Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Miracle of Life - Graphic

Look at this!! Miranda birthed another giant. Christian decided to help a little near the end - she was having a tough time getting the kiddo out. I will take a nice dry photo of the baby and add it soon. Exciting! Another girl!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Poinsettia the House Goat

It got a little busy around here during the holidays, so I kind of forgot to post that Loretta had her baby on Christmas Day Night. (Is that a thing?)

We have a family waiting on two doelings, so we let them name her, but we will keep her until she has a half-sister to go home with her.

Meet Poinsettia. She's kind of a house goat. Very good at napping in front of the TV.

...looooove me some house goats.

Monday, December 29, 2008

FOFs Rule!

Three cheers for the Webers and Segers - the latest official Friends of the Farm.
They all came out to visit babies today in their FOF t-shirts.

...when are you going to buy yours????

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Insane sweetness

Watching June nurse and mother these kids is just so barf-inspiringly cute I can't stand it.

We bottle raise our kids here - for a couple reasons. The biggest thing is that we need the milk. If we bottle feed, we can control the amount the kids get and make sure they have enough to grow properly, but not so much that we can't make cheese.

The other reason is that hand-reared kids end up being lovely, calm, handle-able adults that are usually pretty easy to milk later on. That's just our way.

But these aren't our goats and the Hydes don't need the milk yet. I must say, letting nature do its thing has been truly awesome.

Monday, December 22, 2008

A quick visit

The Hydes were able to stop by to visit their new goats for a few minutes on their way out of town for the holidays. The light is really tough in that little shed, so the pictures aren't super - but they are still sweet.

Miranda, Loretta and Lucinda are still hanging in there. I don't think there will be more babies today.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

One down, three to go

Well, after a LOOOOONG day of watching and waiting and watching and waiting, followed by watching and waiting...June is in the shed. Hopefully nursing her beautiful new twins.

Christian's sister and her family came out this morning, hoping to catch the big event and we watched and waited from about 10:30 or 11:00 am until 5:00 pm when she finally gave in and pushed the little buggers out. In the dark. Sigh.

A boy and a girl. Beautiful. And our nieces got to see something probably no other kids in their Manhattan grade school have ever seen.

Happy Chanukah everyone! We'll post better photos tomorrow.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

June's Back End

June came this morning. I think there will be babies tomorrow morning.

Her back end looks like an orangutan's face. For serious. That can't feel good.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


I love taking portraits of the goats. I call them "school pictures."

Today there was some nice light for school pictures. Someone should have told Libby to clean up a little and spit out her cud.






The Window is Open

We have officially entered the window of normal birth timing.

Goats gestate for 150 days, but you can add or subtract five days and still fall within the range considered normal. Today Miranda and Loretta are at 145. Lucinda is a wild card, as we did not witness her breeding, but based solely on her size (she is freaking enormous!) and the barest hint of udder development, I think she's somewhere in the window as well.

We'll have babies - and precious milk - soon.

And we've got a little bonus planned. June's family is going out of town for the holidays, so we will taking care of her and Emmy here at BHF. June is due Monday.

We're about to get busy.

We have already given warning that baby goats might be attending the Chanukah and/or Christmas celebrations at Christian's folks' house. We have also warned that we may have to back out of another event on Miranda and Lo Lo's due date. We are completely and utterly unable to make 100% firm commitments for the next ten days. But we'll do what we can to make everything work. Here's hoping for uncomplicated births and a holiday season filled with baby goat love.

Miranda - 145 days

Lucinda - 145 days?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Keeping Christian Busy

Technically, we are deep within the low season. Milk output is WAAAAY down, as happens this time of year. Goats have a natural lactation curve that has them generally drying off after 10 months of production. Some will go dry before that, though others - the rare milk superstars - will just keep on milking, oblivious to nature's plan. We don't have a lot of superstars. :(

In the low season, we get to follow the sun. The work day is shorter and we catch up on the long list of things that need to be done in the house or around the farm.

But not this year.

Christian just finished his second custom milk stand, has one order in the hopper and three more potential builds to do soon. I kind of started a side business for him.

The stands are like ours, but can be built in sizes from those for a single goat to the full fiver, like we use. With each stand he makes, C tweaks the design a little to make it even better. The latest, pictured below, has an adjustable head stock (as the woman who bought it has meat goats, who can get quite beefy, but still may need a good hoof trim) and is in two pieces that can be unbolted for easier transport.

The stands are cool. And hopefully Christian won't burn out on making them. I let him buy a rad new chop saw to aid in the effort to keep it interesting enough. So, you know -- if ya need a milk stand....

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Extreme Cuteness

The ducklings are growing. They definitely could no longer fit in an egg. They are still in the coop, learning their life skills, but we'll probably let them out sometime next week.

Try not to let the cute overload make you barf.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Eight is enough

We lost a duckling overnight. :(

It is getting quite cold at night and Harpo tried her darndest to keep all of the kids warm, but she - and her wingspan - are just not quite large enough to cover nine growing babies completely. One was sticking out a bit from her wing this morning. That little bit was enough to kill him.

Oddly enough, I am perfectly OK with this. I think it would have been miraculous for so many to survive in this weather and with a first time mom. Harpo is still a rockstar in my book. Good on ya', Harpo.

Trudy's weird pile

Goatrude is a collector.

When she was a puppy, she mostly collected items she found in the barnyard. Sticks, the occasional neglected tool, bones we had given her or the other dogs. She places her collected items in a loose pile in the center of the barnyard. Occasionally she chews on those which are worthy. (Which once, unfortunately, included a nice pair of protective headphones. Oops.)

Now that the Trude roams, the collections have become baffling. They are kind of like mini art installations.

Yesterday the pile comprised:

a.) 3 bleached out cow femur bone segments (None of which WE gave her. Lord knows where she found them.)

b.) A small mummified turtle

c.) A tanned skunk hide with plenty of fur attached to assist identification.

I hate to be an alarmist, but I think the Trude may be involved in the dark arts.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Duckling Update

Well, there are nine ducklings out of a possible ten. Harpo is officially a rockstar.

By 3:00 yesterday, Christian decided to get her and the kiddos moved to the coop. When he went to get them, three eggs had still not hatched, though the ducks had pipped them. He broke them open and managed to save two of the ducklings by warming them up in the house for a couple hours. The third was DOA.

By five o'clock he had put the two gimpy ducks with the others under mama and we hoped for the best. The whole clan spent the night in a dogloo, in the chicken coop, with a little heater on them, just because we're softies.

This morning those two were indistinguishable from the rest. Victory!

Here is the brood. Sick cute. We hope they'll all make it. We'll leave them in the coop for a few days until they seem steady and ready to go and then they'll be left to free range in the wilds of BHF. If you need a duckling,let us know. We're trying to get the Arroyos to take one. Not sure how many we'll need to sell on Craigslist yet. ...four dollah. (But one free to the Arroyos family)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Breaking News: The ducklings are hatching!!!!

The ducklings are hatching! Christian pulled two out for a quick (and horrible) photo but then stuck them back under Harpo. Not all were done hatching as of an hour ago, but there are lots of delicious little peep noises coming from under her breast. Yaaaaay! Ducklings!!!

We are thinking we might snatch them up and raise them by hand. Keep them warm inside the house for a few weeks. Part of me is feeling sad for Harpo if we do it, but Christian thinks shell get over it quickly. Dawn did when her first batch failed.

We'll see. I'll post better pics when we get some.

And here is Harpo with a used egg in the foreground. Good little mama.


Yes, that is my evil laugh. Meaning I have done something evil. Evil, I say!

We sent Tony to Swede Farm.

Tony is -- or shall I say WAS -- our alpha guinea. He was a total PITA and was absurdly "attacky" toward many of the other poultry types at BHF. He beat up ToD, he beat up Karl - both of which outweigh him exponentially. He also chased anyone he felt like chasing. Pretty much whenever the spirit moved him.

So when we got the chance last week, we reminded the Carlsons that they "forgot" to get Tony when they got their peep peps. Bwa-ha-ha-haaaa. No returns!!!!

...I hope he hasn't killed anything on their farm. ;)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What We Are Thankful For

I am thankful to have a happy farm and many, many happy and healthy animals.

Christian is thankful I still let him surf. (He's going today)

ToD is thankful we bought a frozen turkey for the holiday.

Dinner duck is thankful for cat food.

Patty is thankful that FOF Caroline helped us trim her problem hoof correctly.

Boy pig is thankful that girl pig is the one who went to freezer camp.

Bishop Don Magic Juan is thankful that the ear-less buck doesn't live here anymore.

The peep peeps are also thankful for cat food.

Karl is thankful that we showed him where the pond is. And that Vera is probably not a dude.

The chickens are thankful for cat food. (In case you can't tell, cat food is pretty popular around here.)

We are all thankful to you for being a friend of the farm and for the kindness you share when we have less than perfect days. Happy Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Not enough tears

We had a horrible accident today. No flip comments, no stupid plays on words. We had a horrible, horrible accident and I am utterly heartbroken.

Boone died today.

I loved that kitten more than I should have considering the short time we had together and I don't have enough tears or time in the day to cry for him the way I really want to. We didn't see what happened, but we can guess. And we think the end was quick and unexpected and that he didn't suffer. The best we can tell, his neck was broken. There was no blood or gore. And there was no Boone left in Boone when I found him.

I am so very, very sorry little buddy. You were an awesomely weird and wonderful cat. I am just so sorry. We will miss you.

Friday, November 21, 2008

A Sad Day for Dinner Duck

Lately we have taken to calling Harpo "Dinner Duck". This is not because we are going to eat her. No...Harpo leaves her nest at mealtimes and positively BEGS like a puppy for food from us. It is all at once adorable and heartbreaking. She must be bored to tears on her nest and very, very hungry.

Well, it seems someone or something has figured out her routine.

Today we found the shell of an eaten duck egg in the driveway. There was much blood, indicating there had been a fetal duck inside. I almost cried.

I do not know how many eggs are left, but Christian only saw four when he went to check on her. Mind you, many more could have been underneath her - she was rotating them when he peeked.

I'll try to count tonight when she comes in for dinner. But we may not get ducklings after all. There are still two weeks left in her incubation. I am going to try to stay positive and hope that this one egg was the exception and not the rule. ...I'll let you know.

Edited at 7:30 pm: Well, there are at least eight left that I could see. I think there may actually be nine or possibly more. it looked like there might be an egg or two buried a little under her down. I hope whoever took the last egg does not come back.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

You know you want one...

Blue Heron Farm has swag!

We have printed a limited run of official "Friend of the Farm" t-shirts. There is a Unisex shirt (shown here)and a Girlie version as well. All shirts are $18 - plus postage if you need us to mail it. Otherwise you can pick yours up at the farm or at market.

Order yours on our Website. :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

T. Boone Lickens -- Kitty Microdermabrasionist

t. Boone Kittens is growing insanely fast and has really settled in to the "house kitty" lifestyle. He is especially fond - even possibly inappropriately in love - with his dog Diva. Luckily Diva is pretty patient with him. Though he doesn't always convince her to lick his head and nuzzle him as often as he would like, he does wrangle a fair amount of bum licking. ...animals.

But lest you think we have an almost normal animal at BHF, it is not true. Boone has issues that go beyond cross-species infatuation. It has become painfully (and I mean this literally) clear that Boone was weaned too young.

You see, T. Boone has a strange compulsion. Before he settles down to sleep he has to "nurse". What that boils down to here is a session of licking my face - or the face of anyone who will let him. I encouraged it when he was tiny - it was kind of cute that he wanted to sit on my shoulder and lick my nose. But now he is bigger and his tongue infinitely closer to the texture of a sanding wheel and he stands, much heavier, in the middle of my chest to lick larger patches of my face. The good news - he has arrested and reversed some burgeoning wrinkles. The bad news - he sometimes gets really obsessive and it feels like he has removed a whole dimple.

Sometimes I can get him to switch over and lick my hand, which is not as weird or painful. And sometimes I actually prove that I am not ruled by my kitten and I make him stop. Sometimes. Already today is not that day.

In any case, we love the little nut. I guess he's going to stay. You may schedule your dermabrasion appointments forthwith.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Understanding Vera

Today Vera - the grey duck in the photo, did something unexpected. She mounted Flo, the brown duck.

This could mean only one of two things:
1. Vera is gay
2. Vera is a dude.

I am not actually ready to call her a dude yet, as we have had previous experience with lesbian ducks. It's true. Maverick and Ice Man were special friends and liked to express their love in the baby pool. They were both definitely girls. And definitely practicing the moves normally reserved for mating.

So we shall watch and wait and see. Recently Karl kind of picked Vera up as a replacement for Harpo (who is still on her nest - yay, Harpo) so I guess he is either setting himself up for major disappointment or things are about to become a whole lot more complicated at Mel's Diner.

Just because Vera may have a preference for females does not rule her out for future motherhood. We'll keep you updated as ducklings do or don't develop.

Edited to add: If it turns out Vera is a dude, I will be calling her/him Vera Wang. Heh.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Peep Peep Update

Well, the peep peeps are almost full size now. Both of the colored ones ended up looking about the same - and oddly enough, not lavender. They have more of the coloring known as "pearl" - but with varying degrees of white on their breast. Not sure if that will ever change.

Here are the three we kept along with mom and one of their two dads. They are just now losing the feathers on their head - so deliciously ugly.

In other bird news, Harpo has gone broody. She sat on her eggs all day yesterday and only came off for a snack at dinner time. I never got a final count, but I think she may have 12 or 13 in there. Yay! The weather is getting pretty cold overnight, so I don't know if she'll actually hatch out any ducklings, but I have marked the date on the calendar and we'll start looking in about 26 days.

I had noticed on Sunday that there was a big layer of downy feathers covering the clutch of eggs, and thought that might be a sign was getting ready to set. ...getting ready to keep them warm. She has also been stupidly friendly for the last week or so - running up to us like a puppy, begging for food any time she saw us. I figured that meant she was fueling up for her long vigil. I suppose I could actually READ about ducks, but it's more fun trying to figure all of the behaviors out on my own. I'm a dork that way.

Here's hoping for ducklings. :)

Edited to add: I finally looked at the book. Muscovies incubate their eggs for 35 days. Better change my calendar!

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Mad Goat

One of our weirdest goats these days is Kelly. In the past year, Kelly has developed a bizzare pre-dinner ritual that consists mainly of her chewing her cud and salivating at a rate that leaves her foaming at the mouth.

Now ordinarily if your goat was foaming at the mouth, you ought to be concerned. It is a pretty good sign something may be seriously wrong; first on the list of suspects being self-poisoning from eating something on the verboten list.

But with Kelly it's just chronic weirdness.

This particular weirdness has earned her a new nickname: Kelliccino. Mmmmm...foamy.

FWIW, this was taken on a mild evening. Some days it's triple that or more in volume.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Another great tour

On Sunday we hosted a small tour brought to the farm by former Houston Dairymaid, Kendra Scott. She brought a group to Austin to visit some small dairies and wineries out in the Hill Country and they stopped by BHF on their way back to H-town.

It was a GORGEOUS day and the goats enjoyed being pet and loved out in the sunshine. We talked about all of the weird things we have learned about goats, including their lack of top teeth and the fact that they lose baby teeth after turning one. Here Christian shows off Carrie Underwood's decidedly messed up grill.

When the tour left, the goats came in to investigate the tent where we set up cheese samples. Them goats is crazy. And LeeAnne wants you to have no doubt which cheese is her favorite. (second pic)

Friday, October 24, 2008

Big, Fancy Farm Tour

Last weekend we participated in a multi-farm tour with a gourmet lunch at the last farm, cooked by celebrity chef, Randy Evans. The ticket price was a little steep, but for a good reason: in addition to providing people with a nice immersion in local food culture, we were also raising money for the Koonce fund.

Since that Sunday was also our monthly market at Home Sweet Farm, BHF was the first stop after breakfast at Sandy's.

ToD tried his darndest to impress every soul on the tour, and since he didn't try to kill anyone, I consider our part of the day a success.

After BHF, the crew went to a local winery in Waller and then to Animal Farm for the lunch and a look at the absolutely incredible work that Gita and Cas do in sustainable living, permaculture and organic farming. We had to miss that part of the tour, but went out to Animal Farm on Tuesday for a re-creation of what we missed. (Only this time the audience was Travel/Food writers in town for a conference) All I can say is wow.

I hope everyone who participated enjoyed the experience. We hope to participate in other tour/dinner events on a regular basis and will put details of new events up on this site as they coalesce. In the meantime, enjoy the photos.

Oh - and in crazy co-in-kee-dink-ees ... Gita has a dog that looks just like Goatrude.

Monday, October 20, 2008

100 Mile Harvest

Back in April when we first started at the Farmers' Markets, we met the Arroyos family. They had just started a project to eat only foods grown or produced from ingredients grown within a hundred miles of their home in Sugarland. A couple weeks ago they finally took us up on our offer to come out to Blue Heron Farm.

...and they brought reporters. :)

Here is a link to the really lovely blog entry the Arroyos wrote about us and their visit.

And here is the equally flattering article that ran in the Chronicle.

We are huge supporters of the Arroyos and their passion for the politics of food and the environment. I hope you will find some inspiration in what they are doing and use it as a starting point, if you have not already done so on your own, to learn more about the food you eat and the farmers who make it possible.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The great Trudini

Goatrude is a bit of an escape artist when she feels the need to be somewhere else. Fortunately her escapades are pretty much limited to:
1. Tunneling into our back yard and
2. Going through our back fence, around and through our neighbor's back fence to cruise his place along our shared fence line.

Yesterday I accidentally left the fence to the compost pile unlocked and she expanded her roam and came back with two, yes two, unblemished duck eggs in her mouth. Christian took them away and we took off trying to figure out where she found them. Fortunately she came along and led us right to the treasure trove where there was still one egg left that wouldn't fit in her big maw.

Harpo has started a nest! She dug under all of the chopped up cedar limbs that we haven't burned yet. And I guess now the burn will be postponed until there are ducklings.

Every morning, she and Karl waddle down the driveway, she enters her burrow and he stands guard. Too cute. I'll let you know when she goes broody. I hope we get a live hatch! :)

Friday, October 10, 2008

Making room for piggy

I'm making room in the freezer. I cooked my first-ever ham tonight. If you're new to the farm blog, you may not know that I am both Jewish and vegetarian. I'm on totally new turf here.

Anyhoo-- I "steamed" it with the lid on for the first hour with a bottle of beer poured in the roaster to make the steam. Then I uncovered and basted it with a mixture of peach/jalapeƱo jam, dijon mustard, honey and minced garlic. I basted it every 20 minutes until it was done. According to the googler, taking it out of the oven at 140F internal temp is OK. I hope no one gets poisoned. Christian's parents are coming for dinner.

Anyway, there is a little more room in the freezer now. And I am now a cooker of many meats, ham being the latest in a line that includes ground lamb and whole organic chickens. Farming is cool.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Bloody Ridiculous

As Fall arrives, so too do the days of lower milk production. It's the natural lactation curve in action.

As a result, there is no spare milk about. Usually when we start a batch of cheese there are still a couple gallons left in the fridge, from which we get our "house milk" and then start accumulating another two days' worth for the next batch.

Not today.

As 19 gallons were busy doing their thing in the cheese vat, I found myself sans milk for tonight's dinner: a farm-fresh quiche.

I actually had to go out to the field and hand milk a half cup into a cajeta jar from a confused, impatient Maybelline in order to finish dinner. In case you are wondering, goats don't "get" milking in the field. I had to enlist Christian to hold her still to get anywhere.

Ridiculous, I say.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Like Weeds

Our baby animals are growing like weeds.

T. Boone is a good two times the size he was when he arrived. He's still sick-cute, but he no longer can sit in one hand.

The guinea keets are getting huge, too. We gave two more away and so are down to three. I will try to get a better picture than this - but this gives you an idea of how big they are. This was before the last two went. They were getting their dog food on in Trudy's bowl.

They're great little fliers now and when the whole family flies in from the fields at once it is just awesome to watch. ...that, I will not likely ever capture on film. :(

Sunday, October 5, 2008

OITF Photos

Last night was fabulous. Honi & Glen's farm is absolutely gorgeous, the weather was perfect and the food was fabulous.

We arrived at 3, had drinks and hors d'oeuvres in the lawn of the farm house and then had an escorted tour of the farm on our way to the table which had been set up on a hill in the back acreage. It was - am I over using this word? - fabulous.

We picked a spot at the table and were lucky enough to get really lovely dinner companions where we chose to sit. And the view? Incredible. The table was most striking before it filled with people, so I included a before and after of our section as well as other random piccies from the evening.

And now, with the glitterati life behind us, I have to go make cheese. And cajeta. We may have hooked a few dozen people on the cajeta. ;)