Saturday, February 4, 2012

the remedy

So what is the cure for bad news, disappointment, and despair? Music. Today was the Mountain Music workshop here at the farm and it was exactly what I needed. I will write more about it later, I promise. Right now, I just want to say that a day spent teaching, playing, and listening to mountain music cured this woman's heavy heart. It will do it every time. I had a wonderful afternoon with the folks who came from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New York to learn the basics of dulcimer, fiddle, and banjo by the woodstove. Thank you all for being part of this day.

For the now, let me share this video of some damn good clawhammer banjo. Julie Dugan came by for lunch and a concert. She talked about banjo for a while, its history and place in our culture, and then played between frailing lessons and stories. Here is a short video of her playing a fine tune on her knockdown banjo.

Friday, February 3, 2012

bad meat

I'm so upset to write this, but I think all that pork I raised and invested in has to be thrown out. I found out when I picked up the meat that one of the livers had a white cyst on it the size of a quarter and was yellow inside. Yellow isn't normal, it is a jaundice and a sign of a bacterial infection. The butcher didn't save the liver so I can't test it and I don't know what meat in my freezer came from which animal.

So what can I do? I spent the morning talking to USDA slaughter houses, local farms, butchers, vets, and the Cornell Cooperative Extension. All said the same thing: the meat is most likely okay, probably healthier than anything at the grocery store, but they can't be sure without having seen the liver or having it tested in a lab. So there is no way to know that if I cooked and served it to myself or others that the bacteria that caused the yellow liver couldn't hurt me or others. It could be a bug the oven or our stomachs could not kill. Even though only one pig was guilty, I don't know which pig it was (the butcher isn't exactly sure either, they butchered 13 pigs that week) and I can't eat pork on a hunch it is "probably" fine. And even if I could pinpoint the yellow liver, I can't tell the cuts apart. And as it turns out that sausage is the ultimate democracy...

So what caused the liver problem? Websites and vets told me it most commonly happens if that particular pig had a selenium, corn, or personal allergy or deficiency. There really is no way to tell. It's not a confinement vs free range issue (or every pig in industrial America would have the same problem) as much as it is a sore luck issue. In the giant slaughterhouses if a carcass has a bad liver, it is disposed of. When you only have two pigs on a farm and don't know this till you pick up the meat, it is too late.

So while I am waiting to hear back and see if there is a last-ditch way to get the meat tested and approved, I don't have any faith in it. All the experts I talked to said flat-out a yellow liver is a risk and a condemned carcass. Testing the meat would cost more than replacing it would. This years pork is too risky to even use as dog food or compost. If the chickens or wildlife ate it, the bacteria could infect them too. It is heartbreaking news. A total waste. An emotional and financial hit I wasn't prepared for. Between putting down Pidge and this I just feel deflated.

All I can do is try again, and fail better next time. I know this, and you haven't seen the last pig on Cold Antler Farm, but I am going to cry like a child when I start bagging up that meat in trash bags. I feel horrible.

Beef chili and potato Soup tomorrow at the workshop. No pork.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

celebration and sadness

This morning I drove south to Greg Stratton's Custom Meats Business, about 30 minutes from the farm in Hoosick, NY. I didn't know what to expect, but when I pulled into the driveway of the impeccably maintained farmstead and cut shop I was so impressed I stumbled walking inside. Outside the butcher shop, (their family business), were perfectly painted red barns and a blue farmhouse. Inside the shop was spotless floors, stainless steel, joking and laughing staff and a small office with white aprons hanging behind it neat as soldiers.

I picked up 150 pounds of meat, in two huge boxes. And that was without the hams, ham steaks, and bacon being smoked at a local meat shop (ready in a week or two) My two little pigs have served this farm well. I wrote him the check for three hundred dollars (includes on-farm slaughter, custom cuts, and packaging in vacuum-sealed freezer wrap) and carried them out to the truck with Gibson watching, tail wagging.

It is quite the proud feeling driving home with that amount of good food, work of your own hands, to feed friends and family alike. My thanks to all involved: breeder to butcher. Time to feast!

When I got home with Gibson and unloaded the truck, I had a very different task to tend to. I had to cull Pidge out from the flock. She was in poor health, not breeding quality, selling quality, and doing poorly this winter. It was a sad event indeed and I don't want to discuss, defend, or explain it any further than that. It needed to be done. I never had to put down my own lamb before, and it was hard on the soul and nerves, but I do not regret it. Not at all.

I hope that as I type this another generation is growing in my flock's bellies. I hope that late spring will welcome lambing once again. As tiring and stressful as those days are, they are my favorite time of the shepherd's year.

This Sunday Brett and I will slaughter and butcher Atlas, his work being done at the farm and my plan all along was to use him for breeding and then for the table. If he had grown into a mighty beast and outstanding specimim of the breed I would have sold him as breeding stock, but the truth is you can't have a ram full-time loose with your flock unless you want to invite hormones and incest in a few months. I can't use him next year on his own daughters and so he will be used to serve this farm as food. I'm just glad I have a chest freezer...yikes it will be full on Sunday afternoon. Afterward we'll head to a Superbowl Party in Manchester. Quite the weekend, equal parts somberness and celebration. I suppose that is what I signed up for, and I am glad in my choice.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Mountain Music Workshop: Saturday!

If you are coming to the farm this weekend for the mountain music workshop, please email me at jenna@itsafarwalk.com and let me know the following: diet restrictions, what instruments you are interested in, what instruments you will be bringing, and if you have any allergies to dogs/cats/rabbits/horses/peanuts etc. While this place is kept clean, I do live with two cats and three dogs. Hair happens. Lunch will be potato soup and pulled pork served with fresh bread and local cheeses. There will also be a breakfast spread of NYC bagels, donuts, and a homemade quiche. If you need directions and information about times and such, ask me via email as well.

Looking forward to it, and I have three spaces left if anyone wants to swoop in and take them!

Ashford Kiwi Spinning Wheel GIVEAWAY!

This is the first giveaway on this blog I am insanely jealous that I can't enter for. It's a BRAND NEW Ashford Spinning Wheel from the amazing folks at Halcyon Yarn of Maine. (Halcyon Blake herself set us up with the wheel!) Halcyon Yarn is an independent yarn shop in Maine and offer everything you could dream of to scratch that fiber itch. They are going to give away an Ashford Kiwi Spinning Wheel on the blog this week and here's how you enter. You go to their website and peruse a while and then report back here on what you would create if nothing was stopping you. For example: If I had my druthers I would buy some Cascade Magnum 100% wool in red and make a new hat tonight. I love that about those super bulky wools, you can whip up a piece of clothing in less time than it takes to finish a Lord of the Rings movie. And I would get a traditional spinning wheel, whatever is out there that can handle thicker and thinner yarn weights...I'd have to do some research, but hey, this is just me thinking out loud. I dream of a snowy afternoon spent by the woodstove spinning roving from the flock carded in the farmhouse. It's bound to happen here, just not this week. I can assure you that one of you lucky folks will end up with a brand new spinning wheel Monday night.

You get the idea. Check out the yarns, supplies, carders, drop spindles, roving and more and then report back here with what you'd make from your dream stash from this charming store. You can enter with a new comment and facebook share every day if you like, which means each of you can enter to be the random winner 14 times! I'll pick a number with an online random generator Monday Night. As always, you can double your chances by sharing a link to this contest on Facebook, just report back here with the comment SHARED!

Good luck Antlers! Visit Halcyon yarn here and start looking around!

P.S. Canada is welcomed to enter too, but you have to help pay the shipping!

wear your horns

Very excited about this book coming out in a few weeks from Storey, and even more excited to have an essay inside it. The book has over 50 new farmers writing stories, advice, and inspiration to other dreamers and doers out there. I haven't read it yet, and when I do I will post a longer review, but in the meantime I am thrilled to know there is such a growth in new farmers there's a market for such a compliation!

dancing chickens




photos by 468photography.com

fresh hell

Monday, January 30, 2012

it is time

So often I get emails from people that I call the "long sighs," they are the laments of frustrated men and women alike who want to start homesteading, but can't. They have a pair of teenagers in highschool and hate to move away from their friends and district. They have a spouse who thinks they are crazy. They are too young, too old, to used to the way things are. Some feel trapped, others feel victimized, and more just feel like they have a million tomorrows ahead of them to make their plans turn real. I am sorry to break it to you, but you don't have five decades, you have a few, no matter what your age is. Time leaps ahead of us all, stealing years and taking lives. Do not wait, to not doubt. Join me on this worn buckboard seat and we'll take this cart to the farm.

As for those of you raking nails across want, but unable to step onto your own acres: here's the thing... You do not need to have a 6.5 acre farm to grow food. You can do it in a 6 x 5 raised bed in a sunny spot in your yard. You don't need a cart pony, or a flock of sheep, or any of this chaos here at Cold Antler to be more self sufficient at all. What you need is a feral mind, a predators grin, and a stubbornness to change how you see the world. Your suburban half-double townhouse may have rules against chickens, so what? Does it have rules against canning? Homebrewing? Stocking up on local farm's good and food? Can you still knit a sweater, plant a container garden off your fire escape, and pick up a banjo? There are plenty of feral people living all over cities and towns, far away from the fields they are called to in spirit and kin. You don't need to own a farm to prepare for hardship, or enjoy a night without television, or spend a day hiking in the forest or train your dog to carry a light pack. Myself, I rented for five years before I got lucky (and it was luck as much as it was will) that landed me this piece of land, tucked into a mountainside on a curve in a mountain road. Your small holding may be waiting for you too, but it may also be waiting inside, as a desire and determination to finally walk into your bookstores knitting circle and ask to be taught. It may be taking that first guitar lesson from a friend. It may be your first three chickens I hand you in April, or a song you hear on a drive home from work that splits open your heart and makes up your mind that this is the year, the blessed year, you put the apartment up for sale and move to a place with a well and a lawn.

Tonight that is all I want to stress. Its an old homily from this well-worn soapbox: start where you are. Dreams are like caged beasts, they need to tended to, fed constantly or they perish. If some part of you wants a herd of goats, and you are reading this on the subway, then you need to order a goat care book and set it on your nightstand and read it every night. You need to email some goat farms a train ride away, or invest with friends in a rental car and get out there and actually milk an Alpine. Workshops, extension classes, phone calls and more. Buy that water bath canning kit and some strawberries (even if they are out of season, to hell with it) and learn to can jam. Get a subscription to a farm magazine, join a National Organization. Hell, I was a member of NEBCA for three years before I owned my own border collie. Just get started, there is no reason to wait any longer and the more you do all you will gain is regret. Trust me.

No more long sighs, okay? You are the only person who can start changing your life. Take the reins and snap that horse cart.

photo of jasper from 468photography.com

tim's photos from the wool workshop!









all photos by tim from 468photography.com

giles and sue (and their new pigs)

Here's a clip from this series, a BBC wonderfest of backyard homesteading. I think it is hilarious, and have been enjoying the series online before the office. Have fun with these two, folks.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

a little snow

They are calling for snow tonight, a few inches, nothing drastic. I am looking forward to it with ferocious anticipation. Remember when I mentioned how restraint, scarcity, and hard work make all those simple comforts so much the more? Well, it goes for the entire farm as well. Tonight as the snow falls I can fall asleep knowing some amazing things. I have nearly refilled my freezer with wholesome meat and did right by the ends of two fine pigs. I filled the barn with 30 bales of green hay. I was delivered to this farm late in the day and as I climbed up into the bed of the large pickup, I realized it was easy for me to personally pick up and toss 30 fifty pound bales. I am not bragging here, but appreciating this hefty body of mine. I am always, always hard on myself about my looks and yet this vessel I have been given can do such labor, can run a farm. I may wish to wear a size 8 jean again, and will (mark my words), but tonight I am just so happy it is alive and able. I have arms and hands and legs and heart. It still beats, it still loves the world, and it still hopes. I don't care how fat, thin, young, or old you are: this is our gift tonight.

Jasper was seen to this morning by a farrier. The little firecracker was calm as a swaybacked drafthorse at the county fair. I met a new and grand farrier and soon as he left the trio of butchers arrived and I thought to myself, What must these men think of me? A women alone with working ponies, pigs to slaughter, and chickens running around like toddlers at a town park? Whatever they think, they are kind and keep it to themselves.

I brewed ten gallons of beer this weekend. Five with Kate on Friday night and five just now while typing the pork post. It is fermenting as we speak. Five of said gallons are a Coffee Stout Porter and another five are an English honey-brown ale. I am loving home brewing, so much. I love soaking the bag of grains in the nearly boiling water and then pouring in the malt, boiling it and adding hops. I love adding my honey at the end, an hour of boiling later and filling the house with bubbling. And I adore sharing those beers with friends, and letting folks know they too can carbonate and kick one back! As the video I watched said: if you can make mac-n-cheese out of a box, you can brew beer. Hell yeah.

So tonight the barn is loaded with hay, the animals are fed and content, Jasper has better feet, the pigs are on their way to being sausage, and ten gallons of magic is brewing in my kitchen. A pot of wool is soaking in the bathroom to clean. The dogs are fed and walked and the only thing left to do is unwind and call it a night. Snow comes, and as it comes I hope it purifies more than the chicken-poo covered ground. I hope it cleans up my head and my angry thoughts about my body or status. I am a lucky and clever little wolf, and I have a body to prove it. And it only gets better, long as that is my goal and belief.

I'm happy tonight. I hope you are, too.

pork

The following post goes into detail about exactly what happens during a farm kill by a mobile slaughterhouse team. It is a graphic post, with both graphic words and photographic descriptions. If you do not want to read about the slaughter or see the pictures (which should start below the fold of this page, as a courtesy) than please ignore this post. I understand some readers may be upset, and we are all entitled to own our feelings about diet. I am not posting this to offend anyone, nor telling them that backyard meat is what they should do. It's what I do. I am proud of the animals and food I raise. So read on if you like, and if you don't, then simply shut the browser and check back later and I promise the next post will not include a dead animal (well, I certainly hope not!).

There were only two shots fired from Greg Stratton's .22 Magnum rifle. The first dropped Bacon instantly, and she fell into the pen's hay with a thrashing thud. The second took a few seconds to aim at, since Kevin was certainly confused by the commotion and ran around the pen, but he didn't run for long. Ten seconds later one shot hit him squarely in the head and he too hit the ground, flailing as much as Bacon did. Their thrashing was normal, it is what happens. It's not pretty and the combination of bullet holes and chaos made for a very messy end.

In Kristin Kimball's The Dirty Life she writes about how different animals die. How the steers seem to drop with a force stronger than gravity (she says so do sheep), how chickens flap and seem to panic, and how pigs scream and bleed and thrash. She said when she started farming, she thought these were the beasts' personalities coming out in their deaths: the calm steer, the quirky chicken, the charismatic pigs, but after a while that assumption died with the livestock as she witnessed more and more deaths. It was a series of synapses and nerves, a chemical reaction of the end of a life. I agree with her observation. What I saw in the pen was not a piteous flailing, but a last explosion of life, the mind's finale of fireworks sent through the parts it has always controlled and moved. The struggle was energy leaving the body and moved into another form. A mystery and a gift, that.

Soon as both pigs were shot one of Greg's assistants, a gentleman from the Eagle Bridge Slaughterhouse close by, jumped right into the pen and slit their throats. If there was any life left in the two hogs, it was gone within moments of that significant artery being sliced. The blood covered the hay that made their bed the night before. Jasper was about five feet away and showed zero emotion. His ears did perk up at the gunshot, but as they died he just ate his hay outside.

Once still, a large hook on a wooden handle as slid into each pigs' mouth and then the animals were dragged across the farm one at a time to the Stratton Truck: our little farming community's abattoir on wheels. While getting the pigs hocks onto the two hooks that would lift them up to chest level for skinning and gutting, Greg told me he did in three steers this morning for one of my coworkers. He had come recommended by the Daughton's, who used him for Tasty the cow a few weeks earlier. This was a man well appreciated and it showed why in his careful work, he was professional the entire time.


Once the pigs were both hooked, the skinning process could begin. First Greg sawed off the feet at the ankles, and threw them too the ground. I couldn't help but smirk and take a picture, there I was again, looking at carcass feet on a sunny winter day: this time, porker edition. Soon after the feet left their heavenly body, so did the heads. One of the gents cut out the tongue for me and asked me, while dumping it in the bucket of hot water, if I'd like to keep it. He held it right up to my face, and it felt almost like a character test. Could she handle seeing a tongue cut off a dead head and sloshed in a bucket and then still eat it? Darling, I wanted to say, as if a little tongue ever made me shy? Who do you think you're dealing with here, son?

Instead I smiled and asked, "I never ate pig tongue, before. Is it good?"

Greg chimed in at this, "A pig tongue is good eatin'. You boil it with bay leaves and it makes a great meal. Can't beat it."

"I'll take them!" What the hell. You only live once. It's the only tongue I'll be getting anyway next week.


After my lesson/recipe, the two pigs were skinned expertly, starting at their hoofless ankles, down around their inner thigh, and then the tail and bum area were removed. From there the pig skinned just like I would skin a rabbit, starting with shallow cuts near the skin and then peeling away easily. I watched the blood-soaked animals, all hair and chaos moments ago, being slipped off like a bad memory. As if their death was an outfit and instead of being naked, there was just food under their coats.

I was asked what I wanted to do with the heads, feet, offal, and such. I went and grabbed the wheelbarrow I mucked the stall with earlier this week and parked it right by the hanging pigs. That'll do the job, it has done worse.

Post skinning, it was time to disembowel. The animals were cut open right down their middles and their organs came out, clean and bloodless, in one package. This is called the offal, and it isn't awful at all. Because these fellas were experts no stomach opened or intestine shared their putrid inside smells. In fact, the entire process had no unpleasant smells at all. It was a beautiful 30+ degree day dappled in sunshine. The conversation was casual and happy, about the farm and how long I lived here, about deer harvests and their work. It's not a somber thing, at least not sad. Their death means so much bounty for this little farm and its guests. Folks coming to the farm soon as next week's mountain music workshop will be chowing down on slow-cooked shoulder roasts of pulled pork sandwiches at lunch. I celebrate these animals, and do so with respect in my joy. If that makes no sense to you, just wait till you bite into your first home-raised pork chop. Things change.

While the men went on with their work, Greg sidled up to me with a clipboard and order sheet. We went through a detailed list of packages and cuts. It was so detailed I got to pick how many slices of bacon went into a package and how many chops made it into another. I got to choose how heavy the smoked hams would be, and what kind of sausage I wanted (breakfast, Italian sweet or spicy, or meat ready to grind.) I chose all of them!

The wheelbarrow was filled soon with the pile of bloody hides, heads, feet and organs. It was set to the side, kinda of watching the whole thing go on. Later, I would carry the thing back into the woods to dump off the ridge down a steep slope. The crows would host a levee in my honor soon as they found out. I owe crows a lot, they are lucky to this girl, and I am glad to offer them dinner too.

Next the animals were to be halved, and this was the final step in the process. Greg plugged in his big ol' meat saw and made short work of the job. The halves were hanging in the sunlight and I looked on at them, at the barrow of dead parts, and at the four people who made this happen today. Then, realizing with a sheepish smile, it was far more than four people who would create hundreds of meals for me and mine. There was the breeder upstate who sold me his own stock, Tara who joined me on the adventure and helped me set them up in their new home. It was the folks at Wayside who offered their scraps as food saving me tons of cash) and all the folks saving scraps at workshops and birthday parties at the office. My pigs ate well, grew well, lived well, and died well. This is something to be proud of, and I am. Proud and grateful for all involved and enjoying my wolfish grin as I think about the recipes ahead and the ability I have now to barter and trade for things I don't have right now, like turkey or duck or a bed of vegetable starts.


So how did I feel about it? I didn't feel any guilt, nor any disgust, or anything beyond a scientific interest in what was going on and a desire to learn the trade myself. That doesn't mean I wasn't mindful of what happened, it's just that it gets easier and it gets to be more about the bigger picture than one or two deaths. I can only say that time offers this and it was much easier than last year's Pig. And I can not stress how lucky I am to have a professional team like this come out, for what I consider a good price: fifty dollars a pig, talk about a reasonable fee. Then I buy my meat back from him at the shop later this week, all frozen and packaged and ready to enjoy and the smoked pieces a week or two later. As a small farmer with a full time job and other things to tend to (this day also included a farrier visit and 30-bale hay drop off) it is a blessing having pros come and take care of this and then offer me packaged roasts and sausages for a dollar a pound (or whatever his rate was). I am expecting to pay around 280 dollars total for the whole ordeal. Not bad for 140+ pounds of home-grown meat.

Of course, it isn't about the money or the deal. It's all more than that, but what I want to stress before I head off to bed is this: You can raise your own bacon and hams. It wasn't hard, or expensive, nor did it take a lot of space or equipment. I built them a pen in the corner of a barn with hog panels, deep bedded them every other day, and offered them fresh water and food morning and night. There were no vets or antibiotics, wormers or pills, or anything unnatural used in their rearing. They got to keep their tails, keep their noses free of rings, and spent every day being scratched behind the ears and given space to root into the hay looking for corn kernels, tussle, and scratch their big asses on the wall. This kind of pork is rare in this country, but only because folks like us haven't had at it yet. If you have the land and space, I say give a pig a try next year if you enjoy pork, bacon, or hams. It is nothing a person with a house cat can't handle, and you don't have to be there like I was at their ends. That said, I bet there are mobile units like Greg's all over the nation and you can find out about them from livestock vets, auction houses, feed stores, and friends. You can do this too, if you want to. I promise you that.

Thank you for reading along. Hope some of you get to come over and enjoy their reincarnation as farm meals in the months to come.

goodbye kevin and bacon

Just in from feeding Kevin and Bacon their last meal, homemade apple pie. They ate like they always do, with pure bliss and purpose. In a few hours the butcher will be here to shoot, hang, skin and disembowel the two hogs and then load them into his truck to be wrapped and smoked. The next time I see them they'll be in plastic vacuum sealed freezer wrap as chops, bacon, and hams.

While I am prepared, I am always emotionally hit by such events. I don't feel guilt, but you can't raise an animal from a young thing without bonding on some level. So in a way, the Slaughter day is both a celebration of bounty and a time to pause, be grateful, and understand on a visceral level how much blood goes into glossy photos of restaurant dishes in magazines. And after a short spread of time that gore ebbs and flows into recipes and gatherings with friends, or sausage making work parties over home brewed mugs of beer. The death becomes a reason another story goes on. That is how it has always worked, but having a farm means I get to understand it. The difference between watching birds and hang gliding.

I have chosen to be a part of the entire story of my future meals. It's better this way.

P.S. The next post will be about the slaughter, there will be photos and content about how a farm kill and slaughter is done on small homesteads. If it makes you uncomfortable to see dead animals, skip the post. I think this is fair warning.

a bunch of black sheep

When I planned to host this winter wool work class I had visualized something very particular. I imagined people driving through snow squalls to the farm from apartments and cities all around, braving the winter weather to be welcomed into the warm embrace of a wood stove. I imagined snow-covered sheep watching us from their hay piles, a pony warm in his stall, and folks knitting to music and noshing on comfort foods like soup and chili spooned out of mason jars, lost in conversation. That wasn't how it went at all.

Instead the thermometer almost reached fifty degrees and I stood inside the hay bale chicken coop holding a 6-week old Freedom Ranger by the body explaining their story and place in the farm's plan. I was in a light sweater, jeans, and bandana. I wasn't even wearing wool. You could see every puddle of water, legions of mud, ugly bit of trash, and every other imperfection and ugliness working farms have. There was a flooded mud room with a black pipe, a cat scared to leave her realm behind the washing machine, and folks who booked a hotel room downtown ended up being bumped to a local B&B because Gordon Ramsey's film crew needed their hotel rooms...

That said: yesterday's Black Sheep Wool Workshop was one of the best events the far has ever hosted. Readers from Montreal, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New York, and just down route 22. The weather wasn't frightful, but the food was plentiful and all the guests seemed to enjoy the event. We started out with brunch, then went on a short warm-weather farm tour, then came inside to learn how to handwash, card, and spin wool with a drop spindle. After a while the energy of the event took over and I just stood back and watched. Two people were winding the drum carder with four others sat with their spindles. A pair of dedicated attendees with an open copy of the ol' Reader Digests' Back to Basics, tried to get someone's spinning machine to work. Others were already starting to learn how to knit on the supplies they brought from home. Tim Bronson stopped by for a few minutes to take photos of the event and the pigs' last day. (In a few hours they will be slaughtered). I can't wait to show you what he shot, including many photos of King George, who wasn't shy of crowds and spent the day in the middle of the workshop, loafing about, large and in charge.

After a hearty lunch we all just enjoyed the quiet fervor of a knitting circle, people sitting all over the farmhouse knitting and chatting until the lights started to fade and the table lamps needed to be lit. It went well over the usual workshop end time and none of us cared, knitting is a five-course meal.

I loved this event, and I especially enjoyed meeting the folks who I only know as emails and comment names. Everyone was so kind, some brought gifts (like Taylor Ham Pork Roll from New Jersey, jonquils, and letterpress images of sheep, horses, and bee keeping!) and there was left over food to feed several more people than I planned, folks went home with whatever I could unload on them. Some left with garbage bags of fleece (no joke). Some left with a plate of pie and a smile.

Some folks left eventually because they were going to be filmed at the "reveal dinner" of the new Gordon Ramsey show filming downtown. They had no idea (neither did I) when they signed up for a CAF class it would coincide with the Cambridge Hotel's filming of Hotel Hell , and while they did get bumped from their rooms they were invited to be at the dinner and in the television program. Who knew they'd learn to hand wash wool and then get on a reality show?

So today, post workshop is a day of reloading and re-upping the farms needs. The farrier comes today (new appointment time), the pigs are done in, and a truckload of hay gets delivered. Usual management, plus heavier moments like gunshots and butchering. It'll be a long one, but rest at sunset will be savored like Cathy Daughton's potato soup...

Next Saturday: Mountain Music Workshop at the farm! Still 3 spots left if anyone wants to come and learn the basics of making traditional stringed Appalachian style music part of your life. It starts with wanting to learn. It is that simple.