Saturday, December 31, 2011

It's Been A Year...

What a year 2011 has been... It's been a roller coaster of ups and downs, ins and outs. On one hand, it feels like 2011 flew by, and I missed something; on the other hand, it feels like this chapter has drug on for entirely too long. I'm looking forward to 2012.

I'd Forgotten About These Pics...

Capri, in April of 2011. Heavily pregnant at the time...

I always loved that black triangle she had at the base of her head...

Missing my girl today. :( 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

What You Might Call, "Hooked"

I'm so pathetic. I laugh at myself as I see just how easily I'm pleased. ;)

We've been having a few water problems today; getting pressure right, and making sure that water continues to come out the faucet. That's always a good thing, right? Water coming out the kitchen faucet? I know I like it when that happens...

Anywho, water problems. We were having them.

Upon being warned not to turn on any faucets for awhile, I crossed my fingers, hoping that the animals would have enough in their buckets to last the night. I go out and see... An upturned bucket in the goat pen. The Nubians wiggled their ears in sheepish embarrassment, and Kiwi blushed. No one would fess up as to who did it, although Poppet declared quite loudly that it was not her.

So there I was, holding an empty bucket that needed to be filled. I stood there in the barn and listened to the rain patter away on the metal roof.

And then the lightbulb in my head came on. Personally, I really think I need to upgrade to maybe a 60 watt bulb now. I'm gettin' kind of tired with the 40 watt I seem to have right now... It's rather dim.

Duh. Rain. Roof. Gutter. Water. 

With gleeful delight, I got to mess around with the water spout, in the pitch black dark, and attempt to get the bucket and said spout, attached once more to the gutter. After a lot of water down my coat sleeve, I got that fiend where it was supposed to be.

I counted the time, and in exactly 53 seconds, I had an overflowing 5 gallon bucket. 

I was hooked. I started hunting around for another bucket to fill! Alas, I couldn't find any more than didn't already have a crack in the bottom, but now I want my own rain barrel with a spigot on it. ;)

I can't believe I never thought of it before. I live in one of the rainiest states, and I don't have a rain barrel system set up! Sheesh. But you have to remember that I have a 40 watt bulb. So I'm rather dim at times. 

So that's how my evening was spent. In the dark, getting wet. You should try it sometime!

Rainin' Here This Mornin'

Now, if I just had me a banjo and two other people. One with a guitar, and one with a mandolin. I think we could do a pretty good rendition of this song. :)


5 hours and over 60 wheelbarrow loads later, my barn was clean.

I am dog tired now.

I've been letting the bedding sort of build up in the goat pen lately, due to being too busy during the mornings to get to it. But today I told myself that I absolutely HAD to do it. The majority of the bedding was one foot deep. Some places were deeper. And the pen is 12' wide, by 25' long. That's a lot of bedding!!

So I forked, shoveled, and carted my morning away. It rained the whole time, which then made me start belting out the old folk song "Rainin' Here This Mornin'". I like that song...

"It's rainin', rainin', rainin' here this morning! As the Mississippi flows onto the sea!"

When you live in Oregon, you learn to work through the rain, simply because it's almost always raining here! You just have to put your head down, and slog your way through the job until it's done. I did a lot of slogging today...

But my hard work is evident. Not only is there a clean goat pen in the barn, but I have two manure piles waiting to decompose. Each pile is 3' high, and 10' in diameter. Big piles. Those will compost down and be used for the garden next year.

Hard work makes me happy. :)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Graphite Goat

I love drawing. But I'm not very good at it. I'm a perfectionist by nature when it comes to pencils and ink, and that, mixed with lack of talent, never ends well. I'm really good at stick figures though! ;)

I took art lessons for several years in a row, awhile back, and I remember one thing my art teacher was always saying was, "Loosen your hand up! Use long, smooth strokes! Just relax!" 

When I draw, I tend to use hard, short detailed strokes. I tense up and then get discouraged because the end result is not only the size of an eraser, but it looks pretty bad as well. If I can use a grid though, I can draw quite well. But using a grid has always seemed like cheating to me... 

Today I had the itch to pick up my pencil and sketch pad. My knitting needles have a half finished goat on them, but I couldn't knit at the moment. I wanted to draw, and feel the paper, charcoal and graphite coming together to create a new medium. 

My old art teacher would have been pleased with me today. My work is far from looking nice (looks like a Kindergartner did it), but I actually managed to use long, sweeping strokes!! 

Capri has been on my mind lately, so while listening to the mournful theme song from 'Black Beauty', I drew her... 

Yeah, this is a really blocky looking goat, and she lacks detail, but I wasn't going for that today. I wanted to see how few strokes I could use and still end up with something that resembled a goat. 

I wanted an essence, so to say. 

I think I ended up doing six or seven goat pictures... Some in black and white, some in charcoal, and some in color. Charcoal is probably my favorite medium to use when drawing. I like the feel, sound and look of it. And the mess... I like the mess that gets all over your hands. :)

I had planned on dyeing some fiber today as well, but the pot I need is in use, as some ham & bean soup simmers on the stove top. So that will have to wait until the 'morrow. I have a particular colorway in mind, too... It will have a name somewhere along the lines of, "Nubian Grace". :) 


Ooooh, I am stoked right now!!

In my post below about the upcoming goat conference, I jokingly commented that I should offer to teach a class. 

And then I stopped in mid-sentence. Why not? Why couldn't I reach for the stars and pursue the thought? So I wrote y'all to stay tuned, as I had a "light bulb idea". 

Upon finishing that post, I shot an e-mail off to the chairman of the conference, simply asking if they would be interested in another topic of interest being taught that day. My class choice? Herbal remedies for goats.

I received a reply this morning.

It was a "Yes" and a "No". Apparently they had already planned for such a class to be hosted, and had asked two different herbal doctors to teach it. Neither one of them have replied yet, and the chairman has said that if there is no reply in the next few days, the position is mine! 

Hoorah!! I may very well not get the position, but there's still a chance!!! :D

I must admit that I love teaching. I love it more than writing, and it's in second place to raising animals. I love that look that people get, when they finally "get it!" You see the realization dawn on their faces, and their delighted expressions as they find that they know what they're doing. People who once had no clue as to what they were doing; all they knew was that they wanted to know how to do it. They wanted that knowledge. And it never fails to bring me immense pleasure to help them on their way. 

So we'll see! I just may be teaching at the Northwest Oregon Dairy Goat Association's Goat Conference in February!! That's an exciting thought. :)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Oh Say Can You See...

Origin of photo unknown

The Liberty Bell.

The White House.

Fort McHenry.

The Lincoln Memorial.

Independence Hall.

I have never seen any of those. But my chance just might be coming!

There's been a slight change of plans in my flight to VA. Instead of coming home on the 20th, I will be going home with my Aunt and Uncle in Maryland until the 25th!! They are tempting me with suggestions of going to see some historical sights, possibly going to Lancaster PA (Amish country!!), and who knows what else they've got up their sleeves. :) I am beyond excited. What could be a better way to end a visit at Polyface Farms? 

Don't get too far away now, my flight leaves in 21 days! :D

Attention Goat Raising Oregonians!

Look what's coming up on February 25th, 2012! 

The Northwest Oregon Dairy Goat Association is hosting their 24th annual goat conference in Clackamas County! I have yet to find out what they're charging, but methinks I'm going to have to figure out some way to scoot over there to attend. :) Looks like there's going to be some good topics covered, and I'm hearing rumors about an AI workshop! Yes, I'm hopeless. You know you're a true-blue goat fanatic when you are actually excited about doing AI, and you can talk about nitrogen tanks, and speculums  as easily as talking about a new pair of shoes. Oh, and if you don't know what I'm talking about. That's okay. You don't want to know. ;)

I believe the link below will take you to the flyer giving some information... (and you'll have to click to zoom, so you can read the words!)

The NWODGA's website can be found HERE and they will update the conference page as they get more info.

Hmmm, maybe I could teach a class there... That might grant me free admission... Stay tuned on that one; I'm having a sudden lightbulb idea! [laughs evilly and skulks away]

Guess What I Got...

I'm sure you'll never guess. ;)

A rose colored Carhartt coat! I love it! :)

I also got my favorite movie of all time: Miss Potter
(it's an excellent movie, if you have yet to see it!)

What fun things did you get for Christmas? :)

Sunday, December 25, 2011


I hope y'all are having a wonderful day today!!

 Alas, we decided to celebrate Christmas on the 26th this year, since my older brother and his fiance both have to work today. [sad face] But their work shifts end tomorrow morning (both work at a Rural/Metro fire dept.), so we will all get together then and have a grand celebration! So today feels more like Christmas Eve to me... Everyone at church was saying "Merry Christmas!" but it didn't feel like Christmas to me. That's tomorrow. So today feels like an average day. We had pizza for lunch; a quirky holiday tradition we started about five years ago. I don't even remember why we started that, but we don't have ham or turkey for Christmas, we have pizza and whatever goodies we made the day before. Oh and let's not forget the the cinnamon rolls for breakfast. Mmmm. Now, I'm all for healthy eating, and homemade foods, but at Christmas time, I chuck every single one of those rules out the window for the entire day. I will eat healthy for 364 days of the year. Grant me ONE day where I can eat junk food. So our cinnamon rolls are the store bought kind that come in a can. I can't even say half of the ingredients listed on there, and I know its history of its making. But boy do they taste good... ;) And the pizza is from Costo. Hehe. But by the time Christmas is over, I'm ready to go back to homemade foods and my veggies. I think a small bit of junk food is good for everyone. Makes you appreciate the good stuff all the more.

The goats are all outside enjoying their own Christmas. Freshly cut pine branches, molasses water, and some small toys I gave them which consist of a straw bale for their jumping/scrambling/rubbing enjoyment, and a big yellow ball. Poppet adores that ball (it stands taller than her!), and pushes it around the pen in glee. They are such content creatures... A straw bale and  a yellow ball... They are so delighted with these small tokens! An online friend of mine gave her goats a Christmas tree of their own, but she used peanut butter to "glue" candy canes and animal crackers onto the branches. Ingenious!!! Made me wish I had a tree I could give my goats! LOL.

I've been watching some 'Victorian Farm' episodes this afternoon. A nice way, really, to spend a quiet Sunday. These are absolutely delightful to watch!! I love them! I want to live the way they do so badly that it aches... But it is very enjoyable getting to watch these and learn from them. :) 

Again, I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!! You probably won't hear from me again until Tuesday! :)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone! 

I've spent the majority of my day listening to this song. Good King Wenceslas, by Loreena McKennit. :)

Miss Jane Clucky

I am beginning to work on a knitted farmyard set for a friend, but first needed to make some "mock-ups" to get an idea of scale. So here's a practice chicken: Miss Jane Clucky. :)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Breed Apart

The most frequently asked question that people ask me about goats is, "What is the difference in each breed's milk taste, and how much milk do they average." And that is always one of the hardest questions to answer, simply because there really aren't any solid answers I can give! Each individual goat is going to have its own amount of milk it's going to give, and it's going to have its own taste. Think of it like a grab bag. You never know what you're going to get.

 But that sounds rather discouraging. How on earth is a body supposed to choose a goat breed if they're hesitant about each one? Over the years, I've had the privilege to own almost all the dairy breeds out there, and then try the milk from countless of other goats. Through much experience (read: trial and error as we bought goats that gave horrid tasting milk!), I've gotten to know each breed's quirks and histories, and I've come to realize that it actually is possible to give people an idea of what to expect from each breed.

So I thought I would go through the breeds here and introduce them to y'all. I would like to state again though, that each goat will vary. I know people who swear that Saanens give the best tasting milk above all other goats, and other people who wouldn't touch a Saanen with a 10 foot pole. So this post is going to have a lot of blanket statements, as I try and give you an overview of the dairy breeds. Bear with me here.

Photo courtesy of Redwood Hill Farm
 First off would be the Saanen. This lovely doe is owned by Redwood Hill Farm. Saanens are one of, if not THE, top producers of the dairy breeds. 2-3 gallons per day is not uncommon, although most will average 1 1/2 gallons per day. Their downside is that their butterfat is only 2% to 3%. Now, if you are used to drinking two percent milk from the grocery store, then you would probably do alright with these big gals. But if you've tasted other raw milks like Jersey cow, or Nubian or Nigerian goat milk, you might be disappointed. In plain English, it's rather bland and watery. 

Side note: as we go along, and I'm jabbering on and on about butterfat percentages, and you have no idea how to imagine that. Compare it with store bought milk. That 1/2 and 1/2 cream you buy from there would be the equivalent of almost 10% butterfat. Two percent milk is, of course, 2% butterfat. In my mind, I imagine a cream line. If you are familiar with raw cow milk and how the cream rises then you might understand better. 

Back to the goats now.

Photo courtesy of Iron Rod French Alpines
Next up is the Alpine. This gorgeous gal is called 'Iron Rod Rhett Stunning'. Aptly named. Iron Rod farms is one of the top leading Alpine breeders in the Nation. And by the way, I'm posting pictures of what I feel are the best examples of each breed. I've chosen pictures from top breeders so you can see just what "a good one looks like".

Alpines probably vary the most when it comes to milk taste. They really do vary from breeder to breeder. The majority though, give really nice tasting milk. Alpines are no-nonsense milkers, and are very steady producers. Milk averages also vary, but a decent Alpine should give at least 1 gallon per day. Really good Alpines will give 2 to 3 gallons per day. Butterfat content is about 3.5% so sweeter than the Saanen, but not overbearingly rich. These are good gals.

Photo courtesy of Saada Nubians

And then we have the Nubians... Oh I love this black doe. This is 'Saada's El-Pekah' and my all time favorite doe. This is what a Nubian should look like. Nubians vary greatly in milk averages simply because there are so many bad specimens of them out there, and so many people who don't breed for better goats. A good Nubian can keep the pace with her European cousins very well, and easily give 2 gallons a day, but that's a pretty high amount. 1 gallon is pretty average for a fairly decent doe. I like to see first fresheners (term for a 1 year old doe who has kidded for the first time) giving 3/4 gallon per day. That's my standard. If you look on Craigslist though, you'll most likely see a lot of older Nubians who are called "excellent milkers" as they give 1/2 gallon per day. Whoop de doo. Their milk is sweet tasting, and averaging 4% to 5% in butterfat. I have yet to meet a Nubian who gave funny tasting milk. 

Photo courtesy of Royal Cedars Dairy
Toggenburgs are next up. These ladies are impressive milkers, pumping out 2 gallons or more each day while remaining steady in production. This doe pictured is a recently deceased doe named, 'Easter' from some fellow breeders over at Royal Cedars. However, these goats originated in the Swiss Alps and were bred specifically for strong, goaty tasting milk. And many Toggs hold true to that! I've spoken with quite a few Togg breeders and they will sheepishly admit that they don't drink their milk; they keep Nubians, or some other breed to supply drinking milk. Their Toggs are just for show. But, if you like goaty flavored milk, maybe this is your breed! Butterfat content hovers around 3%. Same as the Alpines.

Photo courtest of Ober-Boerd Dairy Goats

And the Oberhaslis... Oh I love the way the "Obers" look. Oberhaslis are excellent producers, just like the rest of their European cousins. Two gallons per day is considered normal for many breeders, and three gallons isn't uncommon. Butterfat is close to the Toggenburg and the Alpine as they stick close to 2.5% to 3.5%. But, just like the Toggs, Oberhaslis are a Swiss breed, and they have the trademark taste. Strong tasting. I remember my first Oberhasli doe I had... Her name was Alexis and I loved her to pieces. But I honestly thought she had mastitis when I tried her milk for the first time. I took a small jar to the breeder and asked what was wrong. She tasted it and said nothing was wrong: that's what Ober milk tastes like! Needless to say, Alexis went back to the breeder. I've had a handful of other people ask this same question. Why does their lovely Oberhasli's milk taste like the animal has mastitis?? I do have a friend in Ohio who says her Obers give normal tasting milk though, so it's possible that some breeders have been able to eliminate that gene from their herd. My advice is if you're looking at purchasing an Oberhasli, try her milk. If she's a doeling, try her mother's milk.

Photo courtesy of Alder*Rose Dairy Goats

La Manchas: I have to say, I really like La Manchas. An Oregonian breed, La Manchas give large quantities of sweet tasting milk. Most does average 1-2 gallons per day, and butterfat percentage is usually 4% to 4.5%. Calm, steady does, if you don't mind the ears (or lack of them), La Manchas are a really good choice. And if you don't like their ears, buy one anyway. You'll be hooked soon after. ;)

Oh, and this gal is from Alder*Rose Dairy Goats. :)

Photo courtesy of Dragonfly Farm

Nigerians are a fun breed. This particular doe is from Dragonfly Farm, over in MA. Does can give from 2 cups, to 3/4 a gallon per day. I have a friend who has two does that each give 1/2 gallon per day, and it amazes me every time I see those does. They're only eighteen inches tall! Butterfat ranges from 6% to 10%. So there's your cream for the morning coffee! does will start at 6% in the beginning of their lactation, and by the time they hit their peak (8 weeks) the butterfat will have risen to 8% to 10%. This stuff is sooooo good. ;) But then, I'm a cream lover. No two percent for me! LOL. I would say a good average is three cups of milk per day from each doe. That's what I hear from most breeders. 

Photo courtesy of Rubystar Guernseys and Nubians
Lastly, but not leastly, is the Guernsey. Pictured is Bluecollar Garnet, who happens to also be Kiwi's dam (Kiwi is my Guernsey cross for those of you who are new here). Guernseys are still considered a rare breed here in the USA, and breeders are still trying to get good foundation lines down. But I'm hearing an average of 1 gallon per day from many does, and butterfat percentages are usually 6% to 8%. So their milk is sweeter than Nubians, but not so sweet as Nigerians. Guernseys are one of the best breeds for forage based dairies, as they are able to efficiently convert grass to milk, whereas the high producing breeds like the Alpine, Saanen, Toggenburg, and Oberhasli need grain in order to keep production up. 

So there you have it! An idea of what to expect from each breed! 

The Latest Addition

The knitted goats were getting bored, and wanted some different company other than that of more goats.

So I obligingly made Rosie for them...

Made with baby pink yarn of oh-so-soft cotton, Rosie doesn't fail to bring a smile around here. :)

 Yep, we got ourselves a pig around here.

Miss Rosie appears to be a purebred Yorkshire gilt (Yorkshire is a breed; 'gilt' is a term for a young female hog), and true to porcine fashion, she is quite rotund.

I had a few other name ideas for her, but went with Rosie in the end, in honor of Katherine Dunn's adorable Potbellied porker. (click link to be taken to Katherine's blog)

Unlike most pigs though, this Rosie doesn't eat much, which pleases me. I do tend to like the feed efficient types...

The pattern I used was... Interesting. I had bought it so I could make pigs that were to scale with the rest of my barnyard animals, but I found out after buying it that this pig is 6.5" high and 8" long. Way too big!!

But oh well. She's cute. I'll just have to tweak the pattern some, to get the right size.

I did also make a trio of sheep and a Border Collie dog this week, but I had a stroke of forgetfulness and completely forgot to get pictures of them before I shipped them off! Argh!

Next up on my needles are a few horses, and then most like more goats! LOL. I have been tickled pink at all the orders that have been coming in lately! Very nice...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011


This made me smile as I watched the little gamboling kids, and then made me sigh; knowing I won't have any this spring.

Thought I'd share it with y'all. :)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Guardians of the Winter Home

"Don't be afraid. My beard is long, my head is large, my look is grim, but that matters not. I won't bite you. In spite of my big mouth and grim appearance, I look with my heart for your happiness." 
~Steinbach Nutcracker history~

If there is one thing in life that I love collecting, it's nutcrackers. 

We have somewhere around 37 or 38 nutcrackers right now; all ranging from 3 inches to 18 inches. Soldiers to bakers. Snowmen to Spaniards with guitars. Moose to US Marines. Seamstresses to Hockey players. Policemen to penguins. 

They stand guard in the house, baring their teeth at strangers and grimly keeping their post. Well, now that I think about it, the penguin nutcracker might be smiling... Hmm, I'll have to go have a chat with him about that later. But setting out the nutcrackers is my favorite part of Christmas. It's like seeing old friends as we unwrap their wooden faces from the newspaper that has protected them for the last eleven months. 

Their wood is cold as we fish them out from the Christmas box... They've been hibernating in the shop since last December. They smell faintly of dampness, but it wears off as they warm up inside. We discuss where to put each one, so that it can show off it's uniqueness to its best advantage. The candy striped baker somehow ends up standing next to the camouflage Army soldier, the penguin is next to the cowboy. The Spaniard strums his instrument next to the drummers, and the seamstress smiles next to the snowman. 

Each year, we try to add two or three new nutcrackers to the growing collection. This is no ordinary search, though. It's a hunt. Not just any nutcracker will do; it has to be the most unique one we can find that year. Something needs to make it stand out from the rest of his nutcracking mates before we will consider him. We scour the local shops, finding the perfect "him", and oh the glory when we succeed in our quest! Our newest addition is carefully brought home, and then proudly displayed with the rest.

Yet another guardian of the winter home.

Best Places to Hide Christmas Presents

Christmas is almost here! But where to hide those presents so no one finds them?!?! Here are a few places that should work, should you need some ideas...

1. In the oven. But please remember to take the gift our before baking!

2. Up the chimney. This is an especially good spot if you don't mind a bit of soot on the wrapping paper...

3. Inside the turkey. C'mon, who on earth would think to look for their present inside the Christmas turkey!?

4. Underneath the cat. You can't go wrong on this one.

5. On top of the mantle. No one looks there because it's too easy.

6. Underneath the car hood. Excellent spot, that one is... Guys, this is probably the best place to hide gifts for the gal in your life! She'll never look there! 

7. Inside the piano. See? Those monstrous instruments do have a use!

8. Inside a tissue box. Genius... Pure genius...

9. In the animal's feed bin. Who wouldn't love a gift that smells faintly of grain, and has a slight tack from molasses?

10. In the lawnmower bag. I think this is your best bet if secrecy is vital.

11. Glued to the bottom of a dining room chair. You might try the guerrilla glue... Super glue has a tendency to stop working at odd moments. 

And Number 12. Beneath the Christmas tree. Because, after all, who on earth would look there for a hidden present...? 

Saturday, December 17, 2011


Photo courtesy of Flickr

One day, the father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to the country with the express purpose of showing him how poor people live. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.

On their return from their trip, the father asked his son, "What did you think of the trip?"

"It was great, Dad."

"Did you see how the poor people lived?" The father asked.

"Oh yeah." Said the son.

"So, tell me, what did you learn from the trip?" Asked the father.

The son answered:

 "I saw that we have one dog, and they have four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden, and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden, and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard, and they have the whole horizon. We have a small piece of land to live on, and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us; they have friends to protect them."

The boy's father was speechless.

Then his son added, "Thanks Dad for showing me how poor we are."

Isn't perspective a wonderful thing? Makes you wonder what would happen if we all gave thanks for everything we have, instead of worrying about what we don't have...

~Author of story unknown~

Thursday, December 15, 2011


If my blog posts seem to be rather erratic these days, it's because they are.

Christmas will be nine days away come tomorrow, and I am frantically trying to finish up the last orders for knitted goats!! I think I have to make two more, and then finish two up before I'm done... I made two goats today, and seeing as each goat takes three hours to make, that means I sat on my duff for six solid hours on this fine day with needles and yarn in my hands.

 It was nice. ;)

Yesterday morning was gloriously spent at the town library, as the family dropped me off and went to do errands. The fines on my library card were a testament to how much time has lapsed since I was last there, but I paid those pesky things with a smile. I got to go to the library!! Whoohoo! And not only did I get to explore endless aisles of books, but I even got to take my own sweet time. If I'm rushed, I can get in and out of that library in 45 minutes. Don't ask how long I was there yesterday... Just know that my "book crate on wheels" was groaning precariously, and I did have to kick the bottom back together twice. But I did it out of sight from the librarians, so they wouldn't know who was doing the horrendous banging. I checked out my boat load of books and started on down to historic 3rd Street. 

Admittedly, I did feel a little conspicuous traveling down the street with a black, plastic crate on wheels that looked like it might fall apart at any moment, but I wasn't going too far, so I didn't worry about it too much. My destination after the library was the 'Knitting Basket'. My favorite yarn store. And oh did I shop... It's always more fun to shop when you're not spending your own money, as was my case that day. I received a check in the mail to pay for the supplies to make 50-100 knitted goats, and I was now buying those supplies.

 I was like a kid in a candy store. 

After much hunting around, and petting of skeins, I settled on my choices and un-gracefully plopped my purchases onto the store counter. They really should look into getting baskets there.... True to typical fashion, I always find more things after I've paid. So I had to get back in line again. But what I got was worth it... I've unashamedly lusted after these for over a year now, so I told myself "Merry Christmas", and bought myself a present.

Square, Rosewood knitting needles.

Fellow knitters, please swoon.

Non-knitters, please raise an eyebrow and give me an indulgent smile.

Thank you.

I'll have to get a picture of my treasure sometime tomorrow, but I am head over heels in love with these new needles. I mean, come on, how often do you see square knitting needles? And Rosewood ones? Shucks, here's the debit card lady, please put the needles in my bag. Eighty percent of my reason for getting them is pure novelty. I wanted to try them out! The other 20% of my reasoning was I wanted to see if they helped my wrists at all. The packaging of course claims that it's better for your hands and cuts down on muscle fatigue, and blah, blah, blah, but doesn't everything say that? Okay maybe not everything, but it's close. Back to the original subject though: My left wrist doesn't function properly, ever since I broke it in a horse accident three years ago. The bone wasn't set properly, so it causes a lot of pain these days. I wasn't expecting these needles to be a magic solution, but I figured I could pay ten bucks and see if the hype was true or not.

I haven't used my new needles enough to know if they do what is said they will do, but at this point I don't care. I love 'em. :)

So yes, I am cramming my days with knitted goats. I'm stressing because I still need to get this month's CSA yarn shipment off, I need to make more soap out of that lard, and I have things to do outside. I'm trying not to stress, but it still creeps up on me at odd moments throughout the day.

Other than the six hours working on goats, I got to hop over to a friend's house to see their new Nubian goats, and help them milk their new gal. I guess I shouldn't say "new" goats, seeing as one is Shilling, who was mine, and the other is a doe from a fellow breeder. But hey, they're new to my friends, so therefore they are new to me. And boy howdy do I like that older doe of theirs... Her name is Lily, and wow. What. A. Looker. I told my friends that if she has two doelings (they plan on keeping one) I dibs the second. I need want a doeling from this gal. She's chocolate brown in color, and absolutely huge. She is thick, heavyset, massive... Are those all synonyms? Eh, if they are, I'm using them as if they weren't. She's a big girl. You can't think the word "petite" around her without laughing. My Saanen/La Mancha doe, Heidi, is almost 200 lbs. and I can handle her pretty well. I grabbed Lily's collar to take her to the milk stand, and she started walking in the opposite direction and dragged me with her! I actually fell over and slid across the straw as she nonchalantly walked away. Stubborn. Powerful. Interesting mix. 

Here's a pic of her majesty:

Picture courtesy of Royal Cedar's Nubians
Do you see now why I want one of her daughters?

I also sold my young rabbits this evening. Four young bucks, and two does. I was going to butcher the males, but decided that I need some money right now more than I need rabbit meat. I kept one male out of that litter. The biggest one of them all, and he's blue! I'm a sucker for blues. It was an interesting evening. I've been raising rabbits for eight years now, but that gentleman made me feel like I know absolutely nothing. I think it was the way he talked down to me... I felt like a 10 year old again standing there with my rabbits. Or maybe it was that he said my buck (Basil Stag Hare, my massive fella') was nothing special. It certainly didn't help matters that when I'm trying to get him to realize that I'm not some dumb kid raising rabbits as a hobby, my New Zealand doe, 'Rosie Cotton' comes hopping into the barn. 45 feet from the rabbitry. 

That was embarrassing.

I assured the man that this was the first escapee I've ever had, and his answer was simply, "Somehow I don't think it will be your last."


But he bought my youngters, and left. I should be content, not disgruntled. Maybe I'm a little bit of both.

And now that I have hopelessly rambled this way and that, I really should sign off and go do my evening chores. And then go start knitting again...

Toodle pip and cheerio, dear readers! I can't tell you how much I appreciate knowing that people actually stop by this little place to read my rambles. Makes this country girl smile. :)


I'm not hugely into politics of this sort, but I thought this was interesting to hear Ron Paul's opinion on raw milk.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cold Morning

I loved this morning... It was cold outside. 

Ice cold. 

Freezing cold. 

Burning cold. 

The kind that makes your hands turn bright red, and your ears tingle with pain. You wish you had some earmuffs, and a better pair of gloves.


You tromp from the house to the barn, four times. Thawing and filling frozen water buckets. You're cold. 

The water sloshes around in an old, cracked bucket and spills right onto your boot. Right onto the crack that's on the old boot. Your foot is cold. And wet.

Your nose starts to run, you can't bend your fingers, your ears hurt like the dickens, the goats are grumpy, and your feet are wet.

And I smiled at that moment. I like cold mornings, not because of the inconveniences of it, but because of the wonderful feeling that you get when you go inside...

Breakfast was ready and waiting for me. Hot tea, scrambled eggs, toast, and an orange. The fire was crackling merrily, and I felt warm and velvety.

Oh yeah. This is the life...

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Denotes A Lack of Courage

"My Dear Friend, when will you learn that being 'normal' is not always a virtue? It sometimes denotes a lack of courage."

Monday, December 12, 2011

For Sale, Sale Pending, Sold.

What a week this last one has been... I used to shake my head at the saying, "Money makes the world go 'round", but since these past few days I'm feeling more apt to nod my head in reluctant agreement. Little Shilling, my spotted Nubian doeling is finally at her new home. I've been waiting to re-home her for almost two months now!

Shilling. Summer of 2011.
 I have to admit that I'm glad she's gone. I was beginning to resent her presence, which is a new feeling in regards to my own goats. She was such a beautiful girl... Lovely topline, nice rear leg angulation and brisket extension, good ear length and she was spotted to boot! But her mouth wasn't figured right, and it drove me crazy. I was so close to having a nice replacement goat for some of the ones I lost this year, but that underbite washed my hopes and dreams down the drain. You see, it wasn't just that SHE had an underbite. Both of her parents did too. Which means that Shilling will more than likely throw kids who will have underbites. So it wasn't worth my keeping a doe whom I couldn't show, and whom I couldn't keep or sell kids from. It was more than just her mouth however, that made me not like her. Every time I looked at her, all I could see was her dead mother, father, and brother. All her family was dead, and that without remedy. Looking at her was looking at failure and regrets. The poor thing had no inkling of all this, and I tried to treat her nicely, just like any animal. But I didn't love her. And never could. 'Tis true, 'tis pity, and pity 'tis, 'tis true!

My only choices of dealing with her were to either slaughter her, send her to the auction where no one would no where she came from, or give her away for free to someone so that my herd name is not attached to her. I opted for the last. She is now an unregistered, nameless nobody of a goat. She bears not my title of 'Goat Song', and never will. But she is in a place where she is being loved beyond belief. Her new owners know why I couldn't keep her, why her mouth keeps her from being a fancy show goat, but they don't care. She's a pet now. Her spots and endearing face stripes are her glory, and she thrives on the attention. Silly ol' Shil... That's what I would call her: "Shil", and nothing more. I'd poke my head out from the barn and holler, "Hey Shil! Come here!" and she would come running as fast as her short legs could carry her. Silly Shilly... 'Tis True, 'tis pity, and pity 'tis, 'tis true!

 What with the departure of Shilling, an unexpected opportunity arose. A friend of mine told me of a nice buck for sale up in WA. for the steal of a price of only $100. It was a liquidation sale, I later found out, and oh goodness me... That buck... I wanted him so horribly bad.

 He went by the handle of Seattle, but that wasn't what caught my attention. It was his pedigree. He was of 'Copper-Hill' bloodlines, which I happen to really like, and his sire was my all time favorite buck, 'Copper-Hill Breakaway's Sonset.

Breakaway Sonset. Picture courtesy of Remuda-Nubians in WA.
Now, I realize that to you non-goaty people, he may look like a rather ugly fella'. But to us hardcore Nubian breeders, this is beauty in flesh. I drool just looking at this guy. He may not look like anything special, but his daughters are breathtaking. Absolutely breathtaking.

 So there I was: salivating on my laptop's keyboard over a male goat named Seattle. Oh dearie me... Having that guy would have jumped my breeding plans ahead by two or three years. Just thinking of the kids from a cross with him and Ivy was enough to make me run and get a towel in case of yet another need to wipe the keyboard dry. I jumped into action and after a flurry of e-mails I had transportation worked out, Seattle was going to have a blood test done for CAE today (I always take precautions and test new goats), and if all went according to the plan, he very well could have been in my barn by Saturday.

 And then fate reared its ugly head. Someone flashed some cash and bought him right beneath my nose, on Sunday afternoon.

 Seattle is gone now. So are my hopes. I feel a little deflated. One moment I was beaming from ear to ear at the thought of finally having my own herdsire (I've been hunting for three years now!), and the next moment I stared at the computer screen that had words that said, "Sorry, he sold today." 

Ouch. Money makes the world go 'round. Whoever holds up a dollar bill first wins the game. Or in this case, the stud. Phooey.

My barn seems so quiet today. Only five goats are in there. Only five. But I suppose five is better than four, so I'll quit grouching now, and be content. :)

Goats... Where would we be without those creatures? ;)

Torture... Pure Torture...

It came today... Baker Creek's 2012 seed catalog!

And not only did ONE catalog come in the mail, but by some sort of blip I received TWO catalogs! ;)

Alas, I have firmly told myself that I will under no circumstances open either of those catalogs until I am on the airplane on January 17th. Bound for Virginia. 

And it's torture... Pure torture... This year's beautiful catalog is 196 pages of gardening bliss. And let's not forget the 120 "new" varieties that they've added to their stock... My goodness, that catalog has enough heft to feel like a book! 

I so badly want to look through it... Just a peek. 

But no, I must stick to my goal and keep it for the 10 hour flight that looms in just 36 days. I can't even think about the plane trip without feeling a knot in my stomach.. I like traveling as much as people enjoy getting the flu. It ain't fun in my book. 

Does anyone else here look forward to receiving their yearly seed catalogs?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

No Words Today

No words will come today... My mind seems as though caught in the same fog that I've seen out the window these past couple of days. Deep fog... Draping itself over everything in sight. Settling silently, asking no one's permission, enshrouding all that it touches... Fog.

 A few things are in the works over here, but I'm not quite ready to reveal what they are. Maybe on Monday...

Until then, I shall try and see if I can't get this dreadful brain fog to lift...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

K2, P2, SSK, PSSO, K to last 2, K2Tog

During WWII, it wasn't uncommon to see ordinary women pulled aside and questioned thoroughly by the secret police who had glimpsed something akin to my title, sitting on these ladies' laps while they were out and about in town. K2, P2, SSK, PSSO, K to last 2, K2Tog??? Surely it's a code written out by some genius, holding in it's puzzle the answer to total global denomination, and these women have to get those directions to the enemy who is paying a fortune for it.

Turns out it wasn't quite what those police officers had first thought. After much enlightenment, the women were allowed to go free, and keep their coded papers. For you see, what they had was not a mind boggling jigsaw puzzle. No, it was only their knitting directions.

 I had always said I would never knit. My earliest memories accompanied by that mere word were flashbacks to scratchy hats made with burnt orange Acrylic yarn, or worse, something made with the rainbow dyed acrylic that always seems to be on sale in JoAnne's Fabrics. You know, the skeins that look like someone put a poisonous snake into a blender and then copied the resulting colorway? Yep, that one.

But that wasn't the only reason I firmly said I would never stoop to that old craft. Open up any knitting book and prepare to be overwhelmed by pages upon pages that all say unintelligible sentences.K2, P2, SSK, PSSO, K to last 2, K2Tog? What on earth does that mean!?!? Not to mention you have to use those pointy sticks, er, needles that look like something from a toy knight's medieval jousting match... And you have to use TWO of those pointy needles! Sure, I may have two hands, but I only have ONE brain! Let's not forget all the mathematical knots you have to make with those tot-sized lances, either. Good heavens, you start taking pride in the fact that you finally learned the knit stitch, when you realize in dismay that now you have the learn how to do the purl stitch! Maybe people take up knitting as a way to act as a martyr... Hmm.

I did try knitting once, when I was about fourteen. And quickly threw the needles down in despair. My brain wasn't up to par when it came to battling the inanimate objects of wood and string. Nope, not I.

I continued on in my teen years, carefully avoiding all things related to knitting.

But then I learned to spin my own yarn...

And I wanted to make a baby hat...

And not only does making a baby hat involve picking up knitting needles, it involves using five needles at one time. To this day, I am still shocked that I did not faint during that adventure.

Somehow, some way, through much help of experience knitters, and pure stubbornness on my part, I found a hat starting to come off of my needles. And then I realized something as time went on: This knitting stuff was actually kind of fun! I swallowed some crow, and bought some better needles. I was done for. I'm just as bad as any knitter in these parts. Oohing and Aahing over yarns and square knitting needles. We jockey each other to feel the new cashmere yarn that has just come to the store in town, and we collectively sigh over the fingering weight baby alpaca. I rather like this textile world. Nowadays, making socks isn't beyond me, and someday I'm going to finish a whole shawl... I've got a couple in the makings but they can't seem to get past lift-off.

 K2, P2, SSK, PSSO, K to last 2, K2Tog? Bring it on. I know your game now, Ms. Knitting Code, and I accept your challenge. Let me grab my rapier of a knitting needle and we'll have a showdown...

A Good Feeling

One thing I love in life is that nice feeling I get when putting food up. Whether it's homemade bread into the freezer, canned foods that we have worked on over the summer, now going into the pantry, or homegrown meats going into the deep freeze. Ever felt that way before? It's sort of a "Come what may; I am prepared" feeling. I always smile when putting that food away for future meals. It's a good thing. 

Today's work consisted of, ahem, *harvesting* the meat rabbits. I find that the word "butchering" bothers some folks, so I stick with the slightly more discreet term of 'harvesting' for sake of courtesy. 

Now, I really don't like harvesting animals. Believe me, I don't. I am an animal lover right down to my toes, but I'm also a carnivore. And I'm a carnivore who feels convicted to take part in the responsibility of knowing where my meat came from, how it was raised, and then how it was processed. I just feel that if I'm going to take part in eating meat; in eating another living, breathing creature, I want to take full responsibility for it from start to finish. If you have never raised your own animal for meat, and then butchered it yourself, let me tell you something: It will change you. Eating meat from the grocery store is a mindless act; you simply consume it, not knowing any of the animals history. Eating an animal that you raised yourself gives you a sense of pride and self-sufficiency. But raising and then processing your own animal will give the ultimate feeling. It's a mix of pride and humbleness. You know the entire story. You see before you on the plate what was once a black rabbit with a white blaze, who's name was Felix. You'll say to yourselves: "My goodness that rabbit could jump high... Remember that day he escaped and we let him stay loose for two whole weeks? He dug tunnels through the entire rabbitry floor, and made such a mess of things... But he never strayed far." Good ol' Felix. 

There's pride in knowing that he was a happy creature, and lived a good life. But oh the humble feeling when you see him on a plate. No longer looking like a rabbit... There's a feeling of respect too. You took his life, now it's only fair to honor what was taken by eating him. It's a dance of death and life that has gone in circles for hundreds and hundreds of years. This is just the way things are. Perhaps you are a vegetarian, or a vegan, or something else. That's fine with me. I certainly have no qualms with folks who have such a strong measure of self control. I'm hopeless... I love meat. But my hat is off to you who have chosen a different path in life than mine. 

I didn't finish harvesting all the fryers (term for a young meat rabbit) today. Poppet, that annoying brat sweet darling of a Nigerian Dwarf was continuously getting in my way, escaping from the pasture, and otherwise making a muck of things. So the majority of my day was spent not dealing with rabbits, but running down a roly poly excuse for a goat and trying to keep her in one place. I was tuckered before I had hardly started! But I got enough fryers done today that I can easily finish tomorrow or Saturday. So it works out.

I came inside the house to cut the fryers up into pieces, wrap them into nice, neat packages, and then put them in the fridge to cure for 24 hours. They are sitting there quietly now... Little square packages that hardly resemble a rabbit. I looked at those packages and felt that nice feeling wash over me. 

Come what may. I am prepared.

It's a good feeling.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Gettin' There

I'm almost caught up with my small orders! Only eight more to go!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Shhh! I'm supposed to be knitting right now! Not making fun collages! ;)

Sunday, December 4, 2011

It Can't Be Explained

 The temperature outside read 32 degrees, as I walked out to the barn tonight... To those of us who live in the Willamette, that's cold. Thankfully I had both a polar fleece sweater, and my trusty Carharrtt coat on to keep the chill away. Barn chores were uneventful as I went about my way. The goats got their hay, the rabbits got their pellets; all was fine and dandy. But before closing the barn up for the night, I took a slow jaunt through the goat pasture...

 The moon shone brilliantly tonight. December's moon is known as a 'Cold Moon', and is aptly named... It beamed through the night, making everything look like a 1800's photograph. Black and white. My shadow made a stark contrast against the seemingly white grass, as I meandered over land that I have come to know almost better than I know myself. It was not yet even 9 'o' clock at night, and already a hard frost was descending upon the silent earth. I could feel resistance from the half frozen grass, and all around me looked like some fairy had come along and sprinkled glitter. All of this was a beautiful sight to behold that I shall treasure for a long time.

I sat down on the bench in the pasture... Sat down and exhaled. Behind me was the moon, and a giggling creek. How many stories and songs that creek has regaled through the seasons... It's a comforting white noise that I have come to appreciate. Around me were ancient trees whose skeletal forms stood bent and contorted with age. A few still rebelliously held onto their leaves; not yet ready to face what the Cold Moon was foretelling. And before me... Oh before me... Before my eyes was the barn. The lights were still on, giving the black and white picture a shade of color. I love my barn. It may be metal, instead of the preferred wood, and there may admittedly be a few leaks in there, but that barn is my safe haven...

 I sat on that wooden bench for a few minutes longer; hugging my old coat to my body. I could see Orion in the sky, with his bejeweled belt glimmering brightly. The Big Dipper had begun it's helter skelter tipping, and it will soon seem almost upside down. A few other stars managed to peek out, despite the moon's display of grandeur; a sprinkling of glitter in the sky, and on the ground.

I walked back up towards the barn, but first stopped at Capri's grave. She had gotten her share of glitter upon her colder, smaller sleeping space, and for that I was grateful on this chilly night. I reminisced aloud, as I knelt on the hard ground; my hand where her head was lain beneath the layers of soil. I said to her, what I said as she lay dying. She was my special girl. My best milker, and friend. We were going for a goal of three gallons next spring... Just like her dam, I wanted to see if she would reach that amount and possibly surpass it. We got to 19 lbs. of milk this past spring... We were only 5 lbs. short of reaching our goal. My cow in a goat's body. But we were thwarted, weren't we Capri? Fate reared its ugly head, and we never attained the goal. I spoke to her a little longer, then stood up and said before leaving, "Don't cry. I'll see you again someday." And with that, I walked away... I am of the firm belief that there will be animals in heaven/new earth. Why would God call them "good", and put them here on this imperfect world, but not have them again when the end times of this chapter comes? That's my logic, and I'll stick to it. There will be animals again. And I will see Capri again. Period. Exclamation point.

 Some may wonder at my attachment towards a dead goat. People could understand, if she had been a dog, but in my mind, having a dairy animal results in a deeper relationship than with a dog. It can't be explained. You would just have to own one to understand what goes on between animal and handler. I feed them, and they feed me. There is routine to a milker's day. A methodical habit that is not easily broken. There is a level of trust, affection, and loyalty on each side. I know their thoughts and they know mine. It is a beautiful thing to behold. A dance between two species. Capri was was the best dance partner I've had yet.

I turned the barn lights off, and closed the door. Enya's song "Wild Child" Floated through my head as I walked back to the warm house. I think Capri would have liked that one during milking....


Soooo, I have a little confession to make. Remember that spandy little job I landed last month? (click highlighted words to read the post about that) 

Well, I quit it. And I quit the day before Thanksgiving. And I'm only just now telling you guys! :-/ Apologies there... I just haven't wanted to talk about it at all. 

I still don't really want to talk about it, but in a nutshell I left because of the level of gutter talk and harassment (just voiced opinions. Nothing physical) from the other employees. 

Now, I realize that swearing and inappropriate language is something that one can't really get away from in this life, but when you spend six hours each day listening to it, and you can't get away from it, it's a whole 'nother story. 

The other employees don't know why I left. They all assumed I couldn't handle the work load, and smirked that they were correct in guessing I would only last two weeks. They were right in saying I would only last two weeks, but it sure wasn't due to the work. It was hard work, yes. But it was doable. 

But, if nothing else, I at least learned a lot of tricks to working faster, and it was a good experience seeing how professional processors do their work. And after doing a little over 500 turkeys, I would like to state here that I love Broad Breasted White turkeys. If I ever start raising large amounts of turkeys in the future, I will use those birds. I might do a few Bourbon Reds, but that's a big "might". We had all sorts of turkey breeds come in to be processed during that time, and we all groaned when someone pulled up with dark feathered birds, or ones that were under the age of 4 months. They're a nightmare to pluck, let me tell ya'.... However, turkeys (even the young and dark colored) are a cinch in comparison to ducks and geese. Ai, yi, yi.  I despise doing waterfowl... Someday I want to try their meat to see if it's really worth all the work that goes into plucking them. Chickens. Chickens are good. I like doing chickens. ;)

So that's the end of that adventure. 

Friday, December 2, 2011

Write It Down

I'm supposed to be knitting right now... But that's pretty much all I've done today, so my hands are going to take a little break here. :)

 One thing that I find to hold true in life is that if I write a goal down, it is much, much easier to make it come to pass. If I can see the words with my own eyes, rather than just knowing that it's in my head and in my heart, it causes me to realize that it's not just a dream. It's a reality that I will make happen. Someone one said to me that they perceived me as a dreamer: That I have big ideas, but I never actually accomplish anything. That remark stung for a little while, but then I cast it aside. That person doesn't know me very well. I AM a dreamer. But I'm also a do'er. And a person who knows when to bide her time. I have a list of things that I want to accomplish, and some things on there have reached that stage of accomplishment. Some are still in the midst of being finished, and some still need a couple years of waiting. But I know from experience that since I've written those things down, I have a much higher chance of having them come to pass.

 So right now, I'm going to write (er, type) something down that I want to happen, and I see it happening, but I need to see these words to keep me going:

I'm writing my first book.

I would really like this book to be titled, "To Sing With Goats", but titles are something I save for the end, so it may end up something completely different...

 Part memoir, and part 'how-to guide' about dairy goats and raising them, I'm trying to create a book that's written on a more personal level than most goat books are, these days. I want it to have a feel of having a conversation with an old friend, but at the same time be informative and accurate.

 I've been working on the manuscript a little bit each day, and it's gone from a far-of-and-away dream, to something that is taking on a material shape. In my mind I am starting to see the pages... I see the pictures and where I want them. I can feel the book. Smell the ink... It's growing into something more than a thought and a hope.

 But it's also very challenging... I am certainly not the best writer in these parts. Shucks, when I sit down at this computer, all the words I wanted to say just fly out of my head! I love writing though. I like seeing how my thoughts can go from something in my head, to something visible. Words intrigue me. I like seeing them come together to form sentences and paragraphs, as well as comparing writing styles from various authors. But then I wonder if writing is something I can truly do, and be good at. My hands and my head have for so long honed in on physical work. I can butcher livestock, milk dairy animals, help assist animal births, garden, buck hay... Can this workaholic of a country girl really tame herself enough to conform to the rigors of writing? I see people who say that they make it a goal to write at least 1,500 words each day. I'm not going to tell you how many I've been doing. It's nowhere near that number. My excuse for the moment though, is that it's because I'm so busy making the knitted goats. But sometimes, when I sit down to work on that manuscript, I feel a case of writer's block come on. I will have an entire chapter figured out in my head, and then I sit down and --- forget it all!! Argh!

One goal is to give the book a more "fun, and personal" flavor to it. Almost like a blend between this blog, and my goat workshops. A small example would be my Table of Contents. I'm only going to share a few with y'all, and these are still very tentative, so they may change, but at the moment I have chapter names that look like this:

  •  To Outwit A Goat -- Goat Behavior and understanding it
  •  The Ol' Nosebag and Fodder Box -- Feeds and Feeding
  •  Loose Shoulders and Toeing Out. Huh? -- Dairy Goat Conformation
  •  Smelly Bucks and Swooning Does -- Breeding
  •  Band-Aids, Baking Soda, and B-Complex -- Health
  • The Ultimate Goal: Milk. (Now, how do you get it out of the goat?!?) -- Milking and handling raw milk
Again, those titles are pretty tentative, but it gives you a small idea of what I'm talking about.

The going is very slow, but maybe someday it will really turn into a book. For now, I'll have to depend on you guys, and my written list to keep me at the grindstone...