Friday, October 15, 2010

Our Kids' Book

As you know, I will photograph just about anything on the farm. Goats breeding, goats birthing, poop....

I pulled out just the warm, fuzzy ones and turned them into a kids' book. You can read it here and buy a copy on if you are so inclined.

No plans yet to make a book of the goat sex and poo photos.
...just sayin'.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sing-along with Blue Heron Farm

This morning, Christian came into the dairy today singing a ridiculous new song that made me want to share our sad, sad history of bad made-up songs with you. I probably should apologize in advance.

For us, it started back when I was doing the Stupidest Job on the Farm with more regularity. One day Doralee was eyeballing me & the food from atop Christian's skateboard. For reasons still unclear, it made me get the Smith's Girlfriend in a Coma stuck in my head. But instead of girlfriend in a coma, I heard "Chicken on a Skateboard." I never got past the first couple of lines, but I never could do SJOTF without singing it a little. ...or rather a little of the song, a LOT.

...Chicken on a skateboard, I know - I know it's serious....

I don't remember when, but some months later, I finally shared it with C. No point in keeping that kind of crazy to yourself. I think I embarrassed us both. But succeeded in getting it into his head.

Many months later, we learned we were not alone. Our friend Eric has a pet monkey named Mick Jagger. (Long story - don't ask.) When Mick gets bathed - which is pretty frequently - Eric sings him, "Wash the Monkey". You know, to the Peter Gabriel song Shock the Monkey.

Then, when Mick gets dried off, he is apparently treated to a jaunty rendition of "Funky Towel". Eric swears that Mick really enjoys this.

It is a comfort and a sadness to know our affliction is shared. Christian told Eric about Chicken on a Skateboard and we bathed in the knowledge that we were charter members of a small, weird club.

Anyhoo-- back to this morning. C announced that in the grand tradition of singing warped Peter Gabriel to your animals, he had a new song for the pigs.

Pig Time.

He started in with..

I've got the whey, you're drinking it.
It's gonna make you grow, yeah!

We both cracked up like mental patients and then went about our dairy work. Until I couldn't stand it anymore and belted out:

Your ham's getting bigger!

You're thigh's getting bigger!

Anyway, that's all. I defy you to not sing one of these little ditties for the rest of the day. It is a sickness. It is hard to cure.

I'm gonna watch you grow, yeah!

Friday, August 20, 2010

You’re Doing It Wrong!

**spoiler alert** If you are a SCTGC member, this is this month's article. So don't read any further if you want to have a mailbox surprise.

This is an oft repeated mantra at our farm. “You’re doing it wrong!” We tell it to the ducks who want to eat the cat food, or to the dogs who want to eat the goat poop, or to the pigs who knock over their whey bowl. “You’re doing it wrong!”

But the queens of doing it wrong are the goats. And I don’t know if this is all goats or just our neurotic friends the Nubians – but once they decide something is done a certain way, it doesn’t really matter what you tell them. They are convinced that their way IS the right way and it takes an act of God or an equally bizarre new behavioral obsession to get them back to doing it right.

Exhibit A: Sweet Feed. Sweet Feed is our nickname for Carrie Underwood, our first goat to make doing it wrong the new doing it right. Carrie would wander away from the stand when the milking was done and look for an open bag of sweet feed to pillage. Mind you, we don’t feed Sweet Feed. We had an open bag ONCE, for the pigs. One winter, when we were low on whey. Two years ago. She still looks pretty much every day. Most times she plunges her head into a bag, she is disappointed to find just used teat wipes. Occasionally, however, she finds an open bag of beet pulp, so fat chance we have of breaking this habit.

Exhibit B: Sunday Driving with Elle Mai. Recently Elle decided she should exit the wrong side of the stand – away from the exit door - and just kind of hang out there, in the far corner of the milk parlor until we grab her and push her out. Sometimes she wanders a little, sometimes she just stands and contemplates life. Aimlessly. Sometimes she actually forgets about her new meditation spot and exits the stand like she is supposed to – but only sometimes.

Exhibit C: Jade. Jade is a big dumb love. She could do it wrong every single day and never make me mad. Which is good, because she does it wrong almost every single day. Somewhere along the line, Jade decided that she could not get on the stand without first going around front and eating some of her feed from the front side of the bucket. Completely moronic, but it’s Jade. So, Ok. Maybe I accept it because she doesn’t dally. She eats until we tell her to do it right and then she goes back around and jumps up in the right place by herself.

Most of our oddball behavior manifests in the milk room, though there are definite strange quirks outside the parlor, too. Penny Lane, for instance, likes to drink horrible little stagnant puddles of water from the bottom of trashcans or utility carts. LeeAnn likes to drink from the air conditioner unit, a drop at a time. These events almost always occur less than 20 feet from a full, clean water bucket.

What can I say? These girls – they are the cray-zee. And mostly I love them for it. Oh – and one last example. See how the girls in the photo are all lined up nicely in a row?? Now look under their feet.

That was their hoop house.

You're doing it wrong!!!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

An Evening with Terroir-ists

My brother just reminded me I suck at blogging. Guilty. I am great at keeping Facebook up to date, though. If you haven't friended us there, please do so.

But here's a blog-worthy thing: We're havin' a party.

An event, really. Here are the details, stolen from our Facebook event page. (Told you!)

Join Blue Heron Farm, the Houston Dairymaids and Retreat Hill Winery & Vineyard as we eat and drink where our food lives.

*Texas cheeses by Blue Heron Farm and others, as represented by the Houston Dairymaids

*Wines by Retreat Hill

*Dessert tasting by
Chantal Duvall and Dragana Harris

*Music by Westbound

*Goat hugs by the ladies of Blue Heron Farm.

Sunday, September 19, 6-8 pm * Blue Heron Farm * Field Store, TX
Tickets are $25 and, per the ornery folks at the TABC, are exclusive of wine.
Wine will be available as a tasting, by the glass and by the bottle, but must be purchased on-site, directly from Retreat Hill.

For tickets, email Lisa (
or buy them from Blue Heron Farm at the Farmers Market.

The girls like wine, but please don't get them drunk.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Playing with Picasa

Neat. I just found out that Picasa will make photo collages. Here's one of the turkeys.

So we sold 8 poults, set mama free with the other nine and are now down to six. :( We think she lost three in the tall grass on their first outing. But the good news is, she seems more careful now.

The duck hatched out four little ones. But lost two to a big ol' snake at the pond. :( We're down to two - who are locked up with mom in the coop until they can move a little more adeptly. And that, we hope, is that for poultry this season.

...except for the guinea nest we just found with -- wait for it --

26 eggs.

Oy. I hope to return to GOAT blogging soon.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Fertile Fowl Alert

Muscovy ducks hatching right now. The coop is full. I have no idea where we will put them. Ah, fecundity. It makes me smile. Photos when the hatch is over.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

More turkeys!

Turkey Lean hatched out all six of her eggs!! I found her sitting in her nest with her babies tonight when we went out to milk.

We tried to relocate her and all the kiddoes to the coop, but she wasn't having it. We put the poults in with their cousins (All of whom are STILL alive and thriving, BTW) and Aunt and hope they will get adopted - so far so good.

Here is the first photo. I sure hope that Aunt Shadrac doesn't notice that the new kids are all spotty. :)

Camp Blue Heron

Many of the goats we sell go to "normal" homes. You know... not dairies. Places where the inhabitants sometimes -- get this -- sometimes get to... go. on. vacation.

When that happens, and it's a home where no other goats live, we happily allow them to come back and spend a little time at Camp Blue Heron.

Currently we have Patty (Jazz's daughter) and Annie (Penny Lane's daughter) bounding around in the kid pen while their new parents get a little R&R.

It was perfect timing. I was getting a touch of empty nest syndrome.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

She did it!!!!!

We just found mama hen with 12 tiny poults! We scooped them all up and moved them into the coop, hoping to give them a better chance. (Sorry, the photos are pretty crappy. That second one is C scooping up the babies. The nest was off the ground in a hay feeder.)

...And we finally found Turkey Lean's nest a couple days ago. We are hopeful that at least some of the eggs are fertile. ...She got less time with the dude.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

May Kids

When our breeding plans go, well, as planned, we finish kidding by the end of April. But let's be real. When have goats ever respected a plan?

We had some rare May babies last week and are expecting one more set at the end of the month.

...and two more in June. !Ay carumba!

Oh well, at least they're cute.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Tale of Two Turkeys

OK -it's really, like four or five turkeys when it's all said and done, but that is not a great story title.

So about those turkeys...

At Thanksgiving last year, Turkey Lan went to the Lan family and we ate one of the three remaining Black Spanish birds. That left us with the following:

Turkey Lean: Turkey Lan's gimpy friend who had a goat step on her foot as a poult, leaving her with a permanent limp. She never gained enough weight to even consider eating, so she became a pet.

Shadrach & Abednego: The other two Black Spanish survivors that, it turns out, ended up pets, too. Both females and both of lovely disposition.

So by Spring, we had three pet turkeys. And then one started acting weird. Really weird.

One of the black turkeys started following us around on tours. When we got out to the field with the goats, she would lay down and, we later realized, "present herself". The poor dear was looking for a boyfriend.

Lacking any male turkeys, she happily accepted the attentions of anyone who would give her the time of day. And that's how we found her the first time we freaked out: slightly catatonic in the lap of a tween girl who was petting her & hugging her. Things that a normal, healthy turkey would never allow.

We were sure the turkey was at death's door. This, based on the fact that the EXACT scenario happened on a tour a couple years ago with an elderly chicken we owned. Someone said, "Oh! How sweet this chicken is," while holding her in their arms. She died the next day, quietly, in her sleep, on a cushy bed of hay.

So yeah, we asked the girl to put the turkey down and let her rest. And we both said a little poultry prayer.

Well, after she was fine in the morning, we realized what that behavior was, and so we went through months of this. A tame pet turkey who asked for and received the love of many tour guests. (Light petting. Not any kind of pervy "turkey love")

A little over a month ago, we found our first egg. Well, Nightshift found it and brought it to us in her mouth. But we never found a nest. ...Until one of the girls went AWOL. I finally found her, in a broody trance, on a high tack cabinet sitting on 10 eggs.

Poor, sweet, turkey was trying to hatch out babies. :( I gently removed the unfertilized eggs to break the trance and sent her on her way. But I felt incredibly guilty for not giving her the opportunity to be a mom. I began to hound Christian relentlessly about our need for a male. Having had bad experiences with Dory, he resisted.

After a week, I switched tack and tried to convince him we could just BORROW a male. He gave in. We were brought a big, strapping Bourbon Red tom by our friends at Swede Farm. We set him loose from his cardboard transport box and the dude bonked all of the ladies in his first 10 minutes here. Incredible. He stayed for a few more days for good measure.

I am excited to report that We have one mama on a nest in the barn with an expected hatch date in a little over a week. The other two females have gone AWOL, but I sight them every couple of days, which means they, too, likely have nests somewhere.

I am looking forward to an explosion of poults. ..fingers crossed. If they hatch out, we'll lock them up with mama in the coop for a while and then just hope for the best. Like we always do. Knowing we may not get a single one to adulthood. Sigh.

But at least we satisfied the three we do have. And that is something.

Proud Papa-to-Be

Thursday, April 22, 2010

And now for something completely different

So, it's the time of year that an organized farmer needs to start thinking about Thanksgiving. A standard, nasty, franken-bred turkey can get started later, but a heritage breed bird needs to get started about now to be big enough by the big day.

If you've been with us for a while, you know how our turkey raising has gone in the past. It's been pretty hit or miss. Mostly miss. I decided back during the turkey-Bhutan-death march of 09 that maybe we should think about other options this year.

Well, we did more than think.

Christian let me get these guys today.

They are geese. But I don't actually know what breed. We got them from a guy who puts up a sign on the side of the road and sells them, as well as a multitude of other fowl, from behind his auto shop. This being the country, those fowl are his wife's. You know - wimminz work. He fixes cars and motorbikes and other manly things. So he knew the price of the geese. (After calling his wife) And I convinced him these were, in fact, the geese - and well, that's about that.

We're pretty sure that we've got a male and a female. They sure are cute. I hope they enjoy their time at Blue Heron Farm. They will not be getting names. They are collectively to be called Happy Thanksgiving.

And in supreme ironies, we may actually be hatching out turkey babies in another month or so. Oy vey. I'll try to write that one up tomorrow.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tring to catch up...

I do have a few things to talk about, but kidding season has me a little behind. I'll try to sit down today, if I can. Until then, here are a few photos to make you feel warm and fuzzy. And possibly nauseated...

Oh, also - you should friend us on facebook. I am way better at tiny little daily updates this time of year.

Friday, March 26, 2010


Another unanticipated kid-a-palooza. LeeAnne went yesterday afternoon, (four days early) followed by June, (3am today- three days late), followed by Challenge (about two hours ago -five days early). That's six kids in the last 24 hours.

I made the following joke on my facebook: 24 hour kid total: 2 de Beauvoirs, 4 Balzacs. That is way too many Balzacs.

I don't know if it is actually as funny as I think it is, but I cracked myself up. Guess I'm a little punchy from lack of sleep.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

A big day of firsts

Well, it has happened. Binder the miracle doe is a mama. And her big buckling is also Skeeter's first child. Cigars all around!

Sadly for me, I totally missed Binder's big event. I came out for chores Tuesday morning and she was standing in the chicken coop, with the little dude all cleaned up and fed, looking at me with a face that said, "You will not BELIEVE what just happened to me." After I got past the guilt of not being there, I could not be more proud. She is a trooper and a keeper. Way to go, Bindee-boo.

Her little guy is the frosty one on the right. The other two are Wynona's kids, born the day before.

LeeAnne just had two a couple hours ago and Challenge is on deck.

...we're a little busy at the mo'.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Check it....

I know it's a terrible picture, but look at it. Closely.

Diva and Radiance. For real.

This doesn't happen a lot, hence the poo-ey pic, but still... Crazy, huh? These cats don't even remember what a barn is anymore.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Comings and Goings

We have seriously upended the status quo at Blue Heron Farm. We are moving goats around in ways we never dreamed.

We'll start with Emmylou Hyde. As I blog this, she is on her way to a new home, where she can be some variation of Emmylou Rita Hyde Broadbent.

This is an excellent move for us and for Emmy. The Broadbents are a lovely couple we met and see regularly at our monthly market at Home Sweet Farm. They have been steadily moving towards getting a couple goats and we have had quite a few conversations about goats in the past year or so of markets. Recently they saw Emmy's story on our blog and decided that it was time. They approached us with the offer of re-homing her and we jumped on it. They have a couple old sheep to keep her company and Emmylou will become a mama in April, so will have a built-in friend if she doesn't end up loving the sheep. She will not be a milker, she will just be a loved and spoiled pet and new goat mama. I could not dream of a better home for her.

While I am glad she will be producing her own little friend, we have a second plan for her company. At the end of the milking season, Naomi will go to the Broadbents, too.

This one is more bittersweet.

Naomi has had a tough haul in her three years. She narrowly escaped euthanasia her first year when she got sick and we thought she was just too scrawny to get through it. Nothing particular was wrong, she just seemed to be failing to thrive and gain weight. We thought it might be a worm issue and then accidentally overdosed her on the wormer in a critical calculation error. She didn't die, though. And we didn't put her down that week because my parents were here and it seemed an awful thing to do on their visit. By the time they left, she had turned the corner. And strangely, a year later had gone through the most amazing growth spurt and was actually our largest goat from her age group. Move forward a year.

Last year was her first year to kid and her milk came in early and strong. We now know we could have milked her before she kidded, but at the time we didn't know. And the extreme pressure in her udder led her to a case of mastitis in one half, soon after kidding. We treated it and moved on. Poor girl. She did get better, but within only a few months, she had developed calcium blockages in that side of her udder that made milking difficult. We decided to just let her dry up, treat her in the dry season with a preventative antibiotic and hope for the best in year three. Move forward a year.

This year Naomi kidded with another huge udder. We decided to milk her out a few days before kidding to prevent a repeat of last year. And that was when we found that the previously affected half of her udder was completely blocked. Completely. After consultation with the vet, it was left at us having to let that side dry up while we continued to milk the good half. And it left us with the question, what do you do with a dairy goat who can't milk? It took over a week for that side to go down and it looked painful as all hell, so we knew that Naomi should never be bred again. We simply could not put her through that.

One option was to get her a mastectomy in the dry season to remove the blind half, but really - to us that was never a serious option. It also was not an option to keep her here in the herd and spend the next 10 years being vigilant about her never getting bred again. The logistics are just too hard. Euthanasia was untenable option three. She is the sweetest love of a goat and she is not sick. She is just no longer a functioning dairy doe. Enter the Broadbents. We asked if they could do two goats and they said sure.

Naomi will stay here and milk for the rest of the season as we say our long goodbye. She is milking great from the one side and the other is down to almost nothing again. Though I know she will be going to a great home and they will treat her like a queen, I am having a hard time with letting her go. Naomi was born here and developed her wonderful personality here and it is just way harder to say goodbye. I am glad we have a full season to make the transition.

Our last egress is Liberty. She was one of our original five goats, and after three years here will be going to another dairy at the end of this week. Our friends who are just starting their dairy are in dire need of milkers. Liberty has always annoyed Christian with her slow speed of milking and so he offered her up to "help us both". Libby milked like a cow her first year here but after having a single kid this year is not producing quite as well. She has it in her, but it's just not happening yet this year. Her new family is just happy to have the milk at all and can sell her down the road if her production doesn't pick up. I will miss Libby, too. She's a sweet little weirdo. But again - I know she is going to a good home, so this will not be too difficult of a goodbye.

So that's the traffic flow. I titled this entry Comings and Goings - but it looks like it's really just goings. Sigh. Well, that's a bummer.

But the babies keep coming, so there is that. Oh! And Penny Lane is on deck for kidding and should be a milker in another week or so, if we caught the right breeding. So yeah - comings and goings.

I look forward to updates and photos of Emmylou & Liberty at their new homes. I am sure they will both be very happy.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Ah, the irony

Today when I was at the farmers market, a train went past. (The market is adjacent to the tracks.) The train was nothing but tanker cars full of high fructose corn syrup. At least 75, maybe 100.


I don't need the reminder of why we are doing this farming thing, but it was good reinforcement.

It made me crave a salad.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Kidding Seaon: Chapter One

Well, our first segment of the kidding season is behind us and to say it was a bit unusual is an understatement. On our first day, we had four births in 18 hours - NOT what we had planned.

Lucinda was the first doe due, with Peggy Sue and Liberty due a full week later. Naomi was a wildcard - she was the only doe for whom we did not have a known breeding date, as she had been dried off early and was living with the Bishop for a while. Here's how it played out:

Lucinda was the size of a house. We thought she would have babies before her due date. The due date is 150 days after conception, but can happen anywhere between 145 and 155 and still be considered normal. On day 155, she still showed no sign of being ready to kid, so for the first time ever, we induced. To do this, you administer a shot of prostaglandins and they will kid within 36 hours. If they were already "starting" the process, they will often go earlier.

Next morning we go out (about 24 hours later) and she's still nowhere close. But Naomi has lined up in the kidding stall we reserved for Lucy and started to paw the ground. Labor. This day 156 for Lucinda was also day 146 for Peggy and Libby. And it looked like 150 for Naomi. Sigh.

Lucinda waddled in as we kept an eye on Naomi. Her countdown began in earnest. While Naomi engaged in the standard pre-labor activities, Liberty waltzed into the barn. I very clearly explained to her that she was not due yet and that I did not appreciate her sense of humor. Her udder was not full, so I wrote it off to her weird personality and let her stay.

When it became clear that Naomi had a couple hours to go and that Lucinda had not even begun a pre-labor, I went in the house to play on the computer a little. Twenty minutes later, I went to go check on Naomi again and Liberty had a kid on the ground. Bam! Just like that.

I scooped her up to bring her inside and noticed that Naomi had gotten serious. She kidded shortly thereafter with triplets.

A few hours later - during evening milking chores - Lucinda finally did her thing, and as she started labor, Peggy Sue came in and thought it looked fun. Her pre-labor started at about 7 pm.

Having kids is exhausting. Because we bottle feed from the get-go, we are going non-stop for about 24 hours after a single kidding. By 7pm, we had had three kiddings - with a total of six kids. And we were still going out to check on Peggy every half hour or so. As the night wore on, we spaced the checks out a little further, as she didn't seem ready to push. Finally at about 2am, Christian pulled the kids out. We needed to get some sleep.

I was actually sleeping when he left at abut 1:45 to do a check. I woke up at about 3:00 and saw he hadn't come back. I freaked out, bundled up in my puffy suit and shuffled out to the barn. C wasn't there. Peggy was. She clearly had kidded, but I saw no kids. There was a light on in the dairy, so I went there. Nothing. And in my confused sleep fog, I freaked the frack out. WHERE DID THEY GO????

I came back to the house and saw a light on in the guest room. C was calmly bottle feeding one of the eight kids born that day. I don't remember which. I just collapsed in tired relief. Longest day ever.

Ellie Mae kidded about a week later - four days ahead of schedule, and Emmy Lou followed the day after that with triplets that I needed to assist. (One breech up front gummed up the whole works.) So that brings us to 12 babies and counting.

All but five have gone on to their new homes. We still have doelings for sale if you know anyone looking and we start again any day now. Limerick and Kelly are due this weekend.

We had an issue with poor Naomi - I alluded to that in my earlier post. I will get to that in the next post. She's OK, but OK is relative on a dairy farm. More on that as soon as I can swing it. Life gets busy in the baby season.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


Ok-- I know I owe a nice, meaty post about our kidding season so far (12 babies in a week - so tired!)but I have another market today, so probably won't get to it until next week.

In the meantime, check out this nice article on Haven. The soup they mention is not on the menu anymore, as the menu changes frequently to support the farm-to-table concept....winter squash is all gone now. But the chef says he'll probably make a similar soup soon with sweet potatoes which ARE available now.

Sweeet, huh?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Oh, baby!

We have finally started the kidding season after a 6 day delay on our first birth. Then three more decided to kid along with her. So we had 8 babies between 11am yesterday and 2am today. Tired does not begin to describe....

I will try to update with photos soon. We are trying to keep up with the demand of eight bottle babies plus one mamas who is not doing so well. I'll update when I can.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Trudy's on the HuffPo!

Go check it out - it's on the front page now (9am Central, Feb 10) and it should be in the "Animals we Love" if it's not still there when you click..

Go visit the story and give us a 10 on the cute-o-meter to bump us up in the rankings. :)

Edited at 3pm: She is off of the main page, but still on the page layout if you click the tab that says "Green"

Thursday, February 4, 2010


That is Radiance the Eviscerator and her friend Little Chicken on our bed. Sure, LC is refusing to look at the cat, but still -- it's a step.

And as I type, Rosebud & Radiance are both running around the office - on the other side of the house from their bedroom. The kitties are getting bold. And in Radiance's case, a little less aggro.

This is too fun.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

What the....?

I don't know how this happened, but Rosebud and Radiance are spooning on our bed now.

I guess we have two indoor kitties.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Serious Craziness

That is Radiance.

In my lap.

I am woefully overdue for a barn kitty update.

Right around Thanksgiving, Radiance started getting very bold. And very interested in people. She began to swagger about the barnyard, mingling with goats, turkeys and even the working dogs to a lesser extent. And then finally, she approached me outside of dinner hours to investigate this thing we call "petting." She was hooked. Just a few days later, she allowed a friend's daughter to pick her up and carry her around, eventually just dozing in her arms. A crazy transformation was complete.

Radiance became so affectionate that we actually gave her a trial run as a house kitty, though I was reluctant to take her away from the more timid Rosebud. She did "OK" in the house, but ultimately always asked to go back out by jumping four feet in the air and smooshing herself against the windows of the back door for an instant of longing before falling back to the floor. Oh well. It was worth a tray.

After her visits inside the house, she became a regular visitor to the back porch, but never really wanted to come in when invited. She just wanted me to come out and pet her.

And when I say me, I mean me. Not me and the dogs. Sometime around Christmas, Radiance became increasingly aggressive with the dogs - especially our house dogs, and sealed her fate as a barnyard cat who will be granted several petting sessions a day, but in the absence of Diva and Chicken when possible. (Poor Diva didn't ask to be beat up - swear!)

In all this time, Rosebud remained aloof. I saw her at mealtimes, but she still wouldn't let me pet her.

And then one day it was as if a switch had been flipped. I was out in the back acreage and she followed Radiance out to see me. I squatted and patiently waited for her to approach. She let me pet her briefly, the purr motor went on and she suddenly was a real pet kitty. Who had a burning need to make up for the five months of her life with no human contact. She would not let me stop petting her.

She got so affectionate that in the past couple of weeks, she would actually stop eating and demand some lovin' from us as we performed the Stupidest Job on the Farm.

So anyway, in the middle of all of this, I started getting desperate for a house kitty. Since Radiance didn't work out, I started looking for a new kitten online, in pet stores, at shelters...wherever. Until we got the wild hair to try Rosebud in the house three days ago.

She sleeps with us in the bed now.

She still is not 100% comfortable with house cat status. She spends about 90% of the day under our bed, but will come out if we ask her to and bribe her with sweet, delicious petting. She won't voluntarily leave the bedroom yet, other than a few tentative steps into the hallway - if no dogs are there. But she is making huge progress every day.

I hope to have photos of her enjoying the sofa, watching American Idol with us soon.

As soon as she stops being afraid of the TV, that is. Silly kitty. Silly, indoor kitty.

Monday, January 25, 2010

2010 Calendar

Hey, peeps - we just designed a calendar on lulu.

I know January is almost over - sorry about that.

And I know they are a bit pricey - but that is because they are print-on-demand. That means we don't have to buy a bunch of calendars up-front and hope to sell them. You can just go order one. Or ten. Or whatever. We're not making bank on this - it was just a fun project and would be a nice gift for the goat/farm/animal lover in your life.

Will post real stuff soon. Wait until you hear what's up with Rosebud and Radiance.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Ballad of Emmylou Hyde

Do you remember the song, “The Cat Came Back”? It's been around forever. Generations of kids have delighted in the tale of that stupid, persistent yellow cat. This is the chorus:

But the cat came back the very next day,
The cat came back, we thought he was a goner
But the cat came back; it just couldn't stay away.

We have a goat like that.

It started two years ago. It was our second kidding year and the first year that we planned to sell every last goat born on our place. We had a pretty good success rate including a rather large sale to a man from our community who found our ad at the feed store.

Mr. X, as he will be known here, came to visit a couple times, brought his wife and kids and eventually picked out a couple goats. As the season wore on, he bought a couple more and by season's end, he was a man with a plan – and five of our good does, plus two goats for cabrito. He was also a man with a payment plan. Five does is a lot of dough, as you know.

Late that summer, the economy started its dive. That, plus family issues out of the country, forced Mr. X to liquidate his small herd. I don't know how he found buyers, what kind of prices he got or where four of the girls went, but
what I do know is that he figured he'd just bring back the doe that was not yet paid for. … and so we found ourselves with “Rita”. A scrawny kid, fed milk from a sale barn doe.

Oh the goat came back the very next day,
The goat came back, we thought she was a goner
But the goat came back; it just couldn't stay away.

We knew better than to take her back. Really we did. But we just were not sure what to do. So we stuck her in the paddock with the buck and our two (at the time) dry does and tried to figure out a decent quarantine option that would not be too hard on her while we tried to figure out if we could even sell her again.

She promptly infected that pen with pink eye (which she carried with no visible signs) which then spread like wildfire to the whole herd a week later. Sigh. The lessons we learn the hard way.

So right around the time we got the stupid pink eye cleaned up, we were arranging the sale of a newly bred June. Since the Hydes had no other goats, we made a deal: Take the runt as a companion goat and we will give her to you for free. We said that in six months we would come out and test her for CAE (a disease transmissible through milk that she may have contracted while being fed milk of unknown origins)and if she got the all clear, they could breed her and count their blessing of an extra doe/milker. If she came back positive, we said they should consider not ever breeding her to avoid the hassle. Deal made. Bye bye Rita's dumb eye!

At her new home, Rita was called Emmylou. We also had a doe named Emmylou, so when we talked about her, we called her Emmylou Hyde. Months passed and we went out to do her blood draw/CAE test as planned. And dang near killed her.

OK- in the end, it was not a near kill, but at the time we freaked. After we removed the sample, we pulled the needle out and a pretty healthy flow of blood dripped out onto her chest and my hand. And there was a small-ish hematoma. We didn't talk about it, but Christian and I locked eyes for a sec and then stretched out our conversation with Justin to be sure she wasn't going to drop dead right there. 10 minutes later, we headed home. Another 10 minutes later, the phone rang. I joked to Christian that it was Justin telling us Emmylou Hyde had died. He looked at his phone. It was Justin.

But it was about something unrelated.

Oh the goat came back the very next day,
The goat came back, we thought she was a goner
But the goat came back; it just couldn't stay away.

Emmy Hyde was fine, but she never really grew at the rate of a normal doe. We think she must have been a little stunted from poor nutrition at her first home. Certainly the Hydes fed her well, but she just never caught up to June. The CAE test was clear, but she just didn't look big enough to breed that year. So she stayed on as June's friend. June's sweet, runty friend.

That brings us to this past fall. As you know from a couple posts ago, we very happily bought June back this year. And so she came back, with little Emmylou in tow.

Oh the goat came back the very next day,
The goat came back, we thought she was a goner
But the goat came back; it just couldn't stay away.

So Emmylou Hyde is back. She's two but is as small as a yearling. She's from a
doe who is, at best, a mediocre milker. She is a total drain of resources. But she is awfully sweet.

And she is ours. Again.

You can talk tough all you like, but in the end, some decisions are made by circumstances. We are breeding her this year and will try to sell her as a family milker after she kids. Possibly along with her mama, Miranda. And hope this time maybe she stays away.

Away, away, yea, yea, yea