And we are off

Spinning
Spinning

Into retirement, which still does not feel like retirement!  It feels like most of my summer breaks, although I am not on a roll trying to fit all the “fun” things into a very short time span, and am enjoying the lovely summer we are actually having in coastal Maine this year.

Lots of milk!
Lots of milk!

I am now into milking, cheesemaking, training pigeons, and spending as much time with our grandson as possible.  We love to swim and go to the beach, so that’s been a lot of fun.  I am trying to get myself into a productive schedule, but have not succeeded yet.  That extra cup of coffee on the back steps, smelling the ocean air, is too powerful to resist.  I have not gotten much done upstairs where I need to get going on organizing the fiber space.  But I have been doing some spinning on a beautiful wool/mohair blend from Friends Folly Farm.  My eczema got really bad toward the end of the schoolyear with all the stress, so I couldn’t handle fiber for awhile.  But my hands are almost all better, and I am trying to get to a little fiber every day.

And so it goes.  Delightful!

 

 

Almost there

Fergus
Fergus

Sorry to have been away for so long, but things at work have been cranking.  It’s the end of the school year as well as the end of my work career.  Wow!

Saffron waits patiently
Saffron waits patiently

And so it goes.  The goat kids are growing like hot cakes and the weather is getting more beautiful every day.  It’s almost summer, and I can hardly wait!

Tomorrow should be my last day at work.  I will be breathing more easily after that.

Whew!

Fergus and Mama Pickles

Mama and boy
Mama and boy

Fergus, our last kid born, is doing really well.  His mama, Pickles, is a great mother, and is doing her goat mama thing.  Having had a single baby, I was concerned about her udder.  Little Fergus has only been nursing from one side, so I had to empty the left side of her udder for a few days.  She was not very happy about that, but in the past day or so, Fergus has realized that there is more than one spigot available!  Great kid, Fergus!

Right after Fergus was born, I emailed the vet and asked if we could have a visit very soon, as Fergus was born with horn buds ready to go.  We had a few hiccups in connecting with each other, but she was finally able to get here and take care of that.  We had her do our little white doeling as well, although she was enough older that I think it did not totally get the buds off.  It may inhibit the horn growth, however.  Disbudding with an iron is very tricky business, and it’s easy to kill a kid by being too aggressive, so I leave that to the vets.

We got quite a bit done this weekend, and this drizzly Memorial Day morning is a lazy one for me.  I am going to have another cup of coffee and decide what i need to pull together a nice dinner.  The ingredients of the day are eggplant and chicken.  Lots of possibilities there!

 

Pickles picks the perfect day

New boy on the farm
New boy on the farm

Our yearling doe, Pickles, chose wisely.  She really didn’t look ready to kid today at all, but first-timers can fool just about all of us!  I did chores, checked her carefully, and her udder looked a little tiny bit bigger, but nothing serious.  We took our grandson to our favorite breakfast place, and then scooted up the hill to our pigeon racing friend’s house to watch his birds come in from a race.  He and his wife had driven and released the club’s birds in Massachusetts, and he wanted to make sure they all registered on the clock (we have no old birds flying this spring).  We saw the first 7 or 8 pigeons come in a little after 9:30, and then I got a call from my son that we had baby touchdown.  So I raced home to take care of seeing that the little guy got his Bo-Se shot (to prevent white muscle disease) and his little umbilical cord dipped in iodine, plus a weight.

Mama is taking good care of her boy
Mama is taking good care of her boy

Pickles is a medium-sized doe, but not the biggest, and she birthed a 7.75 lb buckling with no trouble.  She is definitely SnowPea’s daughter!  Our little buck definitely has the Guernsey genes (his father, Reddog, is almost pure Guernsey, his mother is 1/4 Alpine, 3/4 Lamancha).  Sigh.  This day has not disappointed!

Tired out from being the new boy in town
Tired out from being the new boy in town

I am really not sure if anyone else out there is bred, but this morning I just happened to be standing behind Pickles’ sister Sassafrass, and one side of her udder is round and full.  I don’t know if this is just a copycat of what Pickles had last fall, an udder that was filling without any pregnancy, or if Sassafras is really bred and might be cooking a baby in there!  I guess only time will tell, or I can draw blood and do a pregnancy check.  If I still don’t know by mid to late June, I may just do that.  The one thing I am pretty sure of is that none of the goats are likely to be kidding before then, if they are bred, so I will be out of school if things should look promising!  All of us can get a good night’s sleep for awhile now :*)

Keeping busy

First walk through the herd for the new babies
First walk through the herd for the new babies

Not difficult on a farm in the spring.  Pippi’s babies are doing very well, and they are growing like weeds.  We let them out of the jug on Monday morning, and it’s one of my favorite things to watch as the mama and babies get introduced back into the herd.  Always entertaining!  Pippi takes her job very seriously, and she warned everyone off of her babies.  She can be a bit of a barnyard bully, but in this case, it’s definitely a necessity!

Half gallon of Pippi milk!
Half gallon of Pippi milk!

Because the new babies are still smallish, they are not emptying Pippi’s udder very efficiently, and of course they always have a favorite side!  So the left side of Pippi’s bag was staying much larger than the right.  I took advantage of that, and got her on the milking stand yesterday afternoon.  She is a trooper, and gave me a lovely half gallon of milk.  I won’t be able to depend on this amount, because as the kids grow, they nurse much more efficiently.  But it’s a start.

Fencing and the old livestock greenhouse
Fencing and the old livestock greenhouse

Over the weekend we also got some fencing done.  One of our greenhouses has to come down, but I had based some paddock perimeters on the greenhouse and had fencing attached (never a good idea, but it worked at the time).  I had not been allowing any one in there as I have no cover for that greenhouse, and it’s really kind of in an awkward spot.  So we got our alternate fencing up, which always takes longer than I think.  But it’s a big job and I am kind of past wielding a sledge hammer and pounding 7′ T-posts in to the ground, so I was happy to have my son’s help.  (I used to stand on the step ladder and pound away.  Not in my plans anymore).

Pippi's kids are so tall!
Pippi’s kids are so tall!

And so it goes.  We are waiting on Pickles to have her kids.  She is due on Saturday.  She didn’t look quite ready yet this morning, although she is getting there.  First-timers can really surprise you.

Looking forward to a mostly beautiful weekend.  Full of goat babies, I hope!

Pippi delivers the goods

Pippi's twins
Pippi’s twins

I don’t think that Pippi has ever had her kids at night.  She always goes into labor early in the day and by evening everyone is settled for the night.  I am convinced that she waited until darkness yesterday because the black flies were so intent upon carrying every living thing away, and she couldn’t stand it until dark when they go into hiding!

Little Spot the buckling
Little Spot the buckling

And so we have a new buck and doe.  Half Saanen, half Lamancha.  They are beautiful little goaties!  They are both white, but the little buck has a black spot on his left cheek.  His grampie, Elvis the crazy white Lamancha, was all white with two little spots of black on his left side.  Funny how those things come out.

Anyhow, the doe was 9.25 lbs and the buck was 8.5.  Everything went very well, and they are resting in their greenhouse pen.  They had a lazy day today, but are looking strong and healthy.  The little doe is always ready to cuddle, and the little buck is constantly teasing his sister.

And so we have one more doe to go (Pickles), and if anyone else is pregnant, we won’t know until later.  Maybe Reddog did manage to breed some of the girls and we will be happily surprised!

 

Pippi’s up

Pippi needs a rest
Pippi needs a rest

It’s just about that time!  Pippi the bruiser is due tomorrow.  We have been calling her Pippi Saddlebags for quite awhile now, as she look like she is carrying a suitcase on both sides.  She is front-loading right now, hasn’t stopped stuffing her face for the last day or two.  She always does this…  We go out at 9:30 or 10 PM and she is still up scarfing all the leftover hay that everyone else has turned their backs on.  She knows she needs some serious energy right now, so she is taking care of business.

Guernseys are loving the warm weather
Guernseys are loving the warm weather

And so it goes.  More adorable babies on the way, I hope!  Tomorrow it’s supposed to be sunny and 70F.  Perfect!  We gave Pippi a pep talk tonight and let her know that tomorrow would be the perfect  time.

We shall see.  We play more of the waiting game.  And in the meantime we are fighting off the Attack of the Blackflies.  It’s almost the perfect time of year as far as the weather goes, and the darn flies have to ruin it  :*/

May grey

View of Mohegan Island from lighthouse park, on a much more pleasant day than we are seeing this week!
View of Mohegan Island from lighthouse park, on a much more pleasant day than we are seeing this week!

Not sure if we have had any sun since May 1st!  It sure feels like we have not.  It’s grey, overcast and damp.  The good part of this has been that we are getting a little of the rain that we need, but in-between, we have not seen the sun.  Complain, complain, grump, grump.  It’s been really bone-chilling damply cold at work, probably because the heat is already turned off!

Pickles is speaking her mind!
Pickles is speaking her mind!

Well, we are getting there, but I suspect that one day soon we will wake up and it will feel like summer, and we will walk around complaining that we had no spring…  just winter into summer.  That’s Maine, for you!

Pippi is popping
Pippi is popping

But the days are flying by now.  We are waiting on the next two goats to kid, one next week, and one the week after.  Pippi is due next and she looks big as houses!  We are calling her ‘Saddlebags.’  Poor thing is waddling, but she still finds the time and energy to boss the other goats around at the feeder.  Pickles the yearling is the next up after Pippi, and I am hoping that she has a single.  (Pippi has never had a single, she just keeps popping out those twins!).

And so it goes.  28 work days to go :*)

End of the week

Tesser leering at me from in front of the wood stove
Tesser leering at me from in front of the wood stove

And so it goes!  Going, going and gone.  The last moments of my last vacation are upon me.  It has been a good week, quite productive, and if I must do my Puritanical inventory, I did get a lot accomplished.  Not as much as was on my list, but it was good.

It’s funny, but in the last year or so, looking down the barrel of retirement, I have tried to set myself up for all the things that I want to do.  Spinning, knitting, weaving, felting, sewing.  Guernsey goats and lots of cheese and milk.  I have found one of my dream looms (the Bergman), and gotten involved in my dream goat breed, the Golden Guernseys.

My new little companion
My new little companion, a 1953 Featherweight

As far as the sewing goes, I have been planning on doing quite a bit of sewing with Maine Fiberarts, as well as with other friends who are good with fabric and machines.  But I have a 1951 Singer in a cabinet that is heavy as all get-out.  And so I have been searching very off-handedly for a Singer Featherweight for the last 6 months or so.  Unbelievably, I found one on Craig’s List this past week (and it was not priced out of my reach).  My husband and I were able to meet with the very nice lady who was selling it.  We met at Barnes and Noble in Augusta yesterday morning.  What a great little machine!  I am looking forward to many happy hours with her.

 

April vacay week

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My last April vacation week ever!  The best part?  The Peepers are back!  (I love those little guys and wait for them each spring).

Otherwise, the weather has totally cooperated, and there was a lot of activity around here.  I really wanted to do some fun things with friends, but I also really needed to get some house and paddock work done.

Pemaquid Point lighthouse today
Pemaquid Point lighthouse today

Today my son and I did some alternative cattle panel fencing and gate moving for the boy goats and Jingle the donkey.  That took awhile, and afterward we ran an errand, and kept going down to Pemaquid Point lighthouse.  It was a fantastically beautiful day.  The sun was warm, the breezes were stiff, and the sky was as blue as ever.  We ended up in Damariscotta to make a Reny’s run, and then I went to the chiropractor.  After that, I had a lovely rest in the sun and I got some reading in.  Spent some time this afternoon with the goats, and then took a lovely bath.

Most of the week has been organizing and cleaning out spaces like the mudroom (ugh!).  We are selling one of our giant chest freezers, and it took the day on Tuesday to clean out, organize and re-assign items to other freezers.  But it’s done!

Yesterday I spent the day in Portland with some friends, and we had a fantastic lunch at Paciarino, then went to Standard Baking Company, Micucci’s Italian grocery, and then to Trader Joe’s.  Exhausting but fun!

Tomorrow will prove to be somewhat boring.  I still have to clean out and re-organize the lower pantry cupboard cabinets in the mudroom.  It will be a relief to get it done and over with, however!  There is much more organizing to do in the house, but this was a great start.  And the week isn’t over yet, so more fun to come, I hope!

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

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