Winter At Last

Our balmy autumn seemed to last forever. We enjoyed the third warmest November on record. After a belated Thanksgiving feast for friends on Nov. 28, Larry Weber led us on a nature tour through our land and that of neighbors Tom & Gretchen.
Stops included inspection of the badger tunnels proliferating in the sandy meadows.
It was a real treat to be out so late without snowshoes or heavy coats.
Goats enjoyed the extended fall, too.
Prima was visiting for a rendezvous with Majority
but she was more interested in butting Dodger and Dreamy through the fence.
Mr. T enjoys the smackdown.
Alas, the unusual weather couldn't continue forever.
The snow finally arrived,
along with sub-zero temperatures and wind-chills down to 40 below.
We finally had to turn off the outside taps and switch to heated water buckets for the goats.
Alba: "What's that rat doing in our water?"
Dodger: "The backstroke."
The goats stay inside on the coldest, windiest days but enjoy getting out when it warms up a bit.
Pan, here to keep Desi company, enjoys an enormous snow cone
followed by some raspberry bushes.
Desi continues to challenge Dodger.
Mr. T comes out on even the coldest days,
and wonders why the does aren't there to meet him in the usual corner.
Niblet likes to peek out the door
but most of him usually stays inside.
Julius is still hanging on but has lost all his insulation to renal disease; he's mostly skin and bones. To stay warm, he follows the sunlight
and snuggles up to his overly padded brother. It's a real challenge to get Julius to eat and Bubba to stop eating.
Why even clothes clean from the washer and drier are covered with cat hair.
Colorful dawns add an incentive to get out and feed/water/milk the goats first thing each day,
and one frigid sunset featured an unusual pillar of light.
For the gift-giving season, Barb made over 250 bars of goats' milk soap,
and could have sold many more, given the demand this year.
Here she inserts Caroline's new seasonal earrings
before the Christmas party at Diamond Willow,
which featured music and lots of great food.
Mr. T joins Bill O'Reilly and the Farmers in wishing everyone Happy Holidays!
(Digital cap courtesy of Minnesota Public Radio's Dale Connelly.)


T's in the Mood for Love

It's the season that Larry Weber calls "AutWin" --
the time between the bright leaves of autumn and the snows of winter.
The gardens are put to bed (and the garlic planted)
and the colors are muted
but still interesting
with infinite variations on brown and yellow.
Dawns continue to supply
the hotter hues.
Red Oak Lane is now officially marked
with its goat crossing
just in time to handle the traffic: visitors to the world's handsomest buck.
It's well into breeding season, and Mr. T
has been entertaining does for a series of speed dates.
Alba should deliver his bundle(s) of joy around March 24th.
Dodger showed lots of interest in T, too, but she produced such beautiful kids with Gail's buck Wayne last spring that she climbed into the Goatmobile for another visit to T's rival in Kettle River; she's due around March 25th.
T was not without other claimants to his attention, including Pan from Kirsten and Chad's establishment on the appropriately named Goat Hill.
Pan's companion Desiree, daughter of our own Dreamy, came along.
Barb took all the does out several times a day until Pan was in the mood to light up T's life.
The girls showed a lot of interest in each other
and then got right down to butting heads.
Desi was fearless in confronting boss goat Dodger,
holding her own in the tete-a-tetes.
Romps through the meadows regularly ended
in confrontations
with Mr. T fascinated by the chick fights.
Desi reclaimed her role as Queen of the Picnic Table
and reminded Pan that there's room for only one queen.
Pan consoled herself by eating the shrubbery.
Kathy's goats Wake and Xedra also came to the farm for a rendezvous with T.
Barb took them out to the Gentlemen's Club several times a day for over a week
and made the proper introductions,
but they were more interested in eating grass, hay
and Barb's hat than in
Mr. T's attentions.
Niblet was as eager to meet the girls as T was, but not for romance; he wanted to establish his superior position in the goat social hierarchy.Whipoorwill came out for her second speed date with T.
Wake went home, but Xedra is still with us, pending her willingness to make an honest buck out of T.
Dream is showing a lot more interest in the handsome fella than any of the visitors did
perhaps remembering the cute triplets they produced together last breeding season,
but Barb is giving her a year off baby-making.
She's not too happy about the situation now
but she'll be more grateful when she hears Alba and Dodger deliver this March.
For Mr. T it's been goat heaven, and more does are on the way.
Critters continue to burrow in ahead of the snows
and Julius is already in winter mode, attaching himself to Bubba, his personal furnace.