“A day in the country is worth a month in town”Christina Rossetti

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Crime Scene - Be Warned! A Little Gross!

On the floor...
of the mudroom...
under the chair...
with the grass clippers.
I stepped outside to do some chores yesterday and just saw this blood and guts. Tell me...what are those parts they don't eat? I couldn't tell if two rodents died or just one. Who was the killer? What were those shears used for? Someone is doing their job.
The sun got those mice out of their little holes after three or four bitter, snowy days. Good eats...I guess?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Herd Cat

Snickers is quite the personality. She doesn't seem to be phased by much.
She considers a goat butting a request for a snuggle.
Too much butting by the little ones though, and the paws come out punching.
Civility please.
When we went to the vet to get her stitches out a couple weeks ago, she met two perfectly strange dogs in the waiting area, and didn't raise a fuss at all. Blew the dogs' minds, as well as the owners. How could I tell? Well, the dogs just had that look. Their owners spoke.
Getting along with the house cat Pekoe, though, is still a work in progress.

Today was a Winter Wonderland cold day. Sunny, sparkly and white crusted. Jock's kind of roll in the snow and make snow angels day.
Snickers found her way out to the field to share the goats' food and water and follow them around. I think the kids think she is an odd little goat. She's always been with them, especially since those 14 below days in the warming barrel.

Snickers is like the kid sister that wants to do everything the big brother does. Jock is the embarrassed brother who tries to ignore her.

She wants to be part of the herding thing.

Whatever he does...

or wherever he goes...
is cool.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Wood Splitting

Weekends are the time for jobs that require two heads or four hands. So we usually put our wish list, or our needs list, together as the week-end approaches. Today was going to be: Cut more downed wood. We brought down a truck load last week. You can see that it was split and is now drying. We'll need to start using it when we get down to our last quarter cord sometime next month.
Well, the weather became a factor about as soon as the goats went out. That was the last time we saw the sun, as the clouds and snow blew in with the nasty wind that was freezing our ears on the dog's walk. Its been blowing and snowing all day.

So Mr. Labor split a few logs that have been drying since last summer.

In case you need to learn the passed down technique, here it is.

Tap in the wedge. Line up the splitting maul. Swing.

One more time.

If you really need to learn, here is a good page to get you started.


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Signs of Life

This is Maggie, a neat colored Australian Shepard with her boss, Jen.

Today was a busy day. I got dropped off in Natrona Heights at Blackberry Meadow Farm for a PASA small ruminant farmer potluck lunch and tour. Lunch conversation was on goats, vets, kids dying from the cold weather, the PASA conference activities, cool farming tools, and farmers markets.
...lettuce, spinach and radishes.

Then we got the tour by Jen who just took over this organic farm last year. They have hens, a couple goats, and hoop houses with varying levels of growth. Its always neat to see how others do things.

Jock came back to pick me up, and got to tour the barn where they distribute the CSA foods. He also got to run around with Maggie and embarrass us with his bad behavior.

Jen, by the door, telling us about what seeds they plan to start in the germination box they are building.
All these ideas!
Its great to meet all these people who are ready to share their stories and experiences. Like getting stuck in the mud up to your crotch for an hour and a half, almost freezing, loosing your boot, getting it back, and still feeding the two bales of hay to the cows you came out for in the first place.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Year of the Goat

Its all starting to make sense.
I was born in the year of the goat.
We moved to the farm in the year of the goat.
I love this letter for goat, and below is some info off a web site about us poor folks born in that year.
It really all makes sense now...
Except for the knack of always getting off on the wrong foot with people, the Goat can be charming company. You are elegant and artistic but the first to complain about things. Put aside your pessimism and worry and try to be less dependent on material comforts. You would be best as an actor, gardener, or beachcomber. Some Goats: Rachel Carson, Michelangelo, Mark Twain, Rudolph Valentino, Barbara Walters, Orville Wright.
Find out your year here. Maybe it tells your story!!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Get Growing

When I read the paper, I look forward to editorials by Verlyn Klinkenborg. He is sometimes dry and sometimes funny, but he talks to me on most days.

This article has a couple chuckles snuck in, just when you aren't looking.

Within the editorial is reference to “The 11 Best Foods You Aren’t Eating” which recently appeared on The New York Times’s list of most-viewed stories for 2008.
Check it out.

Sow Those Seeds!
"In August 2004, I wrote a Rural Life editorial about the victory garden movement during World War II, noting that a national crisis had turned Americans — for a few years at least— into a nation of gardeners. Now we are in the midst of another crisis. And perhaps this is the moment for another national home gardening movement, a time when the burgeoning taste for local food converges with the desire to cut costs and take new control over our battered economic lives.
There are signs that some people are already thinking this way. A number of friends have said to me, wistfully, that if things get worse, they’ll just go to the country and learn to farm, as if learning to farm were like studying shorthand or learning to weld. "

Read on...

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

After a day spent surveying the damage from Thursday's seventy mile per hour winds, cleaning up and making repairs, its time for dinner out and a movie.
A rarity!
Looking forward to it.
Happy Valentine's Day to You!

Thursday, February 12, 2009


One of the fun things for me on the blog is when a new country gets added to my Neocounter. As of a couple days ago, 13 and 14 added on, and so the list is now rotating through. Whoopee!!

I think its fun. I just wish I knew who these folks were and what their blog looks like. I think that's how most of us find a blog - off another blog.

I learn from the blogs I like by going through their lists, and so on, and so on...

I added a blog for the month of February from CNN. Its a reporter blogging about living on food stamps for a month. It adds up to $176 for the month, or $6.28 a day. The information about food, nutrition, recipes, the economy, health, stigma of food stamps, unemployment and more is all rather interesting and an intelligent read in my opinion. Some of the comments are educational too.

So far the reporter is doing well with it, and is also getting awareness to the topic, and seems to be affecting change. Who says one person can't make a difference? Anyway, the guy seems to making a really honest effort on this piece. Not fluff.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Mystery is Over

My barn gloves of four or five years were suddenly missing around the New Year. I looked every place possible in the garage, barn, house, where ever. Today as I was using the hose to de-mud the dog, I found them over the wall and in the mulch, soaking wet, but okay.

We have had about three decently warm days where the snow and ice from January has ALMOST all melted. I guess they have been under the layers and layers of snow all this time. Well, now I have a spare pair for working guests!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Goats With Laryngitis

This was the moon last night and today is the full moon.
Maybe that explains some things...

This has been a rough couple of days for the twins, especially Trinity. Actually its been a rough couple of days on the farm hands too.

We finally have had this warm break in the weather and the fields are almost snow free. It was also time for the twins and Layla to join the herd. Actually it was past due, but the cold, ice and shelter situations delayed what should have happened at least two weeks ago.
Yesterday the twins learned about the big, bad world of electric fences. Yes they did! We put up a section of electric netting above the permanent fence so that the goats could get to some ungrazed field. They were all happy to be there although the twins did a lot of yelping as they tried to go through high tensile fence and sniff the electric net. So after thinking that they had learned what was what, we decided to walk Jock around the fields. Just as we had closed the alley gate, Trini started screaming. I took off for the goats while Dave took off to cut the power.

Two heart attacks later...try running on wet fields in rubber boots. Anyway, Trini was caught in the electric netting fence, and until I got to her, got several pulses. She was caught in a square up to her waist. (Actually that is about where she was caught today in the video you can see below). I had to first calm her down and then slowly peel her out of the fence. After that, she didn't stop yelling for a while, and by the end of the day she could only croak.

Today the goats were out in the sun again, and I worked on fixing holes still left from the fence installation, while observing what was going on with the goats. I wanted to make sure the twins memory was more than 12 hours regarding fences. There was one yelp from Neo, but in general everyone was chowing down and enjoying the weather. Things changed late this afternoon. The only reason I noticed that things were awry, was that I saw the head of little Miss Trinity sticking out behind the barn when I drove up the lane. I just figured she squeezed out between the gate, and so I went over to straighten things out. I guess I must have left a gate unchained, because everyone was by the barn door, waiting. Everyone but Trinity. She was stuck between the barn and a gate post. I couldn't get her going forwards or backwards and the post wasn't going anywhere in the frozen ground. I ran back to the house and called a neighbor, and Dave, and got no answers. So I grabbed a camera and went back to the barn.

If I sound a little stressed, I was. What finally worked was moving the rock that she had her front feet on, which lowered her just a little, and then SLOWLY backing her up. Her brother helped by standing on my back. Mom stayed by her side.

Friday, February 6, 2009

This Is My Cat On Drugs

Ever have days when you feel like this?

Or this?

Snickers could not get comfortable, but the sink seemed to work for her since she was into avoiding the carrier. Who knew what we were going to do to her if she got in that again!
This was yesterday and today she looks less druggie, but is still happy in the sink since the bathroom is much toastier than the barn. I think the ceramic is cooler. Then again, it looks like the heat must feel good on her belly. The vet instructions say to take her for a walk, so we are closing a few doors an letting her roam a bit. She seems very happy to find new nooks to sleep in, but hasn't had much energy for extended carrying on. We have to keep this up for 10 to 14 days. We'll see, but right now the bathroom is the kitten's room. I think the dog is a little envious, but he can't fit in to see what's going on. Its really tight in there.
And luckily, Snickers already has the dog trained.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Goat News in the Wall Street Journal

Yesterday the best piece of mail was right on top and I didn't even have to open it. The return address from my Princeton friend, a Ligonier native and Carnegie Mellon grad, had me smiling all the way to the house.

Inside was a real surprise. Goat news on PAGE ONE of the Wall Street Journal. Who woulda thunk?

"A Lehman-financed venture owes a company called Goats R Us about $53,000. The goats performed fire-prevention by munching shrubs and grass on a property the venture owns in Oakland, Calif."

The main point of the article is not good news for the Goats R Us people, but the story is informative and has some cute bits mixed in. It gives the goats personality, which of course, we goat owners already know about.

"Big land owners use goats for fire control because they are dependable and hard-working. They clear brush and poison oak, which two-legged landscapers try to avoid. The goats also are often preferable to herbicides, especially in residential areas, such as Oak Knoll.
"They were doing a good job at vegetation management,'' says Al Auletta, who was overseeing the project for the Oakland Redevelopment Agency. "The goats were pretty effective at that.""

If you want to read the whole article click below. Its pretty good.
Far Away From Wall Street, a Herd Gets Gored

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Spay Day

Snickers got to be an indoor cat last night in the seclusion of the kitchen bathroom.
No food after 6 and no water after midnight wasn't going to happen in the barn.
Poor Snickers.
She's at the vet, probably sore and groggy right now.
She hit six months and had her appointment to be spayed.
This morning she really wanted a meal but cuddling had to do.

None too soon, as I have seen another cat of unknown origin and sex around the past few days. We did our part adopting these two abandoned cats. They don't need to add to the population. If I need more barn cats, I know where to ask.
Meanwhile Mama Mia is acting like a lost soul. I can't believe it, but I think she is looking for her kitten. She sounds very sorrowful today, as she follows me around the barn and from window sill to window sill, crying.