Friday, March 30, 2007

Time's a flyin'

Farmer Boy was shocked today to realize that it was Friday. Again. It seems it has not only been for me that time has been passing at break-neck speed.

March is always a busy month on the farm. We've usually had lots of babies... chicks, ducklings, calves. This year we have the puppies, and are expecting goat kids any day. The weather becomes lovely and incredibly enticing, making it hard to stay indoors to do the housework. This leads to later nights trying to get the inside work done, or more time outside in denial, trying to ignore the appalling state of the house.

We've been eating lunch and dinner outside sometimes, and using the grill more. Wildflowers are exploding all over the fields and we're crunching around the house on a thin layer of dust because of the open windows.

I love Texas in March!

We finally broke ground on our garden, after two and a half years here! I am SO excited! I think with the fencing we will be able to keep most of the critters at bay, although the gophers are going to keep our mental muscles flexing, and I don't even know what to anticipate bird-wise. We'd have to build Fort Knox (including below ground and overhead) to keep all the interested parties out. For the moment I am going to blissfully pretend that we won't even have to think about insect visitors. Oy.

But busy-on-the-farm seems to equal not-writing-on-the-blog-as-often! Kind of funny, since the blog is about the farm. But now you know what I've been doing. Along with the usual kid-raising, homeschooling, carting everyone to ballet, piano, park day, library, grocery store, bible study and church stuff.

Outlaws and inlaws

Observed by the Princess (age 5), while driving in the car:

"Hmm, I get it! Outlaws... outside of the law! So... in-laws are inside of the law! They follow the law!"

Mama, mumbled under her breath, "Well, most of the time!"

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Blue eyed Belle

Belle has one bright blue eye:

Little Guy thinks the puppies are hysterical. Zeke thinks Little Guy is delicious:

Monday, March 19, 2007


I mentioned a few weeks ago that Stephen and some young friends did some demolition work while the kids and I were away in PA. Here is some of what they did...

This is the barn, when we first bought it:

And here it is minus the rotting "roof" over the loafing area:

We also have a structure that we call "the falling down barn." That is what we have always called it because it has been falling down since we bought the place. We blocked off the entrance and it has just been sitting there being dangerous. We fully expected it to have blown over by now, but it took a few pushes from the tractor in the end.

Here it is from the front when we first bought it:

And from the back:

Here it is today:

This weekend the rest of it comes down.

When you have a 5 year old daughter... may spend the day wearing a necklace. Even if you are a big tough guy digging holes on a farm. If necessary, scowl ferociously to offset the softening effects of the jewelry:

Thursday, March 15, 2007


A few months ago we bought two new goats, and I am finally getting around to blogging about them.

As you know, we had three goats, Snowy, Sylvester and Esau. Snowy and Sylvester are La Manchas (the "earless" breed), and moved in with us 2 years ago. They grew up together. They have different moms but probably the same dad. Esau joined us from a different farm in December of 2006. He is a Nubian.

Domino and Elf, our new goats, shared a dad, but had different mothers... the mothers of Snowy and Sylvester. So the four LaManchas were all half siblings in some way.

Sadly, a few weeks ago, Elf died due to pregnancy ketosis, a metabolic disorder that can affect goats during pregnancy. We did not realize what was going on until she was too far gone. It is actually easily treatable if you recognize the symptoms early enough, but poor Elf was stuck with us, the people who don't have a clue. It made us very sad. But we have learned, and I don't think it will happen again.

Thankfully Domino had lived with the other goats for long enough that she felt she was at home and did not seem to be affected by Elf's death.

Domino is a very sweet little goat. She is pregnant, and due any day now. We are SO excited to be having kids, and soon thereafter, milk!

You can see how she got her name:

The baby loves the goats, who are patient with him:

I think she looks like she is smiling in this one:

Breaking the cuteness meter

They're like a cutesie poster from the seventies...

Zeke (on the left) and Belle (on the right) are three weeks and two days old. Mama Molly is having no trouble with her postpartum weight loss program while nursing her mammoth babies.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Horse Lesson 47

Today's guest blogger is my beloved husband, Stephen...

(This lesson builds upon horse lesson 12 - corelary to Murphy's Law)

A horse can spin in a circle much more quickly than you think it can. Why is this important? Because it means that a horse can kick you in the head, even if you think you are safe. So let's give a practical example of how these two lessons come together.

The horses were separated from the cattle by a fence, and had been for some time. I could feed the cattle grain without worrying about the horses. Because of short supplies of grass lately, the other day I opened the gate to let the horses and cattle share the same fields.

I knew full well that it would take quite some time before the horses discovered the open gate, so I decided to feed the cattle. Let's look back at lesson 12: "The horses may not come when called, but they will come if you don't want them to, so use proper caution." Now you can see that I've failed to heed lesson 12. So what happens next? The horses immediately chase the cattle away from their feed and start eating it.

Problem is, the cattle feed makes horses sick. So in this real life example, I had to try to get the hungry 700 lb horses away from the feed and into stalls. And this is where we learn the lesson of how quickly a horse can spin around and point its backside at you, already locked and loaded. Chasing a horse away from feed makes him mad! I figured as long as I kept in front of him, he couldn't kick me. But much to my surprise, a horse can turn around and point his back legs at you faster then you can scream "I'm going to die now!" The Good Lord clearly has more work for me to do down here, and I avoided being hit by the horse.

I got a scoop of horse feed, and tried to lead the horses away. No dice. I chased the horses hoping they would head far away. No dice - they just ran in circles around the feed. After a while, the sly animals would stop about 50 feet from the food and nonchalantly eat some grass. Then, as I walked toward them (and away from the feed), they would suddenly bolt past me back to the feed.

After a 15 minute wrestling match, requiring physical stamina and a whit sharper than that of any horse, I finally managed to corral the horses, and so completed horse lesson 47.

Patti's note: Not knowing the whole story, I watched this transpire through the kitchen window. I thought Stephen had decided to break the horse (who can not currently be ridden) in the middle of an open field. I thought he had gone mad. I saw Joe try to kill him. I prayed and prayed. Later when he came in I said, "I was praying for you," and he said "That explains why I'm not dead."

Monday, March 12, 2007


We've been having some pretty strong storms coming through in the past 24 hours. As I type this I hear thunder in the distance. I'll be shutting down the computer right after I post tonight.

Last night, as the computer was shutting down, the power went off. Poor computer. It was pretty mad this morning. Took the Midas touch of Stephen the computer genius to get it to even turn on.

I didn't get a whole lot of sleep. There was the sudden rain, and windows to close. Then the baby with a cold who wanted to nurse. The dogs wanted to come in and sleep in the laundry room. Molly was going to leave her babies behind but Stephen wouldn't let her. They were way under the back steps out of his reach so he made her stay with them.

We got settled in bed again then heard a crazy racket which turned out to be huge hail stones attacking our roof. After they stopped, MY cold kept me up coughing and looking through my books for herbal remedies that are safe to use while nursing.

I got to sleep only to be awakened by more heavy rain and piteous whining from the puppies. Molly was trying to move them in the downpour. So Stephen brought them in and Molly and I dried them off (I used towels and she used her tongue. Ick).

Eventually I did manage to get several fitful hours of sleep. Sounds like we may be in for another night of adventure tonight!

Here is one of the hail stones that came down last night:

We seem to have a trend here. Everything is Texas-sized... first puppies, then hail... what next?!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Belle and Zeke

The puppies will be three weeks old now in a few days and they are shockingly large. No wonder Molly could only fit two in there! She moved them into a larger doghouse, and a few days ago had to move them under the back steps. They are going to be some big dogs!

We've named the boy Zeke (on the right) and the girl Belle (on the left). Zeke had just been getting a bath from Mom. Belle needs one... happens frequently when your floor is dirt.

I included the picture of Molly nursing Belle to give some perspective on her size. Her eyes have been open for less than a week!

Snow for the Texans

Little Guy had a rare chance to bundle up when we were in PA on vacation.

He lay on the floor waving arms and legs, unable to even roll over. He reminded me of the little boy in A Christmas Story who can't put his arms down when his mom dresses him up in his snowsuit.

The big kids had fun. They played in snow, shoveled and swept snow, and caught snowflakes on their tongues. They sampled maple syrup drizzled on snow (yum!) a treat enjoyed in childhood not only by their heroine Laura Ingalls Wilder, but also by their very own Yankee mom! Farmer Boy even got to go sledding and sprain his wrist. He had a blast earning his ace bandage. A time-honored tradition!

Friday, March 09, 2007

Hard work on the farm

(Our guest blogger today is Little Guy)

You know, this farm thing, it isn't easy.

I'm out there in the afternoon, and I'm watching Mama feed the goats. Then she's watering fruit trees. Then feeding cows. Then carrying gallon waterers to the chickens.

She's wearing me out!

Picking up toys from the yard. Sweeping the front porch. I finally just couldn't keep my eyes open any longer when she started shoveling chicken manure to move to the garden.

I'll tell you, the woman doesn't know when it's time for a nap!

All the rage among the laying set

Apparently the flowerpot idea has caught on...

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Lunar Eclipse Tonight!

There will be a full lunar eclipse tonight. It will be visible at moonrise in the U.S. Here's more info from NASA:

"In the USA, the eclipse will already be underway when the moon rises on Saturday evening. Observing tip: Find a place with a clear view of the eastern horizon and station yourself there at sunset. As the sun goes down behind you, a red moon will rise before your eyes. Rising moons are often reddened by clouds or pollution, but this moon will be the deep, extraordinary red only seen during a lunar eclipse."

You can also check out this NASA site for more information.

For the Austin area moonrise is at 6:27pm. For other areas, you can find it by plugging your zip into Weather Underground then scrolling down to the astronomy section.