Sunday, January 21, 2018

sunday snapshot

This morning, Della tried a new way of telling me,
"Time to get off the laptop."

She was right.

Thanks, Della!

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

the markmaking continues

 One of my clothesline posts.
This post was old when I was young.

One of the bells hanging by my temporary gate.
I jangle them when I pass.
The sound cheers me, and lets the goats know where I am.

From a photograph taken a few months ago,
walking in the woods with Piper.

Shriveled fruits of a Maple Viburnum.
From a photograph taken this week,
walking here at home with Piper.

My sketchbooks are developing a unique topography...
an unplanned effect of painting with a very wet brush
on very inexpensive paper.

Most of the daily markmaking has been taking place at night, when I wake up and can't get back to sleep. This has unexpected advantages! For one thing, the process is unencumbered by the daytime pressures of all the waiting tasks tugging at my mental coattails. Also, it is extra-satisfying to create something in a period of time that would otherwise be fretted away in wakeful unease. So, keeping a sketchbook, a pen, and a few watercolors by the bed has turned out to be quite a good thing.

But still.


Between you and me?

I'm a photographer.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

pick a window

After a day of mild temperatures - very welcome, as you might imagine - we had hard rain for a solid day and night.

It was still raining this morning, which is when I took these pictures.

Quite suddenly, the temperature began to drop. To plummet, really.

 In three hours, the temperature dropped about 35 degrees.
Really. I checked it twice.

And then the sun came out!

And a bitter cold wind began to blow, which continued all day and was still trying to take my ears off when I put the critters to bed this evening.

The temp is dropping back down to zero tonight, and our highs are not predicted to rise above freezing again for a good long while...but at least the forecast is for single digits instead of negative teens.

I know not all of my readers are experiencing winter right now, but for those who are: stay warm and safe! 
And for those who are experiencing Summer: send pictures!


Friday, January 12, 2018

this week in goat world

All the ice and extremely cold weather has been causing a bit of hoof trouble, and I've been keeping a close eye on several goats. Now that there is a break in the cold - it has been raining non-stop all day and is predicted to go on straight through tomorrow morning - it was the perfect time for a hoof treatment for Campion (my Champion).

Being such an experienced goatherd and all, I carefully prepared and arranged everything needed. Each step was taken slowly and calmly: cleaning hooves, soaking, drying, trimming. Throughout the process, many well-timed apple slices were offered and accepted. Finally, the BluKote: a liquid hoof dressing that must be handled carefully because it stains everything it comes in contact with. There are usually a couple of little splatters, like this one on the leg of my dungarees:

But because I was being So Very Careful,
there was no staining of Campion's coat or my hands.

At first.

Then this happened:

Oh, Campion (my Scampion)! Such a prankster.
He waited til I was opening the full bottle of BluKote,
then jerked his hoof out of my hand and did a little spin.
Both hands. Front and back.
I wonder how many days it will take to wear off?
Place your bets!

In happier - and less purple - goat news,
Cloud Harvest Cashmere had a visitor on Tuesday:

Start the countdown for Kidwatch 2018!
Vinca may become a mamagoat around the 8th of June.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018


I'm generally up well before dawn.
In the wee hours of the morning, in fact.
Some would say "the middle of the night."
When it's completely dark outside, unless there's a bright moon.

I do some routine morning things in the house: breakfast for Moxie and Della, breakfast for Piper (unless she's sleeping in and "will have brunch later, please"), unload or reload dishwasher, clean litterboxes, tend the woodstove, have something to eat or drink. Random puttering. You know the type of thing.

So when I first go outside, here is what I usually step into:

Can you see the string of fairy lights between the barn and the workshop?
(May have to left-click the image to enlarge.)

Those little lights give me a cheery lift every time I see them.
They will probably be up til Spring.
Maybe year-round.

The view from my window looks very much like that picture right now, so out I go.

LOTS going on today...will plan to post pictures and words tomorrow!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

january snow

This is how the snow began, shortly before I went out to do chores this morning. It was relatively balmy - over 10F! - but when I came in, I was wearing quite a lot of snow despite my efforts to brush myself off on the doorstep. This kind of snow collects quickly; the goats who had been outside looked like heavy-coated sheep. But compared to the day-after-day well-below-zero weather we've been having, I think even this heavy snow must be a bit of a relief to them. I do hope we don't get the strong winds predicted to follow a foot of new snow; that's when big trees come down, and I have several that are vulnerable.

I had a big headstart on chores today, since yesterday the carpenter offered to move bales of hay out to stock up the various feeders before the storm. I would never in a million years have asked him to do this, but what a kind thing to think of - he accomplished in four trips what would have taken me at least 21 trips. Quite a boost!

Recently I've been missing the drawing and such that I was doing in the warm weather. So beginning on the first of January, I've begun doing a bit of daily mark-making. The first three are watercolors, working from photographs taken earlier.
(I currently have no interest in painting snow. Maybe in August!)

A little portrait of little Tansy, before she was covered in snow:

Today there may be painting and knitting! And lots of feeding the fire. I cancelled my Physical Therapy appointment, as it seemed foolish to risk going off the road or having some other mishap on my way to a healthcare appointment. And as the snow continues to fall heavily, and new inches pile up faster, the choice to stay home is reinforced as sensible. The air has been white for the past few hours:

Just going out to tend to the animals will be plenty of travel for me today. The barncams are unfortunately out of order and I've brought them inside to see if they can be revived. They've never failed before last week, but maybe the constant extreme cold in the past couple of weeks was just too much. This means more actual bundling up and trundling out to check on everyone, not just going out to feed.

It may seem counterintuitive, but especially in this sort of weather, the goatcams provide much more effective "care" than do frequent visits. When I go out to the barns, some of the goats always get up from their cozy snuggeries to see what I'm up to. And then other goats get up because they are afraid the first group might possibly be getting something they want. A carrot penny. A peanut. A short poetry recital.

And then, when the goats turn to go back to their special little spots, there are all sorts of arguments because every goat now wants a spot previously claimed and perfected by an earlier occupant.
Dear oh dear.
Barncams are just So Much Better.
I'll go nudge them a bit. If I can't get them working, I'll have to replace at least one.
I hope you are warm and dry wherever you are in the world today.
And hydrated! Easy to forget in the cold, but so important.

(Full disclosure: this is a 2017 image, but there isn't enough light to take the same view right now. And it would be a nearly identical view; that mug just about lives on that corner of the porch windowsill, within easy reach at all times.)