Friday, August 31, 2012

Pondering giveaways

August 2012 is the month of giveaways here in my little corner of the Ozarks.

First, Shawn had the idea to give away an item each day in the Craft Village at the Ozark Folk Center State Park as a way to thank our visitors for coming to see us. Every craftsperson was very generous. Some created unique items just to give away. Others donated several items to give to visitors on their featured day.

Almost every item went to someone who appreciated and loved it. There was one 13-year-old-girl who was visiting for her birthday. When she won the turquoise earrings designed and created by Linda Widmer she was ecstatic. Her parents agreed to let her get her ears pierced that day as a birthday present.
Nita Reuter of Hot Springs, Arkansas, loved the broom made by Shawn
Hoefer that she won in the August Craft Village Giveaway.

Or Nita Reuter of Hot Springs who just glowed with happiness when she won the Tom Turkey Wing broom made by Shawn. "I've been praying so hard that I'd win," she said. "I've never won anything in my whole life." She hugged her broom around the whole craft village for the rest of the day.

These little presents have added a bright spot to our quiet August days.

Then along came the Arkansas Women Blogger's Unplugged (#AWBU). There were giveaways on top of giveaways. Every session started off with drawings for items donated by sponsors. Every attendee received a bag of gifts from sponsors. Every woman there got a free pair of boots from Country Outfitter and is getting another free pair of boots to give away on her blog. (sneak peak - I'll be giving mine away in October). Obviously, free giveaways are a good way to promote your business, product, web site or blog.

With this experience in mind, I am working on creating a giveaway to promote the Off The Beaten Path Studio Tour.  The tour is coming up Sept. 14-16, and I want to get as many people as possible to come to as many studios as possible - including ours. I want to get people to pick up the tabloid publication that talks about the tour and has each artisan's contact information. I want to encourage people to visit and get to know these talented artists. I'm just not quite sure how to put it together, yet.

If you have ideas for a giveaway that would work to promote the tour, let me know. I think I'll go weave a bit before bed. My brain gets its best ideas when I let it go off to play while I weave.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ten plus two ways to deal with stress eating

Stress happens. It's a fact of life.

And some of us tend to deal with stress by eating. I eat a healthy balanced diet until stress wears me down, then I eat junk food.
Junk food is easy to find, it's everywhere. It is more of a challenge to eat whole, fresh food than it is to eat processed stuff. Of course, eating sugar and empty calories makes it harder to deal with stress, so that's a pretty self destructive behavior.

I came up with this list of ways to help me get myself back on track.

1. Allow your compulsive streak to come out. Count crackers, set a timer to tell you when to drink water, write a journal of everything that goes into your mouth. There's comfort in compulsions.

2. Drink lots of water. Whether you set a timer, make it a point to take a drink every time you stand up or hit enter on your computer or you set a gallon jug on your desk and drink it all day, just drink lots of water.

3. Stock up on your favorite healty treats. Fill your world with carrots, grapes, celery, vegetable juices, green beans, good foods that you like to eat. Bag them in ways that make it easy to grab a few at any time during the day.

3.5 - Give yourself permission to snack. If you're like me, you're going to do it anyway. Just try to make it easier to snack on healthy foods. Don't add guilt trips over snacking to your stress level.

4. Make good-for-you foods easily accessible. If I have to walk by the bowl of chocolates on the office manager's desk to get to my carrots in the fridge, which do you think I'm going to snack on? So take up a pretty bowl of carrots and put it on your desk.

5. Treat yourself to healthy food that you don't normally go out and buy. I buy string cheese for myself when I am stress eating. I buy three sticks at a time. Normally, I'll buy a block of mozarella and figure I can cut off chunks. It is cheaper to buy it that way. So, string cheese is a guilty pleasure.

Finding something to do with your hands other than popping food
into your mouth can help curb stress eating, too. I'm crocheting
a scarf here,with the calming assistance of Halfie and Scrapie
to keep me settled in my chair.
6. When you buy something like crackers, where you know you'll eat the whole box, also buy a box of the snack-sized ziploc bags. Read what a serving size is for the crackers, usually a funny number like 7 or 22, and put a serving in a ziploc bag. Count out the whole box of crackers into individual serving sized bags. Put all the bags of crackers in a box, or bigger bag or desk drawer where you have to get up to get them. Allow yourself to eat crackers that don't count while you are bagging the rest. Enjoy the mindless compulsive cracker-counting break from the whirlwind of life.

7. Eat enough protein. I am mostly vegetarian. I find when I don't get enough protein, I get cravings. Protein makes cravings go away.

8. Pay attention to what you are eating. Before grabbing that tub of ice cream or the sugar-loaded coffee drink, get a drink of water and take a walk around the building. Give yourself a chance to remind yourself of the consequences of stress eating.

9. Play with your food. Enjoy finding tastes that blend well. Eat a carrot in the same bite as an almond. Put two celery sticks around a cheese stick. Pop a grape tomato. Arrange cherries and basil leaves in a pretty design on a plate on your desk.

10. If you eat junk food for a day - Don't stress about it! Things will change, life will calm down and then you can get on top of what you are eating. Don't compound your stress by stressing about what you are eating.

I wrote this list for me, your mileage may vary. If you have a favorite way of dealing with stress eating, please share it here.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Boot retirement

While I was in the process of preparing for the Arkansas Women Bloggers Unplugged (#AWBU) conference and shopping Country Outfitter for my boots, my old boots developed a crack in the sidewall. Not a big crack, but a definite crack through the leather. That helped me decide that I wanted to replace them with the same make and model of boot. I love my old boots.

My beloved decade old Ariats have developed a crack
in the side.
I've worn my old boots hard for more than a decade, and I hate to admit, I don't take the best care of them. I've worn them out in the rain and not saddle soaped or oiled them. I wore them when my whole family went trail riding in the snow above Blue Mesa.
When they were almost new, I wore them riding Jahim at Parelli Camp. I galloped Nefisa, Legend, Misata, Ghoti and my beloved Aliya in those boots.

I packed with llamas in the Colorado canyon lands in those boots and had adventures around Taos while wearing them. I built many, many miles of fence in my Ariats.

When we moved to Arkansas, I wore them in self-defense against briars and ticks and copperheads. And when I got my job as Craft Director at the Ozark Folk Center, those boots carried me hundreds of miles on the pavement. I wore a pedometer for a while. One day I did eleven miles on the concrete sidewalks and wooden stairs of the Craft Village. I decided I didn't need the pedometer to tell me I walked a lot. But I did need my boots.

Old meets new - My brand new Heritage Lacers
from Country Outfitter.
I tried to replace them two years ago with a pretty pair of women's Ariat lacers. My feet are too wide for their women's boots, so the pretty new pair stays pretty and I wear them when I need to look a little more refined. On most days, when I need to stride around the village at high speed, I wear my old, faithful, original Ariats.

Thanks to the #AWBU promotion by Country Outfitter, I was at a boot party with a grand new pair of boots. I had decided as I dressed for the party in my green velvet skirt that this was going to be the retirement party for my old boots. In my mind, all these people were gathered to help me send my dear old boots off into the sunset. I wore them to the party.
Old boots went into the box, waiting for retirement.

As the evening progressed, I became aware that this party was something different to every person there. It was a photo shoot and promotion for boots; and adventure for many who had never tried boots; a birthday party; and most especially, an engagement party. It didn't seem right for it to be the retirement party for my boots, too.

I changed into my new boots for the photo shoot and then the jig dancing class with Clancey Ferguson. The new boots are good, they are comfortable. They look very nice and fit very well.
Gently, I tucked my old boots in to the Ariat box. Eventually, I'll find the right way to retire them. They are so much more than boots. Those soles hold a decade of my memories.

If you have an idea for an appropriate retirement for beloved old boots, please share it with me here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

AWBU, boot virgins and perceptions

"What's a blog?" asked one of the guys at the crafter's meeting at the Ozark Folk Center two weeks ago. He was just yanking my chain, because I know he reads the popular media. He might even have a television.

But I patiently explained that "Blog" was short for web log and was a form of an online magazine, often written by one person. This was important because the Arkansas Women Bloggers were having their Unplugged (AWBU) conference at the Center. As you know if you are reading this, I am an Arkansas woman blogger.

I took annual leave so that I could attend the conference. It took a bit of work to pretend to be a visitor at home, but it did offer a different perspective. Most people were happy to play along, though a few were really confused to see me in a tshirt.

The advance survey had me worried. I had never heard of Klout and was not signed up on Twitter. I use Facebook mostly to communicate with family. The survey wanted me to categorize myself as a "Mommy, Craft or Foodie" blogger. Yeah, I've been blogging since 2005, but it's just something I do for me and my family. Is there a category for that? I read through the posts on the AWB site, read the profiles and posts from the women and decided that it sounded like a useful conference. Besides, it was at home, and I could certainly learn a few things. I signed up for Twitter @jlonthefarm. I signed up for Klout.

I decided it was just a good constructive use of my time. And then the sponsors started rolling in. Suddenly I was reading the preconference posts and getting excited.

The ladies gathered in front of the Bois d'Arc Center
before the party. This is where I first heard the term
"boot virgin."
Ziploc sent cases of containers for the foodie bloggers to test and talk about. Count me in, I love Ziploc, really, especially the new Versaglass line. Yarnell's sent ice cream, Farm Bureau, Healthy Families and Petit Jean Meats sent food and treats. Mrs. Meyers gave everybody cleaning supplies and Tammy Sue sent soap.  I'm sure there's more in the swag bag that I forgot, but the crowning glory was BOOTS.

Country Outfitter, a Fayetteville Arkansas company, offered every woman attending not only a pair of boots, but also a pair to give away to her readers. As the conference neared, the Stephanies set up a Pinterest board and everybody shared their shopping experience on the Country Outfitter web site. I found several pairs that I liked and finally settled on my old fav's, the Ariat Heritage Lacers, just like the faithful pair that I've worn for a decade.
It was like Christmas when we were all finally
let into the room where the boots were
set up along the walls boxes open.

After a two days of great workshops, we all gathered together for the boot party and photo shoot. As everybody waited outside, we talked of our blogs and other things. Several ladies said they had never worn a pair of boots! They were boot virgins. Hard to imagine...

We all sat down for a nice cookout of Petit Jean hot dogs, sausages and burgers. Like the rest of the conference, there was tons of great food. It was hard to get everyone to quiet down for the presentations during dinner as the table conversations were so enjoyable. But, everybody did settle to listen. Gina, of desperately seeking {gina} started talking about how she started her blog as "desperately seeking {Thom}" to find an old flame. She was halfway through her story of love lost and found when Thom came through the door and in front of 75 women, proposed to Gina. Thank goodness she said "Yes".

 Then we all got to go into the other room and find our boots. It was really like Christmas. As I found my boots and listened around the room, I heard Stephanie McCratic say that what everybody didn't know was that she was pretending this was her birthday party. That got me wondering how everybody else was perceiving this party - engagement party, birthday party, boots-for-the-first-time party?
Each pair was nicely arranged in the box, with a nice card
with our names on them.

I had my own "story" for this party, but you'll have to read tomorrow's post to find out what it is.

Boot virgins no more! We all went outside for a photo
shoot with Joe's tractor.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Countdown to Off the Beaten Path Studio Tour

Boot party at Arkansas Women Bloggers Unplugged,
thanks to Country Outfitter
I took today off, mostly.

I did clean out the fridge. And I did the dishes, both from the second Yarnell's ice cream social at the Arkansas Women Bloggers Unplugged (AWBU) and from not being home for a week. And I unpacked and did my laundry from two conventions, and Shawn's from being home on the farm.

I am making a really good vegetable soup with garlic bread for dinner.

But mostly, today, I read a book.

Need to wind a warp that I have skeined and dyed. Six hours winding
16 hours warping, two hours weaving. 24 hours before being ready for
Studio tour on this loom.

Lisa Brochu and Tim Merriman, who I had the pleasure to take an interpreter training workshop from last August, have written several books. At the class, I got a copy of their book, "The Leopard Tree." I started reading it then, but the workshop was intense. One of the other attendees was headed out of country and she really wanted to read the book, so I gave it to her. But I didn't forget it.

This past weekend, while I was caught up in the whirlwind of the AWBU, I saw that Lisa and Tim had their book for free download on Amazon, just for the weekend. So, I joined the thousands of people who added it to their kindle lists. It's not a long book, only 185 pages of adventure. I can see Lisa shining through the story. In between everything else today I read up through chapter 10. I might finish it yet tonight.

But I have a few things I need to catch up on, before I finish the book. I need to haul grain around from the car, and finish retarping the hay stack. I need to get some paperwork organized for work tomorrow. I need to put clean sheets on the bed. I need to figure out how many days I have until to finish what projects before Off the Beaten Path Studio Tour and I haven't written today's blog post yet. So, I'll combine the two.
These are the items I really need to finish before tour. There are some other things I want to work on, but finishing these comes first.

Studio Tour is Sept. 14-16. Today is August 27. Good thing August has 31 days. Four, plus 13 equals 17 days or 408 hours. I'll be at work for at least 100 of those hours and I should sleep 136. I'll do farm chores a minimum of 34 hours in those 17 days.

Handspun, woven and felted Gizmo mohair purse,
edged with recycled sari silk yarn. Two hours to
sew in lining to finish.

408-270=138 hours left to eat, brush my teeth and weave. There's only 43 hours worth of projects on this page, I have plenty of time left.

Wait... I've committed to write a blog post daily, too. It's gonna be a busy two weeks.

And looking at the pictures on this page, I did learn how to improve my photography with my Iphone in the AWBU workshop. But, I don't think the "focusing on the point of your blog" workshop helped at all.

Oh, and if you ever think I should add something or want to request something, or just want to say "Hi", feel free to leave a comment here on my blog. I do moderate them, but I'll see it and get it published within a day or so.

On to eat vegi soup.

Green handpainted wool shawl with recycled sari silk
highlighted. Six hours weaving left, 1 hour finishing
with no fringe. Seven hours before Tour.

Wool shawl suggested/requested by Colleen. About half woven, another 8-10
hours to finish, before tour.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

7 ways to prevent conference fatigue

I'm at the end of two back-to-back, intense three-day conferences. I am tired. Just one more day left and I can relax, or do laundry and dishes before heading back to work on Tuesday. I do quite a few conferences every year, and present at many of them. I've developed some strategies to stay alert and keep my strength up and stay healthy.

1. Figure out what time of day your best business is done at the conference, and be there, but forego times that don't work for you. For example, I am a morning person. I can visit with people over coffee in the morning and shine at the morning sessions. I do good business during morning breaks and at lunch. But except for obligatory evening events, I go back to my room at night, to organize, unwind and relax.

2. Take what you need with you to sleep. If it's your own pillow, a scent you spray on the hotel pillows, melatonin or an eye cover. Good sleep is a priority to staying alert the next day and coming home healthy.

3. Eat as best you can. Request whole grains and green lettuces. Look for fresh fruit for breakfast. You know what keeps your body happy at home. Do your best to eat it at conferences.

4. Bring your own tea or coffee. Then you'll have the morning wake-up you are accustomed to and your whole day will be easier.

5. Take an mid-day break to refresh and regroup. If you can, go for a walk, go swim or go to the hotel workout room. Then take a quick shower and get back to networking.

6. Wear good shoes. Nothing will wear you out faster than sore feet.

7. Take your vitamins. I double up on mine at a conference, especially the vitamin B. I used to not even take them with me, but now I rely on them to support me while I am pushing physical boundaries at a conference.

These are the things I've learned to do to get the most out of conferences. Then I can come home and organized all the good things I've learned and get back to the business of making my world a better place.

Friday, August 24, 2012

A tale of two stories or Mary's Lunker

Tonight, Mary Gillihan did a program connecting the the stories of the past and the present for the Arkansas Women Blogger's Unplugged (#AWBU) conference. This conference is an amazing blend of urban and rural - yesterday, today and tomorrow. These women from all over Arkansas have come together in the Ozark hills. They traveled the winding roads to Mountain View and had adventures with deer, ground hogs and possums getting here. And now, these women - usually linked by modern technology - are sharing ideas and energy and friendship - face to face. It's the best of the old and the new, here at the Ozark Folk Center.

Mary Gillihan is an incredible performer, interpreter, musician, friend and fisherwoman. In addition to being the interpreter at the Ozark Folk Center since 1974, she is also part of the folk music trio Harmony; she and her husband perform their music together; and she shares programs that tell stories of her life here in the Ozarks. Some of the stories she shares were written by Charley Sandage and others come out of her life here in the hills.
Mary Gillihan, the ballad singer
Now, Mary is a serious fisherwoman. The great majority of her Thursday's are spent at HER spot on Mirror Lake. If you're really nice to her, she might show you where the Lake is, but her spot is sacred. Like all fisherpeople, Mary has some great stories. She gets the usual teasing, "Just how big was that fish?"

But we all watch her eating fish for lunch everyday at work, so, we know she is mostly telling the truth.

One of the things I am passionate about is the living traditions of these Ozark Hills. The stories, craftsmanship, values and beliefs of these hills are as unique now as they were 100 years ago. Mary's stories of her life today are as fascinating and unique as those she shares from Almeda Riddle, Jean Jennings and other women ballad singers of the Ozark past.

Mary and her Lunker

Mary wove her storytelling magic as the Ballad Singer of times past. Then, right before our eyes, she changed into the modern Mary, complete with fishing sneakers and a tackle vest. The Mary Gillihan of today told her wild fishing stories. These were stories of a women enjoying the waters, hills and resources of this little slice of heaven called Stone County, Arkansas. She told stories of fishing and the biggest fish she ever caught - the story of "Mary's Lunker."

 In case you're searching for the answers to the quiz - Mary's Lunker was 2 1/2 pounds, 5 ounces. It was 17 3/4 - inches long and 7 3/8 - inches wide.

I wonder, did it taste good?

Communication and mirroring

I gave a "talk" yesterday morning to the interpreter workshop. The first two minutes of the "talk" were silent and yet, everybody was attentive, engaged and alert. They responded to my queries and followed my directions. We yawned, waved, clapped and followed each other around the room - with out a word being spoken.
Human beings have an amazing ability to mirror the actions of other humans. This innate tendency allows us to make connections with each other, that go way beyond what we say.
I first became aware of "Mirroring" when I was demonstrating spinning. I would watch the people who were very interested in what I was doing and as they connected with me, their fingers would start to fiddle and fidget. Unconsciously, they were beginning to mirror the movements of my hands. Then, I learned, I could ask them if they wanted to try spinning themselves. They frequently would and as they learned and it connected, sometimes, just sometimes, I would see that spark of amazement in their eyes as spinning became part of them.
I began researching this mirroring and discovered that like with many of my discoveries, lots of people have been there before me. In fact, there is all kinds of research out there about it. You can follow many paths from this concept, and if you have interesting stories to share about mirroring, I'd love to hear them.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

These boots are...

The Arkansas Women Blogger's Unplugged meeting is at the Ozark Folk Center starting tomorrow. I am expecting to learn an incredible amount of useful information from this conference. One of the things I want to learn is about sponsors and sponsored blog posts. This is a sponsored post.

There are many companies sponsoring the conference. Ziplock just delivered 118 cases of really cool storage devices for the foodie bloggers to test and promote. Healthy Families is one sponsor, and that brought up a really good idea with our interpretive team that I'll talk about in a future blog post. Petite Jean meats is providing us with all kinds of treats. And Country Outfitter is giving us boots!
I walk miles in the Ozark Folk Center Craft Village every day in my Ariats.
You all know I live in my boots.
When we first moved to Arkansas, much like any settlers who moved here before us, we learned that boots were indispensable as footwear. They protect you from briars, ticks, chiggers and snakebite. Why would anyone wear anything else?
I lived in boots in Colorado when I trained horses and rode daily. In fact, I bought my first pair of Ariats in 2002 at the Horse Expo in Denver. I spent a pretty penny on them, and they were a wise investment, I still wear them almost every day. For me to get a decade of wear out of a pair of boots is unimaginable. I've tried other types of boots, but the Ariats just wear well, fit well and are comfortable.
The boots in the picture above are my second pair of Ariats. They are my dress boots, to wear with my nice ruffled dress. Boots are not only practical, they are pretty, too. What I discovered though is that with as much clomping around on concrete as I do, the men's boots are more comfortable on my feet. So I'll keep the pretty lady lacers for pretty.
Now I've ordered a third pair of Ariats. I took a picture of my first pair. I didn't realize how sad they were looking until I looked at the picture. When the new ones get here, my old boots will find a place of honor where ever it is that beloved old boots go.

Do you love boots? Well, if so, stay tuned, because Country Outfitter is giving away a pair of boots to one of my wonderful readers. After I learn all these new, wonderful things at the AWBU conference about promotions and giveaways, I'll post the details here and let you know what you have to do to sign up to win your very own pair of brand new boots!

DISCLOSURE: CountryOut´Čütter, a retailer of Ariat Boots, is giving me my new pair  Ariat Heritage Lacer Roper boots  to review.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The art of writing

"Writing is my real art," I've been know to tell people, "It's where I am the flaky artist."

Weaving, spinning, shepherding, those are what I do. I do them daily, I do them naturally. I don't think of them as an art, they are what I do, I do them beautifully, and I do them well.

Ah, but writing. There I suffer the angst of the artist. I struggle to find the right words and to string them together into sentences that share the visions and emotions of my heart. I write passionately for a time and then I swear I will never write another word. I get headaches from writing as I feel I'm trying to physically drag the words out of my head. My head gets congested from trying to make the words flow. Some days I swear I can't write my way out of a paper bag.

When I was learning to spin, I asked Sarah Natani how to become better. "Do it every day," she told me. It became a sort of mantra for me. Sometimes what I spun looked more like a potato peel than thread, but I kept at it. I finally got good at spinning, not only when I did it every day, but when I demonstrated spinning every day for a whole summer. At some point, I quit thinking about it, quit stressing over the art and trying to make it be something. At some point, it just became something that I do, and I did it well.

So now, I want to become good at writing. I want to move my writing from the "art" catagory, where I have to worry about muses and inspiration and temperament and the weather - and put writing in the "craft" category, where it is just something that I do, and I do it well.

To that end, I am bringing out my old directive - "Do it every day." I'm going to write here, publicly, kinda like demonstrating spinning. Feel free to comment on things you like, constructive criticism is always welcome. And if what I've written doesn't make any more sense than an potato peeling, well, I'm still writing every day.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Coupons, Pinterest and more social media

As Cynthia says on her card,
"Weavings are heirlooms, too!"
Arkansas Women Bloggers are having their Unplugged conference at the Ozark Folk Center later this week. We've been planning and working on making it a great three days.

I asked any crafts people who were interested to offer coupons or at least business cards to put in the ladies swag bags. Of course, that led to a whole discussion in craft meeting about what a blog was... at least I didn't have to explain the internet to anyone, though there are many of our crafts people who still don't do email.

So, I've got coupons from several shops, and I want to put them out so that the ladies can see what is available and start planning how to spend the little bit of free time they'll have. I also want them to be out there so that they don't have to have the physical coupon with them to use it, they can just show the coupon on their smart phone. But what is the best way to do that?

Look at your coupon envelope carefully.
It's a coupon from the Old Time Print Shop!
This might not be the right way, but I think I can figure out how to post them here, and then share them to Pinterest, so that they can access them there.

This coupon covers lots of different styles
of Pottery from  John Perry and Judi Munn,
 including some fired in the wood-fired kiln
 and some fired in the vegetable oil kiln that
 uses waste oil from our Ozark Folk Center
Of course, one of the main things to realize about computer programs, web constructs and social media is that as soon as you figure out how to work it, they will change it. So learning to be adaptable is good.

Lots of pretty choices at the Doll shop.

Original art from the Leather shop

You can order a custom broom in the Broom
Shop or pick from the fine selection. Make
sure you read this coupon for a chance to
earn an extra broom!

Great soap made in Aunt Linda's Apothecary
Shop. Buy some to take home and/or
sign up to take a class to learn to
make your own!

Kids of all ages love to spin Shernan's
hand turned tops.
I don't know if I'll have time to write this week, but look for some new ideas to show up when I do!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Venturing into social media

America is the land of advertising. We are constantly being told we need to do this, learn that, use x or buy y. Our family tries to be educated consumers, in what we do, use and buy.

We haven't had access to broadcast television since the big antenna blew off our farm house in La Junta. Firefly had just gone off the air and we couldn't see any reason to spend the money to replace the antenna. Besides, who needs tv when you have the internet? We research anything we are interested in there. Can you spin chinchilla fur? How do you make green curry? I've loved the internet for a long time.

Shawn is a tech guy and he likes to test and work with any new technologies that come out. He beta tests software and always seems to have some new gadget he is trying out. I get a few of them tried out on me, so he can experiment on how non-techies can relate to the item before recommending it to his web clients. The droid phone and tablet were disappointing. Iphones and Ipads rock. Netflix and Pandora radio fit well into my active farm life. My digital cameras enabled me to chronicle my days and share them with friends and family who live far away, before they got too plugged up with hay and dust to work. The Minolta Dimage worked for more than seven years, the little Samsung, only one. Now I have my iphone camera, not really happy with it, but better than nothing to keep family and friends up-to-date here in my blog.

Online sales and marketing have worked well for our farmstead craft business in the past. We had a very active ebay store for many years, and I have had good success with etsy for what little I've tried it. These marketing avenues take a lot more time and consistent effort than you would ever imagine. But they are effective and work into some time periods and for some businesses.

So, we aren't total luddites, nor are we afraid of trying tech, but... I get told from various angles that I need to learn to navigate social media - Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google plus, LinkedIn, new-flavor-of-the-week  and use it. Why? What use is it? What do I need it for? And, I can see where it could take all the time that I currently spend making things and caring for the farm.

Because of the lack of time, I don't see where it can help my own small craft business, but for any group of craft businesses, I can see where having many individuals liking, tweeting and connecting with pictures and links, it could really draw people physically to an area. So, with that in mind, I am attending the Arkansas Women Blogger's Unplugged conference this week. It will be a whole new forum for how to "get connected."

Now off to read how to effectively use pinterest (jenonthefarm) and find something interesting to tweet (@jlonthefarm) that I haven't already shared on facebook (Jeanette Larson) ...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The old ones

The recent Jacob Sheep Breeders Association newsletter posed the question in their monthly poll, "What do you do with your old ewes?" It's a good question. I can't wait to read the answers.  I have a friend who sells all his does and ewes when they are 6 or 7 and he keeps replacement daughters for the ones he really likes. Very sensible shepherding practice.

Right now, 18-year-old Halfie cat is trying to push the computer off my lap. She's fairly toothless and needs daily combing, because she doesn't wash herself anymore, but she's purring happily and is my early morning helper and companion. My black-brindle-gone-gray Scrapie dog is at my feet. No telling her age. She was in her early middlin years when she hopped into my van in 2005.

Durfria, Lena's Arabian mare just turned 30. Her feet are good and her coat looks good. Her teeth are actually great. She has tummy troubles though, and gets a special feed with supplements now. The vet is worried and wants to do tests. We said, "She's 30," and he gave us a shot to give her when she's hurting.
Thyme is our original Jacob ewe.  She's 4-horned and ma or
great-grandma to much of the flock through her grandson
Dapper Dan.
She's at least 12 and more likely 13 or 14.

Old Thyme is our oldest and eldest Jacob ewe. She was our first Jacob sheep. We bought her with lamb at side in 2001. She's now toothless, but oddly enough, with our new high-grain drought feeding regimen, I've never seen her this fat. She actually has weight on her bones.

In the last few years, we've lost most of our foundation flock to age. Marjoram and Pennyroyal were dearly loved and missed when they passed. My grizzled old ranch vet was compassionate when he helped Marj on her way. We have several more sheep and goats in the 9-year-old bracket.

What do we do with our old ewes? We just keep loving them.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

It takes a Village - Aunt Linda's Apothecary Shop

So I'm sitting at my desk, in my perfectly modern, air-conditioned office, trying to write a press release and I realize that I am distracted by scratching some new rash on my arm. Who knows from what? I'm outside a lot, hauling hay, feeding critters, working in the garden, gathering wood, so who knows?
But, it's itchy and very distracting and spreading down my arm.

"I need jewelweed vinegar," I actually said out loud to the empty room and went running out the back door.

Linda Odom, the amazing lady who keeps us all
sweet smelling, shiny clean and itch-free.
I am so very blessed, because out the back door of my office is the most amazing village. A unique blend of modern and antique, the Craft Village at the Ozark Folk Center is hard to describe. It is a living tradition of Ozark ingenuity and craftsmanship. The architecture is so 1970's. The little hexagonal studio buildings each house a different independent craft business. My destination was Aunt Linda's Apothecary Shop.

Created, researched, developed, decorated, stocked and run by Linda Odom, with the help of her sweet husband Troy and the occasional very helpful apprentices (thanks Vicki Morgan and Leesa Thompson to name two), Linda makes soaps of many types from scratch. She does both the old-fashioned kettle-cooked lye soaps and the more modern, but still labor intensive and chemically intricate, cold-processed soaps. She also makes lotions, salves, creams, lip balms, blends teas and mixes a variety of cures from herbs in our Heritage Herb Gardens.

If you look around my desk, you'll find that I use many of her products. I have a lotion bar that I use not only to soothe scaly skin, I also use it to polish and maintain my boots. I have peppermint essential oil that warms aching muscles. I use her "Think" spray, a hydrosol of many oils, almost every time I sit down at my computer. And her coconut ginger tea is one of my favorite afternoon treats.

I burst through Linda's shop door saying, "I need jewelweed vinegar," showing her the rash on my arm. Much to her credit, she just smiled sympathetically, instead of saying, "Ooo, gross!"

Aunt Linda's kettle-cooked jewelweed soap. A sure cure
for poison ivy or any other itchies.
At that moment, she only had jewelweed vinegar packaged in quarts. I didn't need a quart, and I only had $5 in my pocket. But she does compound the most amazing anti-itch lotion. We use it at home for humans, dogs and angora goats. We've treated the scaly patches on Gizmo-goat's legs with this potion very successfully. Linda showed me where the tiny bottles of the anti-itch lotion were and I bought one to keep at my desk. While still in her shop, I slathered some on my arm, dropped the bottle in my apron pocket and then I went off into the village to check on some other park issues.

When I got back to my desk, I found this little bag with a little end cut bar of precious jewel weed soap. After a week, my itchies are all gone. Thanks again Linda!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Drought and consequences

"Grieve it and leave it" seems to be my mantra for this dustbowl summer.

We are down from 20+ goats and cheesemaking to two milkers and milk for my coffee. We are down from 50+ sheep grazing pastorally in our yard to 21 and counting down. I've sold animals that I counted as friends because with no pasture, hay at $8  a square bale and corn at $22 a hundred weight, they needed to go to somebody who could afford to feed them. I have friends in their 80's who are lifetime cattlemen who've just sold out.

For me, drought is the most devastating of the types of catastrophic weather. Other weather events are  more violent, but they are generally over quickly and what's left is to bury the dead and clean up the mess. Drought goes on and on, sucking the life out of your pastures, your garden and your dreams.

We are blessed to live in a big, bountiful country. Usually, it's big enough that areas of crop surplus balance areas of crop deficit. This year, the drought is so severe and so wide spread, I'm worried. How far are we away from real famine? I'm thinking maybe three years... this year the cattle herds sell down, and beef is cheap. But next year, there are few calves. Corn doesn't grow this year, and price supports send our surplus to fuel... three years of drought and we'll all be a whole lot leaner (meaner? that's a scary thought).

Maybe so, maybe not - but how long will the drought continue and what will the consequences of this extreme weather really be?

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Geek shepherds

Our Higgs particle in front of her triplet sister
Hodge Podge
If you're reading this post looking for apps to improve your flock, you might be disappointed - though I can tell you that we've been using FlockFiler for our pedigrees for many years and love it. The Jacob Sheep Breeders Association has an awesome pedigree database, too and I enjoy researching our sheep ancestry on it. But actually, that's not what I'm talking about here.

I grew up in a family where things like tectonic plate movement was a perfectly normal dinner conversation. After all, my daddy is a rocket scientist. So my children were raised in a household where discussions of Bram Stoker's writings could lead to studies of fly genus and species. It was natural then, when I named Elizabeth's littlest afterthought triplet Higgledy Piggeldy that she instantly became Higgs Boson particle. After all, she is the littlest particle of a sheep in our flock.

And when it was announced on July 4 of this year that they had found the Higgs Boson particle, we just looked at each other and said, "Wow, google earth is now good enough that they can see Higgs."

Monday, August 06, 2012

At least we got hay...

Modern abilities meet old-fashioned realities

So we're driving down the road, the drought forcing us to go more miles and depend on friends to get hay. I'm trying to finish a professional journal article about interpretive resale. I've been so busy this summer learning to work with a new boss, new expectations and just regular work... still trying to work at the guild gallery and having everything on the farm take so much more time with the incessant need to water everything trying to keep it cooler and alive in this more than 100 degree heat that I have a jumble of ideas, not an article – and the firm deadline is today...

So, I have my trusty laptop, and Shawn is bouncing great ideas off me and I'm sitting here, just now remembering that I get car sick on Arkansas roads.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

My September garden

Tomato, basil and night blooming jasmine cuttings rooting on the
kitchen window sill. The blue bottle just makes me happy,
I've always thought cobalt blue glass was one of the prettiest things
in the whole world.
With temperatures consistently hitting 100 and no rain to speak of, I've moved what I can of my garden In to my kitchen. I'm still watering the blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, jerusalem artichokes and fig... and I hope they make it. This morning, in the light of the full moon, I planted Black Prince tomato cuttings that I'd rooted and both sweet and Thai basil. I also have more cuttings started. I'll be traveling a lot in August, so this will make it easier to take care of things when I'm home and less to leave with Shawn and Lena.In September, I plan to plant chard, like I did last year, kale and other winter greens, as well as my rooted cuttings. Maybe some beets and... it'll be like having a second spring, I hope. I'll let you know how it goes.

These Black Prince tomato cuttings are rooted and now
planted so that I can feed them.