I want to be a little informal today and honest. I can’t stop thinking about goats. This is our first year using our own bucks to breed our does. And I’m so excited! We don’t show goats and we own mixed breeds. The purpose of our goats is to have a supply of goat’s milk. So we have mixed dairy breeds (Nigerian Dwarf, Nubian, Lamancha, and Toggenburg).
We had our first goats born on the farm in February of 2018. Buttercup had four kids. One buckling (who looked like the sire) and one doeling (who looked like Buttercup) didn’t make it. The other buckling (Snoopy) and doeling (Leia) were very lively and healthy. Lulu had three kids–two bucklings (Darth Vader and another one we sold) and a doeling (Pixie-Rey)–who were full of energy and still very healthy. Out of the five goats born, we sold one.
We do plan on getting a cow in the future. So after much consideration and tugging on the heart-strings, we have decided to sell every goat except for the two Nigerian Dwarf does. I may get one more Nigerian Dwarf doe, but I’m still on the fence for having a buck. If I have a male on my property at all, it’ll only be one–and a small one at that.
Cow aside, we’re also working on the greenhouse. In that greenhouse I’ll focus more on making my oils, tinctures, and soap (it’s going to be an impressive structure). We’ll be growing plants year round, mostly hydroponically.
Saturday, on December 1, I posted the goats for sale. I cried a little, too. I spent a lot of time with them Saturday and Sunday. I loved getting my nuzzles and kisses in. All of our goats have amazing temperaments. My boys, Vader and Snoopy, are the most affectionate on the farm. They always were. Over the weekend we were able to work out a deal with another homesteader. It’s a really beneficial trade and I’m a hot mess right now with sorrow and excitement.
It’s a good deal for the goats, too. All of the does are going to live on one homestead in exchange for two Great Pyrenees puppies. We’ve wanted this working dog on our farm for quite some time now. I’m going to miss my goats, but I kept as many together as possible in exchange for something else we truly needed on the farm. And I can’t really complain about it. I love trading. I love being able to provide something that someone else needs and be able to get something that I need in return. So much middle work is eliminated in the process. We’re getting a male when we drop off the girls on the 8th. I’m working on a couple of other deals for keeping the boys together, if at all possible.
Oh, and the kids don’t know about it. They know we’re rehoming some goats, but they don’t know about the puppies. They’ll have to get used to the idea that the dogs stay with the farm animals as we do have three pet dogs that stay in the house (and no more after these three).
So in the next two years, we’ll get to document our livestock guardian journey on and off with everyone. Maybe I’ll get start actually using videos.
Now I get to do one of my most favorite things to do with new animals: think of names.
What are some good male/female combos? I was looking at names from Beatles songs, but doesn’t Artemis and Apollo sound cool? What do you guys think?
Today, I am going to be a little less serious and a little more fun. Today, I am going to introduce Willow.
I am a teacher. I have been teaching since 2009 and I love it. I started in elementary, did some work with Title I and interventions, then I moved on to middle school, then high school. In 2015 I switched up completely and began teaching special needs life skills in a high school setting. A big change from English and Reading. I instantly fell in love with the environment, staff, and students. I should have made this switch years ago.
So a little over one year ago, our staffing specialist got a hold of me because she had found a guinea pig who needed to be rehomed. I took her into my classroom, hoping she would make a decent classroom pet. We renamed the guinea pig Penny and she was an immediate hit. We all loved her and would even let her roam a bit with small groups. So the next year we were all devastated when she passed away in her sleep. It wasn’t at school, it happened at home.
So, instead of getting a new guinea pig, I decided to get a baby rabbit. I had done the research on keeping them out of a cage and litter box training them and decided that we could make it work both at home and at school. We picked Willow out because he was the most outgoing, friendly, and calm. We started with an enclosed space so he could get the idea of the litter box, but it didn’t take long until he was enjoying life around the house.
We originally thought Willow was a girl, but found out as he aged that he is actually a boy. He is one of the sweetest pets I have ever had for school or at home. He has his favorite napping spots both in the house and the classroom and he’s social. He is often in the kitchen while I prep for dinner. I give him veggie scraps. He is completely and totally my buddy. He will sit with my son and daughter on the couch. If I am reading, he nudges his way into my lap and will pull on my clothes if he wants to be pet. I never realized a rabbit could be so social.
He is the best classroom pet. He is very calm with the students and enjoys seeing them. He willingly gets in his crate when it’s time to get in the car to go to school. Students cleared bottom shelves of bookcases out for him to sleep in during the day. When he’s awake he jumps on tables using chairs to visit with kids. They work well in his presence and multi task fine with him. He will even approach a child who is sad or upset for attention and it makes the kids feel important.
During planning, while I work on IEPs, he is always in my space. Whether it’s stealing my chair or making sure he is sleeping at or touching my feet, he is there.
I really felt a need to do a quick intro on him because he is the only pet I have ever had that is just as much involved in my home life as he is in my work life. Penny was my first pet like this, but she didn’t follow me around like this bunny does. He seeks out my company and the company of others and I wasn’t expecting that strong of a bond to be honest. He is excited to see all the staff who work with me and the students. He is a great comfort to our kids who really need that additional emotional support. And really, sometimes, he is a great stress reliever for me at work. I love it when I’m working and he just wants to stay close. Even now, writing this, he is in my lap napping. I didn’t put him there. He just jumped on me and got comfortable.
We’re not raising him for meat and he serves no purpose on our farm. My original intent on getting him was for the kids, but he’s become quite a special little guy to me. He is with me more hours out of the day than any animal I have ever had in my life, being attached to me both at work and at home. He shared a very long week with me and completely deserves a blog post dedicated to him for being there and involved every step of the way.
It’s amazing how close to your heart these little critters can be. We love him.
When we first moved out into the country, I was more excited about the idea of NOT being a part of an HOA than building up a homestead. Before moving out here, we already had a decent hydroponics set up and I was perfectly content with just improving our produce.
We began buying local farm fresh eggs from other homesteaders. If you have never tried a fresh egg versus a grocery store egg, you simply have no idea what you’re missing out on. And if you are anything like me, eggs are life. Fresh eggs turned into fresh eggs AND raw dairy products. Fresh eggs and raw dairy products turned into fresh eggs, raw dairy products, AND homemade goat’s milk soap. You get the idea. When we would go to the market to purchase these weekly needs, we would stop by the local Tractor Supply.
Well, one day they had chicks and ducklings. I HAD to have ducklings. my husband wanted chicks. You had to buy a minimum of two ducklings and/or a minimum of six chicks. We went home, talked about it, then built a brooder for future babies.
Fast forward a couple of years and we went from two ducks and six chickens, to processing meat birds on a consistent basis, ten ducks, several free range (REAL free range) laying hens, a few roosters, four geese, eight goats, and two miniature donkeys. Each animal has a purpose (other than being loved). Here are just a few of our lovely farm members:
The geese and their new goslings.
This is Brownie. She is around four years old. We had originally bought her daughter when she was two hours old with the understanding that her daughter would be coming home with us at 6 months old. About a month later, the farm contacted us saying the mother would be for sale and we could go pick them both up that day. We really liked the idea of keeping them together so we picked both of them up that weekend.
This is Merida, Brownie’s daughter. Although she is calming down quite a bit now, she has the complete opposite personality to Brownie’s. Brownie is very reserved, but seeks the attention of those she knows. Merida is very curious about everyone and everything. That may change as she ages, but everyone loves it right now.
Donkeys are sentry animals. Their purpose on the farm is to protect everyone else. Their presence is enough of a deterrent to dogs, coyotes, and bobcats. We haven’t had missing birds since we got them.
And they FREAK out over mice… every mouse the donkeys have seen has been squished.
Some of our birds. This is their favorite hangout place.
Jerky McJerkface Jaime. Jaime and I have a love and hate relationship. This is our oldest accidental rooster. We got him and his sister from a 4H group. He was just done with physical rehab. He actually would have died if nature was allowed to take its course, but the kids were bonded so they tried everything they could and he made it. We were told they were both hens. So, we named on Cersei and this one Jaime because of the limp he had (Jaime Lannister from Game of Thrones lost his hand and “Jaime” is unisex, so it was perfect). Jaime turned out to be a boy. One day he started crowing. Jaime has these humongous spurs. Around once every three months he bats his wings at me and charges. I just kind of kick him back and he backs up. One day he got me and I responded like I always do. I was irate so I swore a bit and kicked him back. Our normal. Until I started to walk. It’s comical now thinking back on it. I was by myself and when I took a step I wobbled and I said aloud, to myself “That’s not right” and I fell. I looked at my leg and there was a giant pool of blood. I went into the barn and took a minute to mentally prepare myself for what I was about to witness, immediately thinking of all of my first aid equipment I was going to need (it was really starting to hurt at this point). I pulled back my pant leg and it was such an embarrassment. I had the tiniest hole in my knee. He stabbed me! Long story short, it never got infected and I couldn’t alternate steps on the stairs for a month. He is the best rooster for our girls though. I have seen him chase off snakes and squirrels for them and he respects all the other roosters and our male goose. I’m sure part of it is because no one wants to mess with him, but he really is a good jerk rooster.
Meet some of the goats!
This is Lyris. She was one of our first goats and is a Nigerian Dwarf. She loves to nibble on everything, but is very sweet and loves everyone.
This is Sally, our first goat who is also a Nigerian Dwarf. She is very calm and loves nothing more than to be close to the people she loves.
I love my Lulu. She is a mini Lamancha (Lamancha mixed with Nigerian Dwarf). She rubs against me and gives me kisses. She is also my best dairy goat. She has a grace with everything. She kids quickly, has never had health issues, has no issues letting people handle her kids. She is great and we love her dearly.
This is Darth Vader, Lulu’s son. We are keeping him for breeding purposes so we don’t have to have some of our girls travel for breeding. He’s very sweet and loves to cuddle.
This is Pixie-Rey, Lulu’s daughter. Our daughter named her Rey (from Star Wars), but I felt like she looked very spritely so she got the name Pixie-Rey. She is dainty, quiet, and loves to be held. She will also be staying with us so we can have alternating milking pairs.
This is Buttercup and she doesn’t sit still for pictures well. She is a mini Nubian (Nubian mixed with Nigerian Dwarf). She is one of our dairy goats, though Lulu has her beat in milk production. Buttercup is more reserved until you’re alone with her on the milk stand. Then she really kind of opens up to whoever is handling her. She loves to have her head scratched.
This is Leia, Buttercup’s daughter. We’re keeping her for future milking. This girl is very attached to me. She cannot stand the others getting love from me and will make every effort to get my attention any chance she gets.
This handsome boy is Snoopy. He is another one who is very attached to people and he will follow my husband like a dog. I love his coloring and he will be used for breeding as well.
Some of our ducks. Ducks eggs are actually great for baking.
A teacher at my kids’ school hatched eggs and needed to find a new home for her chicks. We took them home.
We love our farm life and I especially love coming home to “work” with the animals. It may be a lot of work, but it is very therapeutic as well.