Another Day in the Life

Two days after finding Blondie with new born kids (in the breeding pasture), it happened again.  This time when I went to feed the pigs I discovered her sister Barbie with twin kids in nearly the same location.  Once again Johnny was misbehaving, but I was able to get them into the correct pasture, and ultimately the barn, with a lot less drama than I’d had with Blondie.

Here’s Barbie with her twins–Mary and a buckling.

Here’s Joey, standing guard over one of them.

And just as Blondie’s deliveries were followed by Sheena having a single buckling, hardly had I gotten Barbie and her kids into the barn before I noticed that Rhiannon was kidding.

Cherie (who is the skilled goat midwife here) had gone to town and a friend was visiting, having a tour of the farm.  It is rare that we need to interevene in goat deliveries, but after watching Rhiannon struggling for a while I began to get worried.  Then I looked carefully and realized that what I thought were the tips of the two front hooves starting to emerge, was actually one hoof and a nose.  Not good.  I was very worried that the kid needed to breathe in that situation and Rhiannon seemed unable to get him out.  I didn’t think I had time to go back to the barn for gloves so I pulled the kid with my bare hands.  Rhiannon seemed pleased to have the help.  Once I got one leg out a bit I was able to reach around the kid’s face and find the other hoof.  I then pulled it out so that it was emerging before the head and at that point he rushed right out–big, healthy and crying for attention.  I’m sure that was more than my friend had bargained for when she came to see the farm.  🙂

Here’s Rhiannon and kid moments after his birth and then a few hours later.

So we’ve had 19 kids in this cycle.  Loving it.

Love Wins

Surrogates

Miracle and her mother don’t recognize each other.  When kids are born the mother goat will repeatedly bleat for hours as the kid cries.  They imprint each others voices and this helps them identify each other later.  The mother also licks and bathes the kid, further imprinting on it.

Because of the way she was born I doubt Miracle was ever consciously aware of her mother.  And Suzy, her mother, wrote the kid off as dead and never tended her.  We had hoped she would attach to Suzy, and vice versa, but it didn’t happen.

So every day when the goats wander off they’re trailed by all the kids.  Except for Miracle.  She hangs out at the barn all day, because that’s where she’s used to getting fed.

When she sees one of us she begins hollering for attention.  She associates us with eating.  Maybe she even somehow sees us as mother figures.

For the last couple of weeks we’ve noticed an interesting development.  Miracle has bonded with Joey, and she stays by his side all the time.  When the rest of the goats wander out into the pasture, Miracle follows Joey around.  And when he is sleeping, she lays down next to him, sometimes even climbing up onto him.

Joey doesn’t seem to mind it at all.

We’re glad she’s got someone to keep her company all day.

Love Wins

Farmcast Episode 2

I’ve added a gadget to the blog that will make it easier for folks to download the podcast.  It’s off the right on this screen.

Here are some other links to it:

http://whiteflintfarmcast.libsyn.com/rss

http://whiteflintfarmcast.libsyn.com/webpage

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/white-flint-farmcast/id569606210

http://directory.libsyn.com/shows/view/id/whiteflintfarmcast

Of course it’s also available directly from iTunes.  For those interested in it, it’s probably best to subscribe to the feed and have it downloaded into your player automatically every time a new episode comes out.  This is just an experiment and I’m still learing the podcasting ropes.  Hopefully, if there is enough interest to justify continuing it, I’ll get better at this in the future.

I cover some of the subjects that came up in blog comments last week.

Let me know what you think of it.

Thanks.

Love Wins

CROP

Last Sunday was the day of our area’s CROP Hunger Walk to benefit God’s Storehouse, our local foodbank, as well as worldwide hunger relief efforts by Church World Services.  Cherie was in charge of publicity for the event and she did a great job.  It’s a bit of a relief for her (and me) to have it behind us for this year, freeing her more for other things.

The morning of the walk it was pouring cold rain.  Even though it stopped raining by the time the walk started, the foul weather kept many folks away.  Still, over 400 people showed up and financially it was a great success.

Bringing awareness to the problem of hunger and food insecurity in our community is an important part of the event.  The director of our food bank spoke briefly, noting that the number of families being served by them is now at an all-time high.  22% of the children in America live in households that are below the national poverty line.  In our community that number is an astonishing 41%, nearly double the national rate.  Meanwhile, across the world a child dies of hunger or malnutrition every 6 seconds.  While the rest of us wallow in excess.

May the work of God’s Storehouse and Church World Services be blessed.  And may the day come when the CROP walk draws 4,000 people, rather than 400.

Love Wins

A Day in the Life

Monday got off to quite an interesting start.   We do CSA deliveries on Monday, so its always a busy day.  As a I walked down to the back pasture at daybreak to feed the pigs, I was thinking about all the gardens I had to pick and wondering if I’d get it all done before it started raining.

When I got to the back pasture, to my surprise I saw that our goat Blondie had kidded.  According to my records she wasn’t due.  Either my records were wrong or one of our male kids bred her when she was in the pasture where we keep the nannies with kids.  Either way, she had twin kids while in the breeding pasture.

The first thing I had to do was get her separated from our buck Johnny.  For whatever weird reason, Johnny was in the mood for love.  Blondie, having just given birth, did not share his sentiment.  Luckily I was able to move Johnny into the shed and lock him in.  Then I picked up the kids and began trying to lure Blondie into the other pasture.  She followed me and I was able to her into the correct pasture and get the gate shut.  So far so good.  As I carried the kids toward the barn (probably about a quarter of a mile), she followed closely behind me and I began to think everything was going to go smoothly.  But Joey (our Great Pyrennes guard dog) spotted me and must have assumed I was playing a game.  He ran over and began chasing an already spooked Blondie.  She panicked and ran to the back of the pasture.  So I had to start all over again.

I scolded Joey so he kept his distance the second time.  Once again I made it about halfway to the barn without incident.  Then Rowan, our horse, got into the act.   For some bizarre reason he came charging over, bucking and kicking.  Blondie freaked out, of course, and Rowan chased her around the pasture a bit. Meanwhile, I’ve got two screaming kids in my arms while I’m yelling at Rowan and trying to get him to settle down.  He eventually tired of his game and once again I was at square one.

The third time was a charm, I suppose.  I made it to the barn, with Blondie trailing.  By now it was raining.  As I led Blondie into a stall, Joey spotted an opportunity.  With me distracted, he dashed out of the open stall door.

When Joey gets out of the pasture he’s very difficult to catch.  Because he isn’t trained to leave the chickens alone so it’s important to get him back in the fence as quickly as possible.  I chased him around a while, in the rain, but eventually caught him.  Then I had to drag him by his collar about a hundred yards.  He’s a very large dog.  That was not an easy task.

But I got it done.  Finally everyone was where they belonged.

By then it was pouring rain.

Of course circumstances prevented me from getting any pictures of all this.  Here’s a shot of Blondie and her kids, taken much later in the day.  I named the female kid Yoko.

Here’s Blondie and family the next day.

I doubt I’ll ever forget the day Blondie was born.  It was one of the craziest days we’ve ever had on the farm.  For any interested, that story is HERE.

I got all the gardens picked, in the rain, and we put together a nice share for our members–featuring turnip greens, spinach, collards, kale, mustard greens, swiss chard, peppers, eggs and garlic.

When we got back from delivering it, it was nearly dusk and time to feed the pigs again.  As I was returning from doind that I noticed a buzzard in the pasture.  I’ve come to know that usually doesn’t mean anything in the pasture has died.  It almost always means a goat has kidded.  The buzzard comes for the after-birth (I realize that may be a little more detail than y’all want, but it’s the truth and an important indicator).  So and went to check it out and sure enough we had another baby.  Blondie’s mother Sheena had delivered a big strapping boy.

He looked great, so I saw no reason to move them to the barn.

Before coming in I took a minute to watch our crowd of kids playing king of the hill.

Quite a day.

I really do love this life.

Love Wins

P.S.  Our second podcast episode (White Flint Farmcast) is now out and can be accessed through the icon in the right hand column of this screen (or through iTunes, Libysyn and elsewhere).  I’d love feedback, comments, suggestions, questions, criticism, etc.

From the Dust

This looks interesting.  We haven’t seen it yet (c’mon Netflix) but hope to.  This is a conversation that needs to be had.  Generally, it is only in the U.S. that is still an issue.  But here it lives on, doing much damage.  The folks at Biologos were involved in making this film.  They are leaders in the fight to overcome the mutual hostility of science and religion.  Maybe this film will help.

‘From The Dust’ Trailer from Satellite Pictures on Vimeo.

website: http://fromthedustmovie.org/

Love Wins

Get Out and Stay Out.

Debt.

Get out and stay out.  Or better yet, never get in.

I know that’s easier said than done, but I’m convinced that it is the key to having the freedom to become the person you were meant to be.  I don’t think any of us flourish and self-actualize while weighed down with debt.  Instead we are usually trapped by it.

That our society has become addicted to credit and debt is hardly debatable any more.  And the consequences of all that debt are evident in the economic trainwreck we’re experiencing right now.  Because the solution to too much debt is not more debt, it is likely the next inevitable meltdown will be much worse.

But all that is just abstract theory.  Think of the people we know who have been diligent about not becoming indebted, or who have worked their way out of debt and then stayed out.  Those folks have choices most people don’t have these days.  They have a degree of freedom most people only dream about.

Cherie and I have always hated debt.  I came out of school with about $20,000 in debt–a staggering sum to me in 1985.  We had to borrow the money to buy our first house–adding to our debt load.  But while our friends were splurging on luxuries (or just shopping and going out to restaurants several times a week) we were paying off my student loans as fast as we could and sending any extra money we had to pay down the mortgage faster.   Friends ridiculed me for trying to pay off my low interest mortgage.  There were times when it seemed like the mountain was too high to climb, and we’d never get it done.    But it did come.

We haven’t paid a cent in interest in many years.  We don’t intend to ever do so.  We only buy things we can afford with the money we have.

Because we are debt-free we have a degree of freedom we would never have if our lives required that we come up with enough money every month to pay those from whom we have borrowed.

I don’t put this out to pat myself on the back.  Being out of debt is nothing to brag about.  It should be the norm.  Just a generation ago it was a shameful thing to be in debt.  Now teenagers get credit cards.

I’m putting it out there because of something I heard on a Farm Dreams podcast.  It was advice to aspiring farmers–folks who want to quit the urban rat race, move to the country and start farming.  For many folks that is just impossible.  They have debts they can’t service on the limited income of a small farm.  The podcast gave the same advice I’m giving here–get out of debt and stay out.  When people  buy things on credit, they are trading future labor for current consumption.  They are spending the income from work they haven’t yet done.  Spending income they haven’t earned yet forces them to earn that income later and leaves them less of it to spend when they do earn it.  Don’t be seduced into buying things you can’t afford and then not being able to follow your dreams.  Tim and Liz, who run Nature’s Harmony Farm and are the podcasters, did it.  The point if this post is to say that we did it too.  It can be done.

Love Wins