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.