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A herd without Katie Goat

A herd without Katie Goat. It's hard to imagine. She was our second goat after Bubba. The first girl. Smart to my detriment and curious as anything. She had me chasing escaped goats from Hughes Branch Road and Highway 74 and every point in between. I can't count the number of times she came home with a deputy. She was a great mother and a wonderful queen.

Today, Katie, I don't have to imagine it. I woke up to a world empty of you.

There are friends of mine who might recall a dream I had about two or three years ago. I was near the house in Bryson City and Katie was in the field. She was beginning to give birth and I was frantic to get to her. Dream physics held me back. The air was dragging on me, refusing to let me through. I watched Katie give birth to seven baby goats while I struggled to get to her. After the last was born, she fell. I told Mom about that dream and I told some friends. They tried to ease my mind about my concern. They told me that I was mistaken about the meaning of the dream or they told me it was meaningless. Still, I held onto the number. Seven babies.

I felt extremely protective of Rufus and Rogue. I did not want to let them go under any circumstances. Life handed me a circumstance I did not expect. Both kids predeceased their mother. Rufus by less than a week. Rogue by a day. No one else is failing. Those three themselves looked fine and healthy right up until the end. I still don't have a handle on what happened.

But...I feel I have to record it here. Katie had seven babies.

1. Freebie
2. Beauregard Humbug
3. Mimsy Baah
4. Bonnie Lass
5. Elmo
6. Rufus
7. Rogue

I didn't want that dream to come true either.

I collected some flat stones from their grave. I want to cut them into cabochons. Is that morbid?

Edit: Maybe, maybe not, but something is...I paged back in this journal just now, looking for something and I realized that tomorrow is the anniversary of the death of my Aunt Kate, for whom Katie was a namesake. I don't know if anyone really reads this anymore of if I'm talking to no one when I talk to you, but if you don't believe me, feel free to look.

Aunt Kate, I gave her to you today. Take good care of my Katie and her babies.

I owe an explanation

To many people who care about where I work are on Facebook to talk about this there. I also don't know everything about this topic. I fear causing panic.

I also feel betrayed, but that's beside the point. If I was messing up, I would have liked to have had a supervisor with enough courtesy to tell me so and let me correct myself. Instead, I heard all about what a good job I was doing.

About two months ago, our good bosses found new jobs, leaving their jobs to people who have been bullying us for the last two or three years. I never knew what I did to this people, except that I trained the one lady and was friendly. Maybe that's my problem? I try to be nice to everyone and I tried to work as a team until it became clear that if I said anything, there would be some kind of misunderstanding and argument.

Steve has the same problem with them. It's crazy.

Anyway...they cut our hours back by half starting...drumroll...on my birthday.

This is the thing I'm not talking about. So, there it is.

How I Quit TracFone

I'M FREE! Rejoice and hark, Harold the Angel sings!

Yes, I did think that when I was a child.

When I moved to Dallas from Gainesville, they were good and gave me a local number for Dallas. It was all handled within a week or so. When I moved to North Carolina, I got one new SIM card per week and every time they gave it a Dallas number, against my wishes. I did this for 6 months until I finally got frustrated and gave up. I only used the phone for emergencies and didn't give out the number (except for work).

With TracFone, you buy minutes and service days. I had about a year of service days, so I didn't worry about it. Finally, this September, my service days ended and they cut me off. I got the phone reinstated and finally talked them into a NC number. I asked if it was possible to compensated for the lost time, since I had not had full use of my phone since I moved. (This is about a year and a half after the fact.)

I was told at most they could give me 3 months service time. But the card I paid for and the bonus service time were not added, no. My service remained off. I called the next day about it and was told that they had no record of the bonus service days and the most they could do is one month of service time. I attempted to press the issue. I was told the reason the phone number was not changed sooner was that I had never requested a phone number change to begin with and it was all my fault. I was told that I was making up the 90 days, because no one would have offered me that..

I did get them to at least give me the card I had bought, but I was angry about the whole thing, for the last two years, and pretty much being told I was lying when I wasn't. I mean, 90 days didn't cover the amount of service I lost. 30 did even less. But 90 was so little compared to not being able to use my phone at the right rate and with a local number for months that I wouldn't make it up. (I didn't accept the 30, by the way. Call it pride.)

On Nov 30 I got a notice that my phone was expiring on the 1st. I knew I had some time to worry about doing something about it. 60 days, by policy.Since we were going to go pick up feed in Cherokee today, I tried to buy another card to extend my service. The website wouldn't let me. I called. The automatic system wouldn't let me. I got a human. The human told me that I had lost my phone number (I had noticed the last Dallas number was back), all of my accumulated minutes, and I would need a new SIM card to reactivate my phone. (Note: This is not supposed to happen unless 60 days have passed between the cut off and when I tried to buy a new card. 60, not 6. A supervisor later verified it for me, but we'll get to that.) The SIM card would take 3-5 days to get to me via snail mail. Of course, that does me no good, because I needed the phone for a possible emergency today. (I should mention that our vehicle is having problems.)

I asked to speak to a supervisor and got put into an endless phone loop. I also got a very large rock. Steve saw me out there with the house phone, the cell phone, my credit card, and a large rock. He asked me about it, so I told him if it didn't get fixed today, I was going to destroy the cell phone for a supervisor to hear. If you can imagine this, he didn't say anything about it. He just believed me and went about his business.

When I realized I was in a loop, I hung up and called back and went through the whole thing again...

Finally I got a supervisor. I began explaining that I had a large rock and was going to end my association with TracFone by destroying my cell phone if matters were not resolved. (She didn't believe that part, I don't think.) I explained that I loved my little camera phone with its pictures of the Texas State Faire, but it was the only thing tying me to TracFone, so I would have to destroy it. (I kept my tone very sweet, but kept talking through the entire story I just told you, including the difficulty of getting an NC number and my disatisfaction with TracFone in general.) She looked some things up, made some calls to find out why my account was trashed after 6 days instead of having the 60 days grace and to see if it could be reversed in any way other than sending me a new SIM card, which was going to do my immediate problem no good.

She did a good job and she should get a gold star for it, but she had bad news for me. Nothing would clear the glitch without having to wait 3-5 days for the SIM card. I told her that was ok (please understand that I never yelled at her once) and in a very enthusiastic tone added, "You get to hear the show!" Whereupon I proceeded to beat my (on) cell phone to death with a rock. I added little details like "There goes the keypad!" and "Oooo, the screen just cracked!" When I was done, she started to tell me that I needed to...I'll never know what I needed to do. Buy another TracFone? Be more patient with my next service provider (hard to do without transcending to a higher plane of existence--everything was a struggle with this company)? I told her that I didn't need to do anything including take advice from her. I wasn't a TracFone customer anymore.

I said goodbye and hung up.

And that is how I left TracFone. It was cathartic. Though I didn't destroy the phone in anger. It was more like I was cutting a tie and getting released from this obligatory customer service hell I've had to either ignore or wade into for the dubious hope of satisfaction. I'm FREE!!!

The only thing you need to know, though, and it's very important. When destroying electronics for whatever reason, take out the lithium ion battery first. When broken, they get very hot, will begin to smoke, and I suspect they will also catch fire. The remains of my phone are lightly marinating in a bucket of water on my front lawn.
On this day, 35 years ago, I had already been born and kicking around for a month.

So, today I got surprise duck eggs (I think) tucked into our order of 36 hatching eggs (they actually sent us 43, though one egg was weird and had to be tossed--again, not as interesting as that should be. We put it in the trash and Sasha got it out and broke it).

--Update--No Ducks, Blue Lace Red Wyandottes. I don't know how they got the abbreviation DC for them. Dot Chicken? No matter, they are neat too and they don't require a pond.

A friend also gave me a DAZ3D gift certificate to buy the Freak 4 Pro Bundle which came out today at DAZ, though she did it because I was broke (a temporary condition) and not because it's my unbirthday. Still, it was a present and today is my unbirthday.

And, I was lucky enough to get to play with baby goats and chicks and a puppy and nearly not kitten. (Max is getting big. He was already over 12 lbs when I weighed him a month ago.)

All in all, it was a good Un-Day to be Un-Born or whatever it was that I did on the day that was really supposed to be my birthday but wasn't because I caught an earlier flight to the world.

Bonnie Lass Goat, Crown Princess

I am remiss. I need to send you a picture of Bonnie Lass, daughter of Queen Katie and King Bubba.

Without further ado, here is the young lady.

The chick hatching experiment

Scraps died in the shell, I'm afraid. This morning, the puppy jostled me when I was moving eggs to the hatching incubator. I dropped one of the eggs and had a very icky egg mess, but it told me something important. Few,if any, of the eggs I was moving were going to hatch. I cleaned up the mess and loaded the eggs and the araucana eggs, which didn't hatch on Friday, into egg cartons and I took them into a closet with the candler. Then I brought them outside.

Here is where I should tell you that I used them to decorate an annoying neighbor's house. Unfortunately, our neighbors have been pretty good.

Instead, I took them and carefully cracked each one.

All of the Buff Orpington x Rhode Island Red crosses were totally infertile. This was not a great surprise, since they took more than 7 days to arrive from Ohio in the heat of summer. The araucana eggs had arrived wrapped in scented toilet tissue and wet with broken egg. I considered them poisoned and a possible issue since day one. I had thought two of them had embryos at the ten day candling, though. I was right. One never developed past a very small chick. The other died on Friday, it looks like.

Oh, 23 day old rotten eggs explode if you tap them, by the way. Quite fascinating. I had to order Here Kitty Kitty out of the garage for her own safety.

I could not tell what killed the chick at hatch time, but it bothered me enough that I decided to free Scraps and mounted the rescue mission. I carefully tapped the egg and peeled it back. Unfortunately, Scraps too was already gone. He was fully formed and all but ready to hatch. He simply did not have enough humidity I believe. It was running roughly 58% in the hatcher despite my attempts to raise it.

So I am left wondering what to do for the next eggs up. I expect two more hatches the week after next. I am also, unfortunately, getting enough eggs to fill two incubators fully some time next week. I think the answer is that I need a 3rd incubator.
(Don't ask, you'd have to be there to know.)

Continued life on the farm...

Well...We've had ups and downs in the last year, but I do enjoy when the baby goats are born. Bonnie Lass, herd crown princess and daughter of Bubba Goat and Queen Katie was born on Sunday. She is Sinbad's aunt technically and would have been sister to Freebie (half), Damien (half), Mimsy, and Beauregard.

She is a little scamp already. She got under her first fence when she wasn't two days old. At one day, she was also nibbling grass. Today I caught her drinking her first water. She's not supposed to know to do those things for another week or two yet.

Friday last, we went to Marion and picked up 26 golden pheasants for $4 each. They are investment pheasants. We want to keep all the Cinnamons (5) and 3 females and two males of the Reds. 1 Red pair will go to Francie in Ohio in trade for a pair of Lady Amhersts. We will be selling the rest. They go higher on the internet, but around here, fully grown adults run about $30 each or $60 and up/pair.

Today we picked up a box of 25 Rhode Island Red sex link hens.

Friday, our first eggs through the incubator are supposed to hatch. I think one is doing well. I'm not real hopeful about this batch. The woman who shipped them carefully wrapped each one in scented toilet tissue before placing them in egg cartons. She shipped 16 or so. 12 actually made it without cracking. One looks like it has a live chick in it or looked that way the last time I candled.

Sunday my bantam should hatch, probably. We'll see. It looks solid to me, like it's been hard boiled. It may have gotten too warm. Another "we'll see." I'm kind of hoping. That's my Scraps we're talking about.

The Buff Orpington x Rhode Island Red eggs look clear to cloudy to me. It might be the thickness or darkness of the shell. They were well packed with none broken, but they took 7 days to get to me. That really has me worried.

I candled the first of the Road Island Red eggs Steve bought and his surprise bonus Turken. I was quite thrilled to see at least two visibly moving embryos, including the Turken (Transylvanian Naked Neck, for the discerning poultry vampire). This is out of 12. Some of the eggs looked empty and others just looked cloudy. Two were obviously dead. I am not tossing the cloudy eggs because I just don't know well enough.

Meanwhile, I got 14 Aracauna x Barred Rock crosses (sold as sex linked Aracaunas, but I've never heard of anyone else doing that, so pretty much sex linked Easter Eggers). They came from Tennessee, which made for much quicker and hopefully safer shipping. It's weird to say it, but they seemed sturdier too. I know. Sturdy eggs...

We still have the second part of the two part shipment of Rhode Island Red x Buff Orpington crosses, 6 mixed Bantam eggs (our Bantam family tree is close to not having branches or will be by the next generation--I had to sneak order those, though, because Steve doesn't want more little chickens. I do. Each one can potentially brood 6 eggs. Yes, I am getting stealth chickens), and 36 medium breed egg layer type eggs.

*Black Star
*Araucanas/Americanas
*Dark Brahma
*Barred Rock
*Ideal 236
*Buff Orpington
*Red Star

And the ever mysterious "And More!!!" with the triple exclamation of doom. Looking at this entry in the light of a different day, is it weird that I know what those chickens are mainly? Ok, Ideal 236 and Dark Brahma, I don't know what they are going to look like.

I'd half like some Delaware Giants because they also brood. A chicken that size has a lot of surface area for warming eggs.

We have, at this point, enough eggs coming where we will have overfilled our incubator. This means I will have to turn some by hand, three times a day. My three week sentence hasn't started yet, so I can still make jokes about it.

Growing Chickens From Seed

After a month of waiting, about half of my hatching eggs are finally here and in the incubator. I am still waiting on my banana seeds, which also have to go into an incubator of sorts (roast chicken box in a plastic bag on top of a reptile mat). I feel like I'm planning to hatch bananas and grow chickens from seed, in a way.

We bought 25 pheasant chicks a couple of weeks ago. We have them in the master bathroom. The other morning, I heard them going bump-bump on the top of their brooding box. I didn't have to look to figure out what was going on. Dragon woke up and asked me what was going on. I told him, "Flight Practice."

We are also getting 25 Rhode Island Red sex-link hen chicks shipped in. Hopefully we get a rooster or two from the eggs. Otherwise, the next generation will be awfully bored on Saturday night. 12 eggs are Auracauna (blue/green eggs). 10 are Buff Orpington (yellow chickens) crossed with Rhode Island Red, and another 12 are full blooded Rhode Island Red. I put one of our mutt bantam eggs in the other day, too. Whatever it is, hen or rooster, that's my chick. Ok, they're all our chicks, but I claim that one, personally. If it hatches, I will name it Scraps.

The bananas are...silly. You can't grow bananas here, really. I mean, you can, but it generally involves digging them all up of a winter and tossing them under the house. I don't feel like doing that. I'm putting them in pots and am going to cart them inside. They can keep my citrus company. (I have the standard Key Lime, Meyer Lemon, Calamondin Orange dwarves, plus a Lemon Kanu'oun from the Marianas Islands. I bought the Kanu'oun when I thought my Meyer Lemon had died. Turns out, my Meyer Lemon is undead anyway, so that's alright then. My mother keeps hinting that I need to move back to FL--I don'wanna--but I'd be arrested at the border for my plants alone.) Anyway, I have five banana plants already. On the understanding that they have a low germination rate, I bought 105 seeds for Musa Dasycarpa. Don't panic. I have picture links...

M. Dasycarpa Flower
M. Dasycarpa Bananas
M. Dasycarpa Banana springing open like an alien face hugger. Blaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrr!

The pictures are all on the bananas.org Wiki and are their property and the property of the person/people who took them, which is why I'm not displaying them.

But doesn't it just remind you of Audrey Jr?

So, when 105 banana plants are standing in 3 inches pots all over my house, can I count on you to want one? Especially those of you in Florida, with yards. I'm sure they would be very happy with you. (I believe shipping banana plants to FL is allowed, even if the citrus would cause the agricultural police to shoot me on sight.) That way, we can all be happy pod people together, when our bananas burst open and take over the world.

Tropical Plants, Western North Carolina...

This is the second year of my citrus trees. I have two left. My Dancy Tangerine was eaten by Katie Goat last summer and did not come back. My lemon suffered a similar fate and was coming back over the fall/winter when it was eaten by a mouse. Not to be deterred, it was coming back this summer when Sasha, the lab puppy, pulled it up and chewed off half of it's roots. I have repotted it, but I'm not hoping for much. I've gotten a couple of Valencia oranges and plan to plant the seeds in the pot later today. I've heard that oranges don't come true from seed and I've also heard they do, all but the Clementine and I've heard great things about a treasured Satsuma in South Carolina. Who knows? Who really cares? If they sprout at all, I get a cute plant. If they fruit at all, I can say I did it, no matter what they taste like.

I have also ordered a Kanu'on Lemon from eBay. Of course, now that it's been replaced, my Dwarf lemon will become 12 ft tall and covered with blossoms by September, whereupon the blue bird of happiness with nest in it's branches, only to discover that this is the first ever carnivorous lemon tree. After all it's been through, I suspect it may be undead.

So...Not to be content or anything, I found out there is such a thing as a Truly Tiny banana, which gets two feet tall and with plenty of dedication will produce medium sized edible bananas. I found it while being nostalgic for the pomegranate tree in the Classic Dept garden. (There are also miniature pomegranates...) Since three plants ship for the same rate, I also picked up a Sugar Loaf pineapple.

This all happened on discovering that fruit trees make great houseplants and not due to any sense of homesickness, as my mother claims (If I were homesick, I'd be planting palm trees, not raising fruit). Currently the citrus (Lime, Sour Orange, and half eaten undead Lemon) are all sunning themselves on my front porch. They did not fruit in the same year, as promised by the catalog, but when I saw them, I didn't think it was likely. They were thorny seed stock, for one thing.

I probably need to post later and fill you in on the new kitten and puppy. I am remiss on that account. I walked away for a while after Thor died. (See, I didn't tell you that either, did I? It's cause I found him and it wasn't pretty and adopting Sasha was all bound up with the event and I was in shock for a while. I needed some distance before I could talk about the happy things.) Anyway, later on I will have to log back in and post pictures. For now, I have to go move the goats down to the field and begin preparing for 4th of July.