Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

I crunched up the hill in rhythm with my steaming breath, planting my poles alternately, wishing I had found my gaiters in the car. The snow wasn’t super deep, perhaps 6 or 8 inches, but deep enough to find it’s way past the cuff of a boot. Another gust of wind stopped my progress as it whipped my stinging cheeks. I turned away from the blast, eyes tightly closed and watering profusely. The gust quieted and I remained standing still, taking in the winter wonderland scene. Oh! The snow had not been simply blowing off the heavily laden conifer branches. It was coming down again with a will.

And the white out was beautiful!

This was my first moment alone since the Big Event and my mind was deeply engaged, assigning descriptive words and phrases to the jumble of emotions within. I had been dying to sit down at the computer and write, to pour out all my feelings and document my experience of the first 4-legged meat harvest on our farm. But for 3 days after the gun shot, it was all about processing, getting the meat in vacuum sealed bags and into the freezer. Three days!! And each night I had collapsed in bed beside my 3 year old, too exhausted to even consider getting back up for “adult time”. Visions of muscle groups, connective tissue and bone saws flitted behind my red-rimmed lids as I felt my own muscle groups relax heavily against the mattress. I had had no idea how much work it would be. After all, 3 of us processed an entire cow elk in 12 hrs! But, I reminded myself, that was from a skinned and gutted hanging carcass, and with 2 men who knew exactly what they were doing.

WE had started with a walking buck goat, a needy 3 year old child, and had only 2 knowledgeable friends in the fray and only for the first few hours. Thank god for Bill and Chuck, as they helped me angle the rifle barrel correctly, made sure everyone was safe from ricocheting bullets, taught us to skin and gut, and then got us started on how to process the carcass. But that only took us until lunch of the first day. The remainder of the days it was me, with either Carrie, Marian, Drew or Randy, depending on the moment, and all of us completely inexperienced, and continually interrupted by Isla and her constant 3 year old needs. After all, I AM a mother too. We also rendered ALL of the fat in that time which was a massive job – and strong evidence that we had grossly overfed our buckling.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Let me first fill in the missing parts of the story leading up to the Big Day. If you haven’t been a part of the previous posts, I recommend reading Part I and Part II before you continue with this Post. And here is where my liability waiver comes in: if you can’t handle reading about the killing and butchering of a meat goat, then use your brain, stop reading now, and find a blog about kittens and butterflies.

*****************************************************************************

Nine days ago, four days before the harvest day, a good friend took me to a local shooting range to have me shoot the gun I was to use. This was yet another part of my continued personal preparation for the job ahead. Seemed like a smart notion, considering I had not shot a gun since I was 13, and had never shot a rifle (I am 50 now in case you are dying to do the math). It was a beautiful Mini Ruger 14, .223 caliber, that I had inherited from my father. When Dad was in the throes of downsizing and selling his house to move into a retirement community, his gun collection was up for grabs. Of course my little brother got the majority, many of which were antiques and non-functional for all practical purposes. But I did voice my desire for just one usable gun. I have to say I think I got one of the best. It is stainless steel and walnut, a beauty to behold, and smooth and balanced to fire. It has a magazine that will hold 5 bullets, making it a semi automatic. It will fire those 5 bullets as fast as my finger can tug the trigger in succession. This is not a hunting gun – my dad had carried it on his boat when he had plied the seas around Florida and the Caribbean in his more adventurous years. It was his official pirate gun!

Justin laid out all the safety rules for me and showed me how to load, aim and fire. It was a rush! I LOVED shooting my gun! Here is my target after firing the first 2 magazines:

DSC05050

And a token picture of meself:

DSC05053

After firing 4 or 5 magazines, I dug out a pen and sketched the back of a goat head on the lower part of the target. I wanted to really press home what I was going to do come Saturday. I stood a foot away, aimed, and fired. The lower part of the paper target exploded! VERY different from shooting from 15 yards. I would post a photo of the target at the end of that session, but the bottom is completely gone. At least that showed me it would do the trick.

****************************************************************************

The next 4 days leading up to the harvest were difficult. I was racked with a vast array of violent thoughts that kept me awake most nights. I played and replayed the pending act, as I imagined it, over and over in my tired brain. I prayed. I asked my higher powers for help. And I spent time with Bucky, scratching him in his favorite places, and reminding him it was almost time to leave.

The night before the Big Day, I was up late, getting a beef stew simmering in the crock pot and starting bread dough rising. I did not want to have to think one iota about feeding our support group the next day. Then I ran a hot bath, lit my red bath candle, poured a wee dram of the Water of Life, and sank gratefully into the dark, steamy waters, glistening with a slick, red sheen from the flickering candle. I breathed. I breathed more. And I began to pray again. I prayed to have a clean shot through the back of Bucky’s skull with an angle towards the lower jaw, to have the courage to take that shot, to have the grounding to stay present and focused on the job, and most of all, to have the grace to keep my heart open and not leave my body. I had a strong desire to entreat some appropriate minor deity to stand behind me as spiritual support. I was rather tickled at what came to mind – the Amazon hunter/warrior/mothers of the distance past – the courageous women of history who bore their children, nurtured them and protected them with a fierce matter-of-factness passed down from generations of mothers and grandmothers before them. These were the true mother bears. And I would need them tomorrow.

The next morning I awoke, fairly well rested, and ready. As ready as I would ever be. I kneaded the dough as my pot of green tea steeped and laid the loaves in pans for a second rise. I stirred the stew and added a bit more salt. I boiled up some oats and raisins for the family and ate quietly, moving through the motions with a peace I did not expect. I was no longer deliberating. I was no longer visualizing. It was all done. Everything was set out and ready. I was just waiting for 9:30am. I sharpened our quiver of knives while the clock kept track.

At 9:26am the first 2 cars pulled in – Bill and his girl friend Deedee (who I did not expect and had never met), and Chuck. Bill was an avid hunter of large game with a great deal of experience. He was also a law enforcement ranger. Chuck was a hunter as well, and a nurse at the nearby hospital. I felt well covered by their presence. Carrie, Chuck’s wife, pulled in a few minutes later and hefted 1 yr old Larka out of her car seat. Carrie had grown up on a farm and had harvested multiple chickens, turkeys, and a pig. Not only was she a tough chick, she was also a mother. My support group was assembled and my courage bolstered. I had my gun handlers, my carcass handlers, my medical professional, and my tough mom. It was time.

I stepped into the bathroom one more time, even though I had already peed twice in the past 30 minutes. I washed my hands, slowly brushed my hair from my forehead, and tied it back from my face. I pushed my pearl earrings through my lobes and looked in the mirror. I smiled, and thought of my old high school friend who is in a woman’s shooting club on the east coast. She target shoots in make up, pearls and a little black power dress. I thought she would be proud of me donning my mother’s pearls for this very special day.

But something was still missing.

I was slightly aware of the kitchen murmur of voices and clinking coffee mugs as I pulled out my top drawer and reached far into the dark shadows. There it was. The little deerskin pouch that I had made from the pocket of my Poppy’s deerskin shirt. And inside was my hawk talon neckless. I had made it after a fatally injured red tail hawk had dyed in my lap, as I sat on the tail gate of my truck on the side of some Illinois highway. In that moment, as I felt the raptor’s soul release and fly free, I was introduced to the second of my 2 totem animals. And it was that experience which guided my pencil, and the tattoo artist’s hand, as together we memorialize this fierce hunter on my lower abdomen in permanent ink. It was also at that moment that I left my vegetarian life and drove on down the road in search of my first burger in 10 years.

I snapped the clasp beneath my ponytail and walked out tall.

DSC05176

It was a friendly but subdued gathering in the kitchen. The smell of strong coffee was tempting, but I needed to stay in the space I was in, unaffected by a blast of caffeine. I avoided eye contact and collected the items I had set out – the bucket to catch the blood (which I wanted to give to the compost pile), the 4 very sharp knives, my 5 bullets to fill the magazine (kept separate from the gun), my water bottle, and a smudge stick and box of matches. I got Randy’s attention and nodded. He nodded to Chuck and all conversation ceased mid-sentence. I walked out to the pen gate, lit the smudge stick, breathed deeply and cleansed myself with the sacred smoke. I emptied my mind and then filled my heart with strength and love. The gate stuck momentarily on the melt-thaw glacier of runoff as I pushed inside the pen. Goats crowded warmly around me with soft breaths, Fiona lipping my coat zipper, Bucky pressing his forehead against my arm, and Hazelnut standing patiently aloof, waiting for me to come to her. I smudged Bucky, speaking to him soothingly, and told all the goats it was time to say their farewells.

Walking with Bucky.

Walking with Bucky. Hazelnut, Fiona, and visiting King Arthur calmly watch his exit.

Then, without further adieu, I looped the rope through his collar, and led him out, grabbing the bowl of grain on the way. Randy was there waiting. He took the bowl from my hand, and followed a respectful distance behind me, knowing full well I was in an altered state. My friends were waiting at the shed where the event was to happen. We threaded the loose end of Bucky’s rope through the eye bolt screwed low in the outer corner of the shed. Randy dumped the grain on the ground and Bucky happily got down to the business of Second Breakfast. I laid my hand on his knobby head and whispered, “Go with god, buddy.” Then I picked up the gun and snapped the magazine into place, saying each step out loud. “Magazine in. Safety on. Chamber charged. Breathe.” There was a short period of readjusting as I discovered I could not get to his head from where I had planned. Turning 180 degrees to shoot towards the east instead of the west, solved the issue, but resulted in a few more seconds delay while everyone readjusted their own positions of safety.

Time seemed to stand still. I raised the butt to my shoulder and the peep site to my right eye. I flipped the safety off, as if in a dream. His knobby, fuzzy head moved animatedly, but in slow motion, changing my own angle of aim. I thought clinically that I was lucky to be 5′-10″ as a shorter person would not have been able to get the barrel between their shoulder and his head. I exhaled. He moved. I exhaled. He moved. He raised his head and looked around, then put his mouth back to the pile of grain. A muffled shot rang out beyond my ear protection and in fast forward motion he was blasted flat again the snow. It was clean. There was little blood. Some unchewed grain fell from his mouth. His eyes glazed over and his legs began to kick – more than I imagined they would. I knew he was quite dead and it was only the muscle twitch of death, but it was still uncomfortable to witness. His head remained motionless and heavy, as if it were a tremendous weight glued to the ground. I knelt beside him, my canvas covered knee sinking into the slush and mud, and laid my hand on his warm, multicolored side. I murmured, “Let go little boy. Let go little one. Be free my dear.”

Kneeling beside Bucky after the shot.

Kneeling beside Bucky immediately after the shot.

Everything was so crisp and clear, so immediate and now. The impossible crimson color of his blood, blooming on the melting snow, his galloping legs reminding me of my old Pyrenees when he would dream, the unusual humidity in the air, the dead silence in the wake of the shot. His legs became still and I reached for the sharpest of the knives, noticing the intricate details of the smear of mud on my sleeve. It took a few passes to breach the fur, but soon his arteries and windpipe were severed and the blood flowed freely. I removed my ear muffs and the world flooded back in. Then the hands were on my shoulders, gently patting my back as the quiet congratulations found their way to my ears. “You did well MacLaren. You did well.” I heard, but I am not sure who said it. It was then I realized I had no memory of pulling the trigger. None at all.

I stood up, blinked, and stepped back. I noticed Chuck taking care of the gun but did not remember giving it to him. I did not cry. But I did need many deep breaths to return from the world I had just been in. A world of extreme focus and deliberation, a world void of emotion, but not of love, a shadowy world of death. And of life. And I was OK. And Bucky was gone – very gone. All that was left of our buckling was a hunk of meat at my feet and days of work ahead. It was over. Finally, gratefully…

Over.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

This Morning….

Read Full Post »

That would be…. Me. It’s true. I chose to be one today. It was so preferable over my other choice – doing the exact same tasks while whining about it. Might as well embrace it enthusiastically! Yes?

So while Randy went to work (BLM) for a quick check in, and then to the mill for more lumber, I began my day of devahood. First I showered (with Isla) and dressed (while Isla sat on the floor of the shower, water trickling between her shoulder blades, scrubbing the bottoms of her little feet). Then I dressed the reluctant 2 yr old as well. Next I washed the pile of dishes (from last night’s dinner) and cleaned the counter tops (while Isla alternately became either a goat named Gwendolyn or a girl named Gwendolyn). Then I began the prep for the potato leek soup.

First, I sliced and washed the leeks, then Isla helped me scrub the last of our purple potatoes from the fall harvest. I peeled their nobbly, old surfaces, revealing the violet and lavender meat beneath. Isla walked a large potato around the counter tops on it’s dark purple sprout feet. Taters chopped, I sauteed the leeks in olive oil, added garlic, caraway seeds and pepper, and finally the taters.

I love the spring colors of chopped leeks.

Fresh ground pepper, celtic sea salt, caraway seeds, and garlic.

When I say "the last" of the purple potatoes, I really mean it as we are not planning on planting any purple varieties this spring.

Broth from boiling down some very mean roosters.

All was covered in defrosted rooster broth, salted, and brought to a boil, very slowly. Very, VERY slowly, as there are only 2 working units on our old stove top and both are of the most tiniest variety. I think on the high setting, the big soup pot, reserved for group rafting trips, MIGHT have felt a slight… tickle on it’s nether regions. But it gave me plenty of time to deal with the bread.

No-knead bread dough after the first rise.

I pulled the bowl of dough out of the fridge and stretched the sticky batch into 2 hunks. This is my favorite recipe for artisan bread – 4 ingredients and no-knead. But I kneaded each hunk a few times anyway just because I like to. After rolling the logs in some seeds  and cutting some sexy diagonal slices in the bulging mounds, I placed them on the baker’s peel with a sprinkling of cornmeal between. They rose for the second time beneath a clean towel while I went back to the soup. Then Randy arrived with the lumber.

Who can resist a little kneading?

Rising on the baker's peel.

Next was the kale. RG, here to add more time to his work barter, pulled into the driveway, and pushed through the gate with toolbelt slung over his shoulder. I tore chunks of kale off the stems and swished the pile in a sink of cold water, remembering to chop the stems up for the chickens. The soup was FINALLY at a boil, so I piled the kale on top and stirred it in. Yummmm. I love kale. Have you ever had kale chips? I made an entire dehydrator full last summer and they did not even last 24 hrs. Absolutely addictive!

Ripped kale.

Chickens get all the decent scraps - never just "compost" which goes in another container - and always organic.

“Mama? Can you read this to me?” It was the 3rd book from “elsewhere” that I had passed her to keep her from under foot. She was being extremely wonderful in occupying herself so her request gave me a pang of Mama guilt. I had a moment between the next boil (possibly hours with the stove top handicap) and when the bread would go in the oven. So we sat together in our reading nook and read some Aesop’s Fables.

The percussive waves of rhythmic hammering reached my chest. “I’ve got to get back to the cooking sweetie.” “No, my name is Gwendolyn Mama, not Sweetie, said Gwendolyn.” I have no idea how she developed this 3rd person narrative style of talking, but as it’s been in use for a few months now, we are getting used to it. “Yes… ah, Gwendolyn.” The oven was pre-heated enough (about an hour). I slid the 2 loaves from the peel to the pizza stone and filled the tray on the top rack with hot water. Steam issued from the oven as I slammed the door shut! “OK. Where was I?” I said aloud. Set the table, fill the water glasses, and peek periodically out the window as the siding went up, one board at a time. It was looking more and more like a barn every minute. MY barn. I heaved a happy sigh.

Working on the facia board for the upper clerestory roof.

As I washed dishes a second time, I thought back to my email volley with Elana, from whom I was buying our goats. She had decided that the kid “cousin” I could take, in addition to Fiona and her mom Hazelnut, would be Buckbeak. “Bucky” was 1 of 2 goatlings born in the most recent, and final kidding of the spring at the Pieper’s farm. He was actually 1 of triplets, but the second buckling had been stillborn. Bucky and his sister Prim had had a rough start, confused with the bottle and struggling with sucking from the nipple. They had not been sure Bucky would make it at all, even though he was massive for a newborn. But the siblings had made a strong recovery and were reported to be feeding voraciously as of today. Buckbeak also had an impressive overbite which made his appearance rather… dorky, but also quite lovable. As the castration process would begin in another day or so via the rubber band method (I saw that grimace, boys!), his poor confirmation would never pass to another generation. He would, in fact, be passing through our lives for a short year only…. on his way to our freezer. I had hoped for Hazelnut and 2 doelings, as well as a meat buckling. But in all honesty, it could have sent me deep into overwhelm. I have two hands that can hold two bottles. Two kids to bottlefeed makes the most sense. I ran my sudsy hand through my hair absentmindedly, leaving some decidedly goat-like horns behind. Yes. I think I would take Buckbeak. Fiona needs a play mate. And I don’t need more than 2 milking does next year.

Hot from the stone - delicious!

The oven timer said 5 minutes until blastoff. I opened the porch door, which immediately tried to deck me with a blast of warm, springlike wind. I gave one of my famous, piercing whistles and signaled with a double-handed welcoming wave to the boys. Lunch was almost ready. Isla streaked through the dining room, leaving a bubble of wild cackling in her path. “Honey – I mean Gwendolyn! Put your clothes back on please. We’re about to eat.” I glance back out at the 2 Randys, laughing together as one climbed down from the ladder and the other unclipped his tool belt. It made me smile to see my husband and my X-boyfriend in such camaraderie. They were terrifically good friends and had a connection like no other. I was most definitely aware of how lucky I was to have them both in my life.

As the wind blew in the stubbly, dusty, joking men, I ladled out the steaming soup and plopped a dollop of sour cream on top of each helping. I sawed off hot slices of bread and slathered butter on each. The boys wiped their noses and beamed at their bowls. I tied a towel around the neck of my still naked child, sat daintily on my chair (well, I can try at least), and scooped a steaming, purple potato onto my spoon. Being a Domestic Diva really wasn’t so bad after all.

It might look like dishwater and chicken scraps in this photo, but it is actually divine!

And for a finish to the repast, 77% cacao chocolate, fresh strawberries and coffee.

No rest for the weary. After slacking over lunch, the men are back at it as our next winter storm rolls in. Here, the purlins are being set for the southern roof.

Read Full Post »

Her long, ash-gray ears felt like velvet to the pads of my fingers. I could not stop stroking them, or tracing a line along the jet black ridge of her spine, surrounded on both sides by a sea of dark chocolate. She was the most beautiful animal I had ever seen, so small, so vulnerable, so perfect…. and she had been so close to death just a few hours before.

Here Fiona is 3 or 4 hrs old. Amazing that such a tiny creature can elicit such fierce, unconditional love from so many.

Hazelnut gave birth earlier than expected, in the wee hours of dawn amidst a driving blizzard. While she labored through the storm, both inside and out, I had one of my worst nights of insomnia on record. Up for 5 straight hours, I thought incessantly and obsessively about baby goats and goats being born. I can only imagine I was in some sort of spiritual link with my future goat. When Chris, Hazelnut’s human papa, bundled again the snow and tromped off to the barn to check on the three expectant caprine mothers, it was already too late for the little buckling. Hazelnut had been pushed away from the heat lamp by the herd matriarch, and the buckling had froze while his sister was being born. This tragic news gave me more insight into my “labor bond” with Hazelnut. I too, had lost my son at birth. Fiona, as I named her, was on Death’s door. But Death did not have the firm grip on her that took her brother. The Pieper family acted fast, stoking the wood stove and dragging out the radiant heat lamp. Someone milked Hazelnut and the warm colostrum was dribbled down Fiona’s throat with a dropper, as she was still too weak to swallow. When Isla and I arrived, and I held the tiny doeling in my lap, she was still shivering from her frigid entry into our harsh world. But 3 hrs later, when we said a reluctant farewell, she was already struggling to stand…

and I was hopelessly in love.

The morning of Fiona's birth

Elana Pieper nursing Fiona back to life

Isla and I get our chance... and that was that. We were hooked.

Gwendolyn Pieper lets Hazelnut have some time with her down-wrapped baby.

We returned to the Pieper’s farm the following day. After a nice visit with the family, and Hazelnut, who would soon be OUR herd matriarch, we packed up a mason jar of colostrum, and a clean beer bottle with rubber nipple. And with Fiona in my lap, and Isla in her car seat, I drove slowly home. The wee lassies slept soundly for the 30 minute drive. We made our doeling a comfy bed in the corner of the kitchen and nursed her every couple of hours. We held her as much as we possibly could – attachment parenting will always be my choice with a human baby, and when needed, with an animal one too. That night I snuggled our furry newborn daughter in bed beside me, getting up 3 times in the night to bottle feed and let her pee. Not much sleep was had for me, but I didn’t really care. All my newborn/second child mothering urges were being exquisitely fulfilled with this big act of love between me and a 5 lb. lump of fur, warmth and trust. I was in groggy heaven.

Fiona checking out the goat on our rug while sporting an old pair of Isla's pull ups.

Isla introduces each of her many friends to her new caprine sibling.

"And you and Hazelnut will come live with us as soon the your house is finished! We'll be sisters!"

After returning Fiona to Hazelnut and the Piepers, Isla and I each gave a heavy sigh and trudged back to the car. It was wonderful to see mama and baby bonding the way Nature intended and that sight gave me joy… but also a strange pang of jealousy. I have so badly wanted a second child, and Fiona is already satiating so much of that primal, and sometimes painful desire. And Isla is already accepting her as the little sibling she has been asking for, human or not. But the hardest thing was the unexpected separation over the following days as I immediately came down with a nasty cold and could not come visit the goats again for 4 long days. After the intimate bond created from sleeping with Fiona, this was pure torture for me. It gave me some insight into how Hazelnut must feel being separated from her baby! BOTH her babies!

But today Fiona is a week old and sleeping safely in the barn with her animal mama. She is running, jumping and playing – still wobbly but so very much more sure hoofed! Her recovery has been a miracle in my eyes. And this morning’s sunrise brought her 2 new cousins born into the herd from her half sister, Wren. The role call is not yet over either. Mamacita is expecting certainly triplets, and possibly quadruplets! We hope to bring home one of the bucklings as well.

Last night we helped celebrate Chris Pieper’s 45th birthday and I ate an excellent home cooked meal with little Fiona in my arms. I shared her with the other guests too… reluctantly. Many wanted to hold the little fuzzy nugget and kiss her knobbly head, on the snow white patch, just between her little horn buds. With all the preparation for the coming weekend work party to finish the goat shed and fence, I do not know when my next visit to the girls will be and that leaves me with a certain anxiousness in my gut. But I also need to remember my human daughter. She loves the goats too, but doesn’t fancy the competition for Mama’s love and focus. Tonight she insisted on pulling out her old baby bottle and having me feed her. “I’m a little goat, Mama, and my name is Fiona. I can’t hold my bottle. YOU have to feed me. Make sure I stretch my neck out nice and long, OK?” This is more humorous than one might think as Isla would NEVER take a bottle in all her infancy! She was solely breast fed!

My token "breaking ground" photo taken just before the storm, and Fiona, arrived.

10 stock panels for the pen - 50" high by 16' long.

Returning home with cedar posts for both pole barn and pen.

The two Randy's trying to look tough next to their first sunk posts. Unfortunately the post hole auger failed to work.

I have wanted goats for decades and felt a strange, comfortable and curious bond with them. Randy and I have always been interested in gardening, but as our food supply has become less and less safe and predictable, we have turned more toward a deep desire for some level of homesteading. Nowadays, it is the only true way to know what you are ingesting. When I was pregnant with Isla, we discussed what my “job” would be once she was born. We both heartily agreed that we did not want for me to take on a paying job, just to afford to pay someone else to raise our child! I had closed the doors on my sustainable house design business a year or so prior and had welcomed the ease of drafting land survey plats for my friend and his thriving survey business. It was such a stress relief to leave my work at the office (someone else’s office) and not stay awake at night working out a design challenge for a demanding client. But CAD work would not be compatible with raising a newborn in a Waldorf inspired home. So it was decided. I would be the stay-at-home mommy and manage a little farm… an urban homestead… basically the life I had dreamed of for many, many years. Not only would I nurture the mind of my long awaited daughter, but I would nurture the bodies of my partner, my child, and myself. It was the ultimate mothering job. Really? Me? I could do this?

We bought a house on a little piece of land at the outskirts of town and found a tenant for our existing home. We were tired of the isolation and barren lands of our mesa living and were ready for community. It wasn’t much – 1.7 acres. But it had a well which was HUGE for us, having live in a our owner-built, off-grid, strawbale house for years. There, we collected rainwater or hauled it from a spring. The closest aquifer was 1300′ straight down and no one in the neighborhood could even consider drilling! A well sounded like pure decadence to us leather-skinned mesa rats.

We moved into our new home in Oct of ’09, little Isla at 5 months old, strapped to my body as we unpacked boxes. We talked and planned through the winter, ordered seeds and researched bees and chickens. Randy took on the majority of the garden, and me the animals and insects. By the end of the first year we had a flock of 12 chickens (2 of which were laying), 1 bee hive, 8 fruit trees planted, and a good sized garden with fencing. But no goats. By the end of the 2nd year we were pulling in our second honey harvest, had expanded the garden, built raised beds and added drip irrigation. The orchard had a total of 18 trees – all on drip, and the chicken flock had been increased to 15 by natural means of broody birds (tallied after the loss of 3 laying hens and 4 peeps to a predator, and the 3 mean roosters we’d relegated to the freezer). But no goats.

But THIS year….. oh my! I am getting my goats I am! No more buying local, raw, goat and cow milk to keep kefir, yogurt and cheese in my family’s bellies. We’ll raise the buckling for meat, right along side Fiona. She’ll have a playmate during her kid months, and we will know our dinner was loved, cared for, raised organically in comfortable, healthy conditions, and was killed with reverence and respect. After shelving my dream for years, I am mere weeks away! Soon I’ll be milking Hazelnut, steps away from my back porch, and drinking her milk, warm and fresh, mild and creamy, as only a Nubian’s is.

And when I lead Hazelnut, Fiona, and her buckling cousin into their new pen and shed, I think I will finally be able to call myself a mother AND a true urban homesteader! Damn it is going to feel good!!!

Read Full Post »

Weak knees

When I was a little girl and CB radios were popular amongst travelers, I recall my father’s “handle” was Weak Knees. This described my stoic Scottish Papa well – a man of few words who only spoke when he had something worth saying. And he was very nervous about talking on the CB! After all, one first had to learn a new language (Nice modulatin’ wid ya goody buddy – catch ya on da flip flop.), a foreign etiquette, and be prepared to sound like an idiot to everyone in radio range! And so, with a nod to my Daddy-O, I take my first step into blogdom. And believe me, I have some seriously weak knees. Yet one more stay-at-home, mama of a wee one trying to carve out a healthy, safe upbringing for her child in a dark and scary world. There must be thousands of similar blogs! But I refuse to just get my toes wet to save face – not my style anyway. So much better to dive in head first with reckless abandon and take the bull by the horns.

Excuse me while I don my bathing suit (or not) for my first plunge. (And I hope all your ups and downs are between the sheets, good buddy!)

Carrot thinnings

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts

%d bloggers like this: