Saturday, December 22, 2012

Christmas is a comin'

Yes,  ready or not,  it's almost here.  Am I ready?  Uh, not really.  That's not my fireplace (though it has finally gotten cold enough for us to have a fire each evening),  but what I'd love more than anything would be to sit down in front of it,  with a cup of my favorite hot tea,  my stack of mostly British magazines and have my knitting close by.  I don't know why I'm always surprised at how rushed everything becomes the last few days before the 25th.  The Christmas knitting is finished,  the baking and making is done.  I still have a few things to wrap and then we'll have a full week of comings and goings.  I'm ready to slow my brain down and stop waking up at 3:00 am,  wondering if I've forgotten someone.

Oddly,  Christmas day will be the only quiet day here at the home place.  If the weather is nice,  we're likely to take a hike down the creek to the waterfall where it drops into the river.  Maybe I'll make a big pot of clam chowder and some homemade bread.  Maybe we'll watch "The Christmas Story" and "A Child's Christmas in Wales".  (Mike thinks it's probably against the law to watch a movie during the daytime,  so there is some risk taking in that!)

I'm especially thankful this Christmas for my friends and family.  I'm grateful that all are healthy and close enough that we can see them more than once or twice a year.  I'm grateful for all of you who take the time to check in here and read about the farm and our life here.  Thank you and I wish all of you a blessed and happy Christmas.

(This "Red-headed Knitter" ornament is one I ordered from Anthropologie years ago.  She resides on the little tree in my studio, with all the little woolie ornaments I've collected over the years.  She kinda looks the way I feel sometimes - except my hair is much shorter!)


Friday, December 14, 2012

Ford's Mill Sunset

Coming home to the farm one evening last week,  I turned onto the next to the last country road before ours and saw this .... a gorgeous fat sun slipping out of sight.  I pulled over to the side of the road and snapped a hurried picture just as it disappeared.

Turning onto that road seems to send a signal to my body .... ahhh,  you're almost home.  The traffic and busy-ness of town fades away.  I can almost feel my heart rate slow.  Though I didn't grow up in the country,  I've lived there most of my adult life and I can't imagine living anywhere else.  I know there will come a time when it's just too difficult physcially to stay on the farm and maybe I will be mentally prepared for leaving by then.  I don't know.  A few years ago,  when I stepped on a garden tool that went through my boot and into my foot,  Mike told me that he had an epiphany.  He said it suddenly came to him that leaving the farm might not be a decision we come to slowly and in our own good time.  There may come a moment when something drastic happens and the decision is taken out of our hands.  We have acknowledged that neither of us could manage it alone.  There's just too much work,  too much involved in keeping things even marginally presentable around here.    I do think we've reached the stage where we are no longer adding things to the mix.  There have been no new species of animals lately and no new building projects undertaken,  though both of those are continuing temptations. 

I've been thinking a lot about these things lately because I've had an on-going physical problem with one of my shoulders.   I've had trouble sleeping and being able to comfortably do the chores I need to do.  It's been a not so pleasant reminder of aging and the limitations of my own body.   I'm setting some fitness goals for myself for the new year and am thinking about how to be more creative and productive, yet more relaxed in my daily life.  What do you think?  Is that even possible? 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A pair and a spare

Not long ago,  Susan Anderson released her Waiting for Winter Mitten pattern,  and though I have knit many a mitten and have many patterns for said mittens,  I wanted to try it.  I have a bit of a pattern addiction and love trying out new ones.  I was hoping this one would be super simple and easily memorized ... you know,  the kind where the numbers are easy enough to remember that you can pick up needles and yarn and jump right in without having to hunt for the pattern and try to remember the changes you might have had to make (especially if,  like me,  you often forget to make clear notes of pattern alterations).

Susan's got a mitten knit-along going on right now on her Itty Bitty Knits group and lot's of people are already posting their versions of the pattern on Ravelry.  These are my first attempt and I've already cast on for the next pair.  They are fast,  fun,  easy and just slightly addicting to knit.  The whole time I'm knitting,  I'm thinking of ways to knit the next pair.  For my 'pair and a spare',  I used one skein of Noro Kureyon and one skein of Silk Garden,  alternating every two rows.  After beginning the second mitten,  I could see that the colors were going to be very different (ah,  the beauty of Noro's variegation that makes it so interesting to knit with!).   I ended up knitting a third mitten in order to get a little more coordination.   I don't have quite enough yarn left for a fourth mitten,  so this little group has become  a set of fraternal triplets and I kinda like the idea of having a back-up mitten to replace the one that invariably gets lost.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

You need a knitted wreath

I'm making a quick post here to point the way to a fast and fun knitting project that just might put you in the mood for Christmas.  It will also confirm to all your non-knitting friends that you really will knit anything!   This is the Hampstead Wreath.  You can read all about it here on Mason-Dixon Knitting and find out why you can justify taking a few hours away from Christmas knitting that you should have already finished.

I opted for cheap and durable yarn,  in case I decided to hang it outside.  Michael's satisfied my desire for something somewhat natural looking,  even if it is a wool and (gasp!) acrylic blend.  (It's Wool-Ease Thick and Quick and is only 10% wool.)  I know my knitting friends are choking on their coffee after reading that I've stooped to anything lower than 100% wool,  but sometimes you have to compromise your principles just a little.  (I'm a terrible yarn snob and this confession is painful to make.)  Anyway,  except for the vaguely unpleasant squeakiness of the yarn,  it knit up just fine and has the sort of rustic look I was going for.  (The color is off in the picture.  The wreath is the same natural color all over and the pom-poms are redder.)  After looking at all the versions on Ravelry,  I believe I need to add some more pom-poms* - or some bigger ones maybe.  Still thinking on that.

*Those pom-poms!  I bought one of those little Clover pom-pom makers while I was in Michael's and boy-oh-boy are they fun to use.  I want to make pom-poms all the time now!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Barbara Kingsolver - Kentuckian

A few nights ago,  my friend Lindy and I went to our local Joseph-Beth Booksellers to hear Barbara Kingsolver speak about her latest book,  Flight Behavior.  I've only read the first two chapters (there wasn't much reading time over the Thanksgiving holiday),  but I can already recommend it.  The characters are so well developed and they seem like people I might possibly know (or at least know of).

She was everything I could have hoped for in someone who is famous and from Kentucky. (Sometimes I get a bit of a complex when I see how Kentucky is most often represented on screen and in print.)  She grew up not far from here and, though she now lives in southwestern Virginia,  seems proud to claim her Kentucky roots.  After reading several selections from the book and taking questions from the audience,  she settled down behind a table and began autographing books for the huge crowd of people who had shown up to see her.  I already owned the book (and all of her other books) but I bought another copy,  as it was the required admission to see her.  As I waited in line to have my book signed,  I was struck by how gracious she was with everyone.  She didn't seem to be in a hurry and took the time to speak with everyone.  When it was my turn,  I asked the question I had wanted to ask during the question and answer part of the evening,  but had deemed a little too off-topic for nearly everyone else in the audience.  I asked her about her sheep.  I'd read somewhere (finally remembered it was in an interview in the latest issue of Vogue Knitting) that she had sheep on her farm in Virginia now and I was curious to know if she was really a "fiber" person.  Barbara Kingsolver raises Icelandic sheep.  She told me that she's not really into hand-spinning,  but loves to knit and is very interested in yarn design.  It was a lovely (short) conversation and I would liked to have been in a situation where I could pull up a chair and have a nice long chat about sheep and fiber and yarn.  Alas,  though she seemed in no hurry at all,  I began to feel guilty about all the people in line behind me,  so after giving her the name of Echoview Fiber Mill (they processed my fiber into yarn this year),  I walked away so happy to have had the opportunity to chat with her.

Don't you just love when someone you've admired from a distance turns out to be even nicer than you could imagine? 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


This is a pretty good picture of what has been going on around here - in the barn,  in the fields and in the house, too.  (I have no explanation for why some of these girls are inclined to climb up on the hay feeders like that.  It's as though having it at face-level is just not enough.  They have to bury their face in it!)  Eating,  eating and more eating.  I'm thinking a fast or some kind of detox might be just the ticket until Christmas.  Of course,  who am I kidding?  That will never happen.

(We are nothing, if not enthusiastic about mealtime around here!)
I'm feeling guilty for not having written a beautiful, poetic post expressing how thankful I am.  It's not that I'm ungrateful.  Believe me,  I know how blessed I am to live the life I live.  It's a life I could only dream about as a child and one that certainly seemed an impossible dream.  My problem seems to be that I can't settle down to write that kind of post when I'm so busy actually living my dream life.  Do you know what I mean?  That's where I've been for the past week and a half.  There were so many well written expressions of thankfulness all over the blog-world and here - nothing!  A wonderful young woman I met at Squam last June (hi there, Laura-Lynn) has been writing daily posts of gratitude on Facebook and it has inspired me to make an effort each day to be thankful for some specific thing in my life.  How do you remind yourself to be grateful in the rush of living?

(Aslan giving me the stare-down while waiting for his food)

Friday, November 16, 2012

That time of year ...

I know what you're thinking,  but no I'm not referring to that time of year.  (You know - the holidays and all.)  I'm referring to the time of year for the annual pilgrimage to NAILE.  Tuesday dawned frosty and foggy here at home by the river,  but once the sun was up it was crisp and clear.  It was a perfect day to hit the road early in order to arrive in Louisville in time to see the wool show being judged at the North American International Livestock Exposition.

There was a time in my life (though it's getting harder and harder to remember) when I bred purebred sheep and showed them at various shows around the country.  I do remember that it took a tremendous amount of energy and not a little amount of money!  I'm not interested in investing either of those things these days.  I love keeping my sheep here on the farm,  out grazing in the fields where they naturally belong.   The North American is a prestigious show,  really considered the biggest of the big,  so it's a great opportunity to see lots of different breeds in a short amount of time.   (Of course,  there's always the risk that looking will lead to bringing home a new addition ... which I did not.)  I'm really happy with my own sheep these days.  It's taken me years to get the combination of fleece type and temperament I have now and I'm more than willing to put my efforts into maintaining that.  But still,  I always enjoy looking at sheep and I'm certainly not above scoping out some new livestock equipment.  Anyway, here's a quick view of some of the sights of the day. 

(I spied this beautiful Cotswold fleece as soon as we walked in)
(So much gorgeous wool)
(The main event)                                Th
(Lunch time for some)
(Naptime for others)
(and some were just chillin')

Monday, November 12, 2012

Transition time

When I went up to the studio yesterday afternoon I found Carson listening to what this little lamb had to say.  Carson is just the best cat ever.  If you are thinking of a new pet, please consider adopting from the Friends of the Animals of Jessamine County.  They do such wonderful work and I personally know of many success stories concerning animals they've pulled out of shelters and placed in happy homes.  I have no idea what Carson's circumstances were before he came to live with us.  He was about 8 months old and pretty timid around other animals and people.  The only thing that seems to intimidate him now is our witchy female barn cat, Sadie.  She's maybe half his size and is only occasionally pleasant to him, but he's so laid back he usually gives her a look that says,  "What is your problem?"
The last few weeks have felt very much like a time of transition.  Summer is a (somewhat unpleasant) memory and winter is on the horizon (and I'll go on record as saying I really,  really hope we have a winter this year.)  Until today we've had a long stretch of nearly perfect fall weather.  I spent yesterday cleaning up the garden,  taking down the tomato cages and putting away hoses.  The last big rain and wind storm brought down most of the leaves and I need to get busy raking up the yard and putting all those leaves on the garden beds.  The animals have all been busy, busy during daylight hours,  searching,  scratching,  always on the lookout for an extra morsel of food.  They all get fed grain,  but you'd never know it the way they scurry around.  The Dandy family can often be seen together,  teaching the baby how to go about finding food.  He/she is the only surviving chick and gets plenty of supervision.   People ask me all the time about how noisy the peafowl are and at this time of year about the only thing I hear is the peep-peep-peep of the little one.  When Mr. Dandy has his full compliment of tail feathers he makes quite a lot of racket,  alerting us to any and all movement.  We're so accustomed to it now that we rarely even notice.  Once he sheds those feathers in the fall,  it's as though he becomes mute.  He rarely makes a sound.  I think he doesn't want to call attention to himself when his gorgeous feathers are gone.

I'm happy that the holidays are nearly here.  I've begun my Thanksgiving grocery shopping list and made plans for decorating the tables.  It's my favorite time of the year,  though I never do feel as though I'm quite prepared.  I love the decorating and cooking and having family all here at the farm.  Even with everything else that's going on,  I've managed to squeeze in a tiny bit of knitting and hope to get some decent photos to post soon.  As for Christmas knitting ..... I don't have much to say about that  :-(   How about all of you?  Finished already?

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I believe it's going to be Mr. Bates

This is Olive's boy.  He's still waiting for his "Downton Abbey" name.  I'm thinking it might be Mr. Bates.  He has a kind face, don't you think?  He's been acting as the ram of the year for a few select ewes.  That red stain on his chest is from the marking harness he was wearing to help me determine when the 2013 lambs will be due.  The harness holds a wax crayon that marks the rump of the ewe as he mounts her.  I mark the date on the calendar and count forward 145 days.  That becomes the date to watch for new lambs.  It appears he's done his job,  so I pulled him out over the weekend and he's awaiting his appointment for "tutoring".  He's a lovely boy with a sweet temperament and a gorgeous fleece and I don't want to keep him around here as the solitary ram.  Sheep are flocking animals and they don't like to being alone.  We'll castrate him soon and after a brief period of recuperation and time for the testosterone to get out of his system,  he can go in with the little girls.  He's still a growing boy and needs to be getting some grain every day,  as they are.
(That face!)
(I have high hopes that Mr. Bates will pass this fleece along to his babies.)
Speaking of little girls,  I've finally remembered that I hinted at a near disasterous event that happened here at the farm while we were gone to Vermont in September.  It was Marilla .... my funny little bottle baby.  We'd only been away for a few days when I got a text from the farm sitter,  saying one of the ewe lambs was not eating normally.  The next text was that she was having convulsions.  By that point,  I had decided I was not supposed to ever leave the farm again because it seemed to invite tragedy.  Long story short,  we called Mike Griffitt (the closest veterinarian who still does farm calls)  and he came out to look at her.  (Because my husband Mike is a veterinarian,  we don't really have another vet who sees our animals and we were so grateful that he was willing to come out.)  She was unable to stand or walk and he couldn't figure out what the problem was but decided to try treating her with vitamins/minerals and a strong antibiotic.  I stayed up most of the night researching and while we never found anything conclusive,  we decided to put her on a modified treatment for meningeal worm.  It is fairly uncommon in sheep in our area,  but we have plenty of deer visiting our pastures and it can be a problem with the alpacas.  Honestly,  we felt we were probably not going to be able to save her and the treatment regime was a last resort.  Amazingly,  she showed a little improvement every day after that.  Thanks to diligence on the part of Sue,  our farm sitter,  Marilla was able to stand and even walk around a little by the time we returned home.  We still don't know what her mystery illness was.  It took her several weeks to return to "normal" (or as normal as she can be),  but now you'd never know she'd been close to death.  She's my miracle baby and more spoiled than ever.
(That's little Marilla all the way to the left)

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Vogue Knitting Live 2012

(This is not downtown Nonesuch)
It was lovely.  The Palmer House Hilton is so elegant,  it's not like staying at any of the modern chain hotels. Teresa and I were lucky to receive an upgrade to our room (which was huge) and had the luxury of two bathrooms!  Simply amazing.  The hotel itself is so big that at times I felt as though a GPS would help.  The classrooms were down hallways with names and rooms with numbers and finding your way once in the morning was not necessarily a guarantee that you would find it again after lunch.  The lobby was full of knitters at all hours of the day and night and the marketplace was a busy,  busy place anytime I made my way there.

The best part,  by far,  was getting to participate in classes I have been wanting to take forever.  If you ever have the opportunity to take a class with Mary Jane Mucklestone sign up quickly and be prepared to learn a lot and have fun,  fun,  fun while you learn.  I've been interested in Fair Isle for a long time,  not necessarily to wear it,  but I admire the patterns and the rich history.  Mary Jane makes it all come alive.  It may take me a while to finish my little wrist warmers,  but I'm loving the process.

(Mary Jane's hat)

 Beth Brown-Reinsel taught the Gansey class and though I went in unprepared,  I learned so many of the techniques used in knitting traditional ganseys and,  again,  so much of the fascinating history.  I was unprepared because I left all my supplies for the class at home on the table in the studio.  I was quite diligent (for me) in getting prepared for my classes.  I did my homework and had prepared a two-gallon ziplock bag for each class I was taking.  I even made little checklists for each class and put everything needed in the bags.  Then,  I left that one bag out of the suitcase!  What can I say?
 Susan Anderson's Top-down Baby Sweater class was terrific.  Besides getting a chance to visit with
Susan,  I got a good start on the cutest little baby sweater.  She had a whole table full of her precious knitted toys and several variations of the baby sweater pattern.  Susan is so sweet and does such a good job of making everyone in the class feel comfortable and happy to be there.  She made the class fun and informative.

Of course,  besides the classes,  there was the Marketplace and it did not disappoint. I bought more than I intended,  but didn't go completely crazy.  I saw so many variations of the "Color Affection" shawlette walking around the hotel,  that I determined I needed to knit one too.  So,  I bought yarn for that.  I bought a few patterns,  some do-dads and a cute and simple cowl kit (It's the Fast and Fun Diagonal Cowl by Leslye Solomon, which I could not find anywhere on ravelry or elsewhere.  She owns Woolstock Yarn Shop in Glyndon, Maryland and I'll bet you could email them and get a copy.)  It's a quick, mindless sort of knit that's perfect for this time of year.  And .... I finally broke down and bought my first pair of Signature needles.  They are pricey,  but everyone I know who has them thinks they are the best.  They're still in the package ... I'm almost afraid to knit with them.  What if I love them?  I'm in big trouble then!

Sunday night we made the pilgrimage to Scoozi's and I had my longed-for plate of Butternut squash ravioli.  I broke with tradition and instead of the Caesar salad,  I had a delicious baby kale salad with roasted pears,  cranberries,  candied walnuts,  Gorgonzola cheese and lemon vinaigrette. Yum!

All in all,  it was a successful trip.  This week,  it's been playing catch-up.  My little sheepy girls missed me and seemed happy to have the regularly scheduled shepherd back with the feed buckets.  (Mike said that for the first few days,  whenever he went into the barn to feed them,  they acted as though he was there to kill them!)  Such spoiled babies.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Golden days

I spent so many months of the summer complaining about the weather,  I feel doubly blessed right now to be enjoying a gorgeous autumn here in central Kentucky.  We've had a long stretch of nearly perfect weather.  Cool nights and pleasant,  sunny days have graced us and the trees have turned golden in the sunlight.  It would suit me just fine to continue like this right up until Thanksgiving.  (I like it cold enough to have fires in both fireplaces for the holidays.)
This weekend will bring cold and rainy weather,  which I happen to also like (I know ...  I'm weird).  I won't be here to enjoy it because I'll be in a place that's even colder.  Thursday,  Teresa and I are off to Chicago for Vogue Knitting Live.  This is my first time to attend a Vogue event and I'm anxious to experience it.  Years ago,  Teresa and I made an annual Christmas shopping trip to Chicago,  but we've both simplified our Christmas routines to the point where a big shopping trip is not really our thing anymore.  We hope to have dinner at Scoozi's one night.  I crave their butternut squash ravioli,  caesar salad and the bread is the best!  And, we'll be sure to get out for some Garrett's popcorn.   In fact,  we've been known to have Garrett's popcorn for dinner on more than one occasion.

I've signed up for some amazing classes with instructors I've been wanting to take classes with for years.  On Friday,  I have an all day class with Mary Jane Mucklestone (200 Fair Isle Motifs),  Saturday is all day with Beth Brown-Reinsel (Knitting Ganseys) and Sunday afternoon I'll get in a short visit with my friend,  Susan Anderson,  while I'm in her Top Down Baby Sweater class.  I think it's going to be a lot of mental stimulation for me.  Just hope I'm up to it!
(This farm lane is up the road from us - love those reds!)
I took this sweet picture of Holly keeping Olive's daughter company one day last week.  I love it when I see these scenes.  I like to imagine there is a conversation of some sort going on between them.

My plan is to take my laptop along to Chicago and hopefully I'll get to send you all a report of the goings-on.  Otherwise,  I'll see you next week.  Happy Autumn!

Friday, October 19, 2012

A thank you ...

Beautiful autumn weather has graced us the last few days.  Earlier in the week,  every time I looked up,  I wanted to grab my camera and try to capture the beginnings of color in the trees,  the crispness of the air,  the peace and quiet.  I do so love this time of year.

Thanks so much to all of you who made the trek out to see us on Saturday.  It was so great to put faces to some of the names I've seen commenting on this blog and to even meet a few neighbors that I didn't know.  I really do appreciate all of you and the kindness you've shown.  For those of you who have asked,  I'm starting to work on photographing some of the 2012 Sheep Dreams yarn and hope to have it in my Etsy shop soon.  Thanks to my dysfunctional Windstream internet service*,  it may require a marathon visit to my Kroger's Starbucks,  but I'll get it done!  (*Witness the picture below - I've tried about 20 times to upload it and this was the best I could do.)

I'm so sorry to not be going to Rhinebeck this weekend.  I waited until yesterday to cancel my hotel reservation because I kept holding out hope that somehow it would work out.   Rhinebeck is my very favorite festival of the year,  held in one of my favorite areas of the country.  Oh well,  one can always hope for next year.

This has been a week of introspection for me.  My last remaining uncle died on Monday.  He lived and full and happy life and would have been 92 in just a few weeks.  He was the last of my father's four brothers and one sister and,  ironically,  the oldest of them.  My father died at 54 from lung cancer,  so he has been gone a long,  long time.  Thinking about all this has made me realize that it is really the end of an era for my family.  In the last couple of years,  I've seen cousins that I'd lost touch with on several occasions .... all funerals.  As children,  we spent a lot of time together and it's sad to think about how busy we get and how we let those connections slip away. 

We're having a dark, rainy and cold day here in central Kentucky and that suits me just fine.  I've built the first fire of the season in my little Vermont Castings woodstove and have settled into the studio for a little bit of knitting therapy. 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Lucky me!

I got some wonderful news yesterday morning.  I won a fabulous giveaway on Susan Anderson's blog!  I was so excited because I never, ever, ever win anything.  So, I've decided my good fortune is going to be someone else's good fortune, too.  I already own all of Susan's books because I have ordered all of them before they ever are published.  Susan's books are beautiful to look at and always have the cutest patterns.  They are classics and ones I go to over and over again.  Anyway ....... the good news for everyone else is that I'm going to share.  As soon as I can get myself together (after my open studio/farm weekend),  I'm going to plan a giveaway.  So, stay tuned and we'll see how much joy I can spread around.

The time to celebrate is almost here!  This Saturday (that's tomorrow!),  from 11 am to 4 pm,  we are having a Yarn Harvest Celebration for our 2012 Sheep Dreams Home Grown - Fresh from the Farm Yarn and Roving.  It looks as though some perfect Kentucky weather is going to be smiling on Tanglewood Farm because it's predicted to be 74 degrees and sunny.  If you'd like to come out and meet our production team (the sheep girls and alpaca boys),  we'll be here to greet you with fresh apple cider from our local Boyd's Orchard and homemade cookies (from me).  If google maps doesn't make it clear enough,  please feel free to email me  or call 859-229-3195 and I'll try to give you clearer instructions.  (Please note that the operative word here is try!)  And, when you get here,  don't be afraid of the farm road.  When you turn off the main road (at the Tanglewood Farm sign) you'll go down a hill,  across a creek and up a hill on the other side.  I would say all but the lowest slung sports car will have no problems with any of it.

*If you're a spinner, feel free to bring your wheel and we'll set up some chairs out under the trees, where you can spin in the fresh air.  If you have a knitting project, bring it along and we can have our own "knit in public day"!

Friday, October 5, 2012

A day in the life of me ...

(These girls are working on the 2013 Yarn Harvest)  

These are the girls who were born in the spring and are what I refer to as my silly teenagers now.  They've been acting like teenagers this week - making mischief,  getting into and out of places they are not meant to be.  On Wednesday,  I went into town for a knitting get-together with friends and after only being there for about 30 minutes, I received a call from my husband,  telling me that our UPS man,  Darrell,  had left a message on our home phone that the sheep were in the yard!  (Yes,  we are on a first name basis with our UPS man.  He's a very important part of our life in the country. Because of my husband's veterinary business,  we get UPS deliveries nearly every day.  I talk to Darrell almost as much as I talk to my husband!)  Darrell knows when something is happening on the farm.  So,  back to the farm I rushed - which means 35 minutes or so.  By the time I got here,  the girls had gotten bored with wandering the yard and had gone back into the barn where they were loitering in the barn aisle and rearranging anything they could manage to move.  I didn't really worry that they would go down the farm lane and out onto the county road because they would have to cross the creek and sheep don't like walking through water.  I was a little worried that they would prune the bushes around the house and studio and maybe do a little "work" in the garden.  It didn't take a minute to get them back where they belonged,  but then I noticed a faint peeping noise,  coming from the somewhere in the hayloft.
(Holly said, "I told them not to do it!)

We finally got our hay delivered a few weeks ago and because I wasn't here to supervise,  it got stacked in a way that left me no room to reach the remainder of last years hay.  Of course,  that's where Mrs. Dandy had chosen to make her nest and was in fact sitting on it when the new hay was stacked around her.  I found a tall ladder and climbed up to see what I could find.  Mrs. Dandy was sitting beside her nest,  which had several broken shells in it.  There were no babies in sight,  but I could hear them peeping and the sound was coming from somewhere down in the hay bales.   Mrs. Dandy was not happy with me when I started unstacking the bales all around her.  It took three levels of bales before I reached the first two babies and two more levels before I found the other three that were still alive.  I climbed down,  got a bucket and put all the babies in the bucket,  brought them down and made a pen for them.  Mrs. Dandy and chicks are now in the dog kennel hotel,  inside the barn and the babies have a heat lamp,  food and water.  Mrs. Dandy is not actually inside the cage with the chicks,  but is staying close and standing guard.  The dilemma is that though Mrs. Dandy is a good mother,  she is after all a peahen.  Think about it ....  not a lot of brainpower available there.  If I turn the chicks loose with her,  they will surely get lost or picked off by other critters.  We don't really need any more peafowl,  but I can't in good conscience just let them die.  So,  just when I thought I had reached that point in the year when all my animals were mature enough to not need so much attention from me,  here I am with a new bunch of babies.

(Those of you coming out to the farm on October 13th for the Yarn Harvest Celebration, might find a little surprise in your car when you get home ..... a really special door prize!  Just sayin'....)
And, here's the ironic part of this whole "day in the life" episode.  In the deliveries that day was a book I recently ordered.  I'm pretty sure raising peachicks will not be covered in this book on how the simplify my life.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Yarn Tour

I've written before about how,  once Mike gets behind the wheel,  you may as well put on your seatbelt because you are in for a trip!  He doesn't drive too fast or anything like that (well,  maybe too far sometimes).  He likes to make a run at seeing everything.  One benefit of that mindset is that I can squeeze in some yarn shop runs along the way.  While we were in New England,  I got to stop at as many shops in our vicinity as I could locate on google.  They ran the gamut from just okay to great.

First,  I'll mention the shop pictured above which I visited back in June,  while on the way to Squam in New Hampshire.  It's in Camden,  Maine,  which is the quintessential New England harbor town.  Everything about Camden is picture-perfect and The Cashmere Goat is located right in the heart of the waterfront.  I was knitting on my Silk Moon Crescent shawlette and foolishly had not brought along enough yarn.  I walked into The Cashmere Goat, scoped out their Noro shelf and came up with the exact same dyelot needed.  Meant to be!  It's a beautiful little shop .... all shining hardwood floors, big windows,  relaxing places to sit and music that's interesting (not intrusive) and helpful (not hovering) people,  if you need them.  I couldn't help but imagine how cozy the shop must be on a blustery winter day.  Camden is worth the drive up the coast and The Cashmere Goat is a bonus.

Unfortunately,  I don't have pictures of the other yarn shops (you can get an idea of what they look like by clicking through the links).  I was too busy looking at what they had to offer.   My favorite yarn store experience during our September trip was KnitWits in Portland, Maine.  I'd read about the shop on several blogs (Soulemama, for one) and am so glad we took the time to look for it.  It's down close to the harbor,  where we saw the most enormous cruise ship that morning.  I wish I had taken a picture of it because it was huge!  I can't imagine getting on one of those things with all those people.  Anyway,  KnitWits is a sweet little shop and Suzie, the owner was so nice to talk to.  She was wearing a Miriam sweater (designed by Carrie Bostick Hoge,  who apparently frequents the shop) and,  when I admired it,  Suzie took it right off and offered to let me try it on.  (which I did and am now in the process of knitting my own)  She recommended a great little pizza place (Otto's Pizza) and the Bakery on the Hill (that had fabulous,  gigantic chocolate chip cookies),  just down the block.  (The pizza place made us feel as though we were in San Francisco, for some reason.)  I highly recommend timing your visit to KnitWits so you can eat lunch there and finish with one of those huge chocolate chip cookies!

Next up was Knit or Dye in Brattleboro, Vermont,  which I spied as we drove by.  There were a group of knitters and spinners out on the porch and inside was a homey little shop,  complete with a baby in a playpen!  I bought some beautiful, locally dyed roving there.  They had a good supply of Vermont handspun and hand-dyed yarn and some well-known commercial brands.

I don't know why, but no matter how many sizes and kinds of needles I pack,  I always end up having to buy needles when I'm traveling and this trip was no different.  I made a quick stop at Love 2 Knit Studio,  in Scarborough,  Maine to get what I needed.

Somewhere along the way,  we managed to check out two different Shaker communities,  Enfield, Vermont and Sabbathday Lake, Maine.  Enfield was where I bought a skein of Scottish Blackface yarn,  just because I'd never seen any before.  It's definitely an outerwear kind of yarn.  I'm not sure what I'll make with it.  Having seen several other Shaker sites now,  I think we have a real treasure here in Kentucky with Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill (only about 20 minutes from our farm).  It's a beautifully, restored Shaker community with a wonderful restaurant and overnight facilities.  If you are ever in this part of the country,  please take the time to visit.  I promise you won't be disappointed.

Moving on ..... I made a quick stop at White River Yarns, in White River Junction, Vermont.  That shop was packed full of so much yarn,  it was almost hard to concentrate!  I hadn't intended to buy anything,  but ended up with a skein of Jacob sheep wool from a local farm.

Last,  but not least,  when we were back in Burlington on the day we flew home,  I discovered the cutest little shop close by the farmer's market.  Nido Fabric and Yarn is just plain beautiful.  It's on the second floor of an old building,  with lovely patina-ed wood floors,  exposed brick walls and high ceilings. The aesthetic was clean and spare,  everything arranged in wonderful vignettes.  It was gorgeous and I hope to return when I have time to look at every single thing.  I bought a single skein of Swan's Island yarn (quite pricey at $30 and that's why I only bought one).

So, there you have it.  I know that I missed some really good shops along the way, either from bad timing or just not knowing, but my plan is to keep working on seeing them all!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Yarn Harvest Time

The harvest moon has been shining these past few nights and it's time to offer up some of my home-grown crop of fiber for those of you who've been asking.  I'm planning a little harvest festival of yarn,  to be held here at the farm on Saturday,  October 13th,  from 11 am to 4 pm.  I plan to have lots of freshly dyed and natural colored wool/alpaca yarn and a selection of natural colored wool/alpaca roving in the studio.  Most likely, I'll have a few small, handknitted items to offer and there will be fresh, local apple cider and home baked cookies to reward you after your journey out to Nonesuch.

Even if you are not a knitter or spinner,  you're invited to come to the farm to meet the sheep and alpaca boys and enjoy what I hope will be a beautiful fall day in the country.  We are approximately 30 to 35 minutes outside of Lexington,  in Woodford county.  It's a pleasant drive and you'll get to see some picturesque Bluegrass countryside while you are on the way.

Tanglewood Farm is located at 4565 Cummins Ferry Road,  Versailles,  Kentucky.  Please feel free to email me,  if you should need further directions.  Depending on where you are coming from,  there are several options.  I'll have a sign up at the crossroads in Nonesuch and there is a Tanglewood sign at the entrance to our farm road,  so you can't miss us.

If you'd like to extend your time in the country,  Shakertown at Pleasant Hill is a short drive from here (20-25 minutes) and lunch at The Glitz,  just a mile away from the farm,  is always a good idea!  

We're looking forward to seeing you soon!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The food tour

You can't go to New England without visiting Ben & Jerry's, right?  We made the trek while we were still at the lake house.  It was Sunday, so the production line was not moving, but it was interesting, nonetheless.  I'll confess that we all thought the tour guide was a little lame,  but there were lots of other interesting things to see ... such as the Flavor Graveyard.  Very clever.  One of the more unusual things we observed while we were there was a couple having a small wedding reception at the tables outside the ice cream store.  I didn't get to see inside the ice cream bus, but I came away envisioning a sheep-mobile or maybe a wool-mobile (baa-mobile?).

After we left the lake house and hit the road,  we managed to find a few other food related attractions.  King Arthur Flour is a favorite of mine and when I saw we were in their neighborhood,  we just had to check them out.  This is their brand, spanking new store and baking school in Norwich,  Vermont.   It's gorgeous inside and going there for a workshop is now on my wish list.  They have an amazing array of products and,  if not for the fact that my suitcase was already teetering on the brink of a weight penalty zone, I would have loaded up.   Now that I'm home,  I plan to order on line and have it brought to my door.

Next up was Stonewall Kitchen,  which was a happy accident.  I'd forgotten that they were a New England company,  until we drove past late one evening.  They were closed then,  but we came back during the daytime to this beautiful store in York, Maine.  The gardens outside were gorgeous and inside was a foodie's idea of heaven!  Unfortunately,  they didn't allow picture taking inside the store,  but take my word for it,  it's a place to go,   if you should find yourself in the vicinity.

They've obviously been in this location for some time because the setting and plantings were lush.  Had we not already eaten,  we could have had lunch under the wisteria draped pergola (it almost made me want to eat again,  just to experience it!).

(I love New England architecture)
(We saw dahlias everywhere.)
(I think I need a wisteria covered pergola.)

While we were still with Katie, Crimson and Taylor,   we visited a few breweries.  Taylor is becoming quite the brewmaster,  so these held a special interest for him.  I just liked the name of this one,  which was adjacent to the City Hall Park in Burlington,  where we went to the farmer's market on both Saturdays we were there. 

Burlington Farmer's Market was a very energetic place.  There was live music and even dancing, around the fountain at the center of the park.  We opted to eat lunch there both Saturdays, sampling lots of things we hadn't ever seen before.  Mike and I had several types of ethic food,  a homemade root beer and homemade ice cream float,  samples of Scotch Highland beef and some wonderful baked desserts. We also came away with beautiful dark amber maple syrup from Dragonfly Sugar Works.  They had little sampling cups to taste the different varieties of syrup they offered and it was hard not to just stand there drinking down maple syrup.

We had so much good food while we were traveling.  We ate seafood at every opportunity (when in Rome and all that) and I wish I could recall the names and places of each restaurant.  (note to self:  keep a travel journal, next time).  On the last night of our trip (which I do remember!), we ate at a charming little restaurant,  Roots,  in downtown Rutland, Vermont.  Are you hungry, yet?

Stopping in Rutland for the night was a bit of an afterthought, but we were so glad we did because it's a lovely little town.  Other favorite towns were Woodstock and Bennington, Vermont and Concord,  New Hampshire.  Really,  I don't think we stopped anywhere that we'd never want to go back to.  My advice, if you're planning a New England trip.......plan on seeing it all!

**I intended to combine yarn and food in this post,  but think it's getting a little lengthy already,  so I'll do the yarn tour next.