Farm Disaster Month

20170308_130132We’ve had more excitement than I’d like this month. The big March winds last week flipped the goat shed over onto its roof. Nobody was hurt, thankfully, but we had to do some crazy maneuvering with the jeep to pull it back over. A few minutes later it flipped right over again. This motivated us  to move it further behind the barn and stake it down on two corners so hopefully we’ve eliminated that problem for the future.

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Old Silver

I’ve been sadly watching one of the old hens gradually decline. I’m assuming this was just a natural function of old age because nobody else was affected. Silver was moving slower all the time and finally spent her days sitting alone in quiet corners with her head tucked between her shoulders. My heart ached for her but I did not want to figure out how to hasten the process so I just checked on her every day, expecting one day to find her still and expired.

Here is where the sadder part of the story comes in. Yesterday I let the dogs out for an hour of fresh air after being cooped up all morning while we were away at church. I thought I heard a faint beeping behind the music I was listening to. I finally roused myself to check on it and I  discovered that Fionn had exceeded the perimeter of his wireless fence and was a good hundred feet beyond it, somewhere.

I bundled up and hurried outside to find him and went first to the goats to make sure he wasn’t bothering them. I opened the door to peek into the chicken coop and there he was, cornered and guilty, standing over a bloody chicken! I chased him home and locked him up in his crate after screaming at him furiously.

I returned to the chickens and found Silver dead and Goldy mortally injured. The rest of the chickens were huddled in fear out in the goat shed. There were feathers everywhere. I put Goldy out of her misery and buried them both out in the field.

This is really hard for me. As horrified as I was, I can’t really blame Fionn for following his instincts when he discovered he could somehow reach those chickens. I was sure that if I kept the batteries fresh in the radio collars I wouldn’t have to worry about the dogs getting out to the barn. I don’t know what went wrong, and we aren’t sure how he got past the electric fence as well. If the dog could do it, so could coyotes or foxes.

My idyllic farm life has suddenly been disrupted by the realities of danger and risk, and it is really upsetting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Time Between

20170303_134221This is that dull time between seasons, when the winter has become boring and routine and the spring’s repeated teasing and retreating is already getting old. My animals are feeling the same way, I think. The goats are impatient for whatever new excitement spring holds. Most of the time they curl their front legs under them and sleep in the yard. When I go to visit with a handful of peanuts, they show off for me, playing king of the mountain on their spools.

The chickens fan out into the field every morning looking for fresh new morsels but by late afternoon the old girls are already huddled on the roost in the coop ready to call it a day.  20170303_133949I have found that these old hens have adopted the goat shed as their daytime roost, where they can bask in the sun when it actually shines, coming through the hole the goats chewed in the tarp that was supposed to block the wind and rain. The young whipper-snappers wander freely around the barnyard but the old ones no longer share their curiosity.

I am occupying my own time trying to learn some new tricks. I took knitting lessons to find ways to use my thousand yards of mohair yarn from the goats. I’ve already made two hats and am now working on a scarf pattern I found in a spinning manual. My fingers are sore from pressing against the needle tips for hours.

What I have found is that my natural tendency to want to finish things is working against me. I find it really hard to put the knitting down until it is done and it has kept me up late at night or through long afternoons listening to the TV. Killing time usually makes me feel guilty but this time waster is creating actual tangible products so I have mixed feelings.

A fun development here in my part of the world is that there is a new yarn shop in town that is building up clientele by offering classes and an open knitting night for people to gather in the back of the store and chat while they work their magic. I went for the first time last week and really enjoyed the company of six or seven friendly women. I was flattered that the owner posted a photo of my first creation on her facebook page. I still don’t “do” facebook, but I discovered you can still see commercial pages without an id.

20170302_101235So, last, here is a parting shot of my dog, Fionny, watching longingly out the window for something to bark at.

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Signs of Spring 2017

20170218_074454We are having an early thaw and it’s fun to see all the harbingers of spring around the farm. We met this little guy in the driveway this morning and the dogs were thrilled. He “played possum” and waddled away as soon as the coast was clear. Possums have kind of charming little faces until they show their teeth.

I recently met a major milestone, in that I finished spinning all the mohair from my two angora goats. Since this was my first experience with it, I am sure it took a lot longer than it will in the future. I ended up with (literally) about a thousand yards of home-spun yarn. Now, I am in the middle of knitting lessons so I become capable of making things with what I have created.

20170217_160907Now that I have finished the whole mohair cycle, the goats have regenerated that long curly hair and next month I’ll have to shear them again. I would really prefer to pay someone to do the shearing because it was hard! I felt very inept and frustrated and vowed to farm out the work next year. I haven’t yet been able to find someone to do it and after six months, I can’t help thinking, “How hard could it really be for just two goats?” I was not yet that comfortable with handling them in September but we are more familiar now. Let’s see what happens.20170217_161013

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My Poor Ely

20170127_093549Yesterday, I was mystified when I checked on the goats for the night because Ely kept his head down even when I reached out to scratch his head. It was raining and cold and I had things to do so I left him alone to work it out. I laid in bed this morning, considering what I’d do if he were still in that state at breakfast time. I imagined a sprained muscle in his neck, maybe an ear infection, or who knows what.

When I went out to feed them this morning, I managed to get ahold of his head and try to tip it up. It turns out his beard had managed to freeze and mat up with the hair on his chest and he was effectively reined into that position. Poor guy! I went in for a scissors and after some chasing, managed to get him by the hair and hold him long enough to snip the connection and cut off some of the matting.20170127_093639

It seems like his brother, Eddy, could have helped out but while they are playmates they do not team up to help each other. In his constrained state, Ely could not eat out of the trough, pull hay from the rack, or perhaps even drink from the water bucket. The chickens were taking advantage of the situation and were all over the empty space at the goat food trough.

After I’d fixed him up, Ely hurried to the shed and began to chow down. I’m hoping he will also chase the chickens back to their own territory but it seems they have come to tolerate one another’s company pretty well. The goats are close to 100 pounds so I suspect they can stand up for themselves if20170127_093648 necessary.

I am learning how to be a goat mom by trial and error and this is just one more lesson for me. Some things that make me want to step in are really not my business. For other problems, though, I am really the savior of the flocks. I think only first hand experience will teach me the difference.

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Cozy Nest

20170117_113758I was looking for something in the barn yesterday and went to check inside a cabinet. See who was looking back out at me from a nest of insulation gathered from the walls. I should really have scooped it all out and scattered them but I did not have the heart to disturb these babies. I abandoned my plan to get a barn cat last fall in favor of traps but clearly they aren’t working. Maybe next year.

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Frozen Drips

20170113_092619There is a sheen of ice on everything, with drips off the trees and the fence caught in suspended animation as the temperature fluctuates between 32 and 30 all day long. The electric fence stopped its warning “tick” which probably indicates the ice is rendering it useless. At the same time, I don’t trust it not to shock me because when the frozen water thaws enough to conduct electricity it could travel through normally safe surfaces.

This was not one of those ice storms that weighs down branches and splinters the trees. It is just deceptively hazardous. I don’t like that condition on the road so I stayed home all day yesterday. The door to into the chicken coop is stuck tight.  I am waiting for the sun to come out to break the spell and let those frozen drips loosen and fall so we can get on with things.

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Spring Teaser

20170111_155551We are in a temporary thaw, with furious winds last night shaking the house and helping to evaporate off some of the excess moisture. The animals are taking this as a sign of spring and everyone is frisky. I opened the door to the chickens and they quickly spread out into the field to stretch their spindly little legs. The goats were delighted with the company and thundered at a gallop from one end of the pasture to the other, wagging their tails all the way.

I am not going to tell them the truth…that in a few days we’ll be back to winter and being cooped up and squeezed back into the narrow snowy path between the hay rack and the shed. I dread going out to put the chickens to bed because they were spread all the way out to the tree line and I don’t want to have to chase them all over with a stick. Hopefully, they will recognize bedtime and come in on their own. Last night I had to wade out to the goat shed because the gang of six decided to have a sleepover. I said no.

20170111_155905I strolled over to the pond and enjoyed the play of light over the melting ice. The temperature changed so fast that it is melting from the top down rather than the center out, if you know what I mean.

Now it has started raining and the sun has disappeared so I guess I’d better get booted back up and go rustle myself some chickens.

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The Babies Are Grown

Back in July I invested a small amount of cash in six baby chicks. I purchased Isa Browns because my “Isa” was a consistent daily layer of one jumbo brown egg. I watched them grow from sweet fuzzies to gawky dinosaurs running in a pack from corner to corner, avoiding the pecking beaks of the adults. I protected them with their own fenced area that the big birds couldn’t squeeze into until it seemed they had crossed the threshold of adulthood and needed to enter the coop to keep warm at night. I worried over them as they resisted that transition and tried to encourage them with no success.

20170109_111029Well, I am happy to report that the transition has completed, at five months of age. While we were away on a little vacation, the chicks began laying little brown eggs and sleeping up on the roost with the rest of the flock. They no longer seem to be getting bullied by the big girls and here they are clustered around the rooster like devoted groupies. The only way I can tell them apart from Isa, herself, is the smaller immature combs on their heads.

I wasn’t expecting eggs from this younger generation until spring, but they are suddenly producing four or five a day. They have very hard shells as my other chickens did at first, and they are decidedly “medium” eggs. I have gotten accustomed to the large to jumbo eggs from my big girls and this abundance of little almost-round eggs is interesting. See the difference between Isa’s jumbo egg over on the right and the large blue ones from my Araucanas.20170109_111532

This is fun to observe. The babies grew up running freely about the barnyard all day, and being cooped up by the snow is something new for them. They still stick together in a pack and my farm-sitter said they fought back with their beaks when he tried to herd them into the coop. Life in the flock will be changed forever by their influence. Hopefully for the better – I am not looking for an “Animal Farm” revolution.

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New Year, New Skills

That awkward number, “2017”, is starting to sound as familiar as all the previous ones did. I look back on all the new things I learned last year and am feeling good about the plunges I took and bobbed back up from. If nothing else, I learned that I can adapt to anything I throw at myself. This year I’m moving on to knitting!

Just before Christmas, I dug in and started spinning the lovely blue-dyed mohair that I took from Eddy. Trial and error, my best learning method, showed me the value of some of the steps that spinners do not skip. The main one was “carding” the fiber. This is when you use tools to pull and separate the clumps of fiber so that they all are lying in the same direction.

Thinking that this was an unnecessary step, I jumped right to spinning and I discovered that it was very hard to do. The threads were lumpy and ripped apart each time I got rolling so that with a good deal of swearing I had to restart every yard or so.

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Finally, I gave in and went to the pet store to purchase two big dog brushes. I placed a handful of mohair on the first brush and then pulled against it with the second until all the hairs were separated and fluffed up into a cloud-soft puff. Surprise! Spinning became as easy as pie!

20170107_095037So far, I have spun four nice skeins of blue 2-ply yarn. The second two are more uniform than the first, due to gaining experience (and carding), but other than that there isn’t much visible difference. I think I’ll get at least two more skeins before I have used all the fiber from the first shearing. Then I’ll start on Ely’s gray-black hair.

I have never been good at knitting. Keeping track of the numbers and manipulating two needles at once are both challenging for me. I have crocheted a bit but even that is inconsistent and sloppy. Still, with all this mohair lovingly processed by hand, I really must take it to the end and create some of my own stuff. That is on the 2017 list.

 

 

 

 

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Foiled Again

Perhaps I am just an overly nervous, first-time goat mom. I have put them into the barn several nights now, out of fear that they’d be too cold out in their shelter. But I am beginning to think it is my problem, not theirs.

I was concerned because the wind beat holes in the tarp that encloses the front of their shelter, so I went to the hardware store and bought a roll of Gorilla Tape, the one the man at the store said was the strongest and most likely to hold anything down. First, I used it to tie down the food tray that hangs from the wall in their shelter. They keep knocking it upside down for some reason, so my aim was to hold it firmly to the bar on which it hangs.

Even as I worked to secure the tape around the bar, they were already busily nibbling the other end and trying to dismantle my work. I had to tuck my gloves firmly in my pockets so they wouldn’t steal them while my fingers were busy ripping tape. I think I managed to get it stuck in an area they can’t reach so perhaps the food will no longer get dumped.

20161220_130749Next, I began securing long strips of tape to the battered tarp. I beat the goats away as they did everything they could to rip it back off while I worked and they finally wandered off. Suddenly, Eddy’s white nose and teeth poked through the hole from the inside of the shed and ripped a big hunk of tape right through the opening. Aaagh!

So, what I’d thought was the wind creating those holes was actually just bored goats chewing them open from the inside. I guess I give up. At least they did not have any interest in swallowing the tape so I don’t have to worry about emergency vet visits.

20161220_130039Last, was to break the thin layer of ice off the top of their heated water bucket. Oops, it was one solid block of ice. I’d moved the bucket back outside when I let the goats out of the barn but forgot to plug it in. I had to bring it in to thaw and remove the big ice cube and then replace it in the pen. They only showed marginal interest in the water, despite all the work I put into getting it for them.

So the moral of the story is… Quit worrying so much, they are fine.

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The First Really Cold Night

It is one of those days I just feel grateful to be able to sit in a snug, warm house. Listening to the howling wind shaving the edges of the dry snow off all traces of my afternoon footprints, I took pity on my poor goats. If ever they need the stall in the barn, this must be it. The wind chill is well below zero already.

20161214_173043We went out and emptied the stall of the things we’d stored there, threw down some pine shavings and put a bit of hay in the feeder. I thought ahead and closed the door to the chicken coop so the goats couldn’t crowd into that space and throw everyone into a panic. It’ll keep the chickens warmer tonight, anyway. We moved the heated water bucket into the barn and were all ready to go.

I unhooked the electric fence and Ely came zooming into the chicken run with a mischievous glint in his eye. When I did not scold him, he wasn’t sure what to do next. Eddie began bleating in panic that he was separated from his buddy and I herded him through the door and locked it. Then, I just had to coax them both into the barn. It wasn’t so hard with a few peanuts.

We watched for a while as they got acclimated. They quickly figured out how to use the dog cot although their first idea was to chew on it. Eddie stood up on his hind legs to look out the window and see what forbidden things he could reach. I am pretty confident they can’t do anything really bad, but I won’t worry about them tonight, at least as much as I would have. We’ll see what I find in the morning.

 

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Where is Everybody?

20161204_173924I went out to check on the chickens and tuck them in tonight. Even though I’ve put a heat lamp in the coop to give them twelve hours of light, they had filed into the coop for the night at 5:30 pm. I looked in on them and the roost was suspiciously uncrowded and cold.

I turned my head and found the rest of the big girls. The nest boxes are not supposed to double as  bunk beds! 20161204_173930That explains my having to scoop droppings out of the wood shavings every morning.

Still, that only accounted for the eight adults. Where are all the babies? I went out to the run to see, and here they all were, piled in a warm pyramid. You would think that warm light coming from the coop door would lure them in.  It looks like I’m not going to be able to socially engineer this after all. 20161204_173823

 

 

 

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Building a Community

20161127_161617It seems to me that life in the barnyard must be pretty dull. Each day is pretty much like the last and visits from those at the house come only a couple times a day. And so, it is heartening to me to observe my goats and chickens beginning to appreciate each other’s company.

I kept the chickens penned up this morning since we’d be away until after lunch. When I did get out to visit and opened their door, they streamed out excitedly and the whole pack of them headed into the goat shelter to look for stray food pellets. Ely sniffed around to investigate and the chickens paid him no mind other than to flap a little out of the way if his big clunky hooves got close.20161127_161332

I sense that they kind of enjoy one another’s company. That makes me happy. Watch out, it also makes me think about expanding the family.

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Wooly Sweaters in the Cold

Angora goats produce thick, warm mohair as their profession. When it is washed and sorted it is as soft and sweet-smelling as can be. On an outdoor goat, though, it gets dirty, stiff, and smells pretty much like a farm animal.

I’ve been a bit worried about my goats as we approach their first winter. We’ve gone below freezing several nights but I find that they choose to spend  the night lounging up on their wooden spools instead of cuddling together in their nice dry shelter. 20161122_073320Often when I go out to feed them in the morning, Ely is eagerly waiting with his back in curly whorls of icy frost. I have tried a few things to get them comfortable sleeping in their shed. I moved their food into a trough in the shed, I added straw, and earlier we’d enclosed the front with a tarp to keep the wind and wetness out. Still, I find this frosted hair in the morning. One especially wet and windy day they actually did huddle up in their shed, but the next two mornings there they were again, freezing in the yard.

The baby chicks, too, are resisting sleeping in the coop at night with the older chickens. They haven’t cracked the code of the poultry pecking order yet, and they don’t seem to feel they have the right to hop up onto the roost with the big girls and keep warm. Instead, they huddle into a close, feathery pile on top of a straw bale.

I can only hope that these animals are not too stupid to keep warm when the real snow begins to fly. The mother in me wants to force them to protect themselves, but I am trying to learn to let go and trust that it will all work out.

 

 

 

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Visiting Dignitaries

We are babysitting our daughter’s two little doggies for a few days and enjoying their discoveries on the farm. They are adapting gradually to our schedule and finding their places in the pack running around the house.

This afternoon we went out to visit the goats and there was a lot of curiosity on both sides of the fence.20161024_1318300

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Ramping up Defenses

20161024_112628Since our goats demonstrated that a little plastic fence will not contain them anymore, we brought out the big guns. Yesterday, we installed six-foot metal T-posts with insulators to attach another electric barrier. This time, it is only a small rectangle to keep the goats away from the entrance to the chicken run.

It was not such an easy job, even though we had installed many times more posts this summer to fence in the pasture.  We were out of practice and handled the heavy posts awkwardly. I grabbed for one that was falling and lost my balance, crashing to the ground and hurting myself. It was a good reminder that silly mistakes can have serious consequences, but fortunately this morning I am fine, albeit rather sore.

It did not dawn on me until half-way through that I should pen up the goats to keep them out of the way. They chewed on everything foreign that they could find, grabbing tools, jackets, and plastic bags of insulators when they were not up out of reach. They watched with eagle eyes any time the door to the chicken run looked like they could breach it and scooted with surprising speed around our legs in an attempt to squeeze in.

Once, the wind blew the unsecured door slightly ajar. Ely ran through before I could grab him and ran full tilt into the coop to steal chicken feed. I shoved him back out and closed the door and then hooked his head in my shepherd’s crook, dragging him all the way to the shelter to lock him in. The fencing job got easier after they were both locked up.  In their frustration, they spent the next half hour butting heads and wrestling as the walls of the shed shuddered and thumped.

So now, the goats are once again held back away from the chickens but they have access to the whole pasture instead of just half of it. The new electric fence is a bit trickier to open up because metal posts can easily take a charge if the wires touch them. You’d be surprised how frequently I forget and get shocked for my carelessness.

Even though they frustrate us to no end, my husband and I are kept in stitches by the antics of those stubborn, playful goats.  I wonder what they will come up with next to foil our defenses? We may have to dig a moat!

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We’ve Got a Problem

in-the-coopSince my two mischievous goats discovered the fun of getting into the chicken coop, they are routinely breaking down the electric fence posts and invading foreign territory.  We went out for the afternoon and came home to find them lounging comfortably in the chicken run. The rooster was frustrated, standing outside in the light rain, unable to do a thing about it.

I am stumped over how to prevent this anymore. The fence they are breaking down is the temporary one we use to divide the pasture into two alternate grazing areas. The posts are plastic and they have broken two of them to bits as they stomped their way through the barrier. I haven’t seen them doing it so I don’t know why the electric charge doesn’t faze them.
proud-rascalsThey were both clearly very proud of themselves and came to meet me at the fence to show off their accomplishment. It’s hard to get too mad at those adorable faces, but I’ve got to find a solution or I’ll have to start closing the door and penning the hens in their  chicken run instead of giving them freedom during the day. Then, what will be the next game for the goats to master?

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The Shadow of Winter

It frosted last night, prompting us to attend to the goats’ winter quarters. We nailed a nice tough tarp across most of their shelter to keep out the worst of the wet winds. 20161014_112243Eddy and Ely were really curious about the changes to their bedroom and tried mightily to get a good bite out of it. Eddie kept reaching out with his lips to grab the shadow of a chain hanging off the gate but just could not get a good hold on it. 20161014_111242The unexpected feature of the tarp was letting in lots of sun and creating a shadowbox looking out from the inside. Maybe they will come to enjoy playing with that.

We now have that nice indoor stall ready for the really bad weather, but I will be testing out the shed to keep them warm outdoors as long as possible. I think I’ll add straw bedding a little later in the season as well. The boys surprised me this week when they continued roaming about the field in the middle of a cold, blowing rainstorm. Their hair got wet and as it dried it got stiff and crusty. It must be great insulation, anyway.

 

 

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Getting My Goat

It turns out my goats have a sense of humor! I have made it my schedule at the first of every month to trim their hooves and give them their de-worming medicine, and here it is, October.

20161003_164922My husband has built me this wonderful little goat stall just inside the door to the chicken run in case it gets too cold this winter to leave them outside. It has a cushy rubber floor, a hay feeder, and a nice little swinging gate. I decided to set up their grooming table in the stall and bring them in one at a time for a trimming.

Eddie was so traumatized last month when I brought him into the barn to be sheared, he hid from me for the next two weeks. So this time, I started with Ely, dragging him through an opening in the electric fence into the barn and lifting him onto the table. He was agreeable about putting his head into the stand as long as there was a peanut waiting at the other end. Ely will do anything for a treat.

Trimming his hooves was not so hard. I’ve done it once before and I brushed up on the technique on you-tube videos first. Still, Ely shuffled and bleated while I wrestled his feet into position. My husband came to watch the entertainment and burst out laughing when suddenly, brushing past my legs, a white blur of goat crowded into the stall. Eddie did not want to be left behind in the goat yard.

I finished the job on Ely, shoving Eddie out of the way each time he tried to jump up to be next to his brother.  I pushed Ely out the door and turned to Eddie to get him up onto the table. He would have none of it. Each time I reached for him, he scooted around the other side of the table. I shoved it against the wall to corner him, and he squeezed underneath beyond my reach. When I finally grabbed him by the horns, I had to drag him up onto the table he previously was dying to share. He lay flat on his belly, forcing me to lift him up onto his feet. As I pulled and coaxed and shoved his head into the restraint, my husband yelled, “Ely is in the chicken coop!”

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Sure enough, rather than trot politely back to the goat yard while I was busy with his brother, Ely went exploring in the chicken run. First, he hopped up onto their little platform to look around. Then, he noticed the inviting little door with the ramp up into the coop. I’d have never thought he could squeeze in there but in he went with no hesitation. I had my hands full with Eddie, so my husband had to run out to push Ely back out and close the trap door.

At last, with all eight feet trimmed, I went to herd the boys back into their own yard. I was able to pull Ely by the horns across the normally electrified barrier, but each time I turned to go get Eddie, Ely tried to follow me. My husband went to stand guard over Ely while I chased Eddie down with the shepherd’s crook. He really did want to be with his brother, but dodging me was so much fun he had to make a fool of me just a little while longer.

Finally, two goats back in their yard and the mess on the floor swept up, I remembered that I needed to give them their medicine. Sure, I did not think to do it while they were restrained. I easily squirted a dose into Ely’s eager mouth, but I gave up on Eddie who kept up his game of keep-away. We’ll try again tomorrow, when he is hungry and not expecting it.

 

 

 

 

 

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Pastoral Experiences

20160924_164808I looked up the word “Pastoral” to make sure I was not misusing it. No, it means, “having the simplicity, charm, serenity, or other characteristics generally attributed to rural areas.” Some days are just like that.

My boys seem to look to me to be the top goat. They don’t venture out into their pasture much unless I lead them out there, which seems just crazy to me. We went to a lot of trouble to give them lots of space and good grazing, but they spend their days in the small area between their shed and the barn. When the mosquitoes aren’t too bad, I’ll grab a handful of peanuts and lure Ely out into the field. He quickly discovers the tasty grass and weeds and begins to chow down.

Eddie, however, is a big baby. He stands on the wooden spools watching us forlornly and bleating out that his heart is broken that he has been left alone. I try to call him out to join us, but he stays rooted to his familiar area. One time, he ran and hid in his metal shed and his cries reverberated so that I hurried back to make sure he was okay. I finally got him to come out and join us and although he was nervous about it, even Eddie figured out that this green stuff was pretty tasty. Still, when I begin to move back towards the barn they take off running, afraid to be left behind.

Each evening, I give them fresh food and water and bid them good night. I have to count the chickens to make sure everyone is fenced in before I close their gate. I’ve had trouble with the six babies. They run around the yard in a tight little pack and I have to herd them through the door into the fenced run.  If one decides she doesn’t want to go in yet, they all veer off back into the yard and I can’t help but laugh at myself in my futility as I chase them down.

20160925_184219Last night, I remembered that my brother had given me an old shepherd’s crook he’d found somewhere and I had hung on a nail in the barn. I took it out to help with the chicken herding. Wow, that was really effective! It extended my reach so that I did not have to bob and weave to keep them going in the same direction. Their peripheral vision caught movement everywhere behind them and I was able to scare them into the doorway in one try.

My hope is that eventually even the babies will naturally migrate to the coop at evening feeding time and then even up onto the roosting  bars with the rest of the flock to sleep. One evening when I went out a bit late to tuck them all in, the adults had already turned in. I quietly  scooped up two chicks at a time and placed them onto the roosting bars alongside their aunties. One or two hopped back down and out the door, but I at least gave them the idea. I have not yet figured out if they took the cue and are sleeping inside the coop on their own. They are all out by the time I come see them in the morning.

 

 

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