Spinning, knitting and visiting

Kid mohair, colors not looking quite as well as they do in person
Kid mohair, colors not looking quite as well as they do in person

Today turned out to be a very lovely day. I had some errands to do in Freeport, and our friend Chris invited me to lunch and a spinning/knitting afternoon. So I toodled off and did my errands, forgetting about how much traffic there would be in Brunswick, trying to get from Route 1 to 295. Aargh! But I had my trusty iPad and listened to some good music and some podcasts, so it was all good. And during our lovely visit this afternoon, on a very lovely day, I worked on my new Hitchhiker shawl and we had an amazing lunch.

I have been working on spinning some hand-painted kid mohair, in a range of reds, oranges and golds. I am almost finished with it, and it is beautiful. I have to find just the right thing to ply it with, and then see if there is enough to make a small project. (The photo does not show off the colors as well as I would hope, but the iPhone did its best!).

And so the day was a good one. I have plenty of work to do here on the farm, but a lovely day out was truly a gift.

 

Late August morning in July

Fog creeping in over the trees
Fog creeping in over the trees

Although, come to think of it, the whole day had that August feel to it. Very cool morning (yay), a little rain, and then just general cloudiness. While I was doing chores this afternoon, the fog began to move in very quietly from Round Pond harbor, which made me think of Carl Sandburg’s poem “Fog” (1916)

The fog comes / on little cat feet. / It sits looking / over harbor and city / on silent haunches / and then moves on.

Beezy, being all serious
Beezy, being all serious

It was a quiet day here on the farm. I spent the morning trying a batch of goat milk mozzarella, and it was quite an elegant failure. I probably should not have used any citric acid. The curds got glossy and stretchable, but never made itself into “real” mozzarella, just kept rolling around. It’s firmed up in the fridge now and I may be able to use in in a baked ziti or something, but it’s not what I set out to make.  I will be trying again soon, though. :*)

 

Marigold up close and personal, as usual!
Marigold up close and personal, as usual!

In the meantime, the chevre is going well, and I continue to crank that out. I have to get a new backlog into the freezer for next winter. I would hate to be without that, and so would many of our friends, I think!

 

Fence-line weaning

Bucklings trying to figure out how to get back in with their mamas
Bucklings trying to figure out how to get back in with their mamas

It’s been a rough 36 hours. I have been a little overdue in moving the two remaining bucklings into the paddock with the big bucks. The little boys were very actively pursuing the girls around the paddock and making a general nuisance of themselves, so it was time. Yesterday morning I got Henry and the brown buckling into the adjoining paddock. They can see their mothers and sisters, but they (hopefully!) cannot access the girls.

Boys sparring around the hay feeder
Boys sparring around the hay feeder

The two boys have been crying piteously (they could wake the dead) for their mamas and hanging around the fence hoping to have a little contact. There has not been too much pushing and shoving by the adult bucks, just a little sparring. They learned quickly not to annoy Jingle the donkey, thank goodness, and things are ok on that front. But the crying for their moms continues! It kept us up most of the night last night, and hopefully they will settle a little bit better tonight. We can certainly use the sleep.

Henry is king of the feeder
Henry is king of the feeder

Fenceline weaning has its plusses; some people have a preference about whisking the babies totally away from all sight and sound of their mamas abruptly, and some prefer it this way. We did not have a whole lot of choice this time. Maybe we need to put the air conditioner on in the bedroom tonight. Hmm. Nice idea :*)

Fibery week

Silver Coopworth roving
Silver Coopworth roving
White Coopworth/Beigey Alpaca roving
White Coopworth/Beigey Alpaca roving

In addition to our lovely, fiber-filled weekend on the island, I have had a very fiber-filled week at home as well. Early in the week it was quite a surprise when I received an email from our fiber mill that part of the order I had sent in early in June, was finished. I can’t even say how surprised I was, and the next day two boxes arrived. Roving made up of white Coopworth fleece that had been mixed with some beigey alpaca from my husband’s cousin in North Jersey. It is much more beautiful than I even imagined!

Silver and brown Coopworth yarn, sport weight
Silver and brown Coopworth yarn, sport weight

But that is not even where it ended. All of the fleeces came back this past week. Part in roving, part in sport weight yarn. Wow. So now we have the white/beige roving; beautiful silvery-grey roving; silver sport weight yarn, and dark brown sport weight yarn. It’s amazing. Next job is to get to the washing of all the skeins. And then finding folks who want to share in some of the bounty!

Traveling Woman shawl
Traveling Woman shawl

On the knitting side of the week, I have gotten a tad farther on the Traveling Woman shawl that I started on Vinalhaven (using our farm sock wool that I dyed), and for some easier, social knitting, I began another Hitchhiker shawl with some Crazy Zauberball yarn. It’s very colorful and fun to work with.

New Hitchhiker shawl in progress
New Hitchhiker shawl in progress

Milking has officially recommenced

The white buckling with his brother jumping on him are SnowPea's little guys this year
The white buckling with his brother jumping on him are SnowPea’s little guys this year

SnowPea’s boys are amazingly cute, but they were more than ready to be weaned. I couldn’t milk their mama until they were, or gone. In the beginning when the babies are small, they don’t drink up all of their mother’s milk and I can get in there and get some uneven amounts. But once they are about a month old, there is no extra for us. So I had pretty much stopped doing any milking for the last 6 weeks.

SnowPea's boys were inseparable
SnowPea’s boys were inseparable

Yesterday the two boys went off to live in Jefferson to be weed control for a friend of ours. I am seriously hoping that it works out for them, so that late in the autumn they can go into the freezer for the winter. Many people euthanize bucklings as they are born. I just can’t really understand that practice, although we do goats on a very small scale and that makes a big difference. I may not make much money on our little bucks that probably won’t make the cut as breeders, but we try to set them up as feeder goats at the very least. It probably doesn’t make economic sense to keep them hanging around until they are butcher size, but if they don’t feed someone else, at least they go into our freezer.

I suspect that our receiving family may have had a noisy night last night. Their mama was calling loudly for her boys this morning, and she is still checking all corners to see where the they may be. But SnowPea is our best milker, and this morning she did not disappoint. I just wish we could get a doeling out of her someday. The only one she has ever had got tragically strangled in a feeder. We can hope again that next year she graces us with a female, but until then we shall certainly enjoy her milk.

Rest and retreat

Waiting for the ferry
Waiting for the ferry

Our little spinning/knitting getaway on Vinalhaven Island was a roaring success last Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as well as a much-needed recouping of positive energies.

The beginning of my knitted "Traveling Woman" shawl
The beginning of my knitted “Traveling Woman” shawl
Lineup on the porch
Lineup on the porch

Our little group always has a spectacular time, and we hands-down always have the best food. Too much, usually, and this trip was no exception, either. We did much cooking, spinning, knitting and a ton of laughing. We were almost sick the other night we laughed so long. But that’s what we needed, and to top it off, the weather was gorgeous! (The views out of every window and from the porch were spectacular as well, which doesn’t hurt!)

It was an amazing 4 days. Fantastic to be away, and good to be home again with husbands, grandchildren and extended families. And of course, I always miss my goatie crew :*)

What a view!
What a view!

 

Browning the goat for the curry
Browning the goat for the curry

The Deluge

Tesser during the deluge today
Tesser during the deluge today

Today was definitely Wet Wednesday. I don’t know how much rain we had, but during the night we had lightning that was too close for comfort, and at some point around 1:30 a.m., there was definitely a lightning strike in the neighborhood. Close. Even Tesser the Chihuahua zipped out from under the covers when that one hit. Everyone is waterlogged, but the weather sounds much better for the next 5 days or so. The paddocks are waterlogged and mucky beyond belief, but with the change in the weather, this should get better.

So at least tonight the rain has finally stopped, and our Treadler’s trip to Vinalhaven is all scheduled for tomorrow morning. I am very excited. I have to finish getting together my spinning and knitting projects, and will be ready and waiting in the morning. Nothing better. Spinning, knitting and great food, here we come!

July Pippi update

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Just general relaxation is ruling the morning so far. I had a chance to sit with the goats and enjoy the nibbling and requests for neck scratches and pats while doing chores, which is a nice way to start the weekend.

Thank you to everyone who has inquired about our Pippi’s health. She is doing very well these days and I believe she is up to her old self again. Pips is very aggressive at the feeder and does not walk away at all. Her babies are growing like weeds, which is also another good indication that she is doing well. I have made numerous attempts to get a video of her at the grain feeder because she grunts and talks to her food, which is very funny (she did not do this when she wasn’t feeling so great). But the shadows are not right, or the others get in the way, and I have not had any success yet. I did get a cute short video this morning of some of the kids at the feeder, and that is on my Instagram feed.

The weather has turned absolutely gorgeous and clear, and so cool last night that we had to close all the windows downstairs this morning! My favorite kind of summer weather. And the big excitement that’s brewing now that I have finished my professional development in Augusta: the 4 day annual spinner’s retreat next week :*) Vinalhaven Island, here we come!

*(I made a mistake in one of the photo captions: Henry is the black and white buck, but the brown buck checking Beezus out at the feeder is not named! He hopefully will be finding a new home in the near future)

A Week in Augusta

Michael Klahr Center, UM campus in Augusta
Michael Klahr Center, UM campus in Augusta

Unfortunately, I have been very out of touch this past week. As usual, I have been very busy, but in a different way for a change. I had signed up for a class on Teaching the Holocaust and Human Rights, at the very amazing Michael Klahr Center for Holocaust and Human Rights back in the spring, and along it came! I have been up in Augusta all week with a lot of amazing Maine teachers and librarians. It’s been a wonderful and exhausting week.

Klahr Center
Klahr Center

The Klahr center is part of the University of Maine at the Augusta campus. It’s housed in a beautiful building and run by some very exceptional people. It is a great resource not only for the state of Maine and its citizens, but particularly for its students. Today we had a viewing of their video presentation of “Were The House Still Standing,” which is much more than just a video, it is a multimedia presentation. It is also available for viewing online,* but in their rotunda theatre room, it is a totally different experience (3 screens, and another screen on the floor to one side, pretty amazing). This film covers the Jewish Holocaust experience, from the point of view of the survivors who came to Maine after the war, and of the native Maine G.I.s who took part in the liberation. It is a very moving experience, and one that I would highly recommend.

There are still quite a few Holocaust survivors who live in Maine and travel to speak with community and school groups. They are all reachable through the Klahr Center, and all worth inviting to your community or your school.

It’s been a great week, and we still have one more day. I am also looking forward to kicking back this weekend with the nice weather, but I also have a lot of new reading and material to dig into as well. I love to have a stack of books beckoning me!

*When using the Chrome browser I can only get the audio to play, but the audio AND video shows up just fine on Safari.

Blackout in Bug Central

Insects we like!
Insects we like!

It wasn’t even raining or blowing last night and just before 9, the lights flickered, and then went out. I had just poured myself a nice glass of wine, and was settling back to relax a little before bed. Luckily, the temperature had gone down a touch, so without the bedroom air conditioner on it was not totally sweltering, but the muggies have hit us hard here. John ended up cranking up the generator, so we stayed up for awhile and watched something silly on tv. Around midnight or a little later, all the lights came back on. Not too bad an outage, but it made for a broken up night.

Insects we do NOT like, in the windowsill
Insects we do NOT like, in the windowsill

During this past few weeks we have also been battling carpenter ants. It wasn’t enough that we had the Great Wool Moth Invasion, but we had to begin dealing with ants. There has been sawdust coming down in some of the crevasses where the timbers on our timberframe come together, and we have not really been able to see who is doing the munching. And then in every window, we have had these long, thin flying ants emerging, and by the time Wednesday came along, they were making short flights all over the place, landing in our coffee, crawling over the computer, and really just being a terrible nuisance everywhere! We tried those ant traps, and one of the not so terrible sprays for the window sills, but we finally had enough and I broke down and called the pest control people.

Finally seeing some Lunas. Nice bugs!
Finally seeing some Lunas. Nice bugs!

It was not as painful a process as I thought it would be. They puffed really finely ground powder made from pulverized chrysanthemums into all the window crevasses and around the doors, and put some kind of gel bait up for the mother lode of ants that are tunneling in our beautiful timbers. (Apparently the powder works a lot like diatomaceous earth). We have been watching all day today and have not seen even one living flying insect, except a giant rogue moth that must have gotten in last night. So I am very hopeful that this will be the answer to the invasion.

Now we are just battening down the hatches for the anticipated 2.5″ of rain that’s supposed to come tonight, courtesy of Tropical Storm Arthur. I can’t complain about it too much as we aren’t going to get hit full-on with the storm, but that much rain in one night makes such a mess in the paddocks. Yuck!

 

Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!

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