Thank you, Madeleine L’Engle

Guinea hens at work

For one of my favorite books in the world:  A Wrinkle in Time.  And I know it’s far-fetched, but our three guinea hens are named after the 3 wise women or witches in the book.  Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which.  They are all that are left of our brood of 16.  Mrs. Which, the last one in line, is sporting a broken right leg, thanks to the last dog attack that these hens survived.  To have lasted this long, hopefully they are the smart ones (!) and they seem to know where to go to get shelter and to get the food that I leave for them, as well as scrounging for the leftover grain that the sheep and goats leave.  They are very funny and when they aren’t around I miss them and their calling.

When we got the keets as day-old chicks they were quite the challenge.  They were able to get out of almost any enclosure, and right at the start Josie the Jack Russell ate one that had escaped.  She went on to have a field day with the guineas, and whittled their numbers down to just 5.  They weathered another attack by a local dog, and Mrs. Which ended up with a mangled leg.  And so we have the 3.  I leave feed for them in one of the greenhouses and they do take advantage of it.  They roost in by the sheep in one of the other greenhouses and are on the move during the day through the weeds and the undergrowth.  I hope that we can keep these guys healthy through the winter.  If one of them turns out to be a male, maybe we can get some eggs and hatch them out.  They are really beautiful birds and hopefully they are helping us rid the area of ticks and other troublesome bugs.  And it’s amazing how tolerant the sheep and goats are of them!

Guinea fowl at work, while Max the Goat looks on :*)

Road trip!

Not that I don’t have enough to do around here, but on Sunday I went with our friend Pam of Hatchtown Farm on a road trip to Vermont.  She needed to pick up a ram from another Coopworth breeder in eastern Vermont and wanted a traveling companion (Mountain Vewe Farm, West Newbury).  When do I ever say no to a road trip?  With the possibility of going to another sheep farm, it’s a difficult opportunity to turn down.  So off we went on Sunday morning, armed for a cold day in a much higher elevation than we have on the coast.  We decided that going west through Maine was a much better route than going all the way down the coast to NH and then taking an interstate all the way north again.  Armed with a GPS unit, Google maps and a road atlas, we took off.  It was really a beautiful ride, west on 302 through Naples, Bridgton and Fryeburg and on into North Conway, NH.  As we drove, we began to see many less leaves on the trees, some rain, a little sleet, and of course,

Mt. Washington on the horizon

snow-capped peaks in the White Mountains!  And as we drove across New Hampshire, it really began to rain.  We definitely were not prepared for that!

As we got closer to our friend’s farm in Vermont, we passed a farm with a field of Scottish Highland cattle.  I have a very soft spot in my heart for these guys, and so we had to stop and take some pictures.  In spite of the weather, it was a fun trip and Pam brought home a very handsome ram!

Highland meat cattle in the rain

Giant pumpkins

The Damariscotta Pumpkin Fest weekend is here.  This past week I drove by Pinkham’s Plantation and their parking lot had turned into a sea of giant sized pumpkins, all shapes, colors and sizes.  (If I were a good blogger, I would carry my camera around with me and take photos, but I am not.  One of these days, perhaps.)  Most of the pumpkins have been sent around to area businesses so that they can carve and paint them and keep them on display.  Cool pumpkin art.  But the biggest draw of the festival will be held tomorrow: the Pumpkin Regatta!  Farmers are working long hours today to finish the building of their pumpkin boats, to be motored on the Damariscotta River tomorrow in a race.  It is a real hoot!

Here at Ruit Farm we have been growing our own pumpkins.

Vine takes over the compost pile!

We bought our pumpkin seedling in the spring just at the right moment, brought it home, and that was it.  For the most part.  I don’t know when we caught up with ourselves, but somewhere around July John decided to just pop it into one of our huge compost piles and see what it would do.  It has almost taken over the driveway where we pull in to feed the animals.  Lots of wonderful pumpkin flowers, but alas, this is our progeny:

Baby pumpkin

one 8″ yellow fruit, not even old enough to be a respectable orange!  Alas, we will not be competing in the Regatta tomorrow.  I am so glad that our friend Patty gave us a pumpkin that we can actually carve and enjoy!

Carve-able squash!

 

That time of year

October is in full swing,  Columbus Day Weekend is here and we have some beautiful weather.  It’s windy and a bit chilly, but the sun is finally out and the leaves are colorful and bright.

Piggies pause in their play to see what I am up to

We are coming down the homestretch with the piggles; they go to the butcher next Saturday.  So far I have to say that they have probably been our favorite pigs of all time.  Very funny, cute and playful.  By the time some of our other pigs got to this age (approx. 6 mos.) they were getting almost lazy and much less fun to be around.  Ah well, it’s that time of year for sure!

If the rain stops long enough for the ewes to dry out a little I need to get their sheep coats on and get the ram in with them tomorrow or Monday.  Breeding time is upon us and I don’t want to run the risk of late lambs, so I am anxious to get going on this.  The weather this past week has been very rainy, and the ewes are in the pasture… but on the bright side, their fleeces will be extra clean when I get them coated!

We also said goodbye to one of  our bucklings this past week.  Beltie Boy went to live with Elf and Zelda over at Bridge Farm.  Hopefully the two girls are keeping him busy and they are getting down to the business of breeding!  It’s definitely that time of year.

Beltie Boy says goodbye!

More autumn fun

Even though we tried growing one of the famous Damariscotta giant pumpkins, we have not succeeded.  In an almost perfect gardening year, we have produced a big zero.  Admittedly, our lives are quite hectic with the sheep and the goats, plus regular jobs and the grandson.  The summer heat hit my asthma and eczema hard, and I did not enjoy it the way I wished I could.  So when it came to a pumpkin for the fall holidays we had to call on the backup plan:  buy one!  (My father in law grew a pumpkin that was about 100 pounds when our older son was about 3 and we kept that baby in the house for almost a year before it started to get soft.  We have to keep our end up here!)  So we are feeling as though we need to have one for our grandboy’s first real Halloween.  I must say that I think it made some kind of impression:

Grandchild and pumpkin

The picture is a little fuzzy as this 18 month old insisted on constant movement!

Autumn has arrived

I have been feeling so scattered and pressured this beginning of the schoolyear that I have neglected to post since Labor Day Weekend.  Not for want of trying, but nothing has come together!  Every year I feel older when the start of the school year comes around and I find it more difficult to re-attune myself to this schedule.  Another thing that kept me from even thinking about taking the time out to blog is that our older son, Sam, came up for a visit and stayed a whole week!  It was a wonderful visit, I wish we lived closer to do that more often.  While he was here we had the usual lobster extravaganza.  I don’t remember eating much for dinner that night  :*/

Sam is bonding with dinner

What we did another evening, however, was to put together a huge pan of eggplant parm.  Sam loves to cook and it is always more fun to do something like that with some help.  So John had an off -night and we are even, I guess!  (I don’t eat lobster and he doesn’t eat eggplant parm).

Eggplant just out of the oven

So it has been quite a month.  September has come and gone in a blink, and today is feeling like a real autumn day.  I am looking forward to next weekend when our friend Bruce from NJ is coming up for a visit.