Monday, May 26, 2014

Welcome to the World, Ashed Pyramid!

Hi, it's Celia again.

Yes, Ashed Pyramid is the name of our newest addition to the micro farm. Ashed Pyramid is a goat cheese from Australia. I am going to call him "Ash". And take a look at this sweet little boy. Doesn't he look like he should be named Ash?

Babybel had him sometime on Sunday morning. Mom went to let Mali out to be milked, and surprise! Little Ash was standing there. Babybel only had one kid, which is unusual for a goat. Most of the time they have twins. But he is cute and sweet enough for two goats.

Mom and I handle the baby goats right away, and every day. Some goat farmers wait a few days to handle kids, and some never do. But we want them to think we are part of the herd. Our goats don't trust

all people, but they will trust us, and they'll know our voice.

We've never had kids this late in the year, and in some ways it's nice (we don't have to worry about the freezing temperatures) and in some ways it's not. Mrs. Binkley, our neighbor who raises sheep, told us to watch out for flystrike, which is when a fly lays eggs in the kid's fresh umbilical cord. She said a baby can die very quickly from that. So Mom's got to do some research on that (thanks, Mom!).

We were really hoping we would have three dairy goats this year, but it doesn't look like we are. Mali is producing, and gives us lots of milk every morning. Brie had a miscarriage, so she never produced milk. And now Babybel only has one kid, so she won't produce much milk. I'll probably try to milk her anyway, but it is a little disappointing. Sometimes being a farmer is tough. But it sure is a lot of fun when you have a new baby goat to play with!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Goats and Worms and Pine Trees

Hi, it's Celia again.

As most of the East Coast knows, we had a HORRIBLE winter! Here on the micro farm the cold and ice did a lot of damage. The ice coated the branches of our trees and made them so heavy that some of the branches broke off. We even had some trees that that completely came down. Farm Hand Dad spent a lot of time this spring cutting up wood. But this isn't all bad news.

One of Mom's pine trees was uprooted. Mom wasn't too happy about it, but the good news is we could feed it to the goats. Pine is a natural worm killer. Goats can get worms in their stomachs, which will quickly cause anemia, and possibly death. Mom and I don't like to use medicinal wormers unless we have to, because we drink the goats' milk. So we feed the goats a lot of pine. Because this tree came down we had all the pine we wanted! But we couldn't feed it all at one time, because that gives the goats diarrhea (I'm sure glad I had spell check for that word!). So we've been giving the goats pine branches a little bit at a time. Here's Brie enjoying it.

And here's Babybel. Doesn't it look like she's smiling?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Hatching a Robin's Egg...or Not

Hi, it's Celia again.

Two weeks ago I was working at my mucking job, and my friend Autumn and I found a robin's nest. Normally we wouldn't disturb a bird's nest, but the mom had built it right on top of the hay stack, and we needed the hay to feed the horses. So we had no choice but to move the nest. But instead of letting the eggs die, Autumn and I each took two of the eggs and decided to incubate them at home. Right away I accidentally broke one of the eggs. But the second one I handled more carefully, and it actually made it home.

My mom knows a little bit about incubating eggs. She doesn't have an incubator, but she has tried to get hens to sit on eggs. So she was the closest I had to an "eggspert" on hatching eggs. (Sorry, that pun was awful.) She didn't hold out a whole lot of hope for my incubation efforts.

"It's not going to work. They not only need uniform heat, but proper humidity. How are you going to achieve that?" she asked me.
"Well, I'll use a heating pad. Unless you want to run out and buy me an incubator..." I didn't think she would, but it was worth trying.
"No. I don't want an incubator. They're expensive and my understanding is the failure rate is pretty high."
"But I'm homeschooled! Isn't this what homeschoolers do?"
"Nope. Not this homeschooler. How about we scramble the egg and eat it for breakfast?"
What a grouch she was.

Anyway, I decided to undertake "Operation Jeffrey". I personally believe that if you speak like something is going to happen, then that helps it happen. So I named the egg Jeffrey, with the hope that he would actually hatch.

Here I am holding the egg up to the light to see if there was a baby developing. I saw a little gray spot which I was sure was the chick.

"No it's not. It's the air pocket," Mom told me.
Bah humbug.

 And here I am placing the egg in a nest of horse hair. Surely this will keep it safe until it hatches.

"What are you going to do when it hatches? You know that you'll have to chew up an earthworm and then spit it into the baby bird's mouth, don't you? That's what the mom would do. Think you can do that?" Mom was on a roll.

"No, mom, I'm not going to chew up an earthworm and spit it into Jeffrey's mouth. I'll think of something else." Sheesh.

I'm expecting Jeffrey to hatch in a few more days. If he doesn't, I'm going to break open the egg and see what's in there. I'll be sure to post pictures!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Homeschool Fun!

Hi, it's Celia again.

Mom homeschools me and my big brother, John. My other brother, James, is cyber schooled. That means he does public school at home. But John and I are "traditional" which means Mom picks the curriculum and all of our classes. I like being homeschooled because I can study what I want sometimes. This year I did a study on photography. It included science, history, vocabulary, and, of course, art!

One of the most frequent questions  Mom gets about homeschooling is about "socialization". People who are unfamiliar with homeschooling think we never leave the house. That is not true. We take classes at our co-op and other places. All three of us kids have jobs. And we volunteer. Mom says she wishes we were a little more "unsocialized" because then she could stay home and get more cleaning done.

Anyway, yesterday was our homeschool co-op's track and field day. It was FUN! Some of the events were the 50 yard dash, long jump, obstacle course, soccer kick, and long distance run.

Here's a picture of me running the hurdles.

And here's a picture of me with my friends, Emily and Megan.


Thursday, May 15, 2014

Mom the Bee"keeper"

Hi, it's Celia again.

Doesn't the word "beekeeper" mean that you actually keep bees? That you "keep" them alive?

My mom is a "beekeeper". She belongs to the Lancaster County Beekeepers Society, or as she calls it, the Bee Club. They have monthly meetings that my mom tries to go to, and sometimes they have banquets and picnics. She doesn't like it when we go with her. She says all we want to do is eat and leave, when she wants to eat and sit around and talk about bees. For hours. Mom and her fellow beekeepers talk about mites, and hive beetles, and pollination. Oh, and honey yield, and the best place to put a hive, and when to split the hive, and should we be treating them with powdered sugar? And did any of your hives survive the winter? It goes on and on and on.

Mom's bees always  usually die when it gets cold. She says pesticides weaken the bees and make it hard for them to survive the winter. But guess what? This year she actually had bees that survived. But it took her a little while to realize it.

January: On a warm day Mom goes out and checks the bees. She knocks on the hive and listens for buzzing. Nothing. She peeks into the hive and sees a cluster of dead bees. She declares the hive dead.

Beginning of March: John comes in to the house and tells Mom there are bees flying in and out of the hive. She says they are probably robbers stealing any honey that was left from the dead hive. She tells him she'll take a look.

Mid March: She walks down to the hive. Surprise! There are bees flying in and out, and they're bringing in pollen. A sure sign of a working hive. She puts on her bee suit, opens the hive, and yes, there are bees. A small cluster, but they have a queen so Mom's happy.

End of March: She goes to see the hive again. No bees are flying in and out. She didn't have time to suit up, so she assumes the hive is dead.

April: John and I were down near the hive shooting the bb and pump guns, and guess what! There are bees flying in and out of the hive. We told Mom, and she walked down, saw lots of bees, and declared the hive alive again. It's a bee miracle!

So Mom can now say that she managed to keep a hive alive over the winter. Woo hoo! I just hope we get some delicious honey.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

One Trick Pony (And Working on More)

Hi it's Celia again.

I've been teaching Molly a trick. She's one smart pony!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Milking the Goat is Now a One Man (or Woman) Job

Hi, it's Celia again.

I've been sick. Nothing major, just a cold, but my throat is really sore and I've been sleeping a lot. So on Saturday morning my mom decided to let me sleep, rather than wake me up to milk the goat. But that left her in a pickle, because up to this point we've been milking the goat together, and she wasn't quite sure how she was going to milk Mali by herself. Normally Mom would just wait until I woke up and we'd milk her together, but she had to go cater, so she didn't have time to wait. Dad had to leave, too, so he couldn't help her. After thinking for a few minutes, she asked Dad to screw a bucket to the front of the milking stand so Mali could eat grain while she milked. And it worked!

Mom let Mali out of the goat yard. Mali is trained to walk down to her milking stand, put her head through the stanchion, and wait to be milked. And with the bucket on the front she just contentedly ate while Mom milked her.

This opens up so many possibilities! Previously if both Mom and I weren't home we couldn't milk, but now we can. And we might be able to talk Farm Hand Dad into making a second milking stand, so after Babybel has her kids we can each milk a goat simultaneously.

Who would have thought a bucket and a couple of screws could make life so much easier?

That's not to say the milking went perfectly. Mom told me Babybel and Brie conspired to break out of the goat pen, and she ripped her pants trying to restrain them. She also fell twice and has some nasty scratches on her arm. But she doesn't care. She's just as thrilled as I am about the bucket.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Three Reasons Why You Should Never...

Hi, it's Celia again.

It seems like it would be very convenient to use your jacket pockets when you are collecting eggs. Seems reasonable, right? But there are three reasons why you should not put eggs in your jacket pocket.

1. You will bend over and the eggs will fall out, immediately cracking when they hit the ground.

2. A goat will jump on you and smash them.

3. You will forget they are in there, hang your jacket in the mudroom, and not need it again for two months. This means you will have to throw the eggs away.

Please don't ask how I know these things.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Micro Farm in Pictures (10)

Hi, it's Celia again.

Here's a review of my week in pictures.
Me and Cooper enjoying the sun.

And Cooper eating Mom's flowers

Here I am about to drink some of our bees' honey, a sure cure for a sore throat.

And this is my RC truck with bread shoved in the bumper. I'm trying to get the hens to come up to it.

And my cat, Peanut.

I hope you had a good week, too!

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Update: Mom (for Mother's Day)

Hi, it's Celia again.

Yesterday I gave you an update on Dad, and today it's Mom's turn. Just in time for Mother's Day! Some of you may know my mom, but I'm going to tell you some things that you probably don't know about her.

1. She wakes up with the sun. So in the summer she wakes up early (around 5:30) and in the winter she sleeps in until 7. Notice I said "wake up" and not "get up". Sometimes she lies in bed for a while.

2. Mom organizes her kitchen utensils by color. Wood in one crock, metal in a second, black in a third.

3. When she was little she wanted to be a plumber. Until she learned about the government. Then she decided to be president. Between you and me, I think she still secretly wants to be.

4. She's willing to try almost anything, because she's not afraid to get it wrong. In her mind, there's no such thing as failure, just learning how not to do something. Her mom taught her that.

5. She falls a lot. A LOT. She fell twice today in the span of 15 minutes.

6. This you know. I love her and she loves me. She's the best mom and co-farmer in the world. Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Update: Farm Hand Dad

Hi, it's Celia again.

I have the best dad in the world. Not only is he a full time carpenter and a part time caterer, he volunteers a lot at our church. But most importantly, he's my farm hand. I can't pay him, but he never complains. He always is willing to help me with my goats and horse. So I decided to ask him what he REALLY thought about all of the work he has to do around the mini farm.

"So Dad, what do you think about the goats? Do you think they are loud and annoying?"
"No, I think Mom's chickens are louder than the goats." (Did you hear that, Mom?)
"Did you think you would be a farmer at the age of 55?"
Silence. About 3 minutes later he said, "Hmmm. No."
Real deep, Dad. But I was competing with the Cubs/Sox baseball game. I decided to ask some better questions. I went with a carpenter question.
"If I rub sand on a stick, is that the same as using sand paper?"
"No." Hmm. Not quite the depth I was looking for.
I decided to try one more time.
"What's your favorite thing to do?"
He put on his thinking face.
"Hmm. My favorite thing to do. Probably watch football."

And there you have it. An update on Farm Hand Dad.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Snazzy goats

Hi, it's Celia again!

Last week we had a dog attack our goats. The goats are okay, but Brie broke her collar. We had to replace it along with two leads that were snapped during the attack. You can read more about that incident here.

I think that a goat absolutely needs to wear a collar. It really helps you control the goat. If it doesn't have a collar than you need to grab its horns (ouch!) or ears to make it do what you want. A collar just makes life easier. No one makes goat collars, so Mom and I went to our favorite pet store to buy a dog collar and leads.

Our favorite pet store!

Good news! The leads were on sale, so we had enough money to buy not only a replacement collar for Brie, but collars for Taz and Cooper, my baby goats. So many choices! It took me a long time to make a decision. I loved the day glow orange one. It had an LED light that blinked.
 After some consideration, I decided that Brie probably wouldn't like having a flashing light around her neck. I loved this pink one with the metal spikes, too.

But nothing says goat like a GLITTER collar! They were definitely the best. So I got Brie a pink one, and Taz a blue one. I didn't think a boy goat should wear glitter, so Cooper got a green one. Here are the goats with their stunning new collars:

Here's Brie sporting a pink glitter collar.

Taz is wearing a blue glitter collar. It's a little big.

And here's Cooper looking dapper in his green collar.

And of course, Mom got me a snack.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Improving the Flavor of Goat's Milk

Hi, it's Celia again.

Before I get to today's post, I want to let everyone know that I pet sit. So if you have a dog, cat, lizard, frog, rabbit, bird...anything that needs watched while you go on vacation, I'm your girl! Contact me for more details. Now back to your regularly scheduled blog post.

Last week I blogged about the flavor of goat's milk, and how it changes depending on what our goats eat. Right after I wrote that post, Mom told me she wanted to "improve" the flavor of the milk. By "improve" she means make it taste more like cow's milk. I don't think that's an improvement at all. I like that my milk tastes different. Mom wants to do it so my brother, James, will drink it. James doesn't want to know anything about his food. He is one of the few people that prefers his food to be made in a factory. See, James doesn't like nature. And to think that his food comes (or should come) from nature grosses him out. And it pushes him over the edge to know that something he drinks is coming out of our goats' udders.

Anyway, Mom has been on this mission to improve the milk's flavor. Her plan is to make the milk taste like cows' milk, and then trick James into drinking it. She's sneaky that way.

She's been doing research and experimenting in the kitchen. She's a caterer and she's always experimenting in the kitchen, so James didn't suspect anything. And she did it! She figured out how to take the "goat" out of "goat's milk".

Her trick is to put the milk into an ice bath as soon as we're done milking. It's my job to run (and I mean run) the milk into the house and put it in the fridge as soon as we're done milking the goats. Then we clean up and put the goats out to pasture. When we come in the house Mom filters the milk into a glass jar. Previously she put the jar in the fridge, but now she puts it in an ice bath so it gets cold quicker. And what a difference that makes. It tastes just like cow's milk. But I don't think that's an improvement.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Introducing....THE GOAT CAM!

Hi, it's Celia again.

Just when I thought I couldn't have any more fun with my goats, I invented The Goat Cam.

I attached my Ipod to my RC truck, and drove it down the hill. Poor Babybel! She was the first target. I hope you enjoy!

No goats were harmed in the filming of this video.

Monday, May 5, 2014

The World's Ugliest Tree

Hi, it's Celia again!

My mom bought a tree five years ago and planted it in our front garden. It is a weeping crab apple. Last week she was pruning it.
"What's wrong with that tree, Mom?" I asked her.
"It's supposed to weep, but it doesn't. So I have to cut off all the branches that grow upward, and leave the ones that grow downward."
"But that's most of the branches, Mom. There's hardly any branches left!"
"I know, but that's what the man at the nursery told me to do."
"That's one ugly tree." I informed her. "It looks like a Charlie Brown tree, all bent over like that."
"That's gotta be the ugliest tree in the world."
More silence
"Isn't that the tree that Aunt Debbie said she was going to run over with her car, just to put it out of its misery?" I asked.
"Yes, it is."
"Isn't that the tree that perfect strangers drive up our driveway to snicker at?"
"Now you're exaggerating," she replied.
"Well why don't you cut it down and plant a new one?"
"Because I think with enough time it can be beautiful."
"Mom! It's been five years! Admit defeat and move on!"
But she didn't. And I don't think she will. Here's the tree.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Micro Farm in Pictures (9)

Here is my week in pictures

I cantered bareback

Me and my friend found some eggs

Me and Molly jumping

Mali being milked

Apple blossoms

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Update: Molly

Hi, it's Celia again!

Molly is my pony. Mom says she looks like a horse, but she really is a pony. She is a rescue pony, which means her owner was abusing her, and a rescue group bought her to keep her from dying. The rescue group boarded her at the farm where I used to work, which is how I met her. Right away I knew I wanted her, and after having my mom talk to the rescue group, we got her. She is extremely gentle, and very smart, which makes her a good first horse.

When I got her she was skinny, and a little sickly. Now she is fat (but not too fat) and healthy. I ride her almost every day, and spend a lot of time training her. One of the things I like to do is train her to ride in equestrian events. I belong to the Columbia Riding Club, and they have a big riding show  twice a year. The latest show was on Saturday. Molly and I did well!

We won a first place in Barrel Racing:
a fourth place in Carrot Race (sort of like the 50 yard dash); a fourth place in Dollar Bareback (you ride bareback with a dollar stuck under your leg, and if your dollar falls you're out); and a fifth place in Choice Trail (an obstacle course-type race where you get to choose your obstacles). I'm sorry I don't have more "action" pictures but Mom was too busy watching and forgot to take pictures.
Fourth place for Dollar Bareback

First in Barrel Racing

Friday, May 2, 2014

The Flavor of Goat's Milk

Hi, it's Celia again.

When people find out I milk my goats, they usually ask, "What does goat's milk taste like?" If I'm feeling ornery I say, "Like goat's milk." If I'm not feeling ornery I tell them it tastes like cow's milk, but wilder. Some people say it tastes "goaty" but I don't think that's accurate. I had a gyro made with goat meat once, and goat milk doesn't taste anything like that.

Our goats eat grass, weeds, trees, shrubs, bark, and sometimes Mom's hostas and roses--pretty much any plant they can reach. The flavor of the milk reflects what they eat. If they eat Mom's pine trees, the milk tastes different than if they eat Mom's roses. And in the spring when there are lots of wild onions around the milk tastes different than in the autumn when the goats eat fallen leaves.I prefer fallen leaves milk to onion milk. Mom can barely tell the difference. She says it's because she has old taste buds.

When you raise your own food, this change in flavor is just the way it is. Our eggs, broilers (those are meat chickens), honey, and goat's milk are all influenced by what the critters eat. Mom says that's a good thing. She says this isn't McDonald's where the food is made in a factory. She says this is real life, and we're eating real food.

I'm tempted to feed the goats chocolate and see if I get chocolate flavored milk, but I know that won't happen.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Mom vs John

Hi, it's Celia again.

My big brother, John, has an ongoing discussion with my mom about our cat, Peanut. Mom insists that the cat loves her more, and John says, no, Peanut likes him better. Mom says that what John thinks is affection from the cat is really annoyance. I think this video proves Mom's point.