Tag Archives: solstice

Susan Cooper, The Dark is Rising, and tonight’s storm

Well, the Bombogenesis is here.  We on the coast have been having torrential rain and strengthening winds for hours now, and the lights are flickering every few minutes.  I would say that we are probably going to lose power shortly to the wind and crazy fluctuations in the atmosphere.

The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper
The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper

I don’t know how many of you out there are Susan Cooper fans (she is an awesome British author of some of my favorite books – she is also a poet).  I have been a big fan of her fiction for many years.  Her Dark is Rising Sequence series being one of my faves.

Every year around Solstice and Christmas I try to either read The Dark is Rising, or watch it’s movie equivalent, The Seeker: Dark is Rising.  Having to rely on Netflix DVD delivery meant that today was the day I received it, and so we had a wild viewing of it while the lights flickered and the wind howled outside.  Quite the most dramatic rendition I can remember!  It was extremely atmospheric and it made me quite jumpy, what with the wild wind and the relentless rain on our metal roof.  I was very glad when Ian McShane and his friends prevailed over the Dark.  Phew!

Another year.  Again, a wonderful story.  Darkness and Light, the eternal struggle.  One in which most of us are fixated upon as we watch the light gain strength, even as the winter deepens.  It’s a funny thing, winter growing as the light returns.  It’s just one of those things that we can celebrate or fight.  Tonight I am feeling a little bit of hope.

 

Goat rodeo on ice

Battie and Betsy all cozied up
Battie and Betsy all cozied up at twilight

Well, Monday is a wrap.  Finally.   We had quite the morning.  Zelda and the buck Oreo were scheduled to leave us and join the farm that Sassafras and Pickles went to live on two weeks ago.  And it was not as easy a transfer as I would have liked!

Scheduled is the word.  I was worried all last night that Zelda was going to be the one that was difficult, and Oreo would be the piece of cake to walk into Curt’s trailer.  Not.  What a surprise, but it’s something that should not shock me at all.  You just never know.

Zelda the Beauty!
Zelda the Beauty!

And so we had the goat rodeo on ice.  Oreo knew something was up the minute we went out for chores this morning, and we were even being nonchalant.  I did my usual thing, and Sam went to do his.  Oreo was having none of it!  Zelda came with me into the catch pen and launched into her morning hay like nothing was amiss.  But Oreo got the wind up and it took four of us adults to get him cornered and caught, slipping and sliding on the ice and the snow.  I really hate doing that.  In the process, Sam got an arm injury, John came in with a bleeding arm, and the new owner’s hands were bloody by the time we got the buck into his trailer.  I waited to take a fall until I tripped on the handle of a bag in the house.  Not a winner of a day, I can say that now.  But tonight, it feels like it is ancient history.  I can truly say that this morning was kind of the end of an era.

Since last spring I have been working toward getting all the animals together that I can definitely handle alone.  Sam will not be here forever, and when he moves on, my 62+ year old body needs to be able to handle what we have.  I don’t move as fast as I used to!  And so I have planned accordingly, and we made a plan for who to keep and who to part with.  I had a really hard time parting with SnowPea’s daughters Pickles and Sassafras, and Zelda was an even more difficult cull.  But we lucked out and found an amazingly wonderful farm in Auburn, Maine, and the owner there really loves our girls and our genetics, and not only has the 3 girls now, but he also has Oreo the buck.  I couldn’t have asked for a better home for them, and they are not really that far away.  (He has Nigerian Dwarf goats as well, and I am dying to go up and visit his place!).

Anyhow, we are turning a corner here at the farm.  I think we are as tight as we can be.  I have two purebred Lamancha does left, and 7 almost purebred Guernsey girls.  One Guernsey buck and one half Guernsey buckling.  It’s finally a picture that I think can work for me.

The winter seems to be settling in, so I am glad that the Goat Rodeo is finished for the year.  I hope.  After the Solstice I think I can feel a little more positive going forward.  But we definitely won’t think about January 20th just yet :*/

Sunday yucky Sunday

Yesterday afternoon's chore time
Yesterday afternoon’s chore time

The snow was awesome, while we had it.  Nice fluffy stuff.  Of course, it was lying on top of the ice road that our driveway had become, so it was tough going, nonetheless.

But the rain came today along with unforgiving wind, and the temperatures have been steadily rising, only to reportedly plummet again tonight.  All the goaties are snug in their shelters and have been all day.

The snow was quite pretty!
The snow was quite pretty!

I am chomping at the bit to be able to get all the girls into one group together, but that will be another 10 days or two weeks.  The vet is coming on Wednesday and we are doing the new girls’ Rabies vaccines as well as the usual blood testing.  All the newbies are purportedly bred, (they were in with a buck), and I don’t want to take a chance on any of them passing something to our existing herd (although the present setup is not optimal, they can touch noses through the fencing).  I do not believe that it is going to be a problem, but I don’t want to take any chances, either.  And the Rabies is very important to get well before the kids arrive.

So our shelter change-up organization is going to have to wait until the two groups are one.  Until then, the girls appear to be pretty comfortable.  Cannot WAIT for the Solstice!!!

Getting ready

New tarp is installed on greenhouse #1
New tarp is installed on greenhouse #1

The time has come for us to make sure we are ready for winter.  In the past week the animal’s water tanks have been freezing over, and it was a sign to get going on winterizing the pens and the water troughs.

We had a new and larger tarp on order from our local farm and feed store, and today it arrived.  We are lucky that it was a very lovely day, and we got that puppy on this afternoon.  Yesterday we ended up replacing a stock tank with a floating heater with another kind of heated 16 gallon bucket.  It is different than our other heated stock tanks, but I hope it will be just as good.

Not truly gorgeous, but a new stock tank is beautiful to us!
Not truly gorgeous, but a new stock tank is beautiful to us!

And so we move into the winter, whether it is officially here or not.  The goats are all putting on their furry best, and we are adding straw in to their sleeping quarters regularly (those little buggers eat quite a bit of the straw, so it’s difficult to keep the amount we want available to them!).  The dreaded Polar Vortex is scheduled to arrive for a quick showing this weekend, and then again in a more serious way toward the end of next week.  Brr.  I don’t feel quite ready, but it doesn’t matter.  We will see it in.  And the countdown to the shortest day of the year is on!  Totally looking forward to the Solstice :*)

Merry, merry 2015

treewithtrainsAnd so it goes. Happy Solstice, Merry Christmas! The year is coming to an end, but the daylight is returning to us. Such a relief :*)

Teaser the Chihuahua loves a ride!
Teaser the Chihuahua loves a ride!

We can’t really complain, though, because even today it was almost 60F! It’s supposed to be getting colder by Monday, and snow is forecast for Tuesday. I will believe it when I see it! A friend posted a photo of the dandelions that are sprouting on their property, and I have heard folks discussing the budding of all kinds of plants. It’s not natural for this part of the world to be so warm this late, but it has been something of a respite after last winter.

Quiet time in the greenhouse for Zelda and Beezus
Quiet time in the greenhouse for Zelda and Beezus

2015 has turned out to be quite a year. I have not really had a chance to fully take stock, and we had our downs as well as our ups. At the very least, we were able to finally welcome our first Golden Guernsey goaties to the farm, and I even managed to get Pickles bred a few days ago. Thankful for all the little triumphs!

I hope everyone has had a peaceful holiday/holidays, with your loved ones. Time to look forward to the new year.

Sun and cleaning

Late afternoon sun on the pines behind the house
Late afternoon sun on the pines behind the house

Did I say sun? What a fantastic day! Sun and warm temperatures. Sigh. How good is that?

We had to go and get some hay today, and when we got home I spent the afternoon outside cleaning out feed troughs, water troughs, and whatever else needed to be scrubbed. Our dug well/sump pump/hose-for-animal-water was running and it was great. We don’t usually have that option late in December. Gotta take advantage whenever possible!

Cleaning the feed troughs
Cleaning the feed troughs

And so it goes. I know the colder weather is coming, but post-Solstice, more daylight is also coming, so I am feeling the positive side of things. I am also looking forward to the next week of vacation! Yay for sleeping in until 5:30 and one more cup of coffee :*)

It’s all about the light

Small tree, half done
Small tree, half done

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 Hanukkah
It’s Hanukkah

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!

Thanksgiving after all

Conferencing around the greenhouse door
Conferencing around the greenhouse door

We ended up doing Thanksgiving on Friday. Our electricity returned late in the afternoon on Thursday, so there was no point in getting a 16 pound turkey in the oven then. And we weren’t even really sure if the power was going to stay on, so we waited.

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays of the year, if not my favorite. It’s all about being thankful for what we have, which is so much, and for family and friends and our whole life, really. So we lived it up with our grandson and our 80-something year old British neighbor, Susie, and had a marvelous day and evening. I cut the meal back to the basics: turkey, gravy, stuffing, green beans and cranberry sauce. I am glad that we did! It was more than enough for the 4 of us, and we chatted and laughed into the evening.

The goats got an extra share of 2nd cut hay, and they seemed happy in their newer shelter. The snow slid off the roof, and all was quiet and good. The only negative on the night was that I found a poor little field mouse in an empty 5 gallon bucket, stiff and dead. I don’t know if the neighbor’s cat chased it into the greenhouse or what. I tipped the little fellow out, and left him for some other creature’s dinner.

I keep waiting for one of the other does to come into heat, but so far no one is budging. So we wait. I could not get the breeding area set up the way I wanted to because of all the snow, but we shall see, maybe during the week I can tweak things a bit. I have a very skewed idea of what I can get done on a workday afternoon, obviously!

I can’t believe that it’s December 1st tomorrow. The days are moving right along, at warp speed! Pretty soon it will be Solstice, for which I am waiting with bated breath. Got to turn this darkness around soon :*)

Wintery vacation

Painted sky
Painted sky

I keep taking photos of the surrounding woods and of the animals in the still-snowy paddocks, but although beautiful, there aren’t really any new views! Snowy trees and ground definitely lighten the grey days, and even after the sun has gone down the brightness of the snow still reflects so much light that the headlamp is not always necessary. As always, I am watching the daily almanac to see how many minutes of daylight we are garnering, and I had almost forgotten how slow it is to begin after the Solstice!  2 minutes gain in the past week doesn’t seem like enough :*)

Bucklings in the snow
Bucklings in the snow

After a wonderful visit with our older son and all the kids, I took some liberties with the last few days now that everyone is gone. I have not gotten much accomplished, but it sure has been a relaxing time. We went for some hay late this morning, had some lunch at Moody’s Diner, then came home and crashed. I had intended to wet-block my Prairie Drifter shawl, but that has not happened! Tomorrow will be the day, I hope.

Right now it’s raining like a bugger, and I am hoping it doesn’t all turn to ice. We will cross our fingers, for sure.

Lull between holidays

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Is great. Time to put our feet up and do some more knitting as well as watching another snow begin, enjoying my oldest some who is here for a week from North Jersey. We have had some fun doing the rounds of the area, and even took some time to get down to Pemaquid Point Light this morning. The temperatures are in the upper 20s for a change today, but the wind down at the point took our breath away. The clouds were rolling in for the coming snow, but the sun was just peeking out from behind the light, and the view was spectacular! (That’s my older son and myself in the photo in front of the lighthouse).

I have been slacking in the blog post department and a lot has happened in the past week and a half. We had two snowstorms hard on one another, and then an ice storm this past weekend. Many in our neighborhoods are still waiting for power to get reconnected. We were lucky, have not seen a flicker. But the ice on top of packed snow has not been kind to us at chore time! Even with YakTrax on my boots it’s almost impossible to stride normally up the driveway. So feeding times are definitely an exciting adventure. The animals are all doing well, but with the extreme cold I separated the does from the two boys and Zorro the llama. They are back together with the ewes, where they have a much larger shelter and I know they are out of the wind on dry ground.

Solstice and Christmas have come and gone. After a lovely time with family and friends (and a lamb roast on Christmas Eve, Yum!), we are thankfully on the up slope of daylight minutes and hours. Every day means another minute or two! The winter obsession begins :*)