Maine Fiber Frolic 2017 Poster
MOFGA Common Ground Fair Poster

Rain,rain Go Away!

OK…enough is enough!  I like a good rainy day from time to time.  It gives you a reason to pause and take a breath before you get back to crazy “normal” life.  But this is really awful.  I just want to crawl into bed with a cuppa tea and a good book.  But NO…we have to be out in it, move wet sheep, move fence in ankle deep standing water, put down several bales of straw in the greenhouse because the Cornish birds are floating away.  3.5 inches came down on Friday. Ay-yi-yi!  And it’s dark — inside, outside — it’s dark all the time!  And now my crazy husband is mowing the lawn in the rain!

With no chance of seeing the sun in the next few days, Jim decided to mow in the rain.

With no chance of seeing the sun in the next few days, Jim decided to mow in the rain.

  Apparently this is as good as it’s going to get all week so nows the time.  On to other stuff…

Good news — On a day when it wasn’t raining…can’t remember exactly when that was…I planted a bunch of stuff in the little herb garden.  So now we have flat & curly parsley, sage, rosemary, 2 kinds of thyme (Simon & Garfunkel comes to mind) some tarragon and greek oregano.  And because you can never have enough basil…8 basil plants — but something ate 2 of them so now there are 6.  And I also put in an echinacea plant.  The lemon balm and chives live on…

Plants are in place and I'm watching for the return of the dreaded bamboo.

Plants are in place and I'm watching for the return of the dreaded bamboo.

the only survivors from the previous plot.  I’ve already begun to see bamboo poking through the soil but I’m on it!  I will not let it get a hold this time!!

Also on a day when it wasn’t raining, I went to visit my friend Paula.  She and her husband have a wonderful farm in Swanville (ME) where they’re raising grassfed beef and lamb as well as marketing their fleeces, pelts and the blankets they have made.  All very nice!  Their sheep are mostly crosses but many are a good percentage Coopworth.  They’ve bought a couple of rams from us and from other Coop folks, too. What a

Paula and her two attentive dogs

Paula and her two attentive dogs

 beautiful spot they have…and they’re so fortunate to have many acres for rotational grazing.

The dogs help Paula gather the ewes & their lambs.
The dogs help Paula gather the ewes & their lambs.

I started writing this post last week before we headed out to Cincinnati for our niece’s wedding but am just finishing it now, 7/3.  My wish for some sun has been granted today and it looks like we might have a partly sunny day for the big holiday!

Frolicking at the Fairgrounds

We spent last weekend at the Maine Fiber Frolic.  This is a really pleasant and more or less laid back festival for us because it’s so close to home — we actually come home every night.  If we didn’t have chores to do, I think it’d be fun to stay at the fairgrounds and play with other vendors and organizers after hours.

Our fleeces did really really well at the Fleece Show on Saturday!!  I entered Bandita’s pretty colored fleece and chose a handsome white one to show as well.  The white was grown by Hatchtown ram Reese — it’s bright and begs to be touched…the hand is just amazing!…and the crimp is consistent overall.  Both fleeces won 1st place longwool in their respective color classes.  The judge, Joe Miller (who runs the fleece show at Rhinebeck) noted the consistancy of the crimp in Reese’s fleece and I think that’s probably what pushed his fleece to the top as there were quite a few really lovely fleeces in that division.  Bandita’s fleece…well, it’s just wonderful and I guess Joe thought so, too, because he awarded it “Best in Show”!  WooHoo!!!  Very exciting!!

Reece's beautiful white fleece

Reece's beautiful white fleece

Bandita's fleece wearing Maine Fiber Frolic ribbons

Bandita's fleece wearing Maine Fiber Frolic ribbons

The Fleece Sale looking a little picked over late on Saturday.  There were still many lovely fleeces to choose from.

The Fleece Sale looking a little picked over late on Saturday. There were still many lovely fleeces to choose from.

Catching up with an old friend in our booth...isn't this at least half the reason we go to these events?

Catching up with an old friend in our booth...isn't this at least half the reason we go to these events?

An impromptu fashion show in our neighbor's booth.

An impromptu fashion show in our neighbor's booth. Felted jackets are by Jodi Clayton of One Lupine.

Bye-bye Bamboo

Bamboo is taking over!

Bamboo is taking over!

The bamboo stand is gone!  The soil looked pretty good underneath with lots of fat earthworms and I added a good dose of composted manure (thank you, sheep & chickens) so the little kitchen herb garden is ready for plants.  I think I can see the lemon balm smiling now that its getting some more sun.  We enjoyed the chive blossoms in a salad…very tasty!  Now I can look seriously at the beautiful herb plants from local farms that are for sale at our Food Co-op.

We’ve just received the latest MOFGA Newsletter (Maine Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association) and there was a most timely article in it about invasive plants and how to deal with them.  I was happy to see that bamboo was included.  It turns out that the “digging it out” method I used is probably not going to work so I’m going to have to keep an eye peeled for any little shoots that appear…and according to this article, they will!

Look at the size of those canes! This is just a small portion of what I dug out. Jim took several loads away in the bucket of the tractor.

Look at the size of those canes! This is just a small portion of what I dug out. Jim took several loads away in the bucket of the tractor.

A much happier space...happier me, too!  OK...so I can now see that the trimwork needs some paint...putting that on the list!  But first, plants!!

A much happier space...happier me, too! OK...so I can now see that the trimwork needs some paint...putting that on the list! But first, plants!!

My Jungle

We feel like we're living in the jungle!

We feel like we're living in a jungle!

Three days ago I could see out this window while I stood at the kitchen sink — Yes! I said THREE!  The bamboo has taken over what used to be the perfect little kitchen herb garden I had growing below the window…it was so convenient, with full sun and all the herbs I really use all the time.  ARGH!  Now there are a few chives that have fought valiantly to keep their spot and a few sprigs of the ever persistent lemon balm. Some would call the lemon balm a “weed” because it can be invasive but hey! it’s still there despite the bamboo…  I applaud the balm!

Today I do battle — sharpening the machete — I will brave the bugs because we have to turn the lights on in the kitchen during the day now!  OMG!  Is there anything else that grows like this?!  I wish I could find a use for this stuff…

Salad Bar in Bristol

Ewes happily munch Spring grass after a long winter of boring old hay.

Ewes happily munch Spring grass after a long winter of boring old hay.

The sheep are now officially “on pasture” after a week of carefully reacquainting them to the green stuff.  It takes a little while to get their rumens adjusted to rich, wet feed after 6 months of eating dry hay.  Too much too soon can cause the sheep to “bloat” and that’s a ba-a-ad thing…can be fatal.  So…we’re very careful and give them limited access to start.  And at night, they’re brought back to the winter paddock where there’s always a fresh pan of baking soda for them to snack on.  The baking soda will calm an overactive ruman.  When they’re in the paddock, we’re better able to observe them and would be more likely to catch a problem early on when it’s easier to fix.

A big pan of baking soda for dessert!

A big pan of baking soda for dessert!

In the morning, we feed them hay before heading out to the pasture so they’re not inclined to overeat.  By about the fourth day of these exercises, they flatly refuse to eat any hay we put out for them…even the choicest, soft, 2nd cutting will sit in the feeder untouched.  Forget what you may have heard…sheep are not stupid!