Archive for March, 2010

Starter Pots for Seeds

Sunday, March 28th, 2010

Look at this adorable starter pot Angie gave me, with a cute little purple tomato seedling in it:

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That starter pot is a goose egg. She told me to chip out a little of the bottom when I plant it. Being in the egg shell will supply calcium to the tomato as it grows. I just love that! She gave me two goose eggs for us to eat and those are some BIG eggs! Bernie and I scrambled one and split it for breakfast yesterday. It was absolutely delicious. I cracked it up high so I can use it as a starter pot for another tomato.

If I had geese I would certainly use the egg shells to plant all my tomatoes. But I don’t. What I do have is a bunch of toilet paper and paper towel rolls we’ve been saving. And today we used them to make several starter pots.

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We cut the paper towel rolls down to roughly the same size as the toilet paper rolls. Then we just folded over and tucked one end of each.

garden

Bernie does a far better job at this than I do.

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Many of the ones I made have small gaps in them. But that’s ok. They’ll will get a couple of small rocks in the bottom before adding the soil and they will be fine.

I had hoped to get all my seeds started this weekend in the greenhouse, but there are just not enough hours in the day…… It’s ok. They won’t be able to be put in the ground until the 2nd or 3rd week of May, so they have time.

I hope this is a good year for gardens. I’m so excited to move past the brutal winter we’ve all had this year. How about you? Are you starting your garden yet?

You Rock. You Seriously Do.

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

I want to thank each of you personally for all the kind words. But I can’t. Every time I try my eyes fill with tears and I can no longer see what I’m typing. Thank you – each and every one. And forgive me if it seems impersonal. It truly is not. I just can’t get past the emotion.

I suspect I’ll never get over losing sweet little Hope. Especially since I’ve learned what I could have done to prevent it. And even what I could have done to save her. It would have been hard. But I could have done it. That will haunt me forever I’m sure. But now I know. I won’t lose another to bloat. At least not without saying I did my dead level best to save her. But honestly? I did my best with Hope. I just didn’t know……

Georgia is doing GREAT. She is already running to me when I go into the goat barn. I’m not surprised that she is showing dominance. She is the Queen, and I am respecting that. Mirrie? Not so much. Mirrie couldn’t care less about the Queen. When I enter the goat barn Mirrie runs up to me screaming bloody murder. Georgia is right behind her, and butts Mirrie out of the way. I understand that Georgia is Queen. I reach down and pet her first. If I’m feeding Mirrie a bottle, I make sure I offer some sweet feed to Georgia first, and then feed Mirrie. I’m trying to teach Mirrie, but she is too danged sweet, cute, and stubborn. And before it’s all said and done I am on my knees kissing Mirrie and loving on her. Georgia comes right up, and I’m sure to show her as much attention as she will allow.

It’s going to be ok. I don’t think I’ll ever really get over this experience, but it’s going to be ok. We’re building a milking stand this weekend. It will hold goats while they are milked, and while they are worked on (trimming hooves, etc.) I’m excited to get that finished.

Please allow me to also quickly bring you up to date on the pups….We had to take them to the vet for booster shots this afternoon. Diesel weighs 77 pounds. Dolly weights 70 pounds. The vet wants to see Diesel at 70 pounds, and Dolly at 65 pounds. This will not be easy. These pups exercise daily – a lot. They also enjoy their treats – a lot. The vet asked what they get treats for and Bernie said “Breathing.” And the vet reached down and petted both of them and said “You are wonderful pups – but breathing just isn’t that special”. *sigh* Now the pups are on a diet. The good news is that the surgery Diesel is certain to have due to hip dysplasia may be prolonged if he loses weight. That’s worth is to all of us. At just over one year old, Diesel has a fair amount of issues with his hips and legs…..

Thank all of you. Not only for following my blog, but being such sweet friends. Spring is springing – and soon I’ll be posting about planting in the garden, preserving, canning, baby chicks, pregnant does, and all the wonderful things that this time of year brings. Thank you for sticking with me during the hard times. Because there are always hard times. No matter what you dream about living in the country, you must accept that there will be hard times. It’s not easy, but you can get past it. Maybe you can learn from my mistakes. In the end, that really is why I started this blog in the first place.

XXXOOO

There is Still Hope

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

I have to tell y’all, losing our little precious Hope in such a traumatic way was a horrific experience. I would not wish that on anyone. As upset as Bernie and I were yesterday, poor Mirrie was beyond consolation. She didn’t understand where her sister went. She couldn’t stand being alone. It was such a bad day for all of us.

Even though none of us will get over our loss, Angie knew that we needed a companion for Mirrie as quickly as possible, and she offered us a sweet one year old doeling. Today I went and picked her up.

Interestingly enough, she had never been named. When she was born someone has asked to buy her, and requested that Angie not name her. This person wanted to choose the name. Time went on, and eventually the person that had wanted to buy her backed out of the deal. And the little doeling had gone so long without a name, that she was just known as the goat with no name! So, as I drove this little girl back to the homestead, I pondered on what her name should be. I didn’t have to think on it very long. Angie and I were both born in the same state. It seemed only fitting that I should name this little girl something that represented one of my first bonds with Angie.

Meet Georgia.

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Mirrie is SO happy to have one of her old friends here with her now.

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She’s still my baby…..

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But now we all have Georgia with us too.

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We miss our little Hope. But today it finally feels like things may be ok again.

Thanks to all of you for your overwhelming support and kind words during all of this. It means so much more than any of you will ever know.

(((hugs)))

And Speaking of the Nature of Nature….

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

I just posted about the nature of nature – the fact that if we live with livestock and chickens, we must expect that we will lose them. And today, we lost our precious little Hope to bloat. This has been an emotional and horrific experience, and I really am not mentally able to go into detail. I will try to post in more detail in the future – so those of you who have not experienced bloat may learn what to look for – and maybe even the extreme steps that may save the life of your precious goat, cow, or other animals that are susceptible to it. I wish I had known……

Mirrie is ok. She is sad. She is lonely. But she is ok. I’ve spoken to Angie several times today. She has been, of course, my angel. The one person who could ground me and keep me sane during all of this sorrow. She has offered another goat, that is about a year old, to keep Mirrie company. Goats are VERY social creatures. They NEED company. I have accepted her offer.

Bernie was there with me throughout this ordeal. He just wanted to fix it. Bless his heart – he wanted everything to be ok, not just for Hope, but for me. And when it wasn’t, well….. we have spent the day trying to comfort each other. This has been the worst day on this homestead. And even so, the pups warmed my heart on the mail check. Mirrie made me laugh trying to suckle my chin. The cats were as annoying as ever. And Bernie’s hugs are worth all the money Bill Gates makes…….

This really is the nature of nature. If we bring nature into our life – and we SHOULD – we need to be prepared for the hand nature may deal us. The more prepared we are, the better chances we have at bluffing and winning that hand. I promised to step you through our homesteading triumphs and losses when I started this blog. We had a loss today. A very big, heart wrenching loss today. I am going to share it.

But not today.

Today I’m dealing with the nature of nature.

Too Cute Alert! Too Cute Alert!

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

Today my friend Charlotte accompanied me to pick up the cutest baby goats on the face of the planet. Seriously. They really are officially the two cutest goats on the planet. I contacted Guinness World Book of Records and they assured me there are not two cuter goats on the entire face of the planet. I was as surprised as you! Until I saw them…….

Goats

Goats

And then there was no doubt in my mind…… these are certainly the two cutest goats on the face of the planet. And sweet? Lord have mercy, these are some sweet babies. *sigh* I warned you fair and square about the cuteness you just beheld…..

We put a small spool in the goat barn for the babies to play on. But they are exhausted after such an exciting day and Hope layed down beside it, while Mirrie used it as a back scratch.

Goats

I have to tell you, meeting Angie and her family was just like seeing old friends. I have never felt so at ease with a group of people I’ve never actually met. What a beautiful and wonderful group of people. I could have stayed there all day long. And we almost did! They took us on a tour of their farm – which is utterly awesome. And Angie’s husband, Steve, and I stood around and discussed computer programming and bonded as geeks. The children were as beautiful as any picture I’ve ever seen on Angie’s blog – and sweeter than anything I could ever describe to you. *sigh* I am in love with this family! Angie sent us on our way with two boxes full of homemade goodies and eggs from ducks and geese. I think I’m going to ask Angie to adopt me…….

I’m sure you noticed I only mention bringing Mirrie and Hope home. Yesterday I talked to Angie on the phone and she told me that Chance passed away yesterday morning. 🙁 Sad. Very, very sad. The goat babies play so hard and so rough. It’s most likely she died from rough housing. I am sad. I cried when we hung up. But I know things like this happen. I’m mostly sad for Angie’s family – especially Colby, who fed and cared for these babies for so long.

Mirrie and Hope are in the goat barn that we’ve labored so hard on the past few weeks. It still needs a lot of work – a lean-to added to the front, a fenced in paddock, and shingles on the roof, but it will keep our goat babies safe from the weather for now. And I prefer to leave them in the goat barn for a couple of days so they learn it is their new home. Bernie will fence in a small area for them to get some sunshine while he fences in the larger area that will be their paddock.

I have goats! *sigh* I have goats! And Charlotte and I had a wonderful time going to get them. Oh – and the goat babies were in a cage for over two hours on the journey home – and not one single “accident” the whole way. They did potty within five minutes of being on ground though 🙂

The pups are not used to me being away for any amount of time. When I got home tonight I had to get the babies to the goat barn, feed them (they are still bottle fed twice daily), clean the chicken coop, and then check on the goat babies again. When I finally had time we took the puppies outside for a while. Diesel needed some reassuring.

Diesel

The pups won’t be introduced to the goats until some fencing is up and they can get used to each other with a barrier between them to start with. I think everyone is going to get along just fine. It may take a little time before we’re comfortable with them all mingling though.

True to form, I forgot my camera for this big day. Ugh. But Charlotte remembered hers – bless her heart! I’ll post more pictures later. We’re all too pooped tonight. Not only from working so hard these past few days and the excitement of this wonderful day, but from all the cuteness we’ve been blessed with.

I have baby goats! Eeeeeeeeeep!

Goat Barn

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

I’ve received a couple of emails requesting to see the progress on the goat barn. Apparently I’ve been remiss in my updates! We’re coming right along with it. Sunday is looking like the “big day”. And I can’t tell you how happy that makes me!

Because of our building inspector issues, we focused on half of it first – that would be the right half in this picture.

goat barn

But once we got our “farm use” permit, we added the second half. Our neighbor “Mad Dog” has been helping Bernie with the second half all week. Now we have the entire building up, and they are putting in one of the windows in this picture.

goat barn

The room the guys are working in is the area the goats will live in. I’m taking the picture from the feed storage and milking room in this picture goat barn

The next two days will be spent on finishing up the outside so weather can not get inside and shoveling in dirt to fill it to the bottom horizontal line in this picture:

goat barn

Sunday is the big day. We’ll have our goat babies here and then Bernie will work on the roof, lean-to, and fencing in the paddock.

My friend Charlotte will go with me to get these goat babies. I’m excited to get them home. And I’m happy that such a good friend will accompany me.

Goat babies are wonderful. Good friends are nothing to sneeze at either 🙂

The Nature of Nature

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

What a day. I was filling in the goat barn with dirt this afternoon and happily minding my own business when Bernie headed to his barn to get more lumber. I heard him say “Miss Penny? You better come over here and look at your rooster.” I knew by the tone of his voice that this would not be good. I walked over to see Bobby Lee – bloody and standing very still. Well, that’s not good.

I went into the house and got my emergency tote bucket. If you have chickens or livestock, I highly recommend getting emergency care supplies and putting them in some sort of container. Trust me when I tell you, you will one day need it.

I filled the tub with warm water and laid out towels, wash clothes, antibiotic cream, Iodine solution, and baby shampoo. Then I went outside to catch Bobby Lee. And when I got outside I noticed Pico – he was covered in blood as well – and it was obviously not HIS blood. It was then that I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that Bobby Lee was no longer in charge of this flock. Pico had taken control of the reins.

I bathed Bobby Lee and looked him over really well. He was missing a lot of feathers around his face, eyes, and neck. The only area bleeding was his comb. It looked like hamburger. His eyes were swollen, and there were scratches around them, but they were in pretty good shape. I put eye cream in his eyes, cleaned his comb and wattles and slathered everything except his eyes in antibiotic cream. I’ll keep an eye on him and make sure he doesn’t get an infection.

I love my roosters. L. O. V. E. my roosters. For the number of hens I have, three roosters is a little on the low side, but I’m pleased with the care they take of the hens. Spring is springing – and with it comes a surge of testosterone in the roosters. A few weeks ago Bernie and I were watching these roosters and discussing that Pico was making some moves to become Alpha Roo. We knew it would happen. I’m just sad that Bobby Lee fought so hard that he ended up getting so hurt in the process. Pico is fine. He has blood all over his chest and legs – but it’s not his blood.

I had no sooner finished caring for Bobby Lee than the phone rang. Our neighbors down the road asked if I would come look at their turkey. She had been attacked by three dogs. My heart sank. I headed down there to see what we were dealing with. The turkey hen had many puncture wounds on her rear area. Those we could have dealt with. She had a tear on her thigh that I am certain we could have cleaned and sewn up. But my heart sank when I saw that her vent was ripped wide open – and her insides were hanging out.

I described my thoughts and what I felt we could deal with. And then I told them that the ripped vent was more than I knew how to handle. I recommended that she be culled. My heart went out to young lady that recently moved here, excited about dreams of country life. She was crying beyond consolation. I could not help but remember that, not so very long ago, I had faced a similar decision. I distinctly remember how difficult it was for me, and my eyes filled with tears at the pain she was feeling. I put my arm around her as a friend put the turkey out of it’s misery.

Nature can be beautiful. And it can be cruel. Roosters do what roosters do. I hate it, but that’s the way it is within the flock of chickens. Dogs do what dogs do. It doesn’t make it right. It doesn’t make it easier. But it does mean that if we bring chickens and livestock into our lives, we must understand that there is a chance we will experience injuries and/or death of these creatures. The best we can do is be prepared to handle it. Both by preparing to care for them, and by preparing for their death.

That’s just the nature of nature.

Mud

Saturday, March 13th, 2010

We finally have a deck. Yay! This deck will not only be a wonderful place to relax and enjoy the peace and quiet, it will be where I do all of my canning this summer. That will help keep the house much cooler on canning days!

Deck

That’s from the driveway looking along the front of the house. It turns at the end and runs along the side.

Deck

Between melting snow, rain, and deck construction I’m sure you can imagine the mud we have been dealing with the past couple of weeks. The deck has three sets of steps, and the shortest set is on the end closest the driveway. That set of steps seems to be the pups’ favorite – and the ground there was a muddy, clay filled mess.

Deck

If you look closely, you may be able to see the paw prints filled with water! It was raining when I took that picture. It was, in fact, raining when Bernie and I spent three hours outside this morning building a small landing from free pavers we got through FreeCycle. We also put gravel down to widen the driveway right up to the pavers.

Deck

As you can see, there is still plenty of mud to deal with in the yard, but I sure hope this helps to reduce the amount of mud we track into the house……

Even though it rained most of the day yesterday, Bernie spent it outside working on the goat barn. Our permits came through for “Farm Use”, so the goat barn will be 12′ X 24′ with a 8′ X 24′ lean-to. It is really coming along and although I *hope* sharing this won’t jinx it, we plan to pick the baby goats up next Saturday morning! Please keep your fingers crossed………

Goat Barn, Deck and Snud

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

Well, it seems nothing is easy. It may be doable, but not always easy…..

The goat barn has been at a near stand-still as we battle with the County Inspector’s office about permits. As part of having the deck put on the house, the County Inspector came out and took it upon himself to look at every single building on our property. I’m not going to go into a lot of detail here, but the bottom line is he looked at the goat barn we had just started building and informed us if it is bigger than 12 X 12 it needs to meet code and be inspected. Meeting code involves anchoring the barn with metal straps and digging 2 foot holes every few feet and pouring with concrete to sink the metal straps. Ridiculous doesn’t come close to how we feel about that. So we’ve filed with zoning for “farm use”, and are waiting to hear back on that. In the meantime, we are working to finish a 12 X 12 section. And this is where we are this afternoon:

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This section is the milking area and feed/hay storage room. On the right is the door, and we’ll frame in three windows.

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Once we get the “farm use” approval, we’ll add the goat room and stall to make it a 12 X 24 foot goat barn. Off the front will be a 8 X 24 foot lean-to.

The deck is coming right along! They’ve got the front portion of it finished – minus the steps that lead to the front yard.

Deck

They’re still working on the side – this picture is from the backyard and shows the side deck that ties into the front:

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Construction is always a mess, but with all this snow on the ground that’s starting to melt…. well, Bernie says we have a yard full of “snud” – snow mixed with mud. And he is right. This is the front yard, in front of the deck. If you follow me on FaceBook you may remember that they sent a Bobcat up here to clear the snow away from the front and side of the house so they could begin construction.

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Bernie says he’ll be mowing around that mound of snow in July…… The deck guys have had a cement truck and a huge lumber truck up here. It’s taken a toll on our poor driveway.

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Driveway repair is certainly in Bernie’s future…..

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And the big trucks have widened the driveway at the end where they turn onto the road.

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The mail-lady is surely concerned when we get mail.

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But, the good news? We are getting a deck! A really, really nice deck.

Deck

And I’m certain we’ll have a 12 X 24 goat barn in short order for my three baby goats to come home to. Thank you, Angie for being an angel about how long all this is taking.

We have snud. We’re getting a deck. And the goat barn is under way. Sometimes things aren’t easy. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t doable……..