Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Udderly Fantastic

This morning marked the beginning of my goat milking schedule. I will be milking 5, but only on my days off. The couple of days I work the kids will still nurse all but two, until later this summer, when they are sold. THEN I will surely be getting up in the wee hours of the morning!
My three top producers this morning yielded almost 2 gallons of milk between them. Here are pics of two of them, the third I deleted somehow but will show later.
The one on the left is Marta, a registered french alpine. She was my first milk goat and though she is not the highest producer(only because she is trying to rival Buddha with her very round belly instead of producing milk!) she is an easy milker and produces quite a bit. I am retaining her doe kid this year as Marta is getting on up there in age. Roxanne, on the right, is a registered saanen. She is producing a gallon plus a day and is also an easy hand milker. I sold her little doe kid early on . The one that I will post tomorrow is Linnea, an American alpine who also milks a gallon plus a day . She is by far the heaviest milker I have and even though her kid is a cross this year, she will stay. The other 2 little does are yearlings and I was very pleased with them. Oma, the little girl who is a saanen / lamancha cross was very impressive! She milked out almost 40 oz's. Being that she was the last on the stand I decided to give her a dose of garlic and trim her feet. I never knew that goats could spit~ until today. Yes, they can and will spit ALL of the garlic barrier dose on you. I now smelled like the bread sticks from the Olive Garden. I finished feeding the kids and headed off to find the little bottle lamb. She was having a fine time in the tall grass but after a few calls, she bounced up. She likes to be held while she sips her bottle so I picked her up and proceeded to start feeding her. While holding her I felt a lovely warm stream start down my side on my leg. So nice of her to share.

Those chores finished, I turned my attention to the cashmeres. They needed to be dewormed in order to turn them out on the new pasture. Again the girls were relatively easy to handle, the bucks however tried to maim me as usual and I came to the grand conclusion that reinforcements would need to be called in to handle them in the future. Finally, all done I once again limped to the house to change clothes.
I finished up the day by planting a few more things in the garden. It is slowly starting to look like a garden but things are going to be very late this year, I think.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Crazy Weather

This morning around 5:30, as I was thinking about getting out of bed, I heard the weather man say "chance of thunderstorms and possibly hail". Great, I thought. The horses need to be put up and all those plants I bought yesterday will need to be put under cover. So, I hit the floor running. I still had to bake, milk, feed babies and leave for work at 9:40. Chores done, I made it to work. Sometimes that is a nice place to go and rest! ;o)
Rain began to fall around noon and so did the temperatures. So much so we had to build a fire in the old wood stove to warm the store. By the time I left work I was about to freeze. A cold rain fell all evening as I finished up chores. Wearing jeans, 2 shirts and winter boots, it truly felt like winter again. Yuk~
On the bright side of things though, when I turned the sheep out yesterday I also turned out Jasmine, the milk cow, and tonight her milk was up about 3/4 gallon to almost 2 gallons again. Amazing what some good green grass will do for a girl!

Monday, April 26, 2010

Planting the Field & Happy Sheep

We finally finished getting the field ready for millet and got that in Saturday morning. The field has not been worked for years and needed a good bit done to it. We spent most of Friday ripping it, then tilling, then dragging it... At one point we had 2 tractors and the bobcat working it. We had what seemed like millions of rocks to pick up. I walked along in front of the bobcat bucket tossing in rocks for well over 2 hours! We called it a day around 7:30. Talk about sleeping good!!

Saturday morning the radar looked like it was about to pour any second so Doug hurried out to get the seed and fertilizer out around 5 a.m. while I started baking. The rain didn't make it here until late afternoon so we were able to finish stretching the fence and move the animals to another pasture. Late afternoon brought a slow and steady rain that lasted all night, perfect for the crop!!

Sunday the next to last LGD pup left. I have one here but am sitting on the fence about keeping him. At 8 weeks I see a lot potential in him. I am just not sure I have the energy to raise a puppy this summer ;o))

Today the sheep got to go out to the pasture. They were so thrilled after having been dry lotted for the last few weeks. I first fed them hay and grain so their tummies were full.( I didn't want them gorging on all that tall luscious grass!) I then de-wormed all of the adults. That went fairly well and I only got my feelings hurt once when a young ewe nailed me in the leg. Hopefully this year I can keep a handle on the parasite issues here. I am also feeding kelp mixed with DE, which they seem to love, fingers crossed, we will see if this helps. Will keep you posted on that...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Finally! New Lambs

Just as I was beginning to think the girls were going to hold out forever, we were blessed with 5 lambs this weekend. A set of twins were born Friday a single and another set of twins this morning. All are healthy and doing well. I am supplementing the tiny little girl born Friday with a bit of goats milk since her brother is such a pig but she is still nursing as well. We have 3 ewes left to go and 4 that did not or were not bred this year, so lambing will be over soon.

Yesterday we set posts for yet another cross fence. We plan to stretch wire one evening this week. This puts us at 8 pastures that we can rotate off and on. A definite dream come true, especially for the sheep and goats and managing parasite issues. One pasture will be planted in millet this coming week. We will mow it for hay once and then forage it later this summer. We are now thinking we may plant winter rye in that pasture in the fall and have good grazing all winter for some of the animals. Those plans are still being tossed around.
We finally got the meat birds moved to the tractor this weekend as well. They were extremely happy to be able to move about! I am still keeping lights on them for a couple more weeks since our nights are still a bit chilly. They will be moved to the orchard in about 2 weeks to finish growing out.
Lastly we got a few more crops in the ground. Sweet corn, popcorn, tomatoes and squash just to name a few. I hope to get everything else in this coming week. We are in desperate need of rain which is hard to believe as wet as it was earlier. Hay season is right around the corner!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

On Being Prepared...

I am all about family preparedness. I believe our shelves and freezers should have enough to substain us for at least a year, hopefully more. There should be canned goods from our garden. Meat from our flocks and herd. A stockpile of other necessary items we may need and definitely an emergency medical kit. However, I have never mentioned our spiritual pantry. Our spiritual pantry needs to be filled daily with prayer, meditation and good deeds. All the other things we put by only meet our needs here on earth, and we won't need them forever.
You can probably read between the lines and know that today we suddenly lost a person that seemed larger than life and was very close to my husband. I have prayed for his soul and his family. And as Forrest Gump would say.. that is all I have to say about that. Blessings to all.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Heading To The Hills

Today I made a flying trip to Bakersville, N.C. to deliver 2 of the lgd pups and pick up some dairy goat kids. Only planning to come back with one, I ended up coming back with 3. And that is the way it is when I visit Oak Moon Farm and Creamery! My dear sweet friends and dairy goat mentors, Cynthia and Dwain, have been there for me since I bought my first dairy goats many years ago. I also snuck into the creamery and picked up some of her famous "red cat" chevre which is my favorite cheese she makes and was licking it off the lid on the way down the road. It is a wonder any made it home.
My mom came along for the ride and we met up with her sister and hubby for for a quick bite to eat before heading down the mountain. Road construction was an absolute pain and it seemed evey time we started making decent time we were hung up again. Finally arrived back down here around 4, but had to swing in by the feed store and drop mom.
Once home, I got all the new children settled and fed and finished up all the other chores by 8 or so.
No new lambs today.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Working on the Garden Shed & Orchard

A while back we bought an old pony barn from our neighbor. It has been sitting, waiting for it's real purpose in life and this weekend began it's new life as the garden shed. We cleaned it out and measured it for a new floor and interior walls. We plan to put a front porch on it and potting shed off of the side. We will keep all of our gardening tools, hoses , sprayers, ect in it. We hope to eventually run power so we can store our seeds as well.

We measured for the picket fence that I want to run across the front of the orchard. It is already fenced on three sides and I want to fence the front so the meat birds will have another pasture to range in. I am also hoping it will help with insect issues under the fruit trees.We did have to put up some 2 ft. chicken wire along one side since that fencing the 4 x4 woven wire and the birds can fit through it for a bit longer. They are getting really big and will be moved to the chicken tractor this week to finish feathering out and then on to the pasture.

While working in the orchard I got the raspberry bed weeded and mulched. This year looks like we will have a bumper crop of apples, berries, pears and plums. The apple blossoms were just beautiful!!

This morning lamb check revealed a huge black ram lamb that was still slightly damp. He was doing well and his mom was none too pleased that I wanted to handle him. I am amazed that more ewes have not gone this week. They are all huge! Right now our count stands at 3 ewes and 2 rams.

Friday, April 9, 2010


Or should I say OMG the weekend is here?! It seems that this was a week of just getting by.

I awoke to the barking of all the dogs at the gate. I went to investigate and found a really old lab-looking dog hanging there. We are of the mindset to shoot, shovel and shut up if strays are running or attacking our stock. This old guy just seemed to be a bit lost, down in the hips, cataracts, gray at the mouth. I figured he was probably not a threat but I did call the local vets to see if they knew where he might belong. No luck. I delivered bread and came back to look for him to see if I could find his home. He was not around anymore. Seems my neighbor called animal control and had him picked up. I will continue to try and find out where he belongs, poor guy.
I did manage to disbud a few more goats today with the help of my son. The dreaded deed. I had to re-do some of the earlier kids and do the last of the newer ones. They all survived but I felt a bit nauseous after we were done. The next to last dairy goat kidded late today. It is my part lamancha, unfortunately it is a buck but he is a cutie.

My dear hubby has been working practically 24/7 and told me he was mine for tomorrow. Silly man does he really want to attack my to do list?? Hmmm... where do we begin.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Lamb #2 ... and 3 & 4

When I arrived home from work today I discovered a lovely little moorit spotted ewe lamb. I was so excited since I didn't get not one spotted lamb last year! I went on to get chores done as we are under a tornado watch and bad weather is expected. My sweet young son had already come home and corralled the puppies in a stall so we could put the horses under cover and not have to worry about them getting stepped on. Talk about some unhappy campers! I have never heard such crying and whining going on. Thank goodness they finally got tired and went to sleep!

We dodged showers and finally got everyone taken care of. I got back to the house and started supper. Once everything was pretty much ready,I scampered back to the barn to take a pic of the new arrival just in time to find 2 more newer arrivals! They were still soaking wet. It was thundering and starting to rain again but I was able to slowly entice her to the barn where they would be warm and dry. It looks like we have a gray moorit ram and a solid moorit ewe. I snapped a few pics and headed back to the house.
My son was concerned about something that was skittering on the pond surface and went to check it out. He called for me to come help. It turned out to be a bat that had somehow landed it the middle of the pond and made it to shore. Poor little guy was wet and cold. I wasn't real sure what to do with it , so I went to get a shovel and brought it up to where it would at least be dry for the night. I put in a pot under shed with plants in it. Later I went to take a picture of it as well and the little thing was gone. I hope it dried out and went on to eat LOTS of insects.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Today was a relatively uneventful day. I spent a good part of it with a wonderful friend. We had lunch on the porch and visited with all of the critters.
It was hot today, 87*, I think, and the water buckets are showing it. I am having to fill at least twice daily and will need to add some extras to the pastures soon as to make sure they don't run out while I am at work.
It was also our wedding anniversary, 19 years. We grilled some fish and spent a quiet evening on the porch listening to the night creatures. We almost made it to dessert when the familiar howl of the coyotes started. That of course sent all of the guard dogs into a frenzied state. About that time I heard the most horrible screaming coming from the back of the barn. I was down the hill in a flash, my son was racing to get the four wheeler for light and my husband was coming behind me with the shotgun. Thankfully, it was nothing tragic. Earlier today I had weaned the puppies and had put their mom in with the sheep. Well they somehow managed to wiggle under a gate and the new sheep mom decided they were a danger to her lamb and proceeded to roll a few around. Nothing hurt but a few feelings, thank goodness.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Happy Easter

We missed sunrise service this morning. It was at 7:05. At 6:20 a.m. my husband woke me and asked how long it would take for me to get ready. About 30 minutes I mumbled. 30 Minutes?? Why so long?? I have to wash my hair. You washed it yesterday. Yeah and I put on makeup yesterday too. Obviously we missed the service.
We did manage to sneak away to a local state park and take a 5 mile hike. It was lovely and as always cleared my mind and made for a great day. We arrived home 10 minutes before the new LGD puppies' mom came to get her.
That taken care of I went on to start on daily chores. I was surprised to find the first of our lambs had arrived!! She is a beautiful little black mouflon ewe. What a wondeful Easter suprise. The other ewes are getting close and usually after the first lambs they all come pretty quickly. I imagine this will be a busy week.

Friday, April 2, 2010

And The Poultry Saga Continues

Yesterday our temperature reached 84*. With it just being in the 50's earlier this week the animals are having a hard time adjusting. The baby chicks included. After I got off work and started my afternoon chores I noticed all the chicks were as far from the light as possible and very hot. I decided to unplug the brooder for a while and made a mental note to plug it back up at last barn check. Herein lies the problem- I don't have mental notes, I have sticky notes. What time did I remember the brooder was off? 1 a.m. So I once again took the moon lite run to the barn. Chicks were fine, I gave them some water and headed back to bed. However, after my refreshing little jog, I couldn't go back to sleep. So I lay there making to-do lists until around five.

I was finally able to drag myself out of bed and get the bread orders made and delivered. We had a lady coming to see the lgd puppies around eleven, so I needed to get back and get a few things done before hand. She fell in love with the one I would have kept, but knew I could not, as there had been made mention of an untimely death (mine) if I did not place some dogs ;o)) I am glad to know she is going to a good working home only an hour away. We had several other visitors stop by and purchase eggs.

My husband took off a bit early today so we could get some much needed chores done today but we first had to make a feed store run to pick up a few more seed potatoes. We tilled the garden and readied it for planting green beans and potatoes tomorrow. We also inspected the fence damage from all the torrential rains and decided we will have to haul in a load of dirt tomorrow as well. We finished up odds and ends and it was time for Jasmine to be milked. She has had a bit of spring fever I think and has not been meeting me in our usual milking spot. I have had to track her down a couple of times. Today was no different, I called and called but she did not respond. I loaded the Gator with the pails and cleansing water and headed out to find her. The problem with that, is the road to the other pasture has washed out as well and is very steep going down, so juggling all the pails and water and not loosing them is quite a trick. I finally arrived in the lower field to find that Jasmine was no where in site. It seems we must have passed somewhere along the line and I obviously did not see her. So back UP the hill I go all the while holding onto pails and water. Halfway up I realized the hay I was hauling in the back for the rams was no longer with me. Arggg .. My happy mood was fading fast. So I stopped and loaded the hay. Twice. As I arrived at the "milking spot" Jasmine was standing there contentedly eating hay. I was a little irritated, but big brown eyes and two gallons of milk earn forgiveness pretty quickly.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Combing Cashmere

Yesterday was a lovely day and I was able to spend most of it outside. I had a small bread order, got that finished early and delivered and then headed outside. I did the early chores and checked on all the critters. The other forty meat birds arrived Monday and this morning we had lost two. The Rangers on the other hand are all still well, even after being frozen and thawed! One strike against the broilers.
I had to vaccinate and deworm the puppies. Doing it with no help proved to be quite interesting. Trying to make sure I didn't do one twice was the first hurdle. They have learned to squirm out of every place I put them and gather at my feet when they see me coming. Giving the shot was like trying to vaccinate an earthworm, they are so wiggly. That done, I took pictures of them so I could get them advertised and sent off to their new homes as guardians. I put them on craigslist and promptly got booted off. Seems I didn't read the agreement down far enough that said no dogs allowed on the list. Oooops!! ;o)
That finished I gathered my combs and buckets and went to comb out the cashmeres. The girls weren't sure about being caught and tied but after I started combing they were quite cooperative. I sat on a bucket and pulled huge hand fulls of fiber from them, stuffing the fiber in the bucket. This worked really well. I know it felt good to them as they are starting to shed and have become quite itchy. The next most in need of combing was one of the big bucks. He was not at all interested. Catching him and getting him tied was like wrestling a grizzly bear. Except he has horns, great sweeping horns, that seemed to catch every inch of my arms and legs. Combing him was no zen experience as it was with the girls, he flipped and flopped and was thoroughly ticked. Doing the best I could, I finally let him go. Bruised and battered I limped to the house determined to do something that did not have four legs, horns or a brain. I do have two large buckets of fiber to show for my efforts though!
I spent the rest of the afternoon raking the mulch back in the beds that had washed from the torrential rains we had earlier this week. I had also promised my family that we would have a decent supper, at a decent time. Well supper was more than decent. The time? 8:03.....