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Animal Compactors

Compost bins, who needs compost bins when you have chickens and goats? Our chickens love watermelon and cucumbers so much that they leave nothing more than skins. By the time they’re through,  the watermelon rind looks like a flimsy green paper bowl.

After Halloween, a coworker gave me her leftover jack-o-lantern that her son named “JulioBulio”. In case you missed it, here’s a video of the goats sampling the leftover pumpkin.

Now, if the chickens learn to sculpt those leftovers into shapes, they’ll demand their own YouTube channel. 

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Where there’s smoke

Today, I traveled to Lake Junaluska, NC for a meeting. Less than an hour from home, wildfires are burning on 2,0000 acres of South Mountain State Park. First, I worried that smoke would block my route. Then I worried about my cousin, one of the many forest rangers, firefighters, and volunteers desperately working to contain and extinguish one of the many fires burning in the Appalachian mountains. 

First, I dropped off 2 cases of water at the church that will be delivered to the relief workers. Then, I headed up the mountain. In the early morning light, smoke rose from the mountain like clouds.Stopping at the Glen Alpine exit, I could see smoke billowing over the mountain I just passed. 

Further west, I saw a sign indicating road closures to Bat Cave, a small town south of my direction. 

Arriving at Lake Junaluska, I checked in at the meeting and we could see the smoke settling over the lake. At a break, I stepped outside, and smelled and tasted the smoke-filled air. The usual mountain vista obscured by wafting smoke from a nearby wildfire. 

We were safe, and being outside for short times could lead to coughing fits.
We adjourned the afternoon session and I took the opportunity to head home with the fading daylight. I dislike driving down Black Mountain at night and feared it would be worse with the smoke. 

As I left the beautiful mountains, the sky was eerily hazy and the sun appeared orangish-red. I could smell the smoke in the car. 

The moon rose and was obscured by smoke.

I spoke with a friend who told me of evacuations and of the teams of firefighters from around the nation. Those brave men and women who mobilize, await orders and stay in tent cities while fighting Mother Nature. When I asked my cousin what he wanted in particular (and I meant snacks), he responded with one word, “Rain”.
Never did he nor any of us think that the fires would be in our state, in counties where we have family and friends. 

To the men and women fighting the fires, thank you and be safe. 

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You Alright Back There Steve?

After several months of searching, I located a pygmy goat for Daddy. His old buck (named Buck), became too old to provide sire services. Thus began the search for a new, young buckling. Ironically, I searched “pygmy goat for sale” on Craigslist,  Facebook and several other sites. I found Steve.  

A 9 month old pygmy purchased and named by a little boy boy who loved Steve more than most goats are ever loved. Yet, as bucklings will do, Steve began to grow into his adolescence and started to display male-goat behavior. He frightened his best friend by ramming his horns and giving chase; typical goat and herd behavior. Goats like to be in a herd.  They need the companionship of other like-horned creatures, and a single goat is a lonely goat. 

We drove 25 miles to fetch Steve on a windy Saturday morning. 

After tearful goodbyes, we covered the wire-cage on the back of the truck with a tarp to cut down on the cold wind for the 25 mile drive. Five miles later, we stopped at a convenience store so that I could check the tarp, and secure the flaps. I jumped out of the truck, walked around and asked, “you alright back there Steve?” As I turned to get back in the truck, I saw the horrified looks on customers’ faces as I told Jim, “Steve’s fine in the cage.  Let’s go.” I burst into a fit of laughter as I caught a glimpse in the sideview mirror of a stunned person in pumping gas watching us drive down the road.

Steve arrived to Daddy’s farm where my brother Kelly hugged Steve, and I checked his Famacha score. Eyes are the windows to our souls and an accurate test for barber-pole intestinal worms in goats; those blood-sucking parasites can a use anemia and death in goats.  He’s healthy. 

I walked Steve on a rope to the house, and Steve munched on a few fallen leaves. Herd introductions happen slowly at Daddy’s so that the new goat learns the pasture layout and the new heirarchy can be established. Within hours, Steve met the herd and was eating with them in the pasture as if he had been there all along. Hopefully, by June, we’ll see new baby Steves in the pasture. If not, the search will resume.  

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Goat Broker

“Hey Janet, do you want a goat?” 

This is not the most unusual question I’ve received from friends, so I asked, “Is it male or female?” 

“I don’t know. A man just stopped by here and asked if we wanted a goat. But we don’t do goats. I told him that I knew a goat lady though.”

I laughed and asked, “is it a pygmy or dwarf? Daddy’s looking for a new billy, but it needs to be miniature.”

“No, but the man’s name is Billy.”

At that moment I lost it and burst out laughing. She texted me the phone number for “Billy the Goat Man” and I left a message, “Hi, this is Janet, a friend gave me your number about a goat. Please give me a call.” 

A few hours later, Billy returned my call, “This is Billy, you called about my goat?” 

I replied, “Yes sir, is it a male or a female? And is it a pygmy?”

He said, “well, it’s a medium-sized brown ram goat.”  

At this moment, I stopped myself from explaining that rams are sheep. Instead, I said, “well, if it comes to our place, he will be neutered and live a nice long life.”

He asked, “you gonna eat him?”

Shocked, I replied, “no sir, we don’t eat goats, they’re livestock and pasture control.” 

“Oh, well, ain’t that what you do? You raise goats, sell them, kill them and eat them? I ain’t never tasted goat before, and I wanted to see what it tasted like.” 

I said, “that’s what some people do, but I don’t eat goat. Are you looking to sell your goat for meat?” 

He said, “I ain’t wanting to sell him. He ain’t much trouble. I wanted to see if you were gonna eat him.”

At this point, I stood looking at the phone in my hand, on the steps of the church, and I replied,  “tell ya what, I’ll ask a few folks and see if I can find someone looking to eat a goat. And I’ll get back with you.”

He thanked me and hung up. I shook my head in disbelief.  I actually had a discussion about a goat, with someone not concerned about making sure that their little precious horned-animal would go to a nice farm and live out its days in a pasture. 

I finished at the meeting and headed home to cut cane for the goats and to finish chores. Sure enough,  I found someone interested in a goat-roast. 

I called her that night, “Sobrina, do you a goat?” She replied, “A goat? Well, we were talking the other day about a goat roast.” 

I said, “well, Billy wants to know how it tastes, so will you promise me that you’ll share your goat with him?” 

She replied,  “His name is Billy?!” 

“Yes. Promise me.”

 Apparently, this type of wheeling and dealing is not as common as it used to be. But the way that I see it, if I can help Billy to find a short-term home for his goat and it gives him an opportunity to share a meal of goat meat that he raised, then that’s the way it is. She’s calling him tomorrow. Billy may get his wish.

On Saturday, we picked up a pygmy goat named Steve; a small male who can grow into buckhood and live out his days as a stud in a pasture full of nanny goats at Daddy’s. 

I guess this makes me a goat broker. Bringing people together, one gruff at a time.

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Betty White Escapes

Breaking News: 

Famed goat, Betty White, escaped from the pasture today. Standing just on the other side of the electric fence, in the dark, Betty White was located where her 8 goat friends and two donkeys pondered how she made it across three strands of electrified fencing. 

Three feral barn cats, Soot, Tink and Peter Pan, watched from the barn as the farmer and #farmher tried multiple attempts to lure Betty White to the gate so she could join her 4-legged companions.

She was so quick. She jumped over a rope used as a fake fence, ate a bowl of grain and 3 apple treats. Betty White, a 9 month old alpine boer mix goat, weighing roughly 60 pounds and proudly flicking her pointy horns, finally fell to capture as Jim, the farmer, grabbed her trying to

flee once again. Holding tightly to her horns, the farmher fashioned a harness around her neck and nose only to discover that the dog collars were too large for Betty White’s demur neck. Jim held tightly to the screaming goat in the dark, hoisted her and gently walked her through the gate where she was greeted by her herd. Ten minutes passed before Betty White acknowledged the capture claiming she didn’t know how she ended up on the other side of the fence. Dazed, she refused to join the others in a midnight snack of grass and water. Just wait til Sunday,  it’s time for another round of shots. She’s going to be really ticked!!

Reporting live from the pasture after a full day at the office and commuting home in traffic, Janet (aka the farmher of the story). This post pre-empted the previously scheduled post “Goat Broker” which has now been rescheduled to next week. 

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Quick Trick Goat Stack

One of my favorite books is “Fox in Sox” by Dr. Seuss.  I love the tweetle beetles battling with paddles in puddles. It seems that life on the farm is often a series of sticks and clocks; I have yet to see pig bands. 

Last week, I turned to see Queen Lillian, the youngest baby goat, standing on top of Pete the miniature donkey’s back. Last night, after milking Faith Hill, the younger goats started racing around the pasture and bouncing off the barn like a ninja fighter.  They love climbing and pushing each other off of the places where they climb. Queen Lillian (daughter of our goat named Julie Andrews and twin sister to Mary Poppins) jumped on Pete’s back again. This time, I caught it on video. 


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Crazy Chicken, I’m Bleeding!

“Get out of my henhouse you crazy chicken! I’m bleeding!”

I screamed at the chicken after she pecked my leg and drew blood. 

“You can’t hatch these eggs, they’re not all yours!” 

The Dominique hen’s neck feathers stood out from her neck like a dragon as she squawked loudly.  I grabbed a piece of metal and said, “Flog me again and I’ll chop your head off! You’ll be chicken dumplings for my vegetarian husband! Get out!”

She flew toward me and ran into the flat square of metal that I held as a shield, then ran out of the henhouse. I was mad. I just wanted to gather eggs. 

I stomped back to the house and sprayed the first thing I could find on my bleeding thigh.  It turned purplish-blue…”what the?!” I turned the bottle to read, “Blue-Kote…veterinary germicide fungicide spray for wounds.” Well, if it’s good enough for the goats, it’s good enough for me. 

The blue will wear off my hands and thigh in a few days.

 Crazy chicken.