Sunday, February 25, 2007

New Kids on the Block

Eo and her twin boys, born on Thursday afternoon, are enjoying a cozy stay in the barn. From what I can see, the food service is very good up there. Down here we get nothing but hay and a sprinkling of grain, hardly enough to live on.

Anyway, the boys' names are Stetson and Bugsy. Stetson is about 7 seconds older than Bugsy, and bigger. He is calm like his dad. Bugsy is smaller and more mischievous, with a little white cap.

Please welcome Bugsy and Stetson.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Change to the Schedule

There has been a change to the schedule. Eo just had her kids, a pair of little bucklings who look like bunny rabbits with buckskin jackets and big stetson ears. Unlike most little goat boys, they got right with the program: hit the ground, shake it off, stand up, head for the milk bar, fill stomach, go to sleep. All in the space of about ten minutes, which is longer than it takes most of the little boys to just shake it off.

Downstream from Devil's Head

We are not really downstream from Devil's Head, we are upstream. But sometimes you can be downstream without being downstream. And even without any stream.

Devil's Head is at the very southern tip of our little Key Peninsula, which is gradually growing less and less rural. The Key Peninsula is a very beautiful and largely unknown peninsula, full of little bays and coves, and until recently very heavily wooded.

Take for example Devil's Head, which was pristine forest and timberland until the real estate prices soared and developers started moving in. The zoning around here is very whimsical - one set of zoning laws for the regular people, and another set for the rich people.

Devil's Head was always zoned timberland, until a developer bought it and lobbied for the zoning to be changed. The developer had a lot of money, as you might imagine. And the zoning changed, very quickly and very quietly. Imagine the county's secret delight: instead of hundreds of acres of trees, taxed at a rate equal to be about 10% of the rate of the regular residential rate, they soon will have dozens of tax-paying waterfront estates, each valued, no doubt, at a million dollars or more.

With that stroke of the pen, logging crews moved in and clearcut 400 acres for the future waterfront homes of the future soon-to-be-moving-here rich people.

Well, you can cry about that all you want, but I guess it is the way of the world. What can one goat really do. Rich people have to live somewhere.

But so do coyotes. And when they clearcut that 400 acres of Douglas fir forest, one of the last big chunks of woodland around here, all those coyotes had to go somewhere. And where do you think they went?

Downstream. Which, in this case, is upstream.

At night we used to occasionally hear two or three coyotes howling, four or five if it was a big night. And many nights we heard nothing.

Now we hear dozens, and not just at night. They are creeping ever closer to the back pasture: during the big freeze they trotted boldly about during the day, drinking from the creek at the back of our fenceline. Yesterday our neighbor ran outside in the middle of the afternoon, getting two shots off at a pair of coyotes in the back pasture.

We don't like killing wild animals. But we don't like them killing us, either. And it's too bad we have to do it.

After all they used to have a nice waterfront home.

But that's life, downstream from the rich people.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Almost Time...

Usually the kidding season starts around Valentine's Day here. But this year we are not scheduled to start until February 23, which in case you didn't know is this Friday. Right now there are three very big girls in the pre-kidding shed. Eo is first in line, then April, then Peaches.

In case you are wondering how often things go according to the schedule here, the answer is not never. But pretty close to it.

Anyway, here is a picture of Eo and her pal Spenny, back in the days when she was a bottle baby and stood around the woodstove in her pull-ups. Eo liked living in the house but she likes outdoor living better.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Transfer Requested

In this photo, drill team captain Breezy respectfully asks the farmer if Wendell could be reassigned to another drill team, possibly a horse team or even a cat team. Any other team.

Drill Team Dropout

In this photo, Breezy tries to explain to Wendell how the goat drill team is supposed to work.

Wrong Way Wendell

In this photo everyone enjoys a formation frolic in the back pasture. Except Wendell, who has to run in the wrong direction.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Lambs, lambs, lambs

Well obviously baby sheep are not as cute as baby goats. But these come pretty close...

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Brandy's Big Baby Part Two: R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Everybody wants it. But not everybody wants to earn it. It is a lot of trouble earning respect. Unfortunately there is no other way to get it.


Take for example the case of my daughter Hannah Belle and the farmer. Hannah Belle likes the farmer, but she knows all too well how to act cute and apologetic whenever she gets caught doing something bad, so she gets away with quite a bit of dubious behavior. For example, almost every morning now Hannah Belle jumps over the five-and-a-half-foot wall of her stall as soon as she hears the farmer come out. Hannah Belle is a tad tubby, and she is on a diet, so she is not supposed to get grain. So the farmer doesn't give her any grain.

But she knows the farmer has grain, so she just jumps out and follows the farmer around trying to freeload cob or whatever is on the menu for the nsf (not-so-fat) goats. She nibbles and grabs and snatches here and there until the farmer gets annoyed and puts her back in her stall.

This performance may be repeated several times a day, depending on how energetic Hannah Belle is feeling. Each time she weaves and bobs and pilfers until the farmer gets aggravated, then she gets put back in her stall.

But since yesterday, the farmer has been letting Brandy out during feeding. Brandy thinks the farmer is her baby, and likes to follow the farmer around.

Well yesterday Hannah Belle jumped out of her stall as usual and ran up to the farmer. When she saw Brandy, who turned toward her in slow motion like a bull in the ring, she did a cartoon-character doubletake and put on the brakes in a hurry. She went into a 4-wheel roadrunner skid, but too late to keep from jostling the farmer.

Everyone was watching, and you could hear a pin drop.

Hannah Belle had touched Brandy's baby.

You probably know what happened then. Brandy first grabbed Hannah Belle's ear and bit down hard, then spun her in a half-turn and t-boned her into the wall, then grabbed the other ear and bit down hard, which caused Hannah Belle to turn around in the opposite direction. Brandy t-boned her other side, then took a step backward in preparation for a third t-boning, but Hannah Belle scurried around to the opposite side of the farmer, waving the white flag.

She politely averted her eyes from Brandy to show that everything that had happened was a misunderstanding, and that she would never disrespect Brandy's baby in any way, she would rather stick a fork in her eye, and she moved in shadow step with the farmer to her stall door and then gave the farmer the high sign, "let me in, quick!"

And that is where she has stayed since, as long as Brandy is following the farmer around.

The moral of the story is that if your mama is the herdqueen, you don't have to earn nothing. Even in the animal kingdom, there is such a thing as a silver spoon. And right now, the farmer is really enjoying the view from the top.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Feeling Sheepish

Whew, close call this morning. Atty was chasing a crow off the property - he does not allow crows to land in the pasture - and he ran full speed into the farmer, because he was looking up in the sky instead of where he was going. Well that would have been fine because he just brushed the farmer and didn't do any harm, except Brandy was standing right next to the farmer, since she thinks the farmer is her baby and follows the farmer everywhere, murmuring encouragement. I think she is concerned that the farmer is a special needs baby, so she monitors the farmer very closely.

"Look at you, " she walks along behind the farmer saying, "you are walking all by yourself! And they say you are big and clumsy! How absurd! Keep going, that's it!"

Anyway, Brandy was infuriated when Atty brushed the farmer, and she immediately t-boned him. Now, Atty is usually very tolerant of us goats as long as he is being obeyed, but a full-on t-boning is not on his list of acceptable behaviors, and he turned right around growling and tried to grab Brandy. But luckily the farmer was right there.

So the farmer was able to grab Brandy and restrain her because who knows what she might have done. Hell hath no fury like Brandy when someone messes with one of her babies.

Anyway, if you are tired of reading about goats you can go to the farmer's sister's web site. The farmer's sister is also a farmer, and she works on a beautiful sheep dairy in Tennessee. The lambs have started arriving and there are pictures of the first ones and of the cheese. If you are interested in that type of thing. They do have a few goats, so it isn't a complete waste of time.

The Farmer's Sister's Sheep and Cheese Blog.