Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

Special Guest Stars.

Posted on | January 14, 2013 | 3 Comments

For the past couple weeks, we had some special guest stars at Woodland Pond.  My friend was out of town and her goats, Tulip and Vanilla, stayed at our place.

Vanilla is Tina’s mother.  Although she didn’t seem to know this fact.  Perhaps because when Tina left when she was still a kid and Vanilla has forgotten the entire thing.  Perhaps because every time Vanilla looked at Tina, she just thought she was looking in the mirror.

Tina.

Vanilla.

Tina.

Vanilla.

Good thing Vanilla never saw Back to the Future.  Or else she would have been a bit nervous about constantly running into herself.

If you can’t tell them apart, don’t worry.  Simon and Isaac, the sheep, went to snuggle with Tina on a few occasions and ended up with a vicious ear bite or getting a tuft of wool yanked out when it turned out to be Vanilla instead of their usual companion.  Vanilla wasn’t comfortable with the comingling of sheep and goats.  And she wasn’t afraid to let the boys know her opinion.

When I first got sheep a lot of people expressed concern that the sheep would bully or injury my disbudded goats.  Guess they’ve never seen a Shetland sheep running full speed away from a Toggenburg whose personal space has been violated.  The sheep were going so fast that they almost left their tails behind them.  And as Little Bo Peep knows, that would have been a heck of a lot of trouble.

The guests did enjoy some of the benefits of their stay, though, even if they found the sheep bothersome.  Vanilla enjoyed hanging out in the big barn, looking down to the pond.

Tulip preferred a higher view and spent many hours chillin’ on the picnic table.  Every goat’s favorite climbing spot.

Of course, we reaped the biggest benefit of their stay.  Tulip produced milk as if she was providing for an entire nursery of goat kids.  Which was impressive since she was only being milked once a day.  My does’ production usually drops to less than half when I go from milking twice a day to once a day, so I can’t imagine what her production would have been like at twice a day.  Perhaps we would have truly been the land of milk and honey.  Minus the honey.  And more like the land of milk and milk and milk and milk….

As a matter of fact, we loved Tulip and her determined milk production so much that I thought of switching her out for another goat when my friend returned.  Like say, trading her for Angel, the bad goat baby that despite being 9 months old can still squeeze into the milking room.  Where she enjoys sticking her head in the trough with the (very annoyed) goat on the stanchion.  Or standing by your leg demanding chin scratches by pawing you mercilessly.  Or climbing into the feed room and eating out of all the feed bags even if she has to tear a hole in them to do it.  Don’t be fooled by her cuteness.  And don’t make the same mistake we did.  Naming a goat “Angel” is way too tempting for the universe.  It’s like begging to be slapped down.

Unfortunately, the 2 goats look way too different for that kind of switch to be pulled off.  So we had to settle for enjoying Tulip’s milk while she was here.  Which meant milk….

and chevre….

and homemade ice cream for all.

A special shout out to Santa Claus.  Who must have known Tulip was coming over and gave us a countertop ice cream maker for Christmas.  Which just needs milk, cream, sugar, and strawberries from the freezer to make delicious strawberry ice cream in 25 minutes.  That man is amazing, I tell you, just amazing!

And, especially, lots of love to Tulip.  Who made all those good things possible.

Our guests left yesterday and it almost seemed a little too quiet without the extra visitors.  Luckily, someone else showed up just before we got bored.  As I was rinsing out the milk bucket, gazing out the window and already mourning my losses, some odd looking nuthatches arrived at the bird feeder.  We have tons of white-breasted nuthatches and enjoy watching them hop upside down and sideways on the trees.  But this pair of birds looked like nuthatches with little brown caps.  Which was entirely reasonable since we quickly identified them with our birding book to be brown-headed nuthatches.

New birds!  Birds we have never seen before!  At our feeder!

After reading a bit about them, we decided they must be foraging with a larger mixed flock of birds.  Since we have never seen them here before and don’t have any large stands of the pine forests that they generally prefer.  I doubt they will stay here but I hope to see them use tree bark tools before they leave.  If they do, I’ll be happy to provide you with more grainy, blurry pictures of them in action for your viewing pleasure. 🙂

In the meantime, I hope to learn their birdsong using my new BirdSong Ultra IdentiFlyer.  Which I also got for Christmas.  (Didn’t I tell you Santa Claus was amazing??!!)

Looks like the Brown-Headed Nuthatches are our Special Guest Stars for this week.  Aren’t guest stars so exciting?  Stay tuned because, really, who knows who might show up next??!

Comments

3 Responses to “Special Guest Stars.”

  1. Katherine
    January 14th, 2013 @ 3:29 pm

    Vanilla was biting sheep!? Bad Vanilla!!

    Thanks for taking such great care of the girls, even when they were less than dainty with their manners.

  2. Lin
    January 15th, 2013 @ 6:00 am

    Oh, and to think we get excited when Sammy the Weiner Dog comes to stay with us for a week! Dang, I would like a goat to come visit. Especially one that makes ice cream.

  3. andrea
    April 17th, 2013 @ 7:41 pm

    I would like to talk to you via facebook about Tina, as I am getting ready to embark on a similar journey with a nubian doeling. Inspired by Tina of course. We are calling her River because Rivers have many bends.http://www.facebook.com/andrea.stclair01

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