It’s unfortunate when you “golden shower” yourself… Right?

Someone has popped two top teeth through and is getting quite active, so active that the worn out velcro closures on my five year old cloth diapers aren’t doing the job anymore. Must make time to covert the velcro to snaps, ASAP!

Last night when I heard a tiny baby cough coming from the bedroom I went in all concerned. Has he been sleeping so long because he is getting a cold? I peek in on him and see exposed penis…

I find golden beads of urine, on his belly, his arms, his face and his hair…that sprayed every which way. He’s coughing because he’s just gotten a golden shower.  

His bed was soaked, his body was drenched. Poor guy thought he was drowning in his bed I bet.

After a nice warm bath he was good as new again.

It’s hard to control a limp teat!

We are almost a week into goat ownership right now and we are loving it. We got our milker, Poptart, on a slightly later milking schedule so we aren’t quiet as tired as initially in the first few days. Yay!

As newbie goat owners, we’ve had a few scares. The first one was when Clay, our buck, knocked his scur off on the fence… Okay I better back up and explain the goat terminology first…

A “Buck” is a male goat and a “Scur” is a janky type horn that has grown after the real horns have been removed, disbudding is the removal of the horns.

The scur bled and was alarming to us. I worried about flies and maggots getting in there and had to quickly learn when and how to treat the injury. Luckly, Clay’s bleeding wasn’t really that severe and it clotted and stopped on it’s own. All I had to do was make up my “go to” sealing paste for the wound to keep maggots and flies out of it.

Meet Clay:

Our second scare has been the rapid decline of milk supply in Poptart since brining her home. She was giving about a gallon per day, over the span of two milkings. So that is basically 2 quarts of milk per milking. Below you’ll see what we got the morning after we brought her home. This was from her first milking post-move. It’s just shy of 2 quarts.

Of course stress can cause milk supply to decline, so we knew the bringing her to our home would be supply impacting.

We took great care to buy the feed that she was already getting as to not disrupt her diet too much but the food we had was pretty much being rejected by her. Heck, she even stopped drinking water in the beginning.

We went from almost 2 quarts per milking to something like 1/2 a quart per milking. It was worrisome.

It seems like the type of alfalfa makes the difference in milk supply. We initially bought a bale of alfalfa from the store. She’s not a fan… but the alfalfa pellets we grabbed (with the highest protein content we could find) are more interesting to her.

Now that she’s less stressed, eating pellets in addition to her bale of alfalfa and being left to graze around the yard most of the day, she is back up to giving us closer to 2 quarts a milking.

While her supply was low it sure was different to milk her though. Teats aren’t as firm/ full when the supply is lower and… It is sure harder to control a limp teat. I can see that now that her teats are filling more again ;P
I never in my life imagined I’d be remarking about limp teats in a blog post! LOL.

proper-milking-procedure

Newbie goat milking at the butt crack of dawn…


It is 5 am and I’m up. Yesterday we brought home our milking goat, Poptart, a 2 yr old Alpine goat. She’s had a certain type of feed and a certain milking schedule… and since we’ve uprooted her living arrangement and shuttled her to our home, in a thunderstorm… we figured the least we could do was keep her milking schedule the same for a while.

So, it’s 5 am and I’m up to milk my goat.

I was surprisingly okay at milking. When we showed up to buy the goats I got a milking lesson and did a trial milking. Amazingly, I milked her completely and it didn’t take an eternity. Side note: I’d only milked a cow once before at a friends house and I didn’t get the job finished that time :/

We coaxed Poptart to walk herself to our milking stand with a bucket of grain, once she was secured on the stand (yes they really do jump up there on their own!) the milking went well. This morning I was finished milking by 5:30 am so I feel like that is a good beginners time for hand milking 1/2 gallon. I definitely don’t have a rhythm going yet but I’ve got time for that to develop.

After milking, as the sun rose and the fog began to lift, Poptart happily walked herself back to the temporary goat enclosure alongside me. You can see Poptart’s future mating partner, Clay, in the distance.

Oh, and I’m totally going to gradually shift the milking schedule over the next week or so that I’m not waking at the butt crack of dawn each day to milk ;P

To Celebrate our one month anniversary with farm life…

A month ago today we crammed all our things, our animals and our kids into vehicles and we drove two hours to our new country home in southern Illinois. We’ve been here a month now and things are becoming more routine. Farm life is going well and we’ve been making adjustments to better fit our new life. One of the major adjustments has been stocking the house with food.

I’ve always stocked up on foods because I’m lazy and I dread shopping trips, so stocking up and avoiding multiple grocery trips is always my goal- finances permitting. Plus, stocking up has it preparedness advantages too! Now that Nathan is home for lunch every day, we are having a formal lunch and eating more food over the course of the week than we normally did. I’ve had to adjust my shopping for this. 

The other thing needing adjusting has been sourcing our foods. We’ve switched grocery stores, changed our bulk food drop location and the biggie has been sourcing our raw milk. Every source we’ve come across for milk has required much driving, that we’d rather not be doing.

Then fate landed these goats that were for sale in our path…

I’ve been reading everything I can about goats and goat milking, been talking with dairying friends. A milking stand has been constructed in just two days time (go Nathan!), we’ve scavenged a shelter from here on the farm, we’re scavenging fencing now, I bought a months worth of goat feed, hay & minerals. Got some lead ropes, a brush and some udder balm. This afternoon, if all goes well, we’ll be goat owners and I’ll be goat milking tonight.

We’ve been joking that it’s our farmy way of celebrating our one month anniversary with country life. LOL! Actually, we didn’t plan it at all, it just kind of happen- part of fate’s plan I suppose. 

We head out this afternoon to possibly buy a 2 yr old Apline milking goat, if milking her goes well and things feel right, we’ll come home with her and an unrelated buck (male goat) for future breeding and milk production inducing. 

I’m not looking forward to adding more farm chores to the mix but I’m also not opposed to working hard for a bit more convenience and self sufficiency so we are giving this a go. I’ve been told goats are easier than cows to sell off if you change your mind ;P


Here we go…


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Want to know how I did milking my goat for the first time? Read this.

Herding instincts, birthday joy and milking goats…

It’s been 25 days since me and Nathan have watched TV. The one thing about farm life that differs from what we were doing before is, we are working LESS hours but we are working HARDER… Not so hard that you want to fall over and die, just hard as in each part of the body actually gets utilized. That means at the end of the day we can both lay down and fall asleep right away. We don’t need to unwind in front of the TV each night, our mental exhaustion is greatly reduced with the job and life change. Though, I’m still kind of mentally exhausted when it comes to trying to wrangle the kids :P Oh, and my sciatica hip & back issues are improved now that I’m being more active. 

Next week we are planning to bring a dairy goat home, plus her mating partner! The ordeal of trekking back to Evansville for house upkeep and to pickup our milk has been taking it’s toll, big time. The kids don’t enjoy being cooped up in a car all day and we lose too much time during the travel that we could be putting to good use around the house and farm. The number of leaving-the-farm-errands MUST be reduced… So I’m taking up goat milking next week. Wish me luck.

I’m intimidated and anxious about the mater of fencing for the goat. I know they can be difficult and sometimes a downright headache. I’m hoping we get lucky or can manage it because we NEED the milking to take place here on the farm for the sake of simplicity. This weekend, better known as Goat Prep 2014 will be our last shot at getting ready before the goats arrive.

We also processed the first of the 40 Red Ranger chickens this week. I’ve been caring for to 40 Red Rangers here on Tanglefoot Ranch, they are meat birds for a farm project. One of them got a hurt leg in a chicken tractor moving ordeal and was just too far gone to mend. To be humane, Nathan ended the suffering and surprisingly Everly was his helper. Eventually the girls will see slaughter from start to finish but we haven’t been pushing them, rather I’ve been trying to shield them, Adalyn specifically.

The other night when Nathan went out to start the slaughter process Everly noticed he had left right away and wanted to go out with him. I warned her about what she might see and she was eager to go and watch “cause I’ve never seen it done before” she commented. Then she went out and took part in it ALL. Her favorite part was when the organs came out and we got to identify and discuss the workings of the digestive system. I cringed a little when she came back inside to ask me if I’ve ever seen “a chicken’s face cut off”. She was referring to it being bled out and then beheaded for plucking. LOL. She took it like a champ, it’s a good thing too because slaughter day is on the horizon for all the other meat birds. Our plucker and kill cones are being engineered right now by the men of Tanglefoot Ranch. Baby EverlyFive year old Everly

Oh, speaking of Everly… She just had her fifth birthday! A few friends made the trip out to Tanglefoot to help us celebrate. She had a Hello Kitty cake, got her own puppy (a working dog. Red Heeler/ Border Collie breed named Snowball) had friends over to play with, it was a great day for her. So great that she zonked out in the middle of our nightly story time. Look how big she is!

We’ve been working on herding dog training for her new puppy. Snowball has strong herding instincts and has already taken to rounding up the turkeys, chickens and even the girls. This scares them and can result in unwanted bites or scratches when puppy enthusiasm combines with herding needs not being met. We have lots of work ahead of us with her but I think she’ll also be a great addition to the family. She’s already bringing out the best in our existing dog, Dixie. Dixie seems to love being a leader and she loves the freedom and space she now has to roam here on the farm. 

I bet when the goats arrive Snowball will get enough herding work to keep her busy ;P

On crashing and lessons learned during the first week of farm life.

We’ve officially completed our first week on Tanglefoot Ranch. Its been a major whirlwind of activity but its been really great. Speaking of Tanglefoot, are you on our mailing list yet?

Seeds have been sowed, our future chicken/ garden space is being readied. I’ve taken over care of the 40 meat birds. Nathan learned to drive a riding mower, he helped repair electric cattle fencing, he has helped with tractor mowing. A dining room is being constructed near the farm’s big kitchen garden. There has been weeding, snake killing, tomato trellising and raspberry picking. We’ve learned the weighing of juvenile shrimp, Nathan and Everly have moved LOTS of juvenile shrimp from the nursery pools to their permanent ponds while a crew from RFD – TV shot some footage of the process. 

We’ve learned of a cherry tree off our back deck and also spotted some tiny apples beginning to form on another tree off the deck. We also believe we have several maple trees that are tappable come spring. Time to gather tapping supplies!

We had a long day of moving over the weekend… again. We didn’t get all our stuff moved on the first round and we’d done zero cleaning of the old place so we made another trip over the weekend.

We succeeded at arriving in Evansville at a reasonable hour but we failed at leaving at one. When pulled out of town with a loaded truck the Evansville sun was setting. That should have landed us home at 10:30 pm. Not ideal but we decided we were just rolling with the punches.

Once we turned on our new home’s street, we were driving along the gravel road, thinking of arriving at home when things went very wrong. At first I thought Nathan had slowed the trailer or that the trailer was struggling to climb the hill we were on… then I realized the trailer wasn’t’ slowing, it was rolling backwards! 

I hit the break, braced myself and the trailer slammed into the front of the Prius so hard it woke the kids and sloshed my water (that was in a cup holder) all over my lap. After the impact I engaged the emergency break and tried to make sense of what had happen.

Picture a seriously loaded up stock trailer, hillbilly style. Now pretend you are looking at it from behind – that was me. Now visualize it rolling backwards and slamming against your car causing your car to roll back a bit… Then it stops. 

Once I was sure the momentum and motion had ceased I reassured my backseat full of panicked kids that we were okay. There was all sorts of crying and question asking. Then I call out my window to Nathan. “Hello? Is every thing okay up there because I think we are holding the trailer with our car.” 

It turns out the truck that was towing the trailer ran out of gas despite the reassurances we were given that we should have enough gas… oh and the gas gague is wonky and doesn’t provide an accurate read. Now we know. LOL.

The two lessons we learned are:

  1. Always make sure, even if someone reassures you.
  2. Never follow a heavy trailer up a hill. Always lead the trailer.

Word is that many poor unsuspecting souls have lost loads of things or control of their vehicles while on the hill we were navigating. And now we know better for next time ;P

 

We’ve made it to Tanglefoot Ranch.

It was a steamy, stormy day but we we loaded a trailer, a stock trailer, a van and two cars with our stuff and drove two hours away to make a new life in the country. The Tanglefoot crew came out and helped us load our lives up and make the trek. They are a thoughtful and welcoming bunch of people. We are uber blessed to have crossed paths with them. They’ve even made us food (including fresh baked gluten free brownies) while we’ve been busting butt to get moved in. How thoughtful and surprising is that? 

The girls woke us this morning at the butt crack of dawn saying “we need to get an early start to the day guys, there is cherry picking to do!” Here is them out picking cherries out in their PJ’s ——->

Earlier in the week we got word about a long forgotten cherry tree that was uncovered on the property we would be living at. The girls were stoked to hear this and have visited the tree often today to load up on sweet treats.

Today we also unpacked the trailer and got the chickens & turkeys set up with a temporary house. This morning poor Adalyn was farm initiated as we fed and watered the poultry, she was tromping the fields behind us and stepped in a juicy cow pie and promptly slid right through it…on her side. She was NOT pleased and had to ride back to our house in just her undies since she was coated head to toe in cow dung.

It has been a looooong 48 hrs but we are here with the animals and kids partially settled in. We have a permanent chicken coop to build for these birds so they can move out of the stock trailer and get more permanently settled. Can you see how stoked they are to have all this green to munch and lounge around in? 

 

Tomorrow we go to work. We are moving the shrimp from the shrimp nursery to the shrimp ponds with a TV reporter in tow it seems. And I need to plant a huge kitchen garden, and plant our own personal garden, and remove poison ivy/ oak from some places. And I might want a milking goat. Lots to do, so much possibility and only so many hours in the day… 

On uncertainty and quality of life on moving day…

As you know, we are making a big life transition right now to live our dreams. Emotions are a roller coaster right now. No, we don’t regret what we are leaving behind… but there has been some worry, of course, as that last paycheck comes in and the last day of being insured goes by. Then this arrived in my inbox:

“The quality of your life is in direct proportion to the amount of uncertainty you can comfortably deal with.” ~Tony Robbins

That pretty much sums it up nicely. Uncertainty and risk are scary, but not as scary as stagnating and growing bitter over the “what-ifs”. And, each time we’ve faced risk and uncertainty we’ve come through alive. Sure it’s uncomfortable, yes we could fall flat on our faces, we could end up worse off… but if we don’t try then we will never know.

So today we set off to join Tanglefoot Ranch in Southern Illinois to begin a new part of our journey. We can’t wait to dig in and begin building a foundation for the exciting plans we’ve made at Tanglefoot. 

 

We’re leaving the suburbs for farm life next week!

We are just counting down the days until moving day. I’m both excited and a bit shocked that moving day is just a few days away. The walls are literally lined with packed boxes, all the obvious things are packed… now we have all the hidden spaces to pack up (the garage, the attic, the storage areas, etc). It’s kind of a waiting game now. A wait-a-few-more-days-and try-not-to-kill-each-other kind of thing, you know?

Me and the girls are really getting practice with recognizing when it’s time to take a break and to decompress. Being cooped up in a house full of boxes with moving day anxiety looming is getting the best of ALL of us. They are being allowed to watch the portable DVD player in their bed/ nest at will these last few days because, amazingly, it unwinds them enough to takes naps (which they never normally do). I’m eating lots of chocolate & sweets to decompress : /

I sat down to pay the bills this week and realized, we have no income to pay those bills with yet… Nathan’s last pay check comes this week and is basically spent already on the bills from the last two weeks. Grayson had his last insured doctors appointment this week too. My kids will soon be uninsured!  We didn’t sell our house, so we are still having to pay the mortgage and the utilities on the house until it sells. Things are getting real in terms of lack of security but I know the anxiety and minor panic will subside and that things will work themselves out soon. Just a few more days till all the fantastic parts begin.

The girls have next to nothing left out for playing with and they’ve already gotten bored of climbing and jumping off the stacks of boxes. Now they want constant attention and to be entertained which isn’t so easy when you are bouncing a teething baby on your hip (a 6 mo 19lb baby!) while packing up the house plus policing backyard turkeys and chickens. We are just doing chores, packing and kind of taking in the day-to-day happenings with the animals & with nature till moving day is here. Everly noticed something kind of cool while doing her plant watering chore today:

So, the girls had a good time observing all the little the praying mantis. They also really enjoy picking strawberries from the garden in the morning and again at night. They average about a pound a day. 

Our injured turkey is healing up nicely, we just discovered signs of a few more “first time” eggs from our new hens and our compost pile clutch of chicken eggs are still warm and possibly growing babies.

Can you believe I found a whopping 15 eggs in the compost bin yesterday? After candling them I came up with 5 that might be developing (they had resemblance of a shadow inside that moved when the egg was spun). In another few days we might be able to candle and check for forming blood vessels. The girls are kind of excited about the prospects of chicks hatching from our compost bin, though, I have no idea how we’ll move a clutch of eggs and a broody hen that are inside the compost bin without disruption. Ideas?

The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

Tales from the backyard flock: Are they cooked or do they have chicks in them?

For the last week, maybe two, we have had significantly fewer eggs each day from our six laying hens. Initially I thought that the hens that were not laying had nutritional imbalances since they’ve been eating chicks starter food (against our wishes). We’ve recently integrated our baby chicks to our adult flock, our Rhode Island Reds much prefer eating chick starter it seems. Chick starter has a high protein content and adult birds shouldn’t be eating it but I’m not standing out there and shooing the hens away from the chick feed, three times a day, right now… so those stinking hens are gorging themselves. 

Also, my new chicks are integrating to the main flock right now and we are preparing to move in just a few days so our chicken coop situation is in transition. I also figured the stress of the transition was possibly impacting the egg output from the hens.

Today there was quite a squawk fest out of the chicken coop and my girls anxiously ran out to collect the eggs. However, there were no eggs to be found. So we went about our garden and backyard chores. I opened the compost bin to get some fresh compost for one of the plants and I left it open for the chickens to scratch around in since were getting ready to move and we have no intention of taking cooking compost with us. I had the compost bin open earlier in the week for the same reason but husbands who work outside the homestead (he has just 3 work days left!) miss lots of strategic decision making and close the compost bin back up thinking they are being helpful.

Anyway, after a while we went back inside had some cold water ate breakfast and we heard the chickens squawking again. We went out to try to collect eggs and once again there were none to be found.

They always say if you’re missing eggs, go on an egg hunt.

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