Monday, November 20, 2017

Jolene, our FrankenChicken.

Literally just after I post about keeping it real, we have some new mishaps on the farm.  I am going to start a new series each week with one interesting or funny happening (or mishap) on the farm. So, without further ado, we present....

(Oh, also, squeemish alert for below, I am gonna show a chicken head wound.)

Friday, after getting home from work, I went to close up the chicken coop doors and just happened upon one of the girls with quite an alarming head wound. (I usually just close the doors and say goodnight...luckily one of the chickens was being a little shit and I had to look into the coop more inventively.)

 Heads up, its not a very pretty sight below.  Not sure if she got her head stuck in something or what quite happened, but needless to say, she had to come inside for some medical attention.

First, I took a quick photo to send to Ric while at work. When I told him Jolene was hurt, he (I think), thought I was going to show a little pecking form the roosters.  (Let's just say that sometimes my alarm levels are very similar for minor things as it is for major things...oops!)

Sorry, it is gross.  But boy oh boy, that has got to smart!

She was in surprisingly high spirits and, after cleaning the wound a bit and spraying on some good ol' Blu Kote (which anyone should keep on hand. It is indispensable!), she ate and drank and seemed to enjoy getting to hang out in the bathroom.

Post Blu Kote and cozy home for the night.

Saturday she continued to relax in the makeshift home in the bathroom, eating and drinking like it was no big deal.  After work I came home and cleaned the wound again.

Don't mind the messy bathroom....

She was a good little patient and after a little more Blu Kote she settled in for the night.

We doubt that she will grow feathers there again, but if we can keep it clean and free from infection, she can join the others soon.  In the meantime, she has taken up residence in the area where the rabbits are housed, happily cleaning up food they have dropped and doing quite well.

We will keep you updated on her condition.  For the time being, little Jolene has a new nickname of our FrankenChicken. (Or I guess technically it should be Fiberton's Monster?)


PS - Ric and I are arguing over this... should she get a hat or a wig? Thoughts?

Friday, November 17, 2017

Look, I think we need to get real.

You have probably noticed a distinct lack of blogging as of late.  In fact, this past year has been beyond crazy, and I will be the first to say it has been kind of a lot to deal with.  When talking with Ric about everything we do and want to do, and my disappointment in getting behind with blogging, and all our business activities, I brought up the fact that I may have been behind because it has been a hard year (or maybe a little more than a year...) and I haven't wanted to bring people down.

But then Ric hit me with some truth. It's hard.  

It's not easy, but we are still extremely lucky and we won't give up on our goals.

And that is when I realized that it is important to put our real voice out into the world.  (AKA - It's time to get real.) Life can be hard and farming and making the life we want is hard.  It is scary from time to time, disappointing, and sometimes the fact that I am not where I want to be in being totally invested in the farm can be utterly depressing. And why not tell it like it is?  Because sometimes it sucks, and the lemons make shitty lemonade. BUT, I know what I am working towards and how extremely rewarding working on the slow food movement (hey Wikipedia, what's that?) and the slow fashion movement (and Wikipedia, explain that one, too) and becoming more self sustainable in every way truly is.

So here is my new vow to you. 

I PROMISE to tell it like it is.  No rose colored glasses (even Ric's literal rose colored glasses) when things are actually kinda crappy. This is tough for me, but I also think it is very important to because of 3 simple reasons:

1) You should know who we are.  I mean, this is me, and why not put it out there?  I cuss (but I will try and refrain from too bad of language, and our podcast and YouTube channels will remain family friendly, even if that means a bleep from time to time...) I am fascinated by the macabre.   I am happiest when I am creating something or playing with my animals. And I want, with every part of me, to make my farm a success so I can do it full time.

2) You should know the rewarding and romantic side of farming, as well as the shitty sides.  For example, my little lambs are growing up and doing great right now.  However, this year we had to have the vet out more times than ever.  Over $1k later, I have sheep that are still snot nosed, as you can see in the pic at the top. (Did you know sheep get allergies, too?  But it is also how they present for all kinds of other diseases, so that thermometer has seen the insides of rectums more than daylight this year...) and we lost Adrian, our breeding ewe, due to her accidentally eating something she then choked on. It sucked, and I almost threw in the towel.  Luckily Ric knows how much this whole crazy endeavor means to me, and he gave me that little figurative slap-on-the-face to snap me out of it. (I mean, we did take them across the country and back...who does that except for someone who has gone crazy-person-all-in.)

3) And finally, sometimes I need to vent. And I bet you do, too.  So I want this to be that place where you can see what might be happening, as well as feel safe to ask questions or vent about life (whether farm related or not), cuz look. We are all in this crazy world together.  Life is nuts.  If we share our lives with each other, I think there would be much more understanding in this world. At least I'd like to hope so. Or maybe not, but we will feel a little better. So no harm, no fowl, right?

TLDR version: Hey, I am a crazy person who wants more than anything to share my REAL life on the farm and REAL goals and dreams, and I want you to, too. out...we are going to keep it real peeps.


Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Knitting, Explosions and a Special Guest! AKA - New Podcast Episode!

Hey lovely peeps!

It has been a busy couple of weeks, but we are excited to share a new podcast episode...this week with explosions AND a special guest!

Click here to go directly to Soundcloud to listen, or head over to your favorite podcast player like iTunes or Stitcher! (And don't forget to rate and review if you do so others can find us!)

We talk a bunch about knitting, and I refer a ton to these articles by Sheep and Stitch:

Thanks to Sheep and Stitch for the great articles!  Head over to see some of the photos and paintings we refer to in the episode!

And local chicken farm, Dare 2 Dream!  Check them out more here!

And of course, thanks to All the Apparatus for the intro and outro music!

Thanks so much to everyone who listens! We <3 you!

- Ric and Ash

Friday, August 18, 2017

We are back!

Ok...ok...we know we have been completely MIA for too long. And there is much to tell.  But the short story is that we have landed back in our old home of San Miguel, CA in the Central Coast region of Cali!!  And we are finally getting all settled in.  We came back to a whirlwind of activity, some wonderful, some sad, all of which has been a lot of hard work.

We were welcomed home with arms wide open, tons of wonderful support. We put the sheep out in their old pasture, this time with the addition of little Champ and Mickey.

We said a very sad goodbye to JB the Wonderdog, whom Ric and I had for almost 16 years.  He lived a long and happy life, traveled more than many people get to (making it across the country twice) and was laid to rest with some old friend's here at the ranch.  Rest in peace, buddy.

We have been reconnecting with old friends, working hard at our jobs and, of course, keeping Fiberton Acres going.  I am quite pleased with the progress we have made in the short 3 months we have been home.

We won't continue to regale you of it all now, but know that we shared some through our podcasts (find those here on Soundcloud or on your fav podcast player!) and we have begun work on our Fiberton Acres book!  It will be a mix of stories, homesteading advice, recipes, patterns and more!

And just a reminder to follow us on social media, like Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, and to check out new additions to the online store!

Thanks so much to everyone for the support!  We are so excited for the things the future brings!

- Ash and Ric

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Podcast Episode 15 - Big News on the Farm!

Hey folks!  Sorry it has been so long since we have shared a podcast episode with you all!  A LOT has been happening with Fiberton Acres.  We thought what better way to let you know what is happening than to tell you in a new podcast episode!

The spoiler...we are moving!  To learn all the details, click here to listen on Soundcloud or listen on your podcast play of choice!

A few of the other things we reference in this week's podcast:

Our Instagram (to see Ric dancing while tilling)

Our Patreon Page! (To get exclusives on our travels and more!)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Life is All About Trial and Error...And it's all about perspective.

I have to say trial and error is, for me, the best way to learn anything. When I started Kung Fu class I sucked. I fell every time I tried a high kick, I missed every take-down, and I couldn’t land a joint lock to save my life…literally. One night after class I was sitting in my car thinking about quitting to save myself the embarrassment of constant failure, when my instructor, Brian, knocked on the window and I opened the door while trying to not look depressed.

“Dude, you have great perseverance. Kung Fu is hard and the only way to know a technique is to find every way that it doesn’t work.” he said. “When you succeed the first time at a technique you only understand how you did it that time, in that situation. If you find every way that it doesn’t work, you are left with only the good.”

That night is when I changed my perspective on failure.

I no longer fail at anything. I successfully find ways that a technique does not work. When my RV wouldn’t start after parking at a gas station in Wyoming, I checked the batteries, they worked. I checked the wires leading to the ignition, they seemed funny and something looked loose, so I attached it to an open spot on the ignition and it almost instantly melted. I honestly thought about giving up…. We’d already replaced the radiator and the sending unit for the temp gauge. But then I thought about how I had eliminated a possible problem.  It wasn’t that loose wire… you know, because of the fire and all.

I called my dad and we walked through the entire ignition situation over the phone, tracing wires and even replacing and MacGyvering a few connections until we got it working. Ashley and I drove off the next morning, not having failed to leave the gas station in under 24 hours but having learned how to rewire the ignition system of a 1986 Winnie.

Every time you lose and fail remember that you learned. If you give up you don’t learn.

Brian encouraged me to take Tai Chi, hip hop dance, and even take up parkour to improve my Kung Fu, and it all helped. I also met some of my great friends because of these side projects. If I had given up that night in my car I wouldn’t have met some of the greatest people in my life. People who see not roadblocks but parkour obstacles to be vaulted over and mastered. 

I want you to remember that you become a master of life only after finding every way that your life doesn't work for you, because all that’s left is the good life.

If you are moving to becoming the you that you want to be, you are a blackbelt at life.


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Friday, March 3, 2017

Podcast Episode 12 - A LITTLE Episode...about Shetland Animals

This week we dive into not just one animal, but all of the little animals from the Shetland Islands. We learn more about these sturdy little animals and why we want to collect them all!

I went a little crazy on the page markers....

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Podcast Episode 11 - A Brief History of the Farmer's Almanac!

This week we wanted to talk a little about how farmer's might get ready for the planting season, which morphed into a show about the Farmer's Almanac.  Check out some of the history and our ramblings about the Jackyl song, The Lumberjack at SoundCloud here (or on iTunes, Stitcher or wherever you find your pods!)

Friday, February 10, 2017

5 Small Things to Start Today...Cuz life is hard, but the only way we fail is to not try.

You'll get strange looks of obvious disapproval and disbelief. Telling people your goals and dreams may seem scary at first but it is how you make it a reality. When we decided to leave our day jobs and risk everything to start a small farm in another state, we heard more than our share of “Why?” and “Can you make any money doing that?” And the best responses we have are usually, “Because it makes me happy.” and “Maybe not.” That first answer is the most important.

The world is not against you, the world simply is. You can make your world, make your farm, write your book, choose your friends, record your album. If you have to be a barista, get a retail job or rely on the kindness of strangers and friends to get it done then do it.

When we moved across the country so I could attend school (taking our farm with us) we got even stranger looks than the first time. It was the roughest trip we could have imagined. We broke down for a week and ran out of money, all while driving directly away from everyone we’d ever known. But we knew we could survive, and you can too.

Life sure does throw some curveballs.
This isn’t about how hard we had or have it, this is about you. This is about you doing it. What do you want to do? How can we help you do it?

Time is a limited resource, I know it sucks to think about, but you have only so much time to be happy and every second spent not being happy is a second lost to the winds. If you fear the possible failure, let me tell you something.

Not trying is failure.
I’m not saying to drop everything and do whatever you want, I’m saying we are entitled to the pursuit of happiness, and we need to chase it. You can pursue happiness relentlessly -be that cop who gets suspended from a case for “Being too close” and keeps searching for the facts until he brings down that suspect. You are that cop searching for your happiness.

Making the best of an inconvenient and stressful situation.
Honestly though, here is a short list of things you can do to pursue your thing. Because as George Watsky says “It’s gotta be somebody. So why not you?”

We started ours last year, we have over 200 plays already and it makes us feel good every time someone listens. I takes us about 5 hours a week to do, and we record on the mic built in to Ashley’s computer. If you have questions, we'd love to help you get started.

Write something.
Write a blog, write a short story to share with your friends, write a poem. I write every time I need to create something. I’m writing a book of poems, a fantasy book, a blog post, and a romance book if i ever get past the opening line. Maybe someone other than Ashley will read one of these, maybe nobody will, but I made them and that makes me proud.

Farm/Plant Something.
Plant some things and watch them grow, care for them and if you have excess share with others and enjoy the bounty of a harvest like man has been doing for generations. Food is at the core of humanity.

As cheesy as it sounds, sing. I can’t hold a note or carry a tune, but I sing. Try it out, miss all the notes and give it your all.

Above all of this, practice compassion and love.
It’s hard to be kind and compassionate toward those you see as opposing you, but just remember the concepts of John Green in a speech written for an ALAN Conference, He tells us to imagine others complexly. No person is entirely what you think they are, you can’t fully understand your own thought processes let alone those of another. I try to assume the best in others as much as I can, and I’ll be the first to admit it is the hardest thing I have ever done (And I’ve moved an entire a farm across the country in a broken down Winnebago.)
In closing. You have time to express yourself and pursue your happiness, in fact the only thing you don’t have time for is to not.

- Ric

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Hippity to the Hoppity (AKA our angora rabbit podcast episode)

In this week's episode, we talk about something we actually have some experience with!  Angora bunny-heads!  You can listen directly here at Soundcloud, or through iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you find your podcasts!  (Don't forget to totally help us out by rating, reviewing, etc, as that helps more people find us!

(We go hard.)

Some of the things we reference this week...

And this awesome cookbook...see Ric, you can totally find it online...

(My new is going to make us fat. Don't care.)

Friday, January 20, 2017

This week's podcast...Coyotes!

It is that time of the week again!  We just released our newest podcast episode (can you believe we are already at Episode 8?!) and this week we talk coyotes. Ric may have been a little confused on the subject matter, but as we have had some coyotes close by on the farm as of late, I wanted to learn more about them.  They say the key to assuaging fear is to learn more about it. But not 100% sure that worked in this case.

While we were recording, my cat shared her take on it all with some serious body language....

And a few other references we made in the episode....

Our New Kit!

Our Patreon Page!

Our Email List!

Our Friends' New Podcast (and previous intro and outro music musician)!

And All the Apparatus, our new intro and outro music!

Thanks for listening all!  Let us know what subject you want in an upcoming episode by commenting below or at!

- Ric and Ash

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Hearts Handwarmer Knitting Pattern

Hey Folks!  We are super stoked about two things.  First, we are finally back to offering some new yarn crafting patterns with today's "Hearts Hand Warmers"!  And secondly, this also marks our first in crafting kits we will be offering in our Etsy Shop!

For being our loyal follower, we would love to offer you the pattern for free here.  (Speaking of, don't miss future patterns and updates by signing up here for our little newsletter!)

For our new kits, we will be offering quality and eco-friendly materials with our patterns in fun, reusable packaging whenever possible. In this kit, the first of its kind, we will give you just the right amount of our hand spun wool which we dyed (using non-toxic food grade dyes) in fun bright colors, as well as the warming pouches made from organic cotton fabric and filled with organic flax seed.  This is a fast and easy gift for your beau on Valentine's Day or a special little gift for yourself!

You can find one of our kits here!  We have several different color combos, so make sure to peek around!

This is just the start of our kits, so if you are not a knitter, don't worry, we will have some other yarncrafting kits for you all soon!


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

What Farmers Want You to Know and What They Need to Hear

Damn...sometimes this farming thing is hard. Okay, actually, most of the time it is. Today was one of those days where I had to keep reminding myself that it is worth the pain, the tears of frustration, the extra expenses and time. Oh so much time.

Ric working on the fence that this guy keeps escaping from.

As I looked out the window to see Rocky, my Shetland sheep ram, hanging out in the yard...the part of the yard that is not fenced, I mumbled under my breath something slightly colorful. The 3rd time today that I saw him doing the same, it was less quiet and a bit more colorful. And after the 6th time, I looked at my phone to realize that a day planned for other endeavors was basically gone. The light was waning. And out of desperation I touched the electric fence to see if it was even working. It was.

Damn it is cold in these here parts.

This post is to illustrate something specific for two different groups of people.

For those that have never had to bundle up in 20 degree weather to walk a fence to find out where the weakness is, those that have never really worried that the hay you just bought is full of crap and can’t be fed to your animals, those that have never lost their entire crop of tomatoes to disease, or lost one of their animals, I wanted to paint a picture of the struggles that the small farmer goes through on a day to day basis. It is just a reminder that when you buy that piece of pizza, that salad, or that knit sweater, of the things that could (and should) have gone into making them for you. I know you know, but sometimes we take things for granted. Not all the time, but sometimes we wonder why that farmer is charging a bit more for that organic carrot, or why that hand spun yarn is $20 a skein. And the sad fact of the matter is, almost never is that a true representation of the time and resources that went into that product.

Take that destructive tomato hornworm. (A parasite laid its eggs on it.)

So you are, then why do it? After a day like today, freezing pipes, sheep running amok, moldy hay, I had a moment of that, too. But I do it for the same reason so many other farmers and ranchers do. It is important work. It ties us to our past, our heritage, to the food we eat, to the clothes we wear. We know what we put in and on our bodies, as well as our friends, families and our customers. As a society, we have lost our passion and respect for it, and we see that as we lose countless acres of farmland, and as our aging farmers look to retire and don’t see who will take up the reins. But luckily, it also seems like there are some folks going back to the land. More new-to-farming folks, women and young people. And most of us run at it headlong, not really knowing what the hell we are doing. But after doing this for almost 3 years in some fashion or another, it kind of seems like no one really ever does. Sure, you learn a lot, but something new is thrown at you all the time. What farmers are really good at is learning to roll with the punches and make due as best is possible.

I urge everyone to look into the slow food and slow fashion movement. Go down to the local farmers’ market and ask your farmer more about how they grow and the challenges they face. Or just say thanks and buy that carrot or skein of yarn and make yourself a new, cozy hat and some yummy soup.

I made dis. (From shearing to finished piece.)
Wait, who is the other person this is for? For all of you either doing this work or thinking about doing it. I just want to say I am here for you. I am still new, and definitely don’t know it all. But I do know that having others to talk to is pretty much the best thing there is for any of us. And if you are thinking about going into this work, but hesitate because you don’t know much...just do it. It will likely be very hard at first. And even after you feel like you sorta have the swing of things, there will be days that are still very hard. But hands on experience and learning as you go is sort of the only way in this field. And to those that have been doing this a while, those that I have made a panicked phone call to when my ewe lambed the day before a HUGE move or who taught me about natural insecticides, THANK YOU. All of you out there being an inspiration and going through as much, pardon my french, shit, and more than we tiny fiber farmers do, THANK YOU. We all need you.


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

New Year, New Hustle...and special 2017 manifesto download!

First...Happy New year!  We hope you had a great first couple days of the year.  Admittedly, 2016 brought a LOT of change for us at Fiberton, and we have had to work really hard to keep ourselves treading water.  But we are also looking forward to the New Year as that marker for sitting down, an figuring our priorities and coming up with a new game plan.

The last several years I have been making a "Manifesto" for the year.  Something nice to look at, that I can hang on the wall, and that reminds me of the things that we want to work toward. Some of the things are just reminders to self about being 'yourself' and others are larger concepts or plans for the business.  These are personal and business goals and aspirations for the year...aka, how we wanna hustle this year:

Here is a pic of it hanging up... (tiny home = awkward photo angles)

I made it 8x10, so I could easily print and then frame it for all to see.  I love sharing, because it creates a bit of accountability, too.

So, want to make your own? We have created a special downloadable blank manifesto for you! Maybe you have been practicing your hand lettering, and want to fill it in by hand?  Then download the PDF version here. Or you want to drop it into a doc or drawing program and make it your own.  In that case, download the png image here, and draw your own text boxes in the spaces. (We used google draw and used their fun open source fonts. Just make sure that you format the page to be a 8x10.) Either way, we hope it inspires you to make some reminders/aspirations for your new year. (Oh, and don't forget to unclick "fit to page" when you go to print!)

Thanks for being our awesome readers, and let's all get that hustle on!


PS - If you have not had a chance, or you want to hear about the crazy year I spoke of above in our own voices, please check out our podcast!  Just look up Fiberton Acres on your preferred podcast platform. like iTunes, Stitcher, etc, and subscribe, OR you can go direct by clicking here!