26 March 2008

Spring, And A Man's Thoughts Turn To...

More sheep. What else?

Jeff went sheep shopping last weekend and chose four more from the Vinds' French Creek Hill Farm (no website) closed flock of Jacobs: two four-horned ewes, one two-horned ewe, and an adorable two-horned wether.

Meet Morag, "my" four-horned ewe:

And this is Jeff's favorite (just shorn), known so far only by her number:

I can't wait to see the name he chooses for her. We're out of cheese names, having named the wether Manchego. (There's a sick joke in there.)

I finished Jeff's double-thickness, handspun homegrown Jacob hat. Here he is, cheffing some more Indian food, while wearing it (yes, it's very cold in our house.)

I knit it top-down, and then continued down and down and down, and ended by making another top (think "sock toe") and then I stuffed that end inside the first end. Like a dubbelmossa. I made it too long to wear without folding up a brim, but when folded, the brim isn't long enough. Maybe it stretched, because Jeff slept in it. Sigh. Time to tink and do it over.

Every time I make a top-down hat, the end (the part by one's ears) comes out too loose. Should I go down a needle size for the final ribbing? Decrease? What do you do?

At least I had a few days of pride in my first Farm-Grown Garment.

With some great tug toys (which benefit dog rescue!), Boris and Molly have learned to play together indoors without scrapping. Another puppy milestone, and thank goodness - Molly's intimidation tactics were giving me heart palpitations. I have never heard a dog make the kinds of noises she makes, and she is loud.

I think these toys worked because the dogs realized they needed one another to play tug if it was to be any fun - with squeaky toys, all they wanted to do was get the item away from each other, and it caused a lot of crabbiness (and had great potential for giving me a stroke.)

Emma continues to impress us with her intelligence and sweetness... not wishing to disturb Yoda's sleep (in "Emma's" chair), Em naps like this:

Were that all the Big in the world were as concerned with the Small... At least here on the farm, they coexist peacefully.

I stayed up late last night, assembling quilt squares. I may have some blocks to show you soon - but they are practice blocks in a fall colorway (I haven't sewn for a while and didn't want to mess up my new Lakehouse fabrics!) Happy spring to you.

14 March 2008

Spring Has Sprung At The Farm

Springtime is upon us.
The birds celebrate her return with festive song,
and murmuring streams are softly caressed by the breezes.
Thunderstorms, those heralds of Spring, roar, casting their dark mantle over heaven,
Then they die away to silence, and the birds take up their charming songs once more.

~ Antonio Vivaldi, poetry from The Four Seasons: Spring

Springtime may be upon old Antonio, but a season of mud is upon me. A rivulet of melted snow and ice runs down my driveway and along the road to the creek at the bottom of the hill. I can't help kicking the slush away from its sides, like a child obsessed with floating sticks down a stream or jumping in a puddle, to make it run faster in the hope that the yard will dry out sooner.

It might not be lovely outdoors - though the breeze is fresh and green blades of grass show here and there - but indoors, things are blooming. How springtime-fresh are these pretty quilt fabrics? Can't wait to start some Shabby Chic, cottage-y patchwork. These are Cherry Baby from Lakehouse (left) and Serenity from 3 Sisters (right).

And I'm a mama today! Meet Eggbert, the Tuppinz Farm Animal Of The Day:

Finally my eBay eggubator has proven its worth! The other two eggs should hatch within the next 24 hours. The one that has hatched has an Ameraucana hen for a mother, and the father is probably a Golden-Laced Wyandotte. If this chick is a hen (whom we will then call Eggbertina), we will know for sure who the father was when she starts laying, as (I believe) egg color is inherited from the father's side.

Chef Jeff has been cooking lamb - Indian, as usual. This recipe was great - red chilies, cilantro, and Jeff's fresh homemade garam masala. The potatoes are from a Tibetan recipe which includes turmeric, ginger, garlic, and green chilies - fabulous flavor, and very easy to make. Very warming (especially with all the chilies Jeff puts in!)

If I could only get Jeff to make momos (Tibetan dumplings) from that cookbook, I'd be all set...

Food by Chef Jeff,
handwoven napkin by Stasia.

Speaking of Tibetan, Frieda's lovely cashmere is spinning up just great on my Tabachek Tibetan spindle. It's a pleasure to use and wonderful for spinning short fibers.

And guess what finally showed up?

Last year's spring clip - the hoggett fleeces of our flock - from the processor. We have homegrown!!

The Shetland is soooo soft, but I really love the variations in the Jacobs' roving (above) and the resulting handspun yarns (below):

That strange looking thing on the lower left is a hat I've started for Jeff. He wanted one made specifically from Gruyere, his favorite Jacob ewe.

And no, I still haven't sewn the sleeves into his sweater, but I did at least cut the steeks! Judging by the river running through the yard, I don't think he'll have much use for it anymore this year. (Good, I can quilt instead!)

If anyone has gone through the process of building a house from scratch, would you please give me any tips you may have to offer? Any and all advice is very welcome. Our 1880s farmhouse has been determined to be hopeless in terms of renovation, so we must begin again and are looking here. Remind me someday to tell you about Hobby Farm Mistake #1...

Have a happy St. Patrick's Day and don't drink too much green beer!

10 March 2008

Keeping Warm

ETA link to cookbook.

Frieda, Frieda, how do I love thee...

Let me count the ways...

Is it for your polka-dots?

The way you take your medicine so well?

Is it because you look like George Washington...

and Worf?

No... I love you best for the .6 ounces of cashmere I combed off of you this week!

Yee-ha! I'm spinning it on my Tabachek Tibetan spindle and it's gorgeous. Good girl!

Jeff made up a fantastic recipe and I had to share it with you.

Chef Jeff's Cinnamon Shrimp

1 Tbs ghee
1 tsp black mustard seeds
½ of a 3” stick cinnamon (simply split lengthwise)
7 cloves
5 green cardamom pods (crack pod shells gently, but keep intact, for flavor)
3 cloves garlic sliced
1 Tbs ginger chopped
½ tsp turmeric
1 bunch scallions cut into 1” pieces
1-2 serrano peppers sliced (we prefer 2 – use 1 if afraid of heat)
salt to taste
¾ lb medium shrimp
¼ cup cilantro, chopped

Heat the ghee over medium high heat. Add the mustard seeds, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom pods to the ghee until the mustard seeds turn gray and begin to “pop.” Add the ginger and garlic and sauté for 1-2 minutes until the garlic barely begins to brown. Add the peppers, scallions, turmeric and salt and stir for about 15 seconds. Immediately add the shrimp and sauté until just cooked through. Serve over fragrant rice (recipe below) and garnish with chopped cilantro.

Fragrant Rice

1 c basmati rice
1½ c water
5 green cardamom pods
1 3” stick cinnamon (or use the other half of the split stick from above)
5 cloves
1 Indian bay leaf

Rinse the rice well, add water and soak for 20 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, turn down to very low, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit for 20 minutes covered. Fluff with a fork and serve.

The above recipes go very well with Bean Poriyal (excellent recipe in Dakshin Vegetarian Cuisine from South India – Chandra Padmanabhan – Periplus, 1992).

Chef Jeff recommends a King Estate 2006 Pinot Gris (Oregon) with this dish.

In fiberarts... I've been on hold with Jeff's sweater. (Argh! No more non-seamless items!!! No more man sweaters!) I had to do a test swatch for my steek because I wanted to see if I could crochet it, rather than machine-sew it.

Nope. Stinky steek. In doing further research, it seems you can only crochet steeks in very sticky, very fine, Fair Isle-patterned garments. Poo.

So I got out my machine, sewed the steeks, promptly had a renewed urge to quilt, and avoided any additional progress on the sweater by shopping for fabric online and perusing blogs of talented quilters. Sigh.

I really must get past this project and on to some fun (read: colorful) knitting. However, I have developed a sad condition known as "trigger finger" whereby the ring finger of my left hand gets stuck in a bent position hundreds of times a day. I have to wear a metal brace on it at night to keep it from getting stuck while I sleep. Very inconvenient for crafting, not to mention blogging. :(

At the farm... we have had a bit of snow:

One day we found that we were missing some sheep. They were in the road. Jeff called them back in to the paddock and dug a trench to prevent any further escapes (they just stepped over the wire!) Hobby farm mistake number 732: calculate snow and/or bedding build-up in your fence plans... Pippin (seen above, next to Frieda) has been escaping from the goat paddock due to a mound of hay that grew beneath the goats' feeders. When he sees me come out the front door, he nonchalantly jumps back in to avoid scolding.

The whitetail does, now pregnant, are getting very hungry and venturing closer and closer to the pastures every day:

I can't blame them - it's been very, very cold. But we seem to be collecting quite a few!

The donks had their bi-monthly pedicure and did very well. We, however, froze while the farrier was here. Thank goodness he works quickly (and gently... he's an advocate of the natural hoof care method and does a great job.)

Mr. Boris is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed now that he's cured of Lyme disease and the other problems he had when we found him.

And I think Molly has finally stopped growing - she's almost as big as Dobie Emma.

Hope you are well and warm! Please say hi if you've stopped in today!