Monday, May 26, 2014


One of the projects for yesterday was to begin to move the manure pile. My plan is to take wheelbarrows full of the stuff and bank around the base of the little animal shed, and also to haul it where we have recently whacked down an old hedge, mounding the manure over the stumps to help encourage them to decompose, while hiding them under a nice row of what will soon be good, grassy, dirt. It's going to be a project!

Part of the reason I wanted to tackle that particular job yesterday was because I wanted to be near the goats. Novella was due to kid on the 27th, but she was acting like things might go sooner. While the other goats were out grazing, she was hanging tight in the shed, calling out from time to time. I kept going in and petting her. Around 3:30 I noticed she was in serious labor and gathered up my supplies.

I plunked myself down in the deep bedding of the goat room, and she seemed to be glad of the company. After a while my visiting daughter and husband joined us. We all noticed how cozy the little goat room is. A slice of afternoon sun cut through the old glass window and the air smelled like hay.

Soon she began to push, and I wont lie, she wasn't happy. There were some pathetic sounds coming out of that poor little goat!

A bubble of amniotic sac emerged, and in it, a white hoof, then a second hoof. They were big, and attached to heavily boned legs. After some heroic pushes I could see a little nose. Then I broke the sac so the little kid could breath. I wrapped my fingers around those little legs and as Novella pushed I gently pulled a bit. With a rush the head and shoulders popped out, and Novella looked much relieved, and a little shocked. She rested a moment then pushed the rest of the kid out. A black and white buckling.

Eyes wide open, covered in goo, he breathed immediately and began looking for something, anything, to suck on. I pulled him up to the new mama's head and she began to clean him off, uttering little bleating sounds deep in her throat. He answered in a high, sweet voice. Since he was large I assumed that he might be a single kid, but I pushed up on Novella's belly and could clearly feel another hard little body there. Moments later we had a repeat of amniotic sac bulging out, little hooves and a nose. This kid was smaller and a much easier birth.

Another buckling, sturdy and strong, gasping for air and looking for lunch. Both kids were up and toddling in no time, their thick coats drying with the help of the sun, some towels and their good mamas devoted licks.

We brought a quart of goat electrolytes in cool water out for the mama, and after a quizzical taste she drank down almost every drop. Then she had a little snack while her kids figured out how to access the milk bar. Once everyone was full the little family settled down cozily, muttering small noises to each other in a pleasant conversational tone.

I am filled with gratitude for the healthy new lives on our little farm, and happily anticipate the antics that are soon to come as the kids grow sturdy enough to frolic and play in the spring meadow.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Goat show...

My friend and goat mentor was exhibiting some of her animals at a goat show today. It was a pretty day and fun to see the lovely goats parading about. We saw Saanens, Oberhasli, Lamancha's, Nubians, Nigerian Dwarf's and Alpines. There may have been more... I lost track. There were men, women and a bunch of totally adorable children caring for and exhibiting their goats.

I liked walking through the barns, looking at the immaculate pens with sweet animals in them.

And there were udders... big, full, bulging udders.

We all thought this buck was quite handsome... and the buck thought my husband was a looker,too. I think my husband had beard envy.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Spring beginnings, (and a small poultry addiction...)

All at once the leaves have started to unfurl, and the greening of the world around me has intensified. We had big rain yesterday, and today the sun is out, conditions that further the happy march of spring.

The view when I step out to do chores in the morning is lovely no matter the season... but I do like it cloaked in shades of green.

Novella is due to kid in about 9 days. I can hardly wait!

The daffodils and tulips are making a grand show of themselves this year, filling the bed that was brown just a short time ago with glorious color.

And now about that poultry addiction...

The 25 Roaster chicks are growing nicely. This is my favorite batch of meat birds we've had, they actually have a wee bit of sense and a tiny spark of personality.

Then there are the "regulars."

My laying flock, and the amusing runner ducks.

Last fall my friend Marion pawned a hard luck Silky Chicken off on me. I have always thought Silkie's were cute, but never desired to have any of my own. They are tiny, and not known for being very productive egg layers. This little hen had lost all her flock-mates to predators, and was lonely, so I agreed to take her in. She settled in with our flock fairly well, no one picked on her, but she didn't seem to have any real hen friends. I toyed with the idea of getting her a Silky pal, but then never followed through.

On Monday I was gardening, and my neighbor called and said, "I'm going to look at some chicks nearby, would you like to go for a ride?" Of course I did! My friend picked out some nice little pullets, and on our way back to the car I spotted a very cute little Silky rooster strutting around. I told the people selling the chickens about my rescued hen. Before I could avert my eyes, the woman flung open the door to the shed we were standing in front of, and said, "Oh, you should get your bird a FRIEND!" There inside the shed was a cage with three incredibly cute Silky chicks. Unbidden the words "Oh, I'll take one," flew out of my mouth. The woman said, "I'd like them to go together," and as if by magic the words, "OK, I'll take them all," spurted from my lips. I handed over some cash and brought a box full of ridiculous looking fluff home.

There are two little pullets and one rooster, and they crack me up every time I look at them. They are acclimating to the place nicely, and I do hope they will become friends with Feather. So far she has squabbled with them a bit, which looks a lot like powder puffs engaging in battle. It's quite entertaining!

Spring is here, filled with birdsong and budding beauty... and a lot of poultry.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mothers Day...

When I woke up this morning at 5:45 my first thought was, "It's Saturday, I have to go to work..." Then I remembered that it was actually Sunday, a day off, and not only that but it was Mother's Day, and my daughter was home. I knew I'd be pampered and petted and spoiled by my family all day. Fun was ahead! And it was warm out... I could feel the soft breeze coming in the wide flung windows, and the sun was coming up to create a blue sky. I stayed in bed a bit longer than usual, just feeling blissful. And thinking... about how lucky I am, and about my own precious mother, who brought me here to love this life.

A few thoughts about the woman that made me; my mother loved to read. She was a frequent visitor at our small town library, and could often be found sitting reading the Encyclopedia Britannica. I wonder what she would have thought of the world of information at the fingertips of today's Internet users? I think she would have relished the ability to have so much knowledge so readily available. She also loved children... especially very young children. In this photo she is holding my wee baby daughter, just weeks old. I loved to see her with her grand children, hearts shooting out of her eyes as she gazed upon their sweet faces.

Some of my personal happiest memories are of her snuggling me at nap time,engaged in a book, (often a hard copy Readers Digest,) or reading to me one of my favorite books about animals. And I so remember her cooking me my very most favorite suppers,(lamb chops, baked chicken, spaghetti!) and sitting outside at dusk, looking at the silhouettes of the outlines of trees and calling out what we saw, "An elephant!" "A whale!" "A duck and ducklings!" When I walk through fall leaves I can feel her, holding my hand firmly, and kicking up the leaves. She would say, "Crunch, crunch, crunch, Billy Goats out to Lunch!" as our feet made a happy crackling sound in the piles of old foliage.

I also remember when she would go on a decorating spree at home. She would take on a project, say, redoing a bedroom. There would be scrubbing and painting and the moving about of any and all stationary objects. She would gleefully, "Rob Peter to pay Paul," moving furniture, paintings, lamps and nick knacks from one room to another, creating a fresh new space. My sister Deb and I strongly inherited this trait, and take enormous glee from tackling a project and freshening up some area in the same manner our mama did. We can very much feel her presence with us as we schlep furniture and clean and plot to make things just right in the area we are working on. It is about as much fun as we can have, and I believe it is a gift our mama left us.

She had a rich laugh, a deep capacity for love, a flair for fashion. And like every other human I've ever known, she had her flaws. Those flaws have faded from my memory with the passage of time. What I do remember is the love she gave, her beauty, and her innate kindness. I was lucky to have her for a mother.

And now I am the mother, and my daughter bent over backwards to honor me on Mother's Day. She started off with treating me to a pedicure after work on Saturday. We chatted happily while being pampered. Then we had a wonderful supper at the picnic table in our yard. Chris cooked lobsters, but Rachel treated me to a HUGE lobster, double the size of the average one.

It was beyond delicious!

Chris had the picnic table readied when we got home. He had music playing, and the cooler set up with ice and cold drinks. It had been rainy all day, but the sun came out as we readied to feast.

Bonus points! He had arranged a burn permit, and lit the huge brush pile I've been collecting since last year on fire. We were able to monitor the fire while we feasted, and then we moved out to the field to sit around it watching the flames dance as the evening gathered around us. Conversation flowed and the pile burned brightly. And HOTLY! It kept the ravenous black flies at bay.

Friend, also known as "other daughter" Megan came for the evening as well. She brought me a funny card and a surprise present, a beautiful hanging plant. I smile every time I look at it.

The fun continued on Sunday... lunch out, some poking around at antique shops, and a trip to the nursery to buy a box bursting with plants to put into the very funky galvanized tub Rachel gave me. She helped me plant my treasures before she headed back to Massachusetts.

I ended the day as I had begun it. Quietly contemplating how lucky I am, and feeling loved. It was a perfect weekend.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


I've been setting myself into a bad place. I look at challenging projects and think, "I'll have Chris help me with that." or worse, "I can hire someone to do that." Projects like digging up a shrub I want taken away, or moving a very heavy object. Chris has his own things to do, and putting things off is just not working. So today, after work, I wanted to overhaul my herb garden. This meant hoeing out weeds, digging up huge plants that need to be replaced, raking the bed, hauling the refuse off, and digging out the heavy granite base and top of a bird bath, also moving some giant, heavy rocks and a pile of bricks.

My mindset of, "I'm not strong enough." Or worse, "I'm too OLD," is damaging. It limits me. So today I chucked those thoughts to the wind. I strapped on my work boots and pulled on some good garden gloves. I dug out things with huge root balls, I moved heavy, heavy stone objects, I raked and hoed and hauled and shoveled and swept and dug. How can I be strong if I abdicate jobs like these to others? When I was done the garden bed was perfect... and I felt like a Viking warrior. A sore, tired, Viking warrior. I grilled a couple steaks and grinned like a fool.

I'll tackle something else difficult tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Messages from the past...

Our contractor found two interesting things in the walls of the old porch.

The price of roosters has not changed much in the many years since that sign slipped between the cracks!

We know our house was built in 1907, and it had an open porch. Sometime later someone enclosed the porch, and I often wondered when. I believe my question has been answered by this:

I am told this type of porch is called a "Farmers Porch." It has wonderful old columns to hold the roof up, and is pitched so rain would run off the front. There is something about this space that speaks to my soul. I am happy when I am there, looking out at Appleton ridge in the distance, glimpsing Sennebec Pond when the leaves are off the trees, and the meadow across the street and yard around me.

Now that it is stripped down to its essence, I still find the space charming and welcoming. I can hardly wait to see how it will look when it is all done. I think I'll hide a message in the wall for someone to find in 100 years or so.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Spring afternoon...

It was a busy day. Contractors in the house making lots of noise and asking so many questions. I made a zillion decisions before noon. AND cleaned the house.
Then I wrote an article that was due. By 3:30 my body and mind were weary. I needed to recharge my batteries, so I grabbed my camera, my Cur and my bummer lamb and headed to the pasture.

I plunked myself down in the grass. The lamb is behind the curve learning to graze. I thought if I sat in the grass she'd nibble some, because she nibbles everything. It sort of worked, but she also nibbled me and my camera and the dog and some sticks and a rock and the pipe from the well.

The sun was getting low in the sky. The goats came to visit me. Luna goat pressed her face against mine, and breathed in, deeply. I scratched her chest and side and neck and belly. I wished I could take a picture of how cute she was but there was no way to do that with my 35 mm camera. Then I remembered I could take a 'selfie' with my cell phone. Celeste photo bombed... that is her dark head peering in between the love Luna and I were sharing.

The light was lovely... and my vantage point let me see things at a different from usual angle.

The chickens investigated...

The meat chicks are getting huge. And those FEET!

Novella is due to have kids on the 27th. She is WIDE. And as you can see in this funny picture of her scratching her chin, she is building a wee little udder. I can hardly wait to see her new babies.

Ziva loves the vernal pool that we have in the meadow, and zooms through it fast and often. Then she smells like swamp. But the joy she exhibits helps me ignore her muddy little body.

An hour sitting in the grass, feeling the sun and wind and watching the animals made me feel... blessed. I am the luckiest girl in the world.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Baby things...

It's been 25 years since I had a baby, yet I have baby wipes and diapers gracing my home. You might wonder why. Well. I'll tell you!

The baby wipes are used daily to wipe the goats udder off before I milk her. The wipes are gentle and soft, and effectively clean the udder so that the milk stays clean and sweet.

And those diapers? Well... they are an experiment.

The little lamb? She is not so house broken. She tends to pee often, in large quantities, and with no warning. So I am seeing if she'll tolerate a diaper for when she is inside. She's growing fast and is sweet as can be, but the constant puddles are getting me down!

So, that is why there are baby things on the kitchen counter. Not exactly the uses they were intended for, but they do the trick!