Homestead Happenings: To Be, or Not to Be, That Neighbor

You have to get pretty far out in the boonies to get the most tolerant neighbors. I think that’s a good thing. Usually.

Life has gotten even quieter here in the boonies in the last few years. The popular hype would have it that city folk are moving to the countryside in droves. While that may be so, the evidence is still wanting, at least around here.

It would seem the weekenders have less time, or energy, to practice their Sunday “Guns for God” rituals that used to attract them to these parts at regular intervals, in search of target practice.

In this, and other tolerance-mandatory moments, I have not always been as tolerant as the situation has required, I admit.

One time I recall a pick-up truck of ill-mannered miscreants, rifles in hand, showing up at our gate while Hubby was at work and announcing they would be hunting wild hog at the creek which is our property line, and I should let them come in through our gate for that purpose.

I put on my best ‘down home girl’ accent, which most likely fooled precisely no one, and said, “Ain’t no hogs down there darlin’s, creek’s nearly dry, can’t ya see!”

I so wanted to take that opportune moment to educate my derelict audience in the practice of deliberate drought by weather modification, but in reading the room, I decided against it.

“Best y’all get ya’s further down the Trinity valley,” I offered instead.

I know it wasn’t the fake drawl, and I had no gun on me, so I’m figurin’ it was my no-nonsense demeanor that got to ‘em. Not only did they not get through our gate, but they must’ve moved their shindig to other parts, ‘cause they moseyed on, I expect to more cooperative (aka, tolerant) locales.

Ain’t seen ‘em back since.

And then there’s the dogs, always the dogs. Owners are always losing their hunting dogs, even with them fancy tracking devices on ‘em. One time one frightened cutey found his way here and I trapped him, gave him a nice lavender bath ‘cause the poor dear stunk to high heaven, and waited for the owner to come a callin’, which he did, commenting on the dog’s unwelcome new fragrance.

Some assholes actually drop off the dogs they don’t want on our country roads. Can you believe that?!

And as if that’s not bad enough, sometimes your own neighbors are the problem.

When you lose half your flock of chickens to a sneaky dog your neighbor adores, and you caught him red-handed on candid camera, but the neighbor still insists it’s ‘your problem’, tension tends to develop.

Especially if you are me.

I’m like an angry, barking squirrel when I lose my patience, I get that. I’d try to correct that clear character flaw if it weren’t something I was proud of and have worked at developing so consistently.

But still, I can’t stand by and witness hypocrisy, even, or maybe especially, if it’s my own.

And now, it comes around, as our neighbors, few and quiet as they mostly are, have our livestock guard dogs, who think the entire county is their personal protection zone, annoying them with border barking patrols, all night long.

Let sleeping dogs lie? Hardly! The whole county gets a taste of their actions after midnight!

I want to send them an exasperated message—I’m so sorry—they are not respecting their boundaries! We don’t want to be ‘that’ neighbor, really!

But in our defense, not even the electric fence stops them! We are at our wit’s end trying to solve this issue!

Thank you for your patience!

Thankfully for us, our neighbors are so tolerant they don’t even have the decency to complain.

And as if that wasn’t enough. All my best laid plans of goats and cheeses are dwindling.

Summer, herd queen, always taking the high ground, with Phoebe and Chestnut cowering nearby. A definite love-hate relationship.

The goats have declared mutiny. We already had a misfit crew: Summer the Eldest, herd queen, a belligerent, bossy bitch who terrorizes the rest of the herd with her monster horns, yet who they follow everywhere; Chestnut the Crazy, who is super-skittish and a first-freshener and more moody than a teenage girl; and Phoebe the Squatter, another first-freshener, who is the most stubborn goat on earth, I’m certain.

These horns were meant for knockin’, and that’s just what they’ll do . . .
“But, but, but . . . can’t you see how cute and innocent we are?”

I’ve been watching YouTubes and reading up for months now and I can say that not one goat I’ve seen can match Phoebe in out-right belligerence and deceptive tactics. She’ll jump right up on that stand, give you a singular taste of cooperation, only to . . .BAM . . .lay right down on the job as soon as I get my bucket in position.

And go figure, that is not among the prize characteristics showcased at the 4-H or any other of the breeding clubs.

My goat guru offered the most obvious of advice, “You must be more stubborn than the goat!”

Honestly, I thought my stubbornness to be among my most obvious and enviable characteristics, inherited from my mother. I then deliberately married a very stubborn man, who also inherited his stubbornness from his mother. We’re like five generations of stubborn in one.

And yet, we are like the impetuous novices in comparison to truly goat-level stubborness. I must humbly admit, I’ve been defeated. My cheese-making days are on the wane, maybe for many more months, just when I was really getting into the swing of things.

Alas, the simple life is really not that simple.

Good bye fair cheeses, may we meet again!

Author: KenshoHomestead

Creatively working toward self-sufficiency on the land.

9 thoughts on “Homestead Happenings: To Be, or Not to Be, That Neighbor”

  1. Your reminiscing is helpful Highlander and much appreciated! I did get some nice alfalfa and had total sticker shock. Wow! Over $40 for a small square bail. I can’t imagine bottle feeding so many kids and milking so many moms, holy moly, that was real work!

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  2. What is “the boonies” can be subjective. Sine you do not see the purported flock to the outskirts of civilization, I need to point out that many urbanites define the suburbs as “the boonies”. Others think the boonies is anywhere that requires a car to go shopping, and others consider anything outside of main street the boonies.

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  3. your welcome. always glad to give what little advise i have from memory. They are a trip. Autistic children. any change of routine can make them go goofy. they like routine and demand it. vocally sometimes and other times with a temper tantrum. as your learning the hard way. they can be difficult even when your doing everything exactly right.

    hobbles work for kickers. we had railings on our stanchion with a seat belt so we could literally stop them from squatting and for kicking we could tie their legs down with velcro straps. home made. . and a rope tied to the railings. they quick kicking eventually and learn to enjoy being milked after time. spoiled children they are.

    Chestnut drying up for a new doe is not uncommon. you didn’t notice anything in the milk like a mastitis. no blood or chunks? she just quit producing. it will happen with a doe who just freshened sometimes. not produce enough for her kid. by the 2nd breeding she will be much bigger capacity. 3rd and 4th year an old veteran and producing to capacity.

    I would rebreed them. we tried that once. continuing to milk but its less and less and less on its own. the doe knows and quits no matter what we want. for more capacity. alfalfa hay good quality if you can find it. and i fed baking soda in a pan it is for bloat. goats will lick it up as they need it. fun to watch they look like they are snorting something else…they look like junkies with a white nose! and i free fed minerals. the biggest one was baking soda. i buy it from the feed store in the 50 pound bags. so if the alfalfa gives them a little too much gas the baking soda corrects it.

    next batch of kids you can try taking them from their mothers within 3 days. let them get colostrum and then milk the mothers and bottle feed. you would have to milk regularly and feed the kids a bottle. we used a pop bottle. one of those plastic 24 ounce ones. you can buy the goat nipples and train them to bottle. they fight a bit at first the kids and then they get used to it and then love it. and you have tame bottle babies easy to handle and easy to train. the mothers then get into a routine of regular twice a day milking. the left over milk you get!

    i do have fond memories. we had 35 kids one year! the does almost all had twins. all we did was milk…bottle feed and milk. and feeding 35 kids was hard. had to have a place to put them during feeding or all of them wanted the 1 bottle. we brought out the jars full of milk and refilled them in the barn. feeding 4 at a time. two for me and two for my husband. letting them out to the pasture during the day to play was fun to watch….they are very creative in their play. and stumps were a toy. jumping from one to the other like a goat jungle gym…we made tables , stumps. a slide. all kids of toys and they used them. and came running when we called them as we were ‘mama’ nipple knees. from their height they would always try and nurse my pant legs. so funny.

    we dehorned all of ours. we had to many and it became dangerous with the horns and getting hit with them.

    i hope my old time reminiscing helps. not an expert but have been through a lot with them.

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  4. Thanks so much for sharing Highlander! We have seen some of those ‘cradles’ and thought about trying that. We did try bucket underneath her, and a wooden ‘poker’ sort of contraption, and for a while that seemed like it was working. That’s the thing! This was all getting under control several weeks ago and I was milking all 3 of them and while it was a challenge and Hubby had to help me, at least it was getting done. And then mutiny!

    Suddenly all at once, even Summer, refused to be milked. Luckily with Summer that lasted only one day. I changed the routine, and I wonder if that was part of it? I had separated the kids totally for about a month. Then I put them all back together again, and the kids went right back to nursing, which was fine with me, I just separated them at night, so I could milk in the morning. That’s when things started to go really downhill. Summer is fine with it, but not the other two. It’s not just squatting, it’s full on kicking and became impossible. But the kids were still nursing, and I’d manage to get a few squirts on the stand between their maneuverings. Then, literally overnight, Chestnut totally dried up! Is that normal? Now Phoebe is nursing her 2 still, but not allowing milking.

    My goal was to not freshen them this year, but to keep milking until next year. I’ve read this could be done. Now I’ve changed my mind and even though it is so late in the season I will send Phoebe and Chestnut to freshening camp and keep Summer with the kids.

    So appreciate your expertise, please do offer any more insights! What a challenge and adventure indeed, glad you still have some fond memories! 😆

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  5. i wanted to add a thing. my husband put railings on our milking stanchion and he put a seat belt on it to wrap around the belly of the goat and keep them up so they don’t lay down. just in front of the udders. it worked well for our young goats. the new milkers. all our older girls were trained to the point they lined up at the door in the order of their milking. we had 25 goats at the time and 15 milkers. they had an order. they did it not us. we didn’t care who came in first but they did..

    another thing he did was make a wood cradle to put under the belly. the minute the head is locked in the head gate the belly cradle went in under the belly and in front of the udder. it was big enough to be like a stool almost except they can’t lay down…they can rest their belly on it but it doesn’t stop the udders from being milked.

    i forgot all about that contraption my husband made. he was the main milker and i did the cleaning of equipment and filtering. cooling, jarring. we sold the milk to a lot of different people. until we couldn’t do it anymore. physically. hands don’t bend well anymore. makes it hard to hold a teat right. it has been several years. what an adventure that was!!

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  6. you will probably think me cruel but i put a fork under my goat that did that. not a sharp one. plastic she hit that pulled her belly back up….She did not know what was hitting her belly and that is the tender part that they usually protect. ….She hit it again…and again. and again. didn’t do harm. no cuts. just the pressure of that on her belly was enough to get her to quit doing it.

    you know those plastic utensils from picnic area. those. plus i had a nice big one i bought at the dollar store…big plastic fork …looks like it was used for bbq or maybe it was a salad fork. or should be though i think it would melt. it was rounded tips… set it with the end of it under her and the handle part on the wood platform. the pointy part straight up to the belly. she went to drop her belly and hit that and didn’t do it again…okay took 4 or 5 times. every time she milked we did that and after 10 days or so no more problem. she learned that wasn’t so much fun after all.

    when we were done milking she got a special treat. a flake of alfalfa cut into quarters. a good milking meant good yummies….being mean she didn’t get her treat. they learn fast.

    when we started training a new goat. we started with holding her still by the collar. we kept dog collars on them all. big ones so they left a tongue to get a hold of. rub her udders….if she bucks and kicks i keep at it until she stops…give her a handful of grain….do it again…and again…and again…pressure and release. they got grain only when they had a successful milking. or behaved
    started with handfuls and then worked up to a pan. i got to where i could milk them outside anywhere. as long as they got their reward….i got my milk….

    if your goat is super stubborn. a bullet in brain pan…process the hide for kid gloves…and feed the rest to the dogs….cooked of course and ground up.

    i sympathize. i got too old to do the schooling they needed.

    if your quick with the treat…they learn really really fast!! as good as a smart dog!!

    they can and do jump up and down on your patience button!! while chewing their cud….look right at you when they do it…cheeks get puffy and they stare at you !! lol….

    I miss my goats sometimes….and watching yours…i don’t miss them at all!! hahaha….

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