Sunday, November 7, 2010
Monday, November 1, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Monday evening I arrived home after a HECK-ISH day at work around 6:00. It was already getting dark, and Rick had already had his dinner, so I decided to feed my stock before eating my meal. I turned on the big yard light, and the lights came on inside the barn.
I have seven does and three kids and one wether in this barn. (Yes, I know, I can count too, and that equals eleven. I’ll get to that.) I had put a can full of grain into a bucket up by the hay barn, so the three kids could “help” me feed. I let them out of their barn and they will follow me around until they get to the bucket, then all three are wrestling each other for the grain. This usually keeps them busy for a few minutes, but this Monday HAD to be different. I was tired and cranky, my head hurt, and I was hungry so I had very little patience.
Mistake one --I tried to carry two flakes of hay at once. When I pushed open the door to the barn, Whimsy dove under my second flake of hay and escaped. Crap. OK, it’s just Whimsy, I thought, she is easy to catch. So I entered the barn, dumping my armloads of hay into the feeders.
Mistake two—never trust a sneaky kid. Those three kids have learned how to push open the barn door from the outside to follow me into the barn. MONDAY, the littlest kid, Angel, ran up and pushed open the barn door and held it open for the other goats to escape.
Mistake three—I left the sneaky kid out, while I attempted to force the does back into the barn. Every time I would catch and drag two does into the barn, SNEAKY (I am changing her name) would open the door again and let them out. I really think she thought it was funny! By the time I caught on I was tired and cranky, my head hurt, and I was hungry so I had very little patience AND exhausted—BUT I was laughing so hard that they were all gathered around me looking at me like “SEE don’t you feel better?”
That is when I looked around and saw that Cooper, the yearling wether, was the ONLY good goat in the herd. There he was calmly munching on his hay, oblivious to the antics happening just outside the barn. I started laughing again! When I came to my senses, I propped the barn door open, walked in with the cookie jar and politely fed Cooper cookies until EVERYONE was inside the barn begging for a cookie :)
"HA! I am smarter than TEN goats!"
Thursday, October 7, 2010
I am buck poor. How many bucks make you “buck poor”, you ask? Four, which are three too many.
My favorite by far, Fiddler is the father of all kids born on this farm and is such a sweet and happy little guy. He is so lovable, he likes to snuggle. He never complains, he has a soft voice, no HORNS, but his three sons are quite a different story.
Nutty is the “singer” of the group. His love songs can be heard to Calaveras County. “WAAAAA, waaaaa, waaaa, WWWWWAAAAAA, waaa!!!!! He is quite melodious and has looooong curvy horns! He has never poked me on purpose, but he sometimes forgets that his horns stick out like RV mirrors.
Chocolate Brownie is quite a hunk—he thinks. His long, silky brown coat has touches of red in it. Brownie was a bottle fed baby, so he is gentle and friendly. BIG horns.
FiddleSong Cowboy is Brownie’s full brother. He is mostly black with a brown saddle. He looks like Mariposa, his maternal grandmother, who is an award winning member of the Rosasharn herd. Cowboy is very sweet, and when he was small he would stand up on his hind legs and wiggle his lips for me to give him a kiss. I don’t let him do that anymore, he pees on his own face. BIG horns. He is a nice looking little guy.
About HORNS-We don't want them, we don't like them. The goats learn quickly to use them to get their way. But there is a learning curve to disbudding. We are learning, but have not done it right yet. On the positive side, we have mountain lions in our woods, and coyotes. So good luck trying to make a meal of one of these tough little guys! The horns also make convenient handles :)
ALL of these bucks want to be THE HERD SIRE. They don’t care what kinds of does they are. They love to eat brush, but enjoy alfalfa and a handful of “incentive” goat chow in the morning.(Incentive~moves them where I want them to be without the application of the herding broom to their respective butts.) They don’t mind having their hooves trimmed, or being wormed, or even getting their shots. They would make good weedeaters, too.
Need a buck?
Saturday, September 18, 2010
|Hay Barn with Chicken Annex|
|View from inside Chicken annex|
Thursday, September 16, 2010
So how do I find balance in this chaos? How do I find time to prune the roses, say nothing about smelling them? I have learned to love my routine. I enjoy relaxing while holding formula bottles for two hungry kids. Their hungry cries of greeting “MAAAA!” make me smile instead of aggravating me. Goats are sociable creatures, not too demanding, and will tolerate some deviation from their routine. When I am busy at work, I can’t think about the farm. As soon as I am in my truck, I stop thinking about work, it’s all about the farm then. When I am rounding up those crazy chickens for the night, it is certainly comical, and I laugh while chasing down Houdini the Rooster. He is the Rooster. In his chicken mind, he should wait until all the hens have returned to their hen house before he enters. However, he is not able to count, so he doesn’t know that the last barred rock has already entered, or that Red Hen was the first to arrive. So when I have counted beaks, it is TIME for him to come in. He requires persuading. I think he enjoys the ritual as much as I do. He is a sweet rooster, and never gives me any trouble, never flogs me or acts aggressively in any way. He has three inch spurs.
"Don't make me get the broom..."
Friday, September 10, 2010
Milking a doe can be a huge commitment of time and energy. I have been letting Zipporah nurse her doeling, since I am spending quite a bit of time feeding her other two kids for her, but it is time to begin weaning them. I am going to start weaning Friday, and will be milking Zipporah. But Whimsy’s story is a little different.
Whimsy delivered her two kids in spring of 2009. Her daughter, Peanut, is 18 months old now. Normally a doe will wean her own kids naturally and dry off. Not Whimsy, she has to be unique. Special, you might say. An overachiever. Peanut is TWICE her size and extremely chubby, because Whimsy is still feeding her. I did not realize she was still carrying milk until I noticed that Peanut seemed to be on the OBESE side. Whimsy seemed too scrawny to me, and just didn’t look very healthy. Whimsy has always been on the thin side and tends to have chronic skin problems. She also has a pretty thick coat, which hides some problems. A few weeks ago, while I had her on the milk stand trimming her little hooves, I gave her a good examination. “What is this”, I say to her, “Whimsy, you still have milk?” AH HA! Then the obese daughter makes TOTAL sense. I treated her skin with some of my herbal eucalyptus oil, and it worked like a charm. I separated Whimsy from her daughter and started milking her, to try to dry her off. Whimsy HATES being milked. She detests it. It is inappropriate touching, and she KICKS! I have a sign on my office wall that says “I am more patient than a goat is stubborn.” I have to be to milk this little tiger. I thought, "OK, the more I milk her, the more she will get used to it, the less she will kick, struggle, try to climb out of her milk stand, put her foot in the milk bucket"….NO. I can’t get her to accept milking. I have other does that do not object to milking, and I KNOW I am gentle, not hurting her.
“I am more patient than a goat is stubborn.”
Monday, May 31, 2010
The first one is a sweet doeling who looks just like Mama~
Monday, May 17, 2010
- I divide some by digging up a large one and "dividing" it into smaller plants. This works best with daylilies, rudbeckia and lambs ears.
- I start some new plants with tip cuttings. I take tip cuttings of the lavenders, cat mint, and wallflowers.
- Still others such as rudebeckia, sage, and echinacea give generous amounts of seedlings, which I am happy to dig up and rearrange with excellent success.
The problem with multiplying plants, is that as they soon fill out and become ready to plant, then you have to decide where to plant them.
Time to build more beds!
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Sunday, May 2, 2010
A little while later I watched as a robin flew into the window, knocking herself silly. She seemed OK, but she was staggering a little. I watched her for about an hour while working in my garden. She walked around the whole area, avoiding me, but not too worried. She must have had one whopper of a headache. Finally, she just hung her little head and seemed to give up. I walked over and caught her in my hands. She seemed to be intact and started to squawk and struggle. Soon she relaxed a little, I opened my hands and she FLEW up over the fence and into the top of the tallest pine! (Nothing like a little adrenaline rush to get your feathers ruffled!)
On Saturday, Rachel brought our granddaughters Madison, Allison, and Taylor up for a visit. We met at the fairgrounds to see the local goat show, then drove up and had lunch at FiddleSong Farm. We always enjoy their visits so much, their antics keep us smiling for days. The weather was especially nice this weekend, so we all spent quite a bit of time visiting in the garden while Madison and Allison dug for worms :) They are SO easy to entertain. Little Taylor helped Grandma find the eggs in the chicken coop, and carried the heavy bucket around until her bucket muscles were sore. (I now see that we need some chairs out there, so I will work on that.) We had sandwiches and fruit for lunch. It was Rachel's birthday last Wednesday, so we had an excuse for cake! I hope Rachel stripped those girls before letting them into her house, they all carried a little "farm" home on their clothes...
It was the best weekend that I can remember, but finished all too soon....
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Have you ever seen a sun shower? It is what I call that special, clear moment when there is a break in the clouds and the sun comes streaming through, (Shaun calls it a Sucker Hole:) but there is still rain falling. So if you are standing in just the right place it looks like it is raining drops of sunlight. The fresh scent of the woods when it rains is something I would love to capture in paint.
The robins come out this time of evening. They sing cheerful tunes. They love a big storm because the earthworms are crawling their slimy lengths out of the saturated soil moving to hopefully drier high ground. "A feast! A feeeeeast!," they sing.
Dearest Mother, I am so grateful for these gifts of Nature.
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Last Saturday, Madison came to spend the night at the farm. On our way, we saw two of these amazing creatures! They were tall like Madi, but they weren't ostriches. They were definitely birds, but weren't turkeys or peacocks. When we got to the farm we asked Grandpa what he thought they were, he said they sounded like Emus. We looked them up on the computer and sure enough, they were Emus! We had a GREAT weekend!
Happy Wednesday friends, are you feeling well today? I am! I have been working in my veggie garden for the last couple of weeks. WOW! That is great exercise! I have planted several things that grow best in cooler weather, and am planning and preparing for the big Spring rush. Thinking about planting a garden for the first time? Here are some FAQ for rookies:
Why should I grow vegetables when I can buy them at Safeway? HELLO! Economy, freshness, flavor, FUN! In many cases those “fresh” grocery store veggies are shipped in from all over the world. They cost fuel and pollution to get here. They are rated by their color, shininess, and keeping qualities rather than flavor. You want to eat the good stuff! AND it is better for the world. It is also a GREAT activity for children. Just ask my oldest Granddaughter Madison :)
How do I start? First you need a space with long hours of sun. You may plant right in the soil, or raised beds or even in large containers. You need access to water. Start small! Protect your veggie plot from critters. (My biggest challenge is keeping the hens from using my garden as an all-you-can-eat buffet.) As your interest grows, so can your garden.
How do I know what to plant? Make a list of the veggies you regularly buy. Do they include lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli, radishes, squash, carrots, potatoes? You can grow all of those and more in your garden. Some things are best started from plants-- like tomatoes, peppers, eggplants. (It is a little too early to plant these favorites yet…) Squash, radishes beets, and carrots all do best from seed. Right now, you can also find seed potatoes in the nurseries (I planted mine last night after work….)
Won’t I get bugs? Sure! That’s part of the fun. But you won’t catch me recommending adding chemicals to your garden to get rid of a few bugs. There are too many other creative ways to control them that are healthier.
What about my soil? You can buy a few sacks of organic planting mix or compost to mix in with your soil. (Rule of thumb-one 2 cubic foot bag will cover about 12 square feet of soil at about four inches deep. Mix it in.) If you prefer to plant in pots, stick to a potting soil, it will hold more moisture.
How much do I water? The simple answer is “enough.” Ideally, your plants should not be allowed to go completely dry before you give them a good soaking. Don’t keep them soggy, they rot.
Where can I learn more? The local master nurserymen are a GREAT source of information for gardeners of all levels. They even offer free classes to the public. There is a great selection of garden books out there, but my favorite is called “Square Foot Gardening,” and the local nurseries and garden centers are also very helpful….And check out my website at http://www.thenaturalartist.com/garden2.html to see where my FAVORITE compost originates.
It has taken several years to develop my garden and there is plenty more work to do, but when you love a thing, it is more like play :) My soul is sunshine in the garden!
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Rick worked for several weekends on this project. It turned out fantastic! We needed a more secure place for Lucy to reside, a dog-free place of her own and a place where she could not "snout" the front door at four a.m! This is where she lives now, in this comfortable 4' x 4" house, complete with heat, insulation, carpeting and even a light fixture (for those late nights reading, I suppose) a covered deck, and her own fenced yard (NO dogs allowed!) This pampered Piggy has hit the Mother Lode.
It has been rainy and cool here, but no snow for awhile. The hills are a lush, veridian green, and the deer and wild turkeys are abundant. Although we have gotten quite a bit of rain, "Pig Squeak Creek" remains empty. I am so disappointed! It has such a happy sound when it gurgles past our back deck. There is still time for it to fill, it is only the first week in February....
If you have fruit trees, now is the time to prune them and to spray them (if you do that ;) with dormant oil or fungicides. Clean up any old leaves and debris from under the trees, they harbor overwintering pests and some harmful fungi. Then, lay down some fresh mulch of pine needles or compost, keeping it well away from the trunks.
I have trimmed back my day lilies and other perennials. I go easy on my lavender and penstemons, they don't do well here with hard pruning, so I just prune out any broken or ugly branches. The roses get a hard prune every other year, and I have to treat the cut ends with a waxy seal, because we have voracious cane borers up here! My new potted bulbs are just starting out of the soil now, and the established daffy-dils out in the yard are about six inches tall already. I am gathering goat-berry compost from the piles now, and spreading it out over the beds. The worms LOVE the stuff, and the perennials and veggies don't complain. The soil continues to improve every year. I am looking forward to my bleeding hearts blooming soon, along with my sweet violets. These are the things that lift my spirits and encourage me to nurture my garden, logging long hours on my knees with my trowel in hand. I am anxious to develop a new bed or two in the front yard, with more of the new ever-blooming hydrangeas. I have mostly shade out there and the hydrangeas thrive!
Wednesday, January 6, 2010
Sunday, I spent the afternoon hours working in the garden in a t-shirt! I raked pine needles and transplanted a couple of shrubs. I weeded and cleaned up some veggie beds, and replanted (for the fifth time) a small cabbage transplant plant that Red Hen insists on scratching out of the ground. She loves to help in the garden, often staging herself under my left elbow, watching carefully for any unearthed edibles. She LOVES the fat nightcrawlers that are plentiful during the winter and spring. They grow fairly large, and it is really comical to watch her grasp one in her beak and then BAAAAACK up until she finally drags it out of it's hole! She chuckles and clucks to me the whole time we are working, making my time in the sunshine and fresh air so much more enjoyable. It's funny that she has become so special to me. I didn't raise her, she was given to me by a friend, but I take a LOT of extra time to make sure she is comfortable and safe. She loves to be handled and pampered, and has a wonderful personality :)
I have three young roosters, on the other hand, that are freezer bound. I have promised myself that I am going to "process" them as soon as I have room in the freezer. I raised these three birds from chicks, and they were hatched by one of my own hens last spring. This is a HUGE challenge for me to take that next (logical) step and begin actually "using" my extra roosters for meat. They have had a kind, abundant and peaceful life here on the farm. I have tried to think of that being their purpose from their beginning. They have never been named, or snuggled or rescued from danger. They are "just chickens".
WOW! I think I have made a breakthrough!