Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Visit to the Common Ground Fair, New Creations, and Ducklings, too!

Where did the weekend week go? I sat down to write to you on Monday morning. I got down a couple lines, uploaded a couple pictures for you and got distracted with other things. Now here it is Friday morning Saturday evening before I am back with some writing. I am hopeful that I will finish before the next distraction comes along. Let's see, shall we?

The girls and I spent Friday morning at the Common Ground Fair with friends. If you haven't been, it is definitely worth the trip and people by the thousands pour in over the weekend to enjoy it. Located in Unity, Maine at the MOFGA grounds, it hosts artisans, farmers, forestry, livestock, organic food, and demonstrations all weekend long. There is no midway of lights, noise, games, or terrifyingly fun rides. In its place are people. People carving wood into spoons, tables, bowls, and other needful things. People, displaying for show or selling to feed their families, their organic harvests of healthy fruits and veggies. People learning how to incorporate how their grandparents did things with new, clean technologies. Very often the artisans hand-spinning angora fiber into lush skeins of brightly plant-dyed yarn can accept credit card payments using their cell phones- a wonderful mash of old and new.

Friday mornings are extra special and busy at the fair to school aged children. The many children's activities through the day include a parade of colorful costumed children bedecked as an array of vegetables, live music, informative classes and sessions are planned. We watched our favorite, the sheep dog demonstration.  In the YEZ (Young Entrepreneur Zone), school-aged children discovered peers running their own small, home-based businesses selling anything from handmade dolls and soaps to wood carvings and jewelry. Many of these young entrepreneurs spend all year honing their skills and creating their crafts. Displays are bright and attractive and the young people behind them know all about their products. I was tempted by an organic chocolate brownie. It was heavenly. My friend, Cherie chose to purchase some home-grown and wildcrafted dry soup mix. We are always impressed with the skills these young people possess.

 Another highlight for me is the large animal area. While I find the horse-pulling demonstrations fascinating, my heart is usually focused on the goats. I enjoy spending a little time talking with their people about practices and experiences, always learning new things to perhaps incorporate into our homestead. No visit is complete for me without checking for some Highland cattle. It made my day when I found this little one. Sean and I are saving our pennies and planning to purchase our Highland Heifer calf in the Spring. We want a family cow for milk and cheese making.

Highlands are a perfect choice for us for several reasons: (1) They are hardy and can withstand the cold temperatures of Maine well. Highlands, bred to thrive in Scotland's landscape, browse pasture land more than they graze- perfect for us. And, they are reputed to give birth easily and have a high live-birth rate. (2) They are on the smaller side, compared to breeds like Holsteins that can average 1,500 pounds. (3) Their milk is high in fat content and is excellent for making butter and cheese. (4) They are just completely lovely to look upon with their fashionably tussled hair.

We are not entering into this venture lightly. We have also factored in that Highlands are more known for their meat quality and are not traditional "dairy" animals. In my admittedly limited experience with cows, I have come to this conclusion. While all cows can be dangerous, diary cows -being handled more frequently- seem to be more docile. Beef cows, on the other hand, seem to know that is what they are and are only too happy to take you out along the way. Highlands are often described as gentle giants and those that I have personally met have lived up to that reputation. It bears keeping in mind, though, that they grow a very large and wicked looking set of horns and when threatened may USE those horns very effectively. Though I do not often encourage "bottle babies' as a matter of course, when we purchase our calf, we'll be looking for one that is only a few weeks old to hand-rear.

Saturday was spent in Searsport at the Searsport Art Market at Silkweeds. This market has quickly become one of my favorite events. It is not the busiest market we attend, but we are building a steady stream of customers who are quickly becoming familiar friends. I love creating; using simple things to make unique and pleasing baubles. I love meeting YOU. Knowing you are out there, following along with us, commenting and taking an interest in our farm and lives means so much to me. Meeting one of you in person after visiting with you online is extra special. I take your comments and "likes" on our facebook page into consideration as I detail new pieces and eagerly await your feedback so I can improve. Learning, all the time.

These are some of my favorite pieces from this week:

 Someone asked me recently if I could paint a Lady Slipper, so I tried it and this is what I ended up with. I am really proud of the result. Originally, I was going to paint matching earrings, but I painted this in the middle of the night. The pendant cooperated nicely. The earrings refused. So, I created these to coordinate instead and I love the end result. The colors are perfectly matched and they feel so feminine to me. The flower bails are sterling silver and it is hung on a sterling snake style chain. This completed set is available for purchase through our facebook page for $60.00.

These woods inspired earrings are small, but the detail is what I am most proud of. I love the play of light on the trunks. Instead of painting the background blue, I chose to set the trees against a light green shade. It reminds me of walking in the deep woods when even the shadows seem to be green and full of life.

These earrings are on sterling silver french hooks and are priced at $24.00 on our facebook page.

 I think these sweet blue drop earrings are perfect for an adult who prefers dainty jewelry or a beginning pair of dangles for a child or tween. They are accented with sterling silver star-shaped charms that remind me of starfish and are set on sterling french hooks. These are available on our facebook page and sell for $15.00.

Lupines are one of my favorite wildflowers. They just make me happy. If I could, I would have fields of them growing here. We can't have lupines on the property because consuming them can cause miscarriages for our goats and I do not trust them one bit to know to stay away from them. Not worth the risk. Instead, I enjoy them along the roadside while we are driving along and now, I can enjoy them in painted form too! I made a few lupine inspired pendants and earrings this week, but this pendant is my very favorite one. I love the colors and the detail of each little lupine petal. This pendant includes a sterling silver rope style chain and the flower bail is sterling, too. It is listed for $40.00 on our facebook page.

We don't see many dragonflies in the fields at this time of the year, but that is not stopping me from using them to embellish these sweet pink-hued drops. The dragonflies and french hook earrings are made of sterling silver. These retail for $18.00 on our facebook page and there is a pair painted violet there, too!

My final favorite for this week is this thistle pendant painted on a stunning blue background. I used Swarovski crystals and sterling silver flowers to accent between the hand-painted diamonds. It is hung on a sterling silver oval link chain. The retail listing price for this one on our facebook page is $50.00.

Sean had work to do around the homestead, so he missed out on the first half of the market. He brought me happy news, when he arrived, though. It seems we have one last (we hope) hatching oddity to relate. Just a few posts ago, I commented that we had not had any success hatching ducklings this year. Well, it seems I spoke too soon. Sean spied this Momma Mallard and nine little fluff balls following along out in the goat pasture. He quickly prepared a pen for them in the barn where they will be safe from predators, but by the time he returned, she had hidden with her clutch and was no where to be found.
Apparently, without warning or notice, she had hidden a clutch of eggs somewhere within the pasture or woods and sat on them faithfully for 28 days without getting caught. Hidden and unauthorized nest have the potential to happen since our birds are allowed to free-range. Though we prefer to decide who and what new critters are being born on our farm, this was a happy surprise- even this late in the year.

On Sunday morning, she was in the backyard, her ducklings in tow. I helped to lure her closer with treats and Sean scooped up all the babies and then collected Momma Mallard, too.

 Momma Mallard and all her ducklings are doing just fine in their safe and secure new home in the barn. In a little while, they will be returned to live with the rest of the ducks.

I will  try for some video of the cute little peepers for you shortly. You know, if the Lord is willing and the creek don't rise. ;)

Thanks for stopping in for a visit this evening friends, I am very glad you are here.

~Sonja ♥

1 comment:

  1. I love the new babies! I also love your new pieces! Looking forward to the baby cow right along with you!!