Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Let the wild rumpus start!

That, of course, is from "Where the Wild Things Are", a children's book by Maurice Sendak, but it totally applies to this week at our house.  Right now, it's more likely to be let the wild mess begin as I am in the throes of preparations for Thanksgiving dinner.  We're going to be a little smaller this year because one son and his family are away and my oldest grand-daughter has moved far, far away to California.  It makes me sad to not have all of our family around the table, but I do understand that things can't always stay the same, no matter if I don't want the changes. Older family members pass away, babies grow up and begin to have their own lives and every year brings a little different experience to our holiday traditions.

I have baked the cornbread and biscuits for the dressing, made the cranberry relish and gone over my list of things I have to have on hand.  There is no quick trip to the store for something forgotten when you live where I do.  Today the turkeys are brining, the giblets are simmering, the corn pudding is mixed and waiting in the refrigerator (I use the recipe from Shaker Village at Pleasant Hill) and the pecan pie is in the oven.  I think I'm doing a pretty good job of staying on task.  The last hour before it all goes on the table is the crazy-house part for me.  Luckily, I've got great daughters-in-law (and occasionally a son or two will wander through the kitchen) who will pitch in to make sure I don't leave something in the oven (not that I'm admitting that has ever happened - just sayin').

This was the scene as I came back from the barn this morning.  Glorious snow!  I love it so much.  It's quite cold here (in the 20's) and I'm wondering if we are indeed going to get that hard winter that people have been predicting .  It's a little early for snow in Kentucky and it did mean that I had to give a morning feeding of hay because the ground was covered.  Usually the sheep are out grazing all day and I have just begun feeding them a little in the evenings. The girls especially seemed to appreciate having breakfast served to them this morning, rather than having to find it for themselves.

The next few weeks will go by in a blur.  I hope we can all take tomorrow to slow down, enjoy family and friends and count our blessings.  All of us here at Tangewood Farm wish all of you the happiest of Thanksgivings.  May your day be filled with blessings and good company.

Thursday, November 14, 2013


We've had a long, warmish autumn here in the Bluegrass.  Weirdly so.  After a summer of rain just when we seemed to need it, things turned a little dry as summer drew to a close.  Consequently, we didn't have a lot of color and what we had seemed to be mostly yellow and gold.  Then came some dramatic wind storms, with broken branches and leaves stripped from the trees before they even turned and the boat cover ripped to shreds!.  A few days ago it was in the low 60's and when we awoke the next morning there was a magical dusting of snow!

Our visiting lover boy (the Wensleydale ram) is keeping me guessing as to whether he's doing the job or not.  The only ewe I've actually seen him breed is Gabby.  Gabby is what you'd call an "easy keeper" (translates to extra good eater and needs to lose some weight!), so I'm not sure if she'll even get pregnant.  I'm hoping he's doing all his romancing during the night-time.  The ewes cycle every 17 days and we are approaching the end of a complete cycle, at which time the ram will go home to begin the breeding program at Seldom Scene Farm.  I suppose our Rowdy boy will have a chance to prove himself with the ladies after that.

This time right before the holidays has seemed strangely rushed and stressful for me.  You know that feeling of being way, way behind before you ever get started?  Well, that's been me lately.  I've been a bit under the weather with (what I think is) a virus and plagued by poor sleep issues.  After a few visits to the doctor and while awaiting some tests results,  I've decided to just get on with it.  Too much to do to spend time moping around.

Though I have plenty of knitting going on, it mostly cannot be shown now.  What can be shown is knitting that should not be going on, but because I am weak and highly suggestible, I will show you my Lady Marple.  Not long ago, Amanda mentioned on her blog that she had begun knitting a Lady Marple .... and included the Ravelry link, which I, of course, went to straightway.  In turn, that sent me to the stash where there was just enough (I hope!) hand-dyed (by me), circa 2011 Sheep Dreams yarn in my very favorite semi-solid barn red colorway.  I am really enjoying this knitting.  I'm in a groove now with the simple lace pattern and can knit anywhere and anytime without having to think, which is sometimes just what I need.

And, because my life is nothing, if not color-coordinated, this is what I'm reading these days.  I heard Ann Patchett interviewed on Tom Ashbrook's program (On Point) on NPR not long ago and was intrigued by her latest book, This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage.  It's a collection of non-fiction essays and it's so, so good.  I can highly recommend it.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Hello November

I can hardly believe November is well underway.  October was a blur and, after all my talk about slowing down and simplifying my life, I can only say that I failed spectacularly.  But, starting now - it's going to happen, right? 

I had lots of fun during October.  There were farm parties, fiber festivals and more fiber festivals and plenty of knitting time in the car, so I can't complain too much.  Right now though, I'm ready to settle in by the fireplace, do a little sewing, maybe work on some Christmas knitting and watch some more episodes of "Foyle's War".  (I can highly recommend the "Foyle's War" series.  We watch it via Netflix and are about halfway through watching the series from the beginning, which first began on Masterpiece Mystery back in 2002.  It's excellent watching.)

The sheep have been out grazing contentedly.  We still have a fair amount of grass and I'm hopeful that it will last until Thanksgiving.  Most of the flock is still residing in the field we call the Triangle Field (so called because when we bought the farm and for several years thereafter, it was actually triangle shaped.  We long ago reconfigured the fencing and it's more of a rectangle now, but no matter....the name is stuck.)  There's a small, select group of girls being courted by a visiting boy.  My friend, Lindy,  recently acquired a lovely Wensleydale ram and he's spending just a little time here with us.  I'm really hoping to recreate a few more Wensleydale crossbred lambs with those fabulous fleeces that I've come to love. Our ram lamb, Rowdy, will serve as backup boy, so either way, there will be some nice babies arriving in 5 months or so.

The mental debate about whether to breed or not has gone on inside my head nearly all summer.  I'm just not sure how many more years I can do the work it requires.  There's a part of me who thinks that continuing to do the heavy work it takes to shepherd my flock will help me stay younger and more fit.  There's another part of me who worries that I'm causing myself to break down even faster!!  At any rate, I'm committed to at least one more year of having sweet baby lambs around when spring time arrives.  I'm for sure planning on bringing the "lamb-cam" back for one more season, so stay tuned for that!