I’ve been doing the farmers market for over five years, but last Saturday was the first time a fellow vendor came over to my booth to ask if I’d come by to castrate her accidental ram lambs born way out of season thanks to, well, a ram that didn’t get castrated. I was flattered. Hogwash Farms is in the next town and the owner, Laurie, days away for delivering her first baby, waddled over during a lull in the market. She raises hogs, chickens and turkeys and has about twenty five Jacob sheep. She usually just separates the boys from the girls and doesn’t’ bother castrating, but sometimes, well, accidents happen.
The weather has finally stopped trying to act like we live in Florida delivering low humidity and cool temps, making the prospects of selling wool at the farmers market a whole lot easier. I had a sale before the market opened, decent sales followed, but the real joy was a customer who arrived in a terrific sweater she designed and knit from our yarn. Nothing is more fun and rewarding than seeing our sheep’s wool put to such creative use. And I think it gives the knitters a good feeling to know their work and talents support a very local farm.
Todd came down to the market to help me pack up in a near silent choreographed duet of bagging, boxing, folding and collapsing and in under ten minutes of the market closing the truck is loaded and we’re out of there. I’ll have to skip next week’s market as the Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival will take over my life starting Friday afternoon when I head up to Tunbridge to set up my booth. There’s a reasonable vendor fee, good crowds and fiber vendors I only get to see once a year, but of course, I’m behind on my prep work.
Once we got back to the house and unloaded the truck I headed across the river to West Lebanon where strip mall civilization thrives, to Joann’s Fabric Store, and scored big time with their coupons as I bought some dyed burlap and muslin to dress up the booth. Once home, I began rinsing and spinning out more 2018 yarn to ensure I have enough for the festival. I got through about sixty skeins before I had to stop and head down to Leo’s barn where the neighborhood apple press is stored. That’s when I saw Todd’s project underway. A manure spreader we bought a few years ago jammed up last fall and Todd, motivated by a ticking Fall clock, took advantage of the cool weather and took apart the rear wheel to figure out how to unjam the thing. He used the tractor’s bucket to lift up the spreader, and used tools I know nothing about to break down the problem and solve it.
Our 4th annual Apple Press Party was on Sunday afternoon in the yard next to our one room school house and it takes Leo and his tractor to tip, chain, lift the grinder and then the press and transport them from his barn about 100 yards to the school house. With Leo on his tractor and me on foot we arrive for the first drop off. Marty Lyman, hay farmer, snow plower, and man of many talents, has parked his truck at the head of the granite blocks that make up the stairs down the small slope to the school house. He was just getting started on putting in a rail along the steps with the assistance of his granddaughter Maddy who lives nearby. Just like Grandpa, she had a John Deere branded hammer and measuring tape, kiddy sized. Marty stopped his work, helped us unload the equipment and assured me he didn’t need any help getting the banister in place. I thanked Leo and head home to harvest the butternut squash and acorn squash from the nearly exhausted garden.
Fall weather, farmers markets, generous neighbors, and chores that demand but, at the moment, aren’t overwhelming. Sweet. So too is the freshly pressed apple cider!