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