. I am so sorry to hear about Mr Bill's passing Robin ...but at least you have the fiber to remember him by and can make yourself something special from his and Pearl's wool :)

  3. Goodbye Mr Bill. I can see from that photo what a cheeky chappy you were.