Sunday, July 28, 2013

Close Quarters Cooking and Goat Sorting

Here is my new kitchen!  Prior to moving in, I thought my cooking would be severely hampered by the small workspace, but with a little ingenuity and a few workarounds, things are going well. I think we got a great trailer. All of the appliances and plumbing work and the cabinets are well-made with real oak doors. Finding where to keep everything is a work in progress, but we have adjusted our habits quickly-- washing dishes immediately after use is definitely the way to go!

I brought my large crock pot with me and it is stored under the seat of one of the benches at the dinette, I use it about once a week and cook beans, soup, or carne guisada. It's a six quart cooker, so I always have some left to freeze for later.  The crock pot is really nice because it doesn't heat up the trailer like the midget oven or stove top does. I have one small counter space area and do most of my chopping and mixing there, but also use the dinette table for that. Of course,  the dinette table is also the place where we compute! So there's is a bit of shifting while doing anything. I feel very fortunate that Danny's house has electricity as I have hooked up my full-size refrigerator in his 'living room'. This allows us to have a big freezer and a place to put extra milk and Gatorade. Outside, I have my trusty gas grill, which produces all types of yummy stuff.

Does exploring their 'new' pasture

Today, we did the monthly 'goat shuffle' a couple of days early. In July, we put Billy BA in the middle pasture with some of the open 'girls.' To do that, we put the does with kids and the doelings not old enough to breed yet in the Triangle with the donkeys. In the lower pasture, we put the young bucks and wethers. Well, that didn't last long as Melonhead and Doll's boys braved the electric fence to get back to 'momma'. (Geeesh. If you are so big you have to lay on the ground to nurse, it's time to give up the milk!)

Crying for Momma
So we had a little goat rodeo today. Danny got all of the goats in the two connected round pens, then we segregated all nine of the boys from the girls. The boys got CL vaccine boosters, fly spray and a hoof trim before we all about passed out from the heat. Danny led all the boys to the Triangle with a bucket of feed, and I brought up the rear, driving the slow pokes. Dan had to carry Brownknee to the Triangle cuz he did NOT want to go! We got them all penned up and are now listening to Melon, Spot and Brownknee whine about missing mommy.

The three donkeys took over the Middle Pasture, and all the does and kids are relaxing in the lower pasture. July and August are tough on the goats and donkeys due to the forage not growing as fast. And donkeys eat a lot! This will be their first time without any goats in their pasture in several months, so I figure they can  use the break. It will also allow us to feed them separately from the goats.

If BA got his job done, we should have baby goats in December!  Great Red Spot and Flower had been with him earlier, so they may kid out in October.  In October or November (we haven't decided yet), we will set up all the eligible girls with one of the bucks.  Jupiter should be raring to go by then... he's got the beard for it!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Living in a Trailer (or a New Slant on Life)

We finally live at El Rancho full-time. A little sooner than expected.

I had planned to have the house ready for viewing in April, but the sign didn't go in the front yard til the end of May. Throughout the spring, I took advice from a realtor friend about sprucing things up and about leaving some things be. Watching home selling shows a few years ago actually helped!

And speaking of realtors, I interviewed three before signing a contract and strongly recommend it to anyone selling their house. I liked two of the three and finally chose the agent who I already knew. Of the others, one didn't seem that interested, but the other ran a close second to Trish, and ended up being a key player in the sale anyway.

A month behind schedule, we finally got the house listed on a Thursday night and they started showing on Friday. Saturday, we had an indication that a contract was coming from the first couple to see the house and they were preapproved! Their agent was the third one I interviewed-- she knew the couple had been looking for a place like ours a few months before without luck and so she gave them a call. The inspection created no surprises, we already had a survey, and we were off to the races. We closed (which is real estate talk for 'we got the money, honey') just 32 days after listing the house. That meant we had to be out of the house!

So May was very busy. Between moving and storing all of our stuff, we had to make sure there was a septic system at Danny's house, that he had a semi-finished room to live in, that Dan and I had a travel trailer to live in..... and the house was clean and the grass didn't die in the heat-- truly nerve-wracking! And buying a travel trailer is crazy-- some are junk and some are mansions, and some are cheaper to buy new rather than used! I finally bought a 29 foot Coachmen Cascade, 2003 model, from a part-time dealer in Caldwell. It boasts a queen-size bed in the front with a door, a big slide for the dinette and 'sofa', and a separate bathroom in the rear with a four-foot tub and a big closet.

We have been in the trailer for about three weeks and are settling in. After about a week, I noticed we were listing to port. Dan got some big jacks and tie-downs and leveled the beast, but now, after the rain, it is down in the stern. We'll go out in a couple of days to get her on an even keel.

The hardest thing to adapt to has been personal space. We replaced the mattress with a new one, but trailers use shorter mattresses, so we have to kind of crawl into bed from the door because the end of the bed nearly touches the wall. No way to get dressed in there or in the bathroom, so the living/dining/kitchen is also the changing area. There is no washer and dryer out here until Danny's plumbing is finished, so I have gone each week to the Harvey Washbanger's, where you can eat, drink and do laundry. I've split my grocery shopping between HEB in Brazos County and Slovacek's in Snook.

To save space, we each bought a Kindle, which has proven to be a good thing. We don't have any TV stations, so our usual entertainment is building on Danny's house, planning our barndo, and watching the goats. I must say that goat dynamics are a lot more interesting than I thought they would be. Such personalities! I'll hold those thoughts for next time.

Saturday, July 6, 2013


Over the past two years, I have become more water conscious as I have spent time at El Rancho.
Water, without which life on Earth cannot exist. Our bodies are about 60% water and water covers 71% of the Earth's surface, yet less than 3% of water on Earth is freshwater, and a lot of that is frozen. Most Americans have access to clean, fresh municipal water, so sometimes water doesn't seem so exciting, unless of course you live in a Texas town that is running out of water (Seventeen cities and towns are at critical water stages right now).

When we bought the first 19 acres of land, we were waterless-- no municipal, no well, no stock tank. In 2011, like most of Texas, we were in Stage 4 drought, thoughtfully labelled "exceptional" by the NOAA (I think they should have called it hellatious) and we could  hear trees cracking in the wind, which sucked the moisture right our of them. That was the year of horrible wildfires, including the destruction of the Lost Pines of Bastrop, Texas. This all happened before we had our livestock, and, in fact, delayed out entry into animal husbandry... what would they drink? Or eat? Definitely a brown summer.

While we built the perimeter fence, we drank pallets of water, sometimes working for ten minutes and resting for twenty. Finding someone to drill a water well or even get on a waiting list at that time was nearly impossible as everyone needed water, water, more water! When we brought our donkeys home in 2012, we first bought a used polypropylene container, which holds over 200 gallons. We trucked water from Brazos County. Then we bought more land with a well and trucked it a few hundred feet, later advancing to hundreds of feet of water hose. The friction in the water hoses slowed the flow down to a trickle, but it sure beat the heck out of toting water!

A couple of weeks ago, we rented a ride-on trenching machine and laid out water lines to all the established pastures, even going across the road and stubbing it off for the new pastures. So our water only had to travel through 25 or 50 feet of hose to a water tank. Finally, this week I splurged and bought $10 automatic water fillers for each pasture... Now we only need to ensure that the tank looks full and clean. I think of our water journey and realize how hard it was for folks in early Texas. If you didn't have a spring, you dug a well (by hand), or toted water from a river or stream that was maybe clean.

I am grateful for the good, tasty water in our well. So much better than muni water in Brazos County.  (That water has a lot of sodium in it, which makes washing soap off really difficult). The animals seem to like it, too, sucking up clean, cool mouthfuls.

Next on my water list is getting my own well drilled. Dan and I have already decided on a spot for the barndominium, so next is the well. Hopefully, we will tap into water like Danny has at his well. To increase our water security, we are considering running a line from one well to the other. Then, if one well goes down, we could tie in the other house to the other well.

On another note, Billy BA is busy in the middle pasture with the girls. We will be expecting kids in early December. This is Baby, a young doe who will be having her first kids this year. She was the first 'baby' goat we had at the place, bought as an afterthought at the Navasota auction. Although she wasn't born here, she has eartag number 00001. With her blue eyes and Billy's dark red cape, they are certain to have nice looking, stout kids!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Busy, Busy

Poor blog. Neglected for four months with nary an update. Well, it's been really busy, with some exciting things going on!  Since our last episode:

  • Danny has built most of his house with help from the folks and a fellow Marine
  • Tank,Spot and BrownKnee all got wethered.
  • Jupiter grew a beard.
  • Z2 had her baby, but it didn't make it.
  • Fea and Z1 each had twins which are huge! 
  • Dan and I got our house ready for sale, with loads of help from Danny--- couldn't have done it without him!
  • Got an oral offer on our house the first day it was listed.
  • Tried to wean Melonhead, but hes a momma's boy and suffers the electric fence to get near Khaki.
  • Dug trenches and laid water lines to the house and all of the pastures. No more toting water
  • Bought a 29 foot travel trailer to live in next to Danny's house
  • Got burgled a week before we planned to move out. Lost my tablet and mini-laptop! Plus the welder, Dan's laptop and lots of tools
  • SweetTea, the little Lamancha doeling, disappeared and we fear the worst. 
  • Bought a 12 x 18 metal storage building to hold farm stuff.
  • Closed on the sale of our house 32 days after listing it for sale.
  • Used a vet recommended wormer and lost a young doe within minutes. Life is fragile.
  • Finally, it's breeding season. Billy BA and his sidekick Quiz are pastured with some of the ladies. When August comes, we'll give the big guy a rest until October. Then, Jupiter and Melonhead might get a shot at doing a buck's work!

Who's lookin'?