– BY JERRY KITT –
Farm News – July
Most people who keep pets have either a dog or a cat. We have Jack the dog along with three cats, Jesse, Dudley and Purr. I had no idea what kind of pet a goat might be but Edith has become a great companion and source of entertainment.
Edith is almost 3 months old, barely knee high, all white with little nubby goat horns. Young goats technically are referred to as “kids” and this kid is supercharged like she’s fuelled on espresso. We hear her hooves racing around the deck, jumping against the back door, climbing on chairs, trying to peak through the windows. I’ve learned a bit of goat language and “baahh” actually means “I’m here! Look at me! Let’s play! Feed me! I’m still here! Look at me more! …..” She “baahhs all day. But when you go outside and give her some attention, she’s like your best friend. Where ever you go, she wants to follow. Hold something and she wants to know what it is. Stop to chat and she stands beside you. Hold her in your arms and she’ll mellow right down. Ask her “are you my friend?” and she’ll nibble your ear. Drive away and she’ll cry.
Goats however are not necessarily noted for their angelic qualities and Edith is no exception. She was hanging out with the guys as we were doing some construction in the shop. I should have paid better attention while Edith was entertaining herself, ripping out pages from the phone book, probably with the phone numbers I’ll be looking for. Next she was pickingscrews out of the box and dropping them on the floor. My Toyota car which up until now was the only thing I owned that did not readily identify me as a farmer is now covered with goat scratches on the sides, hood and roof. I’ll going to have to post signs at the end of my driveway warning visitors about the goat but I haven’t figured out what to say. Ideas?
First there was Joe, then Julia, then Jessica, then Joe and Jessica had Jasmine. Now Joe and Jessica are proud parents again. It’s a boy! Welcome J–!? This brings our donkey count to five. Donkey anyone?
Buttercup freshens! This may sound like a new fragrance from a flower but it means that Buttercup (our milk cow) has had her calf and will be producing fresh milk for several months now. The birthing event was not without incident however. I was eleven hundred km. away at a Sundance Ceremony when I noticed a number a new messages on my phone. “Buttercup is really sick! We found her this morning with her legs in the air.” That is really sick! My fear was “milk fever”, a condition where the blood calcium levels drop drastically after birth. Jersey cows are quite susceptible and both us and our neighbour had lost cows to milk fever. “Call the vet!” was my response, helpless to the situation. I returned home the next day to find Buttercup recovered and nursing her new calf. Now she’s producing so much milk that she’s also nursing a seconds calf, Tim (last Farm News) plus giving us nine to twelve litres of milk per day!
Farm News – August
Round and around and around and around. That’s haying. Cut the hay, rake the hay, bale the hay, all in circles, clockwise. This summer was our best haying season ever in contrast to last year which may have been our worst. What makes a good haying year? For one, the weather cooperated which allowed us to put up the hay early when the grasses and legumes were young, maximizing protein and with little rain that encourages mould. The green hay is full of nutrients and tastes better than the grey coloured stuff we made last year. The other thing that made for a good haying year was that the equipment ran without any major breakdowns. That in itself was amazing. Our old baler and even older tractor tend to break down every year and as they get older, so should the frequency of breakdowns. Not this year, first time ever. Everyday I thanked the “hay spirits” and I think they appreciated it. Along with the good quality hay comes a feeling of satisfaction, knowing that every mouthful of hay the animals will taste this winter, will be delicious and nutritious.
Every year since we moved onto the farm in 1980 we have had our annual barbeque (the third Saturday in August). It had been a tradition on the ranch long before we showed up. The event used to be a rodeo which became so popular that it moved off the property to its own rodeo grounds. The Rio Grande Rodeo advertised that this year was the 98th annual so we think that our annual barbeque was also the 98th annual. The event is never advertised nor do we extend invitations. People just seem to know (3rd Saturday in August) and show up from the neighbourhood and hundreds of miles away. Aside from good food, great music and the occasional bit of elbow raising, this year we tried something new. My son had an idea to create a human foosball court and proceeded to build one of plywood, 2 x 4’s and sewer pipe. It measured 12 feet wide by 24 feet long and needed 12 players. It was a hit! Five players on each side try to shoot the soccer ball past the goalie. Since their hands are attached to the sliding pipe they have to move together as a team. A friend shot this video: https://vimeo.com/103645581
It’s always a treat to be reminded of the wilderness that we live in. Last year I saw a cougar and this year saw several bears. My neighbour spotted a lynx but I was thrilled this month to see a black wolf. Although they live in the neighbourhood it is rare to see the elusive animals.
Edith the goat continues to be a family favourite. I wish everyone could have a access to a goat, they are non stop entertainment. Better than a TV. Edith gets along well with all the animals, most of the time. At night she is mellow and curls up to share the cushion with Jack the dog and Jesse the cat. But during the day, be prepared for anything. We were sitting at the kitchen table watching Dudley the cat through the patio door. He was snoozing in a lawn chair not paying too much attention to Edith who seemed to have devious plans. Gently, trying not to attract too much attention, Edith kept nudging the lawn chair a few inches at a time.The cat kept snoozing until the last nudge which sent the cat through the air and the chair flying off the deck.