Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sometimes I miss the city. Like yesterday, when we had to drive over twenty miles to a Maine city for our weekly or bi-weekly stock up. What I save on grain alone more than pays for the extra gas-it's almost ten miles from here to the nearest store for milk.

I was raised in the suburbs of Washington DC. A couple blocks from home was my elementary school, and just past that what is now called a strip mall, with a grocery store, bakery, deli, and drug store. We would get a quarter (.25) and pig out on candy~ raisinets, chuckles, almond joys...comic books for a dime. Donuts every Sunday from the bakery...

My mother allowed me my freedom at a young age-I remember thinking, "I am old enough to go to the store alone?"

By age 11 we had a new dog . I was training basic commands and the best trick-how to jump over my leg or through a hula hoop...she was my ticket to real freedom. Not far past the school was an edge of Rock Creek Park-I found out years later it was actually private adjacent woodland. With the dog as company, I was allowed access by my mother to roam the trails with a command to "stay out of the creek". We pushed those limits, oftentimes coming home soaked from a rotten log bridge breaking at a bad moment...

But how polluted could it really be, when we were catching minnows and crawfish for the home aquarium? And pollywogs, or tadpoles, from the vernal pools...

I really had the best of both worlds growing up, all that wildness, raccoons raiding the trash barrels at night, squirrels knocking on the windows for their peanuts~we even raised an orphaned grey squirrel, hence my soft spot for them to this day.

We still had culture right at our fingertips-sure the store was a ten minute walk, but I roamed the halls of the Smithsonian`Natural History, and was there at the opening of the Air and Space-or was that the opening of the Hirshorn? Or maybe I am dating myself and it was just the opening of special exhibits...The Pandas Ling-ling and Hsing-Hsing at the National Zoo...the Kennedy Center...

Even Boss was a bit surprised when she told me she had named Ursula's Boy Yul, for Yul Brynner, and asked if I knew who that was? And I could say, "sure, I saw him at the Kennedy Center in a one man play, "The Odyssey" many years ago...my mother loved him."

And she replied, "My mother loved him too."

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Another Farm Day

Another day of barn chores at the farm today. S was working. Pretty funny, I have known him since he was in Kindergarten with my oldest and now I work with him occasionally! (reading that makes me feel OLD)

He is really easy to work with, being kind of new we have more conversation of where we are at with the chores. First the main barn cleaned and fed, then hold back the does and kids for hooves. Let the wethers out, catch the horses, bring them in for feed and grain. Then smoke break! :D

Mr. Boss asked us to unload the grain-I asked S to do it and volunteered to do "The Hill" with just Willow. "The Hill" is where the yearling bucks are right now-six of them. Well, served me right overfilling the waterbucket and then I had to lug it all the way up the hill. LOL.

Usually P locks the bucklings out to clean the house, but I let them in and they were no trouble. Willow and I had a great time visiting our favorites. I worked on the shyer ones with cheek scratches. Yul (formally Ursula's Boy) was so sweet!

Then the bucks at Jenny Nash. Boss decided it didn't need two adults and set S off at another chore so it was just Willow and I again. That is really the toughest part of the job. Four little houses and three big igloos-9 senior bucks and four two year olds...that is a lot of poop. Doesn't help that the drainage there is non existent-with the rain it can turn into a quagmire.

We were lucky today, and just as we were releasing the bucks (one of the last steps), it started to rain, and by the time I made it home, it was a downpour. All afternoon. Jeez, we are going to get washed away like my basil and swiss chard sproutlings. LOL.

I do have a few pumpkins that survived the slugs-it seems as though the slugs preferred them just as they are sprouting. I ringed all the mounds with ashes and that seemed to help, except when the rain soaked them. Then one day I spent an hour in the rain handpicking slugs-every slug I could find in that area. That was a gross job. I figured every slug I took would be one less to reproduce for next year.


Boss made me laugh today at the farm.

For background, my blog pseudonym is Tree Ocean, so I will use that in the story telling.

There is a doe at the farm that shares my first name-she was there before I started three years ago so she is not named after me.

There is a black locust tree that was in full bloom this past week, and I stopped to admire the fallen blossoms on Tuesday and saw more on the treetop. They look like pea blossoms.

Boss lets the goats out in the yard every morning while cleaning the barn.

Now to the story:

Boss said to me, "There were black locust flowers all over the old well and Tree (the goat) ate them all."

I expressed interest, recalling the blossoms and wondering in my head if the goat would get sick from eating a ton of them, running the pharmacopeia through my head and coming up empty on black locust toxicology...while Boss throws in..

"I was telling L ( her husband)Tree ate them all and he said, "Tree Ocean?" "

There ya go Mouse, waiting for THAT recipe....hehehe

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Solstice Week

Well, it's been a busy week!

Monday and Tuesday we worked at the farm, barn chores.

That was a lot of hard work! Cleaning and feeding everybody. The baby goats are getting big and we had a chance to see the last set of twins just born-Carmella's little doe and buckling.

Strawberry picking is open at S's! Yeah, we were first for the night pick on Tuesday and picked a quick 8 pounds of juicy, organic, rain-saturated strawberries. In the summer twilight mist.

Laundry has been looming all week. Precluded by the The Firebird's ominous chant, "I'm getting low on underwear."

We finally cleared the decks enough to make the run today. Headed up the hill, the car suddenly started making a bigger noise than usual. Uh-oh. I pulled over at the top, flanked by waist high-hay fields and wildflowers, and assessed the situation. Hole somewhere in the exhaust. Great.

I weighed my options-two kids, the dog, and 7 loads of laundry and the laundramat, or the mechanics...

I opted to go with the plan and headed for town. The worst part of the trip was taking off from a stoplight... the car was louder than a harley. (well, an old Harley)

We walked over to the bank, across a main intersection, and it is hard to believe, but that was my kid's first experience pushing the walk button. I had a chance to explain that the walk buttons don't actually work; they are just there to give you something to do while you are standing there waiting for the light to change.

When the walk signal does come up, even walking quickly you will be unable to get halfway before the light goes out and traffic starts turning behind you.

By a stroke of timing, the Firebird had a chance to exclaim, "the button DOES work!" before the light went out half way across and we were nearly clipped by turning traffic. No, not really.

Well, we returned to the car to discover that the Firebird had snapped the tip off his fishing pole closing the car door. Irreparable under the circumstances.

See, we had negotiated a deal before we left (The Plan), where we would stop at McD's so the Firebird could get a large vanilla shake. He wanted it so bad he was bringing $10. This, in spite of the fact McD's was coming under strong protest from me, since due to a situation we had already had it for lunch the day before.

(But the Firebird didn't get the shake-it would've melted by the time he got it.)

Also, in spite of the fact that he had an upset stomach this am, and I didn't think a large McD's vanilla shake would help.

We traced this upset to the night before, when the Firebird was scarfing strawberries out of the basket, and Willow screaming, "But they're moldy! You're going to DIE soon!"

Ok, a little diarreha...


Willow's part of The Plan was to go mackerel fishing off the breakwater. Period.

Things went pretty well. I managed to eat another double sheeseburger for lunch, the shake did seem to sooth his stomach. And a quick trip to Walmart fixed the pole situation. Actually, I was looking for a specific mackerel lure I found online last night, and despite the rather extensive selection, the senior employee told me right off they didn't have it, and I asked what he recommended for mackerel?, and he said, "mackerel jig." Twins to the one already stowed in the fishing sack. Hmm. I scouted about and didn't find the lure. I bought a pack of three jigs, which gave them two apiece.(counting the one I had already)

I nearly bought the Firebird a sweet Zebco and then found a cheap display for $12 and bought one of those. I had to-they were called "The Firebird." NS

We roared (exhaust) into the lighthouse parking, and the Firebird struggled with the dog while I tied a snap swivel to his new pole, and simultaneously swatted hungry moose flies. You know, horse flies, but bigger. Bigger teeth, even.

At least one accomplished looking fisherman passed us by before we were underway.

Quite a few folks (four or five groups) were about the middle of the breakwater. Cool fishing guy ahead of us takes the dock, I tell the kids to try before we get to everyone else. So, I snap the mackerel jig onto Willow's Barbie pole swivel, and then the Firebird, or vice versa, and they both cast, and Willow is saying, "Mommie, I got one!"

Sure enough, she had a tinker mackerel. She was standing up on the breakwater, but there are bracing stones in places you can step down closer to the water, so I did to unhook the fish. He was hooked perfect!

Well I admit, I do like fresh mackerel, but I threw this one back expecting there would be more. Ha! No more! We kept moving further down the breakwater, much to Peko's chagrin. He does not like to stand around on the end of a leash. He whines and pants. I don't know what he was complaining about- over half the folks that walked by patted him.

Finally someone from the group we kept edging over to asked, "had any luck?"

"Yeah, she caught one her first cast further down, but then nothing."

So we tried the ocean side of the breakwater, and Willow promptly snagged up on a rock in the seaweed and we lost her lure number one.

We switched back, and they kept casting. I even had a few casts with the Firebird. With that snap and mackerel lure on there, I could cast very far out. So that was fun, sitting there catching seeweed. Until Willow hooked a buoy. She though she had her line snagged , and I started pulling. It was pulling very hard, but I was bringup up slack. Then I realized a lobster buoy was heading towards the breakwater. I could not pull that thing close enough to the rock to free it. The Firebird offerred to jump in after it. Yeah, right.

I could see the hook on the line, and it was actually just hooked on it, not stuck in, so I pulled a bunch of slack and flipped it hard a couple times, and then it slipped free. I was worried it was going to snap in the seeweed, and gave it a big jerk, and the lure flew out of the water over our heads, (we ducked) to nearly impale to passerby on the breakwater behind us. Bad timing, or maybe good, since the keyword is here, nearly.

Well, I felt like a dumb blonde then and apologized profusely, as they kept walking on, saying something about "just being from Massachusetts..) Great, hook the tourists. LOL. Actually there were quite a few tourists, including a cute Amish couple, who were among those to pet the dog in passing.

But, no more mackerel.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Anakin, Moonie, and Anna today.

Friday, June 19, 2009

More rooster drama

The neighbor who took our roosters stopped by yesterday with an armful of homemade fabric grocery sacks and said, "I'm here to barter."

Apparently a raccoon got into the rooster pen the previous night, and tore up one of the roosters. She needed some muscle to help move some panels around to secure the pen. I saw the hurt rooster and suggested we let them out. I felt sorry for them and was sure they would stick around now it had been a few more days.

It started to rain, so we sat in her screen house chatting. Then I felt guilty and thought I should help her fix the pen just in case she needed it, since that had been the original plan. We got the pen altogether, and then couldn't find the roosters. I sent the Firebird home to check it out, since I could hear crowing coming from our house.

He came back with the report that one rooster had returned-the hurt one was no where to be found. So I went home and we spent some time chasing the rooster, trying to get him into the chicken house. He was trying to fight our old rooster through the fence, so I shut the coop to lock everyone else in the pen, and tried to get him in the chickenhouse.

Well, chickens are not too dumb, I guess. That plan worked before, but there was no way we were getting that guy cornered yesterday. Finally I gave up and went in to start dinner. Then the neighbor showed up and I told her I would call her when we caught him.

Today it poured like mad. We ended up with three inches of rain. I reversed the plan, and locked the flock in the chicken house and left the pen open. The rooster huddled by the chicken house door crowing pathetically, but running whenever he saw us. Big drowned rats are scary. ;)

This afternoon I looked out and Whitey, the little white leghorn hen, had escaped the house and was in the yard with the rooster. Sure enough, she showed him the pen was open, and in a little while I went out and locked them in. I left a place open for them to get in the house but be in a separate cage so they could get out of the rain but not in with the flock.

Nope, they stayed in the rain. Finally I decided I should catch him and take him to the neighbor, so I called her and told her I would be bringing him by. I felt he would be better off over there even if I had to chase him around the flooded pen. I had chicken feathers stuck to my mud boots by the time I caught him.

I arrived next door and saw the hurt rooster in the pen was as soaked and muddy as the one I was returning. The tarp she had thrown over the pen was leaking like a sieve. She said she was going to get a plastic tarp and put over it, so I left her to it.

I have to feel badly for taking those poor guys away from their home. It's really not bad running free at the neighbors', and if they had stayed put like their two brothers, they wouldn't be locked in the pen and nearly eaten by a raccoon.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Chicks and Swimming

I bought a half-dozen chicks a couple days ago. Three white leghorn and three black Austrolops, all supposedly pullets, so they should all grow up to be hens.

We had a broody hen, but one of the white roosters got in with her and then all the eggs were gone! Those roosters caused me no end to aggravation. The neighbor has since returned and re-claimed then, with promises to keep them locked up so they don't come tear up my garden and cause general mayhem.


After Willow's successful fishing expedition yesterday, the Firebird opted to join us fishing around high noon. The fish weren't biting too well-Willow did land a big pumpkinseed (she calls them "sunseeds"), but the Firebird didn't get a nibble.

I told them to go home and change into their suits and bring the dog back with them. When the fish aren't biting, go swimming!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Frolic Follow-Up

As promised in the previous post, here are a few Frolic photos:



Dave Kennard and one of his border collies, Brit.


Quitting time: sheep in the shade, Brit in the water tub


Sticky lens cover again but I liked the effect. :D

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Frolic and Gardening

Happy full Moon!

We had a lot of fun at the Fiber Frolic!

The Firebird ditched the boring girls early on and roamed about spending his cash on a falafel, two lemonades, two ice creams, and a soda. He also got a wicked sunburn on his face and forearms.

Willow and I didn't get sunburns, most likely because we have been out in the sun quite a bit already, and also because we spent most of our time in the shade. We spent some time in the children's area, where Willow made a pink felt ball and we spent some time learning to felt designs onto a felt mat. She was a natural at it, like any craft she undertakes. Myself, I kept sticking my finger with the felting needle.

We also spent a lot of time in the barns and display areas. The young bucks were so surprised to see us! Boss seemed surprised when I told her the bucks were in a daze when we went up, and then when we spoke their names we could see recognition in their eyes.

We checked out Alpacas (I did get a pic but it's not downloaded yet) and some really cute little baby goats-both cashmere competition and angora crosses. We also looked at lots of angora bunnies and saw two getting shaved.

All of us enjoyed watching Dave Kennard and his border collies. He was having a bit of a rough go with them this year, but they are still a big crowd pleaser.

Early afternoon we went home briefly to check on Peko-who had done very well home alone for four hours. The Firebird opted to stay home-good thing afterI saw the sunburn that rose by the time Willow and I came home.

When Willow and I returned to the frolic, we came across Boss in the show ring with Uureka and her buckling. I asked Boss if she wanted me to go watch her table for her, and instead she handed over Uureka and the buckling for us to finish. Uureka was not impressed!!! For some reason she is not one of the friendlier farm goats, and it didn't help that Willow and I never combed her this year. She has gotten especially jumpy with the arrival of her first kid, the little buck out of Monarch.

There was quite a large audience, and every cashmere goat exihibitor seemed to be present with goats, as well. Here we were front and center with Uureka and her boy as far from us as they could get, occasionally throttling themselves at the end of their leashes in an attempt to get even further. Good thing I don't have stage fright at these things- I just made the best of it.

The buckling had already been evaluated and he won first place for the kid division! Willow was so excited she had to run back and tell Boss. We clipped his blue ribbon to his collar until he tried to eat it.

Then the does were judged-six of them, and I was glad Uureka was called last, as she had adjusted to us a bit better by the time she was called, and I managed to lead her forward without her bolting (cashmere goat shows are much more casual than a dairy goat show where they all parade around so lovely)and Willow brought the buckling forward without event.

Uureka placed second for conformation!! Boss didn't bring her fiber so she wasn't in the class ribbons. So we excused ourselves from the ring and returned the two to their pen. Then Mr. Boss showed up with Uureka's fiber!!! I offerred to run it over to the judge, but Boss said it was ok. The judge had already evaluated all the fiber before the class to speed things up.

Well, then we had a little break before the bucks were called, and I had Boss check out some of our goats fiber. I had brought samples from home. She really liked Nic's fiber! So that was nice. :)

I asked her for a brush and Willow and I cleaned the boys up before their show. Then it was our turn, and of course I asked if Willow could take Bibbles. Boss said yes, and then we had a discussion about the others. I suggested the woman who was volunteering to help should take Rue, since I thought he would be easy for her, and then suggested Boss take Bonnie's Boy, Clyde, since he is skittish. I thought he might be better behaved for Boss than myself after the Uureka incident.

In retrospect, I think Uureka might have been giving Boss a hard time, which is why she handed her over in the middle of the class! Well, I guess I got even by having her take Clyde! He was fine in the ring, but Boss had to drag him there and back, and he would occasionally try to bolt, nearly taking her down.

As we were heading over to the ring, I told Boss the judge would place Clyde first in conformation, and she asked why. I said because he was nice and blocky and the judge was favoring that type.

First the fiber awards for the four were announced. Rue took first, Bibbles took second, Ursula's Boy (now Yul) took third. Then the conformation.

Clyde took first! Boss looked over at me with raised eyebrows and a nod. :D

Willow handled Bibbles so wonderfully! The judge asked if she could walk him, and Willow said, "C'mon Bibbles!" They were the cutest team! I looked at Boss and said I wanted their picture!!! I had my cam in a day sack on my back and didn't want to root around for it in the middle of the class. Plus I wasn't sure if I would spook Yul taking it off. ( oh, I was handling Yul) Yul kept maaing throughout the class. He does have a mouth on him.

Bibbles and Yul tied for second for conformation; that left Rue with third.

Then I thought it was over and Willow and I took the lead out, but then I thought I heard the judge say something, and we had to go back for the class totals. Poor Boss had managed to drag Clyde just out of the ring and had to turn him around and go back. No biggie for Willow and I. :D

Bibbles took best in class!! Willow was sooo happy! Clyde took second, Rue took third. I just realized that left Yul last of the four, and he is my favorite. So I hope that won't cause Boss to eat him. :(

On the way out I had a great long chat with my friends at the gyro stand, prepping for the next day since the fair was closed by then. My girlfriend had run off for supplies, but she and I had exchanged whispers while I was in the ring with Uureka, and she was on the sidelines admiring.

So, I had a chance to chat up her hubby and two of her "boys" ; now big young men that I have watched grow up from tiny tots.

I found out when their next show is and I might have to plan that one into our summer schedule. A music festival. :)

Oh, this is supposed to be about gardening too, but I have gone on too long already. Let's just say we have already had fresh salad greens, the beans and squashes are finally up , and the basil and chard is up-which went in a week later. Bigger seed takes longer to germinate, or warmer weather a week later? Or maybe the moon...;)

Still weeding.

Oh Tonia, if you made it this far, the fort is open to visitors. We didn't go in since it was getting late and we had the dog with us -who likes to eat seatbelts if left unattended in the car. :(

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Another Beach day

We found ourselves with a free day and decided to make another pre-season run to the beach. We were greeted with a new sign at our favortie beach, "NO PETS ALLOWED!!!!" in big giant letters right by the entrance. OOps, busted.

Not to worry, I knew of another beach just down the road. I usually call it "Baby Beach" so of course the kids have refused to go the last few years. At high tide, there is no beach at all, the ocean right up to the retaining wall, but today we were in luck. Low tide and still going out.

I took this pic of one fo the rocks as we clambered down to the beach:

First some jumping jacks to warm up. Actually, you know how when you tell kids you want to take their pictures and they just stand there like soldiers? So I said, "How about some jumping jacks?" LOL

Here we are cavorting, courtesy of the ten second timer:

Peko is over his water phobia, or maybe because there were no waves here:

This was pretty funny when he stole Willow's sand shovel:

Everyone's wet here-the water was bone chilling cold. I couldn't make it over knee deep without my ankles going numb.

This is a wild sweet pea growing on the rocks:

On the way out, we took a cruise by Fort William Henry. The coast is full of these old forts dating to colonial times:

Tuesday, June 2, 2009


I received word from Boss-combing is finished. But she is looking forward to having assistance with the young bucks at the fiber frolic Saturday. I know she is at least taking Bibbles and Rue. She took four yearling bucks last year. Willow had watched from the bench last year, but she was very excited to hear the news-she wants to show Bibbles for Boss if possible.

My friends run a falafel/Gyro stand. Mouse had inquired about Gyros, perhaps I have misspelled them. The way I understand it, the Gyro is greek in origin. It is customarily ground goat meat packed and then cooked on a spindle, and then sliced in long bits as it is cooked. Sometimes my friends use lamb and sometimes mix it with beef. My friends then serve it on wood-stove cooked mid-eastern flatbread. That is an adventure in itself, they haul two woodcookstoves to fairs and the make doughballs, which get rolled like a pizza crust and then are cooked over the open flame til they puff up.

This bread is then filled with the sliced gyro meat, or falafel (fried ground soybean balls) and lettuce and a variety of toppings tomato, etc., and sauces, dang I forgot the name of them all, at least salsa, and the one with yogurt and dill..(long pause, still forget...)

If we pass on that feast, there is still the ice cream stand or hand cut french fries (chips).

On the homefront, another busy day. Dropped some more trees in the goat pen. Yesterday we took the goats for a long pig out in the marsh-for them eating the alders, etc, and the mozzies eating us...

Today I undid a big section of fencing and rebuilt the old outhouse pen for the returned rooster. That took all afternoon. :(

Weeding the garden this am-a never ending chore. So glad I can do it this year since last year I was in screaming agonies with piriformis syndrome. So far so good this year, *knock on wood* The back is a little twangy on uneven ground and occasionally when I sneeze, but all things considered I am enjoying this early summer IMMENSELY! Ya-hoo. Be glad for your health and life!

I took one look at the pics Boss took of us holding pelts and started chopping my hair. I looked like a wild witch in the pix! Just too thick. Layering helps for the time being, but when it grows out I am wild again! We'll see what happens when I wash and condition later-I might be kicking myself in the arse over the chop job. Curly hair, anyone?

Monday, June 1, 2009


Here are our two ganders-Loosey the white Pilgrim in the front, and Pluto our new farmyard Toulouse in the back. Lou was not too happy about me taking a pic of his new friend!