Sunday, November 27, 2016
Jojo and Buster are best buddies! Unfortunately, in this picture, I chopped Buster's head off. Oops! I was sitting on the couch this morning reading a book. Buster came along and sat as close to me as he could without being on top of me. I think Jojo wanted to get in on the action, she came across the couch and proceeded to sit on Buster's head and get comfy. Buster wiggled out from under Jojo a bit but let her lay on top of him for a cuddle with me. That my friends is love!!
Friday, October 21, 2016
Sunday, October 16, 2016
In addition to new adventures with the girls. Hay Bales & Horse Tales, the Colorado Horsecare Foodbank's annual silent auction ramps up in September. Weeks of getting and entering auction donations filled my spare time until it our amazing event on October 14. Hay Bales this year was amazing!
Now, life quiets down a bit. The auction is over. The rugby tournaments are a little closer to home. I can finally take a deep breath and recenter myself.
Wednesday, June 29, 2016
I love having livestock guardian dogs (LGD) out with the goats and chickens. I haven't lost a goat or a wayward chicken since I added my first LGD 2 years ago. At the moment I have three wonderful dogs looking after the livestock, of the three, Denali is the only pup allowed to roam freely. With a large number of dogs in the house, poo clean up is a constant battle. The dog run and Sunny's spot are easy to clean, but since Denali has lots of room to roam I have to search hers out. I know gross!! Here's the interesting fact, Denali poops along the fence line. I know, strange, but true!! She's marking this territory as hers. In the land of fox, coyote, bear, and mountain lions Denali is not so politely letting them know not to mess with her charges. It seems to be working!
Thursday, June 2, 2016
Last August, my dear sweet Pearl gave birth to seven adorable pups, 5 girls and 2 boys. I have kept in touch with all of the owners, but one. It has been fun to watch these babies grow and mature into loving intelligent dogs. I figured all was well with everyone until I got a message that one of the pups along with his goat herd had been sold to someone new.
I have to admit I am very protective of this brood. Maybe it's because Pearl is no longer with us, or maybe it's because I've been with these pups since minutes after birth. It saddened me to hear that one of my precious babies had gone somewhere else. In a strange turn of events my wayward son has returned to his home and his original name, Ghost.
Of all the pups Ghost was the last one I'd worry about. He went to a local dog breeder who was getting into goats so she could have milk for her puppies. She wanted a livestock guardian dog (LGD) to protect her new goat herd, and the dogs she bred did not make good LGD. In my mind, a dog breeder and trainer was the perfect fit for a young pup. Oh, how wrong I was!
Ghost was put in a pen with the goats and left, no training, no attention, no correction. Granted training LGD is different from training your typical house dog, but they still need to learn basic commands and to not bite their charges.
The breeder realized that goats were more work than she had bargained for and sold the group. The new owner did work with Ghost but had challenges of her own. Purchasing a goat herd complete with a young buck is not for the weak, and if you're new to goats brings all sorts of unforeseen challenges. Add in an untrained LGD into the mix can be quite overwhelming. After an "incident" with Ghost and another LGD breed, I was contacted to come get my boy. It was a snap decision for me, I love all of these pups, and Ghost being one of the two white pups was a favorite.
Now, sweet Ghost is HOME!! He is a love, very mellow. We are working on tuning up his training and slowly reintroducing him to goats. At this point with his lack of guidance, I don't trust him with the goats. I'm also training Denali right now, so I don't want to negatively affect her training. Ghost has lots of potential. He's learning how to play with his sister and our other dogs. He is penned next to the goats, so he can see and smell them without any negative outcomes. Ghost gets lots of attention and love now. We are all thrilled our boys is back!!
Wednesday, May 18, 2016
Life has been crazy, and I've been MIA lately. Hey, it's the end of the school year, and I've been bombarded with kid stuff.
That being said while I've been running around like a chicken...well you get the picture I've been thoroughly enjoying my monthly Grove Collaborative orders. I love, love, love anything home delivery! Not having to leave the Ranch to go to the store is a huge plus especially when carpool mom takes up a good chunk of my days. I've gotten some amazing natural cleaning products and because Grove rocks, I've been able to try some amazing products at either low or no cost to me. Although I have a long list of favorite products two really stick out: the Grove Collaborative extra-large kitchen towel and the Grove Collaborative walnut scrubber sponge. I literally order the sponges EVERY month. They're super durable and last longer than any other sponge I use. I needed new kitchen towels when I placed my first order, 4 kids and a hubby who cooks can be hard on anything. They are super absorbent, huge, and pretty, something every mama loves.
Not only am I getting sustainable products delivered to my home, but Grove actually has a customer service department that responds quickly and makes me feel like I'm the only customer they have. I high recommend these guys! Check them out and find some product faves of your own!
Sunday, May 8, 2016
Saturday, April 9, 2016
|The buck pen, AKA "San Quentin."|
Sunday, April 3, 2016
|Lazy Sunday afternoon! Sunny and Denali|
Herding can be a rewarding activity for dog and handler, an activity that brings back the heritage of the Bernese Mountain Dog. The Bernese, an all-purpose farm dog from the heart of chocolate- and cheese-producing rural Switzerland, historically and to this day helps in the daily chores of these alpine farms. Duties such as rotating stock among pastures, bringing dairy cows and goats in twice daily for milking, supervising grazing and guarding the farm were among the daily chores. Aiding in the delivery of livestock, milk, cream, and eggs to market were among the weekly duties. The skills required for some of these duties were also in demand by drovers routinely delivering cattle to town markets and by butchers moving livestock around their stockyards. Many Bernese are still performing some of these duties today. Many others possess the ability to work with and around livestock, even if only as hobby herders.*
I've found that crossing a Great Pyrenees with a Bernese Mountain Dog has created a loving, intelligent guard dog. Despite Sunny's love for fence hopping, he is incredibly easy to train. He picks up on commands within a few lessons and retains them with lags in his training. Sunny and Pearl's pups are remarkable dogs as well. Jojo would have been a fabulous LGD if I hadn't decided to keep her a house dog. There are some true LGD that actually make terrible guardians. It really is a crap shoot as to what you get. I think the most important lesson to learn is to research dog breeds thoroughly before you add a new dog to the family. This definitely helps find the best breed to fit your needs.
*Compliments of the Bernese Mountain Dog Club of America
Denali joined the Ranch a little over a week ago. In this short period of time, I am seeing amazing potential in her. She may be young, but she is already displaying behaviors sought after in a livestock guardian dog(LGD).
I am realizing that I have trained Pearl and Sunny completely wrong. They were both born on farms, raised with livestock from puppyhood, but they got too much human attention early on. Sunny was even in the house for a while, HUGE mistake!!
Denali is in the pen with my does and their kids. I tried to separate them, but they kept sneaking into each other's sides of the pen. Now my doeling Rosie sleeps with Denali. Most of the time Denali is displaying proper LGD behavior, she sniffs and licks the does. The does correct Denali when she gets a little rough.
Denali's training is taking a very hands-off approach. Even my family has barely had contact with her. I only interact with her when I feed and milk the rest of the critters. I correct her when she's getting a little rough with the goats. The way the pens are set up around the house, I can see most of my pasture through the windows. Other than that, I ignore her. Denali needs to bond with the goats, once that happens I can start obedience training and get her comfortable with the family. So far, so good, but we do have a long road ahead!
Sunday, March 27, 2016
|Pearl resting in the dining room.|
|Downtown Lander, WY|
|Denali on the ride home.|
|Denali and her goats.|
Sunday, March 13, 2016
I'm feeling incredibly blessed. I've been doing a heck of a lot of praying lately. Pearl's passing left my little farm world a bit topsy turvy. The last six months or so have truly been a time of upheaval. Now as the warmer days of spring taunt me, I'm beginning to re-envision the Ranch. I've raised chickens for 8 years now and goats for 3. It's high time I take stock and create a clear set of goals for this crazy dream that needs to become a profitable reality. I've been busy "playing" farm. Currently, my coffee table is piled with various books on goats and farming. I'm researching business plans and niches in my area. Reading, learning, soaking in every little bit of information I can find. I've got plans, BIG plans, but also smart plans. Any decision I make must benefit the Ranch and not put a financial strain on my family. God has been a wealth of knowledge and inspiration during this time as I quietly wait and listen for him. He knows what's best, and he's filling me in on the details. I'm finally listening, I see a bright, bright future ahead. Exciting updates to come!!
Friday, March 11, 2016
Life on the Ranch is ever changing. Weather dictates most of my plans. Life and death are an ever-present reality. With a heavy heart, I am ready to talk about the death of my spirit animal, Pearl. Pearl was a rare jewel: patient, loving, protective, stoic. Never have nor ever will find a dog with her gentle spirit.
February 11, 2016, Pearl crossed the rainbow bridge after a short battle with an aggressive, incurable osteosarcoma or in other words, a really shitty bone cancer. She began to slow down in November, lose weight. At first, I thought she was depressed from lack of attention. For 8 weeks Pearl and her adorable brood of pups were the center of attention. A steady parade of friends came through to pet Pearl and cuddle the pups. I figured her weight loss was caused by a change in food. By the end of November Pearl moved into the house, so I could keep her well fed and warm.
We had good days and bad as time went by. Pearl would put on some weight, but her movement would decline. After I had exhausted everything I knew to do to help her, I called in reinforcements, my farm vet. Blood was taken, medications prescribed, I was hopeful. Then the bloodwork came back negative for all of the diseases we thought she may have. The only odd thing was a low protein level. More bloodwork, more meds, yet she continued to decline. We moved Pearl to the deck, with a dogloo, and a heat lamp. She hated being in the house to the point where she'd literally eat my walls. I wrenched my back shifting her position, trying to get her to move. Pearl stopped moving, she stopped eating, she stopped drinking. I was exhausted and at my whit's end. The vet came out again! This time, we gave her vitamins in hopes that that would jump start her system. My vet and I cried, we knew her time was short. I looked into the soulful eyes of that amazing dog, I told her it was okay to go. I loved her, but she could be healthy, playing in sunny fields with our other dearly departed dogs. I kissed her nose as I always did.
Hubby got home late that fateful night with dinner. As I ate oblivious to my hubby visiting Pearl and retiring upstairs for what seemed like an excessively long time. He came back down and broke the news, Pearl had passed. I gave her permission, I told her it was okay, but it wasn't, she was supposed to get better, I had prayed, I had faith. Sitting in the cold, I stroked her limp body and sobbed.
The next morning her body was wrapped in an old sheet, and placed in the trunk. Next stop for hubby and me, the CSU Veterinary Hospital in Forst Collins for a necropsy. Normally, I love a road trip, but this one was macabre. I was a mess, every little thing brought me to tears. To make matters worse the pathology department was at the very back of the amazing veterinary hospital next to the dumpsters. How could I leave my beautiful, special girl near dumpsters? I did it! I kissed her good bye one last time and let the pathologists do their job. I needed answers, I needed to know what killed my young, vibrant dog. We were barely on the road after a somber meal, when my vet called with news. The preliminary report, an aggressive osteosarcoma which probably began in her rib cage.
The days that followed brought more reports and more answers. An incredibly aggressive bone cancer began to form sometime in November. The evil beast grew and spread at an alarming rate. We would have never found the cancer, it was completely untreatable, and due to her young age it was NOT genetic. It was a cruel twist of fate. Pearlie was a once in a lifetime dog. I was blessed to have had her in my life. She is greatly missed! I thank God every day for her daughter, Jojo. Jojo is a little piece of her mom, a tangible piece I can hug. Pearl may have left her family, but her legacy lives on.
Sunday, March 6, 2016
|Boo eating puppy food.|
I know that dogs and cats have different nutritional requirements, but it would make some much simpler if there was a universal pet food for both. My dogs would scarf down a bowl of cat food at the first opportunity. Cookie, my cocker spaniel, follows me into the bathroom to get cat food snacks from the bowls on top of the dryer.
|Marmalade licking the gravy out of a can of Pedigree dog food.|
Thursday, March 3, 2016
|The new girls with a few icky boys for warmth.|
I would like to preface this with; yes I am still sick, I can barely talk, and shortly after posting this I will be taking a nap. At 6:15 AM I got a phone call from the post office alerting me to the fact that my chicks were in. Pajama-clad, I scurried to the post office to retrieve my precious package. Nothing better than a box of fluffy butts to brighten your morning! Unfortunately, since I've been barely functioning for the better part of a week, I was not the least little bit ready for the newest additions to the Ranch. The next hour was spent rearranging, cleaning, and preparing for the new girls.
Once the chicks were settled in their brooder in the coop I began the usual morning chores. All was well until my buck, Valentine popped off the horn that I had banded months ago in the heat of passion. That of course, led to a bloodbath! He had removed his horn in such a way that an icky blob of tissue remained on his head bleeding profusely everywhere. I grabbed my first gear and set to work on him. In no time, Valentine, the milk stand, and myself were covered in blood. Every time I'd try to get the blood stop powder on the bleeder, Valentine would shake his head removing the powder. After what seemed to be ages, I was able to slow the bleeding enough to where I could return him to a pen all by himself. At last check, the bleeding has nearly stopped. I cleaned the blood out off his eye and gave him some Nutridrench for extra vitamins. Later today he'll get revaccinated.
During this time one of my kiddos had been texting me, telling me she felt awful and wanted to come home from school. Really! I still hadn't even milked yet or cleaned up the bloody crime scene. I quickly informed her of the situation at the Ranch and as soon as my work was done I headed out to pick her up. Back home, I hope to relax for a bit, but that wasn't to be my fate. Sure enough, my very sweet, escape artist guard dog broke his chain and was out running loose. Off to chase Sunny down! Luckily, he's been better about coming when he's called and headed straight to me. Now he is hopefully still in the dog run with his friends. After checking on Valentine and the chicks, I am finally sitting down with my coffee and some blood orange sorbet. Yum!
Wednesday, March 2, 2016
As a homesteader, I can endure a lot! On any given day I deal with bitter cold, feet of snow, mud, torrential rains, blistering heat, manure, birth, death, cuts, bruises, and icky goo. The one thing that will bring me to my knees is being sick. I have been blessed (note the sarcasm) with a nasty upper respiratory virus since Sunday. I'm talking body aches, fever, chills, and a cough so painful I feel like someone is plunging a knife into my chest. Farm chores are a massive challenge as I drag my body around the yard. I fumble through chores and return to my germ infested home. Everyone else in my house has what we now believe is Enterovirus D68. Yuck! That means there's no rest for the farmer. I muddle through and nap shortly after. Warm weather is on its way, a chance to rid my house of germs so I can recover and get back to the Ranch.
Saturday, February 27, 2016
|Big Buck Ranch HeyThereDelilah|
Well......the doe I thought possibly wasn't preggers kidded today. Hooray!! I've been watching WebiGayle like a hawk for days. She hasn't been in heat since early October, her rear has been pink and puffy, there's been discharge and tailing wagging but she really didn't have much of an udder. Webi had me scratching my head!
Today was a crazy day: rugby game, birthday party, winter formal. I knew I was going to be busy AND not home. Chores took forever this morning, it's Saturday, I was moving slowly. As I milked I was watching Webi. Sure enough, that darn goat had a bright red backside and an udder. Webi was getting ready to kid. Plans changed in a heartbeat as I made a run to Big R for pine shavings. The baby shed needed mucking after a week of goats locked up in there. After a quick clean up I put Webi in with Erudite and the twins. This is Webi's fourth kidding, so I wasn't anticipating any issues. I have been VERY blessed with does who can give birth completely on their own. Sure enough, as I was heading from rugby to the birthday party, I got a text alerting me to the beautiful doeling Webi had. Webi has always had single births. Sweet little Delilah is healthy and absolutely beautiful! I couldn't be happier with her coloring. Delilah will live here on the ranch for a long time, I'm definitely keeping this girl!
If I've said it once, I'll say it again, I like to be in control. I like to have all of my ducks in a row. I like it when my life follows the premeditated path in my mind. I do not do well with change and deviations to my silly little path. That being said, I am also a Christ-follower, yet I never actually give up all control to God. I know I should, I'd really like to, but it's hard when you're a semi-narcissistic control freak. Here I sit on this beautiful, sunny February morning pondering how once again, God knew better than I did.
We're often short on money, and when we are there is nothing easier than selling off a little livestock to make ends meet. Late last year I got a wild hair to sell a couple of goats; Erudite my bred doe and Valentine my tiny buck. I figured Erudite would sell fairly quickly, bucks take awhile because you only need so many. In my mind, it would bring in some extra cash, and I could eventually add some new genetics to my herd. Once again the good Lord had other plans. EVERY person who expressed interest in Erudite backed out or stopped communicating with me. Believe you, me I was getting frustrated (I don't handle that well either). I pulled Erudite's ad and figured I'd sell her in milk after she kidded. On Thursday, Erudite delivered a beautiful, healthy set of twins. She did awesome! Not one tiny bit of help from me. Needless to say, I'm keeping that girl!
Ever since little Clove and Nutmeg were born, I have been pondering God's hand in this situation. Once again He had a bigger, better plan for me. He knew better than I did, especially considering the other doe I think is bred may not be. So here I sit this morning in awe of my Lord and Savior, reflecting on all of the verses sprinkled throughout the Bible telling me to put my trust in Him.
Thank you, Jesus, for being in control. I truly appreciate it!!
Friday, February 26, 2016
|Erudite with Clove and Nutmeg|
After days of watching and waiting, Erudite finally kidded yesterday afternoon. Yes, as usual, I missed it. Honestly, I had stopped check out of frustration. Every time I headed out Erudite would give me the look of death, and the shed would be empty. Last night I struggled to get out in a timely manner for feeding time. Sure enough, while I was dealing with other things in the house, Erudite kidded. She truly is a champ! Her doeling and buckling were almost dry when I discovered them. Delivery went smoothly in every aspect. I couldn't be more thrilled!!!
Monday, February 22, 2016
Two of my does, Webi and Erudite, are due to kid any day now. My guess is with a full moon and impending snow, it'll be sometime tonight. I spent yesterday aggravating my muckers elbow cleaning out my big goat shed. I had gotten the small shed ready, but with cold and snow on the way, I'd rather put the girls up in a larger space. They're not too thrilled being locked up away from the rest of the herd, but given the fact that my does like to kid when I'm not around this seems like the best bet. Sorry ladies!! Now it's just time to wait.
Wednesday, February 17, 2016
I have had my fair share of stupid farm-related injuries since my introduction to chickens in 2008. Most recently I sliced my nose open on my chicken coop roof. If you've seen my chicken coop you'd know that was no small feat. Normally, I suffer from the usual cuts and bruises or lower back issues. I'm hypermobile and my pelvis doesn't like to stay where God intended it to. Despite all of the injuries I've sustained while living the "simple life," the latest one takes the cake!
After months of cold and snow, we're finally seeing a break in the weather. The warmer temps and massive melt is spurring me on to get some much-needed projects accomplished. This winter has been harder than usual, I still have snow on the ground from December. During a normal Colorado winter, our snow melts in between storms. In a panic that our next dumping is right around the corner, I started my projects. Last Saturday I mucked out the chicken coop and the thawed half of our dog run. In doing so, I developed tennis elbow, which from now on will be called muckers elbow. Somehow the tons of manure I scooped tweaked something in my elbow. My right elbow on my dominant hand to be exact. Now everything I do is extremely painful. As long as I don't use my arm and keep it at a ninety-degree angle I'm fine. I'm actually typing with my left hand as we speak.
I've got one last painful project left, I need to chip ice away from my small goat house, so I can clean it out. Unfortunately, it's a priority. I have at least one doe due Saturday, and that is my birthing shelter. Off I head to wreak more havoc on my already sore joint. It's the price I pay for living my crazy farming dreams!
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
|My hay scale!|
I try, as best I can, to be frugal and resourceful when feeding my band of critters. I use coupons for chicken feed, know who has the best price on goat grain, and have calculated the correct amount of Chaffhaye to weigh out for my does. Hay has been a different story, I normally throw out a flake or two to the bucks depending on the cold. I never really took the time to research their nutritional needs.
I've heard the praises sung for weighing hay by Juliana Lehman, the founder of the Colorado Horsecare Foodbank. A few extra minutes of weighing hay allows your livestock to get the nutrition they need. At the moment, I don't own horses, but this principle applies to goats as well. Every bale of hay, as well as every flake of hay, has a slightly different weight. A flake of hay are the sections of a small rectangular bale. I've had bales where the flakes are uniform, and bales where some flakes are much larger than others. Because of this you never really know if your livestock are getting the right amount of food, and if yours are anything like mine, they always think they're starving.
I've found it's much easier to research proper feeding guidelines for horses than for goats. This being said the amount I feed my goats may be different than what others feed theirs. I found a great luggage scale on Amazon for around $8. I've hung some good ole baling twine in my hay shed and added a carabiner, so I can bring the scale in the house when I'm done. It's been too cold to leave it out. I tied a piece of baling twine to the handles of my muck bucket and viola, hay scale! I've calibrated the scale to not include the weight of my bucket, so I can add hay without having to do any fancy calculations. Now I can monitor how much my goats are getting and adjust accordingly. I'm no longer randomly tossing out to much or too little, and my hay waste is a lot less. Believe you me goats are notorious hay wasters! My bales are lasting longer too.
Since most days are crazy at the Ranch, I try to prep all of my feed ahead of time. As soon as the bucks are fed, I go back and weigh the next feedings hay, so it's ready to go. Now, I'm not only saving money, but my bucks are well fed AND I end up saving time as well. I can't say enough about my good ole hay scale!