Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Fleeting light
Light through cabbage leaves

The morning glow was so beautiful Thursday that I had to pause in my chores to rush and get the camera. I was glad I did since the light was fleeting and rain had returned an hour later.

Broccoli row

I'm thrilled with my spring cabbage and broccoli this year. Starting the seedlings inside with heating pads and lights got them out in the soil extra early (under row covers). The result is big beautiful plants before the cabbageworms have even been spotted. These broccoli will likely start heading up any week now.

(In case you're curious, the bucket brigade in the background is providing frost protection for our tender tomatoes.)

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Frost protecting a grapevine
Frost protection for a grape vine

Mark has a very gentle touch that makes him the right choice for protecting tender spring growth from late freezes. He wrapped both young grapevines in front of our trailer in preparation for the cold spell, covering up all of the stems that have flower buds attached. Fingers crossed the plants inside those bundles will make it through Blackberry Winter unscathed.

Joey git-annex devblog
day 388-389 various and windows

Lots of little fixes and improvements here and there over the past couple days.

The main thing was fixing several bugs with adjusted branches and Windows. They seem to work now, and commits made on the adjusted branch are propigated back to master correctly.

It would be good to finish up the last todos for v6 mode this month. The sticking point is I need a way to update the file stat in the git index when git-annex gets/drops/etc an unlocked file. I have not decided yet if it makes the most sense to add a dependency on libgit2 for that, or extend git update-index, or even write a pure haskell library to manipulate index files. Each has its pluses and its minuses.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Blackberry winter 2016
New sprouts

Look who's awake! Corn, beans, and cucumbers are up and running a little early this year.

...Just in time for blackberry winter to come calling. Will a 43-degree forecast turn into a light freeze that nips all and sundry? I'd like to say no, but we'll still spend the day covering everything up anyway.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Weeding disaster
May Day garden

This is the time of year when the weeds sometimes begin to feel overwhelming. It suddenly began to rain at the same time I started turning my energy to summer planting...and the result was an explosion of green in all the wrong places.

Young onions

The photo above shows normal weeding pressure around here. I set out these onions five weeks ago, and they could definitely use a weed and mulch. But they'll be okay for another week or two until I get around to them. (Fertility source: chicken bedding.)

Weeding disaster

This carrot bed, on the other hand, is what I think of as a weeding disaster. My homegrown compost was a little weedier than I would have liked this year, but it didn't cause much trouble elsewhere. Amid the slow-growing carrots, though, the weeds are terrible.

Some people would just give up on the crop, but I'll relentlessly handweed for a few hours until it's back into shape. After all, there's no way to go back in time and replant the spring carrots if I throw in the towel now. Still, next year I'll try to be smarter and plant my carrots in completely weed-free ground. Maybe Fortier's occultation would be a good trick to try for these very slow-growers.

Joey chatter
electrum insecure use of ssl

At this point, I'm not particularly suprised when a program turns out to utterly fail at SSL cert validation. Because that seems to be how SSL libraries are designed to be misused. OTOH, this is a program I've entrusted with a few thousand dollars in the past. If I own bitcoin again, I'll have to think twice about using Electrum.
Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Anticipating homegrown fruit
White strawberry

Sometimes, I think I get more of a kick out of anticipating coming attractions than I do out of eating the actual fruits. Then I remember the glories of strawberry season, sitting in the grassy aisles and gorging on drip-down-your-chin juices. Nope --- consuming the real fruit is even better than eating the developing berries with my eyes.

Blueberries and gooseberries

But this is eye-candy season only, so I thought I'd share the joy. In addition to the baby apples I posted about last week, there are scads of berries beginning to bulk up on the Tomato flowersvine. Our dependable gooseberries and northern highbush blueberries chug along with no help from me, and the equally dependable raspberries are getting ready to bloom.

And, even though it's not really a fruit (unless you want to put cucumbers and butternut squash in that category), our first tomato is blooming too. So many joys ahead in this gardening season!

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Petting zoo
Goat fun

I'm starting to realize that kidding season is similar to strawberry season --- our impassable floodplain suddenly doesn't seem so difficult for visitors. Which is great since I hate to leave the farm and love seeing family and friends. Thanks for coming, Joey and Mom!

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Time-saving no-till trick
Mulching with newspaper

This year, I'm using all of the experiments that I summed up in Small-Scale No-Till Gardening Basics to streamline our vegetable garden without ditching the biological imperative to keep the soil happy. To that end, I'm applying wet newspapers beneath straw wherever possible, which means all I have to do is weed the small area right Growing broccoli plantsaround the base of each plant rather than the whole bed before mulching.

While the method doesn't save any time in the short term, it does seem to reduce my need to weed dramatically over the course of the year. That said, if you live in a windy region and have relatively high raised beds, I'm not sure I'd recommend the trick. Last month's newspaper mulches blew all over the yard during what turned out to be the windiest month our farm has had in a decade. Hopefully the current lull will extend for long enough to let the paper meld to the soil below and the straw above, preventing my hard work from blowing away.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Milking out an uneven udder
Mother goat

A week after the birth of her first kids, Artemesia has already given us nearly half a gallon of milk. Yes, I know you usually don't milk a goat so soon and the milk does have a slightly bitter colostrum taste to it. But it was necessary, as you can see by peering at our doe's udder in the photo above. Artemesia is so productive that the kids are keeping fed by drinking nearly entirely from her right teat, so it's up to me to keep the left half of her udder drained every night.

Climbing goat kids

I would worry that the kids aren't getting enough to eat, but their bellies are often full and their energy levels are always high. Well, until they suddenly decide it's time to nap, at which point the buckling settles down in my lap for an extended petting session while Aurora snuggles up against her mother.

Bowing goat

Artemesia is a joy to milk compared to Abigail. Her huge teats allow me to use two fingers instead of just one, and the milk squirts out about five times faster than it did from our other goat.

Lest you think Artie is invincible, though, I feel obliged to mention that she had a fit during her first two milking sessions. Despite all of my pre-milking training, when it came time for the rubber to hit the road our doe fought the headlock, stamped her feet, and tried to sit down to hide her teats.

Leaping goat kid

Then, two days later, it was as if a switch flicked on. Or perhaps the change occurred because the kids were getting old enough to jump on the milking stand and hang out? Whatever the reason, the milk started to flow fast and furious and I haven't had any trouble since.

(Well, yes, it is a constant necessity to watch out for flying goats. But such is life on our farm.)

Joey git-annex devblog
day 387 release day

git-annex 6.20160419 has a rare security fix. A bug made encrypted special remotes that are configured to use chunks accidentially expose the checksums of content that is uploaded to the remote. Such information is supposed to be hidden from the remote's view by the encryption. The same bug also made resuming interrupted uploads to such remotes start over from the beginning.

After releasing that, I've been occupied today with fixing the Android autobuilder, which somehow got its build environment broken (unsure how), and fixing some other dependency issues.

Joey chatter
cabal update
Downloading the latest package list from
cabal: does not exist

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Counting my apples before they hatch
Developing apples

I'm trying really, really hard not to get my hopes up about non-berry fruit this year...and failing miserably. The deal is --- we still have 2.5 weeks until our frost-free date, so anything could happen.

That said --- look! Baby apples! This is the moment of truth, when old flowers drop off the trees if they were damaged or went unpollinated. And, yes, the earliest blooming variety lost all of its flowers and even the later bloomers lost up to three quarters of their potential fruit due to a 21-degree night in early April.

Luckily, trees make many more blooms than they could ever turn into apples. So, barring a late, hard freeze, this might be a good fruit year after all.

Grape flower buds

Our apple flowers seem to pretty reliably turn into fruits if they're not nipped, but I'm having to rein in my excitement a bit over our grape vines. The seedless varieties we like to eat are very sensitive to fungal diseases, so I planted a few vines right up against the sunniest sides of the trailer a few years ago in hopes of creating a dry microclimate they can enjoy. This is the first year I've seen bloom buds on those trailer-side vines, so just maybe this year we'll actually get grapes. Fingers crossed!

my Shuttleworth Foundation flash grant

Six months ago I received a small grant from the Shuttleworth Foundation with no strings attached other than I should write this blog post about it. That was a nice surprise.

The main thing that ended up being supported by the grant was work on Propellor, my configuration management system that is configured by writing Haskell code. I made 11 releases of Propellor in the grant period, with some improvements from me, and lots more from other contributors. The biggest feature that I added to Propellor was LetsEncrypt support.

More important than features is making Propellor prevent more classes of mistakes, by creative use of the type system. The biggest improvement in this area was type checking the OSes of Propellor properties, so Propellor can reject host configurations that combine eg, Linux-only and FreeBSD-only properties.

Turns out that the same groundwork needed for that is also what's needed to get Propellor to do type-level port conflict detection. I have a branch underway that does that, although it's not quite done yet.

The grant also funded some of my work on git-annex. My main funding for git-annex doesn't cover development of the git-annex assistant, so the grant filled in that gap, particularly in updating the assistant to support the git-annex v6 repo format.

I've very happy to have received this grant, and with the things it enabled me to work on.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Late April feasts and tasks
Asparagus and mushrooms

Are you sick and tired of hearing about goats? I'm sure I'll stop posting cute kid photos eventually. But in the meantime, here's a shot from elsewhere in the homestead to round things out.

In the garden/kitchen, we're eating asparagus almost every day, we got a small flush of shiitakes after the recent rain, and we're gorging on lettuce. We're also starting to mow and weed like crazy as we prepare for the biggest planting push of the year around our frost-free date.

In other words --- business as usual at this beautiful transition season midway between spring and summer!

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Naming the kids and protective mother goat
Frolicking goat kids

The problem with taking three posts to tell you about Friday is that I now have three days worth of goat excitement to share with you in one post. Let's see if I can be succinct....

Dwarf doeling

Goat eating clementine peelReader question 1: Do the kids look like you thought they would? The buckling (left) looks almost identical to his father and just like I expected. He does have a tiny bit of white frosting on his ears and maybe a couple of moon spots --- it's hard to tell because he's already so pale. The doeling (top) is a bit paler and has a hint of a dark line down the middle of her back.

Reader questions 2 and 3: What are you going to name them? Are you going to eat the buckling? The girl got the name Aurora when she was in the womb and it stuck. The boy might be dinner...or the farmer who sells us our straw might want the buckling to replace his current herd sire. Until we know for sure about the little boy's future, we're keeping him nameless.

Protective mother goat

Now moving on to my own observations....

Hidden baby goatsArtemesia is the world's most protective goat mother, and she actually takes it almost too far. Even though Lucy is extremely sweet, Artie is afraid to let the kids get close to our canine companion. Instead, she stashes the twins in a hidden spot like the one shown here (or, previously, on the milking stand) before she goes out to graze. I'm slowly working on making Artemesia feel more able to bring the little ones with her so she'll eat more non-hay.

Bringing a goat leafy branches

Mother goatIn the meantime, I'm stuck bringing the fresh portion of dinner to her. To that end, I'm spoiling Artemesia with her very favorite types of tree branches, which I attach to the side of an IBC tank for easy leaf picking, and with armloads of freshly cut rye stems. On that diet, she seems to be bouncing back from her pregnancy very fast.

Now for a pop quiz --- can you tell who's in the picture on the left? And which is the doeling in the photo at the top of this post?

Joey git-annex devblog
day 386 day off

I'm on a long weekend. This did not prevent git-annex from getting an impressive lot of features though, as Daniel Dent contributed which uses rclone to add support for a ton of additional cloud storage things, including:

Google Drive, Openstack Swift, Rackspace cloud files, Memset Memstore, Dropbox, Google Cloud Storage, Amazon Cloud Drive, Microsoft One Drive, Hubic, Backblaze B2, Yandex Disk

Wow! I hope that rclone will end up packaged in more distributions (eg Debian) so this will be easier to set up.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Artemesia's twins
Artemesia's twins

If you've been following along, you'll recall that I began Friday morning checking on my very pregnant goat before dawn. A second check at 8 am and a third check at 10 am showed her much the same. But after hiving a swarm of bees, the 11:30 am check presented a very different picture:

Nesting goat

Some goats may lie like this normally. But, to me, the visual was an obvious sign of labor. Artemesia had made a little nest in the new hay I'd laid down the night before, and her hind legs were stretched out rather than tucked underneath. Then, as I watched, she experienced a minor contraction. The time had come at last.

Goat in labor

Goat birth sacSo I rushed back to the trailer and grabbed the bare minimum birthing kit --- two old towels, a watch, a notebook, and a bite of lunch for me. I'd offered Artemesia a portion of Nutri-Drench that morning mixed with molasses and oats just to be on the safe side and she'd only eaten half of it, so I knew I had some emergency sustenance on hand for the mother-to-be.

When I returned to the goat barn, it felt like Artemesia had been waiting for me. Her contractions came closer and closer together as she began to push out what looked like a scary big, dark thing...but which was actually a liquid-filled membrane.

Goat delivering a kid

The beginning part of her labor was a bit slow, giving me plenty of time to second-guess everything up to and including getting my favorite goat knocked up in the first place. But she didn't appear to be in pain (although she was obviously working).

Then, right at noon, Artemesia began pushing in earnest. She cried a couple of times...and out popped kid number one. I didn't know at the time, but this was a baby girl.

Mother goat licking off kid

I only had time to pull the doeling's nose out of the sac of liquid (which hadn't entirely burst) before Artemesia was licking her...and pushing out kid number two (a boy) at the same time.

Drying off a baby goat

Goat placentaArtemesia proved to be the world's best mother immediately. She licked and licked and licked at those kids, not even taking the time to stand up and get the placenta the rest of the way out for quite a while. (It had mostly passed and clung to her butt for about an hour anyway, so I guess there was no hurry.)

I helped her out by drying the kid she wasn't currently working on, then swapping them around so each got a bit of towel action and a bit of motherly TLC. That's when I took the time to peer at the Newborn doelingkids' privates and discover that the first kid --- a little paler in color with a subtle dark streak down the middle of her back --- was a girl. The redder kid who turned out to be a bit more adventurous was a boy. Maybe you can tell that the boy is the one in my lap in the photo above while the girl is shown to the left?

Goat learning to nurse

Ungainly baby goatsFinally, Artemesia decided she could lick just as well standing up as lying down, and I began pushing kids toward her teats. Unlike Abigail, Artemesia wasn't averse to the idea of having her teats tugged on, but she was so intent on licking that she didn't give the kids much opportunity to drink. The youngsters also had a little trouble figuring out how to push those tremendous teats into their tiny mouths.

But after a short while, I'd seen milk go down both kids' gullets. I breathed a big sigh of relief --- my job was pretty much done.

Mother goat pick me up

Actually, I planned to go home and rest for a while. I'd woken at 5:30 a.m. worried about my herd and now I felt like I'd been through the wringer even though Artemesia was the one who did all the work. Plus, my hands were covered with goop and I wanted to bring the new mother some molasses water to round out the Nutri-Drench, alfalfa pellets, and hay she'd immediately started glomming down once the kids were licked dry.

But my darling doe didn't want me to go. She'd barely made a peep during the entire birth episode, but as soon as I headed to the door she began to cry. "Don't leave me!" (Yes, her sentence was entirely understandable even if she didn't use words.)

I plugged my ears and left anyway, though, and Artemesia figured it was worth it when I returned five minutes later with that after-birth pick-me-up. And, speaking of after-birth, the placenta had fallen away from her rear end while I was gone, allowing me to scoop it out to Lucy...who'd been waiting patiently in the wings the entire time.

Mother goat

I sat with our new family for about another hour while everyone slowly got to know each other and then finally succumbed to exhaustion.

Goat cuddle pile

And once the cuddle pile was fully formed, Artemesia let me leave without crying. She and her twins were ready for a good long nap.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
(Almost) catching a swarm

Recently swarmed hiveI'll bet you thought today's post was going to be about goats, didn't you? After checking on Artemesia Friday morning and finding the kidding signs ominous but not necessarily imminent, I decided to fill my day with small chores that could be easily interrupted by trips to the goat barn. "Maybe I'll start by pruning that grape vine I've been putting off since March," I said to myself.

Heading over to the vine with clippers in hand, I was surprised to notice bees hanging out on the outside of one of our hives. If it had been a hot afternoon, that could have been cooling behavior. But the morning was chilly and drizzly. Uh oh --- looked like in all of my goat obsession recently, I'd allowed the hive to swarm.

But this time, the swarm was neither gone nor on a branch fifty feet above my head. Instead, they'd settled on the U-post onto which Mark had attached a trellis wire to train the young grape --- yes, the precise plant I'd come out to prune.

Catching a swarm

Mark was in town filming a student project, so I called my beekeeping mentor instead. Frankie's primary role in this project was calming me down --- I was pretty jittery between my pre-dawn goat-barn visit and thinking through trying to catch a swarm on my lonesome. But my mentor also gave me good advice --- don't forget to put a sheet underneath the new hive (I used row cover fabric) and shake the post rather than trying to brush the bees into the hive.

Swarm entering a hiveThump, thump! The mass of bees fell (mostly) into the deep Langstroth box exactly as planned. But when I looked more closely, I realized the ones outside weren't crawling in the way they should have if the queen was inside the box. And when I braved the honeysuckle to look at the indented side of the U-post, I saw that a considerable amount of the cluster was still hidden in that cavity.

So I thumped again, gnawed on my fingernails, called my beekeeping mentor...and was ecstatic when a trip to the hive half an hour later found the box humming with life and nearly every bee inside. (Yes, I'd inserted the frames and put on the lid earlier.) Success!

Or so I thought. After watching Artemesia deliver two healthy kids (more on that in tomorrow's post) and spending a few hours cleaning the twins up and making sure they could nurse, I went back to check on the bees. The box was empty, my swarm fled. Yet again, I'd lost our hive's propagule to the wilds.

Newborn goats

What would I do differently next time? First, I would have listened to my beekeeping mentor and my gut and checked out that hive earlier in the week. But all I could think about was goats and gardens, so the bees once again ended up on the back burner.

Second, once I saw that the new hive contained most of my swarm, I think I might have blocked off the entrance for a day. Surely that would have helped them decide the box was home.

Third, if it hadn't been raining, it might have helpted to take a comb of brood out of the mother hive and insert it into the swarm box. After all, they say bees won't leave brood.

All of that said, two bouncing goatlings are quite a consolation prize. And one of these days, I'll catch...and keep...a swarm.

Joey chatter

For me it's less pictures and more abstract things. I can picture my mom's face right now, but it's about things like the quality of her gaze, tilt of her head and not an exact shape or image. When I imagine a beach I remember vividly the salt air, the warm sand, the waves rumble, the horizon all around, but it's not any kind of photorealistic picture. A sufer is a vague shape, maybe a human outline, plus movement vectors for the surfer and the waves.

I also have dreams that include complete source code to programs that I can edit in my dreams (and often works if I type it in, unless the programming language was also dreamed up). And I can visualize entire routes on well known roads and trails (hours and hours of them), but it's all about the turns, the rises and falls, the outlines of the view at any point along the way, the feeling of a place, but never any images.

Never any colors, come to think of it. Triangle? Sure, and I can rotate tetris peices in my head and slot them into place. But red triangle? No, it's just 3 angles with lines.

Joey chatter

Played M.U.L.E. for the first time last night. Would have so loved this in 1983. Better late than never.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Udderly humongous
Bowing goat
(Friday was such a massively exciting day that I have to break it into three (or four?) parts. Here's part 1, written at 9 am before I knew for sure that Artemesia was going to kid within a few short hours.)

Monte's mom called up Wednesday to remind me that Artemesia could start popping out kids any day now. I was already a ball of Goat pettingnerves, but had to be impressed by the personalized attention. Clearly Artie's boyfriend comes from good stock.

Since then, I've been waking up way too early to check our first freshener's butt by flashlight, but Artemesia is taking her late pregnancy in stride. Well, except for begging for me to scratch her neck for a pretty much indefinite amount of time every day.

Between the yawning and the stretching and the mucous plug slowly oozing, signs of birth are imminent. But after reading that average goat gestation period is shortest for multiples, in the middle for male kids, and longest for females, I'm rooting for Artemesia to hold out a little longer. I still have my fingers crossed for a girl.

Goat udder

So I watch her tail positioning and the color of her mucous, but try to keep patient. It has to be soon, though. Our poor doe's udder is so humongous she can barely waddle and her teats are already about twice as big as Abigail's were at their peak. My hands are definitely breathing a sigh of relief. (What, your hands can't breathe?)

Joey chatter

... And contains nearly as many lurking nasty things.

Joey git-annex devblog
day 385 new features

Something that has come up repeatedly is that git annex reinject is too hard to use since you have to tell it which annexed file you're providing the content for. Now git-annex reinject --known can be passed a list of files and it will reinject any that hash to known annexed contents and ignore the rest. That works best when only one backend is used in a repository; otherwise it would need to be run repeatedly with different --backend values.

Turns out that the GIT_COMMON_DIR feature used by adjusted branches is only a couple years old, so don't let adjusted branches be used with a too old git.

And, git merge is getting a new sanity check that prevents merging in a branch with a disconnected history. git annex sync will inherit that sanity check, but the assistant needs to let such merges happen when eg, pairing repositories, so more git version checking there.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Medicinal Herb Gardening

Medicinal Herb GardeningFrom homemade pepper spray to herbal remedies and compost teas, Jill Bong's Medicinal Herb Gardening has it all.

I particularly enjoyed the way Jill focused in on ten high-quality plants rather than trying to include every potential medicinal species known to man. I often get lost in guides to edible and medicinal species because I don't know which ones are worth trying and which ones are just maybe worthy of using in a survival situation. Jill cuts through the vast array of information to focus on a double handful of plants --- cayenne peppers, comfrey, elderberry, garlic, marshmallow, peppermint, red raspberry, sage, stinging nettle, and yarrow --- that will definitely make the cut.

Then she expands out to growing, harvesting, and preparing those plants to keep your own medicinal pantry alive throughout the year. Perfect for prepper, homesteader, and interested layman alike, Jill's offering one free paperback copy to a lucky reader. Just comment below with your favorite medicinal herb then enter using the rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Dwarf versus semi-dwarf apple tree
Dwarf versus semi-dwarf apples

I thought those of you making a tree-planting decision might get a kick out of this visual of two apple trees of the same variety planted on the same day and starting at the same maturity level.

On the left, we have a dwarf tree (Bud 9 rootstock). The dwarf is shorter than Mark but is absolutely coated with flowers. On the downside, nearly half of the nearby dwarf trees perished during their Apple blossomfirst two years of life --- they are much less hardy while getting established despite my careful weeding and mulching of the high-density row.

On the right, we have a semi-dwarf tree (MM111 rootstock) that has been trained in the same manner as the dwarf. The semidwarf is so tall I've already started it on a size-restriction campaign (cutting off the central leader). In terms of fruiting, this second tree created its first small flower cluster this year, which you may or may not be able to see in the upper left corner of the photo.

In case you're curious about whether all of these beautiful blooms are going to turn into fruit, I'd originally thought that our recent hard freeze did them in. But a few of the later-opening flowers appear unnipped (based on the color at the center of the bloom), so I'm keeping my fingers crossed but trying not to get my hopes up. I'd love to be able to show you a photo of the dwarf trees dripping with fruit in a few more months!

Joey git-annex devblog
day 382-384 pretty well caught up

The past three days have felt kind of low activity days, but somehow a lot of stuff still got done, both bug fixes and small features, and I am feeling pretty well caught up with backlog for the first time in over a month. Although as always there is some left, 110 messages.

On Monday I fixed a bug that could cause a hang when dropping content, if git-annex had to verify the content was present on a ssh remote. That bug was bad enough to make an immediate release for, even though it was only a week since the last release.

mark (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
A proper gate for the goats
goat gate metal

We got our latest goat gate at Tractor Supply for 90 dollars.

Installation was smooth once we got our hinge holes drilled straight and true.

I think the increased longevity will be worth the extra money.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Mowing the weeds
Mowing the garden aisles

I've watched neighbors mow for the last two weeks, but didn't particularly think our "lawn" needed to be cut until now. But there's nothing like a preparatory pass of the lawn mower through the aisles to make cleaning up a garden area seem much more feasible.

Actually, I left the grass to continue growing on both ends of the mule garden so I could tether the goats there for company while I weed. Good thing no one except you can see how I cherish our weeds rather than cutting them down.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Temporary goat shelter
Temporary goat shelter

Before kicking Abigail out of the goat shed, Mark took a couple of minutes to cobble together a basic, temporary shelter for her. It's been awfully dry lately, so I think between Goat in the shadethe tarp and the IBC tank our doe will be fine for the next week.

I was actually more worried about how the ultra-social Artemesia would respond to being neighbors instead of roommates with Abigail. To my surprise our first freshener's reaction consisted of chewing her cud and taking advantage of the peace and quiet to sleep in the next morning. Maybe Mark's gut reaction to separate them weeks ago would have been the right decision after all.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Splitting up the herd
Pair of goats

Mark detests bullies. As a result, he was fully willing to take Abigail to the butcher --- or at least to separate her into a different pasture --- weeks ago. But Artemesia seemed to like being close to her herd mate, so I left the pair together.

This weekend, though, something shifted in Artemesia's behavior. Depending on whether she takes after her father or her mother, she's due Thursday or a week from Tuesday. And with kidding so imminent, our first freshener suddenly stopped wanting to go back in the coop with Abigail after grazing and feeding times. Instead, she kept trying to walk down one of the fallow pastures toward the trailer as if maybe it would be okay to move in with me instead.

First freshener

Unfortunately, Mark's not quite soft enough for that to fly. But since Artemesia appears to finally be sick of her bullying herd queen, we separated Abigail from the mother-to-be.

If Artemesia continues to prefer solitary confinement to life around a bully, we may even see if we can step up our butcher appointment to this week instead of next. In the meantime, we'll continue to coddle Artemesia as much as possible while we wait for her kid(s) to arrive.

mark (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
Young chick courage
chicks in the brooder

Today's the day our batch of Australorps gets their first chance to roam outside.

We leave the door open in the morning and it usually takes a day or two for one of them to work up enough courage to see what's beyond their comfort zone.

Of course it's very important to remember to lock them back in at night.

Anna (Anna and Mark: Waldeneffect)
No-bake bolus cookies for goats

Goat bolus and cookieA huge thank-you to reader (Another) Julie who suggested turning one of my own favorite treats into a delivery method for our goat's bolus. (Okay, my recipe has cocoa in it and differs a bit in other areas too, but still....)

For the goat version, I mixed peanut butter, molasses, and oats in the right proportions to get a rollable ball. Then I split the bolus contents into three of these "cookies," keeping the balls small enough to be goat-swallowable but big enough to completely engulf the copper rods.

Artemesia gladly scarfed down the first one, willingly ate the second after clearing her throat with some alfalfa pellets, and will hopefully eat the last one today. Based on this website's goat x-rays, it sounds like the in-food feeding of copper rods should be just as effective as the scary bolus-gun method. Fingers crossed this will help nip our parasite problem in the bud!

Joey chatter

Every place I've posted in the past 2 days is within 1.5 hours of my hometown. And every one, I've never been to before. Whole lotta hidden amazing stuff in these hills.


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