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????"