Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Playing hooky

That's what we called it when I was a kid. Not being in school - no valid excuse. I'm not really playing hooky because I had scheduled today as a vacation day. But the original plan was to take the kids to the arts festival. Unfortunately it rained and I must say, I was not disappointed. The thought of fighting masses of kids (not my own) was less than appealing. Actually the kids I can handle, it is their parents that make me want to hurl myself off Old Main Tower.

So today was kind of like a "free day". I thoroughly enjoyed being with my children with no schedule, no pressure to go anywhere or do anything. I needed this break and I needed to be in a place in which I feel I belong.

My world is changing - I know everyone's is but this is MY blog. My aunt, my mom's youngest sister and best friend, died last month. My father fell and badly cut his arm. My dad's dog is dying. In addition to grieving (obviously) for my aunt, who was a HUGE factor in me making it through my 30s, I'm looking at my parents in a different light. It didn't affect me as much when my mom's brother died because I wasn't close to his family. It was horrific when my uncle - my aunt's husband - died from ALS but that was different. My aunt died of lung cancer and I didn't even get myself up to visit her before she died. I didn't get to say goodbye to her. She was someone who always loved me. Who would give me her opinion, who thought I and my kids were great, who always remembered birthdays, anniversarys, and any other holiday. If the shoe had been on the other foot, she would have found a way to visit me.

Llama Love

Or lack there of. A smart person would NOT have bought two llamas with unknown history. Especially if she had no prior experience with llamas or with any other type of animal larger than a dog. But I did want a llama to guard my mininubian goats from coyotes, wild dogs, and other night creatures. And after a little research, learned that two llamas were preferable to one. Because of the cost of a llama, I didn't really think I would ever be able to buy one let alone two. But the camelid gods must have been smiling at me when I saw an ad in a local online sales site for two llamas at a dirt cheap price.

That was the end of May.

We didn't really get a clue that they weren't friend when my husband loaded them on the horse trailer. That went off without a hitch - same for delivering them to our home. But now, almost 6 weeks later, they still are not overly fond of us. I've researched ways to get them to trust me, to be respectful, yadda yadda yadda. They MUST be sheared - their wool is a matted mess. I tried one clip at a time and that SO pissed Dolly off, that she tried to spit at me. But I persist and have succeeded to snip off about 4 hunks of matted hair. Certainly not enough to make a difference!
Is it the makeshift llama hut? I know it is not pretty - not at all. But we'll have a llama house complete with walls and roof and door by winter. They have beautiful trees to hide under, a creek to cool off in (but they won't), and lots and lots of yummy plant food. I give them sweet grain which they l-o-v-e. I talk kindly to them, give them fresh, cool water.
But they are animals. I forget about that sometimes - as much as I would love to cuddle them, they are still animals and I need to respect that. More than hugs and kisses, they appreciate in their animal way, the fresh water and food, the shelter, the safe environment. And that should be enough for me.

Monday, July 7, 2008

A true, rednick farm

If ever I had any doubt that I was a redneck, I doubt no more!

After Houdini's continued escapes from his pen, I've had to put 2 foot chicken wire at the top of the 4 foot chain link fence. In addition to the chicken wire, there are places on which I've used wooden lattice. Makes a nice, country fence!

4th of July evening, our neighbors called to let us know that Houdini had jumped the fence and was sitting atop of our John Deere tractor. Apparently he had escaped, was bouncing around on the trailer, and then settled on the tractor. When he saw me, he ran as fast as he could toward me wagging his little goatie tail! What a sweetheart but sheesh! enough with the jumping already!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Oh my gosh, he loves me!

Houdini, that is. My wether. He's not named Houdini without reason. When I picked him from the breeder, he was the little guy who kept escaping his pen. He jumped the fence, hopped over the goats - I knew Houdini was the only name for him.
I thought we had this covered - we used 4 foot high chainlinked fence for my minigoats. But imagine my surprise when the human kids started hollering for me because Houdini was standing beside the swimming pool watching them jump on the trampoline! When he saw me, he gave a goaty scream and ran to me! I guess he decided that he was going to go looking for his bottle.
Apparently there is part of the fence that dips down and he was able to push it down enough that he could jump out. I'm happy to report that the fence has been fixed. So far now, Houdini is contained. He still is crying for his bottle but is doing it safely within the confines of his own little environment.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Do they make binkies for goats?

Today is day 2 of taking my nearly 3 month old mininubians off the bottle. Starting about a week and a half ago, we gradually gave them less and less milk in their bottle until Sunday we were able to stop completely. Or so I thought. Houdini, my wether, has been hysterical without his bottle! The poor little guy screams - he was waiting for me when I came home from work last night. He gobbled up his grain, nibbled some hay, I thought he was happy. But no, when I walked away he made it perfectly clear that he wanted his bottle. We also have a doe who we've weaned successfully. She gets a little concerned when Houdini is upset but overall, has taken the weaning quite well.
Growing up, although I've always fantasized about having a farm, I never actually spent time at a farm. Before I adopted my little goat family, I had never even touched a goat. I am amazed at how much I love them and how they so quickly became part of the family. True, true, they are animals but they have such distinct personalities: Bella, my doe is a prima donna; Houdini, the wether, is such a clown and is constantly trying to find a way out of his pen; and Bucky is a sweetheart. He tries to act tough but always has to get a head scratch from me. I'm amazed at how intuitive they are. One recent evening, I was feeling very down and went in to sit and watch the goats. They seemed to sense my melancholy and were very calm and gentle. These babies are such treasures.

My little farm. I'm loving it.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

This is my first foray into the blog world. Actually not quite - I've started a blog but can't remember what it was called. I decided that I had to have somewhere to note my experiences in the next phase of my life. I just recently put into motion a dream I've had off and on for most of my life. I purchased some goats, then two llamas (who hate me), and 5 chicks. Actually round two for the chicks. We are all living on eight acres of land with 3 dogs, many cats, 3 of my 5 children, and my husband.

There is something about inching closer to 50. I've always been fearful of getting old and, in fact, have spent way too much time worrying about how old I was and too little time just enjoying the age I was. Now that I've hit the big 4-0, the big 4-5, and am almost 46, I find that I feel a little freer albeit a bit bland. As a middle aged white women - so I've read - I am invisible. I can do things that someone ten years younger could not get away with. I can pass through life undetectable which is good in a way. But sometimes, it is frustrating - sometimes I just want to be noticed. Which, I suppose, is why I pierced my nose, wear funky clothes, and let my hair go wild.

I am a runner. I am a slow runner but I love to run. The act of running makes me visible. Because when one is in a group of runners, all that is noticed are those in the front and those NOT running. I like to run long distances - it is one of the areas in my life of which I am most proud. The first would be my children. I produce great kids! Smart, kind, thoughtful . . . all around fine human beings!

I like the idea that it is expected of me to voice my opinion, to say it 'like it is', to have a sort of authority about things. I hope that no one ever finds out that I really know nothing about anything. I've always been the type to dabble in a little bit of this, a little bit of that. I have a ton of interests but I've not really mastered anything to the point that I am an expert.

Anyway, the high cost of gasoline, the mystery of what-the-heck-is-in-our-food, mad cow disease, salmonella-tomatoes: all have made me jump on the 'Think Globally, eat locally' bandwagon - totally and completely. My garden - if it produces to my expectations -
should provide enough vegetables to keep us in tomatoes, beans, onions, potatoes, and corn for the winter. I purchased a side of beef from a local farmer, bought wheat and a grinder, purchased laying hens - all after reading Barbara Kingsolver's book, Animal, Vegetables, Miracle.

The purpose of this blog is to share my experiences. From my marathon trip with my little brother to the middle Wisconsin to pick up goats to the covert operation required to replace my kids' chicks when the dogs 'found' them, I hope to catalog my efforts to force my family to live a more environment friendly life.

A torrid love affair

 I've written about the ducks quite a bit. It's a little like Peyton Place around here I think. A couple of months ago, the male d...