Thursday, May 31, 2007

Big Orange No More

I received many excellent suggestions for a name for Big Orange. Well, actually, I received many suggestions. Not that many excellent suggestions.

I received some suggestions which did not come from my blog, including Valencia, which isn't that bad (at least it's an orange). From my blog I considered a number of suggestions which were intriguing but not quite right, including Pretty Mogaryround, SunXist, BLOG, and Agent Orange.

In the end I chose Xanthoria Elegans for several reasons, listed below in no particular order.

1. It starts with an X.

2. It is an orange star lichen, and Big Orange's mother's name (on the papers, anyway) is Stacy's Starlight. Also, Big Orange is mostly bred on the awesome Lucky Star lines, a famous LaMancha herd out of Port Angeles.

3. There will not be a bunch of other goats in her kindergarten class with the same name.

4. She seems to like it. She doesn't run off when the farmer yells it out, anyway.

5. Lichen can survive where nothing else can. This will come in handy.

So thank you to the person who suggested Xanthoria.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

She Ain't Heavy

Well, there was a ruckus this afternoon. I laughed when I saw it.

The first fresheners in the down-below shack pasture are allowed to go out during the day and eat brush outside the back gate. The first fresheners are Betsy, Wronny, Cammy, Mabel, Peaches, and Mel. Well, Peaches is a second freshener, but for some reason she has it figured out where she gets to stay with the first fresheners. I don't know why. Peaches is always working some kind of angle.

The farmer came out to feed in the afternoon. And everything went okay feeding the horses. Everything went okay feeding Penrose and Hannah Belle and the babies in the barn. Everything went okay putting hay out for the big milkers.

And then all of a sudden the air was filled with a high-pitched screaming. The farmer looked all around and could not figure out where that screaming was coming from. It sounded like far away next door, but the farmer couldn't see anything. The farmer ran all around and climbed the rusty barbed wire fence around the neighbor's pasture to see better. There was a Nubian-esque quality to the screaming, I have to admit, even though all the purebred Nubians were present and accounted for and not doing anything besides their usual sighing and groaning.

After the farmer's pants got ripped on the fence there were a few choice words flung about, and then the farmer disappeared from sight, looking inside the neighbor's falling-down shack. Apparently the farmer did not find anything there because the farmer soon reappeared, to the tune of more high-pitched Nubianesque screaming.

Well along about then Wronny and Xie Xie hove into sight, a way far off behind the blackberry bushes in the neighbor's pasture. They were about a half-mile away from where they started, and they were quite a little bit worse for the wear.

Both of them were hot as the dickens and terribly lost; somehow they had gotten on the wrong side of the fence and they couldn't get back. Their mouths were hanging open and they looked like shipwreck victims.

Wronny is a little classic black-and-tan LaMancha yearling milker and Xie Xie is Betsy's little black daughter, and being a quarter Nubian Xie Xie was the source of the high-pitched screaming. She was in a state of panic. She was yelling for her mother nonstop when she wasn't busy panting her head off. Betsy, being half Nubian, was about a half a mile away, in the pasture she was supposed to be in, chewing her cud and daydreaming about corn chips, and not even raising an eyebrow as little Xie Xie screamed her lungs out.

Well, there were a few more choice words as the farmer scrambled around near Wronny and Xie Xie to try to lead them to the fence so that they could go back out and around to where they were supposed to be. The pants were further ripped and some festive red scratches acquired.

Wronny followed the farmer, and little Xie Xie followed Wronny for about twenty steps, then had a brain attack and raced back into the blackberry briars, which for some reason seemed to her the one and only place from which her Nubian 911 call could be transmitted. She resumed her screaming.

The farmer kept going, then realized Wronny had turned around. The farmer had to go back. Again the same thing was attempted, with the same result. And again. Wronny would not leave little Xie Xie.

Finally the farmer had to go and crawl into the blackberry patch and burrow down through the old burned-down-barn foundation to the spot where there is a gap between the barbed wire and the dry doe pasture.

And finally the two were returned to their rightful home, hot and sweaty and still in a state of near panic, and the farmer patted Wronny on the back and said, "well, you are a good mama, you wouldn't leave your baby."

And then the farmer did a doubletake and realized: Xie Xie may look like a little black LaMancha, but she is not Wronny's daughter. But Wronny wouldn't leave her behind.

Go Figure.

Complaint Dept.

There have been some complaints that my blog has not had enough pictures and posts lately, as if I have nothing else to do. For those who may not know it, the grass tastes very good this year and it does not eat itself. The same goes for the blackberries and the hardhack. If you think it is easy eating blackberry bushes, why don't you go out in your yard and give it a try.

Anyway, today will be a catchup picture day to address the concerns of the complainers, and later in the day we will also address, once and for all, the matter of Big Orange. Yes, Big Orange will finally have a name of her own, chosen from reader submissions. But we are getting ahead of ourselves. First there is the matter of Aggie's new babies, two micro-Nubians with batwing ears. Their names are Petey (for Peter) and Vel (for Velveteen) because they both look like bunny rabbits. They are pictured above.

Ask Penrose

Penrose, the farmer's favorite Toggenburg, comes from a long long line of Swiss philosophers. As you can probably tell from this photo, Penrose will give almost any question thoughtful consideration and an enlightened reply.

In fact, through her practice of pure dairy goodness, Penrose has achieved a higher state of consciousness from which she only descends when she tries her best to t-bone that god-a-mighty pest, Wendell.

Each day when she sees him, Penrose sends Wendell a telepathic message: "thank you for helping me grow, my little teacher." And then she tries to kill him.

If not for Wendell, Penrose would probably be the Buddha.

The F-150s

One set of baby goats used the old farm truck as their baby stall this year. They were called the F-150s. In this picture, Sammy and Leo, two of the F-150s, wait patiently for their breakfast service.

The Problem With Baby Goats... that they are so unfriendly and standoffish. You cannot get them to pay any attention to you. It's too bad.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Adventures in Babysitting

Our protector Atty is considered a very fearsome dog by people who do not know him. That is because he is about as big as a Volkswagen.

Here you can see how terribly frightened all the goat kids are of him.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Aggie's Boys

Agnes, aka Aggie Baggy, did very well in her first kidding, except for the timing. The farmer has posted a schedule of acceptable kidding times which is quite lenient. Any time between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. is fine. Aggie apparently did not read this because she didn't have her twin sons until 1:30 a.m. this morning.

And of course being bucks and being part Nubian, they did not quite get going strong until about 2:30.

So that is clearly an infraction, and I would recommend withholding cookies from Aggie for several days so that the next time she will know better. I will eat them so they do not go to waste. Just a suggestion.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Long Dark Night of the Mini-Nubians

The long dark night of the mini-Nubians is about to begin. Aggie the mini-Nubian, Boo's unexpectedly normal daughter, is in the red zone. Some time soon, very soon we hope, she will deliver the first and last mini-Nubian kids of the year.

Stay tuned...

The Horses In Your Head

I have been upgraded from the shed to the big barn as befits a goat of my stature. This is because I have the sweetest milk and I am now the farmer's personal milker and the farmer will not make a latte unless it is made from Baby Belle milk. (That's me, Baby Belle.)

I do feel sorry for the other goats, but that's the way it goes. The cream rises to the top. See you later, suckers.

On another note Willen the yellow pony is about to begin his driving training again. He has a new cart purchased from the Small Farmer's Journal spring auction and a new harness. This harness is so pretty I almost think I would consider pulling a cart if I were allowed to wear it. Almost, but not quite.

These items were purchased by the farmer's friend down the road who knows how to buy things, especially horse things, and when to buy them and how much to pay for them. That may sound like something anybody can do, but believe me it is not.

In any case the farmer's friend is a horse nut and knows everything about horses. She is over sixty and still breaks all the young horses at her farm. When she comes out into the field all the horses move their butts away from her to show respect.

Horses are like the Mafia. They have all kinds of marks of respect. Moving the butts away when she comes by is one of them. It is to show that they would never consider kicking her. Some of the baby horses think they don't have to move their butts, but they learn different in a big hurry. So if you ever want to see a horse butt ballet you can watch the farmer's friend walk through the horse pasture. And if any of the butts don't move, then you will see a very interesting lesson in horse manners.

When the farmer's friend was a little girl she didn't have any horses and dreamed of them all the time. Her father told her that "if all the horses in your head stampeded, you couldn't see for the dust."

And now she has all the horses she could want. So you see if you just hold on to your dreams they will come true.

So take some advice from me, Baby Belle, and please remember the horses in your head.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Looking For Trouble

Tux, Top Hat, and Turkish Delight, Mel's trouble-seeking triplets (aka the three little priests), are almost but not quite too fat to squeeze under the down-below pasture gate. Here they pop out the other side of the wardrobe into Narnia, where they will march toward the barn to see if the door to the grain room has been left open.

Onward, fellow triplets! If we cannot find any trouble, we will make it from scratch!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Nameless in (or near) Seattle

It happens every year and this year it is the sad case of Betsy's big orange daughter. I don't particularly care for a big orange goat but everyone else says how pretty she is.

Betsy is half Nubian and half LaMancha, and she was bred to a beautiful LaMancha buck up the road. She had two very pretty daughters, a little black one and a big orange one, as I already mentioned. So the two daughters are three quarters LaMancha.

The big orange one (B.O.) has a LaMancha body, for the most part, but a Nubian brain, which I think is sad. She will likely be taken advantage of by telemarketers in the future; I foresee her wiring her life savings to Nigeria in response to a spam email about a large estate and the need for a much esteemed American goat partner. But oh well, we can't all be Mensa caprines.

Anyway, B.O. has had a string of names but none of them stuck. First she was called Clementine (for that cute little orange that comes from California). This is an okay name, but it did not take. Then she was called Cointreau (for the orange liqueur), but a goat like B.O. with a fancy French name was just not the ticket. Then she was called Mandarin Orange, which is an awful name and besides that it doesn't fit on the papers.

However, while she was called Mandarin Orange, her little black sister who was also not sticking to any of her names acquired the name Xie Xie, which is Mandarin for "thank you," (pronounced Shea Shea, like the Stadium). And that name has stuck, unlike Mandarin Orange. So Shea is now called Shea, instead of "the little black one," which seems like an improvement, albeit probably a modest one.

Anyway, back to B.O. Next she was called Red Ryder, after some kind of comic strip no living creature recalls. Then, in an acknowledgement of defeat, she was simply called Red, or Big Red, which isn't any more dignified than B.O.

So please help, before it is too late. She cannot go to the fair without a name. It's too disgraceful. And considering the size of her brain, it is going to take a long time for her to learn her name, whatever it is, so the sooner the better.

To review: she is big, she is orange, she is pretty, she is the daughter of Betsy (aka Stacy's Starlight). She needs a dignified name. If there is an X in it somewhere (this is an X year) so much the better, but to tell the truth we really don't care about that any more.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Perfectly Obvious Rules for Farm Living

Here are a few perhaps somewhat useful farm rules, regulations, ideas, notions, suggestions, and aphorisms, most in the category of perfectly obvious. These are things that we learned, or proved, or recognized, or attempted to implement, or perhaps even actually implemented over the last year.

1. Pay Attention
2. Be Careful
3. Fix It Yourself
4. Pinkeye is very contagious
5. A Leader Leads
6. Harmony is better than tyranny
7. Tyranny is better than chaos
8. If a horse steps on your foot, it is always your fault (see #1 and #2 above)
9. Goats do not give good haircuts
10. The hay will not walk into the barn
11. Remember why you are doing that
12. This is today. (or, as Mike Ditka says, "the past is for cowards.")

Monday, May 07, 2007

April the First

Herron Hill's April the First collapsed and died last night. We cannot even really say what she meant to us.

She was April the First, April the Last, April the Only.

She was the first baby goat born on the farm. She was the first goat with the farm herdname. Her picture was on all of our cards and on our web site. She was a true April Fool, the sweetest most ornery goat in the world, smart as a whip and crazy as a bedbug.

She was born in the farmer's arms on April 1, 2001, at 9 o'clock on a beautiful spring night. She died in the farmer's arms at 9 o'clock last night, May 6, 2007.

We know we will have to say goodbye to her soon. But right now we can't.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Milkhouse Design Competition

If you can actually see it, please look closely at the photo at left. This is an artist's rendering of the milkhouse remodel to the barn. We are remodeling our barn to put the milkhouse in our shed wing. As you may have surmised, this artist's rendering wasn't rendered by an artist, which makes it quite a bit less artistic. And the milkhouse itself wasn't designed by a designer.

But don't worry, that's where you come in.

Please submit your design ideas and suggestions to flesh out this barebones drawing. Where should the doors go? How many should there be? Windows? Refrigerators, vats, shelves, etc?

Remember these constraints: the space is 10 x 40, and must be divided into three rooms. There must be a milk parlor (10 x 10)- the space where the goats are actually milked - and there must be a milkhouse (10 x 10)- a separate space for storing and cooling the milk. The milkhouse, as much as possible, should be a dead end rather than an area people pass through on the way to somewhere else, so as to minimize opportunities for contamination.

There must also be a cheese room (10 x 20), even though it might not be finished right away.

The cheese room must be big enough to make cheese. i.e., there must be room for a vat, a large refrigerator, a cheese press, a make table and draining table, mold storage etc. And of course there must be a door for the cheesemaker to slam when she quits in disgust.

Goat flow must be one-way (goats cannot go out the same door they came in; if you met our friend Boo the Nubian you would know why) and the very limited floor space must be laid out in such a way as to minimize insanity.

Ok, that's all, send your designs in. You can do it.