Friday, September 5, 2014

Summer Days

Barn Envy! :)
Adventure Day!
Jemima (in front) and
Ethan (in back)
Sean and I were so pleased with the does, Delilah and Cassie that we purchased from our friend, Carla Hamilton of Udderly Blessed Goat Dairy and Homestead in Littleton, Maine. We knew that we wanted to add a registered Lamancha buck to our herd this year from them. We were thrilled when we contacted them and learned that they had the perfect one born this spring for us. A five hour drive (round trip) to pick up a couple goats may seem excessive to some, but Sean and I enjoyed the time together and these goat kids were well worth the added time and effort.

True to their naturally curious nature, Ethan and Jem's help building the additional garden beds (planned to accommodate and add to this year's CSA shares), was under-appreciated by Sean. I admit, I took a little delight in watching the building process in the midst of goat noses knocking over Sean's screws, tools, and materials. Eventually, I took pity on Sean and helped corral our new babies and the rest of the herd into the back yard where they could graze to their hearts' content and get better acquainted with everyone.

Our lad, Amos, is growing slower than the rest of the kids from this spring, but he is making progress and eats his weight in feed each day. Born to Haddie (a year earlier than we would have liked to breed her thanks to Asher), he was our smallest kid.

We've had to treat him for worms several times this summer, which has been a slow and steady process to try to get them under control. It looks like we're gaining ground, but worms have hit us HARD this year and our "go-to" wormer, Ivemectin, is not having its usual results. We've heard from neighbors that they, too, been hit extra hard with worms this year. It scares me that perhaps the worms have adapted and we'll need to switch to another worming choice. As part of our protocol, we're diligent in cleaning stalls regularly and opened new woodlands for them to graze. Moving them entirely to another piece of land for a couple years would be best, but that is not an option for us at this point.

New woodlands mean new trees to browse. Everyone knows the
BEST leaves are the ones highest up!
Opening up new fields and woods has led to lots of interest and speculation for the goats. Everyone is eager to see what is in store for them. I love this image. Please note that the goats are IN a new pasture area with tall grasses and ripe leafy trees. Satisfied? Nope. All the nosy does care about is what their humans are doing to expand their fencing in their old field. The grass may be fresher and taller in their new field, but it seems their old one looks greener to them. Silly goaties!

I enjoyed playing with my camera to take some close ups of the creatures I saw in the field while taking a break from watching Sean and his Dad setting posts for the new fencing.

It is such a treat to have Daddy Dale here for the summer and, as always, he is a tremendous help around the farm. This year, the focus has been on clearing out the alders and cutting down any hardwood trees that we worry won't make it through the winter. If we are to lose the tree, better to cut it and use the firewood to heat our home and the leaves to supplement feed for the goats than to have it rot and waste the wood. This has been a bit of a balancing act. We cut enough for the goats to strip in a day and remove the smaller twig like branches for the bonfire before cutting and stacking the trunks and larger branches to dry. Nothing goes to waste on the farm. Not even leaves. Alders are fantastic trees for us and we are blessed with an abundance of them. Cutting them down exposes the land to more light which encourages thicker grasses to take root while the Alders recover and grow back. And, they do grow back with a vengeance. If done in balance, this cutting, using and regrowth cycle augments our wood supply and our goat's diet nicely.

We leave the hardwoods and pines alone so long as they are healthy. They provide shade and add visual interest to the fields. Clearing the land in this manner gives us an added incentive: predator control. With fox, coyotes, fishers and other predators in the woods our free ranging animals and even the goats can become prey. It is not uncommon for predators to stalk within tall grasses and dense forests where they can hide easily and creep close, unnoticed by their target. Exposure, along with scent marking from other predatory animals (Sean, the dogs, and cats) is an added deterrent to their unwanted visits to our property. 

Not all visitors are unwelcome. We enjoyed a lovely few weeks visiting with Sean's brother, Ryan and his family. One day, this little guy came to spend a few minutes with us.

This Eastern Newt was in its terrestrial, juvenile stage. It was almost completely orange and red. At this stage, it is called a Red Eft. Miss Abigail got her turn to hold this one for a couple minutes before we returned it to it's home in the woods- out the sight of wandering chickens and other fowl.

Abby's Mom, Kimmy got to spend her own day at the homestead. The goats liked her attention fine, especially Jem. Sweet Girl folds up for easy carrying and loved the boost to reach the sweet tender leaves, taller than she could reach on her own. Jem is heavier than she looks and after a few minutes of extra special attention, she was back on her own hooves to browse at will.

Asher. Born to us April 1, 2012 of Ellie. 
I am convinced that goats can teleport. Much of this summer was spent attempting to keep Asher inside the buck stall and fields. Despite our best efforts to contain him, Asher wanders at will. He spends most days trying to accost our vegetable garden or even better, gain access into the does' stall. One day this summer, Asher got out and entered the does' pasture just before Sean had to leave for work. Without the time to discover his latest escape route, Sean tethered him inside an empty, locked, 10x10 stall. Not ideal, but with enough room to stand, move a short distance, or lay down and with fresh water and food available to reach, it would do for a couple hours until Sean's return at lunch. At lunch, Sean walked directly to the stall to see what needed doing. A moment later, our front door opened with a whoosh to Sean's excited exclamation of "Sonja, you have to see this!" I followed Sean to the barn to marvel that Asher had succeeded in- not only unlatching himself from the clip attached to his collar and escaping into the doe field, but tethered in his place was little Jem looking bewildered as to how and why she was attached to the stall. Teleportation, I say. Since this incident, staunching Asher's escape attempts has become a fairly regular game. The image above was captured Monday from my front porch. Instead of being contained, Asher spent the morning eating from the duckweed in the front yard. It is going to be interesting when the does start to go "into season".

Remember this??? Miss Molly has lost all her sweet puppy looks and is growing into a smart and lovely addition to our homestead. At nine months, she has years of training ahead of her, but already knows these commands: sit, stay, lay down, come, off, up, down, touch, crawl, roll over, get it, tug, find it and leave it. With a treat in hand, she is nearly 100% accurate. Without one??? Well... that's a bit harder to judge. If she is in the mood, she'll obey immediately. If she is distracted by new people, insects, random thoughts, her mood or whim, she will look at you and consider what's in it for her. As I said, a work in progress, but give her some more time and attention and we'll have just the dog we want and will have earned. ♥

There have been other additions to the homestead and a couple hard losses, too. We enjoyed the best garden we've ever cared for. So much more to relate to you. I need to leave those for another day. For now, I am so glad that you are all still there with us. I enjoy writing about our adventures here and sharing snippets on our facebook page. Thanks so much for the company, friends. We're very glad you are here.

~Sean & Sonja ♥


  1. nicely summed up the summer. :) can't wait to hear more. Hey maybe if there is time you could put on some recipes for fall. apple pies? cherie

  2. I enjoyed this so much. I loved my time on the farm!