the whole process.

It started out looking like this…IMGP0394And slowly but surely, became this…IMGP2305From sheep to baby blanket… It’s the first time I’ve ever accomplished the whole process from start to finish in many many years of wanting it to happen! 

(The pattern is Concentric Squares Baby Blanket by Fiber Fiend, http://www.fiberfiend.com)

In between the beginning and the end, there was a whole slew of processes. If you’ve been following along with our stories in this space for some time now, you may recall the tending and shepherding of the sheep all through the cold winter months. Or even before that, my family’s trip to Pennsylvania to fetch my flock of Shetlands and then being crammed in the truck like sardines for the long haul. Then spring arrived and shearing needed to happen. Remember when the Hill and Hollow crew came to save the day with their electric sheep shears? And remember not quite as long ago when my family had an overnight stay in a hotel and as my luggage I took a dirty sheep’s fleece for scouring in the hotel bathtub? And the borrowed drum carder? And all of the spinning? And then the indigo dyeing? (Which was a whole process in and of itself with the seeding, weeding, growing and harvesting!) Finally, my favorite part of the process, the hours and hours of knitting… knitting while the kids swam in the creek, or in the early gray mornings, or while I waited for supper to cook, or while I accompanied Eric for chores (but not being able to walk and actually help out with chores because of my leg. Moral support is good too!). It is a long-winded process I will admit! But it’s also incredibly satisfying…IMGP2307(You can see the color change between dye lots… I wasn’t totally thrilled with this feature and did try to overdye the whole blanket to make the blue more consistent, but alas, there is still a definite line. Oh, well. Maybe next year when the indigo is ready, I will try again.)

When I finally finished the baby blanket, the kids asked me how much I would charge if I were to sell the blanket. I just had to laugh. 

So the blanket is all finished. Now I just need a baby to wrap up in it…IMGP2310

 

so many gifts

IMGP2091I’ve not been around these parts much lately, it seems. It’s not that I haven’t thought about                                                                                                                       keeping up with my days in this space, it’s just that the reality of keeping up with myself and my family and my farm is taking about all I’ve got right now. And that’s ok with me. Each day spills over the edges. Fullness finds a whole new meaning.

Plus, the kids spilled very-sticky-heavy-on-the-maple-syrup-lemonade on the computer’s keyboard which made typing a frustrating joke because several characters just stopped working altogether. Oh, well. This just gave me yet another excuse for limited computer time and has actually been sort of a gift in its own right! I might have dragged my feet just a bit in getting a replacement keyboard…

In a nutshell, this past month has been full of sweet gifts that have left me feeling incredibly blessed and like one very lucky lady. In mid-August, when Eric was gone for nine days to drive his papa to Pennsylvania and I was solo on the farm with three kids, a bunk leg, and pregnant belly, my amazing neighbors helped with chores, watched the kids, untangled lambs from fences, and didn’t judge me when I voiced that I really needed a beer.

My other equally amazing neighbors and farm cohorts, Jesse and Hannah, volunteered (!) to do our CSA delivery and market in Nashville the Saturday Eric was away so that I could attend Robin’s indigo dyeing workshop (that would have otherwise been impossible for me to participate in). I don’t think I can even begin to describe just how huge that gift was! 

Then my sweet Eric returned safely from his trip. 

Then it was my birthday and I had a day of not cooking or doing dishes. 

Then my fiber fanatical friends gathered together for our first ever bonified stitch n’ bitch and Coree baked me a cake. 

Then, a posse of dear friends gathered here in Bugtussle to shower my family with love and food and baby gifts and blessings for this new little life that will be joining my family so very soon. I am all set on diapers now! And the older kids in attendance stayed over and had a camp out down by the creek, cooking freshly caught chubs and air potatoes over an open fire (and then raiding the kitchen for snacks when they thought I wasn’t looking)!

armed and dangerous...

armed and dangerous…

Those are just a few of the bigger gifts that have blessed me as of late. Then there have been countless in-between moments that present themselves as truly wonderful gifts, too… The moments that awareness and recognition come to me in a flood and leave me in awe of this beautiful life.

Like the gift of curious little hands feeling my belly as the baby wiggles about. Then the gaping mouths and laughter.

Or the dry leaves showering down as the season turns toward autumn. Ground crispy and dry. Warm sunshine, but not stinging hot.

The gift of seeing my family glistening in the late afternoon light as they splash in the creek, reviving after a group effort firewood pick up. Inspired by the promise of marshmallows over a bonfire to repay all of their hard work.

Or gorgeous jeweled sweet potatoes being lifted from the earth. Warmth and sustenance for the winter. Especially in this year where the pantry shelves are mostly bare… but, yet, there is still so much bounty. 

I could continue. But a new day has dawned and there is a backhoe parked in the yard and today our root cellar project finally gets underway. Yet another gift. IMGP2084

 

 

inspired

A year ago this spring, we planted a new strawberry patch. The new patch got fairly weedy last summer, and when winter rolled around the deer hammered those plants repeatedly until there was scarcely anything left. This spring when the remaining plants began to re-grow, the patch was so scant that turning them under was the best option. We didn’t have any fresh strawberries to eat this spring, which was a painful thing! But we never got around to planting more strawberries this spring in preparation for next year’s fruit. So it goes.

But the thought of NOT having strawberries again next year has been lingering in our minds. We recalled, however, that the nearby Amish community plants strawberries each fall, covers them with row cover through the winter, uncovers them when they begin to flower in the spring, harvests a boat load of berries, and then turns the crop under… treating the strawberries as an annual crop instead of a perennial. So we did a little research and found a variety, “Chandler”, that fit the bill. But when I went to the community to pick up our weekly milk, my milk lady had a bunch of flats of strawberries in her front yard (the same variety we researched) awaiting planting. I asked about them and she told me that another neighbor had ordered a bunch for the whole community and was pretty sure there were extras. Indeed!IMGP2049IMGP2047So, in the spur of the moment, I picked up three flats hoping that Eric would agree with my decision and not think me too crazy for adding one more project to our already too long list. Lo and behold, he was very pleased and got right on preparing a couple of garden beds. The next morning, we spread compost and got those berries in the ground! It’s always fun to try something new, especially if it means we will have strawberries next spring after all!