Monthly Archives: December 2013

Keeping it Real!

One of the challenges these days in being a shepherd and creating a business out of a fiber farm is the necessity of using technology in marketing, bookkeeping, bill paying, and networking. Yesterday, I faced the very real cost of data usage and staying connected out here in the sticks, as my kids call it. We have no cable connection, no fiber optics, or anything like that. I have used a little 3G mifi hotspot for my computer and tablet for five years. And my kids have done their YouTube viewing and played their Wii games because the mifi can provide internet service to up to five devices. The beauty of this set up was that it was for unlimited data. And now I am finding the companies are regretting offering this service and are trying to rein it in. The world of technology is changing as data is getting more and more expensive. Even a shepherd needs to be mindful of data usage.

You see, my little mifi was getting painfully slow. I thought my device was failing. I called tech support, but they could not help me, sent me to a repair/retail center. I knew what this meant, they wanted me to get a new device, hence a new a plan….a plan that would require me to pay for data. Yikes!!! As I looked up our last month of data usage and we sucked up 19 gigs! Well,  fortunately I found out that it was the battery. I could not get a battery at the retail center anymore however. I went to a cool store called Battery and Bulbs. They stock all these obscure batteries and lightbulbs and bingo! They had my battery. I can still keep my plan of unlimited data for only $60 per month a bit longer!! I learned one more thing. Sprint and Verizon and other companies are throttling the data hogs such as my household. They were slowing our data usage on purpose. That also accounted for the slow downs. So a little talk was necessary with my teenagers in their data usage.

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Three of my boys at a family dinner.

This lesson in technology and how much we use it, even on a farm, brings to mind how thankful I am that I am in a line of work that is not virtual. I still feel the cold and the heat of the world. My hands get dirty, I get hay down my bra when I feed my sheep and goats. I smell the earth as the ground warms in the Spring.

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During one of my pasture walks.

I can walk a pasture and know that no one can collect the data of my foot prints. I build relationships with my animals that does not involve office politics. I get to work with real wool, smell the lanolin, wash it, comb it, spin it, knit and weave it. All real tasks that connects me to the planet and to being human on it. Computers have become a necessity of doing business, even a fiber business. But it does not have to encapsulate us from the real world. I love tech, I am good at it. But I would not feel real if I allowed it to swallow me. I need to use it to market the very real world of fiber and bring it to people so they too can smell the lanolin, the wool, the earth.

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Loving Lokie, one of my ram lambs.

A December Pasture Check

As we dive straight into December and busy ourselves getting ready for the coming holiday, it serves me well to take notice of my friends in the pasture. These days are short on sunshine, but when it is out, the animals are too; napping, exploring, nibbling or just hanging out. All seem content, and not the least bit stressed. I for one am looking at the time left and trying to figure how I am going to get all the knitting, embroidery and crafting done to complete the gifts I am planning to make. But these fuzzy critters are not frazzled.

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Hickory is enjoying his stay in the “honeymoon suite”. He is assigned to be dad of the spring lambs because of his soft moorit brown fleece and all around good looks and sweet personality. I would really like more brown lambs to have more brown yarn and roving on hand. He is enjoying the company of four ewes, Pansy, Dahlia, Gwyneth, and Motto.

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Estelle, Ettienne and Rupert heading out for a day of free ranging.

The duck trio are our newest residents. They were rescue ducks from Wildlife Rehabilitation. They usually rescue and doctor injured wild animals. But these three were domestic ducks that were neglected and one was attacked by a dog. All were in sad shape. But they were recovered and needed a forever home. We were chosen because of our ponds. But they actually prefer bathing and swimming in their tub. They take turns jumping in and splash around as only one can fit at one time. I have nicknamed them the bucket ducks. They have settled into their routine. They head back to the barn at night to be go to bed protected in one of the stalls. So they are there by dusk without me having to herd them back. And I am excited to report that Estelle is now laying eggs for the first time.

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Chickens are almost full grown!

The bantam chickens are just about full grown now. And I have to say, they are so delightful in how they all get along and play together. I wish I were so care free. I am eagerly waiting eggs, but in the meantime, I am enjoying their antics.

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Bluebelle and Lily eager for breakfast

The growing lambs are getting used to their new haircuts. We sheared a couple of weeks ago and I understand that lambs should go through a growth spurt after shearing. They look so sweet as they go about looking for food, take naps in the sun and even spar with each other. I am amused as I see baby ewes butt heads like rams. And they take their sparring seriously. Yet are friends after the battle.

So I am refreshed after visiting and feeding everyone this morning. Now back to speed knitting.

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