“A day in the country is worth a month in town”Christina Rossetti

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Hay and Happy Swallows

Today a delivery of hay arrived for the horse, and then Dave went out and cut down our "hay". The only problem is that we can't bale it since we don't have the machinery.
For the little amount of hay that we use, it really isn't worth the huge expense. We just cut the grass high so that the new growth has a nice start.
Hopefully it will be in perfect shape for the goats later in the fall when we put the electronet outside the main paddocks. They'll come out of this gate and access this area. Then they can eat the hay on the stem - no machinery involved.
It was my idea to mow some of the fields, but then I had to run out and get a few pictures of the flowers before they were cut. As much of a pain the thistle seeds will be later, the flowers are stunning now. They look like fireworks exploding.
This flower attracted a few busy pollinators. Later, the goldfinches will share the seeds and spread a few around.
The Queen Anne's lace looks regal.
The butterfly weed had so many bees loving its flowers. No shortage of bees here.
The butterfly settled on this thistle as I was shooting it. The camouflage eyes on its tail are impressive, and make it look like a bat.
The barn swallows were feasting as the mower stirred up the insects. They looked like a Hitchcock movie, sweeping around Dave's head. The babies in the nests will be fat and happy tonight.

This should be perfect hay for the goats in the fall. They'll do the next mowing. No machinery - no diesel. As it gets colder, they'll be less choosy, and clean up this area pretty well. That will let the areas inside the high tensile fences gain more growth for the winter. Makes for happy goats!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Animal Health and Food

Good, bad, or in between, I stay away from as much medication as possible. Same for my goats. They could be someones food or breeding animal one day. I consider what I want in my food, and want nothing less for anyone else.
We do not have a vet come to our goats, because in reality - that does not happen. Maybe in a real herd crisis, but if its one animal, it would be the same as your cat or dog. In the car they go to the vet's office. A big dog crate works great.
We are with our animals every day, see changes, and look more closely accordingly. Sometimes all it takes is reassigning which stall a goat ends up in if they are getting pushed around too much.
As I was learning about sheep and goats in my quest to find the right animal for the farm, I also learned about medications. Parasite control is important for the good health of all animals. One of the first things I heard was that a lot of herds in different parts of the country had internal parasites that were resistant to medications. This was because the medications had been improperly and overly used. That made control of eggs and worms difficult, and therefore made it difficult to keep the animals healthy.
That's where rotational, pastured grazing got my interest. You basically try to stay ahead of the life cycle of the parasites by giving the animals clean fields, on a regular basis, and move them along before they contaminate themselves. Weather and growth conditions have a play in all this, and you need enough space to make it work well. That's why you read about us moving fences and putting the goats in new areas. We keep them going across the fields - water, sheds and all, to stay ahead of the parasite life cycle.
I admit that I am learning everyday, and do not have all the science committed to memory. What I do know is that when we took fecal samples to the vet last fall, which I ridiculously and painstakingly gathered one morning, only one goat - the littlest - needed worming. We treated the animal with the problem, and not the whole herd as industrial farms do. That is only one of the differences between small sustainable farms, and the farms that produce the cheap meat and eggs you buy in many grocery stores.

Today the New York Times printed a short Op Ed regarding this topic.

Farms and Antibiotics (click title to read more)

In an environment where antibiotics are omnipresent, as they are in
industrial agriculture, antibiotic-resistant strains of diseases quickly
develop, reducing the effectiveness of common drugs like penicillin and
If you care about your health, then care about where your food comes from. Be educated about what you put in your body. Be aware of regulatory news and why its happening. Most of the news about food borne problems have not originated on the small farm but on the "factory" farms as in the article above. Visit you local farms and know your food. Its important.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Derry Ag Fair

Tonight(Saturday) I took myself out to the fair - the Derry Ag Fair, a couple towns over. The rain clouds came in and sprinkled just a little, but I think they got to have all the events and shows without a problem. Some fine country singing, even if its not my thing.
Its a smaller, down home kind of fair, but its grown a lot in the past couple of years.
I ran into a few people I know there, and saw Speckles' daughter, and her daughter. They certainly show a lot more Boer goat in them.
Speckles is a Grandmother!I arrived in time to get a little fair food and then attend the Market Animal Auction at 7PM.
I wanted to see how the goats looked and what kind of prices they got.
The Grand Champion got $3.00 a pound and the Reserve Champion got $3.75. The rest of the goats came in between $2.80 and $1.20. I guess that's pretty respectable on the most part. It might not cover all the expenses a person puts in, but it depends on how much they spend on a goat.
That cute little girl must have gotten a good sponsor.
I thought the goats were much better prepared than last year, but they still are not as stocky as the goats I see at the Fayette Fair.
There were a few quilts and I enjoyed this simple garden themed quilt that was the Blue Ribbon winner.
It looked like an original design to me.
So this is a toy I might like next. They had it behind a John Deere like mine. Its a poop chucker(manure spreader) if you don't recognize it. I can wait to find a used one though.
This guy was waiting with his weights for the next pull.
A neat looking JD was waiting for the Tractor pull too. The diesel fumes drove me away from watching too long. Phew!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Some Real Rain

Finally the rain we have all been missing since we had too much of it.
The ground is really dry and I have been trying to do some transplanting from the hoop house to the garden. It was like digging brick. You just chipped away a flake of ground at a time.
The birdbath was completely dry two hours ago. This is a good soak and still sprinkling. The garden will love it. And the weeds!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Weaning Week Continued

Every day this week, we made certain to get the kids out first and fast. Yesterday was a bit of a balk for a few of them, and I had to go back and get everyone into the group. Then we just got going - fast.

We also make sure that we move the electronet enough so there are new fresh tips for them to enjoy. The kids are not doing as complete a job of clearing the stems and knocking things down as low as when the whole crew was here, so we don't give them as big a space as before. We would be done with this half of the pasture if everyone was still together. I think its lasted a week more than I expected.The little ones try to get as high up as they can. They all do really. Its their browsing style.
To tone down the yelling back and forth from the babies to the moms, we started with a couple coffee cans of grain, but that quickly was down to one can. I lead them to the newest browse, and get them used to being in the field themselves.
Now they all seem to recognize the big rubber feeding pan that I carry up with the can of grain. When I get desperate, I drop it on the ground and its gets their attention. They come looking for food. If they can't be with mom, the black pan is good enough.
Its actually the big goats that hang around the trough the longest. I'm not sure if its because of the head butting and the little one's give up, or they just are greedy.These gates are great scratching areas for the goats. You have to make sure they can take the abuse.
For certain, one of the things I notice more is the consumption of water. Usually after the walk to the end of the alley, there are one or two that go straight for the water. I can't say I even noticed them drinking much water before. Without Mamma's milk, the water is in demand.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


I just don't dare go out to see how things are going. Its been pretty quiet. If the goats see me or hear me, the yelling begins. The kids all followed out to the far paddock this morning without much crying. A little grain and then they were happy in the field.

Yesterday was awful and Vinegar's twins ended up outside the fence by the nannies, crying till they lost their voices. More goat laryngitis. Pretty pitiful sounding.

Today I got my ducks in a row. I threw a little hay in for the moms to quiet them and then took the kids all out. The moms were too busy munching to call after the babies. No kids turning and bolting back to the barn like yesterday.

It took three trips to get all but two kids up yesterday, and I carried one of them. Dave thinks I'm slacking at the gym. Right. Carry a wriggling 40 pounds of goat 400 feet or more, open a gate with one hand while holding back seven other goats. Try just imagining it and tell me how tired you are.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Weaning Week

Oh! Its been a rough time here on the farm.
The nannies on their own.
We're trying to wean all seven kids from the four nannies all at once. The crying, wailing and gnashing of teeth. Its enough to make you want to - well, I don't know, but its not been fun.
Mom checking the goats in the barn.
Perhaps a mistake, but I started by separating them overnight. Then, the next day, I took all the kids and non lactating goats up to the regular field and kept the mothers near the barn. Do you know how their wailing carries?
So the next day, they were in the barn till mid afternoon, and by the time they got out , they were so happy to graze, the wailing was short lived. Everyday I lengthened the time indoors until they only got to milk off a bit when the kids came to the barn.
Did it help working up to it like that. I don't think much, but we'll see. What I really want to do is avoid udder problems.
The bawling babies heading out to the paddock.
Tonight the kids were given sweet feed and goat mix till they wandered off. Then they were all "tucked in". The nannies got a little dry grass to quiet them for the night. Tomorrow could be a very uncomfortable day for the udder girls. I may start drinking.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

No More Blue/Green Eggs

...at least not for a while.
Carlene died.
I have to be careful of the company I'm in when I say that out loud. When I made the announcement the other morning, there was a pause of shock.

Same thing happened a few months ago when I said "Oprah's dead" in the barn, as we were all getting stalls ready. It was almost a Princess Diana moment.

And then - "Oh! The chicken?" Relief.
That's Carlene on the right by the cats.
It just so happened my daughter and mother, who know the namesake of Carlene the hen, thought I was talking about a lovely woman from my old hometown of Canton, CT. As far as I know, Carlene, the human, is in good health. I guess I will have to call her now.
Strangely, a tradition of naming hens after friends, or by friends, got started with Norma Jean six years ago and the tradition continued - by request. So when I got the day old Ameraucana or Araucana (some sort of Easter egg breed) in the mail, Carlene put in a request for a hen in her name. Truffles, her sibling, was named after a favorite eatery, and if course, the confection that was somewhat her color.Well, today we had blueberry pancakes with Carlene's last egg and our fresh picked blueberries. Thanks Carlene! You made a lot of kids, and big kids, happy with your beautiful eggs.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Happy Birthday To One of the Newest Penn Staters!

Hope its a great day Elyse. You're at University Park. How can it NOT be!!
PS: Your cake was early. The card won't be!! Ooops!!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Goat Transport

The first PASA Field Day that I went to was in June 2007. Sandy Miller and her family hosted the day. I have followed her blog on my sidebar about as long as I knew what a blog was. Today she posted this picture she found. If you want to know more about what is going on, go to her Painted Hand Farm blog by clicking the photo.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Transplanted and Transported

I have plants in my garden from my mother's garden that I have transplanted, and transported, from house to house, and state to state. Now I am passing a piece of this 10 foot cactus to my daughter for her to pot and grow into another giant. It got a couple of broken arms in the move and a couple more injuries in the house, so I decided it was time to start some new plants. A few starts were failures, but two got going. This one is probably off to a taller start then what I started with thirty years ago, but eight inches of it grew in the past few months as I was rooting it.
In the house she grew up in, the cactus, then about six to eight feet of it, stood at the front door, and Kristin had to explain to friends that, yes - it was real. During the last move, this plant along with a couple more, almost put the mover over the edge, but the estimator promised, and I was not leaving this old friend behind.
So Kiddo, now its your turn to grow a giant cactus in your home. I hope it continues to have stories for you to tell.