Shearing lambs, pumpkins and wonderful weather

Lambs waiting for shearing alongside the pumpkin volunteer!

It has been quite the weekend.  Work for most of the day on Friday, Bristol Area Farmer’s Market on Saturday morning, and then getting ready for lamb shearing on Sunday afternoon (plus regular shopping and errands).  4 lambs are going to the butcher on Wednesday morning and I have not been dealing with the pelts efficiently, so I prefer to get the fleece.  Our lovely shearer, Emily, came over during a very busy weekend at her farm and sheared our four little darlings.  One ewe lamb and 3 ram lambs.

Emily shearing one of the lambs
Shorn lambs finally get their dinner

They have absolutely fantastically beautiful fleeces.  It was an even bigger pleasure to have Chris come by to help with the shearing activities.  It’s difficult to get the lambs out onto the shearing floor, sweep, skirt the fleeces and get the lamb into the next pen.  We got four beautiful fleeces and some very naked lambs.

During this afternoon, our friends from southern Maine came over to pick up one of our gorgeous ram lambs.  So it felt like a party!

Pumpkin on the compost pile

And our volunteer vine has set some seriously beautiful pumpkins, two of which are really orange.  One is even larger, but still green.  I am going to have to do some research on how to tell when a pumpkin should be harvested!

Getting ready

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Spent the day yesterday cooking. Getting so close to back to work I am getting frantic to get some meals and lunches ready and into the freezer. Aside from that, this is the time of year when all the great garden stuff is ready and begging to be made into things like eggplant parmigiana!

We were given some really beautiful eggplants and Sunday I carved out some time to begin the breading and frying process. This is something that usually lands on my plate in the evening, and being more of a morning person I got up Sunday morning and that was first thing on my list, after morning chores of course. It’s always quite the process, but the freshness of the morning really helped. The weather is definitely changed for the better for me (no humidity!). Eggplant parm is just about my number one comfort food, and on a work morning when I am rushed and don’t have time to make something like a salad, it’s wonderful to be able to pull a nice little package out of the freezer.

I didn’t quite have all local ingredients, although that is always my goal. Most of the sauce was made from last years’ tomatoes, but I ran out and ended up finishing off the top layer with some Newman’s. I never calculate the sauce correctly! The eggplant came from a neighbor, the eggs came from another friend, the breadcrumbs came from Progresso and the cheese, alas, from the store as well.

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You know it’s August when

One of my favorite meals, with John’s beautiful semolina bread, of course!

the crickets are drowning out the cicada song, you get dive-bombed by gransshoppers while walking through the long grass, the ram lambs begin to get testy with each other and begin to curl their upper lip in the hopes that a female might be in the neighborhood, native Maine blueberries are crowded on every farmstand, the mornings are misty and snippets of the disembodied voices of lobstermen calling to one another travel up the hill for a visit, and the nights are beginning to be cooler and crisper.  And the tomatoes from the garden are definitely delicious with fresh mozzarella drizzled with olive oil and herbs from the garden!

(And unfortunately, the days are getting noticeably shorter…)

Blink and that week has gone

When teachers get closer to the beginning of the school year, no matter how much we love our jobs, we get the panic:  have we gotten as much packed into our summer as we could?  Did we get as much organized and re-done around the house?  Did we have some time to just relax and enjoy?  It never feels like enough, but this summer I feel like I have gotten more accomplished and enjoyed than usual.  I began the summer by scheduling certain days with specific activities in mind, and for the most part I feel like I did almost as much as I could fit in with friends, and I also really tackled some big jobs around the house.  Didn’t get as much done as I had wanted, but that’s always the case.

This past week I had two very lovely days and one rotten evening.  Our friend Chris of the Salt Bay Treadlers had invited me to another spinning group that she participates in every Tuesday, the R and R Spinners.  They usually meet at Pinelands, but every so often they meet at someone’s house.  This past Tuesday was a day at a member’s house on a lake in Auburn.  It was an extremely wonderful day!  Not only was the day perfect, but the group was wonderful and welcomed me in.  It was a fantastic potluck lunch, lots of spinning and chatting, and to top off the perfect day, we spent at least an hour in the lake.  It was so relaxing and cooling that I couldn’t believe it!  Then Thursday we had a crazy, rainy day (not just rainy, but sheets of rain all day).  But it was great because our grandson came to visit and not only spend the day, but also have an overnight.  We had so much fun!  He came to work with me for an hour or two, then we stopped for a snack and continued home to play some puzzle games, read some books, and of course, watch some Thomas the Tank Engine videos!

The bad time was last Monday evening.  I was out doing chores around 6 PM and I walked into one of the greenhouses right through a cloud of moths.  It was not a great idea.  One of these moths, approximately 1/2 inch or so, flew into my right ear, and instead of popping out again, crawled all the way up into my ear canal, flapping madly as it went.  I was home alone and it just wouldn’t come out, and it also wouldn’t stop its hysterical flapping.  I thought I would have liked to throw myself under a bus, but none were passing by at that point and I was more than extremely upset.  I called our friend Pam, who wasn’t in, then tried to get my husband, who luckily was just getting into town from work and he told me he would be home directly.  Before he even got out of his truck as he pulled down the driveway he had a giant flashlight in his hand.  He couldn’t see anything, so I guess I must have some brains in between my ears.   I was losing it at that point, so he threw me in the car and we went to the local emergency room.  I am sure they got a good laugh out of it, but I was one giant drip of sweat, my blood pressure was elevated (ya think???), and I must have looked like a crazy woman in my chore clothes.  Luckily it wasn’t a busy evening in the ER and they suctioned the moth out – it was still alive and flapping like a mad thing – and we went home.  OMG!  I really didn’t need that buggy interlude.  That might be my definition of madness.

Today was farmer’s market morning and then errands.  And so it goes, as Linda Ellerbee always said.

7 A.M. chore time and counting

It’s that time of year again…  one week and counting until my luxurious 7 a.m. chore time is a thing of the past.  I have one week until that game is up and I need to be out there at 5 a.m.  In the next week I should be getting up a little earlier every day and doing chores a little earlier every day, so the shift is not as abrupt for the animals.  The school year waits for no shepherd.

Do I think that I will really do that?  Maybe, but not being a gambling person I won’t take any bets!

Summer games part two

The big ones are now over.  The summer Olympics, what I had time to watch, were amazing as usual.  Loved the coverage of London and lots of venues outside the city as well.  Swimming, gymnastics, marathon runners, all very inspirational.

Top-down sweater progress

The knitting community at large have been involved in supporting the Olympics by holding what has been called for a number of years, the Ravelympics.  (Ravelry being the online site that knitters and crocheters go to to get pattern inspiration, buy patterns and belong to social groups around different aspects of the craft).  It’s a huge, worldwide group with over 2 million members.  So as the Ravelry “olympic” teams began forming in the late spring, the knitting community was handed quite a stunning slap, I guess you can say, in the form of a cease and desist letter from the US Olympic committee.   We as a knitting community were told that it was trademark infringement to use the name “olympics” and that furthermore we had some nerve equating our knitting team challenges with super athletes (some of the competitions for knitters being things like the Afghan Marathon, Works-in-Progress Wrestling, Sweater Triathlon, Shawl Sailing, etc.).  Ravelry changed the name of the challenge to Ravellenic Games in the end, which didn’t bother me and most adopted without much fuss.  But the letter did not just demand that Ravelry cease and desist from using the term and the Olympic symbols, it went on to make disparaging remarks about how knitting “tends to denigrate the true nature of the Olympic Games.   In a sense, it is disrespectful to our country’s finest athletes and fails to recognize or appreciate their hard work.” (excerpt from the C&D letter sent by Brett Hirsch, law clerk for the USOC which I read at this Gawker site).  It also spoke about the fact that athletes train all their lives in order to compete in the world arena which is sometimes the pinnacle of their career.  And our knitting while cheering on our athletes is taking away from their accomplishments?  Ok, I guess it will continue to be a head-scratcher for me!

Color Affection shawl progress, with help from Tesser the Chihuahua (which makes my progress look bigger and better than it really is)

Needless to say, the knitting community rose up in anger, to put it mildly, and after flooding the USOC committee’s Facebook page and Twitter connection with comments, they sent an “apology” letter which just made matters worse, as the tone was just as insulting as in the original. There are many links online for a better coverage of the whole thing, but I agree with many who have commented that the committee and its legal representatives should maybe have done a little homework on this deal before writing a letter that inflamed almost 2 million people with pointy sticks who take their knitting very seriously.  And to totally ignore the fact that this self-challenge in the knitting community was meant to support the viewing of as many hours of the games that members could manage (and in the process be subjected to the advertising that goes along with NBC’s coverage).

I never had intended to blog about this whole thing.  Many before me have covered this more eloquently.  I am a committed fiber junkie and love to knit, spin, weave, felt and work with fiber in any form.  Knowing that the summer is chock full of catching up on farm work and housework that I can’t get to during the schoolyear means that I don’t give myself much tv time in the form of sitting and watching during the day, but I really thought that I would be more motivated to get two of my knitting projects finished if I joined in the fun of being on one of the Ravellenic teams (Team Sasquatch as I am an avid fan of many knitting podcasts).  But as the games went on, I found myself almost not wanting to do any knitting and I stopped visiting the team boards on Ravelry altogether.  I think that knitting is still viewed by society in general as being something done primarily by women (which is not true and historically incorrect) and therefore not given much status.  Which gets my old ’60s sensibilities inflamed as I still believe women’s equality has not come as far as I had dreamed of in my teen years.

So I have not succeeded in accomplishing my “olympic” goals, oh, sorry, my “Ravellenic” goals, and probably gotten less done than I would have had I not joined.  The whole thing still leaves me with a litte bit of a bad taste which I am sure I will get over.  But I am not sure that I will ever be moved to participate in the games ever again!  Which annoys me, annoyingly enough.  Oh well, I still intend to finish these two projects before October, when I am sure to want to be wearing them, not just talking about them.  I think my next Netflix movie may just be the ticket  :*)

Lighthouse summer day

Pemaquid Point Lighthouse

Yesterday was National Lighthouse Day.  We are lucky enough to live about 10 miles up the road from one of the most beautiful on the coast of Maine, Pemaquid Point Light.

Pemaquid Light from the other side

I don’t actually get down there often enough.  Usually when we have visitors from away is when we put down all the things that keep us busy and make time to go and enjoy the view.

Monhegan Island just visible on the horizon, the long, low lump!

After I moved the sheep down in the field to a new section of grass yesterday I came in and took awhile to get cooled down and rehydrated, then I decided to grab a book and head on down the peninsula.  It was a nearly perfect afternoon and so clear that we could see Monhegan Island much more distinctly than usual.  When it’s visible, it definitely does not look like it’s 10 miles away!

I didn’t get any reading done as the view was just too good to miss.  I watched visitors going up into the light tower, the seagulls dive-bombing the business next door, lobster boats pulling traps, and sailboats out in Muscongus Bay.  Very wonderful way to spend the afternoon!

Summer games

Olympics.  Wimbledon.  Tour de France.  There is no end to the athletic goings-on this summer.  I enjoy watching the swimming and the gymnastics as well as the equestrian trials during the Olympics.  The road races and the other things not so much.  I am always in awe of the training that athletes must commit to in order to get to this level and it’s difficult not to get glued to the tv during this time.

Hanging out in the field

But then I am reminded that when summer comes farmers have their own summer games!  Moving those heavy electric nets around a field in the heat and the humidity, cleaning out the storage areas and getting new hay in, feeding up the market lambs as well as sorting fleece and trying to get everything ready before breeding time is here.  And maybe even selling a few lambs to be breeding stock instead of going to freezer camp.  It seems endless in the middle of it all, but I know that in a blink of an eye it will be over and we will be ferrying the girls home from the field and it will be time to hunker down for winter.  And maybe indulge in a few winter games!

Goatie misadventures

This probably sounds like a broken record.  We worry ourselves to death over the pregnancy and lambing and kidding times, hoping to have everything in optimal shape for the best outcomes.  But the thing I always forget about is that we have just as much worrying to do after all those babies are born.  They are so fast and so inquisitive that lambs and kids get themselves into some really crazy spots.

The Flying Goatie girls romp with our grandson

This year’s goat kids are quite the riot and very good entertainment value.  The two with long ears (who have more Saanen in them than the other two) we have nicknamed the Flying Walenda Girls.  They are the craziest kids we have ever had around here.  If it is vertical, they are on top of it.  They walk on top of the greenhouses and jump from the big rock to the greenhouse, hop along the ridge pole and then fly on down.  So yesterday I was running late for our Salt Bay Treadler’s monthly meeting and I noticed that none of the goatie girls were on a tear.  I didn’t think too much about it, they were all in the feeders playing and noshing, so I went on my way.

This morning I realized part of why the girls are not on the roof.  One of the big ear girls has a leg injury.  A few inches above her left hind hoof it looks like a bad sprain or a break.  She is getting around fine, so we splinted it, gave her Banamine (an anti-inflammatory), and put her back into the paddock.  And we immediately took her out again to cover the vet-wrap with some heavy-duty tape.  Her mother and her sister had the vet-wrap half undone before we could even look at each other twice!  They definitely are the little dickens.

Our doeling with the injured leg

On the farming front we have been wondering which of the doelings we would be holding back to be our yearly meat goat.  I guess one of them just got nominated.  I hate to see a beautiful doeling going for meat, but unfortunately, that is the way with farming.