Friday, October 30, 2015

Both in spite of and because of me

Before I had my own, I felt rather like I had already been a mother. . .

I was the oldest of 6.

I was dictator, sister and mother. . .depending on the day. Sometimes all in one day or one hour.

And I said I would never have my own. . .

Then here I am at 33. . .

There are now three since one generally seems to do all the things they say they never will when they are 16, do they not?

I find myself walking by them as they do whatever they wish at the moment and saying, "I love you, Babies," though I rarely stop to join in with their endeavors.

They answer, "Love you, Mommy."

I am unsure words mean as much as one on one time I forget or fail to give more often than I'd like.

They are 14, 7 and 5. . . Not really babied, but my babies.

While I could not be considered motherly, and I have never been as interactive as I'd like to be, I've managed to take them with me most all placed I've gone whether they wished to tag along or not. They have seen all sorts of "real life" moments a lot of adult never see, as well.

Somehow these wild boys are happy. They are all happy. . .and original - one of a kind souls.

While I've done less with them than I wish I had so far. . .and while wonder if I've pursued my own ends more than I ought, as a mother, as each day closes, I am aware these three boys are confident, loud, eccentric and ask rather the most uncomfortable "thinking" questions you could fathom. . .

So, I suppose, both in spite of and because of me. . .they are growing into some folks worth knowing.



Tuesday, October 27, 2015

At 5 years old, he gets it. . .

We are not religious here.

Not at all.

Now, please do not confuse religion with loving Jesus.

We believe in the Jesus found in the Bible. That is nothing like "religion" of this day and age.

We have friends we deeply love that are religious folks, pagan, atheist and all in between.

That said, while we rarely attend Church, as what we find within is so unlike the "Church" Jesus told us about and believe serving him is really found outside the modern church, this lovely little boy of ours said to me. . .so recently. . .

"Mommy, I wish I could have died for Jesus, so that he did not have to die on the cross for us. I would have done that for him. He did that for me. You know, Mommy? I would have done that for him."

5 years old.

This is a child who doesn't have a religion pushed on him. He just listens to conversations in passing and watches lives being lived. We simply talk about a savior in our daily life in a natural way.

And he gets it.

Thankfully.




Friday, October 23, 2015

And wait! The most important elements remain to be spoken

We met in a bar in Florida on Winter break 2004. . .

He looked 15, just out of the Marine Corps, hanging out in a place known as Wild Willy's looking for what 22 year old Marines look for while in bars. I was with my aunt and drinking diet coke with lime before I knew better than to drink anything with aspartame.

Some older man caught my hand and said, "Hey, my buddy wants to dance with you," and he pushed me over to John. Still, I was hardly buying what he was selling. Not that night or any other in the near future, actually.

Now, 11 years later, the 23rd marks our 9th Wedding Anniversary.
What he was entangling himself in back then, he had no idea. Way back in that bar, he thought. . ."well, I like how she wears those boots."

What he found was I was easier to look at than to live with. . .a life long pessimist and quite remarkably under enthused about everything.

Less than 3 months after we married, he managed to stand outside a burning building with me on a rainy January night when my brothers and sister were inside, and we were too late. While the person he married survived the night, the person he knew me to be for two years prior did not. And in those days, months and years following, though I was shattered and inconsolable and pushed him far, far away because to love anything beyond what I'd lost was more than I could find within myself to do, he managed the impossible: to be happy, devoted to me without question and positive always. He continued in the same fashion with each following event that would have tempted most anyone to cry uncle, frankly.

And little time goes by where someone doesn't remark to me how very loved by him I am. . .

I know most folks write these sappy posts about how they love the other person, but it seemed far more fair to validate how much he has always loved me. . .even when that had to be the very hardest thing to do. . .
The very hardest.

“It’s one thing to fall in love. It’s another to feel someone else fall in love with you, and to feel a responsibility toward that love.”
––Every Day by David Levithan

And wait! The most important elements remain to be spoken -
He has only rarely told me, "No, Tinia. We must not buy another goat," and he has always agreed to one more cow, so there is that, too.
And that man who said he was John's buddy. . .the best part of the tale is John did not know that fellow. He never saw him again.
Wonders never cease.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Ellie and I during better times, times that I do at least know are ahead. . .

I surely love this grumpy 3 quartered Jersey cow, and while I lament the loss of the calf through what I did not know . . .
I am tremendously thankful to know she is, in fact, quite healthy and can conceive without any extra help. . .
Sigh.
(Ellie and I during better times, times that I do at least know are ahead. . .
 )

"Female Farmers in West Virginia Triple National Average" from WDTV

"According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 29% of the farmers in our state are women, tripling the national average. They farm over 1 million acres and contribute over $60 million to our economy."

http://www.wdtv.com/wdtv.cfm?func=view&section=5-News&item=Female-Farmers-in-West-Virginia-Triple-National-Average-26260

When I moved to my small farm in 2009, I had a rude awakening. . .

When I moved to my small farm in 2009, I had a rude awakening. . .No, I'm not talking about the emotional awakening or the physical one. At this point, I'm talking about the legal type.
I just assumed, with some amount of manageable regulation, I could sell my goat's milk . ..as people wanted it. Real. Raw. If not directly to people, then for crafts, to bottle raise animals and so forth. If not as milk, then as aged cheese. . .without being a Grade A dairy.
I found out quickly, that was not true. I found out nothing was being done or had been done to push to legalize raw milk in any form in West Virginia.
I really couldn't believe people could not decide whether to "cook" their milk or not. They decide how and if to cook all other much riskier foods.
Why not milk?
Raw milk sales for any reason were illegal. Sales of homestead aged cheese were illegal unless you were a grade A dairy. Herdshares and co-owners was illegal. Everything was illegal in the Mountaineers are always Free state of West Virginia when it came to milk. . . .unless it played into the Corporate system of dairy. How surprising. . .West Virginia being controlled by corporations and lobbyists, not its people. Except it wasn't surprising, really.
The reasons have never had anything to do with safety. They are solely based on economics. Economics that harm consumers and small farmers.
So I worked to see this changed. It was a passion. It still is. No one seemed very interested, at first, but it caught on, and by the time I wrote the original language for West Virginia's first Raw Milk Sales and Raw Milk Herdshare bills in Winter 2013 to be introduced by Del. Kelli Sobonya, there was a good support base growing.
I've spoken numerous times at the legislature and watched the support there grow, too.
Our really united push saw the WV Herdshare Bill passed by 2015. Granted, the Gov. Vetoed the bill, but what we saw was in a short time, possibly the most restrictive state in the Nation was very close to ignoring corporation and lobbyist money. Not quite, but we are close. Big Dairy Lobby money killed the 2015 bill, it would seem.
I feel very sure 2016 will see the Herdshare Bill passed. It will see farmers given an amazing opportunity. It will see consumers given access to a better and safer food. We aren't likely to see off the farm sales, yet. In time, we will.
If you are interested in being involved in this fight to see raw milk sales and shares in West Virginia, Get on board now. The push started in December 2015 for the '16 Legislative session, but there is no reason you cannot start reminding your reps now!
Our Facebook Groups and Pages:
Our websites:
http://www.rawmilkwv.com/
Our Blog:


Monday, October 19, 2015

I just do not have words for this today. I just do not. I'm so very heartbroken. So very.

Oh, friends. . .

I am so, so heartbroken today.

Stupid mistakes.

As many of you know. . .I bought Ellie with a 4 month old calf on her side in 2013. I milked her for over a year. . .and didn't take her to be bred back because her cycles were quiet making a day trip breeding impossible, and no one with a bull would have been able to just take over her milking twice a day, so I waited until I dried her off. No one AI'd around here, either. At the time.

She is an older cow (coming 9 at this point) and tends to be very fat on grass/hay only. Never gets grain. Being older, fat and dry a long time leads to cysts or just cycling issues in dairy cattle. That happened with her. She started acting bull like, staying in heat constantly. I took her to a bull last December, and she stayed there until March. I brought her home, had her palpated - she was said to be open.

I took her to another bull in April. She stayed there until July. I wanted to pull blood, but she isn't an easy cow to handle and we couldn't get it drawn. Palpating early on isn't always accurate, but I didn't know how inaccurate. So I hauled her to be palpated again. An easy blood draw is almost impossible on her because her neck is so fat. . .so it is drawn from her tail, which just doesn't work in a trailer. You need a chute. The vet said she was open. Again. I assume he was right. . .since I knew she had issues cycling and had proven open with the first bull after 3 months.

I've had her back here since July. I ordered a CIDR, GnRH and did the CIDR/GnRH/Lute/GNRH over the last week. I took her yesterday to the 3rd bull and a friend who had learned to AI. We put her in a chute, AI'd her (48 hours after lute was given) and turned her out with the bull. Vicki said when she was trying to AI, she felt something different than what she'd felt in the other cows she'd done. I really kind of thought. . .it is probably a cyst.

But it wasn't.

Today, she is aborting.

She was bred all along from the second bull, though the vet had checked her as open. The AI didn't not cause this. It was the injection of lute on Friday that caused the abortion (it is used in AI to bring them into heat, if they are open, but it opens the cervix, so if they are bred, they would abort).

I just do not have words for this today. I just do not. I'm so very heartbroken. So very.

So just always pull blood. Never depend on palpation.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

"It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men." Frederick Douglass

"It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men." Frederick Douglass

My oldest. 14.

What a reasonable, articulate, considerate and sensitive boy he has always been.

One in millions and millions.

Do not many mothers think this? Oh, I know they do.

A gentle soul to people and animals alike.

How often I hear what a remarkable boy he is. . .and with him, I know how honest a report this is. . .not flattery. Not in his case.

My other two. . well, I hear they are charismatic fellows, but wild and hard to deal with.

This one, my first. . .

I fear I've never hugged him enough. Never told him how I love him enough. . . how could one, really? Ever do enough?

How reasonable and insightful he is for such a young age, but as some may know, he has watched more than his fair share of sadness unfold for me since he was such a little boy (http://lucasfarmwv.com/ourfarmsname.html)

. . .and while it could have made some hardened, that is not what took place. It created a person even more inclined to compassion, if one could believe it.

As a little boy, he towered over all of the other kids his age, so well spoken . . .no one ever expected he would be a bit different in the way he would learn. . .

It is true for him even now at age 14 and 6'3''

When I, with much chagrin, let him start into a public school's Kindergarten in 2007, It was painfully evident the traditional classroom would destroy his confidence and make something else of him if I allowed it . .

If I allowed it. . .

This isn't about making a child tough with the real world. This boy has seen the real world. He has seen his mother stand in front of a building on fire while her siblings perished inside, he has helped deliver goat kids when the dams struggled and helped put food from our farm on the table. He has defended what is he believes in to adults without hesitation. He has helped and watched over the younger brothers like a second father. He is who he is with confidence, but. . .

His way of learning didn't mesh then or now with our bizarre government standards.

He was left behind as a little boy in public school and becoming sad and feeling as if he was lacking, as if he was not "enough" or was "wrong," but that was far from the truth.

A dishonest label poised to follow him and leave him behind was developing.

I am thankful I was in a place that I could decide to home-school him. So many parents aren't able to do so even when they wish they could. I was able to start down a path at home where I figured out what he needed, what his weak and strong points were. . .where I could find out his strengths and keep his confidence growing instead of receding.

Nothing is more important than confidence, in my opinion, and while hard times come and real life is very difficult, I believe a child who grows in a system that tells him he is failing when that isn't true will never serve him well.

I could not let this wonderful boy, because he was different. . ever doubt himself.

7 years later, there is no question, for him. . .that was the right choice.

My only advice. . .is grow your child's self worth while you can. However you can.

This never means making life easy. This doesn't mean inflating egos.

It means believing in their strengths, teaching them how to appreciate their talents and their differences. It means we try, before they are confident and bold, to prevent them from being destroyed when they are too young to be able to put the pieces back together.

It will vary child to child, but you find a way to make sure they believe in who they are. . .

With that intact, they can go so very far in the area where their talent will lie. . .

Who knows what works for your children?

I have no idea. . .but I am so glad I know my own and am able, through the grace of God, to give them what they need to be the characters I know they can be. . .

http://www.thevegetarianhomesteader.com/2015/10/it-is-easier-to-build-strong-children.html


It rests on you, Clemmy.

The Chronicle of the Cows
From the start, almost 7 years ago, I wanted a dairy cow.
If you can believe it, and likely you cannot, I wanted the cow instead of goats. The farming fellow read some deal about the amazing qualities of goats for the self reliant, and he was sold.
Years later, he has moved on, and my love affair with caprines is going strong.
We had no idea what we were about. Any cow seemed a good choice. Note to self, this is not actually truth. We thought it was, and dove full on.
We purchased a 10 week old Jersey heifer from a monastery in PA. Stella. . . bred for commercial level milk production. She was a big girl as she grew. Bigger than most Jerseys, at about 52'' at the hip. She was a love bug. She tried to mount everything all of the time, including my Kia Sedona, which still carried the dent in the front from her affections, when I traded it in. Me when my back was turned. She was more cow than I knew what to do with on this little place, and while I loved her, I eventually saw, after almost 3 years, she'd be better off on a bigger farm, and our farm friends at Twin Maples became her new owners. She gives 10 gallons of milk a day, I hear (and they have a 50% Mini Heifer out of her for sale nOW).
Next Came Elsie. I had followed her adventures for a few years on a farm page in VA. I had co-purchased a bull calf from her with a friend a year earlier. When she came up for sale, I jumped at the chance to bring her here as she was a mid-sized mini. Much smaller than Stella, not as huge a producer. She was a grumpy cow who cared nothing for people, but she did her job by and large. She liked my farming fellow especially well. She gave us a lovely heifer calf and 6 gallons of milk daily while eating a ton of grain to keep nice condition. We lost her quite suddenly to bloat. We were shocked. We still talk about her (always will) when we go up the hill, reaching the top and remember what a pretty, pretty (and snarky) girl she was standing there by the hay bale like clockwork.
Now we have Ellie. Fat Ol Mini Jersey Ellie. The perfect cow in many ways. Smaller than the previous two, she is grass fed only. Milks 3 gallons at peak on grass, stands like a dream untied to handmilk. She is hardy and easy to care for. She also hates people, but apparently, that is a given with a cow I'm milking. Trouble is, after the last lactation, she hasn't settled. I love this wicked cow. She stays. I tried to talk myself into an alternative. I failed. We just did a CIDR and GnRh. We will try AI and then Live cover. I'm hopeful because she has had 4 calves prior. And she is exactly what I hoped for all these years in a family cow, with the exception she isn't a lover of people. She stays, whatever comes, I think.
Cows are lonely without another Bovine around. I'm lonely without real butter around. I had purchased a companion cow for Ellie, but the owner of the little Dexter really hated he had sold her and recently purchased her back.
In Comes Clemmy. A 75% Miniature Jersey heifer from a farm we've loved for years: T Cupp's Family Farm. She arrives tomorrow. The future family cow for Lucas Farm. If Ellie takes, that is great, as Clemmy is young and will not be bred for quite a while, but looking to the future. . .and our love of Butter. . .
There will be Clemmy. We will see if she breaks the wild and sassy cow curse.
Who thinks that is likely?
I've heard cows act like their owners.
It rests on you, Clemmy.






I rarely drive down Route 10

I rarely drive down Route 10 in Lincoln county, WV anymore. . .
Too many good and bad memories, really.
But I made a special trip today and stopped to see my Aunt Peep who lives right beside that road.
My Daddy's little sister. She was, as expected, having one of her well known yard sales.
By him she worked for almost 60 years in his little store. She is known as far and wide here as he, I suspect.
More character, sass and grit in this woman Than 10 young women combined.
So unlike my daddy, but so devoted to him she always was. . .through his entire life, till the very end.
Her hair and arms look so like his, but her words are humorous and optimistic, as always. His were firm, without foolishness, as he said, with the glass always empty.
And when she talks about him, I remember.
.There is no love greater than that one can have for a brother. . .


They have learned what it is to try to help what is helpless. . .

For several days, I've headed down my road to see this skinny little dog running in the fields around my house.
Scared and searching for someone, anyone.
Spine and ribs all jutting out, but unwilling to be caught, at any rate.
Well, today he ventured close enough to my house for my boys to see him in the distance.
That was all she wrote, as I say.
The pup was as good as captured. My 14 years old and his little brothers trudged through the mountains for hours in pursuit of the elusive and emaciated stray dog that clearly wanted help but was too afraid to come close enough to have any.
After a lot of work, their deep resolve encouraged him to follow them back, and he ended up on the porch of my house. . where he was a had lad.
They call him Kevin.
Kevin is a happy pup tonight on the couch.
The boys are happy. And tired. And in their bloomers.
They saved him all on their own.
Little rescuers. God Bless them.
I haven't failed them by being caught up in helping the lost and wayward horses of the state, after all. I haven't been distracted and gone so much I've failed them.
They have learned what it is to try to help what is helpless. . .




A cow for many years to come


Oh my word. I love this little cow. Love her. I just can't explain. She is the most kind, curious little creature ever. . . so unlike the Jerseys I've known before (and I loved those, too, of course)
I was walking down the hill after taking these, and I thought. . .Surely we will be lucky enough that Clemmy will be our family cow a decade from now smile emoticon

Friday, October 9, 2015

I've heard cows act like their owners

The Chronicle of the Cows

I'm headed this morning to The Cupp Family Farm with T. Cupp Miniatures​

From the start, almost 7 years ago, I wanted a dairy cow.

If you can believe it, and likely you cannot, I wanted the cow instead of goats. The farming fellow read some deal about the amazing qualities of goats for the self reliant, and he was sold.

Years later, he has moved on, and my love affair with caprines is going strong.

We had no idea what we were about. Any cow seemed a good choice. Note to self, this is not actually truth. We thought it was, and dove full on.

We purchased a 10 week old Jersey heifer from a monastery in PA. Stella. . . bred for commercial level milk production. She was a big girl as she grew. Bigger than most Jerseys, at about 52'' at the hip. She was a love bug. She tried to mount everything all of the time, including my Kia Sedona, which still carried the dent in the front from her affections, when I traded it in. Me when my back was turned. She was more cow than I knew what to do with on this little place, and while I loved her, I eventually saw, after almost 3 years, she'd be better off on a bigger farm, and our farm friends at Twin Maples became her new owners. She gives 10 gallons of milk a day, I hear (and they have a 50% Mini Heifer out of her for sale nOW).

Next Came Elsie. I had followed her adventures for a few years on a farm page in VA. I had co-purchased a bull calf from her with a friend a year earlier. When she came up for sale, I jumped at the chance to bring her here as she was a mid-sized mini. Much smaller than Stella, not as huge a producer. She was a grumpy cow who cared nothing for people, but she did her job by and large. She liked my farming fellow especially well. She gave us a lovely heifer calf and 6 gallons of milk daily while eating a ton of grain to keep nice condition. We lost her quite suddenly to bloat. We were shocked. We still talk about her (always will) when we go up the hill, reaching the top and remember what a pretty, pretty (and snarky) girl she was standing there by the hay bale like clockwork.

Now we have Ellie. Fat Ol Mini Jersey Ellie. The perfect cow in many ways. Smaller than the previous two, she is grass fed only. Milks 3 gallons at peak on grass, stands like a dream untied to handmilk. She is hardy and easy to care for. She also hates people, but apparently, that is a given with a cow I'm milking. Trouble is, after the last lactation, she hasn't settled. I love this wicked cow. She stays. I tried to talk myself into an alternative. I failed. We just did a CIDR and GnRh. We will try AI and then Live cover. I'm hopeful because she has had 4 calves prior. And she is exactly what I hoped for all these years in a family cow, with the exception she isn't a lover of people. She stays, whatever comes, I think.

Cows are lonely without another Bovine around. I'm lonely without real butter around. I had purchased a companion cow for Ellie, but the owner of the little Dexter really hated he had sold her and recently purchased her back.

In Comes Clemmy. A 75% Miniature Jersey heifer from a farm we've loved for years: T Cupp's Family Farm. She arrives tomorrow. The future family cow for Lucas Farm. If Ellie takes, that is great, as Clemmy is young and will not be bred for quite a while, but looking to the future.  . .and our love of Butter. . .

There will be Clemmy. We will see if she breaks the wild and sassy cow curse.

Who thinks that is likely?

I've heard cows act like their owners.

It rests on you, Clemmy.





Wednesday, October 7, 2015

If I Never Farm Another Day: What 'Sometimes' Farming has Given Me. . .



If I Never Farm Another Day: What 'Sometimes'

 Farming has Given Me. . . 


(Click here for the Facebook Share Link)

(Pictured after helping a friend when a vet couldn't make it out around 2am during a pig farrowing gone very bad)





If I Never Farm Another Day: What 'Sometimes' Farming has Given Me. . . 

Maybe I am A 'Sometimes' Farmer, frankly.

I love a fancy heeled shoe, flash and traveling around for food I didn't prepare.

For six long and short years, I have dreaded drought and snow. I have carried milk up and down my little mountain in both - 9 and 102 degree weather. I have said goodbye to cows and goats I've loved. I've raised and cared for what fed my sons. I've felt forlorn, like a massive failure. I've struggled with being a 20 year vegetarian and raising animals for meat and dairy. I've laid that struggle to rest. I've researched, used trial and error and learned how to do better. I've wondered if it is worth it many times. I've pondered if pushing this degree of work on a husband that works off the farm and taking this much time up that could be spent running my boys around to parks and lessons or play dates instead is selfish, ludicrous, even.

I've heard from folks that cannot understand the reasons to keep dairy goats, chickens, meat rabbits and cattle when we do not have to do this. It isn't as if we raise enough to make "life off the land," after all.

That is true enough.

We do not depend on farming to earn an income, to support us economically. We work to allow us to farm, and while we often break even in monetary investment or make a couple bucks now and again, we have never attempted to survive solely working off the land.

On 23 Acres of hillside placed in the Appalachian Mountains, sustainability from this place would prove improbable, but in so many ways, it has sustained us in mind and body, though not through primary sustenance.

Oh, to be sure, it has provided a purpose beyond all I could have imagined.

It is fashionable to try one's hand at the land these days. It seems every twenty years or so, based on my reading of archaic Mother Earth Magazine volumes, a generation of younger folk give the homestead life a try. Few turn their attempts into an occupation, yet I venture to say, far fewer leave the life without deep lessons that stay with them forever.

I admit I've struggled with being a farmer or homesteader when so much of what I do and enjoy is still so conventional.

Then I realized what I've learned seems of no less importance. . .despite my "sometimes" farming. . . .

and I believe if I never "Sometimes" farmed another day in my life, the lessons I've learned are the most priceless of my lifetime and will endure long past my body's ability to play "Sometimes FarmHER."

1. Fortitude

Even a year of raising livestock or growing vegetables will change a person's version of sticking "with it." Nothing except parenting could rise to the level of commitment raising a garden that flourishes, milking a cow through winter or hauling the first home grown steer to be processed requires. You dig in your heels, you refuse to give up and it begins to carry over in all areas of your life outside of the land.

2. Hope

If you tend to seeing a glass half empty, you will find yourself revolutionized while delving into your farm. You will not last 3 months if you can't dig up hope somewhere. Over and over and over again. You will hope that cow took when you hauled her 2 hours to a bull after chasing her around your property before finally coaxing her into that trailer, hope the rain comes for your heirloom corn's sake doesn't wither and for your children when they lament ever having a farm and when you hope your dairy goats do not give you another buck kid crop of 20 or more. You find hope all over the place, in the most unlikely spots, and you will become a person able to cling to the smallest shred of optimism when no one except a farmer could see the glimmer.

3. Sadness

I've laid in a stall with a dairy doe I loved greatly waiting for a vet we called too late in January when my hands turned blue, but I was too lost in grief to realize it. I've ran out to aid pig farmers when a sow couldn't farrow only to see the sow and most of the piglets lost at 4am. Little will render you broke and broken in shorter order than a farm venture. You will face that moment your first pig or calf, loved and made into a pet, is old enough be part of circle of feeding your family and finally realize what farming costs. You will wonder how you will make ends meet now and again when winter approaches and hay stores are low or a hay season ran too short. You will watch a cow carry a calf for 9 months only to slip the calf and need to wait another year to see offspring from her. Loss comes in waves, and you stop and consider how you can ever get past it all, and through tears, you do.

4. Perspective

I know what it takes to produce food, so I really know what food should cost. I know good food verses poor quality food. I take little for granted. My children learned the facts of life the old fashioned way. They know food comes at great cost, that no matter where we it comes from, labor and life went into the making. I have learned all the ways food arrives to us: the ethical way, the ideal but unattainable way and the cruel way. I work incredibly hard to make sure some of what we have is from our own hands, land and kindly produced, even though I do not have to do so. When you do not count on your farm to produce your sole income, you know at any moment, you can give it all up. You stay thankful for the milk machine your grandmother wouldn't have had when milking a cow giving 8 gallons of milk a day, too. You work even when your regular job is done to avoid the fast, cheap and easy lifestyle American has become known for all around the world. You want to be faced with giving up only to opt to keep on because the rewards for the soul are still too valuable to miss.

5. Skill

I know how much land it takes to give quality care to cattle, goats and poultry. I know how much water growing and raising livestock consumes. I know how hard a garden is to maintain. In so many ways, few of us know how to do anything useful when removed from land. Removed from electronics, a car and a grocery store, we have no idea how to do much of anything. I know what has to go into soap to make it lather. I can AI a goat and give IM/IV and SQ injections to animals 10 times my size. I understand how vital moderation in medication, vaccinations and antibiotics are across the board. I see the power of selective breeding, survival of the fittest and how we have ruined so much by making a soft environment. We lack the most basic skills. I discovered what children will do, even in a modern home of video games, phones and apps when you turn them out on 20 acres to be just boys. . .they learn to build forts, to ride ponies, to milk goats. They know when to yell, "Mom, Dutchie is in heat. Time to bring out a buck," and they know when to note a horse is off feed and needs a second look to make sure all is well. We can pull calves, piglets and goats when labor is amiss I know what minerals the soil lacks in my area. I can milk goats and a cow for an hour straight without breaking a sweat, and I can turn that milk into butter, cheese and yogurt. A short time with livestock and growing your food will give you more useful skills than you would find in an entire modern life lived without this connection.

6. Community

Prior to farming, I had no real sense of community, not in a positive light. But a year into farming, I saw how people on a similar walk in life came together, lent / loaned / labored to help another in a way I figured had died out a century ago. If you need a pressure washer, a bull, tractor and an arm smaller than your own to pull out piglets, your local farmer has that for you. In the Snow. At 4am. Twice.

7. Connection

Taking the land or animal lives for granted ever again is not likely. You look at the ground with a new consideration. You think about your impact. The impact of others and mull this over everywhere you go. At night. In bed, You think about how the Livestock Guard Dog works to earn his keep, you think about how the dairy goat produces 8 lbs of milk a day to earn hers. You see this huge portrait where everyone gives their part to make the place run, and it is gives a whole new respect for everything that grows, be that children, hay or goat kids. Your kids talk constantly about how eggs end up on their plate and what it means to not waste sausage when it is served.

8. Strength

You're strong. . .I'm talking a strength that comes from inside and outside. It isn't the type we gain from 45 minutes a day in a Gym we pay a membership fee to, it is not the kind to sculpt a body for visual appeal; true enough. It is the kind that makes the body a functional, strong machine that can carry 100lb bags of feed up a mountain in the snow when you only weigh 138lbs yourself. The type of strong that lets you swing 75b hay bales up on a trailer 100 times while working on your natural "tan." I'm also talking about emotional strength. The small stuff suddenly is just that: Small. You are too busy with things worth your while to worry about the nonsense that creates personal drama, thankfully. And if the drama makes it to you, your response is usually going to be: "Meh, whatever. I have goats to milk." You realize what makes the world go round isn't snarky nonsense or failing to have a clean floor or even clean children. You are better able to deal with real crisis, think fast and ignore the nonsense.

9. Family

Without farming, I'd still have a really great spouse and good kids, but with our 'sometimes' farm, life is such a team effort where skills and experiences will last a lifetime and apply across the board, it takes everything a step further. I need my oldest to feed the goat kids while I milk. I need the little ones to gather eggs because I forget. I depend on them to see the things I miss, a chicken who limps, a goat gone wandering to the neighbors or whatever else that I fail to note. They know that the heavy responsibilities here mean time is short and of great value. We have learned life isn't about just Us, by a long shot. We are conscientious caregivers, and we are Thankful all of the time.

In a world where so little is real, where almost no work is required and the spirit is left void and wanting. . . even producing or nurturing one thing that, in turn, feeds you or otherwise nourishes you is of more value than I ever expected those 6 years ago when I began a 'Sometimes' farm that requires work all of the time.

The idea of walking away leaves me feeling blank and desolate, even though there isn't a lot of tangible reason as to why.

But one day, if I find myself without cows, chickens and goats in my yard, the lessons I've learned, the values and skills my children will have, will always make every single moment worth it. I've finally become very sure.



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The centuries old way to keep your livestock safe: LGDs

Livestock Guard Dogs

The centuries old way to keep your livestock safe.

For thousands of years, herdsman and farmers have used "White Livestock guard dogs" through out Asia and Europe.

Popular since the 1970's in America, once they caught on, any homesteader or farmer will tell you, they solidified their place with us quickly.

The top breeds used on large working farms with real predatory threats based on survey are:

Great Pyrenees
Komondor
Akbash
Anatolian
and
Maremma

These breeds are effective against stray dogs, black bears, cougars and coyotes. Their size, usually being under 120 lbs,  and disposition make them ineffective against very large predators like wolves and Grizzly.

(I'll be the first to tell you I've found all sorts of dogs willing, by chance, to guard sometimes, but there is a reason these breeds are used by the major ranchers in the USA, and that is because they are what works when push comes to shove and you depend on the animals to survive to feed your family)

Nearly 1,000 dogs were reported on this study from the 80's.  Mixed breeds make up less than 5% of LGDs. Two other breeds mentioned are the Shar and Kuvas, and the Maremma may not have enough numbers in the study to show a good portrait of this breed.

Livestock Guard dogs work by instinct. You have to expose them, but with very little effort, they generally will work unless you are working with a cross or an aged animal that has never encountered livestock. Also, you always have an aberration within anything.

In the studies I've read, one compares the effectiveness of have an LGD to having no protector with the herd.  126 Colorando ranchers/farmers reported nearly $1,000,000 less in economic Losses between using Livestock Guard dogs or not in ONE year. Those surveyed reported being strongly happy with the work of their dogs.

Ranchers and Farmers report 93% fewer lives lost, as a whole, with the use of Livestock Guard dogs, and when compared to donkeys and llamas, dogs prove more effective guards and are used far more widely, as a result.

Which breed, then?

Great Pyrenees are the most common by a significant number. They are, as a result, likely to have less consideration given to breeding quality because they are so common and so many folks breed them, but that said:

I've owned 3 different Pyrs from different walks of rescue life, from age 6 months to 6 years when they arrived here. They all were non-aggressive with friendly dogs and friendly with people. They are child safe, and they are roam. They guard mostly by bark and presence verses attacking. They were effective overall.

Pyrs are the least aggressive of all LGD breeds. They roam more and stick with the animal less. They are far and away the least apt to harm/kill the flock of sheep or goat herd (poultry isn't listed in any study, and many friends report their LGDs kill poultry no matter their age. Mine never have, but remember, their history is NOT with poultry - they are guards of cattle, sheep and goats historically). They are the least apt to bite people. They are ranked as the lowest in liability, by far, though they stay with the flock less than many others, as they guard by roaming and paroling. They are ranked as very aggressive to predators, with the exception of other dogs. They are far less aggressive than the other breeds with other dogs, which is benefit if you have other farm or inside dogs. A downfall is if your need of a guard comes from a friendly neighborhood dog who likes to come kill your goats.

The details of the Komondor, Akbash, Anatolian and
Maremma are in the chart attached.

In closing. . .if you are dealing with Grizzly and Wolves, these breeds above aren't effective.

Great Pyrenees, Komondor, Akbash and other more common breeds “are no match for these larger predators.” Farms and Ranches dealing with these predators are importing much larger, more assertive dogs like Kangal, Karakachan, and Cão de Gado Transmontano at great expense. They are more "bold," more expensive and much larger (150lbs).  These dogs do prove effective according to the USDA and farmer reports.

http://www.bendbulletin.com/home/2194593-151/euro-dogs-to-be-tested-vs-oregon-wolves

 http://www.agri-pulse.com/Got-wolves-USDA-brings-on-the-big-dogs-03122014.asp

https://www.aphis.usda.gov/publications/wildlife_damage/content/printable_version/fs_livestock_protection.pdf

1988 Journal of Range Management, Sheep & Goat Research Journal, Volume 19, 2004 and my own experience as a farmer and rescuer




Friday, October 2, 2015

Say What? "He has done his job, and it is time for him to go."



"He has done his job, and it is time for him to go."
I just read this sentence in an ad for a stunted, pitiful looking Nigerian Dwarf cross buck in this area in a facebook page.
In the photos, he is wet to the bone with horns, thin and not well grown by any means.
Done his job and needs to go. . .
What is really says is more like, "I bred a mixed buck that should have been a wether to some does that really should have been pets. . .I didn't know what I was looking for because I didn't want to spent money and take time to become an educated dairy goat breeder, and I am breeding for goat kids that will have no particular quality. I will sell them in the same careless well to people likely of no more concern than I am about this buck I need rid of today."
To the poor little buck in the photo. . .
I am very sorry, little fellow. You do not deserve that treatment. You will not deserve what is in store for you.
There is little chance a poorly bred, poorly raised unregistered horned buck will ever find a decent farm home. If they do, they will continue to beget offspring that will face similar questionable fates.
The point of all this is to say We are responsible for our actions.
Livestock serve amazing purposes on farms. Functional purposes. We should be breeding animals we know to be quality, functional and making sure we do not look at them as disposable goods.
A good breeding program values their male breeding animals. If you're using a buck of worth, the last thing you will do is discard him so callously.
Please stop and think before you randomly pick up livestock to breed, sell and trade.
Seriously folks, they are beings. They deserve excellent care.

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LUCAS FARM

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