A family farm

Saturday, March 9, 2013


This is so tough. It's funny how hard farming can be when it wants to be. We just have a small farm. I think that makes the losses huge. Lily kidded this morning, finally. She had twin boys. One is tan with black and white markings while the other looked like her, and, unfortunately, like Betsy's kid, Sydney. Lily and Betsy don't get along the best. Lily and Betsy's kid got along even less. Lily has totally rejected her little white kid. She completely bonded with the tan one. And, oh, it gets worse. We have the white kid in the house in a box with a towel so he doesn't freeze to death as he starves to death. He refuses to eat anything. He will not take a bottle. I've tried some milk replacer. I even milked Lily, as she has the colostrum he would definitely need. He will not take a bottle. He's dying, and there isn't a thing I can do about it.

Betsy was even a little confused as to which kid was hers, so there is a lot of similarity between her kid and Lily. If there was any way I could help this little kid make it, I would. But if he won't eat, he won't even swallow when a large syringe is put down his throat, I can't do a thing but make him comfortable and let him die.

Sometimes I hate farming. Sometimes I feel like such a failure.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Out of Hibernation?

Is it time to come out of hibernation yet? Nope. This morning brought freezing rain and near blizzard conditions. Basketball practice at my daughter's school has just been cancelled. I have to say, as much as I love the seasons, the onset of spring is really tugging at me. I need some warmer weather to butcher my ducks and start my gardening. I need to pull my little greenhouse indoors and plant some seeds to get them started, but I'm afraid I'm a little bit early. Well, perhaps I can get some tomatoes, peppers and brussel sprouts started ... we'll see. It's just tough. We have a warm-up where the weather gets above 40 degrees, and it will either be sunny or rain; then, the temperatures will drop, like they did this morning, and we'll have freezing rain followed by snow showers. Finally, however, the daylight hours are getting longer and doing evening chores is more enjoyable. Soon the time change will ruin that, but it will be lighter in the morning. I think I like longer daylight hours in the evening better. I think I'm just suffering through some seasonal depression ... but I think that I'll get through. I think this weekend I may have to purchase some seeds and get that started. I also need to yank nails and spackle and prime my bathroom. That's a job I really need to finish. I think I should be too busy to have spring fever???? Oh, February, literally the shortest month of the year, why are you so very long?!?!?!?!!!!???

Monday, February 11, 2013

Winter Morning Chores

The above is kind of a pictorial account of doing chores in the winter morning. First I visit the chickens and get their water, the usually the ducks and turkeys get a visit, but today the cows were ready for breakfast and I had to feed them. Then, of course, right on cue, the goats chime in so I need to take care of them. The ducks are usually ready to stretch their legs, so I let them out. When it's snowy, they like to run up the little hill and squat down and eat snow. The turkeys like the colder weather and do more strutting about and gobbling ... oh, wait, they strut and gobble all the time anyway. They do like the snow more than the chickens. Those birds won't even come out!

Monday, January 21, 2013

New Baby Goat!

So Ginger surprised us all Saturday evening by kidding! Saturday morning she looked as if she had another week. Her milk hadn't yet totally come in - her udder was not quite filled up. Chris and Alex did chores Saturday evening and then came in, and we ate pizza and played Risk. The kids went to bed, and because the temperature was dropping, Chris thought he'd go out and check on everyone. He called me from the barn saying that Ginger had her kid! The little doeling was already dry! And, as you can see she is adorable, as all pygmy kids are!

This is Porterhouse standing up.

Monday, January 14, 2013

He's Up!

I had helped Porterhouse up to his feet, and we (Porterhouse & I) decided to take a turn around his pen. We'd done it once in the morning with him stumbling, but still making it all around the stall, but it was tough going. This time, he spent so much more time up, and as we got around the turn, he decided to stand up! And then he stayed up! He stumbled over to his feed with my help, but didn't go down. He stayed up! On his own! I didn't hold him up! It was fantastic! Then he took a few steps to his hay and started eating that, standing up! Then he took steps to where he'd been laying, then back to his feed! Then over to his hay! Oh, it was wonderful! He's got a ways to go, as we can now tell that his front right ankle has been injured. He favors it quite a bit. But standing on 3 legs is better than not standing at all!

I have pictures, but I can't upload them at the moment. Sorry!

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Getting about time

First of all, Porterhouse is doing much better. He can almost get himself all the way up. He's getting so much stronger! Since we have such a small farm, it's not as difficult for us to maintain turning him and keeping him warm and dry and keep his poop away from him. It will be awhile before we let him out of the barn, but he's got to get up first before I start counting those chickens.

Now, on to the goats! Ginger is getting ready for birthing. It's a good thing, too, because she's getting huge. Now, her udder is just starting to fill and her back end has swelled. It's just a matter of time. As soon as her udder totally swells, we'll know there's only about 24 - 48 hours before she gives birth. And here I thought Lily would be first! This is just insane!!! I'm so excited for kidding time. Those little things are just adorable when they are first born. It's funny, but most people think that pygmy goats are a bit standoffish and not liking much affection. I've found that if the kids are raised with lots of attention, that they just love to be handled and cuddled. My daughter loves that this is her best job - to love the little ones! Not a bad job for a 15 yr. old. Pygmy goats are great for the fair as well as you don't have to trim their coats. You can just leave them shaggy.

Finally, it's getting about time to butcher those doggone ducks ...

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

tough times

The day after Christmas was a particularly tough day. Christmas night I had looked in on the chick that hatched in the morning. It was deformed. It's top beak curled over the bottom one, and it was missing an eye as everything in the head curled around toward one side leaving no room for it. It would never be able to eat or drink. I had heard of this sort of thing happening, but had never seen it. I was amazed that it even got out of the shell. Other than the deformity in the head, it was a healthy, robust little chick, and I was not looking forward to killing it. I've had to kill chicks before that were near the end, but I've never had to kill a healthy one. I didn't want this little guy to suffer slowly. So, Dec. 26, right before work, I took it outside in the cold and set it down in front of the cat. She showed absolutely no interest. This was the great hunter of wild chicks in the barn - swallows, sparrows - you name it, she's caught it, killed it and eaten it. However, this little deformed chick must not have posed much of a challenge, because she turned her nose up to it. This meant that I would HAVE to be the one to do the deed. I was running out of time, and I was having a hard time thinking of options. The weak chicks weren't that hard to suffocate, but this little guy would not be put down so easily. I settled on smashing it with a bucket that was full of ice. It would be quick and from what I could tell, only painful for a second, if that. I set the chick down on the driveway and prayed that it didn't move, which it didn't, and brought the bucket down on the chick with all my power. The ice in the bucket broke, and when I pulled it away, the chick was dead. It was awful. I hope I never have to do that again.

Later in the day, my daughter called and told me that Porterhouse, one of our dairy beef steers, was laying down on his side and wouldn't get up. He had slipped and fell on the ice. I called the vet. Kellie went to the neighbors who moved him off the ice. I was stuck at work, Chris was on his way home from getting Alex his driver's license. Later that evening, when the vet finally arrived, we got him in the barn. He had been jarred, and would probably lay for a few days. We needed to give him some grain and hay in the barn. We would need to turn him over so he spent time on each side. It was a horrible feeling thinking that he might die.

New Year's Eve wasn't that great either - Porterhouse had gotten himself laying flat on his side/back and was starting to bloat up. We called the vet again. As Chris was on the phone with the vet, I got him up on his side/belly and he belched and started eating hay.

Today, Porterhouse is still laying in the barn, but hopefully over the next few days he'll find the strength to get himself up. It's been tough to deal with because you can't just lift him to his feet as he weighs 300 lbs. The vet said it could take two weeks. Arg!