Welcome to Legal Tender Farm

Welcome to Legal Tender Farm

Monday, December 12, 2016

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

The Fixer

I really don't know how anyone makes it in life without knowing how to fix stuff, or having someone around who knows how to fix stuff...especially on a farm.  And, I really don't know how it can be that companies have been making farm equipment for so many years, yet they still seem unable to make anything reliable.  Seriously, we can't get through a season without more than one piece of equipment breaking, malfunctioning, or just plain dying...multiple times.

If Tom wasn't capable of fixing nearly anything, we'd spend half our time and all of our money taking equipment to repair shops.

 My mower, which is not very old, stopped working about three or four times this season.  This particular problem happened to be something stemming from a safety feature.  If I get up from the seat, the engine turns off.  It's a good feature because if the mower flipped over with me on it, I sure will be happy that it turns off instead of chopping me into pieces.

However, the sensor isn't in the greatest place.  It's kind of forward under the seat, between my legs.  Somehow, it got out of whack and was sensing that nobody was in the seat, even when I was sitting in it.  Tom insisted that I had lost weight and was now too light for the sensor to sense my weight.  As much as I'd like for that to be true, I knew I hadn't lost weight, so it had to be something else.

Thank goodness Tom could diagnose and fix the problem fairly quickly and I could be on my way.

Friday, December 02, 2016

Pink Eye

We managed to stave off the parasites pretty good this spring, so I guess we're due for some illness around here.  A couple of weeks before Thanksgiving, I discovered that some of the goats had pink eye and we had to treat all fourteen of them.  Billy didn't get it even though he was spending quality time with the does, but we treated him anyway...just in case.

It's pretty much a pain when the goats have to be medicated because, well, they don't like to be medicated.  They particularly don't like to have stuff squirted in their eye.  We only have one goat who likes medicine, but only the kind she gets to swallow.  You can see her in the video below, getting in the way because she wants to taste the medicine.

For two weeks we squirted them all in the eyes twice a day.  OK, the truth of it is that there were a couple who didn't get it twice a day because they wised up and ran away, even though we tempted them with yummy sweet feed.  It's really, really hard to catch goats that don't want to be caught.  For several days, it was a disastrous melee with horned goat bodies flying all over the place.  I had several bruises on my legs to prove it.  We desperately need a chute.  Don't ask me why we've been raising goats for eight years and still don't have a decent set up for situations like this.

But, we finally got it down to a manageable system.  By Thanksgiving, we thought they were improved enough to take a break.  Even though they're supposed to be treated until their eyes cleared up, it was a pretty laborious process, we ran out of medication, and I had been reading things that sounded like it would clear up on it's own anyway.


After Thanksgiving, there were a few that were completely well and a few that were worse.  So, we had to get more medication and start over with the ones still showing signs of illness.

This doe was the worst.  Her eye was completely clouded over and inflamed.  She actually had to have a shot in the eyelid.  Ouch.  But, she's getting better.

This is one of the does that ran away and made it more difficult than it had to be.  She missed a few doses the first time around and her eye got pretty bad.

Another picture of the goat above.  If her eye was normal, you'd be able to see the rectangular pupil and a clear amber colored iris.  As it is, the eye just looks dull.

This guy got better, then worse.  Both of his eyes are cloudy.  You can barely make out his pupil.

If you enlarge this one, you can see that her left eye is clear.  Compare it to the other pictures of cloudy eyes to see the difference.  When they have pink eye, it kind of looks like a cataract, a cloudy spot that can cover just a spot on the eye, or the entire eye.

Her eye has begun to clear up, but it's still swollen and partially clouded.

Here's a video that I made with the GoiPro of our morning goat medicating session.  Too bad I didn't think to video our earlier goat wrangling efforts because I think it would have actually been funny to see.  It involved lots of running around, chasing, falling, and trying to fake the goats out by acting like we were just ambling on by and weren't actually going to grab them (no, that doesn't work), a bit of failed amateur lassoing, and snagging goats with a staff.

It's hard to see in the video, but goats have an extra eyelid under the eyelid that you can see.  It closes from the back of the eye towards the front.  Some of the goats are particularly hard to medicate because they'll clinch their outer eyelid really tight and when I pry that one open, they'll close that inner eyelid which blocks the spray.

The video doesn't work anymore because, apparently, Blogger doesn't give a flip.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Litterbugs. Ugh.

One of my farm chores is to do the mowing of what I call "the grounds" on a weekly basis.  That includes anything that is mowed "for looks", so that our place will look nice an tidy - the yard, down the driveway, along the road, etc.  Since our property is a corner lot, we have a lot of area along the road that I maintain.

I just don't understand, in this day and age, after years of anti litterbug and "don't mess with Texas" advertisements...why do people still throw trash out of their vehicles?  Every time I mow, I have to stop numerous times to pick up trash that people have thrown onto our property.  I just don't get it.  Can't they wait until they get home and put it in their trash can?  We aren't on a busy highway.  We're on a county road, off the beaten path.  It's a destination to nowhere except a cemetery or someone's home.

I keep this empty container in my mower cubby to stash the trash while I'm mowing.

Fits in here, nice and tidy, with my clippers to snip little rogue trash trees that grow along the fence line.

This is the trash that I picked up yesterday.

Along with... surprise! THIS!  

Hello, Karma.

Friday, September 09, 2016

Vardo Setback

Well, it's been a while since I've worked on my RV-to-vardo project.  When the mood finally struck, I made a horrible discovery.

We had a leak, which damaged part of two walls and rotted out a large part of the floor on the slide out...the part that I had already done several things to.

So, this sets me back and will make the reno more involved than I had intended.

Tom tore out the floor and replaced it and also tore out part of the walls.  We're trying to save the wallpaper job that I did, so that's one reason we didn't tear all the walls out.  Thankfully, most of the damage was below the windows.

It's not all bad, though.  I didn't like that old carpet that was in there, but I couldn't justify tearing it out - expense AND it was just a lot of work.  So, now at least the carpet is gone.  The bottom of the banquette rotted out, so that's a loss.  Since the whole floor had to go, I just took the jackknife sofa/bed out, too, and am getting rid of it.  I have a great plan for a replacement bed that I'm excited about.  Also, having a little table and chairs instead of the banquet might be nice.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

The Coop Yard

This is how the conversation went early this spring:

Me:  We need to rebuild the chicken coop yard.

Him:  Why?

Me:  Because, for one, it needs to be bigger.  Sometimes, we need to keep the chickens in their yard for a few days at a time and they need more room to scratch around.  Like now, several chickens are laying their eggs somewhere besides the coop and we're only finding one or two eggs a day.  It's ridiculous to have 18 chickens and get so few eggs.  Also, we need a safe place for the newly hatched chicks to be.  Out of nine that hatched this spring, only two survived.  Secondly, we built the yard we have now back when we didn't know anything about chickens.  We only made the sides about four feet tall and the chicken wire that goes across the top is sagging so much.  The weeds took over last summer and it killed my back pulling all those weeds out because I had to bend over double to fit under the "roof".  Also, I'd like to incorporate a few other features into our chicken yard.

Him:  We don't need a new chicken yard.  It's too expensive.  It will cost a thousand dollars.

Me:  Ok, well, you'll have to keep the weeds cleared out of it because I just can't do that anymore.

Him:  **blank stare**

'nuff said.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Shall We Try This Again? (Saving the Pond)

If readers will recall, back in the spring of 2015, we had torrential rains that washed part of our pond dam away.  We made a valiant effort to stop the damage (and here, too), but to no avail.

Thinking, "There's no way we'll have that much rain again in our lifetime," Tom and neighborly neighbor repaired the spillway.  And we were so happy and proud.  However, we were wrong.  Oh, so wrong.  We got even more rain in the fall of 2015, which totally washed the spillway away.

And, it's been too wet up until now to repair it.  So, now we are killing two birds with one stone, so to speak.

A few years ago, we were having drainage problems in front of the barn, so Tom dug sort of a trench in front of the door so the water would drain away.  Unfortunately, that's one of the few spots on our property that has red clay instead of sand.  The grass didn't grow back to cover it and it turned into a huge mud puddle every time it rained...which, obviously, was a lot.  So, he is taking this opportunity to fix that problem.

My brother had given Tom these huge pavers out of his Oklahoma back yard (thank you brother).  Fortunately for Tom, I was not able to lift them, otherwise I would have nicked them for my own project.  (I didn't actually have a project to do, but I'm sure I could have thought of something to do with such a cool freebie).  So, once again we called upon neighborly neighbor and his handy big machines.  He and Tom dug out and leveled the trench and put these pavers in.

The next thing to do was to scrape the area down so that the water flows away from the barn.

Neighbor used his Bobcat and this disc thing that I'm pretty sure he just whipped up in his shop the day before.  It tilled up the grassy area so the topsoil could be scraped off and saved, to be reapplied later.

The topsoil was put in one pile.

And the clay underneath was put into the dump truck.  By the way, neighbor is pretty accomplished with his big machines.  He changes attachments on his Bobcat as quickly and easily as I change attachments on my vacuum cleaner.  Click, click...one attachment off...click, click...another attachment on.   I'm kinda diggin' the Bobcat.  Maybe that can go on my wishlist. :)

So, here's the pond.  It's a mess.  It's lower than we'd like because every time it rains, the water just flows right out of the broken spillway.  We haven't been able to get over to the other side of the pond to mow for months, so it's a big weed patch.

The remains of our previous fix were dug out.

Ready for new drainage pipes.   The clay that was dug out from in front of the barn and put into the dump truck was trucked to the spillway site to use in place of the sand that was previously there.  You know that Bible class song that we teach our children..."the foolish man built his house upon the sand" and "the wise man built his house upon a rock"?  Well, that's more than figurative.  There's a reason that you don't build things on sand.  "and the rains came tumbling down"

Three culverts this time instead of two.

Now, we can finally drive across the dam.

And, here's the other side.  There's a big scoop out for the water to flow into before it starts flowing downstream.

Bring on the rain.  We need to test this bad boy out.
Well, we are hoping for only moderate rain so we can get some grass growing in the sandy topsoil first.

And...in front of the barn, all nice and smooth.

All in one day.  Awesome.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Farm Camp with Niece

I invited our young niece to come stay for a few days and have a "farm camp".  My intention was to time her stay so that she could help me with the milking and care of the goats, then to make several things with the milk so that she could have a farm-to-table experience.  Unfortunately, her spring break didn't exactly line up with the kidding of the goats, so I wasn't milking yet when she was here.

I have to wait until the kids are two weeks old before I start milking for several reasons.  First of all, I want to make sure all the colostrum is gone because it doesn't taste good and I want the babies to get it all anyway.  Secondly, the mothers are still sloughing off the material in their uterus so that they have gunk stuck to their tails and bottoms.  That's kind of gross because there's a possibility that it might fall in the milk.  Thirdly, I usually separate the kids from the mothers at night while I'm milking so that their udders won't be emptied by the babies during the night so that I won't get much in the morning when I go to milk them.  Why go to all that effort of getting up early, milking, and cleaning up, if I only get a pint or two?  So, until the kids are about two weeks old, they are too young to separate from their moms because they need to nurse every few hours.

Anyway...I happened to have a lot of milk in the freezer left over from last year's milking season.  So, we were able to make yogurt (which was a total failure), ricotta cheese, cajeta, and three different kinds of ice cream with that milk.

Niece was very helpful with the goats and she did some chores with Tom, too.  I gave her the main chore of cuddling goats.  That seriously is a time consuming job.  It's important that the baby goats are socialized so that they don't turn out wild.  She spent hours with them and it really has made a difference with this year's crop of babies, especially the meat goats that don't come into the barn every night like the milk goats do.

She learned that it was counter productive to chase them and that it worked out much better to sit quietly and let them come to her.

This one and it's brother were particularly affectionate.

She thought it was hilarious to let them use her as a trampoline and balance beam.

They like to chew on hair.

More jumping.

Sweet kisses.

And cuddles.

And a few nibbles.

East Texas Roses

East Texas is famous for it's roses.  Well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it.  Seriously, type in Google search, "rose capital of the world" and see what comes up.

I got serious about my roses this year and after a little Pinterest searching, I pruned them up good and it has really paid off.  I'm thoroughly enjoying the fruits of my labor.

This one is not quite in full bloom, but it is loaded with buds.  I'm amazed at all the different colors on this one bush.

There's this pinkish color.


Reddish orange.

And orange.  It blooms in clusters.

This yellow one is fabulous.  The faded ones have a pink tinge.  It blooms with one large bloom on each stem.

I'm being diligent to cut off the spent blooms to encourage it to bloom all summer.

The irises are making quite a showing, too, but they always do well.

There are just two colors blooming at the moment, but several more to come.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Kamikaze Guinea

We only had five guineas left out of 17 after some predator, possibly an owl, picked them off one by one in the fall/winter.  They started hanging out with the chickens and frequently going in the chicken coop for the night, which is probably the only way those five survived.

But yesterday when we got home from church, Tom heard a big commotion in our bathroom and when he went to look, he saw that the window was broken and a guinea flew out the window.

The bathtub that we never use sits under this window.  And, because we never use it, I keep the laundry trolley in the tub.  There was glass everywhere.  I asked Tom if the guinea was OK and he told me that, yes, it had flown out the window.  So, I set to work cleaning up the glass on the floor.  When I got the the tub and started to move the laundry trolley out of the way, this is what I found.

Pretty gruesome...and sad.

Four guineas left.  I'll definitely have to make sure that some of their eggs get hatched this season.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Kidding Season 2016

Well, for the third year in a row, Pansy had trouble delivering her kids.  She started labor on Saturday morning so I stayed in the barn observing.  When she started pushing in earnest and pushed out only a clear, fluid filled bubble about the size of a softball, I knew there was going to be trouble.  Usually, when a bubble like that (which is the birth sac of one of the kids) comes out, two little feet and a nose can be seen in the bubble before it bursts.  Sometimes it doesn't even burst until the kid is out.

After the clear bubble came out and burst, she pushed pretty hard for about an hour and nothing was happening.  So, once again I had to put on my midwife hat and put my hand in to see if I could feel the baby.  You also know that if you don't feel feet right there in the birth canal...trouble.  So, there were no feet.  I felt all around and all I could feel was the body.  I was working against the clock because I knew the vet closed at noon.  Tom wasn't home (of course), so I was alone and had to get Pansy in the trailer, which just wasn't gonna happen.  Tom called upon our neighbor again and he ran right over.  Thankfully, Tom had hooked up the trailer and had it ready for such an event, being as how we've had to go in the freezing middle of the night before.  Neighbor and I pushed and pulled and shoved until Pansy was in the trailer, then I took off like a shot, calling the vet on the way to let them know I was coming.  I had time to spare because by then it was 11:00.

When I arrived at the vet, they were working on a cow in labor that was having the same trouble we were.  I hung out in the trailer with Pansy for a while just in case she was able to birth her baby, but nothing was happening.  She wasn't even pushing.  So, I went to watch the birth of the calf, which was pretty amazing.

When that was over and the vet was washing up, the vet tech went with me to check on Pansy.  She had had the kid!  My first thought was to feel dumb for rushing to the vet because she ended up having it herself, but I noticed right away that it appeared dead.  Not breathing, sac over it's head.  The vet tech cleared it's mouth with his fingers, and alternately held it around it's middle with it's front end hanging down, shaking it, laying it down and doing chest compressions.  After a few moments of this, he instructed me to go tell the vet what was going on, which I did.  So, the vet hurried over and said, "give him to me".  He took him by the back feet, held him upside down, and swung him like a pendulum with moderate force.  After that, more chest compressions, rubbing and shaking and finally the baby started to cough and try to breathe.

When that one was sufficiently revived and breathing, the vet went to work on Pansy.  He felt around inside her and said, "there's all kinds of goats in there, all tangled up".  He sorted them out and pulled two more out, lickity split.  So, triplets for Pansy.  All alive...barely.  Tom named the first one Lazarus.

These Nubian triplets were the first kids born this year.  The one standing was breach.  I was able to help the mother enough so that we didn't have to call on the vet.  When I saw that intervention was inevitable, I carefully reached in to see if I could feel feet.  Nope, no feet, only body.  But, I did feel something that I thought was an ear, which gave me hope that I would only have to maneuver the feet in position.  But, when I pulled the little ear out, it actually was a tail.  So, for several minutes, the momma goat looked like she had two tails...her big one and tiny little one that was actually wiggling back and forth.  I was dismayed because I thought I was going to have to do some major birthing, but when I got my hand in there, it must have triggered something in the momma.  She gave two mighty pushes and out that baby came, bottom first.  After him, the other two, one boy and one girl, slipped out easily and in quick succession.

Big Momma was the next to kid.  No problems with her, thank goodness.

She has some big chunky babies.


They run and jump and play right away.


Lazarus' brothers.

Last born were these triplet girls.