My current Work in Progress

Now, y’all know I am never happy unless I’m working on the next big project. Well, this one may be my biggest one yet.

Gibbs-Ferritto Baby

This gorgeous baby will be joining be making his or her appearance at the end of April. We are over the moon.

At last, our Moonshine Design Contest Winner!

You know what the worst part of taking time off is? All the stuff that you fall behind on while your away! I will be playing catch up for the next couple of weeks on some things that are long over due.

First up is announcing the winner of the Moonshine Design Contest that we sponsored in conjunction with my good friends at Jimmy Beans waaaaay back in June. We received so many amazing, lovely and thoughtful entries! I was certainly very glad that I wasn’t in charge of choosing the winner, because it would have been impossible for me to pick just one design.

The folks at Jimmy Beans selected a pattern named Lianaby first time designer Gus Baxter, and then worked with him to turn the pattern into a four skein pattern that created a more generous wrap.

Here’s a bit about Gus, in his own words: “I took knitting lessons from Close Knit in Midland Park, NJ (previously in Wyckoff, NJ), in January 2014.  A month later, I was offered a position to work at the shop.  Being around my coworkers, who are all more accomplished and skilled than myself, has instilled a sense of fearlessness in me.  Even if I run into trouble with a difficult pattern or stitch, there is a shop full of talented knitters that can always help me understand it.  So I have been knitting for 7 months now.  I love it.  This is my first original design.  I have a bachelors in Biological Anthropology from Drew University in Madison NJ, where I studied the human skeletal system and our biological history in great detail.  Structure is an important influence for me.  The human body would be immobile and shapeless without the skeleton, much in the same way that a building would collapse without its internal structure.  Structure is found everywhere in nature, from the smallest cell wall in a plant cell to the largest tree that makes up a forest.  I like using these structures as the inspiration for my design elements. “

So, for those of you keeping score at home, Gus learned to knit in January of this year, got a job at a yarn shop, designed his first pattern, entered a design contest and won it six month after picking up a pair of needles. I suspect that we have discovered a future knitwear designing superstar here, y’all.

And without further ado, I give you Liana.

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How much do I love this shawl? Very, very much.

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[FYI, this pick are of the 3 skein version of the pattern. The four skein version is just that much more lovely and amazing.]

Sadly, I had to say goodbye to Liana this week. I overnighted it back to Gus this weekend so he can take to Rhinebeck this weekend. If you see Gus and his shawl at the festival, please do go up and introduce yourself. I would love for him to be recognized by fans! But if you aren’t going to Rhinebeck, feel free to leave him a comment here– I’ll make sure he sees them all. Now, you are probably wondering how you can get hands on this pattern. So glad you asked. Liana is available with Jimmy Beans amazing Moonshine Bouquets. I got to see these in person when I was in Reno this summer and they are absolutely adorable. The stems are knitting needles, of course.Yarn Bouquets for Knitters!  http://www.jimmybeanswool.com/knitting/yarn/JimmyBeansWool/YarnBouquetsReviews.asp?showLarge=true&specPCVID=60027#detail   More later this week, including a sneak peek at the very exciting project I’m working on.   Big congrats to

Arising from the Dead

I have been AWOL for the last couple of months, which I guess makes this a zombie post? Life had been crazy busy with work and family obligations, a couple of health issues and one big project that I will write about next week. But mostly I’ve been trying to slow down a bit and enjoy the lovely fall we are having.

It has always been my habit to jam pack every single day from the moment I get out of bed until it’s time to return. My To Do lists are epic and, most of the time at least slightly aspirational, as no mere human could possibly accomplish all the tasks I set for myself on a given day. I’ve lived that way for as long as I can remember but things have changed in my life in the past year or so and I am enjoying the slower pace that comes along with having other people in my life.

Last year, I was lucky enough to meet the love of my life.

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He is kind, funny, smart, loyal and devastatingly handsome.

Because I am me, it took me a very long time to believe that this amazing man was interested in me, but over time, I realized that we were pretty amazing together.

Last week, on the anniversary of the day we met, in the exact spot where we met, Mike asked me to marry him. It was the singularly most romantic moment of my life.

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Getting engaged quite unexpectedly renewed my urge to write something for this blog  because I was so anxious to share this amazing moment with all of you, who have been with me through the struggles and joys of the last seven years.

So this blog will be returning from the dead. Maybe not with the manic zeal of the old old days, but with a renew dedication to sharing the things that matter with each other.

There are good days ahead, my friends.

Farm Dogs

I think most of you are well acquainted with the farm dogs.  Currently there are four Maremma Sheepdogs living on the farm to protect the livestock. Maremmas originally hail from Italy, where they were bred over the centuries to withstand the mountain weather and protect sheep and goats from predators. They are related to Great Pyrenees dogs, which is why they look so similar,  but are distinctly their own breed. Our dogs are big, lovey, marshmallowy fluffballs who love people and their flock alike.

Fettucine, or Cini, for short, has been around the longest.

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He’s about 11 years old, and beginning to show his age a bit.  Occasionally his joints bother him, and we keep arthritis meds for him for when he’s having trouble.  Otherwise he still loves to run and play and chase deer.

But what Cini really loves, is little kids.

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He will follow Oona anywhere she goes.  When other little kids come around, Cini is the first one to greet them and ask for belly rubs.  Being a big, 120 lb dog he can sometimes end up scaring the little ones whose feet he wants to sit at, but I’ve never seen anyone not warm up to him yet.

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Most days Cini can be found lounging on the back deck.  If the weather is really bad, we bring him inside.  A lifetime of devoted service to his flock has earned him a cushy retirement, even if he doesn’t seem to accept that he is retired.

He has fathered a few pups in his life, and we still have two: Sabine and Orzo.

Orzo is still quite a teenager.  He is rather bratty, and like his mother Lucy, prone to escape.

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Orzo, on the left, with Lucy

There’s been no keeping him and his mom inside the fence with the flock, but they do manage to do a marvelous job patrolling outside the fence, keeping away any critters who might intrude (usually deer).  During the day they stay on the deck with Cini. Orzo is 3, and is from Lucy’s last litter with Cini.  He has his dad’s love of people to balance out his mom’s brattiness a bit.

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Sabine is Cini’s daughter from Susan’s dog Biscotti, who sadly passed away when Susan  still lived in the Hudson Valley. She is one of the goofiest and friendliest dogs you could ever hope to meet.

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She has her father’s sense of obligation to the flock.  Sabine is the only dog here who stays with the sheep and doesn’t try to escape the confines of the fence.  On the rare occasion that she’s slipped out a carelessly open gate, all I need do is call her back and she dutifully comes straightaway.  Sabine is the essence of “man’s best friend”. If you’re out in the field working the sheep, you can count on Sabine’s nose to be right there at hip level, as close to you as possible.

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Recently she’s taken advantage of the goats’ chewing through the fence to the hay bales; she’s made herself a spot between two of them to snooze during the day.

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Recently when we’ve managed to convince Lucy to stay in the field, she joins Sabine in the hay fort.

Lucy is mom to two litters fathered by Cini.  All of those pups have been adopted out to other farms except Orzo, who I claimed the moment I saw him!

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If Lucy were a human, we would admire her greatly. She is headstrong, smart, knows her own mind and won’t let anyone tell her what to do!

There have been plenty of times when we’ve all been so frustrated with Lucy we’ve wondered how we could possibly manage her.  As she’s gotten older, she’s calmed down quite a lot and a little more patient with us as we try to figure her out. She’s quite taken to Paul, and he is the one I call when she needs fly ointment on her nose, or when she’s stuck in the fence and mad.  She respects him in a way I haven’t seen with anyone else she knows.

We’ve stopped trying to confine her, since she’s so much happier and well behaved when she can roam at will.  It still concerns me that she may venture too far or annoy the neighbors too much, but so far we haven’t seen too much of this (knock on wood!).  She and Orzo (her constant companion) do a fantastic job of greeting all of our visitors.

Every time I walk out the door I see four big, happy dog faces and am reminded how lucky I am to be able to care for them right now, and how lucky we are to have such gentle giants to watch over the flock (and us!).

Dyeing, Dyeing, And Even More Dyeing!

A little while ago I received several large boxes full of Juniper Moon Farm Share Yarn. This is always super exciting for me because it’s my first peek at the actual finished product pulled off the backs of the sheep we know and love.

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My craft room overfloweth! (and my living room, and my garage…..)

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Can’t you just smell that sheepy, wooly goodness?

The Cormo feels divine, and I adore it in its natural state.

BUT.

I get to have fun playing with colors!

Susan gave me some suggestions for color idea this year, and combined with that and a look at previous year’s colors (to be sure I didn’t repeat anything too recent), I started playing around with the dyes.  I wanted colors that were rich but not overbearing, and I wanted to use colorways that I could get consistency from.  Since we dye in smaller batches I didn’t want each batch to be wildly different than the one before it. Reds are notoriously difficult (in my experience) with this, but after some experimentation I found one that worked.  The blue I loved immediately, and the purple gave enough variety in shading to be fun without looking blotchy.

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I am really pleased with the results.  I also love how nicely the yarn blooms out after a bath.

The dyeing will begin in earnest once everyone who bought a share indicates their color choice, and then it will be shipped out the very instant it is dry.

I hope everyone loves this fiber as much as I do!

Happy Fall, Y’all!

The cutest pumpkin in the patch!

Early Fall Farm Report

Early fall is upon us (at least in terms of farming and shepherding!).  It’s time to start making lists of all the work that has to be done before the weather turns cold (and dare we say – snowy?).

First on the list was getting the Angora goats sheared.  Their fleeces grow so very fast that they get sheared twice a year, as opposed to the sheep who are sheared only in the spring. Since the summer was so mild there was some concern that the fall would turn cold quickly, so we wanted to get the goats done early enough to grow back just a bit of fleece before we get any chilly temperatures.

Emily came down a few days ago and unfortunately once she set up the skies turned dark and the thunder began.  We whipped through getting them sheared and the fleeces bagged and got no pictures. But I took some this evening after feeding time, though not all the newly-naked ones were cooperative (I’m looking at YOU, Martin and McPhee!).

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Wembley and Margaret (or Sad Margaret, as we call her, since her ears tend to droop down and her fleece covers her eyes in a way that makes her look perpetually morose)

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Miss Hannah. Doesn’t she look velvety with her new ‘do?

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Roquefort, the Silver Fox

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Keswick

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Cassie

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Lucy

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The goats have worked a hole in the fence by the hay.  Not because they don’t already have a fresh hay bale sitting conveniently out in the field or anything.

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Wimbledon

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Monticello

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Fettuccine the Wonderdog

Soon we’ll be cleaning manure out of the field to till into the gardens for next year, scrubbing out the water troughs, winterizing the chicken coops, and setting up a winter pen for the flock.

Right now we are enjoying spending time outside with the flock in these glorious early fall temperatures.  Stay with us awhile, fall!

Probably something you would like…

Labor Day Weekend Pool Party!

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Hope your weekend is as wild as ours!

It’s A Pig’s Life

I’ve been thinking lately that the pigs are really the best animals we’ve got here.  They’re easy, they’re entertaining, they’re friendly, they’re pretty well self-contained, and they eat just about anything.

In addition to the store-bought pig feed they get twice a day, we feed them lots of our kitchen scraps.  Whenever I chop celery, they get the heads and ends.  Those apples gotten a tad too mealy for us to enjoy? The pigs adore them.  Watermelon rinds? Heck yeah!

It’s pretty convenient with our set-up, because I can open the back door and just toss it out to them.  Sure, they have to fight the chickens a bit, but it’s worth it, because those chickens tend to lay their eggs where the pigs like to nest in the shed.

Yes, pigs nest.  There’s a ton of hay in the goat shed that the pigs have burrowed into and made their own, and the chickens love to go in and lay their eggs in there.

The pigs LOVE fresh eggs.

Spoiled rotten, those two!

As they’ve gotten to know me they are vocal in their affections.  They’ll nudge at me and grunt a bit until I reach down and scratch behind their ears (or give them the tops from the carrots we’ve pulled from the garden).  Charley has always been a love, but Churchill took a bit longer to warm up to people.  He’s still stand-offish with new faces.  I feel crazy proud that he’s let me into his affections.

Another thing I’ve come to love is what we call “The Piggy Chorus”.  It happens twice a day.  When they decide it’s high-time to be fed they start singing and squealing for us.  Then, when they’ve spied us headed out with our buckets, they grunt appreciatively.

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Check out the little tusks!  Even though they are neutered, they’ve both grown a small (but impressive!) set of tusks.

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Isn’t Churchill such a handsome boy?

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As for Charley, he tends to develop pig alopeocia every summer. It’s due to how much he likes to roll around in the dirt and mud, and his bristles wear off.  When it first starts he walks around with a pretty bitchin’ mohawk until he manages to rub off that as well.

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Tonight I brought out some little watermelons for them to enjoy; Charley was too busy rooting around for something in the mud.

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Churchill was more than happy to have Charley’s share!

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