Friday, June 29, 2012

Just sitting...

It has been a very busy week, and I have not touched my camera in days. When I got home from work today the weather was perfect... the sun was warm but there was a lovely breeze that kept any bugs away and just felt good. I took a few minutes and just sat. Then it occurred to me that I should probably cook some supper, so I went inside and threw a quiche together, (fresh goat milk and fresh eggs, so nice!)
Once the quiche was in the oven I took my camera and a muck bucket and went out into the meadow. I plunked the bucket upside down and sat... the grass undulated in the breeze, and all the animals arranged themselves near me. The world was quiet except for the sound of the wind, bird songs and the quiet sounds of contented livestock.
I fed the piglets. It is great fun to watch them eat, they enjoy food so very much. After they were full they played... spinning, running, flopping on the ground to roll around, rooting in the dirt. They are the picture of contentment.
I find that having time to be still and in the presence of nature and my animals brings me peace and deep joy. And laughter! While I was sitting on my bucket the horse came up and pressed her big face along my spine. The buckling nibbled on my tee shirt, and the pigs made me smile with their antics.
My batteries recharged,I headed back up to the house and shared a quiet supper with my husband. I will call this day well done, and my favorite moments were spent just sitting.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sunday morning...

Sister Deb visited this weekend. I worked so we didn't have much time together, but it was so good to have her here. We cooked lobsters in the back yard and had an "eat in the rough" meal on the picnic table. We tossed the shells to the chickens and they picked off any fragments of meat we had missed. It was funny to watch them grab up a bit of shell and run fill tilt across the lawn, trying to keep their treasure away from the other chickens. We had a raucous storm last night, but today dawned crisp, clear and perfect. Chris whipped up some blueberry pancakes with goat milk (which we have decided makes the BEST pancakes!) and we had a happy breakfast together. Now Deb has headed home and we are planning how to make the most of our two days off together. I am hoping to take the kayak out for the first trip of the season... and maybe ride the pony, too.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Things to do...

There were certainly a lot of things to do today. The porch needs to be cleaned and readied for summer enjoyment. There are a few small fence projects still to complete, and I want to tackle making a "twig" gate. The new shed needs to be stained, the deck needs a good power washing and a fresh coat of paint. The lawns need mowing and the gardens need weeding, plus a bit more planting is left to be done. But it is Fathers day! And this guy has been such a marvelous father to our daughter... he deserved to not mow or stain or weed or fence. So instead we went out to our favorite little local haunt for breakfast. Then we popped into a couple of stores he wanted to go to, and I nabbed him a nice Ryobi tool assortment for a gift. And then we went for a drive. He found a route that took us from Augusta to Brunswick, all along the banks of the Kennebec River. Small towns and rolling farm country unfolded before us, scenic vistas delighted us, and we got to spend quiet time together. We stopped for lunch at the Sea Dog brewery, and ate on the deck looking at this view. Not too shabby! And then we meandered home. I spent a couple happy hours puttering around and watching my animals. The day was quite non productive all told, but I am relaxed and happy and I am pretty sure my sweetie is, too.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Taco the buckling and Yum Yum the girl piglet visited a bit over the fence. Chanel does not like the pigs. She stares at them, hard; snorts and stamps and is in general not happy to have them around. Luna the goat gets on high alert when she sees the piglets, too. Then she goes back to grazing. She looks so much better than she did when she arrived in April. Back then she was skin and bones, with a rough coat and dull look about her. Now she is sleek and a bit chubby, as well as alert and active. The Freedom Ranger roosters are just bad. They are crowing loudly at 4 AM, fight with each other, get under my feet when I am trying to feed them,(then scream in outrage if I step on their big feet!)and are rough on the hens. I can't say I'll be sorry to see them go to freezer camp.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The dogs love the big overstuffed chair. I keep a throw on it... which, as you can see, they rearrange to suit themselves. They just look cute and I wanted to share. Chris and I went for a drive today (and bought a bunch of critter food while we were at it!) We saw this pretty horse and wagon coming towards us, with three young girls in pastel dresses and bonnets. I had my camera in my lap and was able to capture this sweet image. I wonder what it would be like to live that way? The piglets are enjoying their new space. They were very, very clean this morning, after running through the deep, dew covered grass. I can't quite get over how cute they are bopping about through the wildflowers, napping in the boggy area during the heat of day, and snuggled up in the clean hay inside their hutch at dusk. These little guys are growing on me. Meanwhile... I find myself moving a lot of manure. I am taking it from the pony paddock and moving it to the hen yard where the dirt is hard and grows not much more than thistles. I am also creating a manure pile near the garden... next year we will have an endless supply of aged manure to enhance the vegetable and flower beds. And... the black flies are fierce! I have roughly 100 bites on my head, neck and arms. They love me. I hate them. I have smooshed a lot of them. It gives me a small pleasure to know that they merely annoy me. I KILL them.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Porcupine Sunday...

I love my husbands hands. I especially love them when he is doing something wonderful like putting new tires on my wheelbarrow. Proof that I probably need years of psychotherapy, I woke this morning and was immediately delighted to think, "I can shovel manure today!" Before I could partake in the joy of manure shoveling, we had to run a few errands and take our trash to the transfer station. On the way home, right near our house, we saw a juvenile porcupine cross the road. I grabbed my trusty camera and chased him into the woods. I got one photo before he climbed a huge pine tree and vanished into the canopy. Today was one of those days that the weather was so absolutely perfect I wished I could clone it. The sort of day that we Mainer's put up with a lot of not so perfect days for. Sunny, breezy, low humidity, mid 70's temperature range. I spent every possible second outside. And the iris are blooming. The apple tree is putting out tiny little fruit... I had to look close to even see the wee apples forming. And I wanted to tell you about something I find fascinating- the way the animals here on the farm interact. There are the "obvious" relationships; the dogs all hang out together, but that is not so odd, as dogs are pack animals and it is expected that they relate to one another. But then there are more unique pairings. I have found that the chickens, (birds often characterized as being stupid) have definite preferences for which birds they hang out with, sleep next to, partake of dust baths with and even hunt with. And the inter-species relationships are intriguing. The rabbit hangs out with the chickens all day, but likes to sleep near the ducks at night. The pony not only seems to like the goats, but lets the buckling chew on her mane and tail, weave around under her legs as she walks, steal her food and jump all over her. Last weekend we added two tiny pigs to the farm. Since they were so small, we made a temporary pen for them in the poultry yard. Yesterday I found Belle, the Muscovy duck in the pigs area. I thought perhaps she had gotten in there by mistake and was having trouble getting out,so I tried to help her leave. She was not interested in leaving, and spent the night in the little temporary pig house, snuggled in between the piglets. This morning she left the pen, but after she had breakfast she went right back in and spent the entire day with her new pals. I tell people that we have a rule here that everyone must get along. For the most part, everyone does. And it is a wonder to me to watch the animals work out the intricate relationships that they do.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Fun with livestock...

Sunday found us on the road to buy piglets. We found the farm in a heavy downpour, and slogged through ankle deep water and mud to a surprisingly clean "hut" full of baby pigs. Many were spoken for, denoted by red stripes on their backs. We chose two without stripes, one a female with a deformed ear and a very dog-like personality. She was climbing on us, insistent to come live at Fairwinds Farm. She's a screamer, though, ear splittingly protesting being picked up. The other is a boy, rather unremarkable but seemingly sweet. The mother in the adjoining pen was outraged by the commotion. I was glad she was behind a wall of hot wire, she was one intimidating looking sow, and I dare say bigger than I am. We brought them home in a veritable monsoon, and got them settled in a little covered enclosure. They seemed pretty copacetic about this but by this morning they were restless, trying to get out. Chris kindly fenced off a small area in the hen yard as a "starter pen." It has a small building stuffed full of hay for them to snuggle in, and room to root in the dirt and graze the tall grass. They seemed quite pleased by this, and were happily exploring the space until something startled them. Then they blasted through the hot wire and in seconds were out racing in the big field. Chanel, the horse, had taken an almost instantaneous dislike to the piglets, and the thought of baby piggies racing towards her made me very worried for their safety. I grabbed her up and got her halter on, while my husband and daughter miraculously got the pigs corralled back into the hen yard. Several hours of remedial fencing in a very cold rain followed. We finally got them settled and as I type this they are tired piggies full of dinner and sleeping in a pile of clean hay. Oh please, let them stay in! I will post another photo of this little pig space in a day or two. It will be totally tilled up, you will be amazed. Earlier in the day my friend Jane came over and trimmed the horses feet. Chanel stood stock still, a very good girl, while her hooves were trimmed and filed. To end the afternoon we washed, wrapped and froze 10 of the chickens we raised and had processed on Friday. They have been chilling on ice in a huge cooler, and now will provide some wonderful meals in the coming weeks. So, THAT day off was pretty much consumed by critters. I did get a few hours of writing in, but not much else accomplished. And tomorrow, back to work! It is a good thing that house work is patient.