Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Ascension to the Throne

All hail Queen Chilly
It has been a crazy couple of weeks around here.  At this particular point in time, I only have need for a few does.  Two will provide enough milk for me to drink all I want and make plenty of cheese.  So, with a herd of five senior does and three doelings born this year a reduction was in order.  I don't want to call it culling, because there was something I liked about every one of my girls; but, fact is they were ranked and sorted.

I decided that 5 was a good number to keep for now.  My breeding program begins with the three new doelings born this year, so they are not for sale.  That means I keep 2 senior does, m-a-y-b-e three if somebody doesn't find a home.  Chilly is a complete pain in the rear, but is also the prettiest.  Since I didn't get any does from her this year, she stays.

I didn't get any does from Sandy this year either, but she is downline from Bree and I have those genetics everywhere.  Sandy was actually listed for sale, but she had a miraculous attitude adjustment.  She went from expert escape artist to my most devoted fan.  She is waiting for me at the gate and follows me everywhere.  Hey, I'll take an ego boost from a goat.

Bree is just a solid old dependable girl, and I didn't really plan to sell her.  As I mentioned in a previous post, she was just the right fit for somebody that came out to meet & greet so I sold her.  It wasn't intended, it was just the right thing to do at the right time.  Bree saved her daughter Sandy from the sale block.  It was her final gift to me I think.

Mackenzie is a solid goat.  She doesn't have any defects, but doesn't really stand out either.  She gave me the first doeling of the season and is now sold waiting to be picked up.

Breezy fits the same bill as Mackenzie.  I have several potential buyers for Breezy planning to come this weekend.  Breezy and Mackenzie are separated where I can keep a close eye on them and keep them well protected.  That means the rest of the herd is beginning to settle and find a new norm.

Chilly was already the #2 goat.  So when Bree left, Chilly stepped into the leadership role.  For now at least, I think she isn't quite as mean of a Queen goat as Bree was.  That puts Sandy in the #2 spot.  She was formerly #5, so this is a nice promotion for her.  It's too early to tell where the kids rank yet, that will come this summer.

So, until sold or dethroned, all hail: Queen Chilly

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Goodbye Old Friend

I've had some of my goats for sale on craigslist for a few weeks.  Mama Bree wasn't listed, but she was definitely the best fit for the person that came out to meet the girls.  Ol' Bree doesn't take any crap from any animal, and will easily stake her place among a couple sheep and a young goat on a new farm.
It was a little sad to say goodbye to her.  She was so stand-offish when I first brought her home, but then decided she liked me about a month or two later.  In the 18 months I've owned her, she has given me 3 beautiful girls and her genetics are forever cemented in my herd.

She provided me with fantastic milk all through last spring and summer; but, now it is time for her to provide milk to someone else.  Goodbye Mama Bree.  Live long and prosper.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Maternal Instincts in the Goat Herd

I've been making the most amazing observations this year regarding the mothering of the goat kids.  The first is that the does have "Nanny Shifts".  When I walk out, one doe will be hanging with all the kids while the other four does are clear across the property browsing.  When I go out to the field again later, a different doe will be with all the kids.  I am amazed at the teamwork involved in setting this up.  Not only that, but I appreciate that the goats look out for each other and give each other breaks.

The other observation I made recently is that during feeding time, when the does are eating, the kids will come attach to any available teat.  I'm not sure if it is a result of the does not paying attention at the moment, or a herd teamwork thing; but, I have definitely seen kids nursing from does that are not their mother.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Milking Machine 2

The milking machine I made last year worked pretty well; but, I found that over time the rubber seals I used to seal between the tubing fittings and the jar lid broke down and began to leak.  The leaking seals made it difficult to pull a vacuum, which is what is used to suck the milk out of the goats.

Not only did the seals in the lid leak, but the seal between the lid and the jar leaked on occasion too.

I also noticed that the top of my lid was developing some rust.  In a perfect world, the milk doesn't actually touch the lid.  Nevertheless, it was enough concern to get serious.

Many times, I became frustrated with my contraption.  I even considered purchasing a real Henry Milker; but, I'm not ready to throw in the towel just yet.  I've only given this the college try.  I haven't given it the tenacious professional try yet.

So, I went in search of some better materials.

I went to Ace Hardware and found some nylon fittings.  I used two barbed male adapters, and two hex bushings.  If you don't have a local hardware store, or your local store doesn't carry these items, you can probably order them from here:

The next piece of the upgrade came in the form of half-gallon canning jars with wide mouth lids.  I drilled two holes in the lid, the appropriate size to insert the threaded portion of the barbed male adapter, which was fitted with a nylon
washer prior to going through the lid. Finally, I screwed on the hex bushing and snugged it up.

This lid will now fit on any standard wide-mouth mason jar.

I like the half-gallon size to have milk in the refrigerator, but I prefer to milk with quart sized jars.  You'll have to see what works best for you.

For the original instructions that explain how to make the rest of this device, you can see my previous post here:

I have all the pieces cleaned and assembled.  The goats freshened between two and three weeks ago, so should have cleared their colostrum.  It's time for a field test.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Chaffhaye Coming Soon to Olympia...

First, I suppose I should explain what Chaffhaye is.  I first heard of it about two weeks ago.  The succinct explanation is that it is a name brand of alfalfa haylage.  Soon to be available at Black Lake Nursery & Feed in Olympia!

Allow me to rewind a bit...

Early on in my goat adventures, I purchased a load of baled alfalfa.  Most of the leaves blew off on the drive home.  The rest fell on the ground as the goats tried to eat it.  What was left was really expensive bedding since the goats wouldn't eat the hard stems that were left.

Introducing g0S-2 (that's goat operating system for you tech geeks out there).
I began to use alfalfa pellets, which worked wonderfully for over a year.  Then my vet came out for a herd evaluation and check-up.  He told me I wasn't feeding them enough and to double their alfalfa rations.  Apparently Western Washington hay is pretty worthless when it comes to nutrition.  I imagine their ration, by weight, was 30% alfalfa and 70% hay.  So now, needing to move to a 60-70% alfalfa ration, I decided to make sure my alfalfa was GMO-Free.

I had been purchasing Haystack Farm & Feeds alfalfa pellets.  They purchase on the open market and can't guarantee anything.  I contacted Standlee who operates out of Idaho.  I appreciated their honesty.  They definitely are GMO, politely offering me GMO-Free timothy hay pellets.  I'm not that dumb, there is no GMO Timothy.  XCELL is just a grinder, and they buy alfalfa on the open market; but I've seen their pellets and won't use them anyway.  They look more like floor sweepings and sawdust than alfalfa.

This was very frustrating, and I began contemplating reducing the herd to 1 goat so I could afford organic alfalfa pellets.  During my search for organic pellets, I ran across a post in a Google+ Community about Goat Farming.  Another person in there posted how her goats love Chaffhaye.  I decided to head on over to their website and see what it was all about.  I devoured their website ( and decided I would give it a try.

Introducing g0S-3
I have been feeding chaffhaye transitionally for the past week.  They still get their regular hay, and the old alfalfa pellets get mixed in with their chaffhaye.  I had some early adopters.  They sniffed twice and hoovered all of it.  I had some late adopters.  They sniffed three times and looked at me like I just played a mean practical joke on them.  After a week, they are all snarfing it down very competitively.  By the end of one month, it will be the only feed I give them.  No more hay, no more alfalfa pellets, and still no grain.  They will get handfuls of black oil sunflower seeds though.  I may add a very small amount of rolled oats in the future, but only while on the milk stand.

They have only been eating this stuff for one week, but all of them already have softer and smoother coats.  The first bags I purchased came from a gal in Auburn who has been using this product for nearly 7 years.  She swears by it, and her sheep look exceptionally healthy.

The best part is that my friends at Black Lake Nursery & Feed decided to bring it in, so I can get it locally in the Olympia, Washington area.  That being said, I still haven't really told you what it is.  Chaffhaye is to alfalfa, what sauerkraut is to cabbage.  It is GMO-FREE, chopped alfalfa that is harvested wet and sealed in an anaerobic environment. It comes in easy to manage 50lb cubes that are easy to store, stack, and carry.  It is a very nutritious feed that can replace all or part of what you are currently feeding.  It's good for horses, cows, goats, sheep, llamas, and chickens.  Give it a try!

P.S. - They still need their loose minerals and plenty of fresh water.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Kidding is Finished for 2014

Breezy's Twins: 1 boy, 1 girl
As I was dreaming of super cute goat kids last fall, I began to imagine the possibilities while trying to keep my feet firmly planted in reality.
From my 8 year-old Bree, I thought 3 kids might be possible; but, 2 was a much more realistic number.  I decided to plan on two from her.  Chilly and Breezy, each two years old now, are still first fresheners.  I supposed two from each might be possible, but everybody knows that first time fresheners only have 1 kid.  Sandy and Mackenzie are still not even a year old, so there was no way I would see more than one from each of them.
So that's, let me see... one, two, four, six, nine.  Nine possible goats.  HAHA!  No way.  I'll get six though.  That's plenty for me to handle anyway.

Fast forward to February 20th.  NINE!  Six boys, three girls!  Holy crap on a pogo stick, that's a lot of baby goats.  Don't tell my wife.

Mama Bree finished the set with triplets today.  Two boys and a girl.  One of those boys is really big and caught my eye.  I wasn't really planning on keeping any bucks this year, but he might be a keeper...

Since all the kids were born on or near Valentines Day, that will be our naming theme.

Boy's Name:  Vanentino ~Tino~
Girl's Names:  Cupido, Amore, Tesoro

I'm not sure who is who yet, it's a big enough job keeping track of which baby belongs to which mama. Coded collars are working for right now, but we're going to need name tags very soon.  Sadly, some will have to find new homes; a task I'm not looking forward to.  Cash in the pocket will ease my feelings some.

The first girl born this year, and Mackenzie's only kid.
Meet Maiden D' Shade Amore

Just for the record, everybody kidded within 6 days of a full moon.  They also all kidded during storms.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Oberhasli in the Snow

Oberhasli were bred for this weather, but mine have been spoiled by the mild PNW climate.

Mackenzie was excited and playing like a typical child, but everyone else was more reserved.

With kids due any time now, movements are very slow and cautious.

The chickens just said, "Hell No!"

Our $200,000 tree that came with a free house on 5 acres.

Snow laden Douglas Fir trees rank very high in my list of favorite views.
That being said, I enjoy that I only see it in my back yard about once a year.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Here's To Your Health in the New Year

I've become fascinated by the healing properties of food in the past few years, and have begun to develop some strong beliefs.  As I fight the battle of the bulge and search earnestly for new sources of physical and mental energy, I keep coming back to the foods I eat.  While I still take in the occasional burger, I always get tired afterwards and almost always feel depressed the following day.  It makes me wonder where that beef came from, if it was beef, and how the animal was treated.  It begs the question, "Was that even food that I just put into my body, or a toxin that must now be removed?"  I fear the latter is more likely.

I was disheartened to see the GMO labeling bill defeated in Washington last November.  Not that I need a label, I know what to avoid because I've done my research, I just wanted others to be aware.  Our society votes with their dollar several times every day, and the majority of people keep voting for the lowest food price possible.  I believe that most people have lost sight of what matters most.  If you don't have your health, it's really difficult to appreciate the other great things in life.  I am convinced beyond the shadow of a doubt that cheap food equals poor health.  Have people still not learned that you get what you pay for?  This goes for livestock too.  If you feed your chickens the cheapest possible feed, do you really think your eggs are any better than what's at the store?

The days are getting longer and the wood pile is dwindling.  Our blustery northwest spring is nearing, along with new kids, fresh milk, higher egg production, and more chores.  It's time to get down off my soapbox and wish you well.

My prayer for 2014 is that you will:

  • Come to agree that goat milk is awesome
  • Shop at a farmers market more often, or better yet, grown your own
  • Eat several daily servings of homemade cultured foods
  • Consume only foods that are naturally raised or grown, using quality feeds and fertilizers
  • Say, "NO" go GMO and eat less corn and soy
  • See your chiropractor a few times
  • Have no need to see your doctor
  • Experience an abundance of energy and improved health so that you can enjoy the simple things in life
Take care, and thanks for reading.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Merry Christmas

Thank you to everyone that reads the posts on my website, may it continue to bring a smile to your face, ideas to make your life easier, and helpful knowledge you are seeking.

I wish all of you a very happy and joyous season, healthy food to nourish your body and soul, time well spent with family and friends, and the patience to enjoy it all.

God Bless, and
Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 23, 2013

New Shelter for the Goats

 When we purchased this place, it was heavily overgrown with blackberries and had several structures nearing the end of their life.  I turned one such structure into a perfect shelter for the goats.  After clearing the blackberries, and cutting down the two trees that had grown up inside the structure, we used some plastic sheeting and a tarp to cover the roof and sides.
I will have to rebuild this in a few years since the roof boards are pretty well rotten, but we can get by with this until then.

Before we put the plastic sheeting on to seal it up.

I can't help but wonder what she's thinking right now...