Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Bunny Days of Christmas

Merry Christmas from Reindeer Station Farm. May we present The Bunny Days of Christmas. Click Here.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Up on the Rooftops

Remember when I said that Twisk could fly and was going to pull Santa's sleigh this year? Well, I just know there were those of you who doubted me. Therefore I offer the following deposition:

Josh (17-year-old-son): Your white bunny was out last night.
Me: Yeah, right. Very funny.
Josh: It was. I'm serious.
Me: You are such a kidder.
Josh: I AM NOT KIDDING. It was out running around on the floor and I had to catch it.
Me: Really? Really?! I KNEW he was really going to go out and pull Santa's sleigh last night. I KNEW it and no one believed me.
Josh (rolling his eyes): Yeah, Mom.

So, there you have it. Twisk spent the night helping Santa deliver presents to your house and I have empirical evidence.

You're welcome.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

All Together Now

It's almost moving day for the babies. Two of the girls, Wilfin Beck and MissDubh will be going home with their new mommy on Sunday and Tweed and Treacle's new mommy plans to pick them up sometime next week. I am SO HAPPY to have found good homes for my babies. And so glad I invested so much time in handling them. They are good bunny citizens and should transition well to their new homes.

Now will somebunny please pass the tissues?

Monday, November 29, 2010

We Now Return You to Your Regularly Scheduled Farming

The girls wanted to show off their new coats. I think Lili's is the prettiest. Blue is her color. I was sincerely hoping not to have to change their coats again after I bought them new ones in the spring, but they were already looking like chubby matrons determined to fit into their skinny jeans so I broke down and called Jim Shaw who is my go-to guy for fiber covers. It's nice when you need to order something but you're not quite sure what you need and there's a real live person who answers the phone and doesn't mind running through your options for you. Plus, the first time I ever talked to Jim he was on his way out the door to take his wife out to eat. He automatically got an A+ for that.

The older I get the more I appreciate the personal approach . . . from who grew my food to who made the hat I'm wearing (not always me) and where it came from. There's only so much "mega," "super," and "one-stop" I can stand. Just going into a warehouse-type store like Costco or Home Depot gives me hives. Not that I don't appreciate them for what they're worth. If I need Christmas lights, fine. But they're like sugar. A little bit goes a long way. I called about a credit card offer not long ago and one of the perks was - get this - that when you called a REAL PERSON ANSWERS THE PHONE. Hello?! THAT'S WHAT OUGHT TO HAPPEN!

That's why I like what I do. I am hands-on from the mucking of the barn (that was yesterday's chore) to shirting the fleece (that's when you take the poo out of it) to the carding and spinning and knitting, and now weaving. And I like it that way. After all, what fun is something that's exactly like 1,000 other somethings? It's not hard to be unique. God made us all that way. So celebrate it!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Open Letter to the Easter Bunny

Dear Mr. Easter Bunny,

I am sure you are very busy even though there are a few months until Easter so I will be brief. I would like a job as a Bunny-in-Training. I recently worked on Alice in Wonderland with Johnny Depp, maybe you've heard of him? Hosts a great tea if you can keep Alice out of the teapot and you don't invite the March Hare.

Anyway, I was thinking about my career options (as you know they are rather limited for a white rabbit) and candy has always rather appealed to me, little children not so much, but every job has less desirable aspects. Anyway, I could really use the work. I need to strike out on my own, get my own digs, free myself from the chains of providing fiber for this obsessed woman who calls herself "Mom." I have some temporary work coming up pulling Santa's sleigh, but it won't last forever. So, if the job is available, I'm your rabbit. Please let me know as soon as possible.

c/o Reindeer Station Farm

Friday, November 26, 2010

This Just In

Twisk has decided to audition for the role of Easter Bunny this year.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

My New Best Friend

See that shop vac? It's my new best friend. I met a bunny lady at Rhinebeck (The Duchess County New York Sheep and Wool Festival - honestly it's like THE place to go if you 're a fiber person. It would take weeks to see it all properly. But I digress.) Anyway, she told me about rabbit blowing. I kid you not. You blow rabbit coats to get rid of dust and untangle the fibers, like they do with show dogs. I was warned not to do it inside and am I glad I took that advice. See exhibit A above . . . where I wrote "bunny dust" in the bunny dust. But remember, I was outside so most of it blew away. I seriously thought I'd done something wrong at first and that the shop vac was blowing dust from inside itself onto the rabbits. But, no. It was rabbit dust coming out from the air of the shop vac. I was amazed. So now all my rabbits are dust-free except for Mama Poppet and the babies.

I'm not done blabbing about my babies yet, but since they are all growing up and will be leaving - WAH! - in about four weeks I can promise that soon I will not have such a one-track mind. It's been all about rabbits here lately though. Over the course of a couple weeks I moved all 12 rabbits into the basement. I'm still waiting on one last 3-hole cage that Lucas is making for me and then I will have a total of 9 holes (cages) in 3 stacks. And that will be all I can handle. So right now that leaves me with 2 empty holes. Oh deary me - shall I have to find two more rabbits to fill them? What a shame! LOL!!

Anyway, now that they're all inside I am so relieved. I can do rabbit chores (which are by nature a bit fiddly) in the relative warmth of the basement. And I can do whatever I need to grooming-wise without having to worry that someone is going to die of exposure because of the fickle weather. I've got a couple coats right now that are holding on by a thread and within a weeks will be completely off. Which is good because I am at this very moment spinning up all my angora. I'm spinning it thread weight and will ply to lace weight. IT IS GORGEOUS! Even I'm impressed with it, if I can say that without coming off like I'm bragging. It's beautiful.

AND I started weaving this week so I now know enough to start weaving up some angora scarves. I'm getting the first one, but if there's any interest and the customers at Six Loose Ladies don't keep my stock depleted a few will probably find their way onto Etsy, which I have been sadly neglecting lately as real life has caught up with me.

And now I'm going to go warp my own loom. Why? Because I finally know how!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

It's Official

As you can see, they all fit pretty snugly in that basket I use to bring them up and down stairs to play with them. I picked that basket because it has a lid. Unfortunately the lid doesn't lock and they are now big enough to get out of it. I found this out when I put the basket on the dryer and started filling food bowls and tidying up the cage before I put them back in with Poppet. The next thing I know there's a little white body hurtling down between the cage and the dryer. It wasn't much of a drop and there was some clothes or something wedged in there, but still, it scared the snot out of me. Twisk wasn't the slightest bit scared. Not even a little surprised. Just seemed to realize that all that take-off practice had finally paid off. So from now on, the basket stays on the floor. Anyway, I had considered keeping Twisk (the white rabbit) and now it's official. He can fly so he must stay at Reindeer Station Farm, home of the flying rabbits.

I brought these guys up last night and let them play in a big box Rob brought home from work. First I gave them all massages. I would love to know if I'm the only person who does this. I've never heard of anyone else doing it. I discovered how much bunnies love massages when I was trying to find a way to make friends with Merry who, if you remember, is evil. She still attacks me sometimes when I first go in her cage, but once I start massaging her head and body she seems to decide that I can live. For today.

They all love it. If they're not used to it they can be a little jumpy until they trust you, but you know they are really relaxing when a) they let you put their head in your hand to massage it or b) they get so loosey-goosey they relax enough to rest their head on the bottom of the cage and you can hear their teeth touching the cage wire (it's a bit like hearing fingernails on a blackboard, but it means they are really relaxed.) Sometimes they tooth-purr - it's like cat purring only they do it by grinding their teeth.

Anyway, after their massages you can see they were very relaxed and they got into some of the funniest positions. In one of those pictures above Wilfin Beck (the blue one) is completely on his back. There were some other really great ones but they happened so fast I couldn't catch them on film. The picture of Treacle (the greyish tan one) with his legs out behind him is one of my favorite bunny poses. It's only beat by when they are completely on their side. You know a bunny is happy and content if it feels safe enough to lay on it's side. The bunny book calls that a bunny smile.

I call them all "him" because I can't tell yet what they are and it just makes life simpler. I can't believe they'll be four weeks old on Thursday. Then I can only play with them for another four weeks before they go to live in their new homes. Rob says I'm going to cry when they leave. He's probably right. At least I know they all have good homes to go to. That makes it WAY easier.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Super Powers

I took the nestbox out yesterday because the babies weren't using it much. Now they have more room to hop around which is good because Poppet seems to be driven a bit to distraction by all of them. They are eating hay and oats and I caught one drinking from the water bottle I put at baby level. (I caught Poppet drinking out of that bottle too even though she has her own!!) I think they might be nibbling at her food too.

They are like little kids who discover they have a superpower...they will be hopping along and all of a sudden they shoot halfway across the cage and they're like, "Whoa! That was AWESOME! Ma! Ma, did you SEE that?? Did you all see that???" Too funny.

Having these babies is one of the most entertaining things I've ever done. Unfortunately now I'm sick so I'm afraid to hold them. Can rabbits catch colds?? So I watch them like bunny T.V. There are no commercials and you get a lot of entertainment bang for your buck.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010


So last Thursday I was feeding the bunnies at 6 in the morning and what did I find but Poppet pulling out her fur to make a fluffier nest for her BABIES!!! I had given up on her having babies. Last month's breeding was a false alarm and she didn't seem pregnant this time either even though I knew what I was doing this time when I bred her to Lucky.

There were six living babies and one very large dead one. I've heard the large ones often suffocate during birth. When we were raising rabbits when I was growing up we always lost the runt so I was worried about ours. And we did lose him, but I'm not sure we would have if Poppet hadn't gotten sick. The temperature plummeted one night and stupid me, I brought the babies inside, but not Poppet. I figured she had plenty of fur, but I didn't take into account that she'd plucked herself practically naked underneath. Anyway, when I brought the babies back to her Sunday morning she was not acting right and she had all the signs of GI stasis. So we ended up at the vet's for IV fluids and medicine. And the next day I got to put my old nursing degree to work giving her IV fluids myself to save a trip back to the vet. I even administered a shot in the line. Goes to prove what I always say, no education is a total waste. I think I've already given more shots, meds, and treatments as a farmer than I ever did as a nurse!! LOL!!

While Poppet was recovering I had to "help" her nurse by holding her and letting the babies latch on. Needless to say she did not like it, but she wasn't feeling well enough to protest either until early Monday morning around 1. She decided she'd had enough "help" and was ready to feed them on her own terms. Which was a relief because they were looking none too fat to me, but by last night, as you can see from the picture, their little tummies had filled right up. She's a really good mom and doesn't mind at all when I take them out for a bit to "bunny sit."

The only colors I know I have are one blue, one black and maybe one white. The two tan ones could be fawn or tort or chestnut...I'm not sure. The white could be pearl or opal. We'll have to wait and see when they get more hair. Now that the worst of the danger is past I'm looking forward to enjoying them instead of worrying about them. :^)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Life and Death

Let me tell you, starting your morning with a mercy killing is a real joy killer.

I love most everything about farming and the aspects I don't care for (ie., carrying water in the winter, moving the sheep fencing AGAIN, agonizing over vetting decisions) aren't really all that bad in the scheme of things. But the one thing I hate about farming, though I think it's helped me grow up a little, is dealing with death. Because if there's one thing farm animals aren't it's hardy.

Take our chickens for example. A couple nights ago it was a raccoon trying to carry one off. Yesterday it was a Cooper hawk that almost got one of the babies and then was trying for a hen. The other day one died out of the blue. No reason. Just dropped dead. (I was worried about that until I talked to other chicken people and they confirmed. Yep, sometimes for no reason whatsoever they just drop dead. Of course, she was my favorite.)

This morning it was a chipmunk. Not strictly speaking, a farm animal, per se, but it was lying in the doorway of a stall this morning when my daughter and I were doing our twice weekly horse chores feeding 20 plus horses. I think he was a victim of Oscar, the barn cat, who, catlike, didn't bother to finish him off. Thanks to the good people on the angora list I had several options to humanely euthanize it having had the gumption to ask about that in relation to my rabbits should the need ever arise. I wondered at the time if I would be brave enough to actually do it, but when you are faced with letting an animal die a slow agonizing death or ending its suffering you put on your big girl panties and do what needs to be done. And to do that you forget, for a moment, all the cute human characteristics that you give animals making them like little, adorable people who even when they are grumpy are incredibly lovable.

Which is why I say I think having to deal with the starkness of sickness and death have made me grow up a little and accept some of the more gruesome facts of life. Like animals die sometimes and if you get worked up about each and every little one you're wasting a lot of energy. Mother Nature can be cruel and sometimes life just sucks that way. That's when I try to remember that even Beatrix Potter was realistic about such things and she was just as prone to anthropomorphize animals as I am. After purchasing one of her first farms, Hilltop, she came out one day to observe the first litter of piglets that had been born on her farm. She asked the farmer if he'd named them yet. He replied, "We don't generally name them. Makes it hard come butchering time." You can bet that didn't stop her from eating them.

Still, losing that naivete kinda takes the bloom off life somehow. Makes you feel so gall-darned grown-up.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Carnage in the Coop

I'm pretty sure that a chicken squawking woke me up at 2:30 this morning. But I wasn't positive. So I risked my husband's wrath (he doesn't take kindly to being woken up but claims he's not responsible for his actions when he's half asleep) and shook him awake to make sure he'd put the chickens up last night. He said he had so I went back to sleep . . . after a loooooooooong time. Before I actually fell asleep I could hear a pack of coyotes howling like the hounds of hell.

I figure I had just drifted off . . . finally . . . when there was an almighty commotion. Rachel was yelling, Rob was running, and somewhere something was screaming and it went on and on. I was so out of it my biggest impressions are of following Rob outside to check the coop and doing a lot of whimpering. He wanted to know how many chickens we have (7, 2 chicks, and 1 rooster) and thought at first that they were all there, but then realized one was missing. She must not have gone into the coop with the others when it got dark and he didn't notice when he closed them in. We were about to go looking for her when she tottered out of the woods looking a bit dazed and headed straight for the light streaming out of the coop. No blood, no cuts, no nothing. Some ruffled feathers, that was all.

Our best guess is that it was the raccoon we've been having trouble with. Rob yelling as he ran out of the house probably saved the chicken's life scaring away the coon. I'm wondering if we might not have to live trap that beastie and relocate him somewhere far, far away. We haven't had coons around in something like 25 years. The foxes and coyotes are enough trouble.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Beginner's Luck?

This is probably a case of what you don't know can't hurt you, but since I did (you knew I would) buy the loom I went to look at, which looks just like the one in the photo so I won't bore you with a picture of MY ACTUAL loom, and the lady I bought it from had put a small warp on it I just HAD to PLAY with it even though I don't have a clue what I'm doing. So you can call it beginner's luck if you'd like because once I actually know what I'm doing I'll probably be embarrassed by these photos, but this is what I made!! The whole piece is like two feet long and I made it in about a half hour!! I don't know if that's fast or slow but it seemed like lightning speed to me. I always thought weaving was a slow process. (I know warping can take close to forever.) But heck, at this rate I could have a set of dishtowels in under an hour. Now I REALLY can't wait to take my weaving classes. Sadly I wove myself right to the end of my warp and I don't know how to do another one so unless I figure it out I think I'm going to have to wait. But my new woven angora scarf is so close I can almost feel it!

One of the upy-downy thingys on the loom was sticking so my capable husband removed it and planed it down (or some other carpenterly thing) and now it works great. It's also got an added piece on the end that is supposed to help keep the threads aligned. And since it didn't come with a shuttle I bought this one on Etsy. It's a vintage Shambow Shuttle and looks lovely. I can't wait until it arrives. I had to do my whole little trial without one. At least now I have a good appreciation for them!

Time to feed the bunnies. Next time I will try to give you an update on how the chemo projects are going.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Getting Loomy

So I saw an ad for a 4 harness Dorset loom (like this one) at Six Loose Ladies on Thursday and I've had looms on the brain since I took it in my head to learn how to weave so I could make woven angora scarves. They have the most amazing feel and drape. I saw one at the MA Sheep and Wool and have been obsessed with making one ever since. (They were selling for $120!!). And as we all know I have plenty of Angora rabbits to make them from. Speaking of which, I put Poppet's nesting box in her cage tonight. Fingers crossed we should have some babies in a couple days. I'm pacing nervously. Sheesh, you'd think I was the father.

So, anyway, long story short my friend Suzanne and I are going to take a little field trip. I'm going to help her evaluate fiddles at a violin shop and she's going to check out this loom for me. Maybe we'll both get lucky and come home with a new fiddle and loom respectively. Oh, and we're also going to take a short side trip to Delectable Mountain Cloth. Fiddles, fiber, and cloth. Field trips don't get much better than that!!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Solar Dyeing

Fun in the sun probably doesn't mean the same thing to me as it does to most people. This summer my fun in the sun has been to play around with solar dyeing. Usually I dye with Country Classics, which I love, but I have to take all the normal precautions: rubber gloves, special equipment, dyeing outdoors because of fumes, careful disposal of waste water. This year I wanted to try something a bit more natural and I also wanted less work. Call me lazy.

So I collected some pickle jars and tried Wilton Icing Dyes. You can eat them so no special precautions necessary. I have had SO MUCH FUN!! I've gotten some great colors too. I've even tried painting the dye on rather than soaking it and that worked too. Fortunately for me the sun has been cooperative this year, meaning we've actually had some. Here are pix for shows some of my fawn angora in its natural state. Next to it is the same color dyed buttercup yellow. I thought it was pretty spectacular. The angora takes the dye even better than wool does.

That's my Nepalese drop spindle you see in the pic. It's a Golding Rob got it for me for my birthday this year. I've been spinning Merry up on it. The other pic shows the yarn in relation to a penny so you can judge the size better. It's not quite thread weight. I'm going to ply it to lace weight and make a shawl, I think.

This angora was shorn because I started off shearing my rabbits. But I discovered that shearing leaves a thick butt end that I don't like. It's hard to spin. Plucking, on the other hand, leaves the fiber in the perfect state to just start spinning and it spins like a dream. No prep required. Fits my lazy streak to a T. As a bonus I get to spend more time with my rabbits because plucking is time consuming. There are always one or two rabbits ready to blow their coats. I only have six right now but I pluck for an hour or more a week usually. Rob is always picking on me because I'm constantly covered in fluff. But I love it and I get to know my rabbits very well. Shearing is fast, but then there's no real need to handle the rabbits for 3-4 months.

Next year though I've decided to shear everyone no matter what state their coat is in at the beginning of the summer. (Or, rather, bribe Lucas into shearing them.) It's madness for them to carry heavy coats all summer because most of them don't pluck naked so their shortest coat is 1/2 inch or so. If they are sheared at the beginning of summer they will avoid carrying a thick coat through the summer and be much more comfortable. Then I can pluck all fall/winter/spring and still get lots of great fiber. And the shorn stuff makes lovely, soft corespun without a lot of fuss.

So, you know, just in case you were wondering about how I handle all that fiber. Yeah.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Twinkle Titties – Rated R

I promise, I’m not starting a trend of rated posts. But this one is about breast prostheses. Knitted ones, to be precise. With pictures, no less. One of my dreams when I got into fiber arts a little over a year ago was to be able to design my own patterns for knitting and crochet. Of course, in order to do that it would be helpful if I could knit and crochet myself. My dad used to always tell me (when he wanted my help putting a bike or toy together) that I had spatial vision. I’m not sure I really do, but I do recognize two qualities in myself that are helpful in this area. 1) If I can figure out how to manipulate the material I can make almost anything and 2) things are almost always put together in a logical fashion and if you can figure out the logic you can put it together.

All of which meant that, in theory, if I could figure out *how* to knit I could design patterns. I got some books to help me but of course have been too busy to read them yet. And in the meantime I’ve found the need to make knitted breast prostheses. In the back of my mind I’ve wanted to start a line of chemo products for nearly a year. My idea is that if I can find volunteers to do the knitting and I donate the spinning and make my own patterns we can donate the products to oncology departments for women going through chemo and people who are not inclined to knit can buy them for friends with breast cancer as a little treat during a bleak time.

I started my first chemo cap several years ago when I found out a mom in my daughter’s class had breast cancer. I broke a needle before I finished and it ended up getting put aside. Then I got seriously interested in fiber arts and I thought wouldn’t it be great to make chemo caps from handspun, really soft, fun and funky yarn? And then I met another breast cancer patient and I thought it was a great opportunity to try out my idea. So I spun up some sorbet colored merino/silk and knit a chemo cap, found a pattern for a knitted titty, spun up some angora for the skin side of that and Patty, my MIL knitted it up for me. That pattern can’t be used for anything but personal use so I knew I needed to make up my own. (To be honest, Patty and I had to fight with the yarn and needles trying to follow that pattern so I was just as happy to have to design my own, which is much simpler and produces an incredibly realistic nipple, if I do say so myself. But don’t take my word for it, look at the picture.)

So, what you see in these pictures is the result of my pattern designing knit up in luscious pink silk with a few scattered beads to “twinkle” and look pretty, and a crocheted edging just to pretty it up a little more. Honestly, it almost makes me jealous that I can’t use it myself.

Here’s how my chemo fiber arts projects work. I’m planning to sell my pattern, my own designed and knitted prostheses, and kits on my Etsy site. It takes me about 4 hours to knit one and that doesn’t include the edging, stuffing, closing, or finding and painting words of courage and hope on a stone placed inside for weight so don’t think I’m making a profit on these. But I’m hoping it’ll allow me to splash out on really nice fibers that I don’t care to spin up (like silk and bamboo) for prostheses that are suitable for summer months. I am also looking for volunteers to knit them and I’m accepting donations of fiber for the prostheses and the chemo caps (I’m still working on my own pattern for those.)

All the donated items will be available on my Etsy site for donation to anyone you know who is undergoing treatment for breast cancer or you can purchase them for general donation as they become available. I am currently looking for a general donation site. If you know of or can recommend one let me know. I am donating some of my own flock and herd’s fiber (luckily I raise some of the softest sheep available) and am looking for a fiber store to at least donate the shipping on other soft, pretty fiber. I have one in mind, but haven’t contacted the owner yet. All of this has come together rather suddenly and I’m super excited about it, but at the same time am still sane enough to know I need help to make it work.

And that is the story of the humble beginnings of the Pretty Titty Knitting Endeavor of Twinkle Titties where we feel that choosing a breast prosthesis should give you that same little thrill of feminine excitement that choosing a pretty bra does.

If you would like to read a hilarious account of how this all got started for me, click here.

Bunny Love (PG-13)

There was a time when my life didn't revolve around bunnies.

I think.

Warning: the following post is rated on account of the contents which describe my first bunny mating supervision. It's ridiculous really. I was so excited to have baby bunnies that I could hardly sleep waiting for the day to come. Lucas brought Lucky Buck (seriously, that's his name) over to my house Friday and we sheared both him and the mom-to-be, Poppet. When I say"we" I really mean Lucas. He did all the hard work. I just held the bunnies.

So Sunday was the day I picked because I was supposed to have the whole day to do what I wanted. Which is rare for me. Lucas said to bring them for a drive early in the morning. I kid you not. Something about the vibration helping start ovulation. For all I know he was having a quiet chuckle over his morning coffee picturing me taking the love buns on a little excursion. But since this was my first time and I didn't want to leave anything to chance I did it. I took them to my local quick stop which also houses the branch post office where I get my mail. I did have a fleeting thought of finding a lover's lane and taking a little walk to give them some privacy but pulled myself together because a) that's rubbish, and b) the computer guru called just before I left and said could he come and fix my computer today? (Sure, why not, this is only the MOST IMPORTANT DAY OF MY YEAR SO FAR.)

So anyway, back to the barn and popped the bunnies into Lucky's cage so Lucky could, well, get lucky. (You knew I was going to get that in there somehow, I know you did.) The thing is bunny love isn't at all romantic. This is what was *supposed* to happen. Lucky was supposed to chase Poppet around for a bit. Then I was supposed to *help* him by putting my hand on her head so she'd drop down. Then Lucky was supposed to do his thing, grunt, and fall off. But Lucky practically went to sleep after doing his *thing* for awhile. No noise at all. Not a peep. I wanted to offer him a cigarette and ask if he was done but instead I pulled Poppet out of the cage. She gave me a disgusted "how in the name of all that is green could you do that to me?" look and I had to pet her and coddle her until she settled down and forgot about it. I don't know what the rabbits thought of it, I suppose it was all quite natural for them. I, on the other hand, felt slightly sick about it.

A few hours later we had to go through the whole process again. Still no grunt, nothing. Last chance at night chores and finally, finally, yep, he grunted and fell over like someone had shot him. Just to be sure I let him do it again; same thing. So I think *finger crossed* that we are expecting. Now since I'm so heavily invested emotionally I'm wondering if I'll have sympathy pregnancy cravings and stuff. And what will I crave? Plantain? Dandelion greens? Carrots?

Lucas thinks it's funny that I expect to be able to sell the babies (I do too if you must know) but if I don't I won't be able to have any more so I have to sell them. Both Lucky and Poppet are registered French Angoras and we have one of their previous offspring, Arya, who has the most amazingly dense coat I've ever seen on any rabbit. She's a blue and next in line to be bred. Since she lives in the house she can be bred any time so there may be a Christmas litter coming. We are starting a waiting list for these babies so if you or anyone you know is interested get in touch.

More later . . . I have to go decorate the nursery.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Reports of my Death . . .

have been greatly exaggerated. The reports of Fergal's near death experience have not. I almost lost my little cutie to bunny colic (or GI stasis, or whatever clinical name you want to give it.) But Dr. Bruce pulled him through and I'm relieved, thankful, and grateful that he made it because I just wuv that rabbit!!!

My camera has been overexposing everything (ie, pic left) and I had to bring it to the shop. Turns out it was operator problems. Somehow a setting had been changed so no actual repair was needed, but it did curtail any photo documentary I was contemplating for quite awhile, hence my photographic silence. As well I've had computer problems.

It's been a rough summer. My husband had a couple major work related accidents and my computer finally died. (I'm getting a new cherry red laptop as a result so I'm not complaining too loudly.) But I did get to see the ocean one day and that's always amazing. I've been feverishly making yarns, batts, and stitch markers for the shops and the farmer's market which I've been attending on Tuesdays. I've about stretched my "vacation" days as far as they'll go and so far I've actually had two days all summer to call my own, but that's life.

Next time I'll try to explain my newest fiber adventure, dubbed by my chemo-undergoing friend Janice as "Pretty Titty Knitting." So, stay tuned. You're not going to want to miss this. And since the camera is working there may even be pictures.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Featured in Rutland Magazine!!

The new issue of Rutland Magazine is out with Susan Orzell-Rantanen's wonderful article about the studio and farm. And guess whose fuzzy mug is featured in all its cuteness?? The girls are also showcased and there's a pic of some of my yarns and products. Funny thing is everyone is all fluffy in the pictures and the very next day they were bald as eggs!

This link will help you find your very own copy of the magazine, but leave some for me!! Beatrix is already asking me to get her some sunglasses. Aw, the price of fame . . .

Friday, May 28, 2010

Up, Up, and Away

This is St. John (pronounced Sinjun). As far as I know he's the world's only flying bunny. And, like flying reindeer, I only have the proof that he did it; I didn't get to witness the event. In fact, the whole thing was so traumatic It's taken me this long to write about it.

St. John has been here nearly two weeks. He is the most wonderful little bunny. When he arrived he was about 5 weeks old and before you ask, no, I did not plan to add another bunny. Especially a boy bunny, but at a bunny meeting I discovered that Fergal matured into much too small a specimen of bunnyhood to reproduce (I mean, he's capable, but short bunny genes aren't ones we want to pass along, so to speak) so he's going to just continue on his life as a spoiled pet. I might check into getting him fixed though as his spraying has gotten really bad.

Anyway, I saw St. John's father at the bunny meeting and St. John needed a home and well, here he is. He has THE most lovely fiber. When you blow on it you can see how crimpy it is. His father was absolutely stunning and his mom was beautiful too. Because the house is Fergal's domain and smelling other bunnies around the place just makes him mark more territory I've been letting St. John run around in places where Fergal isn't allowed to go and also on the porch, where it doesn't matter because it's mostly self-cleaning out there since there's no roof. The other bunnies have been out there and I've never had a problem. Until St. John.

I put him out one day and decided to just skip down to the mailbox to post some letters. I wasn't gone five minutes and when I got back I went out to collect St. John. Except that he wasn't there. Anywhere. HE WAS GONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! No amount of exclamation marks can fully convey my horror. When it finally sank in that he really WASN'T THERE it also began to sink in that I could hear flopping noises UNDER THE PORCH. Now, let me explain at this point that the porch floor is at least 9 feet from the ground at its closest point.

First thought that went through my head, "He's fallen and broken his back and he's under the porch writhing around in agony!!!" I flew around the house and as soon as I could see under the porch I saw that a) St. John was indeed under the porch and b) St. John did not appear to be hurt in any way, but he was seriously FREAKED OUT. He was running back and forth thumping loudly. I was terrified that he was going to take off and I'd never catch him. I tried talking in a soft voice as I approached, but he was waaaaaaaaay too freaked out. The look on his face plainly said that he knew I was going to eat him. My son had left an aquarium under the porch at some point and St. John kept running behind it on his trips back and forth. So I quietly moved it against the foundation and on his next lap he ran right into it and I grabbed him. Not gracefully. I grabbed the first thing that met my hand, which happened to be his big bunny slippers.

That's when he started screaming.

And when I say screaming, I mean screaming. High and shrill, like a terrified woman. And he kept screaming. It seemed like hours. I petted him and told him it was okay and he screamed and screamed. I was sure he'd gotten hurt somehow and was going to quietly die from internal injuries. I bawled my head off and sat in the house with him on my lap for at least fifteen minutes howling like a baby. St. John barely moved. I put him in his cage. He laid down. I brought him into the bathroom with me while I got ready to leave. Usually he hopped around on the floor. He laid down. I was sure he was hurt. But after about fifteen minutes he started to perk up and eat and act normal. Turns out he's fine; I think he was in shock. I, on the other hand, may never recover.

Never a dull day at Reindeer Station Farm . . .

So, yes, in case anyone asks you; bunnies CAN fly.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Taming of the Roux

So Roux and Jak-Jak have been in jail (ie., their stall) and every day I've been spending time getting them used to me. It's been a bit like this (click here) which may give you some idea of where Jak-Jak got his name from. No actual spitting yet though, I'm happy to report. A bit of threatening, rather like a ball player hawking up and getting prepared, but no bonafide spit as of yet (and no fire.) They both eat grain from my hand now and Jak-Jak grudgingly allows me to breath air in the same time zone. Occasionally in his actual presence. He's even let me brush hay off his fur without violence. (Though I've since found out that if you want to annoy a camelid that's one of the best ways to do it. I have a lot to learn.)

In the meantime ("the meantime" being an as yet undetermined length of time until I feel safe enough to try putting them back outside) I've ordered a halter for Roux (which arrived today) and this book which should effectively teach me how to be a camelid whisperer. Who knows, maybe it'll open up whole new worlds to me. Or not. But at least it should prove helpful in getting them in the barn, out of the barn, in the barn, out of the barn, with the least amount of panic possible.

In other fiber areas I had this little idea floating around in my head for painting with wool, picture coming soon. Now I'm anxious to explore all sorts of other avenues along the same lines. Painting with wool is fun! But the big news of course was the big snowstorm we got. Practically in May. My poor apple blossoms!! (Above) I was out beating snow off the lilacs with a broom because they were bent to the ground. Gotta love Vermont.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Continuing Saga

Since you will all probably get a hearty laugh out of this pull up a chair and I'll tell you a short story . . . a couple days ago Beatrix missed the gate and ended up outside the fence instead of inside. We had a devil of a time getting her back in and Max helped by chasing her around so we could get her near the gate. My husband finally lassoed her with a fish net. (I told you you'd laugh.) But the funniest part is that today, when I put them in the fence (after all the chasing last night with the camelids I was anxious that they all make it inside without incident, which they did) Beatrix went back outside the fence before I could get the gate shut, trotted up to Max and gave him a playful push as if to say, "Hey, you wanna play that game again? The one where I run and you chase me?"


If looks could kill we'd be having mutton for dinner. I still can't believe she did that. So this morning we had another lively game of chase the runaway animal. Last night one of the chickens flew the coop. Now if only a bunny would run away all our bases would be covered and I could stop waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Reindeer Station Rodeo

When Beatrix wouldn't go in the fence with the other sheep yesterday and we had to chase her around the ominous music should have started playing because it just got better from there. How, you ask, could it possibly get better than Beatrix running circles around the electric fence with Max at her heels and Rob and I chasing her with a fish net and bug net respectively? (I didn't grab the nets, just so you know. Rob did. But they came in handy.) Oh, just hold onto your socks, cause that's just the beginning.

Today I put the girls in the winter pasture with the boys so they could continue their acquaintance and learn how to all get along (preferably with no spitting.) A couple hours later I got a call that the sheep were out. It's odd how when you get strange animals all of a sudden you start meeting your neighbors. The lady next door has lived in that house for years, but I'd never met her until tonight. She's very nice. They had the sheep put back in the pen before I even got down to the barn. She was tickled to see the llama and alpaca up close and personal.

She got to see them from a bit further away just an hour or so later when Rachel and I tried to bring them into the barn and they bolted for the high road. In fact she got quite a show as we chased them around her house and through her yard, and then Rachel went back for Josh. And then the three of us chased them. They ran across the street stopping traffic . . . a guy in a car who laughed his head off at them and then drove away. We cornered them for awhile by one house. The people came out to see if we wanted help and started snapping pictures. We're probably plastered all over Facebook and YouTube by now. (I have to pause here to say that it did cross my mind how ludicrous it all was . . . picture this . . . a nice, well manicured lawn, classical music spilling out of the house. I can see the lady inside getting dinner on the table. And just outside we're racing like lunatics around and around their house. You should maybe peek outside because the same thing might be happening on your lawn. Hey, you never know.)

Sadly, we couldn't corner them there so we chased them around some more, invading loads of other neighbor's yards. Fortunately most of them weren't home. Then back across the road (fortunately) and onto our meadows where the kids pushed them back, back, back to Rob's grandparents' where there were fences. I still didn't think we had any real hope of catching them when Josh, in a feat of heroism, made a desperate lunge at Roux and managed to grab hold of his neck. It was all over after that. With one of us on each side we quick-marched him back to the barn and Jak-Jak had no choice but to follow.

After that Lucas had to talk me down out of a tree.

When I could think and speak rationally again he assured me that life would go on, that everything would be okay, and that he'd help me figure out a safer way to get them in and out so I never, ever, under any circumstances have to go through that again. Which is good because I'm getting really attached to them. Well, Roux anyway, and I really don't want to have to bring them back. They give the farm a certain je ne sais quoi. Though tonight they mostly just give it mild heart failure.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Yes Virginia You Can Pack an Alpaca and a Llama Into an SUV

A lot of people have been waiting with bated breath to find out if you can indeed wedge a full grown alpaca and a baby llama into the back of an SUV (as Lucas so confidently claimed - yes sir, I bow to your experience and wisdom in these matters) and I dare say we can now state, with utter confidence, that yes, you can Virginia. You can pack them in there. In fact, there is room to spare. What you cannot do, Virginia, is keep them lying down while you drive (particularly as your cruise nonchalantly past officers of the law and the crowded sidewalks of normally sleepy towns at which points and for the record, Lucas, it becomes rather difficult to "speed up and take a few sharp corners" - I'm just saying) and you also cannot keep them from spitting inside your car. Yes, they spit. At least the alpaca does. The little guy has better manners so far.

So, yes, Rachel and I intrepidly traveled to Lucas's place to pick these guys up. I almost hate to tell you the names they came with because after a lot of deliberation I've decided to change/alter them. It's not because I didn't like the names they came with, it's just that, well, for one thing, the little guy's (he's the llama) name was Poindexter. Which I totally love. But try saying that in a sentence when you refer to him. It takes all day. So we're going to call him Roux (like rue or if you prefer roo, only French.) It's actually the name of a Johnny Depp character in Chocolat. And he just looks like a Roux. He eats grain out our hands and sniffs our faces all over (breath mints are clearly in order . . . for him, not us . . . if you've ever come up close and personal with a llama you'll find, trust me on this, that they smell remarkably like silage. A matter you're not likely to encounter until you have one kissing your face.)

The big guy was Jake and we're sorta keeping that, except that he looks like a pirate and is rather grumpy and set in his ways. So we're calling him Cap'n Jake Blythe. Or mostly, probably, Cap'n for short. Not that I'd wish this on him, but really he ought to have an eye patch and a peg leg and stump around growling, "Arrrh, me hearties."

Needless to say Rachel has really gotten into this whole camelid thing and scoots down to the barn at odd hours to feed Roux grain from her hand and try to talk the Cap'n into liking her. She is, while I type this, making camelid cookies from a recipe we found online. Like I said . . .

The Boys

Monday, April 5, 2010

Made in Vermont Etsy Street Team Giveaway

It's my turn to give something away on the Made in Vermont Etsy Street Team blog. I spent quite a lot of time trying to decide what exactly to give away. My Etsy shop is an eclectic mix of fiber art and vintage. I thought it would be nicer to give away something I'd made and I'm all into these Lincoln locks I got recently. They are just so cool. So after some pondering I thought, well, what if I use this leftover bit of sweater cuff from when I made my angora rabbit a jacket after he was sheared, and some of these locks, and this costume jewelry necklace with the fabulous cinnamon beads . . . and what if I made a funky, go-out-to-dinner-and-the-theater purse . . . and viola! This is what happened.

From top to bottom this purse measures 11". The bag itself is 5" long. The top is 4" across and the bottom is 5" across. The body is made from a sweater that was felted in the wash (oops!). The lovely Lincoln locks are felted in place. The bottom is embellished with the same string of beads that makes the handle. The closure is a vintage mother of pearl button and some corespun yarn that matched the locks. The locks are also on the back so it doesn't matter which way the bag swings you'll always see the funky locks. (I recently saw a spread about a woman who made her entire wedding dress from white Lincoln locks from her own sheep!!) For more pixs, go to Spindrift Studio at Reindeer Station Farm on Facebook and look under photos. The photo album is called MIVEST Blog Giveaway.

You can enter the drawing more than once by doing the following:

1 entry: You MUST post a comment on the Made in Vermont Etsy Street team blog to enter at all (please include your email so i can notify you if you win.)
1 entry: If you become a fan of the farm/studio page on Facebook(leave a comment on this entry telling me you did that and I'll enter you again. If you're already a fan leave a comment stating that and I'll still enter you again.)
1 entry: If you add the farm/studio Etsy shop to your favorites (leave a comment on this entry telling me you did that and I'll enter you again. If we're already a favorite leave a comment stating that and I'll still enter you again.)
1 entry: If you follow us on Twitter. We are listed as ReindeerStnFarm (leave a comment on this entry telling me you did that and I'll enter you again.)
1 entry: If you comment on the studio/farm blog or become a follower (leave a comment on this entry telling me you did that and I'll enter you again.)

So if you did all those things you'd have 5 chances to win; however many you choose to do I'll enter your name once for each thing. Just please remember to blog here that you did it so I can put in another entry and also leave your email address so I can notify you if you win. You don't have to write an elaborate comment either. A simple "following your blog now" and your email is enough.

So, enough chatter, let the entering begin! Have fun and thanks for playing!

(p.s. Don't forget to tell your friends and hurry, hurry because this drawing will be held on April 18. Good luck!!)

Friday, April 2, 2010

One More Time

This picture deserves its own entry and a blow-up. I mean, just look at that GORGEOUS fleece. I'm not positive, but I think that is Beatrix (natch) whose fleece, while not purebred Cormo, is VERY Cormo. Everyone watching the shearing was impressed by how beautiful this fleece is. Cormo is a next-to-the-skin soft wool and I can't wait to spin this fleece! It *could* be Lili also because she and Beatrix both had tons of wool. Lili is a Coopworth, but I chose her because her fleece was not as crimpy as some. So I can tell the difference between her fleece and B's up close. I washed up a few locks that had been left in the driveway as part of the belly wool (which gets thrown) and this morning it is BEAUTIFUL!!! I spun a little between my fingers and it spins up like butter. Can't wait to work with it. Today I'll be drying fleeces so that I can wash them (ironic, huh?) I'm glad the sun is out. It'll have to work alone most of the day because I am directing the Rutland Area Christian School's bell choir for the Good Friday service today at 2 at RACS. Stop by if you're in the area; they always have a lovely Good Friday service.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Now Shearing

Since Blogger doesn't like to let me put pix where I want, they are just going to be in here any old way. My shearer is Jim McRae (thanks Jim!!) and here you can see him in action. It's beautiful out today and the girls were so happy to be rid of those heavy wool coats and I was more than happy to take them off their hooves. LOL!!