Friday, July 27, 2012

The trip to Echoview

Not long ago, I did one of those things most people consider a little crazy.  I had been corresponding with a new mill down in North Carolina, close to Asheville, about processing some of my wool/alpaca blend fiber into yarn and after several emails back and forth and them sending me a sample of their work, I decided to try them.  I was curious to see their facilities and, since I was trusting them with a years worth of fiber production, I opted to deliver my fiber in person, rather than ship it.  The drive was 6 1/2 hours one way and I went down and back in one day.  Thank goodness for Audible!  I downloaded the book, Wild, by Cheryl Strayed and it got me all the way there and back with no problems.  Audible books are a godsend for helping pass the hours when I'm driving alone.  Last year, when I drove to Juniper Moon Farm, in Virginia for culinary camp, I listened to Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand.  I'm happy to recommend both books as good traveling companions.

To say I was impressed when I arrived at Echoview Fiber Mill is an understatement, for sure.  It's a brand new facility that has been thoughtfully planned, with so much of their system ecologically friendly and based on sustainable agricultural practices .  The building itself is bright, clean and modern, with lovely light pouring in through clerestory windows, solar panels on the roof and a water reuse plan already in operation.  When I was there, they had been operating a little over two months and were having their open house that weekend.  Best of all, the people I met there were so friendly, I felt totally at ease leaving my precious fiber in their hands.  Marcia, their wonderful customer service person, took me through the whole building and introduced me to everyone (and said good things about my fiber, which is always nice to hear!).  They have great plans for workshops and camps, so it would be worth your while to sign up for their newsletters.  I wish I had allowed more time for visiting, because the whole experience was lovely.

So, now I'm anticipating the message from them saying my yarn is ready!  I can't wait to see how it turns out.  I'm having them spin a two-ply, worsted weight yarn and my intention is to get right into the dye pots with it, when I bring it home.  You can be sure you'll get to see it here and I'm really hoping to revive my poor neglected Etsy shop, once the yarn is ready.  Since Asheville is one of my favorite places to visit, this time I'm going to allow myself a little time to relax and visit some of the many fiber and art related shops and galleries for a day or so before heading back home.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Some silliness

Sorry, I know I'm way overdue for a post and I'm working on it.  In the meantime, here's a clever little thing that made me smile.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

It's been a blank

(busy, busy)
 My mind has been sort of like this _____________.  Nothing going on in there, but trying to keep us all as cool as possible.  (not much blogging material there)  It's been twice daily hosing off for the alpacas and I don't mind if I get wet while doing it!  It's been one of the few times I've wished for a swimming pool here at the farm, so I could jump in and duck under water to cool the heat waves rolling off my head!  (In my past life, we had a pool and it was wonderful while my boys were growing up.  It's the best, healthy summer entertainment for a houseful of boys and their friends.  The downside is that pools require maintenance and who needs more maintaining on the to-do list?)  We had a big thunderstorm last evening and it's a little more bearable so far today.  We got an inch or so of much needed rain during the storm.  Maybe it's just wishful thinking, but the pastures seem greener already.

 I'm still spinning for the Tour de Fleece and am still behind.  I'm trying to keep from getting so discouraged that I drop out.  It's always a plus to get to spin a little every day, right?  Often, I put rules on myself about getting this or that done before I'm allowed to sit down at my wheel.  I'm sure you know the mindset.  The problem is that on a farm, things are never "done".  The list stretches off to the horizon.  So, the Tour de Fleece is a good way to give myself permission to do something I really enjoy every day.....if only for a few days out of the year!

(at least some of the weeds are green)
 The busiest critters on the farm are the chicks that hatched six weeks ago.  Our laying flock had gotten down to three Buff Orphington's and that's why I bought those eight chicks from the farm supply store back in early spring.  Those girls are getting really big and should start laying in the fall.  Not long after that, I happened upon a website that for someone who raised "Olive-Eggers" and I was intrigued.  They don't sell chicks, but do sell fertilized eggs, so when Mean Girl went broody, I ordered eight eggs (and they sent me twelve!) to put under her.  I had my doubts about the process, but it worked great.  Mean Girl is a great mother.  She hatched out eight chicks and has been very attentive and fiercely protective of them.  She strikes fear in the hen house and none of the other chickens will come near her!   Two weeks ago, I let Mean Girl start bringing the chicks outside during the day and they are such fun to watch while she's teaching them to hunt and scratch around for bugs and seeds.  I'm just hoping there aren't too many roosters in the bunch that will have to be re-homed!  Anyone looking for an "Olive-Egger" rooster?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Our idea of a good day ...

Believe it or not, Sunday was a good day here at the farm.  It was one of the hottest days of the summer (we've broken records lately) and what did we do?  Why we had a little shearing party!  Okay, it wasn't really a party, which is a good thing because it also wasn't much fun.  It felt good in that way that doing something painful feels, when you stop doing it, if you get my drift.  The shearers happened to be passing through my part of the country, on their way to someone else, and called to ask if it would be okay to get my lambs done now.  I was so, so happy to have the lambs fleeces shorn.  Because of our ridiculously hot weather, everyone has been suffering.  Sunday it was 103 degrees and I have nothing but admiration for these guys being able to work so hard in that kind heat.  Then, to make the day even better, that evening we got about 1/4 inch of rain (the first rain in many, many weeks) and, best of all, the temperature dropped about 20 degrees!  Monday morning when I turned the lambs out into the field, they actually ran and jumped up in the air because they felt so much better!  I might be inclined to do the same, if I thought I could without injuring myself.

So, how's the Tour de Fleece going with you all?  I'll admit to just barely fulfilling the spin daily requirement.  Which means, of course, that I have very little to show at this point.  I'm seriously needing to pick up speed.  There will most likely be some moonlight riding in my future.

Monday, July 2, 2012


So, it appears that my brain does not function well when the temperature goes above 98 degrees.....which is partly why I have been so absent from here.  (Plus, I know you all are sick of hearing me whine about the heat, but here I go again.)  It has been deadly hot here and a significant amount of my time each day has been spent trying to keep my sheep and alpacas alive.  The alpaca boys get a filled pool twice daily, the sheep have a multitude of fans running and I check all the automatic waterers several times daily to be sure they all are full of cool, clean water.  I don't know what else to do.  It seems Mother Nature has decided to push us to the limit.  Our pastures have been toasted, along with my brain, and while we had a tremendous wind and lightning storm last night, we got none of the rain that happened oh so close to us.  At any rate, I know it could be much worse. So many people up and down the east coast and even my neighbors one road over are without power because of the storms.  Thank goodness for electricity and air conditioning!

(Sadly there's no pool for these girls. This weather makes me wish I had a Border Collie again so I could herd them down to the creek, where it is much, much cooler.)
It's hard for me to imagine how I grew up in a house without air conditioning.  I do remember that most of my summer days were spent in the swimming pool at the city park that was just across the street.  Even after my family moved out to the "burbs" (which was maybe a mile away), I was allowed to take a city bus to one of the pools in Lexington.  It was such a different time than now.  By the time I was 11 or 12 years old, I was allowed to ride the bus (alone) to go downtown and meet with my friends.  At that age, I was still sewing for my Ginny doll and it was so much fun to take the bus to downtown and spend my baby-sitting money on as many 1/4 yard pieces of fabric as I could afford!  (And, who would hire an 11 year old to baby-sit these days?!)

(Mara shawlette in beautiful Briar Rose)
I have managed to do a few other things besides adjust fans and fill alpaca wading pools.  Last week I made a very quick trip to the Asheville area of North Carolina.  I was on a mission and drove down and back on the same day.  I'll have more to share about that in the next few days.  I have been knitting on my Mara shawlette, using some beautiful Briar Rose yarn.  (Chris dyes up the most gorgeous colors!).  I'm nearly ready to bind off and will soak and block it before putting a picture here.  Several weeks ago, I finished the Silk Moon Crescent shawlette, designed by Jaala Spiro .  I used Noro Kureyon, because that's what I had in my stash.  I love the way it sits easily on my shoulders.  I think it will be just enough warmth to use a lot during the winter (if it ever comes again!).  Susan Anderson had a knit-along for the pattern and there are lots of beautiful ones on Ravelry to look at and be inspired by.  I'm thinking this might be a go-to pattern for family Christmas gifts this year.  (Have you noticed how many of us are knitting shawlettes right now?)

(actual color not this dark)

(Love the shawl pin - purchased at the Squam Art Fair)

On my drive to and from North Carolina, I listened to "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed.  (Do you use Audible?  They're a great place to download books to listen to when you need to be doing other things.)  My husband loves to hike, but me?  Not so much!  If I ever had any inclination to take up hiking, this book took it right out of my mind!  I just kept thinking, "this woman has a death-wish". It's interesting and held my attention the twelve hours in the car, but I'm glad I didn't invest in the hardback.

I've had a rough start to the Tour de Fleece, but am on my way.  I'll share my challenge in another post, but I'd love to know if you're pedaling (treadling?) this year.

**Once again, sitting in my friendly Kroger's Starbucks using their WiFi to upload my pictures.  You don't want to get me started on my opinion of my Windstream (terrible, lousy, no good) DSL service!