I came home last Monday night after three days spent in Washington working on business for the Association for the Study of Peak Oil and Gas, and it was one of the most glorious homecomings I could imagine. Not only was there the joy of coming home to my boys and Eric, but also my home is more like paradise in June than at any moment.
(Mac the Marshmallow waiting to welcome me home)
We’re headed into the transition point from spring to summer, and you can feel it. The spring bulbs are behind us, the peonies are in bloom, the animals are fat and happy on lush growth, and there are jars of jam multiplying on the shelves and herbs hanging to dry in the mudroom. There are peas, strawberries, the cherries will be ripe next week, and instead of a sense of new beginning, there’s a racing towards fruition.
Literally fruition in this case – despite a chilly, wet spring generally, we were fortunate to have only a couple of light frosts in late April and May, and so the fruit set has been the best we’ve ever seen. Our apricot, peach, quince, apple and plum trees are as laden as they’ve ever been. It is never wise to count your apricots before they ripen, but we’re cautiously hopeful for a delicious summer.
Eric’s two hives of bees got off to a slow start, arriving in a period of cold, wet, dreary weather that slowed them down, but they are building comb and there’s plenty of brood now, so we’re cautiously optimistic that summer will go well.
The first cycle of goat birthing ended in May, when Mina gave us the most adorable little buckling we’ve ever seen, Aristaeus (Greek God of Beekeepers, of course). He joined Calliope, Polyhymnia, Urania (no we only got 3 muses ), Daedalus, Orpheus and Janus as the first batch of babies.
The second group of six goats, due in late June and into July will be named for alcoholic beverages (at the suggestion of good friends of ours). I’m personally hoping for triplet boys named “Grog” “Porter” and “Stout” while our friend propose “Midori” and “Chambord” as pretty names for doelings. Eric wants an “Ouzo.” We are taking suggestions, but have already firmly rejected “Mad Dog 20/20″ fyi .
In other goaty news, our dear friends Jamey and Carol, who sold us our first does, did the breeding that provided much of our herd and have provided us with endless support and advice are getting out of goats for personal reasons. We have purchased two of their senior does, Erica (Jessie’s Mom) and Morgan; and best of all, their buck, Wiggy, who we once borrowed, and who is the author of Arava’s astoundingly wonderful udder.
Wiggy is here on the farm to our delight – he is the sweetest and friendliest buck we’ve ever met, with the personality of a puppy. Frodo, however, our beloved senior herd sire (also incredibly sweet, but less goofy – Frodo has a friendly dignity that he brings to everything) is well, sulking. Wiggy’s arrival has displaced him, and while the other goats take the new power arrangements in stride, Frodo resentfully turns his back to us and Wiggy, won’t let us pet him and is otherwise informing us that we’re jerks for bringing in this other boy.
Erica and Morgan will come to the farm in a month or so, since Morgan is still nursing her babies. We’re excited to have them!
Our first batch of chicks lived by the woodstove for a long, long, long (did I mention it seemed long ) time too early, but we’re expecting a batch of meat birds, turkeys and a few more layers any day now. I love brooding chicks in summer!
One of our hens hatched out two babies – a trio of Buff Orpingtons!
As the herbs come into flower, drying them becomes a major project here. We convert our mudroom into a drying room, and the room fills with scent and bouquets of herbs. Our goal is to dry quickly and get them into glass so as not to lose scent, flavor and other important qualities.
And why did I mention cows in the title of this post? Well, technically bulls – our shared sheep arrangements didn’t work out this summer, and something is desperately needed to eat the grass in our larger field. Something, it turns out, is two bull calves we bought from neighbors at the other end of the valley – they will be raised for beef this winter first on extra goat’s milk and then on the lush grass. The kids are enjoying the project of bottle feeding them.
Getting them home was an adventure in low-energy transport. It turns out that two large calves can, in fact, fit in the back seat of a Ford Taurus, but not without some minor dismay on the part of the driver. Also, if you are going to drive with two calves in the back seat of your compact car, you should probably consider covering the seat with something other than an old polyester sheet – polyester is slippery. Either that, or definitely avoid sudden stops. But everyone made it fine and a good time has been had by all!
And that’s what’s going on here! Please, if you haven’t let us know what’s up with you (in the previous thread) do share!
(The bucks send their regards!)