Monday, February 23, 2009


No. Not that kind of hammered. No booze involved. No hammers or nails either.

Just snow. Lots and lots of snow.

And wind too.

So much wind that when I opened the front door there was a little tiny drift that snuck in under the so called weather stripping.

Out the front looking right.
Out the front looking left. I was surprised to see that the steps were relatively clear. That wind at work.

So I did what I normally do when showing you our lovely snow. I went to the back door and this is what met me. You can see the latch in the door jam just about where the snow ends on the left side.

And a close up of the snow in the yard. The wind brought all the snow to the back yard. The fence to the left is 6 feet. so that means that I have about 5 feet of snow in my yard.
Spring is suppose to start in less than a month. Not in my back yard!

In the mean time, schools are closed across the province, the college is closed, UNB and STU are closed, the buses are off the roads, doctors offices are closed, my dentist called and my appointment was canceled, RCMP have issued a warning for people to stay off the roads and travel at your own risk. Which means that if you venture out and get in trouble, they are not required to come help you. The fellow that is in charge of roads and streets (sidewalks too I'm guessing) was on the radio this morning and said that the drifting is very bad in some cases reaching over 6 feet.

And the snow and winds are to continue throughout the day.

Please don't tell me of your crocuses. I don't think that I could stand it.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Industrial What?

My desk at work acts as a catch all. And not just from my hand. It is often home to assignments left by students for part time instructors. And things that people need to pick up for a variety of reasons.

Like the 5 animal skulls that someone left for a night time teacher. They were suppose to be picked up on Thursday evening but the classes were cancelled because of a snow storm. I hope that they are gone when I get back. Not that I find them revolting or disturbing. It is just that they take up a fair amount of space and I can't really jam them in a drawer.

Every now and then I give up and clean. Things get shuffled and sorted.

A couple of weeks ago, I made new labels for some drawers in the Fashion studio. There were a couple of duplicates and they were emptied out of my apron pocket and left on my desk. And during the shuffle of cleanup ended up on my bunch of bananas.

Needless to say, I didn't believe the label.

Saturday, February 21, 2009


I had fun at the opening and the turn out was great. I would like to add some weights to the bottom of my door though and change the positioning a bit. But I am rather pleased in the end.

Friday, February 20, 2009


My street. You can tell it is mild because the you can actually see the road!
The house across the street. And yes, those snowbanks are as high as the roof of the porch (which you need to walk up 4 steps to get to).

My sidewalk. If you said "What sidewalk?" you would be right! It is 1:20 pm and the snow stopped last night around midnight. I think that the city's snow removal budget must be pretty close to being gone.
Drat that groundhog.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

When we last spoke

of the things I do, I was doing some heat setting experimentation. On the whole I was not really all that keen on the heat setting. Part of the problem was that the elastics/rubber bands that I was using were in fact the ouchless ones that I found out were plastic. They didn't withstand the heat of the heat setting machine. As a result, about halfway through the heat setting phase, the elastics would give way and the fabric would relax making my forms less than crisp.
My first reaction to my samples was "oh. look. wrinkled fabric"
Then I wrapped some around a pole in a traditional shibori technique and found something that I was able to get a little more excited about. I also did the nail fabric which I also found to be quite exciting. I was looking in a magazine for something totally unrelated and found an article on heat setting where they use a steamer. I tried it with my wrapped pollen fabric and it worked wonderfully! I am working on my pollen still but I need to tweak it a bit. I am not 100% pleased with my results so far. More on that later.

While I was sitting around waiting for my fabric to melt and harden, I did a bit of dyeing of scarves. There are never enough hours in the day to do all of the things that I want to get done, so I managed to multi task a couple of days.

I was also asked to work a couple of extra nights last week because the night time blanket weaving class that is happening now is coming to a close (two weeks left) and a lot of the students will not be finished on time. It was thought that while other classes were happening in the evening and the security guard was there that the blanket weaving students could come and work on getting their blankets on the looms. They are also able to come during the day while classes are happening (and I am there to help) but some people work during the day and were given the night time option. Some took advantage of my being there and progressed quite nicely. Others are still behind. We will see how it all turns out.

Last Wednesday I was also asked if I was putting a piece in the New Brunswick Crafts Council show. The show's theme is "Traces of Architecture": Inspiration from New Brunswick Architecture. When I said that I hadn't thought to, I was encouraged by the curator to submit something. So I started to think and came up with a couple of ideas. The one that I chose is a direct interpretation of the theme. I decided to make a life-size doorway based on the doors is my house. I started with silk dupioni which I cut into doorway shape and sewed the edges. I knew that I would be dyeing it so I wanted to use a type of thread that would dye like the silk. Polyester thread was out, and so was cotton because cotton takes fiber reactive dyes slightly differently than silk. I decided that some of the weft thread would work well.
Ha! After faithfully pulling about 30 yards of weft thread out, putting it on sewing bobbins and trying to sew with it, I came to the conclusion (after about 10 breaks in the thread) that the weft thread wasn't spun enough.
What to do? 10 pm on a Friday night, I knew that in order to have the piece ready for Monday I had to sew it that night, no stores are open (and if they were would they even carry silk thread?)
And then I remembered some fine spun silk yarn that a friend gave me thinking that I could ply with it. I thought that I would dig it out and try it. And it WORKED! Just like thread. I was so pleased, and it was a joy to work with after the cursing that I did using the other silk. I cursed some more when I decided to pick out all of the stitches of the first attempt. But I am happy with the result.

Here are the pieces ready to dye.

In order to dye them, I first stretched them on stretcher frames and painted them with fiber reactive dyes. I had to let them sit for 24 hours and then wash and dry them. Then sew them together. I don't have a picture of the finished piece yet because I haven't seen it all assembled. The opening is this Friday 5-7 at the Charlotte Street Art Center if anyone is interested.

I hope to get a good photo of it hanging for all of you that can't be there in person.

So that is partially why I haven't been posting much. Who has time?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Article from the local paper

Taken form the Daily Gleaner

Vaughan Bourque was all smiles Tuesday as one of his prized herd of dairy cattle wrapped its tongue around his face.

Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge
Stephen MacGillivray
APPRECIATING THE TLC (tender loving cow): Vaughan Bourque laughs as he gets an affectionate lick from one of his cows. Bourque says the family has been trying to keep the cattle as comfortable and happy as possible since a barn roof collapsed Jan. 31, trapping about 70 cattle. Two cows died in the incident.

The seemingly grateful animal was one of 70 rescued from the family's barn Jan. 31 after it collapsed without warning.

Two cows lost their lives in the incident, but no one was hurt.

"We are just trying to make the cows the most comfortable we possibly can to keep them happy," Bourque said in describing what it's been like the last couple of weeks.

The good news for the cattle and their owners is that they'll soon have a new barn.

The Bourque family of Lincoln is planning a good old-fashioned barn-raising.

"As soon as the weather is good enough - it depends on the fellow up above - we will start building," said George Bourque, Vaughan's father.

"It depends on how things go. It might be in a couple of weeks, it might be a month. The sooner the better."

The Bourques still have about 60 head of cattle at the Lincoln location and more than 40 at the farm of Glen Pye in Mouth of Keswick.

"The cows here are doing good," George Bourque said.

"The production (of milk) didn't drop. Everything is going on schedule."

The new barn will be a permanent structure, and it will be higher than the previous building.

Vaughan Bourque said he's anxious to get the rebuilding project rolling. The only thing he is unsure of is how long it will take.

"I don't know; this is my first barn-raising party," he said with a laugh.

"It will be a couple of days, that's for sure. I have all kinds of friends who are willing to take the days off to help."

Pat Goodine of Bear Island is one of them.

"I am one of the guys helping," he said. "There's quite a few farmers who have offered to help. It will go up really quick once we start.

"Some of the materials are here now for the posts and the strapping of the rafters. We are just going to go ahead and build it."

Many people are making donations.

"We sent him cheques; farmers seldom have ready cash," said one Fredericton donor who wanted to remain anonymous.

"He is so grateful for people's assistance and prayers."

Vaughan Bourque said it's difficult to put an exact price tag on the loss, but he estimated it would be more than $100,000. He said the barn was insured but not for a collapse.

Click to Enlarge
PREPARING TO REBUILD: Vaughan Bourque, right, talks with Pat Goodine as they walk through the area where the cattle barn collapsed recently.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Heat setting

In the class that I am taking, our latest project revolves around heat setting.

Heat setting is basically taking a synthetic fabric, in this case polyester organza, and binding it in different ways. In this case, I am wrapping the fabric and binding it around nails. It then gets put under the heat setting machine (a heat lamp with a fan) and after about an hour, the fabric melts a tiny bit and when it cools off, it is the shape of whatever you bound it around.
My idea is to make spiky fabric and try and recreate something that looks like a piece of pollen.
We will see how successful this will turn out later.

And a farm up date....

The old structure has been torn off and disposed of.
Last I heard, the engineer is drawing up plans for a new barn and the farmers in the area want to have a barn raising when all of the paperwork is done.
I'm sure that Mamoo will update you with any new information.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Mid-Life Crisis?

I was at Zellers the other day for something totally unrelated to yarn, but I usually stop off in the craft section and see if they have any ribbon yarn. For my stash you know? I love to use the ribbon yarns in my mixed warp scarves. I wish that I had know that I loved ribbon yarn so much a few years ago when it was so popular. Now I have a hard time finding it anywhere. On line perhaps, but I'm not an online shopper.

So back to the pathetic craft isle. They had a lot of dishrag cotton.

A lot.

And for some reason, for the first time, it spoke to me.

And not only dishrag cotton, but PINK dishrag cotton!

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against dishrag cotton, nor anything against pink, but they are just not me. Think rich, dark silk and we'll talk. Pink cotton? Hmmm.

But this one little skein had to come home with me. I dug out the required needles and started. Never mind that pair of socks on which I have one toe to kitchener and one toe to to finish knitting. And that pesky mitten thumb. That's not being worked on either. I started to knit them for Christmas but didn't get them finished. That was Christmas 2007. Oops.
And the pattern that I chose was "feather and fan". A lace pattern. My story is that I am practicing lace before I start on my shawl again. I decided that I don't like the hand spun that I am using. I'm not sure what I am going to substitute. When I figure it out, I'll let you know.
So hopefully soon, I will be the proud owner of a pink lace dishcloth. And a rather large one from the look of it so far.

And I am not sure what the progress of things is at the farm. I called today, but there was no answer. No surprise really. I can only assume that they are both very busy. But I will be seeing mom tomorrow and let you all know.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009


Did you see the comment my mom made last night?????

Thanks everyone for your kind words regarding our situation.

We found out today that our insurance does not cover for the collapse of our barn.

The excavator has already torn down most of the collapsed barn and will finish tearing the rest tomorrow. Then the clean up will begin. No small task.

What does insurance cover if not accidents?

Sunday, February 01, 2009

The life of a farmer

We got a call last night and an e-mail this morning detailing mom's day yesterday.

Hello girls and sister,

Finally I have the time to tell you the bad news. The barn roof collapsed today. Dad and I were at the barn early this morning and he came home about 8:00A.M. and I came home about about 9:00 A.M.
[ed. it was all okay then] Dad went back to the barn about 11:30 to plow in the back of the barn so he could get hay to the heifers before lunch.
He [saw that the barn had collapsed and] called me, Vaughan and 911 and he called Mario, who is a farmer, and Mario called his list of farmers, and within minutes the yard was full to capacity with vehicles and emergency trucks. There were so many people that it was overcrowded. Those farmers who helped during the flood were all here with cattle trucks and chain saws and everything. They were amazing. They worked along with the fire department to cut holes in the wall of the barn and rescued one cow at a time. There were a lot of cows that were trapped under the collapsed roof and we only lost a couple of cows that the vet had to put to sleep.
Some heifers were shipped to other farms, and at this point I do not know where they went, and we opened up the heifers area and put in bedding for the milking cows. I looked after getting the milk replacement ready and fed the calves and Audrey came and helped me. It is a good thing that I have been feeding the calves morning and night for a couple of weeks and knew what to do as the men were so busy, they did not have the time to look after the calves.

The cows were finished milking about 9:30 this evening. I was supposed to work at the Gilbert & Sullivan Dinner Theater this evening, but instead the ladies at the church brought some sandwiches and turkey soup and coffee for everyone. We also received some wonderful turkey salad sandwiches from Mama's Pub on the North side. The owner has horses and her heart went out to us. She wanted to help in any way she could. The sandwiches were delivered by her mom.

I had better get to bed because tomorrow is another day, I have to get up early to feed the calves and then go to church and distribute communion.
I am sure that some good will come out of this. I am so thankful to God that it happened on a nice warm day [ed. -3 is warm compared to the -30 we've had recently] as opposed to a very cold and windy day and that no one got hurt and that we only lost a few cows [ed. I think losing 3 cows is bad enough]. It could have been so much worse. On cold days everything freezes in the barn if the doors are opened for even a short time. Also dad was supposed to be installing some new lighting in the ceiling in that part of the barn that collapsed this morning, but the young guys who were supposed to come and help only came in the afternoon, so he was waiting for them to arrive to help him install the lighting. They could have been trapped in there too, if they had been in there. So even though we had a terrible thing happen, in the end maybe it is all for the best. Maybe we will get a new barn for the cows. Love you all and take care. Mamoo

The barn as it is now

Some farmers brought more tractors to help prop up the wall to prevent further collapse

The back door that the cows use to access the field in the summer.

The left side of the barn. As mom said, the cows that were in this part were easy to rescue. They just opened the gate and out they came. But you can see one cow that is still trapped.

Trapped cows. You can see two here.

They had to cut away whole sections of the walls to get to some of the cows.

Trapped cows. This poor gal had to be hauled out.

Once she was outside, she couldn't get up because her back legs were cramped. The vet gave her a shot for the pain and they covered her with warm blankets.

Dad getting a halter on a cow to lead her out.

Dad with one of the cows.

Many people showed up to help.

They had to cut through metal bars to rescue some of the cows.

The firemen put blankets and towels over the cows heads to protect them from the flying sparks.

Cow waiting to be freed. The man in the blue to the left is the vet.

Interior shot.

Another interior and more trapped cows.

More trapped cows.

This cow did not want to go back in the barn. I can't say where as I blame her.

Coffee time!

A well deserved bowl of turkey soup.

And you all remember the saga of the flood last spring and the evacuation of the cows? Because the cows were stressed, their milk production went down and was not expected to recover until each cow had calved again. The cows had begun to clave and the milk production had started to go up a little bit. Dairy farmers here have an agreement with the Milk Marketing Board that they will produce X amount of liters of milk. If they are over quota they get paid less for the milk that is over quota and if they are under quota they are fined. Because of the move during the flood and the stress that the cows endured, Dad has been under quota since last spring. The MMB has given him until the end of 2009 to make up the lost production or face a fine that is approximately the equivalent of one months production value. That would be a month in which all the the usual expenses occurred. Cows are rather expensive creatures to feed, house, and keep warm. Add to this the loss of production due to the poor quality of the hay that the cows are eating this year because last summer was so cool and wet. And add to that the fact that the 40 year old silos have deteriorated to the point where they are no longer used and have to be taken down.

Production is down so much that my parents are not even drinking their own milk. Because every drop now is precious, they are buying it from the store.

And now this.

More stress on the cows that will probably make the production drop even more. And the loss of three milking cows, which is probably 120 litres a day. It adds up.

And a couple of weeks ago during the cold snap that we had, three cows decided to calve early and did it outside! Poor dumb beasts. I believe that one of the calves froze before anyone found it and one had frostbite on its nose but survived.

So the next time that you go to the store, please don't complain about the price of milk. Just thank your lucky stars that there are people out there like my parents who keep producing it.