Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bad Chicky Mama

I messed up with the meaty chicks last night. They have been living in a rubbermaid bin under a grow light in the garage.

Before dinner, I gave them fresh litter, food and water. When I put the waterer back in, I failed to notice that there was a bit of an indentation in the litter where the water had been before. The stinkers piled up in that hole and smothered themselves. I lost 6 chicks. That's 9 down on this batch. I am really disappointed.

Just placed an order for 30 more directly from the hatchery. At least that way, if I lose any in the first 4 days, they'll reimburse me.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Honey Extractor

I was starting to wonder if UPS was going to make it, but they finally arrived with our honey extractor about 7:00 pm.

Look at all that packing paper! It looks like Hurricane Isaac stormed my foyer. Unfortunately, with the rain coming in the next couple days, I may not get to extract this week. Just more time for the bees to make honey, I suppose.

Low on Leche

In a perfect world, I would have all the milk everyone wanted and plenty for us to make yogurt, and cheeses, sour cream and kefir. Unfortunately, nature doesn't always cooperate.

Kat is drying up and is only giving about a pint a day now. Trixie is still a milk machine and Onyx is a first timer, so I can't expect too much from her, but she is holding her own with almost a quart (and that's from just one teat, good girl!). I will have much more milk after they freshen in the spring, but until then, I need to be freezing some milk for my family so I won't have to buy it *shudder*.

My friend Dave and his family came on Saturday and we implanted a CIDR in Kat to have her ready to breed in two weeks. That means kids around February 9!!! Love this handy goat gestation calendar I just found.

We are going to breed Onyx in October and Trixie in November so with a little luck, I'll always have someone milking. You can't milk a goat for the last 2 months of gestation because the kids need the energy to grow. I don't see our supply going up again until spring.

I am very, very sorry that I can't provide for all the families who have come to enjoy our milk. We may increase the herd to 4 goats next year. We are still learning. Thanks for growing with us.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Poor Cloud, Poor Cole

We had a near disaster on the farm overnight. It was nearly 9:00pm last night when we finished dinner. Chase and I went out to lock up the critters by the light of an iPhone app.

Fast forward to this morning when Cole came inside nearly in tears. It seems his little silkie, Cloud, spent the night in the duck pond. She must have fallen in and gotten water-logged. Since it was dark when we locked up, Chase and I didn't notice her.

She was lethargic and shivering. We put her under a heat lamp and dried her feathers with the hairdryer. I'm happy to report that she seems to have made a full recovery! Looks like we have another step we need to add to our evening routine....check the pond for chickens.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Just Ducky

Clyde and Clay enjoyed their fresh water last night. And despite my son's comment, it had only been two days since I'd cleaned it.

Monday, we had to get out the door to a doctor's appointment. I was trying to get my hair dry and makeup on when Chase yelled, "Mom, the meaty birds are out". I looked out the window and sure enough, there was a flock of white chickens on the neighbor's side of the stream.

We rushed outside and followed the birds up to my neighbor's house. All the time I'm thinking the neighbors are going to love having my chickens tearing up their landscaping and pooping on their pool deck!

The birds beelined for their backyard. I had one of the kids go knock on the door in case they were home to explain why we were prowling in the backyard. About this time, I saw that the white birds had black on their wings. Check the picture a couple posts down- ours are all white. Then I saw the coop. We had just gone on a wild chicken chase after our neighbor's chickens!

We made it to our appointment on time, though I got to go with wet hair, and we learned a valuable lesson to go check the pen to make sure our birds are missing first!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Barn Raising

Our barn finally went up last week. It has been so rainy here that the contractors were delayed and kept putting us off. As it is, they worked in the rain one afternoon.

We still need to do a lot of build-out to make it what we want, but at least the goats no longer have to vie for shelter under the lean-to. We are planning to close in one end with a loft for feed, stalls for the goats and an area for milking. It will be really nice not to have to drag them through the rain to the driveway to milk!

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Broiler by Another Name

My friend Lori dropped off her 9 half-grown Cornish roosters today. She just doesn't have the time to care for them. So we ended up with a new taste treat that will be ready in about 4 more weeks!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Cheese Making Workshop

I have been toying with the idea of offering a cheese making workshop. In the first workshop, we would learn fresh mozzarella which is an easy cheese that will take just over an hour to complete.

The workshop would be open to four people only so everyone can have plenty of room and one-on-one instruction. Cost would be $30 and would include rennet and citric acid so you can continue to make the cheese at home as well as your homemade cheese and whey. Each attendee would need to bring a fresh gallon of whole milk (Not ultrapasturized. Plain old Publix milk works fine) and a large microwaveable bowl.

Please comment or email if that's something you would be interested in so I can set it up.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Once a Day

I'm intrigued by this milker. Works for goats too...only $50. May have to get one.

With homeschooling back in session, I have to take some things off of my plate. The first was the bobwhite quail. I released them last week though they still hang out around the farm. Suddenly I like them again!

The other is going to be milking two times a day. When I got the goats, I'd planned on milking once a day. That was one big advantage they had over cows! Since I've had them, I've been milking at least twice a day to try to provide milk to everyone who wants it and have some for myself.

I can't do it anymore. Starting today, milking will be once a day. Now instead of milking, I'm going to go make my kids some whole wheat pancakes (with our milk, grain and eggs of course)!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Milk Maid's Confession

I can't handmilk. There I've said it, I'm a wannabe milk maid. Glad to have that off my chest.

My hand pump broke yesterday and I have been struggling to get the girls milked since. I have the replacement part on order(as well as a spare pump), but it can't get here soon enough.

This morning, I got Kat on the stand and put the bucket up under her. After about 4 minutes of milking, she had finished all her feed. "Here, have some alfalfa, Kat." Of course, that made her stompy and, bam, a hoof goes into the bucket of milk. Not a huge loss since I'd only managed to milk about a cup at that point.

So out came the broken pump, which is still more efficient than my hand milking. I am so tempted to go to a once a day milking but I can't seem to keep milk in the house for my family, it is in such demand.

I ran a CMT test (California Mastitis Test) on all the goats this morning because I want to see if Onyx is clearing up. If I have it out, I may as well test them all. Kat and Trix are neg. As is Onyx's right half. The good news is, her left half is showing less infection! There's hope for us yet.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What to do with a Whole Chicken- Part 2 Roast Chicken

Big thanks to my mother-in-law for the link to this mouthwatering recipe:

Be sure to take the leftover bones and simmer them in a pot of water for a few hours for a great stock and a start to the next night's dinner!

Chicken for Dinner

Sunday, I cut up one of our chickens and made the dish I posted a few days ago. I kept this particular bird because its skin got torn up in the plucker. So sad.

As an aside, we had a couple of birds that came out of the plucker with broken wings. We tried to mark which they were on the packaging so we could discount them, but I'm afraid that one got through our quality control. I am very sorry if it was yours.

The chicken took me about 5 minutes to cut up. Chickens have very handy "cut here" lines so you can easily tell where to put the knife to remove, thigh, breast, wing, etc. In the top right of the picture are the back and wings. I made a chicken stock from them that made the base for the chicken and wild rice soup we had for dinner last night.

I needed a vegetable and only had bits and pieces of veggies in the house, a beet here, an eggplant there, a couple of okra, one potato, one pear... So I cut them all up sprinkled with salt, pepper and olive oil and put it into the oven with the chicken.

I like my chicken falling off the bone tender and I was afraid 30 min at 400-450 wasn't going to accomplish that, so I baked it 30 min at 350 then turned the temp up to 400 for another 15 minutes to brown it up.

Very easy and delicious!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Goat Jewelry

The girls got shiny new jingle bells for their collars today. Now it sounds like we have a herd of reindeer in the pasture. It makes me smile.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Big Butcher Day

Our second butcher day was a resounding success. I especially need to thank all my helpers- friends and family. This could not have gone down without you.

We processed and packaged 50 birds in about 6 hours. Hardly a record, but I could not be happier. It rained Friday night, so Jeff and I had to get everything set up on Saturday morning. The first bird did not get killed until almost 9:30.

The atmosphere was like a barn raising. People learning, kids playing. The weather was unseasonably cool. God came through and all of the birds sold. I wish now that I'd had the faith to order more 4 weeks ago. It will be 8 weeks until I have more ready and will process every 4 weeks after that though I'm only going to do 30 birds at a time. 50 has just been too much work these last few weeks and was a stretch to get done on Saturday.

Here are some pics. Thank you again to everyone who came out and made it such a success.

That's me with the boots and my hand inside a chicken.

Jeff manning the scalding pot.

Off to the chill tank with you, little guy.

This batch had some pin feathers we had to pull out by hand - or with needle nosed pliers.

Scroll past the next picture quickly if you're squeamish.

This dude is draining getting ready to be bagged.

Here they are bagged and ready to be shrunk.

Finally, bagged, shrunk, weighed, labeled and ready for pick-up.

Friday, August 10, 2012


Did you even know that was a word? I have visions of the Red Queen in Alice of Wonderland being dragged off her throne by her hair. "This kingdom has been requeened."

What was actually requeened this week, was one of my two bee hives. One hive is thriving the other is wasting away. I suspected that I had a lousy "Let them eat cake" queen in that hive, but when I cracked it last week I found it queenless.

Hives without queens dwindle and die. The queen is like the control center of the entire operation. She lays all the eggs and sends out pheromones that keep the gears turning.

I ordered a new leading lady from Rossman's Apiary in South Georgia. They priority mailed her and I got the call from my buddy Wilbur at the post office to come pick up my "bumblebee". I swear they have to think I'm nuts down there, I have mailed roosters and received chicks and "bumblebees". I bring them eggs.

She arrived in her own little cage with several worker bees to care for her. It's hard to tell in this picture, but she's the bigger bee in the very middle. At one end of the cage is a candy plug and a cork. If you just put a new queen in a hive, they will kill her. So you put the whole cage in and let them eat through the candy plug to get to her. By the time they reach her, they are under her pheromone spell and she is free to take the throne, so to speak.

I hope they like her and I hope she does a good job for this hive. They need a good ruler!

How to Cut Up a Whole Chicken

Tomorrow is butcher day! In honor of that, I thought I'd post a video on how to cut up a whole chicken since it can seem daunting.

Enjoy and I can't wait to see a lot of you tomorrow!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

More on Mastitis

I found this article on the kind of mastitis that Onyx has.

It was the clearest, most concise information I've found. It looks like the treatment we gave last week may have actually made things worse by releasing toxins.

In other news, the contractor scheduled to erect our barn today has not returned calls from my husband in two days.

Good news, we've heard from the contractor and he's coming Monday. Our barn is going to be like the picture above. Jeff is a good carpenter and is going to build in a loft, sides and stalls for the animals.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Feeling Down AKA Goat Mastitis Blues

***Update to add**** One of my favorite laying hens died today too. RIP, Sunday.

As most of you know, I bought a third dairy goat a couple Tuesdays ago. My parents and I drove up to north GA to get her. They rode along because I was sick and could not even get out of bed the day before.

Back to the story, her name is Onyx and she's a sweet little year-old LaMancha. It really is a good thing she's sweet.

When I got her, I noticed that one half of her udder was a bit smaller than the other. Over the first couple days with her, milk from her left half dropped down to almost nothing. Friday, I called my friend Dave who got me into dairy goats. He told me to get her to Auburn U. Large Animal Teaching Hospital STAT.

Mom and I loaded her up and set off on the hour drive. The people at the vet school were fantastic. We got a diagnosis of mastitis, a sample was sent off for culture and we were sent home with eight days of antibiotic to be administered intramammary- that's a fancy way of saying shooting a syringe up her teat. Trust me, goats don't like it.

The vet called me after the weekend with the result of the culture- Klebsiella pneumoniae. Of course that doesn't mean too much to me, I was just relieved to hear it wasn't Staph aureus which the vet said could shut down her left mammary permanently.

Let me go off on a little tangent here about even udders and dairy goats. You've gotta have them. I don't make any money on milk. I hope to recoup some of the cost of my goats by selling their kids each year. If you want a premium price for kid, mama needs a pretty udder. Period. A goat with one non-functioning teat, will be grossly uneven.

So I was relieved to hear that it wasn't the dreaded Staph aureus. We managed the injections (with help from burly men) and milk production on the left started to go up. I was having to dump out all of her milk because of the infection and the antibiotic. There is a 3-day withdrawal period to drink the milk after the course of meds so I was anxiously awaiting actually getting to drink her milk yesterday.

Alas, it was not to be. No sooner had the antibiotic gotten out of her system, than that teat started to shut down again. I purchased a California Mastitis Test (CMT) and administered it this morning. Positive on the left.

I called AU again and talked to another vet. Seems my relief was premature. Klebsiella pneumoniae is a gram negative bacteria that does not respond to most antibiotics (including the one I had just struggled with giving her for 8 days). He suggested that I milk that side 3-4 times a day for the next few days (in my other spare time). If there is no improvement, he will prescribe a different antibiotic that has at least some efficacy (oh joy).

Then came the really good news (note sarcasm). He said that he'd give it a 50% chance that her left side will come back after her next freshening (when she next gives birth). There is equal chance that the gland is damaged beyond repair. See above for the ramifications of that.

I am feeling very defeated today. It's a good thing she's so sweet......

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

What to Do With a Whole Chicken-Part 1

I have had a lot of people ask me what to do with a whole chicken so I will try to post good looking recipes here as I find them. This recipe calls for chicken legs, but you can easily quarter the chicken and use the whole thing.

Chicken Legs Baked with White Wine, Olive Oil & Parmigiano Reggiano

Around the Farm

Monday, August 6, 2012

Guinea Fowl

This morning we had a flock of guinea fowl wander into the yard. Can anyone say science lesson?

Random Musings from an Overworked, Homeschooling Farmer

Today is supposed to be the first day of school. All my life school began the day after Labor Day. The week prior was the Maryland State Fair, held just down the road from us, and all us kids would be there everyday enjoying summer's last "Hoorah".

Now it is 8:15, my kids are still in bed, the goats are bah'ing to be milked and third grade textbooks are looming as large as this thunderstorm that's threatening to have me milking in the rain. Up until Saturday, my children were telling people that school starts in 3 weeks. I think I need to work on my communication skills.

With much prayer, the school year will be launched this week in between farm visitors, a barn raising (Thursday and Friday), houseguests (Thursday and Friday) and a huge chicken butcher day on Saturday. We had a whole lot of interest at the Homeschool luncheon last Wednesday. I pray that interest translates into 50 sold chickens!

Happy Monday, everyone.