Thursday, September 26, 2013

Never say never

I spent my sophomore year in college as an exchange student in Sweden. I learned a lot of things, like Swedish, and how to folk dance, and what marzipan is. Most of these things I've forgotten, like Swedish, or never tried again, like folk dancing, or didn't really care for anyway, like marzipan. One of the things that DID stick with me though was knitting and an undying love of fiber.

This was back in the 80s. Remember the 80s? In the States, nobody knit. At least, not college kids. But in Sweden, everybody knit. Even the men knit. So, the Swedish college students taught the American college students how to knit. It was a little like the folk dancing. We thought it was quaint. I made one complete sweater while there. As I recall, I wasn't crazy about the sweater so I gave it to a friend.

Little did I know, that unlike the folk-dancing, the knitting would stick with me forever.  I loved being able to knit. Once back home I knit and knit and knit. By the time I finished college I'd made sweaters for everybody I knew. And I'd discovered yarn stores. Oh, be still my heart.

By the time I got to graduate school I was ready to branch out. I tried a few other crafts. I learned to throw (pottery). I spent hours and hours in the studio instead of the lab. My studies suffered, not surprisingly. By the time I hit upon the idea of weaving, I'd already dropped out of school, tried out two other career paths and somewhat reluctantly gone back to where I'd left off in school. My mother heard my weaving ideas with her usual tolerance, then suggested I get my life in order and my career secured before I tried to learn. I agreed to try.

That was 1991. If I'd realized how long it would take to get my life in order I never would have agreed.

All of which is the long way of saying, I am finally learning to weave. I went to my third class today and I have an actual project started on the loom.

Can you see me now Mom?

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Paris lays an egg

The other day I noticed that one of our Orpingtons was missing. We got five Orpington pullets from the hatchery back in April and until recently we couldn't tell one from the other. Then I got leg bands. Now, we know for a fact that the one who always lags behind is Chicken Blue (she of the blue leg band) and the one who disappears every morning is Paris, owner of the red band.

The first time I noticed Paris gone, I went searching for her and found her well out of the chicken yard, past Annie and Josie's paddock, behind the barn, in a tangle of weeds at the base of a collection of unused t-posts. She was laying an egg. I collected the egg and took the chicken, now clearly a hen, back to the chicken yard. I didn't trust her to find her way back on her own I guess.

The next day I didn't notice her disappear, but I did think to check behind the barn. I found another egg. The third day, same thing, another egg.

What surprises me is not that the chicken can get out of the chicken yard -- our fence is afterall more suggestion than actual barricade. It's a wonder any of the chickens stay in. No, what surprises me is that she leaves so deliberately, completes her mission, and then makes her way back in as though it never happened.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Change in the air

I was just driving back from the feed store with a load of hay, listening to NPR. Somebody was doing a piece on how far the country has come (or not) since the failure of Lehman Brothers five years ago.

I can tell you one thing that has changed -- the process for getting mortgages is about a zillion times more onerous. I know, cause I just sent in the last piece of paperwork for the loan on our new property (the place next door). Woohoo. I used the same mortgage broker this time that I used when we bought the current property just over two years ago. We do almost all our communication by email, including passing documents back and forth. Two years ago, it took about 25 emails to get the job done. This time it has taken closer to 60. The amount of paperwork required, were it in actual paper form, would bury me. I'd have to buy a house just to store it. The underwriters have required documentation of pretty much every breath I've taken since I signed the contract.

And now, having documented every inch of my life--past, present, and future--the end is within sight. We are set to sign the papers next week.

It was not my original intention, but now I think the 12-year-old and I will move into the bigger, newer house on the property. In the long run, I'd like to use the original farmhouse where we currently live as a farm office/guest house. In the short run though, I'm leaning towards renting it out to a nice lady who keeps a horse at the stables across the road. She is willing to help out in the barn here in return for lower rent and I could use both the cash and the help. My only hesitation comes from losing daily access to this little farmhouse that I have grown attached to. Yes, the plumbing sucks. Yes, it is too small for us. Yes, it is dark inside. But it is the heart of this farmstead and my plans for this farm, such as they are, have grown around it. So it is not easy to give it over to a stranger. Though that is the wiser thing to do.

I haven't had a chance to think about the logistics of getting our stuff out of the one house and over to the other. It's probably less than 500 ft as the crow files (or as the chicken waddles), but I can no more carry a sofa 500 ft than I can 5 miles, so arrangements will have to be made.

I can, however, walk the ponies to the new pastures with no extra planning at all. This will be the biggest moment of all. I can not wait to get my hands on those pastures. The 3 big ponies (Josie the appaloosa, Annie the hackney pony and Shadowfax the POA) are destined for the big new pastures and the three stalls at the back of the pasture barn. The sheep and goats will also move to that barn if I can figure out a way to divide the space. There's 2500 sq ft under the roof, but the only space that has been subdivided so far is three stalls and a small tack room in the back. The rest is open.

Much work to be done.

Much change coming.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Missed opportunities

Why did no one tell me horses could do this?  I need to have a talk with my ponies.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

I was thinking of getting a herding dog...or maybe a rabbit.

See the bunny in action here. (It's worth dealing with the ad.)

and to see just what a big difference a soundtrack can make, check out the original version here.

Yeah, work is kicking my butt these days. This is all I've got.