Milk, it rules my life these days. Goats milk and cow milk, I’m either milking it, straining it, storing it, feeding it, freezing it, making soap with it, or making cheese with it.
I think about production, how much the goats are producing, and how much product I’m producing from it. How can we maximize it? Where the heck can I put it all?
We have three does in milk right now, two Nigerian Dwarf goats, Ashes and Moonflower, and our Saanen, Daisy. Daisy is still nursing her kid, so I’m not getting her full supply. We are averaging about one gallon a day.
The kids, our bottle babies, are drinking cow’s milk. They do great on it, and it allows me to use the goat milk for soap and cheese. I am feeding approximately 3/4 gallon of cow milk a day. They will be on whole milk until they are ten weeks old.
We also have six human kids, so we use over a gallon a day for them, and my 6′ 4″ husband loves milk. That’s right, this house goes through two to three GALLONS of milk per day.
A sweet little doeling made her appearance on March 12th, during one of our most recent snow storms. I promised the kids that they could pick the name for Daisy’s little one, so we have named her Stormy.
We went out to do our nighttime bottle feeding, and there she was. Daisy had already cleaned her, and she was just starting to stand up. Within minutes, she was nursing like a champ, and Daisy was back to munching on hay.
She is half Sannen, and half Boer. She definitely has the Boer face and ears. I’m keeping them in the kidding pen for now, but will be introducing them to the rest of the herd soon.
We have been hit with storm after storm the past couple of weeks, so there is still a ton of snow on the ground. The best thing for now is to keep them inside the barn.
It has felt like such a long winter this year, but maybe its just me.
It may just be my anxiousness for this spring. I have plans of expanding the barn, building new feeders, making things more efficient, goat babies and shearing of alpacas. Spring will also usher in new farmer’s markets and craft events that I want to be a part of.
Over the past few months, we have welcomed new animals to the herd. After quarantines, and blood tests, everyone is settled in and doing well.
Sadie is our new Nigerian dwarf doe. She is a beautiful black, white and gray doe with a great udder. She was a mess on the milk stand at first, but now is a pro. She is also much healthier now. Yay Sadie!
Daisy Mae is a one year old saanen doe, who is due to have her kids any day now. We have been on baby watch for the past week. I purchased her already bred, so I’m not sure of her exact dates. We have some great video of her kids moving, as well as an early contraction, over on our facebook page. Hopefully we will have a birthing video before too long. We are expecting at least 1 gallon of milk per day from her after she freshens.
Tony Stark was very happy to welcome his new friends, Elsa and Anna, two female alpacas. Elsa is four years old, and Anna is six. They were a bit skeptical the first day or two, but now glide about like they own the place. Elsa is white, and Anna is red with a white stripe on her forehead. Perfect names right? Thanks to my “Frozen” obsessed three year old for the idea.
And now on to our newest babies.
Cocoa and Caramel are lamancha doelings. Lamancha goats are the only goat developed in America, and they are easy to spot by their almost complete lack of any external ear. Lamanchas can have either an elf ear, being under two inches, and curved either up or down, or a gopher ear which cannot be more than one inch of exposed ear. These girls both have an elf ear.
Cocoa and the back 1/2 of Caramel
Vanilla-bean, aka Bean, and Cookie are Nubian/Alpine crossed doelings. And then we have Ronda, who is a sweet little nigerian dwarf doeling that was born in December. They are all gregarious and funny little ladies.
Oh man, our newest addition… Jean-luc is a purebred lamancha buck, who will be the herdsire for our full size goats. He is a beauty and has an impressive pedigree. Almost every doe in his lineage has earned their dairy star, along with the highest scores in their linear appraisals. We plan on showing him at goat shows. And on top of all that, he is a complete and total love bug. I’ll miss snuggling with him when he grows up to be a big stinky buck.
So, now we wait for Daisy’s kids. Next month will be Ashes and Moonflower, who got frisky with Odin without permission, little floozies. I just had Sadie bred to Odin last week, so we should expect kids from her in July.
So many exciting things on the horizon, come on spring!
It has been crazy busy around here for the past few weeks. We suffered some loss, two of our goats had new kids, and we added an alpaca to the crew!
Goat kids are adorable, Nigerian Dwarf goat kids are extraordinarily so. I knew that we had some expectant mommas, but I goofed on my dates. I thought that I had another month, but oh no, I didn’t.
I was leaving for a doctors appointment, when B came running up to me, very upset. Something was wrong with Ashes, she was sick. Some kind of diarrhea, or her intestines are falling out! Hurry! I went running, and wemade it just before a sweet little baby finished his entry into the world.
Welcome to the world, Sweet Flora Farms Oscar Wild!
Such a handsome boy
A temporary kidding pen was set up asap. He was a strong little guy, at almost three pounds, up and nursing right away. Ashes is kind of a crappy goat mom, but she is doing pretty well with him. He is a creamy white, with a red roan along his dorsal. His face looks exactly like his daddy, our very own resident buck, Duagwyn Odin the Allfather.
I checked on my other pregnant doe, Moonflower, as her udder was starting to fill. She was getting close. Kidding pen number two was prepared. Exactly one week later, I woke up to a cold, wet buckling on the ground, and an exhausted doe struggling to deliver her next kid.
I prepared to intervene, when the head and neck were delivered. Moonflower stopped pushing, and I realized that the kid wasn’t moving. She was delivered neck first, with her tiny head tucked under. The force of the delivery broke her neck, and caved in part of her head. There was nothing I could do, except pull the rest of her out.
Moonflower was exhausted, and wanted nothing to do with her little boy. It took me a while to get him warmed up, milk his momma, and get him to drink from the bottle. He weighed under 1 pound. Please welcome Sweet Flora Farms Apollo Rising.
Both boys are growing, and doing well. Both does are healthy, and getting back to normal. They are both easy on the milk stand, and producing lots of fabulous goat milk. We use the milk for soap, and for yummy goat cheeses.
Oh boy, this is exciting stuff! We have a freaking ALPACA!! He was rescued from a cattle auction, after being dumped by his owners who were raising him in a city yard. They were threatened with fines, so they just dropped him at a cattle auction. And now he lives here! Can you tell that I’m a little excited about it? He will provide us with fiber, and be an alarm for any danger near the goats.
We try to have fun with names around here, and I admit that I have a slight comic book super hero obsession. I talked to the kids, and I explained what an alpaca was. I was telling them about his fleece, and how it protects him in the winter, and we will shear it off in the spring. My youngest son, M, said it was like his armor that we can take off. Ah ha… Tony Stark. He is the sweetest, softest, most amazing creature.
Cold Weather Prep
Progress has been slower than I would like, but we are getting there. We are still finishing up some out buildings, which now includes a three sided shelter for Tony. Dave finished building the new milking stand for the goats, and the new chicken coop is almost finished. That should be ready for the flock within a week. I’ve also come up with a new plan to maximize our space, and make things more efficient with the animals.
This has been a rough one. Somewhere around the end of July, two of our horses started to lose weight. My first thought was the hay, we had been using a new supplier. So we switched. Still, they lost weight. I used a new wormer, in case they were building any resistance to the old one, plus increased their grain. And still, they lost more weight. The vet came out, ran fecal and blood tests. They have anaplasmosis from tick bites.
So, they are all on antibiotics, and are finally gaining weight again. They lost over 100 pounds in two months. It was the craziest thing I have ever seen. I’m just so happy that we figured it out, and they are getting better.
Wrapping it up
I have been trying to get soaps ready for the holiday season, so that has kept me busy. (more on that soon) With five kids at home, going through cold weather clothes is a huge chore too. I have to make sure that everyone has stuff that fits, and make lists of thing we need to get. Oh yeah, and Halloween is coming, and Thanksgiving, and J’s birthday, and Christmas, and we homeschool. Is your head spinning yet?
As you can see, its been a bit busy. Sometimes its crazy, but I wouldnt change a thing. ( well, maybe more land) I am the luckiest woman alive.
Our gorgeous rainbow chard was calling my name today, while I was working in the garden. Hmmm, what to make for dinner tonight? I only had four chicken thighs in the refrigerator, but did not feel like running to the market. Inspiration smacked me like finger flick to the cheek. Oh wait… that was the grasshopper that smacked me in the face when I was picking the last few small yellow summer squash.
Either way, I was smacked with something, and came up with an idea. Plus, I would get to use some of those amazing Oven Dried Cherry Tomatoes that I made yesterday. So here you have it:
Garden Veggies and Chicken with Gnocchi
1 small bunch of rainbow chard, stems and leaves separated and chopped.
1 small sweet onion, chopped
2 small yellow summer squash, quartered and sliced (you could totally use zucchini here too)
1 cup of Oven Dried Cherry Tomatoes (you can also use store bought sun dried tomatoes in oil… but I can’t promise it will be the same)
1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tbs concentrated vegetable broth.
1/2 cup water
1 tsp Sweet Flora Dried Mushroom Blend (you could also use fresh mushrooms here)
Saute onion and chard stems in a skillet for about 4-5 minutes, add the squash and cook about 4 more minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, and season everything with salt and pepper. Remove from the pan.
Saute the chicken in your choice of oil until almost done. Sprinkle with chicken with salt, pepper and mushroom blend and cook until done. Stir in the cider vinegar, water and veggie broth. Add the vegetable mix back to the pan, and toss to heat through.
Meanwhile, prepare gnocchi per package directions. When they are done, toss with the veggies and chicken.
Enjoy, and relish the full tummy bliss that follows.
Let me know if you try it, and what you think. My family loved it, and devoured the whole thing. This will be a new favorite for sure.
This summer gave us a plethora of cherry tomatoes. We planted two each of three varieties. Regular red, a slightly larger oblong red, and sun gold (my favorite).
I added rabbit manure and epsom salt to our soil mixture before planting this year. I’m convinced that this is part of our explosive growth.
We have had them in salads, as snacks, and I even made a delicious sun gold tomato sauce. I’ll post that recipe soon.
There came a point where everyone was on tomato overload. So what to do with these?
Oven Dried Cherry Tomatoes!
These are pretty easy, and ridiculously delicious. I store them in jars, in olive oil, in the refrigerator. They don’t last long. Toss them with hot pasta, or put in pasta salad. Put them on a pizza, or snack on them with some fresh mozzarella. (That recipe is coming soon too.)
Preheat The oven to 225 F. I use convection bake for mine, but you do it with just a regular setting.
Halve your tomatoes, and toss with olive oil to coat. This is when you can get creative. Add salt and pepper, rosemary, basil, garlic… any flavors that you love. Spread everything cut side up on parchment lined trays.
Bake them for three to four hours, or until they are mostly dried. Once cooled, put them in a mason jar(s), and cover with olive oil.
I’ve never had them last more that two weeks. Try it, let me know what you think.
This past week has been a busy one at home. We are preparing for fall and winter, which means getting the animal shelters up the task, building and repairing. We are also preparing for hay deliveries, tending to baby animals and dealing with goat mating season.
The new chicken coop is almost done. It is bigger than the original, and hopefully much more efficient for us and the birds. We have planned the nesting box opening to be on the outside of the house, so that you can collect eggs without going inside the fence. I have hosed off more than one child this summer, who has slipped in chicken poo while collecting eggs.
We also planned a new gravity feeder that can be accessed from outside the fence. The new coop will be at the edge of the goat yard, and will give the chickens much more room to roam. This should also allow them to pick off any bugs and such from the goat yard, keeping the goats happier too.
The mini horses have one new run in, with another being built before winter. This should give them plenty of options. I don’t lock them in a stall at night, because I feel like they deserve to be able to move about if they want. They are funny, and often stand out in the rain, or go in during sunny days. It’s their prerogative to be sure.
The goats are currently all together in the front for breeding. I am thinking about castrating my buck in the spring. He’s had his fun, and will hopefully make some beautiful babies, but I would much rather have my snuggly boy, than a stinky pee face buck.
We have had two successful rabbit breedings so far this summer, resulting in sevent kits from one momma, and eight from the other. The babies are precious. I have already sold four, and any remaining will head to freezer camp before winter.
With help from my future son in law, I built the new rabbitry, Hopper Heaven. The rabbits all have larger cages, with wire bottoms for optimal health. Their waste is deposited directly into worm bins, where the composting magic happens.
I added 3,500 composting worms, shredded paper that they love, and some veggie peels to get the action started. We also add egg shells to the mix. The worms do the work to the compost the waste and eliminate odor, and our garden will benefit next spring.
Our crazy little flock of Muscovy ducks have been an interesting experiment. We have one male and three females. This breed is well know to be excellent parents. Mine, well, not so much. So far they have killed every single duckling before it even finishes getting out of the shell. And then one morning…
M, age 9, was checking for eggs and feeding the birds, when he saw the chickens chasing something. It was a freshly hatched duckling. It somehow evaded its cannibalistic parents, escaped into the chicken yard, and was running from my velociraptors. Chickens, I meant chickens.
We now have a lone duck who is convinced that she is a human. She loves to cuddle and snuggle under my chin, and follows me around the yard. I’m not entirely sure what will happen with her. She is too young to hang with the big ducks, but way too stinky to be a house duck.
As you can see, we have had lots of busy work here. Next week…school!