Some Days

Some days all goes well and I feel like the most fortunate person in the world here on my micro-farm.  Because really, when you come right down to it, all the place needs is some cleaning up, clearing out, and some beautification (yeah, we’re owrking on it, slowly) and it’ll be great.  We even have a pool we’re getting ready to install.  Most of the time I can cure any of my various ills by spending some time with the critters, be they indoor (Japser cat!) or outdooor.  Some days, though……some days make me want to change my name, move to Timbuktu and pretend I never met any of these people before.

That day was yesterday.  Obviously I did not move, nor did I change my name.  I did try to pretend I didn’t know any of these people, but theywouldn’t let me.

It started on Sunday.  I decided it was high time to get the back garden planted.  Problem was, the tiller wasn’t functional.  So, I did it all by hand.  Just me and a shovel.  That back garden is HUGE.

There’s at least 4 feet between each of those posts, to give you an idea.  This was how it looked last year.  Now there’s grass grown all in around it and it was full of weeds I had to pull out.  By the end of the day I was very, very sore.  The good news was I had all the corn, potatoes and butternut squash planted.  I ended up taking a shower around 10 pm with Oona because I felt filthy after all that and she has been miserable with allergies.

Yesterday morning I woke up feeling like I’d been chewed up and spit out.  My muscles were all on fire, my head was threatening another migraine, my ears were crazy itchy, and my throat was swollen and sore.  I wanted. to. die.  So…..I stayed shut in the bedroom, lounging in bed while Oona stayed with me and watched Spongebob.  I drifted off at some point, and woke up to, “SNIP!  SNIP!”.  The unmistakable sound of scissors being used.

The bedroom door had been flung open and there she sat, next to me, my big sewing scissors in hand, shredding her pajamas.  Her hair, which had just this past week been fixed by a hairdresser, was missing chunks right down to the scalp.  Several barbies lay strewn about, locks missing.  I can’t even tell you.  I was so mad.  After that I felt I couldn’t properly rest or recoup, especially because all the kids had apparently decided to make the house as unsanitary as possible, and stinky to boot.

I didn’t kill my kids, I didn’t run away (though a mini vacation for me is taking shape in my mind…..details to be worked out later).  I can’t honeslty tell you how I made it through the day.

Oh yeah and did I mention the dog ruined the living room carpet?  Big pile of poop + Neve = ground in anstiness that cannot be cleaned.  We had to order a new rug.

Anyone want a dog????

Switching gears.

Rather than start a whole new post for this, I figure I’d leave you with the  happy parts from today.  We let the babies out to play for awhile.

Jerry decided to hang out in the chicken tractor today.  I have no idea how he even fit in there.

And lastly, a video of the babies playing and jumping.

Good Stuff

Ok, y’all know how much I love Susan over at Juniper Moon Farm. Not only is she my hero for doing what I want to be doing (um, raising sheep and goats and making yarn?  Hello!!!) , but she is also one of the best people you’ll ever meet.

Today, she and her assistant Maggie, along with numerous other friends and helpers, staged a fun – filled day of Sheep Shearing, eating, spinning and knitting.  Who the heck needs MD Sheep & Wool???Well, lots of us do, but that’s besides the point.

I brought blueberry cobbler.  Good thing I made two batches, because I was so overwhelmed with the incredible food everyone else brought that I never even made it to dessert.  (I know, I am as shocked as you!!!!)

They started out shearing the angora goats.

Then came Ernie the sheep.  He is massive.  Huge.  Unbelievably ginormous.  You can certainly see him from space.

And petite little Emily the Shearer is totally badass hauling that 300 lb sheep around like a ragdoll.

Despite his size, he was rather compliant.

Post – haircut.  Still huge……but decidedly less – so.

With all the action going on around him this little lamb (Rushworth, or “Mr. Tiny”) enjoyed a quiet snack with his mama.  If you follow Susie’s blog at all you’ll recognize him as the touch- and – go preemie from this past week, and you’ll be happy to see he is nursing on his own.

Can I please, please puh-leeeeeeeze have this as my backyard?????  Talk about the most serene, happiness – inducing scene imaginable. Happy, healthy sheep grazing a fresh pasture.

This is what happens when Neve gets the camera. I have to say…..I think I may hire her to take all future food pictures for this blog.

And though Hattie just might kill me for posting it, this also happens:

Hattie drove up from Charlottesville and rode along with us for the fun.  Despite how close with live to each other we don’t see each other very often, so it was a good day for it.

We stayed for quite awhile but the kids were getting restless and my head was threatening a migraine, so as much as I did not want to ever leave, we left late afternoon, while most of the visitors had migrated indoors into the living room and were very cozily spinning and knitting and joking around having a great time.  I was very sad to leave that scene!

Fortunately Paul has Oona out for a short car trip this evening and for the first time in far too long I have a chance to sit and relax and I think I will work on a striped scarf (with some scrumptious Noro Silk Garden yarn) (and maybe catch up on some brain – rotting South Park or Deadliest Catch on Hulu)  instead of the many other things I should work on.

But first!!!

I have opened my etsy shop at last.  I have several flannel tote bags listed that I made this past week.

Some with sheep,

Some with chicks.

I really need to make some llama ones.  But not ones with bad haircuts, I promise.

I’ll be adding to the shop on and off as I am able, so check it out!!!!!

Bad Makeover Day

Poor Jerry.  Yesterday he lost his manhood.  And just maybe, his dignity.

The vet came out in one of the coolest pick – up trucks I have ever seen – the bed portion had been made into a mobile vet’s office, complete with water on demand and all of the instruments, medicines and supplies she needed to handle just about anything.  It had been raining all morning so I had to move Jerry into the barn for the procedure – the babies and Milkshakes got to hang out in the chicken tractor, which I had parked over a tarp with clean hay on it.  The vet – Kate – walked into the barn all coolheaded and assured, grabbed that butthead llama and hugged him to her…….and that butthead stood right there with her, calm as can be, while she gave him an injection just above his shoulder.  I cannot say how impressed I was.  She told me he was “gonna be a real sweetie, he just needs to be taught some manners”.  All of my fears that I’d never be able to properly manage him just melted away seeing him respond so quickly to her direction, and she gave me quite a few pointers, assuring me that if I kept at it I’d be able to take him for walks before long.

The sedation drugs worked pretty quickly and she dragged him around where she needed him, gave him a nice eye mask and secured him for his “brain sugery” (hey that was the vet’s comment, not mine….).  It took all of 15 minutes and my manly llama became a gelding; a castrated male.  He’ll no longer be driven by any hormonal urges and will be guaranteed to remain as sweet as he is now.

The bill was $164.  Ok, now that’s a lot of money.  BUT.  Firstly we had been planning this for awhile and were expecting it to be much, much more than this.  Second – it costs me twice that everytime the darn dog or cats have to go to the vet…….and this time the vet came to me. So honestly, I was elated with the price.  Jerry has been far cheaper than any “conventional” animal I have ever owned.  Even his feed costs are less.

But on to the bad makeover portion of the story.

Kate said that the sedation would last a few hours so I could pretty much do whatever I wanted to him while he was “out of it”.  I planned to get him sheared.  Against all better judgment I had purchased a set of hand shears, thinking they’d be easier to use than electric ones (and far, far cheaper) and figured that getting him shorn while drugged would be easier than otherwise.

WRONG.  On both accounts.

A.  He was very drugged but not asleep.  Therefore he was floppy and wobbly and I had to hold him steady with one hand while trying to wield these:

(they got wet in the rain yesterday and rusted right up…..crap).

B.  His fleece was all wet and matted and clumpy and I could not manage to get the shears close enough to his body at an even pace.

C.  I was worried about getting the shears too close and cutting him.

So after starting down his back in a straight line (the idea is to get straight stripes of cutting from the center down) I realized it wasn’t going well.  I had to do a lot of second passes to get the fleece short enough to keep him from overheating but I still couldn’t get a consistent length.  Then I ran out of time – I had to get the girls off the school bus.  I hadn’t gotten nearly enough done, but it looked so bad that I figured I should probably just call in an expert to finish it up properly (notwithstanding the fact that I am almost too embarrassed to let that expert see what I’ve done).

This picture is hilarious for many reasons (now that I am over my need to take a bunch of anxiety meds).  First there’s Jerry’s awful, half-done hair cut.  Then there’s the look on his face.  And in the background…Milkshakes, who has gotten tired of spending all her time in the barn.

I don’t think Jerry is concerned as much with his haircut (or loss of “brains”) so much as he is amused at my epic failure.

My Happy Place

There are adorable baby goats, blooming flowers, chicken eggs in the laying baskets and a box load of fabric waiting to be sewn up.  Life’s good.

My lettuce, arugula and snow peas are coming along swimmingly.  This week I’ll till out the back garden and put in the corn and potatoes (I’m also thinking some butternut squash is in order, considering it freezes well and I looove it).  I’ve got lots of herbs and tomatoes started inside waiting to go out, and we’re going to enclose a spot out front where we’ve got strawberries and rhubarb.  I need to keep those hungry deer from mowing it all down!!!  (Is it too late to plant some asparagus in there???)

My peonies are about to burst.  I can’t wait!  Peonies and lilacs are my favorite flowers.  I have a small lilac bush but it has never bloomed – I am not sure we have the right climate for them.  Up in New York there were massive lilac bushes and trees all over – it was always the best time of year for me when they were in bloom.

I couldn’t help but pick up a marigold pot for the front porch.  I think next time I will grab a few of those Martha Washington type marigolds – they’re lovely.

The past weekend we were busy showing off the adorable twins!  They are so cuddly I can’t even stand it.

They’re doing fantastically well, and Milkshakes is a natural at the mommy thing.

Yes, that’s leopard – print fleece they’re wearing.  I needed to make them little jackets since it’s still been getting rather chilly at night, and this was all I had.  It’s left over from Maddie’s Halloween costume circa 2000.   Check out Frodo’s ears – airplane ears!  That’s how I tell them apart.  Finn’s ears are floppier, but Frodo keeps his out straight all the time.

See?  Airplane ears.

Jerry does this all day.  He’s dying of curiosity.  He hasnt’ been allowed in with them yet because he doesn’t like having the door closed behind him.  I’ve been holding the little guys up for him to sniff at so he can get to know them, and he love love loves them.  He sniffs and nuzzles and smiles……and I suspect he thinks they’re his babies.

But they aren’t, are they?  And so I shall tell you a tale…a tale of their father’s true identity…a tale which only those of you I’ve spoken with in person have heard.

With apologies to certain uncles, aunts and cousins……

Way back when I entered the Goat Giveaway that Susie was sponsoring, people started realizing that when I said I love animals and I want a farm , I wasn’t just talking out my back end…I meant it.  Some of those people got to thinking.  Thinking about a goat they had that had worn out his welcome.

So it happened that when I did not win the goats I got a call from a dear relative of Paul’s informing me that I had won one beautiful purebred Saanen billy goatwho was no longer being cared for the way he deserved.  A loving, friendly but lonely guy who would love to come live in the country where there would be chickens and a llama and kids to play with him and nurture him.  I had heard that he had found himself in some mischief recently (due to his lonliness); he had a penchant for breaking into the house and following Paul’s uncle around the kitchen.  I found it charmingly hialrious, this image of David standing at his kitchen stove, then, upon hearing some strange noise behind him, turning to discover Hunter the goat standing there, chewing his cud, watching the cooking happen.  Sure, I would take this loveable but lonely guy. I had acquired Milkshakes from a local farm and figured they’d keep each other happy.

This is what went down.

We got home from Mexico on a Tuesday night, right around dark.  We had driven all day after picking the kids up in New York and I was beat.  Hunter was expected sometime that evening and Paul planned to wait up.

Around 1 o’clock in the morning, the truck pulls up, the back is opened, and from the way Paul tells it…this wild – eyed, stinky as all – get – out BEAST emerges from the darkness.  We estimate this guy weighed around 250 lbs.  Hunter immediately went to work chasing Jerry and Milkshakes all around.

In the morning I woke up to signs posted over every door stating that none of the kids should be let near Hunter without an adult.  Hmm…well that’s curious, I thought.  I soon discovered that this loveable lonely guy also had a thing for butting.  Hard.

I couldn’t feed the other animals without nearly getting knocked down.  Emily was terrified to go in the pen to take care of the chickens.  Milkshakes sported a look that made me want to bring her in the house with me, and Jerry stayed as far away as he could at all times. Hunter seemed unconcerned by all of this, happily chewing on the electric fencing wires!!

He lasted two days before I found a lovely woman in a neighboring town who raised purebred Saanen females but had been searching for an affordable male.  I happily gave him to her.  He went to a small dairy farm with 12 females to mate.

So there you have it – the story of how this stinky guy fathered this cute little guy and his brother.

And I am glad he did.



What a surprise!  The first baby was pretty big and Milkshakes struggled a bit, and I struggled to help pull him out.  We were certain that with his size that he was a singleton, but then……..holy cow is that another baby??????  And baby number two slid out with much less effort than his brother.

Two boys – Finnegan (the huge) and his much smaller brother Frodo. They began walking in no time (took about 20 minutes and they were good and sturdy on their feet) and are happily suckling and bleating with their very attentive mama.

It’s been quite a day and I am beat, so I will let the pictures suffice for the rest of the story.

WARNING!  I started documenting the birth before I had to put down the camera and pull out Finn so there are a few graphic pics here.

Happy Birthday TJ??

I just realized it’s already April 13, and only because all of my fellow UVa alums have been wishing Thomas Jefferson a “Happy Birthday” today on Facebook.  It unfortunately make me vomit a little bit to think of UVa because it was such a tough time for me, both as a student and as a staffer.  At the same time, I realize just how much happier I am now, and how far I’ve come since then.  I finally feel like I am on the path I have always wanted to be on, but just couldn’t quite get to.  So I promise I won’t UVa bash.  Too badly. It’s pretty great to be able to say I am finally doing what makes me happy and I have lots of friends and supporters to keep me going at it.  Thanks all of you!!!!

April 13 also means we are moving far too quickly toward summer and I still have a lot of landscaping and planting to do.  I need that truckload of dirt so we can get the pool put in before the kids rend us limb from limb.  It’s already been in the 90’s here and our neighbors have their pools open already (as a former New Yorker…..I just find this wrong somehow).

Oh, and we’ll probably get a baby goat tonight because not only is it cold and rainy and windy and miserable out, but LOST is on.

I’ll let you know.

Glad That’s Over

Thankfully everything’s been fairly quiet since our misadventure with Jerry.  The fence is fixed and after seeing the chickens get zapped a few times Jerry has regained his respect for it.  Have you ever seen a llama smile? Just get an electrified fence, add one chicken, wait for the pained squawking and witness the hilarious grin it elicits on your llama’s face.  I swear he was laughing at that poor bird.  I haven’t seen anything that funny in a long, long while. I needed that laugh, let me tell you.  And I feel sorry for anyone who spoke to me that day – I was an hysterical mess.  I am sure more than one person thought I was off my rocker, but having an animal get loose like that is something akin to losing a toddler.

Meanwhile, since our goat baby situation continues to drag on and on…..we brought home some babies of a different kind.

Two Silver Laced Wyandotte girls.  We got them from Chicken World – a home and garden center the next town over.  The best part is that they’re guaranteed to be hens or we can exchange them.  I am really, really hoping that won’t be necessary for once. These two girls are being called Penny and Magpie.

Emily is over the moon to have little peeps again.  She just loves them.  We tend to pick on her for it, but it’s also kind of cute that she always has to handle all the chickens.   At home she makes it a point to catch and “baby” each and every chicken at least once a day.  When we were at Susie’s I was drooling over the goats and sheep, Neve was running around with the dogs, and Emily was all about chasing the chickens.  She’s our chicken girl.

I’ve been sewing up a mad storm and loving every second of it.  I’ll share my fruits with y’all soon enough…but not just yet.

I’m also hoping Milkshakes hurries things up already before she bursts.  I want a baby goat already!

For now Ill be happy with lamb.  Cake, that is.

My brother’s lovely girlfriend (hi Eleanor!!!) gave me this great 3D cake mold for Christmas and I finally got the chance to use it.  I could barely get it frosted and covered in coconut before it got devoured, otherwise I might’ve “staged it” a little nicer.  Next time I’d like to try to use some marzipan for the eyes and a little pink nose.

Jerry’s Outing

This is one of those days where my reason for this blog become apparent.  Someone out there needs to get some enjoyment or a laugh out of my life, because a lot of the time  it’s all I can do not to go batshit crazy and call the men in white coats to take me away.  Days like today I get to feeling like I have no business even getting out of bed,  let alone raising kids and animals.

Still no baby from Milkshakes.  Still checking every few hours and a few times during the night.  I am pretty tired.  It wasn’t a happy experience, therefore, getting woken up early by pounding on the front door.

There was our lovely neighbor, Jack, who has done so much for us the last few years that we have lived here.  Today wasn’t good news.  Today he woke me up to tell me that Jerry was out in the road.

It seems our electric fence isn’t functioning, and for some reason Jerry (who never, ever goes near that blasted fence) decided to barrel on over it.  My guess is that he saw something like a fox or bobcat or what have you (being that the weather’s quite warm and the predators are out in force) and felt the need to scare it off.  At least, that is what makes the most sense, and makes me feel better about the whole situation.  He was doing his job as a guardian……he just went a little too far.

I also need to tell myself he wouldn’t have jumped it if the electric was on.

I found him grazing in the yard across the street and coaxed him almost all the way back into our yard with a scoop of food.

Then he bolted.  I don’t know why.  And after that, nothing would convimce him to come back.

I panicked hard.  He was running fast, and we’re not that far from a major road.  I was also worried about some of the neighbors.  Most people don’t give a second thought to a roaming dog (we have plenty of those in these parts); even a snarling, garbage bag – destroying, pooping all over your garden and chasing your kids  dog doesn’t for some reason seem to concern people the way a harmless, non – biting llama does. I didn’t want anyone shooting him.

I called Susie to get the livestock vet’s number.  They told me to call Animal Control.  I also called a local alpaca farmer. Animal Control showed up with our other neighbor, who happens to work for the sheriff.  Then his wife and kids came out to help.

Two hours and a lot of panic,  running and some alpaca – herding advice later, we had herded him back inside the fence line, where he planted himself and slept hard for several hours.

Then I fixed as much of the downed fence as I could and found that the entire electrical system is shorted out and it’s beyond my knowledge to fix it.  So I went inside, cried a bit in the shower, and found out the dog had peed all over the white playroom carpet.

Just another day in paradise.

Shudder – Inducing

Seriously the spider situation right now is out of hand.  I know I have a healthier fear of them than most people, but still.  This whole “90 degrees in the first week of April” thing is certainly not helping.  If it were chillier (like it is supposed to be!) I doubt we’d have so many of them.

Since Milkshakes shows all signs of readiness I have been checking her every few hours or so.  At night it has been a challenge – bugs galore – but tonight I couldn’t even get out the back door due to the spider and beetle condos that have sprung up all over the backdoor.  Then, once I’ve fought my way out to the barn (with gooseflesh and chills still in full effect) I have to squash whatever beast has taken up residence on the door so I can get in to see my goat.  I won’t even tell you the horrors my flashlight has seen on the ground around the barn and in the corners.  I can’t even think about it.  If I didn’t have animals out there I’d be wearing a white spacesuit and blasting the place with Sevin dust.

As for the mommy to be, she has been pawing the ground, panting, pacing, laying on her side with her legs out in awkward positions, and chewing at her sides.  The ligaments at her tailbone are all but “gone” and she’s all bagged up in the udder.  Every expert agrees that these are all good signs of imminent delivery……except these things  have all been true since Friday at least.

I think she just wants to make me crazy.


Our shed (or “Milkshakes’ House” as Oona says) is done.  Finally.  Took all weekend, but we were pushing hard because Milkshakes keep fooling us with signs of being in labor, which she then shakes off and goes about her business as though she wasn’t just looking for all the world as if she were about to kid.

It was hot this weekend, too.  Much more so than we are used to this early in the year.  I hope we don’t  go straight into an oppressively hot summer.

It was “Three Chicken Butt” hot out there.  I wish I could keep them out of Milkshakes and Jerry’s water because they make such a mess of it.

A girl and her goat.

We had loads of “help” all day.

When the build was complete I got the honor of spending an entire day painting it.

And filling it with lots of yummy hay for bedding and eating.

It’s all ready for the baby to arrive, any time now.  I’ve been sleeping in the living room with the window open so I can hear any noises, and I’ve been checking her every few hours.  We put a light in there with a remote control so I don’t have to wander out in the dark.  Someone needs to tell the bees and spiders that this new house is not for them, though.  Last night I went out at about 3 am to check on things and couldn’t get in because there was a giant spider on the door.  Every time I tried to smoosh him he got away.  Finally I just let the darn goat out to check her and muttered some choice four letter words at the ugly 8 legged beast that got away.  During the day it’s the wasps.  They’re terrible.

So cross your fingers everything goes well and that it happens soon!!!! I need a nap!  After painting all day I came in and made empanadas and strawberry shortcake.

My feet hurt so bad I couldn’t sleep.  Ugh!!! (but so worth it!!!)