Alayne and I had taken the goats and their livestock guardian dogs out to pasture on Saturday morning. As we were driving away in the utility vehicle, I looked up and saw some beautiful apples hanging on a small tree I'd hardly noticed before. I stopped, got out, and reached up to pull an apple off the tree. Crunching away, I realized this was a delicious apple. Alayne got out to grab her own tasty treat.
There were only a few apples left on the tree by this point in the fall, but we decided to come back after finishing morning chores and pick the rest. That's when I took the photo above of Alayne using her apple picker, a long pole with a basket on the end:
You use the hooks at the end of the basket to gently grab the apple on the branch, then twist it slowly until the apple falls off and into the padded bottom of the basket.
There are dozens and dozens of wild apple trees scattered across the farm, in addition to the ones we have in the apple orchards. Many of the wild ones aren't great for eating, but occasionally we'll find one that's just delicious, as we did Saturday morning.
Goats are very inquisitive and curious creatures, so having a caprine audience was natural. But they also knew Alayne was working with apples, and our goats are crazy about them. Here's another view of the goats:
Watching the goats watch Alayne were two of our Maremma livestock guardian dogs, Aaron and a puppy who came this year, Maggie:
The trailer is a portable pasture shelter, with lightweight livestock panels bent to create a kind of "hoop house" on wheels, covered with a tarp. This is also how we transport all the guardian dogs back and forth to the barn -- we just hitch up the trailer to the Kubota utility vehicle with the dogs on board. This way we can move all the goats and dogs in one trip. In the morning, one of us walks ahead with the goats (in true "goatherder" style, crook in hand!), while the other one drives the dogs in the trailer, following behind; we park the trailer on the pasture, let the dogs out with the goats, unhitch, and drive back to the barn, which is quite a distance away. In the evening we do the same thing in reverse.
While Aaron and Maggie were enjoying the shade by the trailer, the other two dogs were enjoying some shade on the other side of the pasture:
That's our oldest Maremma on the left, Gina, whose job it was to train Aaron when he came as a puppy last year. On the right is Joshua, Maggie's brother. The puppies are about 5 months old now. Gina and Aaron together are training the youngsters this year. Although they are one happy little pack, Joshua likes to hang out with his Aunt Gina, while Maggie has a big crush on her Uncle Aaron:
A minute or so after taking that photo, the two of them headed over to see what the goats and Alayne were up to: