Monday, December 29, 2008

The Fence Magician

Helo to everyone this is hannahbelle. blue went into heat and cannot think so I am running the blog after all. right now i am in a stall with Captain January. he looked really good yesterday but not today. he certainly could fix himself up. his hair is an awful sight and as far as hjygiene forget it.

penrose is in here too and her and me have been giving each other looks like, "what happened to this dude? is it just me or did he look really good yesterday?"

also I thinkl both of us are wondering "what kind of captain is he anyway?" He doesn't look very military, what with the grooming deficits and all. its funny the things you think of the day after you were in heat.

whatever.

big brownie didn't die after all, just needed about 4 gallons of transmission fluid. as of thios moment Big Brownie needs constant trannfusions of power steering fluid, motor oil, transmission fluid, and various other car electrolyutes to keep from dying every few minutes.

what kind of life is that? Pull the plug, I say.

tubster is in trouble because she got hold of the farmer's bag of gourmet Christmas popcorn and pulled it through the wire fence while the farmer wasn't looking and ate the whole thing bag and all. she's like a little magician when it comes to pulling things through the fence. she's much better than that guy who's always on tv hanging upside down in a straightjacket in Times Square.

if you put vanilla wafers or peanuts inside a piano she would pull the whole thing through the no-climb fence while you went to fill the water bucket. grand piano, any kind, it wouldn't matter. poof.

that's the news from lake snowbegone.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Guest Blogger, or It Could Be Worse

Hello everybody. I don't feel very good so I am going on some special medicine from the vet and my daughter Baby Blue will run the blog for a few days while I am recuperating.

My daughter Hannah Belle Lecter was going to run the blog but she went into heat and can't think straight. Right now she is thinking in a strictly circular direction. Also she lacks a certain, how shall I say, literacy. Blue is much more scholarly.

In other news Willen and Marquee got new jackets. Willen's is purple and he looks very princely in it. Marquee's is blue and he looks like a really old buck in it. But with a good personality.

The snow is melting like mad. Right now it is the ugliest dirty white mat you have ever seen.

It has been warm for two days now, and the farmer thinks we may be able to get our beautiful new (1997!) truck Big Red out of the driveway today or possibly tomorrow at the latest. Our ugly old truck Big Brownie has 4wd but the day before yesterday Big Brownie blew its transmission at the top of the driveway, after serving manfully throughout the entire record-setting snowstorm, so it could be worse, which is one thing we are frankly getting a little bit tired of saying even though it is true.

One of the neighbors thinks BB can be fixed but we are not betting on it and besides Big Brownie is one of the good-riddance things we will be glad to see the end of in 2008.

Here's your hat, Big Brownie, what's your hurry. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Total Abstinence Principle

We wished for a white Christmas, and we got it. So all we can do is laugh!!! Merry Christmas, everyone!!!!

"...Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim who did NOT die he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.

He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle*, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us Every One! "


from "A Christmas Carol," By Charles Dickens.



* The Total Abstinence Principle has nothing to do with teetotaling or the avoidance of other ordinary vices; instead it is abstinence from being bitter, mean-spirited, angry, dour, greedy, grasping, self-centered, and unforgiving. Especially dour.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Make It Stop


Unbelievable. Unbelievable snow. Yesterday we got a layer of ice about an inch thick on top of our previous snow. Then on top of that it snowed all day and we got who knows how much more new snow. The ice is like plywood - you plunge your foot through it and then you can't walk because your legs are trapped. Like those Puritans that would have to sit in the town square for punishment.

Tangy went running outside when she saw the farmer (why?) and got trapped after about four steps, up to her belly in the snow with her feet stuck in the little ice collars she had made while she still had momentum.

But the farmer just left her because the farmer was running (snow running) with a push broom down to the down-below pasture, where the roof was bowed in about a foot with so much snow on it.

The farmer tried to move those goats to the big barn, but all the goats down there are at least part Nigerian and after seeing the little Tangy snow figurine they wouldn't budge. Then the farmer yelled and threw snowballs until they all moved into the top shed, where the roof was holding steady, and spent about an hour brushing as much snow off the lower roof as possible.

Then the farmer went up to the dairy and tried to brush snow off the dairy roof, which now has not only its own snow but the snow that has come off the steep barn roof as well. The farmer must be part Nigerian also, because the farmer decided not to climb up on the roof to get the big drifty parts at the top where the barn roof and the dairy roof meet.

Out on the highway one of the little bus stops just pancaked down to the ground under the weight of the snow.

It's official now. After over a week stuck in the barn, we're tired of the snow. Even Penrose the Toggenburg - a Swiss goat, for goodness' sake - has had enough. Please make it stop.

Only one crazy individual still enjoys it. One crazy white mountain-bred individual, who now bounds around everywhere with his tail wagging, the happiest clam in Western Washington.

You can just see him thinking - finally! Some nice weather! It's about time!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Things to do on a Snowy Day

Yes, it is another snow day. We are enjoying it, though, since the power didn't go out (yet) and we still have some grain, although the farmer has already warned us that when the grain is gone we may not be able to get any more for a while, since the roads are so bad. I don't know why the farmer wasted all that time collecting firewood when the time could have been used to go to the feed store while it was open. Best not to say anything right now, though, I think.

Anyway when you are stuck in the barn you can cry about it or you can improve yourself.

I have been watching educational animal videos to expand my mind, if that is possible. I don't watch long videos, since that's boring. Instead I watch YouTube snippets.

Here are some I recommend. I advise you to watch only the ones I chose, because if you start clicking on the random 'related' videos the next thing you know the whole day is gone.

Educational Video Number One: This video is called "Killer Horse Saves Baby" but we don't know why, since the horse is very heroic and saves a baby, then gallops through the streets of somewhere in India with the baby in its mouth and bad men in hot pursuit. The best part is that no one seems surprised to see a horse galloping with a baby in its mouth, that must be quite common over there. Anyway, completely incomprehensible but VERY dramatic. Hooray for Bollywood!

Educational Video Number Two: In this video, two greedy orphans, a fawn and a foal, get their milk from a nice Alpine doe.

Educational Video Number Three: Very frightening clip, a killer rabbit attacks a goat. Goat is forced to take extreme measures to escape.

Educational Video Number Four: Sheep cheese video. Jackie the border collie, one of our favorite Internet dogs, herds sheep up in the mountains in Italy. Then the sheep are brought in for milking and that is explained too. Brava, Jackie!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

WTB: Farm in Florida

My gosh, it's nice out, the weather has warmed up to 24 degrees and I am looking for my shorts. The frozen sheets of ice everywhere are so pretty. The sound of the cars spinning out on the road puts me in the Christmas Spirit.

But they say today after our balmy morning of temps in the twenties, we will get a real storm. Not like the candy-coated blizzards of the past week, no indeed, a real howler, with snow for our area (just south of the Kitsap Peninsula and just east of the Hood Canal) predicted somewhere in the 6 to 18 inch range. And fierce winds, of course.

Meanwhile we wait to see if the furnace can be fixed. The neighborhood electrician is on a heroic journey to Home Depot in search of the right part. He is hopeful that they "possibly might" have what we need.

What difference does it make anyway, the power is sure to go out and the furnace is electric.

We may need a new farmer after this, the one we have is wearing out. Too many trips through the snow with water buckets for the thirsty.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Humility is its own Reward

Yesterday we had a lot of snow and now it has settled into an icy sheet out on the roads. Ordinarily we would say, how lovely, but of course the first thing that happened when it got down into the 20s was the furnace went out (again), followed by the pellet stove (again), leaving no heat in the farmhouse. Tonight it is supposed to get down to 16 degrees. So everyone is hoping that the man who fixes the furnace will be able to get up the steep icy driveway in his big van.

If he can't, the farmer said threateningly, Willen the Haflinger is going to have to go down and pull him up. Willen kept eating stoically as if he didn't care when he was informed of this.

Anyway, as I may have mentioned, everyone has been jamming into the barn lately to make a communal goat ball of heat, and it's really quite cozy. The farmer keeps piling more and more bedding, and by now we have about a foot of straw.

In other news, even though I am by nature humble, modest, and unassuming, I must point out that my well-deserved personal fame continues to grow. I have just been interviewed by the blogmeister from the excellent blog Pacific Northwest Cheese Project, which keeps track of all the small farmstead and artisan cheesemakers in the Northwest.

There are more and more cheesemakers out there all the time, which is encouraging considering the dreary state of things in general. Some of them are very well known and not so small; people like Kelli Estrella, who has become in a few short years one of the premiere cheesemakers in the country, if not the world. The Estrellas make beautiful cheeses. The best one, of course, is the Grisdale Goat.

Some of the farms are teeny-tiny (almost as small as ours) but make wonderful cheeses. Rhonda Gothberg up in Bow makes lovely goudas but she only has about 15 LaMancha milkers, so it isn't easy to find her cheese. The people down at Pholia Farm in Oregon make all of their cheeses from Nigerian milk. So even though I haven't been able to try their cheese yet, I'm quite sure it is the best.

Anyway, Pacific Northwest Cheese Project has links to all the farms and lots of great cheese information.

And, of course, right now it has an interview with me, humble me the humblebee, a little goat from the country with a big dream. Power to the Goats!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Best Medicine

Christmas Goat News.

Come to think of it, I am not feeling so well myself. Maybe it is time to go off my feed.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Blizzard Update

Oddly enough, it's actually blizzarding now, as the weather lady predicted, with the wind swirling in all directions and snowflakes so fat you can hear them when they hit your face. I can barely see my hoof in front of my nose. What with my dazzling white coat, I am probably totally invisible to the general public right now. Egads.

There is no picture of this because the farmer cannot operate the camera with mittens on, but just imagine a pure white Dr. Zhivago tundra stretching as far as the eye can see (maybe three feet or so).

Color Me Blue

Well this has already been one of the longest cold snaps ever and now they say it will go on through next week also. Although of course they always change what they say, so maybe by next week they will stop saying that and say something else. I hope so, anyway, because my ancestors are from Nigeria and I don't think there are many blizzards there, which is what they are predicting for today.

It is so cold that I left my private shed and went in with the riffraff to sleep in the communal goat ball, where the main problem is that if you get stuck next to Boo the Winnebago and her daughter Bertie the Greyhound Bus, you can easily get too hot. Not to mention crushed in your sleep.

Anyway, everything is relative because the other day we got an email from one of my grandsons who lives in Montana and it was -76 there. Sacre bleu!

The farmer is muttering and cursing, lugging water buckets everywhere because all the pipes outside had to be shut off. The service in general is quite poor.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Weather Report from Billings West

This morning's temp: 18 degrees, cutting wind from the East (that awful wind from the East), sky pale glacial blue, small clouds scudding westward. Farmer stubbed toe and swore loudly after kicking one water bucket in hopes the ice was just on the top and would shatter. No; two feet thick of what felt like concrete, ice right down to the bottom. We are on the lookout for polar bears. If anyone finds this diary, please have it published in the Atlantic Monthly or Goats Quarterly.

The farmer went to the feed store this morning while the getting was good, because it is bone cold out and not going to get any warmer and they are predicting snow again on Wednesday and the roads are already pretty sketchy.

But anyway the farmer went to the feed store, fishtailing along down the long hill that leads into Vaughn, and then putt-putting the rest of the way at about 20 mph, and at the feed store the loader came running out, dressed as a Tibetan yak herder in lots of woollies and one of those hats with the flaps.

Flaps were down, obviously.

"Welcome to Montana!" he burbled, inexplicably chipper.

My MSB

Here is a picture of my magnificent snowy beard. This was taken while I was working at my summer job picking apples. My winter beard is even more snowy and magnificent but unfortunately right now it is so cold that the camera isn't working, probably because the farmer doesn't want to carry it around with mittens. So anyway here is a summer picture of my magnificent snowy beard.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Hay Weather

Well the first big storm of the winter is supposed to blow in here tonight. It is starting to get cold, which is fine with me, since I took the trouble to grow my coat out. And my magnificent snowy beard, which keeps my chin warm. And my neck.

Anyway, there is quite a bit of hatch-battening going in. The good part is everyone gets extra hay when it is cold. The farmer complains about it, muttering and stamping and throwing down more hay from the loft. "Extra hay, what extra hay? There is no extra hay."

Then the usual diatribe about the price of hay etc and maybe a blistering soliloquy on the price of grain, then some more stomping. And then we finally get the hay.

So I say, let it snow.


Sunday, December 07, 2008

Baby Belle's Delicious Square Pie

This is my recipe for delicious square pumpkin-chevre-caramel pie. I guarantee it is delicious. Only don't make it in the summer, just make it in the fall or winter when the butterfat is high.

Ingredients:

2 readymade pie crusts from the store (don't be ridiculous, it is much better to buy pie crust than make it these days)
4 eggs from your neighbor's chickens (don't use nasty store-bought eggs)
29 oz pumpkin, fresh or canned (Trader Joe's has a nice organic pumpkin filling if you don't have a fresh pumpkin handy)
1 cup sugar
1 t salt
2 t cinnamon
1 t ginger
1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk
1/2 cup chevre (make it from your Nigerian milk. If you don't have any Nigerians, stop reading this.)
1/2 cup goat milk caramel cajeta. (You can use LaMancha, Nubian, or mini milk to make the caramel if you are out of Nigerian milk.)

This is a double pie. Take both of your crusts and press them into an 11x14 rectangular baking dish. You will have a little extra crust, so fancy up the rim to make it look like you labored for hours over a handmade crust. Maybe you could make a sort of a rolled rope, or do one of those things where you make little hummingbird footprints all around the edge with a fork. Do something artistic.

Beat all the remaining ingredients together. Don't leave out the ginger. Add filling to your square pie and bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes, then reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 50 minutes longer or until a knife comes out clean.

Okay then while the pie is cooling take a pint of cream, 1/3 cup sugar, and a tablespoon of nice rum (don't use nasty rum). Whip up some whipped cream. Use this for your topping.

Serve your pie and accept the admiration of your guests. When they ask you where you got the recipe, say, "from Baby Belle, of course."

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Captain of the Hiking Team

I don't know if anyone remembers Winnie, Jr., or not. She broke her leg when she was a baby in a very transparent attempt to get a lot of attention and be allowed to live in the house for a while, where they have television, microwave popcorn, and fig newtons.

She did in fact accomplish her goal, mostly by mewing like a kitten and shivering weakly. That was after the leg was good and broken. When she actually broke it she ran around screaming on three legs until she saw the farmer and then she ran on a beeline to the farmer and collapsed in the farmer's arms in a limp little heap, just about sobbing. It was like a scene from "Gone With The Wind."

Fine if you like melodrama. A little much for my taste.

Anyway, Winnie Jr., got a cast on her leg and an inordinate amount of attention. Unfortunately all the coddling gave her a taste for the limelight, and she has been a pest ever since. So when the farmer came around the other day and asked if anyone wanted to go hiking, Winnie, Jr. went into her usual "pick me, pick me" gyrations.

She was selected to go on the hike, big surprise. Tangy was also selected, because she likes to follow Winnie, Jr. around. And Binky was selected because she accidentally walked out the door when it opened. She is part Nubian. The wrong part, if you know what I mean.

Anyway, off they went to Longbranch to hike at Surprise Ranch. They went over meadow and dale, through the little forest and up the hill, eating what they found - sword fern, blackberry, huckleberry, salal, hardhack, grass, leaves.

Winnie Jr. led the doelings, looking neither to right nor left and not questioning any of the farmer's navigational decisions, even when they all got tangled in barbed wire. Even when they stumbled across the bones of a large (deer?) recently eaten creature. Even knowing as everybody around here knows that the woods in Longbranch are full of bear and hybrid half-wolf coyotes, bold as brass and big as German Shepherds.

Even knowing that, Winnie Jr. soldiered on, calm as a cucumber. She didn't bat an eye, even when Binky fell in the creek and started shrieking. Winnie Jr. just stopped and started eating hardhack while she waited for Binky to realize that the creek was only six inches deep and she wasn't drowning.

Then Winnie Jr. soldiered on again and at the end of the hike, or so she says, she was named Captain of the Hiking Team.

How tiresome.

In other news, finally finally finally Peaches' triplets got to go to their new home. They had been delayed by all kinds of things, including the pox quarantine, and their new family had been waiting for them literally for months.

Anyway, when they arrived at their new home they found a special, very pretty little barn built just for them, and a welcome sign hanging on it with their three names written by the two boys who live there. And now we just got a message that the little boy - he is almost eight - sets his alarm clock every morning so he can get up early and go out to the barn to read to the goats.

They chew on his coat and lick the book while he is reading.

That sounds like a pretty good deal.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

GNN: Hornline News

These stories just in from the Goat News Network:


Down from the Mountain

An Idaho goat was recently apprehended in connection with an alleged break-in. "I was just looking for Boo," explains Mr. Snowy. "She promised to go out with me."


Baby Goat Born in A Manger

Again. No Kidding.


Goats Photoshopped Into the Army

"But I'm a pacifist," protests Private Billy.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Baby Belle 2.0

I am on Twitter now. I am the only goat on Twitter. If you are a goat and you get on Twitter, tweet me and I will tweet you back. Please no Nubians, only goats who can spell.

www.twitter.com/babybelle

Monday, December 01, 2008

Repenting at Leisure

Boo had to go and see her boyfriend. She bellowed non-stop. She wouldn't eat. Her boyfriend was running and jumping in circles and blubbering desperately trying to find a way out of his pen and coming pretty close to succeeding a few times and not doing the fence any good either.

The farmer was trying to do some chores and couldn't stand to listen to it any more even though Boo wasn't supposed to be bred until next month. "Fine," the farmer said and put Boo in with her boyfriend.

Peace.

One day passed. Boo woke up in alarm. How did I get here? She said to herself.

She was trapped in a pen with a large smelly creature almost entirely lacking in the social graces not to mention rather a pig like herself and not one she could simply steamroller out of the way as she was accustomed to doing in her previous home when the hay-and-grain trolley came through.

She bellowed non-stop.

The farmer didn't care, because the pen was far enough away that the bellowing had almost a romantic sound, like a little ship lost at sea in a deep fog. "How quaint," thought the farmer.

And as an added plus, Boo's boyfriend had completely given up trying to find ways out of his pen since he now had a live-in girlfriend and a very fine lady at that even though she had recently taken to running from him with a surprising amount of vigor for a Nubian. This of course only made him like her better.

"You made your bed," the farmer said to Boo.

"Wha-a-a-a-a-a-a-at???" bellowed Boo.

"And now you must lie in it."

"Wha-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-at????"

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Song For a Rainy Day

This is Blue's song.

Song for a rainy day in a rainy week in a rainy month in a rainy season in a rainy part of the world.

If Blue has a daughter this year we are going to call her - guess what - Rainy Day.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Word to the White House


Let me just state for the record, if there is one, that I have no objection to dogs in general. As a species, they are fine. Atticus for example is a good dog. He protects us. Just last week he bit an Intruder Dog on the hiney when it thought it would dig its way under the fence into our pasture.

My favorite part was that the hapless I.D. hardly knew what hit it. All it saw was a big white blur and then it started yelping and scratching until it wiggled its way back out, bursting its buttons in its hurry to leave.

"And don't come back," I yelled after it. Sucker.

Wendell on the other hand is a pest, that's why we call him Wendell the Pest. And Atticus doesn't do anything about him, either, just let's him run around yipping and nibbling people's heels while he pretends to be a border collie.

For a while I would yell and try to summon Atticus with theatrical performances but he could tell that Wendell wasn't really hurting anyone, so he just lifted one eyebrow and then went back to sleep.

So I have made the decision to rise above Wendell, and so has the rest of my family. We simply ignore him, or sometimes we say, "You are an absurd individual," or clever and cutting remarks like that, which of course he doesn't understand.

Penrose and Winnie cannot rise above him, and they often get very blue in the face trying to t-bone him as he circles gaily around them like a little mosquito.

Oh well.

My point is that dogs can be a pain, and I don't think anyone would deny this, and that is why I was surprised to learn that the new President is planning to get a dog for his daughters.

This is ridiculous. There have already been way too many dogs in the White House.

Abraham Lincoln and all the sophisticated presidents have had goats at the White House. I submit to you this photo of the resident goat, "His Whiskers," from the Harrison White House.

President Lincoln would spend hours watching his goats frolic on the lawn. President Harrison was famous for chasing His Whiskers down Pennsylvania Avenue one day when His Whiskers thought he would venture out for a stroll. His Whiskers is said to have been the inspiration for the "Billy Whiskers" books, one of the most popular children's series ever written.

I think it's about time we returned to our rightful place as First Pets. Little Tad Lincoln even let his goats sleep on the bed. Beds are quite comfy, I know that from my own early experience as a house goat.

Anyway, I think "Change We Can Believe In" should mean "GOATS IN THE WHITE HOUSE."

I plan to do something about it. But what?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fat Update

There was a mistake on the previous reporting of Blue Umbrella's milk test. Actually, there were two mistakes. The first mistake was that Blue had 7% protein and that that was the highest in the herd. The farmer was in a rush and didn't read the report correctly. The highest butterfat was Xie Xie the yearling milker who had 7.6% compared to Blue. Only that was also a mistake, so there were three mistakes, because Blue did not have 7% butterfat, she had 7% protein. Blue had 13.77% butterfat.

That is correct, 13.77%. Nice try, Xie Xie.

This Just In: The Rain Stopped Falling. Large Round Ball Sighted Briefly in Sky.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Eyes Have It

It is okay to have interesting problems, but sometimes when you are making cheese the problems get way too interesting. In this case, we blame the pea hay.

The farmer made three different batches of cheese, from three different batches of milk, on three different days. Everything looked nice. The cheeses were aged for a while. The farmer went to taste the cheeses. On the outside, fine. On the inside, a surprise. Eyes. More eyes than an elderly potato.

The farmer tasted the cheeses. They all tasted nice, but they all tasted like swiss cheese. Because they were. Because propionic acid bacteria, the culture that gives swiss cheese its eyes and some of its characteristic flavor, had apparently somehow invaded them. That's right, p. shermanii, aka Propionibacterium freudenreichii subsp. shermanii.

Doh.

Well, how did that happen? We don't have any p. shermanii here since we don't make swiss cheese, since you can't sell swiss cheese at the Farmer's Market, that would be like trying to sell organic Velveeta. A posse of angry epicureans would be on your tail in a heartbeat. They would put on their Neal's Yard Dairy t-shirts and their Herve Mons baseball caps and run you right out of town.

The farmer went to a dark secret corner of the Internet where the cheesebrains (different from cheeseheads) lurk and on bended knee asked the oracles what might be causing the p. shermanii invasion.

First there was silence on the other end, then hypotheses started coming in. It turns out that this is the time of year that the wild propionics begin to emerge, as the animals move onto their winter feed. Some feeds make a better home for the wild propionics, and it turns out that pea hay is much more hospitable to p. shermanii than alfalfa.

Usually we eat alfalfa, but this year we're eating pea hay. It's delicious, I can see why the wild props like to live in it.

Anyway, that seemed to solve the mystery, but not the problem.

The farmer was talking to another much better and smarter cheesemaker and bemoaning the accidental swiss cheese. Who wants to buy farmstead swiss cheese? Swiss cheese comes in sandwich slices in a plastic bag, swinging from the supermarket hooks.

The smart cheesemaker tut-tutted kindly. "Don't be silly. People love swiss cheese. You just can't call it swiss cheese. You have to call it Gruyere."

Ah, of course, Gruyere.

Or as they say at Microsoft - that's not a bug, that's a feature.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Rain Keeps....Etc

I can't read but sometimes I feel like I can. Like this morning the farmer came into the barn in a dripping wet 'waterproof' jacket and said, "guess what, everybody, today in the newspaper it says that the rain will keep falling."

Apparently the exact headline in the newspaper was: "Rain Keeps Falling."

I felt like I knew that already. That's why I was standing inside, as a matter of fact. Because outside the rain was falling, and falling in such a way that it appeared to me, illiterate as I am, that it intended to keep falling.

"Rain Keeps Falling" is not that good of a headline, in my opinion. Not around here, anyway.

"Rain Stops Falling" is something you could put in the paper, right on Page One.

Anyway the two Nigerian bucks, Marquee and CJ, came up to the big barn today because their buck shed, which is halfway down the hill toward Lost Beaver Lake, had been transformed into a mudbath.

They were very pleased and made fools of themselves. Their manly aroma filled the air. Almost to bursting.

"What is that wonderful smell?" Boo asked me.

Oh great, I thought. Soon enough she started in moaning and sighing and all but waving a hanky at Marquee.

"Yoo hoo," she warbled, in Nubian.

Oh great, I thought.

I wished I could go outside.

But Rain, for those who can read, Keeps Falling.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Tomorrow Is Coming!

"I am doing an optimistic collection, because things are going badly."

-- Coco Chanel



Well, here we are on the first Monday in November, on the doorstep of winter, and the endless gray rains have started, the economy is in ruins, the mud is already ankle-deep, the farm dog died, the pox lives on, the leaves turned, the cheese in the cheese room got invaded by wild props (more on that later), the furnace broke down, the roof started leaking, and Viceroy the Lamancha buck somehow broke out of his pen and went on an unseemly rampage of goat passion, the details of which are far too frank for the tender ears of the general public.

The creek, you can bet on it, will almost certainly rise.

And how does that make me feel?

OPTIMISTIC!

Come on, tomorrow!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Pox, The Loaves, The Fishes, The Fat Girls

I do not like to complain but we have had a tough row to hoe lately, what with the goat pox, which eventually spread almost everywhere and struck down almost everyone, including me (how unfair!) and most of my Nigerian relatives.

Most of us really couldn't care too much about it except it is kind of a pain. The Nubians didn't notice it, I don't think, and the LaManchas only had very mild cases. But a few of the goats were miserable, including Cammy who had a nasty pox blister right under her eye, but especially all of the Toggs and Togg crosses.

For some reason they were hit very hard. Penrose was miserable and got lots of sympathy until her daughter Lucy got the pox, then she was shunted aside because Lucy had the worst case of all, much worse than Penrose. But even Eo was under the weather.

The only ones who didn't get it were the fat girls. The fat girls have their own separate shed where they are served a complete bread and water diet. Just kidding about that, they don't get any bread. It is a maximum security facility with no outside contact or grain-smuggling visitors, and that's why it remained pox-free. They just get little dry twigs of grass hay, like something you would throw in the bottom of a hamster cage. Every day they stare at the feeder in disbelief - is this a joke?

Then they gobble the dry sticks like mad, like the old Catskill Mountains vaudeville routine - the food here is so terrible! And such small portions! If it is their birthday they get a leaf of chard as a special treat. You think that is a joke but food is so scarce in there that they fight over the chard when they see it coming. The ground shakes, believe me. If you have never seen a chard riot, it is really something.

The fat girls are Breezy, Tubster, and Snow Pea. Not to say there aren't other fat girls, but these three are the ones who have gone beyond the pale. Tubster in particular from a very young age has been remarkably spherical. No amount of dieting reduces her; somehow she is able to skip the step of digesting and gain weight just by thinking about food. It is kind of a miracle, like the loaves and fishes, only in reverse.

Or something like that.

Anyway, now that we are starting to come out of the end of the pox tunnel, everyone looks a little brighter. I don't want to jinx anything but still - STILL - there are three goats who have never gotten the pox, in spite of living right at the center of the outbreak. Two of them are mother and daughter. The other is probably just too dumb to catch anything. I won't say who they are, but you probably know.

Don't worry, unless I decide to do another one, this will be my last post on the tiresome subject of the pox.

Friday, October 31, 2008

What About Moony?


There have been complaints, as there always are, regarding the current election (see below) for the cutest kid of all time. This is always a problem in a democracy, especially if the democracy is rigged. Anyway, some people have intimated that Peanut might be cheating.

"So what?" I said, when I heard this allegation.

Then there were some sour-grape complaints from some of the unnominated goats and their mothers. The minis in particular were complaining. Peaches asked everyone - what about my kids? What about Ginger Jones? What about Augie and Hermy and Julius? Why weren't they nominated? Because of mini prejudice, she implied.

"So what?" I said.

Being extremely polite I didn't mention that Peaches should go take a look in the mirror. I noticed and you probably did too that she didn't mention her daughter Tubster. Tubster is no beauty queen, and minis in general just aren't as cute as Nigerians. That's the way it is.

If anyone should be complaining, it's me. What about my adorable son Bobby? What about Huckleberry? What about my other supermodel grandson Goatzilla? Or Harley or Cora Belle? Or Betty for goodness' sake? The list goes on and on.

Well the farmer ignored all the grumbling because who has time for the complainers of the world. But then Betsy came up, and since she hardly ever complains, she was allowed to speak her mind, which in my opinion is a big mistake, because she is part Nubian.

"What about Moony?" Betsy wanted to know. Moony is Betsy's brother.

Everyone shrugged in a very French way. "What about him?"

"He was really really cute."

"So what?" I said again, because get over it, Moony wasn't nominated.

"Yes, but he was an orphan," said Betsy.

Well, that's true. He was an orphan.

What about Moony?

The polls will close in one hour or whenever the farmer finishes milking, whichever comes first.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Smackdown


The gauntlet has been thrown down. Smidgen, the tiniest doeling ever born at Herron Hill, dares to challenge kid-of-the-year Peanut, the tiniest buckling ever born here, to a cutest baby of all time (so far) contest.

Betty has not protested, even though she was very cute when she was born, and neither has Goatzilla. So the fight is on.

Good luck Smidgen. You will need it.

Th Poll has ended. Peanut "Mayor Daley" The Kid won. Smidgen came in second. For a while she was ahead. Then she was behind. Good try, Smidge.

Final Score:
Peanut: 328
Smidgen: 198

Monday, October 20, 2008

The 7% Solution


My daughter Blue Umbrella, aka Baby Blue, aka Blue, is certainly the prettiest of the regular milkers and obviously the smartest, and her milk tastes the best. The farmer uses Blue's milk as the daily latte milk, since it is the sweetest. But the farmer didn't want to put her on regular milk test since she is a first freshener and only had a single kid, so she is just milking once a day. On test everyone is milked twice a day.

So the farmer decided to do a one-time test on Blue's milk just out of curiosity. All the other milkers average between 3.5 and 4.5% with their butterfat. They do go up some in the winter, to give them credit for their mediocre efforts, but usually they average around 4% for the year. The butterfat is what makes the milk taste good, and it is what the cheesemakers want to make beautiful cheese.

Sheep have high butterfat, maybe starting around 6%, and this is why people milk sheep, because why else would anyone milk sheep? No offense to the sheep of the world, but if you think the Nubians are low on the IQ totem pole, what until you see the sheep.

There are sheep out there that make Boo look like Stephen Hawking. And that isn't easy.

Anyway, the test came back and of course Blue had the highest butterfat of anyone, and almost double some of the big girls. That's right, 7%. One of her great-grandmothers milked 11%, so we will see what happens in the winter, she may go up even higher.

But anyway, ha. Meanwhile the big large bossy girls fill the pail with water. Yum, delicious, tomme de l'eau, save me a piece, I bet it goes good with gruel.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Our New Goat of the Month


As of this morning Binky has the goat chicken pox. She has been fired from Goat of the Month. Willen is our new Goat of the Month. Congratulations to Willen.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Our New Goat of the Month


Little Jessie the LaMancha kid was the goat of the month last month. She was already quite full of herself before being made goat of the month. Afterward she was plain and simply prideful. And you know, or you ought to know, what pride goeth before.

That's right. Little Jessie has gone from her embroidered satin cushion right into the doghouse. Lo how the mighty are fallen.

The problem is this. Jessie went to the fair, which I don't believe in going to because it is ridiculous. When they have a people fair where you can go pet the accountants and insurance salesmen sitting in little pens for three days, let me know about it and maybe I will go. If it isn't raining and I don't have to have all my beautiful hair shaved off first.

But anyway Jessie went to the fair. And she came back with a blue ribbon, big deal. AND, we discovered a couple of weeks later, the goat chicken pox. First just Jessie had it, and she was locked into a quarantine stall all by herself, where she passed the time by yelling. The farmer gave up and threw Binky to the wolves - Binky went in with Jessie so she would shut up.

"Sorry, Binky," said the farmer, "but someone has to take one for the team."

Then Winnie, Jr., who also went to the fair, got it. She got thrown in a stall with Tanjy and Bugsy, who also went to the fair. Then Bugsy got it.

Then Bertie got it. Then Betsy. And by this time there were no more stalls to throw anybody in so the farmer decided to just let it burn itself out since the quarantine hadn't worked anyway. The farmer looked around and took stock: almost all the goats who had gone to the fair had gotten the goat chicken pox.

Except the Nigerians, we never get anything.

And Binky.

Binky is our goat of the month for October. Congratulations, Binky.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Goat of the Month



We haven't had goat of the month for a long time so today we are having goat of the month.

The goat of the month is Herron Hill's XJ Yes I Know.

But really her name is Jessie.

Jessie won a first place ribbon at the fair, which was good. Even better was the farmer's idea to have Shannon Stangeland from Poppy Patch Farm show Jessie, since the farmer is possibly the worst showman ever to enter the ring. Shannon on the other hand is one of the best, and she kindly agreed to do it. In this picture taken by Wendy Webster the famous goat photographer, Jessie is posing in the champion lineup with all the other blue ribbon goats.

Jessie was the first LaMancha goat born here this spring. She is Wronny's daughter. It was a cold day when she was born so the babies were getting started inside the house in rubbermaid tubs. Usually a rubbermaid tub will hold a kid for two or three days. After that they are big and strong enough to climb out of the tub.

Anyway, Jessie was born first but her sister Bugsy was coming fast right behind her, so the farmer grabbed her and ran to the house, rubbing her off with a towel on the way. Jessie was already mad as a hornet, and hollered the whole time.

The farmer ran through the kitchen and through the living room and into the bathroom where the rubbermaid tub was set up next to the heating vent and full of nice clean straw. In about the time it takes to read this, the farmer plunked Jessie in the tub and ran back out through the living room and the kitchen and across the yard to the kidding stall in the barn where yes, just as expected, Bugsy slid out right on cue just in time to be caught by the farmer.

The farmer turned around, puffing and rubbing Bugsy dry with a clean towel, and ran back to the house.

The farmer opened the kitchen door to find Jessie, as mad as a two-minute-old goat can get, screaming bloody murder next to the washing machine, and ready to march on Stalingrad if the need arose.

She had knocked over the rubbermaid tub, walked through the bathroom, through the living room, and through the kitchen when most baby goats, even Nigerians, are looking around themselves and saying, "didn't it used to be pitch dark in here? Can I get some sunglasses, please?"

So Jessie is goat of the month.

Because of Jessie the baby goats have an all-new nursery system and the rubbermaids are being used to store milk bottles.

In the artful photo below, Jessie shows off the whiskers that should have been trimmed before she went in the ring.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The News from Home





Hello everyone.

It is fall now, and time for an update, after a sketchy summer of haphazard reporting.

The farmer says I am not going to have any kids again this year and I am very angry about it. I am just almost angry enough to go on a hunger strike. Almost.

But not quite.

To placate me, the farmer says that my Dairy Princess Cookbook is finally going to come out.

If you have any recipes you would like to have considered this would be the time to submit them before it is too late. Your recipes must be good and they must have DAIRY ingredients.

Dairy ingredients are cheese, milk, ice cream, yogurt, panir, butter, cream, etc. Everything tastes good with cheese, so if you have a good recipe but there aren't any dairy ingredients, just add cheese and send it in. If you have a recipe that isn't good, why not add cheese and see if that helps? Obviously I mean GOAT cheese, milk, cream, butter.

My daughter Blue Umbrella, aka Baby Blue, has inherited my throne as the farmer's personal milker. Baby Blue has the most delicious milk in the herd and she loves the milkstand.

She is also the smartest milker - big surprise - and has been squirted with the water bottle several times for hiding around the corner on the down ramp after she has been milked so that she can rush back IN to the milk parlor when the door opens to try to be milked twice.

Up the down staircase is definitely not allowed. She knows that but it's hard not to take advantage sometimes when you are competing against Nubians.

By the way Boo and Scouty did really well when we first switched to the milk bench but now they have post-traumatic-stress-disorder and can't stand still in the milk parlor. When they are halfway milked they start to dance and jiggle, both of them exactly the same way, even though they are never in the milk parlor at the same time.

The farmer has worked the problem out on paper by developing a special theory of dairy bucket flight probability: 1 Nubian in the milk parlor + 1 Nubian in the milk parlor at the same time = 2 many Nubians in the milk parlor.

In other news, the dairy was finally approved as a Grade A Washington dairy and this morning the inspector came out to take the first milk sample. We will have our grand opening in the spring and spend the winter experimenting, since right about now everyone is starting to peter out of milk. And maybe by then we will be able to get a pasteurizer.

So that's all for now. The big girls are all in heat so I can't hear myself think. Must go in case more apples have fallen from the tree.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ribbons Shmibbons



We have a little yearling named Xie Xie (pronounced shay shay) and she is very good-natured. She has a little good-natured daughter named Binky and a good-natured son named Buddy. Being one-quarter Nubian she does occasionally let out a bellow of indignation for no apparent reason, but we think that is just as a courtesy to her fellow Nubians. In reality she is very easygoing and doesn't mind much of anything.

In the photo above by official goat photographer Wendy Webster Xie Xie is being used as a display table to show off some of the ribbons the girls won at the fair. She doesn't care.

In the photo below Xie Xie displays the rosette she won herself. It is a pretty good ribbon for a little skinny yearling to win. She doesn't care.

Friday, September 12, 2008

In All Fairness...

Well the farmer got back from the state fair almost at midnight last night. The goats streamed out of the trailer like they were heading for the lifeboats on the Titanic. They didn't care that it was pitch dark and the flatbed was parked in front of the barn door, or that there was a big pile of delicious hay between them and their destination. They just ran like scalded cats down the aisle and into their stalls.

Bertie in particular was cantering hard and shaking her head to try to dislodge the last three days. When she was at the Fair she spent almost the whole time gazing blankly into the middle distance, hoping hopelessly to be beamed back magically somehow to her home planet.

The Fair is like a beautiful nightmare that passes in a hot sweaty blur. The people all have to wear white to do their silly shows where they parade around in a circle. Some of these people if not all don't look so great in white, which is not a slimming color in the least, and many of these people could benefit from some slimming. And of course not even the slimmest looks good in white once the white has gotten covered with smudges and little goat hoofprints, which takes usually about five minutes.

I guess in their show Boxcar Betty and Belle Pepper didn't do too well - one got third and one got fifth - which I find incredibly hard to believe knowing how closely related they are to me, Baby Belle, the most beautiful goat in the world. But the beautiful Poppy Patch herd was there, looking even more magnificent than ever, so the competition was swept downriver as Poppy Patch rightfully won all the big awards.

"I told you you were too fat, Betty," the farmer murmured darkly to Betty as they headed back to the barn. Betty pretended not to hear and went right back into her little pen with Belle Pepper, where they got back to the important business of eating beautiful free hay supplied by the Fair.

The farmer put on a fake smile as courtesy requires and pretended to be tickled pink with the third place ribbon, even putting it out on display for about five minutes.

All was forgiven within a few hours when Xie Xie and bratty little Tangy, who had to be pretty much dragged around the ring, both won first place and then Reserve Champion in the Recorded Grade show, while the rest of the Betsy family also picked up scads of ribbons.

The LaManchas did well too against some impressive competition.

Meanwhile everyone sat in their pens listening to reams of questions from the inquiring public, excerpted in the list below.

1. What kind of sheep is this (indicating Betty)?
2. Where are the pigs?
3. Are there any other animals here (from a disappointed looking lady)?
4. What is his name (indicating Winnie, as she is being milked on the milkstand)?
5. Where are the chickens?
6. Where are the horses?
7. Where is the bathroom?
8. Do you work here (indicating the farmer)?
9. What happened to their ears (indicating one of the LaManchas)?
10. Why did you cut off their ears (indicating one of the LaManchas)?
11. Can they hear with no ears (indicating one of the LaManchas)?
12. Why do you crop their ears (indicating one of the LaManchas)?
13. Did something happen to their ears (indicating one of the LaManchas)?
14. 9,999,999 variations on the preceding 5 questions.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

She's Back....



It is fair time again. My goodness the summer shoots by.

Anyway a batch of fat milkers are going off to Puyallup to sit around in tiny little stalls being ogled. One of my daughters is going, so at least there will be one pretty goat there.

Two years ago little orphan Betsy made her debut at the Fair and got her picture on the front page of the paper, and they are still using that picture as part of their official Fair icon.

This year Betsy will go as a milker, along with two of her daughters and two of her granddaughters. She is older now but don't worry, she is still crazy as a bedbug. If I had known this picture would be on the front page of the paper every day of the fair for two years running, I might have tried to teach her a more intelligent expression.

Oh well. Lipstick on a pig.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

You Think You've Got Problems

There have been some complaints about the lack of news. Well actually there has been so much news that there just wasn't any time to report it. Anyway, here is some of the news, most of it having to do with various problems.

1. The pea hay got baled and had to be picked up down in the field in Chehalis. The pea hay is just down the road from the Black Sheep Creamery and the farmer was very happy to see all the Black Sheep sheep (most of them are white) lying in contented bundles in their grassy fields. There was a terrible flood last winter in Chehalis, and most of the Black Sheep sheep drowned. But just to show the power of life, the Creamery is back in business and going strong. The first three lambs born there this year were named Shirley, Goodness, and Mercy. You can see them here.

Anyway, what is the problem with the pea hay? Well, we now officially have too much hay, and there isn't really enough space for it. So it is creeping into all the aisles and passageways.

2. The big girls were supposed to be learning to go up the new ramp into the new milk parlor, a daring attempt at caprine education which was proving very difficult to accomplish, especially on the days when there was only one person - the farmer - to 'encourage' the big girls to go up the ramp, then open the hatch, then shove them into the milk parlor, then close the hatch, then race around through the back door to get into the milk parlor to catch them and clip their collars to the milk rail before they decided to jump from the milk bench onto the floor, wall, door, etc in an attempt to flee. In truth, only three goats really took to the ramp: Wronny (a genius LaMancha), Xie Xie (a nitwit yearling who is very hungry), and Big Orange (Xie Xie's twin.) Boo, Scout, Bertie, Betsy, and Winnie would rather have spent eternity eating shards of broken glass than go up the ramp.

Anyway, after several curse-filled days, lots of threats and bribes and gallons of milk being kicked (in a bucket) across the new bench, the big girls learned to go up the ramp.

And now there is a new problem.

3. The New Problem: Everyone wants to go up the ramp at the same time. Worse, everyone sometimes succeeds in doing this, leading to a huge bottleneck of exceedingly fat goats (you know who you are) at the top of the ramp. So many goats that no one can fit through the hatch, even if it were possible to open it.

4. Conclusion.

In summary, it is very useful to have an understanding of problem theory if you are going to try to run a goat farm. The first thing that you must understand about problems is that problems are like pi or the speed of light - a constant. So that even if you can fix one problem, a new problem will arise in its place, leaving you with a zero sum.

But does this mean that you shouldn't bother trying to fix your problems? No indeed, because the underlying premise of successful farming is that one day you will have a better set of problems than you have today. And as it turns out, the farmer is very pleased with the new set of problems: 1) too much hay; 2) milkers too eager to obey.

Good problems. Nice Problems. Better Problems.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Blue Umbrella

Do you know this song? Blue Umbrella? People think it is a John Prine song, because he sings it, but like some of the best John Prine songs, it is actually a Steve Goodman song. We thought about it today because it is raining for the first time in what seems like months, a melancholy nostalgic summer rain that reminds us of a melancholy nostalgic song.

"Blue Umbrella, rest upon my shoulder,
hide the pain while the rain makes up my mind,"


And anyway, Blue Umbrella is my youngest daughter's name. She is a beautiful yearling milker, a blue roan broken buckskin with blue eyes. With all that natural blue, Blue Umbrella seemed like a good name.

Yesterday the farmer was trying to teach the big milkers how to use the new milk bench. They have to run up a ramp, then duck through a hatch, then run along the bench in the next room - elevated about three feet off the floor - until they get to the end. Then they get their grain, and they get milked.

The farmer went and got Winnie to try with. Since she is a LaMancha she is supposed to be smart. But she's not that smart - after all she let the farmer catch her when she should have known she was the subject of an experiment. Her sister Ronny took off running - that's the one the farmer should have guinea-pigged on, if you ask me.

But anyway, Winnie couldn't get with the program, no matter how the farmer shook the grain can and dangled peanut butter wafers. Winnie just stood and bawled. She wouldn't even put a foot on the ramp, except by accident, and then she leaped backward like a bee had stung her.

"Oh, forget it," the farmer said, and went to get Betsy. Betsy loves food, so she was very tempted, but she is part Nubian, so the whole thing was a little bit Flowers-for-Algernon. Betsy wanted to come up the ramp. She just didn't know how. She stood and bawled.

Her daughters out in the pasture joined in the bawling. Triplicate bawling, and no progress toward the milk bench.

The farmer was exasperated, and running short on time, so turned Betsy out. When the farmer wasn't looking, Blue Umbrella nipped in the out door.

"Whuh?" said the farmer, catching a glimpse of Blue Umbrella rushing past.

Blue made a sharp left, ran up the ramp, ducked under the hatchway, ran along to the end of the milkbench, and plunked her head in the feeder.

That's how it's done, fat girls. Watch and learn.

"Just give me one good reason
and I promise I won't ask you any more
Just give me one extra season
so I can figure out the other four."


Blue Umbrella.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The Getaway Goat

It is all well and good planning your big bank heist and drilling a hole through the wall and cracking the safe and getting all the money out. But if you can't make a clean getaway, then where are you? Up the creek, that's where.

This is yet another reason why my daughter Hannah Belle has earned the title of Smartest Goat of All Time. You have to be smart to figure out how to get to the grain around here any more. We used to live in a barn but now we live in a massive hay tunnel, with stacks of hay everywhere and a tiny little walkway leading to the hidden grain barrels.

It's like that every year in mid-summer when hundreds of bales come in from the field. So to get to the grain you have to first wiggle through, or over, the gate - which is locked with not one but two chains - navigate the hay tunnels, and then take the lid off the grain barrel.



Well, of course Hannah Belle knows how to do that, and she did it all the time when she was younger. And then she would get busted with her head in the barrel, and she would get a swat on the behind and a good yelling-at and possibly even a brief stint in goat jail. Aka the horse trailer.

Well, who needs that kind of grief. So Hannah Belle has now taken her game to the next level.

She waits patiently for the farmer to go inside. Then leaps, wiggles, and worms her way to the grain. She takes the lid off the drum and knocks it over so that a buffet of grain spills onto the barn floor. She eats what she wants - picking the corn out of the cob mix - listening with one ear cocked for the sound of approaching farmers.

When she hears the kitchen door open, she leaps, wiggles, and worms her way back out, runs to the back of the herd, turns her head away and pretends to be contemplating the meadow down below.

"Who did this?" yells the farmer, upon discovering the spilled grain and knocked-over barrel. Then comes and looks at us. Hannah Belle will be at the back of the pack, napping, or maybe chewing her cud (with her stomach sucked in so she doesn't look too fat.)

"Who did this?" the farmer yells again.

No answer.

"I know it was you, Hannah Belle," the farmer yells. Hannah Belle stretches sleepily.

"I know you did it."

Hannah Belle looks up in pretended surprise at the mention of her name.

'Oh really?' her expression says. "Prove it."

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Peace Comes Dropping Slow

Well the farmer decided to just leave all the gates open instead of sorting us back to our designated areas. The reason for this is that it gives the FAT MILKERS access to EVEN MORE FOOD.

I am trying to put a subtle emphasis on a few keywords here and there in hopes that someone will notice the unfairness of the FAT MILKERS getting access to EVEN MORE FOOD.

The idea is that now they can go back to the never-ending pasture in the back during the day and eat the lush waist-high grass which is free rather than the newly purchased hay from the Longbranch pastures. But because they are DUMB as well as FAT, they will just sit around like blobs waiting for the newly purchased hay to be brought to them on a platter rather than go out and forage on the free hay. Unless we, the starving classes, show them how to do it.

So the farmer left all the gates open so they could come down into our pasture and we could show them the grass. Sad.

Well, to be fair, Boo and Scouty did go running for the grass at a suprisingly high rate of speed. For those two, any rate of speed is surprising, unless licorice or vanilla wafers are involved.

Anyway, we have been lolling around with the fat milkers for a few days now and wouldn't you know it the turf wars are over. Everyone got bored with them. Everyone agrees Brandy is the Queen. Everyone knows only milkers go on the milkstand. And so now there is peace, if not quiet, since the Nubians are always sighing or singing or snoring.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Hay

It is time for The Hay.

So I was going to write a new ode to Hay.

But since the Hay is like Forever, I decided to just link to last year's Ode to Hay.

I used the extra time to start writing a song about The Hay. Here's the first verse:

You're in my blood like holy hay
Tastes so bitter and so sweet
Oh I could eat a bale of hay
And still
I would still be
on my feet


Luckily "feet" rhymes with "wheat," so I think I know where I will be going with the next verse, but right now I better take a nap. I get pretty tired watching sweaty red-faced people carry hay into the barn.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Bastille Day

I do not know what day it is where you are, but here it is Bastille Day.

We, the down-belows, led by my daughter Hannah Belle who is an expert at taking matters into her own hands, broke through the lower pasture gate and stampeded the hill and the big barn, taking the fat milkers by storm.

Yes, I said it, they are fat. It is because they get WAY TOO MUCH FOOD. The farmer LETS THEM EAT CAKE while we squabble over little crusts of bread!

Vive la Revolution!
(or should it be 'le Revolution'?)




As soon as we stormed them a battle ensued that roiled and surged around the barn and then spilled over into the front pasture.

Even the babies got into the act, with Winnie, Jr. and Jaybird throwing down to see who would be King of the Babies.

Even Penrose awakened from her slumbers to join our fearless band.

Actually, Brandy is getting a little bit angry, so we may go back to our own pasture. Not because we are afraid, but because we prefer our humble peasant existence.

Thank you for your time, here comes the farmer, I must run.

The Basking Society

If you don't die first, some day you will get old. Some of our best friends are starting to show a little wear and tear. Marquee, who is the finest old goat gentleman you could ever hope to meet and the granddad of just about half the goats here, is starting to have some trouble getting around.



Not to mention his other problems, which are too personal to get into. But let's just say that it seems fairly doubtful he will have too many more kids, because the swimmers apparently fell off the lifeboat.

But that doesn't stop him from enjoying the sunshine. Once you are about ten years old, like Marquee, you really get the hang of basking.

And Spenny the border collie now has gray eyebrows and doesn't get all atwitter about fetching sticks any more. She leaves that to Wendell the Pest, who doesn't even really know how to do it. He understands the part about getting the stick, it's the part about bringing it back that has his little boston terrier brain puzzled.

So Spenny basks, too.



And let's not even talk about Tommy the appaloosa. He is the top hound of all the baskervilles, laying flat out like a giant pancake and soaking up all the rays in sight.

Oh well.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

The Unbearable Hotness of Being

It is blazing hot today, just like a brick oven, with nothing but sun for miles. How I long for the marine layer, the chilly morning fog in the meadow, the delicious breeze from the West.

Lucky Marquee got a cool bath and a shavedown yesterday and he looks a fright but goodness I'm sure he's comfy. Laddy the nosy Tennessee Walker was following the farmer around like a puppy dog as usual and making it hard to feed everybody but when the farmer turned around and sprayed him with the hose, which usually makes him saunter off to bother someone else, he just stood there basking like a fat dolphin in the hose water.

It's hot. It's way too hot.

Why oh why did I ever get this fur coat?

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Summer at Last

Well, we're not sure exactly how it happened but it is almost time to cut the hay again.

And we're not sure how this happened, but a lot of us here have somehow gotten fat, even though we hardly get anything to eat. I for example have to exist on a handful of grain, and it is only because of my extraordinary metabolism that I am still shopping XL. An ordinary goat on this diet would look like a coat hanger.

The horses all look like giant beachballs, and yet every evening they have a temper tantrum when they discover they are not getting grain twice a day. Since it isn't winter. Duh, fat boys.

Only the milkers look reasonably svelte, which is a bitter irony, since they get to eat practically anything they want.

Now that summer is actually here, we plan to start complaining immediately about the heat and too much sun, after nine months of complaining about no heat and endless rain.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Our Man Flint


The last baby of the season has been born and his name is Flint. Lori says his name is Flint, Michigan, but that is ridiculous. We just call him Flynnie. He has very pretty buckskin coloring and bright blue eyes.

He is Eo's son.

For some reason Eo has turned neurotic and been doting on him in a most unseemly manner, possibly because she has never had a single kid before. I think she thinks she had another one but misplaced it somewhere so is taking extra special care of the one that's left.

Or maybe she is just a nut job. That could easily be the case.

I always tell my kids, go, walk around, cross the street if you like, live and learn. But that's just me.

Anyway, it has been practically impossible to get the official farm photographer (Lori) to take a picture of Flynnie, because she is obsessed with the hummingbirds.

"Look," she tells everyone, "look, I took another picture of the hummingbird." And then she makes them look at the picture, the ten thousandth picture that looks exactly like all the other pictures. But anyway during a short break in the endless hummingbird photo shoot she finally agreed to take a picture of Flynnie.






Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Enjoying the Hols


While I was on the subject of Goats-of-the-World, I forgot to mention that I got a lovely postcard from my cousin, who is on a bicycle tour of East Africa. Anyway, here it is.

Hello Again Hello

Well, I do not like to make low-class comments about the way some goats look, but I have to say that if the goats in this so-called beauty competition showed their faces at the Puyallup Fair, they would not be getting any ribbons. Not even in the Nubian class.

Oh well, maybe they are really good milkers or something. I sort of doubt it, though, even though I read on the web site that the winning goat sold for $40,000.

The baby barn here is looking pretty lonely these days; Widget and Buddy left this weekend, and there are only five babies left, and that includes Hap and Jolly, who have already adapted to life in the big baby barn. So we will all be glad when Eo has the last babies of the season ... today? tomorrow? next Friday?

Something like that.

This weekend we had almost springlike weather, which is nice since it has been November for about the last seven months, except in November, which was like January. But then of course today it started back raining.

Hello again, November! We missed you when you were gone for two days!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Incredible Shrinking Boo

Boo has developed a guaranteed Nubian reducing system and diet which will shrink even the most rotund long-eared-bear-of-little-brain to a manageable size. Or almost manageable. It is simple, too. In case you are a Nubian yourself, I have broken it into easy-to-follow steps. It is called:

The Boobian Diet:

1. Eat as much as you can. Eat anything that isn't moving. Or if it is just moving slightly, at least give it a taste test. If something LOOKS like food, grab it and run from the crowd - you can always spit it out later if it isn't food. If you hear the crackle of the cookie box being unwrapped, give a desperate bellow and close your eyes and just run to the head of the line, bowling all the pipsqueaks out of the way. It is perfectly fine to stampede across little tots if cookies are involved. It teaches them a valuable lesson.

2. Have at least two kids. Three or four would be better.

3. (This is the most important step). Milk eleven pounds of milk every day.

That's It! Watch the pounds melt away!

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Cheese Straws

Recipe # 7 from Baby Belle's* Dairy Princess Cookbook.


ingredients:

half pound winter tomme. or some kind of nice cheese, don't use horrible cheese.
1 stick nice butter (see above).
1 cup flour.
some nice sea salt, maybe a teaspoon or so.
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.
1/4 cup fresh goat milk. don't use milk that isn't fresh. give that milk to Wendell (see below), remember he is outside scratching at the door.

Step one. Put Wendell outside. Make sure the door is latched.

Step two. Gather together your ingredients. Take one of your winter tommes** that you made with Nubian or LaMancha milk (save the Nigerian and mini milk for important dessert recipes.) Cut off about half a pound of it. Grate it.

Add other ingredients except milk and mix well, preferably you have a nice food processor and can quickly get it into a coarse meal consistency. Then add the milk and mix until you get a bread dough consistency. (If you don't have a food processor, add the milk along with the other ingredients and mix everything until you get a nice bready dough ball.)

Flour your cutting board and hands and roll the ball out. Cut off golf ball sized pieces and roll the pieces between your palms to make strings about 10 inch long and the diameter of a pencil.

Bake in preheated oven at 350 for 15-18 minutes or until they get delicious-looking. Cool for 15 minutes. Serve to your admirers.

Let Wendell back in, if desired, and give him some old milk to drink. Do not let him see the cheese straws.


*that's me.
**Recipe # 8 in the Baby Belle* Dairy Princess Cookbook.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Possibly

Here is a little bit of possibly useful information for today. You must remember, first of all, that only that which is possible can happen.

And secondly, you must remember that anything is possible.

Anyway, Betsy had her babies on Friday and they are two bucklings. One was wedged in terribly but Betsy agreed to cooperate and the farmer was able to extract him even though no one else was around to hold Betsy still. She stood very calmly - except for the screaming - while the farmer fished a leg around so that he could be pulled out. He was rather gigantic, coming head first with no feet out and his big shoulders jammed in tight.

The naming duties have been handed over to Lori since the farmer has declared intellectual bankruptcy when it comes to kid names this season. Everyone agrees that the two names Buddy and Binky (Xie Xie's kids) are possibly the worst ever. Of course, they have stuck.

Anyway, Betsy's boys are named Hap and Jolly. They seem to like milk a lot and are growing like weeds.

Little Tangy the tangerine/piranha is going to be called Moonshine Yarrow on the papers (no thanks to the farmer). You always know where she is by following the voice that's squawking, to no avail, "STOP BITING ME!"

She chews everything with her razor sharp little teeth, and delights in tormenting little Buddy and Binky. She's an awful monster but the farmer just laughs and says, "isn't that cute?" when she comes screaming out for the milk bucket like a Patriot missile.

Meanwhile the Peaches family continues to weasel its way into the Adorable Antics Hall of Fame, going everywhere and sleeping in a triplets-and-mommy pile of spots and blue eyes. Julius and Hermy are now known as "The Janitors," because instead of sweeping the farmer lets them out every evening and they eat all the spilled grain that has fallen from the feeders as the big fat ill-mannered milkers gobble their dinners on the milkstand.

"Let the janitors out," the farmer says, and the two little butterballs come scurrying into the barn aisle. Augie isn't allowed because she is too squirrelly.

The milk scale has broken, thank Buddha, and that has put a temporary end to the tiresome weighing of the milk, but it appears that Scouty is a whisker ahead of Winnie in the Dairy Sweepstakes.

And last night Lori, moved by the seeming end of the seemingly endless Democratic Primary, gave a rousing speech to all the goats in the down-below pasture, promising that we would always have our blackberry-eating jobs and they would never be outsourced to India, that no goat would be left behind, and that there would always be cob for everybody*, and that everybody* would have the right to reproductive freedom. And she thanked us for being hardworking* goats and supporting her across all breeds, and she bowed with fake humility and went trundling back to the barn with the feed cart.

Whatever.

*not Snow Pea, obviously

Friday, May 30, 2008

Curiouser and Curiouser, or The Queen is Dead, Long Live the Queen

Winnie was dethroned from her top milker position the day before yesterday by the unlikeliest contender, Boo. And today Boo was dethroned from her brief, triumphant reign as top milker by the next unlikeliest contender, Scouty.

Scouty continues to climb back up the milk chart, against all odds. You see Scouty kidded a set of the greediest quadruplets you have ever seen back in February. She was hemorrhaging milk from every orifice to feed these little monsters, and each one of them was plumper than the last. They all had big milk goiters, and they were all fat as ticks.

The farmer guesses that she was milking about 16 pounds a day, which is roughly two gallons, and that's a lot of milk. She lost about twenty pounds the first month, in spite of the fact that she ate almost constantly.

Anyway, something very unfortunate happened: the greedy little quadruplets drank so much that they injured Scouty's teats. After that she wouldn't let them nurse any more, her teats were so sore, and the farmer had to milk out just enough to take the pressure off and keep her comfortable. So for a week she was milked by hand several times a day, but only the bare minimum, and the farmer had to massage bag balm into her udder three or four times a day. And miraculously - thank you, Dr. Naylor - she healed in about a week.

But by then her production had dropped way down. And shortly after that, all her quadruplets went to their new homes, and she dropped into a groove of milking 8 or 9 pounds a day. Which isn't bad by any means, it's just not going to get you to the World Series of milk.

But Scouty is feeling fine now on the lush spring grass, and slowly slowly she comes creeping up the milk chart: 9 pounds, then 9.5, 9.7, 9.9. And today she got back up over 11 with a very respectable 11.2, beating Winnie by almost half a pound.

So the Queen is Dead. Long live the Queen. The Nubian Queen. Who knew.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Breaking News: Dark Horse Wins Cookie


Well, now that all the big milkers are on milk test the farmer has gotten a little obsessive and weighs all the milk twice a day every day - not just on test day - and then congratulates the top milker, which is a little monotonous, because it means every day that the farmer says, "Congratulations, Winnie, once again you are the top milker."

The only variety will be: "Congratulations, Winnie, today you milked 14 pounds." Or, "Congratulations, Winnie, today you milked 13 pounds," or "Congratulations, Winnie, today you milked twelve pounds."

Then Winnie the ayatollah gets an extra cookie and goes flouncing back out among the general population and t-bones anyone who happens to be standing there, unless it is Brandy or Wronny both of whom she is deathly afraid of, just to show that she is the top milker and expects to be treated like the Queen of Sheba.

This has been going on for weeks in a tediously repetitive fashion except for the week where Wronny pulled neck and neck with Winnie but then dropped back at the finish line ending up four tenths of a pound behind.

But now we have gotten to the point where Winnie has already been milking for several months, and she finally dropped under eleven pounds a couple of times, especially during the week when we had the most awful stemmy alfalfa that she wouldn't eat, although she was still the leader. It had gotten to be quite a bore, no one was even one iota interested in it, especially not Boo, who has never milked worth a darn in spite of being the biggest goat here if not the brightest.

Anyway the farmer harbored only low hopes for Boo, especially since she had twins this year when we all thought she would have quadruplets. But the line Boo comes from is known to be slow maturing - if in fact they ever do mature - and yesterday the most astonishing thing happened.

Boo only kidded about a month ago and even though she only milked about five pounds when she first freshened, since then she has been creeping up up up the milk chart. And yesterday when the congratulatory cookies were handed out, Winnie had to stand there with her mouth open and a look of horror, because the farmer came to the gate and said, "Congratulations, Boo, you are the top milker today with 10.7 pounds, here is your cookie."

Boo heard all this like everybody else, but only understood two words: "Boo" and "Cookie."

But sometimes two words is all you need to understand.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Walking the Walk (And Trotting the Trot)


Well I notice lately there are a lot of people talking about the carbon footprint, which used to be one of Wrusty's favorite topics before he got his cojones removed. Now he mostly looks for pretty flowers to eat. Anyway, a lot of people talk about reducing their carbon footprint, and how they bought a Prius and they don't care how much it cost because what really matters to them is saving the environment, and they plant lettuce and chives in a post-consumer pot on their windowsill, and they compost their eggshells and espresso grounds, and on weekends they save the world and so on, and they cluck their tongues at the poor shmos driving around in old gassy farm trucks, like anybody wants to drive a car that gets 8 miles to the gallon, but anyway there you are.

And then you get a postcard from them and they are in Brazil on vacation and of course they got there by burning a bazillion gallons of jet fuel. Or they decide to take a job selling solar panels all along the West Coast and their frequent flier miles go through the roof. Even Al Gore preaches his inconvenient truth gospel from a first class seat; he has circled the equator more times than anyone would care to count in service of urging people not to use up so much fossil fuel.

So there is plenty of talking but there is not a lot of walking. We only know one individual who totally eschews fossil fuels. Why yesterday he even humbly begged not to be loaded into a trailer because it was going to be pulled by a fossil-fuel-burning truck.

"No, no thank you," he politely declined. "I would much prefer to walk. Or perhaps I could just stay home."

And that is why we are nominating Willen to be the Greeny of the Year. He is a true and humble Greeny. You will never get a postcard from him in the Canary Islands. If he goes down the road, he will walk one footstep at a time. And if he is in a hurry, he will trot. And if you have some carrots, he may even let you hitch a ride in his zero emission Pioneer forecart.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Pot o' News

I showed a picture of Rocky but forget to mention that he got born. Rocky is my daughter Blue Umbrella's son. He is a doll.

His mother has broken with the family tradition of laissez faire parenting developed by me and refined to perfection by my daughter Hannah Belle. Blue follows Rocky everywhere, bleating and squeaking in consternation if he gets more than three feet away from her. Luckily it isn't stifling him - he goes where he pleases.

Also, Xie Xie's kids got born and since they are almost the last of the big babies, they got the worst names because the farmer runs out and just uses any name that comes to hand "until we think of something better." So their names are Buddy and Binky. Often good names don't stick but the bad names almost always do.

Betsy's babies are due any day and I truly feel sorry for them, their names will almost certainly be Billy and Nanny. Whether or not they are a boy and girl. There ought to be a law.

Speaking of crimes against goats, I was shocked to see this video.


I thought it was bad enough here when they tried to make me carry a pack on the trail.