Things are going really well here! We are beginning to gear up for spring and another great year at Apothecary Farm! Kidding season has arrived, and we are up to our eyeballs in goats! Sweet Pea (one of our angora goats) and her two babies have been moved back into the pasture now that the kids are old enough. They are adorable to watch as they frolic and jump all over the place! Their horns are finally beginning to come in, so Sprout looks more like "Puck!" And I have to laugh because Quanta's horns are black just like her. :)
Zilla (one of our Nigerian Dwarf does) is next in line to kid. She is due any time between now and mid-March. She is actually slightly dilated tonight, and Ryan and I are wondering if we may have newborn kids by tomorrow night...? Princess, the other angora goat, is due March 5th. I am hoping that Zilla kids soon, otherwise Ryan will be building another kidding box in a hurry! This is Zilla's (and Princess's, for that matter) first kidding, so we are really nervous. First kiddings can be the most difficult on everyone – especially the mom, who has no idea what in the world is going on. I feel really uncomfortable leaving every day for work, but I don't think my job will give me a month off to goat sit. *sigh* Ah well. We are keeping our fingers crossed and hoping for the best. Some days it looks as though Zilla will POP, and others I would swear she won't kid for another month - so who knows! I am praying she kids tomorrow!
We are getting ready to rototill and begin planting our garden next month. We have an enormous heirloom garden planned, and I am very excited! We are also expanding our current orchard to include some more heirloom apple and pear trees. As far as landscaping the area around the house, we have several native plant gardens in the works, and my connections at work are coming in very handy. We will probably begin landscaping in April.
Today we visited friend and fellow goat breeder, Gianaclis, from Pholia Farm. We watched as she and her daughter disbudded and tattooed several new kids. It was pretty traumatic, but we needed to be there so that we won't have any trouble when it comes time to do it for Zilla's babies. We are also going to be purchasing another doeling and possibly a buck from Gianaclis. This afternoon, we attended Troon's Inner Circle wine party. It was nice to wash away the trauma of the morning with some good booze!! Speaking of which, we went to the Troon's Applegate Zinfandel wine release yesterday. It was fun to get away and hang out with Team Troon (many of whom we consider friends). We ended up buying a couple of cases of wine to help stock up our ever-growing wine cellar. We also got to talk with the owner and hear about his plans for eco-expansion and his possible venture into large-scale event hosting.
Our milking stand arrived last week, and we have already trained Zilla to hop up onto it in preparation for milking/grain time!
Next Saturday, Don the Farrier is coming over to trim donkey hooves. Next Sunday, we are taking the only intact male at the Farm, Sprout, over to Carol Ronan (the woman we bought Sweet Pea and Princess from), where he will have his - ummm...parts... - removed. Poor Sprout! It's not going to be a good day for him!!!
Ryan and I are VERY excited for fresh goats milk (when Zilla kids). Ryan can't wait to make cheese and butter! The chickens are getting ready to start laying. One of them keeps making a nest in the llama barn - much to the llamas' immense displeasure. Farm fresh eggs are one of the great joys in life! We already have so many people wanting to buy eggs from us that I am wondering if the chickens will be able to keep up with demand! I guess the good news is that we have 25 more on the way in April, as well as geese and turkeys. Yup, that's right: we are venturing even further into the poultry business! We will be raising geese and turkeys for slaughter this year, as well as trading geese for weeding (and fresh chickens eggs!) to Longsword Vineyard in exchange for wine. Geese are apparently excellent for weeding vineyards, and as Longsword is organic, they were game to try it out!
Still haven't been able to bring my two darling llama babies home yet (Curious George and Judge). The weather was too bad to bring them back when we went up to Portland for Ryan's operation. Unfortunately, our schedule is much too hectic right now to plan another trip. Ah well...I will miss my llamas, but I guess I will get them when I get them.
Speaking of Ryan's surgery: he is all healed up and back and bouncing around like his normal self. I am so happy! I was worried sick about him while he was recovering.
We still have no idea on whether or not my darling donkey, Frieda, is pregnant. She is definitely the 'Mystery Donkey.' I love her to pieces, however, and as much as I want a 'baby Frieda,' it wouldn't even matter to me if she never had a single foal. I would still love her as completely and whole-heartedly as I do now. She is definitely another one of my animal soulmates!!
Speaking of donkeys, we had some bad news last week: turns out that the breeder we were purchasing Midway (our star jack) from has discovered new-found reservations about selling him. She basically wants to buy him back and not sell him to us for a couple of years. Ryan and I were pretty upset by the entire ordeal, but in order to keep up good relations we felt we had no choice - that, and we are so busy, that getting Midway in two years rather than right now might actually be better. Still, the whole thing was a nightmare, and Ryan was pretty broken up over it. I am torn between broken-hearted and pissed off. I don't know what to do, and I feel like we had no choice in the deal. *sigh* Alas, that is how it goes sometimes. We will still (hopefully!) be able to buy him in a few years. In the meantime, Cappuchino and Chicklet are scheduled to be bred this March. I am excited for their babies!!!
As far as work: Ryan and I are still working full time during the week, and spending weekends getting our property ready for the bed and breakfast/tourist season. Can you tell we are BUSY???!!! I am enjoying my job, though things are still pretty slow. Ryan HATES collections, but is trying to hold out for two years or so (at which point we are hoping he can quit and work on the B&B/Ranch full time). Who knows what Fate has in store for us in the future, but our plan is to open our Bed and Breakfast full time in two years or less. Speaking of which, we definitely HAVE to open up (even if just on weekends!) this year, as the only other competition in Applegate Valley has closed its doors!! Thus, we have the monopoly on the region at this point!! How AWESOME is that??? Thus my pushing to open up our business in May, even if things aren't 100% finished, just to get our NAMES out there!
Well, I think that about does it. My hands are tired of typing. I hope that everyone is doing well! We miss you all! Please, if you are ever in the area, feel free to visit and play with the animals. I promise I won't make you do farm chores!! And keep us in mind the next time you are in the market for fiber, soap, fresh goat cheese, and farm fresh eggs!!
Love to all,