By Sophie Moeckel
” There is no season such delight can bring
as summer, autumn, winter and the spring.”
In the summer we gather water,
water for scorched plants,
water around our boats on the river.
Everyday to the creek, submerging in the cool water,
refreshing ourselves after a hot days labor.
We gather bug bites, sunburns, and bare feet,
lemonade, ice cream and milk.
Lots of milk. It’s peak season.
We turn on the second fridge and make cheese,
grateful to the girls out in the pasture.
The kitchen is full in the summer,
full of baskets of produce,
and full of people we love to feed.
We gather honeybees and flowers,
we gather AT hikers and helpers, we gather friends.
Our baskets overflow in the summer,
overflow with eggs, with fruit, with herbs, with vegetables.
We work hard, and we play hard, our days
are full of gathering
for the seasons to come.
In the fall we gather apples.
We gather with friends around the cider press
and stir the copper apple butter kettle with hands
that ache from chopping and peeling-
It feels good, that annual ache.
We eat apple crisp, apple pie, and pumpkin pie.
Colorful leaves drift down around us,
Canada geese fly south above us,
and we know that it is fall.
We bring in the last of the harvest
in preparation for the first chilling frost.
We gather hay in the fall,
filling the barn as green pastures turn brown,
like the leaves.
We gather family in the fall,
Together we cook,
And together we are thankful.
In the winter we gather warmth,
the warmth of the wood stove, the warmth of tea, and soup.
Lots of soup.
We gather wool in the winter- wool on our bodies, wool on our needles,
wool on the bobbins of the spinning wheels.
We gather friends together, for tea, for crafting, for play,
for meals or for lovely chats by the wood stove.
We gather on the pasture hills in the winter
when the ground is carpeted in snow.
We gather around the fire pit and sip
hot chocolate, out in the snow.
Then, back we go to sledding,
snowboarding, snowball fights, skiing,
The pasture is full of friends,
gathering together, celebrating the snow.
We gather ideas in the winter
and enjoy other seasons’ bounty, preserved.
In the spring we gather sunshine and cool breezes,
we soak in the freshness of the awakening world.
We revel in each new bud, in each sprout that pokes up out of the thawing ground,
reaching for the sunshine.
We watch as buds open into blossoms,
as green appears on branches, and as a fresh carpet bursts forth beneath our feet.
We gather daffodils and crocuses, hyacinth and forsythia.
We fill our house with flowers, throw open the windows,
and move outside.
We gather dirt in the spring,
dig our hands and feet into it
and paint our fingernails brown with soil.
We gather weeds in the spring,
struggling to keep up with them.
We gather violets to infuse our vinegar,
and bring in the first round of produce-
the peas, lettuce, spinach; all those wonderful plants that can take
the chill that still lingers.
We gather new life in the spring.
Once again the pastures are alive with floppy eared kids,
and bouncing lambs. With romping puppies,
and with new mothers, ravenous for fresh green grass.
We welcome nesting boxes full of peeping chicks
and yet another mother duck who appears, leading her brood behind her.
We gather them all into our arms-
goats, lambs, puppies, kittens, ducklings, chicks,
amazed that there is this much cuteness in the world.
We gather, and know that spring is the beginning
of seasons of learning. Seasons full of joy and struggles, of work and play.
Of new ideas triggering new projects, of successes and failures.
Seasons full of friends and family, new and old,
and full of love and growth.
Seasons of sowing and of gathering.
Here are some pictures that were mostly taken last year that I thought fit into the theme of Gathering the Seasons.
Happy September to all! It has been almost 6 full weeks since I last posted on this poor, abandoned blog. Now I’ll fill you in on what we’ve been up to here at Arcadia Farm.
My mom was diagnosed with late stage Lyme disease and acute Bartonella in June. She started treatment at the same time that we acknowledged a mold problem in our house. We have had leaks and water issues in our house for a long time (the central log cabin part is from 1830 – old house!) but as a result of this unusually moist spring and summer here in Virginia, the mold became more obvious on tables, toys and beds. A test was done on Mama that shows that she has a genetic inability to process mold of any type. Looking back, we all had some symptoms of mold exposure in recent years. On doctor’s orders, Mama, Ola, William and I got out of the house in the first week of July and immediately started feeling better. We have not been staying in our house since!
The first three weeks we stayed at our friend Julie’s house half an hour from the farm. During that time Papa took care of the farm, worked on solving the problem of our moldy house and visited us at Julie’s. With help and support from Julie and countless other friends, Mama was able to rest during the worst weeks of treatment. Those three quiet, restful , and difficult weeks included swimming in Julie’s pool, reading, walking around the neighborhood, spinning, cooking and eating delicious, nutritious food and focusing on healing our bodies. Next we headed out of town for a few great weeks with family at the beach and elsewhere in North Carolina.
Mama is now taking a break from Lyme treatment, focusing on detoxing from mold, and feeling better than she has in a long time. And for the last three weeks we have been enjoying calling the cozy 11×11 log guest cabin home. The cabin is nestled in the field to the side of our house with great views of the mountains, including Purgatory Mountain where Papa cut the logs that we used to build it. Our dwelling includes a loft with a queen bed (and a spinning wheel since it is my room ); a queen bed in the downstairs along with tables, chairs, etc.; a front porch and screened in side porch/ living room; and an outhouse. You can see more pictures of it in the Cabin Help Exchange section of this blog, but here are some recent ones of our daily life in the lovely cabin.
We are basically living outdoors and I love it, especially in this crisp, cool weather that we have been having. We cook on propane stoves and eat at picnic tables or on the porch. We are daily forming our rythmn of cabin living and learning while working with a crew of helpers on cleaning every single thing we own and every single surface in our house in an effort to get rid of the mold. It’s a great opportunity to go through STUFF and truckload after truckload has gone off to the Goodwill!
It has been fun seeing what the farm can do with only the minimum care in the last few months. We harvest the garden on and off, but other than that, Pemaculture is taking care of itself in any way it pleases. It’s a little crazy in there, but there are still beautiful perennials blooming so thickly that they strangle some weeds and the vegetables are fighting it out on their own and still producing. The goats and sheep are fat and glossy and needing very little maintainence these days; the poultry is moulting but doing well; and thank goodness for the dogs and cats.
Fall is coming in and you can feel it and see it these days here at Arcadia Farm.
I hope that these pictures show how much we are enjoying the good parts of this unusual summer and how it is all working out.
Now that you readers know what is going on, start looking for updates once a week! We’ll see how long it lasts but right now that’s my goal!
While week one of the Tour De Fleece was designated as food and fiber week on Ravelry, week two’s theme was animals and week three had a theme of music.
During week two I finished spinning and plying 2 skeins of wool from our sheep Pippi. It is now waiting to be dyed the color of Coral Aqua Reef and then I can start knitting it up into a Pippi scarf. Then I started spinning some soft blue wool and more of Pippi.
We were staying at a friend’s house during animal week. She is the kind of friend who is fine with me bringing BOTH my spinning wheels into her house as she welcomes our family for 3 weeks as we try to work out a mold problem in our house. As a result of not being at home, I don’t have many pictures of the animals to share with you. Although technically I am sharing some pictures of some of our animals’ hair!
Music week I plied together the blue and white which made me dizzy as I watched the blue travel up the white like a barber shop sign.
The unspun wool in some of those pictures is what I spun the rest of music week, week three, the last week. It is a dreamy merino silk blend in a color called Black Cherry Moonshine. Don’t you just want to eat it? (Or drink it?) I do!
A Help Exchanger who stayed in the cabin recently (Check out the section of the blog on Cabin Help Exchange if you are interested) was a great mandolin player and he and I played music together while he was here. Here are some evening pictures of jamming bluegrass on the porch taken by Mama.
You can also go to our friend’s blog, Pilgrims at Tinker Creek, to see beautiful pictures of a lovely evening spent at the Fincastle Winery with friends and music.
The Tour de Fleece got me back into the habit of spinning and reminded me of how much I enjoy playing with fiber. Here is what I accomplished in those three weeks. It was skeins of fun!
And now to knitting.
I promise I’ll give you a break from fiber now!
Team Mosaic kicked off Tour De Fleece 2013 with a lovely party at Mosaic Yarn Store in Roanoke. The team members and their wheels formed a circle around a table of delicious treats; eating, talking, laughing, knitting and most importantly spinning while listening to the whirring of the wheels and drop spindles.
The rest of week one, I focused on spinning wool from our sheep named Pippi Longstocking. She is famous as her father was the UNC mascot ram, Ramsey. I was hiking when Pippi was born and I’ve never gotten over the disapointment of missing our first lamb birth, although I’ve seen many more since then. Pippi is a Tunis Dorset cross and was born with the red coloring on her legs that is typical of the Tunis breed and reminded me of stockings – hence her name!
The theme of the first week of Tour De Fleece was food and fiber and so, as those are two of my favorite things, here are some pictures.
This was my first post on the Tour De Fleece forum:
And for food – there is plenty of it in July!
After trying out a friend’s spinning wheel, I was addicted to the soothing, rhythmic feel of spinning. My first spinning wheel was a 13th birthday gift from my parents two years ago. A dear friend helped me to put my wheel together, supplied me with my first fiber and tought me how to spin fiber into yarn. She is my spinning partner and I go to her with any questions related to fiber, which are quite frequent. Once I start spinning, it’s hard to stop. The calming motion puts me into a spinning trance as in one motion my feet treadle which spins the wheel which twists the fiber as my fingers guide the twist up wool that my other hand has prepared. And of course I love the end result of a beautiful imperfect skein of yarn, every inch spun by you and your wheel. It makes the knitting of the yarn ten times more special too.
Allow me to introduce you to my industrious wheels.
Here is my first bumpy lumpy skein of hand spun yarn. ( I have a practice skein too, but I’m not showing you that one
It was turned in to a birthday cowl for my mama’s birthday in March. This pattern is called the Ridged Lace Cowl.
My second skein was 4 oz. of a cantaloupe colored merino, tussah silk, bamboo blend. That is now a Reverse Rice Stitch Cowl and Saving Grace Headband set for me. I’m wearing it in the above picture
My interest right now is going all the way from sheep to garment. As you know, we have plenty of fleeces from Arcadia Farm’s herd of sheep. One of my winter projects was dying some of the wool from Pippi Longstocking, a Tunis Dorset cross sheep in our herd and the first animal that was born on our farm when we moved here.
I dyed it with Black Tea. I got inspiration and instructions from various sites online including Pumpkin Spins and That Yarn Store and of course my spinning friend, Angie whose beautiful hand spun yarn is available from her Etsy shop, Good Ground Farm Fiber.
First I soaked the clean, carded wool in soapy water.
Then I made a very strong big pot of plain black tea. When it looked dark enough I removed the tea bags and put the wool into the warm tea.The end result was a lot lighter in color than I had expected, but still a pretty creamy light brown.Here’s what it looks like now, spun and waiting to be plied. ( Plying is where you spin multiple strands of spun fiber together to create a stonger, thicker yarn.)
This is my first year participating in the Tour De Fleece. The Tour De Fleece is through Ravelry which is an online knitting, spinning, crocheting, and felting community with millions of patterns, ideas and fiber loving people. June 29th through July 21 team members of the Tour De Fleece spin along with the Tour De France bike race. We have different themes for each week and a forum where we post our spinning progress. The main goals are just to get motivated to spin, to try and spin every day, to get ideas, to try new things and to have fun. I’m a member of Team Mosaic, a Wildcard team off of the main Tour De Fleece on Ravelry. Mosaic is a lovely yarn store in Roanoke and Blacksburg. It makes you happy when you walk in to the friendly atmosphere of sweet people and yummy yarn, patterns etc. Mosaic Maniacs is their group on Ravelry and that’s where we post our progress. If you are a fiber person, you should definitely check out Ravelry and the Tour De Fleece, the Mosaic Yarn Shop and I’d love to hear from you if you are visiting Ravelry. I’m known as Nubianmilker on Ravelry.
I’m excited to keep you updated on the Tour De Fleece in upcoming posts.
Here are some summer pictures of farm and family and friends at a recent Arcadia Farm potluck.
The hot sheep finally got relieved of their beautiful, but heavy and hot wool coats. The sheep shearer came a few days ago and with sure, quick strokes he shaved our ten ewes while we watched. I labelled the fleeces as he laid them out to dry off in the hay room of the barn before going into their separate bags.
Here are some of the shorn Scottish Black Face, Tunis, and Dorset sheep out grazing with the fireflies. It’s time to start skirting, washing, carding, spinning, dying and knitting. There is plenty of wool!
The big, juicy, sweet black and red raspberries that line the garden fence are at their peak right now.
We ate the whole pie in one sitting. Yep, next time I’m going to double the recipe. Or maybe triple it. Ola and William helped me to make it, and the very next morning after we ate it they were ready to make another one. The flour in the custard somehow sinks to the bottom as the pie bakes and forms a sort of soft crust. It’s simple to make and creamy and tart and the almond extract and raspberry go really well together. Here is the recipe from Baking Bites. I used Wades Mill flour, goat milk, and goat yogurt in mine.
Crustless Raspberry Custard Pie
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup yogurt (pref. greek-style)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond extract
12-oz fresh raspberries
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease a 9-inch pie plate.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.
In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, yogurt, vanilla and almond extract until very smooth. Add in flour mixture and whisk to combine. This can also be done in the food processor.
Add raspberries into filling mixture and gently stir to coat. Pour into prepared pie plate, shifting raspberries around with a spoon or spatula to evenly distribute them in the pie.
Bake for 30-40 minutes, until custard is set and a knife inserted into the center of the pie comes out clean.
Allow to cool before slicing and serving.
Serves 8. (My opinion would be 4, but that’s just me!) YUM!
Happy Summer Solstice to all!
TO EAT NOW AT ARCADIA FARM: a list made 6.13.13
Carrots Beets Turnips Chèvre, St. Maure, Ash Cheese
Chard Peas Red and black raspberries Gooseberries, strawberries
Kale Nettles Onions Garlic Scape, Nettle and Basil pesto
Tomatoes Rhubarb Savoy Cabbage Basil, mint ,lavender, parsley, herbs, herbs, herbs!
Lamb Duck Eggs- duck, chicken, guinea Maple Syrup
Horseradish Hot Peppers Eggplant MILK! Yogurt, Kefir