Sunday, June 29, 2008

First Weekend

So long anticipated and so much appreciated. All this wonderful time together. We swam in the pond Saturday afternoon. The sun was hot and the lovely summer grasses waved in the breeze. Hannah and Luke floated on rafts and threw balls for the doggies. The sheep climbed the hill to drink from the opposite side of the pond. They were very surprised to see humans in the water. Today we slept late, played with kittens, did morning chores, then got cleaned up and went to the movies to see Wall-E, very cute, then got what we needed from Wal-Mart. Picked up the Sunday Times and British Country Living - along with more Starbucks (expresso ground) at B & N, then home for more down and dirty fun on the farm. After supper and evening chores, Hannah and Luke tried out their new flashlights in the dark and spooky hay mow. What fun. A rain shower changed our plans for an evening swim, so we are watching Jackie Chan instead (I was outvoted) and eating lots of junk food. We had a sheep-emergency today - flystrike! Miss Mamie, one of my rescued Rambouillets, has a flap of skin on her rear end - a prime target for flies to lay eggs. Sure enough, there were maggots all over her back end. I asked Hannah to hold her head for me while I pulled off the maggots, trimmed the wool and treated the area. Hannah bailed lickedy split, but Luke held her head like a champ and was fascinated by the whole process! He found the maggots extremely interesting and was very concerned about Miss Mamie. Little Summer was dancing all around bleating like crazy the whole time. Luke got her some corn and told her Mama will be alright. I think I have another first rate shepherd in the family.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Happy 30th Birthday Sean!

Sean Austin Redmond is Matt's son from his childhood marriage to Loretta. They were young hippies running wild and free when they discovered a little bundle of joy was in the oven. Sean was born in Austin, Texas - Matt's spiritual home. He spent his formative years in the mountains of New Mexico and amoung the tall pines of Northern California. Sean is true to the California spirit of living in the moment and being true to your spirit. He is a talented graphic designer and cook. Matt has not spent as much time with Sean as he would have liked. Living on opposite coasts does not help the matter. I keep Matt so busy on the farm, and with a demanding new career, well, you know the story. Father and son hope to get together and do some running wild of their own in San Francisco where Sean has lived for some years now. Sean is coming East in September to do some business in NYC. The guys are planning to attend a Yankee game while he's here. Sean is behind Matt to the right in our wedding portrait, taken a decade ago. He has sprouted a few gray hairs since this picture was taken ten years ago. I wish Sean would come to visit so I could take some recent pictures of him. Better yet - I'll fly out to San Francisco to do a photo session with my handsome step-son!

Quite the Cook

Hannah loves to cook. She made a scrambled eggs for Mia this morning and dinner for Poppy tonight. This hot-dog, broccoli, sauerkraut and carrot concoction was very crunchy and delicious. After chores and the campfire, Omi fixed a hot bubble bath for Hannah. She lanquished in it for almost an hour and came out a new woman!

First Camp Fire of the Season

What a great way to end a day. I looked forward to it ALL day. Hannah, Luke, Omi and Poppy around the fire, downing marshmallows cooked to perfection, snuggling on laps and catching up on all the time we've missed. Sheep and goats moved around us in the misty darkness and Chris bedded down behind us. We watched for the first stars to come out while the kids played with flashlights, looking for kitties who were smart enough to run and hide. I sipped on a glass of wine and thought to myself it doesn't get any better than this (except if AJ and Mia were here).

Luke - The Dog Whisperer

Move over Cesar Millan! Luke put the puppies through their paces today. Six new tennis balls are lost in the barnyard - down holes or buried in hay, who knows? A trip to WM will fix that. Not a problem - the doggies, and Luke, loved every minute. A trip to the pond to test the dog's retrieving skills was part of the day's itinerary while Omi was at work. Luke and Izzy rekindled their friendship from last summer.

Friday, June 27, 2008

First Day at Omi's Farm

Auntie Mia picked them up at the Buffalo Airport at 12:30 Wednesday night, then whisked them off to the Airport Inn where they unwound by jumping back and forth on the two big beds in their room. Wish I could have been there - sounds like a ball! After sleeping in Thursday morning, the little group went to Niagara Falls to take in the sights. After arriving at Omi's Farm Thursday night, the first thing Hannah and Luke wanted was to play with kittens. These kitties are certainly getting a workout. Hannah and Luke spent the day with Poppy while Omi went to her last day of school.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Running Buddies

Chris and Velvet (AKA Monkey) run together in the fields. I am relieved to see them sticking together. I don't want Monkey, who can hardly see above the high grass, to get into trouble, or meet up with a coyote, stray dog, or whatever. I'm not sure who is following who, but they are a team.

Get Back in the Field!!

Yes, the grass is always greener on the other side of the road. I caught the flock, along with their partner-in-crime CHRIS, leaving their field and travelling up the road to the field of our neighbors. We had a visit from the nice couple a few days ago. Apparently my sheep ate their garden last year and they don't want that to happen again. Is my face red!! I almost got a deal on a solar powered electric fence but somebody got to it before me. I have to do something soon. I spend a lot of time riding up and down - a motorized shepherd. Once I get them back on their own farm the flock settles down to eating. The weather today is just glorious...breezy, sunny and cool with those fabulous cloud formations above. There is something about this little valley that brings in the loveliest weather. The wide open spaces allow a terrific view of the skies. I've never had such an unobstructed, beautiful view of the heavens before.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Crash Boom Bang

Monday night and what a storm - after a gorgeous picture perfect weather weekend. Thunder, lightning, driving rain. Big, white, giant puffy cloud formations gave way to black clouds around sunset and the sky grew angry. Baby Thunder came running in from the fields and called me in his sweet melodic trumpeting voice to come out and give him some corn. He was soaking wet and wanted something to make him feel better. All weekend long I kept thinking what a great time it would be to get the fields cut, but it would have been soaked in this rain. You need four dry days to get hay in, and we haven't had that many in a row lately. Storms have been blowing in from the midwest regularly. I got my wool inside just in time. Matt had poor little Tanner tied to the silo on the north side and forgot about her. The rain was coming down in sheets with the sky lighting up and thunder booming. I said where's Tanner and Matt went running out to get her. She's been huddled in the corner of the bedroom nestled in the pile of dirty laundry. Matt apologized and loved on her but she's not coming out. Might be time for chicken bones (soft little ones, ofcourse.) The new sofas are perfect in the living room. Matt can't stretch out on them but I can! Got the old POS sofa out, but had to take the doors off to do it. Fine with me. We'll have a nice bon fire when the kids get here. It's Midsummer today...the day when women romp naked in the grass to promote fertility and bath their faces in morning dew to preserve their beauty. There is an old Swedish saying, something about the night may be short but this night gets the cradles rocking. I was in Finland on Midsummer years ago and gigantic bonfires were standing ready. They could not be lit due to a terrible drought going on there at the time. How exciting that would have been. We'll have fires almost every night when the kids are here. Still testing at work. The kids are doing well considering it's more time and concentration than they are used to spending on one task. Have to go to WM after work and get some big plastic tubs to put some of my fiber art stuff in, along with winter clothes. Just too much clutter in this little apt. The creative mind is seldom a tidy place...

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Blue Skies

The weather is perking up, despite the forecast. It was sheer heaven to wake up and not have to go to work. I had already made up my mind to stay home from the farmer's market again, since it was supposed to thunderstorm, so I slept until the dogs made me take them out (around seven). They bark and whine, jump on top of me, etc. and do a good job of rousting me out of the sack. I was tired from another chicken with chicks episode yesterday. I had stopped on my way home from work to buy a hanging cherry tomatoe plant from Country Max. I had been eating tomatoes off it every time I shopped there, and thought I better buy the plant to make up for all the tomatoes I ate. It was only $17.00 and covered with green tomatoes. I made my regular stop at the little market in New Berlin and made my way home. I always feel guilty taking my time getting home, afraid that some animal debacle is taking place. Sure enough, I opened the milk room door and there was a little hen, one of the Olde English Bantams, sitting in the middle of the concrete floor - unusual because the cats eat there - kind of fluffed up. I saw a tiny beak underneath her wing and realized she had hatched a chick. I saw cats prowling all around her and felt guilty that I had not come right home. Who knows how long she had been fighting them off? I dropped my packages and went to get another wire rabbit cage. I set the cage down and went to pick her up, my hands clasping her wings to her side which, last time I did this, holds the chick inside her wing where it doesn't panic. I lifted her and, low and behold, a dozen little chicks scattered all around, with cats jumping in for the kill!!! There I was, kicking cats away, trying to catch peepers, with mom doing her Bantam dive bombing, charging the cats with her wings up in a menacing pose. No way could I catch them all, so I kind of herded them into a corner and popped my tiny cat igloo over them with a piece of foam insulation blocking the door. I thought I would get Matt to help me transfer them to the rabbit cage later, where they would be protected from the cats. I put feed and water in the igloo and could see the exhaused hen drink and drink. She must have been famished (they don't eat for almost a month, hatching the eggs). I put my groceries away then went back to check on the little family. To my horror, some sheep had come into the barn and turned over the igloo to get the grain. Mom was desperately trying to hold the chicks under her while sheep trampled all around. I beat the sheep off with my staff (they were oblivious to the blows - after all, there was grain involved) then Matt came in. Finally we got them secured in the rabbit cage and carried them over to the other two families in cages on the hay, behind the stanchions, protected from the sheep. Whew! I adore those hens and chicks, tiny things all covered with stripes, peeping so loudly for such little creatures. When they are old enough not to be eaten by cats I will let them all loose. Chickens eat flies and are welcome in the barn. Enough excitement for me, thank you very much! Beastie Boy went to Sangerfield this morning to get a brush hog. I kind of like the place all grown over. I spent enough time working on my manicured development yard - 3/4 landscaped acre - to earn a PhD back in NJ. I'm over that now. Some of the tall weeds are very lovely and interesting. He doesn't agree, and since he wasn't asking me to go get it and run the bucking bronco, I didn't protest. Hannah and Luke are coming and some of the weeds are taller than they are. I decided I couldn't let them lie on this tattered living room furniture, both roadside throwaways before they came here, and went furniture shopping. I picked out two gorgeous red plaid sofas at the "warehouse" store near school, but they were $700 each. The guy said he could paint them with a fabric protector guaranteed against even cigarette burns. He hasn't met my dogs. What was I thinking? I remembered the matching used sofas I saw at Yesterday's, also near school (I never roam very far these days), and talked Beastie Boy into coming with me to look at them. His arms were numb and shaking from the machine, so he reluctantly agreed. BB got into an animated conversation about all the places to go in West Texas (the furniture man is selling out to go RV'ing out west) so I could check out the whole place. There is a gorgeous primitive black walnut cupboard that would cost $1,000 at the old antique shop I used to frequent in NJ. He's asking $400 ($250 maybe?) Dream on!!! The sofas were marked $140, but I offered him $50 each. The guy said he would rather give them to Catholic Charities for the women's shelter than sell them that cheap. We agreed on $80 each. They are old, and slightly art deco looking, but clean and will do nicely for Hannah and Luke to lie on while they watch TV. We loaded them up and they are in the apt. now. I can't wait to throw the current furniture on the bonfire (yes, we can still burn in CNY but not for long). There might be creatures living in the chewed up fluff and foam. I hope they escape before being consumed in the flames. I have fantasies about putting the red plaid sofas on layaway for Christmas, but I have bills to pay and hay to put away for winter. The guy I bought hay from last winter (one of them) knocked on the door at 10 PM to ask if I wanted 80 round bales. A horse owner cancelled the deal they had. Well, nobody ever comes around here, much less at 10 PM, and it kind of freaked me out. Thor was loose to stay on coyote patrol, and either didn't see the guy, or didn't care. Some guard dog!! He had to come through the milk room, walk through the dark barn with animals lying everywhere, find his way through my dark work room, then the apt. He didn't look the least bit fazed about it, either. There is no way I would wander through somebody's dark barn late at night...not the way everyone around here is loaded for bear. Oh well, gone is my false feeling of security. Back to packing up "stuff" to make things neat for H and L. I just can't wait to see them and how they have grown. I am missing SO much by not living near them and don't want to waste a minute. Have to get to WM and buy all the goodies they like, especially lime ice-pops and fudgesickles. I need to buy rafts and beach balls for the frog pond. Look out froggies, the kids are back!!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Happy Birthday Hannah!

My lovely, willowy, ethereal and enigmatic granddaughter, Hannah Margaret, is 10 years old today. She was born at a very tumultuous time in my life, when I was going through unbelievable changes. I have never lived anywhere close to her and have spent a mere pittance of time with her over the last ten years, much to my anguish and regret. Hannah is refreshingly tall (so many short genes floating around on both sides) and oh, so beautiful with those big, wide eyes and impish little smile. She loves anything frilly and feminine, and her world consists of everything pink, purple, feathery and glittery. Hannah wore only dresses for years and just recently started wearing's a good thing, since she helps her Daddy run his Boy Scout camp in the mountains of Nevada. Last year Hannah brought home a gopher snake - a shock to those of us who think of Hannah cozied up with a book, her dozens of Barbies and a kitty-cat or two. Hannah is relaxed and perfectly comfortable on the back of her father's motorcycle, zooming down the highway holding on to the cissy bar. She already knits, crochets, felts and sews. Hannah and her brother Luke are coming to visit me next week and I can hardly believe it. I can almost taste the scrambled eggs she made for me every day during her last visit, plucked from the nest minutes before.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Egg Warmers

I did a little jump when I felt something furry in the nest box this morning. Tuffy put her kittens in there for safe keeping! The chickens don't seem to mind a bit. That room has several big roosters who scream cockadoodledoo so loud it hurts my ears, but mama kitty likes the ambiance. Still cool and rainy outside...I can handle this weather just fine. Testing going on at school this week. I proctored one student all day, a real cute and funny kid. Our new wing is still under construction. How spoiled we are - everything bright, new and shiny. The fire alarm went off accidentally during testing and there we were, standing out in the rain waiting for the all-clear. It was a nice break.

Beautiful Bandera

Bandera came to me from Brooks Farm in Dallas Texas (by way of Ohio). She was a mature goat when I bought her 8 years ago, making her quite the old lady now. Bandera gave me a cute little buck kid this year. I got her raggedy coat off today while her little guy stood by, worried about his mommy. I'm hoping to do a goat every night and leave the sheep for the shearer. I can catch a goat due to the lighter weight and the "handles" on top of the head (except for Tommy Boy and his giant rack of horns). My sheep are too big and heavy for me to catch alone, even if I get them cornered. I sometimes wish I had Icelandics or Shetlands, as they are smaller and also have horns...but I love, love, love my Bluefaced Leicesters.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Cool Weather

Sweatshirt weather today. Came home from work and let the sheep/goats out to graze. There she was - Dallas Alice, proud old doe, walking along with the other goats. Don't know how I missed her. Dallas did not kid this year and I was relieved. The year before she was threatening to prolapse the whole pregnancy, worrying me something awful. Her mohair is coarse and frizzy...great for rugs if I only had my loom up. A rug made from coarse, colored mohair would last for years. Only herb tea for me tonight. Off to do chores in the lovely evening coolness. Weather report says rain all week. Still waiting for the neighbor farmer to call and say he will cut my hay. Said he wanted to "think about it." It's all about hay...

Oh, What A Night

Had a miserable night. Can't drink coffee after 5 PM no matter how good it tastes...Forced myself to go to bed at 12:30 then laid there with toothpicks holding my eyes open and thoughts racing across the pallette of my mind like a fast moving storm. Maybe it was the tussle I had with Lola that got me all fired up. She was dragging a big branch caught in her mohair. Matt had gone back in after chores and I didn't want to bother him. I decided to trick her into thinking I had some corn for her and got her close enough to catch one horn...then hold on for dear life. Lola is a big sassy goat, daughter of Dallas Alice (who is now missing - another concern that kept me awake - coyotes on the ridge???) and my sainted Jupiter who has since crossed over the Rainbow Bridge. She ran, pulling me along, but I got ahold of the other horn and was able to wrestle her on to the shearing stand. I got the branch cut off, along with the mohair ruined from being on her too long (sigh) and trimmed her hoofs. A mouthful of wormer and she's done. Typical of any goat I get the hair off of, she started nibbling on the itchy spots that are newly revealed. Satisfied I had done something worthwhile I went inside the apt. and sank in the easy chair which is so chewed up I will probably toss it in the dumpster before Hannah and Luke come. I have a papasan chair from Pier One that needs a new cushion. I bought it for Mia when she was in high school, covered the cushion twice since then. Now it's time for a new one and I think they might have cushions in New Hartford, a town I can actually find myself. Started watching a movie with Edward Norton - why haven't I noticed him before? He's so talented. Then tried to go to deal. Went back to the living room sofa with a quilt and pillow and made the dogs move over. Made myself some strong chamomile tea - just like Peter Rabbit's mother - and curled up on the couch. There was nothing on I could stand to watch, even with ALL those movie channels, so I put on one of my favorites of all time - Pride and Prejudice with Keira Knightley and that oh, so handsome English guy. That lovely piano music, the fabrics (gotta make some slipcovers like the Bennets had) the dresses, the fields, the houses, the dialogue, etc. kept my mind from racing the way it does when I can't sleep. I finally calmed down enough to go back to bed for two hours when Matt's alarm rang at 5 am. I asked him to set it again for 6:30, but I was awake. Matt had gotten most of the sheep in but there were the stragglers, gathered at the gate with a few up the hill. It takes a bit of doing to get a group in with others wanting to get back out. I have to open the gate, stand inside a few feet and hold them back without making a fuss that would scare the stragglers off. Ofcourse, they took forever to tiptoe in, then I spied another group coming through the mist and had to wait for them. It's a miracle I got to work clean, dressed, awake. Wonder how long I will stay that way. No kids today just paperwork. Testing starts tomorrow.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Hail Monday

Cool and dark this enough to wear my beloved Carhartt vest over a polo shirt. This vest is the greatest. I feel like I have on a flack jacket and can take whatever the day throws at me. The pockets are perfect for hoof trimmers, shots, scissors, whatever, with room left over for my hands. This was the last day for students and many did not show up. The sun started to come out from behind the blanket of clouds but a new storm rolled in. The black sky was streaked with giant vertical lightning bolts. I told the students to come away from the window but that was encouragement enough to open the windows and sit on the sills. The lightning preceeded a hail storm, which covered the ground with white balls the size of marbles. What a show. I knew the sheep were in the barn at home on the farm but Chris had not come in last night. If I know him he slid into the door next to the apt., helped himself to the cat food I put up high, and lay down beside Thor to wait out the storm. Ahhh, a llama's life. Speaking of Chris, I have to figure out how to get another halter on him so I can hang on to it for dear life while I give him his yearly shots and hoof trimming. Then I have to shear him. What a spoiled brat and it's all my fault...well, not entirely. Chris (and Breeze, bless his llama soul)grew up in a front yard with four little kids in the house, a situation in which one would think a llama would be handled enough to be used to the human touch - but he was not. I guess the kids were in the house most of the time. If llamas are not properly desensitized to humans it's a battle all the way. If I have a bucket of corn in my arms, or rabbit pellets, Chris will come close...until I put my hand out to touch him then it's poof! gone! in leaps and bounds. Matt has promised me another llama catch pen, which I had before I moved here. I lure him in there with corn then close the door behind us and we "party down." Will I get my pen anytime soon with so many other things we need to get done on the farm? I can only live and hope...

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Luke's Kitty Closet

I have a surprise waiting for Luke in this cupboard in my future work room. I call it the kitty closet. There is a litter of newborn kittens in there, safely hidden by their mom. She jumped in the TV opening in the back. I can't wait to see Luke's face when he opens the door for the first time.

Pinned Down

This kitty mommy has her paws full. The little ones jumped her and practically rolled her over and held her down to do their nursing. I have an abundance of pretty kitties this year. My grandson, Luke, is coming in two weeks and he is crazy about kitties. They really earn their keep when Luke is here. Hannah, Luke's big sister, likes cats and has two of her own. If it was up to Luke, their house in the upscale Las Vegas suburb of Summerlin would be full of cats.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Sunset With Chris

Chris and I watched the beautiful sunset together. Jasper lay down next to my chair. Chris cozied up to him, too. What a lovely scene, with a pink pastel light show before us. Sheep grazing on the hill behind me, doggies yipping, my llama almost close enough to touch (rarely does he come this close - he's a real snob to humans). When the sun disappeared I went back in the barn to do night-time chores. I have three cages with chicks to take care of, with lambs, kitties and rabbits to feed, water tanks to fill. I don't mind because that's the time I spend with my critters. Earlier in the heat of the day I picked lettuce with Sister Grace. She is rather incapacitated by her dialysis and the garden is much smaller this year. The sun was so hot and the air so humid I had to quit in about a half hour, but Sister was fine. Sister says she prays for me all the time. That's good - I need all the help I can get. I picked an armfull of weeds for my chickens and brought home a big bag of leaf lettuce which I gave Matt for dinner tonight, along with delicious home-made red potato salad. OH, it was so good. I'm watching the Naked Archaeologist. What fantastic travel footage of Israel and the Middle East, with all the important Biblical sites. I spent a month in Israel in 1982, but didn't see nearly as much as I have watching this show. Most of the important places I saw were covered up with giant, ornate churches meant to honor what happened there, but it kind of takes away the raw beauty of the place. This guy crawls into caves and tries to figure out what route Moses took on the Exodus, or where Mount Sinai is, or where John did his baptisms, on and on. So cool. Last night I watched Cesar Millan work his magic on lots of psycho doggies and their owners. My supervisor at school recommended his show to me. She likes his style and we both think some of his methods can be applied to students! (Confidence, positive energy, structure, etc.) I know, I know, I watch a lot of TV - but I don't get out a much and my doggies don't mind. I can sew or spin in front of the Tube, or just pile on the sofa with them...and I'm not spending $4.20 a gallon on gas to get there.

Bye, Tim

I enjoyed Tim Russert when he moderated Meet the Press and during election coverage. He got away with asking high-profile people very pointed, nervy questions. When he announced Hillary was finished, I believed him. Tim was a year older than myself. The news this morning says he had an enlarged heart and was on medication and an exercise he knew he had a problem. Still - it's a shock to everyone that someone so vibrant can die so young. Mia tells me stories of young people coming into her ward with various types of strokes and they all have one thing in common - high cholesterol. Better get mine checked. Speaking of Mia, I was missing her so much the other night I put together a little bag for her. She had admired the fabric last time she was here and picked out a lining I would never thought of. I whipped it up and sewed on the faux wooden circular handles Gretchen had given me last year. Mia called this morning to say she loves it and has received many compliments after using it only one day. I would have taken a picture but my camera is lost - very upsetting to me as I see pictures everywhere I look. If I can't find it I'll have to pick up another one cheap. Can't be without a camera!! Matt is back from his energy conference, so happy not to have to be friendly and chatty with people. He had a terrific time and says his presentation went well, although attendance was lower than hoped. Apparently the green energy industry is filled with fun-filled people who like to stay up late (the bars in the hotel closed at 4 am). Matt's talk took place at 8 am, need I say more? I'm making home-made potato salad. Hope I have some "light" mayonaisse!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Beastie Boy Back

Matt is coming home from his energy conference in Lake George today. No more shredded wheat, honeydew melon and blueberries for dinner. He called last night to say how tired he is from all the meetings, food and talks. Their carbon footprint must be enormous, but he tells me they buy carbon points to make up for what they use at the conference. Just when he was whining about how nobody will come to his talk at 8 am this morning because most of the participants will be hung over, someone holding a wine bottle and wearing a tie-dyed tee shirt wandered into his hotel room. I told him to go party hearty because we have a LOT of work to do when he comes home. I got the sheep into the barnyard before I went to bed last night and locked the gate. They are waiting to be let out but I'm keeping them in 'til I get home from work. The lambs can nurse from their moms, who will be very cranky by 4 this afternoon. I have a couple of runty lambs (Sugar and Spice) and kids who are loose in the barn with the kitties and chickens. I give them cracked corn whenever I can. Their moms didn't get enough food when they were pregnant and I fear these little ones will never grow up right. I'm trying to put the winter behind me and pray I get enough hay in the barn this summer. In the meantime, off to work where the year is winding down and the last thing the students want to do is focus on exam prep.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Corny Morning

Thought I woke up early enough - 5:30 - to catch the sheep before they went out to graze. Stumbled out to find they were scattered ALL over the place. I heard baaaasss waaaaayyyy up on the hidden pasture under the ridge. Walked the doggies, booted up and prepared to go get the sheep. The farm this cool, lovely morning was too beautiful for words. Cool, crisp air with a cloud of mist on the hill and a pink sunrise gaining strength behind the ridge. I started out then realized it would probably take almost an hour to get far enough behind them to drive them back to the barn then walk them back. WHY, oh WHY do I have all these dogs but not a single one I can send out to get the sheep??? What's the matter with me? Okay, I thought, let's save my legs and try the corn. I hiked back to the barn and dragged a 50 lb. bag of cracked corn through the barn into the barnyard. Tried carrying it on my shoulder but the poop layer is so high I was too tall with the bag on top. I made a big show of the bag when I got outside and poured a line across the barnyard, very slowly. That's all it took. A couple of sheep spied me from afar and recognized the body language and the white bag. They started yelling and doing a quick walk back to the barnyard. The sheep and goats high up in the hidden pasture heard the commotion and started in, slowly at first then a little quicker. Soon I had a long line of critters coming down their familiar trail. It was stunning, all my sheep and goats creeping through the mist. They had to run all around the fenced in barnyard to get to the gate, but to them a mouthful of corn is too delicious to resist. I knew the corn would be gone before most of them got here, but the sight of a few with their mouths down on the grass would be enough to keep them coming. Soon I was able to close the gate, run inside and jump in the bathtub. It's so gratifying to see their bellies big with green grass. The truly bony sheep are starting to gain weight. GOT to get the shearer in. I came home from work and managed to catch the other Goatie Boy while I was letting the crowd back out to graze. Hoisted him up on the shearing stand, hooked up his head and put up the rails. We were doing fine for about 10 minutes when Goatie Boy decided he had enough. He managed to jump off the other side of the raised stand by shooting under the rail several times. With his head in the cradle this act left him hanging. I pulled him back up and started clipping his very thick coat but G.B. was not amused. I kept telling him he would feel so much better, but no deal. I trimmed his very overgrown hooves and gave him a dose of Safeguard before he took yet another dive which popped the head chain and allowed him to run. He was dragging a long length of clipped mohair which I was able to grab and stop him. Dragged him back and got him positioned one more time. I got some more hair off with sweat pouring and both of us done in. He doesn't have the best scissor shearing I've done but he's a LOT lighter and can itch all the important spots. The other critter chores took me another two or so hours. The sunset was lovely and the air crisp and clear. Oh, if it would only stay this way.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

He's Outta Here

Matt is off to Lake George to present his "Culture of Safety" talk to the energy people. Luxury hotel and fancy food for two nights...must be nice. I told him to have a hot buttered croissant for me. Imagine that - Mattie, a GED kid, just a few months on the job and he's strutting his stuff in front of energy professionals from all over. I bushwhacked my way through 6 years of higher education and have never talked to any professional peers about anything but where to go for lunch. I guess it's not what you've got but what you DO with what you've got.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Cold Front Coming In

The sending districts took the kids home early. After-school meetings were cancelled. Teachers instructed to take students into the hall when the storm hit. I'm trying to remember if my llama came in the barn this morning. Are the lines coming down from my lightning rods buried in the ground properly? Oh, NO, are the windows open in the apt.? Ominous radar maps on with big yellow patches over Central New York...then five minutes of rain, a little wind and it's all over. Sun is out, hot as ever. Yesterday it was so hot when I got home from work I walked the dogs down the driveway and ran them back inside. After doing home-from-work chores (precursor to evening chores) I got Matt's dinner made then lay down on the bed with the fan blowing right in my face. It works! Who needs AC? Matt woke me up at 9PM and told me all I had to do was chickens and cat food. This heat sure gets in the way of things I need to get done. I wanted to stay still and minimize all activity. I wish...The little nap I had in the evening screwed up my sleep. Came in from the barn and watched TV til midnight, then couldn't get back to sleep. Tried the sofa (poor doggies) then back to the bed, sofa again, then bed. Last time I looked it was 3 AM. Not too bad at work today, AC in new building working fine. Heavy equipment running all around grading the land around the building. Some poor guy cutting glass in the sun outside my window. Matt complains about sitting at a desk in an airconditioned office now. How easily he forgets about working outside in this oppressive heat. We should have a slightly cooler day tomorrow but summer is here to stay.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Hotter Yet

Okay, we are dealing with it, but do I have to like it? Not too much you can do about the weather. The sheep have been out grazing all night. Matt goes out every morning and does the round up, running around, up hill and down hill, waving his staff wildly in the air to get them back in the barn. You would think the sheep would know the drill by now. Matt is leaving for an energy conference in Lake George on Wednesday. He is doing a presentation called "The Culture of Safety," based on OSHA rules. Wish I could go along and stay in the hotel, relax on the beach, etc. I have work and can't leave the farm. I will be the one running around wildly in the morning getting the sheep in for the day. I hope no one is watching from across the valley, they would surely have a good laugh.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Steam Bath

With all the windows closed to keep the cool night air in, and fans blowing everywhere, the apt. is actually quite comfortable. It will heat up as the day goes on. Too hot to do too much, but we got the apt. floors swept and mopped with Murphy's oil soap. It's great for that doggie odor and leaves a nice scent. Now I can walk across it without my feet getting crusty and black. Hey, I can't hold down a job, raise all these critters, cook for a man, make beautiful things to sell, and be a good housekeeper too! "The creative mind is seldom a tidy place." I got a few bags cut out - something I can do with a fan blowing directly on me. I heard some fireworks going off and a group of goats who were foraging in the way back came running back to their barn yard. One baby got left behind. I heard her tiny voice way up on the ridge with Mom doing her long-distance goat mother scream back at her. Mom wasn't budging and the baby didn't sound like she was getting any closer. I went inside, got my boots, shepherd's crook, sprayed Deep Woods Off all over me, and set out with Izzy and Holly to get her. I had hardly gotten started when there was a little black dot racing through the brush. Baby had decided to listen to mom and come along. I got ahold of one of the Goatie Boys (it was either Nils or Lars but I forget who is who now) last night and got his coat clipped off on the shearing stand. I was drenched by the end of it, and he was feisty, but he was having a wonderful time itching those spots he couldn't get to. A large glass of ice and rosy Zinfandel helped get me through it. I found out the little store at the end of my road sells it - uh-oh, I'm in trouble.

Kudos Big Brown

No wonder he didn't want to run. So hot and humid, yet they wanted him to run full tilt, whip on his back. He fooled them all and didn't even try. I would have sat down in the middle of the track, and I would be the first one on the truck to the slaughterhouse that day. Thoroughbred horse racing ranks right up there with dog fighting as far as I'm concerned. Just think, if we ate dog in this country that football player wouldn't have to kill his own dogs who were unwilling to fight - he could have sent them off to slaughter just like race horses who are injured or don't perform. Those immature and slender bones break and there's all this publicity about the brave horse that died trying to win when those who buy tickets are the real killers. I am not a Nascar fan but come on, at least cars don't feel pain when they are abused or ruined. They are used for parts and parked in the junk yard. I adore horses and want to rescue some when I have enough hay to feed them. So many horses in NY and NJ. Americans just love to breed horses. In NY State I have to make $10,000 a year on my farm products to be considered a viable farm - horse breeders only have to make $5,000. Hmmmm. The Humane Society says 92 percent of horses sent to slaughter are sound and fine, not old and lame like supporters would like you to think. There is a bill before Congress to prohibit the export of American horse meat for foreign markets. It will be tough going - there's a lot of money tied up in US horse slaughter facilities and the owners are politically well-connected. Three in Texas have been closed down. Fine with me. Who's my congressional representative? I have to find out and call her to check on that bill.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Bye, Hillary

Okay, okay, I am trying to be a big girl about it. She gave her all and should be applauded for an incredible effort. I couldn't do it. What a beautiful, intelligent and capable woman. I would feel much better with her on the red phone in the wee hours of the morning. I told my kids years ago a black man or a Jew would be President before a woman. Sadly, it's true. I will support my party and, what's his name? - Obama. If he is smart he would take Hillary as VP. That would guarantee him the Presidency. Without her, maybe not. It would be tough. I think Michelle Obama would keep Hillary in check as VP, and keep Bill out of the oval office. Then 8 years later...I can fantasize, can't I? Obama got a lot of people registered, but will they come out and vote when they are supposed to? We'll see. I remember Jesse Jackson saying that if all the registered black voters had voted for him he would be president. They didn't come out. Will all those young people get off the internet and come out to vote? We'll know soon enough. I just listened to her concession speech which confirmed my faith in her talents and abilities. Oh, what a grievous loss. Let me go lick my wounds and wander through my flock. The sheep always make me feel better.

Too Hot

Had a terrible night, tossing and turning, worried about a variety of things. Jackie, Old Very Fat Beagle, needs his water in the middle of the night and I had forgotten to put his bowl in the bedroom. Around 3:30 he barked and barked and banged on the bedroom door to get out and get to the water. I got up, let him out, then had to do the same to let him back in a little later. Left the bedroom door open, big mistake, lots of dogs on the bed. It was finally dawn and I drifted off. Woke up at 7!! and felt the steamy heat already rising. A dull throbbing headache was coming on. No go on the farmer's market. I don't have an umbrella and the pop-up is a b---- to put up. I would be melted goo after unloading and setting up, and the people might not come anyway. When people asked me if I would be there every week, I told them maybe not. I could be at home sewing bags or spinning wool with a fan on me, making product for the fall shows. I can see myself saving the market for the several big events over the summer, like July 4th and the music events. Still a good thing. I do miss seeing my friend Candy who is doing production spinning for me now. Can't wait to see what she's done with the wool I gave her. Speaking of wool - the sheep are lying low in the barn. Too hot for them to go out. I put a fan on the chickens. It's weird to see sheep panting. The sheep who we had not gotten back in off the pasture yesterday morning had found their way into the barn through another door, desperate to get out of the heat and to the cold water stock tanks. Have to get the shearer in ASAP. This heat wave took us all by surprise. Not two weeks ago we had a killing frost.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Here We Go Again

Back to work. Hate to leave my babies. Can it really be June already? Only three weeks to go...shouldn't be too bad. Worried about my kids passing their finals and Regents, the NY State test all kids have to take. Many are just not equipped for a variety of reasons. I would do away with grades and all standardized testing if I could.