We do not have a barn, so everything we do on the farm is done in a series of small greenhouses with heavier, more opaque covers than the usual plant greenhouse. I milk our goats in one of them, and while I milk I hum a little, talk to the goat in question, and look around. I was not pleased last week to see this near the top of one of the supporting arch posts of the greenhouse, 5 or 6 feet away from the milking stand and our little operation:
I am a huge Star Wars fan, and like Leah, Han and Luke, was not overly pleased to see this under construction! I am not a fan of whitefaced hornets, or bald-faced hornets as they are called. It’s a beautiful little structure, but not welcome near our milking goats as they are tethered to the milk stand! I have been watching this thing for awhile now and told my husband that I don’t believe it’s active anymore. I milk twice a day and I spend quite a bit of time in there… no action. Until last evening as Sock Monkey was giving her all, I saw one crawl in there. I couldn’t believe that it would fit when it landed, as it is very small still, but it went right in. I was able to take a picture of the creature in there, and amazingly enough it’s visible in the picture!
I know that young wasps are being raised in there, but I am curious as to why the whole paper structure isn’t being enlargened by the hornets. If Darth Vader were still around I am sure it would be turning into a monster of a hive!
OK, I know that I was raised in the suburbs and have had a few things to get used to in the course of raising sheep and goats. You know, difficult lambings, mud up to your knees when we have springs like this one (!), dealing with maggoty fly-strike in a favorite ram, heavy hay bales, driving rain and sleet, knowing when to say goodbye to your favorite ewe, milking goats at 4:30 on schooldays, etc. Sometimes my husband (who grew up in a community that was farming at the time) says, “I didn’t think you’d be able to do that!” and I just think that you never know what you are capable of until you try.
There is one thing that I don’t think I will ever get used to, no matter how long we live here and farm. I think it’s a primal sort of a reaction that I just can’t seem to get past. The “S” word. I know that they are not a dangerous population around here, but I can’t help being startled and getting a total shiver when one pops out at me. Yup. Snakes! AARGH! Baby rat snakes and garter snakes are beautiful in their own way (when I think about them intellectually)… but when they pop out of a hay bale that I have just picked up I tend to react more viscerally (you know, yelling, dropping the bale, and hopping around) until it’s gone someplace else… anyplace else, as long as it’s away from me. Shiver, shiver!
I really appreciate the fact that the snakes are living there in the greenhouse, as I presume they are well-fed on the mouse population and are keeping them at bay, but I use my trusty rake before I grab a bale these days! When it’s time to grab a new bale, I use the rake to pull it off the pile and then I smack it a few times with the back of the rake head to wake any sleepy serpents, while loudly saying things like: Get up you lazy guys and get cracking! You aren’t catching any mice just lying around in that cushy bale! It *almost* never fails.
The schoolyear for us officially ended yesterday! Oh my, I am tired. It’s been a busy week so far, even without adding school into the mix. Our yearling doe Rhubarb surprised us a little early with two beautiful bucklings late on Sunday afternoon. Of course, Sunday afternoon it was raining buckets, but our Rhubarb had her boys tidily tucked behind her, and when I got out there to do evening chores, they were both dry and fed. Their little tummies were very full, and one of them was dozing on his feet… I guess he figured it had taken him a bit of energy to get up onto those silly legs, he wasn’t going to give up yet!
One of the boys has been named Batty due to the fact that he has protruding ears (hardly noticeable, I know!) which are the “elf” type ear that LaMancha goats can have. His brother has been dubbed Bud, as he has the “rosebud” type ears. Other than one being slightly darker than the other in coloring, the ears are the best way to tell these calm and gorgeous boys apart. And I guess that I need to get a picture of Bud in here. Wouldn’t want to give Batty all the p.r.!
Now, we just have one more yearling doe who is almost ready to kid… We’re waiting, Snow Pea!
Time is flying when you are trying to finish up the schoolyear and are also getting ready for the yearly Maine Fiber Frolic! We had a great weekend for the fair. Lots of great folks came by to say hello and fondle our fibers!
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!