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!

 
Day's Eye 08/24/2011
 
Two weeks ago today, I got my first tattoo.  I never really thought I would and may even be considered hypocrite for having one.  My struggle is not with tattoos but with the lack of meaning and until now I did not have something I would want to imprint on my skin permanently.  I am glad that I waited and gave it thought over the past several years (I nearly got one when I was 19 or so but a friend and I were talked out of it luckily).

I got three wild daisies on my right foot.  Daisies are my favorite flower and symbolize simplicity, yet are so beautiful.  The wild daisy is a symbol of my hope to live wildly--naturally wild as the daisy does.  This comes from a book on women and spirituality that I have been reading over the past year.  A daisy's roots are strong and grow flowers each year.  The stem of my tattoo touches the ground as though the daisies are planted where I am--just as I should be.  If a daisy is cut, it grows back stronger.  The three symbolizes the Holy Trinity and deeper, the importance of religion/spirituality in my life and in who I am today.  Daisy comes from "day's eye" because the blooms open with the sun.  I love the color because it looks blackish but it is really brown, blue and green mixed together as an outline of a daisy which means it is completely unique. 

The whole experience was really cool because I have been researching and thinking of the meaning and what I wanted for weeks and Jeremy shared his thoughts as well.  The design was drawn by me and then shown to the tattoo artist and he drew his version of my drawing so it's pretty much my own design.  I loved watching it all come together and the pain wasn't really even that bad.  So that's one of my latest adventures.   


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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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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). 

 
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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Sweet Summertime 06/20/2011
 
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Summer is here and it shows on our “farm”.  The garden is growing and producing its first fruits.  We are getting cucumbers, squash/zucchini, green beans, and potatoes.  These are piling up quickly so I started pickling last week and plan to start canning this week.  I have a lot of basil, mint, oregano, and perilla too.  I’m drying these herbs for teas (for medicinal purposes) and for cooking later.  Some herbs such as, chives and basil, will be frozen as well.  As soon as I get the right ingredients from the store I will make basil into pesto…green AND PURPLE this year.  All of this is so exciting but it also means BUGS!  Our corn is taking a beating from Japanese beetles so Jeremy spends a lot of time smashing them in hopes to keep more from coming.  Last week we picked our first blackberries.  We picked about 2 lbs during our first round.  Our land is covered with blackberries and that is where the name Blackberry Mountain comes from.  I hope to make jam and cobbler and freeze the rest (After eating a fair share).  It’s so great to be getting so much produce and being able to eat some now and store later so that we can taste the summer all year long.  Hard work in the spring and summer pay off!

 
Life Skills 06/06/2011
 
My favorite class in high school was Life Skills.  The course focused on cooking, nutrition, and sewing, and was formerly known as Home Economics.  My teacher was a sweet lady that practiced what she taught and we were able to learn a lot from her during our classes due her hands-on teaching approach.   When it comes to sewing, without her I probably would have never given it a thought.  Ms. Adams had her own small sewing business selling mostly hand made purses to ladies in the area.  She taught us her design and how to sew our own.  I was excited about my new hobby and sold a couple to friends.  I even became inspired to make my own design for my prom purse.  The design was simple, the purse was small, and it worked perfect for the evening.  Not much came from my sewing after that.  I remember stapling a curtain in my freshman dorm room because my roommate nor I felt the urge to sew it to proper length.  Luckily things have changed and my interest has been reignited.  My friend just had her first baby and I took her pregnancy as an opportunity to make my first quilt.  After mom suggested it, I decided to sew it by hand so that I knew each stitch and so that each stitch was full of love and wonder of the child that would soon be wrapped in the blanket.  Since then I have been very curious about sewing projects and basics.  I tried a few projects and have several more on my agenda for when I have a moment.  I am working with a Singer Promise machine that my mom bought me for Christmas.  This season is great for practicing because I can wear my results.  I am excited to be sewing again and plan to keep it up.  Its where I feel I can be creative and resourceful and those are extremely important to me.   I'll try to keep you posted with updates as projects come and go.     
 
 
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I’m a slacker when it comes to gardening.  We have had a garden for three years now but I typically get excited doing research and planting but fail to plan like Jeremy.  He has been the garden designer, he sort of fell into that position when I didn’t make efforts to do so.  He has encouraged me to try something myself so that I can research like I always do but to follow through with planning, planting, and harvesting after I nurture and care for plants.  A while back he gave me an herb garden for Christmas.  This meant he would dig my garden plot and the rest was up to me.  Basically he gave me the gift of garden creativity and freedom.  The first year I bought herbs familiar to me without much knowledge except which were perennials and annuals.  They grew and I harvested them, but had too much of some and wasn’t sure what to do with others.  In the end I figured I would lose them all because the goats had finished many plants so I ended the season and would try again.  This spring while surveying our backyard and planning our garden I noticed a few old friends had returned—Greek Oregano, German Thyme, Spearmint, and Peppermint had come back stronger than before.  Nature is a better garden than I am—this does not come as a surprise but it was truly unexpected that those plants would return.  In addition to my herbs from last year I started Sweet and Dark Opal Basil plants from seeds a few months ago and have been watching them grow.  Along with those seeds I also planted Rosemary and Lavender.  These are supposedly much harder to start from seed and so far that is pretty accurate.  I believe I had success with a few Rosemary seedlings and one Lavender but time will tell. 

Why grow herbs?

I wasn’t sure of this when I got the gift but after researching and growing my own I realize they are great for edible and medicinal purposes.  I admit I do not fully use them for everything at this time but I hope to try more over time and as I learn more.  As the summer goes on I will add more information and photos about herbs and their specifics.  If you don’t have anything growing, why not start with a few herbs in your window seal?

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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!