Thursday, November 11, 2021

My Girl, Luti

 Today I said goodbye to one of the first 5 goats I began with. Luti was one and a half years old when I got her in 2009.  I can say with confidence she was the smartest goat I've ever owned, hence, she was the herd queen and everyone respected her. She was also my best milker. As a matter-of-fact, even though she hasn't kidded in 3 years, she still had milk in her udder this morning when the vet was checking her over. 

We don't know exactly what was wrong with her but she went downhill really fast overnight and had very little energy this morning and I could tell she was in pain. The vets ultrasounded her abdomen and had a very hard time understanding what they were seeing, but it appeared she had fluid in her abdomen and her bladder didn't look right. After I made the decision to put her down they asked if it would be ok if they did a necropsy on her so they might learn something. I said yes.  They called me later this afternoon to say we did the right thing. She was in bad shape and probably wouldn't have lasted much longer. In some ways, I felt really good about that. She had a very good life and I'm glad I owned her for most of it. 

Here's a photo of her in her younger years. What a sweet face.

Monday, June 7, 2021

Thunder BRidge, Our New Adventure

 I was going to begin a whole new blog for this, but I didn't have the energy tonight, so thought I'd just write about our new adventure here in Holes In My Jeans. We're getting many holes in our jeans these days so I suppose it's fitting to include it here.  

Many of our friends and family know we've been embarking on this crazy undertaking, but many of you may not. More than 7 months ago we made an offer on a piece of property 2 miles south of our home. After the long wait, today we are the proud owners of almost 100 acres and more than 30 buildings, first built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the '30s, and more recently it was the Natural Bridge Juvenile Correction Center and also a Big Brothers/Big Sisters camp, which closed their doors in 2009. More about that in another blog possibly.

I'll try not to be too long winded about this because I could go on forever.  For now, I'll tell you what our initial plans are for the property, though we have many dreams that may or may not come to fruition. First I'll say, the property is absolutely beautiful and the buildings on it and the work that needs to be done is overwhelming. It consists of 35 developed acres and 64 wooded acres bordering the Jefferson National Forest. Any pictures I post on here will not do it justice. 

I won't tell you the hoops we had to jump through to get to this point, but I feel like it will all be worth it one day. The first thing we plan to do is to set up a very small, primitive campground, where folks can experience camping like James and I remember doing when we were kids. We want campers to have space to enjoy the outdoors without being bombarded by close camp neighbors, loud generators and TVs, etc. In the wooded part of the property, where most of the campsites will be, are also 2 log cabins, 3 screened shelters and a pavilion with a bath house. We do have plans to have 10 RV sites in the clearing. At this point an RV could not maneuver in the woods. The tree cover is too low and the roads aren't wide enough. 

The rest of the sites in the woods will be tent and van sites, many of which will be in listening range of this creek.

Our son, Adam, will be hosting the campground and will live in one of the houses on the front part of the property. There are a handful of livable, albeit outdated, structures, along with a full gymnasium, commercial kitchen, auto shop, maintenance shop, ball fields, an obstacle course, a barn, barracks, sheds and on and on. 

James and I have already chosen the buildings that will be our art studios, which is pretty exciting. It will be nice to unclutter our home, which has become a dumping ground for canvases, art materials and to put it plainly, a general mess. 

Here are a few aerial views of the property. 

I have lots more photos of buildings and interiors but I'll save them for another post because it's getting late and this is getting longer than I had planned it to be. I just wanted to start somewhere so when we start taking videos and moving forward you'll know what I'm talking about. 

Way more to come. 

Monday, May 17, 2021

Baxter, he's a mess, but he's loved

I'll have to go back through my blog to see when it was that Baxter came to live with us.  He was a stray that had been at the SPCA for 3 months before we adopted him. He's not pretty, he snores, he runs away and pretends he's deaf when I call for him. BUT, it's impossible not to like him. Here he is looking like a demon, taken today after he returned from his adventure. 

We usually don't let him out unsupervised, but lately he's been so obsessed with a groundhog living under our barn, I'd come to trust he'd stay in the yard. That was a mistake. I'm a VERY slow learner. He and my son's dog, Maia, ran off the moment we turned our backs. They were gone maybe an hour and a half and we looked all over for them. Well, it seemed like we looked all over. 

I went to the street across the creek from us because that's where Baxter always goes when he escapes. It's the only way I know some of those neighbors. There are 3 neighbors, in particular, that he visits. They all know to call me or bring him back home if he shows up. It's embarrassing and a relief when they call. 

Well, today was no different. I drove to their houses to see if they'd seen him. They actually seem happy to see me and say, "oh, how is Baxter? I haven't seen him in a while". They promised to call if they saw him. It was unusual for him not to show up at their houses.

Well, the dogs came home without anyone having to bring them back. The funny thing is, around dinnertime I got a call from one of those neighbors, whose name I don't even know. She wanted to be sure Baxter made it home ok and that she was worried it was getting dark. I assured her he was ok.  During dinner there was a knock at our door. It was a man asking if we'd found Baxter. He said he was a dog lover and wanted to be sure Baxter was safe. Again, we don't know this man's name and he doesn't know ours. BUT, everyone knows Baxter's name. No one complains that he shows up there. He loves people and wags his tail and some of them let him in their house. 

He frustrates us to no end, but we love him and I'm glad others love him too. He's sound asleep right now  It was a big day. 

Friday, May 14, 2021


 I love days like today. First of all, the weather was great for working outdoors, which all 3 of us did. James was planting in the garden for several hours.  I'm not sure what he planted, but I'm sure it will be on our plates this summer.  His spring garden is doing really well. 

When he was done in the garden he glazed windows.  

A large portion of one of our sugar maples fell during one of our recent windy days, so Adam spent the day cutting it up, a job neither James nor I would want to do, nor have the strength for (at least I don't). 

I spent my time building a grate for a fire pit. It's made from parts of an old gate, a wood stove, and other random pieces found here and there. Don't look closely at the welds. They're not pretty, but they're strong and once it blackens from a fire you'll never notice my amateur welding job. 

I plan to make more grates for a project I'll tell you about in a future blog. They'll all be made out of scraps we already have. Can you say, "cheap"?

Maia and Baxter did their part by protecting us from the groundhog that lives under the barn. They're obsessed with it and determined to catch it. 

All-in-all, it was a very productive day.  Now we're beat. 

Friday, January 1, 2021

I Got The Farming Blues

Maybe my brother-in-law, Tim, can write me a blues song about how I'm feeling today. It's been a challenging past week and a half. Raising livestock for the past 11 years has generally been pretty easy, or at least, not frustrating enough to make me quit, though I do have a pretty short memory. More weeks like this past one might make me consider it though. I guess I'll begin with Rory. My last blog posting was about having her artificially inseminated. The vet came out and ultrasounded her and she's not pregnant. This was just a small disappointment, since I knew that AI is only 30 to 50% effective. Also, we have so much else going on here I'm not sure I really need a cow in milk anytime soon. At least that's what I tell myself. That same day we had to deal with something much tougher. Our beautiful, gentle goat, Butter, has been having terrible joint pain for the past year and it was getting too hard to watch her struggle, so when the vet was done checking Rory, he very gently helped us say goodbye to her. It took me two days to get out of that funk and realize that it was a relief not to have to see her in pain anymore. Butter was 6 1/2. About 4 days ago James and I returned from a walk to find feathers - lots of them - along the side of the driveway. We followed them until we found a dead hen under a bush. We've had a very large hawk hanging around and I'm sure that's what killed her. Adam had just left with Maia about 45 minutes earlier, so the hawk waited for Maia to be gone to strike. I don't know if hawks are afraid of dogs or not, but I assume they're pretty smart. I hope today was the last of our bad luck. I've been waiting for our pig, Gretchen, to have her first litter. I had her due date written down as the 28th. Her udder was just beginning to show then so I figured she had another 3 weeks to wait, though her backside was giving me different information than her udder. I have less experience with pigs farrowing than goats kidding, so I never totally trust my instincts. This morning I went out to feed, and Gretchen met me at the fence with all the other pigs. Her udder looked pretty much the same. I entered the gate to feed the dogs and saw a dead piglet nearby. It was cold and rainy here today so this piglet didn't stand a chance without its mom nearby. I went in search of others. Mayday led me to another one far across the field. I don't know if Gretchen just dropped it there and went on, or if the dogs carried it there. A little while later Mayday showed me another one that had been in the straw in the run-in shelter. There were no live piglets. I checked Gretchen and she did have milk, but not a lot. She acted perfectly normal and showed no signs that she'd been in labor recently. I thought I still felt babies in her, but couldn't be sure. I gave her a shot to help her pass any dead babies, if there were still more in there. When I last checked on her late this afternoon she was still rooting up the ground and behaving like all the other pigs. Not a great way to start the new year. Tomorrow is a new day, it's supposed to be warm. I'm going to reset my frame of mind, look forward to the new year and hope for brighter days.