Our family is growing!

After slightly more than a year without goats, we’ve finally got some again! I’d forgotten how much I love hearing the noises they make, especially when they realize you’ve got carrots in your hand and you’re walking their way. Gene and I went to pick up a mom/daughter duo from a beautiful farm about 90 minutes south of us, and they’ve really taken to their new surroundings.

We renamed them Cocoa and Mocha, mostly because they’re such a beautiful rich brown color (and the Kardashian clan has forever tainted the name Khloe). They are alpine/nigerian cross, and Cocoa reminds me a lot of Buttercup. Gene built a really cool holding pen out of recycled pallets, and they were quite the hit at the gas station.

We fenced off the other half of the pig’s pasture, so they have half the barn to themselves, and plenty of fresh clover and hay to graze. They’ve been exploring for about 5 hours now, and I don’t think they’ve stopped eating for longer than 30 seconds. They’re like fat kids at a huge candy store, running from one tasty flower to the next because it all looks so good.

Once they’re used to the routine here, we will open up the pasture so they can access all the hay fields. In the winter they’ll move into the pig’s quarters, which is furnished with plenty of heat lamps and cozy places to burrow in the hay. By that time the pigs will be at Freezer Camp, so it’s perfect timing.

In other exciting news, we have our first cocoon! I had built a new milkweed station on the porch, since the caterpillars were munching through the amount of milkweed that a little mason jar could hold way too fast. I dragged in a big black storage cubby and filled it with sand, then buried large mason jars up to the rim and filled them with water. I also covered them with plastic wrap, because I’m pretty sure caterpillars can’t swim. I poked a bunch of milkweed into the jars, then placed a variety of branches perfect for cocooning in the tote as well.

The other day I could only find three caterpillars on the milkweed, and when I pointed it out to Gene, he’s all “one of them is hanging right there” then pointed to the rafters. He said it had been there since that morning, and I demanded to know why he didn’t come running to tell me immediately because that qualifies as News.

The caterpillar had attached itself to the window casing, and was hanging in a J-shape, which is what they do right before spinning the cocoon. I was really excited to watch that process, but since it was hanging there doing literally nothing and I had a deadline, I went into my office for about 45 minutes to work. When I came back out, it was done making its cocoon, and was back to doing nothing but hanging there. I was really bummed that I missed it; apparently it takes less than an hour from start to finish.

Of course the caterpillar picked the worst spot possible in terms of photographic angles and lighting, so it’s really hard to get a good shot of it. I can’t move the habitat that’s right in front of his window because it weighs like 100 pounds now. And I can’t climb up on the couch, because quite frankly that’s a lot to ask of fake plastic rattan. Besides, I’m pretty sure the 3 caterpillars we can’t find are cocooning under it, and I don’t want to disturb them.

I figure in about 10-14 days, I’ll wake up to a porch full of Monarchs, and that will be a happy day indeed. Besides, there are still three smaller caterpillars still in the habitat, so hopefully they will avail themselves of the branches I so thoughtfully found for them.

The only other excitement around here this week takes the form of an unassuming $20 Dust Buster that we’ve managed to convert into a weapon of war. Let me back up a bit, just to complain about mosquitoes. They’re huge, they’re numerous, and apparently their goal in life is to get inside our house. We had rolled up newspapers staged in every room, and I’d finally gotten to the point where I could pretty much sleep through the sounds of battle waging at 2 am.

Not load bearing, apparently.

Not so much a picture falling off the wall and my desk breaking because someone decided to step on it in order to reach a particularly vexing winged blood sucker. (And on a side note, what’s up with that IKEA? Take some pride in your cheap mass produced desks why dontcha. It wasn’t Gene’s fault, it’s yours. Shameful.)

At any rate, something clearly had to be done. And since we had a rebate credit at Menards, what better way to spend it than procuring a WMD? Broomhilda (a fitting name for a warrior indeed) has racked up at least a 100 victims, which we can verify because you can see them still buzzing around the filter bag. Even better, it gives us another full foot of reach, so Gene doesn’t have to clamber up and over the furniture any more. I really think it’s going to come in handy this fall, too, to suck up any flies who make the mistake of thinking our warm cozy nest is an inviting place to spend the winter.

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