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Due to the things going on at the house between my last “Adventurous Recap” post and today I just haven’t had time to sit down and really recap what happened.

In a nutshell we stayed at the Luray Caverns West Motel, which was luckily within easy walking distance to a McDonalds (yuck I know, but it was food) and within the delivery range of several Italian places.

After an unsuccessful conversation with the local insurance agent we made the decision to go ahead and get a rental car (provided by our insurance) and head down to Michie Tavern for the day while we figured out how best to have the car repaired.

Michie Tavern definitely hit the spot and made up for 2 meals at McD’s!! Even Sophie hit her chicken limit… tho she still had plenty of room for dessert!

We had decided that our best course of action was to have J head up with our flat bed trailer (after getting a tow quote of somewhere near $1600) and M and Sophie to head down in the rental while I stayed at the motel with the car.  I was able to arrange for a friend to hang out with the boys at the farm and keep an eye on things while J and M were in transit but I had not taken into account how stressful this how adventure had been on them.  In hindsight I should have had J pile Martha and the boys into the truck and had him meet M somewhere along the way… however that didn’t happen and ultimately lead to situations that I will blog about at a later date.

I will say that 4 hours that I was solo in the motel with M and J on the road was horrific. My phone was refusing to charge properly and as I was the only female in the entire motel (the other occupants being well intoxicated golfers) I didn’t feel exactly comfortable just wandering around.  I had thought to spend some time sketching or writing but my pens and pencils had been nicked by Sophie for her trip back home.  So I dug out a book I had purchased in Carlisle.  Last Words of Sinners and Saints is not good reading when you’re slightly creeped out and by yourself.

It was a long 4 hours.

I felt so sorry for J.  He drove all that long way up to Luray, slept fitfully in a less than comfortable bed, loaded up the car and headed out again the next morning.  That was a lot of driving!! At least the return trip he had me chatting away in his ear… the whole time…. mostly nonstop.

So… We made it home… dropped the car off at David’s and started the process of getting the x5 back in working order.  Not going to lie but it’s been a serious undertaking.  So many things were damaged from that deer that had to be replaced… things that were damaged that damaged other things that had to be replaced.  At one point I seriously thought the car was going to be totaled but thankfully it was not.

The car was completed and ready to go just in time for our next trip to MD for feed.  Happily that trip went uneventfully and we have since changed feed to a locally available product which works out better for both our horses and our cars 🙂

Had I been able to write this closer to the time it happened I’m sure there would’ve been more humor but so many things that happened on this trip started the downward decline of Martha that I can’t really look at it with humor anymore.  Martha was always a sensitive person and would fret over perceived issues.  Her worry over us having a wreck, her worrying over M and J driving so far. Her worry over me being alone so far from home. Her worry over situations that happened with the boys while we were away.  All those worries surely didn’t help an already unwell woman.

 

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So last week was…. well… it was just wow.

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On Saturday we met up with J’s sis and brother and their families for my first ever tailgating experience at Clemson’s Homecoming.  Wow is all I can really say.  My brother-in-law Stephen is a marvelous photog and took some spectacular pictures, seriously click through them to see orange clad cuteness… It’s a good thing that Pip’s HP colors are orange otherwise we would’ve been dressed inappropriately!

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We walked all over the place, looked at the floats, had hamburgers and beverages at the rockstar RV… and basically had a blast.  The boys played until they were exhausted and Sophie basked in the awesomeness of her cousins.

And then came Sunday!! Horses loaded, costumes packed and away we went!!

This was our first year competing in the costume division. Pip and I went as Angus and Merida.  We didn’t win as Pip wasn’t technically in costume since he passes as a twin to Angus… but we had fun 🙂  I got to wear this awesome wig made by Katie of Top it Off Hats.

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I sent her the most hilarious email asking if she would be able to modify her kids’ Merida wig into a helmet cover and turns out Katie is also a avid equestrian and as luck would have it we have the same size (dimensions) helmet so she made the wig on her helmet and it of course fit mine perfectly!! She is awesome!

We were parked in a huge grassy field… with seed heads as high as Pip’s mouth lol.  It made for some most interesting tacking up as all three horses wanted to gorge instead of cooperate.  Obviously Pip and I went as Angus and Merida.

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The pace photog was able to get an awesome shot of Pip giving me the spooky eye just at the start of the pace. Pip was a bit uncertain about my red curls and Meredith’s wings but he settled in fairly quickly…

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L and Paris went as the Fox and the Hound. L’s mother made the bulk of her costume and Paris was a real trooper with her whiskers and fluffy ears.

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Meredith and Maddy were Tinker Bell and Pixie Dust…. Those wings were hilarious every time we cantered as it appeared that Mere and Maddy were going to lift right off into the air!!  Be sure to notice Maddy has little tiny antennae!  Also notice the grass!!  It was insane! I still have seed heads in the truck and there are gobs in the trailer that were caught in the doors!

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We had a good brisk ride… altho not fast enough for a ribbon.  I was under serious time constraints as I had to get back home before 2 so that M and I could leave to go to Maryland to pick up horse feed (I’ll explain the need to go to Maryland to get feed in a later post).  After getting the truck stuck in the tall grass we were on our way home where I basically dumped all the care of my Pipper on Mere and L so that I could get everything in the car and ready to hit the road yet again. Thanks girls for hosing down and putting away my pony 🙂 and for unloading the trailer too… I really hated not seeing to my own horse but we were running a little late and so many things still needed to be done before we were off again!

We decided to take the recently purchased X5 as it gets superior fuel mileage (can one say gas mileage for a diesel?) and had plenty of room for the amount of feed we were purchasing.  Plus driving the X5 is fun and since driving was going to figure prominently in our adventure it seemed like a smart choice…

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It was a beautiful drive up.

We had great adventures in refueling pretty much at every stop… thank you trucker in Raphine VA for flashing me in your tidy whities… and I won’t begin to list the ogles I got for wearing my riding pants.

Yes I rode to Maryland in my riding pants… full seat breeches on leather seats for long distance driving is my new must have.

So we got to our hotel and crashed… I think we ate but can’t honestly remember at this point as it was a loooooong drive to Maryland and the effects of power walking at Clemson coupled with my ride at the pace as well as all that time in the car had left me stiff and achy.

We were up early to a cool crisp morning and headed out for Gooseberry farm (I’m just going to call it Gooseberry farm from here on out… I don’t know the actual name of the farm but she sells and makes Gooseberry so it makes sense for me).   Unfortunately Dr.Deb was sick and couldn’t come out to chat but her son AJ was there to help us pack up.

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The X5 handled no differently for the addition of feed and so we decided to jaunt around the area and enjoy a mini vacation.  So off we headed for Lancaster PA where we grabbed a tasty lunch at the Shady Maple Farm Market Cafe.

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M and I had the pork and kraut.

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While Sophie had the broasted chicken (evidently a specialty of the cafe).  We were amused to see a huge “Oriental buffet” in the middle of the cafe.  I wasn’t expecting to see a spread of wontons and rangoons in the middle of an Amish/Mennonite grocery store but it appeared to be very popular with the locals.

After eating entirely too much at the cafe, we walked across to Good’s Store and found all matter of cute and wonderful things…. none of which will be pictured here as they will be reappearing later this year under our Christmas tree!  It was a fun adventure and Sophie in her typical style discovered the names of every store clerk we came in contact with, which may have been disconcerting to them but they thankfully rolled with it.

And then we were off again to Carlisle PA!

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The day was truly beautiful with all the gorgeous farms still green against the bright blue sky!

As with most of our adventures, food figures prominently and we had intended to eat at Fay’s in Carlisle, only to arrive and discover that Fay’s is closed after lunch.  So we drove around briefly with M giving us the penny tour as she’s been there before with my brother who makes a yearly trip up for Banner of Truth.  It’s a lovely town, very quaint.  We decided to drop into my brother’s favorite bookstore (and send him photo texts with “where are we?” attached lol… we are mean people)

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The name of the store escapes me, but it’s lovely.  I found a stack of “ancient” books that I wanted to bundle up and bring home… but their corresponding price tags kept me from doing so.  There’s something about really old books that I just love, doesn’t even matter the subject matter… I find them fascinating.

M remembered eating at a pub just down from the bookstore so we walked down to check it out.

I was not disappointed.

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Neither was Sophie.

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Market Cross Pub in Carlisle… awesomeness indeed.  I had their home-brewed Porter and it was delicious and wonderfully paired with the fish & chips and the chocolate chip sundae as well 🙂  I wish we had something more on par with this pub at home as the ambiance was perfect and the staff reminded me of the heydey of Velo Fellow when Dragon was still there.  Thanks Joe (our server) for being awesome… and looking like the blond headed bad guy in Top Secret!

After enjoying our early supper we decided to head on down towards Charlottesville VA.  Michie Tavern was on the docket for the next day and we wanted to be close enough to allow for a restful night and an early lunch before the long drive home… little did we know our adventure was just beginning…

Stay tuned for Part II of our epic whirlwind adventure.

Jim and I had to run to G’ville to drop off something at Tech and as we were driving by the Walgreens at Augusta I noticed the temperature flash up on the sign… 111 degrees.  While I had definitely thought it was hot, I thought 111 was a bit excessive and figured that sign was fritzy.  So I hit the ext.temp button in the car (I think that button sat there unused for the first year that I drove Landy before I realized what it was) and 109 popped up on the screen.  Hmmmm.  Guess the sign wasn’t really all that much off after all.

So yeah, it’s been hot here and fairly humid… as in denim has been banned from farm wear because of discomfort and inability to get them off once you’re back inside!  The sheep refuse to graze during the day as they’d rather doze under the shady trees and the cows have stayed either in the barn or under the trees as well.  The horses are willing to brave the rays to graze, but even they have to hang out in the shade during the hottest part of the day.  Unfortunately we lost the smallest of the pigs.  I feel fairly certain that heat played a part as the bigger pigs were very nearly overheated that day as well… we’ve had to add a much bigger waterer and make more frequent trips out to re-wet their mud pit every day.  The day that the pig died was the day we were gone much of the day picking up the headgate and no one was here doing our regular observations and checks… yet another reason why I prefer to just stay home.

Speaking of the headgate… I’m still in shock that I found such a good deal on it!  A brand new headgate similar to the one we just bought sales for nearly $800 at the farm store.  I found an unused one on craigslist for $150!! Apparently the guy who was selling it had bought it 10 years ago when he was first getting into cows.  Then the cattle market tanked so he got rid of the cows and never even set up the head gate… so it sat in his barn unused and most likely forgotten.  Now he is moving and decided to clean out the barn so posted it on craigslist just to “get rid of it” and as luck would have it I was the first (of MANY!) callers.  I think he regretted that he didn’t ask more for it… but he was happy to honor our verbal agreement even when he got offers for 2x what he listed.  Now I just need to figure out how to set it up! 

And that needs to be soon because I firmly believe that Mary had a fling with the neighbor’s bull… either that or she’s packing on the pounds and had an udder augmentation. 

Mary... Promiscuous or just fat?

M’s palpated cows before but Mary’s a bit… lively… and M’s not confident that Mary would stand still for the procedure.

Anyway.

I’ve been making cheese again… just mozzarella this time.  We’re all out and I really should be making it every day… but I can’t get my cheese making mojo going…

Sophie gets her casts off on Tuesday!  Hooray!!  The poor girl has been so depressed 😦 and on top of that she’s got a sore throat, a horrible cough AND ear infections.  Unfortunately the cough and sore throat must’ve been catchy because now Xander is coming down with a horrible cough and has complained of his throat all morning. 

Sigh.

Summer colds are totally wrong.

Luckily Beckett has remained healthy!!  However I’m betting he’ll get sick just as the other two get better…. prolongs the fun agony.

Anyway… continuing on the farm front.  We’ve started processing some of the chickens.  We placed an order with Cornerstone Farm in NY for supplies (knives, tools, a plucker and a scalder) and are still waiting on the plucker and scalder.  We’ve had a lot of hiccups with this order, but we’ve all been pleased with the items we’ve received so far.  We’re all anxious about the plucker and scalder though.  So far we’ve done 6 of the roosters.  That leaves about 74 more to be done.  Yeah… 74.  So we would reallylike to have that scalder and plucker really soon.  Like today would be nice.  Seriously.  And I still need to clean out the freezer… which would probably be a good thing to do today (note to self).

Anyway.  So there’s lots going on here at the farm.  My apologies to my friends that have called or emailed only to get no response.  August is a tough month with very little reprieve in sight as the garden is starting to come in and there will hopefully be a lot of canning and “putting up” going on soon, as well as doing all the chickens and getting them in the freezer and making chicken stock (with feet!!) to put away as well.  Not to mention getting things winterized. 

So that’s it for now…  Look for a chicken post soon!

This past week my brother, Kyle, his daughter, Iz, and M went on a whirlwind trip to Pittsburgh, Hershey, Baltimore and Monticello.  Those of you who know me on Facebook know that I did not go on this trip, however I feel as though I did since I provided Shea*Star(tm) services the whole time… complete with restaurant suggestions AND directions.

Sigh.

The life of a virtual traveler.

Anyway.

M & Co. had a grand time!  Kyle was speaking at the RPCNA Synod in Beaver Falls PA as a fraternal delegate from the ARP and had thought that M and Iz would enjoy exploring Pittsburgh while he was off doing the church thing. 

First they had a picnic:
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Then they crossed the New River Gorge Bridge (notice the haunted look of terror in Kyle’s eyes:
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After a delicious supper at Abay Ethiopian Restaurant they saw this lovely church and decided to have a look around:
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This is the East Liberty Presbyterian Church.  Kyle said it’s the most ornate Presbyterian Church he’s ever seen!

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Kyle and Iz inside the church… the stained glass windows look so lovely!

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M took this knowing how much I love thistles.

The next day Kyle was off to speak at Synod so M and Iz were off to explore on their own.

 They hit Penzey’s
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Happiness is a well stocked herb&spice cabinet. There’s a whole other side of the cabinet that I was unable to open due to a milk pail in the way so imagine even more spice-goodness and you’ll have the full picture 🙂 The only thing that I forgot to tell her to get was more ground ginger… oh well… I can order that!

Then they went to the Carnegie Science Center where Iz got to meet the “for-real” R2-D2 and C-3PO (I won’t go into the hilarity of M explaining to Iz who the iconic robots are, but seriously Kelly… aren’t you a Star Wars fan??).
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Don’t you love the look of confusion on Iz’s face… it’s one of those “O…K… Mamama… if you say so” kinda faces.

And while at the Science Center Iz got all turned around and ended up here:
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which she quickly discovered was NOT the ladies room.

Anyway, while M was looking around the souvenir shops she found a little something special for Sophie:
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And really, doesn’t EVERYBODY need a posable Albert Einstein Action Figure???

So anyway, it was a full day! The next day they left Pittsburgh and headed for Hershey.
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Chocolate World… how I wish you were Valrhona and not Hershey…
Iz had a grand time on the tour (there are photos, but I’m already pic heavy on this post so suffice it to say there’s lots of chocolate) and making her own little candy thingie.

And then they went to Gettysburg.
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At this point, those of you who know my brother know that this is a near religious experience for him. For those who don’t know, Kyle’s major at Erskine was history. And he’s a regular Southern history guru. He knows amazing amounts of stuff. Seriously. It’s amazing.
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Kyle took this pic and I think it’s really great. Good Job Kyle! Especially since you were using the little point and shoot.

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Here’s Iz at Pickett’s Charge.

And finally here’s a pic of Kyle and Iz in front of the statue of Robert E. Lee and Traveller
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And then they were off to Monticello.
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Where Iz hung out with Thomas Jefferson:
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And they had a fabulous meal at Michie Tavern
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I love the metal plates and cups.

And that’s about it. Or at least that’s all the pics I have. M brought me back a cookbook from Monticello and two glass dip pens with several small bottles of ink. Jim got a space-ink pen from the Science Center and the boys got super cool Thomas the Tank Engine Flashlights (with Morse code button) that have a (not so cool) whistle on the other end. M picked up several other this and thats along the way. Several books, some seeds and a really cool inlaid wood stamp holder that she got for Martha.

All in all I think it was an excellent trip both for real and virtually 🙂

Lyle gets a shave, originally uploaded by Tapsalteerie Farm.

At loooonnnngggg last we finally had worked out a time for the shearer to come this past Saturday. All the sheep (Lyle pictured above) were greatly appreciative, even if there was a great deal of baahing and general confusion among the lambs who were unable to figure out which Mama was which without all their wool.

Unfortunately the bulk of our wool is pretty much trash this year. Too much felting in the tips for the most part. We do have about 8 fleeces that we’ll be keeping (the Cotswolds and the lambs) and I kept Lyle’s because I want to play with dyeing, and his wool, while exceptionally long, isn’t particularly matted.

It was a very long, very tiring day! Jim had worked the night before and stayed up until 3pm helping out. Unfortunately I was unable to find a sympathetic supervisor at his work, so he did have to go in as usual.

For the record, it’s exceedingly difficult to plan for a shearer to come. The weather has to be nearly perfect and several major and minor stars have to align… we’ve never had more than a day’s notice before shearing and we’re too afraid to reschedule for fear it’ll take months to do! This shearer didn’t even call to tell us he was on his way. We called to see if the conditions were ok and found out he was about 45 mins away!! EEK! The sheep weren’t up and nothing was really ready, so we busted our tails to get everything in order.

By far the funniest moment was when the shearer pulled up. Jonathon (the shearer) drives a red pickup truck. He has shocking white hair and a very long white beard. The boys were out playing when he pulled up and all of a sudden I saw the two of them get that elated gleam in their eye.

So my two boys, who most of the time are quite shy around new people, came running up to Jonathon’s open window and immediately started into explaining why they wanted new bicycles (their old ones are broken) with their hands clasped together and their faces angelic in their request/begging.

I immediately understood what had happened and no matter how much I’ve tried to dissuade them from the idea, the boys are convinced that Santa shears sheep in the “off season”.

Interestingly, they were exceedingly good for the entire shearing.

Anyway. The sheep were less than cooperative. M lost both her shoes and did a Hollywood stunt-person style fall/roll at one point. Actually I think she lost her shoes more than once… I lost mine once, but recovered quickly!

Jim was blessed among men in that he was able to catch Keegan not once, not twice, but three times… a feat that has never been matched. This is impressive because I’m fairly certain that it’s been 3 years since he’s been shorn… he’s that wily and simply impossible to catch.

Anyway. So now I have a paddock full of naked sheep. They look like they feel better, although a couple of the lighter colored ones did appear to get a tad bit sunburned that first day… but it’s all getting better. I’m amazed at how different some of the sheepies look! Harriet is barely recognizable and a couple of the musket/moorit ewes are no longer fawny brown but more of a creamy white… which is weird. I can’t wait to see the wool grow in. I’m seriously contemplating jackets for the sheep to keep their fleeces cleaner. We’ve had a horrible time with VM this year and it’s just annoying to deal with. Besides I think a couple of our black sheep would have truly incredible fleeces if they didn’t get so much sun-bleaching.

Anyway (again). Our friend Melinda was able to bring her four over and they had a shear too… their wool turned out lovely (I can brag, they used to be our sheep 🙂 before Melinda took them to start her flock).

Julie and Kaedence came by as well, so it was a regular social day on top of a work day too! By the time it was over we were nearly ready to start evening chores and because of Jim’s work snafu I ended up milking solo (my first time!) which turned out great, but Maisie did try to act up a little but we did ok.

I was so exhausted that I barely remember my head hitting the pillow and I think I’m still getting over it all. The almost sun-burn isn’t helping either!

Be sure to click on the flickr link in the side column to view the pics. For some reason I’m not able to post pics to my blog anymore, so just click over there to see shots of a few of the fleeces and some of the shorn sheep!

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