Friday, February 27, 2009

"Breaking" News (Get it?)

Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh! The 10 chicken eggs we put in the incubator on February 7th are starting to hatch! I have an up-to-the-minute photo play by play for ya! Pardon the glare, I was snapping pics through the little window on my incubator. Phew.. that was an intense 15 minutes... enjoy the pics amongst yourselves, I'm a bit verklempt!

Look at the above pic again. The chick in the egg directly above the one we're watching is starting to crack its way out too!

Go, little guy, go!

He'll fluff up once he dries, but my camera battery is about to die so I'd better plug it in!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Morning Chores

We often get asked how much work farming is. Since we're not really truly farming yet, I don't really truly have an answer. But I CAN show you exactly what the morning chores currently are. We're slacker farmers, because we don't start the morning routine until about 7:30 am.

First, the new Nubians get fed. Prior to the white pail set up you see below (called a Lambar), this was done by giving each of the six babies two regular human baby bottles each. That took a whole lot of hands and was just a big bucket of chaos. The Lambar has really really eased the hassle of this task, which takes place three times per day. Plus, their hineys sticking up in the air is adorable... especially when accompanied by the trademarked goat sneeze/fart. The spotted rear end you see in the bottom right of this picture is Ringo, who still hasn't figured out how to use the Lambar. The little babies took right to it, but Ringo just isn't all there in the head. That's why he only gets to sing the goofy songs.

Next up, feeding time for Ferdinand the bull. (Surprise! Another new farm animal!) Ferd (cracks me up to call him Ferd - say it out loud... hysterical) is easy to feed. Dump a half gallon of slightly warmed milk into the bucket and off you go. He also gets fed three times per day. Of course, there's the mandatory few minutes of standing there watching him going, "Awww... how sweet is he?!?" This morning I decided to "tape" him to see how much he weighs. (We have these tape measures called "weight tapes" that, rather than inches around, shows you how many pounds the animal is.) He weighs 76 pounds and is three weeks old. I'm really glad there was no one in the barn with me this morning watching me try to tape the wiggly little bugger. Did you know that even if you're leaning over a calf from behind wrapping a measuring tape around him behind his front legs that he can still sucker-kick you pretty hard in the belly. It's true.

Now off out to the field to feed Buttercup. B-cup is currently at my friend Loni's house getting her groove back with their bull (who is quite a looker I must say). This is an old photo. So, we currently have a break from the 2 second routine of dumping her bucket of grain into her feeder and filling up her hay bin until she comes back home (hopefully knocked up) in a couple of weeks.

After Buttercup is safely ensconced in her stanchion and chomping some oats and corn, Buttons gets her morning grain, only in a pan on the floor. Eventually we'll build her a stanchion as well, but not for a while.

Now a hop skip and a jump over to the goat yard. First the dogs get fed, otherwise they'd be out trying to steal grain from the goats - goofy things. Craig has done a Cesar-tastic job of training the puppies not to mob us, Abby and/or each other when the food bowls get put in the pen. They have to sit and look only at him, not at the food before he'll put the bowls down. The quietest one gets to eat first. Abby is much too refined to play that game.

After the dogs are fed, it's time for the slightly dangerous, heart pounding task of feeding the Boer herd. You see... the Boers will mob you for the grain bucket. Literally. And, with fifteen 150 pound goats with foot long horns mobbing you, you had better be quick on your feet. I wish I could get a good video of Craig feeding "the girls". He has an awesome "feint left, pivot right and fill a dish" move that should really be seen to be believed. Maybe he should try out for a football team. Please pretend that old trailer in the background by the barn is not there. I begged and pleaded to get it hauled off, but nooooooo... "it'll be spot on for storage". Sigh.

After leaving the goat yard, there is a poultry parade with an escort of "yard birds" waiting to be fed. These foul fowl would wait all day to walk you down to the chicken house honking, quacking and crowing if they thought there was a bit of corn in it for them.

First things first in the chicken house - gotta shoo off the chickens who woke up late and/or forgot to lay their morning egg. Sometimes they just don't feel like getting up off the nest yet and you have to slide an offending hand underneath them to grab the eggs while they try their damndest to peck off a finger. Those warm eggs feel really good when it's cold outside, though!

When the hens are off the nest, the inside flock gets a handful of cracked corn tossed in the straw floor of their house. They are fed "free choice" from a hanging feeder a really nice organic "laying mash", but they go nuts for that tiny bit of corn in the morning. Some birds have no environmental consciousness. These 13 ladies and their two token men-friends stay inside the coop for now, although they do have a caged outside run. They're my egg layers, and I really despise a daily easter egg hunt for my breakfast. When the weather is warmer they'll be let out during the day and brought in at night time. Provided they continue laying in the nest boxes and not in random places around the yard. Hear that girls??

Everyone's off the nest and scratching around for corn, so now it's time to gather eggs. We usually get about 10 eggs a day, and we just tuck them in our jacket pockets while we finish up the rest of the chores. Sometimes you forget that there are eggs in your pocket until you bend down to fill up a water dish and feel a crunch. It's really hard to get crunched egg out of a jacket pocket. Maybe I should get a basket.

With the inside hens attended to, the yard birds get their morning treat. These birds do a lot of fending for themselves keeping bug populations down, so they don't really depend on this feeding for sustenance. During the cold months we increase their corn, but mostly we feed them just so that we can stand around and do pretend voices for them. The big grey goose sounds like Cartman. "Screw you guys.. I'm going to the pond!"

Last but not least in the morning zoo is good old Mo. He has done his manly duty for the season and is back down in his own yard. He just gets a little tiny bit of grain and some hay, all of which is delivered with one hand because the other hand is holding your nose. Stinky old git.

And then FINALLY - back inside for coffee... phew! This only takes around half an hour if you're fast and have no heart. A couple of hours if you have to stand and pet every single animal on the farm. :)

Now to find a place in the routine for PIGS!!!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Lord willing and the creek don't rise

Ooops... too late, the creek rose. And rose... and rose.

The private road off the "highway" to our farm is about a mile long. Just off the highway, the road crosses a cute little creek where we sometimes see deer coming down for a drink. After the last few days of rain and ice melt, the cute little creek ain't so cute.

It finally made it to the point where Craig's redneck truck won't cross it, so we're totally flooded in. Recently he tried to cross the creek and the spare tire underneath the truck washed out of its little holder and floated down stream. The tire is currently hung up on a log, so we'll have to wade for it as soon as the water recedes a bit.

The massive amount of water has made it almost impossible to feed the cows. The boot sucking, knee breaking mud is so deep that we almost have to wear waders out to the field.

The ducks are enjoying it, though! Now where did I put that ark?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dairy Babes

Our mini-herd of dairy goats is complete (for now)! They're tucked in their temporary home on one side of the goat yard. And they're absolute adorable!

Provided I can get them up to weight by November, we'll breed then for April babies. They seem sooo small to be considering breeding them this year. But then - they grow so fast. Ringo is a little less than a month older than the smaller ones, but look how much bigger he is!

You've met "Hey Jude" and "Elfie" and "Ringo", the newest additions are "Penny Lane" and "Dear Prudence". The two new girls have already blended in nicely. After just a little bit of a hassle with bottle feeding (we use a different nipple than they were used to), they've settled and are almost up to their ~20 ounces per feeding.

Maddy and I are becoming old pros at handling bottles for 5 goats. The evening feeding is my favorite. We go on into their shed (the door behind them in the photo) with a flashlight. The babies can't decide if they'd rather have the bottle or pounce on this funny stick with a light on the end. The bottles win, of course.

In a month or two, we'll move them and separate the boys and girls into two different areas. I'd like them to get a little bit bigger before we do that, though. Right now they need the body heat of all five tucked in together.

Monday, February 2, 2009


Craig's been giving me the stink-eye about bringing new animals home. So, I did a little experiment to prove him wrong, that we do NOT have more animals than we had intended. That experiment backfired and I'm a little ashamed of myself. Not enough so to stop getting animals; that's step 6. For now, though...

Hello, my name is April and I'm a farm animal addict.

The Farm Roster

Buttercup and Buttons, Jersey cows - 2
Boer Goat Sr. Does - 8
Boer Goat Jr. Does - 5
Boer Goat Buck - 1
Boer Goat Wethers - 5 (will be eaten)
Boer Goat babies due in March - approximately 14
Hens - 13
Flock roosters - 2
Roosters that will be eaten as soon as I get around to butchering them - 12
Dogs: Jake, Spunky, Buddy, Abby, Jack, Gizmo and Julia - 7
Helen, the Peahen - 1
Fez, the Pheasant - 1
Geese (Momma and "You Bastard") - 2
Runner Ducks (Cagney, Lacey, Starsky and Hutch) - 4
Muscovy Ducks (Freckles and Copernicus) - 2
Mallard Ducks (Hughie, Dewie and Louie) - 3
Yin, the good for nothing cat - 1
Nubian bucklings - 2
Nubian doelings - 1

See... that's only 86 animals. Sheesh.