Barns of the mid-west at 55 mph…


“I have found out that there ain’t any surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.” – Mark Twain

I know good team work when I see it.

In the future, I may need to make it a point to embark, with friends on a trip to test our compatibility. Because if you can make it on the road dealing with logistic snafus, idiosyncratic nuances, digestive challenges, utilizing your Travel IQ, overcoming car breath (ya, know, the I have been in this car for 24 hours with no tooth-brush breath) and physical dissimulation, well, you can deal with the more mundane daily issues of life. And I firmly believe that. But, no, there was no test drive, so, let’s just do this!

We (8) were heading to Iowa from NH, Connecticut and the Capital Region of New York. The logistics of that alone may be staggering to some, hold on though, we had llamas in tow, they all had to get to Dakota Ridge Farm, then they had to fit in one trailer. One trailer, at one farm, so that we could leave at one time! They arrived in vans, well 2 vans, and a trailer; The Trailer. The one and only trailer. Do you see a problem yet?, Nope, me neither.

Load’em up

We’ve all arrived at DRF, everyone with their llamas, showing paraphernalia, clothing, water bowls, llamas, hay, coolers, blow-dryers, tents, health certifications (the llamas, not ours), muck boots, llamas, show boots…pillows, don’t forget the pillows. Yes, all of this has to go in one trailer. No worries, I know a good team when I see one. Paul and Todd have the spatial relations to configure a viable traveling equipment formation – did you get all that? Of course, we were to leave by 8:00, it is now 10:00, but what are a few hours spent in the company of friends.

And Head ‘em out

This travel adventure takes extraordinary determination, chutzpah, daring, grit, and even some intestinal fortitude… Are you up for it? Well come along as we hit the road.

DSC_4463

DSC_4464

DSC_4086

DSC_4088

DSC_4090

DSC_4093

DSC_4100

DSC_4102

What a wonderful trip, last June, with wonderful friends. We hope to do it again this year!

Jenn with her favorite girl(Llama) at the Iowa fair-grounds. (a very, very pregnant girl)
DSC_4156

Be well,
Jess

Whilst the winds blow…


Planning a vegetable garden,a flower garden, perhaps an herb garden? If you have fiber animals, or are a fiber fanatic like me; your thoughts may also lead you to planning a garden for color…fiber color. There is no need to have an entire garden devoted to natural dyes…just add some plants that will grow in your area (zone); take rhubarb for instance, anyone can grow rhubarb- heck you may already have some in your yard. A much unappreciated plant, (unless you make rhubarb jelly, crumble or pie) It thrives in almost any garden. The tuberous, fibrous tissue at the base of the leaf-stalks feels sticky and soapy when skinned and sliced, but when boiled for an hour so, and strained, yields a lovely color – a serious pastel-yellow. Approximately 90% of all plants yield some shade of yellow…

Dye plants may interest the gardener who is also a spinner or fiber artist. Nature has its own palette of colors with dozens of dye possibilities, which even include some nuts, fruits, vegetables and other common foods and fungus (yup, fungus).Natural dyes are everywhere, colors can even come from tree leaves ; berries ; herbs, nuts and shells,and barks.

Growing the dye plants is easy, and can be fun project. But getting the most vivid colors from plant pigments and making more permanent dyes involves mordanting, or treating the fiber before you dye it with a metallic compound, such as alum.
Mordanting is a process..so more on that in another post. I will also post on needed equipment.

Different parts of the plants yield different colors…

Plants yield these colors most commonly, yellows and tans, blues, and reds; believe it or not, green is the most difficult color to achieve – seems odd doesn’t it.
Some plants you might consider:
Woad for true blues(a very, very invasive weed-take good care with this one)
Madder for intense orange, scarlet and plum
Saint John’s wort for gold, maroon and green
Sunflowers for deep olive greens
Hollyhocks for yellow, mahogany and reddish black
Purple loose strife for gold, brown and black (another invasive plant)
Weld for strong clear yellow
Coreopsis for deep yellows, oranges, browns and maroon
Lady’s bedstraw for orange, gold and pinky red

Well, I have to get back to ordering seeds and chicks…I will try not to be too over-zealous in my pursuit of both…

Speaking of pursuits, pictures from our December barn rescue(partial rescue):
winter weeds

barn old

winter barn

winter closed

winter doors

barn 029.1

winter saving

Be Well,
Jess

September, slightly wordy Wednesday.


“Departing summer hath assumed
An aspect tenderly illumed,
The gentlest look of spring;
That calls from yonder leafy shade
Unfaded, yet prepared to fade,
A timely carolling.”
– William Wordsworth, September


“The breezes taste
Of apple peel.
The air is full
Of smells to feel-


Ripe fruit, old footballs,
Burning brush,
New books, erasers,
Chalk, and such.


The bee, his hive,
Well-honeyed hum,
And Mother cuts
Chrysanthemums.


Like plates washed clean
With suds, the days
Are polished with
A morning haze. ”
– John Updike, September


“By all these lovely tokens
September days are here,
With summer’s best of weather
And autumn’s best of cheer.”
– Helen Hunt Jackson, September, 1830-1885


“Happily we bask in this warm September sun,
Which illuminates all creatures…”
– Henry David Thoreau

Be well,
Jess

Once Upon a Time, there was a tiny little cottage~that wanted to be a Farm


Dreaming up the happy ending… after all, some of its bones were made of trees (actual tree trunks).
Originally built in 1840, with balloon construction technique; a style of wood-house building that uses long, vertical studs for the exterior walls. These long “studs” extend uninterrupted, from the sill on top of the foundation, all the way up to the roof. It first came into use, well before the mid-nineteenth century, there certainly are many, many balloon-framed structures, between 75 and 175 years old, that haven’t floated away.( not very funny, huh?) Most balloon framed buildings were rather plain and simple. The original structure of our little cottage was a mere 800 square, only feet 18 feet wide. The family that lived here for the previous 50 years before us, raised 6 children here. The only addition they made was a small attached kitchen structure. We found out as we were re-modeling; the timbers for that portion of the house were tree trunks. We figure it must have been an old wood shed attached to the house for convenience in the winter months.

Although the tiny quarters posed many space and storage challenges, it has a very charming and warm feel to it. It was home. The pastures were perfect for llamas; though many outbuildings needed to be constructed and fences built. We installed a very inexpensive fence, as it had to go up rather quickly and with little money as we had so much reno work inside the house. Permanent and safer fencing is our next big project, but that is another story all together[ and a previous post]. We lived out behind the house in our 28′ travel trailer for the first spring and summer we were here; mind you there were still 5 of us living here, with a dog and a cat to boot. I remember, as summer of that year was coming to a close; my youngest daughter had a fair (and llama show) to attend. The usual course of events would have been to pack the camper with needed items, trailer the animals and head to the fair for the week….not this particular time, you see we were still “technically living in it”, so as it was, we packed up our home and went to the fair. How’s that for classy living? Long about the end of October we were finally installing the last wall of the addition, (Howie and I did the entire reno ourselves, with found items, recycled and reused materials). After relocating a stairway, bathroom , laundry room and building 2 new bedrooms ~the sky spitting snow, finally we could move into the house! It has been a long road, we still have projects to finish…
the cabinets(handmade by a local cabinet maker long,long ago) that I refinished, going on 6 six years ago are in need of touch ups, the living room was painted again this past month, old barn flooring was used for the stairs, and barn boards now cozy up a wall(all salvaged from a 200 year old barn, last summer…again a different post)…The “scenery” I change often…curtains, pillows, and re-arranged furnishings character-etched, and well loved, relaxed and worry free, we live here…and so do our-much too large -dogs. And that is just how I like it.

The outbuildings are a coming along…

So hey come let’s look around…a walk through the seasons, dismantled barns, [in no particular order] at Misty Maples: 52 weeks, 52 pictures…oops

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Be well. Enjoy your day. We are having extraordinary weather here in upstate NY near 60!
Yipee.
Jess

Everything Old Is New Again.


When my husband and I first set out to reclaim old barns I never thought it would become a staircase and focal wall.

But, then again, does anything follow the exact route intended? Think back,did you intend to be where you are? Are you doing what you truly wish to be doing, or what you feel you must do now…to care for family, and the responsibilities associated? Do you ever question your calling? Some folks are lucky, I suppose; to be so sure, so early in their lives…but, it took a long time become me. I thought that studying to become a nurse was the right thing to do with my life, despite the fact that I’m too thin-skinned for the work. Later, I attained a degree in legal studies..again not the best fit. (desks and I don’t get along)
I found a position with some creative and independent latitude; and it focused on a worthwhile cause..Domestic Violence. I believed this work would really matter; if I could just reach, or find justice for one child, one woman.
For 4 years, I forged ahead…a grass roots type initiative. I heard many say, it can’t be done, it doesn’t work…those with whom this project clashed throwing obstacles in my way…this only firmed my resolve. In the end, I was proud of what the was created, from nearly nothing. I learned early on, water flowed in the direction of least resistance; and connected with the “right” people…(with a fairly progressive,forward thinking Judge forging this new road), this new way of adjudicating cases was showing promise; recidivism was lower. The State was looking to use this as a model for the Judicial System. Yet, I was still fighting the same battles, to make it work, bucking the status-quo…change was not easy for this unit (court). I grew weary and had little fight left in me…there were too many wrongs to make right. It was good work, I was glad to have helped and perhaps eased the pain and burden of some…it was time for me to go. To refill my glass, I had lost myself along the way. I had given so much of myself, for something I believed in (and still do).

Knowing specifically what you want is much different than knowing what you don’t want; I know, now, what I don’t want. Knowing specifically what I want is much different than knowing what I don’t want. Reality is complicated, isn’t it? But, for me, I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. I am not out to become wealthy, if that was my only goal, that would have been an easier path, I think. I definitely wouldn’t have made me happy.
But, then again, maybe life isn’t a race, and maybe the most interesting people follow a path all their own..and perhaps, now..I am right where I need to be.

As we were clearing the back pasture, for the new/old fence..a maple tree fell into their pasture..sweet nibbles in January, a treat.

Barn boards, stairs,and critters to be fenced..

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

A poem of sorts…from “Free to Be Me and You”… Marlo Thomas

When we grow up, will I be pretty?
Will you be big and strong?
Will I wear dresses that show off my knees?
Will you wear trousers twice as long?
Well, I don’t care if I’m pretty at all.
And I don’t care if you never get tall.
I like what I look like, and you’re nice small.
We don’t have to change at all.

Hey!
When we grow up, will I be a lady?
Will you be an engineer?
Will I have to wear things like perfume and gloves?
I can still pull the whistle while you steer.
Well, I don’t care if I’m pretty at all.
And I don’t care if you never get tall.
I like what I look like, and you’re nice small.
We don’t have to change at all.

When I grow up, I’m gonna be happy and do what I like to do,
Like making noise and making faces and making friends like you.
And when we grow up, do you think we’ll see
That I’m still like you and you’re still like me?
I might be pretty; you might grow tall.
But we don’t have to change at all.

I don’t want to change, see, ’cause I still want to be your friend, forever and ever and ever and ever and ever.

Be well,
Jess

Happy Halloween


Funny holiday…Halloween. I decided to research a bit; how and why did Halloween become a holiday?? To keep it short and sweet…’cuz Pope Gregory III said so..well, not exactly.

Straddling the line between fall and winter, plenty and paucity, life and death, Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition. Originating with an ancient Celtic festival, Samhain. People would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts.(uggh) In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints and martyrs. All Saints’ Day, which incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween. This day marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold winter, a time of year that was often associated with human death. Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31, when it was believed that the ghosts of the dead returned to earth. In addition to causing trouble and damaging crops, Celts thought that the presence of the otherworldly spirits made it easier for the Druids, or Celtic priests, to make predictions about the future. For a people entirely dependent on the volatile natural world, these prophecies were an important source of comfort and direction during the long, dark winter…Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn sacrifices to the Celtic deities. During the celebration, the Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes. When the celebration was over, they re-lit their hearth fires, which they had extinguished earlier that evening, from the sacred bonfire to help protect them during the coming winter.
In a number of countries around the world, as the days grow shorter and the nights get colder, people continue to usher in the winter season with gatherings, costumes and sweet treats.
american Halloween traditions began slowly; celebration of Halloween was extremely limited in colonial New England because of the rigid Protestant belief systems. As the beliefs and customs meshed, a distinctly American version of Halloween began to emerge; public events were held to celebrate the harvest, neighbors would share creepy stories of the dead (ghost stories), tell each other’s fortunes, dance and sing, and make mischief of all kinds. As time went by, annual autumn festivities became common, but Halloween was not yet celebrated everywhere in the country…As America was flooded with new immigrants. These new immigrants, especially the millions of Irish fleeing Ireland’s potato famine of 1846, helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween nationally. Taking from Irish and English traditions, Americans began to dress up in costumes and go house to house asking for food or money, a practice that eventually became today’s “trick-or-treat” tradition. Halloween thus became a holiday more about community and neighbors partying than about ghosts, pranks and witchcraft. Parties focused on games, food, and festive costumes. Parents were encouraged by newspapers and community leaders to take anything “frightening” or “grotesque” out of Halloween celebrations. Because of these efforts, Halloween lost most of its superstitious and religious overtones by the beginning of the twentieth century. Between 1920 and 1950, the centuries-old practice of trick-or-treating was also revived; families gave out treats to help thwart the “trick” part of the Halloween celebration… and new American tradition was born, fulfilling every child’s dream of having so much candy, you have absolutely no idea how you will ever eat it all; then when you do, you have absolutely no idea how you will ever sit still again.

Shadows of a thousand years rise again unseen,
Voices whisper in the trees, “Tonight is Halloween!”
~ Dexter Kozen


On Hallowe’en the thing you must do
Is pretend that nothing can frighten you
And if somethin’ scares you and you want to run
Just let on like it’s Hallowe’en fun


It’s Halloween! It’s Halloween!
The moon is full and bright
And we shall see what can’t be seen
On any other night.
Skeletons and ghosts and ghouls,
Grinning goblins fighting duels
Werewolves rising from their tombs,
Witches on their magic brooms
In masks and gown we haunt the street
And knock on doors for trick or treat
Tonight we are the king and queen,
For oh tonight it’s Halloween!
~ Jack Prelutsky


Double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble.Eye of newt, and toe of frog, Wool of bat, and tongue of dog, Adder’s fork, and blind-worm’s sting, Lizard’s leg, and owlet’s wing, For a charm of powerful trouble, Like a hell-broth
boil and bubble
Shakespeare “Macbeth”

From ghoulish and ghosties and long leggety beasties and things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!
Scottish saying

The Legend of Sleep Hollow
What fearful shapes and shadows beset his path, amidst the dim and ghastly glare of a snowy
night! With what wistful look did he eye every trembling ray of light streaming across the
waste fields from some distant window! How often was he appalled by some shrub covered with
snow, which, like a sheeted specter, beset his very path! How often did he shrink with
curdling awe at the sound of his own steps on the frosty crust beneath his feet; and dread
to look over his shoulder, lest he should behold some uncouth being tramping close behind
him! and how often was he thrown into complete dismay by some rushing blast, howling among
the trees, in the idea that it was the Galloping Hessian on one of his nightly scouring!

Be wary then; best safety lies in fear,
Jess