This posting is more about the photos than the writing- or the update of the last 10 days (although there are additional photos and updates below the ‘prize’ photos.) These special shots were all taken over the course of about 5 minutes just this morning, walking around our farm on a lovely sunny, breezy June day. First day of summer, too! It is a special time to celebrate, not only because of the weather – and very few blackflies because there was a frost down in the valley last night- but also because Blue Belldon Farm now has exactly TEN animals.
We’ll start with the newest additions, because that’s what you’re all waiting for. Introducing twin boys – Robin and Mo. They aren’t as harmonious as their namesakes (Gibb twins/Bee Gees) but they have similar characteristics, and it was their voices together that I heard first, before laying eyes on them (more on this below the good set of today’s photos). Robin is thin, gangly and buck-toothed and likes to hide in his monastery (the old doghouse). Mo is much more social, playful and enjoys a lot of drinking. He even has a little beard, bless him.
This morning was their very first time outside since they were born Tuesday. Cammie has been out herself several times to graze when they are asleep, but we’re encouraging them to get ‘out and about’ now…
Now, if that isn’t cuteness itself, see them trying to go up and down the corral hill. Richard says this one is to be captioned: “You go first, Mo. If you like it, I’ll try it too!”
Robin had to be very persistent, though. “Go! Go!”
They did finally both get to the bottom, though, and then had a little play with Cammie standing watch at the top.
Then, because Mo is much more strong and confident, their first time climbing back up, poor little Robin fell down. “Come on, Rob!” calls twin Mo, and Cammie adds “Teat for tat!”
The next time they tried the big climb, things were much more successful. We think this is Cammie practicing the twins for their audition for the final scene of The Sound of Music:
The twins are very proud of their accomplishments and Cammie is now thinking “Go back to the monastery and sleep, boys – Mama wants to graze with Chevy now!”
Robin says “bye for now! You’ll be seeing a lot more of my cute mug in future!”
Chevy has been a bit depressed since the Tuesday Twins blew into town (more on his hilarious pouting near end of this blog post) but he’s being privileged with time in his old stompin’ grounds in the birch grove (where we used to let him graze when he was ill last year). The grass is very rich there, there’s a lot more clover and he loves being able to rub the bugs off and scratch himself on the bigger trees. He’s shown above in the 5 minutes I limped around taking shots. Next to, I might add, my FIFTY-TWO ROWS of garden all planted! So he was happy this morning, esp. when Cammie finally wandered out to join him after tucking the new-borns in for a long nap!
Round the other side of the farmhouse we have ‘the girls’. They are free-ranging happily now, but primarily stay near the septic system under the apple trees, an area which is moist, earthy and wormy. The view ain’t bad either! (Thus, despite the proximity to said septic/weeping tiles, is the direct path which Carriann will be walking down next month to get married under that birch arch!)
While the hens look too much alike to name (except for the little one we think of as ‘sicky’, although she’s feeling much better now than when she came!), hours of entertainment can be gained by watching their characteristics emerge, as each one if totally different and they are surprisingly intelligent despite all the centuries of jokes. I do have one hen I think of as Triple C (Curious and Cuddly Chicken). She’s always coming to see what we’re up to, and is happy to be picked up and stroked.
Here she is sneaking up on Mom as she is pruning the rose bushes at the corner of the house. Not sure Mom even knew she was being stealthily stalked:
And of course we can’t leave out our other two animals from the 5 Minute Morning photo session. Smitty heard his name and INSTANTLY, there’s that tennis ball (and some ubiquitous drool):
And Simba, who has no front claws (not our doing), is 40 pounds overweight (not our fault either) and would really prefer to go on as he started life – being a purely indoor cat, is always tossed out on nice days to sniff some grass and then lie on the porch furniture all day admiring the view (o.k., it’s no real difference than what he does inside but we like to think that just the grass-slurping and the march from front porch to side porch to whine about NOT BEING INSIDE is more exercise than he would be getting otherwise. Plus, it takes energy to whine and yowl, right? And to be fair, last August, with no claws and barely the ability to jog-trot, he caught a mouse outside. So ya never know!
There, that was my tranquil and lovely morning outside today. Gorgeous. And memorable. Cause they aren’t all like that, believe me! To find out more on that subject, read on and see some blurry, darker –ie. NOT prize-winning photos— of the twins’ first hours/days and our visitors from Ontario and the trials and tribulations of the last week that we made them endure! Or, if you just want to imagine us sitting here with stunning scenery, sunshine, mild bug tormenting and peaceful, cute animals—— stop scrolling down NOW! *****************************
Last week saw us with our third visitors in as many weekends. We have waited since coming here for Jane and Peter Wright to visit us though. My former Grade 6 art and social studies teachers, they became family when they realized how much they had in common with my parents and how much I needed someone in my life who could tease/take teasing and understand sarcasm. We’ve had many trips together and they still travel a great deal, so we are so glad they finally made it here to Blue Belldon.
However, after driving from near Montreal to here – about a nine-hour drive, plus some stop-offs for sight-seeing which Peter blamed on Jane and Jane swore was all Peter’s doing, they were pretty tired. Certainly they needed a quiet day the next day wandering about the farm, pottering in the gardens or reading a book in the shade.
Sadly, for Peter, that didn’t happen. Richard whisked him off the next morning to go look at some barn board from a barn some folks are tearing down. We are finally getting my Rustic Revivals shop prepped for going back to its original state and we need some barnboard to finish it off on the front. (Here’s how it looks so far–Richard’s had fun tearing off all the ugly tin siding!)
Sadly, Richard and Peter never made it to the barn. They got a flat tire, couldn’t get the spare on properly (despite several hours of struggling in the hot sun to do so!), had to spend the cash we’d put aside for the barnboard on getting towed to a tire shop, then more hours of waiting in a stuffy waiting room once Jane and I drove into town with a different spare from our own barn. So poor Peter was even more exhausted by the end of his first day here. That was a bad morning that stretched into the hot afternoon hours!
Then the NEXT morning, I had to go to Maine to mail one of my Rustic Revivals custom orders off (much cheaper to drive and mail from the U.S. to all my American customers, which are of course 98 percent of them!) Peter wanted to go over with his car and fill it up with gas as everyone is doing in this area these days. Jane wanted to go along and when we got there she remembered a surplus store my Mom had mentioned to her in a neighbouring town. Poor Peter – was just going to have a 40 minute trip there and back for gas and ended up with two nattering women who wanted to shop for fabric and cheap tools! Many hours later, we finally returned home and THEN he got to nap!
As in the days of old when my Dad was alive, gin and tonics were flowing freely from my mother’s liquor cabinet (half a closet due to her homemade wine!) We had some lovely more formal dinner parties in the living room/dining room, mostly cooked and catered by Mom as I’ve still been busy with final plantings.
But on their final night with us, we were all too tired to ‘do up the dining table’, so Jane bought us pizzas and we stayed in the kitchen. They all got tipsy and Richard taught them our choir’s hit-of-the-season, the body-percussioned Rain Song. (part of our choir performing it here: https://www.facebook.com/mfredrx/videos/10100452782763234/ still photos from that performance in my last blog)
I did video-tape the mangled version of three tipsy slightly tone-deaf folk trying to do just the melody of the song, plus the percussion, but I wouldn’t embarrass them (well, Richard I might, but not the Wrights!) by posting the most-entertaining-for-ME video here. However, there are some jolly good stills from the video which I consider fair game and a decent compromise on my part. I mean, if you’re gonna swig beer AND gin and tonics… You can see why Jane was always a much-beloved, fun-loving art teacher! You can see that, though Peter did sing along, he was still thinking about a nap. And you can certainly make out that Richard likely SHOULD have been a teacher, as he sure likes to impart his (often new-found) knowledge of most subjects:
Jane brought us some of her amazing artworks – Her perfect-blue recycled glass plate is in the window above my sink above. Here’s a close-up.
She knows how much I love upcycled items, so she also did me a cheese and dip tray from an old wine bottle and a mason jar. Love this, and it matches my dusty greens in the dining room, too. Here it is with my homemade bread as French toast – the only way to eat it when it gets old and crusty!
Jane also did both Mom and myself some gorgeous glass pendants. I took several shots of mine, but none do it justice. See some of these and her more ‘modern’ designs- made with new glass here: http://www.janewright.ca/glass.html
Jane’s daughter Lindsay also works in glass and when she’s visiting Quebec from Boston she and her Mom share the kiln and work space in Jane’s lovely little studio. However, Jane is also an amazing watercolour artist and also uses alcohol ink to get glorious colours and designs. See those here: http://www.janewright.ca/alcohol-ink.html
I haven’t done an Artist in the Attic feature for a long time on this blog, so I just sort of did that here, I guess – The last photo of Jane’s stunning work is this lovely ornament she gave Mom:
Anyway, all this just to really say that if Jane Wright doesn’t always get the exact note or beat when singing a crazy-ass choir exercise – who cares!? Look where her talents DO lie! And Peter, despite sun, fatigue and a little more gin than tonic DID manage to sing his Rain Song part in tune. For most of it.
As soon as Jane and Peter headed back, we had another crazy morning here on the farm. The chickens found a little dip I’d dug in one of the flower gardens, planted esp. for the wedding with specially-ordered purple and blue seeds. I found them laying in it, but prior to that they’d obviously scratched the heck out of it and no doubt no single seed would find germination. I herded the ladies back to the orchard and went in to finish in the kitchen. 10 minutes later I looked out again, and all 4 were IN THE SAME HOLE! This time Richard helped me put chicken wire around it, as we’ve done in many other spots already for Cammie and to keep Smitty from lifting his leg on all the flower seeds/seedings and shrubs. Later in the day I replanted the area, but as most of the special seeds were gone, I just planted some scarlet-runner beans instead. Not the ‘right’ colour, but all I’ve left.
There followed several more frantic mornings of doctors’ appointments for either Mom or Richard. One morning I was in the bath preparing for a 10:30 leaving time with Mom and I heard her calling to Richard to ask if I was ready at 9:00! Apparently her app’t was for 9:45! And then Tuesday morning Richard and Mom were both gone to appointments. I was out moving Chevy’s pasture with the electric fence and about 11:00 I put fresh water in the stall for him and Cammie and went into the house for an early lunch (or late breakfast as it generally is in my instance). 20 minutes later I went back into the barn and saw Chevy leaning his great monster head into the goat pen and heard all kinds of out-of-tune bleatings from a surprise trio. Reminiscent, in fact of Richard and the Wrights. But whilst that may be a great name for a 60s band, it doesn’t contain twins, so Robin and Mo wobbled around ‘singing’ for an hour or so while trying to figure out where they were and what had just happened. Poor Chevy, he couldn’t take the noise anymore or the fact that his best friend in the world was now suddenly ignoring him. He took himself off outside and I didn’t see him again for 3 hours.
The twins were pink. All white, of course, but so much blood on their coats they were a shade of strawberry Kool Aid. I wiped them off, as Cammie’s tongue could only do so much. Mo was drinking milk right away and for ages and ages, but Robin had two tugs on the teat, decided he had enough collostrum and lay down. This is the very first photo I took of them, with them both drinking. It was the last time we’d see that for a full 24 hours!
I struggled to get wee Robin to stand – he was so thin!- and take the teat. Cammie also tried to convince him. She’s a great Mom for only being two herself. She didn’t want to give up on him. Between periodically easing out the afterbirth, the sac, and etc. (into which detail I shall not go – it was messy and icky and I never did want to be a vet) I spent the next hour trying to get Robin to eat. Finally I went to the place on the work table where we’d been keeping the bottles and nipples for the last month, all ready for this precise eventuality. They were gone! Remember, Richard and I don’t have cell phones now, so I had to do the old- fashioned thing. That is, get into a man’s head and try to figure out where (logically?) he might have put something important, newly-purchased and potentially much-needed as in a case of life or death. I searched everywhere in that garage and barn. They were NOWHERE, and though we didn’t really even WANT the goat kids – just needed Cammie to be producing milk!- I had tears in my eyes at the thought of being all alone and seeing the little guy fade away in front of my eyes.
I made up the milk supplement and tried getting him to suck it off my fingers while I held him in a blanket on my lap. He refused, made faces and bleated for Mama, who glared at me. I went to the house and got a syringe and tried to pour it in that way, but it was too hard without someone else helping me hold him, hold his mouth open, fill the syringe, etc. Just as I was about to give up, Richard and Mom returned, and I told Richard he’d better remember where he’d put the bottles because we needed them STAT. He went immediately to the canoe on the floor at the front of the barn and got the brown paper bag with the purchases. You know, bottles and nipples in a bag in a canoe. As you do. Silly me!
As it turned out, Robin kept refusing the nipple so we went back to the syringe (from reading up on similar circumstances, I think he had about a half-hour left to live) and FORCED the milk supplement into him. Here’s Richard holding him, with Uncle Chevy looking on (we couldn’t take Robin right out of the stall as it was creating too much trauma for everyone, so we just sat there in the stall and Chevy decided to come check up on things again).
We decided to leave them all alone for a few hours, and when we came back to the barn, Mo was asleep in the straw and Robin was drinking happily from his mother! For the next 24 hours, they wouldn’t share (it wasn’t Cammie’s fault, although I did blame her at first. Mo was a hog, and Robin wasn’t confident enough to get in there on his own teat, so would wait until Mo went to lie down). But at least he WAS standing and drinking periodically and must have done so through the night, as the next morning, he was fatter and both were standing more confidently. And each of the 3 days since then they’ve eaten and slept and had a bit of time exploring new surroundings too. Tomorrow they will be in sunshine for the first time, as despite being out in the corral today, they were in complete shade. This is me yesterday and my little baby Robin. We REALLY need to give both these billy goats away. We MUST. But this little guy…
Now, for the promised hilarity resulting around Chevy’s depression at having to go down in the ranks of Cammie’s esteem. At first I thought he was colicky. (A very dangerous condition for horses as they can’t regurgitate to get rid of gas or upset stomach). He was hot, looking at his flanks, wanting to lie down, and hanging his head with a trembling lip. But I did all the checks and we kept our eye on him – he didn’t have colic, because it was only happening when we were there watching (the goats!) and the rest of the time he was out grazing! The pouting and trembling lower lip lasted until Wednesday night, at which time Cammie got herself outside to graze a bit beside him, and he seemed to cheer up a bit.
But Wednesday morning he was outside and REALLY mad at me because I was apparently ignoring that the bugs were bad and he wanted to come in. (I’d moved the fence so he couldn’t just do this of his own choice). He saw me on the porch. He whinnied. I ignored him, because spoiled animals don’t get what they want immediately upon asking for it. He stomped his front foot twice. No, Mr. Ed. Go graze. Then, as I watched in disbelief, he picked up the electric fence in his teeth to see if it was on. (It wasn’t). This horse is suicidal! It’s not on, so he pushes it forward with his chest far enough so that he can reach his lead shank on the ground. HE PICKS IT UP IN HIS TEETH, LOOKS RIGHT AT ME AND FLINGS IT HIGH IN THE AIR. O.K. I admit it. His demands were then met. That was WAY too good a trick to ignore.
It wasn’t a fluke either, because he did it again the next day. Of course NOW we’ve taught him a bad trick, so we have to turn the electric fence on, and also move the lead rope right out of the way altogether. Chevy is a much smarter animal than I gave him credit for being, and I think the fact that he is the only one who saw the entire process of the twins being born does mean he was probably a bit traumatized. I’m trying to cut him some slack.
I moved his fence back so he can go in and out again as he pleases. And he IS really careful around the twins on the odd occasion when Cammie’s pen door is open and they come sticking their nose out into the ‘big stall’ to see Uncle Chev.
And of course, on a peaceful morning like today when he REALLY has things going his way – lots of bug spray, his mask on, shady trees and lush grass in the birch grove AND his best friend grazing for a time at his side — life seems so idyllic you’d never guess all the backstage drama that exists! But pull aside the curtains and whaddya see? The TRUTH about farming!