Sunday, December 30, 2007

All Aboard

Well maybe you remember the mysterious case of Scouty the Nubian who always looked like a Winnebago but more recently started looking like a full-blown Greyhound Bus, one of those ones that can take two or three hundred retirees up to Canada to buy their prescription drugs at an affordable price before they toddle off behind the tweed curtain for a lovely tea at a lovely hotel to make a full day of it.

In addition Scouty has already commenced the peculiar Nubian waddle that makes it look like she is rowing a boat across the English Channel in a terrible storm when she lumbers uphill.

Scouty is looking large.

Okay well if you remember that I wonder if you might also remember the tale of Wrusty Nails' bold escape from Alcatraz, which ended with Wrusty being apprehended at the gate to the doe pasture.

It now appears that Wrusty may have been apprehended coming out rather than trying to go in to the doe pasture, as originally believed, because the farmer and Lori were discussing this morning whether Scouty would be on the list to take the pregnancy test and just then Scouty herself hove into view in a very cetacean manner, puffing laboriously.

"I don't think that will be necessary," the farmer said in a dry tone, which ought to be good news to Scouty who is not known for the caliber of her study habits.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

And Not By a Nose

They're on the turn, and Peanut is blazing along! The first three-quarters of a mile in 1:09 and four fifths. Peanut is widening now! He is moving like a TREMENDOUS machine! Peanut by twelve, Peanut by fourteen lengths on the turn! Big Orange is dropping back. It looks like they'll catch her today, as Boxcar Betty comes up to her now. But Peanut is all alone! He's out there almost a sixteenth of a mile away from the rest of the goats! Peanut is in a position that seems impossible to catch. He's into the stretch. Peanut leads this field by eighteen lengths, and now Boxcar Betty has taken second and Big Orange has moved back to third. They're in the stretch. Peanut has opened a twenty-two length lead! He is going to be the Kid of the Year winner! Here comes Peanut to the wire. An unbelievable, an amazing performance! He hits the finish twenty-five lengths in front! It's going to be Boxcar Betty second, Big Orange third, The Weimaraners fourth, Belle Pepper fifth, and Tubster, who looks like she had too much for breakfast to really be competitive in any type of endeavor requiring movement of any kind much less speed, in sixth place.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Possible Nubian Plot Uncovered

Well something very strange is going on. The Nubian twin sisters, Boo and Scout, have always been trouble. They are loud and greedy and pushy and these are their good points. They are not that smart, either, especially Scout. Scout is the poster child for bewilderment.

Also, for a long time, Boo would kick on the milkstand. This is a horrible crime in the dairy parlor. The peanut gallery would draw in its collective breath in horror when Boo kicked on the milkstand. The usual enticements and encouragements and swats on the behind did no good and finally Boo reaped the whirlwind for kicking on the milkstand and after that she stopped.

Now they both are good milkers, which must be one reason why the farmer keeps them. Through no fault of their own they are also pretty, and that is probably another reason. But many times the farmer would say to both of them, "why can't you be more like your mother?"

Oddly, I have never heard the farmer say that to any of my children, but I will puzzle over that later.

Their mother was Marty, one of the sweetest and saintliest Nubians of all time. Even the Nigerians liked Marty.

Well, anyway, Nubians are known to be slow maturers, unlike Nigerians, and Boo and Scout are now almost four, and something very odd and suspicious has happened.

They started acting sweet. They stand at the gate just to have their heads scratched, not wanting anything. They stay away from the door and don't try to stampede out. They come immediately when they are called. They only kick a little bit, as a courtesy, when their feet are trimmed. They jump down promptly from the milkstand and run back to the gate to be let into their stall when they are finished.

It is very very very fishy.

If anyone else were doing it, I would expect some kind of mischief afoot.

And this is the kicker: yesterday Scouty stood at the gate, rolling her head from side to side so that the farmer could scratch behind the ears and then on the topknot, the itchy spot where the horns used to be, putting on a big sleepy-face like a cat, and the farmer said, "you remind me of your mother."

Whatever it is, it's diabolical.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Candidate's Mother's Statement: Baby Belle

Everyone is getting sick of the poll. It was supposed to go through the end of the year but now it is only going through Christmas, because it is way too popular and someone out there is probably getting carpal tunnel.

The winner will be on the cover of the farm calendar for 2008. The cover is the worst picture of all to get because everyone turns it over and hangs it on the wall and never looks at it again. So fine, that's all I have to say about the poll.

Anyway, let's get back to me. In this photo I am up in the tree helping with the apple harvest. I love helping others, especially when it also helps me.

Pick one, eat one, pick one, eat one.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Candidate Statement: Belle Pepper

Hello. I am Belle Pepper. I am Baby Belle's daughter. I am considered the prettiest kid of the year. I was supposed to go to the fair, but I had the sniffles so my half-niece Boxcar Betty went instead.

I wish I could have gone because I love meeting people and Betty hates it. Oh well.

I do not care who wins, but if my mama was running I would vote for her because she is the best goat in the world. Or if my sister was running I would vote for her. But anyone you choose will be a good choice, so choose who you want.

Vote for Belle Pepper in the poll.

Candidate Statement: Peanut

Hi! My name is Peanut. Aunty Marigold says I have a ‘perfect’ name because I was named after ‘the Food of the Gods’. Truthfully, I don’t think the farmer had that in mind at all when she named me. Please vote for me anyway - even if you don’t like Peanuts. I will work very hard to live up to my new title (should I win) and not butt anyone or anything.

Vote for Peanut in the poll.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Candidate Statement: Tubster

Hello. My name is Tubster. I am a sort of peach-colored mini-mancha. I am a twin. This is my sister Ginger in the picture with me when we were only a few days old.

The farmer did not have a newer picture of me because the recent photos are not very "flattering." I'm not sure what that means but the farmer says it is hard to get a good angle on me with the camera.

Anyway my position is that I like to stand near the feeder. Because that's where the food is. I have a lot of hobbies. Some of them are: I enjoy eating leaves, apples, ginger snaps, peanuts, raisins, grapes, alfalfa, barley, dairy ration, wet cob, dry cob, rolled ration, tree bark, weeds, hardhack, huckleberry, blackberry, orchard grass, redtop grass, canary grass, timothy, salal, swordfern, Christmas trees, bread, licorice, swedish fish. And many more things.

Although I am on the round side I am very nimble and I box out well. Hardly anyone can get around me at the grain feeder, but then when the alfalfa comes out I put on a spin move the likes of which has not been seen since Bobby Hull was pouring in hat tricks for the Black Hawks.

"Hey, where did she go?" they all say, then I pop up like magic at the hay feeder.

Vote for Tubster in the poll.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Candidate Statement: Boxcar Betty

Hello. My name is Boxcar Betty. I am six months old. I implore you, please do not vote for me. I am all too familiar with the types of "prizes" offered to the winners of these contests. At my last contest I was forced to get a full-body haircut in spite of my attempts to reach PETA. This was a clear violation of the Geneva Convention. Not to mention a terrible fashion crime.

Then when I was named a winner I was forced to parade in a circle in front of human oglers holding fair donuts and scones and wearing ill-fitting shorts. After all this I was given a little blue strip of cloth or something as my so-called prize. A strip of cloth! Hardly edible! Tasted like ink!

My question was good golly, what do you get when you DON'T win? I shudder to think.

In any case, my brother Peanut would be an excellent choice, or Big Orange.
Or even my half-aunt Belle Pepper. Or why not be the first to vote for Tubster? Even the weimaraners are electable, and let's face it if they don't win this, they won't win anything.

Just please don't vote for me. I neither seek nor accept your endorsement. Please take your suffrage elsewhere. I will abdicate my throne at the first opportunity if elected. Thank you for not considering me!

Vote for Boxcar Betty in the poll.

Candidate Statement: Big Orange

Hello. I love you. Who are you again?

Vote for Big Orange in the poll.

Candidate Statement: The Weimaraners

Hello. We are the weimaraners. Our names are Lucy and Joy. I am Lucy, the spokesgoat, Joy just does what I say. Isn't that right, Joy? Joy says "yes." Practically no one has voted for us. We don't think this is fair. It is probably because we are brown. What is wrong with being brown?

Anyway, we love to follow the farmer. If the farmer goes into the house, we go into the house. If the farmer goes up the stairs into the hayloft, we go up the stairs into the hayloft. If the farmer goes into the woods, we go into the woods. If the farmer says get on the milkstand, we get on the milkstand. If the farmer says, come on, we are going to the fair, we go to the fair. If the farmer says get into the dog crate we need to take a ride in the car, we get into the dog crate.

Joy says, "I don't. I don't like the dog crate."

Goodbye for now, I have to talk to Joy.

That is our position on the issues. Vote for us in the poll, we need votes. I will vote for you if you run for something. Joy will too if I say so.

Vote for The Weimaraners in the poll.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Kid of the Year

It is time for our annual poll. Last year it was Goat of the Year but this year it is going to Kid of the Year. You may recall that I won last year by a wide margin in spite of some irregularities (cheating by Scouty) in the electoral system. But I actually don't care if we do Kid of the Year this year instead because I have my own cookbook now. Goat of the Year is so 2006 imho.

Anyway, these are the nominees and the actual poll will be added soon. The voting rules this year will be the same as last year: no rules at all of any kind.

1. Boxcar Betty. Betty is my granddaughter and of course she is very beautiful and intelligent and has a wonderful personality and the conformation of a princess. She won a blue ribbon at the big Fair (the state fair, not some sad side-of-the-road county fair) and when she saw Betty, the judge (Jennifer Bice, who owns the big Redwood Hill goat dairy in California and has bred many national champion goats) said that Betty was - I am quoting verbatim, not paraphrasing - "the cutest thing I have ever seen."

2. Big Orange. Big Orange, Betsy's daughter, is actually named Xanthoria Elegans. She is big, and she is orange, and that's what she has going for her.

3. The Weimaraners. The Weimaraners are running as a team, like when they have too many horses in the Kentucky Derby, and so they put two little no-hopers together to make one big no-hoper. Lucy is one of the Weimaraners. She is Penrose's daughter and likes to follow the farmer everywhere, brown-nosing. She is learning to hike on the trails in Longbranch, and has a little pack she's going to wear - fine if you are a mule, that's what I say. Joy is the other Weimaraner. She is also learning to pack, also a brown nose, and got a big rubber door stop embedded in her cheek a couple of months ago if you are wondering what level of intelligence she has. She also follows the farmer everywhere, and follows Lucy everywhere, and even though they are completely different breeds, people always ask if they are sisters because they look so much alike and go everywhere together like a pair of Olympic figure skaters and are practically the exact same color - the color of a weimaraner. Boring!

4. Peanut. Peanut is Betty's brother and he is my grandson and he is obviously much better than many of the other applicants but he doesn't live here any more and I don't think he should be included in the poll but I am not in charge of the rules and the farmer says Peanut won his heroic struggle for life despite a very difficult birth and it's only fair to include him. Big deal, I say.

5. Tubster. aka Jules. Peaches' minimancha daughter. Tubster has achieved an almost spherical condition by dint of her diligent devotion to eating everything in sight. The farmer says she will be some little milker some day. That's if she doesn't explode first, I guess. Wunderbar.

6. Belle Pepper. Oh my gosh, this is one of my own two wonderful daughters! What a beautiful little goat she is, exquisite in every way with a personality to die for! Gosh, I cannot imagine a more perfect specimen, unless it would be my other daughter, Blue Umbrella, who is equally gorgeous but not in the poll. Belle Pepper! Even her name is adorable!

Okay. Those are the candidates. The pictures and the poll and the candidate statements will be issued soon, but for now you can mull this info over.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Friday, December 07, 2007

The Biggest Loser...

Well here's something funny. Scouty the Nubian was milking for over two years. She just kept milking. She was a pretty good milker. She didn't start out so great, but after a year or so of doing everything the same way twice a day, she learned to run out and jump on the milkstand.

And then she got kind of too good at it. She would run out and jump on the milkstand at the slightest provocation, whether or not it was milk time. If it wasn't milk time, Scouty would run out and jump on the milkstand and then little minnow ideas of dismay would swim across her face.

"Something isn't right," her expression would say, "but I can't put my finger on it." And she would stand there, furrowing and furrowing her brow in the most Nubian way imaginable. This was because there wasn't any grain in the feeder on the milkstand, because it wasn't milk time.

"Scouty," I would tell her, "it isn't milk time." But she was always in a special Scouty zone, and couldn't necessarily hear or interpret helpful suggestions like the ones I always try to give the less fortunate. Even Scouty's twin, Boo, could understand that milk time only came twice a day, rather than, say, seven. Or eighty-one.

So Scouty would stand there until someone helped her across the road, almost always the farmer.

Well a couple of weeks ago, the farmer dried Scouty off. This means that the farmer stopped milking Scouty, and then Scouty stopped producing milk. And dried off.

And so there were no more trips to the milkstand, not even one a day. And since there were no more trips to the milkstand, there was no more grain. Well I was very surprised when Scouty adapted to this almost immediately. She threw herself into her new passion, hogging as much hay as possible.

Now usually when this happens, one of two things will result. Once you stop getting your grain, you will maybe lose a little weight, especially if you weren't giving that much milk anyway since you had already been milking for two years.

Or the other thing that might happen would be that nothing would happen. You wouldn't lose weight, but you would keep the weight you had.

But by some strange reverse miracle of the loaves and fishes, Scouty has been getting fatter and fatter since she stopped getting her grain. She used to look like a Winnebago, but now she looks like a Greyhound bus.

I cannot figure it out.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

The Aftermath

At our farm the big storm was wet and annoying. We couldn't go out. Well, actually, we didn't want to go out. We hate to get wet. Except the horses, they don't care. Willen the crazy pony went around in the deluge snacking on grass as if it wasn't raining cats and dogs. Tommy and Laddy wisely stood in their run-in at least part of the time waiting - hour after hour - for a break in the weather. They watched Willen the 24/7 grass-eating-machine, shaking their heads.

So to us it was nothing more than a pain. But that is far from true in other places. As the waters start to recede we are hearing some very tragic stories of animals lost in the flooding. The people who run the Black Sheep Creamery near Chehalis had to be rescued by boat and helicopter when the floods rushed in faster and higher than ever before. They lost all but 22 of their 85 dairy sheep. You can read their harrowing account of what happened here.

The farmer does not know them personally, but has seen them at local farmer's markets and cheese tastings, and they seem like very nice people.

We didn't hear anything until yesterday from Poppy Patch farm in Montesano. That is the farm where my boyfriend Captain January was born, and it is home to one of the prettiest Nigerian herds in the country. They are downstream from Chehalis, right near the coast, so the waters did not even crest there until yesterday. They have 60 acres right near the river.

The farmer was relieved to finally get an email from them yesterday - 50 of their 60 acres were underwater and the water was lapping at the goat barn. They had the big stock trailer backed up waiting to get their goats out if necessary. But the river had stopped rising, and they were able to stay.

They said that the winds from the early part of the storm had blown two railroad cars off the tracks near their house - that's how hard it was blowing. The wind gauge broke when the winds reached 81 mph; they think the winds were around 100 mph, and they lost some of their roof panels. They said that Montesano is littered with trees and power poles and roof panels.

But they are safe and have already started doing what everyone else will be doing for a long time: cleaning up.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

The Miracle of Lost Beaver Lake

"The rains will steal down from the Sasquatch slopes. They will rise with the geese from the marshes and sloughs. Rain will fall in sweeps, it will fall in drones, it will fall in cascades of cheap Zen jewelry...And it will rain a fever. Mossy-haired lunatics will roam the dripping peninsulas. Moisture will gleam on the beak of the Raven...Rain will eat the old warpaths, spill the huckleberries, cause toadstools to rise like loaves...And it will rain a miracle..." ~~~~~~ Tom Robbins

Well, using a complex high-tech system of buckets and pans strewn about in strategic locations, the farmer calculates that we got somewhere around ten inches of rain during the big storm. Possibly as much as twelve. Up in Bremerton they got 12.75 inches of rain.

It rained hard but it never rained blinding short-lived thunderstorm rain like they get in the summer on the East Coast, the spectacular rain of little stamina. It just rained obstinately, for hours and hours and hours, never giving up.

And as it rained, the wetland at the bottom of our hill gradually filled in. Within a few hours it was a pond, then a small lake. Ducks arrived and began paddling about.

Lori went down to take a picture of the duck pond in use, but since the ducks kept moving when she got close, she was down there a long time.

Wait a second, I need to do a flashback, I'll try to keep it short.

Before the farmer lived here, the wetland actually WAS a lake. There was even a little island in the middle, and the neighbors would take their canoe out on it in the summer. Beavers had built a pretty little dam at the neck of the creek to make the lake, which filled in gradually over time and became home to fish, fowl, and various other inhabitants.

But there was another neighbor over the ridge, so the story goes, who hated the beavers and the lake. His cattle could not get around the lake to graze, and even though they were grazing on land he didn't own, he felt like he had a right to graze that land because he always had.

So he started trying to trap the beavers. But the nature-loving neighbor with the canoe would go out and spring the traps. The stalemate continued for a while until one night, under cover of darkness, the cattle-grazing neighbor blew up the dam with a stick of dynamite. The water swirled out, like water out of a bathtub, and fish lay flopping on the ground, and the lake was gone. And so were the beavers.

When Lori heard the story of the lost lake she said, " maybe the beavers will come back."

And the farmer said, "that would be a miracle."

Anyway, yesterday down at the duck pond, Lori saw something moving in the water, something with a broad head and a broad tail, and she yelled up to the farmer.

"What is it?" yelled the farmer.

"A beaver!" yelled Lori.

The farmer was skeptical. "Is it an otter?" the farmer yelled back.

"Yes," yelled Lori, who didn't have her hearing aids in, "it's an honor to see a beaver!"

"No," yelled the farmer, " is it an OTTER?"

"It's quite an honor," yelled Lori.

But anyway, it turns out that Lori thought it was a beaver.

And that is quite an honor. And also a miracle.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Oh. My. God.

You may have heard that it is raining in the Pacific Norhwest if you are not too wrapped up in your own winter weather woes. I am here to testify that yes, it is raining, although that hardly seems like the right word to describe what is happening outside. Yesterday's two inches of snow was washed away completely before the end of the day and it is now about 60 degrees outside with a monsoon type deluge planned for the next two days.

That seems actually like a picnic since down on the Oregon coast and Southwest Washington coast they are enjoying winds of 100+ mph and 70-foot seas.

So it does feel a little bit whiny to report that in Seattle they are predicting 8 inches of rain in 24 hours, which probably will be a new record. Down here we are going to get more than that, since we already had 8 inches by this morning according to the farmer.

I do not mind rain as long as I do not have to touch it or go near it and since there are a few drips in the roof of the cabana, I shrewdly decided to switch barns yesterday. I signalled subtly to the farmer to come and get me by screaming my head off.

Can you imagine how sad and sympathetic I felt this morning as I watched the farmer trundle down to the cabana with the feed cart only to discover that even the greediest of the minis - that would be Peaches' spherical daughter Tubster - would not make the four foot sprint from the cabana to the feeder for grain.

Instead Tubby and the rest of them all stood inside yelling for room service, which the farmer did not provide since they are all too fat anyway. Instead they just got a few flakes of hay thrown in and will have to go without grain until they are willing to come out to the feeder and eat it.

So sad. I almost couldn't finish my breakfast (cob, dairy ration, peanuts, grass hay and alfalfa) thinking about it.

But anyway I am glad for a few rainy days, since I am working on my soon-to-be-published cookbook, Baby Belle's Dairy Princess Cookbook, which I predict will be the biggest selling cookbook ever written by a goat.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Don't Ask

The farmer is very curious I guess because the farmer often asks the question, "what next?"

Especially the last couple of weeks the farmer was even asking Scouty the Nubian like she would know, "what next?"

It all started in September. First the farmer brought the young swollen-headed prom princesses home from the fair with their ribbons. All three of them got the sniffles, from being around lots of strange goats in a day care type setting. These sniffles immediately spread to the rest of the herd so that all the crazy ladies who were coming into heat had to wait to be bred.

So the crazy ladies stood around bawling their heads off, which made for quite a symphony of outrage with the LaManchas singing an angry tenor and the Nubians leaning more toward a soulful Delta Blues type register.

Nobody knows the troubles these ladies had seen. But nobody. It was a big sound.

So the farmer then foolishly asked, "what next?"

The next day the farmer came out to find Xtra Joy the LaMancha kid with a grapefruit-sized swelling on the side of her head. The type of swelling that makes you take a step backward when you see it, and say, "Holy Smoke!"

In the corner of her mouth Joy had a small cut as well, not noticeable until you peeled her lip back, which caused her to shriek in an ear-piercing way, making a nice counterpoint to the Wagnerian chanting of the crazy ladies. Of course there was no vet available so Joy had to wait until the next day when she was whisked off (2 hours away) to the first goat vet who could see her.

The farmer had started her on antibiotics and banamine to keep the swelling down. The vet looked dubiously at the grapefruit, opining that it felt like scar tissue.

"From what?" the farmer asked. "How can she get scar tissue between breakfast and lunch?"

The vet suggested keeping her on antibiotics to see if the swelling would go down.

"I will do that," said the farmer, "but can you please sedate her and examine inside the cut as well since we came all this way."

Joy was sedated and the vet began probing the cut and got a little flashlight out and some tweezers and a surprised look came over the vet's face and within a few seconds the vet extracted a rubber door stop from deep inside Joy's cheek. Somehow Joy had managed, who could even imagine how, to a) impale herself on the rounded rubber door stop behind the milkroom door with enough force to cut through her cheek and plunge the rubber door stop inside and b) pull her head back quickly enough that the rubber door stop came off and stayed embedded in her cheek.

Foolishly, the farmer asked, "what next?"

Then the old farm truck broke down.

"What next?" the farmer asked.

The new farm truck broke down.

"What next?" the farmer asked.

The phone rang. It was the farmer's neighbor calling to say that Tommy the appaloosa, down in the summer camp pasture in Longbranch, might be feeling sick. This turned out to be the understatement of the year.

Tommy was in a terrible state, horribly swollen, feverish, standing on three legs and shaking with pain, unable to move. Most shocking of all, Tommy would not eat anything.

What had happened to him? No one knew. He was swollen all over his hindlimbs and underbelly. The type of swelling that makes you take a step backward when you see it, and say, "Holy Smoke!" His legs looked like elephant legs.

Even such a hardened character as the farmer, fresh from seeing a goat with a rubber door stop embedded in its cheek, was shaken.

"Holy Smoke," the horse vet said, when he saw Tommy.

No one quite knew what was wrong with Tommy. For three days he could barely move, and had to have buckets of water carried to him to drink. He was loaded up 24 hours a day with pain medicine and antibiotics. The farmer secretly thought that he would die, but never said anything, just stood next to him in the paddock, chatting casually to him but not touching him, since even his skin was sore so he couldn't be patted on the neck.

On the fourth day, still horribly swollen, Tommy began to walk a little, dragging his toes.

On the fifth day it started to seem that Tommy - probably out of stubbornness - was not going to die.

Tommy has always been extremely bossy, in fact he thinks he is the center of the universe, but like so many animals, when he was very sick he conducted himself with extraordinary dignity and sweetness. He was grateful for every kindness, and nickered softly whenever he saw the farmer.

Now, several weeks later, he is back in charge of the world, and ruling with an iron fetlock, even though he still has a little bit of swelling.

The farmer was looking at him this morning for a long time. And then it seemed like the farmer might have a question, not for Tommy but for the universe.

But then the farmer didn't ask.

Probably a good idea.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Back to the Future

Well, Penrose and Betsy have been introduced to their frozen boyfriends. Penrose was relatively pleased to meet Razz Azari, who as we mentioned was a son of two-time National Toggenburg Champion Madame Razz.

But despite the fact that the moon was full and it was a starry starry night, little orphan Betsy, in typical fashion, was not at all pleased to meet her boyfriend Vincent.

Vincent was the sire of a doe named Daffy Dandelion, once National Champion and once Reserve National Champion. Betsy did not care about his bloated resume, and offered to kick him back to the 20th century in his little tube.

Fortunately for everyone, the kick was blocked, the deed was accomplished, and the swimmers are in the pool.

Go, little Vincent! Go Razz! Swim like the wind!

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Hmm, here is a lost post from the summer. It somehow fell on the digital scrap heap.

I am going to put it up because it reminds me of all the long-gone sunny days, and of little Peanut who lives in Sequim now and of Zilla who went to Vashon. Also it reminds me of one of the little brats next door, who came and stood at the fence calling for Peanut for three days in a row after Peanut had moved to his new home.

I guess he didn't believe the farmer when the farmer told him Peanut was gone.

(from August.)

Now the brats next door (BND) hang around all the time watching us.

One of them comes over at 5 every afternoon in hopes that he will be able to feed Peanut his bottle. Then when the farmer isn't watching he likes to feed Annabel and Ruby and Lucy and Joy from the bottle, too, even though they are practically college age and were weaned a long time ago.

They never mention this to him, though, they just slurp from the bottle every chance they get while he laughs and laughs.

The farmer says, "you're not feeding those big babies, are you? They're not supposed to drink milk," and he says "oh, no."

Shouldn't those BNDs be inside playing video games or something? Since when do little kids play outside?

Time Travelers

The frozen gentlemen have arrived, each in a little tube from the 20th century. All of them are handsome, exceedingly well-bred, and dead as doornails.

Their names are as fancy as their pedigrees.

First, the four gentlemen of LaMancha:

Rockspring DB Dahlia Doubletake
Haute Caprine Pulsar
Little-Orchard P Golden Ace
Rockspring DM Vermil Vincent

and last but by no means least, the Toggenburg Titan himself, Sunkissed Razz Azari(son of 2x national champion SGCH Sunkissed Madame Razz, LA 93).

Penrose will be introduced to Azari when the time is right. But the question is, who should little orphan Betsy try to thaw out? Perhaps Mr. Doubletake?

The farmer does not know how to revive the frozen gentlemen, but the farmer's neighbor is an expert on introducing ladies to frozen gentleman, so she will do the honors, and we shall see if any more little time travelers arrive in the spring.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Funny, That

It is strange how a goat can be really funny-looking and also very beautiful.

I am thinking of Big Orange. Big Orange is funny-looking. She is part Nubian, and she is bright orange, and she has little crooked ears that look like sugar bowl handles. There is no denying that she is funny-looking.

But she is also very beautiful. Everyone who comes to the barn says - "which goat is that?" and they point to Big Orange. There is just something about her.

And on top of that she has a way of looking at you like she has never seen you before but come to think of it she has always wanted to meet you. She walks right up to you, almost on tiptoe, as if she thinks you are asleep and doesn't want to wake you, but wants to get a really good look at you.

She studies you. Like she is memorizing you, in case you ever become separated.

Anyway, even with her exotic new name everyone still calls her Big Orange. But the farmer says it doesn't matter what anyone calls her now, because next spring after she has her kids she is going to go to all the shows, and then everyone will know her real name.

"After all," says the farmer, "when he was at home everyone called Secretariat Big Red. You just wait and see."

I'm not sure what that means. But I will wait and see.

Cruel YouTube Video

Is this type of thing really legal? Shouldn't the Goat Justice League in Seattle be called in on this? And the Horse Justice League?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Special Treatment for the Milkers

I am now down in the cabana pasture with the other Nigerians and all the minis except Peaches and Mabel.

Fancy pants Lucy and little brown-nose Joy were bragging about how they are staying up at the big barn with the milkers. Even Peaches, who is way down at the bottom of the pecking order, with only her own twin sister Mabel to boss around, was acting snooty.

Big deal, I said to myself.

Then came what I thought was the final indignity: Bertie the half-wit dry yearling was ushered up to the big barn, because she is going to be one of the milkers in the spring.

This left me and Hannah Belle and Breezy and Jammies and Tubster (what is her real name, anyway?) and Billie and Willa stewing in our own juices. We assumed the service would be very poor down where we were, and the big fancy milkers would get all the good food, and alfalfa instead of grass hay, and lots of cosseting that they don't need, being horribly conceited already not to mention fat.

But no: the food is pretty good down here, and so far a reasonable amount of it, even some halfway decent alfalfa.

But still the milkers were acting supercilious, because they had heard that they were going to get some special treatment. Well, a couple of days went by and someone pulled up in a little white car and got out and started putting a coverall on out of the trunk, and I said to myself, wait a minute.

Wait just a minute, I said, there is only one reason for a person to arrive and put a green coverall over their clothes, and that reason is that the person is a veterinarian. Ha!

Sure enough!

Pretty soon the milkers got their special treatment - shots in the ass and needles in their necks to take blood samples.

I tried not to laugh. But not very hard.


Saturday, November 10, 2007

Letter from Alcatraz

Hello everyone.

Yesterday I started to feel a little overheated in spite of the chilly weather and all of a sudden I got a strange idea.

What about the carbon footprint?

I'm not exactly sure what it is, but I know Wrusty knows a lot about it, and also Marquee, and that darling little Captain January, in fact all the bucks know practically everything there is to know about the carbon footprint.

And speaking of those gentlemen I noticed how really wonderful they looked yesterday and I was surprised I hadn't been struck by it before, in fact even last week I remarked to Hannah Belle what a disgusting bunch they were, but I must be needing glasses to say something like that because yesterday I couldn't imagine ever having seen a finer group of individuals assembled anywhere unless of course an Osmond Family photo session were under way.

So I squeezed through my private fence hole in the cabana pasture, and then I squeezed under the Willenized fence in the buck pasture, and then I sashayed - I just felt like sashaying, I don't know why - up to the pen where Marquee was blubbering and pawing and in general discoursing at a very erudite level about the perils of carbon dioxide.

Anyway, long story short, next thing I know I have a lead rope around my neck and I am being frogmarched up to the baby holding cell (Alcatraz) in the barn, where I am now in my second day of incarceration without ever having seen so much as a magistrate.

Well, I guess things could be a little bit worse - I could have been sent to the horse trailer (Guantanamo). But really. What about the due process? What about the jury of my peers?

No justice, NO PEACE!!!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

My Possible Sabbatical

It is being decided right now whether I will go on sabbatical. Last year Breezy took the year off and did not have any kids and now she looks like a beach ball with legs, even though she doesn't get special milker's grain or anything extra-yummy because she is a dry doe.

The farmer thinks I should take a year off because I have had kids every year for the last four years, and last year I had triplets which ended up giving me milk fever since the triplets were a tad on the ravenous side, but that didn't really bother me since the farmer became my nanny and I got to loll about while my kids were drinking from their bottles, and got lots of extra food and treats and pampering.

I have to say, looking at the difference between my kids and Breezy's kids, that I think it would be a mistake to give me the year off, and if I do get the year off, I want to make sure that I do not have to try to squeak by on grass hay and a tiny smattering of cob, because that type of death march ration really doesn't suit my personality or my station in life, what with being Goat of the Year and so on among other honors.

And also not to mention it but excuse me, where are the fair ribbons won by the Breezy family?

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Death and the Spokesgoat

Some things just will not die, like the farmer's old farm truck. The old farm truck is on DNR (do not resuscitate) status, which means that if it dies it dies and no more than $100 can be spent to save it. Goodbye, God bless you, thank you for your decades of thankless service, vaya can dios.

It is several hundred years old, anyway; I believe Lewis and Clark drove it out here from Missouri or wherever they came from. Anyway, you may remember the old farm truck from last spring's tales of Sammy and the F-150s, who lived inside it when they were babies.

Well last weekend within hours of each other the old farm truck (1978) and the new farm truck (1990) both appeared to expire within hours of each other at the most inconvenient possible time, causing the farmer to transport a large, amorous buckling in full rut inside a Honda which was not a matter to be attempted lightly or at all in my opinion but there you are. What can you do.

The farm truck was left to fester in its own juices down at the side of the highway for several days until the farmer felt like dealing with it. At that point it was towed home by a retired ex-marine from Puyallup and that is another story but not for these pages.

Anyway after a great deal of incompetent mechanicking around it appeared that the truck was suffering from a deceased carburetor, which if you go to you will see starts at around $214, not including installation, so funeral arrangements were commenced for the F-150. But not so fast.

Within minutes of the supposed demise of the F-150, a friend of a friend had managed a hookup resulting in a used (but perfect shape!) carburetor for $40.

So the death of the farm truck has yet to be finalized although I myself am not the type of goat who puts a lot of faith in pre-owned carburetors. On the other hand, the F-150 has had a rod knocking since 1998, so its will to live is not inconsiderable.

Anyway, we'll see. In other news, Penrose has been declared the farm's spokesgoat - "for now" - which I don't think is fair. It is only because she is so good at looking into the camera, which can hardly be considered a skill, if you ask me.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Under Every Tree

The Woods are full of them.

After our wettish summer the mushroom hunters are out in force. You see them everywhere, walking with their heads down and their beady little eyes scanning the ground, blind to everything but the fungi.

Most of them are looking for chanterelles, probably because they don't know any better.

But the farmer has been raking in Zeller's Boletus, an undersung mushroom and close cousin to the boletus edulis, the mushroom of a thousand names, including the cep, the cepe, the steinpilz, the Karl Johan, the varganya, the borovik, the penny bun. If you are a foodie, you probably know it by its plural Italian name: porcini.

Around here it is called the king boletus, and not for nothing, because it is pretty much the king of mushrooms. We don't find many king boletus, even in a year like this, because we are at too low of an elevation, but the humble Zeller's - homely as they come with its purple neck, its spongy underside, its dingy cap - is hiding in plain sight just about everywhere.

The farmer doesn't even bother with the flashy overpraised chanterelles any more, they take up too much space in the basket and they aren't as good, in spite of what some of the mushroom book writers have written about lowly Zeller's - "edible but not incredible", etc.

Ha. Keep your fancy chanterelles.

Friday, October 12, 2007


Lucy and Leo on the porch, back when they were babies. Lucy and Leo were tiny toggamanchas (now they are big) and they were holy terrors. They went everywhere together, living life in duplicate.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Male Trouble

As far as I can tell the human animal does not think it is an animal. But if it would just accept this fact and use some of its common sense to understand the lessons of the animal world then a lot of its troubles could be remedied.

For example, today Wrusty Nails, Peaches' son who is ordinarily about as charming as a buck can be, went crazy. He went absolutely loco. In his state of non compos mentis, he decided that he could fit his entire large body through a 4 by 4 inch hole. That is the size of the openings in the fencing wire in his pen.

I didn't even mention his head, which is about the size of a basketball.

Anyway, Wrusty was completely berserk.


I think you know why.


Wrusty wanted to go over and talk to some pretty goat girls, or even one of the frumpy ones, about his opinions on the carbon footprint and so on, and he wanted to do it really badly, and he wanted to do it right away, and since he can't jump six feet (unlike my daughter Hannah Belle) he decided that he would just go through the fence.

And here is the really crazy part: he did it.

By sheer boneheadedness and determination he pushed his head into the hole in the fence, and then he kept pushing, and then finally like the Popeye of goats, he burst all the way through, snapping the heavy gauge wire like it was a spider web. The farmer came out just as Wrusty was completing the final mile of his arduous journey, and Wrusty was quickly escorted to the horse trailer for the duration of the ensuing fence repairs, while the goat girls who were in heat lined up along the fence calling to him.

"Wrusty, where are you going? What about the carbon footprint?"

And that is the essence of the male trouble we have around here this time of year. The goat girls go into heat, and it lasts maybe a day or two, and during that time the goat girls are willing to discuss the carbon footprint when at all other times of the year they would run screaming - literally screaming - if Wrusty Nails or any of his shaggy odiferous ilk ever came blubbering around.

But the goat boys, the bucks, go into a state of unbelievably monomaniacal insanity that lasts 24 hours a day and 7 days a week until the last of the goat girls has come out the other side of her heat wave. They stand ever vigilant, ready at a moment's notice, thinking of nothing nothing nothing else. They don't care about pain or about hunger or about rain or cold or wind. They are crazy, and they do absolutely crazy things without a second thought. Without a first thought, really.

But on the other side of the coin, the goat girls can only afford to go crazy for a couple of days at most.

Because no society can function when all the girls are crazy. Nothing would get done. No milk, no functioning hierarchy, no one to raise the kids.

So the girls go crazy in installments, and in between times they come to their senses and keep everything running smoothly. Many times I have asked myself, looking at the father of my children, "what was I thinking?" It's okay, though, because it doesn't last.

But the boys go crazy, and they don't come back.

And they must be monitored very carefully, or else they will invade Austria at the drop of a hat.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

You May Find Yourself In Another Part of the World

Boo got out yesterday. Nobody knows how, especially not Boo.

The farmer came out and Boo was standing in the garden, looking dazed and confused. The look on her face was pure Talking Heads, circa 1984.

"How Did I Get Here?"

She was so puzzled she hadn't even bothered to destroy any valuable plants, or eat any forbidden fruit. She was standing smack next to the dwarf apple tree, and hadn't eaten so much as a leaf.

Within a few short minutes she was able to identify the farmer as someone she remembered seeing somewhere, possibly in a previous lifetime rather than eight zillion times a day every day of her life, and gratefully trundled over to be taken back to the barn.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

TNT Betsy: Puyallup Poster Child

Today is the last day of the Western Washington State Fair, aka The Puyallup. We were just there last week but so much has happened since we got back that it seems like years ago. Unfortunately, much of what has happened is either bad or very bad, but usually that means that something good is just around the corner.

Anyway that is what we are hoping.

But back to the Puyallup: even though little orphan Betsy did not even go to the Puyallup this year, she has been on the front page of the Tacoma News Tribune every day of the fair. They used the photo they took of her last year to make an icon for their fair blog.

The farmer showed her the picture but she had no comment.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Boxcar Betty

When Betty was born, she was the last of triplets. Her two brothers, Peanut and Zilla, had a bad time getting into the world. One was too little, and got stuck coming breech; the other was too big, with a leg back and a giant noggin. After those two troublemakers, Betty just tumbled out, like a little pair of dice, and the farmer thought "Boxcars!" at the sight of all those dalmatian spots.

So her name is Boxcar Betty.

Here she is, standing out in the crowd with her crapshooting colors and her Carolina Blue eyes.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Back from the Fair

Well, the farmer just got back from the fair, and I could have told you what would happen.

Only three goats went, because the farmer didn't feel that good and some of the goats also looked like they might be getting sniffles.

So the three contenders were Xtra Joy, Lucy Goosy (aka Dory), and my granddaughter Boxcar Betty. The farmer thought Xtra Joy would do well, because she is supposedly so pretty and everything despite not having any ears. If you like a goat with no ears, I guess she looks okay.

And the farmer thought Lucy might do well, because Lucy is Penrose's daughter and she has a lot of dairy character, whatever that is supposed to mean, despite being kind of a brown nose. She is one of those goats always hanging around the farmer practically saying "Pet me, Pet me," which I find undignified.

When I go around the farmer, I like to convey that I wouldn't mind having a little grain since I am getting so emaciated, and after that it would be all right if the farmer wanted to scratch my chest, and please don't forget the animal crackers next time you go to the store.

I think this establishes a more collegial atmosphere.

Anyway, the farmer did not think Boxcar Betty would do that well, because there were going to be a lot of Nigerians at the Fair. And Betty of course was very cute and adorable but maybe not that much of a show goat.

And of course Betty was a big hit at the Fair, with all kinds of people trying to buy her and asking questions about her and wanting to know what kind of goat she was and when she was born and so on.

And the show started and Lucy went first, and despite not feeling that well and having a bad haircut and refusing to walk in a straight line, she came in second place and got a ribbon, which was good even though it was a small class.

And then Joy went. And oh my goodness, the farmer's eyes boggled when all the goats went into the show ring. It looked like a national show or something, as the judge even remarked, with so many beautiful Lamanchas there. And anyway, Joy did not do very well, partly because the farmer did not do a good job of showing her and partly because there were so many exquisite doelings there. Joy was ninth, which doesn't sound that good, until you look at the girls in tenth, eleventh, twelfth place and down the line and see how pretty they are.

Then the Nigerian show started, and when the farmer brought Betty out, the farmer's eyes boggled again. Betty's Nigerian class was just as big as Joy's class, and with just as many beautiful animals. This was the class for the youngest Nigerian kids, and there was kind of a rodeo going on outside the ring waiting to go in, and lots of bawling and crow-hopping, with many of the Nigerian kids screaming, "this is not in my contract, and I would like to see an attorney before proceeding further, and by the way, I hate you."

Betty did not do this. Betty stood calmly and quietly, not causing any trouble. The ring steward motioned her to go into the ring first, and when she walked in she had the air of the world's tiniest princess. And the judge very quickly put her at the head of the class in front of all the others.

So Betty, my granddaughter little Boxcar Betty, was the only one to win a blue ribbon.


Monday, September 10, 2007

All Quiet

Well it has been pretty dull here the last few days since Clipper and the two most beautiful mini-Manchas (Buttons and Cappy) in the world went to their new home together.

Breezy has taken over bossing everyone in the fat girl pasture, but I have to say everyone down there looks kind of dazed. Clipper's style of drill sergeant management kept them on their toes, and now they are pretty much flat-footed. Breezy just doesn't crack the whip with the same lion-tamer gusto. I hate to admit it, but I think everyone misses Little Colonel Clipper.

Now the last dregs of summer are trickling away, but they say we will have beautiful weather this week, so I for one am going to get out and do some power-lounging in the sun.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

The News From Home

Well my grandson Peanut went to his new home and I am not surprised to learn that he has already taken up pen and ink to begin his literary career. You can read Peanut's first musings here. He is living with a goat philosopher named Marigold and a sleuthing fainting goat named Watson, so hopefully he won't get too smart for his own good. There is a full-blown Nubian there, though, so that should bring the I.Q. level back down toward the mean.

Meanwhile, Peanut's mother Hannah Belle (aka Lecter) has returned to her willful ways and is now spending part of every day inside the horse trailer. According to the farmer, she is "thinking about what she did" in there, but as far as I can tell she is catching up on her naps and enjoying some very pleasant alone time.

Because thinking is not something she does in order to make herself a better goat. Thinking is something she does in order to figure out new ways to get into the grain room. So far she has thought up about seven hundred ways to do that. Her little anarchist daughter Boxcar Betty has taken to following her around on some of her excursions, too.

Wendell the boston terrier pest had been lying around in a sleep coma recovering from the departure of his friend Max until today. Today he unfortunately started feeling better and chased Boxcar Betty all around the pasture until he got a good yelling-at from the farmer.

On another matter, Winnie came back into the big milker pasture acting all high and mighty. That lasted about 15 seconds until she got taken down several pegs by an unlikely gang-up consortium of Boo the Ocean Liner Nubian, Scouty the Winnebago Nubian, and little modest yearling milker Ronny, who is actually Winnie's sister. Together they showed Winnie who was not boss.

Then the three of them shook hands, gave each other courtesy head bumps, and went back about their business - hogging as much food as possible.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Oh Look, a Dandelion!

Well my grandson the little black-eyed Peanut has gone to his new home out in the Sequim Banana Belt, and the farmer is moping around.

Peanut's mother, on the other hand, did not notice that he is gone. I am not an expert but I think this may ruin her chances for the Mother-of-the-Year Award. After all you cannot very well stand at the podium accepting your crystal vase and say, "and I would like to thank my wonderful children, I had two or maybe three of them this year, and they are all just wonderful kids, etc etc, however many of them there were."

Even so she is better than some of the Nubians. One of our Nubians, Stacy, had triplets one year and she was terribly attached to them but when two of them went to a new home she simply shook her head a couple of times to adjust to the new reality. You could see a little glimmer of an idea scrolling across her forehead: "didn't I use to have a couple more of these darling little things? No, no, I guess not...oh, look, a dandelion!"

Monday, August 20, 2007

Hannah Belle's Old Leaf

Well, my daughter Hannah Belle as you may know used to be quite a troublemaker. In fact, she was certainly the top troublemaker at the farm for quite a while, and was voted Most Likely to Give the Farmer a Stroke with her incorrigible escape artistry. But Hannah Belle turned over a new leaf when her triplets were born in June.

Feeding and cleaning and nudging and coddling them, that's all she did. One, Goatzilla, is such a mama's boy as a result that he practically bursts into tears if he can't see her. If you left the gate open to her stall, she wouldn't leave, that's how bad it was for a while. Personally I thought it was a little smarmy. Luckily the baby, Peanut, was raised on the bottle so he is strong-minded and independent.

Well, one day last week Hannah Belle shook the cobwebs from her head and got the old sparkle back in her eye.

After three months in the milker stall without even so much as an attempted escape, she looked up and said to herself, hey, wait a minute, this wall is only five feet high!

Over she went in a blink and off to ransack the barn looking for grain, leaving cosseted little Zilla bawling in distress.

Then out to the pasture to scarf up the fallen apples. Then on to the porch to investigate a bucket that looked suspiciously capable of containing cob.

And before you know it, she was apprehended and frogmarched to the horse trailer for a punishment timeout, her first in over a year. I heard the angry yelling echoing eerily off the trailer's metal walls - it went on for hours - and my heart swelled with pride.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Vive la Reine!

Return of the Queen

Well isn't it funny.

I don't know if you remember but Brandy was always our leader. She was the herdqueen and everyone agreed she was the herdqueen, so there was no Balkanization of the herd. The herd all agreed that Brandy was the queen.

Sure, some would mutter that they would be a better queen, and if they were the queen they would do things a lot differently, and there would be more cake, and earmarks for the queen's special friends, and bread and circuses and no new taxes.

And some would say why do we always have a LaMancha queen, why shouldn't we have a Nigerian queen or possibly a miniature queen.

And some of the long-eared-bears-of-little-brain even suggested a Nubian queen, since after all the Nubians are the biggest and the loudest. But this was widely considered laughable. Even some of the Nubians themselves would laugh when they said it. At least I think they were laughing. Who knows.

Anyway, ok, I got a little off track, but Brandy was always our leader. In spite of being small, and often terribly skinny because she was such a tremendous milker, Brandy was the queen, and ruled by consensus. She was firm but fair, and she was an excellent goat trainer because she was unfailingly consistent.

Brandy would always explain that she was going to eat first and she would insist upon it and she brooked no disagreement. And if you thought you were going to get in line ahead of Brandy - which for the most part you didn't think - you knew the price you were going to pay. Expert t-boning in the ribs, followed by ear-biting (if you had ears) and an ignominous bum's rush out the door. You did not get away with queue-jumping. Ever.

But if you were polite and waited your turn, you need fear nothing from Brandy. And if you stayed out of her way, she had no quarrel with you.

This was completely the opposite of, say, Boo. In Boo's ill-fated attempt at politics, she would one day insist that she was going to eat first and fight to the death over it. The next day she would run screaming to the end of the line after a sideways look from someone else.

Brandy had an unfortunate occurrence in the spring: she lost a set of beautiful triplets and was kept in isolation for several weeks because she was under the weather, and while she was out of circulation turmoil raged in the ensuing power vacuum and finally, unbelievably, Clipper emerged as the sort-of leader, ruling completely by terror.

Clipper turned into Attila the mini-Togg. You might be dozing in the sun and chewing your cud and out of the blue she would steamroller you into the dust for no apparent reason. She went mad with power. Anyone who looked at her cross-eyed might be t-boned against a locust tree. She was a pillager through and through.

And since she was always punishing everyone randomly, there emerged an idea that you could get away with things, small crimes and misdemeanors, if only you kept one eye on her. You could quietly sneak snacks out of turn from the feeder, for example, while she was burning and sacking a village of nearby innocents. This contributed to the chaos.

Well Clipper didn't have kids this year and she was eventually moved out to the pasture of fat girls and dry yearlings, where her iron-fisted regime of seething anarchy continues. Meanwhile, up at the main barn, Brandy endured her demotion with serene dignity, never scrabbling for anything or kowtowing to anybody. Just waiting patiently.

Slowly she fattened and regained her strength, and one day a couple of weeks ago she got a certain look in her eye when Scouty came clipclopping to the door to be fed first.

And that look said, "I don't think so."

And Brandy explained to Scouty that she was going to eat first and she insisted on it. And she brooked no disagreement.

And within a couple of days the fog of amnesia lifted and everyone remembered, oh yeah, that's right, you ARE the boss of me.

And Brandy returned to her rightful throne.

And I say, after surviving the Clipperish Inquisition, Long Live the Queen.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Getting The Picture

When we took this picture we thought we knew what we were doing. This isn't always the case. But sometimes, a lot of the time, actually, you are doing something you don't know you are doing. And that isn't always a bad thing.

Anyway, this picture - we thought - was a picture of Sammy, one of our favorite bottle babies of the year. Sammy went to a very nice new home and we hear that he is doing well. The farmer was very glad when he was born, because his mother is one of the best and prettiest does and she hadn't been able to have kids for three years and the farmer was worried. So Sammy was a welcome addition, just for that reason, but on top of that he had a funny personality and was a very endearing character (obviously not as endearing as my triplets, but you have to start somewhere.)

And we thought this was a nice picture of little Sammy when we took it, and we were glad to have a nice picture of him.

But the farmer was just looking through the photos of this year's kids and stopped in surprise at this picture. In the background is our cat Julius, an orange tabby.

Julius disappeared this spring and we don't know what happened to him. But we don't think he is coming back, since he has been gone for several months now. If you look very closely, you will see him. This is the last picture we have of Julius.

Julius first belonged to the farmer's sister, but he stayed here when the farmer's sister moved to the East Coast. Julius was a very good cat, and he was also very good at being a farm cat. He was friendly and sweet and never lost his good nature even when he was having problems with runny eyes and ears, which he had his whole life and no vet could ever do anything for. Julius was well traveled and confident, a real cat's cat, and he would stray and stroll much further than our other cat, Harry, who pretty much stays right around the barn.

For a while Julius had a habit of waiting at the end of the driveway for the farmer or Lori to come home. Lori always worried that he would get run over, but he was much too smart for that. Julius also made friends around the neighborhood, and for a couple of months one time, his attendance at the farm was very spotty, and the farmer was surprised to discover that he had a side family next door - where the food must have been better - and was spending a lot of time there. But pretty soon he came back.

Anyway, we haven't seen Julius in a long time, and we hope maybe he moved somewhere with someone who thought he was their cat. That could have happened. And that would be fine.

But we do want them to know, if they are reading this, that Julius was our cat. And we will be waiting if he comes home.

Monday, August 06, 2007

The Farmer's Amazing Car

The farmer's car is a little black vw station wagon.

Lately the farmer has been driving all over. Down to Longbranch to feed and ride the horses every day because they are at summer camp while their pasture is reseeded. Up to Gig Harbor to fetch paint and supplies for the barn remodeling.

Over to Jerry's feed store in Vaughn to get grain, grain, grain for the piggish milkers.

Anyway, all the time we would see the farmer putting things in the car and never taking them out, saying things like, "I might need that."

So I knew there were a lot of things in the car but I was surprised when the farmer's friend had to drive separately from the farmer instead of riding in the station wagon - because there was only room for one person.

But anyway today the farmer took most of the things out of the station wagon - not all, don't be silly - and even I was surprised to see what was in there. It was like watching the clown car at the circus.

This is not a complete list, just a small sampling.

1. A red metal tack box that says "Elvis" - no one knows why - and contains electric sheep shears, clipper blades, clipper oil, clipper grease, fitting accoutrements for show sheep (which we don't have any of thank Goodness. If there is anything dumber than a Nubian, it is a sheep. Bless their hearts, I say).

2. A cordura breastcollar and other tack for a cheap western saddle.

3. A Buena Vista style leather saddle for a Tennessee Walker.

4. A pair of posthole diggers.

5. A can of rustoleum paint.

6. A border collie.

7. Assorted lumber, including pieces of cedar siding and a 3-foot length of treated 6x8.

8. Several bits, including a copper mouth snaffle, a Tom Thumb, and a Kimberwick. A lunging whip, a horse tack box (not the Elvis box) full of combs, brushes, hoofpicks, neatsfoot oil, fly spray, wormer.

9. A bag of green apples.

10. A cheap cordura western saddle.

11. A boston terrier.

12. Assorted paperwork needed to complete an extension-to-file 2007 income tax return.

13. A clay birdhouse.

14. A saddle pad. A plaid wool blanket. A rug. A heavy winter Carhartt jacket. A frisbee. Several dog leashes. A phone book.

15. An extra-large rubbermaid tub full of Tammy's Special Mix. (horse grain.)

16. An old iron double tree (for two horses to pull farm equipment).

17. Assorted reading material including books, newspapers, maps, magazines and flyers.

18. Sixteen charcoal gray Holland paving bricks.

"This will never happen again," the farmer said soberly, examining each item with dismay. Then the farmer got ready to go down to Longbranch.

"Well, I will definitely need these," the farmer said, and put the cheap western saddle and the horse tack box back in the station wagon.

"And probably these," and the bits went back in.

"And I wouldn't go anywhere without this," and in went the border collie, very pleased at the roomy new accommodations.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Brats Next Door

Well the farmer got mad today but not mad enough. We were lolling in the front pasture when two little fat kids (human) from next door came up to the fence.

I thought they might have some licorice or cookies since they were fat kids so I went right up to the fence. Hannah Belle had the same idea and she came right up behind me. Peanut and Betty and Zilla came up behind Hannah Belle, and then Boo the ocean liner came pushing her way to the front, while Joy and Lucy actually stood up on the fence trying to reach into the kids' pockets.

Meanwhile those little fat boys were saying, "Baa, baa, baa," which on the scale of witty remarks is right around zero, in my opinion, but I stayed long enough to make sure they didn't have any ginger snaps.

Then I left. "Come on, Hannah Belle, " I said. And Hannah Belle and Peanut and Zilla and Betty left too. And Ruby and Annabel left. And Joy and Lucy left. And Eo left, and Aggie and Vel. And Scouty. And finally even Boo turned her wide load around and left.

Well, what happened then? The little princes picked up rocks and started throwing them at us.

One of them HIT me! I bawled. And then Boo bawled - she is a pretty hard target to miss, and then everybody started running.

Well, I saw one of the little teletubbies with his arm cocked back and just then I heard the loudest booming voice of all time.

CUT IT OUT!!!!!!!!!!

It was the farmer, madder than a hornet, and the two little rock-throwers were frozen solid with fear. They were stone cold busted, two of them standing there with rocks in their hands.

The farmer gave them a good yelling at, and asked a series of rhetorical questions - sometimes these are the best kind, I think.

Did they know that they could put somebody's eye out?

Would THEY like it if someone threw rocks at them?

What if they had hit that little baby goat (meaning Peanut)?

Didn't they have anything else to do?

Why did they do it?

Well they really liked the goats and they were playing (meaning they said "baa baa baa" over and over) with them (meaning us) and then the goats (meaning us) left and they wanted them to come back.

Good grief. I don't know how it happened but one of the little brats is going to come over tomorrow to give Peanut his bottle. And they both say they won't ever throw rocks at us any more.

Yeah right. Where is that pellet gun when you need it?

Thursday, August 02, 2007


It is well and truly summertime and you know what they say about that.

The living is so easy that several girls are on the Fat List, including yours truly.

The down-belows are slick and glossy; they go out during the day and munch hardhack and all-you-can-eat canary grass. Several babies and dry does are in very good condition (dairygoatspeak for 'waytoofat'), and even the milkers (Betsy and Wronny and Peaches) are tending toward the chubby. Peaches' little daughter Jules is as fat as a tick - in addition to grain and all-you-can-eat brush and grass, she is on a wide-open 24-hour milk buffet, and is quickly becoming the poster doeling for kidhood obesity.

Boo is also a tub - in my opinion she needs a couple of those big mirrors like the truck drivers have - and even Brandy looks like a normal goat instead of a skeleton.

Only Winnie and Penrose are still thin, and that is because they both milk like a fish.

But I have also noticed that there are a lot of fat robins. I have not seen fat robins before and I'm not sure how they fly. But there are several of them waddling around here.

It's just my opinion, but I think it is better to be a fat goat than a fat robin. At least I do not need a runway to get off the ground. Although sometimes when I see Boo heading for the feeder I wonder if it wouldn't be easier if there were a couple of tugboats to pull her in.

And that little Jules. My goodness. Behind her back everyone calls her Butterball, and even that is being polite.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Blessed Rain

Thank God for the rain, the blessed rain. That's what the farmer is saying.

The farmer is very tired out by haying, and the rain has put a temporary stop to it. In case you haven't heard, you have to make hay while the sun shines.

When it rains, you can lie around moaning about your tired muscles for a day or two until the haying resumes.

Here are some tips for haying, if you ever have to do it.

1. If you are considering haying, first of all have a dozen or so children, preferably boys or burly girls. Feed them a lot of pancakes and homeschool them so they don't hear a lot of foolish talk about child labor laws. (They will have to be your own children; you won't be able to make anyone else's children hay for you.)

2. When you are picking up hay in the field, use your hay hooks. If you pick up the hay by the strings, you will hurt your hands, and much more importantly, you will mess up the hay bales.

3. Don't pick up messed up hay bales. Just go on to the next bale. The people who don't get to the hayfield on time can have all the messed up smiley bales. These bales won't stack nicely.

4. When you are building your hay stack, make sure all the bales on the bottom are really nice. Iffy bales can go on top.

5. Don't pick up bales in the hayfield when it is 95 degrees.

6. Call up your city friends and tell them you are having a "hay party." It will be so much fun and so quaint! Working like a dog in the hot sun picking up actual hay bales for actual animals to eat! It is just like a reality show, only even more real!

7. Bring a sixpack of nice cold beer for the hay man.

8. Deliver the choicest hay to your favorite goat. (That's me, Baby Belle.)

Sunday, July 08, 2007

The Adventures of GoatBoy

Peanut did not get the memo that he is not a normal goat, even though the farmer insists he isn't.

Today he was out climbing the goat tree in the horse pasture while the horses are at summer camp.

He seems to think he is a normal goatboy. In fact he is much more of a hooligan than his big handsome brother Zilla, who bursts into tears whenever he can't see his mama for 15 seconds or longer.

Peanut is the only goat who has been in the sacred cheese room. Anyone else would have been spanked for going in there.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The Hay

The Hay.

The Hay is ready.

It is out in the field in Longbranch and the farmer is going to get it. The Hay is on a heartbreaking hillside overlooking Carr Inlet near Driftwood Point, where it has been enjoying the sunshine and the delicious breezes off the Sound.

The Hay is beautiful this year. But then, I think The Hay is beautiful every year. I love The Hay.

The farmer loves The Hay too, but also hates it. The Hay smells good and makes all the animals happy, but you have to pay for it, either through the nose or through the muscles, and you have to worry about it.

Is The Hay too dry? Is The Hay too wet? Was The Hay cut too soon? Was it cut too late? Is there enough of it? Is there too much of it? Would the Skokomish Valley hay have been better? Will there be enough room for the alfalfa when it comes?

This year The Farmer is paying for The Hay through the muscles, by going out into the field to pick it up, and load it on the trailer, and drive it back to the farm, and unload it from the trailer, and stack it in the barn.

This will be much cheaper than having The Hay delivered.

But it is very exhausting, so the farmer is very grumpy, and Lori is even grumpier, because Lori doesn't love-hate The Hay like the farmer, she just hates it.

As for me, maybe I mentioned it, I love The Hay.

The Hay is beautiful, and sweet. And The Hay smells like Forever. If anyone ever asks you what Forever is like, just tell them Forever is like The Hay.

They will either know what you mean, or they won't, but in any case, The Hay will be here long after they are gone, so it doesn't really matter.

To The Hay: I love you.

The Hay.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Peanut's Progress

When you used to see my grandson Peanut running, you would say to yourself, "run, Forrest, run."

This was because Peanut had a very wooden way of running and not the usual ultra-nimble baby goat caper. The baby goats do not need any half-pipe for their aerial stunts and displays. And they do not need a skateboard either. They just naturally know how to fly.

But Peanut went sort of squeaking along like the Tin Man, like there wasn't enough oil in his joints.

I don't know why but when the visitor humans all saw him, they would say, "Bless his heart." Which I guess is some kind of human insult, because they don't say that when they see the regular baby goats doing 360s off the barn wall. But when they saw Peanut they used to say, "Bless his heart."

Now when the visitor humans come to see Peanut the miracle baby they look at Hannah Belle's triplets for a while and then they say, "which one is he?"

Because it is very hard to tell Peanut from a normal baby now. First of all he has just about tripled in size. And second he walks and runs and capers and tries to jump on his mother's back and chews her beard when he gets a chance and wiggles under the stall boards to go outside with the big babies, which isn't allowed but of course all the little babies do it.

Only the farmer insists that Peanut is not normal. I think this is because the farmer agreed with Lori that Peanut would have to stay here and couldn't ever go to a new home because he wasn't quite normal, in spite of there being a strict rule against wethers here. And so the farmer points Peanut out to the visitors and says, "if you watch him for a while you will see that he is not normal. But you have to watch him for a while."

And so the visitors stare at Peanut. And the farmer says sadly, "Bless his heart."

Cheese Flavors

The farmer has been trying to think of new flavors of soft cheese and I have offered to help but none of my suggestions have been taken. I suggested perhaps a new alfalfa-flavored cheese or possibly a peanut cheese. Another thing that might be good would be a cheese with hints of cob, or a pea-vine cheese, or a banana-peel cheese (this could be marketed to Nubians, they would go crazy for it), or a ginger-snap cheese or a vanilla-wafer cheese with notes of ordinary garden weeds (those spindly ones with the ugly little yellow flowers that nobody knows what they are but they taste good). Then I suggested blackberry-leaf cheese. Blackberry leaves are one of my favorite meals, also salal. None of these suggestions have been taken which puts me at my wits' end. Perhaps you have a better idea.

But I doubt it.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

A Giude for Young Muthers

hello this is hannahbelle. I am t6he motehr of goatzilla peanut and boxcaR BETTY. i have some suggestions for those of you entering teh condition of motehrhood.

get a box to stand on or a stool.

you will feel a lot happier.

this way you can look at your kids and make sure they are still alive and everything without them coming up to you and drinking all your milk and making you feel drained when you need a few moments of alone time or just want to think about ginger snaps or something else important. because they can't reach you because you are standing up on a box. but they can see you so they dont cry or make a big fuss.

just a tip frmo me to you. thanks you.

please sned ginger snaps by the way now that I am thinking of it.

Hannah Belle's New Leaf

When my daughter Hannah Belle was a young mother, let's face it, she wasn't very good at it. And she didn't like it much. It was a lot of trouble.

So most of the time what she did was just go do what she wanted, leaving her two sons in the care of the farmer or anybody else who happened to be standing around. To the boys she would say, "Love ya! See you when all the bars close! Bye!"

And then she would be on her merry way, hopping over the stall wall to see if the grain room door was open, feasting on carefully tended rose bushes in the lawn, eating the leaves of expensive pawpaw trees imported from Virginia, kicking at the kitchen door to see if it would open, and so on. All the things any self-respecting goat feels obligated to do.

Well, this was actually fine because her two boys were very lighthearted and spent a lot of time frolicking with the other babies, and they only really noticed that they were essentially orphans when they started wanting milk. Which of course was all the time.

But anyway it wasn't too bad.

But now Hannah Belle is older and wiser and with her second set of kids - beautiful triplets - she has completely turned herself around. She will probably be voted mother of the year, not an honor to which I personally have ever aspired, but then there is no accounting for taste.

To tell you the truth, I think she is overdoing it a little. Go out, have some fun, eat a few blueberry bushes if you can sneak into the garden, that's what I say.

But not the new Hannah Belle. All day she stays with her kids, nuzzling little Peanut, cleaning big little Goatzilla's face, letting little Boxcar Betty use her for a trampoline. It's almost a little much.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Enough About Peanut

In all the brouhaha about adorable little Peanut, who I admit is the cutest thing on four hooves, some people seem to have forgotten that I have TWO new grandsons.

The other one is Goatzilla, aka Zilla, aka the prettiest blue-eyed buckling of all time.

My family of course is known for producing towering geniuses and kindly humble unaffected supermodels, but even by our standards Goatzilla is almost too pretty to look at.

Anyway, I'm sure you will see him on the covers of all the big goat magazines very soon, if you haven't already.

Like Cher, he needs only one name.


Peanut Parking Only

Little Peanut has turned a corner. Literally.

For his first few days, Peanut was only able to walk in a straight line. If he came to a wall, he would just stop. Then, like a little wind-up toy, the juice would gradually drain out of him until he just stood in whatever corner he had fetched up in, head down and battery dead.

He couldn't turn his head properly to groom himself, and he couldn't scratch.

Today Peanut can do all these things. He can also jump and hop (very small hops.)

This morning for the first time he went to the baby corner where he sleeps with his brother and sister, and he saw that Boxcar Betty was lying in "his" spot. And he did something that all normal baby goats do, but he had never done before.

He pawed at Betty until she grudgingly moved over an inch or two so he could lie where he wanted.

Yes. That's right, world. It's time to make room for Peanut.

Friday, June 08, 2007

They Call Me MISTER Peanut

My grandson Peanut is doing well.

He still does not have the hang of getting milk from his mother, but he knows how to suck from a bottle pretty well. And he is nothing if not optimistic: if he is hungry and there is no bottle nearby, he just turns his head up and sucks from the air.

Yes, maybe a cloud of milk could be passing by. You don't know if you don't check.

But Peanut is still on Day One of the Nigerian growth chart. While his brother and sister nurse, jump, dance, caper, play, taste test bits of hay and grain, practice jumping up on things, fret their mother by socializing with Wendell, and plan for future trouble they might be able to cause, Peanut only sleeps and eats and walks in a straight line.

So he is a little on the slow side.

But still smarter than any Nubian around here.

And, if I say so myself, probably the cutest little teacup goat ever born.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Peanut and His Brother

This is a picture of Peanut standing next to his big brother, Goatzilla. You can't really tell it from the photo, but Zilla is more than twice as big as Peanut. A lot more.

Peanut's Second Night

This is a picture of my grandson Peanut, just born.

Peanut did very well his second night. He did not have any more seizures, and he drank several small helpings of milk.

But because he isn't yet very good at getting milk from his mother without help, he came into the house to be a bottle baby at night. So for now he is bicoastal: bottle baby by night and Mama's boy by day.

Peanut is the smallest buckling ever born here.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Peanut's First Night

My daughter Hannah Belle, aka Hannah Belle Lecter, went to the kidding stall yesterday. She was as big as a house and let's just say that the farmer was not expecting her to have a single doe kid.

And she didn't.

But before she had any kids she extended her performance to an all-day marathon. She did some things that the farmer did not like, such as standing with her feet up on the ledge and lying with her neck flat along the ground to push. When the farmer sees these things, the farmer checks to make sure that the vet's number is still on speed dial, because often it means that the kids are in the wrong position to come out, and the mama goat is contorting herself to try to reposition them.

Around here it is called Snow Pea Syndrome - named in honor of my fat sister who had to have a c-section. Hannah Belle wasn't fat like Snow Pea, but sure enough she had some kids coming in the wrong direction.

The farmer went in to fish around after Hannah Belle had been in hard labor for a while, but could not find anything to pull out. There wasn't enough room to go all the way in, so Hannah Belle would have to be on her own. In the process, though, the farmer popped the first bubble, which usually speeds things up, and not too long afterward something finally made its way into the birth canal. It wasn't a foot or a nose, though.

It was a tail. Hannah Belle's first kid was breech, coming out butt first, not a good scenario. But before the farmer could try to reposition the kid, he shot out on his own, like a champagne cork.

He was tiny. Teeny tiny. He was the size of a peanut.

Meanwhile another kid was on the way, so Peanut had to wait. This one came out head first but with one leg back. Since his head was out, there was nothing to do but pull. Hannah Belle did some champion yelling, and finally the kid was tugged out, leg back and all.

He was HUGE. The farmer said, "look, it's Goatzilla." And the name stuck. Goatzilla got up and nursed. He was more than twice as big as Peanut, who still had not gotten any milk. And now Peanut would have to wait again, because another kid was coming.

Nobody knows how this one came out, because she arrived while they were all looking the other way. This was a normal-sized little girl, bigger than Peanut but not a monster. Boxcar Betty is her name. Like so many Nigerian doelings, she was drinking milk within a minute of birth.

Meanwhile, Peanut was finally up, and tottering around unsteadily, but he would not nurse. He didn't know how to suck. After a long struggle where Peanut almost had to go and be tubed, he finally took a little bit of colostrum. But not really very much. The farmer decided to take Peanut inside and make him a bottle baby.

And then something we had never seen before happened. Peanut had a seizure. A few minutes passed and Peanut had another seizure. And so on, until he had had eight seizures in two hours.

There was nothing the farmer could do about the seizures, so the farmer decided to bring Peanut back out to his mother. That was because the farmer thought Peanut might die in the night, and that he would probably rather die out in the barn, with Hannah Belle and Goatzilla and Boxcar Betty cuddled up around him.

After a few hours sleep the farmer came back out, looking grim, to see how Peanut was doing. Peanut was still alive. Hannah Belle had taken care of him through the night. The farmer went and got a bottle so Peanut could get extra milk with honey. Peanut gobbled an ounce of milk. The farmer went back in and brought back another ounce of milk with honey. Peanut gobbled it.

The farmer did the milking and feeding, watching Peanut the whole time with one eye. Peanut did not have any seizures. Hannah Belle nudged him and cleaned him and encouraged him. He stretched like a normal baby.

"Well," the farmer said to Peanut. "I guess you made it through the first night."

Now all we can do is wait and see what happens tomorrow. But I guess that's true every day.

Good luck, little Peanut.