June 30, 2012
We were busy little June bugs. Here is what has been going on:
Last July, while on our way up to New Hampshire to visit Bailey’s parents, we stopped by the American Dairy Goat Association’s 2011 National Convention in Springfield, Massachusetts. We don’t plan on ever showing goats competitively, but we wanted to check it out. There was no actual showing going on at the time that we were there, so we just walked around, chatting with folks and looking at goats. There were hundreds and hundreds of goats, but one really struck my fancy. I already knew that I liked Nubian goats, with their big floppy ears and their distinct “Roman” noses, and this particular one was a beautiful brown color with white spots. I remember talking briefly about how much I enjoyed that lovely Nubian as we finished the breathtaking drive into New England.
Ten months later, Bailey and I were enjoying a delicious lunch at Mrs. London’s in Saratoga Springs in celebration of my birthday. I told him that all I wanted to do for my birthday was work in the garden, enjoy a productive day on the farm, and cook a nice, low-key dinner together. But he insisted that we put on clean clothes and go out to a special lunch. I didn’t really want to, but he told me to trust him. Now I don’t like surprises, probably because I have control issues and I don’t like being the center of attention. I knew that he was up to something, I just didn’t know what.
After lunch, he said “let’s go on a little drive.” “To where?”, I asked. “Oh nowhere. Well, somewhere. You’ll see.” “Are we going to the airport to pick up my mother? Are we going to a haunted corn maze? Are we going to a garden center or nursery? Because we don’t need anymore plants right now. Wait, are we going to pick up an animal? We don’t need anymore animals. Well, unless it’s a peacock. Are we going to pick up a peacock? Omg. You didn’t buy more chickens, did you? Wait, is it a goat? Seriously Bailey, we already have way too many mouths to feed right now. If you got me livestock for my birthday, I wont’ be happy. We talked about this. No more buying animals without talking to me about it first! What is it? Where are we going? I hate this.” “Shush,” he said. I don’t know how he puts up with me.
Long story short, we were on our way to Sweet Spring Farm to pick up a brown spotted Nubian goat kid that Bailey bought me for my birthday. Had had been planning this since last July.
Admittedly, I was a little prickly about it at first. We really do have a lot of mouths to feed. And I really do hate surprises. (At least I say that I do.) But I fell in love with her on the drive home. And I realized that we’re going to be OK. In fact, we’re going to be better than OK. Yes, feed is expensive and bottle feeding is laborious and she is not part of our breeding program, but that doesn’t matter. What matters is that we’re happy. I’m the luckiest man in the world to have someone so wonderful do something so thoughtful for me.
I named her Cordelia.
We got a late start, but the garden is finally looking good.
Our landlord looked at us like we were crazy when we showed him where we wanted its borders to be. “These boys must like a lot of work,” he said to his granddaughter. It looked big, but not too big. Plus, there was no obligation to plant the whole thing this year. Generously, he hooked the plow up to the tractor and tore up a big section of his lawn, then we went through with the disc harrow. (I’d like to point out that I did all of the attaching and detaching of the various implements to the tractor. Running around, hopping over things, hammering stuff into stuff. I even got splashed in the face with hydraulic fluid. It made me feel like a man). Then after a whole lot of rock picking, we roto-tilled the whole thing.
While the county that we live in is well known for its rich, fertile soil, it isn’t amazing up here on the top of the hill. But it’s alright, and it will get better and better every season.
You name it, we’ve got it. Cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, collards, onions, potatoes, corn, tomatoes (75 tomato plants!), at least a dozen varieties of squash, melons, beans, herbs galore, peppers, eggplant… It’s a lot, but not too much. We plan to spend much of the summer canning and preserving so that we can eat from our garden all winter long. Sure, it is a lot of work, but we love it all. Weeding might not be the most fun job in the world, but the payoff is worth it. Plus we get to spent time together, outside, next to the goats and pigs, listening to the birds, overlooking the pond, making beautiful and nutritious food that we get to share and enjoy. What could be a better way to spend time?
One of our Icelandic sheep finally lambed about two weeks ago. We did not know when they had been bred, so we had to play the waiting game. At Easter time, we thought for sure that they were both about to go. Instead, they just got wider and wider. The day before Orka lambed, we knew that it was close. Three, we decided. There had to be at least three lambs in there; she was so hugely pregnant, photos couldn’t do it justice. But alas, she gave birth to just one gigantic ram lamb. He was a little slow to take to the teat, but he’s doing well now. Orka is a wonderful mom, and Aster is being a loving auntie as she awaits the upcoming arrival of her own lamb(s).
This is the first lamb of Marvin, our ram. And it was just a few days after Father’s Day!
We’ve just been calling the lamb Lamby. Bailey referred to him as Adam Lamb-bert this morning, which was clever, but it’s not going to stick. As soon as he was born and we looked between his little legs and saw that he was a ram, we knew what his future looked like. While we think that he is just as precious as can be, we never fail to remember that we will be eating him someday.
While on the subject of proud papas, we did the math the other day and realized that Brady, our Guernsey buck, is going to be getting a lot of high fives in the locker room this fall. We’re expecting him to impregnate 11 of our does for next spring.
I experienced poison ivy for the first time. It was really quite awful.
We went to a chicken swap yesterday. Bailey has been to a couple, but it was my first. Take one part tailgate party and one part garage sale, but replace the beer and knick-knacks with poultry, and you’ve got a chicken swap! We found out about it at the last minute and the timing wasn’t ideal, but we’ve got a lot of birds right now and it’s time to purge. So we got up early, rushed through chores, and loaded up a bunch of cages. Now, chicken swaps aren’t just about swapping. Selling happens too. And I made very clear before we left that we would absolutely not, under any circumstances, be acquiring any new birds at the chicken swap. Well, unless it was a peacock.
Anyhow, we met some nice people (as well as a good number of crazy chicken people) and sold a whole bunch of birds. Bailey had to leave for work about halfway through the event, so I was left to hold down the fort; and I have to admit that I really impressed myself. When it comes to our poultry, I obviously know what breeds we have, all of their characteristics, where they’re from, how old they are, etc., but Bailey is the expert between the two of us, so I happily let him do more of the talking. But after he left the chicken swap (can you tell that I like to say “chicken swap”) I jumped right in, chit-chatting with everyone about all sorts of things. I started rattling off duck and chicken info that I didn’t even know that I knew! And I found that I’m not too strict when it comes to price negotiations, especially with middle-aged ladies, but I think that that’s OK.
The pigs are great! We love watching them and touching them and talking about them and looking at pictures of them and checking on them and feeding them and spraying them with the hose when it’s hot outside. We love them. Pippa, however, never seemed like a Pippa. It is a good name for a pig, but it just isn’t right for her. She is now Tilda. Tilda Swineton.
There’s a good number of barn cats in the barn. One of them had a litter of kittens. Two of the kittens were looking really sickly so we brought them into our porch so that we could make them well and then find them loving homes. One died. The other one is doing great. We didn’t have to look very hard to find him a loving home because he weaseled his way into our hearts. We love him and he loves us. He likes to drink warm goat milk out of a fancy green juice glass. His name is Cookie Salad.