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!

 

Hay day

Hay stacked in the greenhouse
Hay stacked in the greenhouse

I wish that I had the energy and strength I had even three or four years ago. The hay man did come yesterday, and sweet man that he is, did most of the unloading and stacking in the greenhouse. I maybe carted and stacked one for every four that he did. Pathetic!

Of course, I did do a lot of greenhouse clean-out before he even came, so I was already on my way to heat stroke when he arrived (I had to run back to the house and dunk my head in the sink, it’s amazing how well that works!). While we were unloading, the ocean breeze finally kicked in, and that definitely helped. But inside the greenhouse, even though it is an opaque cover, it is many degrees hotter as you can imagine! Us folk up in the northern tier of states are such weenies when it comes to heat, and add in the humidity and we are really toast. I took it easy the rest of the day and we made sure to turn on the bedroom AC around dinnertime :*)

Summer days

Goat shadows
Goat shadows

Are definitely here. The heat is edging up, and today the humidity is rolling in. And of course, our hay man called yesterday to say that he is coming late this morning with 90 bales. Going to be quite the hot time in the green house!

One of SnowPea's growing boys!
One of SnowPea’s growing boys!

As far as the goats go, we had a little quality time on Sunday morning, when I penned everyone and did some worming and vaccines (not their favorite thing to do, I may say!). Toward the end of the schoolyear I got a little messed up on my calendar, so I missed the correct date for the second CD&Ts for a few of the babies, so I think I will be giving those kids a third in about three weeks. And having given the calendar a good once over, I will now be thinking about moving some of these babes along!

Still washing wool

A nearly perfect summer day
A nearly perfect summer day

I am sorry to have been absent for this past week. My husband had a little medical scare, so I was busier than I had imagined I would be during this first week of school vacation. I think things are pretty much back to normal now, so I am continuing to wash skeins and skeins of wool. Fallout from the Great Wool Moth Invasion of 2014.  Eek. The only way to make sure that no eggs are left alive in wool is to wash them at a certain temperature water with soap. So I am. It’s not a heinous project, as I enjoy being home now that school is out. The weather has been perfect: breezy and not too hot. Just right. I have gotten a slew of stuff done since last Friday, and I can say that I am on the winning end of the deal at this point. And, as a bonus, in the big cleanout I came across a box of some handspun that I am very happy to have found!

Wet handspun
Wet handspun

Aside from the wool, the goats are offering up some very good entertainment, even though Bagels tripped me Tuesday night and I think I sprained a finger on my right hand. (I had my hand through his collar and he wanted to go one way, I was going the other way, and we landed in a heap, jamming my fingers in the process.) Ah well, such is the life. But in general, when I am home during the day, I can open up the goat paddock to a very weedy, grassy area, so they are going great guns on that. We have a loam pile right in the middle of this area and the kids are very engaging as they jump and do back flips onto and off the pile. The best King of the Mountain game yet!

This weekend looks totally gorgeous, and I am looking forward to the good weather. More haying on the schedule, I think.

Haytime

haytimeWe are a little late, as usual. The hay down in the field was ready two weeks ago, but last week John finally got the equipment working and got cutting. Of course, we had gotten 2.5″ of rain two or three days before that, and I don’t think John knew how wet things were going to be. And then the equipment went down, which we could have predicted! The vintage of our haying equipment averages from the mid 1960s if we are lucky. But it’s solid stuff, and with a parts machine or two, John can usually get things moving again.

hayfield
hayfield

Yesterday he worked almost all day on the tedder. And then today he finished up mooching parts from another one, and off he went to tedder, winrow and bale. I went down this afternoon with the pickup truck to start going up and down the rows so that he could throw the bales in. I can take them off the truck, but have trouble throwing them up into it. I guess I am too short for the F-350!  Luckily, he called some folks from work and they came down to help us load it up and haul it off to storage. It’s mulch hay, so it’s not coming to our animals. Hopefully in the future we will be making it for ourselves.

So another weekend has come and gone, and tomorrow is my real first day of not working, and since John is going to work, it will feel like it’s really summer.

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

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