Monday, November 30, 2015

Getting our Goats, Ginger Bugs and Sourdough

We got our first goat!

 Friday, 20th of November

We named him Jocote (ho-ko-teh) after a fruit that grows here.

You can see why we chose the name :)

He was born to the goat farmer that Lu has been apprenticing with for the past two months, who then sold him to a family as a pet. Jocote was living in very poor conditions with them. He was SO happy to come live with us and the dogs, and lots of space to run and play in. 

Sweetest, most affectionate goat there could ever be.

Goats don't like to be alone, so we needed to hurry
and get a companion for Jocote.

Lu got in touch with another goat farmer, 
and on Sunday, we got Mocha!

They weren't immediate friends, Mocha is a bit of bully, but even so, it was better than being alone. Everything was going perfectly. They both seemed healthy, except for the lice that Jocote came with. We gave him a special bath and got rid of most of them, but they had already affected his health. On Friday, a week after getting him, Lu found poor little Jocote dead in the morning. There were many tears. Lu and Mocha went to spend the rest of the morning at the goat farm where he apprentices. His wonderful teacher said many wise words about life and death, and the nature of goat farming, after which Lu called me to tell me not to bury Jocote. He had decided that he wanted to keep the pelt, so he came home to skin and then bury our first goat himself.

Lu had already slaughtered and butchered a couple of chickens and a sheep, but I have no experience in these things. As a child, I saw a lamb being slaughtered and it was very traumatic, so much so that I have never eaten lamb in my life because of it. But watching my son do this, especially with an animal that he was emotionally attached to, has me very much in awe of him. He did it respectfully, ritualistically, and it was beautiful. 

*     *     *     *     *

With Jocote gone,
we needed to find a new companion for Mocha asap.

On Sunday, Cajeta (caramel) arrived.

Our goat dealer convinced us to go ahead and get another,
older, PREGNANT mama goat,
and brought her to us the next day.

Here's Melanie:

During all this Goating Frenzy Lu took a most awesome fermentation workshop. It was an all day, 9am-5pm, event. He was the only kid in the group, so I was a little worried about him being there all on his own. But of course, as it is with Lu, he made friends with all the adults and impressed the facilitators with "some of the best questions we've had so far" and what an "attentive student and super keen learner" he is. Proud mama moment :)

Here's some sauerkraut he made in class:

And sourdough bread starter
and ginger bugs for (non-alcoholic) ginger beer
that he made at home:


As a mama who's never baked a loaf of bread in her life,
having it fresh and at home is truly dreamy. 

Thank you, Lu! <3

Lu now has a very big commitment to these goats. He has to take them up the mountain for at least two hours a day. I'll need to get some good audio-books for him to be able to multi-task. lol

I love how meditative it is out there with the goats. 
It's very slow. Stop. Munch. Walk a bit more. Stop. Munch. 
Look around. Greet the occasional passer-by.

And they follow him.
Somehow, they know to follow him.
They don't follow Cha or me,
but wherever Lu goes, they go. 

So, we are officially, and very unexpectedly, goat farmers!

Allowing my child to pursue his interests (even when they are way outside of my own realm of experience, in unknown territory to me) has brought wonderful, new gifts to our table. It's a whole new world of knowledge and possibilities that our family did not have before. 

My son is his own person, with his own unique perspective of the world, and giving him the freedom to follow his curiosity is one of the greatest things I can do for him, as a homeschooling mama.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015


Lu just turned 13!

Here he is with all his presents, minus a goat.
Yup, a goat.

About a month and a half ago,
Lu decided he wants to get into the goat farming business.

Since then, he's been getting up at 5am, 
three times a week, to go apprentice on a friend's goat farm.

Cha and I take turns dropping him off.
We run with the dogs, Lu takes his bike.

5am is not my favorite time of the day,
especially not for actually being awake.

But I can't complain about my early morning walks
with views like these:

He's already put in over 50 hours, so,
as promised, we're getting him a goat!
The goat house, companion goat, and goat accessories
will have to be paid back in milk, cheese, and meat.
But the first goat is a gift.

Lu's already done some successful cheese-making
with cow milk. Can't wait for that goat cheese!

AND he helped slaughter and butcher a sheep!

Here's Lu moving rocks on the land
where the goat house is now almost up:

And taking a break by getting some jocote fruits
down from the tree:

Jocote season is definitely a favorite time of year.

On the academic front,
Lu's been busy writing essays.

We took a class with a professional writer
who taught us basic structure and gave us
lots of useful tips.

Here are some paragraphs from his
instructional, compare/contrast,
and character development essays.
He's editing and typing his favorite two
for our homeschool archive.

 This year's math was mostly algebra and geometry.
To keep up with Lu, I covered all the new stuff with him during
the first half of the year, and then got a tutor for reinforcement,
the second half of the year (for my sanity).

Here's his last math homework assignment:

And making shapes with M.C. Escher:

With the rains finally over
(rainy season is about half the year here)
it's time for swimming!

And swimming with friends:

For one of his 13th birthday presents, I gave Lu permission to join facebook. This was something I decided on just over the last few months. I used to think we'd wait until he was at least 16, but I found myself often thinking "this article would be great for Lu" or "I wish Lu was on here to share this with him". And indeed, it is very handy for homeschool, as well as for keeping in touch with long-distance friends (one of the downsides of living in a town that is a tourist attraction, is that friends are usually temporary or seasonal). But having a facebook account comes with many rules, like not blocking me from anything, showing me his news feed whenever I ask, and only friending new people with my consent.

Lu has grown up so much this past year. 
He's done two major apprenticeships 
(restaurant and goat farm),  
and showed serious commitment and responsibility in both. 

I'm so proud of my official teen-ager.