It was a fabulously beautiful weekend as far as the weather was concerned! Coolish, almost cold nights, and warm and sunny days with a steady breeze. The perfect weather for pulling fence down in the field. Well, kinda :*) The electric net was stuck in the tall grass down there and it was a slow and steady (sometimes painful) backbreaking time getting it untangled from the grass and rolling it up. It was not a fun job, but the field desperately needs to be mown.
Yesterday, however, was a totally fun day. A few of us got together for an afternoon of spinning fun and some lunch along with it. We had a great time out on Hatchtown Farm‘s screened porch, visited with the sheep, and actually got a whole lot of spinning accomplished. It was a relaxing day full of good company and good food. And Gemma the Golden Doodle kept us company, as well as a nonchalant eye on the food table.
Now it’s back to getting ready for the first “official” day back at work, Wednesday. I have not gotten used to sleeping in at all during the summer, but I don’t usually get up at 4:15, either! 5:30 has been my hour of choice for most of August. Ah well, it will take a little time to get into the routine again, but the year is marching on. (I can tell by the way my husband angsts over the almanac information each morning on the weather, which notes how many hours and minutes of daylight we have lost since the summer solstice!). I may actually be doing chores in the dark already!
It doesn’t look like August from that photo! John has picked up some dump truck driving jobs this week so I have been messing around the house trying to get some things done that need some sunlight and a little breeze (and I also have not been able to pick up my little car yet as John hasn’t been home at a decent hour to get me over there!). I never had gotten to skirting the two fleeces that came off of our two ewes who are out of sync with the shearing of the rest of the bunch, so I am tackling the dark fleece today. Little India is a small ewe, which is one reason she never went to the butcher last fall, but she has such a beautiful, dark fleece that I am glad she hung around.
I don’t think that I will get an enormous amount from the fleece. She was coated most of the year, but as I thought she was going to be shorn one weekend, she got tangled in her coat, I removed it, and then the shearing didn’t happen until the next, or maybe two weeks later. Which means that she does have a little more veggie matter in her fleece than I would have liked, but Coopworth and Border Leicester fleeces have such open locks that most of it will shake out as I pick it for spinning. It’s beautiful. I have some washing up in the sink right now.
I had hopes that it would spin up to be enough for a vest, but probably not. It all depends on how much I end up with after washing. We shall see! There’s always something to do with some lustrous black fleece…
It is truly The Last Week of the summer break! Lots of things to do, and I have been without my car, my trusty Subaru Forester (bought in the fall of 2002, a 2003 model with 225,000 miles on it), as it had some serious electrical problems. I wasn’t sure that our mechanic would find the problem, but at least as of tonight he says that it’s ready for a little more life. That’s one relief for the moment!
I have been frantically trying to organize the things in the house that will make life easier for being organized after I go back to work. And the heat and humidity have returned, so I have not been sad to be doing many things in the house. One of the jobs that I have been putting off for at least a year (I know, pathetic!) is hemming two pair of lovely linen slacks. I have worn them a few times, but when I go up stairs I am in danger of tripping on them. So I finally got that going. I love hand sewing of almost all types, love quilting, love machine sewing… but I HATE hemming! Particularly pants. Grrr. I am glad that I did the black pair at midday. It was tough enough to see what I was doing then, I wouldn’t be able to it tonight! I have one more leg to do, and then I hope they all look ok. If they don’t, I will ignore it if possible. As long as there is no tripping going on :*)
Another thing that I have been able to get going on is making chevre again. I am not keeping all the milk we get from SnowPea, a lot of it is going to our piggies. But for two days a couple of times a week I am keeping the milk, so I can at least do a 2.5 gallon batch. Having only one goat in milk is kind of like a mini-vacation, but it has its challenges too. I guess I have not lost my chevre touch, the newest batch is delish! I marinated one of them in olive oil, garlic, red and black pepper, fresh rosemary, and a little parsley. It was better than good! Looking forward to an autumn of making chevre and socking it away in the freezer for the spring.
And here’s to hoping more than one goat gets bred this fall!
Yesterday two of us went on a little toot. Christine of Maine Fiberarts and I headed north to Bangor, Maine early in the day. We decided to avoid the northbound Route 1 Saturday traffic and take some backroads, which was a great choice. It was infinitely more interesting to drive off the beaten path and go through some towns that I rarely visit, even though we do not live that far from them. We did miss one turn and ended up in downtown Camden, but we soon located Route 52 and continued on our way.
Our first goal was to visit with Jody Clayton of One Lupine Fiber Arts at her gallery/workshop right in Bangor. We did get sidetracked in Searsport for a wee visit to a newly opened used book shop, which specializes in used fiber-related books. The owner is lovely and is also a spinner, so she had her wheel right there and an amazing nook full of wonderful knitting books.(I scored a hardcover that I do not own by Clara Parkes, The Knitter’s Guide to Yarn). Unfortunately, I did not note the name of the bookstore, and it is so new I am not finding it on the town’s Chamber of Commerce site. It’s tiny, but definitely worth a visit!
After that stop we did not get sidetracked and found Jody’s gallery in Bangor, which is a city I am totally unfamiliar with. As with many other large Maine cites, it straddles a beautiful stretch of the Penobscot River. We found the gallery easily and spent quite a bit of time there. Upstairs is the gallery, and downstairs we found a combination yarn/fiber shop, with a felting class carrying on in the work area. Christine and I had a wonderful time there, and of course came back with a few treasures of the fibery sort. I found some lovely fiber batts that Jody had dyed and carded up (a Merino/Romney/Bamboo blend) and I also bought some beautifully dyed bundles of bamboo fiber. I have never spun with bamboo, but it is very lustrous and looks a lot like silk. So I have plenty of interesting stuff to play with for the end of the summer and the beginning of the school year!
After our visit there, we found an Indian restaurant where we had an amazing lunch. Then we headed east for a tour of a sheep dairy farm. Northern Exposure Farm is a relatively new dairy farm and it’s set in an amazingly beautiful spot. We spent the afternoon there and learned a lot about their operation, and also got to meet their beautiful sheep, East Friesians (one of the few sheep breeds that are specifically used for their milk production). We got a milking demo as well! Heaven! I know that we will never have such a large-scale dairy setup with our goatie girls, but it’s sure nice to dream a little :*)
Note: I don’t know if anyone will notice, but one of the lambs in the front of the lamb photo is having a lovely pee! How rude that we immortalized the moment!
To finally have found a vet that would come and give all our ruminants rabies shots without breaking the bank. I have lost sleep worrying about a rabid animal getting into our pens and infecting our girls, which would mean all of the sheep and goats, the llama and the donkey would probably end up being put down. Not a scenario I want to have played out here. Being as wooded as we are, I know there is plenty of nighttime activity all around us. So far we have not seen skunks or raccoons out during the day, but on occasion we see foxes, and there was a very dramatic case down in Portland recently where a rabid fox actually jumped through the open window of a man's truck cab and bit him up, in the parking lot of a big box store one morning.
After a few false starts, we met up today and all of the adult goats and sheep are taken care of. Phew! The donkey needed more than just the rabies, so we are going to catch up in two weeks to take care of one more shot. The vet is fairly new in the area and luckily is open to working with more than just horses. Big sigh of relief!
To round out the fun, our friend Chris came up from Brunswick for a spinning day. She even brought lunch with her! (I was actually supposed to go down to her place for the day, but my car is out of commission at the moment). We got some spinning done and had a little show and tell with our fiber projects (as well as a look at her new spinning wheel acquisition, an old Norwegian), ate a delicious meal of goat curry, and just generally enjoyed the time. It was a nice way to relax after the morning's work. And as a bonus, the weather continues to be clear and beautiful.
Beautiful days are here. Busy days. Crickets are keeping us company and the turkeys are hoofing it through the long grass with their broods. I wish I could get a good photo of the hens and chicks, but they are extremely shy!
In the last few days we have had our group of ewes, does and lambs moving around the property eating up the grass and weeds. Today when I came home from work I made sure everyone was doing ok and when it was time for everyone to go back into their paddock, I tried to keep back the 3 ram lambs for relocation purposes. The nights are getting cooler, and the days are warm, which means that the ewes may begin to cycle any day now, if they aren’t already. The rams have been showing interest in the moms, so I needed to get them moved in with the llama and the two bucklings.
Easier said than done! I got the ram lamb who refused to go back into the paddock on a halter, which is not something lambs take to very graciously! It was a little awkward, but we finally got into Zorro the llama’s area. The other two ram lambs weren’t difficult to catch, and their behaviors were pretty similar. We took it slowly and got there in the end, and now all the testosterone on 4 legs is in one paddock. Phew!
John and I spent much of the morning doing outdoor sheep-related chores. After we came in and I took laundry off the line and out of the drier, I took it into the bedroom and realized that I could not put anything away. This is the kind of thing that happens as the schoolyear goes on. I usually begin the year in a very organized way, with my work clothes for all seasons allotted to their specific places, and sad to say, as the year goes on things go very wrong.
With our timberframe house, we don't have a lot of 'built-in' storage. The only real closet in the house is in our bedroom. Definitely a design flaw! And while the closet is a nice one, I don't have a bureau or dresser, so I improvised by putting a stack of Elfa drawers in there. Which of course takes up quite a bit of the space! Not so bad, but when things are just shoved in and hanging out of every opening, it becomes pointless to even put anything away. That's when we begin creating 'clean' piles around the edges of the room. Small clean area rug? Put a clean pile on it. Stack of magazines over there? Put a clean pile on it. Any spot that looks promising gets covered in time.
The thing that got me started today was that I have to go to work tomorrow and I couldn't find the shirt I thought I would wear. As I began digging, I decided that I might as well do it. I was warm from the morning of outside work, and the bedroom had a cool breeze coming through. It was time.
I still have one drawer left that needs weeding and organization. But I am happy to say that I have a pile of clothes to go to GoodWill, and the summer organizing of the drawers will be complete. Love it!
The boys. They are on their own tonight. Our little buckling, the one on the right, was in serious need of weaning. I am sure that SnowPea is pretty relieved not to have him giving her the business. Which all means that I am now going to be milking twice daily. Finally!
I tricked the boys and Zorro into the next paddock this afternoon, and while they ran in there to see what was up, the ewes that were in there ran into the other paddock to see what was going on in there. Phew! I didn't have to manhandle anyone to one side or to the other. Now all we have to do is get the 3 ram lambs in there with the two bucklings. As the nights grow colder, I am beginning to be worried about one of them getting riled up and breeding one of the ewes. We do not need any unexpected lambs :*)
The first full week of August and the pressure is on. Back to school gets closer all the time. I have been busy this week and yesterday, luckily, was chock full of fun things. Well, the doctor visit and a shot in my bursitis hip wasn’t exactly fun, but it sure beats the pain!
After the doc, I made my way (slowly due to all the traffic) out of town and went to meet my friend Chris at Halcyon Yarn in Bath. Outside of a wonderful shop in itself, they were hosting a small crafts show on their upper two floors. A good friend of ours, Heather Kerner of Spiralworks Felt, was participating. Since she and her family live at least an hour + away, it was an opportunity to have a little visit with them. And the fair was wonderful! Lots of lovely finished items were available, from knitting books, to sheep and chicken art, to woven, felted, netted and sewn items.
I was good and restrained myself… the only thing I bought is a lovely lavender sachet cleverly sewn from antique linens.
After I got home and did chores early, I rushed back to town for our first Wednesday spinning night! It was full of great conversation, wonderful food, and lots of fiber. I thought I would remember to take more photos, but alas, I only snapped one. Needless to say, it was a fun evening. Wish we weren’t all so busy that we couldn’t do more of them!
Today I am home and doing some cooler weather cooking, braised lamb shanks. I had to look for a new recipe since recently my husband is having trouble digesting cooked tomato things. :*( I love my other recipes, but hopefully this one will be a winner. It has lots of red wine in it, so how bad could it be!
We always try and get enough Maine native blueberries in August to stock the freezer for the year. Our order through the local coop came in on Thursday so that was the first happy highlight of the week.
The second one happened when we scored a few locally grown tomatoes. I had hidden away a few packages of our own bacon just for this purpose: BLTs! Nothing better than a BLT (except maybe a BLT with a real Jersey tomato…)!
The slightly cooler nights are getting the goatie boys all frisky. They are up to their usual tricks and are using Zorro the llama as a jungle gym. When he has his nose in his breakfast he doesn’t seem to mind too much!
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!