Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Holidays!



My special ornament for this year. When I saw this hanging all by itself I knew it was suppose to be mine.

Friday, December 23, 2011

It's Dottie


The blurry picture is Dottie shaking her head. If you look closely you can see her green eye.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Llama Training Continues


I'm off for the next two weeks so the llama training is in full swing. After eating out of the bucket once, Willow had a bit of a setback and was refusing to eat out of it again. I now have the time to stand and wait her out. I gave her no grain unless it was held by me. Yesterday she ate her whole meal out of the bucket I held. Today she was eating out of the scoop in my hand so I got out my clicker and started in with clicking her for stepping toward me. I had her moving all around in a few minutes.
This is fun. I really like her and I think she will learn to like me. Just look at that face. I think she has the look of eagles.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Willow Fits In

video

Why?


Why would someone cut nice neat square holes in my fence along the road? What was their intent? Was it to let my goats out or was it to steal them? Two squares were cut out of the fence and laid neatly over to invite curious goats out of their pasture and into the road. Everyone says it's probably kids but the holes are so neatly cut with each wire cut the same length that to me it seems like an adult.........that just happens to have wire cutters in their pocket.

A mystery that has put my goats in jeopardy.


The temporary fix is not a good look either.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Lexi's New Best Friend




Lexi is the oldest doe. She has out of the pen privileges. Basically she goes where she wants and now wherever she goes she has a shadow.




A large shadow.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Llama Training 5&6



She's starting to warm up and not hide behind her little barn when I'm in her pasture. She ate grain from the bucket about 4 feet from where I stood.

Then the stampede of goats went by her pasture headed for the grain bin and it was too much for Willow to stand. She was being left behind. She took a running start and leaped her 5 foot fence and went running after them which threw them in a panic and they ran....and then she ran after them so they ran...and then she ran. You get the picture. She ran and bucked around the pasture. She stood on top of the yodeling hill. She chased the goats that ran from her. She sniffed the ones that didn't.



I am never going to catch her now.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Llama Training 3-4

Sadly no training just feeding in the dark. It is dark in the morning when I feed and dark shortly after I get off work.
After being scared to go inside, Willow is using her stall to eat out of her hay rack and grain out of her tub. She does like grain. Now if I could only get her to eat out of my hand.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Llama Training-Day 2

Willow saw the pigs for the first time and didn't freak or sound the alarm. This is big because llamas HATE pigs. It took Koo a long time to get used to the pigs.

She ate a little hay out of my hand. Can't get her to take grain. Still very skittish.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Llama Training -Day One

Willow eats hay from my hand. And it was the yellow local hay....not the good green orchard grass.
I didn't have my clicker so I clicked my headlamp. Just loadin' my clicker.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Getting to Know You


Imagine living in a huge pasture with a few llamas and a couple of alpacas for the first 2 years of life, wrestled into a trailer and plunked down at the funny farm. All of a sudden you share space with small goats, chickens, ducks, dogs, the sound of pigs in the distance, and a lady that wants to get to know you. You go from a beautiful estate to a small farm in great need of a Manna Pro makeover.

The dogs were a special concern for Willow. She followed Grace along the fence.



Grace hid behind the hay so Willow couldn't see her.



Willow saw her.



Willow sees all.



She may never let me touch her but she's going to make a vigilant guard.

This happens to be my 500th post. I have never done anything 500 times:)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas Came Early


Meet Willow. Her owner is moving to Germany and needed to find homes for her llamas and alpacas. This morning Hubby and I went to look at her near Auburn. She lived at a beautiful old estate straight out of the pages of Jane Eyre. Running wild in a huge pasture she was suspicious of us from the start. She came right up to see what we were doing but decided we were up to no good so stayed out of our reach.We finally cornered her in the garage and got her rope and halter on and then without letting go we headed for the door. When we walked out the door all hell broke loose. She bucked and flailed with Hubby holding tight to the rope. He hung on for dear life, knowing that if he let go we would never catch her again nor see our halter and rope. I'll I could do was say "Oh...Oh...Oh" as he was thrown around the pasture on the end of a lead rope attached to a llama that was stronger than we thought.
He hung on until she gave up and we got another hold on her. Cradling her in our arms we walked her to the gate and into the trailer. She settled in and kushed next to the hay bales we put in to limit her space. She hit her mouth when throwing herself around so a little blood was dripping but it didn't look too serious.
Home we went and backed the trailer right up to the gate so we wouldn't have to repeat the rodeo. Hubby doesn't think he wants to be a cowboy.
She stayed in the trailer looking out the door for a long time taking in all the animals and smells.



She is beautiful and in excellent health. She is very curious about the goats and they are curious about her.







I'm going to have to do a lot of lovin' on her to make up for the awkward start.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

If I had to lose......

I'm glad it was to Cale. Congratulations to Cale Johnson, a sweet young man, for winning the Manna Pro homestead makeover. When I saw his video I knew I was doomed. He is a great example of what I have been telling people all along....get your kids involved in 4H. I work with kids that have trouble making friends and I always talk about getting them involved in a 4H where they can be around other kids, learn how to talk to people, and learn a bunch of life skills too numerous to list, all centered around a project they are interested in. Of course I love the animal projects because it teaches kids to be responsible but there are so many others. It really takes the pressure off to be around other kids with similar interests in a structured environment and not just winging it on your own on the playground-a scary place for a lot of kids.
So hats off to Cale. You are a fine example of what's right with kids today.

Thanks to everyone who viewed my video and left comments. It was by far the most viewed video! Thanks to Mary for all her hard work making it. I will cherish it forever!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Got Milk? We Don't.


Cora Belle is on vacation for a few months. I dried her up for our trip and now we are missing her candy milk. No milk means no cheese. I have been living on herb chevre.
Looking forward to next spring when not only Cora Belle freshens but so does her daughter Wedding Belles...and Alice....and Boots...and Buttons.
Milk and cheese galore.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

My Dog


Here is a recent picture of my dog, Bijou. She took a road trip with us along with our other Chihuahua, Solomon. She's a pretty good traveler and now that she's a year old quite a good little dog (which translates to-she's finally housebroken). Bijou is my dog. Not because my son and daughter-in-law gave her to me last Christmas but because she chose me. All of our dogs have loved me but this dog LOVES me. Glued to my side and attached to my heart she is a sweet little girl who wants no one but me on the other end of her leash.




Makes me feel loved.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving from sunny Southern California! We have fled the rain and are visiting our kids for a few days. It is sunny and beautiful here so I'm soaking up a little vitamin D. On this day of thanks I'm thankful for good friends for holding down the fort and being ready to build an ark while I'm gone.
Wish you were here!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Llama Shopping

He was tall dark and handsome. The most beautiful llama I had ever seen. I wanted him from the moment I laid eyes on him. But I didn't bring him home. He doesn't like dogs. Which can come in handy if the dog is an intruder but if the dog is my pet it is a problem. Apparently he never gets use to the dogs that live on the farm. And he has good reason. When he was a youngster, and in a pasture with other young llamas, a dog killed one of his buddies. The hatred of dogs runs deep and I can't hardly blame him.
My dogs have full access to all pastures so it would be dangerous for them to bring this boy home.
I was disappointed. He was so regal and handsome I could picture him in my pasture. But I did have a lovely chat with a very nice llama lady who was a wealth of llama information. She had been raising llamas for over 20 years. She told me that a female can guard just as well as a male so not to set my heart on a boy llama.
I appreciate her honesty, her love for her llamas, and concern for finding them just the right home.
I met a new friend today so the trip was successful.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Moving On

The coyotes were howling last night on the hill just across the street from my farm. Time to get another llama.
We are in the process of looking for another guardian for our herd. Last week hubby came home all excited because he found me another llama. We hurried over to the nicest couple's house to look at Juniper. Now Juniper was a cutey but had no known guarding experience so I was a bit leery of taking her home. I wanted to take her just because I liked her owners so much but I wasn't ready.
I have heard that a gelded male is a better guardian even though I've known of some females that will do the job. I have my heart set on another male.
A friend emailed me with a name and email of a lady that had llamas and needed to find good homes for them. She was having a hard time letting go but found herself needing to find them a home in the next year. I contacted her and she had a gelded male that was known to be a guardian since the day he was born, was already in with goats and loved them, and was really handsome to boot. He is a lot taller than my little guy Koo but that might come in handy when fighting off coyotes and neighborhood dogs.
I am going tomorrow to meet him and her other llamas to see if it's a match. I'll take my camera so you can go with me.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Summer of Koo



By Mary Brennan aka the goatfarmer

Monday, November 14, 2011

Thank You


I want to thank everyone who expressed their sympathy for my loss of Koo. You understand what this guy meant to me and even though I've never met most of you I value your friendship more than you will ever know. You knew exactly what to say when I needed it most.
I had just clicked the publish button on that post and got up from the computer when my phone started ringing. First my son and daughter-in-law called and let me cry on their shoulders. My son just happen to sit down to the computer and check my blog the instant I posted. While talking to him I heard the beep of call waiting and saw it was my good friend Gail calling. The funny thing about that is that she doesn't check my blog that often but she just happened to the instant I posted about losing Koo.
Now is that a coincidence or not....I think not.

Today I was telling someone that had asked about my weekend that I had to put my llama down and they expressed their sympathy but followed it up with, "I guess when you have a lot of animals that is bound to happen a lot." That comment hurt a little. Like there is something slightly wrong with a person that has a lot of animals.

I guess she just doesn't get it.

You guys get it. You understand that an animal, even a farm animal, is really a family member and a part of your life. Just like a big family where each and every member is valued is how it is at my farm. Sure I have more animals than the average person but that doesn't mean I don't love and care for them and mourn when they die and yes some more than others.

Koo was worth every bit of mourning I've been doing. Part of my mourning is writing about it and reading each and very one of your comments.

Thanks, my village. I am truly overwhelmed by your response.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Rest in Peace, My Friend

This afternoon I had to put Koo down. He was sicker than we thought and it was the right thing to do.
Koo came to live on our farm 9 years ago when a friend of mine was battling breast cancer and couldn't take care of her animals. I knew next to nothing about llamas when we brought him home and I'm not sure I know much more today. He was a stately boy who hated to be touched but would take an apple slice or carrot ever so gently from your hand. He would let me trick him into being caught to perform a few maintenance chores and would tolerate being led around by small children but his real love was watching over his goats, lying in the sun, and giving visitors the eye to see if they were friend or foe.
He was a fixture in the neighborhood and I know I won't be the only one who will miss seeing him every day.
My head tells me the goats need another llama but my heart tells me that no one can fill his shoes.
A hard act to follow, my friend Koo.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Well Vetted


This morning was very cold and crisp but the sun was shining and Koo was ready for his vet check. You have to love a vet that will come out on a Sunday and not charge you extra. And I do love my vet, Dr. Maci Paden. She started out with a general exam and listened to all my concerns about the old guy. He passed the examine with flying colors with only a slight heart murmur that is common in old animals as the valves thicken. His weight was good. He had good tummy sounds and other than some old man skin he was looking pretty good.
Next she sedated him to have a look in his mouth. Llamas can't open their mouth wide like a horse so she was very gentle and slow. He did have some sharp points on his teeth and like I thought had ground his molars down to almost nothing.
A little more sedation had Koo feeling silly but enabled her to get a contraption in his mouth and prop it open. She filed down his sharp points just in case they were bothering him. Getting inside his mouth made me feel a whole lot better since I imagined a big rotten tooth in there. She told me if that were the case he would probably be drooling and you could smell a bad smell. No abscesses and no rotten teeth.
Next she concentrated on pain. Koo has arthritis. Sometimes when he grazes for any length of time he has trouble picking up his head. It takes him a few minutes to work his head and neck up so we know that he has arthritis in his neck. Koo received a little pain medication to see if that helps bring back his appetite.
Last she drew some blood to send to the lab to see if there was some underlying condition that made him not feel like his normal self. She also suggested I change his feed to see if that would entice him to eat again.
The bottom line is that Koo is old...about the same as a 100 year old man and unfortunately he can't tell us what is wrong and how he feels.
I am so glad I had her out to give my boy the attention he deserves even if he can't tell us what hurts.
I love this old boy and today made me love him even more. Especially when he was all drugged up with his head in a contraption and he started to cush and lost his balance and collapsed. He looked so old and vulnerable that I got a lump in my throat and almost cried.
It sucks (I hate that word but nothing else fits) to get old and I'm not looking forward to it. I hope I have a doctor as kind and caring as Dr. Maci to see me through.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Koo Update


As it always is around here, the minute I call the vet the animal gets better. Dr. Maci was going to come out today but then remembered she had a birthday party planned so we rescheduled for Sunday morning. Up until today, Koo was lying around not eating much and basically looking old and tired.

Which is why I called the vet.

Today Koo was up and doing most of his normal routine, eating grass and even eating a bit of his grain. I caught him and put him in his paddock so it would be easier tomorrow to catch him when she comes. He was down right fat under all that fiber.
I wavered back and forth. Should I call and cancel or should I let her come and take a look. As any of you that have large animals know, the vet bill for a farm call can be a bit steep. You generally go into it blind with the vet surprising you at the end with the bill.

But Hubby and I decided that Koo deserved to have a little money spent on him. He has given us 9 years of coyote and stray dog protection and countless hours of entertainment and we would feel better if we had her come out and take a look in his mouth and see if he had a bad tooth or something.

So tomorrow Dr. Maci comes out to examine Koo. Hopefully the surprise won't be too big. But he's worth every penny!

Free to Work

I'm a pretty competitive person. I like to win. What started out as just a fun thing to do has turned into a fierce competition....in my mind. I'm talking about my video to win a homestead makeover. If you have been reading my blog for any length of time you know I want a proper barn. I need a proper small shed to milk my goats and store my feed but it never seems like there is any extra money to build one so I want this Manna Pro makeover badly. My poor little farm has a "loving hands at home" look. I could really use the team at Manna Pro to come out in the spring and help Hubby measure twice and cut once. Then when all the school kids come in the late spring they could see a nice milking shed and not my disappointing chicken coop turned milking area with its sad roof caving in.
So at school the other day we were sitting around on our break watching my competitions' videos and I was getting more and more anxious about my chances of winning. The librarian loved my video so she emailed the entire staff the link and asked them to watch "Wendy's video".
And watch they did. They showed it to their classes and all day long kids were coming up to me and saying "I think you should win, Mrs. Webster"
I was a bit of a celebrity.
Later that day, I was walking down the hall and I heard a voice I thought I recognized and when I walked into the classroom they were watching my video. They got so excited when they saw me that all their hands went up with questions about my farm, the goats, milk and cheese,and the chickens too. A few kids told me their dads would build me a barn.
One sweet little girl raised her hand and when I called on her said....
"My dad doesn't have a job and knows how to build things. He can come build you a barn"
I told her I didn't have the money to do it and that is why I was trying to win the makeover.
She said" Oh that's ok. He doesn't care about money"
Then she added "And my mom does nothing so she can come help too"

As I was leaving she tucked a piece of paper into my hand that I immediately stuck in my pocket and forgot about. When I got home and was letting the dogs out I stuck my hand in my pocket and pulled out this.....


I laughed the rest of the evening.

So you see, I've won already. This video has been a bonding experience for 300 children and me. I have had the opportunity to share my little farm and talk about goat milk and goat cheese to a ton of kids this week. They learned that more people around the world drink goat milk than cow milk. They got to try chevre on a cracker and learn that they really did like goat cheese.
They got to see the real Mrs. Webster. The same lady that makes them complete that sentence and solve that equation rides a bicycle and loves her animals.

And then a boy drew a picture of a cow for me......


He's working on his comprehension.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Relapse


Koo has had a relapse which is usually the case in old animals. Dr. Maci will come out Saturday morning to see what she can see. I'll keep his fans posted. He doesn't realize how many people he has in his corner.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Baby Boom



I have heard that a sign of intelligence is being able to delay gratification. I have never been very good at that. The plan was to breed my does in December so they kid in May. After my spring break. After I take a trip to California to see my kids. When the weather is warmer and the rain is warmer. But all the girls have been coming in heat. The bucks are crazy with desire. The does are crazy with desire. It is chaotic. So I open a gate here and there and say "go ahead if you want".
And they want.
We expect a baby explosion the end of March.
You know what they say about best laid plans? They go awry.
We've gone awry...but no one's complainin'

Friday, October 28, 2011

What I did over the summer.....

Sometime this summer I was made aware of a contest over at Manna Pro to win a homestead makeover. To enter you had to submit a video of what you would do with the prize of $5000. I got all excited because my poor little farm could use a makeover. I need a new milking shed and a proper chicken coop would be nice too. So I emailed the farmer over at Herron Hill and asked her to shoot a video of me. She graciously agreed to write the script, shoot the video, edit the video, sit through countless hours of me flubbing my voice-overs, wrangle the children, goats, and pigs and then take a few more hours to figure out how to email it to Manna Pro before the deadline.
We had so much fun making this video. The experience alone would be enough for me but now I want to win for her too. Not really...I mostly want to win for me. But we did have fun. A lot of fun. We laughed a lot and you know how much I like to laugh. I won't be quitting my day job for acting anytime soon. Most of my attempts ended up on the cutting room floor but she came up with a beautiful video that I want to share with you and hopefully you will all "like" it...if you know what I mean.
So enjoy a peek into my world and feel free to "like" it and comment on the youtube channel of my video. The girls could use a new coop and I've been saving my new nest box from Pam and Billy just in case they get it.
A special thanks to the farmer at Herron Hill, a gal with many talents. She went above and beyond my expectations and produced a video my family and friends really enjoy.
If I don't win it will be a wonderful piece to show at my funeral someday.

My Happy Homesteader Video

Enjoy! I know I did.

Better


I think I may have found the cause of Koo's problem by accident. A couple of days ago, I was cleaning the goat pen and had their gate open when Koo rushed in and made a beeline for their salt/mineral brick. He licked away on it as best he could. Llamas can't stick out their tongues so it makes licking on a salt lick difficult. He licked and licked and licked. Forever. I finally took it away from him as I was concerned about him getting too much at once.
That evening I googled "llama eating a lot of salt" and this article came up.
It hit home. Poor Koo wasn't getting salt. I didn't know salt was so important to him. He used to have access to the salt block but a few weeks ago I moved it undercover in the goat shed before the rains came and he could no longer get to it. I didn't know he even used it.

The next morning he was up to greet me when I entered the pasture. He followed me to the feed shed.

He ate his breakfast...with a little salt added.



"I love Google"

Monday, October 24, 2011

My Right Hand Man


My llama, Koo, is old. Although we don't know exactly how old he is we estimate him to be in his twenties. That's about how long llamas live. He has worn his teeth down and now has to eat a complete pelleted feed because he can't chew hay. Lately he has been going off his feed but then going right back on a few days later.
He has gone off his feed again and has not gone back on. He will eat some apples but that is about it. He is not in any pain or doesn't appear weak or sick but I'm worried about him. I'm not ready for this regal boy to cash in his chips.
He's been the guardian of my little herd for about 9 years now. He is a fixture in our neighborhood. One neighbor told me when she drives by and sees Koo she knows it's going to be a good day.
Today another neighbor dropped off a mash of beet pulp for him because she heard I needed some. That made my day...but he wouldn't eat it.
Some animals have a way of getting under your skin. Not only has he gotten under my skin but everyone that has ever met him.
Send good thoughts to my boy Koo. I don't know what I'm going to do without him.

Monday, October 17, 2011

I Heart Goats and Fall


Fall is one of the goats' favorite seasons...with winter being their least favorite of course. Goats don't do rain and Washington has more than its fair share of that in the winter....and the spring...and the summer....and the fall. Wait that's all year. Sorry Texas. If I could send you some I would.

The goats do leaves though and Sunday was a good day to wander the farm and eat leaves and fir boughs that hit the ground after an early fall wind storm.



I call this photo Milk and Eggs...



Pepper Ann is happy to be out and about. After all my complaining about no one wanting her, a nice couple at the fair wanted to buy her and I wouldn't sell her.















The Tiny Giant poses on his favorite vantage point. Please ignore the ugly blanket thrown carelessly over the fence. That is the pigs' blanket...yes we have pigs in a blanket.



Yes, it's fall and you know what that means. Bring on the ladies.