I Feel Manly Today

You know, there are certain days that I don’t feel too manly but today is not one of them. Over the last couple of years we’ve added several new animals to our collection but all of them could be together and enjoy each other’s company quite freely. With the addition of our little Puck the goat, we no longer could let all of them join in the fun on our wonderful farm. Puck had to stay away from the pigmy goats or they would die horrible miserable deaths during pregnancy because his offspring are too big for the little bodies of the pygmies. So to protect unwanted deaths and pregnancies, we created a second pen. The pygmies and sheep still could use the shelter in the other pen.

That worked fine until we got our new Leila goat. She is supposed to eat the real good hay so her milk doesn’t taste like weeds but we didn’t want the pygmies to eat the expensive hay. Thus we needed another separation. We decided we’d keep Leila in the pen by the shed and the sheep and pygmies could stay in the pasture. The only problem was that they didn’t have any shelter out there. A wet goat is not a happy goat. A wet cold goat is a dead goat (pneumonia). We found a guy that had pallets on KSL for a dollar piece and he had four of them that were 6 feet long instead of the typical 4 feet. We put three of the six foot pallets together as the the sides of the shelter and used a four foot one for the front. Put some plywood on the top and voila, a pretty cheap shelter. It’s nice to be able to put something together like this. I’m not super skilled in wood work but this I can do.

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Nice Mammary Capacity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As you can read on our Lamancha page, we got a very nice buck from a way nicer lady in our last neighborhood (thanks Nita). So now that we had a boy, apparently we needed a girl goat (doe) to let the birds and bees to do their thing.  She recommended that we go to the state fair to find a good match for our little Puck. She promised that she’d be there to help figure out what the heck we were doing, because we didn’t have a clue. We set the morning of September 8th to be our meeting time. Come September 8th, we’re walking through the goat barn at the state fair and more than just a little overwhelmed with all the goats there. We were very glad to see Nita, we really needed her guidance.

Unfortunately for us and Nita, I guess there were some issues with helping someone judge the goats so she was asked to help. This meant that she was pretty much at the beckon call of the goat judge until the judge had a bathroom break. The judge must be part camel, because we didn’t see her take a break the whole time we were there. We were on our own to look at the goats. She did have the time to point out the three goat breeders that she’d go through if she were in the market for another goat.

We talked to the three recommended breeders and each had one goat that fit our criteria:

  • Had to be currently milking
  • Not the first year milking (we wanted an experienced milker while we were figuring out what we were doing)
  • Price range of $300 to $500

We tried to talk to Nita again hoping that she could just look at the three and tell us the one to pick, but alas, it was not meant to be. She was just too busy being a gopher. She suggested that we wait for the goats that we picked out to be judged by the goat judge. If the goat judge likes one of the ones we pick then we could feel pretty comfortable with our choice. Well, that sounded like a good idea to us.

What we didn’t realize was that each goat was in a different group and we had to see five rounds of judging  to see that all were judged. Watching a lady judge a bunch of Lamancha goats was a pretty novel experience. The judging arena was right in the middle of the goat barn. All the ol’timers and regular goat breeders had brought their own camp chairs, coolers, etc. and were camped out on one side of the judging arena. Those of us that did not realize how long these judging events last were relegated to the hard metal bleachers. The judge would have goats be brought into the arena led around by some 4H student. They’d make a couple rounds walking around the arena in a line and the judge would order the goats in order of their “advantage”. This is the part that I really felt quite uncomfortable and almost embarrassed for those poor goats. The judge started talking about the animal’s teat size, teat placement, mammary capacity and all sorts of other physical criteria. Made me think of the Miss USA contests, don’t know if I can ever look at those pageants the same ever again (mammary capacity and all).

The first goat we liked did the best in it’s group and got second over all. It was a beautiful animal but it was just black, not very exciting for my little wife. The next one we liked got second in her grouping and did not place super high overall. The third got dead last.  We quickly eliminated the third one. I told Amber that maybe we should choose the black. Aliyah loved that one. She was super excited that we were considering her. Amber said that she liked that one but she absolutely loved the coloring of the second goat, white with orange spots. I knew that all hope was lost for me to give her the stats about the other black goat. Once my sweet wife likes a color (whether it’s a house, shirt or a goat), there’s no use in talking her out of it. So we picked Leila from Rusty Gates Ranch because she had cute spots. Poor Aliyah shed a few tears and was a little upset about not picking the goat she liked. A lot of the tears were due to her being tired and hungry  We were told to come back and get her on September 13th at 9pm. I guess the fair has rules against all of their animals disappearing before the fair is over.

Stay tuned for the adventure of picking Leila up from the fair. 🙂

Free Kittens

Our cute little kittens, five of them, are ready to go to a new home. They’re around six weeks old. They’re able to drink water and soft foods. Super cute and friendly. We’re not very good at deciding gender on kittens so we can’t tell you what they are. If anybody is interested in them, let us know.

UPDATE: We’ve given the away so far, two more to go.

UPDATE 2: Last kitten has gone to a good home, yay no more kittens.

Guts and Glory…ish

So I thought I would share my outlook on the whole meat chicken thing.  I’m really happy that I have healthy chicken to feed my family.  And there is such a sense of satisfaction knowing that when we sit down at the table most of it was provided by our hard work and the Lord’s blessings.  I think that I have really grown as a person through all of our homesteading endeavors.  And I’ve tried to push myself to do things that are hard and it feels good to know that I’ve overcome things.  Like, the whole “chickens scare the living daylights out of me” fear.  Totally conquered it.. yay me!

When Cody asked me to help with the chicken butchering, I took a deep breath and tried not to barf.  I successfully skinned and gutted three chickens.  I even cut the feet off of one of them.  I was really proud of me.  Well, after we cleaned up the mess I kept thinking of chicken guts and ripping lungs out of their body cavities.  Eew!  Sorry, kinda gross.   Then every time I closed my eyes I would see murdered chickens!

So the other night I have this dream.  I am milking Leila the goat in our little milking shed and I look over and Cody is skinning Puck the goat!  My sweet baby boy buck was murdered and Cody looked at me like, “What’s your problem?” I remember screaming in my dream and woke up all sweaty and scared.  Plus I was really ticked at Cody and kinda wanted to kick him in his sleep.

Things that I have learned from the whole ordeal…

  • I shouldn’t push myself too hard.
  • I am a caregiver, not a killer.
  • I don’t mind chopping up the chicken once it looks like a rotisserie chicken, but I can’t kill one and gut it!

So, Cody has agreed that he will do the dirty work and I will put things in plastic bags and freeze them and cook them.  I think that’s a fair deal.

Who Doesn’t Like A Little Chicken Chase

This actually happened about two years ago but I figured the story is good enough to still document. We bought our first chickens in the late winter right after we moved to our “rural” neighborhood (Dec 2009). We had never been in that kind of rural environment or had chickens. We bought our chickens from a lady that was moving due to a divorce and ended up getting three hens, one rooster and one heavy coop (thanks again dad and to my bros for helping). The house we just moved into had almost no yard work done and nothing done for the pasture area in the back.  There were no fences anywhere on our property but the coop that we just bought had an attached chicken run. So we just let the chickens hang out in there and would let them out from time to time to roam the pasture and yard. We had two dogs at the time but they really left the chickens alone and we tried to watch them when the chickens were loose. It worked great for awhile but we got a little too lax in keeping an eye on our fluffy butts while they were roaming.

This is where the story really starts. Amber had been under the weather with some bug and had almost completely lost her voice. It was really kind of funny, she sounded like one of those dogs that have had their voice boxes removed. There’s the air moving but nothing to give her voice any substance. I was washing one of the dogs in the bathtub when I think hear a loud commotion. I wasn’t sure though because the dog was making some noise. I went back to washing the dog. I start to hear this really odd noise. It sounded like a rushing wind. I know that sometimes the spirit can talk to you in this way but I wasn’t feeling like that was the case. I hear the noise a few more times so I decide I need to go investigate. But I have a very wet dog in the tub that all she wants to do is give a great big shake and spread wet dog smell all over the bathroom. So I’m trying to figure out how to keep her in the tub while I go see what is going on when I hear the noise again and it sounds like it is really close.

Turns out that the noise is my poor wife trying to yell at me. The weird noise she was making was her trying to yell “Cody, there’s a chicken in the house.” It took her a couple more times for me to understand what she was saying and get the gist of what was going on. I guess we had just washed the other dog. Someone had let her outside even though we had the chickens out roaming. Unfortunately for our rooster Spike, our dog was in a playful mood and she made a bee line for the little guy. Well the rooster and dog went all over the yard. The dog got a couple of our guy’s tail feathers out before Mr. Spike decided to run for the safest place he could find, the open door into our dining room. Well, our dog was not giving up that easily so he went on in the house too and continued to give chase. So now we have my dog chasing my rooster and my wife trying get dog and rooster back out of the house, thus the commotion that I heard earlier.

The best part of this was that this was before Amber conquered her fear of chickens. She was deathly afraid of the things. So didn’t dare pick up the rooster to protect it from the dog or to remove it from the house. And that’s where the heroic man of the house stepped in (me). Amber wasn’t sure where the rooster ended up but she thinks that it went in our bedroom.  I’m thinking “Great, now we have chicken poop all over the place.” I looked all over our bedroom with no sign of Spike and luckily no signs of poop either. I check the bathroom out, I check the bathtub and the shower stall. Apparently Spike had been studying with Houdini. I was starting to walk back out of the bathroom when I see a little movement coming from behind the toilet.  Sure enough the poor little guy was tucked back there just a shaking. I removed him from behind my glorious throne and tried to calm him down. He had lost almost all of his beautiful tail feathers. Besides a little lost pride and tail feathers he seemed to be ok.

We learned from this and a few other experiences that our and neighbor dogs don’t mix with our chickens and invested in pasture fencing before the following summer was done.

 

Love My Hot Stuff

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that this post is about my smokin’ wife but sadly it is not. She is most definitely my hot stuff but I’m referring to something not as hot, those beautiful peppers. I absolutely love spicy food.

We were at my in-laws’ house last weekend for a birthday party and someone brought some fresh salsa. I was way excited and then my father-in-law stated that the salsa was probably not the type of salsa I would enjoy. I thought, “Hey it’s salsa, it’s got to be good.” But I was wrong, the “salsa” was basically pureed tomatoes  and poured into a bowl. So disappointing…..

The above picture is some of our blessed crop from the garden. For some reason we only had a couple of plants survive this year which is very disappointing compared to last year. We had enough peppers to do two batches of salsa and for a whopping TWO bottles of canned jalapeños. I almost don’t want to open these bottles because I think they look awesome. There is something just super satisfying about growing and canning your own crop. You can see these beauties in the below picture, I think they look lonely.  Necesito mas.

 

Holy Flying Bat … Man

Image pulled from http://allstateanimalcontrol.wordpress.com/tag/utah/

So I wish we would have had pictures of this ordeal but we were a little preoccupied. On 9/19 around 11pm, Amber and I were talking in our computer/piano room, when Amber looked above me, screamed and ran away. I’m thinking that she just saw the biggest spider in her life. So I’m trying to stand up without putting my head into a big ol’spider. As I stand up and try to look to see the spider, what I really see is a bat flying in our little room. The room has two entries without any doors so I quickly headed out one of them. We finally regrouped ourselves and mustered a little courage. I grabbed a towel with the hope of catching the flying rodent and putting him outside and Amber had a fly swatter. As I was getting the towel, Amber lost sight of him around the stairs. So we assumed he went upstairs.

I’m sad to say that I wasn’t as brave as I would have liked to have been but I did eventually go through all the rooms, windows, and corners that we had upstairs trying to find that little bat. I couldn’t find that little bugger. Our attic access has a little gap in it because it was damaged a little while go and we assumed he went up there. We decided we’d call a pest control guy in the morning. Amber was none too happy that I went to work the next morning and let her call the pest control guy with an evil blood sucking bat in our attic.  The annoying thing was that she called four different pest control companies. Three of them said that either that they didn’t do bats (even though their yellow pages said they did) or that they would charge $200+ just to come check if there were bats. So I told my sweet chiroptophobic wife that I would get up in the attic that night, check for bats, and install proper attic access molding to cover the gap and prevent future damage to the attic access.

Well the attic was clear of bats and the molding was eventually properly installed. We weren’t sure what happened to Mr. Bat until Friday night. I went upstairs Friday evening to put the finishing touches to the molding when I noticed a hairy flying guy swooping around in our theater room. He’d hang out on our theater screen, do some laps and then hang on our curtains and then do some more laps. I think he had decided to take a nap in one of the cubbies under the benches in the theater room which happened to be the only place I didn’t check on Wednesday. So I tried a couple times to catch him with a towel but for some reason he didn’t feel too enamored with the idea of me wrapping him up in it. Finally I saw one of the kids’ toy bins and had an idea. I used the bin as a big bat catching net. It only took three tries before I had a “bat in the box” (trademark pending). He did not like being in there. The bin was made of wicker so we could see into it and the poor little guy was a cute little rodent. He was scared and was making a little squeaky nose. I was proud of Amber because she even tried to see the little guy in the bin. I slid a towel underneath the bin and carefully flipped the bin over and took the bin outside. Amber told me to take it far away from the house. So I traveled long and far to the sidewalk in the front of the house (I didn’t have any shoes on so don’t look at me that way)

I quickly removed the towel and ran a few feet away. But to my dismay, Mr. Bat did not leave the bin. And then I remembered reading/hearing somewhere that bats can’t fly from the ground. They need to fall to be able to fly. I wasn’t sure that was correct but I thought I could try. So I grabbed the bin and chucked it high into the air and Mr. Bat soared (well if bats soar not sure what they do) and he seemed quite pleased to be out and about.

It was an exciting, little nerve wracking, couple of days. And I may have referred to myself as the “bat man” after I caught him.

Our Apple Tree

We were very excited two years ago to plant our very first fruit tree. It was an apple that had five different apple varieties grafted into the tree. Unfortunately we happen to have very “hungry” pigmy goats that like apple tree leaves and limbs. They got loose one day and reduced the five variety apple tree to a three variety apple tree.

We were a little disappointed last summer to only see flowers bloom but no fruit. So this year we were super excited to see five apples emerge from the blooms. But again due to the Pygmy Twins and wind, our bountiful crop was reduced to two apples. They look very delicious and we cannot wait to give them a try. We’re hoping next year we’ll do better about keeping our naughty little goats away and receiving a bit larger crop.

Breasts? … Why Yes, We Have Plenty

I don’t know if you really can have enough breasts but the title sounded really funny to me at the time. We just slaughtered 21 meat birds. It was a neat learning experience. We ordered these cute little fluffy babies from Murray McMurray Hatchery. They had great reviews on backyardchickens.com and the reviews about their Cornish Crosses were pretty awesome. These little babies can grow from cute little chickies to very large breasted chickens ready to slaughter in only 6 to 8 weeks.

We ordered our set of 25 birds for June 24th. They arrived all cute and fluffy in a little cardboard box. We were very pleased that all arrived alive and looked very healthy and active. We only lost four birds due to unexpected circumstances. We lost two to certain someones, I won’t name names, placing water containers on their poor little heads, I guess they’re just allergic to not breathing. The accidental deaths of these two babies made the culprits feel  pretty bad. We lost another two because our cute little girls decided that they didn’t want to take care of the chickens that day and they died either from dehydration or being trampled by the other babies. That was a fun lesson for the girls because we made them clean up the dead chickens (ie throw them in a garbage bag) with their bare hands. Kyrah was not too phased by the whole thing but Aliyah … that was another issue. There were tears, stomping of feet and other such theatrics (they’re so creepy, etc.). She finally was convinced that it was important to do. Hopefully it was a good learning experience about being responsible.

So 21 birds survived to the big day which ended up being four big days because it apparently takes awhile to kill and process 21 birds. We were grateful to have the help of my  siblings (Derek, Kristin, Spencer and Kami) with the slaughtering and skinning. Even my poor sweet wife helped on the day that it was just us. She still blames me for the chicken lungs that she has nightmares about. So next year, I will do the killing/skinning. She will do the processing (cutting the meat into parts).

It was quite incredible to see the size of breasts on these birds. They were easily seven inches long. I know of few people who’d be quite jealous of these shapely little ladies. All without any drugs, surgeries, or all natural supplements ;). The legs were huge and really didn’t have as strong a dark meat flavor than other chicken that I’ve had. Which is great for my sweet lady because she no likey the dark meat. The meat was incredibly tender and just all around fantastic.

By the time I was done with the final bird, I was very tired of blood, feathers and guts with the occasional poop being flung at me by chicken death throes. I was wavering quite a bit on whether we’d do another batch next year. However, after seeing a fridge full of fresh, healthy chicken, I’m pretty convinced that we’ll do it again. We learned a lot of what not to do this year and hope to have a few less water containers on poor undeserving chickie heads.

Dr Amber, Goat Medicine Woman

So we got our Leila goat from the fair. She unfortunately came home with a bit of a cough and a runny nose. After a couple of days, Amber went to the vet and got some antibiotics for Leila. The vet thought it was an upper resipiratory infection. So for four days Amber has been giving poor sick Leila shots. This means of course that we can’t drink the milk that we have to get up so early for to milk, ugh! I went out to milk this morning and was saying hello to Puck and the Pygmy Twins, sounds like a rock band but they’re just our other goats. If I hear of a rock group with that name, I’m suing. As I was greeting our little rocker goats, I noticed that they all had a cough and running noses too. I think we just learned our first lesson in biosecurity.  Now we have to buy more medicine ($35 an animal) and be goat doctors for three more goats. In the future we’re going to have to be better about quarantining our little babies as they come into the flock or after they have visited somewhere new.