At the end of October, we hosted our first Open Farm Day. Some 52 guests visited with us for the day. We prepared for 100 people not knowing how our advertising had been received. We were pleased to have as many guests as we did. Sean demonstrated how to milk a dairy goat for interested ones; some bravely tried their hand at it. I showed a small group how to make our goat's milk soap from scratch and then assisted anyone who wanted to make soap samples to bring home for themselves. My sister, Kelli, spun fiber into yarn on a hand spindle and spinning wheel for interested spectators. My favorite part of the day was answering questions and sharing how we keep our flocks and herds here on the homestead. Sean thoroughly enjoyed helping people to make apple cider with the borrowed, antique, hand-cranked apple press, aching arm muscles and all.
Our own wood situation is a bit of a concern. We mitigate our need for heating as much as humanly possible. The heat does not come on until November 1st and goes off again in March. We keep the house in the 60's when it is just ourselves at home and dress in sweaters and warm socks. With careful husbandry, we get along with using just a few cords of wood each season. But, with all the other demands on our time; running the farm and preparing for and attending craft fairs and art markets, we are really behind in getting ourselves ready for this year's cold. The meager two week supply of wood living in the barn makes procuring wood, splitting, and stacking it a real priority.
At the beginning of the month, we met a reporter from our local Bangor Daily News newspaper named Brian Swartz. Brian visited us early one morning and interviewed Sean and I for a story about our Mosaic Eggshell Jewelry line. There is a saying that says, "There's no such thing as bad publicity." Good publicity is even better. Brian's positive article was published a few days ago (Read it Here) and immediately resulted in us getting several new orders from our Etsy shop and FB page. How exciting!
The final touch on our barn project for this year was building and installing three doors; one between the buck's stall and their field, another between the doe's stall and their field and the last between the horse's stall and her field. The weather dropped into the teens with wind chills reaching the negative digits, just in time for it to be as miserably cold as possible for us to complete this last project. We could not wait or put it off, not with the cold expected to last and the wind whipping directly into the opened stalls. My legs stopped feeling the cold after about an hour's time into our work. It was miserable work made more so by frozen fingers, clumsy and numb, but it had to be done. It took us nearly 5 hours in the frigid cold to complete, but once finished, the barn was snug and cozy and its occupants are as safe as we can make them for the winter ahead.
Even dressed in layers and warming up inside by the wood stove periodically, I still managed to get a mild case of frostbite. When we finished and went inside for the night, I changed into warm, comfy pj pants. My legs and feet were bright red- like the color of a cooked lobster and ice cold to the touch. My youngest, Meg, helpfully drew a warm foot soak, but I could only stand to have my feet in it for a few seconds- it felt like sharp little icy needles were stabbing me all over. It took a couple hours to thaw out, but I eventually did with no lasting harm. I have a pretty good pain tolerance, but I have never felt like that before and hopefully never will again!
So far, Ebony seems to be pleased with her new digs. What they lack in size is made up for in warmth. Charles and Simon (our barn roosters) and their small flock of hens visit her when there is food to be stolen and have taken to roosting along Ebony's 2x6 pen boards at night. Our Miss Piggy has not been used to waking early in the morning to a chorus of crowing 2 feet from her head nor to the clanging of milk pails and the bleating of goats being milked, but seems good-natured about the change. She issues a disgruntled grunt or two from under her mound of hay and then resumes her snoring. The addition to Ebony in the milk room gives the does pause each morning when they take their stands. They stop short and eye her snoring mound of hay suspiciously but grain in their buckets coaxes them to take their places and milking resumes uninterrupted.
So, that is where we are and what we've been doing. Things are moving along as they do. We are getting prepared for winter, slower than we'd like, but steadily improving matters. For the first time ever, I am looking forward to snow- if only for the quieter pace of less to do in gardens, in the barn, and selling our wares. A rest of sorts before Spring returns and with it a flurry of new activity.
I hope this post finds you all healthy, wealthy, and wise. ♥ Thanks for visiting with us today.
Sean and Sonja ♥