Monday, April 30, 2012

There be Ducks A-Growin'!

On Saturday, Meaghan returned home from her Dad's house to find out the good news; Sean and I "candled" a couple of duck eggs from the nest while Momma Duck was out getting some breakfast and we found... signs of ducklings growing!

If you look closely, you can make out tiny red veins starting to branch off of the yolk portion in the egg in this picture to the right. In the photo below, to the naked eye, the veining is significantly smaller, but it is there and you can definately see the size of the yolk is larger within the shell.

We took these pictures with the overhead light off in the bathroom. Sean held the egg carefully and I shined a flashlight on them from behind. This is an excellent sign and we all were excited about the possibilities. There are 14 eggs being set upon in the nest. We are hoping that 8-10 of these hatch baby Mallards in a couple more weeks.

Today, Sean and I checked them again. I didn't have my camera near to take pictures, but there has been definately more definition in the growth of the baby ducklings. I will try to contain myself from checking again until Friday and post more pictures of their progress then for you all.

I hope you all have a great day!
Sonja ♥

Building a New Barn: Part 2 (April 28, 2012)

 After ten hours of construction, I would feel it reasonable to be tired. Add to our toil, freezing winds gusting all day and temperatures dropping into the 40’s, and I have reason to feel tired and ache EVERYWHERE and... I... do. My fingers ache, my ears ache, my head aches. I also feel just a little guilty sitting in my living room writing this while I listen to Sean, still outside, chopping fire wood so we can have hot showers tonight. In my defense, I did offer to help with the wood, but Sean declined to let me, which I am only too grateful for! I am not sure I can move another foot.

Sean has chili in the crock pot simmering away for when he comes inside thanks to our friend, Cherie. That will be a nice reward for all of his hard work and help to thaw him out. I considered eating something myself, but honestly, I am just not hungry. I haven’t eaten anything today, but I don’t have any indication of an appetite for anything save the promised shower and my welcoming bed.

Phase 2 of our barn raising involved framing out the rest of the barn. We now have a 20x30 shell erected. THAT feels good. We were able to install 2 of the 5 windows we’ll have. (Thanks again, Ryan and Kimmie!) And, we discovered that the ground under the last stall, in what will be the tack room, has an abrupt 8 inch drop off, so though it is screwed together temporarily, nothing else on that side of the building can be done until that situation is remedied. Sean is planning on building a cement form to pour a foundation to support that corner of the barn, but that will have to be a project for another day, maybe next weekend.

You’ll notice that our temporary tarp was no match for the extreme winds. It spent the day ripped and making a terrible racket until Sean rescued us and removed it. It could not be salvaged for any other purpose, so it was thrown away. We knew it would be a short term fix, but we intended it to last more than one week! We ordered plywood to replace the tarp. Thankfully, there is no rain in the forecast for a couple of days and that will give us time to frame up the 2nd floor ceiling, which will double as a roof for now and provide the goats protection from any rain to come.

Goodnight, Friends!

Friday, April 27, 2012

More rain???

We woke this morning for gray skies and liquid sunshine falling. But, that did not hinder me from ordering some lumber that we need to finish framing out the lower decks of the barn. Our goal is to spend less than $750 for the entire project and I had to spend $248 on today's order. That brings our total to sit at $398, so far.

Yesterday, I visited my sister, Kelli and picked up a huge container with vet supplies in it. It is still living in the trunk of my car, but I am looking forward to going through my loot tonight! I love presents, especially, useful ones!

Sean and I did peek and pulled out the weight tape. We measured Abigail and Asher who came in weighing 19 pounds and 25 pounds, respectively. I am not sure it is accurate, though. We measured Jedi and he came in at 150 pounds, which does seem accurate. Pepper taped up at 75 pounds and Rachel measured 56 pounds. I am thinking about taking them up the road to our vet and plopping them on their scale to see how accurate the tape is compared to reality. I don't think I will manage that today, though.

Today, I have to focus on getting the other chores done in preparation for tomorrow's marathon building day. Our friends, the Cristoforo family, are pitching in to help finish framing out the barn with us tomorrow morning. With 3 extra pairs of hands, we are certain to make a good days work of it. Our hope is to have it completely framed out by tomorrow's close and maybe, we'll celebrate with a small bonfire. That would be so nice.

It is such a blessing to have willing friends who offer to help out when it is needed. And, it makes necessary chores that much more enjoyable. Last fall, we and some other friends gathered to help the Cristoforo's get roughly 8 cords of wood cut to length and stacked in their barn in preparation for winter. Then, they returned the favor by helping us stack our wood. Sean helped put in a window and repaired some roofing. It is an old saying, but it's true nonetheless, "Many hands make light work!"

I'll be sure to take lots of pictures of tomorrow's work for you all. I hope you have a happy day!
Sonja ♥

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Abby: April 24, 2012

Abigail has grown. As has Asher. When I first started to record their antics, they were much the same size as our Jack Russell/Pomeranian mix, Buster. I hadn't realized just how much they had grown until I saw them together today. Abby easily stands a good few inches taller than Buster, now.

She can also be extremely LOUD. I coerced Kristen to bringing me a goat kid to snuggle after she got home from the school house, but Abby was having none of that. Instead, she followed Buster around causing him to worry and fret. She even took an inquisitive nibble from his tail, which sent him retreating to higher ground. Not much success, that, since Abigail is quite capable of following him onto couch or chair and did. I may not have gotten much in the way of cuddling this afternoon, but their playtime made me smile.

Contrast her size from playing with Meaghan on April 6th to today in this video clip: Click HERE for Link. Just like human babies, they sure fill out fast, leaving us to wonder, "Where did the time go?

The kids are just over 3 weeks now. They are still nursing from their Mom regularly. Additionally, they nibble some on Momma Ellie's grain and they nibble on the hay stack and other vegetation in the field. It won't be long before the kids will completely graduate from nursing.

There are other changes in our kids. We had hoped that they would also be naturally "polled" like their Dam, but like their Sire, they both have horns forming. We choose not to disbud our kids. It is a personal choice and one that means that we will not be able to "show" these kids since the standard is horn removal. We like the look of the goats with their natural horns. Horns also serve as cooling mechanisms, functioning much like an automobile radiator on a hot day. They can be used in their defense against predators. (Realistically, if a wild dog wants to kill a goat, they probably will. I see no reason to make it easy for the predator, however.) Horns are attached to and are part of a goat's skull and carry an extensive blood supply veined through them.

Sean and I had to remove a horn from Rachel when she had somehow, during her day, broken it and had it hanging bloody from her head. It bled, as head wounds will, horrifically. It was quite unpleasant to us to have to use heavy shears to sever it and then, cleanse the open wound. It has healed since and seems to be regrowing. Even with this experience, I would rather carefully vet any medical necessity, rather than subject every kid born to us with pain, however brief.
On the other side of the argument, goats horns can be dangerous to them and to their humans, even accidentally. Another consideration is that they can get caught in fencing or other items and the horns can break. Broken horns can lead to the possibility of infection or tetanus. Even weighing these concerns, our family does not currently disbud or dehorn our goats. It is our opinion that removing a goat's horns or disbudding kids is unnecessarily painful and has the propensity to cause more problems with scurs or partial horns still forming (Very often these are loosely attached and need to be trimmed or clipped.) We feel that removing a working part of an animal's body because of what could happen is no different than removing a cat's claws to protect our furniture. We chose not to. Instead, we are very careful around those goats that have horn and we teach our children how to handle the goats properly to minimize any risk for injury. We understand that any animal, domestic or wild, no matter how friendly a pet seems- is an animal, not a reasoning human and they behave true to their animal natures.

What else COULD be done?

This is the question of the day:

Husbands, what do you do when your wife has been sick for 48 hours, is un-showered, schlepping around the couch in your PJ's acting just plain whiny and miserable?

 You bring her a wet goat kid to snuggle, of course!... And, you take pictures of it. Because, there is nothing to brighten a girl's day more than photographs of her looking her worst. LOL *shaking head* Being the good sport I am, I post these with the knowledge that my husband loves me and really was trying hard to comfort me in my germ ridden state. And, honestly, snuggling Asher did help. Poor guy was shaking from being cold and wet, he was clearly more miserable than I. I doubt the added scent of goat did much to improve my overall condition, but at least, I felt better.

Asher got warm and dry as we both took a little nap on a blanket on the couch. (That blanket is currently waiting its turn to visit the washing machine today, but worth it.)
Have a good day, Folks! The sun has finally come out here!
Sonja ♥

Monday, April 23, 2012

Jedi "helping" tarp the new barn

We had hoped to get farther along in the building of the new barn, but with a Special Assembly Day on Saturday, a day of needed rest and work on this inside of this home on Sunday's rainy afternoon, followed by torrential rains today, it was not to be. We were able to frame up three 10'x10' rooms, sheathed the bottom portion of these and tarped the roof to help protect the critters from the wet.

The goats enjoying the shade in their new stall.

Jedi was intently interested in helping with the building process. Like Visa, Jedidiah was "everywhere Sean wanted to be." This delighted me, to be honest. Sean less so. I was a little nervous that Jedi would try to play with the ladder (with his horns) to the detriment of Sean's life or limb. There were a couple of test butts, but Sean remained on the ladder and intact to my relief. After, I helped Sean by holding the tarp in place while he secured it, Sean rewarded Jedi by playing with him in the field.

The photo on the right is of old barn totally gone and two 10'x10' rooms are framed and an old tarp thrown over to provide shade.
The lower picture shows the three 10'x10' rooms framed. We had started sheathing the building.  

The next phase is to frame out the milk room, tack room, and kidding stalls. These will also double as isolation areas in case an animal must be separated for a short period of time. The rain is supposed to end this week, so the work will commence, again.

Sonja ♥

Kool Katz

TASMANIAN DEVIL: Tasmanian Devil is a orange and white stray cat that loves Doritos. He is an amazing hunter. He likes to bring his catch inside. Mom doesn't find this funny. I do. Tasmanian Devil is the most beautiful cat I've ever seen!

MACHIAS: Machias is a gray and white cat that loves everyone. And I mean EVERYONE! He'll rub up against you or lick you. He's not a good hunter like Tasmanian. He'd probably just try to lick the prey. Not joking. He's not as pretty as Tas, but he's still pretty. I like him like that.

VEGO: Vego is a beautiful gray cat that is always hunting. Vego is a better hunter than Taz. He is also the youngest. We haven't seen him in a while, but we're not worried because he always comes back. Vego's mother is my sister Caitlin's cat, Spot. His brothers are: Machias, Erikye, Boogie, Britainica, and Caledonian. Taz is not his brother.

ERIKYE: Erikye is a black and white cat that loves to sleep on top a the freezer. He enjoys taking long naps on his little spot. Erikye looks just like his mother. They have the same spots. They could be twins. Erikye is only three years old.

"LITTLE BLACK CAT"- Little black cat is a mystery, he is either Britianica or Caledonian. We think he is Caledonian. But the two are twins so it's hard to tell. They looked the same. One of them died, he got hit by a car, but we don't know which one. So we renamed him Little Black Cat.

Other information: Taz is three years old, Machias is also three, Vego is only two, little black is three, Erikye is three, Zoe is four or five, and Spot is five. Spot and Zoe are sisters. Zoe is gray and stripey. She belongs to my sister, Caitlin, but she still livees here.

You've just met the Kool Katz! Thank you for reading this.

Since Meaghan wrote this yesterday, Vego was spotted outside eating some food on the porch. All of our cats are spayed or neutered, but that doesn't stop the boys from wandering, especially Vego, Erikye and Little Black Cat. We have 3 cats that like to come inside and regularly live with us in our house and around the barns. They are Tasmanian, Machias, and Zoey. The other boys go off hunting and return days, weeks, or sometimes, months later. I would prefer the cats remain tame and live inside. They would prefer to be wild and free, living in the barns and out buildings.

Sickness and Rain Gang Together... Uggh

It has been a long and dreary couple of days. The nasty, cold, wet weather and this head cold I have the beginnings of, makes me feel... blah. That means, no pictures or video to share from the weekend. Thankfully, I also have one of God's most precious gifts; a kind and capable husband. I don't have many updates to the farm's goings-ons because Sean has kindly cared for the beasts these past couple of days, allowing me to sleep, rest, and take it easy on myself. For that, I am so appreciative.

This rain has been relentless with wide spread power outages in the Bangor area reported. For us, that has also meant that the temporary tarp roofing over the new barn framing has been subject to an onslaught of water and wind. The combination won out today and ripped over part of the horse's stall. Sean spent his lunch repairing it. She doesn't seem to mind this weather; I have seen her in the field most of the morning grazing on the greening grass. In contrast, the goats have chosen to huddle under their shelter, clever creatures that they are. The rain is supposed to let up over night and stop mid morning tomorrow, with occasional showers through the rest of the week. I am looking forward to that!

One good thing, Sean has reported that one of the female mallards that had flown the coop last week, decided to return to the warmth and safety of captivity. We are hopeful the other runaway will either be similarly inclined, or join a wild flock for safety from other predators.

More later!
Sonja ♥

Meaghan's Morning: Video with Jasmine

Friday, April 20, 2012

Meaghan's Morning

My name is Meaghan Sanders. I live in Frankfort, Maine on a farm. I love my farm because of all the animals. When I see the little babies head-butting each other, it makes me feel like I am one of them; like I am a baby goat.

This morning, I had to feed and water the chickens, the goats, and my horse. My Mom will help.  It's pretty easy. I am a farm girl.

This is what I had to do: I had to give my horse 2 scoops of grain in her blue bucket. She decided she wanted to squish my finger. I was holding her bucket and she put her head into it, which is kind of big, for a horse. I didn't hold the bucket for long; I put it down and jumped on her back, instead!
Then, we gave the goats 5 scoops of grain in the wooden trough for Jedi, Leah, Rachel, and Pepper. In the black bucket, Ellie and her babies get 2 scoops of grain. The grain is part dairy goat pellets and part sweet feed. I turned on the hose and Mom filled 2 big buckets with water for the goats and then, filled the large blue water barrel for Jasmine.

Next, we gave the chickens 4 scoops of cracked corn and layer mash, mixed together. We fed them 1 scoop in a bowl in the yard and 3 scoops in the feeder in their coop. I checked for eggs. This morning, I found 4 duck eggs in the coop. One fuzzy foot chicken was still in her nest box, so I let her sit there and didn't take any chicken eggs. I rinsed the red base of the chicken water jug while Mom cleaned the inside. It holds 7 gallons of water, so we put it back on the brick in the yard before we filled it with clean water for the chickens. It is too heavy to carry!

Then, Mom fed the pigs 2 scoops of grain in their feeder and filled their water tub. I picked out 2 duck eggs from the top of the clutch of eggs in the nest. Mom and I brought them inside to the bathroom. We turned out all the lights and checked the eggs with a flashlight. Mom held the flashlight behind the egg to shine the light on the egg to see if it was fertilized. Unfortunately, so far, it seems not. We put the eggs back into the nest because we didn't know for sure if it was fertilized or not. We will check again in 2 weeks.

After I put the eggs back, I chased Buster, who wanted to play with a friend next door; the neighbor's German Shepherd! I caught him and brought him inside. As soon as I brought him inside, Buster ran into the living room and laid down. He was tired out!

Asher was standing on his mother's back!
And, I...  wrote this!

Goodbye My Kind Folks!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Meet the Boys...

Aloysius: part Rhode Island Red/Black Rock/Cochen
So, I never intended on having roosters. I was afraid to after hearing horror story after horror story of vicious attacks on people and hens, alike. And, since we weren't hatching any chicks, we really didn't need any. Chickens lay just fine with or without a male around. In fact, since we only wanted to see eggs, getting a rooster seemed silly.

Aloysius can CROW!

That changed once I met Aloysius at the Common Ground Fair. A "Barnyard Beauty", he had lovely coloring to go along with his mixed heritage and was smaller than the other roosters. I attempted to pet him and succeeded with keeping all my digits. He was only $5 and we had started talking about raising some chicks this year... so, he came home with us to meet his new flock of ladies. To be honest, they did not think much of him at first; mostly choosing to ignore him. I remember with a smile the first morning I awoke to his crowing "good morning" at 5 am. How had I lived without that sound before?

Rufeo cannot crow. It starts fine, but goes horribly amiss.  
Then, came the morning, that there were two distinct crowing calls heard; one loud and proud, one feeble, but a crow nonetheless. We had started to suspect one of our female Americauna's was, in fact, a male. But, since neither Sean nor I can tell them apart until they begin to crow around 5 months, it remained only a suspicion, until we caught him actually crowing. (Experts can correctly sex them as chicks. Not I. They all look the same to me.) Within a few more months, two others of our supposed flock of all hens, began crowing. That brought the total rooster count to four. Where it has stayed, thankfully.

Sebastian is a beautiful Americauna boy. He dances!
Our lads are pretty, precocious, and pleasant. They  do not bite nor attempt to gouge with their talons, which I appreciate. They often dance for their girls to gain their affections. If this doesn't woo a hen, a rooster might resort to a sneak attack from behind. The offended hen left with ruffled feathers and annoyance at the disruption to her scratching for bugs. Sometimes, the hens won't stand for the attempt at romance, choosing instead to kick their would-be Romeo and run him off with clucking admonishments to the delight of the other hens. The general air being one of "it serves you right!"

White Snake was supposed to be an Americauna hen. Ooops!
I am glad we chose to add to our flock and keep the roosters we have been blessed with. They provide much in the way of entertainment. They all have different personalities. Some can really crow, others let out just pathetic attempts. Some dance. Others run away from the hens. They all make me smile and I guess, that is all that really matters in the end. ♥

Broody Duck and Angelus

Our ducks have decided that the current piggie pen is also part of their domain. They have devised an opening in the door which separates pens and they slide through it at their whim. No amount of persuasion has stopped this practice from continuing. And, my only consolation is that the piggies in question are being relocated soon, down over the hill, to a new home and the current piggie enclosure will become part of an expanded bird area. It is a consolation, but it did not prevent neither Sean nor I from becoming annoyed every time we checked the piggies to see a duck or a chicken wandering about in there.

Usually, we shoo them back to their own side of the pen. Sean entered the piggie pen to do just that yesterday on his afternoon "egg collection tour", when he discovered this... a nest of mallard eggs and one chicken egg against the wall, in the hay, on the far side of the pig shelter. When Sean discovered the nest, it was being vehemently guarded by a hissing Momma duck and her mate, both refusing to give up their eggs. At first, Sean thought that there were only a couple eggs in the nest, but on closer inspection, he counted 12 eggs.
We discussed removing the eggs from the nest. We had planned on getting an incubator and trying to hatch some duck eggs ourselves this year. So, we decided to wait and see what would happen, if we left them to their Mother's care, instead. Our intention is to remove the day old ducklings and raise them inside. This will help to tame them. It will also prevent the piggies from attempting to eat the hatchlings, if they are still in residence when the hatching occurs.

It may come to nothing. This is all new territory for us, so we aren't really confident about what will happen. But, we are hopeful that we might have our first clutch of ducklings to sell in a few weeks. It takes roughly 28 days before they will begin to hatch. I have marked my calendar to "candle" the eggs on April 30th, about 2 weeks into the cycle. We should be able to see a duckling forming. Then, the eggs should start to hatch around May 11th.

We'll keep you posted.
Sonja ♥

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Abigail and Asher Playing April 15, 2012

These kids are so full of mischief! Running and playing for hours, a quick drink from Mom, a short snooze and it is back to romping once again. Rachel and Leah often get into the act, bucking heads and tusseling in good fun. I could watch them play all day and did for hours at a time while simultaneously holding up walls while Sean secured them into place.

Only 2 weeks old, the kids have found their footing (most of the time); they climb onto and around anything they can find! This day, it was part of the old wall, momentarily dropped into their field.

Like cats with catnip, none of the goats could resist dancing on the boards and sliding down them. Pepper thought the cedar shingles were delicious. Jedi tried his share, too, but decided that fresh plywood and the pallets we put up across the doorways temporarily, to prevent them out from under our feet or escaping, were more to his taste. Goats really will try to eat just about anything!

Building a New Barn: Part 1

Tack room empty and ready to be dismantled.
After only 5 years of hard use, our old horse barn is being retired. Not completely, of course. We frugal Mainers are full of that "Old Yankee Ingenuity". The recent movement towards "green living" and recycling has been in use in this neck of the woods for longer than my existence. "Reclaimed wood"? That's just fancy talk for using what you already have, again. Whether it be logs reclaimed from bayous in the south or ripping down old barns and reusing any good wood and metal from them, it is all part of the same thing. It is a good thing, to be sure.

Our current chicken coop measures 8'x8'x8'. The walls are framed with reused 2x4's and covered with OSB; the roof is covered with plywood and tar paper, just waiting for the asphalt shingles from the old barn to be re-purposed for the new coop. The floor is planked with 2x6 boards from someone else's old goat barn torn down earlier this year. The new coop is a sturdy, draft free building which will give us years of use. Total cost out of pocket for materials? Less than $75 and the time it took to tear down and clear some one's unused, unwanted, old barn. That is recycling at its best.

Sean and Tristan S. carefully removing the roof shingles.
We are doing similarly in terms of building our new 20x30 barn. Large and spacious, the new barn blue print has been redesigned at least four times and will probably be revised at least that many more before the building is finished. We are using as much material as we can, from what was already on hand. For example, we were able to salvage the goat door Sean constructed a couple years ago and two sliding windows from the horse stall. Sean's brother and sister donated 2 brand new windows from their recent house remodel. These will give the milk room lots of light and a nice breeze. As we carefully removed screws or nails from the old barn, these were sorted into buckets of usable and recyclable, the latter to go to the scrap yard with the next load; why throw away good money? Some wood was too damaged or worn to be reused, these went into the burn pile.

Our helper Tristan worked hard.
It is hard work. The kind of hard work that has you dozing off while waiting for your supper to finish cooking. The kind of hard work that makes you excited for your bed at 8:30 or 9:00pm. The kind of work that puts a smile of satisfaction on your face when you think of all you have accomplished... before you realize just how much more there is to go. But, this is the life we have always wanted, Sean and I, even if we didn't know it. It is hard work more than physically, though. Especially for the tender hearted.

As the walls came down, being on the roof became more precarious.
The goats were keenly interested in the new goings on in their stall as things were either being taken apart, patched together for the moment, or reassembled in its new form. The most common thing heard Saturday was the exclamation, "Get out of that!" to one goat or another trying to help us by eating or chewing on anything they could. They were less helpful in the building process than you would think.

Two 10x10 stalls in the new barn. Chicken coop in back.

On Sunday, Leah began acting strangely. I checked her over and noticed what I thought was either diarrhea or constipation. Yes, I know the two are polar opposites, but I couldn't decide whether what I was looking at was a lump of soft droppings molded together, or a mound of hard dropping molded together. Either one could be very dangerous to goats. The trouble was, I wasn't positive which it was. In the couple of years since we had been keeping goats, we'd never had a case of either one. I went into the house and checked my favorite book (Goat School by Janice Spaulding). There was a recommendation to try Pepto Bismol or Vanilla yogurt for diarrhea. And, of course, keep the goat hydrated. Pedialyte or even, Gatorade work well for this purpose. I was not completely certain it was diarrhea, though. I logged into my favorite website, Fias Co Farm ( and found the recommendation to use Mineral Oil or lemon juice for constipation and a reminder to keep the goat hydrated. Hmmm... which was it?

Sean and I discussed the situation together, debated pros and cons, and hoped we would make the right call. We decided to give her some water mixed with A-Lyte solution made to help replace vitamins, amino acids, and electrolytes and to watch her. If we didn't see her relieve herself again soon, then, we would call our vet. I added the proper dose to the water bucket and went to retrieve her from the field.

Leah was walking around, nibbling in the field. At least, she was behaving like she was healthy, not listless or panting. She let out a soft cough or two and expelled a sack membrane with the front part of a 3 inch kid. Another cough and the sack was completely birthed and hanging from her by the umbilicus. She did not looked distressed. She didn't groan, pant, or sigh. She did continue eating from the field, picking here and there.

It took another 5 hours before the umbilicus was broken. It was awful! Leah did not attempt to sever the umbilicus herself, the way Ellie did with her full term normal birth. She didn't seem to notice anything was wrong, really. The umbilicus dried out and eventually, the fetal kid dropped into the field. Once it was detached, we removed and wrapped the fetal kid in a towel and Sean gave her a decent burial. I was still on "goat watch duty" because the placenta had not been delivered. We were told by an expert NOT to tug on the umbilicus to help along the delivery of the placenta, just to watch that any discharge remained bloody and relatively slight in amount, neither gushing, nor dark red-black, nor a yellow/green in color. It was suggested to give her some bootstrap molasses in some organic coffee, if we had any on hand. (We don't drink coffee, organic or otherwise, so we didn't.) and most difficult of all... to watch and wait.

Two days later, Leah seems as unaffected as she did during the ordeal.

Lesson Learned:
If you don't want the goats to decide when they will breed, separate them. Leah is a year old. Some goat farmers will breed their stock as young as 8 months as long as they are 80 pounds or so. We had not planned to breed her until this fall's 'in season time'. We, also, had not separated out Jedi from the herd yet. That move is coming with the completion of the new barn. Our plan is to arrange "dates" for Jedi and Asher (when he is of age) with the does. We want to decide when they breed and to whom. It makes more sense to us and how we want to run our family farm. I doubt Leah was in season; she couldn't have been more than a month or two along, by my guess. She certainly was not acting like she was in season, but these things can happen when bucks are living with the does.

Our plan is to continue to watch Leah. Goats often carry twins and can miscarry only one of them and deliver the other just fine. Or, if she is carrying another kid, she may lose it, too. So, we watch and wait and learn. If she is not pregnant with another kid, and we are hoping this is the case, we will attempt to breed her, Rachel, and Pepper in the fall. If she is pregnant, she won't get bred again until Fall of 2013.

Life on the farm can be hard both physically and emotionally.

Friday, April 13, 2012


I have updated the pages (located to the right of the semi-daily blog posts, directly under my picture---->) for "Horse", "Goats", "Vietnamese Pot Belly Pigs" and Ducks. I will be adding video to these posts shortly.

This has been a public service announcement. Thank you for your time.

Patches knows her name.AVI

I haven't written much about the piggies living with us, but I wanted to include this video from yesterday. Piggies are VERY intelligent. Some people claim their intelligence is greater than that of dogs. Our piggies are certainly more clever than at least 2 of our dogs, but don't tell them that; it would only serve to hurt their feelings.

Miss Patches was out enjoying the sunshine, rooting about in the afternoon, when I filmed this clip. She clearly answers to her name and when I speak to her, she comes to me wanting attention. I love that.

You may also notice the escaped Rhode Island Red hen in the piggie pen. I returned the wretched fowl and another who I found in with the goats, after filming. Sean nor I have seen their escape and cannot fathom how they are doing it. I think we are going to have to do something to tighten up their enclosure. Besides providing much entertainment, our ladies are laying over a dozen eggs each day, which around these parts equals CASH. It will not suit to allow the only critters on our farm that make us money (so far) to go wandering off to get eaten by a fox, neighboring dog, or other carnivore!

Hope you all have a great Friday!
Sonja ♥

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Meaghan with Jasmine April 2011.AVI

I reminded Meaghan to brush out Jasmine when she got home from school today. Meaghan inherited Jasmine from her older sister, Caitlin who married and moved into a city, not the best environment for keeping a horse. Jasmine has been part of our family for the past 5 years and during that time, Meaghan has learned to feed her, brush her, and ride bare-backed. "Ride" might be an overstatement, since Jasmine routinely refuses to go farther than 10 feet away from her feed bucket, but Meg sits on her back, facing forwards or backwards, fearlessly.

Jasmine loves to roll in mud and snow. The snow is not so bad, being made of water in the frozen state, it has the added benefit of almost washing her. Mud, on the other hand... not so much. Her most favorite time to roll in the field is after a good washing, of course.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Round Bales or Square Bales... hmmm...

Yesterday, we discovered that we need to find a new "hay person". Our neighbor, Valerie is running low on her supply and needs what she has left for her farm. She recommended a new source for us (until the weather really turns and the field grows) named Betty. This is a blessing, to find local bales of hay to use, but Betty uses round bales, which she will deliver for the fee of $45 each. Sean ordered two.

I will admit, I kind of freaked about this. In my opinion, round bales are too large for us to use them efficiently and therefore, there is too much waste. We were buying bales for $4/square bale. So, now that I can see straight, I guess this will be an experiment and/or a learning experience. Why are those always so unpleasant??? I am hoping it works out well. $90 is a lot of money around these parts for feed that may not work out well for us!

On the bright side, we have never had a very efficient way of feeding the bales of hay. This is what we do. We open the bales, remove the twine, and toss the goats' portion into their yard at the top of the hill, near their stall. The 'left over' hay invariably gets walked on through the day and spoiled by the next morning. Goats will not eat spoiled hay. So, this gets raked up and either spread over the field outside the paddock (we are attempting to raise the ground level eventually, or used as bedding for the goats for the evening and fresh hay is put out for feed. The hay used for bedding is raked out and either goes to reside in the aforementioned field (This field is not currently in use by the animals, by the way.) or goes into the compost pile for use down the road in our gardens. In this manner, it is not strictly wasted, but as it is not nourishing the goats, the result is very nearly the same.

The new round bales are easy to roll up to the outside of the fencing. Here, it is accessible to the goats by them pulling out hay in mouthfuls and eating it. When I went out to check the goats tonight, there was not much wasted and the bale was still fresh. I guess we'll see how it goes. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Mutinous Horde...

The setting: After a long day of working, Sean and I were blissfully looking forward to a quiet evening home together. Perhaps, a game of dominoes after the laundry was put into the machines and this morning's clean dishes were put away. Sounds nice, doesn't it?

Sadly, our critters had a different idea on the docket. Sean and I discovered, upon turning into our driveway, from working this rainy day, Miss Ellie and Leah walking about, grazing quite contentedly at the far corner of our house, no where near inside their barn nor paddock area. As we approached the house, we discovered the other 3 goats similarly inclined to being on the wrong side of their fencing.

A story in pictures....
This is not where you belong, Young Master Jedi. And, Miss Rachel, you are not to go into the grain room unescorted! Pepper and Leah are only too pleased to show Sean where they made their exit, through the side of the barn.

At first, Sean attempted to coax the goats back into the barn the same way they escaped. After wrestling with a 100+ pound Momma goat for a few minutes, he decided perhaps, there is a better way- GRAIN.
With grain in hand, Sean walked the herd to their gate, opened it, and allowed them to return home. Where were the kids during all this time? Curled up and snuggled in the stall--- out of the rain. Smart little wee things.

The goats repatriated to their homeland, Sean mended the wall, with the satisfaction of a man successfully defending his home against the machinations of his naughty herd. As if on cue, the skies opened up, pouring just buckets of rain on our hero. And, not to be outdone, one hen and 2 Mallard ducks had joined the coup. Little Rhode Island Red watches Sean's workmanship, but no match for Sean's wit and mad chicken wrangling skills, is quickly gotten back into her yard.
While all this fuss was happening, the ducks decide that retreat was the wisest course and promptly made a dash for the river that borders the far end of our field. Their ploy was successful. They happily splashed about while Sean tried to think of a way to elicit their recapture without having to go swimming himself. Not that it really mattered at this point, as he was drenched from the rain and muddy, to boot. You may notice the lack of pictures of this event. While I am sure it would have provided much entertainment (to me), like the goat kids, I chose to remain inside, slaving over the recording of this adventure, instead (read that: warm and dry).
As of this writing, the ducks remain in their freedom. The rain has passed and Sean is planning his next move in Operation Recapture Mallards, possibly involving the eager assistance of a Fenn dog, who would love nothing better than either swimming or chasing wayward fowl.


Asher and Abigail (April 7)

I am still getting the hang of embedding video clips and it is definitely a learning process!

I couldn't resist sharing this clip of the kids playing on the wood stacked in their paddock. They LOVE to climb and play, all the goats do. A favorite game is to be "King of the Pile". Most of the time, Jedi wins by default when the Does choose not to engage him in play, preferring to wander off to munch on nettles or dandelions instead. Sometimes, Ellie will decide the boy needs to be put in his place, and gives him a run for his money. Fascinating, how this curiosity and behavior are programmed into them. In this footage, the kids are only days old, and yet, they are already drawn to climbing on and exploring their wood stack.

That's all for now. It is a rainy, dreary day around the farm today and the animals have all wisely decided to remain inside and dry, save the ducks who find this weather to their liking; they have been laying in their yard, oblivious to the liquid sunshine, all morning! I prefer to stay where I am warm and dry, too, so I won't venture out to play today, either. Hope this breaks soon!

Sonja ♥
Sonja ♥

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Video Clip: Meaghan playing with Abigail (April 6, 2012)

As promised, video of Abigail playing with Buster and Meaghan. They had sooo much fun romping about the living room. ♥

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Nothing goes as planned, but it all works out in the end

April 7, 2012

So, my master plan was to:
1. Get up early
2. Clear the tools and trash bins from between the site of the old barn and the chicken coop.
3. Pause to shower and attend a memorial service for a friend from our congregation
4. Use reclaimed lumber (read that the 2x4's and 2x6's that Sean got from ripping down my Sister's old barn) to begin framing out 2 stalls in what will be the "new barn".
5. Clean the house for the Lia Sophia party I am hosting tomorrow night

Most of that plan... fell by the wayside in a beautiful cascade of unproductiveness. I won't go into details, other than to tell you that we did not frame out the barn and have to wait for the local EBS to deliver 2x4's to us... on Tuesday, since tomorrow is, a holiday for most people and stores are CLOSED.

What did get accomplished is that the wood pile of "reclaimed" lumber has begun to be sorted and any screws or nails still embedded in them removed. The area where construction is to begin has been cleared, raked, and waiting. And, the kids and Momma Ellie have been freed from their kidding stall to join the herd, to the delight of all. (This was deemed the wisest course after Abigail escaped into the main stall and paddock area by herself, without the protection of her Momma. No harm done, but better to have her Momma where she can be of best service.) As a personal note, we attended the gathering to celebrate the life of Bill Harvey, and at 8:30pm as this is being typed, Sean is finishing up the entry way cleaning to complete our household chores. So, though no actual construction has been done, I still feel like it has been a busy day at the very least.

One of the "blessings" in our life today was capturing the footage of Sean playing with the goats. In the clip already uploaded, you can see Rachel and Jedi climbing the wood we stacked for that purpose in their field. Rachel loves to snuggle and rub you, if you will let her get away with it. She is particularly fond of Sean's ears and collar. While he was in the fence today, she would NOT leave his side. I thought is was cute. Sean was less amused after a while, especially while he was trying his hand at checking Ellie's teats and attempting to discover how difficult milking her was going to be.

Sean milking Ellie for the first time. Rachel is not helping.
We (as in the "royal" we) did not get her into her "milking stand." Nor, did we use any of the sanitation practices necessary (other than having clean hands) because we were not planning on using any milk he liberated today. Kind of funny, but Sean hadn't milked a goat personally before and now that we had a goat producing milk, he wanted to see for himself just how it was done. We, of course, have a book about it. We have plenty of time to get some practice in before it really counts. We have decided that Ellie's kids will have exclusive use of her milk for the first 2 weeks- and then, starting next Sunday, we begin milking each morning. Sean's first attempt at obtaining milk was successful and he reported, fairly easy to carry out. I am glad of that, for all our sakes!

I also took footage today of the babies playing on the wood pile. It is uploading now and I will post it in the morning for you all to enjoy.

Rachel was very nosy, checking everything out today
Good night for now,
Sonja ♥

Abigail and Meaghan April 6, 2012

So, I have figured out that I may have the slooooowwwwweeeessssttttt Internet speed known in the free world. What that means to me is that a 15 second video clip takes about an hour to upload. What that means to you is that I will be about a day behind in uploading any video clips, so check back often for them, friends. In the meanwhile, I will try to include still pictures of the day's doings.

I try to spend some time each day with the new babies, individually. I want them to be very tame and not to fear us. They will eventually know and respond to their own names. It also gives me an opportunity to look them over for any signs that there might be something wrong. Usually, this time is spent outside with them or in their stall.

Sometimes, especially at night or when Sean is not home to protest, I might bring one of them inside with me. The first obvious question is, "What if they relieve themselves or leave pellets inside." This is possible, of course, but has not happened yet. They are only inside for short periods of time and most of that time, they are curled in my lap being petted.

Yesterday, Meaghan and Kristen were home from school and it posed the perfect opportunity to capture some footage of them interacting with the new goats. Kristen declined to be photographed for this post, but Meaghan was only too willing. And, keep your eyes peeled for some posts from her soon!

I have video of this and will attempt its upload later tonight, but for now, I wanted to share these pictures. Our terrier, Buster, was very excited to play with this new creature. But, after a short romp, Abigail was ready for a nap.