May really has been a blur, because although I'm writing this on the 29th, it feels like May has only just begun. We are almost 6 months into this year, yet I feel as though it couldn't have gone by any faster! May has been a great month, albeit busier (which I am unsure how that is even possible). The garden is doing great, the meat birds are doing great, the goats are fat, the chickens laying, and it is just flashing by.
May has been a pretty good month for the goats. We had our last kidding for the season! Lola, who I was scared would not be a good mother birthed twin DOELINGS (one of which has SPOTS!) and is the best mother of the bunch. Very tentative, and alert, always calling to her kids. We've been getting good amounts of milk, and everyone has been on their best behavior, except Juniper where she suddenly forgot that it is right and polite to get straight on the stanchion for grain, and Lucy who has been slightly difficult and also tried to wean me. Patience. That is what I learn from goats, patience. Milking and goat knocks over bucket? Patience...just keep milking and stay calm. Thankfully everyone seems to be back to normal. One night I thought Juniper was bloating, but then seemed fine. We've had some udder cuts, and are having a bit of a bug issue. Flies and ticks are driving them a bit crazy...any suggestions on what I can safely use on dairy animals?
May 7th, Lolas ligaments were gone and I knew kids were coming! I sat around all day with nothing exciting happening. The later it got though, the more things progressed. I don't know how much Lola appreciated me being there, but I am glad I was. There was a bit of a struggle with the first kid coming out, but the second came out a little easier. I couldn't believe they were both DOELINGS. Adorable, cute, precious doelings, one with long ears, one without, one totally black, one with spots! Lola's milk was quite slow coming in, which I was concerned about. Everyone else's milk came in very fast, and almost all of them had over full udders. Not Lola! She was slow to fill and hasn't ever really been too full. I am milking a little in the mornings. Lola has been one of the best mothers out of everyone. She is highly protective, even going after one of our dogs, and calls to them always. After a week or two the other goats calmed down, but not Lola! It's one of the reasons I haven't started keeping her babies locked overnight. I know I should, but I think it will be very traumatic for her! I do not think I will lock Miri away from Berta overnight. Berta is nearly impossible to milk, I don't think a super full udder would make things any better. I am unsure at this point if Berta will be bred again. Though I have put it off, I also really need to sell both of our bucks. I hate too but because they are Nigerian Dwarfs they are constantly in rut. I.E. they are constantly bothering the girls, and have started showing interest in the doelings (well, the bucklings as well to be fair!). I hate selling them for some reason, but it is definitely time!
The chickens, chicks, and meat birds have all done wonderfully. They are all in love with the nicer weather! The geese, ducks, turkeys and chicks are doing great! I was worried about their different nutritional needs but they seem to be doing great. They have been moved to the big coop in a removable pen and have access to a small outdoor pen and a little pool. With all the rain it's a soggy, muddy mess, but I pick grass for them every day and toss it in. I'm going to have to put a thick layer of hay down soon though. The layers need their coop cleaned as well! I meant to keep track of eggs this year, but I haven't done a great job. I'd estimate we get about 3 eggs a day. Doesn't sound like a lot but adds up quickly. A week or so ago I noticed our old barred rock hen acting a bit strange. Then I realized she was going broody! She picked a spot out of the coop, out in the hoop house. I removed any eggs she was on, and put in a fresh clutch and let her have at it. She broke three, the last one did show some development. If all goes as planned we would have chicks by June 7th. That just seems hard to believe! We will see I suppose. May 4th we had a meat chicken get run over while we moved their pen. My husband didn't know if he was not feeling well and so was slow and got run over, or if he just wasn't being very smart. Regardless we dispatched him and put him in the freezer. May 18th we did our first round of butchering and slaughtered 8 chickens. We made a DIY chicken plucker and had some technical difficulties. However, we got it straightened out and it's excellent!! May 26th we had our second round of butchering, slaughtering a total of 20 chickens. My 10 year old nephew was at the farm that day and ended up being a great help! He is not necessarily farm-y but was full of great questions, and ended up being the one to help eviscerate and pull out lungs!! We have 41 left and hope to finish those the first week of June.
I haven't been as diligent as I should be at milking. I have plenty of good excuses! I started really dreading milking as my hands were hurting so much. My hands started falling asleep, my thumb hurt, it was just an unpleasant situation. When I put all my milk totals on paper for May, I realized I hadn't milked nearly as much as I should. About the same time Lucy tried to wean me and it freaked me out! I thought I may be prematurely out of milk and I had nothing to show for it. So, I started milking daily, but may take Sunday's off so I can get to church on time. We fixed a hand milker we had been working on. Using it the first time was a huge pain and frustration. However it looks like it is fixed and usable now! It does one side at a time now, but we plan to get it so I can do both sides at once. I need it mostly for Juniper who is such a big producer AND has shorter teats. It's been great, and as of May 25th, I am getting about a gallon of milk a day! I ordered some more cheese cultures, a cheese mold, and my husband is building me a cheese press. I hope to start making and storing cheese! On the list to try is cheddar, farmstead cheese, colby, gouda, feta, monterrey jack, and queso fresco.
The garden has done great!! The only issue is the weeds, especially in the lower garden. We have spent a lot of free time tending to other, more pressing things (butchering/making chicken plucker), that the gardens haven't been tended to as well as they should. It doesn't help that the few times we've been available to work in the garden it has rained! May 2nd I started harvesting radishes. May 5th we got some grass clippings spread. May 12th we had to get cattle panels up for the tomatoes. They've grown like crazy and had to have support. May 13th I pulled a lot of radishes, half the row. The easter egg radishes were ready and delicious. I turned some into pickles, the rest were devoured quickly. My radish row had two types of radishes. The latter half was watermelon radishes. They produced great foliage but not so much for the radish part. I kept waiting hoping they would form better radishes, but they have all gone to flower now. I also realized I accidently left some easter egg radishes thinking they were the watermelon type. I think I am going to try to collect seeds from them! We will see how that goes. May 20th we had our first ever broccoli harvest!
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My name is Monica, I'm passionate about farming, food, and the humane treatment of livestock.