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!)

The Goats

Meet our two goats, Penelope and Bellatrix.

Penelope (Penny) is full Nigerian Dwarf and Bellatrix (Bella) is a mix. She is 1/2 Nigerian Dwarf, 1/4 Nubian, and 1/4 Lamancha (from which she gets her lack of ears).

Side story on how Bella got her name. We tried a ton of different names for her but couldn't settle on one so she remained unnamed. My son and I are currently reading through the Harry Potter series. Those of you who have read it or seen the movies might recognize the name. Bella came to be known as she-who-has-not-been-named. Since we couldn't bring ourselves to name her Voldemort we decided on the next best one, Bellatrix.

The original plan was to get two Nigerian Dwarf does. Well, actually, the original plan was to get one doe, but it seems that goats do not like to be only children. I have been wanting a goat for awhile. Why? Honestly, I have no idea. Maybe it goes along with my personality trait that likes to say shocking things just to get a reaction from people. Goats are different and unique. And strange. Especially in the fact that we live in a neighborhood. We are the only farm on the block.

For my husband it was much more like boiling a frog in a pot. I had voiced my desire to get a goat but never thought it would happen. And, he was PERFECTLY FINE THANK YOU VERY MUCH that it would never happen. Until, one day at work, someone mentioned the fact that there were goats about to give birth and the kids would be needing homes. He made the mistake of showing a little interest and getting me the contact info. Those goats didn't work out for us, but they certainly broke the ice.

So, off to Craigslist I went. I found this super-cute 2 year old Nigerian Dwarf doe (Penny) for sale, and after purchasing her I left her at the farm to be bred. Penny hung around there for a couple of weeks, but no action was happening between her and the buck. I was going to leave her longer. Unfortunately the timing of bringing the two goats home didn't quite coincide.

With my inability to stay well and clear of all things goat on Craigslist, I found a bred 1 year old that caught my eye. So I drug my sister-in-law with me to take a look (thanks, Kim!). Bella is due to kid any day (more specifically, she was due yesterday). On a side note, it just might kill me. All this waiting and checking and waiting and checking and waiting.

Here is a pick of the very pregnant Bella taken on her due date (yesterday. Hear that Bella? Yesterday. Get with it girl!).

Bella came home Friday and by Sunday we decided that we NEEDED to have another goat with her. She was only quiet when someone was with her. For our sanity, and the need to have happy neighbors, we went to pick up a non-bred Penny.

The plan is to milk them. We will start a few weeks after Bella gives birth and hopefully she will milk for a solid 9 months. This is her first freshening (fancy goat term for giving birth), so we don't know how great a milker she will be yet. Nigerian Dwarf is a dwarf breed (duh), but Nubian and Lamancha are both full size goat breed that give more milk than a dwarf (because they are bigger. Rocket science isn't it). We are hoping to get 1/2 - 3/4 gallon of milk a day from Bella. Penny should give around  1/4 - 1/2 gallon a day. We will probably breed her for a baby early next year so that our milk supply is constant.

Bella has been bred to a Nigerian Dwarf buck. So the baby(s) will be 3/4 Nigerian Dwarf, 1/8 each Nubian and Lamancha. I admit, I'm hoping for ears on the kids. ;-) Here is a pic of the buck.

He's kinda cute, as far as bucks go.

Since we are doing this on a normal neighborhood lot we have had to get somewhat creative for housing. We picked the side yard directly out my kitchen window for the goat run. Here it is before any work. You can see my trash can compost bin. This is also the area where the bunny hutch is and the first of my raised garden beds and my potato bed (?) bin (?). Whatever. The thing I'm growing my potatoes in this year.

Here it is the day we brought Bella home. I found a huge dog house (again, thanks to Craigslist) that I painted up to match all the rest of our buildings. It works great for the two goats.

My wonderful husband has recently taught me how to use all our power tools, so between us we put in quite a usable gate.

Here is the front of the dog-house-turned-goat-house. I opened up the opening for the door (power tools - whoo hoo!) and added an extra hay area above for some rainy day munching.

There you have it. Our goat adventure begins. 

Soon to come, baby goat pictures (if she ever gets on the stick and delivers!)

Suburban Farming

Our little farm is really taking off. Our chickens are happy and healthy. They love running around the yard. We live on 1/3 acre so we have a good sized back yard. Now that the chickens have explored around they pretty much stay in the back half of the back yard. It took me about a week of chasing them off of my porch before they got the idea and now they rarely come up to the house. Unless the kids have some sort of treat and the chickens are looking for a hand out. We have really noticed that there are way fewer bugs this spring. We are pretty sure it is thanks to the chickens.

This last weekend we picked out a goat! Penelope (we will probably call her Penny) is a 2 year old Nigerian Dwarf doe. She is currently staying at the place that we bought her from to be bred. Hopefully she will go into heat soon and take on the first cycle and we can bring her home at the end of June. Otherwise they will keep her another month and try again. This will be her first time as a mama. If all works out as we are hoping that we will have kids around the first of November and we will be able to start milking her.

This last week I went by the natural foods store and picked up a small container of raw goats milk and did a blind taste test for my family. We couldn't tell the difference between our regular cows milk and the goat milk. That bodes well for getting my family to switch over to the goat milk. We are currently paying $9 (!) a gallon for local raw jersey cow milk. So, we should be able to break even with our goat. That's the hope anyway.

I've been told that we need to keep 2 goats for them to be happy. We are going to try the one and see how it goes. If she has a hard time adjusting then we will get her a friend sooner. Otherwise we will plan on keeping one of the kids next Fall.

I am finding that I am a farm girl at heart. I am loving the changes around the "homestead". I am also finding that while I am fairly natural with the animals and feel very confident with their care my thumb is not quite as green as I would like it to be. We are trying square foot gardening this year in our first raised bed. Our plan is to continue with the CSA through this summer and hope that next summer we can raise all our own veggies.

We are trying to stay with heirloom seeds that we can harvest the seeds and reuse them next year. Lofty ambitions! So in our backyard we have red and gold raspberries, potatoes (yukon gold, russet, red, and blue - planted in a round wire cylinder - see above photo), rainbow carrots, lettuce mix, herbs, cucumbers, and tomatoes (still inside until we get some more warmth). We may even get some grapes off our vines this year. We will see. My husband and my mom's husband (thanks Ray!) are in the process of building an arbor over our patio for the grapes. Our vines have taken a beating, so I'm not sure how well they will come back this year. But we do have a couple of buds, so we are hopeful.

Spring is here! And Summer is just around the corner. I am so excited about this season.


A few weeks ago we got baby chicks. They were about 24 hours old when we brought them home.

There will be more pictures coming as we start on this adventure. But, for today I wanted to share the cuteness.