Thursday, June 30, 2016

When did you say you were due? Adventures with Fluffy, 2016

Fluffy is approaching her due date so we're keeping a weather eye on her.  Every time she makes the slightest grunt, we jump and check on her.  I suspect she's now grunting for her own amusement (hey, girls! watch this: GRUNT!  Did you see how fast they jumped? ha! ha! let me do it again!).
I'm ready for my snack!
 It's so good to have purpose in one's life.....
Meanwhile, the boys are growing fast and soon will be ready to strike out on their own.  Constantly exploring and playing, the bigger girls sometimes will join in the fun.  Aunt Dorothy plays the goat version of Hide-and-go-seek which appears to consist of the boys hiding their heads behind a large object (while their other ends stick out like warning flags) while Dorothy walks around and around until someone is found.  Once found the hider races about gleefully bleating then goes and hides again...usually in the same place as before.
Peek-a-boo!  Where's Lightning?  Where could that boy have gone?
One just has to pause, watch, and smile.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Ninety degrees meanwhile out with the goats, 2016

I'm always surprised at how resilient Boer Goats can be.  This breed originates from South Africa and has become one of the best meat goats ever bred.  As other animals, including the human variety, head for the shade or the AC, the Boers are all out sunning themselves, enjoying the lovely day.
 I'm the first to admit, that I love our goats.  They are such personalities!  Fluffy is herd queen.  Although very pregnant, no one challenges her.  First to the pasture.  First to the water bucket.  First to eat.  First to get pats.  Everyone waits patiently until Fluffy indicates everything okay.  She's sweet as can be to the boys, gently correcting them when necessary. 
The boys are busy!  Like little perpetual motion machines with only two settings: High and Off.  Like most toddlers, they race every where: hurry to the pasture! hurry to the barn!  hurry to the feed tray! hurry to the milk wagon! hurry to see what grandma brought!  Most pictures I take of them ends up where one or the other is blurry.
I think I saw some cookies in Grandma's pocket!  you knock her down, I'll grab em!
I think I caught them sharing a secret.  We'll never know.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Early Days of the rainless summer, 2016

The west coast is on fire.  The Mid- and Southwest are struggling with high temps.  The South and Southeast including Texas are struggling with flash floods.  Here in the Northeast, although temps continue to be relatively mild, we've received nearly half as much rain as we had by this time last year.  Spooky.

On the plus side, the late cold temps in Spring caused many of the blossom heads to drop making culling fruitlets a much simpler task.  The dry conditions add to the fruit drop.  Too much water stress however can cause fruit trees to not bear the following year, so we have to be vigilant.
It's easy to forget that trees need supplemental watering in warmer or dryer weather.  Setting up a sprinkler in the early evening may seem like a great idea however one needs to consider how much competition  for the water your tree may have.  Flowers, grasses, and other trees are all taking up the water being applied.  Additionally, the drier the ground, the more difficult it is for the soil to hold water and not allow it to merely run off.  At My Happy Acres, we start by moistening the soil around the tree before giving each one a long drink.
Determining how much water to apply to each tree is a simple calculation.  Begin by measuring the circumference of the trunk.  Divide this number by 3.14.  This will give you the diameter (D) of the trunk.  Multiply the diameter times ten to get the number of gallons needed (D x 10 = #gal).

Although there are gizmos out there that will allow a user to precisely me asure the amount of water flowing from one's hose, most households produce enough water pressure that using the calculation, diameter times five, will tell you how many minutes of water flow will provide your tree with its water needs.  (D x 5 = Minutes)
Remember that it's important to measure your trees.  Although many of our trees were planted four years ago, some are slow growing and others are more robust.  The Sansa for example are only 1.4" in diameter however the Northern Spy are nearly 3".  The difference is in the variety.  Some grow fast.  Some grow more slowly. 
Take care of your trees and you will be rewarded in the fall with some lovely fruit!

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Goats and the Apple Orchard; Spring 2016

Not long ago a friend of mine asked why I didn't just put the goats into the Apple orchard and use them for weed and grass control.  Think of it this way: offer your family a choice of salads.  One salad is made up of plain lettuce.  The other salad is fruit-flavored and delicious!  Now offer the choice of eating grass or eating apple trees to a bunch of happy, always hungry goats.  What do you think might happen?

After trimming and pruning some of the apple trees, we took a bucket of 'snacks' over to the girls to enjoy.  Fluffy immediately started hoovering up leaves as fast as she could munch.  The bucklings watched Jellybean closely as she sampled the branches.  She allowed them to pull leaves from the branch she was nibbling on.  In short order, the lightbulbs went on and boys were soon scampering after leaves of their own.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Warmer weather, warmer smiles to share; Spring 2016

There is very little idle time on the farm.  When living in the city, I had little appreciation for the hours spent at the park watching the kids play or quietly reading in the shade.  I have no complaints.  I get up with the sun.  I am greeted by the happy smiling faces of my dog and goats.  Even the chickens want to snuggle up in my lap if I sit down for a moment near the coop.

Jellybean's bucklings have been growing fast.  This morning they each weighed in at more than 40 lbs!  All they want is to wiggle, get pats & scratches, and play! play! play!  Then, after a quick snack from mom, take a nap in the sun, then play some more.
It's Grandma!  Look how fast I can run Grandma!  Here I come!

I'm Grandma's favorite!  Are not!  I'm her favorite! Quit pushin! Moma! He's pushing me! Quit!
Fluffy is due just after the Fourth of July.  I feel so sorry for her sometimes.  She's nearly 70" in circumference.  I'm sure she's carrying at least twins (which is not unusual for Boer goats) but it may be more.  I can only hope that she's as good a moma as Jellybean has been. 
Fluffy is tired of being pregnant.  She's so big she can't reach all the itchy places.  She was trying to use scratch her back foot with her horn the other morning.  She wiggled this way and that way and stretched and contorted, grunting with each yoga position she attempted, never quite reaching that pesky foot.  Finally she laid down, periodically stretching that back leg to wiggle the foot.  Poor baby. 
Don't mind me.  Just let me lay here and moan.  A cookie would make me feel better.  Just leave the bag.  Really I just want one...or two...or...
She might not be able to run as fast or as long as the other girls, but she still romps and plays tag.  Then lays down with the boys for naps.  I suspect she feels that July can't come quick enough.  Hoping for happy, health babies and easy births.