Monday, September 25, 2006

Nature's palette

I bought a smashing violet colored Aster last week and when I set it at the back step, joining it with another new addition to our garden, the Black and Blue Anise Sage Salvia, with the backdrop of our favorite fall perennial the Turtleheads, the result was so rich I had to dye the hues on our yarns. The center skeins will be overdyed with Indigo to purple them up a shade, the results to follow!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Sheep foot care

There are precious few sheep health care tips I can offer to shepherds whose outcome is more rewarding than this one. A few years ago one of our ewes went lame, and we madly read all the sheep books we had, called the vet, the whole nine yards. Then I re-read in one of our books about the gland located just above the hoof of a sheep's foot (you can see the light area just above the "toes"in the picture, Ashley has chosen to be our model today!) which functions to lubricate and eliminate friction between the toes, and occasionally the gland gets clogged with dirt and becomes infected. Lameness occurs rather quickly after the clogging begins. The first time I noticed this ailment, our ewe, Memphis was holding the affected leg up and when she did walk she was limping if not hobbling. So with a little hands on experience, we have found that 9 times out of 10, the reason for lameness is this clogged gland. Last week one of our wethers went lame, it wasn't an all day, every day lameness, but this week he became quite uncomfortable, holding the leg up, barely putting pressure on it when he walked, and carrying 225# on 3 legs takes alot of energy. We brought him back to the barn on Tuesday, and as a precaution, trimmed his hooves; they were fine. I did check the gland area and it seemed fine, so we turned him out to pasture again. But yesterday he was still really lame. Much of our greatest work is done in the dark of the night and last night was no exception! Both of us, independently, decided that the gland had to be the culprit, because he could kneel or lay down, but standing hurt. This morning when I checked on him he was lying in the pasture with his lame leg pointing out and he willingly let me prod around the area and inspect it. Tell me they don't know when help is needed! We brought him back to the barn, and while Jack held him, I really applied pressure to the gland, squeezing it down and out toward the opening, allowing the clog to undo. Then I poured a bit of peroxide over the gland area and we set him free. Within an hour Wetherby was walking with barely a limp, and tonight he is back to normal. It may take a couple of treatments to clear it up completely but it really is one of the simplest health issues to treat and offers almost instant improvement.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Holy fireplace!

Jack decided to replace the stones in the fireplace at the big barn...I stopped by to see what he was up to and yikes! These rocks ought to do the trick although they probably won't last more than a few years...tough granite but not firebrick!

Monday, September 11, 2006

Never forget....

Today our hearts go out to the thousands of families grieving the loss of loved ones in the attacks of September 11, 2001. We will never forget.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Oh man, oh man... doesn't get better than this! As I went about my Sunday on the farm, that line kept popping into my head. "Oh man, oh man, it doesn't get better than this." My father was full of one liners and quotes and the like; it was his verbal arena. He was a dairy farmer all his adult life. Not a gentleman type farmer but full fledged, full time, milking 80-100 cows 24/7. We grew up on a farm in Amherst, NH on the Souhegan River that will always remain in my mind's eye, one of the prettiest farms in New England. We had lots of land, all along the river, bottom land; in fact I remember many years the river flooded all the fields right up to the knoll the house and barns set on. They named the place "Knockfierna"~knoll of truth. The radio was always on in the barn, set on a shelf down the center isle between the aisles of stanchions and gutter cleaners. In summer baseball was the big draw, Curt Gowdy the radio voice. Dad loved baseball, he said it paralled life (yup, one of those!). I remember walking through the barn mid-afternoon, it was empty as the cows were still out in the loafing lot before milking time and always the ball game was on in the barn. Perhaps Dad was haying, there were sheets on the line, crisp and fresh, cows laying in the glen under the maples, it was perfect, for that one blessed moment. And so today, here at Long Ridge it is sunny, a light breeze, no humidity, the livestock comfortable and healthy, crickets chirping as loud as the fans at Fenway...and I pause, look around and just have to say..."oh man, oh man it doesn't get better than this".

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Dye dogs of summer

Sidney, the lab and Shelley, the sheltie were hard to keep away from the dye pots!

Friday, September 08, 2006

Color Madders!

Here are more splashes of color from our Earthues workshop!

Monday, September 04, 2006


I stood out at the edge of the lane that runs past the barns this weekend, watching the sheep graze. Then my gaze drew in like a telephoto lens, zooming in to the closer view. I saw my Sheltie laying under the bench by the barn, I saw the planters of flowers I had planted in Spring, now full with bloom, my little studio and the pots hanging on hooks, waiting for a new dye pot of color. Layers...layers of life, interests and lifestyle; all of it blending together in one view; my view. I find that when I stop and take in the immediate surroundings, no matter where I might be gazing, the depth, quality and richness is far greater than what I first saw. A walk in the fields and woods can offer far more vision than merely the grass and trees. My cousin took this picture on a hike this summer; simple, yet such depth of texture, color and feeling. How we view the space around us and how we choose to maintain it can have a profound effect on us individually and collectively. Look around!! Do you like what you see? Do you see what you like?