A forced vacation

Lucy, my sister in law's Jack Russell.  What a cutie!
Lucy, my sister in law’s Jack Russell. What a cutie!

Just as the school year was coming to a close, we got word that my mother in law was doing poorly again, in NJ.  Even though I still had two teacher days to go (the kids were out on Friday the 19th), we hastily threw stuff into a few bags, put Tesser the Chihuahua and her bed into the car, and took off on Saturday morning the 20th.

Needless to say, my sweet mother in law really was not doing well, and within a day she had been moved to a hospice room in a rehab center near my inlaw’s home.  Someone from the family was with her around the clock, and she struggled for too many days before giving in.  It was a very difficult time, and living away from home was difficult, although we were very comfortable with my sister in law and I certainly enjoyed having the time with her and our nephew and his fiancee.

Dot and flowers
Dot and flowers

And so the days went, and after she passed away there were a few days to wait for the wake and the funeral.  I had hoped to be able to come back to Maine and let our friend Roy have a bit of a break from the goat and pigeon care between Dot’s death and the funeral, but there wasn’t enough time.  So we stayed in North Jersey and as it turned out, there were a million things to do.  Being there allowed my sister in law to go back to work for a few days, and I was glad that we could be there to help out.  We live so far away, I am afraid that she gets the brunt of the care on a regular basis.

The family.
The family.

Even though it has been difficult losing someone that I have known and loved for 36 years, it is a fact that she had a good life.  I hope I can be as healthy at 90 as she was!  And of course, the other perk that we had was having some time with our family and old friends.  Sometimes it takes something out of our control to force situations like this.  And the thing that saved my sanity every day there was the midnight swim in my sister in law’s pool under a glass house.

And that was the beginning of my first weeks of vacation.  Let’s just hope that that is as exciting as this summer gets.

Wicked gorgeous weekend!

Moving the old pig hut
Moving the old pig hut

It really was.  We got a lot of farm work accomplished.  It was exhausting, but that’s the way it goes.  The weather cooperated, and we were hot out there, but luckily there was a nice breeze.

Boys in their new paddock
Boys in their new paddock

We have 4 paddocks separated by cattle panels and two of those areas have not been pressed into service for awhile.  One of them houses our gigantic compost pile, and one is farther back and grassy.  So we needed to move the ‘pig’ hut from the one, to the farthest.  We got the boys and Jingle into that area, and they are having a good time eating up the weeds and the grasses.

Pumpkin mounds going in
Pumpkin mounds going in

On Saturday a friend of ours came down and we were able to get the CDT shots done on the goat babies, plus some foot trimming.  Along with that, we planted our giant pumpkin plants and are crossing our fingers that we can prevent them from being eaten by deer.  And so it goes!  4 more school days until the kids are released and teachers have a few more after that, but not a big deal.

I can taste the summer, it’s close, but tonight we are in the 40’s and it was a day for sweaters and turtlenecks!  June 15th.  Gotta love it!

Turtle time again

Time to lay some eggs!
Time to lay some eggs!

We have rain again, and this is a good thing.  It’s Friday night and I am lazing around, listening to an audiobook and making some veggie burgers (unfortunately, they are falling apart, but they taste amazing!).

Here we are in June, and it’s turtle egg-laying time again!  The painted turtle moms are everywhere: digging in the driveway, by the back door, up by the goats.  This afternoon I walked into the hay/feed greenhouse, and there was a beautiful paint, nestled in between two of the feed cans.  I presume she was laying eggs, but with all the scrap hay and chaff around, it was difficult to see.  I went about my chore business, and she stayed there the whole time.

So round about the end of August we should be seeing tiny little turtles hauling themselves all over the property.  They say it is about a 10-week gestation, but I guess the whole thing depends upon the temperatures.  It’s an amazing and prehistoric cycle, and I think they particularly love our property as it is very sandy soil.  Maine has a lot of clay, but the front of our piece of land is more sand than clay.  And we have a little stream that runs through out back to the beaver pond, so there is a very conducive habitat for the little shelled creatures.  We love them!

Mealtime with SnowPea and Pippi's boy!
Mealtime with SnowPea and Pippi’s boy!

Ah well.  It’s been a long week.  The weekend is upon us and I am feeling relaxed.  Good to be home after the busyness of the week (we had an evening at the middle school for incoming 6th graders – book fair and other activities –  and then high school graduation night on Wednesday.  I am still not fully recuperated!).

Tomorrow my plan is to sleep-in a bit and then enjoy the beautiful weather!

Fiber Frolicking adventures

Beezus and our little man, having a moment at the rock (gratuitous goat photo)
Beezus and our little man, having a moment at the rock (gratuitous goat photo)

This past weekend was the annual Maine Fiber Frolic, and I did not have a vendor space this year.  I will be very honest:  I was thrilled not to have the frantic packing of the car on Thursday night, the frantic drive from work on Friday afternoon to set up, and then the two days of standing.  I love greeting people and chatting with them, but it’s still the work year for me and it’s an exhausting part of the year on top of the usual stuff.  (Last week I had all kinds of meetings, and our daily schedule began its topsy-turvy dive toward the end.  The high schoolers having their finals, the seniors having their marching practice, the middle schoolers getting ready for Community Studies field trips and a day of community service.)  It’s wonderful and crazy, and at the same time we are trying to get our libraries put in order and inventoried before the last day on the 19th.  But, enough of that, the weekend is what was so special!!!

Bergman beauty
Bergman beauty

Our friend Pam, of Hatchtown Farm, and I had a date to go to the Fiber Frolic just for the day on Sunday.  We were not in any hurry.  I had some extra fence-moving to do in the morning, and we really didn’t get on the road until 9-ish.  The Windsor fairgrounds are a perfect size, not too large, and when we got there we mosied across to the barns where the fleece sale and show is, and next door to this is the ‘used equipment’ area.  You probably can see where this is headed!  I never have a chance to get into the used equipment area when I am vending and have a booth to watch, so this was a voyeur’s treat (so I thought!).  We walked in and were greeted by a group of lovely volunteers we know, and they were all pointing us to the back of the barn area.  There stood a Bergman 8-harness countermarch loom, handmade in 1936!  Loom bench and a huge assortment of reeds were also with it.  It’s a compact, folding loom, unlike any I have ever seen.  I have read about Bergmans, but they were made out on the west coast and they are not thick on the ground out here in New England.

Well, my eyes just about popped out of my head!  I have been looking for a 4-harness counterbalance loom as that would have been all I could afford to buy new.  8 harnesses would have tipped me over the edge, and a countermarch is one step more wonderful (and more expensive) than the counterbalance!  I think my ears were ringing, I couldn’t really take it all in.  A wonderful weaver in the Maine community who is about to move to the west coast was waxing eloquent about it and showed me all kinds of things on the loom (which I am not sure that I will remember!), and I just fell in love with it.  To top off the amazing goodness of all this is the fact that the people who had it for sale didn’t want to have to take it home on Sunday afternoon, so they had lowered the price to something so amazingly affordable that I couldn’t pass it up.  Mama mia!

But that is only when the adventure began!  I didn’t go to the Fiber Frolic thinking that I was going to buy a loom, and after handing over my check, Pam and I took in the Frolic sites, visited all of our vendor friends, had lunch, and headed back to the used equipment barn and decided to get started on packing up the loom and getting my Subaru Forester loaded.  Other friends, Mudd and Esther Sharrigan (vendors – Nordic Weevs), helped by scraping up a bunch of baling twine to tie up the folding ends of the loom so we could move it without something swinging loose and breaking.  (And Mudd came over and stayed with us, helped with the tie-up, and generally oversaw the action).  Then the fair staff brought their little 4-wheeler and trailer in and we got this extremely solid and heavy loom out of the barn, and I backed my car up.  Hmm.  And that is where it all hit the fan!  Not really much of a shock: I was thinking positively, but not very analytically about the size of the new baby!

If it weren’t for another friend, Tracy, I am really not sure what I would have done.  She didn’t think it would fit into her Toyota Sienna van if it didn’t go into my Subaru, but it fit perfectly, so Pam and I drove it back home, John helped us unload it into the driveway, and then we went back to the fairgrounds, now quite empty, dropped the van off for Tracy, and then headed home with all the loom accoutrements in my car.  Phew!  That was a close one.  But I am over the moon about the loom, and even though it needs some serious dusting and wood treatment, it is a gem.  I don’t usually have such good luck with things like this.  What a great adventure and a wonderful day!

The absolute bestest part about all of this is that my summer break is only two weeks away, so I will have all the time I need to get this beauty cleaned up and humming.

(Shh.  I am not going to think about what it’s going to take to get it out of the living room and up into the loft).

Project and rain

Warping board hanging from the window frame.  Outside it is pouring rain
Warping board hanging from the window frame. Outside it is pouring rain

Rain has finally come to Maine.  After all of that snow melted so beautifully and slowly, I couldn’t imagine that we would end up in such a dry spell.  (It was lovely, though, as mud season was almost a non-event this year!).  Since early Sunday morning we have had pretty steady rain, and it’s back in the 40s again.  But we needed it.

Closeup of one of my warp bundles.  Lovely colors!
Closeup of one of my warp bundles. Lovely colors!

When Sunday turned into a day of steady downpours, I took the time to ignore house cleaning and went upstairs and measured off a warp for some towels that I have been planning to weave since last summer.  Waffle weave towels, which are one of my favorites.  I am using cottolin, which I have never woven with before.  So I have hopes of some nice time on the loom in the coming weeks.  If I can get this warped over the weekend, maybe I can start on it sooner rather than later!

Goatie non grata

Banished from the main feeder, Beezus sits alone.  :*(
Banished from the main feeder, Beezus sits alone. :*(

Having learned the hard way many years ago, I always keep a goatie family member for every goat (among the girls).  No one in the paddock doesn’t have either a mother/daughter or a sister there at all times.  I don’t know if it’s documented, but in a herd as small as ours, the odd girl out gets picked-on mercilessly, and constantly.  It’s painful to watch, and dangerous. The recipient who is chased around the feeders and bounced off fences is not a happy goat, and we want happy goaties.

Beezus looking around before going into the grain feeding catch pen.
Beezus looking around before going into the grain feeding catch pen.

My little plan backfires, however, when one of the companions has new babies.  This is the situation right now for our girl Pippi.  Her yearling, Beezus, is now not even welcomed by Pippi herself (and Beezy wasn’t big enough to be bred last fall).  I know that this, too, shall pass, but it bothers me.  And the other goats all notice; no moss growing on them!  And they then pick on her as well.  I had to intervene the other afternoon when Zelda was pursuing Beezy around the pen.  Zelda would just not stop!

Pippi’s babies are not destined to hang around.  They will probably go to freezer camp late in the fall, or early winter.  But while she is nursing them, there will be no peace for Beezus.  Sad goatie girl.  She sits alone, and has to watch her back.  Sigh.

11 or 12 weeks until weaning isn’t the end of the world, but it definitely gives me one more thing to watch over.

Green time

Early morning in the paddocks
Early morning in the paddocks

We now have enough green on the trees and on the ground that it actually looks more like spring!  Doesn’t feel too much like spring right now (it’s in the 40s), although they are saying tomorrow might feel almost like a warm, humid day.  I love this period in spring when all the trees are a different shade of light green, some have blossoms, and some are red-budded.  Of course, my tree allergies are terrible right now, but it’s worth it for the warming up/greening up to finally be here.

Mamas and babies
Mamas and babies

Yesterday I set up some fence panels that allows the girl goatie group access to the back paddock, which is lush with all kinds of new clover and grass. The access is gated, and we only let them in there for an hour or so late yesterday afternoon.  I gave them their full morning hay and grain ration this morning, and this afternoon I let them in there again.  The babies had an awful lot of fun running down the access lane and back.  They have become a little baby herd unto themselves, finally.  I shall have to try and get a video, they are ever so cute.

Sunset from the back of the house
Sunset from the back of the house

The early morning and sunset skies have been compliantly dramatic and beautiful.  I seem to have more photos of that on my iPhone than anything else these days.  When I go back to work on Tuesday we start the big end of year countdown.  4 weeks to go, with a million things like graduation and book fairs all rolled up in there.  I am definitely enjoying the quiet of our 3 day weekend.

Disbudding on a beautiful spring afternoon

Dr. Julie Greenlaw
Dr. Julie Greenlaw with our little bucky boy

Today we had another visit from the vet, and it was a beautiful afternoon for it.  Pippi’s two little Mother’s Day kids needed the disbudding treatment.  Their little horns had not sprouted as quickly as the earlier babies’ had, so we have been keeping Dr. Greenlaw posted.  Today was the day, and even then, I wasn’t sure that the little doeling was ready.  We keep tabs on how the horn buds are growing, and hers have been barely perceptible.  In the last few days, however, they did begin to blossom.

And thankfully, both were good candidates.  Dr. Greenlaw’s approach is very calm, and they get an anti-inflammatory shot and a tiny bit of sedation, plus a block around the horn buds.  No struggling and screaming is a good thing for everyone!  Then they get their tetanus anti-toxin shot, and all’s good.  We don’t put them back into the pen with the others until they are alert and ready to roll.  The doeling didn’t take long to come around from the sedation and she screamed in my ear and struggled so hard to get back to mama that I almost lost hold of her.  She is a little tiger in a goat kid’s body, that one.

I will take a walk up to see how they are doing in a little bit, and then I will be able to check off one more milestone in the spring line-up.  Things are greening up nicely now, and I have to admit that as much as I hate the heat, I am ready for it this year!  I think a lot of us are still in shock from the harshness of this past winter.  A little sweat will do us good :*)

The Busyness of summer

Pippi's babies having some fun
Pippi’s babies having some fun

Is beginning!  Even though it doesn’t feel like almost summer right now, 50F and drizzly and foggy.  We desperately need the rain, as the snow melt goodness has long gone.  This was probably the easiest mud season in the paddocks that I have experienced since living here.

Bones of the greenhouse
Bones of the greenhouse

Since the babies have all come and are thriving and doing well, now it’s down to business.  I spent a lot of the weekend moving green panels.  One of our greenhouses, the one that looks like dinosaur bones hanging out up on a rise, needs to come down.  The supports are sliding off the pad that John put down many years ago.  (It was never wide enough to really do the job, and as we have found to our dismay, even on a flat, hard gravel pad, the supports splay after a few years which makes the covers tear, and the zippers break, etc.).  If we put it up again, it needs to have a frame for the supports to fit into so it can’t sag with age.  I had to block it off to the goats for now as I don’t want the babies going up there and jumping over the side panels into the lower paddock, 8 -10 feet below.  I keep hoping that I can get some kind of a real building going, and soon! Have to get planning on that one and toss around for someone with knowledgeable help.  Builders we are definitely not.

I always have a list a mile long of things to accomplish over the summer, and this year is no different.  The last day of school is Friday, June 19th, and then the work begins.




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


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 192 other followers