I have always wanted a bonfire night. Growing up, we always had a village bonfire on the night of the Fifth, with fireworks, a guy to burn, potatoes wrapped in foil roasting in the fire, and sticky parkin cake. It's traditional!
Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why the Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t'was his intent
To blow up the King and Parli'ment.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England's overthrow;
By God's providence he was catch'd
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holla boys, Holla boys, let the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the Queen!
And what should we do with him? Burn him!
Guy Fawkes Night is the Fifth of November. The British commemorate the failed assassination plot of 1605 to blow up King James I at the State Opening of the Houses of Parliament with bonfires across the country. Guy Fawkes, the conspirator who was to light the fuse, was betrayed in the nick of time and convicted of treason. Every British village makes guys to burn on our November Fifth bonfires. Thank you to the amazing Heather Gibbons for this year's 18-feet tall effigy!
Our Bonfire Night dinner table in the Upper Barn looking serene in the late afternoon
Dinner was autumnal comfort food, with soup, spicy macaroni cheese, and beef stew with garlic smashed potatoes
Sweet things traditionally served on Guy Fawkes Night. Parkin (top) is a light gingerbread. Toffee apples are compulsory
Despite last week's shower, the fields are dry. We couldn't build the enormous bonfire of our dreams, just a warming fire
It's been a weekend of spectacular skies and starry nights, culminating in the red moon of Sunday night. An auspicious weekend for a weddingKarolynne Meyer styles the secret garden arbor with farm sunflowers and soft green amaranthusOnly trying to helpThe bride is seconds awaylooking gorgeous with Karolynne's cream and green bouquetTanya and James's reception was back at the farmWe recommend Laura and Anton. Their playing was beautifully atmosphericCantaloupe with our chèvre and our habanero jellySea bass dusted with our fish rubCongratulations Tanya and James. May all your skies be clear
Rep. Anna Eshoo praised Puente's work and firmly regretted Presidential candidate misrepresentation of immigrants from Mexico. Here the congresswoman congratulates Mariela Lopez, first in her family to graduate from a four-year college and headed for a masters in social work at San Jose State
Gate open for sexy time. This is the far less adorable beginning of kidding season. You can't get those sweet, soft faces and first staggering steps without the knock-out musk of bucks in rut. Here they come.
Yes, bucks are interested in pretty much all that moves. No offense, Mark. Generally, though, a doe on heat trumps all.
Mmm, hot boy. Bucks have scent glands behind their horns for that chokingly pungent musk. In rut, they double down by urinating over themselves. No such thing as subtle on goat dates. The ladies like stinky.
Our American Alpine does are seasonal breeders, coming into heat in the fall as the days get shorter. Individual does will come into heat every 21 days, for anywhere from half a day to three days, until early winter. Bucks will stay in rut for the breeding season. A doe in heat will wag her tail wildly - flagging - and mock-mount the other does, head-butting and bleating. Bucks will nose the urine of does on heat, curling back their lips to inhale the telltale pheromones.
Lips curled back to inhale a mateBeard stained yellow from urine spraying. It attracts the right sort of ladyColtrane. Handsome devilLet me get some of your musk rubbed into my faceThe first kids are due in five months. Goat gestation is about 150 days
The milking herd at breakfast. It's time to prepare for breeding. It seems only a few weeks ago that they were pregnant - but they have had a long summer of good health and frequent check-ups, plenty to eat, excellent weather, and irrigated pasture. The second week of September, we will introduce the bucks again, with the first babies due in February.
The babies are slender young goats now, and most will be ready to breed in late fall.
Mark and Ben have been trimming hooves this week. If the goats were feral, they would wear down the unnecessary growth as they foraged over distance. We don't have sufficient hard surface for that to happen on the farm.
Roberto and Mark collecting the three bucks from the pasture over the road where we keep the non-milking goats.
The bucks are returning to the "Buck Pen" where Rosie the donkey lives, so that the milkers and the males can smell each other through the fence for a month, stimulating hormones in preparation for breeding. Here the girls are following them, though perhaps just in curiosity. We expect plenty of tail-wagging and more vocalizations as the girls become interested.
Coltrane is a polled goat, born without horns. Goat horns contain large blood vessels, a plus in hot climates with little shade. Here, though, it's rarely hot enough to trouble the goats, and horns are a liability in close quarters. Horned goats would snag themselves in fencing, or hurt each other and perhaps us and visitors too. However, polled goats have a drawback for us, in that the gene is associated with hermaphroditism. About one in eight births to a polled parent may be a sterile hermaphrodite, with both sex organs. You can't milk those babies.
The bucks will feed inside the shelter, so that Rosie can't eat all their food. Poor Rosie. She needs to lose weight. We'll see whether she likes the male company.