Blackberry Mountain
What's going on? 07/06/2011
 
A lot has been going on lately...
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We hosted lunch for Jeremy's family recently.  Many had not been here since we got all of the animals.  Things got interesting when a few decided they wanted to milk Roses.  Jeremy's dad and brother even tasted FRESH milk.

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I have been harvesting lots of herbs and preserving them in different ways (more on this to come).  This is a batch of sweet and dark opal basil that I turned into pesto and then froze for use at another time.

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We have been having lots of evening campfires.  Eggs is enjoying this one while she recovers from being spayed (MJ was also spayed).

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Dinner on the campfire is one of our favorite things.  This time we had sauteed squash/zucc, salmon with basil, and flatbread (it looks odd but tasted great).

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I am most proud of this photo.  Jeremy has been working to grow corn for the past few years and has not had much success other than a few pieces of corn.  This year it looks great and is starting to produce (if we can rid ourselves of those stinkin' Japanese Beetles). 

 
 
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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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