Monday, September 28, 2009

catch up

Racing the weather trying to get stuff before winter. My two major projects right now are concrete and firewood. Last year I cut support posts for the house and drove them under the beams perched on flat rocks-thank goodness I didn't nail them since the rocks settled and the posts were just wobblying there.

So I have pulled out two of my posts so far, and dug a hole about 3 feet deep, centered under where the post would hang. Then I back filled with rumbly rocks and 3 bags of 60 pound concrete. No metal, I may regret that. Then I let that set up a couple days with rocks sticking up, supported the posts, spiked them to the beam, and then made a form out of half an old hot water heater jacket I coated with the bottoms of several old jars of Jif peanut butter so the form wouldn't stick.

Then I mixed two more bags of concrete per post and filled the form in up a couple inches over the bottom of the post.

I think most people would have leveled the concrete and then put the post on that, but I am not competent enough to jack the house up, and I didn't want to drive the post in place on fresh concrete in case I might crack it.

I just have 6 more holes to do and then put concrete collars around the bad posts...which may not get finished by the time the ground freezes, so I will just do as much as I can.

The proper way would be to replace the rotted posts, but I am going to run a concrete collar below and above the bad part at ground level and spike the post so it grabs the concrete. (the posts go four feet into the ground)

Tonia, if your hubby has a better idea, tell me now! LOL.

Firewood is the same old...trying to clean up the stuff in the goat pasture. Racing the snow on that chore...Have about a cord done so far.

I've had visitors a few days this week which has slowed me down, plus working at the farm everyday-I did get a lot done on Saturday but it was regular stuff like yard clean up.

Now if I could get the laundry done and three loads of trash to the dump before the raccoon gets into it AGAIN-I'll be able to get back to firewood and concrete.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Lord of the Bucks

Tree archives408

I had a breakthrough today with one of the farm bucks, Zeus. Nearly four years ago I joined in with K and R and chased Zeus in order to collar him for grain. We could only catch him with a bucket of grain and K said enough was enough and the chase was on.

K ended up snagging one of his horns and catching him. Zeus never forgave me, and I have used that story as an example to the young help as to why you never chase a goat. Then you are looked at as a predator.

I have been diligently working on winning Zeus over. I believe in using kind words and soft cheek scratches and have won fans out of most of the farm herd that way. Most everyone else uses grain or treats. In fact the filly has become a nipper because of treats, but that is another blog.

Still I could not win Zeus over. It had to be a bucket of grain at his place and then collaring him was simple. I guess you could say I gave up.

The bucks have been roaming far on their walks with the boss. Yesterday while going to bring them in, I had to go way down past the garden in the far field, and then down the woods road. While on the woods road, I found an apple tree that had tiny apples, so I filled a pocket with apples.

The last two days I have been solo collaring the bucks, and I have decided since they are so rowdy, I would only let a couple in at first, and then one at a time as I collared and chained them. The rest of the bucks have to wait in the parking area. Since there are three bucks including Zuess that can't be caught until the grain appears, I have been making them wait until last.

But, I have discovered Zeus' weak spot. Apples. He watched yesterday as I offered apples while I was letting bucks in, and he pushed to the front and stared at me with his big blue eyes.

"Oh, do you want an apple?"

So I gave him one and collared him and let him in.

Today was the same routine, but he backed off after the first apple. I ignored him and went on letting in the other bucks and giving ones apples that like them. Zeus could not bear it. Again he came to the gate and I gave him an apple and slipped a collar around his neck and led him in. Then I gave him a third tiny apple. (today I had two pockets full since I ran short yesterday)

After graining everyone, and pulling three out separate for hooves and picking up their grain dishes, I started releasing the rest. Zeus was my new best friend. He followed me all around as I untied each buck, and I kept showing him my empty hands to see that I had no apples, and then I would pet him and we would repeat with the next buck.

I called Y's attention. I was still in the pen with Zeus following me like a puppy and letting me scratch his cheeks while he stared up at me.

"I can't believe it!" Y exclaimed.

Sometimes it takes the right apple to win them over. ;)

Friday, September 18, 2009



Been a busy week. Busy busy, my mantra lately. The kids' school had open house this week. The teachers are thrilled to have them back, and Willow's teacher started off with a string of compliments that left me teary-eyed and only able to reply, "I am blessed."

The Firebird's primary objective was to have me go to a meeting with the computer tech to enable him to bring his new mac top home. Finally tonight, permissions signed, meeting attended, and insurance activated, the laptop arrived hoome in his backback,and he and his sister spent hours making videos of silly stuff, using a twist feature.

One of the vids he was playing a bulbous-headed, tiny-chinned alien from some star system. Another one, featured both of them, with Willow howling ,"I am getting squished," whereupon she morphed into Phoenix's face next to her and they finally disappeared into a blur with much hysterical laughter.

File sharing between comps isn't allowed nor emails and you tube and all the good stuff, so I have to figure out how to cop the vids to post a few. They are really funny.

Another cool feature (macs are so good for art stuff) is the garage band, where he selects different instruments and clicks and drags measures full to create his own song.

Speaking of which, his band teacher is raving about how great he is on trumpet ( I keep saying, did you tell him you didn't play all summer or much last year?) Ah, the gifted have it easy. I should make him practice an hour a day and see how good he gets then. His big brother was the same on trombone-natural. The Willow is sulking since she was told by the music teacher she has to wait another year to join band.

She LOVES her art teacher and is producing drawings at a phenomenal rate. Not that she didn't already-it's just tripled. I'm going to need to rent a box trailer to keep it all in.

me-boring slave labor stuff-worked on cementing posts to re-do a gate. Still, I had a late teens boy(man I should say) for help, a different one for each of the last two days, and I find them easy helpers. I had a couple tips for them, such as spiking the posts with 20D nails to help grab the cement, and wetting stones to layer in as filler and for strength and to make the cement go further.

Two of us mixing the cement in a tippy wheelbarrow-and we managed not to dump it. I didn't mind my deoderant quitting, since I could tell my helper today must have forgotten his completely...LOL

I stayed to put in another post, sans cement, and barraged R with instructions for the bucks as he was leaving. R has had the summer off, and the buck population has increased in meantime.

"If you can't catch Cairn, leave him outside the gate til the end, or he will beat on the Lars"

P, who rarely does the bucks, said, "or just tie Lars outside the gate."

I replied with, "well, he'll beat on everybody else then."

And, "Jacolby gets tied with a collar from the hoof bucket."

"All the big guys get 1/4 measure of grain, 1/2 for Lars and Monarch and Jacolby, and here's the little guys' grain who get fed separate." (well, he knew that from the spring anyhow)

and, "don't let them all in at once."

Let me tell you, letting 19 big bucks with horns in rut into a small enclosure to collar and tie them is courting injury. Most of them are trying to mate with the others, who are fighting back, and while they might not come after you, if you get in the middle, you are going to get hurt. Nevermind you have to put your face down low to snap the chain on the hooks near the ground. One of the guys caught a horn in the throat earlier in the week.

The bucks have two large pastures with electric fence, and a smaller enclosure with woven wire and their houses. They still get out for a walk everyday; just to clarify they have fenced pasture and are not relying on walks for browse. They are just spoiled.

I was happy to stay back on fence work and have the filly slobber all over my unattended mug, knock my thermos off the well, and yank my coat off the fence.


Interesting ride to work this am- right before the farm,a pick up truck off the road head first into a tree with the airbag deployed-no sign of the driver, but a state cop with flashers and a garbage bag (must have been beer can evidence) next to the truck. Then as I got to the farm, I thought one of the horses (the filly-Maya's way too fat to fit the profile) was in the road.

A car was stopped way beyond, and then I saw it was a MOOSE! a giant one, as it turned and walked off the road along the farm fence into the woods. So I grabbed my camera and jumped out of the car, and the other car pulled up and I had a nice chat with the couple. It was a BULL moose with ONE antler-ummmm, I decided I was NOT chasing after it for a pic, sorry readers...ever seen the video of the moose attacking and annihilating a car? well, I wasn't going to walk up and say, "SMILE". he-he.

Probably the truck hit the tree avoiding the moose and it was the missing antler in the bag.

After work this afternoon, Peko had his...shuuuushhh, lean close, *whispers* -vet appointment- for his vaccinations. He was a big scaredy cat going in, but didn't flinch at the shots and even whined at the cutest black lab /hound puppy in the waiting room. Peko weighed 74 pounds. Half that of Gandalf (my old male bullmastiff) in his prime. But at least Peko had gained 10 pounds since we adopted him.

The kids both had separate field trips this week. Willow was VERY excited she got to touch a dog shark, and saw a 45 pound lobster, and a blue lobster, and an even rarer yellow lobster (they looked cooked when they are alive)

Busy busy.

Yup, I am going to try and sleep in tomorrow!

*edit* crap I just remembered I forgot to tell R about the yellow jacket nest!Right where we usually tie two of the bucks. :O OOPs

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bucks full of it

The bucks were full of it today. I went ahead to let them out, and they immediately took off towards the back garden. The owner was going to the Post Office, and met me there after a little while.

I went back and set up the grain, poured the fresh water, readied the collars and chains, raked the houses, and put fresh straw down. Then I went to collect the bucks.

The mature buck herd is up to 19, and that makes them tough to handle, especially with rut coming on. They had split into two groups-one with the owner up by the garden, the other group way in the woods. I was directed to head back with the first group and grain them, and Y would go searching for the rest.

Well, that first group did NOT want to go back! They had been out on their walk quite awhile, so I assume they knew that some of their friends were still off. I brrrr'd and clapped and shooshed and swished a frond of goldenrod to no avail. They kept splitting up and turning back.

Finally I decided to act like a border collie and barked and woofed and madly dashed from one side of the group to the other rounding up scragglers and got them on the woods road. Phew.

I collared and grained that group, and decided I better head back and help Boss with the rest. I got into the lower field, and there was the rest of the buck herd pushing right along the garden fence and no sign of Y.

I hooted and hollared and whistled to let her know I had the rest, and then drove them back. I was hoping she wasn't lost in the woods. I figured I would grain the rest and then go look for her, but she reappeared after a bit. What an adventure!

Here are BLF Monarch and Jacolby.

Here are Bibbles and Rue feeling their oats.

Here is a close up of BLF Hippolytus, who was stripping beech bark. Another use for those horns-to strip the bark from young trees.

Here is BLF Prince Edward enjoying some alder leaves. I love his blue eyes! He loves my raisin toast!

Thursday, September 10, 2009


I just found a couple of comments and thought I would answer them here since they were a few posts ago.

Most of the goats in the photos belong to Black Locust Farm, a large cashmere goat farm in Liberty, Maine. I help out there doing various farm chores, and comb cashmere during the season. They have a web site at . I have some goats of my own, as well; a few fiber goats and some dairy types.

Horns vs no horns. Most folks like to disbud. One blog I follow, disbuds. I am sure she would discuss the pros of disbudding. All of the black locust goats, and all but one of my goats, are horned. At first I was a bit frightened of the horns. There is certainly a risk of injury with a horned goat.

Once I was combing a goat on his neck, and he turned his head quickly and I got a horn in the eye. I thought I was in big trouble, but it was fine after I rolled in agony on the snow for a minute. Sometimes if you go in with grain or hay they will push you in the back of the legs. So we tie them up and then grain them. Or toss the hay over the fence and then go in and spread it.

I have read that goats can't sweat and their horns help keep them from overheating. And obviously they are a defense against predators. We also use horns as handles, but they can be broken so care must be taken. Goats really don't like their horns grabbed, so I only do it as a last resort to hold them.

I feel sorry for my one goat that was disbudded. He does try to butt heads with the other goats, but not for long. Also he has to run from them since he can't fight back.

The biggest risk of injury to other goats is sometimes they play a goat version of "mercy". One goat will wedge the front leg of another goat in between their horns and twist. The owner of BLF and I were talking about it the other day, and she said she has heard of goats getting their legs broken that way, but it has yet to happen to one of her goats.

Bucks and wethers get big horns, does have much smaller, more fragile horns. Different breeds have different styles of horns. Even among the fiber goats, you can have swept back horns (curled by the head) or horns that stick out sideways and curl out. I have had alpine goats, and their horns grow straight up and then curl back.

I hope that helps!

Now to my blog posting today:

It's that time of year, running around like a squirrel gathering nuts.

Busy working at the farm, doing all kinds of stuff. My favorite task is playing goat herder, or is that herdress?

The nineteen big bucks go for a walk everyday. They are kept on a big old farm (we call it Jenny Nash Farm)that a woman is leasing to grow organic vegetables. So when the bucks go out of site into the lower field, someone has to go keep an eye on them, or they might get into the garden.

You can see how they like to eat right up to the edge. This is two of the yearling boys, Jacolby on the left, and Yul. And no, that fence is not hot, it is just for looks, I guess.

This is not a particularly nice pic of the bucks, but it shows autumn coming on, and a nice view of the waning moon.

Here is one of the old guys, Monarch.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Cashmere Goats

Here's one of the main herd. There are 37 in the main herd and 26 in this pic. Out for their morning stroll.

Bucks single file. I guess there are 13-15 in this pic, since some of the yearlings are still out of sight.First three: Lars, Prince Edward, Zuess.

The line spreads out: Monarch has the biggest horns-he's back in the pack.

I call this one, "Wait for us!" As the yearling bucks race to catch up to the big boys.