Saturday, June 30, 2007

I Mean It, This is One Cute Bunny

This bunny is so cute I want to post another picture of Sister Grace and her Travelling Bunny!

A Visit from Sister Grace and Her Bunny

Sister and her travelling bunny came to see the new apartment today. This bunny, who matches Sister's black and white habit, goes everywhere with her in a nifty travelling case. She is a very friendly, well behaved bunny. Sister was very impressed with the apt. which is housed in the end of the barn that Sister and her sister, Sister Bernadette, built along with their brothers and parents. I wanted her to see what a good job Matt is doing on building the apt. and how happy we are here. Sister is already feeding us from her bountiful garden. We dined on her Boston and Red Leaf lettuce tonight, along with boiled beet tops. Hmmmmm, good!

Sweat Shop

Kelly brought her husband Steve over to help Matt sheet rock the two bedrooms in our barn apt. While they guys were working we got to work ourselves and made curtains for the living room. We had a good time and made some very serviceable curtains out of fabric given to me buy an upscale store in New Jersey called White Lotus Home. They make organic futons and offered me a truck load of futon fabric they were no longer using. Some of it is just wonderful, including this gingham. Truth be told, I think I might take them down. I think they are too dark and I don't like the way they hang. I am so persnickity about some things...and my curtains are one of them. Maybe it's because I don't like anything to obscure the beautiful view. I think I better take the dogs on a hike up the hill and wait for the full moon to come up. That might straighten out my head.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Oh, the Indignity of It All!

Tommy Boy, my most photogenic and photograhed angora goat was shorn today along with 19 others. I have a LOT of fleeces, wool and mohair, to sort through. Jim Baldwin is so much fun to work with, telling jokes and chatting about funny situations and strange clients he's worked with. I was lucky to get him. He told a story and a new customer who called looking for a shearer. When the person said, "Well, I have about 25 sheep and 10 angora goats..." Jim heard goats and started yelling, HELLO???HELLO??? pretending to be cut off!!!!!. That's how most shearers are about goats. They have horns and loose skin, and they wiggle and bend into contortions when being shorn, giving the shearer fits. I was in charge of hoofs. Matt catches the goats who are contained in the far end of the barn. He will go in the pen and catch one, drag it over to the shearing area and through the gate. I am waiting with shots and hoof trimmers. I bend over and pull up all four hoofs, one at a time, between my legs and hold it with my knees while trimming. Colored angora goats have very hard hoofs and it's tricky to do it right. Each hoof must resemble a platform shoe when I'm done. Often flaps of hoof have grown over the bottom of it and I have to pry it up and trim it off. Sometimes I have to squeeze the handles of the trimmers with both hands it's so hard. And on and on. Meantime Jim is bent over working on a goat and I need to get my part done before he is finished because I have to hop up and scoop up the fleece, bag it, and sweep off the platform before the next goat comes in. So Maggie was a little wasted at the end, nursing blisters on the hands. We got the job done, cheek to cheek sometimes, and came out laughing. The goats were scratching and gnawing on parts of themselves they had not been able to get to for months...and looking very satisfied, but rather naked with their summer haircuts.

Goat Shearing Today

Finally! My goats will be sheared today. Big Jim Baldwin is coming from Cortland area to take the mohair off. It's been on them way too long. Full fleece has a short life and mine is gone beyond optimum time for shearing. Besides, it's hot and a sweating animal combined with rain equals felt. Ruined fleece equals a loss of profit - all that hard work and money gone down the drain. Have to start over again and make sure I get a shearer willing to do goats online for the fall. Goats are shorn twice a year, sheep only once. Can't risk flystrike - a hideous thing to happen to an animal.

Last night took a walk up back behind the barn to check out the other pond. It is manmade and was not dug deep enough. Could have been magnificent as a spring from uphill empties into it. Long range plans include digging another pond lower down which I can see without hiking. Ponds are great for livestock and wildlife. I have the perfect spot, fed by another spring.

The moon was rising in the eastern sky as we were walking - almost full with the man in the moon watching us. Little black clouds streamed over it as it rose. In the western sky a brilliant pink sunset was entertaining us. I turned back and forth, taking in nature's breathtaking cinematic masterpiece. I still can't believe I am here to live out the last stages in this gorgeous landscape.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

A Dip in the Pond on a Sweltering Day

Golly gee whiz it was hot yesterday - and steamy humid. A storm came through and blew it away so we could hike up the hill without too much trouble. Holly, Jasper and Pip took off and missed all the fun in the pond. The White Boys, Izzy and Bodie had a lovely time. Thor, Finn and Knut are not swimmers, but picked up the idea from Bodie and snatched the ball when they had a chance. Bodie just waited patiently - and sure enough they dropped it...but when Izzy gets it and runs around like a mosquitoe Bodie doesn't like it. Luckily, Mom has a couple hidden for Bodie in her pockets and the retrieving goes on and on.

A Nice Place to Sew

I am sewing inside the apt. for the time being. What a joy to look out the window and watch the sheep grazing. The pine window sill is the perfect perch for my iron. I love the afternoon light that pours into the room and makes it easier to see what I am doing. Speaking of light pouring in - I have to make some curtains pretty quick. The room heats up quickly with the sun shining in and with the roar of the fans we can hardly hear each other speak. We began deafening ourselves at an early age - him with power tools, me with Beatles concerts.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Bridie and Brandon Want to Come in for a Visit

There are pros and cons to living in the barn. I love it. I love the feel of a sturdy concrete floor under the pine boards. I love being up high off the ground. I love the exposed wooden slats on the ceiling, and all the rafters holding up the hay on top of me. I love the feeling that I am in a giant sturdy structure. I love the big windows where I have a great view of the field and the silos...but the critters know we are in there with them. When I leave the apt. and walk through the work room which acts as a buffer between we and them, this is what I see. A couple of times the bottle babies have scooted in between my legs when I was carrying things. Unfortunately, they are overwhelmed by the sight and smells of the apt. and suddenly let go with a big blast of little pellets. No lambies in my gleaming white and sweet smelling apt.! I am still giving them water bottles, thinking the kids will enjoy doing it when they come...and I can make sure they are getting enough to drink in this awful heat...BUT it is getting a little tedious. If they hear my voice they start screaming under the windows! Yes, I did create these little monsters...but they are so gosh darn CUTE!!

No Can Do

Matt wants me to help him carry in 27 sheets of wall board today - in 95 F. heat. As much as I want to get the bedrooms done before the kids come, I told him no. He's not used to hearing that from me. I am the can-do girl. The doctor even pronounced me a "Healthy Young Woman" (?!) the other day. Maybe tomorrow, when the temp. goes back down to the 70's...but then I have to go back to school for round 3 of the mediator meeting. I wish I could shake my co-workers by the shoulders and tell them to get real - don't they know there are Americans dying like flies in Iraq, being torn limb from limb???? And we can't get along? I remember when AJ signed up after 911. Six months later he found himself in Cuba in a hut with 30 Spanish speaking enlisted men from Jersey City. They only wanted to get drunk and watch Spanish TV and MTV, and hold wrestling matches on the floor when AJ was trying to sleep after duty. Did he cry and whine and ask for a mediator? No way - he learned to speak Spanish and get along with them!! I'm so relieved to have this job, which keeps my farm going and my belly full, so I try to leave personal feelings at the door and just say a great big HI!! Good Morning!! to everybody I see. It works...and gets me in the right head for the day. On a happier note, Big Jim Baldwin is coming on Friday to shear goats. Happy goaties and happy Maggie!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Llama At Rest Tends to Stay At Rest

I went out at sundown to take in the pretty colors and couldn't help but admire my boys, Chris and Breeze. I am still amazed at how handsome they are, and their lofty, proud attitude. It commands respect. I want to lie down and rest my head on Chris's back, the way some llama owners can do, but he would never allow it. He belongs to the flock - and that's okay.

Shabby Chic Barnhouse

My shabby chic apartment is taking shape. I've been digging out the hidden treasures from the tractor shed, and adding a few cutesie accents like my Rubber Duckies. Jan bought me some Rubber Ducky shower hooks! They're great (and so is she!) Don't you love the Z-braced pine panel doors, made from the knotty red pine floor panels? Denise, the teacher I share a room with at BOCES, makes these wonderful sheepy embroidered samplers. I like the way the black frames compliment the wrought iron implements. I found a roll of pale beigey/lavender gingham decorator fabric in the chest freezer in the shed and will make living room curtains with it. I will move the sewing machine in the apt. to sew in there this week. I have to run that machine like my life depends on it - how neat to have sewing as a summer job! I met a nice woman named Catha in Wal-Mart yesterday while I was buying some fusible interfacing. She asked me what I was making and we started chatting about sewing. She teaches it with a local Head-Start program and feels, as I do, that sewing should be part of every child's education. Thank Goodness it was part of mine.

Monday, June 25, 2007

My Globetrotting Daughter is Home

Mia came home from Europe yesterday, arriving at JFK from Dublin sometime in the afternoon. She made her way to Penn Station, was waylayed by the Gay Pride Parade, and finally got on a train to Morristown. In typical Mia fashion, she was at work at a local doctor's office the next morning. When I asked her if she was tired, she said no, and went on to tell me how happy she was that "I raised her to be tough." I swelled with maternal pride. We chatted about Norway and how she saw many waterfalls due to the glaciers warming, and how weird it was to be in the daylight all night long. Mia says my barn is prettier than any barn she saw in all of Scandinavia! We have a lot of catching up to do. I'm so happy she is home safe and sound.

Relief from the Heat

This is the only big tree we have in the barn yard. There are many places to find relief, including inside the barn, but the goats seem to want to join Finn and Knut under the big pine tree. They love the dust the dogs have stirred up, too. We have a hot three days ahead, then cooler weather. I still have last winter in the back of my mind and know that fall comes all too soon here in Central New York. So I can go the distance.

Auntie Jan is on the way out the door. She will be sorely missed.

A Lovely Visit Amidst Goatie Incidents

What fantastic weather we are having these early summer days. Jan is going home today, boo-hoo! - to get ready to travel to Illinois to help out an aging auntie in distress. I'm sorry to see her go, but I have so much to keep me busy and I have such lovely memories of our weekend together. So nice to have someone to drink coffee with in our jammies, and do some serious gossip about people we used to work with. Low and behold, I went outside to let the sheep out of the pen and there were three goaties in distress. One kid had her head through the wire, then back again, causing some serious neck twising. It didn't keep her from screaming her head off. Jan held her head still while I ran for the wire cutters. Red Tag # 4, AKA "Ruby" had her head through the wire, too. She's done it so many times she knows to wait until I come and guide her horns back through. It's the horns that keep her from disentangling herself. Finally, a fuzzy black goat kid who we missed while shearing last week had her bottom teeth caught in the mohair on her neck. It prevented her from eating and drinking, and can rip her teeth out if she were to pull hard. Jan and I chased her down and we got the mohair cut, along with some neck hair so it wouldn't happen again. She needs to be shorn pronto. A long coat of mohair can be deadly this time of year. It can get caught in the brush or on a piece of old barbed wire way up on the hill. The goats wouldn't be able to follow the flock back to the barn. I might never know the goat is up there until I count heads and go looking. Unfortunately, my dogs are not smart enough to give me the head's up, or stay with the goat until help comes. Jim Baldwin will come back and do the rest of the goat shearing as soon as he can. He's a big, good-natured fellow who is a lot of fun to work with and doesn't mind doing goats. I have some real tangled up goats due to the trouble I have had getting shearers who are willing to do goats. Jim is terrific and is willing to do goats. He says, "There are no challenges, only opportunities!" What a great attitude!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Auntie Jan Comes to Visit

My dear friend Jan came to visit for the weekend. She arrived shortly after I got home from work on Friday. Jan and I worked in the Special Ed. dept at Voorhees High School together before I moved north. We went to the Friday Fish Fry at Remember When in New Berlin. Two Miami Dade Metro cops opened it a few years ago and what a terrific place to eat, replete with stained glass lighting and antiques. They renovated the old Chase Memorial Hospital where many locals were born, including my neighbor, Chris Kupris. (His other siblings were born in the kitchen of the farmhouse.) Jan helped me at the Hamilton Farmer's Market on Saturday where we enjoyed gloriously cool, breezy weather. Business is picking up, with people coming back to buy things they saw the week before. I sold two bags, which did a lot to beef up the grand total for the day. Money is a concern, not only because I am unemployed for the summer, but the fact that New York State won't consider my farm a farm unless it makes $10,000 a year. Yeah, you get the picture. In New Jersey a farm only has to make $500! You can do that selling a few cords or wood, or Christmas trees on the roadside. So I am always under pressure to produce. We took the doggies up to the pond for a swim, always so much fun. Tanner and Holly are now good swimmers, chasing down Bodie in the water for the ball. Bodie is very skilled at snagging it and the puppies get frustrated and try to knock it out of his mouth. They had us laughing and shaking off all the frustrations of work, money, farm, etc. Jan made us corn salsa and fruit salad for dinner, what a treat. We sat in front of the TV skirting fleeces while watching M. Night Shymalamadingdong's "Lady in the Water." I am a "Signs" fan and have been disappointed with his films every since...but the loveliness of the day and happiness at having a friend visit made up for any shortcomings. The doggies enjoyed pouncing on Jan's fancy dancy blow up bed from Linen's and Things. You plug it in, press a button, and a full size bed opens up before your eyes. I just hope a doggie claw doesn't deflate the thing before she leaves!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Time to Stop and Smell the Roses...

I spent the day trapped in a windowless room with a professional mediator hired by my school to help my team figure out why we can't get along with each other - no kidding. What is it about the teaching profession? I have my ideas that have to do with Karl Marx and his angst, but they are not for this blog. I was really frustrated and keyed up on the way home. I happened to have my camera with me and decided to look for things that make me happy to photograph. Maybe that would help me shake off this tension. I did not have to look long. I found ducks, a Percheron and his Haflinger friend, a beautiful flowering field with round bales and a stand of pine trees, among other things. It really helped, until I got home and found out a good friend might have cancer - and she has no health insurance. How, oh how, can we afford billions of dollars to wage war and not take care of our own? It defies belief. So I rage at the machine, and thank the powers that be that we have some chance of getting a democrat into the White House who might, just might, be able to initiate universal health coverage. I know many people who can't afford insurance, like farmers and artists. They may pay for following their bliss with their lives.

My Big Yellow Hutch

I finally have a place for my giant yellow hutch. I bought it from a store in Morristown that was going out of business. They used it to display knick knacks, etc. It was a dark blue and I painted it bright yellow with glossy paint. It's been moved three times and got banged around quite a bit. I was going to paint it again but my friend, Kelly, said No! just sand around the edges. She is brilliant with stuff like that, so I did what she said. I love the look! Little bits of blue show through and the gloss is gone. Cissy loves it, too. She is the only kitty allowed in the apt. (so far) and she can get up high away from the dogs. Her twelve toes are great for swatting doggies who are trying to steal her food!

The View from my Window

When I look out my living room window and see the flock grazing on the hill I know why I came here. It soothes my soul. Matt is working hard on the apt. He put a door in to seperate my work room from the living area. You walk into my room first, then into the apt. This will help keep the flies out. My four poster is set up right in front of the big TV (well, bigger than what I had in the trailer!) When my DVD player is in I can watch Pride and Prejudice and see the detail in Lizzie's dresses (which I want to copy someday). I am putting my sewing machine in front of the window where I will also have this view. What can be better? After many years of sewing in basements, laundry rooms, etc. I will have the best seat in the house!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Monday, June 18, 2007

The New Family in the Chicken House

This little mom and her chicks are settled into their routine in the Chicken Room. They sleep up high on what's left of the hay bale I put in there for the chickens to peck at. The chicks are not hers, meaning, some other chicken laid those eggs and this hen decided to hatch them. The chicks are huge in only a week - not Olde English Bantams. It will be funny to see great big chicks following a tiny little mother around. My other Bantam mom has 7 tiny little chicks running around, and they are really tiny! I have to be very careful where I step when I go in there as they blend in with the hay. I asked Matt to make a chicken yard outside for them, but with the apartment, and the fencing, shearing, etc., it got bumped down on the list. Chickens really need to be outside to dig in the ground, eat bugs, etc. It has to be totally enclosed so cats or foxes can't jump in the top. Maybe I will build it myself when school is out. When the new mom and chicks made this nice pose I had to run back to the Milk Room for the camera. I just can't resist taking pictures of chickens. And when there are chicks involved...what could be cuter? (Well, don't get me started!)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Moving In!

After a year of plastic and polyester I can live with my furniture again. I forgot how good some of my funky old pieces would look in the barn apt. Randy and his cousin Greg came to help us move furniture. What a hot sweaty day we spent dragging pieces big and small out of the tractor shed, lifting them into the pick up and driving up the farm lane and carrying them into the barn. The washing off of soot and grime is my job. We even got my pine four poster out of the hay mow. We still have to paint the walls and most of the furniture is in my workshop/anteroom waiting to be washed and polished before actually moving it in. My biggest and favorite piece, my white breakfront, won't fit under the barn apt. ceiling (boo-hoo) and will have to wait until we build a house up on the hill - long range planning.

Mia called from Sweden to wish Matt Happy Father's Day. What fun to speak with her for a couple of minutes, truly, as her phone card zapped out when we had barely spoken. She had enough time to tell me how beautiful Sweden is and how she is a little homesick. I told her that's not allowed! She'll be home soon enough and she should enjoy herself! Now she is headed for Norway and a sail up the fjords.

I gave Randy his graduation gift today - my old front wheel drive Chrysler sedan. He was jumping up and down with excitement. All he has to do is get it running so he can bring it home! I drove it last summer when I first moved here. I was trying to get up my slick muddy farm lane so I put it into low and broke the linkage to the transmission, we think. It's been sitting at the bottom of the drive ever since. Now it will have a home and a grateful mechanically inclined owner.

Saturday, June 16, 2007


A studentless Friday afternoon gave me the time to go through all of the Greenberry House favorite blog list. I mean it, from start to finish. I did go a bit bleary eyed but it was a lot of fun. It made me realize what a technophobic I really am. All of those colors and fancy templates, with cutsey buttons and tabs and bells and whistles. Wow, I was humbled by the skill of those bloggers to make their blogs very snazzy. I remember how thrilled I was to be able to rotate a picture around so that a person or animal is right side up and then put the picture on my blog. But I can't figure out how to put that little picture of myself in the little box on the profile, you know the box that is next to the comment you send. I have a long way to go. Maybe Mia will figure it out for me when she comes back from Europe. She is in Sweden now after leaving Germany yesterday. Mia and Jenny tried to visit one of the concentration camps but found it closed due to a newly discovered mine from WWII that had to be detonated! Imagine that! I was hoping she could see Dachau, near Munich, where my parents lived post liberation. My two older brothers were born in the American Army hospital there and learned German as a first language. They came home to the US in time to have me. Willie and Freddie were begging to go home to Munich which they considered home. My mother loved it there. She lived in a castle that was divided into apartments for Army officers. People were always knocking on the door trying to sell things for food and cigarette ration coupons. Cigarettes were the hottest commodity. Mom said people preferred them over food. Go figure! Mia will attend a wedding in Denmark then sail up the Norweigian fjords before coming home. I admire the Norwegians and Danes (and Finns!) for standing up to Hitler, when my kinfolk in Sweden were complicit with the Nazis. Okay, I know we were taught they stayed neutral but now we know they were doing business with Hitler. Staying alive, staying alive, that's the name of the game. Let me go get my sheep inside the paddock, it's getting dark and I need to count heads.

My Little Velvet AKA "Monkey"

Here she is, enjoying herself on the rock pile dumped there by the excavator who dug my septic tank hole. The little goat has wiggled her way into my heart. Every time she hears my voice she screams and runs from wherever she is to be with me. Her eyes are a gorgeous blue and her mohair is soft and lovely. I still remember finding her lying flat on the hay and tube feeding her on Easter morning. I had come into the milk room expecting to find her dead, instead she was standing up in the laundry basket. She lived in that laundry basket on the oven door for several days, keeping warm in the freezing cold weather. When I tried to give her back to her mother, Celeste, she said no deal, I don't want that baby, I have one and that is enough. So Velvet became my responsibility and my joy.

Making Progress

I came home from the Hamilton market to find Randy and Matt working hard on my workroom and the future insulated bunny room. No more bottles freezing when the temperature drops. Bunnies LOVE their water and like to sip all the time. Frozen bottles are very frustrating for them, and me, because they have to be thawed in buckets of hot water. Randy shovelled away a pile of hay/dirt outside the door of the milk room that was bothering me, and tidied up the walk into the apt. The place is looking great. The guys moved my little refrigerator into the apt. No more tiny propane trailer fridge! I can have ice! Tomorrow they sheet rock my work room and I can actually move my sewing machine in there, so I can sew and look out at the sheep grazing in the field. The milk room with the concrete floor and drain will be used for making soap, dyeing and wet felting. Maybe I can finally get some fiber washed and dyed to be carded for fall shows. I can hardly move in here now, with fabric everywhere, soap making supplies, vet supplies, computer/office stuff and piles of laundry. Matt is pushing hard to have things ready for Hannah and Luke to come on July 12. I can hardly believe it is happening myself. I haven't seen them in a year - what a shame to miss all that growing and sharing. Long distance grandparenthood is a real bummer.

Hamilton Market Day

Crawled out of bed at six to make it to do chores and make it to the market on time. 8:30 seems to when I roll in and that's okay. Customers are coming in but vendors are still setting up. Kelly and her daughter, Lou, met me there. Kelly makes country primitive crafts which really compliment my things, so I invited her to join me. It's a nice time to relax and make new friends after unloading and setting up. Taking down is another matter, and I am always the last one. I have to pare down my booth so loading up is easier. I took the big truck so I won't have any more flying table incidents. The caterpillar invasion was still in progress and they were dropping out of the tree over my area and onto my head all morning. They crawled into my tote bags and up my legs. I had some duct tape so I wrapped it around the tree trunk. I explained to curious onlookers that it prevents the caterpillars from crawling back up the tree to gorge on the leaves after they fall down at night. I watched as the few that were going back up stopped at the tape. I should have done it as soon as I got there, and put tape on the trees around me. You would think somebody at a farmer's market would have some simple solutions to a caterpillar problem. You don't need sprays and poisons. It was a glorious day weather-wise...I made more money than some, but not enough to make it really worthwhile. I still like to do it because I meet so many locals, and today I actually met some Academy Road neighbors whose homes I pass every day. Yes, they had heard about me living behind the silos in the trailer that froze up all the time. I told them I was about to move into the barn and their eyelids raised. I explained we were building an apartment in there and they relaxed. For a minute I guess they thought I was crazier than they had previously heard. Candy, my friend from Hamilton Whole Foods, helped me load up and met me for lunch afterwards. I reward myself every Saturday for doing the market with a falafell pita with yogurt sauce and a real organic ginger ale. We had a nice talk while she filled me in on the store's history. It was one of the first places I went to when Matt dropped me off last August with 100 sheep, a trailer and a garden hose. I don't like to eat out alone but when you are living totally alone with minimal conveniences, it comes in handy. People marvelled over my bags and I sold some shaving blocks, bars of soap, socks and one note card. Can't believe nobody bought that cute little flowery bag, or the purple snap frame bag. They petted and stroked a lot, but no takers. That's okay, bags eventually turn into money in the cookie jar for winter.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Little Flowery Bag

Gretchen called to ask if I turned off the coffee pot in her classroom. I remember turning it off, because she is always worried about burning the school down. However, since I told her I turned it off I have convinced myself that I didn't turn it off!! I sure hope I didn't burn it down. Talk about burning the hand that feeds you...Oh well, I told Gretchen that I was going to make a bag tonight to take to Hamilton Farmer's Market tomorrow. Gretchen makes fantastic beaded tableware and felted purses, along with neat crocheted scarves. She introduced me to the market, and is a very cool person whose respect I care greatly about...So I had to make it since I told her I would. So here it is. Still can't believe I found this lovely green lining fabric with the tiny leaves running through it. Can't see it properly on the photograph. It's groovy in the flesh - or fabric I should say.

Bodie Anti-Depressants

With all this stress and most of our attention being paid to taking care of sheep and building a place to live, I've been worried about Bodie. He is only 8 years old, but recently he has been sleeping a lot longer, and getting a lot grayer. I realized I had only one tennis ball left and it has been on the shelf for a few weeks now. I have to keep it up high or Izzy and the other dogs will take Bodie's balls and lose them. I found this neat sack of balls in, where else?, Wal-Mart today. I have to take time to roll the ball for Bodie. I no longer kick it down the driveway for him to go tearing after. I don't want to cause him to pull or rupture something. Bodie is as old as we are - he was my wedding present to Matt, who had moved around so much prior to our marrying that he couldn't have a dog. Bodie was a Seeing-Eye puppy from Morristown. A littermate had showed signs of a neurological disease and they decided to adopt out the whole litter. My friend Carol was a part time nurse at the Seeing Eye and recommended me as an adoptive mother. When we went to pick him up we had to dress up in surgical gear to avoid bringing anything into the puppy nursery. Suddenly a trap door opened and a ball came bouncing out, followed by several round blonde puff balls, including Bodie! His litter was designated with "M" names and they called him Mumford. For some reason I can't remember we changed it to Bodie. I don't think Bodie would have made it through the rigorous Seeing-Eye training, as he has a stubborn streak and a bit of a temper. He also likes to kill anything fluffy he can get his teeth on, except cats for some reason. We found out the hard way that he loves to kill bunnies! I won't even go there! We keep a close eye on Bodie, and everything is just fine. He and Matt are the greatest of pals.

Rubber Ducky in the Bathroom

Okay, so I fell for the Wal-Mart cutesy decorating scheme. I wanted only handmade primitive objects in my barn apt., but when I went to WM to buy curtain rods and towels, there is was. I was instantly transported back in time to a bathtub filled with my beautiful cherubic baby twins and their rubber duckies floating around. I think I still have one of them. I just had to have this rubber ducky rug and matching hand towels. I could have gotten rubber ducky potty brushes, garbage can, and toothbrush holders, but I restrained myself. Little touches, I kept repeating. I matched curtain fabric to the rug, too. I bet Hannah and Luke will love it! Good thing Matt is working on the door to the bathroom, because Tanner already tried to drag away my rubber ducky rug by the pom-poms. It wouldn't last 5 minutes in her puppy jaws.

Thursday, June 14, 2007


Flicka, my older white goat from Virginia, was walking funny. I thought it was because her mohair bangs had grown below her eyes. I sweet-talked Matt into helping me shear her. She sensed something about to happen and ran up the hill, with Matt in hot pursuit. Once caught the clipping began and we discovered to our horror that one horn was actualy caught in the mohair on her back. No wonder she was walking funny. Goats will use their horns to scratch themselves all over...this time a horn got stuck in the long mohair! We got her clipped, wormed and sheared and hoofs trimmed. I have about 30 more to go and just put another desperate plea in to Jim Baldwin in Cortland to come and help us out. There are not too many shearers who do goats. Something to do with horns and bones sticking out here and there, and loose folds of skin that cause fits with the shearer. We caught the Olde English Bantam hen with her three chicks, born in the Lil' Lamb Dineing feeder. There was a runty fourth chick yesterday and I fear the worst. I caught Mother Hen fighting off a cat this morning as I was about to rush off to work. I ran off the cat and ran around trying to catch her, but no deal. Tonight I found her gone night-night with the chicks and enlisted Matt's help. I now have her cozied up in the chicken room with her chicks where she has food, water, and a lot of other hens to talk to. Sister Grace asked for some old manure for her garden. Matt went to the spot where I dumped a mountain of rabbit manure I trucked up here from where I lived in Pa. When he dumped out some dung from a black plastic bag and great big snake came out too. Matt is not afraid of much and often went camping in West Texas, sleeping on the ground in the desert, snake city, but he confessed when this snake popped out he was scared ----less! From his description it sounded like a garter snake. If she survives my cats and dogs she's a very smart snake! I am giving Velvet, Bridie and Brandon warm water in their bottles now in an effort to wean them off milk replacer. I have spent a small fortune on the stuff this spring, as I have done as long as I have been lambing, and they are way big enough to get off the bottle. Their screams in the morning cut through me like a knife so I give them water. It works! They are happy! When the babies stop screaming, there is peace in the barn!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

At Long Last...

I couldn't wait any longer. The bathroom is not finished, but today Matt hooked up the 1929 cast iron claw foot bath tub and I had to get in it. He found it in an old house on the Delaware he was refurbishing for a Stevens Institute professor. It was up a flight of stairs and his two carpenter helpers were reluctant to try and get it down. If someone lets go and the tub gets away from them somebody gets run over. They wanted to put on safety glasses and smash it up with sledge hammers. Matt said no way, he was taking this home. His intention was to use it as a livestock watering tank. It sat in our driveway with frogs living in it for several years. Now I will be living in it. I found some lavender bubble bath and soaked away the sweat and grime of the working day. When blizzards are raging outside I will be warming my bones in it. Hannah and Luke will play with their toys in this tub. It's found a grateful home with us.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

It's the Little Things

Gary LaRose, a blacksmith in New Hampshire, makes lovely wrought iron implements for kitchens, baths or anywhere a hanging device is needed. I bartered soap for this toilet paper hanger when Gary's booth was next to mine at New Hampshire Sheep and Wool. It looks so nice in our new bathroom that I called today and ordered three more curly heart towel racks, one of which will be used as a curtain rod. Hearts are so Swedish and I adore them as a decorating motif. Matt is building a bathroom door with a wrought iron latch to close it so the theme will carry through. The pedestal sink is in with hot and cold running water. I have to find a mirror to fit and a little bookshelf to put between the throne and the sink. Matt will build a bigger cabinet to store towels and supplies next to the bathtub, which, if all goes well, will be operational tomorrow night? Do I dare to hope?

Today was the last day of school and we took the kids to a park in Norwich. It was lots of fun, with wading in the river and playing kickball. I was the pitcher for our team. It was easier than running around fielding all those wildly kicked balls! We ate watermelon in the pavillion and played on the swings. Three rather portly girls went to wade in the river and tossed each other in instead. It was hilarious! Tomorrow Regents testing begins.

BOCES Graduation

I attended my first BOCES graduation last night (Board of Cooperative Educational Services). What a lovely affair. I sat with the Career Academy teachers and we went up on the stage as a group to present our graduates with their diplomas. There is nothing like a teaching job to make you feel part of a community. Our school trains kids in all kinds of technical jobs like carpentry, nursing, graphic design, etc. along with an academic component, which is what I am involved with. Our society needs all kinds of workers, and BOCES strives to fill that need. It was very gratifying to see our Randy, my hired man, graduate and receive the Most Improved Student award. Randy and I will spend some time together this summer as I have a long list of farm projects to complete before fall. He is so much fun to work with and has the most positive "can do" attitude. When I paid him after the sheep shearing on Sunday, Randy went home and took his mom and dad out to dinner. That's just the kind of kid Randy is!

AJ and Hector left yesterday after eating lunch at Joanie's Cafe in New Berlin and then back to lunch at NY Pizzeria (aka Frank's)while I was at work. They helped Matt carry in my 1929 cast iron bath tub, definitely a three man job. It fits perfectly in the bathroom. Matt got the proportions just right and the room looks balanced. I plan on spending a lot of quality time in that tub. Just wait until my satellite music channels are connected in the in the wood stove, some New Age music, candles, a little Harvey's Bristol Creme in a pretty little stemmed glass, and I am ALL SET. I will soak these old bones in a hot bubble bath and muse over all the changes that have happened in the last year. Remember what Nietsche (never could spell that name!)said, "That which does not kill you makes you stronger," or something like that.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Lots of Wool to Play With

Finally, the sheep are shorn. The new shearer from Vestal was very interesting. I'm quite sure we will never meet for shearing again. This rather delicate, older gentlemen was overwhelmed by my sheep and kept making statements like:

"You didn't tell me your sheep were as big as ponies." (I told him they were big."
"I usually do small flocks." (18 is not a large number of sheep to shear.)
"These sheep weigh twice as much as I do."
"I have to take a break and get something to eat." (This remark was repeated many times over the course of the day."

Between the breaks Randy and I got the lambs vaccinated. What an amazing wrangler Randy is. It took Matt and Randy to bring the BIG BOYS, like Andrew and Frodo and Bilbo over to the shearing board. Our gentle shearer, who I think might be a college professor, has just been shearing for three years, and took a LONG time to get the wool off the sheep. We had to hold the 300 pounders up for him to shear. It was a long day. AJ and his Army/Rutgers friend, Hector, arrived for their visit and helped up catch, worm and vaccinate the lambs. We let them out to graze afterwards and followed the flock all over the hill. It was lovely, and a sunny beautiful day. Once we got Randy home and ourselves showered up we went to the NY Pizzeria, where they gave us a free dinner to honor the two soldiers in our party. We had a great time, laughing and catching up. I had not seen AJ since our brief meeting at Mia's graduation. He is going back to LV to finish this semester then going on to Pasadena, CA., for a summer session of Fuller Seminary. Hector has done a tour of duty in both Iraq and Afghanistan and will be going to law school after graduation from Rutgers. He is a self-confessed city boy, but enjoyed visiting the Farm. Walking into a sheep shearing is immediate immersion in one of the tougher, dirtier, sweatier aspects of farming. I love it, but it's not for everyone. As you can see in the picture, the men were a bit tentative about diving in, but they relaxed and dove in. AJ is really quick on his feet and caught a few lambs for me. It's a great relief to get those lambs wormed and vaccinated, and a bigger relief to get that hot wool off my sheep and into the bag! Lots of wool skirting and picking coming up for Maggie! Back to work to get some rest!