Volunteer update

Our largest volunteer fruit!

We have been watching our youngest compost pile while the squash vine grows larger and larger.  Our volunteer for the year has put out many fruits, but we were having some trouble trying to figure out what it was going to be.  In the beginning the flowers really looked like zucchini flowers, but really, squash flowers are always big and showy!  Then I thought that the fruits were beginning to look like butternut squashes, but we have finally cottoned on to what they really are:  pumpkins!!!  I am glad that I didn’t take bets on it :*)

Barber’s Bunnies agouti baby

Today was a lovely day, in spite of what I had expected.  We had a good farmer’s market this morning and our friend Anna Barber of Barber’s Bunnies had some of her usual suspects with her, some of her babies.  They are always very cute and gorgeous German Angoras, but the one that caught my eye today is what they call an “agouti.”  It has coloring that harkens back to the wild bunny colors, and this little baby is as cute as they come.  I couldn’t stop admiring the little guy.  Too bad I am allergic to rabbits!

Summer marching on, with chicken entertainment

I keep hoping that time will slow down and that somehow a few more days can be slipped into each of these precious summer weeks.  Too much to do, and some relaxing fun things would be lovely as well.

Watching the onset of the crazy weather through our skylights

The weather has had quite a few ups and downs… with some extremely hairy storms this past Tuesday evening.  I was at a meeting a little way down the peninsula and the wind was blowing and the rain came down in sheets for quite awhile.  After it began to let up, we all pointed to the slightly yellowy-grey weird sky color.  It’s what I call a tornado sky.  We all joked that it couldn’t be the case, but today I heard on the news that a tornado did touch down in Woolwich, which is just about 10 miles south of here on Route 1.  So we really weren’t crazy.   Of course, it measured a “0” on the Fujita Scale, but nevertheless, it was quite dramatic.  (Not that I want to see one come through here as more than a “0” at all.  We have enough crazy North Easters to deal with during the year).

Yesterday was fantastically gorgeous and I had serious intentions for dyeing or felting, but I ended up at work for the morning and when I came home I couldn’t resist sitting down with lunch and reading just one more chapter of the second book in Carol Drinkwater’s series about the olive farm that she and her husband took on in the south of France.  Being home alone, I ended up having another cup of coffee and I kept reading!  It was a delicious way to spend the afternoon, and now of course I want to read the third book, but sadly, do not have a copy yet.

Bad Chicken #2 on the back steps begging

Some of our daily entertainment involves our remaining two laying hens.  Bad Chicken #1 (aka Henny Penny) lives up with the sheep and goats, while Bad Chicken #2 (aka Chicken Licken) hangs out behind the house and in the garage.  They have both had a bout of broodiness which we tried to use to our advantage by adding some fertile eggs to Henny Penny’s nest.  We really should have bet on Chicken Licken as she gave those 17 eggs of hers almost 7 weeks.  Henny Penny’s nest was raided a short time after we got some good eggs under her and all of her eggs were eaten.  But our clucky #2 gave it her best.  And now she is really becoming a pest…  during her broodiness she only left the nest about twice a day, looking for food.  She puttered around under the bird feeder by the back door and so we began to throw some scratch out there for her.  I guess that wasn’t the smartest thing to do as now she comes right up onto the back steps and pecks at the screen door, making a big fuss, and leaving us other surprises on the stairs as well.  She and the chihuahua have faced off a little on each side of the door, but the chicken always wins that war of nerves!

Humidity falls and dyeing re-commences

We have been counting the days and hours until the hot and humid weather was due to break.  July tends to bring more humid and hot weather around here, so I try not to complain as it is my long-awaited summer break!  But waking up this past two mornings has been such a pleasure… 45 or 50 degrees, breezy and dry.  Yesterday I had every intention of setting up the dye pot and doing some skein dyeing, but of course fate intervened and I ended up spending the morning cleaning out a major portion of the refrigerator.  Big sigh.  Big spill!

Skeining on the niddy-noddy

Today was different, however.  I finally did get a few skeins painted and steamed.  4 of the skeins are our newest yarn, our 3-ply sock weight Ruit Farm wool and mohair.

Painted skeins

They are the gold and green hanks on the left.  The other skeins I dyed are sport weight, 100% Ruit Farm wool.  I really need to visit our friends at Hatchtown Farm and borrow the use of their electric skein-winder, but since I couldn’t get away today I skeined by hand on my 2-yard niddy-noddy.  Basic, but fine!  It was great to get something accomplished, and now maybe I can get a start on one of my new knitting projects!

Volunteer of 2012 summer season

Our newest volunteer plant for the year

We have at least 4 or 5 huge compost piles in various degrees of breakdown (having all that good poop and hay and straw leavings hanging around).  Every year we get “volunteer” plants growing on the piles.

Fruit of the volunteer plant (one of many) is growing in over the piggy girls area

This year we have a really healthy one that is obviously in the squash family.  I totally thought that it was going to be a zucchini, but the fruits are much too round right from the start.  Don’t know if it’s a butternut or a pumpkin.  Or it could be something else that one of the ravens have dropped while they were digging into one of the piles!

Busy and humid summer days

The weather has continued to be hot and humid and disgusting.  Typical of July, so I shouldn’t complain too much.  Last night it broke for a very brief moment and then we got some much needed rain overnight and the humidity came right back today.  I am trying to take it easy because of my asthma, but there were still things that needed doing.

Yesterday afternoon Sawyer and I went out and we moved some panels around (he dug in the dirt and played with buckets of water) so I could move the market group of lambs into the paddock that the field ewes had been in.  I really need to just get them fed up and ready for the late August butcher date.  I also included Esther and her lambs (the ones who were born almost a month later than all the other lambs) as well as Beezus, the ewe with the pre-pubic ligament rupture.  Esther is the only one in that group not going to the butcher, but she is in poorer shape than the other ewes that we ferried down to the field.  She will get down there in another few weeks.

Bonbel’s girls are playing in one of the hay feeders

In the meantime, the goats and a few of the ewe lambs that are either going to stay or who are going to be sold are together in the upper paddock.  It’s much easier to have the goats in the upper paddock as it is closer to the milking greenhouse, so that is what decided the move.  And the goats who are feeding kids are getting fed separately on the milk stand and everyone else is just eating hay.  Much easier to manage this way, and we don’t have to feed everyone grain (that even though the oil prices have gone down it has not “trickled” down to the price of feed!).

Summer week

Sawyer is getting ready to do great things with his Play-Doh!

We have had a crazy but good week.  Spent a lot of time with our grandson and finally got our mama ewes down to the pasture we use, 1/2 mile down the road.  This involves popping one or two ewes into the back of my Subaru Forester – the Ewebaru – and winging down the street to lead them into the electric-netted area.  (Of course “popping” them into the back of the Subaru is not as easy as it sounds and it is a high-energy activity, one that we dread but know we need to accomplish).   John walked our donkey Jingle down to the pasture before we got the ewes down there.  When I was penning the ewes into a small area at the house to get ready for the move, one of them (Etti the Tank) broke through and I had to grab her and halter her and being alone here it was rather exciting.  But our son got down and helped me with the last two and so it was done.  Finally!

Sawyer and Bonbel’s doelings having a meet on the rock

Having our grandson visit and spend time with us is always enjoyable.  He is an amazing and wonderful child.  He loves “feeding the sheeps” and trudges to chores with his fireman’s boots and is of the age where he is walking in amongst the sheep and goats and enjoying the babies.  He is in love with our baby doelings, and they are in love with him. What a great time!

Beach day

Thompson Point Beach

On Monday the weather was extremely perfect for a beach day.  Our friend Chris from Brunswick thought it would be a nice day to head over to Thompson Point Beach which is very close to her house.  So we did just that and stopped to pick up some sandwiches in town and then went straight over.  It must have been in the 70s, and even in the direct sun there was such a great breeze that it was comfortable.  It is actually a sandy beach (many Maine beaches are rocky and not very sandy) and it doesn’t open right onto the Gulf of Maine, but is at one side of a crooked inlet.  No waves, but the water was incredibly warm for Maine in July!

We had a nice picnic in the shade and then were toodling around in the shallow water when someone yelled that there were jellyfish!  Well, being from the NY/NJ area and having spent many a summer at the shore, I immediately got out before going over to investigate (having had some rather painful jellyfish encounters in my youth).  It most definitely was not jellyfish. Everywhere we looked were horseshoe crabs scooting along in the shallows.  And some of them looked like they were mating.  Very interesting and prehistoric creatures.  We all watched for awhile and Chris demonstrated how to pick it up without hurting it.

It was an amazingly lovely day and we ended up by going back to Chris’ house and doing some research on horseshoe crabs.  Amazing creatures!  The ERDG website is a very informative one dedicated to the conservation of the remaining 4 species of crabs.

Chris holds up a horseshoe without pulling on any of its appendages or tail
A pair of horseshoe crabs in the shallow water about halfway between high and low tide marks

Henny Penny survives again

Henny Penny rests in the shade

We knew it was a longshot.  Henny Penny (aka Bad Chicken) has been a resourceful survivor for two years now.  We couldn’t keep her in any pen right from the beginning and she has been a successful forager from the start.  We removed her rooster friends quite awhile ago now as they were beating her to pieces and almost killed her.

A few weeks ago she went clucky.  Right about the same time our other bad chicken went clucky.  Both have been sitting on massive piles of eggs.  Neither of them are in a very safe location as neither or them prefer to be caged in any way.  So bad chicken number 2 has a nest in the garage and she has been sitting on 17 eggs for just about 20 days now.  She comes out once or twice a day to forage for food and harass us around the back door.  I do not believe that she has any fertile eggs, but she will figure it out soon enough.

Henny Penny was a little behind her in timing.  When she began sitting on her eggs I went to a friend’s house and got 8 fertile eggs which we slipped into her nest while she was eating.  She has been doing really well, in a depression of dirt covered with weedy growth in the milking greenhouse.  It is definitely not a safe spot, open to the yard and paddock areas.  Every morning I go out and check to make sure she is still there, and up until today she has been doing very well.  When I went in there this morning I realized that she wasn’t there, but outside foraging for food.  Unusual, but not out of the question.  When I went in to look at her nest I realized that it was all askew.  Egg shells all over the place, with two whole eggs left in the weeds.

Henny Penny’s ravaged nest

Henny Penny survived to live another day, but I guess our experiment in having a hen hatch her eggs has come to a screeching halt!  At least Henny Penny is still with us.  I don’t know what attacked the nest, but she was smart enough to get out of the way before she got hurt!

Housekeeping

Peninsula is really clean! I can hardly believe it :*)

Clutter, clutter is everywhere in our lives and I usually feel that our home is more well-endowed than most.  I admit that I am not an enthusiastic housekeeper and my husband and I have so many involvements that we just have a lot of things around (like knitting, fiber, weaving projects, machinery, and books galore!).  And then there were all the complications in life like having a son and grandson living with us for about 3 years, and things got out of control amazingly quickly.

During the schoolyear I am barely in one place long enough to do more than drop things here and there and move on to the next task, and unfortunately that kind of living catches up with you if you aren’t much more organized than I am.  Every year as we get closer to summer break I create a long list  (I love making lists, just don’t follow them very well) of the things that I would like to try and accomplish over the summer, and organizing and de-cluttering our living areas is always at the very top of the list.  The last few summers have gotten rolling and moved past in a blink and I never got to the kitchen or the dining room or the living room.  Big sigh.

This summer began with such hot and humid asthma weather that I have taken a few days indoors and finally got down to doing something about the kitchen.  Walking into the dining room through the back sliding doors we have a peninsula of bookshelves on the dining room side that has been chock full of things we wanted nearby and didn’t know what else to do with.   This was really supposed to be a home for cookbooks and other things we need like stationary supplies, and part of the top of the counter had to be given over to the telephone and computer stuff like modem and router.  Until Thursday I couldn’t see the top of the counter and you couldn’t tell what was on those shelves for the junk that was stacked up in front of them as well.  So I sat myself down on the floor and I took my time getting everything off and cleaned (yuck the dust!) and then only put back those things that we really need and use.  I seriously weeded my cookbook collection and it probably could still be weeded further, but I have an emotional attachment to most of the ones that are left!

Now Tesser the Chihuahua has a much cleaner space to share in her little cat bed

I should have taken a “before” photo but I am not sure that anyone could have made out what they were supposed to be looking at, so I am just showing the “after” shots.  Phew!  In the process I threw some things on the dining room table that I still need to go through, but I tried not to do too much damage as I had just gotten that under semi-control a few weeks ago.  At least I can cross one item off the summer list.  Next target area is the upstairs loft which is supposed to be an organized fiber area.

4th of July

Bonbel’s girls staying out of trouble for once!

We spent the rest of yesterday checking on our little doelings and making sure that they had fly repellent on them.  Our special little one spent most of the day tucked in beside her mother sleeping, and I have to give Pippi a lot of credit, she hung with her baby until dinnertime without being far from her.  By the time I did chores last night the little one was playing hard with her sister and her cousins while the moms got down to serious eating.  So I think she is on the mend and her hornbud looks dry and hopefully uninviting to the local fly population!

Last night we had a wonderful meeting of our Salt Bay Treadlers in Damariscotta.  It was an extremely fun evening with plenty of food, laughter and spinning.  I got to bed a lot later than usual due to my asthma acting up, but it was ok as I didn’t have to get up at any specific time today.  It turned out to be a much more pleasant day than I had expected and I got a bunch of things accomplished.  I didn’t get down to the Round Pond parade due to my breathing, but I got some organizing around the kitchen done which made me feel a lot better.  And then I spent most of the afternoon catching up on a book I am reading, The Olive Farm by Carol Drinkwater.  I started this book a few years ago and then work got crazy and I put it aside.  It’s one of my favorite types of “adult” reading, a memoir of a woman changing her focus in life.  Buying an olive farm in Provence and all of the attendant woes is right up my alley.  I loved all of the Peter Mayle books about moving to Provence and I am equally enjoying Carol Drinkwater’s experiences in southern France.  It’s nice to be able to take a humid afternoon off to just sit and read and I am happy that I did.  Some of the stress of the schoolyear is beginning to ease.  It was a good day!