Friday, March 30, 2012

Her Name Is Peaches

Come friends, and gather 'round... For I have a tale to tell ye' this night...

Five years ago, I had a Boer/Nubian cross goat named Anne. I hated her... Bad tempered, forever getting into trouble, CAE positive, and giving very little milk, I had reason enough to dislike her. I sold Anne, and told myself I would never own another goat ever again. I didn't want to go through that experience another time over. But after a bit of time to heal my wounded feelings and pride, I tried again. This time, everything worked out, and I am now about as crazy about goats as you can possibly get! 

 In October of 2010, I brought home a 12 day old Jersey heifer calf named Poppy. I bottle fed her for five solid months, but for all my efforts, Poppy and I weren't a good fit. She was terrorizing my goats, mistakenly believing that she was one of them. She stomped the goat kids, slammed the older does against the metal barn walls, and jumped on unsuspecting Heidi. I sold Poppy with a vengeance. I told everyone that I would never have a cow again. Those giant, evil creatures were surely out to kill all goats in existence and cripple their owners when they had the chance. Oh yes... I could see them plotting behind those deep brown eyes... 

  But slowly, after many, many months, I began to realize that my feelings towards bovines had changed. Seeing other people enjoying their cows, and working with so many at Polyface Farm had an effect on me. At the beginning of March, it dawned on me: It was time to get a cow and try again.

I began perusing Craigslist every morning to see what was for sale. There were a lot of Jerseys, but after Poppy, I wasn't sure that I wanted to have a Jersey again... Not yet. I researched, read and looked. One breed in particular kept on catching my attention: The Guernsey. A Close cousin to the Jersey, Guernseys give milk that is very similar in butterfat, but the cows themselves are bigger and are a lovely white color with light brown patches. However, Mom really wanted a Jersey, even  if I didn't, so I kept my eyes peeled for both breeds. Even through the animal selling panic I went through during the last couple of weeks, and was basically broke, I still kept hunting for a cow. Some things you just know, and this farm girl knew that it was time to get a cow. It was now or never.

Then it happened: On Thursday the 29th, I found an ad that simply said: "Heifer. 1/2 Guernsey, 1/2 Jersey." Call ***-***-****". That got my attention! A Guernsey/Jersey cross would be perfect! I called the owner up and found that not only was he asking a very good price, but he was close by. I arranged a visit the next day...

Today was the day... I went to see this heifer that had so abruptly consumed my thoughts. I had just bought enough hay and grain to keep the animals quite comfy for the next few months, so my wallet was painfully thin. But I was prepared to haggle for this lady if I liked her. Over the phone, the man had said that she was about 4 months old, and was a little on the thin side since he couldn't afford to feed them adequately right now. I would have preferred an older heifer, but I figured I could at least look at her. 

As we pulled up into the drive way of the small homestead, we automatically knew which one was her. Sharing a field with five similarly aged bull calves, she looked like a lily planted among a hedge of rogue blackberries. She was tiny, feminine, and beautiful... 

   I stepped out of the van and my ears were immediately assaulted with the cacophony of dogs barking. It sounded like we had just pulled up to a pound, there were so many different canines baying from inside a low, dim shed. There was a sign on the gate that boldly stated, "Beware of the dog." I was tempted to scribble the letter "S" at the end. If that was just one dog making that racket, then I'm a monkey's uncle! The owner of the property came walking out after hearing his dogs. Wiry in build with a silvered beard, his ever-so-slightly stooped stance didn't shorten his height any. His voice had an Eastern twang to it; too light to be a Southern drawl, and not enough of an accent to be Oregonian, I guess him to perhaps be from Kentucky or perhaps the Carolinas. 

   He led us into the pasture where I was able to get a closer look at this little lady, and he told us what he knew of her: she came from a productive dairy, where the manager raises registered Guernseys. By some happenstance, whether it was purposeful or not, one cow was bred with a Jersey bull. Not wanting a crossbred in his dairy he gave the little heifer calf away; where she ended up here. As I stepped nearer, I realized just how thin she really was... Her stomach was potbellied and her rump and tail were covered with dried, caked manure. Not only was she not receiving the nourishment she needed, but she had a worm infestation. She needed some groceries, and some valbazen! But looking past her filth and gaunt frame, I saw a lovely little cow. She was very dairy in conformation, and had the most perfect little udder. Her eyes were bright, and she had a lively step; she was as tough as iron to survive the worm load and to share her scant food with five bulls who were larger than she was. While rough, her coat was a beautiful pale caramel hue... Her dark brown eyes and long lashes made her look like a little flirt.

 I began walking towards her, hoping to catch her and further look her over. The dog's voices became louder as I neared their shed, and I wondered just how many must be in there... I looked down momentarily as I stepped through the pasture, and quickly planted my feet where they were. I've seen many things as I've gone to other places in the area, but this was new.

Not five feet away from me, were two horse legs. 

Black in color, with sand shaded hooves, they lay there... Wet from the rain. I scanned the area and near the shed saw the decapitated equine head. Both head and legs showed signs of being chewed, and I realized that this was dog food. The marrow in the legs was still fresh, and small bits of blood still remained on the exposed bone. This horse was alive not too long ago. I wondered where the rest of the body was...

   The younger siblings who had tagged along to see the heifer were noticeably shaken by the sight, and I admit that even I was taken by surprise, but I kept it hidden and focused on the heifer. 

I liked this heifer. I really liked her. If nothing else, she deserved to be taken from this place that she was in. She was a wreck to look at, but I saw potential. We haggled with the owner, but to my dismay I found that his lowest price was above what I could afford right then. But I hated to think of that little calf staying there... She needed someone to get her out of there, and by Jove, I would give it my best to do right by her! Normally I'm terrible at naming animals, but this little lady seemed to have named herself: Peaches. She simply looked like her name should be Peaches.

 So folks, I'm at it again. Will Peaches the cow find herself at Goat Song Farm? Stay tuned and find out!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

It's That Time Again

Time to get ready for chickens.

Or, more appropriately, broilers.

What started out as a simple, "Oh let's scale back and just raise 50 birds this year." Turned into, "We're thinking 100-200 chickens and some turkeys!"

Oh good gracious, we're nuts.

But we're doing it! Come to think of it, I'm not sure where this "we" is coming from... Seeing as I'm the one who takes care of the birds, keeps contact with customers (er, patrons), gets the details of butchering figured out, and makes sure that the whole thing doesn't suddenly collapse mid-way through the adventure.

But to keep in the spirit of "we", I shall now claim that I'm referring to "Me, Myself, and I". We make a pretty good trio. ;)

I'm looking forward to getting the little fluff balls, and seeing how many new customers we will get! I always love meeting new people who are of like mind! And as mentioned, yes, we are shooting for 100-200 chickens, and some turkeys. I don't know how many turkeys yet, but so far we have 5 reservations put down. I'll be implementing a lot of Joel Salatin's methods this year, but will also be implementing some of my own...

Buying feed is usually the biggest headache, but I am so grateful that we seem to have settled nicely with a feed mill that's a couple hours south from us. Their prices are a lifesaver, and are allowing us to competitively price our organic chickens at $2.80 per lb. And the feed itself is organic, locally grown, no soy, no corn, and no GMO's. Our birds grew great on this feed last year, so we will use it again this year!

And frankly, I'm excited to try the turkeys out. A lot of folks tell me just how horrible their turkeys were, but then other folks say how they just loved their turkey's sweet temperaments. So I guess we'll find out which side of the fence I'm on. Hehe. I've never raised turkeys before, but have always wanted to, so I made an executive decision that we (see, there's that "we" again) are going to offer Thanksgiving birds this year! I briefly thought about raising a heritage breed, but to be honest, I'm very wary of them. Don't get me wrong, I'm all for conserving rare breeds! But you have to remember that I used to work at a slaughter house, and we had SO many dark feathered, and heritage turkeys come through that I soon disdained the very sight of them. Those birds are so hard to pluck that it's not even funny. I spent hours with a small, metal picker, trying to get every last little black feather off of those birds, and then for all that trouble, the heritage breeds only weighed out to 6-10 lbs. If I have to work that hard, can it please be something like a 40 pounder? Sheesh. So I'm being naughty, and raising the Broad Breasted Whites. Big, white, gorgeously easy to dress, tasty birds. Maybe someday I'll raise some heritage breeds, but not this year... Not this year. 

Is anyone else raising chickens and/or turkeys for meat this year?

Oh, and if you're in our neck of the woods (Willamette Valley, OR) and you're interested in some down-right good food, you can see our Craigslist ad for our chickens and turkeys by clicking HERE.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Predictable Pattern

I am a predictable person. I'm sure I am many things, but predictability is probably higher on my list than other possibilities... 

I am a creature of habit, and one that sticks to what works, even if it sometimes hurts.

My predictability became apparent this week as I sold Pepper, my beloved little lady... :(

I was running out of money and hay. Both at the same time, which doesn't work out so well. There was $27 in my bank account, and another $10 made up entirely of quarters in my jar here at the house. I had $37, and I needed $150.

I stayed just below the level of panic. This is basically my life, since I have no job. There are times of feasting, and times of famine throughout the year. It is predictable. I've gone through this countless of times, and always manage to somehow stay on top. 

 But it didn't happen this time. As I watched the bales of hay slowly begin to dwindle, my anxiety grew. I posted my antique spinning wheel for sale, my Californian rabbit, knitted animals, soap, spinning/knitting lessons, a rabbit cage... I tried selling whatever I could! Nothing sold. Not when I needed it, at least.

I was faced with two choices: I had to either cancel my reservation for Rose Of Summer, or I had to sell one of my own goats. I didn't like either of my choices. I hemmed and hawed, and stalled. Surely something would come up! Something always did; maybe some fairy godmother would stuff a check for $200 in the mailbox for me? I waited for that too, but it didn't happen. 

It came down to the line... It was either Summer, or one of my goats. With a heavy heart, I studied my options and chose dear, sweet Pepper as my sacrificial lamb...

It just about broke my heart as I put her up on Craigslist... Those of you who have been reading here for some time may remember Pepper's story, and how she came here (if you're new, click the highlighted words to read it). Oh I had so badly wanted her from the moment I saw her as an 8 week old kid. Such potential she had! 

But if I had to sell Pepper, I wasn't going to let her go easily. I lowered her sale price and said that I wanted to breed her to my choice buck this fall, and get a free daughter from her next spring. Those were my terms.

She sold before the day was over. And I have to say, that if she has to go, she really couldn't have gone to a better place. The lady who bought her is very serious about her breeding plans and her bloodlines closely mirror my own with Kastdemurs, Lakeshore, Elk Brook, and Royal Cedars. She was perfectly fine with my conditions, and we struck a deal that Pepper would be bred to her own buck (love his pedigree!).

Pepper will be officially leaving on Sunday the 1st. I'm making sure to enjoy these days that she's still here.

I am a predictable person. This is a predictable pattern. Some may frown upon such a  cyclical happening, but there's not much I can do about it. I suppose if someone has a problem with it, they can certainly put a check for $200 in my mailbox next time I need a ton of hay! Since my fairy godmother didn't do it,  I suspect I had better find a replacement.... ;) 

I am going to miss Pepper, but I'm glad that she's going where she's going.

And I have hay coming to my barn soon.

Life is a funny thing...

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sigh Of Relief

Truth be told, I cannot for the life of me figure Photoshop out. Too many buttons and not enough directions. This girl needs something along the lines of "Photoshop for Dummies".

I never did find said Photoshop for Dummies, but back in the fall, I found what was called, "Picnik". I loved using Picnik to edit my photos... But then they announced that they were closing on April 19th, which, um, appears to be looming in the near future! Oh it looked bad... I was going to have to learn how to use Photoshop after all, which really meant that I would no longer be able to edit my pictures and y'all would have to put up with dim, blurry ones! Okay, on the count of three I want to hear a gasp from the crowd, okay? That would make me feel good, and would confirm my afore mentioned suspicions.  One, two, three!

There, I heard ya'. ;) Thankee' much.

But all was not lost! I found a new domain in which I can contort my images. [insert evil laugh here] The new place is called Pixlr Express (stumbled happily upon over at the Barn Talk blog). So we can all exhale now... The crisis has been averted. You will not have to endure poor quality/boring pictures all the time (just most of the time. LOL).

And now that I've babbled endlessly on, and really said nothing of significance, I'm going to go do the evening dishes. You're welcome to join me if you can hop over here fast enough.

P.S. I do actually have a ton of farmy news to share with y'all. Of hay, calves, chickens, and goats. Oh my!

Stay tuned...

Monday, March 26, 2012

Two Flowers

One is a dandelion, and one is a Rose.

Milk Bubbles

I've taken to calling my new little lady, "Summer", since I already have Ivy Rose the goat, and Rosie Cotton the rabbit. 

So here's my sweet Summer, after her lunch bottle... 

I just love this little lady!

And all photo credit goes to my sister, over at Emily Nicolle Photography.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

To Scale

The monstrous Bob next to the normal sized Pepper. They're both the same age.

Shocking, huh?

Bob's a big guy...

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Phantom Cow

It all started back in January...

After coming home from Polyface Farm, I started walking the neighbor's fields again. Dreaming. Dreaming of where to put the cows, how many I could graze on a small bit, what I would need... I walked perimeters, and took note of small details. 

Then I stepped in a fresh cow pie.

Huh??? A cow pie?? There hadn't been a cow on the neighbor's land in sixty years, why on earth was there bovine manure, and fresh manure at that, on fallow ground? I looked closer, and to my surprise there were fresh cow hoof prints pugging the damp ground. This didn't make sense. There were no fences up, the owners of the land hadn't been around for months, and I knew very well that the only creatures living on this land were deer and predators. Not cows.

I told family members of my findings, but at first only one or two believed me. Most of them snorted and said it was probably just deer or elk. Why is it that no one listens to me...? Shucks, I've been around enough cows and elk to know the difference between the two when it comes to tracks and scat! You don't get cow pies from elk! Disgruntled that I was being scoffed at, but too stubborn to drop the subject, I started going up more frequently and searching for more clues. Why on earth was there a cow up here?

More tracks and more pies were found, but I couldn't for the life of me actually find any traces of a real cow. No positive proof that I wasn't tracking a senile elk that was hanging around civilization. 

Today was the turning point. Two young siblings came busting in the house, their voices raised in excitement saying, "There's a cow in the 98 acres! There's a cow in the 98 acres!"

I swelled with pride in the fleeting moment of glory. Of course there's a cow in the 98 acres! I've been tracking it for months now!! I had a very strong desire to loudly say "I told you so" to all in hearing distance. I know the difference between an elk track and a cow track, thankee' very much!!

My Carhartt coat was donned, and off I went. Determined to track this cow down myself and figure this puzzle out. Feeling like Aragorn tracking down Hobbits, I followed a zig zag trail through brambles and teasel plants. Although, I really can't take much glory for my tracking ability... Tracking that cow is about as hard as tracking down a whale in a fish bowl. This cow ain't no dainty lady. I followed a long trail before finally admitting defeat. She had gone into the woods, where her hoof prints became lost in the spongy forest floor. Grr. But I wasn't too disappointed. I may have not gotten the cow (yet!), but I had a story.

She looks to be a younger cow. Somewhere between 2 and 4 years old, judging by the size of the hoof, and the depth of the tracks. She has a specific pattern in which she travels, first through the forest, then to the marsh, then over to the front pasture, and back to the bramble thicket by noon... I think she has a calf with her, guessing from the small tracks near hers, but that's still a theory. She's a short bodied gal; either that or she just has short legs. But she can move fast, and she's incredibly agile.

 The part that is really boggling my mind though, is that she came to my barn last night. Her tracks are littered around the front door and over near Bob's pen. How on earth did that cow get over to my barn??? Explanation: There is a large, red livestock gate, and many strands of barbed wire blocking the entrance to the 98 acres. However, there are cow tracks starting at the gate (as if the cow jumped, but the tracks didn't show enough impact for a jump) and then clearly walking across the road and over to my barn.

My best guess is that the cow levitated.

Either that, or the cow is a phantom and it not only just walks right through the gate, but its hanging around just to discombobulate me!! Sounds like a good story plot to me: The Phantom Cow" Oh yeah, I can just see it now as a bestseller. ;) 

But I'm not giving up. I'm too stubborn for that. There IS a cow over there, and it's not supposed to be! I'll get to the bottom of this! 

I do like the thought of levitating cows though... Makes me smile. :)

She's Here!

And I am head-over-heels in love with her!

I'll have to get some pictures of her when she's stacked, in the next couple of days... Her topline makes me swoon! ;)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Kits

The kits are officially in the "cute" stage. I found all four babies in Rosie Cotton's litter scampering around the cage this morning. Alas, I didn't have the camera on hand for that...

(and by the way, Doe #1 is the annoying blur that keeps getting in the camera lens. She didn't believe me that cameras weren't edible.)

And this second video is of the Tupperware rabbit that I brought inside to warm it up. I had completely forgotten that I had gotten this footage until just now. But you can see just how sluggish the poor thing was, compared to his livelier siblings in the above video. Poor fella'.

Got It

I finally got it: Today's green smoothie was actually green!

And it still tastes pretty good. :)

Finished watching 'Hungry for Change' earlier today, and I must say it was an excellent film. When it ended, I grabbed KC the dog and went for a run. Then came home and made ma'self a green smoothie. Dog is zonked on the bed.

I feel good. :)

Guess What Happens Tomorrow

Tomorrow is the big day.

Tomorrow I will be heading out to pick up my new doeling, 'Last Rose Of Summer'!!

Yippee!!! I am SO dreadfully excited to have a bottle baby around the place again! Little velvety ears and noses, perfect faun feet, smirking, lop-sided grins, satin fur.... Oh I love goat kids! 

Pictures will be shared, don't worry! 

Oh, and as a P.S. Rose's breeder has informed me that Dandelion, Rose's dam, is milking 2 gallons a day now, on her 2nd freshening, and only 3 weeks fresh! Score!! This little lady is going to change Goat Song Farm... I can feel it in my bones.

Hungry For Change

Heads up guys! The documentary 'Hungry for Change' is now view-able for free until March 31st! I'm just about to go watch it, and from the looks of the trailer, it should be a good way to spend my freezing, snowy, spring day! (what is up with that anyway? Snow in March, in Oregon???)

To watch the film, go to the Hungry For Change website. (click highlighted words to go directly there)

P.S. I don't receive any benefits by spreading this word. Nothing, zilch, nadda. I'm doing this on my own accord, because I think this is an important film that folks should watch.

Go for it.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

It Has Occurred To Me

That I have not kulned in a very long time...

When the goats dried up last summer and I stopped milking them, I stopped my goat songs.

Barn chores have been done in silence lately. I see it in Ivy's face every day that she misses her milking song, but I have not sung it. For many months, I stayed silent because my tongue wanted to sing Capri's song. But Capri is no longer here. I could not sing.

 I have not kulned, because there is no milking. Where there is no milking, there can be no kulning. No calling the girls to evening rituals. No singing. No sharing a third language that both human and beast understand.

I did not realize any of this until today, when I heard this lovely Youtube of three ladies kulning. They do the art well. Better than anything I've ever done.

And it occurred to me, that I have not kulned in a very long time...

I will sing Ivy's song tonight while in the barn.

He Didn't Make It

The little Tupperware rabbit didn't make it through the night. :( The poor little fella' missed out on dinner again, and was too weak to survive. Phooey.


This is what I'm talkin' about folks:

A 39 acre farm in Portland Oregon that is allowing beginning farmers to lease (they're working towards it being free) a small piece of their land for 1-3 years, so folks can springboard their agriculture businesses. That's awesome.

P.S. and if last night's post about the music took you by surprise, just know that I was having a bad moment and was feeling pretty low. Such words are what comes of spurts of depression and frustration. It happens.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Loud Music

I listen to fast paced music.
Loud music.
Angry music.
It must drown out my thoughts and take my anger and frustration away with its fleeting notes.

Loud music. 
Fast music.
Music to stomp and paw the earth by.
Music to live and die by.
Music to conquer and fight by.
I set my teeth in determination. Gone is anger. Replaced, it is, with resolve.

I go outside.
Go outside and feel the pouring rain on my face.
Feel the sodden earth and slick mud beneath my boots.
Find a dying rabbit in the rabbitry.
The sky is black.
The air is pungent. Smelling of wet earth.
There is life and death swirling around me.

I go inside, and listen to loud music.
And feel better for it.

I will make this farm work.

So help me God.

Pink Slime Burgers

I've been following the gross, yet unsurprising story of what folks are calling "pink slime". Your burger just might not really be burger. Below is a list that tells which stores carry pink slime beef, and which ones don't. Enlightening to say the least.

video platform video management video solutions video player

You’ve heard about the “pink slime,” right? It’s that meat filler made from slaughterhouse scraps that is treated with ammonia. (Yum!) Last week the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced plans to buy 7 million pounds of it. A federal microbiologist nicknamed the filler “pink slime.”
The Daily, the iPad newspaper from News Corp., has figured out which stores sell ground meat that contains pink slime.
According to The Daily, these are among the stores that say they do not sell meat with pink slime:
  • A&P
  • Whole Foods
  • Costco
  • Publix
  • H-E-B
  • Waldbaum’s
  • Price Chopper
These are among the stores that do not sell pink slime in store-ground meat, but sell pre-packaged ground beef from suppliers that may contain pink slime:
  • Jewel-Osco
  • Kroger
  • Food Lion
  • Winco
  • Fred Meyer
These are among the stores that sell store-ground meat with pink slime, according to The Daily:
  • Target
  • BJ’s
  • Hy-Vee
  • Safeway
  • Walmart
  • Albertsons
  • Stop & Shop
  • Zaycon Foods
School districts nationwide will be able to opt out of serving “pink slime,” after the USDA announcedMarch 15 that beginning next fall, schools involved in the national school lunch program will have the option of avoiding the product.

The Tupperware Rabbit

It looked dead.

Strewn carelessly across the cold wire floor, the baby bunny lay motionless and stiff. The word, "Danggit." quietly fell from my lips when I found it this morning. The little thing must have crawled out of the nestbox in the frigid night (as they have all begun doing, much to my chagrin) and couldn't find its way back in. I couldn't afford to lose another kit, seeing as I had already lost four, but it looked like my swearing wasn't going to help the matter much. I gently pulled the white ball of baby fluff out and set it down on a bit of clean hay. I would deal with it once I fed and watered the rabbits who were still among the living. 

Moving smoothly through the simple chores, I mentally argued with myself about what to do with it. Should I compost this one too? Bury it? Let the neighboring hawk have it?

Feeding and watering took five minutes. My boots were squelching in the damp floor bedding, due to a massive amount of rain we got last week, and I noticed that the buck's cages needed to be re-wired on the bottom. Every move they made caused the six foot long cage to swing like something on a child's play structure. Yep, this little rabbitry needed some work. 

But such matters would have to wait. I needed to dispose of the kit. I picked it up, and looked at it. Its snow white coat was softly tinged with a shade of soot, giving it an interesting dimensional look. Its ears and nose were a quiet shade of iron; this little kit took after his Californian daddy in looks. 

Beginning to turn towards the door, I took one last look at the kit and stared in shock as I watched its red eye slooooooowly blink. So slow, that I wondered if I really saw it move at all. Then its left front leg sluggishly moved a fraction of an inch. 

This baby was still alive. By a thread perhaps, but there was still life in this little form.

I wish a had a record on how many times I've done this, but since I don't I can only guess. But what I did next, I have done countless of times over the years. Left hand holds baby. Hand goes under shirt. Furry ice cube snuggles against your skin. Chores are awkward with one hand. I've done this trick with four babies in one hand when, a couple years ago, I found that a doe tipped the entire nest box over, and the kits were barely breathing. I do enjoy it though, when it's just one kit. They start out literally feeling like a cube of ice, and it's coooooold. Then the discomfort slowly wears off as the baby begins to warm up. You go about your chores as best as you can in your position, and after a while you are startled by what feels like a pin poking you. It's a little claw. The baby stretches and bends, looking for the warmest spot and rolls its sharp little feet right up against you. This farm girl is ticklish. Give it a few more minutes, and the baby gives out a few squeaks. What was at first taken for dead, is now crying for food. I love that moment when you pull the little kit out and find a wriggling, living baby, when before you had a lifeless, cold being. It's a good feeling.

 But that wasn't quite what happened with this kit. The poor thing just couldn't get warm, no matter how long I held it. The temperature this morning wasn't that bad, but to a newborn kit, it was as ferocious as a Malamute/Wolf hybrid that bites. So I did the next logical thing. I invited him inside for tea.

Armed with a well powered heater, I sat cross legged on the wood floor for the next 45 minutes. Holding that little baby bunny in front of the heat. Its perfect, little ears wiggled and stood straight up upon feeling the warmth flooding over him, and he curled himself up into an adorable ball. He fit perfectly in the palm of my hand.

 After maybe 20-30 minutes, he started rooting around, looking for a meal. He sucked on my hand, but upon realizing that I had nothing to offer him he found a substitute. His paw. In all my years of rabbit raising, I have never seen a rabbit suck its paw, but this one did right before my eyes! His little mouth was still making sucking noises as he looked for a food source, and promptly stuck his fat, little paw in his mouth and sucked on it just like a baby sucks its thumb. My heart melted.

When he seemed warm enough, I moved him to more comfortable quarters: a Tupperware bowl lined with English Angora fluff, which I had bought at the Flock and Fiber Festival to spin up. A family member came in the room, and noticing the strange contents of the kitchen bowl, she said, "Well there's something you don't see every day. A baby rabbit it a Tupperware dish!"

 And so this little baby was dubbed the Tupperware rabbit. 

Little "Tupperware" stayed inside for another hour yet; lazing in the gentle heat procured by the behemoth of the wood stove. 

I was tempted to keep him inside a bit longer, just because he's so darn cute, but I figured he should probably try and catch a meal, so back outside he went. He is now snuggled down deep with his four litter mates, and I firmly told him to stay there.

Leaving the rabbitry, I looked in Doe #1's cage and saw a little black ball of fluff sitting in her food dish. Yet another wayward kit, breaking the rules I set down in stone. No bunnies can get out of the nest until it warms up! It looked at me with a look that seemed to say, "Ooops", and I swear it looked sheepish as I helped it scamper back in with its siblings. Baaaaad bunny.

It smirked as I left. 

Who knows what's going on out there right now, while I'm sitting here and they're out there. Little Tupperware will be checked on again tonight, and will most likely come in again if he doesn't seem up to par before night falls. I'm such a softie... Some farmer I make, bringing baby rabbits inside when I should firmly put them back in with the litter and let nature take its course. 

But I rather liked bringing the one kit inside... It's not every day you find a baby rabbit in a Tupperware dish, after all....

Monday, March 19, 2012

Personally, I think this looks fun

Archery. Horses. Competition. Those three words ma' dear can strike excitement into this girl's heart at the drop of a hat. As of yesterday, I found that my very County has a group of medieval reenactors, and for no cost at all, you can join their group and learn all sorts of fun stuff like broadsword fighting, rapier fighting, jousting, and of course equestrian events like mounted archery. *Swoon, faint* 

I didn't think much else could top barrel racing when it came to exciting horse events, but this mounted archery looks awesome! This video shows the basic level of the sport. Higher levels include jumps to go over, water to cross, and other cross country events.

"Teddy, I need a horse."

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Up For Grabs

While feeding the rabbits this morning, it occurred to me that it's time to let Basil Stag Hare find a new place. So far I have one of his sons, who is already growing bigger than Basil is, and I plan on keeping one more young buck out of him, so he's sort of being a hay burner right now... It's time to make room in the rabbitry, so Basil is now up for grabs to anyone who wants a good meat buck.

I weighed Basil yesterday and he's roughly 8 1/2 to 9 lbs. which fits the ARBA standard. He's thickset and has a meaty build. He also throws offspring that have a really nice meat/bone ratio (meaning tiny bones to lots of meat).

He's a purebred Californian, but not pedigreed. His previous owner couldn't find the papers. 

 I'm asking $25 for this big guy, and if you would like to contact me about him, you can do so by clicking HERE.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Gleaming Giant

   The night sky is bright tonight... Normally blanketed in dark obscurity, there's not much for the eye to behold. But tonight... Oh tonight the stars came out from their gloomy covers and glittered like diamonds for all to see. The air bit me as I walked outside... Like small fangs it nips and pierces. In the Northern sky I see the Big Dipper; still hanging tipsily, as though its contents will spill and stain the black hemisphere at any moment. Its handle dips down low to the tree line; perfect for me to grab a hold of, should some foolish fiend make an attempt at a sneak attack. This farm girl ain't to be messed with, and I have an over sized pot to use should they choose to contend with me.

   All the other stars danced and gloried in their splendor. Winking and laughing at my awe of their beauty. The Milky Way was a faint broad stroke filled with faerie dust, and I picked out other familiar constellations. Ursa Minor, Lepus Rabbit, the Little Dipper... All beautiful and wondrous.

 But by far, Orion stole the show... Looming like a gleaming giant in the South Eastern sky, he stood valiantly. His right arm was raised above his head, and his legs stood apart; the stance of a bold warrior. Three horizontal stars created his magnificent belt, and another two or three swept downwards. A glistening scabbard.

 He stood there. Silent. Foreboding. Proud. He was in his element tonight as he raised his arm in victory. Victory!  Did he defeat Ursa Major, the bear tonight? Leo the Lion? Whatever it was, he seemed to be pleased with himself as he cockily posed up there... A gleaming giant. I always love seeing Orion on the dark, cold nights of winter. When I tiptoe out into the inky blackness by myself to do evening barn chores, it's nice knowing that I have a big pot on my left side, and a warrior on my right. Shucks, I'm nigh invincible with such a duo!

Friday, March 16, 2012


I think my title pretty much says it all! I have soap for sale over in my Etsy shop! (click highlighted words to go directly to the listing)

I only have 10 bars from this batch, so don't wait too long if you would like to purchase a bar or five. ;) 

These bars are a lovely blend of pure coconut oil, and goat's milk, plus they're lightly scented with coconut fragrance. In other words, you may be tempted to try eating one. LOL. 

Coconut and goat's milk combined make a powerhouse of a moisturizer that deep cleanses while being gentle enough for baby skin. This soap is especially good for skin problems such as acne, eczema, and dry/chapped skin.

If I can get these bars sold in the next few days, that will allow me to buy a bag of milk replacer for my soon-to-be-here doeling, 'Last Rose of Summer', so shop ma' dears, shop! ;) 

Again, you can go directly to the shop listing by clicking HERE.

Chad Gadya

    Knowing full well that my leased buck, Bob, will not be around here for the October breeding season, I have had to face the realization that I will need to buy my own Nubian buck, and soon. I know of a breeder down south who has a polled buck (meaning he naturally has no horns, and 99% of his offspring will have no horns), and I admit that my interest in him is piqued. He comes from good lines, and goodness know I would LOVE to not have to dehorn kids!! My only hesitance in him is his rump... It's steep. When it comes to goat conformation, I am a stickler about two things: rumps, and brisket extension. But mostly rumps. A goat's back is supposed to be completely straight, yet Nubians are the worst when it comes to having a backside that suddenly drops sharply off; like a shale canyon cliff. As a breeder, it's my responsibility to breed goats that continue to increase in quality. I've seen this buck's offspring and I know that he passes that rump onto them. I could have hornless kids, but at what price? Maybe I could get away with it though? Are those steep rumps really such a big deal? In the end, I know that they are indeed a BIG deal, and I know I won't get this buck, but I do entertain such thoughts as previously mentioned. He IS a pretty boy... Oh what temptations we breeders have to face at times...

     But I also know that while a mature, proven buck would be nice, I really want a buckling (term for a young male). I skulk on breeder's websites, and toy with ADGA's "Planned Pedigree" gizmo. I knit my brow in concentration as I stare hard at does who I like, and wonder who might throw the best prospect for my girls. I mix bloodlines in my head, like a chef mixes spices. A Royal Cedars buck would add milking ability to my herd... But then, a Remuda buck would give overall style. That Wingwood/Kastdemurs buck would be quite the powerhouse, but would I really have to get a loan to buy him?

     I try hard not to let color rule my decision, but I did see a gorgeous spotted Nubian buckling on Craigslist for only $225.... Thank goodness I didn't have that much money when I saw him. I think someone else has already snatched him up. But I can't say I'm such a saint in not letting color have a vote in my choice. After all, I have to look at the buck every day once I've bought him, so he might as well be sort of pretty (er, handsome), right? I like spots. I like blacks. I like blacks with chestnut badger stripes. I like badger stripes in general. Bays are kind of boring; creams are okay. Aaaaaaand there I go already. No... Must be firm with self.... Color doesn't matter.... [scrunches eyes and mentally chants logic to oneself]

     I've managed to whittle my list of prospective does (seeing as they're all still pregnant) down to about 4 gals. All of them are competitive, classy, high bred ladies who won't break the bank. I won't make any serious decisions for a couple months yet, but I have decided one thing: His name.

A buck's gotta' have a good name. And while normally I'm terrible at thinking up names, I automatically knew what my herdsire's name had to be. 

His name will be Chad Gadya. 

"Chad Gadya". The Jewish word for "One kid goat". But more than that, Chad Gadya is a song. The Jews call it their Goat Song. During Passover, the Jews will chant the verses of their Goat Song:

"One little goat, one little goat:
Which my father bought for two zuzim."

There are eleven verses to their Goat Song. It tells the story of one kid goat and a whole host of interesting twists that make it sounds like my favorite childhood story, "The Jacket I Wear In The Snow." The tune is surprisingly vibrant and fast; seemingly typical of the Jewish culture, and reminding me of something from the old film, 'Fiddler On The Roof'.

Now, I am not Jewish. But I chose the name Chad Gadya for my soon-to-be-herdsire because I like the history behind it, and I like the idea of giving my buck a name that literally translates into my herdname: Goat Song.

The first half of my buck's name will be that of his breeder's herd. But the second half will be the name of my herd. In naming him Goat Song, he not only carries the stamp of his breeder, but he carries my stamp. This is MY buck. Chad Gadya. Goat Song.

Note: This is my weekly post from over at Mother Earth News. But I liked it so much that I thought I would double-post it here. :)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fodder Feeding

Yes, I'm still flipping out over the thought of switching over to feeding sprouted grains instead of whole grains, to my animals. The more I research this, the more it makes sense in every way. A gal on the 'Keeping A Family Cow' forum made this YouTube to show how she does her sprouting, and I found it very helpful to actually see it being done. Reading about it is one thing; seeing it is a whole 'nother. 

I plan on giving all the goats sprouts when they freshen this summer, and who knows what else will materialize around here before then, and gets to benefit from my mad experiments. LOL. 

So without further ado...

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I Have A Dream...

       There is a dream that long have I harbored deep in my heart... Its quiet drumbeat forever reverberates within my soul, and it shapes the way I do and plan things. The first part of this dream is well known to y'all: I want my own land someday. That part is known, and my eyes are forever fixated on that goal.

But the second part?

    I want to share the land. No, I have no thoughts of starting a commune or anything like that, but I want to give others the chance to springboard their farm dreams, as I know only too well how it feels to be without land.

     Seriously though, as I've looked at land over the years, I find that I could be very comfortable on about 50 acres. The plots that I'm naturally interested in tend to be in the 100 acre range. I don't need quite that much. Maybe it's crazy of me, but if I heard of someone who was aching to start their own farming enterprise, and wished only for a few acres (maybe 5-10?), by Jove I would tell them to grab some electric fence and put it on my property! I have no interest in charging a lease/rent for the acreage; if there was an enthusiastic farming-minded person who's head was screwed on straight, I would be happy to let them try their hand at the occupation. I know the joy that comes when you suddenly find that you have free land to work on, and I someday hope to share that feeling as I watch budding farmers try their wings out. Even if they're growing the same thing as I am, even if they may one day be my competition, I would still share my land.

    The world needs more farmers. It needs more people who are more concerned with healing the land, than turning a profit. It needs more people who will study nature's template and shape their agricultural businesses around it. It needs more people who are committed to serving their community. It needs more honest, passionate, and determined souls. It needs people who will simply start. Even if they don't have all the answers. 

 It needs people who will do the work, and it needs people who will help others to fly... 

Beautiful Life

If goat kids are the epitome of life and joy, baby rabbits vie for second place. It never fails to make me smile as I watch them wiggle around, or holding their chubby bodies, or seeing their funny pink ears. :)

All the kits are doing well, and they are now fully furred. Their eyes should open on Saturday, and I am looking forward to that. They're cute right now, but once they hit the 2-3 week stage, they are flat out adorable! 

So here are some pics for y'all to show you their fuzzy coats. :)

Aren't its ears just the sweetest things???

Monday, March 12, 2012

Last Rose of Summer

This is such a lovely song... An instrumental version with piano and violin.

Just listening to it makes me glad that my new little doeling bears the name of it. :) 

Not A Bad Lookin' Beast

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Does That Count?

I will admit that while I am all for a healthy style of living, herbs, and going natural, I had never had a "green smoothie". For those of you who are not acquainted with this odd colored snack, it's simply a shake, or smoothie, in which you put green vegetables. Spinach, kale, lettuce, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, collards... You get the idea. I LOVE my banana smoothies, and the thought of putting spinach and kale (even though I really enjoy both veggies on their own) in it just seemed wrong! Ruin my beloved banana smoothie?!?! No my dears, no green smoothies for me....

But I watched others drink theirs, and say how tasty it was... I read in my herb books how they're so good for you... I guiltily pretended not to hear or read any of it. I wanted my banana smoothie pure. Maybe some strawberries and blueberries in it, but only on special occasions.

 But of course, you wait long enough, and a body is bound to eventually come to their senses. I was reading a blog today, and the post was about, what else? Green smoothies. She made them sound so good! And the pictures... Oh, I will try anything if you make the picture look good. This girl knows what a Canon 5D Mark II can do for things. So on a brave whim, I pulled out the Bosch and fired up the blender.

 In went the idolized banana. Followed by the long list of strawberries, spinach, kale, flax, almonds, bee pollen, and yogurt. I did a big handful each of the spinach and kale. Said blender was put to speed and the swirling vortex of terror mix of colorful ingredients soon melded into one strange color, as though from an artist's palette.

But there was a problem.

My green smoothie wasn't green. 

Ummm, Houston we have a problem. Does that still count as a green smoothie if it isn't really green??? Seriously, when I see other folks with their concoctions, it looks like -- green. Like grass. Mine is more of a brown color with green flecks to show that I did indeed add the veggies. Oh well. Maybe it's not green because I didn't add any wheatgrass powder, spirulina powder, or kelp powder; which are all things that folks say to add to it. But seeing as I had not any of those items, they dutifully did not go into my smoothie. Makes sense to me, anyway...

 Then came the big moment: I actually had to try it. [gulp] I definitely did not leave it sitting on the counter for five minutes, as I eyed it warily and pretended that I was suddenly too busy to try it. Nope. Not me. Would I do something like that? Really? Hey, you would have too if you had seen this thing.

 A tentative swallow ensued, and.... It was really good!! This is where all you green smoothie drinkers start elbowing me and loudly saying, "I told you so." Admittedly, the shake tastes mostly of strawberries and nuts, but I'll buy that. Won't hurt my feelings if I can't taste the greens. ;) 

So I am now converted. A green smoothie drinker. I guess next time I have some spare nickels and dimes I'll have to go to the store and get some spirulina, wheatgrass, and kelp powder. I'll gradually wean myself onto the whole "green" thing...

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Death and Life In The Rabbitry

Doe #2 did indeed kindle on Thursday night, and had three kits. One white, two black. Alas, she had them on the wire floor instead of in the well-stuffed nest box. I found all three of them dead in the morning. Ice cold, and stiff. Doe #2 repeatedly nudged the white kit with her nose; you could see the puzzlement in her simple face, as she tried to get her litter to nurse.

Today, Doe #2 has me concerned with her sluggishness and lack of appetite. It's not like her to not want to eat, and I worry that there might be something more serious going on here, such as a retained kit. I also found that Rosie Cotton killed and partly consumed one of her kits last night. I'm praying hard that this happenstance was just some sort of fluke, and that she won't go cannibalistic on the rest of the litter. 

A handful of years ago, these little scenes would have had me in tears. I would have been kicking myself for letting Doe #2's litter die, that she wasn't acting normal, and I would have mourned for the little kit that died last night.

When I found the litter on Friday morning, I simply pulled the deceased kits out, and quietly buried them in the compost bin. If the kits could not provide meat for the freezer, then I wanted them to provide dirt for this healing land. I will re-breed Doe #2 if she perks up in the next week or two, and if she fails the next litter, then she will go to freezer camp. Everyone must pull their weight here, one way or another.

Such things would have never entered my head when I first started rabbits, but today they are commonplace. Life and death, decomposition and dirt. I have changed much over the last year; I can see that in myself. As I dealt with the kits, it struck me just how much I've changed, that I should want to respect their stolen life by composting them. That certainly would not have entered my radar a few years ago.

On a brighter side of things though, Doe #1's litter is doing beautifully. They're fully furred now, and are so fat and velvety that I feel like hugging them every time I peek beneath their warm layer of down, within the nest box. :) They open their eyes in about 7 days, so stick around for pictures!

Friday, March 9, 2012

So Close, Yet So Far

Well folks, I almost got my very own buck today.

While perusing Craigslist this morning, I stumbled (that's how I find ads; I stumble on them. LOL) on an ad for a lovely Nigerian Dwarf buck. I recognized his bloodlines, and knew he was a top quality boy. His coat was a pretty silver/blue, and he had the look of a prize fighter in a 21 inch body. He was a hunk. The breeders had originally posted him at $200, but today they were taking all offers. They needed him gone by Saturday, due to a barn renovation, and the poor guy was losing his bachelor's pad. I had absolutely no money to offer the breeders, but I had an idea. I contacted them and proposed a barter: I would get the buck for free, and in trade they would get the first doeling out of Poppet. The breeders checked Poppet's pedigree out, and thought the plan was a good one. There was just one hitch: someone was coming out that evening to look at him, and possibly buy him. If the prospective buyers didn't want him, then he would be mine. I had my fingers crossed the whole day as I waited for news. I figured this would work to have my own buck. He would eat far less than Bob does (that guy has four hollow legs), I could put him up for stud to CAE negative does, and I would be able to get Poppet bred. And hey, I could always breed him with the Nubians and get mini-goats (which seem to be all the rage right now...). I liked this plan.

Evening came, and with it came word from the breeders.

The prospective buyers bought him. :( Phooey. There goes my buck.

Back to the ol' drawing board...

Poor Poppet. ;)