Friday, January 18, 2013

Single white females in search of a friend

Late last spring before we sold our house we got a pair of dairy goats that were both already milking. I had milked them successfully all through the many showings of our home , the eventual sale of our home, moving to my parents house, and finally moving into our own new home.

At first I was worried about having the responsibility of having to milk the goats twice a day every day through all of the craziness that was our lives last year. I thought it might be too much for me to handle on top of everything else. But turns out that for the most part my fears were unfounded.  On the day we were actually moving from our old house and putting all of our belongings into storage I asked a good friend of mine to goat sit until we could get our selves and our stuff out of one place and into any other. As soon as we were installed in my parent's house, I ran to get my "girls" as fast as I could. 

Turns out I loved having them with me. No matter what was happening, the milking and goat chores got me out of the house for a minimum of 20 minutes twice each day. It was always so peaceful, the goats had adjusted completely and were quite happy to jump up onto the milk stand and be milked, without making a fuss. They were always affectionate and so happy to see me. I told Rodrigo several times during those tumultuous months that if possible I never wanted to be without goats on our homestead.  Emmett and Claire often joined me playing in the yard and toddling around under the giant old shade trees playing or standing close to me petting the goats and "helping" me milk them. 

October came and we moved into our own home and relocated the goats to a lovely large pasture here on our new land. As cooler weather arrived the goats came into heat for the first time. My goats, like most dairy goats, are seasonal breeders. That means they only come into heat for a few days each month for a few months each year and if they aren't bred then, we will have to wait an entire year for them to get pregnant and freshen again. (Give birth and come into milk again!) Without baby goats there is no we need baby goats! 

In order to get baby goats we needed one thing... a buck! We do not have a buck (male goat) and I did not want to own a buck! They are rumored to be bad tempered, stinky escape artists with precisely one thing on their minds! But without a buck, the plain fact is there will be no baby goats! I asked around and scouted every farm I passed in hopes of finding a good looking guy to visit my girls but a couple of months passed and I had no leads. So I did what any respectable newbie homesteader would do... I posted a personal ad on Craigslist! 

In my ad I described my goats (Nubian-Saanen crosses) and explained that I was searching for a healthy goat of an appropriate breed to do us a favor. ;-) Within a couple of hours a gentleman with a herd of full blooded Saanen goats contacted me via email and said he might be able to help. After a nice long informative phone call he gave me his address (turns out he lives just across the mountain in the same tiny town we had moved to) and I drove over to borrow Cooper.

Cooper was quite large and really, really stinky! He was not exactly bad tempered and while he never attempted to butt us, he did repeated ram the fence and break out/jump over while he was here. Mostly the escapes where to get out to eat the pretty bushes just on the other side of the fence, and thankfully he never wandered off of our land. He was also very easy to catch, we just called and shook a bit of grain so he could hear it rattling in the bottom of the bucket and he would come running. But I did find his enthusiasm a bit disconcerting. A very large goat, with very large pointy horns running full speed towards me made me slightly nervous. He honestly never tried anything rough towards me, and the children were all warned to stay away from him, just in case! Because of his escapes we invested in a strand of electric wire to circle the top of the fence around the goats' entire pasture area. After that he never tried to escape again. He stayed here rooming with my goats for a total of 5 weeks. We wanted to be sure that both of my goats did get a chance to get bred before we returned him home. 

And now we wait. If I managed to guess correctly when my goats were in heat then I think the first birth should be sometime in the very first week of April! It is very exciting! Both Daisy and Larkspur had one baby each last time, and it was the first birth for each of them. According to most other goat people I've spoken with, goats often have one baby their first time around and the second time they will often have twins or even triplets!!! I think both girls are already looking plumper, but it might just be their thick winter fur... after all they are only about a month or a month and a half pregnant right now. I'm not sure how soon goats start showing. I've got lots to read up on over the next couple months so I am ready when the time comes for them to give birth. I can't wait, I just hope they both are pregnant! We are undecided about what we are going to do with the babies right now. One of the doelings (assuming we have a doeling!) will be going to the man who lent us Copper, and for the others, we will just have to wait and see. If we have little bucks we will probably raise at least one for meat. The boys are talking about keeping a buckling to train as a cart goat. :-) 

Goat Cart image found here.

Friday, January 11, 2013

A bit of catching up...

Oh, Hello there! It's been such a long time since I've written in this space. My inbox has been filled with sweet emails from people checking in on us wanting to make sure everything was OK over the past couple of months. Thank you. We are OK, better than OK in fact.

 I've come here dozens of times to start this post and I always leave with the page as blank as when I arrived. I lay in bed at night thinking of all the things I want to write down here, funny things, sad things, accomplishments, utter failures, conversations overheard, things I want to remember and I want my kids to see sometime down the road. Somehow I never managed to come up with the perfect beginning, or the perfect pictures so I never put anything down. Well, I'm over that now! Here I am back, after nearly half a year, without perfect pictures or a perfect title or perfect beginning. But here, just the same.

I suppose I'll try to catch up on the happenings around these parts, since in my last couple of posts I told you all that we had finally sold our house on less than one acre, and were in the process of buying a new one on 4 acres. Specifically,  a gorgeous Victorian farmhouse with a turret!! It was exactly like the house I've always dreamed of living in. I was never one of those little girls who dreamed of what her wedding was going to be like, what kind of dress I'd wear, what my cake and flowers or even the groom might be like. No, none of those things ever occurred to me to dream about, but I have always wanted to live in a pretty old rambling farmhouse! I dreamed about high ceilings and glass door knobs, window pane glass wavy with age. Wood floors, and pretty wood trim everywhere. A wide front porch to hang a swing on so I could spend hours out there curled up with a good book.

The plan was, we were going to close on the house we were selling on August 16 and then on August 17 we were going to close on the farm house and start fixing it up and moving in that afternoon, even if it meant camping out on the property for a while! The second appraisal that was required before we could buy the house was delayed almost 2 weeks. And four (very!) short days before we had to be out of our old house the appraisal finally came back saying that the house while beautiful from the outside was nearly irreparable structurally. There where so many termites that you could push through the floors into the root cellar in many spots, (apparently all carefully concealed under furniture and rugs! The foundation was cracked and the house had shifted, and the well was contaminated and we would have to pay for a new municipal water line to be run... plus a myriad of other costly problems that have slipped from my mind right now. Many, many more problems than what we ourselves noticed originally. But the point was, there was no way we could buy that house. And we had to get out of the house we were selling in 4 days! So I was about to find out just how much "fun" being homeless, with 5 kids, 2 milk goats, 15+ rabbits, 2 dogs, frogs, geckos, a saltwater aquarium and a house full of stuff and no-where to put any of it, really was.

I packed up three changes of clothes for each of us and everything else but our mattress was put into a giant storage building, until we could find a new house and start the purchasing process over. We moved all of our animals and ourselves into my parents house. The first night there the 7 of us slept in their living room. My mom was sick upstairs and never even came out of her room to say hello. Rodrigo got up and went to work the next morning and left me with instructions to "find us a place to live!" We moved our mattress out of her living room floor and into her storage room floor. By piling boxes to the ceiling all around we had barely enough room to fit the mattress, and nothing else. We couldn't even walk on either side of the bed, we had to climb into it from the end. Claire's toddler bed was wedged in at the foot of our bed, and Emmett slept in our bed. The big boys slept in the living room on the floor and sofa.

After not having seen my mom one single time since we became "roomies", on the second day I finally went up to her bedroom to find out what in the world was going on! My dad had told me she was sick, but sheesh couldn't she at least say hello?! I mean, really!  Well, turns out she couldn't even get out of bed, I had never seen her that sick. I took her to the doctor and he said "urinary tract infection" gave her some antibiotics told her to drink cranberry juice and she would be fine. Only she didn't get better. Finally after days of this I took her to the emergency room and they figured out that her appendix had ruptured 13 days before and she was nearly dead! She ended up having emergency surgery and had to remain in the hospital for almost 2 weeks. After she came home it was a long road to recovery, but thankfully she is fully recovered now!

During this time we tired our poor realtor out, looking for a place to live. Finally we found something that was not my dream home, but it would work for us. Honestly, I really didn't like this house initially. Rodrigo and the big boys loved it, they kept talking about how roomy it was, how much potential the land had, and I only noticed it didn't have a turret. And there wasn't one single romantic, or lovely detail about it. It was just a house, a sturdy, well built, fine house, but just a house. But it did have good land and lovely woods out back, that would be our own woods and enough space for a big goat pasture, to have chickens, to have a huge garden and orchards and berry patches, and everything we really wanted, so I said yes. Plus the 2+ months of sleeping in the storage room floor with boxes lining both sides of our bed from floor to ceiling was a great motivator in buying another house...any house! For a while though I really did feel like I was mourning the loss of something I never had.

We spent a very long 9.7 weeks (68 days if you're counting, not that I was counting or anything) in that storage room in my mom's house, before we finally were able to close on this house and move in. However as difficult as it was not to have our own place, we were all very thankful to have a place to live during the transition time.

 We moved in this house in the end of October, the woods were just starting to turn and there were beautiful acorns dropping all over the place. There were busy little squirrels and toadstools everywhere. It was lovely.

I prayed a lot about my crummy attitude towards this house while we where in the process of buying it. It was not love at first sight, me and this house. We came out often and walked around the land and through the house while we were waiting for realtors and loan people to get all of their ducks in a row so we could finally move in. I asked God to help me see the good and the lovely, because this really seemed to be the house that He was pointing us towards. There were struggles along the way, but things kept working out and eventually in the end of October we were able to sign on this house and move in. 

By the time we had been here a week I was so happy that we had bought this house and not the other. It is a GOOD house for our family. We have been busy painting, fixing, re-wiring, fencing since we've moved in. We have made so many plans for our little "homestead" .

During the time in my parent's house I didn't do much at all in the way of creative crafty stuff. However since coming here I have been sewing, painting and making all sorts of lovely new things that I can't wait to share with you. 

P.S. The pictures in this post are mostly unrelated to the posting... but I simply could not have a post sans pictures now could I?

P.P.S. The pictures of the houses are related to this post! 

P.P.P.S If anyone has trouble seeing my blog at this new width would you mind letting me know either in the comments or via email? I am hoping it will make my pictures bigger and everything easier to see. I think I'm going to have to fiddle with it a bit more. My email is up there on the right. Thanks!

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