Thursday, February 19, 2015

Taking the Good with the Bad: Late Winter on the Farm

Saturday was the first rain-free day we've had in a while here. It seems like it has been windstorms and Pineapple Express-born heavy rains in our little neck of the woods all Fall and Winter. No severe cold this year and no snow to speak of, just endless wet.

It puts a strain on us, our garden and our critters. Trying to keep bedding clean and dry is a battle without end. Making sure that our beehives are draft-free and cozy for our little honeys is something we fret over, especially when the winds pick up.

So it seemed like a good omen - actually, a bit of a surprise - when Bill went up the hill to take a look-see at our three hives. The temperatures are still just a tad low to actually open the hives up and check things thoroughly, but observing your girls' activities can still tell you a lot about the health of the hive. Bill saw comings and goings at all three hives, a promising sign of life. Better yet, he saw bees coming in with pollen on two of the three hives, which is indicative of a happy hive, as pollen is what is fed to the "brood", infant bees.

We were pretty dumbfounded to have all three hives seemingly healthy and active, especially after one of them had the roof blown clean off their hive during one of the larger windstorms we've had this season.

Alas, if the bees' good disposition was our Yin, the sadness that awaited us in Goatlandia was the Yang.

After greeting and giving good head scratches to my goat gang, I went in search of Blue, who usually heads up the treat shakedown/scratch-fest. I found her in the goat house, looking very much like she was asleep. Our strong, sweet, sassy, irrepressibly-maternal little girl Blue, left us on an unseasonably sunny Valentines Day.

Blue was 14 years old, though we'd only had her for her last 4 years. She came to us with her little tiny buckling, Blackjack. He would be the last baby for our Bluey, and as though she knew that she'd reached the end of her new-mothering journey, she coddled and protected that little stinker to the point of spoiling him rotten. She was small but fierce.

Blue & her little man, Blackjack, chowing down.

In the years following, Blue became Auntie Blue, the maiden aunt/foster mom to many of our kids. If a doe had quads and couldn't keep up - the kids nursed Blue. If a Mama rejected/neglected a baby, Blue took them in. Even when her infant charges were nearly taller than she herself was, she nursed them when she could, fought for them to get their fair share at the feeder, napped with them in pools of warm Spring sunlight and slept close to them in the goathouse at night.

Bluey, in all her chunky glory :)
Waiting (uncharacteristically!) patiently for head scratches from her Papa

It hurts - literally hurts - to think that I'll never hear her insistent, distinctly unladylike "EH-EH-EH-EH-EHHH!" and see her rotund little form come trotting around the corner of the goathouse, in hot pursuit of snacks and head scratches. Her sassy little spark has gone, and I miss her.

So long, sweet girl.