Sunday, April 26, 2015

cleaning out the kindling box

During the porch renovation, I put aside all the short pieces of pine that had originally lined the walls between the tops of the screens and the roof. They neatly filled the big kindling box by the woodstove.

 All winter, as needed, I'd pull out a piece of the old pine,
set it on the edge of the box, tap it with my hatchet,
and the kindling would fall right back into the box.
So tidy!

Action shot! See the falling piece?

This s a handful of kindling from one piece of wood.
Multiply this by about 50.
Its been very satisfying.

Piper checking my work: 

(As you see, Piper has also been opening her mail.)

It's been quite cold lately, and daily chores again include
bringing in an armload of stovewood
every time I come inside.

I can actually see the bottom of the kindling box.
The timing is good, because now I can call this,
"cleaning out the kindling box."
As if I am actually cleaning something.

In my house.


I am also burning the few pieces of stovewood
that have been set aside.
Every year, some pieces are just so interesting
I keep them to ponder for a while.

Usually, they are the last pieces to be burned in the Spring.
Occasionally, they are the first pieces
to be burned the following winter.
And very, very occasionally,
they aren't burned for years.

But that doesn't mean they are entirely safe
from destruction.

"Art is not eternal.
Go find yourself another piece of wood."

I hope you are having a warm and pleasant Sunday,
wherever in the world you are.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

day five

Yesterday, Tsuga took her 4-day-old kids outside for the first time. She considered it the day before, but was prevented; I placed a 12-inch board across the barn doorway so Tsuga could step over it to go in and out but the kids had to stay inside, nice and dry. The barnyard area is SO wet. Residual ice is slowly melting under a layer of bedding the hens have thoughtfully thrown out of the barn. I can do nothing about this mess until the ice is gone.

But yesterday was sunny and warm, and when Tsuga called the kids they just leapt and scrambled and tumbled right over that 12-inch board, so I took it down. Then I built a ramp for tiny goats to play on. This involved setting one end of the board on a rock and getting out of the way.

I didn't get any good pictures of the kids on the ramp yesterday, mostly because I was laughing so hard. But if you've never seen the flexibility of kids, you might like this snap:

Last night it was very windy - trees were bending hard and I called Piper back from a romp in the woods because I could heard big limbs cracking everywhere. And it was cold. This morning, long after the sun was up it was still only 32F and there was a biting wind, so guess who was wearing a coat again:

Training for Half Dome

And guess who else was wearing a coat today:

Yes, both the kids were nattily dressed today!

Tsuga is still wearing a bit of cashmere - she's plenty warm!

Here is another little video, taken today.
I moved three of the yearlings into the adjacent pocket paddock,
and at one point, you'll see the babies
meeting Azalea.

Azalea is not a big goat.
The babies are tiny!

Technical (ha!) note: I recommend "muting" this one.
There was heavy machinery roaring
through the whole thing, 
and Campion was yelling his annoyance.
(Which was kind of annoying!)
I didn't think of recording without sound.
Such a rookie...

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

consider the source

According to the news, yesterday was the Queen's birthday.

"You have been misinformed.
It's May 7th."

notes from day three

I thought the little grey baby might benefit from a goat coat, especially during yesterday's rainy, raw weather.
Here's a general thought:
no matter how much a person learns from books,
raising animals involves a lot of guesswork and gut feelings...
will such-and-such help? will it hinder?

You rarely get instant confirmation when you make
these judgement calls, but this time I had to laugh:
literally within seconds of donning her polarfleece coat,
the baby simply dropped over sideways
- on her sister - 
and was sound asleep.

Soooo warm!

Tsuga has phenomenal mothering skills.
She's not a fretful helicopter mum,
but she is aware of her kids
and communicates with them frequently.
In the barn, she even sweeps her feet along the ground
instead of picking them up and plunking them down;
a technique I recognize because I use it myself
when there are new babies underfoot.

Today while there was a little more sunlight,
I tried to get some pictures of the black kid.
She's pretty darned cute.

Don't you agree?


I had to spend a lot of time mending fences today,
but went and sat in the barn a couple of times for a break.
Tsuga is being very nice about sharing her kids with me,
but mostly she needs quiet time alone with them.
She doesn't want the other goats around yet, either.

This is all fine.

But it had meant a lot of rearranging of goats,
and hurried mending of winter-damaged fences.
There was a lot of excitement today when Vinca figured out
that she could slip through a tiny gap
into the pen with the big wethers and the matriarch doe.

Good gracious.

And then the boys found that tiny opening and made it BIG.
Instant Priority Task.

I did such an ugly job of temporarily patching the gap,
it is truly embarrassing.
It was, oh my gosh - you know what it was?
A stop-gap measure.

I just hope very much that when I go out in the morning,
all the goats will be where I left them tonight.
Especially Vinca!

Day Three:
a good day in the barn.

Monday, April 20, 2015

assuming nap position

I took this yesterday morning, when Tsuga's little black girl was having breakfast (again) and her little grey girl was settling for (another) nap. Hope it makes you smile!

Today before sun-up, I was watching the goatcam and laughing like a loon. Both babies were bouncing around, full of beans. It is astonishing how quickly their coordination develops, literally from the moment they are born. These first couple of days are mind-boggling, every time.

It's a rainy, raw morning, but all is well in the cozy barn.


By the way:
if anyone has advice about posting videos, please let me know in a comment or email. I tried going direct-to-blogger using the video link in the editing bar, but after loading this video the quality was so poor I took it down immediately. Not entirely comfortable about putting my goats on YouTube, but so far it's the only solution I've come up with. And I'm still not satisfied with the quality; the original is quite sharp.
Any advice appreciated!

ETA: I just switched the little player button to HD and watched it fullscreen. I recommend this if you want to see every wavy little hair on that grey kid. And I'm pretty sure you do  :)


Saturday, April 18, 2015


I took this screenshot of the blog tonight,
when I sat down to write.
(As always, a left-click should embiggen snaps.)

I have not wanted to mention the countdown,
but I have been checking it weekly since December. 
About 7 times weekly, in fact.
I wanted so much for Tsuga to have her first kid this year.

Well, goats can really keep you guessing.
But with only three days left in the countdown,
I might as well mention it.

Is Tsuga pregnant?

No, she is not.

Not anymore.

This afternoon Tsuga had this perfect little baby girl.

And a few minutes later, Tsuga had this perfect little baby girl.

She had two.
Two lovely little girls.
Two babies who have been washed and nudged
and fed and nickered to
and watched over and counted
and washed again
pretty much non-stop for the past several hours.

The kids have been getting lots of naps.
I saw Tsuga yawn once,
but I don't think she has closed her eyes.

Tonight, the new mama and babies have the barn to themselves,
while five rowdy roommates enjoy their first camp-out of 2015.

Night-night Tsuga.
Aren't you a lovely girl yourself.

Friday, April 10, 2015

goat coats

What shall I do today after morning chores?


Oh, I know!

I'll comb goats again.

These are three of my rake-style combs, which I brought in and washed last night. I use an assortment of combs and brushes, usually three or four per goat, per session. This year I've been using two slickers, four rakes, and two combs.

(I own one hairbrush, by the way.)

Someone recently asked about the length of topcoat on cashmere goats. Very variable! For example, these boys are full brothers, and yet are at two ends of a spectrum.

Betula has an incredibly long topcoat. I call it "Hollywood Hair" because when he runs his coat flows and it looks like he's moving in slow-motion. Betula produces very white cashmere. It is not easy to comb it out from under all that long topcoat:

By contrast, brother Acer has a very short, dense topcoat, much like a plush toy. He produces grey/taupe cashmere:

Some cashmere breeders have a color preference, but I enjoy all the variation in my little gang's fiber. I've been told even the darker cashmere takes dye beautifully; maybe one day I will experiment.

Meanwhile, a challenge awaits.

This is going to be a two-pockets-full-of-carrot-pennies operation.


Friday, April 3, 2015

FO friday

Lately I've noticed a lot of "Finished Object Friday" blog posts,
and since I happen to have a finished object,
and since I remembered that it is Friday...

Please note: this is not a giant hat. 
This is a normal hat on a small styrofoam head.

I made it for the Revive A Vintage challenge being hosted by raveler knitsbyjenn in the Roving Crafters group. It's the 1898 Hat by Kristine Byrnes; a free pattern available along with many others from the Seamen's Church Institute - Christmas at Sea website. I won't donate this one to SCI because they specifically ask for darker/brighter colors, but I will very likely be knitting another in deep blue, which should be perfect to send. 

In fact, this hat is so much fun to knit, it may become my go-to pattern for any single skein of worsted that surfaces in my stash.

Here's a link to my project page on ravelry,
with full knittery details.



on the theme of "finishing"...

I don't usually plan my knitting time;
it's more of a response to insomnia or restlessness.
But I really wanted to finish the 1898 Hat because I have
another project waiting in the wings.

So this past week - when we had two snowstorms
but also a lot of sunshine -
I "scheduled" a couple of afternoons of knitting
and audiobooks, out on the porch.

It looked like this:

You can't see Piper, because she had dragged her cushy bed
right under the legrest of the recliner.
But trust me: she was there.

Despite fresh snowfalls,
overall, the snow is gradually disappearing.
There is still plenty, I hasten to add. Ice, too.
But I am hoping that by the end of April
I will be able to tackle the construction debris
both on and off the porch.
It got "snowed in" months ago,
and there was simply no way to remove it.
But soon.

After a clean-up, the final big step will be
sanding and finishing the porch floor.
Then the interior will be finished.