Monday, August 22, 2016

monday already

It rained last night, but I slept right through it - quite a surprise when I went out to do the morning chores today and found a world soaked and dripping. And cool! Today has been the most pleasant day in ages. Breathable air! A refreshing breeze! Ahhhhhh!

I rarely sleep through rain, but maybe I was still tired from Saturday, which was - by my current standards - an event-filled day.

It began with an amble around the Hardwick Fair, camera in hand. I've never been to the Fair at that time of day. It was quiet and relaxed and I took lots of photographs. But chasing the morning light was not the reason I did chores at dawn and got down to Hardwick so early. No. It was all about the Pancake Breakfast.

I have never been able to make pancakes, and after many, many disappointments and wastings-of-food over the years, I am willing to admit defeat and just go somewhere every year or two and buy pancakes made by someone who possesses the superhuman skill apparently required to make a decent pancake. It's worth it!

As the day started heating up, I headed home but stopped at a yard sale and found some treasures. Highlights: a small hardwood turntable-thing which will be beautiful with just a little sanding, I think, and a deep Pyrex frying pan with lid. As I was trying to decide on a small lamp (would it fit on the porch windowsill? would it be heavy enough that I wouldn't knock it off, like the other one?) I got a text from a friend inviting me to ride shotgun on a trip to the distant feedstore where our Chaffhaye is delivered every six months or so.

A trip along forest-lined roads, with someone else driving, in a vehicle with real suspension? Heck, yeah!  It was a fun trip, talking goats all the way in both directions. About four hours later I was back home with ten 50-pound sacks of feed in the Little Green Sportswagon, offloaded from my friend's truck when we got back to her place. (I had only 500 pounds; she had a ton. It's swell to have a friend with a truck and a sharing attitude!) I also bought Piper a new toy at the feedstore; don't tell her. It's a surprise to celebrate her recent dental work :)

So if Saturday was a madcap romp, Sunday was more or less a recovery day. I did drag the feed out of the wagon, but apart from that and the routine chores, very little got done yesterday. Not even drawing! I've missed three days of #DrawingAugust, so today I made this ink sketch of a little larch branch I'd picked up on a walk with Piper last Autumn. I'll try to keep up the drawing momentum for the rest of the month, even if it's a only a few minutes each day. It's often hard to start, but once begun, I get pulled right in to the process and it's really enjoyable.

I hope you had a great weekend, and your week is off to an excellent start!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

votes for goats

I don't do much with facebook. I joined because it's the only place my local animal shelter posts information, and I have since found that many companies offer coupons and specials on facebook that aren't posted anywhere else. But I have no desire to become facebook-proficient; blogging and twitter and ravelry seem the right combination for me, with just an occasional visit to facebook.

Like yesterday, when I discovered the makers of Chaffhaye were having a "Cutest Goat" photo contest on facebook, with a prize of 10 bags of Chaffhaye. I don't usually use my animals as contest material, but this time it makes a certain sense. In addition to their hay and oats, my herd eats about 50 bags of Chaffhaye every year, so if the goats could bring in 10 bags for themselves, that would be pretty nice!

And just as I was thinking "must post this contest in my goat group on ravelry," I saw that entries were closing - in about 40 minutes! No time to share, or even to ponder my own gallery of "cute goats" - I chose the very first one that came to mind.

You've probably seen this image before, as it's one of my favorites. It's Lily of the Valley with her brand-new first baby, Tsuga, back in 2013:

I always got a kick out of this image, because Lily looks like the good mama she instantly became, checking that her baby's jacket is properly fastened. And Tsuga's sweet, confident expression looks like she's saying, "My mama loves me Very Much."

(Excuse me for a moment, there's something in my eye.)

The voting starts Monday, with randomly-paired pictures, and goes on each day  until there's a single winner. (I think. It says "tournament style brackets" and I think that's what that means.)

Now, I know many of my readers are on facebook and enjoy goat pictures, so maybe you'd like to take a look? If you feel like voting please don't think you have to vote for Tsuga; vote for the goat you think is the cutest! I expect every picture sent to the contest will feature a totally adorable goat, and it won't hurt my feelings if Tsuga and Lily don't win. Those other goats have to eat, too!

UPDATE, Monday noon:

I just checked the Chaffhaye facebook page, and there are 80 (!) entries, divided into four "pens" - but no pictures up anywhere that I can see, and no info on voting. Maybe they had a much bigger entry than expected, and it's taking some time to get it organized.

 Here's what it said about the brackets and the voting in the original instructions:
  • Each day (starting on Monday, August 22nd) we will present the matchup of the day starting at 7am EST. At 5pm EST we will end the voting and determine the score by the number of “likes” (1 point)  and shares (2 points). The winner will be announced and moved forward in the bracket.
  • After each matchup for the round is completed, we will continue to the next round and so on until there is only one Cutest Goat Photo!
So, I guess I'll just check back later and see what's happening. If there are 40 pairs of pictures to vote on today, they'll probably want to give people a little time to look at all of them. Imagine: eighty cute goats! :)

MORE UPDATE, Monday 1:30PM

So the "first matchup" was posted as two separate pictures, entry #1 and #2, and each is accumulating votes in the form of Likes and Shares until 5PM, when the winner of that vote will be determined. If Chaffhaye is going to put up only one pair from one "pen" each day, this contest will be going on for a loooong time! Probably by tomorrow they will have figured out and announced any change in the original system; I think they must be blown away by the number of photographs they received. Bet they're glad they limited entries to one per person!


Thursday, August 18, 2016

nearly wordless thursday

Too tired to write much tonight, but wanted to give you an update on Tansy -
happy to say, she is doing well :)

Also, wanted to share this little watercolor portrait done yesterday:

I am tickled to bits that it not only looks like a proper goat - which would have been enough of a thrill for me! - but it's actually recognizable as Tansy.
I was so surprised!

Last year I drew my first successful goat portrait - Lily of the Valley - and now, an entire year later, this is my second. Got to love #DrawingAugust.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

cucumber salad and ginger beer

I often describe the weather, because it plays a major role in my ordinary life.
But complain? No. What could be more pointless?

There are times, though, when just describing something can sound very much like complaining, so I think I'll not write about the weather at all right now!

A goat note:

I want to thank my readers who have sent good wishes about my poorly goats. Campion is back to his usual self, which is a huge relief. The digestive system of a goat is a lot more sensitive than we are led to believe by the cartoon goat eating tin cans. It is critical that the system remains active, and a goat not eating at all is a goat heading for a dangerous situation. Happily, Campion's digestive system is very, very active again :)

Tansy (left) and mama Tsuga, in front of the fan

Tansy's lameness is a mystery. She is slightly favoring her near fore, and I can't even determine if the discomfort is from the foot, leg, or shoulder - when I gently examine her, she doesn't react as if any point or any movement is painful.
We are now soaking her entire leg, from hoof to elbow, in a warm epsom salt bath for 20 minutes daily, and I'll tell you what: this is a perfect example of why I take the time to collar and tie my goats for their daily feed buckets. No goat wants to keep a leg in water for even 20 seconds. If simply being tied was also an unfamiliar thing, the entire experience would be that much more stressful for the animal. For both animals involved, really. As it is, Tansy is being very good, and we are having long, quiet conversations about exactly how good she is.

I am hopeful the soak is helping. It's certainly not hurting.

summer menu 2016:

Ever since my cucumber plants began producing, there's been a quart jar of cucumber salad chilling in the fridge. It started with my blog-friend Tipper's post about cucumber salad, and the helpful comments her readers left with their own favorite recipes. 

I've enjoyed cucumber salad for breakfast, lunch, supper, and insomniac snacks. By itself, or with cold tuna added, or with a few cubes of very sharp cheddar on the side. First, I made it with the Suyo Long cucumbers from Sow True Seeds, which, coincidentally, Tipper sent me back in the Spring. Thanks, Tipper!

Suyo Long

The current batch was made with a combination of Suyo and Poona Kheera; the Indian cucumbers grown from leftover seed (I just checked: the seed was from 2013!) planted for the heck of it and now producing madly.

 Poona Kheera start out green and yellow, then turn beautiful shades of brown:

I haven't yet figured out the ideal stage at which to harvest them. But as with summer squash, if I let cucumbers grow so long they develop tough seeds, it's the work of a moment to scoop out the core and present it to the delighted chickens. And both Suyo and Poona Kheera have lovely edible skins - no peeling, extra texture, and not a bitter bite so far.

Pretty tasty!

The other staple of summer 2016?
Ginger beer.
Fever Tree, when possible.
With ice.

I drink water all day long anyway, but many afternoons this summer I've enjoyed a cold glass of ginger beer. So refreshing!
It's the little things that help us along, isn't it?

What are your favorite foods and beverages to help you through seasons of unspeakable weather?