Tag Archives: farm life

Shapes as Symbols

Seeing the long, green, 36″ round gasline pipes stacked on trucks slowly climbing the mountains of our state on a daily basis has raised my tension level. When I feel unable to control or change an event or action I create. Slowly a design nudges my consciousness. The visual concept begins to evolve on paper. With a few adjustments the story I want to tell appears as a cartoon (line drawing). My energy changes from lethargic to accelerated and materials are gathered, or made in the dye pots. Pulling loops and stitching with needle and thread, slowly I talk to myself. When finished I can talk to you.

Pipes for gas line

The natural gas-lines, proposed and begun, crisscross West Virginia as they travel East. There are stockpiles in what were hay fields, in abandoned parking lots, even in newly excavated spaces along highways and back roads. They are not hidden from view. The workers migrate from job to job across state lines and take up the hotel rooms built for tourism and business travelers supporting our long term economy.

It is summer and the rhythms of farming continue too. Large round hay rolls cast their shadows in early morning and late afternoon light. Yellow dried grasses are rolled up revealing the fresh new greens of regrowth. This is a sustaining cycle humans developed which truthfully also is destructive and abusive of the soils and land. But that is another visual story. Today I look at haying season as nostalgic which is calming.

My intent in using traditional rug hooking as a medium is to honor the utilitarian purpose of past generations and present my work to a new audience when shown on the wall as visual art. The two pieces were designed as large floor rugs for these reasons and because big gets attention.

Simplifying the landscape images into shapes let me convey the repeating patterns and tension I felt. Circles of the pipe ends viewed by following those trucks and driving past the stockpiles and the innocent hayrolls lined up in rows are surrounded by dark and light depict the feelings I have driving past each subject.  The companion piece is Lines: logging, haying and pipes. Using the same wool fabrics as in the Circles piece, with additional pieces for value changes, the logging industry is added to our state’s human impact on nature.

The two partners – Circles: pipes and hay rolls and Lines: logging, haying and pipes were completed in 2018. Ready for exhibit.

My muse …. nature

I gather nature – preserving the pieces for a while longer.
I use nature as the skeleton for my work.
I am nature and my actions reflect its energy.

I noticed when the green leaves are behind the mahogany ones we can see them better.

These leaves were not pressed and I decided to give my piece dimension stuffing two leaves and using yarns to define the veins.

finished with inspiration

finished with inspiration

After working the design I painted the linen. Best lesson here is paint surface FIRST then develop the motifs.

The year study lead me to reconsider how to approach each work. In rughooking the details are completed first, working out to background. But as noted in this square the surface needed to be painted before building up the leaves. I just have to remember to consider how before doing.

A change of season

Here is one day in May where color, shapes and sounds announced new life in West Virginia. The natural cycle continues. As of the end of the month, with the squeaking song in early morning of the Indigo, all of the migratory birds have returned.  We are ready for summer.

My artist eye  looks for shadows, highlights and textures to exaggerate. When you look around what catches your eye and how will you show us the results?

Patterns found in Nature

We added Speckled Sussex and Golden Polish chicks this spring to the barnyard.  In the order Murray McMurray included an extra chick which has grown into a MALE Hamburg.  So we have TWO roosters for 17 hens.  Trust me that is at least ONE too many and the girls think it is 2 too many.  BUT they both look spectacular, so who ends up in the stew pot?  Stay tuned.

Hamburg Rooster

Hamburg Rooster

Golden Polish Rooster

Golden Polish Rooster

In the mean time, with this variety we learned each breed has an identifiable voice along with feather pattern, and leg colors.  It is a chorus of clucks and chirps when we feed.

See if you can match the legs with feather patterns selecting one from column A and one from B.  Answers below the gallery.

Answer: Feet top to bottom (Dominique, Speckled Sussex, Golden Polish)

Feathers top to bottom (Speckled Sussex, Golden Polish, Dominique)

We are live with an updated site!

If you clicked onto this blog through http://www.ruckmanmillfarm.com   welcome!  Look around the posts and pages to learn even more about Susan Feller and Jim Lilly at home in the Mountain State of West Virginia.

Logo designed by Michael Anderson, Romney, WV

  We are thrilled to have an official logo honoring the log home Jim built and the era of time we both are reliving… the Arts and Crafts period of the early 1900’s.

Michael Anderson is our graphic designer, web creator, fellow artist, and friend.  I have found him to be easy to discuss concepts with and the magic in cyberspace he has worked should make your visits enjoyable.

Let us know of any problem, difficulty or enjoyable clicks while on the site, so we can improve it.  

At Home by Jim Lilly

Enough of the thank yous,  ENJOY and come back soon.   Susan and Jim

Planted the tomato and pepper seeds

Jim and I planted the garden seeds today.  Now we feel like survivalists again.  Looks like much better starter soil than last year, first step.  It will be up to Mother Nature to help us get the plants growing when we put them in late in May.  Until then the kitchen is our incubator.

Put in three dozen pips of RAMPS two weeks ago in the woods.  Got them from Ramp Farm Specialists, the only place selling Ramps as bulbs or seeds.  Although these delicious alliums have a mystique of being only found in the mountains of Appalachia, we have found them growing in New Jersey and learned they are prolific in Colorado and many other areas. 

An acquired taste, one chef we met says a ramp needs to be “tamed” like a colt. Boiling and throwing off the water once takes the extra bite out of them.

To promote our heritage I have branded my jewelry line R.A.M.P.S. “Rag Art Means Personal Style”.

Mountain State Fiber Artists Meet on Farm

October 16th dawned a beautiful FALL day. 

MSFA meeting Fall 2010

By noon 22 members and guests of the Mountain State Fiber Artists had arrived at Ruckman Mill Farm.  They unloaded with desserts and salads (note the desserts were listed first, and were the most in both categories contributed).  And also brought along finished hooked , needle work and quilted, items which were displayed on the front porch during our show and tell. 

Leaf Peeping Season by Susan Feller

  We have accepted the ATHA challenge to make  a 9 x 12 mat inspired by the color RED.  Completed pieces will be shown at the Morgan County Fair next August and then contributed by members to the ATHA Bi-Ennial in Lancaster, PA October 19-22 to benefit the Education Committee.

Fresh Air Friend

Sometimes you need to get away from a regular routine.  Jennifer Larmour thought that a few weeks ago and called us up.  Seems New York City in the summer gets hot ?!  Determined to travel approximately 320 miles using “public transportation” she caught the Mega Bus from NYC to DC, walked the few blocks to Union Station and AMTRAC to take the 55 mile trip out on the ONLY train going west through Harper’s Ferry, WV on Saturday. 

Great shadows and stacking of shapes

That is where I came in, completing her trip out to Hampshire County in our Toyota (another hour and 45 minutes). You see I wasn’t going closer than Harper’s Ferry to pick her up.  More on the return trip later.

Jim had planned on Jennifer’s visit food wise, shopping at the Romney Farmers Market for fresh snap peas from Bryan Beveridge, cooking up Bob (the rooster in previous post) into broth for Greek Lemon Soup (cold), and marinating some venison from the property till very tender for delicious kabobs with new red potatoes (Bryan’s again) cherry tomatoes and mushrooms (did have to resort to FoodLion for these). 

Talking to the broody hen, while collecting breakfast

We started every morning with farm fresh eggs collected eagerly by Jennifer and served fried on a bowl of oatbran bought in bulk at Miller’s Market, or with bacon and greens from our garden.  Sure is nice to have someone around who enjoys food and preparing it well. Jennifer and I did appreciate Jim.

2010 Garlic Harvest on the Farm, with help

We enjoyed her visit and she stepped in willingly to help with our chores. The big team effort was harvesting the garlic rows before the 90 degree sun got too high in the sky.

A fellow fiber artist, Jennifer and Susan spent hours happily working in the studio.  She finished a portrait of Grandma with very young Jennifer on her lap.  The freedom of interpretation is one aspect of her art we truly enjoy.

Jennifer's hooked rug 2010, Grandma and Jennifer

Tuesday came too soon and we returned to Harper’s Ferry in time for the 11:16 am to DC, coming from Chicago.  When the temperatures get as hot as currently, the trains slow down for safety reasons.  Someone called the 800 number and found out the arrival would not be until 1:45!!   TOO Late for a bus transfer in DC to NYC, we thought about it and agreed to take David (Appalachian Trail hiker who needed to get to a plane for return to Portland, OR) and off we went to Vienna METRO Station about 38 miles closer to the city. Thank heavens for the GPS and my knowing something of the area.  Traffic picked up, the lanes widened to 5 lanes across at one point, but we were in the middle of the dayso not bad.  Pulled into the station, and the travellers had decided to take a cab which would assure them of a quicker arrival in town, WALL-AH a Yello Taxi appeared! 

Received an email from Jennifer around 9:00 pm and she had arrived safe, having consumed a pound of snap peas on the bus trip.  We look forward to another effortless, and very friendly visit soon.  The farm isn’t the same without her, Bob, the cat, misses the extra attention.

Full House

Yes there are 3 Hens in the one box!

These Dominique Hens are fourteen months old.  They obviously are interested in sitting on eggs to hatch.  BUT they don;t understand, only one hen is needed per nest.  We have patiently waited 22 days and are about to throw out the rotten eggs in upper right box and start all over AGAIN. 

The hen is not demonstrative enough to say, “Go Away, I have enough eggs under me, find your own spot to lay an egg.”  What do we humans know about making baby chickens? Not much.

Chicken in the Pot

Two roosters are good for some things: breeding and two part harmony in the morning.  

Bob #1 during the winter blizzard

But when Alpha male decides he is the king of the the roost (and the humans are considered part of that roost), something has to happen.  Sure enough even though Jim thought the crown of Bob #1, was better than Bob #2, we finally decided to add #1 to the freezer.  On April 22 the tenth rooster of the original Murray McMurray Dominques met his end.  He was the first one we successfully plucked (since he was midway through a molt) and weighed in at 5 pounds dressed.  The local farmers said that was a good size.

We noticed the very next day a new quiet and calm nature to the flock including protective BOB.  Glad he is happy we are too.  Now to await the hatching of the first (of three) nests and another generation of hens and roosters named…. BOB.  Wondering why all of our animals are named BOB? Makes for simple conversation, ease in culling the flock(they are all the same name) and we wont forget their name.