We have been focusing lately on gearing down for the winter. Last winter was so hard and stressful, that we’ve been making some tough decisions about animals for this year. Right now our livestock list goeas something like this:

  • 3 horses: Shine, Marlene and Winter
  • 3 cows: Maude, Pearl and Maeby
  • 3 pigs: Bill, Dixie and Beowulf
  • 12 sheep: 9 ewes and 3 wethers
  • 4 geese
  • 4 dogs: Split, Ben, Joon, and Ralfy the Ancient Beagle
  • Chickens: 7 laying hens, and a rooster (in a chicken tractor) and 3 bantams running free
  • 4 cats

So the plan is to reduce the number of big hay-eaters, and anybody else who might be a source of stress this winter.

Maude is going to live with our friends in Damascus, Va, where she will be a pampered only cow. Shine is going to live with her former owner in Boone, NC, where she will be giving rides to disadvantaged kids, which is perfect for her. Bill the pig and the 3 wethers are all going in the freezer, along with the chickens in the chicken tractor, who have frustratingly been eating their eggs.

This is sounding much more do-able!

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The geese have been evicted from the garden for the spring. They just didn’t have quite the respect for newly dug beds or seedlings that I like to see in my garden tenants. So now they are roaming the farm, but spending the nights in the barn, safe from predators. Aren’t they gorgeous, though?

It is a wet, snowy day, which might be hard on our spirits if it wasn’t going to melt away really quickly. But day after tomorrow is supposed to be 60-something again, and so I think we can live with it!

Left to right---Heinrich, Elsa, Ida and Siegfried

We had such a fun day today! We’ve noticed that since Bernard has become a teenager, it’s gotten to be pretty rare for all four of us to go do things together. We spend a lot of time together at home, but whenever an outing is proposed, somebody (often me!) decides to take it as an opportunity to have the house to themselves. And yet, somehow, today we all drove all over creation together.

We started out by contacting some folks trying to sell some geese on Craigslist. As you may remember, Siegfried has been very lonely since the fox ate his girlfriend, and lately he’s been making us all miserable. He’s very noisy, and has started sneaking up behind people to grab their legs, so he’s been banished to the garden, poor lonely guy. So anyway, I called these folks and the woman told me her husband had just loaded all the geese up and taken them to the livestock auction. She gave me general directions to the sale barn—at least an hour and a half away—and we piled in the car and took off. It was so much fun! This was a  little teeny barn on some guy’s farm, a real live auctioneer, and a fascinating cast of characters. DH did the bidding, and instead of one goose, we ended up with two geese and another gander, for $13.50 each!

So we put the three huge birds in a box in the back seat of the Subaru—where they were very quiet and well-behaved—and took off for Tennessee, stopping to refuel at Taco Bell and Dairy Queen (we know how to party).

We’ve been buying hay from this guy in Tennessee all winter, and had admired his adorable little donkeys. Well, it turns out he wants to sell them—cheap! $150 for the pair!—and so we went to look at them. We fell in love. They are so sweet and affectionate, and—maybe the best part—experienced sheep guardians. So I think we’ll be going to get them next week.

Then we rushed home so DH and Bernard could get ready to go watch a roller derby match in Asheville. Bernard is now skating in the junior league (her skating name is Psycho Sis), and really enjoys going to watch the big girls skate.

ED and I are planning to enjoy  a lazy dinner and a movie. As soon as chores are done, that is.

Isn't he noble?

Isn't he noble?

We traded Liath, our LGD, for a pair of geese this past fall, which I think has been a good deal all around. Unfortunately, just before Christmas a fox grabbed the female, leaving a very dejected and lonely gander who lives in the yard and announces all visitors. Siegfried has bonded with a stack of shiny stainless steel stovepipes that are on a pallet in the side yard waiting to be used in the installation of the new wood heat stove. That’s going to be a sad day. Now, whenever something upsets Siegfried he goes over to his beloved stovepipes, puts his head down and kind of inside, and croons softly to them. If anybody has a mate for him, please let us know! (You may notice I refrained from asking “for a goose”—I tried that on facebook already, with unfavorable results!)