Not the Spring we planned!

Spring…usually the time for new babies, planting gardens, new pastures, building new structures and cleaning up after winter. This spring has been very different!

 

Injuries

My husband works as a firefighter in a major city in California. Last week he was working on a structure fire and cut his wrist on glass from a broken out window and lacerated a major tendon. It was repaired by a great doctor and now he is recovering. It takes 6-8 weeks for a tendon to heal. He will have to go through therapy to get everything working correctly again. This leaves me running the ranch! Most of the time he is gone for 2-4 days at a time and I have no problem keeping up with things. This time it is a bit different. Between regular maintenance, feeding schedules, milking, homeschooling, 4-H’ing, softball, cooking, cleaning….I am falling behind. Hopefully I will be able to get a plan in place and keep everything going until he is able again. Until then…don’t get mad if there are dishes in the sink and laundry isn’t done!

 

Babies

Our goats did not fair well this year with kidding. We had two does miscarry about 3 weeks before they were due and we lost a doeling at 6 weeks of age. I have cried a lot and racked my brain for what went wrong. We have had a 100% perfect kidding rate until this year. I finally came to the conclusion after a lot of research that the two does miscarried due to a selenium deficiency.

I am a firm believer that the hay that you purchase does not have the minerals and vitamins that it is “supposed” to have. Even though we are feeding barley fodder we still feed a good amount of hay. The young, sprouted barley does NOT contain a significant amount of selenium and therefore you have to supplement. Grass Hay like timothy or orchard grass is also low in selenium. Alfalfa can either be selenium rich or deficient depending on where it is grown. The Northwest is one area that is deficient and where we purchase our hay. All this added up to having selenium deficient animals during pregnancy. It has been a hard lesson learned.

So how to I fix this?

We have always provided our goats with free choice minerals from Bar Ale called Western Goat Minerals. So, evidently it is not enough for them. We have always used Bo-Se to supplement selenium before kidding and the two does I missed giving it to this year are the ones that miscarried. It is hard to say, but I am to blame. Now I know the importance of it and will be sure that they get it before kidding and before they are bred.

The good news is we had our Toggenburg give birth to a healthy buck and she is milking great! Our Nigerian, Olivia, was ultrasounded with a single but surprised us with triplets! We still have my Oberhasli does to kid in June and even though one miscarried I am hopeful on the other two.

 

Gardens

We planned on having a large garden this year and selling the extras at the farmer’s market. Unfortunately, our well had other ideas. Our storage tanks were not filling up as quickly as they used to and even after replacing the pump it didn’t change. Our water table has dropped and we need to deepen our well. So until we have a solution for deepening our well we will be frugal with what is pumping and possibly have water transported in.

We have learned so much from purchasing this place! I would highly recommend hiring a well company to come test your well and be sure you are there when they test. We recently found out that this was a known issue before we purchased the property and now we are paying for our mistake.

 

Building

Each year we try to build a new pasture or increase the size of the ones we have already built. Our plan was to build a large pasture for my Nigerian and Oberhasli bucks. They are currently in our old dog run next to the house. I don’t know if you have ever been around bucks before but they have a lovely way of perfuming themselves with a smell that ONLY lady goats would love. We wanted to move them far away from the house! With everything going on we had to put the project on hold.

 

Ranch and farm life isn’t always what you see in the magazines and on television. It has it’s ups and downs. We love it though and just keep on keeping on.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

**I am not a vet or do I claim to know everything about goats and other animals. Please talk to your vet before you make any changes to your goat’s diet and supplements.”

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Quartz Ridge Fodder System 2.0

After running our successful fodder system for six months we decided to make some much needed improvements. We have found that the plastic trays crack pretty easy when the trays are holding fully grown fodder. Replacing the trays on a monthly basis was getting costly and we looked for a more permanent solution. We also were hand watering all the trays and it was adding to our daily chore time. Also, when it came to drainage the trays were not as exact as I wanted and we ended up with a slightly muddy floor on occasion.

After doing some research on various fodder systems we decided to use rain gutters for the hardware store. We found that two 20 foot rain gutters was a little more than the 6 trays of fodder we were producing. We used a wood frame to support the gutters and made sure that they were set at an angle of 1.5” drop every 10 feet. So, for our 20 foot span the height difference between the two ends is three inches.  

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On the higher end of the gutters we have an automated watering system. We are using a a sprinkler timer set to go off every 6 hours for 12 minutes. Pretty much we run enough water through the system so we have clear water coming out the other end. It will all depend on your gutter or tray size, your angle and your drainage. So make sure that the entire length of the fodder is getting a good rinsing.

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Using PVC plumbing we have the water flow into an Orbit Adjustable Flow 8-Port Drip Irrigation Manifold for 1/4″ Tube.

 

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The manifold allows us to direct the water into the gutters using 1/4” drip line. The manifold shown in the photo below is not one I would suggest due to it leaking.

 

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The manifold allows us to direct the water into the gutters using 1/4” drip line. We also placed an in-line control valve on the 1/4” drip line so we can stop the flow of water the night before we harvest the fodder so it is not dripping wet. We have them attached with fancy binder clips. I have seen people drill holes in the end caps to put the drip line through but we wanted to be sure everything can be adjusted if needed.

 

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The gutters are attached together using the coordinating parts from the home improvement store. Since we did a 20 foot span we had to put one connection and two end caps per gutter. This does get pricey BUT the cost of trays every month were getting to be a lot more. You can see the gutters we used here, and the coordinating joiner and end caps. Total we spend $25 on each gutter. We had been replacing approximately 30 trays a month at $2 each…so $60 a month in disposable trays over six months of growing fodder so far. We were basically throwing money away.

 

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Here is a view down the fodder channel. We try to pour the seeds as even as possible to get a nice even mat at the end of the growth cycle.

 

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At the end of the gutter, we have placed a bulkhead screen and washer to let the water drain out properly. You can find them at FarmTek or your local nursery. They are screwed into a PVC threaded-T and allows for the water to drain out via a PVC system. We have ours going out to the garden so we can recycle the water. I do NOT suggest recycling your water back into your fodder system as there is a lot of starch that comes of the seeds as they sprout. It will cause mold and slime issues.

 

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We have found that some water pools at the end of the fodder tray and so we keep the seed back a bit from the drain to prevent mold or fermentation. It has worked so far and allows the fodder to stay fresh. At harvest, after 8 days, we roll the mat up and then cut it every few feet. It is then taken out to the animals to eat.

 

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After we harvest the fodder, I turn the in-line valves back on and let the water flow a bit while I take a scrub brush with a bit of dawn soap and clean the gutter. At the end I use a bucket vacuum to suck anything that is left to make sure the trays are clean and sanitized. If you are having a problem with slime or mold it is a good idea to sanitize your trays or gutters with hydrogen peroxide or vinegar.

 

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If you have not seen our fodder routine you can read our blog post. The only thing we do differently now is put the seeds into the gutters instead of trays. I think in total it takes about 30 minutes out of my day to feed twice it twice a day. Most of the time is spent on cleaning the gutters to prevent mold.

 

Here is one of our many mischievous Muscovy ducks that likes to sneak into the fodder room and eat their way to fatness!

 

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Spring has Sprung!

We are raising Freedom Ranger chickens this year to sell to our friends and community.

 

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The chicks are housed in a 4×4 tote that has been cut in half and filled with stove pellets to keep the ground clean. In the past, we have used heat lamps but due to us being off-grid and relying on our battery bank through the night we found the Brinsea Brooders use the least amount of energy. So far they have worked great and everyone is warm and active. I would not use them in a room that is super cold because I don’t think it has the capability to heat that much but at room temperature it works perfect.

 

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I fell in love the the Lavender Orphingtons I have been seeing online and decided to order a couple dozen hatching eggs. Unfortunately, our hatch rate was horrible! I ended up with five chicks out of the 25 eggs that were sent. I have always had success in my Brinsea Incubator so I am left wondering what happened.  I plan on ordering another set of eggs and trying it all over again.

 

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This little one is getting his or her feathers in. I am really hopeful I have at least one rooster and one hen.

 

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Not only are we raising little chickens we also have four Muscovy ducks in and out of the house. At night they get to go into a tote to stay nice and warm and during the day back outside. The nice thing about Muscovy ducks is you can tell the differences between males and females pretty quickly. The males get big fast and the little ladies stay petite. We probably won’t be keeping the males once they get to a certain weight because I have another chocolate and lavender male running around the ranch. The females will be here to provide us eggs and more ducklings down the road.

 

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We have had some hard times with our goats this year. We lost my first Oberhasli doeling at 5 weeks. I took her down for a Necropsy and there was nothing to report. It was heartbreaking and a huge blow to our perfect kidding record. Then we had Emily’s first freshener doe kid two weeks early and we lost the two bucklings. It is hard to type and admit to the losses but I think it is better to let people know it happens and it hurts but farm life goes on.

 

Here are some happy times with some of our yearling Nigerian Dwarfs:

 

Jack loves to run into the pasture and find “his goat”… this is Emmy giving him a hug.

 

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Emily loves to show me how strong she is and how she can still pick up the “babies”…this is Urban Acres SW Jit’RBug N’Jive.

 

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Oh and my sweet Elizabeth. She too likes to “hug her goat”…this is poor Emmy. (No goats were harmed in the taking of these photos)

 

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Next up to kid is A&W Farms CJ Valentine Olivia, she is due May 1st. Pleases keep us in your thoughts as we are hoping the troubles are behind us.

Tagging American Guinea Hogs

Since we have decided to increase our breeding of American Guinea Hogs we need a way to track who is who and who came from what litter. The American Guinea Hog Association does not require any tagging or tattoos on registered animals. I feel like it is important to tag or tattoo animals that are registered as the breed becomes more and more popular. You would hope that everyone is being honest about what animal is going with what registry certificate but you never know.

Until there is a identification standard for the American Guinea Hogs, we have decided that we will tag our hogs that are for food and our breeders will be left alone.

Currently we have three pastures that house our AGHs. One is for our boar, Willy, and whomever his mate at the time is (currently it is Kate). We have found that our boars are happy when there is a female companion in with them. The second pasture has the rest of the breeding sows and our other boar, George, who will be leaving soon. The next pasture has all the hogs that are weaned.

When I walk down to the weaner pasture it is a crazy mess. We have four sows and plan on having a farrowing every month. When the gilts and barrows get separated to be weaned, they all go into one pasture. This is where we need to make sure we know who came from what breeding and their age.

Below is a photo of our new tagging system. The little gilt with the white mark is sold as a breeder so she does not have a permanent identification. It also made it easier to pick her  and the other two we sold out of the group. The paint washes away in a couple days. The other gilt is tagged with a mini-tag from Tractor Supply. We mark it with a “M” or a “F” and a number using a special marker.

 

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Now, when we go down to feed and check on the hogs I know who is who. Pardon the Guinea Hen mixed in with the Guinea Hogs.

The tagging is just like getting your ears pierced and they hogs did not seem bothered by it one bit.

 

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In other news…have you ever seen a Livestock Guardian Dog eat its food? They lay down and eat. Jake just likes to put his head entirely in the bucket to eat.

 

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Jake’s Photo Shoot

Jake saw me taking photos today and he wanted in on the action. So I told him we would do a photo shoot.

 

I told him to look handsome…

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This is his shy look….

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The look of love…

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The don’t bother me I am doing a photo shoot look…

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The I am going to eat this tiny little lab for breakfast if she doesn’t get out of my photo shoot look…

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His better side…

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This is his please let me jump up on you and give you a hug look…

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Okay….just this once!

This makes him look short. His paws actually sit on my shoulders when I let him give me a hug.

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I love my Livestock Guardian Dog!

First Kidding of the Season: GCH PH-Oberjoyed HN Pandora

So where do I start with Miss Pan?

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She was technically due on February 12th…I have not had a life since February 12th! She was in pre-labor FOREVER! I finally told her last night that I was going to come at her with a needle full of Lutelyse if she didn’t get at it. Well, this morning she went into active labor.

She started to do a lot of this…

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And a little of this…

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and up again…

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and down again…and finally a bubble!

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She did a lot of pushing…

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and after a little bit of help we had a doeling!

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She is so beautiful!

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Her Mom is taking great care of her.

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And she is nursing like a champ!

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We have a poll going on our Facebook page to pick her name! Make sure you get your vote in!

Our Oberhasli Dairy Goats

 

Say “CHEESE”!!

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Pandora’s due date is today. That means I will be checking on her every couple hours until she kids. The goats really like to go into labor when my husband is at work. Maybe they are being modest…maybe they just want me all to themselves.

The other oberhasli goats are not due until June. I bred a lot later than usually this year but every time a goat was in heat there was a major storm. Talk about Mother Nature having her hands in all things!

 

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Here are a few of my pregnant Oberhasli goats. They all have naptime right around noon every day!

Front Left: PH-Oberjoyed DHL Crazy*Ober*U

Front Right: SGCH PH-Oberjoyed PH Fire N Ice

Back Left: C.L.G. Farms Bella

Back Right: CLG Farms JKS Blitz