Tag Archives: retreat

Life on and off the farm

The past 19 days have been a whirlwind of here and there, mostly there.  First we went away for the final interment of my Dad’s cremains and dedication of a memorial plaque at one of his favorite places in the world.  I started that trip by catching a bad cold from our live in grand daughter.  We were away 4 nights, 5 days.  We returned home for me to launder clothes, harvest and freeze some tomatoes, and pack to leave again in 4 days.

That trip took me north in the state to help out at eldest son’s house with the start of school week and to allow son and daughter in law to work.  I stayed there for a week, supervising the eleven year old grandson, getting him on the bus in the morning, off in the afternoon, and getting dinner for them.  Since there was a weekend incorporated in that week, some fun activities were included.  Grandson and I went to a local cavern and took their tour, we took a hike, I got a long walk in one morning, some spinning done, read a book, knitted a hat, and did a bit of laundry.

I left there at 5:30 a.m. Thursday morning, arrived home at 9:45 a.m., washed a load of laundry, did a bit of straightening, unpacked and repacked, this time to attend a fiber arts conference.  I was only home for less than 3 hours then loaded into a friend’s car and we rode for 4 more hours to Roan Mountain State Park in Tennessee and checked into a great fully equipped cabin.


This was a great weekend with a great group of folks, spinning, knitting, crocheting, teaching a class, taking a class, and vending as my Cabin Crafted Shop.  We enjoyed each other’s company, shared breakfast and lunch plus one dinner in our cabin.  One dinner in a local BBQ restaurant, and a group Pot Luck supper.  I finished spinning a few ounces of Romney fiber that I dyed, finished knitting another hat for my shop, generally was too tired at night to read, but learned a new fiber skill, met dozens of wonderful folks and had a great time.

I am finally home, just in time for the school year routine to begin tomorrow, getting grandson off to  his first day of school, granddaughter to Open House for her second year of preschool.

The farm is in dire shape.  The fields need to be mowed, the grass around the house is so tall that it may have to be mowed twice over two days to get it to lawn height without causing huge clumps to sit around, dry and kill and remaining grass.  The flower beds are full of weeds, the garden looks like a jungle and daughter says there are many tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers that need to be harvested and processed.  The chickens were not cooperative to Jim, daughter, and son in law, and as a result, we lost a hen and 3 of my spring pullets that wouldn’t coop up at night.  The one I found upon my return looked like perhaps it got attacked during the night by a raccoon or owl due to the remains.  They thought it was a hawk, but the bird was not carried off.  At any rate, I need to try to improve the security of their runs and try to put net over the top if the predator was a bird.  My layer flock is down two hens this summer, and three of the four pullets that I hoped to increase the flock are gone.

I have a month, minus 4 days to get things taken care of, to make more soap and a few salves before I leave for another fiber retreat, where I also will vend.  And I need to get my application in for the Holiday Markets.

Some summers allow me to stay on top of things, this one has not.  I only hope that I can still salvage enough tomatoes for some salsas and sauces.

Now, I am exhausted and must get up in 7 hours, so it is time for sleep.

Olio – February 20, 2016

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

On this day 29 years ago, my youngest was born.  He was 11 days late, I thought he would never enter this world, and when he did decide to come, he was presented sunnyside up, with a huge head, and weighing in at a whopping 11+ pounds.  We didn’t have to have a C section, but almost.  We are extremely proud of him as he became an EMT at 18 and has volunteered with it ever since.  He moved on to earn his Paramedic certification with Advanced Life Support and has worked in that field most of his adult life.  He recently has started his own transport company and is awaiting the final inspections to start moving with his two ambulances at the ready.  Happy birthday, son.

The snow from last week finally is gone except for a few sheltered places in the woods and on the north side of the house and barn.  There is a coastal storm that is threatening us next week, hopefully not to interfere with my friend’s and my drive to the spinning retreat on Thursday.  The forcasters can’t decide if it is going to be snow, ice, or rain, we are hoping it is only rain or if the snow or ice is on the earlier end, coming on Tuesday.

I am packed for the retreat and ready to go as compactly as I can be.  Since, I am only taking soaps, lotion bars and salves, I have packed it all into one large wicker lidded basket, instead of the usual 5 or 6 wooden crates when I also have yarn and knit wear. This retreat is for fiber folks, they make their own yarn and knit wear.


The only items that didn’t fit were my cash box and my business cards.


They will fit into the red and blue plaid bag on the floor.  The group has a nightly happy hour, and the bag will also carry the snacks and snack dishes for the items I will be contributing.  We do a gift raffle and as a vendor, I must supply one gift of $20 value or more and will as a participant, provide a second.  They will go into that bag as well.  That leaves only my clothes, spinning wheel and fiber to put together.  That won’t be done until Wednesday night, unless we are going to get snow and ice, requiring my car to be put at the top of the driveway or even up at the paved road, in which case I will pack it all before moving the car.

Today was a beautiful spring like day.  The melting snow finally allowed the Buffys to venture over into the garden area to scratch and search for goodies.  With the longer days, I am generally getting 3 to 5 eggs a day.  Interestingly, the two Americauna have produced more than half of the eggs produced in the past three days.  This puts the 6 Buffys to shame.


One of the Americauna’s eggs are blue, the other more olive.  The Buffys eggs vary from pink to darker brown and from tiny like the top right to giant like the bottom right.  It is nice to have fresh eggs for breakfast and for baking with the bonus of having enough to share with some of my friends.  The girls will be cared for in my absence by Mountaingdad and daughter.

The house is quiet tonight.  Daughter and family went out to dinner and to a movie for the kids.  It is strange to cook just for two after 13 months of having a house full.  As I was food shopping today, I found a grass finished New York strip steak, so Mountaingdad got a treat tonight.  Risotto and sugar snap peas rounded it out and provided my dinner along with a glass of the Merlot that my brother made last summer.

At the Christmas party for my spinning group, I scored 12 ounces of California red wool. I started spinning it recently and have fallen in love with the fiber.  It is a natural white color and spins like a dream.  I have one bobbin full and it looks like it is going to fill 4 bobbins once done.  Once I see how many yards it is once spun, I will decide what it will become.  I definitely won’t sell this yarn.


Our local Barnes and Noble sells Harney and Son teas.  A year or so ago, I went on their website to buy one of my favorites, Autumn Cranberry as a bulk loose tea and received a travel sample of Valentine Blend, a chocolate with rose bud black tea.  I savored that delicious, fragrant tea, hoping that it would be carried by Barnes and Noble around Valentine’s day.  They did not get it in, so again I visited the website and today, my 4 ounce tin and one pound bag arrived, just in time to tuck some into my luggage to go with me to the retreat.


We are hoping that this week’s weather does not produce more school outage.  Grandson has only been in school a few days in the past two weeks due to snow, ice or extreme cold.

Tomorrow, I hope to enjoy the warm day to finally weed the asparagus bed before the new shoots begin to emerge.

Retreat. Refresh, Renew

On Thursday morning, after another night of snow and little sleep fretting about whether I would be able to leave, I put my little CRV in low and crept up the drive and road in about 6 inches of new snow, not knowing what the paved road down the mountain would reveal.  I left more than an hour before I was to pick up my friend who was riding with me, just in case I had trouble.

The paved road was covered in snow with only tracks from a couple of vehicles but it was drive-able and when I safely reached the main road into town, they had pretreated it the day before and it was wet but not covered.  Since I had time, I stopped at a local coffee shop and bought a bagel sandwich and a cup of coffee to go and made my way to her house.  Though my friend’s address is a town address and she lives on a street with suburban type lots lining both sides, the lots are large and the street surrounded by farm fields, so the road to her was similar to ours snow covered, but flatter.  Friend was retrieved, suitcases, her product to vend and spinning wheels loaded and off we went to the retreat that is in a lodge in a state park near the New River Gorge in West Virginia.  We had stopped and lunched at Tamarack, a cafe run by the Greenbrier Hotel in a large ring shaped building around snow covered gardens with hand made crafts and food items displayed throughout.  A great place to eat and browse for gifts and crafts.  As I had walked out and left my tea mug on the counter at home, I indulged in the purchase of a pottery mug to take with me.

imageOur room on the 4th floor looked down on the frozen snow coated section of the New River.  The retreat is held in the Lodge conference room and lobby.  It is a gathering of fiber artists, spinners, knitters, weavers, and crocheters.  Many are vendors as well as participants with displays of fibers to buy, jams and jellies, jewelry, and hand made woven or knitted articles for sale.

Spinners, weavers and knitters, socializing and making yarn.
Roving from an abandoned flock of sheep, rescued and 20% of the price of the sale goes back to the rescuer to help her feed and have them sheered. This one in daughter preferred colors, so purchased to spin into yarn for her to knit.
Felted wool dryer balls from one vendor at a good price, so added to our collection.

The Lodge provides us with a complimentary breakfast, specials at a good price for lunch and dinner and even made Red Velvet cupcakes and coffee as a mid day snack at a low price.

We visit, watch each other spin for new techniques, shop at the vendors, chat, eat and have a nightly cocktail party catered by delicious food offerings from each retreat participant.  As many folks leave on Saturday, the door prizes, donated by the vendors and some participants and a gift exchange drawing occur around check out time. I won two bags of coordinated roving to spin and received two skeins of beautiful sock weight yarn to knit.  Wonderful prizes and gifts.  Some folks come for a day, others for a couple and some for the three days.

I have made new friends at the two retreats I have attended, come home with new recipes, fiber to spin that came from the farms of some of the participants or from the door prize drawing.  My big purchase at this retreat was a pound and a half of Coopsworth over dyed roving, enough for me to spin into yarn to make myself a sweater, the first time I will have enough to make a significant project spun and knit by me.  I will share photos of it when I have daylight and begin to spin it.  It took me both days there to fill a bobbin with 4 ounces of fine Dorset Lamb that I bought last retreat and now home, I will spin the other half to ply.  It is natural creamy white and may become my first dyeing project.

I miss my family when away, but the retreat refreshes and rejuvenates me so I come back relaxed and renewed to them.  As a treat, I also returned to a clean refrigerator and a vacuumed and dusted house and clean kitchen, thanks to my daughter.  Glad I bought her the gift.

My friend and I reserved our room for the fall retreat before we left today.