Scenes From An Early Spring

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One of the chickens has taken to laying eggs inside the haybale, where the sheep have made indentations from snacking. When done with her daily task, she’s been known to pause for a nap on Darby’s back for a bit.

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I’ve always seen sweet pictures on the internet of sheep with other little animals on their backs; usually cats. I’ve never had it happen here before, and I seriously doubt Samson cat will ever get up the nerve to nap on a woolly back. It’s a happy circumstance for me, then, to catch this hen hanging out with her ovine companions.

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Most of our hens now are laying darker brown eggs; a fact I realized today when getting ready to boil eggs to dye with the kids. Nothing worse than having four dozen eggs in your fridge and having to buy more so your kids can play with pastel colors.

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My Shepherd Sweater is flying off my needles with much more speed than any of my previous projects. I’m guessing this is due to the huge amount of time I’ve spent this year waiting. Waiting for Neve to get out of school. Waiting for doctor’s appointments. Waiting for the garden to wake up. I’ve got the main portion of the body done, and am about to finish the second sleeve.

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I still have to do the pockets as well. They are done as steeks, and I haven’t ever worked one before, so I’m a bit nervous.

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Handsome Granola. I hope he’s done his job!

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The Bradford Pears and Forsythia are finally blooming, and the Cherry Blossoms are on the verge.

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The peonies have only just started poking up, and I’m seeing the very beginnings of the radishes I planted starting up, as well as one lone asparagus that has broken up through the earth. I’m really hoping the rest will show themselves soon!

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Welcome Spring 2018!

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It almost looked like spring out there, with all of the buds about to open on the trees, and all of the daffodils blooming.  Not that I’m complaining, mind you.  I love a good snow, and a good day off! Besides, here in Central Virginia in March, this will be gone tomorrow, and we’ll be back to business as usual. In the meantime, we are enjoying a day of relaxing and knitting inside.

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I tried getting some good pictures of the flock, but they were convinced I must have cookies in my pockets for them, and wouldn’t let me step back far enough.

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Darby unbelievably turned 5 a few days ago. 5!

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Scout has taken her usual spot for the day……

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…..and so have the cats. What’s funny about this situation on the cat tree is not that it is unusual – they do this every day. What’s funny is these two hate each other, and only on the tree do they reach any semblance of coexistence.

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Of course, a snow day would be incomplete without a baked good of some sort. This is our current favorite – the Whole Orange Bundt Cake  from Joy the Baker. The recipe can be found HERE, and I highly, highly recommend it.

I’ll be rounding out the day by knitting and listening to podcasts ( current favorite is My Favorite Murder ) in front of the fireplace. Maybe a nice wee dram of scotch later  – current favorite for that is Ardbeg.

How are you spending this spring day?

Finding Some Hygge

Once in awhile you get a perfect day. One where the weather gives you a little bit of the magic you were looking for (in the form of snow), and you don’t have to be anywhere but right where you want to be.

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We finally got a respectable snow fall this week. The schools closed down, the driveway became impassable, and we were treated to a quiet and cozy winter day at home filled with baking, cuddling with pets, and knitting.

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This rooster ( aptly named Snowball) stood at the backdoor just like this all day, alternating with leg he’d tuck up into his feathers. We tried moving him to dry, non-snowy spots, but it seemed like he was enjoying spying on us too much and kept coming back.

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I love seeing sheep in the snow.

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After morning chores I made a loaf of cinnamon bread.  Oona hung out by the fire to wait for it to be ready and to snuggle.

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I also started working on my next big knitting project: The Shepherd Sweater by the amazing Pam Wynne.

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Spending the day watching the snow by the fire, with cinnamon bread in the oven, knitting, with a small glass of lovely scotch: exactly what I needed. Any chance I can get one of these every week until spring?

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Granola!

I’m beyond thrilled to introduce the newest addition to my little flock. He is a Rambouillet/BFL/Finn cross, and his name is Granola (he came with the name, and it’s adorable, so hes keeping it). He was born last spring, and he is an intact male. Meaning, of course, that once he’s feeling it, he can breed my ewes. And let me tell you, I for one assumed he’d be a bit young still to attempt any romance, but within an hour of being here, he was already making sexy faces and advances on Willoughby. She is super not interested, but Lyra and Carina won’t leave him alone.

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This post is Lyra approved!

In The Bleak Midwinter

This seems appropriate for today’s grey, overcast stillness. It’s, as John Mayer once put it, “the kind of morning that lasts all afternoon”, where the sky remains the same dreary hue from dawn to dusk.

It is, however, above freezing today. The polar temps we’ve been experiencing have relented and given way to some balmy 40 degree days. Honestly, I’d rather keep the polar cold. It’s helpful in killing off harmful parasites and bugs that plague us all through the warmer months. On the plus side, it’s nicer when the water troughs and bottles don’t freeze immediately after they’ve been filled. The sheep have a heated bucket that keeps water liquid, but it’s rather small and requires me hauling buckets of water out rather frequently. The rabbits, unfortunately, do not have heated water bottles, and we’ve spent a great deal of time thawing them out so they always have something to drink. They are otherwise doing very well and producing an impressive amount of compost for the gardens.

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The ducks and chickens are hard-up for water, too. Mostly they drink from the stream, but as it is solid right now, they too are depending on us putting out water.

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Despite the relative quiet and lack of activity here right now, there are a couple of new faces.

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This is Scout. She is a Great Pyrenees who belongs to friends of ours who are transitioning from one home to another, and she is lodging with us while they find their new place and get settled. Though she’s used to guarding livestock and being outside, she followed me in one day and claimed the couch as her own. Most days that’s where you’ll find her.

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She does get overheated fairly easily in the house, though, and will tap on the back door in order to go lay out in the cold for awhile.

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The second new face around here is a permanent one. Meet our new farm cat, Samson.

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Samson is what you’d call “aggressively friendly”.   He’s the friendliest rodent control you’ll ever meet.

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He’s an outdoor cat, but he has a bed in the garage, as well as a sun room on the back deck ( basically, a big box with a cat door with a glass panel that faces out and gets a ton of sun. He loves it).  He is a much better solution to keeping rats away from the livestock feed than any kind of poison or trap!

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Samson accompanies me on my walks around the farm to check on things and enjoy the sites. I love the bare shapes of nature in the winter.

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Even the little waterfall in the stream is frozen solid. There were little birds skittering over the surface, but on my approach with the cat, they flew off.

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It’s an interesting state everything is in; not quite asleep (there are buds on some of my fruit trees!), but not quite ready for spring, either. We haven’t had any real snow yet, though I am still hoping for at least one good storm. Maybe we are all holding our breath a bit, waiting to see how much winter is left.

Buns of Fiber!

After years of waiting and wanting, I’ve got bunnies!

I brought home a brother and sister pair of French Angora rabbits in a color called “Chestnut Agouti” (that’s what their papers say anyway. They’re like a grey and tan).

They are the friendliest, snuggliest little buns, and the kids have named them “Gene and Louise”.

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Miss Louise. They very much like kale and carrots.

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I’m excited to plant a garden full of greens and herbs for them in the spring.

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Gene. He is super chill.  Right now I have them in a large dog crate (separated so they don’t breed!) while I await their more permanent hutch that is coming.

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I’m looking forward to having an adorable source of soft fiber. The kids are thrilled to have bunnies that love being cuddled and played with. Either way, they are a welcome farm addition, and I so hope they are happy here!

Do What You Love

Currently I’m working on trying to make more time to enjoy the things I love. I’ve been spending so much time shuttling the kids to their various appointments, schools, and activities, and I haven’t had much energy left over for much else. Slowly, though, I’ve been adding back in time in my schedule to work on my knitting and spinning, to cook and bake, and to be more present in the moment when I’m checking on the flock. And you know what? I feel more energized now, and I’m even more convinced of the magical qualities of pursuing what you’re passionate about.

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I’m still struggling a bit trying to find my rhythm with the spinning wheel and getting the twist right, but I am very much enjoying the learning process.

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I’m still working through the roving I bought at Rhinebeck last year, and I’m hoping to have it used up by Rhinebeck this year (because you know I’m going to bring home more!).

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Oona and I moved the flock up to the front pen this evening. I love seeing them out there when I look out the front window.

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I’ve decided that I’ll be looking into finding a Blue-Faced Leicester ram for breeding again this fall. The kids were sad to miss out on lambing this year, and I’d really love to add some new life to the flock.

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As for the garden….we suddenly have watermelons growing again in Oona’s garden.  I doubt they will get very big, but the late-season heatwave has seriously confused the plants that haven’t died off. It’ll be interesting to see how these little guys turn out!