This time of year is all about patience. I can feel the warmth of Spring on my face in the sun, can see the subtle greening up around me, even the tulip magnolia has burst into bloom. But, the temperatures still dip dangerously into the 30's some nights, and the winds are whipping through. I want to plant everything out so badly! I'm so eager for the extended warmth of the next few months ahead. I am not a Winter girl. I am waiting. The new peeps we brought home after an egg hunt at a local farm are hiding out in the basement under a heat-lamp, waiting for feathers to fill in, waiting for warmer nights to move outside. The goats are swelling with little ones growing inside. We are all waiting for these babies expected in early June. ah, June, lightning bugs, veggies, flowers, sunshine! Just a little more patience!!
photo by Elizabeth Hypes
We had a visit from our vet this morning, and she came with ultrasound equipment! This girl is carrying passengers, as in more than one! We are planning to keep a baby out of this girl, so this is very exciting news! The very first babies bearing our herd name! Millie is also carrying a little one. I can't wait!
The very best thing is when the sun returns, and the snow melts, and there is the the smell of earth , and the hope of Spring at last! Spring is so full of fun plans ,and hopes ,and faith that your hard work will pay off in the end, and the possibility of creating something wonderful. I LOVE spring (in case you cant tell). I have big plans for this season. The first few years have been spent building, and learning, and dipping in a toe. There will always be learning, and adding bits and bobs, but this year we are jumping in with both feet! So hooray for Spring!....Plus, the sun just feels so darn good!
These two. We bred just one doe last season. We got one big buck. My youngest son kept asking where was the doeling that we could keep. No doe. Then ,everywhere I looked on the internet there were doelings. One can only hold out so long during kidding season, so come July little Miss Phoebe came to join us. I tried to resist, but I quite frankly took a shine to her, and that was it. She is spoiled rotten, and a bit of a diva. She refused to walk on a leash, and by refused I mean she would leap up, throw herself to the ground, and lay there with her feet in the air. We started walking the goats in the park at the end of the summer, but she never got to go. Sometime in November all the other goats were quite good on the leashes and would hop into the back of our car to go walk with us. Phoebe started to whine at the gate at being left behind, so we grit our teeth, and popped her in the back of the car, and off she went with us. She fish-flopped at first, but I bribed her with sunflower seeds, and I think she just decided it wasn't worth fighting anymore. We ran her little hooves all over the trails in such a long hike, I felt sorry for her, and found myself carrying her up the last big hill. She's been great ever since. She fusses at you to be held seeing as she was such a little thing when we got her, she was cuddled quite a lot, so if you you do lift her up for a cuddle she rewards you with face nuzzles and licks. ( I said she was spoiled!!) Charlotte was bought sight unseen from a breeder I really liked. She was a leap of faith on good genetics. The only thing the breeder mentioned, was that she was rather shy. Well, they handed her over to me and she literally curled her head around my neck, and that was that. She might be my favorite, but don't tell the others! She is last girl in, so she has to get creative sometimes to get her place in things. She does just fine! These two were not in the original farm plan (to keep only from our own breeding), but they are such a joy, I'm so glad I get to wake up to these faces!
So, in this media sharing world there is a place where the work of the farm, and the sharing of the farm overlap. The "felfie". Farm+selfie= Felfie. Utterly ridiculous on one hand, but pure, silly fun on the other. February weather brings all the frozen water buckets, endless need for hay, hay, and more hay, warm water again, stuff every space with straw, and try to thaw oneself a bit between trips outside. Quite frankly, you either crawl off with self pity and wonder why you chose this life, or you hide out in the little hay barn with your animals and snuggle in. While the sane portion of the world relaxes in their warm, dry houses, binge watching netflix and drinking coffee, I find myself in a pile of goats, armed with my camera, taking future album cover shots in case they start a band, and felfies, so that I have solid proof that I've officially lost it!
I never had a dog. I had three brothers instead. Followed by a boyfriend that became my husband who is allergic to dogs. We now have a son who is allergic as well, but not to goats. My son likes to compare our goats to the dogs he could never have otherwise. And, like dogs, our goats are walked on leashes (at least some of the time). It is really amusing when we unload the girls out of the trunk of our suv when we hike at the park. They hop out and prance around like princesses. Everyone we pass asks to pet them, and the tickled expressions of surprise at seeing a small goat walking along like this is so normal. Well, this is our normal. Other than the obvious novelty the point of "walking" them is to improve our communication, to deepen the sensitive system of requesting cooperation , and to "listen" to their needs in a different surrounding. To make the outside world more normal to the goats. It seems to be working. They tend to be happy when jumping willingly into the back of the car( handy when we need to take them to less fun places like the vet), which is a huge improvement from the screams and death rolls that used to take place. We have started all but one of our does as babies, so as to have plenty of time to build this relationship before coming to kidding and milking. All of our goats come running for ear scratches, brushing, and full body hugs. The tiniest of our girls gives kisses if you lift her up. The bucks are new to us. They are older(ish). We are working them on leashes on our property to build that communication and trust. They both follow well, but boy are they strong! Our younger buck likes to walk with us ,and jump, and climb, and I try to keep up with him, but today we let him off the leash for the walk back to our house from the end of our wooded property. I think he had fun leaping spryly over logs and across streams. He stayed right with us. It was great! I never had a dog, but goats are pretty fantastic.
.There is a blizzard blowing outside our little house. The first real snow of the season, and it has decided to all fall in one fell swoop. It has been a lovely, fat snowflake sort of snow so far, but it is set to pick up rather fiercely in the night. This is our third winter here, the second with the animals. I have stopped the with the awestruck giggles, the feeling of feeling like a character plucked out of one storyline and plopped into another. The fake farmer feeling has mostly worn away. We are still quite green, and have much more to learn, but we are in this whole hog. I don't panic when the goats seem out of sorts, but I notice when they are restless before a storm. It is subtle, but they talk to me in their own way. And I know how to listen. I know to expect things too. I know to check the hens that roost on the old ladder, because they are stubborn enough to sleep exposed to the storm. I find them there, fluffy butts dusted with snow. I grab the three remaining ducks, and quite literally stuff them into their shelter, not once, but three times before they realize that is where they'd rather be. I moved their shelter today. They still hadn't found it ten feet from where it sat this morning. The rabbits are really the only ones stirring in the night, so they each get a fresh bowl of water (the other has frozen solid) and a pile of hay. I stomp the snow off my boots ,and step back inside. I take off the worn, too big, army green overcoat I've commandeered from my husband; now my 'barn coat'. Grateful for new boots just in time; warm, dry feet make all the difference! My trusty headlamp gets tucked back into my coat pocket, so as not to be lost when I head back out a few hours from now to be sure the gates are clear of snow and the hens have remained in the coop. Until then, I'll jump under my covers, fully planing to get a bit of sleep before I check on things again, but in reality I'll probably just binge watch Netflix instead. There is a blizzard after all.
This homestead has been in my head and heart since I was fourteen years old. It has finally come to fruition alongside my husband and sons. Though my hands are more likely to be deep in the soil, milking the goats, or slipped into the hand of one of my children while exploring our woods, I hope to bring my hands back to the keyboard to share our adventures here. Welcome!