Through the Looking Glass

Another year rolls by. It was a good year. It had ups and downs, just like each day does. Farming has a steady beat. Rhythms and routines that are followed day in and day out. I don’t need a watch to tell time. I just pause where I’m standing and I know what time it is. It’s time to feed hay, top off water, call the cows in for milking. But wait- I don’t need to call them. They are already there. They too know what time it is without looking.

cowsupformilkDays on the farm have a way of melding together. Sometimes it’s like highway fatigue. If you travel the same route over and over again you can forget where you are…did you already pass that milepost or is it coming up around the corner?

It’s the times where something is out of sync that causes you to refocus and pay attention. A ewe is missing from the flock at feeding time. One of the cows is by herself, under the tree. She’s giving birth. There is a smoky smell to the air. It’s your brooder house on fire.

Babycakes delivered Penny.

Babycakes delivered Penny.

The day the brooder burned.

The day the brooder burned.

Looking back over the past year it’s hard to remember the days as distinct events. Some days were definitely out of sync while the others were fluid and sweet. The sweet days are the ones that fill the farmer with hope to keep going, continuing on to the next milepost that waits just around the corner.

Here’s to each of you, wishing you and your families a new year filled with love, joy and all the sweetness a new year has to offer.

Honey harvested 2014

Honey harvested 2014

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Getting My Goat…

It finally happened. I went to the other side. It was always just a matter of time, really. I’ve come full circle back to where I first started. I got goats. Not just one, or two so they wouldn’t be lonely. No, I got four pregnant does and two bucks. At least I showed restraint this time.

When I first started farming, over six years ago, I thought I would raise goats for meat and milk. Not being the kind of person who sticks her toe in to test the waters, I jumped right in with gusto. Kind of a belly flop, really. I bought 20 bottle baby kids and began a short lived adventure that ended with me swapping out my dream of milking goats for a Jersey cow and a big sigh of relief.

As the years went by and I grew my herd of milk cows, I never forgot about those sweet little bottle babies. There is something completely irresistible about baby goats. This time however, I wasn’t a complete novice to livestock and the unique needs of dairy animals. I started getting excited thinking about the possibility of adding a couple of adult does to our farm. I found myself scouting out unused areas that the goats would enjoy exploring. At night I was visiting goat forums, asking questions, reading up on everything goaty. I made a list of what I needed to have on hand before I brought the goats home, checked it twice and with a quick “click and drag” of the mouse they were on their way.

A couple of weekends later and the goat barn was ready and waiting. I didn’t actually think I’d end up with pregnant goats to start. But as luck would have it, a friend of mine put me in contact with a lovely lady who had been raising goats for over thirty years. She was ready to cut down her herd a bit and had two beautiful Nubian does, both pregnant, that she was willing to let me purchase. “Pia” and “Sister Midnight”. At about the same time, I stumbled across a pair of Saanen goats and their respective boyfriends. The goat barn was full.

The goats have been a comical addition to our farm. They are curious, sweet, and possibly a bit mischievous. I’ve spent a lot of time letting them get to know me. The Saanens are more laid back, they stroll over to check me out. The Nubians are a bit more high strung. The first few nights they spent just as much time standing in an upright position, peeking over the stalls as they did standing on all fours. But things are calming down now, falling into a steady rhythm of routine.

We don’t have exact due dates on the goat gals. So I spend an inordinate amount of time checking out the back end, looking for changes in the udders, hoping to see some clue that will tell me kidding is going to happen soon. I scrolled through the pictures I’d been taking because I wanted to find some that captured the different personalities. Thirty pictures, and every single one of them was a snapshot of udders….
sisterudderdaisygoatudder
As I stand there in the goat barn, taking in the sweet smell of hay and watching them watch me I can’t help but think of all the adventures ahead of us. And I can’t help but grin as I look at those growing bellies, imagining the sweet little kids that will soon be jumping around the barn. I’ve come full circle and I finally got my goats.