Thursday, September 24, 2009

The paint job


So I am on the porch periodically glancing at Tamara touch-painting the barn's door. She is on the ground. Next time I look, she is on a ladder. The next peer shows her dangling down from the loft's door. The cat is following her around and sniffing the white paint (may be he thinks its milk); whiskers all painted white. The door looks great now. Any excuse to be outside, any excuse!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Nightengale and the Chicken Coop


Nightengale is a beautiful silver gray alpaca. She is the matriarch of our herd and a wonderful mom. But she is obesessed with the chicken's grain. I first noticed her preoccupation when we moved the coop into the large paddock that the female alpacas graze in. It took a bit of time before we could fence off a space for the poultry. Every day when I let the alpacas out into their field she would immediately run toward the coop and stick her head into the grain feeders and greedily gorge herself. The chickens would see her coming and clear out. One day I went to the barn to find her trapped in the coop! She was pacing back and forth. (As in the above picture). Clearly she was not happy but this did not deter her from running straight for the coop every morning. Last week we finally put a gate up and now Nightengale is not able to venture into chicken territory. When I go to feed the chickens or to get the eggs she will attempt to enter through the gate but a sharp "No" from me and a wave of my hand will halt any temptation. She hangs her head and runs back to the herd.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Garden of Delights

The past few days Taima and I have been dyeing wool. We started with goldenrod and today we made a dye bath of marigold petals. We cut the flowers yesterday and soaked them overnight in steel pot. We simmered the petals today and them placed the yarn into the pale yellow mixture. Because the bath is light colored we are going to let the yarn soak for a few hours. So tomorrow we will see what awaits us.

On another note..our garden has seen better summers. With the wet, rainy and cooler temperatures the squash and tomato plants have not been very fruitful. Several of the tomato plants withered away with tomato blight. A disease that apparently was transmitted from transplant tomatoes grown in the South and brought to Michigan. With ideal temperatures and loads of rain the disease germinated and pretty much decimated most of our neighbors tomato plants. I quickly picked off all mine including the green ones which are now on the dining room table waiting to ripen. I removed the entire plant from the garden and even dumped the soil that some of our container splants reside

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Wool dyeing

As fall approaches crisp apples, piles of colorful leaves and dyed wool fill our thoughts here on the farm. Each year about this time a group of my friends lug dye pots, burners, pots, etc. over to the barn and we spend an entire day creating beautiful pieces of art.
We usually forage for our dye baths. Last year we gathered pokeweed, goldenrod, onion skins and sumac. The dyes created hues of soft yellows and pale pinks. Usually our 'weeds' are dried by the time we dye the fiber. This year Taima wanted to try goldenrod in full bloom. She gathered the blooms and covered them with water in a large pot. She simmered the dye bath for 60 minutes and then placed a roving of sheep's wool that had been mordant in alum. She let the wool simmer for another hour and then let it sit for about 1 1/2 hours. The result was a beautiful lemon yellow. Now she wants to learn to spin it!