Friday, February 27, 2015

Garden, Day 1

I just got some of the seeds to start our garden today!  Adam is doing some bigger raised beds in the yard for vegetables so all the planters on the deck belong to my peppers.  Which is why most of those labels are for things that ought to be lethal.  I don't even like hot peppers, but I love making salsa and giving away pickled peppers.  So this year we're going with the hottest of the hots: Ghosts, Scorpions and Carolina Reapers.  There are also a lot of herbs used in Roman cooking because we're in an SCA household with friends and I want to recreate some Roman sausage recipes for Pennsic this year.  And chickpeas and purple tomatoes and black corn, which supposedly will make blue cornmeal.

The next step is to wrap each type of pepper's seeds in a damp paper towel and then let them germinate in a ziploc bag at about 85 degrees for at least the next ten days.  Then we'll be ready to start planting in the seedling starter.  The other plants, including a ton of (non purple) tomato seeds, will be planted at the same time.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

The farm side of the mill

It's just about the second anniversary of the fiber mill's open house.  It feels like yesterday.  In these two years, Adam went from part time at home to finally coming home full time last August.  It makes the mill's production schedule much easier, but it also affords us a bit more time to focus on the farm, which was the reason we did all this in the first place.

It's hard to think of sunshine and gardens when it was -28 the other day.  No lie.  -28 with the windchill.  Our furnace couldn't keep up so the house was really chilly.  Even the newfoundland didn't want to lay on the tile, the floor was so cold.  But we're trying to start planning all the things we want to do on the farm now.  Unfortunately, with Adam not being home full time until mid-August, we missed all of last spring and summer.  This year, we're starting early.  So I'm hoping to finally start updating the blog with some interesting farm-y stuff (and cute pictures of yaks, because there's some new ones out there!)  And some knitting and mill stuff too, as the new yarns for the summer festivals start coming out.

So the first farm project update is...bees!  We ordered our package of bees yesterday.  They'll be picked up in Wilkes-Barre in mid-April.  Apparently, this is a thing that people do- drive in a car with a box of bees.  It seems a little terrifying, but I haven't heard of a lot of box-of-bees induced car wrecks on the news, so I'm assuming it goes better than it sounds.  For Christmas I got Adam a complete beginners kit that had everything he needs to get started, except the bees.  Probably for the best; I'm not sure how I'd wrap the bees.  We've been home brewing mead for a long time, and beekeeping seemed like a natural next step.  This is a project he's been talking about for years, so we're really excited to finally get started on this adventure.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Second Generation

This morning the youngest grunties were down by the driveway, so I was able to get some pictures.  While the herd hangs out together at night, they do separate by generations quite a bit during the day.  Maybe the old folks don't want to hang out with the young hooligans.

Nagu (left side), Kaba (top right) and Dawa (bottom right)



Little Boy 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Under the wire

It's Rhinebeck Eve!  

Ok, for everyone else in the world, it's a regular Friday but for fiber people, it's a pretty awesome holiday.  Better than Christmas and Halloween and Easter and all the other things where you might get presents and/or chocolate all rolled into one.  Mostly because Rhinebeck involves yarn and fiber and apple cider doughnuts and sheep and border collies and goats and music and garlicky artichokes and people with amazing sweaters that don't look at you like you're a nutter when you ask what pattern/yarn they used.  People who understand that all the best wooly clothes can't be bought in a store.  

We got our job finished, just under the wire (we're happy with it and they seemed to be too, which is always a wonderful thing) so we're excited to hit up the fleece sales.  We're even bringing a second pair of hands to haul wool this year, someone who understands when you text her screaming RHINEBECK!! and is more than willing to dig through bags of fleece to find the perfect stuff to become the perfect sock yarn.  She's the perfect shop assistant.

And my sweater is down to half a sleeve.  So that too might come in just under the wire.  Only three more decreases and a cuff left to go.  

So Happy Rhinebeck Eve, everybody.  Hopefully we'll get to see some of you at the festival tomorrow.  

Just... you know... don't stand between us and the fleece sales.  

Monday, October 7, 2013

Start Finishing

So we're having one of those weeks in the mill.  One of those weeks where you start to question fate, and why she seems to have it out for you even though you don't remember doing anything to her, and when this current streak will end.

We are this close to finishing a job.  A big one.  A job we desperately need to finish to get paid so that we can buy wool at Rhinebeck (our land only holds so many sheep and yak; we have to supplement) so that we can stock up the shop and hopefully have an awesome Christmas open house.

This job was huge, and we're down to the very last bit, which is the rug yarn.  The easiest bit.  It just goes through the picker and then the carder and wraps around a cotton cord and voila!  Rug yarn.

There's 98 pounds of fiber total that needs to be made into rug yarn.  Adam got the white fiber washed before realizing that he couldn't wash anything else because our septic tank was full.  So we called the guys to come do that.  They couldn't make it out until after the weekend, so we had to wait on washing.  Then we had a carder snafu that took an hour and a half to fix.  Then he discovered that we're going to run out of cord before we finish the job.  And the place we have to order from isn't open on Saturdays or Mondays so we have to wait until tomorrow.  And now the washer is giving him fits.

It's one of those weeks.  We just want to finish what we started.

I'm having a week like that with knitting too.  I went stash diving a week or so ago (to find yarn to cast on yet another project, if I were to be honest) and came across a sweater I started in 2011.  That was a bit cringe worthy.  It's a beautiful sweater, in beautiful yarn and it's an easy pattern, so I'm not sure what the trouble was- other than miles of stockinette in fingering weight yarn.  I've been chugging away at this sweater in hopes it'll be my Rhinebeck sweater and made some great progress.  Got the body finished.  Got to picking up the sleeves.  Got to the point of looking for my size 6 16" circulars and...found one tip.  The other one has disappeared into the ether.  And when I asked Adam to bring home a circular for me, I got a size 10 24".  With all respect to him though, even husbands of knitters who own fiber mills can't be expected to know that there's a difference between size 6 and 6.00mm.  I don't even get why we have two measurements.

So now it's languishing on the windowsill waiting for sleeves and I'm waiting for the local yarn store to open tomorrow and wondering if I can get away with casting on some sparkly socks to beat some rainy day blahs.
Or, you know, finish something.

In other news, we will be at Rhinebeck on Saturday.  As shoppers, not as vendors.  However- we do have our application in for Maryland 2104, so keep your fingers crossed for us.  Also, got fleece?  Want us to process it? Got an overflowing stash closet full of roving or fiber that you need made into yarn?  Send an email to and I'll get you our cell numbers so we can do a meet and pick up to save you some shipping costs.

Friday, August 9, 2013


So the farm is still standing.  Really.  I promise.  Come out and see us even, we'll prove it.

But here's what happened.  The mill took off.  A lot.  We had some really great tours come through and clean us out a bit.  We got an article in the local newspaper and the local farmers took notice.  And between trying to process orders and keep things on the shelves and keep the sheep from escaping their fences and keep the garden alive and the animals fed and us fed and the lawn mowed and the house from collapsing into madness and dust bunnies and unwashed socks... we sort of lost track of the last three or four months.  Has anyone seen June?  I'm sure it was here just a minute ago.

However, the one thing that the last few months really showed us is that Adam needed to be home.  A successful mini mill can be run with two people.  However, it helps if those two people are both able-bodied and, you know, actually in the mill at the same time. For the last few months it's pretty much been me, by myself, during the day.  And then Adam would get home from his full time job after a 45 minute commute, take care of the animals, shovel some food into himself and head out to the mill to try to get some more work done.  We sort of nodded at each other in passing.  Which is not a great way to live and not a great way to have a farm.  Clearly, we needed to make a change.

This week Adam quit his full time job to be home.  He actually picked up something local part time in the mornings, but as he's home by 10:30, it really feels like he's home all day.  We're so excited about being able to be together more, and especially about the fact that the mill is busy enough to need him to be home more. So thank you to everyone who helped us make that happen!

But I know that what you're really here for is cute pictures of fluffy animals.  And maybe some fluffy fiber? Let's get to the good stuff!

Our yak munchkins aren't so little anymore!  Some of the girls are getting as big as their moms.  And see that white and black puffball in the back?

That would be Loony.  At the end of May, I was on my way out to the mill and noticed a little white lump in the field next to Gaia.  (In other news, Adam has said that I am no longer allowed to call his cell phone and scream "Oh my god" in his ear as soon as he answers.  Even if it is because of a royal yak baby.)  Adam actually gave her a very long and beautiful Mongolian name, but it ends in -lune so I just call her Loony.  


Nimbus and Nova


Shop shelves

Cormo and Tussah Silk Yarn

Sparkle Batts!  These were a riot to make.  By the way, the one on the right is self striping!

After three years of waiting, our peach trees finally have fruit!  Adam does a happy dance whenever he passes them.  We can't wait to make pie!

So that was our quick catch up.  Hopefully with Adam home we'll actually have a bit more free time and it won't be months and months between postings.  And we're getting ready for a lot of exciting things- we're going to be putting in our applications for the fiber festivals for next year, so keep your fingers crossed that we get accepted.  We're also planning a Christmas open house and new sock yarns and pearlized knitting needles...

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


Yesterday afternoon Octavia had a little calf.  Mom and baby are doing really well, although Octavia is a bit of a helicopter parent. Adam is about 99% sure it's a girl, although he hasn't been able to get close enough to confirm as the rest of the herd is being really protective.  

Meet Kaba