Wednesday, October 31, 2007

As October Ends....

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First I have to share this picture of a darling little sheep, crocheted by my sweet friend Carissa. She (the sheep, not Carissa!) arrived as a surprise in my mail box this week ~ just as a pick me up and a reminder that I have friends who pray for me! She is made from handspun wool, from one of our sheep named Coryn. Carissa washed, carded and spun the wool herself.

It is the last day of October. Do any of you read Glady Taber of Stillmeadow fame? I think I began reading her books when I was in sixth grade. Our old junior high library had them on the shelves and so did our local Carnegie Library. At even a young age, and even being the farm girl/tomboy that I was, I loved her stories. I still do, and have a few of them in my personal "library" that I re-read often. From one, a collection edited by Mrs. Taber's daughter Constance called The Best of Stillmeadow, I read this:

"As October ends, the air begins to smell of windfalls that have been frosted. The leaves drift down and most of the branches are bare. We see more sky. Night shuts down early.....the mornings have a sparkle and I love to see the shadow of the house silver with frost when sun has melted the rest of the crystals on the lawn. Next week, I think, we might take the screens off."

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This morning I stopped along the lane that runs next to the woods on our Burnham Farm property (maybe you can see the hay wagon in the distance?) As I paused to photograph the view, the wind kicked up and leaves came drifting down around me.

Maybe next week, we will take screens off, too.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Evening Chores...

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(Evening chores ~ and a nice, clean barn!)

By tomorrow night, the October moon will be full, in all of its glory...but it is already close! Last night it shone brightly in my bedroom window, which faces east. This morning it hung over the western sky and peeked in on me as I did the breakfast dishes. As it sank towards that horizon, it grew larger and brighter - glowing red orange before it sank behind the trees.

Tonight as I did the evening chores, the ewes left their pasture and crowded into the newly cleaned barn to see what I was up to. As I looked out at them, I could see the moon rising above the trees again. I couldn't get a great picture because of the fading light outside, but a few of them turned out okay. Here is one of the group:

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And this one, though even more blurry, is of Alex's yearling ewe Coryn - sniffing to see if I might be hiding any sheep cookies.

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I stayed outside until it was really dark and getting too cold. I expect a hard frost tonight.

Good night, Sheep. Good night, Moon.

Simple Home Gifts

Recently, I participated in a simple autumn swap with some of the ladies that read Peggy's blog. Here is what I received from Peggy, who was swapping to me:

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This is a discloth (knit by Peggy?) and the sweetest little tea light candle holder in the shape of a leaf! I just love it and have it sitting here on the window ledge next to my desk. Oh, and there was also a fragranced tea light that I have already had burning in the kitchen ;)

I have a package to send to my swappee - Kay at The Rustic Cottage (who might think I have forgotten all about her....I haven't Kay, I promise!) I have had the package ready, all it needs is a trip to town and the post office. I hope that might happen today or tomorrow. I need to get this off before Autumn becomes Winter!

Yesterday, we had a work-bee at Serenity Farms! Friends (and my Dad!) gathered to help me clean out the barn in preparation for winter. The skid steer loader and younger arms and backs than mine made some pretty quick work of it all!

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(Note to Family ~ a skid steer loader is now at the top of my Christmas wish list - grin. Only I would like one with a smaller bucket across the front...something that will fit through the five foot wide box stall doors, please. And thank you in advance ~ I know I will love it and use it often!)

The manure pile is gone - spread across the now empty bean field to fertilize, and I have a pile of mostly composted sheep manure sitting next to my perennial beds waiting to be put away. I made a simple lunch for the workers of beef stew and buttermilk biscuits, warm homemade applesauce and chocolate cake with ice cream for desert. I know that Bill really enjoyed the company, especially at lunch! Last night was a lovely full moon that rose in the east to shine in my bedroom window and set in the west in a glow of orange while I did the morning dishes.

Next up is putting the storm windows in the barn and then - happy day - putting the rams and ewes together for breeding season. Autry is more than ready, and spends his days at the gate to his pasture staring intently at the barn (ewes are on the other side of the barn) This is him, along with his buddy, Alex's wether Carson (who has managed to lose his coat. And Autry's is torn, needs patching) Don't you think he looks a little lovesick?

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There is always work to be done on the farm. Simple, satisfying work.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Rest Secure This Eventide

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The sun declines; o’er land and sea
Creeps on the night;
The twinkling stars come one by one
To shed their light;
With Thee there is no darkness, Lord;
With us abide,
And ’neath Thy wings we rest secure
This eventide.

Forgive the wrong this day we’ve done,
Or thought, or said;
Each moment with its good or ill
To Thee has fled;
O Father, in Thy mercy great
Will we confide;
Thy benediction now bestow
This eventide.

~ THE SUN DECLINES by Robert Walmsley

Somehow, I feel like my prayer for the night should be these words...a verse, from STARS OF EVENING SOFTLY GLEAMING by Mary Whiting
Heavenly Father! watch beside us
Till the dawn of light,
And whatever may betide us,
Guard us by thy might!
Trusting in thy gracious keeping,
Calmly sleeping
Through the night.

~ Amen

(If you have never visited this site, Cyberhymnal, you should treat yourself! It is a treasure)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

And now Cherries....

Or rather, Cherry Blossoms in the form of the Hanami Stole - another brilliant creation of Melanie at Pink Lemon Twists.

Here is my very slow progress on Hanami. I am working as part of the Hanami KAL, which ends in less than two weeks - LOL! I doubt I will be finished by then, but it is so enjoyable it shouldn't take me to long. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you may remember that I was spinning for and started working on Mystery Stole 3 earlier this year. I just wasn't feeling a good connection to the pattern, but loving the yarn and having the utmost respect for Melanie I wanted to continue on with one of her patterns. Along came T & J (Baad Medicine) with the Hanami KAL and I jumped in.

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You might notice a faint line towards the bottom of the knitting where my yarn was spun a little thinner in that area....I am hoping it doesn't show much in the final product. I can feel it more than I can see it.

And a few close ups of the beads on the edging - I love the ivory pearl classic sheen of them against the creamy ivory of the Corriedale yarn from The Whites (the white sheep in my flock) I had not originally intended to include beads, but after seeing several of the progress photos at the KAL site I changed my mind!

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One thing that I don't think the photos properly portray is the total squooshiness of this yarn! I dont' know if "squooshiness" is even a word, but it accurately describes the way my Corriedale yarn feels. It isn't silky, it isn't fuzzy, it isn't slinky or is 100% Michigan Corriedale - soft, bouncy, warm, soft, comfort wool (and yes I meant to say "soft" twice!) It spins like a dream and brings me such joy to knit.

I am so happy with it, I spun another full bobbin this morning and then had to go and share my joy with "the girls" Its raining today, so they are hanging out in the barn.

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Thank you, Girls. Even though Charlotte, on the far left next to the wall, is the only white sheep in the photo...the rest are there, too.

(Can you believe it - no posts for a month and then two in one day!?!)

Peaches, Pumpkins, Apples

At shop knitting last night, I was firmly reminded that I had not updated my blog in quite some time and that I better get busy ;) So here I am...would you like a look through the lens at some of my creative activities lately? Lets start with this, my attempt at an "artsy" shot (I call this one "Peachy Flock"....grin):

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The yarn is some that I dyed for a workshop I taught last weekend. The wool is 100% Michigan raised Columbia from my friend Lori at Country Willow Farm (no website yet). I blended dyes and came out with some great warm peachy cream colors that just glow! So I had to hang the yarn from my lonely peach tree and the flock just happened to be in the background!

More dyeing for that weekend are these lengths of Corriedale top:

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I used exactly the same colors on both, but the one on the left is "spot dyed" leaving plenty of white space and the one of the right is in solid blocks of color. I love the autumn tones in this. It is a real mix of dyes, though, with Cushings Hunter Green, Jacquards Pumpkin Orange (toned down with a little Jacquards Chestnut) and Gaywools Garnet and Raspberry. I will try to remember to post a photo of the resulting yarn in a future post.

While we are on the subject of dyeing, I want to say a huge thank you to my buddies Maple and Mary for their help and contribution to the dyeing workshop. Maple taught and Mary made treats and the three of us together organized! Also, thanks to the wonderful "students" who participated...they were a great bunch and we really appreciated them all.

Hmmm, what else have I been doing? Lots of knitting and some spinning, as well as trying to prepare the house and gardens for the winter that promises to be just around the corner. Had the furnace serviced, son-in-law took out the air conditioner and it is stored away. I put the storms back on the basement windows. Next week one of our dear family friends and my dad are coming up to work on getting my sheep pens completely cleaned out (haul manure!) so I will be ready for lambing next spring. Manure will be spread on the farm fields. We are changing our system a bit at Serenity Farms this year. With all the pasture available to the sheep now that the horses are gone, I will be lambing later in the year to take best advantage of the grass feed for the ewes and lambs. So the rams have to wait a few more weeks before they go courting ;) They will be turned in with ewes the first week of November, with a goal of April lambs.

What knitting, you ask? Where is the proof??? Well, here is a peek at my coffee cup socks, warm and toasty on my feet (along with my attractive plaid pajama pants!)

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The pattern is my own, and it is a simple one really, though I have written two variations to go along with it (think Latte with Whipped Cream on top, and for my tea drinking friends, we have a Tea Cup variation) In our sock knitting group at my LYS, we are knitting this pattern - the group is kindly working as test knitters for me. When we are completely through and have possible errors corrected, the pattern will be available.

A project waiting to be started is this future felted bag:

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Working at the yarn shop one day, I just couldn't resist these colors! In some light, they remind me of the colors of the leaves turning in the Burnham woods and in others they remind me of McIntosh Apples!

I also have some unbelievable new rovings to show you. Just imagine some luxurious, plush, inspiring blends of Corriedale - some with silk, some with kid mohair, some with pygora, some with alpaca....yummy! That post will have to wait a few days ~ I think maybe on Friday I will have some pictures to share with you.

What projects are you all working on? I love to hear and see what everyone else is doing to prepare for cooler weather!