Ernie, and his brother Bert are what is known as LGDs–large guard dogs.These two are Anatolian/Akbash mix with a little Pyrenees thrown in. They are still pups having celebrated their first birthday on June 7th. I suspect that they are 125lbs. + and will probably top out over 150. They are the most amazing dogs I’ve ever been around–raised with goats, they think they are goats, and they are very protective of their herd mates so to speak. I think they are aware of everything that happens on the ranch, keep the perimeter patrolled, and I doubt that anything or anyone could get between them and the goats unless I’m with the “interloper” Don’t think that I would want to keep goats on pasture without them, now that I’ve been able to watch them operate.
Well it certainly is summer time here on the Hunker Down. Triple digits on a daily basis for the past week or so. HOT,HOT,HOT. Get a little work done each day, but this old goat doesn’t handle the heat as well as he did 20-30 years ago working rock. Speaking of work, I’m in the process of putting the finishing touches on what is meant to be a combo garden tool shed and chicken coop, and fencing in a bit of a chicken pen. Today, I mounted a solar powered, light activated door so the hens won’t have to wait on my lazy butt getting up in the morning before they can get out to work. This is a “pullet shut” door manufactured by a little outfit down in Lockhart Texas, and it seems to be a well thought out piece of work.
Maybe, I’ll have everything ready for some birds by next week—chickens and a couple of guiney hens if I can stand all the noise. Supposedly, they are grasshopper eating machines, and though it is a little too late to save this springs garden, they might be a big help come this fall. That is if we ever get some rain around here. Last year we had 27 inches of rain between the first of the year and the end of August—I thought that the drought we had been in had finally broken. The tank was full, wild flowers everywhere, and everything nice and green. Then the rain stopped, and since then I doubt we have had 5 inches total. Last week, the last of the water in the tank disappeared, and we are supposedly in stage 4 watering restrictions. (I get the wet stuff from a SUD—metered water). Notice the tree and rock surrounded by water in the first picture, high and dry in the second. So, I’m trying to keep a few things alive—young fruit trees and some tomatoes, peppers and squash, but it is all fading fast. Odd thing though, we seem to be in the hole of a doughnut—there have been some pretty good rains all around us—3 or 4 inch rain when we get a tenth or so— but the squall lines separate just as they hit the Brown/ Colman county line just northwest of the Hunker Down, and slip on by to the northeast, or move due south and then east. Could have something to do with living in a dry precinct, I suppose.
Oh well, sometimes you’re the windshield and sometimes you’re the bug, and these days we are definitely the bug. Damn grasshopper hit me in the chest while walking across the yard the other day and knocked the wind right out of me. Afraid to see if it left a bruise—that’s all for now
Things have been rather busy—one might even say hectic –for the past few weeks here on the Hunker Down. One of the momma goats—a Nigerian Dwarf that we call double wide because of the shape she reaches in the later part of her pregnancy (wide as she is long)—gave me quadruplets this go round. Actually, she needed old JVC’s help since # 2 down the chute was ass backwards with only one rear leg out and hung up good. Guess I can check off reaching up into a goat’s birth canal to turn a baby and help it out from my bucket list, eh??. Wasn’t surprised when one more immediately followed, but when the forth came out, it was more than I was ready for. Anyway, watched momma and the kids real close for a couple of days, expecting I’d be needing to help her out some more. She was doing her best to nurse all 4, but I could tell that one ( #4 and the smallest) was having a hard time getting her share of momma’s bounty. So—after trying to help out by supplementing with bottle formula and not having any success at all since mom and her natural teat was much more preferable even for a hungry baby, we took two of the babies off of her.
Now the fun really began. I’ve got two hungry babies that had been on their mom for 4 days or so and they don’t want anything to do with that bottle. I mean, it was a real fight the four times a day we were trying to get some formula down them. Plus we were getting all sorts of conflicting advice by numerous goat “experts” such as they won’t ever take a bottle after being with their mother that long , don’t use the formula—use a concoction of condensed milk, whole milk and butter milk instead (that proved to be real popular—not) , to just persevere and they’ll finally come around. Well, that’s what we did, and after about 4 days of battle, one morning one of the kids took to the bottle like it was the most natural thing in the world, and by that evening, the other one had too. What a blessing that was. However, mixing formula and feeding 3 times a day now does take up a bit of time, and with them thinking I’m mom now, and following me (under foot actually)everywhere I go in the yard and garden, and hanging out on the porch when I’m in the cabin, I’m not getting much else done around here these days. But that really doesn’t matter—the important thing is that doublewide’s 4 babies (3 girls -1 little buckling) are all growing and healthy, and I’ve got plenty of entertainment right here in the front yard.
Since this is the very first post in this blog, I’ll attempt to bring my readers up to date on what has happened here on the Hunker Down during the past year.
Prior to moving to the ranch full time, I’d spent a good deal of time (and cash) building new fence on the south and west sides of the property – the intent being to keep a few goats to clear the heavy under growth and add a little meat to the freezer. Also acquired a 35 hp tractor with a few implements which has proven to be well worth the investment as I can accomplish a lot of work in a short amount of time with it, and at my age, time has become a valuable commodity.
The property came with a little two room cabin that is ample for my needs, but not so much for my lady friend so I suppose I either build onto it or suffer the consequences. That’s a project that will become a priority after the basics of a homestead are in place which should be fairly soon now. The goats have a pen and shelter, the garden area has been defined with some raised beds and more to come, and I’ve just finished building a combination garden tool shed and chicken coop–just need to fence in their pen area and that is a completed project. Also have a good sized hole in the ground which will eventually become a root cellar/storm shelter. And, the house yard and garden area is fenced off from the rest of the place so the goats and their LGDs can have the run of the place without getting up too close and personal.
That little thumbnail sketch essentially brings us up to date, –the various adventures getting here will find there way into the blog as time goes by.