Saturday, July 28, 2012


I have been milking three goats twice a day for a few weeks now and the novelty of milking has worn off.  I enjoy spending time with the goats but I'm not sure my poor cramping hands can take it.

The Commander wanted me to get a milking machine so I did some research on the web and found that the Henry Milker was getting great reviews.  I decided to give it a try and I even splurged and got the advanced version, it milks two teats simultaneously.

It really is a simple design and is quite easy to use - it came with a three page instruction manual.  The milker caps fit my mason jars so I was set to give it a try.

Addison, my best milker, was easily hooked up and milked in no time flat!  Her teat orifices were such that the suction filled the feed line and the teat cup almost immediately.  She was totally dry in less than two minutes.

One of the reasons I got the milker was because Gidget had smaller teats and orifices so she was difficult to milk.  She now gives almost as much milk as Addison and she enjoys the suction cups much more than hand milking. 

I highly recommend the Henry Milker.  It is easy to use and works like a champ.  The time savings is incredible and I am once again enjoying spending time with my girls during the milking process.

Thursday, July 26, 2012


One day my cauliflower was growing great the next the leaves were almost totally denuded by bugs! 

Every plant had been under attack from something that was targeting the cauliflower only.

I got out the sprayer and doused everything with a layer of dish soap, but it was too late to save the cauliflower.  This is the first year I have tried to grow it so I was excited to see how it fared.  Oh well, I will try again next year.

Does anyone know what this plant is?  Is it poisonous?  It is growing in many places in the pastures and it is spreading, the sheep and goats won't eat it.  I find this odd unless it tastes terrible or it is poisonous.  Any ideas?

Sunday, July 22, 2012


Meet Pebbles, she is our new Mini-Alpine goat! 

I got Pebbles from the wonderful people over at Carl B's Farm.   They have some of the best goats in South Dakota and have won numerous awards.

I decided to try a Mini-Alpine as they are larger than my Nigerians (no where near as large as regular Alpine's) and they should give me more milk.  I want something that is still easy to manage and not a huge hay burner.  An increase in the milk production will give me a chance to try making some cheese, most of the milk I currently get gets drunk before the day is out.

Pebbles is enjoying exploring her new surroundings, all the goats around her just love going in and on top of the igloo.  Pebbles markings are unique, she fits right in with the herd as no one looks anything alike!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Are you my Mother?

Six of the seven guinea hen eggs in the in incubator hatched so instead of moving them to the garage I gave to mamma chicken.  I moved mamma chicken, her two chicks and the six guineas all out to the new chicken brooder house to give them some privacy away from the other birds - safety for the little ones.

Unfortunately one of the keets didn't survive the first day but everyone else is doing great.

Last year one of the chickens raised a batch of keets and it turned out great.  The predators surrounding this place have taken four guineas so far this year (three females) so I may need to keep some of these, hopefully a few are female.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Herd

I just love seeing the goats out grazing in the high bush.

They vary so in color, a rainbow of vegetation eating machines.

"Hoss, meet Addison - Addison, Hoss!"  It helps to let the goats eat down the plants on the other side of the ram area fence, it reduces the temptation for the rams to force the fence for a juicy piece of grass.

A good shot of the chocolate color of Gidget's baby Emma, I just love that shade.

More color variation, this is one of my favorite things about Nigerians.

Hoss longs to join the "little" herd.  He has wonderful horns.  Nothing is more fun on a sunny day than to let the goats out to graze.

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Replacements

Of the ten eggs the hens were setting two actually hatched, I sure hope they are girls.

The three remaining Americauna chicks that we hatched out this Spring look nothing alike, I think the white one is the only hen.

I think these two are actually Americauna's while the other may be a mix with a Maran.

The two look to be a mix with the lone Rhode Island Red and Leopold the Golden Laced Wyandotte Rooster.  What were the odds of that!  We are going to have to move the peeps and their mom to the new brooder coop soon as the babies just can't manage the coop ramp at night.  The struggle to catch them to put them up for the evening may prove fatal if we don't move them soon.

This looks to be an Americauna hen, not a Wheaton like the pure white one above.   The Americauna's lay sky blue eggs, I can't wait to get some.

Unfortunately this one appears to be a rooster too.  I can't believe we will be going on our 3rd year of raising chickens.  I am told that the egg production begins to decline at this point so I hope some of the new hens pick up the slack!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

What to do W'Sheep Poo?

There are too many sheep in the barn with all the lambs so we have to clean out the stalls more often.  I like to put wood chips and DE down once everything is mucked out because they absorb liquids and make clean-up easier when the time comes (again).

In the two stalls we also spread extra grass hay, the goats won't eat it and the sheep only eat it if they are starving.

Things get messy fast with seven lambs on partial liquid diets.  The five older lambs overnight together in their own stall as part of the weaning process.

I sure wish it could stay clean, but if it did I wouldn't have any poo to spread around.

The Commander hauled the sheep poo over to the garden in the wheel barrow and I packed it around the plants.  The potato plants have now grown higher than my waist, I can't believe how big they are!

The zucchini and squash plants are at least twice as big as last year.

When I get a chance I will spread the rest of the poo in amongst the strawberries and the tomato's.  It may not do much good this year but I have high hopes for next years crop.

Sunday, July 8, 2012


I have been reading about the drought throughout the country and the possible hay shortage, fortunately here the hay is growing fine.  I was able to have 100 bales delivered last week and my hay guy asked me if I had room for 100 more.  Seems he has a field cut to dry and he wanted to move directly to my house if i had room.

We were able to get 40 bales into the ram shed and the rest was split between the goats and the ewes.

I figure I have room for another 20 bales in with the goats so if I can't fit the rest above the ewes I will find somewhere to stash it.  It will be nice to have 200 bales onhand, it is easier to move it now than when the snow has fallen.

Goats milk, its whats for dinner! We have cranberries year round instead of only at Thanksgiving and Christmas, do you?

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Laundry Soap

I finally got a round to trying out the homemade laundry soap recipe.  Follow the link to get the particulars, but needless to say it saves a ton of money!

I wasn't sure how well it would work so I decided to try it out first on Molly's crate blanket, it was quite dirty!

I have been using it for over a month now all my clothes are clean and fresh, no one has noticed any difference in the level of cleanliness.  No one has had any skin reactions, this stuff works great.  A friend of mine even used some to help clean her floor!  Give it a try, it is easy to do and will save you money!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Potato Plants

I don't have a very big garden so I have to be selective in what I plant.  Over the Winter I began infusing the garden with goat berries and soiled hay, this led to the soil having a much darker and richer color this Spring.

I think one of the beneficiaries of the richer soil has been the potato's, they are huge (at least in my experience).  The top plants have grown well higher than my knee caps and are still going strong.  Click on the picture and compare their size to Gidget behind the fence on the right.  I'm thinking the hay in the soil is perfect for potato plants.

I also added a Topsy-Turvy tomato plant grower (top left) to see how it works out.  I have a control group of tomato plants growing normally in the garden to see if growing upside down makes a difference.

The squash and zucchini look to be doing OK and I have already eaten some strawberries, I am very curious to see how the egg plant and cauliflower turn out.  

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Fowl Murders

The Tall, Dark Stranger paid the price last night for not sleeping in the coop.  I don't think he escaped this encounter.

Last week one of the eagle looking chicks came up missing, looks like they were eaten by a fox or a lynx.  We have seen both lingering about, not good.  I wonder if the lynx is big enough to try and grab one of the goat kids?

The Commander and I finished putting together the new brooder/rehab coop.

Its two current occupants are Americauna chicks that the Commander picked up a few weeks ago.  In another week or so they will get moved in with the rest of the chickens.

They need to move because two of the hens have been broody for several weeks.  If they hatch out any chicks I will move them to the new mini coop to give them some time to grow.  The egg production around here has dropped off dramatically with two hens sitting and some of the others laying their eggs on top of them!

The second hen is currently sitting on five eggs, but she has not been sitting them consistently.  I don't think she will hatch any.  That is OK because I have seven guinea eggs in the incubator due to hatch in less than two weeks.  Things will be easier around here if I can get her to raise them.

I'm not sure what to do about the fox or the lynx, I'm going to have to keep the gun ready.