Friday, March 27, 2009

Ever heard of a wolfberry plant?

We have oodles of these. I took the picture outside my backdoor at the dairy.
Wolfberry is drought-adapted, losing leaves during dry times and regrowing them when moisture is available. No irrigation is necessary after they are established. They are useful because they have many functions. They tend to grow dense and thorny, providing cover in which small birds can hide from predators. Their small lavender flowers, which emerge any time enough moisture is available, but are most abundant January through March, attracting pollinators. Though not tubular, I've seen hummingbirds foraging on them. Some pollinating insects that come to the flowers may, in turn, attract insectivorous birds. Wolfberry fruits are small, orangish-red berries that are eaten by wildlife (and by humans who like special desert treats). I think of them as little tomatoes, and indeed they are in the same family. Birds that eat fruit will like them too! Wolfberry can become a large shrub under the right conditions, like the 6-foot-plus ones in the front yard of the University Boulevard Nature Shop. In poorer, drier soils they will stay smaller. They grow slowly, so if you buy a small individual in a one-gallon pot, allow it quite a while to fill in. Wolfberries have an unrefined, scrubby appearance, though they will appear quite lush when fully leafed. It is a good shrub for filling in background areas along fences and walls, or other places to which you don't need easy access. Keeping them in the background may help if you think they look unsightly during the leafless times of the year. Planting them in a landscape that harvests and infiltrates rainwater will assure maximum soil moisture and help keep the plant lush longer. Information found at :

This one is for Carol

Well, I haven't been posting as much lately but I have good reasons. I am so busy! Here are a few pictures to keep Miss Carol of NC updated. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words -- so consider the above as a few thousand word update!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Layla, you've got me on my knees!

Well, last night Wendell and the kids gave me a birthday party. It was a blast and the weather was perfect. I even enjoyed my birthday song -- which is a first for me! During the party, I kept checking on Layla. Her ligaments had been gone for at least a day and that means she should be trying to kid by now. Everyone would have liked to see the miracle of birth, but fortunately she did not try any pushing. She waited until early morning to get serious about kidding. The reason this was fortunate is that it was quite a messy miracle. Wendell and Erik were working on trying to keep our dog, Luna(tic), in the fence so they were busy fixing her escape routes. I had told them that she was going to need some assistance with this delivery. She had been pushing hard for 20 minutes and nothing was coming. I couldn't wait for them so I cleaned and lubed up and went in to see what was going on. The first thing I felt were two legs. No head was there. I reached in a little farther and I could feel the head but it was turned back. I brought the head into position and then I thought to my self that this is one big head. And, then I thought ... wow, these are big legs, too. On my knees, I held on to those legs and waited for her to push. She pushed, I pulled, and we kind of were going in circles by this time. Fortunately, Aaron came over and positioned himself in front of Layla so she (and I) would quit going in circles. However, this was one very large kid and I had lots of lube on her. I could see the nose trying to come and didn't want to let go and lose the progress that she had made. Wendell and Erik had noticed the little rodeo and came over to help. Wendell had some leather gloves on and took hold of the legs. He had a great grip and we waited for another contraction. After some more struggle, and a small tear, the kid was finally born. It was limp and I handed it off to Wendell to try and stimulate while I made sure no other kid was coming. After checking Layla and finding that she was only carrying one, I went to the house to get her some warm molasses water. She drank it up and I milked her colostrum to feed to the new 11 pound 2 ounce buckling. He is bigger than the kids that are a week old! Layla gave lots of colostrum so I froze the rest for a future emergency. In the meantime, Wendell, Aaron and I had not realized this was Erik's first time watching something like this. I think he was in shock! He did real well. I hope the next kidding goes smoother. For the goat, for me, but especially for Erik :-)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Wendell, you're kidding!

That is what I said when he called me. I went to town this morning since it was Joann's birthday and Mary was going to do her hair. Kathy, Joann and I were going to lunch afterward. I checked Emma closely because I knew she could kid anytime. Wendell said he was working on the barn and he would keep an eye on her while I took a break with girlfriends. Besides, she had not been showing the classic signs of labor. When Wendell called and said, "It's a girl." I knew she hadn't waited for me. Though he has delivered literally hundreds of calves, I am the one that usually does the goat kids. He sounded nervous. Fortunately, Emma popped out triplets with no problem at all. The first was a black and white doeling that weighed 5 lb 14 oz. Then she had a black and white spotted buckling that weighed 8 lbs even. Not long after that she had a red and white spotted doeling that weighed in a 5 lb 10 oz. I cut my trip short and made it all the way back to Rainbow Valley just in time to feed the last doeling her colostrum. He had done an excellent job cleaning them up, dipping their navels in iodine and making sure they got colostrum as soon as possible. They are all adorable -- even when I have to get up (or stay up) for the midnight feeding.Luna loves her new charges! She is so gentle with them.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Dean Dairy

Jack arrived early yesterday to help us transport the rest of the bunch. We finally have all of our animals in one location. My high school buddy, Kathy, helped us sort and move the goats. It really helps to have extra hands when you are herding! Thanks Jack and Kathy. Erik and Wendell are still fine tuning the pens. Erik bought a welder and has been hard at it ever since. He is even getting people at Cirkle K asking him to do side jobs because he hauls it around so much.
We are headed to Maricopa today to pick up another addition to the farm. Bobbie Milsom ( has another girl for us. Her name is Bell and she is already milking. This is a big, pretty white doe and already giving almost a gallon a day and only being milked once a day. When we bump her up to two times a day she will give even more. Thanks for another great girl Bobbie!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

More Goats

We have had some of the does and one lucky buck at the Dean Dairy since December, but today is the day for those goats hanging out at the Jackrabbit place to join them. All of the new accommodations are ready for them. Our neighbors, Jack and Leslie, are offering the use of their large horse trailer so that we can make it in one trip. Thanks! Otherwise, it would have taken several with our truck. Luna, Roger and Crazy will be joining the goats. Of course, my Sammy will be with me wherever I go. I love my Aussie boy! I will take pictures and post later.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

A Most Unfortunate Hiding Place

Wendell and David went to work on the dairy this morning. On the list of things to do was setting the rest of the T-posts on the buck pen fence. If you aren't familiar with a T-post, they are metal posts that support wire fencing. In order to get them into the ground there is a special tool. This fence post driving tool is a long piece of heavy pipe that is closed on one end and has handles that you hold as you drive the post into the dirt. Wendell sent David to get the post driver which had been laying in the corral overnight. He gave it to Wendell and he proceded to fit the first post into the tool. With a long stroke Wendell gave the post a good whack to get it started into the dirt. It usually makes a very loud metal banging noise so David had his fingers in his ears. But, for some reason, this time it made no noise. They thought that was strange. Upon the second attempt to drive the post, a small bloody organ fell out of the driver. Only then did they discover the small ground squirrel that had been hiding in the tool!!! The boys tapped the tool on the cement and the remainder of the now deceased squirrel fell out. Ugh! Farm life can be so graphic. Don't worry though, this will not affect the population of the ground squirrels on the dairy. Believe me, there are many more there.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Buck Pen

Well, the buck pen is almost finished. All it needs now is a gate. The Irish Front van is serving a very good purpose. This is the van that my son used on his first few tours to California and New Mexico. It is a large Dodge van and it will be sufficient shelter for our 4 boys. We stripped the inside of everything but the dash and steering wheel. Then we put rubber mats inside for their comfort. Really, it is a pretty cool "ride" and will do until we can build a suitable barn for the guys. It is painted with spray paint and is quite strange looking. I think I will have David Lee give it a new look with some more spray paint. They also have a large shade in their corral and we parked the van underneath that for extra weather protection. I will post a picture soon. You have got to see this!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Creepy Critters

Well, we found some creepy critters in the poo. Ivermectin to the rescue :-) All of the animals were dewormed, including the dogs and cats. This morning I am making a special "Kool-Aid" for the girls. It is actually a concentrated source of live natrually occurring microorganisms and vitamins. This helps to get the good bugs back into their rumens after bombing the bad guys. They really like it! It really does look like orange Kool-Aid. Actually, it looks exactly like Tang. Anyone old enough to remember Tang?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Birthing Trims

Today we gave the close-up girls their bikini trims! This makes impending delivery much easier to detect. It also keeps things more hygenic after delivery. They were all good girls. They ate their grain and hardly noticed the clippers buzzing away. Now, they are completely ready for kidding. Just need a few more days until the first due date.