Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Addison is a female Nigerian Dwarf goat. When I saw a picture of Addison on a for sale listing she melted my heart. I called the owner and she told me that Addison was possibly pregnant (hopefully due in June) and was for sale since she was getting picked on by the other goats.

The Ohiofarmgirl had such good things to say about goats that I have decided to take the plunge. We hope to pick up Addison in mid to late March so we have time to set up a home for her and to find a wether to keep her company. If she is pregnant then I will have "kids" and a milk goat to keep me busy.

Addison will not be staying in the blue barn unless it gets fortified with wire fencing as a precaution against bears! I just love her blue eyes.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Birthday Girl

The above is what a birthday girl on a want-to-be homestead gets for her special day. A book for reading in tonight's bubble bath, some shiny new mud boots for this spring, and a sun hat to keep the freckles off her nose.

A Birthday card on my bed from some unknown secret admirer.

A home made steak dinner with mushrooms and grilled bacon (everyone else had left over chicken tacos).

A birthday cake made by the Commander that I only had to frost twice. The first time after he frosted it too soon out of the oven and took the top off from it, and the second after he put the cake lid on too tight and the frosting stuck to it. It was still very yummy.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Bear Walls

Legend has it that the folks who lived here before us were the proud owners of two milk goats. The blue outbuilding lends credence to that claim as when we arrived it was outfitted with a feeder, had straw flooring, glass milk jars were stored in the corner, and there were goat pictures on the wall.

The odd thing about all this was that the property had everything to handle goats, yet there was no sign of the goats themselves. No droppings, no fur, no barren ground patches, nothing. Maybe the goats escaped from the blue building, goats are know to be brilliant escape artists. How hard could escaping be, the blue building was certainly no Alcatraz as the backside was a patchwork of poorly repaired holes and sheeting.

The mystery was solved one day when the furnace repairman asked if we had had any problems with the local bears. We stated that for the past two springs our bird feeders had been mangled by what seemed to be a bear, and the neighbors feeders and garden has suffered the same fate. The repairman laughed and let on that we had so far gotten off far lighter than the previous owners, who had in fact woken to the horrible sights and sounds of a bear ripping through the back wall of the blue building to help itself to the crunchy, cream filled goats that it found inside.

This episode (true or not) has given us pause as we have considered what type of shelter to build for our arriving flock. Hoop buildings have been researched, but couldn't a bear just rip through the fabric wall? Open three sided shelters would provide even less protection. The answer to this conundrum will require a little more thought, but it has surely given us pause to bringing on a few critters this spring and housing them in the blue building.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Survey Says?

Farms need fences, and fences probably should be built on one's own property. Several walkabouts this fall/winter (we tried to stay out of the woods in the spring/summer due to ticks) gave us a fairly good idea of where the boundaries are, but one never knows.

The North boundary was easy, the road, to the West was a wood lined drainage ditch (both sides) separating us from the neighbor, the Eastern side was graced by a mostly fallen barbed wire fence, and the Southern end was anybodies guess (although we did pace it out).

The Commander was thinking that he would take out a GPS and just mark the corners, but little did he know that the legal description of the property read something like; the NE 1/4 of the SE 1/4 of P31, S4, .... - total gibberish.

Calls to local survey businesses revealed one thing, surveys are really expensive. After discussing how the neighbors would react if we threw up a fence on their land we decided to have a survey done.

Day 1 of the survey provided us with a stake one the edge of the yard, with the driveway and garage on the wrong side of the stake. Hmmm, why did the surveyor leave to go look up some court records? Could the driveway and garage be on the wrong side of the property line? A quick call revealed that the stake was a GPS mark - whew - they will be back to finish the next day.

Day 2 dawns with the surveyor arriving equipped with snowshoes, a telescopic sight thing, and a GPS. The snowshoes proved to be key, more on that later. So as the surveyor moved lightly over the snow, he left a trail of pink ribbons and stakes - angling away from the drainage ditch cutting about 10 feet behind the garage, and merging with the corner of the garden.

It seems that the drainage ditch was not the property line. The two dead trees that we had professionally removed last year because we were afraid that they could fall over the ditch and onto the neighbors house (or onto our garage) were on the neighbors property! It seems we have been raking and mowing part of the neighbors lawn that is oddly separated from their home by a ditch and woodland while it completely adjoins our own.

The Commander came home and noting the line of horrors behind the garage immediately wanted to venture out and check the rest of the markers. So off he goes with Sara in tow, to follow the trail of pink ribbons left by the surveyor. About 30 minutes later the Commander returns, completely out of breath and drenched in sweat. It seems that following the trail of the surveyor (who was on snowshoes) through 3+ feet of snow over broken wooded terrain was a bit more difficult than he anticipated.

Turns out the Northern and Eastern boundaries were about what were expected, while the pacing that we did to the South was accurate to within 10 yards. As for the Western side, well, we are going to have to think on that one for a bit.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Yep - Soay are the sheep for us

We saw that a local hobby farm family was moving and needed to find homes for their animals, including their Shetland sheep, so we thought we would take a look. The Shetland's are supposed to be a bit larger than the Soay and have a thicker wool coat, so we thought that we could possibly take on two bred ewes so we could have lambs this spring. Even though our fences are not up and the shelter isn't built, if we liked them we could put them up in the garden (fenced) and the old out-building.

Well, the Shetlands we saw were really woolly. The owners noted that even though they could be "roo'ed", they sheared them. The wool was just too thick to fool around with. I'm not sure what we were expecting, but they seemed huge. Obviously, they are not too big, but that wool, wow. We may still have picked up a few, but the owners were not part of the voluntary scrapie program.

The trip was still great as we got a much better idea of the space required for our soon to arrive flock. Our delusions of fancy feed stalls, elaborate water tanks, and intricate mineral stands were fortunately cast away, we really came away with the feeling of "we can do this". It really reinforced the correctness of our Soay decision - their pocket size and "roo-able" wool are two traits that we rookies really need.