Sunday Homestead Update

As we close in on celebrating Thanksgiving, the weather has finally turned cold here in the Rockies.  This is unheard of for our area.  The autumn has been so warm compared to what it usually is.  We have enjoyed every extra moment of good weather and accomplished so many outdoor projects – it has been great.  And now we happily welcome the colder weather and snow.  We feel much more prepared for winter than we usually do, and that is comforting.

Goat Escape

The goats are gate bullies – specifically Gretchen goat.  We have warned the children about this fact, but sometimes it is easy to forget things when you are 9 and love the goats.  Little Miss was sent out to give the goats some fruit scraps.  It was assumed she would throw them over the fence, but Little Miss has really fallen in love with the goats.  She loves to spend time in the barnyard petting them – and they love her attention.  So she decided that opening the gate and going into the yard with them to pet them while they ate the fruit would be much more fun than just throwing it over the fence.  The ever-bossy Gretchen saw her opportunity and plowed through the gate and Little Miss with Heidi goat timidly following her.

Little Miss, being the scrappy and yet petite thing she is, grabbed onto Gretchen’s neck and tried to wrangle her with all her might.  Gretchen, outweighing the wee one by about 3 times as much, plowed on without even noticing the little girl attached to her neck, digging her heels in, and frantically screaming at the top of her lungs.  Heidi continued to follow behind timidly.

Meanwhile, in the house, I began to wonder what was taking so long, and sent Young Man out to see.  I heard a yell from the door – “THE GOATS ARE OUT” and instantly we were all headed full blast out the back door.  With Young Man a full 5 strides ahead of me, I look up the hill to see Little Miss dragging along beside Gretchen, holding on for dear life and screaming for help while Gretchen plowed her way up the hill determined to go somewhere – anywhere.  Heidi, seeing us all coming, realized that they were busted and stopped just as Young Man got to her and grabbed her.  I weaved around them, yelling to Little Miss “Don’t let go!” because despite the fact that she couldn’t stop the determined Gretchen, she was at least somewhat slowing her down.  I finally got a hold of Gretchen and began wrangling her back to the barnyard, past the placidly waiting Heidi with Young Man.  As I got her to the gate she really dug in and gave me quite a wrestling match as she did NOT want to go back in.  Finally got her in, and Heidi nicely walked back in, looking at Gretchen like “I TOLD you we weren’t supposed to go out!”

And by the way…where was our hero farm dog, Tundra, while all of this was happening?  That dog has made it into so many excellent farm stories where he is the superdog who saves the day.  But not this story.  He chose to sit in the barnyard and watch us all attempt to keep the goats from taking off to the woods to be eaten by any number of predators.  I expect he was yelling out advice – “That’s not how you herd a goat!  Bite her!  Be more aggressive!  Who is the dominant species here!?  Have I taught you people nothing!?”

And what of the fruit scraps?  Apparently freedom is more important to Gretchen than fruit scraps.  She was not interested in coming back into the barnyard for anything, and once in she let Heidi have all the scraps.

As the gate closed behind the escapees, Little Miss and I crumpled into an exhausted heap and started laughing so hard we cried.  I can’t imagine what the entire thing looked like to a fly on the wall, but I’m guessing it was pretty hilarious.  Hooray for my scrappy Little Miss, a farm girl at heart who will take on an animal three times her size and not let go.  And yes, she learned her lesson about not opening the gate – dragging behind an escaped goat is an excellent way to learn a lesson for good.  😀

In other goat news – the vet came this week and both does were confirmed pregnant.  Yay for that!  First kids due Feb 15, second round due early March.

Sheep

The sheep are still at the breeder, but this weekend was shearing time, so Mtn Man and Young Man went down to help with the process.  Our girls were included with about 75 other sheep shorn at the breeder, which means all hands on deck to help move them around and deal with the fleece.  It was a fun day for them and it was good for them to see our ewes.  The breeder decided Toffee is still too small to breed – she is quite a petite girl – and we don’t want to risk her health.  So only Violet and Fiona will be expecting in the spring.  However, some other things in life have shifted, and we are trying to be flexible and bend our plans accordingly.  So, in line with that, we will likely be bringing home 1-2 other pregnant ewes when we bring our girls home from the breeder.  From those ewes we will hopefully get a ram lamb that we can raise up to be our own breeding ram.  So we are lined up to have quite a few more babies around the farm in 2017 than we previously expected – first because of the addition of the two pregnant goats, and now with 1-2 more pregnant ewes.  We could potentially have 15 babies born between the goats and sheep!  It will more likely be closer to 10, but that is far more than our previous 2 in one year.  That will make for an exciting and adventurous start to our new year!

Chickens

Because of all the changes in sheep and goat plans we decided that the chicken breeding program will have to wait another year to really get up and going.  We will be getting some female chicks early in 2017 to build up our laying flock again for eggs, and potentially a male or two so that if we have a broody hen she can have some fertile eggs to set on.  But overall no major start back into selective breeding of chickens yet.  We can’t do it all!

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