Category Archives: Travel

Settling in

Waiting for supper. Left to right: Eleganza, Dorcas, Delta, and little Edna peeking between Eleganze and Dorcas.
Waiting for supper. Left to right: Eleganza, Dorcas, Delta, and little Edna peeking between Eleganze and Dorcas.

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.

Breakfast at sunrise
Breakfast at sunrise

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!

Delta and Dorcas in the intrepid road warrior Jeep with Sam
Delta and Dorcas in the intrepid road warrior Jeep with my son Sam

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!

Dorcas and Delta doing their relaxing in the back of the Jeep
Dorcas and Delta doing their relaxing in the back of the Jeep

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.

 

Another great 4-day weekend!

New Tappan Zee bridge work going up alongside the old structure
New Tappan Zee bridge work going up alongside the old structure

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.

The beautiful bride and groom looking down into one of the large downstairs rooms (hors d'oeuvres time)
The beautiful bride and groom looking down into one of the large downstairs rooms (hors d’oeuvres 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.

Post-Rhinebeck week

Lovely yard behind our AirBnb house
Lovely yard behind our AirBnb house

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.

View from the porch
View from the porch

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!

Shetland fleece on the drying rack
Shetland fleece on the drying rack

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.

Foster Family Farm yarn
Foster Family Farm yarn

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!

Romney/silk roving
Romney/silk roving

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!

 

February is flying

Paddock rock in the snow
Paddock rock in the snow

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.

Winter light
Winter light

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.

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!

A forced vacation

Lucy, my sister in law's Jack Russell.  What a cutie!
Lucy, my sister in law’s Jack Russell. What a cutie!

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.

Dot and flowers
Dot and flowers

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.

The family.
The family.

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.

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.

Weekend away

A real NJ antipasto salad!
A real NJ antipasto salad!

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.

Tesser was not happy to share a new space with Lucy the Jack Russell!
Tesser was not happy to share a new space with Lucy the Jack Russell!

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.

Tappan Zee bridge
Tappan Zee bridge

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.

Re-tread Treadlers’ holiday partay

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Finally! We got the party off the ground yesterday, unfortunately without a few of our favorite people. The weather lent a lot of atmosphere to the day, but the snow was pretty persistent and when you live on a road that’s far off the main roads, it’s always difficult to predict the condition of the mains. The only reason this was an issue was because our friend Chris in Brunswick hosts the party, and that is about 20 miles from our house, but much farther for a few of the other members. So I picked up Pam from Hatchtown Farm, and our roads were atrocious, but then we got out onto Route 1 and everything was fine.

We excel at putting on a party that involves great food, fiber and friends. So we ate a beautiful meal and we did our show and tell with our island retreat fiber projects, which are totally awesome! (On our Vinalhave retreat last summer we dyed the fiber with cochineal bugs and some with osage orange, and each of us took two small skeins and some uncarded fiber to come up with a project). I knitted a hedgehog pin cushion, Pam made a beautiful wine cozy, Christine knit a fantastic warm and beautiful headband, Chris felted a snowman who wears a scarf knit from the yarn and is holding a heart made from the fiber as well. We are dying to see the project that our other island friend has made, but we will have to wait for that one. We also do a ‘hot potato’ gift pass around our circle which is always a lot of fun. I do not have my gift yet, as it will come from our friend who didn’t make it.

And so we finally were able to have an afternoon of laughter and fun. With a lot of great food! Now it really feels like the new year can begin!

Road trip!

Yesterday two of us went on a little toot.  Christine of Maine Fiberarts and I headed north to Bangor, Maine early in the day.  We decided to avoid the northbound Route 1 Saturday traffic and take some backroads, which was a great choice.  It was infinitely more interesting to drive off the beaten path and go through some towns that I rarely visit, even though we do not live that far from them.  We did miss one turn and ended up in downtown Camden, but we soon located Route 52 and continued on our way.

Our first goal was to visit with Jody Clayton of One Lupine Fiber Arts at her gallery/workshop right in Bangor.  We did get sidetracked in Searsport for a wee visit to a newly opened used book shop, which specializes in used fiber-related books.  The owner is lovely and is also a spinner, so she had her wheel right there and an amazing nook full of wonderful knitting books.(I scored a hardcover that I do not own by Clara Parkes, The Knitter’s Guide to Yarn). Unfortunately, I did not note the name of the bookstore, and it is so new I am not finding it on the town’s Chamber of Commerce site.  It’s tiny, but definitely worth a visit!

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After that stop we did not get sidetracked and found Jody’s gallery in Bangor, which is a city I am totally unfamiliar with.  As with many other large Maine cites, it straddles a beautiful stretch of the Penobscot River.  We found the gallery easily and spent quite a bit of time there. Upstairs is the gallery, and downstairs we found a combination yarn/fiber shop, with a felting class carrying on in the work area.  Christine and I had a wonderful time there, and of course came back with a few treasures of the fibery sort.  I found some lovely fiber batts that Jody had dyed and carded up (a Merino/Romney/Bamboo blend) and I also bought some beautifully dyed bundles of bamboo fiber.  I have never spun with bamboo, but it is very lustrous and looks a lot like silk.  So I have plenty of interesting stuff to play with for the end of the summer and the beginning of the school year!

After our visit there, we found an Indian restaurant where we had an amazing lunch.  Then we headed east for a tour of a sheep dairy farm.  Northern Exposure Farm is a relatively new dairy farm and it’s set in an amazingly beautiful spot.  We spent the afternoon there and learned a lot about their operation, and also got to meet their beautiful sheep, East Friesians (one of the few sheep breeds that are specifically used for their milk production).  We got a milking demo as well!  Heaven! I know that we will never have such a large-scale dairy setup with our goatie girls, but it’s sure nice to dream a little :*)

 

Note:  I don’t know if anyone will notice, but one of the lambs in the front of the lamb photo is having a lovely pee! How rude that we immortalized the moment!