welcome, and thank you for joining me on my farm and studio in southern lancaster county, pennsylvania

Friday, October 31, 2008

farm products ready in time for the open studio tour

So in addition to the yarn and roving I talked about yesterday, there will be several other Tulip Tree Hill farm products offered for sale here. 

Handmade soap, with an "orange creamsicle" scent, a couple of apple pies in handmade ceramic pie plates, an array of hot sauces (more on that later), my own corn meal, and if I get time, also homemade bread and egg noodles.

The extra time for the bread and noodles isn't looking real good right now since my first priority is to finish a couple more sculptures that I've started. Don't get me wrong - I have quite a lot of pieces for the tour, but really want to get two or three more done. They are so close, just need some finishing touches. 

I also need to clean and organize my studio, and first thing tomorrow morning I'll be baking some cookies to go with the hot spiced apple cider I'll be serving. 

Who needs sleep? It's a nasty habit and highly over-rated!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

we have wool!

After waiting literally months, the three fleeces that were sent off for processing have finally returned as yarn and roving. The yarn is from Jack (aka Jack-In-The-Pulpit), a shetland sheep, and since this was his first shearing at 1 year of age, it is technically shetland lambswool, which was spun to a sport-weight yarn. Quite soft, let me tell you. The black and the white roving pictured above are from the babydoll lambs, Rosebud and Mayapple. They have a shorter length of wool and so the spinning machines could not handle it. I'm told it will work very nicely for hand spinners. All three of these are naturally occurring colors as found on the sheep - no dyes, chemical or otherwise. 
During the open studio tour, in addition to art I'll also have a small area where I will be displaying farm products such as the wool, which will be for sale. I'll post more about the other stuff tomorrow.

Monday, October 27, 2008

checker birds

Bluebirds vs. Blackbirds

I've sort of been amusing myself by making gameboards. There are several underway in various stages of completion, but the most recently finished one is shown here. The gameboard is slightly oversized in order to accommodate the birds as the checker playing pieces. It is designed so that when a bird is "kinged" a braided wire ring is placed around its neck. 

Each bird was carved from tulip poplar wood, then sanded smooth, followed by many coats of paint and glazes. Finally, legs were added, beaks and eyes were painted, and they were attached to their bases. The gameboard itself went through a similar series of stages, ending with a hand-rubbed wax finish to give it an especially soft and smooth feel.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

sad day on the farm

My hen with her six peeps were brutally attacked last night. The hen was killed and eaten, one peep is missing, two were found dead and three are now all that are left. I strongly suspect an opossum. I saw one crossing the driveway Tuesday night when I got home. I must have scared him off for the night, but he came back last night for his chicken dinner. So the three remaining peeps are in a more secure location and have been supplied with a heat lamp since they are now orphans and their mother isn't there to keep them warm. 

Monday, October 20, 2008

quote for the day

"I've made an odd discovery. Every time I talk to a scholar I feel quite sure that happiness is no longer a possibility. Yet when I talk with my gardener, I'm convinced of the opposite."
Bertrand Russell

Thursday, October 16, 2008

ad in local paper

love it!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

screech owl

I've been hearing an owl calling in the woods, finally looked it up, and found out it's a screech owl. Here is a link to a YouTube video that sounds exactly like what I've been listening to.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

new additions

A few weeks ago I noticed one of my hens was missing. After an extended search. she was found behind the mulch pile, sitting on a clutch of eggs. Today she moved them out of the nest and into a fenced area - smart bird! I counted six and they look like they are a couple of days old. Tonight I'll see if they will go into the barn where they'll be a bit safer than out in the open where any stray cat, fox, owl, or hawk can get them.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Key Within

More keys and hearts... here is another piece incorporating ceramic stoneware. She holds her heart as though in offering, but protects the secret holding the key to it by keeping it in a barbed wire cage. Somewhat sad and pensive, there is still an element of hope.

The woman's head, torso and arms are made of stoneware. She has thin black wire for hair, and is hand painted with oils. The heart is carved from tulip poplar with an antique keyhole. Her skirt is of old barbed wire. The bird is hand carved, again of tulip poplar and is painted with acrylics. It is holding an antique key while perched on a tree made of wire, epoxy, paper, and acrylic paint. The base is tulip poplar and is finished with black gesso and wax.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

a beautiful morning

the front pasture in the early morning light

Monday, October 6, 2008

"putting food by"

This past weekend was a busy one in the kitchen. I started the hot habanero sauce (it has to steep in the refrigerator for 2 weeks), and canned sliced apples as well as apple sauce. But the big news is that I started a crock of sauerkraut. I've been wanting to do this for some time, but was always a little nervous. I mean, you slice up cabbage, add a little salt, cover it, wait 4-6 weeks and you are supposed to end up with sauerkraut. Logically, I know that it ferments and that's what keeps it from spoiling, but it's not something I'm real comfortable with yet. 

So I want to know just when it was that we lost touch with basic food preservation skills. My parents both grew up on farms, and yet just one generation later, I have none of this knowledge and have to look it up on the internet! Seems wrong somehow. 

It also seems wrong that so many people have such disdain for these skills, and sometimes even for the people that practice them. Sad, actually. Yes, I know, you can just go to the store and buy all the kraut you want for not much money and almost no effort. But then that's true of almost anything. Really, you don't even have to know how to cook anymore. Just buy pre-made food and heat it up. It concerns me a little that we have become/are becoming so inept at taking care of ourselves. We spend so much time working to make money that we have no time or inclination to do anything for ourselves. We'd rather just pay someone else to do everything for us. But where is the joy of accomplishment in that?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Open Studio Tour

Tour preparations are well underway and details have been finalized. There are 8 artists participating and we'll have everything from painting to pottery, sculpture, and fiber arts. What is new and exciting this year is that we will be raising money for the local fuel fund, which helps those who may have a hard time keeping their homes warm this winter. Each artist is donating one item to be raffled off, with all proceeds going to the fund. A great way to help others and possibly win a piece of art!
Be sure to check out the tour web site at tourthestudios.blogspot.com. There you will find info about the participating artists, a tour map, and a link to detailed driving directions by MapQuest. 

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Kirkwood ag auction

Aren't they handsome?

So this morning I went to the Kirkwood Ag Auction.
Twice a week, horse-drawn wagons line up along with pickup trucks and trailers while they take turns pulling their loads of produce through the auction house. Box lots are auctioned right off the wagons as bidders stand to one side behind an iron rail. After the wagon loads, selling progresses through the aisles of hand carts. Anyone can buy, as long as you need a LOT of any one thing. And all sorts of people are buying - from people like me who would like some produce to "put up", to folks who have stands at farmers markets. At this time of year, you can find quite a few mums and pumpkins there. 

I was looking for hot peppers, apples, and cabbage. I did buy a box of habaneros so I can make some hot sauce, but would like to go back and see if I can't get some hungarian wax peppers. They make a wonderfully mild "hot" sauce - just slightly hot while still mild enough to be able to enjoy the flavor of the pepper. I also bought a box of cabbage and a bushel of Crispin apples. So it looks like applesauce, hot sauce, and sauerkraut will be on my to-do list this weekend. I've been wanting to try making sauerkraut and if it works, late cabbages will be on my list of things to grow next year along with more hungarian wax peppers. 

Now, those of you that know me know that I normally don't start conversations with total strangers. But I met a couple of very nice people while we were all standing around freezing our butts off. One was an older gentleman who had the most beautiful hand-carved walking stick. He told us he carves them himself and has quite a few of them at home. An Amish lady and I were both standing in a pool of sunshine trying to stay warm when we struck up a conversation. She was there because they raise mums on their farm and had brought a load of them to be sold. They raise most of their own food and have a greenhouse to extend the season. Another woman I met is the gardener for her church and was there to buy mums and pumpkins to decorate with. As we talked more, it turns out we have a lot in common. She also has sheep and dogs. She keeps about 20 sheep and has them to raise lambs for meat as well as for training her border collies to herd. I've gotten better at meeting new people over the years. And you know, usually, in some small way, I'm a better person for it. I need to do it more.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Gather In The Aftermath

Gather In The Aftermath is a wall sculpture I created for the "Not Your Mother's Barn" exhibit at Mulberry Art Studios in Lancaster. The three crows on top are being their darkly mysterious and slightly ominous selves. The barn door opens to reveal a tiny drawer. Crafted of paper, fiber and rusted bits of detritus, the nest is hung with fine black wire. On the surface of the barn, written in calligraphy, is a rather melancholy poem by Longfellow, which provides a fairly accurate view of the clearing-up of farm fields in late fall/early winter. You can almost feel the oppressive stillness of an early winter's day.

Flight the Third: Aftermath
When the summer fields are mown, 
When the birds are fledged and flown, 
And the dry leaves strew the path;
With the falling of the snow,
With the cawing of the crow,
Once again the fields we mow
And gather in the aftermath.
Not the sweet, new grass with flowers
Is this harvesting of ours;
Not the upland clover bloom;
But the rowen mired with weeds,
Tangled tufts from marsh and meads,
Where the poppy drops its seeds
In the silence and the gloom. Longfellow