As I zipped around doing evening barn chores yesterday, I thought about my many reasons to be grateful. I am blessed with health and wonderfully supportive family and friends. This year my family (who are rather spread out geographically) decided we would all do our own thing for Thanksgiving. Although I really miss seeing everyone, I am glad no one has a long drive, no one has to deal with airport agony and that we can all have a restful day.
I am thankful that I live on this beautiful patch of planet and that my life is graced with a flock of peaceful, gentle souls. I thank Snowdrop for posing nicely for this close up and the seven-ish sheep who stood still long enough for the shot below.
During this time of uncertainty, I have come to truly appreciate the security of home and my husband Mike, who single-handedly maintained stability here during my insanely hectic fall show schedule. I am really thankful for Holly's reliable back up at the farm and also with preparing for shows this season (I don't know what I'd do without her!). And for Gale, who keeps home a nicer place.
The only cooking here today will be chevre and herb omelets for breakfast, as soon as I've finished feeding the sheep. I'm grateful for that! Mike and I will have Thanksgiving dinner at the Deerfield Inn this evening.
The Border Leicesters are thankful for this loaded tree in the upper pasture which dispenses a fresh supply of apples on windy days . . .
And I am really grateful for the new windshield on the mule - just installed yesterday. The wind chill factor was getting pretty hard to take, especially when driving to the hilltop in lousy weather. Thank you Mike and Dick!
I thank the knitters, spinners who value my work and have supported my business over the past year. Thank you for making this year a successful one.
Thank you Clara Parkes, for having me at the Knitter's Review Retreat last week, and the Northeast Handspinner's Association, for including me at The Gathering earlier this month. I really enjoy the pace of events that allow time to visit with friends.
The weather is cold but fine here today, so we'll go hiking after breakfast and morning chores. Then I will hunker down for a while to review the galleys for my hand dye book (due out in May) while Mike watches football. Really looking forward to turkey and pumpkin pie a bit later.
With wishes for health, happiness and love - Happy Thanksgiving!
Wednesday morning Holly rounded up the lambs and ewes and grabbed the buckets of clean sheep coats. The gang is really putting on wool at this time of year and we had been noticing quite a few jackets with snug fits.
We're also transitioning now from pasture to hay feeding. There's still grass out there, but as the earth hardens with each frost it gets more and more difficult to set the stakes of our temporary electronet fencing into the ground. I've learned from past experience not to wait too long to take down the electronet. Mike and I once tried extending grazing right up to Christmas. While there was no snow, we had to chisel each and every stake out of the frozen ground. No fun at all.
Here's a closer look at the gang in the huddle. Personally, I hate crowds, but sheep for some reason are most comfortable when they are nearly on top of one another (at least in a handling situation). It's the prey animal, safety-in-numbers mentality, I suppose. Anyway, they absolutely hate being chased and it's much easier this way to grab them one at a time .
They are good sports about the coat changing procedure. I hold them by the chin while Holly lifts one hind hoof at a time and slips the rear leg straps. Stopping to admire the fleeces, we pull the coat up and over the back and wriggle it free from the neck wool. Next comes a fresh new coat, a size larger.
The sizes are marked with colored bits of cloth sewn into the front seam. The small lambs who had been wearing yellows are upgraded to reds. The larger lambs in reds are ready for tan coats. Most of the ewes are already in tans. To make room for their expanding fleece we up-size them to silvers.
An hour later, the coat check is complete. Here they are looking pretty spiffy in their clean white jackets, exiting the wardrobe.
On Saturday, November 29, you can stop by to meet this wooly gang. I am hosting my one and only Open Farm/Open Studio event for the year. The lambs will be in the carriage barn, and you can also meet Gypsy, my new Angora doe (who, as you can see from this photo, is a free-spirited nudist). If you want more details, like how to find my farm, click here.
Tomorrow I head west on the Mohawk Trail, round the infamous hairpin turn to Williamstown MA. I'll be attending and vending Clara Parkes' Knitters Review Retreat this weekend. That means today I will be very busy wrapping things up in the dye studio . . .
Fall means a farm in transition. Temperatures dropping, trees unleaving, daylight shrinking, the sheep keenly sense and respond to the change in season. At one minute, they rest at ease, here enjoying a moment just after dawn. A moment later, they're charging at each other, ears back, heads down. The rams get territorial, squaring off in the pasture. It's nearly time for them to join the ewes. The ladies are restless and short-fused as well. Lots of sparring at feeding time in the barn.
The landscape here is changing in other ways.The birthing barn is getting a badly needed roof job. When we purchased Springdelle Farm this building housed a herd of holsteins and the equipment for running a dairy. We've since removed the milk lines and tank and use this secure building to shear and to raise lambs each spring, while storing the bulk of our hay harvest in the loft.The building has been shedding its original shingles, circa 1969, since we took ownership eight years ago. We decided last spring that we couldn't afford to wait another year. Last week Jim Jarvis and crew began stripping the dead shingles down to bare sheathing (which was in surprisingly good shape, given the number of bare spots). The "unroofing" went quickly. The new roof, a 30 year architectural shingle in charcoal gray, is steadily spreading its way over the 111 square foot expanse. As of today at dusk, the east, west and north faces are nearly done. With tomorrow's iffy weather forecast, the guys tarped the unshingled peak. When they finish here, they head right over to roof the studio.
Smaller changes elsewhere on the farm. This little gal hopped off the tailgate of Andy Rice's truck and into my barn yesterday. This new addition to in the flock was much needed as a companion for Butch, my angora buck, who has been terribly lonely since his brother Sundance died six weeks ago.
"Gypsy", a tiny bundle of mohair and personality was a "lone goat" in Andy's flock. It seemed to us like the two might make a good pair. Apparently, they agree. They follow each other everywhere. When I returned from voting today and glanced up into the pasture, there they were, together within the flock of 37 sheep. I remembered my camera at evening chore time. She has a beautiful, glossy coat of ringlets. You can really see it in the flash (which also made her eyes appear alien-blue, unfortunately). Her "handle-bars" curve straight back over the top of her head, unlike Butch's horns which flair out to the side. What else can I tell you about her? She is more vocal than the boys, calling out to me each time she saw me step outside the studio. In addition to grass, she loves apples, bananas and carrots. She's a sweet, tiny, pushy little thing. No bigger than the smallest of my lambs, she bosses her way through the adult ewes who are quickly learning to stay out of her way. Her "goats rule" attitude is pretty funny. She has no idea of her size. My ewes could easily flatten her, if they weren't afraid of her.
More photos later. Will try to catch some pasture shots, if it's not raining tomorrow. In the meantime, back to the tv where I tonight follow some pretty big changes elsewhere . . . .
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