We think. Tomorrow is predicted to be one of the coldest days of the season. High of 24F. Today it was in the 40s. And it rained. And rained. I know we have had a few lovely days in the past week or two, but the overall feeling is of the grey sky and damp. My arthritis is killing me. It definitely does not feel like December.
Enough complaining, though. It is past the Solstice, and we are still just wearing light jackets. Not too shabby! My husband keeps the wood stove going, and dollars to donuts, we have to keep opening the back door or the windows. (I get where he is coming from; he hates to have to restart a fire everyday, so he wants to just keep it humming along. Sometimes that humming is to the tune of 80F in the house. Too hot for me!) So it is this season. Warm so far. It feels more like a spring mud season than the end of December. Mud and water galore in the paddocks. The donkey didn’t want to go into her shelter in the last few days, and we finally realized that it was too wet where we had placed it over the summer. We moved it this morning, thanks Sam, and now she is cozying into it.
Anyhow, it’s the holiday break and I am loving it. Sleeping in until 6:30 a.m. Lingering over coffee in the morning. Not getting dressed until I have to. Reading into the night. I must be in training for retirement. Hmm. Sounds good to me!
Rain has finally come to Maine. After all of that snow melted so beautifully and slowly, I couldn’t imagine that we would end up in such a dry spell. (It was lovely, though, as mud season was almost a non-event this year!). Since early Sunday morning we have had pretty steady rain, and it’s back in the 40s again. But we needed it.
When Sunday turned into a day of steady downpours, I took the time to ignore house cleaning and went upstairs and measured off a warp for some towels that I have been planning to weave since last summer. Waffle weave towels, which are one of my favorites. I am using cottolin, which I have never woven with before. So I have hopes of some nice time on the loom in the coming weeks. If I can get this warped over the weekend, maybe I can start on it sooner rather than later!
The last few days have been incredibly busy. I spent a lovely day at a friend’s camp right on a small lake on Wednesday. It was grey and overcast, but it didn’t start raining until later on, and it didn’t matter because we were relaxing and having fun with a few other friends.
Wednesday night was the big storm, apparently a record for the amount of rain that fell in the course of four hours. By 9:30 p.m. our electricity was out, and every once in awhile throughout the night it blinked back on which made our freezers begin beeping (which need to be reset, necessitating a hop out of bed). The power wasn’t really back on for good until a little after 4 a.m. when we needed to get up anyway. Groan. My husband had to have a routine test down at Maine Medical Center in Portland, and of course, we had to be there by 7 a.m. By the end of the day yesterday I was toast, and in bed before 9.
When I went out for chores this morning I heard our little Marigold crying, and realized that she was outside of the paddock fencing, frantically trying to get back to her mama and her sister. Even though she is the friendliest doeling, she was so frightened that she did not want to come to me, or follow me. So it was a process, but I finally got a collar and a leash on her and coaxed her back into the correct area. She and her sister lifted their mama Zelda right off the ground they were so happy to have some comfort food (although I don’t know why Iris was that excited, maybe just commiserating with Marigold and happy to have her sister back!).
It’s a head-scratcher, but she may have gotten out via the extension paddock which I had open to them. I can’t find any openings in the perimeter fencing there or anywhere, but one of them might be sproingy enough in the middle that she scrambled over it. Needless to say, after she had a nosh and a visit with her mama, she came over and lay down on the big rock with her head on my lap, squished up tightly to me. She didn’t even want a good chin scratch, just wanted a snuggle. Funny goatie, happy to be home again.
Today was definitely Wet Wednesday. I don’t know how much rain we had, but during the night we had lightning that was too close for comfort, and at some point around 1:30 a.m., there was definitely a lightning strike in the neighborhood. Close. Even Tesser the Chihuahua zipped out from under the covers when that one hit. Everyone is waterlogged, but the weather sounds much better for the next 5 days or so. The paddocks are waterlogged and mucky beyond belief, but with the change in the weather, this should get better.
So at least tonight the rain has finally stopped, and our Treadler’s trip to Vinalhaven is all scheduled for tomorrow morning. I am very excited. I have to finish getting together my spinning and knitting projects, and will be ready and waiting in the morning. Nothing better. Spinning, knitting and great food, here we come!
It wasn’t even raining or blowing last night and just before 9, the lights flickered, and then went out. I had just poured myself a nice glass of wine, and was settling back to relax a little before bed. Luckily, the temperature had gone down a touch, so without the bedroom air conditioner on it was not totally sweltering, but the muggies have hit us hard here. John ended up cranking up the generator, so we stayed up for awhile and watched something silly on tv. Around midnight or a little later, all the lights came back on. Not too bad an outage, but it made for a broken up night.
During this past few weeks we have also been battling carpenter ants. It wasn’t enough that we had the Great Wool Moth Invasion, but we had to begin dealing with ants. There has been sawdust coming down in some of the crevasses where the timbers on our timberframe come together, and we have not really been able to see who is doing the munching. And then in every window, we have had these long, thin flying ants emerging, and by the time Wednesday came along, they were making short flights all over the place, landing in our coffee, crawling over the computer, and really just being a terrible nuisance everywhere! We tried those ant traps, and one of the not so terrible sprays for the window sills, but we finally had enough and I broke down and called the pest control people.
It was not as painful a process as I thought it would be. They puffed really finely ground powder made from pulverized chrysanthemums into all the window crevasses and around the doors, and put some kind of gel bait up for the mother lode of ants that are tunneling in our beautiful timbers. (Apparently the powder works a lot like diatomaceous earth). We have been watching all day today and have not seen even one living flying insect, except a giant rogue moth that must have gotten in last night. So I am very hopeful that this will be the answer to the invasion.
Now we are just battening down the hatches for the anticipated 2.5″ of rain that’s supposed to come tonight, courtesy of Tropical Storm Arthur. I can’t complain about it too much as we aren’t going to get hit full-on with the storm, but that much rain in one night makes such a mess in the paddocks. Yuck!
(The babies in the slideshow are the 6 youngest. Marigold and Iris were bellied up to the feeder with their mamas. No fooling around for them!)
Downpours were definitely the rule for most of today. I thought things would lighten up around noon, but that did not happen. By 5 when I went out to do chores, it had stopped, and I was relieved to be able to feed everyone outside.
I got an initial creep setup created yesterday afternoon in the kidding greenhouse. I have to replace one of the tubular panels tomorrow morning as it has a bent bottom bar, and I believe that the smaller goat kids could scramble under it and make a get-away (didn’t see that until this morning). I need the creep for them to be freely feeding, but I also need it so that I can block the access door and keep them in for shots, etc. I am almost there. I was glad to see the oldest two girls sleeping in there this morning when I went out, along with a couple of the littles. The bigger they get, the more they enjoy the room to spread out!
The playtime at the rock this afternoon was epic after all the rain. I took a series of photos, even though I was thinking the whole time that I should be doing a little video. Oh well, it the slideshow goes in order, it should have the same overall effect :*) Unfortunately, the black flies are so bad that I have not been sharing in the playtime at the rock in the past few days… I need to keep that up so that hopefully I can handle the kids a little more easily. Soon. The spring has almost blossomed out, and soon we will move past the black flies. Really.
These are the name of the game this week. Not getting enough sleep due to all the birthing checks and I feel like my engine is running on empty and we have not even begun to kid yet! Yesterday was Hatchtown Farm’s shearing, and even though it was a long day, it was replete with good work and then some relaxation with friends. Great food as well, as always!
We are still waiting on our goat babies, no secret there, and Zelda looks poised for action today, which is encouraging. She is really dropped and her udder is very full. It would be nice if she presented us with some babies in daylight, although we have had rain most of the day and it’s raw out there. All the animals were still at the feeder this morning awhile after breakfast and I noticed that Zelda had eaten but then walked away. Not much room in there for a big meal!
Every time I make the rounds up in the paddock I do a thorough check of all the back ends and udders. Every one is coming along, but the only one who is very close is Zelda. I can hardly wait for the excitement of new babies. Then it may truly feel like Spring has finally arrived.
Not so officially, it sure doesn’t feel like it’s anywhere close to spring! I know that winter usually lasts quite a bit longer up here in New England than in many places. I don’t usually have too many beefs with Mother Nature, but this year I definitely have it in for this weather :*) Cold, cold, cold, snow, sleet, ice and cold. It feels like it will never end!
Whine, whine. We are stuck in a perpetual whine about the messiness and bitterness of it all. I am no better than the next person, although it just is, and I don’t usually let it get my blood pressure going. But trying to keep our 7 ewes dry this past 24 hours has been a bit of a challenge since our greenhouses are not as zaftig as they once were. Our lambing/kidding greenhouse is covered with a stand-in tarp which is missing most of its grommets on the south side, so we have tied it up as best we can. The rain looks like it has stopped for the moment, and I am thinking that it’s over… but oh, I forgot! It’s supposed to rain and snow on shearing day this Saturday. I can hardly wait.
And the roller-coaster weather continues. Wednesday evening we got all the wet, heavy snow, and yesterday it was a pretty awesomely beautiful day. But this morning we woke to sleet, giant snow flakes that weighed at least 9 pounds each, and then things turned to rain, sleet, back to snow, and now we are just getting pummeled with such hard rain that I can’t hear the music playing on my iPad. Our metal roof and roof windows transfer the sounds very eloquently!
I love the sound of rain on the roof, but I have to say that this is a little over the top for February. We are even getting thunder along with it! They predicted some ‘thunder snow,’ but not this relentless rain. Yuck! I can hardly wait to see what the conditions will be out in the paddocks tomorrow morning. I hope it doesn’t get cold enough to make a field of glare ice. Sigh.
The one bright spot in the house right now is the gorgeous azalea plant that my son and his family gave me for my 60th birthday. It’s still sitting on the messy counter, but I love it and it’s bright spot of salmon-pink. I am not sure where it will be planted in the spring, if the spring ever comes! I want it to be someplace where I can enjoy the sight of it from the house, if possible. This winter has been so rough that I have not even been captivated by the seed catalogs. Oh well, the growing bellies on our goatie girls give me great contentment every chore time, mixed with a little sadness that we will not be welcoming any lambs this spring. The first spring in this house that we have not had them. 11 years have slipped by so quickly! Another very big sigh. Change is good, but difficult :*)
And so the deep freeze continues, with the promise of a small warmup this weekend. With wind and rain, of course! The aftermath of the 40F temperatures on Monday combined with torrential rain into the evening had predictable results: our whole driveway and areas around the animal paddocks turned into a skating rink. All the crunchy snow that was safe to walk on was gone. Even in the paddocks the sheep and goats slid from here to there. Enthusiastically running down the hill to meet me at the gate when I showed up with the grain was something of a downhill ski event. I am surprised more of the ewes didn’t just smash right into the fence. No one was hurt, and my fears about wet sheep and goats developing pneumonia from the gale force winds and plummeting temperatures into the night so far have not come to pass. I obsessively threw down straw in the greenhouses in the hopes that they would be good little animals and seek shelter for the worst of it, which they did. (The ewes will sit out in almost anything).
Because of the weather, my school district was closed on Monday so I had a chance to get outside many times during the day to finally get rid of most of the icy snow residue that has been hanging around on the greenhouses, worrying me quite a bit. After the first snow I got a good bit of it off, but some of it froze and was getting heavier and heavier. The rain actually did us a bit of a favor with that one.
We finally got someone to get some sand and grit on our driveway, so yesterday was considerably easier going on that end. And we will hope that the weather doesn’t decide to throw too much more at us in the next few weeks!
Coopworth Fiber, LaMancha Dairy Goats and Cheese on the Coast of Maine!