Friday, July 29, 2011

R.I.P.

Sometimes.... No matter how hard we try, or how much we love a living creature.... They still slip through our fingers like grains of sand, and that fragile thing called 'life' fades from our grasp....

 Yesterday evening, we lost dear, sweet Penny.... 


Since early July, I have been in hand to hand combat with a "mystery illness" that plagued my goats. A few other goat raisers in the area were complaining of the same thing, but no one, not even the vets, could figure out what this was. All of my adult goats got it, but the majority sprung back to their normal selves within 3-5 days. Except Capri and Penny...

 For some reason, they couldn't handle the stress of being sick, and spiraled down in to coccidiosis... Capri seems to be slowly making a recovery, but is still in a very precarious position. I thought Penny was doing better... Until I saw her yesterday afternoon.

 She was away from the herd, and curled up like a cat. She had lost all motor skills and could no longer swallow anything. The spark of life had gone from her eyes.... And she wanted to die. I pleaded with her to get up; to try and live... Her three week old babies cried softly, wanting to nurse. Penny just looked at us.

I decided that whether she was going to live or not, she couldn't do it where she was, in the far corner of the pasture; so I gently picked up her scant 100 lb. form and carried her towards the barn...


With tears, I cried out to God and asked for a sign of some sort. Should I keep on trying to save her, or was it her time? I rubbed Penny's back, and kept her company... Then an interesting thing happened. Every single animal on this small farm, came over and they all gathered around Penny. Right down to the 13 laying hens. Heidi, who has always hated Penny, lay right next to her. This probably lasted 15 minutes, and then in one accord every single animal left. Just like that. And I knew then, that Penny would not live to see the next day.....

 If I couldn't save her, I at least wanted to make her last moments as comfortable as possible. I cradled her head, massaged her with lavender oil, and sang 'Into The West'.

 And then, at the last... She just laid down.... And her heart stopped....

 Some dear friends of ours came over and helped us bury her....

And she is now in peace...


'Into The West'

Lay down
Your sweet and weary head
Night is falling
You’ve come to journey's end
Sleep now
And dream of the ones who came before
They are calling
From across the distant shore

Why do you weep?
What are these tears upon your face?
Soon you will see
All of your fears will pass away
Safe in my arms
You're only sleeping

[Chorus]
What can you see
On the horizon?
Why do the white gulls call?
Across the sea
A pale moon rises
The ships have come to carry you home

And all will turn
To silver glass
A light on the water
All souls pass

Hope fades
Into the world of night
Through shadows falling
Out of memory and time
Don't say: «We have come now to the end»
White shores are calling
You and I will meet again

And you'll be here in my arms
Just sleeping

[Chorus]

And all will turn
To silver glass
A light on the water
Grey ships pass
Into the West 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Introducing: Caprine Academy


Caprine Academy
Caprine: Latin genus name for 'Goat'. 
Academy: A school giving instruction in some science or art



Caprine Academy invites you to an all day workshop to increase your knowledge about goats!

Starting out with goats can be a huge challenge when the majority of today's goat knowledge comes from books. It can be hard to find the hands on experience that is usually needed when first beginning. Caprine Academy is a very humble place; just a barn filled with goats on 'Goat Song Farm', but here, you will get that hands-on experience that you need, and you will learn firsthand knowledge that will make life all the easier as you start out with goats. This is an all day workshop that covers a broad range of topics; you will have the chance to learn various skills, and ask any questions you may have.

Where:
Goat Song Farm. Sheridan, Oregon [address and directions sent when you sign up]

When: 
August 27th, 2011
9 am - 4 pm

Price:
$100 per person. OR $175 for two.
[materials and lunch included in cost]
If you would like to pay in advance to ensure a spot in the class, please e-mail me.

Materials needed:
Included in cost.

Lunch:
Included in cost, but you are always welcome to bring your own if you wish.

Topics covered in this workshop:
CHOOSING A GOAT: What to look for in a goat, conformation, health, ages, milking ability, and CAE/CL testing.

FEEDING: Different rations for each stage in life, amounts to feed, and mixing your own rations.

HAY: What kinds are best to use, what to look for, and how to judge good hay.

BREEDING: Age/weight to breed, heat cycles/symptoms, flushing, what to look for in a buck, buck care, hand breeding vs. field breeding, and care of doe during pregnancy.

HOOF CARE: parts of the hoof, how to trim hooves properly, hoof health, and tools recommended.


DEWORMING: What to use, when to do it, chemical drugs vs. herbal, fecal testing, symptoms of worms, and methods of deworming.

BASIC HERBAL REMEDIES: Herbs to have on hand, how to use herbs, dosages for goats, making your own blends, salves, and tinctures, and herbal remedies for basic illnesses such as worms, scours, mastitis, hoof rot, bloat and many more.

Please note that while the above listed classes are what we will plan for, time may limit what all can be covered. If you have any questions, or if you would like to sign up, please feel free to e-mail me HERE

Picture

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Just A Bunch of Crazy Goats







And that includes me!

Small Shadows



One evening, the human shadow stopped and looked at itself...

"I'm so small... How could anything as small and insignificant as me, do something in life that is worthwhile? Is it even worth trying to do something great in life, when there are so many that say you will fail?"

And the shadow watched its shoulders droop in despair.

Then a second shadow appeared from the left...

A very small chicken shadow...

And the chicken shadow looked up and said, "You are not small in my eyes; you are a towering giant! One who is capable of many things when you put your heart, mind and soul to it. So do not despair, you still have many things in life that can be done... If you try.

And with that, both shadows parted. Each one feeling a little happier than before.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Home At Last

See? I promised I would let y'all in on my secret on July 16th, and here I am!

 But before revealing my secret, a story must be told, and we have to go back 13 months ago....

 A friend of mine raises Nubian goats as well, and last year in June, we went to go buy  a 2 year old milker named Ivy. While there, I spotted the most beautiful little, eight week old, salt-and-pepper colored doeling. Her name was Pepper (you'll never guess how she got her name!), and she was for sale. Alas, I didn't have the money for her, so I reluctantly had to pass her up. But I wanted her so bad... There was a definite "click", between us, if you will. Or you could call it a bond, connection, or whatever; but it was there.

Time passed... 13 months to be exact... I had to take some kids over to my friend's house to have them dehorned last week, and after the deed was done, we went to visit her goats. I have to say, I really admire my friend's herd. She has somewhere around 20 Purebred Nubians, and they show the results of 12 years of patient work and breeding. We walked over to the pen that the yearlings were in. They were all munching on their hay, but upon seeing us, one yearling disentangled herself from the gangly mass of doelings and came running over to see us. She was a lovely girl, and looked strikingly similar to the doeling I had liked so much a year before.

 Then the pieces fell in place... She had all the same markings, she was a yearling, she had the same parents, she recognized me and came over, even when none of the other goats did...

It was Pepper.

It was that feeling you get when your pet has been missing, and you never thought you would see it again; and then BOOM! By a strange twist of fate, you find yourselves back together again.

 I didn't even entertain a second thought about it. I bought Pepper, and my friend brought her over today.

 This, is Pepper...





And she is home at last...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

American Meat

Saw this Youtube, and just had to post it on here.



Go Joel Salatin!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

It's Official: I'm Hopeless

Every year, for my birthday, we have a girl's day out and go visit some local antique stores, and this year was no different. We went to just one antique place this time, and I found lots of lovely vintage fabrics, buttons, kitchen ware, etc... But what did I end up bringing home with me?

This.


This is an old singletree; used with draft animals to balance the weight of their load.

I could have gotten those pretty fabrics. I could have come home with some new teacups. I could have come home with all sorts of things! But being typical me, I brought home an old piece of farming equipment. Figures. ;)


The wood on the singletree is still in great condition, and it looks like it still has some years of use in store. Once Frodo is big enough to pull a load, then we'll really get to test this treasure out. :)

Best of all, I got it for the whopping price of $12. Not bad, if I do say so myself....


And my family is convinced now: I'm a hopeless case. I go to an antique store for my birthday, and buy an old piece of wood. Farm girl, am I.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Excited!

 If I could hop up and down without risking the health of my laptop, I would do it right now! ;) I have a secret, but I can't tell anyone until Saturday (hopefully)! I'll give you a clue... I understand now, why neither Stevie the goat, nor Hope the Alpine could come home with me.... There was already someone waiting for my return...

 And that's all I'm going to say! Come back sometime around Saturday the 16th to find out what I'm babbling in joy about! :)

An Interesting Chain of Events....

Wow. I wasn't expecting my week to turn out quite as it did....

 For about two years now, I had been hoping to one day rent a small piece of our neighbors property (it's a total of 98 acres, and no one lives on the property). I think the piece I was eyeing was about 2 acres? Probably more, but I'm not good at judging distances. Anywho, I wanted to rent the land to put my goats on, and was willing to pay up to $100 per month for it. The problem though, was that I was too scared to ask the owners if I could rent it. Yeah, I'm such a coward, I know.... You humans scare me, I'm sorry! It's a lot easier to do things when there's a computer screen between us!

 As time has gone by, the desire to use the land has increased, although I wasn't all together sure what I would put up there, and so when the lady who owns the property came by a few days ago, I knew that a decision had to be made that day. I was working on mustering up the courage to pop the question when she beat me to it. She asked what sort of animals I kept, and when I told her that I had goats, her eyes got big and she said, "Say, you should keep your goats over on my property! You can use the entire acreage for free if you like." 


Oh corks! For two years I've been wanting to pay cash for a teeny piece of her land, and she just gave me free access to the entire 98 acres of it!!! Be still my beating heart! ;) After some more talking with her, it was set in stone; I now have permission to put all manner of animals up there! Whoohoo!

 So the dreaming began... What exactly did  I want to put up there? My mom wants to get some beef steers, and I suppose one day we will; but I cringe at the thought of having cows again. :-/ I do eventually want to get dairy sheep, but that is still a year or two down the road. I thought, pondered, and dreamed, before I decided that I really just want to stick with goats and get more of them. My dairy goats will be up there when the grass is at it's best, but I'm thinking about putting meat goats up there year around.

 Then came the question of "What do I do with all those meat goats, and can I make a profit with them?" That one took a little more thinking and researching, but as of today, I finally got a viable market for them! I was able to get in touch with a meat broker who said he would be willing to take me on as a supplier, and would pay $1.45 per lb. per goat (each goat weighing between 65-95 lbs.), which is a pretty good price for liveweight goats. :)

So I'm excited. :) At long last, I can use our neighbor's property, I have the freedom to make my own choices over there, and I can get more goats! That's the best part! I'm not planning on putting any animals on the property until either late fall, or early next spring, as I still have quite a few things to iron out first. I need to get more electric fencing, a solar charger, I have to build some sort of movable shelter, and I will need some livestock guardians, as we have a lot of active predators in our area. But it's still exciting getting ready and making plans. :)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Cherry Pie and Goat Milk...

Some friends of ours surprised us yesterday with a big bowl-full of fresh cherries! And what better thing to do with fresh cherries, than to make a cherry pie!? Mmmmm....


And let's not forget the raw goat milk to accompany that pie! It's about as fresh and local as you can get! ;)


Most delectable.... :)

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Hopes Dashed

 So I've been hinting darkly for awhile now.... Hinting that I was getting something new very soon.

 I've been so excited; ecstatic, really. I couldn't believe my luck. It was too good to be true.

Then my hopes were dashed this afternoon, and I watched them crumble to the ground in a dusty heap...

I was getting another goat. Big surprise, I know. ;) She was a Purebred, registered Alpine doe named 'Hope', and she was top notch quality. I mean, really top notch quality. She was milking 2 gallons a day, and had a very impressive pedigree to show off. Long had I admired her and thought about getting one of her daughters, so when she was up for sale I jumped at the chance!

 The owners were having a linear appraisal (for you non-goat people, it's like having a judge come out to your farm and judge your goats. You are able then, to know who to keep and who to sell) done in a couple weeks and asked that I wait until that was over, before getting her; as they wanted to see how she scored.

So I waited. And waited. And waited. Impatiently waiting, at that. I was so excited to take her into the ring next year, and I already knew which buck to breed her to. Another plus, was that I could start up my cheesemaking with that much milk coming in each day (it would have put us at 3-4 gallons a day).

Yesterday was the LA score, and today I got the results. Hope scored 90VEEE! In plain english, 93 points is about as high as a doe can go, and Hope got 90 points. The judge thought her general appearance was very good (V), dairy character was excellent (E), conformation was excellent (E), and mammary system was excellent. All together resulting in a score of 90VEEE.

Alas, Hope scored so well, that the owners decided not to part with her after all. So here I be. Hope-less. Aw shucks. I keep telling myself that I shouldn't be so disappointed since I did the same thing last month. Someone wanted to buy Chamomile, and I agreed to sell her. But then that decision started haunting me, until I finally had to ask the prospective buyers to reconsider. What a hypocrite I am! ;)

 But I figured I should enlighten y'all, seeing as I've been hinting, and I didn't want to leave anyone hanging....

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Anne The Evil

I had forgotten about this picture...

This is Anne.

Anne the Evil.


Don't be fooled by that innocent look on her face! She's plotting. I can see it. She is focused and intent. Making sure she has every move completely planned out.

We "rescued" (maybe we shouldn't have...) Anne back in 2008, and she was our third goat to have. She fooled us into thinking she was an angel at first. Then she started pulling her stunts. She would wait patiently on the milk stand until the pail was almost full, and you were only half paying attention to reality; then WHAM! She would give a mighty blow to that milk pail and send it flying! If you turned around in her presence, she would knock you over, VERY HARD. She weighed 195 lbs. and still managed to squeeze into the 1'x 2' chicken coop door so she could eat their feed. She bullied the other goats so much that we had to send them to a friend's house when they were pregnant, or else Anne might harm them. She would unlatch the gates and escape; she would un-bungee the bungee cord on the feed bin and gorge herself. She had a mastermind, and excelled in her cunning. No one could outwit Anne. She plotted in the night, and schemed in the afternoon.

We sold Anne one year later, and heard from her new owners that she tested CAE positive. Figures. After Anne, I told myself I would never do goats again. I didn't want that experience again. I didn't want to lay in bed at night and wonder what would happen the next day.

Now look at me.

I currently have 10 goats (sold two the other day), and want MORE!! Who'da thunk? ;)

I may have highly disliked Anne, but I love the goats I have now.... 


The Price of Ignorance

Humans are interesting creatures. We have pride, but we don't like to admit it. We will try things for the first time, without the proper knowledge, and without knowing the consequences of our actions.

 I recently read a heart breaking story about two little goat kids who were dehorned improperly, and almost lost their lives because there was no knowledge or experience on the human's part.

This is what happened.



What should have been an easy, fast experience that left only two copper colored rings around each horn bud, turned into a excruciatingly long period of pain and trauma. The vet didn't know what to do, and illegally let her assistant (who didn't really know what to do either) do the work. The burnt flesh in the picture is a third degree burn. The vet and assistant used a cow dehorner instead of a goat sized one, and not only did they NOT burn the horns off, they risked brain damage to the poor babies, due to the larger amount of heat coming from the cow dehorning iron. Last I heard, the goat kids were on the mend, but it still upsets me that something like this had to happen in the first place.

Lesson learned here: DO NOT use a cow dehorning iron on goats! Or dehorning paste for that matter... A nearby breeder is your best way to get your little babies dehorned properly, quickly, and almost painlessly. Not many vets have experience with goats, so using a vet is not always the best idea.

The Big Day


A group of ten, very brave, hard workers set out to do what had to be done...


This was their target...


The way was messy...


But being the amazing people that they are, they managed to pull through smiling...


Their weapons of choice lay before them...


And one by one, the chickens fell...


These brave souls processed somewhere around 75 birds that day; and for all but one, this was their first time to perform a feat such as this...


Those who could not help in such close proximity to our work, went out and dug a deep hole to bury the "leftovers" in. It was a deep hole. ;) (okay, so in the picture, he's actually crouching down. It wasn't THAT deep!)

 

Many of us were on our feet for 9 hours. Some had been on their feet for 13 hours. Lesson learned that day: don't wear rubber boots for 13 hours straight. Your feet will be killing you afterwards!

All those long hours paid off in the end. We were rewarded with fantastic meat to be stored in our freezers! :)


That night, we all dreamed of chickens...



Thank you to everyone who helped and bought chickens that day! I had an incredible team of helpers, who kept the laughter going all throughout the day, and it was so nice getting to see all of you who came to buy your birds! 

Can You Hear Me Smiling?

 If you can't, then just know that there is a great big smile on my face right now! ;)

 Why this sudden happiness, you ask? 

For starters, I e-mailed the people who bought Poppy (my prankster of a cow), just to see how she was doing for them, and this was the reply I got yesterday:


"She is doing great!  It's like having another dog.  She's just so gentle and plays with the kids.  We love her to pieces!"

I was so tickled to hear that all my hard work with Poppy paid off, and she is now being loved to death by a gaggle of kids. :) I've had a fleeting thought of buying another heifer calf this fall, and then selling her in the spring, just like I did with Poppy. January through April is a very hard time for me, as I have almost no money coming in, but still a good sized sum going out each month to buy feed for the animals. Selling Poppy when I did, gave me a huge leg up, and provided a much needed income at a much needed time. But right now, it's still just a fleeting thought about getting another calf.... 

Comments on our chickens have begun coming in as well, and so far everyone has been extremely pleased with the taste and size of the birds. Here's one comment we got....

"Please let Caity know that her chicken was delicious and nearly twice the size of what I get from the grocery stores.  I meant to take a picture of the chicken after I baked it…it was so pretty…but I started gobbling it up before I remembered to snap a picture…."

Here's another comment on our chickens...

 "The chickens were so tender and delicious! So different from the store bought ones... Great job!"

I also heard back from a couple of people who bought goats from me, and both said that they have been delighted with their new goat kids, and they settled in their new homes quickly. :)

Can you hear me smiling now? ;)

Monday, July 4, 2011

What's Your Dream Farm?

Come on... I know you readers are out there! I can see by the map on my sidebar that I DO get visitors on here, and I want to hear from you! ;)

 Question of the day: What's your dream farm? Or perhaps I should say, "What's your dream lifestyle?"

 C'mon.... Out with it! Let's hear it! Is it a small plot in the country just to enjoy the quiet? Is it a 100 acre sprawl of land that would be intensively farmed? Cattle rancher? CSA farmer? A hobby farm to have some chickens and maybe a goat or two?

 You probably want to hear mine don't you....? Okay, laugh if you want, but this is my dream "farm". I would like to be on a small piece of land (no more than 10 acres), and preferably be here in Oregon. A large portion of the land would be used to grow lavender (Yamhill County is known for its lavender farms), and I would also keep a good sized herd of dairy sheep and goats for cheesemaking. Aged fresh, and hard Tommes would be the main cheeses made, but with some fresh chevres on the side as well. :) And let's not forget the numerous rescue animals that would take up residence at the farm! Can't forget those! Oh, and everything would be off-grid too, so no electricity. ;)

So yes, that is my strange, ideal farm. Were you expecting me to say that I wanted a really big plot of land where I could farm "Joel Salatin style" and be completely self-sufficient? Hehe, I like to keep people guessing, what can I say?

Your turn! Let's hear it! It can't be any weirder than my wanting to be a cheesemaker on a lavender farm! ;D

Sunday, July 3, 2011

An Animal Rescuer

I recently stumbled upon this poem, and absolutely loved it. The author has written what I have never known how to word. It describes me well, whether that is a good thing or not, I know not, but it's me.
I am an animal rescuer.

I am an Animal Rescuer.
My job is to assist God's creatures.
I was born with the drive to fulfill their needs.
I take in helpless, unwanted, homeless creatures without planning or selection,
I have bought dog food with my last dime.
I have patted a mangy head with a bare hand,
I have hugged someone vicious and afraid.
I have fallen in love a thousand times,
And I have cried into the fur of a lifeless body too many times to count.
I have animal friends and friends who have animal friends.
I don't often use the word "pet".
I notice those lost at the road side,
And my heart aches.
I will hand raise a field mouse,
And make friends with a vulture.
I know of no creature unworthy of my time.
I want to live forever if there aren't any animals in Heaven,
But I believe there are.
Why would God make something so perfect and leave it behind?
Some may think we are master of the animals,
But the animals have mastered themselves.
Something people still haven't learned.
War and abuse make me hurt for the world,
But a rescue that makes the news gives me hope for mankind.
We are a quiet but determined army,
And we are making a difference every day.
There is nothing more necessary than warming an orphan,
Nothing more rewarding than saving a life.
No higher recognition than watching them thrive,
There is no greater joy than seeing a baby play,
who only days ago, was too weak to eat.
By the love of those who I've been privileged to rescue,
I have been rescued.
I know what true unconditional love really is,
for I've seen it shining in the eyes of so many,
Grateful for so little.
I am an Animal Rescuer,
My work is never done,
My home is never quiet,
My wallet is always empty,
But my heart is always full .

------Author Unknown

Of Shillings and Nickels

 I normally don't blog on Sundays, buuuuut, the upcoming week is looking surprisingly busy, so I decided to go ahead and do this post before too much more time goes by...

In the previous post, I mentioned that there was one little secret that I had yet to tell you guys of, and that is that....

Penny kidded on June 28th! Whoohoo!

I noticed on Tuesday morning that she was slightly sunken, and she didn't want her breakfast, but she didn't seem sunken enough for me to be concerned, and her udder was nowhere near full, so I figured we would probably have some kids by the next day. Hehe, methinks Penny heard my thoughts and decided to prove me wrong. An hour later, I found penny, who had literally just finished giving birth to a second kid, while the first was tottering on its feet! Good grief Penny, couldn't you have given me some warning!?

 The twins were so incredibly tiny, that I wasn't sure that they would survive. Each one only weighed 3 lbs. (normal kid weight is 6-8 lbs.), and my hand was the same length as their body. Both kids are absolutely beautiful though! One is a buckling, and the other is a doeling, which made me happy. :)

Kid #1 is the doeling, whom I have dubbed: Shilling...



And kid #2 is the buckling who goes by the handle of "Nickel". :) 


I was SO excited to see little Shilling's lovely conformation and beautiful coloring, but oh the heartbreak upon a further look! Shilling has an underbite, which means her lower jaw juts out and she won't be able to chew properly. :( I am hoping that maybe as she grows, the problem will fix itself, but I'm trying not to get my hopes up.


Nickel has been all around gorgeous so far, with a very level topline (you can't see it in this picture though! He was starting to back up, and thus looks like he has a steep rump), as well as good length, width and symmetry. I am looking forward to seeing how he matures! If he stays this nice, I think he just might have to stick around as a herdsire! :)


I sold Melilot and Aylah today, so it's been nice to have two new babies to fill in the gap. I'm sad that this will be our last kidding for the year...


Oh and, *ahem*, there's one more little thing that I have yet to blog about... But it might be another week or two before I can tell/show y'all, so stay tuned! ;)