Off in the Oleanders …

In California, there’s a saying … “He’s off in the oleanders again!” That’s sort of like saying “he’s off in the weeds again”. If one drives down a divided highway in California, the median is often a hedge of oleander bushes. They are extremely drought tolerant. And if one is absent-minded or a bit off, then one may find oneself in the oleanders.

David and Neil have been off in the oleanders this week. (Be kind in the comments, please!)

Previous owners of the ranch planted a long hedge of oleanders along the highway to reduce visibility and noise. The row is several hundred feet long on the north side of the ranch road frontage. There are eighty (80) plants. They haven’t been properly trimmed in decades. They are encroaching on the highway and are a fire hazard in their current, overgrown state.

So far, we are about half-finished with this chore and David has hauled 2 tons of prunings to the green waste facility. Oleanders are extremely toxic and we can’t re-use them here.

  • An oleander hedge along a highway, 1/2 of it is trimmed short, the rest is tall and bushy
  • An oleander hedge along a highway, 1/2 of it is trimmed short, the rest is tall and bushy
  • An oleander hedge along a highway, 1/2 of it is trimmed short, the rest is tall and bushy
  • An oleander hedge along a highway, 1/2 of it is trimmed short, the rest is tall and bushy
  • A truck and dump trailer loaded with brush and covered with a tarp.

Pruning these things is hard work and time-consuming! No landscape company or arborist was willing to do it, so we are stuck with it. (Most all available arborists are busy clearing Berry Creek after the fire). It takes about a day to cut, haul, cut some more, stuff into a trailer and haul away 15 plants-worth of prunings. We are “almost” half-done.

Oleanders do bloom — white, pink, red, purple — but the blossoms are also poisonous so they are useless for insects and birds (actually, deadly, but they avoid them). We would never have planted them, but now that they are here, they have a useful utility. We would rather have a hedge of azaleas, but they consume too much water.

Two for Maggie, Too

Maggie is the registered Nubian (milk goat) given to our care after dogs killed her mother and brother a couple years ago.

Today, she produced two, healthy kids.

She did need a little help with the first one, a buckling (one leg was positioned wrong and he wasn’t getting out). After that bit of trauma, it appeared she was finished — but she wasn’t! About thirty minutes later, out popped the little doeling!

The buck mated to Maggie is also a registered Nubian, so these two are the first, purebred goats born at Two Bucks Ranch. Newborn video and photos below.

The first-born was already dry and napping in the background when the second one showed up a half-hour later, to our happy surprise. All three are doing well.

Note: Maggie’s horns were disbudded (removed) when she was a kid. We will let her two kids keep their horns. Here is a link to a short article about disbudding pros and cons:

After Starts to Increase after Two Days
Hi Big Dog!

Countdown to Kidding 2021

We have two goats expected to kid any day now. They are GG and Maggie, pictured below. Both of these are milk goats, so David’s milking workload will triple if all goes well (he’s still milking Daisy, and has been for a year). By the looks of GG, she may have two or more in her giant belly, so maybe not a lot of extra milk there for a while.

GG’s belly balloons out on both sides. She also began to grow her classic, Alpine beard during this pregnancy.

Here are some additional pictures from last evening as they all gathered to be tucked away in their stalls for the night.

  • a young goat in a stable hallway
  • young goat with head in a blue bucket
  • a miniature jersey cow in front of a gate with two goats
  • head profile of a brown and white goat with horns

All the goats got their quarterly hoof trimming this week. There’s more green grass growing, and they are all looking good. Chocolate has recovered from her illness, as has Toy Story, and hopefully no more overly toxic food surprises out there for any of them. If you haven’t seen Twinkle’s contortion skills, check her out here:

March Snowfall

A few days ago, we planted our new vineyard (50 vines). Today we get to watch beauty from inside.

This is the second-largest snowfall we’ve ever experienced here. It’s great — big, fluffy flakes, puts icing on the trees, and then vanishes by noon. A magical treat when Mother Nature does it like this.

Oops. Shortly after I posted this, the power went out, so the snow apparently stuck in higher elevations and took down one of the new lines. Less peaceful now with generator roar. They expect power back on in 3 or 4 hours.

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.

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