Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Goat Yoga

I've never done yoga except for following a very basic DVD which had very little explanation of what yoga really is.  I will probably offend some folks who are true yoga enthusiasts with this post but I hope they'll understand I'm going with what little I know. 

All of us know that chanting the sound "OMmmmmm" has something to do with yoga.  I Googled OM and this is what I found. 

OM is the most basic, primal sound and the origin of all sounds. It is very liberating to start a yoga asana practice with chanting OM - it takes you beyond intellect, centers you and lifts the energy upwards.

Om is the affirmation of the Divine Presence in the universe. It has a profound effect on the body and mind of the one who chants Om, and on his or her surroundings. Most mantras start with Om.

Try mentally repeating OM when angry, stressed or agitated. The sound can bring you closer to that calm place within just by repeating it.

You probably wonder where I'm going with this, don't you?  When I'm stressed, or worn out or need to find a place to find calm, I go to my goat barn.  This time of the year is the best time to find a sense of serenity.  There's nothing like hanging out with a bunch of pregnant goats, calmly chewing their cud to make you relax and find peace.  Watch this and see if you agree.  Imagine they're all saying "OMMMMM"

Friday, February 24, 2012

A taste of summer

We had some crazy weather today.  One moment it was sunny and 75 degrees, the next moment it was pouring down rain with heavy winds.  It felt like a summer day.  I went for a walk in long sleeves and wished I had worn a short sleeved tee shirt.  We even had a rainbow.  You may have to look very hard to see it.  Why don't rainbows photograph well?
Because it was raining so hard and I couldn't be outside, I decided to do some cooking.  It's been a long time since I made homemade pasta.  I used all whole wheat flour from our home-grown wheat.  I had no idea if it would be too dry or what.  Surprisingly it turned out really nice.  The dough was very orangey-brown from the combination of our dark yellow eggs and wheat. 
 I was afraid the noodles would be too dry and crumble when I pressed and cut them but they surprised me.  It was smoother than the texture of the dough led me to believe they'd be.
 I made a sauce out of one cup of frozen pumpkin from 2006 and 2 cups of winter squash from 2010.  It was heavily flavored by 5 cloves of our very potent garlic, fresh sage leaves and the last of our onions from 2011. 
Unfortunately we didn't have any chicken broth, sour cream, salt or nutmeg from our farm which completed the sauce.  While digging through the freezer for the pumpkin I discovered some eggplant.  I brushed it with some olive oil, salt and parmesan, broiled it and placed it on top the pasta then added some goat cheese from October (I don't even know what kind but it was parmesan-like), and there we had a summer dinner.
It will be nice when we have fresh ingredients but for now I'm thankful for this taste from past summers' produce.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A lesson learned in pigs

I have so enjoyed raising Velma and Roxie.  I knew when we picked up those 2 cute little piglets that parting with them would be difficult.  I just didn't know how difficult it would be, and I mean physically.

We had planned to butcher at least one of the pigs ourselves, with the help of our friend TE.  Unfortunately, before we got a chance to butcher, TE had a heart attack and is scheduled for a triple bypass early tomorrow morning.  He'll be good as new for next year's butchering, of that I'm sure. 

Yesterday I was visiting TE and he told me I needed to take care of my hogs and he was going to arrange that.  He knew I was procrastinating.  I wasn't prepared to get the ball rolling so quickly.  After a few phone calls it was all taken care of - Velma was going to the butcher and Roxie to be bred TODAY!  I had no time to prepare myself, therefore I got no sleep last night because I needed to cram all my worrying into one night. 

TE and I picked up a small horse trailer late yesterday so we could be ready first thing this morning.  At 8AM we threw some hog feed in the trailer and with very little hesitation Velma walked in.  We latched the door and off we went.  James drove our pickup which was towing the trailer and TE and I followed.  It was just 16 miles over the mountain to the butcher.  All seemed to be going so well.  We drove less than 4 miles when our jaws dropped to the floorboard.  I think TE said something like, "Holy ----"  Velma was trying to jump out of the trailer and was very close to accomplishing just that.  The back door was just a half door, open at the top.  Velma was hanging over the door.  I could picture her running loose in the town of Glasgow and our name in the news.  I called James and told him to pull over immediately.   Both men jumped out of their vehicles and had to lean on the door to keep her in. 

I drove back home to get supplies to secure the door and keep her in while they stood guard.  I was given a long list - C clamps, 2X4s, a saw, screws, nails, plywood, ratchet tie downs, whatever it would taketo keep a 300 lb hog in a flimsy very old trailer.  I drove to a neighbors to see what he had that might help.  I returned with some of the things on the list, along with a couple wooden pallets.  I was glad to see Velma still in the trailer when I returned and both men still alive, maybe just a little more sweat on their brows.   I have no idea how long it took to screw this here, nail that there until we were sure it would hold her in.  It wasn't pretty but it did the job.  We drove 12 more miles and delivered her there safe and sound - all of us.  It was hard not to keep thinking about what would have happened if she got out.  We laughed some when we thought it was safe to laugh about it. 

We headed back home and loaded Roxie up just as easily.  This time we were more prepared to secure her in there better.  We only had 2 miles to drive but we weren't taking any chances.  All went very smoothly this time.  By now Roxie has probably met the father of her future babies.  Tonight the idea of raising more pigs seems like the last thing we should be doing but the ball is already in motion.

I wish I had a video of Velma hanging over the trailer door about to escape. When I said as much to TE he said, "no, this is something we want to forget".  I think it will be impossible to forget this.  We learned from it though.  Next time we'll build a heavy duty cage into our pick-up and also a ramp to lead the pigs into it.  No matter how tame they are, they're powerful animals.  I should mention, last night, as a back up plan, I loaded the pigs into the back of my station wagon one at a time.  I put plastic steps up to the back and, easy peasy, they climbed in.  Yes, I know I should have videoed this too.  Now I wonder if they would have destroyed our car had I closed them in there. 

So, it's done.  Our pig pen is empty for about a month when Roxie will return, hopefully pregnant. 
I will move her house and fence to greener pastures where she can prepare a new garden while this area will be growing sweet corn and other grains. 

Stay tuned for Pigs, Part 2, a comedy.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Pigs' day out

Yesterday we got our first, and hopefully last, snow - probably about 5 inches.  Even I have to admit, being the snow-scrooge that I am, that it was a beautiful snow.  The day before was in the 60's and today was in the 50's so a snow day in the middle is just fine.  Most of the snow is already gone. 

When I got out of bed I looked out the window to see how much snow we got.  Running in the field were two happy pigs.  Their one ribbon of electric fence got weighed down by the snow and they were able to walk over it and into the larger 10+ fenced in acres.  From the looks of it they had a good 'ol time frolicking about.  There were hoof tracks everywhere.

They found plenty of digging to do too.

Roxie and Velma are pretty tame now and come when I call.  Of course this probably has lots to do with food but I prefer to think they want to be near me and when they hear my voice it has such a melodious sound they can do nothing but run toward it.  See for yourselves.
I'm sure you agree that was melodious.
The donkeys weren't in their proper place either and I wonder if it had something to do with the pigs being loose. They were on opposite sides of the fence but the donkeys aren't used to them being so close.  Their fence had also been tilted over but not to the ground so I don't know if they jumped it or got scared and ran through it.

It should be back near 70 degrees in a few days, just the way I like it, but I don't mind this brief little detour to spring.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

More interviews

It was rainy day today so most of the animals were hanging out near the barn.  I thought it might be a good time to get a few more interviews.  Unfortunately, both interviewees were a bit reluctant to speak into the flashlight.  I think they were onto me.

First let me tell you about Foggy.

I adopted him from a friend of a friend who had to part with her chickens because her new dog wouldn't leave them alone.  I have no idea how old he is but I think he's way up there.  Maybe someone can tell me by looking at his spurs.  They're so long but he never uses them.  I don't think Foggy would hurt a fly.
As you can see from his interview he may be a man of few words but he's a friendly fellow.

These are a few of his girls.

Another reason I think Foggy is quite old is I don't think I've ever seen him, umm, how do I say this, service the girls.  He does hang close to them and protect them though.  I have 3 roosters and all of them are gentlemen but Foggy is the most social of all of them.

Many of you remember my tales of Darla suffering through her abscess miseries.  Many tears were shed over this sweet little girl and she was well worth our investment in her.  Now she's a healthy doe, pregnant and due to kid in mid March.  She has developed an udder early for a first time mama and I have high hopes for her as a milker.  Usually she's quite the talker.   I don't know if it was the camera or what but she was a little shy for her interview. 

I can't wait to meet Darla's kids.

Monday, February 13, 2012


None of these are my babies but they sure are cute.  I went to some friends' today to watch their goat have babies.  They knew I was getting impatient waiting for mine so they were kind enough to invite me to share the excitement with them.   The mama goat was taking her good old time having these kids so first we went to look at their great pyrenees puppies who are about 2 1/2 weeks old.  They're getting so cute.

The puppies are making little barking and growling sounds now but you can't really hear them in this video because we're making so much noise.  Included in this video are some adorable human babies too.

Three hours after I got there the mama goat, Adeliade, had triplets.   The first one came out tail first so he was holding things up.  Once Kirsten pulled him out the others followed pretty easily.  Two boys and a girl.

I have 3 weeks to wait till any babies are born on our farm.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Facebook Critics

A few nights ago I had dinner with some girlfriends.  I have no idea how the topic of Facebook came up but I could see the looks of pity on their faces when I told them how much I enjoy reading my friends'  status updates.  I continued to try to convince them that it's a worthwhile network only to see more looks of disdain, "and to think we socialize with someone so shallow who has nothing better to do with her time". 

My friends didn't really say this but it's possible they thought it.  Admittedly, I have more free time than most of them and I know I spend more time on my computer than they do.  Sure, I could be doing other things like working, baking and laundry but who needs money, dessert and clean clothes?  Don't answer that question, James. 

I'm poking fun at it but I'm serious about how I think it's worthwhile, to me anyway.  I have 30-something cousins, most of whom I'd never have any relationship with at all if it weren't through Facebook, because we live miles apart and had lost contact as we all moved on with our lives.  My neices have had babies and now I get to see pictures and videos of their children whom I may not see for a year or 2 or 3.   I would not have gotten to hear an interview by a friend who recently had a book published.  Other friends post when they're having art showings or poetry readings.  A young man who stayed with us a few years back while he was hiking the Appalachian Trail posted something on Facebook that made me think he was in VA.  I contacted him via FB and sure enough he was here for several months and came to visit us one day.  If ever I need a laugh there's always someone on FB posting a hilarious cartoon or video.  Many folks I've sold goats to are my friends on FB.  I get to keep up with the goats and whatever else is happening on their farms.  I love that FB tells me which of my friends have a birthday that day so I can wish that person a happy birthday.  Who doesn't like to get 100 birthday wishes?  It's a way for your high school or college to find you to let you know when your reunion is.  I love being back in touch with friends from elementary school, places we used to live, coworkers from years ago.  It's a way to reach many people at once without having to send many emails.  I could go on and on but I won't.

Finally, Facebook is a place where I can post my blog entries and have many more visitors than if I didn't. 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Overly optimistic but under qualified

I must blog because my niece called me a slacker.

Last night James and I went to a local farmer's meeting.  A few of the men there came from generations of farmers.  It was in their blood.  It seemed they knew most aspects of farming from the good ol' days and today.  I wondered what they thought of the rest of us gardeners and folks who raised a few pigs, chickens and goats.  They were kind to us though.  I won't go into what the meeting was about but I will say our county extension office is really putting forth an effort to help local growers here.

I did not grow up with farming in my blood like these men.  My parents gardened and we always had dogs, a cat or some other small animal but it was far from a farming experience.  I tell you this so any farmer reading this will forgive me for my actions I'm going to tell you about next.  Remember, I'm making it all up as I go along.  I have no other experiences to draw from.

I've been putting a saddle on Earl, my 12 year old mammoth donkey for a few weeks.  He's never been ridden so I was getting him used to the idea of something on his back.  He seemed very comfortable with it cinched snuggly and walking around and followed my instructions. I thought it might be time to give sitting on him a shot.   I thought James should be there with me in case I got hurt.  He held Earl on the lead while I climbed on some steps I use to get on donkeys easier.  He stood very still as I touched his back and put some pressure on the saddle, testing him.  I was nervous.  I kept saying, "ok, Earl, here I go.  I'm getting on you now", thinking that would prepare him for what was to happen next.  Just as I was swinging my leg over him he got scared and began walking away.  I ended up sitting on his behind, which was rather comfy but not where I wanted to be.  He ran about 5 steps then stopped.  Ran 5 more steps then stopped.  I don't know how many times he did this but I hugged the saddle in front of me and waited to see what was going to happen next.  I didn't want to climb onto the saddle in case it scared him more with my shift of weight.  Finally I slid off him and told him what a good boy he was and gave him a treat.  I'm thinking I should try again soon so he gets used to it.  What are you farmers thinking.  Nevermind, don't tell me.

I thought today would be a good day to take the goats across the road to the big field to graze.  I hate that our property is divided in two by a road but that's the way it is so I need to figure out a way to deal with it.  I put lots of treats in my pockets and let the goats out of their barn.  I led them to the gates that I had opened so I didn't have to fumble with them while I had the goats' momentum.  We got to the road and there were no cars coming so I ran across calling them all using my excited voice and bribing them with treats.  This almost always works with goats, but not when trying to get them to cross a road into unknown territory.  About 5 of them came across.  A few stopped in the road and some stayed in the yard looking panicky.  They took turns running back and forth, changing their minds as to who might like to give it a try.  One of them freaked out and ran back home and they all followed.  My buck slipped and fell in the road but made it back safely.  I put them back in their barn and familiar yard and they seemed very happy about that.  I was covered in sweat.  James was watching all of this from an upstairs window.  Too bad he didn't have a video camera.  I'm not sure I'll try this again until after kids are born.  I may have to drive them over there in our station wagon.

I couldn't give up.  It was such a beautiful day and in spite of my failure with the goats I was feeling optimistic.  I put Chy and Wilson's halters on.  These are my two standard donkeys who stay with my goats.  I thought they might also like to be in the field and meet my mammoth donkeys through the fence.  Once again I had gates all opened and ready for animals to pass through.  Chy and Wilson took much longer to coax to the gate but they did pretty well.  At least they didn't run back and forth, back and forth across the road.  They didn't cross the road at all.  They stood looking at the 4 boards that make a little bridge to the road and wouldn't put one foot on it.  The cars going by didn't scare them one little bit but they were not going to cross.  I think we stood there for 20 to 30 minutes.  Finally I thought they had enough so I closed the gates and took their halters off and let them roam the yard.  I'm thinking if I do this often they'll eventually get the courage to cross.  What do you think?   Nevermind, I'll figure it out.  Or I won't. 

Tomorrow it's supposed to rain so I won't be attempting any great feats that I have no experience with. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Tick season--already?

A friend called yesterday and asked if I knew anyone who had guineas for sale.  She found a tick on herself.  I called a friend who I got guineas from a few years ago.  This friend didn't have any but told me she found a tick on her shoulder the week before.  Today another friend came over to see my animals.  When we came in the house I told her I felt like I had bugs crawling on my head.  Sure enough, I found a tick.  It's February 1st and 70 degrees.  This probably shouldn't surprise me (finding ticks) but it does.

For one weak moment I thought I should get some guineas too but then I remembered how they tormented my chickens, and how they screached and made so much noise........and how they tasted so good.  Maybe we should get a few.  They really do a great job keeping bugs away.