We have officially been living a bit of the farm life for one week now.  They say the learning curve is a steep one, and we have already learned just how slippery that slope can be!

First, when we moved our new goats into the goat pen, we knew it was a bit run-down, but since it was 2×4 60″ wire on 6 foot t-posts, we thought we’d be safe until we got a new pen built.  We were wrong.  Within 3 days, our more rambunctious doe, Lilac, had managed to squeeze her head through every broken wire in the fence and rub her back on it until all sides were warped in every direction.  That, combined with her standing up on her hind legs and leaning on the fence caused our make-shift gate eventually to lean just enough she was able to leap out of the pen.  The first time, we couldn’t figure out how she got out, so we put her back in and watched from a house window.  It didn’t take long for her to leap out a second time, and come running up to the house, bleating fiercely!  At least she likes us and was easy to catch.  I couldn’t say the same if the other doe got out though, so building the new pen was suddenly high on the priority list.  It took us two days, during which time, we had to use cargo straps to tighten the old fence at every weak spot we could find, and fill holes in the wire with whatever we could find. 

The old pen, with cargo straps buttressing up the t-posts and holding the wire semi-straight, and the rake and shovel handles are woven in and out of the larger holes and gaps in the lower half.

Saturday, we got our new, slightly larger pen set up, complete with a single strand of hot wire about nose height going around the inside, then we moved and partially re-built the shelter to include a feeder.  Finally, using a grain bucket on the outside of the fence to entice a bit, we introduced Lilac to the joys of hot wire.  Even though the new fence is only 4 feet tall, after her memorable hot wire intro, she hasn’t gotten near it. 

JR and M got to help disassemble and later re-assemble the shelter. They loved every minute of using those "grown-up" hammers!

A view of the larger pen. Plenty of room to romp and play. We even had the children gather some logs and downed trees and create a pile for the goats to climb on.

The beginnings of our key-hole feeder out the side of the shelter. Later, we will build an addition onto the side, with an actual feed box and hay/straw storage.

I have learned that milking goats offers several things I never considered previously.  First off, it is much harder than it looks.  Although I got the proper, rhythmic squeeze part down, trying to aim those inch-and-a half faucets INTO the bucket is quite difficult.  I now understand why maidens of old wore aprons.  My coat, shirt sleeves, skirts, jeans, boots, and even my eye glasses have all been thoroughly cristened with milk spray this week.  Since I currently milk in the garage, I have also managed to cristen my husband’s garage wall, floor, and anything else that happens to be nearby.  Unfortunately, it was A’s face one evening.  OOPS!  Thankfully, Lilac is a great sport, very patient with me, and I am improving.  The other issue I have now that the first week is over, is the discovery of new fore-arm muscles I didn’t know existed.  My arms are quite sore now, and I have to rotate which arm I milk with through the session.  I don’t feel sore until I start milking, and then my arms quickly remind me with the pain. 

I have also learned that 2 week old turkeys can really jump!  Our little brood is currently in their second cardboard-box brooder, this time with nearly 24-inch sides.  And the way they are flapping those little wings, I am not confident it will last more than a week.  Somehow, I have to devise something that will last until they are 8 weeks, when I move them outside.  I am just thankful to have figured it out with only 5 little turkeys, rather than finding out after I have 25 little chicks escaping all over the garage!

Children that play in the woods get very dirty.  Have you ever thought about what happens when you allow little boys with thick, curly afros to play in straw bedding, hay, pine straw, and around pine sap?  Let’s just say it isn’t pretty.  The bath water turns almost as black as the youngest and it takes a good 30 minutes to grease and comb those ‘fros back to their normal, straw-free selves!

Notice all the straw stuck in those velcro-like curls!

After a good scrub, that bath water was just plain ICKY!

Of course, this farm life stuff has its perks, too. 

Roasting marshmellows in the chimea on the deck.

Pure, fresh, raw, rich goat's milk

JR and Daddy spending a moment together, dreaming of all that can be done in those woods--when the snow finally stops.

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