Got Milk?

Yes, plenty, thanks for asking.  So I have had enough sadness this week to last a long time, so let’s move on to some happier topics: the second half of my parents’ visit, what else has been going on at the farm and pictures of adorable goats, shall we?

Work continued on the cabin until my parents left on Wednesday.  At their departure the cabin looked like this:

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Looks like a cabin, eh?  Harry pretty much worked 12 hour days everyday he was here, but the rest of us made it to the beach one night and my mom, Matt and I went for a bike ride another night.  On Saturday Matt made his famous ribs.  Here is a smattering of super flattering pictures from my mom’s phone.

In other news, we got a fifth goat and it’s a rooster.  We decided to move our younger rooster into the goat pen.  There just ain’t room for 2 roosters in one coop and Dizzy is king so “Red” as we started to call him now lives with the goats.  He also now thinks he is a goat.  He grazes with them and runs to the gate with them when I come over even though he hated me when he was a rooster.

Joe built a little A-frame hut for him to live in out in the goat pen, but last night when I went out to put the goats to bed and lock them up in their house, he was in there roosting.  So I locked him up with the goats and I guess Red lives in the goat house now, just one of the herd.

Currently up for sale on eBay we have the Nintendo 64 game “Worms: Armageddon”.  Any Nintendo 64 game collectors out there?  Because this auction is currently up to $164.50 with 2 days to go.  Matt paid $1 for this game last week at a yard sale not knowing it was so collectible. Woohoo!

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And I am just going to go ahead and leave this picture right here.

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A Sad Day at Prickly Pear

It is with deep sadness that I write about the untimely passing of our dearly beloved cat, Lady.  On Monday we took Lady to the vet after noticing that she had developed jaundice (yellow skin) and had lost some weight.  The vet did blood work which indicated that her liver, kidneys and pancreas were failing.  We had an x-ray and ultrasound done to try to figure out why this  would be happening, but the results were inconclusive.  We brought her home and tried to determine the best next steps, but last night her health rapidly declined.  We brought her into the Animal Hospital last night and the vet agreed that the prognosis was not good and even if we put her into the ICU for a week, she might not make it.  We made the heartbreaking decision to end her suffering.

Lady was Matt’s cat, his favorite cat that he has ever had.  She showed up at his house about 7 years ago during a blizzard and he took her in out of the snow.  He tried to find her owners but was never able to, so he adopted her.  They became good buddies.  She was a smart cat, very calm and gentle.  When she would escape outside, he would always find her just a few steps from the door, smelling the flowers.

Lady lived with us in Attleboro and sometimes had trouble getting along with the other girls, I think she wanted to be the Queen Bee, but I did catch them all hanging out in the same room once!

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She was a funny cat.  She was so chill and just wanted to hang out with the people.

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She wasn’t going to be best friends with the dogs or anything, but she did tolerate them.  Sometimes she acted more like a dog than a cat.

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She also tolerated our friend John playing her like a guitar one night when she came down into the basement bar to party with us.  She also tolerated me putting a Santa hat on her and taking pictures.

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When it came time to pack up the Attleboro house for our next chapter, she helped us pack.

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Sadly, when we were selling the Attleboro house and making the journey to Florida, we had to part out the cats to friends and family because we didn’t have a place to live yet and wouldn’t be able to have 4 cats in a hotel room.  Fortunately, Matt’s parents took care of Lady for us for 10 months until we were able to come back to MA to retrieve her.  They took amazing care of her, keeping her healthy and happy and providing her with love, and she looked beautiful when we picked her up less than two months ago.  She was a great travel companion for the two day ride home.

We were so happy to finally have our whole family back together!  We are so sad that it was so short lived.  We still don’t know why her kidneys started to fail her, and unfortunately we never will.  Not knowing is hard, as we struggle with whether we could have done anything more for her.  At this point we can only feel grateful for the time we had with her, for the joy that she gave us and that she hung on long enough to spend her last days here with us at Prickly Pear.  We only hope that as she peacefully passed on, with us by her side, she knew that she was deeply loved and will be gravely missed.  RIP Lady, “The Best Cat I’ve Ever Had” – Matt.

 

Yogurt, Chevre and Cabins, Oh My!

As I suspected, Day 1 was the worst day of milking goats and it has been getting progressively better each day.  After a couple days the refrigerator was completely filled with milk.  I don’t actually even drink milk on its own, I would never just pour myself a glass of milk, so I figured I needed to do something with all of this.  I started by making yogurt with some.  It came out much thinner than the greek yogurt we usually buy, but it tasted like yogurt! Next I began work on a Chevre.  Here it is hung up to drain.

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And here is the finished product.  I think it’s pretty dang good!

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I have plans to make Kefir and hopefully some more kinds of cheeses in the future.

On Saturday my parents came to visit.  My dad began construction on a cabin for he and my mom in the back corner of the property.  Here is where it’s at on day 4.

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While my dad has been out in the hot sun sweating buckets putting up a cabin, my mom and I have been playing with goats.

Lola has really come out of her shell and is a funny little girl.  She’s always bounding around, jumping off things, chewing on your pants, pawing at you (hoofing?) etc.  The big girls are very sweet and just want to be patted.  Lily is a little more standoffish and will hang around but isn’t too keen on being touched.

On Monday, I raked out the garden beds and threw a bunch more seeds in the ground in hopes we can get some good fall crops.  I planted Southern Cow Peas, Pole Beans, Tomatoes, Mustard Greens, Kale, Broccoli, Brussel Sprouts, Beets, Leeks, Cucumbers, and squash.

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In a couple weeks I will plant a few more cold weather crops like lettuce, turnips, collard greens and kohlrabi.  Wish me luck on this second growing season!

Struggles of an Amateur Goat Milker

Between the goats and bees and the house, we’ve been working on quite a few projects lately.  This last weekend we built a milking stand in preparation for the new goats which are currently in milk.  We were mostly able to use the leftover wood from building the goat shelter.

 

Yesterday, Joe and I went and picked up Maggie and Daisy!  Maggie is a 4-year-old purebred LaMancha goat and Daisy is her 2-year-old granddaughter! Daisy is a Mini LaMancha.  Here they are getting to know their knew home and herd-mates.

In the Bee world, we had become suspicious that ants may have played a role in our bees ditching us.  We noticed ants all over the new hives, so we came up with a plan to build a stand for the hives to get them further off the ground.

The day after the stand was built and diatomaceous earth was poured around the legs of the stand, ants again were on the hives.  Matt came up with a plan using some auto grease and milk jugs to prevent the ants from being able to climb up the legs of the stand.

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After installing the grease umbrellas, we haven’t seen any ants on the hives! Success.

This morning we milked goats which was not so successful.  I really try to focus on the positives with my blog but rest assured we have our fair share of failures and frustrations.  Our first milking this morning was not all peaches and cream.  First of all, let me say that I was already a little irritable this morning because it’s been raining here for like a week straight.  Like really raining.  We have probably gotten 6 inches of rain in the last week and I am over it!  Luckily it was only sprinkling this morning and Joe and I grabbed Maggie and Daisy and walked them to the barn.  The barn is pretty far away, but that’s where we decided the milking room needed to be because there really isn’t room anywhere else.  The barn is like light-years away when you are dragging a 150 pound animal.  We made it to the barn milking room to discover that the roof in the milking room was leaking and the brand new unopened bag of organic goat feed I had bought was sitting in a puddle.  Awesome.  We decided Maggie would go first and struggled to get her onto the milking stand, while Daisy was prancing around the room causing a ruckus, knocking over Maggie’s food.  Then the real struggle began: milking a goat.  I had bought a hand milker that works through suction but we discovered it would only work for a few pumps and then fail so we went back and forth between amateur hand milking and using the pump device.

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After an hour Maggie was pretty tired of us and we couldn’t get any more milk out. We had only gotten about half the milk that she normally produces at a milking.  Joe went to bring Maggie back to the pasture and I put Daisy up on the milking stand.  She started eating and I bent down to touch her udder and she lost her tiny goat mind.  She started kicking and flailing about, and I realized that there was no chance in hell she was going to let me milk her.  I had run out of patience by that time anyway, so I just dragged her back to the pasture so I could mentally regroup.  We went back into the house to refrigerate the 4 cups of milk we had gotten and clean all the equipment and discovered that one of the dogs had peed on the carpet.  I am fairly certain it was Stella since she refuses to go outside and pee when it’s raining and like I said, it’s been raining for a week.  Anyways, eventually I regained my composure, cut up a t-shirt to make into goat hobbles and Joe and I dragged Daisy back out to the barn and got her milked, mostly by hand because the brand new milker that I bought really wasn’t working well.  At least I am already improving at hand milking, right?  Well Day 1 of milking goats is over.  Thank GOD I only have to milk them once a day.  It can only get easier, right?  Here’s to a more successful day 2!

 

The Best Day Ever

Ok, I know what you all are thinking… wasn’t the day your best friend asked you to be his wife the best day ever?  Ok, yes, fine, that was the best day ever, but yesterday was a close second.  Why? Thanks for asking. Because yesterday we brought two little goats home to Prickly Pear!  Meet Lily and Lola!

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Lily (the brown one) and Lola (the black one) are 4-month-old mini-nubian goats.  Yesterday Joe and I left the house at 5:30am to drive to Mississippi to pick up these beautiful ladies.  Lola hunkered down for the car ride but Lily was a little more inquisitive.

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She’s a real backseat driver that one.  Anyways, we finally got the girls home and let them out into their new pasture which is completely overgrown with scrub oaks and all sorts of awesome brush that goats think are delicious.  They loved it.

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They immediately went to town eating every leaf in sight.  They also enjoyed bounding across the field following us.  It’s adorable, I am going to have to take a video of that for all of you.  Next week we will fill out our herd with two four year old goats who are in milk so we can start getting our goat milk right away.  So tune in next week for an episode of “Adventures in Milking Goats” and a bunch more adorable goat pictures!

 

 

I know what they say, money can’t buy everything…

…well, maybe so, but it could buy me a goat.  That’s how that song goes right?  Now don’t get too excited, we don’t have any goats yet, but we’re getting closer.  More on that, but first, another thing money could buy if you look hard enough on craigslist and scrounge up $50….

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…a trampoline!  Along with goats I have pretty much wanted a trampoline my entire life.  I told my nieces I would get a trampoline for when they come visit, but I am not going to pretend that this was for them.  Jumping on trampolines is awesome.

On Friday I went into Pensacola and picked up 2 nucs of bees.  It was recommended to me that I get two hives going so that if one of the hives was doing poorly or looking weak, I could use the stronger hive to help them out.  Anyways, here they are hanging out in the field.

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We will try to keep these ones happier than the last and hopefully they will stick around.  This weekend, we built a goat shelter in the pasture we fenced off for them.  It took us pretty much the whole weekend, but it’s done! And you know what that means… I can fill it with goats now!  Here are some pictures of the progress.

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and here is the finished product (minus paint).

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I think the goats will like it! We have plans to add a sort of porch as well so they can hang out outside if it’s raining or for some extra shade.

I harvested a bunch of cayenne peppers the other day as well as some parsley and strung them all up to dry.

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This week in the world of eBay we sold this cast iron pan.

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Currently up for sale we have this German Beer Stein and these sweet belt buckles.

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That’s all folks.  Here’s to hoping the next blog post includes pictures of adorable goats!