Tuesday, April 30, 2013

this golden april day

This last day of April is bright with the deepest of yellows!

The little rivulet below is bordered by a scattering of Caltha palustris, known here as "marsh marigold" but actually a member of the buttercup family.  It is startlingly bright against the still-brown forest floor: 

Also blooming today: forsythia, or what I now happily think of as "yellow bells," thanks to my blog-friend Tipper of Blind Pig and The Acorn, a wonderful site devoted to all things Appalachia.

Although I am New England born and bred and have traveled through only parts of the lovely and vast Appalachian region of the eastern US, the comments and conversations on Blind Pig always make me feel like I'm sitting at the kitchen table with a group of neighbors.

As you can see, the maples behind the yellow bells have not leafed out yet.  But they are blooming...so it won't be long now!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Sanguinaria canadensis

Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)

To me, this wildflower truly marks a turning point.

Yes, we may get more snow.

Yes, I was still burning wood around the clock until two days ago.

(And I considered lighting a fire last night. And the night before.)

But in my mind, there is no turning back now.

As of Wednesday, when the first bloodroot appeared

like magic - as it always does -

it is Spring.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

postcard from the paddock

Saturday, the kids began to actively seek each other out and really play together for the first time, instead of bouncing around madly and joyously, but independently.

And the past two afternoons were warm enough that I could turn the new mamas and babies out in the little paddock for the first time.

I brought a lawn chair and a camera.

Tag! You're it!
No, YOU'RE it!
No, YOU'RE IT!!!!
(repeat until naptime)

There was a lot of coming...

and a lot of going.

Do you know about the astounding transcendence over gravity that baby goats discover in their very first days?
Watching this is one of my favorite things about kidding season.
Heck, watching kids flying is probably one of everybody's favorite things about kidding season!

But this year, watching the first-time mamas out in the Big World with their darlings for the first time was a special treat for me.

So quiet.

So serene.





Wow!  Having a wonderful time!  Wish you were here!

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

technical report

Well, this is embarrassing.

For a couple of weeks now, I've been vaguely surprised that so many of your blogs seemed to have gone quiet.

Coincidentally, during those two weeks I've been online maybe a half-hour per day.  And when I posted here on Comptonia, there were always a few of the most recent posts from you lovely bloggers in the sidebar.  So you see, I knew there were some posts, which I happily read.  But there were so few!  Also, it was odd the way many blogs I've been reading for years just dropped off the radar.  Very mysterious.

Well, maybe I've finally caught up on my sleep, because today it took me about 90 seconds to realize what had happened:

I changed one part of one habit.

Chaos.  It came.  

Flashback: a couple of weeks ago, I began to organize my (soon to be defunct) Google Reader page before transferring the blog list to another feed/reader.  But without actually choosing a replacement, all I did was create a bunch of new folders and move blogs around.  In short, I made a big mess.

Then I got distracted by life.  And forgot all about transferring, or further "organizing," or even looking at, my Google list.

This morning I needed to spend some time sitting quietly in the goat barn, monitoring the shifting power structure.  (It's true what they say, by the way: having kids does change everything.)  It seemed like a perfect time - because I am so organized and functional and techno-savvy and all - to switch to another reader.  So I plunked myself down in a lawn chair, blew two weeks of dust off my Google Reader page, and found just over a thousand new posts.


So as time permitted today, I've been visiting blogs and catching up on missed posts.  But gosh I have a lot of good reading to look forward to in the next few days!
How are others handling the blog-feed switch?  (Better than me, maybe??)  Did any of you choose Feedly?  I hope this was a good choice, but am unsure if the relationship between everyone's blogs will change when Google Reader disappears.  A big part of the reason I chose Blogger in the first place was the fact that I was already so thoroughly set up in Google Reader, and several things seemed designed to work smoothly together.

I suppose time will tell.  And after all, my feed/reader needs are simple.  I just need to actually read the feed!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

very little news

Two mamagoats 
(Both first-timers!)
Two babygoats
(One each! Both girls!)

Friday, April 12, 2013

indoor chores

It's a raw and rainy day.

Fortunately, there are many indoor tasks awaiting my attention.

Many, many indoor tasks.

I could be doing some of this, for example:

The only thing standing between me and an emulation of Ruth Kellogg's perfectly-postured sweeping* is that my floor is a teensy bit less available than the pristine hallway above.  In fact, the floor is cluttered with boxes and bags and more boxes.

At the moment, walking through the house is an exercise in Interpretive Dance.

Advanced Interpretive Dance.

Because last week, three days into a wrong-headed effort at "organizing" everything I own, just when things looked vastly worse than before I began...

the weather changed.

All indoor work was immediately suspended in favor of an outdoor project, because after months of winter, a clear, warm day is a gift.  A treasure. An opportunity not to be wasted.

And when the bright and breezy weather persisted for several days, the indoor situation settled into an uncomfortable familiarity, whilst general outdoor puttering continued.

And it's been worth it.  There's been a lot of outdoor puttering underway, with at least a bit of progress made on several tasks.  The most satisfying accomplishment is this: after thinking about it for a year, I finally tore out the corner shelving in the little goat barn, removed all the feed and grain bins, and made a tiny stall adjacent to the Main Lounge area.

Here are a few snaps from the GoatCam, just to give you a highly-distorted, wide-angle, low-resolution idea:

original lounge area, with stanchion

Lily by stanchion, for scale

Lily in the little stall, connecting door on right

And here's Violet just visible - see the white ear? - in the corner of the little stall while Lily is in the original area.  The opening between can be quickly gated shut if necessary.  For now, it is like a connecting door in a hotel suite, and the girls spend much of their time to-ing and fro-ing between their rooms, checking out the courtesy bar and waiting for Room Service.

Although I might have gone to all this work just to entertain the goats, in fact there is a good reason.  (Perhaps I should say "another good reason," since I appreciate the value of habitat enrichment as much as anybody.)  Now it is easy to temporarily separate a goat but still keep her or him within the barn group.  Goats are herd animals through and through, and even when they suddenly do not like each other for some reason, they still want to be in close physical proximity.  A goat alone is a very unhappy and stressed goat.

And touch wood that it won't be needed, but from a herd-management perspective, it is always nice to have a "sick bay" for non-contagious issues.  Heck, if I start feeling poorly, I may move into that stall myself.  It's pretty cozy.

In addition to all this hammer-an-nail stuff, much mundanery came and went.  The most exciting moment was during a walk in the woods with Piper.  She was running far in front of me, as I ambled along enjoying the possibility that Spring will really, truly come.  Then I came around a corner to see Piper walking merrily straight toward a pair of ducks.

Piper was walking on shoreline ice.

The ducks were in open water.

"Piper, COME!"

Grey hairs?  Yes, I've got them.

It just started snowing again, so before I bring in another load of wood for the stove, I will close with a hopeful gesture:

Organic seeds, organic seed starting mixture, organic eggshells.

Fingers crossed!

*Miss Ruth Kellogg demonstrating correct postures for various forms of housework. 1921-26. Source: Div. Rare & Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library

Saturday, April 6, 2013

one year four days

Yesterday when I was working outside -
because it was a gorgeous, sunny, breezy, warm day!!! -
I looked up to see the boys, Betula and Acer, enjoying the lovely, lovely, lovely warm sunshine:

Sorry about the murkiness of these pictures!  They were taken from a distance and through multiple fences.  If I had moved toward the paddock, the boys would have hopped right up (both) and either walked elegantly (Acer) or cavorted madly (Betula) in my direction, whilst uttering gladsome cries (guess which one).

Of course it is always pleasant to have such a warm welcome, but it does make photography quite challenging.  My cameras have recorded hundreds of goat-shaped blurs.  Thousands, more like.

This is not a place where they usually nap, and something about the scene nudged my memory: oh my gosh, it was almost exactly one year ago that these boys were born!

We all had a tough few days at first.  Their mama was very attentive in terms of licking and general watching-over, but was not entirely sure she wanted to feed her babies.
With her perfect milk.
From her full and healthy udder.

By contrast, I was very, very sure I did not want to raise bottle babies when there was a perfectly good mamagoat standing right there.  A mamagoat who had shown similar inconsistencies the year before, but who then became a helicopter mom, in constant hover-mode.

The thing is, as you might imagine, the first hours and days are critically important.  Dithering is not an option.  So Acer and Betula required a lot of my attention at first: specifically, their bodies needed to be kept warm enough to digest milk, they needed to be getting enough milk to nourish them, and they needed to be functioning comfortably at the other end of the digestive process.
My, my, what a few days that was.
Somewhere between Day 3 and Day 4, we saw The Return of Helicopter Mom, and I cannot overstate how delightful it was to spend an entire night in my own bed!  Whew.
These pictures were taken one year ago today, when the bucks were four days old.  Familiar pose, no?


And see that shadow?  Yep.  Mamagoat.  Hovering.

Acer was born first.
Acer, the Maple Man, soon known as "The Gentleman Goat."

And Betula, the Birch Boy.
Bet was the smaller baby, but with enough Imp Factor for both.

Oh, and look who's here...

"Are you boys alright?  Not too cold?  Not too warm?  Let me feel your forehead.  A bit peckish, maybe?  It's been at least five minutes since you had some lovely milk!"

I love this doe.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

haiku for a wednesday morning

Twenty-four degrees.
(Minus four in Centigrade.)
Enough said, I think.