Winter solstice

Winter solstice

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Life continues on...

       It has been a while since I have posted on the blog, mostly because I didn't want to open up raw wounds. The last time I wrote about the exitement of kidding. I look forward to it every year and feeling those baby goats take their first breath in my hands never grows old. I was not prepared for the great sadness that has gone along with the happiness this year. Those of you who read this blog know that I had some reservations about Tulip catching and freshening this year. She turned eleven in February but was in such good health, I thought things would be fine. I was at work when her kids were born. I made it to the barn just in time to see the last one delivered. She was rather disgusted with me because she had never kidded without me, but I quickly got her milked out and fed her three beautiful babies, all of them spotted from head to toe. From that first evening she didn't act right. It was like she just gave up. She had no appetite and was very listless. I started antibiotics right away in case there was something going on I couldn't see. She had passed the afterbirths with no problem so I knew it wasn't that. There was no sign of mastitis. I honestly cannot tell you what happened but two days later at 1:00 am, she took her last breath in my arms. While she was dying, two pens away, Lilly was giving birth to twins. I thought to myself, "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord. " She was a wonderful goat and I miss her everyday. I thank God that she gave me a beautiful black and white spotted doe kid to carry on. None will ever take her place, she was one of a kind .
        On a much lighter note, we were able to head to Sharon and Anita's and pick up three beautiful lambs today. They were in the midst of their annual shearing, so we were able to watch and learn as the shearers made it look so easy. They have a wonderful farm on the top of Cheat Mountain. It was without a doubt the most beautiful place I have ever been. All their sheep are gorgeous and I was able to bring home a Border Leicester fleece to spin. I cannot wait to start working with it. I named our three girls, Esther, Ruth and Naomi. They will be picking out a ram lamb for us this spring and I will be naming him Boaz. I am so excited to start this new part of our life. After we got the girls settled in their pen in the barn, I went back to the house to get my milk bucket and bottles. When I walked back in the barn, one of the sheep baa'd and I was so happy to hear that new sound in our barn.
        Two weeks ago, we brought home 5 Kiko goats for meat. Two does and three kids. They are all doing well and settled right in with the Nubians. They are very quiet goats and very docile also. All together we had 15 babies this year and other than Tulip, it went off without a hitch. I've already made our first batch of cottage cheese this year. I am so grateful to have our wonderful goat milk again.
       So life continues on... we are very busy with all of our newcomers. I thank God for all the blessings He has given us. Oh, I forgot to tell you the brooder has a bunch of new chicks in it and some of the sweetest little banty chicks you have ever seen.
      Sometimes I go to Tulip's grave and just sit and wish I could see her just one more time but I am so grateful for the wonderful years we had together. I was up there the other day, missing her and I felt something pulling on my braid. I turned around and there was little Aurora peeking at me and for a second I could see her mama's twinkle in her eye.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Wood Frogs are singing

    Friday evening brought us some more thunderstorms. Nothing like Wednesdays storms, just lots of lightening, thunder and plenty of rain. After it had passed, I went out the back door to close up the chickens and I was met by a chorus of quacking ducks in the koi ponds. I knew it was the wood frogs, but they do sound like ducks. It was too dark to see how many but they were pretty loud. They sang to us all night long. By morning, it seems they had called all their friends out of the woods and I counted somewhere between 20 or 30. They were in all 3 ponds and they were singing their little frog hearts out. They will lay their masses of eggs in the ponds and then go back up into the woods. When the tadpoles sprout legs, they leave and then I never see them all summer. I assume they return to the woods.
    Just as I am typing this post, the snow has started to fall outside the window. The frogs are quiet this morning but the snow doesn't bother them. I have seen their eggs freeze in the pond and then they thaw out and go right ahead and hatch. Just another one of God's miracles.
     The lights and cameras are set up in the barn, so we can watch the does at night. It was a beautiful sunny day yesterday, although a bit breezy. The goats and I took a walk on the hill. Tulip, who turned eleven last month, chose to stay by me and take a nap in the sunshine, while the others ran and hopped and played. I sat beside her and I could see little hooves kicking her side as she tried to sleep. She and I have had a lot of good years together and I hate to see her age and slow down. I am a little worried about her, although she has never had any trouble freshening before. Hopefully all will go well.
      I made a batch of strawberry jam yesterday and I am going to go enjoy some on some freshly ground wheat toast. Have a blessed day.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

What a Leap !

       Yesterday's Leap Day was one we won't soon forget. The day started cloudy and warm, very unlike February. By the time I had gotten to work, it had started to rain and rain it did. We had a break during the afternoon and then we really got it. Thunder, lightening and the whole nine yards. The old timers around here have a saying " Count the thunder claps in February and that is how many frosts you will have in May". I hope after yesterday, this is one time they are wrong..... I had to go through a lot of high water to get home but by the time I did, we were flooded. The whole back yard was under water. The creek that runs beside our house was roaring. Tim had all the ditches open as far as he could, it was just too much water. He had all the animals in the barn, so I waded across the field to my sisters house to check on her. She has to walk across a wooden bridge to get to her barn. The creek was over that bridge, which is about 4-5 feet above the water. She had to walk across the bottom and around to tend to her animals last night. I headed back home and went in the barn to check on our animals and I noticed the water had started to come in the door and had flooded 3 of the pens. The goats in those pens were about to have a heart attack (they hate water) So I quiickly got them out and then we were able to go outside and divert the water from the door. When I clean pens last week, I dumped the old hay outside the door and Tim hadn't moved it yet with the tractor. So all that hay didn't let the water drain down to the creek. What a mess but at least all the animals were alright. I took a head count on the chickens and it looked like they were all there, although they were a bedraggled bunch. I moved goats around so everyone was in dry pens and headed back to the house. By this time it was dark and had stopped raining. I stood in the dark and listened to the creek roar. It is amazing how quickly our little creek can change from a bubbling brook to a raging torrent. I could hear it roaring from my bed most of the night. This morning it is calming down and is back in it's banks. The song sparrows are singing loudly  "Maids, maids, maids, put on your tea kettle, ettle, ettle." They are our first birds to sing in the spring. I love to watch them sit on a fence post and just sing their hearts out. So life is calming down here on this first day of March, although a bit soggy. I had invisioned maybe putting out some onion sets soon but from the looks of the water standing in the garden , thats's probably not going to happen right away. I wonder....does the leap day count toward being the first day of March, so we can say it came in like a lion??