Thursday, February 28, 2013

Winter doldrums

These are the days when I don't feel I'm accomplishing much around the farm.  At two months into the new year, I'm still working on my goals to be a more positive person and to finish up a bunch of languishing knitting projects.  I'm pleased to be making some progress, but also frustrated at the slowness of my efforts.  In the next few months, I've got lambs coming, sheep and alpaca shearing, a garden to get planted, the arrival of a new grandbaby, the Kentucky Sheep and Fiber Festival to prepare for and several other major happenings.  I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night thinking I can't possibly pull it all together.  My shoulder injury has slowed me down a lot this winter and made me consider just how much longer I can keep all three rings in this circus going!  Does anyone else suffer from these anxieties?

Just when I started picking daffodils to bring inside and thinking about starting seeds in the greenhouse, it has decided to be winter again here in central Kentucky ... at least for the next few weeks.  It's as gray outside today as any deep January day - complete with swirling snowflakes. I'm toasty inside the studio with a cheery fire in the woodstove and a cup of hot tea close at hand.  I'm so hooked on Celestial Seasonings Wellness Tea.  Years ago it was sold with the name Tummy Mint on the box and then it just disappeared from the grocery and the co-op where I shop.  I had been hoarding a few boxes of it for some time before it occurred to me to search online.  Guess what - there it was on!  I order half dozen boxes at a time now, so I'm in no danger of running out.  Since weaning myself off of (the deadly) diet Coke, I'm hardly ever without a mug of tea by my side.

So, with some newly finished handknit socks drying in front of the woodstove and a pile of books and magazines beside me, my current plan is to just relax and make the best of our fickle Kentucky weather.

(I'm working on a post about some interesting new-or new to me-books and magazines.)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Crafty girl

A few weekends ago, my youngest granddaughter (she's 8) was here for an overnight visit. Recently, Mia has been affectionately called "Crafty Girl" around her house and that is music to this nana's ears!  I've done a pretty good job of indoctrinating encouraging my oldest granddaughter, Jordan (she's 22), and now she's knitting and spinning and hooked on interested in natural fibers.  (Can I hear an "Amen"?)  Because I raised three boys, I didn't have much opportunity to teach the so-called feminine arts to my offspring.  My chance has finally come with granddaughters and all those daughters-in-law.  Mia's mom, Jennifer, is my latest knitting convert, though as it turns out, she's a knitting prodigy so I can't really take much credit.  (I am definitely not eliminating the possibility of teaching my grandsons.  In fact, I have taught three of them to knit.  They just don't seem as interested as the girls.)

(Sorry about the blurry picture-I think the camera was confused by the pajama pants!)
So anyway .....  I did some thinking about a small project that Mia and I could work on together and came up with embroidery.  I looked in vain for a kit that might be appropriate for teaching an eight year old some simple stitching, but found nothing.  (I suppose few little girls are learning to stitch or sew these days.  Even though my mother taught me to sew, I also had exposure to needlework in Brownie Scouts and 4-H programs.)  In the end, I think not finding a kit turned out to be a blessing.  I assembled my own kit with several colors of embroidery thread, needles, scissors, hoops, disappearing ink tracing pen and plain muslin fabric, plus a small canvas bag from the craft store for Mia to keep her supplies in.  I bought her a copy of a book I already had, Doodle Stitching, for inspiration and after looking at it, we were ready to begin.  Mia drew a simple picture (her first one was a heart with a few flowers around it).  We held her drawing up to the window, placed the cotton fabric on top of it and traced her design with the tracing pen.  I showed her how to make a simple running stitch and she got right to it.  Within a short time, she had drawn, traced and embroidered four or five little squares of fabric and by then her brother had decided it was pretty cool and was requesting she do a project for him.  I think embroidering her own simple drawings made it less intimidating and more fun for Mia.  (And it's a lesson I need to remember.  You know - K.I.S.S.!)

My ultimate goal is to have my very own family knitting and craft guild and I think I'm well on my way! 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day

It's bright and sunny (though chilly and windy) at Tanglewood today.  It's the kind of day that lifts your spirits in the middle of February when the calendar says spring is still a ways off.  Signs of spring are starting to peek through the muck of winter here on the the farm.  I have daffodils blooming in the sheltered spot under the bedroom window and the forsythia bushes are bearing fat buds on their branches.  And the birds - the birds are singing in the morning as if they know spring is coming soon.  Maybe Punxsutawney Phil really knows what he's talking about this year.

(Dreaming in the sunshine - of babies to come? This is Gabby, so more likely she's dreaming of all that green grass to eat!)
I've done a little checking on the pregnant girls and we may be having fewer lambs than I had hoped for or maybe they are just going to be later.  It's looking as though Mr. Bates may not have gotten the job completely done, but time will tell.  Shearing day is coming up in about two weeks and we'll get a better "look" at the situation then.

In the meantime, Happy Valentine's Day wishes to all of you.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The main activity

There's been a whole lot of the above going on around here and not much else.  My appearance is apparently the highlight of the day for lots of critters!

(Some girls are pretty, some are just pretty in the fleece!)

The "little girls" have joined the adult ewe flock and when I look out on the pasture, I can hardly tell the young ones from the older girls.  It's bittersweet for me because I enjoy the time I spend with the lambs as they grow, but pretty soon I'll have new lambs to fuss over.  Gabby should lamb around the first of March and that's not long at all now.

(It's painful for me to see all that hay being shared with neighboring fleeces!)
One way to help with identification from a distance is that every year I order different color ear tags and along with the color, I start the numbering on the tags with the tags for this year will begin with the number 1301.  Picking the color is trickier than you might think.  I don't want those humongous tags that will pull a lambs ear down, but something large enough and bright enough that I can read it from several paces away.  I'm thinking I might go bold this year - maybe red or purple, just because I like to live on the edge!

I've spent more time than I would prefer seeing doctors, going to physical therapy and having x-rays and an MRI.  The verdict is that I have quite a variety of rotator cuff tears (at least five).  Not exactly the kind of over-achieving I can brag about!  I'm scheduled to see an orthopedic surgeon soon but, in the mean-time, I'm working diligently at physical therapy and hoping, hoping to avoid shoulder surgery.  Surgery does not fit into my plans for spring!

These pictures were taken last weekend when we finally had a little snow.  The sheep and I enjoyed it immensely.  These two - not so much!