Just to try and tie up any loose ends, I had my neighbor bring over her billy goat, Kramer. I'll get a picture of him up soon, because he is just the cutest little thing. If I were a doe goat, I'd be all over him like white on rice, but oh no, not my pack of nasty nannies. They butted him all to hell and gone, didn't even let him spend the night in the barn. Whenever I go out there, he tries to hide behind me.
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
When I bought Rosie Pony back in October (?), I was warned that there was a chance she was pregnant. She had "had access" to a stallion, but no-one had actually witnessed any breeding. Well, she's been getting fatter and fatter since she came to stay with us, and several horsey-type people who have seen her have said she is either severely overweight or pregnant. Or both, I suppose that's a possibility. What she could possibly be getting fat ON is a mystery to me, since all I give her is the same hay I feed the goats, which isn't really very good hay, and a handful of alfalfa pellets morning and evening.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Xana is back in heat, along with Django and her baby Valentine. So far, we've paid $150 in breeding fees and had two failures that we know of and two other does which may or may not have caught pregnant. Theoretically, we get our money back if they aren't pregnant after three heat cycles, but that's the whole breeding season, and then we won't have any baby goats in the spring. And baby goats - and milk - are the whole point of this stinkin' operation.
Friday, December 26, 2008
Well, not really. This morning one of my minor fears came true: I was up in the hayloft getting some hay for the goats when the ladder fell down. No possible way to reach it. Hmmm, now what?
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Unbelievable! Another seven or eight inches last night and still snowing like a mad bastard. When I went out to check on the animals, I was floundering around like a fish, wading through waist deep drifts. I have never seen this much snow in all my born days! Those are my front porch railings in the above picture, they are about chest height, so you can see how deep the drifts are. I absolutely hate to think about how much WATER there is going to be in a day or two when this all melts. It's warming up quick, up to 35 degrees now from a low of about 17 a few days ago, and they expect this snow to turn to rain any minute now.
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Iris wearing polar fleece. I put polar fleece vests on Iris and Django, my two skinny does, and it seems to have worked great. They have both started to put on weight, finally. I was feeding them hot cooked oatmeal with raisins, and that didn't help until I got the jackets on them. Iris has been bred again, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that she took this time. Eeryone I know on Goatbeat (the goat-related forum I've joined) is having babies already, posting photos that just make me so jealous I could scream.
The front porch.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Well, I'm not in Oaxaca. We are all still here enjoying the sub-zero wind chill factor. Travel document issue, and that's all I'm going to say about it. Well, that, and my husband is a mensch.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Well, we're off, like a herd of turtles as my dear mother likes to say. Leaving the farm with a foot of snow on the ground, more snow and high winds forecasted for the next week, and the temperature reaching new record lows every day. Can't wait to fly over the tropic of capricorn and start enjoying some HEAT.
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Whoo-hoo! When we were looking at this house, the house inspector, a local guy, warned us "you get a lot of weather up on this ridge," and man, are we getting some of it now! Apparently, we pay for our extremely beautiful views with extremely severe weather that only exists in a 1/4 mile circle around the top of this hill. Right now, there is something falling from the sky which I hesitate to call snow, as it seems to actually be teeny tiny razor blades flying horizontally through the air at 70 miles an hour. The wind is the most bonechilling that I have ever personally experienced. I got home a little late today and just drove straight out to the animals to give them their evening feed, and in the five minutes or so that it took me to throw food at everybody, my fingers went through various kinds of cold, on through hideous pain, all the way to completely numb. I had to soak them in ice water when I got back to the house. No more chores without gloves and a hat! The animal's water is frozen solid, so I'll have to start toting boiling water out in the mornings. But hey, at least the mud is finally frozen as well! Thank God for small favors!
Friday, December 12, 2008
Iris isn't pregnant. She is out there "flagging," waving her tail around to send a message to any nearby bucks that's she's ready and willing. She's also turned a lovely seashell pink back there and swollen up a bit... and the timing is right for her to come back into heat, so it's pretty certain she isn't pregnant. Drat. I wonder what the problem was? Avatar definitely did the deed several times, that wasn't the issue. We'll just have to try again, I guess.
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
We have four new chickens. That's not actually a picture of any one of them (camera still broken) but it is a picture I got off the web of a chicken in full molt, just to give you an idea how completely pathetic these new chickens are. They were my sister's chickens. Her old, worn out chickens. No, they are perfectly good chickens, two barred rocks and two araucunas, about a year and a half old, just what you like in a laying hen. But back in september, she and Marcus bought a whole flock of pullets, ten big, shiny, late-model rhode island reds. They were gorgeous as chickens can be all right, they just had one teeny little problem: they didn't lay eggs.
Monday, December 8, 2008
My goodness, but leaving the farm is expensive. Luckily, the couple I found to farm-sit will work cheap: they are staying in the house twelve days and charging me $200. I might have been able to haggle more, but why? The kids need the money and I trust them, so it's worth it. Doubt I could find anyone cheaper anyway. It might be only 30 minutes of work or so a day, but it's cold nasty work, likely to leave you muddy and freezing.
Friday, December 5, 2008
We are leaving town on the 17th, going to Oaxaca for christmas, a two week vacation. I'm looking forward to the trip; we haven't been to Mexico since Bibi was just over a year old... how long is that? Oh my God, it's two and a half years. How the time does fly. Which is also how we are getting there this time; no more month long roadtrips. Can't do that when you have a farm!
Thursday, December 4, 2008
Hooray! The electric fence has been working for three whole days now! And the goats are starting to wise up. At first they were getting shocked right and left, especially Iris because she loves to climb the fences. I was so fed up with them I just laughed and laughed whenever I heard a big
Monday, December 1, 2008
Nobody I know has the troubles I do with containing their livestock. Remember the chickens that almost started a neighborly feud? Remember when Xana kicked out a window of the barn and cut herself to ribbons? The piglet in the bathtub episode?
Friday, November 28, 2008
I'm confused about whether or not my does are bred. Let's see, Xana was bred over the course of four days starting about November 12th. Iris was bred on the 17th, and Flopsy, if she was bred at all, was bred a few days later than that.
Monday, November 24, 2008
Old fashioned toys: the rock and the stick. The kids independently discover the fulcrum.
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
My camera is broken, so I can't show you all what a gorgeous day it is here (that's an old picture, above, but it gives you the gist.). The mountains are out, looking like cut crystal all along the northern horizon. Mt. Baker appears to be hovering right over my shoulder. It has been so warm that I have three new roses blooming on my rosebushes. Incredible. And it has been so dry that the mud is, well, not gone, but considerably less deep than it was last week.
Monday, November 17, 2008
Yesterday we went to pick up Xana from the breeder, and brought Iris and Flopsy to be bred by the same buck. We hung around for a while talking and watching to see how things went. Iris was definitely in heat. Avatar got one whiff and wasted no time.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Xana has been successfully bred! Well, of course I don't know if she's pregnant yet, but my friend told me she'd seen the buck mount at least six or seven times, and that Xana was in full standing heat. Now the buck is ignoring her, so either she's bred or has gone out of heat. Breeder says if she didn't take after four days with this proven buck, then she's not fertile.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Monday, November 10, 2008
I got Xana to the buck's place without mishap. In the end, the thought of a frightened 170 pound goat rocketing around the inside of the van untethered was too scary. Rowan helped me hoist the big dog crate into the van and pop the top off. Then it was just a matter of throwing some feed in the crate and letting Xana jump in by herself. We popped the top back over her and tried to smoosh it down far enough for the clips to lock, but she didn't cooperate. Standing up, she's too tall. The whole contraption kind of looked like a weird turtle. By exerting extreme pressure on the top (sitting on it), we managed to convince Xana to lay down, and after that it was easy.
Whew, I just read back over some previous posts, and man have I been in a bad mood. It hasn't been all quite as relentlessly awful as this blog has made it sound, however. Really. It helps that we have a bright blue shy at the moment, predicted to last nearly all day before the next storm front moves in. The weather man was using his "Big Storm" voice, though, so I expect it will be a bad one. Ah well, I'll just try to spend as much time as I can outside today.
Saturday, November 8, 2008
This is shaping up to be the stinkiest day ever. After the pigpen incident ofd the morning, I thought things couldn't get worse. But just an hour ago, Lancelot got sprayed full on in the face by a skunk, from about two inches away. Of course I didn't let him in the house, but still, the whole place is majorly stinky. And will be for weeks, probably. For those of you who don't know, Lancelot is a Scottish Collie, and has approximately fifty-two pounds of fur.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
The weather report predicts heavy rain through the weekend. I don't see how it can get any wetter at this point, so I'm kind of indifferent.
Monday, November 3, 2008
Nothing works on the farm. The electric fence is still broke, despite two temper tantrums on my part and a first class marital spat. Homero didn't agree with me that an electric fence is supposed to deliver shocks EACH and EVERY time you touch it. He declared the fence fixed even though it delivered only a low-grade buzz that was rather more stimulating than painful, and then once every three minutes or so, a fat jolt that made your arm fly involuntarily up in the air. Currently (no pun intended), the shock-box has been taken down and apart to see what the hell is wrong with it, and I doubt it will be put back up before spring.
Monday, October 27, 2008
I'm having the most difficulty finding a buck to breed my does. I never thought it would be this hard. Goat sex is a natural thing, right? There are a couple of problems: finding a suitable buck, and dealing with the owners. I want to breed my does to a Boer this year, a meat goat, because I don't want to keep any kids. My herd is big enough for now. My milkers are young and healthy, and I'll keep the same ones for a few years, I just want them freshened. So I might as well breed kids that will be good eating.
Monday, October 20, 2008
I wish I had taken these photos on the farm, but I don't have any lovely trees like these. I took these pictures down the street a ways. Wonderful that we still have days like this so late in the fall. Thank God! No matter how stressful or harried my day is, all I have to do is look up through these leaves at the sky and I am instantly peaceful and happy.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
The mushrooms in the picture in the last post are, according to the experts at the mushroom festival, Shaggy Mane mushrooms, part of the Inky Cap group, rated as "edible and choice." That means yummy, but you have to gather them while they are still closed and cylindrical, and that phase lasts only a day or two. After that, they deliquesce. That means turn into horrible black, stinky runny toadstools. Which, unfortunately, has already happened to most of mine this year. Oh well, now I know. I'll be out there with a paring knife after the first rains next year.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
What to do about mud? The recent rains have turned the barnyard into the most disgusting mire. Calling it mud is just a euphemism; it's really more like liquid zoo-doo. There is apparently no drainage at all out in front of the barns. It just puddles up and stays there. I have admittedly made things worse by spreading around the dirty straw. I thought it would soak it up and compact, but it just makes everything deeper. Homero spread two pick-up truckloads of gravel, which was just enough to make slender paths from the gate to each of the two barn doors. I think I'm going to have a big pile of gravel delivered. I know it's expensive, but holy sh.....
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
I must get rid of Xana. There is nothing good about that goat, nothing. Well, okay, she's big and healthy. But she's a big, healthy pain in the butt. Xana is the destroyer of fences, and now she has taught the nubian twins to destroy fences, too. Believe me, there are plenty of things I would rather do than fix fences in the freezing cold. Which is what I was doing today. And catching escaped goats, which is no fun, either. They are really so much faster and more nimble than I. They hardly ever fall down in the mud.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Today we picked up our beef from Keizer meats. My sister's family came with us to pick up their half of the half. It turned out to be a bit more expensive than we had figured, for two reasons. Our steer just happened to be a big one, weighing in at over 900 pounds hanging weight. My neighbor had told me they usually dress out at around 600. Each of our quarters weighed 247 pounds. That's a lot more cut and wrap fee than we had anticipated. Also, there is more waste on a cow than there is on a hog. From our hog, we got about 80% of the hanging weight back in meat, but a steer yields more like 55-60%. Instead of paying $2.30 a pound, we are paying about $4.00.
The night before last was the first frost; not a very hard frost, but then last night was harder. I feel so bad for the baby goats, I've been separating them at night in the new field shelter, which has a gap running all the way around on the bottom. I'll need to insulate it somehow, probably with straw bales. Valentine was all fluffed up in the morning. The Nubian twins have short, sleek hair and can't fluff. But they are fat enough to be insulated.
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
Today was beautiful. Blustery, but sunny, and warm enough to wear a T-shirt. I felt like working outside. I finally tore out the remains of the garden (the tomatoes were disgusting, oozy and slug-eaten.), cleaned up all the tar paper that blew off of the new shelter in last night's windstorm, and mucked out the barns. Then I decided to let the goats out for one last go at the blackberries.
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Thank God, the goats are going to be just fine. In fact, they never got sick at all, as far as I could tell. I found the goats standing over the open chicken food bin at about 8 o'clock in the morning, and the vet was out by nine. We spent the next hour and a half wrestling them into a corner, putting a tube into their stomaches, and drenching them with approximately a quart each of mineral oil and activated charcoal. This was no easy task, and by the time it was over, I was so oily that the filth and muck practically slid right off me. Also bruised and bitten. The vet looked slightly only slightly better. She, of course, was wearing the right gear; a full body slicker.
All my goats might die, and it's my fault. They got into the small barn, where we keep the feed, AGAIN, and this time they got into the chicken food. Chicken food is the worst thing a goat can possibly eat, as little as a half pound can kill a full grown goat, and between the six of them, they ate 10 pounds or more. They managed to knock the chicken food bin off the shelf and the top must have popped off when it hit the floor.
Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Help! All the pears ripened at once! We have about seventy-five perfectly ripe, delicious pears! My dehydrator is full of pear slices, my oven is full of pear slices (at 170 degrees, it works just like a dehydrator), I made pear-ginger loaf for dessert tonight, and we are all sick to death of eating them out of hand. I'm trying to push some of them into the trade network, but it has to happen FAST. A pear goes from perfect to past-perfect in no time flat.
Monday, September 29, 2008
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Well, that took all of three minutes.
Early this past spring, I hired a guy to come out and see what he could do with the lovely antique pear tree that shades the garage. Last summer, it had produced only about a dozen little, gnarled pears, and I wondered if it might be made to do better. The man said it was in fine shape, and ought to bear many more pears after a good pruning. Then he basically shaved the poor tree and left it bare naked. I thought he'd killed it, but he was right.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Some people have suggested - people in my own family! - that I might have a little bit of a problem. An animal addiction. I'm a junky, it's been suggested, scrutinizing craigslist long into the night, neglecting my children, letting dinner burn on the stove while I hunt frantically for more goats, more alpacas, more chickens, more more more!
Saturday, September 20, 2008
The rain began this morning. It was time; it was past time. My fruit trees needed water (I have yet to work out a good watering system for the orchard. The hose doesn't reach and we have to water with buckets, which means we don't water often enough.). We haven't had measurable rain at all in September. Rain is inevitable; you have to make your peace with it or move away. But I'm just not ready this year. Spring was so long, so wet, and so cold. It was so dark and damp. I feel like there was barely enough summer to dry out, not enough warmth and light to sustain us through a long winter. I want an Indian Summer. Please, is anybody listening?
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Posted by Aimee at 9:44 PM
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Then I discovered that we had a fair amount of fence repair to do. There is a section of fence that runs alongside a wall of blackberries, and the goats have been mashing it down to get at them. I suspect Xana: she's the worst fence jumper. Plus I hate her. We had to drive six new stakes and try to pull the mashed fence back up and affix it to the stakes. Hard work in the heat of the afternoon. But we recuperated after a cold beer and spent the evening paying with the animals.
Homero let the pig out for the first time. When he picked it up to put it over the fence, it screamed like you would not believe! Oddly, the alpacas hated the very sight of the pig, or seemed to, and chased him around the barnyard aggressively, kicking and making weird alpaca noises. I don't know if they just never noticed him before behind his fence, or if they thought he was an intruder or what, but we had to put him back in his pen or he would have got his little pink ass kicked.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Buddy is a purebred Boer, which is a meat goat. I have only two goats to breed this year: Xana, my big mean ugly LaMancha, and Flopsy, the girl-twin out of Iris, a purebred Nubian from excellent lines. Flopsy won't be ready to breed until December (she's too young, still) but Xana is ready now.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Everyone wants to use the cider press! I have appointments lined up all week. Today a family with four kids is coming over, and the dad says he has two 55 gallon drums full of apples. A guy came over last week with a whole bunch of windfalls which he pressed to make ethanol for his Prius. (Don't worry, I carefully disinfected the press afterwards.) And I have about 150 pounds of apples in the shed, still.
Friday, September 12, 2008
With the beautiful sunny weather of the last week and a half, all the tomatoes that I thought were going to rot on the vine have been ripening. This is only one day's harvest; there are many more out there now waiting to be gathered. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with them. I'm tired of canning (and out of canning jars) so maybe I'll make various types of tomato sauce and freeze them in gallon ziploc freezer bags.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
I'm typing this with one hand, because the other is totally broken. Well, probably not really, but it feels like it. Coming out of the small barn this evening with a container full of food for the pig, a goat (didn't see which one) jumped up on the door and slammed it on my thumb. Tore all the skin off the top and it instantly swelled to twice normal size. I howled like a banshee.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Friday, September 5, 2008
Last week, I climbed into the hayloft with a roll of bird netting and a staple gun, with the intention of saving our hay from marauding chickens, who like to fly up there - the ones that can fly - and lay their eggs. Seemed like a simple enough project, but I guess I put a staple in my hand for nothing, because today I found black mama up there sitting on a clutch of eggs. Since I have no way of knowing how long she has been sitting on them, and since I have no wish to break open eggs with bloody half-formed chicks in them, I'm just gonna have to let her hatch them out. This will be the fourth clutch this year, but each of the previous clutches averaged only two chicks each, so I guess we have room for a couple more.
Posted by Aimee at 9:57 AM