December 30, 2008

No Agenda Day

Yesterday, for the first time, in a very long time, there was nothing on the calendar.
Besides doing the normal animal care routine, household cleaning and laundry, I made a pot of soup and baked some bread. Have been slowly working on taking down and storing the Christmas decorations away. In the office I dabbled on different computer projects, caught up on some book work, made some phone calls.
The weather was truly amazing, a beautiful spring like day in winter. I spent the afternoon out with the animals. I had taken my camera to share a few photos. No one would cooperate and what photos I did manage to take were far too blurry to view. I cleaned the milk room and feed & water troughs, filled the hay feeders. I sat for a few minutes and watched the goats and sheep play. While in the pens everyone came for their pets and hugs. I rubbed Buffy’s belly and talked to the yet to be born babies.
The storms had blown some odds and ends into the yard so I did a bit of yard clean up. Noticed more limbs had broken and fell. I added a few small ones to the burn pile. The chickens scurried behind me as I picked up items in the yard, scratching in hopes to find worms and bugs hiding from the cold. These are the quiet days on the farm I so enjoy.

Potato Cheese Soup

½ cup onion - chopped
1-tablespoon olive oil
4 cups peeled potatoes -diced
3 ½ cups chicken broth
2 cups goat milk
1 tsp. Salt
¼ tsp. pepper
1 dash paprika
1 ½ cups shredded Monterey Jack or white cheddar cheese

Directions: Sauté onion in oil until tender. Add potatoes and broth. Cover and simmer about 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Puree soup in blender or food processor. Return to heat and add milk and seasonings. Add cheese and stir until cheese melts.

December 28, 2008

Good Morning From Prosperine

Still on baby watch. No Buffy babies yet.

Surprisingly housetraining DD is going really well. She goes to the door and paws when she wants out. No messes since the first day she arrived.

Our weather today is back within normal temp range for this time of year. Yesterday was in the upper 60's with storms passing through all day. It was a bit unnerving, severe thunderstorm warnings, tornado warnings and flash flood warnings in winter. They covered our area all day long.

In that type of weather with heavy cloud cover we are unable to pick up satellite service. I had the radio on most of the day listening for updates while I busied myself in the kitchen, putting away Christmas dishes, leftovers for the freezer and prepping a few casseroles for the upcoming week.

Thought I would post a family favorite recipe for using up left over turkey

Mom’s Turkey Chow Mien
1 cup minced celery
1 large chopped onion
2 tablespoons butter

Combine with:
2 cups diced cooked chicken or turkey
2 cup cooked rice
1/4 cup mushrooms
1 can cream of celery soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1/2 cup slivered almonds
2 tablespoons soy sauce
Top with chow mien noodles, bake at 300 degrees for one hour.

From winter kidding this time last year...these are a few of the baby pics

Newborn Boer/LaMancha

Newborn twin La Manchas

Newborn black paint Boer

December 27, 2008

What's One More?

About a half of mile up our access road/driveway sets a small plot of land with a rental home . I have never met the owner and rarely meet the tenants. They move in and back out sometimes before we are aware they are even there.
This last family was there maybe 3 or 4 months. We only knew someone occupied the house due to dogs being tied out in the yard. In the beginning there were 2, each month they added another.
I couldn't help but notice the dogs on my way to and from the mailbox, mainly the lack of care given to the dogs. They were tied out in the front of the house close to the road. The small ones on ropes, then one large one on a chain. One small dog had a large kitchen type waste basket for shelter from the elements. I never observed food in their bowls, though they did have water in other bowls when I stopped to check on them. The dogs were dirty, coats matted, looked under nourished, not to mention so sad and lonely.
I started taking them food.
One day as I passed to go to the mailbox the woman was in her yard. I stopped, introduced myself and asked if she would be interested in giving away the one little dog. She said no, stated he would be going in the house when the weather turned cold. I politely told her if the dog came up missing in the winter weather to come to the farm, I would have taken it home with me. She laughed and said OK.
I really had planned on bringing him home the first time it snowed.
One day about 2 weeks ago I noticed a couple of trucks in front of the house being loaded with boxes and furniture. The next day, the trucks were gone, 2 of the dogs were also gone. The small dog I had asked about was one that was missing. I was actually relieved to an extent. Out of sight out of mind, I would never know what happened to him at least I would not have to watch him suffer.
There continued to be evidence someone was still living there, I would see a truck parked in the drive, the big dog was still chained in the yard, porch light was left on at night.
2 days before Christmas a neighbor at the end of the access road calls to see if I was home and asks if they could come down. Seems that in the last week the remaining tenant had moved, taken the big dog but had left a small dog that was not visible from the front of the house. They had heard it crying, taken it home with plans of keeping it. Their dog seemed to have difficulties in accepting the new addition and did not want to risk the abandoned pup being hurt.

Sooo...wouldn't you think that 6 dogs is enough?

We adopted the abandoned pup.

The vet said she was roughly 6 months old. She is malnourished, literally skin and bones. She appears to be Basset hound mixed with who knows what. She has not much body tone or much muscle strength. From her behavior she possibly may have been physically abused.
The better half calls her D.D. as in ...that darn dog piddled in the floor again.

D.D. is now an indoor dog, bathed, treated for fleas, ticks and worms. We have her on a new diet and she is getting lots of exercise (so am I). House training is going well, hopefully won't take long.
She has followed me while I do the morning animal care. Unfortunately the first goat she met was the wrong goat to meet first. She came face to face with Sarah Beth who despises dogs. Have to say DD is a quick study, after meeting Sarah, she decided to wait at the other gates for me.

December 25, 2008

Christmas Morning

Just about 4:30 here, I got out of bed to begin preparing for Christmas breakfast. It's still too early to do much more or begin preparing the turkey for Christmas dinner so I thought I would check email and piddle on the computer while all were still fast asleep.
Aww the sound of silence. :-)

We are hoping that Buffy kids today or tomorrow while Jim is home. She's as broad as a beam and has uddered up so...anytime. I am heading out to check on her here in a minute.
She's the only one we have purposely bred this year for winter kidding. Her kids were reserved so we felt obligated to follow through or I really would have waited. She is such a good mom and does so well with her kids, all will do fine this winter I do believe.

Barb and Isabella two of the dairy does will be joining a buck today for their congenial visit. If all goes smoothly we will be looking at May babies.
The Angoras were frisky and frolicking yesterday. Noticed a couple of the does were in heat and really flirting with and enticing the boys. Looks like May babies there too.
Sarah Beth our Saanen was in rare form yesterday, front feet planted on the fence, hollering in the direction of the buck pen, tail flagging, just begging to be let out. Sorry Sarah, no babies for you this year. It's year off for the ole gal.
The wooly boys (Shetlands) are a joy to have. Tis the season the sheep seem to enjoy. The cold weather doesn't effect them one little bit. They seem to be in wonderful spirits everyday, hopping, popping and running around in their warm winter coats.

Kirby lost his horn that was growing too close to his eye. Another major farm drama for me. When I went to feed and let them out to browse that morning the first thing I saw was blood all over Kirby. I don't do blood and went into my panic mode. I looked for the source of the blood, realized his horn was not by his face any longer, it was back behind his ear. Half on, half off. And there was blood, lots of blood. Frantic I was, thinking how was I suppose to stop the blood? He seemed to be OK though I wasn't taking any chances. I called the BIL, the paramedic, to come help(thankfully he was off work). I held Kirby while Matt did what needed done. Don't ask, I didn't watch. It involved blood stop powder and an antispetic spray from the med kit. I now have Kirby's horn, which seemed so large on his head, but so small now.

It was a rough way to lose the horn for the little guy, but it was actually for the best, since it was growing into his eye.

It's time to go make the donuts...hope everyone has a blessed and Merry Christmas!

December 22, 2008

Baby It’s Cold Outside

5 degrees this morning, Burr! It was 7 yesterday. The local weatherman suggested if a person didn’t have to get outside before noon, don’t! He also emphasized layering clothes. Layering is definitely the key to staying warm don’t ya know.
There is an art to layering according to experts, supposedly you just can’t go willy nilly layering any old thing.
Layering simply means wearing a combination of clothes (in layers) to help regulate your temperature and keep you warm and dry. There are essentially three layers to consider: base, mid and outer. Each layer has a specific function/purpose. The base layer should draw moisture & perspiration away from your skin to keep you warm. The mid layer is for insulation and keeping you warm. The outer layer allows moisture to escape while also blocking wind and repelling water.
The Base Layer is what has direct contact with your skin. A tight fitting and wicking material is best to keep you warm and dry. Silk, wool, polyester are good choices, though they say avoid cotton because it traps moisture, so it stays wet and draws heat from you.
The Mid Layer provides insulation. It should be a bit looser than the base layer, but to function properly it needs to maintain contact with the base layer. Mid layers also carry moisture away from the base layer to the outer layer. Common materials for mid layers include down, polyester, fleece, wool and newer synthetic or natural blends.
The Outer Layer is the wind blocker. It should allow moisture to escape. Outer layers should be tough enough to withstand tears and abrasions. Should also be wind resistant materials or water-resistant fabrics.
For me, layering starts with the old fashion thermal long johns. Remember Carter’s? Now a day they make Long Johns in all sorts of fun colors and prints. They can also serve as a good warm pj if needed. The mid layer is an every day run of the mill fleece or sweat pant and shirt. Hanes is a good inexpensive brand. The outer layer is an insulated overall or coverall. Carhartt is my favorite brand, though Key has proven to be more affordable. Around here you have farm stores, so Gore-Tex, Thinsulate and the newer high tech fabrics are not readily found. Add to that a ski mask, gloves, skid and waterproof boots and you are set to brave the elements. Basically nothing exposed other than your eyes.
Let me suggest you do 1 thing before layer dressing…go to the restroom. Never fails as soon as I have all umpteen layers of clothes on, I gotta go! Mom says I was like that as a child also. As soon as she would finish dressing me in my snowsuit I had to go. Guess some things never change.
I’ve probably mentioned this before, I don’t mind the cold due to having the proper clothing to keep me warm. Honestly, I stay warm. Almost to the point of sweating by the time I have accomplished the outside animal care routine.
The one thing I do have a problem with is range of motion while being cinched up in all the layers. Being a short pudgy person to begin with, layering adds more weight and puffiness …

Have a great day and stay warm!

December 21, 2008

A Gingerbread Tradition

Click on the title to take you to a bit of Gingerbread history.

Mom's favorite Christmas treat is Gingerbread, not cookies or houses, but by loaf. Grandmother use to make it every year. About 8 years ago after Grandmother had passed Mom mentioned she missed the holiday treat.
I had been blessed to inherit Grandmother's recipe collection so I went in search of grandmother's recipe in hopes of surprising Mom. I could not find Grandmother's handwritten recipe though in her collection I did find

The Brer Rabbit's New Orleans Molasses Recipes booklet copyright 1948 Penick & Ford, Ltd. Inc.
This is the recipe I have been making the last 8 years. The family loves it.
My Best Gingerbread
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
2 1/2 cups sifted all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup Brer Rabbit Molasses
1 cup hot water
Cream together shortening and sugar. Add egg; beat well. Sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt. Combine molasses and water; add alternately with flour mixture to creamed mixture. Line 8" x 8" x 2" greased pan with greased waxed paper; pour in batter. Bake in moderate oven, 350º F., 50 - 60 minutes. Cool 5 minutes. Remove from pan.
It is very good, especially with topped with whipped cream.
I could not find Brer Rabbit Molasses at our local grocers. I do however keep blackstrap molasses on hand at all times for offering molasses water to the goats. (Goat owners will understand :-)

I have used Blackstrap as a substitute with no problems what so ever. Though do believe any molasses will work.

It's 7 degrees out this morning, a good day for baking.

December 19, 2008

A Christmas Surprise

This year we had planned on spending a quiet Christmas at home. For most of the day we had planned on being home alone, just the two of us. Maybe sleeping late, well later than normal, maybe till at least 7 (for us the day normally starts about 5:30). Enjoying a day of leisure, visiting with the critters, doing the daily animal care routine together. Later he in his recliner, me curled up on the couch or piddling in the kitchen, maybe watching a holiday movie or reading a book. Christmas evening we had planned a small evening holiday meal here at home with my parents, invited the better half’s brother to join us also. Normally the guys don’t get to spend the holidays together, they both end up working. I think the last Christmas they spent together was the year their father passed away. He passed in January 01.
I just received a phone call, saying it won’t be a quiet Christmas after all. His side of the family would be celebrating with us.
This puts a new spin on things. There are candies to make, pies to bake, cookies to decorate. Need to get the house in order for guests, plan out a larger menu and prepare to be invaded.
Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend before Christmas!
Joanna I will try to post about our farm yarn, fiber on the hoof and the fiber processing soon, very soon. I may have blogged alittle bit about it in my older posts on Angoras or Shearing Day.

Rikke! My dear, WELCOME, so happy you stopped by the blog! It is so wonderful to see you out and about! Congratulations on achieving your PhD!!!
If anyone is interested in Nigerian Dwarf goats, consider dropping by my dear friends site to have a looksey… Fox Dog Farm
She has a very colorful and the sweetest group of ND’s. She breeds, milks, and is an excellent cheesemaker. They own/operate a CSA in Washington state, selling produce, flowers, herbs and goats.

December 18, 2008

Flibberdegibbet (This, That & The Other)

Have been a bit of a flibberdegibbet lately, the better half says I have too many irons in the fire and need to put some out before I start others.
I am the worlds worst when it comes to hobby/craft projects, you know those enjoyable things you do in your spare time. Have all and every intention of following it through till the end. Just doesn’t work that way around here, things pop up that take priority over the crafts, like the animals, cooking, cleaning the house, the holidays.
I set them to the side promising myself I will get back to it after whatever issue at hand is settled. Honestly there never seems to be enough hours in the day to get back to some.
like these ...

The Rigid Heddle Loom, gotta warp it before I weave. You wouldn't believe how long it has sat like this

The latch hook rug for my great niece, nope I haven’t gotten that much accomplished on the rug…that's the photo on the box :-) I gotta sit down to do this. Normally when I sit down in the evenings I fall asleep.

The Angora goat doll, (another photo of what the project will look like)…I have the hair and the instructions, just never time to create. I keep telling myself I have time there is no rush...won't need it til next September anyway.

This week I did manage to skirt and wash one of the white angora fleece,

still a bit damp to work, taking a bit longer to dry than I had thought in this weather. Hoping to start carding that soon.

Speaking of fleece you should see this beautiful black Shetland wool, that came from Fairlight Farms. I just got around to opening the bag. Shouldn't have done that, have been day dreaming about what project I will use it in. Feels so cloud soft, can’t wait to start working with it. (excuse the poor quality photos, still working with el’cheapo camera).

One thing has been accomplished, we've made up our minds on what would be the best drum carder to purchase. Have searched and researched, read and read some more. This is the definitely the one. Not only is it made in the USA, is made here in Missouri. It's the Fancy Kitty Kitten drum carder.

The purchase will be made after the 1st of the year. I am hoping before the next shearing day on the farm. The better half read all of the particulars of the construction and features. He was actually very impressed and feels we would get our monies worth. Plus they offer a lifetime-limited warranty on all parts and workmanship, to the original buyer.
My only question at this time is what carding cloth to order. The medium cloth, would be excellent for the first carding of most mohair (which would be the bulk of my fleece to card). Though I am not quite sure on the TPI/cloth needed for the Shetland wool. Am mulling around the idea of possibly getting an auxillary drum with a second size cloth if need be. Anyone have any thoughts or experience?

December 17, 2008

Makin' a List and Checking It Twice

No not Santa, City Mouse. He's working on the Golden Chicken Awards.

What's the Golden Chicken Awards?

(I copied this from his blog) -" a list of (our) favorite country-life realted products, services, and valuable lessons-learned, compiled (hopefully) from all of us here in this little world of country, homesteading, farming, preparedness, and rural blogs."

For more information and where to send your entries click on the chicken in my side bar.

So have you been a good girl or boy this year and sent along your list of favorite things?

December 12, 2008

Poultry & Peafowl

Over the last 10 years we have raised chickens, ducks, geese, quail, turkey, guinea and peafowl. I do not consider myself an expert on birds (that’s the better half’s department). As bad as it sounds, I actually don’t care much for the birds. We are blessed by their offerings and I do greatly appreciate their giving and enjoy the eggs and the meat.

Green eggs & ham anyone

The ducks, geese and turkey were raised for the freezer. The quail died of old age. The chickens were meant for both meat and eggs though the better half normally has no down time to butcher and are also dying of old age.

I liked watching the ducks on the pond, though the ducks were messy, extremely messy. They were not replaced when we butchered. The geese were down right mean and I was not that fond of the turkey. They were not replaced after butchering either. The guineas were too noisy for my liking, I gave them away. We still have one lone guinea that thinks she is a peacock. I loved the quail and still greatly enjoy the peafowl.
The quail were the only ones that were caged. The others are free to roam the farm. They do an excellent job of eating bugs, worms, a frog or two.
We feed all-natural non-medicated poultry grain, which is a variety of seeds and cracked corn. We do not leave feed out all day. I just feed a bit in the morning, tossing handfuls out while calling chick-chick.
In the winter, we supplement the poultry grains with cat food. I also offer them crushed eggshells and other leftovers from the kitchen.
My grandfather told me long ago that he would add crushed red pepper to their feed in the winter to help them lay. Surprisingly the peafowl also seem to love and will gobble up whole red pepper. Jim’s mom told me that in the dead of winter she would cook up batches of oatmeal or mush and feed the warm cereal to her birds. Yep, tried it, they love that hot meal on cold, cold days.
The chickens wander the farm all day, have the hen house to go up into at night, have nest boxes to lay in.
I make sure the chicken feed is locked up in the feed room. We have had an inquisitive goat find the chicken feed and eat herself sick. The condensed version of that story goes like this …It was a weekend the better half was home. He likes to feed when he is home. He had accidentally left the doors to the feed room open. Amber one of our yard goats, a milker, my cherished registered Nubian doe discovered his error. Jim noticed her in the feed room chowing down. He shoo’d her out, though did not say a word to me. The following day he had left to go back on the road. The day after I noticed that Amber was not her normal self, a bit off. I called the better half in concern and he explained what had happened 2 days before. She had eaten herself into Enterotoxemia.

December 11, 2008

More On Owning Goats

I am posting an article written by Suzanne Gasparatto of Onion Creek Ranch

After reading this, you might think it sounds as if goats are extremely hard to raise. (They really aren’t.) She has a no nonsense, down to earth, nitty gritty approach in offering information. I may not agree with all she says, but I do respect her approach to raising animals. Remember she is referring to her experiences in dealing with a large meat goat herd.

If you have time go to her site, on her front page, at the bottom, click on her health and management articles.

20 Truths About Raising Goats
by Suzanne Gasparatto of Onion Creek Ranch.

1-Mortality and goats go together. Any species that has early sexual maturity, short gestation, and multiple births is going to have deaths -- despite your efforts. Do your best and learn from your mistakes.

2-Confined goats become unhealthy or dead goats. Goats need many acres to roam in order to stay worm- and disease-free. You cannot successfully feedlot goats; they can't take the stress and crowding.

3-Unexpected problems *will* occur. Illnesses, weather problems, broken fences -- when you raise goats, problems are going to occur at the most inconvenient time, when you are exhausted, and when you can least afford it.

4-Trying to breed for all markets generally results in failure in most markets. Unless you have lots of acreage, cheap labor, and a ton of money, you cannot produce quality breeding stock, show goats, and slaughter animals. Each category is a specific type of animal and mutually exclusive of each other. Select one as your focal point and "dabble" in the others -- if you must.

5-If making the almighty dollar is your driving force, you are doomed from the start. Focus on quality animals and honest business dealings and the money will follow.

6-Show goat and meat goats are *not* the same animal. If you want to raise meat goats, don't take nutrition or management advice from show-goat people. Don't try to make show goats into breeding stock or commercial goats. Show goats are raised completely different from meat goats.

7-Goats are not the tin-can-eating animals of Saturday-morning cartoon fame. Nutrition is the most complex part of raising goats. Rumens are very easy to upset. Think in terms of "feeding the rumen, not the goat." Have a qualified goat nutritionist review your specific needs and recommend a feeding program adapted specifically to your herd. Improper feeding kills goats.

8-If someone offers you cheap bred does in the dead of winter, you can be sure that the deal is too good to be true. The act of moving them cross-country under such conditions is enough to make this a bad investment. The best you can expect is sick does and dead kids. Goats need time to adapt to new surroundings. Use common sense when transporting and relocating them.

9-Goats are livestock -- not humans, dogs, or cats. They live outside, having a distinct social pecking order, and beat the heck out of each other regularly to maintain this ranking. Goats are delightful and intelligent animals, but they weren't created to live in the house with you. Lose the urbanite approach to raising goats.

10-A goat with a big rumen is not necessarily fat. A big rumen is indicative of a good digestive factory. A goat is a ruminant and a ruminant is a pot-bellied animal. Fat on a goat layers around internal organs and also forms "pones" or "handles" that you can grab with your fingers at locations like where the chest meets the front leg. If you can pinch an inch of flesh at that point, the goat is likely fat. A light layer of subcutaneous fat over the ribs is essential.

11-Goats are NOT "little cattle." Goats and cattle are ruminants and there the similarity ends. Think of goats as *first cousins* to deer in terms of how they live, roam, and forage for food.

12-Goats are linear thinkers. The shortest distance between two points to a goat is a straight line. If you place a gate at the north end of the pasture and the home pens are south, goats are going to stand at the south end of the pasture until you have the sense to cut a gate there. If water is on the immediate other side of the fence, goats will not walk down and around the fence to get to the water. It's 'right over there,' so they'll stand in one place until you show them how to access the water or until they die of thirst. Cut a gate for easy access and save yourself some grief. Learn to think like a goat.

13-A male goat has only one purpose in life -- to reproduce his species in general and his lineage in particular. A buck in rut is a dangerous animal. He may have been cute when you were bottle-feeding him, but he is a male on a mission when does are in heat -- and you are in his way. Be careful around and always respect the danger potential of breeding bucks.

14-Bred does will kid in the worst possible weather. When sunshine changes to storms and the temperature drops below freezing, the kidding process will begin.

15-Bottle babies are a pain in the rear. Delightfully cute as they are, they grow up to be adults that are poorly socialized within the herd, overly-dependent upon humans, and usually at the bottom of the herd's pecking order. Do everything you can -- short of destroying a kid -- to avoid bottle babies.

16-Goats are creatures of habit. If you have a goat that repeatedly hangs its horns in fencing, that goat will stick its head in the same place time after time until you fit the horns with a PVC pipe secured by duct tape. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.

17-Goats are HERD animals. More so than any other livestock, goats depend upon staying together for safety. They have few natural defenses and many predators.

18-There is no such thing as a "disease-free" herd. There isn't a goat alive that doesn't have something that could be deemed *disease* in its system. The immune system requires a certain level of bacteria, worms, and coccidia in order to keep the goat healthy. No producer can guaranteed totally "disease-free" animals. When raising livestock, disease is a fact of life. You are never "in control" to the extent that you want to be or think you are.

19-Goats are the "Houdinis" of the fence world. If a goat can get its head through the fence, the body is going to follow. Goats do not naturally have a "reverse gear." Fencing material designed especially for goats is a *must.*

20-Cull or cope with your creation. Goats that are repeatedly sick, are overly susceptible to worms and coccidiosis, have chronic mastitis or foot rot/scald -- such animals should be culled and sold for food. Their line should not be perpetuated. Sell the best for breeding stock and eat the rest.

The Bath Tub Test

During a visit to the mental asylum, a visitor asked the Director how do you determine whether or not a patient should be institutionalized.

"Well," said the Director, "we fill up a bathtub, then we offer a teaspoon, a teacup and a bucket to the patient and ask him or her to empty the bathtub."

"Oh, I understand," said the visitor. "A normal person would use the bucket because it's bigger than the spoon or the teacup.

"No." said the Director; "A normal person would pull the plug. Do you want a bed near the window?"

December 10, 2008

On Owning Goats - Feeding

We believe feeding should be kept as simple as possible. Fancy Feeding (top dressing or adding unnecessary additives like beet pulp, soy or cottonseed meals, powdered additives like calf manna etc.) we feel is not necessary.

Goats require/need good quality hay and/or browse. In addition to their browsing, we feed Alfalfa Orchard Grass hay mix. Hay is a source of energy; energy is what fuels the body. Any good quality horse hay will work if Alfalfa is not available or not affordable to your budget. Desirable roughage/types of hay are Alfalfa, timothy, brome, orchard grass, sudangrass, canary and clover. Two thirds of the protein from hay is found in the leaves. Alfalfa, orchard grass, timothy and brome are leafy hays readily available to us.

Many will say that Alfalfa is too rich for their systems. We disagree. Alfalfa is chocked full of the necessary nutrients for our goats to produce milk and fiber.

Note - We do not feed fescue hay, fescue is known to create kidding problems and low milk production.
Note-During summer months we cut back on feeding hay when pasture is plentiful. In winter, hay is available 24/7.
Note - Never feed moldy hay.

They have fresh water 24/7.

We set out loose goat minerals, baking soda (for upset rumens), Sweet Lix mineral tub licks and salt blocks. Our goats seem to enjoy having a variety to choose from and know what they are missing from their diets. If you observe their eating habits, you will see some will choose only the salt lick, some will only nibble the minerals, some will devour the Sweet Lix tub.
The loose minerals and baking soda are more important than the Sweet Lix or salt blocks if cost is a factor. The loose minerals usually have salt as a main base ingredient where the Sweet Lix has the same minerals as the loose just offered in a different form.

We do not top dress their feed with vitamins supplements. A goat should get all they require in their normal diet (most feeds will have vitamins added) and a few vitamins are manufactured in their bodies. Microorganisms in a healthy rumen manufacture K and B vitamins. It is when their rumen is not functioning properly that you need to add B vitamins (Thiamine). Consuming large doses of some vitamins and minerals can also be dangerous and toxic.

With our having a small herd we chose to feed a bagged pellet non-medicated goat feed (14% protein) from a local grain mill/feed store instead of mixing our own. We prefer not to feed a sweet, molasses coated, whole grain formula. In our experience sweet feeds as well as feeds containing whole or cracked corn leads to overeating, which can cause Enterotoxemia. Our goats would also sift through the sweet feed picking out the corn and other sweets leaving all that was good for them in the feeder. Pellets eliminate the waste.

We feed their ration once a day (in the mornings). Feeding in the morning is a preventative to their going out on lush browse and developing frothy bloat, scours or overeating. All but the dairy does are fed in V-shaped trough feeders (bowls work fine too). We do not believe in feeding off the ground. When eating off of the ground the goats can and will pick up any nasty’s in the soil (worms, bacteria, etc.)

For a dairy goat to produce an adequate milk supply she needs energy, protein, calcium, phosphorus, vitamins and clean, fresh water. Our dairy girls receive the same feed as mentioned above plus are supplemented with a free choice feeder of Alfalfa pellets. We definitely see milk production directly related to the amount of Alfalfa in their diet. The dairy girls are fed on the milk stand, twice a day. I milk twice a day, roughly 12 hours a part, by hand. They eat while I milk.

I do know some that milk once a day due to their work schedule and other obligations off the farm. Most important would be to establish a routine (whether once or twice a day) and stick to it.

For the lactating does we do not milk, the Alfalfa hay provides the necessary nutrients to produce adequate milk to nurse their offspring.

For our bucks and wethers we mix whole oats in with the pellet goat feed. Crimped rolled oats are preferred, though in our area crimped rolled oats only come coated in molasses. Again we don’t like the molasses coated feedstuff so we mix whole oats with the feed for a bit of bulk and fiber in their diets to avoid UC (urinary calculi). Oats also have the highest carbohydrate content of the cereals and supply a high content of energy and heat.

Note - Oats are added to all goats feed in winter.
Note – Hay and browse alone is enough to sustain them in warm weather, when it is COLD, it takes a lot of calories for them to stay warm.

How much do we feed?
For a non-productive or non-working adult goat a maximum of 1 pound per day for body maintenance, actually a cup or two usually will be enough for bucks, wethers and non-lactating or open (not bred) goats.
For dairy does (milkers) 1 pound of grain for each 3 pounds of milk produced is a rule of thumb. A gallon of milk weighs 8.59 lbs so if your milker gives you a gallon of milk a day you would feed her 2.5 to 3 lbs of feed per day. Divide that by the number of times you milk a day, you would be feeding 1.5 lbs of ration each time you milk.
If the goat is a growing yearling, an Angora or pregnant or nursing, we feed 1.5 to 2 lbs. each. (each of these animals are supporting a growing body, producing fiber, kids or milk)

Read Your Feed Tag
Urea is not recommended by any means.
Never feed medicated feeds to your milk goats.
To avoid problems with urinary calculi, your feed mixture should be at least 2 or 3 parts calcium to 1 part phosphorus.
The tag will advise how much to feed.

We only have full size goats, Pygmy or ND breeds will require lesser amounts.

In a nutshell -
Have good hay and water available to your goat 24/7
Feed them a little bit of good goat ration mixed with a bit of oats every day
Make sure they have loose goat minerals and baking soda

December 9, 2008

The Wooly Boys

The temps have been very mild for this time of year. In the mid 40's and 50's. The animals and I both have greatly enjoyed the warm spell. The sheep decided to come up to see what I was doing out and about the farm yesterday.
If you have never experienced seeing happy Shetland sheep, you are definitely missing something :-)
The boys have this happy bouncy jumpy thing they do, a spring in their step, one minute they are standing on all fours then the next minute they have popped straight up in the air.

I tried to catch them in the's hard, very hard.

Momma's boy - Baa Baa Black Sheep - Kelly
Tell tale signs...he has been in the hay barn...strands of hay in his fleece
Touch Me Not (but getting so much better) The little guy - Kirby

A bit of friendly rough housing between the two

Angus and Aberdeen deciding who will be boss for the day
Being twins they are never far apart

Remember it is very hard to photograph a moving object

Here's Angus doing his happy know he's saying

I Feel Good!

I knew that I would

So good, so good,
Whoa-oa-oa! I feel good!

Hope you can see it, in the last 2 photos Angus has all four feet off of the ground.

December 8, 2008

On Owning Goats

If I can offer any advice in owning goats, it would be know what avenue you are pursuing and stick to it. Have a plan and set up a budget. Never invest more money than you can afford to loose especially now with economic hard times looming ahead.

Goats are definitely a versatile, sustainable animal. Different breeds of goats can provide you with milk, meat, fiber, leather, weed control, fertilizer and serve as pack animals. In addition there are also other avenues you can pursue in owning goats, breeding, stud service, showing, 4-H or FFA stock and pet quality animals.

Most local goat owners I know raise goats for the family milk supply. With the milk supply you can provide your table not only with milk, you can easily learn to make butter, cheese, yogurt, ice cream, even soap. Normally 2 dairy goats will provide enough milk for your family needs depending on the milking ability and milk production of the goat.

Milking ability and production can depend on several factors. I feel the diet of and breed of goat and their lineage are the main factors.

We do not show and never plan to show. Still all (but 1) of our dairy goats are registered with the American Dairy Goat Association and come from show stock. One of our dairy does was shown by her previous owner and has show placings of 1 Best Junior Doe In Show, 1 Grand Champion, 1 Reserve Grand Champion, 6 1st Place wins.

We did not buy her for her wins in the show ring we bought her due to her superior breed qualities and characteristic, correct structure and confirmation. She was in exceptional good health, had trouble-free pregnancies and deliveries; was known for her easy milking, nice udder with strong, high attachments and easy-going temperament.

I am not saying you should only buy and own registered animals. I am saying buy the very best you can possibly afford.

We originally began the farm with grade or non-registered animals. Our first milker, now 9 yrs. old, a grade Saanen, still is our most prolific and top producer. Her breed, (Saanen), is recognized for being heavy milkers and she holds to that breed standard. She gives us 2 gallons of milk daily when at peak production. She is not of registered stock.

We are not big time goat breeders, though having registered goats serves 2 purposes for us, the registration can be used as a tracking system and for pedigrees. With membership in ADGA (ADGA membership fees can be a farm tax deduction.) we are considering one day to participate in the ADGA Dairy Herd Improvement Registry (DHIR) milk test. Also registration can serve as a marketing tool.

To have milk, you do have to breed your dairy does.

Breeding one doe can result in possibly 4 kids. So what will you do with the offspring? Do you plan on keeping or selling the babies? This is where breeding registered stock can come into play. In some areas folks prefer to and are willing to spend the money to buy registered stock.

I do have to add, in our area, people are not looking for and will not pay for high dollar milk goats. Most could care less about "the papers". They are looking for affordable quality stock without the price tag. When goats are purchased from us, we automatically transfer the paperwork into the new owner’s names if the goats are registerable. The costs of the registration fees are included in the cost of the animal.

Note-With the ADGA you can have a non-registered doe bred to a registered buck and their female offspring can be registered. See their website for registry information.

I have a close friend who also has milk goats, she refuses to own a buck. Each year she rents a buck from another farm to stud her does. At the end of the breeding season she returns the buck to the owner. One year she did buy a buck for breeding to turn around and sell him after he did his job.

I prefer to have our own buck, I know what lines and pedigree he has, know his health history and that he is not carrying in any diseases to the farm. (My goal is have a closed goat herd as of December 2009 which means stud service will no longer be an income option for us.)

We are also a bit different than many goat owners, we have a variety of breeds of goats for a variety of purposes. We can cross breed our full size meat and dairy goats to produce market kids or commercial meat stock yet still have our dairy goats in milk.

Our Angoras are a smaller breed of goat and can not be bred to our full size Boer buck so we have both Angora does and bucks. If we ever felt it necessary we could breed an Angora buck to any of our full size does.

The majority of our goats are registered with their breed registries…Angoras with Colored Angora Goat Breeders Association, Boer with the American Boer Goat Association.

December 7, 2008

Another Stray Dog

One of the Great Pyrenees is in heat. When she was a pup we had decided not to have her spade and to breed her to a friend’s male registered GP. This was before the Demodectic mange appeared. We highly regret the decision at this time. For now she is confined to the dog run. Her being behind bars does not seem to stop any intact male dog within 40 miles from showing up on the farm.
A strange very large black dog showed up 4 days ago. I managed to keep him at bay by using my mean voice and bellowing "get out of here" any time he came within hearing range. This worked during day light hours, though under the cover of night who knows where the intruder went or what he would do.
Friday I had enough of the worry that he was not only a stray, possibly a mean stray and would do harm to our goats or birds. I started calling all near and far neighbors I knew, I ask them to call their near and far neighbors in attempt to find this black dogs owners. Yesterday morning the owner came to collect the black beast. He probably was a really nice dog, but not my really nice dog and he needed to go!
We have 4 livestock guardian dogs, with Hannah in the dog run that leaves 3 dogs to patrol our 15 acres. Would you believe that not one of the 3 would chase the black dog off unless I yelled get out of here?
They normally do their jobs well. They will bark at, chase down and protect the farm from even the tiniest squirrel. Strange cats are treed and should really fear for their lives. They keep the fox, raccoon, opossum, deer and the closest neighbors dogs away. Their nights are spent howling at coyote, barking at the sound of distant traveling vehicles, anything that goes bump in the night sets off a chain reaction in the valley…our dogs bark, the neighbor’s dogs bark, the wind carries the sound up over the hills, those dogs bark, and so on. They dislike and have nipped at the electric meter reader; they have even chased and refused to move from in front of vehicles transporting goats we have sold from the farm.
So what gives with the black dog I wonder? I told them they were treading on thin ice. If they weren’t careful I would fire each and every one of them if they allowed the black dog back on the farm.
Oh...and I also called the vet, Hannah will have her social responsibilities removed in two weeks.

December 5, 2008

This Time Last Year

There was much activity on the farm at this time last year. As I mentioned in a previous post, the work started the first week of December, the sections of the house arrived the second week and we were able to begin moving in on December 20th.

Dozer preparing to start work clearing the area for the new house foundation.

Made quick work of removing the 12 trees

Building up and leveling (this was actually quite a bit of work, we live on a hill side)Pouring concrete for the foundation

Digging and installing water lines to the well house

The foundation piers attempting to dry in the snow

Parts of the new house being delivered and put in place

The better half inspecting sections as they arrived
Annie venturing out in the snow to inspect the back doors

Construction of the back screened in sun room/deck

The roofers finishing up laying the shingles

December 4, 2008

Fixin Fence

Tuesday afternoon the 4 legged Thanksgiving guests to the farm were loaded up and returned home. I was actually relieved for the most part. The visiting goats were mostly Nubian and Nubian cross. These ladies held true to their breed and were the most verbal group of goats we have dealt with in ages. Bless their pea pickin’ hearts they were so stressed to be dumped off at a strange farm and have a blubbering odoriferous buck chasing their tails, all they could do was cry. One was so stressed she developed a bit of the scours and went off her feed. We took her home immediately.
To bring the does in for the visit with Axle we had to create a pen just for the occasion. Which was not too difficult of a task since we are set up where we can section off parts of the pastures by swinging a gate or cattle panel back or forth. Unfortunately we had to move Axle’s best friend Cookie out for the breeding session. She does not take kindly to other goats being around her bud and can be wicked mean with her horns. She went to room with Buffy who she also considers her friend. Buffy is the only resident of the kidding pen (due in the next two weeks) right now so imagine both enjoyed the company.
All in all the session went smoothly up until I opened the pasture allowing Axle to return to his normal place. We had just taken away his little harem, Cookie was no where to be seen so he started bellowing and running the four corners of the pasture. I collected Cookie, lead her back to Axle and the pen, closed the gate and all seemed content.
I am not quite sure what outside chore I was involved with when I heard the dogs raising a ruckus and running for the back fence line. Looking up I saw Cookie and Axle at a dead run making a B line for the dairy goat pen (who are in heat at this time). Guess he thought he still had work to do.
Seeing a goat run is not too odd, but normally our goats trot. Seeing a 300 lb. South African Boer buck at a flat out dead run is actually quite amazing… the ability to move such weight gracefully, the muscle movement, the surefootedness and speed. It seemed to be no more than a hot second and he was at the dairy pen blubbering. I grabbed a bucket of food, shook the can and headed in the direction of his pen. Luckily he followed.
Somehow a small section of field fence on the back fence line had been buckled down. Imagine the visiting dairy girls were looking for a way out, stood on the fence and it slowly folded under the weight. Cookie being an Alpine (all our Alpines have been jumpers) found the low spot showing Axle in the process and out they had came.
All’s well that ends well… I fixed the fence, everyone is back in his or her rightful pen and no one was bred during the great escape.
No one being accidentally bred is my main concern. We have tried so hard to downsize and control our numbers. This will be the first winter in 9 years that I have not had to spend out in the freezing temps kidding or with bottle babies in the house. Hoping this winter I can concentrate on processing fiber, rug hooking and other crafts that I never have time for.