Friday, February 24, 2012


Okay, I confess.  The reason I farm is to make sure I spend enough time outside because I believe that is the most loving thing I can do for myself.  It's also the way I can give myself enough time away from modern technology and modern distractions.  Being outside in nature is an immersion in the peacefulness of current, local reality.

I confess that I am excited about learning in so many topic areas that I can easily get stuck in front of a computer or reading books for more hours than is balanced.  Between barn chores to get me outside and all the gardens that surround the house it is hard to get back inside once I leave the house.  Each morning during winter I head out and do morning chores and then I laze around with the goats and dogs in the pasture.  There's always something to explore, someone who wants to be scratched or rubbed.  I finally drag myself away because I have desk work to do and flower essence orders to pack.  During the summer  it's similar but there is the added attraction of gardens to commune with.

How would I live if I didn't have to run a business?  I'd probably rarely go back inside.  I'm pretty good at going without much food from years of farming as a young mother with not enough hours in the day.  A handful of nuts in a pocket and I'm good for the hours!  I can pretty easily fall into the herd schedule of lazing around in the sun with a few forays into different parts of the pasture.

There is at least one other reason I farm.  I really like to eat good food.  Well, let me amend that.  I actually end up spending more time growing good food than eating it but I like to make food happen!  Fruit, nuts, vegetables, herbs, edible's all exciting to me!  The only way I know to make sure I eat quality food is to know where it came from and how it was grown.  That's pretty hard at a supermarket.  When I was 19 and growing most of my food someone expressed that it must be difficult to do that.  My reply was that it seemed a lot easier than to have such a huge disconnect between me and the food I put into my body.  Most of the food I ate was part of my life from seed onwards at that time and in those days not much distraction from the rest of the world to dilute my relationship with my food crops.

This year I'm working on finding balance in my schedule.  I seek to create days with less information distraction from the greater world and more information from the extremely local world.  I'll keep you posted!

Here's a photo of one of my close neighbors, also focused on an extremely local world.
Photo note: I took this photo several years ago.  She/he is about the size of an almond.  I spent hours watching the 10 that hatched in one of the water lily ponds here.

Monday, February 20, 2012

February's Golden Sun

Finally remembered to take a camera up to the barn.  It was below freezing but I figured I could get a few photos before the camera shut down.

Today some notes on a few little things that have worked out well in our barn.

First of all, I love how much sun comes in.  The goat side is on the west and the light streams into their stalls and their run in area.
Here's the stall.  Notice the black rubber bumpy itching panels.  They still haven't really gotten the hang of them.  Notice Vera watching in the doorway keeping an eye on the does.  Do you think she's counting to make sure everyone is in?

Here's the other end of the same stall.

Here's the doe stall for when I separate the milkers from their kids overnight.  They can still see each other and often sleep near each other on opposite sides of the wire panel.

There's a goat and dog sized door into the run-in area.  Here's Stella peeking out.  She's due April 4 but it's her fist pregnancy and she's not big yet.  I hope she only has 1 or 2.

The run-in area is nice and large.  The does have half of it and the ewes have the other half.  I put a platform in the goat side and my brother built a dog house.

I chose the size of the doghouse to be big enough for both to fit in but small enough that they could build up some heat in there.  The opening faces the exit in case they need to leave and do livestock guardian duties quickly. The siting of the doghouse also provides a windbreak against west winds, something the goats appreciate.  They like to lounge on top of it in the afternoon sun when it's not windy.

Then there are those goat housekeeping problems....

So after a couple of years of grabbing a handful of waste hay to sweep off the goat "berries" I decided that maybe what I really needed was a windshield brush since it would do double duty; sweep off berries and the scraper could be used when they'd been stepped on and smooshed onto the surface!  It hangs nearby on a bit of framing.

Another idea I had was the piece of scrap 2X6 that I lay along the top of one of the hay mangers on the center aisle side of the stall.  It allowed me to balance feed bowls, flakes of hay and buckets of water up there so I didn't have to be holding stuff when sidling through the gates.  While that worked well the board did get in the way of filling the manger it was on so I had to move it and sometimes it would fall off into the aisle.  I decided it should be hinged so that it could be flipped up when the manger needed filling and down when I needed to balance stuff on it.  Feed pans and water bucket on it waiting to be taken away when I leave the stall.
Here it is flipped up for manger filling.

You  may notice that the goats are pretty pudgy.  (They only get 1/4 cup of grain so they are not being overfed, honest!)  Between all their fur and their full rumens they rather look like ottomans with heads and tails.  Because of this I've been considering myself to be royalty; Queen of the Ottoman Empire!

Here is the ewe stall.  They are expecting dinner.....

Chores are done and Vera is on watch duty.  Fergey is probably patrolling the perimeter already.