Thursday, February 24, 2011

Poor Homesteader Maneuver again

In most ways this blog belongs on my equine
rescue blog, and it will go there, too, but
anything that happens on this homestead is
surely part of the daily life of
its want to be homesteaders,
and therefore, noteworthy.

As everyone who visits this blog
can derive I am concerned about
the treatment of animals.
Sometimes I get concerned that people
feel I pursue this too far and leave
a gap where concern for people should be,
but I think that they are both tied together.

While I cannot go out and save children from
abuse or take them in, as much as I would love to,
I can easily change the life of a horse. Would that it
were so simple to change the life of a local child.
Still, by reporting neglect and abuse towards animals,
you do change the lives of people because I assure you,
if anyone doubts it, those who neglect and abuse animals
are threats to children and all mankind.
They will do the same to human beings
and usually already are.

Case in point and the start of this story:

2 years ago in July, we drove out to
Pritchard, WV in Wayne country due to an
ad on craigslist for a starving Clydesdale cross for
$125; we purchased him.
We placed him in an approved home in
Virginia some months later once he was at
a healthy weight.

The same family lived in squalor, totally
filth. . .folks unfit to care for man or beast, in fact.
They have other horses starving there at the time.
We had only room for one.  He was hundreds of
pounds underweight, needing training and had
never been wormed or had his feet trimmed.

Tonight this same family, father, mother, grandmother,
grandkids and great grandkids were all having a family
evening at the horse auction.

Cattletsburg Horse Auction in Kentucky is nothing more
than a ramshackle meat sale, for the most part.

The owner is a meat buyer.

All sorts of low class horse
traders show up and sell of horses twice a month,
and 80% or more go that night to the holding pens
to be readied for transport of Mexico or Canada for meat.
The trip and process is gruesome and unregulated.

A friend mentioned she was going to go since
she might be looking for a horse,
and oddly, though I usually know
I am too much the activist to show up at
such a place, I told her I wanted to go.
I explained to by dear Farming husband
that is was likely I would bring home a horse.

He was not happy, but
the fact is, I have a
"Do the Right Thing" motivation
I cannot be moved from.

The sloppy, muddy hall these horses encounter
 is filled with "traders"
and self proclaimed "horse folk,"
which are, for the most part,
bringing their horses to a death sentence quite happily.

Folks stand around talking about horses,
having a great time and have not a consideration
in the world for what they have done to the horses
so unfortunate to be owned by them.

This hell-hole sits 15 feet from a train track, and when the trains
go back, the horses whinny, scream, jump, tremble and trip.
This goes wholly unnoticed by the horse tradin' folks.

This time, most horses were well fed.

Some of the only horses were underweight,
and these were very thin, young
and unhandled. They were mostly owned by the 
family mentioned already.

I noticed a large, beautiful draft mare and
several spotted draft mix horses in a pen.
They really caught my eye.

There was a sweet QH type mare that 
stood by the fence and let me pet her more eagerly
than any horse at the sale, and I thought to myself,

I will buy her when she comes through.

I saw a lovely little Palomino pony shaking and
attempting to escape the train only 15 feet or
so from the pen she was in,
and then I saw a group of yearlings,
very thin and obviously never handled,
owned by the fine family above mentioned,
in another pen.

There so many,
I had no idea how I would choose only ONE!

We crowded into a smoke filled auction room
when it was time to run the horses through.
I looked down and saw the family
I rescued the Clyds cross gelding from.
They had a small infant,no older than 4-6 months,
in a car seat beside them.
While it was no more than 50 degrees inside,
the baby had no blanket and the parents,
obviously teenagers, sat smoking away in a room already
filled with smoke,and as they brought the group of
scared colts and fillies these people had not
handled or fed through and sold them for as little
as $10 a piece, their feet never trimmed,
having never known affection
and their ribs visible from any distance,

I thought how clearly the treatment of their horse
reflected the negligence and abuse
of this little baby. This is to say nothing of the
older kids with them, all dirty and
exposed to smoke and worse.

An owner of a starved colt we recently had rescued was there, as well.
The girl who starved this little colt into a body condition of 1,  until he could barely walk,
 I did not see her buy another horse,
 was there and
could easily have purchased another
one to starve and abuse.

Most horses that went through went for about $150 dollars,
some went for as little as $10,
and many went for $40-$60.
Only a handful brought over $200.
I estimate 80% were purchased by Buyer #1,
the owner and meat buyer.
The owners stood in the ring after
riding the horse for potential buyers above
and around, and they did
not blink an eye when
Buyer #1 would win the bid on their horse.

Not a single owner was moved by this being the
new "owner" of the horse they
had brought here.

I watched these horses go through and although
I wanted to bid on each one, I knew

I could only buy one, and it is difficult to choose
which horse gets a chance,
gets to live. . .

Then they brought in a white mare. . .

I had taken a photo of her earlier in the evening,
and I suppose it stuck me that
with all that was going on, how she just
stood there looking very hollow
and very alone among the many horses
tied beside of her.

The auctioneer stated she was a
Quarter Horse Mare about 10 years old.
Some yahoo that works for the stockyards rode
her bareback and turned her
around and around in the little area below.

The only bid was from Buyer Number #1.
The guy in the red shirt.
The meat buyer, and I asked my friend
quickly for her auction
number and help it up at the last minute.

She was now mine for the price of $125.
The meat buyer did not counter.
She was a large mare and heavy, but he
had a pen full already, and
the auction was only half over.

Before I knew it, the whole deal was over.
I never saw the dark, thick mare
from the one pen come through.
Neither did the  Belgian mare. . .or the spotted

I went and waited through the
 lines to pay. I noticed the family that brought
in the 5 or 6 horses, the family
I first described to you.
They were collecting the money for
 the horses they had bred and starved
and brought here.
It could not have amounted to more
 than $250, and they have purchased
 more horses to take home, breed and one day
return to the stockyards.

Their little infant was sitting in a carseat screaming
outside as the grandfather chain smoked and let the
little baby freeze in weather well into the 30's.
He did rock the seat back and forth a bit,
for all that is worth.
This was 11pm.

I went into see the mare I had saved after paying her fee.
I saw the main lot of horses, the one with the draft horses and
the mare I had planned to buy.
I asked the boy working inside
why they weren't ran through.

"Oh, that is the kill pen.
The owner bought them as soon
as they came in today.
They don't get to go through."

I asked him how I could buy a horse out of the pen as
 I looked at the
dark eyes of the sweet mare
I had planned to save.

I asked if he could check to see
what it would take to buy her.

Buyer #1, the man in the red jacket,
came buy and poked her with this
cattle prod and said, "$450" and walked on by.
He had paid not a dime
over $150 for this mare a few hours before,
and after letting horses go through
for $10, I could never justify buying
this mare for that.

I asked how long would she be there,
how long did they all have,
hoping I might alert someone to them plight.

He said,

"They all leave tonight."

I could not save her. I could not save them.

Every horse above is on its way to
a holding pen and then to slaughter now.
There were at least 35 horses there tonight
bought for slaughter.
But I did save number 0493

 Farming fellow came with the trailer as a
yahoo loaded a Donkey into the back of a small
pick up inside of a wooden box.
They put a tie down strap
across his back to keep him from jumping out of the
truck bed and the old fellow actually stopped
and patted the spotted Jack that sold for $45 lovingly.

Goodness, do these people not realize what they are doing?
However, that little Jack is likely going onto a much better
fate than those soon to be loaded into the semi out back and this trailer
than pulled in right as our gray mare stepped right up into our own.

So I saved one. . .

One white mare

Who oddly enough, I believe, has ended up a mix of our favorite breeds:
Quarter Horse and Arab

It is not economical or in the way of homesteading,
but that "Do the Right Thing" feeling I get
. . .I cannot shake it.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Eggs in the Kitchen, Chickens on the Hill

Funny how the setting instinct has been bred out
of chickens, and now folks have to resort to buying
exceptionally expensive incubators and turners
in order to hatch eggs.

Might have been some money in selling chicks if darn
hens knew how to set. . .

Little Bantam Hens will set all day, but they are simply
too small to cover enough large breed hen eggs to make
it worth the while.

So since this little Seabright gal above is the only
"setter" we have, and she might fit 4 full sized
eggs under her if she is lucky, we invest in the
most recommended incubator and turner in our
price range:
The Brinsea Octogan ECO 20


(click to order - photo)

And I split an order of 
13 Wheaten and Blue Wheaten
Ameraucana eggs
with a friend at Old Vic Donald's Farm
in Kentucky

 and then purchased
7 Blue Laced Red Wyandotte eggs
 and 8 Black Copper Maran eggs
(all photos from Luanne's Garden, where we
purchased the eggs from in Florida)
And I put them in the incubator last
Wednesday morning.
Though shipping is hard on eggs,
I am hoping for a 
great hatch on MARCH 9TH!

Copper Marans lay, when bred well,
deep chocolate eggs
Ameraucanas are uncommon and lay,
typically, lovely blue eggs
and then BLRW are just beautiful chickens.

All of this involvement with chickens reminds
me a lot of my Dad.

He died in June of 2009 at 85 years old, and
there is not much he enjoyed
more than growing berries, grafting fruit trees
and raising Guinea Fowl and Bantam chickens.

He was able, being equipped with "Old Timer" skills I do not
have any idea how to tap into, would set eggs in a caste iron
skillet, all types of eggs, wrapped in an old wash cloth and 
with the pilot light on and by turning by hand, hatch out almost
every single eggs he sat. People usually do not believe it, if they
have a great deal of chicken "expertise," but he was able to 
do it every single time. 

Daddy did not like large breed chickens, as I do, though.
He thought they were fairly inept at protecting themselves,
and they are.

He preferred Bantams or "Banties", which set on their eggs,
forage well and can fly and roost in higher places than their
larger counterparts. 

I have looked all over my house for a DVD with scan of my
dad in 1929 or so holding one of his hens, but I cannot find
it at the moment.

At any rate, whenever I deal with poultry, I think of Daddy. . .
and keep a few Bantams just for him around here :)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Turn of Events

Two days ago, the farming husband realized a doe we did not realize had been bred my own Nigerian buck was getting an udder!

We have another doe due to kid in a month, and though she had no udder, we thought we'd give them both a sanitation clip ;)

I was very concerned after losing Claire, a much bigger doe, about this smaller coming 1 year old doe, so she was bred to our Nigerian buck.

And as a day with the goats and the pre kidding prep work ends. . .

and the farming fellow goes up to do the nightly feeding and finds:

A cute little single Doeling by Spring Breeze is born right
in the middle of the barn without a single hitch!

Momma and little gal are going fine! No issues at all!

Now, following up this Farm High. . .

We have been emailing with:

About buying 2-4 Nigerian does
We made the drive up to Independence, Ky
today on the spur of the moment
and we bought
Two 2008 Does.

Atwood Acres VOODOO
Atwood Acres Blue Berlin

I admit, I wanted 4, but the voice of seldom heard reason,
Farming Husband, chimed in a resounding, "No."
I listened, which is also a seldom sort of thing to occur.

The hardiness, ease of kidding and easy condition
make them a great choice for dairy goat keepers.

Many do not milk well, so be selective in where you buy your stock.
These two paired with the "soaking wet" buckling I'm waiting
on from the well known

and the two I purchased from a Colorado Herd brought to Ohio and Princeton,
our 1 yr old Buck from Atwood lines, as well,
Will give us a very well bred, milking group of Nigerian Dwarfs,
all AGS OR ADGA registered of course!

Also, I believe, with time, Eve, the doe who
lost both kids and sustained some strange type
of teat injury, we think from being so full and from
coming into contact with amniotic fluids for too long ,
will recover and end up with an amazing udder.

Well, the udder is already amazing, in my opinion, for a Frist
Freshening 1 year old doe, but once the teats heal, and I
believe they will, it will be quite a good udder!

This photo is after milking her out. . .
the red areas are all just scabbing and it is coming loose.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Garden Complex

Okay, so I am an inexperienced gardener, at best.

I've grown some tomatoes, and that is about it.

Fortunately, my mother and uncle have some experience I will
draw on!

My mother is quite the green thumb, though she hardly bothers to grow
anything these days, she used to plant gardens, both vegetable, fruit and
floral, and she had a real knack of growing things!

We will see if either I or the farming Husband have such a knack. I am fairly
certain I do not.

We will pull for farming Husband, then!

We have a great source of fertilizer! The horses, cow, the rabbit and all have helped create a great compost mound by the barn.

And my husband utilized this nearly "black gold" today by loading it into his truck and bringing it down to cover the area that will be our garden.

All the while he loaded the truck, the farming babies watched through the window and yelled, "Daddy! Daddy!"

This looks like some fairly rich dirt, and we will mix it with normal topsoil, I suppose, unless anyone has a better suggestion.

And so the sun sets on another day of life on the ol' Farm

I just paid the domain fee to secure
as a way to access the blog now

Goat Kid Kisses

Considering the recent losses we've had here on the farm, and the despondency of my last post, I felt am more upbeat post was in order.

The loss of the goat kids and our favorite doe, Claire, really begs the question,
"What do we really live for" at its most basic level. Oh, there are lots of answers, but
to be more specific, "Are we living for moments?" I actually have a quote on my kitchen wall, "We do not remember days, we remember Moments."

Oh, I agree, but should we base how we live, our choices, around glimpses, flicks in time? Certainly, moments can change everything forever. I have been there. However, when I think of the time spent trying to help Claire deliver her kids or helping Eve with hers, I consider the many days in the past year where we've had tremendous satisfaction from the farm, the animals, the land in general.

It calls to mind how the night I lost my brother and sister in a fire, or the day my dad died shortly after. . .How many amazing times, how many memories I have, and their loss only makes a person cling more so to those left; it should not make a person push what is left that can help you heal away, correct?

Not that one can really compare the monumental loss of my family to the loss of livestock, but the premise is similar. . .

No reason to throw out what happiness there is in something great because something of importance is lost.

I'm often asked my family members how we can tie ourselves down with this place, the animals and all that is involved here. We cannot go on vacations or even overnight trips, by and large. We are undertaking a large financial burden, as well.
People sometimes suggest the children will be deprived of added "things" and "trips" due to this entanglement, so I have to wonder at these times, "What am I living for?"

Do we live for moments where we have five days out of 365 to splurge and visit Pigeon Forge, TN or the beach (not something I've ever liked, at any rate), or do we live for the whole year, day in and out, and sacrifice a week off for what seems to be the greater good?

I always tell family that it is not worth having a house full of "things" - inanimate things - to come home to day in, day out only to be able to take a trip now and again.

I can open the back door and feed horses carrots from the porch, hatch chicks in the kitchen in the incubator, ride the horses now and again, bring neglected animals back from the brink and see them placed, create our own "real" jelly, soap, butter and cheese and drink actual milk from animals we've raise and cared for, we can bottle feed little goat kids and get goat kisses when milking because they think we are the coolest :)

A trip to Tennessee, don't get me wrong, it is a good time, and it beats delivering goat kids that do not make it at 5am and a vet trip at 6am to put down your favorite goat; however, those are moments in the grand scheme of life, and I'm sorry, so far, the trip doesn't beat goat kid kisses.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

When the Farming Thing becomes Too Hard

"Edited for the many Typos my husband alerted me to 
- I am infamous for them"

Ideally, we would all be up to dealing with the tragedies of farm life and try it out.
We'd fine that it was exactly what we expected and that it fulfilled some raw, real need to really live in us. At least, that is what a person who wants to homestead, in theory, would say and would think. 

A realistic person would know going into this, there are going to be sad times where baby goats, calves, and what have you are not going to make it. It cannot always have a happy ending.

Animals do not always make it, and since many are bred for the purpose of consumption by humans, their loss is trivialized, but in many ways, in order for the farmer to live happily, this is a necessary evil, I suppose. You realize these animals are being raised for food, many times, and if they die in birth or the young do not make it through the labor process, the real loss is a financial one, right?

No so for those of us who are entangled in ideas of vegetarianism, those who think of these animals as pets and producers, and at any rate, the loss we just experienced was not of a meat producing animal, but the loss of our dairy doe and her kids, potentially doelings. I did not check to see when it was all over.

In fact, I did not remain in the barn, and there is our crux, really.

But I get ahead of myself. . .

On Thursday morning, we went to the barn to find out doe, Eve, trying to kid and two dead kids stuck in the birth canal. I went in and moved them around and got them out. Too late for them, but not too late for Momma, thank God. Her udder was so full, it had tears and was bleeding, an even now, it is a terrible mess, though it looks better, if you can believe that:

Her udder is ruined. In dairy goats, the udder is vital to sales and production. Her udder looked fantastic prior to this, and now it is a wreck.

We started her on a round of antibiotics to save her from a uterine infection from the kids being half out for so long and me having to go internally and move them.

Never mind the investment lost by the death of these kids and the loss of her udder's value. . .she at least should live, I believe. I cannot be sure.

Then her dam, our first dairy goat, and our favorite, by far, started trying to kid last night. It was taking far too long. It started at 12am with a water bubble, and at 4am, she had not delivered.

PLEASE - If you read this. . .a DOE SHOULD KID within 30 minutes of seeing the WATER bag. If she HAS NOT, there is a PROBLEM!!!

Here is a photo taken while we were trying to decide what to do.

 Finally, after giving her calcium injections and Dex to help with contractions,
I went in and realized I the kids were large and tangled.
I could not, though I tried for at least 30 minutes, maybe for an hour,
get the kids out.

This was too hard on her. I knew the internal damage was going to be more than she could overcome. I sat there and pleaded and cried and it was useless.

My husband called our vet, and he said he would come right away.

At this point, the crux of the story, I left. I could not stay. I was not strong enough then.

This defined me as a "farmer" 
I could NOT take anymore.

My husband stayed with her. He called me at the house after the vet confirmed that there was no way to get the kids out. I told him to put her down and
go in after and get the kids out. I knew it was too late for them, and I was right; they were dead. I never saw them, but my husband said they were exceptionally large and that she'd never been able to deliver them.

Who knows? Maybe if I'd have been able to turn them right and had went in sooner, I could have. I'll never know. 

I could barely tell what I was feeling in there. 
When I went in, at least one was still alive. It died while I was trying to get it out.

This sort of thing, I think it is too much for me. I am not cut out of the right cloth.

So now we have lost our favorite doe in a tragic and painful way.
We've lot four goat kids in 3 days.

I have no idea why. We do everything breeders are supposed to do.
We use high quality, free choice minerals, supplement with copper and BO-SE.
We use added calcium during kidding, and still this!

Maybe the buck throws kids that are too large or maybe the does have genetics
that cause kidding issues, but we failed them on intervention.

The moral is that while I saw there trying to pull the kids out, I was sure
I wanted to give the livestock away, sell this place and more to the suburbs.

I still think I want to. Maybe this is normal. I do not know.

We cannot maintain animals with these types of losses. The vet bill will likely be over $300. We've lost $1,500 or more in kids and the doe in the past few days.
A very dishonest show breeder of Saanens and Nubians in Charleston, WV
has failed to refund the purchase price of two does that ended up not being 
what he represented, though that is not related to these two does.

Nubians are, I am starting to think, as the old man who disbuds for us
and raises Alpines, "Too hard to keep alive and not worth it."

I am, as I am starting to think, finding this all too hard and not worth it. . .
but tomorrow is, after all, another day, and maybe I will feel better then.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Bitter Cold Day on the FARM

The animals do not like the cold, I assure you.

I am fairly sure that most of them would come inside and sleep
in the living room, if allowed.

The fact that I observe their distaste for the cold makes me a very
odd homesteader.

Still. . .they make do, as do we. . .while we have to be out in it,
especially on days like today when it is hovering around 20 degrees.

God Bless the Little Bantam Hens or "Banties"
for still knowing CHICKENS should set on their eggs

The Milking Parlor

With the does all freshening, it is time to come up with a way to milk them without doing so in the barn, which set way up on a steep and muddy hill behind out house and a long, long way from the kitchen and warmth and such.

Our back porch has long seemed a great place to milk, though only a homesteader at heart would feel that way, but it was totally enclosed with railing.

My husband spent most of the evening and through the early night taking down rails and building steps, and then he brought down the milk stands:

One metal stand we bought from a friend and the other wooden one from craiglist ($50)

We cleaned off the porch, brought out $5 chairs bought for fishing that never ended up taking place enough to matter. . .and viola! Milking Parlor!

I have outlets out there if I decide to be a wimp and plug in a heater, as well.

I'm very happy with my stairs, too. My farming husband was raised in Suburbia and never needed construction skills until moving here, so these are fine steps, indeed, for his first endeavor into building a set!

Now milking can take place with access to hot water, a sink, a freezer and fridge and all of that!

We've also been buying all the basic essentials for milking and cheese making. We had a few things left over from last year, but we only have a single goat in milk verses having 4 in milk soon this year.

Monday, February 7, 2011

The Goat Exchange

I have some goat updates for everyone:

Dutchess, one of our first purebred ADGA Nubians born here, kidded by
our AGS Nigerian buck, Princeton, yesterday.

Wow! What adorable babies!

I'm going to post photos of the birth. . .
just for folks as a learning blog. If you're not inclined
to farm life in its raw state, this blog may not be for you:

She is saying, I assume, "Look what I've done, guys!"

That is a totally normal birth there. Quick, easy and 
the kids were up and bouncing around very quickly.

I follow kidding up with a 1/4 cc injection into each kid of

Wormed the doe 

And they are good to go. . .
Nothing like the Nightmare last year with the doe's Dam 

We weren't prepared, did not know what we were doing prior to
that birth and ended up with a hard kidding, hard recovery, weak kids and

These are registerable Miniature Nubians
Doeling and Buckling
We have two more to kid by Princeton and 
one more to kid in March by Ace, the Nubian buck
All are for sale
$300 each

Moving on. . .

We sold Willow, Missy and Bo to a couple in Pennsylvania.

Those were the last two Pygmy goats we had and our
Junior Nubian buck. I was very attached to Bo, but
I just did not need an extra buck at this time.

We've decided we really like the Nigerians, and we 
are looking for a few more quality does or doelings
like the two we bought last month:

There are almost no Nigerian breeders locally,
so I think they will sell well, and gosh! They are cute suckers!



Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds. For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation? The hay appeareth, and the tender grass sheweth itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered. The lambs are for thy clothing, and the goats are the price of the field. And thou shalt have goats' milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens

- Proverbs 27:23-27

"I know of no pursuit in which more real and important services can be rendered to any country than by improving its agriculture, its breed of useful animals, and other branches of a husbandman's cares."

- George Washington