Monday, December 31, 2007

Let it snow!

The snow stick measures 15" today, we had another storm yesterday and we are in heaven! Took the snowmobiles out this afternoon; breaking trails so we can walk the dogs, cross country ski and snomobile around the land here. We rode up to the top of the long ridge (about a mile uphill) where we celebrated out anniversary in May and had another toast to the upcoming New Year. The wind was high and waves of wind and snow squalls would come through. Deer sign everywhere as they travel to find browse. It is harder for them to get feed in this weather when the snow is getting deeper. They were eating the bark of some young hemlock saplings. The snowmobile trails pack down making nice trails for them to travel on.
Another storm due in on New Years Day....yippee!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Year end

Just a couple of updates to old posts with dangling endings!

This is Webster. We finally found a name suitable to his personality. For Christmas I got a CD that I had on my wish list which had been hard to find. It is called "Soulville" by Ben Webster. It was recorded in 1957 and Ben Webster, internationally recognized as one of jazz's elder statesmen, was a great tenor saxophonist and played with the Duke Ellington Orchestra for two decades prior to this album. He is joined on piano by Oscar Peterson, Herb Ellis on guitar, Ray Brown on bass and Stan Levey on drums; collectively known as the Ben Webster Quintet. Why all this background information? Because if you like jazz you need to own this CD. It is smooth, cool jazz.

Jack and I had been visiting friends on Christmas evening and coming home we listened to the CD for the first time. The full moon was on the rise, the air dry, the snow covered ground basking in moonlight as we took the country road home from the next town over. It was soooo beautiful and the music so fitting.

When we got home we put it on to finish listening to it and the cat joined us as we listened. He lay in front of the speakers under the dining room table and just grooved. Then he got up and did some zipping around. He liked it and so he was named at that very moment ~ Webster. The web man. The jazz man. Webster is going to be a good name and he already turns his head to it. The picture above is Webster today. He likes Shelley, the sheltie, a lot although they haven't declared it so quite yet. He wants her to play hide and seek but she doesn't get it so for now he talks to her and flirts. She was just outside the picture. He's a cool cat.

The other update is regarding Daphne's fleece that was lost at Rhinebeck this fall. I was waiting until the checks were mailed from the fleece sale committee before I would jump to conclusions on it's disappearance. Well, my check came and it didn't include the money for that fleece. The chairman of the committee called me a week later to say they never found the paperwork or the fleece so I should consider it stolen.

Nice, huh? Imagine, walking boldly and without conscience, out of the fleece sale barn with 7#s of fleece in a big see through plastic bag! My tags had to be torn off and hidden. I wonder if the person premeditated the caper. Or was it just on a whim? I work all year on those fleeces, changing , repairing and washing coats, keeping the sheep coats fitted properly, hiring a great shearer, then post shearing, cleaning, skirting and sorting, bagging and labeling the fleeces and Daphne's was my prize fleece for the year. I saved it just for Rhinebeck. Well, as I said in the prior post I won't be selling fleeces there ever again and I hope the grease never washes out of it for that shameless robber!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Silent Night

Silent night, holy night,

all is calm, all is bright.

Round yon virgin, mother and child.

Holy infant so tender and mild,

Sleep in heavenly peace.

Sleep in heavenly peace.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

No romance about farming in this weather

We are in for 1/2 to 1" of rain tonight on top of 18' of snow which poses multiple issues to prepare for. The roofs need to be raked, ditches around the barn need to be opened to let the rain flow away from the foundation and any snow that needs moving better get moved today before the cold air returns and turns everything to a snowy cement.

The drizzle started at 9AM and we spent the last 3 hours doing all that above. The sheep barn was most important to address to avoid collapse, so Jack cleared off the roof and it was HEAVY snow already. I locked them out of the barn area so they didn't panic with Jack on the roof, and they DO panic at any little unknown issue. I did my best to get the snow and mud cleared in the outside loafing area so the ground will dry off quicker, eventually. I got a ditch cleared so the inner barn doesn't flood. A few years ago , we learned the hard way that if there isn't a ditch the water all just seeps in and then the bedding and everything is soaked. We had a sump pump in there for days during that storm.

Jack did the roof raking for the summer sheep sheds, the house and cottage and one side of another barn. Thankfully he is fit! That is hard work.

Looks like we are ready for whatever happens and tomorrow it will be colder and windy with snow showers. As the saying goes, if you don't like the weather in New England, wait a minute.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A handful of dust

So now, for all you doubting Thomas', here is yet another story. We brought the new cat home Friday and were getting him settled in. Within an hour of his arrival I went upstairs as I didn't see him anywhere. As I walked into the family room there was a book laying on the floor at the base of the bookcase; A Handful of Dust by Evelyn Waugh. The book was in the top shelf, you can see where the books slant at it's departure. The top of this bookcase is where all our deceased pet's pictures's our memory shelf and wall for our furry tried and true friends. And as you can see from the bookcase there are many different books to chose from.

The bizarre part of this was, before I went up to see the new cat, I had just hung up the phone from the vet's office, Friday afternoon, telling me that Ursus' ashes were ready to pick up.

Yes, the new cat could reach the top shelf with a claw and pull a book...but that book, at that appointed moment, from that bookcase? We have many open bookcases in our home, two in that room alone.

May we never underestimate the power of the soul departed.

A final note, I picked up Ursus' ashes today and received the most heartfelt gift. Not only his ashes in a beautiful hand carved wooden box, but a silk rose or two, a floating candle to light and a beautiful book about losing a beloved pet along with many other soothing pamphlets. They did a wonderful job of soothing the unforgetable loss. We lit the candle tonight, said our prayers and trust that Ursus is looking at us all and feeling eternal peace. As I finish this entry, the new boy has jumped up on my desk to bask under the light of the desk lamp...and let me know he's here.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The cat who came for Christmas

It was just two weeks ago today we lost our beloved Ursus. The following 24 hours were so sad and heart-wrenching. But we think Urs sent a message the morning following his death. I was convinced by some unknown force to find another Chartreux as soon as possible. Usually Jack and I go many months, sometimes years, between new pets. They are so hard to replace, the wait seems necessary.

But this day, December 4th, we started searching immediately. We went to the humane society and although there were a few cats we could have adopted, we left, needing to wait. We got on the Internet and connected with a breeder who happened to have a 2 -year old neutered male Chartreux that she wanted to re-home. His owner had to move which precipitated him needing a new home. After many emails back and forth we arranged to go meet the cat and adopt him if all looked good with our meeting. Friday, the 14th, we met our new cat and despite a couple of initial concerns we put him in his cat transporter in our truck and brought him home. It was a long drive but he rode like a champ, so much so I'd drive with him anywhere and usually riding with a cat in the car is NOT a fun time!

We haven't named him yet so presently he is called all sorts of nicknames...something will come in time. But he is a handsome, healthy cat. His first day was rather nervous, getting to know the house and Sidney and Shelley, although they didn't even bat an eye. To the dogs, Ursus (sort of) was back. By yesterday the cat was playing his own cat and mouse games, in and out of paper bags and roaring up and down the stairs...happy! He is affectionate and also independent. He doesn't get on the counters or tables, and has chosen two sleeping spots with my seal of approval!

Nothing will replace Ursus, but there is no doubt in Jack's or my mind that this cat came with Ursus' help. Call us crazy, but happy we are to have been given the opportunity at this particular time.

The top picture is Ursus, the lower is our new fellow.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Snow on snow on snow

What a fabulous start to winter! Yes, we love the for us today's storm was an event! We had about 8" on the ground and as we awoke our snow stick attached to the flagpole read 11" and coming down hard by 8AM. Steve and Liza, our farm helpers, are also snow birds so all of us are just happpppy! Jack took a walk with the dogs and captured some of the views this morning (Sidney found a point of interest way down under)...I made batches of Christmas cookies, a turkey stew for dinner and basic Christmas fun things while Jack spent the afternoon doing chores like getting the week's hay to the sheep barn from the big barn, raking the roof edges and plowing and clearing snow as the temps are supposed to plummet this week. They have been unseasonable low this year for December, the overnights in the single numbers and highs in the 20's. And to think Winter officially starts this week! We hope this season lasts well into March!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Having a very berry time

Sidney kept me company yesterday while I made cranberry strings. He likes raw cranberries! He likes all berries, blueberries the best. I didn't give him too many but he was most fascinated as the string grew and wiggled around under his nose! Along with our living room tree, I wanted a little tree for the kitchen this year. It's decorated with animal ornaments and bobbles. It's a fun addition!

Friday, December 07, 2007


We have had a number of gray days lately so yesterday Shelley and Sidney took advantage of the warm rays. Sidney loves to lay out in the front yard pondering his universe, moreso with some warm protection underneath. Both these dogs love the snow...Sid gets such a charge out of running the fields with the snow on them and they both snuffle into the grass tufts looking for unsuspecting mice.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Free Rice

I am diverting from the horrors of yesterday. In a numbness now. I could just stare out the window all day but need to get back to my routine of the farm, work and friendships. Life without Ursus now begins.

This is a fun way to help feed the hungry and boost your knowledge of the English language. I got a 41 pretty quickly but then seem to have leveled off. You can save your score and come back to it later by clicking Options. Click on this link and fire away!

Monday, December 03, 2007

Our Ursus

The unthinkable and unexpected and most painful thing has just occured. I have to write, it won't help.

Our dear and loyal cat, Ursus, has been killed just moments ago. I can't breath. He was run over in the night, the dark, this snowy night. He is gone. We are in shock.

I thought we had at least 10 more years. I can't even explain the intensity of this cat and our relationship with him.

We are a mess. He was a stray cat who came to us, we tamed him and he knew how to survive here, he lived here before we arrived. We have had him 12 years and now on his own land he died, in an untimely and very unkind way.

We are sick, time will heal this but never, ever, will we have another friend such as Ursus. He was one of a kind. God rest your blessed soul, dear Ursus.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Happy birthday to me!

The past couple of days have been absolutely frigid here. It always seems colder before the snow is on the ground but that event is upon us. We are supposed to get at least 4" out of this storm which will put a nice start on the White Christmas theme.

I celebrated my birthday this weekend and had a fine time of it. My friend Debbie came up from the coast on Friday and we had lots of fun. Debbie is a fantastic chef and so Friday she cooked for me here at the farm. We had a fire, drank good wine and watched a dumb movie! Saturday we went north to Norwich, VT to the King Arthur Flour store which was great fun. Loads of baking items plus gift ideas and fresh baked goods. A chef's treat for sure. We topped it off with dinner at Nicola's resturant in Keene.

Debbie got on the road mid-day today and is now safe and sound by the sea once again. The snow has started and the sun is down, the sheep have full hay racks and a great shelter from the storm. Jack has been hunting all weekend and we look forward to his arrival! All in all a great weekend!