Monday, February 27, 2012

Another Contest.....What have YOU learned?

In this particular contest you don't have to think too hard.  I have a lovely extra copy of "Prescription for Nutritional Healing" that I would like to give away!!  I can honestly say I don't know how I ended up with two copies of this book.  Perhaps it was just fate that one of you receive this book.  It is "A practical A-Z reference to drug-free remedies using vitamins, minerals, herbs and food supplements".  It is a BIG book and it has 600 pages.  Well, it seems to be actually only A-Y (acne to yeast infection) but it has tons of great information on hundreds of issues between them.   Certainly a nice book to have on hand!!  If you already have one you know how great it is, try to win this one and give it as a gift.

You MUST comment on the actual blog HERE to be entered.  Visit our website and check out our "Did you know?" page.  Once you have an idea of what I'm looking for, comment below and give me your own bit of learned wisdom. Share any random or funny bit of info you have learned in your lifetime. Things that your grandparents told you like "Don't pee into the wind" or "Let sleeping dogs lie" are great!!

 Each commentor will be assigned a number (in order of posting date/time) and I will be using a random number generator to select the winner.  Pretty easy, huh?  Just make sure I am able to contact you...or be sure to check the blog when the winner is announced and get ahold of me. 
Contest will run from now until March 12th, 2012.

I reserve the right to post any entries (with credit given to the poster) on my "Did you know?" page.
NOTE:  I will ONLY ship the book within the continental US. 

Saturday, February 25, 2012

I like farmers and country folk.....

Today I had a very nice visit from some newer neighbors.  Remember this is "the country" and those that live 15-20 miles away are still considered neighbors!  Well, we had butchered our York/Old Spot cross gilt a few days ago and were just finishing up the processing of it today.  Good old country folk and farmers don't even miss a beat when they see an entire hairy pig hide with the head still connected laying on the ground.  Like I said, I love country folk.   (By the way if you are reading this blog - I'm very happy to have met all of you.)

Well, except for the truly unusable parts, Miss Roto is snugly tucked away in either the freezer or a brine bucket.  We  had some wonderfully delicious pork loins for dinner.  The cost of our own homegrown pork really was a great deal.  I can't believe such clean healthy meat cost us so little.  We didn't include our labor, but did include all actual expenses including seasonings, brine ingredients and packaging supplies.  Our total cost came out to be $1.10 per pound on average.  It might be a little more than you could find some cuts on sale for.  But I've never found ribs, loins, bacon or sausage for anywhere NEAR $1.10 per pound.  She was my first experience butchering an animal.  I was afraid it may bother me some.  Surprisingly it didn't bother me a bit.  I even had the stomach if you will, to inspect all the vitals to make sure they looked healthy and clean.   They certainly got the all clear. 

We have made the decision that if Lily gives us any bucklings in April, we will be keeping one for our freezer.  We love the goat meat and are very happy to be filling our freezer with healthy and all natural meats.

We have also been feeding the offal to our livestock guardian dogs.  Oddly enough, the house dogs haven't been as thrilled as one would think a dog would be when offered raw meats.  The Pyrenees aren't arguing a bit.  I really like the idea of moving to a raw diet for our dogs and cats alike.  However we most likely will not have enough to support a fully raw diet.  I'm glad we are able to at least offer a good amount to the Pyrs that are working so hard outside in this yucky winter weather.  They have relished the kidneys, lungs, esophagus, scrap cuts and spine so far.  I am not going to feed them anything with hair attached at this time, this however is just a personal choice.  All the barn and house cats have received a tummy full of porky goodness.  Carol, one of the barn cats, is extremely fond of me supplementing her already "mostly raw" diet she provides herself.  Bob, the other barn cat, is still more of a kibble kitty.  I will be posting more as I continue researching and experimenting some with a raw (or at least a supplemental raw) diet for the dogs. 

I am very excited to announce an yet another addition to our farm who will arrive this fall.  Thank you to Sandy Pines Farm, in Holton, MI (and Country View Goats in New Era, MI ) Country View Titan will be our new FB ABGA buck.  He will be breeding the goats at Sandy Pines Farm first before moving to our farm.  He will be our main sire this fall. 

On an different note:  I officially start my new job tomorrow:  Tractor Supply Company.  Can you imagine?  I'll most likely never see a full paycheck once I spend it all in-store.  I am happy that it will only be part-time (about 3 days a week).  This will leave my schedule pretty open for farming duties such as birthing, haying and butchering.  Greg has also offered his more than capable assistance when my schedule doesn't allow me to be on hand for important farm related issues. 

Well thank you for letting me talk your ear off.

Until next time.......

Saturday, February 18, 2012

What a Great Pair of Knees can do for you....

Okay I'm not the first person to make that joke nor will I be the last.  However it seems an appropriate way to start out a blog entry focusing on our Great Pyrenees dogs and the roles they will someday fill here at Cornerstone Acres Farm.
We aquired Icee, a female Great Pyrenees, on January 14,  2012.  Icee was born on 11/25/2011 and is an all white Pyrenees from working parents.  She was born and raised with goats on a farm in Fremont, Michigan. 
Icee (9 weeks)

We then aquired Zip, a 3 year old intact male, from a friend who needed to "pyr proof" her yard before taking him back home.  We would have loved to have made him a permanent addition here as he is quite a sweetheart, but I suppose that is why his owner wants him back!  He originally came from a sheep farm where the owner had sold off his sheep due to health problems which left Zip without a job.

Zip (3 years)

After deciding we liked having a pair of Pyrenees to work our small pasture we began an almost half hearted search for a partner for Icee.  Well, as fate would have it, an email arrived one day and after a couple of phone calls we added Reign to our family.  He officially became our dog on February 17, 2012.   Reign is a 7 month old intact badger male who had to be given up by his family due to allergies.  Reign originally came from a breeder in Ohio.  Although he was not raised as a guardian dog he seems to be quite a natural, with very attentive instincts when around the goats.  We will continue to monitor him closely and only allow him with the goats while supervised. 

Reign (7 months)

So now that I have introduced you to our Livestock Guardian Dogs (LGD) let me explain what their roles here will be. 
     First and foremost they are to work as a team to protect our livestock.  We specifically chose the Great Pyrenees breed for their tendancy to use their shear size and presence as a deterrant and only resort to force when necessary.  Since we tend to have visitors to our farm that are either buying goats or just want to play with them, we needed a dog that was relatively people friendly.   We do have a coyote population in our area.  Although we have lost a few free range chickens to possible coyote attacks, I have not witnessed any pressure on the goats.  I have witnessed coyotes withing "spitting distance" of our barns and pastures so it could be only a matter of time before pressure increases.  It would only take one hard winter to make the goats look pretty tasty, especially when we schedule our kidding for January here.  Our team of Icee and Reign along with strong fencing and electric wires should eliminate any losses due to coyotes or stray dogs. 
     Secondly these two are fun loving companions for both humans and goats.  In holding with true LGD philosophies they should only be human socialized to a minimum degree.  This is to strengthen and encourage their bond with the goats  - they need to prefer the goats company over human company.  But, as I stated earlier, Reign was raised for the first 7 months of his life as a "pet" not an LGD.  He has a bond with humans already.  However due to the fact that we only have about 1 well fenced acre at this time to "guard" there just isn't the huge concern that the goats will wander away without their protectors.  Icee on the other hand DOES have the bond with the goats.  She is a very sweet dog and loves cuddles and petting, but almost always prefers to wander off with her goats.  She is quite happy walking the fence perimeter and marking "her" area.  These two are very good companions when I spend my time out in the pasture, both loving and attentive.  Happily though, they are calm and content with the company of each other and the goats when I leave.
I'm very happy with both dogs and look forward to watching them grow and learn.  They have a long way to go to reach maturity.  Great Pyrenees don't mentally or physically mature until around 18-24 months of age.  At some point after Icee reaches the ripe old age of two, I may breed her and Reign for a litter of pups. We will make that decision based on their temperment, conformation, guarding abilities and over all health as they mature.  Some time in the next few months we will be planning a segregation plan for them to keep them from early and unwanted breeding.  Due to the slower growth rate of the giant breeds, females often will not reach their first heat until a year of age or older.  If we decide not to breed them, we will definately have both of them fixed.
We will eventually allow our pair to roam with the horses, bucks and does by using jump holes.  We are also in the process of finding a way to feed them without the goats gettng to the dog food.  I will definately post pictures and instructions when we find a way that works for both of these issues. 
I learned a bit of interesting information about the breed while researching why the older Pyr, Zip, might not be eating or drinking as much as I thought he should.  It seems to be a constant issue with many Great Pyrenees dogs, especially those used as guardians.  They do not like to stick their heads into "deep" buckets (such as a horse grain or water bucket).  One school of thought is that it confines their "line of sight".  After moving his food and water to one of those low sided rubber pans he is drinking and eating at a much better rate.  Funny how quirky dogs can be...just like children.

Icee and Reign getting aquainted

Well it's time to do a bed check on all the goats and dogs.

Until next time.......