Farmcation 2010, Day 1

This week I have the pleasure of farm-sitting for some folks I know while they’re out of town on a much needed vacation.  The farm itself is gorgeous and I’ll give you a tour of the property tomorrow if the sun comes out.  Right now it’s really overcast and has been for a couple of days–overcast and cool!  I was actually cold last night with the window open, something I never expected for August.  The heat wave is due back, but right now I’m enjoying the respite.

For now, I’ll give you a photo tour of part of my morning chores.  The milking will have to wait till N. is up here and can get some photos of me milking–hard to do when you’re trying to milk a goat by yourself and they’re playing mind games with you since they know that you’re not their usual milker.  Seriously, Nellie & Geraldine are too smart for school.  They made my life a back feet kicking hell this morning.  But I love ‘em anyway.  And no spilled milk, thank god.  Though the saying “don’t cry over spilled milk” is so wrong–when a goat kicks the bucket over, you better know I’m going to cry.  It’s a lot of work for 1/2 a gallon of milk!

First things first, it’s important to have a strong cup of coffee in your hand.  The stronger the better.  Chores start at 7 am, and while I’m a morning person, it takes a while for me to get going.  Knowing the chickens are waiting to be let out is good enough reason to get up and kicking, but coffee makes it even better.

Another first thing, make sure you’ve got your muck boots on.  Poo is everywhere.  It’s a barnyard, remember?

It also helps to make sure you’ve got a good companion like Caleb here. He’s just the best little yapper. And, while I shouldn’t get a kick out of it, it’s hilarious when he chases the rogue chickens (the ones who escaped the chicken yard and won’t go back in) around. He won’t bite them or be mean, he just likes the squawking. And I gotta admit, I do too!

There are other pups here too. Stella and Bo are these huge white dogs (Great Pyrenees maybe?) who hang out in the pastures keeping an eye on the goats and sheep. Bo was pretty excited about seeing me this morning–maybe he was hoping for some more kidneys in his morning kibble…

Once I’m out in the barn area, I check all the water buckets, empty any dirty ones, and fill them up to to the top. K. said that milking goats need 6 gallons of water a day–that’s insane! So it’s important to make sure there is plenty of water for all 13 lady goats, the bucks, and the sheep.

After checking the water and feeding the barn cats (too dark in the barn for a photo, but darn, there’s a kitten and he’s just the cutest), I feed the chickens and ducks, give them fresh water, and check for any eggs. This morning there were only three duck eggs, but it’s usual to find more in the evening.

The ducks are my favorite. They’re just so low key and happy to be out running around in the field during the day. Not that the chickens aren’t cool, but they seem a little high-strung in the usual chicken kind of way.

And then on to feeding the goats & milking two of the ladies–Nellie & Geraldine.

Nellie is my favorite (I mean, how could you resist that gorgeous face?!), though I think she hates me right now. I forgot to take the hobble off (a strap that holds her back feet still so that she doesn’t kick while I’m milking her) and I had to wrestler her still in the barnyard and get it off. Not a pleasant experience for either of us. But she’s definitely one of the smarter goats I’ve ever met–gentle, yet witty enough to pull one over on you. And she eats at the speed of lightning. That girl is going to be so fat by the end of the week (I have to give her feed while I’m milking her in order to keep her still–it only half works).

Geraldine is the other milker and she’s normally more laid back than Nellie, at least in my few days’ experience, but today she thought she could get me. The girl wouldn’t stay still on the stand. But since she still nurses a baby goat, she gives less milk so it didn’t take so long. I think we’re still pals–guess I’ll find out this evening during evening chores.

All-in-all my first morning by myself on the farm went well, though I’m hoping to get faster at milking. It’s not as hard as I thought it would be, but my hands get tired quickly. Though after kicking it into high gear at 7 am, I’m certainly rarin’ and ready to meet the day!

5 Responses to “Farmcation 2010, Day 1”
  1. I love those goats! My nana had a goat farm. I used to get in the pens and hang out with the baby goats! Too cute! Good memories.

  2. A-K says:

    Everyone is gorgeous and that scenery is amazing! I would love the chance to work on a farm for a little bit sometime :) You’re a lucky lady.

  3. Kiersten says:

    All of the animals are beautiful! I would love to get to spend all day with them like you are doing.

  4. varunner7 says:

    Interesting about the duck eggs. Now I really want to try one! We only have chickens.

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