Saturday, September 08, 2012

What a summer!

Gosh, I don't know where the time has gone to this summer. Lots of things have been going on on the farm so I'm going to yet again, attempt to update the old blog, and as usual try to keep it updated!

So; we had a great six weeks with Dad. At almost 80 he didn't want to be on the go all the time but he got to see some of the local tourist attractions. Some kind person took this picture of us both at Mabry Mill over on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Ken and Josh were up ahead of us somewhere. This is the most photographed spot on the Parkway and it's a really neat place to visit with not only the working grist mill but other old log buildings and demonstrations of Appalachian rural life as it was for the early settlers.

Dad likes antiques and "junk" so having him here was a good excuse to go to Black Dog Salvage in Roanoke. I've been wanting to go there for so long but we never got around to it. Lots of  cool architectural salvage but a bit too expensive for us. 

So we moved on to the Irish Pub!

This is Annie Moore's in Roanoke. It's excellent!

Not long before Dad came someone dropped off a pregnant cat. We took her in, of course. She's the nicest, most docile cat we've ever had. We named her Patchouli. Here she is, very pregnant, soaking up the warmth from the lamp in the chicken brooder!

She just lay there purring while the chicks hopped all over her.

She gave birth to four beautiful little kittens. This is Dad's favorite. He named her  "Millie" after my Mum.

Getting a clear picture of them all together was next to impossible.

                                                  It was nice having someone to walk the dog!

Long faces all around when he had to leave.

Sunday, June 03, 2012


Dad had intended to be here for Joshua's seventeenth birthday but that didn't work out. It was just the three of us and Birthday cake:

I can't believe it's seventeen years since we brought home that precious little bundle. Now he's all grown up and taller than both of us. Last year we came to the decision that he should go to the local public high school for his last three years. There are no kids his age for miles and really no activities going on for his age group either. It seems like every time he made a friend the family moved away. So, last September, after 8 years of being home schooled, he started 10th grade 20 miles away. I was so worried that he would have trouble adjusting. Worried that perhaps he would be behind - though he always did well on the end of year tests. Thankfully, he settled right in and made Honor Student. His overall  average is 100! We're so proud of him.

One of his birthday gifts was a two day Beginning Blacksmith course at The Jacksonville Center for the Arts in Floyd. It's something he's been wanting to do for a long time. Now he plans to build his own coal fired  forge, like the ones they use there:

Apparently they're not that difficult to build and Ken can get the parts easily.

My Dad's Here!

A lot happening here on the homestead. My Dad's here for six weeks. Actually, he's already been here for 3. I just haven't had much chance to blog about it.

First, I was busy getting his room ready:

I love this room. It's bright and colorful. The walls are a pale sage/apple green. It doesn't have a name. We mixed it ourselves from lots of left over paint we had under the stairs. The comforter and other furnishings are in blue, orange, raspberry, yellow and violet! Sounds atrocious but amazingly, it all works together.

And here's Dad enjoying a bit of fishing up at the pond.

Afraid our fish are still small as you can see!  Ken took him over to a neighbor's pond the following week where the fishing was much better.

Friday, April 27, 2012

More new faces on the farm

We've been talking about getting sheep for quite a while but I couldn't make up my mind what breed to get. It's strange but I had a very set image in my mind of what to me, constituted a "real" sheep. When I was in England last year I found out that the sheep I was thinking of were the Herdwick breed. The ones you see running wild up on the high fells in Cumberland, shrouded in mist and fog. Alas, no Herdwicks to be had in these parts. Then just before Easter I saw a for sale ad for three Scottish Blackface ewes! Now they are also my idea of "real" sheep. They're the ones you see up in the Highlands, also shrouded in mist and fog, or standing in the middle of the road stopping traffic- no fences up there. Wild, ancient, extremely hardy, curly horns. Yes! real sheep!

We drove 4 hours to go and get them.

First, they had to be caught. 

Then pointed in the direction of the stock trailer. 

"I'm not going, I'm not go-iiing Really, I'm not!"

 Phew, all loaded up.
From left to right: Cornelia, Morag and Kirsty.

Our route home took us through Appomattox, a place steeped in civil war history. We decided to take a break and stop at the restored village of Appomattox Court House, the site of Lee's surrender.

So, we parked the trailer.

And left the sheep...

to go sight-seeing.

And what a nice afternoon it was.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Dry Stone Wall Pics, finally!

Oh it was so nice to see comments from you guys when I signed on just now! I thought I'd lost any followers long ago. Thank you so much for waiting for me. Hugs to you all.

Well, we have had the strangest mildest winter imaginable. I think we only had one snow storm. It dropped about 6 inches of snow that lasted two days and was gone. We hardly used the woodstove. I tried tapping the maple trees but didn't get enough sap to be worth boiling down for syrup. But it's been a great winter for working outside. And here at last, are some pictures. Click on them to make them bigger.

Ok, here's Damascus. It wasn't the picture I intended to post but for some reason Blogger insited on loading it. Isn't she beautiful?
There we go. Here's the creek that runs down the length of our "holler". So many times I've looked at that ugly culvert and thought: Surely there's something I could do to that thing" Well, one day in October, inspiration struck and  I got busy.

I thought of the lovely stone bridges back home in the Lake District. Removing the culvert and building a bridge wasn't something I was ready to tackle so instead, I decided to rock in around it. Which led to other things like steps and hmm, why not dig the creek wider and have an island in the middle? With a tree on it... and daffodils ... and oh, I know, it could become a memorial garden for my Mum! So that's what it's slowly evolving into.

Here it is with the coping stones added.
As you can see we'd had a storm during the night and the stream was in spate.

This little Redbud sappling was growing in the woods. Ken dug it up for me last weekend and we planted it by the bridge. That pool is quite deep. It was full of little minnows today. -Sorry about the sagging electic tape in the background.
That's another Redbud we planted on the island. We bought that one - before I spotted the wild one growing in the woods. We also found Daffodils growing by the big creek across the road so we dug those up also and transplanted them.

It's coming along

Friday, March 09, 2012

We now have Donkeys!!!

I'd been contemplating getting a donkey for a while before Mum died. After she died and I got so ill and depressed I was glad that I didn't have any more animals to be responsible for.As time went on and I had absolutely no interest in anything, I told Ken " I guess I'll know I'm getting better when I start hankering for a donkey again. Well, it happened, out of the blue in October. And what do you know, this little jenny and her colt  were for sale on Craigslist. We went over to Boones Mill to take a look at them and they were perfect. Nice sweet dispositions. The little colt hadn't been handled much so he was very shy but he was curious so I knew he would come around with a bit of time and patience. 

Their names are Rimfire and Damascus. 

Here's Ken leading Damascus out of the horse trailer.

And here they are settling in to their new surroundings.

Since then, Rimfire has been weened and separated into his own paddock. He's now halter trained and leads nicely, and  they're both on the six week hoof care schedule with the horse farrier. While they'd never been abused, they had been pretty much left in a field to guard sheep and never had any hoof care. Their hooves needed a lot of work but we have a good farrier who loves donkeys. She's really getting them into good shape.

I plan to breed Rimfire to our little Welsh/Arab, Crystal. Should result in a nice little mule to help work the farm!

Blogging again!

Yeah! I'm back in the land of the living. It's been a long year and I hope I never have to go through another one like it.

Even though I haven't been blogging I have been quite busy around the farm, mostly building stone walls. I've found it to be the best "therapy"; something I can lose myself in.

Pictures to come.