March Beginnings

… fruit trees, gardens, flowers, goat kids soon

Farm people rarely throw anything away. For that reason, we rarely have to go to the hardware store for many of our projects! For example, to reconfigure the large stall into three goat pens, we recycled some pallets, two old gates, T-posts, wire, old 2×6 fence boards, old 4x4s, old gate hinges, and some wire. I made one new gate also from recycled materials (otherwise know as junk laying around). We did purchase some deck screws instead of using recycled nails because the reconfiguration is temporary. It can all be quickly disassembled and repurposed!

About the three milk goats …. like all lactating mammals, pregnancy has to come before milk. A female goat (doe) will not give milk, ever, unless she first has a kid. Just like a female bovine will not give milk unless she has a calf. (We make a point of saying that here because we are always surprised how many people think a cow just produces milk because she’s a cow. Nope. Pregnancy and birth are both periodically required. Anyway, having given birth, the doe goat or cow will continue to produce milk for over a year before she dries up until the next birth. Of our three milk goats, Daisy is still producing now because she gave birth to little Rose last year and David continues to milk her each morning. GG (Glamour Girl), one of Daisy’s mature kids, is due this month. Daisy’s breed is Alpine, so GG is mostly Alpine. GG’s kids will be Alpine/Nubian. Nubian is also a milk goat breed. The other goat due this month is our little Nubian gift goat that broke her leg last year, Maggie. Maggie is due before GG, in about 2 weeks. Maggie appears as if she has a single kid. GG is enormous, so maybe two or three kids coming. Both GG and Maggie are first-time mothers, so before they can give milk, they have to survive kidding (never a given). David will have lots of milking to do if the kids don’t survive, but much less milking to do if there are multiple kids. If all goes well with GG and Maggie, David will let Daisy dry up. To dry-up a goat, one has to slowly reduce the amount of milk taken each day so that the goat can adjust to the new normal.

Chocolate, Chip and Brussels Sprouts

No, they aren’t food items served together …

This is our sick goat Chocolate and her little Chip. Chocolate is much better, but still fragile. Chocolate and Chip are not food items at all! We sold Chip’s two brothers after the fire and we all miss them. Lefty was so endearing and Socks was the same color as Chocolate with darker legs. After the fire, we could not keep all of them. Chip is a small female and we really don’t want her bred. She was the first-born of triplets about a year ago on a day about like today — windy, sunny, cool. In the background is our first-born goat here at the ranch, Goatie’s BG (Boy Goatie)

Below: some of David’s freshly-picked Brussels sprouts … they were good! Sweet. Beautiful. Definitely food.

Near Winter’s End

Getting a jump on the flowers and the cleaning before Spring

We haven’t posted much in the last few weeks. We continue to spend most of our days cleaning up after the fire. Brushing and burning continues, and now we have also started vacuuming ash from all the buildings.

We are expecting some goat kids next month if all goes well. Both does will be first-time mothers — often perilous, so while we want to be really excited about new goat kids and more goat milk, we are keeping emotions in check for now. One of our mature does suddenly got sick a couple days ago. The vet was out yesterday and not optimistic. However, we have thrown the kitchen sink of treatments at the goat and surprisingly, she ate a few leaves today. Not out of the woods, but eating is better than not!

Speaking of vets, our long-time cat/dog vet is retiring. Both dogs and cat got to see Dr. McKenzie one last time this week. Our ranch call vet at this time is willing to do basic maintenance with us for the dogs and cat, so that will actually be easier. If we need emergency care for the dogs or cat, we can go to Chico. For larger animals, all the way to Davis or Roseville (west or east of Sacramento — 2 hours one-way). At this time, all the animals look good except Chocolate, the sick goat. Grass is greening up, so they get more to eat. However, there are toxic things in the grass, too, like mushrooms that should not be eaten. We think that’s what happened to Chocolate.

The daily traffic on the road has been a steady stream of dump trucks and logging trucks going back and forth to Berry Creek — cleanup continues at a fast pace because we haven’t had much rain. There are traffic delays and one-way traffic all along the way to Oroville because they are taking all the trees down along the highway. We think they are overdoing it and actually taking some good trees, but in any case, many will sprout from the roots and create a new fire hazard in a few years because no one will come back to clean up after this clear-cut. What once was a scenic highway is now a heavily congested road through a clear-cut wasteland. This will probably go on for several years given the magnitude of the fire and what has to be rebuilt. Our little spot is kind of like an oasis now.

Soon, we will be on our 2021 quest for water … drilling another well and rebuilding the aqueduct that supplies ag and fire suppression water to us and our families along the creek.

Let There be Mushrooms!

For a birthday gift, David received a bunch of bags with mushroom spores. We spread them out yesterday in twelve, strategic locations (where there are no goats).

Varieties included four types of morel (white, blush, black and burn-scar), as well as porcini, oyster and reishi.

Depending upon weather conditions, they may make enough mycelial energy to fruit this Spring … otherwise, next Spring.

Go shrooms!

When Your Horn is a Pillow Prop

Right: Guru snoozes in the warm, Spring sunshine with his head resting on … his giant horns! ; Left Paul also snoozing with his head laid back so that his horn is a stabilizing prop against is body.

We would have liked to capture closer images from various angles, but they were sleeping so peacefully, we left them alone as we drove by on the tractor.

It wasn’t obvious to us how this was comfortable, but they were sound asleep with their heads propped by their horns — getting as much of the sun’s warmth as they could on their heads and necks.

Uh Oh! Stuper Bowl Sunday and the Wings Were Still on the Turkey …

… at least that’s how we started the morning.

We had our work cut out for us this morning, processing the tom turkeys we held over. Right there is 150 lbs of pasture-grazed turkey.

We have two sources of meat protein that we raise here, turkey and rabbit. The four birds in the picture will mostly be processed into sun-dried tomato/basil link sausage, ground turkey, and enchilada meat (smoked from the legs and wings; boiled off the bones). That, along with 3 whole hens already in the freezer, will supply us until next year.

We won’t be watching the football game, and instead of wings, there’s a nice breast of turkey roasting in the oven right now …

Goat Envy?

Here at Two Bucks Ranch, we usually post pictures, stories, guides and thoughts that originate here on the ranch.

But, every-once-in-awhile, we have fun sharing something fun, innovative or insightful.

When we saw this today in the “LA Times”, we felt a twinge of goat envy. We thought we did well getting our goats to cross water. We were stunned to see a goat on a surfboard!

Photo by: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

Brushing and Burning

Winter rainy season is the time to use fire.

Before: notice all the dead brush in the center piled up around a tree. In a real fire, this is an explosive torch, a fire ladder. We saw first-hand that ladders like this cause extreme fire behavior during a wildfire. This particular ladder was created from the top of a burned-out tree that fell after the fire this past fall.

After: Notice all the brush is gone and area is clear from the ground up for about 10 or more feet. The ladder is gone. Now we just have some firewood to pick up later.
Here’s where fire is our friend. It burns up all that brush on our terms. (A side note: after this pile was a hot bed of coals, the goat tribe came running down the path, right THROUGH the coals! I was traumatized, but their hooves looked okay. So I guess we have fire-walker goats. Unfortunately, these animals don’t seem to have an innate understanding of fire danger.)
Another way we use fire this time of year is to burn orchard prunings. In this photo, from left to right: prunings pile burning, a partially composted manure pile, a manure pile finished composting and ready to use, David scavenging for more things to put on the pile, and Faruk watching. You can see the pasture is just starting to show some green, which will help reduce pressure to feed hay to Lucy and her goat friends.

Updates and On-Going, Post-Fire Cleanup

This one-of-a-kind oak on the ranch, one that had fallen and then regrew trees from limbs …
… now lays in pieces on the upper ranch pasture. It was bulldozed away by CalFire during the fire.
This is what it looked like on the upper pasture before the fire and bulldozers … see the magic oak in the center?
Here’s what it look like today. All gone.
This is some of the tangled mass of brush and trees after the bulldozers cut the fire break in September.
Here’s what it looks like now, still in clean-up mode. We have about four more areas like this to clean up. Clean-up involves cutting the firewood out of the brush, then burning the brush. We will probably try to get the big root balls and tree roots into drainage ditches to slow erosion.

We haven’t posted much in the last few weeks … we’ve been outside cutting wood, hauling and burning brush, and cleaning up after the fire mess. There is a lot more to do. We had hoped to be doing improvements and building more fence this year, but turns out it’s clean-up and repair, instead. We are fortunate that no structures burned because we can do this clean-up ourselves, on our own time. We were at a neighbor’s place yesterday where buildings burned, and they can’t touch it because of county rules and insurance issues, so it looks just like it did right after the fire – it’s like they are frozen in disaster-land and can’t do anything about it, can’t move on. This is true for all who lost homes and structures on Sept 8. We mentioned previously that utility power has been restored most places, but AT&T landline service is still down.

In other news, for those waiting to hear about whether or not Lucy is pregnant, we “think” she is! If she misses her cycle this week, that will help us feel more certain. She usually sniffs on the big goat and tries to ride him when she’s cycling. We haven’t observed that behavior in the two past cycles since the artificial insemination. This week would be the third cycle time since AI.

Oh yes, our beautiful Christmas tree is still up in the big room. We are waiting for a rainy day to take it down. It’s still drinking water, so it looks almost as fresh as when we put it up.

Rainfall has been low this year, and all of California is again in a drought. Periodic, light rainfall has been a short-term blessing for our burn-scarred area … we sure are hoping to continue receiving periodic, light-to-moderate rainfall through May. The chart below shows historic and current rainfall amounts, by year and month.