Thursday, September 25, 2008

Alpaca Farm Days

This week I've been getting ready for Alpaca Farm Days, including Kentucky Alpaca Farm Day at Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill on Saturday from 10-5 and an Open House here at Seldom Scene Farm on Sunday from 12-4.

Saturday's activities at Shaker Village include animals and products for sale and display from about 20 alpaca farms, an Alpaca Fiber Arts Show, demonstrations and free seminars, and Alpaca Games. It's also Apple Harvest Weekend and the weather is supposed to be perfect, so come on out!

Sunday we are having an informal Open House, a great time to tour the farm and see our new crias. Last year, Maisy delivered her cria just as the first guest arrived, and guess what? She's about 4 days overdue right now and just may make a similar presentation this year!

We'll have light refreshments (cookies, apples, and cider) both days. I'm making several batches of the famous Wicked Good Ginger Snaps, a recipe given to me years ago from Carol Cassedy of Whitestone Organic Farm. (My Mom and I always called her Superwoman, as she homeschooled about 5 kids, gardened, quilted, baked, ran a mostly-sustainable farm, gave lectures, etc. and seemingly did it all really well!)

These cookies seem to taste extra good this time of year, and I used Woodford Gold Sorghum that I bought last weekend at the Midway Festival, making them even more tasty. I hope you like them as much as I do!

Wicked Good Ginger Snaps

1 1/2 cups shortening
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
3/4 cup sorghum (I've used molasses as well)
4 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 tablespoon cinnamon

2 teaspoons cloves
Additional sugar and cinnamon

Cream shortening: gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs and sorghum. Beat well.

Combine flour, soda, salt and spices in medium mixing bowl, mixing well. Add to creamed mixture, mixing well.

Shape dough into 1 inch balls, and roll in additional sugar and cinnamon. Place on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 8 to 9 minutes. Cool on cookie sheets for 1-2 minutes, remove to wire cooling racks using a spatula and cool completely. Yield: approximately 7 dozen.

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Monday, September 22, 2008

When Work is Fun!

Last week I found myself working and playing a lot in my studio, and at times it was tough to tell which was which. I think that's a good sign that I've somehow found my mojo again... things are so much more in balance in my life, at least for now! I've had some large blocks of quiet, which I've always needed more than the average bear.

A lot of my incentive to work in the studio was for dyeing yarn and fiber and organizing products for the Midway Festival. I also made felted soaps and put together some mini scarf kits. Attendance and sales were quite brisk, and the alpacas were a big hit again!
Being at the Midway Festival made me forget about the elections and all of the turmoil in our economy, if only for a while. There was bluegrass and Irish music, face painting, festival food, homegrown sorghum and honey, and sand sculpting.
My friend Dianne brought sheep and handspun, hand-dyed yarn and we did the booth together which made it more fun.
I've decided to try a more patriotic tactic and slow down on selling imported alpaca items and concentrate more on producing items from our farm's fleece, as people seem to be more "ready" for this and are willing to pay the difference for "homegrown." (I know I am as well). I finally put the finishing touches on a handfelted hat that I started back in July (shown here), and along came the person for whom it appeared to be made... Mary, a previous client at the festival. It was too hot for her to wear it yesterday, but when it cools off I hope she'll enjoy wearing it as much as I loved making it! Pin It Now!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Truly Bluegrass

The doors have opened! Truly Bluegrass is a new shop that launched yesterday in Versailles, and specializes in Kentucky-handcrafted items. I finally dropped off my own goods on Sunday, and although the smell of fresh paint was still in the air, the shop was well organized and stocked with high-quality items. These included some spectacular pottery, unique jewelry (I liked the punky pony necklaces), metalwork, stained glass, one-of-a-kind quilts, and food items from the region.

Although retail has had a tough time in downtown Versailles, I have a good feeling about the potential for success with this shop and I certainly plan to shop there! The owners are very enthusiastic and have great eyes for quality and beautiful displays, and they are located next to another successful Versailles shop, Daisy Girls. We appreciate the opportunity to contribute to their endeavor!
We have our own display area with hand-dyed yarns from Seldom Scene Farm's alpacas, handfelted soaps, handknit items, photo cards, and fiber for spinning and felting. Best of luck, Wendy and Joyce, and congratulations on your opening!

I've also been hard at work on dyeing fiber and yarn for this weekend's Midway Festival, one of my favorite weekends of the year! It's been satisfying to have more studio time, and I've been alternating between painting and dyeing. Here are some of my newly-completed projects which will be available at Midway and/or Truly Bluegrass...
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Alone... but not lonely!

Saturday night I found myself alone in the house for the entire night for the first time in... years? I nearly called a friend to go out, but ended up putting some halibut on the grill, opening a nice bottle of wine, and getting out my art supplies and fiber stuff.

I was fortunate enough to have a few unwatched Netflix movies. There has been an ongoing theme of feminism in my thoughts, readings (Loving Frank), movies (Mona Lisa Smile), and media (Sarah Palin) lately... what's with this? (Have you ever had a concept appear and reappear in multiple aspects of your life?) Okay, it doesn't mean that I don't still support the GOP ticket, but I struggle with the idea of a mother of five with several young ones in the White House; does this mean I'm not supportive of feminism or that I'm ultra right-wing? It's not that I don't think a man (ie. Todd Palin) can handle the kids with lots of paid help and extended family, or does it? I know few men who can multi-task as well as we women, and hugs and kisses from mom are somehow different from Dad's.... I truly believe that women should be able to choose their careers, ANY careers, but I do have to wonder how much of a price their children may pay for those choices. Okay, enough philosophizing for now...

The other movie I watched was A River Runs Through It. Friends and I were talking about this movie last week while riding, and all that I had remembered about it was that Brad Pitt looked amazing and the Montana scenery was gorgeous (Brad looked better to me 16 years ago, but then again I'm sure I'd have looked better to him then, too). The movie is so much more than I remembered, and it will be added to my favorites list. It's theme is simply Beauty... and that people make their own choices in life and it's not always possible to help them when they make the wrong ones, except by loving them.

I was delighted to have everyone return home on Sunday! I did get a lot done, and next time I'll show you my projects and tell you about the opening of Truly Bluegrass, the new shop in Versailles that is carrying some of my yarn, fiber, and finished products.
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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Hodge Podge and Mod Podge

Finally, I've gotten my running out of the way for the week and I've taken time in the studio to play around with some new techniques and painting. This mixed media stuff is so much fun! I know I should be doing fiber stuff in preparation for the Midway Festival, but.... you know me!

I told Mirian that there were surprises in store for her if she made the bus and missed no school for the first month, and here's a decoupage box I made for her from a left-over stationary box that I painted and embellished:

She's been wanting to learn to shave her legs, so I included a sparkly pink razor and some fragrant shaving gel- she loved it and did well with her first shaving lesson! (She would be SO embarrassed that I put that on the blog).

We had our first fall alpaca cria, a black male from one of our oldest import girls, Roana.

Hopefully he's a harbinger of our fall births- unassisted, nursing in no time, bright and healthy! I am normally excited for each and every cria, but we've got a big surplus of males I'm trying to move right now. Black is desirable, though, and he appears to have some good potential. If you know anybody looking for bargain-priced fiber males OR breeding stock males please refer them to me, okay?
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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Fossils at the Falls

This week I went on a field trip with Mirian's class to a hidden gem, Falls of the Ohio State Park, just across the Ohio River from Louisville in S. Indiana. There's a lovely visitor center which describes the 385 million years of changes that brought forth amazing fossil beds over a mile long, right along the river.
Two major interstates buzz right by, but this park and it's unique history have fortunately been preserved. The Falls were the launching point for Lewis and Clark's Expedition, but the most impressive and evident history is preserved in the 220 acres of fossils, which you can walk around upon.

The kids, an especially curious and bright class of 6th graders, really loved it and were inspired by the guide, who was hilarious and very knowledgeable. I asked him just how unique this spot was, and he said the same fossil beds are unexposed anywhere else in the world except for a small area at Niagra Falls.
I must say that poking around on the rocks and learning about the milleniums it took to bring forth this wonder truly made me and my loco life feel like such a tiny speck in time!
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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Studio, Schmudio

I wrote recently about how every time I decluttered a corner, there was always another staring back at me. I am happy to report that I am finally feeling like I'm catching up! Last week the top of my desk in the house reappeared from a long retreat. Only problem was that it yielded a ton of stuff to be filed... and I couldn't even get to the file cabinet in my studio due to a light being out in the closet and so much junk in there. (Electrician was here, CHECK, plumber here now to install some new faucets, CHECK, we are really getting stuff done around here!)

My studio needed a major overhaul (see top, before), and I am happy to report that it is, as of today, once again a place that I'll love to hang out and work and play. It always helps when my parents or other guests are coming, and although I abandoned the white glove a very long time ago, I do like for this area to be at least presentable. Tah dah!!!
I am on a roll now, and feel like I'm digging myself out of at least 4 years worth of accumulated stuff. I mean scary, monstrous piles. One technique I have picked up and that I'm trying to teach the kids is when I see something out of place, either "Put it away, throw it away, or give it away" (ie. to Goodwill). This is really working for us! I'm also finally designating places for things a little better (aka. unfinished knitting projects go in certain clear bins in my studio). Here's how I have organized my multitude of knitting needles and notions, in a clear plastic over-the-door shoe organizer.

Something tells me that I'm turning a corner in terms of organization around our home, time will tell but I am pretty determined!

One more photo... this is my cute Dad with our dog Munchie and visiting dog Molly. We had such a nice visit with my parents.... thanks for coming, Mom and Dad.

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