Saturday, January 26, 2019


Iris, Vinca, Rocket

My Very Occasional Helper was here for 3 hours yesterday,
so together we made a little progress on the barn.

Iris was also a Big Help.

Although I couldn't help feeling that she had questions about the whole idea of turning the airy, spacious barn into four narrow cubicles.
Not exactly cubicles; more like slip stalls.

"Why? WHYYYY?"

Lately I've been noticing that tiny Iris has grown.
There have even been a couple of times when she was standing apart from the other goats - so, no frame of reference - I wasn't sure if I was looking at Iris or her brother, the chunky Rocket.

"Now I am a BIG goat!"

But then I see her next to an average-size human,
and she immediately becomes tiny again.

Big on personality, though!

That's one thing that hasn't changed since the day she was born.


Wednesday, January 23, 2019

wednesday with words

Quite often when I'm on the porch looking out at the goats,
there's a goat standing in the barn or paddock looking back at me.

We've had some genuinely brutal weather since the snowstorm on Saturday and Sunday; bitter cold and high winds. This has meant extra rations for all, and an extra check every day to make sure everyone is comfortable. I shifted Violet and Sambucus up to the barn paddock which has extra options for shelter; that just leaves LeShodu and the four biggest boys in the stilt barn and south paddock.

Extreme weather also meant two nights of going out around 8PM with a flashlight, and tying the three meanest does in one side of the barn so everyone else could get into a shelter for the night. The wind was blowing from the northwest - not typical - which made one of the shelters into a wind-tunnel; more goats than usual needed to be in the barn. I don't like tying goats (except when they are having their buckets of grain) but there was simply no alternative.

As a result, I've decided to replace the old bashed-up stockpanel dividers in the barn, using solid boards. It will make the barn much less convenient to work in every day, but for the rare situation like this recent weather, it will be helpful to have the option of four separate stalls with doors. Small group suites. No tying.

Today it was warm enough to work outside for an extended time - halelujah! - so I began making one such divider. I had a lot of help.
That's Rocket, above.

And here's little Iris:

Unfortunately I had to stop when I needed an extra pair of hands to help shift long, heavy boards from a stack under a snow-covered tarp.

Despite years of practice at looking on the bright side, hitting that kind of previously-surmountable hurdle in the middle of a task can still sometimes mean discouragement or frustration. Today it was discouragement, because I was too exhausted to feel frustration! I'll shift those boards soon, when I've got someone here to lend a hand.

Meanwhile, we are now expecting 24 hours of rain, on top of the frozen snow. Should be interesting out there. I'll be dusting off my cleats.

Winter is here!

Saturday, January 19, 2019

gardening tip

It may seem early, but isn't Winter the best time for planning gardens? I learned a useful thing today, so I'm going to share it now, lest I forget to mention it when Spring rolls around.

Last year, with the luxury of the little tinkertoy greenhouse ("Q" as I called it, which I genuinely believe is the only pun I have ever made in my life), I planted many types of seed in a variety of containers, but all filled with a high-quality organic soil purchased in bags at the feed store. I puttered in the greenhouse every day, and enjoyed it tremendously.

Fortunately, the last of the trays of seedlings had just been removed to transplant when a tree fell right across the greenhouse, destroying most of the frame.

In happy times. Before the smash.

I haven't yet decided how I'm going to start everything from seed again this year. I loved having the headstart of a little greenhouse, but I don't think I can afford to buy another - I bought the first one on a half-price sale, and was hoping to use it carefully for years. The method of having little covered trays on windowsills has never worked out well for me, so I really don't want to do that this year. Well, perhaps I can cobble together some way of reusing the greenhouse cover, which survived.

Anyway, back to the gardening tip.

Since some of my flats had low germination and some seedlings were attacked by invisible bugs and died after sprouting, I'd like to re-use the organic soil from those trays. So I emailed the company and asked if I should sterilize it first.

Here is the answer, which I hope a reader or two may find useful. I'll skip the part where the person recommends buying new soil, and skip to the good news:

"Old mix can, however, be sterilized for reuse. It will not be as fresh, but the sterilization process will ensure it is pest and disease free. In fact, I sometimes sterilize fresh seedling mix when I am starting prized seeds. To sterilize mix, I place it in a large, oven-safe pan, add some water to moisten the mix, and then cover it with aluminum foil. Then I bake it at 180-200 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 30 minutes. The soil’s internal temperature should be at least 180 degrees F for sterilization. Allow the mix to cool before use."

So there we are. It will be interesting to see what baking soil smells like. If anyone tries it - or has tried it in the past - please share in the comments!

A real snowstorm is predicted to begin this afternoon and continue right through Sunday as either snow or freezing rain. I'm going out to batten down the hatches and also take Piper for a little walk in the woods before it begins.
Happy weekend, everyone!


Sunday, January 13, 2019

more color

Remember "Daily Markmaking 2018"?

Reflections below the Dam

I actually did it.
Some kind of markmaking, each day, for a year.

Dried Tansy from the Garden

As the year ended, I thought about whether or not to continue,

and I just didn't see any reason to stop.

This watercolor was from the first of January:

Shoreline reflection in Pond

Now I must decide whether to count continuously - in which case, tonight's effort will be #378 - or to restart the clock with January 1st being #1.
The digital files add up, and it is fun to look back at a month or a season.
It will be easier to do so if I keep them labelled and organized.

The Moon on a Cloudy Night

Isn't it hard to believe that January is already halfway gone?


Sunday, January 6, 2019

the color of january

There's plenty of color in January.
A New England winter may not be as green as other seasons,
but it's beautiful all the same.


Friday, January 4, 2019

crystal clear

See anything familiar in this photograph?

How about now?

I took Piper for a little walk in the woods by the pond today.
It was very cold, but the air was crystal clear and the sky, pale blue.

At this time of year, when it's safer to just assume that something is "in season" for hunters, and also that people may be hunting where it is not allowed, I keep Piper on lead until I'm as sure as I can be that there are no other people in the area. Then I let her roam a bit.

While I take loads of photographs.

We had a fine time.

It set me back on chores, and tomorrow I'll probably be gritting my teeth while trying to move extra hay because my back was aching too much to lift bales when we got home. But I'm glad we went. Especially since freezing rain is now predicted to start tonight and continue right through Saturday night.

I can move hay in freezing rain if I have to, but a blue-sky walk in the woods with Piper is a "seize the day" kind of thing.

Thank you for all the nice comments on the 2018 Pictorial post - it was a tough choice to pick just 12 images from the 99 blogposts I wrote last year! For those who were interested in the fisher snapshots, here is a link to the "always learning" blog post from back in the Spring.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

2018 pictorial