Friday, August 17, 2018

Loneliness...

Abraham is lonesome.

The night Chanel died he called for her, waking us several times in the wee hours. He has never called out at night before.He's been very vocal ever since, calling at all hours.  A few days after Chanel was gone, a horse trailer drove past, and the horse inside whinnied. Abraham came flying towards the trailer, braying his loudest, most urgent call. Then he CHASED THE TRAILER as far as the fence would allow.  Rachel and I saw this, and our eyes filled with tears.

So I did what I must. I got on line and began looking for a friend for Abraham. All the chickens have friends, as do the rabbits. The goats all have pals, the pigs and lambs do, too. It isn't fair that Abraham is all alone with no companion.  Here at FairWinds we don't like for anyone to be hungry, thirsty, or lonely.

I thought he might prefer a female. And a donkey that was similar in age to Abraham would be good. She'd have to be familiar and friendly with goats, and good for the vet and farrier. 

Currently, her name is Maggie. I'll be changing that. She is 17. Abraham is 15.  She lives in New Hampshire. Her donkey friend died in January, and she is lonesome.  So next week she is coming to be Abraham's friend.  Her owner will drive her half way here, and marvelous Marion will take me to meet her with her trailer.  Then we will bring her home.



I have read that it is important for donkeys to have a pal to live with, because they play differently than horses or even mules.  Abraham tries to play with the goats by chasing them and biting them. The goats are not amused by this.  I am expecting we will be entertained to see Abraham and his new sweetie playing... chasing, bucking, and then canoodling in the quiet hours.  I hope they will be very happy together.  We don't "do" lonely at FairWinds.

Monday, August 13, 2018

Farewell, Chanel...




She turned 30 in May. According to a chart I read, that is similar to a human being in their late 80's. Friday she began to limp. I gave her lots of pain medication and talked to my marvelous veterinarian. We made a plan.

Yesterday Rachel and Evans came to say goodbye. They brought a big bag of peppermints, and let her eat lots and lots of them. There was a lot of stroking and hugging, and inhaling her delicious, horsey, scent.

The vet came this morning. She explained to me what to expect. "Some horses do strange things, so be prepared. Some rear and kick." She gave Chanel a sedative, and I held her head, and kissed her a lot of times, and told her how beautiful she was, and that she was the best pony ever.  Her head became heavy in my arms. Then the doctor injected two huge vials of anesthetic and Chanel laid down, hard. I turned away as she dropped, but then stroked her face as her big heart stopped.  "Kind and careful to the end," the vet said.  It was a truthful eulogy.

The goats, lambs and donkey all came and examined her still form in the grass.  Abraham seemed to understand, and stood solemn guard for a time.

Chanel had been ours for 11 sweet years. I knew when I got her that we would be her final home, and planned to keep her until the day she died.  According to a friend of mine, many people send their old horses off to auction. I like to think Chanel had a nice retirement here with us.  She was an expensive pasture pet, tucking away hundreds of dollars of hay each winter, but I never begrudged her a bite.

We had some fine times.  She used to join us in the back yard when we'd have cocktail hour or cook supper out.
Sometimes she'd help herself to a sip of someones drink. Then she'd make such a FACE!


She was so good with all the other animals. Rachel's Pug would stand between her feet and bark at her for HOURS, and she acted like he wasn't there at all.  The adult goats would all run to her if something frightened them. The baby goats danced on her every chance they got. She seemed to like it.



We went trail riding at Acadia National Park,  and it was plain to see she enjoyed it. Her short little legs had to jog to keep up with the more elegant horses my friends rode, but she was as happy as could be.  Unusual obstacles like bridges or rivers didn't phase her, and people riding by on bicycles were calmly accepted. Babies in strollers were to be sniffed and examined, and then she would wait for the patting and admiration that was to follow.  She was unflappable. 


I think she loved me.  When she first came here, I'd try to kiss her velvet nose, and she'd jerk her head away and make a sound I learned meant, "Quit that!"  But after a while she not only tolerated my smooches but sometimes would walk right up to me and press her warm, sweet smelling nose up against my lips. She delighted in me scratching her chest, and would hook her neck around me, hugging me close while I rubbed her itchy places. She knew there were often treats in my pockets, and wasn't bashful about mugging me to try to find them.


We had some fun rides, the most memorable being the day we went to the beach. (Thank you, Liz!)


I don't think she'd ever been before, but she took the crashing waves in stride, and as we explored the shoreline she kept her head up, nostrils flared, taking in the sweet scents and strange new views.  When we were done I took her bridle and saddle off and led her back to the beach on a lead rope. She joyfully splashed in the water and rolled in the sand.

She was the fulfillment of many a youthful dream. A wonderful friend. A beautiful addition to our lives. I am so grateful to have had the privilege of loving her. Kind and careful till the end.



Friday, August 3, 2018

He cooks, and he KNOWS things...

Chris is the Information Technology guy at his work. He's good at what he does, and he likes his job. This spring, as they were planning their annual cookout, he offered to cook for the event.  They've had some unfortunate caterers in the past, and since he loves nothing more than to feed people, it seemed like a good plan.
I got to kiss the cook.



Yesterday he smoked 4 big pork shoulders, low and slow, all day long. The yard smelled amazing.  He pulled an enormous pan, heaped to the top, with moist, succulent, smokey meat.

 The party was to be held at a state park a little more than an hour from our house. We set off early to get things ready for when the co-workers and their families arrived.  There was a whole team of people there, setting up tables and games. A volley ball net was erected, bases put down for softball, there was corn hole, horse shoes, Frisbee's and more. People jumped right in to play.





 Chris provided the pulled pork, a big bowl of cole slaw, and he grilled hamburgers and hot dogs.  Other people brought salads, appetizers and desserts.  The weather threatened rain, but it held off till the very end.

There were several adorable babies.

 And a few cute dogs.

Rachel and Evans very nicely joined in to help. We were both so glad to have them. It meant a lot that they gave up their valuable time to assist.

It was a beautiful day, in so many ways, and Chris' cooking made it extra delicious. 




Saturday, July 21, 2018

Feast of summer...

Summer is fleeting here in Maine. It arrives late, then before we know it, folds into blazing autumn. We have learned to try to embrace the lovely days, because really, there are not enough of them to squander.

Rachel and I worked today. Chris ran errands, mowed the lawns, and then prepared us a summertime feast. There were his amazing steamed clams, (he has tweaked a recipe he found, and achieved perfection.) Here is how he makes them:
50 small clams, in shell, soaked
2 TBS olive oil
6 cloves of garlic
1 cup white table wine
2 TBS butter
juice of 1/2 lemon
1- 1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes.

Heat oil over medium  heat. Add garlic, saute for 1 minute, pour in white wine and add lemon and pepper flakes.  Add clams, steam until clams begin to open.  Add butter, cover, and cook until all the clams are open.


Rachel, Evans, Chris and I gathered at the picnic table. The weather was perfect.

Evans is a fan of clams. He appreciates Chris' recipe, as do we all.  Kindly note the tee shirt he has on.  A gift from me. It tickles me that he wears it. (It reads: I never dreamed I'd grow up to be a perfect freaking husband, but here I am, killing it.)

Next we had very fresh, local, corn.  There is nothing better.  Chris bought it from the farm stand, still warm from the field. The corn season is brief, and really fresh corn is better than almost anything. We have it every chance we get. I love it grilled, Chris loves it boiled. Either way, it embodies the flavor of the season.



And then, lobsters. This time of year they have soft shells, because they have recently molted. The shells are easy to crack, the meat tender and sweet. We dunk it in warm butter, then slurp it up. The meal is drippy and divine. We don't care because we are outside, wearing old clothes and the mess will be a breeze to clean up.

The setting sun slants its beams luxuriantly across the emerald trees and pasture. The dogs loll at our feet. Our old picnic table is laden with food. Music plays. Over butter and broth, shells and bread and sweet corn, memories are shared, jokes told, and laughter lifts and floats, mingling with bird song and the comforting murmurings of the livestock.


 We linger once the meal is done, savoring the last light. The animals, all fed and happy, head to their beds. Bats flit in the dusky sky, and biting insects drive us towards the house. We gather up the tray with the supper spoils and head inside, full and happy, glad to have shared a feast. We will remember evenings like this when blizzards rock the house, and be glad.



Sunday, July 15, 2018

Round and about...

I think our yard is looking particularly lovely this year. 


The gardens have an abundance of bright blooms. 


Including these delightful speckled petunias.

I have a variety of galvanized buckets stuffed with flowers, too. 

And some window boxes and hanging baskets decorate the cute coop.  

The bird feeding station and bath are very popular with the local avian crowd. I'm letting the volunteer sunflowers come up, because they will be so pretty. 

I love spending time in the yard this time of year. And the animals do, too.  Flirt, recovering from surgery to repair a troublesome hernia, is visited by Click (next to Flirt) and Clack, (with his lovely eyes) who plainly adore her. 


We are weaning Echo and Bliss, the goat kids Spirit gifted us with in March.  They are the grand daughters of Luna, my first and much loved goat, and will stay here with us.   We have moved them to the hen yard, where they have a little house to shelter them, a nice tent for shade, and two new lamb friends to keep them company. With SO many kids born this spring (11!) I did not spend enough time with them all, and these doelings were a bit wild.  Now that they are in a small space (and to be honest, a bit bored) they find visits from me to be fun and exciting. Especially when I bring a little grain.  They are becoming very tame and even a little cuddly. They delight me. I think goats are pretty, but I find Saanen's, (which is what these girls are) to be especially lovely. I just like looking at them. I'll be glad when I can move them back to the big pasture with the rest of the herd, but for now I am enjoying spending some special time with kids and adorable lambs. And treats. Lots of treats.


Thursday, July 12, 2018

What love looks like...

What does love look like?  A fathers big, strong, hands holding a newborn infant?  A grown daughter cradling her ancient, dying, mother?  Newlyweds kissing?  All of these things, I think. But it also looks like bacon.


Most mornings I get up early and fix a little breakfast for my husband before he goes to work.  Nothing fancy... scrambled eggs, some sausage, maybe. Or, bacon and an omelette. I pack him a sandwich for lunch while breakfast is cooking, then I head outside to take care of the animals and milk the goats.  I am generally not hungry for breakfast when I first wake up. I'm happy to cook it, but not interested in eating any of it.  Once the critters are cared for, the kitchen cleaned, the grooming studio ready for the days work, I might make myself a smoothie or something before I start work.

A few days ago I made Chris 4 small slices of bacon, and a couple fried eggs.  I called upstairs that breakfast was ready then headed outside.  An hour and a half later, when all the animals were fed, watered, milked, patted, admired and loved, I came back inside to clean up the kitchen. And I found this.  One of the wee slices of bacon I had cooked had been left there, for me.  And I realized, it might look like a sliver of fried pork to most people, but to me, it looked like love.

Love that I had gotten up and prepared for my sweetie before he went to work, and love that he had sacrificed eating something as delicious as fresh bacon to leave for me.  Yup.  A bit of tasty, crispy, love.  I enjoyed every bite.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

R E L I E F...

About a month ago my chest was hurting. I didn't think too much about it, until it lasted for a couple of weeks, and wasn't getting any better.  In fact, it was worse. And I was a little short of breath. And my sternum was numb and tingly. I felt tired all the time.   About that same time a sweet customer/friend had similar symptoms and ended up having a quadruple bypass. I began to feel very much in touch with my mortality. I was aware of my heart beating in my chest, something I normally pay very little attention to.

My father died from heart problems, as did his father.  So there was family history.  And I'm overweight and out of shape and pushing 60. Ever since my daughter was born (29 years ago) I have thought, "I just want to live long enough to see her grown and settled." She is grown and settled now, but suddenly I realized, I am NOT ready to be done with my very wonderful life. I don't want some other woman marrying my man, I don't want my animals to be homeless,  and I DO want to meet my grand-babies. So I called my doctor.

I very much dislike going to the doctor. I don't like how expensive it is, I don't like how they schedule a zillion tests, I don't like feeling like a sick person. And really, I was probably FINE. It was probably nothing.  But off I went. My doctor seemed concerned.  She sent me to the hospital for blood work and chest x'rays, an EKG and an echo-cardiogram. Meanwhile, I saw my chiropractor, and a few days after he worked his magic I began to feel better.  I still have an occasional ache in my chest, but mostly I feel fine.  No medical people called me with any news about the tests, but I had a scheduled follow up  appointment for this afternoon. I worried a little, wishing I knew the test results, but figured if they'd found anything awful someone would have called.  And since no one did, I chose to believe that no news was good news and kept marching forward, feeding animals, grooming dogs, cooking meals, living life.


I felt pretty good, so wasn't terribly worried when I went to see my doctor this afternoon.  And sure enough, all my blood work was great, my blood pressure terrific, my EKG, echo-cardiogram, and all the tests prove that I am doing just fine.  "So I am not dying?" I quipped.  My doctor gave me a hard look. "We are ALL dying," she said.  I pondered, then revised my question.  "I am not in imminent danger of keeling over from a heart attack?"  She nodded.

I feel quite relieved. There is so much to look forward to in the future, and it's a relief to know my heart is up to keeping me here to see the wonders unfold.