Monday, December 26, 2016

Memories: So much more than a cake. . .

My Daddy's Sister, Peep, has been a concrete part of my entire life.
She worked with him for every day of Lucas Grocery's existence, which was over 50 years of toiling on cement without heat or air in a cinder-block building that held a value beyond what money could cover to thousands of people in Lincoln, Logan and far beyond.
She was known for her love a taking photos with the good looking fellows who passed through the store and for an amazing bologna sandwich made for those who knew to ask or took her up on the offer of one, if they were lucky enough to be liked.
She took care of my Daddy when he could no longer get around on his 2 canes, walk anymore and kept the store open day in and out until he died. When he was buried, she locked the doors and so it was over. . .a time in her life which spanned over 1/2 a century.
She is the last of the 12 brothers and sister left, and she is almost 90 years old. She was the youngest, Daddy was the youngest son that lived past infancy.
I suppose I know where my great love for my siblings comes from when I think of her dedication to Daddy. It went so far beyond what most could ever offer. . she is proud of being there for him.
When I stopped to see her on Christmas eve, it was the first time no one was there. She hasn't been well. That is a first, too. She gave her kids all a ham, the gifts early and was just not up to a big to do this year.
My middle son asked about her amazing (and it really is amazing) "whatever day" cake she always makes, but there was none to be had. I told her we'd come back up sometime to have it because she was sad she hadn't made one when he had looked forward to it.
When we left, My mom and sister stopped in. Peep insisted they wait while she put a cake together for Jack to have for Christmas.
We had no idea, and Jack was thrilled when my mom arrived with it. I was thrilled to have that old glass pan so many of these "whatever day" cakes have been made in. I know that pan. I know that label, and I probably will never return it. . .
That is a memory right there of so much more than a pudding and graham cracker cake. So much more than a cake.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

"So long, I can't remember when. . ."

"So long, I can't remember when. . ."
But actually, I still can. Faintly. I think maybe it would be easier to forget.
Eventually, I will, regardless.
There was a time when Christmas brought only amazing moments, feelings. The day, the season, it all meant spending it with so many people I held terribly dear, so many pictures taken, so many conversations. . .a lot of food that wasn't usually edible (since few knew how to cook a thing), far too many gifts and various silly and amazing traditions that we had worked hard to create.
The story of the Land of Nog. The visit from the shaving cream Santa, The innovative Christmas Pageant at Aunt Ruth's I created when I was about 7 years old, Stump's Ham and then Scott's Ham Chips, Giving Papaw some lewd gift in a Kwanzaa Bag, Daddy handing out Christmas shopping money in bank envelopes just in time, not a one of us being morning people able to wake up to open a thing before noon. . .the red jello Bow handed down for years and years. The love of shiny paper. Everyone trying to hide one gift in order to have the "LAST!" (I always won. Still do). How much those nostalgic pieces of life meant to them, to me, and how little they can ever  mean to anyone else. . .
. . .Never thinking of a time we would go off to have Christmas in another way. Always the same. Unwilling to change it up for any reason.
This year I remember ten years ago. The last time.
It was the last time Christmas could ever hold that much joy and tradition. It was the last time we could rest in the anticipation of all it had meant before to us.
It was the last time it held no one ounce of sadness.
I had no one to miss this day. I had everyone, and in fact, they had me.
Holidays hold sadness for many people. I know. I am so very glad to be able to still hold onto a time where mine held not one thing but happiness in such a raw way.
As years pass, it is harder to remember. I can talk about many things, but feeling those things are quite another matter. That starts to become impossible year after year. You look at pictures but don't recall all the details.
10 years ago, this was what Christmas meant, though, and it was magic.
You never have a promise of anything tomorrow. You have moments. Memories. Pictures. You must appreciate them now.
There was no way to know how many people I treasured beyond understanding would not be there the next Christmas on this day ten years ago.
There was no way to know in just a short span of time, more would be gone than left here with me, and suddenly, remembering the gift God gave us with our Savior's birth is celebrated more with souls I hadn't even met (some who were yet to be born or even imagined) or barely knew back then. . .
And I find you can rebuild and find some joy, and there is that saying. . .something about never being able to give without great loss, never being able to be thankful until you've been without that which you longed for, never being able to know great joy until you've known great sadness, and so it is for me a decade later, as I can tell you, I've known as deep an anguish as could be, but I'd be remiss to not tell you I've known and know tremendous, immeasurable love.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

An Appalachian Widow and 9 Children, Circa 1929

An Appalachian Widow and 9 Children, Circa 1929
(as best recounted from childhood memories and history)

On a hillside in the heart of Appalachia near the end of March in 1929, I imagine it was still bitterly cold. Perhaps days were getting warmer, but the landscape would have been stark. The trees barren, the sky grey and the hills brown. I've seen enough winter here to know that much.
No doubt within the little dwellings scattered in the hills, the homesteading families were looking forward to spring. It would have been, after all, just around the corner. Life should have been looking up. The worst of winter would have been behind them, hopefully.
The sun would be coming out, the ground warming soon.
But around this time in Lincoln county, West Virginia, on top of what would become known as 14-Mile Mountain, a tired, middle-aged woman opened the front door of her one room cabin to meet two men holding her husband's severed body. The men claimed they has found him on the nearby railroad tracks. One of his youngest sons looked around to see his daddy's figure, and he recalled believing his father was still alive eighty years later to the daughter of his old age.
They buried the man in ground that would have still been hard, frozen, impossible to manage. And the woman never remarried.
He left behind 9 children, as one had already passed in infancy. Their youngest, eventually to be called "Peep" was only 9 days old at the time. He left not only many children, but his invalid, blind mother, as well.
The woman would tell her sons and a daughters in the years to follow, "Some people are born to a death," and so her husband had been, she was sure.
He knew it was coming for him, else why had he sat on their corn husk bed a short time before and warned her that should he die, she must not give their children away. This man, Win, she called him, was sometimes rumored to be a moonshiner. In his past, he had written poetry found in a national periodical. He has been a gambler. And he sat with her and made her promise unless they were starving, she would keep all of their children in their home; she would not give them away to grow up apart from one another.
I suppose it sounds like a man who knew his life was in danger, a man sure he would not be around long. A fellow who must have loved his bedraggled family a great deal. Whatever he feared was coming failed to be so powerful he could forget his desire that his children never be parceled out like used, unwanted belongings, regardless of what strain this would put his wife under.
So this woman of a serious nature and tremendous grit honored her promise to the man who had posed in photos with girlfriends before they were married and enjoyed life, as well as a good joke.
As soon as he was buried, people began to show up at the door, for women without husbands did not keep 9 children alone in the mountains of West Virginia in 1929. They told her she must let some of them go.
They knocked day in and day out, offering to take this one and that one. Offering to take them in pairs or singles. It was just what was done. Children didn't mean then what they do now. Old and young. Folks would take them to work on their homesteads, in lieu of children they couldn't bear or for any reason one might imagine. She could not keep all nine of her children, and that was that. The well meaning folks said she would never be able to feed them all. They would starve. She had no man to hunt, to work, to plant, to harvest. She was alone.
I imagine had the lady relented and let them go, the young would have went first. The little six year old boy probably would have grown up working like an indentured servant, not a favored young boy to his mother. How one decision could have changed so much reaching even into today.
Over and over she recounted what she promised her man, instead. No. She would not give their children away. Not unless they were starving would she separate them.
She became a washer woman. She spent her days walking far away to wash for other people, and the little boy who peered around to see his daddy's body ran into the hills to cry for her to come home morning after morning for he loved her most of all. And she loved him most of all, as well. He would often talk about hunting every day for squirrels with his slingshot during this time while she was away to help make sure they had something to eat.
4 years later, My Daddy would go to work logging at ten years old where he made a penny a day. He said, "The good Lord never spoke about retirement," and he continued to work until his body quit. Long after I came along when he was nearly sixty, as a matter of fact.
My grandmother, born in 1890 and dying in 1961, never gave away any of her children. They did not starve, though some of the younger children perished to what was called the "Bloody flux" back then. My daddy was nearly one of those.
When they drafted him during World War II, this stoic woman wrote to tell them they had sent all of her other sons overseas, and that they must not send her youngest boy.
When she died, Daddy had made a great deal of money. He buried his mother in a solid copper coffin. With honor. She was laid beside her roving man, Win, who, after her death, Daddy learned had been murdered for $20 by the very men who brought his body to his mother's door in March of 1929. Of course, Daddy was too much like his mother to talk about what he learned. Peep, who was 9 days old back then, recounted it many years after Daddy had died to me one day.
Least I forget, I put it all down. I didn't come along until 1982. I will never know much about my Daddy. I know far less about the grandparents who lived lives of hardship I cannot ever grasp and were gone lifetimes before I was born.
All we really have are memories in the end, though. And as time goes, all we will be are memories for someone else to carry; at least we hope we are carried.
As a day ends, everything we have at that point becomes handfuls of stories and recollections. I think we must hold tightly to them for they are really all we have when the sun sets.

Monday, December 12, 2016

A Word of Caution on Livestock Guard Dogs

This is worth reading as a word of caution about Livestock guard dogs. While I have known many a wonderful Anatolian, the bite rate is notably higher when compared to Great Pyrenees. This is due, in part, we assume to the fact Pyrs guard by bark and presence more than by attack (again, this is generally).
In areas with Wolves, Bear and Mountain Lions, Pyrs are not usually aggressive enough to defend livestock, and frankly, Anatolians aren't sizable and aggressive enough, either.
That all said, be careful when working with protection dogs. They take their jobs seriously. Children should never be the ones handling livestock these dogs take to be "theirs" to protect, and be wary if a dog begins to treat the animals too much like their own.
At the end of the day, you can never be too trusting with guard animals, bulls, horses and so forth. They are animals, and instincts are beyond the scope of what man can train out completely.

Below are the details of what happened to us yesterday here at Alderman Farms. The accompanying photos were taken...
Posted by Tommy Alderman on Saturday, December 10, 2016

Friday, December 9, 2016

The cost to feed dairy Livestock: Are you prepared?

The cost to feed a Dairy Animals: Are you prepared
The average new farmer has no idea what they are in for when they bring home some dairy goats or, even worse, a dairy cow.
Listen, folks. . .they aren't cheap to maintain. Period.
The amount of water, hay and (usually) grain they consume will blow your mind.
Sadly, people decide what they are willing to feed and do that accordingly, and the animals suffer for lack of education and funding on the owner's part. A lot.
Cows and goats need free choice forage. Black, molded hay kept outside for 2 years ISN'T suitable. Some cracked corn in lieu of grain isn't suitable. Did I mention they all need a loose mineral out free choice that runs $20 to $40 a bag?
Usually, they need access to grain. A lot more than you think they need, with a few exceptions (click the blog, and you see the fawn cow on the left needed 15-20lbs of grain a day to hold even the condition you see there because she gave 6-7 gallons of milk a day; the dark brown cow eats tremendous amount of forage, but she gets no grain).
Know your animals' needs. You can't decide how much you are going to feed them. You have to feed what they need.
Dairy Livestock aren't wildlife. Did you know they do not exist in the wild? They aren't land-race breeds able to thrive without man's husbandry all of the time in play, either.
Nothing like a production dairy goat or cow lives in nature.
The investment in a dairy animal goes on for the life of the animal. I so often see livestock that are simply too thin (even for dairy animals), and the supposed farmers appear to have no idea why. Then we talk, and it is plain to me that they aren't feeding enough because it is "expensive."
Yes, it is.
We feed 3,500lbs of hay a week here on the farm to 2 horses, 2 ponies, 2 cows, 1 calf and the goat herd.
We feed an additional 300lbs of grain weekly, including what we use for the poultry.
It isn't cheap. But the costs reflect a sufficient feeding program. If you aren't able to afford to feed your livestock properly, scale down what you're keeping until you're able to afford the right care.

As a side note: 

MOST dairy cows will need grain unless they are lower production cows with a history of grass fed selectively bred genetics. Virtually all dairy goats MUST have grain. One of the most harmful bits of advice you can receive is you can usually get away without using grain for dairy animals, just feed lots of grass. It is like saying an athelete can do endurance running with a typical American diet. A body builder can compete with a regular diet. No. These animals are hard working, performance creatures. Most will milk their life away without enough calories, and grass simply will not give it to a lot of them.

If it means a lot to you to have milk and not use grain, you need to find a farmer selling cows with a history of not using grain and animals maintaining condition. Grassfed cows are out there, but they aren't typically what you find offered for sale.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Goat Keeping 101 reference

We raise animals as caring way, using medication when needed, and aim for hardy animals; however, we do not raise goats organically. Dairy goats are a man-selectively bred and created type of goat. They do not exist in the wild, so we do not take a hand's off approach in management.

If you're looking to raise a somewhat organic based goat, make sure you buy your breeding stock from folks raising animals the way you aim to raise them in the same climate and area you will raise your herd.
Before you decide on goats, I suggest reading a few blogs I've written.
Goats are Not easy. Actually, of all livestock, they are, by far, the most difficult to raise well.

Our care:
We feel the areas of most importance are GREAT nutrition, proper mineral balance and WELL managed Parasite prevention. If you address these 3 things correctly in YOUR herd, you will have fewer issues. 

We Bottle Raise most kids on Raw milk until 4-6 months old. They receive 60 ounces a day once they are 2 weeks old until weaning. They are not raised with the adults. This makes for friendly, but well grown kids. Dam raised kids, for us, are not friendly enough to be in our herd and are not kids we would want to offer to buyers for a future milking doe or an easy to handle buck.

We never use milk replacer – use ONLY goat's or whole cow's milk when feeding bottle kids - if using raw, make sure it is from a disease free (CAE, Johne's and CL) goat or cow (Johnes, for one). There are other disease, but there are none as prevelant. TEST your herd for CAE. Test for other things based on risk level.

Our Goats free range on our brush covered farm. While they do not like grass, they love tops of weeds, leaves, brush and briars! We feed a 16% Goat Ration. You cannot have a doe in milk and keep a body condition that is healthy without grain. They cannot be grass based as a general rule. This link will give you more information. You need a high protein grain for kids and does in milk, especially. Kids receive a 16% Pellet like Noble Goat. Dry does get minimal grain. Never be skimpy on feed or hay quality. They can't have Moldy, subpar hay. The bucks receive grain year round. This link speaks to buck care, which is more complex than you might think. More grain is fed during rut. We top dress Wethers and bucks grain with Ammonium Chlorida to prevent Urinary stones. Read why here. Remember access to high quality hay 24/7 is important for YOUR WHOLE HERD. Alfalfa is ideal.

Our does keep a body condition score of 3, usually. You can watch this video to learn more about healthy weights in your herd. We let the does have all the grain they wish to eat for about 15 minutes for morning and then the same for evening milking. They get around 4-5lbs of grain a day. This means, at our farm, each gallon of milk produced, including hay costs, runs about $3 per gallon. Time, meds, purchase costs and housing costs not included.

We offer a loose, high quality mineral. We usually use Cargill Right Now Onyx. Your area is probably deficient in copper and/or selenium. Check your soils maps through the AG office. Sheep cannot have copper, so make sure it isn't a mineral labeled for sheep. Goats really need more Selenium and Copper than most soils provide. We give BO-SE for Selenium and Copper Bolusfor copper twice a year. This is very important.

We keep growing kids from age 4-6 weeks until 6 months on a coccidia prevention program (dimethox or Baycox). Untreated, high cocci loads cause internal damage and the goats often never recover totally. Read more here.
We give kids about 3 cups of grain twice a day paired with milk and hay until 6 months, wean from milk at six months and continue on grain and hay. As dry yearlings, they can be on hay only if you are able to feed exceptional hay.

I like to breed does as yearlings, so they freshen at two. It is fine to breed them to kid as yearlings if they are 80-100lbs at breeding. Remember they need to continue to grow through pregnancy. You need to be able to provide enough grain and free choice hay so that the growing kids and also handle a pregnancy. A Helpful Prekidding guide is here.

We only worm as needed based on the Famacha Chart. We use chemical wormers. Herbal wormers haven't been effective in our experience in our area. We use Cydectin Injectable. We find Safeguard is useless. Always repeat ten days after first worming to break the life cycle of the parasite. Please click here for a list of wormers, the doseage and more

We allow our does to free range, but if you keep a large dry lot with good shelter, clean bedding and good fence, this will work, as well. You will need to provide free choice, high quality hay year round. You will generally see fewer parasites on dry lot management feeding off the ground and with clean feed pens, but I like the herd to be able to be out and roam about.

Goats MUST have good shelter from rain and wind. They HATE rain. They need to be able to stay out of mud as one huge issue in dairy goats and all goat breeds is hoof infections / hoof rot.

We disbud all kids born here. You want an experienced person to disbud. Do not assume a vet knows how to do this correctly. Most are done between 3-7 days of age. Do not use a full size calf iron. We apply the iron with light pressure in a rocking motion for 10 seconds on does, 18 on bucks. Disbudding is vital to goats that do not get stuck in fence, fit into a milking stanchion, have a high resale value and do not harm their people or herdmates. Read more here.

We tested for CAE for 3 years straight, and we now test occassionally and by request if very current results are desired. All animals here are tested negative or negative by parentage. We use Biotracking lab. CAE is NOT something you want passing through your does onto your kids. Testing is important. These links tell you much more on testing and then on CAE and what is means and does.

We personally do not test for CL and Johnes because of the difficulty in knowing if the tests are accurate. They give breeders and buyers a false sense of security, but we do allow buyers to test at their expense before purchase (cost isn't especially high). We have taken great pains to purchase from well managed herds and have good bio-security at the farm to minimalize the risks of both diseases, which cannot be managed. Testing Labs are link here. Information on CL is found here.

We do not currently test for G6S, the genetic mutation found in Nubians. The testing is cost prohibitive for our whole herd with some research that makes us feel more questions need answered before we put faith in the testing, but have had buyers test bucks from us, and we have only had normal results. We haven't had an affected kid born here. Read more about it here. Any buyer is welcome to test any kid before a purchase at their cost.

We sell only registered Does and Bucks. We sell only American Saanens or Purebred Nubians or American British Guernseys (once ADGA lets them in the herdbooks). We do not sell perfect animals, as no one does, but we do sell animals that can have the potential to be quality milkers and perform in the show ring. We take part in the ADGA's Linear Appraisal Program when we can. Read more about it here. This gives a score to each doe or buck to let us and the buyers know how each animal officially stacks up to the ideal goat. The perfect goat. It is a great tool to know what you're buying, breeding and where the strong and weak areas in the goat are found. The ideal ranges for scores found on an LA sheet can be looked at here. Understanding all the awards, marks, scores and symbols on a pedigree can be sorted out on this link. Having registered animals gives you a lot of control and knowledge. It isn't just a piece of paper. It lets you know so much about the animal's history, the strong and weak points of the parentage, the milk production possibilities and so much more. Breeding good animals without knowing the history behind them and having anon-partial accoutability with DHIR/LA and more is unlikely.

We milk does twice a day for 8 to 10 months a year. We do not breed every doe every year. Milking the doe is really important. They are dairy goats. Use them for their purpose.

Other issues we have dealt with that you may encounter will be linked to below:

The best Overview on Dairy goat Care from Birth to Kidding
The best extensive guides for goat care online are 8 Pages of Links on Dairy Goat Info's Health Section here and Saanendoah Here
For a Great "Purchase" List, Click here
Another nice overview is Here

How to SUCCESSFULLY raise goats kids on a bottle. Do not USE milk replacer ever. Follow this schedule, and you will have healthy kids

I cannot tell you how many calls and messages I get yearly about dying, bloated or dead goat kids.

My first statement (not even a question) is always, "You were feeding powdered milk replacer, weren't you?"

The answer is always a weak, "Yes, I was."

Sometimes they say the vet told me to, the breeder told me to or that they had used replacer with calves and thought it would be ok.

Listen, goats are so fragile. Yes, you can raise puppies, foals and calves on replacer. But it is so risky to use powered replacer, my FIRM recommendation is to never, ever try it.

This advice has saved many a weak, dying kid.

Feed real (tested free from CAE) goat's milk or WHOLE cow's milk only. No replacers. Pasteurized, store bought is fine.

Bottlefeeding Full size goat kids on my schedule:

First 24 hours
I start offering up to 10 oz of REAL COLOSTRUM to a newborn kid. If they drink it all, wait 4 hours before offering more. If they take 2-4 ounces, I offer milk again in a few hours.  I feed only colostrum the first 12 hours. They must have colostrum from a goat (not a cow).

You can go to Whole Cow's milk thereafter

Day 2-7: They are on about 8-10 ounces 4 times a day

Day 7- 4 weeks:  I do 20 oz 3 times a day

4-8 weeks: 20 oz plus ounces 3 times a day or go to free choice lamb bar feeding

8-12 weeks: 30 oz 2 times a day

If you chose to feed longer (I do)

12-24 weeks - One 30 oz bottle, once a day



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