Thursday, May 31, 2012

Sunk

Well I'll be. Metty FINALLY sank this afternoon! For those of you who are raising an eyebrow at this new term, it means that Metty's babies have moved into the birth canal (giving her a very sunken look just in front of her hip bones) and we *should* have kids in a day or less!!

Now, off I must hop to go castrate some Jersey bulls that belong to a friend of mine. Wish me luck! 

Almost Forgot

I didn't forget to publish the weekly Q&A post... I just momentarily did not remember. ;)

I really meant to do it yesterday, but between weeding the garden, running a mastitis test on Sombrita (she came out negative! Whew!), dealing with a dog with a tummy ache, tending to 118 chickens throughout the day, and doing who knows what else, the post just -- didn't happen. Sigh.

But here it is now! Got a question? Shout it out! :) I'll post answers next Monday!

(And to Heather in PA, I got your question already, so I will be sure to answer that one with any others.)

IMG_6444

Monday, May 28, 2012

Q & A Monday!

Alrighty then! I got two good questions for this week's round of Q&A, so let's get down and do some answering!

 Question #1 came from Domesteading, and the question was:
I am having a Dickens of a time getting my three 4 month old Nigerian Dwarfs to eat anything other than hay. The doe will be for milking down the line, but we got to wethers 1) as company for her and 2) to help with brush abatement. They won't TOUCH anything other than their alfalfa (and the occasional goat grains we give them). What to do???

A. Oooh, good question, Domesteading! That's a toughy to deal with, especially if the goats were bought specifically for brush eating... But I do have good news for you: It will come. Your goats are still young; only 16 weeks (well, I suppose they're about 17 weeks by now). Without an adult goat around to teach/show them how to browse, it's going to take them a bit longer to figure the whole brush eating thing themselves. I know it's probably frustrating to watch them eat up all the expensive alfalfa hay, while the poison oak, blackberries and thistles grow rampantly during this weather; but your goaties probably need a few more months before their rumens grow enough that they start foraging on their own. From what I gather on your blog, you've started putting some of the brush in the manger with their hay. They may be eating around it right now, but if you have the patience to keep on putting it in and pulling the old stuff out, I would keep on doing that. It will take time, but hopefully by high summer their little brains will have put two and two together about what all the plants in the pasture are for. ;) One thing you could always try is only giving them the alfalfa early in the morning, and the again late at night. During the day, offer them some good quality grass hay. That way, they have an option of hay (which their developing rumens need) but it's not so yummy as alfalfa. I don't know very many goats who would choose browse when there's top notch alfalfa sitting at nose level in their comfy quarters. Offering the grass hay might make them reconsider lazing about, versus getting acquainted with the local blackberries... :)

Question #2:
Any recommendations for fencing nigerians? I presently have 5 wire high tensile - 2 of them hot wires 
(2nd and 4th from ground) for my horses. 
Thank you!
Heather in PA

Oh those Nigerians...Such a popular breed, and yet what headaches those tiny things can give us! Heather, fencing is probably the most challenging part of Nigerians. I've had my little ND, Poppet, for a year now, and I'm still plugging up new holes each week. [smacks forehead]. If your wire is hot enough, and your pasture is good enough, then what you have might work. Otherwise, you might consider adding some more strands that are knee level and nose level to a Nigerian. If you are able to use/purchase permanent, woven wire fencing, the no-climb horse fence is *awesome*. It's about 6' tall, and the holes are something like a 2"x4"? Something around there... This was basically the only thing that kept my Nigerian out of the pen where this year's Nubian buck was kept. Does this help you any?

Well folks, round #2 of Q&A Monday will start this Wednesday, so if you have a question, get ready to shout it out!


Sunday, May 27, 2012

RIP Temerity...

If nothing else, Facebook has allowed me to get updated on the Kastdemur's herd. 

And I was most sorrowful to see that their fabulous doe, Temerity, passed away on April 26th...

Photobucket
SGCH Kastdemur's Temerity 5*M

This dear friends, is a beautiful goat... I never had the chance to see Temerity in person, but her name is well known among Nubian breeders. She was huge, powerful, graceful, a milking powerhouse... She was awesome. Oh how I've always dreamed of someday getting a kid from her. But with a used truck being cheaper than one of her offspring, I figured it would take a miracle for such an animal to land in my barn. 

And then that dream was cut short as I found this news only yesterday... Some dreams just don't come true the way we hoped them to. 

Rest in peace, dear Temerity. It will be a long, long time before your name is forgotten in the Nubian world...


Saturday, May 26, 2012

Pssst! GSF Is Now On Facebook!

Yes, dear friends, you read that right... Goat Song Farm is now on Facebook!

Photobucket

I always told myself that I would never entangle myself in that confusing website that everyone else seemed to be a part of. And for a long, long time, I truly never cared to have a facebook account of my own. Nope, not this seemingly old fashioned girl.

But times goes on, things change, people change. I changed. I began to look at Facebook not as a way to chat with friends, but as a new marketing tool. I could see how it might be helpful to have a page of my own... But it was still just a random, floating thought.

That is, until one day I found Kastdemur's Dairy Goat's Facebook page. Apparently they had just had a blowout sale due to a death in the family, and many fabulous goats went up for sale. I had no idea of this until one month later when I read the facebook page. I couldn't believe I missed such a sale!! Kastdemur's is one of the best breeders in the nation and normally their goats sell for the price of a used car. 

Then I started noticing that all the nearby breeders were also updating their facebook pages frequently, while their websites collected cobwebs. I suddenly felt out of the loop and archaic as I futilely e-mailed breeders about stock, only to be told that their websites were out of date, and I should check out their facebook page. [smacks forehead]

So what started all of this was really wanting a way to keep in touch with other goat breeders. I had missed countless opportunities of acquiring fabulous stock, I wasn't going to let any more slip past me without something of a fight.  

And yes, it is also a new marketing tool for me. ;) I am still quite new to all of this, and FB is a hugely different world from my beloved Blogger, but I'm learning. Slowly, but surely. 

So, you can visit ma' grandiose facebook page by clicking HERE!

P.S. Feel free to "like" my page! LOL!

Teaching and Writing

I am zonked. I taught a five hour "mini-workshop" today (there was just one family, so therefore it's a mini sized class), and together we went over everything that one might possible need to know about rabbits. We talked about handling rabbits, feeding, breeding, health, we bred a doe, butchered some fryers, had rabbit soup for lunch, and boy howdy are our arms scratched up now... 

After lunch, we were just preparing to go back outside and finish the class when a package came with MY name on it!! I hadn't ordered anything, so my curiosity was too great to wait until the end of the workshop to find out what was inside. I had no idea what it might be, but I recognized the sender...

Photobucket

Inside the padded interior of the envelope, I found 10 copies of the 'Oregon's Agricultural Progress' magazine. Now, I have to admit that I was stumped at first as to why I was sent ten magazine that had an F-15 jet of the front of it. I stared at it a few moments, trying to figure this out when the title suddenly sank in. OH! It's the Oregon's Agricultural Progress!!! My writing is in here!!!!

Photobucket


    With this realization, I began frantically flipping through the pages, searching for familiar words. And there it was... On page 11, a very, very small blurb of words was printed on the right hand side... With my name printed at the bottom...

Photobucket

This little piece was actually a blog post here at To Sing With Goats, but some nice folks at the OSU asked to use it both in the OSU Small Farms newsletter, and here in the Agricultural Progress.
You can read the original blog post by clicking HERE.
The article in the Small Farms Newsletter can be found HERE. (page 6)
And the article in the Oregon's Agricultural Progress can be found HERE!

Photobucket

Perhaps this is a bit silly of me, but I have ALWAYS dreamed of one day seeing my own name printed in a magazine (or something online) at the bottom of an article that I wrote. I see my name at the bottom of every Mother Earth News post that I write, and I saw my name in the online OSU newsletter, but holding the magazine... Actually seeing my name on something printed... Well, it made this farm girl do more than just smile. One little dream came true today before going out and spending the rest of the day doing another passion in life: teaching. Teaching and writing, writing and teaching... So often I dream of one day making a living by doing those two things. Teaching and writing. Today it felt like that just might be possible...

Friday, May 25, 2012

Stillness

Stillness. Utter stillness is what met me at the door at 8:16 PM this evening as I went to milk Sombrita...

IMG_6957

While working in the barn this afternoon, I could feel a change in the wind. The Southern breeze suddenly whipped into a Northern wind and then died off as suddenly as it came... And then there was nothing. Nothing at all. No movement in the air, in the grass, in the trees. Life became an oil painting. A portrait of stillness. I exhaled. The only noise, save for soft hoofsteps from Sombrita. 

As the day waned, the eerie feeling in the atmosphere waxed fuller. It was that feeling that made your skin crawl. It made you afraid to breathe. Something wasn't right...

The moment I stepped outside this afternoon, I could see that something was up. I gasped softly at the strange sight before me... Everything my eyes beheld was a glowing peach hue. The sun was setting in the west, but casting its rays upon a ragged blanket of gunmetal clouds; edging each one with copper and burnt orange. My rose colored Carhartt coat looked tan. My skin looked the color of a Native American. Dust motes hung in the still, quiet air. 

Sombrita paced the length of the gate. Waiting for me. Her udder was engorged with the most milk she's given me yet. I opened the gate and let her run ahead. She knew where to go and made a beeline for her milk stand and grain. The sound of her hooves hitting the old wooden stand seemed to reverberate as thunder echoed through our valley. A storm was coming...

As I milked her, little thunderstorms growled and grumbled in her round barrel. Some days her ruminating stomach sounds like the ocean. Tonight it was a storm. My left ear resting on her barrel listened to her little storms, while my right ear listened to a bigger storm brewing outside the barn. Talk about an echo. The strange lighting made the barn look as though something from the deep past. the old beams and walls were clothed in sepia. The cobwebs became antique lace.

The rolling thunder, though afar off, was enough to make Sombrita jumpy, and I had quite the time trying to milk her out without having any hooves land in the frothy white. As long as I did not move, did not break my milking tempo, did not speak, she stayed in a seeming trance. If I dared change anything, a hoof was lifted. This girl doesn't like change. 

Milking was finished, and I left to go inside. I do not tarry while there is milk in the pail. A glance over my should took in the sight of Peaches and Ivy standing side by side in the doorway, looking out to pasture. They were bathed in gold, their faces turned up to the sky. My barn guardians.

When I came back outside, the moment in time had passed... The sun had set and the thunder had migrated. But that eerie stillness remained.  Oh it remained... To haunt, to whisper, to bait and taunt one. Would nothing break this spell? I felt like I was drowning. Gasping for air. I needed a noise, a breath, a movement.

And then it came... A sweet wisp from the east. The world was made anew with that silvery sigh.

I relaxed, and finished barn chores. Sombrita nickered softly as I left... 

God's in His heaven, all's right with the world...

IMG_6958

You Never Stop Learning

I went to make another batch of cheese this afternoon and found this sitting on the bottom, inside two jars:

IMG_6950

Ummm, is it just me, or is that clearly NOT milk!? I totally panicked when I saw it. Why on earth was there blood in the bottom of two jars??? One jar was from the 17th, and the other from the 23rd. When I milked on those days, the milk had been perfectly normal. No pink color, no clumps, stringiness, or heat in Sombrita's udder, which would have told me that this was a case of mastitis. No, the milk tasted perfectly sweet, it was clean and clear. But what was with this blood that had mysteriously appeared!?!?!

Thank heavens for The Goat Spot. I was able to put write out an emergency post and got answers within the hour. It was agreed by many that this wasn't mastitis, but most likely was a broken capillary in the udder.

Insert huge sigh of relief. 

Truth be told, I didn't even know a goat could bust a capillary and this could result. I suppose my pride probably needed a good debunking. My head was probably swelling a bit too much these days anyway...

Sombrita has very poor udder attachments so her udder hangs like a heavy bag of groceries and it swings and bangs around as she walks. My guess is that in all her rough housing that she's been doing lately, she must have either been rear ended by another goat, or she just did too much running and gave that udder a sound trouncing. 

There goes my batch of cheese... Now I'm going to have to wait two more days. Phooey. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Got Questions?

Photobucket

Got questions? Goat Song Farm is now hosting a weekly open Q&A session every Monday! 

Have you had a question concerning livestock? Wondering about a feed ration? Have some random question that you've been wondering but never knew when or how to ask?

Here's your chance! Shout it out and we'll have a grand time with it!

Just leave a comment, or shoot me an e-mail with your question, and I'll get some answers for you come Monday!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Cow Kisses and Udder Rubs


IMG_6523

This relationship between me and a rescued bovine is growing by leaps and bounds, and yet is still painfully threadbare at the same time. Her metamorphosis is staggering; I can hardly believe this is the same heifer that I bought for $250 just a couple months ago...

Tonight was a good night. While Peaches and I didn't do any walking (she's *still* trying to figure out what the lead rope tugging means), I accomplished a lot of other things. I can now brush every inch of her body both by brush, or by hand. I can handle her feet (something Poppy always hated...), touch her hind legs, belly and horns. I can mess around with her and she doesn't move, and tonight I finally manged to figure out what her favorite spots to be scratched are. I've been trying to find her "good spots" for weeks now. Poppy always loved having her brisket and ears scratched, but Peaches doesn't care for it. Turns out that her first favorite spot is the bottom side of her neck, just along the gullet. She stretches out her feminine neck and makes little grunting sounds as I sweep my hand from her jaw line to chest using just my finger tips. Her other favorite spot? Surprisingly enough, she loves having her udder rubbed! Man, I sure wish my goats enjoyed having their udders handled like Peaches does! You get it just right, firmly massaging the center of her little bag and she is in hog heaven; you can see the bliss on her face. What a cow... 

  I finished up and was rewarded by some slobbery, sand paper-like cow kisses. Lots of them. Who knew a cow could produce so much saliva??? Ah well, it washes off and Peaches seemed happy to return the favor. 

We're gettin' somehwhere, this cow and I... We're gettin' somewhere.

IMG_6530

Food is Ammunition - Don't Waste It!

These are some old WWII posters I found online today. I would love to someday have prints of these... :)

Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Photobucket


Friday, May 18, 2012

Practice Makes Perfect

 I have been working with Peaches every evening... Teaching her how to behave on a lead rope, how to stand still, how to be caught, desensitizing her to being touched. Each day has been an uphill struggle. She ran when she saw the lead rope. She pulled when I finally got it on her. She turned white eyed at the brush. She kicked when her legs were touched. It was one step forward and two steps back. But they say that things are always getting imperceptibly better every day, so I stuck to my job.

  Tonight, Peaches was laying down in front of the hay manger, chewing her cud as I picked up the lead rope and brush. She lazily looked at me as I opened the gate and stepped onto their straw filled pen. I walked towards her with purpose, but she did not move. Did not break the rhythm of her cud chewing. I clipped the lead rope on her with one swift flick of the wrist. The cow blinked. Chewed cud.
 I groomed her with a medium stiff bristle brush; each stroke sweeping a day's worth of dust from her now satin-like coat. She did not get up from her position. All four feet were curled beneath her like a cat. I think she would have purred if she could have. Instead she chewed her cud.

I finished up and she let me slip the lead rope off as easily as if she was an old matron cow. Her eyes followed me as I left the pen and put the rope and brush away. She did not move. Did not break the rhythm of her cud chewing.

Peaches is a beautiful cow. And to think what was hiding beneath that layer of filth when I first bought her... Amazing.

Before:
Photobucket


Photobucket


6 Weeks After:
Photobucket


Photobucket

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I Feel Rich

There are 2 gallons of raw goat milk sitting in the fridge as I type this.

There is also 2 1/2 lbs. of fresh chevre cheese in there.

There was a gallon of fresh whey in there earlier.

And there is a quart of cajeta also sitting next to the milk and cheese.

There will be goat meat in the freezer this fall.

There will be milk and cheese for friends by the first of June.

There is enough milk left over for me to feed Summer, and Metty's kids who are due to be born any time now.

I. Feel. Rich.

Photobucket
Fresh cheese!

All of this abundance is springing purely from Sombrita right now. My one milker at the moment. It amazes me that one animal can give so much, and yet be so small... I am in awe of these animals. 

This is the cherry on top for a country person. Looking in the fridge and seeing food that was jointly created between man and beast. Two species dependent upon one another to survive. 


Photobucket


I milked Sombrita, and got five quarts over the span of three milkings. This was placed in a pot on the stove to warm... It's temperature rose, it gently steamed, the cream came to the top. Rennet and a culture was added and stirred in. Oared over and under, over and under. Then the milk rested for 24 hours. The milk turned a peculiar green hue as proteins and fats sunk to the bottom of the pot, leaving what was now whey sitting on the top.

When a day had passed, a passing of two more milkings, there was no longer milk in my pot. Now there were two seemingly incompatible items testily sharing the confines of steel. I had cheese now. The whey was drained off and saved. It would be given to the broiler chicks as a treat later. And the soft cheese curds went into a cheesecloth bag. They were bone white with the feeling of silk... Each individual curd jiggled as I spooned it into the bag, making me think of Jello.

The curds then drained for 12 hours before being salted and put in a bowl. By the late evening, I found myself with something entirely different from what Sombrita had given me. She had gifted me with milk. With the start of food. I had finished it. I now had cheese before me. Was it perfect? No. It was a little too grainy, as the pictures will attest to. But the taste... Oh the taste.

Wildy fresh, light, creamy, a touch of salt, and a slight tang of goat... This was no cow milk cheese. It tasted awesome on Ritz crackers.

Photobucket


Goats will never cease to amaze me. Weighing an average of 150 lbs. they give us meat, milk, cheese, yogurt, cream, butter, kefir, whey, a means of feeding extra livestock, fiber to make clothes with, and provide a cottage business. All from a little animal that stands shorter than you and often weighs less than a large breed of dog. Such simple creatures they are in their needs... Why do they give so generously? Whatever the reason, I will never stop being amazed by their bounty.

Because of them, I feel rich.

IMG_6281

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Homemade, Herbal Goat Dewormer


  I get asked a lot about what dewormers I use on my goats, and if there isn't a homemade deworming recipe. And, ta da! I actually do use a homemade dewormer that I love, so I thought I would share the recipe here for y'all. (and note: this recipe is not of my own making; the original writer of the recipe is Debbie Osborne.)

Herbal Goat Dewormer:

1 cup dry mustard seed powder.
Photobucket
Dry mustard seed powder.

2 cups cut Thyme leaf.
Photobucket
Thyme leaf

2 cups wormwood.*
Photobucket
Wormwood

1 cup Black Walnut hull.*
Photobucket
Black Walnut hull

2 cups chopped Sage leaf.
Photobucket
Chopped Sage leaf

1 cup Minced Garlic.*
Photobucket
Minced Garlic

2 cups Rosemary leaf.
Photobucket
Rosemary leaf

1/2 cup chopped cloves.
Photobucket
Cloves

1 cup Psyllium Seed powder.
Photobucket
Psyllium Seed powder

2 cups Diatomaceous Earth (D.E.)*
Photobucket
Diatomaceous Earth 

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together and store in a glass jar. Keep in a cool, dark place.

You'll notice that some of the herbs have been marked with an asterisk (*), these are the most crucial ingredients, and if you're in a pinch you can make a cheater version of this dewormer with only the herbs that have been marked.

Dosages:
Sprinkle the mixture over their feed 2x's daily for seven (7) days straight.
A mature, standard sized goat needs 1 Tablespoon 2x's a day (so 2 TBSP per day).
Dwarf breeds need 1/2 Tablespoon 2x's a day (so 1 TBSP per day).
Standard sized kids receive the same amount as Dwarf breeds, and Dwarf kids should get roughly 1/3 to 1/2 the adult Dwarf amount.
If you find that your animals absolutely refuse to eat the mixture try mixing it with some brown sugar; that usually helps matters!

What's really nice is that this recipe can also be used for other animals: sheep, cattle, horses, camelids... But PLEASE NOTE: if you use this recipe for horses, you MUST take the Black Walnut powder out, as horses are sensitive to it and it can cause death if ingested.

You'll also notice that the ingredients are all highlighted. Clicking the links will take you directly to one of my favorite websites that I order bulk herbs from. :)

Do you have a favorite herbal recipe that you use on your livestock?

*All photos are courtesy of Bulk Herb Store.*

Monday, May 14, 2012

Things Ain't What They Used To Be

I stumbled across this image earlier today and smiled. 'Raise pigs to help win the war.' Things ain't what they used to be... Can you imagine if we started seeing posters like this in our time?? 

Photobucket