Hay Day

This Saturday was Hay Day – the day we make the trek over to our favorite hay grower’s property to load the pickup with a few months’ worth of hay.  I bet it was a real nail-biter of a haying season for the growers, as intermittent rain storms made difficult to time the cutting with a few day stretch of sunshine to dry the hay before baling.

The hay grower’s property is just idyllic; to get there, you drive a few miles outside of town, pass a crystal clear creek, drive over a covered bridge, and around a bend.  Their ranch is nestled at the foot of a beautiful hill, with rolling pastures, stately oaks, big barns, and beautiful gardens.

Brian loaded up his trusty pickup (a 31 year old Toyota that runs on veggie oil!)

Ella and Everett helped.  For a few minutes.

Then Ev got distracted by heavy machinery.  This tractor “ride” about made his day.

He managed to load 28 bales on top of his truck!  When we get home, the real fun begins: rigging up a pulley system to transfer the bales from the truck to the hayloft.

Check out that stunt!

Into the hay loft, where it will be stored.  We figure this amount of hay will last about 3 summer months, when the goats are really only getting hay at night, but are browsing throughout the day.

Doesn’t Sable look appreciative?

Hurray for hay day!

Peck, Tiny, and Snow Angel…

Are the names of our new chicks!  Ella has been asking for a “bird in a cage with a perch” for several weeks now. Chicks seemed like the perfect solution.  So we did a quick call around to our local feed stores and scurried on downtown to pick up a few chicks!

We came home with three cuties:  Peck, a Rhode Island Red, Snow Angel, an Americauna, and Tiny, a Speckled Sussex.  They are living happily right next to my desk in an old fish tank!  Not that they spend that much time in their tank.  Ella is perfectly happy being their human perch.

We’re all enjoying watching our “chick tv!”


Tour of the Homestead, Part III

It’s been a glorious week of sun here on the homestead.  Almost makes me think that spring is truly on its way.  Almost.  But the days have been warm and sunny, my seeds in the greenhouse are sprouting, perennials are flowering, bees are buzzing, and grass is growing.  Yes, the green grass is growing. And that makes our goats so very happy.

Our sweet goats.  Currently, we have a herd of six American Alpine dairy goats.  They represent three generations of does.

Nimbrethil is the alpha doe.  She is 6 years old. She is spirited and strong.  Much like my sweet little girl in the background there.

Her sister is Calypso.  Calypso and Nimbrethil came to us as 3 month old kids, when we had to replace a yearling that had been killed by a cougar.  She is easy going and a great milker.

Sable is Calypso’s daughter.  She is 4 years old and so sweet and gentle.  While her dam Calypso is super easy to milk, Sable has been a bit more challenging to milk. She has tiny teats.  So tiny that it’s really hard to even wrap your hand around them.  (Don’t tell any of the other goats, but Sable may be my favorite!)

This is Gilly (short for Galadriel).  She is Nimbrethil’s daughter, 4 years old.  She is the only goat that we bred this year. Can’t you see how gorgeously round and pregnant she looks?  Her kids are due in late April.  She is a fabulous mom and easy milker.  A goat-owner’s dream.

And lastly, we have “Jump in the hayloft Rose” and “Black Black”, our yearlings.  We make it a policy never to name a goat until we’ve decided if we’re keeping them in the herd – too easy to get attached.  But Ella had other ideas!  They are Gilly and Sable’s kids, respectively.

That’s our herd!  Six goats for a small family is a bit overkill, but we do love our caprine friends.  If you have any questions, I love talking about our goats – ask away!

Happy Weekend!

Tour of the Homestead, Part II

Animals are an integral part of our homestead.  Over the years, we’ve cared for ducks, chickens, bees, goats, and pigs to supply us with meat, eggs, milk, honey, and companionship.  These days, we’ve pared it down to chickens, goats and bees.

First off, the chickens!  My handy husband created this awesome chicken house (the blue structure) that is mounted on bicycle tires, and fully movable.  Sticking out of the sides are easy-access nest boxes, and you can access the interior from a big fold-down door in the back, so mucking out the coop is a snap.  They have a little lean-to and a plastic covered tunnel in which to hide out from the rain and snow(!).  And the rest of the time, they are scratching and pecking in their big old grassy pasture.  Pretty sweet digs for chickens.

Our flock was just recently dramatic reduced by a series of kills by hawks and raccoons.  So we’re down to one handsome rooster, and three hens.