Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Thanks for your nudge Tonia, helped give me enough inspiration to post a catch up!

Well, I worked a big stretch at the farm after my day off. I felt like I was coming down with something on my day off. So, as much as I needed to get on with my two outdoor projects, I thought laying on cold ground digging out rotted posts or breathing chainsaw gas were not good options!

So I cleaned up the house a bit and went back into another stretch at the farm right through a downpour on Saturday. I am working Saturdays now and taking a day during the week, so I took Sunday and Monday off.

I was supposed to help get my oldest's car unstuck out of the swamp at the bottom of his Dad's driveway on Sunday afternoon, but I had three truckloads of gravel dumped in my driveway and spent the afternoon raking that out! I still have a pile at the top to wheelbarrow around before I can back around with my next hay load.

Monday I went to Home Depot and bought 10 more 60# sacks of concrete for the post job, and spent the afternoon digging out another post and putting five sacks of mixed crete in. I had to let it set up to put the form up around the post to finish it off, which I was going to do yesterday.

After work I swung by to see if the car was unstuck, and it was still in the swamp, so I talked to my oldest and we went down to check it out. Step by step, putting air in the flat, jacking up the front and backfilling the hole with rock, making a bridge out of a piece of plywood and old tire to get at an old stump the rear end was hung up on, then rigging the jack to jack it up to get the stump out, then building a bridge out of his Dad's firewood to bridge the swamp, two tries and a re-fill of rock, and he drove it out.

Well, by then I was cold and wet and hungry and it was too late to do concrete or firewood back home, but I did a happy dance for him we got the car out without his Dad!

(If you remember the post I did way back about getting stuck in the mud here I had some experience with situations like that!LOL)

Well, today I had to do laundry after work-grr- I hadn't done it since the incident with the older gentleman taking a crash, and I still don't know how he made out...?

I was a bit apprehensive wondering what crisis would strike today, and sure enough after I left the store with my laundry soap, I saw a boar goat stuffing herself along the highway-and I mean highway, with cars and tractor-trailers going well over 60 mph.

I had heard a tale of escaped Boers that ate their way through China (China, Maine, LOL) over the summer after they escaped, so I wondered if this was one, and turned around and parked and she went away from the road and I followed her to a goat pen where another boer, looked like a wether with horns, was quite upset she was out!!! LOL darn goats!

Well, I know better now than to chase a goat, so I offered her some torn up grass which she sniffed and rejected, and then found a nice strawberry leaf which she took with neck outstretched but ducked when I snuck to get her collar...Ugh one good thing about goats with horns!!! handholds! Well, I went up to the house and knocked to no avail, dogs barking, chickens flapping, more goats and horses out back. The goats looked a little worse for the wear no wonder she was stuffing herself!

I left her under an apple tree stuffin on apples hoping she didn't go back to the road and get run over. I couldn't catch her without grain so hopefully she was ok..

Made it home with the laundry just before the kids came home and hayed my own goats and cleaned their goat houses and have to cook dinner and a million other things, but hopefully I can finish the cementing the post I started Monday- after work tomorrow- and maybe chainsaw up some more goat wood!!!

So that's what I have been up to!! LOL

Oh I took a couple pics of the post job in progress a couple weeks ago, one is the original post like those I am digging around down three feet and collaring up over the bad part (hence 10 bags of concrete) and the other is a back up post made out of part of an old utility pole. The crete goes three feet deep and only a couple inches of the new post are in the top of the concrete to help anchor it.

It is much easier digging a plain hole than digging around the original posts!

You can see how much rotted off the original 8-10 inch diameter cedar post, but what is remaining is solid and now encased in an 18 collar of concrete 4-5 feet high, should last awhile!

This concrete is smaller in diameter but the post is about a foot diameter and the concrete is about 3 inches wider on each side, so still 16" diameter and 3 feet deep for a footer!

Monday, October 19, 2009


afternoon chores 3

Yes, the best laid special helper was a no show yesterday am, good thing I was up at the crack of dawn and had Willow with me. I had one weekend boy, and the word was out Boss was cutting their hours so he wanted to leave...I made him stay and then he made me call R in at 9:30. TG I got ahold of R to help with the bucks since it takes two-one to walk and one to clean and Willow might want to but I was not going to ask her to do one or the other.

When we got back to the farm there was shooting again and no sign of the LGD Luke...we searched to no avail and went home for a break.

I could have used a nap by then, but my oldest was paying a surprise visit so that was cool and I speed cleaned the downstairs since that was quite a disaster!

We went back to the farm early and still no sign of the dog, searched the roads on the way to the bucks, tried to call P but went to voicemail...I was spreading fresh bedding in the barn since we were due for rain, and there was the dog sleeping in the small stall! We checked there in the am and called in the afternoon so who knows where he had been?! But at least he was there!

The rest of the chores were fairly routine-I was glad to see the goats come into the barn from the rain! They started coming in as I was putting in clean bedding and it was so cute they were trying to lie on the bags of shavings!

IN the front stall I dumped a big pile and was going to kick it under the benches and decided to leave it for the goats to spread, and in a little while one of the older wethers, poptart Jackson, had made a bed on the top of the pile! I didn't have the heart to kick him off and spread it! I wanted to get a pic it was so sweet with a bunch of goats around him.

The next trouble was the other LGD, Baloo, sprawled out on the floor of the tack room and wouldn't get up! If I left him there I would have to lock him in since the grain is there and they push the door open for the I spent at least 15 minutes wondering what to do and tried to bait him by feeding the cat and with a puppy treat. Finally I locked him in and then went about 1/2 mile and turned around and went back and kicked him out!

He looked so upset about the rain, now mixing with snow and the goats in the barn, but it was a long time to leave him locked in.

I was pretty peeved at P for hiding out in her house through chasing the dog and R for sticking me on Sunday so I put extra bedding down for the goats in the barn knowing it would aggravate P but good for the goats! P hates having the goats even in the barn and hardly puts down any bedding for them. You'd think she was buying the stuff...

I told R about it this am and he said she was like, WTF?!?! When she saw it. HA. Boss already told me I could put down as much as I wanted, and since I was stuck sweeping poo out of the field all weekend-the goats wouldn't come in the barn which I have a feeling P has been chasing them out. She said this am she chased them out before I got there...Aggravates me that people that don't like animals work with them.

Well, barring anything unusual, I am taking tomorrow off!! I have a pile of stuff around here or I might just rest!

I had a busy am at the farm even though it was a short one. I walked the bucks and when we brought them back we were missing a couple. I knew where they were, so I had to go allllll the way back down to bring them in. Normally I wouldn't mind, but I have had a very active weekend and my feet and legs are getting a little tired! I wish we had the horses in with the bucks 'cos I would have hopped on one bareback to save me the walk!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Afternoon Chores 2

Well said, Tonia, things did not go as planned tonight at all.

One of the LGD's is fairly new, and has a habit of taking off. He finds ways out. I was warned to keep the wooden gate chained since he has most recently been using that as an escape. So, amongst all the other chores, we feed and walked the dogs and brought them back in.

But gun shooting had started up on the hill across the road. I had also been warned that both the dogs suffer anxiety when there is shooting and that is when Luke is most liable to take off. No worries, I had the gate secured.

I was raking up the pasture just outside the paddock gate, trying to get that finished before the geese went in, and Willow called from the barn, "Luke is trying to get out the wooden gate,"

Intent on the job at hand, I said, "tell him no!"

I should have dropped the rake and gone immediately, for next thing I know, I hear Willow calling the dog so I ran to see her flying out the gate. I followed. It was like a bad comedy show, or maybe a good one, since I am biased being one of the participants.

There goes the blur of white giant dog down the road, Willow in hot pursuit, and me trailing the long behind. The dog gained on Willow, Willow gained on me (she recently placed second at school in the half mile run and it showed tonight!)

Lucky for her young strong legs, she saw which way the dog went at the intersection, and I hollered for her to come back so we could get the car since I knew there was no way to catch him on foot.

All the way back to the car, the geese honking in astonishment as I left them in the gathering gloom to persue the dog.

Down the road, around the corner and no sight of him down the road, so we drove along and we saw him in someone's front yard. I backed up and pulled in and was much relieved I was able to catch him without a merry dog chase.

Into the car he went and I held my tongue not to scold him since we had managed to catch him afterall.

I made sure I snugged that chain up TIGHT when we got back, and rushed on to the geese.

The two younger ganders are supposed to go in first and get locked in the back of the goose house, but the old one tonight was determined to go in first. Around the goose house they went three times with Willow and I trying to separate them with push brooms.

Finally one younger guy darted in, followed hot on the heels by the old guy, whom I blocked with the broom. No go, the thing was determined, so I pinned him with the broom and let the other one pass in. Then I had to go in to latch the door, and a couple of the geese followed me in and saw that broom and ran back out and around two more times before they went in...all but the youngest, who kept going around in a panic not knowing where the rest of the flock had gone...duh.

Phew, geese done, time to bring in the horses, Yeah, right, they were at the way top of the field and not budging, so we gathered halters and leadlines and hiked up the mountain to get them.

Haltering was a cinch, but the filly was full of it again and I couldn't manage both, so Willow took Maya, her first time leading a horse, down off that steep pasture in the near dark.

Then Maya drank all the water in the tub by the barn on her way by, so when we finally had them down back I had to refill the tub by the barn and lug another few gallons down to them to make sure they had enough...

It was dark by the time we finally finished.

One more night and I think that's of course first thing in the am again. That was another nightmare today with the weekend boys scaring the barn goats so half of them wouldn't come in....sigh.

Well, I have my regular helper coming in special tomorrow per my request, good thing since one of the other boys told me today he wanted tomorrow off...

And...we are due for rain, possibly mixed with snow tomorrow late. Oh boy.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Afternoon Chores

I agreed to do afternoon chores at the farm this weekend, a first for me.

There wasn't much involving goats-the most was hay and water to the bucklings on the hill, and Willow and I spent some time just saying, "hi" to our favorites.

First it was turning out the fat mare, and feeding the vocal Guinea hog, Laverne.

Then feeding and walking the Great Pyranees, and feeding the cats.

The last animals to deal with were the goose flock, which was causing me the most anxiety, but went fairly well. The sky was turning crimson and they were ready for their grain and Willow helped steer them in with the push broom.

Then the horses in for the night-the Filly, Estrella, was FULL of it. I opted to halter and lead Maya and let the filly follow, which she did, charging and retreating until the end. She made it all the way back down to the barn for a drink and charged back into the now-darkening field.

I took Maya's lead and made a makeshift halter around the filly and took her down back, prancing, ears laid back. That trick comes in handy when messing with a halter might be a challenge. Toss the lead behind the ears and loop around the nose. Hold both ends firmly under the chin for control and let go one end to release..

Hope the chores go that easy tomorrow....:)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Willow and the bucks

I worked the farm today, mostly taking care of the bucks with Willow's help.

Here she is with Virginia cashmere buck Champion Chris:

and with Hjalmar:

and a nice view of the munching bucks with my daughter and the fall foliage:

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Bucks Sweep

I found out today that BLF bucks swept the buck divisions in Virginia. It's a big show and it is considered International because they also have Canadian entries.

BLF bucks took first and second in every buck class, and in one class they took third and fourth as well.

The best part was two of the first place fleeces were combed nearly exclusively by my daughter Willow. Homer and Chris. Willow kept going on about how great Homer's fiber was and I didn't agree, but she also combed him diligently nearly every day we combed, so she got a tremendous amount off of him.

Plus I kept on her about her technique, and I was worried about how her combings came out, so those two first place finishes shows me that she did a great job! Of course the fiber is judged on length, style, and fineness (measured in microns), but also they look for things like matting and contaminants in the fleece.

So, if while combing you let the fleece build up on the rake or slicker, it can damage it by over packing it. Sometimes with the rake we pull the fiber off the rake and hold it in our free hand until we get a handful and then put it in the bag, so if you clench the fiber in a sweaty hand, that will mat it.

I couldn't wait to tell her, I thought that was really great!!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Happy Birthday Phoenix

Today was another beautfiul fall day just like the day Phoenix was born.

I went into labor late morning, and we went grocery shopping. I didn't want to call the Dr. too soon, since I spent too long in the hospital with my first son, and they don't let you eat while you are there.

So we had lunch, went for a walk on the beach, and I went for a walk along the road. Finally when the contraction got about four minutes apart I called the Dr and lied and said they were five or six minutes apart. He said to wait a while, so I pigged out at dinner and had two hamburgers with cottage cheese about 6 pm.

Then we started watching Liar Liar with Jim Carrey. I was laughing really hard and my water broke. I figured it was time to get motivating, so I took a shower and packed my bag.

On the way to the hospital, a half hour drive, I thought maybe I had waited too long and said the same. Hahaha. Well, we went to the ER to sign in, and then hustled me up to maternity where I had to read every line of the consent form and then had a fit about one of the lines that said I gave the hospital all the fluids, etc, and circled that part and told them I wanted the placenta to take home for burial.

that nurse was having a fit!!! So was the doc! He couldn't examine me until I signed, so they agreed and I signed and an hour later Phoenix was born. Yeah, I cut it close.

I didn't copy any of his newborn pics cos he was a ten pound baby and a natural childbirth. His eyes were swollen shut in his birth pix!!!

So here a couple of newborn pix-he is well under three months.

Here he is with his father.

And with me.

Here is a great pic four years later at the same hospital with his day old sister and myself.

Phoenix was always a big boy; today at twelve years old he is as tall as I am, 5'8", and has bigger feet.

He is polite and well mannered, smart, a great big and little brother, and everyone loves him. He is the big jokester and has been making up his own jokes since he could talk. He is a terrific mimic and loves to repeat lines from shows and movies with great recall.

Today we watched Wolverine X Men Origins-great movie-and he was mimicking one of the characters who is made up to look like 600 pounds in the movie. Here is this stick skinny kid enacting the line and you didn't even need the special makeup effects to see the scene. Phoenix is a riot.

Happy twelfth birthday, sweetheart!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Rainy Saturday

Ok, I won't complain about the rain. The well is getting desperately low, even though we are very conservative with water. All that rain in June and July I thought we would be fine this year...and then heat and drought in August. After all that cold and rain I didn't complain about the heat and drought though!

We did get a bank and dump run in this am. I discovered it was a skunk getting into the trash. I saw it on the deck this week. And it has a penchant for yogurt and the plastic spoons used to eat it-every yogurt container and plastic spoon was strewn out of the ripped open bags. What a mess!

I didn't make my goal of two more post holes this week. I picked up 8 - 60 pound sacks of concrete and put four in one hole on Thursday, and left it for the post and collar and opted to dig around one of the bad posts to use the rest of the cement I had.

Even though I have braced that beam with two whomping posts and a massive foundation of concrete, I was very nervous when I started digging around the bad post. I expected that the rot would be limited to ground level-no, it chased the post down into the ground.

Originally a 10" diameter cedar post, at least an inch all around was gone. The posts have been in 11 years nearly to the day. It was easy to see why that row had deteriorated so much faster-it was backfilled in clay. I swear we had backfilled in sand, but not that post. Plus, the water from that side of the house drains there, and the ground was not graded so there was a trough where the posts go in the ground.

Clay and wet=rot. And tough digging!!!

The other holes have taken me 1 to 1-1/2hours to dig out. This one took 3 hours. I start with a spade and then move on to a garden fork, stabbing it ferociously around the post to loosen the clay. Once it gets more than a foot deep, I start bailing with a coffee can. By the end I am flat on the ground reaching in as far as I can and scooping up handfuls into the can and then backing out of the hole and dumping it. I felt like I was in the Great Escape digging a tunnel.

I thought, what woman in her right mind undertakes a task like this? I should be prettying myself up and seducing some strong guy into the job, or at least offering to cook dinners in exchange for the labor. As far as hiring someone-I don't have the cash flow to part with it.

So I scrabble clay under my broken fingernails, finish the hole, and start mixing concrete in the wheelbarrow. Another four bags and a bunch of rocks. I get concrete dust in my hair and my arms -no-everything- starts to ache with the effort.

I barely crawl away after cleaning the tools and discover I am at least three bags short to finish that hole-and another two for the hole I started on Thursday. I do a quick estimate and figure I need to mix 17 more bags just to finish the North beam, and dig around two more posts.

The center beam needs two more holes and four more posts dug out. The south beam will have to wait until next year. Those posts seem to be in better shape anyhow.

I can't believe those three posts-toothpicks really-were holding up the north beam!

I took a couple photos of the process, but haven't downloaded them yet. I do, however, have a few more foliage shots of my drive to the farm every morning. I love the fiery early maple color!!!

Friday, October 2, 2009


Well I am tired!

Here is a pic of some of the bucklings on the hill this week. There are 13 but not that many in the pic!

I have been going up ahead by myself to grain them and they keep a close eye on me- for when I try to sneak off to put the feeders down.

Only a few of them have names or nicknames from when my daughter, Willow, was helping out. The rest are known by their lineage, generally through the mother. The black in the front is Mary's Boy, who after an intense bout of nursing through a bad patch after weaning was named by P as "Joseph".

I can't tell which grey is in the front in the pic, we have "Alpaca head" (Nive's grey), "Tack Room baby" (Lilymore's grey) "Chubs" (Lois's grey) and lastly, "Sugreca's", who has no nickname yet.

Bonnie's boy, fluffy grey coat, blue eyes and white points, has been named, "Beau", by P.

My favorite is "Badger Boy" the black and white next to the building, out of Ursula.

The two browns, the far one, is Carmella's, the youngest of the bunch, not born until June. The one in the middle of the group is "Uureka's Boy" (I aggravate Boss when I call his Mom "Eureka" like the vaccuum-it is pronounced with the Scandinavian "UU". Well, maybe not Scandinavian, but we used to have a slew of "hj's..." pronounced "Yuh". Back to the buckling, I call him "Monarch Baby", after his sire, not after the dam so I don't have to sweat the "UU". :)

Besides, his father has always been the handsomest buck to me. I remember when I first met him, I thought he was so handsome, but he does not like to be touched. I have been working on him for four years now, soft and slow. We get along pretty well. I don't pet him and he doesn't horn me.

Boss is away right now, and I have taken the job of walking the bucks. Yesterday they hit the third field and the snowmobile trail and kept going and going and going. I couldn't cut them off and had no idea where we would end up. I have heard stories of them ending up the next town over once....and I thought it was to be repeated yesterday.

Desperate, I pulled my Pb&j out of my bag and started waving it. No stopping them. I did have a couple of apples in there, I should have tossed one into the group but didn't think of it.

Finally they stopped and I stopped so not to spook them and rolled a smoke. Then I discovered I didn't have a light and that did it-I snuck by them and chased them back up the trail.

When we finally reached the third field, R was there and I was surprised he had followed us that far, since he had never been back that far. Most of the bucks followed him, but poor old Monarch couldn't keep up so I stayed with him. I had heard coyotes yipping on the way in-and Monarch has a pathetic little cry when he gets left behind so I didn't want to leave him for coyote fodder.

Crossing the first field just the two of us, I imagined him as a little buckling racing and leaping along, now a senior hobbling along way behind. It nearly brought tears to my eyes. I reached into my bag and hauled out one of the wild apples and gave it to him.

Then I discovered he can't walk and eat an apple. So I took a couple of pics.

BLF Rayvon's Monarch