Oh, Winter... and Catching Up

Apologies for being AWOL for a bit - Grandma Norma (me) went to Moscow, Russia for two months (you can read about it on this other blog I created for the adventure HERE). While I was gone, winter apparently arrived, but not with its usual full force freezing and bluster. This year, winter has come with rain and mud.  Lots of mud. It's like we got a whole other mud season. And Maddrey's efforts to convince the Lovely Gravel Delivery Man to get here with truck loads of grit for a new road was met with delays. We did manage to get a large area somewhat leveled for a new indoor riding arena and horse barn. But it will be another season before we are able to really get moving on that project. Thank you, mud...

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Owning a Farm Lesson 87: Things take longer than you plan. Always. Much Longer.

Meanwhile, Frank is patiently waiting for the ground to freeze so he can stop cussing and get work done. But he is still happier than last winter, because we no longer have our pigs. He sent the last one to a Good Friend's freezer today. This particular pig had survived the initial clearing because he was a bit small - all of our other stock went to "freezer camp" a couple of months ago. We had hoped to chubby him up some more. Plus, he had cozied up with the cows and earned his new name "Cow Pig." Alas, Cow Pig kept escaping his fence and it's never a good thing to have a loose pig, I promise you. So Frank and Cow Pig had a little talk... only Frank survived the conversation.

Maddrey has officially caught the Christmas bug. She hand-dyed these gorgeous play silks. If you've never given these silks to your kids, it's time. They love them. Ask us about them, if you want some. They are 100% silk and make creative play wildly more fun.

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Maddrey is sewing her second quilt. I am an old quilter myself and once taught patchwork and hand-quilting to Little Old Ladies in Dallas, Texas. I am moderately helpful with Maddrey's visions - at least I can advise on construction a bit. But she has created her own techniques. I did some of the final machine sewing on her first quilt just to get 'er done (I'm a very fast sewer) so we could get to the birthday party where it was presented.

This new quilt has photos of family pets for her mom and ended up being quite a bit (QUITE a bit) larger than expected. So the rush to finish sewing begins today, I think.  Photos to come of the finished product, but clearly the colors and prints are fabulous.

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I am busying my hands with knitting more little washcloths. I became addicted to these things over summer - the cotton-linen blend yarn from KnitPicks is wonderful and soft. And the finished washcloths feel like such a luxury. I produced a dozen to give a few each to my mother, my daughter and a Dear Friend who has a "Women's Work" collection. She enjoys simply stacking and restacking the bright colors of her pile of washcloths (yes, she also uses the heck out of them).

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We did finally get a winter snow - a pretty, fluffy covering that came in the night. I do love waking up to a new snow more than just about anything. Of course, I don't have to go trudge around in it, like Frank and Maddrey do. Alas, I can't really take the Grandson out to run around so much - not without help (the gimpy hip slows me down). But the geese seem to be enjoying the weather.

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Our lovely little doggie, Molly is enjoying the snow as well.

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On the business front, we are settling on what we believe will be the focus on our farm going forward.

Owning a Farm Lesson 88: Figuring out what works takes time. Even when you have great plans. (remember that old expression, "God laughs when men make plans"?) Things change, you discover and learn constantly. Be ready to be quick on your feet (mentally and emotionally).

Our Romney sheep are proving to be delightful - Maddrey and Frank did a nice job shearing and got beautiful lamb fleeces which are being sent off to the mill for a test run. Finding the right mill for your wool is a challenge unto itself. But sheep and lamb and wool are definitely in our Revised Master Plan.

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We also have a large, somewhat clear area that is perfect for a Pick-Your-Own berry patch. If you can call four acres a patch... So highbush blueberries, raspberries, strawberries and a few apple trees are going in. These things take a couple of years to really get going (see Farm Lesson 87 above...), so we will be creating other Useful Products in the meantime.

Figuring out What You Want to Do is a big part of starting a farm - for those of you who read this blog because you would like to Follow Your Bliss, like we have, and get yourself a farm. We will try to keep sharing our story - our successes and our frustrations - so you have another little lead on the path. That's something I can say for sure about Farmers and Farming - they LIKE helping one another. I don't know of another business quite like it. Our Good Friend Lisa Reilich, who owns a lovely goat dairy, has given us an incredible amount of information and shared her experience creating her farm. Her help has been invaluable and she thanks the folks who helped her.

Regarding this Blog - We have a little redesign of the website in the works. If I can figure out how to move things over - give me time... But also - I've been following another guy's blog for years (Zen Habits).  He's inspiring and all about creating Good habits, like Posting to Your Blog on a Regular Basis. So that's my new mission for this next year. Expect me to be coming at you more often. Maybe with only little short bits, some photos or a quick project in the works. Ask me questions. Tell me what you'd like to know more about. And we will tell our story as we continue to create our own Happiest Place on Earth.