Friday, February 25, 2011

Jazzie Has Milk

I know, I those of you who aren't as emotionally invested in the goat herd at Flint Hill Farm as I am, Jazzie's expanding udder may not be earth shattering news; however, for those of us on kid watch 2011, it means that our new kids are imminent.  To illustrate that fact, I took several pictures in the barn last evening while I was feeding the girls.  Here are a few:

Dolly is HUGE, as usual. For a goat with one teat, she sure makes lots of good babies.

The Three Graces

The "Other" Three Graces, on the left, by Botticelli

Wide loads: Dolly and Doe

The Arnolfini Wedding, by Jan van Eyck
I took a few shots of Jazzie and her gang of Queens, but they weren't properly focused. I'll catch up with them later.
Andy Warhol's Queen painting
Queen Dolly

On the other hand, our bovine sisters are enjoying a little mid-lactation cycle peace and plenty.  Here's a clip of Buttercup, performing her afternoon lip-massage.  I hope you find it as humorous as I do!  Happy Friday!

Memories of Last Summer.  Now THAT'S a rack!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Urban Homesteading and Springtime Stress

I live in a small city in Southeastern Pennsylvania.  If you've read my blog before, you know a few things about me: I'm an art teacher (which I won't write about...YET...); I'm a goatherd, which I write about frequently; I'm a gardener and a locavore, and I love to cook.  I'm also a budding researcher, with growing plans for my post-public education career. I illustrate the house tour booklet for the Easton Historical House tour most years (except last year, when I had hand surgery).

What does this all mean, in late February, 2011? It means the pace is picking up, despite the snow on the ground.

I'm committed to my locavore habits.  This means I need to begin to plan my garden (located on the farm where I volunteer, and serve on the board) with a mind toward our food needs for the following year. 

I have a huge stockpile of canned goods from last season, which we've made a good dent in, but still remains. 

I need to analyze our consumption and plan my garden accordingly.  Having just attended the annual Pennsylvania PASA conference, I have lots of ideas for the garden.  That means a trip to tractor supply. And some time spent with seed catalogs.  And a meeting with the owner of the farm and the garden coordinator to figure out what labor will be needed to get the garden going this year.

Meanwhile, I'm taking a research course.  I'm learning the language of research, the methodology, terminology, and processes involved in scholarly writing.  I'm reading and writing.  A LOT.  And I'm trying to apply what I learn to my next plan, which is to research my husband's father's artistic heritage (there is a connection to a significant European sculptor; the emigration and movement into the 20th century is interesting, and the work is undocumented.  I'm convinced it's significant.)

The goats are nearly bursting at the seams.  Kidding season is scheduled to commence on or around March 1.  We need a new milking parlor, as the 18 goats we milked last season nearly killed us with the old fence system, and there will be 10 more this year. 

It's late February.  The games will soon begin.   In the mean time, I'm on kid watch, as an experienced kid midwife.

I'm illustrating the Easton House tour again this year.  In one month, I will produce 8 drawings, which will take 7-8 hours each.  I will also teach full time, deliver goat kids, read and write for a challenging grad class, plan a garden, feed a family, and call my 83 year old mother at 9 AM every morning to make sure she's ok.  I will plan and eat low carb meals to improve my health.  I will occasionally drink wine so I can sleep, because I get wound too tight under stress.  And because I like wine.  I also take passionflower extract (I grow the passionflower).  I drink elderberry tincture.  I drink home-gathered herbal teas.  I collect wild mushrooms. I eat weeds.

Oh, and did I mention that my husband is unemployed?  And my school district, like every other district in the United States, is trying to save money?  And I teach art? For 23 years now? 

So there you have it; I want to live right, and wholesomely.  I want to do the things we need to do in order to plan for the future, and be prepared for the oil crash when it occurs.  All I know, is that I'm doing the best I can right now, and have a positive attitude.  I don't have the money or time to make significant changes this month, or maybe even this year, but I'm willing...and adjust, should they come. I'm making behavioral changes.  I'm learning.  I'm growing.  I'm looking at the future through a realistic lens.

I'm an urban homesteader. 

I know there's a little cabin in the woods waiting for me somewhere; and I have the skills to make it work.  It's just a matter of time.  My little goat herd is already gestating.  And I know the land, and the skills to work it.  It's just a matter of time.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ladies in Waiting

It's a race to the finish!  Who will deliver first?  Last year, it was Pebbles; she delivered both first AND 4th (with two days between deliveries!).  By my estimations, and with a little luck, Miss Faith may have been in contact with her handsome buck a day or two before the rest of the herd had their trysts with Herve and George, but that doesn't mean she was an easy date. It'll be a race to the finish, but my money's on our older, more experienced girls.  They always warm up to the boys first.  You know what they say about older women.
Big Bellies Need Big Dinners
 These 4 ladies are contenders.  Jazzy (in the foreground) just LOVES Herve!  And Blossom and Daisy are both as big as houses.  I'm not sure if Rosie (rear, right) was one of the first "dates" or not...
Gestating; Dolly Carries Low
Dolly is always a contender.  And she has some pretty kids.  That's Pebbles next to her.  Wide load.
Cover Girl
Gazelle (in the feed bin) is shy.  She won't be first.  You never know with Bambi or Claire, though.  Clair is a flirt.  I've seen her wag her tail at the boys.  Like mother, like daughter!  Bambi taught her well.

Faith is ALWAYS Svelte, Even Expecting! She's a Princess.
But I'm still hoping for Faith to be the winner.  AND I'm hoping for twins this year!  Keep your fingers crossed!  There's no sign of spring more wonderful than new-born kids!

Friday, February 4, 2011


This conference has become my new mid-winter ray of sunshine.  Despite the blizzard that stranded me here last year, and despite the impending Saturday snowstorm this year, I look forward to PASA to give me hope (and ideas, energy, and a righteous indignation) for the following year.

Out keynote speaker this morning, Wes Jackson, might as well have been in a pulpit, as far as my spiritual beliefs are concerned.  A beautiful blend of science, history, philosophy, poetry, biology and spirituality went into his talk on the evolution of our current state as carbon consumers, with realistically non-optimistic (but hopeful) overtones.  Read the book, or buy the CD of his lecture from PASA; Jackson spoke to my understanding of life as we know it on our planet, without denial or romanticization.  We were in tears when he finished.  His book, Consulting the Genius of the Place like many current writings in post-modern ideology, speaks to the individual voice, the small voice, as it  is expressed in the bigger picture; more on this as I continue reading.

That, my friends, seems to be the pervasive theme; we are individuals who are empowered to create change in a time of global change.  And though i have much more to say on the matter, I had 5 hours of sleep last night, and did so much
stay tuned for more