Okay …

We’re back … sort of.

It’s been an incredibly busy four or five days.  When Wally got out of work on Friday, we drove out to look at those goats.  Wally and I have been to some rough places, but this one took the cake.  We couldn’t tell which building was the house and which one was for the animals and storage.  There were about 20 dogs running around, most of them small breeds.  The goats were in good shape.  The woman and I went out to look at them and when I agreed to buy them, we walked them out to the truck.  I loaded the Pygmy goat on my own (which was stupid because then I smelled like a billy goat).  We had to get Wally and the husband’s attention to help us load the other two because they were off chatting like old ladies.  They loaded the black LaMancha first and when they were putting the last one in the cage that fits on the back of Wally’s truck, the black LaMancha came flying out like his tail was on fire.  He ran back to the barn and we had a heck of a time catching him a second time.

By the time we got back home it was dark.  We had decided to put the goats in a spare dog run until Saturday.  We were going to butcher the Pygmy and black LaMancha Saturday morning and take the third (who was the biggest) to the sale with the intention that he pay for all three.  We decided not to try to butcher three goats in one day and I’m working both days next weekend.  Wally suggested that we off-load the wild one first which we did.  I then handed him down the bigger goat and he brought it to the door of the dog run.  The second he opened it, the black one came flying out.

Both Gel and Fern were loose and they immediately went for the goat.  All I could see was black forms running.  I couldn’t tell which was the goat and which was the dogs.  The goat headed immediately for the woods bordering the pond.  Fern came back when I called her, but Gel was in hot pursuit.  The sheep were down back and because it was getting so dark I brought Fern down to bring them up.  I reasoned that Gel would hear the ATV and meet me down there.  I was wrong.  Rose was in with the sheep and as soon as I sent Fern in there, Rose jumped on her and Fern went back out.  Rose has been doing this even with Gel.  I think it’s a combination of playing and protecting the sheep.  Gel doesn’t care if Rose jumps on her, Fern does, with good reason.  You may recall that Rose had Fern on the ground a few months ago with not-so-good intentions.  I grabbed hold of Rose and called Fern back in.  Luckily she came and went around the sheep.

Fern has never brought the sheep back up in the dark and she is leery about working with Rose around.  I did a good amount of encouraging and she did it.  Good girl!

Eventually Gel came back and we spent about an hour looking for that damned goat.  I expected he was in the next county by now and would likely be coyote food.

The next day we drove to Statesville to get rabbits and on the way home picked up a replacement wagon for the ATV.  Oh, it’s nice!!  It’s four foot by five so it’s a lot more stable than the other wagon.  I really hated spending the money, but we needed it.  I hauled water down on the back of the ATV Friday morning and got soaked.

When we got back Wally shot and hung the Pygmy goat.  The intention was that I skin and gut the goat while he worked on getting a cover on Gel’s run.  In order to save money we were going to try to make the structure of his cover out of wood.  I don’t know that we’ll do another Pygmy goat.  This one was really hard to skin.  He was black and with rabbits, the black ones are harder to skin than the lighter color ones.  I have skinned several deer and have not had any trouble doing it.  This goat was a struggle.  Eventually Wally came to help me.  He told me that making the structure to cover Gel’s run out of wood just wasn’t going to work and that we had better go to Lowes to get the pipe to do it right.  I handed him the bone saw and we started to try to cut the goat up into six to eight inch pieces.  That was a struggle.  I’ve complained about that bone saw (which I bought from Northern Tool to him a few times and he didn’t understand why it didn’t work.  He discovered why first hand.

We then discussed whether butchering animals ourselves was worth the effort.  I suggested that we go ahead and pick up a chain saw and try that.  A couple of people had told me about using a small electric chain saw to cut up carcasses and when I told Wally about this he couldn’t see it working.  All he could see was blood and tissue getting slung around and it being a big mess (I guess he’s watched the Texas Chainsaw Massacre too many times).  When using a chain saw for this application, you run vegetable oil in it rather than motor oil.

It worked like a charm!!!  The chain saw is quite light and I thought I would be able to do the cutting myself, but I discovered I am not comfortable handling a chain saw.  Wally is.  I held the meat while he cut and we had that goat in pieces in no time.

Meanwhile, the dogs, cats and chickens were enjoying the scraps.  I had squeezed out the stomach contents and kept the stomach lining (which is what green tripe is) for the dogs.  By the time we got back from our errands, the chickens had consumed the stomach contents.  When I’ve butchered animals in the past, I haul the scraps down back for the coyotes, but by the time we finished, there was nothing left to haul down there.

Now with the added tool in our tool box (the chain saw) we will butcher more animals on our own.  Because of the errands we had to run, it turned out to be a bit too hot for butchering so we need to plan better next time.  I got at least 40 pounds of usable meat to put in the freezer and really, nothing went to waste.  We hung the head up in the tree to let the insects clean it off.  The goat had a good sized rack of horns on him and the skull may turn out to be pretty enough to keep.  I’d love to find someone to make a shepherd’s crook out of one of the horns.

When we finished the goat, we then turned to getting the cover constructed on Gel’s run.  That took several hours.  We bought the pipe to make a cover for the smallest run.  The snow damaged the tarp on the run where I milk and that will need to be replaced, but when that’s finished, they’ll all be covered.  In addition to tarps, there’s also black mesh shade cloth covering the entire top of each run.  This serves two purposes: shade and preventing a dog from going over the top of the run or something else crawling in.

The three goats for $25 each were a deal, but we got an even better deal the end of last week.   The woman who took Mr. Red and gave me the two black cats had several dog runs she wanted to get rid of.  On Friday morning, I went over to look to see what she had.  The one that she really wanted to get rid of was what she called the Wild Kingdom.  It was constructed of five-16-foot long panels up against a building (which formed one side of the structure).  It had been completely covered, but the recent snow had taken some of the tarps down.  The entire structure was covered with plastic-coated chicken wire (which is very expensive) and they had poured concrete along the the bottom of the chain link panels to prevent cats from crawling out the bottom.  At one time, there were about 50 cats in that structure.  Now it was full of trash.  Her husband was very anxious to get it out of there.

When fully put together, the “run” is 32 feet long by 16′ wide.  The snow had taken a portion of the tarp down, but nothing was permanently damaged.  The main tarp was heavy duty (and extremely expensive).  Can you imagine what this structure originally cost them?  They said we could have it if we took it down!!!!  I didn’t know how difficult it would be to get the concrete off the bottom of the chain link so on our way out to look at the goats I brought Wally over there.  He said it wouldn’t be too bad to break the concrete off so we arranged to go over there Monday night to work on taking it down.  I had to work until 6, but with daylight savings time, there would be at least an hour’s worth of light for me to help.  Wally planned to go over right after he got out of work.

I had to work Sunday from 9 to 1.  When I got out, we went to visit Wally’s mother and then came back and reset the ElectroNet.  We measured a length of ElectroNet with some surveyor’s string and used that to measure out where the paths needed to be mowed and fence set.  It’s still not perfect, but it’s a lot better than it has been.  The weather was a lot better than the last time we set the fence which was on March 1 in the sleet and rain.

When I got out of work on Monday I went over to help work on the dog run.  Wally and the woman’s husband had most of it down.  Her husband had worked on it some over the weekend (he was really excited about getting it out of there).  The chicken wire and tarps were off it and they were working on breaking the concrete off, which was very strenuous work.  We managed to get it completely apart, the tarps folded and the chicken wire rolled by 7:30.  Now all we need to do is borrow a large flat trailer to get it over here.  The plan is to install it up near the fenced in area and use it partially as a storage area (for my ATV and other equipment) and a milking “parlor.”  While we plan to use round bales of hay next year, we will keep a supply of square bales on hand for when we need them and this structure will be a perfect place to keep the hay (rather than in Wally’s stock trailer where it is now).  You cannot cover these dog runs and expect it to stay completely dry, but if we put tarps over what needs to stay completely dry, it will work fine.  I will be glad to have my milking “parlor” up closer to where that goats are and away from the dogs.  If Kessie or Cian are in a run when I’m milking, they are running around in the run and it disturbs the goats (some) and irritates me (a lot).  Then we’ll have four usable dog runs in a row separate from where I milk.

When we got home last night I went down with Gel and Fern to get the sheep.  When I got down there, I saw a dark form outside the ElectroNet.  At first I thought it was one of the sheep, but looking closer I realized it was that black LaMancha!!!  Yea!!! I carefully sent Gel around the sheep and then we brought them out around where the goat was.  He merged into the flock and we headed home.  I put all of them into the chicken and duck pasture and then we caught the goat and put him in a dog run where he’s going to stay until the sale.  While I wouldn’t mind shooting that crazy goat myself, I have to work both weekend days this week and the weather is going to be rainy.

As I write this it is Tuesday morning.  I have to get out and get the goats milked, the sheep moved down back, take a shower and then head to Salisbury for an agility lesson.  I don’t know how that’s going to go.  Monday at Walmart was extremely busy; essentially nonstop for me.  I had a steady line of customers the whole time I was there, which is a good thing, but being a cashier can be an extremely physical job and all that we did on the weekend and then Monday night taking down the run has caught up with me.  I’m sore!  I plan to take Gel, Fern and Kessie.  I’ll do the Master’s class with Gel and then the puppy class with Kessie.  While she’s not a puppy, she needs the foundation work that puppies get.  In between Gel and Kessie I’ll mess with Fern.

More on how that goes later …