Here we are another year soon to end. Time seems to just fly by anymore and so many of us are so busy we don’t seem to have time to enjoy our families or life in general. At least, that is the way it is here on our farm. Even though I work at home and don’t travel everyday to a “job”, like my partner does, I do believe that it is harder than holding a 9-5 job working for someone else. I am constantly busy with the animals, we are beginning our fall kidding season and have only had two Nans deliver so far, and just taking care of the everyday farm needs, I could spend hours out in the barn and still not get everything done that is on the “to do” list. Then we have the yard work where there is always something to do, like decorating this time of year, and then the house, need I say more, and at last we get down to my actual job of selling livestock and pet food. Now if this is not enough, I am in my last year of achieving my bachelor’s degree in business and marketing. I really do not think I would know what to do without all of this; on the farm is where I am happy. A friend told me the other day that she would hate my life but was so happy for me that I get do what I love. Believe me, I am happy as well.
On another note, our blog is going to expand a bit and since our website is getting a complete makeover we are going to add some links to other websites that are affiliated with us. We will still remain providing articles about the farm but will have an extra flare for all kinds of different products for out around the barn and home both for business and personal. Keep a look out after the holidays for some new ideas and changes to the blog.
We want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. May the New Year bring great health, profitability and happiness to each and every one.
I believe I wrote about a similar subject a while back but decided to write about this again since I took a spill last evening and am now nursing my sore body back to whatever it is to feel normal. We have had such a mild and warm winter and it has been so pleasant, but now, here in Illinois, a cold, and I mean single digit cold, has finally arrived. I miss the warmer temps but I am glad for the freeze, I just hope it stays long enough to kill the bugs and insects so we are not over run by them this summer.
As, I mentioned earlier, I took a spill last evening while trying to get some hay for my goats. I am not sure exactly sure what had happened but it was right after dusk had settled in and the ground was frozen and all of the sudden, I was falling to the ground and hit it hard. I am so lucky the pitchfork landed away from my falling body so I didn’t land on it. It sure seems strange that three days ago we were wading in mud and now the ground is frozen hard as a rock.
The weather can change things so fast and the fact that it is so difficult to walk on frozen ground where cattle have recently trod that I am guessing I either lost my footing and tripped over a frozen pile of, well you know, or I had a spell of vertigo. Whichever it was, it was not fun. So in light of all of this, be careful of the changing weather and the ground surfaces. I always feared ice, but now, well I fear frozen manure, how funny is that.
Have a great day everyone and now that we are getting things better organized, we will be posting more.
It has been a very hectic year and so many changes have taken place. We are ending the year in good standing with a few new members to our barnyard, five miniature horses. These new additions were part of my good will effort to rescue them from a farm that had ran out of pasture and the owners were just sick that they could not feed them. They were in good physical shape and between wild and semi-tame.
The owner and I had worked together with putting on petting zoo clinics for the elderly at nursing homes this past summer. She knew I was an animal lover and called me up and asked if I would have room to take 2 or 3 of her herd and give them a home. Al and I went to look at them and came home with three; Cocoa, Jessie and Mistress Minnie, the baby of the herd. I fell in love with them before I even got them home. They are just a pleasure to watch and play around with. It is a task to get them to cooperate at times since they have not been messed with in quite some time. I can get close to all of them but they are still skiddish and fearful at times and spook extremely easy.
They get along fine and I would mess with them as much as time would allow, but not as much as I would like to. About three weeks later I was contacted again and a couple had backed out of taking the stallion and mare, which is expecting in Feb./Mar. I had to do my “FLIRTY EYE MOVE” to get Al to agree to just go look at them once more. Of course, I knew we would be bringing them home because he hooked up the trailer and away we went. So I now have five.
Taco, the stallion, and Sugar had not ever been separated and she had delivered healthy colts and fillies for the past eight years. The owner said the could not be separated or they would just be uncontrollable. I kept them together for three days and then I took a risk and separated them. It took Taco a while to adjust being alone but he does just fine. Sugar has to stop by his stall on the way back in the barn once in a while just to say “hello” and then goes on. Taco will do his “I am the Man” dance every once in a while but for being told he was wild and I would have a hard time with him, we get along fine. It took me an hour to get him to come to me and a halter on and now we are “buds”. I must say that he is just so beautiful. A miniature black stallion and with the lines and mane to go with it. So petite but full of spirit and spunk. Don’t let them fool anyone, just because they are small does not mean that they cannot put away the food. I feed them Grostrong Ultra Fiber and they eat it up. They are not shy when it comes to meal time. I did have to make some changes in the feeding area and that is they cannot reach any of our feed bunks so feeding pans were placed and it makes feeding time a lot easier.
We have had a busy year but our animal family continues to grow. We are ending the year with new stock and new baby goats on the way within two weeks. Life on the farm is just great.
Spring has sprung, Easter has passed, and we are on our way to working outdoors in the yard, gardening, and on the farm. We are close to the close of our birthing season for the year; we have 4 more cows and a couple of 2 yr. old heifers to have calves and we have 2 more goats (Boar) to have little ones; I have 10 already. And if that weren’t enough, we have 33 baby chicks. Combining all of them together, I have 52 new baby animals. It sure keeps me busy.
With the re-birth of Spring and all the new babies, it keeps a person busy making sure all of them are eating well and the mamas are keeping them well fed. From experience, I have learned that is pays to keep a close eye on them for the first couple of weeks to make sure they are staying healthy.
Things to look for is coughing, discharge, fever, being inactive, and loss of appetite. Once they are feeling better, their health should improve. It is not to say that you may need to talk to a veterinary and get some medications in case they do become ill. Even though, we sometimes feel like we know how to treat them and what to give, we are not necessarily always right in our diagnosis. If in question about anything, always check with the professionals.
I am talking from experience, since last year I lost 9 baby goats before I found out the real problem and began treating it. I knew nothing about Coccidiosis and learned the hard way, what it was and what to do about it.
One issue, I am having this year is the nannies are having their babies and a week to two later, they are expelling discharge and bleeding. It has been an issue with everyone of them. So, I went to the vet and he suggested a long lasting penicillin. Then you watch them for 3 days and if it doesn’t seem to have an effect, give another dose and then talk to the vet if not better within two weeks.
Always keep their bedding dry and keep them out of the rain to avoid foot rot. Once you get it on you farm, it is hard to get rid of. Take care of your babies and Good Luck.
Pictured here is Beauty and her triplets born on March 26, 2011, Jack, Junior and Jada. Just minutes after their birth.
Most of us assume that when individuals such as farmers and homemakers work at home; they have a very simple and easy life. Well, that is not the case. Working at home doesn’t mean that challenges and deadlines aren’t a part of their lives just like everyone else. They face them everyday and it could be as simple as being interrupted by excessive phone calls, upset and crying or sick children, nothing going as planned, the overwhelming feeling lack of social contact, and too many projects that need their attention. Working at home can be very economic for some and it works out well, but it can also be frustrating when there are other distractions at home that we do not have to deal with when we work away from home.
On the farm, there is always something to do. Livestock needs to be fed grain and hay on a schedule, morning and evening, a ample supply of water must be available to them at all times, if one is under the weather, so to speak, it needs the necessary attention to get it back to good health so it can return to the herd. Having a vet on speed dial is pretty important when an animal goes down, depending on the illness or injury, it may need immediate attention and professional help. Animals go through stress, as well, when they become sick or injured, so it is imperative that we remain calm while tending to them. The barns and shelters must be kept in good shape and dry for the livestock to have a place they can go out of the weather so hauling manure is a job that must be done on a regular schedule and the fences must be strong enough to turn cattle and horses so that they stay contained within their boundaries. If you have close neighbors, it is not a pleasant experience when you have a few stubborn head of cattle that like to test you and push the fence. People don’t like unwanted animals in their gardens and yards.
When the time comes for breeding your herds, keeping a record of the day the bull or stud went in with the cows or mares, is extremely important. This goes for goats, sheep and other breeds as well. By knowing when you put them together, you will have an idea of when to expect the birthing season to begin and can prepare your barns or make the necessary arrangements for the events to come. Records are also important in keeping track of vaccinations, days bought and sold, births, and injuries and illnesses. I keep track of when I de-worm my goats, when their hooves get trimmed, when I change feed and minerals and etc.
It is a wonderful life, living and working a farm. It has its stresses and challenges on a daily basis but, on the flip side, it can be a peaceful and calming life. Every job has a place for schedules and time management and that includes those jobs at home, it really doesn’t matter what you do, we all have them. Life does feel a little simpler on the farm when out working with Mother Nature and God’ creations but it is LIFE, and with that there is never a dull moment.
Here are a few tips to remember to help your animals deal with the heat.
- Always keep a water supply available to all animals by using waterers or buckets
- Have a place of shelter for them to get into out of the sun and heat
- If they have to be confined, place a fan in the barn/building to keep a constant air flow
- If possible, feed later in the day or early in the morning, the animals will be more apt to eat when it is cooler
These are just a few tips that we use here on the farm. Our animals get overheated and thirsty just like we do, so take care of them as well.
Nothing hurts more than the heartbreak of losing someone or something you love. The something I am referring to is the loss of a couple of kids, goats, that contracted Coccidiosis. Being a beginner in the raising and handling of goats; it was a shock to me when my kids started getting sick. I have had my herd for over 2 years and this had not been an issue for me so I was at my wits end.
I read up on the symptoms they were showing and most of it pointed in the direction that I needed to de-worm them. I hadn’t considered that they would need that at such a young age but, then again, I was totally at a loss. So, checking with the vet, I got what I needed and de-wormed the whole herd of 15, making sure to disperse the correct dosage per body weight, per animal. They seemed to improve some but in two weeks, I knew it had to be done once more. The time came and I done another round. A couple of days later, one of my kid nannies became weak and I had to remove her from the herd and give IV solution for dehydration. She did not make it. I was devastated! I did not understand what was happening.
I called the vet again and explained the weakness and dehydaration symptoms and lack of appetite and told him my smallest was down and the others were showing similar signs. After due consideration, he prescribed a Corid Drench for 5 days and a liquid to add to their drinking water for the older ones. Coccidiosis, which can be fatal if not treated in time, is an infectious disease caused by protozoan parasites that attack the epithelial tissue of animals and my little ones had it. My littlest was not strong enough to withstand the medication, another loss.
I began working with them on a schedule and drenching them once daily. Cleaned out their feeders and re-strawed their barn. They would be confined for 5 -10 days and needed a clean dry place to get over this. After a couple of days, their appetites increased, the diarrhea cleared and they were playing again. They even began to look healthier.
I was relieved but we were not out of the woods yet. They were not 100% and Doc said as a preventive and precautionary measure, I should change their feed to a medicated one that controls just this issue. So I did.
I now feed Goat Power feed with medication for Coccidiosis mixed in. It has given me great results and the goats love the taste. They look forward to that everyday. From this experience, I have learned to keep Doc’s number close at hand and when I see something that is not quite as it should be to question it, even if it amounts to nothing in the long run. Sometime it just may save a life.
Summer on the farm is one of the busiest times of year. We have fields to plant, hay to bale, pastures to mow besides the everyday jobs of feeding and caring for the livestock. Summer, for most folks, is a fun time. They go to their 9-5 jobs and come home and relax, cookout, swim, ballgames and whatever. Here on the farm, especially if you have a second job, which most of us do these days, farm work is our relaxation time. We put in long hours and less sleep and still continue to function normally, well, most of the time.
It is also a time for the kids to learn about animals and their care. We have a niece, age 4, and a grandaughter, age 2, that come to the farm often. Kalissa, our niece, has always been the little ranch hand but hasn’t been here much lately. Kennedy, on the other hand is here every week or at least every other. Between the two of them, they are the more excited to play with the animals that they will absolutely wear them out, or at least me, before they ever wind down.
Both girls now want to learn how to handle the goats and show them at the county fair. This info was discussed last week and in the process of explaining the need for them to spend more time on the farm to learn seemed to go over well with them. At least during the day, anyway, Kalissa had a bad overnight experience with a babysitter, woke up and did not remember where she was and Mom was not there and now is staying close to home at night. Fear of Mommy not being there, I guess. Any way as long as the daylight is on we are good to go.
So to start, we have to have goats, of course, and I have a small herd with 2 yearling nannies that are just at the right size for them to show. The problem being they decided a little late to do this and the fair is in 4 weeks. So, I suggested to start working with the kid nannies that are 4 months old and start putting a lead on them and messing with them some. So that is our plan. Now to just get started on a regular basis to have them ready for next year.
Another favorite is riding Blaze, my gelding. He is around 10 years old and gentle as a kitten. Anyone can ride him with any kind of horse sense, so to speak. The girls are learning to get used to him by being led bareback first. This teaches them balance and helps them lose their fear. Kalissa has no fear when it comes to animals and Kennedy is right behind her. A year ago, Kennedy was terrified and now that she spends time on the farm she just loves it. They cannot go a whole day here without getting Blaze out to ride. They will soon get to visit the tack room and learn how to care for their gear. They will pick a saddle from one of the many saddle racks and be shown how to clean and care for it, this will give them a sense of pride and they will want to take care of their equipment. They will graduate to a saddle and then we will begin with the bridle. It should be fun to watch them progress and the excitement they show is just wonderful.
Summer is such a great time to enjoy life on the farm and to learn new things, the girls love it.
There is always stress on your animals when you wean the little ones from their mamas. It does not matter the type or breed, there will be crying from both the mamas and babies. Besides all the noise the animals will want to get back together and they will look for any opening to do just that.
For at least three to four days they will walk the fences, try to jump the fences and try to climb through or crawl under any opening just to get back together. We always wean in the sign of the moon and have mostly good results but, there are always those few that just cannot get with the program.
So, what do you do when they get back together and you have to begin the process all over again? Really, I do not know what the best plan is. I take it one day at a time and go with the flow. Try as I might, I fill and close any openings that I find, where I think they are getting through and try again. Does it work? Sometimes but, not always.
I weaned my kids, baby goats, 2 weeks ago and have only had them all get out one day but Jillie has gotten out 12 out of the 14 days they have been weaned. It never fails, I go out to feed and she is back with Miss Dolly, her mama. She is such a pet, I spoil them awful, that it is nothing to get her back in with the others but keeping her in is a problem. It is hard not to think it is funny or cute but, she needs to stay in her pen.
Reinforcing the fencing is the best plan to keep them contained and having fencing supplies on hand is helpful. There are those moments, and I have a lot of them, that you just have to rig something up until you have the time when you can complete the job. Fencing wire, wire cutters, tools and the rest of fencing supplies are necessary livestock equipment to have on the farm and handy at a moments notice.
Well, we have done it, we have made it through our goat birthing season. I am now at ease. It began on Christmas Day with our first birth. Barbie went into labor during the coldest weather, 0 degrees, and lost both of her twins. It was so cold that she didn’t have time to clean them up before they froze. Two days later, Noel gave birth to triplets and she lost hers as well. By the time we got the rags and some warm water she had delivered all three and they were all still born. Not a good start to my idea of increasing my herd. Five days later, Polly delivered one baby, still born. It was difficult to deal with. I had been looking forward to the new kids and was losing them all.
It didn’t seem to matter what we did, nothing could have saved them as I look back on the situation. I started watching my remaining four nannies on a schedule. Checking them in the morning, at noon, afternoon, evening and before bed. I wanted to have something set up where they could have warmth and a dry place to deliver. So we brought in some fresh straw and with the pitchfork, scattered it around the barn and in the two jugs that we set up with the fencing supplies we had so that we could separate them and their babies would be safe from the rest of the herd.