Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Cole has been usurped as His Highness of the house.  The bottle fed goat kid is stealing his spotlight.  Cole walks past her with the most loathsome looks.

Cole so very disdainful of the newbie
 For all his veterinary advice, Dr. Kjar was modestly compensated.  The two dogs, the goat and I took him out for ice cream one evening.  He's my #1 Go To Guy for farm animal concerns.

Someone who deserves many more ice cream outings for all his help over the years!
 I put up a valiant effort, but I lost my heart to the baby goatlet.  She has since been named:  Morel.  

Morel, 3 days old and already at work helping Mom
 Hey, I'm not the only one to get all daffy around a baby goat.  When the manageress at the store discovered that I was buying 2 gallons of goat milk for goat that was riding around in my car, she ditched her post and followed me out.  I left Morel in her arms while I went to the coffee shop to tank up on caffeine and warm up  the baby bottle.  When I returned they were gone.  Morel was being promenaded through the grocery store and in the break room.  Oooh would the health department love that!
I have been smart enough to delegate the task of feeding and walking (frequent potty breaks keep her from smearing herself and the inside of the crate with the most awful substance of the planet).  My clients' kids are home for Spring break and they're eager goat handlers.  
Tonight should be the last night of hard freezing.  Morel kept me company as I rolled out the tarps over the garden one more time.

Cute as a button!
Following my equine vet's advice, Angus will be receiving daily biotin supplements.  The delivery vehicle is still undetermined.  Commercial pellets are too hard to feed to only one horse in a loose herd.  A treat will be better.  But, biotin loses its potency once heated.  A no-bake cookie is my only option.  Enter tonight's culinary disaster.  The online recipe promised a dough easy to form into balls.  My 'dough' is only one step up from soup.  But, after breaking open 60 vitamin capsules, I'm not giving up.  More R & D required!

Not suitable for putting in one's pockets.
 Sneaking back to the barn to see if my favorite girl #9 is having her babies,  Jamie

Sunday, March 24, 2013


Ohhh Dr. P were art thou? 

As of Sunday morning, I have 11 live goat kids on the ground.  2 died post-delivery, suffocated in the afterbirth.  They were night time births.  Being as I have to sleep some time, I'm fairly pleased with my midwifery. 

I rant and rave that Dr. P ought to get rid of the goats and get us a real herd:  cattle, buffalo, even llamas for cryin' out loud. Alas, my aversion to the goats has been whittled away by the neediness of the nannies and the helplessness of the newborns. Conspiracy...  

Dr. P's departing instructions were to "do the best you can" and don't spend any money on them.  Gee whiz, how did he know that  I keep three vets on speed dial?

Nanny #43 has been trying to die since Wednesday, but I won't let her.  I observed her staggering around and collapsing in the pasture.  In my familiar bovine dairy experience, those are the unmistakable symptoms of milk fever (a deficiency in Calcium in the bloodstream).  Unable to reach Dr. P, not finding any Ca solution in his dispensary, I did some brainstorming with Dr. Kjar.  My friend is a retired large animal vet from Nebraska.  We concluded that an oral drench of ground up Ca/Mg would be better than a kick in the shins.  I put 43 in isolation and proceed to pump her full of minerals, electrolytes, vitamin suspensions.  This will be the fifth day that I've been attacking her with the water syringe four times a day.  I feel it necessary to continue because she won't drink water of her own will.

A call from Costa Rica came through, finally.  I was instructed to hit 43 with 2x daily thiamine injections.  I found the thiamine, expired in 2007.  Can't do any more harm, I suppose.

Saturday night, I rush home from work to find 43 down with two teeny hooves sticking out of her posterior.  When I realized that she still too weak to have proper contractions, I assisted.  My first true delivery!  I was squatting down to pull when the kid shot out and we both fell backwards.  I was just coaxing the first to try to nurse when the next one started out.  Remember The Slimer from Ghostbusters?  Well, the movie creator must have gotten the idea from seeing a farm birth, I'll say no more, even though I really want to give you all the details about the goo in my hair, on my shoes, all down my front.

 All this time spent on the goats has kept me from proceeding on the coop project.  No matter, the weather has been to cold for them to be placed outside anyway.  And a vital component is still being manufactured in Oregon.  So, for now, I've divided the chicks and turned a back room into the chicken room, complete with poultry condos.

Might need to add a few more towers by next week!
 Eventually, I will get to work today! 

Adios,  Jamie

Thursday, March 21, 2013


Two intrepid Canadians flew to the Deep South for a couple of weeks.  My mother and my stepfather divvied their time up between NC, AL and FL.

 Here at the farm, they were given the full immersion treatment.  A working holiday, I say.  Indentured servitude, others may claim!
Scrubbing our sweet potatoes
My goal is to be as self-sufficient as possible without driving myself crazy.  We prepared store bought organic chickens and pork tenderloins for smoking.  However, the goose was one that Cole and I bagged last Fall.


Chuck at the helm

Chuck flew solo on the smoker while I tinkered with other projects.

Check out those birds

Let the naysayers who claim that my oxen are useless behold the Parsnip.  Over two feet long thanks to the boys' gift to the garden.

Normal one to the left,  Steroid Parsnip to the right.

Mom demonstrating how one goes about collecting 'gifts' for the garden.

Even Cole is required to participate in his own food gathering.

Hunting in one's backyard:  bliss!

Nothing here is wasted.  That one squirrel will make a fine stew to enhance the dogs' kibbles.

Getting Cole's approval before putting it in the pot.
Visits from great friends punctuated the week.  Good reasons for dinner parties, I say!
A member of my Texas family stopped over to demonstrate his uncanny knack at poultry taming.
Sebastian...a real chick magnet.
Chuck and I played commandos at the rifle range and we went to a gun club to shoot skeet...no finer way to spend a couple afternoons.

My friend, Doyle, was our instructor.

"Did I finally hit one?"

Just as challenging and frustrating as golf.  Highly unlikely though that a bad day at the skeet range would result in a shotgun sawed into bits.  Ask my Dad what happened to his golf clubs 30 years ago after a bad round...

Chuck, the annihilator.

One night of Tornado Warnings reminded the travelling duo that they weren't in Canada anymore.  Gotta do what you can to protect your valuables from severe hail.

Trying to protect the rental car
 While Dr. Parker is on holidays, I have become farm manager.  Nothing to it really:  feeding and herding goats. 

Pied Piper
 ...unless they start dropping their babies everywhere.  I think it's time Dr. Parker got his buns off the Costa Rican beach and come home.  A first time nanny ditched her twins this afternoon in the back of the pasture.  She refused to let them nurse.  I used my powers of persuasion to readdress her attitude.  We're still in the early stages of negotiations, she no longer kicks them away and half the time, I don't need to tie her horns to a corner post and brace her with my knee to allow the kids to suckle.  Progress is good.

The barn is still my favorite place to be---even at ten o'clock at night!

 This nanny is from a long line of poor mothers.  Two years ago, she was the first goat I saved. Her mama had abandoned her too. I had to milk the colostrum from her mother and force feed her.  Let's hope she bonds to her twins overnight because I have a busy day at work tomorrow.  

It's never dull around here.   

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Poultry Times

The Girls are here...
New crop of chicks
Monday morning brought 25 pullet chicks from Iowa to the Parker Plantation.  I chose some of my favorite laying breeds:  Speckled Sussex, Ameraucana, Brahma, Faverolles, Delaware and a few broilers. 
The hatchery ships day old chicks (min. 25 to a box for body heat) through the postal service. Incredible journey!  

Currently, they reside in a toddler playpen in my multi-purpose room:  a.k.a.  guest room, tack room, feed room, tool room, yoke building shop and now it will be a chick nursery for the next couple weeks until the weather improves. 

Cole has been having anxiety attacks due to the peeping going on behind that door.  He only wishes he had opposable thumbs!

Cannibalizing the landscaping trailer

Construction of the portable chicken coop has therefore begun in earnest.  Today, I removed the tool compartment from my 16' trailer to be used as a laying box on the new trailer.
Now, all the parts are spread around the front yard waiting to be assembled.

On Friday, family from Canada will arrive for a farm sojourn.  They're in for a one-of-a-kind experience.
Chickens in the house, my two dogs, two boarding dogs, metal fabrication project in the yard and two oxen who wander in for breakfast. 

Dad gives them a day, then they'll be at the Marriott!

Mack at the breakfast table, safe from thieving horses
 This is normalcy around here and I love it!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Albany Marathon

"If found on ground, please drag across finish line"
 The Albany Marathon

Sat. March 2, 7:00 AM Albany, Georgia.

This was my fourth attempt to qualify for the Boston Marathon. 

Genius here screwed up her hotel reservation and narrowly missed sleeping in her car on a 28'F night.  Thankfully, a room was found for me on the outskirts of town.

The motel was posh.  The bed was dangerously comfortable, but I had packed 3 alarm clocks.  Sleeping Beauty wasn't about to miss her 3 AM wake up calls!  Included in the comforts from home were my coffee maker and my camp cooker to make my quinoa porridge.

With multiple layers of clothes that I planned to shed along the course, I toed up to the start line at 6:30.

Marathon pace group
 This marathon provided pacers:  professional runners who maintain a constant pace in order to finish at a set time.  I chose to run with Rich, a JAG officer.  I met him the night before at the Expo.  Serious, business-like, not bubbly and chatty as some of the other pacers, my kinda runner. 

Pacer Rich, in charge of running an 8:12/mile, finishing at 3:35 hrs

This is the running skirt he was wearing.
 The Albany Marathon honors one of their founders by fitting all the pacers with skirts.  Yeah, it was surreal at first to be following a sashaying mini skirt with hairy legs poking out the bottom.  But after a few miles,  it and the back of Rich's head were my only view.  The city's scenery is always lost on me when I race.  I'm in my zen world focusing on my running form.  I race with my MP3 player set with songs in the 180 beat per minute range.  I match the beat with my foot fall keeping me on pace.

Around mile 20, Rich's pack of runners had dwindled.  I siddled up beside him.  Apart from the occasional "You OK?", we didn't speak.  At mile 24, my answer to his question was "I'm struggling" to which he responded "No you're not".  Effective coaching.  I mulled it over and decided he was right, I passed him and finished at 3:34:30.  A full 10 minutes and 30 seconds faster than my Boston Qualifying time.  They posted partial results at the finish line.  I came in 2nd in my age group.  2nd Masters, I believe.  I'm not entirely sure what my overall standing is, the official results won't be up on the website for a few days.  I skipped out on the awards ceremony, I was too cold to hang around in 40' windy weather. 

Can you believe the start and finish lines were separated by a 30 minute walk?  Longest walk of my life back to the car.  Then try driving stick shift 2.5 hrs back to Alabama. 

Tired, but elated!

Only the Olympics Trials and the Boston Marathon require you to prequalify to register. The QT's, as they're called are set by age and gender.  Overwhelmed by applicants, the Boston organizers made the QT's more stringent by 5 minutes in 2011.  My QT is 3:45.  

2013 registration is already closed, but I'll be able to register in Sept. 2013 for the April 2oth, 2014 Boston.  They accept the fastest times within a group first, on average it fills up in the sub 5 minute fields, leaving many qualifiers unable to register.  As a sub 10:30, I'm sure to be making a trip up the East coast.   

Venison burgers

For supper, I rewarded myself with venison burgers with homemade bacon and cheese...all ingredients I have scarcely touched in months.  Sinfully good!

Now, what kind of running mischief can Cole and I get into before 2014???