Saturday, October 5, 2013

National Alpaca Open House

Last Sunday was the Open House event to learn about alpacas and what we do with the fiber. The daytabletop loom was celebrated all across the country at alpaca farms. Perhaps you saw an ad for a farm near you that was hosting the open house.
We had sisters set up at different stations working on fiber. Here one of the sisters is using a tabletop loom to make a scarf. It was really easy to use (I think even I could do it). She had the scarf done by the end of the Open House (it ran from 1 – 4). Lots of little kids enjoyed learning how to do it.
Here Sister Ruth is doing a wall hanging with fiber. She has a picture sitting off to the right of her foam and she is combining two alpaca faces to create the picture of two different alpacas on her felted backing. By using a felting needle, with short jabbing motions, the fiber is pressed onto the backing and bound together. She is really artistic and has a wonderful eye for drawing and has made a lot of different items that are for sale in the center. She is the one who taught me how to dry felt the ornaments.
Ann spinning
Ann is spinning fiber into yarn. She asked this little boy if he wanted to learn how to do it and he said “maybe when I get bigger”. She says that it takes quite a bit of coordination to get the hang of keeping the wheel going at the right speed and using your hands to pull the yarn as you go. On Tuesday nights the spinners meet in the center and I’m going to go this coming Tuesday to see if I can learn. I hope they have someone there who is really patient to teach me. I think it’s one of those things that if you can rub your belly and pat your head, you’ll be able to do it. I’ll let you know how I make out.
Jean on loom
Sister Jean was running a big loom. It’s portable but much more complicated looking than the table top one. It reminded me of a pipe organ with all the different foot pedals. Each pedal raises a different set of arms so you can create intricate patterns. She was also working on a scarf but she can make much bigger items on this loom. In the back room, at the center, they have a giant loom that is probably 5-6 x the size of this one. Candace, who is the manager of the garden office, runs that one so perhaps when she returns from maternity leave I’ll get to see that one in action.
It rained the evening before our open house and the day started off really cool and damp so Sister Mo decided to have the activities inside the center. It didn’t seem to affect the crowd size though. We had a really good turnout with a steady flow of people all day. Some folks drove from several hours away to come and see the alpacas and fiber items. I worked the tomato stand and sold quarts of our wonderful tomatoes. We sold a little over 14 quarts which helped us get rid of some. They are still going pretty strong. We picked over 300# yesterday and there are still quite a few green ones. They are getting smaller in size and the slugs are starting to get ahead of us for doing damage but we’re holding our own. Yesterday we delivered two totes to both dining halls (these dining rooms serve the sisters). They made eggplant parmesan in the dining halls the other day, with our eggplant, and it was wonderful.
Tomorrow is one of the big fund raisers that the White Violet Center does each year. It’s the Harvest Dinner and much of the food comes from our gardens. I know the soup is Pumpkin Bisque (with our pumpkins) but once I hear the whole menu, I’ll update the blog with it. We’ve been sending over herbs and different items to the chef who is preparing the meal. He works at Indiana State University, here in Terre Haute, and I will be working with him tomorrow once he arrives here to start work on the meal. Today, Sister Mo, me and Bree (another intern) will decorate the tables in the dining room so they will be ready.
Not much else going on here. We are getting a little bit of rain. It poured yesterday for a little bit and again overnight. We sure need it….has been really dry the whole time I’ve been here. Temps this week were in the 80’s most of the time and it was really humid. This morning I awoke and couldn’t even see out my window cause it’s all fogged up with moisture. I had to go out to set some seedlings outside the greenhouse and it is really muggy out. It’s freezing in my room so I usually have a sweatshirt or hoodie on and if I don’t check my phone to see what the temp is outside, I usually am overdressed when I go out. I had Linda send me my heating pad so I can sit on it when it gets really cold in my room. Warms me all over….That’s the hard thing with retrofitting a building with AC that never had it before. It’s so hard for them to regulate the temps from one floor to the next. The first floor temps are very comfortable and most of the second floor (where the intern rooms are) tend to be ok but it’s our west wing area that you could hang meat in….dang it’s cold.
We started harvesting turnips this week. This coming Wednesday will be the last pick-up of food for the summer CSA folks. We’ll have a week off (from packing bags and picking for the CSA – not to lounge around and eat bon bons all week – no such luck) and then the fall/winter CSA program starts. We’ve been busy starting lettuce, beets, carrots, turnips, broccoli and other veggies for the winter group. All of these seeds get planted in the high tunnels so they will stay protected from the snow and harsh temperatures. The plastic on the roof and sides allows the sun to heat the interior of the space so the plants can grow. The plastic on the sides is mounted on a roller so you can raise or lower the sides. As the temperatures drop, we’ll raise the sides so the tunnel will be completely enclosed to keep the heat in. Right now they are part way open so they are not so hot to work inside of.
Well that’s all from the farm. Be sure to support your local farmers….Buy fresh, Buy local !

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