Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Monday, April 27, 2009
Thursday, April 23, 2009
We were able to put Kip back in the barn tonight without much fuss. I coaxed him out of the pasture with some sweet feed and he came along fine. I asked Tom to come help because I couldn't carry the feed bucket and lead Kip at the same time. Tom wanted to lead Kip, so I walked along, carrying the bucket and giving instructions to him. I'm sure it was annoying to have me telling him, "Say, 'walk'; walk for a little while, then stop and say, 'whoa'; walk on his left side and lead with your right hand; don't let him lag behind; hold the rope closer to his chin; don't give him so much room to dance around...Ooops, ouch I bet that hurt." Well, if he had listened to me, he wouldn't have gotten kicked with Kip's back foot. How does a donkey kick you with his back foot while you're leading him? You let the rope dangle and let the donkey dance around with a yard of rope between you. That's how.
My philosophy is that every outing is an opportunity for training. Teach him to walk when I say "walk" and to stop when I say "whoa" and he must walk where I want him to at the pace I want to go. Obviously, I think my method is better than being dragged and kicked.
Tom went into town to file some paperwork on our acreage so we can keep our agricultural exemption. You have to have a certain number of livestock on a certain number of acres and if you grow a garden you have to sell a certain amount of produce to qualify.
For goodness sake. We don't want to go into business. We just want to grow our own food. The rules are many and include something like one cow per two acres (or is it three?), but three goats per one acre. So we'd have to have a whole bunch of goats - far more than I care to bother with. And I didn't want to have cattle, but it looks like we're just going to HAVE to. And our donkeys don't count unless we have an ungelded male. I don't have the skills to handle a full grown Jack donkey. And what if he somehow managed to get in the pasture with my neighbor's mares and produced a bunch of mules?! What a nightmare - Appaloosa mules.
And produce...well, to get the exemption, we have to sell the produce. To sell the produce, we'd have to have a much bigger garden AND, worst of all, we'd have all the gov't regulations for food handling to contend with.
So, they get us either coming or going. If we don't fulfill all the requirements for the exemption, we get hit with a huge tax burden. If we try to fulfill the requirements, we have all the regulations, paperwork, and fees associated with that - or we kill ourselves with working the land and livestock.
Tom is researching the issue some more to see what the easiest way for us will be. I'm hoping it will be as "simple" as putting a few head of cattle out there and just letting them eat the grass year round.
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Who doesn't know what that means?
Anyway, I think it's pretty cool that I got Legal Tender for the herd name and SLVR (silver) for our tattoo, since Tom is so into the lawful money issue. Maybe we'll name our farm Little Oviedo or something like that. Meagan and I toyed with the idea of El Goato for the herd name, but in the end, I thought it was too silly.
So, we're set. I can register Rose and Cosmos now. I have my tattoo set ordered and it should be arriving soon. As soon as I get them tattooed, I'm going to put them up for sale.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Monday, April 13, 2009
At least, I think it coyote scat. It's not dog and it's not cat (cats usually cover theirs). I went looking on the internet to try to confirm my suspicions that it is from the coyotes. Not surprisingly, there are tons of pictures of animal poop on the internet. What is surprising is the number of pictures in which the poop is held in a human hand. Ack!
Anyway, the scat is full of bugs that have been injested by the animal. I really didn't know that coyotes ate bugs. I thought it should be full of rabbit and mouse parts. But what other animal could it be? I first noticed the unusual poop just a few yards from the chicken coop. Uh-oh. I think they're peeking in and planning a raid.
Then today when I walked out to the garden, there was a large pile that looked as if several coyotes (or whatever) had all pooped in the same place. That's just a few yards from the house. I've been hearing the coyotes yipping very close by lately, so I try not to let Pearlie out after dark except right by the front door. I probably should go ahead and get a very large dog. That might be helpful in keeping coyotes away from the house.
Saturday, April 11, 2009
I went out after lunch, put some food in his bowl in the trailer and when he walked up in there, I shut the door quickly. Then I went in with him to try to put a halter on, but he tried to kick me, so I had to rethink the strategy.
Meagan came out to help and we were able to get a rope around his neck so Meagan could put the halter on while I held him still. He didn't fight too much, but I think it was because the rope was so tight, he was having trouble breathing...poor thing.
Tom came out and helped us hook the trailer up to the truck, then Meagan and I drove the truck to the barn, backed it up to the stall, hooked two ropes onto his halter and led him out. He did not want to go into the stall. We had to pull him with all our might, but we got him in and he's OK. He's remarkably calm. I expected a fit from him. He's just hee-hawing a lot, but he came right up and took a carrot from Meagan so I think he's not as scared as Henry was.
And Hyacinth has mastitis in one side of her udder. Ever since I started milking her I've noticed that the one side only gives a few ounces while the other gives the bulk of the milk. Then on Thursday evening, there was a little bit of blood in the milk from the smaller side. So I bought a mastitis test yesterday and tested her milk. Sure enough, that side is infected. I got some meds from the vet today. Oh joy, oh delight. The medicine is in a syringe. I have to put the syringe tip into the opening on the teat and squeeze the medicine into it while "reverse milking" so the medicine will go into the udder. Hyacinth will love this.
Sometimes the section of udder that is infected gets so much scar tissue that it will no longer produce milk. I think that may be the case with Hyacinth, which will be bad if she has twins again.
Friday, April 10, 2009
Milk Hyacinth; put Pansy and all kids in pasture four; put Billy in with Buffy (who was by herself in pasture two, which is not goat fenced); put Cosmos in with Henry (in pasture three); watch to make sure Henry doesn't kill Cosmos; put Hyacinth in corridor between pastures three and four (which is goat fenced); go out to try to get Hilde in the trailer; on the way see that Billy has escaped pasture two; detour to get Billy corraled; on the way see that Henry is trying to kill Cosmos, who is running for his life along the fence line and Hyacinth is running along other side of fence line, then I'm running across the pasture trying to stop Henry; save Cosmos; look over and see that Hyacinth has miraculously escaped her corridor (must have jumped the fence in a panic to save Cosmos); hold Cosmos so Henry can sniff and understand that Cosmos belongs, but soon after I put Cosmos down, Henry is after him again; get Cosmos out of dangerous pasture while trying to hold Billy in; shuffle six goats in and out of same pasture with the intent of getting them all in pasture three except for Hyacinth because Rose and Cosmos are desperately trying to nurse (I thought they'd be weaned by now, but no); put Hyacinth back in barn. **big sigh**
Now, where was I? Oh yeah, try to get Hilde in trailer. Hilde went right in. I inched the door up slowly in case she tried to leap out, but she was calm. I closed the trailer all up, went and got the truck and Tom and I moved her into pasture two with Buffy. Now Kip is in the big front pasture by himself. The question is whether to leave him out there by himself to night. I really don't want to do that. He's still a little guy and despite all his bluff and bluster, he probably is vulnerable to coyotes.
So I'm going back out this afternoon to see if I can get him in the trailer and move him to the barn. I probably will not be able to do that, but my options are to leave him alone or move Henry and Billy in with him.
Funny observation: When we put Billy in with Buffy, he reared up to head butt her right away. She promptly turned her rear end to him like she was going to give him a kick and he didn't do it again. She immediately established the fact that Billy was not the boss of that pasture and she was not going to put up with his nonsense.
Thursday, April 09, 2009
In my cereal.
I'm a little freaked out, but it tastes just like regular milk as far as I can tell. I'm not a milk drinker. Milk has always kind of grossed me out to drink straight. Since any kind of milk might make me gag, I'm not a good judge of milk taste, but as long as it kind of fades into the background of the cereal taste, I'm OK with it. And it does. So, I'm OK with it. Sort of.
Wednesday, April 08, 2009
Neighbor, Joann, came out to the pasture to help me with the donkeys, but as I expected, they wouldn't have anything to do with her. Before she arrived, they were gathered round me getting rubs and nibbling my fingers, but as soon as Joann arrived, they went off. So we stood around in the pasture talking a long time just so the donkeys would get used to her being around. After a while, they did come back and kind of hang around, but as soon as we got out halters and ropes, they took off again.
Oh well, I had a good visit with Joann, so it wasn't a total waste.
Last night, in desperation, I wrote to a complete stranger, a goat farmer I found on the internet, to ask for advice about how to get Hyacinth to stop kicking. She actually called me today. I was very surprised that she would take the time. We had a good long talk and she gave me some tips. But when I told her my plan about weaning the kids, then milking Hyacinth, she wasn't on board with that at all. She thought it was a bad idea and referred me to her website on which she addresses that very issue.
I liked what she had to say, and it made sense, but I decided it did not apply to my situation because Hyacinth was a different kind of mother. I won't bore everyone with the details. Suffice it to say that I will continue with milking Hyacinth unless or until it proves to be unproductive. I got another quart today. At that rate, although it is paltry for a Nubian, I would get more than a gallon a week and that is way more than we regularly use. So it's enough for now.
If you're interested in what the advice was, you can go to the website and read it. I think those who know Hyacinth would agree that it doesn't really apply.
Milking went a tiny bit better this morning. I still had to give Hyacinth wee bits of food to keep her still, but she didn't kick as much in between. Maybe she'll calm down after she learns the routine. Routine seems to be important to goats.
The carpet is being installed in our other house today, so Tom is there seeing to that project.
A friend helped me figure out how much fabric I need to make my curtains. 33 yards for the bedroom, 52 yards for the living room, and 2 1/4 yards for a roman shade in the kitchen pantry area. Friend used to make window coverings professionally and has offered to help me. I might take her up on that. I could probably learn a lot from her.
Tuesday, April 07, 2009
As usual, donkeys were all lovey dovey and "gimme, gimme" when I went out there by myself today. They went nonchalantly in and out of the trailer, so I practiced lifting the ramp a tiny bit just to see what they'd do. Of course, Hilde and Kip got their nose all out of joint and ran off. Buffy was in to eating all the food herself, so I got brave and lifted the ramp a little more (the ramp lifts up to close the trailer). She didn't freak out, so I lifted it all the way. She seemed a bit concerned, but was calm, so I latched it. I called Tom and told him I had Hilde in the trailer and we might as well move her. So he drove the truck down to the pasture.
Neighbor's daughter-in-law, Jesse, happened by as I was closing the trailer, so she helped us hook the trailer up, then went to help me move Billy and Henry. I had put moved them to the next pasture over so they could have some new grass to eat. That pasture wasn't goat fenced so I was a little concerned that Billy might get out, but as far as I know, he didn't evey try...and why should he? The grass is definitely better on his side of the fence. Anyway, we moved them back to their regular pasture and put Hilde, by herself, into that pasture. Tomorrow I plan to try to get Buffy and Kip into the trailer. Neighbor, Joann, said she'd help get them in and then she would put a halter on Kip. I said, "Better you than me." Heh.
I put all goats except Hyacinth out in the pasture today. It didn't seem to bother the kids that they went without their mother. They stuck close to Pansy. I guess she's their surrogate now. I figure if I keep Hyacinth and her kids apart for a few days, they'll forget about the nursing and I can put Rose back in with her mother and send Cosmos out with the big boys. Poor Cosmos. Maybe he'll have his voice back tomorrow. He sounds so pitiful - like a kitten.
I milked Hyacinth again tonight. In between feedings, there was a lot of kicking and thrashing. I left her on the stand longer than I needed to just because I was feeling annoyed and she needs to know that she stays there until I'm finished. All told, I got a quart of milk from her today. And I used some of it to make my focaccia bread tonight. If you don't hear from me tomorrow, we might have died of goat milk poisoning.
Tom finished his fertilizer training. It's kind of a catch 22 situation (sort of like getting a gun license). Now that he is a licensed applicator, he has to keep up with all these rules. Even if I (me, myself) buy a jug of round up to squirt on a dandelion, Tom has to keep a log of it and we're supposed to notify anyone who comes on our property that we just sprayed something. He even has to log my use of compost tea and orange oil on my garden plants. There are a whole bunch of other rules, punishable by fines, criminal charges, and threats of losing one's license. The problem is, you can't buy the products to use unless you have the license. So they've got you no matter what.
There are still 23 chickens alive and well.
I didn't measure the ingredients, so if anyone wants to make it, you just have to eyeball it.
grated cheese (I used the cheddar/jack finely grated cheese from Costco)
chopped pimientos in a jar
chopped candied jalapenos
Mix all ingredients together until it is the consistency of a chunky spread.
I attempted to mik Hyacinth last night. It was pretty much a disaster. She'll stand still as long as she has something to eat in her bowl, but the instant it's empty, she starts kicking. I estimate that I was able to get about two cups of milk, but none of it was usable.
With all the thrashing around, I had milk squirting everywhere, so not all of the two cups went into the pail, some of it got spilled and she stuck her foot in the pail several times, which, as you can imagine, contaminates the milk terribly. The whole process was very frustrating. Especially since preparations to milk (all the sterilizing, etc.) are time consuming. It's frustrating to go to all that trouble just to have Hyacinth act awful and spoil the milk. I suppose it can't be fun for her either with her head in a headlock and having someone squeeze her udder.
Well, I tried again this morning armed with a slightly better plan. Instead of pouring all of her food into the bowl, I just gave her a little at a time. It was a pain, but it worked. I was able to milk her without any feet in the pail and I got 12 unspoiled ounces.
Poor little Cosmos must have cried all night. He was so hoarse that he could barely manage to whisper-cry this morning. Rose seemed to have fared better. At least, her voice was strong. I hated to think of them without their mother last night. As luck would have it, we had one of the coldest nights we've had in a while - about 34 degrees, and we've moved our only heat lamp to the chicken palace. So Rose and Cosmos had to rely on the hay and each other for warmth.
Our donkey plan was a bust, too. We could neither get the halter on Kip nor get him in the trailer long enough to shut the door. Whenever anyone goes out there with me to the donkey pasture, they are on high alert and they know we're up to something that they aren't going to agree with. We'll have to try something else today.
Today Tom is taking a class on organic fertilizer usage. It's a mandatory training before anyone can purchase and use fertilizers - or large amounts of fertilizers, I guess. We just found out that he had to have the training before he can treat our pastures. So we're a little late on the weed management of our hay field.
Monday, April 06, 2009
I coaxed her out and a little way from the barn, but she kept stopping and looking back. Of course, Rose and Cosmos were crying and crying their little baby "maaah's". Then she just wouldn't go any further and she turned around and ran back. So, I just put her, Pansy and Pansy's kids back in their stall.
I'll be attempting to milk Hyacinth this evening. Wish me luck.
Tom and I are also going to attempt to get Kip into the horse trailer and into the barn some time this week - maybe today or tomorrow. I still haven't got a halter on him, so I don't know how this is going to go. Wish us more luck.
The chicks spent their first night in the chicken coop. We put a heat lamp in there because it was in the 40's last night and is supposed to be in the 30's tonight. When I went in to feed them this morning, they were all huddled in the light's heat. And they are already learning that "chick, chick, chick" means "come eat". I have to teach them that so that when we start letting them out during the day to range, we'll be able to call them back into the coop for the night.
Sunday, April 05, 2009
Wednesday, April 01, 2009
We were told by a friend that you need two different kinds of chickens - one kind for laying eggs and one kind for meat. I don't accept that. In my Storey's Guide to Raising Chickens (thank you Tina) it says that there are such a thing as "dual purpose" chickens. It says "best of both worlds--eggs and meat. Dual purpose chickens "don't lay as well as laying hens and don't grow as fast as meat birds, but they lay better than meat birds and grow faster than laying hens...are the classic backyard chickens."
They give a list:
Better for Eggs
Red Sex Link (hybrid)
Rhode Island Red
Better for Meat
Black Sex Link (hybrid)
And the book tells me the number of eggs that I should expect per day would be two eggs for every three hens. I should figure out how many eggs I want and decide on the number of chickens from there, figuring in a certain percentage of chickens that might die off.
So, with that information, I've decided to start with 25 Rhode Island Reds. We'll see how that works out. Chickens aren't a long time investment as they are only good for laying for about a year or two and you don't want to wait until they are too old to eat or they'll be tough. If the Reds don't work out, I think we can easily switch to a different breed.
Perhaps I'm relying too much on a book (sort of like Howard Garrett's gardening book that has been proven wrong too many times), but...well, that's what I do.