Sunday, December 31, 2006
My favorite book of the year: "The Goat Lady," by Jane Bregoli. Jane Bregoli is an elementary school art teacher who lives in Dartmouth, Massuchusetts. The book is a true story about her neighbor, a lady everyone thought was eccentric until they bothered to get to know her. She raised goats and loved them very much. The book is full of beautiful paintings of the goat lady and her goats. You can see excerpts and paintings from the book here.
My favorite babies of the year: my two sons Huckleberry and Barbaro.
Best doeling of the year: little orphan Betsy, the Nubian-LaMancha cross. Betsy is smart like a LaMancha and sweet like a sweet Nubian.
Best horse of the year: Willen. Willen the Haflinger learned to drive this year. Right now he has a learner's permit. Next year maybe he can get a full license.
Best milker of the year: Runner-up goat-of-the-year Scouty is the surprise winner of best milker. She is still milking and everyone else (except Boo) is dried off.
Craziest goat of the year: April always wins this.
Best dog of the year and of all time: Spenny the border collie.
Best REALLY old border collie: KT Bailey.
Best guard dog and protector: Atticus (is that a Shetland Pony?) Pupicus.
Worst dog of the year: Wendell. Or as the farmer says: "WENDELL!! DID YOU DO THIS??!!!!"
Friends we miss and hope to see again: Marigold, little Martina, Marty, The General, Traveler, Harper Lee, Barnaby, Roosevelt, Herman, Ricky, Pilgrim, Whitman, Joey, Franky, Moony, Lolo, Margaret, Stevie Ray.
Friends we miss and won't see again: Stacy, Charzan, Orzbit.
Friday, December 29, 2006
I would like to thank everyone who voted for me! Votes came in from everywhere! From Colorado (thank you, Denver!), from Pennsylvania, from California (thank you, Mountain View!), from Canada, from Washington (thank you, Bremerton!), from Virginia, from Georgia, from Texas, from North Carolina, from Connecticut, from New Jersey, from Maryland, from Oregon (thank you, Cave Junction!). And these are just some of the votes.
It appears some voters may have voted more than once, which is very thoughtful. Some may even have voted more than a hundred times. I hope you do not get carpal tunnel, whoever you are!
In the end the totals went like this: Baby "Barack" Belle (me): 1756 votes.
Scouty "Joe Biden" the Nubian, a surprise dark horse candidate who received many votes from the Olympic Peninsula: 756 votes.
Crazy "Hillary the C" April, who neither sought nor accepted the nomination, and who thumbed her nose at voters everywhere: 300 votes.
Betsy, the orphan doeling who did not even know there was an election going on: 271 votes.
Breezy, aka "The Toaster," aka Juniper "don't hate me because I'm beautiful" Breeze, 110 votes.
And finally, in last place, probably because her picture does not do her justice, Herron Hill's Weeping Camel, aka Cammy "what's so funny about peace love and understanding?" the mini-Mancha, with only 64 votes.
Happy Happy New Year, everyone, from your Goat-of-the-Year! Yes, I will be on the cover of the farm calendar, on sale everywhere* starting Monday, New Year's Day!!!
*well, not really everywhere, but somewhere
Thursday, December 28, 2006
Wednesday, December 27, 2006
El Nino is a weather pattern in the Pacific Ocean which produces drier and milder winter conditions, due to the warming of ocean currents and something else I don't understand. There are a lot of scientists who know all about it and they explain on tv all the time how it works. I used to watch tv when I was a kid, but I don't any more.
Anyway all the weather people explained to us back in September that it was going to be an El Nino winter. It was extremely scientific. They had a lot of charts, with red and blue arrows, and little swirly things indicating ocean movements.
The farmer said "uh huh," and bought some more insulation for the pipes.
The neighbor from Longbranch explained what she had heard on the radio from the National Weather Service. It was going to be a nice dry mild winter, which would be a refreshing change from last year, when we had a whole month of torrential rain. It was unbelievably soggy.
The farmer said, "uh huh," and asked the hay man if we could get some extra hay.
And then the weather started: horrendous downpours (the rainiest month ever recorded here in one of the rainiest parts of the country), flooding, the worst windstorm ever, two snows before Christmas (we hardly ever get two snows in a year), two bitter cold snaps, one of which froze the pipes, even with their insulation on, and much more.
Now the weather people have new charts showing why what they said was really right even though it was wrong, and how in the future they will always be right again, and even if they are wrong, they still know everything, so it's the same as being right, and it's still scientific and impressive, even though it does not keep the trees from falling down in the wind, or the pipes from freezing.
Well, the neighbor from Longbranch was surprised. But the farmer wasn't.
"I don't go by the newspaper." the farmer explained. "I just go by Baby Belle." And back in September I was growing a woolly woolly coat. A coat to keep the rain and snow and wind out. A parka.
And that is why goats are better than Double Doppler radar.
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
1. Scouty is not capable of the premeditation required for willful cheating. It took her two years to realize that a baseball cap is not a living thing sitting on a person's head.
2. There is no cheating in this poll, which is being conducted according to the International "American Idol" electoral college rules. Vote early, vote often, vote in the dark, vote at work, vote at home, vote on vacation, vote in the airport, vote at Starbucks, vote at the mall, vote in the car, vote in the barn, vote in the milk parlor, etc.
Oh well. I'm sure I will win anyway when my law-abiding fans realize that it is okay to VOTE FOR ME AS MANY TIMES AS THEY WANT. Okay.
The G-O-T-Y voting will conclude at midnight PST on December 31. The Goat-of-the-Year will be announced on New Year's Day.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Thursday, December 21, 2006
So there is no need to give her any more pity votes.
Some people have asked me why I want to be Goat-of-the-year. What is the big deal?
Goat-0f-the-Year goes on the cover of the farm calendar, which comes out in January!
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
This is Winnie. Winnie is Brandy's daughter. Brandy is the herd queen. Together, Winnie and Brandy are known as the Sopranos. They go around making people offers they can't refuse.
Like for example, "get away from the alfalfa or I'll break your legs."
Or, "get up from that cushy hay pile, I feel like lying on it."
Or, "go to the end of the line or I'll bite a chunk out of your ear."
They are very direct. No time wasted on "would you mind," or "could I trouble you," or anything like that. Notice how Winnie wears a cheesy gold chain in the photo. She has the same fashion sense as Rocky Balboa.
When Brandy is not around, sometimes there is an insurrection against Winnie, and everyone will do a gang-up and push Winnie out of the barn, or shove her down the hill. Not very often, but sometimes. When Brandy is preoccupied.
But then Brandy comes back and everyone commences scurrying and kowtowing again and acting like it was all a big accident that everyone formed a scrum and steamrollered Winnie. And Winnie, oblivious as ever, goes back to thinking she is God's Gift to Goats.
Now Winnie, like Prince Charles, thinks that when Brandy decides to pass along her crown, she will be first in line. She has probably already got a speech written for the occasion. But I can tell you, that is not going to happen. Because Winnie is no Brandy. The common goats will not support her. Instead, Winnie's daughter, if she ever has one, will probably be the herd queen. Like little Prince Wills.
In fact, if Winnie has a baby girl next spring, the farmer is thinking of calling her Princess William.
Or maybe something else.
Now we are expecting another little windstorm, which likely will put the power back out for a while - there are big trees hanging by a thread everywhere.
And now Scouty is getting worse, so keep your fingers crossed. She is on Day 3 of the spider bite, which has turned her udder hot and swollen. The farmer thinks this will be the worst day, because the bite mark has turned purple and is starting to drift apart. so we will see what the vet says.
If you get bit by a spider and can't get to the doctor right away, put a paste of meat tenderizer on it, or a paste of activated charcoal if you don't have tenderizer. Take some milk thistle extract to help your liver push the poisons out. The farmer's friend who knows everything says Day 3 is always the worst day for a bad spider bite.
Anyway, now would be a good time to count our blessings.
1. We are on Herron Road, which turned out to be about the hardest hit road on the peninsula. We have our power back, and our next door neighbor has power back, but everybody west of us (there are two miles of Herron Road west of us) is still out because there is so much repair to do. Big trees just about everywhere. And that includes everyone on Herron Island - they get their power from the end of Herron Road, where the ferry dock is.
2. We have a generator now.
3. The farmer thinks Scouty was bitten by a black widow. That sounds bad, but it is much better than a brown recluse.
4. I am still winning in the Goat-of-the-Year poll.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Bad News: they say there will be another windstorm tomorrow night. Just a little one. But even a little one, if you could see some of the trees around here which are far from vertical if you know what I mean, won't be good. Anyway, the farmer likes the Lutherans now, the Lutherans got right on the ball and had a soup kitchen for everybody while the power was off. Some people are still off. The Lutherans also had sheet cake, which takes the sting out of powerlessness, in the farmer's opinion. The good kind of sheet cake, made with Crisco.
Good News: Right now I am winning the Goat-of-the-Year contest. But it changes every day.
Bad News: Scouty got bit by a spider on her udder. There is a big blood-red bite mark and then the rest of her udder is covered with hives. She is getting a meat tenderizer paste on it (takes the sting out) and lots of extra attention, which she doesn't notice, much less appreciate. I hope she didn't do it to try to get some sympathy votes.
Monday, December 18, 2006
I snuck into the barn and had my own water bucket. Those who are not as smart will have to get a little thirstier, I guess, before they acquire a taste for pond water.
The bad ponies were moved yesterday because they took advantage of there not being any electricity - i.e. no hot wire - to knock the fence down and stroll along the neighbor's driveway to browse down by the road with cars whizzing by. How uncouth, not to mention lazy - I always jump OVER the fence.
Do not forget to vote for Goat of the Year. That would be me, IMHO.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
We are keeping our spirits up pretty well...but it would help if we had some SWEDISH FISH or some GINGER SNAPS.
All the babies are coming in with us today as the creek-drinking jamboree begins...
Even the fat ponies are coming down here. Oy. They have no sense of decorum. The concept of waiting in line has never occurred to them.
Yes we are accepting votes for Goat-of-the-Year. Please do not forget. Vote by email or however, I am not a computer programmer so I cannot tell you how. The farmer says there will be a voting button soon but I sincerely doubt it.
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Now let's get back to the Goat of the Year contest. Please direct your attention below to the candidate information statements from the contestants.
1. Cammy. Please vote for me, I am cute. Thank you. Cammy's link.
2. Breezy. Please vote for me, all my friends endorse me. Breezy's link.
3. April. Vote for who you want, I don't care. I think the whole thing is stupid. April's link.
4. Betsy. I just saw a bird! It was flying! Look! Betsy's link.
5. Scouty. What? Where am I? Scout's link.
6. Baby Belle. First of all may I say how honored I am to participate in this great system of ours. And how much I love everyone. And how seriously I will take my responsibilities, if there are any, if I am elected to this important post. Please go to my link and observe my beautiful white coat and my magnificent, perhaps even perfect, goatee, and my two wonderful sons. And so on. And in closing, thank you, thank you, thank you. I'm just trying to make a difference in this world. Humbly yours. Baby Belle. Belle's link.
Friday, December 15, 2006
THERE WAS A BIG WINDSTORM.
The farmer was already grumbling because we just got the power on from not having any power for two days from the last windstorm, which wasn't a big windstorm, just an ordinary windstorm. The farmer had to carry water buckets to everybody and wasn't very happy, since it was also pouring outside.
The farmer asked Boo, "if you are so thirsty, why don't you just go outside and turn your head up?"
Boo wisely did not say anything, just waited politely for the bucket to be refilled, then drank all the water in just about one gulp so it had to be refilled again immediately.
So things were not that rosy when the day started.
After six years of power outages, the farmer finally broke down and drove to the store and bought a generator, so we knew that this time maybe they would be right about the big windstorm.
And THEY WERE. It was FIERCE.
The windstorm blew down ten BIG trees between our street and the highway, and our street is only a mile long. The power lines were down everywhere.
The farmer drove all the way into town, 14 miles, and there wasn't a stitch of electricity anywhere this side of the bridge. And there were ten trees down for every mile, and power lines in the road, and too many branches to even count. The paper says there are a million people without power. And since we are at the end of the line, we are always the last ones to get our power back on. So it will probably be several days.
And when there is no power, there is no water, because the well pump is electric.
You might think this would put the farmer in a very black mood. But you would be wrong. The farmer is very cheerful, even called the neighbors on the cell phone to chat about what a beautiful day it is today, and then mentioned, just casually in passing, how we got the very last generator in the store yesterday, about two hours before the power went out.
" The very last one," said the farmer.
Thursday, December 14, 2006
Here are the candidates:
1. Cammy (aka Weeping Camel). Cammy was born in the spring and as far as a I can tell she is being nominated just because she is really cute and cuddly. She is a little white-micro-Mancha. I would not vote for her, she isn't that adorable.
2. April. According to the farmer, April is nominated because she got very sick and struggled through her illness and never gave up when others might have fallen by the wayside, etc etc, but persevered through thick and thin, mostly thick. April is a crusty old bag and I would not vote for her.
3. Betsy, whose name is really Lolo, whose name is really Stacy's Starlight. Betsy is nominated because she is an orphan and because she won a blue ribbon at the big fair and got her picture on the front page of the paper. She is fine but I think her ears look funny so I wouldn't vote for her.
4. Breezy is nominated because she has had 13 kids in three years. I prefer quality over quantity, so I would not vote for Breezy. Also, she is a complainer if she doesn't get what she wants.
5. Scout. Scouty is being nominated for Goat-of-the-Year because even though she is not the smartest doe in the world she learned to stand nicely on the milkstand and has milked very well and is still milking well even though she kidded a long time ago. And she had two sweet, pretty kids. Excuse me, for this she gets nominated? Oy.
6. Baby Belle. Oh, what a surprise, that's me! I did not know I was nominated. How touching. It is an honor just to be nominated! Unfortunately I am too modest to mention all of my accomplishments including my many beautiful, sweet, friendly, productive children, my extraordinary personality, my luxurious white coat, my stupendous intellect, the exquisite goatee I have cultivated, and so many other things that would seem like bragging if I brought them up, but you surely must know what they are and how much more significant they are than the piddling so-called achievements of the other nominees! So many heartfelt thanks to everyone for considering me for Goat-of-the-Year!
Thursday, November 30, 2006
But the funny thing was that in the weeklong break from the unending downpours, this was also just about the coldest November ever. We had temperatures well down in the teens, and up north a little bit they were in single digits, with wind chills below zero.
It was so cold that Hannah Belle, who had been paroled from the horse trailer to the previously escape-proof yearling pasture, went out of heat, escaped from the yearling pasture (we still don't know how) and ran up to the barn, where she stood demurely waiting outside the baby stall. She didn't break anything, eat anything, knock anything over, or do anything objectionable. She just stood waiting politely to be let IN to the baby stall, which she spends most of her time getting OUT of. If she had had a white flag, she would have been waving it.
Why? Because that's where all the babies are, and they sleep together in a big toasty baby ball, which Hannah Belle usually wants nothing to do with.
But she was ready to join the furball sauna.
Thursday, November 23, 2006
For almost a year now, since the last breeding season, my daughter Hannah Belle, a former world class goat high jumper, has been pretty much strictly earthbound. Oh sure, now and then she would jump up on a cable spool. Or she'd jump up in the old apple tree. Normal type jumps, two or three or three and a half feet high.
She could hardly even be bothered to jump out of the big-girl stall, which has no upper doors, unless there was a grain party or something on the other side. She didn't jump the four foot fence, or the five foot fence, the way she used to. She didn't move magically from pasture to pasture, at will.
Now that she is almost three years old and a tad zaftig, we all thought she probably couldn't jump seriously any more. Not that she just didn't feel like it.
Well, we were wrong. Hannah Belle has come back into heat, and like Popeye with the spinach, she has her superpowers back. She jumped the four foot wall, trying to get to visit her boyfriend. So the farmer put another rail up above, at a little over five feet. It took some figuring, and some calculating - she backs up and steps off the distance, like those field goal kickers you see on tv, then does a couple of practice runs, then makes the jump - but that was no problem either.
From there she squeezes under the upper pasture gate, then goes down and jumps the lower pasture fence, then squeezes through the marsh-side fence at the bottom of the lower pasture (filled with holes courtesy of Willen the bad pony), squeezes back under the fence on the other side, and sashays up to the buck pen, where she parades nonstop in front of the bucks, driving them a little further, if that is possible at this time of year, insane.
Anyway, if you would like to reach Hannah Belle for the next couple of days this is her address:
Hannah Belle Lecter
inside the Logan Horse Trailer
c/o Herron Hill Dairy Goats
Wednesday, November 08, 2006
The farmer was engaging in some colorful vernacular, because water was coming into the barn and a trench had to be dug to get it to run out. The farmer asked if any of us would care to help with the digging of the trench, since we are the ones who live in the barn. But I believe that was what is known as a rhetorical question. Anyway, I pretended not to hear just in case.
And since it was a pineapple express, it was warm, too, which made everyone feel like they were in a really unpleasant sauna. Some flies who thought it was next year already prematurely woke up and staggered around the place drunkenly.
Monday, October 23, 2006
Well guess what, Willen the bad pony went to the pony academy and he has learned to pull a cart, as you can see, and looks very fetching in his cart-pulling outfit, or whatever it is called.
That's all well and good, I do not oppose ponies pulling things around or letting people sit on them, or jumping over little fences, or chasing foxes around the countryside. I wouldn't do it myself, but for ponies it is fine. After all, what else do they have to do? It's not as if they spend any time writing poems or thinking about the world's problems, like I do.
But anyway I heard the farmer going on about what a pony genius Willen is, and how cute he is with his cart, and wouldn't it be adorable to have a goat that could pull a little cart too. Wouldn't that just be the ticket.
Well, of course when I heard that I sidled away as best I could, and pretended not to hear anything, but then the farmer went on, saying, "of course it would have to be one of the smart ones," which sounded kind of ominous, because you know that means the Nubians won't be eligible, and Penrose the Toggenburg is not exactly working on her PhD either.
I felt hopeful, though, still, because after all the LaManchas are smart (if you like that kind of 'smart') and they're big, too, some of them actually look like Shetland ponies. But then I heard the farmer say, "and it would have to be one with a good personality," which closes the door on that group.
In fact, it pretty much left me and my daughter Hannah Belle staring at each other, since she has inherited my excellent mind and my outstanding personality along with several other remarkable qualities, including extraordinary good looks and unwarranted humility, as I have mentioned before.
And then the farmer said, "and I would want it be one with a nice beard."
And Hannah Belle kind of chuckled, because in the beard department, she has about as much going on as a beach ball.
Thursday, October 19, 2006
Sadly, many of the most gifted and visionary artists the world has known are not appreciated in their own community. We must admit that that is the case with Wendell. After an early immature period where he worked primarily in cloth and rubber, with slippers as his favorite medium, Wendell has moved on to working in metal, glass, and mixed media. Here is his latest installation, a pair of Bartell's reading glasses that have been fully "Wendellized."
And what did his craftsmanship and attention to detail (notice the delicately chewed tip of the earpiece) earn him? Nothing but yelling and a timeout in his crate.
It's true: This world was never made for one as beautiful as Wendell.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
Sunday, October 08, 2006
If you listen closely to the video you can hear April saying, "Where have you been? I have been sitting here in the dark waiting for you, young lady. You could have called. Are you listening? What's this all over you? Have you eaten? Stand up, please. Have you ever heard of a comb?"
Monday, October 02, 2006
Well good news I am feeling much better. Maybe the farmer is right and I shouldn't eat so many of those locust leaves. Anyway, Hannah Belle will not be writing my blog any more. Please report it if you see any further entries from Hannah Belle.
Today we went out in the front pasture for one of our last strolls of the season. Once the rains come back for good, we will give the front pasture back to the horses. So we gobbled as fast as we could the last of the blackberries.
Then Cammy and Mel and Willa climbed high up into the broken apple tree that fell over on its side at the top of the hill. It is ours now, there is no fence around it. The farmer says it is dead, so we can have it.
But I guess the farmer didn't notice all the apples growing on it. Even though it is lying on its side, it still has one foot in the ground. So I don't know how dead it is. But of course I would never contradict the farmer. Because the farmer knows EVERYTHING.
But anyway there is always one day when you look up and say to yourself, well, the summer is gone. And then of course you miss the summer, even though you were tired of it. It was so hot, and so dry. And the FLIES! Where did they all come from?
But oh goodness, now that it is gone, I miss it terribly. Luckily, I did stop a few times, to smell the weeds while they were knee-high. So I will have something to remember the summer by.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
on another topic ploease if you have a chance please send my some cookies. i am very hungry. It is not true what yoiu have herd that I am too fat. I am like a skeleton. send vanilla wafers or maybe some licoricewips. or i would even eat alfalfa anytihng owuld be better than this gfrass hay.
thanks ina dvance. xxxooo. hannah belle.
Monday, September 25, 2006
Scouty is our Goat of the Day.
She is a 2-year-old purebred Nubian and she has had 4 children, three boys (Teddy, Roosevelt, and Marty) and one girl (little Martina).
Scouty is a good milker and has learned (the hard way) to appreciate the many benefits of cooperation. She is one of triplets; she has a sister named Boo and a brother named Gem. She is the daughter of Marty (aka Wall St Maureen) and Sunset Pines Magic Wish, who goes back to the 1992 Reserve National Champion, Trillium Trails Carmel Corn. For those who may care, Carmel Corn was a beautiful brown-spotted doe, a 9-star milker (nine generations of star milkers), and LA 93, which is the highest score a goat has ever gotten on linear appraisal.
Likes: Scouty is an avid vegetarian and enjoys all types of food, especially peanut butter cookies, stale bread, corncobs, apples, pears, leaves, sprigs, twigs, bark and needles, and of course banana peels (watch your fingers.)
Dislikes: Scouty hates rain and changes to the schedule.
Friday, September 22, 2006
She jumped up and put two hoofprints right in the middle of the farmer's shirt. Then while the farmer was trying to brush the dirt off, she jumped up again and put two hoofprints on the farmer's pants. Then while the farmer was trying to brush that dirt off, she grabbed the paper show number pinned to the farmer's shirt and started eating it.
"She's eating your number," one of the spectators kindly pointed out to the farmer. While the farmer grabbed the first half of the number out of Betsy's mouth, she ate the second half.
Then it was time to go into the ring. In the ring, with no number and covered with hoofprints, the farmer thought Betsy would do very well because she had been practicing show-walking at home.
No indeed. Betsy bucked and pranced. While all the other goats were standing politely and chewing their cud, Betsy performed a triple toe loop, followed by the famous "flying swordfish" maneuver, followed by a festive, folk-inflected Lord-of-the-Dance jig.
"You are such a bad girl," the farmer was telling Betsy, just as the judge came up behind them unexpectedly.
"Yes she is," the judge agreed.
But she won the blue ribbon anyway.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
Betsy (aka Stacy's Starlight) and Wronny (aka Wrong Number) just got home from the big state fair. They are acting very conceited because they both won money. Betsy won a blue ribbon and made it to the final where they choose the champion. She was also on the front page of the Tacoma newspaper with this photo, showing off her good looks. The judge commended Betsy for her stature, her length of body, and her dairy character. Betsy does not even know what dairy character is. Or any other character. How ridiculous.
Wronny is preening all around because she won seventh place. SEVENTH PLACE! Since when do they have that many places? If I came in seventh I wouldn't even want anyone to know, and here she is flouncing all over the place like Cleopatra on a party boat on the Nile. It's sad, really.
Oh well, anyway, they both think they are all that. Stacy, wherever you are, guess what? Your silly little daughter won first place!
Sunday, September 10, 2006
Here is some free advice from me, for what it's worth.
It is easy to get very absorbed in what you are doing. It seems important. Believe me, I know.
But sometimes it is a good idea to stop and look up.
Look up: you can see the birds. Look up: you can see the stars. Look up: you can see the future coming right at you.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Enough about Wendell, here is a subject anyone could get interested in. I like my old boyfriend, Marquee, a lot, but let's face it he's no spring chicken and even if he were, a little variety does a body good. So anyway, I was pretty pleased when the farmer brought little CJ home. He's from a lovely family, for one thing, and I think you would be pretty hard pressed to find a cuter little gentleman anywhere.
Sunday, August 27, 2006
Thursday, August 24, 2006
The three sisters Betsy, Bertie, and Wronny (half-sisters, really) are going to the big state fair, so they had to get fair haircuts and collars. Now they are learning to walk in a fair-approved manner.
Betsy is so far getting an A+ in walking and general deportment. She will walk anywhere. More importantly, she will stop walking when you stop walking. This is one of the keys, if not the key, to civilized walking in pair formation.
Not satisfied with an A+, Betsy also comes immediately when she is called, and cleans the floor of the barn every evening, checking thoroughly in every nook and cranny for spilled grain. (Update: actually, Betsy's grade has been changed to an A++, because she likes being clipped with the big horse clippers.)
Wronny is getting a C. She will walk, reluctantly, with much tugging. Stopping is her strong point. She is always willing to stop, and checks frequently to see if you, too, might perhaps be interested in stopping dead in your tracks. Shall we stop? Shall we stop? I have an idea, why don't we stop? Let's stop, shall we? Should we stop here? What about here?
Bertie is getting an F-. Bertie alternates between absolute refusal to walk and full-out gallop punctuated by frequent 180 degree turns, grand jetes a la Baryshnikov, and abrupt - but momentary - stops. If she were a horse, she would make champion bucking stock. Her unique style of "walking" is enlivened by such screaming as would wake the dead. I wonder where she gets it? Possibly from her mother Boo?
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
Where did they go?
Marty and Martina went to Shaw Island in the San Juans.
Barnaby and Roosevelt went to a farm in Vaughn that raises Shire horses.
Harper Lee went to Carney Lake, where she is ruling the roost.
Herman, Pilgrim, and Ricky went to Seabeck. Tinky, my yearling daughter, went with them.
Moony and Betsy went to Duvall.
Franky and Joey, Barry and Whitman, and the two best babies of the year - my adorable sons Huckleberry and Barbaro - went home with some nice people from Port Orchard.
You might think that leaves us lonely. But no, because Lolo, Willa, Wronny, Cammy, and Wrusty - so full of himself already - are staying here.
Well, ok, we are a little bit lonely.
Bye bye, babies.
Remember who you are. Remember where you came from.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Chapter Two: The rescue lady called the farmer and asked if the farmer would take a puppy that was not housebroken.
Chapter Three: Wendell came to the farm. For almost a week, he pretended to be the sweetest puppy on Earth. He laid around in the farmer's arms in a very cheesy manner, looking up with an expression of kindness, obedience, docility, deep devotion. The farmer began saying things like: how lucky we are to find Wendell! what a sweet puppy! What could he possibly have done to get kicked out of a house in one day?
Chapter Four: True Wendell began to emerge. Several pairs of shoes (not the cheap ones, they were left alone) were eaten. Holes were dug under the fence. Goats were chased, until Winnie took matters into her own hands and t-boned Wendell definitively. This sent him rolling down the hill, curled in a festive little soccer ball shape, to the gratification of all of us in the lower pasture. A round of goat applause went up from the crowd at the fenceline.
A familiar sound began to be heard many times a day. This was the word "WENDELL!" yelled by the farmer in a tone of uncontrollable fury. One day Wendell ate the farmer's cellphone. This was the darkest day yet; the farmer simply said, "Wendell," without yelling at all, but in a tone of deep disappointment. Wendell hung his head.
Chapter Five: Wendell started to be good again, little by little. He was a year old by now, after all. He stopped - for the most part - eating shoes. Sometimes, when he was called, he would actually come.
Chapter Six: The Hay Lady came over. As usual, she came unannounced and unexpected. The Hay Lady has what the public health nurses like to call some "social deficits." When she comes over, the first thing she always does is take out a pack of cigarettes and start smoking in the barn.
"There's no smoking in the barn," the farmer always says, right away, and the Hay Lady blinks at the farmer, baffled that anyone anywhere would have a rule against smoking in a bone-dry douglas fir structure, filled with hay and straw and live animals who cannot open their stall doors (well, I can, but that's another story) should they need to leave in case of emergency.
"Good grief," the farmer always says, after the Hay Lady leaves. The Hay Lady has nothing going for her, except for the fact that she has nice, good, clean hay. And it's cheap. Actually, that's quite a lot.
The Hay Lady has a habit of bombing up the driveway, as if she is starring in a Ford truck commercial - you know the ones I mean, where some guy in a t-shirt goes blazing down a dirt road that runs between two cornfields in an F-150 with dust billowing behind him while country music plays.
Except the Hay Lady has an F-250, a jumbo one, for hauling her trailers and tractors around.
On this day she came bombing up the driveway, looking neither left nor right. Nor front. Wendell was outside by the back door, taking a break from tormenting the border collies. The Hay Lady ran right over Wendell.
The farmer heard Wendell crying - that horrible crying that you will never forget if you have ever seen a dog hit by a car - and ran outside. Wendell couldn't use his back legs, but he dragged himself to the farmer using his front paws.
The farmer picked Wendell up and put him into the car and drove him right to the emergency vet. He did not cry or whimper once on the way, just lay gazing at the farmer with deep devotion.
At the vet, he did not cry or whimper when the vet moved his legs around to see if she could find any obvious fractures. Instead, he looked at the farmer with deep devotion and a strange calm. The vet thought perhaps there were no fractures, since Wendell never flinched or cried out in pain. The x-rays would show.
The x-rays came back in a few minutes. Wendell's pelvis was fractured in at least four places. His bladder and kidneys were bruised; blood was pooling in his abdomen. Both hips were broken; one was shattered, with the head of the femur displaced.
"I can't believe he never cried," said the vet, looking at Wendell. Wendell was looking at the farmer, shaking a little bit, but still surreally calm. And with an expression of deep devotion.
Wendell would have to be put down unless an operation was performed to put his pelvis back together. A very expensive procedure. Without it, the vet explained, he would be in pain for the rest of his life, with bone rubbing on bone in several places. The operation would have to be performed in the city, 70 miles away, by a board-certified othopedic surgeon. Again, just to clarify, it would be very expensive.
Back at home, there was a message on the answering machine from the Hay Lady. "Sorry about the dog thing," she said. "Do you still want some hay?"
"His name is Wendell," the farmer said, to the answering machine.
Chapter Seven: Wendell went to the big city for his million-dollar surgery. For almost a week after, he pretended to be the sweetest puppy on Earth.
Thursday, July 13, 2006
Good luck, Barbaro.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
Friday, June 09, 2006
The last babies of the year are here. My boys, Barbaro and Huckleberry, came a week ago. As usual I did not cause any difficulty or trouble, and I produced two exceedingly fine specimens, who obliged everyone present by getting up immediately and drinking their milk.
Then a couple of days ago, the farmer put Boo the Nubian in a special stall in the barn, because she was getting ready to kid.
Now Boo, being a Nubian, is no Mensa candidate. But she is pretty, very pretty, and has a good personality. Except for sometimes kicking the milk bucket across the barn, which, from the way the farmer responds, is the reason why I guess people say someone has "kicked the bucket," meaning that they are no longer with us. There were certainly a couple of times when I thought Boo would no longer be with us, when I saw that stainless steel bucket, with two gallons of milk in it, go flying into the alfalfa, which, I hate to mention it, costs $175 a ton around here when things are going well. And right now, with the price of gas, things aren't going so well. But see I already got off on a sidetrack.
Anyway, Boo has an excellent personality, and that is her saving grace, and it appears inexplicably that the farmer is very attached to her. So she hasn't kicked any metaphorical buckets, just a few literal ones. There she was in the stall, pushing and straining and rolling and occasionally gasping in horror in a very Nubian-esque way, and the farmer kept saying, "she will be fine, she always does fine."
Now when the farmer says "she will be fine," in my experience that is usually followed by the farmer running to the house to get the truck keys and call the vet. Boo kept pushing for another half hour, and she popped her bubble out, and still no kids, and then finally as I could have told you, the farmer said, "okay, I'm going in."
So the farmer reached inside Boo and fished around for a while and then said, as I could have predicted, "Oh, no." It wasn't "nose-and-toes," which is what the farmer likes to feel on a fishing expedition, it was just toes. Long-leggedy toes reaching back to a big giant, sideways twisted head, nose nowhere in sight.
Well the farmer grimaced and grunted and pushed and rearranged and after the longest time, punctuated by many screams from Boo - not Nubian-esque screams, but real screams - was able to fish out a big baby buckling who is now named Herman Munster, because of his big (but lovable) blockhead. Herman was followed by Bertie (Sister Bertrille), his sister, who seemed tiny by comparison but actually weighed about 9 pounds. Both of them are Nubian-Lamancha crosses, and as you may have surmised, the girl has little Flying Nun ears.
After the birth of the giant twins there was a lot of congratulations and petting, and good snacks for Boo, and the farmer said to everyone and to no one in particular, "well, that's it for another year," because Boo was the last bred doe of the season. And since it was late, everyone went to bed, thanking their stars that the last babies of the season had arrived in one (large) piece.
In the morning, the farmer checked on all the babies and the mothers, then went down to check on the down-below girls, dry does and yearlings in the lower pasture. And who do you think was down there?
Penrose. Stacy's best friend, also known as the baroness, who has been bred umpteen times every year for the last three years. And never kidded. And who do you think was standing next to Penrose, basking in the glow of her utter and complete adoration?
Pilgrim, the teeny tiniest Toggenburg of all time, a teacup Toggenburg and the REAL last baby of the season. Arrived all unannounced, with no help from anybody, and happy as a clam just to be here.
Ah, an unexpected baby goat. It's a beautiful life.