Sunday, April 27, 2014

The goats are excited about our geo-thermal system too

Our very old oil furnace broke 3 winters ago and James and I couldn't decide what to replace it with.  We heated with wood as best we could until we finally settled on a geo-thermal heat pump.  This winter was cold enough to convince us we had to do something before next winter.   The digging began last week.  It took them two days to get the very long, very deep trenches dug and pipes put in the ground and covered up.
There were 2 trenches that were 300 feet long so they had to go into the goat field to make it a full 300 feet.  The kids loved the dirt piles.  I thought they might fall in the trench but they never did.

The only one not happy about this work being done was Keri.  Usually Keri loves all people.  She's an in-your-face kind of dog.  She hated these men.  I think it had something to do with them bringing that loud, giant piece of machinery in with her goats.  She barked and barked and barked at them so I had to lock her up in a separate fence.  I was a little embarrassed.  I said things like, "she never does this".  I'm sure they didn't believe me.

The digging is done and now we wait for the inside equipment to come and duct work and interior mess to begin.  We're not going to know how to live with heat and air conditioning.  Or maybe we'll wonder how we ever lived without it.

I think 2 or 3 of the goat kids will be going home with one of the men when the job is done.  His wife came to see them this week.  They will be pets for their grandchildren to play with.  They really want LG, my bottle baby.  

Friday, April 25, 2014


I belong to a VA farm bartering group on Facebook.  It's fun seeing what people put on there.  One day I saw a Tamworth barrow for trade.  The young lady was interested in trading for lots of different things, one of them being goats.  I have lots of goat kids that need homes this year so I said I'd be interested in trading 2 kids for her pig.  Actually, now I'm thinking the ad was on Craigslist.  Whatever.  She was two hours away and I wasn't really interested in driving that far since I didn't really need another pig.  Strangely enough, her grandparents live just minutes from us and she makes the trip this way pretty often and said she'd deliver Bacon.  That's the name she gave the pig.  I've decided to change his name to Kevin Bacon.  I think he has a strong resemblance to the actor.  Don't you agree?
He took to the name right away :)

I thought this summer we might have a pig roast and if we were going to do the slaughtering ourselves it would be good to start with a pig I hadn't raised from a little guy.  I'm not sure it's going to be any easier though because he's a friendly thing, rolls over for tummy rubs just like some of my other pigs and follows us around talking.  He's smaller than I expected him to be and super hairy.  I've never owned a hairy pig.  He's the color of Raisa.  Unlike our other pigs, his ears are erect.

Being the gracious hostess she is, Roxie promptly welcomed him by tossing him 8 feet in the air with her nose.  He didn't seem too upset by it.  Later the large black hogs chased him and were biting at him.  Baxter took his turn showing him how great his herding skills are.  Today I see they're leaving him alone and he's grazing closer to them.  It will probably be just a matter of time before he's sleeping with them, making their quarters even tighter.  It's funny how they choose to sleep all crowded together.  These arrangements will probably change soon.  Mickey appears to be heavy with piglets.  Every day she gets rounder.  She seems more winded and stares off into space.  Her udder is not developed yet so I really have no idea how soon it will be but I'm going to guess in the next couple weeks.
It's going to be fun having little spotted pigs running around.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Arrowhead Lodge

Have I ever written about Arrowhead Lodge?  I can't remember.

Four miles south of our house and up the mountain a ways is our cabin, Arrowhead Lodge.  It's what brought us to VA 16 years ago.  We bought it as a vacation get-away and then moved here about 5 years later.  I think that's right.

We moved to the house we're in now 8 years ago.  James can correct me if I'm wrong.  I'm bad with dates.  We go to the cabin/lodge every now and then, mostly when we have company staying there or if  James wants to practice piano.  Tonight we had dinner there.  We cooked out on the bbq pit.  No meal tastes bad cooked on this stone pit.
It was a lovely evening and Possum Run was hopping like Easter Bunny on a mission.  This creek is just out the back door of the cabin and there are 4 bedrooms just above it.  It's a great noise to be lulled to sleep by.

When Adam and his cousins were little we used to play Pooh Eggs in this creek.  Do you remember the episode of Winnie the Pooh when Pooh and his pals played Pooh Sticks?  The object of the game is to drop  sticks (or plastic Easter eggs) into the creek on one side of the bridge and see whose stick/egg comes out on the other side first.  In the case of the eggs, they often got caught in eddies and took forever to make it out without being helped along.  I feel certain Adam and his cousins have fond memories of this like I do.

Every now and then I tell James we should sell the lodge but on nights like tonight I'm reminded of how many special times we've had there and wonder if I'd miss it.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Wrestling for milk

Raisa's little guy, Windsor, is doing great.  He's a friendly little thing and seems to like us.

It appears he's only nursing on one quarter so her udder has grown to great proportions and it looks painful to carry around.  The past 2 nights we decided we should milk and relieve Raisa of her burden.  To get her in the barn we have to carry Windsor in there and put him next to where we want her.   I couldn't get a good picture of this.  I'm going to have to train him to a halter and lead because soon we're not going to be able to carry him.

Tonight was a bigger battle than last night.  Windsor seemed content to hang out with us.  Raisa knew what we were up to and didn't want to share her milk.  When she did get in her stanchion and tied in she wasn't happy and threw a hissy fit.  Many times she tried to jump out the small window.  She didn't, however, kick me, which I appreciated.  James watched and said he worries about my head.  He said he can see why people choose goats to milk.  She's been pretty wild and a helmet wouldn't be a bad idea.  Each night we got between 2 1/2 to 3 gallons of milk from her and she still had more.   She's a very dairy Dexter.  We're not drinking her milk yet and this morning the pigs enjoyed last nights' bounty.   I wonder how long it will take for Raisa to relax about being milked again.

The goats are really producing well this year too.  I'm not locking kids up at night so I'm taking whatever milk they leave me in the mornings.  This morning I got 2 gallons of milk from 4 girls.  That's pretty incredible.  I wonder what I'd get if I separated the kids at night.  I'm having a hard time keeping up with all this milk as it is.  I made 2 batches of peppermint ice cream today.

I like the way Raisa's barn looks at night with the lights on.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Raisa's bull calf

I knew when Raisa didn't meet me at the barn this morning that she had her baby.  I went out earlier than usual because I had a feeling today was the day.  Sure enough, there was a little black bundle on the ground.  I must have gotten there shortly after the birth because he was still very wet and she hadn't passed the afterbirth.  I wasn't sure what to expect from her or the baby since I've never been around new mother cows or calves.  I was pretty sure she'd be ok with me touching the baby but still I was cautious.  I didn't want to assume she'd be like my goats.  We talked a while (yes, WE did).  I gave her some scratches then got close to the baby with little reaction from her.  Neither of them cared that I made a fuss over him.  I saw very quickly that he was not a girl.  And, yes, I'm sure this time.  I checked more than once.  I even held him in my lap.  Check out this adorable face.
Like Raisa, he seems pretty long legged for a dexter.  

We were gone most of today so I only got to spend an hour or 2 with them.  I took Raisa buckets of water and some hay so she wouldn't have to leave him.  She was still standing in the same place when we left 5 hours later.   We went to see a Shakespeare play this afternoon - The Merry Wives Of Windsor, at the Blackfriars Playhouse.   Maybe I should name him Windsor, Shakespeare or Blackfriar.  
I've also considered Oscar, Stanley, Backus or Monk or.......  

I'll get some more pictures of him tomorrow when he's dry.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

How can I make Jiminy a feminine name?

This morning I let the goats out in a more lush part of the lawn to graze.  I sat down against a tree and watched.  It's very relaxing to watch goats graze, even when kids are using you as a jungle gym.  Jiminy followed Cricket across my lap and as he passed me I thought, hm, his back end looks more like a girl's than a boy's.  I picked him up, studied his underneath and oops, poor thing, I've been calling her a him for a month now.  Even now, knowing she's a girl, I can't stop seeing her as a him.
Looking at Cricket's face there's no mistaking she's a girl.  She has a very feminine face, I think.
It has taken me a while to remember Pessa's kid is a girl.  She reminds me so much of last year's Paul.  She's stocky and big.  Her name is Mrs. Butterworth.  She'll probably look much like Pessa when she's grown.  If we had more space I'd keep her.   Like her mom, she's very low key.
Three kids have already gone to new homes and 2 more have been promised to someone but won't leave until they're weaned.  The only doeling I plan to keep is Luti's girl, Lucinda.  She's polled, which means she won't grow horns.   Neither of her sisters were polled.
Another thing I find relaxing is sitting in the field beside Raisa listening to her chew.  I think she likes my company too.  I wipe her eyes and keep the flies from them.  Watch this video again and again and then tell me if your blood pressure doesn't drop.

I think Raisa is going to have her calf very soon.  Her udder is getting huge and her body is showing signs that it's getting close.  I really want to be there for the birth but I have a feeling I'm going to miss it.  I missed half the goat births this year.  That has never happened.  I'm slipping. 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Ok, so it was a bad joke

To those of you who believed my April fool's joke and were worried or mad, I'm sorry.   I seriously thought everyone would figure it out.   I received a few emails, FB messages, texts and a phone call from worried people.  Some saying they were praying for me or concerned.  Also, thank you for the virtual hugs.  I haven't had people this worried about me since I posted "Bad News From The Doctor's Office", as a headline 3 years ago.  Of course, several of you didn't take me seriously because you probably don't believe half what I say anyway, which is probably smart.

Last week I felt like quitting and I know I'll feel like that again but there are too many things I love about raising animals to let a few bad weeks make me give it up.

Lily's two wobbly boys didn't survive.  I'm certain they were premature.  They never did stand, had very soft hooves and had no teeth.  I've milked Lily every morning since her terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.  She seems to be doing amazingly well, though I watch her like a hawk, so sure she's going to come down with an infection.  She is a wonderful milker and so well behaved on the milk stand.  I'm so proud of her.  She's skinny as all get-out though and I can't wait to see more meat on her bones.

Sunday was another very bad day.  I think it was Friday night when I went out to feed the bottle babies in the middle of the night, I found I had left the extra lock off the feed stall latch.  Remember this?  Well, I'm still just as forgetful and this time it was more distastrous.  Not only did Luti open the stall but she removed the lid from the trash can and must have filled herself up until she was sick.  I'm sure everyone else helped themselves too but they didn't get sick.  On Sunday morning she was down in a very bad way.  She didn't even want to lift her head.  By late afternoon she was unresponsive and I could hear fluid in her lungs rattling.  I dosed her with Penicillin and Banamine and cried over her and begged her to live.  Luti's only 7 years old and I had hoped to have her around for at least another 3 years.  She's our herd queen and the other goats really rely on her.  I was so sure I'd find her dead the next morning.  I couldn't believe it when I saw her holding her head up.  She was still under the blanket I had covered her with the day before (it was chilly and windy).  She drank two swallows of water and I was never so happy to see a goat drink than I was then.  She couldn't walk because she was so weak but by afternoon she would walk 5 steps then fall.  By nighttime she could go 5 to 10 yards.  Today she's out grazing but she's still very weak and spends more time in the barn than I'd like.  She doesn't want to eat anything but grass and hay.  Well, she did eat a little garlic bread and crackers I offered her, but no grain.  She's also letting her kids nurse and I'm hoping they bring her back into milk because she dried up a lot while she was sick.  I had been bottle feeding her girls while she was down.  I felt very guilty about Luti getting sick because it was all my fault.  

Tila is due in a week.  She's our last girl to kid.  Oh, how I hope she has only one kid and all goes smoothly.  I'm tired of our kitchen table looking like this.  I don't want to see a syringe for a long time.
I questioned what kind of master I was to my goats this week and can't imagine how I could take care of them if I had to work outside the home and leave them every day.  I don't know why this year was so much harder.  A friend told me to expect a bad time of it every 3 years when farming.  I need to go back and look at my blog from 3 years ago and see what happened.

Happy April 2nd. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

I'm done farming

I've shed many tears and lost lots of sleep over that past week, stuff I haven't shared on Holes In My Jeans because I've been too sad to write.

I'm not going to go into detail except to say it's just too hard and I've decided to sell all my animals except our dogs and parrot.

I'll write more when I feel ready.  I just don't know what I'll have to write about.