Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Big News, Part II: Continued Discussion With a Goat

Well Lucky Nickel, it's time to tell the blog people about more of our news!  
     Oh!  Can I type it this time?
No, you have dirty hooves and last time you made the computer keyboard all muddy.
     Hmpffff.  I was decorating the keyboard for your computing enjoyment.  
Today we will add some pictures of you, since you are such a pretty goat.  Would you like that?
     Yes!  The ones you took in the barn?  Today?  
Absolutely.  I have downloaded them and you look as lovely as ever.  Let's start with this one, because when I came out the back door, you came running over like a high speed train, complete with whistles.
     I was very excited.  You don't usually come out in the middle of the afternoon.  I thought you were bringing me treats or presents.  Even Esmeralda was following me, you see?
     We came right over to you...
     ...and I had to taste your buttons on your sweater, just to see if they were treats in disguise.
I wasn't bringing treats, but I was coming to chat with you, and give you scritches, so that was good, wasn't it?
     Yes.  Although treats would have been good too.
So tell the blog people why we are going to Canada, and what we are going to do there!
     Wait...let's show them some goat snuzzle pictures first.
Well, let's tell them in between goat snuzzle pictures.  OK?
     OK, well, we are going to Can of Duck, errr....I mean, Canada....(picture please)
     .....because we are going to WHINE!   Oooh, look at my curly fybur!
We are NOT going to whine.  We are not whiners.  We are going to MAKE wine.  There is a big difference. You are such a silly goat!  Did Coffee the mini-Nubian tell you that we are whining?
     Oh.  She might have.  I thought I was going to be good at it,, because I whine sometimes.
Well you are going to be a very special part of it.  You will be a wine spokesgoat.  
     I will?!?!  It sounds very important!
I know!  I'm very excited about your new responsibilities.  You will even greet people who come to see the winery!  Won't that be fun?!
That's you trying to lick my eyebrows.  You always do that Lucky Nickel.  You are a funny little goat.
      Your eyebrows taste good.  
So tell the blog people what kind of wine we will be making!
      Oooooh yes, we are going to make Bumblebee wine!  
Good really do get mixed up sometimes.  It's not bumblebee wine!  It's BLUEBERRY wine!
     Well, I was close.  It starts with a B.
You do make me laugh, Lucky Nickel.  What would I do without you to make me laugh?
    You would be very bored.  
Yes.  But I will not be bored at our new home.  I will just tell the blog people in a little bit more detail, OK?
    OK, they can look at my pretty fybur some more while you tell them.
The full story is that I'm in the process of buying a 66 acre mixed blueberry/grazing land farm.  The farm has a house on it that was built in about 1850, and is wonderfully eclectic but fully updated.  It has interesting room layouts and lots of interesting storage spaces.  An addition to the house contains a commercial area with public wheelchair-access restrooms and a small retail area, in which I will be selling my wool as well as the wine.  Underneath the addition is a 55 foot long wine cellar and production center with 8 vats for aging the wine, a laboratory for testing pH, sugar, etc, and bottling and labeling facilities.  The winery has been in business for over 20 years and has existing contracts, so I'm taking over an established business.  At the same time, I'll be using some of the grazing land to have sheep and/or goats as time goes by.  All in all, a very exciting development!
     OK Mom, are you finished with your monologue?
I had to give some details Lucky Nickel!  People might want to know!
     They might also want to know that Esmeralda and I like to lick your hand together.  Isn't that funny?!
Yes, indeed it is.  I suppose my hand is salty or something?  I don't mind as long as neither of you takes a bite!
    No, we don't bite you!  That would be biting the hand that feeds us!  We like you too much for that!
Good!  Otherwise you wouldn't get fed!
     Can I give the blog people a goat-snuzzle?
Of course you can!  Here, let's show them a nice snuzzle pose so they can feel the goatie love.

I think that's enough news for today.  What do you think?
    Yes, can I come in the house now?
No Lucky Nickel, you know that you live in the barn.
     But, I've been really good!   Hmpffff.  Fine.  I'll show you my bum.
     And then I will run, run, run....
   ....all the way back to the barn.  See me go?  Byeeeee!


Friday, January 28, 2011

The Big News, Part I: In the Form of a Discussion With a Goat

Lucky Nickel, today we need to talk to the people who read the blog.
     We do?  I like talking to the blog people.  Sometimes they talk back to me.  What are we going to talk about?
Today, we are going to talk about the very BIG exciting news. 
     What?  I thought we weren't allowed to talk about that until February 18th!  You said...!
I know, I know I said.  But, something happened, and I had to talk about it sooner than I expected to.  I had to tell all the people at my work, and that was why we couldn't talk about it before.  It was a BIG secret.  Now, the people at my work know about it, so we can talk about it.  Isn't that exciting?
     Well, maybe.  Sort of.  I think it's a bit scary.  I don't think I want to talk about it.  Maybe if we don't talk about it, then it won't happen, and everything will just stay the same.
No, that's not going to happen.  If you don't want to talk about it, then I will just tell the blog people about it by myself.  Is that what you want me to do?  
     No.  But...Maaa-aaaaa---aaaa----aaaaaaaaa!!!
Do you want to tell them, Lucky Nickel?  
     Sigh.  OK.  I just...I think I need to practice.  Wait....wait....why aren't you taking any pictures?  
Well, because today the news is more important than the pictures.  We don't want to distract the blog people with pretty pictures, because we want them to pay attention to the news, and if you don't tell them in the next few seconds, I shall have to do it myself!!
    Maaaa!  Maa--aaa---aa!  (deep goat breath)  OK.  Here is the news everybody.  We are....we...(more deep goat breaths)....OK.....let me start over.  Soon, we are...that is my lady and I, are....well, actually, it's more than that, because it's my lady and I, and the 2 fluffy frogs, and....
Wait...what?  Frogs?  What are you talking about?
     Those two brown fluffy ribbet things, they're frogs.  
Oh!  No, no, no....Lucky Nickel, those are RABBITS!  Not frogs!    
     Well, Coffee told me...
Don't listen to Coffee, she's half Nubian.  And we all know what they say about Nubian goats.  Could you please continue properly with the announcement now?
     OK.  Maaa.  Maa-aa---aaaa.  I'm just clearing my throat.  Maaaa-aaa-aaaa.  Right.  Well, so my lady, and I, and the two fluffy rabbits, and the barn cat (Esmeralda) and Kenzie the that everybody...?
Yes, that's everybody, keep going....
     So everybody I just said...we! 
I'm not sure that they heard you, Lucky Nickel.  You said that very softly.
     WE ARE MOVING!  Maaa-aaa-aaaaaaaaa!
Are you going to tell them where we are moving to?
     Um....oh dear....I've forgotten...wait...wait...let me think.....maple.  No....not maple, something like that...ummm...OH!  We are moving to Can of Duck!  
Can of duck?
     Yes!  Right?  Why are you looking at me like that?
Lucky Nickel, it is not Can of duck.  It's Canada.
     Well, that's what I said.  Kind of.  I was close.  They knew what I meant!
OK, so that is the big news.  We are moving home to Canada.  Well, it's my home.  You were not born there so it's not your home, yet, but it will be soon.  I have been here in Iowa for nearly 9 years now!  That is a long time, isn't it!  
     Yes, it do we have to go anywhere else?
Well, are you going to tell them why we are moving there, and what we are going to do?
     I....well....I think I'm tired now.  This is a bit stressful for me.  I think I need a rest.  Can we tell them more in the next blog post?
Well, alright then.  I guess we can do that.  But we can't make them wait too long.  
     No, we'll do it on the weekend.  I just, well, it makes me nervous, maaaa!
It's going to be fine, Lucky Nickel, it's going to be simply wonderful.  You'll see!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Diapers for goat kids and lambs

Mimi Foxmorton, more officially known as The Goat Borrower, asked about diapers in her comment on the last post that my lady did here on the blog.  I knew, when I saw that question, that it was my duty as a former house-goat to respond to Mimi's question, since I am so experienced in this matter.  Without further ado, I shall present to you the truth about diapers and house-goats (also house-sheep).  This picture below is Marshmallow on her second day of life, already showing her ability to wear a diaper and still look indignant.
The answer to whether they work is a resounding yes, at least from the human point of view.  As some of you who may have had experiences with bottle baby animals know, sometimes bottle milk makes us have a little bit of an unsettled digestive system early in life.  Sometimes we can even be that way on our Mum's milk.  So the fact is, we may have...well...sticky-poo.  From the human standpoint, sticky-poo is bad.  It is especially bad on carpets.  Thus, the humans feel that the diaper "does the trick" in helping with the potential mess. Usually the mess is only for a couple of weeks and then it gets much easier.  In the meantime, you can allow your little one access to carpeted areas.
Even under your desk!
My lady says that girls are easier than boys.  She says all the "equipment" is at the back end on girls, but on boys, the diaper will work for sticky-poo, but may not reach along under their belly far enough to catch their water spigot, so to speak.  She says boys sometimes need a second diaper in the form of a "belly band" that will manage their spigot.  Dear me, this is very complicated!  This is me on my first day in the house in my diaper.  At that point, I was not all that skilled at walking yet.  You can see the iodine stain from where my umbrella cord was dipped.  The umbrella cord kept me attached to my mom when I was inside her.  All babies have an umbrella cord and then later, they have a belly button.
In any case, my lady says that the other aspect to be considered is the cutting of the tail hole.  She says if your bottle baby has quite serious sticky-poo, it might be better not to cut a tail hole, because there could be some escaping of stickiness around the hole.  She says if your bottle baby has moved on to the more solid phase, the tail hole is ideal.  Here is Marshmallow at about 6 weeks of age or so.  She was much bigger and still a good diaper candidate.
Here I am when I was a little older, exploring the office desk.  See how nicely the diaper stays on?!

My lady and I have developed the following easy 5-step program to diapering your goat kid or lamb.

  • one goat kid or lamb needing to be diapered
  • one diaper (size depends on size of kid or lamb, I have used newborn through size 5)
  • baby wipes (for goat/kid as well as walls, counters, sink, etc)
  • clean and dry towel, hand towel size is best
  • time (Do not try to do this in a rush, it will backfire.  Trust us on this)
  • bathroom, preferably with lidded diaper pail handy
  • old apron of some sort
  • patience (love your kid/lamb, they may get squiggly)

1.  Approach your subject calmly and pick them up.  They will start to notice if you do the changing at the same time every day.  My lady says I began to wail as soon as she picked me up at diaper changing time, but not at other times.  She said I could also tell as soon as we headed to the human bathroom.  At this point, holding an otherwise calm and well-behaved kid or lamb may become the equivalent of holding a greased piglet.  Be firm.  My lady recommends wearing an old kitchen apron for this procedure.

2.  Human should sit on toilet (put lid down first, of course!) and put subject across their knees with the front legs on the right and the rear legs on the left.  This might be different if you're left handed, she said.  She isn't sure because she isn't left handed.  Undo tabs of previous diaper and remove carefully.  It is liable that the subject will begin wildly waving their tail at this point, causing the possible flinging of sticky-poo in multiple directions.  See point 1 regarding apron.  Also keep baby wipes handy (for the walls).  If your baby is not in sticky-poo stage, this step is much easier to manage.  Dispose of diaper and wipes.

3.  Lift subject under belly, putting their back towards your chest.  This puts back legs forward.  Grasp back legs with your left hand while resting tail/upper back area of subject on the edge of sink.  Keep firm grip on back legs (around ankle area) with the left hand while resting subject's back against your chest, and also using your right hand to gently clean subject's nether regions.  Expect loud wailing and carrying on by your subject at this point.  Do not make the water too hot or too cold.  Comfortable temperature is a must.  If necessary, use a mild shampoo for cleaning.  Ear plugs may be required at this stage if your subject is as vocal as I was when I was a goat kid.  My lady says that this, at first, will seem awkward and difficult.  It gets easier, she said, with repetition.  At all times while doing the cleaning part, make soft little cooing noises to your subject and assure them that their life is not in jeopardy.

4.  Following the cleaning part, grab clean towel and lift subject out of sink area, putting towel under bottom.  Re-seat yourself on the toilet (lid is still closed, of course) and put the subject back over your legs.  Finish drying subject and make a big fuss of them while they are on your lap.  Have clean diaper ready, with tail hole cut, or not, depending on sticky-poo status.  Spread out the side of the diaper with the tabs attached and lay it under subject's back end so that the tabs stick out on either side of subject.  Snug the other end of the diaper up over the back of subject.  Attach tabs FIRMLY despite any further squiggling of subject.  Subjects can be quite adept at flinging diapers hither and yon, if you do not attach them FIRMLY.  The diapers of modern manufacture have stretchy sides and accommodate fairly tight adjustment of the tabs without causing discomfort to the subject animal.

5.  Make enormous fuss of subject following new diaper placement.  Give treats or bottle.  More fuss.  Love them and hug them and play on the floor with them.  Be mindful of flingers, in which case you will have to repeat step 4 and 5.  Then go clean bathroom and sink.  Once you have this down to a routine, it is not that bad.  After the first few days, my lady was able to diaper me first in the morning, feed me, go feed the other animals, do her morning routine, change me again just before putting work clothes on, then come home by 5 pm and do a change, feeding, and then another change at about 10 pm.  I didn't mind except for the washing step, and that was only bad when I had sticky-poo.  After that got better (about 2 weeks) it was much less traumatic.

My lady would like to point out that since she doesn't have any children, she feels a strange compulsion every time she buys diapers or baby wipes, to inform the grocery store clerk  that these purchases are for her goat/lamb and not for a baby.  This has led to many interesting conversations and is an optional step in the process.  The first time she bought diapers, she bought size newborn, size 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, all at once, because she had no idea what would be needed.  As it turned out, they were all needed, over time, but the clerks have a tendency to give you the hairy eyeball when you buy 6 different sizes of diapers all at once.

The following picture is the very best reason why you should diaper your goat kid or lamb...snuggle time!!
And if you are REALLY lucky, you might get to snuggle in the bed!
Let us know if you have questions!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Catching up...

Well, I have been quite remiss with blogging.  It seems that there is always something else going on and I just don't find the time to take pictures and do the writing needed.  Today, I thought I'd try to catch up a bit and say what I've been doing that is keeping me busy, rather than keeping me blogging.  In fact, catching up seems to be what I've been doing lately.  After my Christmas holidays, I had a lot to catch up on at work after being away for 2 weeks.  I had a lot of laundry to catch up on too.  I have had some fairly significant snow clearing work to do also!  I've been trying to keep the house looking nice since it's on the real estate market, but it seems sort of pointless since there isn't anybody looking at it.  Admittedly, it's a bad time of year to be selling.

Of course, I've been spending time cuddling Lucky Nickel.  She has taken to entering the other goats' pen by deftly climbing the fence, hanging out with the other goats all day, and then when she sees me come home, she flies back over the fence and follows me like an ever-faithful dog.  Fortunately, none of the other goats seem to be intent on learning her methods, so they all stay where they are.  One really cold night about a week ago, Lucky Nickel was insistently bleating at the back door.  I finally gave in....I think I was having a weak moment.  An old pair of gym shorts provided an excellent "holder-in-place" for a diaper, since Miss Nickel is too large to fit diapers any more.  She enjoyed her foray into the house where she grew up, and I enjoyed her company for a while.  I did put her back in the barn at the end of the evening though.
Today I did some dyeing of roving, most of which will end up in my Etsy shop in the coming days, when it has fully dried out.  I always enjoy the creative side of dyeing wool, and today was no exception.
I've also been doing quite a bit of spinning.  When the snow is flying and it's cold outside, spinning is a lovely warm and cozy thing to do.  If I want to, I can put a blanket on my lap and spin at the same time.  Very cozy and comfortable.  Many of my yarns have also been listed in my Etsy shop lately, so you can check them out there too!  Here are some of the ones I've spun lately.
Other than that....well....I think I've just been  hibernating.  I should have been a bear.  Something about January just seems to sap the energy out of me and make me want to snuggle under a blanket and read a good book and pretend that the white stuff outside doesn't exist.  Here's hoping you've all been keeping warm this January, unless you live down under, in which case I hope you're keeping dry.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

My lady went to see Isobelle! WITHOUT ME!!!

Well, she finally showed up!  I was beginning to wonder.  On December 17, my lady said she was going on a holiday to see her family and celebrate Yule and such.  I did question her sanity at the time.  I mean, how would she manage, by herself, goatless, for any length of time?  Still, she made up her mind, and once my lady makes up her mind...well...there's not much that can be done to change it!

So over the past couple of weeks, I've begun to worry quite a bit.  She'd never been away for that long before.  Where was she?  Did she get caught in a stampede of angry water buffalo?  Did she get abducted by aliens?  Doesn't she love me any more?!?!  To be honest, despite the farm helper, it was pretty boring around here, and I was beginning to get quite desperate.

Fortunately, she came home today.  What a tremendous relief!
I was so happy that I jumped all over her and waggled my tail a lot and bounced up and down the way I did when I was a little goat kid.  She laughed and hugged me and laughed some more, and her eyes got a bit twinkly and wet and I thought she might cry but she maintained her composure.  So I snuggled down for a good cud chewing on her lap, and then I smelled it....GOAT!  I looked up at her...she knew that I knew....
Are you ready for this?  My lady....she had the AUDACITY to go and visit MY friend Isobelle Golightly, the beautiful goat.  And she went WITHOUT ME!!!  Yes, dear readers, she broke the cardinal rule of goat ownership:  Thou shalt not visit other goat farms without thine own special goat.  She tried to insist that it was a matter of being "on the way home" from visiting her family, and that she would have taken me if she could.  I have my doubts.  I think she went there so that she would get all the attention for herself, because she knew that if I went with her, naturally I would (exclusively) command the attention of the other goats.

Well, you can go and see the pictures of her for yourself, at Isobelle's blog!  Just look at her, gallivanting about with other goats, and those other things...umm...sort of like donkeys....but not quite.  I think she said they are called Eeek-wines.  Now, I can see why they would be Eeek-wines, because one of them is quite large, and would surely make me say "Eeek!" if he came up to me.  Here you can see the large Eeek-wine chewing on my lady's mitten!  I think he was trying to eat her!
She said that there were also miniature Eeek-wines too.  They are a better size, I think.  See, here they are with a picnic table.  They are not as scary as the big Eeek-wine.
In fact, my lady had a bit of a googly look in her eyes when she talked about Sarah, one of the mini Eeek-wines, and said that she was quite tempted to put her in the back of her car and bring her home!  Can you imagine?!  What was she thinking?  This is a picture of Sarah the mini Eeek-wine.
I think my lady liked Sarah so much because Sarah made googly eyes and smiled at her by peeking around the corner in the barn.  My lady is very susceptible to googly eyes.  I can make her give me grain that way you know.
My lady also said the mini Eeek-wines are very good at giving each other back scratches.  Here are Nigel and Noel helping each other out.  I am not sure if I would like an Eeek-wine doing this to me.
Well, I can forgive my lady, because Isobelle is a very good friend and a special goat, just like me.  But most of all, I can forgive her because I am just so excited to have her back home again.  
I missed her very much and I know she missed me too.  All the others missed her too.  Here's a picture of everybody running over to see her, and you can tell they're running because Coffee's Nubian ears are in upward flap position, which only happens when she runs.
Lotus and Horton nearly came over the fence in their exuberance.
My lady loves all her goats, but I still know I'm her special goat, and that's how it's always going to be!
A big thank you to Isobelle, her lady, and all her friends for making my lady's day on her trip home - she had such a great time and would like to be snuzzled, slobbered on, and mobbed by them anytime!  It makes her feel very much at home!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year To All

For the past 2 weeks, I have been soaking up every minute of the happiness that is a result of being home for the holidays.  I drove the 1,992 miles from my home to my parents home, accompanied by my dog and my spinning wheel.  It has been such a delightful visit and I have been able to truly relax and recuperate.  The latter part of 2010 has been a difficult and wrenching time for me in many ways, so I needed some recuperation.  I think that the coming year is going to be also difficult to begin with, but I have a strong belief that it is going to be a tremendous year of change.

I am calling 2011 the Year of the Fulfillment of the Dream.  As you travel along with my adventures this year, I believe it shall all become clear why 2011 has been given this auspicious title.

I wish all of you the best of health and comfort in 2011, but most of all I wish you happiness.  Without it, we are all just a shadow of the selves we could be.  Take time to do things you enjoy, things that make your heart sing, things that make the sun shine on a grey and dreary day.  Stop worrying.  (I need to work on that one!)  Worry does not help anything and can actually be counterproductive and cause you far more stress than is needed.  Be kind to others.  Be even kinder to animals.  (Lucky Nickel put that part in!)

Over the holiday, I visited Lawrencetown Beach in Nova Scotia, which is not that far from where my parents live.  It's a lovely beach and somewhere I have often visited in the past.  It was 23 Fahrenheit (-2C) on the day I visited, but I was warm and comfortable.  Maybe it was because I was home.  Maybe it's because I'm just warm all the time.  Anyway, I even went paddling in the ocean.  You know you're a real Canadian when you go paddling in the Atlantic in December, and you enjoy it!
I breathed in the ocean air, faced the wind, and felt the energy of the waves and the wind fill my soul.
I also took time to sit on the rocks, and think about where I have been, where I am now, and where I am going.  It was very therapeutic.
I highly recommend that you all go paddling at least once this year.  

I head back to Iowa tomorrow, and am looking forward to giving Lucky Nickel a big hug when I get home.  No doubt she will have things to blog about when I return!