Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wednesday Wisdom


"I've always found that sticking your fingers in your ears and humming loudly solves a whole host of problems."
~Author Unknown



Off The Shelves


Well, after the 123rd order for a knitted goat, I figured I should probably take them off my Etsy shelves for awhile... Oh goodness, I have to make 123 goats. But, there is a bright side!! That number is tentative, so I may only have to make 73! ;) 

To date, I have made a total of -- um -- 12 goats. [sheepish look]

I usually try to do a new blog post every day, but what with this tall order, I may be a little sporadic for a time. twenty three of those goats have to be finished before Christmas, so that's what I'm working on right now. The other 50 to 100 don't have to be finished until next June, so there's time. There's time...

The goats WILL be put back onto the shelves though! So worry not, if you had your heart set on getting one (or two, or twenty). hopefully by January they'll be back in the shop, along with some other farmyard friends such as a knitted horse, sheep, chicken, pig, and a dog. :) Maybe I should splurge and buy myself a pair of new knitting needles... Hehe.

Any hey, there's only two more days to enter the giveaway contest! I'll announce the winner of Friday afternoon!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Goats For The Soul


It was dark outside. It was bright inside. 

It was cold outside. It was warm inside.

It was damp outside. It was dry inside.

But there were goats outside. There were none inside.

So outside I went, as I found myself with some spare minutes this evening! :) I've been so busy lately, that I haven't done much with the goats other than toss some hay into the manger, fill their water bucket, and open/close their door. They would sing softly to me as I passed them. Would I not stay a few moments and visit with them? No... I was too busy. I saw them only in the dark hours these past couple of weeks. Early morning, or late at night. No time... No time... I could not answer their soft, little pleas; asking me to stay a few moments... I had too many things to do. Unimportant things, really. But I was too busy... Too busy...

Then, when I found those extra minutes in my hand this evening at 5 'o' clock, I decided it was time to catch up with the girls. 

They sang their usual song when they saw me enter the barn. Would I not stay a few moments and visit with them? "Yes", I told them, "I am here for an overdue chat." I nested down into the warm straw bedding, and leaned against the wooden manger. Poppet climbed into my lap and was soon snoring quietly. Shilling leaned against my Carhartt coat. Pepper stood next to me. Heidi and Ivy puzzled over my funny smelling hair (they don't like the smell of hairspray it seems!), and Kiwi launched herself on me, attempting a bear hug. 

There I was. Completely surrounded and covered with goats. My goats. And by golly I was happy out there. The barn glowed softly with old light bulbs, and the smell of orchard grass hay was like an incense. The only noise heard was the soft breathing of 6 beasties. 

But there was one thing missing: The presence of Capri. How my Goat Song always loved to snuggle down for a good back rub... 

So amidst my goat hugs, I sang Capri's songs...

'Caledonia'. 'Send Me A Song'. 'Isle if Inisfree'. 'The Highway Man'. I sang those songs morning and night, every day, while out in the barn. They were Capri's songs.

Ivy recognized them as milking songs and excitedly danced at the gate, thinking she was about to get on the stand.

Not tonight dear Ivy... It will be many, many months before we start up our milking rituals again. Perhaps in the spring of 2013. That's a long time, dear Ivy. A long time. But one day we'll have routine up and running again. You will get on the milkstand, Dearest Ivy, and I will sing your songs. You always liked 'Skellig'... A deep, resonating, mournful song, that one was. Ivy, do you remember that spring morning when everything smelled of the blooming dog roses? I sang the ballad of 'The Highway Man', as well as 'Skellig'. The world seemed perfect at that moment, Ivy. Perfect. And I have never seen another morning like that one... No, not yet.

Still covered with goats, I finished Capri's songs.

With the end of the melodies, came the end of my visit. I picked sleepy Poppet up, and put her in the warm straw. The others bid me goodnight, and I walked out of the barn. The night was still cold, dark, and damp, but I was warm. Goats are good for the soul.

I walked back towards the house, alone, and wondered what on earth people do with cows.

You can't have a cow sleep on your lap.

How The South Was Lost

This video is always a good one, if you're looking for a laugh. :) Yes, we Confederate Rebs (I'm one by birth) are being made fun of, but it's still a humorous watch. Although, I think the Yanks always laugh the loudest when watching this... [glances around suspiciously] They may think they won the war, but you can ask any true-blue Reb and they'll tell you the truth: The Civil war is still going. We Rebs know how to hold our own in a generational feud! Alright, enough is enough. If I go any further with this, I'm liable to get in trouble. ;) 

How The South Was Lost



Friday, November 25, 2011

A November Giveaway!


It's not too late! There's still time for me to host a November giveaway! I checked the calender, and it says we still have five days before December, so I'm going with the "Better late than never" phrase here. ;) I meant to host the November giveaway, you know, like back in the middle of the month! Really. I did. But nothing was catching my eye and just screaming, "Give me away on your blog!!" 

That is, until I saw the Gettle's new book...


Oh how I have lusted after this book while it was still in manuscript... And then when it was finally published only a couple months ago... The term "Hog heaven" applies here.

I contacted Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and asked if they would consider donating a book to my little giveaway, and they graciously agreed! And not only did they send a beautiful book, but they sent a beautiful book that Jere Gettle autographed! [swoon, faint]

I'm the sort of person who starts getting the serious itch to garden in November/December. Right when the ground is frozen, and the seed catalogs come pouring in. So I thought what better way to torture ourselves, then to give away a gardening book! 


If you have yet to acquaint yourself with Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, you may do so by clicking HERE. I am extremely picky about where I buy my seeds, and I've found that Baker Creek always fits the bill perfectly. I am a staunch customer. ;)


But back to the book now. As I'm sure you've noticed, the title is 'The Heirloom Life Gardener'. Jere Gettle writes this book on a personal level, which I always like in my books. You read through it, and feel as if you're reading a letter from an old friend. Jere gently leads you through his personal history on how he started working with heirloom plants, to how he's gotten to where he is now. He teaches you how to garden, save seeds, cook each kind of vegetable out there, and the entire book is chock full of tantalizing pictures... 


My favorite part of the book is probably in the back, where there is an A to Z growing guide. So I can look up a specific veggie, such as broccoli, and find out when I need to start seeds, how to grow it, harvest it, cook it, and how to save seeds from it. Very nice. :)


And down to the specifics now! If you would like to enter this giveaway, please leave a comment explaining why you like to garden! 
If you share this giveaway via Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, Wordpress, or you tell a friend, you are allowed two contest entries. (please specify that you shared, so I know...) Only one entry per family, please.

Entry deadline is next Friday, December 2nd (I know, we'll be in the next month by then, but I wanted to stretch the giveaway to a week).

Good Luck!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Today's The Day!


Happy Thanksgiving from Goat Song Farm!!!


Yeah, that's how good of a mood I'm in right now. You actually get to see a mug shot of your elusive author here at 'To Sing With Goats'! LOL. I'm camera shy, what can I say??

Pictures aside, today's the day!!! We smoked our turkey last night (oh dearie me... I do enjoy smoked meats...), and it will find its way to the oven in a few hours to finish cooking. Cornbread is on the verge of being made for our special cornbread stuffing/dressing (call it what you want), and I do believe there is a pumpkin pie awaiting forks in the fridge. This place will soon be hopping, as we clean, cook, and decorate before guests come (hehe, in this family, we procrastinate and everything gets done the day of). Delicious morsels of food will be set on the counter, just begging for some underhanded snitching, and who would I be to refuse such a tantalizing offer? LOL. I'll try not to take too much. 

The goats are outside now, munching on some broken up pumpkin that I gave them as a special, holiday treat, and the rabbits are contentedly chewing on hay. They declined the offer of Thanksgiving festivities. 

I hope y'all have a great day today! 'Tis a day to look back and really remember what we're thankful for. Our nation ain't perfect by a long shot, but we are blessed nevertheless. Let's celebrate.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

When Did It Start For You?

When did the farming/homesteading dream/desire come to you? Perhaps not all of you have the same desire as I, which is to one day have my own farm and all that comes with that package (yes, that includes fallen trees, flooding, and overdue bills [wink]). But for those of you who do, when you think back to your past, what made you want to pursue such a lifestyle that the majority of society looks down upon? Did the thought come upon you like a spring storm? Or did it happen gently, over a period of time, like autumn leaves floating quietly down?


I remember when it happened to me. I was 12. Actually, it was my 12th birthday. We were in Michigan, visiting my grandparents, and my grandpa was regaling tales of when he was a boy. He grew up on a family farm, and they used draft horses. All I remember from that day, was his story about his favorite gray gelding named 'Prince'. If I remember correctly, the other draft was named 'Teddy', but I could be mistaken...


I listened to those stories in awe, and knew in my heart that I wanted to follow in my grandpa's footsteps, and  have my own farm and draft horses.

Before that day, I had never really entertained the thought of farming. Being a vet was my main priority. I would still love to pursue having a DVM one day, but that's on a back burner. My grandpa planted a seed that day, and there's no hope now. The dream ever calls. It must be followed. Sometimes with dogged determination and iron will; other times I can relax and grin, knowing that my boat is floating lazily down the river of dreams. I've got waterfalls ahead, but I'm not there yet. For the moment, I'll taste the nectar of small achievements. I'm gettin' there.


For years after that day, I dreamed about a powerful gray gelding named Prince. I saw him in my dreams. Felt him, smelled the horse sweat. Felt the leather harness. He was still just a dream to me, but he became an icon in my mind. A symbol. 

Four years ago, someone gave us a box of old Breyer horse figures. Amidst the scarred and battered forms of well loved toy equines, at the bottom, there was a gray Percheron. That little toy horse sits in my closet, and every time I open the door, I see my dream horse that has evolved into a touchable figure.

We've come one step of the way. 


Someday, I will own a gray Percheron gelding. I will name him Prince. And I will send a picture of him to my grandpa.

What Everyone Else Has Already Said

But I'll say it here anyway: Happy Thanksgiving!! 



Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Can I Just Say...

That I am ridiculously excited to be working with Greenfire Farms? I just finished hopping over to their website to see what was new, and oh good heavens... They have new breeds out... The Tolbunt Polish particularly caught my eye. Oooh, I can't wait until spring to find out what breeds they'll be sending me!!! 

For those of you who are new to my blog, you can read more about my partnering with Greenfire Farms HERE. 

But the bird that stole my breath away... Was the 'Double Laced Blue Barnevelder. Alas, they might not release any of those gorgeous birds for sale until 2014!!!! Aaaaah!! Methinks that would be properly classed as "cruel". LOL. What a beautiful bird... I guess I'll start saving my pennies now, so that in three years time, maybe I'll have enough money to buy one chick. ;) 

A Favorite

Here's one more for y'all...

Oh my goodness... I love this song... I never thought anyone could rank higher than dulcimerist 'Joshua Messick' in my mind (his song 'Desire for Departure is my "most listened to" song, on my MP3), but I think Ted Yoder managed to do just that with this beautiful song. 

My family is known for our "different" instruments we play. My dad plays the hammered dulcimer (and I love listening to it), then we have a bowed psaltery, a strumstick, some ocarinas, a lap harp.... I love the different instruments.

But I digress. Ted Yoder outdid himself on this one. 



Finger Dancing

Oh to be able to one day play like this person.... He's using a dulcitar in this video, not a Strumstick, but they both play the same. His method here is known as "finger dancing", meaning he uses all three strings individually, rather than strumming two as a drone and one as the melody. He's also doing two of my favorite Irish melodies... :)



Monday, November 21, 2011

Missing Their Presence

Sheep. Someday I'll have sheep again.

Two of our Katahdins. Summer of 2008.

Stay tuned for a giveaway in the next few days!! 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Holy

My feet crunched softly on the frosted earth this morning, as I went to feed the animals. Overnight, the landscape had turned into a fairy kingdom; iridescent white, overlain with silver glitter. The morning was silent... Save for my bootsteps. I found the goats still huddled down in their warm straw bedding. Pepper was still snoring. The musical sound of fresh hay being thrown into the manger quickly remedied all sleepiness in the girls, and they attacked their breakfast with an unladylike velocity. Squabbles broke out as they jockied to get the best place, and more than once, Heidi resorted to brute force to knock the smaller yearlings out of her way.

 I opened the big door that leads out to pasture, and watched the goats in amusement as they left their breakfast to stare at the white, frosted ground. For some of the goats, this was their first time to see a frost. I can't wait to see how they react to snow... Kiwi's eyes widened in amazement, and her over sized ears stood straight up like a rabbit's. You could see the wheels turning in her head as she tried to figure out why her green grass suddenly turned white and crunchy. After a few minutes, the goat's decided that such a change was not worth their brain power, and they resumed their eating.

I leaned up against the side of the door, feeling the west wind nip my skin, and surveyed the beautiful panorama. I could hear the goats munching their hay, and barn dust tickled my nose. At that perfect moment, the word 'Holy' came to mind... Something about this moment; just being in a warm barn with my goats, a ton of hay stacked neatly behind me, and a frosted ground before me, just seemed like a holy moment...

 To me, barns are holy places. They always have been. It's like being in a church... You lower your voice, and a feeling of reverence and awe overtakes you. You feel the presence of the Almighty One. You look around, and see the Lord's hand of mercy. There is hay in a barn... The rains were held off long enough for the farmer's to bring their crops in. Grasses, grown during the spring, cut during the summer, baled when they are dead and dry, and fed to animals that they might live. Death and life. There are animals there. Cows, goats, sheep, hogs, chickens, ducks, geese, rabbits, horses... Each one provides something useful. Whether it's eggs, meat, milk, or draft power.

 In a barn, I feel secure. Safe. Blessed. It is a holy place. I certainly wouldn't object to church being held within the walls of a barn. Who could? Wasn't the Christ himself born in a barn? Amongst the dead summer grasses, and the animals for company? No, I have nothing against church services being held in a barn...

I left my barn and headed inside... The sun was beginning to peek out, and I knew the frost would soon be gone. Gone until tomorrow....

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Surreal



I just did something.

And I'm having a hard time believing that I just did it.

I just bought a plane ticket.

Aaaaaah!!! 

Folks, I haven't been on a plane in about thirteen years! I'm dreading it.

But it's rather necessary, in order to complete my mission.

So, said plane ticket is setting off on January 17th, 2012; bound for Charlottesville, Virginia!!! The Salatins will pick me up there, and we'll wend our way to Polyface Farms for my interview. I'll fly back to Oregon on the 20th. 

I have to admit that there were some mixed feelings as I saw that chunk of money disappear so quickly. That could have bought two tons of hay! Ah well... 'Tis done now.

Rest assured, dear readers, I will be taking a camera with me in January!! I will do my very best to log the whole adventure.

But I sure do wish someone was coming with me... 

Girl. Goat.




Friday, November 18, 2011

Bingo



Problem? Problem solved.

Now, let's see if I can work up the nerve to send in my story idea.... Storey's Books is the exact publisher I would like to go through. But will they like the idea?

I'm off now, to sleep on the matter... TTFN dear readers!

Does Anyone Know...



Does anyone know where on earth a body should start when thinking seriously about writing/publishing a book? I've been working on a draft for about 2 years now, and I'm getting to the point where this adventure is ready to progress to the next level. But -- I'm pretty clueless about starting out. I suppose tomorrow morning I'll have more brain power than right now (long day at work!), but for tonight, I thought I would throw this question out to my readers. :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

In the Shop!



The knitted goats are in the shop now, and I have already had to stock them twice! They are flying out of here so fast, I can hardly believe it! If you would like a goat of your own, please do get your order in soon. Once I hit a certain number of orders (I haven't decided for sure what the limit will be) the goats will come off the shelves for awhile. Just until I catch up. 

New Additions to Goat Song Farm

Some new little goats have landed, here at the farm. And they look like this:


Yeah, my knitting needles have been getting a workout. I have three of these little guys already skulking around the house, and a fourth one still hanging on the needles!


While small in size (roughly 4" high), they make up for it by being extremely feed efficient (they hardly eat any grain at all!), they don't challenge fences, they're quiet, and they make lovely house pets (not everyone can say they get to keep a goat in the house!). 


Sure, their conformation isn't all that great... Rear leg angulation is practically non-existent, poor brisket extension, loose shoulders, and they're horned. But they have VERY sweet temperaments! ;) 




I'll have some wee goats in my Etsy shop soon, so keep an eye out for them! I can do custom colors to a degree too; just let me know what you're thinking. :) Buying one goat will buy one bale of hay. So not only are you buying a handmade gift, you are keeping Goat Song Farm running! 

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Another Question


I got another question for y'all.

Does anyone know why some of our apples look like this?


I don't know what kind of apples we have, but the majority of them look like normal apples! Every now and again though, we'll get some funny looking ones like above. It's not a bruise, we've come to that conclusion so far, and most of the ones we find like this are ones that we've picked off the tree. We jokingly call these "Jolly Rancher" apples, because the lime green part really does taste like candy! On the outside, they look perfectly normal; it's not until you cut into them that you find that they're different.

And ideas?

Your Opinions, Please?



I am eager to teach some more workshops! The goat one was a lot of fun, and I would sure like to do some more classes for folks. But, the cold weather is here now, and no one wants to stand around in a cold barn for the whole day. So I've been in a bit of a fix. I don't want to have to wait until spring to teach some more classes, but neither do I want to make people endure chilly days and frozen fingers!

Then I had a thought, two nights ago (I do all of my plotting and scheming at night. Hehe). What if, instead of hosting a live workshop, I did a "webinar"? I would create a private Youtube of the workshop, and run it as if you were actually there, and then when you pay for the webinar, I would send you the link to the videos. What think ye'?

 My thought right now would be to host a 'Beginning with Meat Rabbits' webinar. I've been raising rabbits for about 8 years now, so I've definitely got experience, tips, and tricks to share! I also have 15 rabbits of varying ages, and two that are pregnant and due in 26 days. Attendees would learn what to look for when choosing breeding stock, different rabbit breeds, housing needs, rabbit care, feeds and feeding, handling a rabbit, health problems and how to deal with them, herbal remedies, breeding, care of kits, raising a litter of kits, butchering rabbits, choosing stock to keep from your own litters, marketing rabbits, troubleshooting, and whatever else I can think of!

What's your opinion on something like this? How much would you say a webinar like this is worth?

Gettin' Somewhere

Heidi is making progress in her training! It's slow going, but we do seem to be gettin' somewhere! Today was her first time wearing her full practice rig, as well as it being her first time to experience pressure on her face. She did surprisingly well, although there were a couple moments of near mutiny, as she huffed about having to work while the other goats watched on. The hard part is that she's stubborn. And I'm stubborn. So we're a stubborn pair of Left Brain extroverts who each have an agenda of our own!

 But I was pleased with today's workout. She never once stopped chewing her cud during the entire training session! LOL.



Monday, November 14, 2011

Easily Amused

Not only am I easily amused, but I'm a tad on the ridiculous side.

The following made me chuckle.

(And I promise to get back to more normal posts, after this!!)























Farewell to Ireland


Ireland coast. Original source of photo, unknown

Today is one of those delightful days... It's a gray, rainy day here in Oregon. But 'tis one of those gray days that seems to enhance the green surrounding our little farm. The wind spirals in from the west, bringing a salty tang that I dearly love. My hair is tousled by the wind as it speeds by, and the slight chill is just enough to make one glad they have a Carharrt.

My Irish blood is up today. I sang old Irish ballads while feeding the goats, and my feet couldn't resist some Irish/line dance steps while doing the dishes. Songs such as 'Toss the Feathers', 'Coppers and Brass', 'The Silver Spear', and 'Farewell to Ireland' have been playing on my MP3 all morning. For awhile I had forgotten why I keep that certain album around... It's all ulian pipes and violin, which gives it more of a falsetto key. And I'm more of a baritone fan. But today reminded me that I keep that annoyingly high pitched album around for days like this!! Green, enchanted days that grab you by the hands and swing you around in a reel that never stops! My heart and my voice sing old songs of my heritage on this day. My feet dance with joy to the repetitive, lilting lyrics.

Days like this make me wonder why my Great, Great Grandfather ever immigrated from Ireland in the first place. Was it a desire to see new lands? Was it hope for a better life? Was his career as a livestock hauler/raiser dwindling? I could certainly understand if it was a case of wanderlust. I seem to have inherited a good amount of that gene. But to leave beautiful Ireland...? I have never seen Ireland with my own eyes, but someday I want to. My Irish wanderlust genes demand it. 'Tis true that while I inherited my wanderlust from my Irish ancestors, I also inherited my temper from them. I lucked out on the red hair, but that Irish temper certainly stuck with me! [sigh]

Days like this make me wish I had a horse around.... I remember back when we boarded horses, my favorite thing to do was to go riding in the rain. It still is a favorite thing to do! Wait until It's raining good and hard, then put a halter on your trusty steed and swing up bareback. Your horse chooses the direction and pace, you just sit atop and enjoy the rain and the ride... You can't really do that with goats. ;)

Off I go now, to enjoy this lovely Oregon/Ireland weather. I have to say, that's one thing I do like about Oregon: The green, and the wet makes me think of my ancestral homeland.

Someday. Someday I will go back.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

To Obtain Excellence


"Excellence can be obtained if you...
Risk more than others think is safe,
Dream more than others think is practical,
Care more than others think is wise, and
Expect more than others think is possible..."

~Author Unknown


Picture Day at Goat Song Farm

It was time: I needed some conformation pictures of my doe 'Ivy'.

But of course, you can't just take pictures of one goat, or else the others get jealous, so we had a day of it... (actually, you'll notice that Pepper and Shilling are not in these shots. They were feeling camera shy today)

My sweet Ivy Rose...


I LOVE those badger stripes of hers!


Kiwi!

Poppet the Pudgy

Poppet again!

Heidi

Ummm, Poppet -- Again.

Poppet the Fuzzball!

Oh, and one random shot of my kits. They're 10 weeks old today! One buck turned out to be a blue, and wow is he a handsome hunk. I ended up with 7 males and 2 females (why couldn't it have been the other way around??). I'm hoping to keep the two females, and maybe the blue male, since he's such a good looking fella'...