Thursday, November 20, 2008

Song For a Rainy Day

This is Blue's song.

Song for a rainy day in a rainy week in a rainy month in a rainy season in a rainy part of the world.

If Blue has a daughter this year we are going to call her - guess what - Rainy Day.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Word to the White House

Let me just state for the record, if there is one, that I have no objection to dogs in general. As a species, they are fine. Atticus for example is a good dog. He protects us. Just last week he bit an Intruder Dog on the hiney when it thought it would dig its way under the fence into our pasture.

My favorite part was that the hapless I.D. hardly knew what hit it. All it saw was a big white blur and then it started yelping and scratching until it wiggled its way back out, bursting its buttons in its hurry to leave.

"And don't come back," I yelled after it. Sucker.

Wendell on the other hand is a pest, that's why we call him Wendell the Pest. And Atticus doesn't do anything about him, either, just let's him run around yipping and nibbling people's heels while he pretends to be a border collie.

For a while I would yell and try to summon Atticus with theatrical performances but he could tell that Wendell wasn't really hurting anyone, so he just lifted one eyebrow and then went back to sleep.

So I have made the decision to rise above Wendell, and so has the rest of my family. We simply ignore him, or sometimes we say, "You are an absurd individual," or clever and cutting remarks like that, which of course he doesn't understand.

Penrose and Winnie cannot rise above him, and they often get very blue in the face trying to t-bone him as he circles gaily around them like a little mosquito.

Oh well.

My point is that dogs can be a pain, and I don't think anyone would deny this, and that is why I was surprised to learn that the new President is planning to get a dog for his daughters.

This is ridiculous. There have already been way too many dogs in the White House.

Abraham Lincoln and all the sophisticated presidents have had goats at the White House. I submit to you this photo of the resident goat, "His Whiskers," from the Harrison White House.

President Lincoln would spend hours watching his goats frolic on the lawn. President Harrison was famous for chasing His Whiskers down Pennsylvania Avenue one day when His Whiskers thought he would venture out for a stroll. His Whiskers is said to have been the inspiration for the "Billy Whiskers" books, one of the most popular children's series ever written.

I think it's about time we returned to our rightful place as First Pets. Little Tad Lincoln even let his goats sleep on the bed. Beds are quite comfy, I know that from my own early experience as a house goat.

Anyway, I think "Change We Can Believe In" should mean "GOATS IN THE WHITE HOUSE."

I plan to do something about it. But what?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Fat Update

There was a mistake on the previous reporting of Blue Umbrella's milk test. Actually, there were two mistakes. The first mistake was that Blue had 7% protein and that that was the highest in the herd. The farmer was in a rush and didn't read the report correctly. The highest butterfat was Xie Xie the yearling milker who had 7.6% compared to Blue. Only that was also a mistake, so there were three mistakes, because Blue did not have 7% butterfat, she had 7% protein. Blue had 13.77% butterfat.

That is correct, 13.77%. Nice try, Xie Xie.

This Just In: The Rain Stopped Falling. Large Round Ball Sighted Briefly in Sky.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Eyes Have It

It is okay to have interesting problems, but sometimes when you are making cheese the problems get way too interesting. In this case, we blame the pea hay.

The farmer made three different batches of cheese, from three different batches of milk, on three different days. Everything looked nice. The cheeses were aged for a while. The farmer went to taste the cheeses. On the outside, fine. On the inside, a surprise. Eyes. More eyes than an elderly potato.

The farmer tasted the cheeses. They all tasted nice, but they all tasted like swiss cheese. Because they were. Because propionic acid bacteria, the culture that gives swiss cheese its eyes and some of its characteristic flavor, had apparently somehow invaded them. That's right, p. shermanii, aka Propionibacterium freudenreichii subsp. shermanii.


Well, how did that happen? We don't have any p. shermanii here since we don't make swiss cheese, since you can't sell swiss cheese at the Farmer's Market, that would be like trying to sell organic Velveeta. A posse of angry epicureans would be on your tail in a heartbeat. They would put on their Neal's Yard Dairy t-shirts and their Herve Mons baseball caps and run you right out of town.

The farmer went to a dark secret corner of the Internet where the cheesebrains (different from cheeseheads) lurk and on bended knee asked the oracles what might be causing the p. shermanii invasion.

First there was silence on the other end, then hypotheses started coming in. It turns out that this is the time of year that the wild propionics begin to emerge, as the animals move onto their winter feed. Some feeds make a better home for the wild propionics, and it turns out that pea hay is much more hospitable to p. shermanii than alfalfa.

Usually we eat alfalfa, but this year we're eating pea hay. It's delicious, I can see why the wild props like to live in it.

Anyway, that seemed to solve the mystery, but not the problem.

The farmer was talking to another much better and smarter cheesemaker and bemoaning the accidental swiss cheese. Who wants to buy farmstead swiss cheese? Swiss cheese comes in sandwich slices in a plastic bag, swinging from the supermarket hooks.

The smart cheesemaker tut-tutted kindly. "Don't be silly. People love swiss cheese. You just can't call it swiss cheese. You have to call it Gruyere."

Ah, of course, Gruyere.

Or as they say at Microsoft - that's not a bug, that's a feature.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Rain Keeps....Etc

I can't read but sometimes I feel like I can. Like this morning the farmer came into the barn in a dripping wet 'waterproof' jacket and said, "guess what, everybody, today in the newspaper it says that the rain will keep falling."

Apparently the exact headline in the newspaper was: "Rain Keeps Falling."

I felt like I knew that already. That's why I was standing inside, as a matter of fact. Because outside the rain was falling, and falling in such a way that it appeared to me, illiterate as I am, that it intended to keep falling.

"Rain Keeps Falling" is not that good of a headline, in my opinion. Not around here, anyway.

"Rain Stops Falling" is something you could put in the paper, right on Page One.

Anyway the two Nigerian bucks, Marquee and CJ, came up to the big barn today because their buck shed, which is halfway down the hill toward Lost Beaver Lake, had been transformed into a mudbath.

They were very pleased and made fools of themselves. Their manly aroma filled the air. Almost to bursting.

"What is that wonderful smell?" Boo asked me.

Oh great, I thought. Soon enough she started in moaning and sighing and all but waving a hanky at Marquee.

"Yoo hoo," she warbled, in Nubian.

Oh great, I thought.

I wished I could go outside.

But Rain, for those who can read, Keeps Falling.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Tomorrow Is Coming!

"I am doing an optimistic collection, because things are going badly."

-- Coco Chanel

Well, here we are on the first Monday in November, on the doorstep of winter, and the endless gray rains have started, the economy is in ruins, the mud is already ankle-deep, the farm dog died, the pox lives on, the leaves turned, the cheese in the cheese room got invaded by wild props (more on that later), the furnace broke down, the roof started leaking, and Viceroy the Lamancha buck somehow broke out of his pen and went on an unseemly rampage of goat passion, the details of which are far too frank for the tender ears of the general public.

The creek, you can bet on it, will almost certainly rise.

And how does that make me feel?


Come on, tomorrow!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Pox, The Loaves, The Fishes, The Fat Girls

I do not like to complain but we have had a tough row to hoe lately, what with the goat pox, which eventually spread almost everywhere and struck down almost everyone, including me (how unfair!) and most of my Nigerian relatives.

Most of us really couldn't care too much about it except it is kind of a pain. The Nubians didn't notice it, I don't think, and the LaManchas only had very mild cases. But a few of the goats were miserable, including Cammy who had a nasty pox blister right under her eye, but especially all of the Toggs and Togg crosses.

For some reason they were hit very hard. Penrose was miserable and got lots of sympathy until her daughter Lucy got the pox, then she was shunted aside because Lucy had the worst case of all, much worse than Penrose. But even Eo was under the weather.

The only ones who didn't get it were the fat girls. The fat girls have their own separate shed where they are served a complete bread and water diet. Just kidding about that, they don't get any bread. It is a maximum security facility with no outside contact or grain-smuggling visitors, and that's why it remained pox-free. They just get little dry twigs of grass hay, like something you would throw in the bottom of a hamster cage. Every day they stare at the feeder in disbelief - is this a joke?

Then they gobble the dry sticks like mad, like the old Catskill Mountains vaudeville routine - the food here is so terrible! And such small portions! If it is their birthday they get a leaf of chard as a special treat. You think that is a joke but food is so scarce in there that they fight over the chard when they see it coming. The ground shakes, believe me. If you have never seen a chard riot, it is really something.

The fat girls are Breezy, Tubster, and Snow Pea. Not to say there aren't other fat girls, but these three are the ones who have gone beyond the pale. Tubster in particular from a very young age has been remarkably spherical. No amount of dieting reduces her; somehow she is able to skip the step of digesting and gain weight just by thinking about food. It is kind of a miracle, like the loaves and fishes, only in reverse.

Or something like that.

Anyway, now that we are starting to come out of the end of the pox tunnel, everyone looks a little brighter. I don't want to jinx anything but still - STILL - there are three goats who have never gotten the pox, in spite of living right at the center of the outbreak. Two of them are mother and daughter. The other is probably just too dumb to catch anything. I won't say who they are, but you probably know.

Don't worry, unless I decide to do another one, this will be my last post on the tiresome subject of the pox.