The Stylish Goat

Everyone has their winter coats… except for Freyja. Heidrun is practically shaggy, Bridgit and Luna have a thick coat coat all over their bodies, but Freyja’s wintery fluff hasn’t quite come in yet. She is also a little skinnier than I’d like. To help her stay warm in the meantime, I pulled out a few of these “upcycled” sweatshirts that my Grandma gave me. I thought it would be more festive for her to wear an “ugly Christmas sweater”, but we work with what we have.

The mustard-colored sweatshirt was out –just not Freyja’s color, hunter green clashed with her eyes, and the plum-colored sweatshirt could have worked, but Freyja wanted something a little more neutral. Grey it is! Now she can accessorize with less effort. That’s always important to us ladies.

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After watching her outside for a bit, I turned to Trevor, “She looks like she is ashamed of her new sweater.”
Trevor replied, “Can goats feel ashamed?”
“I don’t know. Look at her.”
Long pause…
“Okay, you’re right, she’s ashamed.”
“But warm!” I added.
“Yeah… She looks ridiculous and warm.”

Mothers

Sometimes you just need to vent all your farm frustrations to your mother. Okay, so not everyone has a farm to vent about. Once in awhile I need an outside perspective that has close ties to everyone on the farm. While it is helpful to have recommendations and advice pouring in over the internet, it doesn’t seem quite as personal as getting thoughts and ideas from someone who knows all the rabbits, has pet all the goats (and even transported some for me), has fed the chickens and watched them grow from chicks, and has tasted all that sticky honey first hand. I did, however, tell her about all the recommendations you sent in.

After an hour on the phone with my mother, I had a mental list of what to do next with all the creatures and dirt out here. So today I am taking my Mom Advice and a couple books and getting the wheels in motion for some projects that can be done now, for free, and may even be easier with very little garden to manage in the upcoming winter months.
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Mom said:
1) “Don’t worry about the rabbits. It has always been frustrating breeding them. Don’t bother trying to find a new breed to work with, what you have now is exactly what you wanted. And maybe this is why there are so few French Angora breeders out there… they aren’t incredibly easy to raise. Instead, keep breeding everyone until you get what you need. Eventually it will work out.”

2) “Just eat all the chickens and start over. Or sell them and start over. You have to remember that you raised them in Sonora, then moved 52 miles away, and expected them to keep laying like they had before. Maybe they aren’t cut out to live in Mountain Ranch wind and heat and freezing temperatures. They were raised in a whole other environment. Stick them all in the freezer and research hardy breeds to get started next.”
Mom really liked the “Viking” Swedish Hens idea, but I worry about how they would do in the summer heat. Mom gave a thumbs down to the Jersey Giants because they are not mega-egg-producers. Personally, I think she rejected the idea because they are oddly large and she hates weird looking chickens; case and point: my Naked Neck Turkens.

3) “I liked the Carnelian honey bees you had. Get more of those, keep two hives at my house, and keep two hives at yours. The bees always did real well here in Sonora. And it’s not like Trevor has to groom them every day or anything. When he is in Sonora visiting, he can check in on the Sonora hives and then he can harvest honey once a year like he always does. That way, if the Mountain Ranch hives fail again, you won’t have to start all over because the Sonora hives will be here.”
To give mom credit, we were thinking about ordering some Carnelian bees next month to start in the spring. We had one, full Carnelian hive a few years ago, but when the queen died, we had to re-queen the hive with what we had in the second hive: Italians. The Italians never produced quite as much honey and they obviously weren’t nearly as adaptive.

4) “I’d get Freyja bred as soon as possible. It sounds like she may be in heat now. Ask around and see if anyone will breed her for you to one of their Boer goats. That way she will only need to be transported down the road a bit and you won’t have to wait a whole year to get her bred. Use the milk, sell the babies.

5) “Dig holes now for any trees you want to plant in the spring. And then dig holes so we can get some anchor points for goat tethers set up in the field. You won’t need an expensive fence out there right away and the goats can still benefit from the forage.”

6) “Turkeys were a good idea. Keep raising turkeys. Don’t even bother with meat chickens. The turkeys are doing really well out there even in the freezing cold and heat.”

Death Farm

If there was ever a time I felt I should bash my head in or give up– or both, it would be today.

Trevor and I do a full farm sweep every few days just to give everyone a thorough wellness check, other than our regular check-ins during feeding and closing times. Yesterday it was the bee’s turn. Usually during the cold and windy months, we give the hive a little knock and listen for the quick buzz of the inhabitants assuring us that they are, in fact, home. This time we had no such luck. After opening up the hive, it was evident that they swarmed due to the same wax moth invasion that Hive #2 suffered from just a month or so ago.

Our rabbits have recently decided to breed again since moving here in March. Last month, Philly give birth to some great looking kits… on the wire and they did not survive. She is usually a fantastic mother so I decided to give her another shot and immediately rebred Philly and one of our other does, Indigo. Tonight, Indigo had her first litter… on the wire. But more so, they were under-developed and stillborn. Not terribly uncommon for a first-time rabbit mother, but certainly disappointing. To prevent another “oops” litter with Philly (who is due in a few days), I have put her in a solid-bottom cage with lots and lots of straw bedding. It is on the small side, but I cannot lose another litter because of these empty headed rabbits.

When I asked the universe for a chance to start fresh in the new year, I didn’t really mean like this. I am frustrated to the point of seriously considering selling off all the rabbits and chickens to start over with new stock. Right now I only have Fruhlingskabine rabbit BUCKS, no Fruhlingskabine rabbit DOES, and I think that these does from other rabbitries just aren’t cutting the mustard because they haven’t been bred for this area and climate and weather and smell. Same with the bees and the chickens.

My new goal in 2015 is to buy and breed for sturdier stock. Wimpy stock is getting me nowhere. I need sturdy, Viking stock or something. I need animals that can lay eggs in the snow, birth their young with rabid predators scratching at the door without so much as batting an eye. I need animals with gnarly scars and battle axes and survivor’s spirit. Animals with strength and resilience.

I am tired of this death farm I’ve been running. It is pretty sad when a bunch of turkeys out in a tarp-covered hoop house are more resilient than the rabbits living in a lush, insulated shed. The rabbits don’t even have bobcats circling them like the turkeys do. Those turkeys are hardcore.

I am now looking for any and all recommendations for animal breeds who are: super resilient, hearty, sturdy, happy, and can withstand extreme temperatures (both heat and cold). First-hand experience only. Wimps need not apply.

Official Goat Transporter Truck

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With the right size of goats, anything is possible. Well, short goats, two layers of tarps in the back seat, and a leash attached to the car’s anchor points… then anything is possible.

Bridgit and Luna made it home safe and sound last week from their “double date”. I am told they went into heat for a full day and there was some successful mating.

What good goaties! They didn’t even pee in my car!

Lefse Prep

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Who is prepping their lefse tonight? I know I am! The potatoes are boiling as I type. This family is big on lefse– a Norwegian flat bread made of potatoes, butter, flour, and cream. It isn’t really a holiday without it. In fact, we have pulled my brother’s girlfriend over to The Dark Side. Apparently she has been craving lefse since I made it on Easter… lefse is an excellent judge of character. She is also pregnant, so that may be a variable, but I like to think it is mostly my superb cooking skills.

Need something foreign and exotic to make to wow your family or Turkey Day hostess? Make lefse. End of story. Here is my secret family recipe!