Thursday, March 31, 2016

Spring Progress

Photos up this morning and I planned a time to add words and then maybe to get on with typing notes for my current genealogy research.
Time at my desk didn't happen but I did fairly well with the rather ambitious list of tasks I set myself for the day.
There are always the puttering chores which must be done to keep us reasonably tidy--most of those don't require great application of brain and I tackle them in the morning.
I've been feeling that I need to diversify a bit rather than spend hours at one thing--whether it be reading on a specific subject [as in preparing a study presentation for church] hours of squinting at digitized vintage newspapers for family news items, and then pondering half the night attempting to sort generations and relationships; even the making of a quilt can become so focused that it is less a pleasurable achievement than another 'job' to be finished.
It could be said that once launched I don't do things in moderation!

For the past two years much energy has gone to the renovation of houses: the Bedford stone house which we thought might be our 'retirement house, then the unexpected acquisition of the two Amish farmhouses requiring upgrades for 'Englisher' lifestyle.
There is satisfaction in the accomplishments--but it was a long haul of climbing on stepladders, crawling about to 'cut in' paint along baseboards, clearing up dust and debris behind the 
resident renovator.
Getting here required two moves within a year!

There are a few things left incomplete in both houses but Jim has now turned his attention to machinery overhauls in anticipation of work on the land.

This leaves me wanting to regroup and sort myself.
I do not yet have a finished sewing room such as I envisioned. The room is painted and one light fixture with one electrical outlet installed. Until the small closet in that room is repurposed with decent shelving I can't unpack my fabrics and sewing tools as I would like. 
For the foreseeable future I will continue to set up my sewing machine at the table in the alcove off the kitchen--not a bad arrangement as it keeps me near the hub of things, but frustrating in that I must delve into big rubbermaid bins to find my fabrics, stash my tools in the dining area hutch.

With curtains made or altered and hung at the windows these many months, I want to return to quilt making--not so much to cover beds as to explore different stitchery techniques in smaller, more manageable projects.

Garden plans need to be reconsidered--both because we have a location with less easily worked soil and because I no longer wish to spend hours on my rickety old knees digging and weeding.
I'm not ready to give up gardening but it needs to be done on a different scale.

So--with the idea of working in less punishing shifts--I planned my day.
Breakfast made and the kitchen tidied, bedroom and bathrooms tended. 
No laundry today and no baking.
I brought out the instructions for a whimsical small quilt, considered the fabrics I chose more than a month ago, set some aside, refined my selection.
Two hours went by as I pressed, measured, cut.

A few minutes at my desk, then outside armed with my small pointy trowel and an old cushion for a kneeler. I weeded the perennial strips in early November when I hastily set in the last of the plants which had summered on the front porch.
Most of the little plants rooted in and took the winter well.
So did a new crop of weeds!

Jim roared out with the lawn mower, swerving dangerously close to my plantings while I lept in front of him, waving my trowel in defense.
He needed a quick lunch as there was an appointment with a friend, so I scrubbed dirt from under my nails and presented him with a hearty sandwich [home made bread!] a large mug of canned soup and a glass of milk.
I served the cats their 'tea.'

With Jim on his way, I considered turning to the genealogy notes, but jettisoned that part of my plan to continue digging in the garden.
There is the possibility of rain tomorrow which would only encourage the weeds.
The sun had gone behind clouds and the wind was up. 
Bobby, Nellie, Charlie and Willis joined me in the garden.
Nellie felt certain that I had prepared the area of newly turned earth for his purposes.

I was pushing myself by then, uncomfortable in spite of the cushion for my knees, feeling the urgency of the rising wind, glancing along the strip at the space yet to be weeded rather than focusing on the bit in front of me.
Unwittingly, I disinterred two small phlox, damaging one of them beyond help.
This is when I get into trouble: determined to finish a task when both energy and 
attention have waned.  
The sky was darkening with early dusk when I lumbered heavily to my feet, carried my tools to the porch. I scrubbed my hands again, thought of a mug of tea, but postponed that in favor of a walk.

The young goats were in their grassy enclosure and set up a clamour when I walked down the lane.
They are irresistible, so I turned up the lower farmhouse drive and went through the open gate to stand at the fence which bounds their outdoor nursery.
Seven bony heads thrust up to be patted, small hooves braced against the fence, bouncing, milling about, bleating for attention.
I was happy to oblige them, stroking soft warm flanks and velvety ears, laughing at the eager nibbling of my old jacket, telling them what beautiful babies they are.

Suddenly, all seven goats pivoted, fixed their attention on the outer pasture.
At first, peering through the grey-green dusk I couldn't see what had startled them; seconds later I spied Willis slinking across the grass, belly low to the ground.
He came to me, eyeing the goats with disdain.
B's recently neutered young tom-cat stalked from the barn, tail arched, fur on edge, singing the classic battle song of the feline tribe.
Willis, his own hackles rising, strode to the fence corner, rumbling dangerously.
He seemed to declare, 'This is my pasture, my barn.  I was here first!'
He plonked himself down by the fence post, wary, defensive.
The grey and white cat, Shadow, minced closer, ears back.
I stood between the cats, intrigued, wondering if I was about to witness a full-blown battle.
Soft darkness came down. 
From a far ridge came the sound of a dog barking--or was it a coyote.
In the woods beyond the creek an owl hooted--a great-horned owl.
The small goats pressed against the fence, intent on the cats. 
From the corner of my eye I registered a pale shape advancing from the stable to pace toward the two growling male cats.
It was one of the white with calico sisters, heavily pregnant but undaunted.
She added a low warning hum to the cat drama.

'You might as well get over it!' I announced to the cats.
'Yes, Willis, it was your barn fist, but now it is the territory of the goats and their cats.'

One of the little goats lined along the fence gave a sharp squeal and I turned to look.
When I turned back Shadow-cat had disappeared, melting into the night.

B. in the kitchen was holding a nursing bottle for one of the goat triplets who are three days old. 
She handed me the tiniest one to cuddle while she prepared the bucket of milk for the older kids.
Tucking the tiny goat into the nursery pen with her siblings,
I trailed out to watch the evening feeding.
My favorite of the young goats--a brown girl--was outside the pen, standing near the gate.
B. handed me the bucket of warm milk for safe-keeping and unceremoniously hoiked brown girl back into the pen.
Brown girl immediately bolted over the low electric fence, struck a hoof against the wire and bleated in surprise and momentary pain.
B. working by the light of the small head lamp worn over her wool hat, heaved the goat back in the pen, grabbed the milk bucket and joined the babies in the grassy pen.
I was content to lean on the gate, watching.  With the milk greedily consumed, the goats bounced around B.  They were 'letting off steam' in one last romp before returning to their 
night pen in the stable.  
They trailed B. into the barn, but forgot the drill of filing into the pen.
I caught the two smallest and pushed them into the pen, braced the door shut with my knee as B. cornered 4 more, one by one and popped them in. 
The last little girl danced about in front of the pen, distressed that she wasn't with her mates, but reluctant to be captured.
The dogs barked, several nannies stood on their hind legs, the better to see what was happening.
B. dished out grain and the  youngsters turned their attention to the feeders, clambering over one another to get to the treat.
B. needed to put away milk that had finished the pasteurizing process; I needed to go home.
We bade each other 'good night' and I trudged down the drive to the lane.

Overhead a cluster of stars shone around the waning moon,
Wind hummed through the nearly bare branches of the trees.
I had gone only a few yards up the lane when Willis popped silently from the hedgerow.
By the time I reached the house I had collected four cats.
Bobby flung himself at my feet and I hoisted him to my shoulder before he had a chance to do his usual evening runabout.
I made tea, dumped rice krispies and yogurt into a bowl. The phone rang--my son and his wife.
Jim arrived home.
I sit here at midnight, determined to finish this last task of the day.
Had I not played with the baby goats I might have accomplised the entire list which I set for myself.
Tomorrow I will sort myself again--what needs to be done, what would I like to tackle, what will be dictated by weather or unexpected opportunities?
The miracle of spring brings renewal, offers fresh choices, the chance to reassess and refocus.

Little goats in their pasture on Tuesday--their second outing in the big world outside the barn.

Grain is served.

A line-up of knobby knees along the trough.

J. spends a few moments with the goats.

A hedge of Bradford pear trees in full bloom on March 20th.

Vinca blossoming along the porch wall.

Iris hastily planted last June in the rough garden spot along the lane.

A brilliant tulip by a spruce tree.

The tulips were planted by one of the Amish women who lived here before us.

Full moon last week, seen through branches.

Nellie stops part way along the lane to watch water bubble into the culvert.

The greening of the pastures.

Willis taking a suspicious sniff--of what?

Redbud  in bloom on a grey morning.


  1. What a lovely post. I went to see Dawn, my blogging neighbour who has goats on her smallholding. I always hankered after some, but Keith said no.

    Like you, I have decided that advancing years and creaking bones decree a smaller area of garden to tend. But first in the paddock I need to remove some plants from the area I intend to grass over.

    I am glad there wasn't a proper cat set-to, but who knows what happens after dark?

    I hope you can get started on a quilting project to cheer you up - I have a hexi to restore and then found another big chunk of unfinished hexi when I was searching for fabric yesterday. I'd forgotten buying it. The latest hexi is sewn with the TINIEST stitches and I shall have to up my game to compete with the "invisibly stitched" look . . .

    1. Jennie; Jim said a resounding 'No!' to goats years ago then I thought they would be a good project. I'm realizing, that like any animals, the 'keepers' must learn a good deal to raise and maintain a healthy herd. B. has the work of them and I, next door, need only observe and enjoy.
      I was prepared to wade into a serious feline altercation--I suppose Willis considers that he 'won' simply by hunkering down and refusing to give ground.
      Don't you love the stitchery projects that turn up when we dig around for something else? At such moments I wonder why I thought I could finish one thing more!

  2. OH my! Spring is so beautiful at your home, Sharon! Thank you for sharing it with us. I've come to the conclusion that life is too short to finish everything, so it doesn't bother me when things don't get done anymore. Petting the goats was probably better for your soul, anyway!


    1. Jane; Petting the little goats is very relaxing--and watching them, as well as the older ones, is constantly amusing. I trudged home with my retinue of cats thanking God for this good place that I live.

  3. Spring is most certainly showing it's colors there in our neighboring Bluegrass State....just lovely.
    We are wanting to under plant a row of native Redbud trees at the edge of the woods, looking at yours makes me want them even more :)
    Sweet goats, they are such entertaining creatures.
    You are fortunate to live in such a beautiful spot !
    Happy Spring.

    1. Jo; The redbuds subside into twiggy anonymity after flowering, don't they? Springtime is their brief fling!
      We have family in TN--an equally beautiful countryside.

  4. Such a pleasure to read your post, and the photos are lovely. Especially the pear trees in blossom. We have soft fruit blossoming here, - apricots and peaches, but apples and pears will be a few weeks yet. Love spring, but it is hard to keep the garden work within bounds of energy....

    1. Hildred; Once spring arrives it seems to be a head long season demanding tremendous energy to tackle the garden work. I should accept that it is never going to get done to picture book standards.
      Bradford pears are a common landscaping feature here--not producing fruit but stately and beautiful with blossom early in the spring and late into autumn with leaves that turn a glossy dark plum color.

  5. Thank you for the words and pictures. My favorites are the red bud trees. They never seem to be as pretty anywhere as they are in Kentucky.

    1. Lillian; The redbud trees seem to fade into the landscape once their blooming time is past. Thus they are a surprise when spring rolls round again.