Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Family...

Tonight we hugged and kissed and said goodbye to 4 far-flung family members who we do not see often enough. Chris' three sisters and once niece came from Florida and Mississippi to take  peek at Maine and spend time with us.  It was a joy to welcome them here.

We took them to see some of our favorite places; the view from Mt. Battie, the quaint charm of downtown Camden, Rockport Harbor...
Chris was so happy to spend time with his sisters. He especially enjoyed showing sister Meg around, as she had never visited before.
 I always enjoy spending time with my in-laws.  They are a fun and funny bunch, and we laugh a lot when we are together.
We prepared a few meals for them.  Chris likes to show love by cooking, and he trotted out some of his best dinners for his beloveds. Cajun Shrimp Scampi, steamed lobster, double breaded pork cutlets with lemon/dill sauce, each more delicious than the last.  Everyone joined us for breakfast a couple of times, too. Moments around the table were marked with stories told;  some old family favorites were trotted out with flair, and some new ones delighted us, as well.
One night they took us out to celebrate Rachel and Evans engagement.  They brought generous and thoughtful gifts, and we dined on the waterfront while the sun went down, celebrating a sweet union.

It was a visit rich in all the best things, catching up on the events we miss when we are so far apart, hearing about other family members, eating too much good food. There were hugs and grins and a good time all around. We even went wedding dress shopping... successfully. The aunts and cousin seemed to enjoy being a part of the process when Rachel said "yes," to the dress! 

And now they are packing up to go back to warmer climes, leaving us with happy memories and grateful hearts for good times spent with family. I hope only hope that they cherished the time as much as I did. 


Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Poor decisions...

As a human being I am prone to making some poor decisions.  I made one last night, thinking with my heart instead of my head.  And you know what? I'm not sorry.

Here is the story.  Three years ago Luna, my first and all-time favorite goat, had twin kids, a boy and a girl.  I sold them both, but thought long and hard before selling the doeling.  She was a pretty thing, and I knew she might be Luna's last kid.  But, I was trying to be a very good farmer, and knowing that Luna had never been a very healthy goat, I decided not to keep her daughter.  My neighbors bought her and another little female goat from me. I got to see them from time to time, and all was well.

Then the neighbors decided they didn't want goats any more and told me they wanted to sell theirs. I found someone I knew who wanted them, and off they went to their new home.

Last night I received a message from the young woman who had the goats.  "I know you really liked that Saanen doe. I am thinning my herd, and I will give her to you if you want her. I can bring her by tomorrow." I told Chris. "You HAVE to get her," he said.  It was a bad idea.  I have plenty of goats, more than I need, truth be told. And my original decision not to keep her was sound.

But then there is this; I have been missing Luna so much. She was the heart of my little farm and I still find myself looking for her when I go out to the pasture.  If her current owner sold this Luna daughter to someone else, I would lose the chance to have a little piece of Luna forever.


This afternoon I got a text message, "I'll be there in 15 minutes."  I stopped what I was doing and when I heard her truck pull in, I walked outside. I have to admit, my heart skipped a beat when I saw the lovely little doe surveying her surroundings.  She looks exactly like her mama.

The other goats did a little sniffing. A little head butting.  But mostly all was calm in the pasture.
The Luna daughter was called, "May," in her last home, and that is a perfectly nice name, but I think we will call her, "Spirit."  I feel like the ghost of her mother is back on the farm.
She is very friendly, follows me like a puppy, and just like that, she has leaped into my heart.  The very same heart that over-ruled my head and made a bad decision.  I'm still not sorry.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Calm after the storm...

Yesterday unfolded in a rather hectic manner.  A professional photographer friend asked if she could come take some pictures of my animals for a project she is working on.  She mentioned that she'd love to be able to take pictures of the goat kids dancing on the horses back, something she has done in years past.  I told her that lately the morning routine involved Chanel lying down in the pasture somewhere shortly after 7:00 AM and if she felt like being here early she stood a chance of catching the images she desired.  So I was up, showered and dressed by 6, doing chores looking more civilized than I normally do with wild hair and wearing pajamas.  My friend came and Chanel and the kids complied. Many photos were taken.

Moments after she left, my first of three grooming clients arrived.  I took care of each of those pets, and the moment the last dog left I flew out the door with Bravo to go to a training session in preparation for a competition we entered for next weekend.  That was fun and he did well.  We scooted out a bit early because we were expecting visitors.  A long time grooming friend from Florida and her sister were in Maine to pick up her new puppy, Breeze. Breeze is an English Shepherd, and from the same parents as Bravo.  My friend drove here to see us and let us meet little Breeze. What a treat!


They were packing up to head back to Portland when three friends arrived to watch the last of the Triple Crown horse races, the Belmont Stakes. We traditionally have a little pot luck meal and watch the races together.  The theme for this supper was Mexican. Chris made carne asada, I made fresh tortillas, Rachel made guacamole, and Marion brought delicious refried beans, home made salsa, and a mouth watering strawberry/rhubarb crisp.  A feast!

After our guests left, Rachel and Evans filled up her little car with more items, and Smooch the pooch. With a jaunty wave they headed off to Belfast to spend their first night in their cozy new apartment. And just like that both the busy day and a life chapter were ended.  We were down to two dogs and no child at home.  Chris and I looked at each other and sighed.  Suddenly the house seemed very, very quiet.

This morning as I did chores I could hear birds singing and flies buzzing.  The rabbits were dancing around the yard.

And mama bluebird was busily bringing food to her chicks. In and out of the nest box she goes, all day long.
Unlike ours, her nest is not empty.

A warm summer day stretches before me, ripe with promise, and calm. New beginnings are afoot.


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Some people...

My daughter is getting married in October.  We are plotting and planning the event, with a fair amount of glee.  A practical woman, she is planning to be a frugal bride.  "The marriage is important, not a big, expensive party."  We've been working extra, selling things we no longer need or love and squirreling away any cash we can lay our hands on into a little vintage tin box. A growing wedding fund.  Grooming tips are going in there, too, and we have mentioned this to several customers.  Some now come in to pay for their grooming with a few dollar bills folded in hand, nodding towards the box, "Put this in the fund," they say with shy smiles.  It delights us.

One of the things Rachel wants to do is to collect mis-matched but pretty china plates to serve the wedding feast on.  We've been scouring antique shops and plan to hit some yard sales. I mentioned this to one of my customers while I was grooming her dog and we were chatting.  She seemed to think it was an interesting idea.

A few days later she was at the door, unexpectedly.  She had a pretty wicker basket in hand...
Inside were 4 beautiful china plates, in perfect condition.  "I went to an antique store with a friend and told her about your daughters plan," she said.  "She spied these.  They are Haviland. And there is a little something for the fund, too."  Inside, a lovely card with a crisp $50. bill.  Rachel and I both found that our eyes became strangely leaky when we took in the sweetness of this incredibly thoughtful gift.

Some people bring us much joy.



Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Presto change-o..!

Here's a little secret.  I have disliked my garage doors for years and years.

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I never saw them when they were new, but I'm sure they were not pretty then, either.  Time was not kind. Though they were automatic, the creaks and groans and rumbles they made when we pushed the button rivaled the sounds of a wooden roller coaster from the '60's.  The paint was a mess, and several of the windows were broken because the doors were warped and when they opened/shut sometimes a pane of glass would spontaneously explode.  It made for some excitement if you were standing nearby.  

A few years back I started noticing some carriage style garage doors appearing around, and I was struck with a horrid case of envy. I coveted and coveted.  They looked SO much better than my ratty old things.  I priced them out and it was clear that they were out of my budget. I tried not to fixate, but to me our garage doors made our whole place look shabby and worn.  

For my birthday this year Chris, (I really should refer to him as Saint Chris, I think) gifted me with a wad of cash from his recent work bonus and told me to go get new doors.  

Imagine my excitement when this morning this van backed smoothly into the driveway. 

Just one van, and one guy.  I had envisioned a job of this magnitude would take a trailer full of equipment and a whole crew.  I was wrong.  It took Eric all day, but he worked along at a steady rate and by days end I was treated to this view. 

When I push the button the doors glide up smoothly and quietly. No screaming of metal on metal, no shattering glass.  There is not much adventure to open these beauties, and I'm good with that.  

I feel like the whole place has had a face lift. Presto change-o!  What a difference.  One of the best birthday presents of all time, don't you think? 


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Visitors...

The large animal veterinarian came today.  She is a lovely person, with the sort of intellect that makes me stand back in admiration.  Young, pretty, vibrant and kind, I feel blessed to know her.

First she gave Chanel an exam.  Well into senior citizen status, (I think she is 31 this year) Chanel still looks good. Her winter coat is gone and she is showing off her sweet summer dapples. She is slimmer than she often is, too.
But her doctor has concerns.  This may be her last summer, and it was suggested that her riding days are probably over.  She had a rabies shot, and some other shots to keep her fit.  As always, she stood stock still and behaved like a lady.  She is such a good horse.

Next Abraham had his shots.
He's been very frisky lately, enjoying the spring weather and romping about. He can often be seen running, bucking, in general having a happy frolic. Today he tried to be a terror. Pulling at the lead rope, trying his best to get away. "Is he always a jerk?" the doctor asked.  I assured her that he was normally a solid citizen. He spun and bucked.  But he met his match with the vet.  She taught me how to "snub," him.  We looped the lead rope around a tree and held his head fast.  "NEVER do this with a horse," she said, "but it works great with donkey's."  Sure enough, he became very still and had his shots without incidence.

The three adult goats all had rabies shots. The kids had a combo vaccine to keep them healthy.
I shelled out some cash and a baggie full of brownies, and the visit was over.

Dinner was put in the oven, then I took my camera out to the pasture.

The kids (around a month old) were leaping like deer.


Just outside the fence I discovered one of the ducks, on a beautiful nest. By rights the ducks should be locked up in a coop at night to keep them safe, but my ducks are quite wild and in the fine weather they flat refuse to let me keep them safe. On top of that, they hide nests where I can't find them.  I have tried my best to prevent them from nesting and  hatching ducklings.

 But I have failed. My husband quips, "Life is persistent." I didn't have the heart to remove her eggs at this point, but I wasn't feeling happy about new ducklings to find homes for. When I came near she rose and hissed furiously.

Lifted off the nest, she showed a huge pile of eggs.  Oh my. Fourteen at least.

Fast forward till 1:00 AM. I was sleeping peacefully when my daughter called out,  "There is something in the pasture and the ducks are going nuts."  I got up and dressed as fast as I could, bleary and confused.  Out we went with flashlights.The mama duck was quacking loudly, and racing around the pasture.  We had scared off whatever critter was out there, and after a good look around went back to bed, worried.

This morning I could only find 4 out of 5 ducks. And every last egg was gone from the pretty nest.  All day I felt sad that one of my ducks had been carried off.  In the afternoon, when work was done, I walked out to do chores. And there were all 5 ducks.  Sometimes living with livestock presents mysteries.  Where had that missing duck been all day?  Who made off with all the hidden eggs?

Visitors.  Some bring happiness by arriving, like our veterinarian, and some by leaving, like the night time marauder.


Tuesday, May 16, 2017

... of happiness

All winter two male bluebirds were here. Through snow and storms and inhospitable weather, they stayed.  They came to the feeder, (very unusual for bluebirds) and I fed them meal worms and our seed mix has fruit, which they seemed to enjoy.  In late winter two females joined the bachelors and stayed for weeks. Then they vanished for months.

Now it is nesting season and I put two nice nest boxes up. One new one is where I can see it from where I work.
We installed the new suite in March, when snow was still on the ground.  Within 10 minutes of the nest box being hung, a handsome male bluebird swooped in to check it out. I was elated, thinking of a sweet couple raising a brood right outside my window.  But no further interest was shown.  When the snow was gone, a few tree swallows checked the new digs out, but rejected it. Then some English Sparrows thought they'd move in. I strongly discouraged this... shooing them away when they landed, removing each nest they began to build, and finally leaving the front of the box open for a few days until they finally got discouraged.  

My efforts paid off.  Today I saw this... 

A waving strand of grass or hay.  I stared and was rewarded for my efforts.  
A little head emerged. 

Handsome man, readying a nest for his beloved. Oh how I hope there will be a nest and chicks and more marvelous bluebirds born.