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Two Checks off the Bucket List

We did it. We completed two huge milestones in a single week.

First, and foremost for me was a huge accomplishment. I finished writing my book and handed it in. Bet the Farm: Risk and Reward on an American Ranch is about the economics of agriculture, told through our story of moving to the farm. It should be out this fall and I am thrilled to have it done and to feel like I did a good job.

Writing a book also feels like perhaps the biggest bucket list accomplishment of my life. It's a long slog to sit down every day to write, and it took a slow and steady mindset that I don't usually have. The project was a huge commitment and I feel proud to have finished it. But I also feel very tired this week (and have little motivation for anything but a nap) - and well, writing a blog is more writing.

I won't delay then in telling you the second milestone for Whippoorwill Creek Farm: goats. We were supposed to pick them up last fall, but I panicked in that there was no way I would have time to take care of goats while writing a book. So we postponed until the spring, and yesterday was pickup day.

Goats in their "new" goat house on the farm

Their job will be to mow down all of the noxious invasive weeds -- goats will "browse" (eat plants higher off the ground) honey locust, honeysuckle, mustard garlic and multiflora rose, which the cattle do not touch. This will help clear out the forest understory to make it more of what it once was, forests with a taller canopy and open areas between trees, a habitat that will once again favor the Whippoorwill.

When the does (or nannies) have kids, we will sell the wethers (boys) as meat goats, and the girls will stay on to continue the forest clearing. Although selling cute goats as meat will be challenging for my tender soul, part of what I am excited about is to meet different groups in the area who eat goat, like the Ethiopian restaurant owners I met in Ottumwa (about 45 minutes away).

The new Kiko goats enjoying a wet spring

But the doelings won't be pregnant for another year as we have decided that we want to kid in March, so Mr. Buckling will arrive on the scene in October (it takes about 5 months for goat pregnancies). We will keep them separated for a couple of weeks, just to get everybody good and wound up, and then he will be turned in with the does in early/mid November. With a ratio of 12 girls to 1 boy, the job should be done by the second day, but we will give them some time for afterglow and a second chance in case something didn't take. Ah, love.

But back to the present. Their arrival to the farm was mostly uneventful - we backed up the trailer and they walked into their new home. We converted an 80-year old hog building into their new digs, and built a fence around it.

Part of the fence is made up of portable electric netting so that we get them used to it. In a few weeks then, we will put them out on the farm in places that need their special weed focused attention (with the electric fence as their boundary). Aside from one brief encounter between the electric fence and Snooks (she won't do that again!) things have been mostly quiet.

Bucket list item two: get goats. Check.

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