Tuesday, July 29, 2008

For sale: One garden eating goat. Feisty personality. Would make great sausage.

Well, Clover pulled the last straw out from under herself. As Emily and I pulled up the driveway on the way home from church Sunday she happily greeted us from the garden. I think she said something like “Hey you should try this, its REALLY good!” She smiled as she happily munched away on what was apparently thee last ear of corn in the garden. Yep, the corn that she ate the top off weeks ago, the same corn that I nursed back with lots of manure and water. Yes, the same corn that was within a week of being ready to harvest. Yes, all 75 or so ears of it. Of course she ate the peas again too. They were just loaded. I’m surprised they came back after she ate them the first time. Em and I had a handful just the day before. She also ate off all the strawberry plants and she trampled over the tomatoes as she harvested the corn. I marched up the steps and she took off for the far corner, knowing good and well that she was trespassing on sacred ground. I caught her and tired to maneuver around the rest of the still standing veggies dragging her through the gate. She ran down the steps tooting all the way, seems LOTS of fresh vegetables can have that effect on a goat! Belle ran crying behind her. Mama is teaching her the tricks of the trade.

I promptly followed her down the steps and into the house for my camera. After a few pictures and several minutes at the computer, she is now a listing on Craigslist. Off and on over the past several weeks I had thought of selling her because we have plenty of milk and I don’t need to be putting out money for feed for her. But then my heart would melt and I’d change my mind. But no longer, she is free to go pursue someone else’s garden. To eat the labors of their hard work; their blood, sweat and tears. To trample their tomatoes in search of one more ear of corn. To toot down their steps.

I spent Monday making a pen out of hog panels and she is no longer a free-ranging scrub goat. Not so thrilled at the lack of freedom, she is enjoying the $6.25/bale alfalfa I have to feed her. Hopefully she will sell quickly. Sooooo, anyone need their garden destroyed? I have just the answer.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Goats 2.1

Well, Clover is a mom. I see her as sort of a teenage mom, at least she acts like it. Belle made her debut July the 16th at about 6:30 in the evening. She weighed in at 8 lbs 11 ounces. Em and I watched her come into the world. For days after, she commented, "Wow, that was really cool, Mom." I'm glad she got to see a live birth. I grew up watching calves and piglets born each spring on our farm in Nebraska and I've never tired of the miracle of new life.

Moma has done a pretty good job, as long as you don't consider the fact that food and friends rank above baby. Or that she seems a bit absent minded, to the point of three or four times a day forgetting she even has a baby. She left baby in the barn for a couple hours and frantically searched the garage for her the day after her arrival. I was a bit panicked as she is small enough for a hawk to carry off, but a quick search around the house and barn revealed her safe and sound snuggled up in the pen. Mom wanders off eating her way up the mountain and across the fence onto the neighbor's property. All the sudden, brain cells begin to fire and thought occurs to her that she has a baby...somewhere. Head jerks up and she begins to call and frantically turn in circles looking for baby. I told Steve, at this rate, Belle needs to be in the foster care system as a ward of the state. Moma did sit on her once, but was oblivious to the fact that the cries were coming from baby. She tries, she really does, but I don't think motherhood is instinctive to her. Maybe next time around.

I thought it was cool that after Belle was born, as mom was licking her off, she ate lots of strong scented plants and continued to lick baby till she smelled like wet grass. I guessed she was trying to disguise her from predators. Pretty cool. But then again, she could have just been hungry...baby can wait after all. All in all she is doing a pretty good job as a mom. Belle is old enough to follow Clover now, so getting left behind hasn't been an issue since the first couple of days.

Gretel weighs 47 lbs now. She is just 6 weeks old. I must say I have really enjoyed all the new life around here. I have two more hens that have gone broody. One set to hatch her clutch of 10 eggs next Sunday. The other has been hanging around Clover too much, playing mom when it is convenient and fun. But I think she has finally decided to set for good. She has just 5 eggs, they won't hatch for at least 2 weeks. Somehow I'm sure 5 chicks will be more than enough for her to handle. Funny, she didn't go broody till I reintroduced the first broody hen and her chicks back into the coop. Guess she thought it looked fun to sit uninterrupted for 21 days with little food or water. I shouldn't criticize, I apparently thought it looked fun to spend 9 months feeling sick, fat and ugly and at the end, as a reward, to pass something the size of a watermelon. 21 days, no labor...doesn't seem so bad after all.

Photobucket Belle just 5 mintues old.
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Friday, July 11, 2008

Save the chicken, save the world.

Yep, I’m a hero, a chicken hero. Never saw myself as a chicken hero, but I find myself there today. Yesterday I went up to milk goats and to my dismay found a chick floating in the goats’ water tank. It has happened a couple times before. They hop up to roost on the side or they decide the goat water is better and in they go. Hershey is always happy to take care of disposal. I try to only fill it to the point where the chicks can hop back out in the event of an unintentional falling in. But this chick was inexperienced and little, Broody Hen’s chick. Obviously mom wasn’t doing her job and let little chicky swim in the deep end without her water wings.

I scooped the lifeless white body from the water and looked around for the dog. Then something inside me said “try CPR” Um ok, I’ve had opportunity to perform CPR on a few occasions...do I have to admit only on animals? Ok well, back to the story. ....but never on a chicken. Ooooookay, where to start?

I grabbed her by the feet and swung her around side to side to in attempt to clear water from her lungs. Lift up her wing, hmmmm no movement, no heart beats or breathing. Ok, I look around suddenly feeling like I’m on candid camera or something, but begin to compress her chest. After a minute or so it dawns on me, I should probably be giving a few puffs into her lungs. I stop and assess the situation, no movement still. I give a small puff into the nose holes on the top of her beak, then back to compressing. After 5 minutes of breathing and compressing, I assess again. Still nothing, the sun is getting hot on my back, in sharp contrast to the cold, wet, lifeless body I hold in my hands. I think about stopping, but continue on. Another 10 minutes passes, I assess things once again. I see a slight twitching of the muscles in her chest, but no breathing. I continue for another 10 minutes, all the while thinking if any of my friends saw me they’d send the guys with the white jacket. Then I feel some movement in her neck, she slowly pulls her head up, I figure its just nerves, but then it happened.

A short sneeze. Then nothing. My efforts are continues with renewed enthusiasm. By this time her feathers have begun to fluff up and dry out. After a few minutes, another sneeze and a shake of her little head. Her head begins to move slowly back and forth against her back in a rhythmic fashion. Eyes closed, back and forth, back and forth her head stiffly moves and her legs begin to shake. Great, she’s brain damaged, I think to myself. I lift her wing and check for movement. I see her chest rise and fall as she takes a breath, followed by water bubbling out her nose. I wait for another, after what seems forever she breathes again. Then another sneeze. Its been a half hour now, but its obvious she is fighting for her life. I continue to hold her and warm her still cold body. Her legs begin to show signs of strength, After 5 minutes I set her down in the sun and proceed to milk the goats. When I finish I notice she is still in the same spot I left her in, but eyes closed she is holding her head up. Looks like she will pull through. I approach her and she tries weakly to walk away. I leave her to recover her strength.

An hour later I go to check on her and she is gone. I find her down in the creek happily scouting bugs. So you see, I’m a hero, chicken hero. Not many can make that claim. I may have to start wearing my apron around my neck, after all every hero needs a cape. Gotta run, I think I hear a chicken calling.

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The little white chick nearly died. She's not at all appreciative of my efforts either. Thought the hero at least got a hug or kiss.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Where did June go?

Well, June was an extremely busy month. We took the kids on a trip to Florida for a week. In Orlando, visiting Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. We had a great time. Ha, we stayed at a Super8 in Orlando that was pretty much an adventure in itself. The bathroom door wouldn’t close tight so no one could lock it which proved to be a major fear factor to Em. A previous person had set the drapes on fire and they still hung in the room, burned up at the bottom. I should have brought a chicken or two along to clean up all the crumbs and nasty stuff from the floor. To top it off, since it was a tad depressing to be there, we stayed away every night till 11 or so and one night when we got back the maid had left the door propped open…apparently all day long. Oh ya, then there was the intentional overcharge I had to call customer service to get reversed. Lets just say Super8 wont see our $ again. Did I mention the light fixtures didn’t have covers, just bulbs hanging from the ceiling? Yep that was an interesting 3 nights.

The rest of the week was spent at the Hilton in Melbourne, much nicer! We went to the beaches along the space coast every day and swam in the ocean and picked up shells. It was so relaxing. The kids enjoyed the beach more than the theme parks.

We were home for less than a week, just enough time to do laundry and pack up again and Steve & I headed to North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia to celebrate our 22nd anniversary. We visited my brother John and his family. We hadn’t seen them for almost 2 years, so the kids had really changed. We spent a day and a half visiting the Biltmore house, boy was that cool! On the way home we stopped for some dinner and Grant showed us his cool trick of swallowing a piece of spaghetti and then hacking it back up in one piece. Pretty cool trick to a 4 year old! We laughed so hard we were crying.

After hanging out with them for a couple days we drove up into Virginia to Monticello and the Walton’s museum. We had fun just flying by the seat of our pants; deciding each day where to stay the next night and what to do the next day. No preset plans, just doing stuff on a whim.

After flying home and doing laundry and such we packed up again and headed to Omaha to visit family over the 4th. The fire works were great, too bad we didn’t stay long enough to even see all the immediate family.

I’m ready to stay home for a couple years now. All that going is a bit much to someone who doesn’t even leave home for weeks at a time! The animal caretaker I had hired left the garden gate open and the goat had a heyday! I think some stuff will survive, but she sure enjoyed her time in there. Thankfully I dried a bunch of spinach before she trashed things.

I’m so behind on housework and work in general that I feel like I’m barely treading water! Not to mention my wallet shrunk as well as my pants. Let’s just say we were very patriotic and did our part to stimulate the economy. Now to buckle down and get back on track around here. So much stress I think I need a vacation, wow, what a vicious cycle. :o)

May 29th Tigris had her baby, a darling little doeling we named Gretel. The dairy we bought her from seemed certain she had twins, so we had Hansel and Gretel picked out, turns out she only had a Gretel. She weighed in at a whopping 12 lbs 9 oz. now 5 weeks later is over 40 lbs! I think she’s a keeper! She has a great personality as well. Cheddar is giving over 4 lbs of milk a day now. I’ve got folks lined up to barter milk with. I may sell goat shares.

Clover is ready to drop her kid(s) any day now as well. I’ll post pictures when she does. She has been showing signs for 2 weeks now, I’m growing impatient!

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Family at Cocoa Beach. I'm behind the camera.

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My handsome son. Isn't he a cutie?

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At the Enchanted Forest in Florida. Making sure his sisters stay cool. What a thoughtful guy.

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Gretel, just hours old. Oh my gosh, isn't she adorable?

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John and his family. We had a wonderful time together. The empty spot is for thier daughter. She is in China with her school band getting ready to play in the olympic's opening ceremony.

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Slidig Rock, in DuPont State Forest in NC. Kids were hiking up and riding it down, using it like a slip n slide! Mama woulnd't be happy.

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Monticello. We spent the whole day there. Very interesting, and oh yeah, it's on the nickel.

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A stop along the Blue Ridge Parkway. The buildings were almost 200 yrs old!

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Garden Pre-goat. Spinach is in the foreground. Peas are in the back right.

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A close up of the spinach patch.

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Spinach. The leaves were huge. Wow, what a great crop this year!

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Drying some of the harvest. Getting ready to make Spinach egg noodles.

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Spinach patch post-goat. I was pretty much ready to make goat sausage on the spot. Her only redeeming quality is that she is ready to kid at any moment. Saved by the kid!

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Peas post-goat. They were loaded too, literally hundreds of pods. Now not a pea on them. Oh well, next year!

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Corn. Not sure how that will turn out. May get a few ears? Hoping so anyway. Guess I'll have to hit the farmer's market to fill the freezer this year.

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Making spinach noodles. Not all was lost! Getting healthy...using our fresh goat milk and fresh eggs. Even ground my own wheat.

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Some of the finished product hanging to dry. Can't wait to eat it with a bit of goats cheese and goat butter. Hmmm..... a little goat sausage could add some nice flavor!