Friday, April 3, 2009

The Never Ending Winter of 2009

We have had snow on the ground since November of 2008 and it is deep, beautiful and the best snow conditions in years. I would like to take this time to show case a few of the special places surrounding my home with a few special friends. Rick and Karin on are 1700 vertical ski day on Pleasant Mountain. Of course Jumbo my Plotthound skis with us. This is January in the western foothills.

January Full Moon Ski at the Chamberlain Farm, Brownfield Maine. A group of roughly 8-10 die-hard adults around 50 years old have been getting together despite rain, snow or sub zero temperatures to ski and snowshoe on or around the full moon. Of course there is always some type of nip and lots of chocolate. This month we celebrated Charlin's 51st Birthday............with wine, cake and candles..........surprise !This photo perfectly captures the moonlight on our trek into the stream side cabin all set with a picture perfect fire. Doesn't get much better......I am always grateful for this time with friends on a cold winter evening.

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Sunshine Daydream

It is snowing again in western Maine. I think it has snowed almost every day since this month began .I believe we have over 160"s of snow on the ground and it is the longest and snowiest winter that most of us can remember. This has been the winter of finding great books, spinning all the odds and ends from the leftover rovings, skiing and shoveling, shoveling, shoveling.

I look up at my horse's nose when I feed her, watch my sheep hop over the fence to get whatever treats they know I am carrying. My fence lines are non-existent! We have learned to be very creative this winter with keeping our sneaky Merino ram away from our lovely ewes who do not need to get pregnant. We have 15 mostly Merino sheep, corriedales , columbia-finn, and one romney -finn. All of our sheep are raised for fiber only ........we do not eat our sheep. I also keep angora rabbits who have beautiful fiber to mix in with my Merino wool.
We have a sheep shearer that comes to our farm once a year in April to shear our sheep. I use Matilda sheep coats on our best wool sheep. At shearing time the coats come off, go in the washer and get put away for next fall. After each sheep is shorn the wool is placed on a mess-wire wood framed table. The wool is 'skirted' or all the manure and debris is removed. It is then stuffed into a clean plastic bag , placed in the studio out of the sun and waits to be delivered to our local small fiber processing mill. Some of my wool I clean in an old fashioned, still working wringer washing machine. But with 15 or more fleeces it is too much wool scouring to do and so I leave that to the experts and I spend more time dyeing the wool. I sell all my natural dyed wool at several festivals throughout the season.
I love to use native plants that are plentiful and easy to gather. Spring plants consist of apple bark (light red), spring green ferns, St. John's~wort (yellows) and lichens that have been soaking all winter (purples-reds). Most spring colors are light yellows but it is fun to get a new fleece washed and colored before summer. My favorite natural dye book is ~A Dyer's Garden by Rita Buchanan.
Summer may never come until July this year but today while it is snowing out, with no sunshine in the forecast, we will dream about those spring flowers and those beautiful natural colors from the plants in our landscape.

'Knot'-Romney /Finn gift from fiber friend Diane Knowlen

'Knot'-Romney /Finn gift from fiber friend Diane Knowlen
The Winter of 2008

Winter of 2008

Winter of 2008
Where is the fence???