Goats on Snowshoes

It was a sunny day and no more than 10 or 12 degrees below zero (Celcius!) and my mom had just arrived on the farm to go Christmas tree hunting. I had promised them a tree from our property and had scouted around the day before, marking eligible trees with bright pink surveyors tape. The snow was fairly deep and crusted on top so walking would be difficult, especially for my mom who’d had her knee replaced less than a year ago.

Mom and Dad had bought each other snowshoes for Christmas this year and, being people who don’t get too hung up on tradition, they reckoned it would be a good time to open the gifts. I wore Dad’s and Mom got to try out her own pair. It was quite wonderful, I haven’t been on snowshoes in ages but it’s not that hard to get the feel of it again. The important thing to remember is to walk with your legs wide apart and don’t step on your own or anyone else’s snowshoes!

As Mom and I headed off with our trusty pruning saw, we were joined by the goats who love to get out on a sunny day, especially when there are people around to share the fun. The goats headed for their favourite grove of pine trees and we spent a bit of time there, helping to hold branches down as the browsed on the pine needles. As we continued out of the fenced area towards the forest, the goats followed. They had gone beyond the fenced area before so I wasn’t too worried about them finding their way home if they spooked or decided they’d had enough.

The snow was a bit heavy going for the goats because of the crusting so Mom and I tried to stamp down a fairly wide path for them to follow in. Well, this wasn’t quite good enough for them and they followed us closely enough to step on our snowshoes more than once. The first time I fell face-first into the snow, I thought I’d tripped myself up by stepping on my own snowshoe. I soon realized, though, that it was those sneaky goats, getting in close and hitching a ride on my snowshoes. Nessie was especially problematic because she’s so heavy and bulky, she’d come in close enough to sideswipe me with her belly and as I’d try to recover my balance, I’d fall because she was standing on my snowshoes!

Fortunately the landings were usually quite soft and we were well dressed enough not to mind spending a bit of time lying in the snow. Most of the goats left and headed for home after a little while but Nessie and Keehay stayed with us the whole time. They followed us to the eventual perfect tree, stood on my snowshoes as I cut it down, and even helped to lighten the load a bit by chewing on it as I dragged it back home! Mom and I laughed a lot that day, there’s nothing like having goats around to make every outing an adventure!

We had some more very cold days last week and it is supposed to be a bit milder in the days to come. I really want to wash the car and am waiting for temperatures closer to zero before attempting it. I also need to trim goats’ hooves and clean the barn out a bit. Will has finished the wall and door to the boys’ palace and started putting posts in the ground for the boys’ fence. He has also been working on a family project: going through boxes and boxes of slides left by his father, to convert them into digital form. He finally finished them today and I look forward to seeing the completed CD with all those cute little baby pictures of him and his brothers, plus those great old cars and clothing styles from his parents’ wedding and honeymoon shots. He’s putting the pictures on CDs and sending them out to his brothers, mother and step-mother – a nice Christmas gift!

I’ve been making cheese whenever I get a chance, mozzarella from Keehay’s milk and gouda from Norm’s goats’ milk. I had a magnificent gouda aging nicely in our bathroom when the cats got in one night and chewed big chunks out of it. Will has since moved his tiny home tiny fridge into the kitchen and we have gouda in it now, aging at the correct temperature. It’s a better idea all round, actually, since a bathroom kept at a steady 50 degrees is a chilly place to take a shower!

I’ve also been spinning that lovely white Romney fibre I’d bought in BC a few months back. It is coming along quite nicely and I’m really enjoying having a wheel in my life again. Spinning is one of those things that you can pick up and put down very easily. So when I have 15 minutes to kill, I can spend it spinning. You may want to check this out: my Mom sent me a link to this website which not only demonstrates spinning, but the woman is actually doing her spinning in a tiny home: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5i8KRcccDw&feature=fvw .

Mom and Will and I have decided to put one day a week aside to practice French. We had our first French date last week and it was very useful and lots of fun. I have some kids’ books to read and a work book to work through. There is also a good French instruction website to work with. I don’t know at what point all this learning will coalesce and I’ll actually be able to get up the nerve to try and speak to strangers in French, but we’ll see!

Will and I went into Moncton last Thursday evening for dinner and a fiddle jam, or at least I went to a fiddle jam and Will went to the movies! We checked out a Thai restaurant just off of Main St. which was very nice. The fiddle jam was great as well, we played quite a few tunes I knew plus some I’ve heard enough times to be able to play bits of them. The format was very much the same as in St-Antoine where the group plays tunes from a list to start with, and then individuals get up to play a tune. They don’t play quite as fast as the group in St-Antoine and I even found the waltzes a bit too slow. There are lots of good players, though, and I enjoyed hearing all the different tunes. One woman got up and played “The Headlands”, a tune we’ve always played as a march, with the rhythm of a strathspey. I think I remember Vivienne playing it like that once or twice and it’s amazing how hard it is to play a tune, even when you’re totally familiar with it, when the rhythm changes! It sounded good, though, and I’m going to work on it like that, just for fun.

Happy Solstice to you all, if I don’t write again before then, and happy holidays, too.

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2 Responses to “Goats on Snowshoes”

  1. Myrna Says:

    Bless you Alyson, for keeping us so up to date. When I am missing you, I check the blog to see if there is something new, and almost always there is! I love the story of the goats and the snow shoes! You are really getting lots of winter there by the sounds of it. Glad you found some fiddlers to play familiar tunes. I will ask Vivienne about that new rhythm when she comes back from Singapore.

    Love ya
    Myrna

  2. Maren Hartwell Says:

    You really have kept us well informed – you are such a good writer. We have a week of sun and mild temps coming up – little different than last year. Love your spinning wheel.
    Keep bumping into Marketeers. We all miss you. Love, Maren

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