Monday, June 30, 2008

Moving to the Big House

The chicks are moving on...they really made compensatory gains the past week or so and have earned their status as barn chicks. We moved them to the lambing barn today and put them in the lamb creep pen which works perfectly for the next stage. Here they are traveling in a box to parts unknown.

We set up the grain and water and a larger branch to roost on along with the heat lamp at 100 watts. Lately they started roosting on their little log; sometimes I'd check on them and they'd all be lined up on it. It is most amazing to see how instinctive they are.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

First WIP Wednesday

Stepping into some unchartered territory here! My first WIP...Work In Progress on Wednesday. It's a personal challenge, I believe, to report to the outside world some measure of fiber success each week....let's see if I can keep it up amidst the flurry!

I had started this scarf in May during the NH Sheep and Wool way layed, now I am on a roll here. It is a Rowan pattern entitled "Froth Scarf" knitted with Rowan Kid Silk Haze in a double strand on US 8 needles. It doesn't look it but the length is 36" here and I am now knitting the froth around the edges. Very fun pattern, goes quickly, shows nicely!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

They know the way

The flock spent the night in the winter barn as I thought the weather was going to be severe and they'd appreciate the roomier quarters in the event of rain. This morning I took them out to the near field, they know the way on their own. Sidney has become an effective sheep herder, by default. You can see him laying in the driveway behind them. He blocks their options taking the rear every time. Where he picked this up we do not know!

When the sheep arrived at the field, they filed one after the other up to the top where we reseeded a section this spring. Instinctively, perhaps, they could spot the lush and brighter green grasses. They never looked back at me!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Run Nancy run, see Nancy run

I was cheerfully cleaning off a big ledge which has wonderful, natural steps against the back side that leads off into the woods behind a barn. It had been a few years and they needed to be cleaned out again. Trees ARE a renewable resource!

All of a sudden I realized I'd been stung and then again. I threw the rake down and ran like a mad woman far away, turned around to see if they'd followed me and, realizing that I still can run really fast, found I was safe. And then one more sting right between my fingers! But not to be daunted, I slowly crept back to the scene and lo and behold there was a lovely paper nest full of mad hornets right at the bottom step of the ledge. Daringly (or is it stupidly?), I stepped close enough to grab the tip of the rake and went off to lick my wounds.
This is a dark picture but the nest is visible (now!) just to the right of the green branch, a whitish area, some of those are the hornets!

Looking back I realized I'd been extremely fortunate as they could have really done me in...up my pant legs, down my shirt. Usually it's Jack that finds the nests and many a time I've seen him doing the high step out of the woods or a field. And I always get such a kick out of watching him escape. When he heard the story he was sorry he hadn't been able to return the laughter as I fled down the lane!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Marking summer

Just a few hours ago the summer solstice began. And although the days actually start their trend to less daylight hours it feels quite the opposite. Long, lazy days and cool, beautiful evenings. The woodthrush are back and in the evening their throaty, fluid song is icing on the day. The flock of chicks is set up on our screened summer porch where they can feel the days to come when they are old enough to venture forth on their own, months from now. We added a maple branch and leaves to entertain them. They are busy learning to dust themselves and perch on the branch and beat their little wings around their protected world.

The bushes and trees boast loads of fledgling birds and still some bird nests full of wannabe fliers. Under three barns alone we have 4 current nests with babies in various stages of development. Any project we do around those areas is always first considered for the brood's feeding and safety. In a few short weeks the nests will be empty and we can start to watch flying lessons, bug catching and worm pulling contests!

The sheep are on pastures now fulltime. Each of our pastures has electric fencing, a shed for shelter from the heat of the day as well as any violent weather. We have water supplies at each field and they still get hay daily which they dearly love, even with all the green grass. We rotate the flock through the fields gaging the time based on the height of the grass. Optimally the height should be 6-8" when they go on a field and no less that 3" when they come off. It has been harder this year with the lack of rain so early in the season so the grass isn't growing as quickly as it should. But there is certainly enough grass to keep them happy through September. Cheers to summer!

Friday, June 20, 2008


And on our farm we have some chicks....EIEIO
Just arrived. Six cute little Buff Sex Links. All now to be collectively known as Buffy. Chickens, a great source of daily entertainment AND eggs!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

June is busting out all over

We discovered a little nest in one of the peony bushes a few weeks ago. Such an idyllic place to make a home! The scent is divine, lots of thick protection and dappled sunshine. It's a chipping sparrow's nest and she has two little babies tucked in there.

And the fruit trees are loaded with tiny fruits! Here is a branch of the peach tree which gave so many peaches last year we had to prop the branches up. Shall we begin a peach recipe swap?

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Hazy, hot and haying

It's hot, damn hot for June. And as soon as the word hot enters the forecast so does haying. You can't bale hay if it's raining and you can't bale hay if it's cold.

As I was loading bales onto the hay elevator at 4:30, the temperature on the ground in the sun at 90 plus degrees, and regularly looking up into the opening of the hayloft as the bales rode up the track where Jack was on the receiving end, with the hayloft temperature of 110 degrees, both of us sweaty and coated in hay chaff, I found myself wondering....would I have it any other way? And no, I wouldn't. Jack wouldn't either. Farming is healthy and connected to the earth. It's pure and simple.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Natural dyeing with Barglar recipe

I have been corresponding with a gentleman in England who found my article online about a dye recipe using green leaves (Barglar) and onion skins that I learned while working with Uzbekistan dyers a few years ago.

From the left are the results of the Barglar recipe on sheep's wool, spun wool and cotton and then a 2nd and 3rd dyebath from the same recipe. In the center is a walking stick, hand-carved that the Englishman purchased in Khiva on a visit. Beautiful! To the right of the stick are skeins and sheep's wool dyed with madder root.
You may read my entire article including the recipe a entitled "The Silk Threads of Khiva". Search in the Archives section on the left sidebar. Vol 13, Issue 1.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Slice of New England

Jack and I took a trip North up the Connecticut River this week and found not only the longest wooden bridge in America but also the longest two span covered bridge in the world, less than an hour from home. Pictures don't tell the whole story. Standing at the river's edge and looking across the river from NH to VT conjured up a thousand images...and what stories this bridge could tell over the past century plus. If you travel the New England states, don't pass this bridge by.