goatboss. goatmom. goatcrazy.

I didn’t realize it until the day after but we finally got our first goats on our 2-year anniversary of moving here! Meet Juniper Skye and her aunt Flora.

Flora, in front, may or may not stay here for long. My little Nigerian Dwarf Jasmine will be here in a week or two and then we’ll see. Flora may go home to be bred and one of her sons may come here or another auntie, older sister or mom of Juniper. We shall see. I absolutely adore her and she’s head-over-heels in love with me as well (she cries if I get more than 3 feet away from her) but she’s kind of a meanie to Juniper and if she doesn’t get over that nonsense, she’ll have to go back home when Jasmine arrives. My goal is to get her to chill the heck out because she’s in milk and what an amazing treat that is. She gave us an entire half gallon yesterday!

Juniper is my girl, 3/4 Toggenburg, 1/4 Nubian. She was born on one of my best friend’s farms down the street and I claimed her as my own before she even came into this world. She is amazing beyond words! She hasn’t been handled much and was very skittish the first day but she’s really warmed up to me and now lets me pet her 89-91% of the time and will eat out of my hand. That’s in less than 48 hours. My friend says I’m a natural and I may just need to raise/train all the babies between our two farms. Yes please! So on that!!

Paul kicked ass and finished building their house a couple hours after they got here. He is amazing! The whole thing, with the exception of screws, door hardware and some of the two-by-fours was totally free. Or trade. We are huge barterers around here. We traded pears, duck and chicken eggs for a mountain of wood pallets and barn metal, a hen for some more wood pallets, duck eggs and hugs for some plywood and were gifted a piece of suntuf for a skylight. Then I traded more duck eggs for grass hay and grain so we can just get a little bit at a time until we actually have a place to store it all (that’ll be in the shipping container when we finish the cabin and it’s not full to the hilt with furniture, art and music supplies). Actually we’ll probably build a metal shed. That may be faster. I need to come up with some sort of fundraiser like jam sales, art or healing sessions.

I laid out all of the pallets deciding how I wanted to make it and had Finn help me do the first hole to sink a peeler core a couple feet deep to slide to the corner pallets over for super strength and stability. Paul did the rest because apparently my designs are better on paper. He asks me questions about structural engineering and I stare blankly so he takes over. He’s the best husband I’ve ever had! (Only husband ever and it will obviously remain that way because he’s the best.)

I’m going to build a little covered feeding area off the right side of their house. And then it’s on to building their play structure. A goat playground is totally necessary! And the hammock to watch them from. I make chicken playgrounds out of branches, twigs, pallets and random things all the time but this is going to be so much more fun. Paul won’t let me use the chainsaw (because he’s smart!) so I need to wait and get a bit of help on that, but I can do all of the other necessary cutting now that he has adequately trained me on all sharp power tools. 🙂

Here is a picture of Jasmine, purebred registered Nigerian Dwarf, from a few weeks ago. Her birth name is JasmineJade but I call her Jasmine Meadow. Both girls were born in March, the 1st and the 8th, and that means more female Pisces energy up in here. Everyone needs more of that! I haven’t been able to pick her up yet because the breeder does shows at the state fair and some of the girls got a cold. They can spread that and it can develop into pneumonia so we’re waiting until her entire herd is 100% healthy and well before we bring her here. That’s why I borrowed Flora to begin with but now I like the idea of having three goats until I breed Jasmine next April or so. Then whoever I’m borrowing can go home if desired and I’ll have another baby goat. Juniper will be bred in summer for a spring 2020 baby. Hopefully they aren’t all boys because I don’t plan on keeping more than one, which we will make a wether. Any other boys either will be sold, traded or eaten. (I still haven’t even processed my own chickens yet so can you imagine me processing one of my baby goats!? Yeah, not happening, though it makes me feel more homesteady talking about it. Of course if we have another apocalypse like we did last year for any longer than a couple of weeks, all of that changes.)

Since bringing the stanchion over, all non milking creatures are loving it. Scruff the chicken first and then baby Juniper. Flora, the only one that needs it, isn’t terribly fond of it but yesterday was our second milking and it was infinitely better than the first. Day one was bucking bronco. Day two was finding her favorite back and butt massage spots and getting her to mellow out a bit.

Oh yeah, here’s the skylight. This will give them extra warmth in Winter as it’s south-facing but they’ll still stay cool in summer due to the angle and the trees overhead.

Excited so many people will be here to meet them this weekend. Pretty much all of our favorite humans will be here to celebrate all the things worth celebrating, like Paul’s 40th birthday, goats, life and all other good things. ♡

summer abundance, and a year of eggs

We/I haven’t posted in eons, again. It’s not that farmstead life is slow or uneventful, but rather bursting at the seams and overflowing with amazement, awe and sheer but-kicking busyness.

That chicken coop I posted about before and promised a part two of its free construction and completion? It’s been done since the next day, sans paint, and so far has housed three rounds of babies, totalling 25 in all. We’ll be moving it to the garden sometime within the next week or two for my impending Swedish Flower Hen breeding endeavors (three out of four are laying, and the last is 6 weeks younger). The older girls are not yet 6 months old but by Spring, I’ll have plenty of hatching eggs and chicks available. If I ever end up painting the coop, I’ll post photos. But the main chicken coop, Cluckingham Palace, still isn’t painted either. Or the goat house, but that’s another post.

Despite our late start, our gardens are thriving. And the late start was not my fault. I had almost 200 (or 300?) starts die during our winter storm with the implosion of our greenhouse under snow weight and round two mostly became squished by neighbor cats thinking I planted them cozy plant beds. We have been harvesting and eating and even selling an abundance of zucchini, crookneck and yellow squash, round zucchini, lettuce, kale, rainbow chard, onions, tomatoes, green beans, purple beans, peas, herbs, chives, potatoes, cucumbers and a little bit of broccoli and cauliflower. The latter weren’t fond of our almost a hundred degree days in April and had a rough start. But I planted a ton more (plus more beans, greens, roots, etc.) so it’ll be great.

This also was the first year we got raspberries. We only got 6 but next year we’ll have 6,000. We got tons of blueberries and still are from some of our late season bushes, mountains of blackberries which is one of my favorite foods, and loads of plums, but mostly from friends and neighbors — we had a couple dozen of our own. Pears and apples are too many to keep up with. Oh and we had heaps of figs and some cherries. The deer ate most of the cherries along with all of our peaches and nectarines, mountains of apples from our baby trees and most of our plums. Not just the fruit but the leaves and branches. Thanks deer! I think I’m going to relocate 95% of our orchard in autum when the ground is nice and soft and the trees are more dormant so I can put 10 foot fences around them to allow them to establish themselves, then take the fences back down.

I’ve been loving doing lots of small batches of canning this year. So far I’ve done spiced fig and golden plum jam, garlicky Plum barbecue sauce, blackberry jam, apple pie Jam to use in baking or for the guys to put on French toast, blackberry apple spice jam which I only did one jar of because it was leftovers that wouldn’t fill a jar and I just added to it. Interestingly enough is pretty awesome. I’ve also done apple pear sauce, a crapload of pickled cucumbers and zucchini, and spiced plums. I still need to do some more maple bourbon plum butter and blackberry pear jam because those where everyone’s talk to favorites last year, along with pickled apples and 700 more apple sauce, plus salsa. I found a recipe for zucchini bread jam which I may try as well because we have so many zucchini! Oh, I also did pickled green beans. Pro tip: don’t pickle purple beans. They end up looking like long wrinkly alien appendages.

A couple of weeks ago was our one-year anniversary of when my very first chicken started laying eggs. I kept track because I wanted to see how many eggs we received from our girls in a year. It was kind of silly to count because we had anywhere between 8 and 30 layers at any given time with hatching out new ones, selling old ones, etc but we received exactly 3450 eggs in year 1. That’s 287.5 eggs per month, or 66.3 eggs per week on average (just over 5.5 dozen). Yay girls!! I only have a couple of weekly chicken egg customers but it’s perfect. We’ll have more laying hens this year so I’ll be able to sell more. For a while there we couldn’t sell our duck eggs for the life of us. We were giving them away by the dozen because our girls lay 20 times more than I read their breeds will lay. Now though, things have changed. We have waiting lists for duck eggs. We only have three ducks, one who is special needs and rarely lays, but we get over a dozen a week. It’s so funny when people now offer to prepay for eggs that haven’t yet been laid. So we are getting four more ducks. Three girls and a boy so not only will we have duck eggs for eating, we will have fertile duck eggs for hatching and ducklings available to anyone who wishes to buy them. Our duck breeds: Cayuga, White Layer, Saxony, Black Swedish and Chocolate Indian Runner. This autumn we should start breaking even on egg sales. Meaning we make as much selling eggs as their expensive food costs. Spring, especially with hatching eggs, chicks, ducklings and rare breed pullets, will mean I’m making a little profit. I think I’m profiting regardless. We used to spend a minimum of $56 a month on sub-par organic grocery store eggs.

I babble. Anyway, that’s what we’re up to. Just living the dream. I’ll do another post here in the next day or two (or month) to tell you about our new goats and likely share stories and photos about our impending gathering with friends and family. A bunch of people are coming down from Portland and it’s going to be lovely.

snowmageddon. the apocalypse. chaos.

It’s kind of stupid to use the last little bit of phone juice to do a blog post but because we will likely be unreachable for days or potentially even weeks, I wanted to do a quick update.

We are under two feet of snow and counting. There is no power. There is no heat. There is no water. Very soon to be no phone. The roads are closed. Power and internet lines are down. Trees are falling left and right. Branches on the chicken coop, a huge oak fell on our cabin… all kinds of horrible crap. It’s not fun. It’s devastating, in fact. But we are sucking it up and getting shit done. We’re safe and alive, albeit cold, but that’s an easy fix next door.

We set up our camp stove on our neighbor’s covered porch. We are all feasting on hard boiled eggs. We are about to start a stew of Random beef parts that we could find in the freezer and we are putting it on the neighbors wood stove. It will be a dual Family Feast. Soon we will add carrots, onions, potatoes, garlic and a lot of goodness. They are sharing their heat and we are sharing our food. They have a lot of food to share too so no one will starve. We could last a month, the 5 of us. We will probably have to sleep in their cabin because our main house is 40 degrees.

It just started a blog post yesterday about the excitement of my first incubator hatch but the babies have died. No power means death. Absolutely heartbreaking.

If I can charge my phone on the neighbors generator, I will keep up little updates here. All of our roads are closed so we aren’t going anywhere. Cross your fingers things don’t get worse. Almost two feet of snow and no end in sight. It’s snowing like a mother clucker out there! The photo below is from last night and the snow never stopped.

Another scary thing is that there have been numerous massive trees of falling in the creek. It’s starting to overflow. It could flood our entire lower field and the neighbor’s back acreage.

ducks, ducklings, and a waterfowl oasis

Last year we we so excited (and a tad nervous) to get our three ducks but they have been the most amazing and fun (absolutely hysterical) addition to our ever-growing farm and homestead. Our first three are a Saxony named Stella (below), a Black Swedish named Frida (above) and a Chocolate Runner.

None of these crazy quackers have laid a single egg yet, but we love them none the less. They’re just about to hit 7 months old. Tip: don’t buy ducklings in June because it will be too dark by the time they’re ready to start laying.

We (Paul) built them the most precious house with a shady veranda… and apparently I never got a completed/painted photo of it so I’ll work on that once the torrential rains die down for a minute.

This year we decided to add three more ducklings which quickly morphed into five. In about a month an a half, we’ll have a Cayuga, a White Layer (because I’ve wanted a “Jemima Puddleduck” since I was little), a Khaki Campbell and two Welsh Harlequins (a boy and a girl).

Their current house will become the chick and mama hen(s) nursery and the duckies’ new house is in the works — we just have to add a couple of laying boxes on the back, a little footer at the base of the front door opening so teeny littles don’t escape and a roost bar or two. It’ll be fantastic, and totally separate from the other “big chickens”.

Because there isn’t a huge amount of shade in their new homeland, we got a bunch of fast growing shade trees to plant around the area to create a duck (and potential future goose) waterfowl oasis.

I planned on digging a big pond for them and to serve as irrigation for garden watering but upon sharing my idea with the neighbor, I found out that due to the proximity of our property to the creek, we’re not allowed to create any permanent water feature. I looked it up and they were right! Good thing I found that out before rather than after. Instead, we are buying a huge stock tank and burying it, putting river rock around the edges. It’ll definitely beat their little kiddy pool but we’ll probably leave that for them as well.

They’ll still be allowed to free range with their chicken siblings, but these duckies will have such a lovely new home, especially as the trees start growing in. I’m still working on planting them.

Stay tuned for baby duckling photos in mid-February!

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I see I wrote and never posted a blog post again. And now it’s mid-February. And of course we just got a call from the breeder that our Welsh Harlequin ducklings are not available for our hatch date and our preferred types won’t be available in unison until June. What a bummer!

But in good news we have duck eggs!! They started laying Sunday before last, starting with a pretty green egg, presumably from Frida, and laying one single egg every single day since. It’s the weirdest thing. All the new ones have been white so it seems like maybe Frida started and now Brunhild and Stella are taking turns? Or she just wanted to practice with a green egg and is now laying white? I have no idea. But we get one duck egg a day and it’s pretty awesome. Paul prefers duck eggs to chicken eggs so I have deemed them all his but will sell a half-dozen here and there to anyone interested.