Friday, December 25, 2009

Where reality meets dreams, or Merry Christmas from DogPatch

Merry Christmas!

When Shawn bought Havencroft (just this Nov. 1, only 55 days ago!) we had big plans for a big barn. We have some of the materials and the plans and the space and the animals. We really wanted it to be pretty and we planned it that way.

But the reality is, we are moving around a busy work schedule. Moving, building fences and working all take time. In the last 55 days we have closed on the house, pulled up and moved 5 pastures worth of fencing. We have fenced 5 very large paddocks for the horse and llama, the angora goats, the sheep, the dairy goats and the cow. We have also kept up a busy work schedule and moved much of the household, dye studio, weaving studio and woodworking studio.

The animals need to be kept dry and warm and healty. So... the tent up on the hill is the horse's barn. The tarped plywood sheds belong to the angora goats. For now, our beautiful dream farm with all its fancy matching barns is going to be a dream - no - a goal - for the not to distant future. And the animals are going to be as dry and warm as we can keep them with tents and tarps and plywood.

You do what you can and what you gotta do. Pretty comes later.

I hope you and yours are safe and dry and warm. Merry Christmas and I wish you a happy new year full of dreams fulfilled.

Huzzah and Happy Holidays

Today is the end of extended season at the Ozark Folk Center. It's that bitter-sweet happy-sad that is strangely subdued with extended season. We've got to find ways to spark enthusiasm and cement commitment for next extended season.
We're now closed until Folk School in March. Time to inventory, clean offices, write budgets and plan for next year... shifting gears.
I'm taking two weeks off work. It was going to be to visit Colorado, now it's to wrap up the move. Sometimes you get the feeling that your plans are sort of irrelevant?
Merry Christmas all!!

Monday, December 14, 2009


We moved to Arkansas for water. After the worst drought ever in Colorado, 2.25 inches of rain in the YEAR 2002,  I wanted to find a place where we'd never have to worry about having enough water to keep our animals healthy and to grow a garden. Even in the drought, the Mountain View area still got 34 inches of rain in a year. With water conservation measures and redundancies, I know we could manage on that.
So... I love water, I love rain, I love wet, I love green. I don't complain too much about mold or mildew, they come with the wet. I didn't complain about having 22 days of rain in October, though it wiped the leaves off the trees before they turned color and lowered visitorship to our tourist town.
But now at Haven, we have something we have not had anywhere else in Arkansas - clay soil. Which means we have mud. Muddy dogs, muddy boots, muddy goats, muddy sheep, muddy floors, muddy milk, muddy pants, mud, mud, mud, mud, mud. I can't even shower, get dressed in my office work clothes and get to the car without getting mud somewhere on my clothing.... and it hasn't really rained in weeks.
Mark and Lisa, the next door neighbors say the water comes down from springs on the hill behind us. That's a wonderful blessing in the dry times... but this mud stuff is going to take some different management.
Today we are going up to Foxbriar to borrow Sully the chipper/shreader from Robin and Summer. We have ice storm downed trees. We are going to chip all those and start building dry berms for the animals. Tina suggested getting crushed limestone and building high dry gravel spots. We'll do that as soon as we get a few dollars ahead.
We'll deal with it, work around it and in the end be thankful again for the water that makes the mud. But today - I'm hollering "UNCLE!"

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Sheep move to Haven Croft

We moved the sheep up to their new pasture at Haven Croft yesterday. It's about twice as big as their old "home" pen. Thanks to Tina Marie, who loaned us her trailer, Lena and I were able to move the whole flock in two easy loads. The angoras have been living at Haven about a week and they were so happy to see the sheep that the smashed down the fence between the two pens and visited. We fixed that droopy section of fence and got everybody back in their own pens.
Pequena the llama was given the choice of whose pen she wanted to be in and she opted to stay with the angoras. They are brattier, but I do think they are more vulnerable to predators, so I might have made that decision for her anyway.
We do see quite a few loose dogs and hear the coyotes sing, so I like having protection for the lower-on-the-food-chain critters. We plan on moving the dairy goats and cow and the last two dogs tomorrow. I've sold the rabbits, but they haven't been picked up yet, so I guess I need to find a place for them, too. Then all the animals will be moved and we just have the studios and the rest of the household items. We keep moving and feeling like we're about half done...
It got down to 16 degrees last night, but it was dry and still, so everybody did fine. The sheep had trouble finding new places to bed down, but they eventually settled. The bright moonlight helped everyone stay comfortable. At one point when I checked on the sheep, a bright shooting star zipped across the ridge behind the house. It was breath-taking.
This morning, I checked on them about daylight and they were all still bedded down in the pasture. Half and hour later, I looked out and there were no sheep to be seen. I yanked open the back door, getting ready to run out in my wooly slippers and flannel night gown. Cute little white sheep faces peered up at me from the cedar grove at the back of their pen. They had discovered that they have access to a bit of the woods.