Grackle & Sun

May I

3524698340_b090591c3c_oA bit of big-for-me news: Today was my first day on the farm as a full-time farmer. Farmhand. Person who gets to look at sheep all day. On Thursday, after I clocked out from my last day at my former for realz job, I wrote the following to some friends:

“I’ve punched my last timecard. As of 4:09 pm today, I am officially a full-time farmer. This next chapter will be written in the language of the land: ancient mountains worn down into hard hills, the blush of broom sedge in snow, the soft hand of sheep’s wool, and the scent of elderflowers after it rains. This next chapter will be written with calloused hands and a calm heart. And with many, many thanks to the spirits.”

20140201_161131Those words echoed in my head all day today. They were true when I wrote them, as the brave words of the earnest and hopeful often are. And after cutting exactly 600 sections of wire for a fencing project today, my hands were most definitely calloused—but my heart was anything but calm. It beat in my chest soft and unsure like a baby bird. Yet also light, despite the weight of the task we’ve taken on. That surprised me. Although now as I contemplate this feeling, I think that must be the blessing of knowing that you are doing the right thing–even when you don’t know what you’re doing.

When you are certain of the direction, but uncertain of the path, the only way to go is forward. And if you never find the path, you at least had a very interesting walk, right?

20161118_164445This is the approach I took today. When it seemed to much, I held that baby bird up in my hands and showed it the view and said, This isn’t going anywhere. It has been here for a billion years without you. It will be here for a billion more without you. Be here now, and make it count. Work slowly, slowly. There is time to figure this all out. So the day went, with me figuring things out slowly, slowly; and slowly, slowly my heart began to calm, to take in the view, and to beat steady and true. And a little bit wilder than before.

20150417_123932Now that my days are governed by things other than punching in clocks, look for more about life on the farm and also about dyeing, as the dyepots are soon to be brought out of storage.  That is all for now.  You will soon have your fill of fence-building and compost-making and sheep-herding and tractor-repairing and garden-planting and yarn-dyeing. Ah, who are we kidding? There is never enough yarn dyeing.

I’ve been waiting years for this day.  And now, here we are. Boots on, sleeves up. Woot!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Instead

Below follow the resolutions I made for 2016.  I don’t want to make any new ones without first revisiting last year’s to see what of this list I did or did not accomplish. A review, if you will, of imperfection and humanness, good intentions and fickle will. Let’s take a peek and reflect, shall we?

  • Become best friends with my body–maybe do some juicing, a little cleansey+detoxy sort of thing, and (ahem) start working out again. Easy, right?  Well, I did start off last year with a detox, so technically, check mark. The rest is a long story for another time–but the short story basically involves me being tested for multiple neurological diseases and ultimately being diagnosed with Lyme. Again.
  • Take trumpet lessons. Didn’t happen. But I did learn the C major scale and played a rousing rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ to myself when I turned 42 last year. And I’m signed up for lessons which begin later this month. So… I’ll call this one good.

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  • Grow a bunch of awesome seedlings for the garden.  Sadly, no. But not for a lack of trying. Things started off really well, and then one day, after I’d moved the seed trays outside, it rained, filling up the trays. I didn’t find them until the next day, and they were very, very drowned. But I drained them off and thought maybe they could be saved. Then it got balls hot 2 days later and baked the shit out of them. It was terribly sad and frustrating. The garden still grew things, though, as it is wont to do when I throw seeds at it and then get out of the way. Points for trying, right?

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  • Establish proper dye, herb, and medicinal garden beds. Alas, no, as all those seedlings perished in the above catastrophe. GIANT SADFACE. I did, however, successfully establish a Missouri native wildflower garden in one corner of the vegetable garden space. It is very pretty. This is a native copper iris.

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  • Do this fun Plant Ally Project Challenge.  I did not do this. Instead, I kept the tab open on my laptop for almost a solid year and stared at it every day thinking, tomorrow. Many great things are never done one day at a time.
  • Two words: Dye. Yarn. My great disappointment. We won’t talk about it. I have yarn washed, tied, and ready to go; buckets of poke juice sitting in the garage staring at me petulantly. Sometimes your groove gets shelved as you run around putting out fires instead of tending the creative fire. Nothing to do but be kind to yourself and allow things to unfold when they will. I love dyeing, and I could not push this.
  • Have the soil at the farm tested.  Nope, but for good reason! This year, I went to several intensive grower’s conferences. Major research mode. Two were for growing native elderberries, and the other was for holistic orchard practices. Both Terry and Michael were absolutely fantastic, and I learned so much important information–including what specifically to test for when establishing orchards. So, I am now properly prepared to do the soil sampling and have contacted my county extension already.

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  • De-fence the pasture pastures. Re-fence the pastures.  Yes! I didn’t get all of them, but I did take down the worst offender. And now that I know how to do it, the rest should be much easier. We decided not to re-fence any pastures with permanent fencing, and instead my dad has invested in some good movable electric netting for the sheep. This has worked remarkably well. I’m planning on purchasing the next set of fencing so that we have more flexibility for group separation.

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  • Begin intensive grazing. Of the sheep. Not of me. Slowly, but surely, this is happening–especially with the aid of the portable fencing. There is a learning curve for sure, and until I’m on the farm full-time, it won’t happen quite the way it needs to. But improvements are being made. Check.

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  • Start drawing again. Play with the inks (that I’ve had for 5 years).
  • Fix my sewing machine. Sew.  No and no. Although, I did figure out what was wrong with the sewing machine. And knowing is half the battle, right?
  • Learn how to make tinctures and more medicinal tea blends.   I worked on this quite a bit. I’ve done a lot of reading on medicinal herbs this year. And listened to some excellent talks, as well. I made several tinctures and tea blends this year. Check.
  • Learn how to can, freeze, and dehydrate.  Canning and freezing, no. But I did do some fruit dehydrating. Love me some dried mango.
  • Take more walks. Yes, I did this. Most of my walks were taken with my best friend, Ronin, who unfortunately went on to the great gig in the sky in November, after a short but sucktastic tangle with metastatic lung cancer. My heart hurts. I still feel his spirit with me, but my walks will never be the same.

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  • Paddle the MR340.  
  • Prolly ought to practice paddling.  I did not paddle the MR340. Instead, I learned something about myself: I am not a competitive person. Not with this kind of thing, anyway. I’d really like to paddle the length of the 340, but not in some frenetic, heat stroke inducing, sleep deprived, timed contest. That sounds fucking awful. I am the tortoise, not the hare. I did manage to go paddling a few times. Slowly, with much looking around and dipping my fingers in the water.

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  • Sprout broccoli. Eat the sprouted broccoli.
  • Make water kefir. Drink the water kefir.  Yes and yes. Although, I had a difficult time keeping my water kefir grains alive for more than 4 or 5 batches at a time. What I did make turned out good, though. And broccoli sprouts are zesty and delicious. And full of sulforaphane, which is exceptionally good for you.

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  • Figure out what I want to do when I grow up.  I feel like I’m getting closer…
  • Send postcards to friends and family.  Sorry, fam. I did email more, though.
  • Go on a silent retreat. I wish.
  • Write down the stories in my head. Stories, no. But I did write down more of my thoughts and kept a bit of a journal. Occasionally.
  • Clean the basement. LOLOLOLOL.  The answer is still LOLOLOLOLOL.
  • Welcome the magic in my life. This was a priority, and I worked very hard to keep a committed daily practice in motion. Even when I didn’t feel like it. Kind of like flossing. You just get up and do it no matter what. This daily dedication has been a real blessing and a true lesson in the depth to be gained from a slow, sustained practice.

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  • PLAY MORE. And relax, everything is ok.  This one I think I finally remembered how to do.  This might be my best accomplishment all year.

Even though 2016 was a year that was in many respects quite tragic, it also brought many, many good things. We talk about a year as though it was an entity that acted upon us, instead of us acting within it–a measure of time that holds our deeds, good and bad. I have no resolutions for 2017. For me, they end up being To Do lists anyway. Instead, I simply want to remember that while I may not control everything around me, my circumstances or the actions of others, I am always in control of my actions and my attitude–the two things that count. So no matter what I might accomplish this next year, may I always reflect with honesty, discern with wisdom, act with integrity, and above all, respond with lovingkindness and good cheer. Because at the end of it all, it will be the love and kindness and good cheer that will be remembered. Not cleaning the basement.

Happy 2017 to you all! May this year bring you many blessings–good company, good food, good health, and grand adventures!

d

The Natural Order of Chaos

I can’t remember exactly when I started collecting yarn for the beast. Around 2006, I think. Ten years ago. A friend loaned me her copy of Cheryl Oberle’s Folk Shawls after she knit a few gorgeous shawls from it.  I thumbed through the book, drooling at the beautiful, complicated stitches and delicious+scrummy yarn. And I kept on thumbing through.

As a newish knitter, I chose patterns based solely on what I thought I was capable of doing, not on what truly called to me. I was afraid to take off my training wheels. And so I chose the one pattern that I thought I could actually do–the ruana: a large rectangle knit entirely of the simplest stitch a knitter can make with two hands. With the exception of the cleverly constructed  neck (which was knit last, giving me time to build up to it), this is what we call a ‘mindless knit’.  That is not said pejoratively.  A mindless knit is a good thing–something that can be done without counting rows or stitches; something that can be picked up and put down without fear of jacking it up. In many ways, for many knitters, it is the perfect kind of knit–one that allows the stresses of the day to fall away in the rhythmic click-click of the needles, the pull and release of yarn across fingers.  But in this moment, I was not thinking of those things. I was only thinking of what I could- and mostly of what I could not-do.  Thus, this was a project born out of fear and denial: the unfortunate (and unnecessary) fear of crafting over my head, and the utter denial of my heart’s desire to do more. I was stubbornly unwilling to leave the bosom of my beloved garter stitch. And so I cast on (and cast on and cast on), and began a four year journey of…ruana2What? Fortitude, mostly. It’s a lot of garter stitch. 280 stitches per row. 472 rows. That’s 132,160 stitches just on the body. Add maybe another thousand or so for the neck. At times, it felt like a million more than that. It was the neverending story. But as far as stories go, it was a lovely one to listen to and to create. Warm, soft, lustrous, and colourful. It was these qualities that kept me coming back to the knitting. It was so enjoyable. I stopped seeing garter stitch as ‘basic’, and started to experience it for what it truly is–foundational. And the ruana, safe and constant, gave me space to think.

In this thinking, I figured out why I had actually chosen this project. Stitch by stitch, I began to examine my fear, which I realized was born out of belief in an identity of noncraftiness–which itself was all tangled up with life-long rejection from others for not being girlie enough. As I sat with that fear (and also that rejection), stitch by stitch, I realized that I was capable of doing this crafty thing that I loved in my own non-traditional, not-super-girlie way.  And so as my hands knit the ruana, my mind tinked the old identity, the old judgement, until it could be reconstructed into something true. Some of this was very conscious. Some of this was very subconscious. But I knit and knit and knit through it. Somewhere in there, I started working on new projects. Complicated projects which required new skills. I leveled up a few times. But I came back to the ruana. To peace, and space, and the story she told. ruana1And like the best stories, the ones that are unhurried, that take time to pause and call attention as they turn and unfold and build, the ruana demanded patience and rewarded with depth. Demanded reflection and rewarded with insight. She holds a story. Each stitch a word, each row a phrase flowing into the next; the wool providing both characters and setting, my hands the action. My own story knit into it whole cloth.

Then she was finished. And I sewed shells and bells onto her fringe, so she can sing her story, too.bellsandshellsOne of the joys of this project was playing with so many different, glorious skeins of yarn. I loved choosing at random (which is never really random) and seeing how each colour blended into the next. Each skein had its own personality, and I’ll say this: you have to listen to your yarn. It will tell you who it wants to sit next to, if it wants to stand out or blend in.

I used eight different colours and slightly varying weights. I have them listed with pictures on my Ravelry project page. It is a near indescribable pleasure to work with fantastic yarn. I prefer stuff with character–natural colours, handspun, and natural fibers. And I don’t mind picking out the odd piece of straw here or there. The difference comes down to working with something alive or something dead. That’s what it feels like to me. Here’s what is in the ruana of truth:

  1. Beaveslide Dry Goods is an old favorite. Great yarn, super nice people. And the colour cards are awesome. I love them. I used Fisherman’s weight 3 ply in Bison Brown.
  2. Reynolds Lopi 100% Icelandic wool, all natural colours (grey-brown-black). This has been discontinued now. It’s a heavy yarn, and I split the plies to use the singles.
  3. Galler Peruvian Tweed in brown-black #107. Super ridiculously soft undyed superfine high Andes alpaca. Need I say more? Nope.
  4. Deborah Arbuckle’s Shadyside Farm Studio  Hands-down my favorite yarn ever. Romney wool. Lustrous. Gorgeous natural colours. And she is super awesome. I used Sheep Heather in dark chocolate and black. Deborah’s Etsy shop is empty at the moment, and I hope she’s just taking a break to restock. This is me sitting here not freaking out.
  5. Brooks Farm Yarn I swear angelic light shone from this booth at Stitches Midwest. Their yarn is so soft and so shiny. Elegant, but still durable. Like an elf of Rivendell. I used two different colours from a line called Harmony–a blend of silk, wool, mohair, and magic. It has been discontinued, but it’s stashed on Ravelry with some for trade/sell. Hint, hint.
  6. Cheryl Oberle Dancing Colours. I met Cheryl Oberle at Stitches Midwest in Chicago and told her I was knitting her ruana pattern. She was absolutely lovely, and she picked out a skein from her Dancing Colors line to go in the ruana. How cool is that?! Super cool, that’s how cool. Highlight of the trip.

My non-knitting friends get a real kick out of my yarnie fangirling. Like the time we were sitting around the table at a dinner party, telling our best celebrity stories, and I regaled them with the time I waited on Casey and Jessica Forbes at a wedding brunch. You know? Casey and Jess… the founders of Ravelry. Oh, come on! Ravelry. The knitting website… Blank stares and then drinks shooting out of noses, people. That is the entertainment I bring to the table.

Not all knitting carries a story of chaos and transformation and changing of masks the way the ruana does. But it can. Everything has a story, and anything can be a catalyst for change if that is how you choose to see it. And that is magical. People always think that magic is supposed to change the outer world. It does. By changing you, by changing the inner world. May all your crafting be magical.  ruana3

As always, tinks on me!

Farm Skillz: Brush hogging

I did not learn how to drive a tractor when I was growing up on the farm. That omission seems strange to me now, although I must admit that as a kid I was incredibly relieved that it never came up. Driving the tractor was something my brothers did. I used a shovel. I pushed a wheelbarrow. I carried buckets. I didn’t drive the tractors. I was afraid of them. Still am, frankly. What with all the gears and levers and noise and…parts. I mean, really. What the hell is a clevis tongue? Who can even say ‘clevis tongue’ with a straight face?

Now here I am decades later, back on the farm, and it is my turn to drive the tractor. As my dad succinctly put it, I need to know how to do this. No arguing that point. It’s easy to think about things. This is where I must actualize.

Let me introduce you to the Kubota, vehicle of my burgeoning farm skills. Grab a drink, I’ll tell you what I’ve learned so far.kubotaWe have a larger tractor, simply called The Big Tractor. It’s a Ford, and it’s blue and has racing stripes like my tattoo.  I’m sure that’s a coincidence. He’s almost as old as I am.  I do not know how to drive The Big Tractor. Yet. That lesson is looming large around a nearby corner. The Kubota, however, is easy to drive once you get your hand-foot coordination going, and once all of the completely illogical knobs and levers have been thoroughly explained and their accompanying pictographs translated. It’s set up pretty much like any manual transmission: gas (in this case a throttle–both hand lever and foot pedal), brakes (left and right, independent or locked together), gear shift (forward, neutral, reverse), and a clutch.  It also has something called a Glide-shift which allows the driver to shift gears (ie, speeds) without engaging the clutch or braking. This is particularly important because the clutch also controls the PTO drive shaft for all the useful things that attach to the back end of the tractor. In this case, the brush hog. Which is also called a bush hog. Potato, tomahto.

A brush hog is used to mow down brush, heavy weeds, and tall grass. It’s pretty impressive what it will chop down. Like my nemesis, the multiflora rose. Die, multiflora, die! When the clutch is engaged, the drive shaft (which runs the mower), stops spinning. The Glide-shift allows the driver to switch gears clutchlessly on the fly while keeping the mower running. Handy.bushhogThe project for the day was brush hogging a pasture on the northern end of the property. As you can see below, it is madly grown up with broom sage, a native warm-season grass that, except in its early growth, is not very good forage. Broom sage grows well on poor soils, which is why it is found in lush abundance in southern Missouri–where the soil is nothing but clay and rocks on top of more clay and considerably more rocks. It is a clear indicator that this pasture is in need of nutrients–most likely phosphorus–and also a pH shift. We’ll find out more next month when I start sending in soil samples to the local extension.

This broom sage is very tall. FYI, it should never get this tall. This is what happens when you should have brush hogged two months ago, but roughly 80 other things were further up the master To-Do list. Nothing will eat this grass. It does have other uses. It provides cover for quail (I saw 6 of them) and other wildlife. The sheep LOVE to hide in it. And doesn’t that make finding them fun? They think so.viewfromthetractorOnce the engine is revved to the correct RPM to run the PTO (there’s a little unmarked arrow on the tachometer to let you know), you can engage the PTO (there’s a knob-thingie with hieroglyphics) and start mowing. Easy. You have to make sure to overlap just a little bit so that you don’t get a stripe of unmown grass between passes–especially since the giant back tires push quite a bit of it down. Then it’s just back and forth around the field. For hours and hours. Mowing down great swaths of tall grass. If you are like me, and you’ve learned to embrace your OCD, this is a rather pleasant job.swathOr it is until you hear a bad ruckus (as opposed to the good ruckus that indicates everything’s functioning properly) and look behind you to find the brush hog bumping along, listing badly to one side of the tractor. WTH? So you stop the tractor, engage the dual brake, put everything in neutral, disengage the PTO, throttle-down,  drop the front bucket, turn the tractor off. Go investigate… Ah. A bolt is missing. The important kind that holds parts together. In this case, a bolt that holds one whole side of the brush hog on the tractor. So you walk from the very top of the pasture–because that’s where tractors break down–to the barn to find your dad. Because he knows how to fix everything, and you don’t. Well, I don’t. So I got my dad, and he got replacement bolts (which he, of course, had on hand in an old coffee canister on his workbench) and a couple ginormous wrenches that looked like they came from an A-ha video, and we fixed the brush hog.

Below, you can see the kind of bolty-nutty-lock pin situation I’m talking about. It attaches the brush hog to the tractor. This one is the bolt that was still holding the brush hog on the left-side lift arm. 1) Quick-release lock pin which holds the bolt on one side 2) Lift arm ball joint from the tractor 3) Brush hog left-side bar 4) Nut holding the right side of the bolt. What probably happened is that the nut fell off, and the bolt jiggled loose and fell out somewhere in the field. Maybe someday someone will find it and ask themselves what it is and how it got there. I have found many rusted old things on the farm like that, and I wonder these things, too.20161001_161025Here is the newly replaced bolt/nut/quick-release lock pin. Exciting, isn’t it? It made my day, let me tell you. On a farm, fixed things that work right are fucking fantastic.  I am not upset that this broke. These are the lessons I need. And I am very fortunate to be able to learn so much from my dad now. I am constantly in awe of the fact that not only does he know what all this stuff is, but that he knows how to fix all of it. I feel the weight of that knowledge and know that my shoulders are not yet up to holding it. One lesson at a time.newboltAll fixed. Back to brush hogging. I had a moment while on the tractor, about 3 hours in, where I realized that I could happily do this for the rest of my life. Not brush hogging specifically, although I wouldn’t mind that, but rather this whole tending the land thing; having my days measured out not by the clock, but by what needs to be done on that day, in that season. This was a good realization to have, seeing as how it’s kind of what I’m here to do. Affirmation by actualization.

And look at this–my brush hogging skillz? Better than decent. Not only did I miss all the bigass rocks in the section I did, but I (softie that I am) was even able to save this baby goldenrod that really wanted to grow in this spot. Because tending the land means many kinds of actions for all the life there. That’s a lesson I’m learning, too.softie

Late blooming

Fall flora on the farm.

Feeling nostalgic for my childhood on said farm.

Days when the land and the sun and the wind held all the magic I needed.

Now I try to set aside the running list of things to get done,

and instead walk my old haunts

so that I may bring together the wild heart that beats both here

and in me.

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late boneset (eupatorium serotinum)

purpleboneset

blue boneset (eupatorium coelestinum)

jewelweed

jewelweed (impatiens capensis)

perilla

perilla (perilla frutescens)

rhusaromatica

fragrant sumac (rhus aromatica)

goldenrod

goldenrod (solidago)

mushroomclusters

i really need to learn some mushroom id skills (fungus superfunkus)

thistle

thistle (either cirsium vulgare or cirsium altissimum)

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no idea. plant id book came up nil. and what does that mean for us to see without naming?

A Glimpse of the Land of Enchantment

Roadtrip to New Mexico.  The American West has ridiculously huge skies.

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Hot desert down below; cool mountains above. All redolent with the scent of pine, cedar, juniper, and desert sage. These are the Sandia Mountains. Albuquerque lies below.

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Petroglyphs carved into volcanic basalt.

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Darkling beetles guard the path ass-up. They are also called stink beetles. This is their warning.

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On the sandstone bluffs at El Malpais.  Ask me about how we got chased by a black bear up here. Yeah. Black bears on bluffs. Big ones. In the desert. Who knew? Not I, said the cat. Very fast runners, black bears.

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As far as you can see, below these bluffs, is an ancient lava field.  Much is grown over with the resilient plants and trees that are native here–but not all.  The black basalt peeks through in many large patches.

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See those two tiny dots below? That’s my son and my husband. Notice I am not there. I am safely on terra mas firma trying not to toss my lunch while I watch in horror and admiration–but mostly horror–as they climb the tallest of the sandstone bluffs they could find.

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More sandstone.  From a reasonable vantage point.

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La Ventana Natural Arch. My favorite.

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Hiking through the lava fields.

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The mountains outside Santa Fe.

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Glorious, glorious place. Had to share. As soon as I finish with some plant id-ing, I’ll post photos of the native flora there. So many beautiful blooming flowers. Next time, I hope to see even more of New Mexico. I am thoroughly enchanted.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guide to Spring

In Missouri, you can’t count on the weather to tell you what season it is. It might be 65 degrees in December; it might be 35 degrees in May. Strike that. At some point, it will be both of those things.  But despite the fact that I never seem to know when to pull my head out of the covers, the earth knows when to stretch. The flora and fauna know when to peek out and then get busy.  From one moment to the next there is a shift, the light turns white and crystalline bright, and suddenly you’re late for Spring! Here’s a lovely, quick little visual guide to my cues this time around the wheel…

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Lambing season is in full gear–31 and a few still due. No bottle babies this year, which was a major Phew! The garden has had a generous helping of sheepy compost and a tilling or two. And if it ever stops raining on my days off, I’ll plant some seeds… I have so many seeds to plant. So, so many.

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Super exciting things are in the works on the farm. And in my life. I don’t want to jinx anything, so we’ll wait to talk about it until the will-be becomes the is. I hope all your springs are pleasingly full of potential and the emergence of glorious creative goodness. And seeds. And if you’re very lucky, lambs. ;)

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live happy,

dre

 

 

Eggs and Kitchen Dyes

I recently taught a class where I work: how to naturally dye eggs.  Fun was had. And it made me long for wool. :D

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naturally dyed eggs 3

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Have fun celebrating Spring in whatever way floats your boat.  I am off to eat delicious Puerto Rican food with my family.

Live happy, dye happy!

 

Resolute

I love this time of year, when everything is turned to browns and greys; when the earth shows its bones, its humbling architecture. 20151220_103014The weather is changeable where we are. Christmas day was a balmy 60 degrees this year. Strange, but lovely. Then it was all thunderstorms and tornadoes. And flooding, lots and lots of flooding. Not what one would expect at the end of December, even in the Midwest.  Now it’s cold. Finally. And still flooding.

We took advantage of the winter reprieve to tend to the garden–something which got lost in the shuffle this fall. Husband did a rough turning over with the tractor, but before he did, I made sure to clear out any big stuff that was left–a missed tomato cage, dried okra stalks, pavers, and… Look what I found!

20151220_104242Yeah. That’s a radish bigger than my head! And you know what they say–never eat anything that’s bigger than your head and certainly not three that are bigger than your boots… Should I be a radish farmer or what?20151220_104333

Time to sweep out the old year and welcome in the new. I am so excited for this new year, I can hardly stand it. I’ve got a list of all the things I want to do:

  1. Become best friends with my body–maybe do some juicing, a little cleansey+detoxy sort of thing, and (ahem) start working out again. Easy, right?
  2. Take trumpet lessons.
  3. Grow a bunch of awesome seedlings for the garden.
  4. Establish proper dye, herb, and medicinal gardens.
  5. Do this fun Plant Ally Project Challenge.
  6. Two words: Dye. Yarn.
  7. Have the soil at the farm tested.
  8. De-fence the pastures. Re-fence the pastures.
  9. Begin management intensive grazing.  Of the sheep, not me.
  10. Start drawing again. Play with the inks (that I’ve had for 5 years).
  11. Fix my sewing machine. Sew.
  12. Learn how to make tinctures and more medicinal tea blends.
  13. Learn how to can, freeze, and dehydrate.
  14. Take more walks.
  15. Paddle the MR340.
  16. Prolly ought to practice paddling.
  17. Sprout broccoli. Eat the sprouted broccoli.
  18. Make water kefir. Drink the water kefir.
  19. Figure out what I want to do when I grow up.
  20. Send postcards to friends and family.
  21. Go on a silent retreat.
  22. Write down the stories in my head.
  23. Clean the basement. LOLOLOLOL.
  24. Welcome the magic in my life.
  25. PLAY MORE. And relax, everything is ok.

It all looks so simple in a list. Who knows how much of it will happen. Doesn’t matter. I used to care about checking things off the list, but then I realized that it’s much nicer to just let the list show me what categories of things I’m finding important and/or need to work on. Maybe I’ll chuck through it, maybe I’ll struggle. But I will remain resolute that however it goes, it goes in good cheer and thankfulness.

So, friends, what hopes do you have for the New Year? What fantastical feats do you wish to accomplish? What mad new skillz do you dream of acquiring? What do you secretly dream will happen in the upcoming months? Tell me, tell me!

Have a very happy New Year!  May it be filled with many blessings–good health, good company, and loads of good luck.

–d

 

 

 

 

 

To Feel Linen: A Field Trip

I’ve been in the mood for art. Seeing art. Experiencing art. Thinking about art. Maybe even making art. This past Saturday, I had the good fortune to spend a beautiful day at three art exhibits at three different art museums.

The first was the St. Louis Art Museum’s Modern exhibit featuring designs from local architects, artists, and designers from the 30’s through 60’s. Very cool. Very Scandinavian. Some great textiles.

The third was a beautiful and ethically complex exhibit of African Kota at the Pulitzer Arts Foundation. Kota are wooden and metal sculptures which were carved to protect the bones of the deceased. To see these sculptures in a museum is to seen them taken away from their purpose. Despite the fascinating glimpse into another culture and history, I couldn’t help thinking, who is watching over the ancestors now?

The second was an exhibit by Sheila Hicks at the Contemporary Art Museum.  You can take the tour with me via the sad, sad photos taken with my phone’s camera, OR you can click on the link above and take a quick video tour of the whole exhibit. It gives a much better sense of scale, and you can pretend that you went with me!

Here are some pics:

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Sweden, 2004. Linen, wool, and silk.

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Feeling Blue, Seeing White, 2013. Cotton on bast.

 

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Full Regalia, 2007.

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Natural linen and triple-dyed embroidery cotton.

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Evolving Tapestry: Blue, 1967-68. Linen and silk.

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Don’t you just want to run your hands across it?

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Escape to the North, 2013. Linen, silk, bamboo, and porcupine quills.

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Masonry Panel, 1981. Linen and cotton.

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Forêt de Lin Wall Hanging (c. 1968, reconstructed 1983) Wet-spun linen.

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I can just imagine a soft breeze rustling these softly.

 

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Hieroglyph Wuppertal, 1966. Natural linen.

I truly loved this exhibit. Loved all the weaving. Loved all the linen. So much texture and colour. It was beautiful and simple and glorious. I also must admit that I had to keep my hands locked firmly under my arms so that I wouldn’t forget and touch the pieces. The soft, blue fuzziness of the Evolving Tapestry. The glorious bas-relief effect of the Forêt de Lin Wall Hanging. Which I desperately wanted to touch. To make it rustle. Like sheaves of wheat. It was almost too much. It was almost unkind to not let us touch. Almost. Textiles beg to be touched. Or I beg to touch textiles. Take your pick. ;)

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