Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Heading to Bedford, Virginia, for the Olde Liberty Fibre Faire

Sebastian, Hand dyed clouds of carded Tunis wool
I am in hopes, after such a long winter, that spring is finally coming to Squirrel Spur Road. Things have been busy; with one thing and another I have mostly been working for the past month. A fiber festival in Bedford, Virginia, is coming up this Saturday and it has been a frantic time getting new fiber and yarns ready to sell. Then I made yet another move with the business, to 12134 Squirrel Spur Road, and that entailed work that I hadn't really anticipated fitting into my schedule. I opened the shop this past weekend, and hours will be from 10 AM to 5 PM Friday, Saturday and Sunday the rest of this month, then 10 AM to 5 PM Thursday through Monday from May on. I will be sharing the building with another business, Mountain Meadow Farm and Craft Market. The location is very good; the space a good bit smaller and I'm really juggling to get everything looking good in my spots. This is just a few feet away from the last location and my old house on Squirrel Spur Road.

Knightley learning about horses on our walk
Daffodils are blooming, forsythia is starting to blossom and I'm seeing a haze of red and green buds on the trees as we walk every morning and evening. The chickens are laying well and the coop needs cleaning. Hoping to do that tomorrow after carding a lot of fiber that needs to be finished for the festival. After this week I hope things settle down a bit into our regular schedule. I've missed a few walks with the dogs and that's never good!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Springing Forward

Spinning Retreat at Hawks Nest State Park, West Virginia 
 The cycle of the year is continuing with days filled with lots of work, sunshine, walking dogs and tending chickens. We took a wonderful break from winter chores to attend the Fibernet spinning retreat at Hawks Nest at the end of last month and truly enjoyed every minute.

Another snowy morning 
After we came home we were hit with another snow but it wasn't as much as the storm before. When I looked out that morning a half dozen bright red cardinals were decorating the scene. Now the snow is gone and a killdeer is seeking out a place for nesting in the field above the shop. Robins have been sorting out their territories for awhile and I'm waiting to see the first red-winged blackbirds near the creek on the farm.

Keeping busy on a cold day 
Each of the dogs gets at least one walk a day on leash and when there is time we try to fit more walks into the routine. I have a wonderful friend who goes with me sometimes and then both dogs can have individual attention while we walk and talk. During the summer last year I took both for the morning walk but I can't quite manage it if the weather is slick or snowy. Since Knightley is older and discipline is very important with him, I may continue the walks alone with each of them. Emma enjoys having me to herself during her walk, I think. She gets to sleep with me and enjoys cuddle time along with Knightley but she also likes having the walk with me to share her little adventure. The dogs spent a lot of time playing with each other and their toys while I'm working. It seems that they are content as long as I'm nearby.

Thoughts of spring with ideas for planting and decorating mean a shift from the winter chores of hauling in wood and working on the computer. I've been spinning like mad, realizing that it will soon be time to open the shop and I need to have things ready. A lot of new things will be going into the shop, including some nice spinning related jewelry and a few good tools. Getting excited about opening and seeing people again after a long hard winter despite all the work involved in getting ready. Hope to see you there!

What I'm spinning: Plying hand dyed turquoise Tunis wool singles
What I'm knitting: Ojo de Dios Shawl
What I'm crocheting: Hibernating
What I'm reading: Easy mysteries and light novels
Current sounds & sights for spinning along: Old albums from my teenage years found on Spotify
How the diet is going: Working too hard to pay attention!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Snow Days

Snow Days on Concord Road
Two days of snow in Meadows of Dan resulted in 22 inches in our sheltered nook on Concord road. The wind blew during the storm and there are some drifts that are much deeper. As anyone knows that lives a country life, that much snow makes doing chores and tending animals much more difficult. Since the chickens are a mile away up on Squirrel Spur, it was a real challenge to make sure they were cared for yesterday. Fortunately one of the members of the chicken coop co-op enjoys cross country skiing. He has taken over morning duties and with the warmer temperatures that came along with the snow twice a day visits seem to be keeping the chickens comfortable.

I shoveled a path to the wood pile yesterday but the continuing snow filled it up again almost immediately. The path I made last night is mostly uncovered still, though. Yesterday afternoon I loaded a backpack with water for the chickens and broke through the drifts in the driveway to head over and tend the chickens for the evening. Fortunately a snow plow had gone down the road once on Wednesday so the snow on the road was only about 8 inches deep. Otherwise I would never have made it to the farm. The drifts were deep across the fields and it was something of a chore to make it to the coop and then to the house to take the eggs in, but I managed just fine, feeding the farm cat along the way. The skiing friend came along while I was discovering, to my dismay, that the freezer at the house is no longer working. More food for the chickens, unfortunately!

Snow Knightley
The dogs love the snow and play so hard that they are exhausted and quiet when they finally come inside. Which is nice for me and Linda, my new roommate. Knightley is doing very well with his hearing dog training. We've just started teaching him to alert me when someone says my name and he has caught on very quickly.

What I'm spinning: Hand dyed Jacob wool
What I'm knitting: A couple of projects started but little time to work on them.
What I'm crocheting: All hibernating
What I'm reading: Some mysteries, a history of King Henry VIII
Current sounds & sights for spinning along: Inspector Morse mystery series.
How the diet is going: Behaving fairly well.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Winter in Meadows of Dan

Proud Knightley
The forecast is for snow tomorrow. Despite our bitterly cold temperatures, we haven't had a significant snow event, as they call it these days. The wood pile is covered and there is a stack of wood waiting by the wood stove; I'm planning to take extra water over for the chickens in a little while so I won't have to carry it through the deep drifts that we might get if the snow they predict does happen. Right now the sky seems clear, although it is certainly cold enough for all sorts of interesting winter weather.

This morning was cold so I waited a little later than usual to tend the chickens, walking with Emma across the frozen field. When we got to the farm the two feral dogs that have been cruising the community for a year were down near the barn. These two dogs were abandoned by their owners and had to make shift to take care of themselves for awhile until a kind neighbor had them trapped and paid for shots and to have them spayed and neutered. They are still so wild that he cannot pet them despite trying to help them and feeding them for so long. Emma attacked one of them last summer for being in our yard and they don't come very near the house anymore.

It was obvious from their dog body language that the two dogs were guarding something down in the field. Recently we lost a couple of chickens, somehow, to some sort of animal and I was concerned that yet another might have fallen victim, this time to the dogs. The pen is very secure, however, and so is the chicken house; at least I really don't think dogs could get in. I secured Emma and walked down toward where the dogs were sitting. The black spotted one (they appear to be cattle dog mixes) headed up the pumpkin patch toward Concord Road when he saw me but the brown spotted female was more reluctant to leave her prize. She picked up up and trotted with it a few steps before fear overcame her and she left it.

When I got close enough I could see that their meal was a freshly killed adult wild rabbit. I moved away immediately on seeing what it was, concerned that the dogs would abandon their meal. The brown dog stopped at the edge of the pumpkin patch and dropped to the ground, then rolled over in what looked like a submissive gesture a good distance away from me. Was she asking me not to take her precious food? Or was she asking permission to retrieve it? She got to her feet and then bowed to me, as if to play. I went inside the chicken house and looked out a few moments later to see her pick up her rabbit and trot quickly across the field, to remove it to a safer and more private spot.

These dogs do have a safe place to sleep, when they chose to do so, at the home of their friend who is trying to help them. I hope they head there before the snow comes, if it happens, and are comfortable during the storm. I put the dogs situation in the little book I wrote, A Knightley's Tale, and compared their lives to what my two pampered pets experience. They do have fun and seem as happy as dogs can be that are so frightened all the time, but their lives are in constant jeopardy from speeding cars, other dogs, coyotes, bears and illness. I'm not sure the freedom is worth the pain for dogs in this world these days. I am watching my two, healthy, romping in the floor and surrounded by their toys, secure that they are loved and a meal will be waiting for them if it's time. The two feral dogs have a chance at a happy home but fear holds them back; they just can't bring themselves to trust the people that would care for them. It's sad to think that their experience of humans has been so painful.

What I'm spinning: Hand dyed Jacob wool
What I'm knitting: A couple of projects started but little time to work on them.
What I'm crocheting: All hibernating
What I'm reading: Some mysteries, a history of King Henry VIII
Current sounds & sights for spinning along: Inspector Morse mystery series.
How the diet is going: Behaving fairly well.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Tending and Spinning and Knitting

Hand spun worsted weight Texel wool yarn 
And at last I have been spinning. Winter is halfway over and I really need to have some new yarns to sell this year at the shop. I don't think I produced a single new yarn this past year, what with one thing and another. Not good! This is a lovely, lofty yarn spun from Texel wool. Texel is a heritage breed from the Netherlands. I helped at the sheep shearing day and bought the fleece, then had it processed into roving. I dyed this a couple of years ago and decided it was time to spin it late last fall. I started spinning but got distracted and finally got back to it the last couple of days. One skein already sold and one is left at my Greenberry House web site.

Now I'm spinning some Jacob wool that I dyed in pink and yellow. The wool was some I got online cheap because the farmer had let the sheep lay in pine shavings on shearing day. That wasn't much of a problem, but the wool isn't a very good quality, either. So I'm spinning it myself rather than try to sell it to someone. With work it's spinning into a nice yarn. My cousin carded it for me over the summer and she did a good job with it.

Paula Reversible Poncho
And I have been knitting. I have been knitting when I should have been spinning, but I fell in love with this pattern and found that I had some gray wool yarn and a laceweight cone that I could knit along with the gray for some sparks of color. I really like how it turned out. This is the Paula Reversible Poncho by Lene Holme Sams√łe and can be found in the book Essentially Feminine Knits. I made it a little longer than the pattern calls for. If I make it again I would do the increases a bit different. Doing them as the pattern says along the purl stitches of the rib shows and makes a bit of a break in the smoothness of the rib.

It has been an unusually cold January and that has made it easier to stay in and get work done along with the spinning and knitting. I'm still walking the dogs up as often as I can to tend to the chickens but the colder days aren't as much fun. Today it's snowing and very cold but it's lovely to see out the window. The chickens are doing well with the weather so far with some management from the co-op. I go up three times a day most days and the others check in during the day to replace frozen water and check for the eggs. This makes it much easier, of course! I'm looking forward to the summer when I can be with the chickens more and let them out into the yard to roam and find fresh nibbles for themselves.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Snow at Last!

Snow in Meadows of Dan

We finally had some snow yesterday afternoon and into the evening. Not a lot but by the middle of January we have often had a good bit more snow than we've seen this year. With the cold temperatures, it seems that we deserve to at least see some pretty along with the chill.

Morning chores with the chickens
It was 13 degrees when I got up this morning so I waited until after the sun had been up quite awhile before I went to let the chickens out. Their dirt run was snowed over so I spread out some hay we had tucked away to cover up the snow and mud. I thought I had spread it out better than this but by the time I had a chance to take the picture the chickens had been doing some housekeeping and rearranging of the hay. Even though the air temperature was just 19, melting ice was dripping off the edge of the coop overhang.

We saw lots of tracks in the new snow as I walked with Emma along Concord Road. She is mostly head down, nose alert, along the way. Sometimes I wonder if she has a mental image to connect with all the scents she discovers. Does she know that this scent means a fox, or that one a deer? I know she has seen deer and squirrels and mice, but I don't know that she has seen every animal that crosses our path. She finds some scents so exciting that she vibrates over them, curly tail electrified. Others are merely worth a sniff and a glance. Often she ignores the tracks I can see in favor of a trail invisible. A squirrel scampered across the road in front of us this morning, leaving the corn maze for the shelter of the little woods.

Today will be a day of catching up and cleaning house. The dogs are sleeping sound after a big romp in the snow and the wood stove is crackling. The sun outside is already melting the snow away and the sky is a brilliant blue.

What I'm spinning: Hand dyed Border Springs Farm Texel Roving
What I'm knitting: Paula Reversible Poncho by Lena Holme Samsoe
What I'm crocheting: Everything is resting
What I'm reading: Calling Invisible Women by Jeanne Ray
Current sounds & sights for spinning along: Campion Mystery series
How the diet is going: Lots of exercise

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Bitter Weather

Ice along Concord Creek
Like most of the rest of North America, Meadows of Dan saw some bitter temperatures and high winds yesterday. I watched the thermometer drop to nine below zero through Monday night but the preparations I made for myself and the animals kept us all safe. The dogs have been very patient with the extremely short walks we've been taking and I suppose they instinctively knew that the weather was dangerously cold. The chickens spent yesterday in the coop with the windows and doors closed, and they got extra visits from the coop co-op while I was given a ride up to take care of them during the morning hours.

The highest temperature for the day that I saw was 10 above, but the van started and I was able to go over to the shop and collect more wood when I tended the chickens in the afternoon. While everything was fine in the house where I live, there was a problem over at the farm where the shop is. The water to my sister-in-law's house froze down in the spring house. This has happened to my side of the system before, during the winter we had so much snow, so I imagine I know what happened. When my part froze, it was because the water was turned off on Sue's side. Their pipe froze back into my lines. Since I turned off the water to the shop in November, I imagine that the same thing happened, in reverse, when the bitter cold hit Monday night. My brother came over when he saw me stacking the wood and we went down in the basement to turn the pump off. Going into my basement is an adventure, because the stairs collapsed awhile back and I need to use a ladder. Since I only go down there about twice a year, I haven't been too worried about replacing the stairway. I'd like to do some remodeling of that part of the house but finances haven't allowed yet.

I left my poor brother fighting his way past the briers into the spring house. Been there and done that numerous times myself, so I headed home to tend the fire and take Knightley for a short walk before it got so desperately cold again. My brother is a bluegrass musician, Sammy Shelor, so this will give you a peek at the glamour of a musician's life. Someday I will have to tell the story of the day I went to pick him up after he had been working on the band bus exhaust system.

Several people had frozen pipes in their houses but as far as I know most people managed OK during the cold. It is unusual for us to see such cold temperatures here in Meadows of Dan, although the year I moved into the house on the farm we saw 18 below zero and every pipe in that house shattered. Today things have warmed up a lot and we're supposed to see much warmer temperatures and rain for the weekend. Much easier walking dogs and tending chickens when that happens!