Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Choosing my path and following my dreams

I just finished the book The Alchemist.  In a nutshell - it was a fable about a young man following his dreams, listening to his heart and reading life's omens.  I loved it.  It got me thinking about what it is I want and if I'm living out my dream.  I think I am - a doting husband, loving son, many really good friends and lots of animals like I've always wanted.  I don't know if I've ever thought about omens or recognizing when something is presenting itself to me and that I should listen to it or take action but I like the idea.  I hope I'm more receptive to them after reading the book anyway.

At 47 years old I worry less about what people think about me.  Yeah, I want people to like me but I don't care if folks think I'm a little strange.  Hopefully it's strange in a good way.  I'm pretty sure some friends of mine and maybe some family don't "get" what I'm doing (the whole animal thing) and maybe don't even approve but that's ok.  It's not for everyone and I wouldn't choose anyone else's life. 

But how do you know if you're there?  If you've reached that treasure?  Have I taken the risks that make it worth the journey, or does it matter?

I love a good book that makes me think.   This morning I had breakfast with 3 great friends.  One of them had recommended I read The Road Less Traveled.  I couldn't get through it.  I told them I didn't really enjoy reading self-help books very much (though I did enjoy A New Earth).  I feel like I'm already happy and those books don't do anything for me.  Does that make me sound over confident or too self-assured?  Maybe, but who cares? 

While I feel happy and blessed in more ways than I can count, I still feel like I'll never stop searching for my elixir or philosopher's stone.  Does anyone?  Is that what gives us energy or purpose?

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Coyote is still here

A young couple drove up our lane today to tell us they saw a very large coyote behind our garage.  That's what the last guy told us, that it was very big for a coyote.   They saw it in the same place.  The ducks are locked up for the night earlier than usual but I can't tuck the chickens in until they find their way back to the garage.  I'm tempted to sit out there tonight with a shotgun.  I wonder if it would know I'm there.  I wish he'd go to someone else's house and they'd shoot him.

Changing the subject - the goats are taking their turns going in heat and they're driving the boys crazy.  The bucks are very stinky right now and are acting like....well, bucks with girl's in heat.  It's not a pretty picture but it was entertaining for the folks that stopped her to tell us about the coyote.  They were fascinated by their noises and "displays of affection", to put it nicely. 

Speaking of affection, Chy has become very affectionate.  A little while ago when I went out there she actually ran to come see me.  We still have a long way to go but she loves to be scratched and wants my attention a lot more now than she used to.  Shiloh is a sweetheart.  Today I put a halter on him briefly.  He had no idea what was going on and looked so darned cute.  I should have taken a picture.  If only Chy would let me do that to her whenever I wanted.  I took hers off yesterday because it was irritating her face.  I'll try to put it on her again in a few days to see what she thinks but I'm not excited about trying. 

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Rough 'n tumble farrier

This morning was our first experience with a farrier.  Apparently it was also Chy's first experience.  Hopefully it wasn't the farrier's last.   Wayne Tingler was his name and he came highly recommended by my friend, Gail, who has 2 donkeys.  From the stories she told me it sounds like her girls also gave Wayne a run for his money.  I have no idea why he does it unless he loves a good challenge or he has a death wish.  I'll bet he's been in the rodeo.

I'm still very unsure of Chy.  I'm used to goats who don't kick and let me do just about whatever I want to them.  I couldn't even get Chy's halter on her before Wayne got here because I was upsetting her and I was nervous about getting kicked.  He decided he was going to make friends with Chy.  He spoke softly and gently stroked her.  I can't really remember how it went from there except I recall her dragging him around the barn for a few laps with him hanging on to her neck.  He kept telling us and her they were going to be best friends.  She sure didn't treat her friend very well.  He finally got her haltered and tied to a post.  He showed us how to make her give up her foot by lifting it and dropping it to the ground many times.  Sounds simple huh?  Sure.  Just when I thought she was all calmed down and acting like a pussy cat she'd give him a few whacks.  As time wore on though I could tell she was getting tired and the kicks were half-hearted.

Wayne kept apologizing to us for being rough on her, which he wasn't at all.  I felt like I should keep apologizing to him for having his head knocked against the post, being twisted in her rope, karate kicked probably 30 times and for all the bruises he probably has tonight.   While most of this was going on James and I were cowering in the corner wishing we had worn our helmets and armor.  Wayne is small of stature but strong as an ox.  I'm not sure who was more feisty Chy or Wayne.  He got the job done and I was more than grateful.  Her one foot that had been bothering her had grown under its self and it has to feel better now that it's all trimmed up.  I hope she's grateful too.

Oh yeah, one more thing.  I got to taste Chy's milk.  I told Wayne I had visions of milking her.  He looked a bit surprised and did a good job of hiding his skepticism. After she settled down he milked her, tasted it and then squeezed some into my hand so I could taste it.  I wish I'd had a glass of it so I could savor and really taste it.  All I can remember is that it seemed thinner than goat's milk.

I have 6 to 8 weeks now to get Chy to relax about getting her feet touched and handled more in general.  I also need to keep touching Shiloh all over so he always behaves for us.  I probably shouldn't have found this morning so entertaining but Wayne and his fiance' Debra were such good sports and kind of seemed like they were having a good time so I didn't feel so bad laughing.  I do wonder what they said on the way home.

Monday, August 23, 2010

First hawks, now coyotes

Five ducks disappeared during the night.  I suspected coyotes or foxes and then a neighbor stopped by to tell us he just saw a large coyote behind our barn.  Everett said if he had a gun he would have shot him.  I wish he did.  James walked back there and down the bank were the remains. Ginger, Skipper, their 2 young and one of the magpies are gone.  Tonight I will try locking them up again if I can get them in their pen. 

First thing this morning Rosie and Lex found one of the young chickens already hard and with its eyes gone.  A friend told me possums do this.  I wonder if even the possums have it out for us.  Just after noon I witnessed a hawk swoop down and steal Soosie's only remaining chick.  It's very disturbing to watch.  All the surrounding fowl go nuts, screaming and running.  Soosie ran straight back towards the other chickens only to be pounced on by the rooster.  I could have smacked him.  Has he no compassion?  Sheesh!  Oh yeah, he's a rooster.

I hope Chy does her job as a guardian if a coyote enters the goat's fence.  We may have gotten her just in time.  It's too bad she can't guard the ducks and free-ranging chickens too.  What I worry about is that it was a pack of coyotes that killed the 5 ducks.  I don't know that Chy could keep all of them away.  Right now she's taking a dust bath in the girl's paddock.

A camel dairy, hmmm

A friend sent this to me this morning.  It sounds intriguing.  What do you think?  Another friend recently told me I should buy a camel dairy. 

Dubai camel dairy milks health food market

Still a few humps to get over for Camelicious brand to hit Europe stores; Asia, U.S. may follow

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Photos: Camel milk gains traction

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DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — The camels know the drill by heart.
Just after dawn, they file on their own, always in groups of 12, into metal stalls for milking. Workers attach automated pumps. The milk flows into a system of chilled pipes that empty into a sealed metal vat.
The next stop someday could be markets in Europe, and possibly beyond, under ambitious plans backed by Dubai's ruler to expand the reach of the playfully eccentric brand name Camelicious.
European Union health regulators cleared the United Arab Emirates in July to become the first major exporter of camel milk products to the 27-nation bloc. If onsite inspections and other EU tests pass muster, the first batches of powdered camel milk could be heading to European shelves next year, and at some point possibly to Asia and America.
"We know this isn't what you'd call a mainstream product in the West," said David Wernery, legal adviser for the Camelicious brand, whose parent company goes by the more staid name of Emirates Industry for Camel Milk & Products. "We're thinking about health food stores and alternative markets. It's probably going to be a niche thing at first."
Camel praise
It would be something of a coming-out party for the small but passionate community that describes camel milk in awed tones.
It has at least three times more vitamin C than cow's milk and is considered an alternative for the lactose-intolerant. Researchers have studied possible roles for camel milk in fighting bacteria, tumors and diabetes, as well as traditional uses such as a treatment for liver disease across the range from central Asia to North Africa.

For Dubai's ruler, Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, a Camelicious foothold in Europe would mark a pet project growing up.
Wernery's veterinarian father, Ulrich, made a pitch about a camel dairy to Sheik Mohammed a decade ago.
"I told him, 'You race camels. Why not milk them?'" said the elder Wernery, who first became enamored with camels while working in Somalia in the 1970s.
The sheik did not give an immediate answer, so Wernery went ahead and created a small pilot dairy in 2000 with about a dozen camels outside his research and animal care clinic in Dubai. Three years later, Sheik Mohammed called. He was ready to finance the dairy.
At the time, Dubai's growth was starting to swallow up the desert in huge bites. Sheik Mohammed has always liked the bold stroke. Being patron to the region's first modern camel farm fit nicely as a sideline venture.
David Wernery and his mother cooked up the name Camelicious. Their initial worry: That the "normal customer" might find camel milk, well, "disgusting."
"Hopefully (this was) negated by the reference to delicious," he said.
Building a brand
The company, which began operations in 2006, quickly stood out on the dairy shelves with its logo: a bug-eyed cartoon camel with violet-hued sunglasses. And new flavors were added — now up to chocolate, saffron, date, strawberry. Its official corporate image, a camel silhouette under a sliver moon, is on its other products, including camel milk chocolates and laban, a traditional yogurt drink.
"We're still doing market surveys in Europe," said David Wernery. "We really like the cartoon camel logo, but we wonder if that's the right image for a health food product. We're still working on it."
Then there is the taste. The milk from camels eating the desert brush can have a slightly salty flavor. The Camelicious herd gets hay and treats of carrots and dates, all of which all serve to soften the taste for more Western palates.
"They eat anything," said David Wernery. "They are very, very easygoing. And smart, too."
Really? The lumbering "ships of the desert" are not as cloddish as they seem?

Saturday, August 21, 2010


In the past couple weeks 2 different people told us they had lost many chickens to hawks.  I told both of them we hadn't had that problem.  I really didn't think we would have one either.  I don't know why I felt so confident about it.  I shouldn't have.  Earlier this week I saw a red tailed hawk swoop down and try to get the only chick Soosie has left.  Somehow it missed and all the chickens and ducks ran under bushes and screamed and screamed.  Soosie and her chick stayed under our butterfly bush for a few hours.  She was very nervous.  I saw the hawk sitting on our grape arbor so I scared her away.  I didn't see her again that day. 

Later this afternoon we heard chickens and ducks making a racket and James ran out and saw a hawk with one of our smaller ducks pinned to the ground.  James chased it away and the duck escaped.  Not much later the hawk was back, this time with one of our full-grown chickens in its clutch.  I don't know how the hawk thought it could carry a bird as big or bigger than itself away.  James ran out again and the hawk flew away without the chicken but the chicken was already dead.  I had just showered and put on nice clothes to go out in but quickly changed into dirty clothes and butchered the chicken and added it to the ice water we had 2 turkeys chilling in.  It was not a good day for birds on our farm. 

Friday, August 20, 2010

Chy and Shiloh are becoming pets

Shiloh has become very affectionate and even runs to see me now.  He's a big teddy bear.  Please ignore my baby talk in the video.  Focus on the baby.

Chy has lived with us for a week and 4 days and I'm so pleased with how much she has warmed up to me.  I'm trying not to rush her but it's so hard not to hug her neck like I do the goats.  Yesterday I noticed she was limping on her right front foot.  I want to get a farrier out here to trim her hooves but we have a ways to go before she's going to let someone touch her feet.  Today a friend of mine came over to help put a halter on her and give me lots of advice.  Gerri is a horse expert and has years of experience.  After watching her with Chy I feel so much more confident in handling her.  Here's a video of Gerri working with Chy.  She has a rope on her neck to see how she'll react to pressure.  I was so impressed with both Chy and Gerri.  I held onto Shiloh so he wouldn't keep running to his mom and distract her. It was so hot and holding him was like wearing a fur coat.

We got the halter on Chy but it's too big so today I'm going to try another one on her.  It will be interesting to see how she reacts to me taking the one off and trying to get another one on.  Susan is coming over and we're going to begin "clicker training".   A lot of people use it in training dogs.  It's a way to give positive reinforcement at the moment of correct behavior.  The second they do what you want them to, like lift a foot or let you do something to them, you click and then give a treat or praise them.  Treats work best early on.  Maybe we'll video some of it. 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

17 Turkeys left

Today I killed another turkey.  I'm through saying harvested or processed and telling it like it is.  I'm no longer enamored with my turkeys.  Yes, they can be funny and interesting to watch but they bite me too much and they still can't find their way back to the barn so I have to throw them over the fence, which isn't easy to do to a 20lb bird without getting scratched all over.  Sometimes I throw them into the fence because I can't quite get them over.  Also, they poop all over my goat barn - on my milking stool, walls of the stalls, latches, food buckets, you name it, they poop there and it's not tiny poops either.

So they have to go.  I put an ad on Craigslist today and put one 13 pounder in my freezer.  Instead of scalding and plucking this one I skinned it and cut it into pieces.  It was so much easier.  I may sound hard-hearted and it might make you feel better to know that I cried a little this time.  A friend was here while I did it and I was fine until she came out to talk to me and then I got choked up.  Once he's dead it's fine.  It's while he's dying that I find so hard.  My friend told me that when her brother did it he'd put them under a tub until they were dead.  I wonder if it was so they didn't get away or if he couldn't bear to watch.   Both times I've done this it sucked the energy out of me the rest of the day.  James said he'd help me do 2 more tomorrow.

I gave Rosie and Lex the feet and they were thrilled with them.  I hope they don't get sick.

Edit:  James says he thinks he could become a vegetarian.  As much as I hate killing animals, I still want meat.
Next year we won't be raising turkeys.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I love the game.  James and I used to play 3 to 5 times a week.  Last year I got the New Scrabble Dictionary for my birthday so we know little words like qi and qat, which can come in handy near the end of a game.  We haven't been playing much this summer though but we drug it out again tonight.  It was a good game for both of us.  You know how sometimes you get all vowels or all consonants, well, tonight that didn't happen to either one of us.

My first turn, INCOMES, all 7 letters, "give me 50 extra points please".  James' first turn, MANDOLIN, 7 letters play for him too.  What are the chances?  I used all my letters 3 times in one game.  I don't think I've ever done that. 

Here's James trying to find a way to beat me.  Hmmm, thinking..........thinking.
My mom and I played when she was here last week.  She asked me how often I win.  I told her James and I take turns, probably 50/50.  Tonight I was lucky and drew great letters.
We're always glad when we score over 300 points.  You don't have to guess who won since I'm the one blogging about it.  I know - what a bragger.

 Ignore Mom's score on this sheet.  That was from another game and it wasn't a final score.

I need to figure out a way I can play my friends and family online because my sister loves the game too.  If anyone knows how we can do that let me know.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Thrilling work

No animal talk today.  I wanted to sit and stare and my donkeys  but I had to do something that has been gnawing away at me for a while now.  Our windows need to be scraped, painted and old glazing removed.  I began this job last Fall but got bored with it, therefore, many of our windows didn't have the storm windows in them this winter.  I found a way to get myself back on track - hire a friend to help me.  Deloris shows up at 8 AM and gets right to work.  I force myself to scrape and caulk so windows are ready for her to prime and paint.  Tomorrow I need to go to Lowes and get some new panes to replace some cracked ones.

Even though we don't talk much while we work it's still more fun than doing it alone.  Why is that?  We have a long way to go but already I feel pretty good about our progress.  After tomorrow we'll have completed 3 windows, washed and all.   If you drive by, wave at me.  I might be able to see you through the windows now. 

I wonder when we'll ever finish this house.  I need to keep some things unfinished though, that way James will keep me around a little longer.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


His name is Shiloh.  He's let me touch him 4 times now but each time he quickly moves away.  By late afternoon Chy was much more relaxed with people around him.

Shiloh was born sometime during the night.  I woke up this morning to find him and Chy standing by the gate.  He was clean and fluffy and she looked nothing like she had had a baby.  When I went out to meet him she put herself in between us so I couldn't get near him.  She kept her distance most of the day except for a few times when I gave her treats.  I took that time to build the beginnings of a milking stanchion.  Right now it's just a chute for her to stand in and get used to eating there.  I don't think she's been in it yet. 

I wanted so badly to watch the birth but I guess I should just be thankful it all went well and I didn't lose any sleep over it.  I was hoping to touch him then so he would be more open to socializing with humans.  I feel pretty confident  it's not going to take much work to win him over though.  Chy is already standing back and letting him choose to come near me or not.  He's very curious but cautious yet.

This video is him first thing in the morning so he couldn't be more than 6 hours old or so.  Just after I took this he bounced and fell.  I wish I had kept the video running longer.  Now he looks very sure-footed when he runs. 


Look what I found in my fence this morning

To be continued............

Friday, August 13, 2010

Progress and patience

I feel like Chy and I are making real progress.  Not only has she let me pet her but now she's letting other people as well.  This morning 6 year old Maggie Anne came over and I was very cautious about letting her approach Chy but probably made more of it than I should have.  Maggie Anne pranced over, chatting away, and Chy didn't mind a bit as she petted her face or anywhere else.  She even put her face close to Maggie Anne like she wanted to be close to her. 

Later this evening James had his chance to pet her.  She stood there very calmly as he ran his hands down her neck and then she ate crabapples out of his hand.  She looked like this was old hat to her and not the least bit nervous. 

Now about patience.  All of you who have been reading my blog during goat births know how obsessed I become when I think one of them is going to kid anytime.  I do lots of staring at goat bottoms day and night, night and day.  I was told Chy was due to foal in December but possibly sooner.  Welllllllll, today I thought her teats looked full and shiny.  She also looked more hollow around the top of her tail and her stomach looks so much bigger.  I grabbed The Donkey Companion to see what it said about impending birth.  I had read this 300 plus page book (in one day) and had already memorized the signs but wanted to be sure I remembered it all.  I had myself convinced she could have this baby this weekend but now that it's dark, quiet, and I've had more time to think about it I'm wondering if I'm imagining things.  I told Susan I wish I had taken pictures of her behind, udder and teats the day I got her so I could compare them to how they look now and she laughed at me.  One day when her sheep are pregnant this will all come back to her and I'll be laughing at her obsessing about them.  Tomorrow I'll take pictures of her so I'll have something to compare later pictures to.   Just in case I'm not crazy, though, I'm going to keep a close watch on her.

Tonight I may dream of names for baby donkeys.  I may be doing this for 4 more months.  I watched a few donkey births on Youtube just to get myself more excited. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Slowly getting closer to kissing my ass

Meet Chy (pronounced Shy).  I think her face is beautiful. 
She arrived on Sunday.  The previous owners, delivered her to us, which was really nice since we don't have a horse trailer.  They backed up to our gate and with some coaxing and bribing with food Chy slowly took her first steps into her new home.

When I met her last week she took a little food out of my hand but wouldn't let me touch her and she was very nervous around me.  In the previous 5 months she had not let her owners pet her and she remained aloof.  You know me, I can't stand to have a pet that I can't love on but I knew I'd have to have patience.  I really am determined to milk her so touching her all over is going to be very important.  She's not due to have a baby for a few months yet so there's still time.

I let her meet the goats through the fence and they seemed a little nervous about having her nearby but they didn't freak out.  The turkeys wandered all around her legs and she ignored them.  Since then the goats have all met her and all appears to be going as planned.  Donkeys make good guardians for livestock and already she'd rather be with the goats than alone.   One of our neighbors has lost many chickens this year and just this week shot a coyote in his yard so I know they're around.

Look what else happened that first morning she was here.

She'll let me scratch her back, neck and rump and stroke her face.  I think she likes me.  Of course, I've bribed her with treats.  All my animals are motivated by food.  I'm hoping it won't be long till she lets me give her a kiss on the nose.  Yesterday I bought her a halter and I plan to slowly introduce her to it so I can get it on her and teach her to lead.  Today I put the halter in her food pan so she had to touch it and eat around it. 

For those of you who think I'm crazy about this milking-a-donkey idea read this.

Donkey Business

Milk—it does the body good.
Human beings used to kill animals primarily for meat and hides; however, that changed with the advent of animal domestication around 8000 BC.  At that time, goats and sheep were domesticated in the Middle East and lived on a diet of grass. Farmers realized that animals could sustain themselves on an easily obtainable stock of food which was otherwise useless to humans, so they started experimenting with other uses for animal byproducts; hence human consumption of animal milk. Now, instead of simply hunting animals and getting one share of meat and skin, they capitalized on milk production and used the same animals for years.
There is evidence of humans drinking milk from many mammals, including goats, sheep, camels, donkeys, even water buffalo, but cow’s milk is by far the biggest industry for animal milk. Why? Because cows can produce nearly 40 liters of milk in one milking. In this world of quantity over quality, cow’s milk made the most sense.
But could it do better?
Milk produced by different animals has different compositions of protein, fat, and essential nutrients. Many studies have been conducted to test the breakdown of lipids and vitamin content in milk from different animals, and they found that donkey lactate is actually healthier than that of a cow and most closely resembles human milk. According to a study published inFundamentals of Dairy Chemistry (B. Webb, A. Johnson, J. Alford, AVI Publishing, 1974), cow milk contains 3.7 grams of fat per 100 grams while donkey milk only contains 1.72 grams. As America faces an increasingly concerning obesity epidemic, one has to wonder why nutritionists have not revisited something as easy as milk. The answer is simple: people are disturbed by the idea of drinking donkey milk.
Donkey milk surpasses a cow’s on many levels: less fat content, a much higher percentage of protein, and a higher concentrate of the essential vitamins found in milk. For example, donkey milk contains 60 times the amount of vitamin C found in cow milk. Perhaps the most important difference is the fact that donkey milk requires no pasteurization. Pasteurization is the process by which bacteria, protozoa, molds, and yeasts are destroyed by heating a liquid. Every ounce of milk produced on cow dairy farms must go through this process or risk being harmful to human beings. Needless to say, this is an expensive process. Donkey milk does not contain any natural bacteria, so it is absolutely safe to drink straight from the jenny! In fact, some studies have even shown that donkey milk contains immunoglobins which boost the immune system. Not enough research has been done on this topic to make solid statements, but donkey milk is potentially helpful for people with reduced immune system function, like cancer patients.
The oldest woman in the world died at 116 years of age and made a buzz in the media when her family attributed her long life span to consumption of donkey milk throughout her life. The Ecuadorian woman lived a healthy lifestyle otherwise, but it really makes you think! There are also legends that Cleopatra bathed in donkey milk to keep her skin youthful and beautiful; maybe she was on to something.
Where can I get it?
Donkey milk’s popularity is quickly growing in Belgium and France. Belgium’s Asinerie du Pays des Collines at the Chateau des Mottes, owned by Olivier Denys is not only the single existing donkey dairy farm in Belgium, but is also one of very few existing in the world. Denys knows that donkey milk is a “nutritional goldmine,” but he also realizes the limitations in mass production. Jennies, female donkeys, can only produce around two liters of milk per day over a span of three milkings, which does not really contend with the 40 liters churned out by cows in only one. Also, of his 84 donkeys, only 15 are ever producing at one time. Despite the hindrances in manufacturing, Denys says that production is increasing every year as popularity and support grows. Another plus that may start to change investor’s minds is that donkey milk completely cuts out the cost of pasteurization, which leaves more money for more donkeys.
Access to donkey milk in the United States is extremely limited. Donkey milk supplements are about as close as you can get without actually going out and milking a donkey yourself. The cosmetic industry is cashing in on the Cleopatra myth by selling soaps and lotions containing fractions of donkey milk, but the real nutritional benefits come from the actual consumption of fresh milk.
America is stuck in a nutritional rut, and the idea of drinking milk straight from a donkey’s teat is, let’s face it, disgusting for most people. But why is it any different than drinking milk from a cow? Because time and time again, society has drawn the lines and nobody has dared to break them.
The nutritional benefits of drinking donkey milk are clear; the only thing lacking is publicity and social acceptance.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Ringnecks, Copperheads and Rattlesnakes

Kind of gives you the chills just thinking about them huh?  Me too, except for the ringnecks.  Today my parents and I went to our cabin to see if the power was back on.  There was a storm 2 days ago and we lost power for a day and a half there.  Everything was in working order.  I checked the bathrooms to see if anything needed cleaning and it all looked pretty decent except there was a baby ringneck snake in the bathtub.  No biggie.  I picked it up and put it outdoors.  Dad asked if I was going to flush it down the toilet.  C'mon, it's harmless.  I couldn't do that.

Later we sat on the back porch.  Dad pointed out some trees with dead branches.  I wanted to know if the whole tree was dead so we could mark it to cut this winter for firewood. I walked back into the forest wearing flipflops.  I tread carefully so I wouldn't get poked by a stick or something.  I stepped up onto a rock and was stepping down the other side and saw a copperhead just under my foot.  I very quickly lengthened my step and jumped farther, my blood pressure rising considerably, a much different reaction than to the ringneck.  If they weren't so scary they'd be beautiful.  I wish I had my camera but I wasn't expecting anything to see wildlife today. 

I haven't seen a rattlesnake in years but I thought this was worth mentioning because Adam experienced something I can say I've never done.  He and some friends cooked up rattlesnake for dinner a few weekends ago.  I think they grilled it.   One of the guys had killed it the weekend before, I think.  I'm sure Jeff Foxworthy would have something to say about this.

Fences are finished

Almost anyway.  I have a few repairs on the perimeter fencing but the two fences that contain the boys and girls most of the time are looking good and strong.  It was a lot of work but I'm happy with it now that it's done.  The boys have wooden posts with goat fencing and new gates and the girls have metal T posts with cattle panels.  I like the looks of the boy's fencing so far (because it isn't stretched yet) but the girl's fence is stronger.  I have yet to dig out some of the T posts inside the girl's paddock but that can be done when I have nothing else to do.  HA, when's that?
                                                                   Boy's fence
                                                              Girl's Fence

Hopefully all this fencing will be just as good for my new girl who arrives tomorrow.  My Jenny (who's name is now Clover but I'm still thinking about if I want to call her that or not) is being delivered tomorrow afternoon and I can't wait.  I'll keep her on the outside of the boys and girl's paddocks, in the larger pasture, so they can all meet through the fences.  I hope it goes well.  The first farm she lived on she had goats for pasture-mates so I'm hoping for a quick bond with both the goats and with me.  It's going to take some time, I'm sure.  

Friday, August 6, 2010

Not an expert on goats but had just enough knowledge to help

The daughter of a friend of mine drove down my driveway a few nights ago and asked if I could help her.  Her goat had 2 babies and one of them wasn't doing great and the mom wouldn't get up.  I grabbed some molasses water, selenium and vitamin E, vitamin B complex and some syringes and off we went.  The goat had the babies way under the barn and we had to shimmy on our bellies to get to her.  We drug the babies out hoping she'd follow.  Tiffany (the goat owner) gave MaryJane (the goat) the molasses water which she drank right down.  MaryJane walked right out and we took them up into the barn.  We dried the babies off, gave MaryJane more molasses water and all of them selenium and vitamin E shots.  They all looked great and the babies were trying to nurse.  A storm blew in and there was lightning all around.  Thanks goodness it held off till after we were done.

Tiffany called the next day to tell me the placenta hadn't fallen out yet.  I gave her the advice given to me when this happened to one of my goats.  Tie a small bag of water to the placenta and the weight will make it come out.  I haven't heard from her so I don't know if it worked or not.  She also said  when she pulled on the teat nothing came out.  I told her you don't pull the teat, you squeeze it.  "Oh", she said.  I'm sure everything was working fine.

I felt really good that I was able to help.  Even though they probably didn't even need me, I know it made Tiffany feel better about it all.  I felt the same way once upon a time and will probably feel that way again.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Processed our first turkey today

I knew no one would want to see pictures or hear the details of the process but I'll tell you it went pretty well.  It's definitely harder than butchering a chicken, especially when you don't have the right equipment.  After he was all cleaned up he weighed 18 lbs.  He's taking an ice bath right now but tomorrow we'll have him for dinner when Mom and Dad arrive for a visit.

One thing that had me confused about the whole processing thing though was I couldn't find the little thing that pops out when it's done.  I guess I pulled it out along with the feathers.

I'm the Man that Slits the Turkey's Throats at Christmas
ASB Robin Laing   Words & Music John Rudkin

In the distance church bells chime,
Soon it will be Christmas time,
On the fire there burns a Yule tide log,
Carollers are singing too,
Noses red and fingers blue,
Sounds of children coughing in the fog,
But there's one man who'll be working,
When you're tucked up in your bed,
For he has got, a seasonal job,
........\\ His clothes are always red,

I'm the man that slits the turkey's throats at Christmas.
I'm the man that pulls their innards inside out,
I gather up the giblets and wrap them in cellophane,
Then just because it's Christmas I shove 'em back in again,
I secure their little ankles with elastic
Then I mop up all the slime with bits of rag,
I'm sure that it would please them,
To know before I freeze 'em,
I pop 'em into a little plastic bag,

When autumn leaves have fallen and winter winds do blow,
I visit all my poultry, shouting, "Five more weeks to go",
I send each one a Christmas card - it always is a funny yin,
Portraying thyme and parsley too, rosemary, sage and onion,
But I'm a kindly master, compassionate and dutiful,
And it ruffles up their feathers
When I tell them that they're "Bootiful", ..... Chorus,

Some people say I'm cruel, some say I'm insane,
But methods I've adopted are really quit humane,
I kill them, draw them, pluck them - it's the best way I have found,
Unless I feel vindictive when I swop the system round,
With my hand stuck up a turkey it's not a pretty sight,
But they die with smiles upon their beaks,
To tell me it's all right, ..... Chorus

One day this little turkey cock with teardrops in his eyes,
Whispered to me "Please sir, I don't want to die"
I said "Come here my chickadee - you don't look very chuffed,
Don't you know it's Christmas time so turkeys can get stuffed,
But you have really touched me and though we still must part,
There's going to be a place for you,
Right here next to my heart, ..... Chorus

A PREGNANT DONKEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Adam posted on Facebook, "going with mom to look at a pregnant donkey.  Wonder what we're getting ourselves into?"  Later he wrote, "bought the donkey, ha ha new addition to the farm/family.  About 70 animals now". 

And in a few months she'll have one of these.
This little guy is 6 days old and belongs to her sister.

More later.  It's time for me to milk the goats.  Oh, by the way, I plan to milk the donkey.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Toupees and tampons

Shamus is no longer a baby.  He's turning into a hairy little buckling and much more masculine looking.  Here are a few shots showing him with his beard and his toupee-like hair.
My sister and her friend say he looks like Donald Trump.  Absolutely not!!!!!

For some reason I Googled toupee and came upon this website where someone shows the crafts they make out of tampons.  One of them is a toupee.  She/he (I'm guessing it's a she because a man wouldn't touch a tampon, would he?) devotes a whole website to tampon crafts.  I thought someone else might find this amusing.    http://www.tamponcrafts.com/toupee.html

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

More chicks and more on the way

Soosie hatched 3 little black chicks and has 2 more eggs under her.  I wonder if they'll hatch.  It smells pretty bad in the garage she's in so I can't wait till she's done sitting so I can change her nest.  If the eggs don't hatch should I break them open and see what's inside????????

I have one more broody hen sitting on 7 eggs, I think.  They aren't due to hatch for another 2 weeks.  The last chicks that hatched out about 2 months ago think they own our yard.  They can be seen just about anywhere.  They are true free-range chickens and look nothing like any of my others.  I guess since my rooster is a cross of different breeds they got their color from his genes.  Maybe when the white ones get bigger they'll look more like my rooster.