Wednesday, January 07, 2004

happy distaff day!

My friend Judy sent me this little fyi in an email today: DISTAFF DAY (JANUARY 7) The day after Epiphany was traditionally the one on which women went back to work after the 12-day Christmas celebration. A distaff is the wooden rod (staff) that holds the flax or wool on a spinning wheel. The word distaff came to refer to both women's work and the female branch (distaff side) of the family. The women's husbands did not go back to work until the following Monday, so they would mischievously try to set fire to the flax on their wives' distaffs, while the women, lying in wait, would douse them with buckets of water. The English poet Robert Herrick wrote:

If the maids a-spinning goe
Burn their flax and fire their tow.
Bring the pails of water then
Let the maids bewash the men.

So I guess this gives me a good excuse to do some spinning today! It is quite cold this morning. A reading of 9 degrees when I went out to feed the rabbits and chickens at 7:30am. I am so glad that I checked in the garden day before yesterday. The rain had finally melted all the snow off of everything, so I decided to take a walk around and check things out. I wandered over to the bed where the carrots and beets had been growing. I last picked the carrots just before Thanksgiving. I left a few in the ground for the rabbits (they were small and schmeily), but they must have been happy under all of the snow! I wound up harvesting a good gallon of purple and orange nantes. Some of the nantes were as big around as a door nob! They will be good in the stew!
I am looking forward to watching the PA Farm Shownext week. The Sheep to Shawl Contest is on Wed. The pa cable network will televise it again this year. I just heard from my friend that Greta Dise of Yorktown spinners and Persimmon Tree Farm, will be in the contest again this year. They have been the first place winners for the past few years! They do beautiful work...and I hope they win again.
Bundle up in your hats, mittens, and scarves and throw another log on the home fires!

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