Virginia Homesteading by Patty Ramsey

Knitting the Socks, Complete and Updated


A Few Notes 06-01-04

A Few Notes 02-11-04

"When You Thought I Wasn't Looking" 01-28-04

The Great Truths of Life 01-17-04

The Season of Color  11-06-03

Andy Rooney says...

Amazing Color 09-17-03

Springtime 04-17-03



I have an interesting thing to share with everyone. Last week when I was going into work on Saturday, I drove past a field that usually has cows in it. This morning I saw about a dozen hen turkeys and the Tom was there with his tail all fanned out and he was just strutting his stuff! I stopped to watch until I could tell they were getting spooked and I went on to work. I have never seen that in "real life." I have seen pictures of the Tom's all puffed up and always thought it looked so fake but they really look that way! It was such a joy to start the day that way. I made a point to go home the same way figuring there was no way that they would still be there 8 hours later but guess what? They were in the same field but had moved back closer to the woods. The Tom was still there but he wasn't strutting at that time. He still had about a dozen admiring hens around. We are blessed with a very healthy population of wild turkey. I hear them in the trees at night and occasionally one will come soaring down our hillside towards the river. I hope everyone is enjoying the warming weather and I will write again soon.





Hope everyone is enjoying a taste of spring (finally!) We still need our fire at night but seeing the bright blue sky and feeling the warmth of the that sun sure does a body good.



On a weather note, we are flooded out right now. We had an ice/snow storm last week and now torrential rains and the river is rising. Luckily we are WAY above that 300 year flood plain!  Stay dry and think Spring!


We are still in the midst of winter here in central Virginia. We had a snowstorm last Thursday night and another one Sunday night. It is all about melted now ( Tues.) but it is cold. Mike and I will be cutting more wood for the stoves later this week, for sure. We met a very nice couple today. They came by the shop to pick up their banjo. They live not far from here so it was nice to meet them and maybe see them in the future playing some tunes. Music is such a magnet for making friends. And old time music is fun because it is good "roots" music and not many folks are playing it these days.  Finding other fans of old time music in our own area is an exciting thing since it has been almost 8 years since we've moved here and we don't know many people who play it.



  I looked out over the valley today and could that be a hint of red I see at the tips of the maples?  And the sycamore trees have a slight hint of yellow to the twigs of their branches. It was a pleasantly warm day today, highs in the 50's, and the birds were singing like it was spring. We aren't through with winter yet by a long shot. We had a late freeze last year in May and it ruined my fruit harvest. I don't wish for a repeat.

 All else around here is well. We had a fun night at church last night (Sunday).  We try to have a pot luck and fun night once a month and last night we played some non-competitive games. It was a lot of fun for young and old. Of course, there was way too much food! I didn't overeat, though. I'm trying to lose a few more pounds and I am at a point where I may have to do something I don't like.  My husband and I lost quite a bit over last year by just changing our shopping habits. I refuse to resort to torturous calisthenics! Keeping sheep, goats, llama and pigs fed and watered and the wood pile full is enough exercise for me!



Patty's prayer request



I have been working on some socks. I usually have several projects going at once so if you are wondering about my weaving, well I'll get back to it later! Knitting is easier when you want to sit in the living room near the fire. My loom is upstairs in my bedroom so I usually work up there when I get an afternoon to spend. The socks I'm working on are being knit from some yarn that I dyed in a workshop last year. The colors all came from mushrooms. If anyone is interested in the process, find the book, "Mushrooms For Color" by Miriam Rice at your library or bookstore. The colors I have to work with are all those colors that were popular in the '70's: shades of gold, orange, tans, avocado - all those earth-tones.  I have one sock finished and am starting on the mate. If I can figure out how to send a photo, I will send one so you can see the colors. They all go so well together.

I had to carry mail today (Monday).  The carrier that usually works wasn't feeling well. The day was clear, brisk and cold but I enjoy my job. Riding around with the window down in January can be a little crazy but I have the heat on high and I love the fresh air! I would take a million days like today in my Blazer than one scorcher in the summer heat!  (I refrain from running the air conditioning because I'm afraid I'll overheat the engine and I'm cheap.)  The hawks are always plentiful and today was no exception. I saw a broad-winged and a marsh hawk.  I also answered a question for myself that Mike and I pondered on in the past. No, a buzzard will NOT eat a dead buzzard! I saw one that was road kill and not a single live bird was anywhere near it but just down the road a skunk pancake will have several sitting around it!

The pigs insist on turning over their water everyday. I guess it keeps it from freezing. I have to retrieve the tub and put more water in it every afternoon and they slurp and gulp like it's a desert!  They are getting huge. We are making room in one freezer for the beef we need to pick up from the butcher and I am not sure what we are going to do with all this pork. I hope the neighbor decides to take some. One hog is not going in our freezer but that still leaves us with two. We are going to skip the meat raising for one year. We have 2 freezers full now so we need to eat some of it.
I better go check the fire in the stove. It feels cool in here. We are due for a slight warm up and I am looking forward to spring. We don't have a garden planned yet but that always seem to be a last minute thing anyway. Still too soon to think about. We will be cutting wood for a few more weeks.





 Meet Patty & her family

First, I'll introduce myself. My name is Patty Ramsey and I live in Appomattox County, Virginia.  My husband, Mike and I build banjos for a living and  I am a rural carrier substitute. That means I carry the mail on Saturdays. 

We have 2 daughters, our oldest, Sarah is 20 yrs. old and out on her own. She lives in Lynchburg and goes to the community college there at nights and manages a Zip Ship store full time. Her days are full. Our youngest daughter, Rachael, is a sophomore in high school. 

We have 23 acres of hillside that drops to the Appomattox River. I raise sheep, goats, chickens, we have 3 pigs at the moment and I have one llama.  My hobbies include knitting, spinning, weaving, dyeing - natural and chemical, and we love camping and travel and of course, old time music!


Measuring Warp for a few Rag Rugs

Right now I am in the process of measuring warp for a few rag rugs. I have a collection of old sheets and I need the drawer space so it's time to use them for something! I have a 4 harness loom so I will warp it in one of the twill sequences. I had a straight twill warp on it the last time. This is simple one thread in each harness, 1-2-3-4 and repeat, 1-2-3-4-1-2-3-4 etc. I reversed this sequence in the center so that the "slant" that occurs when you weave in a standard twill reversed itself there. Weaving twill involves the weft going over and under two threads at a time so each time I treadle, I am raising 2 harnesses. The twill treadling sequence would be 1+2, 2+3, 3+4, 4+1, repeat.  This time I am going to warp the loom in a rose path or herringbone pattern. The warp sequence will be 1-2-3-4-3-2-1-2-3-4-3-2, repeat. I think if you have followed me this far you get a vague idea what this will look like when woven. /\/\/\/\  By altering the treadling after a certain number of rows are completed.

I hope to keep you entertained with the activities in our homestead. My daughter Rachael has taken up playing the cello and Mike is working some duets up for them to play. He plays violin. I listen!  I can play along with old time music on the guitar if they stay in a key I know. But it's been relaxing listening to the two of them work out some pieces for church.  Let me know if there are any questions in particular you would like me to answer. I am looking forward to chatting with all of you.



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