I’m doing a really good job of posting about once a month. This is probably somewhat inadequate for record-keeping, but we’ll just call it good for now.
We bought a second goat at the end of last month. Amanda was sold (?!), but Ella (the last available goat) is fairly calm, has a reasonable amount of milk for a first-freshener and … large teat orifices, making her a quick and easy milker! Hurrah! I know, I know…I get excited over the strangest things.
The babies were all disbudded about a week late. The neighbor we purchased Penny from disbuds the first set of kids for free. I was hoping to do at least one myself this year but I was not feeling up to it. I guess next year will be my year for that.
The (boy) babies were castrated about a week late…as in Tuesday. Are you sensing a pattern here? These two things are some of the least pleasant things one has to do with goatlets. If only they could be born hornless and exclusively female…yes, I know that would eventually cause problems… And now if you are here for reasons other than learning about goat castration, you’ll have to bear with me a moment. We used the method and tool (not the Nipper, though, they were out of stock) recommended here. I was going to do one and Elijah the other while my husband held them. I did the first and was shaking horribly, but my husband was concerned that Elijah might not get it right and, truly, the idea of having to do this all over again when they were three weeks bigger was enough to make me just go ahead with the second. Some Bach’s Rescue Remedy finally got me set straight again. Observations: 1) Once you get past the initial crush, they seem not to feel it anymore and the recovery seemed a bit quicker than when our kids were banded last year…and no risk of tetanus this way! 2) The Fiasco Farms site says the tool clicks, ours didn’t but it stopped closing–I assume and really, really, really hope that that was sufficient.
Elijah and Isaiah have taken over milking and are doing great. I was really worried about them doing it and that first week, once the novelty had worn off, was a little rough (twitchy goats, spilled milk, newbie hands and an inconsistent milking schedule) but now things are going much more smoothly and they passed their oral and practical exams (administered by their mother) with flying colors so I feel safe with everyone using the milk. I think it has been good for them. We got animals, in part, so our children could learn responsibility and a strong work ethic, but sometimes I think I short-circuit the process because I feel badly foisting so much onto their shoulders. Incapacity stinks, but it may be a greater blessing to my children than the unlimited capacity and boundless energy that I wish for.
Hay is crazy expensive this year. That is all.
We are not getting very many eggs right now–2 or 3 per day from eight hens. They seem really young to have dropped off so much already. I feel like I don’t have a very good idea of what’s going on with them right now, so I can’t even hazard a guess as to the cause. Elijah says that they were doing better on pasture than in their run, but we have neighbors’ dogs running loose a lot this Spring and the grazing pen is just insufficiently secure. I think if we replaced the roof with chicken wire then that would do it.
The feed store mystery birds are getting big. I REALLY want to unload them, but we probably should wait another eight weeks until they start laying. Laying hens go for $10-$15 apiece, 12-wk-old pullets would probably only go for $5.
Fruits and Vegetables–
My husband scored 80 lbs of cherries for $85 a couple of weeks ago and we bought one of those clamp-to-the-counter pitters. The pitter arrived just at the tail end of the cherries, so, of course, we had to go get more. It works fairly well but you do have to pay attention to what you’re doing or else the plunger misses the pit. As large numbers of these were kid-done, I am anticipating finding pits. We turned the 2nd batch into cherry preserves and I had one of my worst canning experiences ever. As I lowered the jars into the water I heard a snap, but I couldn’t see a crack when I lifted the jars out to check (a lot of times you can save the product if you transfer it immediately into a new jar), so I thought perhaps I had just heard our dinner pork chops cooking. My hopes were dashed while the jars were processing as the wonderful smell of cooked cherries began to waft from the kettle. But that was not the end of it. Apparently, cherry preserves require more than 1/2″ headspace. My jars were bulging and one of the lids had blown entirely off! A big mess and an awful loss… I still don’t know how we got cherries for such a good price this year. All I see when I visit farm websites are cherry crop failure notices and the occasional “cherries $4.99/lb”. We continue to be grateful and to set aside as much as we can.
We are still getting some strawberries, the occasional blueberry and we harvested our first cherry tomatoes this week. The eggplants, squash and corn are looking promising. We also ate our first two peaches off our trees. They were only as big as apricots and the first was a little underripe, but the second was fabulous. I am so looking forward to getting substantial fruit some day. There is much to be done come Fall and next Spring. We have been doing minimal care (watering) thus far, but the trees are going to start needing more if they are going to grow and produce well.
I am still trying to practice patience and faith. When Angel died, my best-laid plans suffered a set-back and did so again when Amanda was sold, but it looks like Ella may end up being a better goat in the end, and as I mentioned before, my incapacity may be better for my kids’ character development. These types of things happen over and over again. As I sit here with my sixth baby (I always wanted five children when I was a little girl) sleeping in my arms, I recognize and am grateful for a God who knows so much better than I do and am happy to let Him be in charge.