Just Some More Hopping Around

The first day out of the kidding pen.  Mom reunited with her sisters and the babies hopped around under the barn awing.  They got their first dose of probiotic today to jump start their rumens.  They are starting to munch on grass, so they need a strong digestive system.

So the new quandary is that we discovered that they are both boys.  We have an offer in to the vet tech school our farm helper attends to see if she wants a buck for the school’s flock.  If not, then at least one needs to be wethered (neutered).  We have no need for 4 intact bucks.  The other alternative is to euthanize and that of course, will fall to me.  So we’ll see what happens.  Wethers are very sweet and can be kept with the girls.  The earliest we can do the deed is 4 weeks and today they are 4 days.  We will be pondering.  In the mean time…… they are so stinking cute!


I’m Never Going To See My Wife Again.

Zina took the day off today to be with the new baby goats.  As long as I’m out in the barn with her, she’ll give me the time of day.  I’m thinking about getting a cot out there for her to spend the next few nights on!  Of course, she is smitten with the little duo.  They are ridiculously cute, which furthers my assertions about how babies grow up to be adults…. cuz they are cute!

Everyone is fine.  Momma Ginger seems to be taking it all in stride.  The interaction is kind of fascinating. She talks to them.  She tells them to eat.  She is always cleaning them to bond.  She will nudge them back to her udder.  They are totally interacting with each other.  Momma will come and rub on us as if to get reassurance that she’s doing everything right.

The little doe-ling gave us a little start today.  They both got their first vitamin dose.  Tomorrow is a pro-biotic to jump start their little rumens (how they digest).  Afterward, the doe-ling looked kind of lethargic and was having “wet” coughs.  All seems well now, but with goats this is the time where EVERYTHING can go wrong.  So this gave us some pause.  By the time we left them alone this morning she was up and even chewing on some alfalfa strands.  Zina just came in and said they were jumping all over her…. a very good sign.  Pictures below.

So the coughing activated Zina’s Italian mothering instincts.  I had to hold her back from trying to feed her red sauce and pasta (Food is love after all! LOL!). But I was not innocent of concern either.

The birthing process attracted every fly within a mile radius.  If you’ve never endured fly season on a ranch or a farm, just think annoying like mosquitoes.  So I set to cleaning the barn and turkey coops again with gusto, as well as getting the wood chip bedding freshened.  I also sprayed the barn with fly repellent last night like we have been doing all summer and then realized that these little guys are smaller than a Chihuahua.  So, of course, I worried all night that the fly repellent might do something awful to them.  Nothing like parental or care-giver worry.  I can’t blame mine on my heritage.  Dutch people don’t really give a hoot.  Must be all that ice in Northern Europe.  Must be something else.  Guilt.  We’ll go with guilt along with a little shame if we actually fail at something.  A dead baby goat… its all your fault you .. fill in the blank.

So all appears well, but I miss Zina.  I could go out  there again, but I worked hard again today and breathed in a lot of turkey poop dust while cleaning the coop and am kind of wheezing.  Yes dear,  I wore a bandana as a mask.

Here is more serious cuteness:  Breast feeding in public?  Who friggin cares!



You Never Understand Until…


>>> A little size perspective.  They probably don’t weigh a pound a piece and the entrance to that cat carrier is only about a foot.  They are little bitty turds.  We will wait a bit to make sure we are out of the woods.  If the little boy makes it, his name will be Neo.  He will join his daddy and uncle: Tank and Dozer.  The little girl will follow the rest of them and get a name after an herb or spice.  Currently we have Cumin, Paprika and Ginger.  But we reserve the right to re-use names (The dogs are Basil and Sage, so those won’t work).<<<

We read everything about goats.  We had “How To” books, read online websites and all things “expert”.  However, NOT ONE THING  about that stuff makes any sense until said critter is in your lap.  We have had our goats going now into our second season.  We’ve got the adult part pretty well under control.  Then, BABIES!!  We gots this too, but it is one thing to read what you should be “looking for” and actually seeing it.

This morning I walked into Uncle-Farmer-Jon-hood.  It changed the entire day.  “OMG!  She gave birth and didn’t tell us!  Did they get their Colostrum?  Where are the birthing sacs? She ate em?  Wow!  They are so clean and seem to be happy!”  “Ok.  So if they aren’t screaming for milk, mom must have done her job.  Breathe you idiot.”  “But will she feed them and what kind of schedule do we keep for milking that is best for the kids?”  “I got her teat to squirt, so the faucets work, but Nigerians are little goats and I have walnut crusher hands.  I think we need a milker”. Ordered. $$$.

The babies seem happy.  Momma doesn’t seem to have rejected them, but she is a first timer and was bottle fed….. how is all this going to transpire?… answers damn it I need answers!  Someone really moved my cheese today.  I was going to build my new garden wagon, weed, plant and harvest and make Sauerkraut and tomato sauce, but NOOOOOOOO! The universe dumped two new goats on me.  Deal with that control freak!

So I jump on our most informative website.  Funny name “Fias Co. Farms”.  Today I was living in a Fiasco all right.  I felt like Trinity in the Matrix having the ability to fly a helicopter downloaded into her head within seconds.  I’ve been learning factually, that which we knew only conceptually.  Didn’t I already do this 24 years ago?  Do they need a college fund?  What about a bassinet and crib?  I just have these questions!  Aaaagghhh!

So Fias Co.  said that these little hopfrogs like to have a little place to crawl into to nap.  So I took one of our cat carriers, took off the door and they love it!  The humor was that the little buck went in there and proceeded to plop down for a nap.  Sister didn’t see him do it and started screaming like a baby with a wet diaper because she couldn’t find him.  The reunion took place and all is now calm.

I knew that we were going to have to dis-bud (de-horn) them.  It involves taking something like a soldering iron and burning off the buds that will form horns.  I’ve branded, doctored and castrated calves.  These are much tiny-er and it is on their head.  The thing burns at 1000 degrees F. Knowing vs. doing….    So I checked into that as well today.  It is suggested that it is done within their first week!  Crap. I don’t have said soldering iron or the box to hold the kid in.  Ordered…. more $$$.  Now granted, our little herd is pure bred and registered blood lines, so some care and expense is in order.  I was just too pumped on adrenaline to remain calm.  So next week when said branding equipment comes, I get to burn goat buds.  I WILL be wearing earphones.  Just like baby pigs, they can scream like you can’t believe.  What a thrill.

So this evening I went out and put the turkeys in their coop and checked on the newborns and momma.  All seem well.  Ginger wants to get out of the kidding pen, but that won’t happen for another day or two.  Friday she gets to go out and graze a bit.  In about a week, after the disbudding, the babies will get to go out and explore a bit too.

One site says, milk immediately.  Another says, wait 2 weeks or wait until they are weaned.  I guess, like with everything I do, I’ll land somewhere in the middle.

On top of this, my new garden wagon came, the weights for the fermenting croc arrived, all the other animals didn’t disappear or seem to not need food today.  Breathe, breathe, breathe.  As usual, I’ll get this down once my mind processes it over night.  If the babies are still alive in the morning, we’ll take the next step.  After all, goats aren’t endangered and have been reproducing for millennia.  I imagine they will muddle through whether or not I know what I’m doing.  Good job Ginger!

Twins!! Almost To The Day

F7A7715B-332E-4E1E-A464-2D7126D0A8C3ABF630AE-EDAD-4694-B421-6957B24851543198D853-85F5-4D0C-BFA6-B8B06E8B194CWoke up this morning and dragged my butt out to feed.  As usual, Donovan was honking up a storm for hay.  When I got out there I heard the little Baa-ing of little baby goats! Ginger had twins last night.  A boy and a girl!  They are too stinking cute! They probably don’t weigh a pound.  Momma must have been very hard at it last night.  She had them all licked clean and dry.  Really not much of a mess.  Evidently they got fed too.  They weren’t frantic when I was out there.  Momma seemed a little confused, but she was licking them and all seems well.  The faucets are working and the babies seem to know where they are.  So much for the need for human involvement.  All that “Get the birthing kit, towels, and nitrile gloves together” was much ado about nothing!  Of course, we will still be watching.  Ginger herself was rejected by her mother, so we need to make sure they both get tended to.  If not, it will be three or four times a day bottle feeding.  Joy.

So, of course this is very exciting.  We have newborns that aren’t birds or pigs on the farm.  The next evolution has begun.  If you are going to have a farm, as they say in the business book, your cheese will get moved.  Adjust, adapt, or get out.  Once more we stand… waiting to see what happens next.


Colorado Government Finally Did Something Right


>> The photo shown here ^^^ isn’t the completed gizmo but it shows the gist of how it will work<<

I’ve lived in the west for over half my life.  I have never understood why, in a place where droughts can cause water restrictions, that they didn’t allow for rainwater catchment.  In fact, it has been illegal.  I understand that it comes from the complexities of historical water rights (first in time, first in right), but most here would agree with me as to just how ridiculous this is – especially when the real spike in urban/suburban water use goes up in the summer so lawns can be watered.

Recently, the laws changed for the better.  From what I read, if you are on a municipal system (we are not) it is now legal to trap up to 2, 55 gallon rain barrels of rain and snow as long as it is used externally.  If you are on a well or off the grid from a water stand point, the amount you can use indoors and out is now unlimited as long as it comes off of a roof (I think an outdoor solar shower would be awesome!).

Yours truly, Mr. Farmer Jon, jumped at the chance.  Today, after putting it off for other projects this summer, I finally got down to making the first flush system for our water catchment system.  The roof is 1680 square feet.  According to the calculator, 1 inch of rain will provide 1297 gallons of water.  That would fill the tank shown above to over-flow by 297 gallons.  Through the magic of PVC I will be daisy chaining other tanks into the system as we go.

There are a number of reasons why we want to do this.  1. We live in a semi-arid climate that only gets 13.5 inches of rain a year (snow increases this, but not by much).  2. We are on a well that is down into an aquifer.  If you know anything about aquifer depletion, the news isn’t all that rosy.  3. The well is 265 feet deep so manual pumps won’t work.  If the electric pump fails, having water stored above ground until the pump can be fixed is just prudent (Our solar system protects against the grid going down, but not if the pump fails).  4. The water here is VERY alkaline.  Rainwater is not.  I have a pressure tank and pump that will provide enough pressure to water the gardens and not salinate them.

The only issue is winter.  Water freezes in winter.  As a result, we will be putting a 500 gallon storage tank in our basement to hold water through the winter.  It will be our weakest time of year, but unless I can figure out how to keep the big tanks warm when it’s 12 degrees outside, there isn’t much choice.  An underground cistern would be ideal, but contrary to popular and familial belief, we are not among the 1%.

I should have it all plumbed, painted and functional tomorrow.  I can’t wait to see this thing work….. of course, now that it is in, we won’t have any rain.

So here’s how it works:  There is a rubber racket ball in the wider, longer tube.  When it rains, the first water that comes off the roof will be dusty and bird pooped.  As that water washes down, the first water goes into the tube.  The racket ball rises as the tube fills.  Once it gets up to the reducer, it plugs it and the the fresher water will divert over to the green tank and fill it.  At the bottom of the first flush is a screw-in drain cover.  That allows the dirty water to be drained out so as to set it up for the next rainfall.  It might not be big enough, but there will be another one just like it on the other side of the barn.  We will be able to trap thousands of gallons of water, even in our dry climate…. Brilliant!

The Garden Is Filling The Pantry


We are now in harvest daily mode.  The tomatoes are losing their minds as they usually do, the cucumbers are playing out, the giants – our sunflowers – are keeping watch, the onions came out yesterday and are mostly the size of racket balls (and very flavorful), we are being overrun with green beans and peppers.  The Habaneros are setting fruit and, if they continue, we will need to be drying them and grinding them into pepper.  The Cayenne peppers have exploded and will refill our cayenne pepper stock.  The Basil, Thyme, Rosemary, Oregano, and Sage will keep us going for some time.  Our celery is up and salad ready.  We have over 50 lbs of cabbage heads.  The weights and lid for our crock are due tomorrow and we will be making and canning sauerkraut.  This weekend we will be harvesting black beans and more green beans.  The new spinach and Romaine lettuce seeds are due in from Johnny’s Seeds this week and they will go in the bean beds.  The beets are well on their way and our carrots, even though I didn’t thin them like I should, will give us a couple of bushels of can-able orange.  Today I planted the fall Broccoli and Cauliflower plants, tomorrow more onions will go in, and we are debating if we should even plant more cabbage. I have more than enough garlic so for the first time I won’t have to buy seed garlic for the October planting.  It is so nice, after surgery and a drought, to have the garden producing what I expect it to.

Ginger Watch. Place Your Bets!

Our little momma to be was found being a bit disoriented and tired in a corner on the donkey side of the barn.  Farmer Jon got the bedding down, the waterer and feeders filled and minerals doled out.  Ginger was very docile and tired and was more than willing to waddle into her delivery room.  I don’t know how to administer an epidural, but I suspect I’ll be spending quite a bit of time in the barn this week.  It was hard to just watch her lie down.  With those milk bags and her full pregnant width, if she could talk, I imagine she would be griping up a storm about not being able to get comfortable.

Place your bets!  I’m betting twins at least.  She is quite rotund.  We are at day 149 of 150 so things could go pretty fast from here….. or not.  From what I’ve gleaned, twins are common and triplets are not out of the question.  Will keep you posted.

They Are Finally Finished!!

F4931A19-D444-492F-A0EC-C85C14D3061A63E3CD13-EC6B-4A19-913C-129EBE60F82C906F9C4F-F0C2-468C-80C4-25181E992DDD2A8529D1-63BB-4B4E-9DD5-89334C93D8635434F7F0-5689-491F-B948-E2FBA1A358D714 yards long, 15 napkins, a week’s worth of hemming and the napkins are done!  Reminder to me…. Don’t expect to get a lot of weaving done when its gardening season!  I’ve been working on these since April.  Dumb idea.  I am so happy with the results, but my oh my was it tough to get down to the loom when trying to garden and put up food for the next season.

I’m getting better at my hemming.  They look less like a snake and more like a hand done project.

After looking up from my dreamland and discovering that Labor Day weekend is just a week away, I kind of freaked.  For fun, I want to set up a booth at our local holiday fair this year.  It will be to have a weaving presence.  If I don’t get my butt in gear I’ll not have anything to display!!  I want to sell some Christmas table runners, placemats and kitchen towels. But before I can loom them up I have a couple other orders to fill.  Deep breathing.  Whodah thunk that post retirement would be busier than pre?  If you think a couple can homestead and get everything done….. you are delusional.  I woke up this morning, thinking that I’d get in the garden and was met with a sick turkey.  Now that they have been de-wormed, its now 7:30 pm and I’m hemming napkins.  We are on goat baby watch, we have been canning and dehydrating, the wife is working a full time job, and I’m losing my mind.  All in a week’s schedule.  Of course….in the end, who owns this problem?


What Happened To Summer?

It dawned on me today that we are only a week or two away from Labor Day weekend.  It’s that kind of transition time into fall I guess.  The Cottonwoods are already beginning to yellow and the Maples, planted as landscaping trees in the city, are also beginning to turn.  This has been a summer of many types of weather.  As I write, a town to our west was just hit with tennis ball sized hail.  Usually that happens in the spring, but this year the moisture in both rain and ice form has happened throughout.  While we only had a couple of days over 100 degrees, we have had weeks on end of the very dry, mid-90’s.  We’ve been pretty good at getting out in the cool mornings to get chores and gardening done. Otherwise it just gets too hot to function.  As the storm blew through tonight on its way to Kansas, one of our basement window screens blew out and landed in our garden about 200 feet away.  Part two of this storm is on its way.  The lightning is flashing through the bedroom window blinds.

In this the early advent of fall, our gardens have not disappointed.  Harvest is getting into full swing.  The peppers have done so well that we are already dehydrating them and also giving them away.  We have Eggplant, Kale, Herbs, Cucumbers, Onions on the way, Green Beans, Garlic, Black Beans, 7 foot tall Sunflowers, and the Tomatoes have begun to turn despite some irregular watering that caused some blossom end rot, and over 60 tomato worms.  Our cabbage patch is insane.  We have been picking volleyball sized cabbages.  We stir fry a lot of it as well as mixing some into “to die for” coleslaw.  The onions will come out next.  The Zucchini have grown legs and are walking on their own. As usual, our celery is going great.  Our carrots and beets look great despite not thinning them as much as I should have   The squash plants seem to like their new home and we are starting to pick them as well.  The only thing that isn’t doing well this year are the Tomatillos.  Not entirely sure why, but they have always been a bit persnickety.  Tomorrow, weather permitting, I am going to start getting the fall succession planting in.  This will include more onions, more cabbage, Broccoli and Cauliflower.  In the next week or so I will sprout and plant spinach and seed in a bed of leaf lettuce that will give us salad until the first freeze. It appears that we have been successful in drought proofing the gardens, which is a big relief.

We are also on baby goat alert.  One of our does, Ginger, is due in under 2 weeks.  We are very excited for the new arrivals and have been working to get the kidding pen all in order. As she looks like a waddling quadruped, I’m sure she will be relieved when it’s all over too.

Today was canning and dehydrating day.  I canned tomato sauce from our first good sized harvest.  We ended up with 10 pints.  More are on the way so we will be canning tomatoes up until the first freeze, or until we are sick of it.  All told we have out about 20 lbs of peppers in the dehydrator, not to mention how many we have given away.

So other than the wetter weather this year energizing the weeds and promoting east of the Mississippi kinds of bugs, this year has gone very well.  Bring on the fall.  The sooner the cold weather kills off the flies and grasshoppers the happier I’ll be.  I’m tired of this high plains oven!  I have a fence to build.  I need it cooler!