Ohiofarmgirl's Adventures in The Good Land is largely a fish out of water tale about how I eventually found my footing on a small farm in an Amish town. We are a mostly organic, somewhat self sufficient, sustainable farm in Ohio. There's action and adventure and I'll always tell you the truth about farming.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Dahli's Beautiul Udder

Never say never, right? Remember when I was complaining about Dahlia and thought she wouldn't be staying. Sheesh. She's staying. She milks like a mutha and you should see her beautiful udder. In fact, look!

Hello Dahli! Would you look at the bag on that girl? And those teats! A milking dream machine..

Dahli is a "first freshener" - which means this is the first time she's produced milk. When dairy animals have babies and begin producing milk folks say that she has "freshened." Dahli always thinks she's fresh - and superfly. She's kinda full of herself.  I don't like it. She lacks discipline and I'm just the one to give it to her.

Dahlia, says she's superfresh all the time. Needs discipline.

From what I've heard first fresheners are supposed to be hard to milk and don't produce a lot. No one told Dahli. We knew she was exceptionally well bred for milking, but wow! The next time she "freshenes" she's going to be outstanding and be as good a milker as Debbie, if not better.

Dahli is just the right size. (The Big Man for Scale)

One of the things I really like about the La Mancha breed is that they are petite dairy goats. Well... not Sunny from last summer. That gal was a big as a yak. But for the most part they are a nice sized goat and are easy to handle. Generally they are pretty laid back. Dahli is still a little too bouncy for me - and a little too ridiculous. But because of her excellent milking achievements she's earned herself a good parking spot and an Employee of the Month certificate. Great job, Dahli - keep up the good work!

What about you - anybody else got a superstar in the making?

Happy Monday everyone! Now get out there and milk your fresh new goat!

Friday, April 27, 2012

It's a cake. Made out of beans. I'm not kidding.

Has everyone tried Black Bean Chocolate Cake? It's a cake. Made out of beans. I'm not even kidding.

Slice o' cake, unfrosted. Don't worry - I had it with a big scoop of ice cream.

My pal, Freemotion, highlighted this spectacular use of legumes a while ago on her blog Blue Viola Farm.  You can find the recipe here. She also gives some sugar alternatives. The original recipe calls for honey but wow! There are a lot of options.

The batter looks and tastes like REAL cake batter. I know this because I licked the bowl.

I will say that I was extremely skeptical about this whole thing... beans? Sure I like beans, but for cake?

So I finally tried it...and its great! No really  - its very cake-like and delicious. The best thing about it is that it doesn't have processed flour or sugar. And you know that means - that's right?....You can totally slather on the frosting. And so I did.

I'm so intrigued by this whole bean cake thing that I'm also going to try the vanilla version. My pal "J" pointed me to this recipe. She says it tastes like french toast. How great is that?

Happy Friday everyone! What do you think - are you gonna take the black bean chocolate cake challenge?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Don't Eat That

I want to thank my pal over at 500 Dollar Tomato for posting the link to PBS's show, America Revealed - the Food Machine. She is just right, its worth the 53 minutes of your time.

Prepare yourself. This post is about creepy meats as shown here, with shovel for scale.

One of the things I liked about the program was that it was balanced. Don't get me wrong, I love all the farm pirates and Food Renegades who rage on Big Food... but the hard fact is that we need to feed all these people who aren't growing their own food.  Someone has to do it and Big Food and Big Ag are getting the job done.  It is important to the security of our nation.

If you ask me, the number one security concern for this country is not a crazy man on a plane with a bomb in his panties....its that America is handing over the responsibility of feeding its citizens to someone else. Throughout history this has been a stupid mistake.  Do you know that your broccoli may be grown in China? So what happens when the folks who own all our money and grow all our food decide they don't want to play nice anymore? That is what keeps me up at night.

So I don't have a huge axe to grind with Big Food... they are doing their job. While I can't entirely throw my support behind them, I don't think they are entirely nefarious.  But I do think they are giving folks what they want - cheap, easy food that is readily available.

And nothing about it healthy or nutritious or entirely responsible. 

The program especially highlighted just how many packaged, convenience products found in the grocery were made from corn in one form or another. Its everywhere. In thousands and thousands of products. Either as a sweetener or something else. I'm pretty sure you may not know how much of it you are eating. Or drinking as a sugary beverage.

I'm not sure its doing us any good.

Here's why. And before you scroll down.....I don't know anything about anything so don't quote me or sue me... I'm just gonna show you some pictures and you can draw your own conclusions. But first a disclaimer, these are pictures of guts and stuff so don't burst info flames. If you don't like it then don't look. But I've shown way more gross stuff than this. If you send me a mean email or comment I'll tell you to nut up and quit being a crybaby. Got it? Look here if you are on the fence.  Little Mo's cuteness will take the edge off. 

Anyone still with me?


We butchered the rest of our creepy meats this week - there were six, huge, bowling ball shaped hens of epic proportion. To tell you the truth we didn't think one would make it to butcher day. That one was first. Mostly these birds have free ranged and been feed corn. Regular old corn. Kinda like all the corn that Americans tend to eat in their crap filled, out of the box, Standard American Diet. There is a reason its called SAD.

This was the result of a mostly corn diet. Most of these creepy meats were beyond all scale of creepiness and some were worse than others. My gut bucket was overflowing with fat. Tons of fat. An enormous amount of fat. Fat everywhere. Fat covering all the organs. Fat lining the carcass. Fat, fat, fat and more fat.

And the livers where huge. And not red and lovely.  Remember all those lovely livers from a while ago and there was one kinda weird one? That one couldn't hold a candle to this one which was about as big as my hand.

Can you believe it?  All that yellow stuff is the fat. Its not supposed to be like that.

And then there were the hearts - covered in fat. Encased in fat. Bogged down by fat.

No wonder creepy meats just eventually keel over and die if they get too big or too old. Isn't it horrible?

Friends, you gotta look at these pictures and wonder if this happening to us since we are feeding ourselves a mostly corn-product diet. 

Think about it - every time you crack open a soda, or bust open a bag of "Itos", or launch into some kind of microwaved-in-a-tray lunch kinda thing....what you are eating is a whole lot of corn products. It didn't do any good for these creepy meats but make them tender and delicious and covered in fat. Is that what the SAD is doing to everyone? Is the convenience worth it?

I dunno about you but I'm not eating that stuff. You don't have to either. For heavens sakes don't eat that, put down that box or pouch or tray or whatnot and pick up real food. Better yet, grow it yourself. Then make your own food. Real food.

If you've made it this far  be sure to check out that program on PBS. Then run right out and plant a garden and start making your own food from the ground up.

Happy Tuesday everyone - now put down that box of Toasted Sugar Coated Doodles and make yourself some oatmeal, or better yet - bacon that you grew in your yard and butchered yourself.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Relishing Radishes

Have I told you lately how much I love radishes? So, so, so much....these little spring jewels are a gardener's delight. They are easy to grow and first to be ready to harvest. Right now the French Breakfast variety are my favorite.
Beautiful French Breakfast Radishes are oblong and very mild.

But what about all those radish tops? What to do with them? Eat 'em! No, really they are delish. You can use radish greens in place of spinach in just about anything. I've been experimenting all weekend. They are really my new favorite thing. You can also use the baby radish greens from when you thin a row of radishes instead of just tossing them in the compost.

A lovely bunch of greens and mature radishes headed for the kitchen

The trick to cooking greens is to fill your biggest pot with cold water and let the greens soak. Give the greens a couple swishes in the cold water and soon all the dirt and grit will fall to the bottom of the pan. Then just trim them up - cut off the stalk and pull off any bad leaves - and you are ready for business.

I especially loved the tops that I cut off from mature radishes and the baby greens (with their tiny radish-etts still attached) sauteed in bacon grease. Then I chopped up the leftover greens and used them on a pizza. It worked out great. And the greens are not bitter or too spicy - just nice and mild.

What doesn't go with bacon? Use a grill pan to cook greens and bacon for a heavenly treat.

Check out my riff on this recipe....grilled onions and radish greens with bacon, baby. It was to die for. Whoot!  But I didn't need any special sauce with our home made bacon - I just drizzled a little balsamic on it.  I understand that this is served as an appetizer but who am I foolin'? I made a whole plate of it for dinner.

Of course the radishes themselves can be sauteed or roasted. But I love them fresh from the garden, sliced thinly, and on top of fresh bread with butter and salt.  I don't know if the French actually eat them for breakfast, but I do.

Any body else lovin' radishes right now?

Happy Monday everyone!

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Dog Moat is done!

The Dog Moat is done!  This is, by far, The Best Project EVER.

The other day we ran the fence along the post on the north side of our property. Altho I'm still totally mad that I had to spend so much money to fence out someone else dog (as opposed to fencing our dogs in)... I'm completely in love with this project.

The dog moat is about 200ft long and 8ish feet wide - it narrows a little as it get closer to the hen yard. This "fence within a fence" does not allow the dogs to go all the way to the road - we closed off the run so its in line with the edge of the upper garden. But this gives them a good dog run on part of the perimeter of our property.

For the last couple days I've been spending a lot of time with the dogs in the moat - convincing them that this is the best place ever. Eventually they'll be happy to run around - or more likely sleep in the shade - while I work in the upper garden.  This solves a lot of problems - not only will they create a barrier to predators - but also I can have Zander contained so I don't have to keep chasing after him... as he's chasing after chickens. The hens free range so its easier to keep the dogs contained than the hens.... until we can get Zander to control his prey drive.  He'll be pretty rowdy thru the summer and sometime this fall he'll learn to behave. By this time next year he'll be working with me like Kai is learning to do.

Yesterday I had the great idea to lay in the grass with the dogs. I pictured a relaxing afternoon surrounded with big dogs sleeping all around me. Nope. Instead, I got slobbered on, stepped on, had my ear snuffed in, was the backstop for a wrestling match, had sticks dropped on me, was whacked in the face by wagging tails... the works. Actually it was pretty funny. Eventually the whole thing turned it to a wrestling match and I ended up laying on Zander. He was a big comfy pillow. We all had a great time in the new dog moat.

I'm going to try and get some planting done today - my hurt paw.. I mean... wrist.. is back on the mend.

Happy Friday everyone!!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

State of Michigan is coming for your livestock

I have a lot to say about this but I hurt my wrist and can barely type. But this is so important I have to get the word out.

If you're on "the facebook" you already saw these links and my position on them. Everyone else please take the time to click and read the links below.

The Natural News tells about the raids on small farms.

The Blaze talks about this also. These were NOT feral pigs but domesticated livestock owned by a private citizen on his property.

Food Renegade talks about how all heritage breed pigs are in danger. And how the DNR does NOT have jurisdiction on private property and privately owned livestock - but they are conducting armed raids.

This is the farmer who killed all his livestock. You can make a donation on his site and learn more about this.

The state of Michigan conducting armed raids on farmers (and forcing them to kill their livestock or face steep fines or jail time) is nothing short of outrageous. Remember these were not pigs running loose - -they were secured on this guy's property.

THIS IS NOT ABOUT PIGS. This is about personal property and the overreach of government at the behest of Big Food. In this case its the pork industry trying to run small farmers out of business. Or worse, trying to make it illegal for you as a private citizen to grow and raise your own food.

You should be shaking with rage.

Several of these links have contact info for these government agencies so you can express your outrage. 

Even if you don't have one hoot for who has pigs and who doesn't.... think for a moment about how Detroit - in Michigan for you international folks - has some of the worst unemployment in the country...and who's streets look like a war zone.  But the state has time and money to enact and enforce this kind of legislation.

Fire up your email, twitter, or facebook and tell everyone you know. This is serious, people.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Planting and More Dog Chores

I think gremlins got into my camera... not only did I loose it for most of this morning (why this post is late), but some of the pix from yesterday are missing. Unfortunately, instead of writing anything down I just take a picture of where I plant stuff . Zoikes!

These are planted somewhere.....

I'll try and piece it together.

First I have to note that I planted some spinach beside the broccoli in the upper garden. Then I planted potatoes in the new garden by the drive. I've been working on developing this new area for 2 years - mostly its bad dirt we had to dig out from near the house, then we covered it with barn litter when we cleaned out the goat house, and last summer we just let it get weedy. Now its ready for action.

I planted short rows of potatoes along the side closest to the drive. Unfortunately.. the sacks with the variety names are laying out in the yard and I don't have the pix on the camera. I think the first ones were Irish somethings... maybe Irish Cobbler? The next rows were Pontiac but they weren't red so who knows what's going to happen.

Then I did a short row of "dwarf Horticulture" beans. We loved these last year and I was lucky to find them in bulk at a small feedstore in another town. A while ago an old timer told me not to plant beans until after the first week of June, but I gotta tell you, the weather is just begging me to get out there. So I am. The worst thing that will happen is it won't work and the beans will all die and I'll just till them under and start again. The best thing that will happen is that I'll get a stunning crop of beans and by early July I'll make a garlicy bean spread that will make your eyes pop out of your head.

You can really see that Zander is as big...and maybe a touch bigger... than Kai.  At 7 months. Yikes!

Yesterday was also a banner day in Kai's young life. You'll remember that we've been working with her to help with chores. Last nite she did a fantastic job - all stars for such a new hard workin' farm dog. First she helped get the hens headed in the direction of the hen house, then she was totally calm when I was milking to goats. She even stood there and watched - she didn't try to harass the goats or chase them or anything. Then I sent Titan to break up a rooster brawl and to get that crew moving in and Kai went with him.

I was guiding her to get behind the roos and scoot them in - instead of using her hunting instinct which is to charge right at them, mirror their every move, then go for the kill. She did a great job but then BlackJack kinda freaked out at the wolves in his hen yard and started flapping and running..... right near Kai. Even tho she grabbed him by his tailfeathers as he ran past....she let go of him on command.

This is huge. Normally she would grab and shake her prey to kill it. Or use her paws to hold it down while she ripped it apart.. but instead she LET IT GO. On command. The FIRST command. I didn't have to run at her or do anything to break her prey drive... she just let him go. Amazing.

BlackJack ran for the hen house and refused to come out from behind one of the coops. He's fine.

So we are so proud of our girl - this was a huge victory to get her to work with the livestock. Knowing the difference between hunting/play and working is a big step and we are so glad!  Of course I was beaming with pride and Kai got all wiggly and shook her curly tail. So she got lots of kisses and 'good dogs' and some goat milk.

The more she "gets" that we are working the more chores we can give her.  And the more that I can trust her, the more that she will be willing to work, and the better helper she will become. I can't wait until I can tell her to "get down there and bring them those chickens" -- and she herds them up and drives them into the hen house... instead of bringing me one limp in her mouth.

Today promises to be another big planting day. I hope I can remember when I plant everything... Happy Tuesday everyone!!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Wild Kingdom - right here on the farm

I have a friend who is an avid birder and life long member of Auduban. She loves to go birding and can sight a female bluebird at a thousand yards. Me? Well, I don't even like birds.  We see plenty of hawks and stuff on the way to church on the back country roads - so you won't see me at any competitive birding events any time soon. I can't even tell the difference between a crow and a condor.

Do you see what I see? You might have to click on the picture and zoom in...

But this morning - wow!  We had the wild kingdom happening right in front of us.

We were all sitting on the hillside enjoying the morning and being slobbered on by many, many big dogs when something caught our eye down at the pond. I moseyed down to get a better view because it looked like an enormous hawk had perched on a limb overhanging the water. So I got closer....and then she started thrashing around.

So I got even closer trying to figure out what she was doing... and then she kinda flopped into the water and then really started thrashing but she couldn't take off. So I started running toward her.

Is this better? Right there at the edge of the water?

Let's be clear. I don't love hawks because they love my chickens and not too long ago we found one of the hens dead and partly eaten by a hawk. So there isn't a lot of love for them around here. As long as they stick to hunting field mice I don't care what they do. But stay away from my hens.

Isn't that amazing?

However, I'd hate to think that a hawk was somehow tangled up and was a sitting duck,  especially right there by the pond next to Fox Central. So I made my way around the pond when I saw her suddenly take off... and there was something dangling from her leg.

For one quick moment I thought it was her tethers hanging from her leg and I thought, "Ohmigosh, that's someone's falcon and she's gotten loose!"  Because, you know I've always fancied myself out hunting in the hinterland - on an enormous horse with no name, with my war hounds, and a giant falcon on my arm.... so I figured this was my chance.

It was either that or she had gotten tangled up in some fencing or baling twine. And I figured she needed some rescuing so we circled around the pond looking for her. We saw her fly thru the woods then suddenly she landed on a nearby branch.  We could see that what she had was.....

....a snake she had fished out of the pond!

She did not need any rescuing from us at all. That snake, however, got the raw end of that deal for sure.

As long as she's happy with snake that's fine with me. I hear it tastes like chicken. 

That's the word here from the wild kingdom. I tell you this, you never know what's going to happen around here.

Happy Monday everyone? Can you top THAT for today?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Looks to be a bad weather weekend

Has everyone seen the Storm Prediction Centers bad outlook for this weekend?  Pretty much if you are anywhere between Houston and Minneapolis you need to keep a weather eye on the sky. They are predicting strong storms and had issued warnings yesterday (careful, that link launches a video) about the next couple days.

The other night we caught the last half of a great Nova program about last year's tornado season. Wow the video is stunning and I'm glad I found it online. There were a few good lessons that we learned:

1. This is gonna be a bad tornado year also
2. Folks who don't normally have tornadoes may get them this season
3. And yeah, its worse now.

One of the reasons is because of our extra warm winter. So if you are not normally in a tornado zone then take a few minutes to learn what folks in "tornado alley" already know:

1. Know what the weather guy is talking about.
2. Get together a plan for where to go and what to do NOW.
3. Respect the weather.

We learned last year that the "old rules" - that you are probably safer if you live in a city or in hilly country - don't apply.  The program also talked about the importance of heeding weather warnings and watches.  I don't know why people ignore them, but for heaven's sakes don't do that. If there are warning and watches in your area then take action.

The Weather Channel has some great info on how to be prepared. Even if you don't think you are at risk, please take a few minutes and read thru this information. The big take aways are to listen to the warnings, keep an eye on the sky, and make sure you have a plan to get to shelter underground.

We'll keep the local weather radar on for most of the weekend - and be keeping a weather eye on the sky.  Is anyone in the high risk zone this weekend? What are you doing to keep safe?

Batten down the chickens everyone - this could be an interesting weekend!

Friday, April 13, 2012

The Worst Project Ever

OK its not the worst project ever but today it sure feels like it. Remember when we did all that trenching last fall? While it was wildly successful in that it stopped the water from getting in our basement from our torrential rains last year.....

.....its kinda killin' me right now. The day we did the trenching was basically the last nice, dry day. And since the rest of the winter was a big soggy mess I'm only now been finishing up this project. Slowly but surely I've been clearing out the trenches and filling them with gravel.

This particular section has been a crippler. Luckily the chickens have been helping. I'd type more but I can't because my arms hurt too bad.

Happy Friday everyone! Anyone else shoveling today?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

In Praise of R - The World's Best Teenager

It is a fact that I do not like teenagers. I don't even try to hide it. I can't stand the snotty looks, the schmarmy eyerolls, or the snarky comments. I particularly don't like to hear teenagers being snotty to their parents in line at the store. I always want to tell them all that their parents are "lame" because they spend their days working hard to provide a roof over their heads, food on the table, and no - no one needs shoes that are that expensive.

I could go on and on about the lying, the ridiculous behavior, mood swings, and the stinkiness (yes, they stink). One point of hilarity to me, tho,  is the amazed and disbelieving looks when teenagers realize they weren't the first ones to try that line of crap and were not believed. If you are a teenager and you start a sentence with "All's I was doin' was...." no one is going to believe you. Ever. You'll find out why later - when you grow up.

I can say all this because I didn't even like teenagers when I was a teen. You see, hard work and discipline have followed me all the days of my life. The Big Man, who knew me back then, has always said that my maturity level has been about 30 years old.. aside, of course from the stupid jokes.

So when I say that there is one teen out there that surpasses them all - and one that I'm absolutely delighted, inspired, and awestruck by... well, this is big news. Ladies and Gentlemen, I have found the perfect teenager - she lives next door. She's my favorite 4H kid. She's amazing.

I always knew she was good - but wow - recently she really showed her colors. Of course it started out as a day like any other. In passing, our Good Neighbor Mom asked me to check her on their goats - about mid-morning - as their goaties were close to kidding. I ambled over to their barn figuring it was no big deal. Until, you know, I got there. Then the big deal started.

At first I was assured that their doe was experienced and no, I didn't have to stick around. I stuck around. After about an hour there were lots of frantic calls, a lot of me being nauseous, plenty of pacing and peeking from behind my hands at whatever horrible thing was happening in that stall. Finally the decision was made to call R - who was at work. (I'll point out the obvious that R has a job. R = not a slacker.)

After an eternity (or 12 minutes) she drove up, unhurried, no muss no fuss. I had about worn a hole in the floor and in the soles of my shoes. After all my hand wringing and nervous calls... R declared that there was nothing to worry about. I worried. I fretted. R was cool as a cucumber. Pretty soon a vein popped out of my head. R didn't even bat an eye.

Then stuff happened. I dunno what - it was all too horrible for me to look directly at. I was on the smilin' end of that momma goat. I was pulling one way and who knows what was going on in the back end. But there were noises.. horrible...horrible noises.

Then R giggled and said "He's biting my finger!" She smiled and continued to be amused. Since there was no baby on the ground I began seeing stars and didn't want to know what was going on. But then I caught a glimpse of her - of R - she was looking up and to the side not seeing anything but clearly concentrating on something...for a second her brows pulled together and she said, not really out loud, "Hum... well these legs don't belong with this head...."

And then I could see what she was seeing in her minds eye. This girl, this young woman, this teenager was kneeling beside her goat, with her arm inside that creature up to her elbow and carefully untangling the babies. It was stunning.

Pretty soon out came one baby goat...and then the next. They were fine, they were better than fine, they were lively and happy. The momma goat was lively and happy. Me.. well.. not so lively and a little green around the gills. I was covered in straw, poo, and who knows what... R finally stood up she had exactly one spot on her white tshirt. She was smiling and completely unfazed. I went home shaking a little and started drinking.

If it wasn't for R I don't think that momma goat would have made it. And the baby goats certainly wouldn't have survived. If it was left up to me I would have had to get the gun and the shovel. There was no way I could have done that work that R did without even blinking.

I'm not sure that R knows how incredible she is, so I'm gonna tell her. R, baby, you are perfect and amazing and incredible and beautiful. You can go anywhere and do anything.  Everything you are is more than enough for anything you want to be. I think you are perfect and I hope you know that we love you very much.

Happy Thursday everyone! I hope you are lucky enough to have an R in your life!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Big Dog Snuggle Day

Tuesday was Big Dog Snuggle Day.....

Dog#1 needed a lot of snuggles...

He had to stay over nite at the vet and I got him back Tuesday morning.

Pretty much we just laid on the floor and snuggled. He's fine. I'm recovering. We should both be back to full speed in a few days.

Titan went to visit the extremely good dog dentist for some work. An old mouth injury was acting up - probably because of a new tooth problem. They got him all fixed up but he's a little loopy from the drugs. The good news is that the rest of his teeth are just fine.  This was a huge worry for some time and now we can all rest easy. And we'll be doing a lot of snuggling.

Happy Wednesday everyone! Are you snuggling your big dog?

Monday, April 9, 2012

Fencing The Line

We've been working on the new fence line that will become the new dog moat. Its coming along slowly but surely.
See that the new fence line is outside the existing line by 6 or 8 feet. Dog Moat!

We got the rest of the metal tposts pounded in this weekend. We're using 6 ft heavy duty tposts beat into the ground with a tpost pounder like this. This big metal thingy fits over the end of the tpost then you use the handles to whack the post securely into the ground. This tool is really heavy so don't bonk yourself on the head with it. Don't ask me how I know this.

I love that rail road tie at the end. I'm gonna paint it bright pink and put a disco ball on top of it.

We ran the fence line about a foot inside our property line. The line was determined by placing a post at the right spot (12" on our side from the property marker) at each end of the line.  Then we marked it by tying special surveyors string (its bright pink and is extra heavy) on one post and running it to another post 12" inside of the property marker at the opposite end. We pulled it tight and then voila! A straight line!  Then it was just a matter of pounding the posts in so they barely touched the string.

The property marker is to the left of the green post, the rail road tie is on our side, then we measured to make sure we tacked in the string so it was about 12 inches from the actual marker.

The next steps are to install another rail road tie at the bottom end of the fence line and then to string the field fence along all those posts.  We put the tposts about 10 ft apart (measured, of course).  We got them at TSC in bundles of 5 for about $25.  We had some posts but so far that stupid neighbor's dog has cost me a couple hundred bucks in posts alone. See why I'm all hacked off? 

Anyway. I can't wait to get this project completed - its gonna be great to have a dog run for the Dog Horde to goof around in during the day. The chickens won't be able to get in - at least not the smart ones - and the dogs will be right near me when I work in the upper garden and not "helping" me which is more like "get in the way and pee on everything." And having the dogs in the Moat will make it harder for intruders to get into our yard.  Especially when Zander gives them his big boy bark..... (Warning: Poodle owners might want to send their dogs out of the room. You know who you are....)

 That's my good boy! Woof!

That's the progress so far. We are going to have a weird schedule this week. But hopefully we'll get this done soon. In addition to fencing fencing and more fencing we have two other crucial items on our to do list. First we need to have Rooster Day. The roos are really going after the hens aggressively and I'm afraid one of the ladies will get hurt. Also - there is a lot of crowing going on. We are looking forward to a quiet and more respectable barnyard.

Next, we need to send the rest of the creepy meats to the freezer. We only have 7 left and we should be able to take care of them pretty quick - especially since we'll have a couple of cool days coming up. Much better weather than trying to "dress" chickens when its hot.

That's our story - how's your week shaping up? Whatcha working on?

Happy Monday! Now get out there and run some fence!

Friday, April 6, 2012

The Blubbering Bubby Breakdown

It may come as a shock to you that I have a tendency to become.. shall we say... theatrical. My temperament runs from slaphappy to fiery rage and can turn on a dime. But I rarely am given to fits of tears or hysteria. My people consider this weakness so I rarely indulge in such things. So it is with this in mind that one of you, who shall remain nameless, recently reminded me that I kind of glossed over some of the facts of Zander's, aka The Bubby, retrieval from the vet when he had his baby teeth removed.

You want the real story? Fine. Full confession, you got it.

The truth is we left at first light to make the long drive past civilization to the doggie dentist to get Zander that sunny and crisp Saturday morning. We were told that we could pick him anytime before noon. We left the farm before the roosters were up. I was cool as a cucumber the whole way up and only spoke to tell The Big Man to hurry up and drive faster. We got there in record time.

To be fair the car was mostly stopped when I lept out at the door of the vet's spectacular facility. I might have pushed an old lady down as I stormed in thru their double doors and made my way to the check in counter.

"I'm here for Zander!" I announced as The Big Man finally walked in thru the front doors after parking. "Where is my Bubby? I'm here. Tell him his momma is here."  I drummed my fingers on the counter as the incredibly kind receptionist turned to say hello.

Just at that second the vet came walking up, big smile her on face, and greeted me on that fine morning. She causally looked up from her charts and said in a careless tone, "Oh didn't you get our message? He's not ready yet. Zander will have to stay...with....us...."

To be sure, I'm pretty joke-y around-y with most folks and we'd had a fun time with the vet when we dropped Zander off the day before. So it was not a surprise that she wanted to continue the funnin' around. Our poor vet. In one horrible instant she realized she has overplayed her hand. She went white."Oh .. no no no..." She tried to tell me it was just a joke.

There was about a half a second when my mouth was open, my face twisted with agony, but no sound came out. And then it happened. I cracked. The look on my face must have been priceless.

I started wailing as I collapsed across the check in counter. "The Bubby!  My Bubby! I NEEEEEEEEEEEEEED my Bubby!"  ..... Followed by huge heaving sobs.

The Big Man was mortified..

I slowly slid down the front of the check in counter until I was hanging on only by my fingertips and was mostly on the floor. I was crying uncontrollably. Out of the corner of my eye I saw The Big Man try to walk out the door like he didn't know me. Traitor.

Everyone in the waiting room was holding their breath and recoiling at that crazy lady who obviously needed help.

Suddenly the vet staff sprang to action. Several vet techs ran in my direction as the vet tried to tell me that Zander was just fine, that he was right here...and then she turned and ordered someone to bring him out right now.

My wailing continued. "My Bu-u-u-bbbbbb-yyyyyyyyyyyyy......."

I vaguely remember two techs taking me, one under each arm, actually dragging me with my little limp feet trailing uselessly behind me to what my friend SD calls the "cry room." Usually its where they take people who are about to get bad news. Not for people who are there to get their perfectly fine pup.

The techs fluttered like flies around me but as soon as they brought Zander thru the door I shook off their attentions and hurled myself toward the perfect fine pup. Slobbering kisses. Snuggles. Wiggling. Oh and yeah.. Zander was happy to see me too and did the same thing.

After about an hour they declared me.. and Zander...fit for travel. From there, well you know the rest of the story. We triumphantly returned home and The Bubby made a full recovery. He's now right as rain and is only out of sorts when he's having a "growing" day. This adult teeth came in perfectly.

And that's what happened. We'll be seeing that vet again here sometime soon. I'm pretty sure they are gonna get that special room ready for me. I should probably just tell them to a bottle of tequila ready.

Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Garden and Farm Notes and Dog Chores

I need to get a few things down for my record keeping....

* This bed has two rows of Yukon Gold, a row of livestock beets, and 2 rows of purple onions.
* Along the fence line on the north-east side are a row of Yukon Gold, and some random taters from the store that sprouted.
* I planted broccoli and cabbage starts on April 2.
* I planted a small patch of buckwheat - where the tomatoes will go - by the old apple trees. My idea is to let the buckwheat grow out until about mid-May, then till in, wait 2 weeks, then transplant tomatoes there. Need to remember to put some calcium there also.
* Moved the rhubarb from the hillside to under the maple in the front.
* We seeded the big hill on April 4 with grass seed. The chickens love it.
* Apple trees, catmint, and that weird invasive mint all blooming. Dogwoods have started to pop also. Dandelions also blooming - beez are happy!

* Turkey hens have been cooped up for the last 5 days - have 2 good eggs and darn they broke another. TurkZilla is in a rage at being separated from the ladies.
* Need to take up most of Cindy Lou Goose's nest lest we have about a billion baby geese (OFG's dream come true....)
* Hens are laying like mad, several of the ladies want to brood. Ducks are also laying like crazy.
* Debbie needs an attitude adjustment. She's all bossy and pushy because Nibs has become the #1 Goat. Debbie is dry as a bone so she doesn't get the royal treatment. Nothing but consternation in Goat-ville.

* Zander is as big as a dump truck and has a head as big as a bucket. We can't shake the nickname "BucketHead" - you know who you are.

Dog#1 has been on light duty for the last couple of days because he has a big cut on his paw pad. So Kai has been helping me with chores. She is doing a great job and she really wants that rat in the hen house. I want her to catch it. However, she needs some work on her herding skills. *insert mocking laughter here* (This is funny because, as a hunter, she has zero instinctive herding skills.)

Some folks have asked me how I get the dogs to work with me. Truthfully, I dunno.. its kinda hard to explain. So I thought I'd take some notes.

Two nights ago I had Kai come with me into the goat yard. Mostly she just wiggles around and looks for rats or moles. But I wanted her to help me get the out-of-their-minds-ridiculous goats into the hen house. Dahlia walked right up to Kai and started sniffing her. Kai looked at me, knowing that chasing, harassing, biting, or killing any of those meat bags is a serious offense. Dahlia and Debbie stood shoulder to shoulder with their ridges up.

I kept Kai behind me and gestured and told her to "stay back" and pointed where I wanted her to go. She shadowed me as I herded to the goats in. I kept saying, "lets get them in" so she knew what I was doing. There was a lot of goats running around but Kai did not break formation - even tho I could tell that she wanted to make a move for them.  It took a while but we eventually got the goats in. 

Last nite the goats were even more out of their minds. (Note to self: I need a bad ass herd queen to get these girls in line. Previously it was Vita or Sunny...Debbie does not have good leadership qualities F- for her). So I went and got Titan.

Ti and Kai came into the goat yard with me. As predicted Dahlia skipped down to Kai to give her the business and all the goats got their ridges up. Zander screamed from the deck that he wanted to play too.

For over a year we've been teaching Kai to "leave it" and now we need to teach her when she can use her dog-ness to get the job done. To be sure, if I left her alone with those goats and when in the house I would come out later to find her standing over their dead bodies. This is careful work. We need her to use her hunting skills - to a  point - then stop and retreat. Now that we are confident that we can get her to stop... we need to ease her into "get it."

"Ti! Get those stupid goats in!" Said I, loudly and firmly and with some hand gestures indicating he should "go around" and "scoot them in."

Just so's ya know.. Titan doesn't waste time with nippin' at their heels. Then....

Nothing but the sound of goats hooves running as they made a beeline for their house. The enormous white dog trotted masterfully behind them. He was a vision.

Kai stood there slack jawed and buggy eyed. The "WHAT? We can DO that?!?!" Look on her face was priceless.

Tonite's chores should be quite a show.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

How to Bottle Feed Baby Goats or "Be The Udder"

It is a fact that I am the meanest person you know. If you don't believe me then ask any of them *OFG points to Dog Horde and Insane Cat Possee - all of which avoid eye contact except for Zander who still thinks that his momma is the best thing since sliced bread*.  Cold hearted, tough as nails, impervious to sad eyes and weepy little tears - that's me. And that is why I can bottle feed any baby goat.

"Be The Udder"

Its true. If you are gonna start bottle feeding baby goats you need to take a few lessons from the Klingon Book of Management to get the job done. I'm always surprised at some goat sites that talk about how "heartbreaking" it is to take the baby goats from their momma and how difficult it is to feed them with a bottle. Apparently, for some, there is a lot of crying involved. Not here. Any bellyaching around here is met with a sharp reprimand and a reminder that "hay is for milkers" and to get back to work. So I don't get what the big deal is - so far so good for us.

What feeding baby goats looks - and sounds like. Hilarious!

Baby goats are "pulled" from their mommas for a couple reasons:
1. To keep certain diseases from spreading from the mommas to the babies thru the milk.
2. Because the babies will be sold before they are weaned.
3. Some people believe that bottle raised, and not "dam raised" (momma-raised), babies are more snugly.

Of course as with anything to do with goats there is a ton of controversy about the "right way" to bottle feed goats. If you really want to start a brawl, ask goat people about their nipples. There could be a fist fight. I'm not even kidding. So do your research and figure out what works for you. There are lots of goat sites that have tons of information about how to raise baby goats. I'm not saying this is the best or only way - but it works for us.

When it was clear Nibbles wasn't going to feed this year's babies either, the store manager wasn't altogether surprised when it was me running into the local TSC screaming that I had "a nipple crisis" and needed quick attention. He kindly directed me to a shockingly big display case of about 47 different kinds of nipples. Most of them were extremely expensive.

Puppy bottles - works like a charm. And look! Its me!

"Six Dollars? Is that American or Canadian, friend?" I asked. For one nipple? I was bewildered. I turned to my able retail king and asked what else he had.  After a while I found myself standing in the dog accoutrement aisle looking at puppy bottles - the whole enchilada, nipple and bottle was about $3. I grabbed a handful of them and raced back home. (You can also order them online I found the PetAg Complete Nursing Kit 4oz here.)

We knew that all the babies had some sips off Nibbles the first day so we did not need to give them colostrum or replacer. We just needed to get the bellies full of good ol' goat milk. While it seems like a lot of work to voluntarily milk your doe, put the milk in bottles, then feed it to babies who'd rather get their meals from that tap - thats exactly what was about to happen.

The steps are pretty basic:
1. Milk your doe until she is empty
2. Take the milk into the house and strain it
3. Pour milk into bottles and immediately go out to battle.. I mean bottle feed.
4. March boldly out to where the babies are (cuz they are not in the house, right?)
5. Insert Tab A into Slot B and away you go.

We kept the extra milk in the fridge in wide mouthed jars. For the next feeding we just microwaved the milk in the bottles until it was warm and then repeated steps #4 and #5.

How often to feed?
Well that depends. Do you work or are you home during the day? We believe, for all of the masses, that little creatures should be fed a little but more often. So for the first several days I bottle fed the baby goats about 5 times. I also gave "half feeds" or snacks if I thought they needed it. After about a week we settled into a pattern of 7am, 10am, sometime in the afternoon - usually about 2, and then 7:30pm.

How do you get them to take the bottle?
Now, from the perspective of a baby goat...if some huge, two legged creature is trying to shove some kind of weird, odd smelling, contraption in your mouth - you can imagine that it might freak them out. So my #1 Rule for Bottle Feed Baby Goats is.... Be The Udder.

Hunker down so they can find the bottle

That's right - Be The Udder. Hunker down, friend, get low, don't pick that baby up - get down on her level. She's looking for legs because that's where the udder usually is. Next, you might have to squeeze out some milk and put it on the nipple so it doesn't smell so weird. And when we get started I make sure that the milk can easily get out of the bottle - the babies may give up trying to drink if it doesn't work right away.

You might have to pry open that little goat's mouth to shove the nipple in - just be sure that you get it on top of her tongue. For whatever reason - I don't know since the only thing I've ever nursed is a hangover - if you point the nipple back and to the top if her mouth, she'll be stimulated to start drinking. Be careful now, you don't want her to aspirate ("get down the wrong pipe") the milk. You want her to actively drink from the bottle and suck it down.

See how she wraps her tongue around the bottle? How cute is that?

Once she gets the hang of it she'll start dancing around and start "bumping" you - this is how babies get the momma goats to "let down their milk." At this point you can start singing "Who wants some bumps?" which is guaranteed to add in your bottle feeding success. Just sing it along, roughly to the tune of "Who let the dogs out."  They love it.

There is a lot of goofing around that happens

You can adjust the angle of the bottle to help the baby drink - but remember that the momma's teat hang straight down. The babies will naturally want to get under the bottle and even kneel down. So don't over adjust - part of her wiggling around is just that she's happy.

How much should you feed?
Well, that depends on the size of your goat. One of the funniest things that happens is their little bellies visibly get full and swell. You sure don't want them to get sick or over feed! There are charts and graphs available online for your breed of goat. We feed them until they stand there a little dazed with a milk mustache and a funny look in their eye - that's what we call being milk drunk. Its adorable.

They'll shake off their milk drunk and start pippin' and poppin' around in a couple minutes. The puppy bottles held about 8 ounces - which was perfect for our mini's - I think we started out with 4 to 6 ounces and worked our way up to 8 or more.

What if they are still hungry?
Then feed them more the next time. You really don't want to over feed the babies - but they should not stand there screaming as you walk away.

What else do the babies need to eat or drink?
Nothing. Their rumens (goat digestive system) won't be developed enough to handle bagged food or hay for a while. And they don't need water either - for heavens sakes don't leave them with a bucket of water that they can drown in.

But what if you are the person getting the baby goat? And you don't have a momma goat from them to nurse off?  Easy peasy.  My pal K. gave me an incredible "how to" for new baby goat owners. This is her information on how to bottle feed baby goats. See that she says to use regular milk from the store if you don't have goat milk. Thanks K!

Feeding Schedule  *this is meant as a general guide, some babies will need more*

1st week~ 4 feedings per day, 2-4 oz. per feeding for small goats and 4-6 oz for large goats, colostrum for the first 24 hours!

2nd week to 8 weeks ~ 3 feedings per day, 5-12 oz. per feeding for small goats and 6-20 oz for large goats, you will be gradually building up to the larger amount of milk

8+ weeks ~ 1 or 2 feedings per day, 10-12 oz. per feeding for small goats and 15-20 oz for larger goats, gradually reducing the amount in the bottle until weaning is complete

*we aim for about 1 oz. per lb body weight for the 1st 3 weeks*

We recommend using Whole Vitamin D Cow’s Milk from the grocery to bottle feed your baby. At 4 weeks of age, we add .5 cc’s of Poly-Vi-Sol to a bottle every day for additional vitamins and minerals.

Always warm the milk to about 102* (a little warmer than you would for a human baby) – a baby goat cannot digest cold milk. The microwave is fine for this, but make sure to shake the bottle before feeding it to eliminate hot spots in the milk. You should start introducing water, hay and goat feed around 4 weeks of age. They probably will do little more than play with it at first, but they will eventually get the idea about solid foods.

Kids usually will drink only until they are full. If they are usually drinking a 12 oz bottle and for one feeding they only drink 6 oz, that is ok. Be careful not to overfeed them. Don't give them more than 12 oz per bottle for the small goats and 20 oz per bottle for the large goats.

So what do you think, folks? Are you ready to run right out there and feed some baby goats?

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Are you looking for a great reference for how to raise dairy goats? Check out Storey's Guide to Raising Dairy Goats: Breeds, Care, Dairying!

If you can't find the puppy bottles locally you can find there here online:

Editor's note: Check it out - these are associate links to my Amazon store. You can see all my favorite books and tools here. If you order something thru my Amazon store, from one of the links on this page, or the black Amazon search box on the right side of this page I'll get a tiny percentage of the sale. If you like this blog, or if I've helped you at all in your farming efforts, just make a purchase from Amazon to show your support. Thanks!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

I think the pears made it....

Monday was a glorious day!

I think the pears made it.....

And the blueberry blossoms seem to be doing ok....

Would you look at these apple blossoms!

This is what worked like on Monday. Me and Little Red tooled around the upper garden lime-ing it up.

Happy Tuesday everyone!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Good Fences Make Good Dogs

There's a couple things we don't understand about this part of the world - one of them is why people move out to the country and let their dogs run loose. Guess what we are doing this week?

If you get dogs, get this too. I'm tired of fencing out your dog.

I think that folks see these wide opens spaces and they imagine their Mr. Woofy running free with the wind in his hair...not imagining for a minute that Mr. Woofy is in my damn yard and chasing my chickens. Friends, I tell you the truth, the biggest threat to your flocks isn't slinking coyotes, foxy vixens, or terror from the sky - its your neighbor's damn dog. Or your damn neighbor's dog, depending on how you look at it.

Many a sad owner has shown up to find their dog, newly expired by GSW, in their neighbor's chicken yard and there is always the same whine, "But he'd never DO that." Might want to take a look at the feather's in his mouth, son. Just sayin'.

Nothing makes you as hat throwing mad as coming home to find someone's dog ripping your best laying hen to pieces. Standing there over her broken body, thinking about how it will take months to raise up new chicks to replace her, you kinda loose all that softheartedness that you might have once had.

The fact is - its not just a chicken. Its your life. Its your food. Its how you make your way in the world. I'm pretty sure you wouldn't think it was very funny if I barged into your home and grabbed then ruined a bunch of your food from your refrigerator or pantry. In fact, you'd call the cops.

What about animal control? Friend, the only animal control out here is "SSS."   Do you new folks know what this is?

Shoot. Shovel. Shut up.

I'm not even kidding. Personally I like the old trick of taking the dog to the pound two counties over.  If the owner is smart enough to find their dog they'll have to pay to get him out of the hoosegow.  But not everyone is as tender hearted as we are.

I had a new-to-the-country person tell me that shooting a livestock killing dog couldn't possibly be allowed by law. Well, in many rural areas it is. And yes people do this. But even where it isn't allowed by law, folks just grab the shovel and dig a shallow grave and shrug when asked if they've seen a dog around. That's what folks mean when they say "SSS."

The best line I've heard was from one ol' boy who's bad neighbor finally came looking for his chicken killing dog. The guy meets the dog's owner at the property line and says, "Sure I've seen your dog. The last time I saw him he was headed for the woods chasing my chickens. I sure hope he's alright."

You can imagine how that ended. So if you move to the country, let your dog run loose, and he doesn't come home one night, well you only really have yourself to blame.

We don't let our dogs run loose. If we did - and you were our neighbor - you'd pee your pants. And when I saw "pee your pants" I mean that some other kind of excrement would be soiling your trousers, if you take my meaning. So we don't understand folks who think this is OK. In fact it makes us kinda cross. I can't even tell how many hundreds of dollars we've spent on fencing someone else's dog out of our yard. Actually I could tell you I'm just too mad to think about it.

We know someone who moved to the country and lets their unaltered male dog run loose. Sure, all they think they are doing is 'letting him out for a while' but their yard isn't fenced and sometimes that dog comes back....and sometimes it takes a while before he shows back up. I can't imagine a more stupid idea. You just gotta know that somewhere nearby someone's show dog, Grand Champion Dame Schmutyz Von Vienerschnitzel, is having an unintended litter of short legged, curly headed doodlehunds.

This weekend we bought the last roll of field fence we needed for the dog moat on the north side of our property. Sunday we installed the railroad tie that stands as our monument to "Keep your stupid dog out of our yard" at the extreme front edge by the road.

The new fence is also there to keep people from driving their freakin' 4wheelers across our yard. Lets just say we had an incident with the same folks who couldn't control their beagle and leave it at that.  My attorney, actually her assistant, has the full written record of the events. And I have pictures. For once I'd like to say that I was not the name-caller in the hubbub, I'm kind proud of that.  

Anyway. That's the long and short of it. I'll be headed to TSC the first thing to get more tposts. You know what we'll be doing all week.

Anybody else have someone else's dog in their yard and mad about it? For heavens sakes you'd think that people would at least like their dog enough to keep it safe, even if they don't understand that responsible owners should keep their dog out of their neighbor's yard.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Why I'm happy today - Little Red!

Isn't she a beaut!?!  Meet Little Red... my new favorite thing!

Nothing is worse than having the wrong tools for the job. For the last couple seasons I've been doing hard labor with a professional construction sized wheelbarrow and it just hasn't worked out very well. With me being as short as I am, having an extra heavy wheelbarrow just makes it all the harder to trolly around a load of gravel.

So I finally got off my wallet and paid that $35 to have all my problems solved with this little gem. She handles like a dream. Sure I gotta make a few more trips because of the smaller carrying capacity. But its easier than doing one huge load.

For today's sunny Sunday I'm hauling gravel, mucking out the hen house, and sweeping out the goat yard with my new favorite tool Any body else having a grand old time?

Happy Sunday everyone!
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