Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Welcome to Oregon

Well this weekend nobody told me but somebody came and got my two little daughters Pretty Baby and Calypso. Everyone was being very nice to me for a change and I got a few special treats and even Betty asked me how I was feeling and I said "fine," and Moldy came up to me and said "do you miss your little daughter?"

And I said "why should I?" because I could see Izzy through the fence in the down below pasture where she was snuggling with my mother Belle Pepper.

"She's standing right there," I said, and then all of a sudden I put two and two together and realized why my chandelier was feeling too full with all the milk that had not been drunk by anyone. And so I pitched a fit.

The farmer came and brought me some peanuts and milked me on the milkstand with some nice grain and scratched my ears.

"Your chandelier is looking much better, Millie," the farmer said. "Maybe you would like to go to the fair after all."

So then I pitched another fit until some more treats were provided. The farmer let me stay on free range for the rest of the day and so I got to watch when Moldy's daughter Abby went into the kidding stall to have her kids.

Moldy had to go in too because they never go anywhere except together and so both of them were in there bawling when Abby popped out her first kid, a tiny implacable kitten about three inches long. The kitten prowled off immediately in search of milk while Abby laid down and had another kid, this one normal size but it seemed big because the other one was so small.

"Oh how nice," said the farmer, " a boy and a girl."

The farmer needs new glasses though because the two girls Hannah Belle had the other day turned out actually to be a boy and a girl and this boy and girl turned out to be two girls, one large and one small.

I had had high hopes that they might be normal on account of being born here and eventually coming under the influence of the Baby Belle family but right from the start they have been showing Moldy family tendencies and in fact as soon as they hit the ground Moldy said, "Welcome to Oregon!"

Which just goes to show. The farmer is calling them Pebbles and Sandy, but I am going to call them Corvallis and Pendleton.

PS - The farmer somehow deleted several comments and it seems the commenting is not acting right and someone kindly wrote in regarding Tangy's exploits to remind the public that YOU MUST BE VERY CAREFUL riding a goat and make sure the goat is big and can hold your weight because YOU CAN HURT THE GOAT if you aren't careful. And remember too that the goat needs time to adjust so you have to build up the weight a little at a time. Tangy has been practicing carrying a pack and she is as big as a house, this is really the only kind of goat you can ride for even a short while.

PPS - When I say "the goat" in the previous PS, I mean the big Nubian crosses. Do NOT ride a Nigerian Dwarf. If you see a Nigerian Dwarf somewhere, simply give him or her a yogurt covered pretzel and go on your way. Thank you.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Mothers and Daughters

Yesterday a lady came to the farm to take video. She noticed Abby and her mother Moldy strolling around inseparably like two mallwalkers.

"Who are these two?" she asked. They caught her eye; there was something about them.

"That's Abby and Moldy," said the farmer. "they are mother and daughter."

"Oh," said the lady. She watched them paddling about busily for a minute. "Is there something" -- she fished for a polite word -- "eccentric about them?"

"They are from Oregon," the farmer explained, and that seemed to clarify it, even though Abby was born here and has never set foot in Oregon. Because after all Oregon is really a state of mind.

Anyway today Hannah Belle had two daughters. In all her life she has only ever had three previous daughters, so that was quite a coup, two in one day.

Her mother Baby Belle had four daughters.

One of course was Hannah Belle, the smartest goat of all time and a holy terror. The farmer always pretends to be angry with Hannah Belle, recounting her misdeeds. She jumped over the stall, she jumped over the fence, she jumped over the gate, she broke out of the horse trailer, she unlocked the tack room, she showed the others how to get under the fence. So on, ad infinitum. But then when you look over the farmer is patting Hannah Belle and giving her special treats.

"Oh, she is a very bad goat," the farmer intones woefully. In go the ginger snaps as punishment.

"Really incorrigible." In go the pretzels and swedish fish.

Tinker Belle was the second Baby Belle daughter. She is lost, we don't know where she is. If you know where Tinker Belle is, email us. She looks just like Hannah Belle but she isn't a holy terror.

One is Blue Umbrella. Blue of course is extremely good looking but she is not a holy terror at all, she is sweet and retiring and a little bit shy.

Then there is my mother, Belle Pepper. In some ways my mother is very unlike the rest of the Belle family. She shuns the limelight. She doesn't have wattles or flashy blue eyes. She doesn't escape from everywhere even if she probably could.

Next to Penrose she is probably the kindliest goat here. This year she did not get bred, so when the other does went up to the big barn to kid, she stayed in the pasture with the yearlings. Betty went up to the big barn, leaving her yearling daughter Iota behind.

When we next looked out, Iota was snuggling with my mother, Belle Pepper.

Hannah Belle went up, leaving Terra behind. When next we looked out, Terra was snuggling with my mother Belle Pepper, and Iota.

I went up, leaving Izzy behind. Izzy I must say while she is quite tiny is a tough cookie and I never expected to see her snuggling with anyone. But when next I looked out, she was snuggling with my mother Belle Pepper.

She had booted Terra and Iota out.

Isn't that adorable, I thought.

Monday, June 20, 2011

In a cavern, in a canyon, excavating for a mine

It was all agreed that the Miracle Baby was going to be named Satsuma and her barn name would be Little Cutie, since she is a Big Orange daughter. But that didn't work out. Instead her name became Clementine. And her barn name is Tiny Bubbles.

She has her father's eyes and her mother's hair. She is good at being carried around. And she is good at relaxing. She is like a fairy goat.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Just Choose It

The plumber came over and with some underground magic, a blowtorch, lots of pipe and any number of fittings, he fixed the plumbing, if 'fixed' is a word that should ever even really be used around here. Fixed is probably too definite for farm living. Maybe 'repaired' would be better. Or "temporarily alleviated."

In any case, temporarily alleviated plumbing is much better than broken plumbing, I can attest to that, if only because it reduces farmer grumpification by about 86%.

The plumber is also a philosopher and at one point he was looking for a bushing he had just had in his hand and he couldn't find it and he spent several minutes looking and then he said, pointing into the forest of couplings and tees and elbows in a compartment of his plumbing truck, " ah, there it is, it was right in front of me all the time."

And he picked up the bushing and squinted through it at the sun and said, "like Happiness."

"I just had to choose it."

The horseshoer also came over and he trimmed Laddy's chipped-out feet and since he is also a philospher-botanist-shepherd among other things, he mused aloud about the introduction of Scotch Broom and Himalayan Blackberry to the West Coast, because they aren't native plants as everyone knows and he was alarmed about how the future might have turned out because those people in the Donner Party for example had enough problems on their hands and could never have made it to Marin to start their wineries if they had had to walk through thickets of blackberries on top of everything else.

Because as it turns out Himalayan blackberry was introduced to the United States as a cultivar in 1885 and we all know what happened then. So there is probably a parallel universe where it was introduced in 1776 and no people ever got to the West Coast because they couldn't walk through the blackberries, and in that universe the West Coast is probably entirely populated by Nubians who walked up from Mexico one day when they got lost looking for their home barn, which was probably about 100 feet behind them, but once they got started walking they just kept going in a typical Nubian fashion, and a thousand miles later they came to Northern California and settled down and in that universe Big Sur is called "Nubiana" and Carmel-by-the-Sea is called "New Nubiana" and Portland is called "North Nubiana" and Seattle is called "North New Nubiana." And so on.

Wow. I don't even know if that is scary or beautiful.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Miracle Baby Takes a Nap

Miracle Baby Goat takes a nap with her brother, demonstrating the Big Orange family's highly refined relaxation skills.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Day One

Sometimes you can start over just like it was your first day.

That is what is nice about farm living.

It was a long hard winter here as it probably was lots of other places, and it seemed to go on forever with the usual litany of tedious complaints. And it was a bad year for baby goats, and even when things started looking up - like when the pipes were finally almost fixed and Cora Belle won her championship - even then the farmer walked around with a gloomy look and a long face and an expression that said, well, if things are going right today, that probably just means there will be a tornado tomorrow.

And today when Big Orange went into the kidding stall the farmer just didn't like the way she looked. She had a barely perceptible tremor along her neck, and that almost always means milk fever, and she was moving a little too slowly and her eyes were starting to go glassy.

But she took a little calcium, and even though the first kid was a big buckling, he was nose-and-toes, so that wasn't really a problem. The farmer was just getting him dry when all of a sudden there was a lady's voice coming over the stall door, and sure enough the farmer had forgotten that visitors were coming by.

"I'm right here," the farmer called, and the lady looked in over the stall, and so did her kids, a boy and a girl, and just then Big Orange laid down to push again. Right away this didn't look good: one rear hoof, coming upside down.

The farmer ditched the usual pleasantries and ran past the visitors to grab some gloves, and straight back to the stall, because this one was certainly going to need to be rearranged and pulled out quickly.

But before the farmer got back the baby was out, who even knows how.

And before the farmer even got to the stall the visitor lady was saying, "oh dear,"

The farmer took one look at the baby goat and turned to the kids and said, "you know, it's very sad, but the baby goats sometimes are too little to be born, or they aren't in the right position, or something happens as they are growing," as a preamble to telling them that this baby goat, which was twisted and motionless and an awful stillborn putty color, just wasn't going to make it.

That is one of the problems you can have when you think you know what you are doing. You don't always pay attention to the finer details.

Whereas, when you have no idea what you are doing, you see everything, as the little girl did.

"The baby goat is moving," she said politely.

The farmer looked down and sure enough, there was a leg kicking. And the baby bobbed its head. And so, without much hope, the farmer got busy, and cleaned it, and cleared its mouth, and rubbed it warm, and swung it upside down to get the goop out, and finally gave it a puff of air in the mouth to get it started breathing since it didn't seem to want to do that, and lo and behold, within a few minutes the baby goat was breathing on its own, and once that happened the pink came flooding back into it.

"She's a fighter," the farmer said. It was a beautiful little doe kid, Big Orange's first doe kid to have perfect gopher ears.

There was no need to take the little girl and make her a bottle baby. She gobbled milk greedily from Big Orange as soon as she shook off her traveling funk.

Why wouldn't she. It was her first day, and she wanted to get off to a good start.

Monday, June 13, 2011

It's Been No Bed of Roses, No Pleasure Cruise


We got five more dollars in pledges for the Tangy fund drive. We already had one dollar, so that makes six. I know six dollars is a lot of money, but still it seems like we have a long way to go. Maybe Oprah or someone will chip in. If you know Oprah, ask her to chip in, we could do a show about it. Oh well. Maybe it's hopeless.

Speaking of hopeless, there was a big goat show yesterday. The farmer had a headache and didn't want to go. A couple of weeks earlier the farmer had clipped Blue Umbrella for the show because she was looking good. As soon as the farmer finished clipping her, Blue stopped making milk, turning her udder into a little shrunken handbag.

"Great," said the farmer, and looked around the barnyard. Boxcar Betty was looking good; her spots were flashing in the sun.

"Betty, come here," said the farmer. Betty ran like a scalded cat as fast as she could, squeaking neatly through the gate into the front pasture. Nice try, Betty, but two farm boys came over later that day and they apprehended and frogmarched Betty back to the barn where the farmer started clipping her.

The farmer had Betty about half clipped when the clippers broke. "Great," said the farmer. The new $150 clippers - not the ones from the tack sale that cost $15. The ones with all the blades that had just been sharpened.

The farmer regarded Betty dubiously: she looked a lot like Carol Brady on the Brady Bunch, with a shag haircut that would send shivers down the spine of anyone who lived through the seventies.

"Great," said the farmer. Oh well, maybe the farmer from Minter Bay wouldn't want to go after all. The farmer from Minter Bay had been naysaying and shillyshallying about any further goat shows that summer.

Just then a terse commanding email completely lacking in pleasantries popped in the inbox: "Meet me at my farm at 6 tomorrow. Showing at 9."

"Great," said the farmer. The farmer's head started pounding. Up at 4:30 to milk and shower, then over to Minter Bay to stuff Cora Belle into the car, then off on a two and half hour drive to Stanwood.

"That's just great," said the farmer gloomily, wondering if any stores would be open to buy Aleve and knowing full well there is no Starbucks near the Fairgrounds in Stanwood and generally feeling very grumpy.


Cora Belle triumphed and won Reserve Champion in one ring and Grand Champion in the two others against beautiful steep Northwest competition and a mood of incredible jollity and gracious kindness and humility descended, broken only by the unseemly bellowing of the song "We are the Champions" in the car on the way home.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Schooling the Tangerine Whale

The good news is we have already raised $1 for our Tangy Pledge Drive. It only took two days. So at this rate in 3074 more days she will be on her way to her new Kiwi home. That is only eight years and a few months! Vaya con Dios, Tangy!

The bad news is that yesterday some children came over and one of them was quite small and she wanted to ride a goat. When I heard her say, "I want to ride a goat," I discreetly galloped at top speed to the far corner of the pasture, right behind Hannah Belle who was making extremely good time for a goat who is eight months pregnant.

Everyone else with normal intelligence followed us, leaving only the Nubian crosses and Eo up at the barn in catching range. Eo was plotting a government overthrow as usual and not paying attention to the conversation.

The farmer was dubious since none of us had ever been ridden. "I don't know about that," the farmer said, eyeballing the Nubian crosses. "It would have to be a big goat."

We don't have any big wethers since there is a strict rule against them, and they would be the natural choice for goat riding activities. Big Orange and Xie Xie are pregnant, so that got them off the hook. Pinky Jr. is too skinny because she is growing so fast and Pinky is a milker and she will also be the new Sheriff of Crazytown if Maddie ever resigns. She is Crazy with a capital T.

And that left only one goat: the tangerine whale.

"See if Tangy will come out," the farmer told the children.

Tangy lumbered out.

"Okay let's see if we can get the horse halter on her," the farmer said, pretending not to be surprised.

Tangy stood patiently while an upside-down horse halter was put on her for a harness.

"Okay let's put you on her," the farmer said to the little girl. On she went.

"Hold on tight," the farmer told the little girl, and she grabbed the halter. The farmer snapped a lead rope on Tangy.

"Okay let's see if she will walk." Tangy walked off without batting an eye.

"I want to ride her alone," the little girl said. "By myself."

The farmer took the lead rope off.

Tangy and passenger walked off alone. There was no sunset at that time of day or they would have walked into it.

"Hmm," said the farmer. "Who knew."

I wonder if this means Tangy is still going to New Zealand in 2019. I kind of don't think so.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Send Tangy to Kumara Junction

We did not have much luck raising money to send Tangy to Spindale. We raised zero dollars. But that's ok because it looks like there is a better opportunity.

The farmer just read about a lady in New Zealand who has made a special home for a special goat.

Obviously this lady must be extremely patient, so this would be a perfect home for Tangy. And it is even farther away than Spindale.

Unfortunately the ticket to New Zealand is a bit more ($1538) so please give generously. But Tangy would be right in Tasmania so she might meet a nice Devil, and also she would not be here eating all our food. Thank you.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Be Kind to Your Web-Footed Friends

If you don't care about conformation that probably means you have bad conformation.

And you probably spell it wrong too. "Oh who gives a hoot about CONFIRMATION," that's what you probably say when the subject comes up.

Conformation means do you look good, with all your arrows pointing in the right direction, and do you walk along smooothly like an ice skater on a frozen canal in Amsterdam. Or do you look like a washing machine full of dirty gym socks tumbling down a mountainside when you come running toward the feeder.

Anyway I am in the Baby Belle family so I have excellent conformation except for my chandelier udder which is the only thing saving me from a lifetime of goat shows. Thank God for my chandelier or I would probably have to buy a tour bus to appear at all 50 state fairs.

However certain parties around here have developed a pronounced washing machine style of locomotion and there is two of them and their name is the Moldy Family. That means Moldy and her daughter Abby.

They are fine and all and I have gotten used to them and nobody even bothers giving them a thrashing any more and in fact you hardly notice them until you see them walking and then it becomes apparent that they toe out in the back like a pair of penguins. My goodness it is really something.

For a long time I couldn't figure it out, then I remembered they are from Oregon, and that must be where their duckfoot comes from. Because Oregon is ruled by Ducks.

But anyway I have taken a vow of kindliness and I never even mention anything about it. What would be the point. They must know what they look like by now.

And even a duck may be somebody's mother.