Friday, March 10, 2017

"Goats and Eggs and Seeds Oh My!"

Well, Springtime madness has hit the family farm! And it has been a busy whirlwind of exciting new and crazy adventures for this farm girl! Ive not had time to blog much for February and March, but wanted to share some of the new and exciting things that are going on!  For the first time EVER, I got to experience goat birthing! It was an amazingly humble and scary and life altering experience. Thankfully I have gotten to know a few local "goaties" who have helped me through this overwhelmingly and incredibly exciting time! Keep tuned...I'll fill you in I promise! But first I want to tell you how I was skipping and jumping with delight because after 9 long months, my ducks have finally decided to start laying eggs again! Not sure why last summer they quit, but my non-seasonal layers quit when the seasonal ones did! Hope they don't do that again! A dear friend of mine shared some of her flock, and I now have blue/green chicken eggs again! Oh, and of course my seed starting adventures didn't come without trials and stories too....
First thing I had to do was finish up the goat barn.  I needed to install mineral and baking soda trays, build hay racks, add water buckets, heat lamps, and safely make sure electrical cording is put out of little curiosities way!  Oh, and yes, build kidding stalls! We went to the farm and lumber stores way more than I can count, asked tons of questions, and then looked through our scrap wood piles to make what I felt was a good fit for our area.  I was lucky enough to recruit the lovely hubby to help.  I couldn't have done it without him!  Lots of back massages and foot rubs later and here you see our 2 stall system!  I'll try and have a blog all about how we built it and how we made the removable dividers...and probably some adjustments that we need to make also!   LOL!

The first of the two does to deliver was Inky.  She is second year freshner.  This was a good thing as I was so extremely nervous about my first goat delivery.  It was a small amount of comfort to know that she had delivered before.  I actually have one of the twins she delivered, and it was so impressive to see how she was so involved in the birth also!  When Inky started labor, April would stay right beside her, and only enough bang HER head when contractions hit!  Once it was time to lock Inky up in the birthing stall, little April never left the door!  Nature is a beautiful thing.  She delivered 3 beautiful black haired babies! 2 boys and a girl!  They all nursed and everything was good!  I was so happy that she was able to handle triplets and keep them all healthy and full!  5 days later my baby girl Flirt gave birth to a HUGE boar/lamanche mixed boy!  His name is Elf, and unfortunately, after 3 days I had to pull him and he is now my bottle baby.  Flirt became quite ill, but today (nearly 2 weeks later) she is doing slightly better, but still remains in the sick ward.  A little back history....  She comes from EXCELLENT milking lines.  At her previous home she did not settle, so we were able to purchase her for fair as a young (unbred) doe!  Because of her GREAT milking lines, she got what is called precocious udder.  This means she started making milk without having a baby.  This actually happened at fair.  I secretly wonder if the other males made her go into heat as she acted quite strange for awhile.  It passed, and went back to normal.  Then a few months later when we brought a buck to visit, she got it again!  This time I noticed a hard lump.  Yup....mastitis!  I milked it out until it became gangrenous!  So awful!  Vet was surprised I kept her alive, and didn't loose any of the flesh!  We worried that there would be scar tissue but it seemed to slowly disappear, so I was hopeful.  Unfortunately....there was so much scaring that it left the one side completely useless, but again we had hope that it would dry up and the single boy could nurse the other side as we did get some milk from it!  Her fever spiked....then it bottomed out.  It was too much for the baby to be with her so that is when I separated them.  She mourned for a long time, and quit eating.  Finally....she has begun eating small amounts, and even gets to walk the yard a bit!  
Oh, and I hit a sale on mushrooms, so I got to finally try and dehydrate some!  So excited about that.  Look for more info, and a recipe too!  I met a lady that dehydrates almost everything!  She got me back in the mood to play with my old machine!  PLUS-This was a great distraction between walks down to the barn waiting on babies and checking on sick mama!
So now that deliveries are over, it go time on seed starting!  I am so far behind at this point that it's really not even laughable!  Like 2 months behind schedule!  So instead of my usual meticulous planning and scheduling, they all got planted on the off change I got a moment to sneak down to the greenhouse!  Because I am home more now with the goats, I can actually keep closer eye on the temperatures and humidity!  Yeah...ok...the excitement is setting in!  I even see a few seedlings poking through!  So there is hope yet!  Well, there was.  Then as typical Kansas would provide, we had a horrible wind storm hit the area and tear apart my beautiful greenhouse!  Seed trays scattered everywhere and I was so sad and disappointed.  After a day or two, I gathered up panels and other supplies and went back down there, and low and behold I saw that a few seedling had survived!  So....I just COULDN'T give up.  I put on my trusty head lamp and cleaned up the mess and stayed in there until I had planted more seeds!  I won't give up yet!  Hopefully you'll see a future post on how the plants are doing!
Next big adventure on the farm was discovering the ducks had decided to begin laying their delicious eggs again! We sure do enjoy our duck eggs here!   We use them for all sorts of things, but look for a blog about our FAVORITE way to fix them!  You will be a duck egg fan too!  It was a long wait, and I wondered if they'd ever lay again!  Not sure what happened last summer, but we didn't get any eggs from them...and then of course winter hit and NOBODY wanted to be laying eggs!  A good friend and classmate of mine decided to no longer keep  her chickens and offered to give me a few, along with another fabulous lady that we mutually adore!  I was so thrilled to be getting brown and greenish blue eggs again!  My son is thrilled to have his own rooster again to show at the county fair this summer!  He's an EE, and we think he's funny....he was a big show off at his old place, and tends to just hide with the ladies in the nesting boxes all day now!  Aren't all those eggs just a glorious sight?
      
Speaking of my son, it's his birthday month, so mamma did some home cooking for him.  Fried Chicken and Stuffed Eggs.  His sister made the cookies, and even shared!  My son is the youngest of my 3 kiddos, and he became a teenager.....wow....that's an eye-opener!  What's an even BIGGER eyeopener is that my oldest is not only graduating High School, she actually became a legal adult last fall!  Where in the world did all those years go?  Can't we just pause for a moment and time travel back a century or two?  I guess that's why God gives us memories....to enjoy our life and remember special moments in time!

The south winds did blow in some warmer weather.  So on go the new spring boots, and out the the orchard and vineyard I went.  I have such great protecters who watch over me from the hillside!  They actually do love each other....well, until feeding time!  I'm starting to see budding, a little blooming, and that's when I know that I need to start clearing out the brush and mess from winter.  But they're calling for Snow today, so I won't be back out there digging around for a few days.  It was wonderful while it lasted!

Oh, and yes....another great NEW adventure for me....MILKING!  Don't anticipate any how-to's on this for awhile, as I am still learning the whole process!  Inky and I do have a bit of a schedule and pattern down, but it's gonna be awhile before I can take pictures or videos of this project!  I have been processing the milk, but won't always do so.  It's a learning curve, and I am absolutely LOVING it!  I was so blessed to be gifted this handmade stanchion from my dear cousin and best friend for life!  She has meat goats, so felt that I would get better use of it!  I am so grateful, as I can't imagine how I'd try and figure out another method!  I had to put some winter storage around it, so hoping to re-do the milk barn when the weather decides to stay warm!
Most days you will see me wearing overalls or sweats out in the yard or down in the barn.  I'm not one to wear make-up, but occasionally I still find my way into town for school events.  I've slowed way down at my current job, to take care of the family and my farm.  Life is moving fast and I'm doing my best to take every moment for what it is worth and enjoy it to the fullest!  I sure hope you are too!  Tell me....what have YOU been up to?


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