Thursday, February 28, 2019

nearly wordless thursday

 the daily snow

 tiny Iris in the wild

Piper going down to check the mail

somewhat surreal


Monday, February 18, 2019

someone else's snow

from a photograph (with permission)
by Bill Robertson, Westmorland, England

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

wednesday with ice

Please enjoy the sight of Azalea, back up on her bench today and looking relaxed and happy. Hard to believe that exactly one week ago I could have lost her. Life, as they say, comes at you fast.

Beginning yesterday, we've had several fresh inches of heavy wet snow, followed by hours of sleet that added a hard crust. The smallest goats can almost walk atop the crust, but not quite - every few steps a hoof goes through and sinks. It makes for very lopsided and off-balance walking, which, for sure-footed goats, may be annoying. Or at least unsettling. I think several of them eased their feelings by redecorating the barn this morning:

Mineral Tub: pushed out the door and emptied.

New divider: one board shattered.

My chair: hooked from it's corner in the back of the barn, and tossed out the door.

I felt like a landlord, visiting my rowdy tenants the morning after a party.

Everything is coated in ice again, and while I was doing evening chores tonight, more snow began to fall. I'm not even going to check the forecast - I'm already doing everything I need to do, whether there's a blizzard or a thaw. I'll let it be a Big Surprise this time.

I hope all is well in your neck of the woods,
whether it's winter or summer!

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Friday, February 8, 2019

azalea update

Friday morning update: 

Azalea ate an entire carrot's-worth of carrot pennies this morning, and after I had returned to the house, she ventured out of the barn - with her mama Lily of the Valley by her side and her son Mallow trotting along behind - and into the roundtop to the self-serve hay dispenser. I still don't know what caused her to become ill, and I'll continue to watch her closely to be sure she is eating well and is fully recovered. But for the moment, I'm feeling much relieved!

Thank you very much for your concern and kind words - it meant a lot to me when I was sitting out in the barn for most of yesterday, trying to watch Azalea without making her feel that she was being watched :)


Wednesday, February 6, 2019


Azalea isn't feeling well. She was off her feed last night, and today I've spoken with the vet and spent the day doing everything that can be done to help her feel better, with no apparent improvement by evening.

Now there's a cold rain falling, everyone is settled for the night, and all I can do is hope Azalea has a comfortable night and will feel more herself in the morning.
Not eating is a very serious matter with goats.

Fingers crossed.

Monday, February 4, 2019


The black goats - especially the solid black goats - are always difficult to photograph.
So I was very pleased to get this portrait of Sambucus today.

Did you notice her lovely little smile?

I think Bui deserves to have an entire blog post, all to herself.

Saturday, February 2, 2019


This morning when I stepped outside to pick up an armful of stovewood, I was delighted to find the air warmer than expected. Maybe as high as 20F, I thought. Almost balmy.

I can generally estimate the temperature within a few degrees, so on the way back inside I checked the thermometer by the door: 11F.



After a series of very cold days and nights, I apparently need to recalibrate my internal thermometer!

There is ice everywhere, and most of it is now under six or more inches of powder. This is not a great situation, and I've been very careful going from house to barn to workshop to stilt barn and into the paddocks to fill water buckets and distribute hay.

There are de-icers in both big water buckets - huzzah! - but I still use smaller buckets at times, and they freeze quickly. If they freeze overnight I can't just break the layer of ice on top - I must thaw the ice enough to get it out of the bucket. Here's how, in case you've never done it and ever need to: turn the frozen bucket upside-down and slowly pour a little warm water over the bottom and sides. Listen for the sound of cracking, and then one quiet thud. Lift the bucket off with a boot - to keep dry gloves off the wet bucket - and find a wide-based crystalline vase of ice, with a core of water that trickles out and leaves an huge ice goblet.

Last week I took photographs from inside these hollow cores, looking out through the curved walls of ice. There's one at the top of this post, and here's another:

Winter can be hard. Why miss an opportunity to have fun?

Today I actually had to leave the place for the first time in a week: get in the truck, deliver the recycling, pick up a book from interlibrary loan, and do some grocery shopping. When I got home in the afternoon it was still very cold but not too windy and off-and-on sunny, so I decided to take time to visit with all the goats and then do evening chores early.

Tsuga says, "Yes, do come visit!
And do you have something good in your pocket?"

While I was sitting in the barn waiting for the last goats to finish their grub,
Rocket discovered bootlaces.

He'd never seen them before, because I usually wear pull-on rubber barn boots. But today, since I had just gotten home after being out In Public, I was wearing my "nice boots" which I bought last month. They are like calf-height, waterproof, insulated slippers with rubber soles. And very long laces. Rocket took one look and knew what had to be done.

Here are Azalea and her little boy Mallow - not so little anymore! - hanging out on a bench after having their buckets of oats. Everyone gets a little something extra to help stay cheerful in this ongoing cold, snowy, icy snap; extra oats, with a little sweet feed on top, and carrot pennies for afters. Even my careful rationing of hay - I feed multiple times in smaller amounts each day instead of the total amount all at once, to reduce waste - has gone by the boards for the time being. In weather like this, I believe it's more important to have hay available to everybody, all the time, than to avoid waste.

The sky looked like this for just a few minutes,
as I was coming back to the house after chores.
I'm so glad I didn't miss it!

The forecast says the weather is going to change tomorrow.
And then warmer.
I'll definitely be wearing the pull-on rubber barn boots.