Wednesday, June 29, 2011

From Mississippi to Oklahoma to Missouri!

Last Thursday we left for a trip to Oklahoma, then to Missouri.  What a trip it was!  I have finally caught up on laundry and rest from the trip.  I do apologize for not posting, but I don't take technology with me on the road...besides it was sort of a mini-vacation (if you'd like to call it that). 

For the past 3 years we have put some of our bucklings in a performance test held at The Kerr Center in Poteau, Oklahoma.  Since we had to go to Branson, Missouri for the AKGA annual meeting this year, we worked it out with Mary Penick to drop off our bucks this past weekend.  That really helped us out because it kept us from having to come home from our trip to Branson and turn around to head back to Oklahoma a few days later.  We combined the trips into one this past weekend.  We arrived at Oklahoma Thursday night; then we left Oklahoma and drove 3 1/2 hours to Branson the next day. 

Dillon and Mallory did exceptionally well considering how long we were on the road.  This is what Dillon spent a lot of his time doing.

Playing Nintendo DS
Mallory took a few naps along the way.  That girl can sleep anywhere!  If I slept like this I wouldn't have been able to move for a week!

Throughout Oklahoma, I noticed something very similar at a lot of gas stations.  We made a  stop by a station, so I had to take a picture for those of you who may be interested.  I'm probably the only one that found this interesting, but I'm sharing it with you anyway :) 

Many, many of the gas stations had a casino connected to their stores.  It seemed like casinos were on quite a few corners.  We stopped to get coffee at this one particular station and I decided to get out and take a few pictures.

I probably totally looked like a tourist.  I just couldn't believe how "normal" it seemed to have so many casinos at your every turn.  What was even more interesting to me was that they were part of the gas stations.  

When we checked into our hotel in Branson, I took the kids to the pool while Shane attended the seminars held at the convention.  The funniest thing was the Dillon and Mallory had been so excited to get to the hotel to swim in their pool, and ended up spending much of their time here..... 
The hot tub
They took one dip in the pool and came out of it squealing......they said that it was too cold!  This summer, it's been so hot that all of the pools down here are as warm as bath water.  They weren't too keen on the cold water in the hotel pool, so they played in the hot tub.  Luckily it wasn't working real well, and the water was just lukewarm.  I guess that was the highlight of the trip for them. 

We only stayed in Branson one night, and that was plenty for me.  Our hotel was on the "strip" Hwy. 76, and I can honestly say that I don't plan on ever returning to that area for a vacation.  Vacations, to me, are relaxing......What I witnessed was total chaos, someone at every corner trying to get you to spend money at their locale.  It was extremely commercialized; not my idea of a vacation.  Shane's aunt did tell me that there were more relaxing, peaceful things to do in Branson outside of the Hwy 76 strip. I may consider checking that out, but I have no desire to return to that particular area. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sweating like a pig

I went for a walk this morning and took my camera along with me.  I thought I'd share some of the sights I see in the morning time.  The picture below is our doe herd walking along the "cow trail" right after they got up from their bedding spot by the pond.  They were on their way to get minerals to start their day.

Below is a mineral feeder that Shane made to put out in the pastures.  The horses, goats, and cows are all able to use them.  I believe it was constructed with the bottom of a 55 gallon drum, a large bolt through the center, and a large rubber flap.  Most of the things constructed around here come from supplies that were to be thrown away at Shane's workplace.  What is that old saying, "one man's trash is another man's treasure"?  It couldn't be more true than that!

After getting their mineral fix for the morning, the goats headed out to one of the cut-over spots in the back forty.  Thank goodness for these areas with brush.  This summer's drought has been brutal to our pastures productivity.  The meteorologist on the weather this morning said that rain was in our forecast for the next 3 days.  We definitely could use it.

Can you see the goats?

After walking around ,watching, and following the goats, I realized I needed to get back home and do a little house cleaning.  I turned around and realized that I had to climb a monster hill. maybe it's not a monster hill to some, but to me it is definitely a monster hill.  By the time I made it to the top, I decided I will take the Kawasaki mule next time to make my rounds.  Then I had to remind myself why I'm not taking the mule to do rounds.  Exercise.  I simply do not enjoy it... No ifs, ands, or buts about it; It is necessary to get one's body and mind healthy though.  So for now, I will stick with it and whine and complain while doing it.  Oh and I will sweat like a pig too.  ( Yes, I know pigs don't's just something folks say around here, so I guess I will say it too.)  
Good luck in climbing your hills (whatever they may be) today!  Have a great day!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Crazy legs

I took this picture of this little doeling about a month and a half ago.  When she was born, everything appeared to be normal with her.  Shane and I were out in the pasture looking at all the kids one afternoon, and he pointed out this little doeling to me.  I figured it was because, he had seen something impressive over in that direction.  It wasn't because of anything impressive, it was due to her legs.....Can you see what he was pointing out?
100% doeling

This little doeling was bow-legged.  I have never seen anything like this.   We put her in the pasture with all of the commercial (unregistered) kids a month ago, and she gets around just like all of the others.   I don't know if her being a triplet had anything to do with it, but I thought I'd share to see if anyone has ever seen anything like this.  

The case of the missing RX

Yesterday, I couldn't find my thyroid medication anywhere.  I usually put it near the kitchen sink so I'll remember to take it first thing in the morning.  I'm not very good about taking it consistently, so this has been the best option.......except for yesterday.  I searched high and low, or so I thought.  I made so many trips back and forth looking for it that I just about got dizzy.  Last night when I went to bed, I still hadn't been able to find it. 

This morning I searched again, with no results.  Then it hit me to look in the cabinets where our cups are.  And voila!  There it sat.... I don't remember putting it there, but I'm certain that I did it.  If I had only needed to get a cup for the kids from that side, I would've found it. 

It's not the first case of something being put where it doesn't belong. One morning I was looking for the syrup for Dillon and Mallory to put on their pancakes. I knew that just 1 hour earlier Shane had used it for his pancakes. Just as I was about to give up searching, I found it in one of the craziest places. I had put it in the cabinet in my utility room with the laundry detergent. I have to say in my defense, that my pantry cabinets are in the same room, so it wasn't like I took it to another room. I seem to be doing so many things absent-minded. I think it's caused from trying to think ahead of something I have to do later while doing something else.  Maybe it will get better, or who knows what else with get misplaced around here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The sign says

I read this on a church sign ,by the road, as I was passing through.  I happened to like it, so I thought I'd share:

You should watch your step carefully because everyone else does.

Monday, June 13, 2011

The scales don't lie

Yesterday we weaned our kids from their dams.  There ended up being 42 that were from our registered stock that we collected weights on. 
Pushing the goats to the working area
 Our catch pen was originally for cattle only and had to be modified for goats.  Shane ran some panel wire with a few t-posts to support it down the middle of one of the holding pens.  This gives the goats less room to turn around before going down the chute.  It works out really well once the goats started heading that way, Dillon would close the gate to keep them going forward instead of backwards.  Every now and then Shane had to help Dillon because he would get overwhelmed by all of the goats.  I think its a good thing for our children to help out, it teaches them some very invaluable lessons.   
Mallory "over-seeing" Dillon's work

This is the view from the front of the runway.  The blue thing is a squeeze chute that is the final stop for the goats.  Once they get here we are able to do whatever is needed to the goats.  It will even tilt on its side, if the goats hooves need trimming.  Luckily we don't have to do that hardly at all. 

Maybe this picture below will give you a better idea of the squeeze chute.  It closes tight on the goat to hold it in place; hence the name "squeeze" chute.  I have to say, it doesn't work real well with smaller kids as it does with grown does.

If you will notice at the front of the squeeze chute, there is a white box.  This box was made by Shane to put our livestock scales in to weigh the goats.  There is a gate on the other end to keep the goat in.  When we get their weights from the digital read-out, we just open that gate and let them out. 
Kid on scale
Gate slides up to open

Digital readout mounted to the side of the metal panel
for easy viewing
 If you'll notice below, there are wheels on one end of our scales "contraption".  This enables it to be moved pretty easily.  The scales themselves can be heavy to carry around ( for me, that is) and it's really helpful to have something to contain the animals in to get their weights.  You can't make a goat stand still on those scales without something surrounding them.

We decided to try to get weights on our bucks.  We have 3 herdsires and a couple of young lease bucks.  Shane had to wrestle those smelly bucks to get them in the small box.  Their horns were too wide that he had to force them to turn their heads sideways to get in.  Once they were in, they were able to put their head out of the top and stand still in order for us to get their weights.

One thing is for sure.....the scales don't lie.  You can look at an animal all you want and try to guess his weight, but you may not even come close.  Here are their weights as follows:   
  • Rooster:        249.8
  • Pistol Pete:    220
  • Gold Digger:  232.2
  • 2 yr old Lease Buck:  155.6
  • 1 yr old  Lease Buck:  100.4
The fellas
Speaking of weights, the weaning weights from yesterday ranged from 59.0 pounds to 26.6 pounds.  Now it is time to start marking off the lower ones with red and hauling them into town, while the others get to stay to see how they fare on their 150 day weights.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Gone fishin

Shane bought Mallory her very first girlie fishing pole the other day and took the kids fishing down at one of our ponds.  It was fun to watch Mallory learn to cast and reel from her dad.  She paid very close attention to all that he told her.

I really think Shane should stick with the pink Barbie pole!

Mallory and Dad
Dillon, on the other hand, is an old pro.  He finds the "honey holes" as he calls them and will catch fish left and right.  We stocked the pond about 2 years ago with bream, so we are doing a catch and release if the fish are still small.  That is all that Dillon was catching.  I don't know if the low level in pond water in addition to the severe heat has caused the fish not to do real well.  

The Pro
One thing the old pro fisherman Dillon isn't too keen on, is removing the hook from the mouth of the fish.  If you notice in the photo below, he doesn't like holding onto them.  If they started squirming in his hand he would let go of them in a heartbeat. 

Toward the end of the fishing excursion, he was more confident in his hook removal skills.  He didn't even flinch a muscle when they squirmed about in his hand.  I enjoyed watching him overcome the fear and gain confidence in learning to do it himself.

Mallory had such a big catch that it broke her line, so she went out to try to get it....Can you guess what she caught?
If you guessed a limb, you got it right.  Shane reeled the limb in closer and the line broke.  She wanted to get her lure, so she waded out into the pond to retrieve it.  She said the limb was slimy and wanted to give up, but she kept with it for the sake of getting her one and only lure back.

She succeeded!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Morning experience with our livestock guardians

I've debated on whether or not to write a post about the eventful morning we had, before we even began working the goats.  All I can do is be completely honest about our farm happenings in order for others to possibly learn from our experiences; bad or good. If blood makes you squeamish, I don't recommend reading any further.

Shane went out first thing this morning to bring the goats across the road to our working area so we would be able to get the kids separated from their dams and also get their weights.  I stayed in the house making breakfast and coffee to provide the "fuel" we would need for the day.  Of course, when we move our herds, our Anatolian ( livestock guardian dogs; LGD ) stay with the goats.  They stay with them wherever they go.  Shane got the goats across the road, moved into a small holding area, and left them to come home and get breakfast. 

On our way to the small holding pen, it was obvious from a distance that something had happened with the LGD's.  This is what Kimba looked like when we arrived. 


We knew right away that Kimba had been in a brawl with Sinbad our other male Anatolian.  Kimba stays with our does, while Sinbad was in the adjacent field with our bucks.  We're not certain who started it, but there was evidence that they started fighting through the net fence and it carried on right on the other side, while tearing down the net fence.  You can only imagine what two 130lbs dogs fighting could do to a net fence.  We went to check on Sinbad and this is what he looked like. 

The reason that I am posting this is that I feel like we only need one intact male LGD on our farm or they should NEVER be close within eyesight of each other.  Even though they are in separate pastures, they sometimes are in close proximity to each other and it most always provokes a fight, even though there is always fencing separating them.  I'm not sure if this will solve the issue, but something has to be done.   We can't risk the chance of this happening again.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Scrapie tags

Tomorrow we are going to wean our kids.  Most of them are 90 days old.  This is always an exciting time for me.  We will run each kid through the working chute and get their individual weights.  This will allow us to compare it to their birth weight and figure out their average daily gain (ADG).  I always look forward to seeing which kids end up with super ADG's.  Then at 150 days we will get their weight again.  This will give us an idea how well they gained on forage alone since being weaned from their dams.  Anyway.....I've yet to get to the intended subject, scrapie tags.  We plan on tagging all of the kids with their USDA scrapie tag.  As I was getting ready for tomorrow, I realized we didn't have enough tags left for all of the kids to be weaned.  I decided I needed to order more, but for the life of me I couldn't remember where I ordered them from.  Soooo I decided to share a few links that might help you in finding out who to contact in your state to get these tags.  They are free from the USDA.  (In order for us to sale our goats at our local stock yard, the goats must have an approved scrapie tag.)

Click here to go to the USDA's website to locate your state's office.  Just click on your state, and it will take you the Veterinary Services Area Office information for your state. 

Check back in a few days to see how our work day goes tomorrow.  I hope to get a lot of pictures to post.  I will also include how we figure our ADG's and our on farm index scores.   

Trip down the fire lane

Yesterday morning, I noticed some of our goats were not where they were supposed to be.  The whole back side of our property, which doesn't have electric fencing yet, is bordered by National Forrest.  I noticed a few does had gotten out, so I called them back in.  Well, it was only half of our does/kids.  I decided I'd better go find the other half.  I headed back to our house to get the remote for the electric fence and noticed a lot of movement in the forest behind our house.  I ran in and got my camera because I knew exactly what was happening.  The other half of does/kids had decided to make a trip down the fire lane that runs behind our house.  

If you notice in the picture below, some of the pine trees have green vines growing on them.  This vine, along with other brush, seems to grow out of control in the woods.  Every year or so, the forestry workers conduct a control burn that will rid the forest of all of this overgrowth of brush.  They push a fire lane between our property and the forest to prevent the fire spreading to our property.  After the control burns, it doesn't take long before new growth starts. 

Our herd had managed to get out to take a stroll down the fire lane to forage on all the vines and such before (due to unreliable, dilapidated fencing). We ended up putting a strand of "temporary" electric fence to keep them from doing that. Long story short, we just recently removed that strand to put in another place and the goats have finally figured out it was no longer there.  So it is looking like we will be working on putting up permanent electric fence in that area.

The whole 80 acres was fenced years ago for cattle; which only required a few strands of barbed wire. If you know anything about goats, they will find a way to get past a 6 foot brick wall ( just kidding on that one). We have been fortunate to be able to put insulators on existing posts and running "hotwire" up about 12 inches from the ground.  One strand does the trick, so far. 

working on vines

overgrown fire lane
While I was taking a few of the pictures the goats were too busy chowing down on the greenery to notice me at first.  Finally, when they saw me coming, they took off like a bunch of teenagers that had just been caught somewhere they shouldn't have been.  I've had to chase them down that fire lane back into the pasture before, so they knew the routine.  Most of them ran ahead, but there were a few brave ones trying to get in a few more nibbles before I could get close enough to move them on.   The craziest thing is that we have about 12-15 acres that they could be doing this in.  I guess the grass is always greener on the other side.
Just one more nibble

Can't seem to get away from it

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Oh, the rain

Yesterday we were blessed with a good rain.  I ran outside and pulled all of my potted plants and put them in the yard as the rain was approaching.  It was wonderful to see all of that water falling from the sky!   I'm sure my plants loved it as much as I did.

I was starting to worry about what would happen if we didn't get any rain soon.  Our grasses aren't growing at all.  Thank goodness for the 15 acre cut over that the goats are able to work on in addition to the forage in the pasture.  I have even noticed some of the cows working on a few bushes as well.  I have to remember to stop worrying though.  I know that God plans everything for a purpose.....all of that hot dry weather may have killed off some sort of "bug" out in the fields that may have wreaked havoc on our farm.  We will never know.  One thing I do know, there is nothing more tranquil than the sound of rain falling on a tin roof, and the cool air that comes from a nice afternoon shower.  Thank you Lord!

What a wonderful sight!
(puddle in our driveway)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Taking a dip

We are still in serious need of rain down in these parts.  The other morning on our local news, it was said that we had a 15.11 inch deficit so far, compared to our yearly average of rainfall.  It is being predicted that we have a 30% chance of rain this weekend.  One good way to look at it is that we don't have to mow our grass as often, if at all ;)  

The streams have diminished in the back forty, so we have made an alley with electric fence that leads to our pond in the front pasture.  The electric fence keeps the animals from grazing in the front pasture.  It is so short, but the animals will get right out there and graze like you wouldn't believe.  All the while, the back forty does have some grass that we stockpiled.  There's just something about that shorter tender grass!   

doelings getting a drink
Even Kimba, our Anatolian Shepherd took advantage of the pond today.  He walked right out there and laid down.  It actually looked quite relaxing to me.  Today I believe our temps reached 98 degrees with a heat index of 100-106 degrees.  It's been pretty hot around here!

It wasn't long before the cows came and sent the goats moving on around the pond.  It was their turn to come for a cool down.  I was amazed how almost the whole herd of cattle ended up getting in the pond.  Usually it's just a few, but today they all decided to take a dip.
Cooling off
Shane took a load of "culls" to the stockyard this past Monday.   Most of them ended up being commercial goats that we purchased last fall.  They just absolutely couldn't hold a candle to our kikos.  The whole point for us raising kikos is for less maintenance.  These commercial ladies were high maintenance, so they had to go.  There was also a 100% New Zealand kiko doe that was sent to the stockyard with that group.  Shane has been wanting to get rid of her since last year.  He didn't like her build, or conformation.   We bought her at a Cream of the Crop Sale a couple of years ago as a yearling, and she just never did shine like the others.  It was a tough decision, but I think it was the right decision.  If we are going to continue raising breeding stock, we are going to be faced with many more tough decisions about who stays and who goes.  In order for us to improve our herd, we will have to continually cull through them.  When we first started out, it was pretty easy to know which ones were going to be culled.  It's just that each year, it gets harder and harder.  In the end, it will be worth it though. 
Getting ready to go