Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Well it was a sad day on Saturday.  We said goodbye to our smelly friend Rocky.  He did go home a bit plumper than when he first arrived.  And he might have developed a couple of less than desirable habits while he stayed with us.  He was celebrated and spoiled while he was here.  He learned to enjoy being petted and to relish in the times he was offered a yummy treat.  Of course I always think I love all animals the most and treat them better than anyone else possible could so it was hard to send him back.  Plus I think he really did like it here.  Who wouldn't?  Farewell my smelly little friend!  Til next year....

Many of you have been following my posts on Facebook about poor Dexter Donkey and his injury.  For those not on FB here's a little recap.  A week ago last Friday I went out to do my morning chores and noticed Dexter lying down in the pasture.  Not that unusual but when I came up to the fence he still didn't get up.  Uh-oh!  When I walked over to him I tried to coax him up but still no luck.  When I finally got him up he was really limping.  Not good!  Made a phone call to the vet and Dr. Mary said she would be out in a couple of hours.  I had already determined that the source of his limp was not his hoof but rather his hip and back.  My best guess is that he and Millie were wrestling like they do and he got knocked off his feet. Anyways, it was very apparent that he was seriously injured and I was very worried.  Dr. Mary came out and really couldn't give a solid diagnosis on what had been affected.  She gave him some steroids and pain meds and left the rest to time.  I checked in with her on Monday morning and reported no changes.  She called me on Tuesday to ask me how I felt about having a chiropractor come out and give him an adjustment.  The funny thing was that I was going to ask her about acupuncture for him so I was definitely game.  The chiro came out on Wednesday and he was still miserable.  She adjusted him and had me give him a dose of pain meds, warned that he could be a little worse the next day and then told me to call and check in with her on Friday.  Thursday he was already showing improvement and that evening was the last time he had any pain medication.  I am thrilled to report that over the weekend he has made still more progress and when I got home yesterday afternoon I had a note on the door from Dr. Mary who had stopped by to check on him.  She said she was very excited to see his progress and that she had called Kaya, the chiro, to give her the good news as well.  Kaya will still come out next Wednesday and adjust him one more time.  I will probably follow that up with one more round of acupuncture to see if it will help the swelling in his leg.  That little ba-donk-a-donk of mine gave me quite a scare.  The way he was moping around here Dr. Mary was really thinking he had a disc injury or even a fractured pelvis.  I know it sound crazy but I love that little donk and don't know what I would have done if she told me there was nothing else to do.  I spent a few nights with him in the barn with his head in my lap trying to keep him comfortable and gain my composure before having to come back into the house and face  the kids.  I don't know if the kids will ever be able to ride him again but that's not a big deal.  I mean, we can always get another donkey!

This time of year always makes me reflect on the wonderful things I have in my life.  This has probably been the most fulfilling and challenging year to date.  It just happens to follow one of the most depressing ones.   The months we spent in-between houses and in that dirty little rental in Prior Lake makes one really thankful for the blessings bestowed on them.  I give a heartfelt and gracious Thanks to my Creator for everything he has given to me...here are just a few.  My family, a husband who loves me, three healthy kids, a little brother and sister, my parents and my beloved in-laws.  Co-workers who I can call friends.  The people who stop me at church, or in the car pool lane at school, or the halls at the hospital to ask me how Dexter is doing. 

 During these difficult financial times my husband and I still have jobs.  Electricity in the barn and gutters on our house. A daughter in college.  A daughter who excels in school and a son who makes tremendous strides on a daily basis. I couldn't be more proud of them.  The teachers who stand behind them and make their success a reality and a school who values the children I hold so dear and refuses to let them fail.  Beautiful eggs I collect every morning.  A baby goat who nuzzles me after every bottle I feed her.

  Her mother who provides us with the milk to sustain her.  Donkey hugs.  A well insulated barn to keep them all safe and warm.  A puppy who likes to sleep under the covers.  A husband who will move to the couch so he doesn't have to kick a dog off the bed and while he might not share the connection I have with my animals, he "gets" me and picks up the slack.  A cat who sleeps on my pillow.  Hardwood floors.  A good broom to sweep up all the hair.  A good camera to capture the wonder that has become my life. These are things that make me truly blessed.  I hope you can all find the peace and contentment to make your lives rich and meaningful.  Have a happy Thanksgiving.

I'll leave you with these pictures.  Remember the days of bringing the kids to the photographer to get that perfect picture for your Christmas card?  And the disappointment when every picture someone has their eyes closed or is making  a ridiculous face?  This was my attempt at the perfect Christmas card of my fur-children.  Epic Fail!

 What a bunch of 2 year olds! 

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Adios Ferdinand!

Earlier this week we said farewell to Ferdinand.  He will be enjoying his new life in Lakeville where he now has two little girlfriends.  He will be much loved by a mom, dad and two little boys.  I received a text from Julie, the mom,  the next morning telling me that Ferdi had fallen asleep in her younger sons lap.  When I dropped him off at his forever home it didn't take him long to make himself aquainted and comfortable in  his cozy little house.  He was jumping off of rocks and running around with his new little lady friends when I left and I'm sure he will live a long and spoiled life there!

The exciting news for today was the delivery our beautiful new mammoth donkey.  On my facebook page I had a little naming contest.  The big winner of some handmade goat milk soap was Jen Larson with her name suggestion of Matilda.  We will call her "Millie".  I hope to get some better pictures of her tomorrow.  She was feeling pretty shy and it was hard to get a picture with her head up.  She has now settled in very nicely and acts like she's been here for years.  Her and Dex have become BFF's.  I tried to take Dex on a little walk this morning but when he heard Millie bray for him he stopped dead in his tracks and started to bray back at her.  Then he got so worked up we had to go back and get her.  He kicked and reared up and carried on til she was back in sight.  I thought she was going to jump right over the fence.  I'm relieved that they have become such fast friends but they can tend towards the dramatic!   Here are a few pictures from the first moments they met.   Initially she didn't seem too impressed with him and you can see she even chased him a little bit! 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Feeling Bucky!

So there have been some additions to the herd since my last post.  The first one was a little Pygmy goat.  His name is Ferdinand.  He comes to us by way of a coworker who's name shall not be mentioned here to save her the disgrace she's sure to feel after you hear poor Ferdi's story.  She got him from her sister who purchased him with the intention of using him to practice rodeo roping skills.  I guess no one informed her that this little goat was full grown and she quickly discovered that he was going to be too short to be of any use.  So Karen (oops! I slipped)  decided to take him home.  I should also make note here that I was recently at Karen's house and saw a picture of her sister with her very attractive husband and 5 beautiful children and I mentioned that they seemed like such a nice family....anyhoo, I received a phone call from Karen late one afternoon inquiring on how to care for little Ferdi.  The first thing I instructed her to do was to get another goat.  Goats are herd animals and should never be kept without a little buddy to play with.  After some discussion about other necessities that would be needed and the realization that he was never going to stop pooping in her garage she decided to bring him to the farm and I would try to find a new home for him.  And here he stays.  I put a lovely ad on craigslist but only have had one response and that was clearly a meat vendor.   So if anyone wants or knows of anyone who wants a pygmy goat and is willing to be drilled by me in order to determine their qualifications for goat husbandry, please let me know!

The other addition to the gang is a large rather smelly buck who goes by the name of Rocky.  He would be what you'd call a "Rent-A-Buck".   We have leased him for a small fee to mingle with the ladies if ya know what I mean.  We picked him up on Saturday afternoon and he's already become very acquainted with three of the girls.  I penned Shirley in the small run so she wouldn't be exposed to him.  She is my Saanen doe and I had planned to take her to the breeder so I would have some purebred Saanen kids in the spring.  Well apparently our fencing in the barn has a couple of weak spots because by Monday morning she had managed to get back into the main run with the other goats .....and Rocky.  There is some evidence (I will spare you the dirty details) that she was bred by him.  It makes me want to cry but what can I do now?  I am going to secure the fence and put her back into the smaller run with the little ones and hopefully she will come into season again in a couple of weeks.  

So the yellow on his front feet and his face...URINE!  I know, disgusting right?  Even grosser, watching him do it.  He's a pretty gross dude.  And his smell...don't even get me started on that one.  I can't stand even going into the barn anymore.  There isn't enough fresh air in the world when he's standing right behind you.  You may not be able to see him but you sure can smell him.  Twenty-two more days and counting till we can ditch him.  As you can see in the photo below,  the ladies don't share my sentiment.

This picture was literally taken the minute I put him in the pen.  I was so disappointed in my girls.  I thought they were all so much better than to fall for such a Casanova so quick.  His habits are rather crude and I'll be so relieved when he's finally gone and we can go back to the way things were before "smelly boy" came.  I am really looking forward to all the little babies we'll have running around here in April though.  Only, I'm really hoping for all girls! 

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Thursday, October 14, 2010

City to Country

So I started the following post more than two weeks ago but it seems I never have time to sit down and finish it. I thought it was still worth posting and hope you'll consider putting it on your calender for next year.

This weekend we had a blast at Scott Co. City to Country Tour, sponsored by the University of Minnesota Agricultural Department. When I first suggested that this might be a fun activity for our family to do I heard a slur of complaints; "We live on a farm, why would we want to go and tour someone else's farm?", "That sounds boring", the complaints go on... I finally managed to convince them and we headed off to our first stop. First I should tell you that the City to Country Tour is a self guided tour, consisting of three different farms in Scott County that focus on different aspects of agriculture. This year the farms included a pumpkin/squash grower, a market sheep producer and a dairy farm. The tour provides members of the community the opportunity to tour local farms and demonstrates the importance of agriculture and the rural character of Scott County through demonstrations, hands-on activities and educational displays.

First stop, Bartens Pumpkins, owned by Fran Barten and family.

The front yard was a mass of orange. Pumpkins in every size and shape. Gourds galore! The tour began with several different stops along a winding path. First we learned about the benefits of having a rain barrel. FYI, you can get one for yourself for only $75 through the Scott Co. Soil and Water Conservation Department.http://www.scottswcd.org/index.php Then we heard about the benefits of home canning and growing your own garlic.

By the way, if you live in Belle Plaine you might have seen a picture very similar to this one in the Belle Plaine Herald.  I was wondering why the guy next to me was so interested in taking pictures of my kids and then he identified himself as a photographer for the Herald.  When Joshua saw his picture he said, "I'm famous!"

Another really fascinating endeavor this family has managed to master is mushroom growing.  They are growing beautiful Shitaki right in their backyard.  They have these logs propped up and a simple irrigation system that provides the equivalent of one inch of rainfall a week.  Each log has several holes bored into it in which they inject mushroom spores.  They then cover the hole with wax and in as soon as three days they can be eating these beautiful mushrooms

I don't remember the other variety of mushroom they are growing but the spores are layered between "slices" of logs and the mushrooms grow right out of the sides.  Amazing!

They also had a small apple orchard and gave really great advice for pest control without spraying and using harsh chemicals.  We were able to sample fresh honey from their bees and see where they keep their hives.

The second stop on our tour was a sheep farm.  We saw the cutest donkey there and were able to watch a man shear a sheep in record time.  As you can see the sheep isn't as impressed!

Stop number three on the tour was a dairy farm.  The little calves were so adorable.   One even sucked my thumb!

We learned the importance of buying local to support our local farmers and then got to sample some yummy cheeses from Bongards Creamerie in Jordan and topped it off with a milkshake.  

We all had a blast and definitely recommend taking the tour with your family next year.  Every year three different farms are featured so who knows what we'll get to encounter next year.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Hay Good Lookin

Whew...after managing to dwindle our hay supply down to our last 2 bales we finally got our winter supply.  100 bales are now nestled to the rafters in the feed stall.  With any luck my calculation of 100 bales will last us through the winter and no one will starve to death.  I do anticipate a very fat donkey by spring.  This hay is loaded with alfalfa.  Great for 7 pregnant does but a little rich for Dexter Donkey.  We bought this hay from the neighbor and he was nice enough to bring it over for us.  He brought it yesterday in the early afternoon when it seemed the sky was clearing up.  Knowing that rain was coming overnight we knew we had to get it put away that night.  The kids pushed the bales off the wagon and I loaded them 3 at a time on a dolly, passed them to Gary who piled them up.  It took us all evening but it's a good feeling knowing we have it there to get us through the winter.   Each wagon had 50 bales piled on!
This weekend we finally managed to finish a separate little area for Snowy, our baby Saanen.  It gives her a private little space where she can go and not get bullied and eat her hay.  The bigger goats tend to butt her out of the way at the hay feeder and they always drink the water in the small bucket that we set beside the larger tank for Snowy.  Now we can rest assured that she is getting her fair share.  I am also happy to report that she is growing like a weed.  The little piglet is drinking about 40oz. of milk a day.  We'll have to wean her in a few more weeks so she doesn't get to chubby.  One thing I didn't anticipate was that the younger little does would be able to fit through the little gate we made for Snowy to get through.   That's Blossom lounging around in the restricted area like she owns the place.  Snowy didn't seem to mind  so I decided to let her stay.  It's a sight for sure to see her squeeze her tubby tummy through the little hole.  Although from this picture Snowy seems just as 
tubby.  She seemed so happy I couldn't even consider asking her to leave.  As you can see she is grinning ear to pendulous ear and thanking me for her new space!


I am also thrilled to report that Dex's surgery incisions are healing nicely and he is a changed jack!  He is back to his friendly, playful ways and is no longer a danger to society.   If only people were so easy, right?  I managed to snap a few "last pictures of summer" photos in between downpours this week.  I love the one of Lilly standing behind her protector (Dex) while she contemplates moving closer.  I was lying in the grass and they were all dying of curiosity wondering what I could possibly be doing.  

Within a minute they all had their noses in my lens.  They were like a bunch of kindergartners screaming, "Take my picture next!" 
They're so stinkin cute though it's hard to get annoyed with them.  

Monday, September 13, 2010

Shooting in Northfield, several wounded...

Over the weekend we took a trip to Northfield and while we were there witnessed a bank robbery.  After the robbery the thieves rode up and down the street shooting at innocent bystanders.  Several people were wounded and one man lay dying in the street....

Ok, we were at the Defeat Of Jesse James reenactment.  It was a lot of fun.  The cowboys were firing real guns loaded with blanks so the sounds were very authentic.  The costumes were pretty fantastic too.  Well done, Northfield!

Notice the body under the riderless horse!  Very authentic!

When we got home we cleared one the pastures of some giant mushrooms that have been growing.  This is one of the craziest things I have ever seen.  You would think they weigh a ton but in reality are ridiculously light for their size.  
Believe it or not, Joshua is holding only part of the
mushroom.  His was so huge that every time
we tried to lift it up another chunk would
fall of it!
Madeline strikes a pose!
And today was the day for Dexter Donkey.  The vet came early this morning and I am delighted to announce that Dex is now a gelded donkey.  It was a brutal procedure.  This is your warning that if you have a weak stomach you shouldn't read the rest.  And you may want to skip the pictures too!  The first thing he did was give him an injection of a sedative that helped to make him sleepy.  It was kind of funny.  Poor Dex was trying so hard to stay on his feet.  It was like all four of his knees stopped working and when he tried to take a step it was like watching him try and walk with crutches.  Then the vet administered the general anesthesia.  Down he went with a thud.  I was instructed to kneel on his neck and hold a towel over his eyes.  Dr. King was swift with the knife and after about two minutes he nonchalantly tossed a bloody testicle over his shoulder and a few minutes later the second one followed.  Then he stood up and said, "There are few things in life that you can be sure of but the one thing I am sure of is that this is a gelded donkey!"  Then we just stood around and waited for Dex's hallucinogens to wear off.   Poor thing.  He was so wobbly and pathetic.  He just wanted me to hug him and reassure him that he was ok.  The next picture is of him being all dopey and cute.

The wound is not sutured.  It's left open so that it can drain and heal from the inside out.  Seems a little barbaric I know.  For the next few days it will continue to bleed.  You can see the blood on the inside of his leg.  The next picture are his testicles.  I know it may seem a little strange that I took pictures of them but how else could I share it with you if I didn't?  You know you were curious...
When I showed them to the kids after school Joshua just couldn't believe I had actually touched them!

The black thing hanging down is his penis shaft and you can see where his testicle used to be.  Tomorrow we'll hose off some of the blood and keep an eye out for excessive swelling.  As traumatic as it was for me he really doesn't seem very phased by it.  He seemed more upset by the fact that he had to spend the majority of the afternoon in the barn by himself.  Later, he had his bucket of grain and without skipping a beat started chasing and nipping the goats the minute he was turned out to the pasture. All is well with the world once agian. We'll see how tomorrow goes!