Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Time to Build a Bunny House

Painting the French doors
The angoras have been here since last September, living in a barricaded section of my carport. It was a busy spring and started into a busy summer, but I had to set aside time to build a more permanent facility for them. The barn I used back when I had 20 to 30 rabbits is in bad shape, so I decided to use some found materials to make a little barn for them here at the shop.

The French doors were stockpiled back when we were going to build a shop out in front of the old farmhouse. There is also some lumber left from that project and friends Peter and Kathleen gave me some corrugated plastic awhile back. Aside from some hinges and a little hardware, plus some paint, I had everything I needed to put up a little building.

The support for the back wall of the bunny house
This old grape vine fence is still sturdy, although the ancient vines have finally died off except for one at the far end. My cousin Amy helped me put boards across to support the three doors that made up the back wall of the shed.

Back wall

Side walls
By using hooks and eyes to attach the four doors used as the side walls to the back, I was able to put them up by myself, one at a time during a quiet day at the shop.

Front doors of the bunny house
The front doors are made of old shutters we used to use back when I did a lot of festivals. They made great, if heavy, displays. The center piece is an old folding door. I used hinges to put this part together, so friend Kathleen came over to help with that. Amy came again to give me a hand in putting up the long rafters for the roof.

The roof
I had to do a little fudging on the roof, as the plastic pieces weren't quite long enough. But an extra board, painted white, made up the difference at the back. I also painted the plastic to keep it a little cooler inside the rabbit house. If it gets too warm, I can paint the panes of glass, but so far putting a tarp on the sun side in the morning has kept the rabbits comfortable.

Rabbits in residence
The rabbits seem happy with the situation so far. I close the doors at night to make sure they are safe from dogs or foxes and open things up during the day.

Knightley visits with German Angora Quark
The exercise pen gives some extra protection and a place for the rabbits to get out and nibble green stuff and romp. They have been missing their exercise time because of the rain and all of my working time. Now that the rabbits are at the shop, I can let one out in the pen and he can spend the morning nibbling and hopping around, or just laying on the grass. After lunch I let the other one out. Two boys out together doesn't work very well, at least not with Quark. He's a pushy fellow.

Hen and her two chicks
The hen that was setting on her clutch of seven eggs managed to hatch out two of them. I don't know if the weather got too hot or if the rooster wasn't doing his job properly, but the other eggs weren't fertile. Mama hen has learned to be careful of cats and other predators and so far she has done well with them. She takes them around the yard, teaching them all the things they need to know about the big world.

Rose and baby Clara
Clara is getting big and is still a lot of fun. She has started grazing with her mama in the mornings and evenings but still finds plenty of time to play with us. Clara loves to climb and is found in high places all around the farm, including atop friend Peter's shoulders!

What I'm spinning: hand dyed angora from the rabbits
What I'm knitting: Finishing Reyna shawl and starting the Chinese Tile scarf
What I'm crocheting: Everything is still hibernating
What I'm reading: The Sweetgum Ladies Knit for Love by Beth Pattillo
Current sounds & sights for spinning along: Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries on Netflix

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

New Babies, Nesting and Spinning!

Goat Girls Just Want to Have Fun
The big excitement here on Squirrel Spur this past few weeks has been all about the goat girls and the impending births of their little ones. We were all counting the days and delighted when first Martha, then Rose, delivered healthy baby girls. Rose frolicked around like a kid herself until an hour before her little one arrived.

Martha and her little Jessie
Sweet Rose and baby Clara
The babies are beautiful and already little Jessie has a new home. So does Martha, as I wanted to keep Rose's kid and don't have the space or money to have too many mouths to feed. Martha now lives just over the hill and Jessie is not far down the road.

Little Clara, growing up fast
Everyone has fallen in love with little Clara and she's getting lots of attention from friends and customers. I'm told her color pattern is caramel and we love the little black belly and the black stripe down her back. Not to mention the white topknot.


Yarn Room at Greenberry House
I think I went a little crazy this weekend when I decided to move EVERYTHING in the shop so that all of the yarn and spinning fiber, along with the tools, were all in one place. Maybe I didn't move everything but it certainly feels that way. I'm pleased with the results, though, and I have a new room to expand the book selection as well as some space for some different consignments. Looking forward to working with some new people.

Helper dog Knightley
Knightley has been staying busy looking after me at the shop. After Emma staged a grand escape and nearly got herself kidnapped at a local store, she has been staying home while we are at work. Frankly, she's really happier at home as long as we can get in her daily walks. Knightley enjoys being with me in the shop and he supervises everything that is going on with the chickens and the goats. We lost one hen to a fox a few weeks ago; I think she had slipped off nesting under one of the buildings and I didn't notice she was gone. Another hen is setting but she chose the safety of the chicken house. She has seven eggs and I hope she's successful this time. Earlier in the year she hatched one chick but an invading cat killed it.

Spinning dyed angora fiber
Hand dyed carded angora fluff

It has been lovely to get back into spinning angora again and I dyed enough to spin singles to ply with some merino that I worked on last winter. I'm planning to start on a new bunny house this weekend and maybe then I can get some good pictures of the lovely rabbits from Woolybuns up in Connecticut.

Spring is heading into summer and there are warm and busy days ahead. With so many projects I've not done my usual flower beds and pots, but maybe I can get it done later. My peonies haven't bloomed yet but some of the irises are trying to fight their way through the weeds. I really need more hours in a day!
A sweet picture of Emma, just because.
What I'm spinning: hand dyed angora
What I'm knitting: the final rows of the Quill shawl by Jared Flood
What I'm crocheting: everything is hibernating
What I'm reading: The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro
Current sounds & sights for spinning along: The Gifted by Ann H. Gabhart (for book club)

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Festivals, the Shop and Keeping Things Going

Rhododendron blooming at Greenberry House 
We've been having a typical mountain spring this year. Early in the season it was warm but we've had several cold and rainy days since. People have been getting out, though, after the long winter and it has been fun seeing everyone at the shop. This past week four of our local spinners brought beautiful yarn to add to the shop shelves; I'll be posting pictures as soon as I get a chance!

Greenberry House at Olde Liberty Fibre Faire
Knightley and I had a wonderful time at the festival back in April. Olde Liberty Fibre Faire has changed venues and it's a lovely location. A Goode View Alpaca Farm in Goode, Virginia, made for a wonderful setting for lots of delightful fibery goodness. The hosts and volunteers did a terrific job and made the day very special.

I didn't get pictures but this past weekend I attended Maryland Sheep and Wool, for the first time in several years. Knightley found the whole thing overwhelming on Saturday and when the sun came out we left to keep the boy and some rabbits transported by Chris from over at Woolybuns safe from overheating. We went back for a short time on Sunday before it got very crowded and Knightley handled the situation much better. As my hearing aid dog, he really needs to deal with lots of different situations and we have been tied down because of work and Dad too much lately. I need to make more effort with him. I did buy a beautiful Shetland fleece at the wool sale; more about it in future posts. Also more about the rabbits as well! I had a wonderful visit with Chris, and that was my main reason for the trip.

Goat girls waiting for babies
Back on the farm, we're anxiously waiting to see if the goat girls are going to have little ones. They both look very pregnant. Either that or I'm feeding them WAY too much. The little shed is all clean and ready for them, just in case, and I'm excited to think that there will be little ones. Rose, the one at the front, is really getting big.

Quill
All the traveling was fun, but it's nice to be home and get back into our routines. I've been busy with customers and the animals, plus putting books up on the Scraps of American History web site. I've been busy spinning some glorious angora that I sheared from the rabbits here and I occasionally have a few minutes to work on the Quill shawl. I'm about halfway through the final border and it has been a pleasure to knit. The pattern is well-written and I love that it's a traditional piece.

What I'm spinning: hand dyed angora for plying with merino
What I'm knittingQuill shawl by Jared Flood
What I'm crocheting: Everything is hibernating
What I'm reading: The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh
Current sounds and sights for spinning along: Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff
How the diet is going: Let's not talk about it.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Spring on the Farm

Forsythia in bloom 
It seems like it has been a long winter, but really we haven't had much bad weather or snow up here on the mountain. It was lovely to see the warm weather finally arrive, though, and now that the temperatures seem to have settled into spring, things are bursting with life here on the farm.

Little setting hen
Last summer I bought some chicks, late in the season because of trying to get my father settled into a comfortable living space. My little barred rock hens and "Easter eggers" started laying early this spring and I've enjoyed gathering their colorful little eggs. To my surprise one of the Easter eggers started setting about a month ago. I wasn't prepared for it and let her keep only four eggs. The older hens broke three of them but she managed to hatch out a little Buff Orpington chick. Right now she's caged up with it separate from the others because the old hens are threatening the baby.

Fresh eggs!

Some of my old hens are laying along with the new ones so I'm getting well over a dozen eggs every day from a flock of 22 hens. There were 23 but one hen was taken by a fox near one of the outbuildings. I think she may have slipped off to set on some eggs out there and I didn't realize she wasn't coming in at night. I'm back to counting heads every evening when I shut up the chicken house!

Goat girls
The goat girls are doing well and I think we may have some little ones sometime between mid-May and mid-June. I borrowed a lovely boy from over the hill to visit with the ladies back in December, planning to only leave him here for two weeks. Right at the time I was going to take him back, suddenly there was goat love going on everywhere. So I left him another couple of weeks. I think it broke Martha's heart when I took her boyfriend away. Martha is the black one and Rose is the white one.

I don't have any good pictures yet but my friend Chris from Woolybuns brought me some German Angora rabbits last fall. If you look back to several years ago on the blog, I used to keep a sizable herd of them for their luxurious wool for spinning. I love having the rabbits back and have sheared enough since they came for some dyeing and spinning adventures. Right now I'm working on a yarn made from merino and the angora. I'm planning to put up a little house for them here at the top of Squirrel Spur and will enjoy having all the animals together.

The shop is open!
Greenberry House is open for the season and I am really enjoying getting the shop all set up and ready for the summer. Hours are Saturday through Tuesday, 10 AM to 5 PM, with stitching group on Tuesday evening. I have some wonderful new yarns and spinning fibers from Ocotilla's Mountainside Alpacas, a beautiful farm just up the Blue Ridge Parkway from Meadows of Dan. And about this picture; I took several in front of the shop that day and this cloudy spot appeared on two of them. Do you suppose it's my resident ghost saying hello?

Tired pups 
Knightley and Emma are accompanying me to the shop every day and they've enjoyed greeting customers and getting into the routine. Emma is such a sweet and motherly girl. Knightley was sniffing at something last night in the bedroom and she growled him away from it. When I went to check, I realized that he had been investigating a dying wasp.

New hand dyed Greenberry House yarns
Tomorrow morning I'll be heading out early for my favorite festival of the year. Olde Liberty Fibre Faire is celebrating 9 years and I think I've been there for most of them. I really enjoy seeing everyone and it's delightful to see what everyone has been working on through the year. Come join us if you can!

What I'm spinning: hand dyed angora to be plied with merino singles
What I'm knitting: Quill shawl by Jared Flood
What I'm crocheting: Everything is resting
What I'm reading: Uprooted by Naomi Novik
Current sounds & sights for spinning along: Ally McBeal series on Netflix
How the diet is going: Diet?

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

And How Badly I Neglect this Faithful Page

But I do have a new project! Check out our podcast, about knitting, books, postcards and life in Meadows of Dan!

Friday, June 05, 2015

Back HOME in Meadows of Dan

Greenberry House, home at last on Squirrel Spur Road
I am so very, very happy to have the shop settled in my old house on Squirrel Spur Road. If you have been following this blog these many years, this is the house where I lived a long time and where my family lived when I was a child.

It's not good for business to bounce around from place to place, so I hope this is my last move. People seem to like the shop so far. I have a few signs to modify and lots of work to do to the yard and gardens but things are shaping up. It's amazing how much one old woman and two hungry goats can accomplish!

The goat girls and the hens
The goat girls seem to be happy here and it's fun to be able to have them around while I'm at work. Knightley is still coming along to work with me and I hope to have things set up after this weekend so Emma can join us. We've settled into a morning routine that is working pretty well. I get up and feed and walk the dogs, then I fix breakfast for Dad and Emma and I walk up Concord Road to deliver and do a few chores for him. Then I tend the goats and chickens, letting the goat girls out to graze for a little while before I transfer them from their night quarters in the chicken house to their daytime pen. If it's raining, they graze awhile and go back in with the chickens. Goats don't like wet weather!

One of our adventures along Concord Road; Emma and the snapping turtle.
Unless I'm pressed for time, I walk back with Emma home and I do a few chores there before I walk back up with Knightley to open the shop. If I don't have the time, I borrow Dad's car for the trip up and back. Usually I can do the walk. On Wednesdays and Fridays I work at Jerry and Connie's House of Collectibles so I take the car to not be so late taking Dad his supper. We're at the shop at 12206 Squirrel Spur Road from 10 AM to 5 PM Saturday through Tuesday. Thursday is my day "off" but mostly it seems like I'm running errands for Dad or doing laundry. Right after work I fix Dad some supper and gather the eggs while the goat girls have another chance to graze in the yard. In the evenings I generally walk one of the dogs back up to check on the animals after supper. This generally involves letting the goats have another graze, in addition to the time that they had right after I closed the shop. If I'm lucky friend Beth will walk with us and we do have some fun talking. It's nice to have someone along, especially since a lot of bears are around Meadows of Dan lately. When I'm alone, I talk to the dogs or sing!

Hard working Knightley
My good boy is generally pretty tired after a day at the shop. I've been keeping him in the kitchen and away from the sales floor most of the time while I get things organized. He still gets to greet people, tell me when folks arrive, let me know when the phone rings and just in general keep an eye on things. This all, along with the walking and a romp through the new-mowed fields when we get off work, makes for a tired dog in the evenings.

Nothing better than sitting with a spinning wheel, surrounded by books.
While I'm at work I'm generally cataloging books or poking through boxes to find stuff for eBay and the web sites. Sometimes I get the chance to spin for awhile, especially if someone comes in to visit or knit. The book room is shaping up to be a pleasant sitting room for our stitching group gatherings on Tuesdays and for people to drop in during the work week. The crafts and collectibles room is a riot of wonders and I'm already thinking about how I can expand the yarn and fiber space. The old kitchen is currently serving as my office but I'm thinking that the yarn and fiber may take over in there before long! There are already fleeces in the bathroom.

What I'm spinning: Some blended black wool and blue bling!
What I'm knitting: Thrummed mittens with alpaca
What I'm crocheting: Everything is resting.
What I'm reading: Someday I'll be able to read again!
Current sounds & sights for spinning along: Watching Warehouse 13 again.
How the diet is going: 17 pounds down!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Work, Work, Work, and Some More Work

100% Wool Batts from hand dyed and hand carded local wool

75% wool, 25% bamboo hand carded, hand dyed batt
And in between trying to tend to Dad and keep enough stuff on eBay to pay the bills, I've been taking care of the animals and trying to set the shop up for spring. It looks like late April for opening up right now. Looking forward to the festival in Bedford, Olde Liberty Fibre Faire, on April 18 and hope to have lots of wonderful stuff to offer.

What I'm spinning: Just finished spinning up the periwinkle wool yarn for Kathleen's sweater
What I'm knitting: Not much of anything; have a washcloth on the needles for when I have "free" time.
What I'm crocheting: Secret project for a friend.
What I'm reading: The Unfortunate Traveller by Thomas Nashe
Current sounds & sights for spinning along:  Midsomer Murders