Tag Archives: aging on the homestead

Homestead Repairs

Goats love to climb up on things. We built them the goat gym many years ago. It was totally rebuilt once with improvements. Now it’s back on the list for homestead repairs.

Oak is a tough, durable wood, but all wood eventually rots. When the gym was rebuilt, the posts were placed in concrete footers so they wouldn’t rot as quickly.

Nubian buck and kids playing on the goat gym
When the herd comes up to the pasture gate in the afternoon, the goat kids are small enough to crawl under. They race onto the gym to play. Nubian buck Augustus enjoys having company. This is the gym shortly after the first time it was rebuilt.

This worked. Instead the step planks have fallen apart.

I am not a carpenter. My attempts to do carpentry make those who know how cringe. I kept putting off this item on the homestead repairs list.

Nubian goat kid basking in the sun on the goat gym
All summer the sun hits the steps on the goat gym shortly after dawn. The Nubian goat kids demand milk from the does, then come out to lie around on the goat gym steps soaking up sun. Later in the day the top and other side are the favored places for basking. The kids curl up and sleep on the gym all night in warm weather often joined by their mothers.

My goats are older too. They don’t use the gym as much. Augustus is the exception. He stands on the top looking out and calling to the herd especially during breeding season.

At 200 pounds Augustus is a big goat. The thought of him crashing through a rotten step board was enough to make me move the gym to the top of the homestead repairs list.

Most of the damage was on one side and the top. I tackled the two rotten steps first to bolster my confidence.

homestead repairs to the ramp are needed next so goats can play on it again
At 200 pounds Nubian buck Augustus could easily toss this upstart off the ramp or hurt him. Instead the two have a friendly shoving match. The ramp alternates thick inch oak boards with oak two by fours to give the goats traction.

Ten years ago this would be an easy hour’s job. It took me an hour to pull the nails to take what was left of the boards off. They will make good kindling this winter.

We cut our own oak boards for years using a band saw mill. Age made it impossible to use the mill so it was sold. The piles of lumber are still waiting to be used. I sorted through the boards and replaced the steps.

The top was next. I don’t do well with heights. I really don’t do well with loose boards and open spaces six to seven feet up.

Nubian buck approves homestead repairs of goat gym
Nubian buck High Reaches Silk’s Augustus loves standing up on top of the goat gym to watch for the herd out in the pastures. He stopped using the gym while I was working on it. He is back on top now.

After a long afternoon, the gym top was again complete and solid enough to support Augustus. He was having none of it. Several lamb’s quarters plants lured him up on top.

The ramp needs replacing. It is on the homestead repairs list.

Young goats love to play which was important for Harriet in “Capri Capers“.

Goats Grow Old Too

I have two folders of goat registration papers. One is thin and slowly growing thinner. But goats grow old.

The thicker folder is filled with papers of goats who have died. These papers go back over the forty-six years I have had Nubian dairy goats. I rarely look through these papers.

goats grow old and I remember Nubian doe Patty
Written due dates are often on the mark. Then there are the does who come early or late or the goat keeper gets sloppy. However it happened, when the goats came in one evening, High Reaches Miss Patience better known as Patty wasn’t with them. I checked the usual places and finally started walking up the ravine. It was getting late. I’m not sure why I kept going further than I thought she could possible be, but I did. And she was there backed against a fallen tree guarding her new triplets still damp and struggling to their feet. Newborns are small enough I could pick up all three. Patty followed me in complaining I had her precious kids.

On occasion I need to look up a pedigree and sort through these old papers. I read each name and try to pull up memories of each goat. It’s easier to pull those memories up if I look through my pictures of goats from the past.

Even seeing the pictures often doesn’t trigger memories unless there was something special about that goat. High Reaches Jennifer was my very first goat. I wrote about her in “For Love of Goats”. High Reaches Miss Patience was standing far up the ravine, much farther than I thought the goats ever went, by a fallen tree with her triplets.

High Reaches Isabelle went down with a bottle jaw from anemia from worms and had to be drenched with our special fortified liquids. She was five months pregnant and I pulled quadruplets. All of them survived. She lived for years after that.

More often I am so involved with the day to day of goat care, I don’t stop to remember. But goats grow old and make me remember.

goats get old and Nubian doe Trina has done so
High Reaches Daisy was a long suffering mother goat. Her kid Trina was a handful. Her favorite napping spot was on top of her mother even when she got too big. They looked a lot alike. both were excellent milkers, friendly, gentle goats. First Daisy grew old and died. Now Trina is old and has gotten thin. She still tries to keep up with the herd, even lead them from time to time. After she is gone, her daughter High Reaches Trina’s Flame will be in the herd for a time.

High Reaches Daisy’s Trina has been in my herd for many years. She has grown from a rambunctious kid to a mature doe and is now thin. She was never a herd boss, but is now the bottom goat lagging behind the herd as they go out and come in.

Goats grow old and so do people. How many times do we think about the people of the past? They too disappear into memory snapshots.

Those goats now in my herd are the last. As these goats grow old and die, my thin folder will empty. And I will be left with my thick folder and memories.

Hazel Whitmore’s class does a class project writing about the soldiers who died in various wars, many of them almost forgotten, in “Old Promises”.

Old Gate Posts

There are plenty of old gate posts around here. Many were put in twenty years ago. They were pieces of old telephone poles.

Over the last few years these posts have gotten wobbly. I could sway them back and forth with one hand.

old gate posts fall over
The wind came by. The gate fell over. After twenty some years, the post had rotted through. The gate got pushed up and propped to look like the gate was still there.

Digging post holes in the Ozarks is not easy. Post hole diggers are only a way to remove dirt and gravel already knocked loose with a bar and sledge hammer. They aren’t even very good for that if the gravel is actually small rocks.

Arguing the way down two feet was only a matter of persistence twenty years ago. Now it is only sheer determination that makes the holes go down. Each one takes two days or more now.

old gate posts rot off
What eats away at a gate post? Water. Insects, Mold, Fungus. Even old telephone poles eventually give in to the relentless attacks.

So gates were argued with, lifted and moved inches at a time. Steel posts were driven down next to the posts and tied together to try to pull the gate posts up again.

The old gate posts kept getting worse. The pasture gate post was a source of nightmares as Augustus stood on the gate looking over at the does in the hill pasture.

Then one end of the clothes line fell over.

post hole digging nightmare
The original hole was dug twenty years ago to a depth of 30 inches. That is longer than my arm. And the post rotted off at ground level and is still pretending to be solid all the way down. The dirt and gravel must be dug out around the post piece as deep as necessary to allow the piece to be shoved. Putting water down the hole, a rope around the post piece and using a long metal post as a lever pulled the piece up.

It was time to get serious.

An unlucky young man came by looking for work. He was game to dig a couple of post holes. And he did dig two: the clothes line pole and the pasture gate.

He was well paid, but it wasn’t enough to entice him to dig the third post hole. So I tackled it as that gate had fallen over and was now propped up to appear to be there.

Old gate posts rot off in two ways. The pasture gate post disintegrated into wood chips easy to remove with the post hole diggers.

Old gate posts tied in
The old hinges wouldn’t come out of the old post. Twenty years ago we would have gotten them out. Now it’s easier to tie the old post to the new one and hand the gate. The gate is now standing and useable and that was the objective.

The clothes pole and the other post rotted off at ground level, but left solid post down the center to be laboriously dug out by hand.

Once the aches and pains subside, the joy of having working posts and a standing clothes line will make it seem worthwhile.

For 25 years we kept our place looking good. You can see it in “My Ozark Home“.