This was a labor of love – done for the one and only grandson who will be further referenced as the ‘anointed one.’ The pattern can be found on Ravelry (what a great site).  It’s a Yoda hat, of course, which with any luck will adorn the bean of the ‘anointed one’ in the great Halloween Parade coming up this weekend.

The above photo shows Yoda just knit . . . below is Yoda just felted . . .

and finally Yoda with about a quart of Elmer’s glue holding and shaping the ears.

So far the ‘anointed one’ has tolerated it for about three seconds the first time on. About 10 seconds the second time. All bets are off for the grand Halloween parade. Did I mention he’ll be on his father’s shoulders and that his father will be dressed up as Luke Skywalker? Rest assured we will be driving down to Massachusetts to record this great embarrassing event for posterity.

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You may think this is just a view of the brilliant Burning Bush near our terrace. But there is more here than is immediately obvious. More work here, worse luck. For example, those stalky things sticking up in the foreground are the leaves of the horseradish, awaiting a great digging-up of the roots so the lady of the kitchen can get going on next years supply. Just visible at left is the arbor to which our crop of hops still cling because I never got around to it which is all right because they have already gone by and we still have the last two years crop in the freezer because we can’t decide how to work them into the ale recipe. Hops bought in stores have been analyzed for this and that and thus can be measured and added to the pot knowing what you are adding. The apple tree further on has plenty of sweet, if ugly, beauties which the Shetland group love dearly, and so await picking and proper storing in the barn so they can be meted out as seems appropriate. Finally, the forsythia across the road at the corner of the barn cries out for pruning. As for the barn doors hidden beyond the forsythia, see below.

For some time we have been telling people that these are not really barn doors at all, but rather an original Picasso which, since it must be worth some $89 million or so, we have been hiding in plain sight a la The Purloined Letter. We have noticed that people are giving us funny looks and sometimes take a step or two away when we stop to chat. So himself is planning to build replacement doors for this end of the barn and we will keep you updated on that project, which is certain to involve considerable smashing of fingernails with hammers and the sort of language he learned many years ago in the Navy.

Our pumpkin crop was satisfactory this year and some big ones adorn the various stoops and porches of our home. This is one of the medium size ones providing a delicious snack for the Shetland ladies.

Then again some prefer apples. That’s Moses digging into the apples. He and Billy are wethers, or fixed males, while the other nine are ewes (females). In the interest of brevity we refer to the whole flock as “the girls.” Bon apetit!

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High Goose

We were invited to spend a weekend at a wonderful piece of property recently acquired by some friends of ours. The place is located in deepest, darkest Vermont and is known as High Goose. Aptly named. As geese migrate south this fall their wings may well brush these treetops. They may even spend some time in the pastures grazing and catching their breath. The weekend was complete with chill night air and woodstoves to warm. Good company, good food (fresh picked apple pie). Perfect.

We think the large field in front of the house cries for sheep. It is an absolutely wonderful place.

And young Abraham feels the same way about the place, especially since he discovered his very own mountain spring to slooch around in, making it much easier to track mud into the house.

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Etsy photo shoot

“After scolding one’s cat one looks into its face and is seized by the ugly suspicion that it understood every word. And has filed it for reference.”- Charlotte Gray

We tried to do a photo shoot for a Etsy shop update, but ran into a problem. Oliver, our Art Director found fault with the backdrop, lighting, items selected for sale, not to mention the fact that the shoot was scheduled during his usual nap time. What a grouch!

Anyhow – within the week we hope to have new items photographed and up on Etsy. We are going to start introducing Earthues dyed roving. The woolly ladies are in a tizzy about that – what’s the madder with our natural colors? sez they (allow me a little sheep humor).

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Autumn approaches

Baa, baa black sheeps,
Have you any wool?
Yes ma’am, yes ma’am,
Several bags full – all for my mistress…

Summer is winding down and the evidence surrounds us. The pastures nibbled close, heat and haze and humidity giving way to air sharp and clear, winter fleeces beginning to thicken and last spring’s fleeces moving from house to barn after a summer of picking and cleaning, sorting, lack of house space and whathaveyou.

Previous years’ and current roving harvest, piled against the pasture fence while the harvestees look on in alert alarm, which seems to be the default attitude of sheep.

Autumn begins with the last rose of summer.

Along with our disappearing Elderberries there is a quieting of birdsong . . . soon we’ll hear the mournful cry of geese southward bound in great formations.

The Autumn Clematis provides a final splash of white against the cellar wall.

The Burning Bush is catching fire while the Hosta below shivers in the sharp autumn air.

Foliage season will be gorgeous, as usual, even as it carries a warning of barren fields and leafless trees, and the bitter months that come after . . . Firewood stacked, chimney clean, hay in the barn, house buttoned up: Winter is on the way.

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Haying time in New Hampshire

And its beautiful to look on
How the hay-cleared meadow lies
How the sun pours down his welcome heat
Like gold from yonder skies
John Clare (1793-1864) – “Haymaking”

Welcome to our corner of the world in August! The second cut of hay is very important to a sheep owner. It is finer, not as stalky as the first cut, and the sheep prefer it. The eleven prima donnas here at River Farm practically demand it. Here’s how it went this year. First the hay was mowed on a nice dry, low humidity Friday.

Then, after the top layer dried in the sun, the tedder teds the hay, ideally several times during the day. This flips and tosses it about so different hay is exposed to the drying sun. I don’t know why that machine is called a tedder but the O.E.D. traces the usage back into the 1500s.

Tedding hay

Then on Saturday, after another tedding, the hay was raked into rows so the baler can come along and gobble it up. The day goes from sun to shade back to sun several times with ominous cloud formations in the northwest where our weather comes from.

Rakine hay

In late afternoon it is judged dry enough to bale. The baler gobbles the hay, squeezes it into a tight 40-pound bale, secures it with two pieces of baling twine (don’t ask me how it ties the knots), and tosses it back into the hay cart where the fresh air kids from Massachusetts stack it neatly.

Finally, the field is clean, the cart is full and pulled up next to the barn, and our much appreciated help from the city send it up the conveyor to the big haymow just as it starts to sprinkle a bit. The second cut of hay is safely in the barn. Always a good feeling!

As for that beautiful old barn itself, that’s a whole separate story. A bunch of stories, actually. To come . . .

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