The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Cold Weather Complications

February 12th, 2018 by Ed Bruske

I’m sure it’s karma. We gloated when we installed a new, top-of-the-line water hydrant next to the livestock paddock. No longer would we have worry about the water freezing in the middle of winter. And we were rewarded for digging up the old hydrant–until a few weeks ago. For no apparent reason, the new hydrant froze solid and we ate crow. We’re back to hauling water in five-gallon buckets from the kitchen sink. Many times a day do we haul.

That’s not our only winter woe. January thaws followed by arctic blasts left a skating rink where we normally water the animals. The water troughs were surrounded by ice, and I realized the sheep and cows weren’t drinking because they were afraid of falling. We keep the water liquid with electric heating elements that sit at the bottom of the troughs. Fortunately, there was just enough play in one extension cord to move one of the troughs to a safe spot. Of course the rest of the cord was frozen in a coil under the ice.

I had also prided myself two years ago on a decision to install an electric heater on my diesel tractor engine so I could get it started in the coldest temperatures. er Diesel engines don’t like cold. I think I had used this new piece of equipment twice before it, too, gave up the ghost a few weeks ago. The tractor is so handy at moving snow. Now I’m back to shoveling by hand.

All of which goes to say that this winter is a bit harder than we’d like because our gadgets have failed. The body aches. I often wonder how farmers coped before all these modern conveniences. Now I know: with difficulty.


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Astounding Goat Break-In

October 9th, 2017 by Ed Bruske

It began with a knock on the door.

“Have you lost a goat?” asked a neighbor who lives down the road. “A small white one with a big yellow ear tag?”

I couldn’t imagine how one of our goats might have gotten loose. More importantly, our goats don’t wear ear tags. But I agreed  to follow our neighbor back to his house for a look. Sure enough, there was this buckling–about six months old–peering at us from the yard and ready to run if we took one step in his direction. He looked just like our own buck–Tigger–who had bolted from our property just minutes after we brought him home from the breeder four years ago. Tigger was missing a whole month before a neighbor pointed us to a vacant home nearby where the runaway had taken up residence. It took me further weeks of offering him grain to gain his trust and finally recapture him.

I explained to the neighbor how difficult it would be to nab the latest escapee. I suggested he call the sheriff, then drove into town to run some errands.

Less than an hour later I returned home to the strangest sight. There standing outside our goat shelter was this very same little goat with the yellow ear tag. Not only had he found his way up the hill to our herd of goats, he’d somehow gotten inside our electric fencing. It was the first I’d ever heard of a goat breaking into a farm.

I had no time to deal with him as I was scheduled to leave town on other business the following morning. Next thing I heard, our new friend was jumping our fences at will and causing all kinds of consternation. The last thing we need in mating season is an interloping, sexed-up buckling crashing our herd. Our goats are normally well behaved. They don’t even try to escape.

I told my wife that if we couldn’t find someone to take the goat away I might have to shoot it when I returned. My wife made a beeline for the village liquor store, which acts as a hub for local news and gossip. The owner immediately posted the story of the runaway goat on the store’s Facebook page. Within minutes, a woman on the other side of town replied that the same white buckling had been hanging around her house five days earlier. She assumed it had gotten loose from the auction barn not too distant.

Sure enough, when my wife called the auction house she learned that a buckling with that ear tag escaped the previous Tuesday after being sold. The owner was now empty handed; the goat had wandered some five miles to find us.

Two days later, to our great relief, employees from the auction barn arrived to try and apprehend the escapee. Our clever daughter used one of our fetching females to lure the miscreant through a gate into the main paddock where he was chased into corner and snagged.

Last time I looked, we had no strange goats on our pastures. But around here you never know….

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