Friday, October 16, 2009

Snow is on the way

Haggis the Australian Skunkherd and I couldn't sleep, so we got up and went out in the yard so Haggis could piddle.

Once sprayed, twice shy, I watched carefully for skunks while the dog did his business. It's been cold at night, around freezing, which is pleasant when the house is warm, especially when the stars are out.

By the time we had done that and put a log on the fire and made some coffee, it was three in the morning and nothing much to do, so I read my favorite British daily, the Guardian, and all my favorite blogs, and then for no good reason decided to look through my pictures for the year.

I found these shots that were particularly good but either not published on the blog yet, or interesting enough (to me at least) to put up again. Most are wintry shots, which reminds me of all the yard work and other crucial jobs I have yet to do before we're ready for that season.

I'd better get cracking because we can already see snow on the Maine mountains to our west.

Click on each photo to make it bigger, if you want.

From the top:

1) Icicles forming on the porch roof last winter. Ice is a major threat to Maine buildings and has to be fought vigorously. These formed because I somewhat carelessly installed a baseboard heater in the porch to keep the dogs warm and their water supply unfrozen on the coldest days when we're at work all day, but there's only R 11 fiberglass in the crawl space above the porch. I need to seal it up and blow in some cellulose. And yes, that is a five-foot snowdrift outside our garage door.

2) Our barn in midwinter. We get cold, clear Canadian air a lot in January and February. It's not so terribly unpleasant to be a winter Mainer when the snow is deep and the sun is out. You can get used to six months of winter.

3) Mud season, April 2009, on our driveway. This is a season that Maine has that few other regions of the US share. Mainers complain about mud, but I think we secretly like it. It means that spring is coming. It's also an interesting challenge to getting around.

4) Lambs get born in the barn in mud season. This would be one of Jewel the ewe-l's twins coming into the cold, harsh world. I'd get back in if I were him. We only tend to lose lambs if we fail to keep the ram away from the ewes in September and October, and they get born in January, like as not dropped in a snow bank where they can die of exposure. So we separate the ewes from the ram and any ram lambs each year in the first or second week of September, which means the lambs get born in March and April.

5) Lambs play king of the hill on their water trough. We kept it covered with a pallet to keep out the ducks, who would swim and shit in the water because, due to the stock tank heater we use, it was the only unfrozen water around. Never going to have ducks again, at least not in the barn with the sheep. Noisy quacky things that poop in all the other animals' water. But the eggs were nice.

6) Aimee with Polly-lamb, born to Molly, one of Snorri's kids. I have this picture framed and in my office at work.

7) Van (Gogh), the ear-less piglet soon after her rescue from one of Maine's many piglet mills. Quite a few Mainers keep a sow for piglets and sell the offspring on for feeder pigs, but conditions are not always ideal. We're not picky about heritage breeds in pigs or anything like that, and, with our more or less ideal pig-happiness set-up, we do well with litter runts, so we often buy them because we feel sorry for them. Van, a tiny runt who was bullied by the other pigs, had no ears and a nasty cut on her back when we bought her. Even so, she still dressed out at 162 pounds after having had a much better few months of life than otherwise would have been the case.

8) The three younger pigs on arrival. Trucking pigs at weaner age is no problem. Later, not so easy. Read the article below for details. Read it and weep (with laughter at my expense).

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Welcome to our Farm Blog.
The purpose of this blog is for Aimee and I to communicate with friends and family, with those of our students, and other folks in general who are interested in homesteading and farming activities.

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