Puppy weigh-in! The pups are one week old now and doubled in size!
The new farm looks like home now as the snow falls around us, but we're optimistic that spring will hit us soon, perhaps even early this year. In spite of the 6" snow and a night of freezing ice, the weather is predicting sunny weather in the 60's this coming weekend! That'll be just right for kids, lambs and puppies, who will be arriving soon.
T-minus a week or so, and counting down! Bridé has a puppy belly and is starting to fill up with milk. Check back with us for puppy photos soon!
It's that time of year for our Livestock Guardian Dog, Bridé, and we've found a purebred Maremma Italian Sheepdog stud in Charlottesville for her to visit. She'll spend about a week in his company and hopefully we'll see puppies from her in about 65 days.
As we move into the new farm location and get fences, shelters woodpiles and hay ready for winter, we must acknowledge the change in site with a change in name.
Our new farm rests along a slope coming down from Mount Pleasant, with a shallow hollow at the bottom of our land and a ridgeline at the top of our hill. Unlike our previous farm, where we sat in a bowl of a valley, here the majority of our farm will have a definite slope. This will be wonderful for making an orchard on one of our south-eastern slopes, where the cold air and excess damp will drain away from the fragile fruit trees. Our pastures and cropland, too, will have to grow on hillsides, and this inspired us toward our new farm name.
In the classic western novels by author Louis L'Amour, multiple characters (hardy, humorous individuals with problem-solving, resilient attitudes) hail from the Appalachian Mountains. They frequently describe their homesteads there as "sidehill farms" where they jokingly claim that their flocks were bred to have short legs on one side, so they could walk on the steep pastures as long as they always went around the mountains in the same direction.
In laughing tribute to these Appalachian tall tales, therefore, we have redubbed Mosby's Secret Valley Farm as Mosby's Secret Sidehill Farm. May our livestock never need to shorten their legs on one side!
Mosby's Secret Valley Farm is moving to a new location in Amherst, Virginia, along Route 60. Our old rental location is being transferred into a trust and we are switching to a farm we can own by ourselves. However, with property prices as they are in Northern Virginia, our chosen farm is substantially farther south than where we began. We will be about half an hour East of Lexington, Virginia, on 81 South, and very close to 29 South, so we'll still be within easy access for those who wish to brave the drive. As a wonderful sidenote, our new location no longer sits across a creek with a tiny bridge, down a dirt road off a dirt road, as we had been used to. Now we will live on a private road that connects directly to Route 60, a paved, well-traveled road that is maintained even through winter storms. No more worries about the creek rising and washing out our driveway!
The new farm has 26 acres but has not been used for farming since the 1960's. We love the location, the house and the forest, but there's much to do to make it ready for use.
Please bear with us as this will be a difficult, intricate move; in addition to a household, we have to move livestock, berry bushes and farming equipment! The livestock need fences and water sources in the new location before they can be moved, and the chimneys need inspection and repair before we can start using our woodstoves this winter.
We will try to maintain contact and availability as best we can in the coming months, but it may be some time before we re-establish normal farm cycles sufficiently to offer our products at local markets and such.
Tablet-weaving on the edge of fabric creates a warp-faced binding that decorates and protects. Tablet-woven edging is a skill from medieval Europe, but it is still in use in countries where hand-woven goods are common, such as Peru and Bolivia, because it encloses and reinforces seams, finishes visible garment ends (like sleeve openings and buttonholes) and it can take any shape without rolling or puckering the fabric (like necklines). Where visible, it can be made very decorative and elaborate, with no more skill or time needed than for a utilitarian version—the method and materials are the same! The materials are portable and don't take up much space. The skill requires the same dexterity as hand-sewing but takes less attention than embroidery.
What are weaving tablets?
Tablets, or cards, are thin (0.07 inches thick) pieces of wood cut into small squares (1.6” wide), with holes drilled in each corner. Some examples in period are hexagonal or octagonal, with additional holes, but the easiest shape is square with four holes. Sometimes the edges are colored to help keep the cards aligned together correctly.
Each weaving is defined by how many tablets are in use, not by how many warp ends (individual threads) are being woven. Therefore, a “13 tablet pattern” using 4-hole cards requires 52 warp ends, each thread cut to the needed length for the warp of the weaving.
Many in the SCA substitute cardboard or heavy paper card-stock (playing cards, for instance) instead of wood tablets. However, the more flimsy the material of the tablet, the more likely the threads will catch under neighboring cards and bend them (always frustrating). Thicker wooden cards are simpler to manipulate, so long as the pattern doesn't call for too many of them.
How does tablet-weaving on an edge differ from regular weaving?
Can I document medieval sources for this technique to make my project into an A&S display?
Yes! Tablet weaving itself existed throughout medieval Europe, especially later in period. Starting in the 700s, everywhere that the Vikings touched one may argue for it as a “known technique.” In France, one humorous illumination depicts a lady weaving her lover's hair using tablets and a rigid beater (Codex Manesse, Cod. Pal. Germ. 848, folio 284r)... but don't try that at home.
Later, it is demonstrably used as a seam finishing. For instance, many pieces in the Baynard Castle textile dump from around 1330, England, include tablet-woven edges along seams and button-holes. From veils to sleeve-ends, from cloaks to cotehardies, this is a valid finishing technique for a European persona's garb after the 13th century.
Instructions for Tablet-Woven Seam Finishing
Variations and Advanced Steps
Bare Minimum Tools To finish a fabric edge with the fewest possible tools:
Luxury Tool To make the twisting problem never even occur, use bobbins AND fishing-lure spinners. Anchor the 4 warp threads from each tablet through a spinner before it feeds onto its bobbin, and rig the spinners to the rear upright so they can turn with each twist of the tablets. Rely more on your fingers to open the sheds fully and maintain correct tension if you use this option.
Flat Ribbon To make a flat ribbon on the edge of the fabric, instead of a tube around it, follow all of the steps to get weaving. Instead of running the needle under the warp to meet the fabric like step 11, weave back through the shed and THEN into the fabric. Stitch, rotate the tablets, throw the shuttle; rotate the tablets, throw the shuttle, stitch (weave, weave, stitch; weave, weave, stitch); continue.
Wider Ribbon To make your edging wider, without needing thicker yarn, simply add more tablets to the weaving, threading the same way.
Twill To make a chevron pattern in the edging, alternate the angle of the cards in step 3.
On Monday morning, just before dawn, our miniature Oberhasli doe, Bay, gave us twin sisters. The most exciting part? They're black!
Oberhasli goats have rigorous standards for shape conformation, color markings and milk flavor. Usually, if a goat is not "chamois with correct black markings," that goat cannot be called an Oberhasli. However, they make an exception for pure black Oberhasli does (not bucks); there is a recessive trait in the genes that allows the occasional black goat to appear.
Mosby's Secret Black Bay is pure black; her twin sister, Peppercorn, has white spots on her haunch and front leg. We will know in about one week whether these girls inherited the polled traits of their sire, Mosby's Secret G.W. Lafayette. Both are healthy and alert, up and running as soon as they were dry!
Farmer Shannon runs MSSF and keeps horses, sheep, goats, ducks, chickens, pigs, dogs and cats, while living gluten-free & spinning/weaving for a hobby in the SCA.