Friday, June 28, 2013

Play Time

Rachel playing a game of Can You Eat That Piece of Hay? with one of the cottontail babies.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Growing Up

These were taken a few days ago at 3 weeks. We're in the homestretch. Countdown to release ...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Little Visitors

Flopsy, Mopsy, Cotton-tail, and Peter came back to visit this year and they brought their friend Benjamin Bunny with them.

Needless to say I haven't been getting much sleep.

This one, we'll say this is Benjamin since I can't tell them apart, drank his formula, peed a river, and then crawled up into my hand where he proceeded to curl up and fall asleep licking me. One little monster promptly bites me before he deigns to start eating his formula. They've all just finished opening their eyes which means they are approximately 7-8 days old today.

I don't know their back story. My vet's office called to see if I would foster them. They'd been brought in after someone found them. As much as I don't want their poor mother to be dead I really hope someone saw her get mangled by a dog or watched the nest for 24 hours before rescuing these little guys. What is more often the case is that someone comes across a nest and thinks the babies have been abandoned because mother rabbits don't spend much time taking care of their young. They visit the nest only a couple times a day to nurse. This kind of negligent mothering causes many people to think cottontail babies have been abandoned. These kind-hearted rescuers are actually stealing baby rabbits from their moms.

Unfortunately, rabbits, due to their incredibly sensitive, difficult to balance digestive systems are the hardest of all babies to raise. It takes approximately 8 hours a day just to feed these little guys. I am fortunate in that I have domestic rabbits who can "donate" cecotropes to populate their guts with good flora. Without them their doom is pretty much ensured. Even with dedicated nursing and supplemental cecotropes there is no good replacement baby formula for rabbits which makes for a high mortality rate. Which means, no matter how hard I try I could lose most or all of these little guys.

But for right now, everyone is eating, peeing, pooping, and sleeping. Big thank you to my daughter, Rachel, who pitches in to help with some feedings. She's a pro:

Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Little of This Going on Today

... before the writing got started. Figured I ought to get it done before the rain set in for the next few days.

Ah, the wonders of Kool-aid. And tea.

Eat Your Weeds

No, seriously.

Step 1: Weed garden

Step 2: Wash your weeds

Step 3: Sauté and enjoy!!

Today's episode of Eat Your Weeds was brought to you by pigweed. (As I was cooking this my daughter wandered by, looked in the pan, and asked, "Is that pigweed? Yum!!")

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Letter to my Sweetie


Before you go look at what I did in the garden please try to remember that I'm not like everyone else. And just because something has never been done before doesn't mean it has no merit. It only means that no one has ever been clever enough to try it before. So just because you never thought of planting a pumpkin patch in clay pots next to the porch so they'll climb up and hide the ugliness beneath/behind does not mean it can't be done. Yet. And just because you never tried to plant the potatoes in hay alongside the front of the garden to save space doesn't mean it's not a good idea. It may end up being another way not to do something but only time will tell. So let me try my little crazy experiments. After all, you're at least as crazy as I am. As evidence I submit our marriage license.

Also, I have a message from the compost pile. You know, the one that's been growing all winter when I dump the bunny poo on it? It says it has two words for you: gold mine. Now who's dissing the bunny poo, baby? Huh? Huh? I could sell this stuff. If I was as rich in money as I am in compost I'd be a billionaire.

So try to remember all that before you go have a look-see at the garden. My thumb may be black and yours may be green but let's try to be colorblind for awhile this summer, OK?

The Love of Your Life

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Long Time Gone

Smelling this . . .

Magnolia. There is a difference between how it smells as the morning sun hits it and the fragrance it gives off in the warm night air. The morning notes sneak up on you, like a quiet song. In the evening they surround you like a symphony, drawing you right up to the tree to glory in them.

Blooming right next to it is this . . .

Forsythia. Together they are like the sun and the moon.

Welcome back, Spring. You've been a long time gone. 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Death by Artattack

I don't mind admitting that I'm exhausted. Not only by the relentless last two years that involved writing a 365 page, heavily researched book on 365 completely different topics followed by a mad 4-month dash to create inventory in time for a festival and teaching at a retreat. That was all exhausting, no question. But what I find even more bone-crushingly draining is the suspicion that maybe this sort of artistic life isn't really viable after all.

Working every hour God sends six days a week isn't so bad when it's work that you like, but even people doing work they like need a break sometimes. Even work you like has its demanding, frustrating, annoying moments. And at the end of the day standing behind that work, laid out naked and exposed on a table like a newborn infant, smiling at strangers, hoping they "get it" and connect with your vision, and fall in love and Must. Have. It. and feeling your heart sink as they admire and handle and then ultimately walk away empty-handed, that, my friends, not only takes great courage, but I'm beginning to fear, great stupidity.

A friend who has made a desperate effort to keep her artistic endeavors going but has made no secret about the fact that the struggle may soon prove fatal to her business said, "People tell me to hang in there and not quit but then they don't buy anything. If no one buys anything how can I stay in business?" Heading home with almost nothing to show for my efforts, her words ringing in my ears, I can't help but wonder, does the world really need art the way I need art? Because I need it passionately. I need all kinds. I need art in my clothing, my possessions, my tools, my surroundings, on my walls, in my house, all around me. But maybe I'm alone.

Maybe the world is happy with stock pictures in frames from big chain stores and mass produced clothes and million-of-a-kind possessions. Maybe the world isn't as dedicated as I am to expressing myself in every way possible, part of which is by purchasing real things, things someone made with their hands, not mass produced by machine in a third world country from dubious materials where the laborers got paid $1/day for their work. Yes, maybe that means I don't own as much, but what I own has meaning to me, whether for what it represents about me or the connection I felt the maker express in its creation.

Are you happy, world? Do you feel a deep sense of connectedness with the mass produced? Should artists all hang up their tools and get 9-5 jobs instead of 24-hour-a-day jobs? Should art be allowed to die a dignified, if very lonely death? Because if that's the case I'd rather let it die now while there's still some shred of dignity still clinging to it than watch it get beaten to death over the course of agonzing months only to lie gasping and suffering on the pavement outside the next venue, or the next, or the next when it finally, inevitably dies of a lack of interest.

If you like artists, won't you consider supporting them? There are so many to choose from. Support their vision and their way of life. Most people think artists live a very lackadasical life but the very opposite is true. Yes, they may get supreme satisfaction from their work but it's generally never-ending. It begins the moment their minds engage in the morning and doesn't turn off until they pass out at night. Artist does not equal slacker, quite the opposite. And they can only live off their art if people see value in it and purchase it. End of story.

I'm trying to do my part. I support other artists by purchasing their products for myself and to use in my own work. But there needs to be a collective, concentrated effort if the little artist is going to survive. The next time you need to buy a gift, dare I suggest you check out the work of artists before going to a major chain? Handmade is so much more personal. If you don't know what they like artisan sites like Etsy offer Etsy gift cards so the lucky person can choose for themself.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, please feed the artists; they're starving. Do more than "like" someone's work. Purchase it so they can make more. Or, before you know it, there won't be anymore.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Please Pass the Lettuce

I think I am in desperate need of some lettuce this week. I always thought Beatrix Potter's mention that it was soporific was invented, but not so. Not only is it soporific, but also helps calm the nerves. Why didn't I stock up at the grocery store? Why??

Monday, April 15, 2013

A Plea From Wiggins

This is Wiggins, a juvenile cottontail rabbit. On my way out to feed the sheep this morning I heard a terrible ruckus in the grove of trees across the meadow from our house. At first I thought it was an injured coyote. I could "see" its progress through the woods by the birds taking flight ahead of it so I watched to catch a glimpse. I saw a canine of some sort but when it circled back still yowling for all it was worth I figured no self-respecting coyote, no matter how injured, would be so careless. So I dropped my water buckets and went to investigate.

What I found was the neighbor's beagle obviously on the trail of something. When I finally caught sight of the something it turned out to be Wiggins. She was in a thicket of brush and the beagle couldn't reach her. Neither could I. The stupid dog  wouldn't leave her and finally flushed her out of the thicket where she practically leapt into my arms to get away from the cursed dog. I raised orphaned cottontails last summer and I know how skittish they are, even when they are used to handling, so believe me when I tell you this was a very telling glimpse into her mental state.

It was plain to see two things: she was injured and she had almost resigned herself to death. She was crawling and throwing herself forward rather than hopping and the light in her eyes was gone. She was more than happy to stay in my arms as I carried her back to the house with the dog leaping and jumping around me the entire time trying to get at her. I have no doubt this usually harmless dog is a cherished pet but at that moment I would have happily put a bullet in its head. (Well, maybe not. But if looks could kill...)

I'm not sure Wiggins will make it. I've given her food, water, and shelter where she can rest to see if she heals enough to be released or if she lives but remains so injured that she'll need sanctuary for the rest of her life or if she lives but is so miserable she has to be put down. This scenario is senseless and is the third time that dogs I know have killed or injured wild rabbits. Usually its babies, wandering out of their burrows in the twilight. So for Wiggins and the babies I know who were killed by dogs can I just say, please, please, please, for the love of cottontail bunnies, would you consider keeping your dogs on a leash especially during this time of the year when so many babies are venturing out?

I realize rabbits, especially wild rabbits, are prey animals and intended for food. And I accept that even though I don't like it. But for dogs to wantonly kill or cripple wild rabbits they do not need for food is preventable and part of responsible pet ownership. I thank you for your consideration and Wiggins thanks you.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Truth About Bunnies - Busting The Myths

It's around this time of year Peter Cottontail loads up his Easter basket and takes to the bunny trial. I know this because Twisk auditioned for his job one year and lost on a technicality (Peter thought his ruby red eyes were more suited to Christmas than Easter.) Anyway, this is also the time of year people start looking for rabbits to put in their children's Easter baskets. The goal of the Make Mine Chocolate campaign is convince people to choose any kind of bunny but a live one. 

Having a little experience with bunnies I thought I would put in my two cents in support of the campaign by dispelling a few myths surrounding them.

Myth #1 Bunnies are cuddly

This can be true, but isn't usually. Bunnies love to be petted, yes, but being held is a different story. Consider the fact that rabbits are prey animals. Any action that grabs them and lifts them into the air (picking them up to put them on your lap or in your arms, for example) is reminiscent of being picked up to be carried off and eaten. They automatically - genetically - are afraid of this. Most of them will tolerate this behavior in us and some of them will learn to trust us enough that they overcome their natural fear and enjoy being held, and some are just bold enough not to mind as much. But the majority of rabbits will not learn to like it. They will simply endure it and be relieved when you return them to their pen or cage. (Whereupon, having reached the safety of their home, they will want you to pet them.) 

Myth #2 Bunnies are sweet.

Well, this one is true but it doesn't presuppose that bunnies can also be pretty vicious. I submit to you Exhibit A)
St. John
My arm after it met St. John's teeth.

This cute little guy is St. John (Sinjun.) This was the first (bad) bite he gave me but it wasn't the worst. The worst one nearly sent me to the emergency room for stitches because he tried very hard to help me commit bunny-assisted suicide. After that I brought him to Dr. Bruce to be neutered in the hopes of not having to put him down. He gave me still another scar for my collection later but has since - finally - calmed down enough to enjoy petting and not try to kill me most days.

Yes, the truth is bunnies bite. Having been bitten - numerous times - by bunnies I can tell you with authority that if a bunny bites you the severity of the bite will tell you what kind it was: a warning, a reminder, a forceful objection, or an outright attack. Warnings and reminders are bunny's way of telling you something important like "You're trespassing," "I'm done," "Get out of my space," "You're hurting me," or, "Not today, I don't feel like it." They don't break the skin usually and they don't really hurt but they don't tickle either. If you ignore these love nips you'll likely get something harder and more damaging. Something that will cause bruising and bloodletting. 

Bunnies are often possessive of their space. Putting your hand into their cage or enclosure, even if you're only trying to fill their food bowl will likely make them growl and sometimes lunge at you. These are usually just warnings but if you persist in messing about in their space you'd better be wearing gloves. I've learned not to take bunny grumpies personally - it's how they communicate. But I also don't trespass without being respectful either. 

Myth #3 Bunnies are pocket pets.

Before I had bunnies the idea of taking one to the vet was ... I admit it ...absurd. Little did I know that owning rabbits would put me on such friendly terms with my vet. Lucky for me he's a really nice guy but exotic animal vets, particularly ones who  know a lot about rabbits, are difficult to find. Rabbits are subject to a host of ailments from colic to colds to injuries. If treated most are surmountable but if left untreated rabbits quickly die. I have used more of  my nursing skills treating rabbits than I ever did as a licensed nurse. Fergal is my only special needs rabbit but he requires ten times as much care as the others. I have to grind his pellets three times a day. Often I have to feed him with a syringe, give him injections or other meds, give him fluids through a sub-q line, and bring him back and forth to the vet every month to have his teeth trimmed. Even with the support of my wonderful vet taking care of Fergal is costly both monetarily and emotionally. Bunnies require every bit as much time, energy, and money as pets like cats and dogs. Sometimes more. 

All rabbits should be neutered, which is costly. Males who haven't been neutered are given to spraying those they love - that's you hopefully. Yes, I said spraying. With pee. 'Nough said?

Myth #4 Bunnies are children's pets.

For all the reasons I've already listed bunnies are not great pets for kids. Two of the bunnies I currently care for were a child's cast-off. The reason? They weren't cuddly. Also, because bunnies are prey animals they are very good at hiding illness and injury. It takes an observant adult to realize when a bunny is ill and needs medical attention. Otherwise bunny goes quickly from just fine to dead. As in, "Honestly, he was just fine a couple days ago and now he'd dead."

However, bunnies make excellent pets for adults who enjoy quiet companions with subtle rather than demanding personalities. When neutered they take quite well to litter box training, they are amusing to watch, challenging to completely understand, and let's face it, are the cutest animals on the planet. They won't want to be your buddy, like a dog. Or make you serve them, like a cat. They'll simply keep you company, amuse you, and lower your blood pressure by letting you pet them copiously.

I love bunnies and I can't imagine my life without them. It's for that reason I dearly hope that you'll consider the ramifications of bestowing that fluffy, trusting little life to a child this Easter. Consider making your Easter bunny chocolate this year. Or, if you want something cuddly, here are three bunnies up for adoption:

OOAK Bunny Stuffie Stuffed Animal primitive "Millicent"
To learn more about Millie, or to adopt her go here.

For more information about the Make Mine Chocolate campaign go here.
If you've gotten through all that and you're still thinking about a bunny this is an excellent post about what to expect and so forth. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

And The Winner Is . . .

Hamish resting after the exertion of choosing a winner.

Drumroll please!

Beth Major!!

Congratulations! Hamish plucked your name. We think we might have hit on the perfect system. I put the names in his FOOD bowl and he knows paper shouldn't be in there so he starts picking them out one at a time and ta-da! A winner is chosen. Email me your address so I can fill in the gift subscription form. You can send it to:

Thank you all for playing. If you haven't signed up for our other giveaway, hop on over and you could win a cute little Easter bunny with a Cadbury chocolate secret inside. Go here to enter.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Folk Magazine Giveaway

Yes, you read that right. Just call me the Giveaway Queen. Or not. Maybe that doesn't sound so good. Starting over . . . next up in the recent rash of giveaways (hey, you can't say I didn't come back into Blogville without a bang) the awesome folks at Folk Magazine have authorized me to give away a free subscription to Folk Magazine! If you haven't seen digital images of the magazine yet better sit down and brew a cup of tea before you go visit here because otherwise you'll be kicking yourself. You'll definitely want to take your time and savor the experience. They have the most GORGEOUS images. Total eye candy. I just want to cuddle the lamb in the new Spring issue in the worst way. Check out the blog too while you're there.

Anyway, Folk Magazine is on a mission "to bring back America and to promote bloggers, artisans, makers, doers, creators, and the every day people that make America so great." I must say, they're off to an awfully good start. The only peeve I have with them so far is that they give me way too much to love. So, to enter this giveaway all you have to do is go visit the site, poke around, and then leave a comment telling me what you think of the magazine and/or if anything caught your eye. That's all. But do it soon. This one ends Sunday, March 10 when we're all trying to recover from springing ahead and losing that extra precious hour of sleep.

And if you don't win (or you just can't wait) you can take 50% off your subscription compliments of the good people at Folk by going here and entering the code #FOLK. Let them know I sent you please.

Hamish is going to get whiplash choosing all these winners. (Have you entered to win the Easter bunny filled with Cadbury yet? You can find that one here.)

May the odds ever be in your favor!

Friday, March 1, 2013

And The Winner Is . . . And a Bonus (Bun-us?)

Okay, so I have no idea how to edit this video. You'll have to take it blurbs and all. I took four in all. They were variations on this chasing Hamish around with a tin lid full of names and Hamish flinging it or digging at it or growling at me because I was starting to annoy him. guessed it...just the absolute second he FINALLY snatched one out of the tin and I cried "You did it!" the camera battery gave up the ghost. I was hoping it had caught it at the very end before it died, but alas, nothing. But I thought you'd like to see Hamish anyway. And you'll have to agree that he did try very hard.

There were 15 entries altogether. I apologize that I made it difficult to actually find the correct post to "like" by continually posting reminders. To make up for the confusion I scrolled through all my notices and collected all the names. So while there were only 10 official entries, I put in the five people who accidentally "liked" the wrong post. If you didn't win, I'm sorry! But I'll do another one soon. AND if you didn't win you have another chance to win something. See below. Would you believe all the entrants were women? (Men, what's the matter with you? Don't you know Mother's Day is coming???)

And the winner is . . .

Drum roll . . .

Scroll down a little further . . . the suspense is killing me . . .

Alison Valdes! Send me your address Alison so I can mail your prize out to you. Congratulations and thanks, everyone, for playing!! Now for the bonus part. If you can tell me the name of the song playing in the background of the video (you don't even have to tell me the group singing it) LEAVE A COMMENT ON THIS POST with the name and if you get it right I'll enter your name in a drawing to win this sweet little guy:

He's holding a surprise:

Can you tell what it is???? Ready? Name that tune . . .

I'll give you one hint . . . it's Hamish's favorite song. Contest ends March 25 so I have time to mail the prize before Easter.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Walking Wounded

This is Agatha, the worst of of yesterday's walking wounded. See her ace bandage poking out from beneath her wing? She seems to kind of like it, which is good because she needs it. She's got deep puncture wounds on either side of her sternum and her tail is half chewed off. I was afraid of what I might find when I took off yesterday's bandages but her wounds look good (you know, for wounds.) She's dozing here but a few seconds after I snapped this shot Max (my German Shepherd) walked across her field of vision behind me and her eyes snapped open. All the girls are on house arrest until we figure out how to manage the fox threat. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Fiber Retreat! Come One, Come All!

OK, I've officially got BIG NEWS! I've been asked to be the presenter at the Fibers of Faith Retreat at Singing Hills Christian Conference Center. This retreat is going to be awesome! I know because I'm planning a lot of it. I mean, seriously, if you're into fiber what could possibly be better than going to a lovely location and doing nothing but playing, praying, and praising??? If you throw in a couple of bunnies you've pretty much got my idea of heaven.

If you want to curl up in a corner and do nothing but beaver away on a sweater or lace shawl you can certainly do that, but if you want to play with me here are a few of the toys I'll be bringing with me and demoing on:

Carding: I'll have my Fancy Kitty drum carder and I'll show you how to make fancy-schmancy art batts that you can then . . .

Drop Spinning: . . . use to spin some yarn on a drop spindle. It's easy; I'll show you how! Or . . .

Spinning: . . . on a real wheel. I'll be bringing my workhorse wheel, a Kromski Sonata as well as the wheel I spin a lot of my angora on which is probably the most standard wheel since your mother was a pup, an Ashford Traditional. I'll teach traditional spinning techniques as well as demoing a couple of art yarns, probably corespinning and tailspinning. If you want you can use the yarn you make during the . . .

Scarflette Class: . . . during which we'll be making something that's a cross between a scarf and a yarn necklace. Bring your leftover ends from home and/or dig through my stash and/or use the yarn you make during the demos or off-time. There's a $5 materials charge for this class.

Weaving: My 4-harness Dorset loom will also be at the retreat and I'll give a short demo and open it up to anyone who wants to give it a try. The loom will stay set up throughout the retreat so if you don't get a chance to try your hand during the demo time you can play with it whenever you have some free time.

Needle Felting: I'll show you how to make a simple sculptural form and we'll also work on a group project throughout the retreat.

All of my equipment will be available for playing with and practicing on throughout the retreat and I'm happy to answer any questions, or demonstrate any skill I possess (except tap dancing) even if it's not part of the stated curriculum.

I know this is already beyond amazing, but wait! There's more! I'll also be vending on Friday and maybe Sunday morning. I'm planning to bring with me: yarn, stitch markers, art batts, buttons, and roving. Retreat guests will receive a coupon code when they sign up. When you get this code you can get 10% off in my Etsy shop online and free delivery to the retreat if you want to pick it up there. Anyone who purchases something from me during the retreat (Etsy pre-sales count!) will be entered into a drawing to win the scarflette I'll bring as a demo! The art batt I make for the carding demo will also be given away in a random drawing to any participants in the demo.

But wait! There's more! Do you like fiddle music? In the evenings, when you're relaxing, quietly chatting or working on your projects I'll be sitting in a corner providing live entertainment on my fiddle.

And . . . I've been asked to lead out during the praise sings. I'm in the process of choosing songs right now.

So . . . . . . . . . . .  come one, come all! Let's play, and relax, and laugh, and sing, and praise, and pray together for 4 days. Give yourself the gift of some "me" time. Fill your own well so you can go back to your life filled with new ideas, skills, and projects that excite you. To sign up go here. If you register before March 1st you get $10 off!!

Fox Attack

I was standing by the kitchen sink fixing Fergal's food when I saw something, a lot of somethings, drift across the meadow.

"What is that? Ashes?"
"Leaves," Rob said.
"From where?"
"They don't look like leaves."

A little while later he came in the house. "That stuff in the meadow is chicken feathers. Lots of them."

We couldn't figure out what on earth it was at first. There were feathers from different chickens all over the place. Brown ones, red ones, gray ones. Piles of them. Like the Grim Reaper had danced around the farm butchering. But strangely, no blood.

We found a lot of chewed up hens which I spent the morning doctoring and two dead ones, carried off down the hill by a fox which Rob saw and chased off. We are wondering if there were two of them. How could one fox do so much damage in such short time? Rob said he heard the girls squawking this morning but didn't think anything of it at the time.

I don't know how many of the injured ones will live. One was so bad I had to wrap her in an ace bandage. A couple appear to be in shock. I put stress vitamins in their water and I'm about to make them a stodge of oatmeal, yogurt, and other nourishing things.

I hate to walk outside and see the feathers drift by. They're everywhere.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Belated 4 Year Anniversary Giveaway!

I don’t know about you but giveaways are starting to have so many hoops to jump through that it’s almost not worth the effort. So I thought to celebrate the four years my fiber studio and farm have existed I’d have a simple giveaway.

In order to enter all you have to do is “like” this post on our Spindrift Studio at Reindeer Station Farm page on Facebook. That’s it! You can only enter once, but you can share the love by sharing the post. You get a chance to win these fabulous dryer balls and I get some exposure for my studio/farm. It’s a win-win! If you do decide to share, THANK YOU! Believe me, in this age of information overload I know what I’m asking. While you're on our FB page "like" it if you haven't already. Pretty soon I'll be doing FB-Only specials and goodies.

On March 1, Hamish will choose a winner. I hope it's youuuuuuuuuu!!
Can you believe it was four years ago that I sat spinning some nasty 10-year-old wool by my wood stove, longing for sheep and bunnies? (I never even dreamed as high as an alpaca and llama!) I am in fiber nirvana and I am fully aware of that and appreciate it every day, I truly do. Even when it’s 20-below outside I enjoy taking care of my animals, making sure everyone is as warm as they can be and has food and water. I love watching their fiber grow - okay, so maybe it’s more along the lines of lusting than looking but if you could see how beautiful it is as it grows you’d lust after it too.
Four years ago I didn’t even know where my studio was headed beyond writing. As I look ahead I see more writing. Hopefully not the kind with truly killer deadlines because I’m beginning to realize that it takes me away too much and too often from my own life. (Exciting news on that front very soon.) There will also be teaching because I love to teach. (News soon - hopefully later today - about a fiber retreat I’ll be teaching at. Come play with me!) There will be art of all kinds because I can’t seem to limit myself to a single medium. (And why should I?) There will be sales of vintage finds because I can’t help carting home with me items that I know have beauty and life in them beyond what others see. There will be bunny hugging because, honestly, what’s a Monday (or a Tuesday, or a Wednesday) without a bunny hug? And there will be sparkle because it makes me happy. Good times ahead. I hope you’ll join me.
So, about the giveaway. You’ll get three felted wool dryer balls and this snazzy bag to keep them in when you’re not using them. It’s plenty big in case you get, or make, more. Keep reading for a description and may the odds ever be in your favor.
“What Are Felted Wool Dryer Balls – And Why Do You Want Them? 

Instead of loading your laundry – that soft, precious fabric that touches your skin every day – with stinky chemicals that are in dryer sheets, these felted wool dryer balls will do the same job in less time. 

In a nutshell: The wool soaks up some of the moisture in your laundry as it dries, but then evenly distributes it into the air – helping your dryer stay humid longer, which exponentially reduces static cling. In addition, this “soaking and releasing” action makes your clothes dry faster. And all of these things together mean fewer wrinkles. And if you sprinkle a few drops of essential oil on them before using you’ll scent your laundry too. 

Best of all, they’ll last up to 5 years. That’s 5 years without having to worry a single bit about static, dryer sheets, wrinkles, buying supplies, and failed presidential debates (you shouldn’t ever worry about that last thing, anyway).” ~ Crunchy Betty

(This is where I learned how to make them, but I actually adapted her process because I wanted mine to be heavier and denser than what this process would produce. I both needle and nuno felted mine. But if you don’t win - or you simply fall so in love with these you want more and want to make them yourself - there you go. If you want some nice, dense ones like mine, or you don’t want to make your own, I’ll have more up in the shop. If you make them Betty’s way you can make quite a lot in a short time. Mine take a lot longer. But I’m biased; I like mine better.)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

On The Bobbin

From today's photo shoot. Art yarn I started this morning. Merino/tencel with cocoons of sari silk and angelina. Oh my.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Play Well With Others

Hear Ye, Hear Ye . . .

 . . . if you have tried to make a comment on this blog in the last year or so you've probably been prevented, or had to jump through hoops to do it. That's because I got very rudely flamed over some pictures I posted of puppets my son made. It was very upsetting to both him and me. He hadn't even particularly wanted me to post them so he was doubly wronged when they were criticized for not being "Christian" when they weren't meant to be particularly Christian. They were his own imaginings.

I didn't make a big deal about it at the time. My mother taught me that if you don't have anything nice to say you should keep your mouth shut. Apparently I learned that lesson better than my flamers did. I only mention it now because the blog is gearing up to be a little more active and I've changed the comment setting.  I'll be moderating comments but unless the flamers return all comments should post. So please feel free to comment, just also remember to play well with others.

I was so upset and hurt I removed the offending pictures at the time but I don't plan to remove anything further. This blog is about my art and my books and my animals and my life. I'm a Christian. I won't apologize for that - either for being one or for not meeting someone's expectations of what they think a Christian should be. I may mention God in this blog. I may not. If you want to know my thoughts on God, or Christianity and being a Christian, please feel free to ask me, or read one of the 17 books I've written so far on the subject, or one of the thousands of articles and stories I've published. I don't intend to use this space for proselytizing but if my beliefs show I won't apologize for that either. Take me or leave me but please refrain from flaming me. It ruins a perfectly good day.

So, with that said, let the games begin! On Wednesday, only one month late (!), I'm going to post the anniversary giveaway so be sure to check back for that. Also, FB only and Blog only goodies will start soon so be sure you are a follower of both the blog and the studio/farm page on Facebook. To do that go here. I won't be cross-posting goodies. I'm looking for 1,000 FB followers and then I'm having a really awesome giveaway. And I mean REALLY awesome. Don't miss out on the fun!!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

That Sheep Will be The Death of Me Yet

Brontë's got it in for me. One day you'll find me face down in the pasture with just one small cloven hoof print on my back.

Brontë is my Icelandic sheep. She's really more like a goat with wool. She's the most inquisitive, the most pushy, and the most adventurous of all the sheep. When I brought her little self home as a lamb (and when I say lamb let's just be clear that she wasn't all that little at the time - see above) she leaped out of the back of my trusty RAV4 and clocked me under the chin with the top of her hard little head almost knocking out all my teeth. (And so started the migraines I suffer from today.)

I'm not positive it was her, mind you, but the other day I was walking ahead of the sheep with extra hay to put into the mangers and going through the gate someone flattened me from behind. I went down like a ton of bricks and all I saw was a blurry sheep face. But when I gingerly picked myself up off the ice there were only two sheep in the pen: Siobhán and Brontë. And Siobhán is too much of a lady to flatten me.

So there you have it. Accident? I think not. I was lame for a couple days but no permanent damage. This time. Yesterday, after I put the animals into the pasture Brontë walked back to the gate and stood looking up at me (it's sort of a Brontë pose . . . as you can see) as if to shoot the breeze for awhile, maybe inquire after my injuries, assess the damage, survey her handiwork. She assured herself I was still mobile, seemed satisfied, and returned to the flock with a gleam in her eye. Plotting, I imagine, for her next opportunity.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Time to Milk The Almonds

My favorite milk = water, almonds, Vitamix.
Almond milk hot chocolate: almond milk + maple syrup + cocoa = Mmmmmmmm.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Inventory - To Dye or Not to Dye, That is The Question

Working on inventory today to take with me to the upcoming fiber retreat where I'll be teaching and vending. (More details about that later.) This is 140 yards of smooshy fibery lusciousness made from a combination of mohair and angora. I love everything about the character of this yarn. When I get a few skeins done I'm going to dye some and see what happens. What color would you dye this yarn???

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

One Thing is Clear . . .

 . . . I need more cast iron pots. It's -2 and supper is started. On the woodstove. In the dutch oven we have what will be chicken soup (for the carnivores in the family. I think I'll have kelp noodles today), in the garlic roaster we have garlic. Roasting. For the garlic and asiago rolls, and in the front pot we have blueberries for the blueberry pie because I just found out it's national pie day and we should really take time to celebrate these kinds of things. Shouldn't we? What kind of pie are you having today?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Better Late Than Never?

So this is me, or it would be if I ever had a chance to sit down for five seconds. My life was supposed to get easier and slower once I finished the book I was writing. Except that I forgot to take into account that the State of Vermont wants my Sales and Use Tax this week and because I was so busy writing the book I didn't record a single receipt, check, etc. So essentially I have to prepare my taxes like NOW instead of getting to wait until April like everyone else in order to get them the information - and money - they want.

Sooooooo.....I have a giveaway to do but I don't have time even to take pictures for it. And I wanted to do it yesterday. Because yesterday was a very important day. It marked the 4th year Reindeer Station Farm has been in existence. At least as an idea. On this day (yesterday) 4 years ago I sat spinning by my wood stove on a drop spindle with some 10 year old wool. It was nasty stuff, but I fell in love and decided I wanted my own sheep. The rest is history. But we're here and every day I get to play with my animals (or at least feed them and take care of them.) And that's a big accomplishment for me. Making art with their fiber is just a bonus (but a really great one.)

Bear with me, I AM trying. I have such big news (someone is coming to a fiber retreat near you, hint, hint.) Awesome new projects (scrimshaw even!) Cutie pix of animals. Wisdom from Hamish. News about Fergal. A new site to launch. But right now I am wrestling with deadline dragons. Hopefully I will vanquish them soon. I could use the break.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Merry (Belated) Christmas from Reindeer Station Farm

Hamish had some big bunny slippers to fill to do this year's promotional photo shoot but he bunnied up and was a sport about it. He was actually a bit of a natural although I heard him complain that the whole process was just one step above breading. Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year from all the critters here at Reindeer Station Farm. Best wishes for health, happiness, and creativity in the year(s) to come!

Mama Céleste's Cure For Feeling Puny

When I edited Listen Magazine, our art director, Bill Kirstein, used to call having a cold "feeling puny." Since this is the time of year when many of us are feeling "puny" I thought I'd share my cure: Garlic Soup. I just made some of this for my MIL who is sick and it smelled so good I made another batch for my own lunch. I'm not feeling puny but it doesn't hurt to be prepared. Whopping cough is going around these parts. This recipe is pretty flexible. Add what you want and take out what you don't like. But the part that needs to stay the same is you use an entire head of garlic. You heard me. Man up. A whole head. Tip: to make it easier to peel the garlic, put the head of garlic in a towel. Gather it up so you have the garlic contained in the bottom as if you're carrying it in a bag and thump it on the counter a few times. That will peel some of the cloves for you and loosen up the skin on the others. You're welcome. So here you go . . . not only will this scare away cold germs but no one else will want to be around you either so don't indulge before a date.

Garlic Soup

2 cups of water
1 head of garlic, cloves sliced into this rounds
Chunk of vegetable bouillon the size of a pea
1 Tbs nutritional yeast
Generous pinch of sea salt
1 tsp - 1 Tbs red pepper flakes (optional but great)
1 scallion, chopped (optional but also nice)
Noodles from one packet of Ramen (optional but if you're squeamish about the garlic or want more of a meal soup rather than a broth these are nice. Discard the flavor packet. Or use a different kind of noodle.)
1 Tbs miso (any kind)

Boil everything but the noodles and miso until the garlic is tender. Add more water if you need to. Add noodles and cook until done. Remove from heat and add miso. Ta-da! Run, run, little cold germs. The garlic is coming to get you. Bwahaha . . .

In other news I'm struggling to get my life back under control after turning in the book the day before the deadline (yay!). There should soon be news of animals and new projects and Etsy listings (yay!). But please bear with me; I've been letting everything not essential slide while I worked on the book and it's going to take me awhile to whip it back into shape. An important event is happening in 12 days though . . . do you remember what? Am crossing my fingers for a sale or giveaway or some such to celebrate.

* Bowl by Patty Herzfeld (it's my favorite!)