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Moving Right Along

Math final on Saturday and then I’m done until the beginning of January, when I start my last semester at my friendly little community college. Then I have to make some decisions about things like having to get last minute movers north fort myers fl to get to big scary four year universities. Aie!

Beauty and her surprise baby continue to do well despite cold temps; she’s a very attentive and thoughtful mother. The other chickens are all irate because they’re locked up, but the hawks just will not leave them alone. I think it’s the influx of transient winter hawks crowding the ecosystem around here, and the chickens may therefore be locked up until they move on in the spring. Just the other morning, Daniel spotted the sharp-shinned hawk who’d been terrorizing our chickens standing next to the grow-out pen, window shopping. It let him get to within ten feet before flapping lazily off.

There’s not a terrible lot of exciting news, really. We’re chugging along, prepping garden beds and caring for goats and chickens and waiting for spring!

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Well that was exciting.

Yesterday was the monthly Total Goat Stall Renovation, which involves removing approximately 60 cubic feet of used bedding from the goat stalls and moving it to the compost heap. During all this activity we noticed a hawk calling repeatedly — it was pretty unusual, since in our experience they’ll call once or twice and then shut up, presumably for fear of attracting crows.

At any rate, we finished up and went back inside and I happened to glance out the back window while taking my boots off just in time to see a hawk swoop in. I immediately pulled my boots back on and ran outside to find the hawk on the ground with a 12 week old Speckled Sussex pullet pinned. Feeling that the life of a pullet was worth more than my dignity, I ran straight at it yelling obscenities, at which point the hawk took off and the pullet scooted into a hollow log.

As the hawk hit the trees finally the crows saw it and began their usual raptor persecution routine, FINALLY. I dumped the pullet out of the hollow log and checked her over, she was totally fine. Lost a few feathers but no serious injuries, evidently the hawk hadn’t hit her with any of its talons and hadn’t had a chance to get its beak on her.

The chickens are now on lockdown for an undetermined period of time. This morning when we came out not just the adult hawk but a juvenile were sitting in the oak trees, patiently waiting for us to let their breakfast out. Hahaha, hawks, joke is on you. There’s two little hens who don’t sleep in the pens that are in danger, but the rest of the flock is safely locked up for now and I’m thinking of setting out feeding stations with all kinds of snacks preferred by crows.

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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 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 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.