The autumn is passing, passing. I still haven't a plan how to manage it. Let alone the rapidly approaching winter. Life here, at the moment is about the immediate. That means there is no hay in the barn to speak of. Oh, there is enough for two days. The next two days. What must I do now? Immediately. The first of the wrapped round bales of baleage were ill received. In other words they trampled all over it and scaled the five foot tall stone wall to race to the neighbor's hay field. They liked the hay I had been buying even less. And it was sweet. I was confounded. And they, to my dismay, continued escaping to the neighbor's. Often. The grass is greenerâ€¦. This week the watershed contractor finally turned up to repair this summer's flood damage and today, at least, it would seem that Nick Carbone and his able assistant, and Jeff Arnold, my able assistant, have secured all currently accessible escape routes. For the moment. Until, that is, the sheep find or create others. Something about green grass in the distance is most appealing no matter how delicious my newly bought hay might be. Some of this batch of hay was sweet enough to boil a ham or poach a chicken in. But they have been consistent in their refusal. Yesterday, however, and today, they devoured the baleage I opened with relish and dispatch. For the very first time almost all of it is gone. In two days!!
I opened one upstairs in the barn, as well. That is about three quarters gone. That one was awfully hard to feed out. It was sweet smelling and palatably damp for livestock. Just what they like. However, it had to be lifted, pulled, unwound, and cajoled out of itself. All 1,200 pounds of it. Tonight I tipped it on its side and unrolled large swaths. The bigger the swath, the heavier it is. And when it unrolls nicely it is like handling a wet shag rug. Heavy to carry and lift and throw into the mow. I then go downstairs to untangle the mass blocking the drop to the lower level. I push it down into the bin. Go downstairs and drag it out to four feeders. Oh. Oh. Oh. But the TDN beats hay by far. And is it Total Digestible Nutrients that count the most. I just don't know how I am going to do this every day, all winter long.
The goats, on the other hand, love the hay. They vacuum cleaner it down. I put a thirty-five pound square bale out this afternoon. It lasted a couple of hours. I then topped it all off with armloads of baleage. The most aggressive goat (whom I've never named) seems to be beating up on the new young Nubian buck who arrived two days ago. Which means, by the way, that any kid goats born after April 14th are his. He is six months old. Black. Floppy eared. Dehorned. A bit rangy, but nice. Today he seemed to be interested in my Nubian doe whom I hope against hope was not bred by my young Tog buck two weeks ago. Pembroke Worthington was in heat, as well, and I did see her get covered. I pulled Candida Lycett-Green away from the Tog buck, I hope, in time. He had been dehorned. His horns grew back.
I really need to put some money aside to have all kids born this spring dehorned. I've only a vague plan about the goats. The sheep have always been carefully managed. The goats slipped in, somehow, with only vague ideas (I was the vague one) about their futures. I knew I wanted Nubians. Couldn't find any. Anywhere. Except at prices that were out of my league. Had a miscellaneous goat or two over the years. Said yes to a Toggenburg flock that was given to me. Among them were two Nubians. I paid for their state testing. And started with the "wrong" goats. My best milker didn't freshen that year. Did this year. She was "untouched by human hands" until she freshened and was milked. Now, dried off, she is almost as obnoxious as she always was. There is an ancient Saanen as well who freshened twice. Can't nurse. Can be milked. Mrs. Merriman is her name. She is a sweetheart. As is her daughter, Adelaide Merriman. The obnoxious doe gave birth this spring to the friendliest doeling of the lot. The other two remaining doelings are more hesitant around me. I've realized none have been named as yet because I am uncertain whom I am keeping. I've sold and given some goats to the man who helps me sometimes here. He drives me to town once a week and gives me a hand occasionally with the animals. But the goats shall have to, sooner or later, pay their way. I've been told to factor in the retail price per quart of milk into the profit they bring. However, as I'd be hard pressed to pay even the $2.50 (Wal-Mart price) for a quart of milk, and I can't afford the very fine goat cheese made locally, this guideline may not be reasonable. I made a lot of goat cheese this summer. And I love milking goats. Eventually I hope to sell grade Nubians. I guess that means I seem to be formulating a plan.
While telling this story the name of the new buck came to me. He has just become MacGillicuddy. One of my favorite names. And his first daughter, who may have been conceived today out of Candida Lycett-Green shall be Felicia Lycett-MacGillicuddy. Felicia MacGillicuddy for short.
I had high hopes to have a perfect, neat carriagehouse in which to house them all by the time he arrived. The work on it has been continuously interrupted over the past month since I had a new tongue and groove wall installed where one had been removed long before I came. It shall do a fine job keeping wind and drafts out. I hired Jeff Arnold to help me. Three hours apiece. He shall shovel. I shall organize the miscellany that has accrued over the years. When he comes, we shall first go to town. Groceries are sorely lacking here of late. I shall buy one Christmas gift for my daughter. Come home and try to create order. For winter shall soon be upon us.
November 16, 2006
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