Saturday, October 25, 2008


Monday, October 13, 2008

And the Times...Well, They Are A Changin'

Hey there, folks.

I know, I know. It's waaaay to early for another post from me. And yet...

So we are in the full swing of autumn at the farm. And that means shearing goats. Which also means a lot of bodily pain for me, stretching those muscles that only get used twice a year.

But! I'm almost done. I only have one medium sized goat and two little goats to go. Although, we are going to try to sell the little goats so, hopefully, that will be someone else's problem. I mean, gain. Did I say problem? No. I didn't. Someone else's gain, what with that silky kid fleece and all.


I sheared our buck and the two bigger does, one of those being the new one that came home with us when we went to a wedding in West Virginia. Usually you just win the center piece as a door prize but, I'll tell ya, those West Virginia folks really know how to do a wedding door prize right!

Ok, it wasn't a door prize. Picking up the goat just happened to coincide with the event.

So, this is our new gal, Milan. She came with that name.


Note all the hair. I cut that off. With scissors. Because the electric shearing thing? Still apparently costs money.

In other exciting farm news...

We have peeps! Again!

Just a few days ago another one of our chickens showed up with three peeps. I thought it would be a bit late in the year for that sort of thing but that just goes to show I don't know diddly squat about the having and raising of peeps.


The hen, however, does.

Here's hubby introducing the peeps to Fen.


Fen wasn't quite sure what to make of the peeps at first and would just kind of look at them and then look at us all worried like. But now he has kind of decided the peeps are his and chases the other chickens away if they start gettin' up in the peeps' bidness.


And what discussion on the cycle of life would be complete without the mention of breeding goats. Yes, it's that time of year again. The time when the boy goats pee on their bad selves, stinkin' it up for the ladies. And the gals are all "Ooooooo, you smell soooo baaaaaaa-aaaa-aaad."

Actually, they don't stink all that bad. Just a little more goaty then normal.

Since we don't have enough actual pens to separate everyone into their assigned harems, I take the two little boys out of their pens on days when I am home and put the lucky boys and girls together in there for conjugal visits. Then at night, they all exchange numbers and the buck promises to call the does - but it never happens - and they all go back to their respective pens. I'm hoping within the next week to finish one of the new pens so I can just stick them in together and leave them there.

Autumn also brings with it harvest time. Not that I have a whole lot to harvest. I planted some tomato plants in a very poor attempt at a garden this year but... Well, it was sort of neglected. I mean, I got tomatoes and everything, but I didn't have enough cages for all the plants and a lot of them just flopped over from sheer exhaustion. I did get an awesome pot of sauce out of them though.

Also, through no effort on my part, our grape vine had a boom crop this year. So I just picked all the grapes yesterday and promptly forgot about them until 9 o'clock tonight, when I set about extracting the juice. It's sooooooooooo good. I am going to attempt jelly. I'll let you know how that goes.

Other that that, I don't really have a whole lot to harvest. Some little gourds that, God only knows why, volunteer to grow every year. One even grew in the dog kennel. Every once in a while I'll find the remains of some poor, unfortunate gourd that one of the dogs picked off their vine and brought into the house to chew up.

So that's it for our farm harvest: mohair, some tomatoes, grapes and gourds. Not a whole lot, is it? And I have no idea what the gourd commodities are like these days.

Add our pitiful harvest to the housing slump, stir in two college tuitions, and you will have the Perfect Financial Storm that has emboldened me to seek Real Employment. Which, oddly enough, wasn't too hard to find. Mainly because I wasn't being picky. I went to one interview. When the interviewer asked me, "What are you looking for in a job?" I said, "A paycheck." And so now I will be training employees at a grand new warehouse nearby. I start October 26th. This should be interesting.

So, that's the new news on the farm front.

Signing off for now. Going to list three of the kids goats on Teh Internets for sale. Cross your fingers, folks.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Penny for Your Thoughts?

So, I did mention that I might get another post up today and here it is. This one is a shameless post as an entry for a contest sponsored by
and . Not an entry of my writing skills, thank goodness, but for a random drawing, and we all know how much I like "Free"!

I remember once being somewhere - I can't really remember details but work with me here - with my two darling, little cherubs. Maybe it was in the car. Maybe it was in the kitchen. Who knows. At any rate, I remeber they were about 7 and 8 - or 8 and 9 - years old and, on this particular day, Baby Girl asked me, "Are we poor?"

I was really taken aback by this simple query and had to think a moment before answering.

It's not that I didn't know if we were poor or not. We weren't. At least not by Third World standards. Heck, we weren't really even poor by Super Power Nation standards. I mean, we had a roof over our heads. We had four walls around us. We certainly had enough food for our bellies. We had vehicles and jobs and access to health care.


I could kind of see where the question came from.

Scrambling for buckets when the rain came was a regular kind of thing. Learning to layer not only the clothes on your body but also the blankets on your bed was the modus operandi from November to March. And when you come out of school at the end of the day, and your mom is waiting in the line of cars with all the other moms, except your mom is the only mom laying on the ground under the car wiring the muffler back on...well, one shouldn't be too surprised at a question like this.

Their friends, at least as far as my children were aware, did not live like this.

And so began the years long process of teaching our children the difference between being poor and being in over one's head. Or living on the edge. Or thumbing your nose at convention.

Or whatever way you happen to want to spin it.

Because, let's be honest, it can go any way you prefer.

They were now becoming aware of the consequeces of life choices on a much bigger scale.

We had to teach them that we lived the way we did because we chose to do it. That there were certain things we were willing to sacrifice in order to have others. That there were certain things we were willing to sacrifice because they were incidental, and it wasn't really much of a sacrifice after all. And most importantly, if need be, we were willing to walk away from all of it saying, "At least we gave it a shot."

Sure, they had to learn the value of money. They learned how it can hurt when you don't have enough. They learned how having it can make things somewhat easier, but also how it can't solve all problems. How it might get you some of the things you want but that not everything can be bought.

I've seen them experience the easy come easy go, the not so easy come yet still easy go, the not so easy come and I'm really having a hard time letting it go, and the I've busted my butt for this and just try to pry it from my fingers lessons of money. We talked about investing and credit and debt and interest and saving and spending and lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

They had some things but not everything. They joined some activities but not every one they wanted to join. They got to go to some places but not others. They learned that everyone - moms, dads, and kids - are all affected by money.

It's all part of the game.

But more importantly, they learned that money is a tool, a means to and end. They had to learn that there is value in so many things - material things, work, play, freedom, health, land, happiness, knowledge, independence, everything.

How much of my freedom am I willing to sacrifice for the almighty dollar? Would I rather have that extra day of overtime or would I be happier spending it with a friend? What if I buy this item from this store? How will affect someone else? How will it affect me? Would I be better off if I could make/grow/knit/cook/etc. it myself? How might what I choose to do or not do today affect what I may or may not be able to do tomorrow? What is more important to me?

These are the kinds of lessons I wanted them to learn. I think if you know how to answer questions like these, the answers to the money ones fall more easily into place. They are hard questions when you really sit down and try to answer them honestly. We humans are so skilled at rationalizing our shorfalls and blunders.

But I was a little nervous about whether or not we did the right thing. Maybe a small house in town would have been better. Maybe it would have freed up more time and money for other things. Maybe we really screwed it all up after all.

I was always a little afraid that my children would grow up, leave home, and never look back. I thought they might have had their fill of wacky parents with misplaced priorities, living in a drafty old house, in one of those spots in America that time just kind of forgot. I thought maybe they would like to high tail it out of Dodge and say "So long" to the old farm... I certainly wouldn't blame them if they did - they are young and the world is their oyster.

Yet oddly enough, they both have said that they would like to see a bit of the world but are considering coming back to this area when they want to settle down. There has even been mention of living on the farm.

So maybe we're doing alright after all. Who's to say? They may get out into the world and love the change and never come back to the area, but at least they are aware of and open to other options.

Thinking back, I can't honestly say that I ever set out awith the intention of teaching my children anything specific about Money. Rather, I hope that I taught them - and still teach them - that money is just one of the many, many variables that affects a life, but certainly not what defines it.

What really defines a life is how many goats you own.


That's right. Whatever.

I know I'm a bad blogger. At least I've taken the first step and admitted the problem.

But...whatever. is the (seasonal?) update from the funny farm.

When we last met, I told you about ... what. Let me go check. Oh, the kids (human) and the kids (caprine). Well, all kids are doing fine and dandy. Except the one that died and, fortunately, that one was of the caprine variety.

Yes, we lost another goat. Again, I think, to parasites. So, going against all I had hoped for, we broke out the chemical wormers and dosed everyone up. And then gave vaccines. Which, you wouldn't think it would be, but it was a pretty exciting thing what with the possibility that at any given moment after you give the vaccine the goat could get all bug-eyed, stick out its tongue and go into anaphylactic shock. And DIE.

Luckily, that didn't happen. But, I have to say, we are all getting quite the education with these critters. "We" meaning pretty much eveyone within a 10 mile radius of our farm. The people at my dog vet office found the whole goat-going-into-shock thing quite interesting when I called them and begged for epinephrine to have on hand(to counter the possible shock).

Here's the real crazy thing. A friend of a friend of ours just got some goats, and the friend in between called me and was asking for some helpful advice. After my initial reaction of "Why in God's name did they ever get goats?", I was actually able to give her a lot of good pointers. It sure surprised the heck out of me.

Regarding the other kids...

Sonny Boy is in full swing with his second year of college now, although he is still living at home since he is going to one of the local campuses of PSU. Right now he is trying to raise a VW Jetta from the dead. It involves a new engine, some sticks and mud, and strange chanting ceremonies that go long into the night. It is taking up the better part of the summer but, you know, it keeps him out of trouble.

Well, almost. There was that little incident with The Law when he evaded a police officer by riding his dirt bike through a golf course. He did manage to get away but due to the fact that the police officer kind of recognized his bike, and that sonny boy has a bit of a guilty conscience, he turned himself in after negotiating a fine.

That's my boy!

At least he's not hanging out with Republicans.

Baby Girl is in Scotland right now. Yes, that's right. She is spending her first semester of school there. I am insanely jealous, particularly when she emails and tells me things like her one friend's parents have a time share on some island off of Spain and they are thinking of spending a week there at the end of Ocotber. Oh, and since they only have class 4 days a week, they are thinking of taking a long weekend trip to Norway.

She also emailed me a picture of her in a pub, holding a big pint glass of Guinness. Because, you know, she is of leagal drinking age there. So there's that to think about.

But, all in all, both are doing swimmingly well and I couldn't be a more proud mom.

Speaking of proud moms, I thought one of our chickens had become Fox Chow earlier in the summer. They are completely free range, sometimes not coming home for a few days. As long as they have the car back before I have to go to work I don't really mind. But after a couple of weeks doing a head count and always coming up one short, I thought we had indeed lost one for good.

Then one day, Sonny Boy came and asked me where all the peeps came from. My initial reaction was to think that my mother had horded away some marshmallow Peeps from Easter and was now dropping them off, in the perfect state of stale, for hubby. She always deposits her care packages on my kitchen table (which I can never get to the point of Empty!), so I asked him if they were there. He told me that, no, they were outside.

I looked at him wondering why my mother would leave the Peeps outside. Were they on the hood of my car? The grill?

Me: Outside?
SB: Yeah.
Me: ...
SB: ...
Me: Where?
SB: Near the saw mill.
Me: ...
SB: ...
Me: Peeps.
SB: Yeah, peeps.
Me: Like, Peeps peeps?
SB: Like chicken peeps.
Me: ?!!

Sure enough the prodigal chicken - the one I had given up for lost - returned with 10 peeps! 10! All of a sudden the chicken population on our farm had doubled. So that was pretty neat.

And, yes, I said saw mill. Because, wouldn't you know, now we have a saw mill. It arrived sometime, I think, in April and was set aside and covered until such time as we would actually have time to do anything with it. It was immediately forgotten about until that fateful day when I was tracking down the smell of "something dead" and followed said smell to the saw mill.

It could have been any number of creatures - chicken, cat, groundhog - who knows. At least all of the dogs, goats and horses were accounted for. I was so not looking forward to lifting the piece of rubber we had covering it to find out what poor thing went under there to die, and looking even less forward to having to drag the thing out and dispose of it Properly, Properly being Somewhere Where We Can't Smell It. But, someone had to be brave and, since hubby was being brave in his own way (story to follow), it was left to me to do the exhumation.

Imagine my surprise and relief when I found the stink was not that of a dead animal slowly roasting under the saw mill, but merely an abandoned clutch of eggs left by a hen that finally realized if the chicks are going to smell that bad, she didn't want them anyway.

You can also probably imagine my surprise when I learned that, even if you are as careful as can be when removing eggs full of potentially deadly stink, it doesn't matter. Because they explode. That's right. I guess they were full of enough ... I don't know... Dead Chick Gas that the slightest little movement made them go "Pop!"

And boy did they stink.

All I could think was "It's a shame I don't have any mortal enemies right now." And then I thoguht, "I have to make sure I get rid of them before Sonny Boy finds these." Not because he has any mortal enemies, but because I never quite recovered from the time he put an M-80 in a pile of dog poop and lit it. It's a hard thing to forget.

So I just mentally pinched my nose, loaded the eggs in a wheelbarrow, took them to the end of our driveway which is located in that place called Somewhere Where We Can't Smell It, and tossed them into the woods.

Now, I did mention that hubby was busy elsewhere, and that elsewhere happened to be... the roof! Yes, folks. After a Long Time, we are doing roof work on the house again. And this time it doesn't involve hand-me-down pool covers. No, this time it is bonafide roof work involving building trusses, milling molding, buying sailboat windows and everything. Because when we do a roof, we go all out.

To make a months long story mercifully short, we decided it was reasonably possible that we could fix the northern most peaked roof of our house this summer. The inevitable fly in the ointment came when we also had to figure out just how we were going to deal with the small flat roof that kind of connected into this one. Like so...


After quite a few days (and beers) of assessing the situation, we decided what the hell we'll make it a peaked roof.


The sucky thing about roofing is that it tends to take copious amounts of time and money, neither or which we have much of to begin with, let alone at the same time.

But, after many weeks (and beers), we have gone from this ...


... to this ...


Pretty darn impressive no matter how you slice it.

I know. I lost you all at sailboat window, didn't I? Well, as it turns out, all of the rest of the peaks on our house have circle windows in them. As it also turns out, circle windows cost about 5 trillion dollars. So, thinking it would be a bit extravagant to buy a window that cost as much as a Fannie Mae bailout, we started seeing what our other options would be. As it turns out, the most affordable circle windows that you don't build yourself happen to be sailboat ones. So, there you go.

Which pretty much brings us to today. Well, in a very summarizing kind of way, at least. We did add another goat to the herd which involved a long trip home from West Virginia but, really, you've all been through this before with me so I don't really have to go into it, do I?

And of course there were all the other things we all do with our summers - attending composting workshops, breaking into our cousin's house to see if he is still alive, geting a rug loom - you know, the usual stuff. But you've all done that before so I don't want to bore you with those stories.

So, here we are at today and I think you are all caught up for the most part. I am now going to wrap this up and head out to put some fence up. And drink more beers. There is a possibility that I might try to get another post in today in a shameless attempt at winning a contest but I don't know how likely that really is. So, I'll either see you later or laaaaaater.

Peace out.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Now That I've Effectively Driven Off My Readers...

It would appear that my blog is going the way of my EpiLady. Seemes like a good idea at first, but really, it gets boring having your leg hairs ripped out by the root. So it gets used less and less until, one day, you sell your blog, along with a set of Caruso Steam Curlers, for $1.25 at a yard sale.

Anyone wanna buy a blog?

So, if you are one of my long-neglected readers returning, you might be wondering, "Yo. What the crap? What is the big deal with writing a post now and then?" Truth be told, it is quite a big deal for me. I just don't...know. I don't have any ambition for this right now.

But enough of that.

I'll try to fill you in on some things that I've been up to since I last wrote.

Let's go back in time. Waaaay back. Close your eyes.


Open them. (Or not. I guess it all depends if you want to just drift back in time willy-nilly or if you want to actually follow along.)

We're going to go way back to April. April 9th to be exact. What was going on that day? Well, that was the day I was taking my LAST CLASS that I needed before I could apply to take my broker's exam. The LAST one! This, my friends, has been years in the making. Years, I tell ya.

So, yeah. The very last one. It was in a town that I now forget the name of but remember to be a suburb of Philadelphia. Which means a two hour drive for me.

It's not the two hours that I minded. With enough coffee and cd's, I'll happily drive for two years. And it wasn't really the idea of herding myself into the morning rush hour traffic into the city. While it's not my cup of tea, I can deal with it now and then.

No, the problem this day came from, as you might have guessed, one of my goats. The goat I wasn't quite sure was baking little buns in her oven or not. As luck would have it, she was. And as lack of luck would have it, she decided to have them that day.

I don't know if there are words to describe just how sucky that predicament is. On one hand, I have no idea when I'll be able to reschedule the needed class - months, years, whatever. Which means I would have no closure in my Quest for the Broker's License.

On the other hand, I have a goat about to give birth.

After carefully weighing all the options, I did the prudent thing and left my teenage son in charge of the goat.

Well, he didn't really know I left him in charge of her as I poked my head into his bedchamber and yelled, "I have to go to class! Rhubarb might have her babies today! Make sure you keep an eye on her! Bye! Love ya!"

I know he made some sort of response. Something like "Mmphff." But there was no time to waste. The clock was ticking and I had to get to pole position on the turnpike. So I scooted out the door, made one last check on the goat, and headed to the metropolis, making a mental note to call my son every chance I got.

During the morning break I called to see if she had the babies. My son had a vague recollection of something goat being said in the early morning, and was appropriately disturbed to find out he was now on baby watch. "Everything should be fine" I told him, while trying not to think about the potential "Insert your fingers and see what you can feel" conversation. That would not go over well. After extracting a promise of an immediate phone call upon any action, I went back to class.

My next break was around lunch time. I called him again to find that she was still holding out. He was going to go get a slice of pizza.

Me: "You're leaving???"
Son: "Yeah."
Son: "Just for a minute. I'm just going to get some pizza."
Son: "I'll be right back."
Me: "Ok."

About an hour later, I glanced away from the instructor and saw that there was a missed call to my cell phone. I scooted out the door into the hallway and called my son.

Me: "WELL?"
Son: "She had the babies."
Me: "Babies? How many?"
Son: "Two."
Me: "So, how was it? Were the any problems? I guess there weren't any problems because you would have called me if there were problems. Were there any problems?"
Son: "I don't know..."
Me: "You don't know? I mean, did they both come out ok? Did you have to ... do anything?"
Son: "Um. No. I went for pizza and when I came back they were there."
Me: "Oh. Are they, uh, alive?"
Son: (looking) "They look like they're alive."
Me: "Do they look normal?"
Son: "I don't know. Normal for a goat, I guess."

And so it came to pass on April 9th, our black angora goat, Rhubarb, gave birth to two little black kids, Crow and Raven.


(They both look the same so one photo should do.)

Now we're going to travel ahead in time a little bit. Moving forward to the end of May...

May 30th. My daughter. My babygrrrrl. My sweet, little imp graduated from high school.

Where in the world did those years go? One day I'm looking for her little sneaker, trying to get her off to preshcool, the next I'm shopping for shoes to accessorise a graduation gown.

It's all gone in the blink of an eye. It sounds so cliche' but it's completely true.

She graduated with honors and a couple of college credits already under her belt. She's on her way to Arcadia University by way of Stirling University in Scotland, where she will spend the fall semester.

You know, I would love to write something meaningful about it but I am at a total loss for words. Where would I even begin? This child, this person I had a hand in making (hand and other things), is all growed up now.

I look at my son and daughter and think what cool people they turned out to be - despite my involvement. They are smart and funny and just crazy enough to get them in a little bit of trouble and yet keep them out of most. I just can't get over that fact that, for the most part, it's over. It's all kinds of sad and scary and happy at the same time. I want to go back in time and read A Visit From St. Nick on Christmas Eve one more time. I want to sit on the edge of their beds and sing bedtime songs again. I want to get lunch and go to the playground. I want to go to another piano recital and pinewood derby race.

Sigh. It all went too fast.

Ok, that's enough for now. I'll have to bring you up to speed in another post or two. Otherwise this one will get very long, as I lead a terribly exciting life and have lots to relate.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

R.I.P. George Carlin


Goodbye, Mr. Conductor.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Meme

Ok, I've been doing some serious blog neglect lately, I know.

But things are up and spring swinging on the farm so blog goes on the back burner.

I do have some farm related things to write about but, since they involve pictures, that will have to wait as I only have so much ambition tonight.

So I am going to tackle a meme sent to me by Professor J (See sidebar at right. Yes, I am that lazy).

I just want to pause here a moment to thank the Blog God for memes. I know some people can't stand them but, really, they are great in a writer's block kind of pinch. Or a lazy writer pinch. Which is just exactly the pinch I am in at the moment.

I also would like to say during this little pause, that I will one day get back to staying up to date on all the wonderful blogs I have been neglecting to read lately. I am in big time internet slacker mode.

So, on with the meme.

What was I doing ten years ago?

Hmm. 10 years ago would mean I was 28. I would not have been going to my 10 year high school class reunion, because my class didn't have one. Just as I won't be going to a 20 year class reunion this year either. But that's neither here nor there.

10 years ago would also mean that we had been living on the farm for three years. That was still the honeymoon period. Not with my hubby, with the house. It was back when we really still believed we'd have heat some day. And that we'd get the roof to stop leaking. Now, the relationship is more like and old, stinky sock that you lost the mate to but it was one of your favorite pair at one time so you just give it to your dog as a chew toy instead of throwing it out and spend many days just kicking it down the hall as you walk through because even the dog has lost interest in it.

10 years ago would also mean that my son was only 9 and my daughter was 8. Wow. Now that is something that seems like yesterday. Now my son has just finished his first year of college and my daughter is getting ready to graduate high school. How the time does fly.

What are five things on my "to do" list today?

Well, since today is almost over, I'll have to answer this for tomorrow.

Although, when I think about it, the things that were on today's to do list just kind of got rolled over to tomorrow's because there just aren't enough hours in the day. As a matter of fact, when I think about it, the things on my to do list are pretty much some of the same things that were on 10 years ago.

But anyway.

Tomorrow I have to mail invitations for the graduation party, go meet a friend who is writing up an offer on a house, pick the type of brick we are going to use to replace one of the chimneys when we work on the roof this summer (Oh sweet day!), get wormer for the horses, and buy groceries.

Not in any particular order. Pretty much because there will most likely be ten thousand other things that I HAVE to do as well so they get done when they get done.

Snacks I enjoy

Right now, freeze pops. I bought a BIG bag of them a few days ago and I just can't seem to get enough of them.

Also, spicy Doritos. Doritoes? Some help here Mr. President...

Things I would do if I were a billionaire

Pay someone to do the roof so I don't have to be involved. That whole being off the ground thing doesn't work for me.

Also, I'd buy a heater. Probably geo-thermal. And I pay someone to put that in as well.

Then I would buy the stuff we need - what, about a million yards of concrete? - to get our wind turbine up and running.

I'd buy a good camera. And an electric Obvio.


Gah! It's so cute I can't stand it.

I hire someone to finish the things in my mom's house that my dad didn't get around to before he died.

I'd pay off my mortgage and whatever other bills are outstanding.

I'd buy a pair of sexy shoes.

I'd go somewhere where I could wear sexy shoes.

Bet you never thought you'd hear that from me, did ya? Not that I don't loves me my steel toes, but a girl does need a break once in a while.

Places I have lived

Frackville, PA
Mahanoy City, PA
Barnesville, PA

All within a 15 mile radius.

It doesn't seem like much until you consdier the fact that there will probably be 10 Wal-Mart stores in that radius within 5 years. And nothing says "I'm here!" like having a Wal-Mart in your neighborhood.

Bad Habits

I talk REALLY LOUD when I am on my cell phone. I just can't get my brain to believe that a) the person on the other end can hear me, and b) that this teeny tiny little phone will be able to even allow the person on the other end to hear me. It drives my family absolutely nuts. They're always saying, though gritted teeth, "You don't have to talk loud! EVERYONE can hear you!"

I set things down and can't remember where they are. Like 5 seconds later.

I make funny faces when hubby and I dance together. I can't explain it. They are like "Woo! That move surprised me!" We took ballroom dancing lessons together and learned just enough to be dangerous.

Jobs I have had

Concession stand worker at movie theater. Or theatre, if you want to be fancy.
Photographer at Santa Claus and Easter Bunny display at the mall
Substitue teacher, or, wolf food
Customer service representative/correspondent for thermal underwear company. I got to answer all the letters that came in. You would not believe how many people will sit down and write a letter to a thermal underwear company. It's a lot. Some times people would include their phone numbers in their letters so I would call them instead of writing back. Once I called a guy as soon as I got into work. Unbeknownst to me, this guy lived in California and it was something like 5 in the morning there. His wife or girlfriend pick up the phone and gave a real groggy "Heeeellllooo?" And I started in on my schpiel, "Hi, I'm from Thermal Underwear Company, and I am replying to Mr. Soandso's letter..." And she said, "It's really early. Like 5 o'clock." And I said "Soooo, he's not awake?" "Nnnnnoooo" says she. "Hmmm, weeelll do you want to give him a message?" I asked. "Um, no. Can't you call back?" said she. "How about I write him a letter instead?" And we reached an agreement.
Freelance artist
Production operator at a plant that made PVC fittings
Real estate agent
Dump truck loader at a power plant

There might be some others but I honestly don't remember.

Peeps I want to know more about \

This is where I tag other people. So, tag! Do it if you want to, do it if you need a prompt, just do it.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Sure Sign You Married The Best Man In The World

You are lying in bed. Alone.

He woke up before you.

After about an hour or so, he walks back into the bedroom with a breakfast sandwich of fresh eggs from your own chickens, kilbo, and cheese on a freshly baked biscuit. Complimenting the entree is a hot cup of joe, with just enough milk and sugar - just the way you like it.

He hands you the sandwich and coffee and says...

"There. I bet Mr. Darcy never did that for What's-her-face."

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I Cannot Tell A Lie

Actually I can. But apparently not to everyone.

Soooooo...without further ado...

1. I took a gun to school.

You know, I have to wonder what is up when absolutely NO ONE picked this. What, do I look like one of the trech coat mafia? Apperently so.

Well, it IS true that I did indeed take a gun to school. I did not threaten my algebra teacher, even though I would have been the high school hero.

No, the gun was merely a prop for my Demonstration Speech in English class. My topic? How To Clean A Gun. Not that I was demonstrating any particular skill 90% of the class didn't already have.

You know, when I ok'd this with my teacher and principal, the only requirement was that I keep the gun IN MY LOCKER until it was time for class. How crazy is that idea now a days?

Moving right along...

2. My hubby and I broke into our house the night before we bought it.

Again, I have to wonder about the kind of vibes I put out into cyberspace as only one person picked the breaking and entering as the lie. This might give me a complex or something.

It would be well deserved because we did break into the house the night before we bought it. But we had good reason to. At least in our minds.

You see, the house we bought was sold at auction.

And let me just take a little break here for a public service announcement.

Don't ever buy a house at auction. Unless you have a spare mind and soul.

Back to our regularly scheduled post.

We went to the open house because Hey! a farm in our area! Going for auction! Woo hoo! But while we were at the open house, we spent most of our time wandering around thinking "Wow" and "Wouldn't it be cool?" and such. NEVER thinking we would actually buy the darned place.

Flash forward a week and a half to when we decided "Why not? At least give it a try."

So we prepared ourselves to go to the actuion and watch in dismay as the price spiralled ever upward, out of our reach. But! We forgot the fact that we never really looked at the house. You know, with the discriminating eye of a person that actually intends to live there.

We knew there wouldn't be time to check things out - like the elcetircal system and heating system - the day of the auction so it was decided that we had to break in.

See? We had to do it.

Fortunatly, the house was vacant. For something like ... oh.... 7 years. So no big worry there. Also fortunately, one of the windows was left open so we technically didn't "break and enter". It was more like "gently push the window open and enter". I think the sentence for that crime is a little more relaxed.

Here's a funny little aside to that story. As if the story itself isn't crazy enough. When my hubby was in the basement checking out the furnace, I was sitting at the top of the basement steps going through a box of letters that I found on a shelf. Now remember, this was at night, so we were doing everything by flashlight. So there I am, merrily reading along when, all of a sudden, the door behind me opens and there is a flashlight shining right in my face (Hello? Deer in headlights? Hi!) and a gruff voice saying "WHAT ARE YOU DOING HERE???!!!"

To which I replied ", hummina, hummina..."

And then my dear, darling hubby said "It's me."

And then I threw the box of letters down and set upon him in all my fury for having been made to almost wet my pants.

Ah me. That's a nice little story, isn't it?

So, yeah, I broke into my house.

Which brings us to...

3. I have had a needle in my foot since I was 9 years old.


I still remember the day I stepped on this needle and the sickening feeling when in snapped off in my foot. The sickening feeling didn't come from the pain of the needle going into my foot. Nor did it come from the knowledge that is broke off in my foot, a situation that could lead to all sorts of possible complications, not the least of which was having a piece of needle float through my bloodstream and get stuck in my brian.

No, the sickening feeling came from the thought of having to tell my mom.

So I didn't.

For about 3 or 4 months after I got the needle in my foot, I had a little black spot at the point of entry. I remember sitting on the floor one day and pressing on the black spot and having a piece of the needle come out. Eewww, I know.

So, problem solved.

Or was it?

Then, much later in life, when I was 23 or so, I was doing some home rennovations on our first house and spending a lot of time going up and down a ladder. During the course of the project, I had been wearing $2 tennis sneakers - the kind that give no support whatsoever, especially for folks spending a lot of time on a ladder.

Anyway, I ended up with a REALLY sore foot. So sore that I actually thought I might have broken it stepping down off the ladder or something. I finally broke down and went to the ER where they x-rayed my foot. The doc looked at the x-ray and said "You know, you have a needle in your foot?" And I was all "Really?!! Wow! That's been ther forever!"

We - the doc and I - decided that it made me a much more interesting person so we decided to leave it in there.


4. I rode in a motorcycle race.


But I have every intention of doing it one of these days.

5. I rafted a Class 5 whitewater river.

Yes indeedy I did. It was the Gauley River and I'll just let the river folks tell you about it...
The Gauley River
The Gauley River is one of the most challenging in the world. The Upper Gauley is highly technical, requiring great skill to negotiate its narrow chutes and machine-gun rapids. It ranks in the top five in the world for whitewater adventure. The Lower Gauley is a complete, all-in-one rafting experience that features numerous big Class IV and V rapids interspersed by broad pools and tremendous scenery.

Pretty impressive, huh? You might also be impressed to know that we did this in the fall and it was REALLY, REALLY cold. You might also be impressed to know that we drove there from PA, arriving shortly before shove off time, rafted 22 MILES of crazy river, and then drove right back home.

You will probably not be impressed to know that we all cried like babies all the way home because our arms were SO SORE. So sore. I ache even now just thinking about it.

Which brings us to...

6. I caught a runaway cow.

Oh yes I did! Actually it was me and hubby. We were in New York, having a little vacation at my parents' cabin. I forget exactly where we had been but we were on our way home and, what do you know, a cow! Just moseying along the road. We drove past it and just looked at each other like "That was a cow. Not in a fence."

So we turned around and went back, caught the wayward cow, and brought it back to it's farm.

Now a days I'd probably try to find a way to just bring it home.

So! There you have it!

And the winner, drawn by lottery from all correct guessers, is....


Nadzent! Or my couzint-in-law, Nancy!

And she wins a box of Tasteykakes!!!! Woo hoo!!!

I'll have to email you and let you know what kind are at the store.

Thank you all for playing!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Painless poverty is better than embittered wealth

“You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them,” Obama said. “And they fell through the Clinton Administration, and the Bush Administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

Some folks might be wondering what a person from the mining towns of Pennsylvania might think about this. I shall attempt to enlighten yous all forthwith.

Wait. Let me put my gun down. There we go.

…my opinion on the comme…


Hold on, my rosary keeps getting tangled in my fingers as I type. Leeeet me just put that right over here. There, I hung it on the scope of my rifle.

Ok. Now where was I? Ah yes, the quote from Mr. Obama.

Well, you know, when the mines all closed 25 years ago it was really har…

What? They what? More than 25 years? Since after WWII? Really?

Well how do you suppose that mix up happened? The mines done went and closed a whole long time ago. Way more than 25 years. Sheee-ut. Whaddaya know?

And I can really sympathize with the folks that say the unions brought them down. Of course they did! It’s the unions whut’s wrong with Merica anyway. Anyone knows that. The unions destroyed our great and mighty nation with things like safe working conditions and such. How’s a body to make a profit anymore? Dang.

Anyway, I think I’m getting off track here. So, yeah, lack of jobs. Why, most everyone I know is on the dole. I’m third generation unemployment myself. Because there wadn’t nuthin’ but mines here. No stores. No other factories. Nuthin’.

‘Cept Wal-Mart.

Once them mines left, why, the only new thing that came into town is Wal-Mart. The government brought that in, you know.

So’s we’re bitter now. Real bitter.

Specially ‘cause Wal-Mart don’t sell no Merican made stuff. We don’t like buyin’ nuthin’ twadn’t made in Merica. But it’s cheap, so that’s not so bad after all. But us folk ‘round here just don’t understand that Wal-Mart’s gotta go getting stuff from outside of Merica. We want cheap stuff made in Merica. We’re all An-ti-trade.

And bitter.

An’ they brought immigrants and not-coal-region-people in to work at Wal-Mart, makin’ sure to keep us folks oppressed. Sure they did. Which makes us even more bitter.

And turnt us all An-ti-immigrant.

It don’t make no never mind that all those miners was immigrants to begin with. We only have room for so many and we don’t want no one else comin’ round an immigrantin’ the place all up. We don’t want them here ‘cause the mines closed, see?

Why it’s gotten so bad we had to turn to God ‘n guns. We hold a requiem mass every Sunday for the coal industry and then we all go out to our local former breaker and give a 21 gun salute.

And it’s a shame ‘cause we never even knew what God and guns was before the mines closed.

I have to hand it to Mr. Obama, he came here not knowin’ much about us here folks and he hit the nail right on the head. Shoot, he’s pretty smart for a politician.

If they’d just open them mines back up, we could stop goin’ to church, huntin’ deer, avoiding Chi-Chi’s…

It’s a good thing we don’t have to worry about stuff like the war, the economy, the environment, health care an such. Thinkin’ about that stuff might get us all confused onnacounna we got our heads all busy with being bitter ‘bout the mines closing. It’s a good thing we got folks that know words like “antipathy” taking care of things.

I only got one gripe an’ one gripe only with what you said, Mr. Obama, and that is, if you done went an’ scared off all those immigrants I was plannin’ on sellin’ goat meat to, I’ll show you what bitter really is.

I was the son of an immigrant. I experienced bigotry, intolerance and prejudice, even as so many of you have. Instead of allowing these thing to embitter me, I took them as spurs to more strenuous effort.
- Andre Bernard Buruch

*I didn't forget about the Pick The Lie prize. I promise I'll take care of it this week.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Just Popping In...


Ok, I promise that very soon I will address the former post and let you know who the winner is and what, in fact, they have won.

But in the mean time, here is something very important and interesting for you to read.

Monsato's Harvest of Fear

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Meme me me me me meeeeeee.......

Ok, so I got a little jumpstart from Blog Antagonist with a meme thing. Which is a good thing because I keep thinking to myself "I really should post something on the ol' blog."

One of these days I'll sit down and write a real post again. As opposed to this post, which is just a figment of your imagination.

So, the meme is to tell 6 unimportant things about myself, with one of those things being a fib. A falsehood. A big, fat lie. And you, my dear readers, are supposed to guess which of these things is not like the other, in that it is not fact.

Ok, bombs away.

1. I took a gun to school.

2. My hubby and I broke into our house the night before we bought it.

3. I have had a needle in my foot since I was 9 years old.

4. I rode in a motorcycle race.

5. I rafted a Class 5 whitewater river.

6. I caught a runaway cow.

Ok, now for the fun part! You guess which is the lie and post it in the comments section. And, in the spirit of my Meme-or, I am also going to offer a prize to the winner of a random drawing from all the corrct answers. Or all the answers if no one guesses correctly.

And the prize will be ... I don't know ... um ... well, something special.

Good luck!

Oh, and I have to tag 6 people.

So, Professor J, my seestor, my couzint-in-law, steph, pocklock, and my brudder-in-law.

Monday, March 24, 2008

God Damn, America!

I'm not big on political debates. My politics fall into the same category as my religion in that it's what I believe, I don't care if you agree, and I'm not going to debate it. If you don't happen to agree with me you can just go right on ahead being wrong.


Anyway, I try to avoid politics like the plague when it comes to my blog. It's just how I am.

Having said that, I have to comment on the recent goings on with Obama and his pastor. And my comment is this...

Mr. Obabma... Barack ... I am disappointed in you.

When given the opportunity to comment on your former pastor's 9/11 speech, you blew it.

He's "like and old uncle who says things I don't always agree with."

Fair enough.

But you don't agree that the US was being the bully on the playground? Or do you just not have the moxie to say that you do?

This was a perfect opportunity to bring it all to the forefront. Drag America's dirty laundry out into the spotlight and say "God damn, America. What the hell is up with you? Why are you buying big, expensive homes when you can't even pay your credit card bill? Why are you bitchin' about the price of gas when you drive a pig? How can you have the nerve to cry about the 4,000th soldier to die in Iraq when YOU CAN'T EVEN CONTEMPLATE THE THOUGHT OF CUTTING BACK A BIT ON YOUR CONTINUOUS CONSUMPTION???!!! God damn, America. Wake the hell up already."

But it didn't happen. Because I guess that kind of talk doesn't win the primary. Or the election. Or anything, really, but dirty looks.

So, there it is. To me, Obama has become the not-Republican, the guy who I suppose I will vote for if he is the one to come out of the primary the winner. But I won't be thrilled about it.

Of course, this all comes on the heels of my recent viewing of "Who Killed The Electric Car?" So I'm all kinds of fired up to begin with.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Happy Monday!

Here's to never ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever getting so old again.

The Waterboys - Sweet Thing (by Van Morrison)

Friday, February 22, 2008

Some More Photos From The Farm


So I finally remembered to take my camera outside with me yesterday and snap some picture of the animals. I didn't get everyone but I figured some is better than none at this point.

So, first up are some updated pictures of some of the babies.

Here is Magnolia, Prophet and Oleander (left to right) with a little bit of Gyra's head in the very far left.


And here is Magnolia by herself in mid-chomp on a leaf.


She is getting big and lanky. And bossy.

Here is Oleander, striking a pose.


She is pretty much the same size now as Maggie and Prophet even though she is two weeks younger. I guess having the oven to yourself makes for a little more growing room (Nancy, take note).

I also figured I would introduce you to the bigger guys.

This fellow is Faja or, Red Hot Faja as he is know in the registration books. He is our boer buck and he is just over a year old.


Pretty impressive, huh? Yes those horns are big and yes, he knows how to use them. I always have to be on my guard with this guy. He isn't particularly agressive but he sometimes gets silly when we go in to feed them. I don't think he quite understands that cracking skulls is not everyone's idea of a good time.

Today when I went to feed him, he started getting a little bit pushy. Usually he'll stop on his own but sometimes I have to grab him and get his head on the ground. After a while he'll say "Uncle" so then I know it's ok to let him go. Then he acts like nothing ever happened.

Here is our angora buck, Titan. He came with that name.


He's about half the size of Faja and probably about a third of the weight. Fortunately, he is all about the food and doesn't bother to play games at all.

I am going to have to shear him soon. That ought to be fun.

And last but not least, I have an update picture of Fen.


What a good looking dog!

I tired to get pictures of the other babies but they were having none of it. I also tried to get some pictures of the horses but I made the mistake of taking the camera with me at feeding time so all I got were pictures of close-up noses.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

So Many Things to Write About, So Little...

...I don't know. Desire?

No, that's not it. I want to write a blog post. It's just...


I feel like I am spinning my wheels because I can't seem to get anything accomplished. There just aren't enough hours in the day.

And it's tax time.


But enough of that.

So, my sister is famous! How about that? Ain't she somethin'? All featured in the newspaper and all...

And she mentioned me. Woot!

But most of you probably know that already since I think most of you read her blog as well. But if you don't, you should. Do it.

Let's see... What else?

Oh, I spent a lovely day at the main campus of Penn State University with my sister-in-law. We were attending - get this - an all day workshop on small ruminants. That would be sheep and goats for the non-ruminant-familiar folks.

And, I have to say, I learned quite a bit. I was a little scared going because I am, after all, a greenhorn in the goat business. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that there were folks who were even dumber than me! I mean ... um ...

Really though, it was not only good to find out how much I didn't know, but it was nice to find out that I did know some stuff after all.

The conference was organized by the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, of which I am a proud member. The conference was actually several days long and consisted of many, many workshops. Unfortunately, finances dictated that I could only attend the one day. But! Next year I am hoping to go for a couple of days. They have workshops on everything from beekeeping to methane digesters to cooking bio-diesel to growing your own veggies. So many things! So, next year I am there!

And speaking of goats, they are all doing fine and dandy. The little ones are getting really big now. I keep meaning to get some more pictures and post them (because I know you are all just about dying to see them) but I keep forgetting. Maybe tomorrow.

And speaking of Penn State University, I have a bit of a call to action if you are interested. I got an email today that informed me that the Pasture Systems and Watershed Management Research Unit located at PSU's main campus is one of 11 research labs slated to be closed due to federal budget reductions. I am going to quote the email here ...

... This facility does research that benefits all the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic States., such as improving grazing practices for dairy cows, and reducing pollution into Chesapeake Bay. Their work is practical in nature; they work not only in the lab, but right with farmers in the field. In the last 10 years, they've received many awards for their scientific work and published over 600 scientific papers.

The lab's goals include.... (1) Identifying grazing management strategies that optimize the utilization of mixed-species pastures and reduce input costs for pasture-based producers. (2) Developing profitable farm production systems that reduce nutrient losses to ground and surface waters and gaseous emissions to the atmosphere. (3) Determining optimal management and environmental benefits of bioenergy cropping systems to reduce production costs and increase yields.

So if any of that means anything to you, send a note to your Representatives and Senators and say "Hey! No!" Because it affects you. Or someone you know.

And speaking more of goats and school and stuff, I am taking an on-line course about raising goats.

No. Really. I am.

What a world we live in.

In other exciting news...

My dear little babygirl was accepted to Arcadia University. With a nice academic scholarship to boot. Woo hoo! She so takes after me.


But really, we are at least ten kinds of proud.

What else, what else...

I suppose you are all eagerly waiting to find out how the meditation is working for me.

Me too.

When I get around to doing it again I'll let you all know.

Hopefully my meditation will lead me to enlightenment on what to do about my cats.

I have spent like $250 on cats at the vet in the past two weeks. One cat has swollen feet. Swollen feet! At first I only noticed it was one foot and I thought it would be something easy like extracting a nail out of his toe or something, but no. No, this cat has some sort of auto-immune disease that causes his feet to swell. So now he's on steroids.

I'm hoping the Yankees will pick him up in the next draft.

And the other cat is in kidney failure. This cat is probably the most personable of all the cats even though he is pure evil. So now I have to feed him special cat-with-kidney-failure food which is probably going to cost more than the food we eat.


What are ya gonna do?

Although, I am hoping to get a copy of Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats. It's supposed to have some homeopathic ways to help with the kidney thing.

I'm sorry it's a whole lot of jibber-jabber with no rhyme or reason. I can't seem to stick to one coherent thought for more that 2 minutes these days. My brain is like "Goats! Horses! Real estate! Taxes! FAFSA! Dogs! Cat medicine! The other cat medicine! Hay! Groceries! Pay the bills! AHHHHHHHHH!"

So I'm going to call it a post and go do my goat homework.


Monday, February 11, 2008

Halloooooo Out There!

Hi there. Long time, no post - I know.

I know I haven't updated in a little while.

Not a whole lot new but I'll just fill you in a few little items.

My seestor gave me the book eat, pray, love for Christmas. I have finally started reading it and I am very happy to say I like it a lot. (Thanks, sis!) I'm not going to get into the whole gist of the book here but I will say it is a great read. Although, if you are easily influenced, be careful.

I've always had a bit of interest in meditation but never really gave it a try. In the one section of this book, the author is in an ashram in Inda learning Yogic meditation. I became so inspiried by this (easily influence? moi?) that I decided now was the time to start.

Now, a large part of this section of the book deals with the author's difficulties with meditation so I didn't really pin my hopes on a transcendental experience right of the bat. I just wanted to try it.

So, I sat myself on a little pillow (to ease my perpetually sore tailbone) on the living room floor, closed my eyes, and tried to relax.



Here is the little dialogue that went on im my head.

Maybe I should chant something. A mantra perhaps...

But they're usually Sanskrit and, let's face it, you have a very limited knowledge. You don't even know how to pronounce any of it for sure.

Ok, well...maybe I can just think it in my head and not say it out loud?...

Um...NO. Because if you say it in your head you still have to know how to say it.

Oh. You're right. Well then...I'll just make up my own and say it in my head.

Fine. Whatever.

So, I sat there and tried to think of a mantra.

... chunk-a, chunk-a ...

Then I thought that I could go get the book and look to see what mantra the author used and just figure it out to the best of my ability.

... chunk-a, chunk-a ...

Then I thought, no, don't get up now. I have to learn how to just sit still if this is going to work.

... chunk-a, chunk-a ...

Ok, quiet now. Relax...

... chunk-a, chunk-a ...


... chunk-a, chunk-a ...

Just let the mind slip into calmness... a mantra will come to you...

... chunk-a, chunk-a ...

Sigh. Ok. Fine. My mantra will be "chunk-a, chunk-a" but I'm not going to say it out loud.

So, inspired by the crunching of the coal furnace, I set about meditating, concentrating on chunk-a, chunk-a.

To my surprise, I sat there for a good 20 minutes. Until the dog started scratching at the door. And the train started drumming its way up through the valley.

Alright, I admit, it's nothing compared to meditating pros but I was pretty pleased with myself. I decided that day that I was going to get up early every morning and meditate for a little while.

And that's the last time I meditated.

But! I still intend to do this. As soon as I can get myself up early enough.

And as soon as spring comes.

Because it's cold. Really cold. And the thought of sitting still without being directly attached to a space heater or electric blanket does not sit well with me right now.

I had to heat my lunch up twice today. Once before I started eating it and then again half way through.

Out of curiosity, I decided to check the thermometer. The thermometer in my kitchen is a make-shift cooking thermometer that came from Godknowswhere. It only goes down to 50. The little arrow was below that, buried in the bottom.

Ok, so not 50. The ice on the inside of my windows could have told me that.

There is only one other thermometer in my house and it's in my bedroom.

Should I? Shouldn't I?

I had to know. It would be like going through some kind of testing and never knowing the results.

I went into my bedroom and looked at the little thermometer.


Thirty two de-freaking-grees!

That would mean that the warmest place in my house is inside the refrigerator.

Ok. I'm exaggerating. Inside the furnace would be the warmest place with the refrigerator coming in second.

And to think that I said to my hubby last night - last night after we went out in the dark to attach walls to the bottom of the goat feeder because all the big goats were pushing this one small (not baby, just smallest adult) goat out of the shelter because they are all bastards and the only place she had to go was under the feeder so we decided to close it in so she's out of the wind, and so we froze our fingers and toes off doing this in the whipping wind and 5 degree weather - "It's not too bad. The worst of winter is over."


I'm just kidding. I truly believe the worst of winter is over. Even with this minor cold snap. The sun is shining today, all the animals (including the ostracized goat) are fine and spry, and the temperatures are supposed to start slowly climbing back up. All is right with the world.

So, hang in there everyone who is at their wit's end with winter. We're almost there!

Edited to add...

I forgot! God smiled down his love upon our family this weekend, and that love was in the form of meat loaf.

I'm not a huge fan of meat loaf but we had defrosted some ground meat (in order to make room for ALL THAT BEEF) and my hubby made meat loaf.

If you are a meat loaf fan, I highly suggest you try the recipe found the the Joy Of Cooking cookbook - the one with bacon. The recipe not the book. You know what I mean.


Friday, January 25, 2008

A Not Goat Post

Alright. So it seems as though the only thing I write about any more is goats.

And while that might be understandable as they are pretty much consuming my life right now, I still feel like ... well, enough goats for now.

I've been reading some other blogs where people are suffering from a bit of writer's block lately. It must be going around. Not unlike the sinus, chest cold thing I am currentlly not acknowledging.

I know I've never really tackled Big Important topics on my blog like Politics, Religion, Dancing With the Stars, etc. I tend to keep it a bit lighter and uncontroversial. Mainly because I get enough daily debate from my hubby and children - I do not nee to get into cyber arguments.

But I also never intended for it to become a Goat Blog either.

So, today, I am not going to post about goats.

Rather, I am going to bring some attention to two of my pet causes.

1. Responsible eating

As you might have guessed from the beef post, I am a big fan of grass fed meat - beef, pork, poultry, etc. Pasture raised meat is so much better for you, the environment and the animal. And, to be quite honest, my priorities are exactly not in that order.

In the interest of sparing the easily queased, I won't post any pictures. But google "factory farm" or "slaughterhouse practices" and go exploring a little bit. See what you find. It isn't pretty - I assure you.

But what's a conscientious omnivore to do?

I'm so glad you asked! You can start .here at the eatwild web site. If you check the links on the left hand side, there is a page you can go to where you can look for farmers in your area that raise livestock on pasture. And if there aren't any in your area, many will ship meat to you! Usually, the more you buy the better the price, so check with your family, friends, neighbors, etc. It really can be an economical alternative.

2. Animal testing

Take a look at this.


That would be Ruby (sitting) and Jasper (in repose).

Ruby came into our family via the internet. A little while back, Harold at Another Monkey, posted on his blog about some beagles in need of a home. He was made aware of the situation by a friend of his. As it turned out, there were a group of beagles at Cornell University that were slated for The Big Sleep if homes were not found.

I emailed Harold and he put me in touch with the friend who then put me in touch with the woman in charge of the beagles. I told her that we would take one and made arrangements to pick one up.

When we arrived, we were shown the beagles that were ready for placement. There were 4 girls. I would have taken them all. As it was, they had other people coming to adopt and assured me that they all had homes to go to.

I don't know what kind of testing was done on Ruby. People sometimes ask me "Aren't you worried about the tests they did?"

No. I am not.

We brought her home and introduced her to Jasper and Malachi (who was still alive at the time). She got to walk inn grass for the first time in her life. We let her run loose in our yard - something she never ever experienced.

It was a little sad at first, because all she ever knew was the chain link kennel with the concrete floor. But, over time, she learned how to be a regular dog.


Whatever that is.

After we got Ruby, I started to do a little more research on animal testing. Again, I won't post photos because they are really awful and you can easily find them yourself if you want to look into it. But, people, please look into it.

What I found were pictures of dogs with cones strapped onto their faces, being forced to inhale cigarette smoke for hours at a time. I found pictures of cats with electrodes implanted into their heads. I found pictures of rabbits in cages with cosmetics being forced into their eyes.

And then I found the pictures of their little bodies in trash bins.

I can almost understand the medical industry doing animal testing. Almost.

But I cannot understand the need for animal testing in cosmetics. And cigarettes. And paint. And cleaners. And so on and so on.

Especially when there are companies out there that can bring their product to market without animal testing.

And so, again, what to do?

Well, I came across which is an organization that gives consumers a way to find products that aren't tested on animals. Go to their shopping guide and search for the products you need.

Also, with many cosmetics, you can check right on the back of the package to see if the company tests on animals or not. One warning, some may state "Finished product is not tested on animals". While it's a start, the Leaping Bunny certified products do not use animal testing in any phase of the production.

While I was at the grocery store recently, I was checking the labels on hair care items. I was pleasantly surprised to find that Alberto V05 shampoo and conditioner is not tested on animals. And it's cheap! Also, Nexxus does not do animal testing. So I may no have that sleek and shiny Pantene hair. Oh well. It's really not all that important to me in the grand scheme of things.

Okay, that's enough for today. I don't know how to cleverly wrap this all up into a whiz-bang ending. I'm just trying to point out some of the things we take completely for granted, some of the creatures that needlessly suffer because we just aren't paying attention. It doen't have to be this way

Thursday, January 24, 2008



I guess it's time for an update.

Let's see...

Our goat, Opal, finally had her baby this past Tuesday morning at 1am. It was FREEZING COLD! I went out to check on her at midnight because she was acting a little jittery that day and, sure enough, our old friend Mucus String was there.

So I went back inside and told my hubby not to bother putting pajamas on because we have a baby on the way.

I was kind of concerned with this one because she seemed like she was straining and pushing for a while. I kept checking the book and it said that if they are pushing hard for over 30 minutes with no visible progess it's time to consider that there might be a problem.

Just as we were getting to cruch time, we started to see the nose and feet. Poor Opal was really screaming. Finally, the kid slooshed out. It is a little girl and her name is Oleander.


And after she came out, I could understand why Opal was loud. This baby is BIG. Probably close in size to the ones that were born two weeks ago.

It took a little while for mom and baby to get things coordinated but eventually they got the hang of feeding and everyone is fine now. We finally made it to bed at about 4am.

We were supposed to leave at about 8am that morning to go and pick up an order of beef. Back in the fall I ordered a whole beef from Wallace Homestead Farm in north central PA and Tuesday was the pick up day.

Well, we slept a bit late.

Anyway, we were on the road by 10 and back home by about 3 with 630 pounds of beef.

That's a lot of beef, even if you are splitting it with someone else.

We delivered the beef that was going to other folks and then spent the evening trying to get 315 pounds of beef into our freezer.

The top shelf is completely full of 1 pound bags of ground beef. Hubby calls it the Wall of Beef.


And here is a shot of the bottom 3 shleves of the freezer.


Have you ever seen so much beef in someone's freezer? I'm amazed by it. Sometimes I just open up the freezer when I walk by to behold the wonder of all that beef.

This will probably hold us for the year. Maybe longer. I never really buy a whole lot of beef at the store. I'm not sure why. It's not because I don't like it or anything.

But now I have scads of beef. And good-for-you- beef too. Because the Wallace's are nice people who don't pump their animals full of bad things.

When all was said and done, the beef came out to $3.75/pound, vacuum sealed and ready to go. That's pretty good if you ask me. Sure you can buy ground beef cheaper in the store. But what do you know about that beef? I met our beef's mom and dad. And that is also $3.75/pound for the best cuts as well - something you will definitely not see in the store.

So, yeah. Beef.

That's all the news on the farm front for now. I'll ty to get some more pictures of the kids up soon.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Free Publicity

Hi there.

Ok, so I got a tag of sorts from Harold at Another Monkey.

As best I can tell it is a sort of blog chain letter where a body adds her/his blog to the list and then forwards it on into cyberspace.

So here's the list:

The Strategist Notebook
Link Addiction
Ardour of the Heart
When Life Becomes a Book
The Malaysian Life
What goes under the sun
Roshidan Cyber Station
Sasha says’s
Arts of Physics
And the legend lives
My View, My Life
A Simple Life
What Women REALLY Think
Not Much More Than This
Life In The Lost World
The True Tales of a Minivan Mama
"Life" is a Noun
Christie Silvers
Marla's Fun Stuff

My Pretty Face
Simone's Butterfly
Just a Flip Flop Mom

Stone Soup
Gill's Jottings

Wakela's World
Modern Day Goddess
Livin With Me
Are We There Yet??
Everything And Nothing
Little Wing
The Babblings of Whimsicalnbrainpan
Another Monkey
Multiple Synchronicities and Sclerosis
Skeet's Stuff
The Dreamtime

Life, Or Something Like It
Ink On Paper

Almost Quintessence

My Distractions In This Modern Age
If I Were Queen of the World

I think it's all geared towards increasing traffic to one's blog.

Now I am supposed to add five people and comment on their blogs and pass it forward.

However, I can't pick just 5 people for fear of offending the Not Picked. And, having just spent I don't know how long pasting these godbarn links in because I don't know if there is an easier way to do it, I hesitate to inflict this on everyone.

So, dear readers, I will leave it up to you. If you would like to join in on this, please feel free to do so. And if I am breaking the good luck chain by not specifically tagging more people, I apologize. I'm not a big one to really push my blog. I guess people who have ads and such might want to try for a bigger readership but, honestly, I'm not all that driven.

Now I will have to go and check out some of these other blogs.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

This Is What I Did Thursday Night

You have to kind of turn up the volume - this isn't quite the best quality.

I would be the one singing and playing the banjo.

I wish.

Ok, so that's who we went to see Thursday night. It was my big sis's early birthday present for me. That would be Uncle Earl - a five woman strong old timey string band.

It. Was. Awesome.

I knew Abigail Washburn (the banjo gal) was amazing but these five women together ... just incredible! AND, Rayna Gellert is one of the best fiddlers I've seen in a while. And the fact that I don't get out much any more is no refection on her talent.

So, I hope you enjoy the video and the song. This is my new brain worm, or ear worm or whatever you call those songs that get stuck in your head.

And, just in case any of you were thinking otherwise, MY sister is the best.

Monday, January 14, 2008

And Then There Were Thirteen.

Has it been over a week already?

Dang. Time sure does fly.

I had every intention of starting a new Project Goat Watch this past week but things didn't quite work out. As you all know, we've had our hands full with the new goatlings for the past couple days but things sort of finally settled down.

Until Saturday.

Saturday we picked up our NEEEEEEEEW PUPPY!



Ah luuuuuuuuvs me some puppies!

Can you tell I'm excited?

With everything we have going on right now, I am sure you are wondering "Why on earth did you get a puppy?"

Well, other than the fact that I LOVE PUPPIES!, we were looking for a dog to help keep an eye on the goats.

I know you're thinking "Suuuuuure. Goats. Right." But really, it's true. I have actually been researching this for over a year now. You see, eventually we are going to get to the point where our goats will be in areas not quite so close to the house, and we do have coyotes in the area. Actually, I'm kind of surprised that we haven't had any run-ins with them yet - knock on wood.

So I started to check out what other goat people do. The options were a dog, a llama or a donkey. Oddly enough, llamas and donkeys are very protective. I really didn't want to get a llama and, after checking with our farrier and finding that next to nobody will work on donkeys as far as hoof trimming goes, the obvious choice was the dog.

The next step was to start researching the preferred breeds. As it turns out, they are all fairly similar in that they are big, white and very protective. The big and the white I could deal with. It was the very protective thing that was holding me back a little bit. Each breed that we considered - Maremma, Kuvasz, Anatollian Shepherd, Great Pyrenees, Akbash, Polish Tatra, etc. - were all great for protecting livestock but not so great for farms where a whole lot of people stop by unannounced all throughout the day. And, after having lived with an Akita for 12 years, I did not want to row that boat again.

I know, I know, socializing is the key. But still. A breed that has been honed to protect will very likely do just that.

And so the search continued.

Then, one day, I came across an article in one of the various anti-establishement, hippy-dippy, "Hello, Homeland Security!" magazines that we subscribe to, about Farm Collies. This article described a dog that was descended from the old working collie of the British Isles, having no set standard as far as physical appearance since they had long ago fallen out of fashion in the show ring, and able to do pretty much anything when it comes to farm help - herding or stock dog; watchdog; guardian of the home place, livestock or family; predator or rodent control; gundog; tracker; accountant; marketing strategist and more.

This piqued my interest. I had to know more about this "Farm Collie".

So I started researching further into it and found that the Old Farm Collie esentially has disappeared but two breeds - the English Shepherd and the Austrailain Shepherd - were derived from that breed. A little more reasearch and I eventually found my way to a breeder in the Finger Lakes Region of NY. I called her back in the summer and we had a rather long phone conversation about our farm, what kind of dog we need and life in general. We were pretty pleased with each other and she said she would keep me posted on litters.

She had a litter near Halloween but, based on the mother's traits, she advised holding off and waiting for a litter that was due near the end of November, coming from a mother that exhibited a little more of the characteristics we were looking for.

The litter came and she kept us posted on the puppies, letting us know how they were developing and how their personalities were shaping up. We didn't get our hearts set an any particular one - we wanted to just wait and see how they were in person. Dog.

Finally, this past Saturday, we were able to make the trip. We got to meet the breeder - a wonderful lady who really knows her dog stuff - mom and dad, and the puppies. It didn't take too long for our puppy to find us.

After a looooong ride ( I got lost in the north woods of Pennsylvania. Some people refer to this area as God's Country - I now refer to it as God's Forsaken Country.), we finally got our puppy to his new home.

And so I introduce to you, Fen, our English Shepherd.


He has alredy been helping out with the farm chores, even if it is just following us around while we tend to the various livestock. Although, today, he was going to try to fend off the killer rooster. I intervened and saved him. Not yet, little guy.

Speaking of various livestock, you know how I mentioned earlier about starting up the second Project Goat Watch? Well, Sunday morning I went out to feed everyone and while I was getting some grain, listening to the normal complaining about how long I was taking to get everyone their food, I heard one particular complaint that sounded much more ... complainy.


Oh, no.

Oh no, no, no, no, no.

Not today.

You see, I was dealing with a new puppy, a very sick hubby that was leaving the following day on a five day trip, and week-old goats. I did NOT want to hear what I was hearing.


I went over to the pen with the other two pregnant boer goats and, sure enough, there was a sac of water hanging out of Iris.


What the crap??!!

So, I dropped everything and got down to business. See, this girl was still out in the big pen, not in the Birthing Room. Which, inconviently, was still occupied by Gyra and her babies.

Since I already ran you through a goat birth, and since I didn't have my camera on me, I will try to give a fairly short version of what happened.

I ran into the house, opened up the bedroom door where hubby was convalescing and yelled "Iris is having her babies! I need help NOW!" And ran away again.

My poor husband.

Things were quite different for this birth - no special room, no Baby's First Photo. No, these kids were plopped right on the ground (on feeding bags) in the goat pen. How bourgeois. Or, I guess, boergeois. Hee.

She had two babies, one boy and one girl. The girl was the second one to come out and was decidely smaller. We needed to get them somewhere warm pronto.

So we had to move Gyra and her babies to a new pen and move Iris and her newborns into the Birthing Room, albeit a little after the fact. The After-Birth Room, if you will.

I'll tell you one thing. Some goats are very hard to move. Moving some goats is like trying to drag a 150 pound sled across the dirt with the sled constantly digging in.

Consequently, I am a very sore being today.

We got everyone settled and then set to work making sure baby girl goat was dried off and warm. Then I gave her some Goat Boost to help get her going. That's not what it's really called but it's pretty much what it is - electrolytes and such. Like goat Red Bull.

It must have done the trick because she seems to be doing just fine now.

Iris's babies

The rest of the afternoon and evening was spent getting another shelter slapped together(which I eventually had to leave to my hubby and son in order to run errands), picking up feed and supplies and helping hubby get ready for the trip. The day is a toatl blur.

Finally, at about 11:30 that night, I sat down to check my email. That's when I came across the email asking for feedback on the house I showed at noon.


Oh darn.

But (and this leads us full circle back to the title), now we have 13 goats!

You'll be happy to know that the client I unintentionally stood up studied animal science (coincidence? I think not), and was very understanding of the fact the he was forgotten in the midst of the birth.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

BIG NEWS!!!!!!!

The Blessed Event has occurred!!!!

Yes - today our goat, Gyra, finally had her babies! Cigars all around!

I checked on her last night and she seemed pretty restless so I set up the watch, going out to check on her in 2 hour intervals. Hubby had work today so he went right to bed. By 4am I had enough and figured nothing much was going to change between then and 7am when I had to get up for church.

In the morning I woke up and got dressed for chuch and peeked in on her - still nothing going on.

getting ready

After church and breakfast with the in-laws, I came home and started about my daily chores. I did the spine-squeeze thing when I went in to feed her and I could wrap my fingers right around the bone.

Hmmm...I better keep an eye on this.

I was going to go drive by a house for someone out of the area and snap some pictures to email so I went back in and got changed into not-farm clothes. On my way out to the car I stopped and peeked in on her one more time. And this (oh, remember when I said I would warn the faint of heart ... or, I guess, queazy of stomach ... before I post graphic pictures of the births? Well, consider yoursleves warned) is what I saw...

mucus trail

That would be a big string of mucus.

That's one of those things I read about in the book that means "Get ready, goat farmer, because the baby is on its way."

So, I turned around and dashed back into the house, kicking off my shoes, tossing gloves, as I ran upstairs to get changed out of not-farm clothes and back into farm clothes. Judging by what I just saw, things might get messy.

I ran back downstairs, pulled my boots on, located the kidding kit that I carefully put together over the previous weeks, located my "Raising Meat Goats for Profit" book, grabbed the camera, and dashed back outside. I peeked in on her again to see this ...

water bag1

... and was all "AHHHH! Hold on! I don't have everything yet!"

I dropped all the stuff outside the Birthing Room and ran back to the house.

For what?



Why did I come back in here???!

Oh, yeah. Newspapers. The book says to lay out newspapers so the baby can just plop onto them and then you can pull it around to the mother's head so she can lick it off.

Back out to the birthing room.

By now she was starting to push in a getting-down-to-businees sort of way. I donned my latex gloves and opened the book.

... you will soon see a bag of water protruding from the vulva ...

Yeah, yeah, yeah. What next? What am I supposed to look for? Oh crap. What do I do??!!

Skip ahead, skip ahead...

... you will soon see two little hooves and a nose ...

Check the goat again...


Oh God! There's the nose! Are there two littl hooves? Wait ... Oh crap. Get out of the corner. I have to see if there are two little hooves!

At this point Gyra laid down with her butt wedged into the corner of the Birthing Room. I figured I'd just let her go for a little bit and see how things went. Just to be on the safe side, I jumped ahead to the part of the book that tells you what to do if there are difficulties with the birth. After a little while I checked on her again and saw that she wasn't really making much progress. Upon closer inspection, I noticed that only one hoof was visible with the nose.


Check the book, check the book...

If you only have one hoof and a nose presenting, then the other hoof might be just a little bit back (just put your finger in a little ways...

Oh. Oh. My finger. In the goat. Oh. Ok.

...where the hoof should be and feel for it). In which case everything will probably go just fine, or you may need to pull on it a little to get it together with the rest of the program.

Oh. Fine. Here we go.

So, yeah, I put my finger in the goat and found the other hoof.

I rock.

After that, the baby just kind of plopped out on the next push.

But not onto the newspapers as planned. Because Gyra started eating the newspapers as soon as I laid them down. She obviously didn't read the book.

So I grabbed a feedbag and put the little goat on it. I sucked out his little nose and mouth with a bulb syringe, and pulled him around to mom.

just born baby boy

The book said to let her lick the baby off for a bit and then dip the end of the umbilical cord and the hoof tips in iodine.


It then said to wrap the baby in clean towel and put it butt first into a bucket so mom can still lick it, baby will stay put, and the next kid can be born - if there is a next kid. The kid in the bucket will usually just fall asleep.

trying to restrain baby boy

Baby obviously didn't read the book either as sleeping was not on the agenda.

baby boy waaaaaaa

If there is no other kid, the next thing to watch for is the afterbirth.

second water bag is that? Afterbirth? Another kid?...

After about 40 minutes of watching mom walk around with this ... bag of water hanging out her, she finally started to push again and, what do you know, a nose and two hooves this time!


just born baby girl

Baby number two!

cleaning baby girl

So we have a boy...

baby boy

... and a girl.

baby girl

I called hubby to give him the good news. We are bonafide! Woo-hoo!

Much thanks to Gail Bowman who is the author of "Raising Meat Goats for Profit" (from where I took the excerpts), for writing such a good, instructive book. This book is like my little bible right now.

The only thing I would add to this wonderful bit of writing is a warning to someone assisting in a goat birth that, once the babies are all dried off and on their feet, they are so darn cute you might just squeeze them to death.

I stayed to make sure the babies started nursing and to be sure that there weren't any more on the way. Mom delivered the afterbirth and promptly ate it.

eating placenta

Live Action Shot of Mother Eating Placenta!


So the waiting is over. We had our very first livestock birth and are feeling all kinds of proud. Mom and babies have settled in nicely, the weather is cooperating, all is right with the world.