In a little while I’ll load up the 9 bags of wool into the car and Jon and I will drive to Brandon Vermont to the Vermont Fiber Mill.
Our trip will be different this time. We won’t stop at the Wooden Soldier diner for breakfast, we’re not even sure if they’re open. I’ll meet Deb outside the mill on her porch to go over the colors I’ve chosen to dye my wool. I’m using most of the same colors as last Fall’s batch to keep things simple.
After dropping off the wool we’ll visit Liz Willis, our shearer, at her farm. I’m hoping to see Asher and Issachar’s mother who gave birth again this past spring.
I didn’t know when I took this picture this morning that today would be the day our solar power would be turned on.
Someone came from National Grid this morning and put our new electric meter in. We’ll be able to see by the numbers on it when we’re making electricity. Whatever extra electricity we make and don’t use will go to our neighbors. We’ll get a credit that will be applied to our electric bill for the times we aren’t making any electricity.
The animals have adapted well to the panels. They seem only to be interested in the grass growing under it.
Minnie watched me watching her from the stone wall. Even with only three legs, she has the stealth and quiet of a hunter.
But as I got closer I noticed that her left eye was closed.
Because we had to amputate Minnie’s hind leg after she had a fight with an animal, she can’t scratch the left side of her face. So she often rubs it on a rough surface and her eye is usually a little red. But this was different, so we took her to the Vet to have it looked at.
After Cassandra, the Vet Tech, came out to get Minnie, I waited outside under a young oak tree, its branches spreading out wide making an umbrella of shade. From what Dr. Fariello said, it doesn’t sound like this new kind of visit to the Cambridge Valley Vets is going to change anytime soon.
Minnie’s eye was infected so it was good that we brought her in. I have some ointment to put on it three times a day. Luckily Minnie is a sweetie (to humans at least) and it will be easy to do.
Minnie is about 13 years old. When Jon and I were just friends I went with him to get her from a litter of feral kittens that a waitress at a local restaurant had brought into her home. I don’t think of her as being that old. She’s been through a lot but seems to be a contented cat.
As soon as I laid the blanket out on my studio floor and started skirting my wool, Bud came running in from outside.
Maybe it was the smell of the wool that pulled him away from his post in front of the big maple obsessively watching for the chipmunk to appear. Whatever it was, he didn’t stay long, and soon he was at his alternative post at the gate outside my door.
After skirting Kim’s wool I found it was cool enough to move outside. So I hung my speaker from the doorknob and Krishna Das sang while I chanted along and shook and pulled debris from the wool.
At some point, Jon let Zinnia out and the three dogs surrounded me, Bud at his post by the gate, Fate laying next to me on the blanket chewing on the stray piece of wool and Zinnia dozing between the two.
Most of the wool was clean but Asher and Issachar’s wool is thick and sticky with lanolin. It’s the first time I’ve had them shorn and it was impossible to get all the tiny pieces of hay and dirt out of it.
I was seriously thinking of getting coats for them. I’ll have to see if Deb at the Vermont Fiber Mill thinks the wool is clean enough.
Asher’s wool was a lot shorter than Issachars. I think I’m going to make his wool into roving (it’s easier to do with short wool) and maybe I’ll keep half of Issachar’s plain and do a barber pole twist with white for the other half.
We’ll be dropping the wool off on Sunday.
We’ll meet Deb on the porch at the Mill (we won’t be going inside) and we’ll wear masks. Because we want to keep our visit as short as possible I’ll use some of the same colors as I did in the fall to dye the white and gray wool.
I haven’t made those final decisions yet, but will have it all figured out by Sunday.
After going to the Mill we’re going to visit our shearer Liz Willis who lives close by. For the past couple of years we’ve talked about visiting her farm and are finally doing it.
Liz has over 40 sheep and lambs and I’m looking forward to seeing them and maybe meeting Asher and Issachar’s mom too.
It was a hot day and I moved slowly as I dragged the branches from the lilacs into the barnyard for the donkeys and sheep to eat.
The lilac bush in front of my studio was beginning to block three of my four windows. I pruned it last year and it came back so thick, I figured if I pruned it, next year it will come back even better with leaves on the bottom as well as the top.
I was only going to do a little gardening and was planning on skirting my wool to bring to the Vermont Fiber Mill next Sunday. But then I started pruning the lilac bushes and lost track of time.
So I’ll get to the wool during the week.
It looked pretty clean when Liz sheared the sheep, so it should be easy to skirt. Skirting means to remove the dirty wool (wool with feces on it) and the things that often gets stuck in the wool, like hay, leaves and little branches.
One year I had a lot of Burdock growing the pastures. The seeds are like little balls of velcro and they got stuck in all the fleeces. It was almost impossible to get out. That fall I cut all the burdock down and they never grew back.
Ever since then, I pay more attention to what’s growing the pastures.
I’m always conscious of the sound of cars going by when I take my videos. I always wish it wasn’t there.
But when I watched this video after taking it, I was surprised at everything else I could hear. The sound of the sheep and donkeys pulling up the grass, birdsong, and Fate’s breathing as she ran behind me.
The reality is we live on a main road.
An old one that originally went from Manhattan to the Canadian border. Now Route 22 begins in the Bronx (Old Post Road) and ends just shy of the border. Part of Route 22 was originally Native American trails as so many of our roads were.
Once a dirt road it is now a two-lane rural road that is scenic to drive on. So we get lots of campers and motorcycles in the summer along with local traffic.
I like to think of Route 22 when it was a dirt road and how people would have welcomed seeing other people on horseback or in horsedrawn carriages and wagons.
Route 22 still has some advantages that we appreciate even if the traffic isn’t one of them.
Because it’s a county road it’s well plowed in the winter and early in the day. And since our house is close to the road (as many old houses are) it’s easy and inexpensive to plow. We get cable and good internet service something that is important to our work and not always accessible in the country. Also when our electricity goes out in a storm it gets worked on more quickly than if we lived on a back road.
I’m always trying to get around the noise of the cars going by, but I think I need to learn to accept the reality of it more.
Ours is not the secluded pristine farm and house. It’s our home, where we live and work, in all its imperfect perfection.