Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Springtime on the farm

Yesterday was a lovely spring day here in Grays Harbor County.  I took the opportunity to replace the feeder and waterer in the chicken coop and fix the gate to their yard.  It was fun hanging out with the happy chickens, who rewarded me with three fresh eggs.

Then I finally addressed the neglected hooves of the three female goats.  I should really have someone film this process, which is just not a one-person job.  I'm lucky I have dwarf goats, because I have to chase and wrestle them to get a good hold on their forelegs, which I turn up, while pinning the goat against a fence.  I quickly scrape the caked mud out of the crevices with the blade of my clippers, cut the overgrown flaps from the edges, and snip off the flesh at the rear of the hoof, which otherwise builds up like a callus.  Often, as I'm clipping away on a rear hoof, the goat starts raising the leg higher and higher, rearing up its entire backside, then dropping onto its front knees, moaning pathetically.  I try to follow through with my task, getting into a more and more acrobatic position with the goat, a bit like Capoeira.  Then I get the goat back upright and start on the next hoof.  I usually suffer intense back pain and stiffness after the whole process is over.

Yesterday, I focused on the females because I am going to sell them.  The flyer is ready to go to the feed store, and I'm bracing myself to let go of my sweet girls.  I hope they will find new homes with more consistent care, and provide milk for someone's family.  While I'm spending time with them, I begin to backpedal on my plan.  Maybe I should breed them and milk them instead?  But, I really don't need one more daily task, and both Mike and Anouk refuse to drink goat milk.  I could make cheese and soap, but...will I?  We have the humongous garden, bees, and chickens.  I think that's plenty.  Plus, I'm keeping my two boys.

Speaking of bees, we just ordered a second hive.  The first hive was out and about yesterday, enjoying the sun.  I hope to get more competent as a beekeeper this year, and to improve the chicken coop a bit.  By fall, I want to have a light with a timer in the coop so that we don't go quite so many months without eggs.

Otherwise, we have piles of seeds on our dining room table and kitchen counter, and I'll start weeding and tilling beds this month.  Potatoes should go in the ground next week, and I have already planted beets and cauliflower under glass jars (my little experiment.)  I still have spinach, kale and parsnips in the dirt, though I have to admit, I have totally lost interest in them.

Every spring feels like a new start.  Every year we get a bit better at this.

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