Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Day

Today is Leap Day and it feels like an ominous day.

Right now it is raining and snowing and the wind from the west is whipping the fir trees.

Normally we don't like to bother anybody, but please send your good thoughts to Hannah Belle. Hannah Belle is sick. Along with me and Jammies and Winnie and Pebbles and a few others she is the most beloved goat here.

She cannot be replaced, because there are no more where she came from, and there never will be.

Send good thoughts.

Monday, February 27, 2012

T Minus 5

The farmer is going to go ahead and start the kidding countdown because it is guesstimated that Betty and Hannah Belle will both kid on Saturday and the farmer is anxious for Hannah Belle's kids to come because Hannah Belle has grown even more incorrigible as she has gotten older and yesterday when she was supposed to be free-ranging in the barnyard she led an assault on the barn instead, freeing all the small and medium-size goats from the middle pasture so that they could join her in storming the alfalfa.

How she did it was by sashaying down the driveway then cramming her miniature battleship body under the bottom fence board near the gate, then sashaying up the pasture to where the middle pasture goats - normally a placid group - were dozing in the sun around the corner and then instigating them to follow her back down to the limbo hole.

"My fellow goats," she usually starts, "please join me in the barn won't you because there is free alfalfa for everybody, the nice kind not that stemmy rubbish. This way please and form a single line."

This of course was not directed at the bears of little brain (Nubian crosses) nor the tall goats (LaMancha), who can't fit under the bottom fenceboard.

Me, Blue, Rosie, Pebbles, Abby, Sandy, Jammies, Bumbles, Sky, and Bluejay all joined the limbo line and within a few  minutes the assault was complete. Using combined goat power we snapped the bungy holding the alfalfa gate closed and began feasting on the first bale we saw.

When the alfalfa was almost all gone Hannah Belle said, "thank you so much for coming, I appreciate your help, I must be going now," and she disappeared back into the middle pasture which ought to have been a tip-off and within a few minutes the farmer ran up hollering and making unveiled threats and we all scattered outside, some of us running for the limbo hole and some just running, and as we ran we saw Hannah Belle, perched at the top of the hill and chewing her cud thoughtfully, possibly ruminating about building her own Beowulf Cluster.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Problem of Iota

We are getting pretty close to kidding time and since it is so devilishly muddy it has been decided that Hannah Belle and Boxcar Betty will stay in the barn.

Actually they decided it themselves. When the farmer tried to turn them out - they are supposed to walk around during the day, not just sit around like two blimps in the Goodyear blimp dock -  they just turned back in.

Betty could have been turned out, but Hannah Belle goes where she wants to go. And when she gets there, she stays.

So Hannah Belle and Betty were turned out and then turned themselves back in and then the farmer made the mistake of going off to do something else and when the farmer came back Hannah Belle and Betty were apparently gone.

"I wonder where they went," the farmer thought, because they weren't anywhere in the barnyard, but the farmer is a little weak-minded and went off to do yet something else. When the farmer came back again Betty and Hannah Belle were back in the barn, attempting to break open the tack room door, which is what you would expect any time Hannah Belle is on free range. But it was padlocked so they were not getting anywhere.

By this time presumably they had gotten at least a little bit of exercise and the farmer put them back in their kidding stall and went upstairs to the hay loft to throw down some hay and then discovered where their previous journey had taken them, because there were telltale berries scattered among the new alfalfa bales which arrived on the weekend.

"Oh well," said the farmer, sweeping. But it would have been a good video, a scene of the two orcas navigating the steep, narrow staircase up to the loft. The video on the way down would have been even better, though probably somewhat harrowing, and the farmer made a mental note to close the hayloft door.

This mental note went off into the cloud with the rest of the farmer's mental notes - "fix gate," "buy 4 sheets of plywood," "try to understand Facebook," "take boxes to Goodwill"  etc - never to be seen again, because then the farmer began puzzling over the problem of Iota.

Iota is Betty's daughter and she is going to kid right after Betty and Hannah Belle but when the farmer tried to add her to the kidding stall Hannah Belle took serious offense and she had to be removed for fear of bodily harm.

"Hmm, Iota," puzzled the farmer, looking at Iota.

The farmer is highly superstitious and never says anything good about any of us for fear of causing a disaster. For example, right before Pebbles went to the fair, the farmer finally blurted "I do not expect her to come in last," which caused everyone to gasp, it was such high praise.

But anyway Iota is getting her first freshener udder and while as a kid she was never considered the prettiest, the farmer is now looking at her with a totally blank expression which can only mean one thing and sure enough this morning the farmer finally said, to Wendell who couldn't care less, " you know, she really doesn't look too bad." 

Everyone gasped.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Our Motto

If you have a farm it is good to have a farm motto. This is our motto, we have it framed. It is a good motto to remember at this time of year since kidding season is almost upon us. Whatever happens, just keep calm. And carry on.

Monday, February 20, 2012


There have been a lot of stories lately about how goats develop accents. Woop, big news flash, I could have told you that two years ago when Moldy moved here from Oregon and we could not understand a word she said except WAAA WAAA WAAA.

Wronny would say to her, "will you please be quiet please,"

And Moldy would say, as if she didn't know that Wronny is the herdqueen, "WAAA WAAA WAAA!"

Hannah Belle would say to her, "Do not make me ask you again to step away from the feeder. I am the boss of the Nigerians."

And Moldy would say, as if she thought this was a free love commune and she could just do as she pleased, "WAAA WAAA WAAA!"

I would say to her, "I hope you know I am Baby Belle Jr. and I will not put you in my blog until you speak properly like the rest of us are doing."

And Moldy would say "WAAA WAAA WAAA."

Eo and Penrose are from Southeast Washington and they could understand her a little bit but Eo would not interpret anything Moldy said so it was up to Penrose.

"She hasn't said anything worth mentioning," Eo would shrug bitterly.

"I think she is saying that it is nothing like Oregon here," Penrose would explain.

"She is saying that this is not how they do it in Oregon."

"She is saying in Oregon the food is better. And also the climate."

Etc etc etc. Then gradually Moldy managed to enunciate intelligibly. And now sometimes we even forget she is from Oregon, where I guess everyone feasts on third cutting alfalfa and bon bons so they can't speak properly.

Then Fred the baby buck moved here from Oregon.


Deja vu all over again.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Make Mine Milk

The die is cast. Yesterday Pebbles was bred to the devilishly handsome Tiny Giant, a milk-loving Mama's Boy. Here is his baby picture.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Birthday and BOF

Today is Valentine's Day and fyi I am still accepting small gifts of candy and pretzels and swedish fish and gingersnaps and so on. I have not stopped accepting gifts. Actually, they do not have to be small gifts. Large gifts are fine too.

Valentine's Day has always been a big day around here because it is not unusual for babies to be born on Valentine's Day.

Valentine's Day is Cora Belle's birthday, and Filbert's, and Harley's. I can accept gifts for them as well, just send them here and I will be sure to deliver them since Cora Belle and Filbert and Harley don't live here any more. Send them care of me, Baby Belle Jr. Or you can also address them to Millie, or to Herron Hill's Million Belles.

Unfortunately Pebbles cannot accept any more gifts because she has gotten quite fat but you can send her gifts to me as well and I will be sure she gets them as soon as she has lost some weight.

Hannah Belle likes to have her kids early in the season and she is right now in the kidding stall even though her kids aren't due until March. She is in there with her daughter Betty, whose kids are also due in March. Betty went in there because something happened to Betty's leg and she couldn't be rushed to the vet because Wendell was being rushed to the vet instead.

But she is getting around better so she may go back out but in the meantime you have never seen two more pleased goats, Betty and her mother, nestled up in the barn away from the dreadful late winter mud. Iota may go in there with them too, she is Betty's daughter, and then they will have a dam-and-daughter-and-daughter's-daughter kidding stall.

I have another entry in my first freshener column, or actually this works with any freshener, remember if you want milk you have to feed right and don't forget these three ingredients: oats, brewer's yeast, and flaxseed. Even humans are smart enough to know that these are your milkmaking foods, and you don't have to buy expensive cookies to get some, just go to the feed store.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Ikea Sunday

Yesterday Mr. Jingles was rushed to the hospital.

If you don't know, Mr. Jingles is the pen name of Wendell the pest, the boston terrier who thinks he is a border collie.

Yesterday was Sunday and the vet isn't open on Sunday. Around here there are various emergency clinics which shall remain nameless which charge you an arm and a leg before you come in the door if you show up on Sunday. Then after you have reached your credit limit they usually send you to Seattle anyway.

So the farmer decided to cut out the middle man and headed right to Seattle. Renton, to be precise.

Mr. Jingles was shivering and whimpering, the farmer feared he had swallowed a deer bone and it was lodged inside. I don't know why, but the farmer always makes up a full and complete scenario of doom in situations like this. The farmer never thinks, "oh dear, something is wrong with Mr. Jingles, I wonder what."

Instead the farmer thinks that an eagle or possibly a hawk -- one of those redtails that lives out in the madronas at the fringe of the meadow -- probably picked up a deer bone from that poor deer that was hit by the car down the road and the bone was too heavy , probably it was a femur, and the eagle (or the hawk) dropped it over the pasture and Mr. Jingles picked it up and took it into the garden and buried it in the compost pile while the farmer wasn't looking and then somehow managed to gnaw off a big sharp chunk of it and now it is lodged inside and that is why Mr. Jingles is twisted to the side and walking in a hunched fashion and peering at the farmer with deep devotion as he does in times of impending financial catastrophe.

Off they went in the big truck with Mr. Jingles perched on a cushion and wrapped in a blanket, shivering and whimpering and peering devotedly, putting his full trust in the farmer. "I trust you to do what is right," his expression said, "and not what is financially expedient. And please remember that you have two credit cards, not just one."

It was a complex expression.

At the vet hospital Mr. Jingles looked much improved and even tried to hop up on a chair in the waiting room. "Well, that often happens," said the receptionist politely. "It's the adrenaline."

In the exam room the vet tech took Wendell's temperature and it was normal and Wendell tried to jump up and lick the vet tech as the farmer droned on in the background about the possible deer bone and the vet tech nodded politely and the farmer explained that this morning Wendell had just looked terrible and could hardly walk and look at him now he practically looked normal.

"Well that often happens," the vet tech said politely, "it's the adrenaline. The doctor will be in in a minute."

The veterinarian came in and examined Wendell in a very cheerful and friendly fashion and it was determined that he had a neck injury and he wasn't about to die and in fact he was looking quite chipper. But shouldn't he have an x-ray, the farmer blathered, what with the possible deer bone and so on and the hawks in the meadow and bla bla bla.

"We could do an x-ray," the vet said kindly, "and that is certainly up to you. But I don't think it is necessary, as his belly is not tender and he hasn't been vomiting. He definitely has a sore neck and some pain pills will help a lot. But certainly we could do an x-ray if you like."

What kind of emergency clinic is this? The farmer wondered. They don't even have my credit card number yet.

Mr. Jingles was discharged with some pain pills to the tune of $118, which is about what it costs to park at any of the emergency clinics closer to home, and when the farmer got back outside the farmer noticed that Ikea was right across the street and the farmer perked up dramatically and gave Mr. Jingles half a pain pill inside a vienna sausage and covered him up with his blanket and went shopping, because why not after saving so much money.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Rhymes With Bling

I do not like to put too fine a point on it, but last night as they all do every year according to some secret schedule only they know, the frogs down at the fringes of Lost Beaver Lake started singing all together in a froggy chorus.

We will have a bit of an odd kidding schedule this year with most of the bred does kidding much later than usual. But the schedule begins in early March when Betty and Hnnah Belle, who are both bred to our new Promisedland buck, will have their kids.

Both Hannah Belle and Betty are known for having extremely pretty kids, but you never know what you will get.

So we shall see what we shall see.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

The Dismount

I decided to start a column for first fresheners because it is almost springtime and the kidding season is upon us and I have a lot of experience and so I thought I would pass it along. So this is Chapter One in my parenting column.

Okay, when you have your kids at first they are fine. Probably they will be pretty adorable. Not as adorable as mine but probably pretty presentable. You will get fairly attached to them.

But after a while you have things to do or you need to get a good spot on a spool so you can soak up some sunshine in peace or you want to go into the tack room with the farmer where the treats are, unless Blue has eaten all of them which is what just happened to the pretzels but never mind that, that is another story.

Okay so by this time your kids have gotten pretty crafty and they follow you around all day trying to get milk from you. This is all they think about. Every time you stop moving they surround you and start emptying your udder like piranhas. Bless their little hearts.

So to get around this problem you need to perfect a maneuver called "The Dismount" which I am demonstrating in this photo. Sure, let them get into position and pucker up and close their little eyes and start. Then instead of running forwards or backwards just do a high-kick with both your back legs so you go up and over them. Oopsy daisy like that and then you are off and running.

Examine this photo closely for the correct technique.

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Ok Thanks

Someone sent the Facebook link. Here it is.

Someone else friended us.

So now we have one friend.

That is really all you need, if it is a good friend.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012


The farmer is planning what to make later this spring when everyone starts kidding and the milk is back in. There are going to be a lot of caprifections.

For now the farmer is going to make soap and there won't be anything fancy about it it is the plainest soap in the world. But it has goat milk in it and it gets you clean.

Meanwhile there has been yet another internet snafu. We all agreed, even the Nubian crosses, that we hate Facebook so we didn't have a Facebook page until about ten years after everyone else got one. But finally we got one.

Then the farmer forgot where the Facebook page was and so started another one. Forgetting also that the first page had some Facebook friends on it. Then the farmer possibly might have started a third Facebook page and so the two previous, one with friends and one friendless, were just floating around out there like suitcases thrown overboard from the Titanic waiting to sink to the bottom of the Internet Ocean.

But anyway, if you find our Facebook page please tell us where it is. The newest one has Pebbles on it.

To our old Facebook friends drifting around the Doldrums and the Wide Sargasso Sea - bon voyage! Until we friend again!

Saturday, February 04, 2012

The Unmentionables

From the amount of publicity received, you might think there is only one goat living here, the Bitter Pill. That is not the case.

There are quite a few goats here who never get their names in the paper because they don't go to shows (Betty) and aren't the oldest (Brandy) or the youngest (Clementine), or the biggest (Betsy Bigoletto), or the sweetest (Jammies), or the fastest (Rosie). Or the most intellectually challenged (this is a photo finish between the apple and the tree, Pinky and her mother Tangy).

There is Eo, still plotting against The Empire. When you see Eo on her little hill sometimes you can tell she is thinking,  "I could burn this place down."

There is Penrose the Kindly.

There is Hannah Belle the magnificent, the matriarch now of the Nigerian herd, and Baby Belle's oldest daughter.

Also there is Pinky Jr. a bridesmaid in many categories (2d biggest, 2d sweetest e.g.) but never a bride.

Also Xie Xie, let's not forget her triumph at the state fair, and what about those little black mini-manches, what are their names, anyway?

If I of all goats can celebrate these poignant nobodies, I don't see why you can't. Let's all raise a glass of milk to the unmentionables, toiling in obscurity.

To the Nobodies! You know who you are! I applaud you!

Rhymes With Sing

Some people scoffed my hummingbird but it was a real hummingbird and if you don't believe in hummingbirds I want to tell you something else. Yesterday it was 64 degrees here and it was one of the ten most beautiful days of the year.

And if you don't believe in beautiful days I want to tell you something else. Yesterday when the cosseted barn dwellers were turned out in their pasture Brandy the old bag took a look around and shook her head and sniffed the air and then gave a little nod of assent, agreeing with herself, and then she took off running down the hill and when she got up to speed she turned sideways and went leap-dancing the rest of the way. Leap-dancing to such an extent that there was no choice but for everyone to follow her and there was a massive leap dance possibly celebrating the fact that it is Leap Year but certainly celebrating something else as well.

Brandy is thirteen years old and as I mentioned she is an old bag and she did not get to be as old as she is  by wasting energy and she only does her leap-dancing in one season of the year. And it is not the summer, the fall, or the winter.

And if you can't figure out what season it is you could read the title again for a clue. But don't say it out loud, because that is a jinx.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

The BP and the Boys

Well the upshot of the BP was that she was put on hold.

But if she comes back in heat in two weeks she will be bred to our new gentleman caller Chaos. We just call him K. He is in an outstanding specimen. His awesome pedigree is here: K's pedigree.

That brings us to the subject of the gentlemen. We have two different gentleman this year and they have never even gotten on the blog. One is K, he is a Nigerian with the magnificent beard so admired in the Baby Belle family and so lacking in so many other less resplendent families although I will not mention any names. We hope that he will be able to spruce up the offspring of some of the shabbier members of the farm.

Then there is also Fred. He came here as a baby but soon refused his bottle for reasons known only to him which kept him very small and spindly for quite a while but now he suddenly got a growth spurt and it looks like he might grow forever. Fred has a long fancy name and he is a very splashy black and white color, which makes up somewhat for the sad fact that he is a LaMancha.

Click here for Fred's pedigree for anyone who cares.

If you are a LaMancha-loving-shut-in you will realize that his pedigree includes some breed superstars including more than one National Champion. That is a big if however.

Fred's mother was the 2011 Oregon State Fair champion and she is rather spectacular. Who cares, I know. The downside of that of course is that, yes, he is from Oregon.

And yes, he has a lot of strange ideas. He also really enjoys playing with Wendell, which I think is disturbing.

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Secret Entry

Dear Diary, Tomorrow is Groundhog Day. But today I saw a hummingbird. The winter is over. Do not tell anyone. BBJ