This is a long overdue update. So much has happened since my last farm update. This update is all about goats, goat births and kids.
We had four pregnant does this year. Olive and Whisper, our 2 year old does gave birth to their first kids. Whispers was first. Her delivery went extremely well. She had her kids in the middle of the day and our 8 year old daughter got to watch the whole thing. She delivered on a cold snow day in April. We named the kids Frostbite (buckling) and Whisper’s Snowfall (doeling).
I’m so thankful it went so smoothly because Olive’s delivery didn’t go so well. She delivered early in the morning a few days after Whisper. I wasn’t prepared for what to do when a baby goat gets stuck in the birth canal.Her first buckling came out fine but the second was either dead when it got the the birth canal or shortly after. We finally got him out after instruction from the breeder (over the phone) on how to get a kid with a head and one leg presenting.Olive had two huge bucks and the surviving buck we named Moose.
About 6 weeks later our other two does, Sweetheart and Bo Peep gave birth to their kids. Right after I breed these two I realized their due dates were the same time as the women’s retreat I planning on going to. Actually, I was heading up the retreat so it would have been really difficult if I had to cancel my trip. I had everyone praying for my goats and that they would wait till I returned home to kid. Well, God is good and cares about our wants. The day I returned from the retreat Bo Peep delivered her single buckling. It was a smooth delivery and she had a healthy kid. Though we did have to help the buckling out.
Sweetheart was the last doe to deliver (a few days later) and besides having to pull her large buckling out, all went well. Sweetheart had a buckling and a doeling. The buckling was so adventurous right out of the womb, we decided to call him Huckleberry Finn. Which means Bo Peep buckling had to be named Tom Sawyer. Sweethearts doeling we named Widow (Douglas), partly because she’s mostly black but also because of the Huck Finn theme.
All the kids and mamas are doing well. It’s been fun having the kids around. They are so much fun to watch. I’m now if full milking mode. I’m milking 4 does in the morning but as of now only 1 at night. But that will change soon. Eventually I’ll be milking all four morning and night. My forearms and hands are going to be so buff. You can just call me Popeye 🙂
We plan to keep Snowfall because her mom, Whisper, is the best milker here.Very easy to milk. Munchkin milks her for me on a semi-regular basis. I’m hoping her doeling is just as good of a milker. We will also be keeping Sweetheart’s doe. I like the idea of having two young does together. All the boys will be going to new homes.
Why so many does in milk, you ask? Well, our next adventure is in pig raising. We plan to feed our pigs goat milk. I’m told goat milk raised pigs make amazing pork.
So much time has passed since I last gave an update on the happenings around our homestead. I’ve decided to split the updates between a few posts. Today I am going to give the farm animal update.
I really have no idea how many chickens we have on the farm. At one time I knew but I haven’t counted in a while. I know I have more than 40. One of the last batches of chickens we raised are the Dark Cornish bantams. As of now, we have eight of them. Four roosters and four hens. The smallest of these bantams is affectionately called Tiny. She is really cute. We will likely keep the four hens and one of the roosters. The roosters are beautiful little birds and their little crowing is so cute. Every time I hear them crow it makes me smile. Unfortunately, I have to have the bantams caged all the time. We had a either a small hawk or larger falcon kill one of them a few months ago. My husband made a nice little nesting box for the hens. And those little girls have started laying their tiny little eggs. These bantams will be our 8 yr old’s 4H birds.
We currently have sixteen ducks. Thirteen are Anconas and the other three are Pekins. I now have parents of the female Pekin we raised earlier this year. The three Pekins will be my breeding stock for next year. We also had our first duck meal last month from two male Anconas we butchered. They didn’t have much meat but the flavor was great. My family and I thought they tasted similar to beef. I can’t wait to try different recipes. I used every part of the carcass. The bones were made into stock and the fat was used for frying. Duck fat is great for frying! The plan is to raise more ducks for meat next year. The Pekins and male Anconas will be for meat and the female Anconas will be our egg layers.
The Chukar Partridge
I probably should have done more researched on raising chukar before we decided to venture into it ourselves. It appears that when chukar reach breeding age they become very violent. The are very pretty birds but very mean to each other. The oldest one of the group was responsible for at least one death. As of now we have four of the nine we hatched out. I guess I expected them to be more like quail but they are NOT. My husband is building a very nice chukar cage so we will probably keep them for a while but I’m not sure if they will be a good bird to raise. We have yet to have a chukar meal. If chukar meat is amazing then we will likely figure out a way to keep them.
Two of our four LaMancha does have been bred to a nice looking buck with very nice breed lines. The breeder says that he will likely produce some flashy kids with a very dairy conformation. Our other two does will be bred this month and come spring we will have a lot of babies running around here. And LOTS of milk! I will have to let you know about our plans with all the goat milk on a future post.
We added a new horse to the “farm”. She’s a 15 hand, 15 year old registered Quarter horse named Cheyenne. She’s a real nice mare but unfortunately went lame a few weeks after we got her. She is on the mend and will likely heal completely but I am taking it slow with her. I don’t want her to reinjure herself. The other two horse are doing fine. Though the two mares are biting at each other a lot. Both of them have bare spots on the manes. I’m not happy about that because this means they will probably need to be kept apart all the time. I’m hoping to get more riding time in these next few weeks before the cold sets in.
So, that’s it. I’m sure I could share much more but this blog post would never end. Next post will be an update on the garden. Lots of stuff to share about the garden.
The Farm Animal Count
- A bazillion chickens (somewhere over 40)
- 13 ducks
- 4 chukar
- 9 turkeys
- 5 goats
- 3 horses
- 2 dogs
- 2 cats
How are things at your homestead?
I really shouldn’t wait so long in between posts. There is so much I want to share about what’s been happening at the Fair Weathers Ranch. If I did write about all of it this post would never end. That’s how much has been going on around here. So, I am going just jump right in.
It’s a-growin. Garden Area 1 is now full of growing onions, strawberries, garlic, peas, chard, bok choy and kale. This is the first year I have had a active garden so early in the season. Garden Area 2 is all planted and slowly growing. The first couple of weeks after transplanting are usually slow and uneventful. But, I got everything in and I am happy about that. I had been battling a pesky ground squirrel that was determined to eat all of my lettuce. Fortunetly that particular squirrel is not a problem anymore thanks to the Squirrelinator. The Squirrelinator is so awesome. I have caught 7 at one time. I usually catch around 20-30 in during the spring season. I think once the trap caught 14 in one day! If you have a ground squirrel problem, you need the Squirrelinator.
Gophers on the other had are a bit trickier to catch. My best defense against gophers is my cat, Nick. He thinks gophers are delicacies because he loves to catch them. Unfortunately, sometimes the gophers do damage before he finds them. Garden Area 1 lost several onions and a couple of garlic before we were able to get the gopher. I am trying out a gopher deterant that I hope will work. One of my neighbors uses it and say it works well in small areas. It’s called the Sweeney’s Mole & Gopher Sonic Spikes. It’s supposed to drive moles and gophers away by sending a sonic pulse into the ground. It claims that 2 spikes can cover up to 15,000 sq. ft. I highly doubt it works that well but I am hopeful that when I place it in an area where I know there is gopher activity they will leave my plants alone. We will see.
The Farm Critters
We have had lots of baby birds hatching this past month. So far we have 9 Chukar, 5 ducklings and 5 poults (turkey babies). I actually hoped for more chicks but sadly something went terribly wrong during incubation. And I hate to say it was probably my fault that 7 unhatched baby ducklings and 5 poults died. I don’t know for sure if all of them were my fault but I think most. I got confused about the humidity levels and I think they didn’t have enough air for hatching :(. It’s sad. After all the hatching was said and done I decided to do a egg autopsy on the remaining unhatched eggs. That’s when I discovered the 13 of my 15 eggs had dead chicks in them. Some were fully developed and others seemed to have died earlier on. So that’s the life and death part of the happenings around our homestead.
We still have the 5 chicks that I hatched for the purpose of meat. I am not sure if I mention this already but we purchased 11 chicks from a hatchery a month and a half ago. Two of the hatchery chicks died so now we only have 9. These chicks are now in the shed outside but all the other baby birds are inside. Well, the baby ducks spend the day outside and then we bring them in at night. On top of that, we have 16 chickens, 2 turkeys and 2 bunnies we taking care of for our friends while they are away for the summer. The bunnies are fun since we don’t have any of our own. My little girls is loving holding and feeding little bunnies.
I also have more turkey and duck eggs in the incubator. I think this time things will go a lot smoother. At least, I hope so. Especially since I have 14 Muscovy ducks eggs that I bought off ebay in the incubator as well. I am really excited about these ducks because they are very useful for the homestead. They are excellent foragers. They eat FLIES! That’s enough reason for me but they also grow very fast and I have heard they taste like veal. One of our female Ancona ducks went broody so we may even have more chicks running around here too. 😉
Now about the new goat. We got a new LaMancha dairy goat and her name is Sweetheart. She really is a sweetheart too. Our BoPeep is giving us a consistent 1/2 gallon a day but we found ourselves in need of more milk so we bought a new goat. We were actually thinking about some how getting a Dexter cow but that didn’t work out. We may end up buying one next year but for now the goats are working out just fine. With our new Sweetheart we are getting 1 1/2 gallons of milk a day. Yes, that is a lot of milk but with my desire to make cheese, kefir and yogurt it is the perfect amount. Any extra milk we have we give to the animals. The chickens, ducks, cats and dogs love the extra milk.
Kids, Family and Such
Our eldest daughter will be away living in the mountains for a few months at a summer job. She seems to be really enjoying herself. I do miss being able to call her though. Our son is being a teenage boy :). He still loves listening to and playing music. We decided to keep him home at least part of the year next year. He was struggling in some of his classes. Not sure if it was the teachers, class sizes or laziness on his part but we have decided that he needs more one on one attention. And little munchkin has been keeping me busy. We live in an area were there are few children her age so she is constantly asking me to play with her. Trying to come up with activities for her to do is going to be challenging. At least she has the animals to keep her company ;).
Well, I think that’s all I will share for now. I have much more to share but I don’t want to “talk” your ear off ;).
How are things at your homestead? Are you enjoying the summer?