Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Our Big Black Boogyman

One night back in April of 1998 we heard all sorts of automobile sounds outside on the road, we didn't think too much of it, someone just turning around perhaps. The following morning we found a black lab in our open shed, hiding in the back, not tied, but quite rattled, he sported no collar or tags. He absolutely would not leave the shed so we gave him a bed and a big bone to chew, called the humane society and they took him away. We felt his rightful owner may want him back. As it turned out we think his rightful owner was the one who left him the night before, not wanting to feed him anymore. We have an idea who but it doesn't matter anymore. When no one had claimed him after a week, we decided to adopt him. We were told he was untrainable and should be put to sleep. We named him Sidney. The next few years proved to be a real challange for even our steadfast dog care and skills.He stormed anyone who came by the house, friendships were jeopardized and even police reports filed! By then we were in too deep to turn back. I used to call him the big black boogyman. His alpha personality has subsided, and at 8 years old, he is a complete mush with those he knows and likes; he loves this farm and his life here. He loves the fall and winter most of all. Anyone who knows Sidney personally knows that a kiss on the lips is unavoidable; no matter how hard you try to avoid him, he's faster! We are thankful this great big crazy lab came into our life!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Happy Hookers!

I have just gotten back from Newtown Ct....this rug hooking show was the best! The weather today was simply miserable; rain, wind and more rain but the turnout was fabulous. Thank you to everyone who stopped by our booth! Maryann was my cohort and thank you for all your help and good company! And Chloe, Maryann's Corgi, came along and gave us comic relief and canine company. The blue ribbon winner was awarded to an incredible hooked rug, long and narrow in shape, depicting the 4 seasons in a New England town, stunning! To see more photos check in at www.newtownhookedrugshow.com The Earthues web store at www.longridgefarm.com will be up and running soon....stay tuned!

Friday, October 27, 2006

On the road again....

I am off this afternoon for Newtown, CT to the 5th Annual Rug Hooking Show, to promote Earthues natural dyes. It's all day Saturday so if you are in the area or into rug hooking I hear it is a great place to see, buy and immerse yourself in the art of rug hooking! I am working on my first hooked rug and will take it with me. Although it is not a complicated art it requires a steady hand, good color sense and glasses! My rug (of course!) is a sheep bearing a floral stem in it's mouth and surrounded by various colors of background and shapes. It's fun to do, practice will improve my skills! Enjoy the weekend, whatever you may do! I know, I know...summer picture, but on the road nonetheless!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Dyeing Uzbekistan Silk

I just returned from a two day workshop which encompassed natural dyeing, weaving and embroidery taught by artisans from Uzbekistan partnered with US artisans. For the dyeing portion of the workshop, Kathy Hattori from Earthues partnered with Modrim Matkorimov, Khiva Master Dyer, with language interpreting by Dilorom Nishanova. We dyed with raw materials as would be used in Uzbekistan. We used green leaves from apple, grape and camillia, onion skins, madder root, weld, cochineal bugs, black walnut hulls and indigo. We also had the good fortune to view a slideshow one evening of the exchange project as it unfolded in Uzbekistan where the US artisans first traveled to meet and work with the Khiva artisans. We were able to view and purchase exquisite textiles made by the Uzbek people from silk rugs, to fine silk fabrics, handwoven and dyed, to embroidered pieces. Uzbekistan is the third largest producer of silk in the world after China and Japan. It was a fantastic experience to both work and communicate directly with the Uzbek artisans, one none of us will soon forget!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Hard frost

We got the first hard frost overnight with a crisp 26 degrees this morning. This heralds the beginning of winter. Buffalo, NY and parts of the upper mid-West received 24 inches of snow yesterday! I like the frost at this point; it kills the parasites the sheep leave behind in the fields, now we can give their fall de-wormer...nothing will survive these temps.
I am leaving shortly for a 2-day workshop with a number af artisans from Uzbekistan. I will, of course, be engaged in the natural dyeing portion of the weekend! I will share when I return.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Autumn peace

My walk with the dogs this morning was so peaceful in the woods and fields. The mist was still hovering over our ridge, the sun just beginning to poke through. We had some rain overnight so underfoot the leaves were soft, there was no interruption to the quiet; a few crows cawing in the pines and all the little birds we see across the winter months in the thickets, the nuthatch and chickadees, goldfinch and a few layovers. But other than those welcome sounds, there was no other. Welcome, Autumn peace.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Dirty laundry

Sheep coats....I finally have a sytem down for washing and repairing. We change the coats throughout the year about 6 times. After shearing the sheep are in the smallest size and by the following shearing the largest. In between, they get torn and break the elastics so after a change, I wash and repair. Because I don't want to muddy up our washer with the grease and dirt, I first boil them for 5-10 minutes in my big dye pot. Then I hose them off right away, while still hot, to wash away the excess crud. Then they are "clean" enough to run through the washer. Once clean and dry, the sewing repairs are done and they are put back in the stack ready to go. All the sheep, including the lambs are coated now, and from here on until shearing, I watch each sheep to make sure their coat fits correctly as their fleece grows. Too tight mats the outer fiber as well as restricting the sheep's natural movement and too loose can cause the sheep to get hung up, legs caught etc.