Sunday, September 17, 2017

reflecting on summer

At the grocery store it suddenly hit me:
I haven't tasted watermelon even once this year, and it's nearly apple season!

We didn't have a Summer this year in my neck of the woods. We really didn't. What we had was a Mud Season that went on and on and on, and simultaneously became what is known in Massachusetts as "wick-id haht." All the paddocks have been awfully wet, and the little barn paddock never dried out - ever! It's still muddy and slippery despite the hay "stepping stones" I recently threw down in desperation so I could get to the various shelters and feeders with less risk of falling. Like their goatherd, the goats also step carefully from spot to spot on the hay, and not because they are silly or "spoiled," in fact, just the opposite. These goats have the survival sense to try to keep their feet from becoming diseased due to constant exposure to moisture. And I appreciate this trait, because although I do my best to keep up with frequent checks and trims, if we get all the way to Winter with healthy hooves this year it will be some kind of miracle.

Campion feels that his hooves are PERFECT and he would appreciate it if I would please STOP checking and trimming because it involves a human (me) Touching His Feet! UGH!!

Continuing with the theme "Summer, Lack Of": a few words about the gardens. if you've been reading Comptonia for more than a year - and I know some of you have been reading it since the beginning for which I thank you very much - you know I put a lot of determined effort into growing as much of my own food as possible. It's important to me economically and from a health perspective.

Well, if I was genuinely dependent upon what I grow to get me through the Winter, this is without doubt the Winter I would starve. The relentlessly rainy months made planting difficult for the gardener, and growing a challenge for the plants. After finally managing to plant - and trellis - about 40 feet of pole bean rows, I harvested a total of two and a half handfuls - literally - of beans this year. The okra is about a foot high now. My fingers are crossed for the Candy Roaster squash which are currently in valiant flower, as are the Suyo Long cucumbers. If you look closely, you may see a tiny cucumber on this vine:

Even the hardy perennial flowers have struggled, and I've been sketching and painting here at home more often than in the woods this year, in appreciation. Below are a few days from #DrawingAugust, each done either just before or just after a rainstorm, in a little spot between the perennial gardens and the stilt barn.

This folding chair has been kept in the stilt barn, dusty but dry,
and ready to set up for a quick session with watercolors or pen:

If you were sitting in that folding chair and looked down by your feet,
you would see these violet leaves:

If you then turned your head slightly to the left, your eye-level view would be a wild tangle of hyssop, bee balm, and goldenrod:

When the mosquitoes forced your retreat to the porch,
you might endure them for one more minute while you stand and dab a watercolor sketch of this unidentified butterfly enjoying the bee balm:

Even though it hasn't been a Summer, these past few months have provided occasional sunny moments and, eventually, precious and colorful flowers for which I am deeply grateful. More than once a drenched but stalwart daylily was the highlight of morning and evening chores.

And in case you missed it in the picture above, here is a closer look at a tiny cucumber with flower still attached, tucked back behind the stem:

Fingers crossed!


Just a quick blogistics note...

When I put up a new post, I usually respond to comments on the previous post at the same time. My internetting has been in fits and starts recently, so this may mean a lengthy delay between your comment and my response - sorry!

Comments are one of the best parts of blogging, and according to the blog stats, I receive an average of roughly one comment per 100 pageviews - you folks are a quiet lot! I do try to stay in touch either through comments on your blogs, or here. I just want you to know you may have to look back to the prior post for a response to a comment you've made on Comptonia.

Does that make sense?
I hope so.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

goats for sale

Every once in a while someone contacts me through the blog
to ask if I sell cashmere goats.

Yes and no. I don't breed with an eye to selling stock - if I did, I would be routinely breeding all my does, which I don't - so I rarely have goats to sell. But right now I do. So I thought I'd just mention it here in case anyone is interested or would like to pass the information along.

I know each of my goats very well, and am happy to provide my opinion on which goats would be suitable for a particular home and "job"...such as invasive plant control, giving a handspinner some very nice fiber to play with, or providing companionship and entertainment.

My email address is linked in my profile, and is the easiest way to send specific questions about my goats. For general information about cashmere and caring for cashmere goats, this link to the Cashmere Goat Association website is very helpful.



Sunday, August 27, 2017

gone and back again

An exciting thing happened Monday.
No, not the eclipse.
The reappearance of this character:

Zebra Mouse.

Last Autumn, Della found it. All by herself. I had never seen it before - I can only guess it was in the bottom of the little bag of treats sent along by the shelter. It became Della's very own special toy. Moxie played with lots of things; Della played with Zebra Mouse. It was very little - as was Della - and it was fuzzy with bright white stripes and a tail made of curly feathers. By November, when the picture above was taken, Zebra Mouse had clearly been through the wars. I was rather touched when Della surprised me by placing it on my keyboard, inviting me into the game.
(I'm not much good at sports, but it is true that I can throw a stuffed mouse farther than anyone else in this house.)

Then - cue dramatic music - one day last Winter, Zebra Mouse disappeared.
Della didn't know where it was. Moxie didn't either.
Sweeping and vacuuming were futile - I tried! And I asked my Occasional Helper to please keep an eye out for a small, ratty-looking, greyish lump.

But months and months went by...

...and Monday, Zebra Mouse was back. On the carpet in the middle of the parlor floor. A couple of feet away from Moxie, who was not playing with it. She never had.
I think Moxie found it for Della.

Mox is very talented at finding things. In this picture, she has found a tiny frog*:

Moxie has been eating a little better, and being a little bit more active for short periods of time. I think she devoted one burst of energy to fishing Zebra Mouse out of whatever crack in the universe it had fallen into.

And oh my gosh, the excitement level around here has skyrocketed! These pictures are blurry because Della is in constant motion. Constant, happy motion.

 Thanks, Moxie!

Now, the other disappearance/reappearance of Monday.
I had no special plans for watching the eclipse, but about five minutes before it began to be visible in my neck of the woods, I made a little camera obscura with a cardboard box, and went out to the garden by the south paddock. Here's what the sun looked like in the box, just before the eclipse:

The sky clouded up just as the actual eclipse was beginning. So I stopped stumbling around with my face stuck in a box, and turned to see this:

Fern, watching my performance.
Unimpressed by eclipse.
Wondering if there's something good to eat in that box.

We've had some really nice weather this past week, so I've been mostly off the computer and outdoors: taking Piper to the woods, catching up on a few outdoor chores, and painting a little. Trying to cram as much "Summer" as possible into every non-raining day. Still plenty of mosquitoes, so it feels authentic.

I hope you all had a great week - here's to the one ahead!

*I rescued the frog.