Sunday, August 21, 2016

Flowers and critters...

I feed the wild birds, and they repay my kindness by planting sunflowers all over the place.

I took my camera for a walk this morning, hoping to get some interesting pictures of the animals.  I especially wanted some of Abraham. It turns out he is hard to photograph, because he wants to be right next to me every moment. If I walk, he is just one step behind me. If I stop he nuzzles me and asks nicely for attention.
Here he is, right behind me as I went out to the pasture. He shadowed me the entire time, then finally went off to see what the goats where eating.



As soon as I headed back to the house he trailed behind me.  Clearly he enjoys human company more than that of the other critters.


He was in lockstep with me all the back to the house. I think he'd like to come inside.  Can donkey's be house trained?  As you can see, Chanel is doing very well.  So much better than I could have hoped. She even runs a bit sometimes.  My vet is a wonder.

My silly Silkie chickens usually keep their white feathers pristinely clean, so I chuckled when I saw the mama hen all covered in wet and mud.  To me it looks like her chick is saying, "Um, mama?  There is something on your face."  Mama hen looks tired to me.

Speaking of Mama hens, we have a bit of a mystery here.  One of my Light Brahma's hatched 5 chicks out about 3 weeks ago.  She has been a model mother, taking exquisite care of her brood. It delighted me to see her going about the yard, clucking to her brood, and the 5 wee ones staying right with her, a cohesive little family.  Then yesterday the mama apparently decided she'd had enough of the whole experience and quit talking to her babies, or spending any time with them. They are left to their own devices to forage for food and explore the pasture.  This is not good, because without a mother hen looking out for them, they are far more apt to become a snack for some predator. I can't even tell which hen is their mom, they all look nearly identical.  So, I am hoping for the best and keeping my eye on the little dusters whenever I can.  I have no idea why the hen has tired of her peeps, but she surely has left them high and dry. Too bad there is no local foster care program for chicks who have been abandoned by their parents!


Saturday, August 20, 2016

The power of "things..."

My extended family is pretty terrific. People I love and admire and enjoy being with.

One of the things that I am very proud of is that when our parents died, there was no fighting.  As a group we divided up the tangibles my parents left, without a single squabble.

I lived far away from "home," so my siblings got larger items likes furniture and such, and I was allowed to keep many small things to help me remember my sweet parents and my youth.  Jewelry, brick-a-brack, my mothers Staffordshire dog collection... these items are redolent with memories of a happy childhood.

As if that wasn't wonderful enough, in the ensuing years something magical happened. As time went by, things got shared.  My brother moved and sent my young daughter her grandfathers typewriter and other memorabilia.  My sister commented that she wished she had my grandmothers amethyst necklace and earrings, so I gave them to her for her birthday.  Another sister gave me an antique desk that she had inherited when I opened my grooming studio. The "things" that lived on were given and taken and made delightfully communal.

This week, the mail lady delivered a box.
My sister Dicy (Diane) died 14 years ago. Her partner, Jeannine, had boxed up a few little things that Dicy had recieved when my mom died.  She sent them to me with this sweet note:
It says, "I finally found the right box. Dicy and I enjoyed these sweet things together-and I have since her death. Twenty years, total! May they bring pleasure and memories.  Love, J."

And that is it.  Things.  They bring us pleasure, and memories.  Jeannine shared these particular items with me, because I have a farmlette with a rooster, horse and rabbits.  They have meaning because of that, and because my mom treasured them, and my sister and sweet Jeannine, too.  She has generously shared other things with other family members when the time was right.

My family is terrific. And there are things here that stay on even after some of them cross over.  Things that bring pleasure and memories.

I am blessed.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Terrible, no good, very bad morning...

My big sister, Donna, has told me on more than one occasion that my blog is unrealistic. She said it is too upbeat and optimistic, and not like real life.  Because my general attitude is sunny, I have shrugged her criticism off, but this morning as a series of events happened I thought, "If I blog this, Donna will be surprised!

So here goes.  Let Daryl's terrible, no good, very bad morning unfold before you.

In the wee, dark hours, I was awakened by a sound.  An unusual sound.  A bad sound, that involved a dog. Bleary, I sat up. As consciousness gained a grip on my brain I did a quick "animal assessment." Flirt and Smooch were sound asleep on the bed.  Though the room was dark I could see little Bravo lying on his bed next to mine. Then I realized the sound was coming from Dutch, our beloved Golden Retriever. It was her claws scraping the wooden floor as she was experiencing a grand mal seizure. So, yanked from sweet, sweet sleep I went into action, sliding her to where she wouldn't injure herself as she flailed around, putting towels under her head to absorb the massive amounts of drool she was producing, and under her tush to absorb the urine that was leaking out.  The seizure lasted a long time, 5 minutes or more, and then there was an hour or so where she was panting horribly and stumbling about, disoriented. I fetched ice cubes for her to lick and made her comfortable by my bed. I spent the next hour or so gently stroking her head and ears until she fell into a deep sleep, and I fell into a fitful one.

Dutch has only been a part of our family for 10 months, but a sweeter, better dog never lived.  We all love her, (even the other dogs adore her!) and the thought that she is nearing the end of her time in this realm is a sad one.

So I woke up feeling melancholy as an overcast, muggy day dawned.  Happily, Dutch got down the steep stairs of her own accord, and asked for breakfast.  Once she was taken care of I headed out to care for the other critters. In the summer I wear ugly Croc shoes to do chores. They were abandoned here by sister Deb, and I have given them hard use. They look like clown shoes, but are comfortable and easy to clean when I step in poop. And I ALWAYS step in poop.


  I gave the greedy goat kids their bottles and headed for the hen yard to let the birds out of their coops.


 A neighbor was driving past and I waved merrily. Not looking where I was going, I stepped in a slippery, muddy spot and went down hard. Croc's have no traction, and are deadly on slick surfaces.  I laid in the mud (and lets be honest, chicken poo) and assessed the situation. Since I am still recovering from a dislocated shoulder, falls are extra scary.  I was unhurt, but covered in odoriferous muck from my feet to my chin. I got up gingerly, let the birds out and headed to milk the goats.


I milk two goats each morning.  Ella goes first.  Goats know what time they are milked, and wait at the gate. They also know which order things happen in. Ella is my naughtiest goat, but today's milking was mostly uneventful. She hopped up on the table and I fastened her hobbles. These are little fabric straps which I affix around her rear ankles. They prevent her from kicking while I milk.  She has no qualms whatsoever about kicking the milk bucket, or me, if the spirit moves her to do so.  After I milked her there was the daily game of "chase Ella around the garage."  She likes to get into things she shouldn't, (like the bucket of chicken food) wedge her chubby body into places it does not fit, (behind the stack of studded tires and garden tools) and just in general drive me to distraction.  I got her back to the pasture and let Celeste out.  She is my angelic goat. Walks right the milk stand, acts like a goat statue while I milk her, never kicking or doing anything that makes me cuss.  Until today.  Just as I was finishing up the job, quick as a blink, she lifted her left rear leg, shoved her hoof in the bucket and merrily pushed two quarts of warm, frothy milk over and into my lap.  It soaked into my cotton summer dress, and ran down my legs, oozing into the holes of  my ugly baby blue crocs and mixing with the muck from my earlier fall.

The rest of the morning chores were done with my milk-soaked dress clinging stickily to my legs, and my feet squishing in a mixed potion of dirt, poo and goat milk.  It felt as unappealing as it smelled.

 I may have neglected to mention that we added two more rabbits to the menagerie here. They have a nice, roomy calf hutch to live in, with an upended tote filled with sweet hay to snuggle up inside.  I move the hutch every day or two so they have clean, fresh grass and weeds to nibble.  I noticed this morning a little patch of bare soil under them... they were strategically posed here, hiding the escape hole they were working on tunneling.  I moved the hutch to fresh ground and began devising a way to prevent them for digging in the future.

Chores completed I came in to tidy the kitchen and make myself a little breakfast.  But I was vexed by....

Flies. The house is riddled with them.  Since we  live on a farmlette, there is a lot of manure. And where there is manure, there are flies. And at the end of summer the flies are frantic, trying to get their little pesky bucket lists completed before the first frost ends their horrid lives.  Our screening is not the best in spots, and the last week or so we have been besieged by buzzing, winged, horrors.  They found my milk and manure crusted outfit a treat, and drove me, cursing, upstairs to shower and change, all the while plotting their demise.

Add to all of this that fact that Flirt is "in season."  She would like to breed, thankyouverymuch. Bravo, (almost 5 months old) has no idea what the wee hussy has in mind, but she spends every moment she is near him with her posterior pushed as close to his face as she can manage to get it.
Since of course we do not intend to have puppies, I have to keep the two separated unless I am staring at them, in case Bravo figures things out.  So, it's baby gates and shut doors for a few weeks, and one more thing to worry about.

And that dear readers, and especially Donna, is the story of my unpleasant morning.  Proof that it is not all sunshine and rosebuds at Fairwinds.  We have our share of ugly shoes and poop, too.




Monday, August 15, 2016

Introducing Abraham...

When I was a teen my big sister Dicy had a donkey.  His name was Bolero Pistachio and we all loved him.  I used to hope that one day I would have a donkey.

Many months ago a woman who is both a customer and a friend said to me in passing, "Hey, you want a donkey?" She didn't seem terribly serious, but the wheels in my mind started turning.

 Then recently she contacted me again.  She has had a life change and is finding homes for many of her animals as she embarks on her next chapter.  A kind and responsible owner, she is making sure that each pet has a good home. She encouraged me to come over and meet her donkey, so we did.  He was wandering around the yard, having left the fenced pasture where the horses were.  A sociable guy, he brayed a greeting then came right up to say hello.  I was falling fast. Then my friend lifted his head up and said, "Kiss his nose."  Of course I did. It was warm velvet, and he was perfectly happy to have me smooch him.  "Ok," I said, "I'll take him." Then I paused. "Oh, I should ask Chris first! Chris, may I have a donkey?"  Warm eyes twinkling, he shrugged, "I leave these decisions up to you."



This afternoon my friend brought Abraham to live at FairWinds.

He explored the back yard, meeting the goats, sheep and horse through the fence.


His owners hugged and kissed him. I assured them that they were welcome to visit any time.
When they left he watched with great interest...

Then continued to explore his new digs.  He took a dust bath...



I had planned to leave him in the hen yard or the back yard for the night, letting him visit the other animals over the fence.  But he seemed so anxious to get in with the rest of the herd, I opened the gate.



And now, in the dark of night, the horse and donkey are grazing side by side.
Welcome, Abraham. I hope we will have many happy years together at our peaceable farmlette.



Sunday, August 14, 2016

From away...

Life-long Mainers refer to people who live elsewhere as being, "From Away."  If they are visitors, this is normally stated as a simple fact, but if they live here, there is a bit more disdain used in the tone.  For example, "That house down the road sold. The new people are 'From Away.'" (As a side note, once you are from away, you will remain that way forever more. It does not matter if you moved to Maine when you were a toddler and are now pushing 80, the label remains.  I once read something on this topic that went like this, "Just because a cat had kittens in the oven doesn't make them biscuits."  Unless you were born here, you are not a Mainer.)

Last night we had supper guests from away. FAR away.  Germany.  And though they spoke far better English than we spoke their language, there was not a lot of back and forth conversation going on.  They are in Maine visiting my friend Marion, and they wanted to try lobster.  Marion is not a seafood kind of woman, so she asked us if we would mind cooking up some crustaceans and showing her friends how to eat them.  An excuse for lobster?  Sign us UP!

The weather was damp and sticky, so Chris lit a fire in the fire ring to cheer things up...
The guests wanted to see how this whole lobster cooking thing worked. Chris obliged...


Normally when we cook lobster we start off with corn fresh from the local farm, and cook the lobsters while we have the corn as a "starter."  Since this is a messy meal, we normally eat out at the picnic table, but there were too many people to sit comfortably there, and the weather wasn't all that great, so moved things indoors.

The corn didn't disappoint and Marion translated that her friends said we had ruined them for German corn.  When the lobsters made an appearance, there were sounds of appreciation...
Pantomimed lobster cracking sessions followed.

 And every tender, tasty morsel was devoured.

We followed up with rum cake topped with local berries and whipped cream.
Every bit of the supper was sweet.  I hope our guests will carry a happy memory home with them.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Magic moment...

A few weeks ago, at a beach in Massachusetts, I was swimming with my family. Most of us left the water for the shore, but my niece Aimee stayed, enjoying the waves.  A baby seal swam near her. Ever since I have been eaten up with jealousy!  She swam with a baby seal, and I missed the experience by mere moments.

Today was hot in Maine. Rachel and I groomed a lot of dogs, and despite fans moving air and cool clothes, I was uncomfortable. When the last dog left for the day it took me about 2 minutes to ditch my hot, dog-hair encrusted clothes and don a bathing suit.  All I could think about was heading to the lake for a dip.

The place we like to swim is not terribly popular, but sometimes there are 6 or so people there. I was hoping for solitude.  When I got there I found two people sitting in chairs, admiring the scenery.  No one was in the water. I was elated. What I craved was cool seclusion, and there it was, undulating before me.

In no time I had my towel and keys stashed, my shoes shucked off, and was wading into the cool, clear water.  I walked until I was chest deep, then pushed off, welcoming the chill embrace. I swam a ways out, watching a man in a kayak glide past, a Great Blue Heron flap overhead and land on the reedy shore.  It was then that I noticed, maybe 20 feet away, a loon. (This is not my picture, I found it on the 'net.)


I have a bit of a thing for loons. It borders on adoration. It all began on our honeymoon.  We stayed in Ellsworth, Maine, at a far flung place called, "Crummet's Cedar Cabins."  Our little cabin was on the lake shore, and my love and I delighted to hear loons calling every night.  I still am enchanted to hear their voices plaintively calling. And they are amazingly beautiful to look at. They are big birds, and a bit shy, so when I catch a glimpse of one it is always a treat.  And here I was, treading water, with a lovely loon at face level.  I'm pretty sure I held my breath while I watched it preen it's feathers. And then it dipped its head and dove, heading my way. I became as still as I could, watching to see where it would pop up.  I pivoted my head from side to side. Nothing broke the calm surface.

Long moments passed. Then a piercing cry, just behind me to the left. Slowly I turned my head... not 10 feet from my face was the exquisite loon. I could see every speckled feather, and it's mesmerizing eye. It floated there, looking back at me, for one long, magical moment, then ducked below the surface and vanished in a ripple.  

My life is riddled with enchanting moments. This one was more memorable than most...  seeing a loon face to face.  More than I could ever dream of.   






Magic moment...

A few weeks ago, at a beach in Massachusetts, I was swimming with my family. Most of us left the water for the shore, but my niece Aimee stayed, enjoying the waves.  A baby seal swam near her. Ever since I have been eaten up with jealousy!  She swam with a baby seal, and I missed the experience by mere moments.

Today was hot in Maine. Rachel and I groomed a lot of dogs, and despite fans moving air and cool clothes, I was uncomfortable. When the last dog left for the day it took me about 2 minutes to ditch my hot, dog-hair encrusted clothes and don a bathing suit.  All I could think about was heading to the lake for a dip.

The place we like to swim is not terribly popular, but sometimes there are 6 or so people there. I was hoping for solitude.  When I got there I found two people sitting in chairs, admiring the scenery.  No one was in the water. I was elated. What I craved was cool solitude, and there it was, undulating before me.

In no time I had my towel and keys stashed, my shoes shucked off, and was wading into the cool, clear water.  I walked until I was chest deep, then pushed off, welcoming the chill embrace. I swam a ways out, watching a man in a kayak glide past, a Great Blue Heron flap overhead and land on the reedy shore.  It was then that I noticed, maybe 20 feet away, a loon. (This is not my picture, I found it on the 'net.)


I have a bit of a thing for loons. It borders on adoration. It all began on our honeymoon.  We stayed in Ellsworth, Maine, at a far flung place called, "Crummet's Cedar Cabins."  Our little cabin was on the lake shore, and my love and I delighted to hear loons calling every night.  I still am enchanted to hear their voices plaintively calling. And they are amazingly beautiful to look at. They are big birds, and a bit shy, so when I catch a glimpse of one it is always a treat.  And here I was, treading water, with a lovely loon at face level.  I'm pretty sure I held my breath while I watched it preen it's feathers. And then it dipped its head and dove, heading my way. I became as still as I could, watching to see where it would pop up.  I pivoted my head from side to side. Nothing broke the calm surface.

Long moments passed. Then a piercing cry, just behind me to the left. Slowly I turned my head... not 10 feet from my face was the exquisite loon. I could see every speckled feather, and it's mesmerizing eye. It floated there, looking back at me, for one long, magical moment, then ducked below the surface and vanished in a ripple.  

My life is riddled with enchanting moments. This one was more memorable than most...  seeing a loon face to face.  More than I could ever dream of.