We really seem to have winter now. Two snowstorms have left us with a bit of snow on the ground, and the temperatures are going to be dropping like an avalanche over the weekend. But it’s already almost the middle of February, so I am hoping that there can’t be too much horrible stuff left. Or at least we can hope!
This past weekend turned out to be a crazy one. Had to drive to North Jersey and pickup John’s brother’s truck. We have been having issues with our elderly F-350, and my brother in law does not drive anymore, so his F-250 was languishing there. It’s far from being a new truck, but it appears to be in pretty decent working order. The local roads were not great on Saturday morning when we set out, but after we got onto the highway it got better. 7 hours in the car is long, no matter how you slice it. We got the truck running, visited with my father in law, and by late afternoon we crashed at a hotel. I didn’t sleep very well, but we got up and turned around to come back north. John left before I did (I needed to make a run for some real NY bagels!) and we leap-frogged all the way home. He had to deal with a couple of small issues along the way, and we passed each other and met up a couple of times as well. Phew! So glad to be home in laid-back coastal Maine, out of that mess of traffic in the NY area.
On the way back I listened to the last book in one of my favorite series of all times. I love Terry Pratchett’s books in general, but my favorite series-within-a-series is the Tiffany Aching young adult group. (Wee Free Men; A Hat Full of Sky; Wintersmith; I Shall Wear Midnight; and The Shepherd’s Crown). The Shepherd’s Crown is the last book that Terry wrote before he died in 2015. The books take place in Discworld, but it’s about Tiffany Aching as she becomes the Hag of the Hills (the most powerful witch of The Chalk). And the little blue Wee Free Men are my faves. Even if you prefer reading books to listening to them, it’s worth a little listen to Stephen Briggs’ narration, because he really gives life to the characters, particularly to the Wee Free Men. It doesn’t get any better than that! I didn’t want it to end, but that’s the way it goes. In another year or two I can go back and listen to them again.
The audio definitely helped get me home. I have to tune up another audiobook to keep me on task with my quilt piecing :*) And it’s only two more days until our winter break, so it’s all good.
Happy New Year to one and all! I am an ornery sort and don’t make much of the January new year. Doesn’t make sense to me. I prefer the Jewish new year, or really what makes the most sense would be starting the new year on the winter Solstice. But that’s neither here nor there. I am just a new year humbug!
It’s taken me awhile to get back into the school routine after the break. Doing chores before daylight. Doing lots of driving (I admin 7 school libraries, in five rural towns. Big distances). At this point I am also rushing to get budget money spent before the central office freezes the funds, etc., etc. Same old story!
The plus of being in the car so much is, however, audiobooks :*) Right now I am getting to the end of listening to all 7 Harry Potter books right in a row. I have read all the books a number of times, and listened to them all as they were published, but doing it all in one go is awesome. I love Jim Dale the narrator, and could listen to him anytime. My listening list is long and not just full of Harry Potters, and I know it will get me through the school year.
The goats are doing well and enjoying the discarded Christmas trees. We cut ours in two and gave one half to each group, and then our friends at Hatchtown Farm gave us their tree and we did the same. They make very short work of it! Nothing better than sweet goatie breath after they have been munching on a balsam. It’s the best breath mint ever!
Today we are weathering the wind storm of the year. 40 mph gusts and many inched of rain. It’s going to be icy for morning chores. We have had a number of brown-outs, but so far no power outage for us. Hope we can get through without one.
I have had a most lovely read this past two days. We are beginning to get our book orders in at both my schools, and I snatched one of the books as I was cataloging them and could not put it down (an awesome perk of my job). It is a YA (young adult) novel, which is my favorite category of good reads. I just can’t get past them. I hardly ever read “adult” fiction anymore, I have such a wonderful supply of great literature at my fingertips.
This book, The Last Dragonslayer by Jasper Fforde, is just spectacular! I could not put it down. Wonderful characters, great plot, and a lot of action go a long way to making this a book I was sorry to leave.
An alternate UK reality is the setting for the book. Magicians and sorcerers have been losing their powers and they fear the old magic is going to disappear. The main character, Jennifer Strange, is an indentured foundling who runs the Kazam Mystic Arts Employment Agency for wizards and magicians, and she is very creative in trying to keep the agency afloat. Of course, the 15 year old Strange is in for some riotous adventures as she discovers some things about herself along the way to helping ‘Big Magic’ return to the Ununited Kingdoms. My favorite character in the book was Jennifer’s loyal Quarkbeast (“a small hyena-shaped creature. . .often described as one-tenth Labrador, six-tenths Velociraptor, and three-tenths kitchen food blender”) who tries to protect her and can only say”Quark!”.
I have not read any of Fforde’s adult novels, but I may have to take a look. The Last Dragonslayer is a funny and clever send up of politics in general, and also takes a big stab at consumer-driven culture. Very witty and an altogether fun read. There is a sequel out which I am going to get as an audiobook so I can listen in the car (Song of the Quarkbeast). If you love Terry Pratchett, Jasper Fforde will not let you down!
I am taking a Red Zinger tea break right now. Running from one thing to the next trying to get ready for a visit from my older son and his girlfriend for Memorial Day weekend. In reality, most of what I am doing is trying to continue getting ready for the Maine Fiber Frolic which is two short weeks from now! Yow! To that end, I did a little bit of yarn and lock dyeing today, but not as much as I had meant to.
I really needed to set up a temporary pen right outside of one of the paddocks so that I could get the three ewes and two goats in there to eat up the green stuff. It’s just enough to begin getting their rumens ready for more. So back I must go soon to invite them to return to their paddock. We are supposed to be getting some fairly serious rain tonight and tomorrow, and I don’t like to have them eating drenched grass early on before they are totally out on pasture. So they have had a few hours of fun. And I think it’s about time for me to get back to work!
(While I am rushing from one thing to the other, I decided that I would love to listen to one of my favorite audiobooks again. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is an excellent read, but it’s an even better audio. The book is a series of letters back and forth between all the characters, and the audio is done by a group of actors, so there is a male voice reading the letters from men, and female voices for the women. It’s fantastic! If you have a chance to give it a listen, it’s wonderful. Post WWII Europe, Channel Islands, remembrances of the islanders’ experience during the German occupation, and a little bit of a love story all rolled into one. Very satisfying!)
I keep hoping that time will slow down and that somehow a few more days can be slipped into each of these precious summer weeks. Too much to do, and some relaxing fun things would be lovely as well.
The weather has had quite a few ups and downs… with some extremely hairy storms this past Tuesday evening. I was at a meeting a little way down the peninsula and the wind was blowing and the rain came down in sheets for quite awhile. After it began to let up, we all pointed to the slightly yellowy-grey weird sky color. It’s what I call a tornado sky. We all joked that it couldn’t be the case, but today I heard on the news that a tornado did touch down in Woolwich, which is just about 10 miles south of here on Route 1. So we really weren’t crazy. Of course, it measured a “0” on the Fujita Scale, but nevertheless, it was quite dramatic. (Not that I want to see one come through here as more than a “0” at all. We have enough crazy North Easters to deal with during the year).
Yesterday was fantastically gorgeous and I had serious intentions for dyeing or felting, but I ended up at work for the morning and when I came home I couldn’t resist sitting down with lunch and reading just one more chapter of the second book in Carol Drinkwater’s series about the olive farm that she and her husband took on in the south of France. Being home alone, I ended up having another cup of coffee and I kept reading! It was a delicious way to spend the afternoon, and now of course I want to read the third book, but sadly, do not have a copy yet.
Some of our daily entertainment involves our remaining two laying hens. Bad Chicken #1 (aka Henny Penny) lives up with the sheep and goats, while Bad Chicken #2 (aka Chicken Licken) hangs out behind the house and in the garage. They have both had a bout of broodiness which we tried to use to our advantage by adding some fertile eggs to Henny Penny’s nest. We really should have bet on Chicken Licken as she gave those 17 eggs of hers almost 7 weeks. Henny Penny’s nest was raided a short time after we got some good eggs under her and all of her eggs were eaten. But our clucky #2 gave it her best. And now she is really becoming a pest… during her broodiness she only left the nest about twice a day, looking for food. She puttered around under the bird feeder by the back door and so we began to throw some scratch out there for her. I guess that wasn’t the smartest thing to do as now she comes right up onto the back steps and pecks at the screen door, making a big fuss, and leaving us other surprises on the stairs as well. She and the chihuahua have faced off a little on each side of the door, but the chicken always wins that war of nerves!
We spent the rest of yesterday checking on our little doelings and making sure that they had fly repellent on them. Our special little one spent most of the day tucked in beside her mother sleeping, and I have to give Pippi a lot of credit, she hung with her baby until dinnertime without being far from her. By the time I did chores last night the little one was playing hard with her sister and her cousins while the moms got down to serious eating. So I think she is on the mend and her hornbud looks dry and hopefully uninviting to the local fly population!
Last night we had a wonderful meeting of our Salt Bay Treadlers in Damariscotta. It was an extremely fun evening with plenty of food, laughter and spinning. I got to bed a lot later than usual due to my asthma acting up, but it was ok as I didn’t have to get up at any specific time today. It turned out to be a much more pleasant day than I had expected and I got a bunch of things accomplished. I didn’t get down to the Round Pond parade due to my breathing, but I got some organizing around the kitchen done which made me feel a lot better. And then I spent most of the afternoon catching up on a book I am reading, The Olive Farm by Carol Drinkwater. I started this book a few years ago and then work got crazy and I put it aside. It’s one of my favorite types of “adult” reading, a memoir of a woman changing her focus in life. Buying an olive farm in Provence and all of the attendant woes is right up my alley. I loved all of the Peter Mayle books about moving to Provence and I am equally enjoying Carol Drinkwater’s experiences in southern France. It’s nice to be able to take a humid afternoon off to just sit and read and I am happy that I did. Some of the stress of the schoolyear is beginning to ease. It was a good day!
This has been one of the most relaxing and beautiful Labor Day weekends that I can remember. After Tropical Storm Earl exited the area on Saturday fairly early in the day, we could feel the cooler, drier air begin to arrive. Early in the evening I picked up another wonderful book, this time a young adult novel set in Greece during WWII. Couldn’t put it down! (War Games by Audrey and Akila Couloumbis). Yesterday was the last hurrah of the Pemaquid Point Farmer’s Market and the day couldn’t have been more accommodating. From where we had our table set up we could see Muscongus Bay rolling in with little white caps, as well as the Pemaquid Point lighthouse. Not a difficult chore! Lots of nice folks came by and had a chat as well.
And then today our friend Chris from Brunswick came by to get a little lesson in yarn and fiber dyeing, so we set up our stuff in the driveway and went at it. It was a lot of fun.
The men were having their fun as well: our son had picked up a new tree stand, so he tried it out in the front of the house. You can just see John in his blue shirt and jeans to the right of the tree that JD was inching his way up!
OK, so I never got another post written about the absolutely amazing book that I read a few weeks ago, Goat Song by Brad Kessler. I was blown away by his writing as well as by the story of the way he and his wife got into raising goats in Vermont. I can’t find a website or a blog to link to, but I highly recommend the book if you want to read a very inspiring look at the connections between humans and domesticated farm animals. While moving sheep fence down the street in the pasture today I had a chance to think about how lucky we are to be doing what we are doing with all the wonderful sheep and goats here. I am feeling the pressure of impending “back-to-work” mindset, so I guess I am enjoying the last fleeting moments of the summer, as well as enjoying the time to do more reading and feeling a connection to other folks who are doing what we are trying to do :*)
Our friend Pam of Hatchtown Farm loaned me a copy of the book The Year of the Goat by Margaret Hathaway with photos by her husband Karl Schatz the other day and I have not been able to put it down! Another great book about goats. A very moving story of two people who give up their comfy life in NYC and travel the country meeting with goat people, and then settling down in Maine. And to top it all off, they have a wonderful blog at Living with goats that chronicles what their life is like now on their farm, Ten Apple Farm in southern Maine. As I finish the book I am going to have to go back and read through their blog archives, but the few posts I have read are great. Another blog for the Google Reader to keep me updated on! More Jewish farmers in Maine. Yay!
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!