Friday, May 30, 2014

Some Good Ideas

We finished the goslings (still no names, Lyndy) new pen a few days ago.  I think it is great and they seem to like it as well.

They eat a lot of grass so we move the pen at least daily.  They sure are growing.  John had the great
idea for what to use for the hinged top.  

This spring I bought several trees in a group order with our native plant group.  Most are for the spring area or the pasture or the edge of the woods.  I couldn't believe how small many of them were.    The woodland dogwood on the right below is a fair size but look at the one on the left. 

 and look at these river birch, serviceberry, and hawthorne.  So my good idea here (kind of borrowed from KB) was to put the little trees in some pots with some summer plants so I would remember to water them and they are more shaded here so they won't dry out so fast.  Also, I am hoping the deer won't come up to the house and climb the steps.  I may have to move some of them up a step or too.

I love the feel of the front porch now.

 Another good idea is the shade sail we bought yesterday.  Tomorrow, I will check out the sun pattern to determine the best place to put it.  Sometimes, the fiber shed gets too warm to work in and this should help.

It feels so  good to get most of the things crossed off my list.  I even got some of the beds in the veggie garden weeded and several things planted.  I am helping out at a plant sale tomorrow morning and I keep telling myself it would be a good idea not to buy too many more plants.  I hope I will listen to me.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

People I Otherwise Would Not Have Met

I love sharing our farm and wool processing methods with people who come for a farm tour.  Most find us through the Lexington Tourism office or, (and soon, the Fields of Gold website) but some are sent or brought by neighbors or locals who know we are here.

Last weekend, we had many visitors.  Most came in one group.  I was talking on my cell phone outside, when 2 cars came up the driveway and unloaded, what seemed like, a couple of dozen people.  At first, I wondered if it was some people who were suppose to visit the day before, that did not show up.  As I made my way down the drive, though, I recognized one of my neighbors.  She had a lot of family visiting and they were thinking about going to the Safari Park but she talked them into coming to visit our animals instead.  When some of the sheep see children, they come running (just like the animals at the Safari Park) knowing that kids sometimes means treats.  Some of the sheep don't think dealing with children is worth treats.  The little ones and a teenager loved handing out some grain and pictures were taken by several of the adults.  A good time was had by all.  Usually, we know when people are coming for a farm visit but it is fun when neighbors drop in with family or friends.

On Sunday, an art teacher from Williamsburg came for a visit.  She had emailed a few weeks earlier, asking if she could see the sheep and their fleeces.  She has taught some simple weaving to her students.  She was telling me that her after school art club was weaving and she asked them if they wanted to explore some paint medium and they chose to keep weaving.  She went back with some different kinds of wool to share with her students.  A teacher, who came to our shearing event, did the same.  No doubt about it, kids are fascinated with wool and what you can do with it.

In a couple of weeks, as soon as school lets out, we begin 3 weeks of Fiber Camp.  Last year, we were totally booked but I broke my ankle the weekend after the first week and we had to cancel the other two weeks.  This year, there are fewer signed up, but I am excited about the extra things that allows us to do.  Many are returning because they loved fiber camp but it is always exciting sharing the farm and camp with first time campers.

I think I would say to people, who are lonely or short on friends, "Move to a farm and have farm tours and camp".

Monday, May 26, 2014

Parenting Can Be Exhausting

Small critters of any species are Cute for a reason.  Otherwise, no one would take such good care of them until they can take care of themselves.

It has now been 2 weeks that we have had the goslings and it looks like it will be at least another 6 until they are no longer hawk, raccoon, or possum food.  They are outside most of the day but I still have to change their water throughout the day and wonder why they are doing what they are doing.

We still have to bring them in every night and keep an eye on them during the day, so they are up by the house.  I want to move them down to the barnyard soon but it is too far to transport them twice a day so I would have to make a secure day and night place for them down there.  First we have to wait for feathers to come in, so I guess I have time to draw up some plans.  I told John, "what we need is a run with a dog house and a boat to swim in".  Actually, we have the boat (John suggested using our dingy) and plenty of wood to build a dog house.  I just have to figure out a run that will keep hawks and others out.

They stay in a big cardboard box in the mud hall at night but it gets wet from them constantly spilling water, even with rubber roofing and trash bags on the bottom.  I went looking for a new box the other day and got "we just got rid of all of them yesterday".  I thought, no matter I can get one at the recycle center.  We give them plenty of boxes so I thought they could give me one, but no, the new policy is "no one takes anything out of the recycle".  IT IS A RECYCLE CENTER, I just want to recycle some cardboard.

Today, I FINALLY finished the cushions for the cabin couch, so now tomorrow I can concentrate on gosling housing, manure spreading, a little mowing, and veggie and flower planting.

Remember to Remember  it is Memorial Day.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

A Delightful Pastime

I am sure Karen would agree that watching animals is a Delightful Pastime.  It is generally very relaxing because they know how to live and there is very little drama or anxiety (there is a little).

I was just watching the sheep is the cabin yard.  It is one of there favorite places to hang out.  They went straight to the forsythia.  But as I watched, Annie kept twitching her tail and constantly moving.  Was she stung, I wondered?  Then others by the forsythia were doing the same thing while the ones grazing on the grass were very peaceful, no twitching.  At one point 4 of the sheep took off running for the gate.  Not sure what was bothering them but they eventually decided the forsythias were not their place of choice today.  The forsythia is past bloom, but something is in there, Ii will check later.

Yesterday, Beverly and I sat in our two new summer chairs, watching goslings.  They eat grass, find worms, play in the tub of water, preen themselves, stand up tall and flap their wings, cuddle in the corner of the pen, and then begin the antics all over again.

The goose pose

Today, my priority is getting the couch cushions done.  So I set up the sewing machine in our bedroom where I can watch the goslings out the window.  What a good idea, and better light too.

I went down to move the sheep back into the barnyard and found that a few were inside the forsythia fortress but none on the outside where they had been before.  I went to check it out and noticed lots of insects, staying cool in the shade perhaps, but not annoying me.

In making sure the animals all had plenty of cool water, I noticed that there was a bag in the trough with an orange and white fish in it.  Exactly what I told my neighbor to do, but I never noticed that she had come by.  Oh well, now there are 3 fish living in the trough.  When I went back to make sure the new fish was O.K. with the new surroundings, I saw Clementine and Effinger just hanging near the surface.  Fish are particularly restful to watch and they stayed where they were until I raised my hand for some reason and they took off.

When I went back up to the house, there was John, sitting in one of the new white summer chairs, watching the goslings.  Definitely a Delightful Pastime.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

I Like Days Like This

We are having a downpour and there is distant thunder.  I love the smell and the feel of the cool damp wind.  I ate my lunch on the front porch on the fringe of it all, first at the table and then standing just outside the front door.  Now, I have moved just inside as the thunder rumbles and the hard rain still pellets the railing and steps.

On days like this, for some reason, people always say "it's a good day for ducks".  On Saturday, I brought 2 baby geese (goslings) home to Cabin Spring Farm.  Mother's Day, they spent the day in a big box in the mud hall, and Monday, I put them in a small pen to enjoy the outdoors.  We watched them eat grass, find worms, and splash in in a low bucket of water.  I watched them from the fiber shed as rain started coming down first lightly and then harder.  I went out in the rain to make sure the shade cloth wasn't collecting rainwater that would collapse it on the goslings.  Later, we went in the house and when John checked on them in the late afternoon, one of them was missing.  We were devastated and locked for him all over the place, with no sign.  On closer inspection we found that on one end of the pen the chicken wire was up slightly.  I guess we will never know what really happened to him.

I spent that night and the next morning feeling like I was a neglectful mom and I kept wondering why it happened and what I should do.  My wonderful supportive husband said he thought I should call the woman at the farm where they came from and see if there was a extra goose looking for a place to go.
I called and she did have a few extra males.  She was sorry for what had happened and said we could have another gosling.

Yesterday, John and I went to the farm in Amissville and this time were able to see more of their farm.  Saturday, when I arrived to pick up the goslings, they were in a box waiting for me and it was late in the day of a long day, so we headed right home.

The young couple at Crowfoot Farm have only been at farming for 5 years and they have more animals than Karen!  They raise alot of heritage breed so they have Hog Island sheep, Cotswold sheep, Dorky chickens, Cotton Patch geese, and turkeys and guineas and even peacocks, and at least one horse and cow.  The geese raise the goslings so we had to go find the right clutch.  We saw several pairs of geese with their goslings running to keep in line, a funny sight.  The right one was found and scooped up and the others went along their way with seemingly only a brief moment of anxiety.  

Back at Cabin Spring Farm, the new gosling was introduced and the two spent the afternoon in the pen with several ground staples added for security.  

Today, is a good day for ducks but the geese are spending it inside.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

As Promised - photos from my previous rotation

A Magical Place in Maine and reflections.  When I was 4 and 5 years old my grandmother had a farm and I remember walking to a big rock with a butter and sugar sandwich to have a picnic.  I am pretty sure the rock wasn't this big but it brought back the memory when I saw it.  Does anyone else see the sculpted face?
We found this trillium in a wet area near the brook

This is part of the future goat pasture, I think.

A calm pool in the brook, now that is a magical reflection.

 There are stone walls all over the property but they wouldn't hold any goats in.  The sheep clammered over a stone wall, here, just last week.

This is a spot picked for a special future purpose

 The brook changes character all through the property. Sometimes rushing and other times so still.

This farm is currently home to a very special person and 2 cats, that I know of.  I wonder how many other creatures call this place home.  

I returned from Maine yesterday but stopped on the way home to pick up 2 new creatures that can now call Cabin Spring Farm home.  Stay tuned.  

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Rotating is Good

The new fencing is working out great.  A few days ago, it was time to move the sheep to a new pasture so I went out to the rails to switch them from one set of posts to another and the sheep came down, waited patiently, and ran into the new pasture with longer grass, dandelion blossoms, and an assortment of other new vegetation.

Rotating is Good.  I am in rotation now myself.  I am currently in Maine, exploring and consulting with Rosemary, who has been stewarding a 1790's house on 52+ acres of magical land for almost a year.  (pictures coming soon when I rotate back home where my picture transfer device is)

Yesterday, when walking part of the property, we saw a Trillium, patches of Bloodroot, and  other earlier blooming wildflowers.  With this rotation, it seems, I went back a calendar month to the first break of spring.  The deciduous  trees are just beginning to leaf but there are a great many species of coniferous trees in all stages of life.  There are signs everywhere, of previous human intervention; rock walls fashioned in different configurations, pieces of fencing, parts of irrigation systems, stumps of 100 year old trees, flat stones over the upper part of the brook.  I wish we could rotate back in time and see the mill working off the brook and see what some of the other stone walls were built for, and by whom.  As it is, we must just use our imagination.  While we were imagining, we envisioned 50 goats clearing some of the berry canes and other overgrowth in the future pasture areas.  We came back to the house to check Craigslist for someone needing to find a new place for their herd.  Instead we found a guy who had 10  21-29 foot fiberglass sailboat hulls he wanted to rotate to a new place for shelters for sheep, goats, or pigs.  He had a good imagination as well.

We ended the day by burning some brush and roasting hotdogs on a stick over the fire.  A, I, H, and M joined us for dinner.  A was in charge of the foil potatoes for the coals, I & H whittled the points of the hotdog sticks and helped feed the fire, and M, at almost 2, copied everything everyone else did.

I am hoping to do a couple of quick rotations before I find myself home, where I will be able to provide photos for the imagining readers of this blog.