September 1, 2014

The Mystery of the Tipping Bucket

Gruffy's water bucket

My Pygmy buck
Gruffy, 18" at the shoulder
I have two kinds of water buckets, big ones for the big goats, and smaller ones for the shorter goats. I check them all several times a day and clean out and fill as needed. I became puzzled when I kept finding Gruffy's small bucket knocked over. If he'd been with the other bucks that would explain it; they often knock things over in their sparring over who's the most macho he-goat. But Gruffy was by himself in the buck pasture. The other bucks were in the front. Gruffy's only company (besides hanging out with the other goats through the fence) was the chickens and the pigs.

One of our two American Guinea Hogs
Waldo, growing daily
Several times I refilled that bucket and each time I later found it knocked over again. It wasn't until I saw Waldo bumping it that I realized he was the one knocking it over. Was he having trouble getting his own drink? I kept a pan of water nearby for the pigs; maybe he was just clumsy? I decided I'd better secure Gruffy's bucket.  I found a hook, installed it in the buck barn at Pygmy goat height, and hung the bucket on it. Hopefully that would solve the problem.

I brought a clean bucket of water and Waldo came running over. He immediately started pushing on it. Suddenly, I realized what he was wanting. I hadn't refilled his piggy pool. I had cleaned it out during an autumn like cool spell earlier this month and forgotten to refill it. What was I thinking? It was hot again and of course the pigs wanted their water! So I filled the "pool". Waldo came, gave it a sniff, took a drink, and then proceeded to knock over the other bucket and flop down in his DIY mud. It wasn't water that he wanted, it was mud!

We hadn't had much luck at a proper pig wallow because the ground soaks the water up plus it evaporates too quickly. After a quick discussion with Dan, we came up with this ...

I took the piggy pool and somewhat sank it in the ground. I filled it
with dirt, added water, and there you have it - instant pig wallow. 

Both Waldo and Polly are perfectly happy with their new mud bath. And Gruffy's happier too.

August 30, 2014

Busy August Days

Where has the month gone to! August has been a busy month with more things to do than time to do them in. My days have been filled with picking and preserving. Here's the rundown.

Canning Green beans

Dehydrating Zuchetta summer squash

Canning figs

Curing and bagging multiplier onions

Canning pizza sauce

Freezing Green Nutmeg melon

Drying more dried blueberries

Mozzarella cheese for freezing

Black turtle beans for shelling

Frozen elderberries. So far I've filled two 2-gal freezer bags with more
to come. I'd like to make a medicinal syrup this year, and maybe jelly.

1st ever crabapple harvest. Only got 1 lb. Eventually I'll
use these to make my own pectin and apple cider vinegar.

And just coming in ...

Okra, green peppers, and our first pears!

So what's been happening at your place?

August 27, 2014


Sadly, I have no dog news to share, but I do have goat news. Meet Bunny.

Born May 21st of this year, Bunny is half Pygmy, half Nubian - my second unofficial "Kinder" (Caleb being the first).

When I realized Lily's kids were not my much hoped for half breeds, I put all my goat plans on halt. I had been eyeing Bunny for Splash, but I needed to rethink my goals and plans. In the end I sold Splash with Suprise's girls, Miracle and Grace. Awhile back I sold Ziggy and her triplets, also Zoey and her twins.  I once thought I'd keep them all, but I realize I can't keep everybody and our winter quarters and forage really aren't adequate for all those goats.

Bunny and Dottie. Dottie and Sissy are 5 months old, Bunny is 3 months.

Unlike the way I'd been trying to go about it, Bunny's mother is the Pygmy and her sire is the Nubian. Makes me wonder if I should try again for an official version with different goats.

It was an all day trip there and back to get her. In some ways it seems crazy, but you goat folk know that when you find what you want, you go for it.

Sissy in the background, Bunny in the front.

Adjustments are still being made. Of course all Bunny wants is her mother, twin brother, and older sisters. All she wants is to go home.

Surprise and Lily, my adult does, show little interest in her except to warn her off from getting too close. Lily's girls, Dottie and Sissy, have been quite interested, and some kid sparring has taken place. No one has rammed her, happily. I know if I still had Ziggy she would have flattened her at least a dozen times by now.

Plans? To let Gruffy have one more try with Surprise and Lily. This is the last chance I'm giving myself with these three to make some Kinders. If Surprise settles, the kids would qualify for registry and could be "official". Considering nothing happened the other years I tried this, I'm not counting on it. Caleb will get the three younger does when they're old enough. Those are MY plans anyway. Who knows what the goats will decide.

August 25, 2014

One Hour Dog Owner

I was planning to introduce you to this handsome boy today.

Ever since coyotes returned to our area, Dan and I have discussed getting another Livestock Guardian. I've checked craigslist from time to time for such a dog, made a few inquiries on occasion, and finally found this fellow - a 2 & 1/2 year old working Great Pyrenees needing to be rehomed. He worked with cattle, pigs, chickens, formerly goats, didn't mind cats, was known to go after coyotes, and was excellent with human children as well. He sounded absolutely perfect for us. They told me he needed good fences, because if he thought something was threatening his territory he'd jump the fence to go after it.

Saturday afternoon, I drove 45 minutes to go buy him. What a sweetheart! I fell in love immediately. I brought him home, gave him a drink of water, and left him in my goat showing pen next to the goats to get acquainted. I went inside to change clothes before taking him around to see the property and meet all our critters.

The goats all ran away but Waldo was interested.

When I got back outside he was gone. I couldn't believe it! I frantically started looking around and finally saw him down in the woods at the back of the buck browse. He'd easily cleared two fences to get there. He did not respond to my calls; why should he? He didn't know me, I was the lady who took him away from his home. I tried to follow but lost track of him.

I jumped in my car and drove the back roads looking for him. I didn't see him. I came home and called the city police, county sheriff's office, and talked to animal control to give a description and my number in case someone found him. I also emailed his former owner to give her a heads up because I have no doubt he's going to head for home.

I can't even explain how I feel about the whole thing: worried, foolish, uncertain, like beating my head against a wall. Is there a name for all of that? I'm hoping he'll show up at his former owner, but then what? Could be really be taught to stay here? Would we have to surround the entire property with electric fence? Should I try to give him back and see if they'll return my money? Maybe I should just wait and see what happens. One thing I can say is that we certainly don't seem to be doing very well when it comes to dogs.

August 23, 2014

I Think I Was Wrong About Lily

I was standing in the buck pasture the other day, admiring my boys. Splash was standing next to Caleb and it occurred to me how close in size 4 and a half month old Splash is to Caleb. Caleb is a Kinder, mid-size between his Nubian and Pygmy parents. I had thought Splash was a Kinder too, born to Lily, one of my Nubian does and fathered by Gruffy, my Pygmy buck. But if he's a Kinder, I thought, shouldn't he be a lot smaller with those Pygmy genetics?

I realized that Splash's sisters weren't smaller than the Nubian/Kiko kids born to surprise. Ziggy and Zoey's half miniature breed kids were smaller than the standards. Shouldn't Lily's be too?

Lily and her girls on the left, Surprise on right with one of her twins in front.
There is no size difference with all the doelings. Shouldn't Kinders be smaller?

I went back to check my calendar. Sure enough, on the breeding date (October 31) that matched their birth date (March 31) I had put Lily in with Gruffy. I had a later date that indicated one of the boys break-outs, which meant it was whose guess as to who's the daddy. There was no such notation on that date. Still, I've been wrong before, so I went back through my blog posts. Sure enough, on the one dated Nov. 4, 2013 ("More Misadventures in Breeding") I mention a buck break-out with Lily.

What that means is, my Kinders are not Kinders!!! I thought I finally had my dream breed but apparently not. Now I have a beautiful Kinder buck with no Kinder doe to breed him to. The wind is knocked out of my goat plan sails. sigh