My Wild Middle Child is 8

I can’t believe how quickly time has gone by.

My Neve has always been a handful- practically from the moment she was born.  As a toddler she would get out of bed in the night and make trouble while the rest of us slept.  In daycare she managed to bat her eyes and sweet – talk her way into getting the other kids in trouble so she could play with their toys.

Then there was the phase where she wouldn’t keep her diapers on and one day left a big poop on the coffee table.

*note to all visitors to my home: that table is long gone.

She continues to be wild, wily and whiny, somehow all at the same time, but also charming and fun.  She’s provided us with no end of amusement over the years and I am sure she will continue to do so.

Happy 8th birthday my Neve!

I just adore this one of Neve & Sabine!!!!

Neve is as in love with the sheep as I am.  That’s my girl!

Photo by Joel Eagle.  I love that it captures Neve’s approach to life perfectly.

And when did the child that is well – known for looking like this (above) in every picture turn into a young lady that looks like this:

We’re  all in trouble.  That’s all I’m sayin’.


You’ll Be Hungry Now

This is the post where I show you two delectable treats over the weekend.

Breakfast on Sunday was inspired yet again by a picture on Pinterest.  You’re not on Pinerest, are you?  What a time suck.  But by golly, have I gotten some grand ideas from it!

Anyway this is french toast made with angel food cake rather than bread, topped with strawberries and maple syrup, along with a dollop of fresh whipped cream.  On the side are Vermont Maple breakfast sausage links.

As soon as Oona saw her plate she said “Oh I am going to finish this!!”

And it certainly was finish – worthy,

For dessert later in the day I made a Raspberry – Pistachio Tart.

The first time I ever had a Raspberry – Pistachio Tart was at Mrs. London’s Bakery in Saratoga, NY.  Everything at Mrs. London’s is to die for, but all of us particularly took to the Raspberry Pistachio Tart.

I’ve spent years trying to re-create it at home.  We don’t live anywhere near Saratoga, or I’d simply go buy one whenever the craving hits.

However, after several years of trying various things, I think I’ve got it.

The tart has a pistachio cream filling and fresh raspberries on top.


Also, so very close.

Either way, if you’re ever in Saratoga, GOOD LORD go to Mrs. London’s!

Spotted in the Backyard

About an hour after many neighbors spotted a bear on our road at morning bus stop time, I looked out the window and spotted this:

A wild turkey.

She wouldn’t let me close enough to get a decent picture (this is cropped so you can see her better).

This kind of visitor is far preferable to bears, foxes and raccoons, that’s for sure.

Some Sad Goodbyes

Losing little chicks is one thing – they’re very fragile and any little thing can doom them.
Losing an established member of your flock is quite another.
Two in one day?
That’s when we start to worry.
This morning Emily found one of our new ducks, LaQuack, dead in the front coop. She had seemed just fine last night and there was no evidence of sickness or trauma.
That was quite a surprise to us, and of course sad. We felt worse for her hatchling, Fanny, than we did for ourselves, though.

I’ve never lost a duck before, so I was puzzled as to what could have been the problem.  I made a mental note to look into possible causes after cleaning up and showering.

Then Emily opened that back coop, and to our very great sadness, found that Big Jim, our lovely and sweet Barred Rock roo, had also met his fate.

Emily and I spent the day cleaning all of the old bedding out of both coops and putting fresh in.  We also put a holistic wormer in their feed along with a vitamin supplement and antibiotics in their water.  These are all a shot in the dark,  since we have zero other symptoms, aside from the fact that most of our hens have stopped laying eggs.  I wasn’t overly worried about that fact before; egg laying can stop due to stress, changes in light and or temperature, or regular molting (loss of old feathers and growth of new).  But it can also occur due to illness.  The fact that our hale and hearty rooster died means that there is more than likely some illness afoot, so we are treating it as best we can.

I am worried for the rest of our flock tonight, and I am sad we lost such a lovely and gentle rooster. It seems crazy to be upset over a chicken, but there you have it.

I am also puzzled as to why we lost a duck out of the coop where the hens have NOT stopped laying.

I am comforting myself for now with a quote from Dr Seuss (I believe).

“Don’t cry because it’s over.   Smile because it happened”

I’ll smile that we got to spend time with these funny and beautiful creatures.

Shearing Extravaganza!

Another Shearing Day has come and gone and I do believe we are all exhausted in the very best way possible. Even Oona slept more soundly after wards than she has in I don’t know how long. There were games, ribbons, pies, popcorn, maple cotton candy, luscious yarn and fiber, gorgeous pottery and baskets, a crazy – good bluegrass band, balloons, and SHEEP!

I was happy to see some dear friends from my Book Club at the festival as well as friends from all over the country who flew in just for the event.  I am also happy and proud to announce that my Buttermilk Pie won the pie contest!  It was such a beautifully fun day that I am already excited and ready for the next one this fall.  Just remind me not to bring my camera into the stalls with the lambs and the freshly shorn sheep.  Freshly shorn sheep are slick with lanolin.  And that, my friends, makes for blurry pictures when it gets all over your camera lens.  Ask me how I know.

Now go check out Susie’s blog account of the festival HERE, featuring pictures by the amazingly talented Joel Eagle.

Painting Sneak Peak

I will have a very few paintings to show off / sell at the Shearing Extravaganza this Saturday.  I wish I had more of them, but they take me awhile to get done and then they take forever to dry.  As it is, I completed 2 this week that are still wet and I am fanning them like mad so they can be transported.

Here’s one that will be there:

If I can manage it I’ll try to build up a stock of work and fill my etsy shop.  I’ll let you know.

To see this one and a few more in person, GO TO THE SHEARING!!!!!!!!!!

Scenes From Maryland Sheep & Wool

Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival was amazing.  Not only did I get to run into some old friends and finally “meet” others:

Hi Marie!

We ALSO got to go to an after party where we were lucky enough to meet both Deb Robson and Carol Ekarius, who were generously signing copy of their new, not – yet – available – in – stores book, The Fleece & Fiber Source Book.

Y’all, I’m not gonna lie.  This is probably the BEST book on fiber and the animals that provide it.  As soon as we had it in our hot little hands, Susan, Caroline, Jenny and I went straight to our room and read through it.

It was a lovely weekend full of lovely people.  It shall only be surpassed by the awesomeness that will be this weekend’s Shearing Extravaganza at Juniper Moon Farm.

But for now, enjoy the pictured from Maryland!

Susie needs this sign.

Findley- licious

I am lately smitten with a new yarn.

It’s Findley, one of the new Juniper Moon Farm yarns  in silk / merino that I was able to snag a few early samples of (along with an advance copy of a Findley pattern!) thanks to all the volunteer work I’ve been putting in over there.

On one of the many all – nighters waiting for lambs Caroline stayed with me and she was knitting one of the new patterns with Findley for the photo shoot for the upcoming book.  I was instantly in love.

Now that I am knitting it myself, I can tell you – it’s to die for.

I am working on the Three Lace Cardigan in colorway “Crocodile”.

I have never, ever, not once, knitted anything as fast as I am knitting this, for two reasons:

A: Caroline and I, completely independent of one another, decided we should have something knitted up in the new yarn to wear to Maryland Sheep & Wool this weekend (a whole sweater, knitted in one week.  Clearly craziness is in the water down here, ’cause it’s gonna be close if I can manage it)

B: I am addicted to it.  I can’t put it done.  It’s WAY fun to knit with.  Every day when school’s done I pop my earphones in, open my This American Life app on my ipod (or the occasional Ricky Gervais podcast) , and knit until I can’t keep my eyes open.

I don’t have any pictures of what the finished product will look like – you’ll have to wait until it’s complete.

BUT – if you’ll be at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Fest this weekend, be sure to find us.  There will be plenty of it to feel for yourself!

Surprised By Lilacs

Have I ever mentioned that lilacs are my all – time favorite flower?

I like a lot of flowers, really, and it’s hard to pick a favorite.  Peonies have a special place in my heart because their scent never fails to remind me of my grandmother.  Ann Magnolia trees with their giant pink saucer – shaped flowers remind  me of spring in New Jersey as a child, when it seemed to me they were everywhere.  When the wind blew and the loose petals would fill the air I thought there could be nothing more magical. It was like a fairy tale.

But lilacs. Beautiful white and purple lilacs.  They have the best scent of any flower, bar none.

My grandparents had lilac bushes growing near the hotel (as well as the peonies….and mulberry trees!!) and I have a photo of me at about Neve’s age, with my messy and super – white hair, sitting in the grass holding a giant bunch of lovely lilacs.

Later when we lived up in the Adirondacks the springtime was full of lilac trees everywhere.  Growing all over the roadsides and in backyards.  You could stop almost anywhere and pick as much as you could carry, and it wouldn’t leave even a dent in those huge, densely packed branches. Then we;d bring them home and put them in vases all over the house and the scent of lilacs would faintly waft all through the house.

I miss that.

Since we moved to the south it has been much more difficult to come across lilacs.  Either they are just not as popular here or the growing conditions aren’t quite right.   I’m not really sure.  Some people here certainly have them, but they were fairly hard won – a lot of soil amending and proper placement and care and whatnot.

A few years ago (3 years?  maybe 4) my mother gave me a small lilac sapling that was supposed to be just right for our climate.  I was excited, but cautiously so.

I planted it and kept an eye on it but every spring since I have gotten nothing but a mass of dark green foliage.  Pretty, but no flowers.

This spring I’ve been so distracted by all the stressful things going on that I didn’t even notice until I was bumbling by the tree on my way to the chickens that it had bloomed.

Two large, beautiful, perfect purple cones of lilacs.  What a moment that was.  I didn’t dare cut them to bring them in.

When I came out of my moment I realized that spring had bloomed all around me and I had barely noticed.  How awful , to not even have noticed the brief and beautiful display going on all around me!

The azaleas were fairly shouting for attention!

When we finally move, I will be digging up that lilac tree and taking it with me, as a reminder to never be too shut down to notice the beauty around me.

And I am so buying more of them to plant!!!