Black Friday did not include shopping for us. Instead, my daughter and I got two rags, hopped in the car, drove two miles north and then wiped down a neighbor’s very stinky Kiko buck. Yes! It was Buck Friday, the time of year when all good goat girls start thinking about making babies. With no buck on the back forty, I needed to get a couple of buck rags to bring them into a strong heat.
My latest goat tip is a bit more easy than last year’s “show the doe the rag” trick that I had to do to Cricket 2-3 times a day. This year, the point is to actually tie the rags on the goats’ collars. Of course they want to consume the rags (the tin-can thing is a bit of a lie: goats do in actuality like to manipulate things with their mouths… it’s not eating per se…it’s akin to a baby’s sticking everything in his mouth to “know” it) so I needed to sew the rags onto their collars. Unfortunately, the smell of male goat funk doesn’t do it for me, so I wore gloves.
But it does do it for Cricket and Ivy. There is something quite nice about farming in that you can take the long view; there’s no need to make hasty decisions. So as I thought about whom to impregnate this fall, I considered how much milk I was getting, and how valuable it was to me: I get just shy of a gallon a day but only 2-3 cups of that gallon come from our new mother, Cricket. At a year and a half, with only one baby (Ivy) and with me milking once a day, she’s not putting out that much, and needs another birth to fully develop that udder. Which leaves me with T-bell, still milking a strong 3 quarts/day in her 23rd month of milking. Dang. She rocks. So Ivy is of a size I could get her knocked up too: what the heck, why not milk three goats a day? (Oh yeah. The day doesn’t contain more than its usual 24 hours, despite my thinking it does.)
It’s still been surprisingly warm here, warm enough that usual put-things-to-bed-for-winter tasks have dragged on and on…and on. I finally harvested the last of my potatoes, again in a t-shirt, over the holiday weekend, which was strange but not unpleasant, as it’s a banner year for spuds. And the bees have still been active.
Bees? Bee update, and background: I surprised the hell out of my husband last year by purchasing a beekeeping kit for him for Christmas. I also bought him a trip to Bee School for his birthday in February. Our bees arrived, and have been lovingly tended by my husband and my daughter all year, doing their busy bee thing, filling three boxes full of brood- and honey-filled frames.
A lot of work. It must be time to harvest all that honey, right? Wrong. We have decided to allow the bees to keep their honey all winter long. We’ll harvest it in the spring after the first flowers come out. There are many reasons for this, not the least of which is that taking the bees’ food source means you need to replace it to keep the hive alive…in other words, you gotta feed them. The standard food is sugar water! Sigh. That doesn’t sound “right” to us.
Tom’s insulating the hive too for the winter.
We hope they do well over the next few cold months. Despite not even having harvested anything, we’re keen to invest in more hives for next year, both Langstroth and top-bar. Why not? Plus: I like the idea of having an apiary, or bee yard. A bunch of boxes filled with bees: how, well, buzzy-busy. The rule of thumb is one hive per acre on organic farms. Our fruit trees did wonderfully last year, and I would like to credit the bees for their success.
Dairy? check. Honey? check. Now, if I could only grow coffee…or even tea…