Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sometimes, change happens

This is a difficult post for me to write.  For once, these days, it's not Lucky Nickel's turn to write.  This one is all mine.  It's about change, about decisions, about the course of life.  It's not all happy, but it's not all bad.  It's just a bumpy road sometimes.

As a number of you know, the relationship I had when I started out on Whispering Acres ended many months ago.  Some of you may not know that, but now you do!  For a long and awkward time, however, Kelly continued to live here on the farm, because he didn't have anywhere else to go and could not afford a place to live on his own.  He was supposed to be doing the animal care and taking care of the yard, etc, in return for free room and board.  Things declined, quickly, and the situation became intolerable.  Now, as of quite recently, that situation is also over.  You might be thinking this is one of the sad parts of this post, but really it isn't.  It is all for the best.  Without going into details, I shall just say it was fraught with problems and caused a tremendous amount of stress.  That too, now, is easing.

So, that has left me in a difficult situation - even though I only have 8.5 acres, I have a lot of animals and a lot on my plate.  I work full time, and I was in law school part time.  I said "was" because I made the really tough decision to withdraw for this semester.  Simply put, there is too much on my plate right now for me to continue.  So much change and so much anxiety is too much for school at the same time.  So, I withdrew from my classes about 2 weeks ago, and am still coming to terms with that decision.

I knew I had to reduce my flock numbers immediately, so I was both incredibly fortunate and tremendously relieved when the blue-faced Leicesters found a home at Grace Haven Acres in Wisconsin.  I know they will be well cared for there, and they will go on to produce happy little lambs to delight their new owners.  I hope to see them at future shows.

Now, the really sad part.  I have to sell Whispering Acres.  It's too much work for me along with everything else.  I'm heartsick but I know it's the right thing to do.  As a result, I also need to find homes for nearly all my animals.  I am hoping to keep Lucky Nickel, Marshmallow, and Stormy the llama.  It depends on where I end up.  I will keep those three until the last possible moment.  One thing I want to avoid, at all costs, is animal auctions.  I want good homes for my animals, where they will be loved and cared for.  That is part of the reason I am sharing these changes today.  I hope that by some chance, some twist of fate, there will be somebody that can help with a home, or has a friend who can provide a home, for at least one of my beloved flock/herd/menagerie.

Looking for homes are....
(I know I need more sheep pictures, I'll try to take some soon)
Bianca - a white unregistered full Icelandic ewe, probably about 4-5 years old.
Blizzard - a white unregistered full Icelandic wether, well tempered, probably also about 4-5 years old.
Flurry - a cinnamon (phaeomelanin) coloured unregistered Icelandic ewe with a poor bite (her teeth don't match up to her upper palate) but she had a lamb with no mouth problems.  She is 3-4 years old.
Poppy - a great mother - Rambouillet/Suffolk/Dorset mix ewe - I think also about 4-5 years old.  Mixed colours of black and white.
Cream Puff - white ewe, Poppy's daughter of last year, sired by Blizzard (before he was wethered) so she is 50% Icelandic and then has the Rambouillet/Suffok/Dorset mix genes.  Her ears have tan coloured tips.  She would probably throw coloured lambs.
MB - Marshmallow's Brother.  White, 1.5 years old, half Icelandic, remaining half unknown but possibly Polypay cross.  Has horns.  Fairly small sized wether.
Paddington - Poppy's ram lamb from this year, black, sired by Cragganmore, a black blue-faced Leicester ram.  He is really sweet so far.  He could be wethered easily but hasn't been yet.
Ferdinand - a black Shetland wether who is a real love-bug.  He loves chest rubs.  I may also take him with me because he's so sweet.  If he found the perfect home though, I could part with him.

Also three unnamed lambs from this year - one white ram lamb who is half BFL and two black ewe lambs who are half BFL.  Their sires are not known for sure, although I have my suspicions.

GOATS (all have horns unless otherwise stated)
Coffee - she's a mini-Nubian doe with good milk production.  She had twins this year and is a great mom.  She's black with a light underbelly and brown on her ears.  I think 3 years old.
Misky - Coffee's daughter sired by Val, the angora.  White.  Born in May 2010.
Larke - Coffee's daughter sired by Val, the angora.  White.  Born in May 2010.
Both Misky and Larke are in the picture below to the right of their mother, the two smaller white goats not inside the hut.
Lotus - Nigerian dwarf doe - tan with darker areas and an interesting white design on her side.  Good mother and good milk production.  About 3 years old.  Very sweet personality and easy to handle.  Picture here of Lotus with Horton.
Horton - Lotus' son from this year, wethered.  He is the son of Val the angora buck so he qualifies as a "Nigora" (which is like a pygora goat but from a Nigerian rather than a pygmy) and he is showing a nice fleece that is probably B or C type.  Easy to handle.
Opal - another Nigerian dwarf doe, VERY sweet natured.  I might take her also if I cannot find a home for her.
Valentino - Unregistered full Angora buck, intact.  Hunky!!  Loves head rubs.  White.
Osmo - Pygmy buck, black and white.  Had scurs but they are gone right now.  Might grow back but will likely keep falling off.  Sweet personality.  Very friendly.

Dolly - Dark brown and white female, registered, mother of Stormy.  Not extremely approachable but tolerates shearing.

Hazel - Dark brown solid female, moderately approachable.

Cabernet with Merlin - Cabernet had Merlin a few weeks ago as my regular readers know.  They cannot be separated for about 6 months so they have to go together.  Cab is cinnamon brownish/grey and has a few white patches.  Merlin is a male with a brown head and tail tip, otherwise white.  Growing well - much bigger now than in the picture below.
Kahlua - Intact cinnamon coloured male with a gorgeous fleece.  Could be wethered if desired.

My primary objective is to find GOOD homes.  I am aching at the thought of parting with my animals, but I know it is best for both them and for me.  I need to find a new place that I can handle on my own.  I need to find them the best homes I can.  If anyone can help, please let me know.

I also have a gaggle of ducks and a lot of chickens to part with.  Let me know if you are interested in those too.  If you are interested in a lovely 8.5 acre home in Iowa, let me know that too!

Nothing ever stays the same forever, and life throws us curves that we must navigate.  This is just the beginning of a change in direction for me.  While I am sad in many ways, I keep my thoughts tuned to what my next steps are, and what lies around the corner.  There is always light at the end of the tunnel.  Please send light my way if you feel so inclined - I certainly could use some.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

My lady built a goat hut

Hi!  Hi hi hi!  It's meeee!  Lucky Nickel!  Did you miss me?!  It has been a very long time since my lady paid any attention to the blog.  She has been so busy with a lot of things, and then her Maaa-aaa and her Paaa-aaa came to visit us.  It was so nice to have them visit, even if her Paaaa-aaa did call me a nuisance.  I swear I was only helping him with the gardening!!  He said I was "getting in the way" and kept saying "Shooo" and waving his arms around.  I thought he was a little bit grumpy with me but I think he hasn't had enough goat experience to notice how helpful I really am.
My lady is a little bit sad this afternoon because she took her Maaa-aaa and Paaa-aaa to the airpost so they could be put into a big box and wrapped up with some tape and sent back to their home.  I do not know why they want to travel by post.  I think that's kind of strange.  I see the postman come by all the time with envelopes and packages.  He seems nice enough, so maybe they like the postman.  Anyway, after she took them to the airpost, she came home and did something to busy herself so she would not be sad.  Look at what she did!
She built a hut.  For goats!  BUT NOT FOR ME!!!!  She built it for those OTHER goats that live here.  I am not impressed.  But then I realized, she is building them a hut.  She is going to build me a goatominium.  It's like a whole house but just for ME!  She was practicing with the hut.  I am sure my goatominium will be much more fancy.  She put the other goats up in the garden area to eat all the remaining weeds and other stuff that was all overgrown and jungle-like in the garden.  They don't usually live up there, but she said they would be there for a few weeks, and they needed a shelter in case it rained.

Anyway, she used a cattle panel (I guess it is really a goatle panel) and then she covered it with a tarpoline.  A tarpoline is like a big sheet of plastic and it keeps the rain out.  You can also bounce on it, but my lady didn't seem to know that.  She said I was confused.  She is so scatterbrained sometimes.  You can buy them in all different sizes, she said, but this one was 10 feet by 20 feet.  She could put it over in 2 layers for extra protection.  She used some tea-posts for holding the goatle panel.  They don't taste like tea, but she said that is what they are.  I had to stick around to supervise because of course she gets into trouble when she is building stuff sometimes.  See this bruise she is getting on her ankle - she did that yesterday.  She's such a klutz.
She said I was a mess.  Can you imagine?   I don't know what she means.  I did some decorating with some pretty plants I found in the woods the other day.  See my pretty fur?  My lady says they are burrs.  She says they are hard to get out.  Well that's the POINT!  They are decorative!
Anyway, I'm getting distracted from talking about the hut.  After she built the hut, the other goats came to check it out.  Here are Misky (left) and Opal (front) pretending to look elsewhere, but secretly checking out the hut.
Then Opal did neck rolls and looked at the sky a lot.  She's kind of odd like that.  She does it a lot when there is something new going on.  I think it's a nervous reaction.  Silly Opal.
Then, she got really brave, and decided to check it out.  Misky is still pretending not to notice it.
After Opal deemed it to be appropriate, Coffee came over to check it out with Larke and Misky together.  By then, Opal was right inside the hut.  My lady says Opal looks a bit rotund.  I am not sure what she means by that.  One day, Opal did a sneaky thing and got into the pen with the boy goats.  My lady didn't know how long she was in there, but she said it was probably "long enough."  I don't know long enough for what, but she has this worried look on her face when she looks at Opal.  She says if it was "long enough" then there could be new, unexpected and unintended goats here in December.  I don't  know where they would come from.  I think sometimes my lady has some serious hallucinations.
I was kind of bored by the behavior of the other goats because they are so timid and pathetic because they are afraid of a silly hut, so I was just standing around eating yummy things.  When I was building the hut with my lady, I was jumping in and out of it and trying to get on top of it and everything, so I don't know what those goats were so worried about.
So then ALL the other goats came over to see the hut.  Opal was inside, Horton and his mom, Lotus were outside, and then Coffee was there with her daughters, Misky and Larke.  
Larke gets bored easily, so then she went off and got into the garden bed.  She thinks she's pretty.
After that, Opal lay down in the hut and then everybody approved.
So my lady said she felt better about the goats being in the garden patch now that they had a good place to sleep and stay out of the rain, if it ever rains here again, which is doubtful at the moment.  We goats do dislike being wet, so it's good that they are protected.  Personally, I have the whole barn while I wait for my goatominium to be built.  Right now I'm busy choosing my wall colours and my tile patterns.  See you soon!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I was hacked....

A quick blog post to apologize profusely to anyone who received a fake email from me this morning claiming that I was in the UK and had been mugged and was looking for money.  This is a fairly common scam these days, but some may not have recognized it as such.  My gmail account was hacked and it took me about an hour to work through the details with Google and now it's back to rights, but my entire list of contacts got the scam email. 

The hacker had set up a forwarding address from within my gmail so any responses (like, "Claire, is that really you?") would have gone immediately to the hacker themselves, and they could have responded and told you where to send money.  I trust nobody sent money....please no....

Anyway, the hacker also deleted my entire contacts list from gmail, so I may be missing some email addresses and will have to rebuild it slowly.

One interesting thing I've learned in this mess is that hackers are now using the security questions that one sets for recovering access.  For example, if your security question is "What city were you born in?" and your answer is a known city name, you may be in trouble.  Hackers can run lists of cities through these things and just hit on people's accounts by accessing their security answers, rather than needing to figure out passwords (which are usually more complex than the security answers).  So, it's been recommended to me that security questions should either be the "make your own" type (which are not always offered) or, if you have a limited number of options, come up with a nonsensical answer.  So if the city question is the one you pick, answer it with something that wouldn't be on a list of cities.  Like....10sheep! or something similar.  You can use such an answer for any security question that you don't set yourself, and it's much harder to hack.

Anyway, again I apologize if you got an email from me, and I'm fine, and I haven't been mugged.

Just wait until I get my hands on those goats who hacked my computer!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Am I an "A" or a "B" or a "C" pygora?

Well naturally, I'm an "A" in most everything, because I am Lucky Nickel, goat extraordinaire!  To be honest, I'm pretty much an A+ in everything.  Or even multiple plus signs!  But my lady Claire said that today we are talking about my fibre.  She also said that some people spell it fiber, especially people where we live now, and other people spell it fibre, like in Canada where she used to live, and other countries.  So I am going to spell it fybur, because that is the goat spelling, and I thought you should know.

I am a special goat because I am a pygora.  I thought before that my lady was all confused with these really scary jungle snakes that can crush you, but they are  Yes, that is it, and they are entirely different.  This is a pythagorum picture that my lady found for me online and you can see the photo credit for it in the lower right corner.  She didn't take it herself.

Anyway, pygora goats have one parent who is an angora goat, and one parent who is a pygmy goat.  In my case, my Dad is the angora (his name is Valentino) and my mom, Puffin, was the pygmy, but she died when she had me and that's why Claire is sort of my mom.  See the resemblance?  I am giving her goat kisses.
Pygora goats can have one of three types of fybur - either type A, type B or type C.  Clearly a goat did not choose these designations because they are meaningless and silly.  Now I have to explain to you what each type is because they are nothing to do with letters.  You humans really are quite inefficient.  You are also not good at cleaning your ears, so I have to clean my lady's ear for her, like this.
Type A fybur is most like pure angora goat.  It is up to 6 inches long and it hangs in curly locks.  It is a fine mohair fybur.

Type B fybur is a blend of the pygmy undercoat and the angora mohair.  It is between 3 and 6 inches long and is also curly.  It can be shiny or matte finish and is the most common fleece type.

Type C fybur is a very fine fybur with no luster and 1 to 3 inches long.  It looks coarse in comparison to fybur that is type A or B.

The problem is, my lady isn't quite sure which one I am.  She looked at my fybur today and she says I am getting a LOT more than I had before.  She says I'm getting a thick undercoat.  Here are some pictures of my fybur.  I don't think I am a C.  I think I am a B.
I guess I am getting the undercoat because it's getting cooler outside.  We looked at Horton too.  He is my half brother.  He was born 2 weeks ahead of me and she says his fybur is getting a little bit of a curly look on the tips.  All summer he was smooth, just like me.  Now we are both getting fluffy.  Here is Horton:
...and here is me....
We both look fluffy but his tips are more curly, but like I said, he is 2 weeks older.

Misky and Larke are my half sisters and they come from my dad, but their mom is a mini Nubian.  They are not getting any fluffy bits.  You can see them in the background, with Lotus and her son Horton in the front.  That is their mom, Coffee, to the left - she is mostly black.  They are both white.  Opal is hiding behind Coffee.
So my lady said we would ask the "blogosphere" if they can help us decide what I am.  She says maybe we don't know yet because maybe my fleece will get curly as it gets longer.  I already know but I'm not telling her because it is more fun that way, don't you think?  I think she likes mysteries.  But she loves goat kisses...see?
Goatie kisses to everybody, and please tell my lady if I am A, B, or C.  Thank you!

Saturday, October 2, 2010

My lady has been sick

Yes, it's true.  She has brontosaurus.  It's a thing that happens in your chest, so you cough all the time.  Maybe it's bronchosaurus.  Well anyway, she had it.  She still does.  It's dreadful.  She keeps having coughing fits, and she says it's hard to breathe.  Can you imagine?  I'm glad I'm a goat because I'm not susceptible to bronchosaurus, so she can't give it to me.  She still kisses me, even with this brontochestus thing going on.  I'm not sure if that's really very good, but she says I make her happy, so I guess I will let her kiss me anyway.  She's my mom, after all.  (Well, she's my adoptive mom, but she loves me like a real mom and that's all that matters).

Since she has been sick with the bronchiowhatsit all week, I have to do the blog again.  It's okay - I like doing the blog.  I know that all of you, my adoring fans, also like it when I do the blog.  Today, I am going to tell you about what I do in the barn.  I live in the barn, you know.  It's because the other goats don't like me.  Obviously it's because they know I'm clearly superior to them.  She has tried to put me in with them a whole bunch of times, but every time I either get out on my own, or she has to rescue me.  So, I live in the barn with the chickens.  It's more appropriate anyway, since I grew up in the proper house.  I still don't know why I can't just live in the proper house.  Sometimes my lady lets me in the house for treats.  I get special goat treats.  She says they are "dog treats" that are vegetarian ones with no meat - they are peanut butter and cinnamon flavour.  I like them very much, even though I am not a dog.

Anyway, here are some pictures of me demonstrating to you the good life that I have in the barn.  Here I am with one of my feathered friends.  We like to be in the hay mountain.
I know that you think I'm just standing on a hay bale, but really, I am waaaaay up high!
Did you think that I didn't go higher?  Well, you were wrong!!!
I am very good at climbing Hay Mountain.  When I get up there, I like to choose the best bits of hay.  It helps me grow my best coat.  My lady says that my pythona coat is coming in and it's really soft and silky.  Wait, is it pythona?  Maybe it's pythagorus?  Well it's because my Dad is an angora goat. Anyway, enough of that.
See, here I am about to take a leap to the next level of Hay Mountain.
Hey!  Don't look at my bum!  That's not at all polite!!  I am a very demure and dainty goat and nobody should look at my bum!  I can't believe my lady took a picture like this.
Here I'm showing you how to eat the tasty bits of hay from the best bale.
Sometimes you have to use your hoof to get out the best bits.  Like this....(don't mind the hens, they're just decorative).
Then you just eat the best bits once you have them fished out.
Any questions?  Let me know!  Otherwise, I'll just be eating hay and waiting for the brontosaurus to go away.    Send healthy vibes to my lady.  She sounds terrible.  Like her lungs might pop at any minute....