Saturday, October 8, 2011

The crisp air of Autumn

The last few days have been colder, windy and wet. Our first minor freeze happened last night. This morning the sky is clear and the air is nippy.


Autumn is my favorite season. I love the slant of the light, the crisp air, and the colors. I don't live in a place with spectacular fall color like you see in New England. We have a lot of Siberian Elm trees here. They're pretty much of a nuisance as they tend to "volunteer" in some very inconvenient places. There is a place near here where the trees line the creek bank. When the trees put on their brilliant yellow coats it really is breathtaking.

Today is a home day. I love home days, especially during Autumn. I actually feel like I am accomplishing something when I have a home day. I've spent time tending to chickens and goats and saving some seeds for next years garden. Also, laundry, dishes, mopping, etc. I prefer the first set of tasks over the second but all are necessary to things running decently around here.

This year I planted a very modest garden here at home. I was hesitant to plant too much. We've been trying to hold on to our house and when planting season was here we still had no answers and a looming sale date that kept getting moved a month at a time. I planted two types of green beans, yellow straight neck and zuchinni squash, and two types of cucumbers. We had a reasonable amount of green beans, and a few cucumbers. The squash bugs were a plague of biblical proportion here this year. They decimated the squashes and then moved on to the cucumbers. I decided to save seed this year if I could. I preferred the Blue Lake beans over the Purple Podded Pole beans. I'm going to save seed from both and just give the Purple Podded Pole seeds away. They are pretty but not my favorite for flavor. My dear friend, Ivy, shared several things from her always fabulous garden. The Moon and Stars Watermelon was spectacular! It is an open pollinated variety so I saved a BUNCH of seed. I will give a lot of it as gifts to family and friends so that they can enjoy those lovely melons next year.

At our bookstore I planted the north window bed in lettuces, chards, carrots, beets and scallions. Behind the store I planted some butternut squash. A few days ago I harvested six butternut and although I hoped for more I am happy to have some decently sized ones. I make Butternut Squash Soup for our Halloween party and I'm thrilled that this year I can claim growing the squash for it. Yesterday I pulled all the scallions and a good amount of little carrots. I have learned that the scallions need to be in a sunnier spot next year.

I'm in the mood to bake but the oven needs the element replaced. Maybe my mother-in-law will let me use her oven if I leave some goodies in return. Couldn't hurt to ask!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Blink and the summer passes

It has been a busy summer. I am totally thrilled with my Oberhasli, Arra! She claimed Reserve Champion at the County Fair and most people were surprised she didn't take Grand Champion. I understood the judge's reasoning in giving it to an older La Mancha Doe. No teeth grinding here! Dd has decided to "start over" with La Manchas. She has been very unhappy with Ellie-mae. Nubians need the right kind of person and apparently dd is not the right type. Ds is still completely in love with his Nubian.

It's now breeding season and believe it or not a lot of thought and planning goes in to this. Arra will be taken back to where she came from to be bred to a buck there. Coraline will probably be bred to a nice buck from someone in our 4-H group. Ellie-mae is still up in the air.

With the breeding season comes the task of testing and the blood draws that go with it. Those were accomplished yesterday with the generous help of Hazel, Wendy, and Jorge. Hazel has dreams of becoming a vet and watching her yesterday I can see it as a wise choice for her life. Many people with goats don't think testing is important. I am NOT in that camp. There are a few nasty goat diseases that I don't want in my herd. There are also a few that are transmissable to humans and I am DEFINITELY NOT taking my chances with those. Drawing blood from a goat is often done from the jugular vein and it's no simple task. Arra was the most patient and I'm attributing it to the fact that she's had it done a few times before. Coraline didn't like it and Ellie-mae really didn't like it. But it's done and the tubes are going out today. I have no worries about Arra but the other two are a bit up in the air. The seller said they were tested but I was not shown any results from the lab. It will be good to know for myself. If their results are not favorable they will not be bred.

This whole goat journey has been so much fun! It's had it's bumps such as the Nubians not liking the Oberhasli and then having to separate the Oberhasli in a different pen. It's amazing what a fence will do for "herd relations"! My dh has helped in so many ways and I'm thankful. While I was out of town in August I came home to the surprise of a small barn. It was greatly needed. This weekend he put together a better shelter for Arra. There is now talk of refurbishing Coraline and Ellie-mae's shelter. Just in time for cold weather!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Naughty Goats!

Although I love them goats have a tendency towards being mischievous.

Sometimes they are good for weeks and then all of the sudden they seem to pull stunt after stunt.

This morning those two knot heads were VERY naughty!

Our public school experiment is almost done. We put our children in public school this semester. Up to this point we had been homeschooling. Just a few more days and our early mornings can be ours again.

The goats always want to be naughty on time short mornings. Coraline is the usual leader in all areas except naughtiness. ElliMae is clearly in charge of that department.

We rushed out the door to be greeted by two goats gleefully jumping around the front yard. Our chickens were happily wandering around the north side of the property. They love to be out but that was not my plan this morning. The goats had "let" them out. Goats do not have the ability to open chicken coops in the traditional way but they do have the ability to stomp holes in chicken wire runs when they are really set on getting some of the scratch in their bellies. I wonder if the full moon is winding them up?

So after tethering the goats we hurriedly left to get everyone to school on time.

Guess what I came home to only 10 minutes later?

A dog standing in my driveway.

Not my dog but someone else's dog. And he looked like he was up to no good.

Although we are in a very small town we still have leash laws. I obey them but not very many other people do. It's a common practice for people to let their dogs out for a run in the early morning hours. The dogs never stay on their own property. And what do some dogs REALLY enjoy? Killing chickens and attacking goats. We've had both happen and although I love dogs a whole bunch I don't love them enough to let them kill my laying hens or injure my naughty goats.

I got out of the car and chased him off. He knew I was on to him.

I came around to the north side to find the goats completely tangled up and after checking to make sure they wouldn't hurt each other I left them there and made them wait awhile for me to finish fixing the damage. I put their feed in their pen and then made them wait a little while longer. EllieMae was still a bit defiant and came back out immediately but after I shoved her back in she got the message. Coraline was just happy to get to her feed and stayed in willingly.

It took me the better part of an hour to get things back in order. It's time for a better fence.

Today they're on the naughty list.

Monday, May 16, 2011

It happened one day...........

Many of my friends don't understand me.


"Why on earth would you want goats?!? They eat EVERYTHING!"

It all started last year when I got my children involved in 4H. My original plan regarding 4H had to do with chickens and sheep. I love chickens. My kids love chickens. I love sheep. My kids aren't all that smitten with sheep. While we were at the first 4H meeting the leader just happened to mention that our club would be having a goat group. I asked if they might have a sheep group. I was hoping my kids would be interested in wool sheep. But oh no, that wasn't THEIR plan after they heard the word "GOAT"! It took Daddy 6 months to say yes to their pleadings for goats. He joked with them about getting plastic goats (think: plastic flamingos)to put in the front yard. This went on for months. He REALLY didn't want goats. I REALLY didn't want goats (at first). He finally consented and we acquired 2 twelve week old Nubian doelings.


I never thought it would be possible but now I'm a goat-a-holic. I've even gone so far as to volunteer to be the 4H Goat Project leader for our club. And now here I sit. Boy, did I get myself in to a mess!

I absolutely love goats! I'm even getting my very own goat. I love the Oberhasli breed and for Mother's Day I told my husband that I wanted an Oberhasli. He shot me a look and asked if there was anything else I might like instead. "No, I really want my own Oberhasli and I've found just the one." He looked doomed. He said he'd think about it. I bribed the kids to make sure Daddy knew that I wanted this Oberhasli and that it would make me REALLY happy if I got a "yes" out of him as my Mother's Day present.

Mother's Day dawned beautiful and sunny and they all marched in with their offerings. There were a few cards and a pot of beautiful yellow tulips. I wasn't expecting them to march in to the bedroom with an Oberhasli but part of me was secretly hoping. The pot of tulips had a little card and on that card was written:

"Yes. You can have your goat."

I am thrilled! She is a two year old milker out of one of the best herds in the country. She was linear appraised for the 2nd time just a few weeks ago and she scored V E V + 84. She came up 5 points from last year. She is beautiful and will do great in the show ring. I'm hoping to have her home around the first of June.

Her name is Arra and, yes, I'm completely smitten already!