Tag Archives: summer

August endings

Rest time
Rest time

This month feels like it has just flown by.  Busy days, and for the most part, beautiful ones.  We have had our share of the hot-and-humids, however, and I think this may have been part of the catalyst for the Coccidiosis outbreak in two of the baby goats.

I am always on the watch for things like this, but we have not had any cocci episodes here since we had lambs, a few years ago now.  It also usually hits us when we are having a very wet spring and summer.  As we are in a pretty extreme drought, it kind of surprised me.

But the really humid and hot weather is very stressful on the goats, particularly the young ones.  Our Fergus was the first to turn into Mr. PoopyPants, and then within a day or two the white buckling started.  We got the sulpha powder mixed up and going pretty quickly, but it’s a rough ride, even when the diarrhea stops within a day.   Sulpha drugs are hard on anyone, and when you are only 20 or 25 lbs., it’s not so nice.  We are doing vitamins as well, and they seem to be responding.

The last load. Not even a big one!
The last load. Not even a big one!

And as it is August, it is haytime.  We have a very lovely hay dealer who keeps our hay and we can go and get it when we need it, but that is for the first cutting bales.  A good friend of ours recently decided to cut his really nice hay field for a second cutting.  His neighbor does a first cut, but for some reason isn’t interested in doing a second.  I was definitely interested, and today was the day we had to pick it up in the field.  It was great to see Matt, and he even played farm boy for the day and helped us transport the goods.  Nice to see our second greenhouse having such a nice collection of bales going into the winter.

The crickets seem to agree.  I love going to sleep by their singing.  Reminds me of childhood vacations on Cape Cod with my cousins!

 

Regrouping

Pickles, one of our yearling does and first-time mother
Pickles, one of our yearling does and first-time mother

On a farm, it is always time for reorganization and re-evaluation of everything that’s happening.  It’s so easy to get into the groove of just feeding every animal that is here, whether they are “working” for the farm or not.

Keeping animals for sentimental reasons is very easy to do, and I fall into it just as much as the next person.  But I try to be aware of and on top of making the kinds of decisions that will help move us forward.  I am only milking two goats right now and I have 9 does (including baby Betsy).  I am never going to be a big enough operation to milk that many, but some of them are here for a variety of reasons, and some of those reasons, truthfully, are emotional!

Does on both sides of the fence resting in the afternoon
Does on both sides of the fence resting in the afternoon

The middle of the summer is the time when I am getting prepared for the breeding season, and evaluating who should be here or not anyway, and this year I am trying to take a very hard look at what is happening and comparing that with my goals.  In the past I have kept certain does together, whether I intended to milk them or not, because in a small operation like mine, family units can be very supportive of animals that would otherwise be picked on pretty hard.  Zelda, for example, is a wonderful doe who milks well and is a great mother, but I only held onto her because she was the last doe I had from Elf, who is long gone (and I had kept both of them because they were a family unit).  I had wanted to keep some of her genetics around, but truthfully, she would be better off on another farm where her milk and her mothering skills would be of value.

Zelda the Beauty
Zelda the Beauty

And so it is crunch time, and I am making myself all kinds of notes, but the difficult part is here, and it’s time to decide who will stay and who will be sold.  Zelda and two white crossbred youngsters are definitely on the list to go, as is one of SnowPea’s yearlings, Sassafras.  We are definitely hanging onto Fergus and Betsy.

Instead of having to feed out to 3 groups of animals, I am hoping to just have one pen of boys/Jingle the Donkey, and one pen of girls going into the winter.  We shall see how successful I am at the reorganization!

August is amongst us

Part of the milky crew getting into her breakfast
Part of the milky crew getting into her breakfast

We have gone over to the dark side of the summer.  August.  It was a very cool day for the first of the month, but later on in the week we are promised more summery weather.

I am supported by the summer weather, and also wearied by it.  The humidity has gotten under my skin and into my lungs, so the first order of events is to lay low and do things in the house.  Not too much exertion.  It’s all good!  But when the humidity goes down, there are so many possibilities available, that I sometimes do not know where to start.

Oreo is undecided about whether he wants to come out and see me
Oreo is undecided about whether he wants to come out and see me

We had our grandson for 3 and a half days, and on Monday I was able to visit with some former co-workers at a retired friend’s house.  What a great time we had!  It was a very lovely day.  And I am not missing the pressure of going in to work to start getting things done before the kids arrive.  Bwa ha ha!!!

 

Projects

Compressed hay bales
Compressed hay bales

Went out to get some hay this morning.  We get some local hay but we also get some of the Canadian compressed bales, which are enormously heavy, but it’s a good bang for the buck, usually.  I was driving the 1997 Ford F-350 diesel pickup today and halfway up I noticed that the brake pedal was going awfully low.  But, I don’t drive The Beast very often, so I said nothing until all the brake warning lights came onto the dash.  My husband said we were probably low of brake fluid, and he would get some and put it in on the way.  Luckily, before the ton of hay went onto the truck, he realized we had a broken brake line in the back (as he was pouring in the brake fluid it was pouring out just as fast.  Grr.)  So moving on to plan #2, we just got a few bales, and turned around to limp home slowly.  Thank goodness John drove!  I would have been more than nervous, to say the least.  Big sigh.  Disaster averted, and another project for John.  I know what he will be doing this week!

Flannel wall of quilt squares. Figuring out the patterns of color
Flannel wall of quilt squares. Figuring out the patterns of color

On a more pleasant note, I have been working on a very big fiber project since last summer.  If you follow my Instagram feed, you may have seen  several photos of my quilt-in-progress.  Until last summer, I had not done any quilting for the better part of 30 years.  Before my youngest was born I always had a quilt or knitting or weaving project on the go.  I don’t know if it was the pins and needles that kind of stopped me with a toddler in tow, or if life just got in the way.    (Most likely it was a space issue; the 4 of us lived in a small ranch in NJ and my loom took up a good chunk of the living room, and the spinning wheels had another corner.  And then there were the toys and the books…  Not much surface left for doing quilts!)

In the past few years I have been following a number of quilting blogs, and have been searching around to find a pattern for our bed quilt.   I frequently have small sewing projects going, so I always have a stash of fabric, and that has been growing pretty consistently over the last couple of years.  I finally began playing with a pattern I purchased from CluckCluckSew‘s lovely blog, something called “Juice Boxes,” and began matching up some fabrics that I am particularly fond of.  I don’t feel that I had much summer last year for many reasons, but the little I did have on my own, I used to cut and sew about 220 quilt blocks.  I have never pieced a quilt on a machine before, so this was a new process for me, and one that I am enjoying.   (I also listened to about 10 audiobooks while I worked away on this lovely pattern.  My favorite thing!)

Quilt progress, I think!
Quilt progress, I think!

Now the time has come to get those blocks sewn together and it’s proving a challenge!  A queen-sized quilt is enormous, and a little cumbersome.  But I am happy with the way it looks so far, although the blocks are not all lining up perfectly.  It’s a very happy quilt, however, with lots of my favorite oranges, greens and yellows.  I am beginning to suspect that it might not be quite as large as I would like, but we shall see.  It’s keeping me out of trouble for the time being, at any rate :*)

It’s been awhile

November 1st.
November 1st.

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!

Woodtove is stoked and going
Woodtove is stoked and going

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.

Re-entry

Always a difficult thing.  5 of us spent a very satisfying and lovely 4 days out on Vinalhaven.  We got back on Sunday afternoon, and I have been running ever since.  Some work-related meetings as well as just trying to get down to business at home with all the crazy projects I have been wanting to try and do.  It’s hot and muggy again as well, and I do not function well at all on these days. The Vinalhaven fiber retreat was balm to our exhausted souls!  We all got quite a bit of knitting and spinning done, and we even had an indigo dye day, thanks to Pam of Hatchtown Farm.  Once we saw what the results were like, we all scurried around looking for more items to pop into the bucket!  One of our merry group grabbed an old canvas hat out of her car and I tie-dyed one of my beloved sleeveless t-shirts.  What a hoot! Good times with good friends is what it’s all about.  Now I guess it’s time to get back to the daily grind.  And while I am doing that, I will be able to dwell fondly on the lovely, restful and fun outing that we were lucky enough to have. Until next summer!

Summer routine

One of our squeaker trainees:  #5751
One of our squeaker trainees: #5751

I love getting into the summer routine.  We have been home from NJ for a week now, and I am still not into it!  Aargh!  My husband has been working some days and not others; his truck is waiting for parts so that is not running, which means that I have to take him to work, and on and on.  I have a list as long as my arm of things that I want to get accomplished over the summer, besides getting some R&R and doing some fun things, but I feel like I am not getting anything done right now because of the routine I have not settled into :*)

Youngest squeakers coming back to the entrance tunnel
Youngest squeakers coming back to the entrance tunnel

I always feel so much more productive when I get going on this!  It hasn’t helped that I am not milking SnowPea yet, either.  I am all in a dither.  We got our new boxspring and mattress delivered on Monday (wasn’t supposed to be here until today), which meant that I had to rush around and trash the house moving stuff so that we could get the old bed upstairs and the new one into our bedroom on the first floor.  The corner of the living room that meets one corner of our bedroom has been housing all manner of things that need sorting, so now that stuff is sitting in front of the recliner and the dining room table.  It’s too disgusting to even take a photo of it all, I just need to dig in and get going on it (most of the “stuff” are boxes of mixed up junk papers and bills and “real” papers that just need to be sorted and filed or recycled.  We do a little better now with that kind of thing, but it has never been our strong suit at all!).  Sigh.

But for now, I am going up to let the younger pigeons out of the loft for a little loft toss.  They usually fly around for a few minutes and then come down and sit on the roof for a little bit, and then hop back through the tunnel and gate and go in for their food.  Our older flyers have been training well.  This morning I took them down to what used to be Sherman Lake (now Sherman Marsh) between Damariscotta and Wiscasset, and let them go.  All 14 returned, thank goodness.  Currently we are missing 3 flyers, but hopefully one or two of those will turn up as they do sometimes. I just hope this crew are ready for the first young bird race in mid-August!

Maybe if I get into my routine, my mojo will improve!

The Busyness of summer

Pippi's babies having some fun
Pippi’s babies having some fun

Is beginning!  Even though it doesn’t feel like almost summer right now, 50F and drizzly and foggy.  We desperately need the rain, as the snow melt goodness has long gone.  This was probably the easiest mud season in the paddocks that I have experienced since living here.

Bones of the greenhouse
Bones of the greenhouse

Since the babies have all come and are thriving and doing well, now it’s down to business.  I spent a lot of the weekend moving green panels.  One of our greenhouses, the one that looks like dinosaur bones hanging out up on a rise, needs to come down.  The supports are sliding off the pad that John put down many years ago.  (It was never wide enough to really do the job, and as we have found to our dismay, even on a flat, hard gravel pad, the supports splay after a few years which makes the covers tear, and the zippers break, etc.).  If we put it up again, it needs to have a frame for the supports to fit into so it can’t sag with age.  I had to block it off to the goats for now as I don’t want the babies going up there and jumping over the side panels into the lower paddock, 8 -10 feet below.  I keep hoping that I can get some kind of a real building going, and soon! Have to get planning on that one and toss around for someone with knowledgeable help.  Builders we are definitely not.

I always have a list a mile long of things to accomplish over the summer, and this year is no different.  The last day of school is Friday, June 19th, and then the work begins.

 

 

 

SnowPea and the boys

SnowPea making eyes at the boys through the fence
SnowPea making eyes at the boys through the fence

Things around here have been pretty quiet this past week, with the exception of the boys and their pre-breeding behaviors. They continue their beauty regimes by making sure their faces and beards are totally saturated with urine, and they stand near the fence making what they think are “come hither” noises. For the most part the girls ignore the bucks, but when one of them comes into heat we are aware of it from the house with all the calling and tussling amongst the boys.

SnowPea not coming in for milking
SnowPea not coming in for milking

Yesterday I went out to milk, and usually SnowPea is waiting at the gate to get right out onto the milk stand. She was nowhere to be found, but I heard her from around the greenhouse. She was plastered up near the fence, making eyes at Beige Boy, whose stinkiness was evident even 30 or 40 feet away. I had a terrible time getting her to leave the fence, and once on the milk stand all she did was bellow and look around, and she did quite a bit of foot stamping as well. It was not our best milking experience, to be sure. What a hussy!

Today things seem to have returned to normal. With the exception of the muggy weather, it should be a great last official day of summer.

 

Finally Friday

Goatie butts around the feeder. Elf is looking on!
Goatie butts around the feeder. Elf is looking on!

First day of summer vacation. Awesomely wonderful even if I had to take my husband for his 10 year colonoscopy! It wasn’t work, so that was a thrill. And I got him up at 4:30 a.m. (15 minutes past my usual wake up) and then went back to sleep until 6. Heavenly!

Rugosas alongside the house
Rugosas alongside the house

The weather has turned very cool and sun and clouds are out there. I don’t mind the below normal temps at all. Makes it a lot easier to do chores (although I am very happy to wait a long time for the winter’s return!). It’s green and beautiful outside and some of my rosa rugosas are blooming. All’s right with my little corner of the universe today, and I am grateful.

Never get tired of the view
Never get tired of the summer sky view!

Time to relax, finally!