Blackberry Mountain
Another Farewell 09/08/2011
 
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Well we had three goats and now we are down to one.  Our goat set up quickly got to be too much to handle and so we are taking a moment to step back and make a few changes to our housing and fencing areas.  We sold Mikey, our five month old buckling, yesterday to a family that had lots of brush for him to eat and also had plans to breed him.  He will be pretty happy when he realizes he gets to use his "male gifts" with the ladies on another farm. 

Mikey was the first and only goat that we have seen through birth and grow from that point.  He has been a challenge but he taught us a lot.  As we waited on his new owners to pick him up yesterday we talked about how it seemed like just a few days ago that he was a little kid learning how to walk in the yard or jumping on my grandma while she sat on the porch.  He loved to eat my hair so I had to keep it pulled back.  We believe Mikey may have been the first kid that Roses was able to stay with after birth and milk naturally so that was a learning experience for Roses, I'm sure.  She did a great job helping us to wean him (sometimes by kicking him in the head) when it was time.  Just last week I noticed them snuggling on a cool evening, just like mother and son should. 

    We had to sale Mikey because there is too much risk with him being so close to his mother when she is in heat...we did not want baby goats out of incest for obvious health reasons.  So its a sad day but we can now move forward with some farm repairs in hopes to get a new doe this fall.  Our hope is to find another dairy doe that can be bred for years and to also have Roses bred one final time (she is 8 so this is her last year to safely birth).  Here's to lots more goat adventures!

 
Farewell friend 08/19/2011
 
I will begin with an apology/excuse for my lack of blogging.  The month of July was jammed full of work and traveling for me and then August got here and was pretty full as well.  I sort of lost control of maintaining balance of things.  But I'm back today. 

I write this with a sad heart.  We sold Bella yesterday.  She is no longer a goat on our farm and we will probably not see her again.  A few days ago I was ready to get rid of her.  She was loud, rambunctious, and pretty hard for me to handle without carrying a stick with me for reinforcement.  This summer has been pretty busy with the garden growing, attempting to preserve the fruits and veggies before they rot, trying to keep a house in order (failed), and caring for the animals.  Sadly, we decided that while we love our goats and have enjoyed having them, we just aren't ready for goat farming and have much more to do and learn before we can have multiple goats.  Roses is very calm and gives milk so we decided we would keep her and sale Bella and Mikey.  We are still waiting for a buyer for Mikey but as you know, we sold Bella yesterday evening.  A man came by to see her and bought her within 5 minutes.  He has cows and just got goats so he can teach his kids about showing goats.  It sounds like our sweet yet wild, Bella might get to be in a show.  I am so happy for her because she really needs a place to run around and to eat all day long with other friendly farm animals.  But my heart hurts as I write this and think about the memories we had with her. 

Bella was our first goat and she challenged us from the beginning.  Every time we built something, she showed us how it could be better.   Before we got Roses,  we were even able to let her run around our yard freely all of the time.  She would sit by our back door and chew her cud all afternoon/evening and sometimes would take a minute to sprint back and forth across the yard and back up the steps.  She was always a lover, not a fighter but she was definitely stubborn.  She meant a lot to both of us and she will be missed. 

So here's to Bella...here's hoping that she has greener pastures and nice farm friends and that she is loved for a very long time.  She will forever be in our hearts and I will never forget the things that she taught me. 


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It's Electric! 06/27/2011
 
Having goats is very exciting but it is also very unpredictable which means that it takes a lot of care, patience, and hard work.  We bought Bella in May 2010 and kept her in a pen at night but she freely grazed our yard all day.  And she ate our bushes and trees and garden.  When we got Roses, in November, they grazed the yard together until one day they crossed to our neighbors yard.  Uh oh.  After that we had to start keeping them on "tie-outs".  We moved them to various parts of our yard so that they had ample food but unfortunately they still had little "free" space.  Now with three goats, keeping this up became a major daily chore.  So we talked about fencing for a while.  Jeremy put his mind and body to work and began preparing for his planned set up.  After a few nights and days of work when I was home we now have an electric fence.  It is one that we can expand and move as we wish.  Yes, they got shocked a few times but I believe they have learned their lesson for the time being.  Now we have three happy grazing goats and they have a lot to eat.

Note: The photo below is 2 month old, Mikey.  He's getting big!
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Our farm has grown from two goats to three.  On Saturday, April 16 at 12 a.m., our first goat kid joined us, birthed by an incredible mom, Roses.  Labor was obvious to us for about three hours but we believe she may have been in labor most of Friday.  Roses showed all the signs when I got home from work on Friday evening so we waited.  I did so much research to be prepared but there was nothing I could do as Roses let nature take its course.  It was not quick but it went smoothly and healthily.  Jeremy and I watched as our farm grew.  Roses moved around quite a bit and at the end of labor she sat in a corner and gave it her all letting out quiet moans throughout.  She birthed and immediately began to lick and clean her kid.  I’ve never seen anything like it and could not imagine a better image for motherly instinct.  We actually didn’t even check the sex until the next day because Roses was so motherly.  This was truly moving to me, to see nature at its best.  We did learn, on Saturday, that our kid is a male.  We named him Mikey and it fits him.  Roses has been producing quite a lot of milk so we had to milk her in order for him to get a good hold on her teat.  He was happy after that and nurses as he needs now.  Roses is very motherly and she spends time guarding Mikey from the dogs and Bella by running at them and grunting loudly and head butting when needed.  Mikey is very active when awake, hopping and running around curiously.  Now we continue to build onto our farm making room for our new friend to grow. 

Spring is a season of new life but this year it seems that death and suffering loom with the death of Jeremy’s uncle Michael, after a year long fight with cancer and the unexpected death of Lonus, a buddy of mine from church.  Death is something that touches us all and one thing that we all have in common.  Death is unavoidable and while it can be painful it can also be peaceful and the much needed end to a long, hard journey.  The reason we named the kid Mikey was in memory of Jeremy’s uncle and my friend.  Michael Lonus will remind us of the death of Michael and Lonus but will also be a reminder than even in the midst of our sorrows and tears a goat kid is being born, crying as we welcome him into the world.  We all have death in common but we also have life.  Michael and Lonus began a new part of their journey this past week as we begin our new journey on the farm.  And the circle of life carries on.

 
Roses in waiting 04/11/2011
 
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It seems that we share pieces of information about our animals over time but rarely give you a full introduction to the animals of the small farm that we are developing here in Cherryville.  In order to expand on today’s blog topic I will first need to share some information on our goats.  It was this time last year that we began to have some issues with a neighbor of ours regarding our grass growing taller than they wished.  The county police stopped by to let us know that we needed to deal with the problem (the problem being our grass, not our neighbor).  So within a few days we purchased a goat.  We had no clue what we were looking for or where to begin but it turned out a local young adult raises his own for showing purposes so we worked things out and brought home a year old Boer doe.  Jeremy named her Bella and she gave us hell, to speak as kindly as possible, for the first few days but she began to like her new home and her new human, chicken, and dog friends.  Goats are herd animals so we planned to get another in time and that is what we decided to do last November.  We wanted a dairy goat because Boers are meat goats and so Bella will never give milk abundantly, even when bred.  We found a good deal on a dairy goat and an added bonus was that the family also set it up to breed her before we purchased her.  Jeremy and I went to the next town over to view Roses, and to choose her “date” for the next time she came into heat.  Basically we got to check her out and see if we still wanted her (with goats you check their eyes, hooves, udders, etc. to be sure they are healthy) and then we got to look at the males that were old enough to impregnate her.  We selected a LaMancha buck, which is a different dairy breed, to mix things up a bit.  Roses stayed for a few more days to spend some time in a pen with the chosen buck and we returned to pick her up.  Roses, at the age of 7, joined us here in November.  Bella and her fight like crazy but that is normal for female goats, though it did keep our nerves on edge for the first few weeks.  Roses is a dominant goat and she shows Bella and the dogs that she is the boss. 

Roses joined us nearly 150 days ago which means that, according to goat biology, she is due to kid this coming Saturday, April 16.  Goats can kid anywhere from 145-155 days so it is important to be ready a week ahead of time.  I have been researching for a while, reading a book I purchased, visiting a very informational goat husbandry website, and contacting Roses former owners.  Now we wait…and check on her often.  I have a hectic work schedule but when I am home I check on Roses often even during the night.  The weather has been severe this weekend so I set my alarm to check on her during the night every few hours.  Starting tonight I will have to pick up my pace and either camp out by the pen or check every hour on her behavior.  I hope that I will be able to be there for the birth but also know that Jeremy is prepared to handle things as well.  I have put together a goat birthing kit with different items for cleaning, sanitizing, and feeding the mother and baby.  As far as preparation, we are “ready” but I also realize that with something as natural as birth there is nothing that can fully prepare us, plus Roses is the one that has to do all of the hard work.  I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again (and probably again)…now, we wait!

 
Sunny Days 03/17/2011
 
Everyone keeps talking about the weather here; it is so beautiful and warm and my toes are very happy because they can wiggle in sandals finally!  I’m not convinced that we are out of the cold yet but the current warmth is a great treat.  I try to remind myself to get out in the sun as much as possible now because in a few months I know that it will be miserably hot and I will be wishing away the sunshine for just a few moments of shade.

Humans are not the only ones that enjoy the sun and if you pass by our house you might witness that first hand.  The chickens jump out of the coup first thing in the morning exploring the yard for worms and other juicy crawling bugs and critters.  A few of them hang around when we are tilling in the garden so that they can steal our worms.  It is quite entertaining to watch as one chicken finds a treat because suddenly ten or so other chickens run and attempt to take what is not theirs and the poor worm or bug ends up in several pieces but the chickens are happy.  The goats wandered a bit too much this winter so they have been on “tie outs” for most of the daytime with water and feed beside them and plenty of vegetation in our yard to eat…they are excited to see new life coming up in the form of grass and weeds and they are already fast at work eating whatever is sprouting.  We are working to be sure they don’t get our garden this year!  The goats sure do eat a lot but they have a process—they are known to eat up to twelve hours a day but they will eat for a while and swallow and then, later, sit and basically regurgitate their food and chew it and swallow again.  They have four stomachs and each serves a different purpose and is a vital part of the digestion process.  Each day when I come and go during my lunch break I can’t help but smile as I see the goats laying in the yard apparently sunbathing.  Roses has dug herself a little groove to snuggle in beside a large tree and can be seen laying out or even rolling around…it is a hilarious site!  Bella sits close by and bleats at everyone that goes by.  We have also noticed that our neighbor down the street has tied their goat out on the side of their house closer to us and we think it is so that our goats can communicate…which is so cool since they are herd animals and like to have friends.  The cats love this time of year because when we open the windows they can jump outside anytime they want, often running inside as soon as a door is open and then jumping out the window again almost immediately.  I used to dislike cats but the Homesley family changed that and I am happy for that because cats are very entertaining creatures and sometimes loving too!  The dogs like just about every time of year but this is the season that Eggs enjoys going on creek runs---meaning she is dirtier than ever.  Speaking of cats and dogs, we have had MJ & Eggs for about a year now.  It was this time last year that a friend that stayed with us found Eggs in the woods and I found MJ in the road in front of a local Japanese restaurant.  Both were less than twelve weeks old according to the vet so Happy “Sort of” Birthday to both of these awesome animals! 

Warm weather means digging and planting and lots of other hard work for us gardeners but if all goes well that means we will have new life and plants coming up throughout the spring and summer.  I have begun my seedlings for my herb garden and will post more on that later. 

For now, enjoy the weather!  Get out in the sun (or rain if it comes again) and breathe deep as you take in this beautiful creation that we have been blessed with!



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Odds and Ends 01/15/2011
 
A few things...

Well, I was wrong when I told you that I had some White Button mushrooms ready to be eaten.  Those little mushrooms photographed in last week's blog turned out to be large Portabella mushrooms.   We realized they were colored differently than they should be and then discovered it was because I had gotten the two types mixed up.  Regardless of the mistake we still got our first crop of mushrooms throughout the week.  Both types grew and continue to grow, enough for us to pick a couple each day.  We both really like mushrooms so this week we had mushroom omelets, mushroom pizza, and tonight, I made spaghetti loaded with mushrooms and a salad topped with them.  Needless to say...they are delicious!

Last Sunday a winter storm hit the area (as well as a large part of the country) and we got about 8 inches of snow and ice by the time it was over.  I was out of work most of the week, and the local schools  were canceled all week...the south is not ready for this type of winter weather.  We still have a lot of snow on the ground and an older church member told me there is an old wives tale that says if snow stays around for a while it is waiting on more to come.  This could be an interesting winter!  I do enjoy the snow and it is always nice to spend extra time at home with Jeremy and the animals.  We stayed inside mostly because it was so cold, but we ventured out one day to play on the land (photos on the main page and farm section).  I saw our neighbors sledding down the slope on our road and so I tried out snow tubing down Mozelle Road...it worked great and I plan on trying again if we get more snow this year.

I finally took down the Christmas decorations today.  I keep them up as long as possible because I like them and find no reason to rush to rid the house of them just because a specific date has passed.  While cleaning today I figured I might as well, plus the tree needed to go outside before it fell apart all over the place.  Luckily, Cedar trees just happen to be one of Rose's favorite foods.  I took the Christmas tree out and put it straight into the goat pen and nearly got trampled trying to get in and out.

I just wanted to drop in and share a few things from the past week that made me smile...mushrooms, snow, and Christmas tree eating goats. 

That is all for now...