Sep 21, 2012

Goin's On

WOW!  This is post 300!!!

I wonder if the word "routine" could ever be applied to our place?  With the advent of the new school year and implementation of the schedule and new Areas of Responsibility we hit the ground running!  The house was looking good, school was getting done, animals fed and milked on was a thing of wonder!

Then came the phone call, or rather, the text from New York.  Katarina had done an internship at Lynnhaven a few years back and so ingratiated herself with the folks up there that she  went back the next year to help with getting the goats ready for and attending the ADGA National Show.  This year the text was an SOS that they were short handed and needed the help of someone who already knew what they were doing, who needed no training in all things goat, from animal care to cheese making to selling at market.  She left on Wednesday and already sent pictures from NYC, taken at the Union Square farmers market.  All is well and fine with all of this, I am glad that she gets to go, she has made friends there and she enjoys sightseeing on her days off but of course, this means that the gloriously lovely perfectly functional schedule and AOR are rendered null and void.  sigh

Thankfully, we have been here, done this before.  We moved Grace (20 yrs old) back into the creamery to make cheese, yogurt, et al and Christin will be stepping up to the plate to cover infrastructure that Grace was in charge of maintaining.  Herd health?  Will now be shared.  This means that the main impact will be felt on market days. Without Katarina running the Wednesday City Hall market in Houston, Tim will have to make it work between his morning and evening bus runs.  I will lose my Saturdays spent with Tim for the time being as one of us will have to be in Austin for market, and the other in Houston.  Ah well.

In other farm news...

The depression cycle from earlier in the week thankfully did not last but two days.   This is a dramatic improvement.  The downside is that while we seem to have found a medication combination that works pretty well, the fallout from years of living with the depression means that while he may cycle down and back out again thanks to the new treatments, I am left reeling.  Anticipating depression, the pain/grief/anger of being in the middle of it when it occurs then the shell-shock once it leaves is a rough cycle in and of itself for the family.  You would think that after so many years of dealing with it I would be accustomed to it but I am not and honestly, I do not think that I ever want to see it as "normal" for our family.  I hate it and want to in no way tolerate it or give it a resting place.  Not that I have much of a choice.

We were able to add two new bucks to the farm!  When we lost goats over the winter our bucks were hit particularly hard, we lost almost all of them.  We were facing coming into this breeding season with but two mature bucks, none of them LaManchas, which was rough since LaManchas make up 60% of our herd!  We unexpectedly learned of a mature Alpine and  LaMancha buck available from two different farms within 48 hours of each other, both from bloodlines that I was glad to add to the herd.  The boys are in their quarantine pens (all new goats on Swede Farm go through a quarantine process just to be sure) but they are letting us know by pacing the fence and calling to the girls that they are more than ready to do their jobs.

We have kittens galore that we really need moved to new homes and we have cats that we really need to have spayed and neutered.  We have always dealt with new cats that showed up on the property (apparently dumped from the city) in the same way--breaded and dead fried.  just kidding
Spaying and neutering.  We have never had an abundance of money for vet bills, so we found a free spay neuter program based on income in Houston and used it.  Except now they only accept Houston residents which has me seeing red.  Living just a county away from Houston we have suffered greatly through the years from "dumped animals" (which is illegal, by the way).  Seems many in the city who do not wish to claim ownership of their pets will take a drive to the country and release them.  I guess the idea is that the animals will get an idyllic pastoral life, hunting for their food, returning to nature.  What happens instead is that they are hit by cars, starve to death, killed by larger predators or when they become a threat to livestock (we have had a goat killed by two such dumped dogs-turned feral) they are shot or poisoned by farmers.  So now we are in the position where we have city animals dropped off in front of the house but we cannot access city services to tend to them.  We never-the-less paid for the surgeries on our own--until last year when we simply could not any longer.  And now we find ourselves with (drumroll, please) almost twenty kittens on top of the momma cats that we need to find a way to get fixed.  ARGH!

The animals and peoples here on the farm are enjoying the cooler weather.  The goats run and leap like small kids and the dogs are running and wrestling like pups.  The children are convinced that it is (as Timothy said this morning) "probably thirty below zero!" and only venturing out in the mornings with arctic parkas on, unconvinced that at 59 degrees they are unlikely to freeze to death.

Dixie had to have her first stitches this week.  One week after the picture above was taken of Dixie at the Triangle market in Austin, I got a call that she had broken a glass and cut her wrist and needed stitches.  I took pictures of the insurance cards and texted them to Tim (what did farmers do at market without smart phones to take credit cards, send insurance card pictures, etc?) who took her to the fabulous ER in Navasota (where everyone knows your name--or at least ours).   Eight stitches later she is mended.  I think momma took it harder than she did!

Liberty (age ten) had her tonsils out two weeks ago.  She has never had tonsillitis but she had gone from being a noisy sleeper to having full-blown sleep apnea because her tonsils were simply huge.  Being somewhat dramatic, she has finally become convinced that she will not die from the post-surgery pain and forced abstinence from eating broccoli.  And now she sleeps like a baby, but a quieter baby than she ever was!  We are hopeful that this will also address some of the other issues that she has had which could be related to sleep apnea such as concentration issues and her tiny size.

We had to put down a beloved milker midweek.  Seems that she brewed an ear infection in that tiny LaMancha ear and by the time we discovered it the infection had progressed internally from an inner ear infection and she apparently developed a brain abscess from it.  This has to be one of the hardest things about dairying.  I remember when this goat was born, and when her mother was born.  I am thankful that we own a daughter of hers, but it isn't exactly the same.

Lastly, I quit this week.  Farming, that is.  I was thinking on Wednesday during the drive to and from Austin for market what life was like when life was simple.  Well--simpler.  When all I had to do was be a wife and mother.  I was realizing that even as a mom of a busy household, say when we had 4 children ages 5 and under, or homeschooling with seven children and doing hospice care for my mother-in-law, life still was not as stressful and unrelenting as having the farm and dairy. I was being nostalgic about those days when my only responsibilities were to be a wife and homeschooling mom and thought "I QUIT!" Now I get to just cuddle up and read stories and the biggest stressor of my day will be teen squabbles or a child who struggles with learning multiplication. Whew! How easy is that?! 

So I quit.  And Tim posted this on Facebook...
"Crud. LeeAnne just resigned. She said she would stay on board as wife and mother, but she is resigning all farm responsibilities. Swede Farm has an opening for generalized farm and market work...Candidates must be able to multi-task, travel, write well, adapt quickly, be good at conflict resolution, animal health skills, nutritional expert, be able to bleed blood from a stone, answer midwifery questions for humans and animals, have a psychiatric background (hands on-no classroom experience, please), need little sleep, teacher, administrative skills, be able to back up trailers, ability to cry over sick animals, ability to be heard over a 10 acre stretch of property, ability to deal with bureaucracy and milk inspectors, ability to explain to DPS officers that farmers do drive white vans at night between Austin and Waller with no intent of transporting narcotics, ability to deal with moody male farmers, ability to deal with hormonal female farm staff, ability to motivate young male farm hands to not ride on goats, excellent customer relations, will be in charge of newsletter, blog, facebook page, twitter updates, must be able to attend local farm and market meetings, must be able to educate customers, able to use multiple technological platforms, ability to love goats, knowledge of genetics relating to goats, not be queasy around farm animals that stink and mate during farm visits...The Swede Farm experience offers many immeasurable benefits that cannot be purchased with filthy luchre. At this time we are not able to provide a salary. Let me know if you are crazy enough to apply...Interviews will be conducted at 5pm and 6am during milking....."

Except that I can't.  Not because Tim won't let me but because the dairy is a big part of heart and soul, not just for myself but also for our children. You can't beat bonding over silly dances done between milking batches of goats or sharing market stories and cuddling those first babies of the kidding season. (sigh) The farm has added untold stress to our family life--and untold riches and I guess I can't keep the riches without also keeping the stress as well.

1 comment:

Jonathan H said...

Ever seen the bumper sticker "I like cats - they taste like chicken"?