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?