For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh, a time to mourn, and a time to dance, a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.
Summer has finally arrived! And while mucking out goat sheds when it is hot and humid is not pleasant, all the baby goats have now been born, and they are settling into their summer routines, including sitting under the huge pine tree in their yard and letting all that lovely pine pitch get all over their nice white fur before they rub it into the dust. This has been a dry summer, with little rain even though we got one day of heavy rain last week. Our last pregnant Saanen, Beatrice, finally kidded on a Wednesday, July 9th, and the grandchildren decided to call these two little doelings, Sunny and Scully, with Scully having something to do with “Jake and the Neverland Pirates”? They are precious!
We’ve had our first cook-out on the 4thof July, and the following day, got to see our very own fireworks from the comfort of our living room! Our neighbor across the street put on this amazing show, and we had front row seats!
Last week, both Bill and I also went to visit friends who live on the water. We each tried our hand at “jet-skiing” and then enjoyed some wonderful rowing and swimming and great company before a fabulous dinner of vino, stuffed clams, Asian noodles, homemade coleslaw and nectarine pie. Yum-yum! The garden is coming in one crop at a time now and we are savoring fresh blueberries every day now, and lots of fresh cabbage and sugar snap peas for those tasty coleslaws. The turnips and broccoli are in and beets are now ready and I started harvesting some of those yesterday. My sister-in-law, who hails from Russia, gave me a good recipe for those freshly shredded beats: just add one shredded Granny Smith apple and a little mayonnaise, and presto! You have a summer salad fit for a king!
One of our granddaughters from Virginia arrived yesterday (aged 7) and she will be with us for the next three weeks. It is such a treat to have the time to spend with her as she grows up. She loves the animals and is a big help feeding the goats and the dogs and collecting the eggs. Next week, Stripes will be ready to wean, so we will be able to start milking Maggie, her mom, one of our Saanens, and start getting some of that fresh goat’s milk. Bill is already thinking of what type of cheese to make. We had a buyer looking at Lucky today, too. Lucky is one of our baby Nubian goats who was born last March. They are definitely interested and will probably take her mid-August , which may mean we can try milking her mom, Bernadette, too, who is also Nubian. And by Labor Day, Beatrice should be ready to wean her babies, Sunny and Scully, so we may have three goats in milk come the fall. I may finally get the chance to start soap making!
School is out, but summer is usually a time for reading and reflecting and more research, and this year seems to be especially busy with some extra reading for a research project that is developing. Our church choir is also in the final stretch of making a CD that should be ready by early fall, too, so there are lots of activities accompanying the usual summer harvest. Within a few weeks, the orchard should start coming in with peaches and pears up first, and the tomatoes will soon be turning red. After that, it is almost non-stop canning until school starts. It will be extra fun this year with our Virginia granddaughter and our other two local granddaughters who are about the same age, helping with the cooking and canning. They are a joy in the kitchen! I rejoined the YMCA for more swimming this year, and I am thoroughly enjoying the special excursions to the lake or beach or the “Y” pool for swimming.
Everyone seems to be in their “summer mode” now, and visiting relatives and relaxing with cook-outs and fun on the water, riding bikes and savoring the long hours of outdoor sunlight. Cool breezes every night have scared away most of the mosquitos, too, so evenings have been especially pleasant. A favorite past-time of mine lately is one I used to do as a child: just lay back and watch the clouds! Did you ever imagine different animal shapes of clouds when you were a kid?
It’s a great activity to do with one’s children or grandchildren, costly absolutely nothing, and feeds our imagination. God has given us such a wonderful world to enjoy! Happy cloud-gazing!!
Our website has been rather inactive the last month or two, since my computer crashed just before Palm Sunday and then our world got crazy busy with spring kiddings, Holy Week and Easter, final exams that were early this year, followed by Mother’s Day and birthdays, including a 95th birthday bash for Bill’s Dad during Memorial Day weekend and a parish festival at the same time. This year too, I have been venturing into something new with learning and planning Taize’ services for our parish. Taize’ is a town in the Burgundy section of France, and shortly after world War II, a Protestant Christian brother, Brother Roger Schultz, decided to form a monastic group that would pray and sing simple chants to encourage contemplative prayer for peace all those who were war torn. It rapidly became popular all across Europe, esp. for the 20-something group, and since then has become an international and ecumenical style of music and prayer. We planned one on Palm Sunday and our second one this past Sunday on Pentecost. Everyone who came seemed moved and appreciative of the quiet time for reflection. Our frenzied world today does not often allow time for quiet and stillness and reflection.
Kiddings have been a challenge this year. We had a very long winter that just would not seem to let go. This is the first year I can remember going to teach my last class the last day of April and still wearing my winter coat. Gertrude kidded in early March, overnight, on one of those freezing cold nights. We were not expecting her to kid until April, but three little Nubian goats were born on that frigid night in their goat shed. When I found them the next morning, one lasted only a few hours, his body temp was so cold and a second doeling lasted only about 24 hours, even after tube feeding and applying warm towels every 15 minutes round the clock. The third little doeling seemed to recover, and we decided to name her Taize’. Since they were born in the middle of the night and we weren’t expecting them, Sophie, our Great White Pyrenees guard dog, jumped over one of the interior fences and did her best to help clean up the babies, but as a result Gertrude didn’t want anything to do with her babies with dog scent on them. So, Bill started bottle feeding Taize’ and she soon followed him around everywhere thinking he was her mother. Since it was also too cold to leave her in the goat shed if her mother was going to ignore her, she became part of our living room. The following week, Bernadette kidded, one little buckling, who we named “Little Joe” (born on the feast of St. Joseph) and a little doeling that the grandchildren named “Lucky” since she was born close to St. Patrick’s Day. Little Joe was and is feisty and pushy and quickly figured out how to nurse, but kept pushing Lucky away, so Lucky joined Taize in our living room and we were now feeding two baby goats several times a day! Bill did most of the work, since I was still leaving early for school, but we both thought that 3 a.m. feedings were a thing of the past!
Bill’s dad turned 95 on May 22nd, so we had a huge family gathering on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. The following Monday, on Memorial Day itself, Maggie kidded, giving us two baby Saanen doelings. We asked the grandchildren for names again and since these two were born on Memorial Day, they decided to call them Stars and Stripes! Maggie, unlike her Nubian counterparts, is the perfect mama, and is diligently feeding and watching her babies and is very protective of them. They are currently hopping and skipping all around their goat yard. We also moved Little Joe in with the “boys,” Malachi and Micah, since he was getting too frisky for his own good. He seems to be adjusting quite well with his new buddies, though. Beatrice is still waiting to kid, so we should have a few more before kidding ends this year.
The garden is going great now that spring has finally sprung, though some things are growing later than normal. We harvested most of the rhubarb, but it seemed to be later and some stalks seemed thinner than normal this year. We will have to split some of the roots in the fall and heavily compost the plants. We’ve picked some lettuces and radishes thus far. Bill grew these amazing red radishes that look like carrots! They are huge and very tasty. He has also been working on cycling the compost bins and built a new one at the bottom of the hill (our 4th). Plants are looking healthy, so we are hoping for a good harvest as we begin to move through the summer.
The chickens are laying well and Bill just moved them into the smaller tractors, since their winter home is in sad need of repair. When it is repaired, they will go down to their summer yard to free range. We tried bringing a couple goats out today to help munch on some of the wild weeds that are popping up everywhere and while they liked the idea of exploring new territory, Sophie went ballistic that her “charges” were out of the yard and she couldn’t watch them. She hopped over one interior fence, somehow managed to twist her electronic collar, and then hopped over the outer fence as well. She is definitely their protector and likes to see all her little kids I a row! We got everyone back to where they belong by lunch time.
The new patio that went in last September is being thoroughly enjoyed this year. During late afternoon, Bill and I and sometimes his Dad will come over for a drink of wine or Bill Sr.’s favorite, Apricot brandy. It is a relaxing way to take in the beauty of nature as spring finally unfolds with the promise of summer on the horizon. Praise our loving God, from whom all good thing flow!