Tuesday, April 30, 2013

A Good Day

It's been a long, short day. If you know what I mean... But it's been a good one. :)

My day started out with milking a goat while listening to birds just beginning to wake up, then the hours unraveled and I found a nest of eggs, had my hogs butchered, played an intense round of Candyland (yep, that wonderful board game) with the 17 year old sister (yes, we're nuts; but seriously, when was the last time you played Candyland????), took a 45 minute power nap, did the fastest run I've ever done through the 98 acres with Lyric tagging along at my heels, did evening barn chores, and I'll finish my day by crashing on the couch and watching Captain America in about an hour... 

It's been a good day.

Makin' Bacon

Pigs have really small hearts.

True fact.

I guess I had never thought about the size of a pig heart before... And then I couldn't believe how small it was when the butcher fished Mike's out. Make a fist with your hand; that's about how big the heart was. They were pretty big pigs; not as big as I wanted, but still a good size... And only a fist-sized heart to keep those porkers running? I thought it was interesting anyway. ;)

So yep, the butchers came, the butchers - ah - butchered, and then they left with two carcasses which will age for a week before being cut. All in forty minutes. I was in awe.

I had never met these two guys who were coming to deal with my hogs. I didn't even know where they were coming from. All I knew was that a total stranger in Dallas swore by them and told me that I absolutely had to use these guys if I was looking for a mobile butcher, and that I wouldn't be dissapointed. So I took the stranger's word and so far I feel pretty good about the decision.

I liked the butcher's sense of humor. :) Cheerful and at ease, he smiled and asked to see my hogs. I immediately felt comfortable with letting him take my Tamworths down and finish the job I had started. He and his working partner took a look around my humble pig pen, and then went to get their tools. It was time. 

Armed with a high-power rifle, and his partner with a knife, the two went back to where Mike and Sausage were. The butcher explained that he did his absolute best to take each pig down with one shot, and he would wait as long as needed to get that shot. Once a pig went down, his partner's job was to jump in and slit the jugular before the pig's heart stopped beating. 

I stood back and watched quietly.

Mike and Sausage were definitely patience testers. Used to human contact, they felt no reason to come and check the two intruders out, so they instead kept their heads down in the newest hole they were rooting up; blissfully intent on finding some small smackerel deep down in the cool depths of their composted bedding. I offered to get some grain to lure the boys where the butcher needed them, but he declined. He could wait, he said... He'd wait for the right moment. It probably only took five minutes before they got curious, but it seemed like a year. Mike lifted his head and looked at us, and that was all the butcher needed. The butcher's shot was uncannily accurate, and Mike went down with that one shot. The second guy stepped in and did his part; cleanly slitting the jugular right before Mike's body went into spasms. When shooting hogs and cows, there is ONE small spot that you have to hit if you want an instantaneous death. You draw an imaginary 'X' on the face. Ear to eyeball. And right in the middle of that X, just off center, is that one spot. 

Sausage was not bothered in the least by the sudden demise of his pal. The smell of hot blood excited him and he began looking for where the smell was coming from. Two minutes later, he too went down. 

The rest of the work went fast. The carcasses were hosed clean, and then the two men began working on skinning. They made it look so easy... I was envious of their little slaughtering rig and their wicked sharp knives. I leaned against the barn wall and quietly watched; only occasionally saying something, or laughing along with the butcher at something. He kept reiterating that it was 100% okay to ask questions if I had any; but being the quiet person that I am, I didn't have any to ask, save for how long they've been doing this and why they started; so I stayed quiet, enjoyed watching them work, and took mental notes of their methods. 

So, I do have to admit something... I may "enjoy" butchering/slaughtering, but no matter how many animals I do, the eyeballs always creep me out. Blood doesn't bug me, killing them doesn't phase me, gutting is no problem, but those eyeballs? Creepy. And once the hogs were were skinned, but their heads still remained on... Well, I tried not to look at that end of the carcass. Ever seen the eye of a pig? It looks like a human eye. Seriously. And with the head having been skinned too, it made a rather gruesome sight that took a couple minutes to get used it. 

Gore aside, I liked watching the butchers pull out all sorts of handy doodads to do their job. I think the coolest thing they pulled out was something that looked like a chainsaw and they used that little thing to zip right down the spine. *insert swoon* I've had to split a few carcasses before, but I always had to use a handsaw. It's slow, exhausting work. Made even more tedious by a slightly dull saw that had teeth too small for the job. -_- So watching them use their chainsaw deal had me smiling in envy. Now THAT'S a fun toy! 

Forty minutes. That's all it took. Mike and Sausage went from squealing on the hoof, to hanging carcasses that frankly looked nothing like a pig. The butchers packed up and I smiled at the simplicity of my morning. There wasn't even a mess for me to clean up. Not a single trace that they had been here. They took the carcasses back to their shop where they'll hang for a week or so, then be cut up and I'll go and pick up all that lovely meat. 

And I'm sure you've noticed by now that there aren't any pictures. :-/ I thought about bringing the camera out, but decided not to. This time anyway. Let's ease our way into this butchering stuff... I don't need any flack about graphic images right now. 

My little brothers who named Mike and Sausage told me yesterday that they want pink pigs next time. And their names have to be Bob and Bacon. I smiled and told them I'd see what I could do...

Not a bad gig, this hog stuff... I think I kinda' like it. :)

Surprises From The Freedom Rangers!

It seems the butchering of some of the Freedom Rangers yesterday got the point across to the rest of the birds that I didn't get to: I don't keep birds who don't lay eggs. 

This morning I found nine eggs (I think I have 10 hens left?) in the nest boxes. Made me think of something from the movie "Chicken Run", it did... Hehe. 

For pullet eggs, they're a good size! All jumbos!

I've missed having homegrown eggs around the place...

Monday, April 29, 2013


I had chicken blood spattered all over my arms and skirt this afternoon, when a family member came running up with the phone in her hand. "It's for you!" She mouthed dramatically, and motioned me over. I was in the middle of butchering some chickens. Sigh... Did I really have to stop what I was doing? Guess so.

Turns out that it was the mobile butcher, calling to ask if we could reschedule the hog slaughtering from Friday to tomorrow morning. 

I fleetingly smirked at the irony of the situation as I spoke with the butcher while trying to rub dried chicken blood off my free arm. Two days in a row of slaughtering; I was game for it. I told him yes, and agreed to meet him in my driveway at 9am the next day.

Oh Mike and Sausage... You've been fun boys, but you're getting to big for me. It's time to go to freezer camp.

I haven't decided yet if I'll keep the camera handy tomorrow, but I'm sure I'll have stories to tell. :) This will be my first hog slaughtering, and I'm looking forward to it.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Ta Da

Why is it that it took me almost a year to get individual pages up on the blog?? Who knows... I'm a procrastinator, even if I don't like to admit it. So take a gander up at the top of the blog! Right below my header; see the new tabs? One says 'Home', one says 'Farm Website', and the last says 'About'. That last one's a doozy... Hehe.

Anyway, just thought I'd point it out. :) 

Bring It On

It didn't take long before I noticed a numbing sensation in my fingertips...

It was the beginning of December, and I was at work. I didn't know the exact temperatures outside, but I knew we were below mid-30's. It was cold. I was wearing three pairs of socks, leggings, pants, rain pants to go over the regular pants, two shirts, a lime green colored fleece sweater, my carhartt coat, and a hideous looking purple, knitted hat. But I had nothing for my hands. Could not wear anything on my hands...

In front of me, lying on a metal table that was slap-dashed together, was the carcass of a small goat. It had been butchered three days hence. Had been aging in a walk-in cooler since then. The meat was colder than the temperatures outside. And with the help of a co-worker (the only other female there at the time; bless her...) we had to turn this small carcass into forty cuts of meat. 

We had never done this before.

Watched videos, read books, and talked to others, we had done... But actually used a knife on a carcass? No. This was it. 

And frankly, I was excited about it. I had been looking forward to this for a few days now; had been anticipating getting to work with knives. And now we were doing it.

My fingers lightly traced the pattern made through the rib cage... Feeling the cold meat beneath each tip. The carcass looked like it should feel clammy and slimy. Instead it felt like satin fresh off the bolt... Smooth, sleek, and glossy. It reminded me of the first time I ever touched a snake. I expected it to feel slimy, like a frog, but instead found its reptilian skin to feel like silk. Such was the case with this goat. The muscle was a brilliant scarlet in color, but with a silver cast hovering over it; lending an iridescent sheen that at some parts whispered a shade of blue. Just faintly. The contrast between meat and bone was startling; blood red clashing with ivory white. 

Our first step was to break down the carcass into what's called the "primals". The big parts that get cut smaller and smaller into "sub-primals". The primals are split into three parts. From the shoulders upwards is the first one. The rib cage to the loin makes the second one. And the third is the back legs/rump. From these three you create the more recognizable cuts that you see in a store, or in your freezer. 

It didn't take long before my fingers went numb. They were cold. I worried that I would get clumsy with my knife and cause damage somewhere. But I sure wasn't giving up on this. I was enjoying myself. My knife was scarily sharp and I found immense pleasure in the feeling of sliding my blade down through the rib cage; meeting the spine, where I would switch to a meat saw and separate this primal. It was like that grand feeling where your scissors glide through wrapping paper; you get your knife just right and the meat falls away at your light touch. Don't saw. Don't hack. Go easy on it; slice it. Long, smooth strokes. That's right. Like that. Feel the move reaching from your shoulder to your fingers. Yes, I know they're cold. Mine are too.

Why was I finding such pleasure in this? In this gruesome task? I couldn't answer. I'm not into gory movies. I don't like seeing people hurt; I want to take their pain and bear it for them. I don't like violence and bloodshed. I'm a wimp when it comes to needles and pain. And yet, despite these contradictions, I was smiling while cutting the carcass of a goat up. I bet I would make a psychiatrist cry, trying to figure me out. 

My questions about this were only intensified as my friend walked up, and averted his eyes from the growing pile of meat cuts in front of me and my co-worker. He had just finished with harvesting vegetables in a field farther on the property and was about to take his lunch break. I grinned at him not wanting to see the carcass. Grinned that I was enjoying this, and he was not. I mischievously offered him my knife as he passed me. "Wanna try?" He did not. And then proceeded to leave me with my co-worker as we finished up. Was I wrong to enjoy this so much? I felt a touch of guilt that I had even wanted to do this. Felt a touch of envy that my gentle friend did not feel a desire to do this, and here was I was, up to my elbows in it. 

I got to the fun part in butchering: filleting the ribs, leaving a boneless cut of meat that looked good enough to eat. (Oh wait.) It took a couple tries before I found a rhythm. Slip my knife beneath a rib and slide it down to the spine... Use my finger tips and ease the rib out before giving it a boisterous CRACK! with a downward move that cleanly tore the rib right off the spine and away from the meat. Oh boy... I grew to love hearing that crack. Loved it that I was the only one here who could do it. Loved that I could so neatly get all the meat off each rib and not leave a single splinter on the spine. Fine. I plead guilty to being gory and gruesome. This was awesome. 

I am an omnivore that relies heavily on meat in her diet. I love my fruits, veggies, and grains, but nothing can compete with animal protein. I am an individual who can't seem to keep her iron levels up on her own. My energy levels flag easily. I rely on meat to keep my motor going. Rely on that powerhouse of protein, iron, and energy found in muscle and fat. As we cut that meat up, I started craving it... Somebody fire up the propane stove in the break area, I wanted meat. Medium rare, if you please. 

When we finished cutting, we both began wrapping the cuts in butcher paper. We had gotten 43 cuts of meat. Many of them we had invented off the tops of our heads and creatively named there and then. We used to word "roast" a lot. ;) I used a fat permanent marker to write the name of each cut onto the paper. My cold fingers causing only slight problems when I needed to write an 'O' or an 'S'.

I loved this. I loved that we had just created 43 cuts of high quality food for people. This was meat that had a name, a face, a story. I had done it justice. I had used it wisely. The goat had died quickly and humanely, and every part of it had been used. I feel a mix of anger and indignation when I think about the animals slaughtered at the huge slaughterhouses (the ones you can't take your personal animals to.).Often killed inhumanely, the meat is terrible, there's so much waste, artificial dyes are added to make the meat look red... This is not what meat is supposed to be. And it irks me. I love meat. But I want it to be good meat. I have a hard time explaining this. Have a hard time putting this into words. But I can feel it. And I know that to me, butchering feels "right" to me. I love this because I am taking the quality into my own hands. Who knows, maybe butchering is in my blood and I don't know it yet.

We finished. And were told that we would do a lamb next week that would be twice the size of this goat. I snuck a glance at my friend and smiled at his grimace. He finds pleasure in pulling weeds and harvesting vegetables, whereas I find such a thing tedious and patience-testing. It seems I'm comfier with a cleaver in my hand after all...

A lamb next week? Bring it on. Dibs on filleting the ribs.

Homemade Colostrum Recipe

I think it must have been around 4am last night when in my deepest of deep sleeps I suddenly bolted upright in bed and thought, "I need to blog about my colostrum recipe!" 

Is this sad or what? Even in my subconscious state, I'm still thinking about my writing. Hopeless, am I. But I think it might have had something to do with the fact that I was dreaming that Heidi kidded (why that goat was back here at GSF, I don't know...) and had thirteen goat kids. All at once. And I was panicking because I had no colostrum to feed thirteen newborn goats. Apparently I shouldn't eat chocolate chip cookies right before going to bed... They seem to give me funny dreams. Hehe. ;)

Strange dreams aside, I figured that since kidding/calving/lambing/what-have-you season is still going for some of us, y'all might find this recipe handy. I used this recipe with Sudden Distraction, and then again with Lyric since neither of their dams had colostrum. Lyric's dam, Jupiter, had a full udder at kidding time, but when I milked her out for the first time, I was surprised to see that it was milk and not colostrum!! No idea why she never had colostrum, but at that finding, I whipped out my ingredients and made some homemade colostrum for Lyric, and I'm happy to report that the little lady thrived in it.

So here you go! :)

Homemade Colostrum for animals:

  • 3 Cups milk (preferably raw and whole. In a pinch you can use storebought, but results may vary.)
  • 1 egg; lightly whipped
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar, honey, or corn syrup. Whichever one you've got.
  • 1 teaspoon cod liver oil. This ingredient is somewhat optional... It's there to provide vitamin A, but I've never put it in my colostrum mix simply because I don't have any!! And so far my youngsters have done fine without the oil. (Warning: If you DO put cod liver oil in your colostrum mix, just know that your house is going to *reek*. And the smell sticks to skin... Ask me how I know this. Ugh.)
Put all the ingredients in a pot and slowly warm everything until the sweetener has dissolved. Then put in a glass jar, and store in the fridge. I wouldn't keep this stuff any longer than 1 week before starting a new batch.

One thing I like to add to my bottles, whether it's colostrum or milk, is Slippery Elm powder. For goats/lambs/puppies I put in 1 teaspoon of powder to each feeding (this is for standard size goat kids; if you have Dwarfs, then you might do a 1/2 tsp.). For calves I'll do 2-3 teaspoons (depending on size; jersey size calves get the lesser, holstein size calves get the larger). Slippery Elm stops all possibilities of scouring in its tracks. I've been in a position where I've had to switch milks on short notice with goat kids; suddenly going from raw goat milk, to milk replacer, to half goat milk - half store bought cow milk. It was erratic, and I feared the kids would scour and die on me. But it never happened. Their manure never even changed, since I was giving them slippery elm powder at every feeding. Elm powder is also high in nutrients and gives the animals dense bone structure, strong, shiny hair, and strengthens the nerves. I don't know about you, but I want my youngsters, whether they're goat kids or puppies, to have all that!

P.S. Just in case you're wondering if this recipe is legit or not, I would encourage you to Google it; you'll find the same recipe on many websites, and I've even seen it in a few livestock books. I didn't make it up, if that makes you feel any better. ;)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Countdown Begins

Ten days until my English shepherd pup comes!!! Whahooo!!!

Nobody Knows

My love for variety and randomness is most clearly shown in my music tastes. Which is a nice way to say that I like an extremely broad range. Seriously, we're looking at everything from The Dillards to One Direction. Loreena McKennit to Jai McDowall. Libra to Secrets In Stereo. Yeah, I'm off the wall with what I like. ;) There are a lot of factors in what makes me decide to keep a song; the lyrics, the instruments, the voice, the tempo... Which is why I have so many different kinds.

I found this song yesterday, and fell in love with the lyrics. It's a keeper. :)

'Nobody knows the trouble we've seen
Nobody knows the price of this dream
And nobody knows what it took to believe

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Yep, That's Me

*Gasp* "It's beautiful! I want it! It'd be the perfect birthday present, too... Just look at it: sleek, modern, well designed, it's got everything! Can I put it on my birthday wish list?"

Okay, three guesses as to what I was swooning over last night, using those words.

Three guesses.

 A barn? A piece of farm equipment? A fancy little car? A swimming pool? (let's not note that that's actually four guesses right there...)

No, nope, no. And I'm most likely shooting down your guesses too. ;)

Dear friends, I was swooning over something I would love to have, but could never afford. 

Believe it or not, it was a USDA certified mobile slaughtering unit. Click the link (highlighted words) to see that gorgeous beast!

Isn't she lovely? Okay, the price isn't so lovely, sitting at $205,000, but folks we're talking 3 tons of carcass capacity in the cooler!!!! Three tons!! The interior pictures are enough to make me drool; it's got everything in there. And it's USDA inspected! Which means anyone who owns that monster can butcher animals and the resulting meat will be state inspected and legal to sell off the farm. These days, if you want meat that's legal to sell, you have to haul your animal a long distance, to a stressful environment, and face a long day getting the job done. All for a sticker on your package that says the meat is USDA inspected.

With this baby though, the slaughterhouse comes to you. Your animal never has to leave its home. Doesn't have to experience the stress of transportation.

So yeah... Last night at 9pm I was swooning over a semi truck and trailer that's been outfitted for butchers. 

An acquaintance on facebook thought my excitement was comical and said to me, "Only a farm girl would swoon over a mobile slaughter truck with 3 ton fridge capacity..."

Yep, that's me. :)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

They Came Today!!

My micro green seeds were slightly late, but at least they're here now! I've got a variety of mustards, broccoli, cabbage, kale, radish, endive, and peas. :) 

Time to start planting!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Be Different

Last Year's Garden

This is a picture from last year... Duet is looking through the kid pen and into my garden. My crazy, wild, wacky, awesome garden. It was a boisterous mess and I loved it. It didn't turn out like I wanted, and I really didn't harvest much from it (save for the overabundance of cherry tomatoes. *shudder*), but I always smiled at the vibrancy it had, what with the spiraling pumpkin vines, cheerful nasturtiums, and one towering sunflower that filled the boundaries. 

I haven't decided yet if I will try a garden again this year or not... I may just be content with the raised beds we always do. But looking at this picture always makes me smile. 2012 was a wild and awesome year. :)


These past few days have been filled with intense nothingness. I'm waiting... Waiting. I go about my daily chores, feed the goat kid, take her for jaunts on the neighbor's property, reply to emails, and wait.

My microgreen seeds should arrive in the mail today. I've been waiting a little over a week for them to come. Waiting for that FedEx truck to pull up with a package addressed to me. Once those seeds get here, I have to wait until I go to town tomorrow to pick up enough soil to allow me to start growing 15 to 20 flats each week. And I'm still waiting for the erection of a greenhouse... Thankfully I have a small cold frame that I can use for now; it'll last me a week or two, maybe three if I push it. So that will allow me to get a jump start while the greenhouse is being built.

The hogs are being butchered next Friday; May 3rd. I'm waiting impatiently for them to leave. Not necessarily because I'm sick and tired of them (on the contrary; despite their many escapes and whatnot, this place is going to be quiet without them!), but I'm ready for that bit of stress to be off my mind. Once they're butchered and the halves have all gone to their respective buyers, I will be SO relieved. But I still have ten days to go. Ten days to wait.

My English Shepherd pup, Gyp, will arrive in thirteen days!!! I am beyond excited for him to get here, and the wait is killing me. The days tick by so slowly when you're waiting for a puppy...

And then there's Trigun. My last Nubian goat to sell. I'm getting desperate here; I need her sold and gone before May hits. I've had people show interest in her; had people say, "Let me talk with my husband real quick..." And then I'm left waiting. -_- 

I feel like I'm caught in this terrible vortex of waiting. I know it'll soon be over; the hogs will be butchered, my seeds will arrive, my puppy will come, the goat will sell (well, I hope the goat will sell!). But right now, right here in this moment, it's making me go stir crazy. As a person who grew up with the phrase, "Git 'er' done!", patience is not always something I abound in. I don't want to wait; I want to do it NOW. 

So that's my life right now. I'm waiting. Trying to make these days pass by as quickly as possible. But still stuck waiting.

Let's hope that FedEx truck gets here today...

Monday, April 22, 2013

Get It While It's FRESH!

Heads-ups guys! For one week, and one week only, you can watch a free screening of the movie FRESH! I watched this last year and loved it; so you can bet that I'll be watching it again this year. :)

You can find the screening online by clicking HERE! 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Some Days...

I like to stay busy. Very busy. I'm a workaholic. 

Most days I keep busy, even if it's just researching stuff online, or working on a manuscript, or magazine article. But I generally do try to stay occupied.

And then there are days like today.

I don't think I did anything constructive today, beyond the bare necessities. The weather outside couldn't decide if it wanted to rain or be sunny, so it flipped back and forth betwixt the two; which maddens me to no end. -_- I was also feeling tired, and more than anything I just wanted to curl up on the couch with a warm puppy and watch the extended version of Lord of the Rings. First episode, if you please. ;) Although the second one ain't bad at all, but I was in the mood for hobbit birthday parties. 

There was just one problem: I didn't have a puppy, or a LOTR movie. Phooey. I thought about improvising with a goat kid and a Youtube version of said film, but I couldn't find that either (the youtube that is; goat kid was easier to find). 

So in the end I spent 15 minutes watching all the LOTR trailers ever created and then crashed for a one hour nap. I didn't realize how badly I needed that nap until I woke up!

Most days I'm an Energizer Bunny that is always moving... But some days are nothing but "crash and burn" days where all I want is a long, humorous movie and a furry companion beside me.

Today was that day.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

The Lone Ranger

Yup, those Freedom Rangers are still on the hoof. 

Sausage = Bacon

I just got off the phone with my mobile processors, and they'll be coming out on May 3rd to butcher Mike and Sausage, my Tamworth pigs that I've been raising over the winter. I am ready for the boys to be turned into bacon. So ready. 

This morning I was sound asleep (and when I say "asleep" I mean it. I sleep like the dead), when my subconscious heard a small noise coming from the far end of the pasture. It was the sound of a hog touching the electric fence and squealing in surprise. How I did it, I don't know; but one moment I was in deep sleep, and the next I was wide awake and jumping out of bed without fully realizing what was going on. I can sleep through a fire alarm going off just outside my bedroom door (I've done it twice. Thankfully both were false alarms), I can sleep through toddlers running and screaming through the house as they play "good guy vs. bad guy", I can sleep through music playing, people talking, dogs barking... When I sleep, I sleep. So I had a hard time believing that I just woke up to the distant sound of a single squeal from a porcine beast. But it seems I did. My subconscious recognized the sound and I woke up because the only reason I would be hearing a noise like that in the first place would be because the hogs had escaped. 

And they had.

Darn that walking bacon.

When I first got the pigs, an escape attempt was met with full blown panic, stealth mode capture plans, and headaches galore. Nowadays my manner is, "Oh give me ten minutes and I'll get out there..." I know the pigs won't go far, and when I'm ready for them I simply put some food in their pen, call them back and shut the gate behind them. 

But still. I'm ready for the boys to go to freezer camp.

So May 3rd it is. A Friday spent doing one of my favorite things: turning livestock into edible protein. 

Sausage = Bacon. And he's gonna' taste so good. :) 

May 6th

May 6th is *the* day! A plane will arrive in Portland, Oregon and on that plane will be an English Shepherd pup, with my name on the kennel... 

It seems like an eternity away... I don't know how I'll survive the wait!

I want my dog so bad that it hurts. I'm ready to bring my boy home.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Just A Pair

I look out in my pasture, and no matter what the weather is, I see sheep. Just a pair of them right now... Just a pair. One is named Darcy, who is a Blue Faced Leicester/Cormo cross wether. The other is a dark brown Romeldale/Cormo cross ewe simply called "Brown Sheep". In the stormy rain my goats are huddled in the barn, eating expensive hay that costs me an average of $16 per bale. Meanwhile the sheep are outside. Grazing. My cows would go through a bale of hay a day each. My goats would go through a bale a week each. My sheep? It's hard to say, since they're always out foraging. Maybe a bale every two weeks? Two and a half weeks? Either way, it's a boon when you find yourself in a position like mine currently is, where almost every hay supplier is out of hay until June. Oregon exported way too much hay to Japan in 2012, and now everyone here is seeing and feeling the effect. 

I look out at my sheep who are grazing in the rain, and I eye their gorgeous wool that hangs heavily on them. They will be shorn soon, and then I will have fiber to work with. An art medium to design things with. I once considered pursuing a occupation as a fiber artist. Getting a degree in design... But now I'd rather be the one to supply that art medium. Although I still like the idea of taking my sheep's wool to the next step and creating designer/art yarns. Some of the longing to be in the artist world never left me, and I still have a crazy love for weird, wild, colorful art yarns. This is my desire for wool from my own sheep: to create beautiful yarns that most folks don't see in a common yarn store, but rather, in the upscale, ritzy ones found in Portland, NYC, Seattle, and Los Angeles. Hand-dyed, beaded, 100% pure wool yarns. 

I think of the lambs that "Brown Sheep" will hopefully have next year. Lambs that will provide either a shearling fleece, and/or a nice lambskin, right along with their delicious meat to go in the freezer. I think of what I could do with that meat. Either saving it for myself, selling it to farm customers, or marketing it to local, upscale restaurants. Or maybe all three. :) 

 Then my mind turns to the sheepdogs that usually come with the territory of owning these woolly creatures. Sheep and dogs. Dogs and sheep. They go together. What an awesome tandem. In having a flock of small ruminants, a body can also have the amazing experience of getting to work with a highly trained canine who becomes your working partner. Whether you use a Border Collie, and English Shepherd, or a Bouvier Des Flandres, it's all good, and it's all amazing, getting to watch these dogs do what is instinctual to them. I've tried herding sheep by myself. It ain't fun. Those sheep have four wheel drive, and I sure don't. Watching a dog take my place and do the job with such fluid grace is pure poetry to me. 

Oh and there's also those sheepdog trials! :) Someday I would love to take my dog and compete in that amazing and thrilling sport. Someday...

Let's not forget the sheep cheese either. ;) I'm not sure if I'll ever have a hankering to try dairy sheep, but I admit that I do love sheep milk cheese. 

The other day I needed to check Brown Sheep's hooves. Had she been a cow, I would have needed a strong cattle chute for the job. Had she been a goat, I would have needed to put her in a stanchion and I still would have faced a hissy fit (goats *hate* having their feet messed with! Or at least mine do!). I caught Brown Sheep (I know, I know... She seriously needs a better name than that. LOL.) and she struggled while on her feet. We're both about the same weight, and were evenly matched in strength. Then in one smooth move, I flipped her onto her rump and my little ewe went completely limp and still. She became as feisty as a newborn kitten. I love it that there is an animal that a 120 lb. girl like me can handle with ease, without worrying about getting crushed. Yes, a ram can still do a lot of damage but if I had to choose between a ram and a bull, I think I would rather face the ovine, versus the bovine.

In those compact packages of walking baas, you have something that can provide meat, milk, and wool. Actually, it's more than that. A savvy marketer would look at a single sheep and see meat, milk, cheese, yogurt, soap, fleeces,yarn, roving, spinning lessons, sheepdogs, herding lessons, puppies to sell, started dogs, lambs to sell as breeding stock, stud service from the ram, sheep raising workshops, horn buttons, shearing services, skulls (seriously. Jacob sheep skulls sell quite well.), hunting trophies (newest fad; hunters stalk Soay rams on private property), renting out sheep for landscaping services (another fad; the "green" way to take care of brush), grazing a flock through a lavender field, sheepskin rugs, jerky, needle felted creations, and who knows what else... The sky's the limit.

I look out at my sheep grazing in the rain. Just a pair of them right now... Just a pair. And then I think of all the possibilities that come with sheep. How a single person and a good dog can run a flock by themselves. And I wonder, why don't I have more of these animals??

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Change of Plans

Normally I'm excited whenever I buy a new animal. And I've been looking forward to having another cow around for quite some time now. But for some reason, I felt no excitement at the idea of bringing Flash the Jersey home...

I wrote it off as nerves at first; after Mattie died, it seemed only natural that I would be hesitant about getting another cow, and a Jersey at that. But there was still that "off" feeling... Something's not right here. I wasn't comfortable with the idea of buying her. The only thing "right" about her was her price tag. I thought, and thought, and thought, and finally came to the conclusion that the uneasiness I was feeling was due to the fact that I was about to take on a lactating cow that was wilder than Peaches ever was. And Peaches gave me a hard time as it was. Flash is a chronic kicker, she's not halter broken, and she has a 30' foot flight zone; meaning that if you get within that thirty foot bubble of hers, she'll bolt. 

Yes, I could have dealt with it. I could have had a ultra rough week and broken her in, but it wouldn't have been fun. I would have needed chain hobbles and/or a kick stop, ( I probably would have bought both), a 20' length of chain so that I could work on desensitizing her without her snapping a rope, and it would have taken a LOT of time. She was also prone to mastitis, and I really didn't want a cow that had that problem.

I did not feel good about bringing that cow home. But at the same time, I felt bad about cancelling on her. So I did what I always do when I'm torn on a decision. I get advice. My council group these days seems to be made up of four people: A good friend, my parents, and my grandpa. The vote was unanimous. Cancel on the cow. Wait for a better one.

So I took their advice, and cancelled on Flash. I just gotta' be patient. 

But meanwhile, I do still need a source of income! The cow would have been that source, but now that she's not coming, and I don't think I'll do any cow buying for a couple months yet, I need to switch to Plan B: Microgreens. I've been growing these all winter; tweaking and perfecting methods, experimenting with different kinds, and just generally trying to get a better feel for this little crop. I've never considered myself a gardener, but I have to admit that I love these microgreens. They are fast, fun, easy, and amazingly tasty. I have a huge salad of pure microgreens with my lunch almost every day and I adore it. :) 

So since the cow will not be coming this week, I will instead be focusing my attention on microgreens. Getting a greenhouse erected so that I can grow the greens year around, contacting chefs and seeing about getting some permanent orders down, and buying some more seeds. I really do think that these microgreens have potential. Now it's time to put my hunch to the ultimate test.

I was totally not expecting a turn of events like this. But I have to admit that I'm rather relieved knowing that Flash will not be coming after all. I will still get a milk cow eventually. But it will be the right one. I will wait.

Found in the Fridge

I was overly tired last night, okay? I do weird things when I'm tired... And the eggs were practically begging to be drawn on... *innocent look* 

I am a lover of anything random. :)

Saturday, April 13, 2013


I'm curious; does anyone here raise meat goats? Or are we just a dairy oriented bunch? Anyone interested in meat goats? Again, just curious. :) I'll probably get a few this year to go in tandem with the pigs as my blackberry eradication plan. 

Friday, April 12, 2013

Northern Lights Tomorrow Night!

Yup, 'tis true! There's a possibility that the upper half of the USA *might* get to see some Northern Lights tomorrow night! *insert squeal of delight at such an idea* I doubt I'll get to see anything, since it's supposed to rain all day tomorrow, but perhaps some of you readers will be lucky enough?

You can ready about the whole shebang by clicking HERE!

Photo courtesy of


Well guys, I did it. I bought myself a cow today!

Her name is Flash, and she's a teeny, tiny 2 year old Jersey who just calved on March 12th for the very first time. She'll grow to a normal Jersey size in time, but since she's still a youngster right now she's quite small in stature. I think the seller said about 46 inches tall? Despite her lack of height, she's milking a nice 4 gallons a day, and should go up slightly more as she reaches her peak (which is 8 weeks). She's your typical brown Jersey, but instead of having a black face like Mattie, this little lady has white around her eyes and nose. 

After striking a deal with the seller, I set up a day to have my new girl delivered; she should be here by Tuesday or Wednesday if all goes according to the plan. 

I'm excited to have a cow again, but I also have to admit that I'm dreading the first week. Cows hate change. And not only will she be in a completely new setting, but I also have to halter break her as fast as possible, teach her to lead, and get her used to being milked. I've been warned that she's a kicker, so I'm buying hobbles specifically for the occasion. 

I'll be sure to share pictures when she gets here, so don't get too far away! ;)

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Have A Listen: Farming Webinars!

I don't even remember how I found the link, but I have immensely enjoyed the opportunity to listen to some awesome farming webinars that are put out by the University of Vermont. They've been great to listen to, and I've come away with new knowledge, tips, and ideas. 

I thought I'd share the treasure trove of info with y'all, so here you go! The website can be found by clicking HERE! They're always doing new webinars too, so if you don't see anything that immediately catches your eye, stick around and see if something new comes up. :)

Photo courtesy of

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Finally. It's Happening.

Five years ago, while flipping through the classifieds in the back of a Small Farmer's Journal that someone gave us, I saw a little ad about an organization called the English Shepherd Club. There was a sketched image of a collie dog next to the quaint looking letters, and beneath the title and picture were the words that claimed this dog was for herding, hunting, guarding, and companionship. Intrigued, I researched more about this breed that seemed to be able to do whatever you threw at it. And I fell in love with these rare dogs... It wasn't until two years after that day that I made up my mind that I would someday own an English Shepherd of my own. I didn't know when it would happen, but I knew that somehow it would become a reality.

For the next three years I fantasized about my ideal English Shepherd. If you've been around here for awhile then you may already be aware that the "ideal" dog was a sable colored female whom I would name Dulcie; which is Latin for the word "sweet".

At the end of March I went to a farm two hours north of me and looked at a Great Pyrenees puppy named Tank. Oh he was beautiful... And lovely, and gentle, and adorable, and, and, and... I liked that pup. And at first it seemed pretty well laid out: I would be getting Tank since I needed a dog to help with predator control. End of story. Right?

The next week and a half, after meeting Tank, were surprisingly difficult. I don't know what got into my animals, but they seemed to figure out that there were more of them than me, and wanted to remind me that!! The goats kept rushing the gate, the pigs escaped twice, the cow was giving me grief. And my mind wandered during those times to thoughts of, "Too bad Tank couldn't help me keep the stock in line... I so badly need a stock dog!"

I've been saying "I need a stock dog!!" for something like two years now. Farming is hard. Farming by yourself is even harder. I have been bit, kicked, shoved, slammed against walls, bowled over, bruised, bloodied, and sore more times than I care to count. I don't have aggressive animals, and I'm not exactly what you would call a klutz (I have my moments though; believe me), but accidents happen. A sick cow pins me against a metal wall with with 900 lbs. of force; a 1,200 lb. cow kicks me in the stomach and sends me flying four feet; a pig bites my hand thinking it's food; a goat slams the back of her head into my face as I reach behind her to pick up a hoof. And I'm coming to realize that as this farm continues to grow bigger and bigger each year, it's not feasible for me to single-handedly try to run things. I can't do it. I need help.
 I need a working partner.

I know of lots of breeders who have English Shepherd pups for sale right now. Breeders here in Oregon, and breeders all the way in South Carolina. But despite all these available options, I never saw what I wanted. I really wanted a female pup, but I wasn't against having a male. No matter the gender, I wanted it to be a sable/white in color, be flat coated, have a long tail, and come from good working lines. Oh yes, and affordability was also a factor. None of the available litters had what I was looking for. Either the dogs were so rough coated that they looked like walking furballs, or they didn't come from working lines, or they were bob-tailed, or they were *expensive*!! My dream dog seemed to be mostly a figment of my imagination. Something I wanted, but wasn't sure would ever become.

On April 2nd, I went scrolling through my favorite livestock forum, known as Keeping A Family Cow. In the section with animals for sale, a new thread had been posted... A family down in Texas had a litter of English Shepherd puppies that were almost ready to be sold. Out of curiosity, I clicked the link given and checked out the dogs and puppies on the breeder's website. Their dogs were long tailed, flat coated, sable colored, working animals. They were beautiful. I scrolled through the high quality images of the eight available pups and quietly gasped at the sight of two youngsters in particular: One was a sable/white female who was the exact image of my dream dog. The other was a sable/white male; half of his face was white, and half of it was brown. Both were adorable. Absolutely adorable. I couldn't stop myself as I asked the breeder what the price for each pup was. I barely knew what I was doing. Wasn't I supposed to be getting a Great Pyrenees? Why am I even asking about a pup that's halfway across the nation from me??

Turns out that the price for the pups was exactly in my budget. I had a price limit on what I could spend on a dog, whether it was a Great Pyr, or otherwise, and for the first time, I had found a English Shepherd pup that was not only affordable, but had all the other qualifications I was looking for. 

I knew there and then that it was time.

I could only get one dog, so I had to choose between a LGD and a herding dog. I went with the herding dog. I need a trusty farmhand that can help me move animals where I need them moved, and help keep the ornery critters in line. I need a dog that can be an extra set of eyes, ears, and hands for me.

I began talking with the breeder and trying to figure out which pup to go with. My first choice was obviously the little female, but the breeder felt that she might be a little too soft for what I need. I need a dog that has heart and grit; enough to not quail when dealing with cattle and hogs. I was dissapointed that my first dog would not be "Dulcie", but the disappointment soon faded at the exciting job of picking a puppy. I was still eyeing that sable/white male who went by the name of Phantom. But more than wanting a good looking dog, I wanted the RIGHT dog for my situation. And if that meant getting a tri-color pup, then so be it. I had three pups to choose from in the end; a sable/white male named Brutus, a tri-color female named Trinity, and of course the adorable Phantom; all were good candidates to be the ideal farm dog. I stressed about it for days. Which one do I choose!? I weighed the pros and cons of each one and then finally made my decision: I chose Phantom; the little sable/white male with the half white-half brown face. And I feel extremely happy with my decision. :)

So while I've always had a name in mind for a female dog, I had no idea what to rename my new pup. Nothing. Zilch. Nadda. I liked one-syllable names, and I wanted it to be a good "farm dog" name... But still something special that had meaning behind it. It took me almost a whole week to think of something.

When I was little, my favorite story books were those written by James Herriot. My two favorites were 'Bonnie's Big Day', and 'Only One Woof'. Actually, I will sheepishly admit that you could probably give me a children's story book by Herriot today, and I'll still love reading it now as much as I did then. ;) I haven't read those books in years... I was probably nine or ten last time I flipped through those pages. The book 'Only One Woof' is a fun one; the story of two border collie pups named Gyp and Sweep (yes, I still remember that... LOL), and Gyp was a quiet, quiet pup who only barked once in his life. I remember reading through that book and wanting a farm collie like that someday. I'd trace my hands over the illustrations of highland sheep and stone walls, and I'd dream about someday having a farm where there were sheep and a good dog named Gyp.

When I found myself choosing a sable/white male puppy last week, and knew that he needed a new name, my mind wandered over several possible names before drifting back to that old book of my childhood. Gyp. If I can't have a Dulcie, then I will have a Gyp.

Yesterday, the breeder sent me a link to a video with Phantom in it, and I totally melted; he's seven weeks old now, and he looks like a darling. I told the breeder I wanted him, and am now making plans to have him shipped up here to Oregon. Right now it's looking like he'll arrive around the beginning of May. My mind is still wrapping around this. After all these years of waiting, I'm finally getting my English Shepherd!!

Since Gyp is something like 1,700 miles away, I'm afraid I don't have any pictures to share with y'all. But if y'all want to see what my new boy looks like, you can go to THIS website and scroll through the pictures and see Phantom (Soon to be "Gyp") at 2 weeks, 4 weeks, and 5 weeks of age.

I've got my sheep. I've got my farm. I'm getting my collie dog. His name will be Gyp. Thank you James Herriot for starting this all...

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

What Would You Change?

If you could change one thing about this blog, what would it be? Do you wish there was something here that isn't? Or wish something that is here, wasn't? Wish the background was different? Bigger font? Less stuff on the sidebar? Less muse and more practical tutorials (or vice versa)? 

I ask out of sincere curiosity, as I honestly do care about what you readers think. And I'm open to making changes if y'all think something should be changed. 

What catches your eye when you visit a blog? What makes you decide to stick around and scroll through posts? High quality pictures? Humor? Professional writing? Again, I'm curious about this. I know when I go "blog hopping", the first thing I notice is the background. I like either really light colors, or better yet, pure white. I like large, high quality images, and I like the writer to have a good, personal voice; as though we were sitting in a room together with a cup of tea (or coffee; take your pick). 

I've gone back and forth about changing my blog background to white... Yes, I love that clean, tidy, professional look that it has, but I also love my current background! 

So what think ye'? be brutally honest here (okay, actually, let's keep a polite tone; even farm girls can have their feelings hurt...). Want something changed? Want something added, or taken away? Have a tip?

I want to hear it. :) Honestly.

Monday, April 8, 2013


Someday it will be reality. Getting to take a good working dog of my own out to both the fields, and to trials.
I can't wait. :)

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Psst! Look What's Out!

I admit to a little squeal of glee when the spring 2013 issue of the OSU Small Farms newsletter showed up in my email inbox not fifteen minutes ago. :) I'm always happy to see these newsletters come in, but this one had something of particular interest to me. I was looking for something. And I didn't have to look far. ^_^

Check out that byline on page #2!! Any guesses as to who that writer is!?

Changes in the Goat Herd

I don't always like it when things change. I get comfortable with how things are, and the last thing I want is for someone, or something, to rock my little boat and upset things. But change is inevitable. It's simply our job to roll with the punches and adapt. My ability to do that largely depends on each situation. Some changes are easier to handle than others.

And then being the hater-of-change that I am, it's fairly eyebrow raising to others when *I* decide to make some big change in life. And friends, as of three weeks ago, I decided that I needed a big change. And that is that I'm switching breeds with my goats. 

This little bit of news has been a bit of a bombshell for some folks, for others not so much... But I needed a change with the goats. So I'm selling off all my Nubians except three of them (Summer, Lyric, and my buck Tamarack), and the rest of those flop-eared girls are being replaced by - believe it or not - Saanens. Yeah, I know; talk about a change. I don't want to completely lose my line of Nubians, so I'll keep my three best ones around and keep a small herd of them going. But after almost six years of raising this proud breed, I'm worn out... And ready for a calmer, gentler breed. When I first came to the realization that I needed/wanted to switch breeds, I wanted the exact opposite of the Nubians. And Saanens seemed to be just that. Big, white, quiet, gentle goats.

This whole idea came about when I guiltily had to admit to a friend that cows had replaced the goats as my favorite animal. If I had to choose between a cow or a goat, I would honestly choose a cow. We have Mattie to thank for that. After telling my friend this shocking news, I later found myself trying to do some soul searching, and trying to figure out WHY I was suddenly finding myself liking cows more than goats. I've had goats for almost six years. The bovines hadn't even been here for one year. My thoughts were doing confusing circles that largely got me nowhere, but in the end I kept on coming back to one thing: Calmness. If there was one thing I loved about Mattie, it was her placid nature, and the trust I felt with that big cow since she was so calm. When all the other animals around me were noisy and chaotic, such as the squealing pigs, cackling chickens, screaming goats (gotta' love Nubians... Loudest breed of all), and baaing sheep, there was Mattie... Quiet. Calm. She became an anchor for me. When the goats were rushing the gate trying to all get out at the same time, there was the cow with a look on her face that said, "I'll wait for you." When the pigs escaped for the millionth time, Mattie was always solidly where she was supposed to be. 

Three weeks ago was the deciding factor in that something needed to change with the goats. I was trying to get ONE goat out, but instead the whole herd rushed the gate and I ended up with 6 goats running amok in the barn. The ones that I had managed to keep in the pen were wailing about the unfairness of the situation, since they didn't get freedom and everyone else did. The ones that were loose were cunningly avoiding my grasp. Not even grain would bring them to me. I finally got everyone where they belonged, and it was right then that I realized I didn't want to do this anymore. Everything in me was screaming, "Enough!" and all I could think about was Mattie and her look of, "I'll wait for you." I need calm animals in my life right now. Sure, a bit of spice in life is good, but that's the key: You only want a little bit of spice, or else you'll ruin things with too much.

So as I did my heavy thinking that day, I decided that I wouldn't completely give up the goats. I'm not ready for that. But I needed a change. My affection for these animals has diminished, and I want to bring it back to what it was. I want and need a calmer breed that won't leave me feeling like I just experienced a hurricane, every time I visit the barn. I also want to be back to having a herd of goats that I like. For truth be told, out of all the goats I have right now, I only like Summer (and Lyric; but I like all goat kids, so I don't know if she counts.). All the others are what I call "genetic material". Bad way to put it and think of them, but it's true.I bought them not for their temperaments, but for their pedigrees. I bought them for their genetics and what they could add to my herd. I bought them, thinking of what their daughters would be like. I don't actually "like" those goats. And five years of raising goats like this has taken its toll on me. I'm ready to go back to the beginning. And have a herd of animals that I enjoy for who they are. 

So things are changing around here. Metty is gone, Jupiter will be leaving on the 14th, and Lily and Trigun are posted for sale. It will be a slow process in getting the Saanens, and will most likely take a few months before I have them, since the kids are expensive, and there is a waiting list for them. But I feel good about this decision. Change can be good, and I know I needed this. It will be fun to have a new breed around, and I'm excited for this new turn of events. 

My life is never dull. And that's the truth.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Since 1790

223 years later, and the English Shepherd is still the most amazing dog ever. :)

Photo courtesy of Old Time Farm

Goat Kid


The heifer is bred. I've been stressing about getting her AI'd for WEEKS now. I had no idea what to expect, how she would react, or even really how I was going to restrain her. I was expecting a rodeo and told the tech she had full permission to hate me if things went haywire.

The whole thing took about five minutes. Peaches didn't budge in the least, and simply stood tied to a support beam in the barn (Hurray for successful halter breaking!). The AI tech did it all quickly, expertly, and with a baby on her back. She has my full respect. ;) LOL. The bull chosen is a Jersey who goes by the name of Harvest; his daughters are well known for their high, tight udders and milking ability. 

Having that little job done is a huge load off my mind... Now I can focus on the next task at hand, which is bringing the new milk cow home (who is a little Jersey). Peaches will be leaving sometime between Saturday and next Wednesday.

Personally, I'm looking forward to getting a full night's sleep tonight! Hopefully there will be no more bellowing now that she's bred!! 

A Long Night

It's never enjoyable when Peaches goes into heat. She turns into a little monster, and I never know what she's going to do. I've been watching her closely these past few days; knowing that she's due for her next heat cycle sometime between the 5th and the 9th. Once I see signs, then I call the AI tech and schedule a day to get that job done. 

Turns out that Peaches decided to cycle a little early this time around. I heard her in heat, before I saw her.

For the record, this heifer has the world's worst moo. I think I've said that on here before somewhere, but it bears repeating. It's awful. Her bellowing voice has all the pleasantness of listening to someone grind their teeth in their sleep, but it's ten times louder, and it doesn't stop. If the makers of the movie 'Jurassic Park' needed a new sound for the T-Rex, Peaches' moo would be the perfect choice. 
 So yesterday afternoon, around 4pm, just like clockwork, Peaches hormones began kicking in, and on came the bellowing. One screeching, scratching, hideous bawl after the other. She inhales, and then exhales in a ragged moo that echoes through our little valley and the sound makes your skin crawl. Inhale, moo. Inhale, moo. Last time she did this, she bellowed until 11:30pm; so I started counting the hours until nightfall, when she would hopefully go to sleep. Ha. I must have jinxed it.

6pm came, and she was still bellowing with a hearty will; never stopping. Right when she had taken in a deep breath, she let it out with noise. It. Did. Not. Stop. No break, no rest, just one annoying moo after the other. 10pm came... She was still going. 11:30pm came... Still mooing. 12:45pm came... And I couldn't take it any longer. I rolled out of bed, grabbed my coat and headed out to the barn in my pajamas to see if I couldn't make that darn heifer be QUIET!!! Seeing as dark threats had no effect on her, I topped off her water bucket and threw her some more hay. Ahhh, silence. I crawled back into bed and went to sleep.

Twenty minutes later I was awoken by a loud noise. The heifer was bellowing again. Noooooooooo!! 

There was nothing to do except listen to her, hour, after hour, after hour. 3am came... Still mooing. 5am came... Still making noise. 6:20am came... And, silence?? After fourteen hours of bellowing, Peaches finally went quiet. I flicked my alarm off and decided right there and then that I was going to sleep in today. I had just spent the entire night awake, listening to a bovine who had seemingly gone mad; I wanted to sleep now and enjoy the quiet. That was the plan anyway. 7:30am rolled around and what do I hear? Yep, you guessed it. Apparently cows don't need as much sleep as humans do. She was at it again. I gave up, got dressed and started my day. 

I wasn't exactly cheery when I got up this morning, and what I found in the barn had virtually no effect on lifting the mood. Sometime in the night, Peaches went on a total rampage. The welded wire panel that keeps her separate from the goats was knocked down and bent. I didn't even know you COULD bend that stuff...! The goats were all standing out in the rain, and were dripping wet; Peaches had shoved them outside while she bellowed in the dry barn. Slats on the hay manger were broken, the pallet fence was close to coming apart in some areas, water buckets were overturned, Trigun was limping. And Peaches stood in the middle of it all, bellowing her head off. Breakfast was postponed while I fixed everything. Peaches is now back where she belongs, The AI tech is coming out in a couple of hours, Trigun will be fine in a day or two... 

I love this farming life. I really do. I just don't love the heifer when she's in heat. -_-

What Do You REALLY Want To Do?

I found this Youtube on someone else's blog this morning, and watching it almost brought me to tears. I needed those words this week... I needed this reminder.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

A June Morning

A June morning... The world is silent, save for the footsteps of me and the English Shepherd dog beside me, as we go to gather the cows for morning milking. The dew is heavy on the lush green grass that comes up to my knee in height. A light mist is peeling off the landscape, exposing the mountainous range that surrounds my every turn. The cows are lying down in their paddock; chewing cud in contentment, unwilling to rise just yet from their methodical chewing. Randall Linebacks these milk cows are; and every bit as rare as they are beautiful with their gray roaned sides and black points. Waiting for the cows to consider getting up and starting their day, I scan the property line. The chickens are three paddocks behind the cows, and I can hear them clucking and beginning their busy morning. Rare breeds they are too; a colorful mix of shapes and sizes as one looks in and finds Pumpkin Hulseys, Icelandics, Ko Shamos, and even a few Ayam Cemanis. 

The dog beside me whimpers in anticipation and leans against my leg; both desiring to work, and also to please me and do what's wanted. With one word of "hush" the dog calms down but continues to shift its gaze from the cows to me. Watching... Watching.

Behind the two of us in a far paddock are the hogs. Still more rare breeds, the hogs are mostly red Tamworths; fine bacon pigs are they. But there are also a few other pigs with them... Some Herefords, and the occasional Large Black. They will slumber through the June morning until I wake them with breakfast; fresh, warm milk straight from the cows. The pigs always wake up with a start. Jerking forward with startled, guttural "Harff! Harff!", they turn circles looking to see who and what has disturbed them. But for now, in this quiet morning, they still sleep... 

The flock of turkeys begin stirring in the pale morning light; not fully waking until the sun is juuuuuust a little higher. Some of these birds are permanent residents as breeding stock; others will be the main dish come November 28th. Following the pattern that seems to abound on this farm, these turkeys are also breeds that are not commonly known about. With names of Fall Fire, Sweetgrass, and Tiger Bronze, they are stunning birds that can't be found through an ordinary hatchery. 

The handful of Miniature Hereford beef cows,the small flock of Texel sheep, and the dairy goats are the only animals here that have no claim to being rare. The mini Herefords were chosen since that's a breed that a single girl and her dog can handle by themselves. The Texel sheep were picked for their amazing meat qualities, and lovely fiber. The dairy goats always have been here. And always will be. :) A gentle mix of Nubian and Saanen goats, their appearance as a herd is pleasing to the eye.

I scan the property line that quiet June morning, and take all this in, in a span of about three minutes. The milk cows lumber up onto their feet now, preparing to make the walk to the dairy parlor. My dog watches in silence; its tail beginning to wag in anticipation at the beginning of a work day. I open the fenceline and let the cows out. They know where to go. The dog follows behind; ever sure that its presence is what is guiding the cows to the barn. Together we all walk through the tall wet grasses of that quiet June morning. Not a sound save for our footsteps. And right then, I realize just how beautiful life is...


Above is a blurb about an envisioned morning of my future farm. My farm that is slowly growing here at GSF. Such a morning may not come to pass for some time yet. Maybe one year, maybe three years; maybe five. Who can say? But it is a dream I'm working towards. It may change slightly as times passes; different breeds may find their way here, but the undertone will most likely stay the same, And that day will come soon enough. A girl and her dog, starting the day with the milk cows...

Monday, April 1, 2013

Draft Turkeys. The New Fad.

Okay, so the title is a little tongue-in-cheek. But I was laughing SO hard when I saw this image below!!

Granted, these turkeys probably never actually pulled the cart; it's most likely just a photo prop, which was highly fashionable back in the old days. But seriously. Turkeys?? Hooked to a cart??? Tickled my funny bone, it did. :)

I'm also pleased to report that you can get reindeer harnesses for the bargain price of $170 via THIS website. How nice to know that... I won't have to stress about where to get my driving equipment, come the day that I buy myself a cart reindeer. ;) 

And to top it off, I have just learned that I've been training my draft goat all wrong by using incorrect terms. For most folks, the normal driving terms are:
Get up = Walk
Whoa = Stop
Haw = Turn left
Gee = Turn right

It seems that the "more refined" terms to use for a draft animal are:
Anchors away! = Walk
Drop anchor! = Stop
Port! = Turn left
Starboard! = Turn Right
And when you have to make a sharp turn into the wind you shout: "Helms-a-lee!"

My sense of humor absolutely will not allow me to NOT try the terms out. ;) So now I have to get a new goat to train, so that when we go trotting down the road together, the neighbors can listen to me calling out nautical terms. 

Life is short. Have fun while you can. :) And if that means belting out pirate terms whilst driving a goat on a country road, or casually steering a decked out reindeer through town, then so be it. 

Here's to the crazy ones. :)