Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

Milked Out.

Posted on | March 30, 2014 | 4 Comments

So we’ve been busy picking up sticks around here.

And milking.

Mostly milking.

Usually I only have 2 does in milk at a time.  Milk from 1 large doe (a Nubian or a Toggenburg) and 1 Nigerian dwarf can easily meet all the dairy needs of our family of 6.  Plus provide extra milk for any spring bottle babies and the pigs and the garden.  But last fall I bred all 4 of my does.  Kind of because I thought it was a good idea.  Kind of because I sold my only 2 does in milk and we had to go 4 months without any fresh goat milk so we were jonesing for it.  Kind of because I retired a couple goats last year and my goat barn felt like it needed to have a million goat kids to feel full again.  Kind of because when I went outside and found a doe with her head stuck in the fence of the buck pen it was easier (and quieter) to just let a buck out to service her than to lock her up with separate feed and water in the back pen for a few days until her heat passed.  Kind of because I assumed at least 1 or 2 of the does wouldn’t actually get pregnant but would pretend to be pregnant by not having a second heat and get really fat and lazy and only 155 days after “being bred” would I realize she wasn’t actually pregnant and I’d have to breed her in the spring for a fall kidding.  At least 1 goat does that to me every year.  But not this year. Read more


Posted on | March 19, 2014 | 9 Comments

I still remember that forecast.  Since it was already sleeting outside I figured we needed to know what else was coming.  As I was setting the table for dinner, the meteorologist on television calmly assured me that we would only have a light glaze of ice.  As a matter of fact, she stated it would be no more than 1/10 of an inch.  She expected slippery spots on raised surfaces in the morning but, otherwise, not much impact.

I sighed.  The kids cheered.  We all knew that if there was even one icy patch somewhere in the entire county, then the schools would open on a late delay schedule, 2 hours after the usual start time.  And in North Carolina, “late delay” is synonymous for “we might even decide to close for the entire day if we feel like it so as soon as you get up start checking the news and internet for updates and remember to pee as fast as possible because the closing announcement will probably come during the 2.5 seconds that you are in the bathroom but it will definitely come after you have everyone dressed, lunches packed, and teeth brushed, and way too much coffee in your system to go back to sleep.”

Anyway, it was after that 5:30pm weather forecast that we made our first mistake. Read more

In The Beginning.

Posted on | March 4, 2014 | 1 Comment

In the beginning God said, “Let there be light.”  And from that day forward every gardener turned her face to the sun.  Waiting for winter’s gray skies to turn blue.

For the days to lengthen and the sun to fill the greenhouse with warmth and light.  So that she can fill it with seeds.

For the soil to warm in the raised beds.  While her hands itched to dig in that dirt.

Read more

And The Gold Goes To….

Posted on | February 15, 2014 | 2 Comments

There has been a leadership problem since Brianna left the farm.  As Queen Bee, Brianna was in charge of all aspects of the goat herd.  She was especially important during kidding season.  I always put her in the kidding barn with does having their first kids.  I knew Brianna would make sure all the babies made it out of the amniotic sac.  She would ensure all babies were up, clean, on their feet, and seeking for their mother’s teat.  She never left babies in the cold and she raised a racket when a baby was separated or stuck somewhere in the barn.  At the sound of a baby’s cries, she always stopped what she was doing to investigate, even if the mother calmly and cluelessly continued napping or eating hay.  She didn’t tolerate kid abuse from anyone in the barnyard—not ponies, not livestock guardian dogs, not sheep, not even other does.  Any critter that started chasing or harassing a goat kid, whether it was Brianna’s kid or not, was met with a rock hard head butt from the Queen Bee.

I expected a battle for the throne from the other does when Brianna left the farm in December.

Um, no. Read more

Farmer in the Snow.

Posted on | February 14, 2014 | 9 Comments

Of course, you people had a head start.  While all you yahoos had a snow day (or 2) ( or 3), I was busy at work.  In my ambulance being pulled out of snowdrifts by my supervisor saving lives.  And I really enjoyed seeing all those pictures of you guys.  You know, sledding, eating snow cream, making snow angels.  The snowmen, in particular, were very well done.

Honestly.  Nice work.

Good incorporation of native elements.

Read more

“Time Or Monies.”

Posted on | February 7, 2014 | 1 Comment

Now that I have created my own language, I have added another term.  And I just thought you should know.  It all started with the fact that the goats are due to kid this month.  So last week I rushed around the farm tying up loose ends in the flurry of nesting behavior that always precedes kidding season.  The new buck pasture had to be finished and the bucks released into to it.  To start tearing up those trees, too.

Fallen trees on the fence line had to be cleared and the fence repaired.

The barn had to be loaded with enough hay to get us through the next few months.

Read more

Question Of The Day.

Posted on | January 28, 2014 | 4 Comments


Does the nutrition in the kale chips and fruit salad cancel out the fat and calories of the deep fried donkey balls?


Who the heck cares? Read more

Chicken Necklace.

Posted on | January 18, 2014 | 11 Comments

I bet you are waiting with bated breath to hear if the dead chicken necklace stopped Bella from killing chickens.

"Doesn't this dead chicken match my eyes perfectly?"

The answer is no.  And yes.

It’s true that the chicken necklace was a great hindrance to her usual romping and wrestling with Bruno.  Her speedy race to the pond to bark at vultures was more of a clumsy waddle as she stumbled and tripped over the carcass around her neck.  She got snagged when squeezing through the cattle panels to nestle amongst the hay rolls.  Plus, no one was interested in giving lots of puppy love to a puppy wearing a dead chicken.

But I also saw her curled up comfortably on several occasions, using the dead chicken as a nice, fluffy pillow.  Several afternoons I caught her gnawing contentedly on a chicken leg.  And once I saw her spinning around gleefully and then happily chasing the feathers that flung loose and floated down through the air.

Seemed like the chicken necklace was not as traumatic as it was portrayed to me by other farmers.  Rather it seemed like a combination of good and bad.  And the results remained to be seen. Read more

It’s That Cold.

Posted on | January 9, 2014 | 6 Comments

Yeah, I know it’s colder where you are.  I realize you get snow every year and temperatures below zero.

Well, bless your heart.

But around here, we don’t do single digit temperatures.  It’s just not done. It’s considered vulgar.  In bad taste.

The schools called a 2 hour delay just at the thought of single digit temperatures.

No snow, no ice.  Just cold enough for us to be swooning and havin’ the vapors.  Nobody can learn under conditions like that.

We can’t turn on the radio or the television without being warned to keep a close eye on our elderly neighbors and outdoor pets.  Which I also find vulgar and in bad taste.  How old exactly do I have to be before I get lumped into the same category as “outdoor pets”? Read more

Out With The Old.

Posted on | January 8, 2014 | 7 Comments

Well, I got lots of good stuff for Christmas.  But no one was able to find a replacement for my barn coat.  Oh, they tried.  But how do you replace this?

Ah, the perfection of a broken-in barn coat.  It always has a piece of twine tucked somewhere in case of emergency.  There’s always a stale treat hidden in its folds to lure a loose animal back inside the fence.  It can be used as a rag to wipe things or a plug to stop leaking things.  No matter how many times it is washed, it envelopes you with the comforting smells of hay and manure, woodsmoke and wet dog, fresh dirt and buck funk, curdled milk and dried egg yolk.  (Do not put stray eggs in your barn coat pocket.  Do not. You will not remember them until you have broken them.)  The rips and stains stand as testimony to a full life and a long barnyard to-do list. Read more

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