Monday, December 29, 2008

Warning: Terminal Cuteness

You knew it was coming, right? Sit back and enjoy a buttload ('ll see) of adorable baby goat pictures.

Ringo chewing up the seed catalog:

Doing his Dumbo impersonation:

Climbing up Maddy:

Jumping off Maddy:

Kicking up his heels:

Playing "Push" - a game we'll wish we never taught him when he weighs 170 pounds and has horns!:


Looking all innocent... he's not fooling me!

Passed out on my butt (I can't believe I just put my ass on the internet!):

So far, he's the best pet we've ever had in the house, even though I have to sweep up the hay and pine shavings a hundred times a day!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Surely the resemblance is just coincidental

Maybe you have to see his mannerisms, but Ringo is looking more and more like Sid the Sloth from Ice Age. Perhaps a name change is in order. You decide.

Friday, December 26, 2008

and Ringo was his name-O

One of the side benefits of living on the farm is that I can buy extra-cool Christmas presents with fur and four legs. This newest addition to the farm is allegedly the start of the "dairy" herd. He'll actually be wethered and become a pet, but he'll live with the dairy herd. His name is Ringo (Ringoat, actually, but it sounds the same) in honor of Maddy's newest music craze.

Since Christmas we've ditched the diaper idea, because it's more trouble than just putting him in his box every time he stands up. He's actually pretty predictable about when he's gonna pee.

Two little Nubian dairy girls have been reserved and are due to be born at the end of January. They should be adorable too. :)

Monday, December 22, 2008

Jonesing for dairy

Because we can't seem to get the silly cow bred, and because we're going to have at least 37 (!!!) unmilkable meat goats after March, we've decided to waaaaayyyyyy downsize the Boer herd and switch a big proportion over to dairy goats. (I'm still reserving the right to hogtie a Boer mama and milk her by force. I want milk, dammit!)

We'll still keep several of the Boer girls for meat and sell Mo and buy a Nubian buck. To get us started, I've reserved two baby girl Nubians from a great lady on the Homesteading Today forum. She's just over the state line in Arkansas (Yellville, Arkansas to be exact - cracks me up). The girls are due at the end of January, so we'll be making a trip south probably around the first of February. We'll keep these girls with Ringo and whatever billy goat we can find until they're old enough to merge with the Boer herd.

I'm a bit nervous about adding motherless babies to the Boers, but if necessary I can build a new goat shed in Buttercup's pasture and keep the new kids separate until they're a bit bigger. We'll have new Boer babies at the end of March, first of April. That may be a good time to move the new kids in with the herd. On the other hand, it might be the worst time of all due to defensive mothers. I just don't know. More research is in order! I'll probably also set up temporary quarters in the barn for little doelings, whatever billy we locate and the super secret Christmas goat. That will help us get these little does more friendly the wild child goats we currently have, and therefore easier to milk.

Here are the parents of the new babies we'll hopefully have in a month or so provided both ladies have little girls.

This is "Baby Girl" (I'm a HUGE sucker for spots). Sorry for the sideways picture, I can't seem to fix it:

This is "Jodi" - she's absolutely beautiful:

This is the sire, "Blueberry Pi". He's got very good bloodlines:

Monday, December 15, 2008

Gotcha, ya bahstid!

Score one for the good guys!

Craig showed his skill, bravery and all around redneckiness today with his masterful kill of a terrorizing coyote. This particular fellow brazenly came up to Buttercup's water tank for a drink. As my computer is in front of a window looking out over the field, I saw him and shouted, "Coyote!". Actually, I think I just blubbered some nonsense syllables because I was so shocked that he came up that close to the house in the middle of the day. Craig grabbed the gun and took care of bidness.

I used to think there was a way that we could peacefully co-exist with the beautiful creatures, but after many losses of livestock we're drawing the line. Buttercup was terrified and trembling. I'm sure she now adores Craig more than ever, if that's even possible.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Did the deed.

No pictures in this post - you'll thank me later!

We finally got around to it and butchered a goat. I'm proud to say we did an excellent, if slow, job. His final moments were peaceful and stress-free. (I covered his ears when we shouted "Dead goat walking! on the way down to the creek.) Craig did a good job on the kill.. no pain at all. He lived a great life, died clean and made his contribution to the farm.

I'll spare the gorier details, but it wasn't as bad as I thought. After my initial townie dismay wore off, it was actually kind of interesting. It was also a good feeling to be able to see the clean, healthy organs and know that the herd is in excellent health.

We're experimenting with aging meat as well, and this first butchering will not be aged. The next one we'll age for 2-3 days, and another later for a week to see what difference it makes in the meat. I'm currently monitoring temperatures in a room in an old trailer that we're using for storage to make sure we can successfully set up a cold room that doesn't get too cold or too hot for safe aging. Hopefully this will work. Otherwise I may have to send the next ones off to the butcher shop for processing which defeats the self-sufficient goal.

I'm happier to report that goat meat isn't bad at all. It's kinda tough, but that could be due to the lack of aging. Even braised in a 200 degree oven for over four hours it was still pretty chewy.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Whose woods these are, I think I know

I love the woods. Always have. I remember as a kid "cutting across" from our house on Chestnut Ridge Road to Christine's house on Sand Creek Road through the woods and hoping like hell I was right about which way the sun came up. (Those who know me will understand my lack of navigational ability and the importance of which way I was going.) And thinking it cool finding planks someone else had nailed to a tree chasing the lofty goal of building a tree house. And stopping for a couple of minutes to swing on the grapevine. Really... I love the woods.

One of my very favorite features of these Ozark "woods" are the flat-ish granite "outcroppings" with a surrounding cleared area. Those are the best places to cop a squat, build a little twig fire with the lighter you snuck out of the house and roast a marshmallow that you snagged when you grabbed the lighter. They're also good places to practice your clarinet when Mom and Dad are past the point of squeak overload. The clarinet case, handily enough, was a great place to secret the lighter and marshmallows - but don't tell my Mom. :)

The woods here is no less awe inspiring and peace bringing than the woods I grew up in. They're actually very similar, except our homestead is a bit hillier. Right down to those granite campsites! I've posted this picture before, but here's Craig on my favorite outcropping:

Behind me in the picture above (I'm taking the picture) is an awesome "Bent Tree". The stories I've always heard about bent trees are that the native Americans bent saplings to point to water. I have no idea if that's true, or if there's some other explanation - maybe neighboring trees dying and falling on the sapling, then rotting away. There's more magic in the native American version, so that's the one I'm sticking with. I did some research and found that the Osage tribe was pretty active in this area - I fully expect to find arrowheads and other artifacts this spring. Here's the bent tree:

Maddy and I followed the direction the tree was pointing and found a creek, but it was just a normal spring/fall creek like all the others in these hills. I wish there was a way to tweak these copious wet-weather creeks to better serve drainage and irrigation needs - that's a research topic for another time. If you were to stand by the bent tree and look in the direction it's pointing, it does look very path-like... see below:

There are a couple other features in this particular spot that make me think folk have lived and played here.

One of the features that puzzles me is the marring of the granite on some of the big rocks. There are grooves that look like they've been scratched into the rock. Now - granite's pretty darn hard, so this could be nothing man or animal caused. I'll be experimenting to see if I can scratch up some granite to match the markings shown below, or see if I can find other stones with these grooves in them. For now I think I'll pretend that someone sat here and ground acorns, hickory nuts and black walnuts into meal with another stone. :)

The other thing that makes me go "hmmm" about this area is the rock cairn below. I have no idea if it's anything at all, or a natural deposit of stones, someone more modern playing around in the area, or a Sidhe castle, but it's pretty honkin' cool! All the granite stones around the area are just beautiful. It would seem that there should be a market for all this granite, opening up another revenue stream. But, by the time you could transport them anywhere that didn't cost the moon any customer you speak to would say, "Buy those boulders? Hell, no! But while you have your truck here, could you pick up all those rockpiles in my field?"

Just for fun, here's a satellite photo of the area. The outcropping is the red square and the bent tree points the direction of the white arrow. (Terraserver rocks for doing fun and cool things with satellite maps of your homestead!)

We do want to do a good bit of development of the farm, but you can bet that I'll be leaving a good portion of the woods intact for my own peace.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Goat Games

The girls wait patiently for their turn to torment the cat.

Monday, December 1, 2008

They're out! Wait.. they're in.. no.. out... nope... in

It's been an interesting few days trying to get the puppies settled in with Abby. They were pretty sick with roundworms (gross) and we didn't get Bear in time to save him. Jack, Julia and Gizmo are all doing well.

Trying to get them relocated to the goat yard housing is proving tricky. We've reinforced fencing about 10 times and still the little buggers find a way out. I wouldn't think that huge old Jack could fit through 4 x 4 woven wire, but somehow he finds a way. Please take a moment and look at this photo and tell me how that happens:

Even with all the fur, that's still a lotta puppy belly. (Dontcha just want to tickle it?)

After each fence repair, we sit with bated breath in the living room waiting for the scratch on the door and the whining in the mud room. Or, we step out the door to go feed something and there they are on the front porch, waiting to be let in. Back to repairing fences. Lather, rinse, repeat.

I'm not sure at this point if the fences are all fixed, or if they just are liking the goat yard, but they haven't been down to the house in a while. They have a wonderful shed to hang out in, all the goats they could possibly want to torment, and good old Abby showing them the ropes, so maybe they're over it now.

Abby seems to find Jack her favorite, she kinda likes Giz and she tolerates Julia. She'll come around, I think. She tries to take them out to the field with her when the goats go out to graze on what's left of the forage in the field. Of course, being puppies, they're distracted by every leaf blowing and every bird squawk they hear. Abby finally gives up and heads on out to the pasture, leaving them in the yard. That's fine, though, she's at least trying and they're really too little to be out in the field yet.

Julia will eventually move into a new yard and fence that isn't yet built in order to guard the waterfowl. She needs some basic training with Abby first, and then some special forces training from me on guarding ducks and geese, not eating them. Should be fun!

Speaking of fun, how about a funny dog ear picture?

Friday, November 21, 2008

I totally jinxed it

I knew I shouldn't have posted... I KNEW it! Buttercup's in heat. Three AI events later (ok, only 2 of them counted) and we've got mucous and bellowing and everything. I give up.

I think it may be too late this year to breed anyway. We've already missed this one because I doubt Emily could come out this late. That would mean another three weeks or so before we could AI again. Then, IF she settles, the due date would be September 27th, giving us a little baby to deal with when next year's cold weather hits.

Frustrating and sad. Maybe I can get Craig to get me a bred cow or a cow in milk for Christmas. Whatever the case, I hate feeding an animal that isn't productive... especially at the cost it takes to feed Buttercup.


Dare I hope?

I'm almost afraid to post this for fear of jinxing myself, is day 23 of Buttercup's cycle and still no signs of heat. No bellering or fence pacing, which is good. Even better is no mucous showing (yes, I check... gross, yes, but necessary). Keeping my fingers (and toes and wrists and ankles) crossed for successful conception. The next few days will tell.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

New puppies!!!

Pile O' Puppies

Maddy has always wanted a Welsh Corgi. I think we need more Great Pyrs to help with the guarding (we have a predator problem that's proving difficult to overcome...more on this later).

So - as fate would have it - I've found the perfect solution!

Last night I picked up four half Corgi, half Pyrenees puppies. They are absolutely, positively adorable. And big. Really big. They're 8 weeks old and probably twice the size of our rat terrier, Spunky. (Spunky has gone to stay with Grandma Pat for a little while - I don't think she could handle the exuberance of these four pups. Even the cat is cowed, which gives me a secret little pleasure).

One thing I have discovered is that 4 big puppies = a HUGE mess.

There's one female who is short haired and relatively short legged... Julia.
There's a BIG fuzzy male, mostly white with a couple of black spots... Jack.
Another BIG fuzzy male, brown with a black face.... Gizmo
Another BIG fuzzy male, brown with just a black nose... Bear
(I'll post pictures this evening)

Craig introduced Jack to Abby today and she seemed very accepting, thankfully. Abby also seemed to fall in love with Gizmo, but she wasn't a big fan of Julia. Bear is not feeling so well and has a bit of diarrhea. So, Jack and Gizmo can head out to the goat pen soon for their basic guard training from Abby. Julia has been chosen to become the "duck duck goose" guard. On Saturday I'll build her a dog house and run out by the waterfowl pond so that she can begin to get acclimated to them. Bear will remain inside until he's feeling better, then we'll decide what his farm role will be.

After all that happens I can quit cleaning up poop and pee.... YAY!


Jack and Craig



Saturday, November 8, 2008

Rendering Lard

Rendered my first batch of lard today from the back fat of a pig we bought a few months ago. It's quite excellent if I do say so myself! It looks much browner in the picture than it really is. Once it cooled and got refrigerated, it turned nicely white as it should.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Into the woods

This week we spent mostly wandering the "back 40" which is entirely woods. Someday this will be several separate areas of woods and pasture and "picnic" areas, but it's going to take a lot of work to get it to that point.

The woods are magnificent, though.... here are some pics:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Yep, heat

Well, I was right - Buttercup's in heat again today. I suppose I really can't consider this AI number three, since we were dumbasses and totally missed the heat on AI number 1. So - we'll call this the second AI. If she doesn't settle this time, we'll have to make some decisions.

I might try putting her in with a bull and see if she can conceive naturally. We should probably have her hooves done first, though.

We're starting to get to the point where we need to wait a while so that she doesn't deliver in winter. I hate to go through all this work only to have a frozen calf. Of course, it's not really the calf I'm after, although a replacement heifer would be nice. I really just want milk.

Maybe I'll try the eyelash batting again and see if I can get Craig to buy me a cow that's already in milk. Then I won't flinch every time Buttercup moos.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Fall garden prepping

Mom and Dad came over today to give us a hand prepping the gardens for next spring.

We got the herb beds cleaned out (they had gotten overrun with weeds - totally my fault). I've planted garlic in one bed and my pitiful potted comfrey planted in the small herb bed.

We also got Pat and Brian's yard tilled, leveled, fertilized and grass seed planted.

Buttercup was acting odd today - dancing around and shying away a lot - I bet she goes into heat tomorrow. Dangit!

I'd also finally had enough of one particular goat getting his head stuck in the fence, so I duct-taped a piece of PVC pipe to his horns. Now he can't stick his head through at all. HA!

We found a decapitated Muscovy duck up by the small pond. I'm not sure what got him, probably a raccoon or owl from what I'm reading. We set some live traps. Craig has never seen a live raccoon, so I'm hoping we catch him.

Monday, October 27, 2008


Craig went out today to put two strands of barbed wire across the top of the buck pen so that we could move the girls back down there without them getting out again. We use woven field fence for the main fencing, with two strands of barbed wire across the top to make it higher so that they can't climb over. Goats may not be the smartest animals in the world, but they are sure skilled at escaping.

After he had strung most of the wire, he noticed a hole hole under the fence across the creek that goes through it. Of course, Mo wouldn't fit through there, but the girls sure did.

Coulda saved some cash on barbed wire if we had found that hole first!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Busy Day at Boughshire Dale

Today was a very busy day on the farm.

We "mucked" out the chicken coop, which was much easier than I thought it would be. The coop has a concrete floor, so shoveling up the old bedding was a breeze. That was all hauled up to the compost pile (chicken shit is good!).

We put new bedding in and rehung the waterer and feeder so that less straw would get kicked into it. (Chickens are very messy housekeepers!)

Then we mucked out and restrawed all of the goat areas. That, by the way, is a stinky job.

After a break, we penned up all the goat ladies, then caught and led Mo up to the goat bordello. He's a huge buck and kind of scary. At first, he didn't want to go. Then he got a whiff of the herd and realized where we were going. After that, we were the ones being led.

All the ladies were still penned when he got into the goat yard because we needed to separate out the little girls and take them down to Mo's pen for the winter. They're too young to breed.

It took a little while to round them up and throw them in a cage in the back of the truck. We hauled them down to Mo's pen and strawed their shed for the winter. We also decided to take Flag down there to babysit. I don't have the heart to butcher her or sell her, so she'll just become Nanny Flag and sit with the non-breeding stock over winters.

We made a mistake in that we didn't take Nanny Flag's baby boys down to the girls' new digs along with her.

Around 7:00pm, I heard a goat screaming its head off. It was Sally. She was standing up by the fence near the chicken coop yelling to beat the band. At first I thought she couldn't find her way down to the shed with the rest of the goat girls (goats aren't the smartest things). I walked down to gate and went in so that I could walk out into the field and lead her down. Oops... there were no goats in the shed. !!!

We found the rest of the goats nibbling grass along the creek by the main goat pen. Now we're faced with the problem of how to catch 6 goats with no fence to use to corner them. Luckily, Flag is very tame (unlike the rest), so I grabbed her horn to lead her up to the pen and the little girls followed. We penned them in one side of the catch pen and went back down to catch Sally.

Sally, of course, didn't want to be caught. We finally gave up around 10. She figured out how the rest got out in the middle of the night and we found her up by the goat pen the next morning.

Fun times!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Cow shed completed

Today we leveled out the floor of the cow shed, added straw in the bedroom and put a hay feeder under the roof. Craig made the hay feeder for me. He's quite handy, I think I'll keep him. Buttercup adores him. She likes her cow shed too!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Mowing and hen catching

Today we mowed the back half of the big pasture. We set the mower up pretty high so that Buttercup would still have green to eat for a while. The tall grass stalks were blocking sunlight from the shorter grasses. We'll need to overseed this pasture in the early spring so that we can get some more nutritious grasses growing.

We also began catching hens from the yard flock and putting them in the coop and run with the Barred Rocks. Mostly the yard hens are banties, but eggs are eggs.

The Barred Rocks are coming along nicely and should be ready to lay around the beginning of December. I can't wait to have more eggs coming in.

The hen catching technique involves a long metal rod with a hook on the end. We sneakily slip this around a hen's foot, then pull her back toward us, grab her feet, get her out of the catcher and toss her in the coop. They'll be much happier, even though they despise being caught.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

The List

Craig and I took some time and made a (huge) list of all of the things that need to be done to put the farm "to bed" for the winter. The list includes things like mowing some overgrown pasture, moving the billy goat up to breed the girls, mucking out stalls and restrawing, preparing garden beds, etc.

After we made the list we prioritized it according to a) HAS to be done, b) would like it to be done, and c) if we get around to it.

The nerdiness will NEVER die!

Friday, October 17, 2008

On Autofollow

For my Everquest friends!

Craig and I got a little lost in the woods, so I had to go on autofollow so we could find our way out.

Here we are after entering /fo:

Here's what Craig sees:

Here's what I see with my head down because of lag:

tee hee

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Stress Leave

The doctor has ordered three weeks of stress leave to "reboot" my brain. I've been having severe panic attacks for about a year now. They've been getting worse, probably because it's budget time at work and it's a BAD situation.

Hopefully the next three weeks resets the bad and I can go back with better results. I really can't afford to lose my job, we've barely gotten started farming. Someday (someyear?) I hope to be able to make a living farming, but I don't want to take the risk until we've learned a WHOLE lot more.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Mum and Dad

Today Pat and Brian's (Craig's Mom and Dad) house was setup. They won't be moving over here until the immigration paperwork is all complete. It will be good to have them here!

Immigration paperwork is a nightmare. We filed for Craig's papers a looooong time ago and are just finally having some progress made. Craig's immigration status should be finalized in the next couple of months, then he'll file for his mom and she'll file for Brian. I'm not sure how long it will take, but I'm sure it won't take as long as Craig's.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Guineas hatched

Today the guinea that was setting on her nest in Mo's pen successfully hatched out her clutch of keets. They're awfully cute. I hope she can keep them safe, but we've not been very lucky with guineas. It's not that the moms and dads don't try, but hawks are rough on them. I hate hawks.

The guineas crack me up. They remind me of little old ladies with waaaaay too much makeup on and dangly earrings. When they run they look like they're holding up their knickers for dear life and shouting, "Wait up, Ethel!"

They're incredibly ugly and not very friendly at all. But... they do a marvelous job keeping the ticks down. I haven't found a single tick all summer long.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Buttercup in heat

Well, as expected, our first attempt at insemination was a bust. Buttercup came into heat today. Emily will be out this evening to try again. If she successfully settles this time, she'll be due July 15th, which is Evan's birthday. He'll be thrilled, I'm sure. (Evan doesn't like coming out to the farm at all, and since he's 18 there's not a thing I can do about it. Makes me sad.)

Monday, October 6, 2008

Hey, hay!

We picked up all the equipment necessary to cut, rake and bale some hay for $2,000. Not a bad deal at all. I think I'd rather have a square baler for ease of storage and handling, but we'll adapt. Perhaps at some point I can trade the round baler for a square baler. Any takers?

Thursday, October 2, 2008


Pan, we thank you for this grain which we are about to receive.

Dig In!

Hey, could you pull that branch down for me?

Nom, nom, nom, nom

Thank yoouuuuuuuu!

Wait up, girls, lemme get my teeth in!