Norman Kennedy at Table Rock Llama Shop

Norman kennedy at Table Rock Llama Fiber Studio

This was such a special event and so exciting that I had to blog about this in BOTH my blogs.  so forgive me if you read both.  Alba Ranch, Melisa and Charlie Morrison,  saw Norman Kennedy at Table Rock Llama Shop in Black Forest, Colorado last night.

Norman Kennedy was born in 1933 on King Street in Aberdeen, Scotland.  Charlie Morrison was born and raised in Buckie, Scotland about 1.5 hours outside of Aberdeen.  Melisa and Charlie lived in Aberdeenshire after they were married so it was exciting to be around folks from Scotland again.

Weldon Walker, pictured in a blue shirt to Norman’s left, wove a lovely blanket in a tartan like pattern that was the main piece for the Waulking demonstration. Norman said that he always has the weaver of the cloth sit to his left as that keeps him close to his heart.  The piece had just come off the loom and was a 2:2 twill.  After the waulking, Norman laid the cloth out on the table to roll it with a board.  You can see it laid out here on the table just prior to being rolled.

Norman Kennedy and a freshly waulked cloth

Waulking is a step in woolen cloth making that fulls the fiber using water, soap and friction.  It is traditionally called Waulking in Scotland.  The cloth is cleaned, thickened and shrunk all in this process.

Norman has lived in the USA since 1966 and currently has a home and Fiber Art School in Vermont.  He travels around the USA doing demonstrations, classes, waulking and concerts.  He cards, spins, weaves and waulks the fiber in the “old” ways keeping traditions alive along with his extensive collection of English and Gaelic songs.  Doing repetitive work, the songs keep his rhythm steady and are an essential part of the work.  In June 2003, Norman received the  National Heritage Fellowship awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts in the USA.

It was lovely to see Norman and talk with him.  There was also another lady there from Scotland as well named Moira Theriault.  It turned out that she was friends with a John Taylor from Buckie, Scotland that now currently lives in CA.  His youngest brother is Donald Taylor, who just happened to be one of Charlie’s mates from school in Buckie.  Very small world indeed.

Melisa Morrison is excited so come and see why!

Sofia, Satin Angora Rabbit

I am so excited I could burst.  I plan on entering an International Art Contest. involves lots of hand spun merino wool blended with French Angora Rabbit fur and Satin Angora Rabbit fur.

Melisa Morrison of Alba Ranch plans to enter ArtPrize, and International Art competition held in Grand Rapids, MI.  The show is September 21 through October 9, 2011.  Charlie Morrison of Alba Ranch is considering entering the same contest.

Artist registration opens on April 18, 2011.  Melisa and Charlie are both already registered as you need to register on line to be an artist and you can vote in the competition from that same registration.  The other way to vote for the competition is to go to Grand Rapids, MI during the ArtPrize

This competition is different than any other competition in that is held in Grand Rapids at many different venues all over the city which are mostly within walking distance or shuttle bus rides of each other.  The ArtPrize contest is determined by popular vote through online voting, text messages and voting at the show.  2011 will be the third ArtPrize show sponsored by Richard DeVos.  It is part Art Festival and part social experiment.  This event brings community and art together as the city is swarmed by artists and enthusiasts everywhere.

Melisa, a 1996 Grand Valley State University Alumni, is looking forward to visiting her home town where she lived on Cherry St. and College in the Heritage Hill District before marrying Charlie in 1999 and moving to Scotland.  Currently the couple live in Canon City, Colorado on a 55 acre parcel in the Rocky Mountains.  Melisa is the Fiber Artist and Animal Guru of Alba Ranch, while Charlie works offshore and is the Scottish International flavour of the couple.

Melisa raises dairy goats and French Angora Rabbits.  Up until about a year ago, Melisa also raised Angora and Cashmere goats, Merino Sheep, Long Wool sheep (Lincoln, Wensleydale, Teeswater and Cotswold), llamas, and Dorper sheep for meat.  Since focusing more on her Fiber Art, Melisa has cut down on the animals greatly into specializing more in the exotic fiber of French Angora Rabbits.  She has a huge supply of wool that she raised herself including some that she also sheared.

Charlie oil paints and is a shutter bug photographer.  Charlie works in both digital and film medium for photography.  Currently he is working in Oils for his painting medium but is starting into water colors as his next adventure.  HIs forte in oils is Landscapes specializing in REAL locations of his Beloved Scotland.  His photography tends to be of a lot of oil rig installations offshore, exotic locations, and all the critters on Alba Ranch with a fair amount of Scotland Castles thrown in for good measure.

Melisa is currently encouraging Charlie to enter the ArtPrize competition with her in 2011.  Go to the Alba Ranch – Art by Melisa and Charlie Morrison face book page and fan the page.  Put your comments in the Survey postings and be heard about whether you think he should enter or not.  If you have not seen much of his work, please view and comment on Charlie’s Oil Paintings and tell us what you think. competition and register at one of the registration booths.

A Simple Goat Cheese Recipe for the Homestead

I have had many folks ask me how I make my lovely goat cheese.  I do not use all those fancy additives, equipment, or anything outside of the ordinary kitchen utensils.  I have a very simple recipe that creates a white goat cheese that can be pressed to make a harder cheese that will slice when cold but not as well as a store hard cheese.  It can be mixed with cream cheese to make a lovely spread. It can have some of the whey left in to create a softer cheese that will not harden or crumble as easily.  Or you can drain all the whey off, cool and let the cheese harden and crumble.  Each is just a slight adjustment with nothing fancy required depending on your desired end use of the cheese.

1 gallon of goat milk (I use raw, some like to pasteurize)

1/2-1 cup of white wine vinegar

Nubian Princesses

salt and pepper to taste

herbs to taste

Bring the goat milk slowly to a just starting to roll boil, add in the 1/2-1 cup (you can use less vinegar but I like to use 1 cup for 1 gallon) of vinegar and stir.  Turn off the heat as you are stirring the vinegar in and you will see the curds and whey start to separate almost immediately.  You must stir as the milk heats up and while separating the curds and whey or the milk can burn and stick to the bottom of the pan.   This will affect your cheese taste.  The curds will be very small and if you let it set on the stove off the heat for a couple of minutes I have found the curds will start to drop to the bottom with the whey separating more to the top.  I use a very finely wire mesh strainer and pour off as much of the whey through the strainer into a bucket or pan as possible without getting much of the curds in.  This I do to start with so that the curds don’t get trapped in the mesh immediately and slow down the draining.  Once I get most of the whey poured off, I start to pour some of the whey and curds mixture left into the strainer and let the whey continue to drain off.  I have a clean dry tub or bowl ready and put the curds that the whey has drained off into the bowl.  I continue to do this with new portions until all the whey has been separated and I have just curds left.  Then I salt and pepper it to taste.  I generally need more salt and pepper than most folks would expect but it is specific to your tastes as well as what you plan on using the cheese for.

Plain:  I just use a small amount of salt and pepper and then cool

Rosemary:  I use salt and pepper and dried crushed rosemary

Garlic Chive:  I use salt, pepper, garlic powder, and fresh chives chopped very fine from garden

Holiday:  Substitute apple cider vinegar for the white wine vinegar to give a sweeter taste, add some agave or brown sugar, than spice with salt, cinnamon, all spice, and nutmeg.  chop some raisins or currants very fine and add.  Chop any nuts of your choice finely and add.

Be brave and try spicing it with various things.  Add a packet of cream cheese to the mixture while still warm and mix to give an added smooth texture for spreading.  cool in the fridge and enjoy.

Don’t forget, your chickens will love you if you give that whey to them for breakfast the next day!

New Computer

Alba Ranch has  bought a new desk top computer last night.  Decided to join the 21st Century.  I have resisted for 10 years, but the old computer was doing the job.  It is NO LONGER doing the job.  So I caved.  🙂 This should make the Alba Ranch Shop so much more efficient as well as using all my ArtFire tools.  Yayness!  I will be able to load more and more of my Fiber Art Photos faster, more efficiently and make all the artistic treasures available for Alba Ranch’s Fans.

I might be busy offline for a few days or so as we get the new computer set up, all the software on it, the old one backed up and transferred over.  Look forward to more information as I start to whiz along the cyber network like a REAL computer person. 🙂