Bonus: Flash Flooding

[One very important thing to remember for this story: the goats and the sheep both hate getting their feet wet. Even the smallest mud puddle is skirted like a snake-infested river. If the ground is wet, they tiptoe through the least muddy parts and dance from grass tuft to grass tuft whenever possible.]

On Thursday, work was pounded with rain the entire time I was milking (two hours and change). Fortunately, the rain stopped right as I was ready to take the animals out to their paddock for the night. I didn’t have any kind of water proof/resistant jacket (it’s a 40 minute walk, round-trip, to that particular paddock, plus the time to close up the fence) and had more work to do before I could go home, so I wasn’t excited about getting soaked.

I was merrily leading the animals out to their paddock and noticed that the path to one of the other fields was blocked by an overflowing creek (usually the creek runs under the road). I enjoyed listening to the sound of the rushing water and ogling the scene, but didn’t really think much of it.

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Then I got to the road to the paddock the animals were supposed to go into and realized that was a mistake. The path was completely covered by a lot of water. I was getting my phone out to text my boss to see if there was a backup plan, when three of the goats charged across the water to their paddock. Following them was the rest of the herd. At that point, I gave up on a backup plan and watched to make sure they all made it across the water and closed them in for the night.

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Fortunately, I had my rubber boots on, but even then, I put my foot down in one spot where the water came in over the top of my boot just a little (for reference, they’re 13 inch boots). Fortunately, the animals all made it across without floating away and only two of the goats (the white one, who’s going the wrong way in this picture and one of the others) made any kind of fuss about crossing the water.

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For reference, this is the same spot as the first picture the afternoon after all the rain.

Goats, Goats, and More Goats

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Things have been chaotic (chorus for the summer, I think), so I’m going for more pictures and fewer words.

There were two (human) babies expected at work, a month apart. They came one day after the other. While they planned to let the parents take time off, I’m not sure how much time they’ll actually get before they have to come back to work. There’s only one full-time person, me (about 25 hours per week), and another girl (about 10 hours per week), so losing two full-time people at the same time is hard (especially since full-time is more than 40 hours).

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Dad came out to the farm last weekend and I showed him what I’ve been doing, which was fun. He enjoyed feeding the goats some maple leaves.

Our goats are doing better since losing the one (I think I wrote about her? I don’t remember). The pigs are happy, though I think they wish it would rain. It’s pretty dry and they seem to like a little damp dirt/mud.

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May Update

May was an incredibly busy month. Twenty Paces work really picked up for me, Tony was out of town for two weeks (and he’s had a lot of stuff going on at work), there was a lot of (bad) excitement with the goats, and we acquired three pigs (!!). I’ve been wiped out and haven’t even taken that many pictures.

Twenty Paces Work

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All (or nearly all) of the babies have been born at this point, so we’re milking about 80 animals twice per day. I only have three milking shifts, but trying to get them all done in the allotted time is a challenge (it’s entirely achievable, which is nice). I’ve also got two days per week that I spend working on farm stuff. I do a lot of mucking (less of that with the lady they hired to help with that during the week), a lot of hosing down the milking parlor, some fence repair, a lot of fence moving, and generally doing whatever I can to be useful. I love the chance to see more of the operation of the farm.

Goats & Pigs

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The goats have been…everything people say about goats. It’s a little baffling to me because I feel like the goats at work have a much better personality than ours, but we’re seeing how things go. My current analogy is that if goats are to horses as sheep are to cows, our goats are ponies. Those ponies are doing great work for us (they’ve cleared out the blueberries near the chicken house to make it harder for foxes to sneak super close), but in the last two weeks, two of them got themselves tangled in the electric fence and one of them died. This is not an auspicious start to the first year of goat ownership.

The pigs have been off to great start (admittedly, as of my writing this, they haven’t even been here half a week). I put them in the hard fence (the goats were still being reminded about electric when the pigs came home), even though the lady I bought them from had already done a lot of electric fence training for them. I wanted to make sure that there wasn’t any confusion since my fence is different from hers. As far as I can tell, they haven’t even touched the fence yet. They’re very standoffish, which bothers Tony, but I reminded him that the pigs from last year were shy at the beginning, but super personable by the time we took them to be processed.

The next couple of months will probably be just as wild as this one was. One baby at work is due to have already been born and the other is due at the end of June, so work may pick up a little. Our goats are due to kid at the beginning of August, so that’ll be exciting and busy-making. Tony’s got a lot of travel this summer, so that’s also going to create some chaos. I apologize if posting this summer is slow, but some days, I’m just trying to keep up with myself.

The Swing of the Season

Writing for farming is kind of funny. The “off season” is the time I have the least to write about. At least, I don’t have much to write about that seems worth making the effort. Yes, I burned another pile of weird sized logs. No, I didn’t get any splitting done this week. Oh, we’re up to a bag of feed per week for the chickens this month. There’s not much about that that’s exciting.

Then, the production season starts and just in the last week, I have pictures for at least two stories and I could probably come up with a third if I thought about it long enough.

Last week, there was a sort of open house thing at work. The farm they partner with sent some of their customers up for a tour. I couldn’t stay for the whole thing because I had other obligations, but the sheep were cooperative and a few of them had lambs the night before/morning of, so there were plenty of brand new babies to ogle, plus all the older babies that might not be quite as cute, but are much more active.

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Which one is the mother? I don’t actually know anymore. One of the guys said that this wasn’t the first lamb she’d tried to help with. And the bawling when the mother and baby were moved to a different pen was as if she’d been separated from her own baby. I’d never seen cooperative mothering before and from the way they were talking, it’s not exactly common. My schedule this year has let me be at the barn for more births than last year. It’s been really interesting to see the whole process (mostly in pieces because I’m not just there to watch mothers have their babies, obviously).

The other exciting news is that we have a black snake. The dogs found it last week and weren’t quite sure what to make of it. I called them off, but they had to make absolutely sure it wasn’t going to get us. I think it lives in the base of the tree that you can barely see in the picture. I’m hoping that it’s going to help take care of the rodent problem in the basement.

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