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Showing posts from March, 2008

A Birthday Gift

Yesterday was our son's birthday--his 13th. Now I am the proud mama of 4 teenagers!

For his birthday, our son's sheep presented him with triplets. First thing in the morning. This is the beginning of the second wave of lambing--the white-faced Polypays. How fitting that our son's sheep should lamb first, and give him triplets besides.

Happy birthday, son. Happy Birth Day, triplets.

The Cranky Knitter

Tuesday evening The Farmer was the featured entertainment at a local knitters' guild. Last week when we attended the spin-in at the local yarn store, someone noticed his nice socks. Asked him if he knitted. "No," he said. They asked me. "No," I said. Somehow they pried it out of him that he had this machine at home that knitted...

So fast forward to yesterday, when he and his machine were the CENTER of attention at the guild meeting. I enjoyed the show immensely. Polite greetings and chit-chat started the meeting off, and everyone had a knitting project that they pulled out to work on. After The Farmer was introduced, he started cranking the machine and explaining. Every set of needles went down on its chair, and there was an instant huddle around the machine.

What fun! I think at least one person in that knitters' guild has a new item on her wish-list...

I included enough of the surroundings in the yarn store in the photo so that you could drool over the goo…

It's Sugarin' Time

This is our third season tapping the trees right around our house. They are sap cows--maple trees with a full canopy that provide lots of sap. Unfortunately, they are not sugar maples. They are some sort of soft maple with a lower sugar content. But since we are only boilin' for our own use, it's not terribly important to have sugar maples. Or the right set-up.

We did purchase spiles (spouts for you laymen) to tap the trees with, and specially fitted hooks. But from there on, it's all make-do.

Plastic pails from who-knows-where. (Yes, we do bleach and clean them at the beginning of each year, but somehow I doubt they're food-grade. Oh well.)

A stainless steel warming pan.

A thermometer, borrowed from the composting operation. (Don't think about it too much. After all that boiling, everything's sterilized.)

Some felted wool, to strain the last little chewies out of the finished syrup.

And canning jars and lids, to preserve the finished product.

I'm sure it isn'…

Easter Sunday Post

Christ is risen!

The angel said to the women, "Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said." --Matthew 28:5-6a
Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
--Colossians 3:1

"No one whose hope is in You will ever be put to shame. "
--Psalm 25:3a

A Quiet Day

Yesterday The Farmer frost-seeded birdsfoot trefoil in the existing pastures. I'd have loved to capture a photo of him walking back and forth across the fields, cranking the handle on the canvas-bag-whirly-gig-seed-spreader. But I was too busy working myself, in the kitchen. He got the seeding done just before the winter storm hit. It was nasty--and the fact that it's nearly the end of March made it feel even nastier.

Today I planned school for next week, listed a new item on the etsy shop, and did a little cleaning. The Farmer worked on hand-tying a wool-filled comforter. The kids have played a new computer game all day--Zoo Tycoon. It's nice to have a bit of a slow day once in a while.

Lamb of God

Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised and we esteemed him not.
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, Yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth, he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not ope…

On Buying Local Wool

Today I got an email from a friend. She'd been browsing in a book and found a section that made her think of our farm. She typed it out for me, sent it on, and told me it would be good for the blog. I agree. Thank you, C.

Here is a snippet from the book "The Knitter's book of Yarn" :

"You may be visiting a sheep farm or a farmers market when you spot a basket of yarn for sale. I'm always on high alert for anything indicating small-scale, locally produced yarn. Not only is it a chance to get something unique in an age of increasing conformity, but it's a small way to validate and support what these farmers are trying to do. Plus it's a rare gift to meet the person who tended the sheep whose fleece you'll be working with and wearing for years to come--it takes the connection between artist and material to entirely new heights.

Every knitter should support local sheep farms. Without a market for their yarns, these farmers would have to pile their fleec…

As Promised...A Cute Lamb Photo

This has been a busy week of running kids here and there. No time to blog about anything, though I've got a couple of topics that are rolling around in my brain.
Today's blog post is simply a photo of a cute lamb. We're almost done with the Suffolk (black faced sheep) lambing, and will start with the Polypays (white faced sheep) soon. This is one of the first Polypay lambs born this year.

Notice the proud mama look?

What Color Is That, Anyway?

Leave it to a homeschooling mom to use a box of crayons to help her decide what color names to use...

Because my kids are older, I actually have an intact box of 96 Crayola crayons. Not so when they were younger; back then, the best we could do was a plastic box with a bunch of nekkid crayon stubs.

When listing items on my etsy shop, I usually try to use color words in addition to my photos. Computer screens differ, and I try to err on the side of too much information, rather than too little.

So, I get out the trusty box of crayons and start comparing. Today's color names include spring green and sky blue.

Stay tuned for more colors with unique names...

Introducing the SHE Etsy Team

The past week or so I've been assisting at the birth of a new etsy team for homeschooling moms. SHEetsyteam (Schooling at Home Etsians) is a small group of homeschooling mothers who also sell their own personal creations through their etsy shops. We help each other with advertising and promotional events, as well as feedback, ideas and encouragement.

What's etsy? It's an on-line place for artisans to sell their wares. Everything is handcrafted and usually one of a kind.

Eventually, you will find a mini-etsy on the sidebar of my blog. The items featured will change weekly-ish, and at any time you'll be able to click on an item and look around in that person's shop.

But for now, here's a sampling of the type of things sold by the SHEetsyteam. Happy shopping!

Sunday Post

"Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will not be exhausted, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
--Luke 12:32-24

Hauling Corn

The break in the weather has allowed us to deliver a couple of loads of corn that we sold in December. Never in our wildest dreams did we ever expect to see corn above $5.00/bushel. Never.

While that’s really good news for those who are raising and selling corn, it’s not such good news for those who are buying it. The price of corn has more than doubled, which makes the feed cost about twice what it used to. Yet the animals are not selling for significantly more than they used to—in fact in some cases, animal prices have actually gone down, as the market is flooded with animals whose farmers cannot afford to feed them.

About a year ago, I read a book titled The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan. I found it a very thought-provoking book. It was the first time I encountered the term “industrial agriculture” and I’ve often reflected on (and used) this term since.

The book is a little weird in that the author ascribes motives to corn, giving it almost a sinister intent. But I recommend it…

No Rest for the Wicked

This is a saying that floated around a lot in my family of origin.


The Farmer has the flu. The work doesn't stop.

The Tigris, Euphrates, and the Nile are flowing across my basement floor.

Rumblings in the world outside of our farm continue:
Legislation that would make it harder to drill for water on our own land.
Court rulings in another state that require homeschooling parents to be certified teachers.
Crazy people running for president and crazy people voting for them.
A case of scrapies found at a nearby goat farm.
The news that an aid worker and her driver kidnapped in Afghanistan are probably dead.So what do I do about all this? Bake cookies, eat a few, and finish crocheting a set of dishcloths:And spend the WHOLE evening on the computer and the phone, launching a committee to oversee an annual homeschooling event in May. No rest for the wicked.

Sunday Post

Today we took a drive to a nearby Great Lake. In the foreground of each photo is the ice that develops along the shore. In the background of each photo is a white line at the horizon; I suspect it is ice that has been blown out by recent east winds.

The seas have lifted up, O Lord, the seas have lifted up their voice, the seas have lifted up their pounding waves.
Mightier than the thunder of the great waters,
mightier than the breakers of the sea--
The Lord on high is mighty.

--Psalm 93:3-4

On Heels and Toes

Several of you asked about how to make the heel on the sock knitter. Admittedly, it's much easier to just crank and crank and make a long tube. Leg warmers, anyone?

The needles can be pulled up and "out of service". To make a heel (and toes are just like heels, actually), you pull about half the needles up and knit back and forth, instead of round and round. Each time you knit a row on the heel, you pull one more needle up (to decrease) until you get to the point of the heel. Then you begin pushing a needle down each time you knit a row (to increase). Here's a photo of half the needles up and half down--at the beginning of the heel.

Here's a view down into the knitter. You can see the heel has been formed, and is bunched up along the bottom of the photo. Whenever you work on a sock, you need to hang a weight on it (or pull downward with your hand). When you're making the heel, additional weights need to be hung on the heel part (and moved up every few rows whil…