Saturday, April 21, 2012

Fruit Soup - you might call it a smoothie

My mom always believed in breakfast. She still does. And my dad makes the best pancakes in the world. But at least since I started school, I think I've always been in a hurry.

So, pretty much every morning since I can remember, I drink my breakfast. When I was younger, it was Carnation Instant Breakfast. As I got older, I'd throw things that were healthy - yogurt, fruit, wheat grass juice, oats - into the blender and drink it down. When I had kids, my breakfast needed a name. We call it Fruit Soup.

Fruit soup for breakfast on the deck outside my office
at the Ozark Folk Center.
My current favorite fruit soup blend is:

about 3 cups fresh goat's milk kefir
2 apples, quartered
1 cup rolled oats
1 frozen peach (there are no fresh ones right now)
1 cup cold herbal tea (usually Tension Tamer from the night before)

If I can get my hands on any berries, I throw them in, either in place of the peaches or added to the mix.
Blend all this on high for several minutes. Drink half of it for breakfast and leave the other half in the blender for tomorrow. Put the blender bowl in the fridge. Whip it up the next morning for a few minutes before you drink it.

Now "smoothies" are all the rage. A friend just shared her new smoothie recipe with me. My thought was, "that's nothing new, it's just fruit soup." Luckily, I didn't say it out loud.

Have a great morning!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My Communication Bead

Last year for my birthday my dear friend Sage Holland gave me a beautiful bead that depicts a white crane on a tropical background of color. The first time I wore it, several people asked me if it was a heron and I realized where the bead fit into my storyline.

Bead by Sage Holland
My daughter Lena has a star-crossed relationship with birds. When she was born, I had a scarlet headed conure. The parrot was jealous of the new little human. The baby would cry, the parrot would shriek and after about 6 weeks, I traded the bird for a python. I had Sheba for about seven years before she moved on to a new home with a breeder.

When Lena started walking, we had a duck that had hatched out and bonded with people. His name was Lucky Duck. The duck decided he was higher on the pecking order than the shaky little human and so he would attack Lena when ever she went outside. It took a while to find a new home for Lucky, because he kept coming back.

Lena was about 6 or 7 when we went canoeing on Pueblo reservoir with my parents. We paddled in and out of coves. We saw lots of fish and wildlife. We pulled into a little inlet, looking for a place for a picnic lunch and my mom said, "Shhh, look there's a heron." We all admired the beautiful bird who was fishing in the shallows. All of us that is, except for the little girl in the middle of the canoe, who looked at the huge bird with the very long pointed beak and was terrified into silence. She was sure that if she made any little noise the horrible creature would come shrieking over and attack us.

I think that we found another cove to eat lunch in that day, I don't really remember. In fact I barely remembered the canoe trip at all, until, as an adult, Lena told me her version of the story. Since then, "Shh, there's a heron" has become family code for  "We might not be communicating here, let's back up and figure out what we meant."

With a lot of changes going on at work, people are out-of-balance and worried. That often makes them quick to react when they perceive something as dangerous. I'm wearing my bead quite a bit lately and trying to watch out for perceptions of monsters. I'm finding ways at work to share the concept of "Shh, there's a heron."

Saturday, April 14, 2012

My weaver's desk

One of the student's in my cheesemaking class yesterday pointed out that it looked funny for me to be standing in front of them in a long skirt and apron at the same time I was trying to access information from google on my android. We had a great discussion about how it all works together in art, craft and life - blending the old and the new in all that I do. I love the big pockets of my aprons and the easy flow of my long skirts. And I love my car, refrigeration and the internet!

The best of all worlds - my loom and my laptop.

Sunday, April 08, 2012

Growing my garden, organically

I just came in from planting the blackberries and Jerusalem artichokes that Leesa brought me from her home in Alabama. She also brought me some black raspberries. I thought I'd take a quick lunch and rest my back.  I grabbed the box of strawberries out of the fridge to go with my kefir. These are store-bought strawberries. Phooey! They are just about tasteless. I have three different types of strawberries in my garden, so hopefully I'll have some real berries soon. There is little that I like better than berries, berries that taste like berries!

Today I'm also planting sweet basil and Black Prince tomatoes and poke and stevia. A pretty eclectic mix. My sweet potato slips are growing so fast on the window sill that I can almost see them stretch. They'll be ready to go into the ground in early May. The Yukon Gold and Red potatoes are doing great in the garden as are the peas, onions, beets, rhubarb, chard and strawberries. We just picked all the flowers off the baby blueberries to make them put their energy into growing bigger and stronger this year.

I'm not planting a big garden this year, but I am hungering for real food, so I am being a little more serious about it. Last year almost everything I planted in the spring drowned in the very wet May we had. So, this year, I'm doing raised gardens. During the walkway construction at work, they brought in pallets with wire hoops holding rock for the seat walls. These hoops are now in the process of becoming my raised beds. I'm putting them in areas where it is easy to water them and where they will get the drainage that I think the plant needs and the amount of sun it seems to want.

My garden is growing organically, by working with the plants and our land. It is a process and I'm willing to accept that it is going to take time. Maybe the rest of my life.

My garden in progress 4-8-12. Wire framed raised beds, hugel kulture pile in process, rainbow chard, center left.
At the moment, my garden looks kinda like a junkyard with wire hoops and piles of lumber and dirt mixed in with both planted greenery and enthusiastic weeds. But, it's my garden, for my purposes at my home and I don't really have to worry too much what it looks like. And, I know the direction that I am going with it. I really do want it to be pretty, some year soon, but I don't want to push, plan, chart and organize it. I want it to grow, healthy, wholesome, tasty and naturally. And yet, I do find myself trying to explain and interpret it to anybody who comes over. I don't want to apologize for it, because I know how really cool it is, but it does look like a junkyard.

One of the big pushes right now at work is to collect, develop and publish a master plan for the Ozark Folk Center Heritage Herb Garden. The whole plan exists in many documents, posters and ideas that Tina Marie Wilcox has, and has had for many years, but it needs to be collated, communicated and published so that everybody in the park not only knows the direction she is headed with the gardens, but can share the whole wonderful concept with our visitors. This master plan is necessary, for the stage that the OFC garden is in right now and to carry it on into the future. I hope to help with it and learn from the development of this master plan. Maybe, in 25 years, my garden might be worth creating a plan for?

Meanwhile, I'll just write blog posts to share what I'm doing in search for tasty strawberries. I'm going back to my garden. Have a happy day!

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Gobi yarn

Every once in a while there is a fleece that I just cannot wait to play with. As soon as we are done shearing it, that fleece goes right next to my spinning wheel and I hurry to get any other yarns off the bobbins.
Funny little Gobi. She's really not as thin as she looks in
this picture, she was just tucked up from being sheared.
This year Gobi's fleece was that special. Gobi is Boo's little ewe lamb, born last July. She's twin to Rambo, who sold to a new home on Saturday. She's a funny looking little thing, halfway between a lamb and a yearling. Because she was born at such a strange time, she didn't have any "classmates" to play with, so she never really learned all the sheepie games.

Gobi yarn on the bobbin
But I've always loved her coloring, I have a special fondness for the darker fleeces. My friend Mickie Ramirez, whose Broken O Ranch is in Fort Collins, Colorado, always knew she could call me when she had an especially dark lamb that needed a new flock. Two of our foundation sires, Caruso and Hotpants came from her flock. Mickie makes the most fantastic hats from her jacob fleeces.

Back to Gobi, so far, I've spun two 100 yard skeins of yarn from her fleece and they've washed up as soft and wonderous as I thought they would. I have at least enough fleece to spin another two. So, this little (about 35 lbs.), funny, off-season lamb grew almost enough wool in half a year to make a shawl. I'll only need to add one skein of some one else's wool to that shawl... perhaps her brother's? Or maybe a mohair highlight yarn. What color(s) would look good with this black and white yarn?

Sunday, April 01, 2012

Shearing Days - or was it Lambing Days - Open House?

Our Shearing Day Open House yesterday could have been called Lambing Day - but it's easier to schedule shearing. When I checked the ewes right before daylight, I thought Demi was in labor, but it' not the first time I've thought that this month. At 7:00 when I went out to feed, I found these two little boys.

Demi's twin boys - Demi always does have to be different.
The little spotted one is "Hagrid" and we are keeping him for
at least his first fleece. You've never seen such curls. The
other one is really white.

Diane Smith and her new ram
 Diane Smith and Sue Legg were the first to arrive at Shearing Days. We had been corresponding about possible new sheep for their starter flock of Jacob sheep. They fell in love with Dapper Dan X Basil's little boy. He has a gorgeous pair of horns and a superb fleece that I kept for myself.
They named him "Rambo" and he headed home to meet his new ewes.

Several people asked me for pictures of the shearing/milking stand we use. Obviously, it is home-made. In fact, my kids, Lena and Juna made this one for me. You can find lots of plans for goat milking stands and sheep shearing stands if you google them. Just adapt what you find to fit your flock. We have to work around some pretty good sized horn sets. We sheared Sultan in this stand yesterday and his horns are more that 4-foot across.
Another shot of the shearing stand.
It was a good day, we sheared Rambo, Gypsum, Nibbles and Sultan. We sold a few fleeces, a ram and Shawn got an order for a 7-foot triloom. We visited with lots of folks who read about our event in the Stone County Leader Weekender.
Basil had been trying to give birth to her little girl and boy
all day and about 2 p.m. I decided it was time to help her
out. The little ones were tangled up inside mama, trying
to come out about like they are here.  But with a little help,
They are out and fine and health. Basil is doing ok.

The biggest group of people arrived right after I decided that Basil had been pushing too long with nothing to show for her labor. Shawn did the tour, while Lena and I helped Basil sort out the tangle of lambs. Basil's little girl and boy are doing fine.

After almost everybody was done visiting, we turned the ewes and their lambs out on the rye grass in the middle pasture for the first time. It was noisy chaos for a bit, but then little babies went to sleep in the grass and mommas went to work mowing.

Our last visitors of the day were dear friends Troy and Linda Odom who took time away from getting Aunt Linda's Apothecary Shop set up to come see the newest babies. All in all, it was a wonderful day here on the farm.

In the afternoon, everybody got turned out to mow the
middle pasture.