Monday, August 6, 2012

kidding time

It has taken a while to get these up, but here's a look at our first kidding season. For us it was a little later than usual because our does were due in June. 

We watched for signs every day. As the doe gets close to kidding time, her body will start to adjust. Her pelvic bones begin to spread out. You can see the area around the back bone of the goat, where it connects to the tail area, begin to indent. You may, or may not, see a small amount of jell/mucus leaking from the vulva, this is called "loosing the plug". Later, an extension of this will be a steadier leak of fluid.

In our experience "strutting" happened 24hrs before kidding. When the bag is strutted, the skin is as tight as it can get. It will look also looks very uncomfortable. I was tempted to relieve some pressure, but didn't want to milk-out colostrum. Read all about "Liquid Gold" here.

We put the pregnant does in a smaller pen at night so they would be easy to locate. There were many late night check-ins by flashlight. 

One night, around 11:45...


Gidget was the first to kid. She's the herd queen. Above you can see her tail raised as the ligaments loosen. Below, you can see the kid's head emerge. What you see is the ideal presentation - a diving position. At this point we wipe the nose clean and continue to encourage the doe with soothing words and steady hands.

Around 2:00 am we had our first kid.

As soon as we clear the airway, and towel-off, doe and kid bond. She starts trying to get him on his feet immediately.

We dip the cord and the hooves in iodine and place clean used feed bags under the kid.

In the morning we all get to know each other.

Two sets of twins soon follow.

Our approach to milking in a later post.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

one new sculpture

at the table # 3

papier mâché

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

farm update - chicken sperm and goat teats

It's been very busy around here. I'm working on two sculptures that I hope to have finished in time to present to the curator of my upcoming show. We also added three pregnant goats to our herd in steps toward getting our creamery up and going. I'm still making cheese with purchased milk, but soon we should have plenty of our own. The local extension office has been helpful with legal information and in my free less busy moments (while filling a trough, or taking a pee) I'm reading in preparation for being a goat midwife next month. To catch you up on what's happening on the farm I took some pictures this evening...

The new girls are Saanens. Saanens are known for their large size, vitality, herd compatibility and their “eager to please” temperament, but the largest part of their popularity is their milking ability. They are known as the Queens of the Dairy Goats.

These girls are all pregnant and their udders are starting to grow

We are teaching the herd to goat pack. Evening walks are good training



baby apples


plenty of eggs

new additions to the egg laying team

a Show Girl for the fun of it

a beautiful new Cochin rooster for breeding. They have so many feathers that they can't breed naturally. The kids and I learned how to artificially inseminate on a 4-H field trip

My two older ones recently competed in the Virgina Poultry Federation's Poultry Judging Contest. Their teams did well in the state wide competition.

Hopefully my next post will include the finished sculptures!

Saturday, March 24, 2012

new painting

Here's a detail of a 24" x 30" oil on canvas I've been working on. It's one of the paintings from Bears Den. Since I moved back to Virginia (about a year and a half ago) I've been painting at this spot along the Appalachian Trail and points west, including the Shenandoah River.

A few years ago I noticed that my landscapes were generally wide open spaces - pasture and rolling hills. Painting from inside the forest was a challenge to me. I hike often, and after some time on the trail I became aware of what you might call, walking meditation, perhaps a second wind. The body is in sync with the breath, the first thoughts to bombard your conscious in a quite moment have passed, and instead of looking AT things, I'm seeing a lot at once.  From the undergrowth and mess of trees an organization emerges. 

How to tackle the "busyness" and wild, without creating a complete mess, became my challenge. I've enjoyed the balancing act of the forestscapes and return to them to switch things up between sculptures.

Friday, March 9, 2012

The Painter Who Loved Chickens - a Book Suggestion

We just checked out a lovely children's book from our local library, one that earns a spot on my gift book list.

The Painter Who Loves Chickens, by Olivier Dunrea is the story of a painter who lives in the city yet dreams of living on a farm with the animals he loves. The illustrations are bright, colorful, and full of fun details. As a 4-H poultry club Mom, I appreciate the accurate breed paintings opposite each full page illustration.

There once lived a man who loved chickens - very much. He made his home in the city, but he dreams of living on a farm. And on his farm he would have chickens, lots of chickens....

Sure, I'm a painter who loves chickens, but I promise you don't have to be to fall in love with this book.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Inside the Box (The Artists' Gallery Annual Box Show )

An invitation to participate in The Artists' Gallery annual box show got me experimenting "inside the box". My invitation came with a 6 inch pine box that I could work with in any way I wished. This is an image of the first day.

When I saw the box I thought about shelter. I went about recreating(at 50% scale) an earlier sculpture that was about a different type of shelter. I've been curious about placing the paper people inside a structure - this gave me the opportunity to play around with that idea.

Well, it was a busy week around here and I didn't finish painting my outer walls. I missed the deadline by about 12 hours, but I'm thankful for the nudge to try something new. I look forward to doing it again next year.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Happy birthday, Edna


This morning, like every weekday morning, I was listening to the Writer's Almanac with Garrison Keillor while packing lunches. The segment reminded me that today is Edna St. Vincent Millay's birthday - here's a repost from last April to celebrate one of my most loved writers:

my candle burns at both ends

I've had poems dancing around upstairs as I go about my work - ideas for post that must wait. It's a critical time for preparing the beds and getting baby animals off to a good start around here. As helpful as the kids intend to be, we are learning a lot of new things, so chores are more like lessons, and as much as my blogging helps keep me on track creatively (and with the chores) it must wait at times.

To catch-up with my poetry month posts I'll enjoy some Edna St. Vincent Millay. She's a poet who lived like a rock star.
An unapologetic:
lover...but I'm happy I didn't know any of that when I first dove into her writing. The story unfolded in the poems. I guess I could say it was like finding a vein in the collective unconscious - and that's the magic of it all, right?

The first poem is not Edna's, but it honors all the great poets who let us ride for a moment on their delivery of understanding.

Nunc Dimittis

Little time now
and so much hasn’t
been put down as I
should have done it.
But does it matter?
It’s all been written
so well by my betters,
and what they wrote
has been my joy.

- James Laughlin

And now, Edna.


To what purpose, April, do you return again?
Beauty is not enough.
You can no longer quiet me with the redness
Of little leaves opening stickily.
I know what I know.
The sun is hot on my neck as I observe
The spikes of the crocus.
The smell of the earth is good.
It is apparent that there is no death.
But what does that signify?
Not only under ground are the brains of men
Eaten by maggots.
Life in itself
Is nothing,
An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.
It is not enough that yearly, down this hill,
Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

The Plaid Dress

Strong sun, that bleach
The curtains of my room, can you not render
Colourless this dress I wear?—
This violent plaid
Of purple angers and red shames; the yellow stripe
Of thin but valid treacheries; the flashy green of kind deeds done
Through indolence high judgments given here in haste;
The recurring checker of the serious breach of taste?

No more uncoloured than unmade,
I fear, can be this garment that I may not doff;
Confession does not strip it off,
To send me homeward eased and bare;

All through the formal, unoffending evening, under the clean
Bright hair,
Lining the subtle gown. . .it is not seen,
But it is there.

Invocation to the Muses

Read by the poet at The Public Ceremonial of The Naional Institute of Arts and Letters at Carnegie Hall, New York, January 18th, 1941.

Great Muse, that from this hall absent for long
Hast never been,
Great Muse of Song,
Colossal Muse of mighty Melody,
Vocal Calliope,
With thine august and contrapuntal brow
And thy vast throat builded for Harmony,
For the strict monumental pure design,
And the melodic line:
Be thou tonight with all beneath these rafters—be with me.
If I address thee in archaic style—
Words obsolete, words obsolescent,
It is that for a little while
The heart must, oh indeed must from this angry and out-rageous present
Itself withdraw
Into some past in which most crooked Evil,
Although quite certainly conceived and born, was not as yet the Law.

Archaic, or obsolescent at the least,
Be thy grave speaking and the careful words of thy clear song,
For the time wrongs us, and the words most common to our speech today
Salute and welcome to the feast
Conspicuous Evil— or against him all day long
Cry out, telling of ugly deeds and most uncommon wrong.

Be thou tonight with all beneath these rafters—be with me
But oh, be more with those who are not free.
Who, herded into prison camps all shame must suffer and all outrage see.
Where music is not played nor sung,
Though the great voice be there, no sound from the dry throat across the thickened tongue
Comes forth; nor has he heart for it.
Beauty in all things—no, we cannot hope for that; but some place set apart for it.
Here it may dwell;
And with your aid, Melpomene
And all thy sister-muses (for ye are, I think, daughters of Memory)
Within the tortured mind as well.

Reaped are those fields with dragon's-teeth so lately sown;
Many the heaped men dying there - so close, hip touches thigh; yet each man dies alone.
Music, what overtone
For the soft ultimate sigh or the unheeded groan
Hast thou—to make death decent, where men slip
Down blood to death, no service of grieved heart or ritual lip
Transferring what was recently a man and still is warm—
Transferring his obedient limbs into the shallow grave where not again a friend shall greet him,
Nor hatred do him harm . . .
Nor true love run to meet him?

In the last hours of him who lies untended
On a cold field at night, and sees the hard bright stars
Above his upturned face, and says aloud "How strange . . . my life is ended."—
If in the past he loved great music much, and knew it well,
Let not his lapsing mind be teased by well-beloved but ill- remembered bars —
Let the full symphony across the blood-soaked field
By him be heard, most pure in every part,
The lonely horror of whose painful death is thus repealed,
Who dies with quiet tears upon his upturned face, making to glow with softness the hard stars.

And bring to those who knew great poetry well
Page after page that they have loved but have not learned by heart!
We who in comfort to well-lighted shelves
Can turn for all the poets ever wrote,
Beseech you: Bear to those
Who love high art no less than we ourselves,
Those who lie wounded, those who in prison cast
Strive to recall, to ease them, some great ode, and every stanza save the last.

Recall—oh, in the dark, restore them
The unremembered lines; make bright the page before them!
Page after page present to these,
In prison concentrated, watched by barbs of bayonet and wire,
Give ye to them their hearts' intense desire—
The words of Shelley, Virgil, Sophocles.

And thou, O lovely and not sad,
Euterpe, be thou in this hall tonight!
Bid us remember all we ever had
Of sweet and gay delight—
We who are free,
But cannot quite be glad,
Thinking of huge, abrupt disaster brought
Upon so many of our kind
Who treasure as do we the vivid look on the unfrightened face,
The careless happy stride from place to place,
And the unbounded regions of untrammelled thought
Open as interstellar space
To the exploring and excited mind.

O Muses, O immortal Nine!—
Or do ye languish? Can ye die?
Must all go under?—
How shall we heal without your help a world
By these wild horses torn asunder?
How shall we build anew? — How start again?
How cure, how even moderate this pain
Without you, and you strong?
And if ye sleep, then waken!
And if ye sicken and do plan to die,
Do not that now!

Hear us, in what sharp need we cry!
For we have help nowhere
If not in you!
Pity can much, and so a mighty mind, but cannot all things do!—
By you forsaken,
We shall be scattered, we shall be overtaken!
Oh, come! Renew in us the ancient wonder,
The grace of life, its courage, and its joy!
Weave us those garlands nothing can destroy!
Come! with your radiant eyes! — with your throats of thunder!


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