Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Then there's harvesting time. Normally this is a time of year when all the better gardeners are singing the bounties of their green thumbs with joy and many adjectives. For me, it's a time of year that is stressful and regretful. I stress over trying to carve out a few minutes each day to pull the stuff from my gardens. Then I stress over the work involved in cleaning and storing the stuff for later use. Then I stress over finding recipes to use the stuff and remembering to buy the right ingredients to make those recipes. Then I stress over the left-overs and making sure that all the wonderful garden stuff gets eaten properly. I also spend a lot of time each harvest season regretting things. I regret that I planted arugula and not radicchio. I regret that I didn't make the garden bigger but instead just crammed everything so close together that I can't find me peas under my cucumbers. I regret that I didn't get out soon enough to harvest the beans before they turned chewy. I regret that I didn't use all the broccoli before it got shoved to the back of the freezer and hopelessly freezer burned. Suffice to say, harvest time is not a very fun time for me.
Maybe someday I will become a better gardener and actually take care of the plants. Hopefully my care will lead to the plants to get the hint and stop producing so much so that my harvest time is nicer. Maybe...
Thursday, August 11, 2011
I find that sometimes there is hostility between the different types of hobby farmers in the world. I define "hobby" farming as keeping and raising animals without making a profit from them at the end of the year, and without managing the animals as units of business that are subject to consideration due to profits and losses. The hostility I see is between hobbyists who believe that the only way to raise an animal is to do so without shortcuts, chemicals, or modern interventions. The other side believes that the only way to raise animals is to use modern everything and fill them full of chemicals. I try to stay in the middle of those types. I have been attacked by people who when I mention using a milk machine or using chemical sanitizers are taken aback by my losing contact with the natural rythms of the farm. I have also been attacked by people who think I need to drown my animals in chemical dewormers and chemical pesticides every two weeks or else the animals will drop dead.
The reasons why I like modern shortcuts and some chemical formulas are: I have to work full time, off the farm in order to support my family with adequate health insurance. My husband has his own business which, although he makes plenty of money to support our family, he has no access to good health insurance for us. So off to work I go. Also I have a child. She's 1 year old and in to everything. Because my husband has his own business, he is very busy and so the childcare is my responsibility for the most part. I don't mind it because I can still get stuff done around the farm, but that stuff either gets done very slowly while I watch the kid or very quickly when I cram it in after bedtime for baby or during nap time. There have been projects on the list for weeks that need to get done but they just haven't gotten too. If I can find a shortcut or modern intervention that can help me speed up these projects, I am going to jump on it!
I don’t mind using chemicals when I have to. I quite like many modern chemical products. Bleach is one of my favorites and very important if you run a hobby dairy farm. Bleach and other sanitizers are very helpful at getting milk and animal products off of your dairy utensils. It is nice to have clean and sanitized dairy equipment to work with. Nothing is worse than walking into someone’s milking area and smelling sour milk that never got properly cleaned out of the cracks and corners. Bleh!
Also some chemical medicines can be very important when raising animals. Parasites, bacteria, and viruses have great mechanisms for infecting animals and making them sick. Sometimes the only way to kill these germs is to use harsh chemical medicines. I always keep several types of chemical dewormers and several different antibiotics on hand. These have been literal lifesavers in some situations.
The reasons why I shun modern shortcuts and some chemical formulas are: Not everything new is good for you. At what point do you save your animals by treating them with chemicals and at what point do you kill your animals through liver failure and chemical overdose? There’s a fine line in that situation. You want enough chemicals to kill the parasites but not so much that you kill the goat instead.
Some modern shortcuts aren’t really short at all. Using a power saw at the barn to cut some boards might be a great time saver but if getting the saw set up and running power to it takes more time to cut the board, then you might as well get out the hand saw. The same goes for milking. If cleaning the milk machine after use takes more time than the actual milking of the goat, then you might as well stick to the bucket and hand milk.
In the end, I think it is important for every type of farmer to support their fellow farmers. One type is not better than the other. Each farming situation calls for its own set of rules and tools to keep the animals happy and productive. All of us “hobby” farmers need to stick together and support each other regardless. And always remember, the animals come first no matter what.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
While I am glad the rabbit found a happy ending to its story, I am sad to hear about how the animal ended up this way. It happens all the time when people get "free" pets and animals, only to bring them home and learn that keeping an animal is nowhere near "free" to do. Animals require lots of things to stay healthy and happy, and those things cost money. First, they need food. They need a food that is designed for them and provides the proper nutrients, minerals and vitamins to keep them healthy. Second, they need a place to live. Small animals, like rabbits, need cages and large animals, like horses, need pastures and sheds for shelter. Third, they usually need some sort of interaction. While rabbits and cats don't usually mind a lack of interaction, horses and dogs need a lot more interaction, some of which may cost money and all of which will cost time.
This is why I don't make a habit of giving animals away for free. I figure that if a person can't pay $20 for a rabbit or chicken, then they obviously can't pay the weekly fee it will cost to feed that rabbit or chicken, let alone pay for the other things they may need that will cost more money. I would rather eat my rabbit or chicken who I can no longer pay for than to give it to someone who can't pay for it either. At least by eating it, I will be making some of my money that I put into it back. Of course, this doesn't work for dogs, horses, and cats but those are animals that need to be carefully considered before getting, no matter whether they are free or not.
Thursday, July 21, 2011
The goats are good. Gloria, Lucy, and Cookie have settled into their lactations. All are being milked twice a day and doing well. They all look pretty good this year. Even the over-achieving Gloria has been able to keep some of her calories out of her udder and maintained good body condition. The kids are good. Most of them have gone to new homes. I have 2 doelings left that have a home lined up but the people aren't ready for them yet. Hopefully they will leave before November. The boys and girls have been separated. The buck, Rosco, has matured quickly and now must stay away from the girls or else there could be some unintended rendezvous! He is happily living in the buck pen with the Angora wether.
The family is good. Tom is busier than a one armed paper hanger right now. He's been building rock walls, doing landscaping, cutting trees, climbing trees, chipping brush, and building septic systems. As long as the weather cooperates, he is out working. People shouldn't complain that there isn't any work out there. If you need something to do, call Tom. He'll give you something to do!
Emily is good. She loves water and swimming! She gets so excited during bath time that she starts to cry because she wants to be in the water right away. Her daycare has a little pool and a sprinkler. It's always a fight to get her to come home from daycare when she is out in the pool. She wants to stay and swim all day!
Summer is rolling on, all is well.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
The problem I have with that logic is that just because it is copied on multiple websites all over the internet, that doesn't make it truthful or accurate information. Millions of people can "cut and paste" whatever they want from wherever they want. Copyright infringement means almost nothing in the land of the internet. The amount of times a particular piece of information is repeated does nothing to make it more correct. I urge everyone who is doing research on anything via the internet (or any other media form for that matter) to be sure to check references, look for citations, and go to the source of the information. If the theory in question does not have any substantiated scientific proof to back it up, then you should keep on moving. Of course, there are some ideas on the internet that aren't scientifically researched. Those ideas should be examined very carefully and numerous sources should be looked into.
It's incredibly easy for one piece of terrible information to be "THE TRUTH" and live a life of its own on the internet. Look at the whole idea that vaccines cause autism. This idea has be debunked so many times and the original creator of this massive falsehood actually had his medical license revoked and his journal publications rescinded due to the misleading nature of his research into the matter. There isn't one shred of scientifically-backed proof to lead to this idea and yet, it continues to live and breath to this day on the internet. It's taken on a life of its own to the point that parents actually refuse to get their children vaccinated for such horrible diseases as mumps, measles, polio, and hepatitis.
I behoove you to be skeptical when looking up stuff on the internet. I behoove you to look closely at your sources before you use them as proof of your argument.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
What qualifies a piece of land as a farm?
Does it have to be a certain number of acres? Or located in a certain area of the country?
Or have a certain number of animals on it? Perhaps a certain type of animal or a certain percentage of different types?
Does a place with only 70 chickens count as a farm? What about a place with only 5 horses?
To be a farm, is livestock required? What if you only grow fruits and vegetables but have no animals, does that count?
Or maybe you have to make a certain amount of income from the land to be considered a farm?
What percentage of food consumed needs to be grown at home to qualify as a farm? What if you don't grow anything but you have six pet goats, two horses, and a duck? Is that a farm?
Do you have to breed the animals to be a farm? What if you buy the animals and have them neutered or just don't feel like breeding them?
What if you breed the animals but only live on 1/4 acre in town?
Do you have to come from a farming background to be considered a "farmer"? Is there a genetic or familial qualification that makes people farmers? What if you grew up on a farm but don't have animals or grow food? Are you still a "farmer" because of your background?
How long do you have to have animals or a garden to be a "farmer"? Is there a number of years that makes you qualified to call your place a farm?
What is a farm?
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Emily had a party and I got her special made cupcakes. I had to get them with farm animals on them, of course.
Here is a close up of her goat cupcakes!
Here's the birthday girl ready for her party!!
It all goes by too fast!!
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Hopefully tonight I can at least get my garden started. We'll see.....
Thursday, May 26, 2011
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Some of my new symptoms are: Buying a baby Angora buckling to add to the herd; spending 3 hours per day in the goat barn taking care of my goat babies; contemplating keeping a doeling from this year's kids to add to the herd; wanting to start my own "Adirondack Goat Club"; making weird goat-keeping decisions that I wouldn't normally consider (like doing CAE testing and using herbal dewormer).
It's a brain tumor! Eek!
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
I am very discouraged today. It seems like every smug thought I have had lately has blown up in my face. I was just thinking yesterday how well I was managing my goats and how all of them should be very healthy this year with all my good decisions. Karma is a bitch because she reared her ugly head by making my doe, Gloria, sick this morning. She was very lethargic and didn't eat her breakfast. I tested her for mastitis and she tested positive for it in both teats. One teat was worse than the other so I treated the worse one with ToDAY treatment. Hopefully she will be better by this evening when I get home from work. I guess I won't assume that I am doing a good job, just in case karma hears me say it.
Other things have gone that way recently. Every time I assume something is a good idea, it turns out that it isn't. It's very discouraging.
Oh well, thanks for reading about my problems. Hopefully with the promise of sun will come the promise of better things to come.
Friday, April 22, 2011
This is Snickerdoodle. She is one of Cookie's doe kids.
This is Oreo. We call her Double-Stuffed a lot because she is a lot bigger than her twin, Snickerdoodle.
Pepper had triplets all by herself! I was 10 minutes late for the birth and came home to find three cute kids sitting there all cleaned up and ready.
This is Blue Moon. She is the first kid out of Pepper with this coloration. I am considering selling Pepper in order to keep Blue Moon. She is quite a looker!!
This is the buck Rosco. He is very handsome. I may keep him for breeding next year. I love all his gray spots!
Here's all three of the triplets. The one in front is a doe named Silver Dollar. She has a perfectly round silver spot on her side.
There's 4 more Alpine kids in the barn now. I will post pictures of them soon!
Friday, April 15, 2011
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Pepper is next in line to kid. She has kidded twice before at an average of 149 days of gestation. That puts Pepper due on April 7th. She has had two sets of twins for me in the past but this year she looks huge and is already starting to grunt and breath heavy with every movement. I am on the lookout for triplets or quads from her this year.
Lucy is up next. I have her due on April 12th. She has had two sets of twin bucks in years past at 150 days of gestation. I am assuming she will have two bucks this year at 150 days of gestation. She isn't very imaginative when it comes to kids so I would be shocked if she did anything different than this.
After that, Gloria is bringing up the rear. She likes to go late into her gestation with an average of 153 days. She has kidding 4 other times. She had 3 sets of twins and one set of triplets. The set of triplets was a birthing disaster so I am eager to see how she does this year and how many she has. Gloria likes to throw the same color patterns every year -- brown with black trim and white with black trim. She stays true to her Alpine genetics with the color patterns being very classic Alpine in design. I am super interested to see if she gives me kids in different colors than she normally has.
Hopefully the next blog update will be pictures of the new kids! I am praying they all just decide to get busy and all kid this weekend so I don't have to mess around. Here's hoping!!!!
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Ah, the joys of goat raising!!!!
Thursday, February 10, 2011
First of all, once you get the animals home you have to have somewhere to put them. I have heard many horror stories of people keeping animals in inadequate enclosures only to have the animals either escape and get killed or have varmints enter the enclosures to kill the animals. It is not usually mentioned in the glossy "farming" magazines that goats can jump over almost any fencing, cows can push through most barriers, and that not much stops a weasel from breaching a chicken coop. Most of my friends that brought their animals home to ill-prepared housing, wound up with dead animals in short order. It's not as easy as just getting the animals to your property and then letting them go to live idyllically with you.
Secondly, once you have secured adequate housing for the animals that keeps them in and varmints out, you must feed the animals. All animals need to be fed on a daily basis. Unless you have a large pasture situation with fresh, free flowing water all the time; you must feed and water your animals daily, if not twice daily. If you live in a location where snow is on the ground for weeks at a time, then you most certainly have to feed your animals daily at least part of the year. They cannot be expected to survive and produce through the winter without gathered forage and fresh water. When considering housing for your animals, you must also consider food storage and water accessibility. If you have hooved animals, then you must certainly have hay. Hay takes up a lot of real estate and is tricky to transport and store. My same friends that brought their animals home to inadequate enclosures, also brought them home to inadequate food and water supplies. The animals that weren't killed from poor housing, died due to starvation or disease related to poor food sources.
Third, animals cannot be expected to live on food and water only. Each species has health needs beyond just food, water, and housing. Chickens need to be dusted periodically for lice, they need to be dewormed occasionally, they need supplemental calcium, and they need the right combination of vitamins and minerals to produce eggs. Goats must be supplemented with minerals at all times, they need to be dewormed periodically, they have vaccinations that must be administered, their hooves constantly need trimming, and if they are milk goats they need to be properly milked every day, twice a day. People don't often think of the other things that go into raising animals beyond food and housing. When their chickens mysteriously die due to massive mite infestation or their goats die from worms, that is when they learn the hard truth about supplemental health care. They don't learn it from TV commercials and movies.
Lastly, animals are a lot of work. Beyond needing to be fed and watered daily, their enclosures must be cleaned periodically, their housing must be repaired, the water buckets need to be cleaned, and the list goes on and on. If you have dairy animals, you must milk them daily, twice a day, every single day. You can't skip a milking just because you have something else to do. This can spell disaster for any milk producing animal. If you have meat animals, then you have to get them from living animals to edible pieces of meat somehow. This takes a lot of thought and effort.
In conclusion, I would like to see more magazines show the true colors of farming. I would like to see people who have learned the hard truths of farming tell their friends and neighbors who want to get animals. All animals deserve to be treated well and ignorance of proper animal care is no excuse for the death of the animal.
Monday, January 24, 2011
My friend and I were talking about it this morning. Both of our jobs are currently in jeopardy with recent budget woes and threats of the company moving to Florida. Neither of us are in a situation where we can move to Florida, so we have to think of something different to do in order to survive. Our location doesn't have many other job opportunities, so both of us are facing possible long-term unemployment. We have decided that if we can start our own little business, that may be enough to help us not fall into a hole of debt and poverty. We are both crafty people with small homesteads. I have goats and chickens and make goat milk soap. She has chickens and cows and grows an enormous garden. We could both produce enough stuff to get a little farm stand going.
The farm stand wouldn't be solely dependent on the stuff my friend and I make/grow. We would also take in crafts and food from other local people and sell it there. It would be like a permanent farmer's market. There's many people in the area that produce more than they can eat and also make crafts on the side. They would jump at the chance to have a location to sell at. The selling could work on commission or volunteer time at the store. There would be no limit on how much stuff you had to bring to sell. It could be as little as a few dozen eggs, or as much as a weekly order of beef and pork. We could also get an ice cream machine and hot dog stand going at the same location. The only rules we would have about stuff for sale would be that it has to be grown locally or made locally. No importing of stuff from large distributors. No mass produced products (except for maybe the ice cream mix and the hot dogs). We would have to follow the laws and regulations regarding sales, taxes, and food preparation.
If I built a small lean-to / barn, that would be plenty of space to put up some shelves and tables to accommodate all sorts of goods. It could be like the larger farm stands that dot the Amish country. They sell all sorts of goods and produce with very little overhead. The stand wouldn't need electricity for the first few years (unless we had an ice cream machine or freezer for meat selling). We might even be able to get away with a dirt floor and only 3 walls for a while. If it worked and we made money, we could invest that money into flooring, running water, and electricity. Eventually the store could be open all year round to sell Christmas gifts and other products to year-round residents.
This is the plan for now. Even if I have a job this summer, I would love to start a little farm stand. It wouldn't have to be much at first, but it sure would be nice for my friends and neighbors (and myself) to have an outlet for our products and produce.