HOMEGROWN Life: A Change In Seasons


| 10/30/2012 11:48:29 AM


Tags: Goats, livestock, dairy, cheese making, farmer, maine, Farm Aid and Homegrown.org,
This post originally appeared at HOMEGROWN.org
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 morning walks 

A change of seasons on the peninsula marks another end to a busy summer with seasonal residents and visitors packed and transported back to their hectic lives and kids tucked back in school. A general settling in for autumn and winter is underway.

Lobstermen are pulling or moving traps, the village has slowed to a more relaxed pace. The line at the Village Ice Cream shop has disappeared. As the squeaky red door bangs shut behind you deciding between Ginger or Blueberry Heaven, Strawberry Cheesecake or Espresso Fudge is not so rushed. As you linger on the tiny painted stool and chat with the friendly gal that just gave you the sample to taste, she dips you an extra scoop after you decide on a flavor, even though you only asked for a single.

Days at Bittersweet start with feeding and milking and then the girls and I take a walk. I open the back fences and we wander through the path that takes me to my secret place, tucked in the woods. It’s an old path that was used to excavate granite years ago. Along the way my long legged charges nibble on the high and low bush blueberries, gnawing greedily on pine branches to take in all the rich minerals that keep them healthy and strong. Sea Princess’s bright eyes seem to get bigger and bigger as she enjoys this time together with her herd mates.
 

close white goat

Maeve, Colleen, Mairead and Sweet Pea munch their way with us, enjoying shoots of goldenrod in full yellow bloom. In Ireland, the sheep eat a plant called gorse. It’s a shrub that blooms early in spring with a soft yellow color that deepens as the summer goes on. It’s also covered in thorns but somehow they ignore the rugged prickles and drink in the plant. An old farmer told me once gorse is what makes sheep’s wool soft. It was the same farmer who told me to count the black sheep in the pastures. He said you can tell how rich a farmer is in wool by the number of black sheep. For every hundred white ones, there’ll be one black. I had one black sheep in my flock, she’s now joined by a young black ram but I’m still  95 sheep away from being rich in wool. It takes time to build flocks and herds.

A visitor came by the farm stand last week. I just happened to be loading up for a Grange Hall Fair, packing in my lavender bunches, goats milk soaps, jars of heirloom cucumber pickles, wool. He paid me the highest compliment I can imagine. He went in to the farm stand to buy soap for his Mother whom he was visiting. We talked about where he was from, I told him about the Grange Hall Fair tomorrow and invited him to come. As we stood outside the stand, he glanced out over the pasture where my Royal Palm Tom, a mixture of hens, Colleen and Maeve were all grazing. Then he said “it’s obvious you enjoy what you’re doing, you can feel the love here”. I tried not to let tears spring to my eyes.




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