Maine Fiber Frolic 2017 Poster
MOFGA Common Ground Fair Poster

Shearing Day(s)

lustrous silver fleece

Look at the lustre!!

Whew!  Shearing for this year is done!  We’re so lucky to have sheep that make such beautiful fiber and a “sheep whispering” shearer.  Mother Nature smiled upon us and gave us the most gorgeous day on Saturday.  She even brought on the sun just as we gathered to finish up on Sunday. 

Thanks to all who came to help, everything went smoothly.  The skirters — experienced and newbies alike — did an extraordinary job.  One of our CSA shareholders came from Florida via NH and she even had her husband skirting before too long!  I’m betting there’ll be very little for me to do when I get back into the fleeces.  And we must not forget the sweeper who keeps the shearing floor clear of debris… and those who got down and dirty in the sheep pen.  Without them the sheep wouldn’t make it to the shearing floor at all!  And then there were all the folks to came to cheer us on…thanks everybody!  What a fun day we all had!

Here are some photos.  Jim was having flash issues so some are a little blurred but hope you enjoy them anyway. 

shearing 2010

Emily gets started on the first sheep and the skirting crew waits to get their hands into the nice warm fleece.

keeping the floor clean

Penelope stands ready with her broom. That floor is so clean you could eat off...well, maybe not!

little helper

Little Minh has his broom and is ready to help Penelope.

picking up fleece

Kathy became an expert fleece picker-upper/thrower. Here she dives right in! The skirters await her throw...

shearing 2010

Our oldest visitor (80+) and one of our youngest look on as Emily shears.

many hands at the skirting table

Many hands at the skirting table make light work.

sunday skirters

The skirters roll up a pretty grey fleece.

action at the skirting table

Serafina opens a sheet for the fleece to be wrapped in.

Emily 2010

Emily, our "sheep whispering" shearer is calm and relaxed even after 5 hours of hugging sheep.

naked sheep

Only a few more to shear and the girls are starting to hint that they'd like their hay.

shearing day nosh

After the sheep are fed, we head to the kitchen for a well-deserved nosh.

Rhinebeck

I apologize once again for the late posts.  The 2 previous posts were almost done when I was overcome with preparing for Rhinebeck so I’ve just published them.

I don’t know where this past week has gone…can it really be a week since I was on the road headed for NY?!  It was a great show…always so good to see old friends and meet new fibery folks!  My friend and fellow Coopworth owner, Nina,  came along, kept me company on the ride and helped-helped-helped in the booth!  She is THE best!

The transition to the new booth space went pretty well.  We weren’t able to get our new banner/sign to stick to the very cold metal wall of our booth but thanks to our neighbor, Creations by Joyce, we were able to use the back of their very hefty booth structure.

Our new space in Building B

Our new space in Building B

Will have to make provisions for this in the future.  Other than that…all went well.  There was a steady stream of visitors to the booth and Jim’s spindles were very popular.  We welcomed two new CSA members, too!

I’ve been trying really hard not to obsess about the weather but I feel like I have to mention how COLD it was this year.  When I was packing my bag, I looked at the long johns in the drawer…thought about taking them and then didn’t.  Actually, I based that decision on feeling that if I put them on, I’d never be able to zip my pants! Better get on that before I freeze my butt off…literally.  I was happy that I remembered to pack a pair of fingerless mitts.  It rained, drizzled and threatened but it didn’t keep the serious and curious from making the rounds and spirits were high.

The camera that I actually remembered to bring along hardly came out of its bag…just too dismal.  But I did go by the Keep the Fleece Tent (they actually had heaters!) and took a few shots of the World’s Longest Scarf…still a work in progress.

Here's the scarf laid out on several banquet tables...it's made the circuit about six times and there are many more pieces to be added.

Here's the scarf laid out on several banquet tables...it's made the circuit about six times and there are many more pieces to be added.

I looked and looked but couldn’t find the Hatchtown Farm CSA Team’s piece…a little disappointing. One of the volunteers said it probably hadn’t been joined yet.  There were loads of boxes of pieces still waiting to be added!  I think the weather was causing some problems as it was impossible to stretch the scarf out or even take it out of the tent but they’d made a valiant effort to display as much of the scarf as they could…they’d put a bunch of banquet tables together and then the scarf was layed out at least six times around and it was growing every minute!  I’ll be checking in regularly at Keep the Fleece to see what’s happening.

Just a few of the boxes of scarf sections waiting to be attached

Just a few of the boxes of scarf sections waiting to be attached

This volunteer is joining scarf sections.

This volunteer is joining scarf sections.

This fairgoer has donated a few rows and will sit and knit for a little while...in the heated tent!

This fairgoer has donated a few rows and will sit and knit for a little while...in the heated tent!

This volunteer is knitting rows that have been donated by sponsors...she was busy all day!

This volunteer is knitting rows that have been donated by sponsors...she was busy all day!

We're Moving...

BIG NEWS…Our booth at Rhinebeck (NY State Sheep & Wool Festival) will be in a new location…Building B.  After many years in our lovely spot on the loft of the horticultural building (aka Bldg 22), the local fire marshalls decided it was too crowded to be safe and the festival organizers gave all of us on that side of the loft our marching orders.

Hatchtown Farm 2009 Booth at Rhinebeck

Hatchtown Farm 2009 Booth at Rhinebeck

  I don’t think any of us are really thrilled about the move but hey! what can we do…  A majority of us from the loft will still be together in Building B and that’ll fun because we’ve been neighbors for such a long time.  And there are a bunch of other vendors who’d been asking for larger booth spaces who will be moving in there, too.  So be sure to come see us!  Building B is the place to “B”!!!

Click on the map for a larger view. 

Feel Good Scarf

Earlier this summer, a couple of our Fiber CSA members and I decided to form a team and participate in the World’s Longest Scarf project — a fundraiser hatched by Keep the Fleece to benefit Heifer International. 

I’m a newbie knitter but I love the idea of raising money for Heifer and I thought hey! it’s a scarf — just 9 inches wide…how difficult could that be?  Well, after I don’t know how many (wa-a-ay too many) attempts at casting on for a gauge swatch, I finally managed to determine the number of stitches needed for those 9 inches.  The lovely yarn I’d started with was a fuzzy mess of fiber after the abuse I’d put it through.  Reluctantly, I cut it from the skein…I cut it from the skein…OMG, I cut it from the skein!  Do knitters do this all the time and I’m feeling sick about it because it’s my first time?  This spinner does not cut pieces from the skein…I felt very strange, very not good.  I tossed it in the trash basket…too much time had been wasted on this casting on business.  I celebrated the casting on success briefly and then reality set in…I’d now have to cast on again!   A few deep breaths, a few sips of the vino…40 stitches cast on.  And I have to say, there were hardly any lumps or hanging loops this time!  Now, if I can just remember what I did for the next time.

One thing I learned during all this…there are many ways to cast on and every knitter has a favorite “all around useful method.”  I know this because every call I made for help yielded another method of casting on!  I won’t even go into all the “specialty” cast ons I was told about.  I don’t have a favorite.  At this point, getting the right number of stitches onto a needle is a miracle and any way that works is fine with me!  

Our CSA Scarf Team's piece before I packed it up for its trip across country.  The black folder is the "Journal" that goes along for the ride.  And don't you love those cute needles -- they're from Peace Fleece.  I bought them from Nina at Ruit Farm dot com.

Our CSA Scarf Team's piece before I packed it up for its trip across country. The black folder is the "Journal" that goes along for the ride. And don't you love those cute needles -- they're from Peace Fleece. I bought them from Nina at Ruit Farm dot com.

SO…After struggling to get started, knits and purls were a piece of cake and loads of  fun!  I put some rows on, rounded up a couple of very generous sponsors for even more rows and then sent the scarf on its way to visit with the other team members…

I’ve now heard from one of our CSA shareholders that the scarf has arrived in CA and she’s begun knitting on it.  She’ll pass it along to another CSA shareholder — also in CA — and then it’ll come back here.  After it’s been blocked, I’ll send it off to be joined to the many other scarves being sent in by other teams.  The World’s Longest Scarf will be unveiled at the NY State Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck on October 17th.  I’m really looking forward to seeing it all put together!  And I hope that it’ll raise lots & lots of $$… and awareness.  Heifer will use this  money to help people all over the world begin fiber flocks of their own and provide them with support until they learn the ropes.

Contributing to this feels good…

Whirlwind Weeks in Review

Phew!  It’s been a crazy frantic couple of weeks!  I thought so many times about posting but would fall asleep on the couch, wake up in the wee hours of the morning and go to bed.  Not very productive…

On Monday the 3rd, I finished packing & shipped off our first year’s Fiber CSA shares.  I was excited… but anxious at the same time.  At one point while I was feeding shipping label info into the UPS site, our credit card company shut us down because they thought someone else was using our card.  Guess they really are on top of things… It took some sorting out but we managed to convince them that we really were the authorized users.  Sending off the shares felt good!  All the boxes have arrived at their destinations by now and to the shareholders who’ve commented here or sent me emails — thanks a million! I’m so happy to have your thoughts, ideas, critique…I really do want to know what you think!

The dooryard in front of the Studio/Shop. The only thing blooming in the wildflower garden this year is black eyed susans...too wet I think.

The dooryard in front of the Studio/Shop. The only thing blooming in the wildflower garden this year is black eyed susans...too wet I think.

From there I fell right into getting ready for the BIG Maine Fiberarts Open House weekend which actually included Friday.  So…I quickly got to work in the studio cleaning up all the packing stuff, breaking down the empty fiber boxes, etc.  I’d been wanting to create a comfy spot for sitting, spinning, knitting or whatever — so some furniture got moved around and then while everything was pulled apart, I brought out the big guns…the vacuum.  I’m not sure why but as I get older I like the vacuum less and less…the noise just makes me want to scream!  I know it sounds crazy but I really prefer the good old dust mop…very quiet… and I get some much needed exercise beating the heck out of the rugs.  Anyway, the end result of all this is a fairly clean, more organized space with a nice spot for relaxing.

A comfy place to hang out in the Studio.

A comfy place to hang out in the Studio.

On Thursday, the shelves got stocked with fiber and skeins, a big bunch of lovely fresh flowers arrived (compliments of the flower CSA Jim gave me for my birthday) and the studio was looking pretty spiffy and ready for visitors.

shelves and baskets full of fiber

shelves and baskets full of fiber

I kept up with regular chicken chores but Jim took on the rest along with some “out of the ordinary” stuff.  The pigs got moved to their woodland home…finally!

Jim with the pigs & all their paraphernalia on the move.

Jim with the pigs & all their paraphernalia on the move.

It’s been SO wet that it was impossible to get the trailer into that area before now.  We’d actually had a few rain free days in a row and the lane along our back rock wall had dried out some so he jumped at the chance to get the move accomplished.  The pigs’ curiosity made it fairly easy to get them into the trailer without much fussing and off they went.

They’d become bored with life in the sheep shed.  While we’d been able to give them a small space outside to wallow in and train them to the electric fencing, they’d found some soft spots in the shed floor that apparently were quite tasty. Yes, definitely time to move on!!  Well, they’re happy, happy pigs now!!

In their new woodland home, the pigs have already made a wallow and are totally covered in mud...happy pigs!!

In their new woodland home, the pigs have already made a wallow and are totally covered in mud...happy pigs!!

Jim also moved our larger ewe group in one of the pasture locations off the farm.  A lot of work!

When Friday rolled around, the upcoming three days of studio time was such a luxury for me!  Rarely do I even get three hours of uninterrupted time in the studio!  Even better, the weekend was punctuated by people stopping by on the tour — woohoo…people!  Many of our visitors were vacationing in Maine and were very excited to have found the Maine Fiberarts Tour Map.  They were having a blast visiting around and were pleasantly surprised to find a fair number of farms, studios & shops open right here on our little peninsula.  Jim was invited for a Saturday afternoon of sailing with friends so off he went — a well deserved break for him!

On Sunday, Jim was hinting that his wisdom tooth was giving him some trouble.  He already had an appointment to have them (the last 2) removed on the 21st but it was looking like he wouldn’t be able to make it to that date. On Monday, he called the oral surgeon and on Tuesday, the offending tooth and its stubborn friend were extracted.  Unfortunately, I’d already made plans to make a trip to the island of Vinalhaven on Wednesday so I had to leave Jim on his own…thank goodness for drugs!

Vinalhaven was amazing!  It was overcast as I left home and not much had changed when I boarded the ferry 45 minutes later. But as the ferry approached the island, the clouds opened up and it became a beautiful day!

A common sight on the ferry...supplies for the island.

A common sight on the ferry...supplies for the island.

I’d been invited to visit and advise the owner and farm caretaker of Long Cove Farm on fleece preparation for handspinners.  They’re raising Merinos and until now have been selling the fleeces for commercial purposes.  So…this was a very fun time!  After arriving and having a fine lunch of lobster roll & other goodies, we got into some lovely fleeces.

I spotted this boat with a great name as we were leaving Rockland harbor.

I spotted this boat with a great name as we were leaving Rockland harbor.

Unfortunately, my camera batteries died before I could take any photos of the farm or fleeces…argh!

The owner of Vinalhaven Long Cove Farm, Wanatha,  gave me a trio (2 hens & a rooster) of CuckooMarans so I put together a temporary home for them in the big barn while we got the henmobile ready for the long trip to the back fields…finally it’s dry enough that the house won’t sink into the pasture.  I have to say that this particular pasture is one of my favorite spots.  It’s always cool and when you walk around out there, the wild mint is bruised under foot and sends up its lovely scent…ummmm!  Bad news…sheep won’t eat it!  So we’re putting the chickens up there and will see if they eat it.  I’ll be very surprised if they don’t!

Right about Thursday, summer arrived on the coast of Maine…88+ degrees and about the same percent humidity.  This is unusual for us but hey! it’s not raining so I’m not complaining!  By Sunday afternoon, the big ewe group had again been moved to new pasture, the boys had been FAMACHA scored and moved as well.  The new chicken trio had been introduced into the henmobile with the laying flock (in the middle of the night) and the whole kit n’ kabootle had been moved to the back pasture.

The henmobile hits the road...Skye brings up the rear!

The henmobile hits the road...Skye brings up the rear!

On Sunday we went to the harbor for a lobster dinner and celebrated our 39th wedding anniversary and my [not 39th] birthday…it was a perfectly beautiful evening.