Sunday, August 30, 2015

Carry On

It has been a better week.

The first few days of the week were spent ensuring the safety of the remaining animals. Our neighbor, Matt, set up his game camera to monitor the night-time activity around the pen. (None.)

Zeke is sleeping in the garage and for most of the week Mele was volunteered to keep him company.

(And, hey, guess what, Zeke uses a puppy pee pad. I kid you not. He's "house-broken". The first night he peed on an old beach towel, the next night I covered the same towel with a "Super Absorbent Training Pad" and he's been using the pad ever since. The small poops (dry and odorless) are sucked up with The Man's Industrial-sized Shop-Vac.)

The chickens returned to their coop after spending a single night in the garage. The mess and smell nearly bowled The Man over when he opened the garage door. Sorry, Ladies, you've got to live in your own home.

For future security, The Man constructed and installed a lion-proof gate on the goat house. I'm not entirely certain a clever cat can't get their paws through the wire so I'm asking, ahem, nagging The Man to reinforce it with a finer metal mesh. In the meantime, we'll keep Zeke in the garage at night.

For the first few days we spent as much time as we could with the scared, lonely goat. Luckily, Zeke immediately bonded with Mele and followed her everywhere.

We thought things were progressing well. Then one night The Man went outside to put everyone to bed. It was already dark, he found both dogs sleeping in the garage, but Zeke wasn't with them. A few long minutes later, with a flashlight, The Man found the scared goat wandering in the dark, looking for Mele. He was quite a distance from the house. Not sure who was more scared: The Man or the Goaty Boy. Zeke needed a goat companion ASAP.

The next day we answered a Craigslist ad for two Nigerian Dwarf bucklings born on August 11th. They would we weaned, wethered (neutered), and available in October; there was also a female. We made arrangements to visit on Thursday to take a look at the boys. On Wednesday, while at work, Wendy texted me that one boy had been sold.

Over these past three years we have been very fortunate to have the friendship and guidance of Goat Mama Peggy (the Goaty Boys' Mom). I once again turned to her for advice. Peggy didn't think a female goat would be too bothered by Zeke or the dogs. I was reassured and went to our appointment with an open mind.

On Thursday, we put dibs on the remaining boy. Such a tiny baby, I'm sure our chickens weigh more than he does.


We also came home with Bitsy, the one-year old female, the buckling's Aunt. Goat Mama Wendy thinks Bitsy is too small to be bred safely. She offered her to us for free.

I was pleased that Wendy liked and/or trusted us to gift us with her beautiful doeling. Then, when Wendy started walking towards the house, the itty bitty Bitsy opened her tiny mouth and SCREAMED. You know those funny goat videos with the bawling, yelling goats? She could've been the star; what she lacks in stature she certainly makes up in volume. Wendy said, "Um, yeah, she's a little vocal." A little? Really?

The Man didn't seem perturbed by the vocal onslaught (nor did he seem to notice me trying to catch his eye so we could talk about it first).

And Bitsy came home with us. So, now I'm thinking maybe Wendy was happy to rehome her goat before they got in trouble with the neighbors, heck, the whole neighborhood!

Phew, it's been three days and finally things are settling down . . . and quieting down.

But I gotta say: Bitsy. Talks. All. The. Time. (To Be Continued.)

We received many emails of support and sympathy from family and friends. How amazing that animals can touch our lives and make us better for it. Thank you everyone.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

A Better Week

Last Sunday evening, per usual, we were sitting outside overlooking the Vista. Overhead a Cal Fire plane flew over us. Then another right behind it. We checked the Cal Fire SLO website, and sure enough, a fire had just started on the Cuesta Grade.

Fire Investigators believe one vehicle heading north on Hwy 101 started multiple fires along a 125-mile route. The first fire was reported near Buellton at 4:30pm, then three fires along the Cuesta Grade at 6:15 pm, and then Cholame, not too much later. In our drought-stricken area, a vehicle dragging a metal chain - creating sparks - can cause disastrous results.

Monday evening

Over the next few days the fire threatened the small town of Santa Margarita. The town is less than 8 miles from our home; we're separated by undeveloped ranch land and the four lanes of Hwy 101.

We hoped for the best but prepared for the worst and went through our evacuation checklist. The goat crate was loaded and ready to be occupied.

After a few days, the weather turned mild, the cool nights and the marine layer (fog) helped the fire fighters gain the upper hand. We breathed a sigh of relief.

Yesterday morning as I prepared to write this post The Man came in to tell me that Duke and Wyatt had been killed. Zeke was unharmed.

The brothers were killed during the night while they slept.

Our windows were open. The dogs didn't bark. No one heard a thing.

Two of our neighbors came by and agreed that the predator was probably a mountain lion. They saw the arrangement of our pen, the height of our fencing, and the electrified "hot" wire, and did not think coyotes could have climbed into the pen. Later, we found the mountain lion's tracks.

Last night, The Girls and Zeke slept in the garage with Mele.

Today we buried Duke and Wyatt.

We're hoping this week will be a better one.



~ ~ Duke and Wyatt, you made our hearts sing.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Out of the Box

Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.   Michael Pollan

It's been three years since we signed up for our weekly Talley Farms Fresh Harvest CSA produce box.

Every Friday, The Man hops on his KLR motorcycle, drives to our nearby pickup spot, and comes home with the "Bounty from our County" strapped to the back of his bike.

Summer is the best time for fruits and vegetables. Straight from the fields to our kitchen.

And in our happy household there is virtually no waste. Between the chickens and the goats very little makes it to the compost pile. (Well, except for green onions . . .  no one seems to be a fan.) We are all lucky to have farm-to-our-table (and galvanized feeding pans) yummy goodness.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Fairly Lucky

The California Mid-State Fair, our county fair, came to an end last Sunday after a 12-day run.

I requested to be off my usual Wednesday workday so I could experience the annual Cattle Drive. On opening day the cattle and horseback riders travel through the streets of Paso Robles to the gates of the Fairgrounds.

Last year, The Man and Z. were nearly run over and I thought that would be fun to see. Well, not the trampled upon part, just the parade of cows walking through the streets, front lawns, gardens, you know . . . wherever they want to go. Yeehaw.

Sadly, no such luck. A few days before the event we read that due to "logistical issues" there would be no annual Cattle Drive. The property for staging the cattle and horse riders had been sold (for future development) and no longer available for use. Sigh. I hope there's a Plan "B" in the works for next year.

So, anyway, last Thursday, we got to the Fair an hour before the gates officially opened at noon.

We tried to get there early for Swine Showmanship but by the time we arrived it was over as evidenced by Cora's 4-H hog, Sassy, chillin' and relaxing in her pen. We said a quick hello and goodbye to Sassy and left to check out the rest of the happenings:

The Beef Barn

 Decisions, decisions: Deep fried bacon wrapped pickles or Deep fried bacon wrapped jalapenos.

The very eclectic, homey, sometimes strange (but always interesting) Home Arts exhibits

Sheep relaxing in the Mutton Bustin' arena before the Wool Riders (6 years old and younger) show up.

After a late lunch of BBQ pork sandwiches we walked back to our car which was parked in the "shade" of a big oak tree, it was 103°. Time to head home.

The next evening we returned to the fair. A lot more people on a not-so-hot Friday night.

We went to see The Mavericks in concert. They were playing two free shows. We saw them two years ago, also a "free with paid admission show". Lucky us.


 And, hey, it was a blue moon (second full moon of the month).

Wait, there's more: the International Space Station passed right over us. The Man subscribes to Spot the Station and had received an email earlier in the day. It lets him know where and when to look in the night sky for the ISS (cough, cough, geek).

Time: Fri Jul 31 9:30 PM, Visible: 6 min, Max Height: 59 degrees, Appears: WSW, Disappears: NE

Okay, my photo shows only a speck (um, top left of the banner, yeah, that one) but, hey, it's still cool beans. C'mon, The International Space Station. Lucky us.

And you know that Deep fried pickle wrapped in bacon? Never got a chance. Lucky me, there's always next year at "The Biggest Little Fair Anywhere".

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Out and About: Coastal Coolness

Pines by the Sea
July 26, 2015

Last Sunday we spent the afternoon at the beach. It was forecasted to be another scorcher of a day so we decided to beat the heat by chillin' at the coast.

While I made a lunch The Man readied his motorcycle. The KLR doesn't really like packing a passenger so The Man needs to sweet talk the bike and adjust a few doohickeys here and there. (I'm just stiffening up the shocks, not a big deal, he reassures the bike.)

First stop, Jack Creek Farms, off of Hwy 46 West.


The small store was stocked with yummy Made in SLO products, and cool refreshments but we made our way back outdoors to check out their goats. Last September we read that a mountain lion had killed three goats and four geese. What a sad day that must have been. We fed the remaining three goats newly fallen apples we picked off the ground.

The heat of the day gave me prickly sensations on my back. Very prickly. Then lower than my back. Um, biting. The Man and I made our way to a nearby (clean!) Porta-Potty. Sure enough, ants in my pants. Time to move on.

Next we took a scenic back road called Santa Rosa Creek Road. Last month we traveled this same road in the opposite direction and met author and adventure travel writer, Linda Ballou. We were enjoying the vista view and our Tootsie Pop and she pulled off the road to join us for a lollipop break.

This is what she wrote about her trip: If a drive along a shady creek and farms festooned in bright blooms appeals, you would enjoy a Sunday drive up Santa Rosa Creek Road out of Cambria. It gets a bit daunting as it rises to meet Highway 46 back to SLO, but it is well worth the butterflies to get to the vistas.


I gotta say going down from the vista is equally daunting thrilling. After several miles of hairpin (switchback) turns on rough road we ended up in Cambria. Driving slowly through the crowded downtown, we made a U-turn to take a closer look at a vehicle we had just passed.

It was a MAN, an off-road camper . . . an expedition vehicle . . . an RV on steroids for a traveling family of four from Switzerland. At least that's the little I gathered from their website, which is written in German. And, get this, before they pulled away they raised the back end of their vehicle. Yes, the camper got even taller than the picture I took.

MAN and The Man

We left downtown Cambria and traveled north along Moonstone Beach Drive. We stopped at Leffingwell Landing, a day-use park, part of Hearst San Simeon State Park. We found a picnic table out of the wind. The breezy marine air was chilly enough to encourage us to keep our motorcycle jackets on. After lunch we made our way down to the small beach.

There were only a handful of people on the beach and they were all busy searching in the sand. A woman visiting from New Mexico showed us her small baggie of polished pebbles and pointed out the tiny moonstones she had found.

The Man and I found a spot out of the wind and started our own treasure hunt. The small rocks sparkled in the sun, smooth and beautiful, worn down to a shiny gleam. We sat on the warm "sand" and selected a few handfuls of our own polished pebbles to take home.

Later,  I googled "moonstone" and found out they are a true gemstone. I don't think we found any real moonstones, just pretty white rocks and quartz chips.

The next time a heat wave is in our forecast we'll be heading back to the coast to find shimmery moonstones. It's only a 35-minute drive to the coast, though it takes much longer with a motorcycle that follows the road-less-traveled.