spinning a tale

Is it absolutely insane for me to think I can learn a new (very addictive) craft in the spring… when my days are already filled to the brim? When there’s barely a moment to spare, let alone several moments to devote to an entirely new project? So, maybe the timing of this new endeavor isn’t the best, or maybe it’s perfect. We’ll just have to see. But, determination is a guiding light in my life and well, the train is moving now, and I’m afraid (or thrilled, actually) that there is no stopping it! Welcome spinning, to my world…IMG_1915

Over the weekend I stole away from the farm for a day to meet up with my friend at her workplace, the fabulous Haus of Yarn in Nashville, for a little spinning how-to. I felt incredibly self-indulgent, leaving my family to tend all of the chicks, ducklings, and tender plants that needed extra attention as the cold north wind was beginning to howl. These moments entirely on my own are extremely rare.

But this isn’t just a sudden new obsession. This desire to learn spinning has been brewing for years. About eleven years ago, we bought our first sheep, Lincoln Longwools, for the very purpose of my learning about the entire process of working with wool, from raising the sheep, to shearing, to processing the wool, to spinning, and then to knitting clothing for my family. Then I got pregnant with Ira. Here we hit the giant pause button on the world of wool sheep, as babies number two and three also enter the picture and my world then revolved firstly around being a mama, and secondly, helping my dear hubby with maintaining the workings of our farm and business. He quickly realized his own inability to deal with the wool sheep on his own (hand shearing with non-electric old-school shears and no handling facilities, just football-style tackling, rope, and stakes), and shifted into a breed of sheep, Katahdin, that don’t have to be sheared. IMG_1850It was sometime after Olivia (#3) was born, that I got a hankering to knit Opal a skirt for her birthday. I had only knit one scarf, ten years prior, up to this point. My same Haus of Yarn spinning friend, Marissa, was my hook-up for a pattern and yarn and so thoughtfully brought a variety of yarns to me at the Saturday farmer’s market. (knowing the impossibility of my being able leave the bustle of our CSA pick-up with three little ones in tow, she brought the yarn shop to me. What a dear. ) That was the beginning of my obsession with knitting. So obsessed, in fact, that I even figured out how to knit while on hikes with my children. Fortunately, little people walk slowly. Now, a few years and lots of knitted garments later, I could no longer resist the urge to learn to spin and everything serendipitously fell into place for this spinning lesson. Talk about heaven. While I still have a lot to learn, I got the hang of it. And for me, for now, that is enough. I know I will continue. I know I will be making my family clothing from hand-spun yarn. And eventually that wool will come from our own sheep, completing the cycle I dreamed about all of those years ago. (In the meantime, there’s this fine woman named Robin that has lots of wool from her own sheep. I’m thinking I’ll be paying her a visit very soon!)  But somehow, despite my earlier plans of sheep first, then knitting; the reality of this process is manifesting itself in reverse order. I’m fine with that. I realize that if I had stubbornly fixated on insisting that the sheep must come first (sort of like the horse before the cart), that I might still not be doing any of this. I’m finding out that while it is so important to have goals and dreams, the ability to roll with what life gives you might be even more important. This world just keeps spinning around and around, and I am going to spin right along with it.IMG_1934

“a long day for mom”

paul’s final comment as he and sasha pulled out of the drive just as the sun was rising over the ridge. they were heading to the big city with a van load of compost and tools, straw and plants, my guys were putting in a pair of gardens for some urban folks wanting to eat a bit closer to home. their departure left me with the work of 3.

I started the day, as the nursing mom i double as the alarm clock around here, and reliably babe got me up just past 4 am. once the men were loaded, fed and on the road, i had a moment of reflection with madeline and planned the morning. we decided to begin with the sheep, so i placed william on my back (ergo carrier, mama’s best friend) walked up to the barn, grabbed a bale of hay and meandered to their paddock. (slow moving was the best i could do with 30 pounds on my back and 50 some in my arms and yes, a truck can be used for this task, but due to a series of unfortunate events, both were in the shop. )

luckily, sheep in the pasture are pretty patient

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pigs next. these are the funnest, loudest, most amusing and most impatient of the farm animals. we are recently back in the pig business with opinions that vary with the wind. suffice to say the grain eaters get mixed reviews around here. there is the extra task of hauling and storing grain coupled with the disappointment that we haven’t been able to raise enough grain on farm to feed either poultry or pigs. despite the fact that we are blessed with a local source of impeccably raised small grains, the final  verdict on the swine  remains to be seen.DSC_0553

normally, milking is top priority each morning. this morning though, it needn’t be done. although there is some debate on this topic, our system where we keep the cow and calf together certainly impacts the quantity of milk we get . on a normal day, the calf, now 3 months, (bronco) is separated from his mama (addie) at dusk.  by morning, there is nearly 2 gallons for us. bronco and addie then spend the entire day together, bronco receives all the benefits of addie’s riches. this also does give us that tiny bit of freedom to simply leave them together and donate our share! obviously this day was chosen as one of those days. whew.

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that made my last stop: the horses. by far the easiest visit, they’re slowly eating away at a roll of hay and watering from a large tank, so tending to them really means a lovely walk across the back half of the property. no complaints. IMG_3860

the day proceeded flawlessly  with return visits to all who needed them.our few hours indoors were well spent baking, when the guys returned home earlier than i had expected, i was more than happy to present them with a slice of freshly baked bread and the invitation to share the evening chores with me.