Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle...Revisited

I have finished reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and for the second time Barbara Kingsolver has changed my way of thinking. I wonder if she knows what an impact her writing has on people's lives? The first time was when I read Poisonwood Bible, for reasons I won't go into, and now with Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. I found it a very enjoyable read. It is full of facts on food and stories about her adventures eating locally for a year. I must admit I didn't like her husband and daughter's parts in the book. Neither have her wordsmith abilities and I found them downright boring and skipped over them just to get back to Barbara. I plan on reading the book again so maybe will give them another try.
I have really taken this eating locally to heart. I am now buying much more local food like milk, cheeses, potatoes and anything else I could find. But I was on a mission to find locally grown, organic beef. A few years ago, I read an article in our local paper about a family that raised organic beef in a small town nearby called Home. Yes, Home, Washington. Isn't that quaint?
I was interested then but never did anything about it until now and now I couldn't find their phone number. But in the mail the other day was a community ad flyer and there they were Everett Family Farm. Dean Everett and his family raise Reg. Red Poll cattle on their farm in Home and sell organic, humanely raised, USDA inspected beef. I went to his shop in town and met this white haired, sightly absentminded friendly guy that I was happy to give my business to. I bought the Family Pack and brought it home to my freezer took out 2 T-bone steaks and barbecued them up for my Doubting Thomas. They were the best steaks I have had anywhere, anytime, anyhow! Doubting Thomas ate his words right along with his sauteed onions.
It feels great doing my part in reducing my carbon footprint and supporting my local farmers. And in the bargain I get healthier better tasting food.

I wonder what else Barbara will talk me into.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Koo's Surprise

For a year or so we have been casually looking for a companion for Koo. I have called on a few but it hasn't been the right situation. Usually there are two that need a home and I didn't want to take on two and have Koo be odd llama out. We even decided we really didn't need another llama.
While cruising around on craigslist I saw the most beautiful llama I had ever seen. He was the color of a calico kitty. Bright splotches of distinct colors all over his body. I could just picture him in my pasture. I emailed right away. Unfortunately I emailed from school and it didn't go through. Apparently the powers that be decided that llama shopping was not an appropriate use of the school computer. By the time I got an email through he was gone. His owner said she had some lovely babies coming up but they were well bred and would be a whole lot more. I kindly declined since we are not interested in breeding or fiber and wanted to wait for one that just needed a home. She said she would pass my name along.
Enter...Kate the llama gal. She got my name from someone and emailed me with a name of a lady that had a llama that needed a home.
Enter...LeeAnna the Alpaca lady that got the llama to guard the alpacas.
Enter....Chilean's Penne Pasta an 11 year old spayed female llama that doesn't give a rip about guarding alpacas. Her story goes like this........
Penne, as her friends call her, was a lovely show llama making a name for herself in the llama world. She was bred and produced her first cria. Unfortunately the cria was deformed in some way. I was told what it had but have forgotten. Anyway because of the chance of this happening again Penne was promptly spayed and put out to pasture, so to speak. She was bought by someone and put in with goats. I am told she loved her goats. Thinking she would guard alpacas too she was bought by LeeAnna to guard her herd of 25 pregnant alpacas. Penne has failed at this job. She thinks those alpacas can just look after themselves while she is over eating all their hay. Now because they are pregnant they are free fed 24/7, so Penne helps herself 24/7. She is getting fatter and the alpacas aren't getting as much as they need. LeeAnna is looking for a home for Penne and thinks we would fit the bill. We have goats and we don't, heaven forbid, free feed.
Enter.....The Problem....Penne is on Whidbey Island, a long drive, plus a ferry ride away. I was told that Penne could ride in my mini van with the back seats out. I was also told, at all costs, to avoid taking a trailer on the ferry. We were all set to make the journey to the island to get her when the van started acting up. It was time for a new car and I didn't want another mini van. Those days are over! I traded my van in on a cute Jeep Liberty with no room for a cushing llama. I felt bad but could not wait on getting a vehicle for a llama. I emailed LeeAnna and told her I had sold my van. Her van was broke down too. We tried to come up with an alternative method but it was involving renting something and was all too complicated. I don't do complicated. So it looked like Penne was staying on the island.
Enter again.....Kate the llama gal, who's motto is, We LOVE happy llamas, and we love happy llama owners. She has volunteered her time to give Penne a ride to my place. What a gal. If everything goes as planned Penne will be here on March 8th or 9th.
Wonder what Koo will think?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Letting Nature Take It's Course

Ruckus is starting to notice the girls..............

But this is what the girls think of him...........

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Let's Hear It For The Boys

There are three wethers that call our small farm home. Moly, the pygmy that came to stay when his pasture mate died and Rowdy and Riot, the first Nigerian babies I had and couldn't part with. They were so tiny and precious. The neighbor made me an offer but I refused. They have grown to be much larger than any self respecting Nigerian should be and eat more than their fair share. But will follow you anywhere, and stick their noses into all of your business. I am glad that they stayed.
I feel a bit sorry for the wether in general. The by product of goat raising that people buy as pets and then lose interest in a few years later. I see a lot of them advertised lately. They always say "good home only, not for meat"
I know a lady that raises goats for meat. We talked about selling the babies for meat and she said that she felt better about selling the wethers for meat because they had a good life up until that point and so many wethers live terrible lives and are passed around. I got her point.
I remember a Saanen wether, at my brother-in-law's farm, that was tied to a tire. He was hired out to eat blackberries. So he spent all day tied to a tire that he had to drag around. Then off to the next farm. Poor Buster.

No worries. We have our share of useless males around here.

There is and white belted boy with a couple of snaggle horns. Good dehorn gone bad. He's the snoopy one. Always has to have his nose between the hammer and the nail.

There is Riot......because he is a riot of color. He has always been a bit standoffish. As a baby I did the TTellington Touch on him. Anyone heard of that? Well it worked wonders. He now enjoys being touched.

Then there is Moly................Saint Moly as he is known here. You will not find a sweeter goat. He is in touch with his feminine side. See the earrings? What a place for wattles!

And Koo (not a wether but the llama version of one)............tall and stately but runs at the sight of a pig. What will he do to a coyote? Heaven only knows.

So let's hear it for the boys. They just want to be that so wrong?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Never Leave a Chihuahua Unattended

The day was bright and sunny. We were off to get hay with Stormy in the backseat and Solomon in the front. With a quick stop for a mocha latte , one with whip one without, and two dog biscuits, we were on our way. We pulled into our friendly neighborhood drive thru feed store and were met with candy bars and two more dog biscuits. We loaded the hay and were on our way. There is nothing a goatgirl likes better than riding in a truck with her honey, two dogs, a mocha latte and a load of hay in the back. Pure heaven.
We get home and I jump out to open the gate. Hubby drives through and jumps out by the large cedar tree and ducks behind it. Seems the large mocha latte was taking effect. As he stood behind the tree taking care of business he heard a familiar click. He knew that was the sound of the door of his truck.....locking. He came around the tree to find Solomon, grinning from ear to ear, standing on the lock button. Engine running and all of our keys, mine included, in the truck.
We spent the next ten minutes trying to get him to step on the button and unlock it. If you held a leaf or stick up to the window in just the right spot he would come over to look and would walk on the button. He just relocked it about 10 times and then got bored and jumped up on the console, turned around twice and laid down. I decided to run over to my neighbor's house and get my house key that she keeps and get in the house. I knew I had a keyless entry for the truck in there.
But by the time I got back the truck was parked by the hay shed ready to unload. Seems Hubby did get Solomon to stand on the window button, and once triggered, unrolled the window. What a guy. What a dog.
It was a perfect day.

Chicken Shopping

The chicken coop is ready. It's clean and waiting for the new hens to make themselves at home. Trouble is there are no hens to be found. I decided I wanted to get young hens and not raise chicks. It would take too long to start getting eggs. The two banty hens "The Ladies" are laying but I need more eggs than two wee eggs a day. Especially since I have people asking for eggs and my plan is to sell enough eggs to pay for their feed. A student at school's mother has been asking me, for the longest time, if I am ready for some hens. I told her the coop wasn't ready because Hubby filled that great space with firewood. Last weekend we got the wood out and I body blocked the entrance so Hubby couldn't fill that great space back up with wood. I called her and said I was ready for the hens and, wouldn't you know, she doesn't have any ready. Her husband sent a chick catolog over and said he was doing an order and I could add to it.
Wow, chicken overload. I have never seen so many interesting chickens. I wanted three of this and three of that. It was hard not to go chicken wild. I decided I wanted a rare, old breed, a heavy breed that does well in the cold, a calm friendly chicken and was pretty to look at. The chickens have a rating like, Recovering, Endangered, Threatened etc. So then of course I wanted to choose a threatened hen.
I chose....drum roll please...

The Light Brahma..........
and the Speckled Sussex......

I don't know why I chose these, they caught my eye and fit all my criteria, but so did many others. If I was going to order chicks I wanted something unusual. I like the idea of using old breeds and the Speckled Sussex is very old. So we shall see. In the meantime, I will look for some young hens close by. I would still like a few Araucanas and Buff Orpingtons. I don't like to have to wait but someone once told me that an intelligent person can delay gratification so I'm working on that.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Animal Update

Not much happening around here. Nothing new. It has caused a bit of writer's block. My mom called tonight and asked, like she always does, "What's new?" We always laugh then because we can't think of a darn thing. It's winter and cold. I have lots of things I could do but don't. I am sitting by the woodstove, with Chihuahua in my lap, knitting and watching a lot of T.V.
I am knitting a bag for the girlfriend. It is the same wool that I used for her hat. It has llama in it and is so wonderful to knit with, soft and smooth like butter, and then when felted the llama fiber sticks out a bit. It's a belated birthday gift because it is taking me so long to knit it.

The diet seems to be working with the goat herd. Lexi is much thinner and down to a perfect weight. Semi Sweet is still a bit portly but headed in the right direction. She has been so busy looking for a husband the last few months that she is driving us, and the other goats, crazy. Ruckus is still such a baby. He is starting to get the idea but is going to need a step ladder to do anything about it. I would really like it to happen so I can get babies, at this point, by late summer.
I have been working on getting his papers in order and it looks like those are on the way. I was getting in a bit of a panic because I'm a paperwork kind of girl. I like to keep track of the paperwork and rarely lose anything. But it is sometimes a lesson in patience trying to wade through all the rules and regulations of registrations when more than one person is involved. So Ruckus is now registered, officially, but "It's in the mail."

The pig sisters are recovering from a bout of....gasp....sarcoptic mange. Sounds terrible and I feel great shame when I say it but it's true. My pigs had mange. I have no idea how they came to get it but get it they did. I started to notice that their little feet were red and bumpy like an allergic reaction. I thought they were allergic to something. I tried everything. Then they started to lose their hair. That's not good when it's down in the 20's & 30's at night. So I did what every modern farmer does and emailed a pig lady in Bakersfield.
She said "Mange"
I said "Yuck!"
But it is easy enough to cure. Just worm with Ivermectin. I even had some on hand. I put it in a hollowed out banana and threw a piece to each girl. Daphne inhaled hers. Fiona inhaled hers also but promptly spit it out and nosed it around. She was just getting ready to leave it when Daphne came around the corner, ready to steal it, and Fiona snatched it up and choked it down. I needed to follow it up with another dose a few weeks later. I had to hide it in an apple this time because you can't fool a pig twice.
I am starting to see the slightest bit of stiff fuzz coming back on the girls' brow so I am hoping we are over our embarassing problem.

The ladies have started laying again and are laying under the llama manger. Easy to find. I almost have the wood cleared out of the shed that I will put my new hens in. It was made for pheasants when hubby raised his own birds and is secure. Even the floor has wire so nothing can dig up through. We have had that problem before with my son's homing pigeons. He had racing homers he loved so much he wouldn't take them out and let them race because he was afraid he wouldn't get them back. One morning he went out to feed them and something had dug under and killed every one of his beloved birds. Even the babies in the nests were headless. That was one sad boy.

Then there is Koo. He is so regal and has many admirers. Koo likes to stand out by the road and people stop and look at him. I have started to see small bits of apple left on the fence for him. I am sure they are left by an old couple that walks every day. I would like to get another llama but haven't found the right one. I always seem to come across a road block. I found a female that's perfect but she is a ways away and involves a ferry ride. It was getting too complicated so I passed. I hope to find one a little closer.
He doesn't seem to mind his life in the meantime.

Me too, I don't mind my life at all.

Friday, February 1, 2008

7 Things You May Or May Not Know About Me

Six months ago I didn't even know what a blog was and now I am playing blog tag. So I have been tagged and am suppose to tell you 7 things you don't know about me. The problem is I don't know anyone to tag in return and am challenged computer wise so the game stops with me. Sorry.
So here goes..........
1. I'm tall
2. I like anything green
3. I hate noise
4. I married my high school sweetheart
5. I train dogs and taught clicker training
6. I'm low maintanance
7. I had lunch with Ozzy Osbourne
So now I got your attention.

Back to you DCV