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The herd shrinks in preparation for spring growth

I can’t believe Thanksgiving is tomorrow. We’ll be heading down to see my parents, and Frankie and First will be riding along to go to their new home. With Josie off being bred in preparation for her move to Wisconsin, that takes the herd down from 12 to 9 goats. Once Sophie is a little older I’ll probably also offer her for sale, but for right now I’m interested in seeing how she looks as she grows up, so she’ll hang out for a while.

In other news, there’s not a lot of other news! Finals week is approaching at school, I’m making soap like a fiend, and Daniel is working a part-time job to help keep us all fed.

How are you, gentle reader?

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That was a close one.

We’re all fine here at the Manor post-Sandy. The goats were a little grumpy about having to spend 2 days indoors, but they got over it with the massive application of piles and piles and piles of tasty hay, and also love. Things are getting back to normal now.

The other reason I missed Monday’s posting (and queueing one up for this morning!) is that I have been busy busy busy with my splendiferous, fabulous new project.

I wasn’t going to tell y’all about it until it actually happened, but I find that I am getting way too excited to keep it to myself, so I will make you be excited with me: on November 13, I’ll be opening an Etsy shop with all kinds of home-made goodness — soaps and lotions using milk from my gracious, generous, giving goat ladies. All of the products are handmade right here at the Manor, from scratch. Daniel would probably prefer that I stop doing it in his kitchen, but y’all will have to buy a LOT of stuff to build me a soap studio, so for now he has to deal. The shop name “Mixed Blessings” was taken, so if you would like soaps and lotions made using milk from happy goats, you’ll be buying from the Holy Goats Emporium, shop name Holy Goats.

I didn’t start out to be sacrilegious, but then I realized that the phrase “Chickens, dogs, and holy goats” has exactly the same rhythm as “Father, Son, and Holy Ghost” and I was sold. I dropped the first two, though, since neither chickens nor dogs are involved in the lotions and soaps.

There won’t be a terribly large range at first, but I’m looking to expand as I find out what sells, and of course there will be a discount code for the grand opening just for you who are my faithful blog readers (Hi Dad!).

I jest, I know for a fact that there’s more than my Dad out there reading. What’s hilarious is that the Best Mother Ever is not, in fact, a regular reader, and thus gets all her blog news from my Dad if I don’t remember to call her and tell her first.

So there you go, gentle readers. We survived the storm and now you know what’s been keeping me hopping like a frog on a hot griddle, besides trying to compare the bets credit for bet365, I just love gambling way too much. If you love it like me then take a look at these casino websites https://www.boomtownbingo.com/paypal-slots. There‚Äôs over 500 slot games to be precise including 5 reels, instant win scratch cards, live blackjack tables, and traditional casino games. Well, you can visit all these online casino slots uk. While browsing the net, I’ve read this article from online-casinos-canada.ca which is about OSC settles with former Aston Hill employee over insider tipping and trading allegations. The case includes illicit activities in the Canadian gaming and online gambling company, Amaya Inc. With that, Rothstein the former Aston Hill Financial sales manager will have to serve a two-year ban on trading and will have to pay $11,000.

How are you?

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A non-goat post!

I know, I know, a shocker! We’re nearly caught up on goats but I thought y’all might like a break. Besides, there are critters other than goats running around here, after all!

And recently we’ve discovered that we’ve been spending way too much money on dog toys. On a whim, we gave Zille an empty 2L soda with the cap on. She loved it and had a great time with it and finally crushed it into a flat mangled thing sort of reminiscent of modern sculpture, so we gave her another one. Only this time, we filled it with water first.

Gentle readers, I do wish I’d gotten video. She had the best time with that thing, and her favorite thing to do was to grab it with her front paws and shove it backwards, sending it shooting through her back legs so she could spin around, growling fiercely, and do it all over again. She did that for hours. She finally punctured it after a day or so and crushed it into the same mess as her first bottle, so we gave her another one. That one didn’t last quite so long, but she has to wait for me to finish this bottle of ginger ale before she gets another one.

As each bottle becomes a crushed and no-longer-fun mess of chewed plastic, she takes them over to a spot she’s designated for piles of things that are no longer any fun and leaves them there. At least she’s being neat about it, right?

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Where to even begin…

Let’s see. Since I last updated:

1) Esk had her baby, Mixed Blessings Sophia (Sophie to her friends). Unlike the previous two does, who chose to make me stay up all night with them, Esk didn’t even let me know she was in labor. We went out for evening goat check one tuesday night and bam, baby goat.

2) Josie and First didn’t work out at their new home, so they’re back at the Manor for the moment. Once I get some good pics of them, they’ll go back on the For Sale page.

3) Frankie Four Feet has a home, he’ll be going to Roanoke once he’s old enough to be weaned. So he needs to come off the for sale page.

4) I am having a horrible time keeping up with a full time class load and suspect I’m going to have to just cave and drop two classes.

5) Great things are in the works! Which is part of why I’ve been busy as hell. But look for a site redesign coming soon, along with my new project which is mysterious and fabulous and other things ending in ous!

Oh, and I got an update from Crispin and Clementine’s people, so I’m queueing up a picture of them which will brighten your entire day.

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In love with dirt, or: Becoming the Fungus Fairy

One of the amazing things about my life is the amazing people in it. Today I got a package of fungus spores from Bountiful Gardens (along with some seeds I had also ordered). These two things are intimately connected.

My friend Gowan, you see, is a Horticultural Oracle, and a great gift she has given me is to share her love of dirt.

Most of us don’t think to much about the dirt, really. It’s there, the plants grow in it and we walk on it, and some things burrow through it, but mostly we fail to appreciate that dirt is not a dead and inert mass of decayed organic matter and pulverized rock and whatever minerals are leached out of the rain. It’s a ginormous organism, teeming with life. Macro organisms like earthworms are there, sure, but also micro-organisms, bacteria and fungi, that work together with plants to make plants healthier and more efficient at extracting nutrients from soil and putting nutrients into soil. Beneath our feet are entire worlds.

Conventional farming kills these tiny, complex worlds. The plowing and harrowing and tilling break up the delicate networks of micorrhizae, expose tender bacteria to ultraviolet light from the sun and the drying air above ground. We plant our crops in soil impoverished by the death and destruction of the soil organisms, and as a result end up having to drench them in chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

So here I am with a back acre that was denuded of topsoil a decade or two ago by a rapacious former owner, goats and chickens to feed, and the excellent guidance of a Horticultural Oracle to lead me on my way. In hand I have packets of seeds — legumes, vetches, grasses — and packets of soil organisms. Also, I have a steady and reliable supply of chicken and goat manure, along with their used bedding, which is working on becoming compost (with help from the chickens themselves). But it would take a lot more compost than I’ve got to get the back acre turned from a desolate wasteland of thorny brush and invasive trash pines into good forage for the critters, hence the seeds and spores.

The goats have done a magnificent job of clearing away what dead growth there was and pruning back the pine trees until the plants that are there could get some sunshine. The chickens did some loosening of the soil surface but not enough, so I cheated and got my neighbor to run over the naked bits with his tiller just this once, so that my seeds and spores wouldn’t just slide off the compacted surface of the clay at the first rain. The chickens, helpfully, have been going over the tilled areas and breaking the big clumps of soil up, and also pooping and then tilling that into the soil for me, so there’s little pockets of plant nutrition here and there.

After this Saturday, the poor chickens will lose their liberty for a while. Hopefully I will sell off all the spare bantams, and then the chickens will be confined to quarters so that I can go traipsing through the tilled bits of the back acre, scattering seeds and spores and water without being followed by mob of ravenous feathery beasts intent on snarfing down my precious seeds. After that, it’s up to the seeds, the spores, and the good Lord’s inclination to give me lots of sunshine but just enough rain to germinate the little buggers. By springtime, it is entirely possible that the blighted back acre will be well on its way to an accelerated recovery of topsoil, helped along by the application of extra compost when available and deposits of used goat bedding and fallen leaves from the oak trees. With grace, the dead areas will turn green with clover and vetch and grasses and brassicas, and once the plant life is mature enough that it’s no longer primarily water, the goats and chickens will be turned loose to devour and turn the greenery into more compost, which will decay there on the dirt and provide food for yet more plants.

Some day, I may even be able to look back at that acre and see a pasture of amazing rich forage with nearly entirely recovered soil, and I won’t need to monitor it as religiously for a need for another application of seed or spores. All because Gowan shared with me a love of dirt.

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Holding Pattern

The school semester has started up, which means I have added a full-time class load to the goats and chickens and dogs and cats. This time around at least I’m not trying to also juggle working full time. My whole goal for this semester is to get through it without the kind of life-changing upheaval that had me giving up entirely on Math last time, as the news I was about to lose my job hit at the same time as math class hit statistics, a branch of math that I’ve never learned before. Didn’t learn it that time, either, I must admit.

Anyway, once this semester and a computer competency test are out of the way, I’ll have my associate’s degree and have to pick a real major and decide what I want to be when I grow up. I’m trying not to think about it as it’s kind of stressful and I’ve got enough going on.

Meanwhile, Annabelle is due to give birth any minute now. We’re just waiting on her tail ligaments to soften to declare that she’s about to have babies; as some of you may recall Josie taunted me like this for nearly a month. At least this time I know when Annabelle was bred so I have a definite date range. Esk is due right after her, so this fall will see a crop of bouncing baby goats. Tiny ones. I predict amazing amounts of cuteness.

The barn I ordered will get here sometime in the next couple weeks. I’m sincerely hoping it gets here before Annabelle gives birth, because it will make the whole labor and delivery thing way easier, but I’m not holding my breath. Knowing goats, Annabelle will have her babies some weekday morning at 0300, and at 0800 the barn place will call me and offer to deliver the barn. This is how the world works when goats are involved.

To try and keep myself sane I’ve been making sure I take time every morning to sit with the goats and enjoy their company. It’s pretty peaceful out there. You can see pics from my Morning Breakfast Meetings with Goats at my Flickr account or, if you’re on Instagram, you can find me as mixedblessings (of course).

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The beat goes on

Ah, a four-day gap. That’s more like me.

Most of it, of course, is that nothing particularly exciting has happened here. I mean, I did find a saddle-blanket seat cover for the front seat of the Big Blue Beast, and get it all registered and titled and stuff so it’s street legal and now I’m having to resist the urge to drive it EVERYWHERE including to places that, let us face it, do not have parking spots designed for an F350 crew cab dually.

Also I keep trolling the free stuff section of Craigslist, looking for some enormously tacky piece of yard art. Preferably a big one. That I can put in my truck and bring home. My deep and deeply weird love of tacky items is a source of great mistification to my husband on occasion. It’s also sometimes a source of mortification for him, like when we were at Stonehenge and I bought a little plastic model of the place.

Oh and predictably, as soon as I said “dang, I’m going to have to dry May off” her abscess started shrinking. I think it was because she was horrified by the prospect of losing her snack of sweet feed twice a day when she gets milked. Goats, who can figure them.

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Blogging two days in a row?!

I know, it’s like hell has frozen over or something.

Today, I get to go pick up Ambrosia! I am excited, especially since May managed to give herself an abscess biting the inside of her cheek and it didn’t respond to antibiotics, which means I am going to have to call the vet out to drain it. She’ll be under enough stress without having to produce tons of delicious milk, so I’ll be drying her off earlier than intended. Luckily Ambrosia is already in milk, so we will not be forced to go back to buying cow milk from the grocery store. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with cow milk, just that when you’re used to drinking raw milk with about twice the butterfat content of whole pasteurized/homogenized cow milk from the store, well, the store milk tastes kind of bland.

Actually it tastes like slimy water.

Ahem.

In other news, because I know I have tea drinkers out there reading and because I like to ruin your budget by presenting you with the coolest stuff I can find, let me point you to my friend Summer’s tea sale. You should probably also be reading her blog, because holy crap does that lady do some amazing things with food that is gluten-free and tailored for a range of other food allergies. I wish she lived next door, because I’d totally be providing her with milk and eggs and veggies if she would just, y’know, share her leftovers. At any rate, check out her teas!

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News Round Up

I know, lazy blogger again. I blame the weather, which has been storming a lot, which always ups my pain levels.

Anyway.

Josie and First (now Fiona) have gone off to a new home! I struggled over whether to sell Josie as she is a sweetheart with people, but the fact remains that she’s aggressive with smaller goats, and with Annabelle and Esk due to give birth in September I’m about to have a large passle of small goats around. So anyway, a friend of a friend was looking for goats, and thus off Josie went with Fiona in tow.

Speaking of Annabelle, she is HUGE. Given the changes to her back end, I’m not expecting her to go far past her earliest due date of August 26th. Tiny goats ahoy! Esk may be up to a month later, she’s not showing the same signs of impending goatlings but lagging behind her sister. I’m OK with that.

I have an actual two-stall barn being delivered at some point in the next month. Yee haw! I am kind of hoping it gets here before Annabelle gives birth, because it would make life ever so much easier. At any rate, one 10′ x 10′ stall will be the Goat Ladies’ Boudoir, the other will be for milking, kidding, and feed storage. There may be a Barn Painting Party involved for which I may need to get some overhead monorail conveyors. Mostly because I am kind of inclined to throw a party.

Soon I’ll be bringing home a new doe from Pun Kids Farm, Love-R-Goats Ambrosia (scroll down on this page to see her). She’s a lovely La Mancha doe who will provide me with a full-size milker to back May up. I was over at Pun Kids a couple weeks ago to learn how to give a goat a show clip, and Ambrosia relentlessly sucked up to me — nibbling delicately at my fingers, asking for love, and otherwise being utterly charming. Who was I to say no when I heard she was for sale? We were already in love! Anyway, I am excited to add such a lovely doe, and looking forward to feeding her cookies for years to come.

I also managed to convince Pun Kids to take the bearded silkies, since we’re re-organizing the flock to be more self-sufficient and let us face it, while bearded silkies are totally adorable floof balls, they are not exactly what you want for a flock that free-ranges to keep the bugs down. To be honest, I seriously need to cut down the number of bantams in general, which means getting pics of the actual pairs for sale (we have several pairs of bantam Sumatras along with Old English Game Bantams!) and updating the For Sale page now that the bearded silkies and the goats are off it.

School starts in 3 weeks, my last semester at the local community college to finish up my general education requirements, and then I need to figure out what the hell I’m doing in terms of a bachelor’s degree. I have no idea. On the other hand, I came up to BrooksfieldSchool.org site the other day, and I think I figured where my kids are going to assist next year.

I have a big blue truck. I am in love with it. Daniel keeps having to stop me from finding random things to throw in the bed and haul around. Look!
An enormous dark blue pick up truck with a full-size, four-door cab and an 8 foot long bed.  IT HAS LIGHTS ON TOP YOU GUYS. Also it is approximately twice as long as either Honda CRV which was previously the biggest thing I've driven.
It has a diesel engine so it actually gets 22mpg which is not bad for a freakin ginormous truck. It can haul a LITERAL TON OF STUFF in the bed. Like, I can put 2,000 pounds of ANYTHING in there. ANYTHING I WANT.

Ahem. So there’s my life lately — how are you?