It’s so easy to say: the summer is just slipping and sliding by. But it is! Our crew is getting steadily smaller as the babies go off to their new homes, which is both happy and sad for us. It’s a lot quieter here, although the wild bird song in the early morning is a joyous racket these days. And as the peepers have slackened off their singing at night, I have been noticing that the grasshoppers and crickets are beginning to chime in to what I always think of as the end of summer music. For living out in the woods, we have plenty of nature’s sounds to enjoy!
Things are ticking along pretty well, with the usual monkey wrench thrown in here and there. Our pretty little girl Twig had been fighting an eye infection last week, and I thought it was gone, only to have it pop back up again a few days ago. I do think that Twig has taken the loss of her sister and her two good friends, Saffron’s girls, pretty hard, so it doesn’t totally surprise me that she is a little compromised, but she does still have her mama, so I am not going to actively wean her. I am getting about 1.5 quarts from Eleganza, her mother, at each milking, so I am not complaining about sharing!
As for the milk and the cheese making, it is going great guns here. Going so hard, I had to freeze some milk late last week so I could take a breather for a day or so! If my cardiac rehab schedule was not three days a week in Brunswick (which is a ride in the summer traffic), I could alternate days for making more than just chevre. I did carve out some time to make some Halloumi a week or two back, and it was awesomely good. We don’t seem to be able to get it around here, so it’s a fun cheese to make from time to time. And I keep wanting to get going on aging some cheese, but have not quite gotten it together to do so. I have some plans for that, however, hopefully soon!
Our summer weather has been amazing so far. Not too many hot and humid days, and lovely cool nights. Not great for the tomato and eggplant growth, but good for sleeping and enjoying the air. And so it goes. I hope everyone is finding something to enjoy this summer!
Four of us Treadlers have had a plan on for the past month or so. We were lucky enough to score tickets to hear the Yarn Harlot talk at an old elementary school in Rockland on Saturday night. So our whole afternoon and evening was set up on a pretty tight timetable and it was more fun than we even expected!
A lot of us follow Stephanie Pearl McPhee’s blog, Yarn Harlot, and most of us have read all her books to date as well. She is a very hard-working knitter and knit designer who also happens to write amazingly wonderful essays on life in general, life with her family, and knitting, knitting and more knitting. It sounds lame to say that she is a knitting humorist, but I guess that’s really what she does. Her visit in Rockland was a talk about “Your Brain on Knitting.” A lot of research and good things about knitting, how it engages your brain, how can help put you into the Theta brain wave center (which is the brain wave zone that helps your brain be more creative, and doesn’t happen unless you are in a more relaxed but focused state, like when you are knitting!). But all of the talk was punctuated with seriously hysterical anecdotes from her life. We laughed for hours, but I almost felt bad because I knew from her blog that she has been doing a lot of traveling, and she did look pretty bone-tired.
Part of our Saturday plan involved getting up to Rockland early and invading the Over the Rainbow yarn shop there. This is the shop that set up the talk, and they also sponsored two classes with Stephanie at the shop the next day. (I did not sign up for either of those). So the four of us toodled over, fondled a lot of beautiful yarn, and then walked back to Cafe Miranda and had an amazing dinner. Just in time to get us over to the Lincoln Street School (and did that school conjure up memories of one of my elementary schools!). It’s lovely fun to be in the company of a hundred or so knitters, most of us knitting during the talk as well. Stephanie was also extremely gracious about signing books and having photos taken with her fans as well.
And then our friend Chris stayed over at our house so as not to have to drive back to Brunswick that late, and we had a blast doing morning chores together and then we made soap from some of the lard that I rendered last weekend. That story is for another post! The rest of the day I spent fixing up fencing as our pigs left on Friday for the butcher. That is another post as well! It really was one of the most fun weekends I have spent in a very long time.
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!
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!
It’s a waiting game right now. We are scheduled to have 3-6″ of wet snow come in tonight. It’s even beginning to cloud up right now. I am guessing that the pasture won’t look like this tomorrow!
We have not seen the end of the breeding season yet and really do not want to take the girls out of the field. They made it through the high winds of the summer out in the field, and we are hoping that the snow will be gone by Monday. Luckily the girls and Reece are in a section of the field that is pretty protected in the upper corner.
And so the winter weather begins. It has been a strange weather year over all, so why should this surprise us!
It’s Saturday night again and it’s raining. I know that the ground had gotten really dried out, but I am definitely rain-shy after the early spring that we had! But today was the first Saturday of our newly-hatched Pemaquid Farm Market. I want to call it the “Farmers’ Market” but am having a difficult time deciding where the apostrophe should go… I know, I am a language geek! I hate poor grammar and punctuation. It’s something that I feel grumpy about a lot of the time! And I am guessing that we can probably write the term “Farmer’s Market” in two ways, as it is meaningful in both. Farmers’ Market gives it the connotation of one market for a lot of farmers, which it is. But it is also a Farmer’s Market in that it is the market for each individual farmer. So I guess we all can take our pick on which spelling we want to use! I didn’t look anything up, just sat here thinking about the possibilities :*) Maybe you can tell I need a vacation!
Anyhow, today was marvelous. Weymouth House, which is a community-minded organization on the peninsula, has invited local farmers to join them on their beautiful lawn each Saturday between now and the end of October to share our farm products with the community and visitors from away. It was a lovely time, even though it threatened rain and began to sprinkle toward the end of the time. We are going to be there from 9-1 each Saturday until the end of October, so I hope that anyone who is near will come and sample some of the local produce and products. As we get going I know that we will have more vendors, but today it was Pam of Hatchtown Farm and I (we share a booth as the BaaBaaSisterhood) and
Anna Barber and her angora bunnies. It’s a little early for produce, but I expect that by the beginning of July we will have a lively crew. Come down and visit with us! 1700 Route 130, Weymouth House, Bristol!
This weekend we are participating in the Maine Fiber Arts Tour weekend open house. We are part of the two-year tour map, so anyone is welcome to give us a call and come by at any time, but this weekend is set aside as a formal Open House.
We got really lucky with the weather, that’s for sure! Since we were expecting more than one or two visitors at a time we set up a tent at the top of the driveway, closer to the animal paddocks, and it has worked out extremely well. Folks can come in, see our product, maybe try a little spinning or felting, and then visit with the sheep and goats. We also are able to keep our Bear dog a little calmer, without people getting her all excited as they enter the house. If it weren’t for the mosquitoes, it would be totally perfect!
We had a lot of lovely visitors today and hope to meet and greet many more tomorrow.
People make fun of me because I am really fixated on the weather. I have multiple favorite internet weather sites on my browser bar set for 1 click viewing (don’t you just love the hour-by-hour breakdowns???), and I also have to admit that my biggest reason for even wanting to own a t.v. is that I love the local 5-7 a.m. news, particularly the weather report. It’s so much more area-specific than anything you can find elsewhere, even on the internet. I love knowing what Kevin Mannix has to say about our little part of the world, mid-coast Maine, because it’s usually pretty accurate! And let’s face it, my comfort is driven by the weather these days. If I go out to do chores at 5 a.m. dressed incorrectly, I pay for it in a big way. Once I am outside I usually push through no matter what, but being under-dressed or over-dressed is just a misery! And now that the black flies and mosquitoes have made their appearance, the challenge is that much greater. How to keep yourself covered without dying of the heat, now that’s a conundrum for the next few months!
My goodness! We are having a sunny day again today! Wow. No Monday morning snow storm. Amazing. Maybe spring really is just around the corner.
We had a lovely day yesterday and were outside until dark, enjoying the warm temperatures and trying to get caught up with extra tasks that might get us ahead before lambing starts next week. Elf is still having trouble with her pen-mates and she went over the green panel yesterday morning. I guess she needed a break. Her boy had a big belly full of milk and we let her stay outside in the sunshine for awhile before corralling her back in. I feel bad for her… if she had twin babies I might let her out with them, but Dove really needs to be with the others, so they need to make their peace with each other.
Round about midday I got down to a task I had been dreading. Our buck, Elvis, had been showing signs of some itchy, dandruffy stuff, and he was starting to nibble at his legs. Upon further investigation, we realized that he has a lice infestation. So after a call to a vet, who told us that everyone, even the sheep, would have it in no time (if they didn’t already have it), we decided that we had to use the Ectiban pour-on. He instructed us to use it even on the kids, which I really had a tough time with, but I do understand that they had already been exposed to it, so we did. Messy, oily stuff! Yuck! It was not too difficult to get the shorn ewes taken care of, but it was tough getting it under the goat fiber onto their backbones. And we need to do it again in 3 weeks. This winter has been hard on everyone!
After that nasty job, I decided to take a page out of our friend Kelly’s book (Kelly of Romney Ridge Farm) and take some time to go down and visit our peninsula’s lighthouse. Kelly and her human kids had stopped by early in the day to visit our “earless” goats, and when they left they were headed down to the lighthouse. I couldn’t stop thinking about that, so Kali, Chloe and I hopped in the car and went down. Took in the sea breeze and chilled out on the rocks with the gulls in the sunshine. It was great! I can’t get enough of the sound of the surf on the rocks and the view of the ocean to the horizon. Fuel for the soul! It was good.
Well, we have most of the lambs on the ground now. The weekend was quite eventful, with both Raven and Maggie having single lambs. Both were large; Maggie has a beautiful white ewe (with beige ear tips!) and Raven has a black ram. Both have joined the outside group and are enjoying the slightly warmer weather.
Norma finally had her lambs on Monday night. They presented a little problem… having such long legs they were a bit tangled, but they hit the ground running. Two black ewes… one with upright, Border Leicester ears, and the other with the sideways Coopworth ears! Their father is our newest ram, a black Border Leicester named Zach, who hails from Wit’s End Farm in Virginia.
To add to the week, spring may actually be on the horizon. Our twice weekly storms are turning more to rain than snow, finally! Most of the snow in the paddocks and on the ground is disappearing, the robins are hopping around and the bald eagles are soaring over the beaver pond again. Yay!
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!