Monday, August 29, 2005

hurricane Katrina

I am so sad about everything that has happened as a result of Hurricane Katrina. My thoughts and prayers are about so many different people and events that surround this catastrophe.
Words are hard to is a copy of a poem about a storm that happened a long time ago, in 1903...storms are destructive...and time cannot change that.
Heppner's Sorrow By C. Franklin Sutton

Death, in madly tearing torrents
Rushed upon a peaceful town,
Sweeping everything before it,
Rooting up and tearing down.

Not a word of warning heard,
Till death held in close embrace
Fathers, mothers,
Sisters, brothers,
Terror stamped upon each face

Onward rushing maddened waters,
Can no force thy power stay…
Must grim death and desolation
Mar this peaceful Sabbath day?

Too Late! Tis done,
The setting sun hides his face in a rain of tears,
Hearts we cherished now have perished
Lost to us, through coming years.

Hearts must bleed and fingers tremble,
As we raise a lifeless form
From a grave the deluge gave
Each victim of that dreadful storm

A happy home becomes a tomb,
A dress for church becomes a shroud,
A couch of cheer becomes a blur,
And peaceful songs are wailings loud.

Heppner, peaceful mountain village,
We deplore thy awful scourge,
While the music of thy valleys
Echoes back the solemn dirge.
Love is mourning,
Yet adorning
Crowns eternal for love's sake;
Till love meets them
And love greets them
On that strand where souls awake.

Friday, August 26, 2005

sweet corn is in

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I have been playing around with the lucet, and trying out different things you can do with it.  Since I will be teaching it at our next workshop, I figured that I would like to have some samples to pass around and hopefully inspire the students to use their imaginations to create unique and beautiful cords of their own.
I decided to try adding beads to a cord.  This is done by simply stringing a separate strand (of whatever thread you would like to use) with beads of your choice.  I used these little shell bits that were about the same shade of ecru as the cotton thread ...I wanted to make a  sort of necklace that reminded me of the sandy beaches where I recently spent my vacation. 
Once you have the beads on the thread, you can insert them into your design.  I started lucetting with both strands of Clarks mercerized crochet cord, for a length of 3 or 4 inches, then I pulled a bead up to the center of the lucet.  After that it was a matter of counting every twelfth turn, and inserting another bead.  This method kept the beads evenly spaced and on the outer edge of the finished cord.  I was able to make this little cord in less than an hour.
Out in the garden, the corn continues to grow...look at the difference a few weeks makes....
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we have been harvesting it for a week or two now, and everyone is getting just a little tired of eating it for supper almost every night!
It is a pretty good year for corn, but not as good as last years harvest as far as development of the ears is concerned.  I cannot attribute this to the variety (as I grew several different types)...but I think it is due to the growing conditions.  The bottom of the ear is nicely developed, with the top inch or two lacking kernel.  At first I thought it might be a pollination problem, but after reading up on it, I have determined that it is due to the heat and lack of rain while the kernels were forming.  I could have avoided this problem by watering the corn, but I was on it is the price I pay for taking some time off!  I have also noticed a small area of smut in the patch ...which I eradicated immediately.
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One thing for certain is the beauty of this stalk.  This variety is called True Platinum.  It was developed by A. Kapuler   - the same fellow responsible for bringing back the Elephant Head amaranth.  I ordered it from Seeds of Change.  The stalk is a sort of purple and the husks are striped.  I am saving the husks (and some of the cobs) for use on the Great Wheel.  Sharon Peffer advised me to use corn husk soaked in lanolin on the shaft of the spindle- so that I can easily remove the spun yarn.  I read in a book on Colonial Times that you can use a corn cob on the shaft of the spindle, to serve as a bobbin.  I have been letting the chickens have the corn cobs (when we are finished) and they do a nice job of cleaning them for me!  All I need to do is dry them now.
Speaking of chickens....I have two new pullets around the now we have a total of 17.  These are a pair of aracunas that were born this past spring.  Many thanks to MaryAnne for sending them "up river"!  Right now I have them in a holding pen until they acclimate to their new location.  Chickens have to stay in a coup for several days before you can let them out to free range.  I think it takes them a while to remember where home is.
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One last notation:  we had a bear raid on the Rubbermaid trash can this week.  I have placed the nail board near the rabbit hutches and need to get a motion detector light set up out there.  I expect the bears are starting to beef up more indication that perhaps we will have an early frost this year.  The leaves are beginning to turn and some are falling already.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

second clipping

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I have been trying to hold off on clipping Jack, but I decided that it was time.  I noticed that he was starting to drop coat, and I really did not want to loose much of it.  Overall, I was very happy with his wool.  It was not as long as it was last time, but still is a nice staple length of approx. 4 inches.  I plan to keep better records of exactly the yield this time.  I want to keep track of how much wool this guy is producing.
When I clipped Jack in April, the wool had a staple length of six inches.  So  his fur grew 4 inches in as many months!  I really felt bad about leaving him in full coat throughout this summer heat.  He never showed any signs of stress, I guess I felt guilty that he was so hot just because I wanted his wool!  Now that he is clipped, he is feeling frisky, and running around the hutch kicking up his feet and wagging his head and shaking his body.  Here he is hiding from me when I wanted to take a picture.
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I lured him out into the open with his favorite treat...blackberry leaves.
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These black berry leaves are from a thornless black raspberry bush that goes by the name of Navaho.  I have had the three bushes for about 5 years now, and have always enjoyed beautiful and bountiful fruit.  This year, I am worried about the bushes.  They seem to have something very wrong.
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See how the berries look underdeveloped?  Some of them have even turned brown and dried up completely.  It almost looks like what happens to my heirloom grapevines.  I am afraid it is orange rust, but have been having trouble diagnosing the problem for sure.  Maybe I am in denial.

I have trellised these and really enjoy them in my garden.  The advice on what to do about orange rust is destroy the plants.  I really don't want to do that.  If anyone has seen this before, please email and let me know what I can do.  This years harvest is a fresh berries, no jam...just lots of leaves for the bunnies.
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One piece of good news in the garden is the honey bees I have been seeing.  Ever since the trachea mites hit a few years ago, we have not been seeing as many honey bees in the garden...lately there have been several spotted visiting the sunflowers.

Monday, August 15, 2005

red ribbons and green beans

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One of the last things I did before I left on vacation was to enter the Wayne County Fair.  I have never entered anything in a county fair before, but this year, at the urging of my dear husband, I got up my nerve.  After obtaining the Premium Book...and following the directions for entry in the proper department...I decided on entering a handspun, hand-woven shawl.
The main requirement of entry was that the article was to have been created in the past year.  I chose the leno lace shawl that I made from the Wensleydale Top that I purchased last October at Rhinebeck, from Barneswallow Farm. It went by the name of "Juniper", and was a soft green gray color.  I had spun a fine single, then plied it with some tussah silk from the Copper Moth....called "Moth Wing", and some seed beads thrown in randomly.  Then I wove the Leno Lace pattern on my 5ft. Triangle Loom.  I was satisfied with the results, but really could have taken more time on the fringe.  I did not tie off the ends, and as a result, it has a sort of "frayed edge" which some people say that they like, but I prefer a more finished look.
Anyway, when I dropped the shawl off, I saw so many beautiful pieces of handwork, that I felt a bit intimidated about entering my shawl.  Self doubt was nagging at me...I should have taken more time to finish those ends.  I left the fair grounds feeling rather like a little fish in a big pond...and wishing I had not listened to my husband!  Imagine my surprise when I learned that the shawl won a red ribbon!  Second Place!

Now I am wondering why...was it the yarn?  Was it the lace pattern?  I wished I could have seen and heard the judges comments.  Anyway, it made my day...nice to have a ribbon from a county fair, and now I will enter again.  By the way, I am told first place was a crocheted piece.
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So it was really nice to get out in the garden after being away from home for the week.  My garden is a constant visible reminder of the passing of time.  I don't need a calendar or a clock--I simply need to go outside and look at the green beans.  With the heat of the summer I swear you can watch them grow.
I had decided to get out as early in the morning as possible (just after the dew was burned off of the leaves).  It was pleasant listening to the river....always a refreshing sound with all the heat we have been having.  There was the occasional bird song, many bees buzzing about, cicadas calling, and crickets chirping.  My rooster  Buddy was happy to see me and stayed close by...hoping I would find a big grasshopper or something for him to offer to his hens.  He was clucking quietly to remind me that he was there.  The sun was starting to get high, and the sweat was starting to roll down my back as I bent over the beans. 
In an effort to stay cool, I started thinking about the spring time, when I had planted the beans. This year, I chose a variety called "Feves Vertes Naines" or "Gourmet European" from Stokes.  They are a white seed, and were billed as a perfect bean for canning- freezing or Market.  I remembered that I had to wait for the roses to bloom before I planted them...we had a cold spring this year.  So 50 some days later, I am reaping the harvest, and could not be happier about the yield.  I will grow this variety again.
When I got back to the house, I weighed the two baskets.
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I had over 14 pounds of little pints pressure cooker would not be enough.  It was time to call in the big guns.  I made a phone call and bartered some fresh blue claw crabs and broccoli for use of the CA21 Presto 7qt. capacity canner, which my friend, er, enabler, promptly delivered.  It is her mothers (vintage 1970 something) canner...and a beauty.  Check out the pressure gauge on top...makes my job much easier.
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All in all it took me the course of a day to pick and jar 6 quarts of beans (and there are more waiting).  Why do I do it?  As I work at cleaning and slicing the beans, one can't help thinking how many people used to put up their own vegetables.  In the 1880's women preserved the harvest over a woodstove (I cannot imagine cranking that baby up in this heat..let alone trying to maintain a even temperature to can veggies).  During World War One... the public was encouraged to plant their victory gardens, and preserve the surplus.  Likewise during the 1930's ...the depression and WW2.  I guess things have slacked off with the current generation of young women who are more involved with working outside of the home than in it.
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So yes, it is an investment of time.  But isn't that what makes the finished product valuable?  The time spent planting, and nurturing and harvesting and preserving.  I find home canning to be a lot like making my own yarns.  There is so much time invested, but when the job is finished, you have a very nice product. 
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Thursday, August 04, 2005


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Gone Fishin---no email--no phone--just some books and knitting projects.

See you next week.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

fabulous fiber fest

Our Fiber Fest was Fabulous!  Everyone had such a great time that we have decided to have another, and we scheduled it for October 1st. There should be beautiful little Hatton Finnsheep lambies by that time! 

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Here is a picture of the big tent that we put up the night before. It doubled as a classroom and lunchroom...the weather was very enjoyable early in the morning...

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We held the spinning workshop down in the barn, where there were several antique wheels that everyone could test drive. This first one belong to our hostess, Grace Hatton. It is the Londonderry, NH wheel made by Benjamin Gregg about 1800...and it was the first wheel her husband Fred, who is a master wood turner, restored.

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This next wheel is Scandinavian - and Fred made a new bobbin flyer for it. He restored the finials on the wheel supports. He also made two bobbins for it.  Isn't it just beautiful?
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The great wheel is very similar to one that is documented Berks County, PA. With its wide rim and distinctive turnings it has a commanding presence - and spins like a dream. Both the Scandinavian and the Great Wheel are for sale.  Spinning on these old wheels always makes me feel a connection to the past...and makes me wonder about the people who spun on them. 
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I had a very fun time with my needle felting students. What a great group of women. I really enjoyed meeting them, and teaching them what they needed to get started with a new skill. There was a workshop for the triloom and the square loom that Judy taught. All of her students enjoyed learning this new skill, some even electing to stay behind and forfeit some of the lunch hour just to keep working on the project! This is common for is highly addictive, especially to newbies!
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Louise taught a workshop all about Alpacas and fiber preparation.  She brought some of her luscious alpaca fiber along and lectured about the process and handling of the fiber. (this is a workshop I wish I had time to sit in on myself!)
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Lunchtime provided a chance to sit and chat--make new friends
---and exchange project ideas.  It also gave time to take a walk and visit the animals, or tour the gardens.
At the end of the day, the local press showed up, and filmed a short segment of us spinning away.  One of the women who came to the workshop was spinning on the Great Wheel (and was kind enough to share some tips with me).  She was filmed speaking about the olden days, and how much wealth a spinster could bring to a family.  She said that the spinsters were often given a position of great honor within the household, receiving the best of the food, and the best bed etc..because they could provide the family with clothing.  Quite a contrast to the derogatory way we use the word today.
All in all it was a lovely day of learning! Fiber people make for good company. I look forward to October and the next series of workshops.  Now I turn my thoughts to Dorflinger Days, The Endless Mountain Fiber Fest, and The Northeast Small Farm Expo (see the sidebar listing). Schweew!  Better get spinning!

Monday, August 01, 2005

cuckes wait for no one

Since I no longer grow cucumbers, my neighbors decided to share their harvest with me.  Image hosted by

Thank you so much!!  So I wanted to blog all about the wonderful fiber fest we had over the weekend at the Hatton Farm...but spent most of today doing this...

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and adding this....

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to get these....
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So, the Fiber Fest post will have to wait until tomorrow, because I am on my way out the screen door to go out to the garden and pick the green beans...because...the beans will not wait either!  Fresh is Best!

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