Monday, April 26, 2010

We're havin' a Barn Raisin'

Part of our arrangement with the owner of the farm area is that twice a year we would put in a work day.  He has some tasks he needs completed so we would handle those as well as anything else we see that needs to be done to maintain the place.  Our work day was this past Saturday and there were lots of helping hands.  The only task the owner had for us was to paint this little out building.  This is the place we originally milked the goats but we've moved them over to the bigger barn.  We currently have 2 billy goats here, we need to keep them separate from the nanny goats or they ruin the taste of the milk.  Needless to say, with this many willing hands, the painting went quite quickly,  I think much more than the building got painted though.  Many of the kids came home with speckled faces from paint rollers, others were almost covered from head to toe in paint.  The ground got a coat, so did the wire fence, the tin roof, the goats, and 2 or 3 roosters.  The kids seemed to be smiling but I think the painting fore(wo)man was nearly pulling her hair out in frustration with some of the kids.  But she exercised patience and let them have their fun.

Some of the other things we did was to muck out the barns.  What a nasty job this is.  I've done this quite a few times in my life and it is never fun, the only thing I'm grateful for is that it wasn't pigs.  Out of pigs, cows, horses, chickens, and goats, pigs are by far the worst.  Even at the best of times, it is still a  horrible job.  There was one corner that we must have dug down 2 feet to hit the bottom.  There were two digging and two running the wheel barrows.  I knew those diggers had some stories, but they way they were slinging that morning was something to be seen!

There was some general maintenance work done as well.  In replacing some boards we came across a bunch of old nails.  The handmade kind where each nail is its own unique masterpiece, different from all the rest.  I am so grateful for standardization and the assembly line, it makes everyone's life that much better.  Those old nails do give a bit of a timeline for how old this barn is though.  I'm not sure when hand-made nails went out of fashion, but it was definitely after this barn was built.

All in all it was a good few hours of work.  Some much needed mucking was done, painting, and general repairs to make life easier for all.  If that darn baseball and soccer season hadn't gotten in the way, we could have gotten more done, but we did get all the necessary stuff, and some extra, completed.

If anyone needs some compost or fertilizer, thanks to the Sharp and Allsup minions, we have a great big pile ripe for the taking.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Certified Goat Ranchers

I'm not sure what is happening, but my last post was about selling off some of our goats and shrinking the size of our herd.  I go back to milk today and I find that we have doubled in size!  We have added 16 goats to our herd.  I'm wondering if goats and rabbits have similar breeding patterns.   One of us found a great deal 2 Bucks and 4 Nannys, with the 4 Nannys being pregnant.  That was a few days ago and they have all given birth.  These are LaMancha goats and are Ugly with a capital U.  If you look closely, you can see the evilness shining out of the eyes of them.  I can understand why we got such a great deal for the whole bunch of them.  There is something about those human looking ears that is disturbing.  Goats should have big floppy ears, not little nubs like these ones do.

The kids are not so repulsive, in fact the kid in this picture is downright is the goat.  We have 10 baby LaManchas running around, they are quite a bit smaller than the others that we still have and it is amusing to see them frolicking together

We have sold all the females from our first batch and are trying to sell the males.  With this new bunch, we have way more than we bargained for.  We are going to try and sell them all together, and are giving a really great deal on them so if you are interested, or know someone who is, then check this out.

The good news is that the little blind goat, seems to be getting better.  It's eye's are clearing up and it is reacting to movement in front of it's face.  I think this is fantastic, being blind would be lousy.  The weather is warming up and hopefully last weeks snow was the last we'll see till November.  I'm fine with it raining more, but I've had enough of the snow and cold.

The bad news is that one of the white saanens that we have is in bad shape.  She is a first time mother and only gave birth to 1 goat.  She has been skittish about getting milked and as such I think we neglected her a bit.  Now one side of her udder is hard as a rock.  Her kid seems to be still eating of the other side, but she is in constant pain.  I've been able to milk some out of her bad side, but it is so painful she stands there and maa's the whole time.  When I try to massage her udder she is jumping all around to get me to stop.  We have put the machine on her a few times and she does give some milk, but then it starts to get blood in it.  I'm not sure what is wrong with her, but all the women in the group are especially sympathetic to her plight.  I think we are going to have to get rid of her.

I think the problem is that we didn't regulate their milk enough to begin with.  Next time we'll need to do a better job of it. 

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Raising chickens with goats

I have seen from my next-door neighbor how raising chickens and cows together are a perfect match. The chickens learn to stay away from the cows so they don't get trampled, but they pick through the feed that the cows drop, eating what would otherwise get wasted. Chickens will even pick through the cow manure looking for fly larvae, supplementing their diet with extra protein. With enough chickens, your fly problem will be reduced significantly. However, they can't dig deep through the stuff, so chickens aren't going to solve a growing manure problem for you.

What about goats? You are going to have a few more challenges mixing chickens and goats, but you will have many of the same benefits that you do with cattle when they share the same yard. Here are a few issues that you will want to think about when considering combining your flock and herd:
  1. Goats are high-energy, curious, and adventurous eaters. While it may be OK for the chickens to pick through the alfalfa that you feed the goats, you don't want the goats to get into the chicken feed. Goats will abandon their own feed in favor of the higher grain content from chicken feed. If you feed the chickens where the goats can't get access, this should solve the problem. In addition, I doubt that the goats would bother the hen's eggs, but it is probably safest if the goats don't have access to these either.
  2. Both goats and chickens can spread coccidiosis to each other, a parasite that comes from picking through their manure. It can be devastating to both kids and chicks. This is the biggest reason why chicks are often fed medicated feed as a precaution while they are under the biggest danger (3 to 7 weeks). From the Goat Handbook, M. C. Smith; Cornell U., Ithaca, NY, "...although most goats carry coccidia and will have positive fecal exams, normally only the young kids become sick with coccidiosis. Deaths and stunted kids result. Raising kids separately from adults, keeping pens clean and dry, preventing fecal contamination of water or feed, and, in some herds, continuous preventative medication are necessary to prevent the disease. It is neither possible nor desirable to completely eradicate coccidia from the adult goats. A low level infection with the parasite serves to keep these goats immune to the disease."
Over all, I think that the benefits of raising chickens and goats together outweigh the challenges.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Thinning the herd

We've had quite a few kids sold in the past week or so.  I think we are down to 1 female now, but none of the males have been sold.  We also got rid of the goat that didn't get pregnant this time around, known by some as Little Red.  Diane also sent out an email she received from someone stating that they had 2 goats they would give to us.  They are none milking goats, but if someone knows of anyone wanting mature goats, these are freebies, they will even be delivered. 

We are going to start weaning them starting Monday so we will start the full milking schedule again.  We milked them with the machine yesterday, but several of them are so empty from the kids that we didn't get more than a few drops.  I am glad that it is warming up though, I'm just hoping that this Spring weather continues to get nicer and nicer.

The kids are starting to eat solid foods.  You can see them nibbling on everything they can reach.  It is kind of funny to see all the kids climbing through the holes in the manger to eat on the bale of hay while all the Nanny goats are fighting over whatever remains are left in the manger itself from their feeding frenzy.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010


Well thanks to Marc I now look like a Big, Tough sissy boy, I just hope everyone in my -Ballet- & -how to cry on the inside- classes, don't read this blog, it could really ruin my reputation.

I hope things start to dry out and it stops raining and snowing, there's no way you can tell it's spring.

Everyone is doing a great job and I know we all appreciate the help, it makes the work load light when we all pitch in.

Some of you need to be flogged with a wet noodle, giving your milk to the pigs, what's wrong with you, you know they sell that for $12.00 a gallon, when and if you can find it, those are going to be some expensive pigs and I don't think they even appreciate it.

I was just thinking how great it has been this last year, we all got to have the great experience of owning and caring for the goats and having raw milk (by the way Marc said he was going to be posting some great information on raw milk and also some great research done on the benefits vs the dangers of raw milk and the benefits of goats milk over cows milk, so if you don't see it just ask him for it) and we eliminated most of the drawbacks of owning and caring for the goats with the co-op, I hope everyone appreciates only milking once a week, believe me the other way is not fun. I was thinking we really should co-op more things, we all have talents, abilities, skills and personal access to opportunities that we can provide to others, by combining all these we really could have access to some great things, kind of like the -toy share- philosophy. This really is a great asset for all of us, for example if you ever need a new vehicle, I have started to go back to attending the wholesale sales through out the U.S. and I can get great deals on vehicles, I know that others of you have other talents and access to opportunities in other areas, this is a GREAT concept and we really need to take advantage of it. So whoever is going to buy a nice new boat (-wink wink-) you should open it up to everyone and co-op the costs.
Well any way, thanks, Trent
-----(I think this is a great first contribution from Marc and Diane )

Friday, April 2, 2010

Grabbing the Goat by the Horns

Yesterday, we disbudded the baby goats.  What a nasty job that was!  We have a little tool that works pretty much like a soldering iron.  I didn't take any pictures as my hands were busy holding the things down but here is a site that looks like is uses the same tool we did and went through the same process.  Trent, Janina, Diane, and I were the ones there with Trent doing all the mean stuff.  I used to think Trent was a vicious, cold hearted killer, and the way he efficiently went about the business of burning the horns, then deftly wielding the knife to cut off the caps, reinforced that.  Then I looked up, a little daunted at meeting the eyes of someone who could inflict such pain and suffering on these cuddly little animals with such detachment.  The tears on his cheeks, frozen from the cold wind howling through the slats in the barn on this overcast and dreary day, made me realize that he was feeling as much pain in his heart as those poor little goats were on their heads.  I believe Trent just maintains a hard and forbidding facade to hide the fragile and tender soul he has on the inside.

It isn't as bad as branding, castrating, and de-horning, cows but whereas cows are ugly animals, those baby goats are kinda endearing.  One of them sounded just like a little person that was hurt.  All but one are complete.  The one we didn't debud has got other problems.  We think he is blind.  He had gunky eyes since the time he was born and it looks like his actual eyes are getting cloudy.  He doesn't really react to sudden movement in front of his eyes either.  We're not sure what is going to happen with him, but we'll see how things work out.

In other items, it was our turn to feed the pigs yesterday and with all the snow we've had, it is easy to see that the electric fence is working just fine.  There were not any tracks, either the inside or outside, that came close to the fence.  I did walk the perimeter to make sure that it was clear of snow and wind-blown branches, this is something that should be done every day.