It’s been quite a few weeks. Getting ready for a winter that hasn’t really landed yet continues. I am not complaining, however! We don’t usually get this much grace time for winter prep in the animal paddocks.
Golden Guernsey update: our girls Batty the Beautiful and Saffron the Lovely are doing well. We bought them as bred does, and I was extremely upset when Saffron went into heat. The little buck that my friend Jane and I went in on together is still in Vermont at Jane’s house. He is quite young yet, and the news is that he is not yet mature enough to breed the girls. Which left me in a terrible bind! No Guernsey buck, and a pregnant doe. Actually, all but Batty the Beautiful are open. Sheesh. What a pickle! So I have put our only buck in with the girls, and so far, no action. Saffron did knock the poor guy around, so I hope that he has the desire to hang in there :*)
Marigold update: we did our best to get our Marigold up and moving, but things just didn’t work out. She was our sweet girl and a doe that I had hoped to be on the farm for a very long time, but it just wasn’t a go. John put her down on Sunday, so it was not a very great day, despite the beautiful weather. Her mother, Big Zelda, had begun sleeping far away from Marigold’s pen, so we knew that she had already acknowledged the fact that her girl was not well. This was an extremely tough one for me. We have lost animals and had to put some down in the past, but she was just 18 months old. It never makes sense.
On a happier note, we got our Christmas tree, even as we are celebrating Hanukkah! It’s a pretty one. We have not been able to find anything suitable on our 20 acres (weener Charlie Brown evergreen abound, but nothing remotely nice), so we went to a local tree farm and got a 7′ lovely little number. Our grandson was not impressed with our choices, but I am! (The other day he asked me how old I am. I told him I am 61. He looked at me and asked, “Are you shrinking? I think that someone your age ought to be a lot taller!”). And there we have the viewpoint of the next generation :*)
And so it goes. The holidays are upon us and I am doing my best to not get caught up in the stress of it all. I am sure that we will get the tree decorated, and we will get the presents wrapped. It’s coming,
Happy Solstice! Happy Hanukkah! We have had the shortest day of the year and the longest night, and now we are listening to the rain. Waiting already for the light.
And it’s been a week. Today was the first “official” day of our Christmas break. Last week was the push to get everything ready for co-workers and the holiday parties at work. Exhausting does not even begin to cover it. This weekend we had a date with our grandson on the North Pole Express at the Boothbay Railway village. A good time, and then we came back here and had a day of baking Christmas cookies. I love making a big mess, and he seemed to enjoy it as well!
It’s also Hanukkah, and we are working on the next to the last day, so the menorah was cranking tonight. Leftover latkes headed up our menu, which is never a bad thing! I should be decorating the tree, but I think I may continue on that tomorrow. I have to get moving on the Pizzelle cookies in the morning. Yum!
And so it goes. Our house is a total wreck. We are not only trying to celebrate some holiday goodness, but we are putting in a woodstove, so that has thrown a giant monkey-wrench into our schedule. Needless to say, the tree has an amazingly beautiful floor to stand on this year (the hearth that John put in for the stove… lovely tile on top of layers of cement board). It’s all good, as our older son would say!
Now we just have to get past the next couple of days of pouring rain. The goaties are going to be having some inside time!
Hanukkah and Thanksgiving together. What a hoot! There has been a ton of chatter about it in the media, and I won’t belabor the “next time this happens will be 75,000 years from now” bit, but it is pretty neat. Although it kind of cheats us out of having a Hanukkah/Solstice party this year.
For all of you who celebrate, enjoy the Festival of Lights; the latkes, applesauce, sufganiot and all the other delights that go with it. Until next year, when we can again schedule a Solstice party right in the middle of Hanukkah!
And it was a great party. Lots of wonderful food and laughter. We get so stuck in our usual ruts that it’s difficult for me to switch gears and pull it together enough to have people over in a group. (Read here, I am not a very dedicated housekeeper!). So it’s really nice when we do take the time to spiff things up a little and make the effort. I don’t usually stay up that late, and I woke up at the usual time, a little after 4, so I am dragging today. I went back to bed for a little while, but I am thinking that I should sleep quite well tonight!
I roasted a leg of lamb and instead of making potato latkes, made scalloped potatoes (latkes are messy and they are much better if made and eaten immediately). Other folks brought some lovely squash and lentils, homegrown kale, meatloaf, baked carrots, and we had goat cheese and John’s delicious semolina bread. And a bit of wine!
Jim of Hatchtown Farm brought a gift as well. He makes beautiful hand-turned hand spindles and other wooden tools for spinners and he made a gorgeous dreidl. We did not engage in a game of dreidl, but we had some fun spinning it across the table.
Today I did a leisurely clean-up and took the opportunity to make some lamb stock with the gigantor lamb bone and some good greens and onions. There weren’t a lot of pan dripping from the roast and I would really like to make some shepherd’s pie soon, so the stock will come in handy.
I forgot to take a photo of the menorah last night, so I took one this afternoon for day #2! Happy Hanukkah!
So last night was the first night of Hanukkah. Happy festival of lights! I had a very enjoyable evening watching the candles in the menorah burn down (the menorah is a little disabled… it lost one of it’s arms so it is actually two candles shy of a full deck. Hopefully John can mend the fallen arm before Friday when we need the first four candles to be lit on one side). The other long-awaited day on the calendar that we obsessively wait for is nearly here: the Solstice! I know that the sun is at a much lower angle now during the true winter, but when we have a few more minutes of daylight every few days it seems as though the darkness is being actively pushed aside. It definitely floats my boat to see the minutes of daylight increasing each day!
The goat breeding adventure went fairly smoothly today. John went down to observe our friends at Beau Chemin Preservation Farm prep their 3 does. So he came back with all the supplies and when Pam of Hatchtown Farm came over, we got our 4 does in order. Putting the CIDR insert in place was not as big a deal as I had expected it to be, so that was good, and then we just had to give each of them an estrogen shot. Two of the girls broke out of the holding pen, but they are very predictable and come for grain, so that didn’t end up being too much of a problem. And so it is the first step on the road to artificial insemination. I am pleased. Phew!
All the holidays of the cold season that involve lights are very satisfying to me. At this time of year, when I am doing chores some days in the dark both morning and night, coming in to light the Hanukkah candles or to the tree and twinkle lights, just makes everything seem a little better, just a little brighter. Not so dark. I become obsessed with sunrise and sunset times as the autumn wears through to winter, checking weather websites and listening raptly to our Channel 6 weathercasters like they are prophets. It must be a totally primal or genetic thing. Of course I realize that the farming life makes the weather a very personal thing at any point in the year, but at this season it seems even more so.
Of course, this time of year also fills me with all kinds of joy, hope and gratitude: seed catalogs and pregnant sheep and goats to tend until it’s almost spring, and then new life appears, bouncy and fresh. That, family, friends, music, good food and a warm house help to keep the dark away. And then who can beat those really cold, clear nights when we are feeding sheep their hay on the snow-covered ground and the sky is full of the winter constellations, clear and bright.
So we surround ourselves with greenery, like the holly from my good friend Jolly (thanks again Jolly!). And then, who can resist smiling when they see this face? Another blessing on any day of the year.
It’s the fifth night of Hanukkah and I finally got around to making latkes. Grease and starch… can’t get any better comfort food than that! Sawyer has been down with strep, so we have been doing a lot of cuddling and reading books this weekend. And I am still feeling blah from being sick for so long. But I always find the menorah such a gift of light during the shortest days of the year. I am enjoying the evening!
Breeding time has pretty much come and gone. All of our girls have been marked by Lucky, the crossbred ram that was born on our farm and then went to live at Hatchtown Farm (he was destined to go to the butcher as a market lamb, but he had had pneumonia and none of us thought he would really grow… but guess what? He did! That’s why he’s “Lucky”). He is a very, very sweet boy, and even though I always watch over my shoulder when I am in an enclosure with a ram or a buck, Lucky is such a sweetie that I am always able to just relax and enjoy being with the girls and their guy. He never fails to come up and sniff my hands, just in case I have a hidden treat, and then he’ll walk away.
So it’s that time of year when things start to slow down outside, and we can now go into the winter, dreaming of the beautiful lambs and kids we will be having come next March and April. As much as I really hate losing the daylight, I do appreciate the turn of the seasons. And then hard on the heels of Thanksgiving is Hanukkah this year, which I always love for its images of light, renewal and hope. And then we have the winter solstice, when we can start watching the almanac and counting the minutes of daylight that we re-gain every day! And so it goes, as Linda Ellerbee always said :*)
It’s definitely feeling like winter out there today and we are feeling quite festive at our house. John really did a nice job attaching some twinkle lights to the major beams in the living room. I love having them up, we don’t end up turning the beam lights on as much.
I hope that everyone who celebrates Hanukkah has had a peaceful holiday. We have enjoyed our latkes and the menorah with our son and grandson very much. It’s certainly a nice way to bring some light into the darkest afternoons of the year!
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