Friday, October 29, 2010

Sue Weaver: Staying Home

Today a friend is flying home from a combination business and pleasure trip to Taos, New Mexico. I read her e-mail and sigh. It would be nice to be able to travel again. In the nearly 9 years we’ve spent in Arkansas, I’ve been stuck at home. No farm sitter, no travel. Simple.

Finding a reliable farm sitter is difficult at best. But one who will hand-milk a goat twice a day at just the right times? Or feed the right amounts of the correct feed so no one gets sick? Horses, cattle, sheep, goats, llamas, and a pig make it hard to find someone to pinch-hit, so “travel” takes place in the hours between morning and evening feedings. Since the towns within driving range lack amenities, it’s been years since I set foot in a large bookstore or dined at a vegetarian restaurant. Sometimes that’s hard.

But being a homebody has perks, too. I’m here if an animal gets sick, gets out (if there’s a problem in the fence line, horses and goats find it), or even gets its head stuck someplace it shouldn’t be (it happens more often than you’d probably think), I’m here with my trusty vet supplies or my toolbox, ready to address whatever needs fixing.

Times like this — autumn in the Ozarks, with our view of the color-splashed woods in the hollow and morning mist on the distant hills — it is nice to be here, though in a few days I won’t even be able to drive to town; I’ll be on standby midwifery duty again.

Jadzia — in a motherly way

Background: I went out to milk my Bon Bon one morning at the height of last June’s blistering heat wave and found Martok, my Nubian buck, happily cohabitating with the girls. How he scaled the 5-foot fence between their quarters remains a mystery, but there’s a hot wire strung there to prevent him from doing it again. Female dairy goats usually only breed in the cool of autumn and early winter, so I assumed no damage was done. Still, I marked my calendar, just in case. It’s a good thing I did.

Martok — not in the least repentant

I bought Kerla, my young red spotted buckling, specifically to breed Jadzia, Martok’s year-and-a-half-old daughter. But no, she’s expecting a delivery sired by dear old Dad, on or about November 5. So I’ve dusted off my birthing kit and am getting ready for the first-ever fall kidding on our farm. Jadzia is portly but not immense, so I think she’ll have a single kid. Boy or girl, baby’s name will be Biscuit. Stay tuned — in my next blog entry I’ll show you which s/he is!

Sue Weaver sold her first freelance article in 1969. Since then her work has appeared in major horse periodicals, including The Western Horseman, Horse Illustrated, Chronicle of the Horse, Flying Changes, Horseman’s Market, Arabian Horse Times, The Appaloosa News, The Quarter Horse Journal, Horse’N Around, and The Brayer. She has written, among other books, Storey’s Guide to Raising Miniature Livestock, The Donkey Companion, and Get Your Goat! to be published in 2010. Sue is based in the southern Ozark Mountains in Arkansas.

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