Monday, June 30, 2014


It's been very hot here lately, and hordes of biting flies have joined the countless mosquitoes, making time spent outdoors both mind-meltingly steamy and a ceaseless battle against welt-producing nasties. Yesterday I decided to experiment with reducing the number of insects that fly into the new barn.

Last year I tacked up a set of "instant screen door" panels in the little goat shed doorway, and felt they helped keep the deer flies out. So at the end of the season, I bought a couple more sets on sale, in anticipation of the day when the new little barn would be built.

Yesterday, I cut those panels into half-lengths and hung some in the upper doorway of the feed storage side of the barn and others in the lower doorway of the big communal stall. I left the center of the lower doorway temporarily unscreened, though, so the goats could get used to the curtains and I could see whether or not they would decide to tear them down.

Initially there was a lot of nosing and chewing and pawing at curtains,
but soon Lily and Azalea and Campion seemed quite relaxed:

while Tsuga appeared to be collecting data:

"Hypothesis: there are fewer insects on one side of the screen.
Methodology: I'll put just one ear and one foot outside and compare.

Twenty minutes later:

 "Phase Two: I shall now extend just one hind foot."

I'm looking forward to Tsuga's analysis of her data.
I just hope I won't have to wait for her to publish;
those peer-reviewed goat research journals are notoriously slow.

(I was about to write "Probably the editors spend too much time browsing,"
but I realized it would have been an unintentional pun,
which is so much worse than an intentional pun!
Whew. Narrow escape, there.)

Twenty-four hours later, all the curtains are still in place. Of course some bugs are still flying in through that big opening - the one that Lily is treating as her own private checkpoint - but I've noticed that, once inside, the bugs become focused on trying to get back out, mostly through the upper doorway of the feed area which is pretty completely covered by the hanging screens. Bonus! Now when I go into the barn I spend a minute or two using a little jar with some sticky liquid in the bottom to quickly tap those deer flies and horseflies off the screen and out of the equation, permanently.

I actually got goosebumps as I typed "deerflies and horseflies."
The body remembers those bites!

So, not a perfect or total solution, but it is a definite improvement!
And that's what we shoot for here...improvement, not perfection.

"Ahem! Speak for yourself, please!
I'm not looking for progress or perfection...
I'm looking for results!
Quantifiable truth!
And ultimately, tenure!"

Oh, don't worry about tenure Tsuga. You've got it.


Saturday, June 28, 2014

now then

I thought you might like a little update on Lily of the Valley and her babies.
The girl, solid black, is Azalea.
The silver boy is Campion.

You last saw them at 6 days old:

According to the calendar,
this Sunday, they will be 6 weeks old.
I counted twice.
I simply cannot believe it.


I need to adjust my mental chronometer,
so please join me on this short trip
down Memory Lane.


and now:



and now:



and now:


By the way, does that last picture
remind you of anyone?

"Are you referring to me? Pah!
Only a kid would waste time chewing on shirt-tails.
I became a Grown Up Goat, overnight,
when Azalea and Campion were born."

I know, Tsuga, I know. But...
if you ever feel inclined to tug on my shirt-tail again,
I won't mind a bit.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

hey piper

Me: Hey, Piper, guess what!

Piper: Wha'?

Me: This box that just arrived in the mail? It's the camera!! 
We've finally got the camera back from the Little Shop of Miracles!!!

Piper: um, has the camera been missing? 

Me: What?! It's been gone for weeks!
Weeks and weeks!

Piper: Oh.

Me: Haven't you noticed on our walks by the pond lately,
that I don't stop every few seconds to take a picture?

Piper: Of course I noticed. I was thrilled.
I thought I had finally trained you to Walk Properly.


Dear Readers, if you are still here...

I will be putting the revitalized camera through it's paces very soon,
and there will be lots of images and updates to come.
But I couldn't wait to share these first snaps,
taken minutes after I brought up the mail and opened the package.
Piper, who declined to accompany me to the letterbox
on the grounds of, "It's too h-o-o-o-o-o-o-o-ot....",
 was at first mildly interested in the package.
(Treats often come in packages, you see.)
But you can judge the level of her excitement
when I brought out The Camera.
Me? I felt like jumping up and down in joy!
But Piper had a point:
it truly is Summer now, and it really is hot.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

once I had a camera

and I took pictures.
All the time.
Sometimes for publication, sometimes for galleries.
Sometimes because I had a camera in my hand.

Here's one:

The view from Loro, Lusitano stallion.  Portugal, 2006.

Now, my little camera is in the hands of the Repair Specialists.
They are Assessing the Failure.

At this point, my biggest concern is that they will press the ON button,
and because the camera will fire up, they will say,
"We have fixed this camera! Send it back."
Because by the time I managed to ship it off, it would turn on again. 
And I thought, "It has fixed itself! Huzzah!"

Then I took a snap and noticed a foggy spot in the frame. 
And I looked into the lens and saw not just condensation, but actual water 
sloshing gently back and forth at the bottom of the lens.
Speaking as a photographer: It was creepy.

By comparison: this water is not creepy.  Maine, 2010.

Well, all I can do now is wait.
And I am sorry there have been no posts,
but apparently I can't string more than 140 characters together
without the spark of images.
Never really noticed it before, because I always have images.

Today, in mild desperation, I went spelunking on a flashdrive,
to find a few snaps to share
so I could write a post, however out of sync.
Welcome to that post!
Stay with me if you can; there's a treat at the end.


In other repair-related news:
farewell, thousand-dollar breadbox...
and welcome back, my beautiful oven!!!

Here's how it happened:

The appliance store failed to send me a bill for the service call back in February. The outcome of the service call (= non-functional oven) and lack of follow-through from the store (= getting no closer to having a functional oven) was obviously not what I had hoped for. Still, I felt responsible for the cost of a service call, and expected a bill. So when I was in town one day recently, I stopped in at the store, checkbook in hand.

While I quickly reviewed the Sad Story of the Stove for the manager, the service tech happened to overhear me. He asked a question. Then he looked thoughtful. Then he said he wanted to come out again and have another look, "just in case."

And he did. And he tested a different part than what the original error code had told him to check the first time. And got an odd measurement on his metering device. Suddenly, everything fell into place. (For him, not me. I was just pacing back and forth and trying not to hope but actually hoping very, very hard.) This different part was working well below its proper range which made the thermogizmo think the stove was more or less on fire and therefore the fan was on all the time and the failsafe device that keeps an eejit from using the stove when it's already on fire would not let the control panel respond to input.


Anyway, the technician replaced the low-functioning part, and I turned on the power, and my oven was working again.

Can you believe it?

Ninety dollars.


(Cue the Hallelujah Chorus!)

I immediately went out and bought gruyere and heavy cream and a head of cauliflower, and made my favorite baked cauliflower dish. It was lovely. No picture, of course. Sorry.

Also no pictures of the subsequent mushroom quiche, bread pudding, or cranberry cake.

But here's a nice snap of some bowls in my kitchen, taken three years ago:

These bowls are white. Like my oven.

Still with me?

Finally, to wrap up this disjointed and oddly-illustrated post,
I strongly encourage you to click this link
to read a letter written by E.B. White in 1951.
It is in response to a complaint from the ASPCA
regarding the licensing of White's dachshund, Minnie.
I promise you, this letter will make you laugh.