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Farm Fresh Blog
Tuesday, 31 May 2011
To get the baby goats used to eating on a stand, I dragged some old pallets out. They happily climb up and chow down.
Clover reluctantly gets on the milking stand to eat. She has a hard time eating at the same time she is concentrating on this character zoom-zooming around the barn.
Slowly but surely it's coming together though. I haven't tied her in yet. That may be a rodeo. (the proverbial goat-roping!) I also haven't figured out how the head lock works. I bought a stand for horned goats, since the two weanlings have horns. It looks like the v-shaped bars come together to lock them tight - but - I don't like this part - the chain that locks the bars is designed so that a nut screws over a bolt to lock the chain in place. Sounds good until the critter falls off the stand. There is no quick release. GOAT PEOPLE! HELP me out here! How is this supposed to work?
I plan to keep the baby on Clover full-time for a couple more weeks. When he is beginning to eat solid foot, I'll lock him up at night, and milk her in the morning before turning him out with her. That gives me a little more time to figure out the stanchion and get her trained so she doesn't panic and fall off the stand when she figures out she's tied. Right now, Clover hops on, eats a bit, and hops off to check on Huckleberry. Then she hops back on, or goes to the weanling feeder.
I would appreciate any advice from goat milkers regarding getting the goats used to the stand. At the moment, the stand means sunflower seeds, pets, and scratches, so she likes it well enough, but she hasn't been trapped in it yet. That may be a whole different kettle of fish.
Saturday, 28 May 2011
Without the benefit of morning coffee, I headed to the barn to feed the livestock. (Pay close attention to the path.)
It's a short walk to the barn. Five dogs preceded me . . . multiple times. Back and forth they ran down the path. (That's important.)
See where Trace is now?
Yeah. Right about there. As I flip-flopped my way (in shorts!) down the path and got right about there, I happened to notice something in the corner of my eye. My brain registered the sight just a nanosecond before my feet did.
There on my right, just a foot and a half from my bare leg and flip-flop feet was a snake. YES! I KNOW!!!! (cue "Psycho" soundtrack)
Quit looking. He's gone.
But at the time, he wasn't gone. He was laying there, stock still, in front of God and everybody, hoping no one saw him. But I did. I just didn't have my camera. Five idiot dogs continued to run back and forth down the path, now fearsome-confused, because I had stopped. There was a break in their routine. Progress to the barn had stopped, and it confused them. They crisscrossed close to the snake, but he didn't move, and they didn't notice him. For all I know, they'd been playing cards with him all morning before I got out of bed.
So here he was, in all his glory, waiting to see what was going to happen. He was a yellow-belly water snake - harmless. Probably lives in the rocks beside the pond near the barn. But I still didn't want him here.
In the immortal words of Richard Pryor,
"Snakes . . . make you hurt yourself."
So I took a rake and prodded him. He eased through the fence and disappeared through the bricks into the Border Collie Bunkhouse. (which they won't be using anytime soon now!) It is a small wooden building that has doggy doors which open into chain-link runs.
Stanley the Snake moved into the Bunkhouse. I grabbed my camera and went to get his picture. He's shy. That's fine, cuz I wuz skeered.
No, my dogs will not be going in this building for a while. I don't want them encountering Stanley and learning they can play with a snake.
I'm sure that the moment I moved Stanley with a rake, Lily decided snakes must be erradicated (like roaches and mice!) and the last thing I want is her playing with Stanley (and not getting hurt) and then tackling a cottonmouth (with serious consequences!) I'm hoping Stanley finds his way back to the pond before I meet him in the dark and hurt myself.
Oh, woe is me. These kind of adventures didn't happen when Alice the Bloodhound was alive. Her nose never failed to detect a snake. She had learned from Frio the Catahoula Leopard Dog (the best snake-huntin' dog in all of Texas!) that snakes were bad and could never be ignored. You must call the Human's attention to all snakes! I used to turn Frio loose in the garden to find any snakes BEFORE I went in there to weed. I miss that dog . . .
Friday, 27 May 2011
These prehistoric creatures, the size of a Volkswagon bus, are coming into my house! We're in the middle of a drought. Dinosaur Bugs are coming into the bathroom for water. This is the expected result:
Come home late from work. Change clothes. Go pee. Note gigantic bug scurry across floor, dangerously close to my toes. Leap off toilet while screaming for dogs. Snatch up plunger and attempt to smash bug the size of a hubcap as it flees room. Scare the wits out of large black dog who responded to 911 call but is now afraid of the plunger. Scream for Border Collie who comes careening into bathroom and assesses the situation just as bug races under door into another bathroom.
Fling open door in time to see bug racing underneath another door which leads to my bedroom. Border Collie is now in hot pursuit.
Bug runs underneath armoire. Border Collie crams herself as far under armoire as possible. I thrust plunger under in vain attempt to drive bug back out into room. After repeated attempts to smash bug without crowning Border Collie, I give up. Border Collie pulls herself out from beneath furniture. Dust bunnies are stuck to her face. She reports that she has lost bug. Damn!
Pat trusty dog and pull dust bunnies off her nose. Go to bed. Get up in middle of night to pee. See giant bug hiding behind bottle of goat milk lotion. (the bastard!) Retreat. Whisper for Border Collie. Inform her that The Enemy is in the bathroom again. Her eyes glaze as she braces herself for combat. With plunger in hand, I pick up bottle of lotion . . .
. . . and the race is on.
Giant bug shifts gears into four-wheel drive and scales a basket containing toothbrushes, glasses, and soap. I hesitate to slam plunger down on him because, quite frankly, which is worse, a giant bug scurrying across your toothbrush, or a toilet plunger smashing it? It's kinda 50/50. So . . . I scream.
In an amazing burst of speed Bug crosses basket and scurries down wall toward floor. With the determined look of a practiced hunter, SEAL Team 6 Border Collie snatches up bug just as he makes it to crack in cabinet. She then tosses his broken brown body across the room, returns and salutes.
Who needs Raid when you have a Farm Collie?
By the way, some people will inform you that this is not a cockroach. It is a palmetto bug. Forget that! I don't care how you prettify it up. This is still a Texas-size COCKROACH!
(I Googled it! It IS a cockroach! It is the largest and fastest cockroach in the cockroach family! Eewwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!)
Wednesday, 25 May 2011
One week old!
The world is his playground!
"I'll be your Huckleberry!"
(My apologies to folks who haven't watched the movie "Tombstone" fifty times with their spouse and have no idea what that quote means!)
Tuesday, 24 May 2011
In the immortal words of Mark Twain,
"The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated."
But, for a while, I wondered! Yes, I've finally returned to the Land Of The Living. I think. I hope. God willing. And while I spent most of this past week in a haze of sickness, Life rolled on without me. Painfully so, it seems.
For each time I turn on the news, I'm reduced to tears at the horrors our friends and neighbors across the country have experienced. Please keep the most recent storm victims in your prayers. And keep this in mind; between the floods and the tornadoes, the Red Cross has been stretched to its limits, so I urge you to support them. As Other Half pointed out last night, many charity organizations stand with their hands out, wanting a share of his paycheck, but where are they during these tragedies? And yet, the American Red Cross is always there, on the front line, helping. Now they are asking for our help.
Donate at: www.redcross.org
Saturday, 21 May 2011
I looked out the back door today and the immortal words of Forrest Gump sprang to mind,
"Stupid is as stupid does, Sir!"
He has probably been like this all morning.
The search for alfalfa led this young ram to quite a predicament.
Yup. He's stuck.
"Hey Mum! Now that my head's out of the gate, could you spare a little alfalfa? I've been there for a while. I'm feelin' the need for a little 'pick-me-up'. Whatdaya say? Huh? Huh?"
Friday, 20 May 2011
The Universe doesn't seem to understand that I don't have time to be sick. This is Day Two of SICK. Yesterday I spent approximately 32 hours sleeping, staring at the ceiling fan, and trying not to puke. I did, however, drag my butt out of bed to take this picture of Cuteness Personified.
And now . . . I'm goin' back to bed.
Wednesday, 18 May 2011
Look who was born under the Smuggler's Moon last night!
Actually, he was born in the barn, with Dear Friend and Husband Vet assisting (just in case!), but the Smuggler's Moon filled the sky over the farm. (I was stuck at work in the city. I guess in the city it's probably called the Drug-Dealer's Moon. I'm just sayin'.)
His momma was a bit confused at first, ("Where did THAT come from?!!") but finally realized that THAT was her new Baby Boy Buckling. I'm still not convinced he's nursing well enough, but baby poop is coming out and one side of her udder is down. I'm just never happy until I see them vigorously nursing.
These photos are 12 hours after birth. I've had 4 hours of sleep. (late night at work) I was awakened this morning by a man calling to find a baby lamb for his 10 year old daughter's birthday. The man doesn't understand why he's having such a hard time finding one. He doesn't even need the lamb for very long because, and I quote,
"She's only gonna play with it for a week and then be done with it."
Alrighty then. I was speechless. Then again, perhaps that was for the best. I see why he's having problems finding one. I didn't even mention this adorable baby goat.
Tuesday, 17 May 2011
Christine sent a quote regarding yesterday's blog on "Know Your Food" that deserved its own blogspot. It is now my new favorite quote:
"A government big enough to give you everything you need is big enough to take everything you have."
Monday, 16 May 2011
Do you know your food? Where it comes from? What it ate? My Other Half and I have a running battle about food. We raise cattle. We raise goats. We raise sheep. He refuses to eat any of the above. Don't get me wrong - the man is not a vegetarian. Oh, perish the thought! No, he eats meat, he just doesn't want to "know" his meat. He would rather take cattle to the sale barn, get a nice check, and take that money to Krogers. I, on the other hand, want to know my food.
I know our cows are humanely raised. I know what goes in their tummies. I know my lambs. I watch them play in the sun. I watch them get fat on pasture. I know them. The kids and I are slowly dragging their father into this line of thinking. A large part of our lives is spent producing animals that go into someone else's freezer, it's time we changed that.
He's agreed to save a calf and butcher him ourselves. I'm saving a couple of lambs. Other Half may still refuse to eat the lambs, but the kids and grandkids will have no such inhibitions.
I'm drinking raw milk now too. I've found a wonderful woman down the road who raises dairy cows. Now I can "know" my milk. By the way, my milk comes from Sally and Sugar. I like that. My milk doesn't come from a plastic jug. It comes from a cow!
I've met the cow.
I've been to her farm.
Healthy Way Dairy - Grade A Raw Milk
I've met her pasture mates.
I've met the farmer who milks her.
Right to Left - Dear Friend, Dairy Farmer Irene Nelson, and her son!
I'm totally smitten with the idea that people can buy milk on the honor system.
Put your name on the list. Put your money in the bucket. Open the fridge and pull out a big mason jar full of milk.
You can pick your cow. You can pick your date. I know that my milk is from Sugar, who was milked May 14, in the afternoon.
I can return my mason jar next week and get another jar of milk. How cool is that?!!
Aside from the health and ecological benefits of finding locally grown, humanely raised food, I also like the fact that I'm supporting the small farmer. Right beside the other rights in the Constitution, Americans should have the right to raise our own food. Big industry is lobbying for legislation to take away these rights, and it frightens me. I'm all for convenience, but it often comes at too high a price. Industry tells lawmakers what is in our best interest, so behind a mask of concern for public health, bit by bit, Americans are losing control of their own food. I fear a day in the future when a farmer's market will be against the law, when the very seeds we need to grow crops are so regulated that it's against the law to grow your own produce.
That's why I'm taking a stand now, to support the small farmer, to support the small rancher, to make an effort to buy local, to make an effort to "know" my food.
For more on this I urge you to read:
Animal, Vegetable, Miracle - by Barbara Kingsolver
An excellent video on the subject - "Food, Inc."
Friday, 13 May 2011
After hauling cow hay, Trace and Other Half go the grocery store . . .
Since Kroger's takes a dim view of canine shoppers, Trace waits in the truck.
Other Half returns to find that someone has locked the doors and he cannot get in the truck. Who would have done that?
"Trace! Unlock the door!"
Fortunately for Other Half, Mommy and Lily are sitting in another truck in the Kroger's parking lot . . .
. . . so there is another key.
I didn't blame Trace. Who leaves a puppy in an unlocked truck with the motor running? (even if his wife IS sitting in the lot! Someone who doesn't mind having his ice cream melt . . .)
"I was skeered, Dad!
I had to lock the doors so strangers wouldn't take me!"
Wednesday, 11 May 2011
The greatest thing about hosting this website is the fantastic group of people I meet through it. We are like an extended family, and today, the family started sharing critters.
Meet longtime reader, Sue!
. . . and Emma June!
Emma reminds me so much of my Border Collie #1, Lily! Look! (Above) They could be littermates! I was so happy that she brought Emma! (She also brought the most adorable red & white Border Collie puppy that if I had played with any longer, I'd have arm-wrestled Sue for her! (Yeah, like anyone would be able to wrench a puppy like THAT away from her!)
Sue also brought her daughter, Gretta. (I wanted to keep her too!) My goat is getting ready to give birth and I'll have to learn how to start milking goats soon. Gretta is a pro at this! She has Alpines. The more she talked about goats, the more I wished she lived next door. (I forsee me calling her in a panic before I get the goat milking routine down pat.)
Clover tells Gretta a secret.
She knows a Goat Person when she sees one!
Sue and Gretta drove HOURS to get some dog-broke lambs. I had planned on keeping this group of wethers.
Ricearoni & Macaroni
Ken of the Malibu Twins
(His sister, Malibu Barbie The Blond, went to live with Dear Friend's flock!)
But because of the drought, we decided to cut down the numbers of both cattle and sheep. That meant I had to sell the lambs I'd set aside for dog-training. Unfortunately because I thought I'd be keeping this group, I allowed myself to get attached to them, thus, the idea of them getting butchered with the rest of the lambs, was a bit of a problem. (I'm a softie.)
Sue needed some new sheep. It was a match made in Heaven. (or Texas! Well, same thing!) So Sue and Gretta trucked across Texas today to pick up the boys.
With a bucket of feed (and the threat of Border Collies) and they loaded into the trailer.
It was great to finally meet Sue and Emma in person. I feel like I knew them already! It was kind of funny to see that they already knew my dogs and called them by name.
While I tried to keep Briar from climbing in the truck with them, the dog kept saying,
"But Mom! These people KNOW me! And I'm dry! I'm not wet today! Surely they want a large dirty white dog in their faces! Come'on, Mom! Quit being such a drag!"
(This is why they make dog kennels.)
Monday, 09 May 2011
We hauled hay on Sunday.
We unloaded hay on Monday.
Border Collie #1 supervises all activities,
waiting to be of some help.
After all, it's simply a matter of time before we need her. She knows this, so she waits . . . waiting to help.
And wonder of wonders, her patience is always rewarded.
This afternoon when unloading hay, we uncovered a nest of barn mice. Mice ran everywhere at the same time, up the wall, under pallets, across the floor, etc. Two adult police officers/special agents who carry guns, chase drug dealers, stand over dead men, and generally enforce city,state, & federal laws, screamed, danced, hollered, and pointed at small field mice scattering across the barn floor. (it was shameful!)
But someone else knew just what to do . . .
A pounce, a snap, and a rodent was flipped across the barn aisle
. . . dead.
Senior Special Agent Lily Langford has everything under control.
The suspect/victim (depends upon your viewpoint)
"Just one of the many services provided by Barbed Wire Border Collies Inc.
We thank you for your business!"
Friday, 06 May 2011
Judging by the response to "The Old Fat Woman" (-in-the-mirror) blog, I'm not the only one struggling with health and aging. Apparently no matter how much we weigh, and how old we are, we're never happy. One of the wisest things anyone ever told me was "save those old pictures - the ones where you think you look bad. One day you'll look back on them and say, "HEY! I didn't look that bad. In fact, I looked pretty darned good!"
But most of us, no matter our weight or age, eventually look in the mirror (or the new Driver License photo!) and say, "I gotta start taking better care of myself!"
Work out with Dear Friend. Drink lots of water. Weigh self. Stroke. Record weight. Blog health issues. Determination sets in.
Dear Friend goes out of town. Work out alone. Emphasize weights. Go light on cardio (lazy) Weigh self. Lost 2 pounds. Woo hoo! It's water. I know it's water. It doesn't matter. Feel healthier anyway. Progress is progress.
Work out alone. Lift weights with Dear Friend over the phone. (love earpieces!) Weigh self. Lost 2 more pounds. Woo hoo! Seriously, it's water weight. Again, doesn't matter. Buy $233 worth of healthy food at grocery store. Note that I could have bought junk food for less than half the cost. There is something WRONG with that! Real food costs more than chemical-laden, imported, food-like substances. Grrrr . . .
Eat healthy breakfast. Weigh self. Gained 2 pounds. Stupid Freakin' Scale! Tell self it's water weight and nothing matters but how I feel and how pants fit. Kick scale. Go work out. Other Half insists on eating at Italian restaurant for dinner. There is absolutely NOTHING healthy on menu. Grrrrr . . . We split a meal and told ourselves we were being healthy. Yes, Denial is more than just a river in Egypt!
Skip workout at home. At office, run up and down stairs multiple times. Major work-out. Decide that if I die in the stairwell, it would be a Bad Thing. Warn cellmate in cubicle behind me when I am running stairwell and what floors to search for my body on.
Busy morning. No work-out. Dear Friend calls to give her progress report. She is having problems working out while out of town. No problem. We will get back on the wagon tomorrow morning. No, wait. She has the Farmer's Market. Okay, Sunday. Sunday we will start again. Yeah, Sunday! Other Half wants breakfast. Give him multiple healthy choices. He wants Frosted Flakes instead. (sigh) Hand him cereal box and large jar of milk. He notes that milk is not in plastic jug and inquires as to why. (trained investigator) Come clean and admit that milk is raw milk from local cow (named "Sugar") - milk on April 26 in the afternoon. Other Half refuses to drink milk and eats his sugar cereal dry. Inform Other Half that he acts like a 14 year old girl and that from now on his name is "Buffy." He stares at me while he nibbles on dry cereal - unimpressed by my threat. Flat-ass refuse to make him eggs and bacon. Buffy nibbles on dry cereal and pistachios instead - refusing to drink cold, clean milk that comes from a healthy cow down the road. Buffy weighs himself. Buffy informs me that scale is wrong. Whatever . . .
Go to office. Cellmate in cubicle behind me has been inspired to run stairwell too. He runs stairwell and later informs me that according to the Surgeon General, he is healthy enough for sex. At least two flights. (Thank you for sharing that, Dave) I congratulate him. He has run four flights. Go Dave! Men obviously don't need as much motivation to run stairs as women do . . .
Wednesday, 04 May 2011
Trace waited impatiently for his broken leg to heal.
Now it's life in the fast lane again!
Unfortunately, it scares the bejeebers out of me!
And like a contestant on the game show "Wipeout," he is happy to jump up and get back in the game. (I would be in traction for months.)
Tuesday, 03 May 2011
My last two ewe lambs drove off in a Mercedes yesterday. Yes, the lady packed 'em off in a Mercedes SUV. They are to be the foundation of her new Dorper flock. I was feeling pretty good. I had cash in my pocket, and they had a good home. I had this ranching life down by the horns.
Unfortunately that all changed this morning:
Sleep at Cow House. Because I have a murder trial this morning, I must rise early, go to other house to care for sheep and goats, find a clean uniform, and head to the Big City. Drive down road and note beautiful blue dog trotting down highway. To my horror, note that it is MY BLUE DOG!
Slam on brakes. Call dog who is now sniffing noses with strange dogs through a fence. He is delighted to see me. Rushes into open door. Apparently Little Blue Dog is athletic enough to leap OVER hotwire fence and go walkabout when we're not home. DARN!
Arrive at Sheep House. Deposit Little Blue Dog in yard with Big White Dog and Black Wolf. They are happy to see him but refuse to give up information regarding how long he's been gone. Decide that since the ewes cannot go out in the pasture today, (since I must leave early for court) I will toss them some alfalfa. Open door to barn. Large number of large sheep come rushing up alleyway. Am caught in a sea of black and white. This is like trying to walk in heavy surf.
Cuss sheep. Go feed horse. Happen to look through barn and note that ponies are eating with ewes. How is that possible? Ponies are with rams and weanlings.
Uh oh! Someone has either failed to properly shut the gate (me?) or someone has managed to open the gate himself.
Rams and weanling wethers are now co-mingling with ewes. Holy shit! Two rams. Count forward 5 months. October. Crap! In October we will be playing "Who's ya daddy?"
Bang head against gate in frustration. Ranching seemed so much better when I had hundreds of dollars in cash in my pocket and I was watching a Mercedes drive away . . .