For the new year, I thought we’d start out with a tour of the ranch and an introduction to its residents.

Our first additions to the ranch were three hives of bees. We didn’t get them established until late in the spring and it was a rough year for beekeeping, so we haven’t gotten any honey yet. But we do feel confident that the bees were able to build up their reserves to a point that they’ll be able to come through the winter strong and get a good solid start in the spring.

In August, we acquired three Kiko-Boer cross does to start our goat herd. We allowed the children to name them, so from left to right we have Vanilla Cupcake, Ginger, and Waffles. They’ve done well here and have personalities that keep us laughing. We’re looking forward to kidding in early April, thus enlarging our herd.

Along with the goats we got two livestock guardian dogs, Glory (left) and King. These two have been wonderful additions to the ranch, both in terms of functionality and personality.

Here, for example, you can see the dogs and goats on an occasion when a pack of coyotes started howling very close by. The dogs are usually busiest at night and lounge around during the day, but if there’s a threat they’re on top of things. Also in this picture you can see our herdsire, Spoticus, whom we purchased in the fall (the spotted brown goat). He’s a registered, purebred Kiko from an excellent breeder not too far from us, and we look forward to seeing his offspring in a few months. He’s just about a year old now (younger in this picture) so hasn’t reached his full size.

Just after Thanksgiving we purchased three Rex rabbits — Lily, Petunia, and Cornelius Fudge. They’re the start our our rabbitry, and this little one here is one of our first litter of kits at about two weeks old. We expect another litter next week.

And finally we have Dottie, our most recent addition. Dottie is a LaMancha-cross dairy goat. She’s our insurance policy in case any of our goat kids need to be bottle-raised for any reason. She’s also due this spring, bred to a LaMancha buck. Her previous owners say she makes an excellent foster mother should the need arise! We’ve been working on bringing Dottie’s weight up a little before she kids, and transitioning her to free access to pasture.

We also have some temporary residents: steers who are being finished out on our pasture. Since we weren’t ready to get cows of our own last year, we’ve rented the pasture for their use.

Things are moving along, and we’re getting ready for a busy spring.

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