Where did THAT year go?

What a strange El Niño autumn in our neighborhood (and many other parts of the country)!
Along with the browns and yellows we're used to in November
grass stayed green for most of the month.
The goats enjoyed their extended time to play in the meadow -- especially on the big spools provided by friends Andrea and Jeff.
November was the fourth-warmest on record up here, the National Weather Service reports, and September-October-November was the third-warmest fall since records have been kept starting in 1870.
By the end of November the pond was still not frozen over.
We didn't get a real snow until December 1st.
There's always something magical about that first fall:
 although the magic DOES diminish with every bout of snow-shoveling.
That initial half foot quickly vanished with the continuing unusually warm temperatures --
which reached a balmy 45 on December 9th --
and the goats were free to resume their meandering and tree-trimming.
Then another few inches fell on December 16th
giving Korma pause on the way back from milking
and more seasonal temperatures kept it around, providing a white Christmas.
Dustin climbed into his igloo next to the heating vent
for a long winter's nap
while a considerably less pampered feral Momma Kitty
headed back to her colder (but dry) hideout on top of the hay bales.
Breeding season has come to an end
but Mojo apparently didn't get the memo;
he still hangs out at the fence looking for a date 
with a forlorn look (and pee cologne) on his face.
Milking season is also coming to a close, while other routines (such as hoof-trimming) continue
made more pleasant in the colder weather by a space heater for the milking shed
and rechargeable warmers for the milker's hands.
December 20th was Phlebotomy Day
with friends Kärin & Dr. Brian assisting and wielding a mean needle and syringe.
Blood test results came back on December 24th and made for a wonderful Christmas present:
all 7 of the girls are pregnant, and the entire herd (including Mojo & Amigo) remains CAE and Johne's negative.  
In other good news, as a result of DHIR (milk test) and re-enrollment in Linear Appraisal, Cheeky & Eclipse have earned Superior Genetics designation (which has only exacerbated their smug attitude).
Santa's busiest elf spent the holiday season making batch after batch of
her popular goats' milk caramels
(and protecting them under mesh from those damned Asian Lady Beetles).
The goats join Dustin and us in wishing everyone a Merry Christmas
Blessed Festivus
and Happy 2016!


A whiff of woodsmoke, a blast of Eau de Mojo

 Autumn has been unusually long and mild at MeadowWild Farm this year.
 No killer frosts as yet; temps have dipped below freezing on only a few nights.
 Red Oak Lane was spectacular at the start of October.
 It was a pleasure to walk by Spring Lake and Sandy Lake
 and around the rest of the colorful neighborhood.
 Peak leaf season lingered on. 
 The apple harvest was abundant.
The refrigerator is full
 and most of the crop is now dehydrated and will provide treats all winter.
Barb has been experimenting with new cheeses, such as Belper Kanolle: a Chevre coated with Himalayan pink salt, garlic, and toasted cracked pepper.  It will age until the MDGA conference Nov. 14, which features a cheese-making contest.
 Her curried Paneer cooked with fresh veggies from our local Northern Harvest Farm was divine. 
 The neighborhood turkeys wander around in the open, even though Thanksgiving is less than a month away.
 The lingering warmth has extended the biking season on the Munger Trail.
A record high temperature on Oct 11 tempted the Farmers and visiting friend Janet to Jay Cooke State Park -- 
 along with the rest of the Minnesota population
 causing traffic jams on the suspension bridge.
Crowds thinned out on the walking trails, though,
and the leaves were still glorious if a bit past their prime.
Crowds of a different sort have invaded the house as the weather turns cooler.  We vacuum Asian lady beetles off the walls and ceiling, only to have hordes more show up a short while later. 
It's Mojo's favorite time of year: breeding season.
The suave, handsome, smooth-talking, aromatic Big Guy
has enjoyed romantic interludes with Cheeky, Eclipse & Korma
as well as Tianna (a Majority daughter)  visiting from the McCann Farm.
Exhausted by his labors of love, Mojo takes a nap using Amigo's heinie as a pillow.
Yet to rendezvous with Mojo are Xiu (Chewy)
and Ahnie.
Mojo's daughters visited other bucks; Reenie to The Sheriff at the McCann Farm and Keeper to "Phil" (above) at the Langhorst Farm in Kettle River.
  We're anticipating oodles of cute little goat babies starting in early March
and hope that predictions of a mild winter hold true for the birthing time.
With the cooler weather, Dustin migrated from his window perch
to his bed in front of a heat register.
Barb constructed for him a cozy igloo with an old sweatshirt stretched over a clothes hanger frame and with a lambswool pad floor.  Adhering to the Feline Code of Ethics, he studiously ignored the new digs for several days
but then weakened and tried it out.
Getting sleepy
and sleepier.
Now he spends a good deal of his day in blissful enclosed comfort.
At the end of the month we're enjoying the subtler colors
of what friend Larry Weber calls "Aut-Win."
Most of the leaves have fallen
with only the red oaks
and tamaracks hanging on.
It's Halloween.  Trendy humans are dressing up as goats,
but Mojo chose the most frightening mask he could find: