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

Rainy day with nothing to do …


except:
Remove dead and non-productive vegetable crops.
Apply manure and compost to our clay soils.
Planting crops for late autumn harvest: lettuce, swiss chard, spinach
Drying peppers and squash.
Start new strawberry beds.
Dig up and divide garlic, perennials, iris, daylilies, bulbs, and…
Keep watering properly even as the weather begins to cool.
Clean up all dead fruit.
Fruit trees fed and mulched…

worm and trim llamas feet,
breed 4 girls for early fall cria,

order more minerals,
rake around llamas barns..keeps bugs and slugs down…then,
Remove any dead shrubs and trees.
Mulch trees and shrubs.
Raking fallen leaves and add to compost pile.
Purchase bulbs from nurseries.
Remove spent blooms from roses.
Weed vegetables and shrubs, mow lawns.
clean chicken and duck house,
Start to prepare sheds, tools, and equipment for Winter weather.
locate heated water buckets,
Repair roof on garden shed….oh, and

stack the remainder of wood for heat…

My daughter, Julianne; looking for usable old barn wood; she and Josh are making a table.

Family photo

It is September after-all.
Be Well,
Jessica

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

On gardening…


The best way to garden is to put on a wide brimmed straw hat and some old clothes. And with a hoe in one hand and a cold drink in the other, tell somebody else where to dig.

This is the life!

I kid, I kid…
Be well,
Jess

Blow outs and pedicures…


Part of caring for and sharing your life with animals involves some rather, well, distasteful chores..other than the obvious scooping of the poop(we’ve already talked about that,haven’t we) We must also, trim the llamas nails. Yup, nails; they don’t have hoofs, camelids ( llamas, alpacas,vicunas, camels) have two toes and soft pads ~ as you’ll see in the photos to follow. My husband is quite expeditious in completing this chore…3 snips per foot; once across each side, then one last clip across the top of the nail. Voila llama pedicure; do you think the girl llamas would look cute with pink polish? Me too! Though, I don’t think they would enjoy that much.

On our farm we shear once (at least) each year. We try to give them a good shampooing the day before, the fiber is cleaner for harvesting, and it’s easier on the clippers. Less grime and grit. To obtain the best fiber, your llama should be as clean as you can possibly get them.

Blow outs! Ah yes, first we blow the llama out. They have so much dirt and hay particles in there! You see llamas LOVE to roll in the sand or just plain old dirt; they think it adds to their beauty. Then I brush them out a bit while using a de-tangling spray. The brushing sometimes takes hours to days depending on the animal and density of the fiber. The llama in my last photo “Bandit” took several days to complete.

After all of this, at long last, it’s time to shampoo! I try to pick a warm sunny day. A quick blow out and a good scrub. Any type of shampoo will work, though there are “special” shampoos just for llamas. For my white llamas I use a whitening shampoo (with blueing). For most others I use a conditioning shampoo (the inexpensive kind). Next step, I apply a conditioner and just sort of rake it through the fiber…rinse! (thoroughly rinse -not always as easier as it sounds) Almost done (unless there is a show) they are set free to dry naturally in the sun.

Oh Yes, one more thing….they will immediately upon returning to the pasture, seek out their favorite place to roll; look up at me, bat their long lashes and smile…as if to say, “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful”

No worries, all the newly deposited dirt comes out fairly easily.

If the animal is fairly light wooled and depending on the temps, sun, and time of day…you can clip them the same day.
Most of the time, we wait until the next day.
Wow, I’m tuckered; good thing this only happens once a year!


Little Andy showing off his lustrous waves. :)


My Kromsky Minstel Wheel…((love))


Bea-u-ti-ful!


trimmings…


Camille won’t mind if I show you her un-manicured feet…( I hope)


A little snip here, a little snip there..


Andrew…Why? “Jecasa”


He is just too sweet for words…really, I have none.


Ah, Andrew…because; that’s why.


Here is the first llama , I delivered…he was such a big cria…his Mom is the “foot model” above. :)

Are you as tired as I am? Ok, let’s do this again next year, shall we?
Be Well,
Jess

City Mouse ~ Country Mouse


They say variety is the spice of life. And as much as like to get away from time to time; I am always eager to come home. To the familiar,the comfortable,… I take a deep breathe and the pace slows.
Apparently, once you’ve been part of a farm, it sticks, like pollen on a bees feet.
I love my life here, for it’s differentness from town or city life…a magical place. A place that I love to share with others.
A come as you are, as often as you’d like kinda place. Do I sound Idealistic? (I bet if you google the meaning, my picture would be there smiling back at you.) I tend to form visions,create dreams…always reluctant to to let these go. They have to be! They must. Do you know what I mean; “On my farm I will have beautiful creamy white ducks, fluffy white chickens, elegant, stately llamas, joyful, exuberant dogs frolicking about, children running free, free to get dirty, free to play, free to help out with chores,…clean,cute barns. A farm with friends and family enjoying lemonade with dinner on the porch with a freshly baked pie for dessert”.
Mostly what I get is, blisters, calluses, dogs chasing the chickens, whilst I chase the dogs, pooh in the barn as I am emptying the wheel barrow full of pooh, from the barn just mucked out..llamas in dire need of their spring haircuts and good wash, taking a moment to have a now cold grilled cheese sandwich followed by my now cold coffee, sitting on the concrete stoop- cuz my bums too dirty to sit in the cushioned chair. Yet, I am smiling from ear to ear. I love this place!

Prepare to get cozy.

simple blossom

look up!

shine through...

Dutch influence.

let's swing!

looking through the pretty at 55mph.

sculptured roadways

unlikely bonds...

Gio

Andy...so soft and sweet

walkin through life..

Chet

a rusty little fairie

lovely colors..

As with so many things, what is true in life is reflected in what I try to capture through photography. We can see incredible things around us everyday…{sunlight through a leaf,patina in a centuries old buildings, unlikely bonds} memories in the making. All we need to do is slow down long enough to notice.

Be Well,
Jess

Oops, I spilled the beans..(a re-post from last summer)


(a re-post from last summer) Hope you enjoy.
What a beautiful morning,cool,a mist on the pasture, grass wet from dew; I am starting my morning chores a bit later than usual…Howie let me sleep in; he fed the chicks, ducks,dogs,Riley the cat and llamas. All I needed to do was clean the barn and put fresh bedding down (extra snuggle and photo time) or so I thought.

I took my time, taking to the “girls” as I worked; everyone does that right? Well anyway, I got every thing clean and fresh as a daisy (no, really). Still talking and puttering about, I start to drag the now nearly full barrel to the “poop pile”; walking backwards and pulling the barrel by the handle…then, like a slow motion film, I am falling ~ the handle on the barrel just gave way ~ no, I’m not falling onto a nice grassy pasture floor ~ I am falling into the “poop pile” … not only am I now on my hiney, hands, and what ever other part of me could possibly be… is in a pile of poop, the barrel that I just spent all this time and energy filling is now spilling out of the barrel around me. My first reaction, being cool and all, is to look around to see if anyone saw what just took place; no one around, but, I swear the llamas chuckled…(see photos below, there is a definite twinkle in Syria’s eye).

As I was gathering what was left of my dignity, and re-scooping poop,(can you think of anything more glamorous), the llamas sent out a “danger call”; if you have never heard that sound…it’s an alarm sound they make in times of distress, to warn the herd of intruders or potentially dangerous situations; sounds sorta like a rooster-ish/horse-ish whinny. Anyway, they all ran down to the fence line to investigate; I grabbed my camera, don’t want to miss all this excitement. Chester, KatDoll, Breezy, and little Andy(tucked in beside KatDoll), are looking toward the woods, that border a swampy pond… the high grass is rustling, as whatever it is makes it’s way toward the small tool shed. All eyes are fixed, and the calls continue…out pops Finnegan (so much for excitement) he must have gone for a stinky,yucky,smelly swim…the llamas aren’t used to anyone entering the pasture from that direction, as soon as Finnegan’s head erupted from the hedgerow, he ducked back in, he saw all of the llamas, standing making THAT noise at him. Of course, I could have put the camera down,and gone to get him, but what fun would that have been.There may be a dog gone good lesson to learn here (forgive the pun), after all, Finnegan should not be in the stinky, smelly pond. After, what seemed like an eternity, but was really only a few seconds, Finnegan, came out slowly, keeping, close to the ground, slinking across the yard past the llama’s admonishing chatter; as soon as he felt safe he all out sprinted to the safety of the front porch…Oh, Finni the amusement you provide.

Well, now that Howie is off the roof of the old barn we are dismantling, to re-purpose; I should go down there to help him…heights and I don’t get along very well.


A field full of sunshine…


The girls, waiting for me to clean their home…maid service is here!


Uggh, I spilled the beans.


These are my beautiful tools of the trade; beauty is in the eye of the beholder, ok?!


Syria, post chuckle..


Syria is Maeve’s Mom…hugs to her.


What is that over there??


Watching for the “intruder”…or Finni, as it turned out.


Here’s Finnigan, just so you have an idea of who caused all of the commotion.


Keep your eye on him!


Since Maeve’s passing, these two have been inseparable; I think she made a promise Maeve.


Never more than a step behind…


Turn your face to the sun…

Storms headed our way today…
Be well, enjoy your day.

Sunrise, time to start chores…reluctantly I head out into the cold December morn….


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 drizzly, 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 a admittedly skosh weary.

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; scurrying under the stud llama’s legs. We use large round bales, and have a covered shed for the girls to munch at their leisure, just outside of their barn. Haying the stud muffins is another story; I cut the twine surrounding the huge bales, then pull down the hay that peels off in fragrant sheets, layer by layer. I gather what I can carry and place it in the boys barn (really a shed) repeated as necessary.

Morning goes something like this…
smooch big dogs
feed big dogs
smooch Riley cat
feed Riley cat
start tea water (and/or have a cuppa left over from Howie’s pot of 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..
let dogs out
carry 11 of the bowls to the girls pasture
carry 3 bowls to stud pasture
fill poultry grain feeder
gather eggs as I defend my legs against Mr. Nasty (bantam rooster with king sized attitude)
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 stud muffins
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.

remember to enjoy tea!

ready for breakfast

My grain please Ma'am..

Sophie, first in line...always

singing for their meal....hee hee

Here comes the sun...sorta

Yesterday morning was a little brighter.

bringing in wood for the kitchen stove...( I have drier , but this was prettier)

batten down the hatches and head in for breakfast.

I am heading out finish my Christmas Shopping today. Picking up Howie’s perfect gift from it’s hiding place. So, I better be on my way.
Be Well.
Jess