Sunday, June 23, 2013

Love My Goats!


A few years ago I had two Pygmy does.  They were horrid!  You could pet them, but they were hell bent on escaping.  After weeks of finding goats roaming the yard, the pair was re-homed to the home I got them from.  This little herd,  I am in love with.  I'm not sure if having bottle babies and milking one has helped, but they are wonderful.  Webby keeps the little ones in check.  The goats know exactly where there pen is, and if they feel threatened high tail it back to the safety of the fence.  I let them roam the yard, mowing the little bit of grass we have and enjoying slash and brush.  I love peaking out the windows and seeing my little herd happily munching away.  There's a sense of peace watching the group traverse the mountainside.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Unfortunately, we've had a fairly dry spring out here in the Rockies.  Colorado has been plagued with devastating forest fires for weeks.  We were even evacuated in one fire a little too close to home.  Thank God, the past few days have brought the glorious moisture down from Heaven.  The air cools, the pine pollen is knocked from the trees, and the fire danger decreases slightly.  The weather forecasters are talking more heat and less rain over the next week.  Tonight, I'll sit and enjoy the cool breezes slipping through the house and the rhythmic ping of rain drops on the metal gutters.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The Pollen is Upon Us

The hottest, driest days in mid-June seem to be when the dredded pine pollen decides to pop.  Temperatures "down the hill" sore into the upper 90s, and there is no relief in the mountains; we're in the 80s.  The heat forces the windows in the house to remain open in hopes that a cooling breeze will waft through.  The cooling breeze brings pine pollen on its heels.  

My home is currently covered in a thin yellow dust.  Try as I may to combat my stealthy adversary, it advances in droves.  My car is currently yellow, my floors gritty, and every available flat surface has fallen prey to the pollen.  Six times yesterday did I clean the stove only to return moments later to find it covered once again.  I toy with the idea of waiting to dust, knowing full well that my hard work will futile if I do.  Yet, I know if I don't try to combat my yellow enemy allergies will increase in my home.  

Now, I sit praying for much needed rains to come.  Rains that will wash our numerous pines of their pollen and bring cleanliness to my home once more.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Dances with Goats, Part 2

Life has been an adventure since the goats arrived.  Webby and I have finally settled into a good milking routine.  I'm still a painfully slow, clumsy milker, but the job is getting done.  After a week of struggling, frustration, and getting my hands kicked; I had my Goat Guru come out to see what was the problem.  It was an easy fix, move the milk stand!  I had been bringing Webby up to our deck to milk, which was too far away from the herd.  The milk stand was moved next to the goat pen a couple weeks back, and Webby is happy as a clam.  She's milked every morning around 8:15 am and gives me about 10 ounces of milk.  That may not seem like a lot, but I'm milking a very small goat who is still nursing a doeling.  At the moment I'm toying with the idea of milking twice a day to get more milk.  The sweet, rich Nigerian Dwarf milk is excellent in coffee.

Luna, our LaMancha doeling, is weaned and thriving.  I'm thinking of selling her because I like the smaller Nigerian Dwarf breed better.  Tanner, our recently wethered LaMancha, is weaning now and not too happy about it.  My future hope for him is to become a companion for Lil Bit.  Pipsqueak is sill as clingy as ever.  You can't open the gate to the goat pen without Pippy racing out to see you.  He has been wethered as well.  Buck goats are incredibly rude and disgusting, and I really don't want one around.  Pippy will get bigger, but stay sweet.  He's little Sweet Candy's best buddy, so I want to keep the dynamic duo together.  Bucks need to stay separated from the does for a multitude of reasons. 

My goals now for my goats are milk for coffee, cheese, and possibly soap.  I'd like to breed Webby this fall for spring babies.  Sweet Candy will be bred in the spring for fall babies.  This way I'll always have milk, and the sales of their offspring can fund my insanity.  The girls are also considering joining 4-H, so they can show the Nigis.  Webby is registered and the two little ones will be soon.  I'm looking forward to seeing this little enterprise grow and flourish.


I'm always excited for the summer season: the warm weather, break from school, getting organized, being lazy.  Summer never seems to work that way.  I look at summer as a time to relax, but we're always busier now than during the school year.  Play dates with friends, sports, and activities for the kids take up the majority of time.  I look outside and see a multitude of tasks that need to be completed before winter.  My schedule is filled with Westernaire activities and prep for football.  I feel guilty sitting down with a good book, basking in the sun; while laundry needs to be done and the house needs a good scrubbing.  I know some of these things can wait, but I can't help thinking of summer as a time to take back control of the house and yard.  Maybe someday I'll learn to relax!   

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sunday Night at the Ranch

Hubby is asleep in front of The Voice.  I do agree with this, I do find the show that boring.  Zzzzzzzzz!  Nathan has decided to chase the fox that thinks we're his family.  Chloe is wearing an orange wig, and has placed a pillow in her rear so she can be Nicki Minaj.  Ella is riding her bike wearing PJ pants and a rabbit skin coat.  Sammy is donning a cowboy hat and riding her bucking bike.   I am writing about the mountain crazy I am currently witnessing.  

Off to tick off a goat.  Baby is having a sleepover, so I can milk mama in the morning. Good night folks!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Dances with Goats

It has been nearly two weeks since WebiGayle and Sweet Candy, two Nigerian Dwarf goats, came to Big Buck Ranch.  Webby has definitely gotten more comfortable with me, but we still have our battles.  After a week in her little pen with her daughter, Sweet Candy, Webby figured out how to escape.  She'd hop onto the roof of her house, then onto the roof of the neighboring chicken coop, hop to the roof of the badly neglected rabbit hutch, and into the chicken run.  Poor Webby then gets stuck on the outside looking at the crying baby doeling in the goat pen.  After a day and half of high flying escapes, I added a cattle panel to the top of Webby's roof.  That stopped her temporarily until she discovered that she could get on the roof and hop over the gate.  Try as I might to keep her in, she figured out how escape even through the tiniest gap.

Friday, I spent my morning rebuilding my goat pen.  The fence line was extended to the edge of my shed/coop/ horse stall/all purpose building.  The gate was moved, climbing toys rearranged, and my two La Mancha kids moved over.  Pipsqueak, our 3 week old Nigerian Dwarf buckling, went to to join his buddies, too.  Webby has tried to get on the roof to figure out how to escape only to learn she can only hop back in.  Score one for me!

Now we need to work on milking time.  The new step up has slightly stressed Webby out.  There are new goats in her pen she needs to learn to live with.  Poor little Sweet Candy gets upset when mama goes off for the milk.  I'm learning how to milk, so I'm painfully slow.  Webby seems to get bored with me after a bit and kicks.  As soon as we're done she's trying to make a mad dash back to baby.  I am getting the hang of things.  This has definitely been a test of patience, something I pray about often.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day 2013

Loved my family, loved my critters, built a greenhouse, planted veggies, has a yummy breakfast, built a milk stand, battled a milk goat (I won), covered in milk, time to shower!!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Tanner is 1 Week Old

Never a Dull Moment

At this very moment Big Band music is blaring in the background.  The boys just finished a wrestling match in the living room.  One child has decided we have overworked her today, and stomped upstairs because she was asked to empty the baby bottle out of the dish drainer.  The dishwasher isn't working, so my other dishwashers are doing whatever they can to avoid that task.  The small dogs are outside, the big dogs are in shock, and the not so cranky girls are chasing a tiny, baby goat around the kitchen.  What are you doing tonight?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Our New Goat Pen

My Little Farmgirl

While the rest of my daughters love playing outside, riding bikes, loving baby animals, digging in the garden; dear, sweet Ella prefers farming on the computer.  The other day she got some new chickens.  Where did I ever go wrong!

Got Goats?

After the few days prior day from H-E-L-L, yesterday we had a fun day.  I'm on a quest for a goat in milk.  Yes, I am slightly crazy.  Yes, I am a glutton for punishment.  I've been researching, reading, chatting with goat owners, and I think the Nigerian Dwarf may be the right breed for us.  They stand under two feet tall and weight under forty pounds.  Adorable, petite, and they don't take up a lot of space.  PLUS, they're babies are cute as heck!!!

Nigis produce milk high in butterfat which is very good for cheese and soap making.  Yes, you can drink it too!  At the moment my favorite part about them is due to their small stature they don't produce enormous amounts of milk.  Right now I would only have one milker, but I don't want a gallon a day.  Yes, I could make stuff out of it, but I'd have milk coming out of my ears.  So, it looks like a cute lil Nigi will work best.

Sooooo, yesterday we took a short trek to meet some very sweet Nigerian Dwarf goats.  The girls spent the day in farm heaven while I talked goat.  I'm interested in a a Nigi who recently kidded.  Her name is Webigale, anyone remember Ducktales?  It's been years since I've thought about that show.  Anyway!!  Webby won't come to live with us until her baby is bigger; which at the moment is fine with me.  I'd rather have a bottle baby or two weaned before I take on a new time consuming endeavor.  In the meantime I can go visit the goat babies and the freezer overflowing with rich goats milk.   

Friday, April 26, 2013

Peace at Last

Yesterday was the day from H-E-L-L.  If this is what 37 is going to be like; I'd like to be 36 again please.  UGH!!  After all of the stress, frustration, anger, and yes tears it was a 6 day old goat that settled me.  Finally back home, I was in the lamb/goat pen, cuddling little Tanner while his buddies played at my feet, I found peace.  A pink and orange sunset was filtering through the trees, and the only sound came from the babies around me.  I finally relaxed, let go, found peace in the quiet of dusk.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Goat Milk Before Coffee

At barely 6am, I'm not thinking about my first cup of coffee, well I sort of am; I'm thinking about the 4 day old baby goat in the basement bleating for his baba.  As the coffee trickles into the pot, I'm heating up 6 ounces of livestock milk replacer.  With a quick swig of coffee in me, I'm off to cuddle Tanner, and give him his baba.  I snuggle the tiny Lamanche cross in my lap as he sucks down five ounces of milk.  Tanner is much calmer than our lambs and much quieter.  His little bleats are silent compared to our boisterous lambs  His little body cuddles up against my chest as he nurses without stopping.

Tanner's buddy, Luna, been moved outside to the big girl pen with the lambs.  Her constant escape of the pen I Frankensteined out of wire dog crates had become an issue.  I didn't want Luna to injure a leg hopping out or getting into mischief in the basement.  I feel bad that she's been banished to the out of doors, but she'll be much safer.  Tanner has a gaggle of adoring fans who spend the majority of their day cuddling and fawning over him.  Once he's a bit bigger he'll join the girls outside.  In the meantime, our sweet little buckling will have to endure constant attention from his fans.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

It's official...

looks like round 1 brought us about a foot.

It's beginning to look alot like Christmas...

One of my girls even asked when we were getting our tree.  It looks more like mid-January out my window than April 16.  Yesterdays, snow dumped at least a foot on us, and the never correct weather people are threatening us with another 6+ inches of the heavy, white stuff.  Yuck!  So much for garden plans and fence building.  I'm stuck inside planning the farm, and plotting against my hubby.  How hard would it be to keep a milk goat?  We wouldn't have to buy milk from the store again.   What would happen if I cross breed wool sheep with hair sheep?  Maybe it's time to stop daydreaming and clean the house.  

Actually, I'm being glared at by a hungry pony while I sit here procrastinating.   I'm not ready to leave the warmth of my house and coffee for a trip into Antarctica.  I used to laugh at the folks in Alaska with their 9 months of winter;  I can't do that anymore because we get the same weather here in the Rockies minus the subzero temps.  Ironically during our spring storm I caught a glimpse of robins playing in the pines.  They're a sign of spring, right?  Maybe we'll get lucky and mud season will begin soon!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

We have survived week one with our two sweet bottle lambs.  Cosette, or Cozy as we like to call her, turns three weeks old today.  She is slowly warming to "baba time," and will only take about 3 ounces of sheep milk replacer at a time.  Cozy does have a love of alfalfa; I watched her chow down on that yesterday.  Chloe has become her baba buddy; Cozy does best when Chloe gives her a bottle.  Luckily our tiny little lamby is gaining weight and growing!

Juliet, will be 5 weeks old tomorrow.  She is definitely better at her bottle than her tiny counter part.  Jules will easily take 6 ounces at a time, and does a happy lamb dance while she eats.  She is even starting to baa loudly when we come out; Jules knows where dinner comes from.  She is the more assertive lamb; Cosette just follows in her big sisters foot steps.  

Baba time has become easier throughout the week.  There is still a bit of lamb wrestling to get the girls to eat, but they actually follow us around to get their bottles.  Juliet, baas when I come outside and call to her.  I wonder if she thinks she can coerce me into an extra snack.  We have quite a few more weeks of bottle time.  Both girls will be weaned when they turn eight weeks old.  All of my little girls are enjoying watching the lambs grow and getting cuddle time.  Soon we'll try to complete the flock, so we can have lambs next spring.  The goal is to raise the sheep or their beautiful wool and for our freezer.

Sweet Lil Lambs


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Mmmmm, yummy!!

Ironically this recipe comes from a joke app, but it works and it's delicious!!

Brownies in a Cup

  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 2 Tbsp. cocoa
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 Tbsp. oil
  • 3 Tbsp. Water

  1. add all dry ingredients in a large mug
  2. add oil and water
  3. mix until it's consistent
  4. put in microwave and cook for 2:30 minutes or until consistency is cake like
  5. cool and enjoy!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Tale of Snow and Shed in a Box

Ahhh, springtime in the Rockies.  I have a love hate relationship with the month of April.  I love it because it's my birth month.  I love it because of the promise of spring.  I hate the April weather.  One day the temps are in the 60s; the next day we're in the teens with snow.  Ugh!!  The wonderful melt, dry driveway, possibility of spring planting has been extinguished by the beautiful snow globe outside my window.  Though I'm enjoying the toasty fire and snugly snow day; I'm not looking forward to the mud that awaits in days to come.

This brings me to the saga of Shed-in-a-Box.  The only way Lil Bit uses it is if I put his hay in there.  Other than that he camps out in the pallet, extra fencing corner under shelter of spindly pines.  He has a dry, draft proof getaway, yet chooses to hang out in the snow.  I give up!!  I fought for weeks to get the shed up, and goof ball will only use it if something delicious awaits him inside.  I'm glad I didn't spend the extra money to build him a permanent shelter he won't frequent.

Our Latest Adventure

Saturday we picked up 2 sweet bottle babies.  After swearing up and down that I wouldn't own wool sheep; we have wool sheep, a pair of CVM bottle lambs.  CVM stands for California Variegated Mutant; a breed created in the 1960s to possess beautifully colored fleece that was good hand spinning.  The breed along with their Romeldale counterparts are quite rare today.   Our little ewe lambs are baby, babies in need of extra care and handling.  Our beautiful brown lamb, Cosette, is only two weeks old.  Her dark gray buddy, Juliet, is four weeks old.  They are beautiful little girls, who should have amazing fleece once they get older.  Let the adventure begin!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Springtime in the Rockies

Yesterday afternoon the girls were able to pull out their bikes and enjoy the balmy weather.  By this morning spring had disappeared and winter regained its hold.  I love the moisture,  but I hate the unexpected snows.

Fox: Fiend, Friend and Spirit Animal

For the past week a friendly fox has started to come to visit.  I believe he is the fox our neighbors have named Fritz.  On Easter Sunday he had an encounter with our gray tabby cat, Purrpikitty.  I'm not sure if Fritz wanted to eat her or sniff her.  When I got outside the fox is laying in a snow bank, and Purrky was crouched in the dirt puffed up to the size of a basketball.  

Monday morning, Fritz was back; sitting, waiting patiently by the wood pile.  I crept outside and crouched in the driveway to watch him.  Fritz, being the friendly fox he is, came trotting over.  He sniffed my fingers and later came up to snitch bits of lunch meat from my hand.

I'm playing a dangerous game: enamored by this fox's beauty, his tame nature.  We have chickens that is a tempting treat if Fritz keeps coming around.  Yet, I love to watch him, feel at peace around him.  He seems to come around every once in a while as a guide and friend.  So here I sit wondering if Fritz will plunder my poultry or guide me to the next phase of my homesteading dream.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Saga of Shed in a Box

After over 4 weeks of trying, our Shed in a Box is FINALLY up.  I ordered the portable shed for Lil Bit waaaay back in February.  Ever since it arrived it's snowed, so we've had a shed blocking the hallway.  Not just little snow either; giant, wet 12 inch plus snows.  Bitty's shelter was a jinx, every time I'd suggest putting it up we'd get snow.  Luckily it's in the 50s this weekend and sunny.  Our poor little pony has a home just his side instead of hiding in a corner surrounded by extra fencing with a tarp over his head.  Ironically, he'll probably seek shelter elsewhere when it rains or snows.  At least I feel better!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Chick Days

Yesterday, 37 adorable little fluffy butts arrived at the post office.  1.  I love Ideal Poultry.  I've had great success using that hatchery.  2.  It still amazes me that I can mail order chickens, and they arrive in 24 hours.  Right now sitting in the toasty warm brooder are 15 Delaware roos, 15 Plymouth Rock roos, 4 Broad Breasted Bronze turkeys, and 3 Norwegian Jaerhon pullets.  

The roos and the turkeys are destined for freezer camp in a few months.  I've tried Cornish Rocks, the grocery store chicken, but this year I'd like a Heritage Breed.   The American Livestock Breed Conservancy, lists the Delaware and Plymouth Rocks as tasty, meaty, faster growing birds.  The Cornish Rock is actually a crossing of the Plymouth Rock with a Cornish chicken.  I'm hoping we end up with some nice, large roasters for next winter.  Last summer I raised Broad Breasted Bronze turkeys.  After roughly 5 short months I had nice large turkeys.  My largest tom weighed in at a whopping 31lbs.  He is still in the freezer, while we try to figure out how to cook him.  This year we're hoping for a repeat performance of jumbo turkeys.

A few year ago I hatched some Norwegian Jaerhons.  The kids and I had a blast watching the babies emerge from their eggs.  We ended up with 3 roos and 1 hen from this group.  The roos have since been rehomed while the lone hen continues to bless us with yummy eggs.  The Jaerhons are hardy birds, who will lay through the winter.  I love our hens consistency, so I'm hoping the new girls make me proud.

The Journey West

We came to the mountains roughly seven and a half years ago.  The dream started a few years earlier when my husband and I drove through with my grandparents' car on a mission to bring the car to their new home.  We instantly fell in love with the peace, the beauty, the pines, and the jagged rocks.  This led to a quest to bring our then very young family to this paradise.

The mountains have changed all of our lives, but they have also changed who I am.  I was a spoiled suburban stay at home mom.  My life was filled with play dates, kids' activities, and  keeping up appearances.  Now, I spend my days homeschooling, something I would have never dreamed of doing in suburbia, and caring for our growing farm.  I have gone from a woman who loved the convenience of grocery stores to growing and raising my own food, from prepackaged to made from scratch.  We've raised chickens, ducks, turkeys, quail, Guinea fowl, goats, llamas, a pig, and a pony.  The kids have watched chicks hatch in an incubator, hens lay eggs, and a Thanksgiving turkey butchered.  

I'm happier here than I ever would have been back in the 'burbs.  I no longer like traffic or busy malls, prefering the quiet of the woods around our home and the space.  I now long for peace, spectacular sunrises over mountain peaks, cold fronts slipping lazily through the valley, and the golden glow of a summer sunset.