The Goat Coaster

Now let’s take a ride on the goat coaster. Remember that the goats we have are fosters, so while we feed em, love em, and milk em, we don’t own them, and so the babies are going to go to other homes. The kids were sad, but were happy to love on the baby goats just the same. Finally the day came when Vanessa and Dosa would be heading to their new homes, so I gave the kids my phone and told them to snap a few pictures of them and the babies before they left.

They handed me back a phone with a dead battery and 76 photos, 5 panoramas (including legs, dirt and the barn), and about 10 videos. The videos showed me that I need to discuss proper training techniques with my kids- if the chicken jumps for the apple, give it a piece of apple, don’t keep having it jump higher.

GOAT SELFIES. It’s probably a thing. Also windy selfies. We get wind here. I love seeing little black and white Vanessa- buy the time they left, she wasn’t so little. We said goodby to the goaties, a little sad, but knowing that in a few weeks we’d get some more babies.

He he, a few more weeks.

So later that day, Sara came by to work on her garden space. I’m not moving so fast with expanding the garden so we are renting out some garden space. She brought some kids with her to help, gave a try to the scythe, and let her kids pet the goats. As she’s rounding up kids, they beg to go pet the goats one more time. I’m glad she let them, because those kids discovered that

ROCA HAD JUST GIVEN BIRTH.

In retrospect, she was acting a little weird, like she was in labor, that morning, but I didn’t think anything of it because she wasn’t due yet. Whep. The due date was off, because that’s a fully formed, beautiful, baby boy goat.

We get to keep him, and we’ve named him Xander.

 

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Farm Roller Coaster

It’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride this summer here at the farm. As we all recall we’ve had two chickens hatch eggs. One gave us a clutch of four, and we added four more, and kept them in the barn. The other hatched two, and we’ve just been letting them free range. I did a little research on broody chickens, and I’ve learned it’s common for chickens to be broody in the summer, when mother nature can help them keep their eggs warm. I also learned that the breeds I have don’t often go broody. So suddenly having broody hens was weird, but I was going to roll with it, becuase free chickens.  The next thing I knew, I had two more chickens in the coop trying to brood. I though that would be fine because then we can keep them wrangled and keep an eye on them, but it turned out to be a mess. The chickens wouldn’t move into another box (where I wanted them) but would sit where everyone lays, so there were fights and broken eggs, and then the broody hens started snapping at you any time you went to get eggs.

I snapped too. I took mama hen and her 8 babies out of the barn, and put them in with the other chickens. I figured they’d be safe with their mama defending them (we had watched the other mama defend her chicks from the rooster). I stuffed the two broodies in the barn and let them either break out of it or brood in there.

Take THAT.

And then we turned around and a red mama hen appeared with 6 babies.

I’m beginning to doubt my memory. I’ve been trying to count chickens to keep track of when they go missing, but apparently one day I will count 7 red hens, and the next day cout 6 red hens, forgetting what the day’s previous count was. Woo woo, though, 6 more baby chicks. Since the barn was full, we just let these guys range. And lived to regret it.

Because a few days later I noticed that she was down to only 4 chicks. Since I don’t even know where she brooded, I couldn’t go looking for them. A few days after that, I saw 4 little puff balls, and no mama. Thought that was really strange but then figured she may have been somewhere eating so we just kept an eye on them. A few hours later, the kids found the mama dead in the field, a victim of the worst predator of the suburban farm, the neighborhood dog.

At that point the two broodies were up and walking around and one had even started laying eggs again. I told them to stay off the eggs, and put them in with the rest of the chickens. We wrangled up the babies (chasing puffballs is SO MUCH FUN) and put them in the barn.

They are big enough to eat on their own, but no mama to keep them warm. I figured they’d be ok with the warmer weather we’ve been having, then of course the temp plunges one evening. I tried showing them they could go into the barn where there is hay and it’s warmer, but this happened instead.

Fluffy butts, stuffed into a corner. Yea, it’s the cutest thing ever.

The roller coaster doesn’t stop with just chickens, now let’s take a ride on the goat coaster…..

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Summer

Welcome to summer. It starts off not too bad. The cherries ripen, so we all head out to pick. Ladders this year. And not very high in the trees.

I can see how I got into trouble. You start picking, and you get a good handful, then you see more just out of reach, so you move and get those, and see more just out of reach….. this year I just threw up my hands and told the birds to enjoy.

The rogue mama chicken hatched out her baby chicks. Two of them. Wow. That was a really low hatching ratio. But she’s done really well with them. She comes and goes into the run, and the chicks follow her. No one messes with her chicks, though. She’s attacked another hen who got too close. Like feather flying attack. They sleep in a corner of the yard behind the berries and free range in the yard. It’s kind of cute to see the little babies trailing behind their mama.

 

And it’s getting hot.

Dave’s parents came to visit, so we were able to introduce Mimi the grandmother to Mimi the goat.

Mimi the person threatened to take Mimi the goat on the rest of their road trip. Honestly, they are heading into Portland, and so a goat wouldn’t look that strange….. 😎

The grandparents took the kids on a whirlwind adventure while they were here. We had a boys/girls day, where the girls got hair cuts and pedicures while the boys went to the lava tubes. There were visits to the reservoir, the local indoor trampoline place, and the aquarium. We hadn’t been to the aquarium and had a great time.

Met a grouper. Who seemed mad that we all yelled “We’ve eaten grouper!”

Sat under a Cacao tree. Yum chocolate.

And ended the week with only a minor injury. I had attempted to put up my sun shade while at the reservoir but decided to take it back down again when we couldn’t get it to sit still in the wind. One of the spars came loose with great force and whipped my knee.

Ug. It’s all swollen too.

It looks like we may cool down a little here. Lets hope. It’s been roasty.

 

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The weekend got better, Round 2

We’ve been keeping an eye on Una for about 2 weeks now, knowing she’s been getting close to birthing. It’s been crazy, she’ll doing something a little off and you are sure she’s going into labor, only to see her running through the field grubbing weeds an hour later and you realize nothing is happening. It’s been a little exhausting.

So today, when she was pawing in the bedding, I worked hard to assess if something really was happening. She was making funny noises, and was pawing the bedding to make a little nest, and did let me pet her a bunch…. and, well, it was looking like labor was actually happening.

Mr. K and I camped out in the barn for a bit. He’s the animal whisperer and really wanted to help. He stayed there while I went in and out a few times. I brought out our wood carving things to pass the time while we waited, because we could be there all day.

Things progressed pretty quickly, surprisingly. She found herself a comfy place, and gave birth to two baby goats.

Warning: photos of goat birth ahead. Very little blood, but lots of fluid.

Mr. K took this picture. You can see how she’s created a little nest.

A bubble of amniotic sac. We had put away our carving and just sat spellbound.

Goat face inside amniotic sac. Yes, it is both cool and gross.

The little black and white goat took a few pushes to get out. I sent K in to grab some towels to help wipe off little goat face. I moved the white goat, and suddenly, a black goat appeared!

It takes a little bit for the goats to find their feet and for their mom to lick them clean. It’s crazy to watch, they stumble and bleat and she comes right on over. They also need some help finding a teat to nurse on.

But they get clean, get some milk, and just look super darling.

For size: they come up to T’s waist, while she’s sitting.

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It may look quaint….

But we are hoping that wrapping a picket fence around the garden keeps the chickens out. See chickens don’t jump over fences, they jump up to the top of a fence, and then fall over the other side. In theory, chickens won’t jump on the top of this because there is no place to land. So please, please let this keep the chickens out of my garden. I’ve got some new seedlings (thanks to some generous people) and seeds down in that garden. Now things just need to grow.

Though I don’t know if it will keep the cats out. Especially now that Jasper discovered he can drink water from the sprinklers.

The kids have decided that they are going to live in the teepee. Dave mentioned they may do better up on some cots. I mentioned this would be the weekend to find some. And we did.

We were successful in fostering 4 more baby chicks to the mama hen. Now she has a total of 8 babies. And I love watching them. The big ones figured out how to stand on the wood on the edge of the run to reach the water, and then taught the little ones. Mama keeps them warm in the cool mornings and keeps an eye on them in the hot afternoons.

Though, it appears all the cool chickens are brooding in random parts of the yard.

You can just see a little white in there, and yup, another chicken. I discovered her when I was mowing. I drove past, spitting mowed weeds in her direction, and she didn’t budge. She’s serious. I don’t know how long she’s been there or how many eggs are under her. We will just have to wait and see when more baby chicks appear, though I’m not sure where to put these ones. But more baby chicks, yea!

 

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The weekend: It got better

I’ve been wanting to put a teepee on our property since, well, pretty much when we moved here. I like the idea of a demi-permanent structure that can hold up to the wind and be a fun place for kids to camp out in. We’ve looked at options for years, and one of the biggest things holding us back was shipping. Teepee poles are LONG and you need quite a few and so are crazy expensive to ship. We’ve thought about road tripping to Colorado to pick up poles from a company out there, but we’ve also kept our eye on the local market to find something used. I found a used one over the winter, and while it’s far from perfect, we finally got it up.

There are three small people excitedly sticking their heads out the door.

It took us about three tries to get it up. We discovered immediately the cover was in pretty poor condition- looks like it got wet when in storage. Gratefully I did some research before cursing the guy I got it from and discovered it can be cleaned. The cover spent a few days stretched out in the back field. It got rinsed and sprayed with peroxide and left in the sun to bleach. It’s not perfect but it is much better. Then we had to assemble the frame with the poles. The first time it was way to tall and wide. I figured out how tall it needed to be, but at the second try it was still too wide. We actually got a measuring tape (novel idea), discovered the tent isn’t as big as it was advertised (which made me almost blow my lid) but then finally Dave got all the poles in the right places. Dave is amazing. Put poles up, took them down, put them up, took them down, then put them up again. It’s still not perfect- the cover is a little lopsided, but the three little kids who are going to reside there for for the summer (or so they say) don’t even notice.

Hard to notice it’s sideways when it’s this beautiful.

Then, Sunday evening, when the boys went out to take care of the chickens, they came back in screaming that there were BABY CHICKS. I was so confused, did someone dump chicks on our property?

We very quickly figured out that one of our hens left the run, found herself a nice quiet place, gathered some eggs, and hatched em herself. Now, chicks take about 28 days to hatch. That means that chicken was protecting those eggs and keeping them warm during that cold spell and crazy storm. Good job, chicken mama. We scooped her up and the babies and put them in the barn. I didn’t think those tiny chicks would be safe with the bigger chickens and predators, though I have heard stories of mamas keeping their babies safe. I’m not taking chances with these little guys!

She refused to go inside and instead is sitting outside with those four babies tucked under her.

See them? Ug, it’s so cute. The chicks pop out, get some food, walk around, and then mama calls them back, lifts up her wings, and they disappear under her. I may see about picking up a few more chicks tonight and tucking them under her. Because why settle with just 4?

We’ve all hung out in the teepee a bit. Even the fuzzy ones.

 

 

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