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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Rhinebeck 2017

Another year, another Sheep & Wool festival.  Though precious little changes from year to year, it’s precisely that known-ness that brings us back. If it’s autumn, it’s time to see the familiar sights and smell the familiar smells we can only get from the Hudson Valley. The smell of woodsmoke mixed with the tang of apple cider and fried donuts on the breeze, the brightly-colored trees all around, and the sounds of baaing from the barns. We’ve come to rely on these things as part of our year, and though the weather was less than cooperative (it was far too warm out and by noon most of us had shed any and all woolens we had worked so diligently to complete in time to show off) it was still a solid success.

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Probably wins my award for best handknit at the whole damn festival.

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These honeybear hats were super cute, though.

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Look at that beautiful wheel!

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This little cutie tagged along with us for awhile. One of my oldest friends, Janet, met us at the fair and brought along a friend and her daughter.

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BFL roving that Emily bought for me. I tend to always get these same colors!

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Since I always tend toward the autumn colors, I decided to get away from that when visiting my friend Lisa Check at her Flying Goat Farm booth. Not only is she one of my favorite people, she is a dyeing dynamo. I have mad envy of her color skills!

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Finally, I grabbed a few samples of roving from Delly’s Delights, which is, amusingly enough, located just a few miles from us in Virginia.

Hopefully this will keep me happily spinning for awhile (though really I have probably 100’s of pounds of my own fleece I should work on washing, carding, and spinning!).

As we were leaving we stopped by the apple cider booth (run by a Hudson Valley orchard) and ordered some fresh cider and cider donuts. Oona wanted the cider shake, which i assumed would be like a slushy. It was actually fresh cider blended with french vanilla ice cream. It. Was. Divine.  It was like apple pie a la mode in a cup. I’m going to have to try and replicate it at home. As for the cider donuts, well. Let me just say that I’ve gotten used to the offerings here in the south, and I had forgotten just how a true cider donut is supposed to taste. I remembered once I took my first bite. If there’s one thing New York State does well, it’s apples. And Sheep Festivals.

 

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!

Chimney Fire Sweater (Finally) Done!

Okay, okay. It’s been more or less done for weeks, except for weaving in the ends. But, as I hate weaving in loose ends AND it was too hot to wear, it’s been languishing on my desk awaiting completion.

So naturally I picked a 90 degree day to do it. Ha!

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Despite how long it took me, it’s actually a very easy, straightforward knit.

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I’m also still completely in love with the color, despite the fact that there’s a slightly darker band down the middle where I clearly didn’t match up the dye just right.

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And now brace yourselves. I had Oona take pictures of me wearing it. She didn’t do too badly, but I’m not the most photogenic subject, sooo……LOL.

 

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See the darker band? It actually doesn’t bother me one bit. Adds character.

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And there you go. My resting bitch face. I don’t mean to look so dour, I promise!

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Anyhoo, I’m super pleased with how it came out, and it’ll be perfect once the colder weather hits again.

In the meantime I have started working on some holiday projects to make sure they are done in time. You’ll get to see those after the holidays, of course. They’re a surprise!

June Already?

Has everyone else been crazy busy and absolutely astounded that it’s already June, or is that just me?

Every ounce of energy has been spent on schoolwork, carting kids to various appointments, gardening, and work.

I DID manage to finish my Chimney Fire Sweater, though! I haven’t taken any pictures yet because it’s a thousand degrees outside, but soon!  That’s the upside to having my kids going to lots of different meetings: lots of knitting time for me!

The garden has been incredibly frustrating and slow, but it’s coming along. I lost a lot of the pepper and tomatoes I started by moving them out too soon. There’s still plenty there, though, and keeping up with the weeds is of course a daily struggle. The worst part is the ticks. Every day I’m pulling about a dozen off of me. And trust me, I’ve tried everything. 

I’ve used every essential oil and bug spray on the market, including the crazy mostly-DEET kind, to no avail. I even went out in the garden in my damn BEE SUIT and still pulled a couple off my back and neck that night. They freaking love me. The harvest this year better be worth it!

I put up deer netting after learning from last year’s total tomato loss, and I’ve got plenty of diatomaceous earth and Neem oil. Once the plants get big enough to withstand them I’ll probably try and keep the ducks in there, at least part-time, to help with the bugs and weeds.

The honeybees are doing very well. I’ve added another box to the hive, since they have mostly filled the two they have already.

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Go bees!

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They seem to be happy here. We definitely have plenty of wildflowers, and I just confirmed that we have several wild American Elderberry trees! They’re all in flower right now, and I’m crazy excited to have them.

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What post would be complete without cats? Widget and Poppet are such fat and happy things.

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And then there’s Pippa, who’s starting to show her age, but certainly not acting it.