Friday, May 24, 2019

a week of kerria

The Kerria japonica began to bloom a week ago.

This is my favorite phase - simultaneously displaying all stages of buds and blossoms.

This shrub was here when I bought the place, and has grown and grown.

This year it is vast: an intricate, wind-dancing marvel.

After one week, most of the buds have now opened.
The entire shrub appears more gold than green,
and glows even on a rainy day:

The flowers are rather delicate.
From now on, every rain and strong wind will leave petals on the ground.
I wanted to share it with you before that happens.

Daily Markmaking last night: Kerria japonica, 2019.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Sunday, May 12, 2019

postcard: piper

Greetings, faithful readers and also anyone who just happened upon my blog.

The laptop is back.
It is working just about as well as it did before it was sent for repair.
This is a tad discouraging.
Actually, it's very discouraging indeed.

Also, the hard drive was wiped, so everything has to be reloaded and reset.
It's taking a while.
I'm not rushing. I really can't rush.
Because every time I try to do one of the things I used to do routinely,
I hit a dead end and have to download software first,
then consult or reload saved files from my external drive back to the laptop.
This does not always go smoothly, and it never - literally, never - goes quickly.

That said, I will keep plodding along in my spare time, and hope to be back writing actual blog posts soon. Meanwhile, I will at least continue to post a snap or two just to say "hello."

Speaking of which, during my laptop-less period, I've tried to read and comment on your blogs via my phone. Sometimes it worked. Many times, I laboriously tapped out a comment only to lose the whole thing, including the page itself, when I tried to post! I don't know if my clumsy fingers were at fault, but it's quite likely. So, if I haven't said hello via your blog comments, please know it wasn't for lack of interest - 
or for lack of trying.

Piper says, "Smile! Might as well!"

Monday, April 22, 2019


The wild ginger is beginning to unfold!

It's been 10 days of internetting on a wing and a prayer...reading blogs and sometimes managing to leave a comment, but not blogging. Using twitter because it's short and fast, but rarely succeeding at posting even low-resolution images - which I don't much enjoy posting, anyway.

Raindrops on new columbine.
Nearly every photograph I've taken lately has been during, or just after. a rainstorm.
It's been...wet.

Short repair recap: after two visits - the second today - from a very nice Tech person, and five new parts, HP says I now must send the laptop in. The good news is, I'm still under warranty. The bad news is, I will now be internetting on my small, non-fancy cellphone, for who knows how long.

In the past week I’ve already begun to feel sort of isolated and with the prospect of sending the laptop to sleep-away camp, I can almost imagine myself drifting right out of the internet and vanishing.

I guess we’ll see!

The maples began flowering on Saturday!
Even in the rain, there is a reddish tinge to the canopy.


I want to tell you about a fundraiser to get an MRI scanner on Shetland. I’ve been following this community effort for a while, and was especially impressed by a woman who went out and gathered seeds from native Shetland wildflowers to sell in little packets for the MRI fund. Unfortunately for me, she couldn’t send them to the US.
But what a great idea!

And now...a lovely woman has handknit a Fair Isle pullover and is selling it on eBay with all the money going to the MRI fund. If you’ve ever wanted a genuine Fair Isle sweater, here’s your chance to bid on a beauty. It’s got soft colors and is made of vintage Patons Moorland pure Shetland wool. Did I mention hand-knitted?

Please pass this info along if you can –  I'm not sure how much "reach" the knitter has, and it’s such a good cause. And it's such a generous gesture on the part of the knitter. I am in awe! Please share my awe!

Here is what I hope is a working link to the eBay page

I wish I could post a picture here. Even if you are not interested in acquiring a wooly sweater, it’s worth a click just to look at the pictures. Check out the view of the inside!
Well, I just dropped it to say hello, spend a couple of hours trying to upload photographs, and then go back out in the rain to move goats for the night. The photographs loaded slooooowly but they seem to be here - huzzah! Maybe I'll try to load some drawings and schedule them to post while my laptop is away. Like sending postcards. Just so you don't forget me :)

Friday, April 12, 2019

remain calm

breathe in, breathe out

Remain calm. That's what I'm telling myself.

Part of the reason I've been blogging so little lately is that my laptop has been struggling to function. Yesterday I got a diagnosis: the hard drive is failing. Now I'm scrambling to salvage everything possible while random things appear and disappear, expand and shrink, and jump around the screen. Not a lot of fun, but I'm glad to have a chance to save whatever I can. I really cannot overstate how much of a communication lifeline and general world-connection tool my laptop is for me.

Replacement of the hard drive is already scheduled for the 17th, which will mean starting from scratch: reloading applications and restoring files. I saved 140,020 images last night, if the files haven't been damaged in any way by the state of the current hard drive. Time will tell.

Today I want to attempt to post this quick message to tell you one important thing:

the kids are named Hazel (the girl) and Bud (the boy).

I just tried to upload new pictures of them but the blog screen vanished twice - yikes. So please refer back to the earlier pictures, and apply additional cuteness. Thank you.

See you on the other side!

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

artsy tuesday

Despite the increase in daily chore-rigmarole and time happily spent admiring young cashmere goats, the Daily Markmaking has continued without interruption. Though the markmaking has often been quite rapid:


In recent weeks, as you might imagine, most of my sketches have been done in the paddocks or the barns...lots of paintings of rocks, trees, and mud. I haven't actually been painting mud, it has appeared in the form of snoot smudges.

pencil sketch of maple 

rare surviving white pine sapling
(beyond reach of goats)

standing dead and deadfalls
(within reach of goats)

For a long time I've been pondering the possibility of having some of my botanical paintings or drawings made into fabric.

It's very hard to make the leap for two practical reasons: first, because I no longer have software for graphics editing which would help immeasurably with the design and layout, and second, because fabric is not inexpensive.
Which is why, although I received a box of sample fabrics from Spoonflower weeks ago, I've hesitated to open it.

But today I did.

May be in some trouble now.

We'll see.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

somewhat wordy wednesday

I'm sorry about the recent lack of updates - cashmere harvesting is well underway, and it's been a challenge just keeping up with daily chores. I've been trying to write ever since I posted that one photograph of Azalea with her newborn girl, but more than once in the past week I have actually fallen asleep while uploading photographs. Jolting awake because you start to fall over in your seat is a very unpleasant sensation, and I don't recommend it!


Here is one of my favorite pictures of Azalea and her little girl,
on the baby's first outing in the barn paddock at 3 days old:

And here is another picture of them, taken this morning:

I wonder what has captured their attention?

Could it be...

 ...another kid?

Vinca's boy was born Monday evening.

Today, both mamas brought their babies out of the barn and into the bright sunshine.
It was still below freezing, but the day gradually warmed up to around 40F.

The girl isn't wearing her jacket because she runs around like crazy outside.
She still wears it at night, though - it's gotten down as low at 18F this week. 

In case you are wondering about names, so am I!
As I've mentioned before, all the goats born here have been named for something that was either blooming or leafing out when they were born.
You can imagine the difficulty I'm having in coming up with suitable names for these two, with the ground still mostly frozen.
Will I have to change my naming system?
I'd rather not.
Feel free to make suggestions.
I'm thinking of calling my BFF (Best Forester Friend) and asking if he's seen something I've missed. Even bud-break would qualify at this point!

Meanwhile, right on schedule at 10 days old,
Azalea's daughter tackled Goat Mountain for the first time:

And at not even 2 days old, Vinca's boy was doing extremely well learning to manage those long legs while climbing around the many obstacles in the paddock:

When Vinca was calling him this evening, I pointed out that
her baby had already put himself to bed in the barn.
He must have had the most exciting day of his life :)


Sunday, March 17, 2019

random weekend snaps

We've been having more strong winds.
These are not small branches.

I thought you might like to see what an
8-foot-wide hay bale looks like.
I probably should have put something on it for scale.
Piper, maybe.

A peaceful moment for Iris and Rocket.

Today Iris was combed for the first time.
Not so peaceful, but we took our time, got through it,
and were still friends at the end.

By the way, you can see why I've started calling her "Tiny Iris."
Literally from the moment of their births, she's been on the petite side,
and her brother has been on the solid side.
When you see them together like this,
the difference in the two extremes is really emphasized.

Daily markmaking continues!
This was Friday, #439: a dried zinnia head from last year's gardens.

This photograph of a hairy woodpecker could be clearer, but it was taken from 12 feet away and through two layers of glass. I'm glad I put this suet feeder close to the porch, because I've discovered the sound these birds make - a sort of whistly cheep, repeated, with a silent beat in between.

Every morning a woodpecker politely approaches the feeder,
and sounds so delighted and surprised to find the suet:
cheep?! pause cheep?! pause cheep?! pause cheep?!
It makes me smile.

I hope you had a lovely weekend!
Isn't it amazing how much daylight we're seeing now?
It's 7 PM and I can almost see the barn.
Even with the clocks moved ahead one hour, that's a nice change.

Friday, March 15, 2019


Tsuga looks pretty pleased with her branch.

We've had some strong winds recently,
which have brought down many small - and some not-small - branches.

Fern was perfectly happy with her branch.
Until she saw Tsuga's branch.

At this time of year, I only move branches and fallen trees if I'm going to trip over them. I can't afford the extra leaning.

Fern says, "Mama, why don't we share?"

The goats spend hours nibbling on branches and downed trees.
I believe they find nutrients in the bark, buds, lichen and moss, and even the wood.

Iris has found a little stick All For Her Own Self!

Or so she thought.
Brother Rocket decided he would like that stick

Tansy found a nice branch, but then reconsidered.

"I'll have my timber 'straight up' today!"

In other goat nutrition news, I had 1400 pounds of hay delivered yesterday.
This made me deliriously happy.

It's in two massive bales.
Each one is 8 feet by 3 feet by 3 feet.
They were delivered in about 10 minutes with a skid-steer:
up my ice-covered driveway and straight into the roundtop.
It was beautiful to watch.

Unlike standard bales, which are carried one by one from the roundtop to the barns and then opened up and distributed to the paddocks,
these bales will have to be opened in the roundtop and then large amounts of loose hay will be transported over ice and snow and - soon - mud.
I hate wasting hay, and loose hay is...loose. I don't want to leave a long trail of hay everywhere I carry it, twice every day.
So I'm going to try to come up with one all-season transport method that will be effective, efficient, and which I hope will not require buying anything.

Fortunately, I don't mind a challenge. And there's a weekend ahead.

What new fun are you planning this weekend?

Thursday, March 7, 2019

brief bird bulletin

I've been scattering sunflower seed on the ground,
hoping for a return of the mourning doves.

I haven't seen them yet.

Happily, I love cardinals, too.


Monday, March 4, 2019

back to normal

Again with the snow.

I don't know why the snowplow goes back and forth in front of my driveway,
over and over again.
It's a small road.
Even though there is a little intersection with another small road,
it seems like once or twice in each direction would do the job.

But the driver drops the plow with a sound like cannonfire
then scrapes loudly forward
- I can't think of an adequately loud grinding sound to compare this to -
for 15 seconds or so,
then lifts the plow and reverses a bit,
then drops the plow (BOOM!) and scrapes loudly forward again.
Over and over and over.
This morning I stopped counting at 16, but it continued on.

And this morning, as usual, it began at about 330AM.
This has been "normal" lately, including several times in the past week.

I am happy that the road is being plowed, but I wish I understood the method.
In general, I believe that when people understand what is being done and why,
there is a much better chance that everyone involved will be happy.
That's why I consider environmental education and forest management outreach programs two of the most useful jobs I've done so far.

So, if any of my readers drives a snowplow on back roads in a tiny rural town,
please talk to me in the comments.
I'd really love to be able to embrace these 330AM wake-up calls.

imagine big yawn inserted here