Yoga With Goats

This morning’s paper had yet another article extolling the virtues of yoga and meditation. I’m one of the many who have recently started going to a yoga class, but I’m not there because of what is in the news. I go because my physical therapist gave up on me and said, “go do yoga.” I need the slow stretching. I don’t enjoy it. I’d rather not do it. But, that’s probably why my body is tied up in knots. If I liked stretching, I’d have taken better care of my muscles for the last 30 years. Anyway, the gentle exercise does seem to make me feel less achy. I have a tad more freedom of movement. I’m not yet a convert, but I’m giving the yoga class a chance. What I truly can’t abide, though, is the fifteen minutes of quiet meditation at the end of the session. It makes me tense.

I would much rather mediate with my goats. Taking them out to graze does for me what I imagine all of that chanting does for true yoga types: it calms me. It centers me. It quiets my mind.

See how peaceful it is?

I stare off into the woods in a state of blissful calm.

The goats don’t necessarily share my mindset, but I breathe calmly nonetheless.

The goats lead me over to the mint and lavender for some aromatherapy. As they chew, the scent wafts up on the breeze. Pip suggests that roses would be healing, but I do some strength training instead.

I also get in stretching.

The boys show me their “downward goat” position.

Pip is in a state of bliss that I try to emulate.

But he’s a yoga master. I’m just a beginner.

A Full Crop

As I mentioned in the previous post, the girls have been doing some gardening in the pumpkin patch. Beryl was a particularly big eater hard worker.

Buff Orpingtons are curvaceous hens (the breed standard calls for a “deep and massive body.”) A Buff O looks rather like the big fat hen illustrated in old children’s books.

Here is a side-view of Beryl’s voluptuous physique. Although she wasn’t exactly svelte to begin with, twenty minutes in the pumpkin patch plumped her right out.

Beryl has recently finished molting, so she looks especially soft and full. I think that this season’s two-toned winter coat is quite stylish.

Sometimes people new to chickens don’t realize how much a hen can down in a short period of time. They don’t understand that the first stop along the way is an expandable pouch at the base of the neck called the crop. I’ve had people email in a panic, thinking that their hens had tumors.

Rest assured, she’s simply had a lot to eat.

A full crop is not an impacted crop. Sometimes what a hen eats becomes a compacted mass in the crop which can’t then proceed further down the intestinal tract. Any one item, eaten to excess, can cause impacted crops. This is one reason why it’s good for hens to work for their treats (and not to down a handful of corn in one feeding frenzy) and to consume a variety of foodstuffs. Long and tough foods are problematic. Grass clippings, strands of meadow grass, scallions, and sunflower seeds with hulls, can all lead to impaction, especially if gorged on when the crop is empty. (This is why I like my hens to eat a breakfast of laying hen pellets before going off to forage.)  If the crop is impacted then the hen can’t eat of drink. She’ll quickly look distressed. She might become listless. She might stretch her neck up and gape. Gently massaging the crop, and getting a bit of olive oil down there (read this post and watch the video on dosing a hen) can help.


The Chickens Garden

Now that the growing season is over, it’s time to put the girls to work. Despite neglecting my pumpkin patch all summer, somehow I harvested a bumper crop of butternut squash, but I also grew a tangle of weeds, which fell over after the first hard frost and then become covered in fallen leaves. The garden needs a thorough cleanup. I could rake and dig, but instead I asked the girls to lend a hand.

Or, rather, lend their feet.


And their voracious appetites

I showed them to the patch, where they all eagerly set to, shredding the weeds into a fine dust and eating the grubs that had burrowed down to overwinter. Even Pearl, who is a tad overdressed for farm labor, went right to work.

The hens are not methodical, no double-digging in straight rows for them! Rather, they leave patches of perfect earth.

The girls will continue to have forays into the garden all winter long. There will be a break when there’s snow, but otherwise they’ll get this job done bit by bit. The pumpkin patch should be in good shape by the time it’s planting season again next year.


Chic Chick Decor

I tend towards understated table settings. I’ll spiff up the house (and take the dog sheet off of the chair) for a party, and even enjoy decorating, but I don’t tend do elaborate homemade centerpieces and crafts. I like understated. This year, though, I fell in love with the silvered pumpkins at Pottery Barn. I had a coupon. I splurged. But, after bringing home what seemed like a bushel of pumpkins, once on the table I needed something more. Luckily, Steve and the teenage son were cleaning out the basement and brought a chick feeder upstairs. New! Clean! It was just what I needed for the tablescape.

Filled with tea light candles, it cast a cheerful and whimsical light on the party.

So, if you’re getting chicks this spring you might want to get your supplies early. Galvanized feeders are in style this year.

Pie Before & After

For two days I baked and baked. The final tally was fourteen pies of twelve varieties. I made three different crusts, plus the mashed butternut squash for the Shepherd’s Pie.

Each pie had was carefully crafted. Trimmed bits of crust were rolled out and turned into decorative leaves

to circle the Brown Sugar Pear Pie (which is shiny from an egg white wash and a dusting of sparkling sugar.) I also had enough crust for a few Pie Crust Cookies.

This is what the array of pies looked like before the guests arrived.

And here it is after:

25 adults and four children attended. Almost twelve pies were eaten. I was glad for the few leftovers. I had a slice for breakfast.