Monday, April 27, 2015

Random photo...

I finished my blog challenge yesterday, but have been enjoying my daily assignments. I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to blog about today, so I scrolled though my pictures and randomly picked one file. I vowed to blog about something I found in some picture in that file.

This is the shot I landed on. It is Beth, my friend and the most wonderful receptionist of all time when I worked at Yankee Clipper. She died too soon, and I miss her.

Every work day Beth would go to the bank, and while she was out she'd grab lunch for herself. It was usually something from a convenience store. She was prone to sticking to a certain lunch for extended periods. It might be two weeks of pizza, then 10 days of burgers. Or maybe some chicken. For days. There was a span of time the macaroni and cheese was popular. No matter what the lunch, she would eat about 3/4's of it, then crouch down to share the rest with the shop dogs.

The shop dogs were whichever dogs happened to be on the floor that day. My dogs were always included.Other employee dogs might be there, too. Then there might be some little dogs that were frequent guests at the place, and had good manners. The cast of little faces varied. In this picture there is Flirt the toy poodle,and a cute visiting Yorkshire terrier. Then there is Blossom, a pug we adopted from the shelter and didn't have long enough.

That dog loved to eat. And snuggle. And poop on the floor. But I digress. Back to Beth. She was one of those people that everyone liked. You just couldn't help it. And the dogs? They adored her. I do believe that dogs know a good person when they see one, and they all saw that Beth was a person to be trusted. Especially if she was handing out mac and cheese.

I miss Beth. And I miss little Blossom, too. I hope that Blossom has found Beth in heaven, and that they hang out together at lunch. I bet there is some pretty amazing macaroni and cheese there.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

"Zoo" maintenance...

Today was the day that we cleaned out the goat room. The past two years we practiced what is called "the deep bedding method." This means that in early winter, when the weather begins to be cold, we start layering in bedding. Rather than removing the soiled shavings, we just add more on top. It starts with shavings,which are absorbent, then hay is added as the goats drop bits of it when they eat. When the weather gets very cold we toss in a bale of straw. The idea is that the deep bedding insulates the cold that comes up from the ground, and the bedding actually begins to compost, which generates heat to help the goats survive comfortably in the cold times. This is all well and good until it is time to remove the bedding in the spring. Then it is a rather horrible, heavy, odious task.

As the old bedding is removed, the lower levels are soaked in urine, and the air is perfumed with ammonia. It isn't pretty. The mix of shavings and hay and straw is heavy and wet. And to make matters worse, the job requires a lot of upper body strength, which I sadly lack. So, my sweet husband volunteers to help me. Not only is the work hard, but the ceiling is short and he is tall and the entire episode is marked with the sound of his head thwacking on the roof joists.

He raked and shoveled and hoed. He used his hands and his big boots and everything he had. He rolled up the bedding and pushed it to the door. And he never lost his sense of humor or his sweetness.

I pulled the old bedding out, and hauled muck bucket after muck bucket out to the manure pile. We estimate it took 50 bucket loads until we reached the dirt floor. It took 3 hours, 2 quarts of iced tea and a lot of stick-to-it-ativness to get the project done. The goats took turns peering in to see what we were up to, and then dancing on the growing manure pile outside. They found it all to be great fun. We questioned the process and decided next year we need a new plan.

We let the room air a bit then added two bales of clean, bright, fresh shavings. The goats explored the space with interest.

It feels good to have that big project behind us. And I am so grateful to my kind and patient husband for always being there, no matter how horrid the task. Left to his own devices, I suspect he'd live in a condominium and not have so much as a houseplant. Yet, here he is, shoveling muck and hauling hay, bottle feeding goat kids and erecting hot wire to keep pigs enclosed. And he does it all with kindness and generosity and deep, deep love. He didn't know he was buying into keeping a "zoo" when he met me, but he has risen to the occasion, beautifully.

Saturday, April 25, 2015


After a long, cold, snowy winter, spring is more than welcome.
Yet she is acting shy and holding back. Last night a friend that lives about 15 miles from me reported that it was snowing at her place, and this morning when I went out to milk goats and feed animals the thermometer read 27F.

I long to put my coat and gloves away.

And I am yearning for the grass to grow and for flowers to bloom.

Though the buds on my lilac are beginning to swell a bit, they don't look like blossoming is anywhere near ready to happen.

However, feeling optimistic I filled and hung the hummingbird feeder yesterday.

I want to be ready when they arrive. The charts say that could be in the next two weeks. If I were a Hummingbird I'd wait a bit.
They will get here and yearn, too.

Friday, April 24, 2015

eXcellent smile...

I took Jane Doe for a little drive today. We went to visit a friend who had expressed interest in seeing the kids, but was not up to coming here. Jane rode like a champion in the truck, next to her friend Ziva. They both seemed unconcerned.

When we got there she stood quietly on my friends bed. And his face lit up in a wonderful, warm smile. He touched her soft fur.
And smiled again.

It was excellent.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

What I do...

My commute to work these days is so sweet. I get up early, take care of all the animals, then tidy up the house. Then I think, "It's time to go to work..." and 30 seconds later I am standing in my sun washed studio waiting for pets to arrive.

And now, as I enter my first spring, arriving they are. My phone rings and rings.

I bake cookies, I make sure the coffee is ready. People come, they stay and watch me work, we chat and laugh and it all just SO good.

The days are busy and long, but sweet.

Outside the windows I can watch the baby goats play, the chickens scratch, the ducks waddle and splash.

I love what I do... and where I do it.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Very funny...

Sometimes things happen here at FairWinds that are just funny. Things that most likely don't happen anywhere else.
For instance, today was a beautiful, warm, sunny day. I opened up the door to the fenced yard so Ziva could choose to be in or out, enjoying the weather. At one point I looked from the studio to check on her and there was a chicken peeking inside from the threshold, looking like she wanted to come in. I told Ziva, "Get that chicken," and she hustled the bird back outside. I didn't think any more about it, and went back to work.

A while later my daughter came home. We chatted a few moments, then she went about her business. She reappeared a bit later, laughing and shaking her head. "I had NOTHING to do with this, Mom, but there is a chicken in the bathroom. She's settled down next to the toilet, looking like she may lay an egg. Want me to move her?" When I got done laughing I thought a moment and then replied, "Let's wait and see what happens."

I continued to work. About 25 minutes later my daughter came back,grinning, with a warm egg in hand. The chicken had left her offering then headed back outside. I think I can safely say that I don't know anyone else who ever had a chicken come inside and leave an egg by their potty.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


I tend to focus rather intently on things that are right in front of me.
I often have to be reminded to look away and around to get the big picture.
This might mean something as simple as that I clean a room but forget to check the ceiling and corners for cobwebs.
Or that I have to remind myself to stand back from a dog I am grooming and get a different view before I consider the job to be done.

And I often have to be reminded to look UP...

When I see people that I care about struggling with major life challenges, things so difficult that they cannot be explained, I struggle to find perspective, no matter which way I look.