Whilst the winds blow…


Planning a vegetable garden,a flower garden, perhaps an herb garden? If you have fiber animals, or are a fiber fanatic like me; your thoughts may also lead you to planning a garden for color…fiber color. There is no need to have an entire garden devoted to natural dyes…just add some plants that will grow in your area (zone); take rhubarb for instance, anyone can grow rhubarb- heck you may already have some in your yard. A much unappreciated plant, (unless you make rhubarb jelly, crumble or pie) It thrives in almost any garden. The tuberous, fibrous tissue at the base of the leaf-stalks feels sticky and soapy when skinned and sliced, but when boiled for an hour so, and strained, yields a lovely color – a serious pastel-yellow. Approximately 90% of all plants yield some shade of yellow…

Dye plants may interest the gardener who is also a spinner or fiber artist. Nature has its own palette of colors with dozens of dye possibilities, which even include some nuts, fruits, vegetables and other common foods and fungus (yup, fungus).Natural dyes are everywhere, colors can even come from tree leaves ; berries ; herbs, nuts and shells,and barks.

Growing the dye plants is easy, and can be fun project. But getting the most vivid colors from plant pigments and making more permanent dyes involves mordanting, or treating the fiber before you dye it with a metallic compound, such as alum.
Mordanting is a process..so more on that in another post. I will also post on needed equipment.

Different parts of the plants yield different colors…

Plants yield these colors most commonly, yellows and tans, blues, and reds; believe it or not, green is the most difficult color to achieve – seems odd doesn’t it.
Some plants you might consider:
Woad for true blues(a very, very invasive weed-take good care with this one)
Madder for intense orange, scarlet and plum
Saint John’s wort for gold, maroon and green
Sunflowers for deep olive greens
Hollyhocks for yellow, mahogany and reddish black
Purple loose strife for gold, brown and black (another invasive plant)
Weld for strong clear yellow
Coreopsis for deep yellows, oranges, browns and maroon
Lady’s bedstraw for orange, gold and pinky red

Well, I have to get back to ordering seeds and chicks…I will try not to be too over-zealous in my pursuit of both…

Speaking of pursuits, pictures from our December barn rescue(partial rescue):
winter weeds

barn old

winter barn

winter closed

winter doors

barn 029.1

winter saving

Be Well,
Jess

Baby, it’s cold outside…


I Do Not Mind You, Winter Wind

(Jack Prelutsky)

I do not mind you, Winter Wind
when you come whirling by,
to tickle me with snowflakes
drifting softly from the sky.

I do not even mind you
when you nibble at my skin,
scrambling over all of me
attempting to get in.

But when you bowl me over
and I land on my behind,
then I must tell you, Winter Wind,
I mind . . . I really mind!

The wood furnace is dancing with flames, hardly struggling to keep our little cottage farmhouse warm. But boy, is it cold outside; it was -17 in the pre-dawn hours and up to a brisk -5 as I headed out to do morning chores, and check on the chicks and ducks, needed to be sure I didn’t have any “chooksicles”. All was as it should have been; animals in their nests of hay. It even looked as though Syria, our oldest llama had made her own nest of hay; though it was supposed to be her and everyone else’s breakfast..silly girl.

After the chores were done, both outside and in..I settled in to sip hot tea and knit. I am trying to finish a lacy patterned brushed suri, ear warming, head band for Jenn. Then a bit of spinning,I have finished a skein of llama/merino blend yarn(I am not sure what I am going to make that into).

Funny how each season sets it’s own rhythm on a farm. Nature eases you from one season to the next, each with it’s own flurry of activity. Reminding us to enjoy, if you wish, the comfort of home on a cold winter’s day, the refreshing nip of the wind in October, and the warmth of the sun’s rays in May. ( May plantings,oh shivers xoxox)

Time to warm the Earl Grey…

spinnings
A blend of llama and merino…

Chet
Chester, is grateful for his spring shearing…He would be way too hot in his fiberluscious coat all summer.

LLaLLa
Thank you for the fiber LLala..(Shangrala)

llama rovings
Llama rovings…

rovings
Merino rovings purchased at the Rhinebeck Sheep & Wool festival.

kromski My Favorite wheel…a Kromski castle style single treadle.

my wheel 2
..such a pretty wheel,they make.

wheels 2
flyer, whorl, and maidens…

Kromski wheel 2.0
:)

lazy kate
The lazy kate…used when plying the fiber.

Be well, stay warm.
Jess

I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult.


I am not complaining, I love my little farm, and all of its critters…yet, there are mornings I would rather not venture out quite so early. Like this morning all damp, and cold. Once I step out of the kitchen door, everything seems as it should and I relax in to the morning’s flow of activity ~ happily ~ if not admittedly a  skosh weary.

October snowfall 1

Mind you this is not a glamorous undertaking.
This is how I usually go about my chores:

Farm Fashion, or early chore attire

By the time I get out the sun is usually cresting just above the east hills; the roosters are crowing, the ducks are squawking; and the llamas are chewing their cud quietly greeting the new day. They all know the routine; the girls (llamas) line up at the fence line. The Chickens and ducks come running full steam ahead to greet me raucously at the fence gate; ducks scurrying past the Roosters so as not get pecked.

I call him Mr. Nasty...this could be an entire blog. Let's just say he makes egg gathering an adventure.

I call him Mr. Nasty…this could be an entire blog. Let’s just say he makes egg gathering an adventure.

We use large round bales, and have a covered shed for the girls to munch at their leisure, just outside of their barn. This morning it was empty, wiped clean…guess that is where I will start this mornings chores… The farm truck is at work with Howie, so I’ll cut the twine surrounding the huge bales, then pull down the hay that peels off in fragrant sheets, layer by layer; fill the wheelbarrow and head up the hill to the girls shed – repeated as necessary. Gym membership, who needs a gym membership? My blood pressure is 112/60, my pulse is 62! Who ever would like to save their membership fees…come on over.
snowy morning in December 7
Morning goes something like this…
smooch big dogs
feed big dogs
love
start tea water (and/or have a cuppa coffee)
fill water buckets
fill dog and cat waters
lay out 14 feed bowls
measure out sweet mix for all llamas
measure out beet pulp for all llamas
fill bucket with layer pellets
make tea..(if I haven’t had coffee)
let dogs out
Andy Claus
carry 12 of the bowls to the girls pasture
carry 4 bowls to stud pasture
fill poultry grain feeder
gather eggs as I defend my legs against Mr. Nasty (bantam rooster with king sized attitude) – no eggs today :(
carry water bucket to replenish girls water
carry water bucket to replenish studs water
carry water bucket to replenish poultry water
bring hay to the girls
pick up all bowls
pick water buckets
dogs and I head in…In that moment – animals fed and watered,on this damp cold morning, the smell of hay and the sound of llamas chewing contentedly,dogs frolicking in the yard… I am at peace. Maybe mornings aren’t so dreadful after all.

good morning

Note to self…remember to enjoy tea!

care
Have a blessed day,
Be well
Jess

Rhinebeck in Pictures


To say this fairgrounds is gorgeous is an understatement.

I had a blast! I met so many nice people. People who genuinely care about animals and where the products (think fiber, lots of fiber and yarn) the adore come from. People from the city, the country, farms, wonderful people from; Great Britain, Austria, Germany, Canada, France, Switzerland…my gosh, I was smiling so hard.

Andy did so well I was so proud of him, with KatDoll looking after him every moment, she literally didn’t want him out of her sight. She is the sweetest.

Rather than blather on…a slide show just for you.

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Hang on…I’ll tell you the “real”(and why it took me this long to post pictures) story tomorrow.

Be Well,
Jess

A Painted Chevy, and a challenge for you…


I am sure this is exactly what Howie had in mind when thinking of his Rat Rod….(Oh, right I keep forgetting about the Rat part of that description). Well, anyway; I thought it would be great to use the truck in the new design for our [Misty Maples Farm]farm banner. What do you think?

I would like to paint something into the little trailer, only I am not sure what? After working on the painting for 6 hours yesterday; my creativity must have been spent. I thought of the folks who read this little blog, aha, moment! You should choose.
So, I leave it up to you to choose what should be in the trailer. If you would?
If I choose your idea, I will send you a dozen (yet to be designed)Christmas cards featuring the painting. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!


Not sure if this will be of any assistance, but, we have chickens, ducks, dogs, llamas, and soon Angora Goats here on our farm. I spin fiber, knit, and attempt to crochet the fiber.

Be well,
Jess

When life hands you tomatoes….


Make sauce…
I wasn’t sure what this dry, dry summer would bring at the harvest; smaller heads of cabbage, less tomatoes on the vine, stunted carrots… well, happily none of the above. I even had a few bunches of grapes on my baby vines!

I credit the llama manure,and the toppings of straw and lawn clippings that I used to keep the beds covered. We did get about an inch of rain a few nights ago, but at last check we were still about 6 inches below the norm ~ leading to dry wells and brown lawns.

Brown lawn and a green, full garden; I’ll take it. With the air a bit cooler this week, (and Howie away in Jacksonville, Fl. on work) I filled my days working in the garden, harvesting veggies,herbs, and caring for the animals…I also tried my hand at blending Merino wool with KatDoll’s fiber. (I am a spinning fool, some days).
back to te sauce; I made a simple seasoned sauce to be used as a soup base, tomatoes soup, or a pasta sauce beginning…

To begin you need to prepare the Roma tomatoes: 20 pounds or there about…
* no bruised or or overly soft tomatoes please
Boil a big pot of water:
place the cleaned tomatoes, a few at a time in the large pot of boiling water for no more than 1 minute (30 – 45 seconds is usually enough)
then….

Plunge them into a waiting bowl of ice water.
The peels will pull right off.

After peeling the skins off the tomatoes. Removing seeds, and juice is a bit messy, but necessary, or you will have a very seedy, watery sauce, not at all appealing. So just give your tomatoes a squeeze, and scoop out the seeds You don’t need to all crazy about it…just get most. I bet there are neater ways of doing this ,but .. I just give em a squeeze.

Place the tomatoes into a colander or strainer, as you go. letting water to drain; I have a glass bowl under the strainer to save the fresh tomato juices. ( save the juice for cooking or strain and drink cold)

Simple sauce:
saute, in olive oil;
2 cups chopped fresh onions
2 tablespoons chopped celery
3 clove of garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons chopped sweet peppers
You want to infuse the chopped veggies with flavor at this point, so keep the heat low and slow, I add sea salt , black pepper, and other seasonings at this point( I usually taste to see what it needs) use the seasoning you like it’s your sauce after all..
As you are sauteing the veggies, have the peeled and squeezed tomatoes softly simmering in your pot with:
3 Tablespoons of oregano
2 bay leaves ( remove these after simmering)
2 Tablespoons diced,fresh basil
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoon Sea salt

Add sauteed seasoned veggies, and continue to gently simmer, let the mixture reduce to a consistency of your liking. I also use a submersible hand held blender to give a smoother texture.
Your kitchen will smell luscious!
Enjoy or freeze for later. I am purposely not recommending this for canning, as I am not certain it has the proper acidity level to maintain freshness.

Be well,
Jess

You’ve got the cutest little baby face…well some of you.


It that time of year again, County Fairs, State Fairs and animals on parade. We always head straight to the animal barns, then to the produce displays, followed by Howie’s need to see every piece of machinery known to man…while we were looking about at antique water pumps, wood splitters and steam engines; I came across these honey extractors and thought of Miss C . Wonder if she could use this?

It looks pretty deep, and with her many gallons of honey it may make short work of the extraction process.

I could oogle over these baby faces all day.

This little Jersey calf was born 1 day before the fair…wonder what she thinks of the world?

Some kids, have their own idea of comfort.

While other are just too sleepy to care….shhh…look at those lashes.

I have heard of folks dressing up for the fair; but this is ridiculous! Wonder who his hair dresser is?

Well hello there big guy! He looks too proud to be in jail…(I think I am funny, just smile and nod)

This white peacock is stunning, I think. It was difficult to get a good vantage point, he might have been camera shy.

She’s got legs…I am certain her Mamma thinks she’s cute.

Do you think I could fit this little girl in the back of a Volvo wagon? Well, I could try…but, she probably wouldn’t like me very much after. I guess I have to wait for a Jersey calf, and some cashmere goats, and a few Wensleydale sheep, and, and, and….Might be time to go home.

I will be back at the fair today, spinning with my new friends ( just met Lisa yesterday – smiling really hard.)
Be well.
Jess

Bountiful..or one bunch


It’s all relative isn’t it? Bounty.

This may not look like much to you…but, alas, it is this gardener’s crowning glory. Juicy purple goodness..my first grapes from this years seedling!!! Yippee.


cabbage green, tomatoes red and purple GRAPES.


Jack’s lantern…


There comes a time when autumn asks, What have you been doing all summer?


The foliage has been losing its freshness through the month of August, and here and there a yellow leaf shows
itself like the first gray hair amidst the locks of a beauty who has seen one season too many;I grow old, I grow old,’ the garden says. Thanks for the bounty, says I.

Be well,
Jess

Why do they they do it….for love.


Why do farmers farm, given their economic adversities on top of the many frustrations and difficulties normal to farming? And always the answer is: “Love. They must do it for love.” Farmers farm for the love of farming.


They love to watch and nurture the growth of plants.


They love to live in the presence of animals.


They love to work outdoors.


They love the weather, maybe even when it is making them miserable.


They love to live where they work and to work where they live.


If the scale of their farming is small enough, they like to work in the company of their children and with the help of their children. They love the measure of independence that farm life can still provide. I have an idea that a lot of farmers have gone to a lot of trouble merely to be self-employed to live at least a part of their lives without a boss.


“The first supermarket supposedly appeared on the American landscape in 1946. That is not very long ago.

Until then, where was all the food?


Dear folks, the food was in homes, gardens, local fields, and forests. It was near kitchens, near tables, near bedsides. It was in the pantry, the cellar, the backyard.” Joel Salatin, Folks, This Ain’t Normal: A Farmer’s Advice for Happier Hens, Healthier People, and a Better World.


‎A farm is a manipulative creature. There is no such thing as finished.


Work comes in a stream and has no end. There are only the things that must be done now and things that can be done later. The threat the farm has got on you, the one that keeps you running from can until can’t, is this: do it now, or some living thing will wilt or suffer or die. Its blackmail, really.

A farmer friend of mine told me recently about a busload of middle school children who came to his farm for a tour. The first two boys off the bus asked, “Where is the salsa tree?” They thought they could go pick salsa, like apples and peaches. Oh my. What do they put on SAT tests to measure this? Does anybody care? How little can a person know about food and still make educated decisions about it? Is this knowledge going to change before they enter the voting booth? Now that’s a scary thought!


Commercial farming as I see it…but a temporary blip until the land is used up, the water polluted, the neighbors nauseated, and the air unbreathable. The farmhouse, the concrete, the machinery, and outbuildings become relics of a bygone vibrancy when another family farm moves to the city financial centers for relief…


Commercial agriculture can survive within pluralistic American society, as we know it – if the farm is rebuilt on some of the values with which it is popularly associated: conservation, independence, self-reliance, family, and community. To sustain itself, commercial agriculture will have to reorganize its social and economic structure as well as its technological base and production methods in a way that reinforces these values…


Alright, I will come down off the soapbox now…it seems a long time between posts lately; but with tomatoes and squash coming out of my ears and our youngest to get off to college, days have seemed too short. As I harvest the vegetables, I can’t help but think about something I read awhile ago. A writing by Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution. In this he wrote,” If each person were given one quarter-acre, that is 1 1/4 acres to a family of five, that would be more than enough land to support the family for the whole year. If natural farming were practiced, a farmer would also have plenty of time for leisure and social activities within the village community. I think this is the most direct path toward making this country a happy, pleasant land.” I can’t help but agree.

Be well,
Jess