Wednesday, November 17, 2010

On Their Way Home

First thing this morning, Rice and Barley's owners came by to pick them up.  Michael helped hold the boys in the back of the truck for the ride home.  We're always happy to help out some wayward sheep!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Two Visitors

When Anna checked on the animals this morning after her shower, the chickens were all hiding in the coop and the sheep were clearly stressed about something...

Some people get stray dogs and cats hanging around their houses. This morning, we got two stray sheep!  The white one was butting the fence, trying to get in with our sheep, who were not too happy with that idea.  

We are temporarily postponing out trip to Historic Deerfield, and are keeping the sheep happy with plenty of hay while we try to find their owner.  We'll see how this all turns out, but I think Anna is secretly hoping that we have acquired two new sheep!  They are adorable and seem very nice, and they are certainly smart since they came to the right place!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Deep in the Activities of Life...

holiday decorating...ballet every day...making pies...planting next year's perennials in the holding bed...needle felting...colonial study and baking johnny-cake for breakfast...sewing sachets...dealing with naughty sheep...knitting and re-knitting slippers (don't ask)...nature study...Nutcracker rehearsals for 2 different Nutcrackers...processing and freezing pumpkin and kale...helping a chickadee out of the house...researching 17th century Massachusetts houses...dressing up the Tiger...lots of math with Daddy...tutu making (with help from the Tiger)...researching cob ovens (a project for the spring)...scientific method and well-documented experiments...planning a trip to Historic Deerfield for next Tuesday...

We always feel so busy each week.  Listing some of the things we do helps remind us that we actually get a lot accomplished.  (Notice how I didn't list work or doing the dishes.  I have my priorities!)  Have a good weekend!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Our First Wool and Yarn Show

Well, Anna and I definitely took a loooong vacation from our blog.  Although I wouldn't exactly call it a vacation - we were busy getting ready for the Franklin County Fiber Twist, which was last Saturday, September 25.  Prepping wool and yarn was all-consuming, and even used up a few of my vacation days from work.  Anna was right there, helping every step of the way.  Michael referred to the prep work as "Mimi's Sweat Shop."  And it was.

We washed a couple hundred skeins of yarn (they come back from the spinnery with some oils from the machines on them and need some freshening up).  We left some skeins natural, but tied others up and dyed them.  Then we hung them to dry for a couple days before we twisted them up.

We washed fleeces and Anna rainbow dyed some of them.   We packaged fleece into little bags and tied them with ribbons.  We went through the carded waste wool from the spinnery and separated it into roving and wound roving balls.

We made mason jar sewing kits with vintage notions, buttons and wooden spools of thread.  We went through our collection of hundreds of vintage knitting needles and cleaned and sorted them.
We designed labels for all our wool products and Anna made a poster with photos of all our sheep.  This was very popular at the Fiber Twist - everyone wanted to talk about the sheep.
The show was great fun and we sold a lot more than I expected, including half of Bunny's raw fleece!  She does have beautiful wool.

After a long day, Anna spent the last hour of the show at a class on needle felting (her new obsession), before helping to pack up all our wool and yarn.

Since the show, we have spent a good percentage of our profits on needle felting supplies for Anna.  She definitely earned it!  At least we don't have to buy wool!
We're looking forward to a more regular blog-posting schedule at this point.  And Anna is planning to get back to writing her "Meet the Animals" series.  Stay tuned.

Friday, September 10, 2010

First Week of Homeschool

Anna started homeschool for the fall semester.  We are part of a homeschool group that gets together on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  Parents chip in and pay for teachers (one of the advantages of living in a college town) and the kids take classes in a yurt in the back yard of one of the homeschooling families.  This semester Anna is taking Math and Art on Tuesday, and Physics, Latin and French on Thursday.  Anna's favorite subject is Math, and she is a dedicated student.  She worked on her math homework all afternoon...

Until I got home from work and we canned some tomato sauce (a homeschool lesson in its own way)...

And then finished her math at my office the next morning...

She thought it was due the following day rather than the next week!  So far Anna is enjoying all her classes and the company of her friends.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Skirting Fleeces

On Sunday, Anna and I took advantage of the sunny, windy weather and started skirting our fleeces that were sheared back in May.  Our friend Emilie called and when I told her what we were doing, she said skirting fleeces sounded like fun, and she'd like to watch/help.  This was Emilie's romantic view of skirting (it looks lovely through the garden, doesn't it?)...
before I explained that it was definitely NOT nice or fun, and involved picking out poop and hay from dense wool, and shaking the fleece in the wind to loosen vegetation, dirt and "other stuff," and then picking some more.  It's VERY dirty work and the lanolin in the fleece makes everything stick to you.  Emilie and Joachim came over after we were done skirting.

Here are some photos of our day.  First Michael sets up the skirting table with his best helper, Jumper ( I believe he is part dog)....

The tabletop screen we use is actually an 5 ft x 6 ft section of dog kennel.  This is Amy's beautiful fleece...

And here we are about half way done picking through Miss Fudge's fleece...

It takes at least a couple hours to skirt and pick through each fleece well, but it's important because clean fleeces make better yarn.  We were complimented at the Green Mountain Spinnery for the cleanliness of our fleeces, especially since we don't coat our sheep.  We only got through 2 out of  our 6 fleeces on Sunday.  You can guess what we'll be doing this weekend.  Anyone interested in helping out?  :)

Monday, August 30, 2010

New Kitchen Shelves and Peach Jam

Michael and I put up some new shelves in the kitchen on Saturday, before we left for Maine last week (actually, I skipped a day at the Lee Outlets with Rashonda to put them up!)  I love the look of open shelves.  I think they make the kitchen look real - everything is used and right there.

The space below the shelves to the right of the window is for the dishwasher, which will be installed some time this week...

Anna and I also made a nice batch of peach-honey-lime jam first thing Sunday morning.  It was, in Michael's words, an inspired combination.  I think it might be the best jam we ever made, and luckily we wrote down the quantities we used so it can be replicated (and it will!)

The chickens and Buttercup also love jam making day, and we are very generous with the amount of peach we leave on the peelings....

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Pointe Shoes

Yesterday was the day that Anna has been waiting (and working) for...

Anna had a fitting for her first pair of pointe shoes!!!

She starts pointe work with Rose, her amazing Vaganova teacher, this Monday, when we are back home after the 5-week Boston Ballet Summer Intensive.

I regret that I didn't get any photos of Anna trying on all the different pairs in the store to get just the right fit for her long toes, skinny heels and strong arches, but here she is putting on her pointe shoes after we got back to our apartment...

We still have to sew on the elastics and ribbons, but she was able to releve up to pointe very easily...

And here is a close-up of her absolutely beautiful feet...
This girl was born to be on pointe!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Recent Visitor to the Butterfly Bushes

A beautiful dragonfly, captured (in a photo) by Anna...

Friday, June 18, 2010


I was sitting in a chair by a window a couple evenings ago, and Anna, who was outside, kept walking by, back and forth, many times.  I finally asked her what she was doing and she replied (with a big grin) "Worming."

Hmmm.  Obviously I went outside to see what this worming was all about.

Anna was lifting up flat rocks, looking for worms underneath, and then transplanting her little wiggly friends to her butterfly garden and tomato patch.  Then she scooped up all the worm castings with a hand trowel and used them to fertilize her tomatoes and peppers... 

She is a very serious little gardener, wouldn't you agree?  As well as a friend to all animals - those earthworms are definitely in a more prime location now!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Weekend Gardening, Part 2

Michael worked all last week to prep the new butterfly garden, after spending a couple prior weeks removing rocks. We grow a lot of rocks where we live!  Anna loaded the smaller rocks in the wheelbarrow and moved them out of the way, but we kept some of the larger ones to put an edge on the bed.  This past weekend, Michael screened whatever topsoil was there, added some peat moss, and then screened in tons of compost (thank you sheep and chickens!)  Here is the new bed...
There is also a smaller bed just beyond the butterfly garden that Michael is just beginning to prep for  a little pumpkin patch.
We also took a trip to the garden center and came back with some annuals, alpine strawberries and lavender for Anna to plant in some beautiful, large terracotta pots which we got at a tag sale for just $2 each.  She was unstoppable!  All ten of those pots were planted in no time, and the extra flowers were put into the butterfly garden between rocks along the edge and in other spots around the yard.

The strawberries conveniently located next to the chair was Anna's idea.  She wanted to be able to relax and pick little berries all summer!  The butterfly bushes will go into the bed this weekend along with the butterfly garden seed mix the Easter Bunny left for Anna.  For now, the butterfly bushes are on our back porch, already attracting butterflies.  I'll miss them right outside my kitchen door (they smell delicious!) but we'll be able to see them from the kitchen window.

And thank you to Little Miss Anna, for all the photographs for this post.