Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Keep on Keepin' On

Hello my friends!

Long time, no talk!  The days have been keeping me so busy lately, and by the time the night comes, I am D-O-N-E.  Harvest time is great, but OH! so exhausting.

It's already September 10th, amazingly.  My kids went back to school last Friday, my daughter to sixth grade and the middle school, and my son to fourth grade.  It's been a transition, because my daughter's bus comes at 6:30 in the morning, meaning she has to get up at 5 or 5:30.  It's been rough on her, and on me.  She, like me, is NOT a morning person.  We would like to sleep all day, thank you very much.  That's not in the cards, however, so up and at 'em we go.  In order for me to get her to the bus on time, she's been helping me in the mornings.  I go out at 5:30 to feed and milk the goats, and she comes out at 6 to feed the other animals.  By the time 6:15 rolls around, we're done and ready to go to the bus. 

That's the theory, anyway.
Daughter would not stand still for a picture, so I put this one up instead.  :)  If she ever finds out, she's going to be thrilled.

I'll let you know if that ever works out exactly like that.  So far, we've come close, but not quite.

My son gets on the bus after 8, so it's head back and get him ready time soon after.  Busy?  Nah.  Why do you ask??
Sneakers on my son (far left) and his friends.  The dang things are BRIGHT.  The 80's are back, no?
Son and husband.  He would sort of stand still for pictures.
In the milking news, Lilly was milking out smaller and smaller amounts every day.  I'd put her on the stand and get a cup or so in the morning, and in the afternoon, a squirt or two.  It was getting ridiculous, and knowing my history with Min, I was worried Lilly was going the same way.  Ah, but Lilly is feeding Tallulah.  And Tallulah, is, in a word, gigantic.  And though Tallulah will eat feed and hay and whatnot, I had a feeling that little miss was sucking her mama dry--at least that was the hope.  So, as Tallulah is now 9 weeks old+, I decided the gravy train has left the station, and taped Lilly's teats to prevent her from suckling.  And the next morning, Lilly gave me damn near 1/2 a gallon.  Hello!

Yep, that little vampire was getting all the milk.  And it is obvious when you look at her, because though she's younger than Amelia and Olive, she's bigger than Amelia and Olive (who were bottle fed).  Yes, it makes a very big difference in how the animal grows when mama has fed/not fed her.  I've always thought so, and I have proof living in the pen outside.  Very interesting.  Tallulah, by the by, is not super thrilled with the non-access to mama's teats, but she's getting used to it.  She has peeled the tape off her favorite teat twice, forcing me to use stickier tape (making me feel bad for Lilly, because ouch!!), but for the most part, she goes in for the nurse, sees the tape, makes the "damn" face and walks away.  So, I am super thrilled to say that my Lilly, she who will not stand still on the milking stand, don't ask her, not even if she's FULL to bursting, and not even for Frosted Mini Wheats,  is a 3/4 a gallon a day milker and then some.  Go Lilly, go!!!

On the boys' side of things, Stewart is a stinky, stinky man who is very happy when Dulcinea comes into the pen with him, and when she does not, he's very happy to make due with Max, who is not happy about that at all.   Understandably so, I think.  Max has been coping with the unwanted attention by eating and eating until he's about as large around as he is long.  Poor boy.  Someone should tell him he can't drown his sorrows in food. 

As Dulcinea is still playing coy with Stewart (though I think he may have been successful one day a week or so ago), I have been trying to find Stewart other employment by pimping him out.  No dice.  Do I understand that? No.  But interestingly, I got an email just this morning offering me $200 for him (to purchase).  Um....no.  The offer makes me wonder many things, but that would be a long story.  Instead, let me explain why the "no" response on my part.

Stewart--who smells, granted-- is in fact, a gorgeous specimen of Nubian buckhood.  He's gigantic, beautifully muscled, his face is well proportioned, his nose very roman-y, and his carriage is fantastic.  I would never show him, because I didn't buy him for that and don't care about it, but it's all very obvious that he is showable even to a novice like me.  Because of his gorgeous buckishness, he throws beautiful babies.  Stewart is a sweet boy, and though he's food aggressive, is very easily handled by anyone with two legs not carrying a feed scoop.  Stewart is a ready breeder, and the number of offspring that Stewart will produce in his lifetime will be worth more than $200.  And did I mention the yodeling?  World class!  He can out yodel anyone, anytime.  Thankfully, though, this trait does not pass down.  Tallulah makes an Alpine "maa".  Hallelujah!  I mean...oh well.  I wouldn't want anyone stealing his thunder!!!

Also, not having Stewart and only keeping Max means A) lonely Max and B) having to pay occasionally to get my girls bred, which would cost a lot in the long run.  I'd rather not have to pay at all, or worry that I may have missed a heat cycle and bred at the wrong time.  Biggest reason, though?  Because I want to keep the production of my goats here, on my own homestead.  And I'm really picky about who my girls are bred to.  Having Stewart and Max somewhat ensures me that I will have a milk supply.  Yes, I have two boys.  But, as was said in the book I am currently reading (and I think it's spot on); "Two is one, and one is none", when thinking about animal stockage.  Damn right.  I have learned that lesson the hard way, more than once.  So my stinky, stinky Stewart stays (say that three times fast), and sorry to whomever emailed about him. 

I smell bad!!

Max, by the way, round as he is (I give him grief about it, but it's all rumen), is getting to be quite a looker as well.  I'm a lucky, lucky gal, surrounded by these two handsome four-legged men!

In other news, the meat birds are ready to be processed, so this weekend we are going to process some for my family who needs smaller birds, and then stuff the others for another week and finish up next weekend for the birds for us.  My husband and I are hoping to get some very large ones for our table this year, which we don't do easily because we have the birds forage during the day.  I believe it keeps them much healthier, and they are very active, but though they retain a lot of the muscle they put on, they do tend to burn calories moving around as much as they do, so it takes a bit longer to get them really big.  I expect this batch this weekend to weigh in around 4.5-5 pounds, finished, but I'm hoping to get another half pound or so on the rest for the following weekend.  I like to have the chickens last for two meals, if I can.  The bigger they are, the easier that will be. 

Next year I will be putting the birds in chicken sleds, and moving them around that way.  I have plans in my head for how to do this, and if it is successful with the chickens, I will put a few turkeys in them (Midget Whites) and try that.  Wait and see is all I can say.  Actually, I'm eager to see if it's going to work as well!

The bees are limping along, and not doing particularly well, and not particularly badly.  I bought mite strips to treat them, becasue I think that might be some of the problem, but I have to tell you I was taken aback when I saw all the frikkin warnings on the things.  Don't touch them, don't breathe them in, don't touch you if you touch them, watch out for eye seerage if you look at them too long (ok, maybe not that one), that sort of thing.  A million warnings.  What kind of crap is that stuff?  I am hesitant to use them, but I was told by the bee guy at the bee store that treating them might be the only way to help them.  HUH?  I'm not sure how dumping toxic waste onto them is helpful.  So, I'm still considering.  Either way, they will need feeding this fall and winter, that much is very clear to me.  Sigh.  I am hoping that they will pull through the winter.  If not, I will be giving up bees.  Two expensive losses is one too many.

I have gone on long enough, I think.  I hope you all have a lovely day, and I will be back soon!  Take care!

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  1. Thanks for the great update! I have to ask - how do you find time to do all that you do when you have two kids? I have 2 kids and I am lucky I manage to get matching socks on in the morning!

  2. Meredith--My kids are older, 12 and 9, so they can do things for themselves. They have always liked to play with each other or by themselves, so they have always self-amused. I know you've got little littles. I remember having to carry my son around all day at that stage--I got nothing done--EVER. It's bittersweet when they get older, it really is.
    PS--Matching socks are overrated! :)

  3. my friend calls her bees "welfare bees" because she has to give them sugar and they don't really go fly and gather, they hang on her sunny porch. Good luck with the winter.


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