It sounds worse than it really is, although I have spent so much time thinking about this little friend of mine that I really do feel the need to mark her passing.
Her name was Miss Marple. She has kept me company since late last winter in the milking greenhouse. Morning and evening, she came out to spend some time with me while I milked the does. Just a little brown field mouse, she had created (along with a whole host of progeny and relatives I am certain) a maze of mousey tunnels under the pallets that support the plywood floor where I milk. Both ends of this greenhouse are open to the elements, and truthfully, the cover has more holes in it than not, so it is not a closed-in space, but very airy and open. In spite of that, she had a warren of stolen fleece, straw and hay under those pallets and I am sure it is quite cozy under there.
Our does are very sloppy eaters, and when I have them on the milkstand, they dig in with great gusto and grain flies all over the place. Miss Marple has made it a habit to be inquisitive about what was shooting around there and got so bold as to come out from the underside of the pallet and dart around picking up loose grain. Even when nothing was falling, she would run back and forth under the pallet so I could see her rushing around, and then she would venture out, sit up on her hind end and twitch her little whiskers at me and at the does. We would chat, pass the time of day, talk about the weather, and then when I got up to take the does off the stand, she would run back inside and rearrange her little house. It was a rare day when I wouldn’t see her morning and evening, and in-between times I saw her racing around outside, gathering tidbits.
Last weekend I went out to move some panels prior to getting the ewes home. As I walked the path between the milking greenhouse and the paddock I saw Miss Marple. Her inquisitiveness was probably her undoing. That and the fact that the 3 rogue chickens and the guinea male were probably hungry, as they are always hungry. Poor mousey had been pecked and left behind. She may have even expired and then been tasted and found unsavory by the chickens, but she did have peck marks all over her little body. And so it goes on the farm. My husband just rolls his eyes but I really have appreciated my time with Miss Marple, the very well-fed and inquisitive field mouse!
Henny Penny has really gone around the twist. Since the bad weather came upon us this past Wednesday, she has decided that her preferred roosting spot is not outside, but inside our milking greenhouse (which isn’t as weatherproof as it once was). And not just in the greenhouse, but on the upper castle portion of the milk stand. AARGH! I wouldn’t mind so much if she waited until after hours, but we don’t have enough daylight to stretch it out, unfortunately. And she won’t take no for an answer… I pick her off the stand over and over again, to no avail. And the goats are not very pleased, to say the least (you can see the look on SnowPea’s face, and all she does is move closer to me and lean, hard!). That darn chicken just keeps jumping back up onto the stand, and when I push her off, she pecks me! The cheek!
My husband and I have spent at least an hour talking about what we can do. She may have to go into a chicken crate while I milk. We are going to try and create an alternative roost in the hopes that she will be tempted. The goats are already so nervous when she is around, I am in danger of losing the whole bucket of milk. I think Henny Penny needs to go back to charm school and learn a few manners :*)
The storm yesterday didn’t hit us as hard as we thought it might, but we still ended up with about 4″ of snow which turned crunchy and icy overnight. The day has been beautifully bright and I am taking my time with the meal preparations. We are going to celebrate this evening with our elderly neighbor so there isn’t a whole lot of pressure. We usually get her to join us over here, but with the ice and snow out back, I think we are going to transport everything across the street. It will all be much easier in the end. Now if I can get this turkey to cook properly, all will be well. (I usually get a bird that is raised in Maine and fresh, but we ended up getting a frozen Hannaford bird this year. It’s not behaving itself in the oven yet). In spite of the turkey angst, it’s been a lovely, peaceful day. I hope everyone else is enjoying it as much as we are!
Wasn’t really planning on getting them home until the weekend, but the coming of a storm with a possible 8″ of snow, we decided to load them up and cart them home this afternoon. Our son was a champ, skipping over right from work. I had hurried home and gone down to get the ewes penned just outside the last pasture area. Then when JD joined me, we got the girls into the back of the Subaru and brought them home 2 by 2, as usual. JD and I really have the whole procedure down pat (he gets the front end of the ewe into the back of the car, I grab the halter from the back seat, he gets them up all the way and then we get the next one in). While we were ferrying the girls home in the dark, John was walking Jingle the Donkey home, covered in blaze orange and blinking safety disks on her harness. I wish I had a photo!
I am very relieved to have the ewes at home. I think Henny Penny was pleased as well!
That’s right, we popped big Reece into the back of the Subaru and took him home to Hatchtown Farm this afternoon. Big sigh of relief! Our 6 girls are ready to come home as soon as we can finish cleaning out the paddock here at the house. So for a few more days they remain in the pasture down the street with Jingle the donkey keeping watch. I am already excited about the lambs that will come next March! Now all I have to do is find a breeding partner for our dairy does. Sheesh!
The dark time has definitely come upon us. The autumn time change always sends me sideways and this year is no exception. Even after a week of the “new” standard time, I wake up at 3:15 a.m. instead of 4:15. Very frustrating! And now I am doing chores in the dark both morning and night. The one thing that I really enjoy, however, is the starry sky on clear days. That old dome of the sky never disappoints. Orion and the dippers are about the only constellations that I can reliably pick out, but it is satisfying all the same. And I am watching the calendar for the Solstice and the promise of more daylight. It’s only 6 weeks away, but it feels like a lifetime.
This is a 3-day weekend for me. Veteran’s Day falling on a Friday was a total pleasure. 3 days in a row to sleep in! Maybe I will begin the coming work week in a more rested manner. And I had a special treat in that our farmer’s market group of vendors got together for a very leisurely luncheon yesterday. We met at Virginia’s lovely house and sat around stuffing ourselves with potluck goodies for the afternoon. I miss our Saturday sessions at the Weymouth House visiting and selling. Well, more visiting than selling, but it was a great experience. And getting to know Anna and her bunnies and Virginia and her veggies was the hidden prize in the whole summer’s market.
Today I pulled the remainder of the beets from the garden. They were destined for the pot of borscht that I had planned.
Now I grew up on borscht, but this recipe was discovered by a spinning friend who brought a pot of it to our monthly spinning group early in November. I couldn’t believe how wonderful it was and decided to make a pot this weekend. It is the best! Just right for a windy and chilly time of year.
Another week has come and gone, and we have returned to autumn temperatures again. It’s been beautiful out! I wish I could have been out during the day more during the week, but work kept me plenty busy. This time change has me mourning the end of daylight savings; I much prefer to have more light in the afternoon than I do in the mornings. I have to do chores quickly in the a.m. no matter what, so I would rather have the time in the p.m. Ah well, one of my favorite seasons is fading rapidly!
This is the time of year when things quiet down on the farm. Once we finish getting the paddock cleaned out and we get the bred ewes home from the field, we can settle in for the quiet time. I already have a list of knitting, weaving and spinning projects that I want to get into. Aside from the lace shawl for our neighbor, I have cast on a watch cap for John. A small project that I can carry with me. It’s a pattern that had been recommended on one of my favorite podcasts, KnitKnit Cafe. Taken from a 1940 pattern called Classic World War II Watch Cap, it has been interpreted by Helen Waittes, derived from Beanie No. 212 Bucilla Yarn Booklet, Volume 318, dated 1940. It’s a free pattern on Ravelry and has many options for individualization. Just knitting it in the original pattern with the 4X2 ribbing to the crown, I am hopeful that this hat will fit my husband better than the last hat that I knit him (this past winter). So I am using smaller needles with the worsted weight as I am a fairly loose knitter. And knitting it in the smallest size. This is a great project for the faculty meetings that I have to attend this week, if I can prevent myself from finishing it before then :*)
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!