Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Ode to Ethel the Cow

Skinny and lumpy from a life of toil,
Some say you should've been named "Olive Oil".
Your hips stuck out, you looked frail,
Life's not easy when attached to a milk pail.
We brought you home with Herman, the freebie.
You didn't like him and thought he was dweebie.
Your pasture was large with lots of green grass,
You ate so much grain it gave you a fat ass.
Herman came to join you and be your friend,
You found yourself loving him in the end.
Now you are up in the big pasture in the sky.
When I eat your ribs they're so tasty I could cry.
I hope your life with us was very nice,
I really appreciate your ultimate sacrifice.
I say all my animals are lucky to live on my farm.
I really love them and try to keep them from harm.
They have all the things they ever could need,
Their life's pretty great, I have to say, indeed.
So what if in the end they have to die,
I loved each one of them so much I could cry.
I treated them all with lots of care,
I know they are looking down from up above, somewhere.
Do cows have a heaven? This I don't know.
If I were a cow, that's where I would want to go.
So in lieu of not knowing about cow heaven and all it's worth,
I try my hardest to provide all my cows a sweet heaven on Earth.
This is my greatest responsibility, my solemn duty,
To appreciate my animals and treat them all as family.

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Great Downsizing!

Winter is a time of hibernation and rest. The animals, who don't go south, bulk up in the fall to get ready for sleeping through the winter. What a great concept! Unfortunately humans haven't evolved the ability to hibernate, even though some of us have tried. I like the winter because I like snow. It is pretty and fun. I don't like the only 6 hours of daylight so I do find myself winding down my activities when the sun goes down at 4pm. This goes also for barn activities. When it's cold and dark, doing chores just seems to loose its appeal for some reason. Thus in the fall I begin the process of finding homes for all my extra livestock.

Yesterday I found a home for Max and Mikey, my two buck goats. I don't like keeping male goats over the winter because I do not have very much room in the barn, and the male goat is the most stinky beast God every created! The stench permeates everything and it is oil based so you can't ever get it off of things.

I also found a home for six of my 21 hens. I hatched some chicks this year to add to my flock. Of course some of them where roosters which I found a home for pretty quickly. This fall a lady at work offered me "half a dozen" hens. She was getting rid of all of her chickens because her neighbor had been calling the dog warden on the chickens getting into her yard. The dog warden wasn't taking that seriously but the lady was not happy with the feud over her chickens. I went to her house and found that there were 12 hens and a rooster she was giving to me! That's a lot more than six! I took all of them and shoehorned them into my tiny, outhouse-sized chicken house. With the snow on the ground none of the chickens dare to venture outside. So all 21 chickens are stuck in the tiny house all day long, all winter long. It gets quite smelly and dirty in there in about 2 days after cleaning. Luckily a friend needs about six hens to fill out her flock. Coincidentally I am looking to give someone six hens. So by tomorrow night the chickens won't be so crowded after my friend comes and gets her new hens. I can't wait!

So this winter will hopefully be similar to the past ones. A nice, easy time of doing the chores until all heck breaks loose when all four female goats give birth in the spring. I will enjoy what I can until then.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Goats, Goats, and MORE GOATS!!!

Time for more goat pictures!

This is Mad Max. He will be the father of the kids out of Gloria, Lucy, and Matilda this year. He is a Toggenburg. Toggenburgs are a swiss breed of dairy goats that are identified by their very distinct gray coats with white accents.

This is Mikey. He is Max's friend and pen mate. He is also a Toggenburg. Both of these boys will be going to a new home in December where they will become pets.

Here are the lovely Lucy and Matilda. Lucy is the brown one and Matilda is the gray one. They are both very nice goats and will be having kids for the first time this spring.
I can't wait to have goat babies!!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Pictures of Mexico!

Here is one of the largest cenotes in Mexico. When the meteor struck in the Gulf of Mexico that killed the dinosaurs, it fractured the layers of limestone that make up the land that Mexico sits on. The result was that Mexico has no over-land rivers. All of the water flows just under the ground and pools up in sinkholes and caves all over the place. This cenote is a large sinkhole where tourists can go down to the water and even swim if they want to.

After visiting the cenote, we all went to Chichen Itza. It is one of the "New 7 Wonders of the World". When the Mayan civilization was at its peak, Chichen Itza was a great temple where worship of the various gods took place.

Here is the ballcourt where the Mayans would play to the death with their enemies. There were no wars in their culture. If one group had a beef to pick with another group they would challenge them to a game of ball. The losers would be sacrificed to the gods after the game was over. The game was played with a rubber ball and the players had to hit the ball with their hips or elbows into the hoop on top of the wall. The ballcourt at Chichen Itza is the largest of all Mayan ballcourts.

Here is a statue of a jaguar. Jaguars are sacred to the Mayans.

Here is a face that was on the corner of one of the buildings at Chichen Itza.

At the end of our stay in Mexico this year, we went to Xcaret. It is a Mexican theme park. There was an aquarium with sea turtles, dolphins, and manatees. There was an orchid farm. Tom and I swam through the underground caves. There was also a Mayan village. The picture is of some graves from the graveyard in the Mayan village. The graves were very ornate and each one told a story about the person buried there. At night there was a show in this huge outdoor amphitheater. The show was about the history of Mexico starting with the Mayans and ending with the Spanish colonization. The second half of the show was different dancing and songs from the different regions of Mexico. It was very cool!!

Here is the view from our room this year at the El Dorado Royale. It was very nice!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I made a deal with myself when I started this blog to not be one of those loser bloggers who doesn't stay consistant with writing new posts. Well, that deal has gone out the window and then some. Oh well...
So here's the update: Winter is coming. There has been one big snow storm about two weeks ago with 12" of snow. All that snow melted by the time I got back from Mexico (yearly week-long vacation to the Riviera Maya -- will post pictures in a few minutes). It was nice and warmer when Tom and I returned from the tropics. Now it has started to snow again. We got one inch yesterday and the roads are getting sloppy. The roads aren't frozen but the snow and water on top of them is. Thank goodness for 4 wheel drive. I have been fighting ice off of the animals' water buckets in the mornings because it has been below freezing at night.

The cows are now both in the same pasture. I put Herman in with Ethel a few months ago. Ethel was not pleased at first but now she won't go anywhere without him. He will be sad when she leaves for the freezer in December. We are planning to keep Herman until next year if he continues to be a good boy. Tom is building the cows a nice shed for them to get out of the snow. He wants to use it for firewood if there aren't cows in it. It will be hard for me to not fill it up with goats before he can get firewood in it.

The goats are well. Breeding season has started. Three of the does came into heat this week. The bucks have been busy chasing them around. Only problem is that both bucks are still pretty short. They are growing, but I didn't realize that their particular breed grows slowly. Oh well, where there's a will, there's a way. I am not going to make my traditional mistake of thinking that the goats are not bred. Every year I wind up with a surprise because I get to thinking that this goat or that goat is not pregnant and is just fat. So this year, I am going to assume everyone is pregnant! I have one more goat to breed and I will be taking her to a farm to be with a buck of her breed. She is a Nubian (floppy-earred goat) and my bucks are Toggenburgs (straight-earred). Mixing the ears makes a pretty ugly combination so the Nubian will be going to a farm that has a Nubian buck. I have to remind myself to call the farm to make a blind date for my doe.

I now have lots and lots of chickens. I hatched three earlier in the year by letting two hens set on some eggs. The mean hen that always pecked me when I checked the eggs made a good mom and hatched the three chicks. The nice hen that never pecked me ate her chicks when they hatched! I raised the chicks in the garage and kept one of them. The other two were roosters and went to a person who needed a new rooster. I then put some eggs in the incubator. I put in 14 eggs. I candled them and 7 were fertile. Out of the 7, I had three hatched. The power went out a few days before they were supposed to hatched and killed the other four eggs. It's not good to have the temperature change right before they hatch. I raised those chicks in the garage as well. I just moved them out of the garage to the barnyard the other day. Now my existing flock, before I started hatching any chicks, was about eight hens and one rooster. My rooster died and so did some hens (it happens). Then a lady at work gave me what she said was going to be "half a dozen or so chickens". Well, that "half dozen" turned out to be 10 hens and one rooster! So now I am up to 22 chickens in my tiny hen house. I am hoping to give some away before it snows too much and they are all stuck inside together for 5 months.

Tom is doing well. He is busy as always. He has lots to do for people before it snows bigtime. He has been cutting trees like crazy.

All is well here!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Calf on a Leash

Last night, Tom took the calf for a walk. The calf is no longer the cuddly, baby-cow-eyes, little baby. He is a big boy now. All that goat milk is doing his body good. Suffice to say the calf is not a very easy thing to walk on a leash. Tom went in the pen with the calf and got his halter on. Then Tom opened the gate. The calf bolted out of the gate in a flash that would make a Derby horse proud. Tom was inside the pen as the calf bolted to the outside of the pen. As the calf spent out the rope he was on he jerked Tom into the gate. Luckily Tom carries a chainsaw around all day and he was able to pull on the rope and get the calf stopped quick. The calf spun around when he reached the end of the rope and landed on the ground with legs out in every direction. He recovered quickly, lept up and ran to the end of the rope again. After hitting the ground two more times he figured out that he needed to stop running to the end of his rope.

Tom took the calf over to Ethel, the older Jersey heifer. Ethel looked through the fence at the little calf and knew that he was one of her kind. They haven't seen each other in a few months because the calf has been in the goat pen behind the barn and Ethel has been in the cow pasture. Ethel wanted to get closer to the calf but didn't dare go near the electric fence. She snorted and kicked dirt up over her back to show her disgust with not being able to get near the calf. The calf and Tom walked around the outside of Ethel's pasture with Ethel following on the inside of her fence. After a few minutes Tom took the calf back to his pen and let him get the rest of his dinner.

Friday, May 30, 2008

When you send a man to do a woman's job....

Last Friday I sent my wonderful husband to go pick up the two-year-old heifer I had reserved for us at a local farm. The heifer was a nice Jersey dairy cow that the farmer couldn't get bred this year and wanted to sell it to someone for beef. We had gotten last year's cow, Chihuahua, from this same farm. I sent Tom and didn't go myself because I wanted to stay home and get the fence fixed up for the cow and get the house cleaned without someone complaining about the noise that vaccuum makes.

The morning Tom went to get the cow, he had to first stop at his friend's house to pick up a trailer to haul the cow in. Pat (the friend) is quite a talker and never gets anywhere too fast. I was not surprised when Tom left the house at 8am and didn't return until 3pm. I waited an waited for Tom to get home. He might need my help unloading, so I wanted to not be busy when he came. I waited and waited...

Tom and the trailer finally pulled up. He got out and had a funny look on his face. I knew he had done something he didn't want to tell me about. I came up to the trailer and could see the big heifer through the slats. Tom slowly opened the trailer door and explained that the farmer had lots of extra calfs this year and he didn't know what to do with them all. I looked into the dark trailer and saw between the legs of the heifer a small black calf! I called Tom a "big sucker" as he unloaded the heifer and the calf. He said the farmer really didn't want to send the calf to the auction because it will probably die anyways.

Now we are the proud owners of Herman, the Angus/Holstein mix. He is a little bull that is two weeks old. I put the heifer in the cow pasture and put Herman in a pen in the goat barn. Gloria the goat was a little bent out of shape that a cow was in her pen, but she would rather move in with another goat than to move in with a cow. Herman drinks goat milk and loves it!

Both cows are doing great and certainly add some variety to the goat barn.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Pictures of the goats!

Here are some babies from this year. Luke is the one jumping up. He is Mrs. Brown's boy. The two long-eared goats are Pepper's twins.

The white one looking into the camera is Xena. She is Gloria's daughter. The gray one is Mad Max. I got him from a big farm in Peru, NY.

Here's all the older girls. This is a picture from last year. Some of them have been sold.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Adrenalin Rush!

Along with goat-baby season comes adrenalin season. What I mean is I never have a dull moment on the farm.

Yesterday I decided I needed to disbud (burn the horn buds off) my baby goats. I had four that needed it done. This is my first year doing the disbudding by myself. Earlier in the year, Sadie needed it done. I had Tom help me this first time. I was very nervous and Tom didn't like the whole process. Being nervous, I did a poor job the first time and had to do it again. I contracted my friend, Heather, to do it with me the next time. She wasn't very impressed by the whole deal, either. Even doing it twice didn't make it any better, Sadie will have some short horns when she grows up. Since both my helpers would probably never be persuaded to help me again, I had to get creative. Thank god I am so darn bull-headed!

With Sadie I had put her in a box to hold her down. The box wasn't originally designed to be for disbudding. It was a rabbit nest box. It didn't work so well. This time I decided to forget the box and hold the babies down manually. I put them between my legs while I kneeled down and held them. It worked great!! I was able to do all four babies without a problem. Needless to say, it was quite an adrenalin rush to hold the babies down and disbud them.

This morning I had a few more adrenalin rushes. I wanted to milk Pepper when I did chores this morning. She wasn't used to the milkstand and I hadn't had to milk her in the mornings before. She has started making lots of milk and inspite of her babies best efforts, she has milk to spare. I had been having trouble getting her on the stand the past few nights. I bring her to it and she refuses to jump up. I give her food and ask her nicely, but nothing works. I get a little more forceful and pushy. She still won't go for it. I then grab her and shove her up there. By the end I am sweating and Pepper is shaking. It was quite a rush to wrestle a goat at 6am.

After I finished milking Pepper and put her back in her stall, I took the two yearlings (Matilday and Lucy) out to the pasture. I held onto Matilda's collar the whole way because I knew she would run away from me if I didn't. Lucy would follow Matilda out. When I got to the gate I had to let go of Matilda to undo the latch. I had Matilda between me and the fence and assumed that she wouldn't run off in the two seconds it took me to unlatch the gate. Well, I was wrong. She turned and darted out to the yard. Lucy was right behind her. I chased Lucy down and caught her by the collar. I put her in the pasture. Then I went to get Matilda. She wouldn't let me get near her. I tried to keep her going toward the barn and not out into the woods or the neighbor's lawn. She eluded me a few times and wouldn't go all the way into the barn without Lucy. I knew if I could get her into the barn she wouldn't be able to run. No luck. Matilda stopped in the driveway to the barn. I was five feet from her. In my best rodeo-star impersonation I lept into the air and came down on top of Matilda. I hooked her collar with my right hand and grabbed her around the middle with my left. I was amazed she stood still for the two seconds I was in air above her. Usually they run off at that moment and leave you to land in the dirt. I was happy to have her back and put her into the pasture. This time I didn't let go of her to undo the latch.

It was a busy evening and morning, but it's all part of being a goat herder.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Why does everything have to die or turn to $#%$!!

It never fails - just about the moment I think one thing is going to happen, the exact opposite does. Last night my best nanny goat, Gloria, was running a fever and acting very listless. I wormed her and tried to get her to eat. She wouldn't do much except lie around. I went to bed very discouraged, assuming she would be dead in the morning. I have trouble believing the goats will be fine, despite my best efforts.

I went out to do chores in the morning with a cloud over my head. I poked my nose inside the barn and heard Gloria cry to me. She was alive and doing better. She was eating a little and slightly more perky. Her fever had broke. I was relieved. I finished the goat chores and went to check on the chickens. Out in the chicken pasture laid one of my Auracana hens, flat on her back. She had died in the night. I looked her body over and couldn't find a reason for her passing.

It always seems like if it isn't one thing, it's the other!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Spring time on the farm

Hello everyone!
Well, spring has sprung in the Adirondacks. With 60 degree days and plenty of sun, the snow is melting and the birds are singing. Spring brings with it the start of the goating season. What is the "goating season" you ask? It is when the goats begin to have babies and a whole mess of new babies show up on the farm. So far this season three goats have kidded (that's what a goat having babies is called), giving me five new babies. I have three Nubian babies and two Alpine babies so far. There is one more Alpine to give birth. Maybe this weekend. She will probably have twins. She had twins last year.

It is more common for a goat to have twins than just one baby or triplets. Usually their first kidding is one baby. Pepper had her first kidding this year and had two babies. I was totally surprised! She didn't look big enough to have two and it was her first time. Both babies are doing very well and once she figured out they were hers, she started to take care of them and won't let them leave her sight.

I was present for the birth and helped the mom out. Pepper is a small Nubian who is about two years old. I bred her to my friend's nice Nubian buck. I knew she was getting close to giving birth on Tuesday morning. I can tell by feeling the ligaments at the base of their tail. The ligaments start to relax about 48 hours before deliver. This means the birth canal is widening and the baby is getting in position. The ligaments completely disappear from touch about 6 hours before. Pepper's had disappeared when I did chores in the morning. I stayed home from work and watched and waited. She stared off into space and stretched her back every now and then. Eventually she laid down and started pushing. After some strong pushes a hoof stuck out. It came out a little more and then I saw a tongue! That was a good sign. I could tell the baby's head was coming out in the right position. At that point the progress stopped. I could see the baby was much bigger than the opening it was trying to come out of. I grabbed the leg and pulled with all my might as the mom pushed. Finally the baby's head and shoulders came out. I started to clean it off with a towel and realized that Pepper was beginning to push again. I grabbed another towel and the second baby came out easily. I cleaned both babies off and made sure Pepper was okay. She was not moving and breathing hard. I shook her neck gently and she looked at me as if to tell me she was okay but needed a minute to recover. I didn't blame her! At first she didn't want the babies. After a while she started to lick them and now she loves them.

All the other goats and babies are doing well. Two boys were born two weeks ago and they are growing fast. They are as big as the baby born two months ago.