Autumn arrives

Late flowers from our friend's garden
Late flowers from our friend’s garden

And the great weather has not deserted us!  Autumn has officially begun and the days are getting shorter, but the sun is still shining brightly and our days have been lovely.  Of course it’s difficult to get out there and enjoy it with school and meetings, etc., but this weekend has been a real blessing.  Dry, with temperatures in the 60s, we had great fun with our grandson outside yesterday afternoon.  Digging and playing with the hay from the floor of the ‘hay’ greenhouse.  And today I had a chance to spend some time with our friend Chris in Brunswick out in their lovely screened porch, knitting and spinning.  Then we spent some time in the garden, where Chris cut us some sunflowers, dahlias and some herbs.  Lovely!

My ankle is growing stronger, but I still cannot get my chore boots on over the swelling.  Soon, I hope.  So I do part of the chores, and my husband does the rest.  It works.  And ever since I began using Arnica gel on the foot, the bruising and swelling has gone down dramatically.  Gotta love those old remedies.  But since I am walking in a stilted manner, my sciatica and hip bursitis has flared.  I am hoping the stationary bike helps with that, now that I can get on it again!  It’s always a challenge.

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Last week of September

photo (21)I can’t believe it’s here already.  Autumn and cooler weather, although this weekend is supposed to be in the 70s. We have had a very overcast week, but there were moments when the sun was out and smiling at us as well.  Like today during the fire drill!  I could have stood out in the parking lot with my face pointed at the sun for a lot longer than we were allowed.

Beginning of the school year is hard on the system, and even though I am into the schedule and wake up before the alarm goes off at 4:15, I am just tired.  So I have not been blogging regularly as I am just trying to hold on long enough each day to stay awake until a decent bedtime hour.  Aargh.  This will get better, but my back is aching and my foot is still a swollen, black and blue mess.  Although as soon as I began using Arnica gel it really started to heal faster.  But all my limping has my hips out of whack, so that just makes it worse!  Moan, moan, groan groan!

On a more positive note, I have taken back a few more of the morning and evening chores. Slowly but surely I am hoping to get back onto an even footing (no pun intended!).  And even though work has been crazy, it’s good getting back into the routine and seeing all my colleagues.  That’s not to say that I am not looking forward to the weekend!  Tomorrow is Friday all day :*)

Seasonal goings on

Early fall birch ridge
Early fall birch ridge

Along with the autumn inevitably come the trips to the butcher.  We did not have as many lambs this year as usual, and the last three who were not sold at weaning, are ready to go.  Before that happens, however, I have to decide if I am going to take their fleeces off to use in yarn, or leave it on and process them as pelts.

Boys in their pen, post-shearing
Boys in their pen, post-shearing

The disrepair of our greenhouses has pretty much decided this question for me.  Salting and drying the pelts before sending off to the tannery has become very difficult (due to the tears in the greenhouse covers), so I had our favorite shearer Emily come yesterday.

Emily and the white ram lamb
Emily and the white ram lamb

Luckily, the weather cooperated with us and they were nice and dry when Emily got here. It was a quick visit, and the three boys were actually a lot cleaner than I expected, even though they have been eating hay and exposed to some muddy situations.  My next job is to sort all the fleeces we have upstairs and make some decisions about what to make into yarn or roving, and which colors to combine or not.  Then to send it off to the mill. I really need to get this under control, we can barely get from the top of the stairs to the bedroom up there!

Morning’s charm

My old favorite blaze orange fleece vest
My old favorite blaze orange fleece vest

The last few mornings have been startlingly cool.  Not just nippy, but seriously down in the mid 30s.  Long sleeve t-shirt, long sleeve waffle weave, and yesterday I needed to haul out my trusty blaze orange fleece vest, in the pocket of which I actually found the debit card that I thought I lost about 6 months ago.  I could have even used some gloves to start with, too.  It was quite a wake up!

I love this time of year, it’s so much more pleasant to be able to get things accomplished outdoors.  And this morning I sat milking while listening to the engines of the fishing boats down in Round Pond, revving up for the day. We can’t see the water from our house, but it’s nice to be reminded of how close we really are (and how we don’t seem to take advantage of it as much as we wish we did!).

The autumn is definitely creeping up on us.  Not too many trees turning yet, but we will blink and it will be wild colors all around before we know it!

Just a pain

Gotta love these air casts!  No more fighting with the old Ace bandages
Gotta love these air casts! No more fighting with the old Ace bandages

I must have sprained my head before I sprained my ankle.  Another notch in my klutz belt, I guess.  Wednesday afternoon as I was going out to chores, I paused on the back steps as my husband called to me about something. When I got moving, I think I forgot that I was not on the bottom step, landed on the side of my left foot and went down.  And so it goes.  At least there are no broken bones!

Of course the sheep and goats hate a schedule change.  By the time we got home from the hospital on Wednesday evening, they were not happy.  Particularly not happy to see John instead of me.  Well, most just were annoyed at the late dinner hour.  SnowPea, however, had a tantrum and wouldn’t let her milk down for John.  She is a funny girl.  I figured that by the next morning she would be uncomfortable enough that she would let him milk her.  Same story again.  So by Thursday afternoon I talked John into driving me up to the greenhouse. SnowPea was a little alarmed at the crutches, but she was more than grateful to see me.  She kissed me as she got onto the milk stand.

Foot is much better this morning.  I am tired of sitting and anxious to get back to all the things I need to do.  We had the shearer scheduled for this afternoon with our 3 ram lambs, but all the rain we have been having combined with my gimpiness has put that off.  Luckily, the long range forecast for next weekend looks good.  So Emily will join us just in the nick of time, as the boys go to the butcher the next morning.  Phew!  Usually it all comes together in the end, but sometimes the cliffhanger is a killer!

Morning

A little light
A little light

Is looking like this.  I always have a little dread as the morning “chores in the dark” routine rolls around again.  It’s always an adjustment, and as the autumn comes on, it’s very dark out here in the Maine woods.  But it also brings with it a different peacefulness that is comforting as well.  A little a.m. zen.

And if I have to be doing chores before dawn, it’s kind of cozy to see the milking greenhouse in its little pool of lightness in the dark of the morning.  And even when it begins getting colder, I always have a warm goatie body to cuddle up against!

New pen

Yesterday was bright and warm, and as we were able to get an able-bodied teenager to come over and work with us, it was time for some winter fencing prep.

Working on the gate
Working on the gate

The boy’s area was cobbled together last November at the last moment, we had not expected to be using that side of the paddocks. So the green panels and galvanized panels, as well as the gates, were very hastily put up and they have been questionable ever since.  So it was time to get some of the 16′ cattle panels set up, finally.  The problem with those is that we need to pound green t-posts in to hold them up.  That’s usually the point where I have to walk away.  I can pound posts in in some parts of the paddocks, but where the boys are is a little rockier, and the earth is shallower there, over the granite outcropping.  So it’s a tricky one.  And someone with more power on the sledgehammer needs to be working with me!

My step grandson came over and we got to work.  It was difficult, but we got it in the end.  We moved the perimeter back a little bit so it’s easier to get a truck in and turned for deliveries and animal pickups.  And we really nailed the gate, I think.  Wow.  What a relief!  I still have more work to do on the other pens, but this was a huge step in the right direction.  Of course, today I could barely move my arms, my shoulders hurt, and, well, everything aches!  And I feel like I am coming down with a cold, but am hoping it’s just allergies.  The ragweed is really bad right now, and the wind has picked up.

Finished pen in the afternoon light
Finished pen in the afternoon light

So it was a good weekend. Today I got a little reading and resting in.  After the rain let up it was a gorgeous but cool day, windy and bright.  It really is getting on to autumn. Unfortunately, we still have a 90 degree day or two to go this week.  But it’s almost time for the 3 lambie boys to be leaving us, off to freezer camp.  The milestones of the year are definitely clicking by.

A Hay kind of afternoon

Hay man
Hay man

Luckily the weather has changed for what I believe is the better. Cooler, lovely breezes, in the 60s.  Can’t get any better than that!  Of course, back to school means not being out and enjoying the day, but when our hay man called yesterday and said that he could deliver a load, it was a good excuse to leave right at the end of the working day today and come home and get some time outside.

It was a pretty big load, and even though my husband wasn’t here to do his usual stacking thing, we got it taken care of in a relatively short time.  It’s good to have hay in the greenhouse (or snake house as a friend calls it).  Actually we didn’t come across any snakes this afternoon, which is unusual.  Maybe last night was so cold that they went into hiding elsewhere (it was in the high 30s or low 40s). So I am tired but pleased that we at least have one load in.  We don’t have enough room to put up our whole season’s hay at once, we do have to keep buying it through the year.  But anything is a help.

After that I took a half hour to put my feet up and have a little glass of wine before regular evening milking and chores.  Then I went out and got everyone taken care of, and now we are having a lovely evening in.  Love a nice Friday evening in!

Where is the ark when you need it?

I think that we have had more rain in the past 24 hours than we have had all summer. Sleeping was not even an option during the night as the rain not only poured buckets, but the lightning strikes sounded waaay too close for comfort!


I must have tossed and turned for 2-3 hours and finally fell back to sleep around dawn, and then of course overslept. When I went out to do chores, SnowPea was not convinced to get onto the milking stand, as it was wettish and a little slippery. (I really have to put a new tarp on that greenhouse before the wet weather of the autumn…). She would not budge, so back I headed to the house and grabbed some old towels and put one on the milk stand, and one on the plywood floor in front of that. She actually got onto the milk stand and turned and kissed me! (Well, it's more of a lick, but she was pretty happy). And so it goes

I had all kinds of plans for the last day before school begins in earnest, and of course I ended up doing something totally different! I went upstairs with my iPad into the fiber loft and tried to listen to a podcast while I continued to organize fleeces, roving, sewing paraphernalia, etc. We have a metal roof, and being upstairs means you are up close and personal to it as it's a timberframe construction, and I had to turn off the podcast. All I could hear was the rain on the roof, and the rain pouring off the dormer across the back. I can't complain, it had its own relaxing charm :*) I actually got a lot more accomplished up there than I thought I would, so I can't say that I am unhappy with my progress. There were a few lulls in the action and I managed to catch at least half of one of my favorite podcasts, Knit Knit Cafe.

And so it goes. We had a tiny lull in the rain, but chores were extremely messy. It's thundering and lightning again. Oh well! Here's hoping for a good night's sleep before the alarm at 4:20!

 

It’s been a long week!

A light in our greenhouse darkness
A light in our greenhouse darkness

And our long weekend has been a humid, muggy one so far.  It has been wonderful getting back to work and seeing all of my colleagues, but after we turned one of the buildings upside down looking for the paper cutter that was in the back room of the library, I guess it felt like we were really back!

Getting into an earlier morning routine leads to other issues as well.  We had not intended to get home so late last Tuesday night from Augusta, but at 9 PM I found myself out there trying to milk in the dark, with only a large, hand-held flashlight.  SnowPea wasn’t too thrilled with this o’dark thirty milking, but I eventually enticed her onto the stand.  I do not like using a headlamp at this time of year due to the fact that it draws clouds of moths right to my face, and after last summer’s experience with the moth in my ear, I am not anxious for that!

When I got home on Wednesday afternoon, I found that John had kindly fixed up a lamp in the milking greenhouse, far enough past the milkstand that it will give us light, but hopefully far enough away that we will be out of the ‘moth circle.’  With the way the daylight is rapidly vanishing, I am glad of this for sure.

Old and new
Old and new

Last Tuesday when we were out so late in Augusta, we were actually looking at new cars.  I have had a Subaru Forester for 11 years now, and it’s been well-loved and well-used, maybe a little too well-used!  After we had it a few years, it ended up being impressed into farm service and when John was working long days and we needed hay, I always picked up a few bales…  we know where that is going!  Our mechanic called my little Subaru The Hay Buggy, and has been begging us to get a new vehicle for a number of years now.  The truth is that things were beginning to fail on it, and going into the winter and needing to get to work every day before 7 AM, well, it was time.  I did not, however, expect to go and look at cars and come home with one the same day!  But we did, so we now have a new, dependable Subaru Forester.  Wow.  Let’s just hope that this one will last for at least 10 years!  And that the hay issue can always be taken care of by my husband with the truck :*)