Citiots and The Saga Of The High Plains Goat Wars

 

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Above is my buddy Dozer.  The trespasser could have been his brother.

One of the things about having the farm pretty well completed and operational, has been this desire to have things calm down.  After all, as John Prine sang:  “Blow up your TV, Throw away your papers, Move to the country, build you a home.  Plant a little garden, eat a lot of peaches, learn to find Jesus…. on your own.”   That’s the goal.  All was heading in that direction UNTIL!!!!  –  New idiot neighbors.

The house to our north sold a few months back.  The house is nice but the property was a typical rural mess; completely strewn with several generations of farm equipment and general junk.  So, as to not be a nuisance, we stayed way.  One day, some horses showed up, we could occasionally hear some ducks, and whomever was clearing the property of junk had an affinity for some VERY loud Mariachi music.

Last Sunday, we finally met the neighbors.  She is a very nice lady and is there now with her two sons.  The way we met her was kind of humorous and head shaking at the same time.  We came home from an errand and there were 6 goats in our north west pasture (All bucks for krisake).  Well,  that was surely going to happen considering that the only fencing between us is an old, sagging, dilapidated, barbed wire fence.  I’m surprised her horses haven’t come over for a visit.  They’ve certainly been curious about the donkeys.

Zina stopped the car and I hopped out to go round them up and send them back home.  Zina took the car and went and knocked on their door.  We found out it was her birthday that day as well.  I got the goats back through their fence – wasn’t hard, they didn’t really seem to know it was even there (the saying is that if your fence can’t hold water, it won’t hold a goat).

These little devils went back through the fence and then headed west toward the road, came back through the fence toward us then and headed down the road.  It reminded me of the scenario when I had a baby pig escape.

OK, so that was funny.  The neighbor was very apologetic.  She was repeating over and over that she is still learning and that it won’t happen again.  However, like typical Citiots, you can’t tell them anything.  “Oh, I promise it won’t happen again!”  I laughed and tried to be a nice neighbor, having just met her and all, but I responded “Yes it will.”  Their fences couldn’t hold a retarded Coyote.  I told the husband, as we were again herding them back to the fence, that there is no way they are going to be able to keep those beasties contained until they learn how to build fencing – I offered, I’m pretty good at it and I’ve never had an animal escape unless a gate was left open.  Crickets.  Can’t tell these fools anything.

So a day or so goes by.  We were told that the bucks were being held in their barn so they couldn’t get out.  Wrong.  They were in a pen that looks like a chicken coop.  I haven’t seen a few of them since, but the lead demon spawn and I were about to tangle.  Keep in mind that we have about $2000.00 of PURE BRED REGISTERED Nigerian Dwarf Goats.  We cannot have strays coming on to the property because goats can carry any crazy number of diseases and we have already dealt this year with Tank getting Pink Eye; not to mention Ginger is due in 2 weeks.

This week was hay purchasing and stacking day (not to mention Sage being sick too – vet bills….. erg.). Usually, when I go outside, the boy goats (Tank and Dozer) call out to me.  They did so again but I thought I heard an echo.  It came from over by the greenhouse.  I turned and it looked like Dozer had gotten out of the pen.  Nope, the neighbor goat was in my garden (They also defoliated two of our apple trees and they are now dead.  Out here fruit trees take upwards of 5 years to produce fruit.  These were three years in…. pretty pissed).  Kind of a big sacrifice to be neighborly – because after all – “Still learning”.  So this demon was in our garden.

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Make hay while the sun shines!

Now anyone who knows me in person, is familiar with my bark.  I can scare shit out of a Marine drill sergeant.  I let fly on that goat somethin’ to wake up the neighbors.  This buck looks just like Dozer, except he has horns (Ours are all dis-budded to avoid injury).  He understood pretty well that he was an unwanted visitor.  He got into the garden because I had left the fence netting open as I’d been working in there.  He high tailed it out of there and back home.  Catastrophe number one averted.  Goats like foliage, so he was probably sampling the plethora of greens in our acre garden.  That alone is enough for war.

I head out, bought hay and came back.  It’s a little bit of an effort to get the truck and the  tractor through the gate, keep the dogs out of the pasture, keep the goats IN the pasture, and get set up to unload and stack the bales.  While I was doing that, Basil was barking, I heard a goat bleating, looked up and that little shit was back again!!  This time he wanted in with the does.  My dogs were awesome.  I sent em off after him.  Sage is bloody fast.  She was on his heels all the way back to the fence.  She rolled him and when he got across the fence she didn’t follow him through it,  turned and ran all the way back to me.  So much for being sick.

For those of you who have never bucked hay, its a ferociously physical job.  After yesterday’s load was up, I hobbled back to the house, took a shower and collapsed.  That evening I got up out of my chair to let the dogs out before bed and Sage bolted out the door.  I noticed a dark silhouette out by the donkey gate, and once again, thought Dozer had gotten out.  Nope.  Visitation number three by Satan’s cousin.  This time, he had tried to get into the garden but got his horns all tangled up in the fence netting.  So here,   instead of going into all the details,  I’ll just share the text I sent Zina after all of this ended.  This is a classic example of people moving out to the country, thinking they know everything, and then screwing everyone’s lives up who have been here for years.  Citiots think they know everything.  She’s about to get a lesson in life.  The mildest lesson is don’t buy livestock until you can contain them (Especially goats.  They are smart and can figure out any weakness).  The next is “why the hell did you buy six bucks?  Did no one tell you they stink to high heaven and unless you are breeding you don’t need them?”  And number three:  Don’t fuck with the guy to your south.  Don’t make him angry…. you wouldn’t like him when he’s angry.  He turns green and his body tears his clothes off and he smashes things.  Lastly…….  Your goat is going to get shot.

“3 times today that Dozer looking buck came over.  Once this morning and it was in the garden, second while I was unloading hay and the dogs chased it home.  They have earned their keep.  Sage was ridiculously cool.  Then I let the dogs out before going to bed.  Sage bolted and I saw a brown silhouette down by the donkey gate.  It was that same fucking goat.  It was tangled every which way in the garden netting.  I got my climbing rope out of the garage.  I had to be kind of mean to it.  Kneeled on it to get the rope around it’s neck, and I had to go back to the garage to get a cutter to cut the netting off of him because he had the netting in a birds-nest around it’s horns.  By this time I smelled like goat.  Kicking and screaming like a bitch (because I didn’t shoot it then and there) I took said lassoed goat across our north west pasture.  With the long rope he had enough lead that he jumped through the barbed wire fence and I couldn’t get him back through it.  I ended up going between the wire strands and ripped the shit out of my shirt….. twice – once in, once out.  Banged on the door…. no one home.  Went around the side of the house and fell on the concrete because I didn’t know there was a one step down on their walk way.  When I fell I lost the rope and the goat ran off.  At that time  Maria’s daughter and husband/boyfriend were coming up from a walk, I guess along the property line.  I totally let fly as bad as you’ve ever seen.  They are duly notified that if their bucks come on our property again I will shoot them dead.  3 times!!! Just today!!!  Pretty sure I scared her to death.”

Let the games begin.

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Here’s One You’ll Never Hear Told In The City Over Drinks

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Ah! Farm life!  Tank’s pink eye didn’t improve, so catch a goat, put goat in a dog crate. Put crate in car.  Next time bring ear plugs cuz goats scream.  Watch goat do back flips at the vet to try to escape.  Listen to more screams while getting injections and having eye lid sutured shut.  Put goat back in car.  While driving home have goat pee all over himself cuz that’s what bucks do.  Roll down windows in 95 degree heat to kill the smell in the car that you are taking up for your son to use cuz he got a new job at school.  Such is the life.  Tomorrow begins super-duty fly suppression cuz that’s what spreads it.  More goop to apply to his eye.  So much for weeding the gardens.  Glad plants are forgiving.

Garden Progress

When you have a problem, sit and stare at it for awhile and let your mind come up with the answers.  We have three issues that the eastern flat-landers don’t have:  1. Very dry air and desiccating wind, 2. Hail, and 3. Intense sun.  Last year’s drought really  pissed me off.  We lost virtually everything. Being who I am, I was not about to let that become a recurring theme; at least not without a fight.  So as you have seen with previous posts, we ran a high pressure hydrant to the garden areas which has jump started the drip irrigation.  We also built the hail guards and sun shade cloth on all the beds.  As of today, the hail guards have been successfully tested with inch sized ice and the shade cloth is doing exactly what it should.  None of the gardens looks stressed.  In fact, they are looking very healthy (along with the evil Bindweed).  My green beans have not come up and I think it’s because I used older seeds; so more are on the way and I’ll replant those when they arrive.  Even the frost bit tomatoes have all rebounded.  We are back on track.

Cucumbers:

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I even got Spinach to germinate this year!  It’s planted with the Cauliflower.

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A Bajillion Peppers from Bell to Habanero.

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Onions Galore

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Our usual forest of Garlic.  Scapes soon for Pesto and the actual harvest around July 4th.  This bed will get replanted with Green Beans.

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Much to my son’s displeasure, the Broccoli is luvin’ life!

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All of the tomatoes have snapped back from the frost.  It looks like we will be making plenty of sauce this year. There are 60 plants plus the cherries.

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The Black Beans are up.

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Future Coleslaw:

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Farmer Juan taking a break to rough-house with the boys.  They are the sweetest, most rambunctious guys ever.

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While Folks Try To Escape On The Expressway, We Played The Real Life Version Of Farmville

“Create a life you don’t need a vacation from.”  Good advice.  We went to town today for some barn odds and ends and the parade of RV’s getting out of Dodge for the long weekend was pretty impressive.  Pick-ups pulling trailers, pulling boats or ATVs, going 80 mph with their hair on fire to get to a campground somewhere where they can be closer to their neighbors than they are at home in the ‘burbs and with no fence between them.  The stress levels at the local burger joint were palpable.  We went to the ACE Hardware Store, got what we needed and took the back roads home thanking the creator the whole way that we like living on our homestead.

We were awakened this morning to a call from the Post Office to let us know that a chirping cardboard box was waiting for us.  It was fun because Zina had never done a chick pick up before.  You can hear them in the sorting room and people just grin at you as you leave with a box of peepers.  We got them home and did the usual initiation to the brooder:  Open the box, pick one out at a time, put some Vaseline on their butts to help prevent pasty butt, dip their heads in the waterer so you make sure they know how to drink, set them by the food and heat source, repeat.  Job one completed, check.

Next up, get the turkey grow-out coop operational.  We put the door on the pig hut that is now the turkey shelter, put wood chips down, got out the waterers and feeders, washed them and filled them.  Off to the basement to catch birds and put them in the cat carrier.  For the next week our four little teenage Bourbon reds will be in the hut and not out in the run.  This gives them a chance to settle in before emerging into the big scary world.

Off to the feed store next.  We needed to resupply the basics, but we also ordered a ton of organic pig grower feed.  Now that the little oinkers have proven their heartiness (they didn’t die) we need the higher protein feed to get them up to weight, which takes about 6 months.  Organic feed ain’t cheap and it’s damned near impossible to find by the single bag, so 50, 40 lb. bags of specially mixed feed will be here in a week.  It would be nice to have a fork lift to unload it, but alas, that machine is named Jon.

Prior to getting the chicks, it was also the day to adjust the incubator settings – Up the relative humidity, lower the temperature.  If all goes according to plan, we should have more turkey babies hatching on Memorial Day.  Because of this impending event, son Aaron got the second tank rolled out to the barn for their brooder.  We’ll get the heat lamps, feeders and waterers out there tomorrow so all will be ready.  Ever see a diaper for baby turkeys?  They are really small.

Unexpectedly, the FEDEX guy showed up.  We really didn’t know why he was here.  Surprisingly, the shade cloth sheets I had ordered showed up a week early!  I tied one on to test it and they are  going to work great!  So tomorrow we will be finishing up the turkey brooder, doing critter chores, putting up the shade cloth on the raised beds before settling into a week of planting.  The plants in the greenhouse survived the freak cold snap.  They look a little shocked, but I’ve seen them snap back from worse.  It’s supposed to be in the 70’s and mostly sunny for the next week.  Time to get the roots in the ground.

So that’s what our vacation time looks like.  Now to sit on the beach with my foo-foo drink.  Maybe make some S’mores.

Baby Jersey Giants in their new home:

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Baby turkeys freaked out about their move:

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The new shade cloth for the garden beds:

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A boy and his donkeys.  He was happy and relieved to have passed all his engineering exams.  Now for a couple of weeks of recuperation before summer classes begin:

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Farmer Engineering

When something works do it a lot!  We were so pleased with how the second turkey coop worked out by using dog kennel panels that we decided to make one for the chickens.  Ya, ya, I know….. so much for the projects being over with.  There’s always something.  After all, there was some empty space…. it had to get used! Because of the “help” the boy goats were being while setting it up, I took a full on jolt from the electric fence!  Thanks boys!  I could feel it run through both arms.  Makes ya jump and cuss!  6700 volts!

We are messing with the idea of having a “by invitation” business here, as well as hatching and raising our own birds for chicken, eggs and turkey.  Because we have so much room, we thought we could include some friends, co-workers and ex-clients (Financial advisor turned chicken rancher!  The lassos are really tiny.).  They get the most awesome meat and eggs organically raised in Colorado, and it, in turn, would pay our feed costs.  Other than a bunch more birds to process (and maybe pigs), along with some general bean counting, it wouldn’t be much more than we are doing now.  Stay tuned!

So the process with these additional coops happen thusly:  Hatch chicks, put the chicks in the warm brooder for 4 weeks until fully feathered, transfer them to the new grow-out coops until they are about 80% the size of the rest of the outdoor flock so they don’t get beaten up too badly, then transfer them to the main coops where the existing grown up birds get processed and sent to freezer camp.  This goes for both the broilers and the layers.  We also have the chicken tractor that we would likely put the “store bought” fast growers in. It can handle up to 30 at a time.

So, we may at some point put together a website/JAZ Farm Facebook page listing times to sign up for the number of birds wanted.  Eggs will be whatever we can provide and ramped up if needed.  Turkeys will be hatched and ordered in the spring for November harvest and we can add to the menu as we go.  A work in progress for sure.  Now that everything here is built and works, I figured I needed something to do with myself.  This might be fun.  If it isn’t…. shift gears.  This is the one result of the spring retreat that resulted from staring at and thinking about something long enough.  After all, it’s not like I don’t know how to run a business.

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In memory of Miz Katherine the barn cat.  Got badly bitten by a coyote.  Left her at the vet this morning.  Wherever you are, may there be mice.

Imported Labor Out In The Field

We wanted to be able to let the two little boy goats graze and mow down the garden area where we will be putting in an orchard.  They evidently like the vegetation because they have absolutely mowed down the little pasture they are currently in, goatheads, bind weed and all!  In order to do that we needed to make one part of the fence a bit higher to dissuade the little jumpers from jumping, and mount a gate so they couldn’t push it over and escape.  This is almost a two acre enclosure with all the best salad bar fixin’s so they aren’t likely to want to leave, but the worst things always happen if you leave it to chance.  Luck favors the prepared, so we prepared.  Of course it took most of the day.  The day is done.  Dozer and Tank are loving their new job…. eating anything and everything.  They will be left to their devices throughout the summer.  As the orchard progresses we will just cordon off the areas I don’t want them to be in with portable fences.

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The broiler chickens are coming along well.  They have been pretty easy this year.  We are looking at moving away from the Cornish Crosses (aka Frankenbirds) to start hatching out our own heritage birds.  We have primarily Buff Orpingtons for layers and they would double well as meat birds but we are also going to try Jersey Giants that were bred to be broilers.  They take longer to grow,  but that will free us from having to order chicks anymore.  At this point we have the stock to breed our turkeys and layers.  The heritage broilers will come later this year.

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AAA92339-B392-4B1E-9D9E-6039A24B7E06Our newly born turkey babies are getting their wing tips and starting to become a bit more sure of their legs.  A couple more weeks and they go out to their grow out pen.  We are incubating about 18 more.  Turkeys lay seasonally and we have seen a marked decline in egg laying.  This last batch in the incubator is probably our last turkey clutch until fall.

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6D753C4A-2921-4E74-AE7F-6CCD3AD04E3BThe little oinkers are getting less and less scared everyday.  Today they came outside the hut to eat and did a few laps around the grounds to see the new big world before running back inside, falling down and taking yet another nap.

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So spring is in full tilt.  All of the garden beds are ready for planting.  I need to install the remaining drip irrigation, but that’s pretty easy.  We are expecting cool weather with a chance of rain everyday next week.  I have to teach a tomato growing class next Saturday and that will be the end of my professorial tasks for the year.  Oh ya, we suspect our little doe, Ginger, is with child.  Maybe we will have babies in the fall!