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.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

My office

How can you not love this view?
This is what I see when I look to my right as I am seated at my computer and trying to work on all these huge winter projects.
Back to work.
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The order of things

It's been interesting to observe the order we've been moving things. Some of it is because we're moving to town, and so even if we are eventually going to donate the items to the second hand store, or the library book sale, they still have to come to town with us. However, I still find it interesting that the majority of what we have moved so far is books, book shelves and livestock supplies. And that I'm starting to feel moved in at this point!
This is the kitchen, from the living room at Haven house. I love the open great room. That way I am not isolated when cooking. I started hanging pictures the last few days. We haven't moved much furniture yet, but pictures seemed more important. I was laughing at myself when I shared that with Lena. She responded that of course pictures were important, they cut down on the echo. I must have raised that girl right - to find practical reasons for absurd actions!

Shawn has been busy filling orders, teaching classes and trying to restock his broom shop, so he hasn't had time to help with moving. That also has an effect on what has been moved, thus far. Lena and I will be sharing a studio now in what might have been called the family room. My triloom, her fibers and dyestuffs, all the remaining fleeces and my rigid heddle are all set up in there. All we're missing is the Newcomb and my diamond shelf - and about half a dozen tubs of yarn. Shawn's hoping to get a few of his friends to help him move his workshop this coming week. That's about one truckload of tools and tables and three truck loads of wood.

The one room that is coming together fairly easily is the office. While we need several more book cases in here and we are hoping to get a futon from a friend when they clear out their storage shed, it looks like this is going to be a relaxing, good working room. It has a south facing window and a wonderful view of the sheep pasture. I can see getting back to doing some serious writing in this room.
So that's the current state of moving from Meadowcreek to Haven Croft. Tomorrow, Tina Marie has offered to loan us her horse trailer. With Arjuna's help, we finished fencing the angora run and most of the horse's paddock. I worked a little on the sheep fence this morning. I think maybe, we can get most, if not all, the animals moved in the next two days and finish fencing/shelter after they are here.
I'll let you know how things are progressing.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Are you moved yet?

Are you moved yet?
I keep hearing this question. It's chatty, positive and friendly. The answer is "no". And yes, everybody has offered to help. I just can't figure out how to fit that help into the schedule!

I actually did write up a schedule of loads/packing/fence building and animal moving. And we are pretty much on schedule, with the final clean up in Meadowcreek finishing over the New Year holiday.
The animals are a primary consideration, with comfortable sleeping space for humans coming a close second. As soon as we move the first flock of animals to Haven Croft we have to divide the human forces, because someone will need to be spending the night with the animals at the new place and also with the ones at the old place.

I am wrapping moving around my work schedule. Last week I put in more than 64 hours at work. Then I go home and load the truck with Lena's help. We finish chores, milk and fall into bed. Then in the morning, I fret because the truck isn't full, putter around trying to find more stuff to fill it and head in to work - now running late. After work, I stop by Haven Croft and unload the truck.

Shawn is busy trying to finish filling orders and restocking his broom shop for the upcoming Ozark Holidays craft show at the Ozark Folk Center. He's having trouble with the local hardware store not getting him the right parts and his workshop is still a hard hour's drive from town. We really need to take the time to put walls on the carport at Haven so he can move his workshop down to town.

Today, Arjuna is down for a visit and to help. As soon as he and Lena get chores done in Meadowcreek and get Lena's car loaded (probably with more books!) they are going to come into Mountain View and I'll take a long lunch to work on finishing the angora goat pen and shed. Even though it's a cold and dreary day, I'll try to take some pictures.

We're looking at being moved enough to invite everyone for a potluck gather on Dec. 19. I'll keep you updated on how it's all going.

Thanks to everyone for your best wishes and positive thoughts. Now - I've got to get back to work!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Candle shop

We're working on Holiday Season planning here at the Ozark Folk Center. We'll be open Thurdsay-Saturday through Dec. 19. One shop that's always in the spirit is the Candle Shop. Owned by Jeff and Traci Glover, they specialize in hand-dipped bees wax tapers. They take special orders and ship anywhere. They are in the process of building a web site, but for now, if you want to get in touch with them, give me a holler.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Postable momments

So often as I work through my day and my various lives, I think "This would make a great blog post."
Sometimes it's simple things, like the little Scrappy dog conning the new puppy out of his chewy toy and hiding it in a chair that is too high for him to reach.
Other times it is an indepth commentary on pricing craft items and energy flow or the importance of place to the development of any complete theme, that I work out in my head as I'm weaving.
But so many of those are lost, because I don't take the time to sit down at the computer.
Chronicling life has always been an interest of mine. A friend pointed out that it is hard though to both live a life that is interesting enough to be worth recording, while also having the time to write it down!
We are in the process of getting ready for Off The Beaten Path Studio Tour. The tour is tomorrow through Sunday. In spite of the rain, and in large part thanks to the efforts of Sage Holland, beadmaker, whose picture is here, I think we are fairly ready. Sage has put a lot of effort into getting the studio and the area around it looking good. Sage and Tom will have their beads on display, Rosemary will have her chain maille, Lena will have her dyed rovings and yarns and Shawn will be working on some trilooms.
I'll be warping my Newcomb and weaving on the tri and rigid heddle. Hopefully you all can make it down to visit. Drive careful and we'll see you soon.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Another day gone

There was something I was going to do yesterday. I didn't get it done. Yesterday is gone, I can't make it up. Now today is almost over.
That's been my life lately. Deadlines snowball, I think of projects in terms of the ones that aren't complete. I watch unfinished projects fall into the oblivion of too late to be useful.
I'm at a wonderful retreat/seminar and not relaxing because I keep checking my email and finding complaints about deadlines missed, projects behind schedule or people needing information that is on my desk.
How sick is that?
And how can I even complain when I'm going to type up this latest project and then go soak in the hot tub.
I have no solutions.
Life and its complexities....

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Fast Fruit

Lena and I went up to Foxbriar today to work in the garden. Lena picked three watermelons from her wild watermelon plants. They are still blooming like mad and threatening to take over the strawberry patch, again.
There is a muscadine grape outside the garden. Currently it grows up a tree, but we want to move it to the kitchen gazebo this fall. It is loaded with fruit this year. Today, there were 3 purple grapes on the vines. Muscadines grow singly, not in bunches. I picked them. They were still pucker-up tart.
I hope the rest are ripe and still there next weekend when I get back up to the garden.
That's been a problem all summer. The cherry trees were full of fruit this spring. It was almost ripe one weekend, and gone the next. Last year we picked cherries for weeks.
The blueberries were the same story, though we knew they were a bit scarce this year. The bushes had fruit, but not a lot. Last year we frozen 15 lbs of berries, sold several gallons and ate them to our heart's content. This year, we ate a pint - and then they were all gone.
We picked black berries two weekends, before there were none to be found. Last summer my arms were scarred well into August from the brambles.
I've been waiting all summer for the fabulous white peaches at the Ozark Folk Center. Every couple days, I'd go by and give them a gentle squeeze to see if they were ripe. They were rock hard when they started rotting at the stem end and falling off the trees. The potter's said they got a few good ones, but I didn't even get one.
The turkey brown figs all ripened quickly and are done. Now we're waiting on the big juicy Texas reds.
The weather this summer has been cool, with regular rains. It has been great for the humans, we feel very blessed, but we've had to be fast to catch the fruit.

Saturday, August 22, 2009


The air today is warm, but with a crispy cool edge. I'd swear it feels a bit like fall...
Fall - on August 22 in Arkansas?
And then I heard people walking by my office door.
"Just need a little more color in the leaves," said a man's voice.

Yup, it feels like fall. Climate change?
Speaking of change.
We all know, the only thing that remains the same is change.
We are house looking, shopping, searching. Spending way too many hours when I should be working driving. Taking time when I ought to be weaving before Studio Tour looking at houses.
But the daily drive to Meadow Creek has just gotten to be too much and too long. And one of the Meadow Creek board members told me that they are thinking that farming and a wildlife refuge are not a good mix. We have a farm.
So we are looking at houses and looking at options. One option is to move some house trailers we've found up on to Foxbrair - but it is still 24 miles to the Folk Center, which is really where I live right now and hopefully for many years to come.
We have four possibilities on our plates at the moment -
4 acres off Meisenheimer Rd., 8 miles from the Folk Center and between the Center and Foxbriar.
2 house trailers we could move up to Foxbriar for less than $3,000.
A friend's house in Alco where she wants us to house sit indefinitely.
And to keep our eyes open while we get back to work and work on stock for Studio Tour and Artisan's Market.
So, we'll see what the fates have in store for us now.
Prayers, thoughts, calls and good energy are more than welcome.
hugs to all, Jen

Friday, April 24, 2009

Summer arrives

Spring arrived right on time. On a drive to Memphis on March 21, we watched the trees begin to leaf out during a soothing soaking rain. The dogwoods bloomed and the daffodillies danced. Mom Nature followed the calendar.
Just two weeks ago I took a vacation to shear sheep and plant the garden. The whole week the weather was blustery, it was much colder than I wanted to make sheep naked. It was too cold to make playing in the dirt sound like fun. It was still spring.
I did get lots done. We cleared up lots of downed trees and limbs from the ice storm, spent time with friends and family, wove a beautiful handbag that sold right away and 4 of the nicest rugs I've woven this year.
So I headed back to work. Opening weekend at the Ozark Folk Center was a great fun event. Lots of people came and visited with the musicians and crafters. Sales were good at the Center and down on the Square. We had a few big thunderstorms that were a challenge for vendors on the Square, but the visitors seemed content to ride out the weather and stay in town through the festival.
Then, on April 22, Summer Arrived. All of a sudden, the green went from neon spring to lush. I heard my first whipporwill that night and saw the fire flies dancing in the trees. We put away the wool blanket, found the window fan and moved into summer.
It's a good thing that Lena's home to shear all those sheep!

Saturday, January 10, 2009

My commute

We played a new game the other night at game night at Joy's Cafe in Mountain View. The game is call Apples to Apples and it is an incredible amount of fun. It's fairly non-competitive and gets you paying attention to the people you are playing with.
The game involves matching words and making decisions. Every player is dealt a handful of red word cards. Then a green word card is play openly on the table. You have to look at your words and match the one on the table.
So the word in the middle of the table might be "Disgusting" and the players decide to throw "Chickens" "Hairballs" "John Travolta" "the Far Left" and what ever they have in their hand that might fit with the first card. Then the person who dealt that hand gets to decide which word fits the best. They may use opposites, a weird sense of humor and their own experiences to decide. So, you learn quite a bit about the people you are playing with.
At one point on my deal, I threw out the word "Relaxing". There were several responses that were good, but the one I chose amazed me. When I thought of my current life and it's circumstances - the most relaxing concept on the table was "my commute".
When I took the job at the Ozark Folk Center, I worried about the hour commute each direction. I get car sick and our roads make some roller coasters look tame. But as the year has gone along, I have come to enjoy that time on the road. When Shawn and I go together we talk and sing and connect with each other in a way we don't during our busy days. And when I travel alone, it is quiet and meditative. I can think and plan and relax. That funny word, relaxing. My two hours a day on the road to work are relaxing.
And I wouldn't have realized it if it wasn't for game night.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Game night

Yesterday was so much fun - it might put New Year's eve right up there on my list of favorite holidays.
I'm still sorting files at work. I'm half way through the C's. I've read interesting contract labor decisions, country kitchen aquisitions and lots of history on the blacksmith shop. It's a good thing I have most of a month for this project, it's gonna take it.
Amy, I think I found the instrument templates you wanted. They were filed under "Art" - not Leather, Instruments, Music or Design, where I had looked for them!
At two o'clock, Shawn and I went to a wonderful reception at Wright and Jo's house. Wright is the Executive Director of the Arkansas Craft School, as well as an uber-talented woodturner and an all around wonderful, visionary person. Jo is a warm, beautiful person and a fantastic cook! We had a very nice, short visit with lots of friends that we hadn't seen much recently. Topics ranged from photography, to shops at the Folk Center, the Holiday weekend in town, Dexter cattle, air filtration units, travel, Charleston and lots more. Our visit was short because I had to be back to answer the phones.
Most of the calls we are getting right now are from people wanting to come to the Folk Center and being very disappointed we are closed. I think we're averaging about 12-15 a day. After the holidays, I'll at least be able to let people know that some of our crafters are out working in their studios.
After work we went to game night at Joy's Cafe. It's hard to explain how much fun this is. We went planning to play for a bit and be home before midnight, but after a couple of rounds of Train, a domino's game and then some wild hands of Apples to Apples, a card game, Joy grabbed the sparkling grape juice and we all toasted the new year.
May your days be bright and the rains be frequent and gentle.
Hugs to all, Jen