Monday, June 29, 2009

All inspired, with no time to play!

Can someone please explain why it is that every time I go through a creative spurt full of new ideas and energy I have almost NO time to create!? We have started the long and somewhat tedious process of training a new farm helper today, I have auction deadlines and other paperwork issues looming (not to mention cleaning the house), Mirian is bored silly and needing my attention, and all of a sudden I just want to make art! Is it the long daylight hours that are giving me more inspiration (I know I'm sluggish and down during winter, so maybe this is the opposite)? Or the extra time with Marti recently (her home is a virtual museum of fun, beautiful, colorful, and completely stimulating artwork)? Going to the Francisco's Farm art fair in Midway yesterday may have had something to do with it.
Or, maybe listening to the CraftCast podcast while working in my studio?
Possibly I'm just inspired by the gorgeous alpaca felt yardage (I hand-dyed it from our own alpacas) that I just got back from the fiber mill? I have to assume it's a special combination of all of these things.
I hadn't made a felted hat since last summer, and tonight I whipped this one up like I've been making them every day.
I'm not saying that to brag, as this is extremely unusual when I've been so out of practice!
Something rather cool is going on and I hope that I can sustain it for a while and at least squeeze out a few minutes here and there to make things.
Have you discovered what brings on your creative spurts, or are you never/always full of imagination and creativity? (Please feel free to contribute some comments!)
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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sleepover

I felt like a kid again, going for a sleep-over at Marti's the other night (along with Mirian). We enjoyed lots of barn/studio time (always inspiring), a great meal, and sitting out on the porch watching the spectacular lightning storm.
The next day we all met up at Shakertown, and I was very grateful that a trailer crisis (the least of which involved a nail in the tire) didn't stop us from riding. Although it was wretchedly hot, we enjoyed a great ride through the woods and meadows of Shakertown and tried to stick close to the creek and took lots of breaks- I always enjoy the stone walls. MB's new horse Cochise (aka Coach) is such a pro, and MuMu (Marti's green horse) is making great progress!
video
A great time was had by all, and we returned just in time to cool off before another summer downpour commenced.
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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A New Helper

Did I set myself up for too much change when I decided my word of the year would be ADAPT? Oh well, change is always happening and much to my chagrin we're hunting once again for a full time helper on the farm. Our current helper is leaving after 6 months (just long enough to be well-trained) to pursue a horse training position, and I'm pretty sad to see her go.... That being said, I have had a huge response to my ad and have already interviewed 2 possible candidates so wish me luck!
Wally is actually our newest helper around here. He's a 4 month old hand-raised cockatiel which Paul and the kids found and purchased while I was at AOBA Nationals. He is EXTREMELY social, and if I'm working at my computer he makes a big ruckus until I let him out of the cage. First he'll explore, (he loves my keyboard), then he climbs up to my shoulder to chirp to me and play with my earrings. I love him!
Here's to hoping that our new farm manager is not a bird brain! Pin It Now!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Fabulous Fathers- Updated

We had a quick but great visit to see my parents in Ohio for Father's Day, and after a little bit of fishing we enjoyed an afternoon at Carillon Park near downtown Dayton.
I hadn't visited this historic park since elementary school, and it was fun to expose the kids to some of Dayton's incredible history, much of which I had forgotten myself.
It's pretty amazing how much innovation has come out of Dayton, most notably those two guys the Wright Brothers, Fathers of Flight! We saw their original bicycle shop and the Wright Flyer III (# I is at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC).
It's also really sad to see so much strong industry closing down in Dayton (ie. Delco Moraine) and leaving the area (ie. NCR, a fixture in Dayton for decades). History does repeat itself in that change is always inevitable, I suppose. On that note, I was also really happy to enjoy something that hasn't changed in Dayton for years... Marion's pizza! It was exactly the way I remember it!

As we enjoyed Father's Day, I did think of my friends and family members that haven't been as blessed as I with such healthy, loyal, or awesome fathers as my husband and Dad (above). I am truly thankful.

I'm pretty excited to note that I'm going to have my first guest blogger tomorrow, so stay tuned!

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Learning to do WHAT?

We've been learning to geocache!!! Geocaching is a popular hobby involving searching for or placing "caches" (a small treasure/find) in strategic locations to be found via GPS and additional clues. Paul and I have been intrigued by the idea for a while, so when I read that Life Adventure Center of the Bluegrass (LAC) was offering a family day camp for learning about questing and geocaching, I signed up the kids and myself. (Paul wanted to come, too, but he was in Frankfort helping to lobby for the horse industry yesterday).
It was so fun going to camp WITH the kids, and I don't think they were too intimidated by having Mom along. Robert quickly teamed up with another boy his age, and Mirian and I hung out with the other girls and moms.
The instructors at LAC are always first-rate, and Danielle was exceptional. First, she went through the basics of map and compass-reading (you can't always depend on technology, right?), then we followed clues to find "treasures" around the immediate area of camp. (These included items like stickers, caribiners, compasses, and other small trinkets).
We followed a map and several clues to find the old cemetery located thick in the woods of LAC- I have always loved old cemeteries, and this one was from the early 1800s, with a beautiful old stone wall surrounding it.... very cool.
Then we learned to use a GPS. I've had one in my car for some time now, but it was fun to finally figure out how to locate and mark places using coordinates. Each group set up a small "cache" with clues and coordinates for the other groups to follow. Then we ventured into the woods to locate five other strategically-located caches. (This was a particularly pretty box turtle we saw along the way).
Since it was such a hot day, we were all thankful for the final cache, which contained a cooler full of popsicles!

We are fortunate to have such a wonderful resource as Life Adventure Center of the Bluegrass nearby. As for information on geocaching, just check out http://www.geocaching.com/ for all of the information that you need to get started! Mirian and I are going to head out this morning to seek out a few caches which appear to be within just a few miles of our farm, and soon we may place one ourselves!
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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Out of one's comfort zone!

Last week my friend Marti invited Mirian and I to join her and some friends and their children who were visiting from Chicago for a day of horses and art. Well, wasn't that right up our alleys!? In the not-so-recent past it would have been nearly impossible to get Mirian to participate in such a thing... she didn't know the other kids, she's never been to Marti's, she doesn't want to ride horses other than her own Gringo (who can actually be a challenge, but still she's used to him). It must have been the magnetic personality of Marti, whom she adores, that encouraged her to give it all a try! I couldn't have been prouder as she participated in a group lesson (even though the instructor was yelling a bit at the previous group which would normally have scared her away) and she even cantered on her school horse. Rosemary, the instructor from Sunburst Horsemanship School, did a great job with five kids of diverse abilities and experience.
At Marti's, she enjoyed meeting Io McHippus (Marti's mini whom she had heard so much about). Io had just been gelded the previous day, so Marti had to give him an extra belly scratch to get him going!
Some of the kids (and grown-ups) painted, and I taught them how to make a simple felted cat toy. Marti's friend Marina is an artist who works in mixed media with all kinds of materials, but she had never felted before. She and Laurie both did a great job, and I think that everyone had a wonderful time with whatever they chose to do! (The city kids seemed pretty happy just to run around in bare feet).
Working with fiber again (along with a recent trip to the mill to drop off fiber for processing) got me in the mood for more felting- check out my newest creations on the farm blog-
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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Summertime routine... not!

After five jam-packed days in Cleveland of showing and selling alpacas, networking, learning new things, shopping, and camping in our RV on a parking lot, I had hoped to have at least one little quiet day.... not! We had our 3rd cria within a few days (male, but one of the best-looking fleeces I've seen on a cria), the kids have lots going on, and this morning our water well pump went out. It always takes a while to get into our summer groove, so I guess I need to be patient.

The AOBA National Show and World Alpaca Conference really was great, and I am SOOO glad I went! It was so fun reconnecting with people, and I think it's always good to learn new things. It's just very motivating! Fiber and all of the awesome things that people are doing with their fiber was probably the most exciting thing to realize. The Fashion Show was great as always, and featured both commercial and handmade items! (See guy in alpaca coat and scarf at top, be sure to look at coat, not just guy!)
One of the new things I learned about was these giant needles, at the booth of BagSmith. I bought a pair of Size 50's (plus 35's for i-cord), as well as a very cool pattern book for making rugs, shawls, bags, etc. It looks like I could be going through a lot of my giant yarn stash very soon!

I've been wanting to "relearn" how to crochet- they make giant crochet hooks, too!

The definite highlight of the conference was winning our first National banner- Brown Female Color Champion with XXXtremely Sweet! We purchased her dam at the Snowmass Auction last year, and it was a very affirming selection! Her dam just gave us the mentioned cria on Monday, and he looks to have the same potential.

Out other alpacas did really well in the show, and we sold our auction girl! Check out this little movie to see Man of Steel (co-owned with Catalpa Creek)being shorn after showing. His color change from before to after is really cool. Pin It Now!