Saturday, January 31, 2009

Butterscotch Bunny

I'm not sure what to blog about first. I received two brand new awards from Karen at Toteleeding and Lisa at Laughing Orca Ranch, AND I got a great new rescue animal. Which to choose....

Well, I know Karen and Lisa love animals, so I think they'll forgive me if thank them very much, but then blog about my rescue first, because he's so special! (next post will go to the awards!)

So, a new species on the farm! Woo hoo! An enormous, fluffy, heartfelt welcome goes out to dear Butterscotch.

First, I must digress with a historical discussion. Butterscotch is not my first rabbit. My first rabbit was Thumper, and she will always hold a special place in my heart. Thumper was a pet store rabbit, purchased in a pet shop in the early 1990s when shelters (at least where I was living) didn't have rabbits. She was a little soft grey baby, and I took her home, knowing nothing about rabbits. Thumper lived with me all over Nova Scotia, in various apartments and homes while I was in school. She then moved with me to Ontario, enduring a long, hot drive with my father and I, riding in the back of a Jetta, and kept me company while I finished my Masters degree and began working outside of Toronto. Eventually, she moved yet again with me, health certificate "in paw" for her border crossing, and she settled here in Iowa. Thumper was a remarkable girl. She was a little grey dwarf bunny of unknown heritage, who wriggled her way into the hearts of anyone she met. She visited the kindergarten class that my Mother taught and shared story circle time with the children, going around to visit them in their circle as they sat listening to a story. She let me carry her around, laying on her back, in the crook of my elbow. I gave her belly rubs and talked to her all the time. We went through so many years together...times when I laughed at her antics and shared her delight, other times when I cried salty tears that dripped onto her fur, and she snuggled herself into my lap to try to ease my worries. She finished three University degrees with me, she flew on commercial jets under the seat in front of me (much to the delight of airport security staff, who always made a great fuss of her). She lived to be a remarkable 14 years old, and finally I had her sent to Rainbow Bridge when her arthritis was so bad that she could no longer support herself on her back legs, and could only lay on her side. I knew it was time, and difficult as it was, I felt I made the right decision. Her passing was like losing a best friend. She was buried under a variegated willow in the garden at my previous house. I have planted a similar willow at this house in her memory. This picture below is Thumper in her older days when she had a cataract and was not as comfortable running about - she preferred to stay under chairs or tables, or sitting on my lap.

Butterscotch cannot replace Thumper, but I hope he will share many years with me. He is a rescue rabbit from the Animal Rescue League who was dropped off by someone who said they could no longer keep him because he had "grown too large for his cage." I could express a great many thoughts about that, but I won't, because this is a positive and happy post! Suffice to say, Butterscotch had not been properly cared for in his previous home. His beautiful fur was matted and dirty in places, and he was not at all well groomed. After his neuter operation earlier this week, the shelter offered to shave him for me! Ack!! NO!!!! Butterscotch is an angora rabbit, and will thus provide beautiful fiber for me to include in my spinning activities. Although his coat was matted in places, there is plenty of good fiber on him now.

I purchased a comb for grooming Butterscotch, and began the process this evening. He needed it BADLY! Tons of lovely angora hair is coming out of his coat. There are areas that are too matted to comb, and I will have to cut some out, but over the next week, I will work on his coat in small increments, to try to save as much of it as possible. He is primarily white, but with soft grey ears and some color around his eyes. He is a very handsome rabbit. I believe there is some light caramel color to the fur on his back. I hope it's not just dirty!

He is very good natured and tolerated the grooming perfectly. Even when I pulled on the fur a bit, he was very gentle. He is settling in to his new cage, but he'll get lots of time outside of it as well. I was a bit worried about what Stickley, the greyhound, would think. Fortunately, he appeared not to care in the slightest.

So you can probably tell from this picture how delighted I am to have a new bunny to love. I hope Thumper approves.

Disston, Daisy, Knitting, and "Udder" stuff

Last week, we brought home a new duck from the Rescue League. She is another Muscovy duck, and of course was purchased as a friend for Disston, who was alone in his "Muscovyness" and who could perhaps use some company other than goats. She has a problem leg, and doesn't walk very steadily, but otherwise, she is just lovely. Here she is with Disston, who took to her right away of course, because she has such iridescent greenish-black feathers and such a lovely head, that he was overcome with ducky love. Her name is Daisy.

This afternoon I went to Prairieland Herbs in Woodward, Iowa, which is a lovely shop owned by my spinning friend Maggie (see her blog here). She has a fabulous selection of natural products like massage oils and bath salts as well as cosmetic products and candles and wonderful essential oils. She also has a lovely selection of handspun wool, some interesting fiber (like the alpaca that I bought) and some hand knit and hand woven items too. What a treat! But truthfully, I didn't go there to shop (although I did shop). I went because Maggie offered to help me learn to knit. She had another friend over for the same reason, and we had a grand old time chatting and clicking our needles and learning the basics. What a great afternoon! Thank you Maggie!!

Having read some of the posts in response to my udder other postings, I thought it might help those without farm initiation to see a non-pregnant goat udder. This might help you to see why I was so excited about the appearance of Stuffin's udder, and thought that she must be on the verge of kidding... So without further ado, here is her sister, Puffin's udder. Very non pregnant. Flat. Nothin' to it! Although you can see her secondary teats, which is sort of odd. I hope you can all see that there is a pretty big difference between Puffin's udder when you compare it to the pictures of Stuffin's udder. But no, we still don't have any births on the farm.

Diane - glad your Mom taught you how to spell teats. If you come visit, I'll teach you how to milk them. Then you'll be fully farm initiated.

Friday, January 30, 2009

This is for Diane

In my last post, pondering the marvels of the goat udder, Diane (who has an amusing blog about living the Loess Hills of Iowa, which you will find under my "Iowa blogs of Note" blogroll on the right sidebar) said she could not believe I did not post a picture of "the famous goat boob." Indeed, I tried to encourage my readers to imagine the "goat boob" for themselves.

Now, you must realize, Diane is a professional photographer. So, she would take a delightful picture of my goat's special bits, but she's not here. She's valiantly trying to quit smoking while dealing with three rascally dogs and adjusting to life in Iowa, having moved here from Georgia. Wow, that's quite an adjustment! No wonder her imagination skills are on hiatus.

So Diane, with apologies for my photographic skills, which are middling to none, especially when it comes to udder photography, these are for you. And let me assure you, it is quite difficult to hold a squirming goat with one arm, and take a decent photo with the other hand, while avoiding having the second goat chew on the camera. Therefore, some lack of perfect focus is unfortunately present...

Anyone else wishing to comment, please feel free! I am udderly open to comments!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Thoughts on the Feeling of Udders

(No pictures in this post, so you can use your imaginations when considering the udder and the feeling thereof!)

I haven’t had a lot of experience in udder assessment. For a while, when I was in University, I had a roommate who milked cows at an ungodly hour, and sometimes I accompanied her. To this day, I’m not sure what she did to convince me to do that. I learned how to attach the milking suction tubes and how to dip the teats and all the accompanying things one must do for cow milking. That was the extent of my udder experience.

Cow udders, when they’re in milk, are huge. Positively enormous. I’m sure many of you have either seen cows on television or in person, or perhaps you’ve even milked them, so you know what I mean. It’s like a basketball (or 2) hanging off the poor cow. There is no mistaking a full cow udder.

Goat udders are a bit different. I’ve seen plenty of pictures of full Nubian and Alpine goat udders. Not unlike cow udders, although smaller, they are still in the basketball category and there is no question when they are full.

Stuffin, our pregnant goat, is a pygmy goat, and several of our pygmy goats are actually bigger than her, so she’s a small pygmy. Her sister, Puffin, is about the same. When I feel Puffin’s non-active udder, it just blends in to the contour of her underside. The only hint that you’re dealing with an udder area is the teats. Strangely, she has four of them. Two are slightly larger than the others, but they are not large at all and the area is quite flat and non-contoured.

Stuffin’s udder began to change about 3 weeks ago I’d say. When I first felt the changes, it was as if her udder had gone from being like Puffin’s non-contoured udder, to being a little soft pillow. It was not what I would call swollen, or full, or even bulging. It was merely “puffy” I suppose. Perhaps comparable to what it would feel like if you laid a good wool sock on the carpet, and laid your hand on it such that you could feel the carpet on either side. I became all excited at this slight puffiness, because of my udder inexperience, and thought she was “bagging up” as they say.

Every day, I went twice a day and felt her udder. Was it different? Was it puffier? Was it firmer? Minute possible changes seemed to register in my mind as monumental, suggesting impending birth. Over these weeks though, I have become jaded. I have done less udder prodding and palpating, because she wasn’t really changing much, and after all, she wasn’t popping out a baby. A slightly puffy udder became a slightly puffier udder, but otherwise, it was just Stuffin, teasing me with her silence.

Today, I felt the udder again. I think I last felt it 3 days ago. I really think it might have changed now. Before, it was a puffiness that I sensed with my palm, more than my whole hand. Today, it was a handful. Still, it is not firm or taut or approaching basketball status. Her teats are about 1 inch long, maybe 1 and ¼ inch, and about the width of a thick pen. Puffin’s are tiny and not as long or wide.

I do not know what a full pygmy udder looks like, really. Is it baseball sized? How do I know the difference between “puffy udder” and “bagging up udder?” How do these slight changes in her udder correspond to her possible delivery?

She was purchased on Oct 2 as being bred (and he said she would kid “sometime in December” which was clearly wrong).

Oct 2-31 = 29 days

Nov 1-30 = 30 days

Dec 1-31 = 31 days

Jan 1-29 = 29 days

Total: 119 days

Goat gestation is about 150 days (145 to 155). We have roughly 31 days left, then, if she was bred on October 1, for example, although why he would have said she would kid in December is beyond me if that was the case. I suspect she was bred before October 1 because she would have been being transported on that day. So it's probably less than 31 days...

Anyway, this whole experience is very interesting for me, and I’ve learned a lot, most notably that a slightly puffy udder is not a sign of imminent birth.

Got any udder wisdom to share?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Butterflies and Ducks

Thank you so much to Shiloh Prairie Farm for the ever-so-pretty Butterfly Award! I am delighted to have received it, and for the kind comments about my blog. If you haven't visited Shiloh Prairie Farm's blog lately, you really should! She's got some great posts, including one with soap sticks that look like butter!

So, as usual, the rules are to be listed!
1. Put the logo on your blog.
2. Add a link to the person who awarded you.
3. Award up to ten other blogs.
4. Add links to those blogs on yours.
5. Leave a message for your awardees on their blogs.

Well, I can certainly come up with 10 blogs to award, and here are the first three, in no particular order. If these awardees would like to share the award with others, please feel free to do so, but don't feel obligated! If I wasn't so dead tired right now, I'd do the remaining 7, but instead, I will get to those when I have a little more time and energy.

1. All Things Farm & Fiber (because she did a really cool post about the idea of using opossum fiber to spin, and a very useful post on dying wool, so I enjoy visiting there!)
2. Spinning Yarns from the Farm (because even though we disagree about mice, she always has some interesting thoughts in her posts!)
3. Mapleton Farm (A recent blog discovery for me, and she had a great egg photo in a recent post, but also because she has fabulous sheep pictures. I am very envious of her sheep.)

Well, this weekend we had duckling bath time. The ducklings aren't so "duckling" like any more - in fact, they are distinctly duck-like. They quack like ducks (except for a couple who still make squeaky noises) and they smell like ducks (ugh...) and they paddle about in the bathtub like ducks and they even preen themselves like ducks. So, they're not my ducklings any more - they're my ducks.

As each duck came out of the tub, I did a little rub-down to get them a bit dried off - they still don't repel water quite as well as they should. In general, ducks are displeased with being given a bit of a rubdown, and are very vocal about their displeasure. My ears start ringing with the memory of it. Of course, I also got very wet and disheveled looking from the whole experience, but that's what you've got to expect when you've got ducks in your basement!

The black and white ducks (2 of them) intrigue me. At first I thought they might be Swedish Blue ducks based on a couple of others' suggestions, but now I am not sure. They don't appear to have any blue feathering and in fact one of them has some brown around its head. Any duck experts care to make a proclamation about this duck breed?!
I just love to watch them preening after the bath - they can do things with their neck that are quite remarkable - I wish I were that flexible!

By the way, Tulip, Petunia and Buttercup are all doing very well and enjoying their new farmyard friends. Probably I'll have time for pictures and an update on them this weekend!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Flowers in our Midst

Today, Tulip spent her whole day with the Nubian goats and the llamas. She seemed entirely content around them and ate with them, played with them, and generally seemed to enjoy herself. There were some questions about her nose shape, so here is a nose shot! I don't think she has the Roman nose, do you?

She has a lovely disposition, and will easily eat from my hand. I do not think she was abused in her former home because she is not fearful of us at all. I think she was just neglected.

Look at her ear - doesn't that look like an oak leaf shape inside her ear? How fun!

Today I spent several hours clipping the other sheep. She was very gentle and not at all disturbed by my clipping for the most part. She wasn't really fond of having her belly clipped, but that was understandable. Again, I took off a horrible outer "shell" of burrs mixed with fleece. Underneath, she had a gleaming white fleece and some nice crimp in it too! Some parts are a little yellowed, understandably, but overall she looks super. Oh, and by the way, her name is Petunia. At first, I thought it was Delphinium, but I had it wrong.

It took me a long time to do the area around her face because it was so close to her skin and I was afraid of nicking her with the snips. I lay next to her in the hay, talking to her about how important it was that we help her with her fleece. She let me clip all around her eyes and face with no flinching, as if she knew it was OK to let me do it. I was amazed at her patience and her stillness. After a while, I felt a bit tired of the detail work, and my hands were really cold, and I lay my head down upon her newly clean flank, and put my hands into her fleece. She just lay there, letting me rest upon her, letting me warm my hands. She didn't move or try to avoid me. She was completely at ease. I rested a while and then continued. Finally, she was clean and burr-free, or as close as I could get to burr-free!

So, then it was time for Buttercup and Petunia to meet their new sheepie companions. They had spent the night with Stuffin and Puffin and Disston, since it was easier to access them for their clipping in a smaller pen. But it was time to be with their own kind, so out we went.

Everybody was wonderfully well behaved.

Bianca, Flurry and Poppy welcomed the girls into their pen and everyone had a good sniff of everyone else.

Petunia was so excited about it all that she had to have a little lie-down.
Buttercup and Petunia still like to be together. Don't they look great in their "new" clean fleece?!

Tulip, who was housed with the sheep before, can still visit with her friends through the cattle panel divider. We keep the goats and sheep housed separately because their mineral needs are quite different. Here's Tulip checking out the excitement, and Poppy looking on with interest!

So all our girls are well settled and all of them have flower names - Tulip, Buttercup, and Petunia. Perhaps that is because they are ready to blossom in their new lives here on the farm.

p.s. Waste not, want not! What did I do with that nasty, burr-filled fleece? I used it (with the soft, inner side up) to line the chicken coop nest boxes and the inside of the "Eglu" coop where the silkies live. What a soft, nice bed for a hen to lay an egg on!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Two sheep in the hand are worth a goat in the bush

Yet another rescue was completed today by your friendly Iowa blog buddies. Today, we rescued a goat and two sheep, of course, from the Animal Rescue League. We love our shelter - and they love us! These critters were surrendered by a farm in Northern Iowa but the shelter in their area only took their dogs and cats. That shelter called our shelter to see if the goats and sheep and horses could be brought here, which they were. Not long after that, the shelter contacted us....their favorite farm folks. And there began the story.

I went to see the trio on Thursday at lunch hour. What a sorry state they were in. I have never seen so many burrs on any animal in my life. But other than the condition of their fleeces, they were relatively healthy looking. Their hooves were fine and their weight seemed normal, so I agreed to take them on. This afternoon, around 3, we went to the shelter. It took some effort to load the sheep into the back of the pickup. Primarily this was because they lay down as soon as we put a lead on them. These are not small sheep. So the loading of the sheep required heavy lifting, significant persuasion, and a lot of heaving and shoving. Once they were in, we proceeded to load the goat. She was a different kind of trouble. Once on a lead, she decided to demonstrate her strength and determination. It took us both to get her loaded, but only after she took Kelly on a bit of a joy ride.

So, we brought them home, and decided to deal with the goat first, since she had some burrs in her fur, but nothing like the sheep. I honestly believe that animals can choose their own names. As I began brushing her out with a curry comb (which was highly effective in burr removal), I encouraged her to consider her name. I hugged her and pressed my forehead to hers, willing her to tell me her name. I suggested "Latte" and "Cocoa" and other names that pertained to her colouring, but nothing worked for her. Finally, after brushing out all the burrs, we took her out to the goat pen, to meet all her new friends and family. As I was holding her by the gate, it was as if she screamed her name into my head. It came in a burst of colour and light. Tulip. The name she chose was Tulip. So vividly she told me, I swear she spoke it. Off she went into the herd, to meet her new friends. Tulip had finally come home.

I'm not sure what breed(s) she is. She is extremely strong. She certainly hasn't got Boer or Nubian ears, although she has Boer strength.

She is quite stocky, but has a stripe down her back. She is way too big for pygmy. Any thoughts? I'm accepting all guesses and suggestions!

We went back into the barn and dug out the sheep shearing clippers that Kelly had purchased a couple of months ago. I also got out some garden snips, that I thought might be useful for areas that were tricky to shear with the clippers.

We knew it was going to be a tough task. These sheep were absolutely covered in burrs.

The condition of their fleece was appalling, especially around their head and neck.

I began with the snips, just to see what I was getting into. After a few careful snips, lo and behold, white fleece began to appear underneath the mess!

I progressed to the clippers and got about 1/4 finished, when the clippers decided to sort of explode in my hand, with pieces going every which way. Wow. Spectacular! Unfortunately, the tab that held the pieces in place had sheared, and we need new parts. So, the rest of the sheep was shorn using garden snips. Thank goodness they were sharp. It took about 2 hours, much of which I spent laying on the concrete floor of our unheated barn while Kelly held the sheep steady.

I was able to remove about 1 to 2 inches all over her, and still leave her with about 3 inches of clean fleece all over. As I clipped, I asked her about her name, of course. Just like the goat, she told me clearly. Buttercup. And so shall she be. I am sure she will remain warm in these cold days, and yet she must be more comfortable now. Her fleece, to my untrained hands, felt very greasy. There must have been a lot of lanolin I suppose. My hands feel very soft and smooth now. There might even be enough to have a decent amount to spin when she is properly shorn in the spring.

Look - a brand new sheep! She must feel so much better now!
What a tremendous difference.

Is that yet another sheep? Oh no, that is just the parts of Buttercup that ended up in a heap on the floor!

It was nearly 9:30 pm by the time we finished with her, so we will do her sister tomorrow. I haven't got a name from her sister yet though. We put them in the pen with Stuffin and Puffin for tonight, because they don't know any of the sheep outside, and it was dark, so we thought that might distress them. Look how grubby her sister looks with all those burrs in her. Poor thing. Just hang on until tomorrow!

I feel really good that we adopted these girls and have given them a new home where they will not only be well fed and housed, but will also be properly groomed and cared for. It is the very least that they deserve.

Anyone at all with suggestions on their breed, please speak up!!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Sometimes, things are not what they seem!

You might remember that I got a pigeon from our Animal Rescue League, just after Christmas. I was pleased to give him a home, and he seemed pleased to be here. He had been at the shelter for nearly a month, when I got him. He did a lot of cooing, bowing, and circling in his cage, and behaved in ways that pigeon owners told me was decidedly male. So, fair enough, I named him Tarquin.

Today, Tarquin did something that was decidedly not male.
Of course, the egg will not be fertile - there is no boyfriend with her. So, the question becomes, what do I name her now? Tarquinette? Tarquinelle? Tarquanna? Oh dear, every day when I get her out for a little cuddle session, I always say things like "Oh he's such a good boy" and other silly nonsense in my best pigeon voice. Now I have to change all that and say "...good girl" instead. This will take some adjustment.

In other news, the sheep have been pronounced ready to come home by the vet at the shelter. His opinion is that the skin irritation is a result of all the burrs. So, we will probably pick them up tomorrow. The goat is bonded to the sheep, so she comes too. New names for everybody. I am not fond of Thelma and Louise as names for sheep (Louise is my middle name) and anyway I'm kind of partial to non-human-sounding names for our flock. I'll be working on that.

And the final bit of news - hatching of some incubated eggs began today. Just 3 today. They are, I think, Rhode Island Reds. I ordered some hatching eggs after the holiday losses, and in my anxious and rushed state, I put them into the incubator with the hatch date, but not the variety. So now I have all these eggs with dates but no breeds. Oops. I'm sure they will sort themselves out over time as they feather out.

No news on Stuffin. She really is a bit of a tease. Her back end seems to have gotten narrower, and her tail feels loose to me. I keep expecting some activity, but she feels otherwise. Of course, since this weekend is due to be extremely cold, she will probably decide that is the right time. Any bets?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sheep Picture

Here are the sheep - the shelter just sent me a photo. I think they are Dorsets....does anyone agree? You can't see their fleece really well in the photo. I'll take more when we get them. Poor things are so matted with burrs. The goat I am not sure about - it isn't a pygmy - too big. It isn't a Nubian or Boer goat. It might even have some Oberhaslii in it? Maybe? I think it's definitely a mixed breed. Their names are Thelma and Louise, but I might change that.

Help! Sheep Skin Problem

I never do blog posts from work, but I'm making an exception, so this is short and to-the-point. We are adopting 2 sheep from the shelter who just came in. They have so many burrs that you can barely separate their fleece. They look like Dorsets to me. They have not been sheared in quite some time. We will need to "start over" with them in the spring after a good shearing.

I was inspecting them at the shelter and finally managed to get through to look at the skin in some places. Their skin has a problem. I can only look at their skin on their backs and flanks, but I can see that their pinkish-white skin is covered in these rust-brown colored patches, everywhere. The patches are not raised. They do not appear to be itchy but I can't really tell for sure. You can see some areas where wool has fallen out, but that might just be because they haven't been shorn. It just makes their skin look all mottled.

I have been Googling sheep skin diseases with no real "aha" moments. Can anybody who is a sheep expert give me any advice? The shelter vet will be looking at them but his specialty is really companion animals, not barnyard buddies.

Any advice and suggestions appreciated! Very much!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Award, Advice, Patience, and Pigeons

Can you even begin to figure out that title? Well, I don't blame you if you can't. I have a bunch of things to blog about and they're all sort of disconnected, so don't try to connect the dots in the title. They're just not connectable.

Thanks and "cheers" to Laughing Orca Ranch for giving me the second version of the Lemonade Award! Lisa is a great blogger and keeping up with her current condition makes me grateful, every day, that I can walk! Lisa is getting over surgery for a torn ACL and meniscus in her knee, and she is suffering from farm critter withdrawal in the worst possible way. I wish her a speedy recovery and a faster return to horse riding than she currently expects. May the healing winds be blowing her way.

Of course, this comes with the usual rules about awarding 10 other blogs for gratitude and/or great attitude, which I did do earlier this month. So, I did a new thing. I decided to be creative for once, and make my own award. You know, it's my blog, and I can be my own creative soul, so this is my award - the Wonderfully Woolly Award, and I'm awarding it to five sheep-related blogs that I enjoy. Those blogs can either choose to award it, or ignore it, as they wish. It would be fun if they award it to others, but no obligation!
So without further ado, I hereby award the Wonderfully Wooly award to:
1. A Shepherd's Voice
2. Sheep Thrills Farm
3. Kalwa Taure Shetlands
4. Zephyr Sheep Farm
5. Laughing Orca Ranch (cuz she got this whole thing started!!)

Last minute edit: Edited to add Harvest Thyme Homestead to the Wonderfully Woolly award winners, because she just got on the waiting list for a black Leicester Longwool, and I am insanely envious!

My advice for today (take it or leave it) is: Don't bite off more than you can chew! Sometimes, I need to learn to say no. There are so many wonderful things I enjoy doing. There are many things I want to learn. There are many things in which I want to participate. Sometimes, I overestimate my capacity to do things. Today was such a day.

As some of you know, I work full time in a legal role, as a patent agent, which is stressful and intense. As some of you also know, I attend law school part time. This is also stressful and intense. (and no, not all lawyers are evil and repugnant). On top of that, we have a farm with a whole lot of critters. I also have the usual chores, like laundry and other household stuff. Oh, and I'm also taking spinning classes, as mentioned in some of my other posts. It was my intention to also take knitting classes. That was supposed to be tonight. And then I realized...too much...overload alert! Can't do all my necessary studying and housework and barn chores and my regular job....and keep up with knitting.

One. Thing. At. A. Time.

It is not necessary to be and do all things at once. In fact, it is counter-productive. My advice is, don't even try it.

Stuffin is still pregnant. She still has a puffy udder. She still hasn't had a baby. She still feels like she has loose ligaments. Patience is a virtue. She knows this....why can't I follow suit?

We have 4 roller pigeons. Two pairs, in fact. I haven't blogged about them before - they are not all that exciting. But about 18 days ago, one of my pairs laid 2 eggs, and today, one of the eggs hatched. Baby pigeons are cute, in an ugly-cute sort of way. Here is my first, ever, baby pigeon. I took a quick pic when the parents were switching duties. Hopefully the baby will make it despite our cold temperatures.

Here is the mom:

Here is the dad:
Here is the little pink baby pigeon. Much less capable than a newborn chick. But apparently they mature much faster. We shall see how it goes.

That's all for now. In the meantime, stay warm, do what makes you happy, and laugh a little every day.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Short, Sweet, and Full of Hope

No updates on Stuffin. Her udder is fuller today than yesterday, but no babies, and no signs of initial labour. We keep hoping it won't happen in the middle of the night!

Tonight, we had our spinning class. We did plying tonight. Here is my first plying attempt. I am calling it "Candy Cane" yarn. I had to use my not-so-good cream stuff with my slightly-better red stuff for plying. We put it on our PVC niddy noddy and tomorrow it will get its first water bath to help it remember its twist. It's still pretty chunky looking but I guess it's OK.

Tonight I have to read some material for my class tomorrow, so not much time to chatter, but I want to say that today, I watched the inauguration, the oath, the speech...and for the first time in my 6.5 years here, I felt proud of the leadership and future direction of this country.
Even I, the non-citizen, who can't even vote, had a tear in my eye and a song in my heart. I wished that Stuffin had kidded today because one of those goat-lettes would have been named "Hope" in honour of the day, because that, more than anything, is what I feel. It's been a long time coming. Congratulations, America! What a historic day and a grand new beginning.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Goats as art: how to glue your goat to the wall

We love our goats here on the farm. In fact, we love them so much, that we thought they would make great art pieces on the wall. Therefore, we share with you these simple instructions on how to glue your goat to the wall for an interesting art piece. Of course, it is recommended that you place a bucket below the goat during the time that you have it mounted on the wall, in case it decides to relieve itself. Also, we recommend mounting a feeding/watering cup beside your goat, because of course it is a living art piece.

Step 1. Select most artistic goat from herd.

Step 2. Approach goat with treats. Goats are always interested in treats and are much more liable to approach you when you are luring them with said treats.

Step 3. Firmly but gently grasp your goat and lead it inside.

Step 3b (optional). Wash goat to make it smell nice. (see previous post on how to give a goat a bath).

Step 4. Invert goat onto its back. It is best to have a helper for this stage.

Step 5. Apply generous amount of crazy glue to each hoof.

Step 6. Carefully position goat upon wall in most artistic way possible.

Step 7. Hold goat in position for several hours. Crazy glue is fast, but not that fast.

Step 8. Step back and admire your handiwork. Well done!
Okay, seriously everybody, this is a PARODY! No goats were harmed in the making of this blog. Please don't call PETA, we do not glue goats to the wall...

It just so happens, Puffin the goat is an acrobat. She just loves to bounce off the walls of her pen. Here she goes again, this time with the head twist so she can see where she's going to land. (Incidentally, do you have any idea how long it took for me to get these pictures? I had to take so many shots before I got these....)
Puffin is inside with Stuffin right now (they're sisters) because we thought Stuffin would like some company in her late pregnancy.

Speaking of Stuffin, see the baby bump? We don't know when she is due, but it must be soon!

Stuffin and Puffin also have Disston keeping them company right now, as he learns the ropes on the farm. Puffin thinks it is fun to pat his bottom...
and to scratch her head on his tail feathers.

Yes, we have an odd, acrobatic goat, but we love her!