Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Horsehair Earring Tutorial

Spiral Macrame Horsehair Earrings
I spent the evening creating a power-point tutorial to use in my presentations at the Open Houses at Flint Hill on October 10th and 18th, and I may use it with my students if we get this new fiber unit together the way I envision it. If I could figure out how to link to it, I'd provide a link. Any advice, friends? Or do I have to upload it one frame at a time? I guess you could let me know your email address, and I could send you the file, in a pinch...but there has to be a way to attach it to the blog, right?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Cool Weather Changes

A Warm, Fuzzy Nose
Do you feel it coming? There was a strong wind tonight, and I swear winter was riding on its coat-tails. Change is in the air, and it's as palpable as the changing angle of the afternoon light. I feel it in my choices: I want potatoes instead of salad. I want soup and bread. I want to work with wool, and roving. I'm gathering my herbs and trimming my tender plants to bring in for winter.
The goats feel it, too. They have been ravenous lately. And they have been aggressive with each other, which makes me think they're coming into season. They call for the bucks, and considering the near rape that occurred when we brought the buckling kid to them a few days ago, I'd say the bucks are ready, too. It's in the air; get ready for the long haul. Fatten up. Nest. We all want to.
Do you think our holidays are instinctual? Thanksgiving, to fatten up before the cold of winter, Christmas to give us hope from the depths of icy despair? There have always been celebrations that mark the seasons, and whether you want to admit it or not, we are creatures of this earth, just like any other. The historical dates of religious holidays have been changed to accommodate these can research it, if you like, and I'm not denigrating the significance of the events we observe...but the seasons are significant as well. We feel them in our bones. Just like the goats...and the's time to fatten up, and look to home. And have faith that spring will come again.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Here Comes October!

Here Comes October!
This is a fun list I picked up from the Farmer's Daughter, who picked it up from Laura, the Fearless Chef. It’s neat to run through and see what you’ve tried. I’ve put the items I’ve eaten in red and added some comments. The "bolds" remain from the previous post, and are hyperlinks.
1. Venison- as a child, but I don't like it much.
2. Nettle tea
5. Crocodile
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht-not a fav
11. Calamari- love them
12. Pho
15. Hot dog from a street cart
17. Black truffle
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras (in Paris)
24. Rice and beans-We have a strong Hispanic community here; good groceries!
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
28. Oysters- love 'em
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi (Poor Lassie!)
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar (not with a cigar)
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O (the same night I sang "White Rabbit" karaoke. Coincidence? I think not.)
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat- In Dominica. Unknowingly. I was horrified. I thought it was beef.
42. Whole insects (Gift store items during the Dali exhibit at the Philadelphia Museum of Art..candy-covered ants, on a dare...)
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk- every day
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut (not my thing)
50. Sea urchin
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal- In the old days
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
63. Kaolin (I thought you made pottery from it!?)
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette...Well, I had andouille, but I'm not sure it's the same.
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe (Not sure about the louche part?)
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant- Who’s Michelin?
86. Hare
89. Horse NO WAY!
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
93. Rose harissa (I had rose chocolate sauce once...)
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox YUMMMM
100. Snake
Mine are in red. Perhaps the skeleton above is warning me to be more discerning when it comes to eating frogs, bugs and snails! Hmmm, I tried 65 out of 100 in my nearly 52 years, if I counted correctly. I have a new goal!!! Though the horses, sweetbread, and roadkill are definitely safe.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

On Sundays I Cook.

Mozzarella, Butter and Buttermilk
Apples: dried apple slices, schnitz, Waldorf salad from the ends, Waldorf salad with tuna.
Raw cow's milk: butter (buttermilk), large ball of mozzarella
Raw goat's milk: chevre, yogurt
Dried beans: big pot of ham and bean soup with the trimmings for the Caring Place, extras for friends, freezer, and lunch yesterday; pickled bean salad. It's going to be a beany week here.
Tomatoes: (frozen plums from this summer) confit. We're addicted. And darn, it goes great with chevre, on flatbreads. That's what we had for breakfast today.
Rhubarb, strawberries and ground cherries: smooshy pie that is now officially "crumble". What the heck, it may look funny, but it still tastes great!
Note: I compost all of the leftover bits; it's amazing, but I have religiously done that all summer, and it simply disappears. My composter is only half full, and I have been diligent about composting! That soil is going to be chock-full-o nutrients. I discovered that the document shredder does a great job on brown or unprinted paper for the compost. Shredded a bunch of brown butcher paper today, and tossed it with the tomato and apple skins. Next year, my garden is going to ROCK.

Homespun Harvest Garland

Homespun Harvest Garland
This is about the easiest project I ever made. Simply tear 1/4 yard sections of homespun into 1" strips, then knot them onto a wire (twist hanging loops onto the ends). As you're going. add whatever else you want: I used a kabob skewer to drill holes into three mini pumpkins and strung them on in even intervals. If you don't have homespun, use flannel. Both are woven through so you don't have an unprinted side of the cloth showing. Dangle an ornament, or don't; it's pretty either way. Mine is a hand stitched black cat on felt. Done.
You could adapt the colors and accessories for a pretty Christmas garland...a quick and impressive gift, if you're doing a handmade holiday ala Crunchy Chicken's "Buy Hand"challenge!

Rainy Sunday

Most Sunday mornings, I wake up at the usual time or just a little later, which is coincidentally EXACTLY the time "Gardening by the Yard" is scheduled on HGTV. I enjoy that program; it's the only one that I actually plan to watch. Today, since it is raining and the sun isn't blasting me in the eye, I watched it in the second-floor sun room, an extension we added about 4 years ago. You may recall my gloating about the cast and welded metal plant tree I found at a thrift store for $2.92? Here it is, filled with "rescue" orchids. Score!
My house is in Allentown, PA. The view from the new back deck was of the back of an apartment house. I added a wisteria vine a few years ago, and now I have privacy. I could ALMOST sunbathe out there now...and I get to see all of that glorious green. Volunteering at the farm has been a great addition to my life in so many ways, but I like to bring some life into my home, as well.
The room is on what used to be a tin roof over my pantry and back porch. The deck extends beyond it. Just enough to get some much needed sunlight. The orchids love it, and last year I started most of my garden seeds here too. By the way, the orchids are Home Depot's or non-bloomers, brought home and tended; they blossom once a year. I got them for 2 or 3 dollars each. In the window are colored discs of glass harvested from the bottom of wine bottles, whih I melted in the glass kiln. They keep the birds from flying into the windows. I had to pick up a dazed dove or two last spring, and one or two poor little sparrows were kamikaze warriors and didn't make it.
The old wall and window frame. We hang handmade blown glass balls and a stained glass window for color. The room I use as a studio is just beyond.
The old door frame, with a Balinese carving protecting the house from , well, whatever. It's just a pretty thing. I painted the dividing wall to look like bamboo; more happy green! I need it in the winter months. Sunday Mornings are the best, especially lazy, rainy ones!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Thrift Store Harvest: Priceless.
If you take a close look at the two red tags, you'll see what I paid ($4.83) for two flannel shirts which yielded the following: two pillow covers for Christmas presents; a dozen or so buttons, 7 hanky-sized squares for cleaning the goatie's udders when milking (or whatever else you could think of), and a pile of odd sized scraps for ornaments, quilting, projects, etc. I filleted the shirts. What a deal. And the pillows are so soft! I will have to buy inserts that fit. I just stuffed old pillows inside for the photo. They remind me of my husband's belly.
Soap and Cotton Washcloths: Handmade for the Holidays
While I was waiting in various meetings and waiting rooms over the past week, I used my time to crochet a few washcloths for Christmas presents. We already have the goat-milk soap; we may market a few sets with washcloths as well. I used "Peaches and Cream" cotton yarn for the cloths. It makes a soft, durable washcloth that holds water well. I actually asked my mom, who is a crocheting DIVA, to make a few for me for the farm fundraiser. Hers are better than mine. Maybe when I'm 81, mine will be as good.
Buttercup is NOT Amused
Buttercup seems to be annoyed at the attention being paid to her and her pretty baby. She prefers anonymity. I'm the paparazzi.
Babycakes is doing well.
Our calf remains nameless. Any ideas?
Innocent Bystanders (aren't we cozy?)

Friday, September 25, 2009


Yesterday, I left home at 6:40 AM, and returned at 9:30 PM. A long, long day, but mighty productive. I have been anticipating a long few days, and ticking off the events as they occurred, bringing me closer to the weekend and some quiet time.
Yesterday: wake up with anxiety dreams at 3:30AM; try to sleep..wake up in a sweat at 5:30. Give up. Give Peter a ride to the garage at 6:30 to pick up the newly repaired Miata before work: CHECK. Attend a district meeting for department heads at 8 AM: CHECK. Teach until 3 PM (and all that THAT entails): CHECK. Meet with the principal: CHECK. Run to Walmart for yarn for a fundraiser: CHECK. Get to the dentist by 4:15: CHECK. Get teeth cleaned and crown fixed: CHECK. Pick up Peter and eat a fast dinner: CHECK. Board meeting from 7 - 9: CHECK. Fall into couch and conk out then go to bed in a half-dream: CHECK.
Today: Wake up at 3:30 AM with anxiety dreams; try to sleep. Wake up in a sweat at 5:30. Give up. Teach all day: CHECK. Grade a pile of painting exercises: CHECK. Run a department meeting at 2:30: CHECK. Go to the farm to milk, etc. (see previous blog): CHECK. Run home to shower and call my old friend for our long-planned dinner date (which I accepted in lieu of a faculty girls-night-out)...NO CHECK. Weekend begins early. CHECK.
What I really want to do is this: I want to make Christmas presents, apple pies, and fall wreaths. I want to crochet, make soap and horsehair earrings. I want to fall asleep in a hot bath. I want to come home to a magically clean house. I want to read a book without interruptions. I want to sew flannel pillows. I want to fall asleep in my duckie, in the sun, on the water with a purring cat on my lap. I want to smooch my pets and my husband. I want to eat a Maine, on the porch of an old B&B overlooking the ocean. I want to make cheese, ride a horse, and smell fall air. I want to open the windows and sleep under a warm blanket. I want to drink some good wine and still feel chipper in the morning. I'll let you know if I manage any of these things in the near future.

Louie's Prayers

A Better Mousetrap!
Every evening when I milk, I'm entertained by the occasional mouse that runs under the floor joists. The herd is housed in stalls on the ground level; above it, hay and grain in the main barn. The mice try to dodge the cats long enough for a meal, which is when they often BECOME a meal. Apparently, I'm not the only one that has noticed them! This little kitty is parked on what I have been calling the "Mouse Highway" in my imagination for the past 9 months. Now THAT'S an obstruction!
Our buckling finds a new herd.
The little fellow in the background was born in March or April, and is beginning to look rather, ummmm, grown up. Pendulous. Adult. Rather than risk unwanted attentions toward our herd of little doeling ladies(most of them half-sisters), the Little Prince was relocated today. You had to be there; Kathy carried the front end, and I carried the back end, as the little guy refused to go on his own. First, we schlepped him to the billy-goat pen (think west), hoping to introduce him to his Daddy and Uncle Erv. Well, let's just say that it didn't go too well. Daddy liked him a little TOO much, if you get my drift. We assume that the does are coming into heat, and the little guy has been living with them, so he probably smells like eau d'doe to the eau-so-willing bucks. We pulled him out of the pen before he was violated, and co-carried him to the duck pen (think central)...then decided to try him with Louie and the sheep instead (think east). Feed a cold, starve a fever, wash a cow, carry a goat...Life on the farm.
Louie shows the Little Prince a thing or two.
Though Louie has a great big, scary set of horns, he's a wether, and a really nice guy. We're hoping he gets the little fellow smelling a bit more manly, so we can try him with the bucks again sometime soon. In the mean time, Louie and the Little Prince are the leaders of the flock..ummm...herd. Our little boy is growing up.
Louie prays the kid will grow up soon.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

This Rooster Has Nothing To Do With It

Pretty Boy
I just had a very busy day, and have decided to relax. During an emergency trip to Tractor Supply for milk filters (this AFTER a full day of teaching, then milking 15 pissed off goats), I cleaned out their magazine rack, anticipating an evening of reading. I bought "Grit", "Hobby Farms", and "Hobby Farm Home", recommended by Crunchy Chicken. I have a million ideas for holiday gifts, as I'm participating in her "Buy Hand for the Holidays" challenge, and not one drop of energy left to do anything about it. So, cya later...I'll be reading and enjoying an adult beverage. By the way, I'm wondering if anyone actually reads my blog. Could you drop me a quick line, if you do?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Proof of Life

As I was processing corn last night, I had a revelation. Let me explain.
I spend a great deal of time in my own mind. While I don't share most of those thoughts with you because they're so interwoven with memories and things that happen during my days (I won't share my school experiences online), I was thinking about the whole locavore/organic movement last night as I cleaned the corn. I had to; after 60 ears of corn, I became desensitized to the little worms that camp out at the tips of the cobs. I began to actually find them endearing. In their own slow, efficient manner, they are something more that creepy little protein monsters; they are proof that the corn is natural, edible, and alive. The first rings of the chain of life, right in my hand like precious jewels. You won't find them on sprayed corn, or grocery store corn; they're proof of the organic commitment of the farmer that provided the corn to me. Proof of life.
I picked the little guys off (they don't move much, because they're stuffed with corn!), and put them in a jar. I tossed them into the grass in my yard, where they'll feed my hungry birds, taking that inevitable link up the food chain. Each link represents both death and life, and all is as it should be. We are interwoven, and it's beautiful.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Pennsylvania is happily drowning in corn this year. Having enjoyed dried corn in my communal days in the 70's, I thought I'd revisit the experience. We rented the farm from an old time farmer. He had extra, and let us pick. And pick we did (this year, I bought. $20 for 5 dozen ears). OK...not free, but it's local. I'm all grown up and things aren't free anymore, but that's as it should be. Ferris Patt knew all about that, in 1975, when we were hungry kids. Good man.
The corn must be cleaned; removed from the husk, silk rinsed free, and drained. Eat some, because you'll be working through dinner.
You cut the kernels free of the cob. (The horses and goats love the cast-off cobs and greens.) If you cut them into a bowl or a pan they are easier to corral.
This is the magical piece of equipment: the drier. It's a galvanized metal box, which you fill with water (see the steam at the left) . The water boils, and heats the surface. On the surface, the corn is heated. It dries at a constant temperature. All you have to do is turn it occasionally. I first found this invention at the farm. Mine came from an antique mart; $20. Or make your own.
Dried corn: it's the best corn you'll ever eat apart from that one great sweet bite from the cob at the peak of summer. John Cope, eat your heart out. And you'll have it until next spring. You can't beat it. When you go to cook it, you'll need to treat it like a dried bean or grain...water, heat, and time. But this corn is so sweet and flavorful that it will take little else to make a dish. Or add a handful to soups or stews. It's the BEST.

Horsey Divas Rock

Jewelry Enroute to Horsey Divas. I Have ORDERS! WooHoooooo!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Predators Need Their Rest Too

Boots, Snotsky and Mother Enjoying the Rooster Parade

Emmaus Farmers' Market and Saylorsburg Flea Market: IN ONE DAY!

Frying Peppers
Most Sundays are pretty darn wonderful for me, but this one was especially good. After a perfect breakfast of homemade sourdough flat breads with chevre and tomato confit, I decided to visit the Emmaus Farmers Market in search of a few dozen ears of corn for drying. I love dried corn in the winter. I'll describe the process later, when I can show you as well.
Purple String Beans
Peter decided to join me, so we grabbed our market bags and hopped into the convertible. It was one of those rare early autumn days: crisp and bright, no humidity; in other words, perfect. A home-brewed band was playing some lively tunes at the market. Kids and dogs danced along with the music while parents shopped and chatted. It was just so...wholesome. A few years ago (well, a few decades ago), a college friend called Emmaus "The Stepford Town" because it's so quaint and perfect. I concur. The Stepford Town sans creepy zombie wives.
Some Local Color
While we were there, my daughter called to invite me to join her in a trip to the Saylorsburg Flea Market. Bonus! My afternoon plans changed immediately, and as soon as Peter and I dropped off the box of corn and the few other items (including him), I headed north. She lives about 40 minutes away. She's so much fun to be with. I have to struggle sometimes to stop being a "mom" when I'm with her. She's a funny, worthwhile friend, a wonderful mother, and a good human being. I genuinely like her. Of course I love her, too, but that's a requirement if you're a parent. Liking is optional. We have conversations about everything. For instance, we decided it was a good thing that people don't procreate like corn; you'd really have to be careful on a windy day at a flea market, and in her words "Family reunions would be impossible. You'd have to wear a haz-mat suit." She also informed me that my interpretation of the biblical phrase "And on the seventh day, they rested" was not a directive to go braless on Sundays. We laughed until we cried.
The Flowers that Peter Bought Me
I'll be sad when Thanksgiving arrives and the farmers markets and flea markets close, though I may actually get some housework done then. In the mean time, I continue to enjoy them so much, especially with a good friend or two to join me. Who knew, 31 years ago, that my tiny little baby girl would slowly morph into such a cool woman? Or that my husband would eventually become my best friend? Life's good.

Farms are Funny Places

Boots Sticks His Tongue Out at Visitors Sometimes. Don't even ask what Snotsky (another big boy) does.
Hardly a day goes by that doesn't give me a good laugh when I'm working at the farm. Last night, Peter was trying to help design a new milking stall for the cows. It involved going into a goat stall to take some measurements. As he did, he noticed the goats beginning to slowly disappear, and found he had left one of the outer stall doors open, so he closed it and herded them back in, one by one. He got them all inside, then stepped inside himself, only to find they had been going out the other gate just as fast as he was putting them in. It sounds like a Marx Brothers routine. I have to laugh just thinking about it.
Feeding Time at the Zoo
You couldn't fit one more knobby little head in there. They act like they've never eaten before, when in fact they have been nibbling fresh grass and clover all day. Silly goats! They'll knock each other over to get at the alfalfa. Did you ever hear a goat growl? It's impressive. They have lots of interesting little noises. I believe they sneeze like we use curse words...sometimes in pleasure, sometimes in warning: "(SNEEZE!!!) that's good alfalfa!" or "Oh, (SNEEZE!!!) the dog's coming!" I sneezed purely by accident yesterday and they all stopped eating and stared at me. I apologized immediately. Who knows what I said! From the way they reacted, I might have dropped the goatish equivalent to the F-bomb. Yikes!
Some Horses are Just Clowns.
Just look at that silly face!
This place has fed my spirit so well these last 8 months. Who else can say they find laughter, meaning and beauty every single day of their lives? I'm so lucky to have found them.

Friday, September 18, 2009


Our baby is growing! You should see her chasing birds and playing with the goats (who are just about her size!) Momma Buttercup is always watching.
The goat drawing is coming along. It's such a pleasure. After spending a few hours on the drawing, I have to check out the areas I drew when I milk! Their hair goes in so many directions! I'm getting to know my girls better through close observation. By the way, they were NUTS today.
Braiding with horsehair. I tried a new style today, with just 8 hairs. Using Harry's ultra blond tail hair, the twisted strand looks almost transparent.
As you can see here. Click to see closer.
Details to follow, another day.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Extreme Broccoli

Extreme Broccoli
Eight words: torn meniscus, patellar tendinitis and tendinosis, degenerative changes. Crud. That makes 9 words. This from the girl who used to get her legs around her neck, sit cross-legged at the drop of a hat, and could do a full lotus on her head for a good 20 years of her life . Well, they tell me change is the only constant. I'll find a message in it all. There's always a message. The message may just be "Suck it up, you're getting older", or "You really should draw more and wrestle livestock less", or "Lose weight, Porky." I'll tell you when I receive it.
Above, you see exhibit #1, tonight's real subject matter. Let me give you the back story: I planted a second crop of broccoli, which is doing great. Today, after milking, I harvested a head of it. Brought it home, cut it up, and....but wait. More back story. I'm an organic gardener. No pesticides. Compost mulch, rotten egg and cayenne deer repellent (you get the picture). So, I cut it up and found, well, a little more protein than I expected. A LOT more protein. Andrew Zimmerman worthy protein. But I did persevere, and eventually dewormed (aaaaack) the entire head. I AM going to have to rally all of my Vulcan mind-control techniques learned on a lifetime of Star-Trek reruns to get the stuff down, but I think I can do it. It's ORGANIC! GREEN! NATURAL! OMMMMMMMMMM.....
Now, here's the burning question. Do I spill the beans and let my husband make an informed decision, or just keep the pre-dinner carnage to myself? Do I make a game of it and offer a bounty? Could I feed this broccoli to my vegan friends? Inquiring minds want to know.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Afternoon in Saylorsburg

Yes, she has ears.
On Mondays, I scurry from my school to my daughter's home, ~ 30 minutes away. I meet the boys as they come home from school, and make them dinner. I'm building karma in case my daughter will have to tend to me someday :).
This is Pepper, my Grand-dog. She's very loyal, very sweet, and very annoying like most dogs. She is my very, very best friend when I visit my daughter et al in Saylorsburg. Dogs are evangelists. They want to convert you to the canine cause. Although I like Pepper, I have to admit I'm a feline compatriot. I'm also a Unitarian; I acknowledge the dignity of all (species) and faiths. So Dogs AND Cats are cool.
Bas relief demo in my studio class today. Subject matter is obvious.
The beginnings of the new drawing; it feels so good to draw. Though I'm in a goaty rut, Miss Faith is a perfect model. At Megan's place, we have a routine. The boys come home, have a snack, do homework, then go out to play. I make dinner, help with homework, then do my own homework. I had two 10 year old boys cheering me on today. NICE!!!!

Sunday, September 13, 2009


Meanwhile, back on the farm...Buttercup and her 2 week old baby enjoying the afternoon sun. Thank goodness the rain stopped! I learned how to trim the goats' hooves today, and also learned that left unattended in this exceptionally wet weather, they can develop foot rot. Luckily, Kathy has been vigilant, and our girls are nicely trimmed.
Mother and daughter are doing well. Buttercup is a great mother; this is the cleanest calf in Pennsylvania. ---------------------------------
As usual, I spent the majority of my day cooking for the week. I roasted a turkey breast that was sent over by The Caring Place , and made a big pot of soup from that; shepherd's pie from the leftover veggies and some chopped turkey and potatoes, and chicken-sausage stuffed mini-sweet peppers. Milking came next, and now we're back home warming up the shepherd's pie for dinner. Unfortunately, it's 7:47 PM and I still have a bushel of plum tomatoes and a half bushel of cutting tomatoes to deal with. I suspect they may have to wait. This torn knee is really putting a cramp in my style...literally.