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Monday, June 27, 2016

New digs

The boys have been separated until the bucklings' new aprons come in. They are not happy about it, spending most of their day close to the fence where they can see the does.  Today there's a newly fenced portion.  It the buck area, and give them access to a lot of browse. 

I thought it was going to be difficult to get them to move, but I had forgotten about follow-the-leader. When I came through the paddock from the barn with the weed whacker in my hands, I became the Pied Piper. Once Fiore followed, so did the young ones. Within moments they had spied the thick browse, and happily settled in under the shady trees.

Meanwhile, I finished cleaning up under the SmartFence, attached it to the hotwire in the buck pasture, carried water to the side of the shelter, strung a wire across the entrance to the paddock area, and closed the gate.   

It was so simple, I ought to feel bad—but I don’t.  Now all I have to do is monitor the old welded-wire fence that edges the driveway.  With a little luck, it will take them a while to notice it since there’s so much good forage under the trees.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Small discoveries

Spring comes, followed by the need to mow yards and pastures.  Such a day came last Saturday, when I mowed with the lawn tractor and Shawn, my son, mowed with the full size tractor.  While he was doing the orchard and near pasture, I was in what's the family has called "the junkyard".  Old equipment is parked there, new equipment finds its way there, the truck body where we house the lawn tractor and snowblower, a pile of useful-but-not-yet-used lumber and posts, all can be seen in that small area.

However,  I also enclose part of the area because its full of bushes and forbs on the edges, a good place for the goats to browse where they feel safe. I keep the grass mowed to encourage them to seek the browse instead, once it's fenced in for the summer. 

Some things just shouldn't be mowed  Last year I discovered these bluets (Houstonia caerulea) as I was mowing, and carefully avoided them.  They came back this year, and again I left them.  I love bluets, so tiny, delicate, and yet hardy.  In the whole area there is just this one patch.  I debate whether to move them to my flower garden, but hesitate in case transplant shock might do them in.

 In the meantime, Shawn had discovered something I'd found a couple of days before.  A den, dug into the sandy spot between the paddock and under the barn, in the spot where my does love to sun themselves.  I've filled in the hole with rocks and dirt, but the next morning, the den is there again, as if I'd never touched it.  Whatever is living there is not going to be easily dissuaded.  And what is it?  It could be a fox or a skunk, but after searching for burrow identification online, I'm guessing it's a groundhog (aka woodchuck).  I've been trying to find a live trap to verify the identity of the new inhabitant.  

 In my searches, I found this wonderful bit on Wikipedia.
A report in 1833 by the New Hampshire Legislative Woodchuck Committee illustrates the attitude of some people towards this animal. In part, the report states: "The woodchuck, despite its deformities both of mind and body, possess some of the amenities of a higher civilization. It cleans its face after the manner of the squirrels, and licks its fur after the manner of a cat. Your committee is too wise, however, to be deceived by this purely superficial observation of better habits. Contemporaneous with the ark, the woodchuck has not made any material progress in social science, and it is now too late to reform the wayward sinner. The average age of the woodchuck is too long to please your committee.... The woodchuck is not only a nuisance, but also a bore. It burrows beneath the soil, and then chuckles to see a mowing machine, man and all, slump into one of these holes and disappear.... Your committee is confident that a small bounty will prove of incalculable good; at all vents, even as an experiment, it is certainly worth trying; therefore your committee would respectfully recommend that the accompanying bill be passed."
Zoë would have a field day digging out the burrow, but I'm not sure how deep it is.  I'd rather have her tackle the critter above ground.  Though Fox Terriers were bred to got after varmints in holes, she is, after all, a (not-so) stately 9 year old.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch....Shawn mowed the orchard while wide-eyed goats kept a close eye on him.  Here I will remark that, though they looked askance at the monster in the field, they were more than happy to graze there once the way was clear.


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Goat tricks

I love goat tricks.  Not tricks that I teach them, but the little quirky things they do that make them so endearing.

Fedra decided early on that a large round feeder was perfect for sleeping in. She retires early so she gets first dibs; once she's bedded down, there's no argument about whose spot it is. 

I had thought to catch dropped hay under the hanging slowfeeders with another round feeder.  Silly me, I should have known that would not happen.  As soon as Fedra eyed it, that became her lounging area.

She wasn’t reckoning on Dandy, though, who watched for a day or two and then appropriated the “bed”. It doesn’t fit her nearly as well as it fits Fedra; she almost pours out of it.  Goats do like snug little spots and Dandy is no exception. so I shouldn’t have been surprised to come out one morning and find her all curled up.  


To her credit, Fedra took it in stride.

Dandelion is my most amusing goat, always up to something that makes me smile.  Take the milking stanchion, for example.  The barn is built on a hill, so in truth, the "ground" floor is two stories high on one side. The window in the milk room overlooks the downhill slope, and every day Dandy pauses to gaze out the window for several moments, observing the pasture and treeline, ascertaining dangers that might lurk for unsuspecting goats.  

Once she’s satisfied, she grabs another bite of Chaffhaye before heading out the door.  It's important not to leave any morsel untouched.


Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Grass is Always Greener

When I was a small child, 'way back in the '50's,  we used to watch a Boston-based TV show, "Big Brother Bob Emery".  He always opened the show by singing "The Grass is Always Greener" to the accompaniment of his ukelele.

     Oh, the grass is always greener
     in the other fellow's yard.
     The little row
     we have to hoe,
     Oh boy that's hard.
     But if we all could wear
     green glasses now,
     it wouldn't be so hard
     to see how green the grass is
     in our own back yard.

I think of that song often when I see my goats in the yard.  Mind you, they have about 30 acres of pasture, not including all the brush and trees which they can munch on anytime they wish. There's just something about a fence that a goat must challenge.

Yesterday I looked out to see them cropping grass on the lawn.  A bit later they'd jumped the fence for the dog's yard and were munching in there.  They made the rounds, wandering over to the Rosa rugosa bushes and wiping them clean of rosehips, exploring the remains of the garden plot (which I did not plant this year since they wiped it out last year), then discovering and eating, with gusto, the chrysanthemum in the planter by the house.

The paddock, the orchard, and the far pasture.  Beyond those trees is a multi-acre field with copses of trees and brush.

Another pasture, the front pasture, which extends beyond the photo, to the right.  Lots of trees and brush there, too.

Off to the left, there's a hill and another field that can't be seen.  They frequent that pasture in the summer when the upkeep on the fences is more stringent.  You can see that there's plenty of room to roam, graze, and browse.

And this is where they want to be, right outside the house. Okay, I admit it, the grass really is greener on the other side.

 Zoë is still a source of fascination. Enlarging the picture (click on it) will reveal Zoë on the step by the side door of the barn.  Some of the does are watching her, but she's oblivious, having interesting smells to explore.

Fedra and Dolly, especially, wanted to keep an eye on that dog.

After a while they wandered to the other side of the house...

Hannah just had to introduce herself.  Zoë seemed to be more leery than Hannah.

They really enjoyed those flowers.  I was not as thrilled.

Finally they wandered back toward the gate.  The source of interest for all of them?  
Zoë, of course.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

First hard frost

It was bound to come, the first heavy frost, and come it did.  When I looked out the window, the scene was white and frosty, but full of its own particular beauty. 

It didn’t slow down the goats any, either.  They still rushed out to the orchard when I opened the gate.  They were noticeably disappointed, though.  The apples didn’t seem quite as tasty as the days before.  Usually, nothing can call them away from those lovely drops, but this time, when they noticed me watching them, camera in hand, they considered there must be better prospects elsewhere.   


Friday, October 16, 2015

Zoë on the farm

Zoë, my Fox Terrier loves to be outside, wants to have the freedom to run, but will take off if not watched.  Rather than leave her in the house or in the fenced in yard, I've been making a concerted effort to take her with me everywhere I can and just keep an eagle eye on her. 

Zoë loves having newborn kids in the house, sniffs and licks them, and tries to play with them, right up to when they learn how to play in their very goaty way--by heat butting.

Obviously, she's become very leery of older goats (meaning, anything bigger than her) so, when she sees them coming, she goes the other way.

Wednesday I took her with me when I saw the goats in the orchard. I knew I'd shut them out of there, but they've figured out how to go through the woods, up the gully, and into the orchard to eat the apples. As I walked over to the goats, hoping to move them to the other pasture, Zoë explored.  It wasn't long before Beatrice, my herd queen, noticed a little white dog sniffing around and rolling on the ground. Before long, all the others had noticed her, too, and went to investigate. So there was Bea, heading curiously but purposefully toward that dog spot, and it became comical when she reached out her nose to sniff her.  By that time, more goats were curious and were heading her way.  Zoë, of course, headed back to the barn--with all the goats following. 

 Who needs a herd dog? I have a Pied Piper instead.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Putting the bucks together

Big day today--I thought. After 5 days, I thought it was time to put the bucks together, and I was apprehensive. As usual, I worried for nothing. They postured for about 5 minutes, and then all was well. The biggest thing turned out to be the new buck trying to mount my little guy, Fabian, as if he were a doe. Even that didn't last more than 5 minutes. I thought he was going to be timid, as he is with people, but nope! He told Set in no uncertain terms to BACK OFF. And my big buck, Mime, just calmly put him in his place and walked away.
Last I looked they were all sniffing each other over. I'm sure Set is much happier having company, and I'm happier releasing a stall back to the does so they don't have to sleep in the aisleway.

By this evening, the only thing I noticed was that the usual two were in the buck house and Set was outside. Since there was a light rain, I brought them all in a little early. Once in, all was well. They settled down to munching on hay and boy talk.

Life is good.