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I am Sandra - faithful steward. listener. shepherd. dream believer. hard worker. collects brass bells, boots. Jesus follower. contented. star gazer. homemaker. farmer. prayer warrior. country woman. reader. traveler. writer. homebody. living life large.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Early Star of Bethlehem Quilt

This quilt is called the Early Star of Bethlehem Quilt and has Evening Star Motifs.

It's beautifully hand stitched and dates from between 1820 and 1830. My girlfriend, Mary Lois, owns the quilt and her family oral history says the quilter was a Mrs. Pierce whose Yankee husband served in the Revolutionary War. Mr. Pierce was, supposedly, the first to fall in 1776 and died in Boston where there is a statue honoring his death as a British casualty. Many years later his widow carefully pieced this beautiful quilt.

The colors of the pieces are still quite vivid; there are nine squares of different colored pieces to make this quilt measuring 90 x 95 inches. There are a few small stains and some darkening on the backing of the quilt. Some front pieces are worn away, probably by the chemicals used in the dyeing process. Two small holes in the backing do not affect the front of the piece. There is some fading and light staining to the front, to be expected with a piece this old. A hanging pocket has been neatly seamed onto the back of the quilt.

I believe this quilt is for sale; please contact Leslie for more details.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

TCF Tours

One of my very favorite things to do is host a group of folks on a Thistle Cove Farm tour! Today, Miss B's kindergarten class visited us and we had such a great time. Four and five year old children are so wonderful, they have loads of curiosity, are eager for new experiences and really enjoy meeting all the dogs, cats, sheep and horses.

When the bus arrives, the dogs and I climb on board to welcome everyone. There are always a few rules (don't climb on fences or gates, don't hurt the animals, stay with your group) and the most important one is HAVE FUN! The children are amazed that Gracie and Abbie enjoy getting on the buses, checking out the children, sniffing around for lunch smells and getting and giving kisses.

Well. Okay. So some of the children aren't as crazy about dog kisses as others but most of them think it's really cool to be greeted by two of the official Thistle Cove Farm mascots.

Every time they share their lunch with a dog, they scream. Every time a sheep's muzzle tickles their hands, they scream. When they chased the bubbles I blew, they screamed. When they saw the horses run toward us, they screamed. I must admit, the horses are an impressive sight as they gallop across the pasture. I raise rare breed, hypoallergenic (to most) pinto, gaited American Curly horses. The icing on the cake is the horses are *very* gentle, quiet and obedient. They have to be; I'm a middle age, slightly overweight woman and I need my animals to be very safe. My horses don't dissappoint and the visitors love petting them just as much as the horses love being petted. The carrots as treats seem to help as well.

You know, I should have a headache but I don't. I just adore little ones and love watching their faces light up when they realize they have gotten a correct answer to one of my questions. "What are the mountains called where we live?" Blank looks all so I tell them, "We live in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains." By the end of their tour they could tell me, "We live in the beeyoutiful Applecha Mountains!"

Close enough.

I teach and preach Agriculture and Appalachia and love letting the children know more about these beautiful, old mountains and where we get our food and clothing. If they ate a meal today, it's because somewhere a farmer got out of bed. If they flipped a switch and a light came on, it's because somewhere a coal miner got out of bed. I'm proud to be an Appalachian American and am so blessed because my roots go deep in these hills and hollers. I'm also blessed because I'm able to live here, at Thistle Cove Farm, and to share God's beauty and bounty.


~children because we all were or are and we're our past, present and future
~the beeyoutiful Applecha Mountains!

~a lovely day

~friends and family helping out

~cool, fresh well water
- sweetened by these limestone hills

Monday, May 21, 2007

Happy Birthday, Morels

This month Dave and I celebrated his birthday at Town House Grill in Chilhowie, VA. It's a fabulous restaurant, the best in all of southwest VA, and they do an incredible job with delicious ingredients. As a special treat, we both had dessert and this is how his looked:

He had the chocolate bomb torte with melted center, fresh whipping cream and strawberries and Happy Birthday, written in chocolate, was a Very Nice Touch. Happy Birthday, Beloved...may you have many more!

By the way...sorry about all the photos in the previous post. Seems like Blogger was being a bit over the top. When they don't have the "done" button for me to click on, I think the photos haven't downloaded but, low and behold, they did!

Earlier this month we went morel hunting and gathered quite a nice bundle. Morels are wild mushrooms, available only in the spring and are quite the delicacy. They sell for huge sums of money both in restaurants and in markets but, for the person with the knowledge, experience and the patience they are available for free on the mountainside. Miss C. shows how it's done...she's quite the mushroom hunter and has, at a tender age, already years of experience.

Donna and Brian, her parents, have taken her on the mountains for years and Miss C. has an extensive resume of morel, ramp and 'sang hunting. She's not fond of snakes though and the woods rang with her shouts and shrieks when her Daddy stepped on a snake. It was an accident but he had to kill it because his foot broke the snake's back and it was cruel to let it live.

This photo is of Donna, Brian, Miss C. and Dave (in the background). We were taking a break by the underground river and caves.

We found a clutch of quail eggs but the mother flew off as we approached. I used the telephoto lens to capture this shot; she looks like she'll have quite the brood when they hatch. I wish them a long and happy life; in the mountains there are lots of predators and we saw bear signs over the ridge.

Spring time in the mountains is a wonderful time of the year. Yes, it means lots of work...after all the gardens need to be prepared, seedlings started, sheep sheared, fences and gates repaired and our neighbors are already cutting hay.

I love this time of favorite time of year is...NOW and my favorite day of the week is...TODAY!

Go do something to make today special; go make some memories!

Blessings ~

~Dave, quite possibly the Very Best Husband in the World!

~free, wild food - morels, ramps, ginsang, creek lettuce and more

~supper, almost ready - fried cabbage, new potatoes and cantelope - and eaten on the porch with a beautiful sunset

~new friends - Hi Cat!

~almost more good life than is legal

~the Lost Arts Guild and all members

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Sheep Shearing is Finished!

Hurrah! We finished shearing my small hand spinner's flock yesterday and today I can barely breath. It's a ton of work and I really missed Leslie's help but a new person, Fran, helped me.
The shearer brought his own catcher so it was the four of us...beavering away madly in a rush to finish before the rain started. We did. Barely.

It's been on the cool side, perfect for shearing. Although, I'm not sure the sheep appreciate being nekkid right now. A couple of weeks ago, they were suffering in an unexpected heat wave and even the shade of a tree or two didn't help a lot. I opened the barn dogtrot and they slept there during the heat of the day. It's always seems to capture a breeze and no matter how hot on the farm, I have two dogtrot's that always seem to bit a bit cooler.

The fleeces are have names, are weighed and ready to be photographed. I'm doing things a bit differently this year. Because I had new, unexperienced help, anyone who buys a fleece will pay for the fleece, minus two pounds. In other words, if a fleece weighs six pounds, the buyer will pay for four pounds plus shipping on the entire weight. I'm doing this because I'm not sure they are skirted to my specifications. Fran did a good job pulling the manure and urine tags but there might be a bit of veggie matter or small felted bits left.

So, buy whatever the fleece weighs, pay for all minus two pounds and pay for shipping on the entire weight. Trust me, there aren't two pounds of worthless matter so it's a deal for you.

Clear as mud, eh?

Any questions, please let me know. As usually, the boys and ewes have outdone themselves and the fleeces are breathtaking. They range in weight from around five to twelve pounds, depending upon breed. I'll have a list of available fleeces on the blog and on various lists next week.

We're having blessed rain and everything looks nourished. Our water table is low and if we don't recover now, we'll have problems with hay later. We raise our own hay and feed more than forty head of horses and sheep.

We've finally working on the house again and doing those small things that make it finished. We hung a lot of pictures and photographs, got some molding put up around fireplaces, etc. to give a polished look, the back porch has been cleared off...just a lot of little things that have needed doing for a long while. I'm now looking at the clutter with a new eye and thinking about storage, giving a lot away (it's tag sale season) and re-vamping my studio and office.

I spoke with Aunt Esther tonight and she's well. She's ninty and goes like she's sixty or even forty! She's been visiting her family in several states and just returned home to her quilting, crochet and needlework. She does all beautifully and, throughout the years, has gifted family and friends with quilts, pillow cases, blankets and other gifts of her hands.

Next week I'll show the quilt pieces she recently sent me...made by family members decades long past and ready for me to put together.

And so life continues...

I have a lovely photo of the view from our front yard but blogger is being contentious. Perhaps next time...

Blessings ~

~traveling safety
~beloved Aunt Esther
~a healthy flock and herd
~our dear home - Thistle Cove Farm
~shearing is finished for another year ~I can feel the pain of the assorted bruses and bumps from being tossed about by the sheep (some can't you know and would give everything to feel a bit of pain)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival

Fiber Femmes May/June 2007 issue is now on-line and it's really a great issue! Of course, Leslie and I always say that but we have to say that because it's true! There are a lot of MSWF photos, some really fine articles, a bit of fun thrown in the mix and a new feature...affordable advertising. If you have a small business, perhaps an etsy or ebay store, you really should consider Fiber Femmes affordable advertising. For less than pennies a day, you can reach more than 5,000 readers per issue, readers who are actively involved in the fiber industry and who use fiber in all its forms...fleeces, yarn, felting, etc. Visit Fiber Femmes S.E.X. page for more information, then, give us a shout to get your advert in front of Fiber Femmes readers.

Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival celebrated its 34th year this month and it only keeps getting better and better! Here are some photos to whet your fibertite...

Only a fiber person would understand this one!

From south of the equator -

Sittin' & Knittin' a Red Scarf - this was a wonderful idea! A local yarn shop had chairs outside their tent where people could rest a bit and knit on red scarves for orphans. It was fun and interesting to see what other folks had knitted and then to add our prayers and stitches to the mix.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Hurrah! I've won...

Please visit Liz Curtis Higgs and click on the My Heart's in the Lowlands book (just under the yellow tulip top center). If you don't know Liz Curtis Higgs, she's the author of Bad Girls of the Bible, a trilogy sent in Scotland (Thorn in my Heart, Fair is the Rose and Whence Came a Prince), Loved by God (a DVD Bible study series) and a slew of other books. She's incredibly honest about her lifestyle prior to Christ and writes with humility and love and, perhaps most importantly of all in this frosty world...encouragement!

And, along with five others... I WON!
To have a writer, and especially Liz Curtis Higgs, say my words touched her heart, is a Mighty Thing Indeed. In fact, it's overwhelming, gratifying and gives me validation as a writer.

THANKS Liz Curtis Higgs!!!!
God's blessings on you, yours and the work of your hands and heart!

Blessings ~

~Liz Curtis Higgs
~healthy family and animals
~Fiber Femmes May/June issue almost finished
~clean clothes drying on the line in the hot May sun
~sheep shearing almost finished
~a beloved nephew leaving to serve our country
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