Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Loom Room

I have a new friend. I met her on Craigslist. We plan to make beautiful things together.


She is a 45” Loomcraft 4-shaft, 6-treadle jack loom. She came as a package deal with a bench, warping board, 2 extra reeds, 4 sets of lease sticks, a set of warp sticks, 2 boat shuttles, two rug shuttles, two ski shuttles, about 20 bobbins, a bobbin winder, threading hooks, two huge boxes of yarn and a box of weaving books and other miscellaneous things. It was basically everything a beginner would need; a weaving studio in a box.

In anticipation of her arrival I’ve been cleaning out the spare bedroom we’ve been using for storage and pawning all our crap family heirlooms off on my daughter. It is her turn to be the “keeper of the stuff.” I figure it is similar to a right of passage in our family of packrats.


I neatly organized my stash of rug fabric and clean fleeces.


I put my first rug up on the wall for inspiration. I’ll need some sturdier shelves eventually but the plastic ones I already had will work for now.


I saw a great idea to put a chalk board behind the warping board. That will be next on my list of things to do.


The best part is the room is conveniently located across the hall from my sewing room, Sheville. Certain individuals think if I continue to annex any more property I may have to incorporate Sheville as a city. I told him to go back to watching ESPN and not worry about it.

Baton Down the Hatches

Have you been following the news about that crazy snow storm? I’m not ready. Not even close. We've stepped up the pace and put the fall chores in high gear. Cleaning the chicken coop is a major undertaking; it is the most daunting task of the season.


The dust and cobwebs have to be swept, the nest boxes washed and the pine shavings removed. It’s a lot like cleaning out a giant litter box.


It is no fun but has to be done to keep the chickadees healthy and happy. Not to mention making my visits with Sammy more enjoyable.


Now that it is finished I can move on to cleaning the barn. The sheep, alpacas and llamas all still need their pedicures and a couple of the boys need to have their “procedure.” Then we’ll be ready for the long winter’s nap. After we get more hay… oh and we need to drag out the tank heaters…

I keep working but my to-do list isn’t getting any shorter.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pretty Paisley

She is a wallflower, quiet, unassuming and shy. Paisley most often stands back and lets Popcorn steal the show. It doesn’t bother her though because deep down she knows SHE is the pretty one.


You may not realize it but under those brown tips she has the  most beautiful grey fleece.


Blond Popcorn may have more fun, but Paisley knows it’s what is on the inside that counts.


“Yeah right,” she says. “I’m still not feelin’ the love. Popcorn has a fan page on facebook for crying out loud.”

“Oh she does not!” I replied.

“That’s what she said.”

“Well no, she’s too young. I won’t allow it.  Here, would you like a cookie?”

“Oh sure, now you’re going to make me fat.”

“I can’t win here can I?”

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Farmland Border Patrol Officers

It looks like they’re just standing around, but they take their jobs very seriously.


Yesterday for instance, Thelma noticed that Tula, Paisley and Popcorn were on the same side of the fence as she was. “Uh, Louise. I think we got some illegals,” she said.


“One, two, three, four…Hey, Thelma you’re right we do have more of those little fur balls,” replied Louise.


“Quick we need to determine their intentions,” said Thelma.


“Hey, hey you!” “Stop, I need to see your passport,” shouted Louise.


“Halt, we need to do a sniff search of your bodies,” announced Thelma.


“Run, run for your lives!” shouted Tula, leaving Paisley and Popcorn in her dust.


“Great, you lost them,” Louise said accusingly.


“What do you mean, I lost them? Are you not part of this team?”


“I’m just sayin’, look at the length of your legs and then look at theirs.”


“Oh, that’s how it’s going to be, huh? Fine, you handle it. I’m going to go roll in the fresh stall bedding.”


Monday, October 24, 2011

And Then The Fat Lady Sang

It’s over. For the past several months I’ve not known for sure if I was coming or going or if it was 2011 or 1861. I love doing it, but for a homebody like me it has been more than a little over-stimulating. I feel like I could crawl in bed and sleep for a couple of weeks.

I couldn’t have done it without the help of my wonderful family who did a great job of holding down the fort around here along with some good friends.

Peggy joined us at Billie Creek Village Friday to demonstrate quilting. It looks like she’s hard at it doesn’t it?


In reality we only demonstrated when we had visitors. The rest of the time we were huddled up next to the fire, toasting our buns like Karen here. That old house is cold in the morning!


Of course, I have to thank the star of the show as well. Popcorn is now famous in certain circles. Every time we walked to the village for lunch we had visitors calling me Mary and wanting to photograph us in front of the schoolhouse. I had more offers to buy her than I can remember. Of course, I turned them all down. Although… Popcorn did seem really interested in the one lady who asked her if she wanted to go live with some cats. It became rather apparent during the festival that Popcorn doesn’t really understand that she is a lamb; she thinks she is a designer dog.


A good time was had by all, but it sure is good to be home. The barn and coop need cleaning, hooves need trimming and errands need to be run.

All is right in my world again. Smile

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Spinning Yarns

I love volunteering at Billie Creek Village. I only wish I could do it full-time, year-round. The village is currently for sale though and it is anyone’s guess if it will even re-open next year so I’m trying to make the most of the last hurrah the Covered Bridge Festival brings.

I learned quickly last year to sit down as much as possible. There is such a flurry of activity that you don’t realize how exhausted you really are until you drive home. Since Friday I’ve spun six skeins of yarn and have two more bobbins full of singles. I don’t think that’s too bad given all the interruptions.

I love how the spinning wheel has the power to mesmerize people. Most people really are drawn to it like bugs to a zapper. The men tend to look at the wheel and the mechanics of it, the women look at the yarn. Not that I’m being all stereotypical or anything, it just seems that’s how the different brains work. Interesting.

Even the bus loads of school children this year have been engaged. I’ve not wanted to shoot a single child so far.  (Hey, no judging, you have NO idea.)  There are, however, children all across Central Indiana right now with wads of raw wool in their pockets. Their mother’s will be thrilled when they find that in the wash, tee hee!  Some of them have actually shown some serious interest in learning the craft. I feel like a spider spinning a web to catch unsuspecting victims. Mwah, ha, ha…


I also managed to fix up the old Kromski Symphony wheel that belongs to the village and start using it. It had seen better days, as in it was rusted so much it wouldn’t spin. (Now I can bring my cherry Matchless home and e-mail Schacht and prove to them the whirl they sent me is absolutely NOT cherry.)

It has been a great, productive festival so far. Today it is freezing cold and poring down rain though. I’ll be staying home since the wagon rides that bring the visitors to me at the farmhouse won’t be running. As much as I’d like the day off to rest, believe it or not I’d rather be there in front of the fire in my costume spinning yarn and sipping cider. Even if nobody else ever showed up.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Popcorn’s Playpen

We never could understand what that railing was intended for. Visitors would sit and debate the endless possibilities. This weekend I think we might have discovered the purpose. It is a playpen for bottle lambs.
Popcorn has stolen the show at Billie Creek this week. Sometimes they’ll look at me and pay attention to my spinning but for the most part it’s all about Popcorn.
It has gone straight to her head. On the second day we passed a pasture full of sheep and she yelled out the window, “Hey, I’m a star. I’m going to be adored.”
Or she might have been saying, “Help, save me!”
I don’t speak sheep.
Today we both walked to the village to have lunch. It was like walking to town with Cher or Madonna. The paparazzi was insane.
She’s staying home tomorrow. You know. So she can rest.
Not because I’m jealous or anything.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

We Had Front Row Seats

This past weekend wrapped up the Civil War reenacting season for us. The weather was fantastic.


The Hartford event was the largest and most well attended event we have participated in.


Our “Suds Row” display was on the very edge of the battlefield.


It seemed like a great location. I had plenty of room to demonstrate and I could even sit right inside my tent and take pictures of all the action.

Then they started firing the artillery.


Several of us, even old Abe himself, were then found cowering behind some tents, covering our ears.


I’m not sure what period-appropriate earplugs look like exactly but I’m adding them to my list of necessary items for next year.

The Festival is Coming

This month is insane. Busy, busy, busy.

I finally finished tying off the rugs I made at Billie Creek Village. I am keeping two and the other three will replace the worn out rugs in the farmhouse there. Then I’ll re-weave the old ones.


Friday is the first day of the Covered Bridge Festival. We have a couple volunteers to hang out in the log cabin this year. It gets a little crowded in that small room so I’ll take a break from weaving and go back to the farmhouse while they are there.

Popcorn and I are busy getting her wool and  nails done for her debut. She will be going with me as part of my sheep-to-shawl demonstration. It will be like Hug-A-Sheep Day for 10 days straight. She’s going to love it. I suspect she’ll be very popular.

If you are in the area stop by and visit.

Friday, October 7, 2011

A Little Lamb Who’s Fleece Was White as Snow

She follows me everywhere. I try not to play favorites around here but geez it’s hard when they do that. I’d like for her to follow me to camp this weekend for our final Civil War event at Hartford City. I could do a whole sheep to shawl demonstration. Wouldn’t that be cool?


If it weren’t such a long drive during rush hour traffic, I’d totally do it. Well, that and the fact that I’m a little concerned what all those hungry soldiers might think of my little lamb. Her name is Popcorn, not Chops. Er, wait. Um.

Hmm, perhaps we should rename the three new girls? Maybe something that goes along with our TV show theme? Who can think of a show that had a bossy old lady and two young girls?


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

It is Too a “Real Job”

The Engineer. He has this highfalutin, high-tech corporate sales job that often requires me to scrape the manure from under my nails and gussy myself up for a fancy dinner out. I like the dinners. Don’t get me wrong. A five-star restaurant is always a good thing in my book. I particularly like it when I’m not the one paying for it. The only part that bothers me is when the small talk attention turns to me and someone asks, “So what do YOU do?”

I used to just say, “I homeschool my son.” But now that  he has gone back to school I never quite know how to answer that. I’ve often replied, “I’m a hobby farmer.”

Generally that has been followed by a 30 second hesitation on their part as they try to process what I just said. Then there is, of course, the obligatory explanation of just what that means, “I raise sheep, alpacas, goats and llamas.”

Again, a pause while that little tidbit is digested. Then they always ask, “And what exactly do you do with them?”

Here is where the eyebrows start to inch towards the tops of their heads. When I tell them that I shear them by hand and process the wool, I can tell they are mentally filing me under the hippie weirdo category in their business card files. If not immediately then certainly once they figure out there is no real cash flow being generated yet.

So I am trying to resolve the “What do You do?” question.  Instead of “hobby farmer” I need to actually sell something to lose that “hobby” part of the title. You’ll be noticing a few changes around here. A cohesive look and feel to the old blog and facebook page, a new Etsy shop and whatnot. A general attempt at getting my act together and becoming a “real” farmer.

It is either that or answer the question with stuff I make up like, “I’m an excrement expatiation engineer.”

I wonder how long it would take them to process that?


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

“Well, in Whoville they say…

…that the Grinch's small heart grew three sizes that day.”

Popcorn knows how to make mine grow, too.

Is she not the sweetest thing that ever lived or what?!

She has me completely wrapped around her little hoof. Which she just so happened to get stuck in the wall of her shack between the plywood and the 2x4 rendering her temporarily helpless and leaving no doubt in my mind we were made for each other. More often than I care to mention I’ve had a heel stuck in something or other. We ARE both blonde after all.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Welcome to the Land of Cookies, Girls

I have some new friends. They came to me via Theresa and Tori at Under the Son Farm.

Tula is a more, shall we say, mature girl. She’s giving up her stay-at-home-mom job and semi-retiring to the land of cookies and bedtime snacks.


She’ll still be required to produce her drop-dead gorgeous fleece each year. It actually glistens in the sunlight. Wow.


She and Sophia used to be rivals in their youth, should be interesting to see who gets to be the head sheep in charge once they are combined into the same area. Tula has made it abundantly clear that she is  in charge of the quarantine.

Then there is Paisley. Just look at that color!  She is a beautiful grey under those br0wn tips and sooooooo soft. I simply cannot wait to shear this cute little thing.


Paisley is a little skittish but I’m sure she’ll warm right up once she discovers the joy of cookies.


“Cookies? What are cookies?” she asks.

This next adorable creature is Popcorn.


Popcorn was a bottle baby which Tori and Theresa spoiled rotten.  I LOVE Popcorn. Sweetest little creature EVER. I totally want to bring her into the house to watch movies with me. You can’t watch movies without popcorn, right?

The Engineer says no.


I guess we’ll just have to do it when he’s gone. Winking smile


Welcome to the land of cookies, girls. I think you’ll like it here.