Monday, December 31, 2012


Bucklet was born last March. His mother died shortly after his birth, so Bucklet became a bottle kid. We bonded with him immediately. He was affectionate, cute, and tiny. He maaed mournfully when we left him in the barnyard after feeding him. He spent most of his time with Ditsy Baby, another bottle animal, and in general, hung out with forty sheep and four does.
We only keep male animals in two situations, one as a vasectomized teaser to get the females cycling together, or two as a breeding male. With only four does, we didn’t need a teaser, but we did need a breeding buck, so we decided to keep Bucklet. He grew slowly. I wasn’t sure if he’d be tall enough or mature enough to breed the does come fall. The does spent September hanging out at the fence between their pasture and the ram pasture. I didn’t think they could be bred through the fence. But eventually they stopped hanging out at the fence line.
By November, Bucklet had changed, like a young man, spitting and swaggering as he entered puberty. He didn’t spit but he did swagger and he developed an even more disturbing habit. He urinated on his face and front legs. Adult bucks also stick their heads in a doe’s urine stream to see if she is in heat. No wonder male goats are known for their horrid odor.
When we put Winthrop the ram and Bucklet the buck in with the females, Bucklet seemed to have no interest in the does; he mounted sheep after sheep. He mounted sheep from the front, from the side, and occasionally from the proper position in the back. But he was fortunately too short and of the wrong breed to impregnate my sheep.
Over a month later, he began following the does. Perhaps he had figured out sex while practicing on his sheep friends and was now sure enough of himself to take his place as dominant male in his goat flock.
We returned Winthrop and Bucklet to the ram pasture in mid-December. They had been with their females for two heat cycles, so we should have a good percentage of pregnant animals. Three weeks later, Winthrop went over the fence and Bucklet went through the fence back into the barnyard. We wrestled them back onto the ram pasture and reinforced the fences. Did they leave because their ladies were in heat or because we hadn’t fed them first?
We won’t know how many animals are pregnant or how well our new breeding males have done until lambing begins in April. I can hardly wait until then.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Winter greens

We grow food in our small greenhouse. Most years we just start seeds in the spring, but this fall I brought in parsley and rosemary, friends gave us a celery plant and a pot of New Zealand spinach, and Dave started a row of lettuce. Our greenhouse is just a wide spot in the stairs to the basement with only a tiny space for plants, so we can’t produce all our winter veggies or even many of the greens we need, but after a month, our lettuce is 2” high and filling out. It’s time to plant the next crop of greens and we’ll include arugula and perhaps kale. Next fall I’ll transplant some peppermint to a pot so we’ll have fresh mint for chimichurri sauce and for peppermint liquor during the winter.

After the amazing desserts of the holiday season, Dave and I have vowed to eat fewer cookies, cakes and pies, but still enjoy a bit of sweetness in the evening. Peppermint liquor on a small scoop of vanilla ice cream makes a delicious, delicately flavored light green sundae, especially in the depths of winter.

Peppermint Liquor
2 cups fresh mint leaves
2 cups vodka
2 cups water
1 cup sugar
5 drops green food coloring
Wash and dry mint leaves. Crush leaves and combine with vodka in a quart jar. Mix well and store covered in a cool, dark place for one month. Stir weekly.
To make a syrup, bring water to a boil. Stir in sugar and stir until sugar has dissolved. Cool.
Strain the mint leaves from the vodka and then stir in the sugar syrup. Add green food coloring. Store in decorative bottles. Serve on vanilla or chocolate ice cream for a delicious sundae.