Saturday, April 30, 2016

Child Protection: Who are We Kidding?

I am so tired of our worthless, worthless system.

It fails every single time.

I hate it. 

Our Child Protection System is an abomination. It works to save the parents and destroys children over and over.

And you know what? Do not tell me about being pro life when you aren't actively working to save the children in these situations. 

I do not want to hear you. Be quiet.

I am tired of it. I am for life, and I want to see children being tortured here day in and out saved first. 

I spent a year as CASA. I gave up. I quit because this state REFUSES TO protect children. REFUSES. 

Do not be fooled. 

Children are destroyed and abused and mutilated, and the worthless states in America do nothing.

I know better than to believe "these things happen" and the authorities aren't aware. I have called. I have reported. I have begged for help for children, and they ignore it. The state police, the DHHR and the Child Abuse hotline.


In West Virginia and in Texas and everywhere beyond and in between.

Frankly, until we can do better than this, I do not want to hear about terrorism, abortion, welfare, our borders, drug addiction or the economy. 

Shut up.

Fix this. Then talk about something else.

Friday, April 29, 2016

The Hardest Part of Farming May be Accountability: What We Lack most in America

We are not raised to be accountable people often enough these days.

Heck, If you're reading this and under 60, you likely have felt at least some degree
of what I am talking about here.

We have a society that has long said, "Don't worry, someone will save you if things go too far."

Someone will be there, some program, some assistance, somebody will help and turn it all around with you, for you, beside you. For you. Instead of you.

We do it for our children, we do it for friends or family guilty of some minor to grave poor decision, and we expect it to be done for us, too.

We teach things like, "It isn't your fault," or "You did the best you could," or "Something in your past makes this behavior acceptable," and so I look around, and I see too few people broken over their poor choices.

I see too few people able to accept consequences when someone doesn't save the day for them. They cannot acknowledge a poor choice or even that fate dealt them a bad blow. They cannot take a mess and try to make it into something worthwhile in the aftermath. This is probably why addiction has encompassed our nation.

What does this have to do with farming, I suppose you will now ask?

I have found there is little else in America take makes you face your choices like farming.

It overwhelms you with the by-product of what you have done in the most harsh of ways (and in the most rewarding of ways, as well, to be fair), and it is very difficult to wiggle around your responsibility, your accountability. For better, for worse. It is on you.

To get to the point, for instance. . .

I have learned many things about animal husbandry over my lifetime.
Most things were learned at the cost of an animal's life. I'll be frank.

Because I did something horribly wrong, a creature dies, and I learn a lesson. I do not do it again, and I try to use it to teach others to do better, but I do not forget at what cost the lesson came to me.

I try not to beat myself up over what I didn't know if I made the effort to learn and somehow missed it, but I remain heartbroken over these things just the same. And I learn a lesson.

But what has happened here over the last week is not a case of I did not know.

I did know, and I did the wrong things over and over.

Goats are tremendously fragile and complex. They aren't for the faint of heart. They make you tougher because they need you to be that for them because that is the last thing they ever are, I guess.

Man has taken animals from another continent, selectively breed unnatural traits into them for a few hundreds years, and we try to make them thrive here in America. And they can, if you give the proper care. I've seen it. I've thought many times over the last 6 years I had my management under reasonable control and had enough knowledge, how this herd not only survives, but they thrive.

And I've let that sense of accomplishment get me carried away and take too many risks. I look out and think how grand they all look, and so I stopped being diligent in some areas. I've been lazy.

Accountability and farming. You can't get away from it.

And so, knowing the great risks of enterotoxemia from Clostridium perfringens, I still hadn't vaccinated everyone here with their CD/T. I just did not do it. No better reason.

Beyond that, taking it a step much further, I decided to change our grain ration, and instead of making the change slowly, I changed it overnight. Not once. Several times. Too quick. I know better.

Let us take it further and tell you I didn't even have the antitoxin vaccine on hand to treat in case of an emergency, knowing no vets carry it and it can only be ordered here.

Not one mistake. 3 huge mistakes.

So I set this lovely herd of animals I care so much for up for a gruesome, devastating illness. Because I have been fortunate to have goats for 8 years without encountering this one thing personally, I just decided to ignore the chances, I guess. I do not know what else to say.

 And day by day, another of my herd has come up with signs of the illness: Enterotoxemia.

We have lost one beautiful doe, Glory, 2 nights ago, when the illness went beyond the scope of what I could treat, and she died laying in my lap screaming because we could not even put her down humanely quick enough before she passed. It became clear she would never pull through too fast for me to do anything else but talk to her and apologize and know I caused this horrible fate. She cannot be replaced. Not only because they are all unique to me, but also because, from a farming standpoint, there is no way to replace her genetics or what she might have done for the herd.

Just so you know, if you see it, what you're dealing with:

I can only hope we will save the others. I am trying. Some are out of the woods. For one it is Too late. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That is no joke.

I go up and another has scours, and I can only sit there in the barn and feel hopeless. Unqualified and cruel.

How many injections can you give?
How many medications in an effort to clean up your own mess?

Sure, I have what I need now. I'm doing what I need to do now. But it is too late for my lovely blue roan 2 year old doe. It may be too late for my beloved 6 year old Saanen doe, Bianca. It may be too late for the buck I had brought all the way from Missouri to recover genetics of mine from a few years before that meant a lot to me. I hope not.

 I think we are in time to save the rest. I don't know if others will surface tonight with the symptoms, and I have few ideas how I can stand it if that happens.

So let me tell you one thing, if you lack accountability, give farming a try.

I suspect you will learn all you ever wanted and did not want to know about stark reactions to your choices and having no way around facing what you've done when you bury something you've hand raised that depending on you to do better. And you did not do better at great cost.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Non-Traditional Dairy cows and goats: How You Can Make Dairy Work For you

If you have been on the Lucas Farm page long or attend one of my dairy talks, you know that I generally discourage traditional dairy for most homesteaders and farmers.

It isn't that I hope most folks will fail or find dairy animals not especially usefulness, it is that the majority of folks do fail when they start down the dairy path.

Once loved animals find themselves neglected, prices low on craigslist or at auction and people are disillusioned. Folks fail. The Livestock suffer. I hate to see those things happen.

I think this is often because too many people approach dairy with a very non traditional mindset but decide on traditional animals.

This means failure, usually.

Dairy animals are such amazing additions to a farm when they receive the right care and the farmer knows what to expect. The returns are valuable. 

So, this blog is about non-traditional animals for your dairy purposes.

In short, look for the low producers, the non commercial breeds. The hardy animals that make just enough over what their young need.

This usually means crosses and cows instead of goats.

(My friend's Lowline / Jersey / Dexter cross: Molly)

Goats are higher maintenance, as a rule, though easier to house on less land and easier to handle. 

If you decide to go with cows, opt for a cow that has been intensively handled and milked through a few lactations successfully. Buy a halter broke cow and pay the good price that will be asked for a nice, healthy cow a family has loved well and cannot keep. 

Make sure she is a dual purpose cow. Bred back before you buy her. Milk her before you buy her. She will probably be an Angus / Dairy cross, a Dexter or Dexter / Lowline dairy cross or a Shorthorn / Dexter type cross. This will require searching but be worth it. These cows will be hardy with the typical hybrid vigor you see when you cross purebred animals. They will produce as grass and forage better than their purebred dairy counterparts. They should need little grain, if any, so long as the forage is good. They will have less milk fever, less mastitis and if you want to leave the calf on and milk once a day or just when the cow is at peak lactation, it can work (though I see no reason to have a dairy animal if you plan to only milk 3 days a week for 2 months, seriously). These animals will dry up at 7-8 month easier than a commercial breed that will struggle or prove impossible to dry up early to unable to regulate their production below 6 plus gallons a day. Make sure you confirm the animal is disease free, regardless.

When you have the cow home and she calves, leave the calf on and milk at the same time each morning or evening. Once a day can work with a low producer. A low production cow giving 4 gallons or less a day will not give so much you cannot do this. You can milk once a day and by the time the calf is 5 months old, the calf will drink so much, you could stop milking until the calf is sold, if you want. If you enjoy it and see the milk is valuable to you, you can separate the calf overnight and milk before letting the calf back out to take care of evening milking for you. They will carry on and there is learning curve with this, but it can be done. You may get 1-2 gallons a day this way. Minerals, excellent hay and timothy/alfalfa pellets while milking and worming when needed are all you may need, if all goes well.

If you feel a dairy goat is the only choice for you and you know you need a non-traditional dairy situation, plan to purchase from a herd that you have visited and found to be thrifty and hardy. No goat is especially hardy when compared to cows, but there are certainly lines that are more hardy than others. All goats in milk will need grain. All goats will have parasite problems that will require more work than cows, All goats have a higher mineral need than cows. That said, Alpines and Saanens or a cross of these two breeds from several generations of working homesteader type lines with a focus on strong conformation and hardiness will prove easier to care for. Again, not easy to find, but you can find them. Buy registered (remember crosses from registered parents can be registered, as well), bottle raised, friendly adult does that are healthy and already trained to hop on the milk stand. Milk before you buy. Try the milk. Make sure who you buy from will be a mentor to you and that their management matches what you're looking for.  Make sure you have CAE testing in hand before you buy.

Buy two does or a doe and an unrelated doe kid. Plan to take the does back to the breeder to be bred (this takes close watching to know when they cycle in the fall). If you buy a cross, you get higher milk production and hardier animals initially. Your buck kids will be able to be wethers for meat you raise on your farm, bu they will not be able to be sold as herdsires. Plan to keep numbers low to make management easier. Your doe kids, with creative marketing and good handling and cocci prevention, will be able to be registered as experimentals and sold to other homesteaders looking for what you were looking for. 2 does means 1-3 kids each year. Plan for that and raising them until at least 12 weeks before sale if not on the bottle or 8 plus months of age for meat production. 

Remember, a doe with 2 kids on her will produce an average of 6-10 lbs a day. A kid needs 1/2 a gallon, so 3/4 or almost 1/2 of that will go to each kid for at least 4 months. The alternative is to bottle raise kids from birth (what I suggest), making them more marketable and friendly, feeding them whole cow's milk from the store, and you use the goat's milk. Kids grow well on whole cow's milk. You can offer the doe kids for sale on the bottle to experienced buyers right off the bat, and the buck kids will be humanely raised for meat wethers on site. You can leave the kids on, instead, but they are generally far less handle-able and less marketable when does. You will not milk while the kids are on unless the doe has a single kid (them milk the side the single doesn't nurse 2x a day). If you leave kids on, most does should produce milk for 10 months. That is what they are bred to do with many generations, so once you pull the kids off at 4 months and start milking, you can expect to milk for at least 6 months before drying off.

You dry the cows or goats off 2 months before they kid or calve, regardless of whatever non-traditional deal you set up.

I have seen all sorts of variations. I have seen many schemes fail. I do a fairly traditional set up here. 

The worst thing we can do is buy traditional animals with 150 years of dairy genetics behind them and try to bend them to a non-traditional schedule, so try to chose the RIGHT animal if you know 2 times a day milking and hands on training and care through the year and milking through 10 months out of 12 will not work for you.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Concerning the Raw Milk Herdshare Bill and its Worth:

Brenda Schoepp penned a very apt quote years ago. She said her “grandfather used to say that once in your life you need a doctor, a lawyer, a policeman and a preacher,  but every day, three times a day, you need a farmer,” yet in this society, especially lately in West Virginia, the value and worth of the farmer has been ridiculed to the most shameful level.

The representatives who fought for a viable economic option for small dairy farmers in this state to be able to give citizens options for local, fresh milk have been made to feel their priorities were misguided, and farmers have been made to feel their value and viability has no merit,  thanks to the media of late.

When did those producing local, real food in a traditional way become less important than teachers, police officers and nurses? Why does legislation concerning their way of life mean so little? What does that say about our standards?

The so called “Food Freedom Fight” is a movement spearheaded by small farmers nationwide.
 It is one of many movements birthed out of too many years of silence on the end of too many Americans.

We have lost liberty after liberty with almost no protest. We have let the Government decide what and how we eat, where our food comes from and how it is cooked before it makes it to us. We have let small farmers be bankrupted in favor of mass produced, lower quality factory farming and haven’t looked back.

Small American farmers have been terrorized for a decade across this country by the FDA and state law enforcement for simply selling real milk to informed Americans who desire to use it. All the while, our wildly out of control government is demanding our food go through a middle man in order to assure mass profit to huge corporations.
 Our most basic freedoms are eroded more and more each day. We sit back and talk and grumble. Some find themselves too disillusioned to even care anymore.

 But when consuming a traditional food becomes a hot bed for Civil Disobedience, We should be gravely concerned. When fighting to restore small farmers and food access at the local level is considered worthless by our media, we should be alarmed about the direction we are going.

When one says small West Virginian Farmers’ Survival does not matter, one needs to also accept that it will hardly be long before the same tyranny which robbed that Farmer of his survival is going to be knocking at your door.

Take a moment to send your thoughts to the local media at these email addresses:;;;



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