Thursday, August 27, 2015

Luna update...

Several people have asked about Luna Goat. Luna was our first goat, and is one of the sweetest spirits I've ever met. She had a difficult pregnancy this winter, was off her feed a lot and caused me many sleepless nights. Luckily she kidded fine, producing two healthy babies to delight us. I had the vet out to see her shortly after that, because she was losing weight at an alarming rate. She took some tests, we wormed her, we treated her with antibiotics in case she had some infection lurking. She continued to fail. For weeks I began each day thinking I'd find her dead. But she tenaciously hung on to life. I did lots of research and treated her with everything I could think of. Vitamin drenches, mineral supplements, pro-biotics to help her her digestion, special treats, special foods to tempt her appetite. She began to be a bit perkier when I began giving her a new supplement that has iron, cobalt and other wonderful things in it. The vet came back out last week, and we treated her again for internal parasites, and I began giving her daily injections of B complex vitamins. The vet said, "Inject her every day until she runs when she sees you coming with the needle." Tonight she ran a little when I came at her, but I was able to catch her so I jabbed her! She is eating well, has been more active the last couple of days, and still rules the other goats quite firmly.

She never lost her winter coat this spring, and looked scruffy and dirty compared to the other sleek, shiny,goats. All of a sudden about 3 weeks ago her coat began to fall out in huge clumps, leaving her pink skinned and pathetic looking. But it is growing back in, and you know what? I am feeling hopeful. She is terribly thin, but has a light in her eye and a determination to live that is encouraging.

This goat has brought me a lot of joy in the 4 years she has called FairWinds home. I am glad for every day that she greets me at the pasture gate. I hope there are more greetings in our future.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Canned duck...

I stepped out front this morning and heard a little splashing sound. I looked around and there was one of my naughty brown ducks,out of the pasture, AGAIN! She was splashing about in a watering can I'd left in the driveway. Why this was more appealing than her wading pool, I do not know, but she spent a long time there, and seemed content.

First she'd dip her graceful head into the watering can. She'd bob up and down, then turn her head to wet the feathers on her back.

I had to stand and watch her a while... the entertainment at FairWind's knows no bounds.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Broader horizons...

A few years ago the property behind and beside us was sold to people that live out of state. I was a little heartsick, worried they'd build a house in the wild meadow behind our place. Instead they made a driveway into the woods down the road a bit and cleared some trees. After a lot of nagging from both my friend and my daughter I contacted the people and asked if they would consider letting us put up temporary fencing in the meadow so our hoof stock could graze there. To my delight, they happily agreed. Ever since then we've been trying to find a free afternoon to put fencing up, and add a gate to our existing fence for access. Today, finally, was the day.

Chris started off by putting 30 or so poles up for electric fence. I joined him and put the sunshine yellow insulators on the poles. Then we strung two strands of electric wire all around. Next, Chris brought out his weed wacker and trimmed all the high grass and weeds and vines from under the new fence. The goats knew something was up, and called to us, out there in the field. They watched with great curiosity as we worked in the hot sun.

Once the area was enclosed, we cut a wide opening in the existing wire fence. Luna goat, who had been napping in the shade all this time, walked purposefully up to where we were working. It was very clear that she knew something BIG was up. The moment the wire fence was open she stepped daintily into the new enclosure, and began to eat. The other goats were not so brave, grazing in the old pasture and keeping a sharp eye on Luna as she ranged into new territory. I brought Chanel, the horse, down. She carefully observed the new opening, and was wary. I led her through the gate and took the lead rope off. She snorted and tossed her head and trotted happily into unfamiliar territory. The sun glistened on her back, and she happily explored the wonders unveiled.

The other goats joined in, once they saw their friend and protector out in the tall, tall grass.

The goats are here, in this picture, but the grass is so high you can't even see them. It is a hoof stock smorgasbord!

Chanel did a good bit of running around in her exciting fresh pasture. I sipped a glass of chilled wine and enjoyed seeing my critters having a grand time.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


One thing about living with animals... they are certainly unpredictable. This is not necessarily a bad thing, sometimes it means a hardy and delightful laugh is lurking unexpectedly.

This morning I was a little groggy when I stepped out to milk goats and do chores. The morning was damp and misty, and I moved slowly to take care of things, enjoying the scenery of misty meadow and a day painted in shades of silver gray.

I recently moved the milking stand outdoors. The real reason I did it was because my cousin was coming to visit and wanted to try her hand at milking, and the garage where I normally milk is an embarrassing mess. It is also hot in there this time of year, so I thought perhaps I could enjoy milking outside during these fine mid-August days. So far, the experiment has been a success, and it's nice to see yard while I milk instead of garage doors.

I filled the feed pan that attaches to the milking stand, and opened the gate from the pasture for Celeste. She was waiting there for me; such a good goat, and well versed in the rhythm and routine of our day. She hopped nimbly up on the stand, I hooked her in and sat down. Just at that instant the rising sun peeked out from behind the veil of mist that it had been behind, and I saw a large, orb spider web, glistening with dew, on the fence. The spider that spun it has left a web there each morning, but the light has not been cooperative and previous photo attempts have been a bust. I decided Celeste could entertain herself for a second or two while I tried to capture the wonder of wet web in morning light.

As I approached the fence, I realized that little Jane Doe was adorably posed just behind the web. If I could get to the correct vantage point in time, I could, perhaps, snap a shot of the web, in focus, with little Jane framed whimsically behind it. I hurried, but Jane saw me coming and trotted to meet me. I was disappointed, but moved in to take the photo of the web, sadly goat free.

And then this happened!

Ella, sporting her new pink bandanna, approached the fence. She saw me looking at the spider web, and focused her attention there as well.
And being a goat, she explored it with her mouth.

To my surprise, she seemed to find it rather tasty!

The unpredictability of my animals, it makes my day.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Crickets and chrysanthemums...

It is with mixed emotions that I hear the hot summer air filled with the songs of crickets. They herald the end of the season, and though I love the sound of them, I'm not ready for summer to be over. Then, today we drove past a farm stand that had rafts of chrysanthemums on display. Fall flowers! I lazily let sunflower seeds germinate and grow under my bird feeder, filling a little garden I had hoped to do other things with. Now that their wide faces are in bloom and nodding beneath my window, I rather like them, but they, too, remind me, the season is nearly gone. Sadly, summer is on the wane.

I am grabbing onto the last of it greedily. We'll go to the beach at least one more time, and I have simply got to get into my kayak a bit more.

The hummingbirds will be winging to warmer climbs soon. According to migration studies,some head south as early as mid-July, but most will stay in Maine until late August or early September. They do not tolerate cold at all, and tend to migrate when there are still plenty of flowers and some bugs for travel food. For now our feeder is bustling with activity as the wee things store up the easy energy I provide for them.

The days are busy and full, and speeding by too swiftly. I wish I could hang on to summer a bit longer.

Saturday, August 15, 2015


I've been blessed with some terrific family.

My cousin Chris, along with her sweet husband of 40 plus years, came from New Hampshire for supper tonight. We served them dip made from my own goat cheese mixed with garlic and basil, pork chops from a home-raised pig, fresh corn on the cob and yummy sauteed veggies from our favorite neighborhood farm. Dessert was sweet, fresh, Maine berries with fresh whipped cream (the cream was also from a local dairy.)

Under a post-storm rainbow, cousin Chris helped me milk the goats. She shares similar interests with me, and has raised her own pigs, lambs and chickens for meat in the past. She also had a family cow for many years, and utilized the milk to feed her kids home made dairy products.

Tonight we sat around the supper table a long time, swapping stories and laughing. It was so good. We don't see each other often, but the times we do get together it's a lot of fun. I'm so glad they came to Maine!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Bird shots...

I have a little free time this morning so I took my camera out and plunked myself down on the chicken coop steps. The ducks were cleaning themselves up after a busy morning terrorizing the neighborhood.

After a nice splash they preen in the sun. The two naughty little brown hen ducks are beginning to moult. That means they lose their old, battered feathers and grow pretty, fresh, new ones. Their feathers were in hard shape when they arrived this spring, and I am anxious to see how they look when they have on their new "outfits." I suspect they will look much darker and more sleek.

Meanwhile the new layer chicks are busy, busy. They are excellent bug hunters, and are ranging all over the pasture dining on succulent greens and things that crawl or fly. They spot a bug and are off, running on their stout legs. I think they are going to be an excellent addition to the place.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Busy Sunday...

A favorite friend since I was 8 years old is in Maine visiting, and kindly treated us to lunch today. It was fun to be together, even for a little bit. Some of my happiest childhood memories involve this friend. It is so special to spend time with people I have loved most of my life. Thank you, Melanie!

Since I knew we had a lunch date, I packed a lot of activity into my morning. After regular morning chores, I then cleaned up a few wheel barrows full of horse manure from the pasture. Next I cleaned out the goat room and the pony shed. Chris joined me and we did a little fencing, and took down the fence that had previously contained the broiler and new layer chicks. I also had a variety of livestock feed and water pans scattered hither and yon... I collected all those and piled them up on the picnic table. This week I will give them all a good cleaning and store them away. Next, we delivered some goat milk to the farm where the calf I wrote about yesterday lives, and dropped some goat poo off at the veterinarians office to check for worms. We picked up some livestock feed and shavings at our favorite store, then took the weeks trash to the transfer station. After that we ran home, took care of the dogs, grabbed beach gear and headed out for lunch.

Full of food and happy from our visit, we drove the lovely route to Pemaquid State Park, and the sweet little beach there. We like this beach for several reasons, one of which is that the sand is filled with little flecks of gold colored minerals that sparkle magically with every wave. I waded into the ocean up to my hips, but that is as deep as I could manage, the water was very, VERY cold. We read a bit, daydreamed a bit, and walked the shoreline. We watched young families with kids playing in the water, old couples walking along the waters edge, happy groups sharing picnics, teens giggling and teasing each other. Gulls swooped low overhead, looking for sandwiches or potato chips. The air was filled with happy voices, laughter, and the unforgettable sound of surf meeting the shore.

There was a little girl playing at the waters edge. She spent a lot of time squatting, her long, wavy blond hair a cape around her shoulders, looking at shells and capturing wee hermit crabs. She was around 8 years old, and reminded me... of me. She was entranced by the sea and the life around her. I watched her a long time, remembering the way I saw life in the years before I was ever even double digits. Life was good then. Life is good now. I am still agog at the wonders of the world around me.

I find it hard to tear myself away from our little farm on a day off, there is much that should be done. But a day at the beach? It feeds our souls.

Saturday, August 8, 2015


I am a member of a Facebook group that deals with local livestock. People buy and sell animals and farm equipment. I don't look at it all that often, but the other day I happened to see a post where someone was in search of goat milk. The persons name seemed familiar, and I realized it was a woman that lives near me, whose farm I had been to when I bought some antique chicken water dispensers. I had liked her so much, and she had shown me around her farm. Her animals were beautifully cared for and clearly well-loved. After I met her I hoped we would cross paths again.

It turns out this sweet lady had been given a newborn calf from a large local dairy. The little cow's mother had died after calving. The woman that now has the calf was feeding her formula made for livestock,but the baby was having trouble digesting the stuff. She didn't want to move, and was grinding her teeth, a sure sign of discomfort in many farm animals. So her caregiver was looking for goat milk to see if she could digest it more easily. I happened to have several gallons of fresh goat milk that I was planning to make cheese with, but I messaged the lady that she could have it if she wanted.

The original farmer had named this calf "Lucky." Clearly, she was not. She was terribly thin, and sick, and an orphan. Her start in life was far from lucky.

The woman took the goat milk home, and heated some up for the sick calf. She later told me that when she offered her the bottle the calf took it with great hesitation. Then, after she'd swallowed a bit and tasted it,she perked up and drank with gusto. A few days and six or so gallons of goat milk later, the calf is up, exploring the world, nibbling on hay and grain, and hopping and running about like a healthy baby should. Her name has been changed to "Windy," taken from the sign at our house that says, "Fair Winds Farm."

It makes me so happy to think that our little goats can help another animal. Grow well, little Windy!

Monday, August 3, 2015

Street Festival...

Tonight in Belfast, a little coastal town not far from where we live, there was a street festival. I've heard about it before, but had never attended.
We don't go out in the evening very often, but the weather was so fine, and the lure of street food and live music was so tempting, that as soon as we were done with work and chores we headed out.

Belfast is a cute little town, with fun shops and a few decent restaurants. There is a lovely harbor and a nice sense of community. The street festival was colorful, with some uniquely Maine accents.

There was music, and people were dancing in the streets...

And street food...

It was a pleasant little diversion, finished off with a scoop of locally made coconut cream ice cream that was superb. A sweet little evening.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Fowl things...

The little coop for the Silkie chickens has had a bit of a face lift.

I tried to love its beautifully weathered wood, but I just kept thinking how nice it would look stained white! Our daughters boyfriend kindly offered to take on that project. He did a fabulous job. Today we attached the sweet little antique tool carrier "window box." The local Agway had all their plants on sale, super cheap. For $3.00 I was able to fill the little box with bright color. The Silkies love their new home. They only laid one egg between April and July, but since they moved to their new place I've had 5 eggs!

Other fowl around here are trouble. Those DUCKS! The first year I had them they stayed right in the large (almost 2 acres) fenced pasture. Then early this spring I brought home two little hen ducks from the animal auction. I only paid $5 for them and thought I had gotten the deal of the century. They'd been here about 2 minutes before they taught the original ducks how to scoot out the fence and explore the neighborhood. I cannot keep them confined, it is maddening. They traipse about like they own the road, and annoy passersby to no end. I will admit that they look charming lounging about in the front yard, but I do wish they would stay where they belong.