Meet Bronco Billy

Most people here in the desert start breeding their goats in October. They dry the pregnant ladies up in January, and kids are born in March. I think that practice originated in colder climates. The kids are born when the weather is starting to warm up. There is plenty of grass for everyone to eat, plus the kids are not as cold. Then when the herdsmen start milking the mommas in April, they are not as cold either .

But I have never raised animals in country like that, so I have not adopted that way of thinking. In the desert; late February through the end of March is spring. It becomes  summer sometime in April.

My thinking is simple. I want the freedom to sleep in during the holidays. When I am working, I would rather not be out there doing my milking chores at 3:30 in the morning. The coldest months of the year in the desert are December and January. It would be nice to sleep til 4:30 am on those days.

So I am breeding my does in August, or September. They will be dry in December and January. The kids will be born in late February just in time for Spring time in the desert.

When I asked buck owners if I could pay them a stud fee now, they looked at me like I was nuts. “Don’t you know when you are supposed to breed?” they said. “Nobody does that?” they said.

So, I decided to get my own goat. (ha!)

I looked around and here is what I found. It costs about $100.00 to leave a doe at a farm for a month for breeding. During that month, I do not get to enjoy the rich goat milk. Sometimes the farmer on the stud farm is not good about milking the doe out for you every day, so when she comes home, she is close to empty. So now there is not much milk for the whole 5 months of pregnancy. I have 2 does that give me a total of .75 gallons of milk per day. Goat milk goes for around $10.00 per gallon around here.

It would cost me $200 to breed my two does. I actually have another doeling who will be old enough later to be bred. Now that is $300.00 per year to keep my 3 girls in milk. Then there are 5 months instead of only two months that we are actually out of milk. The milk loss is .75 gallon per day X 30 days per month X 3 extra months ( if they come home dry),  multiply that total by $10 per gallon and you get $665.00 per year for two does. I am not saying that I sell my milk, but that is the estimated loss per year. This equation is for Steve’s benefit. He is a business man after all and I have found that I need to do a cost analysis before I present anything to him.

When I started looking into bucks; several issues came up. I wanted a blue eyed, dark haired boy. I just love the way that looks. I found several lighter colored bucks, but nothing that really caught my eye.

Steve was really concerned too. “Bucks are mean”, he said. “Bucks are stinky”, he said. Both of us have always heard that the presence of a buck on the farm causes the girl’s milk to be full of hormones-giving it a “goaty” taste.

Well, after finally convincing him that it would be much cheaper and more convenient in the long run-I finally pulled the trigger. No- I did not shoot anything.

I bought a blue eyed, dark haired boy with an impressive pedigree. Though my current does are not registered, I can possibly earn or barter his stud fee with friends who do not want to keep a buck.

Bucks are generally not mean, but tend to be very friendly. Bronco Billy was a bottle baby; so he is very, very friendly. It is true that they stink-especially when they are dating. They have their own brand of musk, and they like to pee on their face to attract the females.

But I will get back to you on the milk thing. I have been told that if the doe is in heat and there is a buck nearby, the hormones go wild. But that is not very often. If it proves to be true, I will just keep Bronco with the pregnant does until I can keep a wether for him to be companions with. A wether is a male goat that is missing his testicles. Like a gelding horse. They are even sweeter than a buck, they do not stink and they make great companion animals. Sorry, special check keeps trying to auto correct it to weather.

I will give Bronco some time with Bambi first. She is the matron on the farm, and is most eager to teach this young man about how to romance a real woman.

Once he gets a chance to perfect his “moves” I will put him in with Elsa, she is bigger because she is a small Nubian. I bred her to a Nigerian last year, but it took some creativity on his part to make things work.

I will keep you informed about the dating games on the farm.

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Keeping all the plates spinning.

Balance.

It is one of my favorite life goals. Like a juggling act, I have gotten pretty good at keeping all the plates spinning.

While attending nursing school; we fixed up and sold two houses, we bought a fixer upper farm, and started fixing it. Then best of all-I got to welcome two new grandsons into the world. I have to laugh at my Block 1 instructor who said “A nursing student has no time for a life.”

Now that I have graduated, I have been sending out lots of applications. It has been really a half hearted effort because I am enjoying just being Farmer Gramma Donna.

The balancing act of my life the last 3 weeks; since passing the boards has actually included bubble baths and cooking meals that take hours to make. I love doing that!

I get up and milk the goats, feed the chickens, and get on the elliptical. I get to clean my house while singing as loud as I want. My dust wand is my microphone, the dust bunnies are my audience until I banish them to the dust bin. I twist and shout while polishing my floors and jitterbug with the broom almost everyday.

But a strange thing happened to me the other day while I was out talking to the hummingbirds. The phone rang and it was someone wanting to interview me for a job. I agreed, the job sounded fantastic. I even tried to talk her out of interviewing me. I told her that I was a new grad. I even told her that I could not work nights! That would send her packing! I said that I would be a danger to myself and others if I did not get enough sleep. She laughed and said that it was refreshing to hear such honesty. We made an appointment, and I have to say the rest of the day I felt just awful. Doom! Despair and agony on me! I love my life. I still have some savings, I thought. I do not want to go back to work, I thought.

Yesterday I walked in to the most beautiful skilled rehab center that I have ever seen. I was greeted by everyone so sweetly. They all looked right at me and smiled. The interview was actually fun! Any nervous feelings that I had vanished during the interview. It just felt right somehow. When the lady walked me to my car, shook my hand and said “It was truly a pleasure to have met you” I just knew.

You see- I have been asking God to close any door so tight that I could not claw my way in-if he did not want me there. But I also asked Him to make it so clear that I would know beyond even a shadow of doubt-if He wanted me to walk through.

Yesterday afternoon, I kept re-playing my experience over and over. I even woke up in the middle of the night (I never do that!) and thought about what it would be like to play, ahem work, with these people.

I was out trimming goat hooves today when I got the call. I told her that I thought that I was not supposed to get the call for another week. She said that was true, but that everyone who met me could not help smiling at me. They just knew somehow that I was the right one to add to their happy family.

So, I will have to get used to keeping some different plates spinning. But I have the Master of all Balancing acts on my side.

Don’t ever doubt God’s amazing goodness.

 

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Celebrating with Friends

You are my reason for celebrating.

You are my reason for celebrating.

Our family loves to celebrate. I think that I started that when the kids were little. We had a party for everything, even the dogs birthday. Birthdays last a week in our home. We start about one week ahead, and the grand finale is on the actual day.

Most of my friends know this about me, so when I recently passed my RN state boards, I was “forced” to get out the calendar. I filled it in with family celebrations, dinners out with couple friends, one girl friend treated me to cheese cake. Another friend and I celebrated each other; over lunch at a local wine bar.

I wanted to share that last experience with you because it was so different.

This place started out as a pizza and sub shop with wine. Now they have a five star chef and a dessert chef. Steve and I go there quite often with friends so they know us there now.

My friend Ms N and I had both just passed our boards. We both love wine and decided to go for a late lunch. I got there  early. I was the only customer in this posh, dimly lit restaurant. I was greeted by a waitress that recognized me. I told her my friend’s name and when Ms N arrived she was also greeted by name. Wow! These people really know how to make you feel good.

We looked over the menus, but I had a little secret to share with Ms N. This chef is very creative and loves to impress. So I always ask for “The Chef’s Whim” . I never know what I am going to get, but it is always amazing. So, even though she was a little nervous, she did too.

What followed was incredible. This chef was busy prepping for the dinner menu, but took the time to whip up a smoked salmon sandwich on black (squid ink) bread. The sauce was avocado-y and amazing. My friend had two lamb chops that were perfectly charred yet pink and tender on the inside. Her side was a mushroom risotto. We shared our meals and tastes of wine. I need to say that my “Pinot Project” wine made magic in my mouth after a bite of charred lamb. That reminds me that I need to look it up and order some.

We decided on dessert-because we could. The dessert chef made up a wonderful bread pudding (sans raisins) that was hollowed out and filled with warm chocolate and caramel. He lit the edges on fire, and the crispy cooked sugar made it seem like it was deep fried. On the side he put a scoop of salted caramel ice cream that he had just made for that night.

Throughout the meal, my friend and I made noises and moans after tastes and sips. We talked about (though not loud enough to annoy anyone) how wonderful everything was. We realized that the two chefs were paying attention, because when my favorite night time waiter came out to greet us, he told us so.

My  point; I really do not know what my point in telling this story is. Is it to remind you that once in a great while two women can have an amazing- fine dining lunch experience for less than $25.00 each?

Is it to remind you that when someone goes to the trouble of feeding you something special-show your appreciation in a way that will bless them. They will remember you next time, and be happy to show off again.

Nope here it is, celebrate those that you love. Laugh with them, love them, make them feel like they are indeed worth celebrating. Yes, even the dog.

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This time of year I “carry”

I know what you are thinking. You never know. I do live in the “wild wild west” down near the border where drug and human trafficking is high. So do I pack protection in this oversized purse that carry? I will never tell.

But that is not what I am referring to at the moment.

I have lots of friends who have gardens, orchards, flocks and herds. I went to visit a friend today who said “Donna I have so much “Abundance” that I am trying to share it all so that it does not go to waste. “Would you like some apples?”. I said “Yes please and went to get a 5 gallon bucket out of the back of my car.

You see, I have learned that when people come to my house, I want to share with them and send them home with bottles, bowls, buckets and bags of things from my Abundance. It sometimes takes a while to get the container back.

When I go visiting and receive something luscious, I have to find time to return the container. So I go prepared to limit that step in our busy lives. I have an ice chest in the back of my care for shopping anyway. I have different sized containers in that chest just in case a magical moment of sharing happens. I also keep a 5 gallon bucket handy for things like apples, peaches, plums, figs…etc.

Now about the other thing. I am a very nice, sweet, loving person. But I know how to protect myself from someone who is not.

  

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My New Career Path

I am still playing nurse

I am still playing nurse

When I was little; I wanted to be a veterinarian. I would actually rip the stitches out of my stuffed animals just so that I could give them a “shot” so that I could stitch them up again.

I got straight A’s all through grade school. But then I discovered drill team, softball and boys. My grades started sinking fast and I am surprised that I made it through high school. UC Davis was not interested in me: so I did what any 18 year old girl did back then. I got married and had kids.

Later I started dreaming about becoming a nurse. As a single mom, working one and sometimes 2 jobs, there was no way. So I kept plugging along, working Admin jobs in hospitals and physician offices. I worked front desk, back office and billing, I even worked in Case Management in a hospital for a time.

Finally with my kids grown and money in the bank, I started taking my pre-req classes. One class at a time. After all, I had a job, a home based business and a farm to build. Once my pre-reqs were done, there was the 2 1/2 year waiting list. Then came the 2 year program. A two year nursing degree plus pre-reqs should take about 3 years of full time school. But the way that I did it, it took nearly 10 years!

During that time, I have driven my friends crazy with my dreams of becoming a nurse and what area of the field I would want to work in. My friends drove me crazy with questions about their own health, their urinary tract infections, and bowel movements. They also wanted to know whether or not I believed in vaccines, and why I thought our hospitals are going broke.

My first block nursing instructor told us that in order to really succeed in the program; we had to put our lives on hold for two years. But while I was plugging along, life kept happening. During my two years in the program; my mom had a heart attack, Steve and I fixed up and sold two houses, we bought a house on an almost barren piece of land to build a farm on, and I had two grandchildren born.

It has been a rugged two years full of study, worry and test anxiety. But it is over. I just passed my boards yesterday. I am a registered nurse. I still do not know what type of nursing job I will end up with, but I can put my books away now.

My gardens need a thorough going over, the goats, chickens, ducks, sheep and the pig are all good though.

Steve has not left me, my mom is much better, the kids are happy and healthy, and the grandbabies are adorable. Friends have come and gone, but I have found out who the real ones were.

This is just the beginning-and it will be the best ever…again.

 

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A Dairy Goat Lease (Part 2)

These goats went back home today

These goats went back home today

Well, we have had two leased goats for over a month now. I just thought that you would like to know how it went.

The  one goat was a first freshener who gave me almost a gallon of milk  everyday. The second was a doeling. My hope was that she would grow up on the property and become accustomed to our ways.

The results. Unfortunately these two goats cried most of the day. They are Nubians; so their cries were very loud and mournful. My husband complained, several of my neighbors complained, and though I was in denial for a while-I too found myself complaining. I spoke with the owner of the goats today and she was very gracious about taking them back home to her lovely farm; their original home.  I am sure that they are much happier.

I see many advertisements for people who are in search of an adult doe in milk. I would not recommend it. She may seem just fine when you go to see her, but when you take her away from her home and friends, she is likely to mourn the loss of her friends. I have heard it said that some goats will cry for months after leaving their friends.

I would recommend however, buying two kids from the same farm. They will comfort each other and eventually grow accustomed to your farm. Then, after they have kids of their own, they will be lovely milkers.

I am grateful to my friend for giving me the opportunity to see if I could indeed make this work out. I had considered leasing goats out myself someday. I now believe that it is not a good idea.

I have told Steve that when a project is no longer fun, then I will stop doing it.

Well, tonight when I went outside, I was greeted by my quiet Elsa and Bambi. I actually found myself singing while I did my chores for the first time in a few weeks.

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Feeding those that I love

Who knows were they came from.

Who knows were they came from.

I admit it. I love to feed my friends and family.

I have been a recipe hoarder since I was 12. I would clip and paste and write recipes out on 5X6 cards and keep them on the top of my closet. Why? Here is why.

Let me use a friend of mine to illustrate. Let’s call her Mrs. V. She told me that her mother used to make her favorite meal for her birthday.  It was a pot roast with potatoes and gravy and  chocolate cake for dessert.

So for her birthday I used my very favorite recipes of all of the above. I anticipated Mrs. V’s pleasure and truly looked forward to presenting her with her birthday meal.

She did not disappoint me. When she and Mr V sat down at the table, her eyes lit up like a child at Christmas. She ooooo’d and awww’d. But what really got me was that with each bite she took, her eyes rolled back in her head and she moaned with delight.

Needless to say– I loved it. I mentioned that I felt like I needed a cigarette after watching her ecstasy over her birthday meal. I love to feed that  dear lady. She knows just how to show her appreciation.

That is one of the things that I love to do. I love to look through recipes and  spend the day making magical dishes that illicit that kind of response from those that I love.

I have another friend with a birthday coming up. Her favorite food combo is lemon and raspberries. Quite refreshing for this time of year. I have combined and changed some recipes and came up with a special something in her honor.

I will make it to serve on her birthday and report back. At that time, I will share the recipe with you.

Please remember, I do not know where my recipes originally came from. So if I post it and it looks familiar to you, please do not hate me. Just make it and moan along with us.

 

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