Saturday, October 27, 2007

Kiparoo Farm

I visited Kiparoo Farm, the cottage business of Annie Kelley. She raises over 100 sheep near Adamstown and uses all their wool for her lustrous yarn. I've known Annie for over 15 years and she's such an inspiration. If I ever feel like I have so much to do, I think of Annie, up at 4:00 a.m. to milk her cows and care for her sheep, fix a tractor or manure spreader, make hay, dye yarn, pull up a cow with milk fever, and whatever else her busy day calls for. She's one of those people who need only 4 hours of sleep. I don't now how she does it, but it's hard to feel sorry for oneself when her day is so packed with farmstuff.

Casper welcomes you to Kiparoo Farm.

Annie's driveway is 1 mile long. Folks complain about how rough it is. Not used to gravel roads, I guess. It's just all part of the adventure!

The porch just outside of Annie's studio/shop. Sit a spell and knit!

Annie tucks still lifes into various places on the farm.

I pass this falley downey barn on the way home and wish someone with lots of money would rescue it. There aren't many stone barns left in our area. It may be beyond repair now.

I call this the 'Ghost Truck', shrouded in mystery.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Gourds, Squash and Pumpkins

Spring is still my favorite time of year, but autumn is running a close second. We do have the most beautiful falls here. This year it's been rather hot and dry so I didn't think the colors would be that great. But somehow the leaves did their magic and have left the trees aglow in color. An autumn tradition has been getting my pumpkins and gourds from David Heissler's cute country pumpkin place in Comus at the foothills of Sugarloaf Mountain. He raises heirloom and heritage pumpkins and gourds on the fields surrounding the mountain. Some are known for their succulent and sweet insides and David really knows his varieties. He'll tell you which ones are good for a side dish, which make the most delicious soups, which are the best for pumpkin pies. It's the most charming squash market around and a visit there always makes me smile and puts me in an autumnal mood.

The traditional pumpkin in all shapes and sizes.

I wish I knew all the names of these varieties. I'll have to do more research. But these are just lovely with their pale peachy color.

The dark green and orange squash are Lakota. I remember that variety because I grew up right near the Lakota Sioux reservation. I'm going to cook this one with butter and brown sugar sprinkled on top. Yumm!

We have friends from Alaska coming for Thanksgiving so will save many of these for our dinner. It's difficult to grow pumpkins in Alaska so I think they'll enjoy these.

This one is called 'Cinderella' because it resembles Cinderella's carriage. I'll slice this one up and cook it with butter and brown sugar sprinkled on top. Yumm!

And many more types that I'll cook with butter and brown sugar sprinkled on top. (I know, it's the only way I know to cook it except for some fabulous squash soup.)

Thanks David for working so hard to bring all these beautiful squash to market. I hope it brings him as much joy as it does to the hundreds of non-squash growers who buy them.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Fall is Here, Sort of.

The temperatures are a bit cooler, a welcome relief after the July weather we've been having. This is the view across the road from us. I walk out to get the paper early (sometimes even in the dark) and get to rest my eyes on this view every day. I love the mist in the lowland blanketing the fields in a soft veil.

When my husband, Houston, doesn't leave enough time in the morning to walk to the train station just down the hill from us, I drive him down. This is the farm across from the station. The corn is nearly 9 feet tall and has turned an amber color, ready to be harvested. It caught the morning light and I'm sorry the picture does not do the scene justice. I sat for a bit and just drank it all in.

And there's the Marc train, whisking working folks off to their jobs in the city.

Fiber Folly

I haven't had time to post the last couple weeks due to the madness of Fall Fiber Fest in Virginia and Stitches East in Baltimore. I had booths at both events and dyeing enough yarn, traveling, loading, unloading, then loading and unloading again and sitting there for days and days, took all my time. Fall Fiber Fest is my favorite show (besides my own studio tours where I don't have to haul) because it is outside on the grounds of Montpelier (home to Dolly and President Madison) and is a low-key fiber show. It's held under huge tents so I'm safe from the weather. Except last year the weather didn't cooperate and it rained 10" the day before the show and it was a mud pit. I arrived, pulled into the field, got stuck and had to pulled out by the tractor and a couple big angel guys. I had them pull me to the highway and off I went back home without ever unloading. This year was the opposite, a dry, dusty desert with dust like fine, red powder, settling over everything, yarn, hair, cars, and into lungs. Oh yeah, and the temperature was around 95 degrees with the same number for humidity. Whew! Hard to sell yarn in that! But we all drank plenty of water and used the programs as fans. The customers did buy yarn (not in the massive amounts I would've liked) in hopes that someday the temps would go down and fall would finally arrive and they'd feel like knitting.

This past weekend was Stitches East, a large knitting event held in the Baltimore Convention Center. (That's Camden Yard across from the BCC). It's four (FOUR!!!) days of classes and selling/buying yarn and other fiber related stuff. It's my hardest show as it is four days of selling, hard to set up and take down, long hours and it's all indoors. I'm not used to spending so much time inside. When I got home Sunday night, I gave my son a hug and he said, "You smell weird." I then gave my husband a hug and he said, "You smell funny." I think it was just an 'being inside for four days smell'! It was nice to see so many familiar customer faces and walk around to see what other vendors had to offer. I was disappointed in the felting scene though. I thought there'd be more felt stuff. This is a knitting venue so maybe that's why.
Another couple things that made Stitches harder both for vendors and attendees was the Baltimore marathon on Saturday morning and the Ravens game Sunday afternoon. Both events brought thousands more people out and hundreds more cars to jam traffic. Of course the Raven's game got out precisely the time that we were to load up. Traffic and people were snarly and I'm surprised physical fights didn't erupt. There certainly was enough bad attitude. The vendors had to wait 1-2 hours to just get into the convention center to load up. I felt sorry for the folks who had to drive for hours after loading. I'm lucky that I live just over an hour away. I'm seriously considering not doing this show next year.

This is the felted crocheted bag that a customer made from one of my patterns out of the color Briar Patch. Sorry it's blurry, but it turned out so cute, I had to get a pic.

And this is the Slubby Nubby Cardigan knit out of Spring Meadow. I love it when customers wear things for show and tell!

This weekend will be a piece of cake type of show. It's the Countryside Artisans tour and I'm home, home, home and all I have to do is get the studio put back together and see what colors I have to dye. Oh, and work on my horrible excuse for a yard. This drought is just killing everything. We don't have the water to give to the plants. I can water for about 20 minutes, then it's just gone and I have to turn off the pump for an hour and let the water come back up. My fear is that some day it won't come back. We all have to e more water-wise, especially in times like this. But it should just become a habit for all of us. Without water, we'd die. Bottom line.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Just Riding By

While up in Cumberland last weekend I went on my first group road bike ride. The guys were talking about pace lines and dropping back or passing on the left and don't do anything really sudden or the rider behind me might wreck. Yeah, like a rider might be behind me! These guys (and a couple girls) were skinny, willowy, sinewy, hard bodied and what I could tell, could ride like the wind. Plus they had skinny little tires on their bikes and I had big old fat, mud grabbing mountain bike tires. But I pedaled like a big girl and they only had to wait a few minutes for me at one of the turns. After lunch all 9 of the others went on to be their basic macho selves and I decided to go back so I could meander through the countryside and stop to take photos. I really got to see the views, smell the roses and set my own 'pace'. Above is my dream barn on my dream farm. The house was set back off the road, surrounded by large old trees with Will's Mountain as a green giant backdrop.

The corn has been cut and the first colors of autumn have begun.

This sign is aptly named. I had a pleasant valley ride. But I couldn't figure out the floating cow head.

In the little village of Hyndman, I saw this amazing old relic. It was obviously a beauty in its day, but like many of us, it is slowly fading into the sunset.

The beautiful scroll work in this gingerbread trim is a tribute to the craftsmanship of these carpenters.

I'm nearly home now, crossing the Narrows bridge. I love this bridge, with its rusty iron trestles and how it frames the just beginning changing colors of the trees on 'Lover's Leap'.