Monday, May 30, 2016


I am sorry. I should not post so much about my new puppy, but I am compelled.

After a chilly morning, the afternoon was warm and sunny. I thought it would be a good time to introduce Bravo to water.  I got the idea after he was enchanted by the water from the hose when I was giving the plants a drink.

We parked the truck at the boat ramp of Sennebec Pond.  Just as I got out, a car sped by and honked its horn. I looked to see what they were tooting at and it was this... a fox, trotting down the road.  He barely glanced at us as he went past, and we were so surprised we forgot to take a picture until he was well beyond us.

Bravo never noticed him and bounced happily to the waters edge on the end of his leash.  There he met a new friend.

He sniffed around happily. Then put his front feet in the water.
I waded in, up to my ankles. I offered him a cookie to come to me.  He did.  In one leap he was belly deep in the cool water.

He got back to dry land as soon as he could.  He was not anxious to go back into the water, but neither was he terribly concerned.

More sniffing and frolicking in the sand.  Then home for supper and a snuggle.  He is such a fun puppy.

Old and new...

Little Bravo is proving to be an extraordinary puppy.  I've raised my share of pups, and this one is unique. He is very calm. Of course, all baby animals sleep a lot, and he is no exception, but he tucks himself into the little pen I put up for him in the kitchen when he is weary and stays there, snoozing, for hours on end.  He has had very few potty accidents, and is learning the routine of the house quickly.

I enrolled him in puppy class immediately, and he is a quick study.  He already knows how to sit, down, touch my hand with his nose, spin in a circle, give a "high five," and go to his kennel on command. 

All the dogs like him, and that is a gift. It is particularly adorable to see him with Dutch, the wonderful Golden.  She is pretty much the perfect dog, and he emulates her.  Laying where she lays, playing with a ball when she does, running in the field in her wake.

There is something so poignant about seeing that wise, gray muzzled face snuggled up next to the innocent, youthful little guy.  He has much to learn in the coming months, and many teachers.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


I had a quick overnight visit in Massachusetts at my sister Deb's house.  She delighted me by inviting family over for supper.  All this on a work night, which made it doubly kind.  I got to see two sisters, one brother in law, two nieces, a nephew, and the cutest great niece ever.There was great food and good wine and fun conversation.
Brother in law John manned the grill. 

Deb spread magic, and bubbles...
Bravo had a party playing with Lucy and Zoe.  And toys. And racing about.

Afterwards he fell asleep, hard, with all four feet in the air like a dead roach. Only cuter.

It was good to go home for a night, walk through the familiar woods, look out the windows I looked out of as a child, and spend time with some of my favorite folks.  And my new puppy.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Notes from the hen yard...

Last fall I posted about the rooster hadn't planned on.  You can read about it here if you'd like:

I have had bad luck with roosters. They are OK for a while, then they decide they want to kill me. I don't appreciate having animals that I feed and shelter trying to poke my eyes out. 

Harrison Ford, though, is different.  A handsome, gentleman rooster.  He does all the good things that roosters do. He calls the hens when he finds a delicious treat for them to eat, he keeps them in a flock to the best of his ability, because there is safety in numbers.  He looks out for predators. In fact, my husband witnessed him in a tussle with a Red Tailed Hawk that came swooping into the pasture, and the rooster won! He is as handsome as they come, and he never so much as casts a questioning eye upon me.  This means he will not be turned into Harrison Ford and rice. 

The hens have matured beautifully, too.
This breed, Light Brahma's, are known to be good layers, even in the winter.  They are large birds, and don't mind cold weather a bit.  They look nice pottering about the pasture, too.
The ladies wear deeply ruffled petticoats. 

The chickens provide excellent insect control. I rarely see a flea or tick on my pets, and for that I give the poultry much credit.  And those eggs... deep yellow yolks, firm whites. Delicious. I delight in giving a dozen to a customer or friend.  They are always a welcome gift.

I'm awfully fond of my chickens. Yes, Harrison Ford rooster, too.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Show time..!

Several years ago I made a nice friend when I bought a goat from her.  She has since become somewhat of a mentor to me, teaching me much.

She is taking 7 of her goats to a show next weekend.  When people show their goats, they clip their hair off to make it easier to see their conformation.  My friend asked me for a clipper recommendation. I offered to loan her one of my very nice grooming clippers.  The clippers I use to groom dogs are made in Germany, and I worked part time for the company that makes them for many years.  Aesculap, or "The German Red Clipper."  They are so powerful, I always thought they would be great for working on livestock. I was right!

Today my daughter and I went to my friends farm to show her how to use the tools. I could only clip a little with my left hand.  Rachel did a lot, and my friend is a quick study.

It was fun.  The goats were sweet, and we had some laughs as we sheared those thick, shaggy coats off.  They looked very nice with the hair newly sleek and smooth.

The little goat loved Rachel and snuggled right up to her.

 I was sort of surprised she didn't come home with us. 

Today was a stunning spring day, and it was fun to get out a bit, spend time with my friend, my daughter and other "kids." A little change of scenery is good for the soul.  Next weekend we'll go to the goat show and see our newly clipped friends strut their stuff.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Happy day....

I woke with a start at 4:00 AM to hear a woman screaming just outside. Eyes wide open in the dark, trying to get my bearings. Chris muttered, "What IS that?" The screaming came again, closer still.  "Fox," I told him.  He was asleep again 2 heartbeats later. I lay awake till dawn, wondering if the chickens were locked up appropriately, the rabbits, the ducks... I knew they were, but in the groggy early hours ones mind tends to run amok.

The puppy whined softly at 6:00. I hopped up, threw on some clothes and took him outside.  I bottle fed the baby goats, let the birds out of their coops, fed the horse and milked and grained the goats. It was a blue sky morning, birds singing, flowers blooming. The best that spring has to offer. I am feeling a little better each day after my injury, so that buoyed me, too.  Rachel and I had a full day of grooming slated, and our friend was scheduled to join us for supper and watching the Preakness horse race.  So much to be happy about.

The day went along nicely, except for a brief power outage that slowed our work down a bit, but we worked around that smoothly.  All the dogs and cats were groomed and headed home by 3:00.  Then Rachel planted some things in the vegetable garden while I looked on.  And Marion arrived bringing enchiladas and salad.  Chris had made his famous hot wings, and some spinach dip, so we had a tasty feast planned. And then, from the bed of my friends truck, I heard, "Baaaaaah!"

I had planned, very early in the spring, to buy two lambs that had been born at Marion's farm.  Then, when I fell and hurt myself, I asked her if she could sell them to someone else. I knew I would be out of work and didn't want to spend money I didn't need to. And, being injured, taking on more animals to care for seemed like folly. When my daughter heard that I had changed my plans she went behind my back and arranged to buy those lambs for me as a Mother's Day gift.  And here they were, in a large dog crate, delivered to my door.

They had a lot to say about the transition, but are settling in now.  Adorable spring lambs for Mother's Day. A sweet gift that was the cherry on the cake of a happy May day.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Puppy's first week...

Bravo is settling in so nicely. He has slept through the night 3 out of 4 nights.  One night he did politely wake me at 3:00AM. I took him out, and he had pressing business to attend to.  Then he went right back to sleep in his crate and never made another peep.

So far he has learned to go up and down stairs, how to get into the little pen I put up in the kitchen for him when he is tired (he likes it there, and seems perfectly happy to be alone.) I have switched his diet from kibble to raw and he never missed a beat. This morning he happily polished off a chicken wing, bone and all, and a pile of chopped pork.  For a mid-morning snack he had a little dish of warm goat milk and seemed to think that was quite tasty.  He has learned to wear a collar and is getting the hang of the leash. There has only been one errant puddle on the floor. Not bad for such a young pup!  Introductions to the livestock have been made.

I let him meet some of my favorite customers.
And last night we started puppy school!  He was a super star. He particularly liked playtime. And all the snacks.  But yes, mostly play time.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Greenhouse visitors...

I bought the cutest little greenhouse a while back. I have not really utilized it for a variety of reasons, but I do hope to sprout things in it in the future.  Currently it has a few flower seeds coming up in pots, and some cast off houseplants soaking up the sun. 

Inside the greenhouse, grass and dandelions grow with reckless abandon.  My very practical friend asked, "Why don't you put the rabbits in there?" I wish  my brain worked the way hers does. 24 hours later Mr. Abbot and Costello were ceremoniously packed into a cardboard box and moved to a new temporary location.

It is a warm, sunny, rabbit smorgasbord!

They have reduced the herbage by a lot, and seem to be having a pleasant visit.  I think I will let them spend time here as the weather allows.  They certainly add a dose of charm (and fertilizer!) to the place while they tidy up the footing. Fun and useful bunnies!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Bravo comes to FairWinds...

We drove to pick our new puppy up yesterday. It's a long drive, nearly 3 hours. Luckily we love to take rides together.  We grabbed a little lunch on the way, and arrived at our destination around 2:30. The puppies had just woken up from a nap and were outside in a pen getting some fresh air and sunshine.

They separated Bravo from the pack and he and his pretty mama tussled about.
The breeder gave me important papers and I gave her some cash, and then the culmination of months of happy anticipation was in my arms, kissing my face.
He was a bit restless in the car at first, panting and squirming.  After a while he lay across my chest with his sweet little chin on shoulder.  He heaved a very large sigh for such a very small puppy and slept the rest of the way home.

When we arrived here I took him right out to the back yard.  He piddled and pooped fast, then explored all around, his tail up, confident and happy.  "Here I am!" he seemed to say.  "What shall we do next?"  We introduced him to the dogs, one at a time.  All was well.  He ran up to a group of chickens, gave them a look, then bounded back to me.  I took him inside and fixed him supper.  He ate it right down,and took a long drink. Then he found the big dog bed by the wood stove (which we had lit, even though it is May, because it was chilly with a nasty wind blowing.)  He took a nap while we ate supper, then played with some toys.  I took him out again before bedtime and to my surprise and delight he slept in his crate by my bed all night without ever asking to go out.  Super puppy!

This morning after a stroll and breakfast, I took him with me to do chores.  He settled by my side while I milked goats like he'd done it every morning of his life.

Then we fed the bottle baby kids and the chickens and ducks. He watched me work, following along as I went.

It was fun to have a dog that wanted to follow along while I did my happy morning work.  I think he will grow to be a fine farm companion. Good boy, Bravo!

Thursday, May 12, 2016


 This guy.  THIS one. He is coming home with us on Sunday. During this difficult past few weeks, when I didn't feel well after dislocating my shoulder, I have cheered myself with one word. PUPPY!  I nearly told the breeder I was backing out on getting him when I first was injured.  Unable to work, it seemed ridiculous to buy a puppy. But calmer minds prevailed. My sweet husband said, with uncharacteristic firmness, "You are GETTING the puppy."  
I've been in contact with his breeder since before he was even born. She and I were messaging each other on the computer moments before he made an appearance.  He was the 4th puppy delivered, and she told me, "He has an adorable spot on his head." I felt a little shiver when I read the words, "That's my puppy," I thought.  It seemed silly to be swayed by an "adorable spot," and I put the thought out of my head.  When I saw the puppy pictures I liked the body shape and color of one dog in particular.  It turned out to be the one with the spot. 

The breeder and I talked about personality types, and this guy seems to be a middle of the road sort of pup. Not the boldest, not shy.  Very people oriented.  We went to meet him when he was 5 1/2 weeks old. He's an excellent kisser. 

There were several pups to choose from. I had decided to get a male, though in general I prefer girl dogs.  I thought a male would be a better fit with the two females already in residence.  I had three boys and a girl pick from they day we met them.  My eye still kept going back to Mr. "Adorable Spot." There is just something about him.

We will call him Bravo.  I should have a lot of time to play with him and hopefully train him as I recover from my upcoming surgery. Meanwhile, he has been a bright beacon of happiness during a grim time.  Come on, Bravo!  Bring home some happy puppy love and laughter.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Catching up...

I haven't posted for a few days for various reasons.I keep thinking of topics that I would like to write about, but then I don't have pictures to go with the idea.  Or I have a picture but it's not very good quality. But mostly it's because I am preoccupied. 
A month ago I fell and dislocated my right shoulder.  It was bad enough that every time a nurse or doctor see the x ray for the first time they gasp.  I have been in a sling, learning how to do as much of what I normally do with one hand as possible.  I started physical therapy, and that was great. The ER doctors and everything I read about an injury of this type suggested that after 6 weeks in a sling I'd be in good shape.  Then I had an MRI and learned that the injury damaged much of the internal workings of my shoulder.  The rotator cuff is torn, as is the bicep muscle and a bunch of other internal bits that keep things working.  So, it's off to surgery for me.  I have mixed feelings of despair at the thought of 6 more weeks in a sling, and then feelings of happiness that I will be able to have this repaired and be able to use my arm again.  One of my customers said the best thing today, "After surgery, all you have to do is wake up and heal."  So that will be my  new mantra.  I have seen one surgeon and am seeing a shoulder specialist on Tuesday to get a second opinion.  I hope he will schedule me for surgery very soon so I can get on with the healing! 

So that is my recent distraction. I will try to get back to blogging. Maybe tomorrow. Thanks for your patience.  

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Day 6, May in Maine...

My husband calls them "the little happy birds."  They are actually Tree Swallows, but I see his point, they do look happy when they flit and swoop through the air.

They like to nest in bluebird boxes.  A whole group of them will fly in and out, investigating the potential nest site to see if it will suit.  They like to add feathers, especially white ones, to their nests, and it is fun to see them snatch feathers right from the air to tuck into the home they are building.  Since I have chickens and ducks here, there are always feathers about, it must be like hitting the jackpot when nesting season arrives.

Tree Swallows tend to come back to Maine from their winter habitat of Florida and Central America rather early... April or May.  Insect eating wonders, they are more than welcome here. I love the expression on this guys face.  He let me approach very closely with my camera, but he was giving me a bit of a stink eye!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Day 5, May in Maine...

Wildlife in Maine are raising young this time of year.  Fox kits are usually born in March or April. The average litter is 5, and both parents help raise them.  They stay in a family group until fall, when they disperse.  It is not unusual for us to see fox in the meadow behind our house, and it always makes me worry a bit, because we have ducks and chickens that range inside our pasture.  Two days ago my husband went out to lock the birds up for the night and a fox trotted boldly towards him.  Then last night my daughter spotted a fox in the same area. We now go out early to keep an eye on the birds until they head for their safe enclosures, where we can lock them up securely. 

Although adult fox only weigh around 12 pounds, they can easily grab a full sized chicken or duck and take it home to feed a hungry family.  In fact, a visitor here today said, "Guess what I saw just up the street?   A fox with a chicken in its mouth!"  I was glad it wasn't one of mine. 

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Day 4, May in Maine...

May is baby time.  Local farm pastures are dotted with calves and lambs and piglets.

This afternoon I took a ride with a friend to pick up some baby day-old goslings.  It was a pretty drive through the country, taking us to a little house on a lake.  When we went inside there was a large dog crate with a heat lamp over it.  Inside were 8 or so baby Chinese geese.  Cute little fluffy things with thick legs and long necks.  My friend chose 4 and popped them into the a little cat carrier.  They complained loudly about their change in venue. 

We put them in the car.  My friends dog, Lick, was happy to see them. They made sounds just like squeaky toys.

He curled around the carrier, watching the new additions with great interest.  He will be their guardian, keeping predators away.

There is new life everywhere in May. Perhaps that is why it is one of my favorite months.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Day 3, May in Maine...

I couldn't write about May in Maine without mentioning black flies.  This rather bland name does nothing to describe the horror of what is known as "black fly season," in Maine. Tiny, dark colored flies that hatch in the millions in early summer. There are actually 40 different species of Simuliidae family active here. Unlike mosquitoes, which hatch from standing water, black flies hatch in vast swarms from running water, of which there is plenty in Maine.  They can travel several miles from where they are hatched, and become active when the temperature climbs above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Local lore says they are active from May until July, but during a wet summer they may be a nuisance well after that.

Since they can be dissuaded from feasting when there is a brisk wind, I spend a lot of time wishing for breezy days this time of year.  People wear netting over their faces and torsos, douse themselves in insect repellent sprays, and spend a lot of time waving their hands in front of their faces.  If you have never experienced them, you may think this is a much ado about nothing, but trust me, the wee things can drive you mad. 

There are stories of moose in the deep woods being driven crazy by the flies, and they can even prove to be fatal if the animal begins the season in poor condition. Though each fly takes just one drop of blood, the sheer numbers of them are enough to cause major blood loss.

We saw this moose in May several years ago.  She and her two calves were dining by the side of the road up near Greenville somewhere.  Clouds of flies were harassing them. I dearly wished I could share some bug spray.

It was pretty clear how she felt about the pesky things! 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Day 2, May in Maine...

It's a little to early to do more in the gardens than rake and get ready, but pansies and their family are hardy enough to make it through our chilly spring.  I planted two rustic old tin buckets with these happy little plants.
The hardy iris bulbs are putting leaves up.

And the peonies are shooting up in crimson glory.

All of these things make me happy, but what I notice most this time of year is the birds.
The male goldfinches have changed out their olive drab feathers for stunning canary yellow.  They sing a happy little tune as they flit about.

Red-winged blackbirds are back from their migration, filling the air with their signature tumbling song.

A hungry Oriole stops in for a snack on it's way to nesting grounds further north.

My bluebird comes by each day, delighting me with his brilliant color and his voice.
When I wake up in the morning, I take time to just listen for a while.  In the winter it is rare to hear birds call, except for the ever perky chickadees, who deedle around no matter the weather.  But now that breeding season is here the air reverberates with songs of a dozen species. It is the gladdest sound.