Saturday, January 21, 2012

Frosty Bamboo Goat

I went to bed last night after driving home in a slick mess but woke up this morning to a beautiful ice forest.  I knew what I had to do.  I set the kettle on the stove for tea, told Pat to find some batteries for the camera, and fished around in the refrigerator for a soft apple.  While the water was boiling for tea, I heard a hollow splitting sound and quietly thanked myself for parking the car far up the driveway.  The large pitch pine that had been leaning since the blustery winds a few days ago finally fell under the weight of the ice.  I watched it tumble down from the kitchen and heard the ice cover needles go crunch against the driveway.

After I made some tea I put more water on the stove for "goat soup" and popped chunks of cut up apple in the microwave with some dry oatmeal to warm up.  I filled a bucket up with the steaming warm water and trudged down to the back yard with that and the warm apples and oats.  Goat was very happy to have some apples and "goat soup."

In years past when we've had ice, some of the bamboo would lean down and touch the ground.  I was stunned to see that almost all the bamboo was touching the ground.  The electric fence was rendered pretty much useless with the bamboo leaning on it.  Legend didn't seem in any hurry to leave his nice house with steamy "goat soup" and oats.  

In fact, he seemed amused that one of his favorite delicacies was within easy reach.  The only problem was that now it was a frozen vegetable.  

I wanted to assess how bad the leaning was because sometimes the bamboo doesn't stand back up again after been weighed down.  I don't think we'll lose all of our bamboo but I'm guessing a good portion of it will suffer.  Bamboo is one of the "three friends of winter" so it will take a beating but will recover.  The only reason I worry is that for the bamboo to sprout this spring it will rely on the sugars stored in the older canes from the previous year.  Damaged and removed canes from last year = not as much bamboo in the spring. We'll see.

On a more pensive note, seeing my bamboo green and limber in the ice is an omen.  It reminds me that even if conditions around me may not be sympathetic to my ideal, if I remain flexible enough to continue traversing to my goal, sooner or later I will get there and even live to see another day.  If not, I might suffer the fate of the broken pitch pine that now lays in my driveway.

Legend says, "Yeah, okay crack head lady.  I'm going to munch the leaves now."  He nibbled some of the icy bamboo before heading back for more "goat soup" instead.  

One of the first things I noticed when I stepped outside was the lack of traffic noise.  Even though we are out in the country, there is usually some kind of noise pollution.  If you can't hear the traffic from 64, you hear the neighbor's tractor.  If you don't hear the neighbor's tractor, it's the other neighbor's lawn mower. If it's not the other neighbor's lawn mower, it's the other neighbor's four wheeler.  Don't get me wrong.  I don't blow a head gasket over these things but I do get excited when all you can hear outside is the "click, click" of ice falling and the chirp and flitter of birds.

I noticed a dead log under the overhang of bamboo and how it made an inviting little grotto.  I decided to crawl in and take my camera with me.

It was nice and quiet and every once and again some ice would cascade down among the leaves as a bird would hop to and from the canes.  It looked like a large green glass sculpture all around.

After a while, Legend came down to stare at me and assess whether or not I had lost my marbles.  Sometimes there is nothing wrong with sitting in the quiet and enjoying it for as long as it will last.

I took tons of other pictures but that will have to wait for another post.  Going to go enjoy the day now!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Legendary Experience

Well, it has been a very LONG time since I've posted.  Here is one of the main reasons for my lack of communication.  Meet Legend.  He's a 6 year old Nubian wether.  Friends of mine were moving to a new house in a neighborhood that could not accommodate goats.  I was more than happy to take Legend off their hands!  Legend is actually kind of special in that I know his lineage.  My friends got him from a mutual friend who has ties to a local dairy.  Legend was so named because his mother was named Myth and his sister's name was Fable.  Anyway, I was coming to the realization that I was in need of more fertilizer than I could produce with my compost tumbler and my worm bin.

This whole process came about pretty quick.  I have to admit I wasn't prepared.  Thankfully my friend helped me set up the electric fence because the "duh" expression on my face pretty much summed up my experience with setting that kind of stuff up.  I failed that part of my country upbringing.  We fenced him into my garden and I turned my cucumber trellis into a goat house.  My husband had a roll of Tyvec that we used.  Though handy, that turned out to be a huge pain.  When the wind blew or it rained, Legend would freak out at the noise.  When it rained the water would pool in between the trellis rungs and the supports broke a couple of times.  I didn't have a manger either and the hay I subsidized his diet with ended up being pulled around and peed on.  Not a good situation for anyone.  But, through this whole time my husband and I were planning and constructing a goat house on skids.  I made a naive plan and we borrowed a truck and took a trip to Home Depot.  I wished we had took some in-process photos but the goal was finishing the project not documenting it.  A borrowed circular saw helped us out a TON!  I gotta get one of those.  As we built the shed, I was becoming worried because I didn't realize how damn heavy it was going to be.  Gone were the dreams of Pat and I tugging it down the hill.  We had a neighbor with a tractor that I was going to ask to help us out but no, we own Subarus.  Pat insisted that he pull it down with his Baja and position it with my Forester.  This is the part where I take a seat and pop a few more anti-hypertension meds.

Pat learned quick to proceed with all this when I was at work so I wouldn't have a cow or blow a head gasket.  We constructed the shed in the driveway because that was level and we hadn't dug the pad for it to rest on yet.  In hind site, next time I EVER have to do this, I will build things on site because this was a pain.  Pat had fun.  I just chewed my nails and lost my hair.

Here's another shot of our Baja "agricultural all terrain special" tugging the shed along.

The real treat for Legend was that with this new shed his fence would be expanded to the entire back yard.  I took a shot of the back yard and highlighted it in red.  The plus side is that in the spring all that becomes my garden!  Yay!  At first he was hesitant to come to the new end of the yard because originally there was electric fence there and he was afraid of getting shocked.  Eventually, he explored all of it and now we like to race back and forth with him on the "Legend Speedway."  He especially likes to race around if he thinks he's going to get some grain.

Here's a shot of the finished goat house.  As you can see, it's resting on a steep grade.  We got in with some shovels and leveled out a pad.  The roof faces the prevailing wind so that he has respite from that.  I found some awesome feed bins that hook over 2X4's.  We installed a manger that makes feeding SO much better.  He likes to chew the bark off that log and balance on it from time to time.

He loves to pin me in after I've given him grain.  Maybe he'll hold me ransom for more grain.

Okay, so I'm really proud of our manger because at this point I had returned the circular saw we had borrowed.  Pat bought the 2x2's for this project but the other wood was scrap we had left over.  We didn't have anything to cut the plywood with but a miter saw, a hack saw, or a pruning saw.  Pat wanted us to use the pruning saw but I said that was stupid.  I ended up using the pruning saw.  I'm beginning to discover that crow isn't half bad with a little salt.  Anyway, I'm proud of our ghetto construction manger. It's stout and makes feeding so EASY.  Just chuck the hay in there.  Before we were tying it in bundles and stringing up.  It was a huge pain.

Yeah, for anyone that cares, I'm proud of the drainage ditches we dug so that the run off wouldn't pool under the house.  That clay tends to do that.  So, when I was editing this goat glamor shot I happened to notice that his tongue was out.  What better way to end this post than with a goat raspberry!

Goat Raspberries!