Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas Memories 2010

After weeks of preparation and much excitement Christmas morning started out cold as expected. We may have been snug in our beds but Oreo had the right idea. Ever seen a cat toast his toes on the wood stove? Now we have proof. Smart cat in my book.
No need to spray snow from a can. We provide our own flocking in Maine.
The thermometer was our proof of Christmas temps for 2010.
Emma and Jasmine enjoyed a quick snuggle before opening presents. Santa had arrived and was again generous.
Teddy arrived from Waterville, Sue came up from New Hampshire and Tiffany and Jasmine came all the way from New Jersey. What a wonderful surprise.
Santa was caught early Christmas morning. Sue had a wonderful time with this Santa suit. She has a store in New Hampshire and wore the suit all week long. Customers had a wonderful surprise and really seemed to enjoy her Christmas spirit.
Okay, maybe we went a bit overboard with Santa suits and Elf costumes. We had lots of laughter and smiles everywhere.
Once again we had a blessed and happy time. It is always wonderful when we get together. I have dreams that one day we will be able to get all the kids and grand kids together for one Christmas. That would truly be a dream come true. I hope that each of you had a Merry Christmas with family and friends.
Much Love and Prayers from Mainely Ewes Farm

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Wishes 2010

It comes so fast every year. It catches us off guard. We know it's coming. Every year we are still shocked at how fast time flies. The mad rush to finish shopping for the perfect gift, last decoration to hang, last card to write. This said, we are not children who wait anxiously for Santa to arrive. Their bubbling joy knows no bounds as their expectation and excitement is almost unbearable and uncontainable in their little bodies. Sleep is impossible they reassure us. Then they close their eyes in exhausted slumber only to wake at the crack of dawn with squeals of delight.
Take time to enjoy family and friends. Relax and put up your feet if only for a few moments. Reflect on the reason we do this each year. Then give up a little prayer for those who can't be home. Then give a great big hug to those who are with you.
Merry Christmas to all from every creature great and small from Mainely Ewes Farm.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Baby it's Cold Outside

We have had our first negative temp for this year. This morning it was -4 when we got up. I am not complaining. I love Maine. I love the snow. Each season is unique. You definitely know when winter is here. Well folks, winter is HERE! No doubt about it. We have completely given up our fuel oil habit. We are still tied to propane for the logs in the living room. We use that fireplace to heat the main house. This little wood stove in the kitchen does a great job of keeping us warm and cozy in the back. All that cutting and splitting from last summer is now being put to excellent use. After a morning out putting in hay and watering the animals we are back inside stoking up the fire and having a warm cup of coffee.
After the wood burns down to coals we put in this creosote removing log in to burn. I don't know if this really works or not. It is suppose to prevent chimney fires from creosote build up. Anyone use them? What do you think?
Enough wood to last for the day. We are set. Cozy and warm.
You know the stove is hot when the kitty starts to steam........
and a pup takes up residence on the hearth rug.
Just look at those eyes. More warm wishes from Mainely Ewes Farm.

Friday, December 10, 2010

It's Winter!

Well, finally we have our winter weather. It's here, it's here. Chores stay the same. It may take a bit longer and there is always the slip and slide factor. It can get interesting to say the least. We have started buying hay. A bit earlier than we had wished for. However, we are fortunate to have a neighbor who has huge round bales and will deliver as we need. Now our bales are fresh and clean ready to put into the pasture. The tractor again comes through. We also have a new Ram 1500 V8 with a Hemi. I can get to and from work without worry. My little car just wasn't up to it. The roads here are too slippery.
We still have to buy a spike to move the hay. For now we roll the bale over a chain, hook it to the bucket and away we go.
The buck pen is need of a new bale of hay. It only takes a few minutes and breakfast is served boys.
You don't have to call them twice. They are on it. Literally. Just look at that rumen. It's a rumen a little young buck can be proud of. They act like teenage boys sitting down at the table. Like they haven't eaten in days.
Oh no! Here comes a rabid dog. Run for your lives. No, it's just Emma heading for the house. The girls love to play in snow. I guess Labs love water in any form. Breakfast is ready and Mom has called the girls home from play. They enjoy a couple of scrambled eggs mixed into the kibble. Yum! What a great way to warm up on a cold winter day.We continue working on the house. I will have pictures of the staircase. We are down to staining and finishing the last step.
Update about the strike. We went back to work amid strained conditions. We continue to meet with the mediator and a member of the Governor's staff along with management. We wont give up on this but we are willing to negotiate. Still no contract. I was in a staff meeting the other morning and emotions were running high. Tears come quick when we speak about staffing conditions and pressures of fellow nurses. We will continue working on staffing. I will keep you current and you will hear us yell when we finally get a signed contract. Please keep us in your prayers.
We are still here, working hard. The animals seem to be happy. What more can we ask for. Take time out of your Holiday rush to look up at the stars and remember why we are here and the reason for the season.
Much Love and Prayers from Mainely Ewes Farm

Monday, November 22, 2010

I'll Strike for My Patients and My Profession

We hoped that it wouldn't come to this. We sat at the bargaining table in good faith that we could come to a meeting of the minds. I'm sorry to say that it has turned nasty. The media has again listened only to what they can hear from management. In managements eyes we are "greedy and nasty". The truth is we are greedy. We are taking a stand for our patients. We refuse to back down in the drive to provide excellent care and put our patients first.
Eastern Maine Medical Center is located in Bangor, Maine. It is a 411 bed facility which serves the mid to upper state of Maine. We have received many awards for patient care and satisfaction. To me these are the only awards that I hold dear. The only ones that mean something to me. I know what care is given within this hospital. Our nurses are top notch.
I don't care if we get awards for being the "most wired hospital", nor do I really care if we are the honey's of the "Joint Commission". I mostly say "okay, cool" when we get these awards and go on with my day. Inside these walls are some of the most caring nurses I have ever worked with. Nurses all over this country work hard. Nursing is more than a career. It is who we are. If you know a nurse you know what I mean. If you are a child of a nurse you have a completely different perception of what a nurse is. Nurses are the backbone of the hospital. We assess, treat, provide comfort and care, perform skills independently. No longer are we the doctors handmaidens of the past. We work side by side with our physicians, together as a team.
So why are we striking? Our contract is up. We came to the bargaining table with complete faith that we could make changes that would keep our patients safe. Please notice that I say "our" and not the. We take ownership of our care and our patients. Our nurses are overworked. The nurse to patient ratio on the floors has become dangerous. In ICU we have ratios that are safe. 1 nurse to every 1-2 patients. This is a workable ratio for us. On the floors there can and often is 1 nurse to 5-7 patients. The nurses can't answer call bells, assess patients, give meds, pass trays, call Dr's, update families, check on labs, call results, treat for pain, and be there to support our patients. We are transferring sicker patients out of the ICU sooner. These patients would go to step down units in many other hospitals. Over worker and stressed nurses have more med errors, more call in's due to illness, and burnout. We are striking for Safe Patient Staffing Levels.
We stand untied. We stand in the rain. We are cold and wet but with smiling faces.
We stand together. We stand strong. We stand in a line all the way down the street.
Ted stands with us. We have support from family and friends. We have support from patients that know what we are fighting for.
I'm so proud of my sisters and brothers.
We have support from the community. The honks made us louder. The more honks the more nurses cheering.
To the haters out there. To the ones who have listened to the media not the facts. No we aren't after money. No raise is even mentioned in the contract. We want this message to be clear. We are for our patients. We want to provide safe care. We are standing in the rain for you. To management, come to the table in good faith. You hired scab nurses many months ago in preparation of breaking our spirit and our Union. Be fair, we will work with you. None of us wanted to be here now. We want to have a good relationship with you. Now to the scab nurses that came from out of state. You know who you are. My thoughts are with you as you travel back to your family for the holiday. Stay safe. Think about what you did and may you have the support of nurses in your community when you need it. I know this post has nothing to do with farming, animals or homesteading. It just has to be said. Love a nurse.
Much Love and Prayers from Mainely Ewes Farm.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Why Do You Blog?

Did you ever wonder what was the first blog? Where did they start? Wikipedia dates the first blog back to the ancient times, 1999. I guess in the scheme of the internet that is ancient.
Do you remember the first blog that you read? I remember my first. I was amazed. I thought that it was such a great creation. I stumbled upon it by complete accident. It was "Kentucky Hollers". The woman described her life on a homestead. She told her story, how she left with her daughters and moved all the way across the United States to start over on a small farm in Kentucky. I was so enchanted that I scrolled back to the very beginning and read her story. Her strength encouraged me. She was able to repair, rehab and build so much. I used her side bar and read other blogs. I was hooked. So many people with such varied stories and reasons to blog. There was a whole world out there. People with stories to tell. People living and working through hard times, sad times, and even good times. They shared their stories with complete strangers. And we read them. We even became friends, encouraging each other, crying with each others losses and pain, laughing with their joy. Voyeurism of sorts I suppose. A glimpse into others lives.
I wanted to blog too. I wanted to create my story. Why? Did I have a story? As I sat there thinking that we had just moved to Maine, onto a farm and started rehabbing an old farmhouse. Grand kids were being born. Kids moving home and away again. Firsts of so many kinds. That was the beginning to my story, my blog. I have never been a journal keeper. I tried as a kid with a diary. That got really dull fast for me. Hey, I went to school, came home and then went back to school. Woo Hoo.
We all have stories. We grow as people. I find it amazing to read other blogs. I call you guys my "blog friends". We may not be able to pick each other out in a crowd but we know little tid bits of each others lives. We pray for each other when times are tough. We help out with donations when hard times hit and the mortgage can't be met. We send gift baskets and treats. I love the giveaways that some have, the items and crafts others have for sale. I have gotten soap from Peggy, goat pin cushions from Lisa, pottery from Tonya. We even had a visit from Tracy and her mom Jo Ann from Washington. Wow, the more I think about it the world is really a very small place. Made even smaller by the internet.
Now that we have these stories. Stories of our lives what do we do with them? Do we just leave them on the internet? Can the internet just disappear? Will our stories just go away one day in some mass computer glitch? I want my story to last. Something to hold on to and pass on. Just think about the feeling you get when you run across some old letters up in the attic. You sit there and read with wonder about another time. A time when life went at a slower pace. Cars were a new invention or fad. What will our future be like when our blog stories are read. What will they say? Oh my, look at the old trucks and tractors. Look at what my great great great grandmother did.
Last year I was doing my regular blog reading and I was at Thistle Cove Farm reading Sandra's blog. She is inspirational and gives words of wisdom that I love. She mentioned a web site that would take your blog posts, pictures, and comments, put them into book form. A book that you can hold in your hands. I went onto the Blog2print web site and it was so easy. Now each year I have the blog printed out and it magically appears in the mail. Now my story is here in my hands to pass on.
Why do you blog?
Much Love and Prayers from Mainely Ewes Farm

Monday, November 8, 2010

Shearing...NO WAY!

Hi everyone. I am Esther and I have something to say. We are sporting a longer fleece this winter. I personally like the longer look. I have a beautiful crimping to my fleece. The other sheep think this is a fine way to spend the winter. We are looking forward to a warmer than usual winter. Honestly, after the fall shearing we are a bit chilly. It takes time for our fleece to come in. I kind of like this style. Maybe the sheep will decide to only get shorn in the spring. Completely cut out that fall shearing. I think we may form a union and put this into our demands. While we are at it, a scoop of grain each morning. Yes, and none of that alfalfa cube stuff. We want only orchard grass. Well, these were just some of our demands. We were feeling quite proud of ourselves. Then, out of the blue the UPS truck pulled into the driveway. At first we were just mildly curious. A box arrived from Premier. What could this be?

" Oh, no. This can't be happening. That is the Premier 4000 shears complete with extra combs. What do you think Echo?"
"Look out ladies. Your beautiful long locks are coming to an end."
"Run for the hills. I don't want to get a shearing. I want to keep my beautiful fleece. Run girls."

Nah, we aren't shearing this late into the season. No worry Esther. Your beautiful fleece is safe this winter. We are getting ready for spring shearing. We are going to take a shearing class offered in the spring by the University of Main Extension. I don't think we could do any worse than last years shearer. I know we will be more careful and cut the sheep less. We were thinking about getting the stand and shearing them on that. We can shear a sheep a day if necessary. The spring fleece is in such bad shape that it is mostly a throw out fleece anyway. Hay from the winter will accumulate and make it unusable. Great practice. Shearing should be very interesting. Maybe a bit comical and I know back breaking. Boy, I can't wait.
"Oh no, do goats get shorn?"
Much Love and Prayers from Mainely Ewes Farm

Getting Ready for the Winter While Having a Little Fun

We never have a dull moment here on the farm. Everyone likes to get in on the fun and do a little entertainment. What do you do with left over candy from Halloween? Well we left it in a bowl in the living room. That way anyone can just help themselves. Evidently, Emma and Lucy understood this and did a little helping themselves to a few lollipops. No sense hiding the evidence Emma. I see that lollipop stick hanging out of your mouth. Don't give me those poor pitiful me eyes. I don't blame her I love cherry lollipops too.
After a little fun it's back to work. Our plan was to get the heaters under and in the water troughs and containers to prevent solid freezing. We have had a few mornings with a thick ice sheet in the goat and sheep troughs. A couple of hits with a fist and all is well. It won't be long till they will freeze and it won't be so easy to break and allow the animals to get fresh water. We spent the morning putting the chicken water on a heater.
Changing the shavings in the laying boxes. I put diatomaceous earth in the bottom of the boxes to prevent mites and apply a thick warm layer of shavings to give the girls something cozy to lay in.
We keep layering the coop with shavings to keep the girls warm in the upcoming months. They are all curious about the new shavings and begin immediately to scratch around for anything interesting and possibly edible.
Outside to change the bucks water to a bucket with a built in heater.
Everything is all ready to go. Hopefully, we will have a few weeks before we have to plug in and drain the electric grid. Just a forewarning, we may have circulating brown outs in the area when we do plug in. To Bangor and the surrounding area, we humbly apologize in advance.
We cut up a fallen tree getting it ready to split for firewood. The tractor came in handy moving the huge logs. It was a muddy day. We still have standing water and rain again today.
The thermometer may have said 40 outside, but it was windy and damp making us chilled. What better way to warm up. A nice wood stove fire, warm apple cider and fresh baked onion and cheese bread. Yum and Aaaaahhhhh........
For a few more updates from the farm. I have finally gotten on day shift and have much more energy. The added energy is wonderful. Now when I have days off I'm not sleeping and tired. I enjoy the time and interaction that I have with my patients and their family. There is such a sense of satisfaction. I love my job. I actually look forward to going to work. We got a call from our carpenter and he had to postpone reinstalling the stairs due to flu. We hope he is getting better. As soon as possible I will post the living room completion. Like I say, never a dull moment. Take care and stay warm. Much Love and Prayers from Mainely Ewes Farm.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Dining Room Renovation Completed

We have been very busy this past two months. Blogging has taken a back burner to life. Working inside and outside. Trying to keep a balance. We have lived on this farm for three years now. The floors in the living room and dining room have been bare wood. The planks are wide pine raw wood. It has been difficult to keep clean and very dusty. This is the before picture. We dreaded having to move all of the furniture out. Plain white walls are so boring. We figured we would work on the whole room at the same time.
We moved everything out and into the living room. Needless to say, that left little room for us to sit but what a great time to start. The weather was still warm and we could keep windows open for ventilation.
We didn't have to strip any old stain or paint off. The floors only needed a good sanding. Off to Home Depot to the rental department. The sander can be a bit aggressive so Ted kept it in line. I was completely happy taking pictures.
We applied the same stain that we used upstairs. Provincial by Minwax. One major problem that we had, only one bathroom. The bathroom is directly off of the dining room. Yes, the stain had to dry overnight. So did the 4 coats of Polyurethane. Thank heavens we live off of the road and it gets very dark.
Then came the painting. We picked the colors by taking the curtains into Home Depot for a color match. If you have never done this, try it. It is so cool and a great way to get a perfect match. If you have never painted red you have yet to live. We even bought the paint with the dark primer to decrease the number of coats needed to cover. Well, it started out pink and scared the poo out of us. It took a total of 3 coats to cover and look good. Oh and yes, red paint is difficult to get off me too. We were told that regular colors have about 5 ounces of pigment and red has 12 ounces of pigment. Education at Home Depot.
We were so excited when everything was moved back and the room was completed. My old dining room table was to small. We moved it upstairs to an empty room. It will be great to use when I get back to braiding wool rugs this winter. This oak table can seat eight for those big holiday dinners.
The cat was a special decorative touch. I will post the living room reveal later this week. The carpenter will be bringing the handrails and spindles to reinstall. I can't wait to see the finished room. The floors came out better than we could expect.
Much Love and Prayers from Mainely Ewes Farm.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Love in the Air- No That's Buck Scent

Yes, there is a strong scent in the air. The boys are becoming adult bucks. They spend their days butting heads and showing each other who is the better man. All summer long the air has been pure and clean smelling. Now as we approach the buck pen there is a definite change in the air. A strong but not necessarily annoying odor. The scent of male goats otherwise know as Buck Scent. Both boys are in rut. In full rut. Bucky still has the innocent look of a young buck but he acts like a teen, preening, acting out, stomping his feet when he doesn't get his way.

Teddy is a bit bigger but still sweet. Both boys have loving personalities. That is until the ladies act the least bit interested. Then the teen boy comes out.
Just like teen boys who apply their cologne, so does Teddy. Unlike teen boys Teddy's cologne comes from spraying urine on his face and beard. Hence the Buck scent. It may sound disgusting to some humans.
However, to the young ladies in the next pen the boys smell oh so wonderful. Just like teen girls they ignore the boys until a commotion is made. I can hear the girls saying, "that Teddy is so cute. What do you think?" That smell drives the girls wild.
We are going to keep the post PG rated here. We brought Sophie into the barn with a little bribe of food. Teddy was right there ready to do his gentlemanly duty. However, today was just not the day. We will try again this afternoon with another date.
We are dealing with two factors here. The goats are both virgins. The owners have never had to arrange a "date" before. We are hoping that they can figure it out. I know that when Mother Nature says the time is right, things will proceed as well. We will keep you updated.
Much Love and Prayers from Mainely Ewes Farm.