Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Life Lessons from a Runaway Goat

As horrible a week that was, as much stress as I put myself and my family through, losing my goat Houdini was probably the best thing that could have happened to me.  Don't get me wrong, it was an awful experience I never want to duplicate, but good has come from it.  I've been able to regain the faith of my mentor.  I've learned more about goat behavior.  I proved to myself that I can work through a difficult, bleak situation.  Most importantly, I've learned a true sense of patience and calm with my animals.

Monday, I brought the last of my herd home; a doe in milk, a two year old old, and two month old buckling.  My dream of breeding and raising Nigerian Dwarf goats is coming to fruition.  When Houdini came home, I was hurried, stressed.  I stuck a frightened flight animal into a pen with an ornery goat he'd never met and expected things to go well.  This homecoming was different, it was quiet, slow, peaceful.  My youngest daughter helped carry over the baby while I moved the does.  I let them see the other goats, got my milk doe into the milk stand for a quiet brushing, and chatted with the girls in the new goats' pen while they got used to their surroundings.  

Be quiet, be still, be peaceful, be present; those are the things I need to do to settle my new herd.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Enjoy the Silence

Scooter snoozing.

It's 8 am on Memorial Day, and the house is blissfully silent.  I'm going to enjoy these last few moment with a nice, hot cup of coffee.  I've already headed out once to let the chickens out of their coop and give the horses and goats their Chaffhaye.  They should all be happy for a few more minutes.  I want to bask in this time before the kids wake up, before the dogs need feeding, before I must get on my way.  

Today, I head over to my Goat Guru's house to pick up a Nigerian Dwarf doe in milk.  I'm sitting here pondering who else I should bring home.  Originally, I was doing to bring home a young recently bred doe and the doe in milk.  Yesterday, she proposed that I switch things up and bring home an additional doe in milk as well a beautiful buckling.  I'm not sure what to do; I've prayed, I've talked to hubby.  He made a good point; I'm not patient in my new endeavors, I jump in head first and end up biting off more than I can chew.  I spend way more money on the latest whim, stressing myself and my family in the process.   What to do, what to do?

As it stands right now I'd like to stick with the original plan.  Bringing home only one doe I have to milk would simplify things.  Spend some time getting used to milking again, and then decide to bring an additional milk doe home.  I do want the fresh goat milk for cheeses and to drink, but I also don't want to put my family through hell in the process.  I cause them enough problems with my need to farm.  For me it's a passion, it's a drive, somewhere deep inside this small voice keeps saying "you can do this, don't give up."  It is time to slow down a bit with all of this.  Consider my family's needs as well as my dreams.  Make good decisions.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Rain, rain go away

The dog and chicken run have recently flooded.

It has been raining for so long here, I've forgotten the last time it was dry.  The pastures and pens are stinky, mucky messes.  I'm worried about thrush in the horses and hoof rot in the goats, at this point there isn't anything I can do to combat it.  Heavy rains have flooded the pens creating waterfalls in odd spots.  Luckily there are lulls between the storms to allow for some drainage.  I'm seeing green in the horse pen where there hasn't been any and wising I had gotten my raised beds planted before our storms.   In the back of my mind fear lingers that this abundant rain will give way to weeks of dry weather.  In Colorado our weather seems to be feast or famine, either we get lots of moisture or nothing.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Homestead Ingenuity!

Well, it ain't purty, but it does the job.  Between the 2 foot snow storm we had and all of the recent rains our little patch of grass has become a lovely, lush carpet.  My chickens have been ogling it for days.  I haven't wanted to extend their main fence to this area because it's along a nice path, then genius struck!  I found a cheap snow fence and wooden stakes on Craigslist.  The fence will allow the chickens out to free range, but can be dismantled in seconds if we want to get our tractor down the path.  Cheap, functional, creative, temporary, I'm really hoping this does the job!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Lessons Learned and Still Learning

I royally messed up with Houdini when I first got him here.  That is why he disappeared.  I put a frightened flight animal in with my biggest, most annoying wether.  Houdini was in a new place, he was scared, and I added a goat twice his size that bullied him.  I should have put Houdini in the buck pen alone, and quarantined him for at least a week.  That may have alleviated the entire ordeal I put myself and my family through.  I was irresponsible, OK done beating myself up!

New goats should be separated from the new herd for at least a week, and possibly up to a month.  The new animal may carry something that can be devastating to my herd.  In Houdini's case he did come from the same breeder that my other 3 Nigi's came from, but mine have been here for a year so they they have established an immunity to my area.

All of that being said.  I'm going to keep Houdini in with my does for the next few weeks, bring the new girls over, and keep them in the future buck pen.  Yes, there is a method to my madness.  

Houdini is a crafty goat.  I will have to make some changes to the doe pen.  They were planned, but now they're on a hurry up.  Yesterday, I crated my LaMancha wether (he had been in with Houdini, but I separated them when Houdini came home), and brought him to a new home.  Houdini has been skittish ever since.  He's jumped the low side of the fence twice.  Luckily, he doesn't want to leave the ladies or the delicious taste of Chaffhaye.  Despite the fact that I want to yank the low fence out and rebuild it, I'm going to have to make some temporary adjustments to prevent my flight animal from taking flight.  

Goat ownership has been an amazing learning experience!  Despite the constant ups and downs I truly believe that this is what I am meant to do.  

Monday, May 19, 2014

Mission Accomplished!

Houdini (aka VooDoo) at home in the pen.

After a week plus of worry, tears, and frustration my buck is home!! Deep down I knew this scrappy little bugger was alive and safe.  Houdini survived over a week in predator infested woods AND a nearly two foot snowfall.  He's intelligent, I can see it in his eyes as he observes me interacting with our other goats.  Right now I've got him in a pen with my Nigi does and wether.  I want to make him comfortable.

Friday night Houdini visited my neighbors.  Luckily, one of them is a good tracker and located Houdini's hide out.  I went back out Saturday, but he ran from me when I went to toss him a goldfish cracker.  Yesterday, I brought my doe, WebiGayle, and a big bucket of treats.  After nearly 2 hours of searching, we relocated Houdini in his bachelor pad.  I sent Webi up to meet him, what buck can resist a cute doe?  It took 45 minutes of careful walking to return him to the pen.  All the while I prayed and repeated this Harriet Tubman quote in my head, "Lord, I'm going to hold steady on to You and You've got to see me through."

Now, I need to decide what to do with poor Houdini.  All the while he was missing I couldn't wait to get him back to the Goat Guru.  After going through all the effort to bring him back, part of me wants to keep him.  Something draws me too him.  He looks at me with those piercing blue eyes, as if he's trying to communicate.  Houdini has something to say, there is so much potential there.  I put my family through hell during the time he was missing, I'm at a loss as to what to do right now.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Llama, Llama Goat Drama!!

VooDoo a week ago before his great escape.

OK, there are no llamas involved, but it sounded cute!  With the help of many wonderful people, I've found my devil goat.  He is in goatee heaven (not literally); pasture, forage, rock outcroppings, crevices to hide, and a creek.  I want to hang out there!  I've tried bringing my wether, Pipsqueak, and treats, no luck.  I've tried goldfish crackers and chocolate Cheerios, no luck.  Today, I'm going out again with mama goat, WebiGayle, and black licorice.  A friend with goats suggested black licorice.  At this point I'l try anything!!

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Beginning of the End...

I've lost my mentor.
I've lost my foundation buck.
I've lost the opportunity to get two new does.
I haven't stopped crying since I hung the phone.  Even an extra "happy pill" hasn't made a dent.  My hopes and dreams seem to be crashing around me.  I screwed up, it wasn't a little screw up, it was huge and detrimental.  I feel lost, unsure.  Every ounce of me says quit, give up, yet this little voice says keep plugging along.  I'm truly at a loss right now.

They're Baaaaack!

The hummies are back!  The hummies are back!  I'm thrilled!  I've heard the hummingbirds for a few days, but this is the first day I've seen one on the feeder.  Despite the snow still in my yard, spring has sprung!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

No One Said This Would Be Easy!

The past week or so has had multiple challenges.  No one said homesteading would be easy or fun everyday.  Sometimes I think I try too hard only to have things blow up in my face.  There is truly nothing I love more than to spend my days outside with the dirt and the critters.   Unfortunately, my days are anything but that.  Kids, hubby, house, weather, other responsibilities take precedence most of the time.  

Other days, I'm too exhausted and overwhelmed to get things accomplished.  Today is one of those days!   The brooders in the basement are disgusting and way overdue for a clean out.  The outdoor coop is a mucky mess after days of wet weather.  Poor Pearl has an infection on her leg I'm trying to get under control.  I'd like to put her in the big goat house, but that is a major disaster after our return to winter.

I still have issues from last week that are haunting me.  My brand new goat buck escaped his pen and disappeared.  I am truly dreading calling my mentor and explaining to her I lost her goat.  I have the utmost respect for this woman, and now I get to admit I was irresponsible.  At least that's how I feel.  Oh, I tried to keep the darn goat in.  I spent an entire day rebuilding his pen to contain him, but no matter how hard I tried he found a way out.  Honestly, I think he could apparate out of the pen to stare me down at the kitchen window.  I guess some things aren't meant to be.  

 Something deep inside me doesn't want to give up!  I want to try to make my crazy dream a reality.  I want to keep plugging ahead no matter how stressful all of this is right now.  I know in the end it will be worth everything I put into it!

The Never Ending Winter!!

I get to a point during spring when I am ready for winter to end.  Winter in the foothills doesn't really start until February.  By May I want it gone, yet this morning I awoke to a dusting of the heavy, white stuff and Sunday we were blessed with a good 18" of snow.  I know these late season heavy, wet snows lower our fire danger and green everything up, but I'm ready to pack away the winter coats and boots.  

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

God Has a Sense of Humor!!

Last week was chaotic and hectic, and this week is proving to be no different!  I currently have a nice 2 inch Harry Potter like cut on my forehead from a branch that was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  I swear that thing was like a spear sticking out of the darn tree.  The Ideal Poultry order from last week that was all messed up, is no better this week.  Some how after talking to 2 people about it, they lost my reorder.  I spoke to Debbie at Ideal today, and hopefully everything will be correct come Friday!  I'm having misadventures with children, dogs, and goats.  I was at point of giving the whole darn farming thing up and selling everything off, when low and behold I got this t-shirt in the mail.   I guess God thinks I should keep plugging along no matter how challenging things get.  Kinda funny!  A while backed I entered a t-shirt contest on some farm website.  Guess I won!