Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Dreams in Summer

Each summer, we look forward to Sean's family arriving for the warmer months. Now that his parents are retired, they are able to travel more; splitting their time between North Carolina, Florida, and Maine. While it is always lovely to visit and spend time together, it adds another layer to our lives. Instead of us working until sunset most days- we try to stop early for dinner or a game of cards when it is possible. And, feel self-inflicted guilt when it is not. ♥

This year, they are coming just days before Creatively Maine Pops Up again in Bucksport- for the first time, we will be opened July and August! Instead of focusing on weekly markets and weekend craft shows, I will spend the next 62 days at the shop. When I am not studying for Christian meetings and preaching the Word, milking goats, making cheese, tending animals, home-schooling girls, making soaps, scents, bee's wax wraps and massage melts, and restocking shops. It is going to be a BUSY summer. Thankfully, I am never alone. There is Sean. And, again this season, there is Shea (from Gentle Meadow Goat Farm). This would not be possible without them. Having never opened in the summer months, this is a risk- but one entered into thoughtfully with lots of HOPE.

So, with thoughts of our upcoming summer schedule clearly before us, Sean invited me to celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary a little early (like, 6 weeks early) since last weekend was realistically the only weekend we would have free until September. I already shared what romantic people we are. So it will come as no surprise that we celebrated our love and marriage by spending the weekend working together, completing projects to make our homestead more homey. It was perfect. Really.

New doe pasture lands.
We expanded both the doe and buck pastures by adding 150 feet of fencing to the does and an additional 100 feet of fencing to the bucks' pastures. This means our hay bill should lessen some- easing the cost of feeding this year a little.

We received the huge roll of greenhouse plastic gifted to us by our friend, Jenny of Pebblestone Farm. This will be the year that our greenhouse dream becomes a reality. We live in zone 5A. To be able to grow much of our own food nearly year-round and provide for ourselves and the families that have purchased CSA shares from us is a GIFT. We spent some time fencing the front garden beds and planting seedlings of tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, kale, broccoli, lettuces, and the like.

Bergamot, Stinging Nettle, Lavender, Oregano, Dill,
Lemon Balm, Peppermint, Anise, Apple Mint, Orange Mint,
Wintergreen, Thyme, and Chives
Almost to the front door. We need about 10
additional pallets to finish this project and then,
PAINT!
We found more useful pallets to fence the new path into our home. It will be completely lined with edible, perennial herbs. There is more to be done to it, but a good start has been made. The best part? Total cost so far is less than $50 and that includes the landscaping fabric, pebbles, and additional ornamental plantings! The girls are saving their pennies for a trip to Italy this fall and have cheerfully agreed to paint the fencing for me for a reasonable price.

Farm sink finished, counter tops tiled, and copper back splash installed. 
Sean has been working on our kitchen over the winter months. He installed this back splash to tie into the copper accents in our farm kitchen. I am in love with the look. It is EXACTLY what I envisioned. Sean will paint the ceiling with a fresh coat of paint tonight and other than replace the kitchen window and build my new farm table and benches, the kitchen will be finished!

Half way there! 
Finished!
For my part, I spent a little time spray-painting some Silkweeds DIY finds gloss white enamel. I reupholstered the seats with upholstery Sean and I found at Marden's for only $1.99/yard. (I grabbed 5 yards of the fabric so I can create bench cushions once I have benches and have a little left over for when the cats claw the seats and I have to redo them.) I love the finished look. The accent chairs are just what I wanted. I love the lines. I wanted chairs that were substantial, but still feminine; fabric that was "country" without being "dated". I am pleased with the results.

Eve checking out the new pasturage.
There is a saying, "Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life." By the end of the weekend, I could barely walk. My arms and legs are covered with fresh scratches from brush and thicket and new, blue bruises from carrying posts, buckets, and stray goats. My nails were crusted with dirt. Each night we crawled into a warm shower to remove bits of bracken, sweat, grime and tangles. Being clean never felt so lovely. We ordered out for pizza because we couldn't move another muscle to cook one night. We warmed left-overs the next. All the while, we talked and dreamed of the homestead we are carving out together. Best. Anniversary. Ever.... So far.

Monday came and life's rhythm resumed. Sean's week will be split between working on a concrete project at the beginning of the week and building a 10 x 10 woodshed he's been hired to construct at the end of the week. I spent yesterday cleaning the house with the girls, making chevre, yogurt, and feta, watering the gardens and completing the animal chores so that when Sean got home, we could eat dinner together as a family. I noticed that Phoebe-goat is definitely getting closer to kidding. It should be any day now. We are hoping for twin lamancha does. Of course, I am obligated to add, "but as long as they are healthy, we don't care if we get bucks." Between us, alive bucks are better than sick or dead kids of any kind- healthy does are better, though. And, healthy lamancha does are better than better. I'll post images as soon as she decides to kid for us. She is kidding much later in the season than we ever planned, but it's something to look forward to.

Thanks for visiting with us today, friends. We love your company.
~Sean and Sonja ♥

Monday, June 13, 2016

All Sean Ever Does is Build, Mend or Move Fencing and Other Stories From the Past Month

Found in our field! So pretty!
This post is going to be a long one, friends. I have been capturing images as we are living life, but Winter's rest quickly becomes Spring's frenzy- and I have been at a loss for more time. Time to post. Time to write. Time to think, really. In the rare convergence of an empty house and a full camera, I plan to steal a few guilt-free minutes to edit images and video and share happenings with you all. And, since this website is one of the only places in my world where I reign supreme, the stories will come as they flow from my fingers and not in the order in which any of them happened. Feel the power!

This Spring brought some unexpected and wonderful new additions to the homestead. One group of additions came via a phone call from a friend of a friend. Her family is moving and they were looking for a home for their geese and a couple of hens. Despite what our checking account thinks, we are not a non-profit entity. Though we would love to save the world, it is not a realistic view that we can take on every creature needing a new home. We have to ask several questions to see if the animal is a good fit for us and our plans for the future. Questions like: (1) Do we have the room to care for the animal(s), (2) Can we afford to care for them? (3) How will they benefit our homestead goals? etc. If they pass these questions, we visit and see if the animal responds well to Sean and I. Finally, Sean and I talk it over and make our decision. It is hard not to get our hearts invested, but we have to before we make the decision to commit to a new animal.

Ferdinand and Frances settled in and made friends with Caitlin and Justin immediately.
With those thoughts in mind, we were very interested in meeting Mariel and Annabelle's birds. They called about our caring for their Sebastapol goose, Ferdinand and his mate, Frances and their companion hens, Georgia and Winona. I have long wanted to add Sebastapol geese to our homestead, but they are not a necessity and their relative expense made them an unlikely addition... until now. The new birds settled in easily. Almost immediately, Frances began building a nest and laying eggs. Our intention was to allow her to hatch her nest, but after 5 weeks of sitting on them, none hatched in that attempt. We candled the eggs to see if there was any development, but most of the eggs had not been fertilized. We are hopeful to have some success in the future, but it seems that more practice and maturity is wanted from young Ferdinand.

Our next planned livestock purchase will be our family cow; a highland bottle baby. We have done our research and this is the breed that best suits our situation. For one thing, they are generally known to be relatively docile. They are on the smaller size for cows- around 800 pounds instead of 1200+ pounds. They browse more than graze and are bred to live in harsh conditions- our weather will suit them just fine. Plus, they are tanks in terms of health- generally hardy. Since we will only use the milk for our family's needs- 1-3 gallons/per day will be more than sufficient to make cream into butter and milk into cheese. (Pay Attention: This is called foreshadowing...)

Ever the romantic, originally, I was saving my pennies for a new push lawn-mower for our upcoming anniversary gift. The one I currently use is neither self-propelled nor does it have a shoot to direct the cut grass. I end up looking like She-Hulk after mowing for a bit. While green toes are all the rage this season, it would be very nice to have a mower that I can attach a bag to, which will collect the cut grasses. These can be recycled into bedding for nest boxes or composted. Nothing goes to waste if it can be helped! The new mower slid down my wish list when we found 330' of field fencing for only $139 last week. SCORE!!!!!


Fence installation: Take One. 
Why fencing in lieu of a mower? Our guinea fowl and ducks have almost unanimously decided that our neighbor's yard across the road and stocked with THREE dogs is the perfect place to hang out. You know, the grass is always greener... Sean and I protested this decision citing the danger of the road and the dogs. But, our protests fell on deaf ears. After losing two guineas and a drake this spring, we decided that we had to completely fence off the road frontage across the horse pasture and on the opposite side of our driveway. Last weekend, Sean and I spent two days installing welded-wire field fencing. We had an old roll that had seen better days and a brand new roll. Attached end to end, these spanned to about half the distance we wanted to cover. I looked online and discovered a sale at Tractor Supply, so my mower money went to fencing instead. I expected to pay about $70 for a roll of 100 feet of 4' tall welded-wire fencing- the kind to match what we already had on hand. It wouldn't work long-term for goats, but would be just fine to persuade birds to remain on the right side of it. Instead, I found real field fencing. The good kind; 12 gauge wire, 130 more feet for the same price as 2 rolls of the inferior kind. Color me happy! Except now, if we use the new wire, that will mean we have 3 different wires protecting the front of our property. While it will work, technically, it will look terrible. But, Sean just spent 12 hours not even a week ago digging posts and setting wire. You see the dilemma. Do I ask him to redo all his hard work for aesthetics? Or, do we continue on with the new wire and cut it off?

New high-tensile wire installation
So, the new wire is living where it should be- all in one line, across the horse pasture and there was enough left to install it to match the other side of the driveway, too. The rusted fencing Sean removed will go far into the woods to expand the doe pasture. It will need to be replaced at some point in the future, but it has some life left to it and I am less concerned about aesthetics in the back 40. Not only does the new fencing look better, it is perfect to safely hold in the dairy cow we will get ourselves for next year's anniversary present. That, my friends, is a good man. He never complained once. And, the cherry on top: after telling this story to our friend, Shea of Gentle Meadow Goat Farm offered us one of her unused lawn mowers. We need to check it out, but I am calling this a win all the way around!

Grazing in the newly opened pasturage.
Since we were on a roll with fencing, Sean grabbed his chain saw and set to clearing a four foot swath so we could set posts and expand the goat doe pasture. It is now as close to the river as it is going to be. We can call that side officially finished. We will add more fencing to the back area to open the woods beyond our backyard this year. We thought to make waddle fencing from the fast-growing alders, but upon more reflection, that idea was nixed in favor of high-tensile field fencing. While I love the idea of using wood from our land to make the fencing and it worked great for our raised garden beds in the backyard, the alders would need to be repaired as they decay, so there is the concern of upkeep. We also need to consider the time involved in harvesting alders, cutting them to size, delimbing branches and weaving the fencing. Additionally, I am worried about the fencing standing up to our herd of goats testing it. We are still planning on using it to separate our property line from that of our neighbors. That will give us some idea of how it will stand up over time.

Spring also brings the planning and planting of the vegetable gardens. We already built raised beds in the front garden and it is as large as it is going to be. This year, we purchased one 12' x 20' x 8' metal arched frame and were gifted a second one. These will fit end to end through the center of the garden beds. We will build wooden side frames off of the main support. Once covered with greenhouse plastic, our entire front garden beds will be covered under a working greenhouse for the first time ever!

Last year, we planted perennial lemon balm, apple mint, orange mint, wintergreen, peppermint, chives, dill, oregano, and mullein in the herb garden. This year, we added bergamot, comfrey, thyme, stinging nettles, and anise. I love the variety of herbs we are growing to flavor foods and create extracts and infusions for our goat's milk soaps. Unfortunately, so do the goats and chickens. These have joined forces to wreak havoc on my precious plants. The chickens love dust bathing in the fresh-dug soil and care not whether they pull up young, tender plants in the process. The goats have no excuse, they just rip entire plants from the ground. Because they are goats and they can. Something had to be done to protect my plants. Chicken wire was an option and while it might thwart the birds, it would not stand up to the goats. Also, it is not very pretty to look at. In a perfect world, money would be no option. Since that is not reality, we came up with a plan B. You have to use your imagination, but once the pallets are all secured so they run the entire length of our home, gates are installed on both ends, and the fencing is painted white, I think it will look great. Along the front of the fencing, I will plant flowering annuals and draping vines, like ivy or morning glories in pretty pots. Behind the fencing, my herbs will grow unmolested by birds or four-legged infidels. Guests will walk though the sweetly fragrant herbs to reach our front door, instead of braving the turkey-laden mudroom porch steps. Can you picture it? I can. Vividly. All I need now is 20 pallets in great condition, 4 sturdy, black hinges, 2 locks, a couple gallons of white paint and some river stones for the path.


2 barred rock chicks hatched
by a duckling and Jordan, our turkey poult.
We've had a single turkey poult and 16 chicks hatch so far this season. A leghorn hen is sitting on a nest of another dozen eggs in the pig shelter. They should hatch any day. A Rhode Island Red hen is sitting on a nest of random eggs in the chicken coop. These should hatch in a couple weeks. We have not had success with ducklings this year so far. Out of 4 nests, we had only one duckling hatch- and his Momma squished him accidentally. One duck hen hatched 2 barred rock chicks, but her duck eggs never hatched. It is discouraging. There is still time, but I really thought we would have a few goslings and ducklings already.

Peter and Jareth. 2016 kids
Fresh Chevre with Chives
We had 15 healthy kids born on the homestead this season; 8 bucks and 7 does. Of those, we are planning to keep 3 does to add to our line. And, we are still expecting goat kids from Phoebe and maybe Cassie. Phoebe has begun to form her udder, but she is keeping secret as to when she thinks her kids will drop. Cassie is a wild card. She is HUGE, but no udder at all. I think she is pregnant. Sean is unconvinced. We'll see! In the meantime, goat's milk is flowing. Sean and I are milking 6 does each morning and I am making cheese nearly every day. Today was feta and yogurt. Yesterday I made chevre. With all its ups and downs, it feels like we are making progress towards making this homestead a real working entity. I have the callused hands to back that up and I wouldn't trade it for the world most days.

Thanks for checking in with us today, Friends. We're glad you are here.
~Sean and Sonja ♥








Monday, May 9, 2016

Mother Hen Hatches Her Nest

I can't believe that an entire month has passed since I last wrote. Where has the time gone? Most of it has been spent caring for our animals and restocking in preparation for upcoming shows and shops. Sean is working steadily for clients; replacing roofing, repairing clapboard, painting, repairing drywall. He's also been busy at home. Besides his regular chores, Sean finished painting out our kitchen cupboards and furnishings and installed our daughter, Caitlin's new kitchen sink and counter top. I have posted images on our FACEBOOK PAGE and if you are not already following us there, please join us!

Rather than recap all the happenings for the past month, I'll start with some fresh news: Baby Chicks!

Several of our feathered females are broody. Currently, we have duck Chapelle sitting on a nest of 9 turkey eggs and a dozen of her own Muscovie eggs inside Jasmine's stall. Frances is sitting on a nest of a dozen goose eggs inside a dog crate within the duck and goose enclosure. My favorite hen turkey, Lydia, is sharing a nest with another hen. Between them, they are sitting on over 2 dozen eggs under our rabbit hutch. Priscilla is sitting on a nest of turkey eggs inside the chicken yard. And, our hen, Maggie has chosen to lay her turkey eggs up in the rafters of the chicken coop. We are excited for all the chicks, goslings, and turkey poults to hatch.

Someday, we might invest in an incubator for better control of hatching, but for now, our chicks are hatched naturally, which has its pros and cons, like everything else. In the Pro column is that even with nights still dipping into the 30's and below, we don't worry about the temperature of the eggs. The mothers are perfectly suited to regulate the proper temperature for their nests. We don't fuss with turning the eggs or measuring for proper humidity. In fact, mostly, we leave them alone as much as possible. The Con side includes predator attacks on either the mother, the eggs, or both. About a month ago, in the middle of the night, we had a fox take a mother hen from a nest she made in the pig stall that had only about a week left before hatching. It was heart-breaking to lose the hen and and all the would-be chicks. Once in a while, a Mother hen gets tired of sitting on her nest and leaves it before the chicks hatch. Sometimes, the chicks don't hatch all at once and get trampled by their siblings or don't get warmed up fast enough and die. Hatching with an incubator is not danger-free nor stress-free. Power outages happen. Spikes in temperature or drops in humidity can all effect hatching. We just do the best we can with what we have. It is all anyone can do. Thankfully, most of the time, things go well and the result is fluffy, chirping, healthy chicks. ♥

Our first nest to hatch was the only hen laying in an approved nesting area, an actual nesting box. Momma hen hatched 6 eggs without our assistance and another with a little help from her friends. (See video)


We're trying to get back into the habit of writing more frequently, but Spring adds a lot of work on the homestead. Right now, we are prepping for gardens and CSA Shares. We'll post more later! Thanks for visiting with us today, friends. I hope you have a great day! ~Sean and Sonja ♥

Monday, March 21, 2016

Graphic Video: Breach Birth~ Naomi & Bailey Kid Over the Weekend

As predicted, Naomi kidded yesterday. And, in typical Naomi fashion- she stole off into the field to have her kids without our prying eyes or helping hands. Sean cared for the afternoon chores on his own yesterday. So as to not steal his joy in gifting me the afternoon "off", I let him... Until he raced back inside with a shout of, "Kids dropped in the field.... Naomi.... looks like one is already dry and standing... you want to help?" Storm door slam. Boots a-movin'.

Of course I wanted to help. Well, to be completely honest, I was tired and *really* wanted to nap, but that was not going to happen, regardless of kidding. Sean grabbed towels and headed back to the field. I slid on my boots and barn coat, grabbed my camera and followed Sean to the barn.

Naomi was laying under the outside manger in a mess of discarded hay from before the winter snow came. As advertised, one kid was nearly clean, mostly dry and standing wobbly. Naomi was clearly still in labor and pushing hard. I was mortified to spy the unborn kid's leg sticking out, no head. Sean said, "It's breach." as the thoughts formed in my mind. We didn't wait. Sean immediately reached inside, hooked the other leg and pulled it free of its mother's body. Naomi may not like to have our assistance, but she needed it today. It was difficult to see if the kid was moving or not and there was no time to wait or inspect. I braced myself that it might be still-born. Sean applied steady pressure and pulled the kid free. We both sighed in relief to see the kid kick and sputter.



Trauma forgotten. Naomi cleans Jareth.
Tobey enjoys some Colostrum. 

I picked up both the kids and Sean led Naomi to an empty, clean kidding stall in the barn. Sean grabbed some fresh hay, grain, and a bucket of fresh water while I helped clean and dry the kids. Naomi kidded twin bucks. They are gorgeous. One is red, like his Momma. We'll name him Jareth. The younger buck is black with a white blaze on his forehead and white saddle across his hind legs. His name is Tobey. They are both Nigerian Dwarf/Lamancha cross. They both have lamancha "elf" ears. :)

After things settled, we gave Bailey a once over. I suggested that we put her into the other empty kidding stall for the night. "I can, but she might not kid for days still. Do you want to keep her confined all that time?" Sean asked. I did think she was close, but Sean was right and I was still tired. I should have gone with my gut.

Chloe was very interested in what was happening on the other side of the wall.

This morning, Sean went out to check on the new baby goats and their Mommas and discovered Bailey had kidded in the night. She had one pure white kid curled up with her. Sean looked around to see if she'd had a twin, which we expected. No kid in any of the doe stalls. He turned to come inside to relay the good news, but then thought, "I better check the buck stall, just in case..." And, there she was. Curled up in a corner, sleeping peacefully. Another tawny kid. They were both dry and cleaned off and the placenta had already passed. Sean took a minute to give them a once-over and check for their gender. Two does! Both Lamancha "cauliflower" eared! Winner! These ladies will stay here on the homestead. We named the pure white lass, Rebecca and her sister is named Tabitha. We'll call them Becca and Tabby.

Bailey is attentive and cleans her kids regularly. This one is Tabby. 
Tabitha: Sanaan/LaMancha Cross.
Where do you keep your extra cute? In your wattles, of course!
 That brings the total to fourteen kids born on the homestead this year; six does and eight bucks. We believe that we have three more does to kid; Leah, Cassie, and Phoebe. I think they are due next month, but goats being goats... who know? ;)
Becca the beautiful. Sanaan/LaMancha Cross.

Tobey~ Nigerian Dwarf/Lamancha Cross 
Jareth~ Nigerian Dwarf/Lamancha Cross
Thanks for visiting tonight, friends. We're glad you did.
~Sean & Sonja ♥


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES~ Hadassah Kids Twin Does

The time has come for the second round of kiddings on the homestead. Hadassah (Haddie) is the first of this group to kid. We are expecting Bailey and Naomi to follow her any day now, but goats being the creatures they inherently are, it could be another month. We'll let you know about any new kids as they arrive.

Haddie's labor went almost textbook perfectly. The only strange element was that the first "bubble" presented, was not the first kid delivered. And, that "bubble" did not break until the second kid arrived. A little strange, but since we have two healthy, beautiful does to show for the laboring, we will not complain. (The "bubble" is the amniotic sac containing the kid(s).) In these images, you can see the intact bubble below the second bubble holding Mackenzie, the first kid actually born. The second kid is still inside her unbroken "bubble" almost ready to be completely born. It was strange and another first for us. Usually, a "bubble" presents, a kid starts to emerge and we hold our breaths until we see 2 hooves and a nose. We keep holding our breaths until that kid moves in any fashion. Then, with a sigh of relief we wait in case we are needed, but basically, we let nature do its thing.

We hope you enjoy the video and images of Hadassah's kidding. Since I caught the second doe, I only got pictures of her being born.



MacKenzie, Oberhausli-Lamancha doe, 7 pounds
Miss MacKenzie was READY to move when she was born. She stood within minutes of her birth, found her Momma's udder, latched on and nursed with no assistance from us.

As lovely as she is, MacKenzie is not for us to keep. She will be paired with Mason and we'll find her a great home with folks who want to raise dairy goats.

We thought to pair the second doe born with Kirk because of her coloring and planned to name her Marimanee (Mari) accordingly. After considering it for a bit, we decided to pair her with Theodore (Teddy) instead. They have lovely complimentary coloring and both of them have full ears, where Kirk was born with lamancha elf ears. They are also very evenly tempered; as goats go, these two are laid back and sweet. That being the case, we are going to call our champagne coated doeling, Brice.
Brice (Oberhausli-Lamancha) doe, weight 7 pounds
We'll have lots of new images of these two in the days and weeks to come. Thanks for visiting with us tonight, friends. We're really happy you are here!

Sean & Sonja ♥

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Homestead Updates


This week has passed in a blur of working, building, making, designing, and kidding. Whew! I know you are all anxious to read about the new kids born yesterday and I am in the process of editing the videos I captured, but that takes a lot of time. That video is uploading and when that finishes, I will post it, too. I am hoping to have it finished tonight. We'll see if the interweb cooperates with that plan.

In the meantime, I can update you on Superman's hand. I removed the stitches on Friday because I couldn't put Sean off any longer. I really wanted to give it a full 10 days of healing before taking them out. I was worried that if they weren't ready to be removed, it would reopen and have needless complications. But, they were driving Sean mad. He started insisting I remove them on Tuesday. Since Sean's skin was starting to grow over his stitches, he won and out they came. The injury is healing well and improving every day.


With the improved weather last week and Sean feeling better, we were able to repair and move the wind-damaged turkey fencing to fully expand the duck and geese enclosure. From 64' × 32', it more than doubled again to 64' x '90', which gives the ducks and geese an area totaling approximately 5760 square feet to wander and explore.  Ferdinand and Frances have settled in well. Frances is laying eggs in a nest. We are hopeful that Frances will hatch a nest this Spring. 

All the birds are picking up in their egg-laying.  We are collecting roughly 14 dozen eggs each week right now and that should increase as the daylight does.  We have five egg shares spoken for and can easily satisfy another five shares, so if you are local and are interested in farm fresh eggs each week, let us know! An egg share provides a total of 18 dozen eggs for the cost of $50- that's only $2.78/dozen!!!


One morning this week, Sean and I walked through the woods to where it borders the stream at the back end of our property, dreaming of this year's fence expansion for the goats. It is a lovely space. Quiet and peaceful. It may not get finished until next season, but we are hoping to be able to finish the goat pasture expansion this year. If we can, this is the view they will enjoy. Not too shabby, huh? Now, imagine it in high summer, with the stream running with small fish and wood ducks and the brown grasses alive and green.


Sean wants to fence so the stream is the fourth wall of the pasture. I think that would look lovely, but I am very worried that the goats would go swimming- though they are not known to like water- just because they are GOATS. Goat code clearly reads that any time it is inconvenient to follow goat etiquette, goats will do as they please, when they please, how they please. Research is wanted before we do anything more, but it is a good idea...

 While I am discussing those goats, this goat has decided that she can roam at will. She has discovered a place in the back woods where with just a little pressure, she can slip under the fencing. I followed her to see where she was getting out and caught her in the act. She caught me watching her and slowly removed her head from the fence and sauntered back to the barn hoping all the while that as an inferior-brained human, I would forget it and not repair her escape route. Look, I am not denying that they may have the upperhand in the "Canniness Department". I just don't like it rubbed in.

Afterward, she spent the afternoon pretending that all was well in the world while secretly planning her next escape attempt. Peter is only a few weeks old, but look how he has grown! He is going to take after his Daddy and be a big buck, for sure!

We have had a bit of bad news, too, to share. Sean and I replaced the damaged turkey fencing panels with some four-foot tall, rolled chicken wire and metal posts. Since our animals free-range, fencing is meant to give a small barrier to predators, not keep our birds contained. The downside of freedom is danger. And, that struck us last week. We lost three turkeys in two days. At first, Aquila was missing at night when we went to put them to bed. That isn't completely unusual, as the turkeys have a penchant for roosting on our roof, the chicken coop roof, or in the summer pig pen. I wasn't too worried. In the morning, we were missing two turkey hens. Sean went searching the woods and found them. It was clear a predator had taken them- most likely a fox. That night, we brought them up to the chicken yard. There have been no further attacks, but it is still hard to lose animals, both mentally and financially. The alternative is captivity and that brings its own risks. We will continue to free range our birds as much as we can. Despite these rare attacks (this has been the 2nd in seven years), we feel it is better for our birds to live as freely and naturally as possible. But, another advantage of expanding the goat fencing is that they do a wonderful job of clearing out the brush and under-growth. Open land means less cover for a would-be predator to get close to our birds.

I don't want to end on a sad note. Overall, things are going well for the homestead. We can feel the weather changing and with it, we are bursting with plans for the coming season. As soon as the video of Haddie's kidding uploads, I will post that for you, too.

Thanks for visiting with us today, friends. We're glad you're here.

Sean & Sonja ♥

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES!!!!!!! Superman's Kryptonite

Our resident Superman is adept and capable of tackling nearly any project that needs it. His ability to improvise, adapt, and build our dreams with his strong hands, is just one of the reasons why I love Sean so. There are many. My Superman has his kryptonite, though; it takes form of a simple, utilitarian box cutter. Exhibits A-C: (a) Before Sonja, Sean gouged his side with a box cutter while working at Petco. (b) While cutting a rubber trash can to create a chicken feeder, Sean sliced open his thumb, which is still numb in one area. (c) Sean nicked himself through the years in various box-cutting mishaps. Which brings us to this morning. Sean is really careful using box cutters and open blades, having experienced their wicked help before. He thought to make certain that his appendages were well away from danger. Yet an accident still happened while using a box cutter to remove a sliver of wood from the side of a door, so as to insert the hinges. His hand slipped. His hand slipped with enough force to slice through the fleshy part between his left thumb and forefinger, leaving a gaping, perfectly parted, 2 inch wound- very nearly to the bone. It severed through Sean's skin, protective fat, vein and nicked the muscle within. Blood welled bright red and gushed from it. Thinking quickly, Sean clamped his uninjured hand over the injury and pinched together the skin while moving off the family room's carpeted floor- so as to bleed on the more easily cleanable wood floor- and calling for my help.

I had been chatting on the phone with a friend, took one look at Sean and the blood running through through his hands and dripping onto his pants and said, "I have to go. Sean's hurt." and hung up the phone. Sean was not going into shock, but he was clearly hurting and the amount of blood running from his hand was ringing alarms in me loud and strong. We are not easily scared by injury. We do most of our own doctoring around here. Step on a nail- clean it, disinfect it and bandage it. Dislocate a thumb- put it back into place while you have the window of shock to cushion the pain. Slice yourself- clean it, disinfect it, butterfly it if you can. Even without seeing the wound up close, there was NO doubt in my mind that Sean needed help and stitches. I was a little sick at the thought that he might be more gravely injured than that. I grabbed a clean towel and on the count of three had Sean quickly remove the pressure of his hand and push the cloth over the wound. It happened so fast, I couldn't see more than blood, so I still had no idea how bad this was. The nearest hospital is 20 minutes away and we spent the ride there joking to each other to lighten the mood. It was laugh or give in to the fears and worry.

Inside the Waldo County General Hospital ER, Sean's hand was still bleeding profusely. In the waiting room, the blood ran down his palm, through the cloth and dripped onto the floor. While a more absorbent cloth was applied, I got my first peak at the damage. It was bad- worse than I imagined. There was no doubt Sean would need stitches.

He joked," Are you sure you don't want to just stitch me up so we can get back to work?"

"Well, we came all this way, we might as well let the doctors have a go at it." I replied. "Oh, that's a good picture! Stay still."

The triage nurse did not know what to make of us. Obviously Sean was injured, but he was joking and laughing in between wincing in pain. And, I was taking pictures of everything. What a pair of loons she must have thought us!

The staff was wonderful. Professional. Competent. Compassionate. Sean was numbed, debrided, stitched and released within a couple hours of arrival. 12 stitches: two inside to close around the muscle and ten outside to close the skin and keep everything in place where it belongs. Sean should not suffer any permanent damage, but he won't be doing much in the way of work this week- if he'll listen to me.

Debriding the wound, even numbed made Sean wince and jump. 

A lovely row of neat stitches.

Final product. Everything back inside where it should be.
The unexpected trip put us behind schedule on the list of things we needed to do today. Things like, making soap and cheese, mailing packages, washing the laundry, replacing Kristen's bedroom door and deep cleaning the chicken coop. While we were gone, the girls helped with straining the feta cheese and setting it to drain. They also kept the laundry going. Once we were back at home, Meaghan and Kristen pitched in to help us with the afternoon chores, while Sean looked on in frustration and carried water buckets and bales of hay with his good hand whenever I turned my back for an instant. Sean restrained from using his hand and chores completed, Sean walked Kristen through using a chisel and hammer to finish preparing her door to be hung and ate his lunch. I talked Meaghan through making garlic alfredo sauce for tonight's dinner. The list that needs attending is still long, but we'll get through it together. Milking goats in the morning should be interesting!

I had planned on writing to you tonight about other happenings around the homestead. I'll try to make some time to finish those posts as soon as I can. In the meantime, thanks for visiting with us tonight, Friends. As always, we are sure glad you are here.

Sean & Sonja ♥