We have had a lot of unnaturally warm weather this November and I have to say that I have been enjoying it.  It’s not winter yet, but the brilliance of October has definitely gone past.  I always feel as if I want to hold onto those brightly colored leaves on the skyline, but when the leaves are down and it’s not really winter yet, there is a certain feeling of expectancy, first of the Thanksgiving holiday to come, and then of the winter.  I have been thinking about that as I do chores and am enjoying even these gray Northeast skies, the clouds and the birds.  It didn’t seem like something I would bother to blog about, but I happened to visit the blog of one of my favorite children’s authors, Cynthia Lord of Brunswick, Maine, and I just had to put a link to her beautiful and simply written thought about November, as well as the other in-between months that come to us in northern climates between the drama of the 4 seasons.  Here it is:  The Concept of November.  Thank you Cynthia!

Butchers and a Local Thanksgiving harvest

Wow, it’s Sunday and it’s still sunny and warm. I am reveling in being at home for the day and  am recuperating from the back to back trips to butchers:  Friday night a trip to the butcher in Albion to pick up the fresh pork cuts from our pigs, and a 200+ mile round-trip yesterday to Dover-Foxcroft to pick up our lamb and goat meat from that butcher.  It feels wonderful to have gotten that taken care of before Thanksgiving, but I am bone-tired.  I wish I had taken a photo of the back of my Subaru crammed with boxes covered with blankets, towels and those heavy moving blankety things.  I rode with most of the windows open as it was a really warm day yesterday and was afraid of the 2.5 hour ride.  But between the cardboard and all the coverings, the meat was fine and still frozen solid.  It was great to get this taken care of.  Now all we wait for is the smoked pork cuts like the bacon and the hams.  Yum!  Can’t wait :*)

Gotta love a freezer full of home-grown meat!

I am not so very ready for Thanksgiving however, except that I did order a turkey and while cleaning out one of the freezers, I came across my back-up supply of locally grown cranberries.  Well, grown in Maine cranberries!  That’s two items taken care of.  I want to make Thanksgiving as close to a locavore meal as I can this year.  Coffee, olive oil, sugar and flour can’t count, I guess, as I don’t think I can get that here in Maine yet, although the flour is going to be possible in the near future.  We have our own potatoes, onions, milk, goat cheese, italian sausage for the stuffing, turkey from nearby, cranberries from Maine, eggs from friends (? Hatchtown???), and maybe instead of a pumpkin pie I need to make one with our butternut squashes.  It might work.  Hmmm. I am going to give it a try.

Weather. And Meteors

As everyone else has pointed out this week, the weather couldn’t be nicer.  Decidedly unusual for this time in November, the week before Thanksgiving.  I am still trying to get over the sinus infection and feeling a little draggy, but the worst of it is being at work and looking out that window and imagining all the wonderful things I could be doing at home on the farm!  Scooping poop, moving the sheep one last time out in the pasture, dyeing skeins, planting the garlic, you know :*)

But the highlight of my week was on Monday night and early Tuesday morning:  the Leonid meteor showers.  I didn’t have the energy to do what our neighbors did (get up in the middle of the night), but between 6:30 and 7:30 on Monday night during chores, and then again on Tuesday morning during the 5 a.m. chore hour, I saw plenty.  I always look forward to the Perseids in August, but this past summer it was too cloudy that week.  So we have to be content with this show.  What a hardship to live in such a beautiful place with such a great expanse of sky!

Garden remainders

A truly gorgeous day out today.  It was 40 F when I got up this morning, and although it’s breezy, it’s beautiful.  I wish we didn’t have erranding to do, I would much rather be working outdoors!

As I was walking in from chores, my eye was caught by this lovely volunteer that is thriving near the parsley and the dried up cucumber vines in the vegetable garden, and I just had to take a picture.

Volunteer pansies in the vegetable garden

Since I stopped to admire the pansies, my eye was caught by the other garden denizen that is looking kind of exotic and special.  John had tied one or two of these plants up as they were sprawling all over.  One of my most favorite vegetables!  (Sorry the picture isn’t a little more distinct, the little berries (?) on the plant are so eye-catching!)

Autumn view of one of the the asparagus plants

Snow and pork

Bear and Josie footprints on the back steps yesterday morning

Snowy morning yesterday.  Day for loading up the piggles.  Usually we have them getting acquainted with the trailer for two or three days before the big day, but John was having some trouble with the wiring… so it was dark before the trailer gate was closed, but we could hear them happily sucking up the last of the evening’s milk and burrowing in the straw.  One more yearly task can be checked off of our list and, as the winter approaches, at least the chore load is diminishing!  And think of all that lovely pork in the freezer :*)

Speaking of goats…

With all this talk about sheep breeding groups, I have left our poor LaMancha dairy goats out of the equation.  Even though we have very flexible fencing and paddock areas, I have been scratching my head over how to get the goats together as a group with a buck, and just let them get down to business.  That’s what we have done in the past few years and it works like a charm.

The young guns hope to be picked for the next doe!

Traditionally, instead of keeping a buck, most goat keepers get their girls to another farm and pay to have the does bred as they come into heat.  It’s problematic for us, since we both work and can’t just drop everything to get them to another farm, so we obviously need to keep a buck around. But with only a small pen inside the greenhouse available, we decided to wait until we saw signs of a doe in heat (difficult to miss with most!!!) and then put them into the pen with the chosen buck, let them have a day together, and then put them back in their usual grouping. When I wake up in the middle of the night and hear a doe calling, and come out in the morning to her plastered up against the fence, bleating and wagging her tail like a frantic flagger at the boys, it’s a pretty clear sign! This has worked for most of them, but Elf and Rhubarb may have silent heats.  I haven’t caught them yet.  So all but those two have been bred.

Elvis was extremely laid back and easy-going last year after we got him in with the does.  Like the year before, when we had Stinky Pete, everyone was happy and well-mannered.  I was able to walk amongst them with no trouble, feed them, check on them, etc., no problem.  Well that was then, and boy, this is now!  Elvis was fine until he had a visit with 2 does and then had to go back into the buck/ram pen.  His world came to an end, and he lets us know it, every time we are out there.  Oh my!  And after he went to the trouble of peeing all over his face and rubbing it in the dirt… all dressed up and nowhere to go!  He has decided that I am the cause of his frustration, so I can’t go into their paddock anymore… he jumped on me and almost knocked me down, making chortling noises the whole time.  Do I look like a doe?  After milking, I may smell like one to him maybe!  No one I know can stop laughing….

Elvis lets his son, Bud, in on the secrets of life!

Leafy contrast

It always happens when I am not looking.  It seems as though just yesterday (or the day before maybe) that this is what the tree line looked like at the bottom of the pasture field at our friend’s house:

Color in the pasture

I went down to the field yesterday to visit our little group there and this is what greeted me:

No-leaf zone

Always a surprise! No leaves already…