Sunday, March 15, 2009

Arts & Crafts

Combing the arts of design, supplies acquisition, construction and painting, we have completed our sign! Along the bottom we will hang notices like Open Farm Today 10-4, Yarn & Roving, etc. -- as soon as I make them. When granddaughters are here next week, we will plant a flowerbed beneath it.

People enjoy this road as a lovely "back-door" drive into Eugene, and the sign will capture the curiosity of passers-by for Open Ranch Days. We love visitors!

Very Local Painters
As Mike and I unloaded the van recently, we noticed a car driving slowly past, and a few minutes later, it returned up the hill. The car stopped across the end of the driveway and the passenger jumped out, rushing to introduce herself as a neighbor from a nearby street. She and her friend were in search of a place to set up their easels and paint boxes, to watercolor landscapes before daylight eluded them. We made our introductions and invited them to look around for a vista that would work.

Cathy and Victoria are members of Plein Air Painters of Eugene, and they go out each week, rain or shine, to paint outdoor scenes. Enjoying their enthusiasm and expertise, I invited them to come again, and they connected me with their fearless leader, Brooks. Now Aragon Alpacas is on the painters' April calendar, and we look forward to hosting the group, rain or shine.

Spinners' Camp
Mike gifted me with my first trip away from the farm since the alpacas began to arrive last March by taking over my chores while I attended a 4-day spinners' retreat at the Silver Falls Conference Center. The EWES (Eugene Wednesday Evening Spinners) get away for a long weekend every spring and fall. This time, 16 clever, bright, creative, energetic women shared their expertise and joy as we spun, knitted, crocheted, and laughed our way through the days, pausing only to eat and sleep.

Besides me, the EWES welcomed two other newcomers to the retreat, one a knitter, the other a crocheter. We stayed in threesome cabins, and geek-knitter Andrea bunked with Elissa and me.

No longer can I shyly claim to be a beginning spinner, although as with everything else, there is always more to learn. I came home with a greater appreciation for fiber arts and a heightened self-confidence in my spinning abilities.

I learned to ply my early spinning attempts into chunky yarn. With practice, and from watching others, I can spin more delicately. Now to complete some other projects on the needles so I can knit something from my beginner yarn. Much like the first pot that comes out of the kiln in pottery, this first yarn attempt will be memorable for its own lessons and reasons.

I have signed up for the 'wheel mechanics' class at Black Sheep to learn which knob to turn when, and how to alter the functions of my double-drive Ashford Traveller wheel. Hopefully the four births due mid-June will be accommodating so I can attend this session!

The Art of Weaning
While dancing with the rain these spring days, I am weaning cria: day weaning for a week, and then 24/7. Troubadour and Jedlicka are looking especially damp, although beneath all of that alpaca fleece is a very dry animal.

Mike is drafting plans for another shelter, to increase the use of our pens. Then we can house the kindergarten class of weanling boys in the male area.

Oh, and we've purchased four hop rhizomes as starter vines. In home-brewing, hops are one of the most expensive ingredients. By growing our own, we'll not only have enough for the recipes, but also for making into fragrant wreaths and arrangements.

Our beekeeper brought by a bucket of honey and recipes for mead, so that's on our agenda, too!

(our little cabin in the woods at Silver Falls' Retreat)