Monday, May 26, 2014

and the winner is

First, a big thank you.
When I posted this giveaway, I was not expecting
the inspiring and imaginative range of ways
people have come up with to support shelter cats!
Thank you all for the pleasure of reading your comments.

The trusty sequence generator at chose the winner:

nicewitch on ravelry!

nicewitch wrote:

Whenever I spot humane live-traps and good-condition animal carriers for sale at yardsales or in the classifieds, I buy them and donate them to our local charities running TNR [Trap Neuter Return] programs. My donations this month include boxes of books for a fund-raising book sale, and food and cleaning supplies to the humane society . Of my four current cats, one was a semi-feral who chose to come to me when he was injured, one was brought home by another semi-feral I was already feeding, and two were neighbourhood dumps -- I couldn't live without them!

Congratulations, nicewitch, and thank you for being such a good friend to cats,
both in the wild and at home.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

at your request

More baby goat video, taken yesterday morning.
This time, with some words!
(Move over, Chris Chibnall.)


By the way, I want to assure you that the little black doe is
just as energetic and bold as her brother,
and the little silver buck also spends many hours sound asleep
and oblivious to his sister's repeated efforts to rouse him with a prodding hoof.

Their individual - and frequent - energy peaks are a bit staggered,
which seems rather tough luck for Lily!
But both kids are already so agile (mostly) and
so reliable about coming when she calls them (mostly),
that yesterday Lily decided she could have a few minutes of "Me" Time,
alone in the Chalet, while the babies were sleeping 20 feet away in the barn.

They grow up so fast, don't they, Lily?
Hide the car keys.



A few minutes after I saved that videofile to my laptop yesterday,
I went back out to clean the barn.
When I reached down to pick up a water bucket,
my camera fell out of my shirt pocket. 


Straight into the water bucket.

It's been drying ever since, and I'm trying to be patient.
Tonight I'll put the battery in and press the On button.
Fingers crossed!

Meanwhile, just on the off-chance, 
I looked up my purchase info.
Lo and behold!
I had the foresight to pay for 
the Unfortunate Water Bucket Incident Service Contract,
and it should still be in effect.


Saturday, May 24, 2014

giveaway tomorrow!

In all the recent flurry of baby goats, let's not forget the giveaway!

The winner will be drawn after midnight ET this Sunday,
so you still have this weekend to enter,
or to share the link. Please do!

I hesitated to make specific suggestions for the donation category,
because no one has to donate money to enter.

But someone pointed me to this online option which I thought was such a clever idea,
I've decided to share it here. (And this way, I'll know where to find it again.
This blog has become a big part of my functional memory!)

The $5.00 Castle for Shelter Cats - a heavyduty cardboard "castle" that provides precious private space for an individual cat while at the shelter, then transforms to a carrier for the adopted cat's trip to it's new home. Bonus: it's made in the USA.

The Greater Good website is a very "busy" place, but if you are interested, this link will take you directly to the Cat Castle page.

So, if you've been wanting to enter the yarn giveaway but haven't gotten around to it - 

or if you just want to tell your friends you've "bought a castle" - 
there you go!

Have a lovely weekend, everyone.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

a little video experiment

A few seconds of goat video...
low on plot,
high on drama!

It's Day Four for the kids, and this morning Lily invited them to follow her down the ramp
for the first time without assistance from The Staff.

I love Day Four.

I'm playing around with my little camera's "Record" feature, but since Blogger refused to accept the video (or tell me why), I had to upload it to YouTube first.
Not sure how I feel about putting the goats on YT.

Plus, it took ages to upload!
Unless I can figure out another way to edit and upload,
I doubt there will be much video on this blog.
But for now, since I've already uploaded these little clips...

That's big sister Tsuga making a cameo appearance at the beginning.
Lily gives her a couple of bumps to say,
"Watch it now! There's a little baby here and another in the stall!"

I followed Tsuga in and found she was not at all interested in the other kid.
In fact, her head was so deep in Lily's grain bucket, she couldn't see a thing.
I shooed her back outside, and took a little more video of both babies on the ramp:

They played and explored and visited their relatives through the fence.
After I cleaned the barn, I picked up the kids - 
who were then approaching the barn-building scrap lumber pile,
which I will now have to remove - 
and carried them up the ramp and inside.
They had been wide awake moments before, but once back in the barn,
they both went straight to their little cubbyhole under the bench,
and fell fast asleep.

And so ends another Adventure!

So exciting.
So exhausting.
Bring. It. On.

Monday, May 19, 2014


Lily of the Valley

I've been trying to get the little barn organized quickly
because two of the does, Lily and LeShodu, are expected to give birth
sometime between the 13th and 26th of May.

I had hoped that Lily, her yearling daugher Tsuga, and LeShodu
would share the barn for a while,
but that peaceful interlude lasted less than 24 hours.
LeShodu started throwing her weight around,
so I moved her into the Chalet
with the similarly assertive Violet and Sambucus.
Lily and Tsuga have been temporarily enjoying Sole Occupancy of half the new barn.

And over just a few days, I've watched flighty Lily relax more and more.
It's been very pleasant to see.

This is Lily, casually examining her bucket:

"Is it worth getting up for?"
No. She just pulled it over with her nose
so she could eat laying down.

That's right, Lily. You take this chance to be Queen of the May.


With a list of small pre-kidding projects slated for the barn,
a weekend of "100% chance of rain" was a bit of a concern.
Hammering and drilling and sawing would drive the goats outdoors,
no hammering and drilling and sawing on a rainy day.

It rained all Friday night, as predicted.
Here's what Saturday looked like: 

Yes, 100% chance of rain looked like this:

Joyfully seizing the day for the gift that it was,
as soon as morning chores were done,
I commenced hammering and drilling and sawing!

I had a lot of input from Tsuga:

And supervision by the team of Acer and Bet:

The priority task was building a simple bench for kids to tuck under,
with a choice of cubbyholes:

I added cleats to the goat ramp for safety,
attached hardware to the dutch doors for individual use,
ran a heavyduty extension cord from the workshop through the barn wall,
set up a drop light and remounted the goatcam,
swept and rebedded the big stall,
fetched hay and unloaded it,
stored 900 pounds of feed,
and ran a hose to the paddocks.

It was a splendid, magnificent, glorious day!

This morning, like most mornings lately, I was a bit tired.
I've been waking up about every 2 hours to check the goatcam.

So today, although another nice day weather-wise,
was not likely to be a very productive day.
Kind of a lazy, slouchy Sunday, actually.
Sun porch, chaise, audiobooks and watching the birdfeeder.
Catching up on PBS programs on the laptop.

And in the middle of "Call the Midwife,"
I heard a strange bird.
I looked across the porch at Piper.
"Did you just say, beep...beep...beep?"

Then I heard it again.
And I headed for the barn.
A very loud, very insistent, very newborn goat was calling. 

And here's where Lily decided to have her babies this year:

Under the new barn.
Possibly a swell choice for a wild goat.
Not ideal, from my perspective.
Or, really, from Lily's perspective.
Because the first kid, the one who was beep-ing,
had started to stumble off, half-bathed, even further under the barn.
Lily, who was in the process of delivering the second kid,
could not go after the first kid because it is apparently hard
to crawl into an increasingly shallow space whilst giving birth.

So I slid (that sounds much smoother than it was)
under the barn, like a mechanic going under a car but 
without benefit of a wheelie-board,
got my hands on the first half-cleaned kid
(the not-yet-cleaned part was not only gooey and slippery,
but also coated in a layer of earth)
and slid back out into the light of day.
Checked his nose, gently toweled some earthen-coating off,
and set him on a nice pillow of clean hay
in the barn.

Went back under for the second kid, who had had less attention from Lily
and was therefore as gooey and dirty as a newborn kid can possibly be.
Unlike the very vocal silver firstborn,
the black one was quiet, and struggling to get all four legs working.
(The struggling was a good thing, though. Long hind legs can be tough to manage.)
I told Lily, who was still under the barn and shouting about two inches from my face,
that both babies would meet her in the barn, and started inching out.
Lily and I got to the stall simultaneously, and she got right to work:
cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. 
She really is an excellent Mamagoat!

I promise there will be better pictures soon,
but for now, I thought you might like to see exactly what I'm seeing.
It's after 2 AM and I just checked the goatcam:


Friday, May 16, 2014

rainy friday

If you are looking for the giveaway,
it's right here!
Please join in - you have plenty of time.
I am so happy to read the comments
and think about all the wonderful things
you lovely, lovely people
are doing to help shelter cats.
Thank you for sharing your ideas with us,
and your kindness with them.

Thank you also for your comments and suggestions about my seedlings.
Last night I moved one into a big planter,
for an experiment in container gardening.
It's the only one of six seeds that germinated:

It's a cucumber called Poona Kheera.
Have you heard of it? Do you grow it? 
It sounds rather unusual,
and has lots of features I hope to appreciate.
Last year, my vines did their very best,
but time was not on their side.
Good luck, little Poona Kheera!
(I think I'd better find out if it is self-pollinating.)

Today has been muggy and gloomy, in the 60s, with rain off-and-on all day.
I walked around outside between showers, thinking, dreaming,
planning where everything will be planted.
Piper flatly refused to accompany me on these watery walks,
so no pictures of her today. Sorry!

But I did find these violets,
which had furled themselves up last night as usual, 
and wisely remained furled today.

(Maybe that's what Piper was doing on her couch. Remaining Furled.)

And here is the jack-in-the-pulpit you saw the other day.
Wait...was that yesterday?

Is it not amazing?

I gardened around this plant last year.
and will be happy to do so again.
Magical plant.
One of the first woodland plants I remember from my childhood.

Tomorrow is supposed to be rainier and hotter.
Sounds like a good day for...housework.
But then, the forecast has changed: four days of 10-20% chance of rain.
So if the ground has a chance to dry out,
maybe all the seedlings can be planted early in the week after all!
That is, if I don't panic and buy bigger peat pots,
and transplant them all this weekend.
Gardening is so dramatic!
Or is that just me?

Speaking of me, when downloading my camera
I found a surprise.
It took a moment to figure out what it was.
First I thought it was some random piece of Piper.
Then I recognized a non-Piper ear and realized...
I must have tripped the shutter while I was cleaning the lens.

And that is how I discovered I'm going grey.

Clearly, parts of me are already there.

Funny, I notice so many details about so many things,
but this quite obvious fact had gotten right past me!
I had to laugh.
Have a lovely weekend, everyone!
I'll be spending part of the rainy Saturday
enjoying a good catch-up on all your blogs.

Thursday, May 15, 2014


I've been watching Spring appear on blogs all over the northern hemisphere. 
Watching and waiting.
Waiting and watching.

And now it's here.

It's HERE!

Wildflowers are coming up,
the early leaves showing the nipping effects of frost.
(And sometimes, hens.)

It's not always a smooth entry into Spring. 

But the plants prevail!

There's green everywhere, but also purple.
Lots of purple.

And soon, unless we have more frost (or snow),
there will be tiny yellow lilies blooming here.

It's the madcap rush of Spring.
The view is changing by the hour.


With the little barn up,
I must now focus on the gardens.
And quickly.
Lots of prep work still to be done, 
but I had to wait for the heavy equipment
to come (and tear things up) and go
before making final decisions about locations.


I think some of these little seedlings
are ready for the big world.'s rainy today.
And rain is predicted for the next nine days.
NINE days.
(That's just how far the forecast goes.
For all I know, there's another 31 predicted.)

So, what should I do?

Should I be trying to get these fragile, housegrown plants
into the ground right away?
Or should I be glad I haven't planted them already,
just in time to be washed away? 

I don't know the answer, but I hope you do!
These leggy seedlings seem to need more 
than their tiny peat balls and a window,
and someone to turn the trays around every day.

Dear gardeners:
How can I help them through this phase and into
a bright and productive future?
Advice very welcome!


And one more picture,
of one of my very favorite trees:
Fagus grandifolia, American Beech.

Beautiful at every season.


Sunday, May 11, 2014


It's time for a little giveaway.

This time, it's fibery in nature. It's this lovely yarn, hand-dyed by the wonderful
Blue Moon Fiber Arts: Socks That Rock, Silkie.
81% superwash merino and 19% silk...very soft and pretty.
So soft, in fact, that I don't think it is really a "sock" yarn. More a "soft-on-the-skin scarf" yarn, or "luscious cowl" yarn or "beautifully shaded hat" yarn or...
but that's up to you (the winner).
You won't need any guidance from me.
If you hold this skein in your hands, you will know exactly what to do.

And if you don't, you will have a lot of fun deciding.

This time, in order to enter, you have to do something.
One of three things. Any one of the three will do.

First, choose any cat shelter. 
(That's not one of the three options; in knitter parlance, that's the set-up row).

Then make any type of donation to help the cat shelter of your choice.
Just a little support for the wonderful work they do every day. 

You could:

1) make a monetary donation of any size at all, which can be as simple as dropping your change into a cat shelter collection jar on your next shopping trip


2) contribute a bit of your time or talent to help out in some way, large or small (not necessarily at the shelter; for example, you might volunteer to help at a fundraising event, or donate your skill as a photographer to help your shelter publicize the cats available for adoption)


3) donate something from the shelter's "wishlist." Most shelters have such a list, often on their website. It may include simple things like soft old towels for bedding, or paper towels, or even postage stamps for the shelter's office mail. I just learned today of a shelter that has an Amazon link on their website, so kind contributors can have wished-for items shipped directly to the shelter. Nice.

If your shelter does not have a website or a wishlist, just call them and ask what they need. Chances are, they will have a suitable suggestion or two. And they will be happy to hear from you.

That's it. Just do any one of those three simple, wonderful, helpful things.

Then leave a comment on this post. 
You don't have to say anything about your specific donation if you don't choose to; what matters is that you've done it. So just do it, then comment. If your entire comment is "Done!" you are in the drawing.

And be sure I have a way to contact you if you win.
Random drawing on Sunday, 25 May; winner's name posted on the blog Monday 26th.
I will be happy to send the yarn anywhere on the planet,
at my expense, and with my very best regards.

Thank you so much.

Please share this giveaway in any way you choose...
links, tweets and word-of-mouth much appreciated!


Thursday, May 8, 2014

the new little barn

The past ten days have been a bit of a blur, due to a combination of two very different things: four appointments that meant hours spent driving and sitting in waiting rooms, and trying to get ready for the builder coming to put up my new little goat barn.

Last week, the builder said, “It'll be Tuesday or Wednesday, and I'll call the night before.” I got cracking and found that tackling big tasks one day with frequent rest breaks, then doing multiple smaller chores the next day, also with lots of rest breaks, was getting the job/s done. (And I would like to take a moment right here to thank whoever invented electric heating pads. I am so, so grateful!)

Monday night I was stumbling-tired, so I was relieved when I did not get a call from the builder. That meant the crew would be here Wednesday. Tuesday could be spent puttering through the last of the smaller tasks in the morning, before facing the final, major project of taking down the last half-a-bungalow in the afternoon. Everything would be done and dusted well before the Wednesday morning arrival of the builder.


So, early Tuesday morning I was lounging around with a nice breakfast glass of banana mango kefir, wondering how long the residual achiness of the prior day would last, when the phone rang. At 6:30 AM.

It was the builder.
His plans had changed, he said. He would be at my place at around 9 AM.
“Great!” I said. “See you then!”

Ten minutes later, I had done some pretty zippy muscle-stretching routines, and was out in the paddock. The goats worked on their breakfast buckets while I gathered up tools, then I gated them out of the upper paddock so I could take down some of the fence for temporary access. And I got cracking on the bungalow removal. I never stopped moving til the builders arrived at 9:30, but by golly that paddock was ready for them!

I had planned to just get out of the way once the work had commenced, but after the third time I got called over for a decision, I stuck around and worked on tasks within easy hailing distance. I didn't build a barn, but I sure got a few other things done that day.  Never any shortage of tasks around here!

The doors were built beforehand, which saves site-time.
The dutch/stable doors would be hung in one piece, then cut;

The construction went quickly, so between noon and 1 PM, I took some snaps.
I think you can click to embiggen all of these.

The spots on some of these pictures are from raindrops.
There were several brief, light showers.
It's been like that all week, really,
and it's been pleasant.
A little soft cool rain in the middle of tearing something down
or building something up
can be quite refreshing.

The above picture shows about half the space,
with a Quinn-comparable human for scale.
Although it may look big in some pictures, at 10 x 20 feet, this is a tiny barn.
Or a good-sized shed.
Not sure what to call it, really. Suggestions welcome!
Any ideas?

In the above picture,
with my soon-to-be-reclaimed(!) 10 x 12' workshop on the right,
you can see the building emerging as a whole.

My design was simple: like a run-in shed.
But with a doors. And a floor.
And with openings cut for big windows, which I will add.
And with dutch doors all across the front, for maximum flexibility:
for temporarily fencing off interior areas, with separate entrances;
or reducing access of rain or flies by just opening the bottom doors;
or keeping snow out but letting fresh air in, by just opening the tops.

Oh, and there's a single, ordinary door on the west gable wall.
That's the Staff Entrance.

When we first discussed the design back in January,
the builder was dubious about putting
four, four-foot-wide, dutch doors on a 20' wall.
He thought I did not understand that all four doors could not be opened
all the way, at the same time.

But I did understand that.
And I agree that it is not ideal, but it is also not a problem.
I'm all about The Flexibility.

For example, here are two doors open, one door closed, one half open:

And a lawn chair inside, for scale.
(Am I overly concerned about the scale?
Wide-angle shooting can be useful, but also very misleading.
If you ever visit, I don't want you to be disappointed!)

As unbelievable as it seems,
especially considering the crew didn't arrive until 9:30 AM,
the job was done by evening and we all shook hands and said
thank you very much and
let's all do this again sometime real soon.

The heavy equipment rumbled away and I dragged myself back to the paddock 
to drive fenceposts and wire three stock panels securely into place
and pick up every piece of goat-mouth-sized construction detritus I could find in the paddock.
Then I called to the four girls and they all came up to the gate.

And finally, I opened the gate and stood back.

I really didn't need to stand back.
It wasn't exactly a stampede.
There was just enough light to take a couple of shots of the initial encounter:

Seriously, now. Where is my Bungalow?

Not sure if I ever mentioned this, but goats do not like Change.
Even good change
Is Not Good.

I have several small projects ahead, including
building benches along some of the inside walls,
adding useful door hardware,
and putting in screens and windows...
but nothing pressing.
This is the fun stuff.

And the goats are slowly warming up to the new monster that ate their bungalows.
This morning after breakfast, I saw Lily and Tsuga sleeping under it.
That's a start!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

much to do

It's overcast and - sorry! - all these pictures are murky. Could we pretend this is a deliberate artistic attempt to create an atmospheric experience for you, the reader? 
Thanks for playing along!

Piper and I just got home from a little walk in one of our new favorite places. You've seen it before; the woods road that runs between a wetland and a stream. Here's the wetland, on the east side of the road. That conical structure way out in the water is a beaver lodge:

Lots of rain lately...every time we've gone to this spot, the wetland has been draining across the road before falling into the stream:

Piper thinks this is a huge improvement.
If a dirt road is good, a dirt road under water can only be better!

She runs on ahead, while I putter around taking pictures of things like this birch:

and these ferns:

until Piper comes racing back to see what's keeping me so long.

I was dull company for Piper today. I'm tired. Really tired.

The builder I hired back in January called; he plans to come next week to build another little goat barn in the upper paddock. This is great news! But before he gets here, I must prep the site as much as I possibly can.

It's a lot of work. I must dismantle the two bungalows completely, and move all the pieces to...somewhere. Remember when my crew built the second bungalow last Autumn?

Both bungalows did a great job this winter.
Better than I could have expected, given the snow.
And the snow, and the snow, and the snow.

But the new little goat shed will be replacing the bungalows, so they must be removed.

Once I got started, it was clear there would be peripheral tasks such as dragging/dancing numerous 16' wibbly-wobbly stock panels through undergrowth and rocks into another pen, and rerouting some of the existing fenceline.
Pulling out fenceposts. Whacking in fenceposts.
Much got done yesterday.
It was a long day.
One bungalow is gone. Several stock panels have been moved to another paddock. The goats now have access to a little lean-to, which is a good dry spot to feed hay. The new fencework is functional, if not pretty.

I don't want to totally remove the second bungalow until the day before the builder is coming (he said Tuesday or Wednesday), but I may take half of it down this weekend because it's going to take hours. The stuff I build may look like it's held together with hope and duct tape, but I'm often surprised at how hard it is to un-build. Maybe it's the sheer volume of hope and duct tape? I don't know.

Another big necessary task: cleaning out the thick, dense mat of decomposing hay that has accumulated all around the bungalows and in the pen during this past winter. The builders need to start with bare ground to have even a prayer of getting a 10x20' building level in this paddock.

All the hay and muck will end up in the lower garden as excellent mulch, but getting it there is going to be truly difficult. I may end up forking most of it into a big pile this weekend to get it out of the builders' way, and then moving it gradually, a few trugs at a time, over the next few weeks. The daily trug-to-gardens method is how I've been keeping the barn clean all winter, but I couldn't do that in the paddock, because of the deep snow. So the top layer of hay where the goats were sleeping was always fresh and dry, but underneath and in the pen was a growing layer of interwoven mucky hay. I talked to one goatkeeper who had to use an axe to cut into the mat of accumulated bedding in his goat shed this winter. Mine isn't that bad, but it isn't going to be fun. That stuff is heavy.

Gosh, I had planned to take it easy today to give my muscles a chance to recuperate before spending another long day tomorrow. But now that I'm describing what needs to be done, it's making me a little anxious about getting the site ready in time. I suppose I should either stop writing about this, or get up and do some work. I wonder which it will be.

Piper's right here on the porch. I'll see what she thinks.

It's your call.
But whatever you decide, would you keep it down?
I definitely choose recuperating!