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Goats, gripes, and grasping for greatness
Farming in the cold 
20th-Feb-2015 11:00 am
Goldie pbhttt
It's been a week of record cold here at the farm. No shit, it was 4 degrees when I got up this morning. Combine that cold with the usual Presidents Day Week snow, record wind chills, and my chest cold, and it's been miserable to go outside. The boy's water spigot has frozen off and on this week, so I'm back to hauling water from the kitchen. Thankfully, the girl's spigot refuses to completely freeze.

I'm rocking the Blacksburg Blimp fashion statement these days. I can put my jeans on *over* my sweatpants, so I do. I have my big blue parka of doom and my awesome gloves, and of course I have my sprinkle hat of +3 forcible cheer. The hiking socks in my muck boots aren't the greatest, but so long as my feet stay *dry* I'm ok with them being slightly cold. I admit that I need to wash some of my gear. At this point I have a faint but obvious perfume of hay, goat, llama, human sweat, and dog wafting about me when I come in from chores. The dog, of course, thinks nothing of it. And speaking of dog. Wow. On a cold clear day, I can smell freshly laid dog shit all the way across the yard. That stuff is *powerful*.

The goats haven't suffered too terribly for the cold this time. They have their barns, their hay, their heated water buckets, and a good covering of fleece . A few years ago, I changed my shearing schedule to better match the various goat shows, and now I get the goats sheared sometime towards the beginning of June and the end of November. So right when it is record cold this week, my goats have a good two inches of fleece and some of them are also warm with pregnancy. The little and fragile girls also have the heat lamp on all the time, which doesn't do a lot. But combine the heat lamp with the llama, and they have a lot more ambient warmth available than anyone else in the herd.

On the sad side, Summer-goat is nothing but an animate patchy rug over a skeleton frame at this point. I doubt she even weighs 50 pounds anymore. Jessie is likewise ancient, but hasn't lost so much condition as Summer. They both are still walking, eating, and pooping, so there's not a lot I can do besides keep them fed, watered, and dewormed.

There are a lot of toe problems that I can't fix right now because at this temperature cutting goat toenails is beyond my hand strength. But fortunately toe issues aren't usually fatal. (Toe issues cause goats not to want to walk/stand to eat, but with all the hay around, they can just lie down and eat right now.)

On the happy side, everyone else is doing ok right now. Anna is her usual pregnant-hippo size. Betty is likewise getting blimpy. I'm willing to say that we have five expectant mothers now: Anna, Betty, Pansy, Alys, and Ginger. My initial guess is that they will kid in that order, too. Anna and Betty are likely to twin, while the other three will have singles. Seven kids is plenty. I just want healthy moms and babies, especially Pansy.

And while I'm sorry they are dead, I'm not sorry the chickens are gone. Not having to deal with chickens in snow or in record cold is quite nice.
21st-Feb-2015 02:12 am (UTC)
The "+3 hat of forcible cheer" made me giggle ... a lot. I admire you afar for the life you've chosen - and once again, I'm glad it's not me. You're a brave and hearty soul.

Oh, tonight I found an old-ish book in the used bookstore and bought it because I fell in love with *1* pattern.
23rd-Feb-2015 08:55 pm (UTC)
I'm glad! I'm glad you were there to see the sprinkle hat be finished. Wheee!
I don't know about "brave and hearty" but I'll go with "stubborn and loyal."
I hope you share your book sometime so we can all admire the pattern.
23rd-Feb-2015 03:42 am (UTC)
I second the smiles your "sprinkle hat of +3 forcible cheer" generates. :) Sorry that you have a chest cold. :( I'm loving this cold and snow though I know most are not. I'm also grateful that my office has a pretty lenient remote work policy such that I haven't had to hunt for additional child care. The girls are all old enough so that they don't require constant supervision - just food and occasional refereeing. Hope you're staying warm aside from chores!!
23rd-Feb-2015 08:56 pm (UTC)
I've figured out pretty warm outfits - so long as I don't get wet - and it's not all that miserable if the wind isn't too hard (and I'm not sick). And yes, telework is fabulous!

Edited at 2015-02-23 08:57 pm (UTC)
(Deleted comment)
14th-Apr-2015 08:29 pm (UTC)
*snort* Yes, you are all kinds of sunshine and light. The pessimistic side is that it is getting warm now - and it's only mid-April! - so all of those lovely fleeced goats are hot and miserable in 80 degrees.
14th-Apr-2015 08:31 pm (UTC)
And I have to point out that, while I was totally wrong about Betty and Pansy's pregnancies, they were the gift goats. The three goats that *I* had control over did kid in exactly the order listed: Anna, Alys, Ginger.
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