Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What Makes The Heart Sing

Last weekend, I participated for two days of The Artist's Garden hosted by Ash Creek Pottery in Callander, Ontario.  This was the 10th year of the event.  It's a awesome event.  It's great to meet new people, talk to old friends and see some works from talented artisans. 

It was a hot, humid weekend with thankfully only a sprinkling of rain during the day and night (sorry to the farmers but scrambling to save my product in a downpour is not fun.)  I had the best spot for a booth, with nice breeze and guaranteed shade in the afternoon.  Plus, it was the closest booth to the tea room, so I was able to convince the church ladies to deliver the pie and ice cream when the mood struck.

It's always a lot of work to pack up my shop and set it up somewhere else.  Coupled with the effort to produce the product in my booth, it's obvious that I will not be paying all my household bills from my farm-based yarn business any time soon.  I hear a lot of comments from people who don't 'get it'.  People who don't understand why I would want to do it.  ``So much work``, ``so hard to compete with the price of imports``...yada, yada, yada.  I get especially suspicious stares from people I knew from my former IT career, where "billable hours" rule the day. 

Why do I do it?
Simply - because it makes my heart sing.

Sitting outside at this lovely venue, I spin the most lovely brown alpaca through my fingertips for hours (which is like a day at the spa for me).  Having three little talkative girls of 3 and 4 years old stand and watch my wheel for most of an afternoon and ask me questions makes me feel connected.  Hearing strangers complimenting my yarns, so soft and colourful, makes me feel proud.  I showed my Canadian made spinning wheel to a visiting tourist from Wales who is also a spinner.  I shared my weekend with other wonderful artisans and their family members who I now know just a bit better.

I don't golf.
I don't 'get it'.

But this...I do.

Recent additions to our household include two 3 year old German Shepherd half-siblings, Junior (sable on the left) and Sadie (black on the right).
We are really enjoying them after being dog-less for 16 months or so.
They are very well-trained and very loving to their pack (that's us now!).
German Shepherds are very intelligent dogs.  It`s important that they are kept challenged.
These two came from a young family who spent a lot of time training them.
Puppies are adorable, but being able to find these really super dogs already trained is like winning a lottery. 
At 82 lbs and 62 lbs respectively - they do fill up the house!
And hopefully I won`t be finding bear poop in the back yard anymore.

Jimena the alpaca kept a good eye on the dogs from the barnyard, alarming to the others quite often for the first few days.  She's calmed down now.  We've started walking the dogs through the pasture on their leads after supper on our way to one of the large back pastures that we use for off-leash exercise.  The alpacas are curious and wary of the dogs, keeping their distance and a fenceline between them.  Our other dogs never went to the barnyard or pastures.  These dogs are more intent on keeping an eye on  the ball-thrower ('Chuck-it') that we are carrying to the back field - they know it means loads of fun.

The chickens, though, are living dangerously.  The other night, when we entered the alpaca pastures to walk through with the dogs, the chickens all decided they were going to follow us out to the fields and walked with us like a gang of minions within the danger zone of the dogs.  I'm not sure what was going through the dogs minds or the chickens...although I am reminded how small a chicken brain is and perhaps how well-behaved a dog can be.

On the gardening front, we have proved that despite our lack of ability, our inexperience, the lack of rain, the groundhogs, the potato bugs, our lack of weed control (this gathers lots of 'Tsk, tsk'ing from other gardeners)...we still get to eat!
Think about what we can produce when we get better at this!!!

Despite making oven-baked zucchini sticks, whole wheat zucchini load with blueberries and pecans, garlic and parmesan fried zucchini, freezing shredded zuchinni for winter use and adding zucchini to everything I cook...alas, we are swimming (almost drowning) in zucchini.
My daughter thought we had found our calling when she discovered how many zucchinis were hiding under those big leaves. 
I've written enticing sales ads for the zucchinis that I've given away at work.
The neighbours don't eat zucchini apparently (what!).

But my daughter is an optimist and future entreprenuer.

Zucchini's for sale!!!


Julia said...

I am delighted to have found a kindred spirit in you, Norma. I get it - and I love to read about your life! I also actually work for a well-known internet company to pay the bills, but having 2 "jobs" is ok, since I absolutely LOVE one of them (it's not the one away from the farm)...

I thought I planted black beauty zucchini, but I accidentally planted golden instead. I've had quite a lot, too - and we've enjoyed every bit. I'm freezing some for winter, but no one wants my extras either. They don't know what they are missing out on. :)

Zenitude said...

I must comment on the dogs first. They look so obedient! You'll surely enjoy them and their antics.
As Julia just said, I also 'get it'. In this fast-paced lifestyle we often find ourselves in, it's good to have something that we are passionate about and that help us slow down, breathe and reconnect with ourself.
Your booth was beautiful and I could not help but touch and feel everything you had!!!
I want to buy a couple of zucchini! I just ran out.

Carol Tomany said...

I love zucchini!!! Looks delicious

Pat Stamp said...

Your spinning demonstration is always a hit at the Artist's Garden. It is so inspiring for those who don't work with their hands to see someone take some fluff and turn it into yarn. People have lost touch with how things are made. In this hysterical, fast paced world it is great that there are still people connected to the land.

Rian said...

I also love your blog! And as far as doing things with your hands and heart goes... again I will say, its the 'process' not the end product that makes our heart sing.

As for your dogs, they are beautiful. But I do worry about the chickens...

Azure Accessories said...

I get it! As I'm sure you know I do!

Congratulations on the new additions to your family.

My husband brought home large zucchinis and cucumbers the other day from a friend's garden, must be a good year for zucchinis...


Prudence Puddleduck said...

Well disappointed again! didnt see or hear any advertising.. anyway I have been away and regret missing both Lise at the market and your artisan showing, I have been running up and down Hwy 11 for the past ohhhhh 2 weeks.........just popped in to do laundry and off again.....Your new pups are adorable and capable to be sure, nicely done. I love your updates and dont give nay sayers a second thought , if any one of them could do anything remotely creative they would, its only envy rearing its ugly head........miss you ALL....♥Debi

oak haven alpacas said...

Ah yes, you have to do what you want. Billable hours are so overrated if you hate what you are doing. Alpacas and farm and fiber, now that's calling my name :)


Norma from Misty Haven Alpacas said...

Thanks all for your comments - I was sure I had replied previously but hmmmmm...not here.
Julie - kind words. I have another job at the library now which helps with the bills and I have to say I love it as well...just not with the passion of my yarn biz.

I know all that answered here 'Get IT' and agree with Pat's comments about those who make by hand.
And I don't think it's envy that makes the comments happen - I don't think those people are as evolved as those who 'Get IT' :) I don't mean that to sound as nasty as it does...perhaps just evolved in a different way?

luckybunny said...

OK first of all, the event looks awesome. Would have loved to have gone and seen you and all the great people there. Sounds like you really had a good time. Secondly I am so, so, excited about your new additions! Wonderful news. It seems like they are already fitting it and part of the family. LOL about the zucs, good idea on your daughters part! At least the garden did really well despite all the odds!