"United we bargain, divided we beg."

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Goats on Parade

The goats are in the littlest pasture now (It's contrary to the worm plan, but the vet said they shouldn't be in with the ponies until Poppy is one month old. They stress her out and she'll get ulcers. Really.). There isn't enough browse in there to keep them fully fed, so I have to let them out for an hour or two every day to munch on the abundant blackberries and various weeds growing in my yard. 

The lawnmower has been broken since approximately April so the grass is all over waist high. I'm thinking maybe I can get my neighbor to come and hay it. That lawnmower is the worst piece of junk in the world. It's a Murray; I recommend that you buy anything else. My poor husband spends about one tenth of all his free time fixing the lawnmower. I want to get a new one (some other brand, duh) but Homero keeps saying "we've replaced almost every single part. It's all new inside! It'll work now." Ten minutes later....  In the meantime, the goats are enjoying.

Of course I can't just let the goats out and go inside the house. I need to follow them around with a long stick to beat them off the fruit trees, away from the garden, and off the road. It sounds simple but when you have eight goats it really isn't. I have to run back and forth, yelling and waving my stick or throwing rocks, and even so, they have eaten half the garden and killed three fruit trees between this year and last. They are faster and more nimble than I am, by an embarrassingly large margin. 

Still, I like being out with the goats. In fact, I love it. It makes me happy to see all my animals - children included - enjoying themselves and being natural out in the world. 

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Better Luck This Time, Chicks!

I didn't blog about this, because it made me so sad. Remember all the little bantam chicks that I bought at the feed store and slipped under the hen whose eggs didn't hatch? Well they all died. Every last one of them. One at a time. It was terrible. The first one that died, something bizarre and inexplicable happened to it: it somehow got stuck to it's mother's chest and she squished it. It was actually hanging from her body for a whole day before I found it. Where's the missing chick? Ewwwww, there it is. It was really stuck, too. I had to tug hard to get it off, but I couldn't figure out what made it stick there. Anyway. 

One more got stuck in the chicken wire of the coop and died of cold at night. The others just disappeared, one by one. Hawks? A rat, skunk, weasel, raccoon, possum? My own cat? Any of these things are possible. I kind of soured on chicks after that, but these darn broody hens are terrifically persistent. They absolutely insist on brooding. Yesterday, three chicks hatched.

There's one that I think isn't going to make it. It's much smaller than the others and not as fast. Okay, I admit it. I helped it out of the egg after it looked like it wasn't going to be able to do it by itself. I know. I know. Just prolonging the inevitable. But it was PEEPING. 

The other two look great. This time, I'm going to keep them in the mama barn as long as I can, until they are quite a bit bigger than the last batch. About half-hen sized, say. I hope they make it. My kids are getting pretty inured to farm animal death. "Oh," they said, looking at the littlest chick. "I think that one's half dead already." 

On a cheerier note, here's my haul this week from veggie man, my newest trade network contact. He's the guy with the commercial organic farm. What you see above is five pounds of snap peas, three bunches of the biggest radishes you ever saw, and about a pound of various baby lettuces and greens. That's $20 worth of produce, in exchange for 8 dozen eggs. Normally I sell the eggs for $3/dozen, but we decided it would be easier to make it ten bucks a week even. He's very generous with the produce. 

I'm planning to pickle a few pints of peas and just eat the rest like candy. My girls go nuts for them. Once the kale fairy starts bringing me veggies too, we'll be rolling in them. We'll eat so much chlorophyll, our eyes will turn green.

Friday, May 29, 2009

My Trees

There aren't enough trees on this property. Not by a longshot. We are up on the top of a very windy ridge - and I mean VERY windy. It isn't unusual in the fall and winter to have sustained fifty mile an hour winds, and gusts of seventy. There are only a few large trees, and there certainly isn't anything like a stand of trees that could serve as a windbreak. I intend to plant one, most likely a row of poplars along the southern property line. The strongest winds come from the north, but those only blow a few times a year. The rest of the time the wind comes from the southwest. Besides, I can't plant a windbreak along the northern property line without destroying my best-in-the-county view. 

Of course, I've planted my little orchard. Originally, there were twelve trees. But the goats have killed three, and then I ran over the little cherry with the mower. I'm down to eight. I will replace the dead ones, next year. Eventually it will be a nice little orchard, but for now, it's simply a few straggly little trees that barely peek over the shoulder-high grass. 

I also want to plant a big giant weeping willow. Well, a little one that will someday be giant. I adore weeping willows, and there's a low boggy spot in the back pasture where I think one would thrive. If I can keep the goats away from it long enough. And we will most likely plant one native evergreen per year: our christmas trees.

   The pink dogwood in full bloom. The lady who built this house told me her children gave it to her for mother's day about twenty-five years ago. 
The antique pear. I don't know what kind of pears it gives, but maybe Bartlett. They are large, classically pear shaped, yellow with a red blush, and very smooth and delicious. 

Whoops, don't know what happened here. This is the biggest tree on the property. It's enormous, it towers over the house. It's a "golden cedar" according to the last owner. Bats live in it in the summertime.

Does anyone know what this tree is? It's pretty big, too. The leaves are small, ridged, spade shaped and dark red. Copper beech? This tree does the most amazing thing on sunny days in the late winter. It sings. After a hard frost on a wet night, it is lightly encased in ice all over. If the day is sunny, then at around eleven o'clock in the morning, all the ice begins to shatter. It makes the most amazing sound, like tiny wind chimes. The tree shivers and the ice just pops off of the twigs and showers to the ground. I heard the noise first and it took me several minutes to figure out where it was coming from and what was happening. I went and stood under the tree and listened as the ice came showering down on me. It was like a singing rainstorm! I would love this tree just for that alone, but it's also a very beautiful tree in all seasons. In fall, the leaves turn russet brown and stay very crisp and crunchy. Just the right kind for kicking and jumping in. It's a late-leafer in the spring, but when the leaves do begin to come out, they come out in the form of very light green needles, long and sharp. Then they unfurl and they are this bright red color! 

I didn't even know how much I liked this tree until I began to write about it.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Chevre Chevere!

If I ever go into commercial cheese production (not very likely), the title of this post will be my business name. Chevre, of course, is soft goat cheese, and Chevere is a Mexican slang term that means "cool" or "awesome." Plus, you can sing it to the tune of "chim chim cheree" from Mary Poppins... "chevre chevere, chevre chevere, chevre che-ver-e..." Built in jingle. 

The chevre I made today is by far the best I've ever made. Finally, I achieved the elusive ultra-smooth texture that commercial chevre has but which I haven't been able to duplicate until now. It was an accident, as many culinary achievements are. I put milk to set last night around 8 pm, cultured and renneted. I left it in the oven with the pilot light on until I went to bed at about 11. Then I turned the light off because I'm too OCD to go to sleep with a single light on anywhere in the house (don't ask.).  I meant to take it out and cut the curd in the morning before taking the kids to school, but I forgot.  It was 3 in the afternoon before I managed to get back into the kitchen and finish the cheese. I was worried it would be ruined.

Instead, I think I have discovered - subject to replication of the results, of course - that a longer setting time at a lower temperature produces a smoother curd than a shorter setting time at a higher temperature. 

Next up: feta. Then mozzerella. Then the holy grail: cheddar.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Pretty Sure Poppy's Okay

I spoke to the vet this morning, and asked him how I could differentiate between a normal, self-limiting bout of foal-heat diarrhea and something more serious. He told me that the foal's attitude will be the most important, easiest to tell thing to watch. Is she bright and active, or kind of down? Appetite? Is she nursing frequently and vigorously? Palpate the mare's udder to see if it's soft or turgid. And check her temperature (normal is up to 101). 

Poppy's running around like a wild thing, jumping and kicking, rolling, and charging around like she's on a racetrack. She's nursing every ten minutes or so, a little bit at a time. She looks like the picture of health, except for the diarrhea plastered to her croup. I haven't taken her temperature, but I will this evening when I put them both in the barn. If it's normal, I'm not going to worry anymore. At least until I see if it clears up in a couple more days.

P.S. horse people: I was told to check if the mare's in heat. When I asked how to do that, I was told, "go behind her and take a look at her rear end. If she 'winks' at you, she's in heat." Sorry to be dense, but can anyone be a little more explicit? Unless a horse can do things with her vulva that a human can't do without years of training in a south-east asian brothel, I have no idea what "winking" is.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Poppy Pony Has a Problem

Today, Poppy suddenly developed diarrhea. Pretty gross. I washed her (an experience I don't care to repeat) and then I ran to the web and started searching. Which freaked me out. According to my research, it's extremely common for foals this age to develop something called foal-heat diarrhea, so called because it's onset is at the time of the mother mare's first heat cycle after giving birth. If this is what it is, it's self-limiting and no big deal.

If that isn't what it is, it could be any of a number of other things, many of which are rapidly fatal. 
By the time the foal starts to look sick, it's often too late.

I'm calling the vet ASAP in the morning. I'd be totally devastated if something happened to Poppy. We are all head over heels in love with her.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Worm Plan

Okay, this post is just for my own reference, y'all, it's probably not going to be very interesting to anyone else.

Today: worm with Panacur (everybody but Clove) and day one Corrid. CDT shots for everybody. Hoof trim, everybody.
(holy cow, this is going to be a long day)

Corrid through 5/27, everybody but Clove

5/26 a.m., move goats to large field (hereinafter field #1). Stay on large field 4 weeks.
6/26 move goats to small field (hereinafter field #2)
7/26 move goats to field shelter field (hereinafter field #3).... repeat.

New fecals end of June if no new Sx. 

repeat fecals every 4 months if no Sx.

First Cheese of the Year

Well, I'm not going to count the first batch, which didn't turn out at all because I thought I remembered enough from last year and didn't need to look up the recipe for chevre again. Turns out, I did.

This batch came out great. I pressed it during the final draining session, hoping it would be a little firmer and crumblier than chevre, more like queso fresco. And so it is. It's a nice big batch, too, at least a pound of cheese, from about 3/4 gallon of milk. This is one thing I haven't figured out yet: why does the same amount of milk sometimes yield more and sometimes less cheese? I think it has to do with the firmness of the curd. A firmer curd binds more casein and the whey is as clear as water. A softer curd lets more milk protein go down the drain in the form of cloudy whey. And the firmness of the curd depends on many factors, from the exact amount of rennet used (a single drop can make a big difference) to the exact temperature the cheese is held at (a single degree can make a big difference). 

In any case, I'm happy with my cheese. In fact, I think I'll make quesadillas for breakfast this morning, along with scrambled eggs.

There are ten dozen eggs in the fridge.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Ten Dollar Food Challenge

NPR recently did a series in which they asked chefs to create a family meal for four for under $10 total. There were a number of interesting creations, and the series is well worth listening to: even more enlightening is reading the submissions from readers at the web site. There are literally hundreds of recipes. Some, of course, are either facetious (boxed mac'n'cheese) or just plain terrible, but there were a very large number of delicious sounding ideas.

It occurrede to me that as a budget-concious housewife, many of the meals that are part of my weekly rotation are probably cheap enough to qualify. I did a little bit of quick in-my-head estimating, and came up with several. Of course, most of thrift is foresightedness: do you have frozen homemade chicken stock in your freezer? I do. Leftover cooked white rice or plain pasta? Yup. Cooking in bulk - when appropriate - is a great way to save money as well as time.

Here are a couple of my favorite cheap recipes:

Mexican Risotto

Risotto always feels luxurious, but it is actually cheaper than dirt to make, unless you are using fresh morels or something like that (oh ho! But I trade for my morels!).

1.5 c arborio rice
1 big yellow onion
2 fresh pobalno peppers
a little bit of white wine, if you have an open bottle
olive oil
cumin seed
chicken stock

chop and sautee the onion and poblano peppers with the garlic and cumin seed. Add rice, stir with a wooden spoon to coat. When rice grains begin to turn transluscent, add wine (if using) or a little bit of hot stock. Keep adding stock in 1/2 cup increments, stirring frquently, until rice is creamy and just barely al dente. Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste. Serve with heated corn tortillas and a little bit of crumbled queso gfresco on top. If you wanted to be fancier and more authentic, roast and peel the peppers, slice into strips (rajas) and add them at the end.

Summer Tabouli

this is cheapest in the summer, of course. It might not come in under ten dollars if you don't have a vegetable garden, but it would still be cheap.

1.5 cup fine bulgar
olive oil
lemon juice (1 large or 2 small lemons)
green onions
(the more herbs the better)
1 cucumber
1 or 2 tomatoes
(note: really, you can use whatever herbs and vegetables you have. Got a beet? grate it fine. Ditto a carrot. No green onions? Okay, use a finely chopped white or red one. The only must haves are parsley and mint.)
some kind of cheese - feta is best
some kind of olives - kalamatas are my favorite
1 can garbanzo beans

In a very large bowl, pour boiling water over the bulgar. Let sit while you finely chop all your vegetables and herbs. If this takes you twenty minutes, your bulgar will be soft and ready. To the bulgar, add at least two tablespoons of olive oil and the lemon juice. Then the drained and rinsed can of garbanzos. Then the olives. Make sure the tabouli is cool before adding the crumbled cheese and the herbs and veggies. Taste before salting: cheese and olives are salty. Add fresh ground pepper to taste. Other good things to add: chopped pepperocinis or jalapenos; basil; capers; baby spinach

Oh and here's an easy recipe: use the same salad ingrediants but use toasted bread cubes as the base starch: presto, bread salad. Good way to use up your old stale bread. For bread salad I like to use a lot of tomato and maybe some anchovies.

Quick and Dirty Chilaquiles

corn tortillas are one of the best, cheapest staples around. A giant bag of fifty costs about three bucks. Just make sure they are fresh. But here's what to do with them when they get stale.

On a cookie sheet, place twelve to twenty corn tortillas -separated- and bake until dry and not very flexible. Turning them once helps. Then break them into pieces and place them in a large baking dish, like a lasagna pan. Set aside.

Drain and rinse a can of black beans. scatter them over the tortillas.
also scatter one chopped yellow onion.

In a blender, blend 1 large can of tomatoes with a small can of pickled jalapenos. Or a half a can.

Pour this sauce over the tortillas and let soak in for about ten minutes. Top with sliced mozzerella or jack cheese and bake until cheese is bubbly. Yum.

I could easily come up with another three or four super cheap recipes - even before I get to soup!

How about you all? What do you feed your families when the cupboard is bare?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hello, Poppy!

The baby pony has a name. Poppy. Here's your daily dose of cute:

Production Going Up

Since we killed the egg-eating hen, I've been collecting about sixteen eggs a day. The trade network is not capable of absorbing this many eggs. Berry man is all out of berries, until the new crop that is, and so he has stopped getting eggs. Bread man stopped a while ago (darn it - he really is a fantastic baker). I still have a couple of regular cash customers, but they collectively take only about four dozen eggs a week. 

Luckily, eggs keep well. I'm sure that more customers and trade opportunities will pop up. Just yesterday, I was talking to a guy about trading my eggs and possibly meat for his wildcrafted morels. Hope that pans out. 

I've also started milking. Just a little. Xana is still a complete butt, and will not jump up on the stand. And since she's a first freshener and feeding twins, she doesn't have a lot of milk left over. It's kind of hardly worth it, wrestling her hairy ass up on the stanchion for a scant cup of milk. But I have to do it, just as training for her. Sooner or later her twins will be weaned and then I will want all her milk. 

 Iris, on the other hand, is giving me a generous quart a day, and this is less than two weeks after her baby was born! Most people wouldn't even start milking so soon, but Iris has a serious case of overproduction. Her baby can't begin to drain her abundant udder. If I left her alone, she'd naturally downregulate to suit his needs. But I don't want to let her do that: I want to keep her in fairly high gear so I can get to making cheese!

My garden is producing too: weeds. I gave up. I have nice beds of weeds. If  search diligently, I can find enough baby spinach and radishes among the weeds to make a decent salad. That's just going to have to do. I don't have time. Except for tomatoes! Bibi helped me plant fifteen tomato plants, and I WILL weed the tomatoes. Swear. 

Most of my vegetables this summer will be coming from the kale fairy, just like last year. She's the nice lady who traded me for eggs all last summer, and this summer is trading for a kid (of the caprine variety, not the human variety). I call her the kale fairy because last year she showered us with more kale than I've eaten in my entire life before - not that I'm complaining. I adore kale. My husband - well. Let's just say he's not quite such a fan of kale as I am. This year she promised us she would plant a little less kale and a little more other stuff. 

As a matter of fact, if I remember right, she said she'd have our first delivery ready in the last part of May. Maybe I should get in touch. I'm about ready for some kale.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Circle of Blogs

"Recommended site: The Survivalist Blog - Live better, live Cheaper and survive when things get tough." This is a cool site to cruise for anyone interested in doing more for themselves.

I discover new blogs mostly because somebody has decided to follow my blog. Whenever I notice that I have a new follower - something that hasn't happened in a while... am I getting boring? - I always check out that person's profile and if they have a blog, I go over and take a look. Then I look at the list of blogs they follow... etc. I have found a number of interesting sites this way. They tend to fall into four categories: Cooking blogs, farming blogs, fiber blogs, and survivalist blogs.

I'm not sure how I got into the circle of survivalist blogs. I guess because of tags on my posts saying "self-sufficiency," by which I mean things like canning your own produce, not building your own bunker. It's funny to see how the two ends of the political spectrum meet up in this area. Crunchy hippies brewing their own biodiesel and their own beer are suddenly kissing cousins to NRA members and rock-ribbed right wingers worried about zombies. 

It's no secret which end of the spectrum I'm on, yet I find myself turning to these blogs for information on what kind of handgun I should get for dispatching pigs and goats (don't worry, I don't own a gun, yet). The ideology that drives us may be very different, but the skills we learn and the actions we ultimately take are strikingly similar. I hope that internet exchanges between survivalist/homesteader blogs may lead to greater understanding and tolerance, at least in individual cases.

I know I've had my mind opened a little bit reading the blogs of people I might not have sought out as friends. The political divide should not hamper our learning from each other and enjoying each other's journals of our activities in pursuit of happiness and independence. Hooray for the internet! And thank you to all the survivalists out there who are putting out terrific information.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

I Got a Pony, Neener Neener Neener

This morning when I went out to feed the animals, I noticed that Rosie Pony wasn't in the barn. So I went looking for her out in the pasture. I saw her lying down by the fence, and I thought "Oh my God, she's having the baby right now!"

But actually she had already had the baby. It was lying down right behind her. My guess is that she had been born a while ago, in the middle of the night, because when she hopped right up and started nursing, it didn't look like she was figuring it out for the first time. 

She's a filly, yes, and a good sized one, too. Chestnut with a wide white blaze. 

I moved all the goats out of the big pasture and into the little one with the alpacas. I put fresh dry straw down in the barn and with the help of the farrier, who came over the take a look, I got them both into the barn where it's warmer and dryer. It's a cold wet day here. Mama is very skittish and fiercely protective of her baby, but that's as it should be. The farrier told me to make sure I get out there and put my hands all over that baby several times a day so that Rosie learns that I'm not going to hurt her.

Okay. You don't have to twist my arm. You might as well tell a little girl to make sure and eat as much cotton candy as she can. I could barely tear myself away long enough to come in an post this.

Yay. I'm so happy.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Yay Flopsy!!

Flopsy was bred just a week after Iris, to the same buck. But for months, I wasn't sure if she was pregnant. Is she or isn't she? Her belly, like that of all goats, would expand and contract according to what she was eating. Sometimes she looked gigantic, other times pretty normal. It didn't help that she's a fat little thing. Even her udder wasn't much help. Was it getting a little thicker? Maybe, but there was certainly nothing you could call a bag.

Well bag or no, it's got milk in it, and mammals don't make milk unless they are pregnant. So there. More babies on the way! Hooray!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Two Down, Two to Go


After two whole days of my staring at her butt (not quite nonstop- my husband drew the line when I said I might sleep out in the barn), Iris decided I wasn't going to go away until she had a baby. 

She took her time about it, and she only gave me one, but he's a big one. Here it is, in glorious technicolor: Birth..... of a Buckling!

                                               Sex Education, Farm Style

         Feet. As soon as I saw these hooves coming, I knew we had a big boy on the way.

         Not even all the way out, and already bleating and trying to get up.

                                                 Up and at 'em! 

As happy as I am that Iris finally gave birth, I have to admit to a little disappointment. I never thought Iris would throw a single, after giving me twins as a first freshener last year. And it's a boy, which we can't keep, and he's a boring old solid brown with no markings at all. Oh well. I should just thank providence that we have a healthy mama and a healthy baby. A singleton means more milk for me! And this little guy is a fighter. He was trying to stand up while his hind legs were still inside his mama. And big, too. Big healthy boy from excellent lines. Maybe we can sell him as an intact buck. In the meantime, we'll just enjoy another baby goat around the place.

Now there's just Flopsy left to go, and Rosie Pony of course! 

Sunday, May 10, 2009

No Freakin' babies!

Where are the freakin' babies?????

Friday, May 8, 2009

Thinking Out Loud

Iris and Flopsy, the two goats who were sick, are much better now. I think the terrible diarrhea was caused by the Ivermectin - a wormer - that I gave them. They had both had moderate diarrhea for a week or so, and when I brought fecals in to the vet, they showed a "moderate" load of stomach worms. I asked if I should just wait until they had kidded, but the vet suggested I go ahead and worm them. I wormed the whole herd. My guess is that the medication caused the expulsion of everything in them along with the worms. I'm glad, of course, that it seems to have resolved, but I have a number of questions to answer if I want to be a better goat husbandry-man (goat husbander? not, surely, goat husband?). 

Iris and Flopsy are distinct from the rest of the herd in two ways: They are pregnant; and they are the only Nubians. Pregnancy is known to cause a lowered immune response, and that may very well be the reason that they were troubled by worms when no-one else was. Then again, Nubians have the reputation of being rather delicate compared to other breeds. They are an African breed, adapted to a much drier and warmer climate than exists here in western Washington. I guess the only way to distinguish between these two factors is to wait until they aren't pregnant anymore and see if they are still particularly susceptible to parasites. If so, I may switch to another breed, even though I adore the Nubians. Hardiness matters more to me that adorability. Plus, I like LaMancha milk more than I like Nubian milk.

Questions about individual goats aside, worms are going to be an ongoing problem. They are in almost every goat herd in this area. I was lucky; I started out with clean land that had never been used by ruminants before. And I started out with healthy goats. But apparently, no goat is ever completely worm free. A year and a half later, I have enough worms that they will continue to be a problem unless I adopt some very stringent management techniques. 

You can't simply nuke the worms with medication. You'll kill your goats before you kill all the worms. The idea is to have supremely healthy animals, animals who can tolerate a small number of parasites without becoming symptomatic. And, of course, to avoid a "parasite-crisis" in which the worm-load becomes high enough to sicken even your healthiest goats. That means:

1) rotational grazing. This is probably the most important component. The life cycle of the most common and problematic worms is 3 weeks. Therefore, when you worm the goats, switch pastures about 48 hours later. They will expel all the worms on the first pasture, and then go graze on a clean pasture. As long as you keep them off the wormy pasture for more than 3 weeks, the worms will die before they can be ingested again. Also, be mindful of the "parasite zone." According to my reading, larvae can climb up a grass stem to a height of approximately 4 inches. When the grass has been cropped to below four inches, it's time to rotate pastures. Of course, goats prefer browse to grass anyway, and if you have woody browse and bushes and blackberries and such for them to eat, they will largely ignore the grass. Most books say you need a minimum of three pastures to rotate through, and four is better. I have three.

2) a sensible worming program that avoids - as much as possible - resistance. In some areas, worms have already become very resistant to most wormers. That's not the case where I am, thankfully. I have three classes of wormers to choose from, and so far I have used only one of them. If I use it according to my vet's guidelines, I hope it will remain effective for many years. If not, well, there's always the other two classes. 

3) Good husbandry (there it is again) that promotes and maintains your animal's health. That means good barn hygiene (replacing soiled bedding promptly, feeding from mangers off the ground, adequate ventilation, etc), adequate nutrition year round, vigilant hoof care to avoid foot rot, and prompt attention to any health issues that crop up. Also, no stressing the animals through overcrowding or overbreeding. 

Sheesh. And that's just off the top of my head. 

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Flying Fleece

Man am I filthy. I mean truly, utterly, disgustingly grimy. 

Here's what I've done today to get this way: cleaned out two barns, all the way, because two of my goats have terrible diarrhea. I pitched the hay, scraped the floors, rinsed the floors, and sprayed everything with bleach water. Then I dosed the sick goats with kaopectate, a procedure that involved a certain amount of wrestling. Wrestling goats with explosive diarrhea. One of the sick goats is Iris, who is now two days overdue to give birth. I really hope she holds off another few days until this tummy thing resolves. Birth is gross enough without adding pints of liquid poo into the mix.

Then the guy came to shear the alpacas. I didn't have time to shower and change, I just jumped right in to catching and holding down the terrified alpacas while they were sheared. They bellowed and sprayed half digested grass from their mouths and kicked up dirt and sand and poo. The wind was blowing pretty hard. I have little fleece bits in my hair, eyes, clothes. And other stuff, no doubt.

It was pretty fun, though (alpaca wrassling, not goat wrestling.). Finally, we could pet them to our heart's content, while they were in four point restraint. The fleeces are gorgeous, heavy and velvety and beautiful. Now Rowan has got three months to process and sell enough fleece to convince me that the alpacas are worth their keep. Today's work cost us $115.  

But the pictures alone are worth that. Now that I've published them, I'm going to take a shower. A long shower.

                                                 Miguel resists arrest
                                                             Not so feisty now, are you?

                                            The Girls get to pet Benji

Who the hell are you?

                                                        Under the fluff

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Thumb Twiddling

Waiting, waiting. Ho Hum, waiting some more. 

Iris is as big as a house, and so uncomfortable, but no sign of true labor yet. 
The pony, Rosie, is showing signs of getting close. Her udder has filled out, and the teats have gone from shriveled and wrinkled to smooth and plump. The brochure I got from the vet said that happened in the last three days, but in Rosie's case it's already been more than a week. I don't think anyone can predict animal labor, just like human labor. It starts when it starts, and until it starts, there's no telling.
Waiting. I hate waiting.