Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category

Too Good Not to Share!

October 18, 2011

An old lady, Tootsie, from Wisconsin had worked in and around her family dairy farms since she was old enough to walk, with hours of hard work and little compensation.

When canned Carnation Milk became available in grocery stores in the 1940’s, she read an advertisement offering $5,000 for the best slogan.

The producers wanted a rhyme beginning with “Carnation Milk is best of all.”

She thought to herself, I know everything there is to know about milk and dairy farms.  I can do this!

She sent in her entry, and several weeks later, a black car pulled up in front of her house.

A large man got out, knocked on her door and said, “Ma’am, …The President of Carnation Milk absolutely LOVED your entry….so much, in fact, that we are here to award you $1,000 even though we will not be able to use it for our advertisements!”

He did, however, have one printed up to hang on his office wall.


Candid Corner: Homesteading-Raw and Uncensored

October 14, 2011

Oft times when I mention that I have a homestead on 7 acres, I get similar reactions…

“Oh, how wonderful!”

“I’ve always wanted to live like that…”

“It must be so rewarding…”

Homesteading often conjures up mental images of fuzzy baby chicks, white fluffy lambs, contented cows lazily munching in green lush pastures… the satisfaction of fresh picked produce, frothy warm goat’s milk in a bucket, and farm fresh eggs plucked from a nesting box.

And while all these images are true, there are days when homesteading is just plain raw, ugly and painful.

Remember Marbles?  Our goat who was sick a couple of weeks ago and I wasn’t certain what was wrong with her?

Well, she recovered and was her ornery self, pushing the other goats away from the feed trough, butting everyone in the head to maintain her dominance.  We loved her – she had so much personality and she was the first goat on our farm, a birthday gift to Victoria.

Tori taught her to run and jump into her arms.  Marbles made great babies and was a good momma.

About a week ago, I was feeding the goats and noticed something on Marbles leg, a fluid that had dripped down her leg.  I looked underneath her belly and noticed a wound on her udder.

I had Megan help me get Marbles onto the milk stand so I could get a better look.  There was a hole on the inside of her udder between the two teats.  It was nasty looking and I wasn’t sure if she had torn her udder.  I poured peroxide on it to clean out the beginning stages of infection.  Yeah, it stung – you could tell because the pupils in Marbles eyes got really big.

We let her off the stand and she stood in the corner of the barn for a while.  I watched and soon she was back to bossing around the other goats – no more pain.

Over the next couple of days, the wound got bigger and soon half her udder was dangling, the teat looking leathery and hard.  I was beside myself about what to do and what made it worse, Marbles was acting very normal- eating well, playing with the other goats.

Finally yesterday, the wound was worse and I knew that I had to put her down before this situation got to the point where it was an emergency.  I’d been agonizing over this decision, hoping every day that I went to the barn that by some miracle, I would see some improvement.  I talked with a couple of friends who own animals.  We tossed around ideas but the final conclusion was – Marbles would have to have surgery to correct the problem.

You want to know about raw homesteading?  It’s when your emotions and logic conflict, when your heart says “whatever it takes” and your mind says “at what cost.”  When your memory replays all the videos of your children bottle feeding this goat, “napping” with this goat, standing in awe as this goat gave birth to two beautiful babies…

And your practical side looks at a 9 year old goat who can no longer give birth or nurse a baby or provide milk for the family; calculating the monetary cost of a surgery that may or may not work.

It’s awful.  And it hurts.  And it keeps me awake at night and wakes me in the morning…

And I alone have to make the final decision on the life of this goat, our pet – whether she lives or dies.

That is the reality of raw, uncensored homesteading.

At 5:30pm, it was decided that Marbles would be put down at 7pm.  Tears filled my eyes when I hung up the phone after making the arrangement.  A friend’s brother-in-law would come to our farm and bring his gun.

I went into the bathroom and called a close friend of mine and cried, making sure that I was doing the right thing.  It’s a lonely ache that invades your heart in moments like this.  My 14 year old wanted to be there when Marbles was put down.  As a mom, I wanted to protect her from this harsh reality.  She wants to be a vet – should I let her be a part of this experience?  My husband was unavailable…my heart won in this instance and I decided that I would stay with Marbles and not her.

I dug the hole with the tractor and Tori and Megan finished cleaning it out with the shovel.  I had a hair appointment in town at 6:15p.  As I headed home and turned onto our dirt road, I allowed my mind to replay the memories and I cried again.  I drove down our driveway, there was Marbles nuzzling through wind blown leaves looking for acorns, snatching them up and munching them with a very satisfied look on her face.

The gentleman who came to help us arrived.  He asked me a question and the tears choked my throat and I couldn’t answer.  Megan came out and I put Molly, our Border Collie, in the house and picked up the leash for Marbles.  I’d composed myself with these tasks and could converse one again.

I walked into the goat pen, hooked the leash on Marble’s collar and headed out the gate toward the back of the pasture.  Twice, she dug her hooves into the ground and didn’t want to move.  The last time was just as we approached the hole in the ground.

“Ugh – please don’t make this any harder than it is…”

The gentleman was so sweet.  He took the leash and asked me if I wanted to go to the house.

“No- I’ll stay but I won’t watch.  I’ll just stand over here and wait.”


…and then the gun shot.  My breath caught in my throat with an audible ache from my heart.   And I listened.


When I turned around, he was dragging Marble’s body into the hole we’d dug for her.

It was over…the wrestling, the anguish, the torment about what to do.  Though my heart wanted to argue, I knew I had made the right decision.

He offered to cover her for me.

“No thank you – I’m okay.”

Megan was immediately by my side, having come down from the house.

We chatted for a bit with this gentleman, so grateful for his help. I offered to pay him.

No, no payment, just glad he could help and oh, by the way, “call me again ma’am if you ever need to put down another.”

I walked him to his truck, he handed me Marbles collar and leash, I shook his hand and thanked him again.

Dusk was creeping in, the moon rising and I wanted to cover the body well so the coyotes would stay away.  I headed back to pasture and climbed onto the tractor.  Within minutes, Marbles was buried.

Megan hopped on the tractor with me and we drove back up to the house.  Megan leaned over and said, “Mom, she’s grazing with Emma in those beautiful pastures along with all our other animals.  We have a farm waiting for us!”

A beautiful, star filled sky and a brilliant full moon…my girls who offered hugs and sweet tenderness.

No one ever told me about these kind of days when I chose to homestead.  Perhaps because the emotional heartache of days like this one, so raw and uncensored, are soothed and consoled by fuzzy baby chicks, fluffy white lambs, and contented cows lazily munching in lush green pastures…

Preparing a Pelt

October 7, 2011

I bought a lamb from a friend of mine who raises sheep for meat.  She took my sheep to the butcher yesterday to be processed.

Another of our friends who also raises sheep had one of her lamb’s pelts made into a small rug or throw.  It’s beautiful and so soft.

Jan and I decided we wanted one too 🙂

The butcher saved the pelt for me and Jan brought it over last night during Knit and Spin.  We spread it out on the floor in the basement away from the other animals.

Then we put a thick layer of salt all over the pelt.  The salt will absorb the moisture.

This is what it looked like after being salted.  It will stay like this for a while and then I’ll ship it to a company in Penn where they will tan the hide and wash the wool.  It’s not that expensive to do.  One of these days I’ll try to do the whole process myself.

For now, we’re just going to take it a little bit at a time!

And btw- it’s become the newest project in the Knit and Spin group.  Another friend of mine took Edward’s (our cow) hide and she and her husband are doing the whole process themselves!!  Now that’s a major job!  But she says, so far so good 🙂

Candid Corner – It’s So Hard to Switch Tracks

September 14, 2011

I went out last night to check on Marbles, our goat.  She’s been sick for the last couple of days. Not really sure what’s wrong with her – a lot of educated guesses.

By symptoms and signs, the consensus  has been a urinary blockage or stone.  I’ve used all the conventional means:  a shot of antibiotic for fever, pain reliever to give her some comfort, this other stuff to hopefully break down the stone or blockage… and I’m still waiting.

Marbles has had no appetite for the feed we normally give – man made.

Last night, the girls and I attended our weekly Traditional Chinese Medicine class.  Dr. Liang talked about plants and their ability to heal and why.  I’ve known this and have believed it for some time, using almost solely herbs and minerals for the family.

But when it came to my animals, I hadn’t switched my thinking.  My first recourse has always been chemicals or conventional means.

I learned the hard way with my honeybees.  I was told to use a chemical to control mites or they would kill my colonies.  So I used the chemical and instead – it killed my colony.  There may have been some other factors involved but definitely, the chemical was one of the components for their demise.

I was at a loss last night regarding Marbles.  I stood in the pen with her  – it was a beautiful night with a full moon, bright stars, slight breeze.  I started to love on her, touching her, rubbing her ears.  As I ran my hand along her neck, I noticed she was really tight so I started to massage her neck…remembering that massage is often used for healing.  Pretty soon she relaxed and pushed her head into my leg.  I rubbed her face and ears and along her spine and sides.  The look in her eye calmed down.  I talked with her as I continued to rub her neck.  After a 1/2 hour  or so of this, I said goodnight and went in the house.

While I was out there with Marbles, I was thinking about our class and the plants.  I remembered what a FB friend said about dock root.  I determined that in the morning, I would pick plants for Marbles and see what she would do  with those.

This morning I went into her pen and she seemed better, a little perkier.  Rubber her neck some more… offered her some grain and she nibbled but not really interested.  I knew enough though, that she wanted something to eat.

Oh yeah,plants.

I’d been told that with urinary problems, they needed acidic feed.  We’d been giving her apple cider vinegar which she hated.  So I went to get some oak leaves – they’re acidic.  She ate them right away.

I walked around the yard and picked a little of this and that.  I knew some of the medicinal properties of some of the plants.  Found Feverfew and the dock.  It looked like a bouquet when I took it into Marbles!  I offered her the dock and she ate it right away – the most enthusiastic I’d seen her in several days.  I offered her the Feverfew and she ate that right away.  Some of the other plants, not interested.  I figured she knew what she needed.

I guess what I learned this morning is, I’ve been trained under the conventional medicine for animals and I need to explore the natural remedies with them also.  There’s not much info out there for this kind of medical treatment.

I need to remember that I’m not always smarter than the animals when it comes to figuring out what they need.  Marbles is penned up – how could she get what she needs if it’s not available to her?

I don’t have answers, just sharing my musings with you this morning.  It’s difficult to switch my train of thought when it’s always been a certain way and “this is how it’s always done.”

I’ll continue to explore the use of plants and herbs with my animals because I know it can work for humans so why wouldn’t it work for them?

They’re even closer to the earth than I am in what they eat 🙂

Pig Party!!

August 18, 2011

It was a quiet evening at the Lazy B Farm.

That is until someone mentioned all the watermelons in the back of the truck.

Woohooo!!  We’re gonna have a Pig Party!!

“What??  Did someone mention a party??!”

“Wait a melon-pickin’ minute!  Why do those pigs get all the good stuff?”

“Oh yeah….”

And let the party begin!!

I wasn’t sure who enjoyed this event more.  Michael and Megan who had way too much fun launching the watermelons and watching them smash and explode in the pen…

…or the pigs who ran from watermelon to watermelon noisily slurping up the fruity goodness inside!

The biggest objective for the one launching watermelons into the pen…

do NOT hit the pigs!!

Hog heaven!!

Oops – another close call!

A pigs dream becomes a reality!

“Ya know pigs…”

…ya’all are just so disgusting!”

“What??  You want me to try this stuff?”

“Ummm – I think not!”

And the pigs ate and ate until…

Oh yeah – Party Hangover!!

(See that smile on her lips!?  She had a good time :-))

She did it!!! Baby Guineas Appear…

May 29, 2011

Remember my Guinea who’s been sitting for so long?  Well, I had a “feeling” about today.

and I was right!!

I went out to check on her because the noises from the Guineas were different than they’d been in the last couple of days.

Dave had gone down to feed the pigs the scraps from lunch and I heard him calling the dogs.

I was so excited cuz as I came around the corner, there they all were!  Mom and her 15 babies!

If you’re counting the babies in the pictures – you’ll only get to 13.

That’s because 2 were having a really hard time keeping up and got left behind.  So Tori went down to scoop them up.

Look at that white one – would loved to have brought that one in with the others.  Those bright orange legs!  They’re so cute 🙂

A male was with her and they wanted into the back pasture.  I opened the gate to let them through – all the while telling her what a great job she did and she was going to be such a terrific mom!

We’re all elated because we’ve never had anything like this happen on our farm.  It will be fun to watch how she takes care of all those babies and how they learn to fend for themselves.

We went back to where the nest was and there was a peeping sound…

Another one had hatched at some point and it was still wet.  Number 16!

We brought the 3 orphans inside and put them in the brood box.

Aren’t they adorable!?  And only hours old!

And by the way, yesterday, another mom got off her nest and we brought in a bunch of her eggs and put them in the incubator to see if we could hatch them out.

She did go back to her nest so we left 5 in there for her.

Why do I have the feeling in a month we may be overrun with Guineas!

When a Bathroom Scale Won’t Do…

May 28, 2011

Last Sunday, Lynn and I had to take 2 steers to the butcher.

We had a dilemma, however.  We needed to know how much the steers weighed so we could start learning how to “eye” a steer and give a good guess on the weight.

After some discussion, we decided the best thing to do would be to take the truck and trailer to a truck scale.

My truck is not small by any means, but in comparison to a tractor trailer truck, it’s a midget!

Lynn ran inside to see if this would be possible…

Yes, just follow the instructions posted on the scale.

Reading, reading, reading …problem with the 4th instruction.  And I have no clue how to slide an axle on the scale, so I guess that one didn’t apply.

I didn’t have a problem with waiting for a response.  I could be very patient when I needed to be.

It was “press the button” that was going to be a little difficult!

Even when we pulled the truck onto the scale, those little yellow buttons were above our heads!

Don’t tell Dave, but Lynn had to quickly step on the plastic pocket on the inside of the door and kind of jump to smash the button.  It only took 2 tries and then we finally heard the voice in the box 🙂

So we weighed the truck and the trailer with the 2 steers and then stopped again on the way back with an empty trailer and weighed again.

Subtracted the one weight from the other and voila!  We had the weight for our two steers.  Divided that number by two and called it close enough 🙂

And besides, it was way easier to use the truck scale than to try and lift the steer in our arms and step on the bathroom scale!


Snapping Turtle by the Creek

May 27, 2011

A couple of friends had called this morning about trees that had gone down on their farm.  For one friend, the tree blocked the driveway making it impassable.  For the other, trees hit two spots on the fence and the steers were out!

I decided I should probably have Michael check out the fence line too.  After a bit, I got a phone call from him…. ( love those cell phones!)

“Mom!  You gotta come down to the creek!  I found this huge turtle and he’s really cool!”

“I’ll do my best – I have a Homestead Tour in about 15 minutes.  How ’bout I send Ali down with the camera?  (Thus, a couple of fuzzy pics).”

“Well, that would be okay but you’d really like this turtle. (my kids know me so well!).”

I never did make it down to the creek before the group got here – wish I had after I saw the pictures!

This is the biggest Snapper I’ve seen around here.

Apparently Michael tried to touch it and the turtle whipped his head out so fast it scared Michael – only a very little bit of course.  But enough that Michael said he wouldn’t try it again 🙂

Look at the webbing on the legs, and the tail, and the claws, and the spikes, and that massive head!

Yeah – sorry I missed this one.  Sure is a beauty!

And Where Would You Have Your Babies?? Nesting Guineas!

May 26, 2011

I started with 6 Guineas last spring.  On Christmas day, we noticed one was missing and I found a pile of feathers.

Christmas dinner for some fortunate animal.   So in the spirit of Christmas, I tried not to be too upset.

Now we had 5 Guineas running around the farm.  About a month ago, I noticed another one was missing and had a small panic – I really like my Guineas!  I didn’t find any feathers…and then it dawned on me – it’s Spring!!  Babies happen in Spring!

I found her hiding in my flowers…

Couple of days ago, I noticed another one was “missing.”   And today – I only saw 2 running around the farm!

There could only be one answer – 2 more of my Guineas were nesting somewhere…

Found this one on the side of the house – the cooler side, under a tree, in a clump of grass.

I’m guessing these last 2 are males.  They’re very protective of this particular female – maybe cuz she’s a little bit more exposed.

I got little too close when I was looking at her and she got up from the nest – she had a big bunch of eggs under her!

“Don’t worry about a thing dear.  You just sit there and I will take care of everything!”

“What?  You think you hear something?”

“No need to worry – it’s just Misty passin’ by.”

I’d heard this one squawk but I had a harder time spotting her.  Over beside the house – same side as the other one in the grass, there’s a small pile of lumber.

She’d tucked herself in between the pieces of wood.  Her head is covered but not her body.

She reminds me of little kids when they play hide and seek.  If you can’t see my face then you can’t see me!

And lastly, my first “disappearing” Guinea is still sitting in the flowers on the other side of the house.

Sitting time for Guineas is 26 – 28 days.  She should have babies next week if my calculations are correct.

And by the way – if you were a Guinea, which place would you choose to have your babies!?

Emma and the Chickens

March 14, 2011

This is Emma.  We picked her up a year ago.  She’d been abandoned by her mom in the middle of the night on one of the coldest nights we had last winter.

She apparently is a fighter since she survived the cold temps.  She came to us as a bottle baby.

This is Emma today.  There is something to be said about bottle babies.  Upon a quick mental perusal of all of our animals, I’m pretty sure that all of them have been raised on the bottle…which accounts for some of the odd behaviour we see around this farm!

Emma is a “pip” – she has more personality than most sheep and she has no respect for electric fences.  Of course, with the thickness of her wool, I’m not sure she even knows it’s electric!

But we love her.  She knows her name and she lets us pet her.  She’s great for the kids who come to visit the farm.

Yesterday, in spite of the new fence I put up in front of the electric fence, she got out into the new pasture.

Someone had thrown an apple core in there for the chickens to eat but apparently sheep like apples.

I’d let the chickens out of there run into this newly sown pasture so they could scratch and eat the bugs.

Emma thought it might be nice to visit the chickens in their own home!

How she squeezed through the small little door is beyond me!

The chickens were a bit perturbed that this gigantic visitor was eating their food!

So they had a chat with her to let her know what was what when she came to visit.

I looked up from weeding and saw Emma in the chicken run.  My first thought was, “Now this is the ultimate in integrated farming!”

Second thought, “How in the world am I going to get her out of there!?”

Not a problem – she was out before I got around to the other side of the chicken house.  Maybe it was something the chicken said 🙂

These bottle babies are so cute and adorable….and grow up sometimes acting a little more like pets than farm animals.

…And we like it that way!