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.

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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

Sunday Recap: Fencing, Watering, Finn Sheep and Breeding

It really doesn’t feel like winter around here. Usually we have a foot of snow, the animals rarely come out of their shelters and we rarely go out of the house. Not this year! I have been enjoying the days we have sun and getting some work done around the ranch.

I wanted to share with you the way fence in our hog pastures. We raise American Guinea Hogs, a heritage breed of hog that is pasture raised and smaller than commercial hogs.

We use field fencing with a strand of hotwire along the bottom to keep them from rubbing against the fence. Yes, you heard right….field fencing with a strand of hot wire. This holds in our boars, sows, weaners and piglets.

 

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You can see that Penny has found the one section of fence we have insulators on and is taking a nap.

 

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I have found that water bowls do not work with hogs. They like to tip them over, lay in them or push them around the pasture.

We use a Hog Nipple that is attached to a 50 gallon barrel. It works great and the water stays clean! My hogs use it and even my Livestock Guardian Dogs use it!

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We have been researching fiber sheep over the last few months. I really love raising heritage breed animals and wanted to find a breed of sheep that were considered a heritage breed. We came across a breed called  Finnsheep.

Finnsheep are a multi-purpose sheep that are well known for their ability to have multiple births (most often 3-4 lambs).  They are a heritage breed that has high quality soft wool, prolific out of season breeding ability, strong maternal instincts and premium lean tender meat.  Their are social, friendly, easy to handle attitude.  All this  makes them a well suited choice to any size farm.  Finnsheep are exceptional milkers, really good mothers, naturally polled (no horns) and are born with short tails that do not require docking. Their soft wool is highly sought after by both spinners and felters for it’s unique qualities.  Their lean tender meat is sought after by restaurants and food lovers alike.

We went to visit a farm that raises these amazing sheep. I loved how personable they were. You would scratch under the chin and they would sit like a dog and shake their tails!! I also was able to bring home a few bags of raw fiber to process and spin!

 

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After you say, “SHEEP, SHEEP, SHEEP!”

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I am on the home stretch of breeding season this year. All of my Nigerian Dwarves have been bred however, my oberhaslis were a little behind.

So this week I have my boys in two different pastures with their selections of ladies.

Smokey looks happy to have two girls to himself!

 

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Blitz on the other hand was too busy eating oak leaves to be bothered by the boy!

 

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Why Raise Heritage Breeds?

At Quartz Ridge Ranch we focus on heritage breed livestock. “Heritage” breeds are simply the older breeds that fell out of favor over the generations. Most of these breeds were common on small farms before the age of industrialized operations. Not too long ago, livestock was raised on pasture on farms large and small. Farmers had different breeds of livestock based on their environment and needs.

The American Guinea Hog was the original homestead hog. They are a pasture pig so they can grow out nicely on grasses. They provided the homestead a nice amount of lard which was used for baking, frying, soap making, feed and many others. The small size was perfect for a family as they did not have the ability to store meat for long periods of time. AGHs are also great parents, the farrow easily with a smaller amount of hogs enabling them to raise them up with little or no complications. They take longer to grow to slaughter weight but the meat is delicious and well worth the wait. They respect fences and do not root much so putting them in your garden for a cleanup is a great way to feed them for a bit.

 

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The Oberhasli goat developed in the mountainous areas of Switzerland and was imported to the United States in the early 1900s. They are known for giving about one gallon of milk per day for ten months. These goats are very gentle and confident. The wethers are used for pack animals because they do not startle easily and handle the various conditions found on the trail.

 

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The Delaware chicken was developed in 1940 and was used for the production on broilers. They are an excellent dual purpose bird known for rapid growth and fast feathering of the chicks. The cocks grow to 8 pounds and hens to 6 pounds. The Delaware chicken goes broody naturally and is great at raising her chicks. The roosters are calm and friendly. They forage well and are more economical to bring to market weights in a forage situation.

 

 

Fast forward a few decades and factory farming became popular. Factory farming is the process of raising livestock in confinement at high stocking density. The main products of this industry are meat, milk and eggs for human consumption. The first animals to be factory farmed were chickens. The discovery of vitamins and their role in animal nutrition led to vitamin supplements, which allowed chicken to be raised indoors. Then the discovery of antibiotics and vaccines facilitated raising livestock in larger numbers by reducing disease. In the 1960s pigs and cows began to be raised on factory farms. In 2005 factory farming accounted for 40% of world meat production. {Factory Farming Wikipedia}

Since the majority of livestock today is raised in Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (look up that word if you want an eye-opener) producers have bred for qualities enabling them to grow faster and larger in horrible conditions. Livestock now has lost their hardiness, foraging skills, feed conversion, intelligence, ease of breeding/birthing, nurturing instincts and a flavorful end-product.

As agricultural practices change to meet the increasing demands of the future, the genetic diversity and qualities of the older breeds become more and more important. The result has been extinction and near extinction of the foundation breeds of our country. Most people focus on the extinction of wild animals like wolves or owls when we should focus on all species. Livestock can go extinct too!

We focus on the rare old heritage breeds and help preserve the genetics and save them from extinction. We are a small ranch and can only do so much but there is a growing group of dedicated farmers and ranchers that are focused on saving these heritage breeds of livestock.

If you are interested in learning more about heritage breeds or how you can help visit the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.

Video Tour of Quartz Ridge Ranch

I wanted to share a little more about our ranch and so with my Bloggie in hand I visited all our animals.

I feel like we have a unique little ranch and some people hear me talk about different breeds or how easy they are to manage but seeing it is a different story!

I think I will do a video every once in a while just to showcase the different breeds or different projects we have going on. I think a video is a million times better than photos.

So, please enjoy a little taste of QRR…Welcome

 

 

Bella and Blitz: A kidding story

C.L.G. Farms Bella had us in kidding limbo for a week. I had her in her stall all set to kid and she was not progressing. I just figured she would kid on her own time and I needed to just leave her alone. I went out of the kidding stall area and looked into the pasture an saw C.L.G. Farms Blitz all by herself, pawing at the ground……she is about to kid!

I took Blitz into the other kidding stall and kept an eye out on her. I have heard so many scary stories about standard size dairy goats having kidding issues that I didn’t want to leave her alone for long. We noticed how she was trying to push for a while with no progress. I waiting a bit and then decided to go in a help. Luckily, my husband was there because this little one was not coming out.

We got our long gloves on, covered it in betadine and then lubed it up. I had no idea where this little one was stuck but by the look on Blitz’s face…she knew she needed help. I held her while Jeremy got its legs out. It seemed to be stuck with its legs out and head facing up. He massaged the head down until he could get the nose in line with the hooves. Then with each contraction, we pulled. He finally came out and was alive and breathing. Thank goodness!!

Without further ado, I would like to introduce to you Quartz Ridge SH Halite “Hal”:

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Hal is gorgeous! He is long and level and everything you can ask in a buckling. I am still deciding if we are going to sell him as a buckling or wether. I firmly believe that bucks should be few and far between but with his genetics it is hard to make that decision. I will see how he looks at 10 weeks.

Now…let’s not forget about Miss Bella who is still in the kidding stall watching her daughter (Blitz) kid. She decides it isn’t her night and beds down for the evening.

The next day we had to head down to the city and get some shopping done. I joked the entire day that Bella was going to kid while we were gone. Jeremy didn’t think so…well…guess who won!

When we pulled up Bella had just kidded a single doeling! She looked fine and she was a bit smaller in the head than Hal! Thank goodness! Bella kidded easily and took to her baby quickly.

Introducing Quartz Ridge SH Iris:

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Iris is beautiful! She is going to be a force to be reckoned with in a couple years.

Are you interested in Oberhasli’s? They are actually on the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy’s Conservation List and considered as a “Recovering” breed. That is what led me to them as I am a sucker for heritage breeds. I also have found their intelligence and personalities are unlike any breed I have owned.