Monday, September 22, 2014

Bucks Beware!

I was born and raised in a city. Not a metropolitan city like New York. My city wasn't sprawling or congested. It was just a bunch of housing developments carved out of farmland. And the city slowly grew until it reached the borders of other cities. My city grew out, not up. 

In each of my family's houses, my parents made sure we had a garden and fruit trees growing. I enjoyed working in the garden, for the most part. My problem with gardening as a child was my health. I had severe asthma and allergies. Being outside digging around with dirt and blossoms and grass could easily trigger an attack that would put me in bed for weeks. So I was typically relegated to inside tasks while the rest of my family was pulling weeds.

As an adult, with my asthma and allergies under much better control, Hubby and I have had a garden at each house we've lived in and as many fruit trees as we could fit in the yard. But we've always lived in the city. Our biggest property was a fifth of an acre, with our house sitting on a 1/3 to 1/2 of that land. And we managed the yard nicely and dreamed of living on a bigger parcel.

And now we are living the dream.

We started two years ago with three acres. Now we own FIVE! We purchased the two acre parcel that butts up next to ours. 

We are doing lots of things with the land. We are growing in our skills as homesteaders, trying to live off the land and be self-sufficient.

This post is to document one of the Skills that I have recently acquired.

Through a mutual friend, we have met an expert on the care, keeping, and judging of goats. She and our mutual friend, who we discovered is also quite proficient in the care and keeping of goats, graciously came to my house to help me improve the care of our five goats. Those two sweet gals were not thrilled with what she found when they came to visit...

Most of the advice I've been getting from other people regarding the care of goats is WRONG! The good thing, they told me, is that I have Nubian goats and Nubians are hardy creatures. The gist of the conversation basically down to: "Sarah, if you had any other breed you would have killed them off months ago. Fortunately, you have Nubians."

I felt really bad about that, but they were kind and reassuring with me. I've since put a lot of what they told me into practice and am working on incorporating the rest of it over the next couple of months. 

Then we talked about the quality of my goats. I know that two of my does are absolute mutts (I don't know the correct goat term for this, so am using the dog term) so I wasn't concerned about them. And I knew that our milking doe had some problems, after all--she came to us with mastitis and we'd battled that for months. So I knew she wasn't the best quality.

What surprised me was her assessment of my bucks. Fred, the bigger buck, has more meat goat traits than dairy. His bone structure is also off. But the big surprise was that they said Fred is super aggressive! 

All of the behaviors that I had translated as Fred being a shy goat are actually signs of aggression. Yowsers!! We watched Fred and George, the younger and smaller goat, for about half an hour, with the expert gal pointing out all of the aggressive behaviors and the bad body structure. Choosing a buck to breed with your does is a HUGE decision. You need to be sure that the buck has good diary characteristics or you can end up with a doe who is not a good milker. Of course, the gals said this in Goat Terminology. They also pointed out the wonderful qualities in George. That goat truly is a sweet goat. He likes people, he likes my children. And his body structure is dairy and healthier long term.

And so we had a decision to make: Sale Fred to someone else for either meat or the breeding of meat. OR Weather Fred.

After talking to Hubby, we decided to Weather Fred.

And that, dear friends, is the new skill that I have acquired: I know how to Weather a buck/buckling. 

The gal did the actual banding while I held Fred still. That goat has GROWN since we got him in March. I straddled Fred at the shoulders and held on to his collar. He is a tall buck! Luckily, I have long legs. The gal was behind him with a banding tool. I have to tell you, although Fred is not yet full grown...his testicles are the size of a full grown buck. They were huge. It took some effort and finagling for the gal to get the band around his testicles. Fred was not happy with her messing with his boy bits. He tried jump and "buck" about, but I held that big goat firmly in place. I am super impressed with myself and my buff thigh muscles. Haha! 

Anyways, that was a few weeks ago. Fred's testicles have shrunk and now look like a hairy pancake. Seriously. That is what they look like.

We're going to add a second band this week to finish the weathering process. They'll continue to wither and eventually fall off.

And so...

Bucks Beware! 

I know how to Weather!  ;)

Saturday, June 21, 2014


Hubby has wanted chickens ever since we moved to our country home. For Father's Day we surprised him with six chickens and a rooster. They're already a family, so we don't have to worry about too much infighting...the pecking order is already decided.
Jim, our four-year old son, has been waiting for the chickens to lay some eggs. Chickens tend not to lay for a while when they're moved to a new home. They have to get used to the new environment. After a week of waiting, today the chickens laid some eggs. This morning Jim collected two eggs. He was so excited! He showed them to every member of the family twice then went out to show the goats that the chickens had laid some eggs. After that he carefully placed them in the fridge, where he faithfully checked on them about every ten minutes.
This evening when I went out to milk our goat, Jim checked the hen house. There were four more eggs! He could hardly believe his luck. He ran inside, grabbed a basket, and carefully placed each egg in the basket. Then he went to the fridge, took the two eggs from this morning out and placed them into the basket. He sat down on our front stoop and gently placed the basket beside himself. I was sitting on the stoop too, cleaning mud off shoes.
After a few minutes sitting there with Jim and the eggs, Jim lets out a big sigh and says: "I just waiting and being patient, but these eggs not hatch yet."
I tried to explain to him that the chickens need to keep the eggs if he wants them to hatch into chicks in a month or so. He told me no, he would be patient and they would hatch today.
I love that he thinks if he is patient enough those eggs will hatch. I love the faith and logic of my sweet four-year boy! And I love that he is already developing patience at this age. Hopefully, he won't be too put off when those little eggs don't hatch. :)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Working Mom

I just noticed that my user profile is outdated. I'm going to update that.

Currently it reads:
"I am a Wife, Mother, Sister, and Daughter. I enjoy quilting, cooking, eating, service, gardening, and quality time with family & friends. :)"

My occupation is listed at "Mom & Quilter". That has changed a bit.

My location is "Vaudeville, Southwest, United States." I put that location in an attempt to maintain anonymity.

As I was reading my profile I thought, Sheesh! What is with the random ampersand usage?

I am changing my occupation to "Mother, Homesteader, and Legal Assistant"

I seriously want to change to location. Vaudeville sounded cute and fun a few years ago. Now, it sounds lame. Haha! It's interesting how a person's tastes can change. Hubby's new job doesn't require me to be secretive online. So I might put on actual location in my profile. But I might not. I haven't decided yet.

As for the intro paragraph, I have no idea what to write. But I don't want to keep what I've got. It sounds too cheesy to me now.

Decisions, decisions.

It's hard to write a concise paragraph that conveys to readers an accurate glimpse into my life. I guess if you really want to get to know me, you need to read through some of my old posts.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Hello Again

It has been a year and a half since I last posted. That is pathetic. The problem is I keep going back and forth on whether to post or not. Whether anyone really wants to read about my goings on. And then I start to feel really vain for wanting to post. But it truly is not vanity that brings me here. It is the thought that some of my family and friends from lands far away want to stay connected. And the way we connect is through blogs. So here I am again. Giving blogging another shot.
If you know me at all, you know that I like lists. I think a list is a good way to catch you up to speed.
1. Many of the trees I planted last year died! It was very sad for me. I lost some citrus to frost. I lost my peaches to a bacteria. I lost my plums and apricots to the heat. I lost a couple apples to a Haboob.
2. I have since replaced the dead trees. The new trees are doing much better.
3. Today, I planted two almond trees. One is a Ne Plus Ultra and the other is a Nonpareil. They look pretty cute.
4. We got goats. I have three Nubian goats. Desi is a 2 year old female. She is in milk currently. The kids and I have enjoyed milking her and using the milk in various ways. Fred is a 3 month old buckling. George is a 2 month old buckling. Those two boys are gorgeous! I am completely loving those goats. Some people warned that they smelled bad. But I have discovered that I like their smell. It reminds me of elementary field trips to the Phoenix Zoo and taking my own kids to that Zoo.
5. Hubby started his own law practice. He has been busy getting things set up. The business is really rolling along.
6. Rose will soon be graduating 8th grade and moving on to high school. Nonny will soon graduate 6th grade and move on to middle school. I am excited for them to enter this new phase of life. They are having mixed emotions: happy, scared, nervous, excited, overwhelmed, anxious, and so forth. It is kind of funny to watch them cycle through the emotions. I am SO glad that I am finished with that phase of life. It was a stressful time being a teenager!
7. Jim has been attending speech therapy preschool. His poor little ears were having some issues. We got those issues fixed, but he's got to go to speech therapy to correct some things.
Well, that is a good start.