Energy drain central around here this week. I have not had the mojo to do much more than deal with the cold chore routine and work. And meetings. And chores in the dark, and work. But, this week has thankfully come almost to an end on a very welcome note… we went to bed last night and the temperature was 9F and blowing half a gale. Got up this morning and had to actually take a photo of the thermometer! 24F.
Maybe the slightly warmer weather will rejuvenate me. I don’t know why this week has felt worse than the last month or two but it’s just been a slog. Hopefully looking up. I won’t complain about snow if the temps can be consistently over 10! I actually mostly enjoy the winter with the cold clearness that it brings, and the evenings of knitting and reading.
And so it goes. Even in the midst of the brutal cold, the light is returning and so we will enjoy it as we can. And as the spring moves closer, I am beginning to feel the excitement of looking forward to the advent of birthing and goat kids. So as my son says, it’s all good :*)
It’s another weather roller coaster. Yesterday was the quintessential winter day: gusty wind, grey rolling clouds, occasional blowing snow. AND around 30 degrees. I didn’t even need a hat to do afternoon chores! Of course overnight it stayed fairly warm, only down into the upper teens, but as today wore on, with beautiful clear blue skies, the temperature fell. It’s about 10F right now and breezy. Supposedly tomorrow will be warmer again, with some snow showers. Perhaps I will be able to pry some of the ice out of the bottom of the boys’ water bucket.
Today was a general cleanup day. I have been trying to make a dent in the paper pile on the table, along with catching up on a little cooking (meatballs and sauce) and kitchen cleanup. I have done a little more knitting on my Hitchhiker, and also became engrossed in a my newest mystery read, Christopher Fowler’s Bryant & May/Peculiar Crimes Unit series. I do not know how I have missed this, there are at least 10 books in the series and I am hooked. The first book, Full Dark House, opens with the last case that the two friends will solve, and keeps going back to the first case that they worked in 1940 wartime London. Fowler’s use of language is superb, and I love the history and mystery combined. I am a mystery junkie, and British mysteries in particular are some of my favorites. So it was a good day all around, with the exception of the return of the cold temps!
The one really beautiful thing about this time of year when the temperatures are hovering around zero with windchills in the negative numbers, is the sky. All the cold, clear air shows off a hypnotic blue when the sun is out, and glorious pinks and reds around sunset and sunrise. This afternoon’s temperatures were ridiculous, and even though I use heavy face cream, when I came in my face was burned from the cold. Crazy.
More knitting is happening, thank goodness. It makes me feel like I have a hedge against the cold, somehow. Martina Behm is one of my favorite knitting designers, and for awhile now I have been wanting to knit her Hitchhiker scarf/shawlette. I came across some yarn that I had bought last year at the Spa weekend in Freeport, and it was the perfect fit for the pattern (String Theory Caper Sock in shale). I needed a good portable project, so I got started. Oh my gosh, is this an addictive knit! It’s an asymmetrical scarf that is longer than it is wide, and is about a 7 row repeat. It’s a no-brainer and too much fun! As it goes along you bind off 5 stitches every 7 rows, while at the same time you are increasing like crazy. Love it. Just the right project for a cold winter evening!
Finally! We got the party off the ground yesterday, unfortunately without a few of our favorite people. The weather lent a lot of atmosphere to the day, but the snow was pretty persistent and when you live on a road that’s far off the main roads, it’s always difficult to predict the condition of the mains. The only reason this was an issue was because our friend Chris in Brunswick hosts the party, and that is about 20 miles from our house, but much farther for a few of the other members. So I picked up Pam from Hatchtown Farm, and our roads were atrocious, but then we got out onto Route 1 and everything was fine.
We excel at putting on a party that involves great food, fiber and friends. So we ate a beautiful meal and we did our show and tell with our island retreat fiber projects, which are totally awesome! (On our Vinalhave retreat last summer we dyed the fiber with cochineal bugs and some with osage orange, and each of us took two small skeins and some uncarded fiber to come up with a project). I knitted a hedgehog pin cushion, Pam made a beautiful wine cozy, Christine knit a fantastic warm and beautiful headband, Chris felted a snowman who wears a scarf knit from the yarn and is holding a heart made from the fiber as well. We are dying to see the project that our other island friend has made, but we will have to wait for that one. We also do a ‘hot potato’ gift pass around our circle which is always a lot of fun. I do not have my gift yet, as it will come from our friend who didn’t make it.
And so we finally were able to have an afternoon of laughter and fun. With a lot of great food! Now it really feels like the new year can begin!
Yesterday afternoon the Maine Cooperative Agricultural extension held one of their traveling workshops on handling raw milk and milk products. It was close enough that I was able to go, but 3 hours wasn’t nearly long enough! I am not usually able to get to the full day workshop on dairy and milking room sanitation which is held in March, so this at least was a bit of a help. Lots of great information, but better yet were the attendees and the extension staff. Lots of knowledge in a group like that. Lots to think about as I work toward the possibility of getting a licensed dairy up and running.
In the meantime, today we are off to our Salt Bay Treadlers rescheduled Christmas party. I can hardly wait :*)
Partly the time of year, I know, but I usually have a few knitting projects on the needles at all times. Multiple projects in the works usually mean that I don’t get very far on any of them, but they each serve a purpose (knitting that’s portable for faculty meetings, knitting for relaxing at night, etc.). I try to stay away from gift knitting because it actually has a ‘must be done by’ date, but baby gifts are different!
I am reasonably sure that the recipient of this gift does not read the blog, so I am posting the photo. I love making the little Owlie Sleep Sacks that I began making a few years back, and since I had some superwash merino yarn on hand that I had painted, I thought I should use it. For once in my life I actually got something finished a week before the gift needed to be given! I am not wrapping it still damp from blocking! (Although I am very glad that I washed it when I did the other day, because it took a few days to really dry nicely… it’s been warmer this week and the furnace hasn’t been cranking). I am not a huge fan of superwash yarn. It feels funny when it gets wet, almost slippery. but it should be a help to a busy mom because it is washable.
More finished objects that have been blocked as well are the hats I knit for the Halos of Hope Foundation. (They donate hats to chemo patients all over the country). I used to do a lot of preemie hat knitting when we lived in NJ and I have only recently learned of the Halos group. Some of my favorite knitting podcasters are challenging their loyal listeners to a ‘throwdown’ that involves donating hats to the Halos foundation, but logging them in the name of their favorite podcast. I believe the final tallies will be counted the weekend of Stitches West which is on February 23rd and 24th at the Santa Clara Convention center in California. Most of the podcasts are pulling names of their donating knitters to win prizes, etc., but I am sure that most people agree that it’s just nice to be able to knit something that someone will get some good use from. I am throwing my two hats in with the Knitmore Girls podcast and the Knit Knit Cafe podcast. The podcaster teams really have quite the rivalry going, which hopefully is bringing more hats in. The purpley-blue hat in the photo is from a Woolly Wormhead pattern in Wee Woolly Toppers (Tubey). It’s much cuter in person than in the photo! The yellow hat is just a simple cap with ribbing.
So I have actually finished some knitting projects which feels pretty good. The problem is that I now have to decide what to knit next! And there are about 20 things that I would like to get going…
That make my socks go up and down. Like walking up the driveway to do chores and not worrying about falling on the ice. I can’t believe that we have had a January thaw and after the rain we did not have a minus degree freeze up. Amazing! All the sheep and goats were out today romping on the ground that is now empty of snow, and the nice rock piles are really looking very inviting. The sun was out for awhile, but even without it, it felt great.
It was an all-around wonderful weekend. I was able to get together with some work friends and we actually pulled off a Saturday night soiree. I have not been up past 9 or 10 PM in a long time, and it was a very good time. A very relaxing weekend altogether.
And so the deep freeze continues, with the promise of a small warmup this weekend. With wind and rain, of course! The aftermath of the 40F temperatures on Monday combined with torrential rain into the evening had predictable results: our whole driveway and areas around the animal paddocks turned into a skating rink. All the crunchy snow that was safe to walk on was gone. Even in the paddocks the sheep and goats slid from here to there. Enthusiastically running down the hill to meet me at the gate when I showed up with the grain was something of a downhill ski event. I am surprised more of the ewes didn’t just smash right into the fence. No one was hurt, and my fears about wet sheep and goats developing pneumonia from the gale force winds and plummeting temperatures into the night so far have not come to pass. I obsessively threw down straw in the greenhouses in the hopes that they would be good little animals and seek shelter for the worst of it, which they did. (The ewes will sit out in almost anything).
Because of the weather, my school district was closed on Monday so I had a chance to get outside many times during the day to finally get rid of most of the icy snow residue that has been hanging around on the greenhouses, worrying me quite a bit. After the first snow I got a good bit of it off, but some of it froze and was getting heavier and heavier. The rain actually did us a bit of a favor with that one.
We finally got someone to get some sand and grit on our driveway, so yesterday was considerably easier going on that end. And we will hope that the weather doesn’t decide to throw too much more at us in the next few weeks!
It was a balmy 6F this morning when I went out to feed the hungry crowd (and it got up into the high 20s by this afternoon). It really did feel warm compared to the past few days, and it was good to get the girls fed out of the greenhouse. They have been cooped up and crunched in together, which the ewes do not normally tolerate. If the wind and the temperatures had not been so extreme, the ewes would not have taken shelter inside. And I have been very grateful that they have been. I hate to worry about pneumonia in the flock.
This morning everyone was out and about. Even after all the hay was out on the clean snow, 3 of the girls were having none of it. They were very concerned about re-negotiating who is the queen of the paddock (they can worry about this all they want, the goats are really the ones in control!). Esther and HoneyBea were the two biggest contenders, and Fern, the one and only white sheep, kept putting her two cents in as well. There was shoving from behind, and head butting galore. Every time they separated there was a lot of pawing at the ground to indicate their displeasure with the outcome of their negotiations! By the time I stopped taking video, they all just shrugged and found some hay and gave it up. This afternoon everyone was fine, all were lined up as usual at the feeder for grain, and each ewe and doe found their place at the flakes of hay like clockwork. You just never know. 7 ewes and 4 does in the paddock have their issues from time to time!
Tomorrow brings us 40 degree temperatures with heavy rain, and then by tomorrow night we are supposedly going into the deep freeze. Hopefully the YakTrax on my boots will keep my upright. Fingers crossed :*) I can hardly wait.
Well, we got back to work for a half day yesterday. The snow was coming hard and fast from before we even got to school, and we got a legal half day in! Today, thankfully, we had a snow day. I would not have been able to get out of the driveway even with a delay. It’s been quite the weather show.
The real problem comes with the temperatures. We never got above zero degrees today. It was -18 when I got up this morning, and by the time I did chores it was -14 with high, gusting winds. Always fun! I fed everyone inside as best as I could, but the ewes and the does need to have some space, or there is fighting over hay. Everyone is ok. They have water (thank goodness for the tank heater) and enough shelter to keep the wind away. The two boys are hunkered in with Zorro the fuzzy llama, and they seem to be fine. We are feeding out more hay than usual, in the hopes that they will keep their calorie intake up and make more body heat. This has been such an unusual winter so far, I do not even know what to say. Except that we are all still here and doing okay!
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!