Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Buster's New Home

      Towards the back of our property there is an old shed.  The previous owners had once used it for cattle, but that had been a number of years ago.  It was pretty nasty on the inside, filled with old junk and cow manure.  I got to looking at the shed and found that it was more structurally sound than it had appeared to be. The west wall of the shed is indeed dilapidated and needs to be replaced, but the rest of the building is reasonably sound. I decided that it was worth rehabilitating the shed to serve as housing for our goat, Buster, ands whatever other animals we eventually collect.  I'm thinking about eventually doing sheep and maybe pigs.

     My daughter, Rachel, and her family visited us this past weekend.  Her husband, Chet did some serious lobbying for favorite son-in-law status as he spent most of this past Saturday helping me clean out the old shed to make it useable. The first order of business was to pull out most of the junk and wood.  After we had cleared out most of the interior, we moved one of the interior support posts so it was lined up with a second support post. Then we installed a third support post.  We attached heavy duty cattle panels to the posts to create a pen.  Yesterday and today I made and installed a gate for the pen. The pen was finally completed this afternoon.

     The last task was to remove the piece of fencing that blocked Buster's access to the barn.  I had Buster's full undivided attention while I worked on this.  I don't think he was focused on the barn entrance as much as he was on the vines which grew around the barn entrance.  Once the fencing was down, Buster immediately plunged through the opening and happily began munching on the vines.  However, a few minutes later he did notice the entrance to the barn and went inside to check out the space.  He seemed happy with the place although I'm not very good at translating goat bleats.  The place still needs to be cleaned up a bit more and could use a few bales of fresh straw.  I will also need to replace the western wall before winter comes.  In spite of the work remaining to be done I'm happy to declare victory of the time being.


Buster's New Home

Homemade Gate

Sunday, September 4, 2016

A New Place in the Sun

    I apologize for the lack of posts over the past six months. Frankly, I was too involved with preparing a house for sale, selling a house, buying a house, and moving all of our household goods to our new home in West Richland, Washington.   The move was very painful for me. It was difficult to move away from dear friends and to leave my fruit trees, grape vines, and vegetable gardens behind. It was also painful to forego having a vegetable garden this year.  However, there is also a lot of up side to the move.

     First of all, it is much cheaper to live over here.  We were able to buy more house for less money on three irrigated acres.  The cost of many things have decreased significantly, such as trash pickup, electricity, and car insurance.  Since we are trying to actually retire, living life a little more cheaply makes a lot of sense.  Secondly,  it is very nice being closer to my extended family, most of whom live in the Tri City area.  It is particularly nice for my 84 year old mother to live closer to more of her children.  Third, I can grow a lot of things in eastern Washington that I could never have grown in western Washington, such as watermelons and other heat loving vegetables and fruits.  Other things are simply a lot easier to grow here such as tomatoes, grapes and cherries.  I am really looking forward to next year's vegetable garden.  While it is painful to start over with grape vines and fruit trees, I have a much bigger area here for such things. Lastly, at some point, after the sale of the bee store, I will have room to raise a small flock of sheep and to raise some pigs. At least that is the plan for now.

      This past week I finally brought our pygora goat, Buster, to his new home.  Friends in Snohomish had been goat sitting Buster for the past few months.  Buster's welcome there had started to wear thin due to his escape artist ways.  Fortunately, I had a seriously goat proof  pasture all ready for him.  I loaded him up on Wednesday evening and drove him over the mountains to his new home.  The trip went well.  Adjusting to his new home did not go as well. Unfortunately, Buster had a traumatic experience with a few dogs while at the goat sitters.  This made him very nervous about our dog. Allie, and Oreo, the little dog we are currently watching for our daughter.  Buster panicked when he saw the dogs, and ran into the well house, breaking a pvc pipe connection that caused a two and a half day water outage.  We just finally got the water back on in the house late Saturday afternoon.  The irrigation water wasn't interrupted as that is a separate system. However,  things were a bit inconvenient for a few days.

      We were real fortunate to have a new friend from church who is a retired plumber.  We were also fortunate in that the repair process lead us to discover that the bladder in one of the pressure tanks had started to leak.  A few days ago, I wouldn't have even known why that was significant. I have learned a little bit about plumbing and wells over the past few days. The pressure tanks provide water pressure but they also help protect the well pump by reducing the number of times the pump has to turn on and off.  Apparently, starting and stopping are harder on a submerged pump that continuous running.  Having two working pressure tanks extends the life of the well pump, which is a much more expensive repair.  I'm still not feeling grateful to Buster, but it may have been a good thing that we had to fix the water system.

      One thing I have really enjoyed about our move is our new dog.  Allie is a English Setter, about ten years old, who we ended up adopting from the prior owner of the property.  It only took a few weeks of regular walks for Allie to figure out that she was my dog.  When she is off leash and we're sitting out front, Allie isn't content until she can find a place to lay down or sit next to me. She is very well behaved but seems to have a few quirks.  First of all, she rarely barks.  I have only heard her bark once since we have had her.  That lone bark happened when Mrs Buzz Saw hissed at her.  Her previous owner told me that she will bark at coyotes if they are at the back fence.  We have taken her to the Columbia River a few times where we learned that she doesn't like to swim but enjoys wading.  She also doesn't seem to know how to fetch.  When I'm walking Allie, I have to hold the leash in my right hand and she has to walk on my right side.  If I transfer the leash to my left hand, Allie will circle around behind and come back to my right side.

     I try to walk the dogs first thing every morning that I am home. It gives me some incentive to get a little more exercise.  I have been walking them along the canal road which doesn't have very much vehicle traffic.  The climax of the walk for Allie is when she finds some quail, which she usually does.  There are quite a few quail living in the vicinity of the canal and we have seen as many as 70 on one walk.  When she smells the birds, she immediately comes to attention and goes into stalk mode.