Wow. This hiatus was a LOT longer than I had intended. I really love writing, and especially blogging. The thought that my words may go out and find someone who needs to hear what I have to say, or just enjoys reading is amazing to me. The end of 2015 was a brilliant blaze of busy and a plan for better days in 2016. To get us reaquainted and catch you up on farm happenings, here’s a rundown on the last 5 months of 2016…
-The first week of August we drove and hour and a half to purchase a new herdsire. A beautiful moonspotted nubian buck. His name is Buddy, and he has been an adventure.
-We sold Roy and Roger, the nigerian dwarf bucks we had late September. We were going to butcher them, BUT they got so smelly we changed our minds. The gentleman who picked them up was getting them for meat I’m sure. He was extremely kind to them as he loaded them up, even giving one a kiss on the nose, that I knew their life would be ended with kindness.
-I tried out using an anti mating harness on Buddy, as I wanted to make sure we didn’t have kids born when it was really cold out.
-I basically gave up on the garden. The lower garden became a lost cause, though we did get a small potato harvest, a small pumpkin harvest, and a nice zucchini harvest. The larger upper garden was a pain to keep even slightly weed free, but we got a nice harvest of tomatoes, and a great harvest of peppers. I canned 22 pints of jalapenos! The back to eden garden got weedy, but not like the others. In the fall we started converting the large upper garden into a back to eden garden as well for 2016.
-I came to the conclusion that both our turkeys were hens, and found them a stunning black spanish tom.
-I also realized both our turkeys were in fact meat turkeys. Our gals are HUGE. I’m hoping to get the best of both years having heritage, meat breed mix poults to raise.
- we purchased half a cow and tried out a pork bundle from a local butcher.
-I am rendering my own lard.
-we butchered 50 chickens in one day.
-rearranged the goat barn, and added a hay bale wrapped with a cattle panel as a feeder and gave them a stock tank for water.
-in October I took the anti mating apron off Buddy to anticipate March kids.
-in November girls were still going into heat!!
-right before Thanksgiving we went and picked up ANOTHER buck, this one an ok looking lamancha, for hopefully late April, early May kiddings.
-as the last doe went into heat Buddy may have finally figured out how things work, but we won’t know until babies are due what we will get!
-right after we got Buddy the first of August, he caused some of the girls to go into heat sooner than usual. That’s what adding a smelly boy goat will do. Miri went into heat, but the apron saved her. And I suppose the apron would have worked to keep Ladot from getting pregnant too...except her dad/uncle both escaped. Yeap. How lovely. So she is due literally any day now. (in the coldest time of the year of course)
-right before selling Roy and Roger I made a big mistake. I opened their pen one day to take them on a walk with everyone else. No one was in heat, and they had been locked in a small paddock for weeks. When they finally caught up with us, I realized Lola apparently was in heat! I drug her back to the pen as quickly as possible, but I’ve not seen her go into heat. So, I assume she is bred, and due in February.
-as the temperatures got colder, and the goats roamed farther for food, they started visiting the neighboring cemetery. Until we can fix the fence there I didn’t allow them into the pasture. So they started escaping into the yard. I had to make emergency goat stops at the farm daily for a couple weeks until I fixed where they were getting out. They haven’t escaped in awhile, knock on wood.
-Lola, Lucy, Miri, Pixie, and Trixie keep getting their heads stuck in the cattle panel around the hay, so...we duct taped sticks to all of their heads. They look so silly, BUT no more stuck heads!
-Haha, just kidding, one of our big gals really tried, and managed to get her head stuck...so we had to cut her out.
-I learned goats are the bane of my existence.
I’m exhausted just rehashing all these details! I’m kind of glad 2015 is behind me, and I hope 2016 is full of lots of milk, and eggs, flashy doelings, well behaved goats, and no weeds in the garden!
How was your 2015? Any big plans for 2016?
This picture almost sums up my life. Chores. Milk. Plants. Cleaning. Repeat indefinitely. A week or two ago (I can't even give you an exact date here!) the husband went from second shift to first so maybe I could have a normal schedule. We've been waking up at 6, having breakfast, he goes to work and I get to the farm for chores. This switch is proving more difficult than expected. We've been on second shift for over 5 years. We are giving it a month to see how it works and will adjust as needed. I have definitely enjoyed all the sunshine!
Milking has been easier than imagined and a bit more challenging as well. Lucy is an absolute dream on the stanchion. She stands well, stomps only occasionally, and her teats are wonderful. I know that sounds weird, but it is so true. I can milk her so easily. She has an absolutely lovely udder, and seems to be producing well. I have been getting at least a quart of milk in the mornings, but think that will increase soon. Juniper has been much more challenging to milk. She eats much quicker than Lucy, and is then much more impatient! Add to that her very large udder, with smaller, wider teats and I struggle to milk her effectively. I often end up squirting milk (especially at first) everywhere but the bucket. She is also quite a kicker/stomper. Now the last few days she has been great, but now that I say that I expect her to be a nightmare on the stand! I'm also getting a quart daily from her, though I could get more. My hands get so fatigued that by the time I get a quart my hands hurt so bad I can't open my mason jars!
Poor Juniper looks pretty ragged! She is putting so much into making milk she is thinner than I would like. I've bumped up her grain but plan on trying out beet shreds as well. I've heard they can really help put weight on. When I first started milking I was a little tentative of the milk. My first sip of Lucy's wasn't delicious. I chalked it up to colostrum still being in the milk, but two weeks after kidding it still seemed off. I changed a few things and it's fine now! It's been amazing to have seemingly never ending supply of fresh milk. I got some colostrum frozen in case of an emergency, along with some milk frozen in cubes. (Goat milk soap anyone?!) The rest of the milk I've been using to experiment with cheese making. I've made chevre, ricotta and mozzarella. The chevre and ricotta were easy. The first batch of mozzarella was edible, but not mozzarella. The second batch seems to have turned out very well! I can't wait to make more...
Our seedlings are just about all full-fledged plants now. This is an older photo, most have been transplanted into larger containers. They are spending almost all of their time outdoors, and I'm hoping to get to transplant them to the farm garden very soon. I have SO. MANY. plants this year. Like...a lot of tomatoes and peppers specifically. I always plant extras when I start seeds because my success isn't always so great. This year our germination had to have been close to 100%. I couldn't bear getting rid of them, so I may sell some...or just make a lot of salsa. Just a few days ago we planted our first cooler weather crops. They could have been done sooner, but for some reason forgot about them! I planted spinach, kale, chard, lettuce, collards, radishes, and a whole lotta beets. I hope to get my carrots planted any day now as well. I've never had good success with carrots so wish me well!
Last week we got our spring batch of meat birds. I ordered 75, and got a few extras. (It is extremely hard to count that many chicks!) We've had a few losses, but I'm pretty sure we have 74 at the moment. In a little over a week, they have gone through an entire 50 pound bag of chick starter. Needless to say I'm glad we bought a whole ton in bulk! It's one of the reasons I'm hoping to ferment their feed in an effort to keep the cost and waste down. We will see.
Juniper's kids, tentatively named Leroy and Dottie, are doing great. It's amazing to me how well these guys are doing! They are already eating and are extremely active. The only downside is they are quite timid when it comes to humans. It's something I hope to work on soon. They are locked up at night in the hoop house with Buckwheat, and have really thrived. The same day I got chicks I was carrying them out to Juniper when Dottie started flailing around. She caught her lower eyelid on a wire and ripped it open. Half an inch maybe? Thankfully it didn't get her actual eye and didn't bleed much. I tracked down some tetanus antitoxin, and smeared a little Neosporin on it. She may have a scar but it has healed up great.
This picture is a bit old, but perfectly captures Buckwheat. He is a sweetheart, extremely active and ornery, and always jumping, hopping, galloping, or being a typical little goat. I have to admit to being head over heels for him, and squeeze him often. Although I am unsure on keeping Leroy and Dottie, Buckwheat will stay here, not as a buck but a wether. Between him and Lucy I have just about decided I want to focus more on owning Lamanchas. There is just something I love about them!!
Ok, so that's a little recap of life around here...what kind of adventures are you up to? Share below!
My husband works second shift, in fact he's worked second shift almost our entire marriage. I've always matched my schedule to his, but farming...well farming has made that difficult. He has to be to work by 1:30 PM, and gets off about midnight. I've had to modify my schedule, and it has been exceptionally difficult. I have to be at the farm at 7 AM, and at about 5:30 PM (right now, once milking 7 & 7). After over a month struggling with finding a way to get 8 hours of sleep altogether, I finally mastered it. Wake up by about 4:30 PM, and go to bed at about 8:30 AM. It's almost inevitable, that when my husband goest to sleep at about 3 or 4 AM, I am also ready to go to sleep. I get so tired, the kind of tired where you fall asleep in the middle of watching TV or reading. So, I take a "little" nap, wake up and do chores at 7 AM, get home by 8 AM wide awake and unable to fall asleep. Finally get to sleep around noon, only to wake up by 4:30 PM. Then by the time I get done with chores, get home, eat something, I get super tired. Like, all I can do is exist, tired...or at least that's how it feels. I try to get a little housework done quickly, and then take a "little" nap. Then this nasty cycle repeats itself, giving me just a few hours of sleep at a time. I had finally gotten into the habit of 8 hours at a time, when I thought Lucy could be having babies. It threw my entire schedule out of whack. Add to that the weekends where I need to be awake during the daylight to get things done, and I've been exhausted all week. Add to all this that I have sleep issues. For almost as long as I remember, but insomnia started when I was about 15 and makes annoying appearances in my life at the most inopportune times. Often, when I can sleep, or want to sleep insomnia rears it's ugly head. I'm writing this post at almost 5 AM, trying to keep busy until 6:45 AM when I can get ready to do chores. I'm hoping to get myself reset and back on track. If there is one important, but difficult thing I've learned, it's that I have to have a schedule and stick to it. Extremely difficult, but I suppose it's all worth it in the end. I apologize for the lack of writing, but I have felt so tired blogging and social media have taken a back seat!
My name is Monica, I'm passionate about farming, food, and the humane treatment of livestock.