Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween begger

We never get trick-or-treaters so it feels like any other night to us, that is, until tonight.  James and I were sitting in the living room watching a movie when our doorbell rang.  We looked at each other like, uh oh, we should have bought candy.  I went to the door and there stood a woman in street clothes, no costume.  I hate that some people think Halloween is a time when they can get candy without dressing up. 

I was about to tell her we didn't have any candy but before I could get the words out of my mouth she began telling me how her children hadn't eaten in 2 days and that she was hoping we could spare some food, anything at all.  I decided she was telling the truth so I went to our kitchen and got her some apples and a rabbit sandwich that was big enough to feed a family of 4.
We went back to watching our movie but I couldn't get this pitiful woman off my mind.

Today as I was thinking about what to blog about I realized there were some critters that live here that had never been dressed in a costume.  I would have put a mask and wig on it but I didn't have anything small enough to fit.  This is the best I could do.

I'm not the only one who tortures their animals by dressing them up.  Today I saw an animal costume that took way more time to make than any of mine.  Talk about too much time on your hands.  I don't think my donkeys would have stood still for this.

I was lying about not having any candy.  I bought a bag and we'll probably eat it all while we watch a movie tonight.  Happy Halloween, everyone.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

I hope you dance

The other day someone said to me, "you have too much time on your hands", after seeing my blog with the pigs dressed up.  I laughed to myself but thought, no I don't, I have just the right amount of time on my hands.  I get my chores done, I spend time with my animals and I have time to blog, go for a walk with James or watch something on Netflix.  My days are near perfect, really.  Twenty four hours seems just about right. 

James asked me the other day, "do you remember being happy as a little kid".  I told him yes, I think I've always been happy.  Blessed is definitely a word I would use to describe my life. 

I think most of you have heard this song, I Hope You Dance, by Lee Ann Womack.   If you don't know it, here are the lyrics. 

I'd like to think I choose to dance.  Remember my recent blog, Life's short, buy the pony?  That's what I'm talking about.  To me the pony or the dance is filling my days with what I love. 

Today we went to the funeral of our friend and neighbor.  We just got to know Don this past year.  One day last week he went out to hunt with some friends.  Later his friends found him slumped over in his deer stand.  He died that evening.  Hunting was one of the things Don loved.  I learned today after the funeral that his family had recently built some stairs up to his deer stand so it would be easier for him to climb into.  He called them, "the stairway to heaven".   How fitting, don't you think?  Hunting was one of Don's dances.   In the short time I knew him I could see he was a positive, happy man who did what he loved to do.

My Pop Pop is just that kind of man.  He's 99 years old and still one of the people I most want to be like.  I told James the other day before I began building my cow shed, "I want to keep going and going with projects just like Pop Pop".  I want to always have plans and dreams for the future.

My dances may not be pretty but I'm dancing.  Dance on, Don. 


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Lex says, "something's the maaaaatter"

I swear Lex was following me around the house tonight begging to be dressed up.  I think he's been reading my blog and got jealous.  Of all my animals, he's definitely the most patient when it comes to posing in  costume.  I took at least 30 photos of him in two different attempts. 

You may have to squint a little to get this one.

In this next one the ear looks a little better but his udder looks more like he's peeing a pink bubble.

My first attempt was even worse.  The udder was obscenely large and the shoelace wasn't at all discreet.   I do think the burlap ear was ok though.  I decided asking him to wear a beard might be pushing it.  He earned several treats for being such a good sport.  Afterall, how many dogs would stand having a rubberband wrapped round his ear, a balloon rubbing against his penis (especially after hearing me pop one) and fishing line tied around his waist?

Maybe we'll find a better costume for him.  

Monday, October 28, 2013


This was fun, but then pigs are always fun.

Pigs in a blanket, anyone?



Sunday, October 27, 2013

Buck Dynasty

If only you could smell me after what I went through to get these photos.

The plan was to put camouflage pants, shirt, headband and a beard on Cooper but as it was I was taking my life into my own hands just getting this much on him.  He's pretty aggressive this time of year and super stinky.  He likes the attention so he doesn't run away but he would love to make babies with me.  The shots above were the best I could do.  Here's what most looked like.
On the opposite end of the spectrum was Cato.  He's such a weak, gentle little fella who I feel like I'm going to break.  Dressing him up couldn't have been any easier.  I probably could have left his costume on him and he wouldn't have cared. 

Stay tuned for more Halloween costumes.

Time for a shower.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Ready - set - not so fast

Once things thawed this morning I was ready to get to work.  I was really hoping to get all my barn posts in the ground and plumb today - maybe even set in concrete.  Alas, this was not meant to be.  Remember how impressed I was with myself being able to call in my order to Lowes for lumber?  I'm now thinking it might be better to place the order face to face with a sales person.  Instead of 4 ten feet long 4x4s and 7 twelve feet long 4x4s, they delivered 11 ten feet long ones.

Trying to stay positive, I loaded up the ones to return and drug Lex along with me for the drive to town.  He doesn't like riding in the truck because the seat is slippery and he's worried he's going to fall.  I made him go with me because I wanted company.  I bribed him like a child.  "If you come with me I'll buy you a treat at Tractor Supply".  

A friendly young salesman in the lumber department asked if he could help me as soon as I walked in the door.  I explained to him how I didn't get what I ordered and would like to trade the 10' long boards for the 12s.  He looked confused and told me I should talk to someone in Customer Service.  A smiling young woman greeted me at the customer service desk, appearing eager to help me until I told her what I needed.  She pointed me in the direction of Returns where I was told (yup, you guessed it), ah yes, the Lumber Department can help me.  Why didn't I think of that?

The not-as-friendly-this-time lumber salesman saw me coming and had that oh-no-she's-coming-back look on his face.  In my most patient voice I made it clear to him and the cashier that they were going to help me and that this was not a big deal.  The salesman went to my truck and retrieved the unwanted boards while the cashier told me he needed the number off them so he could refund my money and then charge me for the new ones.  I explained that I had paid for the longer ones and not the short ones so there should be no money involved.  It took a very long time for this to get through his head.  The man behind me in line stood smiling and it was clear he understood completely.  I told the cashier to look up the order on the computer so he could see that I had paid for them.  He said he didn't know how to do this and he trusted me and it would be easiest if I just took my boards and left the store and never return.  Ok, he didn't say "never return" but he did admit it was easier to turn his head and pretend this didn't happen.  Really, I had no idea this would be such a big deal. 

I returned to the truck with my beautiful (if not perfectly straight) 12 feet long 4x4s in the back and a panting Lex waiting more patiently than I was behaving inside the store.  Actually, the whole time I was there I tried to smile and thank the Home Improvement team.  My voice may have betrayed my face though.

I grabbed what I needed at Tractor Supply and bought Lex his promised treat.  He didn't eat it till he got home because he was too nervous.  He did look very pleased with his bone when he could relax and enjoy it.  I finally got going at 3 PM and am pleased to report I got 7 of the 15 posts in and set in concrete.  Tomorrow is supposed to be a beautiful day and I just know it's going to be more productive. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Challenging myself and setting goals

This morning the lumber was delivered for my cow shed.  James and I have the holes dug for a 24' X 24' pole structure and I'm itching to get the posts in and set.  Hopefully tomorrow I can begin. 

In the past 6 years I've built a goat barn, a turkey/donkey barn, a small goat shelter, a mammoth donkey run-in shed, a mobile chicken coop and a pig shelter.  I've seen a change in the way I go about building now.  I have a lot more confidence in myself and consider myself a pretty decent builder-of-rough-buildings.  As a matter-of-fact, this time I didn't even go to Lowes to see what I might need.  I just made a list, called them and ordered everything I need.  Today I'll order the roofing and siding.  

There's no set date for me to pick Raisa up but I'm really excited to have her here so, like I did with the mammoth donkey run-in, I'll put some pressure on myself to get it done pretty quickly.  I work best this way. 

This got me thinking about what else I might get done or learn if I challenged myself or set some goals or deadlines.  I'd love to learn a foreign language in a set period of time, say, 6 months, but I feel like we need to be going to France or Spain to force myself to do something like this.  I've decided I'm going to start small.  Beginning today I'm challenging myself to write a blog entry every day for 30 days.  This one counts as one :)  It'll force me to write a little each day and maybe even look at my days and what I do a little differently.  Maybe, like building a barn, I'll get better at it and more creative.

Any ideas you may have to help me out with topics would be appreciated.   What might people like to know about Elk Cliff Farm?  I haven't done any animal interviews lately.  Maybe I'll do one or two of those.  Also, Halloween is coming up and I need to be thinking about animal costumes.

Talk to you tomorrow.


Thursday, October 17, 2013

Life's short, buy the damn pony

One of my donkey/horse loving friends posted this on Facebook today.  It kind of fits in with lots of other things I've been reading and watching lately.  My latest read is The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin.  There's so much in this book that strikes a chord with me and poor James has to listen to me blather on about it.  Don't you hate when someone says, "listen to this", and proceeds to read something to you without you saying, "sure, go ahead"?  Yeah, that's me.  Of course, when it comes to reading my blog you can click that little "x" above and ignore what I have to say. 

One of the things Gretchen says (yes, we're on a first name basis now) is all of us have a happiness set point; kind of like our weight, which we hover around.  Some of us are naturally happy and some are naturally not-so-happy.  We have a range though.  We could be on the high end of our happiness
set point or the low end, so why not do things to boost yourself to the high end of your range?  That's what her goal is in her happiness project, finding ways to propel herself to the top of her happiness set point.  I find the book humorous and I identify with much of what she says.  It also makes me think about what makes me happy NOW.

Something else I watched today got me thinking on those same lines.   It was a commencement address given by comedian, Tim Minchin.  In his speech he says not to follow your dreams.  He was talking about long term dreams and how sometimes it's best to do what you're excited about at the moment, really enjoy it and maybe what's in your periphery will be just the thing that could be your real happiness.  Kind of a "live in the moment" message.  Do what makes you happy.

I have a friend who has been fighting cancer for 4 years.   Yesterday I spent some time with her after she had taken a fall.  She was feeling disoriented for the 30 minutes I was there but when I went to leave she said, "I enjoyed our visit".  She was being polite even though she felt like crap.  I don't know what that has to do with living in the moment but it sure gives me thought to making the Best of every moment. 

I'm trying to think of what pictures I can include in this blog posting, afterall, everyone loves a blog with photos, right?

Well, today I went to visit a friend and meet her Dexter cows, which I've been considering getting one or 2 of.  I fell in love with Raisa, a red cow who let me give her scratches and milk her.  I want to bring her home and make her part of our farm family.   Of course this means we have to build a shelter for her and we'll need more hay and to learn all about cows and, how will I keep up with all her milk and her babies and....................

Life's short,  buy the damn cow.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Goats touch lives

My first goat was a saanen wether (neutered male).  I was 20 when he came into my life and I had no idea this funny goat would have such an influence on my life even though he was mine for such a short time.
Today I received and email from a cyber friend in my Mid-Atlantic Minis Yahoo group and I just had to share it with you. 

I had mentioned a few weeks ago, that I was approached to put one of my does in a movie. Well, I am excited to tell everyone what happened. We shot the movie in NYC and Queens this weekend. My doe Stella and a boy, named Chris were the protagonists for a short internet film called "scapegrace". It was done by a small production company and talented camera crew and director, called Kevin Hayden. You can see some of his videos on his website. I will let you know when the movie is released if you want to watch.

 Well, I must say it was quite the experience. Stella must have had her picture taken at least 500 times by passerbys in the 2 days. She was amazingly good about it all. Trucks, buses, cars, whizzing by, strangers touching her and posing with her. If I had charged $1 a photo, we would have made a ton.

Who knew that a goat in the city could cause such a commotion. It was very touching. I heard many, many stories from people who had memories of goats. A 75 yr old man originally from Yugoslavia, stood about 15 ft away, looked at her and shouted to me, "She is 5 or 6 years old". How do you know? I shouted back. "By the growth of her horns and the hairs on her nose," he replied. He didn't even have to look at her teeth. My vet isn't that good. Next thing you know we were deep in conversation about the herd of 12 white goats he was in charge of sheepherding at the age of 6 yrs old during WWII. Then the conversation turned to Tito and Stalin and how Tito survived Stalin's intended assassination plot.

 There was a young man from the Ukraine who grew up on goats milk and was thrilled to tell me his experiences. A woman from Asia, when she saw the teats with milk, gave me 2 thumbs up with a huge grin, as she passed by. Children in absolute awe. A woman from South America with a cup in hand pleading with me for just a small amount of milk for the baby in her arms. Many people around the world have a very strong belief in the immune enhancing qualities of goat's milk for children. I grew up in Italy so I knew where she was coming from. Unfortunately, Stella was tired and would not stand still for me to milk her. People calling out in Spanish, "Leche! Leche!"

 A woman passed by with a bicycle and stopped with tears in her eyes, petting Stella and recalling her childhood farm in Pennsylvania and the goats there and how much she missed them.

 Stella and I were literally mobbed and had to take refuge in the tinted glass van for breaks from the crowds, in between shoots. We arrived the 1st day in NYC at 7 am and by 9 am people had already seen her picture on the internet and were blogging about her. Stella was quite the sensation. A man from the islands stopped and told me he had been in NYC since 1976 and had never seen a goat there. He was grinning from ear to ear.

 Day 2 in Queens, I heard some old time cheese recipes, how to keep weight on her and several other tips from many old timers in that had been raised in Europe with goats. And one very kind man that stayed watching over her for hours until the end of the shoot, worried because I had not brought hay for her to lay down on, so she could rest comfortably. And when he touched her, her eyes closed in pleasure and she was soothed by his touch, as if she could feel, he was someone who really knew goats.

 What an amazing experience; I learned that there remains an intense memory of goats as companion, friend, family member, and supplier of nourishment and joy, that still resonates very deeply within the human psyche.
I'm so lucky to have the chance to have them in my life again. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

25 Years!

I've been married 1/2 my life.  That's so hard for me to believe.  It really doesn't seem that long ago.  That is, until I see these pictures of our wedding day.  Meet couple number 2.  I don't remember having a bouquet.  I think James' secretary gave it to me.  She was our only witness besides all the other couples and the judge.
Tonight we celebrated by going to one of our favorite restaurants.  The waiter took our picture.  I don't think James has changed much.  He's still the most handsome man I know.
Thank you, James, for the best 25 years of my life.  I'll have to keep blogging so I can post our picture 25 years older.  By then people probably won't be blogging.


I bought a little buckling a few days ago.  His name is Cato.  He's a sweet, timid little guy.

Cooper is getting up in years and I decided it was time to add some different genes to the herd.  Cooper will probably breed most of the girls this year but next year he's going to have to share the girls. 

Cato is very tiny and not exactly the picture of health right now.  He has a snotty nose and appears younger than his true age.  I have a doeling who's a month and a half younger than him but probably weighs at least 3 times what he does.  She's still nursing though so she's a stocky little girl.  I wonder if he was weaned young.   I bought Cato because of his mother and grandmothers' udders, which were beautiful from the pictures I saw of them.  I doubt he'll be ready to breed any of the girls this year because he couldn't reach them if he tried.  Also, everyone is bullying him.  I feel so sorry for him.  Even my girls who are usually gentle and sweet are being mean.  I hate that.  Yesterday afternoon and this morning I found him in the donkey barn.  At least Chy and Wilson are being kind.
It's funny how he was afraid of me for the first few days but would walk right under the donkeys without being scared.  He doesn't go out and graze with the others much.  He stays close to the barn.  I was tempted to put him in the large field with the other boys and big donkeys, thinking they'd be nicer than the girls,  but I want him closer to the house for now so I can keep an eye on him.  I'd like to get a little meat on his bones so next year he'll be the buck I'm hoping he can be. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

I belong here

I had so looked forward to all our trips this past month.  James and I returned 2 nights ago from Arizona, where we attended a really fun wedding of our niece and her partner.  Congratulations, Kate and Brittany  (eventually all our friends and family will end up on my blog).  I love this picture.  I didn't notice the shoes at the wedding.

It was fun being with James' family and I never really felt homesick or worried about what was going on at home, but there was something missing......animals.

When we were in Vermont a month ago the B&B we stayed at had goats, mini horses and a llama.  The owner was also considering buying a mini donkey so she and I talked lots about that.  In the Outer Banks 2 weeks ago I had my grandpuppy, Maia, to keep me amused.  We did see some wildlife on a hike in Tucson but it wasn't exactly cuddly, cute or amusing like livestock and dogs.

In case you can't tell from the picture, this is a rattlesnake. 

Because I had no one to talk to about pigs, goats, donkeys or cows (I know I have no cows but I like to read about them), I found myself on the internet reading what others had to say about what's going on with their animals.  It's an addiction, I admit it. 

We've been home 2 days and it feels so good to be surrounded by our critters.  This morning in bed I thought I heard music - little snippets of it.  After some time I realized it was our roosters.  I mentioned this to James and he said he thought it was music too.  A short time later I heard the honk of my donkeys calling me to get up and feed them.  There was no mistake about what that noise was but it was still music to my ears.