Saturday, May 30, 2015

Attention to detail...

Yesterday I clipped a rabbit that had been taken in by a local rescue organization. He was quite badly matted, but was an exceptionally good sport about having me strip his coat off. I saved the fur in a bag, because I know a few people who spin and want to check to see if anyone wants it before I toss it.

Ziva finds the bag to be incredibly fascinating. It must smell marvelous to her.

She stands over the bag and inhales, audibly.

She smells up close. She smells from far away. Her eyes glaze over and she begins to tremble a bit.

She paws at it. This sends a gust of (presumably) intoxicating smelling air out of the bag.

She tires from standing and sniffing.

So she lies down and guards the bag, a treasure trove of scent-sory riches.

My dogs teach me many things. One is to appreciate the details. The scent, sound, sight and feel of my surroundings. If a bag full of bunny hair can make my dog so very happy, the riches in my own life should certainly be appreciated as well.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Little mystery solved...

Because I don't have a "proper" barn, I keep food and hay for the livestock in the garage. Stacks of hay line one wall, cans of grain another. The milk bench for the goats is next to the hay. This morning, after I completed milking the does, something caught my eye.

It was a bit of poo. On top of a hay bale. Fresh poo, from an unknown origin. It didn't look like rodent feces. It was about the size of a quarter, and looked somewhat familiar. During my busy day I thought back from time to time, trying to drag from the dusty recesses of my memory just what kind of excrement was decorating my hay bale. My memory refused to bring forth the answer, however.

Tonight, when I was milking the ladies...

... my daughter came out to chat with me. As I finished, and stood up, I remembered the odd bit of poo and pointed it out to my daughter. And then I saw something in the hay, about a foot from the object in question. And the mystery was solved.

The curve of its body, partially buried in the hay gave it away.

A lovely garter snake, about 14 inches long. She was not overly impressed with our attention, and vanished into a dark crevice. I hope she will stay around, dispatching mice and classing up the place with her sleek good looks.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Scenic drive...

Since we were fairly productive around the place yesterday, we took some time this morning to go for a scenic drive. We do so love to ride together, in the little warm bubble of Chris' Subaru. As the world goes whizzing by we feel, sometimes, like it is just us, alone together, holding hands and enjoying the simple happiness that comes from being with each other.

We ended up in Damriscotta, a wonderful little sea-side town. I knew the Alewives were running, and there is a fish ladder there that I wanted to explore. I mentioned in a previous blog post that Alewives migrate by the millions from the ocean, up rivers, to the ponds and lakes where they hatched. There they spawn, then return to the sea. At least, the lucky ones do.

We saw a few that were not so lucky today. The gulls lined the edges of the river, and feasted until their crops were full to bursting. We could see the fish squirming around even after they were swallowed. THAT must be a strange sensation.

The fish that make it to the wonderful man-made "ladder" are protected from aerial predators by some netting. Here is what the fish ladder looks like:

If you look to the right of this picture you will see a dark, vertical shape. That is a fish climbing the ladder.

We had a fun little adventure on this beautiful morning.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Day "Off"...

I woke up happy, knowing the day was stretched before me, full of possibilities. I had a long "to do" list and hoped to cross many items off of it. The day was fair and warm, the air scented with apple blossoms and full of the sound of birds singing and bees having a pollination party in the flower-laden trees.

I did the morning chores; milked the goats, collected eggs, fed and watered all the livestock. I chatted with my sisters on the phone, our lovely weekly tradition. Then Chris and I went out for breakfast. After that we hauled out a huge role of electrified netting wire and fenced in a scrubby area between the pasture and the road. We turned the goats out there to browse. "Browsing" refers to eating leaves and brush, rather than grass. Goats prefer browsing over grazing, but our pasture is mostly grass so they are browse deprived. Turning them out into this area is good for them, as they can eat food they enjoy, and good for us, because they will tidy up a scrubby spot on our property.

Bonus! There are a few huge boulders there, and the kids found them to be fabulous spots to play "king of the mountain."

Once that project was done we took the weeks trash to the transfer station, then stopped at the local farm stand and picked up some beautiful hanging pots of flowers to decorate the yard. Back home I tackled the messy front flower bed.

I moved boulders, raked up leaves and debris from the long winter, then hoed out weeds. I pruned back the roses, and hung two of the pretty pots I had brought home. Then I hauled bucket after bucket of mulch and raked it out, deep and dark and pretty. The garden is now ready for planting. I will probably put annuals in there, so it will be bright and colorful all summer.

I weeded around a few other smaller spots and mulched them well. There is still a good bit to do to get the yard looking the way I want it to, but we made big progress on our day "off."

As evening approached we had our first "summer supper," at the picnic table. Chris treated us to lobsters and cooked them table-side.

We keep our lobster feasts simple. Bread, butter, lobster, wine. Paper towels to wipe up the mess. It's not fancy, the focus is entirely on the rare, succulent, special flavor of the steaming crustaceans that grace our plates. The buttery, salty, sweet taste of summer. And the perfect end to a delightfully productive day.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Reason 6,423 why I love living in Maine...

One of the nice things about living here is that if you have something you don't want, like a dysfunctional gas grill, or a broken chair, you can put it out in front of your house and 99.9% of the time someone will haul it away. Recycling at it's finest. I had a small electric heater built to look like a wood stove that I no longer wanted. It worked just fine, but the motor that blew the warm air out was a bit loud and they make more efficient ones now. I put it by the side of the road with a little sign that said, "Works perfectly, $15.00." The day was fine and several people stopped to look, but no one bought. The little stove stayed out overnight.

The next day it was still there. In the afternoon storm clouds rolled in and I knew I should go retrieve it from the great outdoors, but I was working and didn't have time to stop what I was doing. The skies opened up and the poor little electric stove got the bath it never wanted. I felt bad about it, but there was nothing to be done at that point.

Today when I checked the mailbox I found this:

I would have gladly given the water logged thing to anyone who wanted it, but here was this very nice note, and 10 one dollar bills, placed kindly in my mailbox. I love living in Maine.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Wee visitors...

"The ruby-throated hummingbird is a species of hummingbird that generally spends the Winter in Central America and migrates to Eastern North America for the Summer to breed. Wikipedia
Scientific name: Archilochus colubris
Rank: Species
Higher classification: Archilochus"

They have arrived!

I'm not sure how many hummingbirds we have here, but there are several. They zip around, making buzzing sounds with their whirring wings. I love to see them, perched in the lilac bushes, zooming about the gardens, and dining, over and over, at the feeders. Welcome back,little friends!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Nature hike...

I found an event in the newspaper that interested me. It was billed to be a hike with a local naturalist, and he would be telling us about the importance of Alewives to the local ecology. Alewives are little fish that come from the ocean in the spring, and work their way up streams until they find the pond they were hatched in. They detect the right pond by the smell of it. Once there they spawn, then return to the sea. Their migration causes an uproar with the gulls, Osprey and Bald Eagles. The place where the walk was held is local, but I have never been there. It was beautiful!

Sadly the event was not really as billed. It was a bird walk, which was very interesting, but I had my sights set on learning about the fish! We saw many warblers, and the woods were alive with bird song. Everything was growing, in bright shades of what I call, "new green." There were a lot of snails, too, feasting on all that growth.

We walked to the head of the tide, where the fresh water and salt or brackish water meet. We saw a Bald Eagle there, perched in a tall pine, surveying the riches of food below. He sailed off before I could get a picture.

It was a lovely walk, and fun to do something outside my normal routine. I need to take more nature hikes.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Show offs...

Because I have been feeding the wild birds since last fall, I have a population which seems to be quite active and stable. I am keeping the feeders full, and there are not words to explain how much I enjoy watching them. All winter, when the world was shades of monotone, the birds were mostly drab as well. But now that spring is cranking up, the birds are showing off.

There are flocks of Goldfinches. Even though they are sort of "common," they delight me.

The Red Wing Blackbirds hang out under the feeders a lot, picking up seeds that have fallen. They hold their wings away from their bodies a bit, showing the patches of color on their shoulders. Some have just a sliver of red, others have a large swath. I don't know if it has to do with age or genetics, but the ones with a lot of red seem masterful at making the most of what they have, flashing it shamelessly.

There has been a pair of Baltimore Orioles hanging around for the last few days. The female comes down to eat suet and sample the offerings of oranges I put out. It was fun to see the orange Oriole and the stunning male Rose Breasted Grosbeak in such close proximity.

Besides filling space with their bright colors, the birds are singing up a storm as well. They are vying for mates, scoping out potential nesting sites, and filling the great outdoors with great beauty. Sometimes being a show off is a good thing!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Life is...

Last fall I contracted with a local guy to make me an arbor. I wanted it to be big, rustic, and made of birch. He finished it in late November, and we installed it in December over the walkway to the front door. Cold weather arrived shortly after, and record snowfall.

A week or so ago one of my customers asked me what kind of vine I had growing on my arbor. I told her that the vines were all part of the arbor itself, cut last fall and wired on to the wooden frame. She said, "Really? Because they are budding out." I looked, and to my total surprise, she was right.

Not only were they budding, but now little leaves are popping from those buds. This growth from branches cut from their source 7 or more months ago. Branches that have been cut, varnished, and frozen. Branches far from their source, wired to a frame and exposed to the brutal New England elements. Life? It is persistent.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Adventures with Jane Doe...

When I finished work today, my daughter said, "It's so pretty outside, let's take our cameras and a baby goat to the cemetery and have a photo shoot." I was resistant, I had THINGS TO DO. But she is persistent if nothing else, and off we went.
Jane snuggled calmly in my lap while we rode. Once at the cemetery she hopped out of the car, and followed us calmly. At first we put a leash on her, but she didn't need it, staying within feet of us as we walked about.

She nibbled on weeds, and explored the "rocks," we passed.

The black flies were fierce, so we didn't stay long. Next we drove to our favorite summer swimming spot.
Jane liked this place, too.

All of this was a very pleasant diversion, punctuated with slips of growing beauty...

We dabbled our toes in the clear water. Just a month ago this place was filled with ice. On the surface the water didn't feel too horribly cold, but I bet it was much colder just under the surface. Perhaps we'll bring Jane back later in the season and see if she wants to take a little dip with us. She looks interested...

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mothers day...

First and foremost, I took time to fondly remember my mother today. Dorothy C. Waters was beautiful, kind, generous and often very funny. She loved babies and small children, and is pictured here with her first grandchild, Emily.

For my day, Chris told me we could do anything I wanted. The sun was shining, the birds singing, and I wanted to tackle some yard chores. We had two yards of good mulch loaded into the back of the truck, and while we were out we picked up a new hummingbird feeder, and a an adorable bluebird house, hand made locally by a disabled man. No two of his houses are alike, but they are all whimsically wonderful.We've had a pair of bluebirds hovering about, seemingly unimpressed by the houses we already have up. Within hours of hanging this new one, a handsome male bluebird was scoping it out, clinging to the front and peering inside. I so hope he and his mate will choose to nest there, I'd be delighted to watch them raise a brood.

Chris heroically shoveled a LOT of mulch. There is more to go, but we made a dent and things are looking prettier.

And THEN, he delighted me further by hauling heavy cinder blocks and cutting boards so I now have some benches in my wee little green house!

He grilled up a few steaks while I did evening chores, and the heavens capped off a lovely day with a colorful gift over the back meadow.

I'd say it was a pretty perfect day, all told.