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

August 21, 2014

Weeding For Goats

Last spring I wrote a weeding and gathering post on Heartsease. Over the years I've been learning to identify herbs and edible wild plants and let them grow in my garden and yard. When they need to be removed for other things I want growing, they can be a welcome harvest, either for us or for the goats.

I've been studying plants and weeds in regards to goats. I observe what they eat and what they don't. I learn what weeds are grpwomg and check them against lists of plants considered poisonous for goats. Anything that is especially nutritious I chop, dry, and add to my vitamin and mineral mix for goats. (See "DIY Vitamins & Minerals For Goats" and "Homegrown Goat Minerals")

Amaranth thinnings. Amaranth is a good source of
calcium. I find it easier to chop while still fresh. 

Everything is air dried on screens and later added
to my goats' homemade vitamin and mineral mix.

Other things I just cut and dry for the hay pile. I like to spread them out on a big tarp in the shade. That way I can fold it over at night to protect from heavy dew. Being in the shade, it doesn't bleach out and retains a nutritious dried green color.

Fresh and dried grasses and weeds the goats like to eat. 

Once dry I toss it onto the hay pile. I don't get a hugemongous amount, but I'm a firm believer that every little bit helps.

I suppose it could be said that all this takes a lot of extra work. I figure if I'm going to weed or otherwise get rid of it anyway, why not save it and feed it to somebody? Makes sense to me. :)

August 19, 2014

Melons Galore

I had such a poor harvest of everything last year that I reckon I went a bit overboard this year. For melons, I planted Green Nutmeg, a lovely heirloom variety that we like better than cantaloupe.

Green Nutmeg melons

Well, production hasn't disappointed. We've been eating one almost every day. There are a couple of things I like to do with the surplus. One is to cut thin slices and dehydrate them. This makes a very tasty, no sugar, fruit leather-like snack. My blog post about dehydrating watermelon (with instructions) can be read here.

The other thing I like to do is to freeze melon, especially the ones that get away from me, i.e. overripe. I don't find this works well for a bowlful of thawed melon chunks or a fruit salad, but we love them in smoothies.

Preparing melon for freezing. I'll transfer to freezer bags once frozen.

To make those smoothies, I add chunks of frozen melon along with whatever else is in the freezer: strawberries, blueberries, figs, bananas, and whir it up in the blender with some kefir. That makes an exceedingly refreshing frozen treat on a sweltering hot day.

As you can see from the above photo, there is no waste, not even for the compost pile. The rinds are fed to the goats and pigs, pulp to the chickens, and I save a few seeds too. For that I use the method for soft, pulpy foods (see "Seed Saving: Cucumbers"), but after the incident with the sweet potatoes, I use only filtered water!

Anyone else enjoying homegrown melon this summer?