Monday, May 14, 2012


Oh my goodness...all this change. My last post was just one week ago, it's hard to believe. On Wednesday, I went to pick up the Angora Goats, Itty and Frankie from Spruce Hill Fiber Farm. The farm is wonderful. Will and Lisa are sweet friends and have been a huge part of our farm - they are where we got Josie and Blossom, our alpacas. While I was there, their last doe decided that it was time for her to give birth! She gave birth to a single, tiny, little white baby. UNBELIEVABLE! I was there to watch her find a spot off in the corner of the barn, away from the rest of the herd. I was there to see her lay down and watch the baby's nose come out, and then head with her floppy ears, and with a couple more pushes, the baby was out! That was an experience that I had never had before and I am honored that Mama decided to share that wonderful experience with me. I got Frankie and Itty home without too much stress - it was a long drive for them and I understand how they were a little stressed out. Once they got home, we got them settled into the existing alpaca/Ollie (our Great Pyrenees) smaller barn (since the big barn isn't quite ready yet). Everyone was getting along famously.
On Friday, I drove about an hour from here to pick up our two dairy goats, Alpines, Mabel and Flora. Mabel is our milker and Flora is just a little one. We are planning on switching back and forth with our breedings, so we can have a constant supply of milk. Friday night was our first milking. That poor Momma was probably wondering what she got herself into. Between my novice hands (prior to this, I had only squirted milk from a goat at a farm Mark worked at...and it was not a full milking...literally just a few squirts) and she being new to us and the fact that we hadn't had a chance to build our milking stand and had to rely on Mark holding her head while I literally took us and hour and a half or so to empty her. Now that I've done this a couple days, I don't even know that she was completely empty that first night. Saturday was much about 1/2 hour each milking (twice per day). Sunday, Mother's Day, we spent building a milking stand which made life SO much better. SO MUCH BETTER. She's a stubborn goat, when it comes to being lead to the stand, but once she's in, she just eats as I milk and she's a good, good girl.
We made the decision to get a milk goat (ok, two milk goats) so that we could make cheese and soap etc. but we weren't even sure how we felt about drinking raw goats milk. Would it be different from the cow's milk we've been drinking? Would it taste "goaty"? What does that even mean? LOL On Friday night, we decided to make a batch of cookies and have cookies with a cold glass of goat milk to try it out. UM...IT.IS.DELICIOUS! It tastes JUST like vitamin D/whole cow's milk. It takes a second to get over the fact that it came from that {kinda stinky} goat in our backyard, but once you get past that...YUM!
This morning, I did the entire feeding of all the animals and milked Mabel (I milked her dry in 15 minutes!) and it was successful, tiring, but successful. It will be nice when everyone is moved into the new barn. The alpacas are in there now...that's a long story for another post...but they are settled in there, still waiting on Blossom's baby. But once everyone is moved, it will be easier to get in and out and feedings separated etc. Hopefully that will be soon.
At this point, I would be happy to switch completely to goat milk. I am thankful to the milking goat for giving me and my family such delicious and nutritious milk. It's a great experience for my children too.
Today...I am just thankful.

Monday, May 7, 2012


...and then sometimes life just goes to Hell. Since my last post, we've gone through a wave of ups and downs. I don't want to bore you with the details; however, let's just say that marriages are fragile creatures and even those couples that seem that they will last forever crack under pressure. We've gone through some pretty rough spots and it seems that each day we are deciding whether we can...will...should stay together. I love my husband. He is absolutely my best friend, partner in life and wonderful father to our kids. Sometimes things get sticky though. We'll just have to see how time goes and hearts mend.
On a much, much happier note...after a bit of a hiatus (between personal issues, me traveling to Portland, OR for last week and more...things have been on hold a bit...Mark has been working when he can and my parents have helped a lot too), we have hit the barn in full force. It is looking great! We had all five of the kids at the farm yesterday, as an early Mother's Day present - they all provided me with a full day of manual labor (so much better and more appropriate than anything store bought). It was nice being able to show them how to do something and just let them do it, while Mark and I worked on other things. We have the sheathing and roofing felt up on the roof, the fence braces are going in and the fence is rolled out, two walls on the main level have siding up, all the internal pen walls are complete.
We still need to...
Before the animals move in:
  • Finish two main floor sides of siding
  • Put in four braces and stretch the fence
  • Build the six pen doors (two pens just have one door each, the other two pens have double doors and one pen is just going to be open
  • Get feed containers and waterers
  • Build the external doors to the barn (or come up with a temporary option for this
After the animals move in:
  • Finish loft siding
  • Build doors for loft
  • Put rails in the loft, for safety
  • Finish window vents
  • Paint
  • Shingles
I'm sure that I am missing some steps...right now though, I'm still trying to recover from a week spent in another time zone (three hours off), including getting up real early and staying out with co-workers - lots of fun and lots of work and now we are back to reality. :-)
Cannot wait to post the "It's Done!" post...but for now, I'll settle with "It looks Great!" post. Happy Monday all...
Let the barn envy BEGIN!
Tiff, Kait and her boyfriend, David started working on fence post braces - they did a great job! Kait and David rolled out the fencing too, it still needs positioned and stretched, but it also looks great!

Another view of the fence brace handiwork!

Inside of one completed pen, just need the doors built and installed.

LOVE the way the siding is looking (unfortunately, so do the wood bees!)

Side of the barn, facing the pasture area. You can see more great fence braces to the right :-)

Full picture of the end of the barn that faces pasture. Above the siding, we are going to put in basic wire mesh windows, with covers build from 2x4's and siding so we can choose to vent or not.

End of the barn facing our driveway.

Mark did an amazing job putting on all the roofing felt. Now the roof is protected if it rains...not perfect, but at least it's not totally exposed. We are going to focus on some of the main floor type tasks, so we can get animals in place and will focus on the shingles in a bit.

Another internal view of the siding that I think looks so nice. I'm happy with our choice.

Siding and pen wall.

All the pen walls built out...looking good.

AND HOW COULD I FORGET! Captain (one of our three outside kitties: "Captain", "Jack" and "Sparrow") had her (unexpected) litter of five kittens last week. She is a beautiful long haired black cat, that the people that lived in the home next door to us previously, just left at the house. All their left cats have claimed out home/yard as theirs now. The kittens are all black, one with a tuft of white on its chest. They are so tiny. Captain is doing an amazing job being a mom. She's always been the more timid (read 'psychotic') cats in the group and I wasn't sure how she'd be as a mom - but she does great...she hides them well, nurses well, snuggles well...they are a great addition and a bit of a much needed distraction. Congrats Captain!