Saturday, June 28, 2008

May 18, 2002 - June 28, 2008

Last night, June 27th, I went out to milk our goats and found Firefly on the ground. She wouldn't get up. We determined that it was probably hypocalcemia (milk fever). We treated as if this was the problem, drenching her with calcium and giving her Vitamin B complex shots. Nothing seemed to help at all. By 6:00AM our dear, beloved Firefly left her earthy life behind.
She will be missed tremendously.
Our children did amazingly well and even helped bury her. Kelsey Anna built a sign and they all sang a song that we often sing in Church called "Memory Eternal".
Her memory will forever live within us.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Ag Update

We had a very busy weekend with going to a Civil War Reenactment and of course everyday farm duty.
Here are a couple pictures from the Civil War Reenactment. Nicholas brought his toy rifle and wanted to join in the fun. James caught him on camera and it is so cute. He'd pretend he was in the battle and would cock his gun and shoot every now again. Work real hard at aiming too. Here you can see the Union in the background as they start the battle.

At the confederate camp we ran into a woman that was making rope and she let the children help her so they could learn.

Now to the farm. We have had many days without rain...yeah! My beans are sprouting up and so are my cucumbers...FINALLY! I still have many rows of beans to plant. I know it is very late but this weather has been horrible. I'm just praying that since spring/summer didn't start until mid-June that maybe we can have it extend into fall. Please!?
Our 3 remaining kids are growing in leaps and bounds. Sorry no photo right now. John and Feta are almost 6 weeks old and will be weaned in another 2-3 weeks. Brie is 3 weeks tomorrow.
Butter and Firefly continue to give me over 2 gallons of milk a day and with the 2 kids gone I have way more than enough milk. I've started making mozzarella and ricotta cheese. I know you want to buy some, Matt, I'm just not sure I can sell my cheese and even if I could how would I ship it. So let me work on all of that. I do plan on making soap soon so keep that in mind. I've also discovered an amazing moisturizer when I make mozzarella cheese. You have to knead it and by the time I'm done my hands have never felt so good. If you saw my hands you would know what I mean. I am constantly washing my hands and I don't wear gloves when I work outside unless I'm hauling manure or pruning something thorny. I just know there has got to be something sellable in that whey that is squeezing out of the mozzarella. Stay tuned.
Below you can see our resident Douglas squirrel. There are actually 2 or 3 that hang out in the big cedar out front. We've been wondering if there is a mating pair out there and we've determined, after looking at this picture closely, that this is definitely a female and she has a little
kits somewhere. I just read they usually have 4.

She is not afraid of us! Look at how close Kelsey got!

Have a great week!!!

Pssstttt...someone turns 40 in 4 days.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Ag Update

Wow! It's been 3 days since I posted. When will I learn that time flies!!?

Goat update. I sold 2 bucks yesterday, they'll be picked up tomorrow. It just happened. I didn't even try and wasn't expecting to sell them for at least another month. Sherie of Maplebrook Farm where I bought Firefly and Butter last year had a doe not kid as she expected. Apparently she just didn't take and they didn't notice until on due date and beyond no kids appeared. She does homeschool classes in her home on farm life. We went to one last year on goats, mentioned here. She has a class all set up for next week but no kids to have for the class. So she is buying Snowcap and Lefty for her class. She'll later sell them, but for now I'll be down 2 goats. Two goats I won't have to feed and 2 goats I won't have to worry about selling. I'll really be in the milk then as they drink a 1/2 gallon a day just the 2 of them.
I do need to get making cheese now and yogurt! I hope I can finally get that right. Thanks to Theron for the cooler idea I think it will work. We'll try it out today.

Yesterday I planted a bunch of beans and cucumbers. We had great sunshine for several days in a row and now the rain and clouds are back. We've had a most disappointing spring.
My try at starting tomatoes from seed has pretty much been a complete flop. I am learning from the flop though. Out of 30 plants I MIGHT have about 5-8 that are strong and healthy. Well, I guess that is 5-8 I don't have to buy. I really wanted a HUGE crop this year for canning. :(
My big flock of 38 chickens has really been a disappointment so far and I cannot figure out why they are not laying like they should be. I am only getting about 20 eggs a day from that flock. I should be getting at least 30! UGH! What am I doing wrong?
More research.
That's it for now.
Have a great day!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Ag Update

Time flies when you are having fun. :)
Life is crazy busy right now and I'm increasingly aware that this internet blogging thing is really hard to keep up. So for now my goal is to do an "Ag Update" on a regularly basis a minimum of every 3rd day. I had my expectations set too high on daily goals and that just isn't going to work. If I happen to get on more than every 3rd day then GREAT. you go...what's happening here...

We often are seen picking, by hand, grass for the chickens. We do this by hand if it has been raining or is raining or the grass is too long for the chickens. Is is not a fun job and so I sometime use it as a consequence for complaining of an everyday job. (Complain=extra work...yeah I'm mean.) Anyway, the bottom line is that the chickens love grass and eat it up. It's what helps make their yolks so bright and beautiful. Here I found Nicholas with a long pruner trimming grass for the chickens. (This is the tool we used to use to edge everything when I was growing up, long before weed wackers came along.) I just thought it was so cute how is was sitting in this grass that was well over his head, talking or singing, and cutting grass to fill a bucket.
We have had one of the coldest springs ever! The weatherman says we've broken the record for the coldest start to June which was set in 1917! Needless to say, my garden is not pleased and is having a hard time getting a start. The apples are doing well, I think. I don't know much about apples yet but all 3 of my trees are covered in tiny little apples like this one.

Here is one of my garden beds, bare and cold. Half of it is planted with corn seed but that took over 2 weeks to finally sprout and they are now just barely peeking through the soil. I almost gave up on them. The weekend is suppose to be really nice and I hope to work very hard at getting the beans in as well as more cucumber. On the right side of the picture you can see the tent that goes over my tomatoes. Tomatoes are not well in this weather even with the tent. I have another 10 plants yet in the house that I hope to harden-off over the next week of so.Goats! Kid goats are doing very well. The triplets are now a month old and really looking big. They are so friendly and I attribute this to being bottle fed. We are definitely their mama's. They'll jump into your lap to sit and everything. The twins are a week and a half and will be disbudded today. The 2 oldest bucks will lose their buckiness today as well. Below is a picture of Snowcap and Feta.

Here they are looking for food (in all the wrong places). From left to right...Snowcap (walking away), John, Lefty and Feta, with Brie in the background.
What a handsome boy! This is John.

And another handsome boy...Lefty, chewing on the fence.
This picture is so cute. John on the left and Feta on the right with Snowcap on the stump. The two look so much alike!

On our front deck we have this bird feeder. Which other critters have found and that's alright as it does have sunflower seeds and peanuts in it. Here you can see someone's tail and ears peeking out. Did you find it?

Here we have our friendly farm chipmunk the children have named Pipp (since recently watching the new Disney movie Enchanted). Look how full his cheeks are. When I took this picture he was scared stiff. :)

The egg count is mediocre. I'm trying to figure out why it isn't higher because with 55 chickens I should be getting way more than 25 eggs a day!! It's frustrating actually! I have periodically found the new flock running around with egg shells so my newest suspicion is that they are eating them, being cannibalistic. So to investigate that I'll be collecting eggs many times throughout the day instead of all at once at the end of the day. With our first flock the excitement of collecting eggs was high so the children naturally collected eggs all day long but we didn't do this with this flock so maybe they just are to tempted. I'll keep you posted.

Milk production, on the other hand, is VERY good. Between the 2 goats we get over 2 gallons of milk a day. The kids drink over 1.5 gallons of that. Once they are weaned we will be rolling in the milk and our soap business will begin, not to mention making yogurt and cheese as well.
Kelsey has been working hard at naming our soap products and she has created such things as Feta's Facial Foam and Firefly's From Filthy to Clean Body Wash. :)

Have a great weekend!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Nearly a week old!

I can't believe how fast time goes. We have become SO much busier than I ever imagined with all these new animals and now milking 2 goats two times a day.
We are waking at 5 AM to prepare for the day. At first I was out and milking by 5:30AM but I have slowly started changing that as I have found that 5:30AM/PM is not really doable for us. There is Church some evenings at that time and dinner used to be on the table when daddy got home at 540PM. So I've decided that 8:00AM/PM is going to be a much better schedule for us when it comes to milking. It leaves the evenings free for services if need be and dinner on time. I might change my mind after working those times for awhile. I'm not sure that there really will be a perfect time ever. There will always be some conflict, BUT we are farmers now and we need to accept that we are stuck on the farm most of the time.
We will be making the switch slowly so as not to cause too much problem in the goats, such as engorgement and decline in milk production.
Speaking of milk production, I am now getting 2 gallons of milk a day between the two goats. Most of it is from Firefly, Butter is giving only 1 quart each milking. Her teats are SO small I can hardly milk anything out of them.
Here are some pictures....the ones of Butter and her new kids are about 5 days old but I wanted to post them because you can really see how much they all three look alike!
Oh, yeah, I forgot to tell you....
Introducing Snowcap and Brie!
Charissa named the doe Brie to go along with all the dairy names for our does. And guess who named the little Buck....daddy.

Here is little Brie being fed by Charissa.

Here we are all, feeding the kids. From the front of the picture you Charissa feeding Brie ( you can't see Brie though), Nicholas is feeding John, Kelsey is feeding Feta, I am feeding Lefty and Joseph is feeding Snowcap.

I just thought this was a cute picture...Kelsey and Feta.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


As I stated yesterday, I was pretty confident that Butter was going to kid and sure enough she did. She kidded somewhere between 4:15 and 5PM. She had a pretty long labor and I got a little worried for a bit because it was taking so long. I did have to "explore" to make sure that there wasn't a jamb in the canal. I was thankful there wasn't. She was just a first timer and wasn't stretched out. The first born was a little buck and he took many, many pushes before coming out. I tried to help her by pulling gently on the legs but I don't think I did much good.

About 20-30 minutes later a little doe was born.
She seemed a little weak at first and needed help to get spit out. You take them and hang them gently upside down and swing carefully to create a centrifuge effect. It worked. She coughed and sputtered and finally cried a little.
The little buck has Butter's ears and the doe has dark ears but besides that they coloring and spotting is amazingly similar to their mother. I love their little caps! They both look so much alike and they both look so much like their mother. This is the little buck.

At first I thought Butter was going to let her babies nurse. I almost got the doe to latch on when Butter decided she'd had enough and kicked her away. That's when I decided that all this latch on training was too much (I'm such a worry wart!!!!! that i just had to get food into them) and got the milk bucket and milked enough to give them each a few tablespoons. We then spent the next couple hours trying to get them to bond and latch but she just wouldn't have it. So I milked again and fed them a few more tablespoons. I got a "cave" ready for them in the kid stall and put all my kids to bed. An hour later I went and milked Butter, enough for two night feedings.
The 2 new kids ate 6 ounces each at 11pm and 3am, without any trouble at all. They took to the bottles very easily and fast. When I fed at 11pm I brought them in with their momma and fed one at a time. The little buck walked around calling and following his momma around and she walked in circles not letting him near her. She talked to him the whole time and would sniff and lick him but wouldn't let him near her body. After a bit she started butting him, which made me nervous.
They've done well now on their 3 feedings so far. Butter calls for them once in awhile and we've let her in to see them but she sniffs and makes sure they are okay and walks out to the other stall. Silly girl!!!

These pictures were taken by my 11 year old dear daughter and she took over 200. :) I need to get some better pictures of them up and about. Of the pictures on this page the first 3 were taken by Kelsey Anna and the next three by Charissa.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Birthing day?

Butter's ligaments are gone and her milk is coming in. She is acting strange. This is her first kidding and she is probably wondering what the heck is happening to her.

"What's this enormous thing hanging down under me?"

I pray that instinct will kick in and she will become a very good mother. My guess is that it will be single birth sometime today. When we noticed Firefly's ligaments completely gone she kidded 10-12 hours later. At 1:30AM she had ligaments, at 5:30AM she didn't.

She is resting for the big event. Firefly is with her for moral support and also is experiencing some of those sympathy pains, etc. She is laying there right along with Butter moaning and what not just like she did when she was very big in pregnancy. So I think she is just being sympathetic.

And I just had to show you these cute little kids curled up and resting in their little cave.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Weekend on St. Brigid Farm

Besides battling strep throat in the children we kept busy.

First, the kids (not children) were taken to go through the horrible experience of being disbudded. Poor babies didn't like it very much ( I don't blame them) but they got over it pretty quickly (at least that is what I am telling myself).
They are growing rapidly. They love to run around and play in their little yard. They are also starting to nibble on real food. In fact John has been seen eating whole leaves. It is really fun feeding them and we love to give visitors opportunity to do so. Last weekend we had cousins over and they really had fun feeding the baby goats. This next weekend we'll have some friends visiting and they have a 3 year old daughter who will really have fun feeding baby goats.

If you look closely on the top of Lefty's head you'll see the disbudding marks.

Butter is due to kid in just 2 days. Her body is getting ready. I really do hope that her instincts will kick in and she'll allow her kid(s) to nurse. I pray this is the key to taming her down to become a good milking goat.
I cleaned out the stall on Saturday morning as well.

Firefly continues to give me an enormous amount of milk for which I am very grateful. I tried my hand at yogurt last night but it didn't work. The oven didn't keep it warm enough (90-100 degrees) for long enough. I had hoped it would have but it is electric and no pilot light to help with heat. So I'll try again but this time during the day so I can keep an eye on the temp.
James and I have decided to jump into making soap. We sat down and went through the recipes and equipment and hope to start as soon as we can get some lye (which is really hard to find these days). Goat milk soap is supposedly a wonderful moisturizing soap, great for your skin! If interested in trying it out let me know and I'll keep you in the loop regarding availability.

The garden is getting underway. I'm a bit disappointed that once again things are getting in late. They are earlier than last year so it's not TOO bad. We did have such a crazy cold spring that it was hard to work the soil. I have corn in and squash and cucumbers and today I intend on planting potatoes and beans.
The three apple trees are FULL of pea size apples.
I transplanted 10 tomato plants on Sunday afternoon. They are called 'Heinz' and are saucing tomotoes. I really pray they make it. I so want TONS of tomatoes for canning. I have 20 under a tent in the garden and several of those aren't going to make it. I need to build a second tent for this new batch. Plus I have 8 red pepper plants that need a nice warm place to live.