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And it’s here

The bucks in one of their favorite spots, the empty hay feeder
The bucks in one of their favorite spots, the empty hay feeder

At last the weekend! All I could think of this morning was how much my feet ached and hurt, even after an extremely good night’s rest. Pounding the concrete floors in school takes some getting used to after the summer.

Sleeping in until almost 6 was heavenly this morning. As soon as I got up I hurried out to do chores, and the morning didn’t let me down, it was a glorious one. Crisp and perfect. After I fed and watered my crew we had some packing up of racing birds to do, and this weekend we are racing 10 of our 15 remaining flyers. Because of the eastward moving wall of rain we are having right now, instead of going south to be released in Massachusetts, we believe they are being taken to Montpelier, Vermont for the morning’s rally. Should be another interesting race, navigating the White Mountains. It’s amazing that each weekend and really, each training session, I find it incredibly amazing when the birds come soaring over the trees to home.

Marigold and Iris, happy in their gluttony!
Marigold and Iris, happy in their gluttony!

Today I went up to one of our hay suppliers and got some Canadian compressed hay for the girls. I am anxiously awaiting the Canadian second cut, but it’s not arrived yet. In the past few months my husband’s friend has been helping build our pigeon loft and many of his tools had been stored in the greenhouse that we use for hay storage. The other day he took most of his tools home, and there was 3/4 of a bale of compressed Canadian second cut hay from last winter standing there, magically exposed! I put some in with the girls’ hay tonight and it created a total feeding frenzy. Marigold and Iris always tuck their heads in at one end of the feeder, and I wish I had thought to take a video. Their grins were enormous, and their sweet grunts of happiness were funny as anything. It started a little tussle at the other end of the feed bunker, but after a moment or two all the girls and Zorro the Llama had their places staked out and were happily munching away. The hay that most of us can grow and harvest on the coast of Maine is not usually as nutritious as the hay that can be grown in less foggy and moist summer climates. It’s funny that we have better access to Canadian hay than we have to hay that’s been grown in the Midwest of the United States.

I am glad they got their dinner in before the rains came. Now I am hunkered down with a glass of wine and the end of one of my favorite mysteries on my iPad at hand. (Louise Penny’s Inspector Gamache series, The Long Road Home). I am loathe to finish it, because that means that I have to wait another year or so for the next one! Quelle horreur!

Turtle skies

Sunday sky
Sunday sky

Sunday, as advertised, was spectacular. We scurried around and got as much done outside as we possibly could. The sky remained a fantastic blue, and the clouds were phenomenal and quickly moving.

Painted turtle mama
Painted turtle mama
Snapper turtle mama
Snapper turtle mama

I did mega loads of laundry, and on one of my trips outside to drape something over a drying rack, I almost ran right into one of the springtime sojourners on the farm: turtles, of course! I love finding the painted turtle mamas making their way along the driveway and around the side of the house, but this time, I almost walked right into the path of a very large snapping turtle. Eek! I don’t mess with them, I give them a wide berth. So I backed up, and then decided to take her photo. She was right in front of where I park my car. And the day after we saw that there is a lot of dirt dug up near the garage. I don’t think she laid her eggs in that hole, but I guess she was testing it out.

It’s definitely the time of the turtle here in coastal Maine.

Old and new

New pot on the left, old one on the right
New pot on the left, old one on the right

I know this is nuts, but I am coffee crazy. I don’t consider my day to be actually started until I get my first cuppa. For many, many years I was the only one who had coffee before leaving the house, so I used a one-cup drip Melitta. Easy, no big cleanup. But about 8 years ago our younger son came home to live and when he began working very early hours, I began thinking about the possibility of a coffee maker. Heresy! And that Columbus Day weekend I went out and found a coffee maker on sale and bought it. I knew nothing about drip coffee makers, and got a Cuisinart. I was in love! It was so wonderful to have coffee waiting for us when we got up, that I very definitely got used to it.

Fast forward to Tuesday of last week. The day began badly when I slept in until 4:25 AM. So the first strike was against me. (I get up at 4:10 on weekdays). So I was scrambling right from the get-go. When I shuffled out into the kitchen to grab my cup of joe I noticed that the whole tile counter was wet and the grout was dark and damp. Hmm. I took the carafe of the coffee maker out and was a little concerned that there wasn’t very much coffee in the pot. Hmm. It was too early to think this hard! Eventually, I realized that the reservoir had been leaking overnight, and began the cleanup. What a giant pain! I was extremely grumpy because I couldn’t even begin to enjoy my first cup of the morning, and to top it off I couldn’t fill my travel mug with my usual cup. Woe is me! Coffee rules my mornings, how sad is that!

Unfortunately the day didn’t get much better once I got to work. Just one of those things… thank goodness the sheep, goats, husband  and knitting were waiting for me when I got home. And thanks to the Big South American River, we had a new coffee maker here by Friday. Another Cusinart, just slightly different. The reviews online are pretty bad across the board on them, but since we got 8 years out of the last one, I am going to give this one a try. So far, so good. Variable heat plate temperatures and variable time for the unit to remain on are big features for me. Oh the small pleasures of the morning!

Can’t even hear the music

This morning. Flakes as big as dinner plates (Thanks, Pam, for that description!)
This morning. Flakes as big as dinner plates (Thanks, Pam, for that description!)

And the roller-coaster weather continues. Wednesday evening we got all the wet, heavy snow, and yesterday it was a pretty awesomely beautiful day. But this morning we woke to sleet, giant snow flakes that weighed at least 9 pounds each, and then things turned to rain, sleet, back to snow, and now we are just getting pummeled with such hard rain that I can’t hear the music playing on my iPad. Our metal roof and roof windows transfer the sounds very eloquently!

Snow and rain mixed. Yuck.
Snow and rain mixed. Yuck.

I love the sound of rain on the roof, but I have to say that this is a little over the top for February. We are even getting thunder along with it! They predicted some ‘thunder snow,’ but not this relentless rain. Yuck! I can hardly wait to see what the conditions will be out in the paddocks tomorrow morning. I hope it doesn’t get cold enough to make a field of glare ice. Sigh.

The Azalea. Spring in a pot!
The Azalea. Spring in a pot!

The one bright spot in the house right now is the gorgeous azalea plant that my son and his family gave me for my 60th birthday. It’s still sitting on the messy counter, but I love it and it’s bright spot of salmon-pink. I am not sure where it will be planted in the spring, if the spring ever comes! I want it to be someplace where I can enjoy the sight of it from the house, if possible. This winter has been so rough that I have not even been captivated by the seed catalogs. Oh well, the growing bellies on our goatie girls give me great contentment every chore time, mixed with a little sadness that we will not be welcoming any lambs this spring. The first spring in this house that we have not had them. 11 years have slipped by so quickly! Another very big sigh. Change is good, but difficult :*)

Weekend weather tease

Another cold and beautifully clear day
Another cold and beautifully clear day

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.

The African violet is again in full bloom!
The African violet is again in full bloom!

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!

Miscellaneous Monday

High Plains Drifter shawl being wet-blocked
High Plains Drifter shawl being wet-blocked

It’s one of those days: getting a little bit of this and that done, not getting anything big accomplished. We had rain, ice and snow last night, and it was so bad around 7:30 PM last night that our satellite dish was not behaving, so I missed about the first ten or fifteen minutes of the Call the Midwife Christmas special! Aargh! I am going to find some time this evening to watch the beginning again. This is one of the few tv programs that I actually seek out, there isn’t much on the tube that interests me in general. Unfortunately, the third season of Midwife doesn’t begin until sometime in March. Oh well. It will be here before we know it!

As the temperatures have begun to go down again and the wind is coming up this afternoon, I finally got around to setting up my foam pads upstairs so I could wet block my High Plains Drifter shawl (the one that I finished this past October). Although most of the shawl lay flat, the edges were puckered and it needed a good wash anyway. Usually I just wash my finished knit items and lay them out on a towel, but when you want the edges of a garment to lie particularly, it needs to get pinned out. I am not much of a lace knitter, so I have not really needed to get serious about this process. It looks nice all spread out in the spare bedroom! I can definitely put it to good use in this weather. We are supposed to be getting some terrifically cold temperatures in the next few days (in the negative numbers, with daytime highs around 1F). Brr. Time to put out more straw in the goat and sheep shelters!

Lull between holidays

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Is great. Time to put our feet up and do some more knitting as well as watching another snow begin, enjoying my oldest some who is here for a week from North Jersey. We have had some fun doing the rounds of the area, and even took some time to get down to Pemaquid Point Light this morning. The temperatures are in the upper 20s for a change today, but the wind down at the point took our breath away. The clouds were rolling in for the coming snow, but the sun was just peeking out from behind the light, and the view was spectacular! (That’s my older son and myself in the photo in front of the lighthouse).

I have been slacking in the blog post department and a lot has happened in the past week and a half. We had two snowstorms hard on one another, and then an ice storm this past weekend. Many in our neighborhoods are still waiting for power to get reconnected. We were lucky, have not seen a flicker. But the ice on top of packed snow has not been kind to us at chore time! Even with YakTrax on my boots it’s almost impossible to stride normally up the driveway. So feeding times are definitely an exciting adventure. The animals are all doing well, but with the extreme cold I separated the does from the two boys and Zorro the llama. They are back together with the ewes, where they have a much larger shelter and I know they are out of the wind on dry ground.

Solstice and Christmas have come and gone. After a lovely time with family and friends (and a lamb roast on Christmas Eve, Yum!), we are thankfully on the up slope of daylight minutes and hours. Every day means another minute or two! The winter obsession begins :*)

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!

 

Organizing

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!