Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Yarn Along

Joining in with Ginny today!

Despite the warming weather, it is so nice to have yarn and needles in my hands again!  I won't even talk about all the things that had to be cleared away so I could get this picture - and the baby feet still made it in!  (these baby feet wouldn't have missed out for the world, of course).

I am knitting a Phoebe's Sweater for Clothilde.  I've had this book for years and have always intended to make Rose one and give her the book and the sweater for her birthday.  I had really hoped to right after Clothilde was born, because the story is about a new sibling.

For some reason, I always found it hard to begin - not wanting to carry the book around with me to knit it so it would be a surprise, but not having time to copy it out.

Well, I've at last made a start!  I'm knitting a small one for the littlest daughter first (I thought it wise to start small, just in case), and I have been really enjoying the slip-stitch pattern. It's just different enough to keep things interesting, but I can still read in the truck and knit on the way to the farm.

Also, a funny wool incident-  I was washing my winter wool yesterday to put away because the weather has been so hot and dry.  I had just finished spinning the water out of the last sweater, unrolled everything from the towels and had it laid nicely on my laundry tree - when the bottom fell out of the sky and it began to pour!  I quickly brought everything inside, and unfortunately the only place in my house without wood floors that won't mind the drips is my super-tiny kitchen.
Too many cooks is nothing compared to having to share with a laundry tree!  I hope today will be properly hot and dry again...

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

My Side of the Oak Thicket

We have been reading My Side of the Mountain on the way to and from the farm in the evening.  It was a book both Ethan and I enjoyed as kids, and we knew Mirin would absolutely love.  After hearing the first few chapters, he became enchanted with the idea of making a house in a tree, despite the fact that hemlock doesn't grow here and we have no such trees, unfortunately!
I suggested his pit as a good alternative, but it was too public and easy to see, he replied.  So he has been digging out a new pit for a hideout in an oak thicket.

It's almost big enough to move in, he says.

There is certainly something about nine, I think, when children start really thinking of independence, and there's that draw to go off and live by yourself - at least you think you can.  It began just before Mirin's 9th birthday.

"I'm running away," he would announce.  Or several times he began making plans to stay at the farm, even building a shelter and getting his bow ready to shoot a rabbit for a survival dinner.  Of course once a few seconds of real solitude sunk in he was back or running after the truck as we drove to the gate, saying he'd changed his mind.

When I was ten I got to live in France with my grandmother and my great-aunt and uncle for three months during summer vacation.  That separation from my family, although painful at first, was so needed.  It gave me such a great perspective on my family and my culture, and the opportunity to feel on my own and have the freedom of thought to begin that long and often upsetting change through adolescence.  I remember how important that space is to be able to try out different selves as you decide who you are going to grow into.

I also think about the yo-yo affect - how children are always having times of clinging to you.  I often feel like tearing my hair out in this phase, and long for my own silence and solitude.  Then they come right out of it and run away, leaving you sniffling and longing for the days when they were chubby and cute and wanted to be held.

And then there's some day that will come (and I know faster than I will anticipate) when they really do leave and go off on their own.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Nature Photos - Thistles

We've had some gorgeous thistles blooming at the farm this year.
The flowers look like sea anemones.  The goats love eating them.  Some of the sow thistle stalks got to be taller than I am.  They bite them off at the bottom and crunch them down until they get to the buds.  It's funny to watch.  I can't believe they don't mind the thorns!

Saturday, April 26, 2014


I knew, as soon as the first three boys were born, that it was going to be really hard to mark (castrate) the kids.  We've only ever had girls born, and I do wonder if the reason we had so many boys this time was because we didn't give them apple cider vinegar in the fall due to the cost.  They say it makes more girls.

There are about three ways, according to Natural Goat Care, to mark kids (lambs, too, I think).  Just reading about them gives me the shivers.  There are the bands and the crushers, first of all.  The bands, while easy and seemingly humane, are supposed to be the worst way.  Pat Colby cites research that showed significant abdominal bleeding from the banding.  The crushers, which sever the sperm tubes kind of like a vasectomy, also leave the buck "bucky" with his usual libido.  We didn't really want four bucks running around for another year.  The goats are hard enough to deal with without that.  So we did the third way, which is supposed to be the most humane - with an old fashioned knife.

Our friend Ed Sherwood had come out and steered Meathead with Ethan so he had some training.  I held the babies.  Although I'm sure it was pretty bad, I think it was probably more traumatic for us than the boys.  After we marked Huckleberry, I was crying and sure we had killed him.  He wasn't happy about it, of course, but the next day was bouncing around almost as if nothing had happened.  They don't bleat nearly as much as when they are dehorned, and I think mostly it is about being held down rather than the marking.

It was hard, but thank goodness it's all done for this year, and they have all healed perfectly.  It was definitely one of the hardest parts of farming (for me at least).

Friday, April 25, 2014

{this moment}

Joining in with Soulemama today!

{this moment}

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Summer Gardening Begins

The summer garden has been started!  It's like the first day of school putting the tomato starts out there - all by themselves and exposed to the elements and the harsh, cruel world.  I worried about them, but they survived the latest gusty cold front and are putting on some new growth already.  The eggplants had a close scrape.  The sprinkler was badly adjusted, and they weren't watered in well enough, but even they seem to have recovered and are settling in nicely.

We also got a crazy corkscrew carrot from the winter garden!  I still can't believe how nice the carrots are this year.  They look like sumo wrestlers compared to the usual pencil-thin-and-nubbly ones we've always grown.

I really want to grow all of our vegetables this year.  Organic vegetables these days are so freaking expensive, and now that I've been spoiled by having a lot of garden fresh vegetables, I can hardly even bring myself to eat the ones in the store.  They are so soggy and over-handled, and such a far cry from being able to be simply sauteed in butter with salt and pepper to bring out their flavor, because there just isn't much there to bring out.  After a season of mostly store veggies, with occasional bunches of broccoli, arugula and greens from the garden - I'm inspired!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Birthday Bouquet

Last week as I was looking out of the window while we were driving back from the feed store, I remarked how I couldn't believe people weren't out along the roadside gathering gorgeous armfuls of the beautiful spring flowers.  The hairy mullein is especially dramatic, sending out twisting flower spires.  Unfortunately, I think that most people respond to the wildflowers by calling the county to come mow the roadsides.

Ethan brought me this beautiful wildflower bouquet over the weekend, as an early birthday present (my birthday is on Friday).  We made some jokes about the last birthday bouquet I picked for my dad.  My parents are such nerdy nature people - they never said, "Wow, the colors are stunning," or "How unusual!  You even included a sprig of sweet peas from your garden!"

No, they didn't.  Instead all through dinner they kept up a discussion about whether the one plant was really a Lepidium or not.  I'm surprised my dad didn't get a reference book out about it!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Nature Photo - Paw Paws

The paw paws are blooming now.  They have such a striking presence in the pastures.  When I was a kid my parents would go to the Ordway-Swisher Preserve for my mom's Masters research on Opuntia pollination, and the first little way along the road was covered with pawpaws - quite a sight when they were in bloom, but even better, I thought, when the fruit was ripe.
Paw paws are actually toxic to grazing animals, but since we have a lot of other plants and we don't pressure the pastures so much, we haven't had any problems with them.  I think they might be beetle pollinated, because they are always covered with different beetles.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Celebrating Easter

Easter is one of my favorite holidays.  I love how strongly the old pagan customs are still involved in our lives - and in the Christian churches most of all!  It must have been so important, this holiday, that people just refused to give it up.  I love the strong fertility symbols that are still the focus - eggs, rabbits, light, flowers and rebirth.

This year I'm glad we celebrated Ostara and Easter.  It gave us some slack to compensate for my disorganization.  Otherwise, Easter might have been a teensy bit disappointing.  (I'll admit - I actually forgot about Easter until I causally glanced at my calendar for the first time in weeks on Wednesday evening).

Since months ago a bobcat massacred our laying flock, we only had nine eggs to dye.  But we did dye them!  And with the traditional home made natural dyes.  That meant that each kid only got to find three eggs each (It was an extra hard egg hunt).

As just a few weeks ago we had painted blown eggs for an Ostara tree, the big kids took it all in stride.  We also had made egg people by sprouting rye in halves of egg shells with faces drawn.

And luckily the Easter bunny's lack of hideable eggs was also eclipsed by the fact that I finally got around to making hot cross buns this year.  Mirin has begged for hot cross buns all year long, and he finally got to try them.  I didn't get a picture of them before they were eaten, but they were pretty good.

So now that Easter's over (whew!) I can focus on my 30th birthday that is coming up faster than I'd like it to.
See, there are good reasons to glance at a calendar occasionally!

Friday, April 18, 2014

A Big Kid, Too

Ethan and the big kids like to play a few rounds of baseball in the evenings while I am wrestling milking the goats.  It's the kind of baseball I played as a kid - a random bit of wood as first base, all the bases close together, a tennis ball and not enough players.

Someone else has been watching and learning, too!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Orchard - Is it Finally an Orchard?

When we first began farming, we immediately wanted to plant some fruit trees and blueberry bushes.  Ethan had this idea of piping water over to a distant clearing that was covered in prickly ash.  We disagreed about this, but I had no better suggestions until I looked up from fencing the garden area and noticed the field right next to it already had some wild plum trees and kind of looked like an orchard.  So that became the orchard instead.

It had a very rough start.  I was the only one going out to work every day, with both children, and Rose was just a baby.  We went out every morning, which seems like madness now because the heat became so intense that time of day that I would end up completely exhausted.  If the new chickens escaped the now defunct "Hell-on-little-wheels" coop, I would have to set the baby down in between cactus or blackberry and chase them until they were all caught.  It made me late several times to pick up my son from his twice a week Rainbow Dayschool, and this annoyed the teacher so much that she still has not forgiven me!

Dark days, those days.  We spent really more than we could afford on blueberry bushes, peaches, nectarines and persimmons in hopes of having an orchard, but of course there was no time to put them in.  I would beg Ethan to come out and plant them over the weekend, reminding him how much money we had spent, and bringing his attention to how many had already died.  The pigs had even gotten in and eaten some of them.

Perhaps it was the nagging, but on weekends, the last thing Ethan wanted to do was plant the orchard.  I would be working as fast as possible on my chores so I could plant, too, and he would shuffle around uselessly, picking at things, or disappear for a long "nature walk."

I finally got them all planted and watered in, but they were not well planted.  I didn't have the time or energy to fertilize them, and it took Ethan two years later to run water over there.  I had to carry water over in a bucket if I wanted to water them, and there were twenty blueberry plants alone!
All the plants looked miserable, neglected and stunted.  We got a handful of blueberries after a couple of years.  When people came out and we told them it was an orchard, they had to squint to see the fruit trees among the wild plums, snaggles of wild blackberries and towering dog fennel.

Two years ago I finally mulched and fertilized the trees.  They grew shockingly, and we got one peach!
Last year I laid down cardboard to keep the weeds back, and put on some compost.  The blueberries shot up.  They are now taller than me, and this year seem to be setting tons of berries!

The early blooming ones (Rabbiteye, I think), already have big berries on them.

And the peaches have peaches!  The persimmons are even blooming this year.
It's amazing what a little mulch and compost can do.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Armory

I've just discovered this charming collection of tiny swords Mirin has carved to fit his wooden knight toys.  He had been very frustrated because the spears, axes and swords they had come with have largely been lost in the house vortex or have been broken - by Mirin himself in the heat of the battle, visiting friends, and "Clonan the Destroyer," of course.

 Actually, I think Clothilde has broken most of them.  It is shocking, really, how fast the girl breaks things.

They are from black walnut, red ceder and pine he tells me.  I am amazed at his skill with a knife - when he can find his knife.  This is a reoccurring problem around here.

See, we have brownies in our house that clean things up when we're not looking, especially if there have been constant reminders to clean such-and-such up and it hasn't happened, or if there is a big fight about not sharing, or it makes an obnoxious noise, like the kazoo collection we somehow picked up at a friend's wedding (what on earth were they thinking giving someone with three kids 15 kazoos?  Oh, wait, they don't have children).   I can't tell you how busy the "brownies" have been (ahem!) with taking away his carving knives that are left carelessly in reach of the destructive toddler.  It  happens that often the brownies just can't remember where they put knife number 4 that was laying on the windowsill a week ago, so lately he borrows his little sister's knife for various projects.

Rose doesn't actually use her knife, she just keeps it around to loan it to Mirin for various extracting favors and fees.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


This story that I have at last decided to write about has some sad parts.  It also reveals how little we know about farming, and how gullible we were, unfortunately.  But I promise it has (at least for now) had a good ending.

Last fall we bought a new Jersey cow.  The man who sold her to us seemed really nice.  He had a whole story about it being his daughter's 4-H cow, and he was selling her now that she was in college.  We've always been so lucky with getting livestock - on the rare occasions we do buy new animals.  We couldn't get very close to the cow because there was another crazy cow in with her.  But she looked okay, and he was even going to drive her to our farm, which was so tempting because it is such a pain to rent a stock trailer.

So we did buy the cow.  We called her Freya.  She was pretty, one of the darker Jerseys.  A few months later, the same fellow stopped by with another Jersey cow.  He had some story about his brother having a micro-dairy, but he had all sorts of tragic things happen and now had to sell all his livestock.  He dropped the cow off and wanted us to send him a $1,000 check (it was a "drive-by cowing").  But that cow didn't really work out - I might get around to writing how we got him to pick her up again, but I still have the emotional scars (for the 18 hours she was at our farm, we called her Igor.  Don't worry, we didn't give him another $1,000 for her).

When he came back to (eventually) get Igor taken care of, I asked him a few questions about Freya, and he had totally different answers than when we came to buy her.  I realized then that he had totally lied to us.

I had mentioned before that a calf was born this spring.  That was Freya's calf.  Unfortunately, right after the calf was born, she became very ill, and lost a lot of condition very quickly.  The vet looked at her, and we thought perhaps it was a virus that dairy cows will get in the winter.  She was still up and eating, so we increased her ration, as per the vet's advice, and tried to get her to gain some weight.  It was hard to get her to eat enough.  After a month, she was getting better and better, and had gotten her appetite back.  Then we got a sudden cold rain storm, and she relapsed and ended up going down.  We called the vet and tried to get her back on her feet, but she was too weak to even hold her head up.

When the vet came to look at her, she said she had pneumonia and was struggling to breathe.  She looked in her mouth -  something we had not done (to our cost) before we bought her, and realized that she was a very old cow, and really should not have been bred.  The vet advised us to put her down, which we did.  It was a very, very sad day for us.

Her calf (Sampson) was a month old.  We put him out with the other cows.  He was glad to be among them, and Matilda was very glad to finally be able to give him a good kick.  Every time I took her down to be milked, she would stop and shake her horns at him through the fence, and he would be saucy back and kick his heels at her.  The first thing he did when he got out was to go try to nurse on Matilda.  She sure showed him.

Since then, we noticed he was following Flora around.  I've heard her mooing and mooing, not realizing it was because of him.

They will often get out of the electric fence together and go eat all the good stuff before the other cows get to it.  The other day I was watching him, and realized that she is treating him like her calf.  She's looking out for him and grooming him.  She's been mooing when he gets "lost."

I thought it was so sweet that she is so motherly towards him.  She's only 18 months, and has never had a calf of her own.  She was there when he was born, and I wonder if she had bonded with him then, because she was so upset when we moved her out away from him afterwards.

So he is not motherless after all!

Monday, April 14, 2014

The People of the Desert

We are starting another Native American block for homeschool (we are using the Christopherous 3rd grade syllabus this year).  Last week we stdied the people of the desert, which I had been really looking forward to.  

Three years ago we went on a cross-country camping trip to California along I-10, so we all got to soak up the desert environment a little.  It was amazing to watch the land and vegetation slowly change on our journey.  You could see how the lyre-leaf sage in Florida was closely related to the chia in New Mexico.  Mirin made a sword out of a saguaro rib that he still treasures all these years later.  We hiked (and got lost looking for grottos), tasted mesquite and sagebrush, identified desert animals and plants, and even stopped by the Sonoran Desert Museum - which is hands down the most amazing museum I've ever been to (I've been to lots of museums, as my mother used to work for the local museum here and went touring them all over).  The desert museum had docents giving incredibly interesting mini-lectures about the wildlife, ethnobotany, and history.  We got to hold a stone that was older than the sun - pretty amazing - and walk through their humming bird aviary.

So a lot of last week ended up being, "Remember when Rosie was two and we were in the desert..." but we also read some books about desert animals, weaving and some stories from the people of the desert.  We also learned about the cliff dwellers, the pueblos and building with adobe.

I left all the writing and more academic bits for the last day, and we did mostly stories and activities earlier in the week.  It worked out really well.  We made pots from clay - Mirin put a design on his with candle smoke.  We cooked two great dinners - one with chicken (instead of turkey, which they raised) and tortillas, and another with lima bean breads and salsa.  They were actually out of my Mayan cookbook, but they had similar foods to work with.  I wish we could have had some mesquite beans, too.

The best thing we did was the loom above.  Yes, we actually built a loom and wove on it!  I am inept at building things, so this was a huge accomplishment for me, especially since it involved sawing through a steel-like piece of old growth long leaf pine that was rescued from an old building (the nine-year-old didn't have the motivation to complete this step, so I did most of that).  It's a bit wonky - okay, it has an obvious lean to it - but it works!

Mirin had felled a weedy cherry laurel tree in the yard the week before, so we used forked branches from it and skinned them with his whittling knife.  We also got other straight branches for the other necessary sticks.  
Years ago I actually had a real Navajo loom I'd bought at an estate sale.  It had a beautiful unfinished tapestry on it.  The woman who had started it had died, and her daughter was selling her things.  She urged me to purchase it and try to finish it, despite my misgivings.  I did buy it, and ended up ruining the tapestry by trying to figure it out (this was before the internet was such a resource like it is now).  Then the loom sat in my room and gave me nightmares until I gave it away (I think it was haunted by the poor lady who started the tapestry.  I'm sure my feeble, clawing attempts were the cause).  Anyway, once I had watched a few how-to videos, it all became clear, even so many years later,  what all those sticks were used for.  It is ingenious, really, how it is set up.

Mirin was also inspired to try building an adobe-like platform on his pit.  This was all his idea, which made me so happy it had made such an impression on him.  I'm finding more and more that if I step back and let things breathe, he really gets so much more of homeschool.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Nature Photo - sunset

This was a beautiful sunset we saw while going to get another load of manure for the garden.

You may have noticed that I've changed the blog title.  This is because I have been wanting to write more about other aspects of my life other than farming, but it felt strange having it be called Fox Grape Farm.

Friday, April 11, 2014

{this moment}

Joining in with Soulemama today!

{this moment}

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Garden Update

The winter garden is still giving us small bits of edibles here and there.  Radishes - that really needed to be picked earlier, but oh well - and carrots!  They are ugly, stunted carrots, but here in Florida we will take what we can get.  And the kale!  Out of my garden?  I've longed for garden-fresh kale for years now.  It kept freezing, even the Siberian kale.  The kale and carrots went into a stew, and the radishes were on the side with butter.
We also managed to show extreme self-restraint and managed to bring some sugar snap peas home with us instead of devouring them off the vine.

I've started bringing my summer starts out to get used to their permanent home.  They are all doing very well.  I watered them with some Desert Dynamin clay mixed into the water after bringing them out, and I think they liked that a lot.  Notice all the flowers starts!  I hope it is a beautiful garden this year.

There are many more tomato starts to bring out still.  I even custom started some tomatoes and peppers for my neighbors down the street.
Planting time is coming up this weekend!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A little sewing - The Washi Dress

I love to sew and have been sewing for years now, but I still have very little experience with sewing from patterns.

I usually make my own patterns, but I haven't had the ability or time to think over enough details to really make something wearable since Clothilde was born.  It's hard enough to have time to even get out my sewing machine.  I tried making something from a pattern years ago and it was a failure.  I couldn't tell anywhere on the pattern if they had already added the seam allowance in (I now realize they did) and I cut it out wrong on a piece of corduroy so that one leg had the corduroy strip facing the wrong way!

The Washi Dress looked so cute and simple, I thought I might like to try another pattern.  That's how I learned knitting - I tried more complex patterns to challenge myself to learn different techniques and clothing construction.

Well, I did finish the first one, and I'm discovering I am not actually a "large," but rather am a "medium."  I guess that's a good thing, but it looks a little tent-like on me, so I am sewing on a tie to draw back the extra fabric.  I took my chest measurements three times, and every time ended up with a different number, so I thought it would be best to error on too large.  I also found out that I can't understitch very well at all, and I ended up hand stitching the facings.

I'm going to try another attempt, perhaps next week when I've finished sewing the tie to this one.  I know the second dress will be easier.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014


It was stormy yesterday evening when we were doing the chores, so Mirin and Rose decided to build a new kind of shelter.  It was built on The Pit, which has become a famous feature of the farm (this is actually the second and more respectable pit).  When kids come to visit, the pit gets a little larger and children end up having to be dragged away screaming and begging for more time.  We invited Mirin's cub scout troop out last summer and apparently this was the biggest highlight.  When one little scout came out to celebrate Mirin and Rose's birthdays, he leaped from his car saying, "Where's this pit I've been hearing about?"

Every kid should have a pit, no?

Ethan helped a little with the first knots, but Mirin cut all the stakes and Rose helped put the roof up.

 (Please forgive the quality of the photos.  It was nearly dark by then)

They did some more digging to shape the sides and created a great entrance slide.  It's about four feet deep now.  When we were out earlier so I could milk Nougat, all three of them played in the pit, making a nice break for my back to not have to crouch down under a kicking goat with the baby in the Ergo.  It reminded me of the Incan women in Peru who would dig a pit to keep toddlers safe while they worked on the very steep terraced mountain fields.  There's so much entertainment for a toddler in a pit!

Yes, every kid should certainly have at least one.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Monday Nature Photos

Ethan found a tiny gopher tortoise.  He must have been newly hatched.  He was in danger of being squished, so of course he was relocated to a safe spot some yards away.

No more now - we have a busy day ahead of us, as Nougat had a touch of mastitis, and we've got to go out and milk her extra today to make sure it doesn't get worse!

Friday, April 4, 2014

{This Moment}

Joining in with SouleMama today!

{This Moment}

A Friday ritual.  A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week.  A simple, special, extraordinary moment.  A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Twilight Sparkle

I didn't have a chance yet to mention that Nougat had her baby on Tuesday, and it was a girl!
Mirin and Rose are thrilled to have a Twilight Sparkle at last, but Ethan is shockingly opposed to it.  He's put up the biggest stink about the name.  He wants to call her Becky Thatcher--B.T. for short, like the bacterial toxin they genetically engineer into plants to kill things that eat them.  Mirin and Rose had a poll going around the family with signatures in favor of Twilight Sparkle, but Ethan has been unmoved.  I am surprised he cares so much about what names the goats have!  He and the goats have a subtle war of wills going on at all times.  He tries to have as little to do with the goats as possible, and the goats misbehave for him whenever they get the chance.  When I pointed out they could have wanted to name her Pinky Pie, it didn't cheer him up any.  Actually, he almost gagged a little.

So among ourselves she is Twilight Sparkle, but around Ethan she is Nougat's baby, and if you ask him she is Anything-Other-Than-Twilight-Sparkle.

I think she kind of looks like a Twilight Sparkle.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Wait, there's another one!

June Bug was due yesterday.  Her mama is May, who was Ellie's baby, born on May 1st.  June Bug was born on June 1st.  And it so happened that she was due on April 1st.  Ethan had his hopes up for an April, to add to the collection--if her baby was a girl.

Well, when we got out yesterday June Bug was still huge and pregnant, and didn't appear to be in labor.  We laughed, and said, "Of course it wouldn't be today.  There's no way she would also kid on the first of a month."
I milked everyone, which included wrestling with Nougat on the milking stand.  She was not used to being milked anymore, and was extremely badly behaved.  I have the hoof-marks to prove it.  Then I let them all out into the lush rye grass.  They were so delighted.  It was like the people walking into Willie Wonka's beautiful candy wonderland.

After I was finished milking Matilda, I noticed June Bug stop eating and find a good spot to lie down.  I thought, well maybe she's having her baby today after all.  I kept my eye on her, and she seemed to be watching me, and I thought perhaps she might want me to come over.  When I went to check on her, she looked like she was stretching her back legs a bit.  I sat down with her and said encouraging things.  Ethan was close by, so I alerted him with funny hand signals (I didn't want to shout and disturb her).  It wasn't long at all before the baby was born!  He made a little squawk and she immediately stood up and started cleaning him off.  I could tell it was a boy right away.  Ethan was disappointed he wasn't going to get to name one April this year, but I told him we could name the boy April--why not?  Or Neroneus, maybe. (Nero tried to re-name April Neroneus, but it never caught on).

June Bug had him almost all clean when she laid down again suddenly and pushed.  I thought it was the afterbirth, perhaps, and she stood up immediately and seemed to be eating it (as is the habit with most animals).  I went to get her some water and cider vinegar and something to eat while Ethan came over to bring her some nice hay.  Then he said suddenly, "Wait, there's another one!  It's twins!"

Sure enough, and the next one was a girl.  So there was an April after all.  June Bug was such a good mother.  She had them all clean and was nursing them in half an hour.

I think we are going to name the boy March.  He did come before April.
It was so amazing to be there for a birth.  It's only the second goat birth I've attended.  I think June Bug wanted company and she seemed glad I was there.  I think the rye grass inspired her.  I would have wanted to give birth in the rye, too.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014


Over the weekend we went out to do the milking, and saw two of the baby goats (Huck and Sid) playing rambunctiously together.
"Where's Tom?" I asked Ethan, who was in the paddock with me.
We walked all around the paddock, which is fairly small, but there was no sign of him.  May suddenly realized she couldn't find her baby and began to bleat (before that she was lounging around chewing her cud and didn't care).
"Could he have gotten out and been eaten?" I wondered.  Ethan didn't think so, but he was not in the paddock that we could see.  The goats began following us around.  May started to kind of freak out a little and was calling loudly now.
Then we heard a tiny little goat bleat from somewhere.  We followed it, but couldn't tell just where it was coming from.  It seemed to be in the direction of a rusty old green barrel we need to throw away (Ethan: "It's not trash, it's a 'cow toy'").
Then Tom pokes his little head  out.

Much to our relief and May's.  Now it's not trash, it's a "baby goat shelter."