|Big Pink Farm||
When seven of your dairy goats give birth within the space of four days, it gets a little crowded in the barn.
Many people think that farm life is so peaceful and quiet, but to me, it's noisy. I don't think it's because I have exceptional hearing, but rather because I have an exceptional sensitivity to sounds. So just for fun, I tried to capture some of the animals sounds on the farm. The goats, chickens, cats, and wild birds were cooperative, but the cow steadfastly refused to make any noise except for some sniffing.
(I should point out that he's not really a cow, per se. He's a castrated male Holstein 9 month old calf that we're raising for meat for the freezer. It's just easier to say cow. We raise one like him every year. Because he's a dairy breed, we won't get the same yield as a beef breed, but for us, it's a good way to feed a large family.)
Enjoy the noise!
And now for something completely different, a very old and very silly cartoon just in time for Halloween.
I was late to school today. We're nearing the end of the semester, and it's starting to feel like I'm late for everything, even my thoughts.
In between classes I took a moment to check my Facebook on my phone. Facebook likes to remind me of things that I posted about last year, the year before, and so on. Naturally, since I'm a sucker for nostalgia, I took a look.
Apparently, my goats have an organized and coordinated effort to escape their shackles. And also, apparently, I write about it every year.
You might chalk this up to random happenstance, but I'm not so sure. I think there might be an animal conspiracy at work here. Further evidence (like I need more, because hello? I think I made my case already): tonight at dinner I learned that one of the lambs broke out of his enclosure shortly after I left for school.
They're coming for you. You've been warned.
This is Sally. In October of last year, Sally and her herdmates were each bred to our Lamancha buck so that in the spring, they would have babies. And we would have milk.
(Goat pregnancies last about 5 months, so the time is near for babies to be born.)
A couple of weeks ago, Calvin -- my intrepid 10 year old goat farmer -- told me that Sally wasn't eating like the rest of the goats and that she spent much of her time lying down.
This is almost always bad news.
Fearing the worst, I went down to the barn to check her out. I did a thorough examination and could find nothing wrong with her. Her temperature was fine. Her eyelid color was nice and pink. Her poop looked normal. She wasn't in pain, and her respiration was normal. She was chewing her cud, and when offered food, she ate it with gusto.
So I concluded that she was just in the very end stages of pregnancy and didn't have the energy to fight the other goats for access to the hay feeders. And then I prayed that I was correct in my diagnosis.
This past Sunday morning, as the family was scrambling to eat breakfast, get dressed for church, and finish all the animal chores, Calvin hollered from the door: "SALLY HAD BABIES!"
Well alright then! All hands on deck in the barn!
Three babies! That's a lot for a goat. It's not unheard of, but it certainly explains her general malaise for the past two weeks.
All's well that ends well.
I'm just going to leave this here, because hello? Baby goats!
The cuteness is strong. Resistance is futile.
It sounds simple enough. Let's break it down.
Step 1: Open the gate and try to herd goats into the farthest corner of their yard and then distract them while one person opens the feeder and directs the tractor operator.
Step 2: Watch in horror while one stray baby goat runs UNDERNEATH the tractor that is delivering the bale. Gesture frantically. Consider vomiting. Squeeze eyes shut so as not to witness the carnage that is about to ensue. Heave a sigh of relief when baby goat outruns the tractor and finds mama.
Step 3: Cast nervous glances over your shoulder at the progress with the bale while still trying to distract goats who, at this point, are getting wise to your game. Remind your helpers that they're not here to monkey around or throw snowballs at each other. Focus, people!
Step 4: Sensing that the goats are about to mutiny, stare at the tractor operator and will him to work faster. Heave another sigh of relief when, just like that, the bale is placed and the feeder is secure. Watch the tractor leave the yard and close the gate. Let the goats do what they want.
Step 5: Walk away nonchalantly. What, me worry?
With the help of worms, of course!
The garden is well established, and if I was a more consistent blogger, you'd know what it looks like now. Very weedy. But aside from the weeds, everything is coming up gangbusters. Potatoes, tomatoes, cabbage, peppers, eggplant, lettuce, swiss chard, beets, green beans...it's all good. I just don't have photo proof yet, because I'm a slacker. So you get to see photos from over a month ago instead.
Gardens don't just plant themselves, of course. They need help. They need worms, bees, chickens and humans.
<knock knock knock> Anybody in there?
It's like I fell off the planet or something. Roger reminded me that I haven't posted anything new here in over 3 months. Oops! We've been busy, of course, so this entry is going to be more like a string of random thoughts with accompanying photos.
The garden is just about spent, and I am glad for the respite. Despite the summer being rather cold and wet, we managed to put up a lot of tomatoes and other garden goodies.
After the cool summer, we're being spoiled with a warm fall. We still have lettuce in the garden! I've lost my enthusiasm for weeding the garden this late in the year, but the good news is that the weeds have lost their enthusiasm for taking over the world. We're peacefully co-existing for awhile.
We also had quite a challenge this summer keeping the poultry from being eaten by various predators. We lost a huge number of chickens - both layers and meat bird - and almost all of our turkeys before we finally won the battle. Hard lessons were learned and we're planning steps to take now to avoid a similar repeat of tragedy next year.
Perhaps the best proof I can offer that the year is winding down is that we've let the CHICKENS IN THE TOMATO GARDEN! That, my friends, never ever happens unless there's nothing left to harvest. Roger guards that plot of land ferociously. Chickens love to peck at ripe tomatoes and that is strictly not allowed while there is yet one tomato left on the vine.
In other news, we had a little bit of a water shortage scare here at the farm that prompted us to get off our duffs and do something really simple. Finally, we're collecting rain water. It's almost the easiest thing in the world to do, yet it took us years to do it and now we feel a little bit foolish about our hesitation. We installed gutters on both sides of the barn and connected reclaimed plastic tanks to each downspout. It takes less than 1/2" of rain to fill them both up to the top; 550 gallons of water collected just that like! In fact, a 1 minute moderate downpour yields at least 20 gallons of water that would have otherwise gone into the ground. Doh!
Collecting rainwater has become my new passion. Now instead of seeing cute little houses when I drive around the area, I see under-utilized gutters begging to be used for water collection. I'm full of zeal! Do it! It's easy! And eco-friendly! Here's how.
I'll see you next month! Meanwhile, I'm going to go stack firewood. Hahahaha! No, of course not; I'm going to have my minions stack firewood. Just as soon as I can find them.
Last year about this time I posted a photo of two silly Romeos, mugging for the camera with their blackberry-stained faces. I had kind of forgotten about that incident, until they reminded me with this. Yes, they thought it would be a real hoot to paint the baby.
In other news, we hired a guy with a backhoe to knock down our dilapidated old garage that served no purpose other than being a safe haven for wasps. It was creepy and ugly, and we're glad to see it go. There's nothing in its place just yet, but we are envisioning a day when we have a quaint farm stand there. In the meanwhile, it's just a crater. But, oh the possibilities!
We've had a lot of trouble with raccoons this year. I suppose it's about what you'd expect after two relatively peaceful years of the predators leaving our birds alone. But it doesn't make the losses any easier to bear. According to my friend Avis, hell hath no fury like a chicken mourned. She's right about that!
Never fear, the cat will protect the chickens. See? She means them no harm.
Oh, now here's something new to tell you all! Yes, we have bees now! If all goes well (and so far it has), we should have honey soon! Thanks to the Don Meyers Eastern Ohio Apiculture Project (you can google it because I don't have a nice link), we have two beehives in place and a little bit o' learnin' under my belt. Keeping bees has long been a dream of mine. The learning curve is very steep, but I'm really excited to be doing this.
Finally, I'd like you all to observe a second of silence to remember our pet duck who died tragically last week at the claws of a raccoon. We never set out to have a duck for a pet (I mean, really, who does that?), but this silly duck managed to wiggle his way into our hearts. Poor thing seemed to be confused about his species. When our dog was in the yard, he would run full tilt to chase him, nip at his neck, and kind of bark like a dog. When the turkey was his companion, he would follow his every step. When it was just him and the goats, he would cuddle up to the kids. And the chickens always made room for him at the feed trough. We miss him.
It is hard to believe that it has been one year since our website went LIVE! online. One year ago I was welcoming you all to our little space and now here we are again: one year older and hopefully a little wiser.
See you next month!
Much of the blame belongs to me, Alison. I am: Wife to 1 man, Mom to 10 kids, and Farmer to a great many critters.