Thursday, September 6, 2018

And Then There Were Two

If you read last month's blog then you were introduced to Asteria, Mango's little girl who was born while we were working at the Farmer's Market. Surprise! She has grown so much in the past month and has been very entertaining for us as we've been watching her discover and develop her talents for running and pronking, which is an action closely resembling the bouncing gait of the cartoon creature, Pepe LePew, a skunk! Rich likes to go out into the pasture after evening feeding and sit in an old rickety chair watching her play. She has become very friendly with him, sniffing his hands and legs up close while she makes her little curious humming sound.

During this past month while we've been observing the antics of Asteria we have also been on baby watch with our lovely brown Leezza. She had been bred to Arte, the herdsire of our neighbors, the Wurm family, at Windfall Farm. Since Artie was a newbie at this breeding thing we weren't sure if it actually "took" the first time so we had to rebreed Leezza to him a few weeks later. So we had two separate due dates a couple of weeks apart. Leezza seemed to be getting bigger and more miserable each week since Mango delivered Asteria. On several different days I was sure that it was going to be "The Day" only to be disappointed. Then on August 28th when I went into the barn shortly after 7 a.m. I didn't see Leezza waiting with the others for her morning grain supplement. A quick peek into the barnyard revealed Leezza laying down humming and clicking. At first I didn't see the new cria hidden behind her heaving body. Then I stepped out to see a perfect little baby struggling to sit up with the membrane still clinging to her.

This tiny little thing was struggling to her feet within a few minutes of my towel drying her and very shortly was zeroing in on her breakfast. None of the usual fumbling around under mommy looking for the tap. She was ravenous and knew exactly what she was after and where to find it. A patient Leezza stood there until the little one was through even though I suspect she was hungry for her own breakfast that was waiting in the barn.

Rich is now outnumbered by all of the females on the farm. We have our dog, DeeDee, five female alpacas and me. Rich only has four male alpacas on his team, but he seems to be a happy man!

In keeping with our Greek mythology theme, we have named the new little one Artemis. Artemis is the goddess of the hunt and wild creatures, and nocturnal beings. That's fitting since Asteria, her month older cousin, was named for the goddess of shooting stars and celestial beings. 

It's only been a little over a week since Artemis entered the world and the two girls are fast becoming besties. They both love to speed around the pasture in a merry chase and quite often it is the little one who is in the lead! She seems to enjoy starting the chase and Asteria always takes the bait and takes off after her smaller cousin. On these balmy evenings we love to sit on the deck sipping wine and watching their joyful antics. These are some of my favorite times on the farm; pure serenity and happiness.

That should be the end of my blog but I couldn't resist this bonus picture of the doggie female in the family. DeeDee is almost two years old now and you would think she would have left her puppy habits behind. We thought so, too. The other evening when we went to the store we left Dee inside because it was so hot outside. One of the pillows that we use when laying on the floor was left out  instead of being propped up against the wall out of the way, like we usually do. When we returned from the grocery store an hour and a half later this is what we found:

DeeDee wasn't the least bit ashamed of what she had done. In fact she just continued to lay there in the fluff gazing innocently at us as if to say, "I didn't do it!"

Sunday, July 29, 2018

A Blue Ribbon Week

I was reading an article the other day by a psychologist who posited the theory that social media may be responsible for the rise in depression and suicide. This psychologist wasn't talking about bullying, which we already know to have been ruled responsible in courts for several teen suicides. I'm talking about the myth of the perfect life that many of us are perceived to have based upon our posts on Instagram, Facebook and other sites. Let me first say that my own life is no more perfect than anyone else's. The reason that it may look that way on social media is that I was raised in an era when parents taught us that we should not "air our dirty laundry in public." That is, if one is having problems at home, personal, financial, or otherwise, one doesn't go around telling everybody one knows about it and one certainly doesn't publish it in the news media for strangers to read about or watch! In fact, I was told about the Victorian social norm that  a "lady" should only have her name in the paper for three events: her birth, her marriage and her death. Anything more than that is a scandal. Imagine applying those standards to today's social media outlets.

That early training possibly explains why I have mostly posted short, positive bits on Instagram and Facebook for the past few months. Not that anything serious was wrong or that I was depressed or anything like that. Between the demise and death of my father-in-law, Ed, in January and minor health mysteries of my own, I just haven't felt inspired to write on my blog. So, sorry to those who actually enjoy reading my musings on farm life and occasionally life in general. Mysteries solved, I'm fine and the past week has left me with so many sunny events to write about since, lucky me, my life has a lot to be thankful for.

We have been so lucky to have been discovered by a lovely young woman, Cate, who had a strong desire to show alpacas at the Seneca County Fair for one of her many 4-H projects this year. She called sometime last winter and asked to talk with us. We got together with Cate and her mom, Joni, and discussed everything that would be involved in the project so she would fully understand the commitment. Then in April, Cate began coming out to the farm to learn about and work with the alpacas. It's been a long process that I will talk about in future blog posts but this week it came to it's final end and she was the alpaca show at the fair.

Last Sunday Rich and I loaded up Aristotle, who would actually be shown in the ring, and Dionysus, who was to be his companion.  Dio was a necessity since they have such strong herd instincts and they would be the only alpacas at the fair. That's right, when I said that Cate was "the alpaca show" at the fair it wasn't a typo. She was the only one showing alpacas so I guess you know the outcome of the judging. She walked away with all the prizes!

Cate and Aristotle doing the obstacle course

Seriously though, she earned every trophy and ribbon she won. Cate came out at least 4 times a week during the first three months to work with the animals. That meant a drive of 1/2 hour over and 1/2 hour home and a workout of at least an hour. In addition to this she was showing sheep and rabbits and babysitting. She came out on April 21 and spent the entire day helping us shear the animals. She was also a graduating senior with plans to attend the pre-veterinary course at Findlay University this fall. In addition to all of this she was last year's Seneca County Fair Queen and had many duties to carry out that were connected to that honor. We have so enjoyed working with Cate this season and are hopeful that this will result in having a few more 4-H kids come out to work with the animals next year, too.

In my next blog I'll talk more about Aristotle's and Dio's experiences at the fair but I want to end this blog with an even bigger event for the week. I know, it's hard to believe that there can be anything bigger than this for the alpacas, right? But yesterday early afternoon, after selling our products at the farmers' market in Tiffin in the morning, we came home to this lovely sight:

Mango had not only delivered her cria a week early (like she has her other two boys) but she gave us a girl this time! If that's not deserving of a blue ribbon I don't know what else is. After having six males in succession born on the farm we finally got lucky on the seventh one and got a lovely little fawn colored female. She was already up and nursing when we got home and was mostly dry. From this we estimated that she was born somewhere between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. Mango, that wonderful mama, was standing patiently while horseflies swarmed all over her and let the little one nurse contentedly. Rich and I discussed names and decided to keep with the Greek mythology theme. Her name is Asteria which means star a name that features in several Greek legends. We didn't go back to the fair last night like we had originally planned. We just sat on the deck watching Asteria get her land legs as she explored the her new pasture world.


Rich's new little girl.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Right Around the Corner!

With Christmas fast approaching and Hanukkah already underway, I have been struggling to balance making new creations and meeting mailing deadlines. Just yesterday I spent several hours either traveling into town to our local post office or on the phone to a USPS branch in Orlando trying to track down an order that had been lost between here and there. I finally gave up and sent out another four skeins of our black baby alpaca fingering weight yarn. You know the one that I had blended with pearl infused rose fiber. It's a lovely yarn and the order was to be a Hanukkah gift. My customer was understandably miffed with the postal service (not with me, thank heavens) and I felt obligated to make it right and deal with the claims department of the USPS later. Sometimes running a small business here on the farm can be a bit stressful.

Speaking of stress, I only have about 2/3 of my shopping done. Since we are splitting our time between here and Florida this year I think that the last 1/3 of my shopping will be gift cards. There was no time to make any of my own gifts this year because much of my knitting was being sold in the shop. These fingerless mitts have been a popular gift.

One day in early October, as I was idly surfing through Etsy, I discovered these cute little felted pumpkins. Thinking that they would make a great tablescape for my girls luncheon I decided to teach myself how to needle felt. One thing led to another and I found and became enamored of felted Swedish Tomten or Christmas gnomes. I have made them in sizes ranging from 3" to 10." I have table decoration size and  tree ornaments and all of them seem to sell out quickly. I'll be creating some more smaller ones this afternoon after I finish the chunky eternity scarf that I started yesterday. Me thinks that I have too many irons in the fire at one time and maybe that is contributing to my stress levels;-)

There's one other item on my plate right now, too. A really big one. One cold, cold day last January when Rich went out in the pre-dawn to feed the alpacas, he noticed that one of the girls was missing. Puzzled, he went out closer to the fence dividing the boy pastures from the girls where he saw a splotch of white in the field where our very black Mocha resided. Somehow, old Took, technically Mocha's grandmother, had gotten into his pasture overnight. She was ready to return to the girl side of the fence and he was contentedly grazing with a very smug look on his face. We had her tested a few months later and the pregnancy test was positive. So now 11 1/2 months later we are on the lookout for the arrival of a new cria. 

For the past week, Tookie has been showing all of the signs of imminent delivery. She spends an awful lot of her time laying around the barn and the pasture. Our biggest worry is that she will deliver when there is no one around to dry off the baby. In this cold weather it could cause the little one to suffer from hypothermia and die. Rich has hung partitions in the barn to eliminate drafts and we have heat lamps in position to switch on when it arrives. He also dug out cria coats in three different sizes.

I am checking the pasture every hour or so and each time I need to leave to go to the store or for an appointment I worry until I am home again. But with alpacas being pregnant for so long it is not unusual for them to deliver two weeks early or two weeks late. Took has a history of being on time and delivering a bit late in the day. They almost always deliver during daylight hours. This is an adaptation to the fact that they are indigenous to the high mountain planes of Peru. If they delivered after dark the cria would almost certainly die because they don't lick their babies dry. The baby is up and walking around and nursing within minutes of birth. 

So out here on the farm more than just Christmas is right around the corner and we are more than excited about all of it!

Friday, December 8, 2017

Way Back in October

I wrote this one after our annual family reunion and just haven't published it until now. Here it is:


The weather in Nelsonville, Ohio  couldn't have been more cooperative for our annual family reunion at Lake Hope State Park this year. It was sunny, with high temperatures in the 70s each day and lows at night that were cool enough to be comfortable around the roaring campfire. Rich and I arrived Thursday afternoon with our pup, DeeDee, and a truck load of necessary gear and firewood. Pam and Jim were there to greet us, having arrived earlier in the day. Amy had only just pulled in ahead of us with Barbie and Riley  in tow. Anne, Drew and Laurie were there sporting their Florida tans, along with Steve Schieser who rode up from Columbus with them.
Thursday evening we enjoyed catching up over tapas and wine at Amy's cabin where she was assisted by Olivia and Laurie presenting us with a tasty spread. After tapas, Rich and Steve started the campfire that was to last all weekend. The early bird group sat around chatting and waiting to greet Matt and Jen who brought along niece, Addie, and nephew, Jackson. They were a late arrival because they had stayed to watch Mason's football game. Mason and Emmy, who is away at college, were unable to attend this year and we missed them. Olivia had to drive back to Ohio University late that evening because she had a morning class on Friday, after which she would be rejoining us at Lake Hope. Yay!
Early in the day on Friday, a couple of Jim's bike riding friends came up and went on an extended bike ride with Jim.  Friday afternoon after classes at Ohio State University, Kammie and one of her roommates, Lina, joined us for the rest of the weekend. It was great to see Kammie and be witness to all of the teasing that her dad was able to heap on her to make up for lost time. Matt is an expert at getting her goat and Kammie is such a cutie in her responses. I'm afraid that poor Lina has never seen quite as crazy a family as ours.
Amy made a short trip to the Lodge in the morning to try to get on their  wi-fi to do a little business. Later in the day, Laurie drove Amy, Jen,  Kammi,  Lina,  Riley and Barbie down to the Lodge just to look around in the gift shop and use the wi-fi  once more.  It seems that it is a bit of a tradition just to check out the lodge and see if anything has changed in our absence. The old lodge was destroyed by fire a few years ago and the one rebuilt in its place is beautifully rustic, reflecting the environment of the Zaleski national forest area.
Also arriving Friday was Ian and his long time buddy, Jesse. Although low key, Ian is always fun to have around the campfire. If you listen carefully, taciturn Ian has some great one-liners to add to the conversation and Jesse is the kind of guy who has never met a stranger. He can hold his own in our crowd! Once Drew and Rich get started with their "voices" we laugh until our sides hurt, or groan in disgust depending upon the nature of their comments!
Friday night was the annual food preparation competition; this year the category appetizers. Those of us who wished could prepare something to be judged by impartial judges. I forgot my elaborate puff pastry appetizer  and so had to compete with an improvised loaded tater-tot recipe. Amy had a great loaded baked potato dish. Ian and Drew each had a differently delicious Buffalo Chicken dip preparation. Jen made sausage pinwheels and Laurie entered a mini taco dish. Rich had a scrumptious, bacon wrapped spam chunks with honey-mustard drizzle recipe. Jen won with her pinwheels and Amy came in second with the potato skins. Rich got honorable mention with the bacon wrapped spam. Jim's friends were the impartial judges and did a great job. After the competition we celebrated Barbie's 40th birthday in our cabin where Annie and I had done a stealth job of decorating and Laurie had herded people one-by-one into the cabin evading Barbie's notice. We were able to surprise her with music and a huge chocolate cake! Afterward we all returned to the fire where we laughed heartily until late in the evening.
On Saturday morning, Ian and Jesse wandered off down to the lake to go kyaking and hiking for a couple of hours. Drew took a group down to the iron furnace area for the annual Lake Hope Fall Nature walk and bean soup lunch. Amy, Olivia, Jen and a few others that I can't remember took the dogs down to the lake for a swim. (the dogs, not the people!) Jen took Tybee, Amy walked Chili. Olivia took our DeeDee and she had the opportunity for her first ever swim. Olivia has the cutest videos of Dee leaping like one of our alpacas in the shallow water. Rich and I are going to have to take her down to our friend's house often for a swim in their pond. Before this weekend, DeeDee had suffering doggy anxiety since she had witnessed Callie being killed by a car. The vet had prescribed more socialization for her - with both people and other dogs. I think that the running and romping with her buddy, Chili, and the other dogs this weekend has been a great cure for her. Just about everyone in our group is a dog lover and so Dee got a lot of positive attention from humans and dogs alike. After we stopped in Nelsonville for breakfast, where we gave her a birthday sausage patty, (today is her first birthday) she slept all the way home. After running around and sniffing the grounds to make sure that nothing had changed in her absence, she  came inside and curled up on her pillow in the living room where she is still snoozing almost four hours later!
While everyone was strung out in different directions, Rich and I went into Nelsonville to check out the annual Smoked Meat Festival and Steve stayed behind to tend the fire. Intoxicated by the smell of smoking pork, beef and chicken, we strolled through town stopping only at the Nelsonville Emporium where they sell products from local artisans. I purchased another handmade mug to match the one I got last year. It's by a local artist named Dale who does lovely work. I like these mugs because they keep my coffee and tea hot and fit comfortably into my hands, warming them on cold winter mornings.
When we returned from Nelsonville, Rich prepped the pork loin and put it on the tri-pod over the open fire where he tended it the rest of the afternoon.  Amy had gone back to the Columbus area to Max's cross country meet and brought him back with her. He's sporting a knee high boot on his right food as he recovers from a stress fracture. He didn't run but went to the meet on the team bus to support his team mates. I was lucky to be able to sit between Olivia and Max at the fireside that evening. Since Amy's cabin was packed, Max spent the night in our extra room. Rich and I always enjoy spending time with our grandchildren.
This year Rich experimented with an apple upside-down cake cooked in a skillet over the open fire, along with his pork, potatoes and corn spoon bread. There were several positive comments on his experimental dessert but on the way home he was already revising the recipe for next year! Once again, on Saturday night we all gathered around the campfire to imbibe in our favorite beverages and politely converse. We never exactly solve the problem of world peace; ok, maybe we don't even try, but we do have fun.
True to form, Rich and I were the first to pack up and leave this morning. We awoke later than usual, around 7:30, because DeeDee was so tired from running with the pack this weekend, that she slept in, too! We tried to quietly take down all of the Halloween decoration and pack up our food leftovers and the assorted "comfort items" that I bring along, so that we wouldn't wake Max. I think he barely noticed when I knocked gently on his door and kissed him goodbye on his cheek.
Brother Jim heard us and came out to assist in the loading up. Matt  joined us shortly as did Amy who had to take Chili out for his morning constitutional. Chili and DeeDee had one last tussle before we left. Annie and Drew came out at the last minute to send us off and say good bye until Christmas when we will see them in Florida.

By nine o'clock the truck pulled out, fully loaded, Dee in the back seat, Rich at the wheel and me as the navigator (Who am I kidding? After I had my coffee I slept most of the way home). The ride home was uneventful. We unloaded and I've been doing laundry all afternoon. Rich went out to pick up a pizza for Sunday dinner to close out the weekend, and that's the end of another successful family reunion at Lake Hope State Park. Until next year, au revoir!

DeeDee and her buddy, Chili
Sorry for the long dry spell. Writer's block. I'll try to do better.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

A Return to Serenity

For the past several days the pipeline crews have been preparing the soil over the lines for replacement of the topsoil that had been removed at the beginning of the project last spring. Each day a different machine was out there going up and down the easement performing a different step of the operation. Each evening over the dinner table I would describe the machine and what it seemed to be doing and Rich would give the machines  names and explain their functions. There were huge machines running on caterpillar tracks, pushing soil back and forth on large shovels. Other days there would be different huge machines with large barrel like structures rotating in front, using spiky prongs to break up the soil.

I have been  snapping pictures with my phone each time something new is happening so that I can both keep a record and show Rich what I was trying to explain. I'm a city girl after all and he's a farm boy who knows about soil moving and conditioning. I have often wondered if the pipeline workers think I am some sort of environmentalist spy as I peer at them through my binoculars and snap pictures from our deck!

This morning there is no mistaking what they are doing now. The machines that appear to be what an urban girl would call bulldozers and diggers, are incrementally pushing the topsoil piles back into place over the work surface of the past summer. It looks like the frenzy of activity in our back field will soon be coming to an end and with the onset of fall we will begin to experience the natural serenity of our country life again. 

All morning long the crews have been bringing in more and bigger machines. Diggers, pushers, things that I will have to ask Rich about this evening. In early spring when the work was just beginning I used to text pictures of the equipment and process to Rich and ask for him to clarify. After a while I felt guilty taking up so much of his time, although he was very patient. Now, said machines have become dinner table conversation. This morning they have already removed a large portion of the topsoil hills out back. If the rain holds off, the area should be smooth by evening and we will be able to see the woods and fields beyond. 

The alpacas have been curious at times about what was going on back there. Mostly they are unconcerned with anything going on outside of their pasture as they peacefully graze or lay around in the sunshine. They do, however, screech out a warning in their unique style, if they spot the deer coming out of the woods. With the topsoil hills obscuring the view of the woods we didn't hear that warning much since the deer didn't often venture over to our side of the "mountains." I expect that to change with the improved view and the increased deer activity with the onset of fall.

With autumn coming we are gearing up for our annual open house the third weekend of September. The shop will have a new look after this weekend. We have purchased some new display fixtures to better showcase our yarn and will be installing them this Saturday. The shop will be open as usual we just ask that people be prepared to wend their way around obstructions in the shop. The weather is predicted to be perfect for this sort of endeavor since we will have to move much of our more solid merchandise out onto the lawn.

Open house will be held as usual during the National Alpaca Farm Days on Saturday, September 23rd and Sunday, September 24th. We will be open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. both days and this year we hope to have as least one baby. The Wurm family's Dora is expecting our Mocha's first little offspring sometime within the first couple of weeks in September. We are as excited as they are for this event.
Lisa and I figure this makes our families in-laws somehow!

I recently completed this pair of fingerless mitt out of our brown Leezza's 3-ply DK weight yarn. Her fleece is so fine and soft. I made these for display in the store to show how defined the stitches are with this yarn, and how soft and warm alpaca feels against the skin. I'd like to get a few more pieces done before open house and am trying to enlist some of my knitter friends to help. We also have a yarn sale going on right now on the Etsy store. We are offering 10% off on yarn sales over $50. It's a test run by Etsy and is available to a limited number of shoppers, however we will offer the same sale to in-store shoppers until the end of August. If you shop on Buckeye Star Alpacas, Etsy store, the coupon code is YARN10.

I have started to carry a limited number of finished alpaca items in the store, too. I have commercially produced socks and some handmade (by me) hats for sale now. There will be more items discounted during the open house, too.

More good news! I have contacted Carrie at America's Natural Fiberworks and she has promised to have our 2017 fleece processed and ready to ship before the open house. That means that I will have all of that lovely new yarn for sale in the shop, too!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

There Are Machines, and Then There Are MACHINES

Machines. From the wheel, to the axle to the cog. The early invention of machines and the evolution and development of more sophisticated machines has both made our lives easier and more complicated.

The second row of pipes have been set on the timbers awaiting the welding and burying process for about a week now. Yesterday there was a very large machine digging on the pipeline site in our back field. This indicates to me that the final step in the pipeline building process is imminent and that the natural gas will be flowing under high pressure very soon. Not sure how all of this will impact life here on the farm when the construction equipment and workers are gone.

A couple of weeks ago I received a much smaller machine that has brought so much fun into my own life and sparked my creative juices. I ordered this little piece of German precision engineering to try my hand at making hats  from our alpaca yarns to sell in our store.

I have been using up project leftovers from my stash basket as practice and the results have been pretty good. The hat knitting machine is also capable of knitting flat panels, something I am also going to experiment with. I'm enjoying this little  machine so much that I may just order the smaller, baby, version just to see what I can do with it!

I have also been experimenting with some different dyeing techniques lately and have gotten such good results that I have plans to do some more yarns. I made a bold, multi-colored blue, green, yellow yarn that has garnered some very positive comments.

My favorite technique is the confetti yarn, produced using eco-friendly dyes, Glad Wrap, plastic forks and the electric turkey roaster. I have two skeins for sale in the store and I am planning on making two more in a different colorway for myself. This yarn is calling to me and is saying, "Linda, you need to knit something with me!"

Right now, my husband is calling to me so I'll need to discuss dyeing techniques another day. Rich has a couple of the alpaca boys harnessed up and is ready to walk them around the lawn on this lovely, sunny, July 4th morning. Have a wonderful holiday everyone!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Fleece Processing and Pipelines

The Rover pipeline, an interstate natural gas pipeline which will transport "3.25 billion cubic feet per day of domestically produced natural gas to markets in the Midwest, Northeast, East Coast, Gulf Coast, and Canada" (quoted phrase from their website) is virtually going through our back yard. For the past few months I have been observing the progress of its installation. After the company settled on a price for the right-of-way, all done through a Columbus law firm that specializes in representation of property owners in pipeline cases, Rover began the survey process. It seemed like only a matter of minutes after my father-in-law, who owns the fields, received the settlement check before the top soil was pushed aside into a series of mounds alongside the route.

Notice the mounds of topsoil in the background. Young boys and moms are unconcerned.
 Just a quick note here, it's pretty much inevitable that once the pipeline people decide on a route  and get the approval from FERC the landowners have almost no chance of blocking it. Remember the Dakota Access pipeline that is going through the Native American burial grounds and the long drawn out protest through a very cold winter?  So, although I personally am very uneasy with two 42" natural gas pipelines laying side by side just four feet below the surface of the field behind us, we have no choice but to accept it. The deliberations between the lawyers on our behalf and the Rover people went on for almost two years until they threatened to invoke eminent domain. Landowners who hadn't accepted previous offers were advised to sign the final best offer.

Giant electromagnets lifting pipe segments off of the truck beds.
After the topsoil was cleared off the heavy grading equipment smoothed out the access area and very soon the semis brought the segments of pipe through and laid them out on timbers. It was interesting to see the giant electromagnetic cranes effortlessly lifting the pipe and laying it in place. One truck after another, each one carrying two pipe segments, drove through the field. Because of the recent rains there was one section of field out by the electrical towers where the trucks got bogged down and stuck. One driver tried to power through it before he finally gave up. A bulldozer came in from the opposite road, hooked up to and pulled the truck out. At one point the dozer pulled three trucks at once. Amazing!

Waiting for the third empty semi.
All the while, the alpacas grazed peacefully, only looking up occasionally in curiosity. It seems that as long as they have a fence between them and the noise they feel protected.

Each day, even through light rain, there was some action going on out there. Then one Saturday when I had been in Columbus most of the day, I returned to find a series of white boxes surrounding some of the joined sections of pipe. Rich and I could only assume that there were welders working on the permanent joining of the pipe and the boxes were there to protect things until it was set. The pipeline workers keep strictly to themselves so there is little opportunity to ask questions of them. I have noticed that most of the workers arrive from the south somewhere and I have seen them on the road that leads up from Rt. 23 and Marion. Also, most of the license plates on the personal trucks parked on the corner construction site are from states very far west and south of here: Texas, Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma, etc. So much for the local unions claiming that the pipeline would provide local jobs!

The hole was finally dug and the pipes sunk into the ground in the past week. The ground has been smoothed over and much of the work has moved on to the northwest of us. This process will be repeated one more time for the second pipeline that is to lay beside this one. I'm not sure yet what the completion date will be. In the meantime, life goes on.

Last Friday, my friend, Liz, came out and we worked all afternoon dying four color batches of yarn. It was an experiment that produced some lovely spring like colors.

We have a shamrock green that my friend Gabi named "Bit 'O Luck,'"

a lovely soft lavender named "Lilac Clouds,"

a vibrant orangy-pink called "Sea Coral" by my friend, Marilyn,

and, finally, a variegated yarn that I call "Sonoran Sunset."

Yesterday I did a day trip with my friend, Lisa, and her son, Darren. We drove down to Somerville to deliver our fleece to America's Natural Fiberworks and pick out the blends and weights for this year's shearing. More about this in another post. Rich and I bought strawberries on Monday so today is jam day. One of my favorite times of the year.