Well, it is spring! Why? Because I had my first bowl of cereal on my swing with Chick Chick and FOUR cats! Yep, it was relaxing to fight off a chicken and starving kitties who swiped at the hen, who in turn pecked back at furry faces. The gang then pushed each other away from me along with a few loud meeeeoooowwww’s and a SQUAWK! I ate as fast as I could throwing some Special K flakes in the middle of the squabble so they would leave me alone, which by the way, didn’t work. They turned into sharks circling the milky morsels then pouncing upon it in a pile of fur and feathers! After the attack, they all looked up at me with squinted eyes demanding in their silence for more….not a few flakes, but the whole bowl! I retreated as fast as I could back to the house with my breakfast held high above my head as the herd of cats ran after me. One kitty ran in front trying to get me to stop as the other 3 sprinted to the back door where they stood like soldiers guarding the entrance, nobody in, nobody out! Chick Chick waited by the swing hoping I would come back and reward her for being good. The cats won. I gave up my cereal and placed it on the porch. It was completely gone within 4.5 seconds. I grudgingly went back to my swing and sat with Chick Chick who was not interested in me anymore now that the food was gone. She jumped down and strutted away looking for early bugs. The kitties relished in their victory and cuddled in the warm sun, paws and tails wrapped around each other, glancing at me with a satisfied look of ‘yep, we rule, you drool’.
I had to go into town for a spell and on the way home, I noticed that not one snow flake was falling in Laporte. BUT….the closer I got to my house off of Waverly Rd, the snow started to lightly fall. By the time I got home, there was an angry snow storm in full swing. I swear there is an evil plan to dump snow over our farm just to make me miserable along with cranky animals!! And just for your info (as if you all didn’t know this already) guess who is standing at the gate in all this snow staring at the house??!! Yep, the mountain goat who was fed before I went into town 3 hours ago! Sheesh, you would think her feet would be frozen!
Such fun! Yesterday I had the adventure of going to the barn by boat! Today with 40 mile an hour sustained winds that are gusting up 50+, I will be strapping an old yellow bed sheet (with delicate blue pansies) to my body, do my baseball catchers crouch (in pink) and let the wind push me over the ice, sail off the melting snow mountain and glide into the barn! Hopefully I won’t land on Dunkay or the goats! The return trip to the house will be tricky since I will be going into the wind. I wonder if the carrot hanging in front of a donkey really works! I could hang one over Dunkays head, grab his tail, point him towards the house and let him pull me! So how do you get him back to barn you ask? Not sure, still working on that one. Where is SUPER FARMER!!!????
Oh goodie! Today it is 50 degrees with a 24 hour down pour rain on top of 40″ snow drifts melting onto frozen ground! That means instead of struggling to get to the barn with a shovel, I now have to go by canoe! All that water will be seeping into the barn turning it into a puddle of poopy straw as my miserable cold, wet animals plead with me to make it dry and cozy again! They will more and likely demand extra treats because mommy can’t fix the problem without our SUPER FARMER daddy! The only happy animals on the farm today will be the quackers, who for once will not be squawking at me in protest about the other animals ‘touching’ them! They will be outside paddling in all the deep ponds on the property that weren’t there yesterday. They will be happy as a Lark, even though they are ducks…just how happy are Larks anyway???
My farrier, Mike is brave guy! He comes out in the bitter cold to spend time with my horses and Dunkay who run as soon as they see his truck pull up. Mike means trimmed hooves, something all farm animals dread, especially the goats. They know Mike, his truck and his tools. Sierra and Dillon hide behind the barn until all is clear of any signs of ‘The Hoof Man‘..
While Mike was pulling and tugging on Sparky’s back leg he told me a funny story about Miss Piggy, a 300 pound pot belly pig that was raised inside an English woman’s home from the time she was 5 lb piglet to an oversized and spoiled Sow.
Mikes story (with my help)….
Years ago, Mike was called to a small farm just south of Addie Acres to trim the feet of a pot belly pig named Miss Piggy. Mrs. Brackston came from England and spoke in a heavy English accent. Her husband of 40+ years was a drunk so she adopted a tiny pink piglet for companionship, naming her Miss Piggy . Mrs. Brackston raised her little girl inside the house giving her the princess treatment and full run of their humble home nestled in the middle of dense woods . Miss Piggy was potty trained like a dog and would oink at the back door to be let out. Well the farmer who trimmed Miss Piggy’s hooves retired and gave her Mikes phone number. Later that week, Mike and his father ventured out to do what they believed would be an easy foot job! Not to be! Mrs Brackston answered the door in an outdated flowered night jacket, hair in curlers, a cigarette dangling from her bright red lipstick mouth. She greeted them in her heavy accent, forcing both men to turn their heads in her direction trying to understand her words. She escorted them into a dimly lit living room where they found Miss Piggy laying on a brand new tan with blue stripes couch watching TV. As Mike and his dad approached Miss Piggy, she jumped off the couch and ran to the back of the smoke filled house, squealing all the way. All three chased the scared animal into the master bedroom, doing circles around the un-kept bed until they cornered her in the closet. Miss Piggy does not like to have her feet touched and wasn’t about to let two strange men anywhere near her! She barreled through the middle of the human blockage, pushing her frantic mother down onto the wood floor. She ran into the kitchen knocking over a table or two along the way sending magazines and ashtrays flying through the air, pooping and screaming as she went. Mrs Brackston was very upset and tried to coax the now shivering pig that was still relieving herself on the floor to come snuggle into her outstretched arms. Miss Piggy wanted nothing to do with her or anyone else and waddled back to the couch, slipping out of Mikes attempted grasp as she quickly shoved past him. The pig now has her 300lb body on the very top of the couch, still relieving herself in fear! Both men lunged at her and was able to grab onto Miss Piggy as her mother yelled out encouraging words through tears trying to calm the pig. Mike held her down as his dad hurriedly trimmed each foot without making them bleed. The frightened pig yelled so loud that they wrapped a fuzzy wool blanket around her head to help muffle the unbearable squealing! After what seemed like an hour, her feet were finally manicured. The exhausted men collapsed on the couch, staying away from the fresh brown and yellow stains. Miss Piggy ran into the spare bedroom where her bed was kept and buried herself under her teddy bear blanket. Mrs Brackston was pleased at the outcome, praising them for a job well done as she causally mopped up after her baby. She promised that next time, she will give Miss Piggy a full bottle of beer to help her sleep through the next trimming. Mike said it didn’t work. When they came back 6 months later, the drunk pig jumped off the couch weaving it’s way into the master bedroom closet relieving herself along the way. His dad refused to go back with him after that and Mike was forced to struggle with Miss Piggy alone as Mrs Brackston cried out her anguished words of encouragement to a panicking pig for the next 3 or 4 years
Goats #3 ands 4…Sierra and Dillon!
My daughter LeAnna, my niece Linda and I took Isaac who was 18 months old at the time to the Michigan City petting zoo. It was a beautiful summer day and Isaac was naturally drawn to the goats as was I. Goat fever was still coursing through my veins. I stood there admiring how cute these ‘mini’ goats were, wishing I could have one! The goats at this family friendly zoo are very fat from all the extra treats they get from sticky little hands begging mama and daddy for more quarters to feed the funny, plump goats. We fed the animals until we had invested at least $10.00 to the Zoos grain fund. As I was admiring the goats an attendant walked into their pen and started to clean up after the cutie pies. Bright idea #1 popped over my head just like in the cartoons! I heard myself ask, “so what do you guys do with all the baby goats after their born? I can see you have a few on the way”!. She laughed at me and said, “their not pregnant, just fat”. I turned red and laughed with her as LeAnna and Linda made fun of me. The young woman then asked me, “do you want a goat? We were told this week that our budget was cut and we need to get rid of some animals’. Bright idea #2 is now flashing along with #1!! I thought to myself, ‘heck yeah, a free goat!’ Wait a minute, didn’t we just try this free goat stuff…twice now?? I didn’t care, all I heard was the word FREE. She let me in the large goat area with around 20 ‘think-their-still-starving’ animals, circling us like ravenous wolves. The nice girl told me they come in pairs so I need to pick out TWO. Woo Hoo…two goats for the price of one! I attached myself to Dillon who leaned against me, giving me a hug (which he still does to this day) and Sierra kind of hung with him like they were a loving couple. She wasn’t as cuddly but she had a fun personality and if I wanted Dillon, she came along with him. I almost yelled out the words, ‘YES! I WANT THEM….I WANT THEM ALL‘! But two is all I was allowed to have! LeAnna and Linda shook their heads as Isaac excitedly clapped his hands. That’s my boy! We’ll make a farmer out of him yet! I quickly went home to tell Chad the good news, making sure I used the word ‘FREE‘ over and over! If I was in my right mind, I would have felt sorry for him. He put his head in his hands and deeply sighed knowing that it was a losing battle once I get my ‘FREE ANIMAL’ mindset in full swing. Chad and I drove over to the zoo that weekend so he could meet our new family members. We found our goats, shook hands with the zoo keeper and loaded them both in the back of my Ford Windstar van….yes you read right, a mini van. We didn’t have a trailer. Chad and I drove home in silence, me with a huge smile and Chad with a worried look. Dillon and Sierra didn’t care much for the back end of a cramped vehicle. She baaaa’d over and over and Dillon made his way to the back seat sticking his head between us. So we drove home, fast, with a loud cry in the back end and a goat head almost up the windshield watching the road with us. I’m sure we turned a few heads in cars that day and boy am I glad a cop didn’t pass us! I wonder if they give out tickets for goats not being buckled in?? We introduced the new farm members to the horses that gave them the evil eye look along with a few grunts letting them know that they have been through this goat nonsense twice before, so no funny business! The Llamas took one look at them and ran to the back pasture afraid that butting would once again be the new barn game. Dillon and Sierra quickly took to their new home, exploring every nook and cranny, running around in the large fenced in area just for them. I stayed with my new sweeties petting and hugging as Chad drug himself to the main barn gathering all the used goat toys, buckets and sweet grain. Dillon and Sierra fit in with us and the other animals perfectly. They kept to themselves, never butted and was not interested in escaping as long as they had plenty of food. They did however, develop the habit of staring at the house for hours until we came out to feed them, especially the girl. It would be raining in sideway sheets and Sierra would be out at the gate watching for signs of humans. Thunder and lighting strikes a few feet away? She’s staring! Snow storm? She’s staring! Tornado sirens blasting ‘danger’ with wind gust up to 50 miles an hour? She’s staring! 100 degree weather? She’s staring! Ate 2 minutes ago? She’s staring! We still have them! Sierra stares and Dillon gives us a hug every time we go out to the barn. I believe that with free goats, the old saying, ‘3rd time’s a charm’ is true!
Just when I thought I’ve seen it all, my animals surprise me with something else to shake my head at. I was in my office working when I looked out the window to see what the naughty’s were up to. Seemed normal, not much going on in below 0 weather. I had left the barn door open just enough to let them go outside in case they needed a break from each other. I saw two bunnies run out as fast as they could, following close behind was our goat Sierra. She chased those bunnies with her head bent low an inch or three behind a bunny butt all the way to the trees! She then walked back to the barn satisfied that her personal pile of hay was safe from un-wanted dinner guest!
On a warm summer weekend we had a garage sale. We would advertise all over town that Addie Acres was having another sale, encouraging folks that they are welcome to bring their youngsters to the farm to see the llamas and pet the fat little goat who likes to hug. It seems like every time we opened the doors, we would get people showing up to offer us FREE animals. This time it was free… chickens. This young couple were down on their luck, moving in with her parents but mom didn’t want noisy chickens to reside in her backyard. They were hoping that we would adopt their pets. They sweetened the deal by not only giving us these chicks, they were also throwing in a nice big cage, food dishes and corn grain! All that FREE stuff! I said, yes before Chad could blink an eye! These chickens were still young, mostly fluff and you couldn’t tell what they were yet. Unfortunately 5 out of the 8 chicks were Bantam’s. They are small chickens with big attitudes… little man syndrome. Of course 4 of those little terrors turned out to be roosters. They hung out together, attacked together and bossed every animal in the barn even at the risk of being stomped. We nicked named them the 4 Horsemen. Bantams are very pretty, they have long tail feathers’ with many different colors. These 4 guys traveled together…the gang. They didn’t like to sleep, eat or hang with the flock. We would watch them strut around the yard, chasing bunnies or sleeping under a bush. The Horsemen also didn’t care that much for humans and after giving Lucifer the axe a few months before, we weren’t up to letting roosters chase us in our own backyard again! Especially annoying little birds that were no bigger than our Chihuahua. We let them know early on that we the people, control the food and showed them where we kept the axe. The gang kept to themselves that first year and although they were a pain by pecking at our ankles we let them stay just so we could watch their antics with the other animals. The Horseman loved the cats and were not afraid of them. The kitties on the other hand despised those irritating birds. Those ankle tall roosters would chase the cats, pecking at their behinds or stealing their kibbles. The kitties sat high up on the hay bales to keep distance between them. Once in awhile you could hear the battle between the Horsemen and a couple of cats….loud squawks and high pitched meows. They also annoyed the goats. The gang was always sneaking into Dillon and Sierra’s pen, hanging out pecking at the goat grain. Once they were in, the goats were not allowed back inside with out a fight. We would chase the pest out so the goats could go to bed. The Llamas didn’t care for the gang and left them alone. Our dogs however loved them! If a pooch got out, he went straight for one of the Bantams! Cody our golden retriever enjoyed a good chase and these roosters were perfect exercise. Those chickens would split up running in circles or ducking under a barrel. Cody was in heaven! He went from one to the other, mouth open wide, tongue hanging, a few feathers stuck in his teeth. As much as I wouldn’t have cared, I never let him grab a Horsemen. But I did allow Cody to put the fear of dog in them! If they were acting up, I opened the door and let a dog or two out to put them back in their place. After a couple of years the gang started to get mean, following in Lucifer’s footsteps. They started to attack the children who stopped by to pet the animals so they ended up in the freezer. I couldn’t bring myself to eat them. Chad cooked them up one night and served them at a family gathering. I heard they were tough and not very tasty which didn’t surprise me at all. I enjoyed them for a short period and can honestly say, I will never allow Bantam chickens to rule the farm again, unless MAYBE they’re free!
We have a small hill by the garage that faces the barn and the animals like to eat the grass up there. Well it’s been snowing allot making the pasture very icy. The horse and donkey droppings have now become hard rocks that stick up like tiny mountains hiding under the snow to trip me. Any who….Dunkay was pawing for grass under the crusty blanket on the slanted side of the hill, ignoring me since I didn’t have any grain in my hands. I yelled out to him, “Dunkay, what ya doing up there” he turned and looked at me, he then proceeded to come down so he could greet me, his favorite human. Because of the ice, he started to lose his footing, sliding towards me with his legs doing the cartoon act, you know where you all you see is a circle of legs going around and around but they aren’t moving? I’m standing there watching him slide towards me, no traction under his hooves that are pumping thinking a hundred thoughts per second like, “oh no, do I run? Do I try to stop him? Will he knock me down if I can’t move away fast enough? Is he going break a leg? Is he going to die? Am I going to die? Where’s Chad when you need him?!” I spread my legs a bit, bend down a little and put my arms out, sorta like a baseball catcher, only in pink, hoping to catch a 300 pound donkey. What am I nuts? I come to my senses within seconds and step aside and let him slide past me. After he got his footing, he looked at me with a grin on his face! I believe he actually enjoyed himself!
Well since I’ve been writing about goats, I will tell about the 2cnd goat we got…for free. Jasper! You would think that after Billy, red flags would be easy to recognize. Well they’re not! Jasper came to us approx. 3 months after Billy went to live at his new butting playground. Jasper had been raised by an elderly lady who kept him in the house for the first year of his life. He was treated like a child and he excepted nothing less from Addie Acres when he joined our family. Jasper took over Billy’s old pen. It was the perfect goat area! It had a cozy 2 room shelter with a thick straw bed, a special wood ‘goat pole’ that we put up so he could scratch his horns and take care of any itch he may have. It had a large private pasture for running, playing and to lounge around in the sun with a small dirt hole for a body rub. Jasper had a couple of good points right from the start. He was already fixed and even thou he liked to play, he wasn’t a ‘butting’ goat. He would push around colorful beach balls, muzzle our hand for a massage and he had an unusual talent… escaping from any pen no matter where it was or how strong the structure! Billy the goat would butt us to play and Jasper the goat would escape so he could trot up to the house looking for his human family. He would spend un-noticed hours searching for a tasty bush he wasn‘t allowed to eat. We reinforced the fence, replacing most of it with horse fencing, plus we pounded in a few heavy duty posts to prevent him from pushing a wall down. Goats are famous for finding a weak spot in the fence or locating a hole as small as a guinea pig that they can hook their horns into until it is big enough to squeeze through. If he could get his head through an opening, his whole body would follow without effort! Jasper would work on his pen everyday, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! There were many times when would I find him standing on the porch next to my white wicker furniture staring with dancing eyes, tail wagging! He was patiently waiting for me to come out to feed him and play. We had folks knocking day and night to inform us that our escapee was out enjoying exotic flowers. We caught him standing on his hind legs, front hooves on the window sill, looking in the family room trying to find life inside the house! Jasper was too friendly! He didn’t want to be alone and he didn’t enjoy living outside like an animal! I really liked Jasper, he was cute as a button and loved his humans! But he refused to be caged and enjoyed his freedom too much. It finally got to the point that we needed to find him a real farm with farmers who knew how to keep a Houdini inside the barn. So after a few short months we gave Jasper to a young lady who fell in love with him. She was active in 4H, and excited to show him off at the fair. We told her about his escape adventures, not holding any information back. Lucky for us, this teenage girl was raised on a large farm, experienced in taking care of goats. She was willing to take Jasper the escaping goat and teach him proper farm manners. When the day came to say goodbye, I was sad. I gave him a hug and help load him into her trailer. I watched my silly goat ride down the gravel driveway, his furry behind sticking out, tail wagging as the dusty white cloud enveloped them. I was disappointed that once again we were goat free, yet relived that I didn’t have to chase him down 5 days a week, worrying he might be struck by a car. Our ‘goat less ness’ lasted for about 8 months. Our next 2 FREE goats came from the Michigan City petting zoo. Their Care Taker promised that they wouldn’t try to escape, reassuring us that because they were hand raised at the zoo, they didn’t have that natural instinct to butt, they did however, enjoy circling around people for grain and vanilla wafers. Welcome Dillon and Sierra…the staring goats!