Saturday, September 27, 2008

National Alpaca Farm Day

And finally...National Alpaca Farm Day.

I almost didn't go to a farm this year. It is sort of neat to check them out last year; but I had spent plenty of time at both the Heritage Festival and Outdoor Quiltshow. However, I decided to check out one farm on my way home and I was SO glad I did.

The farm is Jo's Fleece Fields in Carnation (Lake Joy community). It is well worth a visit even not on National Alpaca Farm Day. There is a great variety of animals in a very welcoming setup and the hosts were all totally fantastic.

This farm isn't just about Alpacas. It is about Alpacas and several other animals including llamas, goats, and hens.

In one area there are about 4 llamas with the herd of Alpacas. Llamas average around 500 pounds and Alpacas around 150. Alpacas are probably considerably cuter; but a little lacking in the personality department.

The llamas live happily with their Alpaca herd serving as the herd watch dogs. They warn the Alpacas of danger; even getting between the Alpacas and the danger or getting them back up to the barn. These two were particularly social and came right up to us. They would lean on the visitors and follow them around for attention.

These two males were separated out for a couple of reasons. One, since the Alpacas will never come up to the fence to see us like the llamas will; it gave us a chance to get really close to one. But these two were also used for fleece comparison. The darker one was worth considerable more and when you touched him his fleece was extremely dense compared to the other male.

Baby chicks were everywhere! All you could hear was the peeping as the moms moved them around to keep them away from the visitors.

Hens in the hen house.

There was also a goat area and they were generally social and curious as well.

This was the only time that this one withdrew his head and body from the hay station.

This one ran up to me first.

And finally pea-mom and pea-baby. Apparently pea-dad was somewhere in the area. Like good peacocks they live on the roof of the house at night.

I want a farm. :)

Duvall Heritage Festival

So after the Duvall Outdoor Quilt Show it was on to the next Duvall event: Duvall Heritage Festival.

This is a very small scale event centered around the Dougherty Farmstead. There was some music, hat making, and several "household" demonstrations such as shucking corn, washing clothing, churning butter, yarn spinning and apple cider pressing.

There was a lady trying to work a field with two mules (I think - I mix up mules and donkeys sometimes). I would going to describe them as stubborn but I think that is pretty much a given. Apparently she wasn't their normal driver so they were exceptionally uncooperative. It did make them very easy to photograph however.

The Dougherty historic house really was neat. It apparently served as a post office and Catholic Church in addition to a residence.

In one of the upstairs rooms there were about 8 older quilts on one bed. The lady would tell the history on one and then turn it back to move on to the next one. Most of the quilts seemed to have been made by a relative of hers (frequently her great grandmother).

One room had something known as a linoleum carpet. I actually really liked it. Apparently it was something you could order in the Sears catalog.

Annual Duvall Outdoor Quilt Show

A cute owl quilt featured at the Duvall's Outdoor Quilt Show.

Thankfully the weather cooperated. The above quilt is a collection of quilt blocks from a Western Washington Quilt Shop Hop (I am not sure from which year - maybe last year?).

The Quilter's Garden in Duvall hosts the annual event. It is such a pretty event to see the quilts hanging on the shops off of Main Street.

Friday, September 26, 2008

“Underground Railroad Quilts” lecture

I attended an amazing lecture last night in Duvall. This was the first lecture in the Duvall Cultural Commission fall lecture series. Ted Hutchinson was our speaker or perhaps more accurately our "griot" (he described griot as an African word for the town storyteller and keeper of the oral tradition). Using a seemingly effortless combination of storytelling and song I learned the symbolism behind several very familiar block patterns as communication tools during the American history of slavery.

Initially in the lecture I was irritated not to have a working pen. I quickly realized that this wasn't a lecture to take notes in however. This was a lecture to absorb.

Hutchinson had three sampler quilts that have been made for him from various churches or people inspired by his presentation. The quilt in the photo immediately above was made for him in one week after hearing his story. Note this block from the sampler quilt that helps explain each block as a communication tool:

Even that above key doesn't really capture the full explaination; including down to the use of the dominant color in some of the blocks to convey meaning.

As the story goes; these quilts were made by slaves for their masters. Specific quilts were hung out by the house slaves for airing depending on what needed to be communicated to the other slaves.

It is too bad that when they teach in school about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad they don't include the stories of these quilts. Or about how Harriet Tubman had narcolepsy due to a particularly bad beating when she was younger; causing her on occasion to drop at potentially unfortunate times while she was trying to lead others to freedom.

While I can post these quilt photos and talk about the stories of the blocks as Hutchinson told them to me; the part I can't capture very well is all the other tangents of American history that were being rapidly exchanged during this lecture.

One of the stories I was able to remember and look up when I got home was regarding Ebo Landing.

There was another story regarding a demonstration against building on a fairly large burial site. Since I can't hope to remember that story correctly; this is a great article regarding cemetery style and land use ownership confusion in the Charleston area.

Ted Hutchinson is 78 years old. He is American born and grew up in Harlem. It wasn't until his wife needed an idea for a Master's project while they were living in Spokane that he started immersing himself in this amazing history.

Myself and maybe a couple other attendees were probably the only handful that had not been through at a minimum either WWII, the Vietnam War, and possibly most importantly the Civil Rights movement of the 60s.

I was somewhat surprised when the Civil Rights movement came up; only it so easily blended in it was sort of amazing. The subject came up regarding how traditional (and often religious) songs that were altered for the 60s purposes. In about a 2 - 3 minute discussion I got an insight into that time period that I am not sure I have ever felt or understood despite the movies I have seen and the history I have read.

Ted Hutchinson said if you have a story to tell be sure to do it before you die. And he certainly has a story.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Rare photo of the three cats together

I haven't posted in a long time and probably should get some projects back up here; but today was a rare time when all three cats were "hanging" together. My guess is that elder kitty was there first and the other two crowded in.

The quilting doberman is well into heart disease now (DCM). If I was more organized I would do regular blogging to document decisions, incidents, disease progress in him and treatment.

He is a 7 year old doberman. He showed the first questionable symptom in September 2007). He was diagnosed definitively in June 2008.

There is a lot of information on the Internet regarding this disease in dobermans; but not a lot on the day to day progression of living with it; so maybe I will work on that.