Thanksgiving after all

Conferencing around the greenhouse door
Conferencing around the greenhouse door

We ended up doing Thanksgiving on Friday. Our electricity returned late in the afternoon on Thursday, so there was no point in getting a 16 pound turkey in the oven then. And we weren’t even really sure if the power was going to stay on, so we waited.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays of the year, if not my favorite. It’s all about being thankful for what we have, which is so much, and for family and friends and our whole life, really. So we lived it up with our grandson and our 80-something year old British neighbor, Susie, and had a marvelous day and evening. I cut the meal back to the basics: turkey, gravy, stuffing, green beans and cranberry sauce. I am glad that we did! It was more than enough for the 4 of us, and we chatted and laughed into the evening.

The goats got an extra share of 2nd cut hay, and they seemed happy in their newer shelter. The snow slid off the roof, and all was quiet and good. The only negative on the night was that I found a poor little field mouse in an empty 5 gallon bucket, stiff and dead. I don’t know if the neighbor’s cat chased it into the greenhouse or what. I tipped the little fellow out, and left him for some other creature’s dinner.

I keep waiting for one of the other does to come into heat, but so far no one is budging. So we wait. I could not get the breeding area set up the way I wanted to because of all the snow, but we shall see, maybe during the week I can tweak things a bit. I have a very skewed idea of what I can get done on a workday afternoon, obviously!

I can’t believe that it’s December 1st tomorrow. The days are moving right along, at warp speed! Pretty soon it will be Solstice, for which I am waiting with bated breath. Got to turn this darkness around soon :*)

All tarped up on Thanksgiving

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Just in time, too. Our greenhouse covers are pretty torn up, most on their last legs. I have been planning to use the milking greenhouse as the girl’s shelter for the winter, and we have a heavy-duty tarp on order, but it won’t be in until next week. We had another one, not even close to the right size, so yesterday, just ahead of the heavy snow, we got it on as best we could.

Living on the coast, we usually don’t get the same amount of snow that inland gets, but this time we did. A foot of heavy, wet stuff. I am really relieved that we got that tarp on when we did. The does and bucks definitely appreciated it. They were hanging out there this morning when I got out for chores, and this afternoon as well. When the snow is dry and the ground is frozen, frequently the girls will hang out on the hill, but in the heavy wet stuff, it’s no fun. Having a dry spot to go into is a definite plus. Their other greenhouse is a half-shelter which does the job, but they seem to prefer this one to that.

Because of the storm, we lost power yesterday afternoon for a few hours. Power came back on after that, so we turned the generator off and went about our business. I was reading in bed last night and around 9 PM the lights went out. Well, I just called it good and went to sleep. We didn’t get our power back until today around 3 PM. Needless to say, we did not have our Thanksgiving meal! We are going to plan on that for tomorrow, and this way our grandson will be able to join us. So it all works out in the end. Thanksgiving a day late is okay!

Chicks

Pigeon chicks
Pigeon chicks

The three pigeon chicks that were hatched late last week are doing well so far. I expected them to look radically different each day, but at this point in their growth, apparently not! They definitely look a little stronger, and their little heads are not wobbling around like rag dolls, but they are still almost all beak, dark unopened eyes, and a few funny feathers!

Pigeon chick #3
Pigeon chick #3

I am trying to get photos of them every other day or so. It’s all a new baby adventure, and we are excited to see how they grow. The mama and daddy birds take equal care of the hatching, feeding and nurture of the chicks. Quite impressive, seeing as how many mammals don’t manage that!

Warm and sunny Sunday

New paddock fence line
New paddock fence line

What a pleasant day! 50 F and sunny! I don’t know if we will be getting any more like this, so I had to make the most of it. We were stopped short from replacing the tarp on one of the livestock greenhouses, but we have a definite plan in place and I got a lot of other stuff accomplished. I had to move the outside cattle and green panels on the doe’s paddock so they would have access to the milking greenhouse for extra shelter. It took a lot of bending and hauling, and I am seriously exhausted and sore tonight!

SnowPea and Bagels the Buck taking a little break
SnowPea and Bagels the Buck taking a little break

A bright part of the day, beside how beautiful it was, is that SnowPea was in heat this morning. Since I do not have the breeding pen set up yet, I decided to help love along and I got Bagels on a leash and locked him up with SnowPea in our little catch-pen. They definitely had a good time, and when Bagels began showing more interest in the young one outside the pen who is also in heat, I thought it was enough. He is back in with the other boys, and all the girls are tucked up on their side.

So it was a good day’s work. And if SnowPea was truly bred today, we should be having baby goaties on Wednesday, April 22nd next year. Wow.

Helluva month

Marigold the doeling
Marigold the doeling, looking for her sister, Iris, who left the farm last Saturday

It’s been one of the craziest Novembers that I can remember. Folks in the Great Lakes are getting hammered with multiple feet of snow, and we have had some pretty cruel temperatures here as well. Tomorrow morning is supposed to be the coldest of the season so far, but after that there should be a little warm up. And I am definitely looking forward to that!

Walking in the paddocks has been a little bit easier the past few days because the mud has firmed up, but it also causes a little bit of a slowdown at chore time, because the walking is also hazardous due to the peaks and valleys in the frozen mud (made by my feet and little hooves). But, I do like having a good freeze-off so that I worry less about the parasite situation with the goats.

#827 is a daddy!
#827 is a daddy!

And we have some news today: our first pigeon chicks hatched. They are definitely “so ugly they are cute” material, with their gigundas beaks and their huge eyes and not-much-for-feathery-covering. Hopefully they do okay, as they are in the general population area (our breeding room is not quite finished yet). Lovely to get a little bit of new life on the farm even as we are going into the hard months of winter. Nice for a pre-Solstice event!

 

Doelings

Baby Iris, one of Zelda's girls. April 2014
Baby Iris, one of Zelda’s girls. April 2014

So it finally worked out. Long range planning for the farm means that we cannot keep all the beautiful babies that are born here each year. I hate having to make the decision about who is to go, but it needs to be done or we would be overrun with goats!

Elf's girl
Elf’s girl

I had advertised the two doelings that I needed to move along over the summer a few times, without any response. And then a few weeks ago we were contacted by someone from the Bangor area about wanting two LaMancha does. We spoke and emailed for quite a few days, and came to an agreement about them. Being as she lives almost 3 hours from here, we decided to meet in Belfast. About an hour and a half drive for each of us. Saturday was the day, and into my new-ish Subaru they went. Iris is a very calm and friendly doe, Elf’s girl is a little more nervous about people, so I was a little concerned about keeping the trip low-key, and as laid-back as possible.

It was a gorgeous but extremely cold day, and everything went like clockwork. As soon as I started up the car the girls lay down, and we took it easy up the coast and into the Reny’s giant parking lot in Belfast. The wind was brutal there, but we made the switch and the girls settled into a large dog crate in the back of their van, and off they went.

Elf is now left without her baby, and I really thought that we would have a few rough nights. She bellowed piteously for an hour or two, and since then has been okay. And now we are having the cold rains, so two less bodies in the greenhouse is probably a good thing, more room in the straw for everyone else.

It’s just about time to get the breeding started. Next weekend I am hoping to have a pen set up that I can segregate for the little love birds :*)

Mid-November already

Yesterday morning
Yesterday, early morning

Midweek holidays don’t come around very often, now that most of them have been moved to Mondays, and Veteran’s Day felt like a real treat yesterday. I began fairly early, and got out to pen and worm the goatie girls. Sometimes that’s a bruising activity, but things went pretty smoothly. (Strong necks and heads don’t always want to cooperate with a dosing syringe full of stuff that doesn’t taste so nice! And if they put their heads down and hold them there, it’s almost impossible to dose them. Their other trick is going air born, of course!).

Felt more like spring yesterday afternoon
Felt more like spring yesterday afternoon

My husband and I did have a lot of errands to run, but it was a pleasure to be out and about on such a beautiful day. Even though we were busy, it was a fun and relaxing day. Sleeping in until 5:30 yesterday morning was a real pleasure as well, and the weather cooperated and was extremely mild.  But the real treat in the afternoon: ice cream for lunch! One of our favorite ice cream places in Thomaston, Dorman’s Dairy Dream, just happened to be open :*)

Still warm today, but it won’t be for much longer. Actually, they are talking about a significant cool-down tonight, and cold and snowy for Friday morning.

So glad that John had the forethought to get my snow tires on today!

 

That went quickly

Gentle Sunday skies
Gentle Sunday skies

It’s Sunday night again. We have power tonight, as opposed to last weekend, but it is the end of the weekend as well. Oh dear, didn’t get nearly as much accomplished as I had hoped, but we did make some progress on a few things.

Bucket of rocks
Bucket of rocks

I was mostly moving rocks for the better part of the end of the afternoon. Nothing glamorous about that, but it had to be done. Some of our cattle panels in the paddocks lean outward, because the green t-posts that are holding them up are sitting on ledge. Granite. So they droop. Someone we know who used to raise sheep not far from here used tall spirals of wire that she filled with rocks, as a support for the t-posts. I have made a few of these before, with very unsatisfactory results (because I used chicken wire for the baskets, and they all broke and exploded their rocks everywhere).

Half a rock pillar support!
Half a rock pillar support!

So this time I used different wire, tried to fashion a little bit of a bottom, and then went about filling it. My grandson and I have been making a small pile of good sized rocks since last spring, and today I used them. But they were about 2 acres away from where I needed them, so I got the black rubber bucket, and shuttled away. Where are those grandkids when you need help???

Milking greenhouse. Empty!
Milking greenhouse. Empty!

The other thing I worked on was getting the milking greenhouse cleared out. I am moving things around and am going to try and use that as part of the girl goats’ shelter this winter. Maybe with an eye to using it for kidding in the springtime.

Otherwise, John and our son and grandson worked on electrical things in the pigeon loft. It was a busy day, and I was glad of the hot bath and pot roast out of the crock pot tonight. I think it is going to be an early night!

And we have power

Cleanup in progress
Cleanup in progress

Came back on Wednesday afternoon, late in the day. 4:30ish. Not too soon for us! The outside cleanup continues, and as it has, the snow has melted and we ended up with some warmer weather.

Getting the driveway clearer of the downed trees
Getting the driveway clearer of the downed trees

Now I have to get after the mess we made in the house moving things from one place to another. Almost every electronic thing had to be charged each in its turn, in the bathroom at the one lonely outlet that was electrified. No light in the bedroom, so clothes were piled everywhere. Kitchen is a disaster. But that is part of what makes an episode like this so exhausting, even though we had heat and water. That’s just the way it goes!

Part of the driveway mess
Part of the driveway mess

Such First World problems we have!

No power, but blue skies return

Blue skies took over earlier today
Blue skies took over earlier today

Day 3. No school for a second day, either. But it got a lot warmer and the snow came off the roof like gangbusters. Looking at the map of power-outages in Maine, we are still in relatively tough shape in Lincoln County. Our section of Bristol is not expected to regain power until tomorrow night or Thursday. Sigh. The YMCA in town is offering free showers, which is wonderful for a lot of folks. We are lucky enough to have a big Honda generator that is hooked in to our electrical panel and it runs our water, heat, and a couple of lights. Our “charging” center only works from one outlet in the house, which happens to be in the bathroom!

Coffee grinder and power charging all of our "devices" at the only outlet that is connected!
Coffee grinder and power charging all of our “devices” at the only outlet that is connected!

So we are comfortable, but every day it’s another trip to town to buy a few more cans of gas, and fooling around with the generator. At least we can keep our elderly neighbor in water for flushing and drinking, and the animals aren’t hurting, either.

And so the meteorological winter season comes to us a little earlier than we had wanted to meet it. With the time change, it already feels like darkest winter by 5 PM!