I’m Still Here!

I can’t believe I haven’t posted since July!

It’s been a challenging year. I was disappointed our mating season was a failure and we had no lambs, but insult was added to injury when I lost my beautiful ewe, Perivale, to a snake bite. Having sheep and goats is kind of a crazy thing to do, because once you finally work out that perfect formula of good grass, good parasite control, and a nice, healthy weight, you lose them to snakes. Or sheer stupidity (our goat, Basil, tragically got himself wedged under a large woodpile and his injuries and dehydration were too much to overcome).

The garden this year was also not the best I’ve had, but I did manage to get a decent amount of tomatoes and basil, along with volunteer pumpkins that grew in spots where the pigs had “deposited”seeds after eating pumpkins last year. The asparagus is looking great as well, and I can actually start harvesting it a bit next spring.

Sabine is officially retired as a guard dog. She was spooked by the fireworks on July 4 and ended up 3 miles away. I brought her inside  to recover from her adventure and she decided she was done with the great outdoors. Considering she’s 11, with the beginnings of arthritis in her hips, I decided she deserved a life of spoiling and luxury from here  on out. It does mean that currently I have no guardian for the flock, however, and I’m going to have to get that taken care of at some point, especially if I decide to breed and have lambs around. Given the choice, I’d get another llama. An Akbash would be nice, too!

However, now that fall is upon us, things are looking up. Neve is studying cosmetology at the local vocational school in addition to her regular studies. Emily is enrolled at the community college. And with that, I feel way older than I’d like! I’ve also been spending a crazy amount of time in the car, driving them to their various classes and appointments. Emily is working on her license, and that will be a relief.

Everyone has been knitting the last few weeks. I’ve finished a project that will be a Christmas gift and am mostly done with a second. The girls are working on scarves. I’ve made pesto ravioli and next week I’ll make pumpkin ravioli. Hopefully I’ll be better about making time for this space again from here on out; I’ve missed the writing!

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S|NO|wpocalypse ’17

We were so hoping for a snow day. They’d been calling for a foot or so for us, and everyone was out in force yesterday clearing the stores of eggs, milk, and bread (not to mention the liquor store).  I had no appointments or places to be the next couple days, and was prepared to give the kids a day off from school to play in the snow and enjoy our one and only day of winter.

We got 4 more Pekin ducklings a few days ago, and I  beefed up their bedding and made sure they were good and cozy and the heat lamp wouldn’t be affected by ice or snow.  We have gallons and gallons of kerosene in reserve for the heater, just in case. In short, we should’ve known.

This was our glorious snow storm:

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SO DISAPPOINTING.

It looks like winter has passed us by this year, and we may as well keep on our path to spring.

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So what do you do when you’ve lost out on your much-needed snowday?

First I put together dough for cinnamon bread and made a good strong cup of coffee.

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Then I worked on cutting some pieces for quilting.

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Of course, Widget wasn’t going to allow that to last without some “help”.

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I can’t resist him. I’ve put away the quilting supplies and moved on to transferring some of my seedlings out of the starter kit that Widget keeps sitting on and trying to eat the sprouts out of.

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It was a decidedly NOT snowday thing to do.  It did, however, make me happier about the impending spring and summer weather. I can’t wait for those  juicy tomatoes, fresh off the vine (if I can keep the deer out this year!).

I did make the kids do their schoolwork today, as well. They didn’t mind, since there was no snow outside to frolic in. Plus they were all gathered around the table once the cinnamon bread came out of the oven.

I’ll be making a giant batch of Bolognese sauce and knitting more hats the rest of the day while I resign myself that winter is pretty well done.

Someone better tell my hens it’s time to start laying some eggs!

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Makers Gotta Make!

What have you been doing with your January?

I haven’t been as productive as I’d like, given my broken finger, but I’m doing what I can. I’m knitting quite a bit, but it’s very slow going (again, finger), and I’ve gotten very little farm work accomplished (though honestly, being that it’s winter, there’s not much to do on that front). I’ve been trying to check the ewes to see if they’re possibly bred, but I can’t catch them right now to really check.  Most times I go out there and crouch down to keep them comfortable with me out there (to observe what I can), and I have to leave after a few minutes because the goats seem to think I’m a climbable object.

As for Orzo, he’s adapting to being inside. It’s become abundantly clear that he is Paul’s dog. Figures!

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And I apologize for the blurry photo, but he absolutely refuses to sit still once he sees the camera out.

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School is continuing along, seemingly at a snail’s pace. The cats have made quite a distraction of themselves lately, stretching out all over the table in the sun while we are trying to work.

Oona has been focused on the Harry Potter series. And when I say focused, I mean obsessed.  She’s halfway through book 4, and she’s watched all of the movies, at least 3 times. We signed her up with a Pottermore account, and she was sorted in Slytherin House. When she seemed puzzled about that, I explained that, when given a choice between love, family, home, etc, she chose power. Of COURSE she’s a Slytherin!

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She’s embraced it fully, using all of her christmas money for Slytherin regalia.

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She and Paul spent last weekend working on carving a wand for her.  All it needs is some varnish.

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It fits her hand perfectly.

While she has been working on crafting Slytherin items, I’ve been working on making hats. Slowly, but surely, enough for each of us will be complete. I know I could be actually finishing up my sweater (I’m stuck on sleeve island, as my friend Tanya would say), but this feels more important.

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I’m hoping things will be calm enough at home the next few weeks that I can spend all my time working through my yarn stash.

A good snowstorm would help with that! Hint, hint, Mother Nature!

 

Solstice

“And so the Shortest Day came and the year died

And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world

Came people singing, dancing,

To drive the dark away.

They lighted candles in the winter trees;

They hung their homes with evergreen;

They burned beseeching fires all night long

To keep the year alive.

And when the new year’s sunshine blazed awake

They shouted, reveling.

Through all the frosty ages you can hear them

Echoing behind us – listen!

All the long echoes, sing the same delight,

This Shortest Day,

As promise wakens in the sleeping land:

They carol, feast, give thanks,

And dearly love their friends,

And hope for peace.

And now so do we, here, now.

This year and every year.”

 

Susan Cooper

 

It’s the Winter Solstice, once again. Slowly but surely the light will come back now, as we round the year and tilt toward summer again.  But first, winter is upon us (though it remains relatively warm here, and aggravatingly snow-free). It felt fitting to spend the day baking cookies and enjoying each other’s company. In the late afternoon I took my usual walk around the pastures and found my center among the natural world.  This is my favorite time of year for walking in the woods and bringing treats to the sheep. Though low, the stream is full of tiny minnows. The dried-up weeds and vines and fallen trees become like hedgerows, teeming with birds. You’d be forgiven for thinking there was a huge animal crashing about out there, the birds are so plentiful and noisy. It’s hard to get pictures of them; I haven’t got a zoom lens and they fly off in huge clouds of winds and chirping if I get too close.

I can see now that the small, wild holly trees are thriving, and I’m hoping I can transplant them at some point to a better location. I also found the remains of a skunk in the back pasture, who I assume was killed by one of the many hawks we see out there every day. We’d been smelling the pervasive scent rather strongly back in October, but never found the source.

After dinner the girls and I bundled into the car and we set off for our yearly viewing of Christmas lights. It seemed fitting on the night of the Solstice to celebrate the colorful lights people have on their homes.

Happy Solstice, all. May your days be long and bright, and your nights warm and cheerful.

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Walkway Over the Hudson

On Sunday my stepmother suggested we head over to the Walkway Over the Hudson, an old rail bridge re-purposed into a pedestrian walkway over the Hudson River. I’d been wanting to see it for quite some time, and since we could bring their new dog, Bindi, as well as my stepbrother and niece, I was all in.

The Hudson Valley really is a breathtaking place. So much of it speaks directly to my heart; a few days spent in the land of my youth is like a healing balm for my soul.

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Though the leaves weren’t yet at peak, they were far more colorful than what we’d left behind in Virginia.

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Sweet little Bindi. She’s an 8 month-old Red Heeler, and the friendliest little thing you’ll ever meet.

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Normally I have a fear of bridges that span bodies of water; the walkway didn’t bother me one bit, though.

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Those leaves!!!

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After we hiked over the bridge and back, dad came with the kids and I on a short trip down memory lane past one of our old houses, and on down to Kingston Point Beach and Hasbrouck Park to see the view.

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The old Hutton brick factory.

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Heart-shaped brick!

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Neve took lots of pictures of the gulls.

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This is the view from my parents’ condo. The kids are mad jealous.

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As for me, I’m mad jealous of this tree. I’d love one just like it in my front yard.

Now that we are home the kids are sad to see the leaves here aren’t very colorful (to be fair, we usually are a few weeks behind here with our leaves) and are ready to move back north. I’m feeling refreshed and revived and connected with my family again. Tomorrow it’s back to school and the normal routines, but I’m hoping my bubble of contentedness lasts for awhile longer.

 

Rhinebeck 2016

Once again, we had a whirlwind weekend in New York attending the annual Sheep & Wool Festival and visiting family.

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I loved these little felted guys!

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I think these little yetis were my favorite thing this year.

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I really wish this hadn’t come out blurry. This llama really liked my dad!

In completely unrelated news, all three girls agree we need either another llama or an alpaca.

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A Herdy! They had Herdwick sheep there!!! Isn’t she gorgeous?

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The Peruvian folk band, in their usual spot.

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Love this Angora goat!

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We didn’t buy a whole lot this year; Neve was saving for other things she wanted, and Emily and Oona and I had trouble deciding among all pf the amazing things for sale! (though if I hadn’t had such a long drive home I just might have bought an Angora rabbit!)

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I did manage to snag some lovely dyed roving to play with, though! This one is a Cormo/Silk blend.

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The yellow/green/orange Blue Faced Leicester reminds me of the mixed vegetables from childhood that came frozen in a block.

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This purple and red blend is Finnsheep.

Oona and Emily each got yarn and hats, but I was unable to photograph them before they took off with them, eager to start their own projects!

Lastly, these lovelies are now mine:

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I can’t wait to get to work with all of my new toys!