And then there were five….

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A little doe was born 7/27 to Rita. She’s a cute little thing!

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Ellie

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Manson and Singapore. They like to hang out.

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Ezra and one of our new chickens.

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{this moment}

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Joining Soulemama in {this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

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For the Love of Critters

What have we been up to? Well, if you’re one of the boys, it likely involves some sort of critter. Personally, I have never been a huge fan of snakes but it seems my boys are budding herpetologists. Thankfully the only snakes we’ve seen around here are garter snakes which are at least harmless and they do eat a lot garden pests, like snails, which we have in abundance. While we are a little break from officially homeschooling we have been been learning a lot about garter snakes- what they eat, how to distinguish a male from a female, that they give birth to live young (often a lot of live young), how long they get, and so on. We’ve even begun measuring the snakes the boys catch.So far the longest has been a 25 inch long female- we’re guessing she’s about 2 years old since she’s not quite as long has females can get when they reach full size at 3-4 years.

It’s quite wet around here, due to the almost daily rain and the slight downhill drainage of our hayfield/backyard, so we also have some frogs- which the boys are quite adept at catching- mostly peep frogs who serenade us to sleep, and this green frog fellow.

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A peep frog.

DSCN2647 DSCN2655Luckily snakes and frogs aren’t the only fascination. We’ve also been observing butterflies and moths. Quite fittingly we just observed 5 painted lady caterpillars transform into butterflies.

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A virginia ctenucha Ezra caught.

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A little friend joining us for some pineapple juice breakfast.

Of course, the kittens are still favorites.

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And there’s always fun riding our buck Manson.

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What will they find next?!

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{this moment} Miss Lala Bianca

DSCN2161Born to Rita on May 23rd 2013

Joining Soulemama in {this moment} – A Friday ritual. A single photo – no words – capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

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Milking the Goat- Without A Stand

I don’t have a milk stand. I had intended to build one as just about every goat handling book has diagrams and directions for building your own. It seemed like if you milk goats you need a stand. I never got around to it partly because of time and partly because our old goat barn was rather dimly lit. I wanted to have a portable stand so I could milk outside when it was nice but I also wanted to be able to move it inside in bad weather. I did find one prefab metal portable goat stand which only weighed 30 lbs but it was something like 400 dollars- definitely wasn’t happening. However, the more I thought about it and considered nomadic goat herders and descriptions in books like Heidi the more I thought “well it can surely be done”. And so, this is how I do it:

First, I usually give a little grain to occupy Ms. Ellie then I straddle the goat facing backwards.My view is something like this:

Occasionally I kneel beside her but that changes the angle of my hand (making milking less efficient) and then I don’t have my knees to keep her from wondering off. Then I reach under (or sometimes around) and brush her off making sure any hay or loose hairs won’t fall into the milk. After a clearing squirt or two I get down to business and milk. I use a quart size mason jar to milk into. I prefer a wide mouth jar because I can clean it easier- although a regular mouth jar is a little easier to hold. I hold the jar under with one hand and squirt the milk into it with the other. Because I needed one hand to take photos with the camera I have to break it down into two shots.

Holding the jar:

Milking:

For this shot I placed the jar on the ground but I’d rather hold it because there’s less aiming and it prevents her from knocking it over and spilling it.

There’s more than one way to grasp the teat and milk. Goat teats are rather small and can be difficult to grasp. I prefer the way in the photo above although sometimes I alternate. When I first started milking I had to alternate methods because of hand fatigue. Now I don’t need to and milking probably takes me half the time. To be honest tho I don’t really know how long it takes me I’d guess 10-15 minutes.  I also only milk once a day in the morning. This is Ms. Ellie’s first time being milked and she gives a little over a quart. If I milked her twice a day she’d give a half gallon a day which is about average.

Fresh raw goats milk.

I use the same position for trimming the back hooves and I face the other way to trim the front hooves. For scur trimming I have struggling_along hold Manson’s head while I trim. While I can see how a goat stand would be useful I certainly don’t think it’s a necessity.

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Progress {Yarn Along}

It’s Wednesday!

I’m making good progress on the kid goat sweater…..

And I’m re-reading Surviving Off Off-Grid- definitely a book requiring some thinking and reflection. Which works out pretty well: read a bit, knit and think, read some more, knit some more, repeat.

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One Morning In Maine

                                  It was a gorgeous morning so we ventured out for a little walk.                                   In spots it was rather muddy,

and it was so sunny it felt like spring. (Except when the wind blew.)

                       Tex (the goat) came running up-as he does every morning- and proceeded to run about in a very dog like fashion.

Noah came down and we checked in on the rabbits, giving them some treats.

(This photo makes me think of Beatrix Potter’s Flopsy Bunnies.)

I was excited to find some eggs and some thyme growing.

And Noah was excited to find a bone with teeth in it.

We headed back in- grabbing some firewood-

to refuel with hot cocoa and some scrambled eggs and bacon (and maybe do some clomping about pretending to be dinosaurs) before heading back out and finishing up our chores.

Thanks for coming along!

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Farmgirl Friday

Goat Sweaters {Yarn Along}

Our goat, Ells, is hugely pregnant. Just by looking at her (which is in no way an accurate gauge) I’m thinking she has to be having twins, possibly triplets- and soon too.  I feel much better this year with the temperature being so relatively mild  but the first few days are hard enough for a newborn without battling cold winter nights.

Enter goat sweaters!

Last year I modified one of the kid’s (mine) vests for one of our kids (goat). Hopefully I can find it and, with luck, also knit up a sweater in time for Ells kidding. I found the pattern over at Fiasco Farms- an excellent site for goat info.

Reading wise I just finished The Birth House which I enjoyed immensely as the subjects of birthing and midwifes vs doctor are definitely  topics near and dear  to my heart.

I’m also reading bits here and there from The Beekeeper’s Handbook (great resource). One of these days I will have bees….one of these days…..

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farmgirl friday