#AtoZChallenge | H is for Hiking with goats another tail tale from the trail.

There was a moment when I was focused on the trail ahead but sensed that there was someone close behind. Seconds later one of goats sprinted past, fully engaged on exploring the wooded countryside, far less interested in us than we were in them.

This past September, on a mild fall day, we found ourselves enjoying an educational and relaxing hike with a sweet, well-mannered tribe of Alpine dairy goats at Ten Apple Farm.

The day of our hike started off with a light rain, so our hosts flipped the schedule and we started off in the barn where we learned about the farm and the goats. It was hard to stay focused, even though the information was interesting.

As the farmer told us his stories, one of the smaller goats in the pen behind him kept repeatedly jumping straight up while bleating and crying as she desperately tried to see over the top of the pen. She’d get a fleeting glimpse of us and then disappear only to return seconds later to peek again. It was clear that our hiking companions would have some energy.

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#AtoZChallenge | D is for Dogs from the first hello to the last goodbye.

Sitting cross legged on the living room floor as puppies with sporadic control over their limbs climbed all over us, jostling one another for high ground so they could lick our faces, is a treasured memory.

The parents of this rambunctious lot were both black labs with loads of energy, which in hindsight should have been a deterrent. The litter was a Neapolitan mix of three chocolate, three black and three yellow labs. We knew we wanted a smaller dog and as soon as we walked in my daughter, who was only six at the time, found a perfect little chocolate female pup. She probably would have been wonderful, but instead one of the larger yellow labs stole my heart and in a decision I occasionally regretted, I overruled her choice.

Moose, as the owners called him, was friendly, outgoing, and full of personality. During feeding time, he would lay down, covering as much food as possible, as it scattered across the floor while his brothers and sisters raced to the bowls. Then he would simply stand and eat the food he had captured. Turns out that was all for show. Once we got him home, we learned that he was the only lab on the planet who actually was not motivated by food. For the first two years of his life, we could actually see his ribs.

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#AtoZChallenge | G is for Goats and an Adorable Way to Recycle Our Christmas Trees

I put up five Christmas trees each year. One stands in front of the window in our mudroom and is covered in ornaments that I’ve collected from my travels over the years. You can see it from the road as soon as you come over the hill leading up to our house.

The second is a slightly bigger one in our living room that I insist on putting colored lights on even though the rest of my family prefers white ones. The colored lights are nostalgic and remind me of my childhood. The lower third is where all the non-breakable ornaments hang, an attempt to dog proof it. It’s also tied to the ceiling for reinforcement since it has some irreplaceable ornaments on it including a glass elephant my grandmother gave me.

A third table top tree in our breakfast area showcases my Superwholock obsession although in actuality it is covered only in Doctor Who ornaments and one determined mini-bust of Dean Winchester that I converted into something that I could hang in the tree out of desperation at not being able to find any other Supernatural ornaments. I’ve yet to locate a Sherlock one that I like either.

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Ten things I learned on my first trip to the Common Ground Country Fair in Unity Maine.

Normally, I am an exceptionally prepared person but when I decided to head up to Unity for the last day of the Common Ground Country Fair I jumped into the car on a whim and with no supplies. We had just celebrated the first day of fall but the temperatures were rebelling and heading up towards the 90s. A few basics like sunscreen and water would have been helpful, but fortunately it didn’t ruin my first experience at the Common Ground Country Fair.

The Common Ground Country Fair is a sponsored by the Maine Organic Farmers & Gardeners Association (MOFGA) and celebrates organic agriculture and rural life. This scouting trip gave me a basic overview of the event and will help me be better prepared next time I head back for hopefully a longer visit.

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Funky Bow Brewery | Welcome to the block party.

Want to go to a neighborhood block party, but there are none in your area? Head to Funky Bow Brewery for a truly festive experience. After a winter hike that turned into a more extended four mile trek, we were ready for some refreshments and relaxation so we headed to Funky Bow Brewery &  Beer Company in Lyman for pizza and beer.

It turned out to be a perfect afternoon and a real slice of American life. When we arrived around two, we discovered that it was Rock & Roll Saturday and the place was already busy. The brewery dining area is enclosed in a large greenhouse with plastic sheeting for walls. It has a dirt floor with rows of picnic tables lining each side, and a few taller round folding tables in the center. There’s a cashier in the outer room as you arrive where you can pay and are given beer tokens in exchange.

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