03 March 2018

Perhaps Phil Was Mistaken

Punxsutawney Phil, that is.

It seems like pretty much as far back as I can remember, Phil has seen his shadow and has predicted 6 more weeks or winter.  And pretty much every year I respond with a huff and a sniff.  Of course he's predicting 6 more weeks of winter.  It's February 2, for crying out loud.  We ALWAYS have 6 more weeks of winter; Sometimes more!

Here's a pic of our wee, little barn on April 8, 2014:

Except this year is different.  This year is weird.  REALLY weird.

We had a super deep freeze for weeks on end and then it got warm and rained and melted and then snowed and then rained and then got super cold.  Up, down, up, down, dry, wet.

I worried that the goats would get pneumonia from all the temperature fluctuations.  Fortunately, no one has. They've been healthy as...well, goats!  Goats who are getting super frisky and wound up now on a daily basis because the weather has been weirdly warm - in the 40's and 50's (Fº, of course) more days than not.  We even had one day - still in February, mind you - where it was in the 60's.

Crazy talk, I tell you!

We still have snow here at our house.  We live at the top of a hill and our micro climate usually brings us a slightly slower snow melt.  My trees all bud a little slower and my flowers bloom a little later than in town.  But in the valley, there are huge patches of field and yard and pasture with NO snow.  Heck, 2 days ago I saw an older man out raking and doing his spring yard clean-up!

So...It looks like Phil was wrong.


Because I literally just looked out the window as I was writing this - and it is, unexpectedly, snowing.


25 February 2018

I'm Just Curious....

My grandkids came to visit yesterday.  We had a lovely time.

Fireball and Cookie played board games with their aunties; Ji-Ji played with me.

Ji-Ji is a delightful, autistic 13 year-old.  He and I played with a wide variety of musical instruments, ate snacks and finally settled down to watch some Rube Goldberg Machines on the YouTube.  After a while I wandered away to do some Mom/Gramma stuff, but I kept an eye on him.  Ji-Ji has been known to quietly change tack and "get into something" (or out the door!) when least expected, so one has to be diligent and attentive when he's in the house.

Sure enough, he got tired of the groovy chain reaction videos and switched the computer to a cartoon he liked.

I hadn't seen it before so I indulgently slid back beside him to watch it.  Let's just say I decided pretty quickly that we needed to watch something more wholesome!

You know, something like a relentlessly stupid coyote who keeps getting squished, smashed, blown-up and scorched as he tries desperately to capture an oversized, good natured roadrunner.  (Note:  I lived in Texas for a spell and I know for a fact that roadrunners ain't that big!).

We watched the cartoon for about 10 minutes before Ji-Ji wanted to switch to another cartoon he liked better.  This time he made a much better choice, so I let him watch.

However, I was left wondering:  If the coyote has the wherewithal to buy slingshots and explosives and cars and traps, then why doesn't he just order pizza and give up the whole futile roadrunner quest?

I'm just asking'...

23 February 2018

Learning Made Easy

As you may have noticed from my bio, I am a homeschooling mom.  In fact I have technically been schooling children in my home since 1988 when Funsocksgirl turned 5.  That's 30 years!

Homeschooling was a new and daring and somewhat scary road in the 80's.  School boards, State teachers' associations and social workers were not terribly accepting of the homeschool option.  We lived in central Missouri at the time and I remember the Kindergarten principal bawling me out for "ruining" my child with my harebrained ideas.  Thankfully, I knew the law better than she did and was able to calmly stand my ground.  I had memorized State statutes on what courses and hours were required and made sure we jumped through every paperwork hoop. 

Nonetheless, I was paranoid about "The State" coming and taking away my children.  We actually used to have family drills on what to do if "They" came to the door.  Stories abounded of children being taken away and parents being taken to court for neglect or for aiding in truancy.

We were faithful members of the Home School Legal Defense Association so we'd have affordable legal representation if anything happened.

  I planned our school "classes" meticulously and kept very detailed records of what we did, when we did it and who we did it with.  I strove to meet every requirement of the law.  We even bought an entire brand new set of World Book Encyclopedias so we'd have our own well equipped library at home.

It was exhausting!  And the task was further complicated by the limited resources that were available.  There were only a very few publishers who put out curriculum for home sale. I had no other homeschoolers to bounce ideas of off.  There was no internet (that I knew of) and we did not have a computer.

Still, I did manage to find some decent texts, we made frequent use of our public library, and took frequent field trips.  By our second year, there was one more homeschooling family in our neighborhood.  We pinched pennies and went to a couple of homeschool conventions and discovered a few more resources and a boatload more home educators.  It was great!

Fast forward several years.  Funsocksgirl was 16 and Scout was 13 when we had Girly-Girl in 1999.  Then we had Silly-Head in 2001.   While we were working on Jr high and High School for the older 2, we entered into a new realm with the babies.  By the time the girls were school age we even had computers and email, along with educational computer games. There were homeschool co-ops we could take part in, homeschool parties and proms and more curriculum options than we could shake a stick at.

Nowadays, finding quality curriculum is quite simple; Just turn on the computer!  You can find so many affordable options.  Better yet, you can even find some that are FREE!  Imagine that!

One thing I am always looking for is quality resources for studying science.  Even though my girls are older now, I still occasionally teach High School biology for a local co-op.  I also lead a 4-H club with 12 kids ages 5-18.  And one thing we study in both those settings is BUGS.  In the biology classes we study insects and arachnids and how God made them.  In 4-H we study invasive species like the Asian Longhorn Beetle and parasites like goat lice and how to control/eradicate them.

 Imagine my delight when I found out about the Orkin Science Website!  As you may know, Orkin is a company that specializes in pest control.  ie. They know their bug science!

On this website you can find entomology lessons and accompanying printables for grades K-6.  There are coloring pages, interactive activities (anyone up for studying a virtual roach?), and tips for field trips and good lab practices.  They are not a complete science curriculum in and of themselves, but they'd make a great supplement to life science lessons with your kids.  Best all, these resources are all FREE!  Woooot!

I can easily see incorporating some of Orkin's free material in my lesson planning!  According to their website, I might even be able to schedule my local Orkin man to come to our co-op or 4-H activity to teach us more about bugs.  Groovy!

So there you have it.  If you homeschool or if you want to share some fun FREE science resources with your child's school, check out the Orkin Science Website.  I think you'll like it!

17 February 2018

It's February in Maine and You Know What THAT Means!

Ah, February...

It means the weather is schizophrenic.



It means that all four goats are pregnant.  Just pregnant enough to be voraciously hungry and kinda cranky, but not pregnant enough to be fat and cute yet.

It means parties and chocolate, Chocolate and MORE CHOCOLATE because, you know, Valentine's Day! <3 p="">

It means it's time for a my 4-H Clubbers to give speeches.  We did them early in the month and the kids did amazingly well considering most of them had never spoken in front of a group before.  Our club has 12 children ranging from 5 years old to 18.  Some of them need to improve their speeches, but most of them (all of them?????) are going on to the County speech tournament in March.  HUZZAH!

It means GrammaJ is SUPER crabby because Winter is not over yet.  The poor gal (my Mom) retired up here from South Carolina to be near us so we can take care of her.  She LOATHES the cold.  About the time February hits, her every conversation seems to center on how everything is better in the South.  It doesn't help that she slipped on the ice Thursday and is all bruised up.  *sigh*

It means the robins are back.  I have not seen one yet, but I KNOW they are out there!

It means that the donuts are gone and I am successfully losing weight now.  I'm down 5 pounds since my last blog post, chocolate not withstanding.   Go Me!!!

It means that Girly-Girl heard me whining about my non-writing-inertia and has taken on a new role as MY coach.  She is putting mean a novel writing schedule as of this coming Monday.  Go Girly-Girl!

It means my friend just had a chimney fire today!  Fortunately no one was hurt and the damage to the house was minimal.  Winter seems so long here; Sometimes it's hard to keep up with chimney maintenance!

It means the days are getting longer.  I can actually see a wee bit of light in the sky by 6am now!!!!

It means I'm having thoughts of gardens and biking and baby goats - though all of those things are still a couple of months away.

It means I'm done writing for now because I need to clean the pellet stove.  Still.  Again.  Because it's still February in Maine.

See ya next time!

03 February 2018

Enough With the Research Already!

Well, I'm back.  I shall save you the boredom of catching up on all that's happened while I was away.  Suffice it to say I and the BHE are older, the girlies are older and we still have goats.  ;-)

I'm back because I keep feeling that gentle nudge from God to use the talent He's given me and WRITE!  Unfortunately, I seem to be one of those people who researches and researches and RESEARCHES, but never acts on what I study.   *sigh*

In my mind, I am a fitness and nutrition expert.  Ask me questions; I am ready for you!  And as a result, I have gained another 10 pounds over the past 3 years - and it ain't "all muscle".  NOT groovy!

I'm sure some of it is due to the hormone changes of menopause.  But the truth is, I read so much about exercising that I FEEL like I exercise enough.  And I read enough about a proper, healthy diet that I should be the poster child for clean eating.

Which is totally why I got up at 5am this morning to pore over doughnut recipes.

I also know a great deal about writing.  In fact, last year I taught a novel writing class to 4 teenagers.  The class was wonderful and all 5 of us made tremendous progress.  The girlies are still working on their stories.  Girly-girl's is a mystery and Silly-Head's is a fantasy.  One of the young men is writing an amazing sci-fi story and the other a fantasy/adventure thriller.

Mine is a Contemporary "Mom" story.  I was really enjoying hashing out all the details.  The kids LOVED my story line and kept begging me for updates.

But I haven't written a single word on it since the class ended.

Chalk up 3 half-written novels for Groovy.

However, I am not completely crippled by inertia.  I read the Bible pretty much daily and I have made progress in my walk with the Lord.  I am kinder.  I am more patient.  I am quicker to forgive others.  I am quicker to listen and just a little slower to open my big mouth.  And since that class never ends, I suspect I'll keep growing closer to Him.  Can I hear a hearty "Hallelujah!"?

I've also been watching some YouTube videos on organizing your home and Man!  You should see my closet!  And my kitchen cupboards!  And my purge piles!   Woot!!!!

Definite progress there!

(Do you need help organizing?  I HIGHLY recommend Cass at Clutterbug.  She's "amazeballs"!)

I also wanting to make a few extra bucks for pocket money and found a perfect fit for me - Mystery Shopping.  I researched, I found the idea and some reputable companies and BAM; I am a Mystery Shopper.  Such fun!  I get to use my acting skills and channel my inner reporter so corporations can get an insight into how their local branches are doing.  I'm in charge of how much I work and which places I choose to "shop".  So it's just right por moi.

And this is where I insert a skillful segue.  Sadly, I am out of practice - so on to the point I am making.  You do realize there is a point to all these words, right?

A short time ago, the Lord made it clear to me that fitness and writing are things I can do.  Some things in my life I cannot change.  Some selfish dreams need to go out the window.  But writing and fitness are things I CAN do and CAN change.  These ARE within my grasp.  And even knowing that, I find myself sandbagging, holding back, finding excuses for NOT writing, NOT exercising, NOT choosing brussel sprouts.

And then...a simple request, out of the blue.  I found a private message on my favorite goat forum - which I was going to quote right here.  However, I can't find the message now.  Probably because I have not yet researched how to find private messages on The Goat Spot.  Hmmmm.

Well, the gist of it was that a fellow goat lover had stumbled on my blog and really liked it.  However, she was sad that I had not posted for years.  When was I going to start writing again?

When AM I going to start writing again?

Now.  I am starting NOW.  Today.

Keep coming back, friends.  Because Groovy is writing again!!!!!

And I'll start my diet right after I finish this doughnut.

Baby steps!

17 December 2016

A Jelly Belly Christmas

Well, we just went through the first deep freeze of the year.  Now we're slowly climbing out.  Why it's a blistering 11ºF today!  And it's snowing again!

Seriously, I am actually pleased about this because it is December and - you know- snow for Christmas and all that.  My brother-in-law is coming here from California and my son is coming from South Carolina.  We need to make sure they get the full Maine experience while they are here.

Of course the last time they were both here and sledding was involved there was blood...

I'd better stock up on band-aids and gauze and tape!!

While we're waiting for them I've been baking like a crazy woman and packing some boxes to mail out to family and friends.  One tradition I started years ago was always giving my children Jelly Belly Jellybeans in/for their stockings.  Happily for me, JBjbs aren't as exclusive as they used to be and have become more affordable.  I was able to select some larger bags this year, settling on 40 flavors in an 8.25 oz. bag for my hubby, each of my kiddos and for my son-in-law.

However, yesterday when I picked up two of the bags I noticed something very odd.  Although the packaging was identical, one seemed to weigh considerably more than the other.  Ever the scientist I pulled out my trusty digital food scale and weighed them.

Here are the results.  Do you see what I saw?

Ayuh, looks like we got ourselves an unexpected Christmas blessing:  That first bag is pretty much double the weight it's supposed to be!  Thank you, Jelly Belly!

24 November 2016

A New Start

Well, I've been meaning to get back into blogging - so here I am.

I won't try to catch you up on the entire past year.  Suffice it to say:

- My girls are older and are both driving now
- The goats had LOTS of babies and we eventually sold them all.  So we went from 4 does to 12 goats and now we're back to 4.  And yes, we are in the midst of breeding season.
- We took another cross country camping road trip (5 weeks worth) to California and back and I got to ride a mule down into the Grand Canyon!  Boo-Ya!
- I'm on a hiatus from singing for a while because my voice is really giving me the blues.
- I still have brown hair (stop laughing)
- I am working on becoming stronger and more flexible even though I am old.

Today is Thanksgiving, but we celebrated yesterday with Grammy, GrammaJ and the Uncle.  It was a lovely day.  I love Thanksgiving!  I also love the day AFTER Thanksgiving because it is one of our 3 yearly "Pie-For-Breakfast" days.

Today I was a Hobbit and had TWO breakfasts.

Then I went outside and did tons of lifting and hauling and moving stuff to prep the goat pen and supplies for snow.  I burned so many calories that I'm just SURE I'll need at least one more piece of pie.  Heh-heh-heh.

Then back to lowish carb por moi.  Stronger and More flexible.  Remember?  Pie is not so helpful with moving toward those goals!

Actually, I have a cold and I'm uber tired right now.  So I'm resting up in preparation for shopping tomorrow.  No, not black Friday shopping.  Just regular Friday shopping which GrammaJ and I do every, you know, Friday.  Still, I know THEY will be out there, so I'll need a good night's sleep and lots of delicious coffee before I venture out.  Pray for me.  ;-)

06 August 2015

An Eventful Few Weeks

Well, life hasn't slowed down, but I have.

I had surgery a week ago and recovery is kicking my butt.  I know the doc told me it would take six weeks, but I was sure that, in my case, "six weeks" meant 4-5 days.

Silly Groovy!

Anyhoo, I figured I'd use some of this chill time to post on my blog.

It has been and continues to be a very (VERY) eventful time here at Groovy Gramma's Farm.  The biggest and most serious "event" was that we lost Grampy a few weeks ago.  He's been in ill health for years, but his death came rather suddenly and unexpectedly.  It was a bit of a shock, but we were glad he didn't suffer!!!  Life won't be the same without him.  Thankfully we do have the assurance of knowing he is no longer in pain and that every tear has been wiped away.  He loved the Lord and we are confident he is with His Savior.

We sold 2 of our beloved goaties a couple of weeks ago.  Electra and Davian have found new homes and now we are focused on the "productive" members of our herd.  The girlies have been working very hard preparing them all for our first dairy goat show this weekend.  Then we have another show next weekend.  We also have two 4-H displays to set up at the second fair.

It's making me CRAZY being so physically restricted at fair time.  However, my girlies are old pros and the BHE was able to get off work so he can take them to this weekend's fair.  It involves a 5:30am departure and a looooooooong day of showing.  I'm definitely not up to that yet!  I shall have to be content with having Grammy take me up there for an hour or two in the afternoon to sit in my lawn chair and get waited on like an invalid.

Hmmm.  I guess I'd better enjoy this pampering while I can!

In addition to all the recovering and 4-Hing, our son, Scout, will be arriving on Sunday for a 2 week visit.  We'll be seeing him and his 3 kiddos as much as time and energy will possibly permit.

We're also looking at a third fair over Labor Day weekend.  That one requires us to stay on the fairgrounds for the 4 day entirety of the fair.  Fun, but rather tiring!

The week after that we're taking off for a 2 week vacation.  I think I'd really rather stay at home.  The older I get the more of a homebody I am.  But the BHE has nomadic blood and gets pretty cranky and unhappy if we stay still too long.  And frankly, a happy hubby is tremendously important to me! So go we will.

Thus far we've done 2 coast to coast road trips and one crazy, but awesome January trek to Texas and back.  We always see all the national parks and sights and camp in our tent whenever possible.  This time it looks like we're heading south.  The girlies have never been to Florida.

Of course we're leaving just a couple of weeks after the official start of school.  That will be especially odd since I am co-teaching a High School biology class...

Hmmmm.  I'm tired just thinking about all of this.

It's time to pull back and enjoy the quiet of an evening with my girls; Maybe a game or maybe a movie.  Or maybe I'll just take a little nap and then have them bring me ice cream.

Gotta enjoy my convalescence!

24 June 2015

Ahhhhhhh, ain't them some pretty plants?  Of course they are!   However, if you are an astute nature lover, you (wisely) run screaming when you espy this particular beauty anywhere near you.

It's poison ivy.


I am particularly sensitive to the evils of this lovely bit of herbage.  Sadly there is (was) a HUGE patch of it right next to our goat pen.  It is a lush, stunning green patch of pure evil!  There are several trees and large tempting rocks right in the patch.  And did I mention that it is RIGHT next to the goat pen?

I did.

Do you know that goats love poison ivy and are not bothered by it in the least?  Did you further know that goats also love big rocks to jump on and tasty trees to munch on - even if they are in the middle of a deep, malevolent bed of poison ivy?  And did you know that sensitive goat owners can get poison ivy from touching said goats?

True story.

Girly-Girl was never bothered much, but Silly-head and I have gotten rashes several times from errant goats.  When we have our wits about us, we will catch those naughty caprines and give them baths before they go back in the pen - and then scrub ourselves like mad.  But oh what a nuisance...

So this year I went all out and declared DEATH TO POISON IVY!

I cannot and will not use poison on this patch. It is right next to the goat pen!  (But you, of course, already knew that.)  I can't take the chance of toxins blowing into the pen or of escapees wading into a field of death and eating their way to an early grave.

Folks have told me to just let the goats eat it down.  That would be a possibility if we had meat goats that we weren't handling much.  But we have dairy goats and we handle them and work with them pretty much twice a day every day.  The goats are not the solution.

In April, just after the snow finally melted, I got angry and determined.  I got the credit card.  I bought tons (figuratively) of black garden plastic. I bought thousands (figuratively) of little staples to hold that plastic down and I covered every square inch (literally) of that horrid, nasty, disgusting poison ivy patch.  It took me over 8 hours to get the plastic down.  It is overlapped in strategic ways.  It winds around the trees and rocks.  It kills, KILLS the poison ivy.  


Of course, even though I tried to be VERY careful, and even though I performed this feat of daring-do before the plants even came up I still got poison ivy.  And I got it pretty bad because when one is angry and determined one might be just a little too aggressive in pulling evil out BY THE ROOTS!


I've been through 2 rounds of steroids and still have some rashes and itching.  But it is SO worth it to look out and see a safe place for my furbabies to play!  And it looks so nice -especially after I spent another 6 hours digging out muck from the winter muck pile and hauling it over to thickly mulch over the plastic.

Now I go out at least once a week and survey the area because I know poison ivy and I know it will try to strike back.  I know it will send out shoots and try to spring up around the edges.  I was feeling pretty smug because there's been no sign of it.  Sadly the day before yesterday I found a new small patch about 6 feet out from the huge one I worked so hard.

Just so you know, it is gone now.  Smothered.  Because I am dangerous when I am angry and determined!!!!!!

Now I need to call my doctor about this itchy rash...

04 April 2015

From Season to Season

One of the things I love about living up Nawth is that we get to experience all four seasons (Five, if you count "mud season")

Sadly, we seem to be having a bit of trouble here moving on to spring this year.  Here're some pics from March 31.

Here's "Lake Caprine" in our goat pen.  This "lake" froze the night after these pics were taken and Annika, our VERY pregnant Nigerian Dwarf goat went belly up on the ice.  She looked like an odd, white, furry turtle waving her useless legs in the air.  Fortunately, she was not injured!

The little porch you see there is about 1/2 a flight of stairs high.  The snow pile is from all the snow that came down off our steep metal roof.

Oh Look!  There's actually a bud on the lilac tree...Of course, one of the goats ate it right after I took this photo.

Today is April 4.  It is Cookie's 8th birthday.  Happy Birthday, Cookie!  Oh look - we are celebrating by having more snow today!  Don't you feel special?


In other news, Ditza is 145 days of pregnant today.  According my very trustworthy sources, most LaManchas tend to kid around day 145.  I think Ditz is holding out for the middle of Easter dinner tomorrow, instead.

Annika dropped her last set of kids on Day 143.  She'll be at that mile marker on Monday.  

Electra got her "birthing clip" today.  She has quite long hair for a dairy goat, so there was a great deal of clipping to do.  She is skinny as a rail, ornery as....a goat, and has the weirdest looking little lopsided udder I've ever seen.  I can't feel any babies, but she does have the udder (sort of) and her personality has changed tremendously.  We should know within another week or so if she is actually pregnant or if she is playing an elaborate hoax on all of us.  

If she's NOT pregnant, then I'll be voting for her to move on to another home as a pet!  Here's a pic of her clip job and her sad, strange little udder.

I'm lacking a bit of sleep from repeated trips to the sliding glass doors on the porch in the middle of the night listening, listening for suspicious sounds of someone in labor in the goat shed.

These clowns are really keeping me on my toes!

Ok, I've been sitting here too long.  The sun is starting to come out from behind the clouds - HUZZAH! - and I need to go see if anyone is in labor!