Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas is over for another year...

I hope everyone had a great holiday and we were busy with family and all. My new border collie Jake is a great dog and we are bonding well. I will take him to stock next week. He has the eye and ready to work in the pictures above.

After a good bath and brushing, he is down right handsome. We have been working on some basic commands and Jake has been learning to ride in the back seat of the truck. Apparently he had always ridden in the back of a truck and that is to dangerous for me. He is adjusting well and getting along with my Jack Russel Terror.

We have the water lines in the ground and waiting for the rain to let up so we can get a dump truck of gravel to finish the geo textile and gravel before setting the water troughs. It has been a very wet December.

Well, enough for now and everyone have a Great New Year and even better 2009! Oh, I have had some emails asking about Helen and her baby chicks. The photo below is Helen and her babies. They are growing fast and Helen is very protective of them. She pecks real hard if one gets to close. Two of her chicks look like they will be huge and have some feathers on their legs. The one small one is a bantam Americana, she hatched from a small blue egg. I asked my friend what kind of eggs he gave me and he could not remember... I think they are all hens because I do not see any large combs, but time will tell....

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Water lines going into the ground...

Thankfully we have had some nice weather to work on the water lines this week and rented a Ditch Witch to dig the trench. The Witch was a bit of a witch and did not want to start and the pull thing broke, but I took it back to Tri County Rental in Selma and they fixed her and all went well.

My friend Mr. Paul has been helping me out at the farm and is shown left running the Ditch Witch off of our well. We trenched for water lines to the buildings and out to distant pastures. We will be doing cross fencing next year.

Mr Neil, (below right) a good friend of Mr Paul helped with the plumbing as well. It is good to have knowledgeable friends who can help out and are willing to lend a hand.

I really appreciated all their efforts and we now have 7 new water outlets. We still need to put down Geo textile fabric and crushed rock before setting down water troughs. I have the fabric, a super fabric made to last and keep an area from getting to muddy when livestock water. It will hold the rock in place as well.

The picture on the left is the trench going out to the far pasture, past the sheds and past the buck shed. The water lines are laid out before cleaning and gluing . The goats watched us work and on occasion tried their best to fall into the trench and be general pains in the neck. Goats can not leave things alone. They are very curious and mess with everything. My dogs steal things and will run off with tools and equipment, especially gloves.
But even with the sabotage, we were able to finish the job without to many headaches. We will order the rock Monday and hopefully after Christmas finish the job. We have a cost share program set up with the USDA to install the well and water lines. We have an end of the year deadline and must get a cracking.
If I do not get to make another post before Christmas, I want to wish everyone a wonderful and Joyful Christmas. Oh, Athena is over her mastitis and doing well. I have had some emails asking about her. I hope to rebred her to The Rock once she recovers from the quints.
Take care y'all...

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

December is flying by quickly...

It has been a fast couple of weeks. Below left is my new Border Collie Jake. We went to Portland, Tenn. to get him. He is an older dog, but a good one. He is 6 years and has worked cattle most of his life. The trainer worked sheep with him and put a better stop on him. He actually worked for me at the trainers and we are currently bonding. Jake did put some sheep up for me the day after I got him. He listens well, but could improve. So, we do not go to the stock for a couple of weeks and just bond. He also needs a bath and brush out big time. He was pretty smelly when we picked him up.

I traded Terra for him because Terra did not want to herd the goats. I think she was hit by one and decided they were to tough for her. Terra had no problem with cattle and is now on a dairy Cattle farm in Rhode Island. I had also spoiled her by allowing her into the house and playing fetch, which she loved. I hear the farmer's wife has been letting her in the house... Imagine that... Terra has a good home, she is probably sitting on the couch watching TV and eating pop corn.

Working dogs must be treated as working dogs and not turned into pets. Hopefully I have learned my lesson and Jake won't be ruined. He will be my main man and buddy, just not a pet.

We have received a lot of rain and things are very wet. The rain has delayed our putting in water lines and the deadline to get them in is quickly approaching. We maybe out there Christmas Day and for sure the day after to get this done.

The farm has an address now, took almost 3 weeks though. First it was out of one district and had to go to the post office. Well, they finally decided to put the address on the main road because they are to lazy to drive down the small road to the property, even though it is paved most of the way. Their excuse was, there was no where to turn around. The large city dump truck and trailer comes down the road once a week to pick up trash and turns around with out a problem. There is a couple of acres to turn around and it is sandy soil, so no worries about mud or getting stuck where the road ends. So the mail box is two houses down the road and about an eighth of a mile from the actual farm. Go figure...

I have a wonderful group of neighbors who keep an eye on the farm for me. The farm is about 1 1/2 miles from my home. Once I sell my home, I will build another home on the farm and move there. They call me if Thor, one of my guardian dogs get out. He has been a pain lately and with the rain and soft ground has dug under the gate. We had to put down cement and cement blocks to keep him from digging. If he continues to be bad, he will be neutered and will find a new home. He is a beautiful dog, that is why he is not fixed yet. One of my dogs has bad hips and will need to be replaced in a year or so. I have a lovely female named Susie and hope to get pups next year and keep a couple to replace Bear and maybe Thor.

One of my great neighbors built the hay feeder pictured above for me. It opens up to put in the hay and has a roof to protect the hay and is the perfect height to keep hay out of sheep fleece. This feeder was taken over by the goats. He will make me 2 more, so the sheep will get one as well.

Bad dog Thor is pictured at the left, just looking for trouble. He is very friendly, but hates a lead and gives us a rodeo when we take him to the vet. He is about a year and a half.

Susie is pictured below and to the right. She is eating something when her picture was taken. She is a lovely Badger faced Great Pyrenees. Thor is a Pyrenees as well.

We have had a good year so far and are thankful. We would like to wish all our clients a Merry Christmas and an even better New Year!
You'all take care now...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Wow, this year has gone by fast! We have been hip deep in preparing to put in water lines at the farm. The weather has been unseasonably cold and today we had a cold rain all day. We need the rain, so that is OK. The winter grazing is up and about an inch and a half tall. It had been very dry, so the last couple of rains gave us over 4 inches, which the ground just soaked up and the planted seed has jumped.

Daisy, my Nubian doe kidded and to my delight had twin half Boers. They were both does (left picture) and one outstanding. But the next morning, I found the best one dead in the pen. More then likely she was trampled by another doe. This happens on occasion, but is disappointing to say the least. But the other baby doe is doing great and starting next week I will be milking Daisy for myself. This baby is only nursing off one side, so the other side will be mine.

I had sent off two hides from a couple of Icelandic Sheep to be tanned. I got them back today and they are spectacular. One was a lovely ram who died of pneumonia and the other a young ewe who died last summer of white muscle disease. I skinned them out and salted the hides, dried them and sent them off to the tannery. They did a great job and I am very pleased with the results. I will post a picture later.
An article was written about our farm and published in the Land Bank publication. It was really nice and show cased our lotion and soaps, as well as our Nigerian Goats. Another article came out in the local Co-op newspaper talking about my Icelandic Sheep. I will try and scan the articles into the computer and post them on the blog.
Enough for now, the above picture to the right is a group of sleeping baby Nigerians for you all to enjoy...
Take care and more later...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Mo, one of my 100% Boer Does kidded yesterday morning with triplets, two does and a buck. The kids are half Nigerian. I have tried for 4 kiddings to get does from this older doe and the does kids were either dead or did not get the sack off their heads. I decided to try crossing with a Nigerian and was thrilled to get two big, beautiful and alive doelings out of her.

Yesterday evening when I went to check on everyone, Conan's daughter had kidded a single buckling Nigerian Cross.

Today is Thanksgiving and I give thanks for a very good kidding season and a beautiful day, as well as good health and a blessed year in general.

Aphrodite daughter (100% Boer) kidded on Thanksgiving with two lovely doe Nigerian crosses. (I lost Aphrodite this spring to mastitis). The Nigerian crosses are so strong and stand within minutes of being born. I like to breed my young does to a Nigerian buck so I do not have to worry about kidding problems with the small kids.

We are still waiting on Daisy, a Nubian to kid. She must have been bred later by the Nigerian Buck. She will have mini Nubians, which are quite popular. She is bagged up and ready to go, but taking her time as Angel did.

My son Tim came up from Fort Walton, Florida for Thanksgiving. His picture is below. He comes and helps me on occasion with the farm and
with what ever needs to be done. He is a big help and a good kid.

I hope everyone had a great holiday and God Bless.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Kidding is coming to an end.

I have been hip deep dealing with Athena, a 100% Boer doe who just kidded Friday night, in the 24 degree weather and 18 degree wind chill factor. Athena is an embryo transfer baby I purchased a few years ago. Athena has been bred twice by Bubba, a Nigerian and she kidded without problems, but much to my dismay. The first accident was forgiven. She is an expensive registered doe. The second accident, Bubba bred Athena under the nose of Cane, our 100% Boer Buck, who is a monster 300 pounder. I almost had a heart attack when I saw her last kidding, which was triplets and one look told me they were Bubba Brats once more! The mix of Nigerian and Boer produces offspring with airplane ears. The long ears of the Boer and the small upright ears of the Nigerian cross into goofy looking airplane ears. So, one look and you know, HE DID IT AGAIN!!! Athena raised her kids without any problems and I kept one doe to see how she grew out. She is short and wide and is two teated.

The Boer goats are usually 4 teated, which freaks out a lot of goat folks. Dairy goats have 2 teats, but the Boer is different and 2 or 4 teats are accepted in the show ring. In reality, most have 3, 5 or 6 teats. Fisher teats (two webbed together teats) are common and I have been trying to breed good udders and teats. The fishers are hard for young to nurse and sometimes do not have openings, which can lead to mastitis.

This last breeding I hand bred Conan to Athena and then Conan was injured and you all know he ended up in sausage. So I was hoping to get some nice kids. Well, things do not always work out as one hopes. Athena was bred by Conan and it was a hard pregnancy. Toward the end, she was looking pretty tough and unthrifty. She kidded in the field and had Quints. I found 5 babies spread around the field, all dead. Athena looked terrible and I checked her udder and could see she had mastitis in one half. Athena has 4 teats and 4 quarters, the two small front teats are separate and do not produce the milk the back two teats do.

Oh boy, I lost one Boer doe this spring, who was fine at kidding and then crashed the next day with mastitis in one half of her udder. By the 3rd day she was down and died that evening.

I was not going to let this happen again and hit her hard with antibiotics, milked out her udder and used cow udder infusion tubes to put antibiotics directly into her udder. Of course she gets sick on the weekend and the vet who knows anything about goats is off for the weekend. I get her through the weekend and contact the vet Monday. He suggests another antibiotic regimen and I treat her according to his suggestions. By this evening, the heat and swelling are out of the udder and she is responding wonderfully. She is still pretty skinny (the five babies really burned the weight off of her.), I wormed her, gave her B complex, but have kept the grain to a minimum. Grain makes milk and we need to keep milk production down to treat and heal the udder. She is eating well and wants out of her pen, a good sign. I will keep everyone posted on how she does. I do not want to loose this beautiful doe and can always breed her back to The Rock.

I do have bad news to share with everyone about the little bottle baby from the Nigerian, Sugar. He did not make it. I think he was a bit pre mature. His size and lung function did not seem to go along with his age. This happens every so often. I hate loosing babies, but it happens and if one can not deal with it, farming and animals is not the place to be involved. I gave him the college try, but sometimes nature has its own plans.

We had named the little fella "Little Bit". I have a picture of him to the right. I buried his tiny, little body in my garden next to the house. He will help the Day Lillies bloom next summer.

We have one more doe to kid, Daisy. She is a Nubian who was bred to Cane, a Boer. She was to have kidded Saturday and did not, which makes me think, she was bred later and may have been bred by a Nigerian, which produces Mini Nubians, which is OK as well. I will keep everyone posted.

Take care and I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving. My son Tim is in the Military and coming home to mom for the Holiday. I look forward to seeing him and will have a really special meal waiting for him.

God Bless and more later...

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

And More Babies....

Today has been a day for the record books. It was 26 degrees on my thermometer and officially 24 degrees. It has been unseasonably cold the last several days. I guess the cold just gets the girls to say... Lets have our babies..
We had 4 does kid with 9 new kids. Even in the cold weather, the Nigerians just kid away... I came in this morning and just gathered up babies and moms to put them into kidding areas so mom and kids can bond and be by themselves. Some does do well with other does, like mom and daughter, so I but them together with their kids.
Wow and Oh Boy! Yes, Eve, Sugar, Daisy baby and Butter kidded today. Butter usually has quads, but I will not complain about her triplets today, two does, one blue eyed and a buck. Her picture with kids is below.

Eve's baby boys are pictured on the left. Both are blue eyed. They have a 25% chance of being homozygous for blue eyes. Sugar on the right had two bucks and both are blue eyed. One is pictured here. The other one was very small and weak and is my next bottle baby. He is black, white and a bit of tan with a white belt and of course blue eyes. He was so small, his brother just rolled him aside. So we have decided he is to be this fall's bottle baby and we have named him "Little Bit". I will have pictures of him later.
Butter held out and was out in the Pecan Orchard most of the day. I checked on her at noon and she was still in one piece. I checked her again at 3 pm and she had kidded her triplets, pictured below. I carried the babies to the barn and had to chase Butter around for a bit before capturing her to take to the kids. She is tame, but wanted to be a bit hard headed today.
Anyway, everyone is well and more later....

Sunday, November 16, 2008

I am posting pictures of Brat's Triplet does to the left. One is blue eyed the other two are brown eyed.

Yes, the picture on the right is their dad, "Buddy". He is a young buck I bought last fall as a bottle baby. He is pesky like Bubba and it is hard to get a good photo of him. He tries to eat the camera, pull on your clothing, eat your hair, the usual goat stuff. His real name is LTE's Olde Buddy. His color is a light buckskin. He is sired by Woodhaven Farms Rand McNally (blue eyes), out of Brush Creek Sandra's Honor. Sandra's Honor is sired by Ch Buttin' Heads Red Branch Legend*D, and her mom is PGCH Brush Creek Honor. Red Branch is a son of Ch/ARMCH Buttin' Heads Wedding Song 3*D and grand son of ARMCH Buttin' Heads Bryedal Veil.

Buddy is blue eyed and even if you all don't know much about bloodlines, he is a really nice buck and the father to the 14 kids so far. I then switched out bucks and the rest will kid to another blue eyed buck with a different, more dairy build. Buddy has a powerful build and Flash has a taller, more narrow, dairy build. I bred Flash to my real stocky and wide does to add more leg to the offspring.

Angel is a daughter of Red Branch and breeding Buddy to her is a nice line breeding.

I also had some chicks hatch Saturday. My little bantam black Cochin hen, "Helen" went broody a while back and I picked up some fertile eggs from a friend. I do not have a rooster. The 3 am crowing is more then I can take and if you all did not know it, one does not need a rooster for a hen to lay eggs. I put some chicken and guinea eggs in Helen's nest. Three of the 4 chicken eggs hatched and next week the guineas should hatch. Their incubation is 28 days, where a chicken is 21 days.
Helen was hatched last summer by one of my broody hens who I put some Bantam eggs under. Helen was the only hen, the rest that hatched were roosters. Helen lives in my garage in a cage. I leave the door open and she can go as she pleases, scratch around, and graze. In the evening she comes back to roost in her cage and lay eggs. She is an excellent layer of small brown eggs. She is pretty tame and will sit on one's shoulder and eat corn out of your hand. She is enjoying her 3 chicks and is a very good momma.
More later....

Friday, November 14, 2008

Babies continued....

Last night Cocoa had triplet baby does. Two are blue eyed and one is brown eyed. All are a lovely buck skin, one is an unusual gray buck skin.
This morning her mom, Brat was bleating and I checked on her at lunch. She was off by herself in the pecan orchard, but no babies. I came back after 5 in the dark, with a flash light and sure enough, she had triplets as well, all baby does. The count so far is 14 new babies, 13 does and 1 buck. This is highly unusual. For the past 2 1/2 years we have had nothing but bucks, bucks and more bucks. We are not complaining a bit and have never had mother and daughter produce triplet does. We are ecstatic to say the least.

I had Cocoa Channel on my sales page because last year she had a single and her udder was lop sided nursing the one kid. This freshening she has evened out and has an udder as nice if not better then her mother Brat. I may just hang onto this lovely doe. She is an excellent mother and had her triplets without assistance.

I will get photos of Brat in the morning. Her triplets were does, but it was dark and I had to put them in a bucket and with a flashlight see my way to the barn with mom following. I will let you all know what is what in the morning. I bedded Brat down with her daughter Cocoa.

We finished planting winter grazing, planting with a drill seen below. We planted Oats, Wheat, Rye, White Clover, Crimson Clover and one other Clover I don't recall at the moment. The clover will fix nitrogen into the soil for next year's hay crop and make a great first cutting.

It is getting late and will blog more later....

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

More babies...

Onyx had her kids today. She did not physically look like she would kid today, but I had seen her bred and wrote down the date. She was bleating this morning and not to interested in eating and I came back at lunch to check on her and sure enough, she had twin blue eyed does. They are both dark Buck Skin and perfect. Onyx is a black doe out of Brat (LTE Chelone), sired by Caesar. Her udder looks great so far and this is her first freshening (Kidding). The babies are sired by Buddy, a blue eyed buck with Brush Creek bloodline. I like to come and check on the doe and she has everything under control. The babies were still a bit wet, so I treated their navels with some iodine and they are good to go. I allow the mothers to mother their babies up for a few days, then let them out with the herd. This gives them a chance to bond with their kids.

We have had a full moon the last couple of days and I am not sure if that makes a difference or not. But everyone seems to kid during a full moon, so it may make a difference.

I had to share this photo of Flash, a young Boer Buck I have bottle raised, trying to push Trumpet, my Icelandic Sheep Ram around. I was shocked to see the 5 month old Boer trying to push the 180 pound ram around. I missed the shot of him rearing up, but caught this one of him pushing on the ram. Trumpet has a great disposition and just dropped his head and let the young and dumb buck bounce off his horns. The ewe approaching from the left came over and hit Flash hard in the side and sent him running to me like a wimpy baby.

Flash came a running and stayed by me the rest of the morning while I was feeding hay. Only on the farm, can interesting scenarios like this one come about. Every day is a new adventure with the comical lives of THE GOAT.

The picture below is Angel's baby doe who is a mini me of Angel. She is so cute. I need to check on Athena once more and must go for now.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Babies are here!

Angel has finally kidded. The little bundles of joy arrived 11-10-08. She had two baby does, one looking just like mom and the other a buckskin with blue eyes. Momma and kids are doing well with no problems. Angel is a half sister to Butter, my best milker (same mom) and has a really nice udder this kidding.

Silver Queen, daughter of Thundersnow, also kidded last night. She had two beautiful kids, both buck skin, a buck and doe, the doe is very colorful. This is her first kidding and she did a fantastic job without assistance. Queenie and babies are doing well. This young doe is built like her mom Thundersnow and has a beautiful udder like her mom as well. I hope to have udder shots posted on the website when we can. These little goats milk like crazy and I breed for milking ability in my herd. These small dairy goats are the Jersey's of the goat world.
I will post better pictures as I get them. Onyx and Athena are the next two to go shortly in my estimation. We have about 15 more does to kid this season.
Got to go for now....

Saturday, November 8, 2008

November Indian Summer in Alabama

Angel (right photo), a Nigerian Dwarf Doe is still holding out. STILL NO BABIES! I think she likes the attention and is holding out on purpose sometimes. She looks like she is going to burst. She is back in the kidding pen awaiting the long awaited kidding. Putting a buck with the herd, the exact breeding dates are unknown. Angel is bagged up and ready to go, but is taking her time.

We are starting to get some fall foliage color here in Alabama and the weather is in the 70s. As I keep repeating, beautiful as ever. We came up with the "Sweet Home Alabama" phrase due to our lovely fall, winter and spring weather. One cool morning I came up to the barn and snapped a picture of the Icelandics coming up from night grazing in the early morning fog (below). It was spectacular and I have to share it with you. I need to finish shearing the Icelandics, but have been waiting for a few days warming trend, so as not to shock the sheep to severely.

The buck I sent to Reed's has come back. The sausage is wonderful. It tastes like Kielbasa with a spicy twang. Goat sausage is wonderful and I highly recommend trying it sometime. Of course there are many ways to make sausage and each has its own unique flavor.

I will add baby pictures as the kids are born. Take care...

Saturday, November 1, 2008

November is a month of Thanksgiving...

I consider November an entire month of Thanksgiving. Alabama is absolutely beautiful in November, 70 degrees and absolutely beautiful. I Thank the Lord for every beautiful day! It is the first of November and we have been busy putting up some square bales of hay and I traveled to Prattville to get some Alfalfa Hay which has been imported from Oklahoma. The Alfalfa is spectacular. I like to feed alfalfa to my growing boers and milking does. I like to give some alfalfa to my young Icelandic ewes as well to give them a boost before fall breeding.

The picture on the right is what our operation looks like at the moment. I had put up 3 car ports with a storage unit, which is to the left of the picture and another, two car ports (the right) to give the bucks shelter. The bucks are housed separate from the does and only together during planned breeding times. If one does not manage the bucks as such, the bucks are breeding their moms, sisters, aunts, etc. Not the best case scenario. I usually hand breed the does as they come into heat. This makes it easy to know when they will kid. I occasionally put a buck with the group and record the dates he is with the group. This lets me know via their gestation period, who the daddy is.
The picture on the left is my herd of Nigerian Does, Boer Does and mixed Boer Does out grazing on a beautiful day. We have hayed the entire farm to reduce parasites. The little worm larva have a nasty habit of crawling to the tops of grass, waiting for a goat or sheep to ingest them and do their deed of growing inside the animal and causing problems, the number one problem is usually anemia (blood loss). By haying the fields, we cut the little buggers down, dry them and bale them up, killing them and stopping their life cycle of sucking goats and sheep of all their blood. We have had several frosts, which also knock the little buggers off.
It has been a long day and I feel I have run a marathon. I will take an epsoms salt soak and make a light supper. Sunday I will be devoting most of the day to making Goat Milk Lotion. I had trouble getting the ingredients and now have them, so need to make a bunch in time for Christmas and my retail commitments.
You all take care and more later...

Thursday, October 30, 2008

October is almost over...

Angel (left picture)is still holding out. I let her out of the kidding pen to see if she would go into labor. I was off today and checked her several times. She is still in one piece and huge is an understatement. Angel is bred to the new blue eyed buck I have who has a Brush Creek and Little Tot's Estate in his pedigree. Angel is a half sister to Butter, my best milking doe.

The weather was spectacular today. It was sunny and in the 70s. I cleaned out the kidding pens and lounging area where the goats bed down for the night.

The second picture is Blue with her two blue eyed baby does. They were so cute this morning, I had to take a picture to share with folks. Blue is my super model and cover girl to my Soaps and Lotions. She is my first goat and Nigerian. She is the queen of the Nigerians and bosses around most of the Boers.

I spent most of the day planning, pricing and looking into planting winter grazing. We are looking at a mix of rye, wheat and crimson clover to fix some nitrogen into the pastures. With fertilizer prices being insane, I will not purchase any and have been researching alternatives. The soil samples were good with only a bit of nitrogen recommended.

Enough for now... I need to check on Angel one more time...

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Kidding Fall 08

Blue's baby does have been dehorned and are growing like weeds. They were born 10-12-08.

I can see the two baby does will be future cover girls just like their mom...

I will retain one of the does and the other doe will be offered for sale at $400.

The Farm continued....

Today was the day to say good bye to Conan. (Pictured on the left) He is a 100% Boer Buck I have shown several times and had a medical condition which left him sterile. I raised Conan from a youngster and have won several first places and best male under a year at the Central Alabama Fair. My friend Paul Bains was kind enough to take him to Clantin, Alabama to be processed into Sausage. Unfortunately when one lives on a farm, everyone must pay their way and my freezer is low and has room for some sausage. The bucks will have a strong taste to them, so are usually made into sausage. The spices cover the buck taste and the hickory smoke really adds for a flavorful gourmet sausage.

I will use his pen for a breeding group of Icelandic Sheep. He lived a pampered life as a show goat and a quick end. He weighed 240 pounds, which surprised me, I thought he weighed in at 300 pounds. His younger brother The Rock has taken his place as the next generation 100% Boer Buck in our herd. These Boers are like Angus Cattle, all meat and built like a hummer.

Angel, a Nigerian Dwarf is still holding out, and has been ready to pop kids for over a week now. I think Elsie may go before her now and put her into a maternity pen. Elsie had quints this spring and is huge.

The weather has been very cold for the south. Yesterday it froze and was in the low 30s, this morning a record was broken in Montgomery for 31 degrees from the old 32 degrees. It was cold this morning, had to scrape ice and was probably 30 degrees here in Selma, although this was official from my temp gage in my truck. The wool was really appreciated in socks, mittens and hat this morning.
The right photo is my Ashford Traveler Spinning Wheel. I started on a hand spindle and my first yarn looked like binder twine. Yea, it was that bad. I made that first horrible yarn into a planter with macrame (spelling probably not correct.) I learned macrame when I was in elementary school and still make hanging planters with the techniques I learned as a kid. Over time one gets better and now I can make decent yarn. I like the rustic look to the garments I make with the hand spun fiber. I will show you all pictures of fiber and roving in the future and explain how it all works. I will be involved in an event next March 2009 which I will be show casing my spinning and will bring Saxon, an Icelandic Ram to the event. The exact date at this time is March 14th, a Saturday in Wetumpka. Mark your calenders and I will give you more details as they come together. There will be a goat show for kids and a goat meat cook off as well. Look out, I am entering my famous Goat Ribs, which will take the competition. They are mighty good. We will have a spread of the entered goat dishes and more feed as well. I think it will be an enjoyable day for you all and the family.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

October Continued... The beginning.

Since I am off this weekend, I have a chance to catch up in between fall Kidding. I have around 20 does very pregnant, most are Nigerian Dwarf goats, some are Boers and Boer percentages, and a couple are Nubians. The Nubians were bred later, so should not kid until next year.

It is COLD this morning... 40 degrees, which is pretty nippy to the southern folks. I have yet to turn on the heat and am happy to have my Icelandic Wool Socks on my feet and some wool caps to wear to the farm. I had better hurry up and finish my sweater. It is from my sheep. I have hand spun the wool and knitting as I go. I have the wool of Saxon, a cream colored icelandic ram, Havvah, who is spotted gray morrit (her roving is a gray brown), and have incorporated some of the Cheviot Lamb wool as well. I have the body and one sleeve finished. The second sleeve is past the cuff, so hopefully will have it finished in a couple of weeks.

I stopped the sweater when I came across an easy mitten pattern in Countryside Magazine. I had to try the pattern and now have a pair of mittens to wear out to the farm. I had to change the pattern slightly due to my big hands. The pattern is in the Nov/Dec 2008 edition on page 88. I love this magazine, it is a Homesteading & Small Stock Journal.

Now, back to the beginning. Who am I and how did I come about being a farmer. I grew up in Armada, Michigan on a farm. My dad was a cash cropper. We raised Corn, Wheat, Oats, Soy Beans and Navy Beans. Our farm was very rocky and my first memories were my sister and I picking up rocks. I mean more rocks then you could imagine. Every spring, more rocks grew in the fields. Our entire drive way has about 6 foot of rock base, placed by hand by us. My brother drove the tractor while we worked our behinds off.

I had a horse living at a neighbor's house, horses drew flies and mom said NO HORSE, so I made arrangements (stubbornness already showing) for him to stay at another farm. I bought the horse through barter, mowed grass and shoveled out stalls. My dad gave me oats and corn to feed him and straw from the oat & wheat fields. I only had to purchase hay, which was cheap then. I raised rabbits and did my own butchering and sold to neighbors. This financed the horse and horse shows. I also showed the rabbits in 4H and my dad took me to rabbit breeders to get good stock. The breeders always gave kids a break on the price of quality stock, so I pass this on to kids who want to purchase goats now. I usually give them a $100 break, depending on the base price of the animal. Anyway, I had great rabbits, joined the rabbit association, read the standard and bred accordingly. My rabbits where never beaten. One year at our Armada Fair, I took 22 rabbits of different breeds, ages and sexes. I put only one rabbit in each class and came home with 22 firsts, 2 Best of Breeds, 2 Best Opposite Sex and Best in Show. That year my quarter horse gelding also won Grand Champion Gelding. It was a mighty good year and paid the feed bill as well. I truly believe 4-H should be every kids goal and kept me out of trouble, teaching me how to work, be responsible and make money as a kid. Allowances did not exist for me and if I wanted money to do things, I had to work for it.

From kid hood I was suddenly out of high school and heading to college. I wanted to raise livestock on the farm and my parents would not go there. I was not interested in cash crop farming and even then (80s), the outlay of money verses payback was crazy. The more corn my dad raised, the cheaper it got. I remember when a 100 bushels to the acre and above was just possible with the new corn hybrids. The corn stalks where over 12 foot high. We would stand on the pickup and the other of us kids would go into the field and shake stalks until we found that really tall one to dig up and put into the tallest cornstalk contest at the fair.

Anyway, farming was out for now. I headed to college to be a Veterinarian. I had worked with my local Vet, Dr. Krause in Armada and would go on large animal rounds with him almost every Saturday. I dehorned dairy cattle, a bloody mess really, helped with calf pulling, mastitis, retained placentas, horse colic cases, wormed horses the old tube way and that is just the beginning. He later hired me to clean kennels and help out while I was attending junior college. I earned an Animal Technician degree and later went to Michigan State (MOO U) for Veterinary School. I worked at MSU Veterinary Clinic as an Animal Technician while attending college. It took 3 tries and a 3.8 GPA to finally get accepted. By then I had had enough of school and it was impossible to work and go to Vet School at the same time. Burn out was an understatement!

One cold Michigan Day, I said the hell with it and headed to Florida. I stayed with my aunt and grandmother while I decided what to do. I was done with college for awhile and wanted a bit of adventure. By this time I had a BS in Animal Science, which does not get you to far in the city. I tried different jobs and was told at a Veterinary Clinic I was overqualified for the job. So, what to do... Go into the Military. Yeah, I went with the Navy, why you ask... I wanted the Air Force, but their weight requirements did not match my frame. Being 5 ft 8, with shoulders and bone structure to throw hay bales, did not allow to make weight, which was 12 pounds under the navy requirements. So Navy here we go...

Boot camp was a breeze and I was shocked at how out of shape these women where. Most were younger then I, wimpy and whinny, Ugh! Anyhow, the Navy was OK, since I had always had my act together. It was a bit annoying with the hurry up and wait. I met my husband in the military and we were married. We went from Orlando, Florida to Great Lakes, Ill. Yuck! Great Lakes Naval Base is the coldest cold I have ever experienced. The wind chill factor off the lake froze your nose hairs as one tried to breath. We had to take our car battery in the house at night, or our car would not start. One did not dare lock your car door, or it would be frozen shut for the winter. Michigan was cold, but this was like the artic !! Dressed in Navy Wool, with layers of wool, that wind cut you like a knife. Frost would build up on the inside of the house windows an inch thick. Come spring I was pregnant and ready to head to California with my Husband. I put in for a discharge in order to keep the family together. My son Tim was born in San Diego and was just an infant when we transferred to Charleston, South Carolina. I was a stay at home mom and going crazy. Once my son was a bit older I was working for a Veterinarian in Charleston as an animal technician. I worked on small animals and got to do some work on the carriage horses who pull the tours around Charleston. My boss was afraid of horses and could not understand why she was so hyper around them. The carriage horses are the ultimate tame horse and she would have them dancing around to give a vaccination. Once she sent me over there by myself and I was in and out, no worries, no stress, no problem. When the owned asked for me to return without her, she never let me go back.

While in Charleston, I was over the college burn out and wanted to try something else. I went over to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston to find out what my options were. They mentioned Pharmacy School and how part-time, one could make X money. I said sign me up. This was the late 80s. I graduated with a BS in Pharmacy in 1991. I worked at several hospitals in the area and when my marriage went south, worked part time in retail to make extra money for the divorce. I have been on my own ever since and raised my son, not ever meeting another compatible man. I have dated and such, but things just did not work out. That sole mate was just not meant to be...

Ok, we are over it... Now, as a Pharmacist and financially independent, off we go. We go from Charleston, SC to Pa for an internship to Selma, Alabama to run a hospital. To much ambition and drive, make for a boring lady. After years at the hospital and busting butt, I found out the hard way, how one makes themselves no longer useful once you fix everything. Lesson learned, never kill yourself for anyone but yourself!

I left the hospital and went into retail. A different world, people and the public can be tuff, but most are good people, but one grumpy jerk can mess up your day. I like retail because you are not bothered on your off time and there is NO CALL. I have been in retail now for 8 years. Somewhere during this transition, I started getting homesick for the farm and living a more natural, healthy lifestyle. I lived in a gated subdivision within the city limits. There is woods and brush between homes and it is very private. What could I sneak into the back yard? A cow, even a Mini Jersey? When I priced the Mini Jersey Cattle, the prices of $5000 was insane. How about goats? Yep, that is how I started in goats, two bred Nigerian Dwarf Does (pictured above) in my back yard. They were quiet and each had a baby doe in January. I milked them, one being my Blue, the cover girl to my soap products, the other her witch sister Bell, who is no longer here, but sold to another farm.

This was my humble beginning in goats. I later moved the goats to a friend's farm and expanded my herd. I fed his horses and helped on the farm to keep the goats there. The goats also cleared brush and were tame enough to allow farm access where they wanted to go. They always came a running when called in at night. Blue is now some 5 or 6 years old. She is the only horned Nigerian Dwarf I have. I milk her on occasion, but have some other does who milk more and I prefer to go with the production girls. I learned to make soap and lotion and cream. I made it for myself, due to my dry skin. I bought a book, The SoapMaker's Companion, by Susan Miller Cavitch. The very first soap I ever made was her White Chocolate Mousse Soap on page 31. It has olive oil, jojoba oil, cocoa butter, etc.. It is an easy light colored soap and the cocoa butter makes it smell like chocolate. I took that formula and changed it a bit for my Cocoa Butter Soap. The only draw back to this book, is the formulas are in grams and folks hate to do the conversions to ounces. I suggest getting a scale that will do both and no worries.

I really hate it when some twit emails me and wants my soap and lotion formulas. DO I LOOK STUPID? Some of these formulas have been played with for some time. There is no way I would give up the formulas without serious dollars. Common sense is not what a lot of folks have. Some folks do not want to read and experiment on their own. All I can say is, sorry and shame on you.

Enough of all that... I enjoy the soaps and lotions and have made cheese as well. But, due to all the Government Regulation, which chokes us farmers on a daily bases, I only make it for myself. I can sell raw goat milk for pet consumption, but can not sell it for human consumption here in Alabama. Most of my milk is frozen and used on bottle babies or for myself. My son claims he does not like goat milk, but when he comes, I buy a half gallon of cow milk, pour it out and switch it with goat milk. I must make sure the date is close, because he checks the date to see if I have fooled him. Tim can not tell the difference, other then it is a bit creamier.

After the Nigerians I bought a couple of Boer Goats to try. I like the meat goats because, yes, I do eat goat meat. But, I don't like to butcher and send them to Reed's in Clantin, Al. But, they need to weigh between 70 and 100 pounds in order to justify the $55 fee. The Nigerians full grown as bucks only get to about 70 pounds and the bucks are strong tasting. So I wether (neutered male) a Boer or two every year and have them processed into steaks, chops and hamburger. Yum! It is some of the most healthy meat, no growth hormone or antibiotics. I raised them and know exactly what they ate and they were teated well and on pasture with grain supplement up until the end. The meat is even marbled.

I have one Boer Breeding buck who is going to the butcher next week. He had an infection in his testicle which has left him sterile. We are not sure what happened to him. He was with 3 does and his testicle blew up like a balloon. I treated him, took him to the vet and we had treated him for 2 months. The vet determined he was done as a breeder. None of the 3 does he was with became pregnant. We had to wait for all the drugs and antibiotics to clear from his system before sending him to Reeds. He will be made into Brock Sausage. The strong buck taste is cut by the spices. It is wonderful sausage, made with real casing as well. It is not always easy to send your goats to their end. This buck I raised from a baby and showed him at some Boer Shows. He is almost 2 years and almost 300 pounds and a baby. He is a big smelly baby. A friend will take him to the butcher, I can not do it. That is one of the bad things about farming. One has to do things we don't always want to do. I can not justify feeding a buck or even if wethered, a 300 pound goat. I need the space for a breeding group of sheep. This buck will nourish the family and he had a very good life. I have his full brother, The Rock, his father and his mother is pregnant again.

October of 07 I was able to purchase the 40 acres of farm land and from scratch am putting the Farm together. We started moving goats over in March 08 and that is where this story ends.

I will talk more about the sheep at a later time. Now I need to get a million things done and I have to go back to work Monday. Yes, I work full time and farm full time. I would not have it any other way...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

October 2008 at Oldesouth Farm

I did not realize it has been almost a year since the last blog. What have we been doing you ask? We had purchased 40 acres, fenced it, put up shelters, cross fenced, built pens for the bucks and rams, kidded, lambed, hayed 3 cuttings, put in a well and will need to run water lines and put in more water troughs before the end of the year. Now you know why we have not posted due to time and lack there of...

I have been away from the farm for a week at the beginning of October. I had traveled to Michigan to pick up some Icelandic Sheep I had purchased from Lavender Fleece Farm. I had put a deposit on some lambs fall of 07, picked out the lambs in April, via the internet and drove up to Michigan to pick them up in October 08. I wanted to be sure they would not experience the heat of the summer, coming from up north to the south. They will have plenty of time to acclimate to our climate before the heat of next summer.

The beautiful ram lamb is pictured to the right. He is an Icelandic Sheep and I love the fleece and the wonderful, calm dispositions of these sheep. I brought back 5 sheep, 3 ewes and 2 ram lambs. We sheared the young ram and his fleece is spectacular. He looks a bit different after taking off all that lovely fleece. The second photo is the ram sheared. He is long and wide.

The Sheep were spectacular and Laurie was a wonderful and gracious host. Her husband was wonderful as well, as was her father in law who is into his 8 th decade of farming.

I will try and post more often so folks know what is going on. I had not put the bucks with my does until mid May, so no one would kid while I was in Michigan. My Son, Tim came up from Fort Walton Beach, Fl to take care of my stock while I was away. My son is in the Air Force.

My first doe to kid was Blue, our cover girl. She had twin blue eyed daughters, both buckskin. One is a dark buckskin, the other a light red buckskin. The sire is a new blue eyed buck I had purchase last fall. These does have a 50% chance of being homozygous to the blue eyes. Blue is homozygous and all of her kids have blue eyes. The next one to kid, in my opinion will be Angel. she is about ready to explode and has been holding out for a week. Most of the does are close to kidding and will probably kid in November.

I have my sheep separated into breeding groups, but was a bit late with the Mini Cheviots. The morning a friend had stopped by to assist in separating out sheep, Trumpet was sited breeding one of the Cheviot ewes. She is due to lamb on Valentines day 09. We had thought of giving her a mismating injection, but had a couple of goats go a year before their cycles were normal. I would rather have a cross bred sheep, then loose on any lambs for a year. The morrit icelandic and Cheviot cross should be an interesting cross. The icelandic lambs are born small, should be no problem with lambing. We will wait and see what happens.

The official breeding season for the Icelandic Sheep is in November and December. By January, the rams can be put up for the year. I usually run a ram with them anyway until Febuary, just in case someone was missed as a clean up ram. Usually, the Icelandics are done by this time, but just in case...

More later...