The Big Project: hints can be revealed (pertains to fiber, surprise, surprise)

Last weekend I drove south and into the mountains to spend a couple of days working on The Project.

(I’ve finally got the energy to see if I can cover the information the computer powers-that-be evaporated on me just as I’d finished writing a post on Monday. This time I am working in an offline composing program called Ecto. I don’t know much about Ecto, so we’ll see if this goes better than Monday did!)

I stayed in a cabin courtesy of Carol Ekarius and her husband, Ken Woodard. Ken went off to spend the time playing music with friends, leaving me and Carol to work on The Project. Yep, The Project requires two of us, and we both are the sort of people who are challenged, rather than daunted, by large, complicated tasks. Still, we haven’t felt comfortable talking about what we’re thinking (and working on) previously. Even though we’ve been working on it for a lot more than a year already. It’s big. We do, now, suspect we will be able to pull it off in the foreseeable future.

Here’s Carol at the cabin with Red, one of our weekend companions.


Chickens are not allowed inside, although Red forgets that from time to time in her quest for yummies.

Carol is passionate about livestock and small-scale farming. Her books include Storey’s Illustrated Breed Guide to Sheep, Goats, Cattle and Pigs: 163 Breeds from Common to Rare (Storey), which just won the Colorado Book Award in the general nonfiction category; How to Build Animal Housing (Storey), which won a Colorado Authors’ League award; Storey’s Guide to Raising Sheep (Storey), written with ground-breaking handspinner Paula Simmons; Storey’s Illustrated Guide to Poultry Breeds (Storey); Pocketful of Poultry (Storey); Small-Scale Livestock Farming: A Grass-Based Approach for Health, Sustainability, and Profit (Storey); and Hobby Farm: Living Your Rural Dream for Pleasure and Profit (Bowtie).

I’m passionate about fibers and rare breeds, as those who know about my work at Interweave Press and Shuttle Spindle & Dyepot and as a freelancer and as the publisher of Nomad Press are aware.

We’ve both been involved for years with the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.

I’m doing fibers.


(That’s Tuf, one of Carol’s dogs.)

Carol’s doing critters.


We’re both working day and night.

Theresa and Red are doing eggs. They helped out a lot over the weekend.


Even though there is a MASS of work left to do on The Project, we made great progress and feel hopeful that we’ll be able to change it from a bunch of separately written pieces into a coherent whole—while continuing to generate still more separately written pieces.

One of the things I like best about working with Carol is that when we get together and compare notes and I show her my research and the charts I’m drawing and the details that I’m endeavoring to condense into useful summaries that take into account geographic and biological variations and all sorts of other random differences . . . she doesn’t say that I don’t have to do all that and she doesn’t tell me It would be faster if I just pulled somebody else’s information and got on with it.

No, what she does instead is tell me about the weird and obscure and interesting books she’s gotten through interlibrary loan and ask me for a reminder about a weird, obscure, and truly fascinating book that I got through interlibrary loan (because she’s going to request the book, too, now that I’ve returned it). . . . She also doesn’t imply that it was silly of me to pay $25 to borrow a book for a couple of weeks from the National Agricultural Library because it was the only copy of that book in the United States and it’s not in print elsewhere any more. No, she gets on the computer and finds sources for more fibers and orders them and has them sent to my house.

It’s great to be collaborating with Carol on this project. We’re both nuts in some of the same ways. We won’t ever do as much research as either of us would like to (we would like to finish), but we’ll get enough done to have fun and to produce something we think fiber- and critter-appreciating folk will find useful and informative in a way that’s unlike anything else that’s come before it.

Of course, we also both work full-time at other jobs while we’re doing this. Carol is the executive director of the Coalition for the Upper South Platte (we met when she was in this role and I was working on a heritage preservation project in Park County, Colorado). I juggle this project around freelance writing and editing and Nomad Press.

We might get tired from time to time, but neither of us is likely to get bored.

Time to get back to work. I don’t think this is as good a post as the one I lost, but at least it is written and about to be published.

More about this project will be revealed as it moves (reasonably swiftly, we hope) toward completion.


2 thoughts on “The Big Project: hints can be revealed (pertains to fiber, surprise, surprise)”

  1. Great hints! It’s going to be fun to hear more, but best of all, to finally hold the finished project in my hands. (And yes, you two will finish it eventually….)

  2. Now I’m even *more* interested in your project. I own a couple of Carol’s books, and have read a few others (bless inter-library loan!) – can’t wait to see what you are cooking up.

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