Monday, August 29, 2011

After Irene...

We weathered the storm with no damage. Fickle as storms are, it changed its track and beat Vermont up instead of frolicking along the Maine coast. We had some gusty winds and heavy rain... and today the world smells clean and fresh. It is the kind of weather that makes me want to clean house, so that is what I am about.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The calm before...

It is a typical morning, all is calm. The animals don't listen to the weather forecast and seem unaware that a hurricane is barreling towards us. One of the Partridge Rock's looks for bugs in the meadow. The ducks splash in their pool and the lambs graze calmly.
My friend Carol works at a farm. She gave me a flat of unwanted flower seedlings this spring. I put them in a huge pot by my gate and waited to see what would happen. Each bloom is a happy surprise of nature.

Today we will get ready for the coming storm... and see what surprises are next.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Trouble with turkeys OR Only in Maine...

This year I decided to try raising some turkeys. In June my daughter gifted me with 4 turkey poults, a few days old and totally adorable. I took excellent care of them, and they thrived. Once they got big enough they roamed the yard, eating bugs and being totally enchanting. Then, to my horror, they began to die. One by one they went to spirit.
I grieved. I did research and the indication was that the birds might have some sort of genetic disease. I bought 6 more turkeys... 5 weeks old and saucy. They were doing very well, until they weren't. In quick succession they died as well. I am heartsick.

This morning the second to last one was dead. I put it in a bag and called my veterinarian. I asked him if he would do a necropsy on a turkey. I really wanted to know what was killing these sweet, friendly birds. He said he would, but that he didn't know what to look for, and recommended that I call the state agricultural veterinarian. He gave me the number and I called him.To my amazement, he answered the phone. We had a nice chat. He asked me a lot of questions, but in the end he had no idea what was going wrong with my turkeys. But he told me that if I went to my local extension office they would give me a box and a pre-paid Fed-x packing label, then deliver the bird to the University of Maine college and do a diagnostic necropsy for free. I was to call the college first.

When I called the college, the woman who answered the phone told me that the veterinarian was going to be out of town and the bird would have to be delivered today. I was at work, it was not possible for me to leave and take the turkey on a two hour drive. But then it occurred to me! In the lobby sat a customer that lived in the same town that the college was in. Maybe she would be willing to deliver the turkey to the college? Did I dare ask her? Probably not. It was a socially awkward question, to say the least.

But, me being me, I asked anyway. I said, "I have a totally weird thing to ask you. Feel FREE to tell me no. Would you consider delivering a dead turkey to the U of Maine so they can find out what was wrong with him?" She never blinked. "SURE I would. How big is it?" I showed her with my hands, a fairly small bird. She looked contemplative. Then she asked, "How do you think my dog will do with the turkey in the car?" I said, "You can put it in the trunk." She replied, "But won't he be scared?" I said, "He is DEAD."

"DEAD? Oh sure, no problem."

It was here that I paused. This woman barely knows me, yet she was not only willing, but EAGER to help me by driving a dead bird in a bag to a college where she would have to find the right place and the right people to deliver the bird to. This, dear readers, was an example of someone going above and beyond. To me this is an example of how delightful people in Maine are. They are quiet, and a bit reserved, but in a pinch, they will help. Even if the request is bizarre.

I am having trouble with turkeys. But people? I love them.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Windshield time...

One of our favorite things to do when we have a sliver of time unspoken for is to go for a drive. We refer to this as "windshield time," and we explore places around our home that we have not yet seen. We chat sometimes, or share companionable silences. We hold hands and often treat ourselves to ice cream. I almost always bring my camera, because this area is studded with gems of beauty.
Yesterday our path took us to Friendship where we took some photos of a friend for her senior yearbook, then we meandered through Cushing. We stopped to photograph Canada geese grazing before a picturesque bay, and then at a little boggy spot by the side of the road where this Great Blue Heron was waiting for supper. Windshield time is fine.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Big changes...

For the last eight years I have woken up every morning and looked across the street at an old, rustic chicken barn. The barn was slowly folding into itself, and its loose sheet metal roof ratted musically in the wind. I loved it.

The land it sits on went up for sale a few weeks ago, a "sold" sign went up shortly after, and yesterday the barn was torn down while I was at work. This morning my senses were startled when I glanced out and saw the piles of rubble left behind. Steam rose off the dirt, and it made me sad to think I'd never again hear the roof sing in a storm.

I hope the people who bought the land will build an attractive home there. I hope we will become friendly when I take them home made bread. But mostly I am sad that the empty field won't be empty any more. I'm not very good at accepting change.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Home again and turkey on the table...

I spent the weekend at the All American Grooming show in Chicago. I hate to leave home, partly because it is where I am happiest, and partly because I hate to leave all the animal care to those-who-did-not-choose-to-have-this-many-mouths-to-feed, but I went and had a very nice time. I gave 4 lectures and they were well attended and reviewed. I made some new friends and visited with some I have not seen in too long. The only fly in the ointment was a sudden, unexpected and incredibly ouchie back. I think perhaps a pinched nerve. Everyone was very kind to me and I am feeling better, (I love my chiropractor!)

Today I keep making trips outside to sit quietly and watch the critters. The turkeys make me smile, and I have to think that most folks have something entirely different than this in mind when they say they are "going to put turkey on the table." Five of my six Broad Breasted White poults are napping here, the sixth is in a pile with some ducklings. I think it may be having an identity crisis.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

One of these things...

When my daughter was little I became intimately familiar with the TV show Sesame Street. There was a little thing they used to do where a puppet would sing, "One of these things is not like the others, one of these things is not the same." They would show, for example, a picture of 5 dogs and a kitten. The children watching were to pick out the one thing that was not the same as the others.

That bit came to mind tonight when I looked out and saw a mama duck with 9 ducklings. No. Wait. 8 ducklings. And a sleepy turkey poult.

Sometimes I think it is silly that I keep my camera on the table by the door. Other times I am so glad!

Monday, August 1, 2011


To go with the soup I posted about in the previous blog, I thought some focaccia would be nice. I love the whole process of making bread; messing with the yeast, kneading, watching the dough rise, (especially if there is a sunny window to speed things along!)

I have friends who wont turn on an oven if it is hot outside. My theory is that I am hot anyway, what is the difference? And tonight, when we sit down to soup made from herbs and vegetables harvested fresh from our garden, I'll be warmed in more ways than one!

Harvest du jour...

My friend gave me this very funky old egg basket. It is perfect for fetching the produce in from the garden.
I have never grown zucchini before. Of course I've heard how prolific this plant is, but it is a bit astonishing to see how many squash a plant produces, and how FAST. So today, (after gifting some to my favorite neighbor) I am going to grate up some of these and freeze them, and make a creamed zucchini soup I found a recipe for. Tomorrow night? STUFFED squash!

1 onion
Garlic to taste
2 lbs squash
Parmesan or blue cheese

Saute onion and garlic in some olive oil. Add chunked up squash, salt/pepper and oregano. Add water to cover squash and simmer until tender, covered. Uncover pot and allow some water to cook off. Puree mixture then return to pan and add cream to desired consistency. Stir in cheese and serve with crusty bread. (I am making focaccia!)

ADDED NOTE: I made the soup and it was BORING with a capital B. So I added salt, LOTS of fresh cracked black pepper, some cayenne and a bay leaf. It is now quite good!