Farm Stories, December 11, 2021

Asha updates!

 

Asha is slowly getting used to being here. Luckily she is very food motivated. In the quiet moments after barn chores I can wait patiently for her to sniff my hand, eat some food from it, and then, slowly come out and eat her dinner with me sitting there. It's so nice to see. She'll probably never be an affectionate cat, as she was born and raised feral, but who knows. Maybe she'll accept some pets now and again.

 

Weaving with a purpose

My love of spinning means I often have a lot of yarn around. For me, spinning is a way to relax. I'm not thinking about how much I need to spin, how, why, or even what. It's an opportunity to sit down (something I don't do a lot of), still feel as though I'm doing something useful, but not stressing over what I'm doing. The yarns created generally aren't soft, consistent, or balanced. They can vary in colour, weight, and look. Most often they are big singles, or one ply. Occasionally I'll ply, but not often. These yarns are truly an expression of my mood at the moment. If I begin spinning when agitated, it calms me down, and can be seen in the yarn. So yes, I have a lot of handspun yarn. They are amazing for freestyle weaving and more arty knitting and crochet. Don't get me wrong, they can make some pretty cool things, I've seen people knit up some amazing hats with it. Not a knitter, I prefer to use my yarn for weaving. I do love the rustic, chunky look of a simple plain weave. It really speaks of the simple process' I use, and that have been used for thousands of years to create cloth. The first piece of "real" cloth came off the loom this week made of pure handspun farm wool. This was done on my small floor loom. Very thin handspun singles, along with some thicker singles with character. It was washed and dried to preshrink it. This cloth even has a purpose - it's to back the beautiful pins from Penannular Pin Fire Lilly Forge. Together they are reminiscent of what a shepherd may  have worn while tending sheep on a chilly mountainside.
Pumpkin Treats

Yes, it's December, but pumpkins are magic because they last so long. In the right conditions, winter squash, such as the pumpkin, can last for months. Ones we consider edible tend to be much smaller than their larger cousins used for carving at Hallowe'en. Left over pumpkins than never had a chance to be carved often end up in compost heaps, or even *gasp* in the garbage - NOOOOO. Floral designer and friend Deb, had a couple of large pumpkins lying around her place mid-November. As her home is on the smaller, in town side, she wondered if I'd like to add these orange beauties to the compost pile, or give them to the chickens. My eyes lit up knowing they wouldn't go to waste! The sheep would love them! Well, a few weeks later, and yes, the pumpkins are no longer. The sheepies gobbled them up within 24 hours. Not a sight one sees every day.

 

First Honey!

It's been a long time coming. We began with bees in the spring, but no longer have them. The hives did so well, they swarmed, finding a new home. I clearly didn't do a good enough job of keeping the bees happy. New nucs are on order for next season. Lesson learned, bees need more attention. Although our hives didn't stick around, we did manage to receive a honey harvest. This past week I managed to harvest some honey out of the "natural" combs the bees created. These combs are curvy, natural shapes that won't fit into a honey extractor. It's been a bit of a movie to discover how to extract honey from these organic structures. Once again I'm reminded that things weren't always dependent on the modern tools of today. Slowly I did manage to persuade the honey to leave it's cozy comb home and into warm bowls. Over the holidays more honey will be harvested, as well as some beeswax. I can't wait to get this done! We will have farm bee goodies available in the new year!

 

Speaking of bees...

Along with honey extraction, I also needed to do another batch of my Bumble intaglio prints. The first print run sold out, but with some of the edition left, I can do another print run. I like to do print runs of over 25 in more than one batch. Why? Well, this means that each batch will be slightly different, and I'm able to keep "fresh eyes" when inking them up.  Inking and printing can get tiring, so keeping the time of a printmaking session shorter, I don't waste materials, and pull crappy prints. It also means I get to revisit a plate, which is really a nice feeling, and one of the amazing things about printmaking. Unlike doing a single drawing, I can return to a plate, think about it, and do something unique in with it in a second or third run. It's what make a hand pulled print special. It's unique, but not so unique that it's unaffordable to most. Each print run is a reflection of where I am as an artist at the time of printing and then painting. With "more than one-quarter of North American bumble bees are facing some degree of extinction risk." thinking about native pollinators seems kind of important...

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