Sunday, June 30, 2013

Delightful day off...

Because there is a holiday coming up, I only have one day off this week... (but I get 5 delicious days off during the 4th of July!) I vowed to cram a lot of "weekend" into today. And I did. I started the day by milking Luna goat and feeding the kids, taking care of the horse and chickens and duck and rabbit and dogs. I had my treasured weekly morning chat with my oldest sister, then made myself a smoothie. I create these with home made yogurt which I make from goat milk. I add local honey, vanilla, frozen fruit and OH! They are so good. Goat yogurt has a certain tang that cows milk yogurt lacks, and I just can't seem to get enough of it.

A walk through the gardens revealed that the Peonies were in full bloom. I made a big,blowsy bouquet and it has made me smile several times today.

I spent several hours cleaning... vacuuming, mopping, scrubbing bathrooms. Then my friend Carol came by and we hung out a bit, chatting happily. Shortly after she left I noticed that my while goat, Luna, had been rubbing herself on the smoker to scratch some itch. She was smeared with grease. I didn't know how it would go, but I filled a bucked with warm water and some lovely lavender shampoo, then I took a big sponge and scrubbed that goat from nose to toes. She LOVED the scrubbing part, she's been very itchy this spring. The cold water rinse was greeted with a less than enthusiastic response. Then I clipped a lead line to her collar and took her out of the pasture for a nice, long graze in some fresh places. This she loved. I then cast my eye at Chanel. She was dusty, itchy and plagued by biting flies. I put her halter on, tied her to the picnic table and gave her a nice bath,too. She loved it, every bit of it. I ran the sponge full of soap over her from her nose to her toes, and she stood very still and exuded happiness. I would have taken pictures but I was busy. Then I hosed her off, rinsing her mane and tail and back and legs and hips and chest. And she loved it. Then I took her out for a nice walk so she could graze new territory. While she grazed I brushed her. I brushed her mane and tail and back and belly. She was pleased by all the attention. When it was all said and done she was clean, with a fluffy mane and tail.

I cleaned the run in shed and put down fresh shavings. Normally in the summer I don't use shavings, just let the animals lay on the rubber mats. But to celebrate their cleanness I splurged.

The doelings are getting big. Tonight I let them into the garage, one at a time. They happily hopped up on the milking stand, and I fed them a mix of grain, alfalfa pellets and sunflower seeds. I trimmed their hooves for the very first time. I petted them all over their sturdy little bodies, especially where their udders will be when they grow up. They were un-phased. Celeste was a perfect angel, acting as if this had happened to her a million times. Novella struggled a bit, but I was able to get the trimming done. After that I clipped leashes to their collars and took them out for a walk. They did very well, and I think it will be no time until they are leash trained.

The meat chicks are getting... huge. They bop around their enclosure, take long dust baths, chase bugs, eat and eat and eat and rest. And poop. So much pooping with these birds. They seem quite happy.

I am happy, too. I had a wonderful day off at home, my favorite place to be.

Monday, June 24, 2013


As we have for the past several years, we are raising meat breed chickens to fill our freezer. They are several weeks old now, fully feathered out and quite large. Yesterday I noted that they were hot in the afternoon, and even though they had shade, some of them were panting and looking pathetic. When I woke up this morning it was already hot out, and the forecast was for more of the same. I decided to move the birds to a shadier spot during the coolest part of the day.

The chicks are housed in what is called a "chicken tractor." We made ours out of two, 16 foot long, 4 foot high wire panels. We created a long sort of tent structure, and covered part of it with a tarp to keep the rain away and offer shade. Since meat birds are messy, the tractor is moved to fresh ground once or twice a day. This keeps things neat and gives the birds new territory to explore. This year we invested in some wonderful electric mesh net designed for birds. We have a large area fenced in so the chickens can roam about, but stay safe from foxes or racoons, or even marauding goats who love to eat their food. It is not difficult to install and move, but it is a bit of a project.

So, freshly out of bed I hatched a plan. I would take the mesh fence down, rolling it neatly so I could move it and put it up in the new spot I had picked out. Then I would fill the food pan and walk slowly, with the chicks happily following me to their new territory. I would leave them there, eating breakfast, while I hauled the tractor across the field to where the birds would be. First I moved the goats and pony out of the pasture, and secured them away where they would not step on the birds or eat their food.

The first part of my plan went quite well. I took the netting down, and rolled it up nicely. The chicks were HUNGRY, and clamored around my feet. I next filled their feeder and began to slowly walk across the meadow. The birds followed, peeping and flapping their useless wings, their huge feet trompling down the dewy grass. Every few feet I'd stop, let them get a taste of food, then proceed in the direction I wanted them to go. This alarmed them and they all waddled back to their old pasture. So, I changed things up. I knew they felt comfortable with their nice, familiar tractor. So I decided to move it, a bit at a time, across the expanse of land. The birds would surely go along with the tractor. Now, keep in mind that this thing is rather awkward to move, especially across uneven terrain. But I gently hauled it a few feet, and waited for the birds to catch up. No such luck.

I got a glass of water and thought things through. Meanwhile, the goats, pony, and egg laying birds were wanting OUT of the small area I had them locked up in, and they were filling the air with complaints. I decided to just move the tractor where I wanted it, then try again to entice the birds with food. With no little effort I huffed and puffed and dragged the thing up under the pine trees near the pony shed. Next I filled their water pans with cool water, and put a pan of food inside the tractor to further entice them once I got them there. Ever so patiently I again attempted to lead them by showing them their regular food pan, then walking a bit, then letting them eat, then walking a bit. They were as unimpressed as they had been the first time, and flat refused to join me in a poultry parade. By this time I was hot, perspiring heavily, and thinking that most other people do not spend their days "off" in such a manner. Some people would be having a cup of tea on the porch and reading the paper. But I am not that sort of person, it seems, and I came up with yet another plan. I'd catch the birds,one or (hopefully) two at a time, and carry them to where I wanted them to be. There were a few problems to this plan.

1. The birds do not like to be picked up, held, or moved.
2. Though they are fat and awkward, they can and do skitter away at a sometimes faster pace than I can. Because I, too, am fat and awkward.
3. I had removed the fence, so the birds could range a good, long distance as they tried to keep out of my grip.
4. There are 21 birds. This means I had to catch, then schelp, back and forth,up to 21 times. Did I mention it was hot out?
5. The birds are kind of icky to hold.
6. I had loaned my chicken catching net to a friend just last night.
7. The birds stress out easily and are known to keel over if over excited.

But it was the only solution I was left with, so one by one I caught the birds, trying to cause them as little upset as possible, and carried their damp, hot, squawking bodies up to their new home. One they saw the food, water and tractor, they were happy as could be, and settled right in. Meanwhile, I was red faced and feeling quite frustrated with the entire endeavor.

About the time the last fat bird was ensconced in the shade, my sweet husband came out. His eyes got big when he looked at me; wild hair,beet colored cheeks, drenched in sweat and frosted in bird yuck. A few fluffy white feathers clung to my damp skin and tie dyed sundress. He sized the situation up and very kindly helped me move the electric netting to encircle the birds. Then he cooked me breakfast.

My daughter has me using a program on my iPhone that tracks calories ingested and energy spent on exercise. It is called Lose It and she and I can encourage each other to eat well and exercise while logging our information on the program. It is quite nifty. There are a lot of things I normally do listed under the exercise part of the application. Kayaking, walking, horse back riding, housework and gardening. No where was it listed how many calories I burned off spending 2.5 hours chasing chickens. I checked.


I never went kayaking once last summer. It was criminal. This weekend daughter Rachel was visiting and suggested we get the boats out and launch them. This meant we'd need to haul them out, clean them, (rid them of spiders and such!) dry them out (a neat trick) and get them loaded up in the truck. Quite a lot of trouble, really, but we forged ahead.

We went here, to one of our favorite spots, just minutes away from home. There was a woman with two big dogs tossing sticks into the water for them to fetch, but no one else was around. The day was warm but the breeze on the water cool and sweet. We paddled up a little river inlet and out to Round Pond. We saw turtles and lots of birds, including two Cormorants who let us approach the dead tree they were perched on quite closely before taking flight and circling the pond. There were no other people out on the pond, just us. The water was mirror calm and peacefulness and beauty surrounded us. On the way back we finally passed a few other folk out in kayaks. We beached our little boats and took a cool dip before heading back home. I think I will leave my kayak in the back of my truck and make up for last years lack of paddling by going twice as often this summer.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Around the place...

I took my camera out this evening after work. I had no idea what I would take pictures of, but soon found lots of things to point and shoot at. I was a bit amazed to find a 5 leaf clover! A first! I have let Flirt's hair grow out and styled it into an Asian inspired trim. She looks like a stuffed toy and I get a lot of compliments. The goats... tomorrow I will take the boys to my friend Marion's house for weaning. She has a lovely pasture all ready for them to romp in. I will miss them, but will also be happy to have fewer little faces here. Obama the rooster has a lot to crow about at dusk. That whole thing about roosters crowing just at dawn is a bill of goods. They crow all day long. Readers sometimes ask about Clara bunny. She is fine. Our routine is that she hops to greet me each morning when I go to do chores. I hand her a carrot or a pour out a little pile of cracked corn and sunflower seeds, and she has breakfast. The rest of the day she hops about, hanging with the poultry, nibbling on plants and lying in the sun. She is a happy rabbit. The broiler chicks are huge and funny. The Indian Runner ducks live with them are are growing in leaps and bounds. Their upright posture and quick movements make them fun to watch. Daughter Rachel groomed Dazzle today, she looks lovely. And those are some shots from around the place tonight.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Funny things...

My niece Aimee came to visit and she seemed quite enchanted by the goat kids. She spent a lot of time sitting in the meadow while they climbed on her, tasted her and snuggled. They liked her a lot, especially when she magically appeared with bottles full of warm milk. I love to hear people laugh, and Aimee filled my ears with happy sounds while she was here.
Aimee's little dog, Loodle, came too. She thought spending time at Fair Winds was like Christmas morning! She ran with the goats, splashed happily in the duck pool, rolled in... well, we won't mention what she rolled in. She found the goats milk bottles were quite a delicacy, too! Insert more laughter here.
Aimee's mom, (my pretty sister) Deb was recovering from a nasty case of food poisoning, but despite not feeling her perky best we all had a good time. And lobster. And then for dessert I made...
a sort of trifle. I layered torn up bits of angel food cake, vanilla pudding, fresh strawberries, and whipped cream. Layer after layer. It tasted like all the best parts of summer in one tastebud dancing creation. You should go make one. Right NOW!!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Did I mention...

Did I mention that our chicken hatched out some ducklings? Yes, you read it right. One of our hens went broody. That means her hormones kicked in and told her to lay a lot of eggs, then sit on them day and night until they hatched. I thought it might be fun to have some Indian Runner Ducks. My friends have some and they are delightful to watch as they potter about, looking for bugs. My friend kindly have me a few eggs, and I tucked those eggs under the broody hen. And she sat. Then a few of her friends went broody, too, and the eggs got spread around under the hens. I am not sure how they do it, but they manage to steal eggs and move them from one nest box to the next. All of this without the benefit of hands! At any rate, a couple of weeks ago I heard peeping when I checked on the birds, and now we have ducklings. Also, I bought electrified poultry netting to keep the meat birds safe. While the birds were still in the brooder, I gave the stuff a test drive by fencing off a very weedy, brushy area along the side of the road. I turned the goats out. They ate, and ate, and ate. And barely made a dent before I had to give the netting back over to the birds. But once those birds are gone I plan to set the netting up again and let the goats back at all those weeds. In my rich an active fantasy life they'll have the area looking like a manicured lawn in no time at all!

Sunday, June 9, 2013


"Psssst! Guess what? I know you think you are a pony, but I think you are..." "A sweet, slippery little mountain!" And a nice place to snuggle down for a shared nap! (Looking out my windows is such a treat sometimes.)

Friday, June 7, 2013

On dreams that come true...

11 years ago or so my patient husband and I were trying to decide if we were going to stay in Memphis where we were happily settled or pull up roots, leave our jobs and home and friends and move across the country to live in Maine. There was quite a lot of wavering as we made up our minds. One thing that kept my moving forward as we chased this dream was a little chant I'd repeat when the thought of moving seemed too big, too hard, too scary. I would tell myself, "You can have lobster any time you want!" This was silly I know, but it helped keep me packing boxes and moving forward, this sweet crustacean promise. Today my daughter surprised me by bringing lunch to work. It was a lobster taco from Home Kitchen. A friend told me two years ago that their lobster taco was the best food she had ever eaten, and I've been thinking of it ever since. It was such fun to try it, and, yes, it was indeed memorable. Then tonight our daughter spoiled us further by treating us to fresh lobster to cook at home. We had a lovely feast, and oh! it tasted like summer time. Add to this the fact that my husband surprised me yesterday by bringing me fried lobster for lunch, I would say that my long ago shellfish fantasy has really come true!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Passing it on...

Twenty years ago or so a treasured customer gave me a loaf of bread she had baked. She told me she was somewhat "famous" for her recipe. Once I tasted a tender slice I knew why her recipe was so popular. A little wheedling got me a cup of liquid starter and a neatly typed sheet explaining how a novice baker could create such wonder. That starter has been in my life ever since.It lives in the refrigerator in an ancient pottery crock that my sweet mother in law once kept bacon grease in. I named the starter "Seymour." It has been moved from three homes, and across country. I've made hundreds, maybe thousands of loaves of bread since then. I've shared the starter with a number of people, none of them kept it up. My daughter is a fan of the bread I bake. This weekend I gave her a lesson on kneading dough. She made three lovely loaves. They rose and we baked them and they were delicious. I have treasures that my daughter will one day inherit... the diamond ring her daddy gave me, which has been on my hand most every day since, some lovely antiques, a fat notebook full of tear sheets of articles I've written. And, if she wants it, a crock full of liquid gold. A fragrant bread starter that has a history with our family that is flavor filled.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Seeing double...

The twins are here! Brenda (from Mississippi) and Linda (from Florida.) They are delightful, glamorous and vivacious. I don't know about them but I am having a lot of fun. There is endless chatter, too much eating, and some fun sightseeing, too. Chris towers over his big sisters! The animals like them, and they seem to be entertained by them,as well! We are so lucky that they came to see our corner of the world.