Tonight, as we were doing our chores (which, by the way, are all of 40 minutes with the winter shut-down of the dairy), I asked Shaun, “Why is everything so much harder in the winter?” His thoughtful response was that it was because we are wearing 10 pounds more clothes, but it has to be more than that. Honestly, it doesn’t make much sense to me. We don’t live in a harsh climate. Our farm is pretty well set up. We have good facilities. We have worked really hard to make everything we need easily accessible, and yet, it feel like everything takes more energy and time. Really? Why? It is so beautiful, and yet the cold seems to slow my blood down to a crawl making everything I do take more time!
Let’s consider today-as many of our followers know, we have embarked on a ‘little’ remodeling project for the dairy. I am embarrassed to say, I think we are destined to always live in a construction zone, and even more embarrassed to admit that it is because we either 1. can’t seem to get it right the first time or 2. can’t seem to get it right the second time either…oh wait; maybe it is just because we can’t seem to get it right. So that brings me to the difficulty of winter-today was day 3 of the demolition of the cheese kitchen, milking parlor and feed room. What should have taken us 3 hours to do, took a solid 6. Yes, I will admit that gloves do inhibit to your ability to get a secure grasp on whatever deconstruction crowbar or sledge hammer you might be trying to wield thus hampering the health and welfare of co-workers anywhere within the swing range of said tools. Yes, I will admit that the occasional flying stud, nail or falling window might slow things down a bit, but really? None of these things would have been an issue in the summer–Why is everything so much harder in the winter?
So as we ended today, the old milking parlor and cheese kitchen have been virtually gutted. Poor Abby Ann, my sweet retired old girl who gets to come in for grain every evening, had a real shock to her system when I took her through the door tonight. Anyone who knows our goats knows that they (like their milker) are very much creatures of habit. Any change in scenery (such as, aforementioned milker coming to the barn with spectacles rather than contact lenses) sets the goats into a tail-spin. Imagine poor Abby Ann as she entered her comfortable old milking space only to find the whole thing gutted to the studs and one lonely milk stanchion waiting for her. I am surprised the old girl didn’t roll over and die right there on the spot.
As to the progress, yes, I know the rest of America is all in a tizzy about Black Friday, Christmas sales and festivities, but here at our farm, we are just focused on laying new plumbing, pulling new electrical wires, building new walls and pouring new floors. You see, time is ticking and while everyone else is counting down until Christmas, our deadline is a bit more urgent: it is the deadline of the first doe due!
Aside from the demolition that we have been working on, we finally determined (after searching about a million different parlor and stanchion designs) that we would need to build our own. There aren’t too many things that we won’t do, but Shaun did tell me he didn’t think he would have time to weld up the stanchions that I wanted, so we have contracted with a metal fabricator to build exactly the design we want. I swear, most people building milking facilities for goats must not have any experience with goats at all! Let’s just hope we managed to get the design right!
Livestock maintenance has been minimal. We did do our annual herd testing for the dairy this month; had the privilege of having the ‘baby vet’ (Amber) home for a short visit, so she delighted in a little side activity of goat-pokes!
We have all but 5 does bred. The 5 remaining girls are to be bred to a Nubian sire for replacements and we are patiently waiting for December 10th to pass before we start breeding them. This is one of those puzzles of our life where we try to be cognizant of what is happening 5 months from now and 5 months from now we will be in Pullman Washington as a family helping Amber Conway celebrate her graduation from Vet School. Leaving our farm helper without a passel of Nubian babies to feed 4 times a day seems like the least we can do given the already large workload of taking care of the farm!
We did welcome a new little addition to the farm quite by chance a couple of weeks ago. Meet ‘Peeps’! That silly hen decided that NOVEMBER was a good time to hatch a chick? Really? Although poorly timed by her mother, it has been a true delight for me. Peeps is flourishing despite the winter arrival–so, maybe that is it–maybe it is all attitude! Maybe I should just fluff up, chirp alot and snuggle under a warm feathery quilt all winter and perhaps then winter wouldn’t seem so hard. Thanks, Peeps for that little life lesson. I better start working on that.
Until next time, we hope your holiday plans are fun and bring you great joy. We are certainly grateful for each and every one of our farm friends and family and wish you a wonderful winter season–even if things are harder in the winter!
Shaun & Lorrie