Animals – All

March 28, 2014 – Thank You Mr. Badger

Not the Wisconsin Badgers, mind you, but the badger who evidently lives a few miles down the road and is an awesome digger! Guess the soil is now unfrozen for this critter to dig out such an impressive pile of dirt.

As I needed some black dirt to reinforce some raised beds, this beats digging myself or driving to town to buy some in plastic bags. No lumps. just fine, black topsoil.

March 10, 2012 – ‘Tis the Fighting Season

Every spring Mr. Cardinal finds an enemy he needs to fight somewhere on the farm.  In year’s past, a male cardinal spent hours of the day banging into his reflection in the front picture window.

This year, he has found his rival to be a bit more clever and found him hiding inside the mirror on the car.  I sure hope humans don’t spend the same amount of time and energy fighting phantom enemies!

November 1, 2011 – 4-Leggeds Gone

This weekend marked a different kind of milestone – something significant getting subtracted from the farm. We sold the last of the sheep and goats today. It was a bittersweet time as the four-leggeds had been part of the farm for a long time. But realistically, we have no right trying to squeeze the animals into our schedules.

So, this winter, the barn will be silent. We’ll see next spring if we can stand not having any return, but for this winter, so hay sourcing, no trudging to the barn in the cold and dark hours before dawn to attend to food and water before heading off to work.

We might enjoy the spring and not having to be around most of March or April waiting for the ewes and does to give birth. But, the animals also added life to the farm, and we are firm believers in having a complete system of animals and crops. We’ll still have chickens and turkeys to provide some fertility.

November 15, 2009 – Mixing Winter Grain Ration

It’s a big mixing weekend. The bred ewes eat mostly hay over the winter, but we give a little grain supplement for the pregnant and nursing ewes.

First step is to grind up some corn – ground corn is better than shell corn as it is better to digest. Here Martin watches the electric grinder and Ora the black kitten perches on the apple tree high above to watch!

Again, there are many possible combinations of grain mixtures, here’s what we’re trying this winter – steamed rolled barley, steam crimped oats, and linseed meal.

The final bit of the feed mix is a little bit of probiotics.  Probiotics have many good effects on health, but are especially good for good rumen health.

Martin with the buckets ready for the first group to be mixed.  Here’s this winter’s recipe:

2 parts cracked corn
1 part steam-rolled barley
1 part steamed crimped oats
1 part linseed meal
1 oz probiotics per 125 lb mix

one year ago…”Home-Made Cider Press Info”

November 14, 2009 – Mineral Mix

We decided it was finally time to give up on the commercial mineral blocks and go to a more custom mix that we could control a bit better.

redmond's salt bag

Many producers swear by Redmond’s trace mineral salt. I’ve heard it from enough successful producers who swear by it, that it’s time to bring it to high hopes.

redmond salt

Here’s the salt out of the bag.

The final mineral mix – here was the recipe we used.

4 parts redmond salt
2 part sea kelp
1 part KD mineral

one year ago…”End of Season Pantry”

August 29, 2009 – Field Day at Grice Farms

Today we went to a PFI field day to what may be one of Iowa’s biggest organic farms, nearly 1,000 acres, located west of Iowa City in Keokuk County.

Linda Grice operates this farm and here shows off a 90 acre field of alfalfa that it transitioning to certified organic.

It’s a great place for one of our favorite Powesheik County farmers to sit and listen with his son.

Riding in the backs of pickup-trucks on a bumpy drive through the pasture is one of life’s lost joys. This section of the farm is custom grazed (meaning a nearby dairy farm rents it to graze Jersey milk cows).

Here Linda points out one of her paddocks that includes a pond.  Usually it is not good practice to have a pond available for cattle to graze around, but in a rotational system there are little to no detrimental water quality effects, especially if the paddock that contains the water is grazed during cool weather.  You’ll see that vegetation is not turned to mud along the shore.

grassfed beef cattle

This is a fine group of organic grass-fed beef cattle.  The critter closest to the camera is in its second year and has always just eaten grass.  She has some cattle that are totally grass-fed and others that she sells to Organic Valley that the company wants finished on a combination of grass and grains.

It was a great day and just wonderful to see such a large, successful, environmentally-friendly operation.

one year ago…”Living the Country Life Film Crew”

November 17, 2007 – Doesn’t Get More Old Fashioned Than This

After yesterday’s entry about sustainable enterprises and earning it – I can safely say that moving small amounts of manure from a barn to a garden are sustainable enterprises (however negligibly rewarding they may be).

It is strangely satisfying, though to move the fertilizer with only the labor of your own hands along with with a pitchfork and cart.

It’s a time of year we can directly put it on the garden now that the growing season is over.  This will be a tilled garden in the spring and although there is no financial reward, we will avoid having to purchase outside petroleum-based fertilizers, so I guess there is a reward of sorts.

one year ago…

January 28, 2007 – A Boy and his Fish

Martin is very proud of his fish. If you look closely, you’ll find a gold and grey goldfish in the bowl. There is much “discussion” of fish ownership between Martin and the girls, who want to hone in on the fish ownership. Martin said “I started the conversation about getting the fish.” The conversation started more like “Dad, can I get an animal in a cage in my room?” Hamsters, rats, ferrets, and guinea pigs were all squashed and he finally seemed a bit shocked, when we agreed to fish. He was one happy boy to get them. It was worth at least two days of perfect co-operation!

one year ago…

December 10, 2006 – Roving Bands of Chickens

The warm weather continues. The chickens are liking the lack of snow cover. Once the snow comes, the free-range roaming instincts are limited.

This is one of the roosters we hatched ourselves. He’s pretty happy with himself this evening. (But then, the roosters always seem quite happy with themselves.)

He’s the leader of the group of “gypsy chickens” who roam separately from the rest of the flock and end up in places they shouldn’t be. We are actually looking forward to a few snow days so they can learn were they should be. These chickens do not lay in the nest boxes – we find clutches of eggs here and there from this roaming band.

one year ago…

December 8, 2006 – Photo Friday “Fresh”

This week’s Photo Friday Contest theme is “Fresh.” Here’s a shot from the high hopes archives of milk about as fresh as you can get it!

This is one of our milk goats, Paulina.

We all know there’s more than one meaning to “fresh” so keeping that in mind, and in keeping with the goat theme, here’s another photo.

Back up to about 6 months before the milking picture for Mr. Billy getting “fresh” with his lady!

one year ago…

November 21, 2006 – Thanksgiving Turkey

Here’s one of our thanksgiving turkeys. Today was the day they went to the locker – so they are fresh for Thanksgiving.

It was a rough start to the turkey season – first 10 of 15 of the poults arrived dead from the hatchery this summer. As the replacements weren’t sent for a month, we were worried about the turkeys getting to size. Then a feral cat, ate some of the other turkeys out on the range. At $5 a poult, it adds up in a hurry. We ended up with 9.

The biggest two were about 26 lb and the rest were 12-16 lb, which wasn’t too bad. We kept two – one 16 lb for Thanksgiving and the biggest one Emma cut up and vacuum-packed for many meals. We traded a couple of turkeys for some berkshire pork from Eden Farms. We fried up some chops tonight and they were the best I’ve ever had – literally melt in your mouth chops.

one year ago…

November 14, 2006 – New Pastured Poultry Breed – Finally!

I’ve been hearing rumors for years of a chicken faster growing than the standard breeds, but not quite as fast as the cornish-cross confinement-style chicken. I believe these birds were developed from some french stock. There are four different breeds with slightly different characteristics. They are distributed by a Canadian company, but there is a hatchery in West, Bend, IA. The prices seemed very reasonable as well.

For all you chicken growers out there looking for a hardier, even tastier, bird that takes only a couple of extra weeks to finish, check out the “Freedom Rangers” website.

one year ago…

October 23, 2006 – Guard Geese

These ladies are our chicken protectors! At one time we were losing a chicken about every other night – it would be partially eaten in the coop overnight. Nothing too big could get in the building, so we are guessing unless some animal learned to unlatch the door, it was most likely a mink or weasel.

A neighbor suggested to get a goose, since the geese are fairly alarmist when it comes to new creatures in their space. So we did, and whether by luck or design – we have not lost a single chicken to predation overnight since the geese have arrived.

October 16, 2006 – Sugar (Shoog-uh!)

Yesterday the good people at Morning Sun Farm brought a young Alpine goat buck when they came over to make soap. His name was alternately “Whiteface” or “Sugar” and we decided to call him Sugar, pronounced “Shoog-uh” as his job is to impregnate Paullina and Blaze. The two young boys went to the sale barn on Saturday, and the two young girls went to Two Friends Farm for a while.

Here’s Shoog-uh with one of his harem.

one year ago…

October 10, 2006 – Egg Production Slowing

It’s the time of year that egg production drops as the light decreases. We don’t “force” our hens to lay like the big egg houses do by keeping the lights on all the time, nor do we withhold feed the last days of the hen’s life to trick her into a burst of laying before death. We’re able to ebb and flow with the chicken’s natural cycles, so we get an overflow of eggs in the spring and fewer in the winter.

We have a few young hens (pullets) just starting to lay. Their eggs the first few weeks are about half the size of regular eggs. They often appear in strange places until the pullets figure out it’s nice to lay them in the warm, cozy, nest boxes to make a bigger clutch with other hens.

October 9, 2006 – Lambs Growing Up

Our lambs are a bit behind most others in the area. They were born in June, so won’t be ready until late, late fall. They get a little bit of corn to help them keep warm and get used to coming when we call. That helps when we yell SHEEPY-SHEEPY-SHEEP to lock them up at night to prevent a coyote feast! Otherwise, they graze to their heart’s content all day.

September 2, 2006 – Honey Extraction

Today was honey extraction day. We went out in mid-afternoon to rob the honey from the hives while many of the bees were out foraging, loaded the frames in the back of the truck and parked it a distance from the house, so the bees wouldn’t find it and start stealing the honey back.

After the bees went to bed for the night, we drove the truck back and started extracting. The weather had just changed, and our near 80 degree day switched wind directions and dropped to the 50’s. We started the heater in the garage to make sure it was warm enough for the honey to flow.

The first step is “uncapping” the frames.

Here’s a beautiful full frame with the caps partially cut off.

The neighbors wanted to see the process, so they came over and here Marty and a visitor are in charge of the honey gate. The hot steamy garage and cool damp, dark outdoors made for a delightful contrast.

August 28, 2006 – Stuck Goat

This evening the goats were bleating like they do when one gets separated or they need help. It’s a different kind of sound than the “feed me” or “milk me” sounds.

Nellie caught her head in the fence.

Trying to get her head out every which way – neck first, nose first, and on…

Finally, it’s time for the fence bending blocks and levers to try to bend the wire just enough to release the goat. If this doesn’t work, the ultimate solution is the sawz-all!

Free at last!

Last night it started raining (about 2.25 inches worth of driving rain) about 3:30 am and strong east wind and unseasonably cold August temperatures in the mid-50’s. I started to worry about the chickens outside, but tossed fitfully until first hint of light, hoping not to see a pile of dead birds. Just one died – a turkey – but I jerry-rigged additional shelter with tarps to get them through the rest of the day.

August 22, 2006 – Livestock = Deadstock

There’s a saying – if you’ve got livestock, it won’t be long before you have deadstock. Two things struck today. We had a group of laying hen chicks in with some of our broilers that free-ranged during the day and were locked up in a building at night. The layers are much younger and smaller. Other broilers were in chicken tractors and out on the “range” in electric fences surrounding them. Linda kind of thought the numbers were going down. I had seen a wild cat numerous times in and around the building they were living.

Tomorrow 10 replacement turkeys may come, (the original 10 died in transit) so we were moving the chicks from that building to new accommodations so the new turkeys can brood in peace and be protected from the cat. Only 8 of 25 layer chicks remain! Time to find a new home for the cat!

While I was readying the brooder, Claire yells out that she thinks Blindy (the lamb) is dead. Sure enough, he was – no signs of anything wrong with him. I think that whatever caused him to be blind and have deformed feet, must have finally killed him. He was nice and blocky, fat tummy (but not bloated) and free of the runs.

I gently brought his body over to the animal composter pile, placed a layer of half-rotted manure/compost on the bottom, placed him on the compost, then covered with a bunch of hay and got it soaking wet. In a strange way, it felt good to take care of him in a respectful and natural way. It will be the first use of the new composter.

August 9, 2006 – When it Rains…

We’ve had less than two inches of rain this summer, at a time when we usually receive about 12 inches. Dry.

That ended with a vengeance Wednesday and Thursday – nearly two inches in that time period, including sheets of rain pouring down in horizontal sheets. The rain is welcomed, but of course it coincided with moving broilers out to the chicken tractors.
They are still small and not able to withstand such an assault – so were were out just past daybreak after the main wind and rain front moved through, hauling shivering chickens back to the brooder building to warm up under the heat lamps.

I think all but maybe one will make it (keeping my fingers crossed).

July 25, 2006 – Not Three Blind Mice but One Blind Lamb

One of the bottle lambs we were given was blind from birth. He seems to be doing very well so far

He’s nice and fat. For a while, one of the other sheep acted as his “seeing eye” sheep, but now every once in awhile this one will start bawling when the others are out of his hearing range, but he comes running to the sound of our voice, so he’s easy to get back with the herd when that happens. He gets along quite well for the most part.

Any day this week the turkeys should arrive. Here are the luxurious accommodations, at least for the first week or two.

At high hopes we like to have multiple uses for whatever we can. This is a used stock tank we picked up at an auction for dirt cheap. It still holds water, so I put it on a small trailer and haul water with it from the tank that collects water from the barn to the raspberries or new trees. Now it is brooder to keep the turkeys separate from the chicken chicks. We also use it below the barge wagon so when we open the rear gate, any grain that spills falls into it instead of on the ground.

July 22, 2006 – Here We Go Again

Today a package arrived in the morning. Any ideas what could come in a package like this?

There’s holes in the boxes, the post office calls us to pick it up at 7:00 am, even though it is regular post, not express.

It’s round 2 of baby chicks! It’s sure easier to brood chicks in July than in March. Cousin Jill from California was amazed the chicks come through the mail.

July 17, 2006 – Harvest Day

It’s amazing what grows in a week or so. Today was a big harvest day despite the sweltering heat. How hot was it you ask? When I got out of the car, my glasses fogged up at the blast of warm humid air.

But there were things to do – pulling some more of the garlic was high on the list.

We did this first thing in the morning, but it was still hot.

Martin with the day’s digging. The girls were sent out in the afternoon to pick beans. They came back with a 5 gallon bucket and a grocery bag full!

I think the looks on their faces portray the joy of picking beans! We also had a bunch of raspberries to pick, and a big secondary blush of broccoli.

In the evening, since it was so hot and the supers were near full, Joanne extracted honey.

A frame dripping with honey.

Turning the extractor and draining the honey.

Finally, the raw honey in a 5 gallon bucket. All in all, a good day at the farm!

June 24, 2006 – We Saw Rain!

We went to Des Moines this afternoon and drove through sheets of driving rain. However, the rain at our place is more like the desert “1 inch rainfall” – drops 1 inch apart.

Here’s the view of the day’s heaviest rainfall – the drops evaporate before they can wash the dust off the back window of the van.
The chickens are nearing their final flight into the freezer.

They are enjoying the sunny days. Today the girls stocked up on baking materials for farmers market, getting sugar and flour in 25 lb bags!
Nana came down for an early birthday party for Martin and made dirt cake in the back of a toy dump truck – very popular!

June 20, 2006 – Shh, Don’t Tell the Chickens it’s Not Raining!

I found a new way to convince the chickens to go inside the night-time shelter other than shooing by hand or with sticks – virtual thunderstorms!

I just spray the hose into the air and as the “rain” comes down, they scurry into the shelter. No more convincing chickens it’s time to go inside. It works like a champ.

June 5, 2006 – Bottle Lambs & Dormer In!

Today, our lamb supplier called to ask if we wanted a couple of bottle lambs. He is off to the World Cup in Germany and couldn’t care for them. It was an easy choice for us – we have the milk (from the goats), the time (plenty of kids) and the price was right (free).

Today was the day the dormer went in along with the re-roof on the southern side of the house. Some people have a reoccurring dream about falling or getting chased. Mine is having a house that leaks (badly) in the rain. I’ve had it about a half dozen times, including last night. I guess I was a bit anxious. So, when the hole is cut in the roof, it gets my attention.

Here the hole is cut and the rough framing is in. The big hole in the side will be all window.

Here’s the view after the shingles are ripped of, but before the old rafters are cut. It will be a nice green light through the window.

May 27, 2006 – “Beautiful Weekend?”

The weatherman has been promising a great Memorial Day weekend, hot and maybe a bit breezy. Last night a small chance of late afternoon thunderstorms was added – but a small chance. Evidently the storm at 5 am that woke us up was 12 hours late (or early)!
This afternoon damaging winds blew through, not as part of a thunderstorm, at least not here. It made my work for the next few days clear.

I moved the chicken tractors out of the barn a few days ago to check them over as the chicks may get in them later this week. The wind wrapped it around this apple tree very nicely!
Lots of small limbs are on the ground and are on the garage roof, shed roof. A big hollow limb off a silver maple fell off in the back pasture.

There a lot of branches in the front yard snapped off, but still hanging in the trees. There were at least a dozen bird nests blown to the ground as well.

I didn’t notice right away that the back door of the barn had been ripped off as well. I heard Paullina bellering especially vigourously and went to check. I could hear a kid (goat) whining in what sounded like a part of the barn that wasn’t supposed to have goats. I went in and couldn’t find her. We still have a few layers of hay against one wall of the barn, about 6 bales high. The sound was coming from within the bales, so I started unstacking the hay. Sure enough, the kid (Millie) had gone through the place where the door had been, climbed up to the top of the hay and fallen in the crack between the hay and wall. When I got to the bottom and could see her, she wasn’t moving – her head was stuck between the bottom bale and the wall and she couldn’t lift it up – her momentum must have wedged it in pretty good. With trepidation, I pulled the bottom bale, not knowing if she had broken anything and she was fine!
We lost power and as I went out to check on neighbors, I saw the reason for the outage.

A powerline snapped at the ground in front of our closest neighbor’s house to the south – and didn’t fall to the ground because it was leaning against some trees.
The other direction from this neighbor, a big silver maple blew down (away from the house) and the small park a mile away lost trees as well.

Not exactly the “beautiful weekend” advertised! But now I know what the weatherman means when he says a “bit breezy.”

May 14, 2006 – Goat Milking

Goat milking season is in full swing. It’s good for drinking, making yogurt, and a bunch is finding its way into the freezer for goat’s milk soap.

Here’s the front end of the goat during milking.

Here’s the milking end of the goat.

Quite literally, here’s the kids at play during the milking.

I’ve got a little bit of feeling in my hands tonight of the long-time Minnesota tradition of fishing opener. It’s been cold and windy and drizzly/rainy for many days now, but this evening we went out just before dark to pull weeds from the perennial flower garden. Now my hands have that deep stiffness from the wind, wetness, and cold, much like repeatedly dipping your hand in the minnow bucket on a windswept lake in the middle of May.

This morning Martin was the perfect gentleman. As soon as Mom got up, he brought her the Sunday paper in bed. Then he brought up a cup of coffee. Then a bowl of strawberries with a dollop of whipped cream. Then some sliced pears, egg scramble, and toast, finally a piece of organic dark chocolate and bussed the dishes downstairs! This afternoon he took Mom to see a stage version of Winnie-the-Pooh. He ended the day, helping in the garden.

May 12, 2006 – Chicks!

I hope this title doesn’t get me traffic for folks cruising for non-poultry-chicks. They will be greatly disappointed! As usual, we can predict the weather on the day the chicks come without consulting the weather forecaster. Today is in the mid 40’s with 20-30 mph wind, rain. Yesterday was the same except 30-40 mph wind and lower 50’s.

Here are the chicks, tucked in their makeshift brooder, currently comfortable.
Those of you who have chicks will recognize the following classic chick pose –

the refreshing head up after taking a drink. I fell behind at work this week, so had to work more than usual – but it was a good day to do that. Also worked on getting the last of the spring newsletters out. More off the list.

May 7, 2006 – An Old Story

Here’s the latest version of the story retold many times over – the hatching of baby chicks. About a month ago we sequestered 2 White Rocks, 2 Black Australorps, 2 Barred Rocks, and 2 Auracunas with a Black Australorps rooster and put the eggs in an incubator.

Here’s the incubator about a day before the chicks are ready to hatch.

Before this, they were in egg carton like plastic holders that turned the eggs.

The first pecks out of the shell as the chicks come out. We could hear them peeping in the eggs before they hatched.

Here’s a little one just a few minutes out of the shell – still wet and looking a bit punkish.

Finally, they are moved to the brooding house. In here they are under a red light. I’m not sure we need a red light for these few chicks, but all the advice says to use a red bulb in case one starts to bleed, the others won’t see it. (In larger groups, they will pick at each other as soon as they see a spot of blood and kill each other.) These guys will get a chance to grow a bit before the meat birds come and can all go to the locker together (at least the roosters – the hens will replenish our layers). We are excited to see what kind of birds they look at from the mixes we bred.

April 18, 2006 – Bees Finally Working

Now that spring is here and things are starting to bloom all over, the bees are out in force after waiting patiently all winter.

Here’s a bee on a plum tree. The tree was abuzz with insects, mostly on the lee side of the tree to stay out of the wind. The unbottled fragrance spilled downwind from the tree.

Even the less showy maple flowers were attracting the bees, although not in this picture.

April 10, 2006 – Unfinished Business

Today, we took care of unfinished business – got the rest of the fence up by the trees and fixed fences that had fallen around some of the chestnuts in the pasture. Finished planting the potatoes. This morning Grandma Jo and Martin administered bee medicine to the hives.

Martin operates the smoker to get ready to open the hives.

Our good neighbor planted a buffer of 24 feet of oats/hay around our farm on the land he rents. So now both of us can worry a little less about drift.

Took a load to the dump – wasn’t pleasant as the dump pile was upwind from the unloading area and the strong south wind brought 78 degrees. As long as we were in the hauling mode, we went to town and scrounged for cardboard for more grass killing/mulch for part of the garden.

Martin and I went for a little hike in a nearby woods. We found an old garbage dump in one part and found some “treasures” for our neighbor Nancy – a cobalt blue bottle, an amber apothecary-type bottle with black lid, and what looks like an old lampshade, only made of heavy metal. We also saw squirrels and the first spring flowers.

April 9, 2006 – More Kids!

We thought Paullina was due in a couple of weeks, but when we came home from church there were two babes in the barn. That’s the second year in a row that Paullina has given birth while we were at church. Emma was the one that found them, she had a friend come over who arrived shortly after we returned home and she and Betsy found them and ran back excitedly to the house.

Here is kid #1 a darling black and white kid (no name yet).

Here is kid #2 looks like her mother. They are both females!
We also started to plant the garden – a little bit of lettuce, beets, larkspur, and spinach.
Here are the kids are cutting up the potatoes to dry up before planting.

Here’s part of a trench to plant the spuds – just look at that rich dark soil!

April 5, 2006 – A Great Day to be Born!

Today started out well enough. In the morning Martin and I took care of some small things – we pulled out some fenceposts to move to make way for the new trees. Martin could pull them out, drag them, and lean them along another fence once I used the fence puller to get them nearly all the way out.
Then we mowed the strip where the new trees are to go.

We uncovered the garlic from the winter straw.

We unwrapped the winter wrap from the peach trees.

We got out the ladder and cut some of the middle-sized pines to a single leader on top. We added some chicken wire to the bottom of some cattle panels so the chickens couldn’t get to the new trees.

Right before lunch, we went to check on Blaze, and this is what we saw!

Blaze had given birth to triplets sometime between 10ish and 11:30. She was a dutiful mother and was licking the kids with conviction. One is very small and was not able to get up for a few hours. Although it is windy, it got up to 70 degrees today, so it was a good day to be born.

Then the UPS truck comes with the trees I was expecting Friday. So, after getting everything ready for planting, I went to State Center to get taxes signed off and pick up the girls from school so they could see the kids sooner and help with planting.

The sound of the girl’s shouts of glee when they looked in the barn and saw the kids was worth a lot of mid-winter chores and then some!
After playing with the kids for a while – Emma tenderly and confidently picking up the runt and easing the kid’s mouth into its mother’s teat was very nurturing. Blaze had all boys. Last year we had 2 boys. If you count Martin, that’s 6 straight males conceived on the farm!

Linda got home a bit early and it was great to see all five of us working to get the trees planted before dark/evening thunderstorms. Claire liked to dig holes, Emma liked to plant, Martin liked looking for worms and the rest was just hauling water and digging more holes. Eventually, Claire went in and cooked dinner for us as we finished. We finished by planting four more peach trees that came with the firs. We still have the mulching left, but all the trees are in the ground. The skies opened up minutes after getting back to the shed. More good karma.

Linda and I had a good 45 seconds of bliss as we were alone on a corner of the farm, looking down a couple rows of orchard, beyond that two full rows of conifer on the north edge stretching to the end of the property. To the right were the windbreak trees we planted when we moved in reaching 10-15 feet, and a distant view of shiny white new roof on the corn crib. After the new life, delightful experience of all of us pulling together to get more trees planted, we were able to remove ourselves from the never-ending “to-dos” and could simply enjoy what we’ve done since we arrived on the farm. 45 seconds of bliss, plus the sounds of the girls seeing the kids is enough to keep us going another year. It’s the kind of day that deserves a Morning Sun home brew from brewmaster Mike. Today is a good enough day to open one!

March 31, 2006 – Jr. Beekeeper

Martin has shown a great affinity towards the bees and seems to understand and play out the different roles of the different kinds of bees in a hive. Grandma Jo wanted to make sure he was comfortable around the bees – here he is in his new beekeeper’s suit that arrived today.

I’m guessing he’ll be the only beekeeper at Halloween next year.

We missed out on all the severe windstorms last night, but got a good downpour. Since it is not forecast to be below freezing through the entire forecast period and it was very windy today, I took the cover off the cold frame (purchased at Theisens a few days ago.)

March 26, 2006 – Goat-Proofing Barn

Ok, so “goat-proofing” may be too optimistic a term for what we did today, but it sure sounds hopeful! Every once in a while, the goats climb over the feed bunks in the barn and get in the main part of the barn. Today, we put up cattle panels above the bunks to help them decide to stay on their side of the barn. Again, with goats, this is all theory.

If you look closely, you can see the panels up on the far wall. We also fixed one of the doors that the Billy knocked off, and fixed one door that had settled and did not close. So, now we are more ready to the kids – Paullina is scheduled to deliver this Friday.

March 25, 2006 – Seeding the Universe With Chickens

Today we had a visit from the good people at Gracious Acres. They put up a brand new chicken coop in the past few days and were ready for some hens. Our hens have been outproducing our egg demand, so they came over to get a half dozen. That’s two more than we were seeded with nine years ago when we moved here and had an empty coop and no clue what to do with chickens. We’ve now sent (live) chickens to two states!

Martin had a great time as one his his “classmates” came to his farm and he was able to show his farm.

The fun begins as the chicken round-up begins.

The chickens safely tucked away in the truck are ready to go.

I’m not sure how to caption this one – other than what more could a little boy want than a little girl who has a big truck!

March 1, 2006 – In Like a Lamb

March welcomed us with a nice 60 degree day. The most capricious of months, the temps in this neck of the woods in March range from a low of -35 (in 1996) to 90. The math comes out to a 125 degree range, the largest range of any month.

Today I got the pasture overseeded, the small fruit trees to the north pruned, and a load or R board hauled in the trailer – it was just right to carry 24 4×8 sheets with the cargo net – much better and easier than the truck.

Emma took the camera today and took this shot of Skunk. Skunk was the runt of a litter and has finally put on some weight.

January 16, 2006 – Black Astralops

With our fall batch of broilers we ordered 25 straight run Black Astralops. We have a customer from Brazil who wants black chickens, so we ordered some for eggs and meat. Most of them are hens, only about 7 or so are roosters, which is fine for us. They have not yet started laying – should be any day now.

The roosters are very attractive – they have an iridescent green sheen to the black feathers and lots of big tail feathers.

December 23, 2005 – Dr Barnes, Goat Medicine Woman

We’ve had an outbreak of Pink Eye amongst the goats, both those visiting and resident. The treatment is similar to humans, ointment in the eye. You can imagine the fun it is to administer ointment to a goat’s eye twice a day. We had a few who had an especially bad case and needed shots of anti-biotic to help them recover. Here is Dr. Barnes, Goat Medicine woman, before administering the remedy.
goat shots

December 11, 2005 – Goats with Attitude


I’m not sure what this goat is trying to say, but she looks like she’s got a bit of a swagger to her.

Even more goats came over to be bred by Billy. Billy and Ringo have been very cozy lately – Ringo wagging her tail furiously and sticking around Billy. The goats do not like to go out on the snow – there are very few tracks out in the snow.

November 17, 2005 – State Center Locker

We are fortunate to have a good, locally owned and operated locker about 12 miles away in State Center.

Small town lockers are a very important part of a local food system and economy. In this age of vertical integration of livestock, it’s good to have small independent lockers like this one.
Ralph and Janice

Ralph and Janice are the owners and they’ve had it quite a while and made some great improvements to the facility. They do everything for us but poultry. They do a good job of accomodating our requests and customer’s requests for custom cutting and wrapping of the meat, always with a warm smile.

November 5, 2005 – Date Night at High Hopes

Today we went to fetch Billy. He and Blaze “hit it off” right away. Blaze’s tail was wiggling and happy to see Billy. We’ll have Billy for about a month before he moves on. Hopefully Paullina’s time will come as well. We can sure tell there is a Billy here – it really stinks in the barn now.

Today Maizie entered the stinking dog sisterhood by finding and rolling in something disgusting. The girls gave her a couple of baths to try to remove the smell.

It was probably a good thing after coming home from the shelter – she is reported to be much more fluffy now.

October 31, 2005 – Graveside at Halloween

Note: Today’s post deals somewhat graphically with death and burial of animal remains. If that makes you uncomfortable, you may want to skip reading this post.

Today didn’t go as planned. I didn’t envision I’d be outside after dark on a chilly Halloween evening beside a shallow grave, watching the steam rise up from the intestines and assorted other organs of the sheep.

I knew I’d be burying sheep offal, just never thought it would be after the 10 o’clock news. I asked the locker to call call me after the sheep were slaughtered so I could retrieve the lambskins to start the first part of the tanning process. They promised they would. The renderer does not take sheep offal, so the farmer has to take the remains and dispose of them.

So I kept checking the phone every 15 minutes or so. I’m told if a hide isn’t quickly salted down, the hair will fall off later in the tanning process. Nine am passes, 10 am, 11 am, noon. One pm, finally I can’t stand it any longer and decide to drive in before I pick the girls up from school to either pick up the skins because they forgot to call me or see when they would be done.

The “Critter Ridder” does the slaughtering. His truck advertises he will get rid of problem bats, raccoons, skunks, moles, feral cats. etc. His side job is slaughtering the animals for the locker. I wonder if the guidance counselor in high school was disturbed when the results of his career interest survey came back.

Critter Ridder tells me he is way behind as there were a couple of emergency cows that came in and that the lambs should be ready around 6:00-6:30. I return then (missing trick-or-treating) to find nothing at the slaughter house. The lambs are not in the outside pen where I left them, nor are the lambskins and offal outside, nor is anybody there. I wait around for a half hour or so, hoping he had just run to get some smokes or a bite to eat.

I resign myself to thinking I’ve missed the boat on these skins. Around 9:30 he calls and says they are ready to pick up. I run to town to pick them up and when I return home, start rubbing the salt into the hides. There is something satisfying about this step. I don’t know if it is reminiscent of earlier times when hide tanning was an important skill for survival, whether I’m feeling good about using the a part of the animal most people throw away, but at any rate, rubbing the salt into the hides is satisfying.

After the hides are all salted down, it’s time to drag the offal into the pasture to the hole that Martin and I dug earlier in the day. As the darkness and chilly air surround me, I hear more than one strange sound as the offal falls into the shallow grave. In the darkness, I fill the hole with dirt, happy that this part of the day is finally over.

October 25, 2005 – New Puppy for the Farm

After our experience with Blue and the confidence Emma has gained in dog training, we now have a new puppy. Her name was Missy, but nobody really cares for that name, so we are thinking of a new name. We were leaning towards Maizzie, but when Martin says that it comes out like Macey. So we’ll decide tomorrow and get on with it. We got her from the animal rescue league – she is about 4 months old and a mixed breed that contains some spaniel.

October 22, 2005 – Garlic In

Today we got the garlic in (but not mulched). It does so much better planted late fall than spring. We planted five different varieties: California Early White, California Late White, Music, Chesnok Red, and Siberian. We planted a bit more than last year – last year we had about 200 ft of garlic, this year we have about 360 feet.
We also rearranged some chickens.
We moved two groups to garden clean-up patrol – the Black Astralops were assigned to the former tomato patch to clean up the rotten fruit on the ground.
The mixed standard layers pullets were assigned to the gladiolas and pole beans (the part of the garden most weedy by the end of the year).

I’m really loving these chickens in the garden after harvest to clean up the waste/seeds/weeds. They really seem to enjoy it and leave some fertilizer in place. It’s like getting free weeding and fertilizing!

October 12, 2005 – Aftermath

Today was poultry to meat day. Here is the aftermath of the trip to the locker. The day starts early – I rolled out of bed about 3:30 am and headed to the locker – the birds were loaded the night before. It was a restless night. Like the first night the chicks arrive, the last night is stressful. I was tossing and turning, wondering if the new system would work. I decided to put all the chickens in the new trailer instead of in the pickup. That way there is one “dirty” vehicle and one “clean” vehicle to take them home in. I had reservations at the first restless toss – I stacked the cages three high, with solid trailer sides on two sides and more cages on the others. What if there wasn’t enough air and they all suffocated? What if the few loose turkeys got crushed by a shifting load of cages? Thankfully, there was no loss and all made it ok.
Here’s the biggest turkey:

This is what a 35 lb bronze-breasted turkey looks like! Linda cut this up into many, many meals. It was also Emma’s turn to try her hand at learning how to cut up a chicken.

Emma was a quick learner and cut up her first one nearly flawlessly! After the turkey, this chicken looked like a cornish game hen.

October 1, 2005 – “Billy” and coop cleanup

Today we entered into a somewhat mysterious partnership with a neighbor we don’t really know in purchasing a Nubian buck from another neighbor who is moving, cleverly named “Billy.” We need buck service for our two ladies, and the other neighbor is willing to keep the buck at her place as she had many more does to service. Anybody who has been around goats, knows this is a good deal and the Billy goats are quite pungent. We hope it works out.

Linda had her semi-annual clean the chicken coop day. It’s part of our agreement- she does manure hauling, I deal with dead (animal) bodies.

September 27, 2005 – Honey of a Day

Even though it was a town work day, farming work was done today. Today, Joanne extracted the honey from the first-year hives.
Here’s a section of a frame of honey still in the comb.
The frames go in the extractor.
The extractor gets spun around manually to spin the honey out – think a giant salad spinner or a very slow autoclave for the scientists out there.
Finally, the pot of honey – kind of like making something from nothing – like fruits from sunlight.

September 25, 2005 – A Great Rotation

I’m especially proud of this rotation we’ve put together this year. First was potatoes and onions. After onions and potatoes were pulled, we planted buckwheat, which acted as a cover crop and great flowers for the bees. Now we are running chicken tractors over the buckwheat – the chickens are eating all the seeds and leaves and leaving next year’s fertilizer!
chickens on buckwheat

To the right, you can see the garden the chickens have cleaned up and towards the top, the buckwheat waiting to be eaten. The chickens are eating virtually none of their usual food, preferring the buckwheat.
Just as things were getting dry and I was about ready to water this year’s trees, the skies opened up with about 1.5 inches of rain this weekend.

September 4, 2005 – Turkey Update

It looks like the turkeys are once again reaching giant size. We’ve got some big Toms and they aren’t due to the locker until October 8th. A trick I learned when I was working with the Story County Conservation Board was to make an owl sound to get wild turkeys to call. Turkeys hate owls and sound the alarm.
We are growing the Bronze-breasted turkeys and I made an owl hoot and watched a Tom puff out his feathers and try to look menacing. The turkeys, I must admit, are a bit freaky looking, especially the waddle thingy that hangs down from their head. I’m sure there must be cultures who use this fleshy piece for things I would rather not imagine.
Tom’s big waddle.

September 3, 2005 – Goat Update

Today was another market day in Grinnell. It was “Happy Days” in Grinnell, so the market location was replaced with a car show. There were many more people in town, but about the same number of market farmers. We had ramped up, expecting to sell more than usual, but it was an ordinary day. The lambskins are popular – we’re down to one left.

The baby goats are growing up.

Here’s a portrait of Thing 1.

August 22, 2005 – Non-Gas Powered Brush Cutters

Are goats part of the solution to the rising oil prices? I promised ya’all before and after pictures of an area pre- and post-goat. Due to a technical malfunction (I erased the “before” pictures – you’ve all got to remember I’m still operating with a Dell and Nikon camera, not the Televac 62000).

There is an area under some big trees that is prone to overgrowth by mulberry and other brush. It has been a pain to keep it clean via mowing or cutting with pruners or a heavy-duty weed whip with metal blades, so I turned the goats loose surrounded by our electric netting fence powered with a solar fence charger. It worked great as you can see by the following picture.


You’ll have to imagine a brushy area under the trees, with lots of 3-6 foot mulberry shrubs.

August 18, 2005 – Got Goat?

Pictures don’t get more goaty than this! Here’s Paullina standing up against the lower half of the barn door.

Number One and Number Two are growing up nicely. They suffered the fate many of us face of being born male.

I promised more milking pictures. Here they are.

Hand milking is a long lost art. Here another human gets passed down this basic farmsteading skill.

August 15, 2005 – Welcome Blaze!

I know, Blaze sounds more like a horse than a dairy goat, but a dairy goat she is. She was a ribbon winner at the Story County Fair and some neighbors bought her a few weeks ago before they knew they were moving. Getting the goat home was like a scene one may have seen in a joint episode of “Sanford and Son “and the Beverly Hillbillies. The truck was crammed full of garbage for a dump trip the next day, so we brought the “new” utility open-top trailer and Linda and the goat rode in the back.

Here’s our girl, posing.

Here’s a head shot. She’s a great milker. We let Paullina rest starting last week, so it’s nice to get some more milk.

August 7, 2005 – High Hopes Salon

Today was the day for goat pedicures at High Hopes. Nothing but luxury here! We are rookies at the goat hoof trimming experience, but here’s how it goes.
goat hoof trim

Paullina is led into the barn to the goat stanchion for trimming.

goat hoof trim

Here’s a before picture of a very overgrown goat hoof.

goat hoof trim

Linda hard at work trimming the hoof. It doesn’t hurt the goat, but the material is very hard and needs special goat shears.

goat hoof trim

Here’s a newly trimmed hoof.

goat hoof trim

A picture of all 4 hooves neatly trimmed!

Besides this, we also got the chicken house shoveled out and lots of mowing and trimming around this year’s tree planting.

August 1, 2005 – Blue

Our new Australian Shepherd has a new collar these days. We just couldn’t break him of chasing cars on the road. Rather than have a dead dog, we bought a “training collar” (which is a nice way of saying shock collar). Before, when he chased cars, he immediately got stern warnings and locked in the garage, losing his freedom. So after a few rounds of that, he would chase the car against our commands, then run in the garage to get his punishment!

It seems to be working. We’ve had it on for a little less than a week and I’d say the chasing has almost (but not quite) completely stopped.

July 31, 2005 – Strange Days

Today was a strange day. We had a small chance of rain, it started about 6:30 am and I ran out to get the laundry. At about 10:00 I checked the radar and there was only a narrow band. By one the narrow band was still there and the last drops fell at 5:00. Two people said the clouds today were the weirdest they had seen. A neighbor called and left a message to look at the clouds to the north (I love the neighbors who alert me to this stuff) and my Mom sent me an e-mail saying they saw some weird clouds north of Ames. Here’s what they may have looked like, as I received both messages a bit after the fact.

April flipped out today. The lightning, although not frequent, dragged on for most of the day. She freaks out is storms ever since she was caught in a hailstorm that dropped hail big enought to break windows a few years back.
This is what she did to the back door before we heard her! This was an ouch on the paws as the broken wood is sharp!

July 14, 2005 – “Sweet Winter Chickens”

Today Claire and I were up at 4 am and off to the locker. She has written about it, but I haven’t seen it yet. We got the assembly line going today cutting up chicken – breasts in bags, soup parts in bags, etc. We left a few whole, but got quite a few cut up. The new portable outdoor counter I made out of the old kitchen countertop and some old refrigerator grates worked very well – the birds could drain on the grates, and be cut up on the counter, built for tall people like ourselves. Then the meat was into the vacuum seal-a-meal.
Marty helped carry bags into the freezer telling me. “Dad, these chickens are for winter, right?” I replied, “They sure are.” Martin’s response was “These will be sweet chickens in the winter.”

July 13, 2005 – Chicken Loading

We just finished loading the chickens in all the chicken cages for transport to the locker tomorrow. It’s finally become a bit of a routine and marking of the season for us. After dark, the chickens are loaded into the crates and put in the pickup truck. I postponed the appointment at the locker a week since it seemed they weren’t growing as well in the heat. Now, however they seem very nice and plump.

About 4 am, I’ll awake and bring them to the locker, hand them to the slaughtering man six at a time and in a few minutes we’ll have dressed chickens ready to go home.

April has now figured out her job. She used to bark and flail at the chickens as they squawked and fluttered on their way to the chicken cages. Now she just watches and spends the night by the truck under the yard light, guarding the chickens all night long.

We always worry about heat this time of year. It is not uncommon to lose chickens due to the heat. Sugar Creek Farm had just such an experience (my nightmare) earlier this year.

Claire claims she wants to come tomorrow morning. We’ll wake her up and see what happens.

July 1, 2005 – Sheep Finally Arrive

Today, we finally picked up our sheep. We got four from Goat Girls Farm near Runnells. Emma has promptly named all of them in the vacuum left by her sister’s absence. Without further ado, this year’s sheep crop!
They are still a bit shy, only on the ground in their new home a few minutes when this picture was taken.
Did you hear about the two shepherds leaning on their crooks at the end of a long day. The first one says to the second, “So, how’s it going?” The second one sighs and shakes his head, “Not good. I can’t pay my bills, my health isn’t good, and my oldest kid was thrown in jail last night.” The first shepherd replies, “Well, don’t lose any sheep over it.”
sheep We’ll have these until the grass dies in the late fall.
The turkeys are growing fast. Here are what our Bronze-Breasted look like today.

June 10, 2005 – Bee Swarm

Today as I was mowing the yard in a break in the rain, I noticed a cloud of insects up ahead, like a big group of something had just hatched. As I got closer, I saw they were bees and realized it was a bee swarm. Watching the bees swarm is like a train wreck – it’s not something you want to see, but can’t take your eyes off. They started to swarm on a white pine branch about 15-20 feet off the ground.

By the time I had run back to get my camera, here was what the swarm looked like.- bee swarm
You can see that just a few have started to mass on a branch near the top of the tree and many are buzzing in the air.
bee swarm
Here’s a closer look as the swarm continues to grow as the bees collect around the queen.
bee swarm
Another close-up of the main swarm body as it begins to elongate.
bee swarm
Even more bees coming in to make the swarm even bigger.
bee swarm
Finally, the swarm is at relative rest and all the bees that swarmed are in a mass.

It is quite an experience to see this phenomenon of nature and hear the incredible buzzing as they were swarming!

June 8, 2005 – Playground! and Sick Chickens

Today the playground is open for play for the kids (I still need to anchor it, put up the slide, and perhaps shore up some joints I think the manufacturer scrimped on and put some wood preservative).


We had a bit of weather this morning – about an inch of hard rain, wind and temps in the low 60’s. After the storm blew through, a strong wind 40-50 mph blew for about a half hour. When we went out to check the chickens, most of the 25 broilers in the chicken tractor were laying flat, drenched, eyes closed, looking dead. We scooped up the handful that were still upright to the hog barn and put the brooding lamps back on them. The rest of them, when we picked them up, twitched and opened their eyes, so we put them all under the heat. As of now, only three have died, three are still not moving, three look ragged, and the rest look as “normal” as a three and a half week broiler can look.

However, this is not as bad as our classmates and fellow bloggers at Sugar Creek Farm who lost about half of their chickens the day before they went to the locker to the heat. That’s one thing I always worry about – losing them all at the last minute after all the work and $$ is into them.

June 6, 2005 – Back Home

We drove home from Minneapolis yesterday and arrived home around 1:30. In contrast to the trip up, where Martin talked nearly non-stop. …right Dad? ….right, Dad? …right Dad? …right, Dad? He slept almost all the way home. I should hope that he keeps valuing my opinion as he ages! Today I got some of the thistles in the pasture mowed down, but that ended rather abruptly when the pulley came off the mower deck, along with some loose bearings. Not a good sign.

We moved some of the turkeys and chickens out to the chicken tractors. Right now they are close to the old hog barn, but will be moved out to fresh pasture daily.

Here are the handsome bronze-breasted turkeys.

May 20, 2005 – Dog Agility

Emma has been taking Blue, our Australian Shepherd, to dog obedience classes and today got the dog jump apparatus out for the first time. It was a bit of a milestone since it was the first time she has used the equipment since Frankie, our Shetland Collie died unexpectedly. She started Blue jumping over the lowest rung, and moved up to the top, exclaiming, “Blue’s a natural!”


Blue is a very fast and strong dog, so this jumping is no sweat for him, even the highest rung. Got a bunch of tomatoes and peppers planted in the straw that will become next year’s raspberries. All the cages are up and the plants are ready to

May 16, 2005 – The Leaning Goat of Melbourne

We have recently started miling Paullina, our Nubian goat. We have a nice milking stanchion courtesy of some neighbors. All we had to do to use it was to add a feeding tray so Paullina could eat while she was being milked.
The milking begins traditionally enough, with Linda pulling one squirt at a time.
Soon however, this must become tiresome for Paullina, so she begins to lean on Linda, gently at first and as she continues, leaning more and more.
This reminds me of a band playing in Austin, TX at the end of the month (I was checking out the music listings for when we visit at the end of the month). I’m guessing there is not a steel guitar or mandolin in “Super Heavy Goat A#$” (last two letters of band not faithfully rendered).
I think Paullina may be leaning because whe is a) ready to be done b) wants to have the other side milked, or c) want to see her kids which have been separated from her all night.

May 11, 2005 – Hot Chicks (at least we hope so)

Chicks arrived yesterday. We ordered 75 broilers, 25 mixed breed layers, and 10 bronze-breasted turkeys. One thing is certain, whenever we order chicks, the weather takes a turn to cold. Not a problem unless you need 90 degrees to survive. I went out to check them this mid-morning and the brooders and heat lamps were all off. A check of the wiring found that the old-fashioned round fuse in the building they live in was loose – I just had to tighten it.

Here are the chicks all huddled under the light after the power was restored. babychicks

Here’s Martin showing off his favorite! martin and chick

The turkeys are in a separate area – you can see a few sticking their heads out in this photograph.


Last night we finally got a soaking rain – about 2 inches – the first good rain since the trees were planted. It was a wet, blustery day, so Martin and I spent most of the day cleaning out the laundry room, doing laundry, and the biggest time-sucker of all – going through all his clothes in drawers, boxes, and bags and sorting to the right season, stack for future, stack for Goodwill, and stack for resale. Martin was a trouper, trying on clothes for a good part of the afternoon.

May 4, 2005 – Busy as a Bee!

Mother-in-law Joanne has picked up the beekeeping torch. It was one of those things we always wanted to do – and had much of the equipment – but never had the time and thought energy to do it. She is ready to set up 4 hives, with the bees coming any day now. Today and the last few days was a flurry of painting, constructing, etc. before the bees arrive.

busy bee

We greatly look forward to the honey and the pollination.

The upper 60’s seemed like a heatwave today. Lots of little things got done – tore apart an old gate made of wood and hog panel, finished watering the hardwoods for the first time, picked up the rest of the mulch that was dying for bedding, mowed the sheep pasture to keep the grass tender for the sheep who have yet to arrive, replaced one of the peach trees that died over the winter, started tearing apart the old trailer for refurbishing, got a row of beans planted and some gourds over this arch made out of a cattle panel that spans an unused portion of the garden where the poles are that will be used to construct grape trellises some day.
planting gourds

May 2, 2005 – Another Frigid May Day

Today was just as ugly as yesterday. At least when I washed the van this am, the water didn’t freeze on the vehicle as it was 33 degrees.
grow light
The seeds we started really want to go outside, but that would be cold-blooded murder on days like today. This weekend we put some of the broccoli and cauliflower out to get hardened off (used to real sunlight) but the wind really made them look bad, but not as bad as they did after they were put into the mud room for shelter and a dog/cat/child stepped/dropped something on them.

Let’s think happy thoughts, shall we? We are trying to incubate our first eggs. These are Guinea Hen eggs and are expensive through the hatcheries (about $5.00 each) and guineas are notorious for wanderlust and never coming back. We have two we think are a pair of the right combination, (although we haven’t seen them being amorous). guinea eggs

Guineas love insects, so we hope to employ some natural insect control in the garden.

April 11 – Goat Girls and Spiderman

Here’s today’s rainy day shot from in the barn of the the two goats and a couple of kids.
goats and girls

The girls learned about the not-so-cute part of goat husbandry today. As every parent knows, newborns have a predictable, if not variable excrement pattern. The first “discharges” are tarry and black, and once they start nursing, the semi-solid yellow follows. Well, shall we say the goats don’t have good “clearance” and much of the yellow stuff ends up stuck on the little guys. But other than that, they’ve been faithfully monitoring to make sure they are getting enough milk and getting the hang of nursing.

This morning there was a break in the rain, so “Spiderman” (a.k.a. Martin) and “Green Man” (a.k.a. Dad) went to work. We planted 11 more potted chestnuts and seeded and covered the mudhole with marsh seeds. Today’s rain has been just perfect (so far) that it hasn’t washed away the seeds. Spiderman was very good at fetching trees, putting empty buckets back on the wagon, and putting the empty containers back as well. Spiderman and Green Man actually worked faster than Green Man could have worked himself. Martin is fascinated with Spiderman, – I’m not sure where he came into contact with Spiderman, but according to Martin, he is half good and half bad. His Mom was a spider and his Dad was a Dad.

April 10, 2005 – GoatBabiesRUs

The mama goat finally decided to let loose her kids today, 5 days past her due date.

When we got back from church, they must have been only a few minutes old, a half hour at most. They are both boys (last year she had triplet girls).

I’m not sure what we’ll do not going out to the barn in the middle of the night. One of the girls usually checked around midnight and Linda around 3 am or so. What a feeling it must have been for the girls, to be up so late, walking out to the barn alone at night in the dark, wondering if when they opened the barn door, they would be the first to see the new baby goats and run back to the house to report the news to the family.

The first flowering shrub broke open today – the viburnums on the south side of the garden.
viburnum flower

April 4, 2005 – Frankie :(

Early this morning when Linda woke up and went to check on Paullina, Frankie was lying on the ground, stiff, only moving his eyes and his ears. We got him to the vet, but he didn’t last much longer. Evidently he suffered some sort of auto-immune reaction which caused liver and other organ failure. In hindsight, we look back and Emma recalls he didn’t want to jump over the dog agility apparatus on Sunday – I recall seeing him try to throw up something (of course, the dogs frequently try to throw up something, so I didn’t think twice about it.) Emma is crestfallen. We’re going to bury him in his favorite blanket and put one of the branches form the shrub he rested under on top of him so he will be surrounded by familiar things…
His last photo March 25.

March 24, 2005 – Goat Early?

When we were gone a few days ago and called home to see how things were, it was reported that “something was coming out of the goat.” Since she is pregnant, we assume it was the mucous plug and now she can birth anytime (about 2 weeks ahead of schedule).

This may complicate Easter plans as when we bought her, we thought that the april 5 due date would not interfere with travel plans. So, Linda may end up staying home.

Seventeen surveys were returned today. They are interesting and I will share them after I compile the results in a week or so. It was a very dark and rainy day, good day for a work day away from the farm.

February 26, 2005 – Got Goat

Paullina joined high hopes today. She is due to give birth April 5. Last year she had 3 female kids! She is 4 years old and we will post Paulinna’s photo on the web site soon so you can all meet her. Pauline is less than the perfect Nubian dairy goat as she evidently had her ears frozen at birth, and lacks the classic long ears of her kind.

Today Martin described himself as “Mr Cranky Pants” and no one argued with him. This accurate self-assessment will no doubt serve him well in the future. Besides class all morning and fetching goat, that is about the day. Tomorrow we can try to look at our outside fences and see (it won’t take long for the goat to show us) where they need a little help.

February 25, 2005 – Web Site Updates

Finally got the website update/redesign finished today. Still have lots to add, but for now, it is at least a bare bones presence. Was able to get outside some with Martin. We hauled and stacked Wednesday’s woodcutting. Martin is excited to become a “goatkeeper.” Tomorrow goat arrives. We made the mistake of reading the goat book, especially the what can go wrong in labor section. It’s a good thing I read the James Herriot books long ago, so I will be prepared for any eventuality.

February 24, 2005 – Got your Goat?

It’s all but official now. Permanent goat will be coming to high hopes. We have in the past performed goat-sitting, but we have just committed to buying a bred nanny. Our motivation is simple – we may nevermore run out of milk. The doe is set up to come in two days and should give birth within a month. At that time, the milking will commence. Of course, there are the minor details like building a milking stanchion and making sure the fences where goat will trod are goatproof. Daughters have promised to care for goat to best of their abilities. I’m sure this is just the first chapter of many revolving around goat.