New Year, New Bully

Last week we started school again, and amidst all the new books and pencils we discovered a new challenge:

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She’s pretty aggressive, this one.  Biting pages of books, pouncing on reading assignments, clawing her way up legs.

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She’s the ultimate distraction in our classroom.

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Who, me?

She’s the perfect combination of adorable and diabolical.

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The relative calm of our mornings are punctuated by cries of “aawwww!  OW! NOOOOOOOOOO!!!”

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I’ve lost count of how many pencils we’ve lost to her. You think she’s sleeping nicely in that basket? Think again!

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The worst part? As soon as we are finished with our lessons for the day she DOES curl up in that basket and sleep soundly like a little angel.

All worn out from her mischief.

This year’s gonna be challenging.

Early Fall Farm Report

Early fall is upon us (at least in terms of farming and shepherding!).  It’s time to start making lists of all the work that has to be done before the weather turns cold (and dare we say – snowy?).

First on the list was getting the Angora goats sheared.  Their fleeces grow so very fast that they get sheared twice a year, as opposed to the sheep who are sheared only in the spring. Since the summer was so mild there was some concern that the fall would turn cold quickly, so we wanted to get the goats done early enough to grow back just a bit of fleece before we get any chilly temperatures.

Emily came down a few days ago and unfortunately once she set up the skies turned dark and the thunder began.  We whipped through getting them sheared and the fleeces bagged and got no pictures. But I took some this evening after feeding time, though not all the newly-naked ones were cooperative (I’m looking at YOU, Martin and McPhee!).

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Wembley and Margaret (or Sad Margaret, as we call her, since her ears tend to droop down and her fleece covers her eyes in a way that makes her look perpetually morose)

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Miss Hannah. Doesn’t she look velvety with her new ‘do?

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Roquefort, the Silver Fox

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Keswick

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Cassie

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Lucy

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The goats have worked a hole in the fence by the hay.  Not because they don’t already have a fresh hay bale sitting conveniently out in the field or anything.

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Wimbledon

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Monticello

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Fettuccine the Wonderdog

Soon we’ll be cleaning manure out of the field to till into the gardens for next year, scrubbing out the water troughs, winterizing the chicken coops, and setting up a winter pen for the flock.

Right now we are enjoying spending time outside with the flock in these glorious early fall temperatures.  Stay with us awhile, fall!

First Apple Picking Adventure 2014

This weekend we did our best to welcome fall by meeting with friends for apple picking and cider pressing.

The weather didn’t feel so very fall-like, with temps in the lower 90’s, but it was at least sunny and bright.

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Tanya’s son Alex cracks me up!

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Only the Golden Delicious were ready for picking, which was sad, but it also means we get to go back again when the Winesaps are ready (and hopefully there’s more color in the trees!).

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Oona and Alston played hard all day.

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Look! A rare Emily sighting! I don’t know how she can manage to be so covered up on such a hot day.

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The orchard still has plenty of peaches available.  That, along with the super hot weather made this seem mightily out of place:

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Trina provided us with hayride tickets, and though we baked a bit, the kids had a blast.

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Maddie made her feelings about the temperature plain.

After our apples were picked and paid for (along with many cider donuts, of course!), and we’d had our hayride and spent time catching up, some of us drove back to Lisa’s house to press some apples into cider.

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This. Little. Cutie.  I cannot resist her.

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We got four of these out of roughly one bushel of “B” apples. In retrospect, it’s probably good we didn’t get a whole lot more apples to press, since the kids lost interest and were ready to climb Lisa’s trees and chase dogs and chickens.  And run they did; they had a lot of fun running off all of their energy outside.

Lisa made a fabulous Texas-style chili and Tanya brought cornbread to go with.  Along with the fresh cider and fabulous company and the kids wearing each other out, I didn’t think the day could get any better.

But I was wrong!

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Lisa made me a pumpkin cheesecake for my birthday! And it. was. DIVINE!

When Tanya presented me a bottle of a hard-to-find wine, Lisa decided to open up a lovely Burgundy from her (rather extensive and enviable) wine cellar.  It put an already magical day over the top.

September, you are off to a fantastic start!

A London Dress For Neve

Neve’s been after me for a while to use some of my London-themed fabric to make her a dress, so this weekend I went through my patterns and we decided on the Ice Cream Dress from Oliver & S.

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I used some Riley Blake fabric wit complimenting colors and patterns and cut it out two days ago.  Today I got to work on it all day and was done in just a few hours.

It was a breeze to throw together; though I think I might personally prefer this pattern made up in a soft knit.  Neve is pretty happy with it, though.

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I did the bottom panel and the pocket yokes in the contrast fabric but left the top yoke in the main fabric.

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I’m curious to see how it drapes after several washes and wearings; the fabric still has quite a bit of stiffness to it.

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I can’t wait to try this pattern again; there are so many different fabric options that would be super cute with it!

Strawberry Plot

Two days ago fifty strawberry plants arrived ready for planting.  FIFTY. The only problem was…..I hadn’t finished the spot to plant them!

Luckily we had plenty of cinderblocks so I could put up a small retaining wall of sorts, and I dug up several bucket loads of composted manure and hay from the back field to fill in the with the dirt.

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It’s not the best handiwork that an afternoon has ever accomplished, but all fifty plants are safely and happily in the ground, ready to overwinter for a June fruiting.

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Paul is going to drive some stakes into the “wall” for support and to give me something to hold up the netting we need to hang to keep the birds out.

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Now I can’t wait for next June!

It’s A Pig’s Life

I’ve been thinking lately that the pigs are really the best animals we’ve got here.  They’re easy, they’re entertaining, they’re friendly, they’re pretty well self-contained, and they eat just about anything.

In addition to the store-bought pig feed they get twice a day, we feed them lots of our kitchen scraps.  Whenever I chop celery, they get the heads and ends.  Those apples gotten a tad too mealy for us to enjoy? The pigs adore them.  Watermelon rinds? Heck yeah!

It’s pretty convenient with our set-up, because I can open the back door and just toss it out to them.  Sure, they have to fight the chickens a bit, but it’s worth it, because those chickens tend to lay their eggs where the pigs like to nest in the shed.

Yes, pigs nest.  There’s a ton of hay in the goat shed that the pigs have burrowed into and made their own, and the chickens love to go in and lay their eggs in there.

The pigs LOVE fresh eggs.

Spoiled rotten, those two!

As they’ve gotten to know me they are vocal in their affections.  They’ll nudge at me and grunt a bit until I reach down and scratch behind their ears (or give them the tops from the carrots we’ve pulled from the garden).  Charley has always been a love, but Churchill took a bit longer to warm up to people.  He’s still stand-offish with new faces.  I feel crazy proud that he’s let me into his affections.

Another thing I’ve come to love is what we call “The Piggy Chorus”.  It happens twice a day.  When they decide it’s high-time to be fed they start singing and squealing for us.  Then, when they’ve spied us headed out with our buckets, they grunt appreciatively.

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Check out the little tusks!  Even though they are neutered, they’ve both grown a small (but impressive!) set of tusks.

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Isn’t Churchill such a handsome boy?

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As for Charley, he tends to develop pig alopeocia every summer. It’s due to how much he likes to roll around in the dirt and mud, and his bristles wear off.  When it first starts he walks around with a pretty bitchin’ mohawk until he manages to rub off that as well.

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Tonight I brought out some little watermelons for them to enjoy; Charley was too busy rooting around for something in the mud.

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Churchill was more than happy to have Charley’s share!

 

 

A Late Summer Wedding

Brace yourselves – this post is picture-heavy.

This Saturday my father got remarried in a beautiful location in the Hudson Valley.  I drove up with Maddie on Friday and we met up with our brother, who we hadn’t seen in over a year. It was immediately the most fun we’ve had in ages.  Sibling sleepovers are  more fun when you’re adults.  It doesn’t hurt that my brother is the funniest guy I know. My abs hurt from giggling so hard.

Before the ceremony Saturday we struck out for Kingston to explore the town we had spent so much of our childhood in (well, Caleb and I anyway; Maddie’s been a Virginia kid since she was a year old).  It was surreal and weird to be there and see it all again.  So very little had changed, except that it looked so very much smaller than when we were children.  We had several spots to visit, as we moved around a lot during our time there.

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Every corner we turned was an “oh! Remember?”  It quickly became a delightful day together, just the three of us, reveling in nostalgia.

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The Old Dutch Church was a highlight; I’d always loved its architecture and history, and this time we got a tour of the inside. I still miss hearing its chimes throughout the day.

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While driving past my old elementary school I remembered that there was a stunning view just over the hill.  Standing there, I remembered why I miss New York State so very much. The landscape simply speaks to me in a way that no other place does.

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I was surprised to see the ruins of the old Hutton Brick factory still in place near Kingston Point Beach.  I was even more surprised to discover that the beach itself is still, in fact, covered with old bricks that have washed ashore.

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After the beach we hit the Rondout Strand area for a quick lunch.  Or it would have been, if not for the worst service and even worse food.  Oh well, can’t win then all, right?

It did mean that we had to scramble to get back to the resort in time for the wedding.  Fortunately, we were able to make it in time to shower and change just in time for the ceremony.

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The resort is backed by the Esopus Creek, which made for a lovey setting for a wedding.

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My aunt, Diana, sang during the ceremony (and made us all cry).

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Crying or not, I still made faces at my brother up there (he was best man).  I think he was ignoring me.

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Julie, the bride, was radiant (as brides should be!) and I especially loved the tartan ribbon she wore about her waist. That’s her son to the left of her.  I think that means I have a new sibling?  And he has an adorable 18 month old daughter.  I have a step-niece!

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Maddie looked beautiful, as always.

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Looking at this picture, I think it’s apparent they will be very happy together in the years to come.

I hadn’t been to a wedding in ages, and I’m happy to say it was a wonderful time.  My cousin Jim came, and having him there along with my brother made my whole weekend.  Two days and a looooooong drive back home later, my heart is still full from their company this weekend.  I need to make sure we connect more.

Congratulations to the happy couple! Here’s to many years of happiness ahead!