Friday, December 31, 2010


We're having a little reprieve from winter today. It was 66 degrees earlier this afternoon! There's no need to be surprised by it. This is Kentucky, after all and the interlude won't last. This time last week, we were anticipating a white Christmas. Today the bees are cleaning out their hive and I feel spring feverish. I am not fooled, though. Winter is just waiting to pounce again
The big girl ewes and the little girl ewes spent most of the afternoon snoozing in the sunshine in their respective fields. Holly moved between the two and slept along with them. Except for a short run to the feed store and what I hoped would be a quick trip into the grocery, I've accomplished very little today. Please tell me why so many people are frantically grocery shopping on New Year's eve? Judging from the mob at the store, we must be the only people in Woodford county who are not having a big feast or party tonight! We'll be lucky to manage being awake at the stroke of midnight, much less out partying!

I've been thinking a lot today, mostly, about the coming year. Shearing and lambing will be here in two short months, then gardening and, most exciting of all, a wedding in the fall. Mike's son, Taylor, and his fiance, Crimson, are planning to be married here on the farm in early October. We have plenty to accomplish between now and then and you'll probably hear a lot about it. We've done this once before, when Mike's daughter, Katie, got married here 6 years ago. I am so pleased that they want this old farm to be the setting for such an important day in their lives. (And, there's nothing like the deadline of a big event to get all those neglected projects finished up!)

However you choose to welcome the new year, I wish for you a safe and satisfying evening and hope you'll join me here for another year of life at Tanglewood Farm. Happy New Year!

Monday, December 27, 2010

Not so bad

It wasn't as bad as I was anticipating. The surgery was quick and I slept most of the following two days. (Mike's theory was that I was trying to catch up on all the sleep I've missed in the last year or so, when the carpal tunnel numbness woke me up three or four times a night.) At any rate, it's over and I'm ready to get on with it! Mike says I don't make a good invalid, which I will take as a compliment (though I'm pretty sure that's not how he meant it). And thanks to all of you for all the good wishes. One down and one more to go (though not for several months).

I'm enjoying my quiet time at home this week. I've been thinking about how I would like my life to be in the coming year. I'm going adopt my friend Lindy's idea and pick a word for the goal I want to achieve (definitely not a resolution-that's doomed to failure from the get-go). Right now there are several words that appeal to me: balance for one and maybe living a healthier life. How about you? Do you have goals for the coming year?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Moving right along

Whew! I'm sorry for all the confusion. I fully intended to get this up in the morning, but like a lot of plans I've made lately, it just didn't happen. So, I'm going to go ahead and include all those folks who got here a little late to the party. After all, it tis' the season!

According to, the winner of the Christmas Give-away is comment number 6. Michelle said..."Oh, I would be wonderfully happy to win ANY book by Alice Starmore; thanks for the chance!" So, Michelle, send me an email at, with your address and I will get this package right off to you. Thanks to everyone who stopped in and commented. It is so much fun for me to read all the comments and follow links back to your sites. I never cease to be amazed at how the internet can connect from so many far flung places.

Our farm lane has finally thawed out and is safe to drive on. We are going to have a few days of "normal" (whatever that is) temperatures in the 30's and then the bottom falls out again and we head for single digits. I'm going to be excused from farm chores for a while. My poor husband will be doing all my chores while I recuperate from carpal tunnel surgery. A big part of my panic at being ice-bound for 4 1/2 days was because I could see that I was not going to be fully prepared for Christmas in time. I found out the day before the ice storm that my surgery is scheduled for tomorrow. I would not have chosen a pre-Christmas date, but having to work around the surgeon's schedule, Mike's schedule and my own made it a necessity. I'm just hoping, hoping, hoping I'll be able to figure out how to knit. I am a very right-handed person, so the idea of wearing a cast on that hand for three weeks is daunting, to say the least. It's possible I'll be forced to practice my continental style knitting (at which I am lousy)!

(that's little Miss Olive looking at me...hoping for special treat...because she knows she's special!)

We are still seeing the coyote on a regular basis. In fact, yesterday morning he (or she) came within about 30 feet of the house. I'm worried that this one is getting just a little too comfortable around here. Holly was doing her duty, staying close to the sheep, protecting them and barking. She spent the entire day out in the field with the ewe lambs and, as I write this, is doing her nightly patrol, now that all the sheep are in the barn for the night.

Thanks to all who commented and I hope you'll check in here again. There is always something going on here on the farm..........and lambing time will be here before we know it!

A winner coming soon!

Thanks so much for all the comments. I'm so sorry for the delay, but I'm having a bit of a glitch here. I should be able to post the winner's name a little later today. Be back soon!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Christmas Give-away

Still here on the farm and still iced in. This is an exercise in patience and one I would have preferred to experience after Christmas. Honestly though, we are doing fine. I think it's more the idea that we can't get out that makes us a little restless. That and the fact that I'm not finished with Christmas gifts. Mike noted today that we could probably live off the food in the pantry and the freezers for several months. I'm hoping this is not the time for us to find out!

So, enough of my whining. Here we have the last give-away of the year and I think it's a great one. I've had a ridiculous time trying to get some decent light for pictures. It's been gray and gloomy during the daylight hours, so I've taken these in the house, under some strong lights and they are a pretty good representation of the colors. Not perfect, but close enough that you will get the idea.

There are three skeins of Rowan Colourscape Chunky by Kaffe Fassett (lamb's wool and very soft), two skeins of Cascade Pastaza (50% llama/50% wool) and one skein of Merlin the Cat Yarns Superwash Sock (560 yards of merino wool). The book is "Fishermen's Sweaters by Alice Starmore. It has tons of sweater patterns (mostly ganseys, but some fair isle) in sizes for the whole family.

I imagine next week will be pretty hectic for all of us, so I'm going to ask that you leave a comment by 9:00 am on Tuesday morning, December 21st (Eastern Standard time). If I hear from the winner soon enough, I just might manage to get it in the mail before Christmas.

Thanks to all of you for taking the time to check in here and participate.

Friday, December 17, 2010


(Lottie's perspective is that it's all long as feeding time is on schedule)

They say that's what matters, right? I'm trying to keep the perspective that this is a nice little respite from the busy-ness of the holidays. I'm trying to remember that the ice coating on everything is beautiful...even magical. I'm trying not to think about the fact that I'm not finished with Christmas preparations and that if we lose electricity, I'm done for! While other parts of central Kentucky got inches of snow, we got ice. We are iced in. Our farm road is one solid sheet of ice leading down to the creek and up the other side. Even four-wheel drive doesn't help on ice. Just walking to the barn presents major challenges and I've taken to carrying an electric fence post with a spike on the end to help me keep my balance! I'm more than grateful that we have heated, automatic waterers for the animals, so except for Henry and the chickens, I'm not having to carry buckets of water for everyone. It could be worse.

So, are you wondering what happened to the next give-away? It's coming......I promise. I've been trying to get some good pictures of the goodies and it is so dark, I'm not having much luck. I will keep trying and hope to get the give-away post up either today or tomorrow. Check back in the next day or two.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Want to feel under-appreciated? Want a job that is good for someone else and will make them feel better, but leave you feeling as though you just had a workout? How about having to pin your patient up against the side of his pen and hold on for dear life while you administer treatment? Not so much, huh? Me neither, but that is what I'm doing several times a day right now (and the thermometer in the barn read 5 degrees this morning). Our man Henry has a nasty abscess on the top of his head (ick!). How he got it, I do not know. In any case, when I first discovered it, he was one sick boy. Now that he's had a few days of antibiotic, he's feeling much perkier and stronger! Oh man, he does not like having warm Epsom salt compresses applied to his poor head! I can distract him for a few minutes by feeding him grain, but then, hold on because the boy doesn't want to stand still for this foolishness. I'm trying to remember that this is a good sign....that he's feeling better and the antibiotics are working. I'm hoping I won't need treatment when it's all over!

(I call this his "Go ahead. Make my day" look, but he's really a pretty sweet guy.)

Monday, December 13, 2010

Good girl, Holly!

Can you see that creature sitting up there in the snow? (click to enlarge) Yesterday as I was trudging to the barn for evening feeding, I heard Holly barking, barking, barking. She was barking an alarm bark, not just a warning bark and bouncing up and down with each bark. It took me a while to see this guy sitting out there watching the sheep. The whole scene was at once alarming and reassuring. Alarming because coyotes are usually out and about after dark and rarely do they come within sight of the house and barn. It was reassuring because Holly was doing exactly what she should. She hadn't abandon her sheep to chase the coyote. She had rounded up the ewe lambs and put them in the corner of the field nearest the big barn. Once she had them in the safest available spot, she placed herself between the lambs and the coyote and continued barking and moving slowing toward it. The coyote loped off toward the back of the farm. Holly has been on high alert since this happened, constantly patrolling and giving her warning bark.

There seems to be a larger than usual coyote population right now. A few nights ago, as I was walking from the barn to the house, I heard a big pack howling and yipping from the back of the farm, only to be answered by another large pack down in the creek below our house. Talk about raising the hair on the back of your neck....that'll do it! We don't hunt or trap them, but I wouldn't rule out the possibility, if one were to attack Holly or kill one of the sheep. We try to coexist. We won't bother them, if they don't bother us or the livestock.

When Holly first arrived here, we figured she had been born around Christmas time. She has matured into one of the best livestock guardian dogs I have ever owned. I'm thinking she may need some kind of combination birthday present/reward in the near future. Good girl, Holly!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Another winner

(the Old Girl is taking her mid-morning nap in her favorite spot--don't know where her buddy is)

It was a balmy 15 degrees at feeding time this morning. Amazing how warm that can feel when the sun is out and the wind is not blowing! Mind you, I'm not complaining about the cold. I think I used all my complaining rights during all the hot, dry days we experienced this past summer. According to the weather people, we are in for a few days of warm-ish (30's-40's) weather before the next front rolls through this weekend to give us a repeat of last weekend. Lots of rain, turning to snow and then low, low temperatures. Right now I'm especially glad to be raising livestock with warm, woolly coats to keep them comfortable.

So, enough with the chit-chat. I know what you all are really here for! I've been blown away by the number of comments these past few days. It's obvious there's a love fest going on out there for Kristin Nicholas and I'm sure she is grateful for all your sweet comments. As knitters who appreciate independent designers working from their homes, we need to support and encourage their efforts by buying their books and patterns (and in Kristin's case cards, bags and mugs), preferably direct from them personally.

The winner of "Kristin Knits" and a selection of Julia yarn selected by this morning is number 9-Jody, who wrote "Luv your cute little stove...just what I need for my cold and drafty craft room!" Jody, I can't send you my little stove, but I'll send along Kristin's book and some beautiful, soft, warm yarn if that will help! Please email me at within 24 hours with your address and I'll get it mailed right away.

(The gratuitous picture above is the outside of my new studio building. I know I've been promising to do a post with pictures and I'm going to do that really soon. I'll confess that at the moment the inside looks as though I've had a break-in and the place got ransacked! That's the problem with actually working in it...........I can't keep it tidy!)

Thanks to all who stopped by to leave a comment. I'll be doing at least one more giveaway before Christmas, so check back soon.

Monday, December 6, 2010

New day, new week, new giveaway

Pippi loves the snow!!

It's been way too busy around here.....already. I want things to slow down so I can savor the season instead of rushing, rushing through it, trying desperately to get everything done.

As I write this, it's snowing outside, the animals have had their morning rations and I hope to spend most of today cozy in the studio. We got the little Vermont Castings stove installed not long ago and it's just as I hoped it would be. It warms the studio quickly, gives me just a little glimpse of the flames behind the glass panel and, now that Mike has cut some firewood small enough to fit, I can build a fire in no time at all. Plus, it's just cute!

So, on to the new giveaway. Kristin Nicholas is someone I would love to know personally and attending one of her on-farm workshops would be a dream come true! She is inspiring in so many ways. I love her use of color and seeing her designs makes me want to be more brave in the color choices I make in my knitting. So, for this giveaway I'm offering a copy of Kristin's book, "Kristin Knits", and eight skeins of Julia yarn. The reason I have two copies is because I pre-ordered the book, but when I discovered Kristin was selling autographed copies herself, I decided I wanted to support someone I admire by buying from her directly. The yarn is a scrumptious blend of alpaca, mohair and wool and has 93 yards in each ball. The colors are fabulous and the book will give you plenty of ideas for using it.

Leave a comment between now and Wednesday midnight eastern standard time and I'll random number generate on Thursday morning. Good luck!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Not quite the peaceable kingdom......

Finally, after a lot of head butting, shoulder shoving and general bully-boy acting, we have achieved a truce. When I took the rams away from the ewes in their breeding groups, I dreaded putting them back together. Most of the year, they get along well enough. I would say they even become pals. But, as soon as the ewes start cycling, the boys get restless and then every day it's "I'm more rammy than you are"....pretty much nonstop until I separate them and put them in with their ewes. Henry is a new addition to our flock this year and Ollie is not impressed or pleased (but, I think the girls were!). As usual, I penned them together in a very, very small space in hopes that they would not hurt each other in the time it took for testosterone levels to come down. I penned them together so they could barely turn around and still they were pushing and shoving after a week. I gave them a little more space and after another few days, turned them outside together. I think Henry got the worst of it, but they finally have settled down. Henry is an old guy and he made a valiant effort at being the dominant one, but Ollie is not quite two and that gave him the physical advantage.

(Yes, I know...the coat is done for....I took it off and found it's beyond repair. That's his third and LAST coat for this year!)

(Seriously, what's not to love about that face?)

Then, there is poor Buddy (he's a wether), who got thrown into the pen to serve as a peace-maker. He's bigger than either of the rams and could intimidate them, if he only knew it. He's such a big baby and sweet boy. He'd rather be baby-sitting those silly ewe lambs than dealing with the rough old boys. (And, by the way, don't let anyone tell you that bottle raised ram lambs won't ever amount to anything. Sometimes they do, because Buddy was a nice guy, even before we took away his ramhood!)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A winner and some Little Things to Knit

Alrighty then! I love it that so many of you came by to enter this giveaway! Thanks to every one of you so much. This morning I used the random number generator at and the number it selected was 35....katjobson, who said, "Red is my favorite color and perfect for Christmas. I would love to win :))))))". So, katjobson, please email me within the next 24 hours at with your name and address and I'll get this box of goodies on the way to you.

I'll be having at least three more giveaways between now and Christmas, so I hope all of you will stop by to see what goodies I'll be offering. (Hint: more fabulous yarn and books!)

And now, back to our regularly scheduled program.

So, looking for some great little projects that you can whip up quickly? Here are a few I'm working on and loving every stitch (which, to be totally honest, I cannot always say about my knitting!)

The Melissa Scarf-I found this by visiting one blog and then followed a link on to another and so on and so know how that goes. In the end, I have no idea how I got there! I'm not sure why, but this scarf is just plain fun to knit. (read...borders on addictive!) Something about those bobbles at the end of every row (this from someone not that fond of bobbles). Try it. I'll bet you your favorite set of knitting needles that you'll like it.

These mitts-A great gift and a reasonable amount of knitting time involved. If you make them with some of that chunky stuff you've got lying around, you'll be done in no time. I'm all about chunky stuff right now! And, here's another pair of mitts that are even more stylish and fun to knit.

This cowl is fabulous! This is a last minute gift from heaven. And there's a matching beret! Perfect. Thanks for calling my attention to this one, Mary!

Need a gift for someone who doesn't want to muss up their hair putting on something to warm their neck? Then this neckwarmer is just the one. Once again, practically instant gratification!

I love to give handmade gifts (even more than I love staying out of the mall!) and though these are all quick and easy, they are all gifts that I would love to receive.....which is my criteria for whether a gift is nice enough to give to a friend or family member.

Got any great, fast and easy Little Things to Knit that you'd like to share?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Black Friday Giveaway!

So, did everyone have an awesome Thanksgiving? After days and days (and days) of cooking, it's all over in what seems like a flash. We were missing a few grandchildren this year and we missed them, but everyone else was here and it was great. Every year brings the noise level down because the little boys are growing up and are not so rowdy anymore!

It was weirdly warm (70 degrees---and that's just not right) and rainy and the prediction for a drastic drop in the temperature and a chance of some snow flakes actually came true. We woke up this morning to a dusting of snow! What a thrill for those folks lining up outside the big box stores at 4 am. Ha!

So, here's my plan. I'm thinking of doing several giveaways leading up to Christmas. I've got some nice "stuff" to send out to someone. All you need to do is leave a comment here sometime before 8 am on Tuesday morning, November 30. Then I'll either figure out how to do the random number generator thing or have a someone else pick a number and the lucky number will get all of the things pictured. For this go-round I've got 13+ balls of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino chunky in a beautiful red (color #17016 - 71 yards in each ball). Add to that one skein of Cherry Tree Hill Laceweight Possum (40% merino,40%possum,20% silk - 480 yards). Also, one skein of Mountain Colors 4/8 wool - color Firestorm - 250 yards. Lastly, a new copy of "Knitting New Mittens and Gloves" by Robin Melanson. It's a great book with lots of Christmas knitting ideas. Somehow, I have two copies. (I'm sure it has nothing to do with my lack of memory when it comes to my personal knitting library!) So, there you have it. Spread the word and keep your fingers crossed!

(the Debbie Bliss yarn color is closer to that in the first picture)

I don't know about you all, but my plan is to get back to my knitting today. It's cold enough to have a fire and there are plenty of leftovers, so no cooking required for the next few days. Perfect!

COMMENTS CLOSED. Thanks so much for entering. Check back a little later today and I will announce the winner!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

In the outfield

It is seriously hard to believe that Thanksgiving is just days away when the temperature is 71 degrees, which it was yesterday. We had a big storm blow through early this morning and it is bringing a big change our way. Right now the forecast is for a chance of snow flakes early Friday morning. I pity those poor folks who are planning on getting up early to get some Black Friday bargains, which is one thing I can honestly say I will never do! I don't even like going into the mall or any of those big box stores on regular days!

Yesterday I took these pictures of the ewe flock grazing in what we call the outfield. It's the one farthest from the barn. Holly doesn't really like for the ewes to go there. It's bordered by the woods and coyotes often come into the pastures from there. I opened the gate to that area recently because there is so much good grazing there and practically nothing to eat in the other fields. During the day, Holly allows the ewes to go there for a short time and then she will move them back into their regular field. It's an interesting exercise to watch and it reassures me that Holly is doing her job.

I love watching what happens between these two. This old girl spends a lot of her day resting and Holly is usually close by, keeping watch. I like to think that the ewe is comforted by Holly's watchful presence.

(Edited to add: I'm planning a little giveaway for "Black Friday". Don't you think it would be the ultimate bargain to get something for free? Just check back here and I'll put up a post with pictures of the goods!)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tiny distractions

Though knitting family Christmas gifts should be my focus right now, I am being distracted by these little bitty, fun things. I made a few of these Christmas ornaments or package decorations (whatever you want to call them) last year and sold many at wool festivals. I'll be participating in the Christmas Jingle and Mingle Gift Party on December 5th and thought these seemed like a perfect small item to offer. I've come up with my own easy to remember pattern and the best part is going through my stash of odds and ends to find yarn for each one. (It reminds me of being a little girl, going through scraps of fabric at my grandmother's house and finding just the right ones to make a new outfit for my Ginny doll.)

In continuing with my "one of these things is not like the others" theme, you may notice a tiny Einstein jacket amongst all those pullovers. The pattern for it came from the brilliant Sally Melville's (with her daughter, Caddy) new book, "Warm Knits, Cool Gifts". There are some lovely gift ideas in the book. I especially love the Ear Flap Baby Hat.

Anyone making progress on those Christmas gift knits?

Friday, November 12, 2010

One of these things.............

is most definitely not like the others! Remember that Sesame Street song? Having raised three boys in the early Sesame Street days, it is embedded in my brain. Every time I look at my newest Buff Orpington chicks, that song starts playing in my head! I can't take any credit for this mix up (unlike the Frenchie thing). I talked to the man on the phone, he set aside five Buff Orpington chicks and I picked them and brought them home. Honestly, for the first week or so, they did all look alike. Then slowly, but surely, this weird one started showing itself. I have no idea what it is (and I'm just praying it's not a rooster, but, you know, what are the odds?). Anyone else know?

In any case, they went into the pen with the big girls this morning. I think they are old enough to take up for themselves, but will keep a close eye on things to make sure they don't get picked on. Some good news about Frenchie...........she seems to be getting over her fear of the other chickens. I'm hoping she can go back into the flock and into the chicken house real soon. Then it'll be just one big happy chicken family! Right?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Creatures of habit

It was cold yesterday morning.......I'm talking ice in the water buckets cold. I love it!! I know I'll be complaining about the cold before it's over, but right now it is such a relief to be rid of the blasted heat we suffered through during what seemed like a never-ending summer.

About mid-morning, I looked out at the ewe's pasture and there they were, crowded together in the shade of that lone pin oak. Mind you, the temperature was still in the 30's, but the sun was shining and that must be the clue to head for a shady spot. I think it's going to take all of us a while to get over this past summer.

Because our pastures dried up during the drought, there is not much to nibble on out there. I'm feeding everyone once a day now and that means that they watch me constantly. The minute I step out the door, regardless of time of day, they're all hoping it means dinner time. I believe they actually know when it's not, but are hoping they can fool me into thinking differently. When normal feeding time arrives, they gather at the gate and stare hard! What does it mean when my sheep try to outsmart me every single day?

Holly, on the other hand, waits patiently. This is how she tells me she wants to eat now. Wish she'd teach the sheep to act like this.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

R and R

We had a chance to get away for a few days to our favorite fall location. We've been going to Snowbird Mountain Lodge in North Carolina many years now and it is always wonderful. It's a special, very relaxed atmosphere where the food is fabulous and the scenery breathtakingly beautiful. It's the one place I go where I can do absolutely nothing (guilt-free) for several days in a row! Mike got out and hiked everyday, but I only went on one hike and spent the rest of my days knitting and reading by the fire.

Just before we left, I finished my garter yoke cardigan and I really like it! It was an easy knit and relatively fast, but, as is often my habit, I got distracted somewhere along the way and it took longer than it should have to finish up the last little bit of the sleeves and then to sew on all those many buttons. I think this sweater is going to be a workhorse in my limited wardrobe. It's comfortable enough to slip on anytime and looks nice enough to wear with just about everything casual. Though I tried it on many times while in the process of knitting, it was not until I wore it for a full day that I discovered the sleeves were several inches too long. Now that I'm home again, I'll snip a stitch on the sleeves, pull out the bottom several inches and knit the cuff back on. I would love to make one out of handspun in a natural color and may plan on doing that....after the Christmas knitting is over. The one thing I might change would be to eliminate some buttons. Maybe just have buttons on the yoke part. I'll never wear this sweater all buttoned up, so why go through finding and sewing on ten buttons? We'll see.

Speaking of Christmas knitting......the time has come to get on with it! Are you knitting gifts this year? Have you started yet?