Friday, May 30, 2008

Curiouser and Curiouser, or The Queen is Dead, Long Live the Queen

Winnie was dethroned from her top milker position the day before yesterday by the unlikeliest contender, Boo. And today Boo was dethroned from her brief, triumphant reign as top milker by the next unlikeliest contender, Scouty.

Scouty continues to climb back up the milk chart, against all odds. You see Scouty kidded a set of the greediest quadruplets you have ever seen back in February. She was hemorrhaging milk from every orifice to feed these little monsters, and each one of them was plumper than the last. They all had big milk goiters, and they were all fat as ticks.

The farmer guesses that she was milking about 16 pounds a day, which is roughly two gallons, and that's a lot of milk. She lost about twenty pounds the first month, in spite of the fact that she ate almost constantly.

Anyway, something very unfortunate happened: the greedy little quadruplets drank so much that they injured Scouty's teats. After that she wouldn't let them nurse any more, her teats were so sore, and the farmer had to milk out just enough to take the pressure off and keep her comfortable. So for a week she was milked by hand several times a day, but only the bare minimum, and the farmer had to massage bag balm into her udder three or four times a day. And miraculously - thank you, Dr. Naylor - she healed in about a week.

But by then her production had dropped way down. And shortly after that, all her quadruplets went to their new homes, and she dropped into a groove of milking 8 or 9 pounds a day. Which isn't bad by any means, it's just not going to get you to the World Series of milk.

But Scouty is feeling fine now on the lush spring grass, and slowly slowly she comes creeping up the milk chart: 9 pounds, then 9.5, 9.7, 9.9. And today she got back up over 11 with a very respectable 11.2, beating Winnie by almost half a pound.

So the Queen is Dead. Long live the Queen. The Nubian Queen. Who knew.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Breaking News: Dark Horse Wins Cookie

Well, now that all the big milkers are on milk test the farmer has gotten a little obsessive and weighs all the milk twice a day every day - not just on test day - and then congratulates the top milker, which is a little monotonous, because it means every day that the farmer says, "Congratulations, Winnie, once again you are the top milker."

The only variety will be: "Congratulations, Winnie, today you milked 14 pounds." Or, "Congratulations, Winnie, today you milked 13 pounds," or "Congratulations, Winnie, today you milked twelve pounds."

Then Winnie the ayatollah gets an extra cookie and goes flouncing back out among the general population and t-bones anyone who happens to be standing there, unless it is Brandy or Wronny both of whom she is deathly afraid of, just to show that she is the top milker and expects to be treated like the Queen of Sheba.

This has been going on for weeks in a tediously repetitive fashion except for the week where Wronny pulled neck and neck with Winnie but then dropped back at the finish line ending up four tenths of a pound behind.

But now we have gotten to the point where Winnie has already been milking for several months, and she finally dropped under eleven pounds a couple of times, especially during the week when we had the most awful stemmy alfalfa that she wouldn't eat, although she was still the leader. It had gotten to be quite a bore, no one was even one iota interested in it, especially not Boo, who has never milked worth a darn in spite of being the biggest goat here if not the brightest.

Anyway the farmer harbored only low hopes for Boo, especially since she had twins this year when we all thought she would have quadruplets. But the line Boo comes from is known to be slow maturing - if in fact they ever do mature - and yesterday the most astonishing thing happened.

Boo only kidded about a month ago and even though she only milked about five pounds when she first freshened, since then she has been creeping up up up the milk chart. And yesterday when the congratulatory cookies were handed out, Winnie had to stand there with her mouth open and a look of horror, because the farmer came to the gate and said, "Congratulations, Boo, you are the top milker today with 10.7 pounds, here is your cookie."

Boo heard all this like everybody else, but only understood two words: "Boo" and "Cookie."

But sometimes two words is all you need to understand.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Walking the Walk (And Trotting the Trot)

Well I notice lately there are a lot of people talking about the carbon footprint, which used to be one of Wrusty's favorite topics before he got his cojones removed. Now he mostly looks for pretty flowers to eat. Anyway, a lot of people talk about reducing their carbon footprint, and how they bought a Prius and they don't care how much it cost because what really matters to them is saving the environment, and they plant lettuce and chives in a post-consumer pot on their windowsill, and they compost their eggshells and espresso grounds, and on weekends they save the world and so on, and they cluck their tongues at the poor shmos driving around in old gassy farm trucks, like anybody wants to drive a car that gets 8 miles to the gallon, but anyway there you are.

And then you get a postcard from them and they are in Brazil on vacation and of course they got there by burning a bazillion gallons of jet fuel. Or they decide to take a job selling solar panels all along the West Coast and their frequent flier miles go through the roof. Even Al Gore preaches his inconvenient truth gospel from a first class seat; he has circled the equator more times than anyone would care to count in service of urging people not to use up so much fossil fuel.

So there is plenty of talking but there is not a lot of walking. We only know one individual who totally eschews fossil fuels. Why yesterday he even humbly begged not to be loaded into a trailer because it was going to be pulled by a fossil-fuel-burning truck.

"No, no thank you," he politely declined. "I would much prefer to walk. Or perhaps I could just stay home."

And that is why we are nominating Willen to be the Greeny of the Year. He is a true and humble Greeny. You will never get a postcard from him in the Canary Islands. If he goes down the road, he will walk one footstep at a time. And if he is in a hurry, he will trot. And if you have some carrots, he may even let you hitch a ride in his zero emission Pioneer forecart.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Pot o' News

I showed a picture of Rocky but forget to mention that he got born. Rocky is my daughter Blue Umbrella's son. He is a doll.

His mother has broken with the family tradition of laissez faire parenting developed by me and refined to perfection by my daughter Hannah Belle. Blue follows Rocky everywhere, bleating and squeaking in consternation if he gets more than three feet away from her. Luckily it isn't stifling him - he goes where he pleases.

Also, Xie Xie's kids got born and since they are almost the last of the big babies, they got the worst names because the farmer runs out and just uses any name that comes to hand "until we think of something better." So their names are Buddy and Binky. Often good names don't stick but the bad names almost always do.

Betsy's babies are due any day and I truly feel sorry for them, their names will almost certainly be Billy and Nanny. Whether or not they are a boy and girl. There ought to be a law.

Speaking of crimes against goats, I was shocked to see this video.

I thought it was bad enough here when they tried to make me carry a pack on the trail.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Wind From the West

Well yesterday it was hot, way too hot. We could tell it was too hot because all of the fat ponies crowded into their shed for shade. They drank two bathtubs full of water between them. Also we could tell it was too hot because Aggie and Xtra Joy were panting with their tongues hanging out. When it gets too hot too fast sometimes their brains shrink and they forget how to drink water. It's sad.

The farmer came down and yelled at them: "Drink some water!"

This didn't make them any smarter so they got sprayed with the hose, which seemed to awaken one or two brain cells.

Anyway it was hot, way too hot, and that was because the wind had turned around and came from the East. The farmer hates the wind from the East. It brings the hot air from Eastern Washington, and sometimes it brings wicked storms and sometimes when the wind is from the East it will all of a sudden stop blowing and then there is an eerie dead calm in the air like the end of the world and the farmer hates that. When we had our big earthquake a few years ago there was a little wind from the East and then it stopped and it almost seemed like Time had stopped with it.

And sometimes the East Wind vacuums up the awful California weather, and that is what happened this time. Anyway, it's an ill wind, and the only good it brings is that it makes the grass grow.

So all day the farmer was grumpy and looking at the things that needed to be done on such a sunny day but really how could they be done when it was so hot.

And then around 7 the wind turned around and began to blow from the West. The blessed blessed delicious wind from the West, our wind, and the marine layer came back and settled over our little valley, and Xtra Joy and Aggie were able to shut their pie-holes, and the horses came back out doubletime to catch up on the grass they had accidentally allowed to grow, and Time started up again.

Thank you, West Wind!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


My adorable grandson Rocky enjoys some fresh air.

Kids Cannot Live By Milk Alone

On Monday Xie Xie had her babies, a buckling and a doeling. Xie Xie is Big Orange's twin. They are Betsy's daughters. No one had ever seen any babies born in this family because they always came out so fast: Betsy had Big Orange and Xie Xie between two commercial breaks on American Idol.

And even though Big Orange was on a strict maternity watch, she had her babies when the farmer went to answer the phone. So Xie Xie was whisked into the kidding stall at the first cross-eyed look she gave the farmer, and the farmer sat down with a book.

Sure enough, before the farmer could finish reading even one chapter, out popped two kids. Both are kind of odd-looking, with curly hair, and little roan patches mixed with their Lamancha classic black-and-tan coloring. They are very good babies and they sleep all through the night, but yesterday the little girl got upset and cried off and on for hours even though she was full.

These babies are in a new puppy pen, about eight square feet, instead of the rubbermaid tubs the newborns usually go into for the first couple of days. They like it a lot better - they can walk around more, and they can see out.

But it is also easy to just feed them inside the pen, and so the farmer was just giving them their bottle without picking them up and taking them out.

Anyway the little girl started crying and didn't want a bottle and didn't settle down, and the dim-witted farmer said, "uh-oh, another angry baby, just like Tangy."

The little girl kept crying, sort of wistfully, and finally after a couple of hours the dim-witted farmer picked her up. She stopped crying immediately.

"Isn't that funny," the dim-witted farmer said, and put her back down. She started crying again. The farmer picked her up, and she stopped. The farmer cuddled her and petted her, and she immediately went to sleep.

"Oh, I see," the farmer finally said. Duh, I thought to myself.

Now the farmer makes sure to pick them up and cuddle them at feeding time. And they don't cry any more, unless they are hungry.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Stop Somewhere

Sometimes in life you will lose one of your dear friends. And then for a long time you will think of your friend and you will be filled with sadness.

But then a day will come when you think about your friend unexpectedly and you can't help but laugh.

Yesterday the farmer was angry when all the down-below girls, led by Hannah Belle, managed to get the pasture gate open and stampeded the big barn, skipping and hopping and raising Cain with the milkers.

A Sharks-and-Jets brawl broke out, with the big milkers taking offense at the mere presence of Nigerians and minis in their high-and-mighty midst. Eo (Mussolini) and Brandy (Tony Soprano) went head to head, and Breezy and Winnie paired off, and several others banged heads while Hannah Belle and I scouted the area thoroughly for unattended grain or alfalfa.

Well the farmer wasn't in a mood for it and so there was a lot of yelling and hollering and improbable threats and eventually the farmer got everyone back in except Mabel. Now Mabel is a Loony Tune - you can tell by the way her eyeballs spin counterclockwise when she gets what she thinks is an idea.

So everyone was back in except Mabel, who didn't really want to do anything or go anywhere, just wanted to be contrary. Mabel commenced head faking and putting spin moves on the farmer, acting squirrelly as all get out, even actually pretending she was interested in Wendell the pest, who was running a fifty foot circle around the whole production because he always likes to try to draw attention to himself and his foolish doggy activities.

"Look at me," his little bug-eyed expression said, "don't I look like a border collie? Isn't it clever what I'm doing?"

Mabel pretended to be interested, and turned a smaller circle inside Wendell's circle, but kept an eye on the farmer just to see what would happen, and if the farmer would keep trying to catch her.

But the farmer was fed up and said, "Fine, stay out here," and turned to go up to the barn.

Mabel was terribly disappointed and ran to catch up with the farmer, who wasn't looking at her any more, and by the time the farmer got to the upper gate, Mabel was right behind and stuck her nose in the farmer's pocket.

The farmer looked down at Mabel with surprise and all of a sudden started laughing and laughing in spite of having been in an utterly black mood. Anybody else would think the farmer was crazy, which is probably true, but I happen to know that this little trick was a maneuver patented by Crazy Mabel's crazy mother April, who could never be caught if you wanted to catch her, but who couldn't stand not to be caught if you were sincerely ignoring her.

The farmer patted Mabel a few times, still laughing, and then realized that it would be a good idea to put Mabel back in the down-below pasture since she had basically turned herself in, and reached out - yes, just a split second too late - to grab Mabel's collar.

Mabel went pronging and dancing and bucking away, turning sideways to the hill to make her leaps look crazier, and Wendell re-commenced his fifty foot circle which had been interrupted for a panting timeout, and the farmer started laughing again.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Winnie, Jr.

Winnie, Jr. gets her cast off today. We are keeping our fingers crossed that her broken leg will be mended when it comes out of all its grubby wrappings. Not that having a broken leg has stopped her from becoming king of the babies.

Scarborough Fairgoers

Well, here are some photos of Parsley and Sage, Boo's kids born last Thursday. I don't know, I guess they are kind of cute. We thought Rosemary and Thyme might also be aboard the SS Boo, but apparently there was just a lot of extra luggage in the hold. So only Parsley and Sage came down the gangplank in the end.