Category Archives: Maine

Snowstorm Stella

Fergus at the gate. Complaining, as usual!

They have been promising us another blizzard-type storm.  And it is here.  Blustery and blowing from the north, it’s a white world again.  Not what any of us want to see in March, but this is Maine so that’s how it rolls!  (I won’t curse here, I promise).

Betsy and the little ones

We are definitely keeping busy with Betsy and her little ones.  Betsy is coming along slowly, and I am hoping that she revs into high gear sooner rather than later and gets some eating done.  We need to put some weight on her (we are doing all the supportive appetite-inducing things, as well as making sure she has vitamins, probiotics and plenty of minerals, salt, etc).  Even though we are bottle feeding those little bugs, they continue to nosh on her as well.  At some point I need to decide whether or not it is putting too much stress on her, and if I think it is, I will have to take the babies away.  I really don’t want to do that, they all need each other and that could be just as stressful to Betsy, but as the vets say, she is in a ‘negative energy’ zone right now, and I hate to think of her body trying to produce the milk for those hungry, hungry twins.  Sigh.  It’s always something on a farm!

Betsy’s little doeling enjoying some head scratches

Dorcas is the next doe in the lineup, and she could freshen at any point.  Difficult to tell, and most of our attention is focused elsewhere, so I suspect she will have a big surprise for us any time now.  And that will be the halfway mark for us.  4 more girls are due end of March, beginning of April.

Twig in the feeder, looking like a good farm kid with a stalk of hay in her mouth.

The 4 older kids are having plenty of action-packed adventures in the meantime.  They can’t help but have fun, because 4 is much more exciting than 2!  They love to run the fenceline and torment Fergus the buck on the other side.  He very sweetly sniffs them through the fence, and then they hippity hop away to torment someone else.  For a few days there Olive, one of Delta’s girls, was trying to sneak treats from Eleganza.  El is wise to her now, but for a few minutes there I thought Olive was going to get away with it.  They are all too funny.  And Twig has figured out how to get into the Sydell blue tub feeder…  that is one of the highlights of every goat kid’s life!  It’s not a perfect design, because of that, but none of the work-arounds I have tried keep them out.  And so it goes.  A goat kid’s world is a wonderful place, most of the time.

Just about time for afternoon chores.  Time to go out in the storm.  Ugh.  They say this one is a fast-mover, and I hope they are correct!

Winter returns

Handdyed, handspun cashgora yarn (by a spinner in Tajikistan)
Handdyed, handspun cashgora yarn (by a spinner in Tajikistan)

I can truthfully say we are still waiting for our goat babies.  The spring-like weather is disappearing tonight, and we face some crazy windchills in the next few days, and I am down with the chest flu (milder than it could be if I had not had my flu shot, but it’s punched me up a bit).

And so we hope that we do not have to have babies arrive with 20-40 mph wind gusts, but if we do, we will manage.  I do not use heat lamps, as straw, hay and inquisitive goats all make for a very volatile situation.  We rely on windbreaks, getting babies dry quickly, and getting them fed up with colostrum ASAP (and lots and lots of straw).  And so we continue our sleepless nights, but tonight I have a reprieve and Sam is doing the late night and early morning checks.  Maybe by the end of the day tomorrow I will feel better :*)

Kiwi Pop Studio yarn
Kiwi Pop Studio yarn

In the meantime, I am resting and ogling my NETA Spa purchases, and also my raffle win.  I am totally over the moon with my Tajik handspun/handdyed cashgora yarn from Casey at Port Fiber, my purchases from Cari Balbo/Ridge Pond Herbals, and also my very unexpected skein of yarn from the raffle at the Spa Fashion Show (Kiwi Pop Studio)!  I have to consult Ravelry for a nice project that will make the most of my cashgora yarn, and for my raffle prize, I am beginning to picture it as an accent to a larger shawl project.  Not sure where I will go with that one, it is not one of those skeins that would have called to me all alone, but now that I have it home, I really see the potential of the sparkle and the glitz and color!

Cari Balbo's Ridge Pond Herbals eye balm, hand cream, tallow face cream, and solid bar skin cream
Cari Balbo’s Ridge Pond Herbals eye balm, hand cream, tallow face cream, and solid bar skin cream

It’s all good, and the whole point of the Spa weekend at the end of February is still just as compelling as it was 15 years ago:  it’s a great break during the winter to meet up with fiber friends and just have a great time relaxing, spinning, knitting, crocheting, and generally having a good time, with a lot of laughs.  The spur to keep up the good spirits until the warmth returns late in the spring.  And so it goes.  Nice.  Very nice!

Blizzard 2017

Looking out the living room window to the west, where the almost 5' tall Rugosas are looking like dwarves in the drifting snow
Looking out the living room window to the west, where the almost 5′ tall Rugosas are looking like dwarves in the drifting snow

Has definitely been here.  It’s almost gone, but the work entailed in dealing with it is going to take at least another day.  What a mess.

Greenhouse snow caves
Greenhouse snow caves.  Our fences appear to be getting shorter as well!

It certainly is a beautiful, white world out there, and the snow is light, but when 2 feet of it falls in such a short time, it’s not so light to remove :*)  We will deal better tomorrow with the paddocks, but for now the goats are fine in their houses, which really are looking more like snow caves tonight.  Even the metal donkey shelter (portahut) is covered in snow, as it’s so high up the sides, the stuff on top had nowhere to go.  I don’t know how much snow the wind will shift tonight, as it is roaring again out there, with 30-40 mph gusts.

Stuff this deep is really a struggle for me to get through as I am so short.  But I have to say that the goats are doing well, and when we showed up at 3 this afternoon for the supper run, Pippi broke a trail through to the new greenhouse, where she knew the grain would be offered.  She actually almost knocked me down going past.  Fergus, however, stopped to jump up and say hello, and see if he could get my hat from me before I noticed.  Not a chance, Fergus!

Ut oh, you can't change direction on a path that narrow!
Ut oh, you can’t change direction on a path that narrow!

Most of the photos I took look like nothing but white, with a few higher white things sticking up here and there.  But it was a doozy, and we are supposed to be seeing a storm Wednesday night into Thursday that could bring another 6+ inches.  I truly hope not!

Almost there

Fergus
Fergus

Sorry to have been away for so long, but things at work have been cranking.  It’s the end of the school year as well as the end of my work career.  Wow!

Saffron waits patiently
Saffron waits patiently

And so it goes.  The goat kids are growing like hot cakes and the weather is getting more beautiful every day.  It’s almost summer, and I can hardly wait!

Tomorrow should be my last day at work.  I will be breathing more easily after that.

Whew!

May grey

View of Mohegan Island from lighthouse park, on a much more pleasant day than we are seeing this week!
View of Mohegan Island from lighthouse park, on a much more pleasant day than we are seeing this week!

Not sure if we have had any sun since May 1st!  It sure feels like we have not.  It’s grey, overcast and damp.  The good part of this has been that we are getting a little of the rain that we need, but in-between, we have not seen the sun.  Complain, complain, grump, grump.  It’s been really bone-chilling damply cold at work, probably because the heat is already turned off!

Pickles is speaking her mind!
Pickles is speaking her mind!

Well, we are getting there, but I suspect that one day soon we will wake up and it will feel like summer, and we will walk around complaining that we had no spring…  just winter into summer.  That’s Maine, for you!

Pippi is popping
Pippi is popping

But the days are flying by now.  We are waiting on the next two goats to kid, one next week, and one the week after.  Pippi is due next and she looks big as houses!  We are calling her ‘Saddlebags.’  Poor thing is waddling, but she still finds the time and energy to boss the other goats around at the feeder.  Pickles the yearling is the next up after Pippi, and I am hoping that she has a single.  (Pippi has never had a single, she just keeps popping out those twins!).

And so it goes.  28 work days to go :*)

April vacay week

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My last April vacation week ever!  The best part?  The Peepers are back!  (I love those little guys and wait for them each spring).

Otherwise, the weather has totally cooperated, and there was a lot of activity around here.  I really wanted to do some fun things with friends, but I also really needed to get some house and paddock work done.

Pemaquid Point lighthouse today
Pemaquid Point lighthouse today

Today my son and I did some alternative cattle panel fencing and gate moving for the boy goats and Jingle the donkey.  That took awhile, and afterward we ran an errand, and kept going down to Pemaquid Point lighthouse.  It was a fantastically beautiful day.  The sun was warm, the breezes were stiff, and the sky was as blue as ever.  We ended up in Damariscotta to make a Reny’s run, and then I went to the chiropractor.  After that, I had a lovely rest in the sun and I got some reading in.  Spent some time this afternoon with the goats, and then took a lovely bath.

Most of the week has been organizing and cleaning out spaces like the mudroom (ugh!).  We are selling one of our giant chest freezers, and it took the day on Tuesday to clean out, organize and re-assign items to other freezers.  But it’s done!

Yesterday I spent the day in Portland with some friends, and we had a fantastic lunch at Paciarino, then went to Standard Baking Company, Micucci’s Italian grocery, and then to Trader Joe’s.  Exhausting but fun!

Tomorrow will prove to be somewhat boring.  I still have to clean out and re-organize the lower pantry cupboard cabinets in the mudroom.  It will be a relief to get it done and over with, however!  There is much more organizing to do in the house, but this was a great start.  And the week isn’t over yet, so more fun to come, I hope!

The Hard part of farming

Marigold on the right.  Sweet girl!
Marigold on the right. Sweet girl!

While all our joy is devoted to our new Golden Guernsey does, at the same time we are dealing with a potentially devastating situation with my favorite yearling doe, Marigold.

When I got home from Vermont last Sunday afternoon, everyone was fine.  On Tuesday morning I went out to do chores about 5:20 a.m., and I found that Marigold was on the ground, pulling herself around with her front legs.  Her back end was not working, although her legs have power, but her back is not cooperating.  The classic symptoms of Meningeal Worm infestation.  (The worm goes into the spinal column and wreaks havoc with the nervous system).  My beautiful girl, strong and lovely, is struggling with a very ugly problem.

I am devastated.  We have two new Golden Guernsey does, but I have been counting on Marigold to be one of our breeding stalwarts.  Not to be, I know, but it’s a blow to the farm plan.  She is one of my favorite goats, one of the most colorful and friendly, and I am grieving for her struggle with this disease.  Those damn snails that carry the awful worm.  Aargh!  We will see how things go.  As of today she has had 5 days of the prescribed treatment, so now it is up to her and the vitamin injections.  Fingers crossed!

Re-entry

Always a difficult thing.  5 of us spent a very satisfying and lovely 4 days out on Vinalhaven.  We got back on Sunday afternoon, and I have been running ever since.  Some work-related meetings as well as just trying to get down to business at home with all the crazy projects I have been wanting to try and do.  It’s hot and muggy again as well, and I do not function well at all on these days. The Vinalhaven fiber retreat was balm to our exhausted souls!  We all got quite a bit of knitting and spinning done, and we even had an indigo dye day, thanks to Pam of Hatchtown Farm.  Once we saw what the results were like, we all scurried around looking for more items to pop into the bucket!  One of our merry group grabbed an old canvas hat out of her car and I tie-dyed one of my beloved sleeveless t-shirts.  What a hoot! Good times with good friends is what it’s all about.  Now I guess it’s time to get back to the daily grind.  And while I am doing that, I will be able to dwell fondly on the lovely, restful and fun outing that we were lucky enough to have. Until next summer!

Fiber Frolicking adventures

Beezus and our little man, having a moment at the rock (gratuitous goat photo)
Beezus and our little man, having a moment at the rock (gratuitous goat photo)

This past weekend was the annual Maine Fiber Frolic, and I did not have a vendor space this year.  I will be very honest:  I was thrilled not to have the frantic packing of the car on Thursday night, the frantic drive from work on Friday afternoon to set up, and then the two days of standing.  I love greeting people and chatting with them, but it’s still the work year for me and it’s an exhausting part of the year on top of the usual stuff.  (Last week I had all kinds of meetings, and our daily schedule began its topsy-turvy dive toward the end.  The high schoolers having their finals, the seniors having their marching practice, the middle schoolers getting ready for Community Studies field trips and a day of community service.)  It’s wonderful and crazy, and at the same time we are trying to get our libraries put in order and inventoried before the last day on the 19th.  But, enough of that, the weekend is what was so special!!!

Bergman beauty
Bergman beauty

Our friend Pam, of Hatchtown Farm, and I had a date to go to the Fiber Frolic just for the day on Sunday.  We were not in any hurry.  I had some extra fence-moving to do in the morning, and we really didn’t get on the road until 9-ish.  The Windsor fairgrounds are a perfect size, not too large, and when we got there we mosied across to the barns where the fleece sale and show is, and next door to this is the ‘used equipment’ area.  You probably can see where this is headed!  I never have a chance to get into the used equipment area when I am vending and have a booth to watch, so this was a voyeur’s treat (so I thought!).  We walked in and were greeted by a group of lovely volunteers we know, and they were all pointing us to the back of the barn area.  There stood a Bergman 8-harness countermarch loom, handmade in 1936!  Loom bench and a huge assortment of reeds were also with it.  It’s a compact, folding loom, unlike any I have ever seen.  I have read about Bergmans, but they were made out on the west coast and they are not thick on the ground out here in New England.

Well, my eyes just about popped out of my head!  I have been looking for a 4-harness counterbalance loom as that would have been all I could afford to buy new.  8 harnesses would have tipped me over the edge, and a countermarch is one step more wonderful (and more expensive) than the counterbalance!  I think my ears were ringing, I couldn’t really take it all in.  A wonderful weaver in the Maine community who is about to move to the west coast was waxing eloquent about it and showed me all kinds of things on the loom (which I am not sure that I will remember!), and I just fell in love with it.  To top off the amazing goodness of all this is the fact that the people who had it for sale didn’t want to have to take it home on Sunday afternoon, so they had lowered the price to something so amazingly affordable that I couldn’t pass it up.  Mama mia!

But that is only when the adventure began!  I didn’t go to the Fiber Frolic thinking that I was going to buy a loom, and after handing over my check, Pam and I took in the Frolic sites, visited all of our vendor friends, had lunch, and headed back to the used equipment barn and decided to get started on packing up the loom and getting my Subaru Forester loaded.  Other friends, Mudd and Esther Sharrigan (vendors – Nordic Weevs), helped by scraping up a bunch of baling twine to tie up the folding ends of the loom so we could move it without something swinging loose and breaking.  (And Mudd came over and stayed with us, helped with the tie-up, and generally oversaw the action).  Then the fair staff brought their little 4-wheeler and trailer in and we got this extremely solid and heavy loom out of the barn, and I backed my car up.  Hmm.  And that is where it all hit the fan!  Not really much of a shock: I was thinking positively, but not very analytically about the size of the new baby!

If it weren’t for another friend, Tracy, I am really not sure what I would have done.  She didn’t think it would fit into her Toyota Sienna van if it didn’t go into my Subaru, but it fit perfectly, so Pam and I drove it back home, John helped us unload it into the driveway, and then we went back to the fairgrounds, now quite empty, dropped the van off for Tracy, and then headed home with all the loom accoutrements in my car.  Phew!  That was a close one.  But I am over the moon about the loom, and even though it needs some serious dusting and wood treatment, it is a gem.  I don’t usually have such good luck with things like this.  What a great adventure and a wonderful day!

The absolute bestest part about all of this is that my summer break is only two weeks away, so I will have all the time I need to get this beauty cleaned up and humming.

(Shh.  I am not going to think about what it’s going to take to get it out of the living room and up into the loft).

Home again, home again

My slice of sky with a morning moon
My slice of sky with a morning moon

I don’t have much jiggity jig in my step, however.  My husband and I had to make an emergency trip down to NJ because his 90 year old mother was unwell and we really didn’t know what the outcome was going to be.  So off we went, really early on Sunday morning,  and blasted down.  7 hours driving with a quick stop or two.  My hips and back don’t do so well on long travels anymore, but it wasn’t too bad as we were able to share the driving.  And the traffic even in the suburbs of NYC is so bad these days, we had massive culture shock!

Yes, definitely my baby
Yes, definitely my baby

My mother in law is now on the mend and we came north yesterday.  My older son had been taking care of the goaties, and a friend of ours did the pigeon care.  It was a total relief to be home, and when I got outside this morning I was wonderstruck by our peepers, the quiet, and my very own slice of Maine sky with the moon still hanging there.  What a relief!

Goat kid selfie
Goat kid selfie

Pippi is warming up for her big event, but I believe she is still a few days out.  I am looking forward to spending some time with her as she gets closer to kidding day.  SnowPea’s babies are on a tear around the paddock, and can always be found out by the big rock.  They allowed me to take a “selfie” of them looking over my shoulder.  And then mama called them over to the feeder and she asked them to hang out by her for awhile.

Okay, Mom, we won't go far!
Okay, Mom, we won’t go far!

And then tonight was our monthly spinning/knitting group.  Great laughs with some wonderful women.  Can’t get much better than that!  What an amazingly great day.