Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Getting Ready to Milk Guide: Dairy Goats

This Guide is about getting you ready to actually milk, what you want to purchase
and what I've learned I LIKE to use. 

You may end up with different preferences as you learn.

** First, you want a healthy, quality nice Dairy doe (Or Two!)

There is no way around this. No substitution. 
My recommendation is buy the best you possibly can, save
for awhile if needed. A healthy, quality does will generally
not be priced under $400.  Many will be far more. This is well
worth the investment. Production, length of lactation,
value of future kids, ability to produce kids each year for ten years
while milking 10 months out of 12, CAE free status and an udder that
stays where it belongs. . .THAT is priceless. Do not skimp here. 

**Second, a high quality 16% Goat Ration, loose minerals and great Hay

Dairy goats must have grain to produce milk and stay healthy. Think of them as athletes. Hard working
livestock with high needs. They require a 16% goat ration twice a day in milk. We feed about 3 lbs per doe
twice a day. They have access to all the browse (brush, brambles, weeds, which goats love) and hay they wish 24/7. They have free choice, high quality minerals (we use Cargill Right NOW Onyx) 24/7, as well.

** Third, Next you want a Steel Stanchion / Milk Stand

I really dislike wooden stands. They are hard to clean, though a lot cheaper.
I started with wood and quickly went to Metal. You can
buy this stand above on Hoegger, but you can find them more economically
priced used on craistlist or new on ebay.

** Fourth, a few stainless steel pails

I order mine for the best price on Jeffers Livestock Supply
in the 6 qt or larger size. Do not use plastic buckets
or galvanized. You only seamless stainless steel or even glass jars work
if you're milking mini Dairy breeds. 
Do not look at milking machines unless you're milking over 6 does. It is quicker
and far easier to milk by hand with a small herd.

Another of my favorite pails, though pricey, is this one from Hoegger
and if you need a pail larger than 6 quarts, which you will if you're milking more than two,
I suggest Hoegger's 13 qt pail and lid.

** Fifth,  a covering over the pail for when you milk

These are paint strainers with elastic.  You can purchase these at Lowes in the Paint Section for a few bucks for two. They work great with their super
small mesh at keeping everything out of your milk! Alternatives, which I haven't been happy with are
cheese close and a rubber band or a splatter screen shaped around the bucket top.

** Sixth, Baby Wipes and paper towels

I use a baby wipes to wipe off the udder and a  paper towel
to dry before milking the doe. You can use a damp wash cloth with a mild soap
and a dry cloth, as well. The wipes just work very well. I opt for sensitive, no scent types.

** Seventh,  Teat dip cup and Solution

After milking, you will use a teat cup, like the above, and a solution to briefly hold onto the 
teat to help prevent mastitis. The best price because of the gallon jugs the dip comes in is to buy this at
your local feedstore. Ask them to order it, if needed. I get the above at Tractor Supply. The teat cups
are on Jeffers or Hoegger. 

**Eight, Stainless steel milk strainer with filters

These are both offered on Hoeggers. You can look around for 
the strainers used, as well. 

** Ninth, Glass Jars

You can use plastic 1 gallon pitchers, but Goat's milk is fragile 
and slight mistakes make the taste off. I prefer glass. I use these 1/2 gallon
glass jars. They are perfect, and you can write the milked date on the top with tape to know
keep times. Put the strained milk in the glass, put in the freezer for about an hour as quick
as you can after milking the doe and then put into the fridge! 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

FAMACHA and worming

Reminder - folks. . .don't forget the FAMACHA chart when you raise goats. . .checks and check often.

I noticed Dutchess looked like she'd lost a bit of weight in the last few days. I thought the grain cut back (as the dry does had started to get too heavy) might be the cause. Today she acted faintly off. The slightest bit slower about running to her stall for grain. She is a big, sturdy girl, so she still looks very health, but when I checked her inner eyelids today, super pale. That is a first in years for her.

Obviously, barber pole - the biggest killed goats next to uneducated owners (lol) in the nation. Wormed with the go to Cydectin pour on given orally (other choice is injectable Cydectin given orally or via injection), and it will be repeated in 10 days. She will be right as rain shortly.

Husbandry - you have to know your animals so well that if you catch things before the animal is obviously ill to the untrained eye -

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Maggie, the brave farm dog

Maggie wants everyone to know that worried so about her, she is totally healed up and back to being a farm girl!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Eating rabbits, you say?

I've been a long time vegetarian (reformed vegan, as well) - basically most of my teenage years and almost my whole adult life.
I get both sides of this tale. I've been a vegan. Now I'm a farmer.
The "don't kill anything; it is mean" argument does not go far with me because I've made it myself in the past. I see the flaws.
So here I am a farmer and rescue horses. Weird? Not really. I know a lot of others just like me.
After 16 years as a vegetarian, I occasionally will eat sustainably attained fish/shell fish - maybe once a month or less.
As ya'll know, We raise heritage breed meat rabbits here on our farm for my family that continue living as typical omnivores and always will.
The breed we raise exists only because it has continued as a meat rabbit without fail for decades. It was on the brink of extinction until the local foods movement raised awareness through organizations like the ALBC and the numbers have risen quickly because small farmers are considering this breed for meat in larger numbers.
If all rabbits were to truly be pets only, many breeds would be lost, like the American, the Silver Fox, the American Chinchilla and more - breeds only used by traditional homesteads for meat. That would be a poverty - that they just vanish from the face of the Earth because a few feel they "can't" be livestock.
That agenda is the part I cannot agree with, that echos too much of PETA - the virtual extinction of so many breeds that exist only on small farms under the care of people who have cultivated wonderful diversity in our cattle, goats, rabbits, sheep and more.
Rabbits have been popular on farms for meat continually through our history - that has never stopped.
I'm not interested in the debate of veganism over eating meat from a moral standpoint. Morals are pretty fluid. You have your own. I have mine. But I do want to validate the fact that for the majority of Americans do eat meat and will continue to do so, and rabbits are a very sustainable, ethical choice. That have never ceased to be. They are easy to keep humanely, allow those unable to farm large scale to be a part of where their food comes from, know the care the animals receives from beginning to end and that is so important.
Signed – someone who has been down the activist road of veganism and made it back alive.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

No cow's milk?

The sad news today?
It is time to dry Ellie off. She has been in milk over a year.
Unlike goats, cows don't generally do extended lactations (which goats will do well), and while I believe she would keep at her gallon a day for a long time more, she is getting quite fat and that puts her reproductive system and cycle at risk of having issue with conception in the future. . .
She should have been bred back a few months after calving, but the family who had her at the time wasn't able to have that done when the elderly farmer who had always helped them with AI passed away.
We've had her since December, but I really didn't want to dry her up to take her to be bred somewhere and her cycles are too quiet to do a day trip. AI with cows has never worked out for me here. . .
So today, I milk her for the last time for at least 10 months, and we say farewell to the most awesome, rich milk in the land. . .
Never fear, we do still have goat's milk. . .but as much as I love my goats. . .that isn't the same as Ellie milk!! lol!! My kids are going to riot over this. Truly. So will the farming fellow. . .
She will travel to visit handsome Isaiah soon, a bull I co-purchased with Aimee of The Tyler Creek Farm - This bull (who looks to have a permanent height of 36'' and registered foundation pure) is actually the last calf of Elsie, the gorgeous Mini Cow I lost late last fall. It is pretty special to be able to stand to get a heifer by her son and out of our pretty chocolate cow, Ellie.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Coccidia in goats

The single greatest challenge to those raising goat kids, especially in wet, warm climates like we have on the east coast!
This is the main reason goat kids die, the main reason people give up raising goats.
I get messages from about now through late summer about goat kids with chronic diarrhea or those just not growing well - This is coccidia almost always. Not worms. Coccidia is a parasite, but it isn't killed by worming treatment. Also, long before worms become an issue in goat kids, coccidia is wrecking their intestinal track.
If most goat kids aren't raised on a prevention program, especially if you purchased them elsewhere rather than being born on your farm (meaning they have NO natural IMMUNITY to the coccidia variety on your land) - you are asking for either stunted or dead goat kids with no prevention too often.
They carry a cocci burden before you see signs, and once you do see loose stool or weight loss, pot bellies - it is already wrecking them internally. Often, they never get over it. The cocci do so much damage, if you wait to long to treat, you have a goat that will never far very well. Never grow as he/she should have.
Goats are NOT native or intended to be in all climates, and Ohio, WV, WV and Ky are some of the worst environments to try to raise goats, especially with organic intentions. The wet heat is a recipe for disasters. . . . you will always fight nature in these areas. Period.
Coccidia covers the environment.
I use Baycox (Toltrazuril) ordered from Horseprerace.com, personally. I usually recommend every 14 days with this or soon (I have done every 14 days) until fall - 1cc per 5lbs.
Dimethox 40% also works and is slightly less expensive and much easier to get: http://www.dairygoatinfo.com/…/coccidia-dimethox-dosage-cc…/
The photos below show a photo online of an Toggenburg kid WRECKED by Coccidia. You wouldn't believe how many people have kids that look like this and do not treat them, though by the point below, full recovery is unlikely.
The next photo is a buck of similar age of mine last year. Well grown.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Silver Fox Rabbits as meat rabbits

The Silver Fox rabbit was our homestead rabbit of choice quite a few years back.

They were so rare then, we would have them reserved to homsteaders/farmers before they were even born.

Today we took 4 to a friend who has been raising and processing wild and traditional breeds of rabbit for bearly 70 years, to make sure the processing was done just as it should be.

He remarked that they were far bigger when dressed than any he'd ever seen before.

Speaks to the value of Heritage livestock over commercial breeds, for sure.


Want to know more about the breed: Visit http://www.livestockconservancy.org/index.php/heritage/internal/silver-fox

Thank they may be right for your farm? Get on our waiting list for an upcoming litter.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Year after year. . .

Today is a bit of a milestone.

I hesitate to even pen a post about it because this page, while it is a working farm page, has rarely spoken about processing livestock for food in direct relation to my family, my farm.

I don't think the base I've built here in 5 years comes here to hear about fresh from the farm meats. You guys are here to see lovely, fanciful photos, hear about rescue horses and learn about dairy husbandry and farm advocacy matters. . ..right?

As most know, I've been a vegetarian for about 17 years now. I added fish after 16 years n 2013, but I quickly found that would be, at most, a once or twice a month event for me. . .

Raising your own food is something I SO believe in. I do NOT advocate for widespread vegetarianism and after spending time as a vegan from 18-19, I discourage that diet entirely.

My family is one of boys and a husband living as happy omnivores and want to do it sustainably, ethically and as often as possible from our land.

There is not better way.

My confession? I've not really allowed that to happen.

I'm compassionate now and again to the point of idiotic when I'm attached. I let misguided compassion lead to me avoiding the very thing this farm is about too often.

Now, we always sell our production animals not retained here to working homesteads and farms where they go on to produce offspring that will be used for supplying the families with food, yes. . .

But here. . all has been quiet on that front.

I find myself holding onto a few straggling meat rabbits too long preferring to sell them for breeding stock, keeping goat kids "BUCKS" too long hoping to sell them as bucks and avoid wethering to raise for meat. . .bull calves lingering as bulls instead of being steered. . .

And I've always been able to sell, and no. . .it hasn't been at a financial loss as breeding stock sales often recoup more than the livestock's value as food for our family, but. . .

Farming doesn't work that way, not effectively over the long term.

It has worked for 5 years because we have been very original in the breeds we've brought to the farm, always harder to find livestock (heritage or very selectively chosen bloodlines), investing in excellent genetics making the offspring valued for breeding and worth buyers while. I'm glad in a way as it allowed many sincere homesteads to bring the RIGHT, healthy animals to their farm to start their Journeys all over this coast, really.

But Today makes a point where, though it has taken me YEARS to get here. . .that is over.

No more only supplying other farms with livestock to make them more sustainable from their own land, trying to only buy what we can raise here EXACTLY how we believe is humane from other farms to support their local meat production.

Not for me, and in this step that happens today, I hope it all really comes full circle . . .

Understanding, in a way not matter how I ponder it and believe in it, I couldn't before today.

And I may, being the softie I can be, rent my garment, go out in sack cloth and heap ashes on my head, too. . .

There is ALWAYS that

Friday, August 1, 2014

Quinoa Black Bean Chili - Best Veggie Chili Ever. . . Hands down!

Best Veggie Chili Ever. . . Hands down!

Quinoa Black Bean Chili

2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
4 cups water

 1 tablespoon olive oil or butter
 1 onion, chopped
 4 cloves garlic, chopped
 2 tablespoon chili powder
 2 tablespoon ground cumin
 2 (28 ounce) organic can crushed tomatoes
 2 (19 ounce) organic cans black beans, rinsed and drained
 1 green bell pepper, chopped
 1 red bell pepper, chopped
 1 zucchini, chopped
 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
 1 tablespoon minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
 1 teaspoon dried oregano
 1 cup Cilantro
 salt and ground black pepper to taste
 2 cups fresh or frozen corn

Sour Cream and choice of cheese to top

Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender, and the water has been absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes; set aside.
Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium heat. Stir in the onion, and cook until the onion softens and turns translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, chili powder, and cumin; cook and stir 1 minute to release the flavors. Stir in the tomatoes, black beans, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, zucchini, jalapeno pepper, chipotle pepper, and oregano. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, stir in the reserved quinoa and corn. Cook to reheat the corn for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, and stir in the cilantro to serve.



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