Sunday, December 30, 2007

On Christmas Day in the Morning

A full moon on Christmas. How wonderful is that?!!!! I got up early, went out to feed the sheep and wish them a Merry Christmas, looked up and saw the most gorgeous full moon in the morning sky. I never tire of this view and definitely don't take it for granted.

Later in the day, the weather warmed up a bit and I remembered the 420 bulbs I'd bought back in October and thought I'd better get them in the ground before the dirt totally freezes. I bought mostly tulips, with a smattering of crocus and hyacinth. I tried to span a month's worth of blooming time, with some tulips fading as the others are just starting to show their colors. I adore tulips. They're so happy and perky and bring on a smile as I'm walking past them. I was inspired by Jane Brocket's lovely photos of tulips on her blog. I'm hoping I have enough to cut and put them in my vintage vases. This wasn't your typical way to spend Christmas, but it sure was fun digging in the dirt.

I put me hand into each bag, grabbing as many bulbs as I could and just threw them helter skelter on the dirt. The sheep poo that I'd put on back in September has composted nicely and I could just push the bulbs down with my fingers. March and April will be a tulipy time at Dancing Leaf Farm.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Holiday Knitting

Just some of the little knitted wearables I made for gifts.
These wrist warmers are from the 'Voodoo' pattern on, made from my Slubby Nubby. I just love making these. they're fast and easy and one can easily adapt any yarn and needle size.

Nicole is modeling these although they're really for my other son's girlfriend, Sara. I also made a scarf to match. She'll be toasty warm, except for those freezing little fingers!

And these are Nicole's warmers, made from BeeBop with Fuzzy Wuzzy trim.

Forrest is modeling his hand picked colors of Peace Fleece hat. I made it a bit too big so we threw the wet hat in the dryer for 20 minutes and it came out perfect.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Not a Creature Was Stirring

I bought an old wool sweater at Goodwill, felted it, cut it up into little mousey shapes and sewed the sides together. Of course I filled them with catnip, wool and a bell. I made the tails out of my grey sheep's wool, felted into a long realistic looking tail. In case there wasn't enough catnip (we call it cat beer) on the little mice, I sprayed them liberally with catnip spray.

The mice are planning their attack on Cheyenne.

Ohhhhhh. These smell FANTASTIC!

Let me get closer!

After sampling all the draught mice, Cheyenne proceeded to act very strangely, staring at the Christmas tree lights for a long time, then was convinced there was something outside the window and batted at some invisible (to me) object. Gotta love the catnip! Merry Christmas Cheyenne.

Almost Christmas

A few vignettes at Dancing Leaf Farm. Merry Christmas to all!

Our mantle this year, starry starry night.

Visited a friend in Shepherdstown recently. I liked the message in the upper window.

Had to get some dry goods and notions for Christmas.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

It's Finally Over!

I have been cranking out the dyed yarn and jewelry wholeheartedly since mid-September. I had eight shows in 10 weeks. I shut the door to the studio Sunday at 5:00 and went whooooo hoooooo! I've put yarn on the shelves for so many weeks, moved crates and crates of yarn to show after show and spent way too many hours in the dye kitchen in my basement. But now my yarn is in many baskets around the country being made into fabulous gifts. Thanks to all my wonderful customers who brought some Dancing Leaf Farm yarn home with them. I am truly grateful.

Slubby Nubby is my most popular yarn. This is just a smidgen of what I dyed. I love Slubby because it is instant gratification, perfect for holiday scarves.

We had our first lovely, winter wonderland snow last Wednesday. It was a perfect snowfall, light and fluffy, each snowflake a glittering little crystal. The farm looks so much better with a blanket of white, so clean and crisp.

My friend, Ann, and I got away Wednesday afternoon to do a little shopping in Frederick. My favorite shop is 'The Muse' happily run by Whitney, who is adorable. It's chock full of fun, frivolous artsy fartsy pieces. Whitney has a great eye for getting things in that I simply cannot resist. Ann and I had a perfect time, sipping coffee and watching the snow flutter down. The streets were scarce of people because folks are so afraid of the snow. I grew up in South Dakota, where it's known to snow, so I'm not afraid of a couple inches of snow. It was so nice to take a bit of a break and enjoy winter.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Fun at the Funny Farm

Marie moved to a rural area of the Poconos in Pennsylvania 4 years ago. I met Marie 7 years ago while she was living on a large farm near Buckeystown in our area. We have a common love of fiber (fiber sluts) and I was in awe of her accomplishments in the weaving, spinning, knitting, and domesticity arts. She's helped me through many knitting dilemmas
Above is the view from her family room. The house is situated on a hillside overlooking two marvelous ponds, home to (unfortunately) snapping turtles, but also to a bevy of ducks, lucky enough to escape the grasp of a turtle.

We walked up the hill and took in the view of Many Springs, Lotsa Springs, Way Many Springs, or some sort of Springs name Farm. It's nearly always wet here, obviously due to the springs. But the farm is lovingly referred to as 'The Funny Farm'. Marie even has a blog . We arrived with color still on the trees, an anomaly in mid-November.

Ann, Bev, myself and Marie in front of the pond, now covered in a thin blanket of the first snow. We were thrilled!

The Leaning Tower of Corncrib.

Bev and Ann being dorks next to Marie's standing stone.

Three warm chicks.

Bev, Ann and I brought enough projects to last us a full 2 weeks. We were there only 2 days, but still got a lot accomplished. They're making felt flowers out of a fine merino and silk blend.

The finished flowers, ready to embellish a hat, scarf or whatever whimsy they choose.

Marie told a funny story about when they moved in to this farmhouse. The previous thrifty couple had lived here 50 years. When removing boxes from the attic, Marie and Bob saw one dusty musty box. Written on top was "String, pieces too small to save." It had obviously been up there for decades. The balls of yarn pictured above are Marie's version of 'pieces too small to save.' She tied hundreds of pieces of yarn together and will make something wonderful, I'm sure.

Marie and her husband, Bob, are true homesteaders. It's like Firefox meets Mother Earth News. Marie cuts strips of cotton fabric and denim to make rugs and placemats.

Marie's loom room.

And row upon row of wool, cotton and linen awaiting Marie's magic hands and the rhythm of the shuttles.

All warped and ready to weave.

Some of the many wool blankets that Marie has woven.

They have a huge summer garden and put up jars and jars of yummy fruit and veggies.

No cows on their farm but they get milk from the cows down the road. This is their homemade contraption for making rounds of cheese.

When we arrived, Bob was just stirring the whey and milk every 5 minutes with instructions for Marie to continue stirring. We distracted her somewhat and I think she missed some of the stirs but the cheese turned out anyway.

This is the cheese cage which is actually an animal trap, much cheaper than a cheese cage. It does keep the varmints out while the cheese ages.

Cranberry juice and apple juice becoming hard cider. Too bad it wasn't ready for us to sit by the fire and sample the 'good stuff' and make us sillier.

They also have their own little brewery going.

And in case they don't have enough 'spirits' to keep them going on the long winter nights ahead, they make their own moonshine.

Every other year they raise two pigs and smoke their own bacon.

Goats and sheep abound at the Funny Farm. The goats are milked and the milk made into feta cheese, the sheep's wool is made into blankets for the beds and for rugs underfoot.

Two turkeys that survived Thanksgiving. Gobble gobble.

Broiler chickens are grown for their meat because they reach their full weight in 28 days. Tucked away in between the white broilers is Silver Wyandotte (I think). Can't remember her name, but I don't think I'd be hiding in with the broilers. She's a laying hen. The next series of photos are of the resident Aussie, MacGregor, and his companion, Barn-e-cat. They were laying by the fire and thoroughly enjoying each other's company.

We were all surprised that Marie had a chihuahua. Not your typical farm dog. But Pecan likes the farm and is fitting in. Marie and Bob took her in when a neighbor ran away to Paris and could not take Pecan. I kept calling her Peanut and some other names when I'd find poo on a rug.

This goat is not part of Funny Farm but belongs to the Quakers across the road. As do the alpacas below.

The Quaker neighbors run a maple syrup business. The sap starts running in late February or early March and continues for about 6 weeks. (this from Wikipedia) A maple syrup production farm is called a 'sugar bush' or'"the sugarwoods'. Sap is boiled in a sugar house or sugar shack.

Freezing nights and warm days are needed in order to induce sap flows. To collect the sap, holes are bored into the maple trees and tubes are inserted. Sap flows through the spouts into buckets or into plastic tubing. A hole must be drilled in a new location each year, as the old hole will produce sap for only one season due to the natural healing process of the tree, called walling-off. Maple sap is collected from the buckets and taken to the sugar house, if plastic tubing and pipelines are used, then the pipelines are arranged so that the sap will flow by gravity.

During processing, called sugaring off, the sap is fed automatically from a storage tank through a valve into a flat pan called an evaporator where the sap boils down until so much water is lost that it forms a sweet syrup. Approximately 10 gallons of sap must be boiled down to make one gallon of maple syrup . A mature sugar maple produces about 10 gallons of sap during the 4-6 week sugaring season and the tree is at least 40 years old.

We walked over a bridge to get to the sugar shack, but they calls it the 'sap house'.

Old door to the sap house.

Belgian draft horses are hooked up to this wagon to collect the buckets of sap.

The equipment used in the sap house. I know this piece but don't have a clue to the big, ancient hulks below.

Bev, Ann and I left in a snowstorm. I took a pic of this guardian angel so she could keep us safe on our journey home.