Welcome to Vermont in March. The temperatures fluctuate above and below freezing, perfect weather for the maple sap to run. Not so good for doing chores or keeping your floors clean. But at least spring is not far away.
There have been a lot of comings and goings animal-wise around here. I've barely touched on some of them because after a while it just gets sad listing all the animals who were slaughtered, put down or attacked by predators. It's been quite a year. So here's the update.
We have one goat left, Lucy.
We lost our one sheep in November and had to have the other two goats euthanized (one just last week) because of caprine arthritic encephalitis. Those were the hardest losses. And now I'm left with one antisocial escape-artist goat who looks like a praying mantis.
Yes, her pupils are rectangular.Goats are funny creatures.
After two foxes and one neighbor's dog, we're down to 7 chickens, including one mild-mannered but not very personable rooster. Lily the cat is still around, as seen in the background preparing to decimate the songbird population in our yard.
It's muddy out. Did I mention that?
We now have four turkeys: one Bourbon Red hen and three bronze turkeys that were supposed to go into the freezer last fall, but haven't. And what a saga. After the dog attack last fall (which killed two turkeys), one of the hens was severely injured but refused to die. I have been "reabilitating" her ever since.
She's happy and healthy except that her left leg suffered nerve damage and she tips over. She can stand up for brief periods or when she's leaning against a wall, like she is here. I take her outside now and then and she walks in circles until she falls over. There is absolutely no reason to have her around whatsoever other than (a) she did have a short period last November when she could walk perfectly fine for several days, and, hey, it could happen again, (b) I spend a lot of time with her twice a day and we've become chummy and (c) I hate the thought of killing her just to save me time on chores. She's pretty friendly. But she has to go. I know, I know.
The tom has to go, too.
He has taken a dislike to me in recent weeks and I have to do chores with a stick (or can lid) so he can't attack me.
When he sees me he starts making a high whistling sort of noise and then rushes me.
He is not a nice bird. But my family, from the kitchen window, gets a kick out of watching my daily acrobatics trying to fill waterers and lug 50-pound grain bags with a psychotic turkey stalking me. And the mud slows me down.
On the other side of the farm, we said goodbye to Sam the steer and hello to two new calves. They're growing fast.
We still have a larger cow, Tramp.
And now we have a horse.
This is Lakoda, a paint/draft horse, I think? She belongs to my sister-in-law but is staying at our place.
And here's another sign of spring:
Piggies! This was their second day and they were still quite shy. But curious. Three of them ran into their hut when they saw me but the spotted one couldn't keep up.
In a moment, however, I saw them checking me out.
One piggy nose:
Two piggy noses:
And three piggy noses.
The fourth one chickened out, I guess.
They are more friendly now and I will of course be getting more pictures, as pigs are my favorite animal in the barn.
Indoors, I decided to spend less time on the computer and more time doing stuff instead of always reading about stuff. It's been an amazing transformation. I feel like I now have several more hours a day to get things done, and I am getting as much done as possible.
My daughter's two-sport winter season just ended so we've been enjoying a brief respite from practices, games and tournaments. I've had lots of weekend Time At Home, my favorite thing in the world. So I finished spinning yarn for a sweater for me:
At the moment it is the neckline of a top-down raglan I'm sort of improvising. I was thinking of something cable-y and interesting but I love the yarn so much (soft!) that I decided I want just a plain pullover that's all about the yarn, not the pattern.
I've been doing lots of bread baking and soup making. Today I started another 5-gallon batch of hard cider (we drank the last batch rather rapidly). It's easier to make than beer and we've developed quite a taste for it. It's drier than the Woodchuck hard cider and, in our opinion, tastier. If you are wondering what it tastes like, it's more like champagne with a faint apple taste, but nothing overwhelming.
It seemed awfully potent, and a quick look through my notes explained why: it's not 6.4 percent alcohol after all; it's 9 percent. Yikes. In my case, that means if I drink a 10-ounce glass I'm not legal to drive, but other than that (and maybe because of that!) it's been delightful.
I hung out laundry this weekend -- finally. It's the only household chore I even remotely enjoy and it's been several months since I've used the clothesline. Toninght we will sleep on sheets that were dried in the wind and sun earlier today. That's the way to end a weekend.
I started a few seeds yesterday, mostly leeks, which I have come to love for their role in soup stocks but which are ridiculously expensive at the store. And today I pruned the black raspberry bushes. Without bleeding.
Speaking of bleeding, Milo is still fine. And still hateful and vicious and biting and scratching when he wants to be.
Do not be fooled by his Dignified Cat pose. He's a menace.
Have a good week.