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Monday, August 27, 2018

Finding Time

It's hard to find time to write. I think that must be true for everyone who is not already a published -- and well paid -- writer or working for someone as a writer. The rest of us try to find bit of time to fit the words in between whatever daily life consists of.  Here at Fussing Duck Farm, which is also the home of, things are no different.

The farm has a flow of its own. Most years, at least, spring planting, early harvest and late planting, weeding and final harvest line up at least as well as the ducks on a typical day. I do have self aligning ducks, at least much of the time!

The flow of hex sign orders, over the years, has proven to be far less predictable. Not having a budget for paid advertising and having to rely on word of mouth, an occasional article in the local media, longevity of the site on the Internet and, of late, a social media presence has meant slower growth than most entrepreneurs would accept. But having worked in the tech industry during the early boom and bust years, I have seen first hand what "overgrowth" can do. And I deliberately chose the slower path. During the last few years, each year has seen not only a growth in the number of signs painted, but also the development of a "boom" period of orders during the year. Unlike many businesses, which expect higher traffic during particular seasons, or leading up to a holiday, there seems to be no correlation with anything in my peak times. They have not (yet at least) happened during the winter, when time to cut and paint wood, would not be fighting for a share of the daylight hours with extra chores for animals, vegetables and fruits.

Life on a small subsistence farm/homestead always seems to be a matter of juggling tasks. Aging, and ailing bodies does not make it any easier.

Today I moved the electric pasture fence on account of having had a young sheep on the lam yesterday. I got a late start, and hoped that by moving the fence, I could not only confuse him as to where the unauthorized exit was, but also supply some better green forage. Didn't work, as he was out less than an hour after I finished chores. I got him, and the rest of the sheep and the goats, since they all come running at the sound of the sweet feed being shaken in the jar, and I was glad to see Tractor Guy back from his early appointment in town to help wrangle his goats. I was planning to do a major reset of the fence this late afternoon/evening and that will go on as planned. However, with
Major Tom, being carried by Tractor Guy,
when we collected him and Enterprise
(center back) from the University of
Maine, Orono, earlier this year.
the wooly Houdini in the flock, they will get hay in their confinement pens tomorrow until we get back from another trip to town. We both have to go. Wednesday, you can be sure I will be keeping a close eye on Major Tom, the lamb that goes AWOL.

Meanwhile, I have packaged up the last of the large hex sign
36" Mighty Oak hex sign
orders from the queue, to be shipped tomorrow.  This Mighty Oak sign will be on its way, finally, to a very patient client in NC. I do my best to keep everyone informed during backlog times.  The order queue currently holds 11 individual signs that need to be painted for 9 individuals. After working so long as a commercial artist, both on the web and in print -- where everyone wants everything yesterday (on a good day) and last week (most of the time) I am thankful and amazed by my clients understanding and patience.  When the timeline gets stretched beyond belief and reason, in my mind, I always offer a cheerful refund but I have yet to have anyone take me up on it! Instead I get responses back like this one from a client this week: "Thanks for your reply, and your commitment to artistic purity and motivations. I look forward to seeing your work when received."  In these days of instant this and pre-made that, I am grateful and humbled by the responses I get.

So I guess I better get at it, eh? I currently have one of the 24" sign blanks with primer drying and I have brought one more of that size and four smaller ones in to begin the sanding and priming process, while the heat and sun keep me indoors.

Flax plants
growing in the garden
Flax lays on the ground
"dew retting." The dew and
ground moisture rots part
of the plant so the fiber
can be removed.
Flax laying in a
tub of water for
"water retting."
While I wait for the filler putty and primer to dry, I am going to attempt to quickly sew up a nightgown and a light weight summer dress, copied off an old dress, with some of the wonderful linen fabric that I picked up last month at bargain prices, thanks to a friend having brought it to my attention. As you can see, linen is on my mind this year, because of my attempt to grow flax this year to process into a bit of linen fiber.

Wish me luck!