The Sad Fact of Unreliable Farmeres


Time for more of a serious toned post today. Today’s subject is the unreliable nature of some, luckily very few, farmers. And maybe I shouldn’t even say farmers, instead I should use the term “farmer wannabes” because it is only the casual hobbyist farmer who I have had troubles with, never the large scale serious farmers. I have pondered for a few weeks whether to write this post or not and ultimately I’ve decided to write about it but to not use any real names, I feel this is a fair compromise between anonymity and living up to the word you give!

Two months ago I answered a post on UsedOttawa. A person was looking for a goat to keep her future new goat company. I emailed her and we started talking about Ruby here. While Ruby is an OK goat, she is too rough for my baby lambs and causes me trouble with Frankie so it is time for her to go to a new home. The person liked Ruby and wanted her on her farm, but could not take her until September. I said no problem as long as you give me a deposit… and she didn’t want to, citing no real reason. That was my first warning bell. I expressed concern about not having Ruby’s future set in stone and she reassured me that so long as she wasn’t sold by September she would give her a home.

Can you see where this story is going?

So I email her at the start of the month to make plans for dropping her off… and I receive no reply.
I send her another email a week later… and receive no reply. Not even a “sorry no longer interested” reply – just silence.

Finally today I’ve sent her a third email expressing my frustration at this situation. From what I can tell she has chosen to back out of our deal while not even having the cojones to tell me of her change in heart. How cruel, not only to break your word like that but to decimate the future security of this animal. I won’t be able to find a new home for Ruby enough to cover the costs I’ve invested in her thus far, and she simply can’t stay and encourage the other goats to escape during the winter, so it is looking like she will become some meals for us.

This isn’t the first situation where a wannabe farmer has become unreliable and affected me. A few months ago I responded to a UsedOttawa ad for free chickens: I gave the woman a call and said I’ll be there tomorrow for the chickens, she said OK. But when I got there she told me nonchalantly that she gave the chickens away the night before, and stood there saying nothing when I asked her why she didn’t call me to let me know. She lived all the way outside of Carleton Place and luckily I was in that area to get sheep supplies so my time wasn’t totally lost, but it was still a burden with no reward.

And then there’s the issue with my hay not being cut, and now my straw not being cut.

Because of these people, I’ve created a Boo Book, a list of people who I will not deal with in the future. If you choose to adopt an animal for my farm and want to see the Boo Book prior to dealing with your farmer, send me an email: I won’t publicize it but I will certainly share it with others.

Perhaps I simply expected more from people who live a farming lifestyle. Now I know that there are always unreliable folk no matter where you go or what you do. I’ve become just a bit more jaded in life. Maybe that’s a sign that I’m becoming more of a real-farmer than a wannabe-farmer.

The Frightened Goat

Since adding Lee to the farm, we have been able to see some new and interesting behaviour in all of the animals.

For example, the chickens all scamper away as if their feet were on fire, no matter if Lee is coming for them or not. The ugly red Silkie sometimes hangs out with the ducks because Lee won’t bother them (thanks to Mama Duck’s viciousness) but inevitably she will gradually freak more and more out at Lee’s presence and start running away. Which of course only makes Lee want to chase her, so she runs faster and faster until she makes it to the pasture fence. You really come to appreciate sayings like “you’re a chicken” when you actually see the animal act like it!

However I wasn’t expecting the goats’ reaction.

Observing Goats

First, they all band up in a group. Strength in numbers after all. You can see exactly where Lee is in this shot based on where all the goats are looking. For the most part they won’t start any trouble with Lee, except of course old Ruby who loves nothing more than to use the chance to antagonize the dog.

But then they do this:

Scared Ruby

The hair on their spine stands straight up! I would bet it’s the same reaction we have when we get scared – our skin tightens, the pores with hair tighten, the hair stands up. It’s interesting that it doesn’t occur anywhere else on the body, just the spine, and just a fine line of hairs.

We had never seen this Scared Goat Frill before as the goats were never perturbed or on edge prior to Lee’s arrival. It is funny and harmless to the goats. they are well safe behind the fence, and I expect over time they’ll stop doing this as they get used to Lee’s presence.

Onyx Frill

But for now it’s quite funny. Even Onyx does it, and you can see a bit of Amber in the background doing it too.

As for what I think – I’m just happy the goats know their place now. The fence I have is not at all good for mini goat kids, and Ruby sort of leads rebellious escape attempts to cross the road, because of course the grass on the other side of the road is ever so green. But now with Lee here they don’t really give going across the road a chance, in fact they stay behind the fenceline consistently cause they know if they are out when Lee sees them he will chase them till they go back. So it’s a win win situation nowadays, less drama on the farm and boy do I appreciate it!

Animal Update

I’ve been posting a lot about my growing veggies, but what about my growing animals?

The sheep are all enjoying the great weather and great pasture. Our new additions (Keelin, Macaroon, and Rolo) have all fit in perfectly. Macaroon is surprisingly bold – she is the ewe who is staring down Lee and stomping her feet at him, before going in for a sniff. Rolo is bold as well, but she’s more like Macaroon’s wing-girl. Keelin remains best friends with Price. I have yet to pet either of the two. I will be remedying this in the coming days!

The turkeys are loving it in the garden. They patrol around all day, eating bugs and greens. They are not eating my growing beans and peas and for that I am very glad! Plus all their walking helps keep the paths tame. I have finally cleaned out the basement and let me tell you, I have learned that I will never be doing that again- it’s brooder boxes and a brooder shack outdoors from this point on. But hey, we all do silly things from time to time.  Considering I’ll never be raising such a small number of birds from this point out, it wouldn’t be feasible doing it any other time but this year.

The chickens completely failed at raising any babies so far. The ducks are completely succeeding. Ducks win. Hands down.

Speaking of the ducks, you should see them now! They are all brown-chested with little bum feathers. They wiggle them around when they’re happy. Cutest thing in the world next to the “I’m wet” T-rex arm shaking. I expect they will be adorable when they start learning how to fly! Oh, Tom and I caught a really neat duck behaviour – a duckling fight. We think it was some dominance issue. They were charging into each other with their chests and wrapping around with their necks to nibble on each other’s arms. Eventually mom came over and broke things up, but not until after the ducklings had fought in the pool for a bit – maybe mom knows that cooler heads prevail?

Ruby might be finding a new home in September. There is a farm outside of Kanata who is interested in a mentor goat. That is one thing I’ve learned Ruby is great at, goat mentoring – she’s a good foster mom. But you have to keep an eye on her, else she’ll teach the younguns how to escape and cross the road. With proper fencing though she will be a great leader for raising other goats. I have come to respect her good temperament on a leash – it is nice having an animal come where you want it to go!

Nothing new is with Spirit. She is enjoying her haircut, and was puzzled by Lee’s presence, but now she’s back to her ho-hum style of life. She warned off more coyotes last night. She’s easily made her value known on this farm and has long since recouped her cost. I don’t know how many lambs I would have buried this year had it not been for her presence.

Everything is new with Lee! He is doing mighty fine considering he was a country dog. We went into Rockland today for supplies and he got to go into a local pet store, where we found his #1 favorite toy – the Kong Extreme rubber bouncy chew toy. You can put snacks into it! Lee loves to chase it around because it bounces around unpredictably. He’s a bit bored with his rope and ball, it’s too predictable, but the Kong he could play with all day. And surprise surprise, Lee already has a gist of the “drop” command, plus I’ve been working on his consistency in returning the toys to me (basically fetching without the command yet). Each day I’m learning how to read him a bit more, I can tell what sort of mood he’s in and that lets me provide for him better; in return he remains comfortable and content with his position as Gamma Dog and focuses on being a productive pack member who obeys what Alpha and Beta say. He is one heck of a smart cookie though – when I look into his eyes I kinda get the feeling like he’s a person stuck in a dog’s body. Then he does a dog thing like licking his butthole and I’m brought right back to reality! And then he does an awesome dog thing like rounding up the goat kiddies and making them go right back through the fence they waltzed through a second ago, saving me much time and running around. Way to go boy!

Harvest Monday and a pain in the butt

Harvest Monday

Here is today’s harvest! A yummy cauliflower weighing in at 750 grams, four zucchini flowers, and my usual picking of herbs and peppers. The cauliflower was made into a similar Cheesy Cauliflower as last week’s and I will be posting its recipe in the coming days.

Toms White Rolls

Tom made bread again. It’s the same old Julia Child White Bread recipe, but this time he shaped it into little rolls. They came out looking like mini sub buns:

Toms Rolls Done

And they were delicious! Total cost: quite negligible actually. Certainly under 75 cents and probably under 50.

As for today’s pain in the butt – yes it finally happened, Frankie got the better of me. I was dumb, I was a bit flustered this morning with all the tasks to do and I forgot to chain him up while working in the field. While heading back to the barn, WHA-BAM! It felt like a quarterback slamming into me. Thankfully I didn’t fall, in fact I didn’t really get hurt as his horns were exactly parallel with where he hit (lower back). I might be a bit stiff tomorrow but I don’t think it’ll be anything serous.

But boy have I learned my lesson. Ram pen time! That way I can go out in the field and enjoy my sheep and lambs without fear of such incidents happening. Once I got Frankie chained up, I did exactly this. Sadly those photos were totally bleached, thanks camera. My new ewe, Keelin, who had her ear injured on Saturday is doing very well, her ear looks totally fine now albeit split in two. Volcano God still doesn’t respond to his name and I doubt he ever will. But he does come up for snuggles, which I enjoy, as his fleece is so amazingly soft and surprisingly not very crimpy at all. Power Blaster remains an attention seeker and is such a little chunky monkey. Well not really little – he’s more than three quarters as large as his mom!

The goats were super testy this past weekend. They were constantly going over across the road to eat the grass on the other side. Even though our street is a 50 kph zone, many cars go ripping down it at much higher speeds. These two things are not a good combination. So we mended up the barn a bit and put the goats in the birthing pen. We are feeding them and visiting them often, but they still feel a bit sad about it. Oh well goats, this is your happening!

Amber and Onyx, our new miniature goat kids

The kiddies

How cute! My mother surprised me with these two adorable miniature goat kids. Well actually we picked them out from their family of four siblings, but you get the idea.

We already have one full grown miniature goat named Ruby, so we decided to keep going with that name theme. The kid in the foreground is a wether named Onyx and in the background is his sister Amber.

We set them up in the lambing pen to hang out for a few days, and within minutes Ruby was over seeing what was up. Now that we’ve let them out with the rest of the flock, the two kids tend to stay around Ruby. Hopefully this will help keep Ruby on her feet and thus working off that extra weight she has.

I can say for sure though that baby goat chins are one of the softest things around! We’re getting the kids used to being handled and hand-fed in anticipation of being pet and loved by more than just Tom and I. Speaking of Tom, he wanted me to post this cute picture of him and the kids:

Tom and the kiddies

And one last shot showing just how much the kids love to frolic around: