The problem with bucks is that you can only use them for so long. That’s why most of us are always on the lookout for new genetics, and it seems as though we have found some!
Ephraim is the new boy on the farm. He is a big, beautiful Guernsey, with polled genes (born with no horns). He is quite a laid back fellow, although at this time of year it’s difficult for any buck to be mellow with all the possible love that’s in the air!
We went Wednesday to pick him up in Vermont. It was an uneventful travel day, but very long. 4.5 hours there, almost the same home. And on the way home we had a frightened and very stinky boy in the back of the Subaru… we took him away from a doe in heat on his home farm, threw him in the car and went! I can’t fault him his nervousness, and he does appear to be fine now. He has lots of ladies to cluck over and sniff at through the fence. They are making him a little nuts, honestly. He is sharing a paddock with Jingle the donkey, who is being very circumspect with this new guy. She is keeping her distance, for sure :*) (Not that he can do anything to her except spit a little and maybe get in her way at the hay feeders). Smart donkey anyhow. We like the ‘live and let live’ approach around here.
And so we will have him on the home farm for the action next year. I took Reddog out from the girls’ pen on Tuesday, so he is back with Hagrid and Fergus. Hopefully we have the roommates sorted out for the winter now. And new genes for the future!
Yesterday we got up extra early (after I had a bit of a sleepless night), and got on the road to Monmouth, Maine, to take Fergus the yearling buck to have his man parts removed. Because I wasn’t sure where my husband was going to be, we also took our house goat, Peanut, with us, in her little Rubbermaid tub.
Fergus has been a very vital part of the farm for the past year, but I really need him to be able to hang out with an unbred girl or girls, or really any of the goats on the farm, without being afraid of his getting the girls pregnant. I don’t particularly like putting castrating bands on baby bucks or rams as when they grow, their urethra and their urinary tract does not grow well without the hormones coming from the testicles being present. I lost a ram lamb to urinary calculi, which was a bit of a wake-up call, and when you castrate them as babies, this is a much bigger problem.
And so we don’t do that with our little guys. But if we want to keep them and not use them as breeders, we really need to get that taken care of. So we had him surgically altered today, and they also tried to do something about his recurring horn scurs (even though he was disbudded while still a baby, those boy hormones keep the horns growing afterwards, but they break off regularly and bleed all over the place). I hope that when his hormones have died down, they won’t keep re-growing.
Apparently there were many large animal emergencies yesterday, so poor Ferg didn’t get his surgery until the afternoon. Which meant that Sam, Peanut and I were at loose ends. Just a little too far to go home and return, we made the best of it, going back into Gardiner and eating a late breakfast at the wonderful A1 Diner. Later on when we realized he hadn’t even had the surgery yet, we hopped on over to Augusta and spent some time at Barnes and Noble. Peanut seemed to enjoy the traveling, although she didn’t get much exercise. We are making up for that today! And Fergus needs to stay quiet for a few days, so that will be the biggest challenge of all.
Our new girls are very friendly so far and they are getting accustomed to being ogled by the gang from the other side of the fence while getting used to their surroundings. It didn’t take long to see how the pecking order between them played out, either. Dorcas has the upper hand at all times; Eleganza (the whitish doe) comes in a close second. Of the two very laid back, smaller girls, Little Edna is bottom of the heap. Even Delta will give her a head nudge. But, such is life in the goat world.
I had worried that Edna was holding back on eating because of the pecking order, but we have so many baskets of hay around, they all have found their way to as much as they want or need. I spent a lot of time with them today, and am chilled to the bone now (we woke up to 0F this morning). They are doing just fine, and are licking up every bit of the kelp meal and ProBios powder that I am adding to their feed. Good girlies!
I know how stressful transport can be on any animal, and these girls are no exception (hence the addition of ProBios to their feed). They were in a vehicle for over 4 hours, and the two in the back of my Subaru never lay down, even though they could. If I had known them better, I would have put Delta in with Edna in my car, and let Eleganza and Dorcas have the slightly more spacious Jeep space!
But, all seems well in the land of the Guernsey girls. I think they are doing fine, and after another few days we can let them into the larger pen, but I will still be keeping them separate from the larger group for now. I keep wondering if Battie and Saffron recognize their friends from Ardelia! I can hardly wait to see how they react to one another when they are all together in one pen. Should be interesting.
It’s a good thing I retired last June. If not, it would have been very difficult for me to get to Rhinebeck last weekend, and turn around on this past Friday morning and drive back down to north Jersey for our nephew’s wedding!
Our nephew and our younger son are in the same age bracket and were very close when they were little, until he and his mom moved a little farther away. But his mom, who is divorced from my husband’s brother, has stayed very tight with the Ruit family, as well as with us. We love Stevie and adore his bride, and even though we knew it was going to be an expensive weekend, we had to go. Our son and his fiancee could not afford the trip, so we grabbed our grandson and took him along. These events are so important to a family, and at the age of 7, I knew it would make an impression on him.
My husband did all of the driving down there, and it was brutal with the rain and the traffic. But we had a chance to spend some time with my 92 year old father in law a few times over the weekend, so that was definitely a bonus. The wedding was amazing, at the Skylands Manor in the state park and botanical gardens in Ringwood, New Jersey. We had an enormously wonderful time.
Our grandson, however, was not initially impressed! It was boring, it was this, and it was that. But once the dancing started, we got him out on the dance floor and he never looked back! He danced with all the bridesmaids, and the bride and the groom. We had to drag him off the dance floor at the end of the night, because he was still showing everyone his “moves.” No, he is not shy!
And so another chapter in our extended family is in the books. It was a lovely weekend, and we even had a chance to visit with another old friend as well. The trip home today was a little smoother than the trip down, so it’s all good.
And now back to dentist appointments and catching up with what has been going on with the goatie breeding group. And getting ready for the cold weather.
I am finally able to write about my adventures at the NY Sheep and Wool Show! Retirement has its benefits, for sure.
Traveling to Rhinebeck, NY, with a lovely group of fiber friends is the highlight of the year. The Hudson Valley is usually at its peak of fall color; we rent a house, bring lots of lovely food and libations, and just have a great time. The sheep and wool show is absolutely fantastic as well! (Not an afterthought and certainly our reason for being there). We also get to visit with many vendor friends who are there at the show. Sometimes this is the only visit we get.
This year our AirBnb rental got a little mixed up, and we ended up staying in a different place than usual. Lovely, large farmhouse, with all the seating and sprawl areas that we could have wanted, and a great kitchen as well. You never know how those things are going to work out, but it was a great choice. With the drought in the northeast continuing, we ended up having perfect weather, too. Sunday was almost too hot!
Having had a lovely flock of Coopworth and Border Leicester sheep and crosses for many years, I really never need anything at a sheep and wool show (I have tons of roving and yarn left from our crew). But in the last year or two I have been loving the adventure of trying out wools from different breeds of sheep. This year I knew that I wanted to find a Shetland fleece, as that is something I have never spun or knit with.
There were a plethora of fleeces to choose from, and I had a difficult time deciding. I knew I wanted a dark fleece if I could find one, but a reddish-brown one was second on my list as that is a color you don’t find in Coopworth or Border Leicester sheep. And so I came away with a lovely small fleece, just enough for me to have some fun with, and maybe spin up for a small shawl. This hogget (or yearling fleece) came from a farm on Cape Cod, Freddy’s Farm Shetlands. Lovely, very clean fleece. This one is not a dual-coated Shetland, as many are (Shetlands are considered a “primitive” breed, so they would typically have a hairy outer fleece layer with very soft undercoat. And you really want to keep those two products separate when spinning!). So I waited in the long line in the fleece area, got to look at what everyone else around me was buying, and had a great time!
I also found more little treasures at the show: some beautiful Romney/silk roving, and two skeins of Wensleydale/Romney yarn. I bought enough of the roving to possibly make myself a sweater or a vest. The red yarn is for a cowl, Purl Soho’s pattern ‘Cowl with a Twist.’
And so it goes. Yesterday was so beautiful and warm that I was able to wash the whole Shetland fleece, and it was almost totally dry by dark. I also plied up some Coopworth grey singles yarn to use for the accent color on the red cowl. It was a beautiful day all around, and our Rhinebeck weekend was pretty spectacular!
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.
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!
Just as the school year was coming to a close, we got word that my mother in law was doing poorly again, in NJ. Even though I still had two teacher days to go (the kids were out on Friday the 19th), we hastily threw stuff into a few bags, put Tesser the Chihuahua and her bed into the car, and took off on Saturday morning the 20th.
Needless to say, my sweet mother in law really was not doing well, and within a day she had been moved to a hospice room in a rehab center near my inlaw’s home. Someone from the family was with her around the clock, and she struggled for too many days before giving in. It was a very difficult time, and living away from home was difficult, although we were very comfortable with my sister in law and I certainly enjoyed having the time with her and our nephew and his fiancee.
And so the days went, and after she passed away there were a few days to wait for the wake and the funeral. I had hoped to be able to come back to Maine and let our friend Roy have a bit of a break from the goat and pigeon care between Dot’s death and the funeral, but there wasn’t enough time. So we stayed in North Jersey and as it turned out, there were a million things to do. Being there allowed my sister in law to go back to work for a few days, and I was glad that we could be there to help out. We live so far away, I am afraid that she gets the brunt of the care on a regular basis.
Even though it has been difficult losing someone that I have known and loved for 36 years, it is a fact that she had a good life. I hope I can be as healthy at 90 as she was! And of course, the other perk that we had was having some time with our family and old friends. Sometimes it takes something out of our control to force situations like this. And the thing that saved my sanity every day there was the midnight swim in my sister in law’s pool under a glass house.
And that was the beginning of my first weeks of vacation. Let’s just hope that that is as exciting as this summer gets.
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!
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!
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.
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.
Although we traveled down to North Jersey on Friday in order to attend a memorial service for a very close friend’s husband, we were able to visit with some relatives of our own as well. My sister in law very graciously hosted us, so we had a chance to visit with her as well as with my in-laws, who both turned 90 years old this year. It was even better that we had our grandson along, and he got to spend some time with his great grandparents as well. And my older son had dinner with us on Saturday night too.
It was an exhausting weekend with two 7 hour drives in 3 days, but it was very worth the miles. The memorial service on Saturday was not only beautiful in itself, but we were in one of the most gorgeous areas of New Jersey, in the Hope/Belvidere area out near the Delaware Water Gap in northwest Jersey. And, the weather was fully cooperative as well. 80s and sunny.
We crossed the Tappan Zee bridge twice, and saw the work going on in the Hudson River to begin building a new bridge. Crazy! But it’s definitely part of our crazy, NJ/NY past lives. Thank goodness, in the past. Too much traffic and noise for us there.
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!