Friday, February 1, 2013

Living Arts on the farm

I hesitate to show you any pictures of what it is like outside, altho I will say that it is sunny. The only green in sight is my little table with my cacti on it. Oh, and the pine trees.They look pretty nice. I woke to zero degrees today and have to remind myself that the thermometer is in the shade. It wasn't much warmer doing chores tho as my nose and eyes ran with the cold.
We put Bernie, the Jersey calf, inside the barn over night since he doesn't have much of a shelter and no one to snuggle with. The other two beeves were knee deep in mud from all the recent rain, so the guys moved them to a dry spot yesterday and they (all) are much happier now. And, the pigs just hunker down and sleep in the sun during the day, piled with hay and straw around them. The tarps help keep them warmer.

I've been working inside...and I refuse to take a picture of the piles of paperwork I've been working on. This is my season for getting all our paperwork pulled together. I compile from our weekly sales lists all our product sales, to who, etc. into an Access database. Then I am able to print reports for us that show what we sold, what week, for how much, and to who. It gives us a pretty good idea of our seasons for our products and which products were most profitable for us. Then I can also print reports for the chefs to show them what they bought, when and how much they spent. I have to say...even tho I do the is impressive. And it shows us and our customers that we take our business serious.
After all the end of year tax info is compiled, and the reports for our farm, then I work on the reports for the Stewards of the Land farmer group for what they sold to Chicago restaurants. They sell many other places as well - Dave's Supermarket, as well as other ones, farmers' markets, CSA's, on farm sales, etc. - but those amounts aren't included in what I compile (thank goodness!).

In my off time I enjoy lost arts...well, I (and my mom) consider them living arts really, but some others think of them as becoming lost. Those are the arts that women traditionally did at home on the farms (and elsewhere). They typically include lots of textile work, which is what I love - knitting, stitching, quilting, weaving, spinning, and more. I have my new loom set up and have been working on some smaller bags, trying to come up with a nice pattern of my own creation for walkers (the kind that are usually metal and assist other walkers). These arts also include soap making (check out Donna's farmwife blog at my connection below), candle making, cooking and preserving, and more.
I've been lucky enough to spend some time with Emma and Kiyoshi of Lucky Duck Farm (just north of Fairbury, IL) learning how they process their fleece from their Icelandic sheep. It is really beautiful and they hope to send it off soon and have it cleaned, carded, and spun. I'll update you later when they have some ready for sale. I've learned a lot from them about the different sheep fibers. Kiyoshi makes gorgeous needle felted animals (check him out on his for Kiyoshi Mino).
Some great places to check into these arts locally include the Lost Arts shop in Fairbury. They sell yarns, fabrics, and all the notions. They also provide some classes. Look into Heartland Community College (or a community college in your area) for some classes this spring including cooking, weaving, and quilting. And, of course, keep an eye on Spence Farm Foundation's website for upcoming classes with Donna making soap and Emma and Kiyoshi teaching about wool.
Now I will attempt to add my first picture...

okay...I have a lot more to learn yet...sorry folks, maybe next time.
hey, I did it! only after 4 hours of trying. Cant guarantee it again, but I can hope.
This is my knitting buddy...making him some cute clothes.


  1. Well, I have to say I'm impressed with the picture of Riptide. And he's knitting too!!! Whatever will he do next. Great blog. Keep it up!

  2. Sounds like you're well stocked with indoor projects for the cold weather...paper and textiles. Do you have your basement garden underway too?