Archive for February, 2008

Hyacinth’s sisters!

February 29, 2008

Well, the doelings are home…for those tuning in late, these are Nigerian Dwarf doelings, which, when fully grown will stand 18 inches at the shoulder. They are dairy goats. Here is Daisy:


When Sue heard about Daisy, she suggested that the other two might well be named after the sisters of Hyacinth Bucket (Bouquet?) whom we all love watching, so the other two, who were named Teacup and Spike, have been renamed Rose and Violet. Here are the other two, Rose in front, Violet in the back. Rose is “maa-ing” for attention.


They do smell like goats, but not as strongly as the big standardized breed goats do. I don’t like that smell, but perhaps it won’t be too bad. We shall see! I did have to change my clothes after being out with them, but they HAD peed in their cage during travel and were wet when I picked them up. Hopefully, they will not be so smelly regularly! They are very cute, for sure.


Spring (?) Cleaning!

February 24, 2008

I’ve spent the last few days cleaning out my sewing room/study.  First I tackled the desk, preparatory to giving John all the details he needs to do the taxes for the year.  So I had to find the checkbook stubs, to record all charitable donations, etc.  Took a while.  In the process, I threw out reams of paper, old magazines, etc., and made a pile of all the bank statements from this year, adding to them the last four years’ worth, added all the little check book stubs(carbons, really), and stuffed the lot in a bag to go to the attic: gone from the study, where they’ve been taking up room in my small file cabinet.  Then, I organized all the knitting patterns that were piled here and there around the room, and put them all in one pile on the bookshelf.

Only when this whole process was finished, including the lists he needed, did I go to THE CORNER.  This is an area roughly 4 x 4 x 4, stuffed full with bags. In each bag is a knitting project in process or a quilting project in process.  I explored every bag, took scraps of leftover yarn and put them in one place (sock yarn in one bag: Mary likes to add a strand of sock yarn to the wool she used to make hats, gives them an interesting pattern), and other scraps in another bag, to be added to the great vat of them at Sue’s, used eventually by anyone wanting to make a multicolored, multitextured wool shawl.  I pulled out one poncho I’d started, which I decided didn’t look good, used too large a size needles.  Wound up all the wool from the almost finished project.  And I found the following still to be finished:

-purple sweater made out of dk merino, l/2 finished

-short sleeved sweater made out of multicolored (greens, oranges, rusts) knitting worsted

-two started lace weight shawls, each done about one foot

-patterns and yarn for three more shawls (went crazy at Knitting Guild of America show in July)

-12 skeins of sock yarn

-3 pairs of socks in process

-one quilt needing hand quilting finished

-two quilts in the piecing stage

-one quilt top needing stuffing and tying

Not too bad, right?  Plus enough yarn for three more sweaters, some machine made commercial, some handspun.

In the last two weeks, I’ve finished a sideways cardigan “topper” of multi blue Malabrigo merino and a tweedy grey poncho from the Jacob yarn I had made last summer by Pogo at Friends’ Folly Farm, and am currently finishing up two pairs of socks not mentioned above.  My goal is to get through all those projects in the corner before buying any new yarn or starting any new projects.  I wonder how long my zeal will last…Perhaps Cindy has a better idea: she put all her started projects in bags, and marked each one with a different month of the year.  One a month.  In between, she can do new stuff.  Somehow, I find that too confining: I mean, what if it’s July and I don’t WANT to work on the green shawl in July; maybe I’m drawn to the red one?  I guess we each do what works for us.  In any case, shearing happens in mid March, and by then, I hope to have most all of the projects done, all of the remaining fiber spun, and the basement cleaned up and ready for the new fleeces.  We shall see.

I guess this is all a form of Spring cleaning, though up here in nice chilly Vermont, where it’s six degrees this morning, Spring won’t be coming for at least two more months.  There is mud season in between: town meeting day, primary day, shearing and lambing.  In the middle of lambing, the days will start to resemble spring, and the buds on the trees will swell and may even begin to open, come mid-April, though that’s pushing it, maple syrup will start to run, and snow will melt.  Finally, the mud will dry up, we’ll have a couple of days of spring, and Summer will come upon us in all it’s beauty and green, hence, the name Vermont…Green Mountains.  Happy end of winter and Mud Season.

Another photo of Margaret!

February 18, 2008


This is Margaret just waiting for John to pick up that “new blue ring” (I know, it’s green, but the original one was called blue ring because it was blue and that is her name for that toy, so…) with his shoe and toss it to her, the week before she died.

A blessed moment…

February 13, 2008

I’m still missing Margaret like crazy, going through each day, taking a piece of cheese (no one to share it with), shoveling walks (no one to jump in front of the shovel and catch the snow), …

But, my kids and grandkids called Monday night and that was great.  They were all very upset, too. My oldest grandson was very shaken (he and Margaret had a special relationship; whenever we went there, she found him and the two of them went off together until we left, basically).

My six year old granddaughter who is a piece of work (very definite in what she wants: she frequently calls and says, “Granny, I want you to come tomorrow and bring me to Vre-mont!”  This is not a request: it’s an order.)  got on the phone and after the Margaret conversation, she said, “Granny, I want to ask you a question.”  “Okay,” says I.

Granny, can people be mailed?


Can people be MAILED?

No, Laura, people can’t be mailed. Baby chicks can be mailed. Some small animals can be mailed. But people can’t be mailed.

But we read a book in school and there was a person who was mailed to another person.

Sorry, Laura, people CAN’T be mailed.

She harumphed and gave me Peter to talk to. Then Vicki, my daughter in law got on the phone, and explained that since last week when they read that story in school, Laura has been after her every day to mail her to me.

It warmed my heart.  I wish people could be mailed!

A life…

February 12, 2008

On Sunday, my wonderful and beautiful Margaret Rose the Wonder Dog died. She was well right up through Tuesday. Wednesday, she didn’t seem quite herself. Thursday, she didn’t eat breakfast (which happened occasionally, so I didn’t think much of it). Around noon, she went out to pee, and I could see from the house that something was wrong. I walked out and looked at the pee in the snow: it was bright red. I rushed her to the vet, and oddly, on the way there, I had a premonition that she was gravely ill, and it crossed my mind that I might never see her again. The vet said maybe she had gotten some of the mouse poisoning, and in any case she was dehydrated, so she would keep her over night. We said goodbye. At this point, she seemed very tired and low. The following morning the vet called to say she didn’t have mouse poisoning. She’d done a blood test and an x ray and she had a very serious disease called immune mediated hemolytic anemia, which basically is a condition in which the body attacks itself and kills off all its own red blood cells. The protocol was massive doses of steroids, heparin because it also causes clots, more hydration and an antibiotic in case there was some possibility that there was a secondary infection. They don’t know what causes this thing to happen most of the time. She was in “intensive care” at the vet’s from Thursday to Sunday. I looked on the internet: it suggested that most dogs who have this die in the first four days, but some turn around on that fourth day: we were hopeful. We had caught it very quickly. Her hemocrit was 17 for two days, and then Sunday morning we got the call that overnight it had dropped to 10. (It should be 37-45. She had told me at 15, they transfused. At 13, it is difficult for the animal to support life.) She was dying. We went down to bring her home. She was so weak, she had to be carried to the car. If we just let her die on her own, she would have less and less oxygen available to her brain, and her death might be difficult and drawn out. So, we asked the vet to come to our home to euthanize her. I held her in the car all the way home, and cried and cried and talked to her and tried to sing some of her “Margaret songs” to her, haltingly. John carried her into the house and we put her on her bed with plastic under it. (She had lost bladder control at this point.) I called our neighbors and good friends, Sonny and Dottie, who were her second parents, keeping her whenever we went away. They came down. There was much petting and crying all around. I lay on the floor next to her, keeping her surrounded with my arms, her head leaning on my forearm. She gave me “huggies” (nose under chin) as often as she could lift her head. When Dr. Jones showed up, she heard her voice, lifted her head and greeted her. (Obviously they had bonded in her three days there.) We all said goodbye, and she administered the drug through the port to her IV, which she had left in, so she didn’t even feel the injection. She was unconscious almost instantly, and stopped breathing 20 seconds later. Within a minute she was on her way to whatever comes next. I have been witness to many deaths, but never have I seen one so peaceful and beautiful. It was truly in keeping with her life.

Yesterday morning was the first day she was not here and alive for chores. John had gone to work. When it came chore time, there was no Margaret to come in and tell me to get off the computer and feed her sheep. I had a bit of a crying jag, and grabbed her collar to put in my pocket. Somehow, silly though it was, it helped me not to feel so alone. All through the day, every step I took, just about, I was reminded that she was no longer walking this earth: I spilled flour (no Margaret to lick it up)…I took a catnap (no Margaret to lie down next to me on the floor by the couch and when I woke, to nuzzle me with her nose to say good afternoon, sleepyhead.) etc…lots of little crying jags. Lots of reaching in that pocket to touch the collar. Lots of grabbing the one skein of Margaret wool a friend had made for me years ago, and put it under my chin for “huggies.” (I think it is destined to become a scarf for me.)

She is being cremated and we will bury her remains in the spring.

Margaret was a wonderful dog. She was smart. She was well behaved. From the day I brought her home, she lived to please, and only had to be told once when she strayed from the rules, which was seldom. She wouldn’t come for her dinner unless she was told, “You’re invited.” We could leave food on the coffee table and go out and she wouldn’t touch it. Once when I went to N.J. when she was just under a year old, she refused to poop for three days because there was no “woods” (despite my telling her that my son’s back yard was the woods.) I had to take her out of Trenton into some woods, for her to go. She would avert her eyes if she happened in on me in the bathroom (door open, when no one is there…) and I was “pooping.” When she was out in the woods pooping, she looked up first to make sure I was averting MY eyes. She had learned to recognize several words when I spelled them. Only the week before, we had been at Sue’s store and Sue had asked me if she could have a COOKIE (spelled it), thinking Margaret wouldn’t understand, and Margaret had made little talking noises to her (meaning, Yes, I want a COOKIE). She was devoted to me, and totally dutiful toward the sheep and the chickens, and all other “chores” which were hers. (Getting the mail, taking water to the sheep, getting eggs, etc.) She went with me wherever I went, preferring the truck to the car, for she could sit next to me in the truck, and while driving, frequently requested (with her paw) that we do “arm dancing” (I took her arm and tapped it in time with the music on the seat. I loved her.

My son, Peter, who died 24 years ago, desperately wanted a dog. We even tried once to keep a stray he had brought home. But I didn’t like dogs. (Margaret converted me.) Now, he has a dog, for I am sure he is with her. As for that stupid poppycock of old theology that says dogs don’t have souls, I say, “Well, if dogs don’t have souls, then neither do people and the whole thing is one big ruse.” And my friend Suzanna (also a priest) says, “Heaven wouldn’t be heaven if there were no dogs there. My friend Donna (an Abenaki woman) tells that in Abenaki thought, when you die, you take a path to the new place, and you have to cross a bridge to get there, and at that bridge are all the dogs you’ve ever owned. If you treated them poorly, they won’t let you pass. My son, Peter, when six or so, and starting to spell seriously, announced in a rather loud voice in the middle of church one morning, “Mom, God backwards is dog.” Perhaps that says it all.

I will miss her. I don’t know if I could ever bring myself to have another dog. It wouldn’t be fair to a dog to follow Margaret. She was so sweet, so perfect, so loving. She had friends of her own, tons of them, who would greet her, talk to her and then say, “Oh, hi, Betty,” for they really came to see her. I know there won’t be another dog for quite a while, however: I need time to grieve.

I was so stressed when she was in the hospital that she would die alone in a cage in the middle of the night. I was so relieved that she came home. I did see her again, but only briefly, and she was so ill. Still, she was the same loving, sweet darling she always had been. Now I picture her with Peter, in whatever there is after this life, running through a field, herding sheep, often followed by Seemore, the recently deceased cat of a friend, just like Henrietta Pussycat here followed her on her rounds. It helps.

Here is Margaret a few weeks ago at Hodge Podge, her Auntie Sue’s store.


Yucky weather!

February 5, 2008

I woke up this morning to lovely soft snow, about 3″ of it.  By 6 a.m., however, when I turned the outside lights on after breakfast to see what was up, it had turned to little ice crystals, and by 7, more like rain and ice crystals.  Margaret and I just got in from feeding the sheep and chickens. The chickens, of course, were inside: they don’t do wet in any form.(Hint: if you’re going to be caught in the woods in winter and it’s snowing, you don’t want a down filled jacket: down is useless when wet; observe the chickens!)  The sheep who are rarely indoors regardless of the weather, were indeed inside. (Wool gives off heat as it dries, and is warm even when wet, but these girls decided enough was enough and were waiting patiently for me in the shed.)  They did go out, of course, when they saw that their grain, as usual, was at the far end of the paddock.  When we got inside, Margaret was soaking wet and so was I: she was dried off and put on her bed under a blanket to dry with some doggie cookies.  I changed into dry clothes.

So, now, as promised (I think?) here is a photo of my sweater which I washed and blocked yesterday.


If you look closely, you can see that the sleeve decoration doesn’t exactly match, which I discovered after they were done.  Ask me if I care!  It was a long time since I had done color patterns.  I think it may well be a long time before I do it again.

So, now I’ve got one sleeve done of the new project, which is done side to side in one piece, a three quarter sleeved sort of jacket, maybe a modern version of a 50’s “topper”, meant to be worn over a shirt or blouse, when it is a little chilly in the Spring or something…done with the Malabrigo yarn, in shades of blue and turquoise, which I got for my birthday LAST year (March).  You can see I’m a bit behind…

It being a day I don’t want to go out and drive around, I think I’ll spend the day baking cookies and such for Sunday’s church coffee hour, which I volunteered to do, and knitting…a good way to spend a yucky day.

First Blog-iversary!

February 3, 2008

Just looked up in the archives and I am fast approaching one year of blogging…mid February last year, I got into this adventure. It is fun!  I am very happy to be blogging.  It gives me an outlet for the need to write, for starters.  And a place to blow off steam and hold forth theologically, when the Spirit moves me.  And mostly, just a place to make note of my life and what’s happening around me and here on the farm.

Lasell sent me an updated photo of my little doelings.  I’m starting to get excited about their arrival in something like a month, and have been working on where they’ll live. For the first week or so, I want them contained in a good safe place, til they learn that this is home.  Maybe they’re not like sheep, don’t know, will find out for sure.  Sheep, when newly arrived, get put in a small pen, with clear boundaries til they get to know who I am and become acclimated to their new home.  I’m thinking that wouldn’t be a bad idea for the doelings, either.  It wouldn’t do to have them break out of their larger pen and be running all over the neighborhood, when they don’t know who I am, my voice, or anything about where “home” is.  So, they’ll start out in a very small paddock with high fences…maybe my dog kennel panels…that should work.  Once they are used to my voice, and this place, I can expand their territory.

I ordered my seeds from Fedco and Seed Savers’ Exchange last week, and also my new chicks and my new geese. (ARGH!  Hopefully, they won’t turn out to be as nasty as the last time I tried geese. I’ve been told that American Buff Geese are very different from the rest: gentle, not prone to attacking husbands, that sort of thing!)  We shall see.  It’s lovely to learn as you go.

So, now what might I do to celebrate my blogiversary…hmmm, will have to ponder that one.  Meanwhile, there’s chores to be done, and then church, and then, Sugar River Spinners at Shari’s today…I’ll bring my wheel and fiber, but also the sweater I’ve been working on seemingly forever: yesterday, after entirely too many hours of knitting in one day (read: sore hand), I finished the patterned yoke, so only have the neck and finishing work to do. The neck is supposed to be a very close fitting turtle neck…not sure I really want to do that.  Perhaps a regular neck will work better, since I’ll be wearing said sweater WITH a turtleneck shirt.  Ponderings, again…

The farm is recovering (or maybe, more specifically, husband is recovering: after all, it is he who went nutso shovelling the nasty stuff!) from a protracted snow/ice/frozen rain storm which left a few inches of very heavy, wet snowish stuff all over the place, too heavy for the snow blower, so “Path-man” with his obsessive compulsive path digging habit, had to get out there and hand shovel all his labyrinthine paths all over the yard: to the well (what if they have to get in it in winter?) to the compost heap (have to be able to access it), to the propane tank, to the woodshed, to the woods (for Margaret; her private toilet facilities), all the way around the house, to the picnic table (has to be brushed off between snows so we can look out the window and see accumulations during storms) to the “barn” (read: garage, wherein the cars are kept, not to mention where both freezers live)…I think that’s it…Luckily, the driveway(or up here,  our “road”) is plowed (snowblown) by a neighbor and the sheepgate is right next to it, requiring very little shoveling. (You’d think shoveling would have 2 “l”s.  Hmm…It was very slippery out there yesterday a.m. with the light airy snow, and ice underneath. Once the icepellets started falling and then the rain to weigh down the snow and turn it from “Vermont” snow to “N.J.” snow, it wasn’t slippery anymore!  Just ponderous.  But all things pass, and this morning, I’m sure chores will be much less life-threatening! (Broken bone  threatening?)  It’s still dark, but will soon be light.  Have a lovely Sunday.  I wonder if it (the sun) will make an appearance today!?