"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Friday, November 28, 2008

Confused about Conception

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. 

It's far too early for them to be back in heat if they were not pregnant. Well, Xana possibly. It's been 16 days since she was bred. But way too early for Iris. However, they both look sort of like they might be. Xana has a puffy pink vulva, just like when she actually is in heat. And Iris hasa little bit of yellowish goo stringing down from her vulva and a messy tail. Flopsy is the only one who looks totally ordinary and boring under there. 

If they aren't pregnant, I have one more try on Xana and two more on Iris and Flopsy paid for, but why wouldn't they be? The buck is proven; Iris is proven, and Xana and Flopsy are both nice healthy does, no reason to suspect they wouldn't be fertile.

Aargh. Goats.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Funny Farm Fotos

Not much going on on the farm these days. Just keeping up with feeding six goats, three of them pregnant; three alpacas; a pony; and one very hungry pig. It's starting to freeze every night, so pretty soon I'll be carrying warm water from the house and walking back with frozen pant legs. Can't wait. So far the hose is still working, long may it run!

My camera is still broken, likely to remain that way, so here are a few funny fotos gleaned from the collection on the computer.

          Old fashioned toys: the rock and the stick. The kids independently discover the fulcrum.

                                    Portrait of an alpaca. Benji withstands the weather. 

Teaching the goats tricks. Up!

The goats are tired of doing tricks. Give us that grain, boy!

Goat attack!!!!!

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. 

We've gotten a few things done while the weather has been nice. Homero blocked up the space under the barns, leaving a teeny tiny hole for the white rabbit to go in and out of (oh yeah, I think he owes me some money on that score...), however it's made no difference in the number of eggs we are collecting. Either the chickens just aren't laying or they are better egg hiders than we thought, the crafty things. 

All three does that I planned to breed this year are bred. I had our farm-sitter out to go over the ropes. We are going to be gone for over two weeks in December - christmas in Oaxaca. I'm a bit nervous about it, but you gotta leave the farm sometime.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Successful Goat Sex!

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. 

This was my first observation of goat sex. It's absurdly hilarious. Avatar, a manly man if ever there was one, began by striking manly poses. He stuck out his hind legs, twisted his head sideways and froze into place like a Mr. Universe contestant. He gazed intently at Iris and advanced gradually, apparently trying to mesmerize her like Christopher Walken playing that scary European roue on Saturday Night Live. Finally he pranced up to Iris and began "blubbering," that is, flapping his tongue like a drunken frat boy at her ears, legs, and vulva until she decided he was sufficiently macho to father her babies and stood for him. 

The actual deed takes less than two seconds and appears to be rather painful for the doe. Avatar "closed the deal" at least three times in the twenty minutes we were chatting, and most likely we could have taken her home right then and there. However, Flopsy needs a day or two in the presence of Avatar's funky billy goat hormones in order to come into heat, and I thought she'd be happier and more comfortable with her mom around. Flopsy seemed to be in love with another buck, Kramer, but I want Avatar to breed her too. I feel awful about it though. She's so young and innocent and pretty, and I'm letting her be ravaged by this gigantic hairy cabron. I feel like I've just locked up a fourteen year old virgin in a brothel. 

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Xana Update

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. 

She also said "no offense, but that is hands down the most obnoxious goat I've ever seen. I'd definitely have eaten her if she were mine."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

An Unexpected Guest


Yesterday afternoon, as I sat here at the computer looking  out the window, I noticed a lady I almost recognized walking toward the door. I popped up and opened the door and she said "Remember me? The alpaca lady?" (Incidentally, when people say "remember me?" they ought to follow that question with their name. Just in case I don't.)

She (Of course, I can't remember her name, although I do remember what a nice lady she is. Alice?) had been driving by and decided to visit her alpacas, see how they were doing in their new home. "Oh of course," I said, mentally picturing her horror to see them as they look now - wet, tangled, stuck full of burrs, dirty. They were pristine at her ranch. Of course, they lived in a barn with concrete floors.

We walked out to the pasture and I locked up the goats so that we could feed the alpacas unmolested, and lo and behold, when she called their names they came trotting right up to her. Benji even let her pet him. "what nice fiber you have, Benji," she said, digging her fingers into his coat. 

"Does their fiber look about right," I asked, "I mean, for when they were last sheared?"

"Looks great. They look just great."

Phew! Still, I had to apologize about the burrs. "Look at Benji's head," I said. 

"Yeah, well. When you get him sheared next May, they'll just have to take off his whole topknot." 

They're gonna look so silly.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Goat Transfer Complete

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. 

I almost felt sorry for her. She cried piteously on the way over, and when we left her alone with the buck (Buddy, still a cute little baby) and walked away she screamed and yelled. She's an obnoxious goat, but I felt bad. 

One good thing: I got to take a look at their Nubian buck, Avatar. He's big, brawny, but not ugly. He's actually quite a nice looking goat. I think he'll do fine for Iris and Flopsy in a little while.

Minor Changes

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.

I came up with an idea to make mucking out easier. As I think I mentioned in a previous post, there is  no way to maneuver a wheelbarrow in the barnyard right now. And I think I also mentioned that the pig no longer lives in his pen, since he would drown in his own muck if he did. So it occurred to me that I could use the empty pigpen for my compost pile. It abuts the barn, and one of the barn windows is perfectly situated for forking the dirty straw right out. Presto: no wheelbarrow, much cleaner, dryer, less smelly barn. And there's a fence around the pen, so the animals can't climb all over the compost, except for the chickens of course. 

Homero and I moved the remaining bunny, hutch and all, onto the back porch. It was quite a job carrying the hutch - which is pretty large and very heavy - through the gates and 300 feet to the house. The idea is to get the little girls more involved in taking care of their animal and to provide the bunny a little stimulation now and then, instead of letting it waste away of loneliness and boredom all alone in it's hutch. I'm fairly certain we aren't going to recover the white bunny, certain enough to bet Homero $100. He spent a half hour or so trying, and did manage to drive the bunny out from under the barn twice and onto open ground, but he wasn't able to net it either time before it dashed under the other, bigger barn. We really have to figure out a way to block up the space under the barns. During Operation Bunny Homero discovered several large clutches of eggs under there. 

I also managed to get the pony into the smaller pasture with the new field shelter in it. It's much drier there, no mud at all, much better for her hooves. Homero and I attempted to get the alpacas in there as well, but no dice. I have no idea how we will ever move them, or trap them for shearing. Instead I gave her two goats for companionship, Xango and her daughter Valentine. These are the only two does I won't be breeding this year, so if I get a buck on the place I can just put him in with the other three girls and let him have at it.

Speaking of which, I am bringing Xana to a buck this afternoon. When Rowan gets home, I'll have her watch the little kids and take the van with the goat in it. I'm hoping she won't hurt herself or me on the trip. It's not very far.

I know, I'm dubious too, but I have no other options.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Stinkiest Day Ever

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.

Oh Gross

I fell down in the pigpen. Fell right on my butt. Made a big brown splash. I almost barfed in my lap. 

I had to strip down and walk back in the house butt naked. After my forty minute shower, I feel close to clean again, but my clothes went straight into the trash.

I sure love farming, I surely do. 

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Rain, Rain

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.

Homero shoveled enough rock to make a couple of paths through the gunk. I saw that the pony was actually inside the barn with the goats, but she didn't look happy about it. The alpacas sit on their chests, tails to the wind, close their eyes, and just let it all wash over them. I hope they don't get sick.

The chickens mostly stay inside the barn, which means extra-fast pile up of poop, but still no eggs. When they come out to eat, their feathers blow all over the place and they look ragged and flimsy. I can't empty the barn of the compost pile in the corner, because there's absolutely no way of maneuvering a wheelbarrow  in the barnyard. I may have to wait until it freezes solid.

That would be a relief.

Monday, November 3, 2008

November Blues

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.

Unless I secretly hire someone and risk a major fight in favor of a working fence.

I had four yards of drain rock delivered, a week and a half ago, and it is still in a big pile doing nothing to solve the mud problem because I hurt my back and can't spread it out. Homero says he will do it "soon." Maybe my back will heal "sooner." I don't think I bought enough rock, anyway, because the mud is OUT of HAND. It is well over ankle deep, and it is getting pretty difficult to traverse some areas without losing a gumboot. All in all, the farmyard is a wet, stinky, disgusting swamp, and nobody wants to be there, animals included.

I haven't closed the pig in his pen since it started raining. It would be inhumane. He sleeps in the barn with the goats, making himself a big old pile of straw (compost) and digging a kind of trench in it to bury himself in. He's really a very cute pig, and nice as pigs go, and I'm starting to feel bad about eating him. Though I did buy a book yesterday called "Home Sausage-Making."

The catch pen, which was meant for the pony, is the wettest part of the yard, oddly and frustratingly. Rain pools right under the roof, and it's useless as a pony pen. The poor pony would be standing in water up to her knees. But, like the alpacas, she doesn't like to go in the barn, so she stays out in the rain. 

The alpacas are the saddest, most bedraggled looking things I've ever seen. 

The white rabbit escaped and is gone. The brown rabbit is all alone, and seems miserable and lonely. I'm projecting.

No eggs in quite a while.

I hate this time of year.