Rest in peace

As you can tell by the title of this post, today did not go well.  I was able to get Hiccup, my goat, an appointment to get some x-rays done.  This morning, I fed him a bottle at 530 am.  He was not showing any improvement from last night.  By 11 am he was worse.  I could tell that he was not getting the fluid and nutrition that he needed.  He was starving to death.  I still kept the appointment for the x-ray because I wanted to know what happened.

By the time he arrived at the hospital his body temperature had dropped and he was very sluggish.  I knew that I would not be bringing him home.  He was deteriorating quickly.  The vet took 5 different x-rays.  None of them provided any answers.  Even without answers, I knew that putting him down was the right thing to do.

Life is complicated.  Death is even more complicated. I hated making the decision, but I am very thankful that he is not suffering anymore.  While they are with me, I love them, I do the best that I can to care for them and pray for wisdom. There comes a point where we have to hand it over to God and Nature.  There are many factors that I just can not control.

Hiccup was a year and a half.  He was full of life and had a wonderful personality.  I hope and pray that I can learn from my time with him to better my care of my other goats.  Rest in Peace my friend.

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This just stinks!

Farming is not easy.  There is a direct connection between life and death.  We raise animals for food.  Animals that we raise from a baby and then end up butchering.  That is not easy, but we understand from the beginning what the animal is used for and you are always emotionally preparing yourself for that.  Even those animals, if they die before the butcher day, it is very upsetting.  We have some animals on the farm that have a purpose, but are not going to be butchered for food.  Our whethered goats are an example of that.  They are spoiled rotten lawn mowers.  They keep the milking goats company and they keep the back pasture mowed. Other than that, they have no purpose.  All of our goats were hand raised as bottle babies.   It makes them so much easier to handle and overly friendly.  So yes, they are basically pets that eat grass, but they are cute pets that eat grass.

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We had a family situation that pulled us away from the farm for 8 days.  Luckily we have amazing friends that took care of the farm and the animals.  However, while we were gone one of the goats became ill.   No one is sure what happened, but the vet believes that he has a broken jaw.  We have tried everything that we can do here, and we now have to take him to a hospital for x-rays and sedation.  There is probably less than a 10% chance that he is going to make it.

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Searching for answers and trying to save a life and not torturing the animals while going bankrupt at the same time if a fine line.  We want to do everything that we can, but we want him to have a quality of life too AND he is just a lawn mower!  We don’t have thousands of dollars to put into this guy.  BUT, we raised him from a baby and he is part of the family.  No matter how you look at it, it just stinks. I hate having to make the decision to end a life, it just stinks.  I will keep you posted about what happens today and what we find out.

Jawbreaker

Do you ever go to bed at night and think to yourself that you better not leave anything for tomorrow because you never know what tomorrow might bring? I had that feeling last night, blew it off and it bit me in the butt! Woke up this morning to a goat foaming at the mouth an lethargic. Called the vet ASAP. Vet examined the goat, ruled out all illnesses and worms and found the problem is the goats jaw and jaw alone. His tongue works, no other neurological symptoms, his bottom jaw just does not close all the way. There is a possibility that it could be dislocated or broken. Not something we were expecting. Never leave stuff to do tomorrow that can be do today! 

Farm goings on of Fall

It is frustrating that in the summer I feel like I am so busy I never get to blog.  I guess it is life on the farm and there is always room for improvement.

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Garden:  The garden is still going.  We had our second frost last night.  We covered the beans and the peas, but we left everything else to get frost kissed.  My husband is building some amazing low tunnel covers for the garden out of recycled material.  The hoops are made of PVC that was given to us by a friend that was working on their house.  The plastic is from another friend who had a clean up job and took down an old green house. Finally the base is made out of pallet parts.  I think that it looks great.  Right now the crops are in 30 inch beds with 36 inch isles, to get the wheelbarrow through.  Once the soil gets better, we will make the isles much smaller.  Our thought is that we will make a 36 inch isle, 30 inch row, 12 inch isle, 30 inch row and then finally another 36 inch row.  We have to do a LOT of soil work on this property and I need to be able to get a wheel barrow to each row.  This would still allow me to access the row from one side.

Chickens: We have some new chickens on the farm.  We are experimenting with Icelandic chickens.  These chickens are suppose to be amazing foragers, help control bugs, good mothers, and avoid predators. They only lay medium size eggs and are not good meat birds, but we really need to control the ticks are on the farm.  This is a compromise with my husband who does not want guinea hens. For the most part they have been a pleasure. We had them get out one day, and they do like to roost very high up, but at least they can get out of danger. I have no idea why the picture is sideways!

 

The rest of our laying hens are molting.  There are feathers everywhere, it looks like there was a massacre.  We are going to be thinning out the flock, getting rid of the hens that are not laying, and redoing the inside of the coop in the month of November.  I am really looking forward to a fresh start and a clean coop for the winter.

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Pigs:  The GOS pigs have gone to butcher.  They were not as big as we would have liked, I think that is the difference of over wintered pigs and over summered pigs.  The over winter pigs are much bigger. We have added a resident pig to the farm to help a friend.   His name is Preston Poe and he is a Pot Bellied pig.  He lives in the field with the goats and after an adjustment period he seems to be doing well.

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Rabbits: Our rabbits have miscarried three times in a row, so we are done breeding rabbits at this point.  They are up there in age and I think that it was time.  They are now pet rabbits, they have served us very well and we want them to retire in comfort.  We have outside pens for all the boys and we are working on getting outdoor pens for the girls, now that we know they are not having anymore babies.  We are debating about getting a new breeding trio, but who knows.

Goats:  Life is never boring with goats.  There is many things to talk about, but I think that can be a post all on its own.  For the most part goats are doing well, and I am gaining gray hair by the day!

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Don’t be hard on yourself

I don’t know about you, but I am always so hard on myself.  No matter what I do or how long I work, there is always more to be done.  There are goals I have not met and food I have not preserved and floors I have not cleaned and games I have not played with the kids.  I beat myself up.  I collapse into bed at night and promise myself that tomorrow I am going to work harder and get more done.   Well, this morning I was slapped in the face with a piece of bacon, and it woke me up!

This morning alone, I have chicken stock cooking in the crock pot, from a chicken that we raised, with veggies that we grew. I have cured bacon for dinner and extra for breakfast, I took out ground pork to make sausage tonight, all from our pig raised on our land. I cheated for breakfast and had store bought greek yogurt, but I added home made strawberry sauce.  Made a cup of coffee and added goats milk that I got out of the goat yesterday and pasteurized last night.  Do you know that I had the audacity to be upset with myself because I did not make the yogurt from scratch and I added store bought sugar to my coffee instead of honey raised on the farm.

As homesteaders, we put so many expectations on ourselves.  And I feel like I can say “we” because I have talked to many others that feel the same way.  We feel like we have to do it all.  Bake the bread, raise the animals, grow the veggies, hand make all our clothes and gifts, clean the house, homeschool our kids…. the list goes on and on.  Why do we not take a step back and be proud of what we do and stop criticizing ourselves for what we don’t?

There is just not an easy answer to that question, I believe most people, no matter their profession, are hard on themselves.  Homesteaders especially, it is not like we can call ourselves lazy, we raise most of our own food!  Something inside of us strives to do more and to be better!  What is the answer?

Right now, I am going to take a step back and be proud of what we have been able to do!  I am proud of the fact that we raise almost all of our own meat.  I am proud of the garden and the food that comes out of it.  I am proud of these sore hands and back.  Yes, I want to do more.  But today I am going to be proud of what I have done, and not feel guilty about buying bagels for breakfast tomorrow, instead of making them from scratch. Take time today to be proud of yourself.  You are an amazing person,  no matter what you do, you do not have to always be perfect.  Hold on to your drive and let that motivate you, but don’t put yourself down.  Feeling good in what you have done is not a sign of weakness, but one of strength. Have a great day!

 

July Jitters

July is here and we are finally starting to see the fruits of our labor, well vegetables, I mean.  The tomato plants are growing a foot a day it seems and there are tons of green tomatoes on there.  My hands are aching just thinking about the canning in my future.  We have started to harvest kale, lettuce, some peas and herbs.  The next few weeks should bring squash, tomatoes, radishes, beans and more peas.  It is like waiting for Christmas morning, you can’t sleep, and you count down the days.  The whole family is jittery as we watch the plants grow.  This spring has made us wait longer than normal and the an anticipation is building.

The planting continues.  The vegetable garden is starting to look good, but we do not have much fruit growing on the property. Last year, we planted blueberries and raspberries and they transplanted ok, but this past winter and spring was really hard on them, we collected maybe a dozen blueberries off of 10 plants.   This year we decided to add fruit trees that produce within a year or two of planting.  Grapes, strawberries, figs and kiwi are in the ground and there is hope that we will get something off of them this season, but if not we know next year will be great.  The long term plan is that we get apples, peaches, pears and cherries going in an orchard, but that is a year or two down the line and will be built up slowly.  Those trees take years to produce.  Which is a good thing because I know nothing about how to grow them.

 

We are done with the meat birds for the  year and I am thankful to have one less chore in the morning.  Our freezer is full and we are looking forward to the turkeys being done.  They still have 8 more weeks, but we are halfway there and despite the foxes best intentions we have only lost 2 birds.

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The goats are our work force this summer and they are clearing the property line for us so that Soil Conservation can put a fence up in the fall.  We found out that we have been approved for the grant and we are moving forward in the next step of the process, which is proving to be as long and tedious as the previous steps.  We are remaining patient, this grant is a tremendous blessing and we are grateful for the help with the fencing task. Below is a picture of the next area the goats will clear.  Go goats go, eat goats eat.  We have even been tossing around the idea of getting more goats to help with this huge task.

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Piggie, Piggie, Piggie… they are growing great!  We had the vet out of give them a check up and we are estimating that they are around 100 pounds.  To celebrate the 4th of July we moved them to new pasture.  They enjoy eating the new grass and they really enjoy any extras we are getting out of the garden.  The Old Spot breed of pig is just amazing.  These animals are friendly, calm, and an all around pleasure to work with.  I am really looking forward to being able to have a sow here year round in the future once the fences and buildings are done.

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Now that the garden is producing and we have a full freezer it is time for us to cut the string that binds us to the grocery store.  Our goal has always been to produce 75% of our food on the farm, setting up the farm took longer than we thought and we have fallen far away from that.  I finally believe that we have turned a corner.  I am not sure that we will get to 75% this year because we will still have to buy most of our fruit and the goats are not producing milk yet, but we are getting closer.   So this is me putting it in down in writing, we have had a family meeting and we are committed to the challenge to eat what we produce.  We will buy local fruit but still get grains, oils and dairy from the store.  The hope is to transition to buying local dairy as well and only getting grains and oil from the store only.  Each member of the family has chosen two foods that they do not want to live without and we will continue to buy those, but we are ready to roll up our sleeves and make this transition.  I am excited, our homestead is finally taking shape.

 

June’s A Jumpin

I was talking with a friend this morning and I reviewed the list of things that I would be doing today, it goes something like this:

Breakfast, coffee, devotional, animal chores, plant crop of corn, cook breakfast for this kids, start them on their school work, process 30 pounds of strawberries, laundry, mop and wipe down kitchen after making jam, cook lunch, help kids with more school, clean up, work in garden till 6, cook dinner, eat dinner, clean up dinner, help with evening chores, bath children, shower, and pass out!

As I look at that list, a few things change from day to day, like I might weed instead of plant corn, or process beets instead of strawberries, but this is my day.  No wonder I do not have time to keep my blog up to date!  The difficult thing with never leaving work is you never leave work.  I never get to say “Ok, Im done for the day”.  The minute you do that a chicken gets out or someone throws up.  I do however, need to find a way to write more.  So here I am relaxing, thank you for listening.

The pigs have arrived!  They are doing great, we were able to move them out of their baby pen and into the field this week.  They are loving the grass and the open space.  Their names are Ketchup, Mustard and Relish.  We keep saying that we are going to have a race, like they do at the baseball game but it has not happened yet.  These pigs are just as sweet and lovable as our last ones and we are just head over heals in love with this breed.  It is looking more and more like pigs will become a forever animal on our farm.  Within the next year or two we will get a breeding pair to guarantee we always have this breed around.

 

We are almost down with our spring meat birds.  One batched has already gone to butcher and the second batch will go in about 2 weeks.  This is the first year we have really been able to put them out on pasture and we are, as always, learning new things.  The major learning curve this year has been predators.  We have lost many birds, to raccoons and fox this year.  The fox is continuing to be a problem, we have trapped some, but electric fencing around the outside of everything seems to be our only solution.  We have added many small fence chargers for the moveable bird pens and for the pigs and goats.  This seems to be working but we still live in fear.

Lastly, we are happy to announce that we received our cost share grant from  Soil Conservation.  It has been a long, very long process and we are not done yet, but they did tell us we have been approved.  We are excited to start the next step which is planning, estimates, building and yet more paperwork.  It is worth it!  I can not wait to be able to open up those fields and let the animals run.

Alright, enough relaxing for me, time to start chores.  I hope you have a great day!