News and Blog
Yesterday we moved the ewes to fresh grass. Here they chew their cuds under the shade of a tree in the heat of the day. It's a good day to be a sheep.
When driving this morning to the tannery in Quakertown to drop off sheepskins to be tanned and to pick up those that I'd left there 6 weeks ago, I heard the following passage from Proust's The Search for Lost Time read by John Rowe; I liked it so much that I noted to find the passage on eBooks Adelaide when I got back home. I was sure I could find it easily by searching the web page for Titian, a name that Proust does not use often.
What interests me is how Proust has his child-adult narrator play with the register of what he writes by going back and forth between the imagined wonders of Venice and the winter weather in Paris where he has his imaginings. Some critics label this as Proust's use of counterpoint in writing; no matter what you call it, it is mildy lyrical and rather pleasing.
When I repeated to myself, giving thus a special value to what I was going to see, that Venice was the “School of Giorgione, the home of Titian, the most complete museum of the domestic architecture of the Middle Ages,” I felt happy indeed. As I was even more when, on one of my walks, as I stepped out briskly on account of the weather, which, after several days of a precocious spring, had relapsed into winter (like the weather that we had invariably found awaiting us at Combray, in Holy Week), — seeing upon the boulevards that the chestnut-trees, though plunged in a glacial atmosphere that soaked through them like a stream of water, were none the less beginning, punctual guests, arrayed already for the party, and admitting no discouragement, to shape and chisel and curve in its frozen lumps the irrepressible verdure whose steady growth the abortive power of the cold might hinder but could not succeed in restraining — I reflected that already the Ponte Vecchio was heaped high with an abundance of hyacinths and anemones, and that the spring sunshine was already tinging the waves of the Grand Canal with so dusky an azure, with emeralds so splendid that when they washed and were broken against the foot of one of Titian’s paintings they could vie with it in the richness of their colouring.
Swann's Way Marcel Proust 1913, translated by C. K. Scott Moncrieff 1922.
We have 2 new sausages for sale online and at the stand too: a Hungarian Sweet Lamb Sausage with raisins selected by Matthew aka @stillmansays and a Garlic Scape Lamb Sausage that is made with scapes from garlic we grow on the sheep farm, suggested by the garlic and sheep lover, Dominique.
Rebecca is rightfully proud of the bounty of colors that she overdyed by dipping them in a natural indigo vat; and if you've noticed the increasing fullness of the stand—that we have new natural colors every week—we have her to thank.
Our project will be, of course, to continue dyeing colors and distribute them across the 6 different weights we spin from the superfine Saxon wool grown by Catskill Merino sheep; but, for the first time, we will hang tag all the yarns with their color names, weights and prices, and we will photograph them for the site, and hopefully we will do this all at the stand on Saturday with a laptop, a printer, a Nikon and software for label making. Busy, busy, busy we will be as all our natural colors (100's with more coming every week) are unique and in limited edition dyelots, but this is exciting work and it will create an energy that sells yarn on the spot.
Hang tags are important. Having sales from a LYS (local yarn store) on Saturday in Manhattan and selling online need a more sophisticated record keeping system that, by recording the yarn data sold from the hang tags, accurately reflects the quantity of yarn available. This inventory information will be particularly useful to the online buyer; and to us as well, as it will tell us what to dye and when.
Again, a most unusual natural color. More green than indigo blue and more yellow too than the colors in #34 One would suppose that its uniqueness is the result of the Osage I dyed as a base color as the other Indigo overdyes that I did in sucession produced colors that one might expect.
This color was dyed in a limited edltion of 24 skeins and they all vary somewhat. Available in the Yarn Store.
Each worsted skein weighs 2 ounces (50 grams) and it is 140 yards in length; the wool comes from our superfine Saxon Merino sheep and is hand-dyed with natural colors on the farm. Expect 5-6.5 stitches per inch using US 5-8/3.75-5.25 mm needles.
One evening at 11:30 Paul Morand was wakened by the doorbell, which signaled the beginning of the most extraordinary night. Without bothering to put on a bathrobe over his pajamas, Morand, who was expecting no visitors, opened the door. He saw standing before him a "very pale" man, wearing a thick but worn fur coat and a scarf, despite the warm evening. Morand, although half-asleep, had a writer's eye and quickly took in the features of the strange personage in the doorway. (His) black hair was so thick that it pushed back the gray bowler, he carried a cane and wore slate-colored kid gloves, his teeth were large and perfect, with heavy lips set off by a mustache and large dark eyes whose gaze was both soft and magnetic. The nocturnal visitor announced in a "ceremonious" and "tremulous" voice: "I am Marcel Proust."
The astonished Morand invited him in. Proust, who asked permission to keep on his pelisse, began to speak in an insinuating but authoritative voice which Morand immediately recognized as the one he had found so spellbinding in Swann's Way. After telling Morand to get back into bed, Proust explained that he could go out only late at night and had taken the liberty of ringing the doorbell because Bardac had told him how much Morand liked Swann's Way. Morand later remembered that he "had even cried out, after having read Swann: 'It's so much better than Flaubert!' This cry of enthusiasm had reached Proust," who was now sitting down in front of the white marble chimney at the foot of Morand's bed. So began a long visit.
(Morand), who harbored ambitions to be a writer, found himself: with the man whose conversation was said to be the most brilliant in a city of legendary oral wits. The Proustian spoken sentence, as registered by Morand that evening, was
Morand remained dumbstruck in admiration. What he felt most strongly in the room that evening was the presence of genius.
Proust said that he had made an exception to come out and meet Morand that night, an exception he would pay for afterward. He then described the "art of living" with this famous traitor known as illness, how he changed—to the amazement of specialists—the prescribed doses of stimulants and depressants, how he consumed huge quantities of caffeine in pill form, or brewed, which he often laced with bromide, as a corrective to coffee's stimulating properties. Morand, aghast at what he heard, remarked that Proust was applying the accelerator and the brakes at the same time. Proust replied that he knew better than anyone what was good for him, adding, "We are never cured; at best we learn to live with our maladies."
From Marcel Proust—A Life, William C. Carter 2000, p. 606
*Le Visiteur du Soir, Paul Morand 1949.
On (a) Saturday evening (in April of 1913) Marcel wrote Antoine Bibesco about the concert he had just attended at the Salle Villiers: "Great emotion this evening. More dead than alive I nonetheless went to a recital hall … to hear the Franck Sonata which I love so much." The piece was Cesar Franck's 1886 Sonata in A major for Piano and Violin, performed by the renowned Romanian violinist Georges Enesco and the French pianist Paul Goldschmidt. Proust had never heard Enesco, and he found his playing "wonderful; the mournful twitterings, the plaintive calls of his violin answered the piano as though from a tree, as though from some mysterious arbour. It made a very great impression." … Years later, when inscribing an original deluxe edition of Swann's Way to a young friend, Jacques de Lacretelle, Proust provided a fairly detailed account of the music that inspired (the fictional composer) Vinteuil's compositions. He mentioned, as one source of inspiration, Franck's sonata, as played by Enesco, where the "piano and the violin moan like two birds calling each other."
From Marcel Proust—A Life, William C. Carter 2000.
I walk the paddock looking at the grass growth, noting how much the ewe flock has eaten to determine when I should move them to fresh pasture.
The skies were glorious that afternoon after the rain.
I thought that moving the lambs down from the barn where they were born in March to the lower paddocks where they will graze for the Summer would be easier than it was.
The first failure came when they balked at the grass over their heads in the field ahead at them—forgiving the lambs as they couldn't see where we wanted them to go—I took the tractor with a 5 foot rotary cutter mounted behind on its 3 point hitch and cut them a ten foot swath, back and forth, in order that they could to see the path before them.
This didn't work either. The lambs came to the path I'd cut and stopped again, then turned away from Dominique who was leading them shaking a pail of oats (a good way to get sheep to follow) and ran head long into Poem who with me was bringing up the rear. The 250 lambs over ran us; Poem could do nothing to stop them, so I called her to my side and perplexedly asked Dominique, "How did we move the lambs down last year?"
"I think we had some older ewes with them," she said. But we had no older sheep up at the lambing barn; we'd moved all the ewes down to pasture a week earlier when we weaned the lambs from them.
Dominique said, "I can bring up 402—she's a leader—and a couple of other ewes I call 'my friends' and they can lead the lambs down as they follow the pail of oats I'll shake for them." So to bring back up the hill some of Dominique's 'friends', down the hill we went.
Where she masterfully cut some of her 'friends' out of the ewe flock: 402, 402's daughter, 123 aka Hot Cross Bun and another ewe from the 200+ ewes and marched the four of them back up the hill to mix with the lambs. Some of the lambs thought that these bigger ewes might be their mothers and approached them intently.
We were ready to try it again: shaking her pail of oats, Dominique lead while 402 and the other ewes followed and were followed by the lambs with Poem and I about 20 yards further back. When Dominique got to the place where the lambs had balked she raised a thumb in the air meaning they didn't stop this time and down the hill we trailed them.
Not that I'd ever paid much attention to Dominique's 'friends' but helping us as they did moving the lambs down the hill they became my friends too.