What Is In A Dairy Room?

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My first dairy “room” was very simple.  I brought the goat up on my front porch, tied her in a corner with a dish of grain, sat on a footstool and milked into a stainless steel bowl.  In the kitchen, I filtered it through a clean washrag and put it into whatever clean jars I could find.

I would never suggest that this is an efficient way to milk, but I am sure that it was a lot more comfortable than our ancestors had to work with.  And I was grateful at the time.  But I expanded my requirements when I had more than one goat to milk.

The last couple of weeks I have been getting my old dairy room ready to receive the girls again.  It had been relegated to storage for the last few years so all that had to be cleaned out.  I am going to have to get better at before and after pictures, but imagine buckets, tools, tarps, a replacement toilet, junk, and other stuff piled about chest high.  I had to step over tools and rusty screws and nails to get into the room.

This room is 8 foot by 10 foot.  And in its heyday we moved 11 goats through it twice a day and milking each by hand. I am going to be milking 5 so I know that I need this room ready soon.

After cleaning out the junk, my daughter and I scrubbed everything.  We took out the appliances and cleaned under and behind them and then we painted.  The walls and ceiling are semi-gloss white.  This is to reflect light and make the room brighter.  And gloss or semi-gloss is easier to clean than flat paint.  I have one window, but it faces north and with battery powered lights, every little bit of reflection helps.

Next the floor was painted with rubberized deck paint.  We chose an emerald green.  I will be using this at least 12 inches up the wall.  The reason for this is that when the room is scrubbed down or there is a spill…..which is more frequently than I like to admit, the floor will not soak up the water or milk.  It will not be slippery when wet.  And it is designed for heavy use.  This is new to me.  I have never had the opportunity to do that before.  In the past the plywood floor got saturated and slippery for days after a wash-down.  And when the goats jumped up on the stand with wet feet they sometimes slid making them a little less eager to jump the next time.

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My milking stand is painted with the deck paint too.  This is made a little lower than a standard chair.  Goats easily jump up on it and for me sitting with the legs down is a lot easier than squatting.  My stand has the availability to hold 3 goats at a time.  It has been my experience that I can milk faster than my goats can eat so rather than stand and wait, I let the next goat in and milk her.  Then if there are two of us milking, as when my kids were here, they rotated through easily enough.  One of my favorite tricks here is the use of a piece of plywood covered with a carpet sample.  Goat feet on the milking stand can be dirty and this saves the seat of my pants from picking that up.

Now to supply the room for efficiency.

I have an old fashioned porcelain kitchen sink along one wall.  It has the draining sides and the center sink.  I love it.  Cleans easily and spills go right down the drain.  Under the sink are my 5 gallon propane hot water heater and an RV sized refrigerator.  I don’t have to haul my stuff back and forth from the house to clean and that is a blessing.  And I don’t have to fill my house refrigerator with milk.

Beside the sink is a 35 gallon barrel on its side with a hole in the “top.”  I like this setup.  Goats can digest whole grains so I mix my own corn, oats, and barley….and the circular “bottom” makes stirring easy.  I made a wooden lid with handles that cover the hole so I do not get mice in the feed.  My scoop is an old heavy plastic orange juice bottle cut to the size that suits me.  I mark the sides with a permanent marker for half a scoop so I can easily see the measurements and adjust the feed according to the goat’s production.

Next is the milking pail.  As I look for pails online or in catalogs, most of them are built for cows and those do not fit under a goat.  I have found the best selection and chance for not buying something you cannot use is to go to goat supply sources.   My favorite milk pail came with a crescent shaped lid.  I never found the lid to be beneficial because I cleaned the bottom of the goat before milking and almost never got stuff in the milk.  And missing a smaller hole makes a mess.

My favorite strainer is a big stainless one built for at least a gallon going through it at a time.  I have had some excellent producers and I found that to be efficient enough to warrant the expense.  And there are milk filters that are made to fit so I don’t have to mess around with that either.  When I had fewer goats, the smaller aluminum filter seemed to make sense, but it is more labor even then. Pour a little, wait a little, pour a little, and repeat.  You get the idea. And I have developed a thing against aluminum.

I have a scale in my dairy room for weighing the milk that each doe produces.  There are a couple of reasons for that.  I can readily see who my best milkers are, I can see if they are rapidly decreasing due to an illness, and I can prove to a potential buyer what this goat produces.  But for starters, this is not a necessity.  I went years without one.  If you do want to keep records, take note of my clipboard.  I have two pieces of heavy gauge plastic over the pages.  The big one covers the whole page in case of a spill or splatter.  The smaller one goes under the line that I am filling out because it is frequent that milk gets on my hands and it is not easy to write on wet paper.

I put most of my milk into half gallon jars.  This is easier than messing with the smaller jars, especially with a family.  If I am going to make cheese I pour the milk directly into a 5 gallon stainless pan with a special hole in the lid of that just fits the strainer.  That easily goes right into the house to the stove-top for processing.

I put the milk in the little refrigerator.  Then wash everything up, set it in the dish strainer, and cover with a dishcloth.  At that point everything is ready for the next milking.  Take a cold jar of milk into the house and enjoy.

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That is the foundation of my dairy room.  I know that this is not what a person would have to have in order to sell milk to the public.  That is way out of my knowledge base, although I did the research thinking that I may do that.  There are a lot of hoops to jump through and it would have cost me more money than I would have made back in 20 years so I dropped that line of inquiry.  To get the legal details, you would have to go through your county and state health department regulations.  So this post is just about a basic home dairy room for supplying food for your family.

As you can tell in the pictures, I am using quart jars and I’m filtering the milk in the kitchen.  Right now the appliances have not been replaced yet.  I have a water leak to fix then all that goes back together.  But I am milking now!  Hooray!!  Of course there are lots of other little things that I have in this room to make life easier, but that is a subject for another day.

For those of you who have milked goats, is there something essential that I missed?  Or do you have any questions?  I would love to hear from you.

PS….Dozer has made himself at home.  See him outside the window?

I Lost Him

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I wrote a while back about a calf that I brought back to life by using cayenne.  Here is the final chapter of that story.  And I have a request for anyone who has seen this kind of thing happen to please share your experience.

The original incident happened on the second of February and in a couple of days from the first notice, he was up, eating, and doing well.  A couple of days after that I turned him back out into the pasture.  That was before I wrote the first blog…..I was sure that he was fine.  A little over a week later I noticed that he was not looking good. I brought him back into the barn.

A few days later, I got present to the fact that the water that was provided for him was not going down and that his poop was really dry.  He was dehydrating himself.  He was eating well, hay and grain, but would not drink.

I bought some buttermilk and added it to a gallon of warm water, but I had to force it down him with a turkey baster.  He wanted it and sucked it up readily but even with the old trick of putting my fingers in his mouth to cause him to suck, he would not drink.  He tried to tear off my fingers like tearing hay.  He sucked a little but would not continue.  I tried putting a calf nipple into the water.  No luck with that either.  I gave him Kombucha.  He ate the SCOBY but he would not drink.  I doused him several times a day with cayenne.  I put molasses in the water.  Nothing helped.

I watched him eat with enthusiasm, but he just would not drink.   I forced water several times a day but he was not getting better.

As he got weaker and could not get up, I became concerned about the circulation in his legs.  So my daughter, one son, and I made a sling with an old blanket and tied it off between two sawhorses.  When I let him down that night I knew that I would have to figure something so I could lift him alone.

The next morning I found my fence stretcher and braced the rafter of my old barn and strung him up.  He barely moved his feet.  He ate well and I forced more water and buttermilk down him.  To see him eat, it would appear that he was healthy, but something was not right.

The next morning, I had to put him down.  He was too weak to even lift his head.  From the time he came back into the barn to the time he was dead was less than a week.  And I do not know why.

When I butchered him out I noticed that the gall bladder was stretched to the size of a softball.  I do not know what that means but I don’t think it is right.  I will be feeding the meat to my dogs so all is not lost.

So if any of you have experience with something like this, please comment so that I can learn something and I will not have to watch that happen again.

You’re Industrious But Not Too Bright

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Yup……..that is what she said as she looked at the blisters on my hands.  I was living in a little apartment and had gotten permission to landscape my little part of the world.   I had weeded and planted in the space on each side of my porch and now I was edging the sidewalk.  Not having tools, I did what would become my way of life…..I used what was available.  And for the edging, I was on my hands and knees and using an old steak knife.  The blisters on my hands were broken open and I was just finishing the job.

At the time, the pronouncement was disturbing.  But as I have raised my kids and built a farm it has become a necessary way of life.

To milk my first goat I brought her on the front porch, milked into a bowl and strained through a washrag.

To raise my first calves I ran a huge cable between trees and stumps then tethered them like a dog and moved it around so he had fresh grass to eat.

To cut down the blackberries I crawled under them, cut the bases with a pair of wire cutters, crawled back out and hauled them into a pile.

To dig up stumps, I chopped the roots, dug some more, chopped some more.  With the fence stretcher I put the ropes at an angle then pulled until it was as tight as I could pull.  Then I jumped on the rope and repeated the dig, chop, and jump routine until it was out.

To till my garden I used a shovel and dug and dug some more.

I loaded an old pickup with gravel from the side of the road and hauled it home while the front of the truck was barely touching the ground.

I have taken the information from books and rebuilt car engines, set cement blocks for a greenhouse built with huge sliding glass doors, made soap and cheeses, and learned natural health practices.

I have gardened for people for years and when they did not want a plant or two, I incorporated them into my landscape……full sized fruit trees and all.

I have used wire coat hangers for a latch for a closet door, a ring to go around a stainless bowl to make a double boiler, hooks to thread wires through walls, latches for gates, hooks for holding my cast iron cookware and my big roasting pan and many others things that I cannot remember.

I use baling twine for more things than I can count.

To remodel my house and insert windows and sliding glass doors I used a chainsaw to cut the holes in the walls.

I have taken solid welded fencing and cut it to make a cage around my flatbed truck.  Then I lined it with tarps, packed it with wood shavings, strapped it down, and hauled it home.

I have used a 1 1/2 gallon stainless pan with a trivet in it to replicate an oven.  I covered it with a dishtowel and it worked great.

I have made chicken nest boxes out of old crates or cement blocks then added golf balls to encourage the chickens to lay in them.

Now my fence stretcher is being used to raise my calf off the ground to give circulation to his legs, while the rafter is being additionally supported with a step ladder.

But I am also the other part of that sentence…..not too bright.

I refuse to wear gloves so my hands get gouged with blackberry barbs and I have callouses encrusted with dirt. And broken fingernails.

I let 4 full sized dogs into my 28 foot travel trailer at the same time, then complain that I have no place to walk…….and that my floor is impossibly dirty.

I have spent years fixing my water pipes when they freeze and break instead of taking the time to bury them.

I dig ditches in the pouring rain even though I know where the ditches need to go.

I walk through wet tree branches instead of cutting them off.  They are over my head when it is dry.

I haul water in buckets while the hoses sit in a corner.

But the best part of this whole thing is that my daughter thinks I am fr&%(*n brilliant!  And to me, nothing can beat that. So today I am proud of being “industrious” and well aware that some of what I do is “not too bright” and I am okay with that.  “Fr&%(*n brilliant” is worth it all!

What kinds of things have you done that used tools in a unique way?

What is Kombucha?

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My friend was talking about a drink that was helping him detox and how much better he was feeling.  He showed me this stuff that looked like Apple Cider Vinegar with the mother in it. It looked slimy and unappetizing.  Then I saw the SCOBY and I almost grossed out.  I was just beginning to learn about the natural health road that I was going to be following so I tried it.

That was over 20 years ago and I have loved the stuff ever since!

Its flavor is like ACV if you allow it to ferment longer than two weeks.  Before that it is kind of like apple juice with a zing.  And the results are wonderful.  I will explain but if I miss anything please let me know.

SCOBY is an acronym for Symbiotic Colony of Bacteria and Yeast.  Kombucha and Kefir both have SCOBYs and both are extremely good for your body. But I am talking about Kombucha today.

Kombucha was discovered in Russia.  The people in a couple of the districts drank the same amount of vodka and the foods as other villages but there were no cancer or liver failures.  There was neither as much social drunkenness nor poor work records. The KGB researched this.  One of the agents was offered a drink of Kombucha and in another home one was offered Kvass (made from fermenting beets).  Most every home in these districts had one or the other always brewing and available.

There is a large amount of glucuronic acid Kombucha.  This acid is what a healthy human liver produces in abundance.  This acid binds up poisons and toxins, cleaning the blood and boosting the immune system.  I think that drinking this on a regular basis is what has been part of why I am so healthy and vital.

A while back one of my favorite milking does became sick.  She quit eating, lost her hair in big patches and was so weak that if one of the other does bumped her she would lose her balance.  This is one time I took an animal to the vet and had tests done on her.  When the blood work came back I was informed that she had massive liver failure.  The bilirubin in her blood was extremely high.  Normal is in the mid-teens.  Hers was 187.  I was told there was nothing to do except to put her down.

Well, I am not one to take defeat easily.  So I offered this goat some Kombucha.  She liked it so much that she buried her nose in the brew up to her eyes and drank and drank and drank.  I offered her the SCOBY and she ate it.  I also offered her milk.  This goat is the only one that ever drank milk and she drank it like she drank the Kombucha……with her nose buried to her eyes.  Every milking time, I gave her Kombucha and milk.  Soon she was eating again.  This goat that was not supposed to live for more than a few weeks became healthy and vibrant for another 2 years.

Kombucha is becoming a fad now.  You can get it everywhere.  Even big chain stores carry it.  But nothing compares to making it myself.  I spend a lot less money on supplies and can make whatever variation that pleases me this week.  Well……..next week.  It takes 2 weeks to brew properly.  I have started putting chi seeds into some of my bottles.  I have tried adding juice concentrates for different flavors.  But I still prefer the basic Kombucha.

My kids come home and ask for it.  If it is not bottled, they pour it right from the gallon container……and as I watch, they might empty it.  I feed my extra SCOBYs to my chickens, pigs, and goats.  I have yet to have an animal turn one down.

(Hummmmm……..I need to get one to the calf.  He is still not on top of his game.)

The basic recipe is this.

1 gallon water, boiling

Dash of salt

1 1/4 cups sugar

5 tea bags (black or green)

Cool to lukewarm.  Pour into a gallon jar and put a SCOBY on top.  Cover with a cloth and keep in a warm place for 2 weeks.  Another SCOBY will have been made.  I have just taken the SCOBY out and put the whole container in the fridge, but now I am straining it into bottles for easier storage and drinking.

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Always store your SCOBY in glass and/or make more.  It is normally a light tan color so when it becomes dark brown I stop reusing it and feed it to my animals.

Take the time to read up on what Kombucha can do for you.  It is well worth the time.  And then make some.  If you would like a start, sign up for my mailing list and as soon as I can, I will privately message you for your address and send you one.  First come, first served.

For those who have made Kombucha, what results have you seen in drinking this brew?

I Was Sure He Was Dead

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When I saw him that morning, I was sure that he was dead.  He was stretched out on his side, hind legs stiffly off the ground.  Head on the ground in an unnatural position. Damn.  The calf was eating well and seemed fine yesterday.

I rushed to him.  His eyes were rolled back in his head but I found him still warm so I lifted his head and forced him to a normal upright position, tucking his legs in under him.  He was only “mostly dead.”  I rushed to the house with a bucket of water to be heated and added some salt and Sam and I went down to see what could be done.

I knew I needed to get him into a separate place where he didn’t have to deal with the pigs and where I could work with him.  He was too heavy for me and a sick boyfriend to pick up so we put my coat under him and drug him to the holding area.  His head fell back on the ground, his eyes rolled up in his head, and there was no resistance.  I hauled him around until he was laid up against a wall.  I put food in front of him and tried to get some warm water down him.  I covered him with a horse blanket. But it looked like he was not going to make it.

Now I have read books by people who have reversed diseases with herbs and everywhere that I have applied these remedies I have been very impressed.  So I started thinking…….cayenne.

Cayenne cauterizes cuts.  It stimulated blood flow increasing body heat and immune response. With an eye tincture with cayenne in it, I reversed Pink Eye in myself in 45 minutes.  I have kept away many infections, stopped bad bleeding, and have heard of it being used to stop a stroke or heart attack and many other things.  So not knowing what was wrong, I knew that I had to stimulate his body to deal with whatever it was.

I started with about 15 drops of cayenne tincture in a dab of water and poured it down his throat.  He started slobbering and licking.  I offered him some hay and he took it.  Maybe to stop the burning, but he took a nibble but that was all.  A little while later I was armed with a turkey baster.  I put a dropper full of tincture into the baster and added water and pried open his mouth and poured it in.

Next time I was there I noticed was that he had passed some really hard poop.  That is not normal for a cow.  Normal is slightly runny.  I put some alfalfa in front of him and the next time I was there it was gone and he was more alert.  I repeated the process with the cayenne at least 4 times spaced at least an hour apart.  And every time that I was at the barn I offered him water.  I left the water where he could reach it but it did not look like he drank any.

I had to leave to call a square dance so with some concern I left him and went to do my job.  When I got out of the dance there was snow everywhere and it took me almost 2 hours to drive home and I barely made it up the hill to my place.  But I was focused on getting to the calf and seeing how he was.  I had been gone for 6 hours.

He heard me coming and mooed. Yes, he is still alive.

WAIT…..…….…YES!  HE WAS ALIVE!!!  AND alert enough to hear me coming AND he was asking for food!

He was lying where I had left him so I knew that he still had not stood up so I poured a little more cayenne down him, offered him some water, put more hay in front of him and went to bed.

The next morning he heard me coming and mooed again.  YES!!!  When I got there, he was struggling to stand so I helped him get up and steadied him for a few minutes.  He had not been on his feet for over 24 hours, his legs had to be stiff…..and he had been brought back from the dead.

He went over to the bucket and drank 3 gallons of water and started eating the hay I just brought to him.  He was going to make it.

I don’t know what was wrong with him.  Only God does.  But with the stimulation that the cayenne supplied, the calf’s own body was able to combat whatever it was and recover.  I am amazed at how simply working with herbs and allowing the body to do its own healing works.  I don’t have all the answers.  No one does.  But I love knowing that by using what God has supplied, I can save a life.

The Peace After Chores

 

 

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The noisiest ones are the pigs.  They wait for me at the fence and as soon as they see me they start grunting and squealing.  Noisy little buggers.  They follow me all the way to the barn and stand at the gate demanding their breakfasts.  The ducks have waited by the house and fly past my head.  The goats hear me coming and start calling, the rooster is crowing, hens squawking, and the calf is mooing.  At the upper barn the horse hears me and starts calling and once in a while the sheep.  The only ones that are quiet are the dogs.  They are too busy playing.

I let the chickens out so they can get out of their sleeping quarters, grab a little of their grain and feed the ducks.  From there of course, the noisiest ones get fed first.  That lowers the noise level by a whole bunch.  I have to separate the big pig from the little ones so they can all get the food they need.  Then the goats get their grain.  (Later when I start milking them this routine will have to change.)  I feed and water the rabbits, throw hay at the calf and goats, then let the little pigs back out for their treats.

My daughter gets old bread by the garbage bag and so I hand feed everything some bread.  Well……not the chickens, I just throw it out for them, but they know the routine and are waiting.  One little pig takes a mouth full of bread and runs clear across the creek to eat it.  That way she does not have to fight to keep it.  The others just fight, steal, and squeal.  The dogs get a couple of bites.  Even the calf and the goats will eat some bread.

But there is still noise going on.  The horse calls.  Heading up the hill is the time I see and hear my cat.  She is waiting for her breakfast and says good morning.  But it is not her turn yet and she knows it.

The horse nickers constantly until I throw out her hay.  Then I feed the sheep which are the most patient animals on the whole farm.    When I start grinding the horse’s grain, she paces with a mouthful of hay going back and forth waiting impatiently.  When she sees me coming with the grain she gets noisy again……until her mouth is full.

Right now, everything is frozen so I have to make several trips to the pond to gather water for everything.  A couple of trips to fill the horse trough, then a trip to the lower barn with buckets to fill everything there.  But now the dogs know it is their turn and they are following close on my heels. And the cat is a little more vocal.

Dozer, the Great Pyrenees, is funny.  I have to stay where he can see me while he eats or he leaves the food to follow me and my GerLabSky gets it.  The cat is eating and happy.  I scratch her as I wait for Dozer to finish.

Then everything is quiet.  Peace descends.

Peace is more than quiet.  It is a sense of knowing all is well.  It is knowing that all the animals in my care are healthy, happy, and fed.  Now I can sit and relax with a cup of coffee and as Proverb admonishes me, I know the condition of my flocks and herd.

Quiet is very valuable too, don’t get me wrong.  I love the quiet on my farm.  Standing there after all the chores are done, the only noises that I hear are the ones made by the birds.  Spring is coming!  Peace reigns.

When are you most at peace?

”This post was shared on The Homesteaders Blog Hop”

A good farm dog is worth waiting for

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He is big, beautiful, and just the kind of dog I was looking for.  An adult livestock guarding dog that was bred for the job, experienced, but needed a new home.

I met Nicki a couple of months ago when my daughter arranged to buy her rabbits and chickens because she was planning to move to Alaska.  She is a farmer and loves her animals and I appreciate that in someone that I buy from.  People who love their animals tend to have animals with a gentler personality.  I invited her to read my blog and we parted company.  I got a phone call from her a couple of days ago.  She had to find a working home for her Great Pyrenees and she wanted me to have him.  In one of my blog posts, I had mentioned that I needed a LGD and she knew that he would have a good home and a job with me.

A good farm dog is hard to find.  Not any dog will do.  My GerLabSky (German shepherd, Lab, Husky)  is too lazy, housebound, and bonded to me.  We tried a collie/heeler cross.  He was young and crazy.  He was raised a pet, really wanted to be with people and did not appear to be interested in a guarding job.  So he became my daughter’s pet.

Researching livestock guarding dogs is a job in itself.  We have to know the personality traits, physical abilities, and personal needs of the breed we choose.  For instance, the Pyrenees is nocturnal and will probably bark a lot if not trained not to do so.  But if we have a guard dog, don’t we want him to sound the alarm?  And another thing about the Pyrenees is that they tend to think for themselves so training is more work than with most pet breeds.  Most LGDs are huge and need lots of food and space to work.  Some are more aggressive than others.  So I would suggest that you do the research to find breed character traits that you want to work with.  I knew that Pyrenees were high on my list of ones that I was interested in.

Nicki did not know any of this.  So when she offered her Pyrenees, I was more than ecstatic. He was just what I was looking for.  She had raised him since he was a puppy from a litter that her sister had.  He lived outside year round on her farm watching and protecting those in his care.  She no longer had a job for him and was moving.  To be the best owner possible, she turned him over to someone who could provide the job that he was bred to do.  I can imagine the pain she went through in having to come to that decision.  And I will forever be thankful for her personal sacrifice.

It was love at first sight.  Most Pyrenees are pure white, but Dozer has black ears and black on his rump.  What a beautiful boy.  One of the things that I had to know was how he was going to be with my dog.  There was no aggression between them at all.  Perfect.  Then we took him around and introduced him to the farm animals.  He had never seen pigs before and those confused him a bit, but everything else was a natural.

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To bond with him, I brought him into the house that night for a couple of hours to love, talk to and brush him.  I could tell that he was confused and missing his home, but with enough time he will transition nicely.

The next day, my daughter left her dog with me while I was watching her daughter and the three dogs ran and played for hours. Well, two of them did.  My “GerLabSky” did not play with the wild abandon that the other two did.   In the chaos of their playing, the two of them came running into the barn.  My ducks were right in the doorway.  Both dogs jumped right over them and the ducks ducked and moved but did not panic.  I knew there would be no problem with living together.

It has been several days and Dozer is doing well.  He has accepted the change and the job. I have yet to let him loose at night, but that is coming soon.  He goes into all the pens with me while I do my chores and is getting to know the other animals in our care.  He went into the hen house with me this morning and some of Nicki’s chickens were there and did not even think twice about his being there.  Things are going really well.

Now my animal collection is complete.  I have what I have been looking for…..well, not totally.  I bought Guinea Fowl and lost all of them.  Maybe I will try to add those back.

If you are interested in finding a Pyrenees, Nicki’s sister raises them and she has another litter due in March.  To contact her call Rokki at 541-408-1052 or email her rokki_blayton@yahoo.com

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What are you looking for to round out the farm that you are building?

Plus Five, Minus Three

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There was a surprise waiting for me when I went into the barn the other morning.  One of my ewes had her lambs.  I ran for the house and grabbed my phone so I could take pictures of the first sheep born on my property.  I sent the picture to my daughter so she could rejoice with me.

Being a mother has never dulled the wonder of birth.  I have yet to tire from marveling about how the Creator causes life, from nothing to something in a few short months.  And baby farm animals are the promise of a future for the herd and increase for the farm.  I have yet to know a mother who does not like cuddling babies, either human or animal.  And true to my instincts, I cuddled.  The ewe was not happy with that, but that did not matter to me.  I fell in love.

A couple of days later, I was at work and I heard a knock at the door.  There he was, holding a box full of blankets wrapped around an almost dead lamb.  He had gone to see them and found this one laid out on the floor.  Not being sure what to do, he tried to call me, did call my daughter and his grandmother.  When they could not help him, he found the jobsite that I was working that day and brought the lamb to me.

I tried.  I checked everything and tried what I could, but I could not help him and he died.  Brokenhearted I went back to work and he graciously took care of the lamb.

A few days later while my daughter and I were working on the barn, I noticed the usual behavior of a mother about ready to birth.  My daughter ran to the car, got her camera and we filmed almost the entire scene of the second ewe having her babies.  My granddaughter was there and witnessed the miracle too.  Here we were my daughter and I….. both of us being mothers, watching the labor and having the sympathetic urge to push…..

The ewe had three; 2 males and a female.  The female was smaller and I was concerned for her chances of survival but she got up and all of them were eating and walking around.  I checked numerous times, the latest at 11PM before going to sleep and they were fine.

When I went to the barn the next morning, I heard the crying of one of the lambs.  Having been around goats for so many years, I know the difference between a call and a cry…..this was crying.  So I ran to check what was going on.

The female was dead.  Obviously dead.  The beautifully colored male was lying normally but crying.  One look and I knew something was horribly wrong.  His lower jaw hung loose and there was blood pooled in his mouth.  During the early morning one of the ewes had stepped on his face and broken his jaw.  There is very little hope for a baby with a broken jaw.  They cannot nurse now and if it could be set, the jaw may not align for correct chewing later causing starvation or malnutrition.  I held the crying baby until I found that there was nothing I could do to logically save him, so I had to put him out of his misery.  And my heart cried.

Nothing beats the magic of birth.  And nothing tears the heart out of a mother as the death of a baby.  I have had it happen many times but it never gets easy.  So I rejoice with births, grieve with the deaths and love the living.  That is life on the farm.

Well…….that is life everywhere, but it is ever more noticeable on a farm.

So I had 5 lambs born in the last week and 3 are dead. So I choose to live in peace and enjoy the ones that remain.

Where can you rejoice in your life……….in spite of the losses?

 

Yes! It Is Here!

Seeds

 

My first seed catalog of the year.  I love this part of farming; the planning and dreaming of the harvest that will be coming soon. Especially now that I can garden again after a few years without that pleasure.  This catalog is full of pretty pictures and descriptions of the vast number of varieties.  I excitedly showed pictures of different veggies to a friend and did not notice the glazed look that came from someone not into the process…..yet.

The catalog is stock full of different varieties of veggies that are not seen in the stores.  Did you know there were carrots that have a purple skin?  I gotta try those.   How about carrots which are totally purple?  And purple potatoes…….they are pretty, but they don’t stay purple when you cook them.

So you like radishes.  How about trying the Easter egg radishes, or white ones, or purple ones?  I only like the red and white ones.

I have eaten only a couple of types of squash.  How about trying these heritage varieties?

Do you have a guess as to how many different varieties of potatoes are out there????  I only know of a few.  Yet we get fed the ones in the store that are tasteless and bred for storage.  How boring is that?

Wow….those tomatoes are gnarled and ugly.  Yes, but they taste better than anything you can get at the store.

I don’t like melons or cucumbers.  That is understandable.  There is no flavor in the unripe, rock-hard ones found in the stores.

And the conversation goes on.  His eyes glaze over, but I am excited about the possibilities that come with spring and a good gardening catalog.

There is nothing better than sampling the bountiful supply of fruits and vegetables that we can grow in our own back yard.   God did not supply us with only one type of radish or squash.  His is a bountiful supply…..full of variety and flavor.

In my first catalog I count 14 varieties of carrots, 11 of broccoli. 25 of cucumbers, 24 of garlic, and 10 of potatoes.  And that is just the beginning.  My excitement grows as I read up on the properties of each and try to select the ones that I want to experiment with this year.  Add the new choices to the favorites that I have grown before and this summer promises to be bountiful and varied!

I love going into the garden and pulling a carrot from the earth, wiping it on my jeans, and crunching away.  Carrots fresh from the garden are dripping in juice and sweet.   I personally do not like red radishes, but the purple ones……yummy!  I learned to love cucumbers by growing a heritage variety.  They had flavor and texture.  And those ugly tomatoes……..they taste better than any other tomato I ever encountered.

In this catalog there are both hybrid and heritage varieties.  Hybrid is an offspring of two plants of different varieties or species.  These seeds grow great food, but we cannot save seeds from them and expect another crop like the one it came from.  Heritage seeds are ones that have been protected and saved from year to year by farmers and gardeners for generations.  These plants give us the seeds that we can save and use for next year’s planting.  For the first time I am going to go exclusively with heritage seeds.

Another thing to look at is your growing zone.  Where we live will only grow certain things unless we make special concessions.  Like in the Pacific Northwest where I live, I have to start short season tomatoes in a greenhouse, plant them into a cloche, hope for a warm summer, then bring the whole plant into the barn to hang in the fall to finish the harvest.  Another trick for tomatoes is to put them up against a south facing wall which will hold heat.  In other parts of the country, tomatoes can be perennial so consider those things when selecting seeds.  If I purchased long season tomatoes, I would have no harvest at all.

As we get into the planning stage for our gardens, I will tell you how I prepare my garden for planting.  And it is not like you think.  I have not rototilled for many years and I have lush vegetables, very few insect casualties, and no watering.  Stay tuned for that post coming next week.  Until then, order a catalog or two.  Browse the internet for heritage seeds and enjoy dreaming.

The seed catalogs that I use.

Territorial Seed Company  This company has both hybrid and heritage seeds.  And a large selection of herbs and flowers.  A beautiful catalog.

Victory Heirloom Seeds  I am just getting acquainted with this company.  I am liking their purpose….The primary reason for our existence as an organization is to help protect open pollinated and heirloom seed varieties during a time when the diversity of plant life on our planet is quickly shrinking.  And I like their quick response time.

I have come across a growing list of non-GMO, organic, heirloom seed companies.  Thanks to Off Grid Info for putting this together.  Food Independence

Accidents Happen

Pacman

 

You think you have things buttoned up, but then the pig with the nose of a bulldozer decides he wants to go where you don’t want him.  This is what happened at my farm on Sunday.

Late that evening our boar breaks down the gate and gets into the feed.  Thankfully he could not dump it, so he didn’t get to eat it all.  I got him out of the barn, fixed the gate in the dark and made sure the secondary door into the feed area was latched and so was the door into the goat house.  That should keep that “thing” out of trouble if he got through the gate again.

How wrong I was.

Before feeding time the next morning I heard slamming sounds against the barn walls.  I have listened to the normal sounds of my farm for so long that I immediately knew something was not right.  There in the goat house was that stinking pig…..trying vainly to breed my buck goat who was slamming him up against the walls.  Again this boar had broken down the gate.  Then when he could not get to the food again he broke down the gate to the goat house.

My goats do not like him at all.  He is dedicated to the opinion that he should breed everything on the farm, in season or not.  Only the horse, which kicked him in the head, has immunity from his attentions.  There he was in a closed space trying to satisfy his lust.  And my goats were trying to get away from him.

I chased him out and away then checked on the goats.  One was lying down and did not want to get up.  Damn……  When I checked her I saw a gash across her back leg just below the hock.  I could see tendons through the hole.  Double damn…….  Not just a cut, it was clear through the skin.

As anyone who deals with animals knows, it is hard to doctor them alone.  And I was alone.  The neighbors were not home so I called a friend that was 20 minutes away…..and still asleep.  When he got there we took a good look at the leg.  It was not broken, thank God.  But the gash was not only across; it went from the hock all the way down the leg almost to the pastern.

Decision time.  Do I call a vet or doctor her myself?  I found the number for a mobile vet.  But as anyone who knows me would guess, I doctored her myself.

First I made sure that the wound itself was clean.  There was little blood, no visible torn tendons, and the edges were straight and clean.  So taking a lesson from surgeons, I super glued the edges closed.  Then to make sure that the wound would not get dirty, I took some sticky bandage material, folded it so it would not stick to the wound itself.  Then I wrapped it, letting the sticky part hold the bandage closed and then to the hair above and below the bandage.

That has held fine for the last couple of days.  Surprisingly, this time the doe has left the bandage alone.  They are not known for allowing that kind of thing to remain long.  But what would I do if it became infected?

I would start with warm water and Epsom salts.  A good soak would loosen the scabs and allow draining.  Then I would put my favorite herbal tincture into the wound.  I have used herbal recipes from Dr. Richard Schulze for years before he started selling them online.  For infections, I use a tincture with garlic, goldenseal, Echinacea, tea tree oil, and cayenne pepper.  There are other things that he puts into his “Infection Formula” but sometimes I cannot get all the ingredients so the ones mentioned are always there.  Or if I am not totally up on making it, I buy Dr. Schulze’s formula.

I have yet to have an infection get out of hand.  So I am confident that the doe will be fine.  She is limping and I do not blame her in the least. But she is up and scrambling for her food with the rest of them.  I have yet to find where she cut herself.  I can find no traces of hair on the fence or any nails sticking out of the wood, so I have no idea how she got cut so badly.  But when we have animals, we have to expect that “accidents happen” and sometimes we cannot figure out how.

What have you done to take care of an accident?  Please share.