Sunday, November 7, 2010

We're going to have a kid (or maybe up to 8 kids)!

I was actually quite nervous to introduce a buck to our sweet little does. PJ and Mabel are, of course, our pets, and though he seemed sweet enough, I had fears of incorporating this large, smelly, head-butting, big-horned creature into our herd. Especially for the reasons we intended.

Mabel has wanted nothing to do with him this past week, running up on top of the roof of her little house whenever he comes too near. But this morning, things changed. In addition to going at it a few times, Mabel and Eli have spent much of the morning nuzzling heads, while Eli "sings" a quiet, high-pitched noise and Mabel flags her tail.

The gestation period for Nigerian Dwarf goats is 145 to 153 days. So in early April, we may have two to eight babies arriving. (We anticipate hoards of people wanting these little ones, so put your name on the list as soon as you can!)
(Note: That was actually half marketing gimmick/ half daydream.) Apparently, goats typically come into heat in autumn, as day length decreases and the threat of melancholy sets in. It's perfect, this master design. We don't see it as well in our warm climate - we are actually experiencing a marked increase in garden production and don't feel the lack of creation and productivity yet - but we can feel the darkness creeping up all the same. We'll plant our flower bulbs soon, and then we'll wait for spring. Like the bulbs, and other unnamed dreams, the baby goats will develop in secret and in darkness, hidden away until spring, which teaches us year after year that life wins. That if we wait in joyful hope, we'll see birth and rebirth and reclamation of dreams.

These Advent musings, I think, are premature. Here in Austin in early November, we're still experiencing the giddiness of crisp, 65-degree afternoons. And we have many overt and sometimes noisy signs that life is winning. Several of our (human) loved ones are announcing pregnancies and having babies, and we get to observe the rush of hope (and, as aunt and uncle, avoid the sleepless nights) of new life.

Here are some pictures of a quilt I just finished for one of these important babies, machine-pieced, mostly machine-quilted (but with some hand-quilting) and hand-appliqued.


Friday, November 5, 2010

Eli The Goat



Well, we have a billy goat. Err.... a 'buck' in goat parlance. Sorry goat lovers
In any case, he's pretty cool. Eli came to us from a family up near Georgetown. Eli, like our little does, is a Nigerian Dwarf goat, and has pretty blue eyes. Apparently that's quite desirable among Nigerian Dwarf goat breeders. I don't really much care personally.

Although he's been with us for a week now, he has already begun mating with one of our does, PJ. It's a sight to behold, to be sure. When the does go into heat, they make lots of noise "baa! baa! baa!" all day long and wag their tail rapidly. Honestly, this isn't so different from their normal behavior, it is just greatly increased. When Eli and PJ are feeling romantic, they make quiet chirping/burping sounds to each other and kind of nuzzle faces a few times, then Eli will paw at her with one leg. If PJ sticks around and lets him, he'll hop on top and give it a go a few times. If he's on target, and everything has worked out, PJ will sort of squat down afterward for a few moments. I know this because I saw it happen yesterday morning as I was making coffee, then twice today. So far, Mabel has not yet come in to heat, so Eli takes little interest in her.

Don't worry, no pictures of that. (We couldn't get the camera on fast enough...)

Elsewhere in the garden... I took the okra plants out. They're gone! I also harvested the sweet potatoes. So, in the space where those two venerable summer crops were, I have planted: spinach, turnips, peas, garlic, radish, chard and arugula. Here are some pictures...

And, finally, just for fun, here is a picture of me that Sarah took before Halloween. I grew a mustache for my Halloween costume, and when I put on all my gardening clothes, I really looked the part...I'm not sure what that part was, though! Maybe we've been watching too much 'All Creatures Great and Small", because I spent the better part of that day talking to myself and Sarah in my best imitation of a rural Yorkshire accent.

Happy afternoon to you all.