Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wow, do I suck!

So, when I got behind on the blogging, I went out to take pictures to make a little throwaway post about Kelly. (Two posts below this.)

Turns out I made that same post about a year ago. Heh. I suck. I will start blogging for real again now. New Years resolution. be fair, at least I took a new photo....

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


If you've followed the blog for a while, you know about June. June was one of the first kids born on our farm. And June was the first adult goat we ever sold.

June was a silly, sweet clown of a goat, but did not have the best milk production her first year. She made enough milk for a family goat, but not really enough to stay at a dairy. So we found her a wonderful family and we threw in a second goat to keep her company(blog post to come on this story)and said our goodbyes.

We told June's new family, who have become friends of ours, that we would babysit her anytime they needed us. They took us up on it a year ago and June had her kids here at BHF last Chanukah.

And then she exploded with milk. June more than doubled the capacity of her udder in her second year as a milker, and we had some serious seller's remorse. But we were happy for the Hydes, who got a lot of good milk and obviously really loved old Junebug.

This year we babysat June again as her family took a last vacation before the arrival of their third baby. (Human baby, that is.) As the enormity of the prospect of milking goats while caring for a new infant and home schooling the other two kids set in, they began to wonder if they shouldn't re-home June and Emmylou. Long story short, we snapped her up. June has come back to Blue Heron Farm.

We learned a lot of things in the unfolding of this story.

First, it reinforced our idea of how important it is to sell goats to good families. We got to see June a lot in the time she lived with the Hydes and we were so thankful that she went to such a good home. It would be so hard to think of an animal you love in a place where they would not be treated like family. June was and is happy and healthy in both of her homes.

Next, we realized that you can't make decisions about milking potential in the first year. Many goats don't really come into their full production until age three or sometimes even later. This has been true with a number of our goats - they just keep getting better as they get more mature.

This leads to the fact that we can't raise babies. We knew this, but really - this is huge. One and two year olds will eat just as much as three year olds, but give you half the milk? Stupid. We knew this a year ago, but we're hanging on to Binder and Penny Lane anyway. Sigh. That, as you know, is its own story.

The biggest takeaway for me was the realization that I am going to stress any time we sell an adult goat. It is SO much harder than selling the babies you don't really know. We have a couple we have considered selling this year for production reasons, but I just don't know if I can bear to let them go. Even when they go to a great place - as June did - I know how much I will miss them.

We'll see if I can get over this. Because Miranda - while sweet as pie, just had a second mediocre milk season. If she doesn't get it together in year three, she may have to move on. I should probably start screening applicants now. Who knows how long this might take.

Monday, December 21, 2009


One of our older does, Kelly, developed a really peculiar behavior in the last year or so. It has intensified in the past weeks into something almost cartoon-like.

Kelly foams at the mouth at meal time.

It starts about an hour before dinner. Everyone is usually hanging out, chewing cud, thinking about getting milked and the delicious treats that come with that. And then Kelly starts to salivate.

A lot.

And it's thick, like meringue.

And it gets all over anything she touches. Fence posts. Other goats. Her own ears. The cat.

I've given her a new nickname. Kelli-ccino.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Seeing Ghosts

Last winter we sold a pair of goats to some farmer friends. Poinsettia was born on Christmas and Daisy was born on New Years Eve Day.

Normally we don't see the goats we sell again, except in photos, but since we have Skeeter the Magnificent here, we offered to take the girls back for breeding. (Not an option when the only male you have is their dad.)

The girls came back a couple weeks ago and are staying for two heat cycles to make sure Skeet gets the job done. While I love having them around, it has been a profoundly bittersweet experience.

In a remarkable coincidence, Poinsettia is Loretta's daughter and looks almost exactly like her. If you don't remember, Loretta was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer and had to be put down in June.

Daisy is Miranda's daughter and she came out looking exactly like her great aunt Patty. ...the other goat we had to euthanize this year.

Seeing these two brings a smile to my face every day and has brought me close to tears on several occasions. It is like having Loretta and Patty's ghosts here reminding us how awesome and yet how hard it is to be a compassionate farmer.

I am glad our goats are living on through their genes and bringing their goofy personalities to a whole new farm.





Wednesday, November 11, 2009

My papaya is bisexual!!!

I wonder how often that exact combination of words has been used in the history of the English language.

Whatever- it's true and it's good news...I have a teeny, eeeny, tiny papaya starting. Now if we can just keep the plant from freezing until it grows into something edible.

Yay, bisexual plants! You rock!

Monday, November 9, 2009


I am HORRIBLY behind in blogging and will try to catch up in the next couple days. Sorry. But in the meantime,look what I found enjoying my green beans the other night. He was so tiny I thought it was a ladybug at first.

Is that not the cutest little frog you've ever seen???

Friday, October 30, 2009

An oldie but a goodie

A little trivia: I belong to a goat club.

Yes, that's right a goat club. Whatever you are imagining, it is some. We get together with other goat folks to eat, chit-chat and talk goats. It rocks.

Back in 2007 I was asked, based on writings from my own website, to contribute a regular article to the club's newsletter. I accepted the invitation and went after the task with gusto.

Apparently, too much gusto. My first article was rejected. Too "racy" for a family club.

That rejected article was about our first-ever breeding season and appears below, in its entirety. Some of you may have seen it before. Without being a self-important jerk, I think it only gets funnier to read it again now, years later.

For the rest of you, a couple points: I used to stress about EVERY single thing the goats did or did not do. And I still worked in Houston to make the startup money for the dairy. The combination, well... you'll see. Enjoy.

I am obsessed with sex.

Oh, it’s not what you think….it’s our first breeding season. (OK- maybe that is what you were thinking, and if so—good for you!)
See-- we got into goats a little bit backwards, and so in our first year with goats have already been through the joys of milking and drying off does, watching their ballooning pregnancies, and even kidding. And then more milking. Lots and lots of milking. But this is our first season of goat nookie.

We brought our first little buck onto our farm a couple weeks ago, and ever since I have been obsessively viewing vulva, staring at sheathes and yes, even touching testes. (I just had to see what they felt like. Surely I can’t be the only one. …can I? Hm, maybe I can.)
The poor buck. I am obsessive and relentless, and the longer I go without actually seeing active breeding, the more obsessive I become. What if he’s too young? What if he can’t reach? What if he’s just “not into girls”??? It is just like all of my goat obsessions, which if you have ever read my website, are plentiful and strange. I am a woman possessed.

I find myself standing outside the pen with him and whichever “doe du jour”, gently pleading, then kind of begging and then finally demanding he get it on. Go for it. Come on! Do the deed! …which he never does. Well, not in front of me, at least.
Did I mention I’m obsessed? Last week I had some time off work, and so I headed out to the buck pen with a lawn chair, a book and - of course - my camera (Surely I can’t be the only one. …can I?)

And? ...Nada. Oh, I got a good read, but The Bishop, as we call him, only enjoyed a leisurely two-hour graze while ignoring the overt signs of interest from our very “heaty” herd queen. I even propped him up into position once. He just looked at me like I was a lunatic and kind of fell off. What if he’s too young? What if he can’t reach? What if he’s just “not into girls”???

Of course when I went back to work, he became more active. On one of my 40 or so daily calls home, I found out that “Bishop Don” had chewed his own penis (can I say penis in the Caprine Courier?), urinated on my husband and “styled” his pompadour in a very buck-specific way.


So that’s where we are now. Those are all good signs, right? I mean, if he wasn’t ready before, surely he is “readier” now. At least he’s “yellower” now. That I can confirm. And he no longer gets kisses on the muzzle from me. I know waaay too much about where that muzzle has been.

So we sit and wait. And we bring the ladies out as they ask us to, and then leave them there overnight in the hopes that Bishop Don Magic Juan perhaps just prefers to work his magic at night.

In these very tense couple of weeks, we have found one doe with a satisfactorily crusty tail and another with a nice plug of white goo. We are very hopeful. And not any less obsessed.

My name is Lisa and I am obsessed with goat sex. Maybe you can relate.

In retrospect, I kinda understand their decision. ;)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Pig Butt Garden Update

Some of the tomato plants are flowering

The sunflower is starting to open

The watermelon is flowering

And I am still pretty sure this is either ground cherries or cape gooseberries, and not planted by the pigs so much as their seeds were probably uncovered in the ground while rooting.

Cool, huh?

Friday, October 16, 2009

Papaya Pok Pok

Back in the summer we planted a papaya tree. Bush. Whatever.

I don't really know anything about papayas (obviously), but we now have flowers. And according to my online research, placement of said flowers makes this a female plant. (??)

Now, I know I make fun of non-farm folk for not understanding fundamentals of reproduction, lactation, etc., but here I go: does this mean I need a male plant to actually get fruit?

I don't get botany. But ask me about the mating habits of a goat and we can talk.

Anyhooo-- here's my papaya plant thing.

Friday, October 9, 2009


Well, Patty's time came sooner than we had hoped. After it had become obvious that our treatments were not making her life significantly easier, we made the decision to put her down. She was a trooper and kept her silly, food-obsessed personality to the end, but I knew we owed her the kindness of ending her pain.

In a kindness much greater than the one we made for Patty, our friends and fellow goat farmers, The Carlsons, offered to put her doown for us. I am so grateful for their strength and the amazing, meaningful gift they offered us at a very difficult time. Thank you, Carlson family and thank you Patty for being a (mostly) good little goaty. Peace.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The accidental gardener

After a dismal finish to the spring/summer garden (Nothing grows with 45 days of 100+ weather!) my fall garden is looking pretty good. Last night we ate pattypan squash, jalapenos and okra from the new crop. Delish.

As a relative gardening newbie, I am still not confident enough to start anything from seed; the only exception being green beans. That seems to be the only thing I can just poke into the ground and expect success. For everything else, I buy transplants and hope that the head start will make up for my inexperience and any future neglect.

Our pigs do not have this lack of confidence.

We move the pigs around frequently to give them pasture to eat. This plus whey is almost their entire diet. ...though they do get occasional veggies and other treats from our garden or from some of the farmers at the market who have excess items on the brink of going unsalable. Yesterday I went out to identify all of the amazing things growing in their former pen. Those little buggers have green thumbs. Or more accurately, green butts, I suppose. Here is what I found:


Cow Peas or Purple Hull Peas



And an unknown plant that I hope you can help me ID.

I don't know if any of these things will come to harvest before it gets cold, but we will keep an eye on them all. It would be awesome to have wild field tomatoes.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Maybelline is a cougar

Maybelline - and several other of the ladies - are completely smitten with little Skeeter.

That's right, Maybelline...I'm talking about you. May-belle is seven years old. That's middle aged for a goat. Skeeter is not quite five months old.

Skeeter is some kind of stud.

He has kind of figured out his job, but is still not very good at it. We know he managed to breed Penny Lane, and he gave it his best shot with Wynona, Tawanda and Miranda. We'll see if any of them actually settled in about 20 days.

The Miranda thing was an accident. She had already been serviced by the Bishop. But Tawanda and some of the other girls felt like they needed more Skeeter time and they broke him out of his barn the other night. BROKE HIM OUT OF HIS BARN! So C put him back in there, but accidentally allowed Miranda to spend the night in there, too; so assuming she settles, we will not know who the baby-daddy is without a DNA test. I guess we'll just sell her kids unregistered if it comes down to that. Sigh.

Today while the other girls were out grazing, I found Maybelline and Plum mooning, singing, rubbing the Skeetman's little face and mounting each other in frustration when the fence kept them from their new obsession, King Skeeter the Magnificent.

I hope the Bishop doesn't find out.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What's new on Bunting Road?

So, Saturday night we were coming back from OITF. It was about 1030 - late for your BHFarmers. As we turned onto our road, Christian said, "I wonder what's new on Bunting Road." I smiled, as nothing is ever new on Bunting Road.

And then we saw the donkeys.

A family of donkeys, three adults and a young'un were loose and wandering down our road. It was made even more strange by the fact that not one resident of Bunting Road owns donkeys. We had no idea where they came from.

They paraded up and down our street eating grass from various properties pretty much all night. ...Which drove Goatrude and Nightshift in-freaking-sane. It was an epic, all-night bark-fest.

In the morning they were still there and the little bastards had knocked off our mailbox. I immediately suspected the jackasses, as the box was on the ground, but there were no telltale dents to suggest wayward teens playing mailbox baseball. No, it was the jerk-faced donkeys.

My suspicion was confirmed as they started in on the neighbor's box, right in front of me.

Jerky, jerk faces.

Still and all - they were pretty cute.

We still have no idea whose donkeys they were. We alerted the sheriff and hoped someone would come collect them. After Sunday mid-day, we did not seen them again, so I guess they either were picked up by their owners or are off destroying mailboxes on some other road.

...what's new on Bunting Road, indeed.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Outstanding in the Field

This year we were privileged to be a part of Outstanding in the Field again. I say priveleged, which we were, but honestly I solicited the invitation with some less than gentle self promotion. I was not willing to let the opportunity pass.

Based on the success of last year's, they held two in the Houston area this year. One back at Jolie Vue and one at Animal Farm in Cat Spring. We went to Animal Farm this time.

Last year I used the word fabulous at least a dozen times to describe the event. This year was no different. Beyond fabulous.

The chef for the Animal Farm event was Randy Evans, whose new restaurant Haven will open soon. (Randy was formerly at Brennans - before it burned down during Hurricane Ike.) He used our feta in a LOVELY salad with arugula and sun chokes and he also served our cajeta for dessert. Practicing my new "friendatarian" diet, I also indulged in the main protein course this year, too - the most amazing chicken dish I have ever eaten. Ever. (Chicken raised by Olde Wold Farms in Dobbin - friends of ours at Bayou City farmers market.)

Wine and food flowed with a crazy abundance and a good time was had by all. If you can get tickets to one of these events near you next year, you really should. They are the most inspiring combination of art, sustainable farming and fine dining. Truly an unbeatable night out.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Meet Skeeter. He is so cute, I can't stand it.

Skeeter is on loan at BHF and will be in charge of knocking up a few of the ladies here, including Binder and Penny Lane, who we did not want to breed back to their Daddy.

Penny is big enough and has already had at least one heat cycle, but little Skeets is still only about 4 1/2 months old, so I'm not sure how ready he is to work. I guess we'll see in the next 21 days when Penny cycles again.

Skeeter is so sweet and he's not all stinky yet, so I am giving him lots of love. I like to pet his silly dewlap thing. So soft and jiggly. Bishop doesn't have a dewlap.

Speaking of the Bishop, I vaguely remember when the he was this cute. Here is some pretty amazing Bishop before and after.



Skeeter will get burly and yellow someday, too.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Rosebud & Radiance

Well, the kitties have adapted to their new life beautifully.

They have been out for a while now and are both, after about a week of separate feedings in the coop, eating with the big kitties now. This is good, because I like to make the Stupidest Job on the Farm worth it.

Radiance, the all-black one, is the braver of the two. She was the first to go chase bugs and do normal kitty things, and is now the one threatening to let me pet her just for the fun of it. Rosebud will generally follow Radiance around, but she stays a few paces back when Radiance does things like sniff a goat or take treats from a human.

I have yet to see them take down a varmint, but they are so adorable that I don't really care if they ever "work."

Here are some recent photos. Oh, and if you wondered about the names, they are actually the Secret Service code names for the Obama girls. We thought they were pretty awesome and had just been waiting for the chance to name some farm members the same..

Monday, September 21, 2009

Guest Cows

After a painfully droughty summer, that big storm (and a few small ones that came through soon after) convinced our grass that it was really OK to go ahead and grow. Practically overnight, our brown, trampled pastures sprung up with grass and weeds. So much so, that we invited the neighbor's cows to come help graze it down a bit.

I love when we have guest cows. The babies make me go, "Eeeeeeeee!"

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Chicken's Big Party

Little Chicken is a bad dog. Sweet, sweet, sweet - but not to be trusted alone in the house. She is a chewer. :( The decision was made, after she chewed up a very expensive pair of my shoes, to put her outside every time we leave. Every time.

We did that last week, but then C had to come back for some reason and she snuck back in and did the "Home Alone" as we did evening chores.

This is what we came back to.For those of you counting at home, that is seven shoes. One of which - mine, of course - was chewed up pretty severely.

But what is all of that other stuff, you ask?

A zoom in reveals an expertly opened birthday gift, discarded it would seem, since Chicken's ears aren't pierced.

That gift (lovely seaglass earrings, one seen to the right of the boot) was beautifully wrapped with a nice bow (which we later found, intact in the dog bed) and pretty paper (seen here), around a sturdy, cotton-lined box (also pictured).
Bad, bad dog. But still-- a pretty impressive job for a girl without opposable thumbs.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Oh, yeah.

Peep and Star have "matured".

Let me just that say unless you are a human, there is no privacy on this farm for your mating habits. None. I will be nearby. Oh, yes. And I will likely have a camera.

Now off to catch the Bishop (who is feeling great, BTW) with his girlfriend of the day, Lucinda. Bow-chicka-bow!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


We had an amazingly intense storm come through last week. I mean, seriously intense.

At the end of it all, we had more damage than we did with Ike, and a greater appreciation for our dairy barn, which -- while rated for 150 mph winds - had a little more "give" in the roof than we would like to ever see again. Sucking sounds and leaks aside, it did manage to keep us from being killed by flying things, and the roof did stay on, so there is that.

It started like any late afternoon pop-up shower, if slightly darker and more menacing. At the peak, it found me, Christian and 15 of the goats in the small milking parlor made for four goats. ...not ideal, in case you are wondering.

We came out to missing roof panels on three of four barns, several downed tree limbs, missing panels on one barn, a broken water pipe and some seriously freaked out goats.

This was Thursday, and most of the cleanup is done, though roof repairs still await. Good times on Blue Heron Farm. At least the girls helped do their part on the cleanup. (After an initial period of confused, investigatory unhelpfulnees.) Yummy trees!

Monday, August 31, 2009

SuckerS with two capital Ss

About a month ago I got an email looking for a barn home for two little kitties.

Historically, I have been most excellent at resisting pleas to rehome animals. I used to get at least one email a month back when I worked in an office. Some were just inartful paragraphs about a dog or a cat and a parking lot and other blah blah blah. Some were more thoughtfully crafted with a bad, blown-out flash photograph of some miserable pet or other, not cute enough to trigger the "I want" instinct. And then a small minority were expertly created with a very high quality photo of an insanely cute animal looking unbearably needy. I resisted them all.

It is a mystery to me why I said, "OK" to an email in my box from a person I didn't know, looking for a barn home for two cats. I guess I blame it on our surplus of barns. ...and there WERE photos, so that was probably part of it.

Meet Rosebud and Radiance.(I changed their names from the less interesting Oreo and Java.)

These girls were strays and are still VERY suspicious of people. They are - after a couple weeks - still living in our chicken coop, adjusting to life at BHF. Most times they can be found up in the nesting boxes, which just cracks me up every time I see. Sometimes one or the other will be hiding in the wee holes in a cinder block, which also makes me smile.

I had planned to let them out after a week, but they seem to be perfectly happy with their own digs. And I know that if I open up the door, the other animals will steal their food.

I am also worried that they may go hide under the barn, once released, and that we may not see them again for months. This way I know, at least, they aren't missing meals.

We visit with them several times a day; we are trying to win them over with ear scratches. They rarely hiss at us anymore, so I think we're making progress. Slowly. I hope it won't be long before they seek attention and affection like our other barn kitties, and have no desire to hide. ...they've got until the next clutch of baby birds hatches to get there. Then they get evicted for more helpless animals. Sorry, girls. That's the way the farm works. I hope you can get yourselves ready.

Saturday, August 29, 2009