Of course the goats wanted to
be on top of the new manger.
The thin plywood lid was collapsing when they stood on it, which could be a safety issue if they fall the wrong way.
Adding some 2x4's for support makes it more standable.
know that some weeks it seems like all I do is talk about goats and
books. So why not shake it up...and talk about goat books?!
When I first started researching goats, my first stop was Storey's Guide to Raising Dairy Goats. The Storey series is usually a safe bet for encyclopedia-style information on livestock combined with beautiful pictures, and this book was no different (although a little less in-depth than some). If you've never met a goat before and are only going to get one book, this is probably the one to buy.
But once I finished that beginner guide...I still felt like a beginner. So I moved on to Raising Goats Naturally. Deborah Niemann's book is also an introduction to goat care, but it's written in a more chatty, first-person fashion (a lot like my own books), which I suspect turns some people away. However, since I'm aware that all one-author books inevitably share that person's biases and knowledge gaps, I enjoyed the honesty of Niemann's book and definitely pulled out some interesting tidbits that weren't covered in the Storey guide. Specifically, I learned that you should always breed miniature or partially miniature goats with bucks that are as small as the doe or smaller so that you don't have to worry about extra-large kids causing problems coming out. This and other factoids probably seem obvious to many of you, but I sucked them up happily, glad to have someone else's experiences to help me avoid beginner mistakes.
By the time I finished Niemann's book, I was starting to feel more like an accomplished goatkeeper...but I still didn't have goats. Since I couldn't move up our goat-arrival date, I settled on getting another book instead, this time Natural Goat Care by Pat Coleby. I'll admit up front that our two spoiled darlings arrived when I was only a quarter of the way through Coleby's book and my attention quickly turned to real, live goats, so I've still got a lot left to read, but I think that this book makes a very good addition to the beginning goatkeeper's knowledge-base...as long as you take the contents with a grain of salt. Coleby veers a little too far toward the personal-experience/no-science side for my tastes in a few spots, but most of her book walks a more middle ground. And she presents intriguing suggestions about how the prehistory of goats impacts their current needs, explaining that goats' tendency to browse on tree leaves means that the animals can develop mineral deficiencies when dining primarily on short-rooted grasses in human-build pastures. In turn, Coleby asserts that those cravings are what spur goats to break out of our pastures...which may be wishful thinking, but is worth considering.
I'd be curious to hear from our readers. Which other goat books do you feel help beginners turn into permaculture goat herders? Did I miss an obvious introductory text from my lineup?
Riding in our backseat lately is a rough equivalent to an old fashion hay ride.
Thanks for reminding me of debtakeover.
We enjoyed our first and possibly only roast brussels sprouts of the season Tuesday, the combination of a new variety and an extremely wet fall meaning that the plants blighted instead of thrived.
The experience made me think about how frequently home gardeners give
up on a crop because of a single failure, when what they really should
have gotten out of the experience was an impulse to figure out what made
their plants refuse to grow.
For example, I often hear from folks who think carrots aren't worth growing, while for us the tasty roots are an easy crop. Well, an easy crop as long as I pay attention and make sure their seeds germinate during the summer heat. And as long as I locate the root vegetables in loose, humus-rich soil. So, not really an easy crop, but easy once you figure out what factors of your unique site are standing in the way of getting a stellar carrot crop.
Now that the cold weather
has truly set in and most of you have nothing left to plant for the
year, why not spend a few hours thinking back over your garden past?
When you look at all of those luscious-looking pictures in the seed
catalogs this winter, try to ignore the pretty photos and tantalizing
descriptions. Instead, seek out the less sensational but more important
notes on which blights each variety is resistant to and how well they do
in other difficult situations that your garden will throw at them in
the year to come.
And, as a reward, next year your garden will grow twice as well!
- Add a propellor property that installs debootstrap. Portably, on any distro.
- Enhance propellor's self-bootstrap code so it falls back from using apt to install ghc to downloading the haskell platform, so that it will work on any distro.
- Then, add a chroot Property, which debootstraps a chroot, and runs propellor inside it, deploying the set of Properties that the chroot is configured to have.
- Add systemd container support to that, beause it would be easy and would be very similar to propellor's existing docker support.
- Here's where it gets crazy: Add an
explodeChrootproperty, which sets up a chroot as above, but then deletes the entire system it's run in, replacing it with the files from the chroot..
- Write a few other properties as needed to make that chroot bootable. (grub installed, fstab configured, etc)
So, you point that config file at some random VM as provided by a VPS provider, which may be full of cruft or not the right distribution at all. And it either turns into a cleanly installed system meeting the Properties of your choice (incuding distribution), or more likely, trashes it so it can't boot.
(It would also be some partition setup properties away from d-i 2.0prealphajustkiddingonlyforhaskellprogrammers, but the clean VM installer seems more novel and interesting.)
Cooincidentally, I'm halfway through reading Schild's Ladder, in which posthumans are racing to keep away from a glitch in the fabric of space-time which is destroying the galaxy. Some of them want to try to destroy the glitch. Some want to stop it expanding, but think it's too interesting to destroy. Some want to study it. Factions form and tensions grow and research progress slows. And then it turns out it's full of fecund, crazy planc-scale life, and maybe it should expand out into the universe which looks pretty sterile and empty by comparison. Maybe they can make their way inside.
Wow, 10 °F / -12 °C
Will be colder by morning. Put another log in the stove.
A pefect winter night. Milky way, crackling frost, and numb fingers.
This, unfortunately, opens the possibility that the selection of new members to the technical committee will somehow be biased by looking at their voting record. Potential for ugly political maneuvering ahead.
Swimming seventeen was India
put around me
thrust into me
in the best of ways
immersed in that foriegn wonder.
I'm still interpretting the message
left by the dolphins
in the world
between our minds.
Did you know
a wild animal
can carry a legacy
to change your whole life?
What does one conversation mean?
Maybe the most magical
moment I'll get.
A friend told me I was chosen
by the dolphin messenger.
And now this is the truth I know.
lusting for the past is an ineffective way.
Put these moments in your pocket
Two: Yes you need to save the planet
and keep swimming even when things look grim.
Three: The dolphin came for you.
You were chosen in that deep eyed moment
because you too are fascinating and wild.
Four: Keep exploring the fantastic in between.
Suddenly lowendbox.com makes a lot more sense!
Propellor can, at last, work without any central git repo!
Spent most of today making propellor's protocol include a git push. Actually, the server pulls from the client over the ssh connection that the client makes to the server. Weird and awesome.
Abigail discovered how to
escape from one of her pastures today.
We think she used an edge on the other side of this stump to climb up and over.
Trimming the stump and adding a few pieces of wood might be enough to keep her in.
If it's not broke, don't fix it. That is what my long term nurse said when I called and spoke with her on the phone. My doctor was, YES, talking in dreams. But the nurse who has helped me through decades of illness says it is not worth the risk. Maybe she's right.
A free CA that works with server-side software to auto-deploy and renew SSL certs.
My old pal Seth Schoen is involved (though not his ascii beard), I'm excited.
Ever since we got goats, I've been building them a new "tractor"
every day out of cattle panels. At first, that effort seemed very
worthwhile, since I was moving the girls around to eat all of the
honeysuckle off our fencelines and barn. But once I ran out of easy
honeysuckle buffets, it seemed like twenty minutes of labor for half a
belly of so-so food might not be as efficient a use of my time.
Monday afternoon, I decided to let the girls run out in the woods...and boy did they love it! If I don't have to ensure that the honeysuckle is all concentrated in one place, there's still quite a bit out there, maybe a few weeks' worth within a stone's throw of the coop. The question is --- will I regret letting our goats run wild outside our core homestead?
The worst-case scenario is that a trespassing hunter will think Abigail is a deer, or that the pack of wild dogs who roam through our woods will get past Lucy's defenses and try to eat Artemesia up. More likely (but only slightly less heart-wrenching) is the possibility that our girls will hop right over the chicken-wire fences that surround our core homestead and start chowing down on apple-tree twigs.
To be entirely honest, our goats have gotten out and ended up free in the yard a few times already. So far, they seem much more interested in oat leaves than in apple trees, so I'm willing to risk a few nibbles as long as I'm right here to catch them in the act. Chances are good that if Artemesia got loose in the garden, she'd just end up on the porch, as she has before, asking why we haven't come out to play, so I'll try letting them out into the woods for longer today. Here's hoping our goats aren't too capricious and that they behave!
I have a VM with 400 gb storage for €5/mo, from xenpower.com. I think I got that price on a promotion; it seems to be €9/mo normally. I have no particular reason to trust that provider, so I use it only for encrypted backups / annexes and data collection.
It's been ok so far except for the time I was trying to get pv-grub installed and broke their remote console and had to reimage and re-backup 100 gb of data since they wouldn't fix it. You get what you pay for I suppose, but this let me test that my propellor configuration worked reliably.
backupsy.com is another VPS provider in the cheap storage space that's perhaps better known/more trustworthy (but has a much more restrictive TOS limiting it to "backup only").
What smart AI in its right mind would want to do computer programming?
I guess a rick is around 1 truckload, so $65-80 or so delivered. Price has been going up lately.
Full off-grid, yes.
My fallback is: Call wood guy. Or, I suppose, go pick up a chainsaw and cut down any tree in 23 acres, but I'm lazy.
We got the first part of our
goat manger done today.
The access slots will be 2 inches wide and 4 inches tall.
Confirmation that there is no sane way to do this: https://github.com/bzed/pkg-nagios-plugins-contrib/blob/master/dsa/checks/dsa-check-running-kernel
Well, I did some horrible uname -r vs file(1) comparing.
So, my Digital Ocean VM won't be left running an insecure kernel provided by Digital Ocean for a month after a cold boot (initiated by Digital Ocean); propellor now detects that misconfiguration and kexecs into a security-supported distro kernel.
Hmm.. Across all my VMs and hosting providers, not a single one of them can run a distro kernel anymore without some form of hacking. It's .. almost like hosting providers don't want you to, or their users don't care.
Want to know if running kernel is present in /boot (or / I suppose). Seems hard somehow.
First 20 minutes of http://youtu.be/upt1sTsL5fg reminds me how awesome ikiwiki is!
We all have a different diet for how many words we can read in a day and a very different quota for the words we want to take in.
Because of this I have been trying to minimize my public outbursts and save them for where my voice is needed.
Some people don't have a voice because they have been silenced. Historically women fall in this group and now African Americans in Ferguson Missouri are having a more difficult time being heard. This is especially true considering Darren Wilson's grand jury hearing which is happening today.
I love pictures of cats washing dishes and Bored Panda slide shows of foxes as much as the next person, but there is too much silencing for me to use my voice to share such cuteness, at lest right now.
Today if you read this, I hope you follow me in this and post something that shows your concern for justice.
The image here is one I borrowed from a worthwhile article from the New York Times. I have a friend from college who I think was involved in this die in, speaking of putting your action in line with your words.
"I was wondering whether this feels like it might be a longer winter than normal and if the woodshed was full enough to make it through to the warmer weather of spring? In our two years having a woodstove at our cabin, we are still learning just how much wood we will need to keep us warm during the cold months.
Also - I was curious if you have to deal with mice in the trailer?
Our cabin was invaded recently and I was looking for more good ideas to
make them less inclined to visit."
--- Karen B.
Two great questions, Karen!
As for the wood --- we never seem to have quite enough, but we manage.
In order to really get ahead on firewood, we'd need to change our system
so that we can stock up on wood during the winter that comes a year
before we plan to burn it,
since that's a season when our lives are less busy. But since I need to
be able to get to last year's firewood during the winter, we instead
empty the woodshed out and then fill it back up. In the end, that method
means that cutting firewood has to compete with the garden --- I'll bet
you can guess which one wins! To make up for our slacker habits, I tend
to earmark a standing dead tree
or two for spring firewood since the dry wood can often be burned soon
after cutting, which generally ekes us through late February, March, and
The mouse issue is more
interesting to me because we're finally starting to figure it out. Every
fall, the local mouse population does
tend to invade our trailer, and even though Huckleberry catches an
occasional mouse, he's not our first line of defense. (Our other cat,
Strider, is a lover, not a fighter.) We've learned the hard way that
it's essential to be hyper vigilant at this time of year --- at the
first sound of nibbling in the walls or sight of mouse droppings on the
counter, we pull out the traps with a vengeance. Mark talked me into
buying this super fancy trap
years ago, and it did work for a little while (as you can see above),
but then the scent of death built up and the mice started to avoid it.
Now, we tend to use cheaper traps, which we can reuse a few times until
they lose efficacy and then toss. Our favorite trap is currently one a lot like this.
When trapping mice, you'll
want to put the trap where you think a mouse might run. Mice are
skittish little varmints, so they're unlikely to head to your bait in
the middle of the floor; instead, set your trap against a wall in an
out-of-the-way spot (but near where you saw their signs). We sometimes
bait with peanut butter, but cheese has a higher success rate,
especially cheddar. I probably don't need to say it, but don't bother
with live traps --- moving animals around is never a good idea, and
unless you live way out in the country, the mouse is likely to head into
another home after you release it, where it will get killed anyway.
Another factor to keep in
mind is sealing away anything that a mouse might like. Food is obvious,
but clothing and toilet paper are also in great demand for bedding. An
average bureau doesn't really keep a mouse out, I've found, so
rubbermaid bins can sometimes be better. Barring that, I try to at least
go through each drawer on occasion so I don't miss a mouse nest being
built. If you have storage areas inside your home, don't pile things up
in such a manner that a cat can't get into the center to hunt, and do
check those little-used areas at intervals as well. Catching the first
few mice who drop by in the fall is only of middling difficulty, but if
you let them breed and have fifty mice to hunt down, your work will
really be cut out for you!
I hope that helps, and I'm
glad you're being proactive. In the city, roaches are probably the most
common vermin, but in the country, it's all about beating the mice. And
as cruel as it seems to kill them off in the fall, you'll be rewarded by
a winter sitting by the fire without the sound of nibbling in the
A short video showing what's involved in putting up a quick hoop.
We've enjoyed such a
nice, gentle fall...but all good things must come to an end. When I woke
to a low of 12 Saturday morning, I realized that I'd forgotten some of
the winter tasks that I should probably have been more on top of. Yep,
our water line had frozen
(as it generally does in extreme cold weather...especially if I forget
to put insulation back around the summer access points), and I hadn't
filled up any backup water sources. So I had to steal half of the
contents of Huckleberry's water bucket for the goats, which prompted our
grumpy cat to stalk outside in a snit and then bring a junco back to
lay across the kitchen floor. I picked up the bird, thinking it was
dead, opened the back door to toss the critter out...and Huckleberry's
prey lifted off from my hands and flew away, stunned but unharmed by our
cat's attention-getting move.
So winter is here at
last! Happily, I realized that twelve doesn't really feel all that cold
when you've gotten used to mid-fifties inside the trailer. And now maybe
those last few leaves will drop off our baby apple trees so I can enjoy one of my favorite seasons --- fall perennial planting! After the ground thaws, of course.
We hiked what we thought was
a fresh battery to the truck today.
Now we think something is wrong with our ancient trickle charger.
about a vegetable with an undeserved bad rap. In Canada they
changed its name to canola. If you want a recipe you need to look
up broccoli raab or rapini. It's one of my standard, easy-to-grow
winter vegetables. A ten-by-ten foot patch provides a never ending
supply of fresh and healthy greens.
Yesterday in the dentist's waiting room, a cooking show was on TV with the sound muted. I watched the cook put greens on a cookie sheet and into the oven. After the commercial when it came out the words "oven roasted rapini" flashed on the screen. I was planning on sauteeing mixed greens for a supper side dish, but decided to try this instead.
First I soaked the picked greens in cold water and drained them.
Then I cut them in two-or-three-inch-long sections.
A coating of olive oil with
salt preceded putting them on baking sheets and placing in a 350 degree
oven. A stir or two, then, fifteen minutes later--ready to eat
along with crock-pot navy beans cooked with chopped onions and green
(Note from Anna: For those of you who aren't in the know, Errol is my father, who homesteads in South Carolina and is the primary author of Low-Cost Sunroom. I'm tempted to nitpick about his use of the term "rapini," which I understand to mean the broccoli-like flower buds from various types of crucifers. But maybe he's right and I'm wrong and the whole plant can be called rapini? It definitely sounds better than rape....)
written a lot already about how much our goats love oat leaves. Always a
softy, I've taken to tethering our girls in the garden for half an hour
or an hour every afternoon to fill them to bursting, during which time I
mostly monitor them (but also cover any strawberry plants with a bit of
plastic trellis material for an added layer of protection). But as our
oat stores dwindle, I decided to try our goats on another winter cover crop --- oilseed radishes.
Actually, I'd experimented with this offering before, including some oilseed beds into various enclosures while letting the goats eat the honeysuckle off the side of the barn. Interestingly, our girls seemed totally uninterested in what were then beautiful green leaves...until we had a killing frost. I suspect the oilseed radishes changed at that point, perhaps the way carrots and kale both get sweeter after a frost. Guesswork aside, the only thing I know definitively is that our girls ate the oilseed radish plants to the ground from that point on.
Since determining that our goats do
enjoy frost-bitten oilseed radishes, I've pulled up a few plants for
them now and then when no radishes are within their enclosures. But my
offerings were often abandoned, presumably because it's a lot harder for
a goat to break off bite-size pieces when a plant isn't anchored firmly
in the ground.
So, Friday, I decided to chop up the roots and see if that made the radishes more palatable. Did it ever! Artemesia got sick of radishes before too long, but Abigail ate about three big plants' worth.
The photo above shows me starting to train Abigail to her milking stand, the tray of which was full of radish roots plus a little bit of corn. Our doe still doesn't always get on the stand immediately, but she did jump up one day without me even asking because she wanted to look in the trough for food. As with most things, I think training Abigail to the milking stand will come easy --- goats are definitely the smartest livestock we've so far had on our farm. (Which means we have to be ultra-careful not to let them learn bad habits!)
Redoing the guts of an existing laptop seems like a smart approach though not without its own problems.
Interesting that there are now at least 2 ongoing projects targeting fully free hardware arm based laptops.
git annex undo command. This is intended to be a simple
interface for users who have changed one file, and want to undo the change
without the complexities of
git revert or
git annex proxy. It's simple
enough that I added undo as an action in the file manager integration.
And yes, you can undo an undo.
With the snow starting to
fall, I let our girls top off their bellies with oat leaves Thursday
afternoon, then put them to bed early with a sunflower-seed head.
As she's gotten bigger,
Artemesia has grown an independent streak. She now has a bad habit of
lagging behind for just...one...more...leaf. But our doeling soon
gallops to catch up.
"Gee, I almost missed the treat?!"
Both goats enjoy eating
the sunflower-seed head right down to the stem, but Artemesia isn't
nearly as good at it. Our little doeling always takes one big bite that
doesn't quite fit in her mouth, then she spends several minutes trying
to wrestle the seeds into her throat. Meanwhile, Abigail takes little
bites --- gulp, gulp, gulp, down the gullet --- and ends up consuming
85% of the head. No wonder our doe is getting fat while our doeling just
holds her ground.
Sorry for the dark pictures, but hopefully you enjoyed walking the goats back to the coop with me!
Are we ready for temperatures
40 degrees lower than normal?
I think so after some last minute Winterizing this afternoon.
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