Saturday, November 30, 2013

Of preparation and feasting...

On Thanksgiving my family always comes here to Fair Winds farm for the feast. It is by far the "biggest" holiday of the year for me, as Christmas tends to be just the three of us here alone. So for weeks before Thanksgiving I am in preparation mode. I wash curtains and slip covers, I polish silver and wash china dishes and bowls and platters. I clean things that I normally ignore. I plot and plan and decorate. My husband helps with big projects, too, and our focused energy gets a lot of things done that we tend to put off. More to be thankful for!

With a little luck everything comes together and on the day before Thanksgiving I am able to spend the day arranging flowers and cooking and happily checking things off my "to do" list.

When the big day arrives I love to look around and see everything in order. The pantry full, dishes laden with delicious food covered and ready to be heated up and served. I get up early, as always, and take care of the animals, then pop the turkey in the oven and tend to all the little details of putting the meal together. Soon enough people begin to arrive, and the driveway is filled with cars. There are warm greetings and hugs, and pile of coats begins to mound up by the door. Sometime after that is when the magic happens for me. I stop and listen... and hear the walls of this old house echoing with happy voices and laughter. This year there seemed to be extra laughs, and it filled me with great joy to hear it. This is the moment that makes the cleaning and shining and cooking so worth it. It is the sound of love all around me.

I have lots of help in the kitchen, and everyone brings something to share for the meal. This year niece Aimee made me beautiful napkins, adding different patterns of stitching on each one. They were the frosting on the cake of our pretty table!

We have two turkeys most years, I roast one and Chris smokes one. His comes out the most amazing shade of mahogany!

When the feast is over some people go for a walk, some drape themselves about and some even nap, but through it all there is still happy chatter, and soon they rouse themselves to check out the dessert table.

Some guests spend the night, and others disperse to go home, still more go to local hotels. In the morning most come back to heap a plate with left overs. Some of us entertain ourselves by decorating ginger bread structures.

And then the holiday is over and we are left with turkey for days and a pile of happy memories. Much to be thankful for, indeed.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Decorating with dead stuff... (and invisible cracks.)

The top of the armoire where our television set and stereo equipment live begs to be decorated with the seasons. Since I am fickle and change the mood of the thing often, I don't like to spend much, (or any!) money on the effort.

So, as Thanksgiving and a whole lot of company approach, I enlisted my pal Megan to help. I propped her up on a ladder, handed her a bunch of dried flowers that were gifted to me, a few bundles of dried wheat, an old cornucopia basket, some battery operated remote control candles, (love those suckers!) and about 5 seconds later she created this rather lovely tableau.

Funny, I don't notice the cracks in the ceiling during my daily existence. That is probably a good character trait. I do notice how pretty the old dead things look.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The moon is just shy of being full. This evening it rose large and with slow magnificence. I didn't have a tripod handy so the images are a bit blurry, but you can catch a glimpse of the beauty I witnessed in the cold air on our deck.

Did you know the full moon each month has its own name? The November full moon is known as the "Frosty Moon," or, more commonly, "The full beaver moon."

The Farmers Almanac says, "Full Moon names date back to Native Americans, of what is now the northern and eastern United States. The tribes kept track of the seasons by giving distinctive names to each recurring full Moon. Their names were applied to the entire month in which each occurred. There was some variation in the Moon names, but in general, the same ones were current throughout the Algonquin tribes from New England to Lake Superior. European settlers followed that custom and created some of their own names. Since the lunar month is only 29 days long on the average, the full Moon dates shift from year to year."

Later tonight when I make last rounds to check on the animals, I won't need my flash light. I'll take a moment to gaze in wonder at the night sky, the bowl of stars as far as my eye can see, and that wondrous moon. Perhaps I'll hear a owl call. That would be the frosting on the cake of this day.

Monday, November 11, 2013

The goat room...

Chris and our friend Fred worked diligently to create a cozy space for the goats. It is nearly done, we only need to put up a few trim pieces.

Here is the view of what used to be the back of the shed, and is now the lovely face of the goat room.

Wood has been added to the front of the shed as a wind block. The top area will have a sheet of clear fiberglass to let light in.

We put a rope across the doorway, so the goats can trip in and out, but the horse cannot enter the goat area. This means the goats food will be out of reach of the ever hungry pony!

So now the goats have a wonderful, safe space, and I am so grateful for this. We may get our first snow tonight, and if we do I will rest well knowing the hooved members of the family have sturdy shelter.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

November time...

I know people who dread November. Most of the lovely fall colors have gone, and tree branches are barren against the cold sky. There tends to be more gray days than blue.

But then there are these vivid skies at dusk and dawn, that somehow seem richer than they do at other times.

Here in Maine the sun sets very early, and this makes for long, cozy evenings. We often have friends over to enjoy a meal. I met Megan 11 years ago when we first moved to Maine. She was a teen age bather at Yankee Clipper. I got to watch her grow up, go to college, move to another country, start and run a successful grooming business. Now she is back for a visit before she starts a new chapter and we have been able to spend some lovely time together. Here she and Chris are making Cajun Shrimp Scampi. It was delicious!

There is a stillness to this month that I enjoy, time to slow down a bit and reflect on the gifts that decorate our lives.

Every Sunday morning while I do chores I talk to my oldest sister on the phone. We chat about the week past, and plans for the week ahead. Today as we wrapped up our call she said, "I love you, Daryl, and I am glad that my sisters are my best friends." Those words are something to treasure and be thankful for indeed.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


Don't tell the other kids but Luna is my favorite goat. She was my first,and came from a less than optimum situation. It gave me great joy to get to know her, and to help her become sleek and healthy. To my great surprise she would seek me out when I was in the pasture, and lean against me, nuzzle me, get to know me. The more I got to know her the more I found myself falling in love with her sweet and gentle spirit. I had no idea I would ever love a goat, but I do.

Yesterday I found her behaving oddly. She didn't want to eat, and was pressing her head against the walls of the shed. She was trembling. I took her temperature and it was on the low end of normal. Her stomach was not making its normal gurgling sounds and she was not chewing her cud. Her milk production was way down. I put a coat on her, mixed her up a big bowl of warm water with molasses and began to fret. I called my wonderful goat mentor friend and she began to fret with me. Then she hooked me up with a special Facebook page catering to holistic goat care. I filled out a form with lots of information about my goat and got much input as to what I should do to help my sweet Luna. After a restless night I was up well before dawn to check on her. She was shivery and pathetic. I got her up and walked her round and round the pasture to try to warm her up. It was 19 degrees outside. She refused breakfast, but did drink more warm water with molasses. It was so hard to leave to go to work, knowing she was here, and sick, without me.

A friend called mid-day and asked if I would like her to go by and check on the goat. What a gift! The even better gift? She called once she got here and said that Luna was up and chewing her cud. That meant that she was ruminating. Rumination is the process that goats go through to digest their food. I wanted to do a happy dance.

Another friend called a few hours later. She had stopped by on her way home from work and reported that Luna was looking bright and ... (yay!) chewing her cud. I could hardly wait to get home and see for myself. (I have the best friends in the universe.)

Sure enough, I arrived home to find her lying comfortably, bright eyed, not trembling. She drank well and ate a bit.Her temperature was on the higher end of normal. After hours of worry, I was washed with relief. Keeping goats is tricky, I am learning. Most veterinarians know little about their care. If I had taken all the advice I heard I would have: given her vitamin B injections, selenium injections, oral
pro-biotics, cayenne pepper,an oral "drench" full of calcium and wormed her for a variety of parasites. That seemed like a lot to pile on to an animal that was already feeling so poorly.

My animals bring me a lot of joy. But they also bring me a lot of worry. I am so glad that Luna is feeling better. I plan to sleep well tonight.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Goat Grotto...

Chris and Fred got the new goat digs almost completely framed in yesterday. I think there are just a few roof supports to be cut and installed, then the siding goes on and the metal roofing gets screwed in. The goats have explored it quite thoroughly. I am delighted by the thing, especially the wonderful window!

I had the day off today and spent most of the morning doing errands. Chris called me and said, "Make a few phone calls today, if you can, and see if we can get some gravel delivered before we put the siding up. The gravel will go inside the foundation and form a nice, solid floor for the girls, with good drainage. We will lay heavy rubber stall mats on top of the gravel once it is smooth, and this will make for an excellent, easy to clean space. I called the local man who delivered gravel for me last year when we built the shed. Not only did he remember me, but where I lived and which gate he should come to. "Is there any way I could get gravel this week?" I asked. "Let me check. I'll call you back." He called in 10 minutes. "I'll be there at 3:30." What service!

The doelings are quite excited about the new "mountain" that appeared. Now I just need to get it all moved and smoothed.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A happy day...

It is a happy day today for several reasons. First, it is a day off, and that is always a fine thing. Secondly, it was supposed to be cold and rainy, or maybe even snowy, but instead there is blue sky. Thirdly...

my friend brought me flowers and they make me smile.
But BEST of all...

My fabulous husband and talented neighbor are making an addition on the shed for the goats. The shed was tight quarters last winter for two goats and a horse, and this year I have three goats. The new addition will allow the goats to have their own space, and I can feed them where the horse will not have access to their food, a huge bonus! Plus it will be extra cozy for them and out of the wind. Fred, (our neighbor) donated a marvelous antique window so the goaty girls will even have a view!

Meanwhile these characters have been confined to the hen yard because they have to investigate every move Chris and Fred make... including sticking their nosy noses into the saw blades and knocking tools asunder.

I can hardly wait to see the finished goat palace. I know the girls will love it, too.