Thursday, April 26, 2007

easier to buy than sell

We're in a goat pickle. As is often the case with live animals, they are much easier to buy than sell. Since I can't sell any dairy products, we can't possibly keep all of these goats. So we're going to sell everyone but Finola, Catwoman, Tilde, and Captain Stubing. It makes me sad, but we just don't have the room or the money to keep them all. I've put out a sign in the front yard advertising the goats, but no luck yet. We've had some people call and stop by, but no one seems to want them badly enough to buy them. They're a really good deal for registered Nubians, especially ones that have such good genes. If worse comes to worst then we can take them to the auction, people say. But I'd rather not if I can help it--I'd really rather sell them to someone as meat goats than to someone who's going to mistreat or neglect them. Better to have a good life cut short than a miserable long life. And they're such good goats--good mothers and very friendly, except for Violet--she's coming around, but very slowly. She's a great mom, but really doesn't like to be milked. And who can blame her?

Saturday, April 21, 2007

spelunking a goat

Last night we were about to start eating dinner when John looked outside and noticed Violet licking a black goatbaby--I don't know why our goats like to be so sneaky. Finola, Catwoman and Violet all did stealth kiddings on us. We got all our gear and ran outside to make sure everything was okay. The baby was fine, and we did the navel bit, then tried to get her to nurse. She was very uninterested, so we felt her belly, and that is the fattest dang baby tummy I have ever felt so soon after birth. She's definitely her father's daughter--black with white ears. She has some brown on her legs, and looks like a great big woolly bear caterpillar. We named her Nona. Violet is being a great mom. I think it really helped her to see all of the other mamas and babies, so it wasn't a totally freaky experience for her. We're concerned that Violet is retaining a dead kid, because her girl business is red and puffy and inflamed-looking, just like Finola's was. So this morning I got on the shoulder-length glove and stuck my hand up there, but I am a total moron when it comes to knowing the interior ladyparts of goats. I felt around and couldn't find any sort of hole to stick my hand in once it was in there up to the wrist, and I couldn't feel any baby parts in there. We also couldn't feel anything from bouncing Violet, so I guess we've done what we can. She'll probably throw a rotten mass of blood and bones and hair in a few days and then we'll feel terrible. Poor Violet.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

bread success

Last night our RS class was making wheat bread by hand--no mixer allowed. It was a lot of fun. I've never not used my Bosch to mix and knead my bread, so I was proud that it actually turned out not just edible, but delicious. (Confession--I had to make it twice, because the first time I blithely dumped in the entire flour ration, and it turned out to be a stiff, grody mess. The next time I added way less flour, so my dough was nice and elastic.) I've had good luck with the various wheat bread recipes I've used--I think using hard white instead of red wheat might have something to do with it. I remember some sorry loaves of wheat bread I've encountered in my youth, and I'll say no thanks to the leaden, bland, crumbly disasters they were.

The UPS man just delivered our disbudding iron, so we can do that tonight. Should be an adventure, as I'm the only one who's seen it done in real life. It's freaky--you take a red-hot cylindrical tool and burn the horn buds off the goat kid. Yipes! But horns are just too dangerous, for the goats and for us. They may not be quite as friendly with us for a while--we'll see. Currently the goatbabies love me like a second mother, which I think proves the Fias Co Farm lady's belief that goats do not need to be bottle-fed to be friendly toward humans. You just need to spend a lot of time with them.

I've been rubbing Neosporin (well, actually, Kroger-brand knockoff Neosporin) on Blind Edna's eyes, and it seems to have helped immensely. Her left eye appears normal, and her right eye looks almost normal. They were both goopy and swollen almost shut last week, and her right eye looked especially bad--all cloudy and bloodshot. Hopefully it was just an infection and she'll be all right. Then we can go back to calling her Dame Edna.

I've tried to find a local source for soapmaking supplies, and the lye is proving difficult to track down. Thanks, meth-heads! We all appreciate your efforts to further erode our civil liberties. Which, I realize that buying lye isn't an inalienable right, but it's frustrating to not be able to buy a simple product that was used innocently for decades. If they love meth so much, why don't they just get their lye the old-fashioned way? At least they'd be working for it. Jerks. It's similar to raising an animal to slaughter yourself--if people had any idea of the amount of effort it takes to properly raise an animal for food, and how terrible it is to have to butcher it, maybe they wouldn't be so excited about eating meat for every meal.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

life is expensive

Saturday morning we all got up and started our day. I was getting ready for our Relief Society Super Saturday activity, which, barf. I'm just not a crafty gal, and I think most of it is some tacky crap. And why would you want the exact same pillow, wall hanging, or what-have-you that your neighbor has? But it turns out Catwoman had just finished kidding twins and was completely detached from them. Like "Why is my poop hairy and alive? And why is it messing around with my downstairs?" So we had a long, long morning of tying and dipping navels, splinting ears, and encouraging parent-child bonding. Thanks, Catwoman! I appreciate your being cool to me and making it so I had a proper reason to stay home and play goat mom.

The peas, spinach and lettuce are all growing well, as are the strawberries and assorted other plants I planted a couple of weeks ago. I haven't gotten to the squash and cukes yet, but I have until the end of the month. The veg garden is starting to get weedy where I haven't planted, and I don't want to till again. The moneys, they do not grow on trees. It's all very well to try to be self-sufficient, and to try to expand your sticking-it-to-the-man skills, but even in rural areas that doesn't come cheap. Here's what we've spent just in the last month:

  • 30 bales of hay: $180
  • double calf hutch: $500
  • Penicillin: not much--under $10, because animal meds are cheap, usually

Things we still need to spend money on are:

  • fencing for the entire property
  • replacing the massive single-paned windows in our beautiful Craftsman house
  • air-conditioning (thinks my husband--I'm trying to tough it out and be a proper dirty hippie)
  • some sort of milking area with sides so we can keep out of the weather (we found that the ladies perform much better when they are milked near each other out by the pen, and the wind sucks--we're currently using that double calf hutch as a milking parlor, but we'll lose it as soon as Violet gets ready to kid)
  • magic wand for removal of the tarpaper on our kitchen floor
  • new baby arriving in June
I'm sure there's a lot more I can't remember right now, but it's not trivial, the amount of money we need for this stuff. I also found out yesterday that I can't sell my goat milk, even if I pasteurize it, because I hand milk. So anything comestible is out of consideration, and I have four goats, which means lots of extra milk. I guess it's goat milk soap, which will be fun, but I am so proud of how delicious the milk and cheese are! Hopefully we can sell our surplus kids and soap and try to dig ourselves out of the financial hole that animal husbandry has put us in.

Also, Finola threw another dead kid on Friday morning--another black one. Sad. I wanted some little black goats running around with our brown ones--it currently appears as though we have a goat-cloning machine. She has been despondent about it, but has finally succeeded in grafting herself into Catwoman's family. So now the twins take turns nursing from their mother and their grandmother. Silly goats--it's aight with me, though, because now there's a goatbaby to take care of Finola's evening milking for us.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

kidding 2007

Well, we're in the thick of kidding season. I both love and hate this time of year. I love getting new babies, but midwifing a goat is a scary activity.

Traci kidded on Monday morning--I went out to do the chores, and she wasn't with the rest of the goats. Like the smart girl she is she had gone off into the private pen (what we call "the mother-in-law apartment") and was making soft moany grunting noises. So I hurried and got a fresh batch of straw to bed down the hutch, then went inside for my kidding supplies. By the time I got back out she'd had the first baby and was drying it off. Once it was fairly dry I took it and tied off and dipped its navel--in the process discovering that it was a buckling. So I christened him Captain Stubing. While I ran up to the house and shouted for more towels Traci kidded the second baby--a girl this time, which we named Audrey Two. Once more through the drying and navel doctoring routine, then, when I thought we were all done, I looked up at Traci's back end, and there were some upside-down hooves! So the third baby--another girl, named Dame Edna--came out backwards, but thankfully not breech position. That would have been too much for me! This baby also got her navel tied off and dipped in the iodine. They are beautiful babies, and Traci definitely throws a certain type. They're all brown with white ears, and Captain Stubing and Audrey Two have white poll marks, just like their half sister Violet. I was hoping for a grey or black baby to liven up our herd color, but no luck.

Finola kidded yesterday morning, but her baby was dead. Unfortunately I wasn't out there to see what happened, so I have no idea if it was born dead or just never got up. She had done a good job of drying it off, but it was all crumpled on the ground like it had never moved. Poor Finola. She is such a good and attentive mom--she spent most of the day yesterday bawling. We're concerned about her, because she looks really red and inflamed, and hasn't seemed to finish passing the afterbirth. But from what I can feel, as well as my uncle and our sheep-ranching neighbor, she doesn't have any kids left inside her. It's weird for her to just kid a single, because she kidded twins last year. But one of those babies was dead as well, so maybe Finola has a hard time getting live babies. I hope she hasn't passed that on to Catwoman.

If we can have a successful kidding with Catwoman and Violet, then we'll be home free for this year, and all we have to worry about is selling all the extra babies. We're considering training Captain Stubing to be a draft and pack wether, so he can earn his keep and we won't have to sell him. It makes for an exciting spring, added to the fact that I'm due with our own human baby in June.