Looking forward to winter

Old Father Winter has finally thrown his fluffy white blanket over the Erie shoreline, and with its arrival, things have slowed to a crawl. The woodshed is stocked and the barn is squared away for the time being. Nothing to do now but chores. There are things happening here, but they are moving much slower than during the rest of the year. One huge change is the arrival of our newest goat friend, Marzanna. (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marzanna) We went with that instead of Kyselica because it’s just a bit easier to pronounce. The name refers to the Eastern European goddess of winter and death. To anyone who has spent any amount of time on a farm or in a situation that involves livestock, death is an integral part of life on the farm. Our culture, or what passes as one, here in the US has stigmatized death, made it something to be feared and hated, while still killing things in order to live, be they animals or plants. Death is a direct consequence of life. It’s inevitable. As Chuck Palahniuk wrote in Fight Club, “when you extend the timeline long enough, we’re all terminal.”

Marzanna’s arrival brings with it the potential to expand our flock and also to expand our cheese endeavors. She is mostly La Mancha. I say mostly because I simply don’t know what else is going on. She’s got gopher ears, like Thelia, rather than the almost earless trait seen in pure La Manchas. So far she’s fairly quiet and reserved. Her acceptance into the flock was facilitated by Andromache’s going to the same farm where Marzanna and Thelia came from, to get bred. I tried to find a video of a full sized La Mancha or Alpine Buck in rut, but youtube has failed to provide. They are quite terrifying  when they scent a doe. They smell like burning garbage also. So Andromache went over to Tammy’s place and Marzanna come home that night. The next day Andromache came home stinking of raw buck. Thelia may have known Marzanna when she was still in Tammy’s barn, but she’s been at our place long enough that her new position as top girl has made here more than a little pushy. We kept Marzanna locked in her own pen for about a week before letting her come out and mingle with the other. I’m still keeping here separated at night as well. I don’t want the others backing her into a corner and hurting her to the point that she spontaneously aborts. Kind of defeats the purpose. Mostly though, she seems to get along. The only really aggressive behavior I’ve seen directed towards here is the simple expression of dominance rather than outright aggressive rejection. The girls just gotta work out who’s on top. Regardless of their jockeying for position, Andromache and Marzanna are due about 3 weeks apart in April. This works well for me because earlier births run the risk of winter storms causing premature births. something I simply don’t want to deal with. Here’s hoping for twins or better.

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In addition to getting a new doe and getting Andromache bred, the chickens have finally started laying eggs. This in spite of the short cold days. I found 3 eggs randomly tucked into the straw in the nest boxes the other day. Over the past 4 days, I’ve found 3, 4, 3 and 1 egg respectively. There’s simply no telling who is laying them. Once the Easter Eggers start laying, they’ll be a bit more obvious, as their eggs are blue green and there’s 4 of them. With 25 Buckeye hens, it’s anybody’s guess if it’s a couple of overachievers or a string of first timers. I haven’t put a timer on their lights or warmed the coop in any way as I want them to just do whatever their bodies tell them is appropriate for the here and now. No need to force them. They’ll get to laying eggs whenever they want. I figure we’ll have more eggs than we can deal with in no time.

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And Elsie, because why not?