I’ve Got A Lovely Bunch…

Of eggs!  The girls are starting to produce.  It is about time they pull their weight around here.  I’ve been feeding these moochers since June and finally they are giving back.  Isn’t this a lovely looking basket?  egg-basket

5 hens producing 3 eggs a day.  Somebody is still slacking, or maybe I really have 5 layers and they all are lazy only giving one every now and then.  Can’t figure it out, but I expect more per day as they days get longer.  AND the rooster, Smokey Robinson, is clearly doing his job.  Every egg we crack looks like it is fertile.  How can you tell you may ask?  Well, the spot on the yellow looks like it has a halo around it.  I would like to try to hatch some, but hubby doesn’t want to use an incubator, so I guess we  will have to wait until someone gets broody.  Imagine letting them do it naturally.  What has this world come to?

I have also been knitting some more.  I went to a Fiber Festival this past weekend.  Wow, talk about inspiration.  I bought all kinds of stuff and came home ready to hit the wheel and the needles.  If I only didn’t have a life.  I wonder if you can knit while you ride horses?  Anyway, I did make this neat cowl.  I think it is artsy and if you close one eye and squint, it is kind of pretty.  Made with trash silk yarn.  Don’t know where I will wear it.  I seem to have an over abundance of cowls.

art-cowl

But, I have gotten inspired to try my hand at socks again.  I pulled out my half-finished $50 hot pink sock and am going to try using the toe up method with circular needles.  Looks much easier if I can figure out how to master the Turkish cast on and switching up needles without getting confused.  More to come on that one.  If anyone has any words of wisdom, please pass them along.

And finally, the biggest news of all around here is the birth of our newest grandson.  Should have led with that one, right?  Surprise!  Max was born on February 10th.  A few days early; he was supposed to be a valentine.  Just a cutie pie!  Maybe he needs some socks from grandmom.  max

That’s it!  I can’t top that one.

mvb

A Winter Reprieve

We have had beautiful weather here on the farm for the past two days.  Start out the mornings below freezing with temperatures soaring to the upper fifties by early afternoon.  I decided to let my flock free range these two days since I am home and it has been so nice out.  Usually thy stay “cooped” up because we have coyotes, foxes and hawks that would love to make a meal of my birds. 

My flock consists of six birds.  Sophia, Zas Zas and Marilyn are the Silver Lace Wyndottes.  I originally called them the Dixie Chicks, but the more I get to know them, I realize that just won’t do.   They are flashy birds.  A bit bossy.  Definite DIVAS. Therefore the names after famous women.  I love the black and white lacy pattern in their wings.  They have been with me since August.   I must say, they aren’t very friendly.  This is Sophia (as in Loren, she looks like a movie star doesn’t she?)

My Rhode Island Reds are more down to earth.  I currently have three RIRs.  My hens, Diana and Aretha are joined by the man of the group Smokey Robinson. They make a nice trio.  I did have six RIR hens.  I lost three of them in October due to an infection that mimicked the dreaded Mericks Disease.  After the first two died a week apart I took the third ill hen to the state lab to have her analyzed.  If it was Mericks, I would have to destroy my entire flock and give up any hopes of breeding my heritage birds.  Luckily, it wasn’t so hopefully I can breed my RIRs.   That is if any of them ever start laying, the moochers!  I got three egg back in September. Evidently laid by one of the girls that passed on.  I am hoping production kicks in once molting season is over.  Otherwise I am going to have a hard time justify feeding these freeloaders.  But in the meantime I love spending time with them and watching their very spohiticated society.

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Oh Mercy, Mercy Me

Wow, it has been a full month since I last posted.  And I recall indicating that I would be more diligent about posting.  Well evidently I lie!  What a strange month it has been…

I don’t know if I posted that I broke my knee.  Broke, cracked, whatever, the knee doesn’t work as well as it used to.  This is also the same knee that I had surgery on in December.  Ouch!  So the doctor told me to take it easy, not do anything that would put any pressure on my knee.  “Can I ride?” I asked.  “Well, I would rather you didn’t,” he replied, “but if you must, take an easy stroll and don’t go crazy”.  Ok I can do that.  At 58, I am not that much of a dare devil anymore.

imageTwo weeks later I went camping with my peeps.  We set up camp, had the horses in their fences, life was good.  “Lets go riding”  OK, that was what we were there for.  I got my trusty steed Cisco (the love of my life, mind you) and started to get ready.  He didn’t want to stand still to be tacked.  He spit the bit out several times, and was generally a brat.  Got him ready, put on my helmet (usually I don’t ride with one), and the three of us set out for a nice stroll in the fields.

Cisco evidently didn’t understand what the doc told me.  He was jiggy from the start.  If you ride, you know what I mean.  So around the trees we went, trying to calm him down.  I should have taken him to the ring, but friends were waiting so one I went.  Surely he would settle.  As we rounded the field to go up a slight incline, he decided he was done with walking and started a very animated trot.  I tried to pull him back. Felt things were starting to get out of hand and sat really deep in my saddle, and quietly put my hand on the horn.  Next thing I know we are doing a full out gallop up the hill with him doing his best impression of the bucking bronco.  I was on such a loose rein I could not even do a one rein stop.  I remember saying, well this is it, good bye life….took my foot out of the stirrup and went flying out of the saddle.  However, I would have won that silver buckle! My riding buddies said I had great form and stayed in the saddle well past anything they would have expected.

When I came to, I was staring into Cisco’s nose.  He had a look on his face that was asking what the heck was I doing down on the ground.  My friend was talking to me but my ears were ringing.  I think she was telling me to lay still, but up I went.  Wow did the earth start to spin.  I told them I would walk back to camp, but they called someone who came out into the field and drove me back to camp.  I don’t remember much from that night except that my ribs, neck and back hurt like crazy!  Needless to say, I didn’t stay the weekend.  Left early the next morning.  Crying all the way home.  How could he hurt me like that!  Since I couldn’t stop crying, my husband thought I was really hurt and insisted I go to the urgent care to get checked out.  After 20 x-rays, we were assured nothing was broken, just very very bruised.

This incident was a real eye opener for me.  I know I am getting old, but it never really impacted me.  It sure has now.  I have only been on Cisco once since then.  I am afraid of getting hurt.  It I had osteoporosis, I would be a bag of broken bones!  But I can’t give up riding, it is my only outlet.  So what do to do?

imageBUY A SMALLER HORSE!   Meet Robley…he came to our house Sunday and will be my new riding partner.  A full hand shorter with only one speed, he is going to help me gain my confidence and get back to riding without much fuss.  The vet comes today to check him out.  I sure hope he is the age they told me, and not a horse ready for retirement.  More on him next time.

mvb

Times They Are A Changin’

You may have noticed that I made a slight change to the name of my blog.  It used to read Knitting Socks:  Musings on Life and Death   It now reads Knitting Socks: Life, Love and Adventures at Flamingo Farms.  Why?  Well originally I started writing my blog as a way to help me deal with the sudden death of my older sister.  We had her memorial a few weeks ago after putting it off for several months.  Immediately after the memorial, I spent some time with my middle sister; a very accomplished woman who always looks on the positive side.  Those few days with her have changed my life.

I have a tendency to dwell on my past.  Not a good thing to do.  You can’t change it and  you can’t make it go away.  But what you can do is reduce or eliminate it’s ability to ruin your future.  When I was with my sister, I realized that the difference in our outlook on life were how we processed the past.  She, of course, has regrets, but she has not let those regrets paralyze her ability to positively move forward.  No, that has been my job.  SO, effectively immediately, I am moving on with mindful purpose and  positive outlook.  Maybe easier said than done, but I have a great support system and a wonderful and wise adviser.  And besides, how can you be negative when you get to wake up to the simple (?) life on a Hobby Farm!

The other day, it actually stopped raining.  I went down to the barn at 6:45 as I have been doing for the past 6 years.  But this time, I took my morning cup of coffee with me.   My mare, Va. Tech Gina Leigh is on stall rest.  She has a hole in her flexor tendon and has been in a stall since mid February.  Needless to say, she is not a happy camper at all.  After I gave both of the horses their breakfast, I sat in the barn and drank my coffee.

imageTiger Lily, my lovable feral cat jumped into my lap; kneading and purring in happiness to be there.  Gina was munching quietly on her hay.  The birds were starting to wake up, and were chirping and singing good morning to one another.  There were no other noises, no other distractions to the peace that was Flamingo Farms in the morning.  It was just breath taking.  I sat there so long, my husband came looking for me.  He saw that I was communing with my animals and left without saying a word.

How could you possibly dwell on the negative when you get to start your day like that?  The universe was sending me a message…Life is good, embrace what you have and move forward with confidence and conviction.  Do you think my sister was really the one sending me the message?

mvb
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Routines

I love routines.  My favorite time of day is my morning.  I have a great routine.  One that started taking shape second we bought the farm.  It allows me to greet the day with calming thoughts and silence.  This is how it goes…

I get up before the sun.  Mostly because my husband doesn’t hear the dogs wake up.  They are getting old and seem to have to go to the bathroom earlier every year.  That’s ok, it gets me out of bed for the best time of the day.  So, I get up with the dogs.  Holly, my female English Setter ( the one with all the spots) is such a sweet dog.  We rescued her about 4 years ago.  She is older than we thought and evidently had been hit by a car.  She has a hitch in her kiddy up but that doesn’t keep her down except when it is achy.  She gives me a sweet lick on the cheek every morning when I bend down to give her a good morning pat.  Toby, the perfect gentlemen, lets her go out first.  Then they both come in an sit in the sun porch for their morning biscuit and breakfast. I have my coffee in my favorite rocking chair while the sun comes up.  My view is the field on the side of the house.  It is a great place to just be.image  This picture of the dogs in the sun porch is before we had it redone.  We got rid of the orange shag carpet and put down a floor that looks like a porch floor.  We also painted the walls a sunny yellow and trimmed it all in white. image Love that room! We don’t have much furniture.  It is still a work in progress, but I do have a favorite place to sit.  It is a rocking chair that a friend of ours gave me when her husband passed away and she needed to move.  It is really differentimage

As you can probably tell, it is blocks of wood held together with a rope.  One continuous piece of rope thread through the blocks.  We this morning, my routine was interrupted when my behind sat down and went right through the seat.  Ugh!  The rope snapped at one of the bends.  Now we need to figure out a way to restring the entire chair.  It will definite be a labor of love because without this chair, I won’t be able to start my day looking at this fabulous view.imagemvb

And So It Goes

I picked up my sock knitting this weekend.  Not at all excited to work on it.  I have gotten to the point where I have turned the heel and am now just knitting, and knitting, and knitting until I have the required amount of foot.  Around and around I go.  But I keep at it because at some point I know it will be time for more excitement when I knit the toe and finish the sock.

I guess that is what I have been doing.  I’ve been going through my daily routine. With an injured horse on stall rest,  that now includes cleaning stalls and changing bandages daily.  She isn’t very pleased to be in the stall and will clack her teeth at me.  CLACK, CLACK, CLACK!  It is her way of conveying her displeasure with her circumstances.  Much like the scowl or raised eyebrow of an unhappy parent.  Yet, in she stays, and on I scoop.  But today, today felt different.

I threw open the barn doors and breathed in that lovely horsey smell.  My mid sis, by the way, claims it to be the most disgusting smell she has ever encounted.  I can think of way smellier smells.  To mucking I went.  Pick and toss, scrape and spread until I had two clean stalls.  I let my gelding in at night so she can have some company.  The price I pay for being a softy.  Pleased with my labor, I brought my gelding in from the field and fed them both.  Barn kitty got her food too and off I went to the chicken coop.

I haven’t been very pleased with my chickens lately.  They don’t mind eating, but they sure aren’t laying much.  I am only getting two eggs a day where last year I was getting six this time of year.  I gave them a stern talking to.  Freshened up their nesting boxes, food and water and closed them in for the night.

I was walking away from the coop with my two eggs and glanced up towards the house.  And that was when I saw it; my grand ol Camelia (I call her Camy for short) has started to bloom.  She came with the house and stands about 9 feet tall.  Hubby keeps threatening to chop her down because she is too close to the foundation.  But I stand in his way and champion her right to be there.  Looking at her, I realized that while the boring stuff was happening, life was moving on, changing and evolving.  I have been so caught up in the drama of my grief, I was missing what was happening literally in my own back yard.  And so today, I put aside my daily thoughts, and bask in the knowledge that it won’t always feel so bad.  I know it may turn dark  again tomorrow, but I’ll take the sun where I can find it.

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The Heel or Heal To Matey! Arrgh…

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I made a heel!  It is lovely and I am so excited.  I wasn’t having a very good day yesterday, so instead of wallowing in my sorrow, I picked up my knitting needles (all 4 of them) and started to knit.  And before I knew it, my first heel appeared.  Isn’t it cute!  While I knit, I usually have the TV on.  Since I can’t ride I generally watch some training video.  Yesterday it was Ken McNabb.  Very interesting lesson.

Maybe I should give you some info about me.  I am 57 years old and live at Flamingo Farms (yes that is the name of our farm) with my husband, two horses, two English Setters, 6 hens, a non-feral Kitty, and a partridge in a pear tree.  I love my farm, and if I could stay there all day and never leave I think I would be a happy camper.  Right now I am having knee issues and can’t ride.  I had meniscus surgery two months ago and while in there, the Doc found a tremendous amount of damage under my knee cap caused by arthritis.  Ugh!  I WILL ride by Spring.

Anyway, how we got to Flamingo Farms is mildly interesting.  My husband and I are boaters.  Actually, he was always a boater, I have always been a water person.  So now we are boaters.  We started out as sailors.  Right before we got married, he bought a little sail boat and learned to sail from reading instructional books.  He claims to have been attracted to sail boats because of my Dad, but who knows.  (Dad loved to sail even though he never owned a boat) That is another story.

We had a little 18 foot day sailor and thought we were the bomb.  We put it in a marina in the Northern Neck of VA and sailed around the Potomac.  Now I need to tell you we are not your typical boating couple. He cannot swim.  Let me say that again….HE CANNOT SWIM!  Not only can’t he swim, he can’t float.  He sinks as soon as his body hits the water unless he has on a life jacket.  Ok, so that sucks!  I had to learn to sail the boat and do a man overboard  pick up almost from the first day.  I am pretty good at it if I must say so myself.  Hopefully all I will ever need to pick up out of the water is a flotation device.

Now I, on the other hand, am a wonderful swimmer.  Swim team, various strokes, can float all day long.  However, I get sea sick.  I am not talking just a little queasy, I mean full on sick, complete with projectile spewing.  I can even get sea sick floating on a raft in a pool. Evidently I have gotten motion sick all my life.  My sisters told me that every car rider we took ended in me throwing up in Daddy’s hands.  I have this image in my head of my puke being thrown out the window so we could proceed through a stop light.  But I digress.  Still not good for sailing.  But I take medicine, sleep in the sun and enjoy the experience.  Boy are we a pair.

Anyway, a month after my Dad passed away, we got married by a Justice of the Peace, and spent out honeymoon weekend on a new to us 27′ boat that had a galley (kitchen), head (toilet) and berth (bed).  We were in heaven and spent every weekend we could sailing, puking, and doing man over board drills.  LOVE IT!  Loved it so much we decided to buy a place to retire to when we got old.  Hence the farm.  See I did get there eventually.

The farm is ten miles from the Marina.  It was built in 1908 and we have spent every cent we have restoring it to something beautiful.  We had to.  You see one month after we closed on the farm, our way in the future residence, I lost my job.  That meant that I had two homes and no job.  So we decided to pack up our stuff, and move to the farm before it was all restored and sell the nice modern home I had in Richmond.  I have never regretted the move except when I can ‘t get my clothes in the closet.  I guess people didn’t have multiple outfits back in the early 1900’s