Monday, August 31, 2009

That's Gonna Leave A Mark

I bruise easily. At any given time I am usually covered with small bruises on my arms and legs. We won't even mention the blackberry scratches and the needle marks that were made by the pokings of fresh-mown hay. Now normally that is not a big deal but at times I do have to go socialize in the real world. A world where women have smooth mark-free appendages....and flawless manicures, but that's pushing it. This weekend I have a wedding to attend. My niece is getting married. I have a lovely sleeveless linen dress to wear to the occasion.
I've been dieting.
I've been exercising.
I've been guarding my arms and legs from anything that will leave a bruise. So this weekend when Hubby brought home a log splitter to take care of the mountain of wood we have I groaned inside. I explained to Hubby my desire to go to the fancy wedding bruise-free. He said not to worry, all I had to do was push one lever.

That's all, just one lever.

As I set my plastic lawn chair in front of that lever, and before I could finish my first cup of coffee, it became very apparent that I would need to do more than push one lever to get the mountain of wood into the shed. Besides the person flicking the lever has to wrassle wood. My arms would not stand up to any wrassling and a round that rolls off the pile could hit an unsuspecting ankle and leave......a bruise!

I decided to stack the wood. So this weekend I spent my days stacking 5 cords of firewood. One piece at a time. Slowly I grabbed the wood with both hands and gently placed it on the pile so there would be no bounce. Dressed in long jeans, to protect the shins and ankles, and long sleeves to protect the arms, I methodically placed each piece of wood like a puzzle piece. When Hubby smashed his finger between the log splitter and the log I was sympathetic but secretly glad it wasn't me. I stayed clear of anything that could leave a mark on my mark-free appendages.

This morning every muscle in my body aches but I am proud to say I am bruise-free..
but it is still too early to let down my guard.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Pony For Sara

My very best friend, Sara, came over on my birthday to bring me lunch and to visit the farm. Sara and I have been best friend since we were 11 years old. She is the other half of "the goat girls", as her dad used to call us. We both had goats and were in 4H. Living fairly close to each other we spent a lot of time running back and forth with goats at our heels.
Oh we had fun. Especially this time of year when our parents would drop us off at the fairs and pick us up 10 hours later. Can you imagine doing that today?
Oh we were trouble. Sara looking all innocent but usually coming up with the ideas...and the means.

So when Sara came out the other day we were full of "remember when" stories. She reminded me, when she saw the llama, of the man at the fair that sold chain-link fences and had a pen set up with a llama in it. He use to let us walk the llama around the fair for him. A llama 40 years ago was a major attraction and we got a lot of attention. I'd forgotten about that.

Her daughter brought up one of her favorite stories of her mom and me growing up. It is very bitter-sweet when I look back on it now.

I grew up with ponies and horses but Sara didn't. She had the room all right and a nice barn but her dad would never get her a pony. So when it came time for me to sell my first pony, Sara really wanted it but her dad wouldn't buy it. He offered to trade my dad an old...and I mean old Lafayette car for the pony. My dad came over to look at it while Sara and I kept our fingers crossed.
But my dad said no.
Sara was very disappointed. I was disappointed. I wanted my dad to just give her the pony but noooooooooooo.

A few days went by and Sara and I were going to paint a sign to advertise the pony. I had found an arrow shaped piece of plywood, left over from my brother's attempt to build a hydroplane, that would make a perfect sign.
I asked Sara to paint the letters since she has beautiful handwriting. I told her to write "Pony For Sale"
As she got busy painting the sign I went about my business of cleaning out the goat stall.
Sensing she was done I walked over as she whipped it around to show me her handiwork.

"PONY FOR SARA" the sign read.

Deep in thought she had written what was in her heart, not her head.

We laughed until we cried.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Half A Century

Today I turned 50. To some that sounds old to some that sounds young. Some days I feel old, some days I feel young. Turning 50 is a bit freeing. You have heard people say they know who they are at 50. I know who I am at 50 but I knew who I was at 30 as well. But at 50 I know how I want to spend my time and whom I want to spend my time with.

At 50 I realize I can't change anyone...only how I respond to them.

At 50 I have decided to spend my time with people who are kind and positive. People that make me feel good....because I've spent too much time with people that don't.
People that make me laugh...because I like to laugh.

At 50 I am going to take better care of myself so I can be middle aged at 50.

Because 50 is the new 40...

or so my mom tells me.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Tale Of Two Cats

There are two cats that call my little farm home. Both dumped by their previous owners they have unwittingly come together to live in harmony. NOT. Oh no there is no harmony here. They hate each other. Dottie has good reason to hate Martha. Martha is hateful to her. She will run all the way across the field to attack poor Dottie who is minding her own business. Poor Dottie...and she was here first.
Dottie was found by the side of the road with her mother and brother a few years ago. I had just lost our old cat and didn't want another. I'm not really a cat person. A lot of good that did me. I suddenly had 3. The mother kitty went to live at my sister's and I took the two kittens down to my farm to be barn cats. That was just fine with Dottie's brother Spencer, a slightly feral cat, but Dottie aspired to be some one's house kitty. Delicate and sweet and very photogenic, she would have been a fine house kitty but no one wanted her. I asked everyone...twice. So she ended up living at the farm , perfectly content until Martha showed up.

Martha, formerly known as Sparky, is the product of divorce and dysfunction. When the neighbor's son from a previous marriage came to live with him he brought along his cat. When his step-mother wouldn't let him keep her in the house he plunked her down outside where the rowdy dogs and loud people drove her to run away. She didn't run far, just on the other side of the fence where she took up residency in Ole Yeller. That suited her just fine until we hauled Ole Yeller away and she needed to find a new home. All this time I had been feeding her so she just moved closer, making her home in the hay tent. Not seeming like a Sparky I renamed her Martha after a cat from my childhood.
Now Martha is a fine cat. She loves people, is good with the dogs, and is very pretty to look at. But she has an evil side. She hates other cats and lives to terrorize my poor Dottie. Spencer has disappeared all together. I have thought about boxing her up and handing her back to the Dysfunctions but what good would that do. She would be back in a few minutes. I thought about posting her on craigslist and finding her a cat free home. So far I've done nothing. Dottie now lives with the goats and seems quite happy there. When they go out to pasture, she goes out to pasture. When I feed the goats I feed Dottie too. She has a good life.
But looks wistfully at the life she once had.

Before the face of evil.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Going Home

Cora Belle is going to the fair. She doesn't know that yet but she does know that she got to go back to the farm where she was born to get her hair cut.

She had a chat with her momma....

Head butted her auntie......

And was very popular with the young boys....can anyone say cougar?

Alice? Alice? Nope just Walker, Alice's brother.

While she was socializing I was taking pictures. Here are a few of my favorites.

A relative of Marigold. And I thought there were no more Nubians there. Isn't she pretty!

Cute kids...

Minimancha Jammies that gives the milk that tastes like CANDY!

Leave those young boys alone Cora Belle....

this is your future.

Monday, August 17, 2009

When I Grow Up

I have a niece M.B. She is a child of my heart. An animal lover from the start I could always relate to this wonderful girl. Now she is grown but still mad about animals just like her Aunt Goatgirl. She is such an adventurous person. After college she lived on a sheep dairy in Tuscany for a year and is now living in Prague teaching English as a second language. As someone that has always been afraid to do anything new I have always admired her spirit and wished I could do some of the things that she has done. I mean really...a farm in Tuscany!
M.B. grew up on a farm too. A proper farm with a two story white farmhouse, some big red barns full of cows, horses, chickens, cats and dogs. You've heard of the boys with toads in their pockets...well that was our little M.B. One day her city slicker mother was doing the laundry and felt something in M.B.'s pocket. Yep, it was a toad. She brought home animal after animal well into college and made them at home on the farm.
So the other day, while home for the summer from Prague (doesn't that just sound so romantic?)she and her mom came to visit Auntie Goatgirl and see all the animals. She brought along her darling Czech dog Penny. Well really she is a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that was born in Prague.

There dogs can go anywhere with their owner and Penny reflects that calm demeanor that comes when dogs have been well socialized and are allowed to accompany their owners anywhere.
We had a great visit and M.B. took lots of pictures. I think she really liked the pigs....

As did her city slicker turned farm woman mom......She is the only person I know that actually uses a cup...and a SAUCER!

The pig girls really loved them. Now the pigs don't give it up for free and are usually very standoffish with strangers.
They have to be sure you don't like bacon before they will let you touch them. They had no problem letting M.B. and her mom get close. Even though I'm sure they like bacon...and ham.
Nor did Alice....

So my hat goes off to this wonderful young lady who doesn't stay in the box but follows her dreams.

I want to be just like her when I grow up!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Thursday, August 13, 2009

When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Go Shopping

It has been pretty sad around here with the death of my adorable little Sunny but my friends have come to my rescue. First off it was a trip to Nordstrom Rack to check out the sale on new arrivals. While I did get a pair of shoes for an upcoming wedding, it still wasn't enough to shake goatgirl out of her funk. It was time to bring in the big guns....goat shopping. The goatfarmer felt like I needed a field trip to the most wonderful goat farm around, Poppy Patch in beautiful Montesano, Washington. I contacted Shannon at Poppy Patch and inquired about a dry yearling that I was interested in. She has a great pedigree and I have been thinking about adding another Nigerian doe to the herd since Lexi and Semi-Sweet appear to be in their golden years. Shannon said that yes indeed the goatfarmer and goatgirl could come out and look at the goats.

So yesterday we piled into the jeep and took off for Montesano. It rained off and on so our plans of stopping in Satsop to get hay would have to be on hold. Besides Hubby needed the truck to go motorcycle riding. The second best thing that goatgirl likes to shop for is hay, and I have a feeling the goatfarmer feels the same.

Rustic iron gates welcomed us to Poppy Patch farm and we were met by Shannon and her large friendly Great Pyrenees as we got out of the car. We dodged puddles as we walked to the large barn. Shannon opened up the big door and I was overwhelmed by the beautiful smorgasbord of lovely Nigerians. They were all there...including the beautiful Poppy Seed.

Poppy Seed has won every show she's ever been in. There were Nigerians of every size, shape and color and since it was raining, and anyone with goats knows they don't do rain, they were all in the barn.
I didn't know where to look first. Nigerians come in about every color so it was visual overload compared to if you were looking at...hmmm...let's say a herd of Saanens for instance.
We would point to a goat and ask Shannon about it. Not only did she know all of their names she had perfect recall on their pedigrees. She takes wonderful care of her goats.

As luck would have it I wasn't drawn to the doe I went to go look at, nor her to me. I set my sights on a lovely doe named Cute As A Button....that wasn't for sale. No amount of begging (it was shameless) convinced Shannon this sweet little goat should be mine. Not only did I love this little goat, she loved me too. Everywhere I went she was right there asking for scratches. Buttons didn't follow the goatfarmer as she kindly pointed out to Shannon. The goatfarmer was in my court. Not that it did us any good.
So my last plea was....If you ever want to sell this doe please let me know first. Shannon kindly agreed.

We left with an empty crate in the back of my jeep but I learned a lot during our visit. It is important to look at all sorts of goats to see what you like and what you don't.

They say that one sign of intelligence is the ability to delay gratification. I must be getting smarter. The younger me would have left with the other goat but the older more intelligent me is holding out for a goat named Buttons.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Monday, August 10, 2009

Me And My Shadow

Alice loves me. She follows me everywhere. But it's time for Alice to be a big goat now so yesterday I put her and Semi-Sweet in with the goat herd. Besides there is much more to do in there.

There are logs to jump on.

Filbert to play with.

Cora Belle is not impressed.

A big white llama to guard you.

Leaves falling from trees.

Little goat houses for napping with your mom.

It can be very tiring being a big goat.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sonoita-Highland's After Glow

Sunny was born 8 years ago at a very fancy Miniature Horse farm in California. He was a 32 inch palomino no nonsense kind of guy. When I saw his picture last year I had to have him. I couldn't get that face out of my mind. So my friend Gail, her daughter Ashlee, and I went to Tacoma to "just look" at him. Needless to say we fell in love and loaded him up into the back of my jeep and took him home.

At first Sunny was a bit of a disappointment. He wanted nothing to do with me. He hated being brushed and loved on and was known to give any unassuming animal a good swift kick if they tried to get near his food. He had the swing around and kick down to a science. He also had a way of looking innocent when I swung around to see what he had done. He'd be grazing casually.

So I got out my clicker and started to clicker train him. He loved to work for treats. The bonding had begun. I started to love and respect him for what he was not what I had hoped he'd be. Even though he didn't enjoy the human touch he stood well for hoof trimming and vet care. My vets loved him. All the other animals learned very quickly that Sunny liked his personal space and to give him lots of room when goatgirl was doling out the treats.

In the last few months Sunny had come around. He started to come over to see what I was doing and when I got down to his level he enjoyed a good head rub. Gail said it takes about a year to truly bond with your horse and we were approaching the year mark.

Hubby liked him just the way he was. He would reach out to pet him and Sunny would turn away. Hubby didn't care. He called him "Sunny Jim" and talked to him without petting him. Hubby has no expectations for our animals so is able to love them for what they are. Sunny was one of his favorites.

Sunny was just damn cute to look at. He brought smiles to everyone that saw him. Even on his last day as I walked him up and down the street to try to relieve the pain and get him to poop people stopped and talked or just drove by with a huge smile on their face. The whole neighborhood was praying for Sunny's recovery by the end of the day.

All my friends got a chance to run behind that little horse and get that goofy grin on their faces. It was just fun for some reason to trot down the street behind this little gentleman.
Luckily goldilocks got a chance to feel the wind in her hair and get the goofy grin when she visited in July.
It was something that was important for me to share with her, my new daughter. They looked so cute together. Both small and blond.

My friend called yesterday,the one that made his bridle and driving reins, and said, "We had fun with him didn't we?"
Yes we had fun!
I was just expecting 20 more years of it.

Saturday, August 8, 2009


Hubby and I are heartbroken. Last night at midnight we had to make the unbelievably hard decision to put our beloved Sunny down. Fine on Thursday and dead by Friday has left us shocked and grieving.
He had a blockage in his intestines that was getting worse by the minute. Anyone that has experienced colic in a horse knows the frustration of not being able to fix the pain. Yes surgery was an option but we would have had to drive him to the hospital two hours away and the vet said that even then it was iffy at best. Most believe that a horse can be worse off after the surgery. So after trying everything possible to fix it and two vet visits we decided to put Sunny out of his pain.
Miniature horses are prone to such blockages because their intestines go from very big to very small in a small amount of space with a bend toward the end. The bend is where things get stopped up. I did know this from reading it online but chose to put it out of my mind. Sunny as small as he was did have very large poops.
To see your significant other sobbing over the body of his beloved little horse was the last straw. I said it once before but I will say it now with certainty,
I will never own another horse again. Period.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Visit To The Funny Farm

One of the benefits of having a personal petting zoo is that everyone wants to come visit. Recently, my sisters-in-law brought some of their grandkids to see the animals. What fun we had. Sometimes I get a little nervous about having children around the animals. I want it to be a good experience for all...including the animals. I don't want anyone crying at the end of the visit. Especially me.

Does it look like anyone was crying?

Seven polite delightful children that happen to be my great-nieces and nephews mingled among the critters with bags of carrots and peanuts (highly recommended by Marigold)
Not once did I have to say...Stop, don't feed them that. Or.....Wait, you can't play in their drinking water. Or....Stop chasing the chickens.

I heard things like...."Aunt Goatgirl, would the pigs like a carrot?"
"May I pet the llama?"
"I love Alice"

Sunny was a huge hit.

Cora Belle would not leave the baby alone. She was fascinated.

My handsome nephew loved the llamas. This picture made me a little sad about Penne going to greener pastures...but only for a minute.

By the end of the day we were calling this little guy "Goatboy"

Now their choice of footwear had something to be desired. Just don't call them will date you.