Ah, you have “No Mazel”


Helen’s ( a friend from childhood) Bubby used to say this to me…”You have No Maazel” “Poor girl”…

I always tried to hide my sadness, even from myself when I was young; we all did,. We stayed outside and away from home as much as possible; we just stayed out-of-the-way. I his behind my smile. Not hidden well enough to fool Bubby, Helen and I were not friend’s long, as we moved alot..but I never forgot her or her Grandmother, and what she said to me.

As an adult, I have always believed you make your own luck. My own, Maazel; positive energy. Luck comes from work, work on your self, give of yourself to others, have a positive attitude; when you see things as they really are, you tend to have LUCK in your life.
1

A Horseshoe has been said to symbolize good luck, good fortune and fertility.
Horseshoes have associations with the strength and dependability of the horse, and, in an upright position, it is also symbolic of the moon. Pointing downwards, it is symbolic of the womb. To the Greeks, it symbolized the crescent moon which was regarded as a symbol of fertility.

3

The Horseshoe protects one’s house and land, to keep strangers away, when hung up on the wall of a home or above a doorway. The “U” shape will hold good luck inside forever. This tradition may stem from the 10th century Saint Dunstan. He trapped the devil using a Horseshoe and from that point on the devil would never enter a Christian home adorned with a Horseshoe over the door. (thank goodness)

4

Some legends say, that a Horseshoe “‘Pointing Up” will gather your Luck, whereas “Pointing Down” it will shower you with Luck.
Do you have a good luck Charm?

Be well,
Jess

In Winter’s Cold Shadow…There is Gold.


I find that I am not as patient as I once was; sometimes, I feel as though I am attempting to strain the mud puddle rather than patiently waiting for the mud to settle and the water to clear….Do you ever feel as though you are treading water, when you should be swimming?
Feeling over whelmed, me? “Why”, I ask myself. I know there is no easy road, no magic bullet. I am well aware the frustration I feel is of my own making. . . yet as I concentrate so much energy on my objectives, my world, …stumbling through endless lists.
I have always had lists. That can’t be it; am I just getting older and grumpier? Is this what mid-life, what 50 feels like? If it is I don’t like it one bit. Is it just the solitude that winter brings? Could it be I just need to idle my motor, wait for things to happen as they should, when they should?
Or maybe, just maybe; I like these cold, gray winter days. Days like these that let me savor a bad mood….until the afternoon sun turns it to gold.

shadow
Mercedes’ shadow cast on the barn wall.

butts
Intent on supper…”oh, are you still there?”

Mercedes

Mercedes, always so graceful , never in the front, never pushy, or needing to be the first…always patient and full of grace. I want to be like her.

Andy 13

Andy, is so frail; he did not have the benefit of his mother’s milk and nutrients pat the age of 2 months. I worry about him in the cold; he is wearing 2 polar fleece vest, a goose down vest, and a rain jacket with the arms cut off, ( all zipped up across his back) to protect him from the frigid temperatures. He sleeps, always, between KatDoll and Camille…they keep him warm.
I am going to have him gelded, so that he never has to leave them.

the crew
Even the chickens head to the llama barn for warmth and protection.

The winter blues. How do you deal with this issue? Or is it not an issue for you? Where do you find your patience?

Be Well,
Jess

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

September, slightly wordy Wednesday.


“Departing summer hath assumed
An aspect tenderly illumed,
The gentlest look of spring;
That calls from yonder leafy shade
Unfaded, yet prepared to fade,
A timely carolling.”
- William Wordsworth, September


“The breezes taste
Of apple peel.
The air is full
Of smells to feel-


Ripe fruit, old footballs,
Burning brush,
New books, erasers,
Chalk, and such.


The bee, his hive,
Well-honeyed hum,
And Mother cuts
Chrysanthemums.


Like plates washed clean
With suds, the days
Are polished with
A morning haze. “
- John Updike, September


“By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer’s best of weather
And autumn’s best of cheer.”
- Helen Hunt Jackson, September, 1830-1885


“Happily we bask in this warm September sun,
Which illuminates all creatures…”
- Henry David Thoreau

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

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

Meanwhile, back on the farm…


Wonderful Wednesday…this can only mean it’s time to meet a few more of the animals that call Misty Maples Farm home.
Okay ~ Here we go.

Miss Mercedes.

Lil’ Mum, a sikie; who lays the tiniest of eggs.

Andy, how cute is he?

Lexi, when she was but a pup! mwah.

Sophie, whadjudo? I don’t think you belong in the garden.

Doesn’t this look refreshing!? Okay, now let’s see who we have here…Princess and Mercedes, with Camille’s and Breezy’s rumps.(shhh, don’t tell them I posted this)

Daisy,Jemima, Arnold, and Benjamin ~ yup, they are all girls.

Mercedes,Katdoll, and Camille (the bay colored girl)

The girls, with mostly boys names.

Lexington. Always waiting for someone to play.

KatDoll with Little Andy.

Lexi, Lexi, Lexi…

Uhhhmmm? Lex?

Hope you have a Wonderful Wednesday.
Jess

Remember when…?


Remember when…

Remember when farm life was based on families, church, and holidays…It was the way of life for many. Work stopped on Sunday; as families came together to pray and worship. They celebrated life with Sunday dinner ~ a tradition many families carry on today. They caught up on each other’s lives, and shared news. Face to face. They saw expressions, of joy, sadness, and awe. They were there to comfort a friend, not leave a comment on a Facebook “friend’s” sad commentary. Simple joys and blessings of life. Yes, it is hard, sometimes tedious,back breaking work. Yet, this life creates self reliant and proud folks. They made do.

They celebrated the rain, the sun, the fields. They celebrated the Lord, and Church; family and dear friends. Neighbors helping neighbors. Life and daily chores seemed to have a purpose, and not just the search for the almighty dollar. The purpose was to have enough, enough food for the family and livestock, a blessing would be enough to share. Enough to live comfortably; not extravagantly…you work for what you need. And, you didn’t get what you want before you earned it. Children were not gifted everything under the sun ~ simply because they wanted it. They had to work too, this was life on a family farm, and the grist mills, the weavers, or the general store; everyone had to pull their own weight. This is indeed an overly simplified, perhaps a romanticized view; I accept that. Sometimes though, it seems to me…this world could do with a bit of simplicity. Living life within your means is hard. Ask any one trying to live a life of independent sustainability. I read about Celi’s day each morning at The Kitchen Garden each morning, and I am always amazed.

Living life on a farm is still hard work, maybe harder, with prices for crops at an all-time low, and fuel costs at an all time high (and the with the hot dry summer the US of A is experiencing, it will only be tougher), but farmers will keep battling on. Tenacity, stick-to-it-iveness, stubborn will, call it what you’d like…thank goodness they have it! Farming. It is the most important industry in the country, you think about this when you get a bit hungry.

It’s a battle, but it’s life. Most love doing it and wouldn’t have it any other way.
Be well. Jess

Walkin’ Down a Country Road…


As we so often do; after a long day of chores and yard work, my husband and I go for a drive or a walk (sometimes both). Yesterday we drove to a nearby town, stopped the car on an old dirt road and just meandered on down ~

A rural, pastoral view of the Cambridge Hills

There is such beauty to be found here,so much history and remnants of times past. Work for the future, as we pass signs depicting the “RIGHT TO FARM”.

Barns and sheds some being used for their intended purposes, some now storage or sitting unused and in a state disrepair…loved and lost.

It’s all a-blur…:)

On a country road
I guess my feet know where they want me to go….James Taylor.

Flowers along the way..

Gold, pure Gold.

I never fail to be impressed by the beauty of flowers..

Where flowers bloom so does hope.

In friendship’s fragrant garden,
There are flowers of every hue.
Each with its own fair beauty
And its gift of joy for you.
Friendship’s Garden

Earth laughs in flowers -Emerson

I will be the gladdest thing
Under the sun!
I will touch a hundred flowers
And not pick one.
Edna St. Vincent Millay, “Afternoon on a Hill”

Flowers… are a proud assertion that a ray of beauty out-values all the utilities of the world.
Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1844 Oh, for the love of Emerson <3

Flowers seem intended for the solace of ordinary humanity.
John Ruskin

Flowers are the sweetest things God ever made, and forgot to put a soul into.
Henry Beecher, Life Thoughts, 1858

Be Well, take a walk…:)
Jess

Tragedy and Triumph


Last night certainly had its ups and downs…

My youngest sister stopped by the farm early in the evening to share  her daughter’s joy and pride.  Special Olympic Medals. Courtney was born with a chromosomal disorder.  Trisomy 10p,  about 90 percent of children do not survive , passing away before or during birth and those that do live past birth suffer serious symptoms. Most children with Trisomy 10p die in the first three months of life, and only 10 to 20 percent survive past the first year. It is extremely rare.

Courtney was beaming as she showed me her Silver and Bronze medals; won in the Special Olympic  sports of softball and running. So, to say this is a triumph is an understatement. I was so proud, we shared an ice cream to celebrate!

Later in the evening , when the farm animals are usually putting themselves to bed…(the ducks and chickens waddle and cluck their way into the small barn) I go out at dusk to be sure the barn doors are secure and all gates are closed, waters full.

Last night, started out with Mr. Nasty throwing his weight around…bullying the ducks from their beds.

The ducks retreated into the llama pasture for safety. I walked behind them encouraging them to waddle into the back barn, where there is a sleeping area with  a little exit door….Here you see Malokai thinking he should sleep in there…

Mali, you are not a chicken or a duck…

You didn’t fit, did you….?

I was satisfied they would be safe inside; I checked waters and llama gates, then headed into the house. Put on my pink flannel jammies and set about to put my feet up with a big mug of chamomile tea…

…my moment of relaxation didn’t last long…what a ruckus!  My son Justin and I ran out back  to see what in tarnation was happening!   2 ducks were near their swimming pool ~ quacking to beat the band.  Wait ~ “2″ ducks?  Justin one of my ducks is gone?  Don’t panic Jessica, remain calm…too late!  JUSTIN!!!!!! MY DUCK IS MISSING!!!!

He runs to get the lantern as I try to find my way around in the dark…Jenni is just coming home…she meets Jus on the porch as he is running out back with the  light…Jenn joins in the search…

I hear the fence snapping…so I head there, “duck feathers”!..broken fence…frantic llamas!  Justin follows the trail of feathers…to the edge of the woods….”QUACK”   “Mom, she’s in here…”  “MOM!” ” She’s in here with a coyote!”  He begins hollering and yelling…the predator drops the duck…..”Mom, she’s hurt”.  “I can’t believe I was 4feet from a coyote with no gun! I can’t believe we found her!” I can’t believe she’s alive!”    “I can’t believe I was 4 feet from a coyote with NO gun!”     I hurried into the brush to gather up a bleeding and scared little duck.

Justin fixed the fence, Jenni put the other 2 chickens in the small barn…Mr. Nasty be damned, and I brought daisy into the house to clean her off and assess her injuries…a few puncture wounds and probably a bit of shock.  Becky, my neighbor and I applied an antibiotic ointment to the wounds and placed her in bed of dry straw in a dog crate with water and food. I will keep her in the house for the night.

Not too much sleep last night…with every quack my dogs jumped and so did I.  We all ran downstairs at about 2am she was making a racket…though she was in some terrible pain or something. She laid an egg.   Let’s go back to bed dogs!

I let her out as the sun was rising this morning; she found her friends, then set about searching for delicious bugs for breakfast!  I hope she recovers well, I think I will clean her again tonight.

Did I tell you my husband is away…why does everything happen when my husband is away?

Be Well,

Jess