Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Let's Browse


Hubby has been wanting a drive to the mountains for a long time so when Mountain Lodge Farm bought our darling Northern Belle we offered to give her a ride to their farm.  Sunday was a beautiful day for a drive that was interrupted occasionally by the loud bleating of a baby who just left her momma. A big fat baby but a baby nonetheless.
To say Mountain Lodge Farm is beautiful is an understatement. For this goat farmer it was heaven on earth. Beautiful goats, beautiful barn, beautiful buildings. Again an understatement. 
One of their practices that is as old as time is their daily browse walks. This is what gives their cheeses the flavor of the land. I'd heard about the browse walks so was pretty pleased when standing in the goat pen Sherwin asked if we'd like to go on a walk. Of course. Out the back gate with two big guardian dogs and a whole bunch of goats we headed up the hill to browse. The leaf of choice seemed to be the crunchy maple leaves that are falling all over the place. The goats got right down to business and gobbled up the flora.
Standing on that hillside in the sun talking goats surrounded by goats and dogs...once again heaven on earth.
Sherwin gave us a tour of the farm that ended up in the cheese room where Cheesemaker Meghan is a master at making a delicious array of farmstead cheeses.We left with some Tipsoo, a creamy cheese made from a blend of goat and cow milk with a surprisingly cheesy taste. I loved it. We also tried Wonderland (I just love the name) which I also loved but gave a big slice to my foodie friend who said it was the best thing to pass through her lips....then started planning what wine to pair with it.

Northern Belle was settled in her stall and really seemed to be appreciating her new surroundings. I'd given her a talk as I drug her to the car. I told her she was going to a very nice place and would someday thank me for letting her go live at a big beautiful farm in the shadow of the mountain.


Speaking of the mountain......it wasn't open. Government shutdown and all.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Fall, Fair, and Fun

 
I am back at school and although the days are still hot you can smell fall in the air. That means it's fair time. I  smell the scones now. We will be taking four goats this year, Cora Belle, Northern Belle, Coraline, and our new girl Red Rupee. All goats have had their fair haircuts and we are working on walking and standing without acrobatic moves. Coraline will be a challenge no matter how much we practice.
This year is a test. Can I stop being so competitive and just go and have fun? That's the big question. The fair has grown and become a state fair with a fancy goat show. Exhibitors will come from all over...even out of state. It is going to be fun meeting people from all over but that means more nice goats. We have to step up our game. I fight the feeling that if I can't win I don't want to go. Isn't that a poor sport? But yes I've been known to be a poor sport...just ask the goatfarmer at Herron Hill. She has seen me at my worst. Ok it was 10 pm and we had only been in one of the three rings and I was getting tired and my well trained goat was walking on the ceiling but a poor sport I was.
So this year I'm going to go and have fun. I will smile and congratulate the winners. I am going to chat with my fellow exhibitors, watch the people go by, and eat scones. Lots of scones.

See you at the fair. We will be there Sept. 20-22nd.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

What a Year

 
I have been so incredibly busy that the blog has been put on the back burner but what an incredible year for Minter Bay Dairy Goats. Six of our babies and one doe, Buttons, has gone to live at the Pt. Defiance Zoo. It was quite a process to go through to be a zoo vender but worth every minute. My goats are now enjoyed by everyone and they, the goats, love it. In my simple life this is my legacy. I've been a goat girl my whole life and to breed and raise these goats for my local zoo has been a fun project. OK maybe not toward the end when I was bottle feeding all the babies and the zoo was getting picky about their fecals and I kept them a few weeks longer. Anyone with screaming babies can understand the need for them to "just go". And go they did. The zoo has been wonderful to them and has even had quite an extensive campaign to advertise their arrival at the zoo. I even heard there was a billboard on I-5 around Fife with their picture on it. I went to go see it but darn technology was against me. Apparently it was a digital billboard that was always changing. It was on the tigers every time I went by and there are only so many times I can drive through that traffic just to see a billboard.
After all is said and done, two moments come to mind as really special.

Getting to share the debut of the goats at the zoo with my mom....




and when we were there three rather large young men came by to see the goats. They wondered if they could pet them. The zoo keeper asked them if they would like to come in and brush the goats and one said, "We'd like nothing better". As those three young men walked into the pen they turned into 8 year old boys.
My goats being enjoyed by all ages. I like nothing better.

 
Another highlight of the summer has been Cora Belle's Top Ten status. She is now an ADGA breed leader. Which means she makes a lot of milk for a Nigerian. We worked very hard for this prestigious title, Cora Belle and I. She maybe working slightly harder than me. Two of her kids this year went off to be herdsires at two fine cheese making dairies. We are very proud of our local girl.


Well kidding season is well over with a lot of nice babies born and we are gearing up for the Washington State Fair.
And I only have one word for that.
Scones.

 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Kaleidoscope

Kaleidoscope, better known as Lexi, died yesterday at the age of 12. She was my first Nigerian along with her wether brother, Harlequin. What can I say about Lexi? She was just a darn nice goat. Although bred a million times(she really liked the boys) she never had kids. Other than making a few trips to see her boyfriend at a neighboring dairy, she never left our farm. She was never shown, never clipped, never milked. She had the perfect life. She died peacefully in her own bed. What more could anyone of us want?

Rest in peace little goat girl.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Barn Cats


Several months ago, right after Hubby's accident, I was driving our truck when I noticed it was running really rough. Being a fairly new truck we took it in to be serviced under the warranty. Trouble is the warranty doesn't cover a rat chewing all the wiring under the hood. With the truck sitting for several weeks a rat took up residence in the engine. $600 dollars later we got the truck back and Hubby was determined to not let it happen again. He wanted a cat.

We haven't had a cat here in years. I was tired of losing them to coyotes and the road so decided not to have an outdoor cat anymore. I have two cats at the farm but the llamas seem to keep them safe from the coyotes that roam our streets at night and early morning ridding the neighborhood of their beloved cats and small dogs that are not watched when let out of the house early in the morning.
Hubby set out scouring Craigslist for a cat. Now my idea was to get a couple of feral cats from the rescue group. They come spayed or neutered with shots etc....and don't want in the house.

I didn't move fast enough. My son and his dad found a cat on Craigslist, made an appointment to meet the owner at Safeway, and came home with not one cat but two. The other was "going to the pound" what else could they do.
House cats.
That want to be in the house. Not at all what I had in mind.

We kept those two cats in the old bathroom for 2 weeks and then moved them to the garage when the weather warmed. They weren't out in the garage twenty minutes when they caught the rat and laid him by the door so we could trip over it.
Hubby was pretty happy with his cats.
I too have grown to love his new kitties and they come and go through the house sometimes sleeping on my bed. But they also catch a lot of mice and small rats. We live in the woods and apparently the rodents were close to taking over.
The other day I saw the small black kitty sit quietly by a fresh mole hill. I told her she'd get canned cat food every day for the rest of her life if she caught that mole. Moles have been plaguing me for years. I hoped she would get one. When I got home that afternoon there was no mole.
We have been putting the cats in the garage at night because of the roving coyote pack. Last  night I forgot. Yes I went to bed without putting the cats away.

I felt so guilty.
Then I went outside this morning and saw what they had been doing all night my guilt shifted to joy.
Three dead moles. Just like that.

His house cats are the best barn cats ever.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Test Driving

 
Bridget and Frances, granddaughters of a friend, came to the farm to see the babies.  Each baby had a turn being held and getting used to those short little people called children.

Hazelnut's tiny buckling was the favorite I think.

Bridget and Twinkle..as in Star

Frances and Sweet Pea

Hazelnut and family

Northern Belle

Sweet Pea


Mister No Name

ZooDoo

PeeWee

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Best Kidding Ever



We just had the best kidding ever at Minter Bay Dairy Goats. Hazelnut was showing signs of kidding this morning and I had to go to work. I could check on her at lunch but emailed the farmer at Herron Hill Dairy and let her know "the Nut" was kidding and could she come by and take a peek. I was able to check her at lunch and not much was happening so I went back to work. At some point in the afternoon my iPad pinged and I saw an email that said "I'm here" About and hour later another ping and a picture of Hazelnut....and her two kids. All born, dried off and resting. My 5th grade boys reading group cheered and high fived and helped me celebrate.
Bucklings, one buckskin with blue eyes and wattles and one cobby little black and white spotted blue eyed boy. Just what the zoo ordered.


Easiest kidding ever. Oh how I love technology.

Thanks goatfarmer, I needed that.


He has his mother's eyes





Sunday, May 5, 2013

Belles and Whistles

 
Wedding Belles did it again. Two of the most perfect kids to have been born on the farm. All spotty with blue eyes and wattles and with conformation so correct it takes my breath away. I keep telling myself it is important to get the zoo correct beautiful Nigerians.

Wedding Belles' Buckling

Sweet Pea the doeling

 I can't keep them all...can I?

Sweet and Sour

Boots as a baby
Yesterday was the much anticipated day of the kidding of the zoo babies. The weather was perfect at about 70 degrees. I knew Wedding Belles would kid. She suddenly had that oh my gosh look to her udder and her normally quiet self was yelling at the top of her lungs. I took a half day off to baby watch. Before too long Wedding Belles produced a spotty blue eyed doeling followed by a spotty blue eyed buckling. Easy as pie.

Sweet.

As I was cleaning up from Wedding Belles babies I noticed that Boots was pawing and pacing. Before too long she laid down to push. She hadn't pushed very much
 when she delivered two long front legs and no head. I reach in and found the head way back but could not get the head to stay in the right position to be born. I called my friend and fellow goat farmer who just happens to have very small hands and asked her to please come. She pulled her little girl off the school bus and the two of them flew to my rescue. But alas she had the same problem.
Boots was loaded up in the jeep and rushed to the vet where they tried and tried but to no avail. At least they had drugs to dull her pain and then ultimately put her out of her misery. We delivered the dead kids C Section. These were my zoo babies.
Two spotty blue eyed bucklings....just what I'd ordered.
Sour

Rest in peace my dear little Boots.

Boots a couple of weeks ago


 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Round Two

Well my hair is cut so I'm ready for round two of kidding. I really should have planned this a little better and not had them all kid during our school's week of MSP standardized testing. I'm proctoring (torturing children) so I can't get a sub. I am lucky to be within a couple of blocks from the farm and can run down on my lunch hour, which is only a half an hour, but I wonder what goat farmers that work off the farm do during kidding. I keep telling myself that goats have babies all the time by themselves but I was raised to worry.

I have worrying down to an art.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Girl Next Door

Our new little goat, Skipper, is in love with Jenny Goat, the neighbor's old fat goat. She is mean as H E double hockey sticks.


He better be careful what he wishes for....

Friday, April 26, 2013

Zoo Babies


Back in July, when Willow's little Blackberry was born, my friend brought her friend out to see the baby llama. Her friend is a vet tech for the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium. Apparently she went back to the zoo and told of my wonderful colorful baby goats to the keepers at the Kid Zone.  The head keeper contacted me, came out to see my goats, then started the process of setting me up to be an official "zoo vender". It has been a ten month process but like she said, "the zoo doesn't do anything fast".  I am pretty excited to have some of my colorful babies for all the world to see.

Last week, I had an appointment to visit with the keepers and see the areas they will be keeping the babies.  The keeper that I have been working with was called away to an animal behavior seminar so I met with Natalie, the zoo biologist. When she met me at the gate she said, "Are you Wendy?" when I said I was she said, " You just looked like someone who likes goats" Oh man....I try really hard not to. I know she meant it as a compliment but I'm going to have to make that appointment for a haircut and spend some of my money on clothes and not a new herdsire.
We started out with a tour of the hospital where all the lions, tiger, and bears have their treatments and surgery. I would have loved to see a large animal having surgery.....I saw a budgie.

I was then shown the quarantine area where the babies will spend the first month. It is big and airy and I'm sure they are going to enjoy all the special treatment that they will get while waiting for their public debut in the Kid Zone.
Next we made our way to Kid Zone goat area. It looked like a lot of fun for a goat. Tables and stumps to climb on, a huge scratching brush, a hut to get away from annoying children, and all painted in bright fun colors. Everything was clean, well organized, and a farmer's dream. Imagine going into the barn and having all the supplies you are ever going to need right at your fingertips. I have a thing for spreading clean shavings and I saw a mountain of shavings bales that took my breath away. I looked with a critical eye and only saw the best of care and organization.

They have a wipe board for everything.

I have three does bred to kid within three days of one another. We need 4 bucks out of these three does. We expect the kids to arrive the first of May.


I'd better fit in a haircut before then.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Kids these days

Yesterday I couldn't get my computer at school to work. I ran around the building looking for our tech support guy that I'd seen earlier. I found him as he was rushing out the door. I told him my computer wasn't working and I needed help. He told me to call the help line because he was late getting to another school.
Dejected I walked back to my desk. I didn't have time to call the help line. I had to get back to my students.
As I sat at my table with my 3rd grade "special ed" student he looked at my computer screen and said "I can fix that"
And he did.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Out of Hibernation


Well according to my family who is tired of reading about Wendy the Turtle it is time to shake out the cobwebs and dust off the blog.  A lot is happening around the farm this spring. We have had at times a difficult winter with surgeries and the loss of our two dogs weeks apart but we have survived and are going into spring and summer with lots of energy for milking goats and making cheese.

Cora Belle kidded a couple of weeks ago with the three prettiest babies ever born on the farm. I mean ever. Two bucks and a doe in my favorite colors. She is milking enough to feed three babies and give me some for cheese. I have three does, Wedding Belles, Hazelnut, and Boots, due the first week of May. All together. I'm calling these my zoo babies. The Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium has ordered up to 4 wethers from me for their Kid Zone. I am very excited to have my babies at the zoo.


This is the only time you will hear me say I'm hoping for bucks this year.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Wendy the Turtle


 Wendy the turtle has lived at the school for at least 20 years now. She has been the classroom pet for many a classroom. I have always had a fondness for Wendy because we happen to share the same name. The custodian, Wendy,  feels the same way. Wendy the turtle loves Wendy the custodian. She gives her cranberries.
Recently Wendy needed a new home so I brought her to my area and set her by my fish. The kids are in love with her. She can be seen by all the kids now and seen she is. A class will walk by and the teacher will lose half of them because they've stopped to see Wendy the turtle.


Known for her yoga poses, Wendy is a River Cooter I'm told. She is over 20 years old. She loves cranberries.



 

And she loves kids.












 She's a beautiful creature that has spent many years teaching children to value a life. Although she has put in over 20 years she's not ready to retire.


 There will always be children to teach.

 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Here We Go Again


After the sudden loss of our beautiful Stormy, we didn't know if we wanted another dog. After a few dogless walks I knew we wouldn't last long before we got another dog. My son feeling bad for his dad called Charlotte at Conway Kennels, the kennel that trained Stormy to be the awesome hunter she was, and asked her about available dogs or puppies. She did have a litter and she also had a couple of older pups. So with the knowledge that Conway had a 15 month old female pup that didn't quite make it in the field trial world we headed up to Camano Island to visit my dad and his wife and make a side trip to Conway to look at dogs.

Talk about a good day.....pizza and 3 generations dog shopping . That's the way to my heart for sure.

After a delicious lunch we drove over to see the dog(s). Before we saw her I had my heart on Kay the young female. Conway Kennel is a beautiful training and boarding facility on 80 acres in the heart of the Skagit Valley farmlands. Their specialty is hunting and field trial dogs.  They trained Stormy years ago and there was not a better trained personal hunting dog around. They also trained my dad's perfect dog, Sophie.
Well, needless to say, we brought that young dog home for a trial basis and it is safe to say she's not going back. She's got a big motor but since Keith is known to do some extreme hunting she will be able to keep up. She is smart and willing and just might motivate me to get back into the obedience ring.


So meet Minter Bay Special K. We call her K. I must have suggested a million times to  Keith that he could change her name but he likes it and it's his dog so it's growing on me. I've called her Stormy too many times.
She was bred at Conway and her sire is a field champion and her mother is out of a National Ch. so her pedigree says this dog hunts!
We are very excited to welcome her home to our family. Thanks Conway for this beautiful sweetie with a big motor.

We hope to make you proud.


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas


                                                                 Happy Christmas

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Goat Girl

When I was 11 years old I begged my mom for a baby goat. As you might guess she did get me one and then enrolled me in 4H. Along with my record books I got a copy of a book called Dairy Goats-Breeding/ Feeding / Management. I read that book front to back. I spent many a night flopped on my bed reading about feed, minerals, hoof rot, kidding, and ADGA scorecards.
I have no idea what happened to that book and wouldn't have even thought about it if I hadn't seen a copy on ebay while hunting for something else.
I had to have it to put in my barn so I bid and battled back and forth a few dollars here and there and won a chunk of my childhood.
It came the other day. I opened it up and started reading the old familiar typed pages. I turned a page and caught my breath. It was the closest I have ever had to a deja vu experience. I had been there before. I wasn't 52 with tired feet, I was 12 years old pouring over a book about my favorite subject. In that split second I could feel my bedroom in the house I grew up in. I know it sounds crazy but remember I"ve been cooped up with a broken hyperactive husband for the last 6 weeks. It was bound to happen.
Here is the manuel I learned how to farm goats with.

 
 
 
It has informative drawings
 
 
    \The milking stand I wished my dad built for me.

 

This one is just as disturbing today as it was then.
 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Flippin' Pigs

One of Keith's chores is doing the pig flip so I can trim their hooves. With Keith out of commission and with the hooves needing trimming I took a couple of friends up on their offer to come help.  I'd do the flipping and Molly would do the trimming. Molly trains horses, she can handle a couple of short-legged  pigs.
I had never been the pig flipper so I was a little nervous. They are heavier than I thought and there is really nothing to hang on to. The idea is to come up behind them, grab their front legs and then gently lay them back in your lap.

video
 
It is a chore I spend more time thinking about than it  actually takes to do. I think when you see it you will understand.


 
video




We tend to draw a bit of attention when flippin pigs.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Say Grace


   Almost 11 years ago, I came out of the bathroom at a local dog show in which I was competing in obedience with my sheltie, Miles, and there was the most beautiful dog I'd ever seen. His name was Paris. I told the woman on the other end of the leash I wanted a dog that looked just like him. She told me she had a litter of puppies and gave me her card. I tried not to call her. According to Keith we didn't need another dog...especially another hairy barky Sheltie. I didn't listen to him and before he knew it I was going to look at that litter of puppies. I had my choice between two females. I chose the smaller girl with the two black ears. The other puppy went on to be a champion and was sold to someone in Korea for $50,000.  The story of my life.

That is how Wynstone's Say Grace came to live with us. She was adorable and wormed her way into Keith's heart in spite of all that hair. Everyone loved Grace and Grace loved everyone. People would say something like "Oh she really likes me" as she was up on them licking their neck. I wouldn't have the heart to tell them she did that to everyone. Grace had a whole list of people that suggested she come live with them "if anything happens to you".

 
Bought as an obedience dog, she made it quite clear she didn't really care for that obedience thing. She was known to just leave...and no amount of positive reinforcements brought her back.

Right in the middle of Keith's big accident, Grace started to cough. When I had a chance I took her to see the vet. I was worried because our vet of 28 years had retired and sold his practice to a couple of new vets but I was very pleased to meet Dr. Josh. He was compassionate and practical. He had to deliver the bad news that Grace had cancer and her body as filling with fluid. She had very compromised lung function. He talked about some options but we both agreed no good would come of it. I brought her home and she lasted 9 days. She was spoiled those 9 days and got one more walk to the farm.
I was having a hard time with the big decision.
Grace was still eating, drinking, running, and barking, she just couldn't breath.  I took her back and saw the other very compassionate, practical partner, Dr.
Dean. He helped me make the big decision. Grace was suffering. I had to let her go but I tell you this, Grace knew what was happening. I told the vet that she knew what was going on and he said

"I know she knows"


Grace never gave anyone a moment of grief. She was, and I know it is said a lot but this time it is true,  the best dog.