Friday, September 22, 2017

Around the Farm

It is breeding season for the sheep. In early August the rams were moved into the various pastures where the ewes have been summering. We are hoping for lambs in January. This is our new Texel ram. 

He is in the fields just outside our farmhouse. He is a friendly fellow having been raised in a small flock of sheep in CT that had a bit more human interaction than ours do. Our sheep graze far and wide and after a summer away from the barns they are wilder than heck. Every time I walk into the pastures, he comes up to me for a scratch on the head. This is our second Texel ram and we are looking forward to his lambs to see how they grow. He has a very blocky shape to his body and The Farmer is looking for a lower to the ground animal that is a little easier to handle and move around. 

The ewes have not been shorn yet. Once they return to their winter barns, they will be. Hopefully their fleeces will grow a bit to keep them warm this winter. This is one of The Farmer's new management plans. He is always trying new things. I just go along because the sheep are his thing, not mine. He doesn't tell me what color to paint and I don't tell him what breed of sheep to buy. Could be why we are still married after 32 years. 

I've been working in my pottery shed in the late afternoons until almost dark. The sheep move out to graze as the sun is going lower in the sky. With the windows open, I watch them start to move out down the hill and into the orchard. They are curious about the noise in the shed and we usually talk to each other a bit. (Go ahead Julia - roll your eyes.) 

Here are some more photos around our farmhouse. I know I am a broken record about sunflowers so these photos show you some other things I grow. Everything is looking a bit tired now but I let it all keep going. I haven't decided whether I will buy any mums this year. To me, mums kind of signal the end of the growing season and they make me a bit sad. 

This was my zinnia harvest the other day. The more you cut them, the more blooms they put out. Gotta keep harvesting otherwise they die down. 

Sadie's hair is starting to grow out and she is looking less like a lab and more like a Pyr. She has been very busy at night protecting the sheep all night long. It's dark out there and she takes her job seriously. 

Hope you all are having a good week. 

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Getting Ready + More Sunflower Love

The last Creative Retreat of 2017 is this coming weekend. I have a full class of knitters and it should be a fun time - as all of them have been over the years. I can't believe I have been doing the retreats since 2009. They have morphed and changed over the years. I think I have them where they need to be now. I'll be working on some new ideas for Retreats for 2018 since I have students who love to return and learn something new. I so look forward to meeting new folks and welcoming back students to the farm who have been here before. Hopefully I will take some photos to share with you all next week. 

The sunflowers have been changing daily. New rows and varieties are opening each day. Kind of crazy that I find so much joy in just looking at these beautiful flowers. I love to watch them bud, then bloom, and finally grow older and decay. It is such a short season of bloom. It is truly stunning to wander through the rows with flowers much taller than I am. The bees are working like crazy collecting the pollen. I've been working in my pottery studio which is just a few feet from the flowers so in the evening after I am done, I wander through the garden, collect some blooms and dig around in the garden for something to use for dinner. We have had a great harvest of squash, green beans and basil. The tomatoes have been far from prolific but luckily the veggie farmers have been more successful than me. 

Here are a few sunflower photos from the past few days. Where I remember, I have added the name of the sunflower with the photo. All the seeds were purchased from Sunflower Selections

A budding ProCut variety
Blooming Procuts

Procuts are the variety that you purchase in the grocery store and farmers markets. They yield one flower per stem. They aren't my favorites because they are a little too perfect but I always grow them anyway because of their vase life. They come in many colors. 

This is one of my favorite sunflowers. It is called Stella Gold. It has very long thin petals. I love how it ages as the center grows and the petals become less prominent.

Here are some overall shots of the rows that have been blooming for a little while. 

Here is another view of my garden. You can see the zinnias and other flowers in front of the sunflowers. 

Here is a photo of my pottery studio where I have been spending some nice hours making. Can you see the dahlias blooming at the lower left. I have never had much luck with dahlias because I don't put them in early enough and I don't water enough. This year my sister Laurie gave me some tubers and at least the red ones are blooming. 

I hope your days and evenings are going well. Autumn officially begins this week. I can feel the season changing. Have a great day everyone. 

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Kittens + Sunflowers

Kittens and sunflowers - what could be better? 

We've been loving our summer litter of "Petunia kittens." They were born July 4th and now are ready to go to their new homes. There are three sweet little beings and they have patriotic themed names - Abby, George and Betsy. Abby is the striped tiger and she is spoken for. Betsy is a classic tuxedo cat with medium length hair and is quite a spitfire. She is available.

George is a long hair tuxedo cat and the calmest of the three. He is also available. 

Email me if you are interested in adopting a kitten. 
kristinnicholas AT gmail DOT com

The sunflowers are really starting to come into their own. Here are a few photos of the blooming varieties right now. It is a gorgeous sight. 

All of the seeds were purchased from Sunflower Selections. Here is their site

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Summer Scenes from our Farm + Ramblings

How are you all? It seems like ages since I paid attention to this space. I know that many of you come here just for the regularity of the scenes from our farm. I apologize for not being as active on this blog recently. Summer is a busy time on our farm and I just haven't felt the urge to post and share too much - not here nor FB or IG. I needed an internet break and so I took one this August. I'm just coming back to it here now. 

Julia enrolled in our local Greenfield Community College. It was a lot to figure out considering I haven't been to college since the 1980's. Boy have things changed. It is a big change for her and she is just trying a light load to see how she does. She has always had a lot of help through school and now it is on her to figure out how to get the help she needs. She is good at speaking up for herself. Fingers crossed.

I have my first publicity meeting this week for my upcoming book Crafting A Patterned Home. The book doesn't launch until next April 2018. It all seems so far away but I know the time will go quickly. I just looked at the "pages" for the last time and I am very happy with the way it all came out. Looking forward to holding it in my hands next year and sharing previews with you all closer to publication date. 

What am I doing in the meantime besides waiting for the new book to launch? It seems like I am always busy with something. Still doing the Tuesday Northampton Mass Farmers Market from 1:30 to 6:30. In a couple weeks, I have my last Creative Retreat of 2017 - it is a knitting/embroidery/afghan retreat and it is full. Yay! Should be fun.

I'm working towards my annual Holiday Open House - the date is still to be determined. I'm also thinking about opening my ceramic studio October 14/15 during a nationwide event called National Clay Week October 9th to 15th. I'm not sure if anyone would come but it would give me reason to work very hard making and firing new work. I am a total deadline driven person and it is time for me to impose some self-imposed deadlines otherwise I won't get anything done. That's the thing about being self-employed - it is up to me to make up the ideas and make it happen without letting life slip away and not accomplishing anything. 

My clay studio isn't very large. In fact it is mighty small. This past weekend I rearranged it all and bought some new cheap-o plastic shelves so I wouldn't trip over all the buckets and stuff all over the floor. I've purchased what I think is a winter's worth of clay and hope I get to use it all. I won't be able to use the studio in the winter because it isn't heated. I've got to crank out more work to decorate once the weather turns cold. 

The world seems to be so unsettled lately. My heart goes out to all of those who have lost so much in the recent hurricanes, earthquakes and fires. There is not much I feel I can do to help being so far away. That is except donate money. And so I will. My sister Lynn lives just outside of Naples. This past few days has been full of worry for her safety. She made it through as did her cat but we are still waiting to hear more. Her cell phone is out of power and who knows when the electricity will come back on. At least she is safe. Prayers for everyone affected. 

Looking forward to sharing more here soon. Hope you all are safe and well. 

Friday, September 08, 2017

A Visit to Boscobel + Make Do Collection of Andrew Baseman

Almost twenty years ago, I purchased this pitcher at an antique store. I fell in love with the blue and white color and the incised design. What really caught my eye though was the handle which had been repaired with metal staples painted white to match the ceramic color of the pitcher. 

Every year I have loved using this pitcher for summer flowers.

Fast forward a few years later or so, I read an article in Martha Stewart Living Magazine, where I was introduced to the "Make Do" world of Andrew Baseman. (Gee, I miss the old version of MS Living - do you?You can see that article from 2001 here. Andrew had collected antiques that were repaired with clever treatments. Wood and metal turned bases that were attached to glass stemware, ceramic pitchers repaired with metal staples, teapots with metal handles and knobs and platters and plates repaired with metal staples. I was intrigued by the clever way that someone had taken the time to repair these pieces so that they could still be used. 

I have been following Andrew's blog Past Imperfect for many years and learned that his collection would be displayed at Boscobel in Garrison, NY. This past August, Julia, Mom and I hopped in the car and visited Bosobel, a historic house built in the late 18th/early 19th century in NY. Boscobel has a fascinating history. The beautiful antique home was actually moved to a site right on the Hudson River in the mid 20th century. You can learn more about Boscobel here

Today, I am going to share with you this beautiful home. We had a fantastic tour guide who was funny and smart and let us in on many of the secrets to the home. Throughout the home, Andrew's  Make Do collection was placed on tables, mantles and sideboards. 

I was so happy to get to see this home and collection. In the basement of the home (the former kitchen), there is a second exhibit of more of Andrew Baseman's Make Do collection. I'll share close-ups of many of these soon. 

If you live close to Boscobel or are looking for an adventure, I highly suggest a visit to both the house and the exhibit. It is on until October 1. On September 22, Andrew will be doing a special presentation. More info here.

The view from the entrance to the house of the Hudson

Entrance hall

Wallpaper detail

Parlor fireplace detail

Dining Room

Make Dos in the pantry

Upstairs the bedrooms are a little less opulent but just as beautiful. There were many Make Dos scattered throughout.

This candlewicking bedspread was incredible.

Upstairs there was also a gorgeous library with a table loaded with pottery Make Dos.

I'll share more of the exhibit of Make Dos soon.