my lioness

I tried taking some closeups tonight of Cosset's coat in hope of getting some feedback and advice from my angora mentors here. You might remember that this is the doe that I got who was terribly matted, to the skin, over most of her body. I dematted her slowly over the course of weeks, and then gave her an overall haircut just a month ago. Somehow now there's all this hair! Thankfully, no longer matted (knock on wood).

So here are my questions - there are large areas where her new coat is only 1/2 inch or so, but lots of places where it's a couple of inches long with downy, light grey wool that will just pull right out. That skirt around her bottom in particular. Is that the old coat? Is that what I should be looking for to know that they are ready to be plucked? Or is that webbing? Then there are some spots of fine, dark, agouti-coloring mixed in among the light grey down - are those the guard hairs, or does she just have some spots? It has gotten so hot that I'll need to take all of it off again anyway, but I want to make sure I know what I'm looking at. Both her and her baby Junior are doing much better though since the Ivomec - both their coats are still patchy but no flaky skin and minimal matting.

It breaks my heart that she still seems so scared of me. She makes unhappy noises every time I reach for her, and thumps every time I let her run around in the house - and this was a bunny that her former owner said had always been super friendly. I am gentle and give her treats. I know it will take time, but I don't know whether to just handle her more or give her some space. How can I get her to trust me? Of all four bunnies, Prissy is by far the most outgoing and friendly. It makes me think that breeding my own bunz might be more satisfying than taking in bunnies - hopefully being handled from birth they'd learn to like me, but who knows. Still, I love taking care of these bunz - it relaxes me - I just wish it was good for them too.


the littlest ball is from mr. butch's haircut and i will knit it into a fuzzy hat - hope there is enough! the big one is soft lambswool with bits of leftovers from carding, the netting that i took off of peat pots when i planted, and big slubs of prissy's fur that she pulled out when she got hot the other day.

finally figured out what to do with that alpaca. this is spun with some easter grass and plied with vintage thread in beehives and coils.
Well, the tour of sustainable farms over the weekend was inspiring. I took lots of pics, and talked to farmers, and so we have at least a tentative plan now for the new barn and fencing. I realized that other than fiber farms (and dog kennels), I haven't visited too many farms since I was a kid, or really, ever. I remember my uncle Price's farm when I was little, but I wasn't at all clear on what it is that he farmed. He was just a grumpy old dude with lots of beautiful land and critters. Mostly, my pastoral vision was borne out this weekend, with colts gamboling in flower-filled meadows. There were lots of interesting new-to-me ideas for planting and raising all sorts of critters. There aren't a whole lot of fiber farms around here - the sheep farms we visited all raise hair sheep and sell lambs for meat. I'd really love to do fiber farming, but I'd prefer not to go broke, and selling the lambs is just a non-starter. Hopefully we'll learn a lot more this coming weekend at the long-awaited Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival!!!

Most farmers tend to do a number of things, and the advice usually is to grow a number of different products that all work together. But I'm a little concerned about having a steep learning curve and investment in time and equipment for a bunch of different farming projects. So the frontrunners right now are apples and eggs - both fairly easy and passive, and we already know a good bit about about raising chickens and taking care of an orchard. And we're also talking about shitake mushrooms and other woodland crops, like ginseng and black cohosh. This is all in addition to the angora bunnies, although I haven't figured out yet how to manage very many of them or harvest enough fiber for more than a hat. And maybe sheep, we'll see - at least they would give the donkeys something to do!


well, let's see... a couple of things have been happening...

i'm on the verge of a big life change, and need to make some decisions. i am just not sure whether i want to prioritize an academic life, something i've worked hard for over the last 8 years. or, something more related to art and farming. and whether we may want to raise rabbits. not that those are either/or, or easy questions, just things i think about. i'm not sure if my lack of interest in academia these days is burnout, or my usual scatteredness, or just plain laziness, or really a signal that i should follow my dreams and instincts. i've never loved teaching, and the market is awful, but i do love academia, and i'm likely to be happy doing it. and, it is probably a safer option. but even though i'll definitely finish school, i just don't know that a professor job is the way i want to go. my vision of myself in the future is not that, and i don't think it ever was. i really don't buy the notion that there is one purpose in life, although i'd love to have a little daemon pop down and tell me that i was born to do this one thing ... but there is this sense of a path, something drawing me in another direction.

it seemed as though i had a breakthrough with ms. cosset. she still is not enamored of me, i assume from all the dematting. getting the poor rabbit completely dematted was an awful task, and even though i tried to make it as easy as possible on her and split it into many small sessions, she still seems to associate me with unpleasantness. so the other night we were sitting on the kitchen floor together and she actually came up and nosed me. she had never done this before, or made any move for me at all - instead sometimes making noises or even boxing my hand. so this little gesture on her part seemed momentous! and then last night, i was feeling all happy to have her out, and brush through her quickly growing hair with no matting whatsoever... but then i saw something odd... it looked like dried poo but sort of to the side - a large globby thing just stuck in hair and deep down into her skin. i did some internet research and it turns out that there is a scent gland there and this was a large waxy secretion. so i carefully cleaned her up and gently got the gunk out, but she was very pissed and it was unnerving. i mean, does everyone have these issues with rabbits? maybe this is normal? but it looked like a recipe for disaster, especially if it were hot out. or is my anxiety around the cleanliness of these rabbits related to some strange psychosis of my own? i would think so except that i've seen what can happen, rabbits infested with maggots, and it is the stuff of nightmares. so i am determined to keep a close eye on them, and keep learning, and hopefully they will come to understand that i'm not trying to be an asshole.



I am such the fake academic these days, but I can't help but bear witness to the passing of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. She was the advisor to one of my advisors (the one who hates me right now). In academic terms, that makes her my granny. I'm not worthy, but I'm gonna claim her anyway. Her work has always moved me (the theoretical basis of my dissertation kinda hinges on her), but never more than when I heard her speak on the weather in Proust a few years ago. Hearing her speak was part performance art, part summer sun shower; I left in a groggy haze of lucidity. I wish I could get my hands on that paper but I don't think it's published yet. Or maybe I need to break down and read Proust - a friend told me at age thirty that the time had come, but a decade later I haven't made it far into the first volume. Maybe it holds clues to reliving and writing my own temps perdue (like the weather!)

Eve, we need you now more than ever.

ah! at last

I am so freaking happy - did not even let myself stop and think about it, but registered for Camp Pluckyfluff! I almost did once before, but it was in a most-hated city and I was not ready to indulge, whereas I am now and this is a place with old friends and memories of cold shopping, opera glasses and green beer. But right now I am thinking more of the new yarn, the huge thick multicolored crazy yarns and yarnies and Lexi Boeger in all her amazing California fiber Goddessness. There will be no better way to celebrate getting through the fellowship, and the cherry on top is that I can see Mad and the kids on the same trip.


Pink Moon


We had a small disaster today while I was cleaning the rabbit cages. I was pulling the drop trays out, hosing them down, scrubbing the pvc-coated wire bottoms of the cages, and replacing the pine pellets. In the midst of all this, I noticed that there was fresh, bright red blood all over the bottom of Butch's cage! I must have caught the little dude's nail in the wire when I pulled out the pan. We cleaned it up and it stopped bleeding quickly, and I felt terrible. There's a lot of on-the-job learning with this rabbit adventure. For the moment, everyone is fully brushed out and matt-free which is such a relief. I've been hurriedly tilling and planting now that last night's frost has passed, as I'm about to be away for a few days.


Spring cereal bars-in-process, recipe courtesy of Insubordiknit (tweaked sugar-free).

Evidence at the scene of a chicken altercation. Hounds are likely suspects. All chickens present and accounted for.

is it just me?

Or does the Twilight ad, from a distance, look like a rabbit's head?

We had a fun day, did well with our new cooking goals and carded and spun lots of wool. Also knitting an easy little kerchief out of alpaca since I always wear hats and need some variety.

I've been bummed lately at always wearing farm-gear. While I was teaching and working I dressed casually, but still I love clothes and expressing myself that way. These days, while I'm supposed to be writing but actually spend my time brushing bunnies, doing yard work, spinning, and maybe on a good day running to the feed store or the LYS, I don't tend to wear my coveted Anthropologie pieces. I've had enough clothes "altered" with bleach and mud stains that I end up running around in tattered jeans or sweats - actually I'll call them yoga pants since that sounds more self-respecting. This causes me great shame as I am borne of a glamorous woman. My mother is never without makeup, jewelry, and sophisticated black clothes. She is a city girl who dreamed of living in a hotel, and her daughter's dream of the country life gives her nightmares. I accept that I am not her and all that, but still her image and expectations are part of me, impossible to shrug off entirely.

I've also found that getting dressed in something cute helps with this depression I've been fighting. Today, to mix it up, I wore an apron all day. Is there another alternative for farmwear that I'm not thinking of? Too, too bad that I'm not like Ms. Prissy with that gorgeous coat to wear all the time (one that comes with a full-time caregiver).


Yarn-a-day, day one for me (three for them).

Might be mites

I think we've identified Junior's problem: fur mites (thanks Annette!) His coat is strange, and he has little flakes of skin on his neck. I picked up the Ivomec and some 3cc syringes, the smallest they had at the feed store, and tried measuring out the .12 cc dose for the little man, only to realize it's about a drop, and I could not tell if it ended up in his mouth or not. Before I dose the other rabbits, I need to track down some tiny 1cc syringes, or maybe just add water.

I'm wondering now if everything is crawling with mites, and whether I need to get rid of the fur I harvested from Junior. I've been using the same grooming tools on all the rabbits, so I'm also wondering if I need to disinfect everything, and how to go about that. Anyone have experience combating dreaded mites?

The mites aren't slowing Junior down: I got him a rolly ball at PetSmart and he loves flinging it around. Right now it sounds like he's having a throw-down in the laundry room. The other toys I've tried are not nearly so much-loved, so next time I'm out I will have to get balls for all.

btw, I also joined the yarn-a-day challenge posed by Blonde Chicken. It's a little ambitious, and I am late to the draw, but tonight I spun up the entirety of Butch's coat. It's silky white and smokey, heaven on a bobbin - hopefully sans mites since it will become a hat for my head - pics to come.


Gauntlets of Power

I am thrilled with these Doppio Gauntlets (pattern by Larissa Brown from Knitalong), so named for hanging out in a coffeehouse with your double espresso. They are so cosy and the yarn is just yummy - kettle-dyed Malabrigo merino with trim of merino/angora, handspun by yours truly. I'm also very proud because it's my first time doing cables, or anything with much of a pattern.

the most awful thing

I was on the message board for the local spinning guild this afternoon and I saw some posts from the woman I got my bunnies from. Her husband died just a few days ago. He hung himself from a tree on their property. She was asking for prayers and help with her animals.

I've considered taking down this post. I am not sharing this to be lurid. Even though I barely know her, we are connected to her - my bunnies were hers, our histories involve her. It also reminds me that everyone has their own hidden emotional world full of challenges, and to be kind instead of judgmental.