Monday, April 30, 2012

Wasted days and wasted nights........

....are all a matter of perspective!!
Take today for example.  I had plans to accomplish an entire weeks worth of work in one day.  Lofty goal, but pretty much a pipe dream.  First thing I decide instead to brush out the Pyrenees and play with baby goats.  I come inside and say to myself, "Wow did I waste my morning!"  Then I begin thinking.  Did I accomplish something?  Yes - I brushed the dogs, tamed some "wild" baby goats, got some exercise and lowered my blood pressure.   See I never even realized I had accomplished ALL that until after I was done!! 
Right now, I should be out digging into that long list of chores I have, but instead I'm starting this blog.  Seems to me I'm probably wasting more of my morning.  But no, I am really educating the masses, eating my lunch and justifying my procrastination.  See, all a matter of perspective.

Well, for now I AM going to head out and start on something from the dreaded "list".  I will just save this post for now and add more of my non-wasteful wisdom this evening.

Well it is no longer yesterday and is now today.  As usual I never got as much done as I was hoping.  But I did not waste the day.  I finally got the bucks gate fixed, trimmed up the feet on the last couple of does, practiced my ninja moves, slaughtered and cleaned my first chicken and weeded two more sections of my herb garden. 

You may be asking yourself  "ninja moves"?   Well here is the story.  I decided that while fixing the gate on the bucks pasture I would just let them roam with the horses.  Usually this is not an issue and although they didn't bother the horses they were quite curious as to what I was doing.  I pulled the entire gate and connected post right out of the ground and just set it aside while I set about reattaching the fence to the side of the horses lean-to.  Well I guess Challenger thought that the gate on the ground needed to be taught a lesson.  He picked the gate and the post up off the ground with his horns and began swinging!! He was so proud of himself for conquering that gate.  However this is a 6 foot tube gate attached to an 8x5 wooden post!! Needless to say - quite a dangerous weapon!! With stealth and ninja like moves (and not very lady-like words) I removed the gate from his head.  Poor Challenger and Charger had to spend the rest of the repair session locked in the horse stall. 

Guess what's on the menu tomorrow night?  CHICKEN!!  We raised some heritage breeds last year and took them to the Amish ladies to have the butchered and cleaned.  That worked out very well for us.  However this year I bought some Cornish Rocks.  I noticed one with an injured leg the day before yesterday.  Instead of letting him suffer until we could bring them all to the Amish again, I decided to slaughter him here.  We have a slaughtering cone attached to a fence post with a drip bucket underneath.  Greg "did the deed" and I plucked.  I tore the skin on the breast so we ended up skinning him.   All in all it worked out pretty smoothly and I think we will do a few more here.  If all goes well I will just finish them up and be done with them.

I have a few hours today before I have to head into work.  I'm going to try and at least check one or two things off my list despite the rain.

Until next time.....

Friday, April 27, 2012

Choices and wating.....

I feel that one of the hardest parts when breeding animals is making choices. 

 Here I have a wonderful easy to deal with buck. He is proven to throw good kids with LOTS of amazing color.  I didn't originally intend to breed for color as Challenger was an unproven buck and although he is a pretty boy we didn't know what he might throw.  Now we have three new bucks on the way (Yeah THREE).  We have purchased a nice FB traditional colored buckling, a gorgeous blue Myotonic buckling and now a full black commercial percentage Kiko buck (he is 81% Kiko and 19% Boer). 

I love the Kiko and really want to keep breeding some Kiko into our line. I think this new buckling (Demon) will throw nice kids and we will use him often on our first freshening does.  From there we will keep what we like of his doeling offspring.

We also have plenty of requests for registered doelings and Titan will allow us to offer more of these.  Both FB and percentages.....maybe even some with color once we breed some of Challengers doelings. 

Then we have Spyder coming into the mix (He's the Myontonic buckling).  We plan to also use him on some of our first freshening does (especially those offspring of Demon).   This will be more of an experiment than anything else.  We are going to try and improve the "meatiness" in our kids.  We will see how this goes.

So my choices are to keep Challenger for at least one more year and wait on the Kiko/Boer buckling (or keep Challenger and GET the buckling just wait to breed him the following year).  If I keep Challenger one more year that gives me one more crop of nice babies to choose from to add to my breeding line up.

Of course if I want to add more colored does I could just go BUY some colored does using the money earned from kids sired from other bucks.

Of course with all these bucks I certainly need more does, but unfortunately space will become limited!! I will be up to 11 does once our Pygora does arrive (ooooh that is a whole other bunch of choices I made there!!)  I had really set my limit at 8.  Perhaps it’s time to admit there might be an addiction going on here?  Nah, I got this under control.    I may do some rearranging of our pastures and see about adding some  Quonset type huts made from cattle panels to the goat pasture just to make room. If anybody has suggestions for making this type of housing winter proof for northern climates I would love to hear them.   That might even give me room for ½ dozen MORE does.  Oh, the choices that opens up!!

Currently I do have Challenger listed for sale.  Perhaps somebody else will make this choice for me?

I would have to say that the second hardest thing when breeding animals is the waiting.  First you must wait for a bred doe to give birth.  Then waiting for that kid to be old enough to fully evaluate and see how the pairing you chose turned out.  Once deciding that you finally have a great match then you have to wait to breed the next generation. Oh, and don’t forget waiting for doe to be ready to breed back again because her first kids were so gorgeous that you just busting at the seams with anticipation to see the NEXT batch.   Try finding a really nice buck or doe to bring into your herd then having to wait to get him or her home.    This never ending cycle can be quite a challenge for a person without one iota of the right kind of patience.

Well, folks these musings today were more for me than for you this time.  I was hoping that putting these thoughts “on paper” so to speak would help me put this all into perspective.   I’m not sure yet if it has.

Until next time….

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wilson's Words of Whimsy.....

Or Alina's Artful Alliteration :)









Saturday, April 14, 2012


Just wanted to do a bit of a post on our Comfrey.  This plant was a bit under utilized last year. I planted a 20 foot strip of new plants last spring along the east line of our property.  They did quite well and I'm hoping they survived the winter and will be even better this year.  Anybody who has had comfrey will know that the last sentence was almost a joke...can ANYTHING really kill comfrey?

Here is the pile we tried to dig out our first year here....we had no idea what it was!!

I dried some last year and fed it to the chickens in the fall mixed with their regular grain ration. I only tried a few handfulls just to see if they would like it.   Since they loved it I will plan on doing more to last throughout the winter this year. 

I have yet to try it on the goats as anything more than a handful tossed over the fence , maybe this year.

I found that the pigs gobble it down with extreme gusto.  I have done some research on the toxicity (or lack there of) of comfrey when ingested.  I am still undecided whether I am doing more harm than good but will continue to feed to my critters in moderation.  I have seen (on the net) people who say they are using comfrey for up to 80-90% of their pigs feed.  I do plan on starting much smaller than that with the pigs, for now I think I will stick with it at about 10% of the total feed.

I have no interest in partaking of comfrey internally myself (not from fear of poisoning, but because I don't need it).  However I do firmly believe in it's use as a topical treatment.  Personally I have used it on both myself, my husband and my goats in an oil infusion. 

We will also be using it more in the gardens this year.  I will be making some comfrey liquid fertilizer for general garden and plant use.   Then I will try mixing some leaves into the potato towers.  I have also heard that I can put the chicken manure directly out of the coop onto the comfrey beds - I'll let you know how true this is in a month or so.

I hope to keep you updated on the success of using my expanded comfrey beds to supplement our livestock feed program. 

Until next time....

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!!!

     Well today is Easter and the first day I have had away from my "outside" job in a while. I figure this morning will make a lovely time to catch up on my blog before hitting the ground running and getting some outside work done today while I'm home.

     I have finally gotten all the raised beds built for this year. I'm starting with just 3 large ones and one smaller one for this year. I'll see how I like them and maybe add more next year. I have yet to fill them, but at least they are ready for it.

     Manure has been added to the garden soil; just need the time to get it tilled in with my new tiller that my wonderful husband bought for me. I did one tilling already just to break up the soil before putting in the raised beds - nice tiller for sure.

     The potatoes are the only thing I have planted so far. I doubled my raised potato planters from 3 to 6 and planted .....potatoes this year. These planters worked really well last year and were very cheap to make as I had the burlap on hand and a bit of extra fencing. Composted and semi-composted manure works awesome as a filler/growing medium in these planters.

     I did end up adding 4 assorted blueberry bushes to the homestead. They were planted on the south side of the house and are going to be used as a foundation cover.  We have about a 2 to 2-1/2 foot Styrofoam basement foundation.  It was lemon yellow when we purchased the house but we painted it brown for aesthetic purposes, but paint doesn’t adhere well to Styrofoam and the chickens seem to like to EAT it.  Anyhow with our small acreage anything that can do double duty is a plus.  

     All the indoor seeds have been planted.  The tomatoes have had their first transplant into Styrofoam cups.  After starting the seeds in the little peat pellets I transplant them into cups when they are bout 4-5 inches tall.  When transplanting them I plant them deeply into the cup so that their root system becomes bigger – tomatoes will grow roots from their stem if covered in soil.  Then I bury them just a bit deeper when transplanting them into the soil outdoors for an even better root system.  This seemed to work excellently for me last year, for even with minimal care and watering we ended up with a decent crop of tomatoes!!

     I’m trying something new with my corn this year.  I’m starting my plants indoors. Perhaps if I have a nice crop I will be able to save some of my own seed this year.  I am within a few hundred feet of a “charming” field of GMO corn.  (**BLECH**)  If I can get my corn started and pollinated before that corn is ready to pollinate perhaps I have a chance of getting decent corn for saving.  You know, I’ve seen people actually BUY started corn seedlings for a ridiculous price.  Come on – two seedlings for $1.50?  I can buy two whole ears of corn for less than that!!    I’ll let you know how this endeavor works out for me.

     Sadly I have to say I don’t see much action coming from my red raspberries that were planted last year.  Out of about 25 plants that were given to me from a friend, I can find only three so far.  My purchased berries seem to have fared only marginally better as I see about 45-50% of them returning this year.  I think the chickens are primarily to blame for this lack of success.

     Speaking of the chickens and their love of new shoots and scratching….I think I got my herb and asparagus garden fenced in time to save any major damage this spring.  The cheap fencing I tried to use last year, just didn’t keep the chickens out towards the end of the season and I’m sure I lost my Bloody Sorrel and a few strawberry plants.  My Egyptian Walking onions, peppermint and spearmint are coming up wonderfully so far this year.  We did build a chicken pen last year to contain the chickens from time to time.  It just isn’t big enough for a full time pen, besides ever since I have owned chickens I’ve been a firm believer in free range.  I guess I’ll just keep fencing in all the important plants.  Luckily Bailey and Buddy keep the chickens away from most things near the house. 

     Icee and Reign were introduced to chickens yesterday.  I’m afraid this may be a long road to success.   Reign listens infinitely better than Icee when I holler NO.   Maybe Icee is just a bit too much puppy yet to be able to resist a running chicken.  However she doesn’t try and catch it and maul it or anything.  I used my favorite and tamest hen to work with the dogs.  She lays down when I go after her, so once she went down the dogs just sniffed her.  I tried a rooster for the dogs to check out, but he flies too well and bailed quickly over the fence!!  There used to be a small chicken hole for the chickens to freely come and go from the goat pen, but I had to close that up to keep Icee from using it when be brought her home!  I have to say, the pen is much cleaner when the chickens are allowed to freely roam within it.
Waiting for breakfast, such patience.

     I have decided to add to our breeding program.  I will be bringing home a young Myotonic buckling to our farm in May of this year.  I would like to follow that with a couple of Myotonic does as well, but for now we will be mixing the Myotonic buck with some of our Boer does.  Both are meat breeds, although the Myotonic (or Fainting goat) has off shoots in both the meat lines and a smaller “daintier” pet line.   This may be another contest opportunity as this fellow will need a name!!  I’m going to go out on a limb though and say that I like the name “Spyder”.   Maybe bike names instead of car names for the Myotonic line?  Interceptor, FatBoy and Raider all have a nice ring to them.
The soon to be "New Kid" on the block.

     The Cornish Rocks are quite large already, looking mighty plump and juicy looking if you ask me.  I haven’t been able to figure out a place to allow them out to roam as they are still young and the other adult chickens like to pick on them.  Next year I think a chicken tractor for the Cornish will be a good idea.   The little “red chickens” I bought this year are feathering nicely and I’m debating on when to mix them with the other girls. They are either Isa Browns or New Hampshire Reds – I really don’t remember.  I suppose I didn’t really need 10 more pullets as I already seem to have more eggs than I need.  But on the flip side of that, if we find ourselves able to go forward with the CSA in 2013 we will be all set on the eggs. 

      I really need to get my money invested in a new dehydrator (the last one finally died) so I can start working on dehydrating some eggs.  Besides I have enjoyed my dehydrated mushrooms, tomatoes and herbs from last year and look forward to doing even more of my garden harvest in a dried form this year.

      Babies are coming soon!!  Lily is due in 7 days, Penny in 10 and Snapdragon in 16.  One of Lilies doelings already has a deposit on it.  If she has only bucklings, those are also spoken for – one in our freezer and an acquaintance has requested one for their freezer.  I am seriously hoping for a nicely colored (spotted would be GREAT) doeling out of Snapdragon or Penny.  I really would like to keep one here on the farm.  I plan to keep at least two nicely put together doelings from this crop, Penny is my favorite so I’m hoping she kids out at least two really nice ones.  I keep saying I want one of Lilies doelings for a second milk goat, but when I get the cow she will be obsolete so I will most likely just offer any additional doelings she has up for sale. I’ll give the girls a few more days and then will be separating Penny and Lily into their kidding pens. 
 Penny actually looks like the babies are already starting to move into position!!

 It's always hard to get a good shot of an overly friendly goat, but here is Snapdragon and she is MUCH wider in person.

I am hoping that Lily gives us at least twins again this year.  She holds her babies well hidden and I would have never guessed she's have two good sized babies last year.  She looks about the same as last year so probably not the triplets I was dreaming of.
     Abra the pig is also due sometime this month but that is just guessing.   She looks quite large but I haven’t notice any ‘nesting” going on yet.  I have decided to leave the boar and sow together.  We have two nesting areas available and I have noticed that they will sleep apart.  One area is set up better for piglets (slats available for little ones to move away from mom and not get rolled on).  This is my first experience having a farrowing pig, and I’m sure I’m going to make mistakes, but I’m hoping that this isn’t one of them.  Our summer pen for the pigs should be large enough to give everybody their separate space.  We’ll keep updating on the piglet status as we go. 

If anybody tells you that AHH won't root - just smile and nod becuase YOU know better.....

       I have found out something interesting.  The less time I have to do things, the more I get done.  I think last summer I just kept saying things like – I’ll do it tomorrow.  I’ll do it later.  I’ve got all week to get it done.  Well when it came to taking the horses out and riding, I hardly rode at all last year.  This year already I’ve been out almost as much as I went out the entire year last year!  I come up with a chance to ride and now I say – Grab it and go!! 

     Well, the cinnamon rolls are done and I’m ready for breakfast.  Then I’m off to enjoy the day, perhaps I’ll finish my rototilling then head out for a nice ride.

      I hope you all enjoy your Easter!!

Until next time……..