Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's' Day Weekend


My mother's birthday is May 7th. This year it fell on the day before Mother's Day. When we talked about what my Mom wanted to do for her birthday, she mentioned wanting to spend the day together, just her and I.

Growing up, Saturdays were fun days where we would go on adventures. Now as adults we will on rare occasions, abandon the men-folk for an afternoon and enjoy a mother/daughter day. Since John works on Saturdays, and my mother's bday fell on a Saturday, the only question became, "What to do?" We decided to start the day with breakfast and then go shopping.

Meanwhile, I mentioned a while back that I wanted to learn more about growing mushrooms. Turns out my Mom was also interested in this process and had asked me to find us a class nearby. So I did some poking around and found one. I mentioned it met numerous times throughout the summer, and there was even a class on her bday. So Mom decided that would be her bday adventure and so we went schrooming...

My mother and I had been here years ago for the Blue Heron Music Festival.  It was strange for us to be there with so few other's around. We could really take in the beauty of the place.

In the mushroom yard...

Below is a picture of a mushroom just starting to bud from an inoculated log... 

A wonderful day to be in the forest... 

That's gonna be a lot of mushrooms someday... 

We learned a lot and had fun in the process. We stuck near the waxing station. Each log is drilled and inoculated. Then hot liquid wax is daubed over the inoculation holes and brushed in a thick coat on the log ends.

After a nice lunch, I showed my mom a short cut from Mayville to the homestead. I showed her where our Amish builder lives and we stopped at a yard-sale. She was surprised at how close the homestead is to such a large Amish community.

When we arrived at the homestead, I gave Mom the grand tour of the barn. She we hung out and talked about the many options that the future held. Our day together ended with my Mother leaving to pick up my step-father and go to dinner. I decided to go back to the city and take care of things at the house there.


Sundays are normally farm days, but when a holiday falls on Sunday, John does farm chores on his other day off, Monday. We loaded the car with Mom's Mother's Day swag and headed out to the farm.

We are usually good at keeping my Mom's bday and Mother's Day separate, but this year it was difficult to do that. So while my Mother and I had our mushroom adventure on Saturday, we had her bday cake on Sunday with Hank and John.

It was a such a pretty cake, but we dug in before I could get a pic....

For Mother's Day there are always flowers....

And because you are never too old to make something for your Mom....

Another family birthday tradition is a meal out at a restaurant picked by the person whose birthday it is. So that will happen next Sunday. The festivities continue!

After we wrapped us the Mother's Day Celebration, John and I decided to go out to the homestead. However, before we could leave, I had to stop and and say 'Hi!', to the boys.

Stan was being super cute today...

We invited my parents to come with us, out to the homestead. It was Hank's first time seeing the barn or what we have started calling the 'cabin'. He was impressed with the quality of workmanship. The four of us hung out and talked about the next-steps.

Once my parents left, we got to work. John moved some gravel and our mushroom log to a better location.

We have been learning a lot lately about forestry and survival techniques or as the English call it, Bushcraft. Here, John is making kindling with a hand-ax... 

While no fingers were lost, a band-aid was deployed ;-)

So now we are back in the city and ready for the week ahead. The whole while knowing, in 5 short days we will be back out in the woods preparing the land for a day when we won't have to leave. In the short term, it is a cabin for summer fun and we plan to enjoy it!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Barn Delivery!

At 7:30pm, on Tuesday April 26, 2016 the homestead received its' first structure.  Some would call it a shed, some a barn, we have taken to calling it our cabin.  One day the alpaca boys will make it a home, till then, we will keep it warm for them.

Since he was on vacation, John was there for delivery. Everything from moving large round bales of hay to accommodate the large truck to a winch battery that died, it eventually found its' way to the homestead.

So, Friday after work, I picked John up and we drove out there so I could see the new arrival.

I am especially enamored of the detail above the windows...

The smell of fresh lumber was intoxicating...

Finally we have a 'home base' on the homestead. A place to rest while working on the land.

We drove back to the city with smiles on our faces.  We talked about all the wonderful things we could now do with a sturdy roof over our heads.

John usually works on Saturdays, but since he was on vacation we decided to go on an adventure.  We headed to Erie Pa on the trail of a floor loom.  She is a beautiful, well loved loom. I named her Mabel after her previous owner. She is small at around 3 feet by 3 feet square and has 2 harnesses. I am excited to dust her off and see what she can do.

With Mabel safely stowed in the back of the Rav we decided to poke around a bit. I noticed we were very near Presque Isle State Park. It was a beautiful day for a drive...

This adventure led us to another one in Clymer New York. We had a lot of fun and made the most of our extra day together.

Sunday morning came and with it a trip from the city to the farm in Irving NY.  While John cleans out the alpacas pasture and barn, I catch up with my mother and step-dad. Sunday was quite rainy and dreary and the alpacas looked a mess. So I will spare you pictures of soggy pacas. I wish they would go in barn when it rains but they don't seem to be bothered by it.

After the alpacas were fussed with and any chores my parents have for us are done, we decided to drive out to the cabin.

I brought fabric with me to hand sew some curtains while we were there. John on the other hand could not decide if he wanted to relax or work. I just smiled and encouraged him to do whatever he wanted.

There was something very satisfying about this project...

And for the record, no... I did not buy this fabric for this project.  I actually had it on hand and thought it would work!

So what's next? We plan on a few things this summer. John is eager to clear out the trench behind where we plan to put the house. After the flood of last year, we feel this would be added insurance for any structures we might build or place closer to the woods.

Once it dries out from the rain, I am looking forward to staining the cabin and setting it up for camping. All the while we are working on finding an Amish house builder, and finalizing the building plan.

We will keep you posted!

Monday, April 18, 2016

Spring Sun brings the light of growth to the homestead.

Since meeting with Edwin and going over the details of the barn, John and I have been focused on prepping the land for it's arrival. This past weekend gave us the perfect weather to do what we could.

Saturday when John was at work, I drove out to the homestead.  We had loaded the Rav with a number of tools to help me in the first step of clearing the land.

I stopped for coffee and breakfast along the way, so when I got there I started right away.  With my big sun hat and battery powered weed eater, I started with clearing the tall grasses from last year.

Below is a photo of the stake and rock that designate where the center of the house will be... a robin was there to great me...

I decided to make the shady brush pile at the edge of the woods 'home base'... ie; the place where I would sit during breaks.  :-)

After an hour or so, things were coming along.... and I was enjoying how big and blue the sky is here...

Our water well, with the dry grasses... The vineyard from across the street borders the blue sky...


Most Sundays John and I go out to the farm and tend to the alpacas needs.  We clean out the barn and pasture, move a few bales of hay, and sometimes do heard health.  We will do other property chores as needed as well.  That can involve chimney sweeping, tree trimming, log splitting, and moving any number of heavy items from one place to another.  We often then spend time talking with my parents around the kitchen table until it is time to go back to the city.  This past Sunday was different because we knew we were going back to the homestead after visiting the farm, so we kept it brief and motored on after smooching the pacas...

Here Pumba is sunbathing....

Seneca's nickname on the farm is,
"The One with the Dreamy Eyes"...

From the farm to the homestead is about a 45 minute drive...

This tree pile is made up of trees that were removed from the space where our house will be... it needs to be cut up and moved a bit farther from the build site.

We have plans for the wood...

After working with a chainsaw ... we went for ice cream...

While I was at work, John went back out to the homestead to finish up the clearing...

Then he decided to check with Edwin on how the barn was coming along.  It will be done tomorrow night!  So at some point this week we will run out there after work and pay the balance.  Then we need to arrange delivery with a gentleman that Edwin recommended.  

So this week is going to be full and intense.  From runs out to the country to arranging the delivery of our first structure.  John and I are up for whatever this week will demand of us.  This will eventually be the shelter for the alpacas.  Until our house is built however, it will be our cabin in the woods.  We are looking forward to long weekends on the homestead.  Working during the day and relaxing around the bon fire at night.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Amish builders to the rescue...

Today John and I took a trip out to our property in Portland, New York.  It is a place that holds our dreams and aspirations.  So even though we just completed a long road-trip to and from Virginia, we hopped back in the car and drove the hour and 15 minutes to the place of our future home.  

Last year we faced many unexpected financial challenges.  These challenges delayed any building or progress on our property.  We struggled just to maintain the progress we had made.

January brought with it renewed resolve and the planning began in earnest.  Our goal for 2016 was to have the barn up by the end of the year.  This would give us a place for storage as well as a place to stay when working on the land.

So in the Fall of last year my husband reached out to the Amish community.  He found a family that builds sheds and barns.  After some discussion we felt confident we had found the right folks to help us with the barn.  John and I agreed we would visit our new Amish friends in the Spring to arrange the details.

With the mild Winter waning, we decided to pay Eli a visit and get the ball rolling on our barn.  Eli gave us some shocking news.  He and his family don't build barns anymore.  We were at a loss.  John asked if there was anyone else Eli would recommend.  Sure enough he gave us directions to another Amish farm, not far from our property.

It was easy to spot the right farm.  Not only was there a sign but also, 2 newly built sheds and 1 cabin ready for delivery.  John spoke with the builder and got the full tour of both sheds and cabin. He was impressed.

We decided to go for it and placed an order! We gave the builder a deposit and were told he will start building our little 12x16 barn in a week.  He invited us back anytime.  We were even able to arrange delivery for when John is on vacation at the end of April.

We are super excited.  We have about a month to prep the site.  And just to keep all our options open, John asked if they build houses. Edwin said he didn't but he gave John some information about an Amish man who does... the adventure continues....

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Find Starry Brook Farm at The Foundry!

Today Starry Brook Farm's Fiber Production moved into The Foundry. We are excited to move into such a wonderfully community based facility.  It is filled with creative small business types hard at work.  'Inspiring' is an understatement.

Below are some pics from moving day!

The Foundry is a small business incubator on the East Side of  Buffalo.

This space is 10x10.  Our neighbors are an upholsterer, a woman who upcycles furniture, and a woman who teaches refugees how to sew.  Couldn't ask for a better 'neighborhood'.
Pretty much a nice blank slate

First order of business was to mop the floor.

It dried quickly.

Coat hook, and fleece rack.  Those are the best cuts of this year's shearing.

As Sarah mentioned, I may need more than one chair for when folks come to visit.

Another rack to organize stuff.  Dye jars will be organized on this shelf somewhere.  The windows look into my neighbors upholstery shop.

Skirting table with light.

These two windows lead out to the hallway.  And the 2 folks who made it all possible.  Sarah was one of the first to tell me about The Foundry and John is the best husband ever, every supportive and willing to do the heavy lifting :-)

A huge thank you to all the residents that stopped by and introduced themselves today.  You welcomed us with big smiles and kind words.  That means a lot to me. 

I guess it's time to get to work... :-)