A New Arrival

Winter arrives in earnest
with frequent snowfalls
making this one of the snowiest Decembers on record.
Even as the snow mounts
Vigilant Cat keeps an eye out for a possible invasion from Canada.

One advantage of a metal roof is that the snow slides off, obviating the need for shoveling up there.
One disadvantage is the pile of concrete-heavy snow-ice that comes thundering down and needs cleaning up.
Crazy folk start fishing on nearby Spring Lake.

Crazy goats go out for their daily walks

and treats of corn cobs.
Temperatures have also been unseasonably cold, especially on clear days, dropping into the minus-20s, with even more horrendous wind chills.
By the time the photographer managed the nerve to venture out to the goat barn, it had warmed up to a balmy 16 below.
The goats don't seem fazed by the intense coldeven as rime builds up on their snouts.
The spoiled indoor cats, on the other hand, put aside their differences to snuggle together for warmth
and hop into the laundry as soon as it comes from the dryer
and disappear beneath the quilts on the daybed.
A brief thaw and sleet turn the driveway into a skating rink.
Between feeding and watering trips to the animals, Barb makes over 180 bars of goats' milk soap

which prove to be a very popular Christmas gift item. Here they're curing on every flat surface in the house.

On Dec 29 the Farmers head to Poplar Hill Dairy Goat Farm to admire Sarah's operation
and the cute baby goats
but mainly to pick up the newest addition to their own herd -- Majority. Despite earlier visits to bucks at the Langhorst farm, Dodger, Dream and Alba were showing no signs of pregnancy.
A resident buck seemed like a good idea, so Majority joins the team.
Sarah shows off Majority's mom, Much
and Barb chats with his dad, Creation. If Majority grows anywhere near that big, he'll be calling all the shots on the Farm.
He didn't mind the trip north in the Rav Goatmobile

but was a little hesitant to disembark
and had to be dragged into the barn.
A welcoming committee looks the newbie over.

For the moment, Majority is bunking with Alba and getting along fine with her.

He still needs encouragement to go anywhere
but will soon realize that he's fortunate to be part of the most pampered goat herd in the world.


Firearms Deer Season

It's firearms deer season, so the goats wear blaze orange when they're out of the barn.

Alba adjusts her mom's neckerchief,

and Dodger tries to eat hers.

The chickens fend for themselves without protective clothing. If hunters have consumed so much Old Grandad that they can't tell fowl from cervids, blaze orange won't help the hens anyway.

The biggest event of late autumn for Dodger and Alba is their trip in the Rav Goatmobile

to the Langhorst farm, where they have a romantic rendezvous

with a handsome buck named Wayne

who wined and dined the girls for over a week.

Dream and Niblet get a little extra pampering for being left out of the fun.

An extra treat for Alba is getting her ear tattooed with her registration number.

She looks a little embarrassed to have the tattoo dye smeared all over

but consoles herself with a little more clover hay.

Back home, Dodger and Alba rejoin Dream and Niblet for their daily walks

and treats of corn on the cob.

The colors of autumn

gradually disappear

leaving a subtler palette and interesting atmospheric effects

especially on foggy and cloudy days.

The sunny days are deceptive,

as they're even colder than the cloudy days.

Light snows make walks on Red Oak Lane and Spring Lake Road a bit slippery,endangering Steve's new bionic hip,

but they're not nearly as unpleasant as the odor emanating from a neighbor's hay field, recently treated with

a euphemism for the already euphemistic "biosolids" trucked out from the Western Lake Superior Sanitary District treatment plant.

Spring Lake glazes over on cold nights

and then develops thicker and thicker ice,
as does the pond.

Barb switches to heated water buckets for the goats and chickens.

Not that the hens seem bothered by the approach of winter. They charge out of their coop each morning and prance around in the snow

except when they're down to business.