Tag Archives: animals

Memory Bank Deposits

30 Aug

Quality of the time spent is supposed to rate over the quantity of time. Do you feel this to be a true statement?

When I was two years old, I recall a visit by a handsome man with a ponytail accompanied by a beautiful, ethereal dark haired lady. They were very nice, spoke softly and drove a VW van.

That was my first introduction to my biological father.

By the age of fourteen, I pretty much ran my house and took care of my developmentally disabled brother, went to school and worked a part time job as well. My Mom worked a full time job and was not home very much.

One hot, summer afternoon there came a knock, knock, knock on our front door.
I hopped up on the kitchen counter, reaching over and cracking open the window. Looking out there stood a man I did not recognize. Asking who he was, his reply caught me off guard. Hearing him state he was my Dad! “My Mom isn’t home,” I quickly said, adding I that wasn’t letting him in.
For all I knew, he could be Santa Claus!

If you have read down this far, you may be wondering what on earth this story introduction has to do with goats or Life on Z Feirme ?

Back to the story line. My Mom finally arrived home to find my Dad and his family parked outside, bearing the heat of that summer day!
I was thoroughly chastised for not recognizing someone I hadn’t seen in over twelve years! I was rather precocious at fourteen, I remember that I gave my newly surfaced parental figure quite the go around!
Where had he been all these years? Why get in contact with me now?
What was he like? Where did they live?
This line of questioning resulted in plans for a trip to Canada where he had moved years ago.

Canada was so breathtakingly beautiful! I had to take three consecutive pictures to fit one mountain in a complete Panoramic view! I discovered my Dad’s place was located in the province of British Colombia and thirty miles to the nearest town. Quite a contrast to being raised in the city!

Quite eagerly I joined the family routine of farm chores.
Over twenty nine acres to explore with it’s own waterfall,creek and the most terrifying impressive tree. This tree was one of the first landmarks on the property that I was shown partially to educate me about bears who also roam the forests. Then to scare me, hahaa! Deep, jagged, wide claw marks were scratched over twelve feet high!

Some of my friends back in Oregon had horses but I had never been around; goats, sheep or chickens!

After meeting their horse Talla, I grew increasingly curious about their herd of goats which included a huge French Alpine Billy goat whose name was Vanilla Fudge. There was seven does to milk and fourteen total to put out after milking!

A beautiful pair of Border collies named Buns and Clee demonstrated their intelligence by sorting the does who were all clamoring to be first on the milk stand. They let each doe out, kept the others back to wait their turn.

If one of the girls took cuts, they were sternly corrected by the dog’s watchful eye, sharp nips and barks!

Milking a goat? It seemed as likely as trying to milk a highly inflated balloon! Could I really learn to be successful at milking? It seemed to take forever, yet after about a week I was feeling pretty accomplished@ this new task.

We followed the dogs who relished their job of herding all those does and kids to the upper pasture, closing the gate behind them. After that was done, we carried the full bucket to the house and plunged it into a sink of freshly
drawn, icy cold creek water. As soon as the milk cooled, we were rewarded with a big glass of fresh, creamy milk!

I had never had fresh, raw milk before and I was hooked!

Here we are two decades later my husband and I are able to realize our dream of owning our first property. Being pregnant with our daughter, the last thing on my mind was getting goats! A sister-friend stopped by to see our new place and it turned out she was in a bind. She had two LaMancha does she needed to find homes for.

Himming and hawing, I then laughed thinking she had to be joking since I was almost six months pregnant and looked like I was trying to hide a beach ball under my shirt! Glancing over, I see that she is not laughing!

Oh my! It didn’t take her long to seal the deal when she offered a personally mentored Dairy Goats 101 class! Included were two pure LaMancha does, Cornelia and Belle. Cornelia was already in milk.

A complete novice starter package; hay, grain, milk stand, milk pail, assorted goat accessories and best of all daily, hands on milking and care instructions!

Taa-daa, we now had our very first dairy goats!

I wanted to share this memory with you as an encouragement. We may never realize how the token coins of Love & Caring we gift to another adds priceless value as a Memory Bank Deposit.

The opportunity to spend time with my biological father gifted me with coins of wisdom, learning, animal husbandry, confidence, appreciation of nature, respecting other’s beliefs, family, self sufficiency desire, humor and most precious of all, Love.

Advertisements

Mizz Pepperpot

1 Feb

After carrying hot water and oatmeal out to the yard for the Chicky Girlz, next is filling and hanging their feeder up to discourage other critters from looking for free meals. Having to be careful where I walk, the hens and their accompanying roosters crowd in. Each feathered little face peering over the next jumping up eagerly awaiting the daily hand feeding of scratch. Exiting the yard and pulling the gate closed, I step into the grain room and gather tools for cleaning the coop.

Recently I decided to change from straw bedding for the coop floor to using construction sand. Initially I worried that in the low temperatures the chickens and roos would be cold without the straw.
Check out this link below for info.
http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/2012/09/chicken-coop-bedding-sand-litter.

One thing I noticed right away, no more poopy eggs! The nest boxes still have straw, freshened every morning for their comfy arranging which seems to encourage laying. I have also started using dried herbs, just a pinch in each box to keep it sweet and fresh. Ideas here: http://www.the-chicken-chick.com/p/spruce-coop.html

Some of the Chicky Girlz have a full ruffle of feathers looking like ruffled old fashioned pantaloons along with their feathered feet and the straw and poop would stick to their pretty adorned feet.

If you dare to compare, coop sifting is rather like cleaning a rather large catbox! The sand does work best with daily sifting and there are some great ideas and pictures on the link about sand for bedding. I used 3 bags of sand and it took visits to 5 stores to find the construction sand. The smell is much less, rodents are not attracted to sand in the coop like they were when I was using straw.

After finishing the coop tidy detail, I wanted to freshen those nest boxes with some of the nice, soft straw we get locally. Picking up the bag with the straw in it I open the bag, reaching my hand inside to grab some straw and much to my astonishment a very loud Squawk booms out from inside the bag! I almost dropped the bag and carefully peering inside a gray and black checkered hen named Miss Pepperpot glares at me, guess I surprised her too!

This Chicky Girl is a 2 year old “Fluffercauna” . Around our little farm a Silkie and Ameraucana cross is called a “Fluffercauna” due to the extra feathery “hat” of feathers atop their heads and their legs and feet appear as bloomers with little featherdusters attached.
Nothing like a tiny hen to bring you to sitting fast with that kind of surprise! All is well, against her loud protests (pretty some of those squawks were swear words) I settled her into a nicely fluffed nest that she could not resist.

The Quest for Organic

3 Jan
  • Our little feirme (farm) has a small herd of Mini-Mancha dairy goats. Currently we have two senior does in milk. One of our milk customers wanted to know if we would consider feeding Organic feeds to our milk does as they wanted to keep using our milk, but new health concerns had them looking to organic only in their diet.

What is the definition of Organic? As I researched, It came to my attention that there are endless interpretations of this one word. What I am looking for are grains developed for goats that are not grown or processed using artificial chemicals for growth, fertization,insects resistance or weed deterrents.

We have not used any weed killers, sprays, powders, chemicals on our property since we moved here in 1999. Our livestock is fed as much local hay, alfalfa, grains, herbal supplements, minerals and formulas as possible. Another thing I discovered the way we have been raising our livestock and growing our garden, fruit trees is called “sustainable”.

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/sustainability

Going to some of our local feed stores revealed few choices for Organic grains, feeds or hays. The first Organic grain blend we tried has a lot of powder in the mix. Our Goaty Girlz do not really care for it and my oldest doe “Tutu” lost body condition, both does lost weight on this.

Availability is challenging, most feed stores want you to order and pay for a minimum month supply of bags as it is not kept in stock. Price is steep, expect an average of $12.00 per bag increase in price. Now we are looking for possibly mixing/milling a grain blend with higher protein and palatability.

Here is a link for the organics offered by Payback, we will be contacting them and will keep you posted on our quest for organics. http://www.paybacknutrition.com/products/organic

Crazy Spring Day on Z Farm…

24 Apr

Spring Lambs 011

Just thought I should post an update about how things have been going here on Z Farm. I started off my day with getting awakened much earlier than I had planned, could not go back to sleep. My soon to be thirteen year old daughter is still sick with some horrid stomach ailment and is on her second day in bed.
I swilled down 2 cups of coffee and headed outside. The morning is absolutely beautiful, bright, sunny, warm and a sweet, spicy freshness to the air. First stop is the sheep barn/Chicky Girl coop. I loosen the pull cord to the door on the coop and all the Chicky Girlz and roos dash down the ramp chattering happily into the sun in their freshly pine chipped yard. Scattering scratch for them, fresh water next.
Onto putting Mommy Sheep and her lambs out. We have collars on the turning three-week old lambs and lead them while Mommy follows us to the turnout. We close them in and put fresh water inside for them. Mommy Sheep has tamed down a lot, but she freaks out so bad when trying to lead we don’t even try! They are contentedly grazing now. Walking back to the Sheep stall part of the barn, I open the fancy gate made from a pallet, pick up the lid of alfalfa and step over to the tires that serve as feeders out in the pasture. Putting a chunk of hay in each one, filling water and back to the barn. I step out-of-the-way as I open the door to the stall; Lamm-E and Sagen buck and jump as they are liberated into the pasture.
Tying the door at the top and bottom keeps Mr. Smarty Pants Lamm-E from butting the door open! Next we carry out the cage that has the Ameraucana chicks in it, they are starting to get their feathers and are so awkwardly cute. Some of the care of the animals is repetitive; food, water and clean beds at night and food, water and pasture during the day. That said I walk on the chipped path to the horse barn. Ms. Peep is the first one to be cared for. She is a one-legged Ameraucana hen that has survived a weasel attack and a rat attack, she is a spunky girl! The old grey mare “Silver’ is grained, then her daughter Beauty, the pony Zena is given an “I’m sorry you’re fat sprinkle”. Goaty Mommas grained next, Little Goaty Girlz (yearlings) grain. Hay for horses in arena, alfalfa hay for goats outside.
My friend in Farmdom is just pulling into the driveway. Sigh, today we have to disbud the twin Mini Manchas born last Wednesday. This is the most unfavorite chore when you have Dairy goats. Sure the horns can be left, since most do not have the luxury of free ranging animals without fences the choice is made to disbud and prevent getting heads caught in fence squares. It also makes milking easier as they put their head into the stanchion to eat grain while being prepped and milked.
Plugging in the torturous disbudding iron, put the dog in the house and finish drawing up the vaccines and syringe of corn syrup given to each goat kid after the procedure. I only have the job of shaving the tops of each head, giving the shots and counting the longest, smelliest ten seconds while the red-hot iron burns a ring around the hornbuds. After both are ringed, the procedure is repeated.
As soon as we make sure each kid is not showing signs of shock, we rush them back to Momma and she lets them nurse. After a couple of hours the kids are up and tearing around the stall like all is forgotten!
Led both the horses out to the arena and fed them hay, water is fine. Pony Zena can wait until after lunch, if she is put out too soon she will drive the big horses away and eat All the hay!
I am sure I forgot some things to list on here, but it is time to eat lunch. Leftover Chicken Tetrazzini will hit the spot.
Next post will enlighten the reader to another crazy day on Z Farm
thanks for following!

BbbbbBad to the Bone!

28 Feb

Ah, the challenge today was to write two new posts. Even though I have discovered that I love to write, I still start my day the same way. Usually 2 cups of fresh ground coffee, waking children, feeding our resident old man dog of almost 11 years, food in the cat’s bowl and maybe eating breakfast. Once we have our meet and greet whilst the children and I look over the day’s schedule of school and such, I venture out to do the chores.

Starting with the pullets in the beautiful red Chicky tractor that my wonderful husband built for our little ones, then big girl Chicky coop, guest buck goat, alfalfa in pasture for spoiled expecting, huge ewe and sheep friends.

Next I walk the chip path, well it should be called the muck path right now! We were blessed to have delivered a full load of chips from one of the utility companies, then the extra wheelbarrow went on strike. So, until more money and a trip to Jerry’s we are making do with sharing one! Which does not sound like a big deal…but with stocking wood for keeping house warm, cleaning stalls, moving feed..well you get the idea.

Arriving at the barn, I push open the big slide door and am greeted by nickers, Ms. Peep clucks from inside her snug little house and goat protest maa’s! Little doe goats are fed grain first, followed by the does-in-waiting grain, old mare grain, giraffe grain and filly grain.

Climbing up the ladder, I notice there are no open bales of grass hay. Great, I left my pocket knife in my coveralls. Well, cleanup time upstairs. There is enough hay to feed all and now the loft is tidy. Tearing some huge flakes of alfalfa, I drop some down for feeding sheep and goats. I have transversed that ladder for almost 14 years with no mishaps. I made up for that today! I don’t know what happened to cause my boot to slip and instead of the ball of my foot finding the next rung of the ladder, my whole shin did. It hit hard, causing me to gutterally growl out in scream language! My poor dog ran over the base of the ladder looking up at me with sympathy and wonder, I growled for what felt like ever. Even though I am in pain, I did not even swear, huge accomplishment!

Halfway up or halfway down the ladder, oh man. I still have to finish climbing down. I suck air and carefully finish backing each rung until with great relief I am on the barn floor. Nothing appears broken, the throbbing in my leg I can now feel in my head and every breath I take. Guess I am limping it back to the house, after I give the alfalfa to the sheep and let them out. Come on, I am a Farm chick. Injuries just have to wait sometimes to be fully acknowledged, because on Z Farm..I am now..BBBBBbad to the Bone!

 

 

Just an average Day…

20 Feb

Stayed up late, you guessed it..blogging! I thought that I should stray back towards the origins of this blog and write about an average day on Life on Z Farm.
Up at 3 am, stoked fire and checked to make sure children and husband are covered up. Husband has flu, so I am sleeping on our antique couch in front of the wood stove.
Waking at 7 to my hubby asking where my phone is, as he needs to call into work again, poor guy. Sure hope he feels better soon, he is worried even when he is sick about making our ends meet. We do not have health insurance, nor sick days.
Started a pot of coffee, love the new coffeemaker we got!
No fresh milk, so drinking it black and sweet.
Now breakfast plans, muffins in oven. Onto waking children for school.
We attend virtual school, but they still have a schedule to follow.
Stoke fire again, let kitty into get warmed up, then kick her back out.
After drinking 2 cups of coffee, I am out to do chores.
First stop is the chicken coop. We currently have a dozen laying hens and two roosters to let out, feed, water and throw scratch to.
Next it the Chicky tractor which houses the pullets until they are big enough to go in with the big girls around 5 months of age.
The sheep stall is on the backside of the Chicky Girlz coop, so I carry out alfalfa and divvy it up into two feeders, fresh water and let them out. We have one coming yearling Cheviot ram a Cheviot/Icelandic ewe close to lambing and a Southdown ewe just 2 months bred. After putting the carry lid back in the barn and letting sheep out, we walk over to the Big barn.
This is where the pony, old grey mare & her daughter and our dairy Goaty Girlz reside.
Up into the hay loft to drop hay, we used to cram the loft full. Since selling my horse and thinning out the goat-herd the loft is still used and much appreciated, but the price of hay has more than doubled in the last few years.
Walking down to the end of the aisleway, I get a can of Senior grain for our 26-year-old Arabian Mare Silk AN Silver. I feed her first she likes to savor her grain and it takes her the longest. Grain for Beauty her daughter and a I’m sorry you’re fat handful for the pony!
Goat doelings get grained next, then I put fresh hay out in hanging feeders in the pasture. Orchard grass, locally grown is topped off with Christmas Valley alfalfa priced at $270 a ton!
We have two senior does who are due to kid in 2-4 weeks and they are turned out into the pasture to eat while the little Goaty Girlz finish their grain. Don’t forget the clean, fresh water!
I have to leave one little doeling and her sister in the stall, as she broke her leg 3 weeks ago and she is a wild jumper. Probably how she broke her leg to begin with ,she is one of the smallest and bossiest kids we have…Well of the Goaty kids anyway!
Ah, I forgot to mention that upon entering big barn that we have our resident mascot~ Miss Peep~ to let out and feed and water.
She was in a batch of pullets that was brutally attacked through the wire on their pen.
When I went to move the pen one morning I walked around the side and found a pile of wings, feathers and legs. I checked the remaining pullets and one did not move. I picked her up and realized she only had one leg left! She is pretty amazing creature, we cleaned and salved her open wound where her leg used to be and she has been keeping us company at the barn ever since!
After the horses eat their grain, we put the old girl out with her daughter and after hay is eaten we throw the pony out. She is such a bossy little meany that she will eat and eat until she can no longer move! Don’t forget the clean, fresh water!

That is how morning chores are usually done. I used to drag the children out with me every morning, but now I get them up and breakfasted and then they start school. I discovered having them help with the evening chores when I am starting to fade is a good way to go! Evening chores are more involved, we clean stalls, make sure all have fresh bedding, food and water. Coop is tidied, eggs collected.
Here comes the sun, that means time to go out and possibly greet the sought after warming, golden rays of light.
What would you like to me to write about next? Kidding season, farm emergencies, children silliness, beauty in nature, creatures?
Hope your day is utilized to count your blessings, thank you for reading!
Zion Farm Goaty Girlz

Next installment of parenthood…

20 Feb

My youngest daughter went to a friends on Sunday nite. She and her friend had fun and took and posted pictures of their antics.
Oh my, I guess I am not ready for my little girl to get the attention that she doesn’t even know is starting to happen already!
I have to state that raising boys is a lot easier than girls. I think i can make this statement as we have 2 boys in the family and 3 if you include my husband!
Since we live and operate a small family farm,whenever one member is gone, the others have to pick up the slack. Or, sometimes Mom just likes the solitude and does all of the chores.
It is amazing that I can get all of the chores done right now, since we are not milking yet in an hour. If I take my time and play with the critters like I usually do, make that 1 1/2 hrs.
When I have many hands, they do not always make light work!
Our two youngest children ages 10 and 12 help out with chores in the evenings during the week. We quite often have our 11-year-old nephew out on Saturday nights and to add to the crew the grandchildren will come out for the weekend as well.
With so many helping hands, one would expect chores to fly. Well, they do breeze by and right off into the spring swirl of wind!
My daughter being the eldest in the group, likes to take charge and of course the others resist, not realizing that resistance is futile.
I have to brag, my children have gained enough life experience on the farm , from expectant animals to watching for illness or injury.
We have had a crazy schedule and while we were rushing to do the chores, amidst a chatter cloud of resentment I sighted a silver thread.
We sat down and had a Mom-children talk. I asked my daughter if she remembered the animal rescue & anti-horse slaughter research she had just completed for school? She gave me a funny look and answered “yes, why”? I laid my proverbial cards right out on the table. I entered into the arena of conversation by informing them that we had our very own rescue horse, Silver. Did they really think that we could find her a better home than she already has? How many animals had been sent to their horrifying deaths and suffering being neglected by owners who carelessly cast them aside when they encountered difficulty in keeping them or they were no longer interested?
Had this 26-year-old mare not been ridden by them and most of their friends? Did she not deserve to be retired with love, respect and small amount of sacrifice financially from our farm to show her honor she had earned?
This dramatically changed the whole attitude of complaint during chore times. Instead of being resentful, the children now take pride in the fact that we have our own “old girl”! Even though our old girl has sought after bloodline in the Arabian breed, so many animals have glutted the market that papered, young, old, pregnant, trained, healthy are trucked to slaughter destined to be put to death for the sake of the almighty dollar.
I overheard all of the kids and some friends added to the mix talking about our various animals and the work involved. My daughter stated, yeah, we have had Silver for quite a long time and we are giving her a good life now! That made my heart soar!
This last month consisted of 2 full weeks of illness from the children, dealing with having a tooth pulled, a goat doeling with a broken leg, testing for school and the flu added to life on Z Farm.
It makes everything worthwhile to hear the children’s laughter, see them outside enjoying the property and animals we have been blessed with.
Why do the eye rolls, sighs and complaints always seem to occur when I am on my last nerve? I think it is part of the divine plan to keep me humble, for I am constantly reminded to partake of the joy of the little things…as much as I dread this next installment of parenthood…I give thanks for the children and their remembering to stop and notice the raindrops capturing the early morning light and glistening like rare gems, or the spicy fragrance of the fresh rainsApple blossoms.