I Saw Some Geese Yesterday in a Chevron Flight

How it has come to be the beginning of the last third of August is just beyond my understanding. Seems as if I was getting garden beds ready just a little bit ago and now they are coming into full fruit. I have a late season here being in the forest and on the mountain, or actually the ridge with an elevation 2981 or close to that.

I  just came in from making turning large wood into smaller pieces and looking at what there is to be done. I am already feeling  behind in my winter wood procurement. But winter is coming and one day some loving or kind soul will come along and take care of the bigger logs for me and I will appreciate it so.

While I was doing this, realized the forest was creeping closer to the house. Oh yes. Forests will do this. They want to take back to themselves that which we borrow. We need to remember it’s a loan. Never the less, I realized a week or so ago that I had a considerably shorter view into the tall trees behind the house. Summer with it’s many rainy days has helped the little  maples, black locust and assorted other greenery come along and take  back about thirty feet in some places. Many of the new young trees are much too close to grow to maturity. They are already crowding one another out, hungry for the sunshine at the edge of the cleared lot. I took a lot of them down with sturdy pruning shears and carried them off to the goat pen. Nothing is wasted if you watch and harvest it at the right time. The goats think the leaves are a wonderful treat. They will leave the branches and in a few days I will clear the pen and take those back for kindling.

I love my chores. Well, I love that there is great variety in what I need to get done. Recently it has been about watching what is ripening and figuring out the best way to use what is coming along. Shall I can, dry or freeze the wonderful fresh things my gardens are providing? It will be a long time before the yield here will be  totally sustaining. This is the third year and I am learning. I buy produce from the farmer’s market too. I am never sure what, of the many things I plant will actually be the vegetables to thrive. I thought I planted many varieties of squash but there was never a single zucchini in sight. I have an abundance of patty pans. Those are the little round space ship shaped  squashes.  I have learned to love them and to dry and freeze and take to the market. If I am lucky, I may get a pumpkin or maybe two and if I do they will be my treasures. It looks as if I will get a lot of potatoes pretty soon. Maybe a green pepper or two and three or four egg plants. It has been a wonderful summer for beets and I love every part of beets. The greens and stems have their place on the plate as well as the gorgeous root. I see pickled beets and dried beet chips  long into the winter months ahead and sauerkraut made fresh from the local mountain cabbage grown by a farmer whose  makes this his specialty.

My strawberries gave me enough to make some preserves and I picked enough blackberries before I noticed the bear scat to put by few jars of jam. I bought a box of peaches because I could not resist their beauty. From my twenty five pound box I shared several for simple eating pleasure, froze a big bag for later on, made a cobbler, and processed  seven half pints, and one full pint of preserves that also yielded a pint of syrup with the best peach flavor,  just perfect for a liqueur. DSCN0037

Fiber from the alpaca and the Angora goats has been sent off to be processed and will come back in the middle of October, just in time for cool weather projects and for holiday gift giving. I should have a nice amount to offer for sale. It is always so exciting when the box  comes back from the fiber mill! So many people at the market asked me if I spin, I have begun to learn to use a drop spindle just so I can say yes. I am creating about forty yards each time I use it as that seems to be the amount the spindle can hold. My product is a very irregular homespun. I will dye it and use it to accent hats and scarves.

The silk scarves classes I have been teaching here and at other venues have been popular.  I have to comment here that photos really don’t do them justice. I think silk has to be worn and seen moving to truly show itself off to best advantage Each scarf is 100% china silk  with a hand rolled hem. Each is hand painted making it a unique piece or wearable art. I am looking forward to filling an order for a wedding party. These will make such wonderful accent pieces for the bridesmaids as well as a lasting keepsake of the special day. Don’t you think so?

I hope, I always hope, to get back with updates much sooner that I usually do. So until next time, love life.

Just at the End of May

It has been awhile since I added a new entry to my blog. I keep promising to be more consistent. Here’s a story from the beginning of May It is about two bunnies I had the privilege to rescue.
A lady found out that a bunny was sheltering under her son’s house last fall. All winter long the bunny stayed under the house. Finally the weather got warmer and the son and his mother were able to see the bunny and realized they needed to capture it and find it a new home. They called what they thought was animal rescue only to find that the folks who came to get the bunny took it to the pound. This terrified the lady! She had not rescued the bunny to have it put down. So she quickly put the call out via friends and face book friends and then went down to the pound to get the bunny off death row. she did this by adopting it and hoping a permanent new home would turn up.

I have had Angora rabbits in the past, and being a farm with a focus on producing fiber and keeping fiber producing animals, it seemed I could find a way to help the lady and the bunny. Doors opened and there were good signs that this was meant to be. A friend offered me a cage that with just a little retrofitting turned into a perfect bunny home. So, I made a plan to meet the lady and the rabbit and bring it back here to the farm. Guess what? It turned out that there had been another bunny discovered under the house. They were buddies apparently because they were both Angoras. And yes, I took that one as well.

Now for folks who do not know very much about Angora rabbits, they are the producers of this delightfully soft fiber. If angels had hair and you could touch it, it might feel like Angora Rabbit hair. It is whisper soft and fine. It is extremely warm and durable. I have an angora sweater I have owned for twenty five years and I still wear it on occasions. It is an elegant and very expensive fiber and garments made with it are to treasure. There is a reason for this. The fiber needs to be harvested from the living animal either by combing weekly or in some cases by shearing twice a year, maybe once. This depends on the breed of the rabbit. I want to keep with my story so I won’t get too far into the harvesting of the fiber here.

Let us just say that this grooming  is extremely important to the rabbits well being . Rabbits like this have been bred to produce fiber and to be dependent on people.  One does not find them hopping around in meadows or forests. This is why it is so rare to find them under a house and surviving all winter long on their own. The lady knew if the rabbits were not cared for they would die in the oncoming warmer weather because it had been months since they had been care for and they would succumb to heat exhaustion if not relieved of their coats..

When I first met them, they appeared to be blocks of matted fiber that reminded me of very stale marshmallows. It was hard to figure out where the bunny started and the matted fur ended. It was an extremely painstaking process for us both, bunny and me to begin to free up and find limbs. After about four hours at the first sitting, I managed to find feet and legs and get them loose so the little thing could hop and move without restriction.

Happily, for many reasons, my daughter was finishing up a class at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina at the beginning of the month and she came for a visit. She was able to help me with the grooming of both bunnies. We managed to get all the mats off them. In the end we had piles of matted hair twice the size of the actual bunny In some places we used manicure type scissors and went little quarter inch snips at a time. In the end all went well and it was certainly worth it to be able to see them able to hop around, explore part of the house and enjoy a little freedom. They are really nice animals. they are curious and animated and seem happy and are now a part of the fiber bearing assortment of animals here on the farm.

Angora rabbits can be house broken and are usually friendly. They need to be groomed regularly and have their nails trimmed. They also need some soft wood to chew on and good food and some hay for roughage and fresh water daily. Bunnies live for quite awhile. They should never be considered a casual pet for a child unless he or she is very interested in the breed, fiber production or the breeding of Angora rabbits as well as a long and lasting relationship caring for an animal.