Yucky morning

Elf the goat checks things out during last evening's snow
Elf the goat checks things out during last evening’s snow

Tired and more tired of this weather!  By the time I was doing an errand in town yesterday afternoon it went from nothing, just cloudy, to snowy white-out conditions.  It kept up like that into the evening, and then during the night I was repeatedly awakened by dripping rain pushing the snowpack off the roof and hitting the ground hard.

Henny Penny relaxes in a dry corner
Henny Penny relaxes in a dry corner

It’s just drizzling now, and my sheepie girls are all wet and messy (they don’t believe in sleeping indoors).  I tried to get most of their hay into inside feeders, but nothing in our setup is totally weather-impervious, with the exception of one side of our main greenhouse where we put the lambing jugs.  Soggy sigh.

I had one foot out the door this morning to get started for work when I got a text saying that we have a one hour delay.  Hmmm.  Not much I can get done here at home (seeing as how I am dressed and ready to go), so I probably will get started in a little bit anyway and take my time on the road.  Kids could be a little unfocused today… they were all counting on a snow day!    :*)

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Preparations

Messy snow scene
Messy snow scene

We have had the luxury of not having to scurry around over vacation to get ready for shearing and lambing.  Most years we have bred our ewes so that they are due mid-March, with some of them lambing early in March, after shearing during the first part of the February break.  Considering the kind of weather we are having this winter, I am really glad for the chance to welcome some warmer weather in before doing either of these things (we hope!).  March can be a very unstable month, weather-wise, but I am seriously hoping that the overnight temperatures in the single digits and below zeros will be behind us now.  I don’t mind going out in the middle of the night when it is in the mid and upper twenties at all, and thirties are even better :*)

Shearing is coming up in two weeks, and since we don’t have a barn, I have to hope for the best in terms of weather, because even though we have shelter in the greenhouses, we shear in one, and then have to run the fleeces down into the milking area in another greenhouse.  So if it’s rainy, it’s a bit of trouble.  Don’t want those fleeces wet, before or after they come off the sheep!

But for now, we are just preparing for the next winter storm.  Rain, and then possible 6-12 inches of snow.  Hmmm.

Same photo op, different day

Driveway snow
Driveway snow

It’s snowing again, what a surprise.  Today it is hovering around freezing in the temperature department so the snow is heavy and wet, but nonetheless very beautiful.  I definitely overdressed for chores this morning!

Fern, Etti and Jingle
Fern, Etti and Jingle

Heading up the driveway I took advantage of the magical driveway photo in the unblemished snow.  And of course, photos of sheep in snow always make me smile, so of course I had to get Fern and Etti pre-breakfast lounging.

The mandatory snow photo of the big birch on the ridge!
The requisite snow photo of the big birch on the ridge!

Today is that last luscious day of break.  I had an utterly satisfying day on Friday, my only “big day out” of the week.  I shared the day with our friend Chris in Brunswick where we did some spinning, had a lovely lunch, and then just finished the afternoon with a walk and some more fiber stuff.  From there, I went to meet with our friends Pam of Hatchtown Farm and Kathy of Bridge Farm, for one of the dinners we try to do every so often.  (Getting 3 farmer women together over dinner is a little dangerous…  we always talk shop and discuss some of our most noteworthy experiences, which sometimes can be distressing to folks sitting nearby.  We need to try and behave!).  It was a very refreshing, non-rushed day to end the week.

And so this morning I am cooking up some tomato sauce for dinner and it is already smelling wonderful.  Time also to go upstairs and try to pull some organization together in the fiber loft.  One of those occasions when I wish we could rent a magic wand!  But, I am sure that I will come across some long-forgotten treasures as well, which is always a fun thing to do on a wintery snow day.  Now where did I put my coffee cup?

Houdini goat

Zelda, definitely not in her paddock!
Zelda, definitely not in her paddock!

Contrary to popular conceptions, goats are not impossible to keep penned.  Yes, they are inquisitive, more so than sheep, but in general they do not want to be separated from their peeps, not being comfortable totally out on their own.  But there is always one in the crowd.   This year it is our Zelda the Beautiful!

Elf and Jingle watch Zelda from inside the paddock
Elf and Jingle watch Zelda from inside the paddock

Zelda is much taller than most of our goats, taller than her mama, Elf.  In the past week or two I have found her outside their pen at oddball times.  Meeting me in the driveway on my way up to feed them in the morning, standing inside the milking greenhouse in the afternoon, and then yesterday afternoon we looked out the window and saw her on one of the compost piles that are most definitely not inside their paddock.  Since I have been off this week, I have had the time in daylight to go over all the places I really though she might be coming out.  Our dinky green gate was definitely a possibility, so I put the extra blue gate inside that one.  I have never seen any of the animals go over that one, even Zorro the llama.  (Silly to have two gates, but we can’t get a t-post in until the ground softens).  So when I saw her on the compost pile yesterday  I was quite surprised!

Escape zone
Escape zone

Turns out that she has been going to the top of their paddock and pushing on the cattle panel that’s sagging a bit, and she must just scale it at the right moment and jump into the snow up under the birches on the ridge.  John pointed out that he thought she might be able to get over there, since we had gotten everything beefed up, and when I waded over there through the still deep snow, I found her landing zone.  I have always been sorry that we didn’t put t-posts every 8 feet along the 16 foot cattle panels, and there is ledge at the top of the hill there, and the t-posts lean a little as they are not deep in the ground.  I shored two panels up with some supports, and hope it does the trick until the ground defrosts a little.

Elf gives Zelda some motherly advice
Elf gives Zelda some motherly advice

Zelda probably had a good little jaunt, but when I got up to the paddock she was waiting by the gate, and when I opened it up she ran in and had a little snuggle with her mama.  I think Elf gave her a little talking-to, but as of today, so far everyone is where they should be.  What a relief!

Tuesday of vacation week already

Nutkin the white ewe lamb
Nutkin the white ewe lamb, with brown ewe lamb behind her

It always comes and goes so quickly!  I guess it’s a cosmic rule somewhere that needs to be fulfilled.  Sigh.  I spent most of this morning doing things like going to the safety deposit box to get my birth certificate, then getting up to Rockland to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles so I could (ahem) renew my license, which is a wee bit overdue (the cutoff was my last birthday, on Feb. 11th.  Sheesh!).  Renewals in Maine are only every 5 years, so I can’t complain about that, but this time I had to have more documentation.  Laws changed a few years back about having proof of residency and proof of being a legal citizen.  (I can’t argue about that either, it’s a very reasonable request, but if I had not had to have it, I could have just renewed online.)  So we toodled up there armed with all kinds of reading material, and surprise, surprise, we got in and out of there in 15 minutes flat!  Wow.  That has to be a record.  They very graciously offered to take a new photo of me, but also offered to leave the other one there if I wanted.  At the age of 59, who would want a new photo!  Hah!  How funny is that!

Etti and Fern with Zelda the goat standing back
Etti and Fern with Zelda the goat standing back

Otherwise, all was calm here this morning.  A few snowmobilers flying up and down the trail that edges our driveway, but other than that the weather and the day has been a quiet one.  When I went out to feed the girls this morning I had to smile:  Nutkin the white ewe lamb gave her siren baa when I had just started up the driveway.  She is so funny, and has such a different lambie voice that I can always tell it’s her.  I love her face, she’s as cute as anything, and definitely loves her breakfast!

Too cold!

Mother-of-all holds the flyer assembly on the front of the production wheel
Mother-of-all holds the flyer assembly on the front of the production wheel

Neither of us got much sleep last night.  Up to 50 mph gusts of wind out there, and all I could hear were branches bouncing off the roof and the howl of the wind.  It’s been relentless.  Yesterday we got some more snow, but probably only 2 or 3 inches which has blown and drifted all over the place.  Today is bright, but so nasty that I didn’t get much done outdoors except for basic chores.  I even fed the girls inside their greenhouses to give them some relief from the windiness.

The Tina II, cleaned and all dressed up for the big weekend
The Tina II, cleaned up again

Yesterday during the blowing and snowing I ended up cleaning my other wheel, my portable Jensen Tina II.  I love both of these wheels.  They are both cherry, and both work beautifully.  So now they are equally cleaned up and oiled and ready to go.  After I got the production wheel done the other day, I realized that the leather pieces that hold the flyer assembly were all dried out.  I was a little hesitant about taking them out of the mother-of-all, but John undid the tiny screws, and we tapped the leather pieces out and soaked them in mink oil.  They feel nice and supple again, I will have to remember to do that more often.  It’s a very simple but elegant system.  Now all I have to do is get my hands on a few more bobbins for both the wheels.  A dog used one of them a few years ago for a chew toy, and I have dropped two, which did not have a good ending.

And so President’s Day is a bright one, but much more fun indoors than out!

Wheel work

Cleaning the base of the wheel
Cleaning the base of the wheel

Well, I got more done today than I thought I would.  At some point as the snow began to fall, I decided to do what I have been trying to get to for a few months now…  cleaning up and refreshing my production Jensen spinning wheel (30″ drive wheel).  Wanting to get more spinning done on this wheel, I keep telling myself that when I get it cleaned up, then I have permission to use it.  It’s always the way!

J. Jensen finished the wheel on 12-31-96.  I got it a month or so later
J. Jensen finished the wheel on 12-31-96. I got it a month or so later

The wheel is very special to me.  16 years ago my husband gave it to me and I have loved it and cherished it since.  It’s an amazing wheel, and I am very appreciative of it, particularly since Mr. Jensen is either not making many wheels, or not making any at all anymore.  It’s an extrenely beautiful piece of machinery, and once I get started, I can spin on it for hours.

 

Cleaning the drive wheel
Cleaning the drive wheel

I finally took the whole thing apart and got it all cleaned up and renewed with my favorite wood refresher, Woodbeams, and then got it all put back together again.  It took hours, but that was ok.  I enjoyed myself, watching the snow falling outside as I worked.  Satisfying first day of vacation.

Finally back together and ready to go!
Finally back together and ready to go!

Beautiful day

Golden winter day
Golden winter day

The last two days were extremely gorgeous days.  40 degrees and sunny.  It was agony being at work today on the last day before vacation, when the sun was beckoning and the breeze was almost spring-like.  I got out of work as soon as possible, and when I went out to do chores, I didn’t want to go back inside.  Unfortunately my favorite spot on the big rock in one of the paddocks is almost totally under snow, so I couldn’t take a seat and just have a rest.  I reveled in chore time this afternoon, and did not go back to the house until I really had no options.  I know that we are scheduled for a little bit of snow this weekend, but hopefully we won’t get dumped on.  A big sigh.  Time to relax!  And tomorrow I will look at my list.

The bees

P1000520

Today my husband was chugging down the driveway on the tractor and he stopped to watch the one of our two hives that actually has bees in it.  We had lost both hives awhile back and had not bought new packages of bees as they are very expensive.  So we were happy last season when a swarm found the hive and moved in.  We couldn’t believe it.  It had not been well cleaned after the last group died off, but they very industriously cleaned house and have been there since.

P1000517When we had the really cold snap I was not sure that they would survive.  We have not wrapped the hives ever, but we also didn’t harvest any honey in the fall.  But I do know that a bee colony can die within the vicinity of a full larder.  You just never know.  We are just happy that for now, they appear to be a healthy group.  Fingers crossed that they will make it through the spring and summer!

P1000519

Warming trend after the snow, looking forward

Etti having a Zen moment
Etti having a Zen moment

I hate it when this happens!  It’s nice that some of the gigundas snowbanks are shrinking a little bit, but what an icy mess chores were this morning.  And our lights keep going out in the greenhouses.  Some connection must be wet.  I had to have John drive me up to the street this morning as I was really afraid of the ice and the soft snowbanks lining the windy, steep driveway.  Even our street was ice.

But tonight there is a little more driveway showing, and most of the roads I travelled home are much cleaner.  3 more days of school and then February break next week.  My goals for vacation are to first and foremost, relax.  But after that, I really need to get upstairs and get some fleeces organized and cleaned up, and get my head wrapped around preparations for lambing.  Our first lambs are tentatively due the first of April.  Shearing and vaccinating is coming up mid-March, and I am beginning to get excited!