Thursday, July 31, 2008

Another "Farming is Hard" Moment

We sold a goat yesterday. One we raised from a baby. It was so much harder than I thought it would be. :(

Without going into too much detail that you don't care about, we recently accepted that we had not made the best business decision in raising nine babies last year. Goats do not produce at their best until they are two or even three years old, so basically we are spending a lot of resources on goats who do not produce as well as we need them to yet.

We decided to dry up and re-breed three of the girls and then sell them, after they are bred, as family milkers. We figured that would mean sales this fall. But then we got an inquiry.

After deciding it would be an excellent home, we sent a newly bred June to live with the Hyde family in Chappel Hill. She went with another of "our" goats, Rita, who was Miranda's baby this year. Someone else had bought Rita but needs to re-home her due to a family emergency.

I tried really hard not to cry and her new owner has promised I can come visit. While she didn't produce tons of milk this year, she was still a good, easy to milk goat who will give plenty as a family milker. I hope they love her as much as we did. And I get the impression they will.

Good bye, June-bug. I hope you enjoy your new home.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Doralee the Wonder Chicken

Back when the garden was overflowing with cucumbers, we "taught" Doralee to do a little trick. She is nuts about fresh fruit and veggies and will jump to take them from your hand.

Sorry the photos are a little blurry. She is one fast chicken.

Trudy the Uber-turd
Unfortunately Trudy sometimes sweeps in after Doralee's hard work and steals the literal fruits of her labor. Bad Trudy.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

If at first you don't succeed....

We keep a crummy old parts truck in our barn yard. It was purchased to allow Christian to make repairs to his crummy old normal truck (If you're a new FOF, you probably don't know Aunt Farty - the 1981 Datsun Diesel)

Anyhoo - while looking for a slave cylinder for his clutch, he looked down through the open hood and found a little surprise.

Dawn has been busy.

We don't know if these eggs are fertile. I haven't seen any mating recently, so I kind of have doubts, but we're taking a wait and see approach. If she goes broody, we'll let her try to hatch out some more little peep peeps. This time we know where the nest is, so if she gives up prematurely we can try to hatch out the rest under a heat lamp.

I'll let you know if she decides to set. :)

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Lo Update

I forgot to post that by the next morning, Loretta was fine.

My mom pointed out that she didn't know what Loretta would necessarily look like normally, so the photos didn't seem so shocking. So here she is without all the swelling.

I know it's not nice, but I look at the other two photos a few times a day and crack up every time. I'm pretty sure it probably hurt, and it seems cruel to laugh, but honestly - the blown up lips are just so funny. It's like Meg Ryan or Lisa Rinna. Total collagen vanity case.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Poor Lo!

Loretta got into a little trouble today. Something got her right in the kisser. I am guessing bee, but it may have been a snake. She is eating and drinking, but I'll bet it hurts. It looks just like novocaine mouth feels. :( It is the right side of her mouth/muzzle , the left side in these photos.

Poor, Lo. I don't think my kisses are making her feel any better. Hopefully the swelling will go down soon.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Eunice and Frenda

Christian came with me to the Farmer's Market this morning; a rare treat for both of us. As usual we sold out. Today it was by about 10:030.

Before we came home, he let me detour us to Wabash Antiques & Feed - one of my very favorite places in Houston. Ever the generous husband, he allowed me to get a couple new hens. (Our gals are a little slow in the egg production these days.)

How ridiculous is it that we go INTO the city to buy livestock?!

Anyway, we named them after two of the first women we met in our local feed store. Eunice owns the land right in front of our house (as well as the feed store) and Frenda lives across 1488 from us. I thought it was great way to name a couple new ladies who will hopefully have a long history here in Field Store.

Here they are. Eunice is the Barred Rock (front) and I am still working on figuring out what breed Frenda is. They are both a little spooked still and haven't left the coop, though the door - as always - is wide open. I hope they settle in and start laying soon. :)

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Wartime Promotion

Blue Heron Farm is pleased to recognize one Grumpy J. Cat for his tireless fight in the war against varmints.

It is with great pride that we announce his promotion to Major General. Congratulations on your second star, Grumpy. You've earned it.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Thanks, Oprah! (And friends)

I'm not sure if I can even tell this story the way it unfolded, but I'll try.

It starts with milking goats. We always listen to either talk radio or music when we milk. (We have an XM receiver out in the dairy...LOVE the XM) Anyway, even though XM doesn't normally have ads, you do get a lot of promos for other XM stations. We are routinely plagued by promos for a station called "Oprah and Friends". The ad drives me insane. It has an absolutely unbearable "theme song" that keeps repeating, "Oprah and Friends...friends and oprah" Aaaargh. Terrible. Really terrible.

So sometime last week we went on an emergency bank run kind of late at night. (Accidentally wrote the hay guy a check off the wrong account - had to make a quick ATM deposit. Ooops!) I was feeling a bit punchy and so I searched out the Oprah and Friends station. (That's right, I have XM in the car, too. I tell ya...XM is the shizzle.) I can faithfully report that Oprah and Friends is a bunch of psycho-babble-nonsense.

The program we listened to featured this guy, talking absolute bollocks about the "laws of attraction." He won't REALLY explain anything, as he wants you to buy his books, so you have to just try to pick up key words and ideas from his inane babble and the delusional callers he speaks with on air.

Here's what I got...I had to leave my valves open to attract what I wanted. Well...this was in the middle of our hay debacle, so I decided what I wanted was dryness. We had had rain and the threat of rain every day since we started. I began loudly proclaiming that I would attract dryness. It was kind of funny. But maybe you had to be there. I was pretty punchy. Anyway, as you see - we got the hay in.

Fast forward to Saturday night. We had just finished chores and it was pretty late. I went to wash up before bed and when I turned on the tap, air came out. Our water was off. The electricity was still on, so it wasn't the normal "no water" scenario. (We have a well...when the power goes off, you get no water. Electric pump. Soooo country.) C went out with a flashlight and a current tester thing and we had the sinking realization that it was our well pump. And the next day was Sunday.

We left messages for the well guy and resorted to our emergency water. Our neighbor let us run a hose from his place, too - so we weren't totally lost. We could get water to all of the animals without hauling buckets from our pond and we could wash the milking equipment. Luckily we were between pasteurization runs. By day's end Sunday I felt totally wretched, so we decided to combine errands with a trip to C's parent's house for a hot shower. In the car, I was going to annoy Christian with a little snip of Oprah and Friends...friends and oprah.

When I tuned in, it was the same psycho-babble loser. And then it hit me. I attracted too much dryness. I made the well die. OH MY GOD, CLOSE THE VALVE!!!!

I started chanting to the valve god (that may not be right, but I tell you - I don't really have any idea what this dude is actually talking about) that I didn't really want dryness. I just wanted everything to work the way it was supposed to.

Monday morning the well guy came and found it was just a burned out switch. He replaced in in two minutes and we were back in water. Just like that.

Thanks, Oprah! (And friends.) (...And friends and Oprah)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Haaaa-aaaay, Part II

Wow. We're at about 325 bales and counting. Yesterday I estimated we had done 65%? I was wrong. Yesterday was 120 bales. We'll probably end up at around 500. Check out the barn before and afters:

<--Left side of b
arn, before

Right side of barn, before

Inside of barn, mos
t of the way through (It was so packed I couldn't shoot both sides!)
Outside of barn at break time
We had the much appreciated, hard-workin' help of some friends today. A big BHF shout out to supreme FOFs, the Carlson family. Katie, Kristen, Grace, Linnea and Tim came to load up hay and are coming back to finish after they milk their own goats. We have loaded up a trailer of hay for their troubles - another 50 or 60 bales, but it is nowhere near payment enough for such uncomplaining hard work. They are the coolest kids we know. (well, Tim's a grownup, but he's still alright) ;) Here are a couple action shots. Thanks again, Carlsons.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

What do gay horses eat??


Hm. That doesn't really work in writing, but it's pretty silly when you tell it.

Today we FINALLY got our hay baled up. Well, most of it anyway.

Hay production has been a huge ordeal at Blue Heron Farm. Last year it rained so much, a great many folks around here lost their hay, us included. Because you need a few consecutive days of sunshine to cut, rake and bale - the ever present rains left us without any chance to get it in.

Another part of our problem is our small size. No one wants to come cut a 10 acre field, as the bigger ones are easier to mow and more lucrative for the cutter. We had people tell us they would do it that never showed up.

This year someone showed up.

Sort of.

It's taken well over a week and the cut hay has been rained on once, leaching valuable nutrition from the grass, but a good 65% of it is finally baled up and in the barn now. He should be coming back to do the rest tomorrow.


Did I mention it's hard to get people out to cut and bale small fields?

Anyhoo - here are a few photos from today. When we get the last of the hay loaded into the barn I'll post before and after photos so you can see how we did.

We are both so glad this ordeal is almost over. There will be no second cutting.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Rethinking Wilt

We're going to sell sweet little Wilt. :(

We started thinking more practically about Wilt and the folly of keeping him became pretty apparent. A few things:

1. We don't NEED another buck. We did not keep any of the Bishop's kids this year, so we can use him on the whole herd again with no inbreeding worries. A second buck at this point would be completely unnecessary.

2. Maybelline is no show goat. Our goat mentor, and FOF charter member, Caroline pointed out that Maybelline, while a stellar milker, has an udder "defect" that would not be a good thing to pass on through Wilt to future generations. It might make her kids less desirable to buyers looking for goats with good conformation. (It is one thing for Maybelline to have a doe kid and a chance of passing the trait on, but if Wilt fathers exponentially more children, that possibility rises exponentially as well) Obviously WE don't mind a doe with an unglamorous udder, but it leads us to number 3...

3. We don't really want to raise more kids and milk first fresheners. First time goat moms (first fresheners) tend to give less milk than more experienced goats. It does not make good business sense for us to raise kids who a. Will drink expensive milk for at least 8 weeks and b. will not give back a lot of milk until they are at least two or three. We should always aim to grow our herd with seasoned, proven milkers. So aiming to have more babies like Maybelline doesn't really get us anything in the near term....or at all, if we are realistic about good herd growth practices.

So, he's going away. I actually think I found a buyer at the Farmer's Market last night. They asked if I also sold goats and took our card. If they call, they may come get him this week.

He's been fun and we'll miss him a little. He was stupidly spoiled, being an only kid. But we'll get over it. It's just one of the many minor personal challenges of being a goat farmer.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Independence Day - Fieldstore Style

Our wee town celebrates the fourth with a rodeo. For real. A rodeo. Right across the street from our farm.

It went on a little too long for me to stay for the fireworks, but I did spend a couple hours there and managed to get a couple decent pics before I had to head back home to pack up some feta cheese and get a few hours of sleep before market.

Happy Birthday, America.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Cute Overload, Part 2

Here is the little guy today. Six days old. He's still cute. ...and still in the house a lot. ;)

Cute Overload

The Cardinal is growing cuter and more hilarious by the day. He is in the playful, jumpy phase now and could not be more fun. I will take new photos soon. This little bomb of pure, sickening cuteness was taken when he was still just two days old. You may have to take something for the nausea.