Goats

Fall 2015 at The Manor

 Maude, one of our remaining chickens who *mostly* has the good sense to stay away from the dogs.

Maude, one of our remaining chickens who *mostly* has the good sense to stay away from the dogs.

When I last left you, dear reader, the basement was flooded, Bill was out of town, and I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I'm happy to report that Bill is back and the basement is dry. The nervous breakdown seems to have stepped back a pace, but is ready to launch at the slightest provocation.

What's going on with the basement?

I'm so glad you asked. After pumping 800 gallons of water outside, the basement continued to flood for the rest of the weekend. A specialist came out to examine the problem and told us that because our house has a double-brick foundation, we can't do exterior waterproofing and instead need to consider digging up the concrete to put in gutters and pipes along the interior walls of the basement, which will then divert water into a (new) sump pump. Cha-ching.

Oh, and our insurance doesn't cover water damage from flooding, so we had to pay for the emergency help out of pocket. We don't have flood insurance. Remind me again how my husband's job is convincing communities to require flood insurance for just such occasions...

What's going on with the chickens?

Well, we're now down to 10 chickens. You'll recall that Doris (our firstborn!) turned out to be a rooster and was re-homed over the summer. A couple of weeks ago, the chickens started venturing over the fence from their safe and secure stable area into our backyard. Where our dogs roam. With a taste for chicken.

Sadly, one of them wasn't quick enough to make it back over the fence, and was killed by the dogs. In a matter of second, the air was full of feathers (seriously, it was like a feather pillow exploded) and the chicken was dead on the ground with a broken neck. No spurting blood (thank goodness) but it was pretty disturbing to have to pick it up off the ground and get it disposed of in the three minutes before the kids arrived home from school. 

At least the chickens have mostly decided to stay on their side of the fence. We're planning to clip their flight feathers this weekend so help minimize their explorations. Stay tuned for that horror story soon.

 There doesn't seem to be much mourning for dead "Brown Chicken #6". It's business as usual in The Manor stables.

There doesn't seem to be much mourning for dead "Brown Chicken #6". It's business as usual in The Manor stables.

Fighting "The Man"

The new grass seed is coming in nicely, and the stable is looking less desperate. This comes at a good time, since it turns out that our city is doing a comprehensive review of the zoning ordinances and is proposing that a property lot under 5 acres be limited to four chickens and no animals over 50 lbs. That means that our very spacious "almost 2 acre" property would be over the limit on chickens and would not be allowed to have goats.

Heresy! Here is a photo of approximately 1/8 of our property. Does this photo look overcrowded with livestock? I think not.

 This is a tiny portion of our backyard -- does it look like we have too many chickens? Absolutely not.

This is a tiny portion of our backyard -- does it look like we have too many chickens? Absolutely not.

And here is a photo of another angle of our backyard -- this is separate from the stable area where the chickens roam, and there is another 2/3 of the backyard not pictured. Does it look like the goats are being mistreated with lack of space? Or that our neighbors mind living next to these pets?

 I think you can probably tell from their little pot bellies that these goats have plenty of land upon which to gorge themselves.  

I think you can probably tell from their little pot bellies that these goats have plenty of land upon which to gorge themselves.  

All of this is to say that Bill and I are moving into high gear. We're in the process of figuring out the best way to advocate for more reasonable zoning rules regarding chickens and livestock. Bill's in communication with the local extension agent and I'm going to be reaching out to members of the City Council and the planning department. Wish us luck!

Recent Happenings at The Manor

I'm writing to you from Thailand, where the weather is hot and muggy, but who cares when you have a gorgeous private pool at your villa to relax in?

Remind me to tell you about that time I decided to go skinny dipping, but locked myself out of the hotel room and had to wander around the resort wearing only my sunglasses and a smile, looking for a staff person to help me get back inside. Actually, please don't remind me.

But I digress. I realize that I haven't updated the blog in a while, and since I have a spare afternoon before my final meeting tomorrow, here is a quick update on late-summer happenings at The Manor.

The goats are getting too big for their britches.

While they will follow Bill sedately into the barn at night, I end up wrestling them towards the barn door and then re-enacting what I can only imagine is a scene straight out of the Three Stooges as one escapes while I shove the other inside, repeat ad nauseum. It is slapstick comedy at its finest. I loathe slapstick comedy.

The chickens are happy (except when the goats are playing in their coop).

We're now reliably getting about 5 eggs a day (or about 3 dozen eggs a week). You might think that's a lot, but when I tell you that the kids can easily gobble down 5 eggs at sitting EACH, you understand why I am hoping the flock increases their production even more. (And I've learned a valuable lesson about choosing chicken breeds -- while I love our Asian Blue chickens, their layer/meat combo status means that they are big (and therefore eat more feed) but don't lay as frequently. When they do, however, they are GIGANTIC.

We removed the sacred flagpole.

I don't even want to mention this one, lest we incur the wrath of the local garden club (which put up the flagpole in honor of one of their members). But from the moment we moved in, I wanted it gone. First of all, it lacked the proper lighting due the American flag when flown at night, and there was no way I was going to take that baby down each sunset and raise it back up each dawn. I love America, but I got no time for that.

I also didn't want to install extra lighting -- it's hard enough for me to sleep at night with the streetlights, let alone with an upward-directed spotlight right outside my bedroom door. (Somehow I can easily sleep in the middle of the day with the sun directly on my face, but at night I like total darkness...)

TL;DR: we relocated the flagpole to a fellow citizen, with only a minor incident when he joked that he was going to fly the Confederate flag and I almost had to run him over with my car.

We have a new addition to the family.

After test driving eleven foster kittens in July (including a round of fleas!) we kept the best one. Daisy 2 (named after my childhood cat Daisy) has quickly become a favorite with everyone. At just over two pounds, she rules the roost.

Before I go, a few additional photos of the resort at Koh Samui... I'm already nostalgic...

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Tiffany blue for the win!

After a heated Facebook debate, we decided on a color for the chicken coop. 

 Tiffany blue for the win! 

Tiffany blue for the win! 

I'm hoping that Bill will get it painted by Monday, with the barn and shed painted next. 

On our way to buy paint last night, we also picked up some light reading. 

 Ah, Lowes.

Ah, Lowes.

The main reason we haven't made more progress on the chicken coop is because late last night we decided that adding to the family wasn't such a bad idea. And we weren't even drinking! 

 

 Introducing Lilith and Jezebel. 

Introducing Lilith and Jezebel. 

These baby Nigerian dwarf goats are just 5 weeks old and still need to be bottle fed three times a day. This will be the first time in my life that I've had baby bottles in my house. Weird!