Monday, December 17, 2012


Our little farm is still plugging along. Winter has set in and things are slowing down a bit. Which is good since I have been down with a pretty nasty sinus infection and cough. Bleh.

The plan for ultrasounding the goats didn't work out, so we did blood tests on both goats. Felicity is pregnant and due February 11, 2013. Penny's blood test came back negative, so we bred her again a couple of weeks ago. I will pull blood again in January to see if she took this time around. The blood draw went sooo much better than last time. It took seconds and amazed both my husband (who was geared up for another fainting goat episode) and myself.

Scout came back over for a visit a few days before Penny was supposed to come back into heat. Unfortunately Scout was more interested in the new alfalfa hay than in Penny. As my sister-in-law said, poor Penny, passed over for a buffet. The owner of Scout brought their other buck, Dusty over. Dusty took to the challenge much better and I'm hopeful that Penny took (got pregnant) this time. If not, we will probably look to sell her in a few months and pick up another doe that is either pregnant or milking.

Felicity is starting to get a belly on her and every now and then I can feel the kids moving in there. My preliminary guess is 2 or 3, but we will see how big she really gets. We are 8 weeks out and starting into the time where she should be gaining most of her weight. I am already seeing differences from day to day. When she started to dry up I slowly stopped milking and she has been dry for a couple of weeks now. We sure are missing our milk.

With winter here the kids (human, not goat) are not using the back yard as much so we decided to change things around a bit. We brought the fence line forward. Now the goats have most of the back yard. While goats are great at clearing brush, their hidden talent is eating fallen leaves. They munch them just like potato chips. So far this year we have not had to rake leaves yet!

Some day I will look out on my yard and not see a single toy/truck/sand box. I'm trying to enjoy the days now that my kids are young. This time will be gone too fast and my kids will grow up. So, for now, here is our totally messy back yard. 

Our panel fence has worked really well. We zip tied each panel together and put them up with step-in posts. You can also see that I have attached the water buckets to the fence to give it a bit more stability. They are not galvanized, but they work great and are a fraction of the cost of cattle panels. I wouldn't want to use them for full sized goats and if they were to be used as a main fence (we have a privacy fence all around our back yard, so if they get out it's not like they will have access to a busy street) I would put them in with concreted posts.

The best part of this particular fence type is that it is totally movable. And, anyone that knows me knows that I love to rearrange!

We still have our squirrel hanging around and we have named him, Jumpy. If you are familiar with the Curious George cartoons you will recognize the name. Jumpy has gotten to the point that he will climb into our lap to get food. He will also come to our back door and beg if he gets hungry enough. I think he has fun tormenting our dog and standing just on the other side of the glass out of reach.

Otherwise, we are settling in and enjoying the Christmas season and looking forward to new kids in February!

Monday, November 12, 2012

I worked hard a few weekends ago and got the shed outfitted for the goats. We still need to do permanent fencing for the outside part (so please excuse the white trash look that we're sporting), but the temporary fencing will do for now (I think). With all the rain the last couple of days Penny and Felicity were happy to get a place with a bigger floor plan.

I'm happy with the new set up because I have a dry place to milk. You can see the "wall" that divides the shed down the center. The goats get the right side and I get the left side. I now have storage for feed and I put the milking stanchion in there too. We don't have power to the building, but I bought a Coleman electric LED lantern that I hung from the center rafter. It works pretty well. 

I'm also happy that when kidding time comes around in February we will have a warm, dry place. My back-up plan was the garage. So, not only am I glad to have the shed, my husband is really glad to not have goats in his garage.

The temporary fencing is made from panels of steel reinforcing for concrete. I got that tip from a guy at the hardware store who said his grandparents had goats and used this for fencing. Works great! And is way cheaper than cattle panels.

We have a new animal around the farm (shocking I know! I seem to be collecting animals like they are going out of style). Somehow we have a tame squirrel. He showed up a couple of weeks ago. He doesn't go so far as to let us hold him, but he has no problem with coming up to us to get something to eat. We now have a ton of nuts buried all over our flower beds and lawn. My husband is thrilled let me tell you. It is just for the squirrel that he put in hours upon hours of work to relandscape the front yard. I'm sure that is what he would say if you asked him.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Baby Daddy

Welcome to September!

What? It's not September anymore? Oh, that must be why my head is still spinning.

What a month! It has been so crazy busy. Between school, soccer, ballet, canning, school, soccer, bal....oh, right. Let's just say, it's been crazy.

One of the things that has taken up some of our time was getting Penny bred. The plan was to breed Penny so that she would freshen (give birth and start producing milk) late winter/early spring. It so happened that both girls ended up bred. Oops.

Felicity was showing absolutely no signs of being in heat, so I thought we would throw Scout (the buck) in with both of them and then I would pull Felicity out if she started to get romantic. Alas, 30 seconds after the introductions she and Scout were done and snuggling while smoking a cigarette.

The plan is to ultrasound them in 6-8 weeks to see if they took (actually got pregnant) and see how many babies are in there. If they both took the due dates will be February 12th (Felicity) and 13th (Penny).

Here is the dude himself:

His name is Scout and he is also a Nigerian Dwarf goat. So far all of his babies have been born with blue eyes, so we are anticipating blue eyed babies too.

When male goats go into rut (breeding season) they think that the ladies swoon at the smell of their pee. Unfortunately they are right. So, the bucks pee on themselves  (and please don't ask me to explain how this is accomplished). All over, but with special care given to making sure that their head/face/beard is especially pungent. Scout normally has white ears. As you can see in the first picture, they are not white at this time of year. Eewwww.

Otherwise, he is quite a cutie and has a rather sweet personality. 

We are also working on cleaning out the shed and converting it over to being a barn. We (read: my sweet hard-working husband) got everything (mostly) out of the shed and stowed in the garage this weekend. The next step is to paint the floor since it is wood and we don't want to rot it out. Then we will divide it (half for the goats and half for storage/milking area) and fence the new goat area. It will be nice to have a bigger covered space for milking and delivering kids in February. The plan is to also move the chickens into the same area and the goats and chickens will share the new "pasture" space. That should help cut down on the amount of chicken poo that I have to clean off my patio each day. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


We are getting some things in our CSA shares this summer that are different than we have ever gotten before. I'm really liking the adventure of trying new things. There are more options with heirloom vegetables, like the lemon cucumbers from last week and the heirloom tomatoes this week.

I tried the new cucumbers. They were really good. Very cucumbery. I had them in a salad with my SIL.

Oh, wait, that doesn't sound right at all! I had them in a salad that I shared with my SIL. It was a good salad and great company.

Our CSA this week:
Green apples (if I can fend off the kids I will make Morning Glory muffins with them), Fennel (again I love, love it with the chicken), lettuce (salad all the way!), pluots (the kids eat them raw and they are great for after school), I picked basil and cherry tomatoes ( the basil will go into bruschetta and I'm going to dehydrate the tomatoes for this winter), a head of cabbage (we have found that we really love this recipe), a beet (I'm not sure what I'm going to do with this yet - maybe juice it), an onion, 2 different tomatoes - 1 persimmon tomato and 1 cherokee green (they are both new to us. Usually we totally go over board this time of year with bruschetta. So, chances are that that is where these two are headed), and 2 ears of corn.

What is happening with the goats? I'm so glad you asked.

All I can say is that I hope when my daughter is a teenager she reject the advances of boys half as well as my goat is currently. We invited the buck over Sunday for a little get-to-know-you. Penny wanted nothing to do with getting-to-know him. *sigh

Our next option is to try a shot that will bring her into heat. It's an easy enough solution. We will see if it pans out. The plan is to give her a shot and then in 65-75 hours she will be ready to be bred. It sure would be nice for the scheduling aspect of this process. I have read that while it brings on a heat cycle it does not cause ovulation. But, you never know with internet info. I have a call into my vet to double check this, but his office assistant seems to think that all will be well and we have a good chance at a successful breeding. It just goes to show that the internet is not always right. Dang it, here I thought everything I read on the interweb was always totally true.

Right now we are looking at the possibility of a Valentine's Day baby. *fingers crossed!

We are seriously considering getting another goat so that we have 3 and it wouldn't be such a big deal to ship one goat off to be bred. We can't do that now because that would leave Felicity home alone. And as they say, "a single goat is a naughty goat". They cry and cry and cry. I want to keep my neighbors happy, so no single goats here.

But, we do feel a little like the frog in the kettle. My husband originally said, "Sure, let's try one goat". Poor guy, didn't know what he was getting into. Well, except that he does have 16 years of experience being married to me and that gives him a heads up that this is probably going to get a little hairy (I call it adventure and being spontaneous, he calls it lack of planning). So, I'm thinking no more than 4 goats. Or thereabouts. Probably.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

I've been super busy here. I had a death in the family on one side, then a little family reunion with the other side a week later. Plus, canning season is here. I have done a little canning in the past, but I want to do quite a bit this year. I started today with a pear relish that was my grandmother's recipe. It is super good on beans and cornbread. It's also good with turkey sandwiches. Next I want to can some tomatoes. If I still have energy after that I will see what I will tackle.


This is the time of year that our CSA makes up for the shares in the Spring that are not only small, but also mostly leafy greens.

This week we got:
Top left: green beans, lettuce, heirloom tomato (oh, this is so going to be bruschetta with my homemade bread from this book - LOVE the book!), summer squash (we got a mix of pattypan, scallopini, and globe squash - at least I'm pretty sure that's what I have),  broccoli, carrots, pluots, green onions, lemon cucumber (not sure what I'm going to use these for, but supposedly I can use them for anything I would normally use a regular green cucumber), fennel (which I make this recipe. I originally got the recipe from my SIL, but was able to find a link to it on the internet - Yeah for the web having everything!), and from the U-pick area I got basil (will be going with the heirloom tomato to make bruschetta - I have adjusted this recipe a bit, but really The Pioneer Woman has never let me down, I often cook from recipes on her site) and some cherry tomatoes (which will go in with the fennel recipe).

The rest of the farmlette is doing well. The chickens are happy and we are letting them start to free range a bit more with only the random egg being laid outside of the nesting boxes. 

We are still working on getting Penny bred. She is not cooperating by going into heat in a manner that works with the schedules of those involved. Goats only go into heat for about 24 hours every 21 days. This makes it a bit challenging. But, I'm learning a lot and hopefully will be better able to get this done when Felicity's turn comes up in the Spring.

Thursday, August 30, 2012


Another week, another trip to the farm for our CSA.

This is what we got this week: Green Beans, Carrots, little green apples (I am going to put those and some of the carrots into Morning Glory muffins), Walla Walla sweet onion (I'm planning on making a Spanish Tortilla), a couple of Brandywine Heirloom tomatoes, a handful of basil from their u-pick area (I'm planning on bruschetta - btw, did you know that it is NOT pronounced /bru shed da/? It is /bru sket ta/. It's true. I'm really tired of being "gently corrected" by servers when I order it from a restaurant. Ok, I'm off my soapbox now, moving on...) lettuce, pluots (a mix of plumbs and apricots) broccoli, cabbage, Swiss chard (I hear it is great for juicing!), and fennel (I have an awesome recipe for a baked chicken with fennel and tomatoes).

Sorry for the blurry pic. I was a lazy bum and didn't change my lens on my camera. I promise better pictures in the future. 

In other news. My effort to breed Penny is ongoing. Here is our newest option, Scout:

He is chocolate with frosted ears and all the babies he has sired have blue eyes. I figure anything that is described as "chocolate and frosted" has to be good. Right?

He is planning on coming for a "get to know you" visit tomorrow (Friday). If Penny is close to heat then they might have some sexytime. If not, then we will wait until she comes into heat and try again. And try to explain to my children what is going on. Nothing like having a farm to help with "the talk".

On a more "G" rated note, we are still totally loving Felicity's milk. So much so that I'm having a hard time setting aside any milk for cheese. I have started freezing the milk we get every third day. She still gives about 1/4 gal a day  so we are just barely keeping up with what we drink. I'm thinking about getting a third goat (or maybe forth if I can talk my husband into it) so that we have more milk to do other things with like cheese and ice cream. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

And, she is....

NOT pregnant. 

Which is good and bad. Good because timing is much, much better to breed Penny now and have kids about the time Felicity's milk starts to dry up. It gives us a better chance at having a consistent milk supply. Bummer because, well, kids are always fun. And now we have to deal with the whole breeding process.

My job now is to try to figure out when Penny goes into heat and get her over to the buck. I'm told it is a fairly quick process, so I will take her and let them have their sexytime and then bring her home with me. 

This is the buck that we are planning on breeding her to:

His name is Tempo. You can find out more about him here. Isn't he cute?

Other things happening on the farm...

The green parts of my potatoes were dying/gone so I decided to open up the cylinder early, and was pleasantly surprised. We have some beautiful potatoes. I will try to do a post on how we grew our potatoes. I've learned a bunch and will do it different next year, but still in the wire cylinder. We have 4 kinds of potatoes. The Russets were on the bottom and didn't grow as well, so we have a hand full of small ones. Then the Red potatoes. They did better. The Blue potatoes were next with the Yukon Gold at the top of the cylinder. The Yukon Gold did the best because they didn't have to deal with so much water early on. Next year I will have way more straw and a way to cover it for the early rain and more water for the later summer. Next year it will also be in a sunnier spot that is not a walk way. I couldn't really move the potatoes when we decided to get goats and the potatoes were right by the gate for the goats (bad for both walking by and goats munching potato plants). Bad planning, but nothing I could do about it this year.

We went ahead and pulled our carrots too. I did not thin them enough and so they were starting to bolt (flower) but did not have anymore room to grow underground. Next year we should get a better crop of carrots (now that I know how much they really, really do need to be thinned!). We planted purple, white, red and round. 

The chickens are slowly being allowed out of their coop after their disciplinary grounding. The first day I let them out they just ran around the yard, they were so happy. I leave them in to lay until about 2pm then they can free range until 5pm or so. Then they go back into the coop. So far, so good. It took them several days to start laying in the nesting boxes, but now they are doing well. Also, the chicken that was laying sans shell is now fully shelled. We are getting an average of 4 eggs a day. Never as much as 6, but we will get 5 eggs a day every now and then. It's possible that we still have one that isn't laying. But, since we are keeping up with what our family is eating I'm happy. We have also been able to share a few out to neighbors and family.

I recently saw a video of Jean-Georges making scrambled eggs. Best. Eggs. Ever! You MUST try them.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The one in which my goat faints...

What's going on here at our farmlette?

I know I haven't shown our CSA for the last couple of weeks. I suck at consistency. My kids can tell you all about it (but I'm really good at spontaneity - and using big words that I think I'm pretty sure I know the definition to, mostly).

This is our CSA from today:
We have kale (for juicing), lettuce (I specifically picked a small head this week since we have had so much lettuce lately), green beans, cabbage (I want to try this recipe), red beets (not sure exactly what I'm going to do with these yet. I want to try some in juice and I want to try some beet chips), blueberries (they are going into the freezer for cornmeal blueberry pancakes and muffins this winter), yellow squash (some ideas), carrots, and more kohlrabi (I want to try this soup).

I also picked up 2 boxes of peaches. Each box is just under 20 pounds. I will freeze them for this winter. Drop them into boiling water for about 20 seconds then pop them into an ice water bath. The skins slip right off. I cut them in half, remove the pit and line them on a baking pan/cookie sheet to flash freeze them in our deep freezer. When they are frozen they go into large ziploc bags and will keep all year.

What's new with our goats?

I got to learn how to draw blood this week. I have loads of experience! I have had a ton of blood drawn from me and seen it done on animals. I've never actually drawn blood before. So I did the only logical thing, I went to YouTube.

The first try I realized that I did not have the right needles. Hmmm, not so. I did not have the right needles for me, the complete and utter novice. The vet supply store had given me the double sided needles (for those who know what they are doing). I needed the single needle with the syringe. So back I went. Got the right supplies and tried again the next night.

After watching several videos on YouTube (and making my husband watch several with me) we headed out to get Penny. All I can say is, poor poor Penny. It is pretty terrible being the one that is the object of the learning experience for drawing blood. After about 10 needle stabs (really it felt like 50), I finally got blood. Ok, so that makes it sound better than it was. I got blood - twice. I needed 3cc of blood. The first time I got 1cc and she got away (oops). Good thing I got extra syringes! After lots more stabbing I got another 2cc. I combined them into one vial and called it good. Like I said, poor poor Penny. I can say that she got extra love and extra feed so she is doing good now and surprisingly, not sore.

In the process I succeeded in causing my goat to faint (didn't know that was even possible). She is not supposed to be a fainting goat. I'm not sure what I did wrong. Or, more specifically, what of the many things I did wrong that caused her to actually faint. It could be that I stabbed her numerous times in the neck with a sharp needle (that would do it to me). Most likely it has to do with where I was holding the pressure on her neck to get the "vein to pop up". I was either holding on too long and not allowing blood to her brain or holding at the wrong place and not allowing her to breath. Either way, not good. I went back to YouTube to watch the video again.

I did finally get the needed 3cc of blood. Got it packaged, labeled and dropped it off at UPS to go to the lab. Next Wednesday we should find out if Penny is pregnant. I give it a 50/50 chance. She was loosing weight (which she needed to), but now is no longer loosing and seems to be gaining a little bit. So, maybe?

If she is not pregnant she will have a romantic visit with a buck this month. If she is pregnant we will plan on kids around the mid to end of October.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


My chickens have been grounded. After listening to them go on and on today like they were laying eggs, I found no eggs in the nesting boxes. So I went searching. And found a nest under the house. With 10! eggs.

Damn chickens.

Now they are grounded to their run until I see some better choices in laying location. If this doesn't work I might try a time out. That seems to work for my kids anyway.

I also have one chicken that is laying eggs without a shell. Most of the time she lays in the coop and it gets broken before we get out to it. I found one this week that was still intact. As you can see from the picture, it is basically the membrane surrounding the white and the yolk. Everything but the shell. It's like holding a water balloon.

Monday, August 6, 2012

And Then There Were Three - Again.

We finally figured out what was the problem with Bella's milk. Yes, it is the legumes that are causing an increase in the enzymes in the milk. We were able to keep the milk slightly longer, but it's really hard to keep her totally off legumes.

Soooooo, here is our solution:

Meet, Felicity. Our newest goat. Isn't she a cutie? Plus, her milk is really, really good. So good in fact, that my kids have started turning their noses up at our regular cow milk. The $9 a gallon milk that we have loved for the last two years! We are getting about 4 cups (or 2 pounds) of milk from her a day. That is enough that I was able drop the cow share that we have been a part of. We were going to a local raw milk dairy. We are now producing enough for our family right here at our house.

Our original plan was to get two Nigerian Dwarf goats. So really we are just returning to our original plan. We have sold Finley (and have Bella up for sale) and are trying to get down to our two goat limit. It is super sad to see Finley go, but I really don't want to hang around another 15 months to find out that she has the same problems with her milk that Bella has. I keep reminding myself that they are farm animals, not pets.

It helps, too, that we are in the process of breeding Penny for babies again in early February. Well, we hope we are breeding Penny. She is providing yet another farm learning experience. If you remember, back in May when we bought her I left her with a Buck for a week or so. The breeder never saw any "action" and never saw Penny come into heat. We assumed that she was not bred. The problem comes now that I am planning out our milk supply. I have not seen her come into heat since she has been here. Usually for goats it's every 21 days or so. We should have seen several heat cycles. Not so. Is she bred? I get to learn how to draw blood for a pregnancy test. If negative then we send her to a buck within the next month. If positive then we plan for babies mid to late October.

Either way, I have to do the pregnancy test. If I wait until October to see if anything happens then it will be too late to breed her to have continuous milk production. Oh, the trials and tribulations of raising goats for milk. ;-)

Oh, and did you wonder how the cheese turned out? It was horrible. Way too strong with Bella's milk. We will try again with Felicity's milk. I have great hopes.

Saturday, July 28, 2012



Here are the beautiful eggs we have collected over the last several days. Aren't they fun?

We still can't keep our goat milk fresh for more than 24-36 hours. It is so frustrating. Gah!

I am trying more new things with the goats, but it is a slow process. After much research and talking with goat owners (local and across the interweb - who knew there were goat forums?!) it seems that alfalfa causes an increase in the enzyme that is in goat milk that makes the milk "goaty". With most goats it is fine, but with some it causes so much that it changes the flavor of the milk. I found one other owner that had the same problem with her milk that I am having with mine. It was fine at milking, but had a short shelf life. Luckily she also had another goat she was milking that did not have that problem. I am pulling Bella off of alfalfa hay and only giving her timothy hay and her grain. Maybe we will get better milk by the end of next week. *fingers crossed!

On a positive note, since I need that "goaty" flavor to make chevre I've been saving the milk that starts to turn and now have enough to make my first batch of cheese. I feel so down-homey.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Trouble in Paradise

We were bound to have troubles along the journey of suburban farming.

We can't keep our milk fresh and sweet for more than 24 hours. Goat milk should stay good for at least a week. We have noticed that after 36 hours it is getting a distinct goaty flavor. It's like drinking chevre cheese. Great flavor for cheese, not great for milk.

We are trying some new milk collection/storage strategies. From what I have found out, it is the enzymes in the milk (which multiply at room temperature) that give the milk that goaty/sour flavor. The goal is to cool the milk as fast as possible to keep the enzymes from multiplying.

So far we have tried putting the milk into the refrigerator, but that doesn't cool it fast enough. We have also tried putting it into the freezer for an hour and then into the refrigerator, but that still seems to allow too much enzyme activity.

There is also the remote possibility that Bella's milk is just that way and that we would find a different goat's milk to be better. Unfortunately, we aren't going to wait the 5 months it will take for Penny to have a baby just to see if we can keep her milk longer.

We are trying new ideas to make having goats work for us.

Our two experiments right now are: #1 to put the jar of milk into a cold water bath immediately upon bringing it in.

And #2, to freeze the milk to completely stop the enzyme activity.

We collected milk on Saturday that we put into the freezer and froze solid. Then put that milk into the refrigerator to defrost. It did not get completely liquid until today. And the flavor is good this afternoon. But in reality it has had very little time in it's liquid state. I will be more encouraged if it is still good in two days.

The milk we collected on Sunday evening was put into an ice water bath for an hour then into the fridge. It also tastes good this afternoon, but not super sweet. I don't have great hopes for it. I will test it again in the morning.

*fingers crossed!

Friday, July 20, 2012


Our CSA this week:

Across the top are a few extra things I purchased from the farm store. Raw honey (so much better flavor than store bought and healthier too), Fava Beans (those will go into falafel again this week! Follow link for the recipe that I use, though with fresh fava beans I find I have to add a bit of flour to make everything stick together better for frying. - I will do a post soon on making tzatziki sauce) and ginger (so yummy in our fresh juice).

Our share this week consisted of (top left): baby broccoli (we like this better than the regular broccoli heads, we find it more tender. We eat it lightly steamed or raw), Walla Walla sweet onion (will go into the falafel), snap peas (we snap the end and eat them raw as a snack), carrots, cherries (makes a good afternoon snack), yellow summer squash (you can barely see it peeking out on the left, we often saute it in a bit of butter adding seasoned bread crumbs toward the end of cooking), kale (into the juicer!), lettuce (huge head of lettuce will make several salads), and raspberries (if I can keep them around until Saturday they will be the filling for crepes).

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Tree

We have had a huge beautiful fir tree. It stood just on the edge of our lot and gave our backyard loads of shade. It was probably 70-80 feet tall.

We needed to take it down. Aside from its beauty, it also offered loads of stress each and every time we got any kind of a wind storm. It would bend dangerously toward our house. It also dropped lots of pine cones on our yard and sap on our neighbor's boat. So, for the safety of our home (and neighborly relations) we went ahead with the plan to have it taken down.

Our neighbor knew a guy who knew a guy who is a lumberjack. We chatted with him because we had some concerns about dropping it across our backyard because of our septic system and our desire to not break any part of the septic tank or field. But the guy was AMAZING! I've never watched anything like it. First he cut all of the branches and dropped them down. Some he had to lower with ropes. He was so good he could lower them to the spot he wanted them and even lay them down the direction he wanted them pointing. Here he has just started with the smaller lower branches.

Then, he topped it. We asked how far up he figured he was and his guess was 60 feet. I'm so glad it wasn't me!

Here it is with no branches just after topping it. Yes, that is his chainsaw swinging as he started on his way back down cutting sections as he went. We had a muggy, slightly overcast morning. Sorry for the bland, light gray background.

Then he dropped pieces that were about 6-8 feet. This was what I was most impressed by. He would cut through the tree and then push the piece off and as it started to fall he would move it just slightly and he could get it to drop in the exact place he wanted it. The pictures so doesn't do it justice. Those pieces were so heavy they needed two men to roll them after they hit the ground. Here is just after one started to fall. They landed with a huge thud.

Here it is all down and ready for loads of work clearing. The guy cut all the sections into firewood length for us. Now, all we have to do is split it. We will not have to buy firewood until 2030!

My husband counted the rings and figured that the tree was about 120 years old. Here you can see on the other side of the fence where our neighbor has tried to cover his boat with a tarp. We get some pretty vicious wind storms through here and he has had a tough time keeping the tree from messing up his boat.

We (of course) kept all the animals penned up for the morning. After the tree was down we let the chickens and goats check it all out. Finley had a blast jumping from stump to stump. A few stumps were big enough to give her a challenge.

The side benefit of taking down the tree is that our yard will get quite a bit more sunlight. Including our garden which wasn't getting any afternoon sun. Hopefully things will grow better (and faster) now.

Monday, July 16, 2012


What's new on the farm?


We have eggs! 

The chickens turned 20 weeks old on Thursday. That is the magic age that they start laying. Or, more specifically, when they could start laying. We got our first egg on Friday and then another two on Saturday. Those golf balls did their job too. both chickens laid their eggs in the nesting box instead of us having to wonder around the yard looking for eggs.

Here is a picture of our very first egg. You can't really tell from the picture but it is a green egg. It's more olive green and still pretty small. The eggs will get bigger as the chickens get a bit older.

Here is a picture of the two eggs we got on Saturday. Once a chicken starts laying her eggs will always be the same color. So here is another green egg from the same chicken that gave us an egg on Friday and a brown egg from a different chicken. These chickens should lay 6 eggs a week, roughly one a day. But they lay every 26-28 hours or so. So, they lay later each day until they skip a day. With our 6 chickens that should be 3 dozen eggs a week. Or so I've read. Hopefully it will work out that way.

Please ignore my dirty hands, it's tree sap. More about that to come in a different post.

Also, Finley is old enough now that she can share the milk. We are taping Bella during the day to milk in the evenings. Then leaving her open so Finley can have milk in the evenings and at night (and since I'm not an early riser, in the mornings too). Basically she is taped from 9am until 6pm.

We have doubled our milk collection to about 4 cups a day. So far that is keeping up with what the family is using. Though, we don't really have extra for cooking or making cheese (or ice cream - I hear that goat milk ice cream is awesome). When we wean Finley in 3 weeks or so, we should get around 8 cups of milk a day, maybe more. I'm really looking forward to making my own chevre cheese.

Here is poor Bella on the first day I taped her. I have since picked up plain white bandage tape, but for a day she was sporting Spiderman and Star Wars bandaids. It was nice of my son to share his beloved bandaids.

Surprisingly Bella doesn't seem to mind the taping (or the tape removal).

I have made some changes to the way I process the milk. Not so much process it as handle it. We love the taste, but were finding that it wasn't as good a taste 36 hours after milking. Not that it went bad, it just ended up with a more of a goaty flavor (if you've had goat milk from the store you know the flavor). After talking with a few other goat people they said to put it in the freezer for an hour or so to chill it really fast. Now the milk is sweeter and stays that way. We don't know for how long because it's gone too soon. My kids have taking to asking specifically for goat milk instead of cow milk. The people I've talked with say it should stay sweet for a week if you chill it fast enough. I have been told that if I want that tangy chevre taste with my cheese I will need to let the milk age past the sweet stage or I won't get that unique chevre taste. I can't wait to try!

It is nice that our little farm is more than just work and is starting to produce now too. I feel like we have entered a new phase. That we are past the start-up phase and now just have to focus on keeping things running.

Friday, July 13, 2012


This is our CSA share from yesterday. If you missed last week, CSA info can be found here

This week we got (clockwise from top left) parsley, a Walla Walla sweet onion (another reason to live in Washington! The best onions), raspberries, snap peas (very good raw - just snap the top end off), bok choy (will go either in the juicer or in a stir fry), Rainier cherries, lettuce (already used part of it on hamburgers last night), kohl rabi, green garlic, and kale (definitely into the juicer!).

The CSA that we go to also has a small farm store that CSA members get a discount at. They carry extra produce, honey, bread, etc. I bought some fava beans (bottom left in the mesh bag) and garlic (We LOVE this type of garlic it's Red Chesnok and the flavor is awesome).

I bought the fava beans to make falafel. They take some extra processing, but oh, so worth it! The parsley will go into the falafel along with cilantro from my own garden.

Eat Fresh!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Helper

Finley helping my husband weed around the grapevines.

Thursday, July 5, 2012


A few years ago we started with a CSA. Basically a CSA is a farm or group of farms that sell shares in the beginning of the season and you pick up produce weekly. We bought a small share from a local CSA, Terrys Berries. Cost varies between farms. Ours averages out to about $19/week. 

I have tried several CSAs in the area and I have come back to this one. I like that they are strictly organic and they grow almost everything on site.

The first year I had a lot of waste. I had no idea what some of the veggies were nor did I have any clue how to use them. They sat in the refrigerator and slowly went bad before I could figure out what to do with them. Now, I am learning, slowly. There is a lot of experimenting around here during CSA season! My goal is to use everything. And, so far we are doing pretty good.

I had wanted to start blogging when we started the Summer season. We are already a few weeks into the it, so I'm a bit behind, but here is this weeks CSA small share:

Starting at the top left: chard (will be used in my juicer), chives, bok choy (will be in stir fry tonight), kohlrabi (purple ball - great peeled and sliced and dipped in ranch), garlic sprouts (you can barely see them they are between the kohlrabi and the lettuce - I will use them like garlic, the greens are usable too), lettuce

In the mesh bags (I finally got my own reusable bags and I really like them): Rainier cherries (best cherries ever - my kids will eat the entire 1/2 pound that we got before the sun sets today. If I'm lucky I will get a few too) and snap peas.

Finally, a monster amount of spinach. That will go into everything from juice and smoothies to salads.

The early part of the share is heavy on the greens. And, since it is just starting to warm up here in the Pacific NW, we are still in the "greens season".  In the last several weeks we have had asparagus, some apples, strawberries, plus lots of greens.

I've learned that if I put in some time to wash and prep everything then we have a greater chance of using it before it spoils. I have a tub that I put water with a little vinegar in. Everything gets dipped in the vinegar bath, rinsed, and then into containers (gladware/tupperware type) in the fridge. It's easy to pull out and use for snacks and meals. Since I'm not naturally organized this has been a challenge. I'm learning that too.

Also on the farm, MILK!!

We are finally able to milk Bella and keep it to use. We are not getting much each day, about 1-2 Cups. But, that's pretty good since we have not started to wean Finley yet and so we are just getting what is left over after she eats.

We have found that the taste is excellent. Lighter and sweeter than the raw cow milk that we are currently drinking. Also, the color is whiter due to the way the cream reflects the light. The kids even prefer the goat milk over the cow milk.

Here is our 10 oz. that we got last night.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Ready For Eggs

Our chickens are starting to get to the age where we will be keeping our eyes open for eggs. Though they will hit their 20 week mark in a few weeks, I figured I would go ahead and get their nesting boxes ready now (just in case). 

For awhile they were all trying to sleep in the nesting boxes (more specifically, they were all trying to sleep in one nesting box, together), so I put up a couple of boards up to block them out.

We are using the deep litter method for the bedding and I have yet to need to clean it out since they moved into it the first part of March. When I do I can simply pop out the two boards that go across the back and scoop everything out into our compost bin.

Here is the back of our chicken coop with the door open. You can see the nesting boxes on the left side wall. The top opens for easy access to gather eggs. A huge thank-you to my dear hubby and his dad for building this awesome chicken coop. We used the plans from here with a few alterations. They also have windows that I can put in for cold weather and take out for hot weather. And, as with all our "farm" buildings, I painted it to match our house. All in all, I really like this coop.

Here is a view of the nesting boxes. First I needed to caulk the edges of the bottoms of the boxes, then I took off the boards, put hay in and added a golf ball. I've heard that adding either a plastic egg or a golf ball will give the chickens the idea of what needs to happen there. We will see, I've noticed a marked lack of brains in our hens.

Hopefully real eggs will join the golf balls soon! At $6/doz. the local farm eggs are making me glad we got our own little flock this year.

Friday, June 22, 2012


What's happening around the farm these days?

Now that Finley is over a week old it was time for a few changes to the goat enclosure. I had straw down as bedding for the delivery. Straw is great for delivering, mainly because it's nice and clean. Unfortunately it doesn't stay nice for very long. Especially in the rain. So I connected with a very nice lady in Seattle that also raises goats (you can find her here. Also, her book comes out this Fall, look for it). She uses arborist chips, but also suggested hog fuel.

For those of you not surrounded by logging companies, hog fuel is the bark and whatnot that comes off of the trees when they are stripped and ready for cutting into planks. So, being the Pacific NW with lots of logging here, there is plenty of hog fuel to be found.

So off I went to find a local supplier. I got 2 cubic yards dumped into the back of my truck. Dang, hog fuel is hard to move. And, that handle sticking up? Not a shovel. I could not actually get the shovel in like that. That right there is a pitch fork.

One of the drawbacks of suburban farming is not necessarily getting to choose the location of various house components. Like, say for instance, our septic system. Our back yard is a good size and we are lucky enough to have a double gate on one side that we can drive through. But, between that gate and everything else in our backyard runs our septic system. Which we are not supposed to drive over. I was sorely tempted to drive that truck across the yard, but knew that if I cracked our septic pipes no amount of saved labor would be worth having to dig it up to replace those particular pipes (or to have to face my husband with what I had done!).

Hog fuel doesn't shovel nicely. But, it got moved and dumped in with the goats. Who went to town right away tasting it to see if it was edible.

Here is Penny hanging out in the goat house because it is raining and she might melt if she gets wet.

Here is all the hog fuel carted across the yard and dumped one wheel barrow at a time into the goat area. On a side note, you can also see my kitchen window. I get to watch the goats while I do dishes. Oh, the benefits of suburban farming.

Most goats are born with the genes for horns (some are naturally polled - fancy for "they will never grow horns"). We have made the choice to have the horns removed on any goat kids born here. We (meaning mostly me with a nod from the hubby) did some research and believe that in the long run it will be better for everyone. 

So I toted Finley off to the vet. The disbudding (removal of the horn bud) procedure consists of burning off the bud. Quick, painful, and worth it. Here is Finley's burned spots. The hair will grow back soon. She snuggled with me all the way home, but otherwise doesn't seem to notice anything has changed and the spots aren't tender to the touch.

I am planning on getting my own disbudding iron for the next round of kids, but I wanted to see it done first before trying it on my own. The vet was great and explained what I needed to know to do it myself.

Here are a few more shots of Finley just for fun.

Finley found the kid's play fort and decided it was great fun. Too bad I didn't get a picture of her trying to climb up the slide.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Bella had her baby on Sunday evening. And, it's a girl!

Meet Finley! 

It was quite exciting. Sunday morning I got up and checked Bella and found that she had "lost" her ligaments. There are two ligaments that run diagonally from just above the tail. When those loosen enough that you can no longer feel them then delivery will be within 24 hours. So I got my kit and pulled up a chair. And waited, and waited, and waited. She was showing signs of early labor off and on all day until about 5pm when her stage 2 labor started and she was ready to deliver.

My concern was that Bella would only have one kid thus making for a larger baby for her first delivery. Unfortunately I was right. When a doe kids you want to see little hooves first followed quickly by a nose (or two back feet). We only saw a little nose. The baby's feet were tucked back. I gave her a few minutes to see if she was going to be able to deliver, but it appeared that the baby was stuck. I was able to go in and find one foot and gently pull that one forward, but I couldn't find the other front foot. The foot was straight back. A doe can deliver that way and Bella probably could have delivered if it had been twins (because chances are they would have been smaller), but with the baby being bigger her shoulder was caught on Bella's pelvic bone. I ended up sliding my hand along the top of Finley and down over her shoulder during a contraction and dislodging the shoulder and allowing her to slide on out.

There were a few tense moments, but it was wonderful to see a healthy baby doeling slide out and see Bella get right to work cleaning her up. Bella was a little bit of an overzealous mom. All she did was lick Finley and Finley couldn't get close enough to eat. We had to hold Bella to let Finley eat the first couple of times. They have now both settled in and are doing well now.

Here are some pictures of the delivery (*warning, they are a bit graphic)...

Here I am trying to find the feet

Here I've found one foot and the head is out. We couldn't get past this point until I dislodged the shoulder.

Here is Bella cleaning up Finley. I dried off the major goo and cleaned up around the nose and mouth, but let Bella do the rest. It was a nice warm sunny day, so I wasn't worried about Finley getting too cold in the process. 

First time up on her feet! It was hard to stand with that much licking from mom.

Holding Bella while Finley got her first drink.

My mom and her husband were over for the big event. The original plan was to let the kids watch, but when the birth didn't go as planned my Mom took the kids inside and kept them busy (Thanks, Mom!) until we were sure that everything was going to turn out ok. Here is my son meeting Finley for the first time.

Finley at 2 hours old.

The plan is to keep Finley and breed her when she gets close to 1 year old. After all that work I don't think I could sell her anyway. She is exactly what we wanted (and she has ears!)