One Goat Becomes Two Goats

The plan was to just have one goat for milk, plus the flock of sheep.  That was the plan last fall when we decided to get a milk goat, and then we ended up with two.  It was also the plan when those two didn’t work out and we found a new goat to replace them.  But, alas, apparently we are meant to have two goats, not just one.

Our new (planned to be the only) goat, Fern, arrived Wednesday afternoon and was definitely a bit put-off by the sheep.  But we figured she would settle in as the previous goats have.  But by Friday she had stopped eating completely, was constantly pacing the barnyard crying, and was downright miserable.  We took her temp and called the vet and we all determined it was stress and loneliness, not some illness.  What to do?  What to do?  We tried tempting her to eat with all sorts of yummy offerings, but she still wouldn’t eat.

The concern with ruminants (animals who have a rumen-based digestive system, includes cows, goats, sheep, etc) is that if they stop eating the bacteria in their rumen gets out of whack and their rumen stops working.  Once it stops working they can’t digest anymore and will die.  So ruminants can’t go long without eating, you need to keep the rumen going.  The vet said if she didn’t eat by Saturday morning we needed to call him back.

We called the breeder and all decided the answer was that she needed a goat friend.  We could send her back, but we really want a milk goat.  So, to make a long story short, we bought her 2-year-old daughter and put her with her Friday late afternoon.

It was quite adorable because they were rubbing all over each other like cats and Fern definitely seemed happier.  By dinner Friday they both were munching happily on some hay.

The kids named our new goat addition Clover.  She is currently milking, so we have even more fresh milk, which is nice.

So, yet again, the plan of one goat turned into two.  Two new goats in a couple days time.  But two milking goats is better than none, and sometimes our plans don’t go as we expected.  Always an adventure!

Homestead Update

Farm life and regular life continues to keep us very busy…too busy to post much lately.  Let’s see if I can catch you up on some of it.

The County Fair is closing in on us faster than we can get ready.  The kids all have their 4H projects for fair, and several of us are also entering things in the open class.  We are excited, but also a little rushed to complete everything this year.

Garden

The garden is going so well this year!  The vegetables that have done not-as-well in previous years are doing very well this year, and most of the veggies that normally do very well are still doing very well this year.  The three veggies not doing as well this year are carrots, lettuce, and spinach.  The carrots are not doing well because I used some seeds I had saved and apparently they didn’t get saved properly because they had terrible germination.  And the lettuce and spinach aren’t doing well because one of the drip lines broke and they didn’t get the water they needed.

 

The cabbages are absolutely loving the pest control tents, and the compost-filled place they were planted.  Normally, we don’t harvest cabbage until September, and even then they are only about 1.5 lbs each.  We have already started the cabbage harvest and they are all in the 3-lb range, with the biggest being 3.5!  There are still several that are not ready yet, which is good because we don’t really want all of them at the same time.  We will be making a big batch of kraut in the fermenting crock this week with these cabbages.

We harvested our first beet as well – again, normally we don’t harvest beets until later in the year.

We have been getting a handful or more of strawberries each day for a couple of weeks now.  They are so delicious!  Very sweet and juicy.  And bigger than previous years by far.  A few are growing some strange shapes that are fun for the kids.

We had quite an aphid infestation on the currant bushes, and it was spreading to the tomatoes as well.  We decided to try ladybugs, which we had never tried before.  We got a cup that said it had over 1,500 in it and put them by the infested plants during a cool/cloudy time of day per the instructions.  It really helped with the infestation and we are happy with the results.

The three-year-old grapevine is doing extremely well this year.  It is vining all over the lattice and has numerous clumps of grapes on it.  As long as the critters don’t steal any, I expect we will have a great harvest of grapes this year as well.

The peas are doing much better this year than in previous years as well.  We have harvested mostly snap so far, but the shelling peas are coming along well too and should be ready very soon.  All the tomatoes are flowering and the earliest one has some tiny green fruit on it already.  The beans are growing so fast that each time we go out in the morning we can actually see the difference in size.

We left the WOWs on the squash, pumpkins, and melons longer than usual, which helped keep them a bit warmer and protected them from the June hail storms.  A couple of WOWs are still on.  So the pumpkin patch is looking very good this year and we are hopeful for a good harvest there as well.

We should have some zucchini ready very soon.

The Red Kuri squash leaves curl in on the edges, which looks really cool.

Chickens

Three weeks ago I put some hatching eggs I bought under our little silkie hen, Eve, so she could set and raise some chicks.  She is currently hatching them out, we have seen two chicks so far and she still has two viable eggs left.

New Goat

We tried to sell our old milk goat, Gretchen, since she can’t be bred again.  But not many people are looking for an old nanny goat that can’t be bred, so after trying for a month we decided we just needed to butcher her.  We will use the meat for dog food.

Our new milk goat, Fern, arrived at the farm this week.  She is a registered Nubian with excellent udder confirmation and is very easy to milk.  She is currently fresh.  We are glad to be back into milking and having fresh milk.

LGDs

Anya has an interesting habit of burying her food before she eats it.  She uses her nose to push whatever is available over the food and the dish.  Then she paces around, then digs it up and eats it.  It is very cute.  She is continuing to do well with her training and excel as a guardian dog.  She is doing well with all the animals now, including the chickens.  We still are not leaving her alone with them yet, since she is only a year and the lambs are not full size yet, but whenever we are out and can keep an eye on things we put her with the livestock and when we are not around she is in the back pen by herself and can interact with them through the fence.

Tundra, our head LGD, is not doing so well.  He is 12 and 1/2 years old now and his age is getting the best of him.  I don’t think he has long left.  He has been such an amazing guardian dog all these years and truly loves doing his job.  We are hoping for an easy and peaceful passing for him.  It is going to be very hard on the family, but there is nothing that can be done about it.  I often wish dogs lived longer.

Knitting

I always knit socks, sleeves, and mittens two-at-a-time because I hate having to do another one after I have just finished one.  Well, for the first time ever I learned why it might be beneficial to only do one-at-a-time.  I was almost done with both sleeves for Mr. Smiles’ sweater and then I realized that I had done the increases wrong and had to completely take them out.  Taking out and re-doing two is definitely more work than just one.  😦

But I got them fixed and am about half done with them again.  I can’t wait to assemble this sweater!  It is so cute with the cables up the front.

That brings you up-to-date about most of the going-ons around the homestead!  I will leave you with a picture of the beautiful wildflowers that are blooming along the path to the barn.  There were even more of them in bloom a week ago, but you can still see how pretty they are.

Sunday Homestead Update

Feels like summer around here!  Beautiful sunny days, early afternoon showers, and cool, fresh evenings.  We are enjoying all our regular summer activities – gardening, animals, popsicles, sprinklers, hiking, crafts, farm projects, reading, visitors, outings….etc.

Garden

June is the time of year for hail in the Rockies.  Knowing this, I have left my WOWs on the tomato and squash plants longer than necessary just to try to protect them from the hail as long as possible.  This week we had a doozie of a storm, and thankfully there was very little garden damage because of the WOWs, plus the pest control fabric over the cabbage, lettuce, spinach, turnips, and beets.  We were home when it happened, so we ran outside and threw sheets over the strawberry patch, the few tomatoes that were unprotected, and the celery.  So almost everything was spared from the storm.  The rhubarb and beans did sustain a lot of damage, as well as many of the herb seedlings we had just put out into the garden.  Thankfully we still have several herb seedlings indoors under the grow lights.  We will put them out in a few weeks when the major hail danger has passed.

Thankfully, somehow the grapevines didn’t get hurt.  I think the angle of the hail was slanted enough that the patio roof protected them.  The older vine is doing SO well this year.  It has about 50 flower clusters on it.  Hopefully, some of those will turn into grapes for us.  Our goal for the younger vine is just for it to grow and spread this year, it is still very small and not doing as well as the older one.

I love the purple chive flowers each year – so pretty!

The cabbage are all very happy in their tent tunnels.  The fabric and arches for the tunnels have been quite an annoyance and need constant upkeep, but they seem to be helping thus far and they definitely protected them from the hail damage.

Heritage Arts

The girls and I decided to clean out and organize the craft room.  In the process we found several half-finished projects and a lot of mending.  So we set to work on all of it.  I am teaching Little Miss how to use the sewing machine, and she wanted to make curtains for her playhouse, so we did that.  We mended several pairs of pants and a couple of shirts.  We finished the last of the Spring/Easter cloth placemat and napkin set.  And now we are left with two bigger projects that we are working on.

First, we are making some cloth bibs for Mr. Smiles.  I will post more about that this week.

The second project has to do with some leftover scraps from the cloth placemats we made.  When we cut the corners off the placemats we were left with a lot of fabric triangles.  We didn’t want to just throw them away so we have been piecing them together and have been putting together different pattern ideas to make them into hot pads/trivets to go on the table under hot dishes.  It will be nice because they will match the placemat/napkin sets for each season.

Hopefully we will get those done this week.

In addition, we have found a new hobby (like we needed another hobby!) – Needle Felting.  Sunshine was the first one to have interest in it, but now Little Miss, Braveheart, and I have joined in the fun.  I bought this kit from the Felted Dog and made this cute Christmas ornament.

Chickens

The cockerels are 17 weeks this weekend, which is usually when we butcher them.  But we decided to wait another week because a couple of the ones we need to butcher are a little smaller than we hoped.  We did assess them all (there are 8) and begin the process of deciding which will become the future breeding rooster for the flock.

LGDs

Anya has now accomplished the next step in her training – she has been allowed to meet the chickens off-leash and spend time with them in the barnyard.  We still wont leave her alone with them for awhile since she is only a year old and still has some puppy behavior, but so far she has shown no signs of wanting to hurt them and has done very well hanging out with them.

Tundra’s Defy the Fly collar is definitely losing its potency already.  It has only been a week and the flies are beginning to get at his ears again.  They have also added his nose to the menu since it is farther away from the deterrent collar.  We still have the collar on him and have also been rubbing some human spray bug repellent on him to boost the fly control.  The flies are just terrible this year already, much worse than normal for our area.  They are bothering the goat and even the sheep.  We have never had the flies go after the sheep before.

The Fiber Mill

The Mill has been getting very busy, which is such a wonderful blessing.  Mtn Man is making all sorts of amazing yarns and fun blends.  He has been working with Navajo Churro and several other types of wool, Alpaca, and Goat Mohair.  Some of the blends include silk, bison, and merino into a few of the Alpaca and Mohair yarns.  So many options…so much fun!

 

Sunday Homestead Update

Garden

We had wonderfully warm weather this week, which was very much appreciated after the snow last week.  Everything is starting to green up and grow like crazy.

The warmer weather helped get some things done around here.  Most of the garden is planted now, with the seedlings inside their protective Wall-o-Waters and frost fabric tunnels.  I am also trying a new season extender option this year – they are called plant accelerators.  They are similar to the WOWs, but there is not water involved and they are bigger and can stay on the plant longer.  I bought three of them for the trial, if they work well we will get more in the future.

Pretty much all that is left are the things that can’t be planted until after the average last frost, which for us is still another month away.

Barn Cat Issues

We love having bird houses and feeders and attracting birds to our property.  We have quite a colony of violet-green swallows that return each year and help keep the bug population under control around the farm – which we are very grateful for.

The problem we are having is that one of our barn cats, Midnight, is an avid hunter and literally the most athletic cat we have ever seen or owned.  He can jump and climb in ways that seem impossible and we are always amazed and shocked when we see him move and how agile he is.  The other two cats are just basic barn cats, who do great at catching rodents and such but don’t go out of their way to do crazy stunts or catch birds.

These skills make Midnight quite the bird predator.  He can catch them in mid air as they fly by, as well as climb the trees and get to their nests.  Every time we see him with one we catch him and take it away from him – whether it is dead or alive we take it away because we are trying to teach him to leave them alone.  Last summer this “training” seemed to be helping.

Because of him last year we took down all our bird feeders and just left up the bird houses because we didn’t want to lure the birds to their death.  We trimmed all the branches around a couple of the bird houses, to see if it would help because he couldn’t sit on them to get to the bird house.  The problem is that he is so athletic that he just climbs the trunk and sticks his paw right in the house while clinging to the trunk.

Last year we hung several bird houses on the side of the mill building, this worked great because he definitely can’t climb the wall to get to them.  But we still have a lot of houses on trees that the birds love and we need to find a way to keep him from them.

So our latest attempt at thwarting him is to put sheet metal around the trunks just below the birdhouses.  We picked a type that will rust, which I think will look nice and blend in with the trunk.  We put them up this week, since the swallows have returned and are beginning to nest.  Time will tell if he is athletic enough to figure out how to get around them.  But for now, the birdhouses are safe.

It is a hard spot to be in, we need the barn cats for rodent control, but we do’t want them to kill the birds.

Goat’s Milk Ice Cream

The warm weather made us feel summer-y and we decided to make our first ever goat’s milk ice cream.  I was able to skim the cream off the milk, albeit just a little bit off each jar since it naturally homogenizes.  It took several days, but we were able to get a quart of cream saved up and we made our basic ice cream recipe with it.  It was delicious!  And Braveheart and Little Miss, who can’t have cow’s milk, were able to enjoy some ice cream for the first time in a long time.

End of Lambing/Kidding Season 2017

Fiona was our last ewe due this year.  Her ultrasound put her due date eleven days ago, and we have been anxiously waiting and wondering what was taking so long.  Apparently she just had her own timing as she had a perfectly healthy delivery this morning.

We had bred her to a white BFL ram.  It was our first time trying out a BFL.  Fiona herself is also white.  The ultrasound said she had twins and she has been very large the last few weeks (though her wool makes it a bit hard to really tell), so we were expecting white lamb twins.  We were very surprised when the first feet began to appear and they were black.  And even more surprised when no second lamb followed after the first.

She gave a us one single, large, healthy, pewter-colored ram lamb!  His coloring is beautiful, with a dark silvery/grey body, black legs and head, and some pretty white and grey markings on his face.  He is a big boy, our biggest baby of the season.  His wool is longer than the wool of the other lambs (because of the BFL) and we are really excited to see how it turns out.  Fiona is a CVMxMerino and has very fine-wool.  So he is a BFL/CVM/Merino, which should be a cool combination and create a nice wool.

We finally got the ram lamb we have been anxiously hoping for!  After EIGHT females were born this year!  Whooohooo!  He will likely be our future flock sire.  But he was born too late in the year to breed this coming breeding season, so we will likely buy another ram as well to service the flock this season, and to give us another year breeding Fiona (his mother – since he can’t breed his mother).

He is up and nursing and doing well so far.  He is even doing a bit of bouncing and playing, which we don’t usually see in our lambs the first day.  So I would say he is strong and vigorous!

That finishes off lambing/kidding season for us.  It has been a wild ride this year, with many highs and lows.  Quite a rollercoaster of a season for us that started way back on February 14.  We had 4 goats kids born (one breech stillborn) and 5 lambs, and there were 8 females and 1 male.  The most babies we have ever had born in one season before this was 3, so 9 is a big jump in “production” for our little farm.  Quite an adventure!  We are beginning to discuss who will stay and who will go, but the final decisions wont be made for a couple of months at the earliest because we will leave all the lambs with their mothers until 10-12 weeks at least.  So for now we can just sit back, relax, and enjoy watching the bouncing babies in the barnyard.  😀