Friday, July 31, 2009


So today - hallelujah - we got a big, soaky thundershower. Finally.

Guess who thought that would be a fine time to go into labor?

I still need to blog out the reason we are having these strange, late/off season babies, but will have to get to it later. I just have time to post a couple quick pics.

Here are Patty's twins, Thunder and Lightning (doe and buck), fresh from the oven and not quite dry yet.

And here is a dry, sweet, tired Thunder-doe.

I'll tell their story soon.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

The monkey-est butt around

Day 152. Still no babies. Oh, Patty. If you ruin our off-farm dinner plans for tomorrow night I will be so very unhappy with you.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

SJOTF - Family Style

Mad props to the Danaher family for dividing the Stupidest Job on the Farm task three ways.

Brett took the first shift, which was relatively chicken free. Kristin took shift two, which included active defense against our rooster, Russell Crowe. Their sweet daughter Lily finished up and was so good she could do it with her eyes closed. ...or maybe that's just "covered."


Monday, July 27, 2009

Monkey Butt

When a goat gets ready to kid, her business end widens, flattens and, though this sounds contradictory to the flattening part, pooches out. Basically the whole apparatus takes on an appearance strikingly similar to that of an orangutan's face.

I call this monkey butt.

A call of "Monkey Butt!" means kids should be on the ground within 48 hours.

Patty has monkey butt. See?

Tomorrow is her due date. We are having late season kids. I'll explain it all when I post kid photos. For now just enjoy her monkey butt. Oh and here is a normal butt for comparison. ...and a pic of poor Patty doing what we call the "bred spread."

We're full of fun terms at BHF.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Freestyle Jazz

So Christian had a bit of a minor Farmageddon moment while I was at market Tuesday. Heh. I love when I am not home for these.

He was nearing the end of milk chores and went to let the last group of goats into the parlor.(We milk four at a time. With 20 goats in milk, that is five shifts.)The last shift came in and there were only three goats. He crawled out of the tiny goat sized door to have a look to see if one was still in the barn for some reason. No dice. He looked around the barnyard. No straggler. At that point he had to figure out who was missing and why. Not a zen moment on the farm.

Since he is an old hand at the milking and kind of on autopilot while doing it now, and really spends more time looking at the business end than the faces, he wasn't sure who was missing. So he made a list. And then went out to check off who he had already seen.

I don't know why but to me -- this is the funniest part of the story. So much so, I had to take a photo of his handiwork. Heh.

Just as he got to his last two names, Challenge and Jazz, he spotted Challenge and his phone rang. It was the neighbor.

"Hey buddy. I got one of your goats over here."

At a time unknown and through methods COMPLETELY unknown, Jazz had left the comfort of Blue Heron Farm to cast her lot with the cows next door. A thorough examination of the fence, post incident, revealed no holes. It's a mystery how she got there. But it was no mystery how C would have to get her home. A walk down Bunting Road, my friends.

The neighbor was flabbergasted as Christian whistled for her and headed for home. Jazz followed him like a champ. No need to grab her chain, no need for a lead. While she may have had a bit of a yen for adventure, she also knew what side her bread was buttered on and that those cows were not going to give her any dinner.

C snapped the following with is phone on their trot home. Lookin' good Jazzy. Ya weirdo.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

New Hobby

We are officially trying to convince everyone who visits the farm at chore time to take a turn doing the Stupidest Job on the Farm. ...the only rule being that they have to wear the hat.

My dad was the first to oblige.

...and our friend Eric was the next.

Yes. This is our idea of fun. know you want a turn.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A trip to the beach

I haven't really talked about our drought here. We're in a serious drought. Serious.
So much so that our stock tank - or pond, if you are from the city - has a beach now. A %$#%$# &$^%$ ^*&^$&$ beach.

The lack of rain has ensured that we won't be bringing in hay this year. There is still enough standing grass and weeds on the acreage for the goats to eat for the time being, but we will have to start feeding them hay much earlier than normal this year. Like next month, probably. This, of course, means added expenses this year. While I hate to do it, I think it may mean a corresponding increase in our cheese prices this fall. We'll see. Stupid drought.

The silver lining, for us anyway, is that our back acreage is usually flooded in a normal year. This means that that part of our land still has lots of grass when the rest of our fields burn up. Small consolation, but it is better than what most folks around here have.

At some point you have to just stop worrying about it and move on. So yesterday we took the dogs to "the beach." Even old lady Diva enjoyed herself. Sweet girl.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Oh, come on!

Does anything have the right to be this cute? For real. This is just sick.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

A few photo updates

So -- they say a picture is worth a thousand words. Since my last post looks like at least 1000 words (sorry!), I'll stick to photos this time. Here are a few updates.

Peep is almost fully manned out now. So handsome.

Gravy is almost as big as wild pig already. So precocious.

Bravey is not as big is Gravy, and so is way smaller than big pig. So cute.

We got more piglets. (I know this deserves a proper explanation, but I don't have time at the mo. Take your fake thousand words and be happy.)

We are hoping to take the last of the guinea keets to their new home today. soon as we catch the last two, anyway. I think we waited too long. These birds are too good at the flying now.

The turkeys seem to have finally stopped dying. We have nine left from the original 16 mail-order poults. Plus the two feed store birds, so 11 in the coop. Gobble gobble!

There. That's, like, 6200 words. Now I gotta go make cheese already!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Weekend with Molly

Sorry for the huge delay in updates. I guess we've been busy. ...Though I can't, for the life of me, explain what we may have been doing that was out of the ordinary. ...farming is sometimes like that. It's kind of a black hole for time and resources. It is a black hole so dense you can't even prove you ever had that time or those resources in the first place. In my mind, it is still July 5th or so and I don't know exactly how to reconcile today's actual date. Whatever -- water under the bridge.

So yeah. Molly was here last weekend. Molly is a lovely young Dexter cow, owned by FOF Leslie, who also sold us our very first goats. Leslie wanted to take some time to attend her kids' fencing tournament in Dallas, but as you may have gathered by now, there is no such thing as "time off" when you have dairy animals. They need to be milked twice a day, every day. Or they stop making milk. Oh, I suppose you could go down to one-a-days for a while, but what would be the point? You still couldn't leave town. Understanding that hard truth, we gladly took four of Leslie's goats and her cow for the weekend. We have been considering adding a Dexter to our farm for a while, so we thought this would be a great trial run.

Let me just say we will not be adding a cow based on this trial run.

This is not an indictment of Molly. And further, I'm not saying we won't ever have one, but poor Molly had a bit of a tough time at our farm and I do not think we can judge cows based on her brief, unusual stay at our farm. Here's the rundown.

Thursday 10 pm: Molly and the goats arrive. We get the full disclosure on Molly's situation. Her weanling calf had just been taken away that day and sent to its new home. Molly makes it apparent that she has no idea where in the hell she is and, more importantly where the hell her baby is, approximately 14 seconds after Leslie leaves. We are treated to sad, mournful and occasionally angry bellowing until about sunrise.

Friday 8 am: We put Molly's lead on and bring her to the milking area. She leads like a dream. She really is a sweet cow. We get the bucket out, set up a stool and coo gently to her as we clean her teats. The milk starts leaking out before I even get started. This bodes well.

8:05 am - Molly has decided she has given us enough milk. But it is only about 2/3 the amount Leslie said would be the minimum she should give. I remember Leslie saying we may have to sing to her to get her to let the milk down. Christian and I sing Happy Birthday (the only song we know all of the words to) about 10 times before we just start making up songs about cows and milk. Bad songs. There is to be no more milk this morning.

Friday 6 pm: After a day with much bellowing we repeat the morning ritual and get only 1/2 the milk we got that morning - or 1/3 the amount we should get per milking. We call Leslie to see if she has any other tricks to get Molly to let the milk down. No dice. She says not to worry and just take what we can get.

Repeat this for three days. (Minus the call to Leslie. That was, I am sure to her relief, a solo-event.) In each successive milking, we get only the amount we got that first night, which is less than our goats give on a bad day.

Let's just say I spent A LOT of time freaking out hoping we did not ruin Molly for the whole season.

The good news is that Molly's agitation level decreased with each day she was here. But the experience left me less than jazzed about getting a cow. I can't see adding another animal to the mix with a whole different milking mo-jam if we aren't going to get at least two or three gallons a day. ...which, honestly we probably would have if it weren't for the stress and the insane heat we were having here. I think the poor girl just didn't have it in her. I think she was mad. And to the extent she was able, I think she showed it by holding back her milk. She didn't know who I was, but she was dang sure I wasn't her calf.

Aside from the low milk output and the sad, sad and extraordinarily loud bellowing, we really enjoyed having her here. She was a gentle, sweet, easily handled love of a beast. I only wish we had had a better representation of what life with our own cow might be. I suspect we'll have to go visit her and milk her over at Leslie's place some day.

On Monday we were about to leave the farm for a dinner out on the town when I realized I hadn't taken any pictures of her before her scheduled departure that night. Christian snapped a couple before I realized how absurd it was to pose with a cow in makeup and a dress. Enjoy the silliness that followed. I call that last look "Blue Steel".

Saturday, July 4, 2009

I don't think we'll be doing this again...

Turkeys. Ugh.

We have lost five. These stupid things have become a ridiculous, expensive folly.

Now two I think I probably cooked. That was my own stupidity. The other three? I don't know. One died overnight. Christian found another while I was at market and I just picked up another one about five minutes ago. WTH??? Three of the five that have died are the Blue Slates - the ones I was most looking forward to raising. Sigh. Not doing this again. For real.

Here is how they looked yesterday evening. No gimps. I just don't know what is happening, but probably they are not all eating and drinking enough.

The ones that are still in there look good, but I am not counting my turkeys before the pop-up timer goes off.

Lest you think it is all Bhutan-Turkey Death March around here - we do have some new life. Molly the guest cow is here. I will post more on her soon - I need to take a few photos first.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Gobble gobble!

OMG - the poults are here. We had one DOA, but they throw in extra just in case that happens. 16 of the little turklings survived their fantastic journey.

...and they came with no label.

I have no idea what we got, but it looks like there are two breeds. ...anyone?

Edited at 1:15: It seems the dark ones are Black Spanish. The light ones may either be Blue Slate or Royal Palm. We'll see as they begin to feather out.

Oh...and we almost killed them all already. It seems that they CAN get too warm - and leaving their box in the Texas sun would be just how that would happen. They are now inside the coop. I hope they survive our stupidity.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Peeperty Update

Peep(Named by our nieces and not to be confused with peep peeps, who are guinea babies) is about half way though his transformation to manhood. Again I have included a photo of our female, Star, for comparison. Peep looked JUST like her a month ago.

Crazy. Nature is a trip.