Goat Gremlins

Goat Gremlins

This is how it all started.

Last weekend I was trying to address the never ending tasks of cleaning the kitchen. Usually this feels like trying to stop a waterfall with a tea strainer . I mean, how do you clean something that is in constant use?

I digress, as I was saying, I was trying to clean the kitchen and came across a box of stale store bought donuts. I had bought them on a whim and we weren’t impressed. Which is both amazing (since I’m not the pickiest eater) and fantastic (since I’ve been unsuccessfully trying to diet). Anyway, I decided that the goats would probably enjoy these delicacies since they’re slightly less picky than I am.

I grabbed the donut box,  slipped on some shoes and headed out to the goat pasture. As I drew near the gate the goats all came running to see what gifts I came bearing. It took only a single taste from one of the gals before they all figured out I had something that something special that met with their approval. The herd swarmed the gate, pushing and yelling, trying to snatch the treats from my hands before anyone else could get any. I had wanted to evenly distribute the donuts and make sure they all received a share, but I quickly became preoccupied trying to keep track of my fingers and ensuring they didn’t get  snapped up by an overly enthusiastic and hungry  goat. All in all it I was feeling a bit too much like being in a Wal-Mart during a Black Friday sale. A mixture of exciting, kind of terrifying and wondering what I had gotten myself into.

All sweetness and innocence before the donuts.

During all this excitement, and while I was distracted with trying to keep track of the well being of my fingers, I failed to notice that the goats in their drunken, sugar fueled frenzy, were straining the industrial strength farm gate and latch. Without even a hint of remorse or warning the chain gave up any pretense of trying to keep the gate closed and it flew open and directly into me. Thankfully, I still had all my fingers and was able to catch the runaway gate before it caught me fully in the face. However, now I was stuck with a dilemma. There wasn’t enough intact chain to re-secure the gate and if I let go of the gate to go get more chain the goats would make a break for it. I yelled for Hubs….and yelled……and yelled….. Did I mention he’s a bit hard of hearing?

At this point, I recognized the seriousness of my situation. I was all that stood between the hangry goat herd and the lush, overgrown grass and more importantly, the brand new, baby grape leaves in our new vineyard. This was dire indeed.  I threw the rest of the donuts over the fence in hopes of placating the super sugar charged herd and prayed hard that Hubs would hear me. He eventually wandered outside and found me fighting to hold the gate closed. He grabbed some items out of the goat barn, rigged a temporary solution and hurried off to the shop to locate a more substantial chain and latch.

Now that I was relieved from gate duty, I wandered down to the vineyard to catch my breath and appreciate the fact that my precious grape vines had been saved. At least that was the plan, until I heard excited goats yelling what resembled a war cry. I looked up to find the goats had once again broken the temporary latch and were making a mad prison break from their pasture. I ran as fast as my slip on shoes would allow up the hill, shouting threats and obscenities all the way and managed to catch the gate before the entire herd had escaped. I found myself once again yelling for Hubs, and also yelling for the goats to stay away from the vineyard.  Hubs eventually returned and fixed the gate. We rounded up the escapees without too much drama and only minor pruning to the grape vines and secured the gate with a heavier duty chain and latch.

I wish I could say Boomer rounded the goats up during the jail break , but unfortunately he thought they had just come out to play.

The lesson to be learned here is this, much like you should never give a Mogwai water for fear of being overrun with Gremlins (if you don’t get this movie reference you really must watch Gremlins), you should never feed a goat donuts…..unless you have much better behaved goats than my heathens. Because in my case, just as the cute little Mogwai turn into scary gremlins, feeding donuts to my cute and cuddly goats turn them into super strong, sugar frenzied goat gremlins. Lesson learned. Sorry goats, no more donuts for you, from now on we’re in this diet thing together.

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Anniversaries and the Farm Life

Anniversaries and the Farm Life

It’s our anniversary weekend and so like many people we’ve been making plans on how to pack the day full of things that we enjoy. For some people that may mean, fancy dinners and expensive gifts, but for us it means spending the day working on the farm. Yes, our anniversary sounds a lot like every other day on the farm, but I truly believe the best life is one you don’t need a vacation from. Our anniversary happened to fall on World Naked Gardening Day but we decided the best gift we could give ourselves (and our neighbors) was to bypass this celebration. So we dressed appropriately and headed out to enjoy our day.

Hubs managed to finish the repairs to the chicken coop courtyard. Last winter we had an unprecedented snowfall and after almost 40 inches in a few days the metal netting gave up the ghost. Since then the chickens have been complaining that they need a coop remodel and the regularly visiting raccoons have been echoing their sentiment, so it was a top priority.

While Hubs was busy working with our feathered friends, I was planting in the high tunnel. It was a beautiful sunny day and Hubs was commenting on how the breeze felt so good…..I of course, got to enjoy none of that inside the high tunnel. Instead I was roasting! It was at least 20 degrees hotter inside the high tunnel than outside and with no breeze to give me reprieve. It was tempting to go back on my agreement with Hubs and join the naked gardening followers, but I refrained. As much as I love playing in the dirt I was so glad when I finished up inside the tunnel. Then it was on to the next project.

The goats needed some pedicures so I headed off to trim goat hooves. Nothing like trimming feet while Berry the Buck blows rumen scented sweet nothings in my ear. During this time I discovered spring really had arrived….because I got my first, second and third mosquito bite of the year. *sigh* If any of you are long time followers of the page you’ll probably remember (because I whine about this every year mercilessly) that the mosquitos LOVE me. I’m usually covered in at least a dozen bites at any given time during spring and summer. I’ve also discovered that I apparently have particularly tasty elbows since the bites seem to be focused in that area. Over years of trying different things, the only one that has worked to reduce the itch and give me some relief is After Bite. I’ve learned to always have a tube or two of it handy.

We had just had 9 tons of 3 man rocks delivered to work on a landscape project and we were excited to pull out the tractor and get to work setting them in place. I know, I know, some of you may be asking yourself how this sounds like a fun anniversary but for years we have focused on making the farm livable (it was quite a mess when we got it) and also making it functional. We didn’t have the time, energy or money to make it pretty. It simply wasn’t an option. So to finally get to work on these optional projects felt like a treat.

We ended the evening with a homecooked meal and a glass of my favorite wine….and then we took turns rubbing each other’s back with this modern day version of dad’s old Ben Gay. Apparently we aren’t as young as we used to be, but all in all it was a fantastic day and we wouldn’t chose to spend it any other way.

*Note: some of you will notice that I have links to some of our favorite products. After spending years answering emails or Facebook messages asking me where I find the products I mentioned in my blog or posts I finally decided to try being an Amazon Affiliate. This lets me link right to the product and if you decide to buy from the link I get a little commission. Win-win. I hope this helps us both. Thanks! ~M

Disclosure: Fable Farms is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Kidding and Snowmageddon

Kidding and Snowmageddon

For those that don’t keep up with our Facebook page, we have been one of Western Washington Snowmageddon victims. We’ve been snowed in for a week now and were without power for 4 days. There were some challenges for sure, such as cooking on the woodstove by candle or flashlight and very cold PTA baths (for those that aren’t familiar with the term….let’s just say the initials represent parts of the body that need addressing sooner than others) but overall we managed ok.

One of the biggest challenges was that kidding season started during the snow storm. Those of you who raise livestock understand all too well that the coldest, wettest and most inhospitable conditions seem to bring on goat labor like nothing else. Thankfully, for the most part, the goats needed little help because assisting by headlamp when your fingers are barely working from the cold makes things difficult. So I was grateful that little help was required…..until yesterday.

Yesterday Ursa let out a scream like she was being tortured, and I guess in a way she was. We arrived in the barn in record time and found her with one hoof out and the kid obviously stuck. We managed to push the hoof back in and fish around to locate both feet and a nose and Ursa thanked us by expelling the kid like she was shooting a rocket out her rear.

Since kidding season is usually pretty uneventful around here and we mistakenly we thought , statistically speaking, we had managed through the only issues we’d have this year. We were wrong. This morning Hubs went out to do chores and yelled in the door that Vessie was kidding. Since birth is rarely quick, in human or animal, I figured I had time for at least one cup of coffee before bundling up to face the cold, but alas that wasn’t meant to be. When Hubs didn’t return I figured I better get outside and help.

Vessie is an excellent mother and usually manages to have her kids external, cleaned and fed before I can even get on scene. This time was different. We arrived to find two kids born, she had apparently started cleaning the first one when the second arrived. It was stillborn and she was stunned. When we got to the barn we tried and tried to revive the baby but nothing worked. At this point Vessie seemed as confused as any first time mom. While we all would have appreciated a minute to process the loss of the baby Mother Nature rarely works that way. Life, as usual, continues on whether or not you are ready and able to keep up. Vessie had stopped cleaning the first kid and stood vaguely stunned when a third baby arrived. We got the 2 healthy babies cleaned, cords tied, trimmed and dipped but the last (and smallest) baby obviously had some fluid still in her lungs. We swung her for a bit but she still sounded a little raspy.  It was concerning. Vessie at this point had awoken from her stupor and was back to be the awesome mom she usually is, cleaning the looking after her two babies.

We made sure they had latched on and were fed the all important colostrum and even gave them a squirt of goat vitamins and nutrients. We cleaned them and placed them in the warming box and then we went into the house for our first cup of coffee while we waited. Sometimes Mother Nature goes against all your best efforts and sometimes she is merciful despite a million things that could go wrong.  Experience has taught us there really doesn’t seem to be a rhythm or reason to these things.

I went out to check the babies a while later and found the Vessie’s first kid up and actively nursing. The smaller kid was in the corner, pushed up against the water bucket, with her head flopped over backward. My heart caught in my mouth and I let out the breath I didn’t know I was holding. I had so hoped that she would make it. That despite being small, being born in the cold and having a bit of rasp in her breath she would persevere.

 I unlatched the gate and went to gather up the little one. I reached down and picked her up, she was still warm to the touch. I ran my hands over her wondering if maybe I could still resuscitate her when suddenly her eyes popped open and she opened her mouth to let out a surprised yell. I think I might have given off my own yell of surprised mixed with laughter. Apparently she had just been sleeping super deeply, in a position any yoga master would envy and decided the cold water bucket made a better bed friend than the warm heat box.  Goats…..they sure do keep you on your toes. She bounced back quickly, once she (and I) recovered from the surprise- her the surprise of being awaken in a strangers arms and me the surprise of her being alive. When I left the barn she was playing with her sister and romping around the kidding area full of vigor.

I share all of this for two reasons, like Vessie make sure you surround yourself with people who will step up and help when life knocks you a curve ball. Sometimes we just need a minute to catch our breath and since life doesn’t slow down for us at these times make sure you select your tribe based on who will be there when you need them. The other thing is to remember not to  ever give up. Even when people may think you are done and out of the game, you may just be taking a little rest to gather your energy.