Saturday, March 25, 2017

Finally, a direction.

Sometimes I do things just to do things.  I don't have a plan or an actual goal that I'm trying to reach.  I am just doing.  In some ways, that's what happened with the farm.  So, now I am trying to find the goal.  Why am I doing this?  Why do I have goats?  Why do I have cows?  Why do I have chickens?  What is the purpose of each animal?  What is the purpose of the plants?  Why do I have dogs?  Why do I have cats?  What is the purpose of the buildings?

I'm spending the next several weeks going over questions and solidifying a plan, a goal, a purpose.  Stay tuned for more details...

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Kids and Calves 2017 - so far...

Well, I missed the dates for the cows.  Rona went first on March 5th and delivered a small little man.  Followed four days later by Greer who delivered a big little man.  Both of these babies are Benny's offspring.

The goats started delivering kids on the 13th.  Red went first with three beautiful doelings sired by Lou.  Dottie followed 2 days later with a single buckling also sired by Lou.  Getty delivered two doelings and a buckling today.  These are the first of Iron's babies on the ground.  We are awaiting the immenent arrival of Polly and Dancer's kids.  I have just about given up on trying to determine when these girls will deliver.  Gah.

What a joy it is to be on the homestead during the "baby" season!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Kidding Season Approaches

Here we are at the tail end of February and kidding season is fast approaching.  But, first we'll have calving season.  Oops, didn't plan that well.  Ugh.  It'll be crazy busy around here during the month of March.

First up are our big 'ole moo girls.  Greer, Rona, and Blaire were all hanging out with Benny from about May 13th till about Aug 14th (2016).  Technically, that means that we could have a calf on the ground as early as three days ago, ie. Feb 19 2017.  As of yet, we do not have a calf on the ground.  I don't have accurate records for heat cycles on the moo girls so we are estimating (based on udders and rough cycle calculations) that Greer will go first and that Rona will quickly follow.  Both are expected to have babies on the ground within 14 days.  Blaire is more of an unknown.  It may be 2 weeks for her or it may be six weeks. 

Then, during that time we expect the goats to start dropping babies.  Getty, Red, Dottie, and Polly are all due about a week apart.  We hope for kids starting after March 10th and not before.  

We have confirmed our Autumn 2016 goat breedings for Spring 2017 babies... *b -blue eyes possible *p -polled possible
Getty (x Iron) due March 10 *b
Red (x Lou) due March 12 *b
Dottie (x Lou) due March 15 *b
Polly (x Dancer) due March 18 *b, *p
Peso (x Dancer) due March 29
Opal (x Popeye) due April 7 *b, *p
Pepper (x Iron) due April 17
Glam (x Iron) due April 25 *b

Rosy and Icey did not settle and will be moved to the list of Spring 2017 breedings for Autumn 2017 babies.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Commercial Dairy and Meat

I love being able to grow or produce a portion of my own food.  For instance there are four jars of milk currently residing in my fridge.  They represent the last 4 days of milk from my Nigerian Dairy goats.  I use this for drinking and cooking as well as making yogurt, cheese, ice cream, and butter at times. 

I also am thankful that I can go to the grocery store and pick up a pizza or more butter if we want it.  I recognize the need for a grocery store that provides many with food items that they use on a daily basis.  Not everyone has the place or even inclination to raise their own animals.  Commercial dairy and meat producers provide a much demanded service.  Dairy animals raised on a small farm take a different management that those raised on a large scale.  Both are in demand.  Both are good in many ways.  Both have some very negative drawbacks.  Both are still in demand.  

I cannot attack the practices of a large commercial dairy or meat producer.  Urban citizenry would experience extreme hunger if the commercial producers were not in business.  The "masses" demand that milk and meat be available in their grocery store and at their restaurants.  The general public has grown up with readily available food and drink.  Many individuals today do not want to know where or how their food is produced.  Knowing he can get it at the store is enough.  She prefers to eat out.

So, where I am about to go is not about attacking large scale operations.  Nor is it about raw versus pasteurized.  It is about freedom lost.

Oklahoma currently allows the incidental (less than 100 gallons per month) sales of raw milk (cow or goat) directly on the farm.  That means that if you want to buy some of my goat milk, you have to come to my farm to get it.  I'm okay with that.  If you go out of your way to visit my farm to get my milk, I know it's important to you.  However, I cannot deliver milk to you without a transport license.  Please don't ask me to because that's a risk that I don't want to take.  It's also an option that you don't have.  It is a freedom that you and I no longer have.  We cannot agree to this private transaction because milk is a highly regulated product.

Most of the general population doesn't care if the option exists.  Are you one of them?  Or, would you prefer the option of being able to make an agreement with me to purchase my milk and have me deliver it to you?  Do you want the freedom to trust me to handle the milk with care?  Do you want the freedom to accept the risk that accompanies a private transaction?  Then YOU AND I will have to become active in making the changes within our state.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Goat Math - It. Is. Real.

You may have heard of Common Core Math and how today's parents can't help their children learn it due to its convoluted methodology.  Well, I know of something that is more amazing and incredible than Common Core Math.

Goat Math.

Goat math is what happens when you just want a few goats (3 or 4) for homesteading and less than 12 months later you have a shed-turned-goat barn, 3 field shelters, a re-purposed dog house, six pastures, and 22 goats of varying ages.

In the beginning, we only needed a doe in milk and a companion for her.  These are herd animals and don't do well as individuals.  So, we found a great goat mentor who had an adorable little baby goat for us.  We converted a portion of the shed to be the goat house and put in 2 pastures.  Mid-May and we were ready for our girls to come home.  :)

Opal (our first doeling) and Rosy (her companion - the first goat I fell in love with) enjoyed their week of being on the farm as the only goats.  Then, we went to our first goat show where Peso won First in Class and Reserve Champion.  We brought her home after the show.  A couple of weeks later, Icey joined us at the farm.  Sigh.  In less than a month we had our four goats - one in milk, one preggers, one youngster, and Rosy.

At this time we planned to "rent" a buck for future breedings.  A month passed of our blissful ignorance and then I saw the sweetest little buckling available.  "Honey, can we?"  And we did.  While we were awaiting our handsome fellow, Icey kidded with two bucklings of her own. 

Next thing we knew we'd purchased a buck because our little guys weren't quite big enough to breed effectively.   So, six months after bringing home our first two goats we'd already increased our herd to 8.  Twice as many as we originally planned.

I then purchased an entire herd -- three bucks, one doe in milk with two babies at her side, and four bred does ready to pop anytime.  And there you have it.  Just a few goats for our own milk use.  Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha...

Monday, January 16, 2017

At Your Own Risk

All activities on the farm have inherent risks.  You will be exposed to bugs, critters, and germs.  There are fences, holes, and junk.  The animals are animals and may act as such at any given time with or without your approval.  They will poop and pee when they feel the urge.  They have no idea what personal space is.  They are all highly driven by a desire for food.  They shove, trample, and complain.  They are dirty as they have no concept of personal hygiene.  They use the entire pasture and their shelter as a toilet.  There are flies.  There are wild critters such as bunnies, skunks, gophers, rats, hawks, crows and snakes. 
When you visit a farm - any farm - you assume to know and accept these risks.  It is not the fault of the farmer if a horse bites you.  It is not the fault of the farmer if a fly gets in your soda.  It's not the fault of the farmer if your flip-flop gets stuck in a cow pie.  It's not the fault of the farmer if a bee stings you when you slap it.
Therefore, please read the following warning as it does apply to visiting our farm.  If you are unwilling to assume the risk, please don't participate.
WARNING Under Oklahoma law, there is no liability for an injury to or death of a participant in an agritourism activity conducted at this agritourism location if such injury or death results from the inherent risks of the agritourism activity. Inherent risks of agritourism activities include, among others, risks of injury inherent to land, equipment, and animals, as well as the potential for you to act in a negligent manner that may contribute to your injury or death. You are assuming the risk of participating in this agritourism activity.”

Saturday, January 14, 2017

2016 - Year in Summary

I want to start putting a milestone on each year.  A recap of what was accomplished on the farm and a quick summary of dreams for the next year. 

Main House:  No activity was planned or completed on the main house. -- We need to put a new roof on the house, install some piers, hang guttering over the back porch, and paint the fascia.

Storm/Root Cellar:  The giant hole that was to be the storm/root cellar was filled in during 2016.  -- There are no current plans for a storm or root cellar.  I'll have to fix that.

Garden:  The garden is in a holding pattern.  Things were planted, things produced, weeds took over again in 2016. -- Plans are to reduce the number of actively worked beds for next year.

Vineyard and Berry Patch:  We were able to prune the grape vines for the first time and it resulted in a decent harvest.  The berry patch is overgrown and struggling.  It has had no attention.  -- We need to clear the berry patch and establish new canes.  We need to prune the grape vines and plant 3 new ones.

Orchard:  The orchard was neglected in 2016.  Several of the trees died.  Some pecans were replaced.  -- We need to prune all the orchard trees.  We need to remove the dead trees. 

Chickens:  We reduced the flock and only allowed a few eggs to hatch in 2016.  All but one of the rooster runs were removed.  -- We need to reduce the flock more.  Plans are to get below 10 chickens during this next year.  This means that the chicken yard may need to be reduced.

Pastures:  The west and pond pastures were disked and seeded with a winter mix of seed.  It was very dry and there was little germination that took.  -- We need to drag, disk and overseed all remaining pastures.  Pasture rotation has yet to be implemented.

Pond and Irrigation:  The pond still doesn't hold water effectively.  Shallow irrigation was installed to run water to each of the small goat pastures.  Automatic waterers were installed for the goats.  -- We might consider adding a second well for the pastures.  Also might could use another cobett or similar product for the cows.  There is still talk of running guttering off the barn, goat house, and workshop via pipe to help fill the pond.

Barn, Corral and Stalls:  Nothing was addressed related to the barn, corral, and stalls.  -- We need to find a new home for our wood for heat in order to free up the stall space for the moo girls.  Once the items stored in the lean to are removed, additional stalls can be built.

Cows:  We purchased a steer for processing and another pregnant cow.  She gave us a lovely little heifer in August.  -- We need to sell some of the cows.  I would like to work with the yearling calves for haltering and eventual milking.  We may need to sell Benny.

Goats:  We increased the goats to 28 this year.  Kidding stalls were build in the goat barn.  -- The windows and excess not related to goats need to be removed from the goat barn.  I'd like to find a couple of does from the east side of the country to round out my herd.  I'm planning to participate in milk test this year.  The goats need a playground.

Dairy:  (Milk, Cheese, Yogurt) -- Lots of ideas here.  This year we will be looking into establishing a grade a raw milk dairy.

Natural Products: (Soap, Potpourri) -- I'm not making much progress here.

Retreat House(s):  We purchased an RV that was to be refurbished so that one of the kids could use it as a rent house.  -- We need to get the RV reworked.  Still thinking about a tiny house for a retreat.

Front fencing:  -- A friend gifted us some pipe rail and we are considering using it across the front of the house and to extend the corral a bit. 

Obviously, we have a lot going on and a lot in the works.  Some of which won't happen.  This is life on the homestead.