Beginnings and Endings

 2011 began with a very cold first half of January.  Temperatures were below average; snowfall was a bit below normal for the month
 but the accumulation from November and December hasn't had a chance to melt, so we have no shortage of white stuff.  Vigilant Cat is mostly buried in a drift.
 Colors are subtle and subdued
 though we usually do enjoy some warm tones at sunrise and sunset.
 The air is anything but warm, so on some days the gorgeous landscape
 is best appreciated looking through windows.
 It's a good time for studying seed catalogs and dreaming of spring gardens. 
 No need these days to plunge the goat milk bottles in ice water, as Barb usually does immediately after each milking;
 a snow bank holds them and the ambient air cools them rapidly.
 No matter how cold it gets, chores on the Farm -- such as hoof trimming -- still need doing.
 Barb manufactured hand-warmers from old socks stuffed with rice; heated in the microwave and placed in her coat pockets, they allowed her to thaw her fingers before handling sensitive udders, lest the goats shoot vertically off the milking stand.
The home-made items have been superceded by high tech warmers, a welcome gift from friend Janet.
Alpines that they are, the goats have been flourishing in the cold weather.  The Gentlemen's Club stays fairly toasty in even the bitterest cold. 
 When Mr. T dips his beard in the water bucket he manages to collect all manner of frozen debris.
 The love-sick swain grew rather skinny during breeding season
 but he's eating more now and filling out his usually magnificent physique.
 Niblet has managed to stay fat on hay alone.  Layers of blubber under his gorgeous coat keep him warm.
 The ladies are knitting booties in anticipation of spring deliveries.  Alba is due on March 16
 Lassi on April 3
 and Kona on April 5.
 Dream gets another year off; she looks more pregnant than any of the does, but she's full of hay rather than goatlets.
 The visiting kitty is still hanging around.  
 Sometimes she eats the crunchies we set out for her;
 other times, she's too full of the mice and voles she snatches from beneath the snow in back of the house,
 taking them to her retreat amidst the trees on our property line.
 We hope to live-trap her and take her to the Northland Spay/Neuter Clinic for some birth control and a rabies shot before she resumes patrolling the Farm.
We are very saddened to report the death of Barb's mom Caroline on January 13 in her home at Diamond Willow Assisted Care Center in Cloquet.
 Caroline lived 91 years particularly rich in family, friends and activities. 
 Here she and husband Louis admire a future Farmer, little suspecting that the tyke will grow up to be a Goat Lady.
 A superb cook, Caroline worked for many years in the cafeteria of the Arlington-Green Isle School.
 She enjoyed travel, especially her visits to Hawaii, Alaska, Mexico, and Africa.
 When she could no longer live safely on her own in Arlington, she tolerated for awhile staying with the Farmers at their home in Duluth -- though she did put her foot down and refused to eat another meal with kale in it.
 Here she checks out a Cornish game hen from the Fisher-Merrit Farm.
When she needed more assistance she was fortunate to live first at Keystone Bluffs in Duluth and then at Diamond Willow in Cloquet;  she was a favorite of the caregivers in both facilities, who made sure that her final years were safe, enjoyable and dignified.
 She took advantage of outings to local attractions such as the Carlton County Fair
and Wurst Days at TJ's in Mahtowa (where the Wurst Band always played her standing request for "In Heaven There Is No Beer") 
 as well as entertainment provided at Diamond Willow, which included concerts by local musicians and visits from dignitaries 
 such as Artie and Tammy. 
 The many visitors who came from all over the state to see her were a tribute to her lasting popularity and influence on people's lives.
Here family and friends gather for her 90th birthday party.
Caroline Nieland (1919-2011)