Monday, May 31, 2010

Could have been a disaster

Some days it's hard to get stuff done around here.  I finally drug myself out to dig fencepost holes.  I barely started 3 holes when I got interrupted by these funny little creatures.

Everywhere I walk there's at least one of them following me around.
I had to watch out that I didn't hit one of them with my post hole digger because they wanted to check out the hole or take a dust bath in my dirt piles.   And if it wasn't the turkeys trying to help it was the goats.
I took a break to go inside and get a drink and couldn't believe what I found.  All the time I was outside the dogs were inside.  Now you all recall what happened a few days ago with Rosie and my duck.  When I walked into my kitchen this is what I found.
Yogi had gotten out of his cage and from the the trail of poop left around the house, it appeared he had taken quite a tour before ending up on this chair.  I can only imagine Rosie and Lex following him around saying, "oh, we better not dare".  I had left the door open where I put his food bowl and that's where he found an escape.  Yogi has been part of our family for 14 years, 5 years before Rosie and Lex appeared on the scene.   I'd like to think they know he's family and wouldn't hurt him.  Of course I would never leave him out alone with the dogs on purpose but I sure am glad this had a happy ending.  Whew!  My animals sure keep me on my toes.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Rest in peace, Marianne.

I buried Marianne yesterday behind the boxwoods that she liked to waddle under.  I find it strange that I could work processing chickens yesterday and then come home and cry while burying my pet duck.
Ducks have the sweetest faces and even in death Marianne looked serene. 

The other 3 ducks are still wandering around the yard.  My parents asked if I'd keep the animals separate now but I won't.  The ducks wouldn't be happy being locked up in a small pen.  I'll just have to have to keep my eye on Rosie and hope for the best.  That's part of farm life, I guess, the part I don't like.

This morning I let the ducks out of their pen and the dogs followed me over there like they always do, hoping for an egg.  The ducks came out of their pen and walked right past Rosie.  I don't  know if they're not very smart or if they've already forgotten that Rosie got their sister.  Rosie sure remembers though because when the ducks came near her she looked at me all guilty-like.  She ate her egg then came in the house.  One of them ate a chicken egg now that I don't get two duck eggs. 

A friend of mine got some Magpie ducklings this week and they're adorable.  I may have to get a few. Hopefully I'll get girls so my drakes have more than just one girl to share.  Magpies are relatives of the runner duck and walk somewhat upright also.  They're a little larger than a runner though and are dual purpose ducks (eggs and meat). 

Friday, May 28, 2010

It was too good to be true

I have good news and bad news.  I'm afraid the bad news is still making me sick and the good news might possibly be wishful thinking.

First the good news.  I walked down to the field to see if the mama deer came back to get her baby last night.  I couldn't find him anywhere but the grass and weeds are so long it's pretty hard to be sure he was really gone.  I didn't see any buzzards or flies flying around so I don't think he was dead.   I'm telling myself he's been moved and will live to see another day.

Now for the bad news.  Yesterday Rosie was very jealous while I was trying to feed the fawn.  She kept nudging my arm for attention.  I know she knew why I went to the field this morning.  I was sure she'd be happy to see I came back empty handed.  When I got back I discovered duck feathers on my front porch.  I was afraid a predator got one of my ducks.  I went out to the duck pen and saw Gilligan, Skipper and Ginger, standing there looking nervous.  Marianne was missing.  I walked back to the front porch, stood on the steps looking over the front yard to see if I could see any evidence of foul play.  I turned and went back in my front door.  There was Marianne in the middle of my hallway rug with Rosie and Lex looking down at her.  I thought she was dead.  I walked toward her and she got up and ran away, falling down my basement steps.  I picked her up and carried her back to be with her family.  Her back is raw and featherless.  I'm sure she's in pain and shock but she can still walk and flap her wings.  James held her while I sprayed an antiseptic on her so now her back is blue.  She's lying under her house.  I  hope she lives.  I'm furious with Rosie and of course she's getting the silent treatment from me.  She's walking around with her head and tail down but checks in with me every now and then to see if I'm still mad.  Usually the ducks and chickens walk right past the dogs and the dogs ignore them.  I really think Rosie was trying to get back at me. 

I'll keep you updated on Marianne. 

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Look what Rosie found

James and I were in the field garden today putting up a solar powered electric fence to keep the deer away.   We took the dogs over with us because they like to run through the field and play by the river and creek.  I heard Rosie barking her bark that says, "look what I found".  It took me awhile to find her but I followed her barking.   She has killed many groundhogs so I thought I'd find her with one.  Instead she was barking at this newborn fawn.  It still had wobbly legs and the placenta was nearby with flies all over it.  We assumed the mom must have run off when it saw the dogs coming.   After looking at it and letting it check us out we took the dogs back to the house because Rosie would have stayed there with it forever, I think.  I was just pleased she didn't kill it.  The little guy seemed to like Rosie even though she barked at it for so long.

I went back a few hours later and it was still there lying in the grass only now there were flies on it.  That bothered me.  I brought it back to the house and tried bottle feeding it goat's milk.  It wouldn't take the bottle.  I took it back to where I found it figuring it might still have a chance that its mom would come back for it.  I called the Wildlife Center of VA and they told me that mother deer leave their babies all day and come back for them at dusk.  They will move the baby to a different location that night.  If the baby is still there in the morning then he has been abandoned and I'm to call them and they'll come get him.  I hope we didn't ruin his chances for him and his mom.  If it wasn't for the flies on him I would have left him alone.  His back legs are crooked but that could be because he was so new or because Rosie hurt him.  He didn't act hurt though, just wobbly.  I hope he survives and then stays out of our gardens.

These pictures are why I try to remember to take a camera with me more often.  Actually I thought we'd take pictures of us putting up the fence.   I forgot to take pictures of that.   There's a video clip of him wobbling around and checking us out below these pictures.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Egg hunt

The ducks have decided they no longer want to sleep in their pen at night.  Now that they've had a taste of the big yard they want no parts of being in their small pen.  They disappear for hours sometimes and I have no idea where they are.  It used to be that I would go out to their pen every morning, feed them and gather their eggs from their nests and then let them out to roam the property.  Most days I would get two eggs so our dogs each got one to eat.  If the dogs want an egg now they're going to have to search for them themselves.  I had hoped the ducks would at least go back to their pen in the morning to lay their eggs.  Nope.  Yesterday I wandered around the yard a while but never found any.  Today I opened the back door and here's what I saw.  You may have to click on the picture to enlarge it and find the egg.
I can't figure ducks out.  When they lay an egg in their nest they bury it and you have to dig down to find it.  Other times they'll just drop an egg wherever they please, right out in the open.  One of the dogs found this egg.  I don't know who but it was gone when I was done milking.  I wonder if they'll find yesterday's eggs.

Monday, May 24, 2010

A little at a time

Some jobs just seem too big to begin.  In some ways it seems like we just put a bunch of fence posts in and now it's time for more and it feels like a huge task.  This week I'll be putting my little bucklings and wethers in with Witty.  Witty's fence is a mess.  He rubs against and jumps up on it and it has stretched until it looks all wobbly and awful.  I put this fence up somewhat in a hurry when I was getting my first 2 goats so I used T posts and old fencing I had removed from our other property.  It wasn't pretty even when I first put it up but it has kept 3 goats in. I'm afraid when I separate these little guys from their moms they're going to do all they can to get out.  I won't have the fence done before they move but  I want to move them before Polly has her babies this weekend. 

This time I'm using treated timbers and new fencing which I will pull tighter and I will concrete the corner posts too.  I will get to the girl's fence eventually but the boys is most important right now.  Both of their fences open up into one big pasture which they takes turns grazing in.  I counted how many fence posts I have to dig holes for and came up with at least 52 (31 of them are for the boy's fence).  I told myself if I just dug a few a day it wouldn't be so bad.  Today I got 5 posts completely installed.  I was pleased how well it went.  Maybe in a week and a half or so I can get the boys fence completed.   I hope I don't lose steam by the time I get to the girls.

Witty seemed happy to have me nearby working.  He's been lonely since we sold Jake.  Soon he'll be wishing for solitude again.  It's going to be interesting to have 4 boys together (2 of them are neutered).  I hope introductions go well.  They see each other through the fence all the time but fighting for food and space may get a little tense.  Thank goodness none of the girls are in heat or we'd have real trouble.  
Ok, at least 5 more posts in the ground tomorrow.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Moved by music

If you ever hear that the group Notorious is going to be in your area I highly recommend you go see them.  James and I heard them (I should say experienced them) last night for the first time.  I'm not exaggerating when I say that they brought tears to my eyes 2 or 3 times.  One song was about a Romanian bride who had to move far from her family to live with her new husband's family, never to see hers again.  Even though she sang this in a foreign language I still cried.  At other times during the evening I felt like laughing because her playing was ridiculously amazing.  Eden MacAdam-Somer plays the fiddle/violin and viola, sings and flat-foots and you can't take your eyes off of her even though her partner, Larry Unger, on guitar and banjo is also nothing short of amazing.  They didn't play just one style of music either.  We heard Romanian gypsy music, Appalachian music, waltz and classical.  Several pieces were their own compositions.  They wowed us with every style.

This was a house concert and if people knew how good this couple was I'm sure the house would have been packed.  Next time we'll invite friends.   It's not uncommon to go to someone's home and hear incredible music here in Rockbridge County.  This is the most musical place we've ever lived, whether it be an organized concert or people just showing up to a party with their instrument.  On June 11th this same couple that hosted the concert last night will have hundreds of people pass through their house to hear local musicians as they play or sing for 10 to 20 minutes each.  It begins around 5 PM and goes till the early morning hours.  Anyone can sign up to perform.  Again, the music runs the gamut.  We'll hear anything from barbershop, pop, classical, bluegrass, rock, folk, you name it.  They do this twice a year and we rarely miss one of these gatherings.

James enjoyed last night's performance as much as I did, so much that he also blogged about it.    James and I have very different tastes in music so it's really fun when both of us equally enjoy a concert.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Got Milk?

When our son was 10 he fell off his bike and punctured his intestine.  He spent a week in a children's hospital.  The hospital asked Adam if he would write about his experience falling off the bike and what he could have done differently to prevent the accident.  They were going to use these stories to make a book to give out to new patients.  One of the stories in the book was written by a high school football player.  He had broken his leg on the football field once and then later he was just walking and his other leg broke.  The doctors said his bones were so weak and brittle because all he drank was soda.  No milk, water or anything else, just soda.  We used to repeat this story to our son thinking it would make him want to drink more milk.  It wasn't until recently that he decided milk might make him stronger and healthier or maybe he just cares more now.  Whatever the reason, I'm glad he's drinking more milk, especially because we have so much of it.   I've even heard him telling his friends the benefit of raw goat's milk. 

Today I came across this "Got Milk?" commercial that was banned from TV.  It reminded me of the football player's story.


Definition of bartering - to trade goods or services without the exchange of money. 
I like that.  I wish we did more of it. 
I mentioned recently I helped process chickens at a farm and got paid in chickens.  My friend, Susan, and I help each other a lot with each other's animals but I had never really thought of that as bartering, but it is.  I once helped a friend build a cabinet and shelves and she helped me paint my barn doors.  Another friend and I exchanged scraping paint and painting.   While all of these things are bartering, most of the stuff I do with friends like this feels more like play since we talk the whole time, and you know how I like to talk.  Sometimes I help an older friend of mine fix things in her home because she has trouble getting around.  She bakes me cakes. 

I have lots of weeding and yard work that needs to be done.  What do I have to barter that would make someone want to come help me weed and prune?  More appreciated would be if someone would scrape, glaze and paint my exterior windows.  This is something no one seems to want to do, especially me. 

I should keep track of all the bartering we do in a year and see how much money we save.  It would be kind of hard to put a price on services though.  It's still fun to think about.

What does everyone else barter?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Freedom For Turkeys

The turkeys are growing up fast.  Yesterday I decided to give them their first taste of freedom.  I opened the door of their barn to the pasture.  It didn't take them long to figure out this was a pretty great place to be.  They walked right out and began pecking at the grass and looking around.  There were some chickens nearby who didn't know what to make of them.  They stood and stared.  I think they were more interested in the turkeys than the turkeys were in them.   They definitely look like turkeys now instead of chickens.
It looks like several of them are Toms because I've seen many fan their tails out in display.   I've also heard them gobble.  I recently learned that Toms gobble and the hens just chirp.  There's so much for me to learn.
This white turkey is a Tom.  See how he has dropped his wings and fanned his tail?  Sometimes they hold the tail up and look like they're really showing off.  They've been outside most of today.  I let them eat then took their food away so the goats don't get in their barn and eat it.  The goats did go into the barn and they found an unopened very heavy plastic bag of food and somehow opened it.  I don't think they got much and no one
seems sick yet.  I had heard loud chirping so I went to check it out.  That's when I found the goats in there.  I also found that some turkeys had squeezed out of the fence and were roaming where they don't belong.  I put them back in the fence and they escaped once more.  They put themselves to bed last night just like the chickens do.  I hope they do it again tonight now that they're exploring farther and farther from their barn. I was hoping they'd gobble in this video but they didn't.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Need New Fencing

The outside perimeter of our property is fenced in with old wire fencing.  I was so please not to have to put fencing up there.  I probably should have replaced it though.  The goats stand with their front feet on the fence so they can reach the honeysuckle vines on the other side.  Today James was working in the field garden when someone stopped their car and said, "are those your goats?"  All of our smaller goats were on the outside of the fence by the road eating poison ivy.  Their feet had broken the wire and made big holes they could easily get through.  I had just gotten out of the shower when James called to tell me they were loose.  By the time I got out there James had already gotten them back in.  He had to climb a bank loaded with poison ivy to steer them back.  Now they're closed in their smaller pen until I do some fence repair.  I don't know what I should do.   I have other fence work to do too and I could use those T posts that I'm replacing with 4x4's for the perimeter fencing.  This is all going to take so much time and I'm not sure where to begin or how to do it right.  Why can't they just stay in the pasture and eat grass like sheep?

On a funnier note.  Three little girls (ages 7, 5 and 4) came over to play, along with their toddler brother.  All of them were in the fence with the goats.  It was funny to watch them playing with the goats like they were toys or dolls.  Kind of like playing house.  They were holding onto Luti and Pessa'a collars and leading them all around and the goats just went wherever they were led.  At one point I heard the girls "putting the goats to bed".   They had put different goats in different stalls and closed them in.  I don't know why the goats allowed them to do it unless they just liked being played with by little girls.  There was no food involved.  All the while there was little girl chatter going on.  I wish I could have videoed it.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Farmer, Hobby Farmer, Homesteader, Wannabe? Which am I?

Farmer:  One who earns a living as a farmer.

Hobby Farmer:  A hobby farm is a smallholding or small farm that is maintained without expectation of being a primary source of income. ...

Homesteader:  Okay, there were lots of definitions for this one.  Here's the one I liked best. 
As of 2010 the term may apply to anyone who follows the back-to-the-land movement by adopting a sustainable, self-sufficient lifestyle. While land is no longer freely available in most areas of the world, homesteading remains as a way of life. According to author John Seymour, 'urban homesteading' incorporates small-scale, sustainable agriculture and homemaking.
I hadn't thought of it this way.  See below.
Homesteading may also refer to the practice of squatting — occupying an abandoned or unoccupied space or building that the squatter does not own, rent or otherwise have permission to use.

  1. One who aspires to a role or position.
  2. One who imitates the behavior, customs, or dress of an admired person or group.
  3. A product designed to imitate the qualities or characteristics of something.
I guess I fit 3 of the definitions, hobby farmer, homesteader and wannabe.  Definitely not a farmer.

Today I spent another day helping process poultry.  While we work we're separated into different work stations but we can hear conversations going on nearby.  Today one of the men helping was a young (compared to me) farmer who liked to talk about farming.  It was clear he had quite a bit of experience and loved what he did.  The young, single woman I worked next to and I talked about how she would like to "meet" (have a relationship) with a farmer but it would be nice if he'd also talk about other things, say, maybe literature.  Note to self:  find other things to talk about besides goats. 

I happened to find the conversation interesting since this is all so new to me.  In a year's time I don't really feel like I can even call myself a hobby farmer.  I'd have to say I feel more like a homesteader/wannabe.  I want to live a sustainable lifestyle.  I'd love to grow all our own food and maybe eventually produce our own energy via water or sun, though that seems like a very far reach right now.  It seems like we should be able to do this with Elk Creek and the James river bordering our property along with sunshine on our copper roof.  Can these things really be done by a 47 and 57 year old couple?  Is it too late for us?  I'd like to think we can still do it.  We're definitely on our way though.  James grows way more than enough vegetables to sustain us for years in just one season.  As of this year we'll have grown our own meat though I'm poud to say we've been buying meat locally for the past year or 2 (in addition to meat that wasn't, I'm not as proud to say).  Today I was paid in chickens.  We have no solar panels but we do heat with wood as much as we can.  We have no air conditioning which doesn't matter to us since we're outdoors most of the day and have fans at night.  Tonight's dinner is a chicken that may have passed through my hands stuffed with my homemade bread, home grown onion, homemade goat cheese and homemade bread.  We'll also have a salad that I need to go out and pick soon.

I'm feeling pretty good about our efforts right now but I know we can do lots more.  Maybe by the time we're 87 and 97 we'll be completely self-sufficient.  Will it still be cool and will most people be doing the same thing?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Smart goats

All of my goats are sweet but some are definitely smarter than others.  Of the 12 I'd say Witty, my buck, is the smartest.  He always looks or comes when you call his name.  Others, you call their name 20 times and they have no idea you're talking to them.  I've been given some wooden spools that electrical wire comes on and the goats jump and play on them.  Witty has one that he turns over on its side, rolls it to the fence and stands it back upright so he can look over the fence.  I've seen him do this at least 5 or 6 times so it wasn't a coincidence.  He hasn't jumped over yet.  I don't know why.  I may have to remove the spool from his pen.

Every night I close the baby goats in 2 stalls so I can have their mom's milk in the morning.  After the first few nights of this they stopped complaining and even seem to like it.  At least I thought so.  One morning last week I went out to feed and milk and found one stall open and 4 babies loose, nursing and taking all my milk.  I figured I didn't close their latch quite right the night before.  That next night I was sure to do it right and make sure it was secure.  Next morning they were out again.  One of the moms must have figured out how to open it.  I can guess which two goats might have unlocked it because the other stall with 2 other babies never gets opened so I know it's not their moms.  Here's a picture of the latch.  You can see how you have to lift it up and slide it over to unlatch it.
I now have to put a little lock on it at night.  From the looks of the picture below it appears Pessa is already studying it so she can figure it out.
Last night before bed I went out and found 4 goats in my milking stall that I always keep closed so they don't make a mess of it.  I guess I need to start putting locks on all the stalls, especially the one with the food in it. 

When it comes to feeding time they seem pretty smart too.  Everyone knows where they get fed.  They run to their designated spots, even the babies, and wait impatiently for me to feed them.

Today I let the turkeys out of their small pen so they could run loose in their big barn.  They seemed really excited.  I've been told turkeys are not smart.  I feel like I need to check on them often to make sure they haven't killed themselves. 

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Not for the faint of heart

A few weeks ago I saw and ad in the paper for temporary work, just a few days a week. James came in from working in the garden and I told him I called about a job. He looked at me like, seriously? I told him the job was to help another farm process poultry and it all became clear to him. As all you regular readers know I've only killed one bird and he was mean so that hardly counts. Also, I have all these turkeys that we plan to put in our freezer this fall and the more practice I get the easier it will be, I hope.  AND, we have 2 broody hens sitting on lots of eggs and we can't keep all these chickens so we're going to have to play "real farmer" and eat some someday.

We milked the goats earlier this morning so I could be at work by 9:00. It was an hour and 15 minute drive to the farm. There were a dozen of us there to process about 370 cornish cross hens. The hens had been caught that morning and put in plastic bins.

 Next they were put in a killing cone where their arteries were cut and they bled out.  Jon is just smiling for the picture.  I don't think he's smiling because he likes killing chickens.

From there they went to be scalded at 145 degrees so the feathers would come out easily.  In the de-featherer (I'm sure it has a more professional name but I don't know what it is) they were tossed about while rubber finger-like things removed the feathers.  At the next station someone cut off their feet and head and the guts were removed.  My job, along with 3 or 4 others, was to remove all the little feathers that were missed and check for bruising on wings, etc., which needed to be pulled or cut off.

From there they went into ice water to cool for a few hours till they could be bagged and frozen. 

Here's a lovely picture of where the bad parts and guts went.  These will go into their compost.  Their dog walked right by these buckets without even sniffing them.  Our dogs would have loved to get their greedy little mouths on this good, juicy stuff.

I know this must all look gruesome but it really wasn't.  I never even felt a little queasy, of course I wasn't the one killing them.  There wasn't much of a smell or even much blood by the time we got them.

In case you haven't gotten enough of the experience, here's a brief video of the process.

 I actually enjoyed the work and my day.  I enjoyed it so much I'm going to go back and do it again Saturday.  The people I worked with were great and that also made the day interesting.

We didn't have chicken for dinner tonight, just salad from the garden.

Monday, May 10, 2010

A disturbing day

I saw a young man die this morning and can't quite put my finger on how I'm feeling right now.  I really thought I was fine until his brother stopped by to talk to me this afternoon.  I thought writing about it might help.

I was sitting at my computer this morning writing an email when I heard a loud crash.  I looked out my window and saw branches and leaves falling at the end of my driveway.  My heart fell to my stomach.  My son, Adam, had left about 15 minutes prior to the crash and was to return any minute.  I walked quickly down the driveway, afraid to run, afraid of what I'd see.  I saw just one vehicle and it wasn't one of ours.  Relief flooded me.  Another woman had seen the crash and had called 911.  The pickup truck had crashed into a tree and a young man was lying across the seat.  The driver's side door wouldn't open because it was up against our fence.  The passenger's side was locked.  I looked in a lunchbox in the back of the pickup truck and found a paycheck with a name.  I called his name through the window.  He lifted his head, moaned once, then put his head back down.  He never raised it again.  Two men arrived at the scene.  They were able to open the sliding doors in the back of the cab window and unlocked the door.  It gets a little blurry at this point but I remember Adam coming home and then another blond woman came who I thought might be a nurse but I figured out later wasn't.  She couldn't find a pulse.  Lots of cars kept stopping to ask if they could help.  Two women who were nurses jumped out of their car told Adam to get a bag out of their trunk and then a box of gloves.  The nurses and the blonde woman were arguing about why the blonde woman hadn't pulled him out of the truck.  She kept trying to explain herself and the one nurse finally told her it was ok.  Rescue vehicles started to arrive and took over.

Since this morning I've wondered why I didn't take action, not that I know what I could have done for him but I just stood around and didn't do much, just observed.  I don't think I handle emergency situations the way I should.

Adam and I left shortly after things were under control and headed to a Dr. appointment an hour away.  We had a nice time on our road trip and laughed a lot about various things.  I told him I felt guilty about laughing and having a good time when this guy was probably dead and his family's life was changed forever.  I can't say for sure the driver had been drinking but there were beer cans and spilled beer on the floorboard.  He was 21, just one year older than Adam.  He had been going very fast on the wrong side of the road.  Adam figured out later that he knew the kid but not well.  He worked with him once.  He never went up to the truck to see his face and didn't recognize the name at first.

James wasn't home when this all happened so I described it to him.  He asked me how I was feeling.  I said fine.  He hugged me and we went about our day.  I was getting ready to put a new mailbox in to replace the one that got smashed, when a pickup truck drove down our lane.  I had a feeling it was family of the young guy.  It was his brother.  I felt nervous but didn't know why.  He asked me if I was here this morning and did I see his brother.  He started to cry a few times and apologized.  He wanted to know if his brother showed any sign of life.  I told him what I saw, that he lifted his head once, made a noise and laid his head back down.  He said, "that's all I wanted to know".  This brother was one of the first rescue squad drivers on the accident scene.  He had no idea it was his brother he was going to find.  He's the one who pulled his body from the truck.  He asked me if he could buy the tree his brother hit.  He then proceeded to tell me how he had hit the same tree 9 years ago and almost lost his life.  He said he'd pay to have it removed so no one else would hit it.  This tree doesn't stick out near the road, nor is it on a bend that causes any risk.  It's just a very bad coincidence that he and his brother both hit it.  He took some of the bark from the tree and put it in his truck.  I told him I'd let him know later about the tree.  We shook hands, said, "nice to meet you, sorry", and all the kind words strangers say under such strange circumstances. 

I even feel strange about replacing our mailbox and having people see me doing it.  Things will return to normal here but not at the homes of a 21 year old young man's family.

[3 or 4 hours later]
I still haven't gotten that mailbox up because people keep pulling into our driveway to spend time at the tree where the boy died.  As I type this the sister of the boy is gathering small pieces of glass and such.  I was tamping the dirt down around the mailbox post when she pulled up and introduced herself as the sister.  I told them to take their time and I walked away.  All afternoon cars have been driving by very slowly or stopping.  I wonder what it is that draws family and friends to an accident site.  What kind of answers are they looking for or can they find some kind of peace from being where he died?  I'm going to wait till tomorrow to attach the box to the post.  I feel out of place in my own yard.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

Poppy is such a good mom to Shamus.
Clarice and Dodger must have done something very special for their mom.  Pessa looks very content.
I love this picture of mother and daughter.  Flower and Sprint are rarely seen apart.
This is Fresca (the one that looks like a small cow) and Shasta (white) with their mom, Luti. 
Mother-to-be, Polly.  She's due 3 weeks from today. 

I'm pretty sure they enjoyed their Mother's Day as much as I enjoyed mine.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

One year anniversary

Today is Holes In My Jeans one year anniversary.  That's so hard for me to believe.  It seems like I just started.   I've posted 219 entries and have had 200 comments.   On average I get about 25 to 40 visits to my blog a day.  Let's see if I can do this for another year.  I'm not usually very good at sticking with things so I'll just shoot for one year at a time.  A friend and I were talking the other day about c-c-c-c-c-c-c-c-commitment, (there, I said it), how the older we get the harder we find it to commit to something.  I don't really like joining committees or clubs or something that meets on a regular basis.  I don't think I could work full-time for anyone again either.  I hope I never have to.  What does this say about me, I wonder.  Many people have asked if I feel tied down to my animals, knowing I can't leave town whenever I want.  I haven't felt that way yet.  I've had goats and chickens now a little over a year and I'm still enjoying it.  I hope to be saying that for at least another 10 years.    I've been married for almost 22 years but that's an easy commitment.  I hope I'll be saying that for at least another 40 years. 

I'll do my best to make this next year of blogging much more interesting than this entry.  Thanks for reading.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Barn door

Three sides of the turkey barn are done now (or almost done anyway).  I was determined to build the sliding barn door today and hang it.  With the help of James and Adam we were able to lift and hang it by 7:30 this evening.  It's so heavy.  I need to make a few adjustments so we'll have to take it down again but it slides nicely and I'm pretty pleased with it. 
I put the door together on the driveway, the only place I could find that was kind of flat.

I was going to have it slide towards the goat side of the barn but that was going to require some shims here and there so I now have it sliding towards the back.  I had to lower the doorway so the track wouldn't hit the roof where it gets low.  Only people who are 5' 8" or shorter can walk under it without ducking their heads.  It's a 12 foot track but I had an 8 foot opening.  They didn't sell 16 foot long tracks.  I wanted it to open more than 4 feet so I moved the track to the right about a foot and put the fastener with the rollers in about 18 inches on the door so now it opens 6 feet.  I will put chicken wire over the space above the door for ventilation and light. 

Last night we put the turkeys in a small area of the barn closed off by screen doors which I screwed together.    We put a heat lamp in there with them since it was going to get down to 60 degrees last night.  James got up at 2:15 AM to check on them.  At 4:00 he told me they were ok so I could stop worrying about them.  Tonight I put another heat lamp in there because it's supposed to be in the low 50's.  they aren't fully feathered yet so need at least 65 to 70 degrees.
I think they like their new digs.

While I was working I heard this banging noise coming from the goat yard.  Shasta, one of the 2 month old bucklings, was stuck in a cat carrier I had put out for the chickens to lay eggs in since the 2 broody hens are hogging the nests they like best.  It took me a while to get him out.  I don't think he could have escaped by himself.  Poor little guy was freaking out.  He had to freak out a little longer while I took his picture.  I wish I could have videoed me wrestling him out of there.  It wasn't easy.  There was an egg in there with him but it was cracked by the time he got out.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Back to the turkey barn

The guy from the sawmill finally called to tell me my lumber was ready.  The day the turkeys move out to their new barn can't come too soon for me.  They're getting so big and cramped in their quarters in our basement.  Today James and I put 5 of them in another pen so they'd have more room but they don't look very happy in there.

I got one wall (minus the sliding door) done on the barn this afternoon.  Tomorrow I'll go to Tractor Supply to buy the hardware for the 2 sliding doors.  I'm looking forward to building and installing them since I've never done that before.  The siding went very smoothly until Witty discovered where the fence wasn't attached to the barn.  He came to visit me and got into all my stuff.  For a short while he was wearing my camera bag around his neck.  He climbed on the lumber, into a wagon of wood scraps, on top a dog kennel which he fell off.  I had to hide my nails and any tool I thought he could carry off.  Eventually he found something I could let him have, poison ivy.  We have lots of it right around my saw horses so I was glad to see him nibbling it but was afraid he'd come lick me afterward.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Myotonic Goats (fainting goats)

Not much happening here today so I thought I'd post a video I thought was funny.  I don't know much about Myotonic goats except that when they're startled their muscles tense up and they fall over.  They're meat goats, not dairy goats so I don't think I'll be getting any.  I have a feeling they'd attract even more visitors.