Monthly Archives: March 2020

Fetchin’ in the Firewood

A dead tree blew down in a remotish corner of our property over a year ago and I’d put off cutting it up and hauling it to the house because it was on a steep slope with a lot of rocks and trees that made it tricky to get a truck or tractor back there. I do drive the tractor back there, but lately we’ve either had too much snow to be safe on the hill or else too much mud to let me cross my pasture without tearing deep ruts. But darn it we were running out of firewood and I wanted that dead tree! So I had a brilliant idea–use the goats! Sputnik is always eager for a bit of work so I hitched him up and he hauled the chainsaws and gas can out to the dead tree. I tied him up nearby and got to work. Soon there was a respectable pile of firewood and log rounds lying where the tree had been.

I loaded the cart and Sputnik eagerly pulled it back to the house, almost dragging me along with it!

He’s not proud of himself at all! No, not one bit!

The second load was heavy! The logs I cut from the tree stump that was left standing after the rest blew down were still a bit green.
Sputnik was overeager at first and kind of dragged me out to the tree by his halter and then dragged me back home with the first load. He started out eager with the second load but settled down very quickly when he realized how hard it was! By the third load he was Mr. Steady Eddy and I didn’t even have to tie him when I loaded and unloaded the wagon. He stood very nicely, happy for a little break between loads. 

By the end of the fourth load Sputnik was getting tired. I had given him all the heavy logs, and the long trudge back home was mostly uphill and bumpy. Meanwhile I’d locked Finn up on the patio because he had been such a pest when Sputnik was hauling the first load. He dogged Sputnik the whole time, poking, prodding, and shoving him while Sputnik was trying to work. I shooed him away but he would run around the other side and start pestering again. Sputnik didn’t deserve that kind of treatment and I had no time for nonsense, so as soon as we got back to the house with our first load of wood, Finn went straight to jail. He watched in silent envy as Sputnik went away and came back with three more loads. By the time Sputnik needed a break, Finn was rarin’ to go. Normally Finn does not like pulling the wagon and if I’d started out with Finn he’d have been sullen and balky. As it was, watching Sputnik get all the attention and treats sparked Finn’s jealousy and by the time I hitched him to the wagon he was more than eager to work and he practically dragged me out to the tree as Sputnik had done at first.    

The entire herd was eager to help and followed back and forth on every trip–supervising no doubt! I felt like the head of a large parade. 

Finn ended up only having to haul 2 1/2 loads and they weren’t as heavy as Sputnik’s, but he still felt like a hero.

A nice drink of water for our hard worker.

Sadie did not help at all but she would like us to think she did something important by walking back and forth all those times. Oh wait–she cleaned up a lot of the wood chips from the wagon after I emptied it. See? She did do something important!

The Deep, Dark Depths of February

February was a month of snow and ice and unrelenting cold. The sky stayed overcast most of the time and for a while I despaired of ever seeing the sun again. Phil and I spent a lot of time huddled near the wood stove, particularly during the week we came down sick. We did our best to maintain our morning walks with Finn and Sputnik, but there were some days when it was just too icy. One day the ice rolled in just late enough for us to get our walk in first. By the time we got home the pine needles had gone from green to white and Sputnik’s beard was full of frost. (And for some reason I LOVE this photo of him!)

Finn’s eye whiskers also froze over.

The goats spent most of February destroying our stack of firewood. Every time we put it back up they tore it right down, the little monsters!

Hi Skeeter! She looks so much like her mom…

Phil’s birthday brought a rare ray of sunshine into this otherwise rather bleak and dreary month. He went outside and sat with the goats. Cupcake and Mocha immediately came to wish him a happy birthday. Then they wouldn’t leave him alone!

Goat attack!!!

Once they finished Phil off, the girls went to work on the woodpile!

Sadie just wants a piece of cake.

And TinCup is the wallflower.

The ice settled back in after Phil’s birthday and formed some amazing crystallizations on our porch!

I love how the icicles grew up through the cracks.

Our bannister grew some very impressive whiskers.

The tin goats got a little extra decoration for their horns.

The real goats got no such adornment. “When is this weather going to end? And where is our breakfast??”

A few days later a fine mist rolled down from the mountain and coated everything it touched in a layer of solid ice. It looked like someone had driven a zamboni around our yard! It was so slick I could not walk from the hay barn to the goat pen. After slipping a few times on level ground, I went right back inside and dug out my snowshoes with the metal claws on the bottom. The goats stayed in their sheds. They could barely walk on the frozen surface. The horses fared better. They were heavy enough for their hooves to punch down through the ice and give them some traction.

I heard a lot of stories afterward from friends and neighbors who had tried driving out in that weather and ended up in ditches. Our mail lady had to crack open our subdivision’s shared mailbox with a sledgehammer. Then she fell and slid underneath her car and couldn’t get out. Her husband tried to rescue her and ended up falling three times. She was eventually able to pull herself out by grabbing the running board and climbing up the side of the vehicle. Thankfully everyone was unscathed. I stayed home and only ventured outside to feed animals and bring in firewood.

Near the end of the second day, snow began to fall and by evening Phil and I were able to go sledding down the hill behind our house. The hill is long and it looks steep, but it’s not actually very good for sledding and we’ve rarely been able to get up much speed. This time was different! With the hill coated in solid ice with two inches of new snow on top we got some exhilarating rides! Next morning the temperature rose and the ice melted. No more good sledding, but it sure was fun for the one night it lasted!

February ended on a high note with a 1980’s theme party hosted by my veterinarian friend. It was only for the ladies so unfortunately Phil couldn’t attend, but I have to say I was mighty proud of my costume! I went as David Bowie’s Goblin King from the movie Labyrinth.  I think I’ll recycle this one for the State Fair in September and dress a baby goat in a red and white striped onesie.

The original:


January was a strange month without Queen Petunia to lead the herd. Even when she was sick, Pet’s presence seemed to go with them. The goats acted a bit lost for a while and spent a lot of time hanging around their pen when they would normally be out and about. Petunia always led the herd on their foraging forays, and even near the end when she quit going round with them, the herd seemed to go under her blessing and supervision. No one was sure who was in charge for a while, so the herd seemed a little confused and less orderly until Tigerlily finally stepped up to the plate in early February. Petunia was a gentle herd queen and a bold leader while Tigerlily is less kind but also less bold about striking out and leading the herd. The goats are bigger homebodies now than they used to be under Petunia’s rule. Hopefully Tigerlily will settle into her new role with time, and as the spring grass and oak buds emerge in the next few weeks I’m sure the goats will start being tempted away from the house.

In the meantime, they had a lot of fun stripping our Christmas tree! It took them about two hours to strip this poor thing to a bare skeleton. 

Except for Finn. Finn is so beautiful he prefers to pose for the camera rather than eat with the common riffraff. 

Tigerlily says, “I’m beautiful too! take pictures of me!” 

Cupcake (Petunia’s last kid) has had an interesting journey. She was a noisy baby and would cry loudly and often, especially after her brother, Buster Brown, left in October. But ever since Pet died she has hardly made a peep. I think she was distressed because she knew her mom was sick but there was nothing she could do for her. On Pet’s last night when I found her shivering in the shed despite the blanket and the warm evening, Cupcake was curled up as close to her mother as she could possibly get. All the other goats were eating supper, but Cupcake skipped the meal to give her mom companionship and warmth. It was incredibly sweet, so when I took Petunia into the house that night, I brought Cupcake in with her. We put Petunia down the next day but of course Cupcake didn’t see any of that. She kept trying to get into the house because that was the last place she’d seen her mama. On about the third day, Cupcake bolted past me when I opened the door and she ran around the basement calling. When she saw that her mom wasn’t there, she stopped looking and has not worried about her ever since.

I was afraid that Cupcake would get beat up once her mother died, but interestingly enough, Sputnik took her under his wing. I can’t say he actively protects her, but he lets her eat next to him and share his shed which means no one dares bother her. I have two big hay feeders and Finn and Sputnik generally share one while most of the girls share the other. Pet used to share with the boys because she was the queen. Tigerlily has recently started sharing with the boys now that Pet is gone, but as often as not she gets chased off. Cupcake, on the other hand, rarely eats with the girls. There she is, cute little fluff ball, happily chowing down between towering Finn and Sputnik while everyone else keeps a cautious distance. It’s adorable and I’m thrilled that our little orphan has a special place in the herd.