Thursday, July 17, 2014

Playing Tourist - Arkansas State Capitol, Little Rock

The Arkansas State Capitol in Little Rock

My mother has an incredible curiosity. No matter where we were in the world, she'd go find interesting things to see, people to talk to, natural places to visit and culture to explore. I have memories of grasshoppers in Germany, tulips in Holland, blueberries and boulders in Alaska, forests in Alabama and so much more.  Where ever we went, she'd find place for us to explore and beauty around every corner.

And my mom loves pretty rocks. I remember having the back of our old Chitty bang-bang station wagon full of pretty rocks we picked up on a camping trip in Alaska. We just enjoyed them for being pretty. I don't know about my brothers, but I never even tried to identify any of them, I just enjoyed the rocks for being pretty. That family attraction to pretty rocks continues to this day. Just last night, my daughter Lena brought me a pretty rock, that might be a chunk of a geode from the sheep pen. It surfaced in the last rain.But I dye grass (family word for wandering off topic - that's a whole 'nother blog post).

Very large pretty rocks

Yesterday I was in Little Rock at central office for a work meeting. Over the lunch break when I am there for meetings I love to go explore the Capitol campus. There are monuments, interesting trees, things that could be art and lots of pretty people. One of the things that amused me yesterday was the number of large rocks with bronze plaques attached. It made me think of my mom. The people who collected the pretty rocks on the Capitol lawn needed more equipment and support than three energetic kids!

The bronzes are incredible.
If you want to explore the Arkansas State Capitol campus in Little Rock, they have a nice tour guide you can download at the link above and an audio tour that you can download to your phone and follow


Monday, July 14, 2014

Tech! - grr - and maybe I did need a new ram

It's been a beautiful summer here, enough rain to make the garden grow well and the lambs, kids, alpacas, angoras, Jacob Sheep and dairy goats are doing well. Lena and I have moved shelters to the best summer spots and fences for better grazing. In the garden I have hundreds of green tomatoes on the vine, have frozen a couple gallons of black berries, am watching the potatoes and garlic almost ready to harvest and enjoying the moderate temperatures. It has not broken 100 degrees yet this summer.

Early on in the summer, I was shopping for a new Jacob Sheep ram to breed our Canoe Lake Sonic Boom daughters to, but I decided that we could wait another year. Just like I've decided that my dairy goats are for giving milk, not for making more dairy goats, I have the sheep for their wool. Lambs are nice, but I don't have to breed the girls every year to get wool. I was ram shopping on the new Jacob Sheep facebook group - a modern way to find new bloodlines to keep our heritage breed vibrant.

I love to tell people in my work at the Ozark Folk Center State Park that we use and keep the traditional methods of making things by hand, but we also use and enjoy modern conveniences of internet and vehicles. We cherish our history and our unique culture. History and culture didn't stop in the past - we are living and creating both today.

My broom maker partner, Shawn Hoefer, was twice named champion craft broom maker at the Arcola, Illinios Broom Corn Festival. He and my daughter Lena (second place broom maker at the Arcola festival!) make and sell more than 4,000 hand-tied, hand-dyed, hand-carved brooms per year. Broom making is Shawn's vocation. And his other vocation is tech. Broomsquire by day; Geek by night. He designs awesome web sites for more than 30 clients. He swears he really needs all those tablets, computers and handheld devices to make sure his sites display correctly cross platform.

I, on the other hand, am a manager and interpreter by day. I have an awesome, creative job working with lots of people who I really enjoy. And, as you know from this blog, I am a shepherd, dairy farmer, fiber artists, cheesemaker, gardener and cook with the other 118 hours in a week that I'm not at work. I use a computer at work and I depend heavily on my handheld for many, many things. But I am not a geek.

Shawn offered to update the ram in my little Acer Aspire One about a year ago. I said I didn't need it. I like my little computer. I would be perfectly happy to keep using this same computer for the rest of my life. But over this year, it became so slow that it wouldn't accept software updates. So I'd open it and couldn't use it. (That's why I've gotten away from writing blog posts). So it sat in the pouch on my chair.

Finally, about two weeks ago I gave it to Shawn to try and get the updates installed. He fussed with it, cussed it and ordered a new ram chip, which he installed last night. I guess I did need a new ram, just not the wooly kind. My computer does seem to be faster, though now it doesn't want to save my pictures where I want them. Probably something to do with the updates. Several people have told me that my photo system is too old school and not supported any longer... but I like it and know it and it works fine for me!!! Or it did... that is one of the things that I wish we could figure out how to add to the tech world. I have a perfectly good 90 year old loom that I use daily, why do I have to quit using my beloved handheld device after less than 4 years?

So, I seem to have a working computer at home now, and should be able to go back to sharing updates with you from Havencroft Farm. I'm a little better a putting updates on our Common Threads page on Facebook as I can do those from my handheld.
And now I'm headed out to milk and weed the blueberries. When I come back in after chores, I'll see if I can't find a way to get pictures to post here.