Seeking the Simple Life and Penpals

The sun is rising, splaying pink and metallic colors across the mountains and along sides of structures. I am so thankful to be in the country. I watch the horse across the street from my office window run and jump, darting through trees, and landing in a swirl of dust near his food bowl as his owner comes out with hay.

Maryjane (my six year old granddaughter) had her first riding lesson. She at first did not want to go because she found that her cowgirl boots were too small. She perked up the minute she saw the horses and she fell in love with the bubbly, blond instructor, Miss Britney. These were great horses; Maryjane clutched one large horse in a hug and he did not budge. Maryjane easily learned how to guide the horse, as her little sister, Ayla, blew kisses to all of the horses. These are country girls.

At Grandpa’s house Saturday, we celebrated his 92nd birthday. He had to take off work to do so. He is forever at his drawing board, on the phone, or meeting with clients. He sipped his coffee as he told us stories of working on a dairy farm, milking eighty head, or helping the vets bring down the draft horses for treatment. He once rode round-up moving horses from Sterling to Estes Park, 146 miles. His stories about being a cowboy, the rodeo circuit, World War Two, working on the sugar beet farm for his uncle during the Depression, and working at a dairy come with a final relief that he moved to the city.

We are lucky to be modern farmers and homesteaders. I am able to romanticize it a bit. It doesn’t hold the same urgency of survival as it did in Grandpa’s time.

Doug and I chat in the car on the way home about our ideas and goals. We have done this before so we know what to expect and how to do things better this time. We want to live simply. So simply (and prepared enough) that if the power were to go out or a storm were to rage, we would be snug in our home with plenty of light, warmth, water, and food.

Simple enough that our electric bill stays lower than if we purchased solar. The clothes being cleaned with a washer plunger in the summer and dry flapping in the wind on the clothes line. Food chosen from rows of dirt or rows of canned goods. Meat from our own chickens or from our friends’ cows and pigs. We seek out and associate with other homesteaders/ranchers/farmers. We travel long distances to each others’ homes for dinner. Keep up on social media. Cheer each other on. Support each other.

One of my favorite old activities is to write and receive letters in the post. A moment to sit with a cup of tea and an old friend in prose and see what is going on in their world. Then with pretty stationary and pen, share our private life, thoughts, and ideas. Now that we are settled into our home and winter is upon us, if you would like to be pen-pals, please write me! I would love to correspond.

Mrs. Katie Sanders, 790 9th Street, Penrose, CO, 81240.

Drying Off Isabelle (no more milk till spring and chica has a new boyfriend)

I am a tad envious of those raised on a farm.  They don’t have to text random people that have goats to ask stupid questions.  Like, how the heck do we stop her milk?  I know this should seem like an obvious one but there is an art to all this dairy farming.  Goodness, we don’t want to send our goat into pain, discomfort, mastitis, and who knows what else!  Our dear Isabelle trusts us.

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I first started by looking up on the internet how to dry off a goat.  Easy.  Just start milking once a day, then every other day, then every third day, et cetera.  We easily got her down to once a day.  That was great for weeks but we don’t have any CSA’s anymore and I stopped making cheese for the season so five cups of milk a day is a little overkill.  It certainly fills the fridge up quickly.  I have been avidly making eggnog, but even then, I still have a lot of milk in there.  The freezer is full of milk and neither of us want to go out in the freezing cold to milk so even though we could wait until her third month of pregnancy to dry her off, we have opted to give us all a much needed respite.

We then waited a day before milking her.  Her udder was hard as a rock and Doug’s hands were getting tired getting all the milk out.  You think I am sappy and sensitive?  My husband is worse.  He loves these creatures and wants them to experience zero discomfort.  So we were back to once a day again.

I finally asked a random goat person how to dry off a goat.  She told me the same thing we had already learned so we just went for it.  Every other day.  Check, less milk.  Every third day.  The next time we milk will be Friday which is the fourth day.  She has not been engorged since that first time.  All it took was that first bit of pressure to send the message to her body to ease up on the milk production.

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On Sunday, Isabelle has a hot date.  We ought to put a nice red flower in her hair or something.  You know, distract from the beard.  She is going to his house because we are having trouble figuring out when she is in heat and the hour and a half drive the second we find out she is in heat would be difficult.  So instead she is having a slumber party until she gets pregnant.  Don’t judge.  She makes really cute babies.  Her own baby, Elsa, could be bred this year but we have heard enough folks recommend that we wait a year to give her a chance to fully grow.  Since goats are pack animals, Elsa will chaperone her mother.  A few weeks without goats, that will be strange!  We’ll miss them.

Lots of exciting gossip over here in the goat sector.  We’ll keep you posted!