Category Archives: Goats

2023 on the Homestead

Back in August I posted with an update on our season up until then. Now that 2023 is over I can give you a review of our full season as I take time in this quieter time of year to reflect.

A Great Butternut Year

I was moved to post about our season in August because of the challenges. I have written many summaries that cite drought as a limiting factor but this is the first one I’ve done where excessive rain is what caused us problems. That issue continued for the rest of the year. However, some of our fall crops were better than expected so our season did pick up towards the end.

To be consistent over time, I have kept most of the same topic headings as in previous years.

Weather & Water

This summer was the wettest on record for New Hampshire with 21 inches of rain recorded for June, July and August, 8 inches more than the average.

Given the recent droughts it’s hard to be annoyed by rain, but it definitely turned out there was such a thing as too much. We did not experience direct damage in our systems, like erosion, but the wet conditions still caused problems, the biggest one being plant diseases appearing and spreading more than usual.

Our water catchment systems came in handy in a different way than intended. Some of the storms had torrential rain that could have washed out paths and other areas. By emptying the storage totes in between storms we could keep the water in place and slowly drain it over a longer time period.

Our biggest crop loss actually had to do with the winter weather. The polar vortex in February destroyed our – and New England’s – entire peach crop. That was a big loss for us, as long-time readers will know I do a lot with peaches!

Rodents, Pests and Diseases

Basil – surprisingly undaunted by the wet conditions this year

As I mentioned, we did have more disease issues than usual this year. There was some sort of bacterial wilt that shortened the lifespan of a few of our crops: peas, cucumbers, and summer squash.

This year we took further measures to protect our plants from animals, especially porcupines and voles. First, for the porcupines, we added another run of fencing that includes a gate across the driveway that we close at night. It did not work at first because it turns out the porcupines can climb fences like a ladder. But with the addition of one string of electric along the top, we finally convinced them that our pear trees were not worth coming after. This also keeps out the deer, which weren’t a huge problem but sometimes did come through and nibble.

Vole Protected Root Crops

To deal with the voles we have started making garden beds that sit on metal mesh hardware cloth and have wooden sides. This uses more materials than my usual mound garden beds, but it is working. So, for the carrots and beets we plan to make more of these beds. We planted our potatoes in big plastic barrels cut in half. It did keep out the voles, but yields were very low. I had been worried about them drying out so positioned them in a somewhat shady area which was a mistake in such cloudy, wet weather. I also think they weren’t draining well enough since in a few of them the tubers just rotted. We’ll try again next year.

Gorgeous Spring Kale, Before the Caterpillars

The past two years we have had big outbreaks of caterpillars eating our brassicas. While I have always dealt with imported cabbageworm and cabbage looper, we suddenly have an overwhelming number of what I believe are cross-striped cabbageworms. These used to only be a problem in the South, but they have been making their way north with the changing climate. We are finding them far more destructive than other Brassica pests. Since we do not use any chemicals, we will look into barrier methods such as growing in hoop houses or under row cover.

Labor

The one upside to less productivity this year, was less physical work to do. Given that my arm injury was at its worst this year, it would have been a struggle to cut peaches for canning or keep up with much bigger yields.

It did give me more time to invest in some other important work in the world. We hosted more Seacoast Permaculture gatherings and classes and I became chair of the board for New Hampshire Peace Action which has been going through a transition in leadership, thus needing more volunteer help. To a large extent I came to farming and homesteading through being an activist, particularly a peace activist, in the tradition of The Nearings and others. So, to me, this is connected and complementary work anyway.

Animals: Bees

I continue to take a break from beekeeping while I try to heal my arm injury.

Diana and her triplets!

Animals: Goats & Pasture

Luna and her daughter, Diana, were this year’s mama goats.

The birthings went well, I’m relieved to say. However, Diana gave birth to triplets (which is a lot for a first time) and did not take to motherhood easily. There was about an hour when we thought she might entirely reject her kids – heartbreaking. But, we gave her support and coaching and she finally figured it out. That said, she was not an enthusiastic mother and did not give a lot of milk, so she will not be incorporated into the herd permanently. Luna, who is our star goat, had twin girls this year, and we will keep both of them. Hopefully at least one will be as great as their mom – healthy, vigorous, easy kidder, attentive mother and good milk producer. Making decisions like this is not easy for us, but we see careful breeding as our duty to the herd. (Note that

Luna with her kids, Maeve and Fionnuala, 5 months old

if you are buying goats or other working animals, I highly encourage you to buy from people who do cull and eat their animals, otherwise you are likely being sold their rejected stock.)

 

We are increasingly skilled at rotating the herd through our pastures, and the land is responding beautifully. Lots of lush green, very little bare ground, soil further coming to life and building up organic matter, carbon and nutrients. The positive power of well-managed grazing animals to improve land is amazing to witness!

Goats on Good Pasture

Our two new boy goats, Zac and Ike, who arrived Fall 2022 settled in well and Zac proved his ability to do his job – Diana’s triplets were his kids.  Ike is the polled (born without horns) whethered (neutered) companion for Zac.  I worried that an unhorned male would get pushed around a lot by our big horned boys, but he has tons of attitude and less threatening hormones so he appears to get his way more than anyone else!

 

Animals: Poultry

New Ducks

We incubated a couple rounds of chickens to raise for new young hens and meat. In the spring our two youngest female ducks disappeared, likely taken by aerial predators. A friend of ours who has good luck hatching ducklings helped us out with two rounds resulting in seven ducks. Only two were female but, well, better than none! Also our drake happened to die over the summer so we were able to replace him.

Grains

Despite last year’s promising test plots, our wheat failed this year. The fall planted crop didn’t overwinter well, and my attempts at spring planting may have been too late, or maybe birds and rodents ate the seed before I got there.

Red Sails Lettuce

Harvest totals 2023

Here is what we brought into the house and remembered to weigh. As you’ll see, some things had decreased yields, notably the cucumbers, summer squash, potatoes, kale & collards. There are a few things that I purposely planted less of, so if you compare years you would notice a decrease.  These were intentional to better match what we need: garlic, radishes, snap beans. Our root numbers, especially beets and carrots are still low but should be recovering as we change our practices. At least this time I did not plant 10 times as much seed to get about the same number of carrots and beets.

On the other hand, check out our winter squash numbers! Also, dry beans and popcorn did extra well. Our small fruits had generally strong yields, too.

Alliums – garlic – 25.5 pounds (#) (155 heads); 150 garlic tops; leeks – 42.25#, perennial onions – 9.25#

Beans & Peas – snap beans – 50.75#; dry beans – 23.5#; sugar snap peas – 3.75#

Brassicas – broccoli – 8#; brussels sprouts – 9#; kale/collard – 12#

Calico Popcorn still on ears

Corn, popcorn – 10.5#

Cucumber – 39.5#

Eggplant – 14#

Melons – 7.5#

Greens – lettuce – 8.25#; nettles – 2#

Herbs – basil – 5#; dill – 1#

Mushrooms, winecap – 2#

Potatoes – 16.5#

Roots – beets – 11.75#; carrots – 30.75#; parsnips – 28.5#; radishes

Winter Squash Vines

– 58; turnips (gold ball) – 13.5#

Squash – summer – 25.25#; winter (butternut, long pie and Seminole) – 939.5#

Tomato – slicing – 29.75#; plum – 14.5#; cherry – 27#

Wheat – crop failed!

Fruit: azarole – 1#; blueberry – 6#; crabapples – 39.5#; currants, red & white – 2.5#; clove currants – 18.5#; elderberry – 3#; grapes – 13.5#; honeyberry – 2.25#; jostaberry – 5.5#; mulberry – 2.25#; raspberry – 2#; rhubarb – 17.5#

Maple syrup – 2.5 gallons

Sea salt – 1 gallon

We brought in 91 gallons of goat milk (from 4 goats); 28.5# goat meat; 3# goat lard

Our poultry harvest came to: 1,571 (130.9 dozen) chicken eggs from 12 hens; 480 (40 dozen) duck eggs from 3 ducks; chicken meat – 56#; duck meat – 6#

Gleaned/gathered off-farm crops: apples – 800#; blueberries we picked from Tuckaway Farm – 49#

Food Preserving

One of our Winter Squash Storage Shelves

Preserving food for the off-season is how we eat from our land year-round. Here’s a summary of what I put up from the harvest I just detailed:

Canned: applesauce – 20 pints; blueberries – 40 pints

Dried: kale/collards – 3 gallon bags; grapes (raisins) – 2 pts

Refrigerated: lactofermented cucumber pickles – 9 quarts

Frozen: blueberries – 2 gallon bags; grapes – 4 gallons; various berries – 6 gallons; snap beans – 12 pts; eggplant – 4 qts; summer squash – 6 qts; basil/garlic pesto – 13 pints; chevre cheese – 10 pints; mozzarella cheese – 12#; and most of the meat.

We also store these crops in a cold room or on the shelf: dried beans, popcorn, garlic, potatoes, carrots, beets, parsnips, turnips, winter squash, and apples.

Looking Ahead

My homestead plans for the coming year are to continue to refine our current systems to be more effective, easy to use, and in some cases more productive. A lot of the infrastructure work has been done here. I wouldn’t say this is our “lie in a hammock” time, but I do expect that we will continue to shift to even more harvesting with less big project work. That is the goal of permaculture… there is a lot of work up front to create the systems, and they will always need some attention, but the workload should not be as intense as we go along.

I’m going to try again with grain growing this year. And with any luck, I will have lots of peaches to can this time around!

Gorgeous Peach Tree… Hoping for Fruit in 2024

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Filed under Chickens, Ducks, Food Preservation, Gardens, Goats, Uncategorized, Weather

2022 on the Homestead

Before the 2023 growing season starts, I am taking some time to pause and assess last year on the homestead, in our permacultural ‘observe and interact’ way.

As an overview, I would say it was a tough year due to yet another drought, but that we managed to have a respectable harvest anyway due to adaptations we made. As always, some crops thrived while others did not. For consistency, in this blog I have kept the same topic headings as in previous years – plus a special section on new projects including our experiment with wheat growing!

Starting Seeds

Starting Seeds Indoors

My growing season got off to a solid start in March with indoor seed starting. I continue to be satisfied with the peat-free seed starting mix from Organic Mechanics mixed with our worm castings.

Sticking with newer seed and storing it well has kept my germination rates high the past few years. I am also doing more of my own seed saving, which means a yearly refresh of my supply. Some seed saving is easy, like flowers, herbs, and beans. Other types require more thought but are accessible, like lettuce, radish, and tomatoes. Still others are challenging, like squash, and biennial roots. My strategy is to add one or two types of seed to my repertoire every year rather than overwhelm myself by trying to do it all right away.

Weather and Water

Unfortunately but not unexpectedly, serious droughts are coming more frequently (‘abnormal dryness’ and ‘moderate’ droughts do come and go here somewhat regularly). In 2016 it felt like a shock after nearly two decades of normal precipitation. It was a relief when that ended, but an even worse dry period hit us in 2020. That one barely let up before another started in mid 2022.

Rain Water Storage

So, we relied on the upgraded water catchment system we installed last year, with four 275 gallon totes. Watering is not as thorough as rain, and it’s a lot of work, but it did save our plants and allow for a decent harvest.

Rodents, Pests and Diseases

Rodents continue to be a problem for us, especially voles. Now, I am aware that small mammals are critically important in our ecosystems and that populations are collapsing in some places (examples include China and England).  Loss of biodiversity is a dangerous and heartbreaking phenomenon, so I really don’t want to complain too much about healthy numbers of critters! However, the voles are taking too much of my root crops to be ignored.

I think there are two main reasons my preferred strategy of waiting for their predators to bring numbers back down is not working. First, our milder winters allow more of them to survive and breed. Second, because we have extensive fencing to protect our animals from predators, our gardens from deer, and now our orchards from porcupines we’ve created an especially safe haven for the furry little ones.

Raised Beds for Root Crops

So, we are starting to institute more drastic measures for crop protection. Last year I moved these crops out of the annual garden, but the voles just followed me. Friends gave me two very raised garden beds when they moved last year and they grew some

Carrots from the Raised Beds

awesome, not-at-all-chewed-up carrots. We’ll be building more, although we will put them on the ground with metal hardware cloth under them and see how that works.

 

We are considering growing our potatoes in large plastic barrels. I avoid plastic as much as possible and would rather grow everything directly in the ground, but I need to try something.

We have attracted the attention of porcupines. I find these animals adorable and love the sounds they make. They were, however, starting to do some real damage in our orchard. They especially love young pear trees. Deer are always an issue as well, so we did a serious fencing expansion that should keep both species at bay without our having to become more aggressive with them. We’re hoping that good fences will make good neighbors in this case (although I am much more a supporter of ‘tear down the walls’ actions in human interactions)!

Otherwise, we didn’t have major pest or disease outbreaks, which surprised me during such a stressful drought. In fact, there were so few vine borers we had the best summer squash harvest of our lives! I did have my usual struggle with caterpillars in the brassicas, which row cover and hand picking mostly kept in check. The Brussels sprouts were a little bit overrun, with all those nooks and crannies that the critters can hide in.

Labor

I continued my new pattern of driving to events less and using Zoom more thus having a little more time to keep up with the work here. I also did cut back in a few areas because I have been dealing with tendonitis in my arm, which made my workload more realistic. Which brings me to…

Animals: Bees

I have decided to take a break from beekeeping. My arm injury was definitely being exacerbated by the particular stress of frame lifting and moving the boxes. Bees are also difficult and many years disappointing, so a break from that is welcome. I hope to try again in 2024.

Animals: Goats and Pasture

Lily with this year’s kids

Spring birthing went well for both Lily and Georgia, our two pregnant does for the year. Pasture management was more challenging in the drought but we did ok in keeping the land covered and green. We could use more land to rotate the goats through for better parasite prevention in the herd, but what we’re doing is working well enough for now.

The big goat news is the arrival of new boys! In order to avoid inbreeding, we need some amount of turnover in the buck population and it was time. We found a breeder who had similar practices, made arrangements when kids were born in the spring, and picked up a pair – a buckling for breeding and his wethered (neutered) brother as his forever friend. I don’t like to buy or sell just one animal. I think going alone to a new place where they are likely to be quarantined for weeks is far too stressful. Zac and Ike (named for characters from 800 Words, FYI) have since joined the other boys – Marley the buck and Pinky the wether. Zac already got to prove his worth this Fall, spending two afternoons with Diana, who will be giving birth in early April!

Zac, Ike and Pinky

Animals: Poultry

This was an area we thought we’d pare back our plans to be sure of having enough good pasture. We hatched out 26 chickens and 2 ducklings. However, one of the hens had other ideas.  Without our even noticing, she made a nest in the brushy field and successfully brooded 14 chicks! I only figured it out when I heard that loud, distinctive peeping and found her strutting around surrounded by little ones. So, whoops, suddenly we had 40 chickens in the works. We were impressed with and grateful to the mama, and embraced the abundance, even if it was a little overwhelming.

New Projects: Maple Syrup and Wheat

Our Own Maple Syrup

Given that we are having trouble with the bees, we decided it was time to try maple sugaring. We had done a batch about 10 years ago, tapping a few red maples on our property and boiling the sap indoors leading to a harvest of… a pint or so. Not impressive! This time we invested in equipment to more easily collect the sap and boil it outside. We also reached out to neighbors for permission to tap their trees, too, if they weren’t doing it themselves, including a few sugar maples. The extra investment and work improved our yield to about 2 gallons. It is significant work, but we appreciate that it comes at a time of year that is otherwise quiet for us. We plan to keep that going and do even more in the future.

Years ago at a NOFA Summer Conference, I attended a workshop on home-scale grain growing in the Northeast, something I hadn’t considered even possible. I was so excited, but also intimidated to try it myself. A few years ago I gave it a try but the harvest was eaten by birds, mostly goldfinches. This past year, I tried again, growing a test plot in a bed 3 feet by 8 feet. I am thrilled to report that it worked! We managed to bring it in before the songbirds ate it all, dried it, threshed and winnowed, ground the wheat berries… and made an amazing loaf of bread! Threshing was the hardest part and I hope we can refine that. But, I am convinced now that it’s possible and planted 4x as much in the fall for a 2023 harvest. The global wheat shortage is likely to only get worse, so I’m doing my part to help localize this crop. We’ve been buying wheat berries from Maine for years, and this was the first year they sold out of the variety we wanted.

Growing Wheat

Drying Wheat

Bread from our own Wheat!

 

 

 

 

Harvest totals 2022

This accounts for what we brought into the house and remembered to weigh, which we mostly succeed in doing – except many overgrown cukes, kale, basil and zucchini were fed straight to the animals this year.

Alliums – garlic – 34.5 pounds (#) (185 heads); garlic tops – 180; leeks – 60.25#, perennial onions – 9.25#

Beans and Peas – snap beans – 90.75#; dry beans – 10#; sugar snap peas – 7#

Brassicas – broccoli – 13.75#; brussels sprouts – 9#; kale/collard – 42.5#

Harvest in July

Corn, popcorn – 7.25#

Cucumber – 128.5#

Eggplant – 13.5#

Greens – lettuce – 6.25#; nettles – 2.25#

Herbs – basil – 2.25#; dill – 1#

Mushrooms, winecap – 4.5#

Potatoes – 39#

Roots – beets – 4.5#; carrots – 45.75#; parsnips – 16.25#; radishes – 196 (here’s where the voles were: potatoes, beets, carrots, parsnips!)

Summer Squash

Squash – summer – 244#; winter (butternut, delicata, long pie and Seminole) – 790.25# (it was a great squash year)

Tomato – slicing – 30.25#; cherry -11.5#

Wheat – 2#

Fruit: azarole – 16.5; crabapples – 118.5#; currants, red and white -18#; elderberry – 5.75#; grapes – 40.5#; honeyberry – 2#; mulberry – 2.25#; peaches – 182.5# (from 4 trees); rhubarb – 12.5#

Maple syrup – 2 gallons

Sea salt – 3 quarts

We brought in 87.3 gallons of goat milk (from 3 goats); 83# goat meat; 10# goat lard

Our poultry harvest came to: 1,385 (115 dozen) chicken eggs from 12 hens; 710 (59 dozen) duck eggs from 7 ducks; chicken meat – 89.5#; duck meat – 6.5#

Stored Crops

Food Preserving

Preserving food for the off-season is necessary for us to eat from our land year-round. Here’s a summary of what I put up from the harvest I just detailed, plus some gleaned crops:

Canned: peaches -25 quarts; grape juice – 18 pints; grape jelly – 4 pints; clove currants – 13 pints; elderberry syrup – 4 pints; applesauce from gleaned apples – 6 pints; pears, gleaned – 29 pints; blueberries from berries picked at Tuckaway Farm – 15 pints; strawberries – 27 pints and strawberry juice – 11 pints from berries picked at East Wind Farm

Dried: peaches – 5#; kale/collards – 8 gallon bags; tomatoes – 1# ; grapes (raisins) – 2.5#

Refrigerated: lactofermented cucumber pickles – 10 quarts

Frozen: blueberries from Tuckaway – 2 gallon bags; snap beans – 10#; eggplant – 5#; summer squash – 30#; basil/garlic pesto – 5 pints; chevre cheese – 10 pints; mozzarella cheese – 10#; and most of the meat.

We also store these crops that aren’t preserved exactly, just handled and stored properly: dried beans, popcorn, garlic, potatoes, carrots, beets, parsnips, winter squash, pears and apples.

Looking Ahead

So far, 2023 has been a tough year for me. Despite taking many precautions, I had my first bout of COVID starting in January and after two months I’m still not fully recovered.  While not life-threatening, it was otherwise worse than I’d expected. The only upside was that it hit me in the quiet season on the farm. Meanwhile, my arm injury is still aggravated. I am therefore trying to allow for a less demanding workload coming up in an effort to fully heal. Taking a break from beekeeping is the major change I’ve made to that end. We also didn’t order very many trees for spring planting. Upkeep and getting the most out of what we have already going on will be the focus.

That will include a nice big garden, the expanded wheat trials, and more protective ways of growing root crops. We have goat kids coming in early April, and will raise more chickens.

I hope to keep writing, now that I have figured out how to use the speech recognition on the computer which saves my arm quite a bit of stress. Thanks for reading and I hope you had a good 2022 and your 2023 is going well so far! 

Here’s my most interesting image from 2022:

Snakes in our crabapple tree in the fall!

 

 

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Filed under Food Preservation, Gardens, Goats, Permaculture principles, Uncategorized, Weather

Culture

Zac & Ike

In August we brought two new boy goats onto our homestead. We do this every few years in order to avoid inbreeding in our herd. Over the winter we researched goat farms with different genetics from our animals who shared similar values and practices. We wanted them to allow the kids to be raised by their mothers, to keep the goats horned, to minimize medications and to breed for a good milk supply. When the kids were born in the spring, we checked them out online and reserved two: a buckling from their best milker for breeding and his polled brother, who would be wethered (neutered), to keep him company.

We manage our herd to maximize environmental sustainability and the well-being of the animals. To me, their well-being includes paying attention to their social needs. I know that some people think I’m silly, maybe even “not a real farmer” because of this. However, so many of the problems people tell me about their goat-keeping attempts trace back to their not understanding those particular needs. One of the most basic of those is that as herd animals, goats should not be alone. This is why I don’t sell goats singly, and why we brought home two when we really just needed the one buck.

The farm we were buying them from is two hours away from us. It was a fine trip there, listening to Sproutlands by William Bryant Logan. On the way back, though, each in their own dog crate separate from each other and taken away from their home, the little guys had many loud, scared complaints that I tried not to let completely break my heart.

Our New Boy Goats Arrive!

When the boys got here, they needed to be separated – quarantined – from the other goats. Although the farm they came from is reputable and does the appropriate disease testing, sometimes issues are missed and we take biosecurity seriously, prevention being worth so much more than cure. The newcomers are supposed to be adding value to the herd not infecting them with diseases or parasites. Also, giving them time to get to know the other goats from afar makes for a more

Marley, Our Resident Buck

peaceful eventual integration. These two would be going to live with our other two boys, who were years older and at least double their size.

So, we fenced off an area and set up a shelter with food and water and bedding. I was proud of the little home we put together. However, they had other priorities. From the moment they got here their focus was on our resident goats. The boys called and called to them, stood looking at them, and slept in the corner of the yard that was closest to them despite how unsheltered it was and its lack of food, water and bedding.  Listen to them here: 

 

I wasn’t terribly surprised by this behavior, figuring they are herd animals and thus want to be with the rest of the herd.

Right around this time, I happened to watch a talk from Biodiversity for a Livable Climate entitled “How Animals Shape Ecosystems” featuring Carl Safina talking about animal cultures. He mentioned programs that raise endangered animals then release them into the wild and how much more successful they are if there are still some wild animals of the same kind there for the newcomers to learn from. The way he defined “culture” amazed me. Here’s a quote from his Living On Earth interview: “Culture is the behaviors, the habits, and even the attractions that we learn socially and that are transmitted socially. The amazing thing to me is that, whether it’s human, modern, Western technological culture, or whether it’s sperm whales, culture basically does the same things for social beings. It answers the question of, how do we live here, where we live?”

My shortened version is: Culture is how we learn to live successfully in our specific place on the planet.

Suddenly, my view of what the little boy goats were doing

The herd likes to be together

took on a deeper meaning. They weren’t just looking for safety in numbers, they wanted to join the existing group to learn from them how to successfully live in this place that was new to them.

It also shifted my view on current human cultures. Previously I thought of culture as a collection of stuff (music, dance, dress, etc) that people in a place ended up doing that became important to their group identity. I appreciated and found the diversity fascinating, but saw it as somewhat ephemeral and random. Now, I see that those acts and items are an expression of what culture really is – an understanding of what to do, what to eat, what to wear, how to work together and connect that helps a group fit sustainably into a particular place (Darwin’s survival of those who best fit into their environment comes back to us here). I see also that the way so many of us have been forced out of our traditional places has us confused.  Our carefully created ways of living don’t necessarily apply to our new environment, but the work of developing new strategies takes time – and sometimes fails, especially if we cannot connect with those who have belonged to that place before us.

Maybe this is part of the reason why so many cultures right now are dysfunctional enough to not live up to the title of “culture” as they seem to teach people ways of being that actually destroy our ability to survive. It also sheds more light on why Indigenous people comprise less than 5% of the world population but protect 80% of the Earth’s biodiversity. Respecting and protecting their rights, saying no to market schemes that push them off their lands, and humbly turning to them as our teachers and leaders could be a key to our surviving and thriving – our goats could tell us that!

Socializing the New Guys

In the case of our new guys, we had good reason to keep them by themselves for awhile, and we were here to help them survive during the quarantine period. We took our cue from them about what they most needed and created a plywood lean-to in the spot they picked up against the barn. After two months with no health concerns coming up, we shifted fences so they could have some nose-to-nose contact with the boys they would eventually live with. The little buckling had a romantic day with Diana which seems to have resulted in a pregnancy. To be extra safe, Steve built a secondary shelter in the older boy’s yard with entrances too small for the adults to fit through. When we actually did bring them

Shelter Only Accessible By Smaller Goats

together, there was a lot of sniffing, a little pushing and shoving… and then a lot of welcome quiet for me! After months of those little boys calling and crying and worrying me that something was terribly wrong with them, it seems they really did just want to be with more of their own kind. Phew!

As a bonus, I have another book to add to my winter reading list: Becoming Wild: How Animal Cultures Raise Families, Create Beauty, and Achieve Peace. The promise of more rest and great learning makes the cold and dark less daunting as we enter December.

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