I don’t know! I think it’s close. I am dying to be outside and enjoying the sun. One more day until April vacation begins. I am looking forward to it more than I can say.
I feel like I am starting to have a weekly blog instead of a roughly every-other-day-blog. But it’s okay.
Things are chugging along as usual. Nothing out of place. Waiting for our next goat kids which are due in May. Cleaning up around the farm, trying to get our pigeon pairs together. Reading some new YA books and going to the chiropractor to see if I can get my hip up to par. So far it’s really helping. Walking is much improved and I am feeling better in general. Just hanging in the paddocks in the sun with the goats in every spare moment.
I have had plans in the works for a number of years. The deal with my husband is that I would retire when I turn 62. That happens to be this February 11th, and I really can’t believe that it is real. Where did the time go? It has just snuck up on me. (Of course, I would not retire until June, at the end of the school year).
When I read Jackie’s blog post on Butting Heads Farm– the Art of Aging, Part 1 about aging and what can be accomplished home on the farm while working a full-time job, I realized that we have been maneuvering ourselves toward this goal for a good number of years (I have had to let go of our sheep, our yearly meat chickens, and our yearly feeder pigs in order to keep things sane). I have only told a few coworkers and close friends so far, but it’s finally here for me. I am retiring at the end of this school year (!), and I am hoping to be able to totally give myself over to the farm and to weaving, spinning, knitting and felting from then on. The money issue will be difficult for awhile, but hopefully I won’t have to go out and get a whole other full-time job. I feel bad for all my coworkers who retire and a year or two later have to go back to work full-time, but most of those folks are single. I am blessed to have a partner who has a few sources of income, and with my NJ pension, my Maine pension, and a little bit of Social Security, I might be okay. (Although Maine is one of the two states in the U.S. who believes that getting SS and a teacher’s pension is “double dipping,” so the SS that I paid into in NJ is going to be drastically cut back when I start collecting because of my Maine teacher pension. It’s a real bummer).
And so it goes. I am frantically trying to make sure that things at work are going to be perfect for whoever replaces me, but we all know that that is a losing proposition. It will be what it will be. But I am having a wonderful time reading the seed catalogs and thinking that I can actually do a little more in the garden because I won’t be starting back into work by the middle of August, and unable to process the tomatoes and the eggplant that are just really coming ready at the end of August.
I can’t believe that I only have 80 some workdays left in my job as a Library Media Specialist. It’s been a wonderful career, and it won’t be easy to give up. But I do think that I will be having breakfast or lunch with my retired teacher peeps on the first day of the new school year. And there will be champagne or wine involved!!!
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.
Not blogging has felt terrible, but the end of the summer and the beginning of the school year were overwhelming. Our coastal summers are usually humid and hot in July, and warm days/cool nights in August with almost no humidity. This summer was a true bummer. Hot and humid all the way through August and into September. Oy! My asthma was not happy, and I did not get many things accomplished that I had on my list.
I found it difficult to rebound after my mother in law’s death, even after our wonderful time in Vinalhaven. Work consumed me. I ended up prepping for the new shape of my school library day job (taking over the running of 5 more school libraries, adding it to the two I already supervise), and I am ashamed to say that I let it suck the life out of me. Then halfway through August I took a bad fall and concussed myself, which led to at least 2 weeks of total shut-down. And there we have the summer that wasn’t!
I won’t even look at the list that I had so optimistically created last spring. No reason to do that. The one thing that kept me going all summer was my quilt project. I have been planning a quilt for our queen-sized bed for many, many years (I used to quilt like a maniac back in the ’80s). My original plan was side-lined because I just feel like I have very different tastes now that we have lived in our open and extremely light timber frame house for almost 13 years. But once I stumbled upon a pattern that is fun and very logical, every day I tried to sew up a few squares, and as of a few weeks ago I have 216, 7″ squares. So that is my summer legacy: a bevy of audiobooks and my sewing machine upstairs. Awesome! It is the first time I have pieced quilt squares with a machine, and it was addicting. I love it!
And so it goes. November is upon us and as much as I dread the time change, I do welcome the quiet and the time for working on things inside the house. But until the cold and the snow really envelope us, we are rushing to get the goat paddocks up to snuff and set up for the winter.
It’s good to be back to the blog! I have missed it.
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!!!
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).
We now have enough green on the trees and on the ground that it actually looks more like spring! Doesn’t feel too much like spring right now (it’s in the 40s), although they are saying tomorrow might feel almost like a warm, humid day. I love this period in spring when all the trees are a different shade of light green, some have blossoms, and some are red-budded. Of course, my tree allergies are terrible right now, but it’s worth it for the warming up/greening up to finally be here.
Yesterday I set up some fence panels that allows the girl goatie group access to the back paddock, which is lush with all kinds of new clover and grass. The access is gated, and we only let them in there for an hour or so late yesterday afternoon. I gave them their full morning hay and grain ration this morning, and this afternoon I let them in there again. The babies had an awful lot of fun running down the access lane and back. They have become a little baby herd unto themselves, finally. I shall have to try and get a video, they are ever so cute.
The early morning and sunset skies have been compliantly dramatic and beautiful. I seem to have more photos of that on my iPhone than anything else these days. When I go back to work on Tuesday we start the big end of year countdown. 4 weeks to go, with a million things like graduation and book fairs all rolled up in there. I am definitely enjoying the quiet of our 3 day weekend.
I am watching the sky lighten out there and gearing up for another crazy day. The week just flew by! Tuesday was John’s surgery day of course, Thursday was the annual Reading RoundUp conference in Augusta (library and literacy), and then yesterday I had the opportunity to attend a workshop with Dr. David Loertscher in Scarborough in a most lovely new school library (or Learning Commons as we are beginning to rename them again!). Last night a few of us girls had a long-standing dinner date which was extremely fun and a great stress-reliever (we always try and ask for a table in the corner because we laugh so much!). Today is: dump day, make chili for the auction tonight, and middle school auction night. Tomorrow is Hatchtown Farm Shearing day!
One week until April break. Today’s weather is looking pretty magnificent (60F), and tomorrow’s looks even nicer for the shearing. Spring might actually, almost be here!
And white. Yesterday the newest storm began, early in the dark hours. It’s been a slow-moving one and has not ended up being as bad as predicted, as folks in southern Maine are getting the brunt of it. Even so, the roads have been bad and we had a 2 hour delay to school this morning. I am glad, it definitely helped.
I am not sure that I can imagine living in a very flat, cold, white landscape like the tundra. Whiteness everywhere, unbroken by trees or any change in the landscape. I think we are lucky to have the trees and the hills here. And the salt water. Even if right now we cannot see out of our windows due to the snow and the drifting. We can navigate by the woods and the tree lines, and a mile down the road is the ocean. It’s all good, even if it is not spring yet!
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!