normalcy…

nor•mal•cy (ˈnɔr məl si) n.     1. the state of being normal.

How do you define normal? For me, it’s finding the rhythm. The ‘rhythm’ [on a farm-ette] changes with the season. We’re almost there, almost normal. Lambing and kidding [while few in numbers here at Sheepy Hollow] is over and I’m enjoying their sweet barnyard antics! It is heart-warming to watch them grow and develop into little ‘personalities’. It makes the task of finding new homes very difficult! [sigh]

I haven’t had much free-time for fiber’n, as most of my day is spent laboring in the garden! Yes, laboring! Gardening is a great form of exercise: digging, shoveling, composting, transplanting, bending, weeding, watering, and so on… ! Makes me exhausted just writing about it [heehee]. But, our veggie garden is finally planted… and almost back to normal…maintaining and watching over it. Grow Grow Grow!

I don’t purchase many flowers [that is, annuals] anymore. Too much maintenance! Instead, I favor my easy no-care drought-tolerant perennials, biennials, self-seeding annuals, and of course, lots and lots of herbs!!!

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This week I’ll be busily preparing for Dairy Days at Wolcott Farm. I’ve agreed to volunteer and talk about – cheese making – share the knowledge! Please visit the Wolcott Farm if you’re looking for a little family fun on Sunday, June 23, 2013 from 10 – 4.

On a personal/farm business note, after > ten years-in-the-making, I’ve taken steps to officially re-vamp/re-name my little farm business, Sheepy Hollow Herbs, LLC.  As most businesses, you stretch, learn, grow in different directions! Time to accept & acknowledge new challenges! However, rest assured, our family farm-ette [heehee] will remain Sheepy Hollow Farm [only my – LLC – ‘name’ will change]. I’ll keep you ‘posted’.

I’ll also be renewing/updating all my farm/blog pages as well… so looooooong overdue and out-dated! [sheeesh!!!] Please be patient with me as I ‘freshen‘ my pages!! I’ll finally add a few classes/workshops also!

In the meantime, you’ll find me in the garden, playing with the lambs and goat kids, milking my sweet dairy goat and/or fiber’n… as we enjoy the ‘normalcy‘ of the season! Have a great week!

baby, it’s cold outside…

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Let me begin by saying you know you’re either completely nUtZ – or – absolutely in love with living a ‘farm-ish’ lifestyle… or perhaps a little of both…to weather thru winter mornings in the cold and darkness…to do chores! Even more so, when your hubby rolls out of a warm cozy bed, still in jammies, to slide into a pair of frozen coveralls in the wee hours of the morning to help feed the critters [before heading off to work]. He’s actually the muscle of the operation and takes care of all the frozen water buckets!

Actually, this morning was a bit warmer [around the upper teens] compared to yesterday morning which hovered around 7 degrees F.  Whoa! Heat wave! Katie’s back to class/high school, and since I’m drying-off the last of my two milking goats, I can make her breakfast and help pack her lunch. She’s out the door at 7 a.m. Tonight [every Thursday] is ‘date-nite’!! WOOT WOOT! Katie and three girlfriends formed a study group…study/support group! Enough said… I love my girlz!!

I’m also enjoying the last few days ‘spoiling’ my son before he returns to college. Matt is 21, but, I don’t care. He’ll be on his own soon enough…where did the time go??? Katie and Matt went running at the high school last night. They’re both health conscious; Katie is pre-conditioning for soccer. Oh, how I wish I could bottle-up some of their energy. Now-a-days, it’s an effort for me to stay up much past 9 p.m. on the darkest of these winter nights! hahaha

Yesterday, I spent most of my day housekeeping, laundry, vacuuming, tidying-up after family get-togethers! Much to hubby’s dismay, I got a jump-start on taking down a few of the Christmas decorations. This is normally performed AFTER the Feast of the Three Kings/Epiphany. But, I worked on mostly peripheral decorations…, natural pine branches and garlands, pine cone bowl-fillers, etc. I had a forest of pine needles and berries tinkled everywhere as I gathered!

However, I also managed to knit/machine felt a few RED wooly bowls that I’ll embellish with sheepies [most likely] in preparation for St. Valentine’s Day! I’m such a sappy romantic…and let me just say, hubby is, well —- NOT. (Don’t worry, my secret is safe. Hubs rarely reads my blog.) I’ll try to hold-off decorating the house with little hearts and other heart-felt whimsies strewn everywhere…at least ’til mid-January!

I need to get organized, prioritize and focus. [Cleaning my shop last Fall felt really GOOD!] I want to keep on-track with exploring some new ideas [block printing, doodling with water colors, a few pottery/ceramic ideas – make use of my kiln, weaving(?) and play with handfelted wooly vests too!]. Can you tell I’m chomping at the bit… to get started??!

Oh, I almost forgot to mention. I got a phone call from a nice lady near Jackson, MI about a new/first time fiber festival in May that she wanted me to demo natural dyeing. Well, we’ll have new goat kids and lambing in May – so, I rarely leave the barnyard, not to mention I don’t have a lot of natural dye stuffs – since mega CLEANING the drying barn. Not to mention, what’s growing, ready-for-harvesting in MAY!!?? It takes mucho picking & gathering natural materials for the dye bath. And, there’s also a ‘DAIRY DAY’ planned at Wolcott Farm Learning Center, June 23, 2013. They want me to spend the day and make/demo at least three batches of cheese…hmmm…that project warrants further discussion????!

Just as soon as Matt and Katie BOTH return to school…and I have some time to MYSELF [is that even a possibility]…before the garden chores beckon me back!

…all in a day’s work!

farm snippets

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Hello dear friends! I thought I’d share a few ‘snippets’ of my farm chore list [a typical winter day].

Most days, that is, each and every day begins with chores at 4 a.m. [and repeats itself generally on a 12-hour cycle]. The 4 a.m. time-slot began when I still worked at my engineering job and has since carried-over, now that I’m a stay-at-home mom [soon to become an empty nester]. Animals like and appreciate routine. They’re accustomed to a regular schedule. Whether sheep, dairy goats, horses or other ‘pet’, they intuitively know when it’s feeding time. I’m sure if you have a dog or cat, you can certainly relate to this phenomenon!

Hay is distributed amongst the barnyard menagerie, the horses and chickens are grained, bunny, dogs’ and cats’ food dishes filled and all the frozen water buckets busted-out and re-filled with fresh water. Our goats have the luxury of a heated water bucket! Stalls are mucked out.

Today I will also begin milking Cassiopeia [one of our dairy goats] every other day…from once per day…in an on-going effort to dry her off. She just keeps on giving!!! No grain for the goats and grass-hay! YUK! They want their alfalfa back!!! Coriander has been successfully dried-off. Both girls have been bred with a friend’s ‘borrowed’ buck [hubby still resists the idea of owning a buck]…but, that’s a tale for another day! I believe I could have easily extended Cassie’s lactation thru another season [she’s such a heavy milker], but Katie insisted on babies in Spring since next year she’ll be away [freshman] at college!

Next week, before my son returns to college [from Christmas break], he’ll help ‘rearrange’ my Shetland ewes who have been in the breeding pen since December 1. I have reconsidered/reduced the number of breedings…because I prefer NOT to eat my Shetlands [a ram lamb usually ends-up in the freezer], while the economy here is still depressed. We’ll also have to move another portable hay feeder from storage into the sheep pen…they’ve been grazing until the recent snow!!

We put a heat-lamp in the chicken pen/dog shed.

Most of the garden chores have been completed…with the exception of mulching the compost pile. That’s hubby’s job…need I say more?

As we settle into winter, I’ll focus on indoor/house projects, namely my mud-room [aka laundry room]. The wallpaper will be stripped and the walls re-painted. I can’t decide if I want to paint the cupboards? We’ll build another shelf or two in the closet for storage and make a few low-budget cosmetic changes.

Today I’m baking a cake for Katie’s 18th birthday tomorrow, making a hearty split pea & ham soup from the left-over Christmas ham and a loaf of fresh-baked honey wheat bread [in my bread machine of course].

I’ll be cleaning the farm shop [removing Christmas decorations] and giving some serious thought to putting together a class/workshop schedule. I’ll be ‘posting’ it soon! Until then, keep warm and take care!