Your Five Minute Morning

This posting is more about the photos than the writing- or the update of the last 10 days (although there are additional photos and updates below the ‘prize’ photos.) These special shots were all taken over the course of about 5 minutes just this morning, walking around our farm on a lovely sunny, breezy June day. First day of summer, too!  It is a special time to celebrate, not only because of the weather – and very few blackflies because there was a frost down in the valley last night- but also because Blue Belldon Farm now has exactly TEN animals.

We’ll start with the newest additions, because that’s what you’re all waiting for.  Introducing twin boys – Robin and Mo.  They aren’t as harmonious as their namesakes (Gibb twins/Bee Gees) but they have similar characteristics, and it was their voices together that I heard first, before laying eyes on them (more on this below the good set of today’s photos).  Robin is thin, gangly and buck-toothed and likes to hide in his monastery (the old doghouse). Mo is much more social, playful and enjoys a lot of drinking. He even has a little beard, bless him.

This morning was their very first time outside since they were born Tuesday.  Cammie has been out herself several times to graze when they are asleep, but we’re encouraging them to get ‘out and about’ now…

Cammie, Mo, Robin

Now, if that isn’t cuteness itself, see them trying to go up and down the corral hill.  Richard says this one is to be captioned: “You go first, Mo.  If you like it, I’ll try it too!”


Robin had to be very persistent, though.  “Go!  Go!”quit helping me

They did finally both get to the bottom, though, and then had a little play with Cammie standing watch at the top.

first outdoor play


Then, because Mo is much more strong and confident, their first time climbing back up, poor little Robin fell down. “Come on, Rob!” calls twin Mo, and Cammie adds “Teat for tat!”


The next time they tried the big climb, things were much more successful. We think this is Cammie practicing the twins for their audition for the final scene of The Sound of Music:


The twins are very proud of their accomplishments and Cammie is now thinking “Go back to the monastery and sleep, boys – Mama wants to graze with Chevy now!”OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Robin says “bye for now! You’ll be seeing a lot more of my cute mug in future!”



Chevy has been a bit depressed since the Tuesday Twins blew into town (more on his hilarious pouting near end of this blog post) but he’s being privileged with time in his old stompin’ grounds in the birch grove (where we used to let him graze when he was ill last year).  The grass is very rich there, there’s a lot more clover and he loves being able to rub the bugs off and scratch himself on the bigger trees.  He’s shown above in the 5 minutes I limped around taking shots.  Next to, I might add, my FIFTY-TWO ROWS of garden all planted! So he was happy this morning, esp. when Cammie finally wandered out to join him after tucking the new-borns in for a long nap!

Round the other side of the farmhouse we have ‘the girls’.  They are free-ranging happily now, but primarily stay near the septic system under the apple trees,  an area which is moist, earthy and wormy. The view ain’t bad either! (Thus, despite the proximity to said septic/weeping tiles, is the direct path which Carriann will be walking down next month to get married under that birch arch!)


While the hens look too much alike to name (except for the little one we think of as ‘sicky’, although she’s feeling much better now than when she came!), hours of entertainment can be gained by watching their characteristics emerge, as each one if totally different and they are surprisingly intelligent despite all the centuries of jokes.  I do have one hen I think of as Triple C (Curious and Cuddly Chicken). She’s always coming to see what we’re up to, and is happy to be picked up and stroked.


Here she is sneaking up on Mom as she is pruning the rose bushes at the corner of the house. Not sure Mom even knew she was being stealthily stalked:


And of course we can’t leave out our other two animals from the 5 Minute Morning photo session.  Smitty heard his name and INSTANTLY, there’s that tennis ball (and some ubiquitous drool):


And Simba, who has no front claws (not our doing), is 40 pounds overweight (not our fault either) and would really prefer to go on as he started life – being a purely indoor cat, is always tossed out on nice days to sniff some grass and then lie on the porch furniture all day admiring the view (o.k., it’s no real difference than what he does inside but we like to think that just the grass-slurping and the march from front porch to side porch to whine about NOT BEING INSIDE is more exercise than he would be getting otherwise.  Plus, it takes energy to whine and yowl, right? And to be fair, last August, with no claws and barely the ability to jog-trot, he caught a mouse outside. So ya never know!


There, that was my tranquil and lovely morning outside today. Gorgeous. And memorable. Cause they aren’t all like that, believe me! To find out more on that subject, read on and see some blurry, darker –ie. NOT prize-winning photos— of the twins’ first hours/days and our visitors from Ontario and the trials and tribulations of the last week that we made them endure!  Or, if you just want to imagine us sitting here with stunning scenery, sunshine, mild bug tormenting and peaceful, cute animals—— stop scrolling down NOW!    *****************************

Last week saw us with our third visitors in as many weekends.  We have waited since coming here for Jane and Peter Wright to visit us though.  My former Grade 6 art and social studies teachers, they became family when they realized how much they had in common with my parents and how much I needed someone in my life who could tease/take teasing and understand sarcasm.   We’ve had many trips together and they still travel a great deal, so we are so glad they finally made it here to Blue Belldon.

However, after driving from near Montreal to here – about a nine-hour drive, plus some stop-offs for sight-seeing which Peter blamed on Jane and Jane swore was all Peter’s doing, they were pretty tired.  Certainly they needed a quiet day the next day wandering about the farm, pottering in the gardens or reading a book in the shade.

Sadly, for Peter, that didn’t happen.  Richard whisked him off the next morning to go look at some barn board from a barn some folks are tearing down.  We are finally getting my Rustic Revivals shop prepped for going back to its original state and we need some barnboard to finish it off on the front.  (Here’s how it looks so far–Richard’s had fun tearing off all the ugly tin siding!)


Sadly, Richard and Peter never made it to the barn.  They got a flat tire, couldn’t get the spare on properly (despite several hours of struggling in the hot sun to do so!), had to spend the cash we’d put aside for the barnboard on getting towed to a tire shop, then more hours of waiting in a stuffy waiting room once Jane and I drove into town with a different spare from our own barn. So poor Peter was even more exhausted by the end of his first day here.  That was a bad morning that stretched into the hot afternoon hours!

Then the NEXT morning, I had to go to Maine to mail one of my Rustic Revivals custom orders off (much cheaper to drive and mail from the U.S. to all my American customers, which are of course 98 percent of them!) Peter wanted to go over with his car and fill it up with gas as everyone is doing in this area these days.  Jane wanted to go along and when we got there she remembered a surplus store my Mom had mentioned to her in a neighbouring town. Poor Peter – was just going to have a 40 minute trip there and back for gas and ended up with two nattering women who wanted to shop for fabric and cheap tools!  Many hours later, we finally returned home and THEN he got to nap!

As in the days of old when my Dad was alive, gin and tonics were flowing freely from my mother’s liquor cabinet (half a closet due to her homemade wine!) We had some lovely more formal dinner parties in the living room/dining room, mostly cooked and catered by Mom as I’ve still been busy with final plantings.


But on their final night with us, we were all too tired to ‘do up the dining table’, so Jane bought us pizzas and we stayed in the kitchen. They all got tipsy and Richard taught them our choir’s hit-of-the-season, the body-percussioned Rain Song.   (part of our choir performing it here:    still photos from that performance in my last blog)

I did video-tape the mangled version of three tipsy slightly tone-deaf folk trying to do just the melody of the song, plus the percussion, but I wouldn’t embarrass them (well, Richard I might, but not the Wrights!) by posting the most-entertaining-for-ME video here.  However, there are some jolly good stills from the video which I consider fair game and a decent compromise on my part.  I mean, if you’re gonna swig beer AND gin and tonics…  You can see why Jane was always a much-beloved, fun-loving art teacher!  You can see that, though Peter did sing along, he was still thinking about a nap. And you can certainly make out that Richard likely SHOULD have been a teacher, as he sure likes to impart his (often new-found) knowledge of most subjects:

jane and peter, rain songjane, percussion, rain song

Jane brought us some of her amazing artworks –  Her perfect-blue recycled glass plate is in the window above my sink above. Here’s a close-up.


She knows how much I love upcycled items, so she also did me a cheese and dip tray from an old wine bottle and a mason jar.  Love this, and it matches my dusty greens in the dining room, too. Here it is with my homemade bread as French toast – the only way to eat it when it gets old and crusty!


Jane also did both Mom and myself some gorgeous glass pendants.  I took several shots of mine, but none do it justice. See some of these and her more ‘modern’ designs- made with new glass  here:

Jane’s daughter Lindsay also works in glass and when she’s visiting Quebec from Boston she and her Mom share the kiln and work space in Jane’s lovely little studio.  However, Jane is also an amazing watercolour artist and also uses alcohol ink to get glorious colours and designs.  See those here:

I haven’t done an Artist in the Attic feature for a long time on this blog, so I just sort of did that here, I guess –  The last photo of Jane’s stunning work is this lovely ornament she gave Mom:OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Anyway, all this just to really say that if Jane Wright doesn’t always get the exact note or beat when singing a crazy-ass choir exercise – who cares!?  Look where her talents DO lie! And Peter, despite sun, fatigue and a little more gin than tonic DID manage to sing his Rain Song part in tune.  For most of it.

As soon as Jane and Peter headed back, we had another crazy morning here on the farm. The chickens found a little dip I’d dug in one of the flower gardens, planted esp. for the wedding with specially-ordered purple and blue seeds.  I found them laying in it, but prior to that they’d obviously scratched the heck out of it and no doubt no single seed would find germination. I herded the ladies back to the orchard and went in to finish in the kitchen. 10 minutes later I looked out again, and all 4 were IN THE SAME HOLE!  This time Richard helped me put chicken wire around it, as we’ve done in many other spots already for Cammie and to keep Smitty from lifting his leg on all the flower seeds/seedings and shrubs. Later in the day I replanted the area, but as most of the special seeds were gone, I just planted some scarlet-runner beans instead.  Not the ‘right’ colour, but all I’ve left.

There followed several more frantic mornings of doctors’ appointments for either Mom or Richard. One morning I was in the bath preparing for a 10:30 leaving time with Mom and I heard her calling to Richard to ask if I was ready at 9:00!  Apparently her app’t was for 9:45!  And then Tuesday morning Richard and Mom were both gone to appointments.  I was out moving Chevy’s pasture with the electric fence and about 11:00 I put fresh water in the stall for him and Cammie and went into the house for an early lunch (or late breakfast as it generally is in my instance).  20 minutes later I went back into the barn and saw Chevy leaning his great monster head into the goat pen and heard all kinds of out-of-tune bleatings from a surprise trio.  Reminiscent, in fact of Richard and the Wrights. But whilst that may be a great name for a 60s band, it doesn’t contain twins, so Robin and Mo wobbled around ‘singing’ for an hour or so while trying to figure out where they were and what had just happened.  Poor Chevy, he couldn’t take the noise anymore or the fact that his best friend in the world was now suddenly ignoring him. He took himself off outside and I didn’t see him again for 3 hours.

The twins were pink.  All white, of course, but so much blood on their coats they were a shade of strawberry Kool Aid.  I wiped them off, as Cammie’s tongue could only do so much. Mo was drinking milk right away and for ages and ages, but Robin had two tugs on the teat, decided he had enough collostrum  and lay down. This is the very first photo I took of them, with them both drinking.  It was the last time we’d see that for a full 24 hours!


I struggled to get wee Robin  to stand – he was so thin!- and take the teat. Cammie also tried to convince him. She’s a great Mom for only being two herself. She didn’t want to give up on him.  Between periodically easing out the afterbirth, the sac, and etc. (into which detail I shall not go – it was messy and icky and I never did want to be a vet) I spent the next hour trying to get Robin to eat.  Finally I went to the place on the work table where we’d been keeping the bottles and nipples for the last month, all ready for this precise eventuality.  They were gone!  Remember, Richard and I don’t have cell phones now, so I had to do the old- fashioned thing.  That is, get into a man’s head and try to figure out where (logically?) he might have put something important, newly-purchased and potentially much-needed as in a case of life or death.  I searched everywhere in that garage and barn. They were NOWHERE, and though we didn’t really even WANT the goat kids – just needed Cammie to be producing milk!-  I had tears in my eyes at the thought of being all alone and seeing the little guy fade away in front of my eyes.

I made up the milk supplement and tried getting him to suck it off my fingers while I held him in a blanket on my lap.  He refused, made faces and bleated for Mama, who glared at me.  I went to the house and got a syringe and tried to pour it in that way, but it was too hard without someone else helping me hold him, hold his mouth open, fill the syringe, etc.  Just as I was about to give up, Richard and Mom returned, and I told Richard he’d better remember where he’d put the bottles because we needed them STAT.  He went immediately to the canoe on the floor at the front of the barn and got the brown paper bag with the purchases.  You know, bottles and nipples in a bag in a canoe.  As you do.  Silly me!

As it turned out, Robin kept refusing the nipple so we went back to the syringe (from reading up on similar circumstances, I think he had about a half-hour left to live) and FORCED the milk supplement into him.  Here’s Richard holding him, with Uncle Chevy looking on (we couldn’t take Robin right out of the stall as it was creating too much trauma for everyone, so we just sat there in the stall and Chevy decided to come check up on things again).


We decided to leave them all alone for a few hours, and when we came back to the barn, Mo was asleep in the straw and Robin was drinking happily from his mother!  For the next 24 hours, they wouldn’t share (it wasn’t Cammie’s fault, although I did blame her at first. Mo was a hog, and Robin wasn’t confident enough to get in there on his own teat, so would wait until Mo went to lie down).  But at least he WAS standing and drinking periodically and must have done so through the night, as the next morning, he was fatter and both were standing more confidently.  And each of the 3 days since then they’ve eaten and slept and had a bit of time exploring new surroundings too. Tomorrow they will be in sunshine for the first time, as despite being out in the corral today, they were in complete shade.  This is me yesterday and my little baby Robin.  We REALLY need to give both these billy goats away.  We MUST.  But this little guy…


Now, for the promised hilarity resulting around Chevy’s depression at having to go down in the ranks of Cammie’s esteem.  At first I thought he was colicky.  (A very dangerous condition for horses as they can’t regurgitate to get rid of gas or upset stomach). He was hot, looking at his flanks, wanting to lie down, and hanging his head with a trembling lip.  But I did all the checks and we kept our eye on him – he didn’t have colic, because it was only happening when we were there watching (the goats!) and the rest of the time he was out grazing!  The pouting and trembling lower lip lasted until Wednesday night, at which time Cammie got herself outside to graze a bit beside him, and he seemed to cheer up a bit.

But Wednesday morning he was outside and REALLY mad at me because I was apparently ignoring that the bugs were bad and he wanted to come in.  (I’d moved the fence so he couldn’t just do this of his own choice).  He saw me on the porch. He whinnied. I ignored him, because spoiled animals don’t get what they want immediately upon asking for it. He stomped his front foot twice.  No, Mr. Ed. Go graze.  Then, as I watched in disbelief, he picked up the electric fence in his teeth to see if it was on. (It wasn’t).  This horse is suicidal!  It’s not on, so he pushes it forward with his chest far enough so that he can reach his lead shank on the ground.  HE PICKS IT UP IN HIS TEETH, LOOKS RIGHT AT ME AND FLINGS IT HIGH IN THE AIR.  O.K.  I admit it.  His demands were then met.  That was WAY too good a trick to ignore.

It wasn’t a fluke either, because he did it again the next day.  Of course NOW we’ve taught him a bad trick, so we have to turn the electric fence on, and also move the lead rope right out of the way altogether.  Chevy is a much smarter animal than I gave him credit for being, and I think the fact that he is the only one who saw the entire process of the twins being born does mean he was probably a bit traumatized.  I’m trying to cut him some slack.

I moved his fence back so he can go in and out again as he pleases.  And he IS really careful around the twins on the odd occasion when Cammie’s pen door is open and they come sticking their nose out into the ‘big stall’ to see Uncle Chev.

And of course, on a peaceful morning like today when he REALLY has things going his way – lots of bug spray, his mask on, shady trees and lush grass in the birch grove AND his best friend grazing for a time at his side — life seems so idyllic you’d never guess all the backstage drama that exists! But pull aside the curtains and whaddya see?  The TRUTH about farming!



The Joy of the Loom Room, (it’s the “Mother of All” for a Spinster!)

Did you know that one of the parts of a spinning wheel is called the ‘mother of all’ ?  This is fitting since my mother Joy, living on the 2nd floor of our farmhouse, has the ‘mother of all’  loom rooms – decked out with her large loom (she used to own a table top loom as well, but has since sold it ) and two different types of spinning wheels.  And decorated in a jolly and charming fashion with her collection of sheep paintings and ornaments, and artwork of various spinners and weavers through the centuries.

Before we bought Blue Belldon, the room was ‘just another bedroom’:

loom room beforeWithout a bed in it, it seems so much bigger, despite the large loom at the window, where Mom/Joy has the best view of any window in the house:


She liked the ‘original’ (1980s?) wallpaper in there, so we left it, and she put one of her more intricately-patterned rugs there on the floor, to match the navy on the walls.    While this would have been better suited as a blog posting whilst there was still lots of snow on the ground (ie: 5 weeks ago!) and prior to many, many new things being built and done outside, as I’ve been down with that bug for the better part of a month, I’m just going along with this as my next post, as promised.  Mom worked hard through the winter and early spring months to weave a rug for a friend of mine who contributed to the film I’m involved in making, as well as three new gold and grey rugs for our bathroom, to match the barnboard and claw-foot tub. Our store-bought gold ones were already pretty worn after just two years here.  In fact – two years ago exactly this weekend, for me!

mom's rug for Annette

Annette’s ‘slipper mat’ for beside her new guest room bed is in her cream, grey and green colours, and Mom/Joy was good enough to whip that up for her in some thick and cozy-to-the feet off-white wool.  Here she is at work on this first project for 2018:

Then, since she still had a fair bit of ‘warp’ on the loom, she asked if I needed anything downstairs and I noticed she had lots of greys and some gold as well – we don’t buy new wool, of course – just use what we have! Re-use, Re-cycle (she originally bought it all at garage sales anyway!) and UPCYCLE!   So here’s the lovelies she completed to cozy up our bathroom (The one at the base of the sink is just for guests, she’s made us another for everyday ‘farm’ footwear – ’cause Richard runs in there in his boots to wash his hands, mostly!) (as always, click on smaller photos to enlarge – providing you’re here in the proper WORDPRESS domain and not reading this from your email notices! 😉  )

Mom managed to find old wool that exactly matched our bathroom colour scheme, so we are thrilled to have these!  And it’s always great to have her woven AND braided rugs in our part of the house – they are not only of great sentimental value to me, but are farmhouse-cozy AND she can exactly match any colours of a room.  This one’s in my kitchen – but again, just for ‘good’, as it gets too filthy if I keep it down all the time.  I love the pattern in this one, it’s one of her more common ones now:


Of course, our kitchen colours are blue and burgundy, with a ‘pop’ of yellow here and there, so where else could you ever find a rug so perfect in size AND colours?

Over the years Mom has woven a lot of rugs, placemats and table-runners as well as blankets/shawls for family, friends and even a few custom orders from strangers.  She has an over-stuffed scrapbook of every item, but here are a few of my favourites. (The bottom one is a common-design as she weaves from strips of blue jean material!  Both my sister and I have had several of these latter, because they do tend to wear out quickly due to over-use!)

samples of weaving (2017_03_14 21_04_25 UTC)

Of course, she has also made a copious amount of lap blankets which can also be used as shawls.  She has several of these upstairs, and both my sister and I have a few of these in various rooms, too.  Below is Mom/Joy with our friend Jane at my pioneer show in Ontario a few years ago. Jane is modelling one of Mom’s handmade works:jane and joy2 (2017_03_14 21_04_25 UTC)

You’ve seen photos of last year’s amazing projects – two BRAIDED rugs, one each for my sister and me.  These were in the shapes and colours we each requested as well, and made from 2nd-hand scraps.  On the lounge (which I keep on top of my own braided rug to prevent excess wear and tear from dirty socked feet!) you will see another of Mom’s woven blankets and a cushion her aunt (who taught her to spin and weave!) dyed, spun and wove many years ago:


Another friend, Anne, may also notice her heirloom bedspread which I also use to cozy-up with on cold nights when I need ALL of me covered up!  Nothing is unused or wasted in this household! Here’s Mom (NOT intentionally dressed to match the rug!) with my sister Jennifer’s custom braided one for their summer house – an old farmhouse that’s been in her hubby’s family for several generations, on the west coast of Newfoundland. It will look well there, and help to brighten the place up, as these pieces made from scraps have been doing for centuries! Mom is so talented – and PATIENT!


Mom’s favourite spinning wheel is called the ‘Wee Peggy’. She modeled as a pioneer for publicity for my pioneer arts and crafts show in Ontario with that little wheel. Note the ‘cotton’-like fuzz in her lap, which she is spinning into wool (manned by the pedal her foot is on).

joy spinning (2017_03_14 21_04_25 UTC)

The hardest part about spinning is trying to get a consistent thickness throughout. It’s tricky, because it tends to be thick and ‘open’ in places, and tight and thinner in others. I know, because (also for publicity for my show, which had up to 40 completely different environmental/all-natural and/or pioneer-based artisans and ran 3 different years in Ontario) I’ve TRIED!  It’s very tricky:

4, for show promo, 2014 (2017_03_14 21_04_25 UTC)

The parts of the more common type of spinning wheel are below. This is where you’ll see the amusing “mother of all” part!

spin wheel parts

Mom hasn’t ever actually spun on her big wheel, below, which Richard and I gave her a few Christmases ago, though it IS the more traditional type.  We didn’t really expect her to, as she prefers her Wee Peggy and doesn’t do that much spinning any more. However, it is a lovely antique that many who appreciate our history just enjoy having as a show piece.  And in Mom’s Loom Room, it certainly is THAT!


Mom also posed for the pioneer show with her big loom, and did great demonstrations most of both days each year explaining the entire process from sheep (or alpaca, dog, etc!) to finished product. Hanging from the front of her loom (below) is one of my favourite pieces – a wall-hung ‘pocket’ with my name threaded in, used for sticking all manner of items you want handy, but hidden!

joy (2017_03_14 21_04_25 UTC)joyful (2017_03_14 21_04_25 UTC)

Here are the parts of a loom like Mom/Joy’s, just to show you how involved the process of weaving actually is!

parts of loom

Thus is the end of the winter blog postings, and definitely late, I admit!  But prepare to be inundated with all manner of outdoor topics now, starting hopefully next week, and hopefully on a more regular basis (shooting for at least every two weeks this year!)   Cammie’s kids are due soon, Richard’s using Chevy more in the woods now because the winter was just too hard even for the ‘pros’ to get their horses in and out, our basement grow-op did much better this year compared to last so I’ll be sharing some tips I discovered on that, AND the new composting system we’re working on as Richard went and took a course!  We have  some visitors coming mid-June who’ll be helping ’round the farm, the chickens are over-due, but Richard’s finished the coop and they should be coming soon, and we’ve done a lot of work on both the cross-country course for me to offer schooling sessions to eventers and the wedding site for Richard’s niece Carriann to marry her “Beast” Matt at the end of July – Rural Revivals bridal decor I’ve been updating with a lick of paint and a touch of new colour!

But to end the spinning/weaving theme about Mom/Joy, enjoy the following poem I wrote about her for a magazine article about Fibre Artists in New Brunswick. Though they said poetry was accepted, I’ve yet to SEE a poem in their hard copy of the mag, and whilst the editor told me my work would appear in the online version (with a variety of photos of Mom at work on her lovely pieces) it has been over a year, and no online versions have appeared, so I’m goin’ public with this now.  Sorry about the formatting, it was obviously done for submission.

The Joyful Spinster

A fibre artist who learned all

From an aunt whom she admired

(And it was from this aunt

That her talents were acquired,


For she always modestly proclaims

She really has no skill or art

Certainly none “come naturally”;

Though she’s dedicated in her heart!)


While many say to sell her work,

This artist, Joy, gives it away

Though she’s a widow in north N.B.

A  “Joyful Spinster”s  what we say


When we describe her fibre work

From wool her aunt helped dye

From natural things like nuts and veg

Right from the sheep, they’d try!




She’s often game to play dress-up

For shows, in full costume

And demonstrates her craft

Both on her wheel  and on her loom.


And though her aunt has passed on now,

Joy keeps her practice going

And especially likes to get involved

When New Brunswick skies are snowing!


Because she’s moved here just this year,

From Ontario, green and milder

The winters offer time for art

(And pursuits a wee bit wilder!)




From giving time to Africans

Where some orphans she has taught,

Joy now weaves for refugees.

Much warmth those Syrians sought!


She made them shawls and blankets

Weaving daily on her loom

Despite having just had surgery

She toiled in her “Loom Room”




She wove them many blankets

Like the two that you see here

She hopes they’ll keep them cozy

All throughout the seasons’ year.




She also weaves so many rugs

But just for fam-i-ly and friends

Some are patterned out of wool

The others – blue jean ends!





When asked at some occasional shows,

Joy HAS done custom work

But never charges near enough

For her, it’s just a perk


When someone well-appreciates

The time a weaver spends

Making such lovely items

For her fam-i-ly and friends!

Joy’s loom has been to many shows-

But she’s just there to ‘demonstrate’

“I don’t like to sell my work;

I’m not good enough!” she’ll state.


But whether she’s inside a tent

Or as a pioneer in village halls

The Joyful Spinster weaves away

Wherever her heart calls.


She makes displays for children

To show them ‘the old ways’

And brightens up her loom

With signs ‘bout  ‘olden days’.


With dedication foremost,

Joy will even weave in LOFTS

Because, she says, her ancestors

Came from lowly Scottish crofts:


And now, the Joyful Spinster

Tries her hand at rugs of braid

To recycle scraps and remnants

From clothing others made!


To pass those long cold winters

In New Brunswick’s mountain range

Joy’s adapting well to this,

As she adjusts to ‘winds of change’.


For here, at Blue Bell Corner

With views that go for miles

Whatever crafting Joy will do

Will be met with happy smiles!



Even so the World’s grey Soul to the green World 
Perchance one hour must cry: “Woe’s me, for whom 
Inveteracy of ill portends the doom,

      —   Dante Gabriel Rossetti, after a long period of illness
                   in the springtime of  1873

Sorry to be not MISSING in Action, but OUT of Action – have been down with a respiratory ailment for more than a month (I was warned when I first got it by several people that I’d have it for up to six weeks. Flu symptoms, fever, hacking cough, sinus migraines, etc.  I absolutely refused to believe them, and did everything in my power to get better in the first 10 days.  Then I realized they were right and just gave up!)


Anyway, slowly getting back to some work outside and baked bread for the first time today since the week after Easter!  Richard’s been enjoying eating store-bought ka-ka, but that’s gotta stop!

Soon you can ‘look forward’ to the long-ago-promised blog posting re: Mom’s weaving and braiding, a more in-depth look at the how-tos, as some of the Homesteaders who follow this may be interested.  And after that, a posting on how well our basement grow-op did this year compared to last… and after that, some visitors who’ll be helping ’round the farm… and after that, some of the cross-country course and wedding site decor we’ve been adding to… oh, and the new chicken coop, and the…

as a tease to tide you over until I can get a bit ‘caught up’ around here and am able to write:  Here’s a high school friend of mine with one of Mom’s new bedside cozies, which will feature in the next posting coming SOON:

mom's rug for Annette

Artist in the Attic # 4: Jane Wright and…

preface:  I know this week’s blog was supposed to be about the seed tables and the planting in our basement.  Richard has the tables ready to go, but due to the massive cold snap (minus 20 all this week again!) we haven’t been able to get the earth out of some of the bigger planters that we were planning to mix in with the potting soil downstairs, and also the seeds haven’t arrived yet. So- hopefully next week?  Besides, I haven’t done an Artist in the Attic feature in a long while!



artist in attic painting

for artist in attic

The farmhouse  at Blue Belldon Farm is full of artwork because we all love it.  My collection of pottery, Mom’s and her aunt’s weavings, and mostly, paintings, etchings and sketches with deep sentimental meaning to at least one of us. Richard himself was immersed in art in his younger years, and so quite a bit of his own early work graces our walls (as well of that of his fathers’).


Richard’s sketch of his German grandfather hangs in a montage on our bedroom wall, and two oil paintings he did of his time in rural Saskatchewan hang downstairs in his office:

His artistic talents were passed on to his youngest son, Nigel, who has honed them into a lucrative profession as a rather well-known tattoo and portrait artist in Toronto.  Richard is proud to announce that Nigel is booked a year in advance, and has even had commissions from folk as far away as England and Japan.  I especially love the romance (not often evoked by Nigel, believe me!) of the first one, and the amazing reality of the Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton one.


Artistic talent may be often inherited or at least somewhat naturally instinctive,  but art APPRECIATION should be cultivated by those who truly adore it.  My love of art really began with my Grade 5 art teacher, who was then Miss McBeath. She was a neat ‘hippi’ type of self-confident young woman with long hair to her waist and wearing long peasant skirts (which I still prefer wearing myself to this day) with a slightly sarcastic and quick wit (which I’d seemed to have been born with but which was, shall we say, NOT encouraged around my house!) and with a talent for passing on her passion of all things artistic, creative, and most important to me – INDIVIDUAL.   It didn’t matter HOW good you were, she said, as long as you tried and you loved what you were trying…  I also found out about her that she, like me, had been a tomboy who struggled with her weight, and we also bonded over the fact that I did NOT find it amusing that my class had to give up art to go and take a semester of Home Ec., as it was then called.  (Ironic, then that so much of this blog is dedicated to recipes and kitchen how-tos!)

The following year Jane married my Grade 6 social studies teacher, Peter Wright, and we found more in common – they drove the exact same V.W. van as my parents, Peter and my Dad were obsessive tennis players/followers, and both Wrights accepted me as a strong-willed tomboy with a sarcastic sense of humour and respectfully called me by my requested nick-name, “Chip” (which few others were wont to do). Our families have since been life-long friends.


Originally, Jane was more a textile artist and found joy in the creation of pottery, batik, knitting, quilting, rug hooking and woodworking. She definitely was one of the last, true “hippis”, in my opinion, and could very well have settled into a live of self-sufficiency as we are trying to do here, with her many talents.  In fact, she and Peter DID take their 3 children and live in the French mountains for a year of self-exploration!


However, this amazing woman has, in recent years, found her medium/niche in watercolour, and, as  former president of the bi-lingual “Artistes Hudson Artists”, a group of more than 80 talented artists in the artist colony of Hudson, Quebec, she has also publicly defended,  in various media, ART and the right to individualism.  From one of her articles:

“Why should you buy original art? A good question, when you can buy pleasing, inexpensive, mass-produced things for your walls. The answer is that all art is a form of self-expression and communicates the artist’s message. How you interpret that message is intensely personal and therefore unique. If a piece of art “speaks to you” in some way, it will give you a jolt of delight every time you look at it or touch it. Original art should always start a conversation whether it is with yourself or someone else; conversations teach you things and enrich your life. Artists are compelled to produce art; buying original art produced in your community supports local artists and by extension the local economy.”

We have several favourites of Jane’s at Blue Belldon Farm, all originals, because that’s all Jane does – including even her beautiful cards!

I LOVE the way the sun streams through the trees in that first one, which is framed on our living room bookshelves (you may have to click on each to blow them up to see all detail).  And the last one looks very much like our huge vegetable garden, with its mix of flowers in it to attract pollen-spreaders!


Blue Bell mtn 3

But the one which I think looks the most like a scene from Blue Belldon Farm (which is on Jane’s website: ) is this one:


I can just imagine standing at the side of the barn looking out to the back fields.  Love it!

One of my favourite quotes from Jane reminds me very much of this farm, too:

 “The use of colour and texture to express my awe and wonder at the beauty around me  fills me with great joy. Spending time on the shores of Lake Huron and following my grandfather around as a child as he cared lovingly for his animals, orchard and gardens instilled in me a profound respect for the order, beauty, cruelty and power of the natural world and those that inhabit it. “

Here are some more of Jane’s landscapes that illustrate the above:


Jane even painted an original coaster for each person who attended their eldest son’s (my god-son) wedding a few years ago.  Although I couldn’t make the wedding in Hawaii, Jane was good enough to give me this souvenir, which also sits on our bookshelves. A really original idea, if any of you have some artistic talent and a family wedding coming up~!




I find it amusing that the ‘yellow room’, upstairs in Mom’s suite, (where we think poor Ida had all 5 of her children who were the first ones born here) holds one of my worst-ever paintings (circa Grade 9, playing  abstract with acrylics)  on the wall, but right across from it is a gorgeous watercolour still life of Jane’s!


The Wrights helped us very much all three years of the running the Carlisle Country Craft and Old-fashioned Market Mercantile, not just because they are supportive of friends, but because they both love to promote the local arts as much as possible.  Here’s a candid shot I love by Yvonne Parsons Photography (Artist in the Attic #1) of Mom, in pioneer costume courtesy of Joan Eagle,  and Jane wearing one of Mom’s woven shawls:

jane and joy2

As an extension of Jane’s connection with the CCC&OMM show, I also asked her to offer her cards in our Rural Creators’ Collective shop in Carlisle.  Here are a few of the displays I made with these ALL ECO-FRIENDLY, RURAL-CELEBRATORY artisans.



Jane’s card is directly above in the bottom left, with other cards by photographer Yvonne Parsons, and lino-cut artist L’immaginaria’ Lisa Martini-Dunk as well as native works by Roni Walker of Metis Caravan, a rag plate mat by Ragged Revivals, an artisan original doll by Teena Mucicko Surma’s The Fanciful Doll and a few of my own, Rustic Revivals’ pieces as well.

Here is a close-up of a different display I loved in the shop:


In the above, Jane’s stunning sunset card is in the crate, and is surrounded by a quilt and business-card holders by Miriam Bauman’s MiniMade, intaglio and lino-cut prints by the above-named L’immaginaria, a framed crocheted doilie by Roni Walker’s Rumpel’s Wheel, a chickadee watercolour by Marla, a recycled map by Dillies Dahlias, and a few items in the forefront, as well as a rag doll on top of the crate by my own Rustic Revivals.  I loved having Jane’s cards in our shop, and they are unique as, as I mentioned previously, each one is a unique original.  You can still purchase one of Jane’s originals by contacting her through her website:

In the same yellow room in Mom’s upstairs suite is also a small framed card by another watercolour artist and friend of the family, Marg Patterson, from Tillsonburg, whom I’ll be featuring in another Artist in the Attic posting down the road.   She also does LOVELY work, and donates her proceeds to the Alzheimers Society! Mom has this one normally on the window ledge in that room, actually facing out to our own Birch Grove.

And thus you have it – the Blue Belldon crowd LOVE their art-work. Other than these artists we consider family, our walls our also ‘littered’ with art-work from our travels around the world, with representations of some of the places we’ve loved best. Mom has carvings from Africa and Slovenia, I have paintings of my log cabin and stone cottage from Montana and Scotland, there are many water colours of the Bronte’s West Yorkshire, where Richard and I both have many happy memories, and I have several antique ‘horse’ prints as well as two large ones of James Lumbers’- one from his ghostly series, “City Limits” (a rural piece with the skyscrapers, so sadly but truly,  invading in the far distance)


and another of his – a native girl studying from a text book, which will always remind me of my time teaching on the rez.  He’s a Canadian, as is of course the nature-realist Robert Bateman, with whom my grandmother taught for a time in Burlington, Ontario. We have a few of his smaller prints on the wall downstairs, and Mom has a large one of his kingfisher (bought for Grandma, originally) above her couch upstairs.


As well as the above kingfisher of Bateman’s, Mom has quite a few of her own mother’s china-painting hanging on her walls.  Grandma was another family artist that had great talent in all subject matter, but especially enjoyed doing florals.  One of my favourites, however, is the platter, hanging above Mom’s ‘stove’, that depicts the Hawkins family farm, where her mother went as a young bride.


Yup, we ruralites sure appreciate our artists, and the memories their works evoke in us!  I hope you have the same throughout your own home, and that you’re not, as Jane suggests above, buying ‘pleasing, inexpensive, mass-produced’  Ikea or Wal-mart ka-ka (you’ll note Jane’s quote stopped before this last bit).

If you fill your home with art that ‘speaks to you’, it will, as Jane says:

         give you a jolt of delight every time you look at it or touch it

And Amen to THAT!



Blue Belldon’s “Wrangler”


artist in attic painting

Having personally hand-picked and invited  over 100 artists to take part in both the annual Carlisle Country Craft and Old-fashioned Market Mercantile as well as the Rural Creators’ Collective (the 1st and premiere Artists in the Attic!) I feel as though I want to keep up the momentum of promoting others who have a passion for the rural traditions and spirit of our ancestors as I do…


update on Friday the 13th of May.  Special DAY today for our Animal Wrangler – Kat turns 25!  Happy Trails!  Here’s Kat with one final animal we haven’t shown her holding yet!


kat, donkey


Katherine Kociolek, or “Kat” is a former riding student of mine who is a wonder with all animals and a great folk artist as well.  For three years in a row, she helped run the Carlisle Country Craft and Old-fashioned Market Mercantile with me, (where most of the above photos were taken, including the one with our old lab, Clark)  while attending Sheridan College’s Animal Care program. She is a fabulous natural rider of both English and Western disciplines and for several years now has been working as a trail guide at Claireville Ranch in Brampton, Ontario, as well as at Heart Lake Veterinary Hospital.  She has agreed to be our official “Animal Wrangler”, as I don’t know anyone better!  Below are some of her great folk pieces, sold under the Young Artist Program by my Rustic Revivals.

Artist in the Attic, #1-ladies read to end, there’s a special treat there for y’all!

artist in attic painting

Having personally hand-picked and invited  over 100 artists to take part in both the annual Carlisle Country Craft and Old-fashioned Market Mercantile as well as the Rural Creators’ Collective (the 1st and premiere Artists in the Attic!) I feel as though I want to keep up the momentum of promoting others who have a passion for the rural traditions and spirit of our ancestors as I do…


Today I am blogging about Carlisle, Ontario’s own Yvonne Parsons, as she was one of the first artists on site at the festival (offering not only her own nature works, area barns, churches, etc. and pet portraits) but also took and developed sepia shots of good folk in their pioneer or steampunk dress. Several of these photos are already in this blog, in various collections of images of Richard, Joy or myself.  Here are some more just delightful ones of Ontario families enjoying the rural pioneer offerings; just click on each to expand it. (P.S., the pig’s name is Kevin Bacon, and is part of the wonderful  Auburn Acres- a multi-generational farm family who live self-sufficiently. See their fabulous website! ) :

Yvonne also assisted in running the shop upstairs, and took part in several portrait sittings for holidays such as Valentines (in conjunction with my own rustic and shabby chic wedding planning) and Easter/Christmas. Here is a sample of each of these type of portraits:

A few funny stories about the above sessions. In the bridal/boudoir shots for Valentines, Yvonne was startled when an elderly woman of nearing 70 (not pictured – that’s our friend Linda Simone!) had several shots done in a tight dress for her husband, then stripped that off to reveal lingerie that left NOTHING to the imagination. Pretty sure the panties were even of the sugary edible type.  Professional that she is, Yvonne kept a straight face and snapped away as per the customer’s request.  With the Easter shots, I think we both spent more time looking for the bunny behind the straw bales because the children had come near to squeezing the life out of the poor thing and it kept leaping away! Also, one little girl whose hair had been primped and curled to within an inch of her BEST behaviour evaporating,  was holding a giant lollipop for the shot – and promptly got it stuck in her tendrils.  Believe the mother had to actually cut a chunk out so that Yvonne could continue shooting… Awwww, what artists have gone through throughout the centuries to achieve their art!

Yvonne’s links to view her photos are on FB:

selling online, on Etsy, as many of us do:

and of course, her own lovely website:

Some samples of rural work I admire are here:

Yvonne is originally from the Maritimes, as in fact are many of the artists I will be featuring in this blog.  So those of you living locally out here in the east will recognize some of her scenes such as this:


Yvonne and her husband Todd also own a lovely farm, and have recently gotten heavily into animal husbandry.  It’s a lovely rural place on one of the few big hills in that part of Southern Ontario, and the other day this AMAZING photo of their farm was posted on Facebook… gorgeous shot, one every photographer strives to get once in a lifetime.  IRONICALLY, IT WAS TODD WHO SNAPPED IT!  Ahhhh, such is life! My mother, Joy, once took a similar shot in Slovenia – she NAILED it! And she’s the one who used to swing the camera off her glasses’ lenses and end up cutting the subject right out of the shot!


Lastly, as I’m trying to gain more followers, and many will likely be women (come on, the only posts you  men will be looking at are Pippi’s Fishin’ Hole Fables and Facts, and an occasional Rural Update on the state of rising cost of farm insurance…) I’m posting this stunning one of Yvonne’s… a model posing for one of her courses.  Still, in his plaid shirt he could pass for a rural lad, right? y5