Out of the frying pan into the deep freeze

 From an unusually warm first half of November
 (on Nov. 7 our thermometer registered 61 degrees)
  we moved into an unusually cold and snowy end of autumn.
 A wet and sticky snow fell throughout the night of Nov. 29
 which was followed by a cold snap 
 that froze the snow in place.
 For days it was like living in a giant snow-globe.
Now both the hay meadows
and Spring Lake are well concealed.
We missed the “Snowmaggedon” that paralyzed the Twin Cities and collapsed the Metrodome roof 
but we got the arctic air blast that followed; sunny days are the coldest.
The goat barn has been staying a balmy -4 even on mornings that approach -20.
Frost collects on the rims of the heated water buckets.
Dream is sensible enough to keep her winter coat on; the other girls manage to wriggle out of theirs.
A visiting kitty kept scavaging in our compost pile
and leaving blue jay carcases in our garage
so we started feeding her.  Don't know if he/she is feral or belongs to a neighbor, but the kitty runs every time we appear.  (She's staring at the camera through the kitchen window.)
We asked Bubba if he wanted to share his cushy, pampered life with the poor visitor.  He called us "Obama socialists," pinned on his "Palin-Bachman 2012" button,
and retreated to one of his favorite winter spots: under the quilts in the south bedroom.
Nature's repertoire of fabulous sunsets
again includes a cold-weather phenomenon:
a pillar of light caused by ice crystals.
Mr. T out looking for action.
He enjoyed an extended visit from Jellybean
and Sugar
but on their daily visits to Mr. T's boudoir
the visitors seemed more interested in butting heads

with the local girls.
No matter how snowy or cold it gets
T keeps an eye on the ladies' dormitory.
Ada returned in December to accompany
Desi's daughter Gerta
who sports the cutest pair of wattles.
At first Gerta wasn't wild about visiting T
but the suave operator finally won her over.
Kona came down with bloat, which can occur in very cold weather when goats reduce their activity.  Barb's quick intervention (massages, exercise, doses of vegetable oil and medicines) saved the day.
Santa's busiest elf has been making lots of goats' milk soap
which cures on racks in the bathroom
and accumulates in boxes throughout the house
awaiting delivery to Barb's many customers.  It's a popular Christmas gift item.
As usual, she's been experimenting with new varieties
Mr. T joins the other goats, Bubba and the Farmers in wishing to all visitors of the blog the happiest of holidays and a wonderful 2011.  (Mr. T's hat courtesy of Dale Connelly.)


Aut-Win, Speed Dates, Storm

 We continue to enjoy the subtle colors of Aut-Win,
 naturalist Larry Weber's term for that season
 between the bright leaves of fall and the snows of winter.
Our sandy soil is full of new burrows
as badgers, skunks, woodchucks and other critters 
 dig in ahead of the coming cold and drifts.
 The goats are taking advantage of their last opportunities to play outside.
 Kona surfs on the truck topper that provides shade in back of their pen.
 Cowabunga, dude!  Heads up for a gnarly Neptune Cocktail!
 What are Dream, Alba and Mr. T staring at? 
 It's Ada
 and Desiree, visiting for a bit as they await their rendezvous in Kettle River with
 Mischief, one of Dodger's bucks from last spring.
Dreamy's Desi has grown considerably since she left in July of 2009.
The visiting girls were quite peppy 
 and enjoyed racing up and down the driveway. 
 Daily walks with the home team
 always included some tussling and head-butting
 but truce was arranged for a common raid on the blueberry bushes. 
 Mr. T remains addlepated in the heat of the breeding season
 slobbering sweet nothings in the ear of any doe who approaches. 
 Lassi, however, is destined for a tryst with a different swain.  She boards the Goatmobile
 for a trip to Kettle River and a speed date with
 the handsome and debonair Mischief. 
 Two more visitors arrive to console Mr. T:
 and her mom Sugar.
In the midst of all these romantic whirlwinds, we experience what the National Weather Service dubbed
 According to Meteorologist Paul Douglas, "it was certainly the strongest storm ever recorded over Minnesota and the Upper Midwest, probably the most intense storm ever measured between the Rockies and the Appalacians.”
 This "land hurricane" brought the lowest bar pressure ever recorded in Minnesota.
 Wind gusts over 50 mph toppled the trellis in front of the house and scattered stuff everywhere.
 Torrential rains overwhelmed the barrels into which the gutters drain,
 but luckily for the basement, the rain eventually turned to snow and the house stayed dry.
 We got far less than the 7+ inches recorded a little further north 
 and all of the snow had vanished by Halloween
 in time for the goats to go trick-or-treating.
(Thanks to Photoshop wizard Dale Connelly of the Trail Baboon blog, who supplied the girls with costumes.)
On Nov 2 Barb volunteered from 6:00 am to 9:30 pm as an election judge at the Blackoof Town Hall.
She's happy to perform her civic duty, but would rather be out herding goats.