Yes, I am home and I had a great time! I have a lot to blog about today because time did not stop just because I was away and neither did the rain.
I had the news on on Monday and the weatherman said we had had 11 inches of rain in the last 7 weeks and were on track to have 12 inches over 8 weeks. I believe it! It is the end of July and there is water in our creek in the yard, which is generally dry from June until about November. The dogs love it. The weeds in the garden are as tall as the corn (which we planted late), but nowhere near as tall as the tomato plants, some of which are close to 6' tall. In this photo, the tomatoes are on the left, then corn, then weeds and in the lower right you can see some beets. I have already canned 2 batches of pickled beets and should have one more to do.
And check out the squash! We have acorn and butternut and they are going crazy with all the rain. Once the beets are all out of the garden, the squash can take over that area as well. I much prefer the winter squash over summer squash.
On Monday I dug up my garlic. It is now hanging in my studio to dry. This should keep us in garlic for a while and I will take a couple bulbs and replant the individual cloves this fall for next year's crop.
Sam is in charge of the potatoes and I have not checked to see how they are doing since I got home.
My herb garden is finally taking off. I used the first herb from it in some pasta the other day, parsley.
The parsley is in the lower left. In the center is oregano with thyme to the right of it and several basil plants. I'm not sure what the big plant at the back is, it was there and is some kind of perennial, so I left it. In the far back corner is a poor dill plant which I think has suffered from water pouring off the roof of the building onto it. It is not doing well. I needed some cilantro, but could not find any when I was planting.
Right before I left for SSK this tree came down on the alpaca fence. I was happy it landed right on the post instead of the actual fence. No damage was done and it was easy to cut off since the post held the tree up.
And I came home Sunday to find dead trees in our yard were being taken down, finally. I had been wanting one in particular removed for some time but it was in a place where if it fell wrong it would take out the footbridge or the chicken coop. Neighbor Lee showed up and dropped it neatly between the 2.
Some of the branches did bend the corner post of the chicken enclosure, but otherwise, no damage done. You can see the chicken fence on the right and the bridge on the left. This tree will now contribute to the maple syrup production of 2014.
That's pretty much it for the farm update for now. Not much going on with the alpacas. I do need to get into the bee hives this week and check on them. I'm not sure how this wet weather affects them. I'm not experienced enough at beekeeping to know. But I have a meeting on Monday and I am sure this topic will come up.
So, on to SSK! I left last Tuesday and drove to Mom's and spent a nice evening with her and then drove on to Nashville the next morning. I had never attended a knitting retreat before and I actually had to put my name in a lottery last August in order to get into this one as there is room for only about 150 people. The venue was the Scarritt Bennet conference center which is next to Vanderbilt University. It was originally built as a Methodist Episcopal college for lay people, but closed in the mid-80's. There is a chapel on the campus where Martin Luther King once spoke (and a wedding was held here on Saturday while we were there). The architecture is beautiful. To the right is Gray Hall, where we were fed breakfast and lunch every day. How Hogwart's is that??
This is Gibson Hall, built in 1940, where my room was. I forgot to photograph my room. It was about 12' X 10' with a chair, small dresser and a single bed and window. Attached to it was a small bathroom, which was shared by the room next door. You could lock the door to the adjoining room when you went in to the bathroom, but had to remember to unlock it when you were done. My "roomie" actually locked me out one night and I had to pick the lock to get in at 2 am. I got her back (unintentionally) by locking her out the next afternoon. OOps!
Here are just a couple more shots of the campus. There were lots of doorways with stone arches and arched windows with leaded glass.
But, the retreat itself was great fun. I took 2 classes, one on Thursday, a photography class, which was very good. It was all about taking good photographs of yarn and fiber to put in online shops. I learned (among other things) that using black velvet as background really makes colors POP! The instructor, Gale Zucker, is a photographer who has done lots of work photographing sheep and yarn and garments for pattern books.
My class on Friday was a spinning class with Jacey Boggs, who has done some spinning DVD's and has also just started a new spinning magazine called "Ply". The class I took was called "Back to the Draft" and took us through all the various forms of drafting the fiber (using your hands to pinch and pull the fiber to the size you want as the wheel is putting the twist in) to the big one, Long Draw (capitalized) which I had always wanted to learn. I can now do it! Excellent class, excellent instructor. I would take a class from her again at any opportunity.
Saturday was the vendor market. There were about 20 vendors at the event and it was open at 10 am to SSK attendees only. I think this was the high point of the event for many. I understand some people lined up at 7:15 am to be the first inside! As someone who felt no need to act like it was "Black Friday" I found there was plenty left to buy when I got in there at a little after 10. I bought some yarn, some spinning fiber and a few other things. Nothing like some people, though! At 1 pm the market opened to the general public but had a $5 entry fee.
There were also opening and closing receptions on Wednesday and Saturday nights with lots of door prizes. I didn't win any. And the rest of the time, people sat around and knitted and talked and laughed and went out and saw Nashville sights and went out to dinner and just had a good time. I'm glad I went. I would say about 2/3 of the attendees had attended last year and about a third of us were first-timers. I do not plan to enter the lottery for 2014 and give someone else a chance to get in. After all, there are many other retreats to attend and I heard there was a long waiting list for this one. Maybe I'll try to get in again in 2015.