May 30, 2009

Visiting the Dairy Girls

The photo below is Sarah Beth our 9 year old grade Saanen. She is "Queen" of the farm as well as the dairy herd queen. Depending on the day, the better half calls her either the good ole goat or the mean ole goat. She is definitely both. She takes no guff from anyone and will fight tooth and horn to keep her title. She definitely makes it known she is Queen.
She knows her job and does it well. Without guidance or assistance she enters the milk room, walks up onto the stand, stands quietly and is very well behaved during milking. She exits the milk room the same way.
Sarah Beth was my first milking goat. At peak gives 2 gallons a day, each kidding delivers quads. Seriously, every year she has 4 kids. Regardless of the breed of buck we have bred her to, she produces 4 kids.
She has provided milk for our family for going on 8 years now. Over the years her milk has also bottle fed various breeds and many, many goat kids. Sarah Beth has now been retired from breeding, she has not been bred in over 365 days and continues to give 1/2 gallon of milk a day. I am thinking she may never dry off. That's OK. I'll milk her as long as she produces.

Below is Greymantle's Barb, our 4 yr. old ADGA registered purebred LaMancha. In her previous life she was a show goat. Her show placings include : 1 Best Junior Doe In Show, 1 Grand Champion, 1 Reserve Grand Champion, 6 1st Place wins. She originally was born and lived in Maine. Now she is one of our family milkers in Missouri. At peak she offers 1 gallon a day.
Barb is a gentle girl, is rather timid and she dislikes men. She is also a biter, due to not having horns she uses her teeth to get her point across.
Very Pregnant, due to kid week of June 8th.
Below is Isabella, Barb's daughter. Isabella's father was Briar Bay Intelligent Design a purebred Saanen buck from Texas. Isabella is registered as an ADGA Experimental, 50% Saanen, 50% LaMancha. Isabella is 2 years old, her first kidding last year produced twins. She also gives a gallon a day which was very good for a first freshner.
Stretching to wake up
Though Isabella is registered, she has 2 qualities that would disqualify her from any show ring and many dairy goat owners would turn their noses up and really frown at. 1 - she has horns. We do not disbud or de-horn our goats. Barb is the only one on our farm who is hornless, she came to us that way. (Well some of the sheep are polled.)

Wide load, Isabella is due the same timeframe as Barb
The other disqualification would be that Isabella has 3 teats. The teats are fully functional teats, not fish teats or spur teats like on Boer goats, but separate teats. They create 3 working udder sections. Not concerned at all about the fact she has this. An extra teat is a recessive gene and can be brought out by breeding. Research shows that recessive genes can be brought out by the "Environment of the pregnancy" (ie: an extra teat can be caused by the doe having to much protein in the placenta). We will never know what caused the 3rd teat. Her kids from last year were both normal.
The extra udder section is in front of the udder on the left hand side.
The purple is a antiseptic spray we used to treat a cut on her back leg. She either scratched it on something or tangled with a piece of barb wire fencing ( we are in the process of removing all barb wire from the farm).
Barb and Isabella eating their breakfast at the feeder while pregnant.
After Barb and Isabella kid they will return to eating their meals on the milk stand while being milked.
I am still debating if I will pull the kids from the girls to bottle feed while I milk or if I will leave the kids on their mothers and milk once a day.

May 29, 2009

It's Feeding Time

In anticipation
all gathering at the feeders. Shetland boys at the back feeder. All others gathering at the front.
Pushing and shoving to get closer to the feed bucket coming through.
The Sundance Kid (gray/black) comes plowing through the group.
Politely waiting are
Bella Mia (black) and daughter Aurora (white) behind her.
Bonnie Lass
Bonnie's daughter Fairchild
Annie, Aurora, Bella with Fairchild in front.
We sheared all Angoras last month (April). It truly amazes me how quickly their fleece has grown in a matter of a month. I am also seeing change in the fleeces as each animal ages. Jacob's Chance has the tightest curls I have seen on a buck. In the photo below you can see Bella lost much of her curls this year, what use to be ringlets are now waves. She also has/is showing more white which was previously silver/gray.
The only non fiber producing animals in this group
Camel (Alpine/Boer) and her mother Annie (Boer).

Jacob's Chance our Angora herdsire in front.
Aberdeen (Shetland) and Fairchild eating on other side of feeder.
Jacob's Chance (white rear), The Sundance Kid (black side) at the hay feeder with Angus and Aberdeen (Shetlands) munching on a few alfalfa pellets.
Why no hay in the feeder?
Because they have 8 acres of fresh green pasture to browse.

And because I am hoping for beautiful fall fleeces with no VM (vegetable matter). By their browsing on pasture (eating downwards) nothing will hopefully stick in their fleece. During the winter they seemed to collect any and all debris that was in the hay. If the first fleece I skirted is an indication of what the others will be, the winter fleeces we have will not be worth much.

The Ewe Lambs waiting for their breakfast.



Yeah, I agree really bad photos of the ewe lambs.
Just can't get a photo when they are velcro'd to you.

The Birds

At least most of them, the Guinea is in there, a couple of Peafowl, a few hens.

In Hog Heaven

It has been raining on and off everyday for the last 2 weeks it seems.

The feeder pigs are knee deep in their comfort zone...mud.

One barn cat takes a chance and cuts across the pig really can't see it but the pig is biting it's tail.

Tomorrow we'll visit the dairy girls - Barb, Isabella and Sarah Beth. Til then have a good day.

May 28, 2009


As you know homeowners insurance is one of those must have’s when you finance a home. When we purchased our new home we called various insurance agencies to compare rates and coverage. We chose a well-known company with what we thought were competitive rates. We also set it up so our insurance payment was included in our house payment.

Shortly after we purchased the home we were notified by our lender that they had not received proof of insurance even though we had a binder and the insurance agent had been paid. I contacted the agent who apologized and said it would be taken care of immediately. Assuming she would handle the matter quickly we contacted our lender a couple of days later to verify they had what they needed. Yes they were satisfied that we had insurance.

Fast forward a year later, our lender again notifies us that they did not receive the documentation needed to show the renewal of proof of insurance on the home. The better half was furious with the insurance agent we chose. She was not doing her job. He went to her office, he told her we no longer would be requiring her services and would be going to another agent (same company) in town.

The new agent was happy to assist (he would get the commission not her) and set about changing things over. He asked that we request our old agent to send our file to him. She said she would, but never did. The new agent searched the company database in an attempt to find our information. He contacted his supervisor and asked for assistance. To our (and his) surprise there was no file…apparently we did not have insurance through this company.

The new agent attempted to set things straight. He came out to look at the home, take photographs, get info, etc. Not sure if it was due to the situation created by the original agent but that company could not insure us. According to the second agent we were too rural (come on we are a farm for pity sake) and some other odd ball reason like the size of our access road. Funny those things did not come up when she originally insured us.

They ask that we not contact the original agent again, they brought in an ‘investigator" from their company and the craziness began. It has taken us 3 months to collect and provide information for the investigator. We have had to contact each and every company and person involved in the purchase and closing of our home for information and to locate a copy of the original check written by the actual closing agent to the original insurance agent.

We have had to purchase insurance through a new company.

When it comes down to it…the original insurance agent took our money, wrote out a false binder, never created a policy and sent the lending company false documentation. Do you think this would be considered Insurance Fraud?

Oh and yes ... since we could provide a copy of the original check we do get our money back for the year of insurance we paid for but never received.

May 26, 2009

Farm Food

This weekend a few family members gathered at the farm to join us for Memorial Day weekend.
Par for the course with every family gathering a discussion on or about our way of life, mainly our "farm food" develops. Some admire the efforts we make, some seem sincerely amazed at how we do it, some tend think we are a bit eccentric.
The food we eat and serve is mainly food we grow on the farm. All family members are aware of this fact.
We have a few that will not drink our milk due to it being goat milk. How quickly they forget when it comes time to having that bowl of ice cream, a piece of cheese or fudge. Yeppers, all made with goat milk.

We have one who says she will only eat store bought eggs. Will not eat an egg if the hen that laid it was with a rooster. Can’t explain her reasoning behind that, I didn’t bother to ask (to each his own, we only eat farm fresh eggs).
One member turns into a vegetarian when she walks through our door. She refuses to eat any meat from an animal she thinks she has met.
Some are actually hesitant to eat any meat dishes because they think it maybe goat. They will ask what the ingredients are before indulging.

This year one sister in law had been reading "In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto" by author Michael Pollan. I personally believe that Pollan’s suggestion that people "Don't eat anything that your great-grandmother would not recognize as food" to be spot on.

The sister’s interest in eating more naturally sparked a pleasant, lengthy conversation amongst all on natural food and gardens or her desire to have a garden in their back yard. This also led to a discussion on eating local food, CSA’s, then the unpleasant topic of raising livestock for meat. Yes, it is a common practice in sustainable farming. Yes, we do raise animals to butcher, but no, we do not butcher the large animals ourselves. We have a butcher we chose that we trust and know has the utmost respect for our animals.
For me feeder animals are the hardest to raise. It is not easy to mark an animal as terminal. Though it is the cycle of life and a necessity for our lifestyle. While they are here they are raised happily, healthy and humanely in the same manner as our other animals.
We talked about the 100-mile diet, the Eat Local Challenges, how being "locavore" continued to gain popularity and the importance of natural foods to our health.
One city dwelling sister-n-law mentioned they have found they really enjoyed artisan cheeses from one of the specialty shops in the city. She and I both were pleasantly surprised she found my Chevre to be less tart and tangy than the expensive store bought (who’da thought). She brought to my attention that my goat milk cheeses would be considered artisan, farmstead and/or specialty if I would consider selling them. That turned into another discussion on what labels imply or what a consumer thinks when seeing certain labels and what they really meant. Plus what we would have to do to be certified to either sell the raw milk or make the cheese (which we can’t afford or feel the need to do).
You know I never really considered how I might market my cheeses if I were to sell them, but yes, why yes, they could be considered all three – artisan, farmstead and specialty.

According to the American Cheese Society, the word "artisan or artisanal implies that a cheese is produced primarily by hand, in small batches, with particular attention paid to the tradition of the cheesemaker’s art, and thus using as little mechanization as possible in the production of the cheese. Artisan, or artisanal, cheeses may be made from all types of milk and may include various flavorings."

The Wisconsin Specialty Cheese Institute defines this category of cheese as: "Specialty cheese is defined as a value-added cheese product that is of high quality and limited quantity. A cheese product can be said to be of high quality if it commands a premium price, is of exotic origin, has particular processing, design, limited supply, unusual application or use, or extraordinary packing or channel of sale. A specialty cheese type cannot have a nationwide annual volume of more than 40 million pounds."

The American Cheese Society defines Farmstead cheese as:
1. Milk from herds on the farm where the cheese is produced.

2. Care and attention given to the purity, quality, and flavor of the milk.

3. Production primarily accomplished by hand.

4. Natural ripening with emphasis on development of characteristic flavor and texture, without the use of shortcuts and techniques to increase yield and shelf life at the expense of quality.

5. Respect for the traditions and history of cheese making regardless of the size of the production.

The better half pointed out that the meals they consumed at the farm were something that Great-Grandmother would definitely recognize, would herself have cooked and raised on her farm. The meals included items such as farm fresh bacon and eggs, pork ribs and chicken, potato salad, three-bean salad, deviled eggs, goat milks cheeses, fresh baked bread and rolls, goat milk ice cream and strawberry shortcake.

One cousin stated Great-Grandmother would be proud.

May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

Today we honor those known and unknown heroes who have sacrificed themselves in the name of Freedom. By their deeds alone we have obtained the right to enjoy our lives, our liberties, our pursuit of happiness.

May 21, 2009

Busy With...

Garden – daily playing in the dirt.

Fencing – yeppers, with dear son’s help we expanded a goat pen and repaired one of the fences. (Totally by ourselves, proud as punch we are. Aches and pains where we never thought aches and pains would be but we did it.)

Cooking – dear son home = someone to cook for.

Spring Clean Up – tree limbs and branches, trash blown in from who knows where during the past week of storms.

Animals – Officially on baby watch now. New kids to arrive within the next 3-4 weeks. We may (that is a big maybe, the guys say this every year but none have ever arrived) be adding 2 bottle calves within the next week.

Fiber – sorting and washing fleece, soon to be carding.

Family – Dad and Sister are doing better. Mom now going to respiratory therapy 3 times a week

May 14, 2009

Morning from the farm

It’s a comfy 62 degrees and hoping for a quiet day weather wise.

Dad came home from the hospital on Mother’s Day. He is doing as well as can be expected. Diagnosed with Pleural Effusion this time around.
"Pleural effusion, sometimes referred to as "water on the lungs," is the build-up of excess fluid between the layers of the pleura outside the lungs. The pleura are thin membranes that line the lungs and the inside of the chest cavity and act to lubricate and facilitate breathing."
Causes can be abdominal surgery and Pneumonia. Dad had the gallbladder surgery, which afterwards he developed Pneumonia then the Pleural Effusion followed. He still has labored breathing, though is resting comfortably, eating a bit more and seems to have a bit more energy.

Not only did Dad come home from the hospital on Mother’s Day. The better half made it home for the day. He originally thought he wouldn’t make it but he did. We met 3 of his sisters, his mother, a sister-n-law, and a nephew in Lebanon for Mother’s Day lunch and a bit of family time. The afternoon we spent with my parents. The guys made dinner for Sister and I that evening. It was a good day and so nice to see everyone.

Sister came down from the city and has been staying at the farm since Dad has been ill. She has good days and bad days. We take advantage of the good days, getting out and about visiting thrift shops and second hand stores (one of her favorite activities). I made arrangement for her to have crochet lessons today. Knitting and crocheting she can do without much physical activity and is a project she can stop and start easily.

Good news concerning her health , the arsenic levels in her blood are not increasing so the arsenic poisoning was from something in the past. Her tremors were a side effect of a new medication, changing out medications stopped the tremors. As far as the abnormal brain shrinkage, they are still attempting to find the cause.

Roses came for Mother’s Day in the form of a rose bush. I have been wanting to plant some in the front yard. Believe it or not this will be the first year I am able to have an area without the goats having access to and eating anything I plant.
Plus… a new house goat. The best kind – stuffed. The guys ran into Tractor Supply for something and came home with this cute little fellow.

The access road/driveway was rebuilt yesterday. Had 2 dump trucks of rock and dirt hauled in, a grater smoothed things out and cut new ditches on the sides so the water should flow down and away not over. We can now come and go without fear of the road collapsing or falling off the side.

Tomatoes, peppers, strawberries, broccoli, cauliflower, eggplant, okra, cucumbers, onions and various salad greens are growing quite nicely. The yellow wax beans have new little purple flowers. The heavy rain and hail beat many down though I don’t think we lost any. I can’t wait for the first homegrown tomato... yum!

The hummingbirds arrived. A mating pair I do believe. I hung the feeders out a few days ago. Very delighted to see them visiting.
Til next time, have a good one!

May 9, 2009

The Hail of It and Blog~a~versary

Friday morning Brutus the pup woke me up about 5:30'ish or so for his early a.m. feeding. It was drizzling when I turned the other dogs out the front door for their morning potty break and went about the inside morning routine. I checked the weather and noticed we were under a thunderstorm watch.
About the same time daylight was arriving so did the hail.
Adam is a heavy sleeper, hard to wake him most of the time. Though the hail brought him out of bed and questioning what the noise was.

I waited until the storm had passed then went out to take a few photos. Figured no one would believe me.
The white is the hail - in the front

Below is the door to the screened in porch on the back of the house. This is where we get most of the run off from the roof when it rains (the small white bucket collects rain water for watering house plants - it was filled from the storm). The hail had bounced, rolled and collected in the same area where the rain runs off.
Hopefully you can see the hail on the roof and at the base of the ramp (where the ramp begins)
Most pieces of hail were this size.
Shortly after the hail storm passed the more severe weather arrived. Thankfully we did not suffer any major damage. Only a few branches fell, a few plastic buckets and odds-n-ends were blown about the barn yard. During the last few minutes of the storms our electric went out. The electric was out for about 5 hours after the storms passed.
The "all clear" was given about 10:30. I went out to check on the livestock and finish up the morning routine. I went to the bottom pasture to feed, the sheep were not in their shelter. Of course I didn't think to carry the camera with me. I found the boys out happily browsing the high spots in the pasture totally unconcerned about the flash flooding, oblivious to the fact that the creek had jumped it banks, flooded the bottom pastures and flood waters were rushing not 50 feet from them. Luckily when they heard me yell "breakfast boys" they came running and I closed the flooded pasture off.
Standing on the back porch I could see and hear the flood waters gushing down the wet weather creek that is the boundary line of the back of our property. It was the highest it has ever been in the 12 years Jim has owned the property.
Later in the day after the electric came back on and the flood water retreated, the neighbors up and down our drive brought to my attention that the flood waters had taken out part of our access road and there was no way in or out. According to their reports one section of the road had been washed away and it could no longer be driven over without fear of driving off the side or the road caving in.
Knowing I could be of no help I call Matt (BIL) to come out to look things over. Turns out there really was some damage to the drive. A drain/culvert was clogged and the flood waters went over top of the road instead of under the road. The flood waters sheared about a foot off of a section of the road, a person could drive off the side down a steep drop if they did not pay attention to what they were doing. He highly doubted if the road would cave in, said it was still driveable just not with large machinery. He sunk a couple of T-posts as markers to show where the road side dropped off and what area to avoid. He thinks a few dump truck loads of dirt and gravel will fill it in and will have the road back to normal.
While he was here he saved me the task of walking the back of the property. He wanted to check out the creek area, he had never seen the water so high. On his walk about he discovered the flood water had also taken out most of our fencing on the back of the farm. Guess what we will be doing in the near future...more fencing.
Can you believe that today is my 1st year Blog~a~versary? Sending a big Thank You to my followers and visitors. It means so much to see that you visit and read the blog.

May 7, 2009


The morning sky
The doctor’s diagnosed Dad with pneumonia. The medications did not seem to help much. Back to the hospital he went. Definitely has fluid on his lungs, now concerned about congestive heart failure. Hoping to hear results from tests this morning.

Scarlet and Pittypat now are down to one bottle a day. Weaning time makes for fussy babies don’t you know.

Brutus the 3-week-old pup now has his eyes open and is eating like a champ.
Again excuse the poor quality photo, Brutus is so dark black you have to get so close to see his eyes, which makes for blurry pic with el cheapo camera.
According to the calendar Barb and Isabella (dairy goats) have 4 weeks to go before kidding.

Don’t forget -
HFA Fiber Fair 2009 ~ Sponsored by Highland Fiber Artists
May 16, 2009 ~ Webster County Fairgrounds ~ Marshfield, Missouri
The theme of HFA Fiber Fair 2009 is "15 and Going Green."
You will learn more about natural fibers, those from plants as well as animals, and how choosing these renewable resources over synthetics will help protect our environment.

May 5, 2009

Stretched Thin, Dad, Spring & Dog Poor

Feels like I have been absent from blogging much too long. Hope everyone is doing well.
Not sure where to begin…seems my feet would hit the floor running each and every morning for quite awhile. Each day felt like a whirl wind of activity, never any quiet or down time until I fell into bed. There were trips into town with Sister either to the hospital to see Dad, take him to the doctor’s office or over to take meals to, check on and sit with. The phone rang off the wall between the normal daily activities of caring for the critters & farm plus having family in and out for the last three weeks to see about Dad.
Right now things are on a more even keel and have quieted down. I do feel a bit stressed, tired and running close to empty.

Dad is recovering from his surgery though has developed pneumonia. Doing as well as can be expected for his age and condition. I want to thank everyone for their well wishes and prayers.

Spring has really sprung!
Though a bit wet from much needed rain, the temperatures have been beautiful. Things are greening, growing and pasture is thick. No more feeding hay, everyone is on spring pasture, well not the dairy girls they still get their Alfalfa.

We have now officially gone to the dogs and are dog poor!
Had a call from a breeder who we have helped out in the past with bottling or caring for special needs pups. She was attempting to find homes for a few of her kennel dogs for various reasons.
OK, I know I shouldn’t have, but I being the softhearted, can’t say no…call me crazy, decided to adopt a year old male Lhaso Apso. Say hello to Buster Brown.
He is a hoot to say the least. It has been quite amusing to watch while he experiences his first’s…first sniff and touch of grass, first time his feet touched carpet, first run around the house, first meet and greet with goats, sheep and chickens. Will require a bit of work to change over from kennel to country life, but we are working on it.

Sadie one of our livestock guardians had a litter of pups about 3 weeks ago. Thanks to the male Lab/Rot cross dog over the hill that came a courting a few months ago.

Unfortunately, Sadie had problems with this litter. I won’t go into the sad particulars, will just leave it at the surviving pup is now in the house. My son decided to adopt, take charge of and is bottle-feeding the pup. We welcome Brutus to the family. Sorry about the not so good photo of Brutus at 3 weeks old.

Oh and remember Elly, the one that just showed up on the stoop during the last winter ice storm. We gave her to friends of the family that wanted and were looking for a dog. She didn’t like them, refused to eat so she came back.
So as things stand now our canine crew consists of 4 inside house dogs: Benjamin (deaf & almost blind) - 14 yr. old Shih Tzu. Claire - 3 yr. old Shih Tzu. Buster Brown - 1 yr. old Lhasa Apso. Elly- who knows what breed.
Then we have the outside dogs - Front yard



Then the livestock guardians Sadie and Hannah. Add Brutus to the bunch and we are at 9 dogs. I do believe nine is more than enough.