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Farm Fresh Blog
Sunday, 29 December 2013
Anyone who has tried to photograph Nubian goats will tell you that it's hard to get a good candid picture of them because they are so friendly that they see you with a camera and walk straight into the lens. Clearly, these little guys will be no exception. I have a harder time getting side shots because they both look straight into the camera and say ....
Here is a side view of the little boy and his gray ear.
He poses for mug shots,
but this little girl is such a ham that almost all her pictures are looking straight into the camera.
Now for the blackmail pictures . . .
Yes, this is my husband snuggling goats.
It was the view behind him that just cracked me up though. Raisin Bran is 9 months old. Next month he'll be leaving for his new job at the Houston Zoo Children's Petting Zoo, but today he was just a tad jealous.
"HEY! I'm cute! I'm CUTE!"
"No seriously! I'm cute! The Zoo People said so!"
Sunday, 29 December 2013
The babies arrived yesterday afternoon! A doe and a buck.
(Okay, this is not news to those of you who follow us on Facebook, but most of our readers aren't on Facebook, so it's news to them!)
Baby buck - most pictures are of him eating. He's a Baby Gut.
Baby Doe - most pictures of her are walking toward the camera. She is quite a friendly little thing and by this morning was already trying to engage me in play.
I'm most interested to see what color she will eventually become as she has these little gray dots on a brown background.
Okay, People! Help me name them! I was thinking about calling him Camo and calling her Truffle but I'm open to suggestions. If she has the temperament of her mother, she'll be staying with us. He'll become a wether and he may stay with us as her playmate or he may later be sold as a pet goat. We'll see. If he is as sweet as the little wether destined to go to the Houston Zoo, I may keep him. Although not as pushy as his sister, he is quite friendly. :)
And last night I FINALLY got a full night's sleep! Now today my mission is to get some good photographs. Cell phone cameras have a hard time keeping up with baby goats.
Friday, 27 December 2013
By the time we made it to the ranch last week, the ice had released its grip on North Texas and the temperatures were much more reasonable. (I say this as if the weather is a sentient being that can be reasoned with!) Anyway, although it was 43 degrees inside the cabin when the fire burned out at night, daytime temps were nice - if you were bundled up in fuzzy socks and a down jacket.
There is, however, a certain member of the family who scoffs at the idea of fuzzy socks and down jackets. Dillon is a member of the Polar Bear Club - crazed individuals who leap into freezing water for a swim.
Every morning he ran along the trails during our daily walk. Dillon runs three miles for every three hundred feet that I walk as he zig-zags and zoom-zooms back and forth down the road, through the forest, along the creek, and into the ponds.
He was a bit perplexed by the ice in the pond as it creaked and groaned under his weight.
Since he couldn't figure the sound out, he abandoned trying, and just plunged right in. Every freakin' morning. Just like a polar bear.
"Wwhuut? Come on in! The water's fine!"
On the other hand, there is Lily. She is NOT a member of the Polar Bear Club. Each morning she happily bounced and played in the frost but had absolutely no intention of dipping more than her toes in the pond. Lily firmly believes that when it's 43 degrees INSIDE the cabin, Border Collies belong underneath the electric blanket, snug as a bug in a rug.
Life really doesn't suck for Lily.
Wednesday, 25 December 2013
As the sun sets on another Christmas night, I'm reminded once again what an important role friends and family play in our lives. I am so blessed to be part of this whacky, blended, extended family. Dear Reader, remember this, family is not just about blood. It's about relationships and friendships, in-laws and outlaws. It's about who is there, in the good times, and in the bad times. We have a sayin' in this family,
"He'd bring a shovel to help you hide a body."
That's a real friend. That's real family.
Wednesday, 18 December 2013
It's official! The last jar of goat's milk is no more.
Crimson is drying up.
"Bout damned time!"
Clover is due to drop her baby/babies any time now, and so milk production (soap production) will begin again after her crew is eating solid food.
And yes, every night I still get up to check her every three hours. Sigh.....
Monday, 16 December 2013
All my holiday soap has been made, cut, and packaged, and most soap orders have already been delivered. Crimson is drying up now, so no more soap will be made until Clover's babies are eating solid food. "What babies?", you ask.
"Are you watchin' me again?"
The babies that haven't been born yet! We're still on Baby Watch for Clover. I'm praying she gives birth before we head to the ranch. If not, Son will be saddled with that responisiblity too. Thankfully, Dear Friend Michelle will be here to help either way. That said, I must shout this from the rooftops! You cannot, cannot, CAN NOT farm and ranch without a strong support system of friends and family.
Those of you who follow us on our Facebook page at Failte Gate Farm understand how worried we were about our cattle in North Texas when the bitter ice just wouldn't let up. Thankfully, last week Dear Friend Clyde braved the icy roads to count and care for our cattle as well as his own. There is a reason why when we number our blessings, that we count our friends and family as our biggest blessing.
Yesterday I attended my one big Christmas party of the year - with my girlfriends. We are a rowdy group of women who share a love for horses and a zest for life. We laughed, cried, and hugged our way through the hours, and I was reminded once again just how important it is to make time for friends. For life is not about the accumulation of wealth, but the accumulation of love. Life is about love, laughter, family and friends. It's about taking care of each other, easing the pain of another and making someone else's journey a little bit easier. It's about making time for each other. Perhaps the greatest gift you can give is your time, and your attention.
Time is a fleeting and fickle beast. Don't let it get away from you.
Friday, 13 December 2013
It's official! After Christmas the baby goats will be going to their new home -
- at the Houston Zoo!
Last month I was contacted by the zoo. They were looking for goats for their Children's Petting Zoo and wanted to know if I had anything available.
Hmmmm..... let's see...
Raisin Bran & Bailey (9 months old)
This is a wonderful opportunity for young goats. We don't eat goats ourselves, but the world outside our front gate is pretty eager to put a young goat on a barbecue pit. Young Raisin Bran is so friendly and trusting that he would climb up on the grill himself with a little napkin tied around his neck and say, "What's for dinner, guys?"
I can't betray trust like that. A friend of mine was going to take him but her husband wasn't too keen on that and so I had opted to keep him myself.
But the reality of life on a farm is that you can't keep them all. Here was a wonderful opportunity for any goat, particularly a goat that is young and tender. Lifetime care and feeding! No barbecue pits! So I told the zoo that I'd donate them and they came out and ran a battery of tests. The test results just came in and the babies are cleared for take-off!
So there it is, after the holidays Raisin Bran and Bailey will be headed to college, off to make their way in the world. A world free of barbecue pits! A world of lions, and tigers, and bears!
"Lions? Nobody said anything about lions?"
"Uhhmm..... can we bring our Big White Dog?"
Thursday, 12 December 2013
This post is from last December, but for all our new readers it pretty much sums up why, with the exception of the Blue Heeler and the Labrador, who put up with her antics in good humor, everyone else in the pack would be happy to 'vote Lily off the island.'
The results are in and the Employee of the Month for December is . . .
Miss Lily Langford!!!
For her tireless service, continued devotion to excellence in the workplace, initiative and creativity, Miss Lily Langford has been awarded the Employee Of The Month for the month of December.
Miss Langford proved her value once more this week when she took it upon herself to keep the goats out of the feed room when the Boss was dishing up sweet feed for cattle. Miss Langford noted the goats behaving like "gypsies in the palace." She observed The Boss repeatedly pushing goats aside and smacking them with buckets. Miss Langford then drew up a plan whereby she placed herself between the feed room door and the goats and disciplined (i.e. "bit") any goat that challenged her authority. The goats backed off. Peace was restored and the cattle were fed without further incident.
The next morning Miss Langford anticipated the problem and assumed the position at the feed room door without being asked.
So once again, for her tireless devotion to this company, Miss Langford has been selected as Employee of the Month. Because Miss Langford has also been awarded Employee of the Month for:
January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October and November, this earns her the title of Employee of the Year!
Could we hear a few words from Miss Langford?
"Awww man! That bites, dude! This thing is rigged! What about me?!! What about ME going out in the dark ALL THE WAY TO THE NEIGHBOR'S to get those stupid sheep?!! What about ME?!! I'm tellin' Dad! This is a joke! This is rigged!"
"What about ME?!! I penned that stupid red heifer last week! What about ME?!! This thing is rigged! That little brown-noser wins every month! I'm filing a complaint with Internal Affairs! DAD!!!"
Thursday, 12 December 2013
Someone's in the pokey!
Poor Briar is also ready for Clover to have her baby/babies because until she does, Miss Big White Dawg is in lock-up. I'm just being cautious since I had a friend who was losing newborn lambs to an overzealous Livestock Guardian Dog. Briar has always been great with baby goats and lambs, but I don't take any chances because she is a Very Big Dog.
Once babies are born and mobile, I return Briar to the flock. She never fails to be a doting babysitter, but I still worry about how she'd behave when a ewe or doe is giving birth, so I err on the side of caution.
Therefore Briar stays in an outside kennel, in the back yard, or in the garden (which true to the neighbor's prediction, has become another dog run! I promise I will replant it next Spring!)
Now here's another problem:
Big White Dawg has recently decided that Lily the Uppity Border Collie can be killed as easily as a squirrel, a rat, or an oppossum. YES! I KNOW! What is she thinking?!!!
A few nights ago Briar and I were doing a midnight check on the goats. As soon as we returned through the gate into the back yard, Briar launched an attack on Uppity Lily, who was waiting in the back yard at the gate. In Briar's defense, it is highly likely that Lily did a sneek bite to the back of her leg as this is a common behavior which Briar normally ignores.
Regardless of what started it, Briar grabbed Lily by the back of the neck and started shaking my beloved 30 lb Border Collie like a terrier with a rat. I had Briar by the collar but she was so powerful I couldn't get her off Lily.
Trace the Troll Dog zoomed in and attacked Lily's lower body while Briar shook her. All I could do was scream for Other Half to come help me get Briar off Lily. (It is a very helpless feeling to realize that your dog is so big that you cannot control it.)
Other Half came in kicking and we got Trace and Briar off Lily. Except for having peed on herself, Lily was okay. She had not attempted to fight back, she'd just hunkered down and weathered the storm.
Holy crap! Although I can certainly understand why the rest of the pack wants to vote Lily off the island, (teacher's pet/dictator/uppity bitch), killing Lily is not an option. It's a fast way to meet a bullet.
Briar is slow to anger, but is a force to be reckoned with when provoked, and she is even more touchy of late because of the unrest in the flock. Since I don't want to lose Lily (or Briar, since Other Half would shoot her if she killed Lily) we must remain vigilant about keeping a grouchy giant away from a know-it-all-in-charge-of-the-world-pint-sized-dictator.
"That's what I'm sayin'!"
Wednesday, 11 December 2013
This post is an old one, but I wanted to pull it out for droberts91 regarding the loss of a good dog. The really good ones become a part of your soul . . .
When's the last time you went through your junk closet? Don't lie to me! I know you have one! All sane people have one. If you don't, then your life is waaaay too organized and you probably don't read this blog anyway because the sheer unorganized, wackiness of bouncing between barn flies at home and maggots at work would drive you nuts. (but I digress . . .)
It was packed on a shelf, behind old riding boots that I can't wear anymore. One would have thought that like the board game Jumanji, I would have heard drums, but instead, I heard a heart beat. I'm not sure if it was mine, or his . . . but as soon as I saw it, I scaled over pieces of old dog crates, wrapping paper, and Christmas ornaments to reach it.
A moment before I cracked the rusty seal, I started to cry. I knew what was in that can . . . and I thought I'd lost it. The lid groaned as I popped it open. And there it was . . . there he was.
And I stood there and sobbed. I cried and I cried and I cried. Poor Ranger the Blue Heeler rushed into the room to save me from whatever evil had sprung forth from the closet. But as I sat in the floor sobbing, I hugged Ranger and assured him that these were Happy Tears. (a concept completely beyond Ranger's scope)
In 2002 I lost my Soul Dog. I was in district court when I got the call. He was down and couldn't get up, but he held on until I got home. We put him in the back of my 4Runner and I climbed in with him. He was barely conscious, but he laid his great head on my chest, and as my tears soaked through my shirt, I swear that I felt it . . . I felt him . . . soaking into, slipping into, my soul.
And I was okay with that. I missed him horribly. I still do. He wasn't a perfect dog, but he was my Soul Dog. For years when I brushed him, I saved the hair. SOME DAY I was going to get that hair to someone who could spin it into yarn and make a scarf for me so that I could wear my Soul Dog. I saved his hair for years. Then I bought his littermate, and I saved her hair too. Over time, and tervs, the stashes of hair became a bother. I'm not sure when, over the 12 years, I stopped keeping the hair, but I did. I even started throwing hair away. Then I lost him, and by that time, I couldn't find my stashes of his hair.
I mourned that dog like no other, and still do. He didn't just touch my soul, he became a part of my soul. And that's why I found myself sitting on the office floor, holding a rusty tin of dog hair, and sobbing.
I am determined now that Some Day has arrived. The dog and the hair have stood the test of time. God gave me a special gift in that dog. Now it's time to pull that lost tin of hair out of the closet and spin it into yarn. I know that several of you deal with wool sheep. Can anyone point me in the direction of someone who can spin Belgian Tervuren hair? There's a lot of it; it's clean; and it's precious, so very, very precious.
I posted this adventure last fall, and several readers graciously offered to spin my treasure into yarn, but as so often happens, life overwhelmed me again, so I packed the hair away and waited "until life slowed down."
Unfortunately my life never slows down. So my treasure sat in the closet, waiting.
And then a most wonderful angel, Sue in Wyoming, wrote to tell me that she was finally being forced to slow down from a lifetime of sheep ranching.
"Send me your Soul Dog hair," she said.
It was perfect, for although Sue and I have never met in person, like that dog, she has touched my soul. She just "gets" it. Sue looks at the world through a lifetime of living on the land that has developed a deep respect for life and nature. And she knows there are more "things between Heaven and Earth" than most people realize. Each time I receive an email or note from Sue, I burst into tears as I read her words, for they are so beautiful.
So I packaged up my Soul Dog hair and sent it to Sue, trusting that she understood how valuable it was. And she did.
She spun the hair into yarn and is currently knitting a sweater, but yesterday this arrived in the mail.
My head will be warm this winter!
She included a package of sage, and the most beautiful guardian angel card that read:
"Whatever you do,
Each time I wear this I will remember my Soul Dog, and the angel who brought us back together.
Wednesday, 11 December 2013
Step 1 - Step out into pasture
That's it. Just Step 1.
"What??!! Oh Helllllll no! I did NOT just run my pregnant self from 5 acres away for nothing! No grain?! No sunflower seeds?!! I don't wanna hear that you just came here to take some pictures. I want some freakin' alfalfa! Do you hear me?!! ALFALFA! Now! Get to it, Biped!"
Monday, 09 December 2013
Since most of the country is shivering in the grip of frigid temperatures, I'd like to take a moment to share a sliver of warmer weather with you along with my new favorite quote:
"I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don't notice it."
Saturday, 07 December 2013
Am in the shower believing that I'm the only one in the house because Husband and Son are at work. I am enjoying the well-earned ecstasy of hot water cascading down my spine after a bone-chilling morning doing barn chores when . . .
. . . . cue music from "PSYCHO."
. . .
. . . the shower curtain is ripped open!
. . . from the bottom.
It isn't Norman Bates, but it is a psycho.
A red and white furry face appears. Trace the Troll Dog has his green Kong dumbell. He smiles at me and drops his toy in the shower. It rolls to my feet and rudely bumps my toes. He stares at me like Obi Wan Kenobi.
I wait for the adrenaline still coursing through my body to settle while he grins impatiently, then I reach down and toss the damned thing out of the tub.
. . . aaaannnnd a monster is born.
I don't even have enough time to reach for a bar of soap before he reappears in another cold blast of air. He tosses the cold green toy at me and disappears behind the curtain. It rolls to my feet again. I know what I've done.
The cold hard reality is bumping against my toe. And just in case I was uncertain, the shower curtain is ripped back again and his laughing psychotic little eyes order me as deliberately as a Jedi Master to a Star Wars Storm Trooper.
"Throw it," he whispers.
And helpless, with the cloudy mind of the feeble, I bend over, and toss the toy out of the tub.
The subject HAS BEEN TRAINED!
I take a sidenote to point out that the subject being trained here is not the dog. Life with a clever dog involves lots of patience and persistence on both sides. Be keenly aware that if you live with a Border Collie, they will spend as much time shaping your behavior as you spend shaping theirs. It is a fact of life. Don't fight The Force.
And here is the really sick part.
I stand in the shower, well aware that I've created a monster, or more precisely, I have just been trained by a monster and have cemented this behavior firmly into his repertoire of annoying yet charming job skills. After all, who doesn't want to play fetch while taking a hot shower?
Even as I toss the toy again I consider how I will explain this to the other members of my household. The toy reappears at my feet. I let it lie there as I shave my legs and consider the implications of my error. Obi Wan Kenobi runs out of patience and climbs into the tub himself to retrieve the toy. He then flings it up in the air and out the tub. I listen as he plays fetch with himself outside the shower curtain before it is ripped back again, and the toy once again rolls to my feet.
The little red leprechaun stares at me with laughing eyes. I know what he's doing. He's counting. How many times must he roll the toy to my toes before I toss it? At what angle must it hit my big toe before he is rewarded? He is playing with the variables in his head. I continue shaving my legs. He wriggles into the tub, grabs it again, and flings it out. There is more bumping around as he sets himself up for his next try. He is a Tiger Woods on tour. He studies the slope of the tub and the position of my feet as I shave the other leg, and slowly, ever so slowly, he opens his mouth and takes the shot. It bumps my foot and I toss the toy out of the tub.
He is now both a mathematician and a pool shark, counting tries and converting perceived angles in his head. I waste hot water and play fetch with him while I wash my hair. And even as I create, shape, mold, and fire the monster in the kiln of a hot shower, I am charmed. What a delightful little creature! What a terrifying little psycho!
What a mess we made on the bathroom floor!
So the lesson here is this:
If you don't want to be the trainee as often as you are the trainer, don't get a Border Collie, but if you are charmed by a leprechaun-pool-shark-mathematician-clown-into-world-domination, run, don't walk, to your nearest Border Collie rescue organization.
And if you do, buy lots of Kong toys and bath towels.
Thursday, 05 December 2013
"A watched pot never boils."
And a watched pregnant goat doesn't have her baby.
Clover is so big now that she is wider than she is tall. (I think. I considered pulling out a tape measure, but that would be rude.) She is bagging up. Her lady parts (family-friendly programming) have a slight discharge. Every night I'm certain she's gonna have her baby/babies 'tonight!'
And every night I check her. I make Other Half check her. I make Son check her. And guess what!
Nothing. Nothing but a grazing goat.
Yep, I used this picture already, but it illustrates the situation. She looks exactly like she did the last time you checked her.
I'm hoping to find THIS!
Remember her last baby? Little Hucklebery! (I still wish I'd kept him. Oh well. Hopefully she'll have another cutie patootie!) At this point, I'm like most expectant grandparents. I just want healthy baby(ies) and a healthy momma.
Clover will give birth when she's darned ready to give birth, but the stress is killing me. (and by default, Other Half & Son, who are tired of my constant pleas for them to 'check my goat!')
Yep, still looks the same. . .
Sunday, 01 December 2013
I'm going to need a bigger dog!
That's a big pussycat!
Dear Friend Clyde took this picture of a cougar's paw print. Clyde's ranch is about 25 minutes from our ranch. (faster as the crow flies, or the cougar trots.)
They posted this picture on Facebook and my first thought, honest to goodness, was . . .
"I'm gonna need a bigger dog..."
(Those of you who saw the original movie "Jaws" will understand that line.)