Thursday, April 28, 2011

Opps she did it again!

Once again June, my Lamancha goat, had triplets and once again, she did it when I was not watching.  I have yet to be present for one of her deliveries.  I have owned her for 4 years and every year she delivers when nobody is looking.   Why, you might ask yourself, does she keep missing out on this event?  That is a question I ask myself every year.   I watch all my goats so carefully.   I check them every night before bed and if they look like they are close I check them in the middle of the night.  I check them in the morning and on and off during the day.   I think my next step with dear old June is to put a surveillance camera in her stall.  

June is my shrub goat and you will get my drift when you see  a photo of her.  She is the ugliest goat I have ever seen.  .   I had to keep a rope on her to catch her every time I milked.    The only reason I bought her was because she was the only goat I could find in milk at the time.   I needed milk to raise some bottle lambs, and it was cheaper to buy a milk goat than milk re-placer.    At the time none of my goats had freshened so I was desperate. 
See what I mean.   She is very poorly built.

So you might ask why does she keep this pathetic looking goat?  Well you see, as with every person, place, and thing, June has a story.  I mentioned she was a shrub goat which means she was pretty much kept out in the wild  in a big pasture with many other goats.   June did not have much contact with humans.  The gal I bought her from had bought June from that wild environment and  tried to use her in her miking line.   Well, June did not take kindly to that idea and was too much to handle.   So this is where I come inl I bought her for the reasons I mentioned above.  I decided if she had milk then I would figure out how to get it.   

To make a long story short June settled down, and I was eventually able to catch her with out a rope hanging from her neck.   Now June is one of the most social and affectionate goats that I own.  She is the first one to great me every and the easiest one to milk.   I have made a pact with June that she would live her life her with me.   I hate to put her through another stressful move and have her go wild again.   And because of this agreement I think June has decided to bless me with triplets for the last two years.   She may not be much to look at but her babies every year are outstanding. 

June and her new Triplets
 
Two Does and one Buck. What a blessing and look at that color.   The smallest of the triplets only weights 2 pounds!  I will have to keep a close eye on that one,   it will be so easy for her to be crushed on accident.    I have considered taking the smallest one to hand raise, but I think her best chances are with her mommy.





This Nebraska Prairie Girl is so proud of her shrub goat and the  absolutely beautiful triplets.






I thought I might add a photo of Cinder's triplets that were born on April 14th,  they are two weeks old today.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Where is Mr. Clean?

Well not at Nebraska Prairie Girl's House!


Actually,  I try to clean my house as naturally as possible, which means I do not like to use harsh cleaners.  I hate to expose my family and the environment to ingredients found in many of commercially made household cleaning products.   

So what is clean?   Clean is defined by Webster's dictionary as free from dirt or disease.   Well, from that definition I am afraid that my house will never be clean.  My house is free from disease but as far as the dirt part., Yikes!   I wonder if  Mr. Webster ever lived in the country on a farm or ranch.   My house is clean by my definition most of the time.   But, I will promise you that if the barn is clean the house needs cleaned.  If the house is clean the barn needs cleaned.  So do not be surprised if I invite you over for a cup of tea in the barn, it may be cleaner than the house.  :)  

I want to let you know that everyday this Nebraska Prairie Girl wages war with dirt. I now know why my pioneer sisters had dirt floors.  They were easy to care for and you did not care if more dirt was brought in by dirty shoes and paws.    As a rule, in my household everyone is required to remove their shoes at the door., my theory being the dirt on the shoes will be left at the door and not tracked all over the house.    However,  the pets in our household still bring in their share of the great outdoors. 

As I have mentioned we live in a house that is one hundred years old.   The house has hardwood floors in every room.    When we bought the house it had the most lovely avocado green long shag carpet.   I hate carpet,  I think it just is a great place to harbor bacteria and dirt.  (just my opinion)   So as soon as we moved in Dave and I tore up all the carpet to expose the original fur wood floors.  I sweep everyday and mop a couple times a week.    Once a month I oil the floors with  a combination of olive oil, lemon juice and lemon essential oil.        The ratio that I use is 2 parts olive oil, 1 part lemon juice and a few drops of lemon essential oil.   I pour this into a squirt bottle and label it. Originally,   I made this as a furniture polish, loved it so much that I decided to use it on our wood floors. 
.

My Kitchen floor once it is oiled
In this photo you can see at the top were I have oiled the floor verses the bottom which  has not been oiled yet. 



The oil not only protects the floors from moisture but makes it easier to sweep and mop.  The only down fall to oiling you floors in such a way is that it does take a while for the oil to soak in so the floors can be slippery.    To apply to floors:  I just squirt the oil on the floor with a spray bottle and then dry mop it  with a dust mop.   As a furniture polish I spray a little on a dust cloth and use.  


Doing laundry here on the farm is quite a chore when you have four children at home.    In a effort to keep doing laundry as natural as possible we use Soap Nuts. 

The Soap Nuts I use are 100% certified organic.    Soap Nuts are nuts that actually grow on trees in Nepal.   The nut is taken out of the shell and the shell is what is used to wash laundry.   Soap Nuts have a shiny substance on them and that is the saponins.
Saponins have a soapy character due to their surfactant properties.  You place 4 soap nuts in to a small muslin bag, tie it closed and throw it into the washing machine.  You can reuse this batch for 4-6  loads of laundry.   With the use of soap nuts you do not even need to use fabric softener.   This is such a huge savings for my family I can do over  175 loads of laundry with a 1.1 lb. bag of soap nuts.    Not only is this all natural but it has helped save money and it has helped with my children's sensitive skin.

Soap nuts can be used to make a liquid that is an all purpose cleaner, window and glass cleaner and used in the dishwasher.    To use in the dish water I just place 4 soap nuts in  silverware holder and run the dishwasher as usual.   Once in a while I will add 1 tbsp of baking soda and a squirt of lemon juice to the bottom of the dishwasher.   This help to wash dishes that are in need of a more abrasive cleaning.    Soap nuts can be found at  http:/www.doublelcountrystore.com

Speaking of Lemon juice and baking soda these are two great ingredients to use for cleaning many areas of you home.  One of my favorite rooms to use it in is the bathroom.   I empty the water out of the toilet bowl and put a tablespoon of soda and 1/4 cup of lemon juice in the bottom.    I let the two ingredients bubble and foam and do their magic and then when the foam has settled I scrub the toilet as usual.   Baking soda works great as a cleaner for the bath tub and sink, just use it as you would any of the abrasive chemical powders. 

Since there is no magic Mr. Clean on the farm, cleaning is a bit more laborious and not as much fun. But with using a few all natural ingredients it is not quite as hazardous to us or the environment.
Goodbye!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Milk Fever and other oddities in life

Not that all my reader will be interested in reading about Milk Fever.  However,  if you have a goat, it is great information to have.  If you don't, this will be another great subject to put in your random nonsense file.
Mom whatcha doing out there?

In a way this is a continuing story about Cinder and her triplets.     After the delivery of the triplets Cinder was up and very proud of her new babies.    I thought we were doing okay and we did not have much to worry about.  The next morning she still had not lost her placenta,  ewww,  I know.   I talked to the vet and he said there really was not much to worry about,  a retained placenta will eventually be expelled.  A huge EWWW!!!   Well, maybe it is not much for him to worry about, but as a woman I found it something that needed to be taken care of.    I did come home with a shot of  Lutelyse to help her extract the placenta.   Within a couple hours voila , the Lutelyse had worked and things were looking good, so I thought.   
Cinder was up and active, not eating much at all, but was drinking.   Being the worrier that I am I decided that she must have an infection brewing because of her aforementioned problem.  Not one to treat my livestock unnecessarily, I decided to error on the side of caution anyway and I gave her 4.5 ml of Oxytetracycine  in case she did have the start of an infection.   Now,  things should look up and  I could stop worrying, right?

Nope, this is were the milk fever comes in.   The next morning, sleepy eyed, I go out to the barn to see the new and improved Cinder.   But, what to my wondering eyes should appear, a goat standing in the corner with her head up against the wall for support.  I was a little worried that Cinder was coming down with Milk Fever.   I wanted to give all the medication from the day before the chance to work before I assumed anything else was wrong.    Milk fever is not a actual fever.   It is actually low blood calcium, which is known as hypocalcaemia. A goat may have plenty of calcium in her bones and in her diet, but due to a sudden increase in calcium and phosphorus requirements, (like impending kidding or lactation) she is unable to reabsorb the calcium she needs from her bones or absorb it from her diet.  So in short producing milk for triplets was taking more calcium from Cinder than she had stored or could produce.   Though Cinder was still on her feet, if left untreated she would eventually not have been able to stand,  had muscle tremors, and stopped ruminating.  Milk fever left untreated will eventually cause death.

My treatment for Milk Fever went like this:

50 ml Calcium Glutamate SubQ at 7:00 am.

50 ml Calcium Glutamate SubQ at 8:00 am.

50 ml Calcium Glutamate SubQ at 9:00 am.

8 oz Calcium Glutamate orally  6:00 pm.
By this time Cinder was eating and drinking well.  
For the next two days I poured 500 ml of Calcium Glutamate in Cinder's water each morning.  
Now Cinder is well on her way to complete recovery,  though the last few days have left her on the thin side.  Cinder has always been a easy keeper, meaning she never gets thin and always carried some extra weight (kind of like me)   I think if she wasn't is such good physical shape before she delivered we would have not seen such a positive end to this story.
Cinder pre delivery.  Even though she is carrying triplets, you can see that her body condition is very good.
Cinder after recovering from Milk Fever.  You can see what a toll this took on her overall body condition.  She has lost a lot of weight and all her tone is gone.   
       








Though Cinders condition is not as good as it was,  she is doing well and the triplets are thriving.  Remember if any of your critters are not acting like themselves and are not eating or drinking like they normally do, that is their way of telling us something is wrong. 

William says Good Bye!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Just Kidding Update

April 14, 2011




Triplets
It was a busy day on the ranch for the Nebraska Prairie Girl.  I helped Cinder deliver triplets, one buck and two does! ( a great ratio)   When I went out to check on goats and do feeding chores, I took one look at Cinder and knew today is the day.    She usually meets me every morning at the delivery stall gate with a kiss.  Not this morning, this is how she greeted me. She was staring at the wall with a very serious look on her face, with her tail straight up.  So since she did not greet me with her usual morning kiss,  I went in a greeted her and we talked about how it was going to be alright.












I have had supplies out and ready for her to kid for over a week now.    I have long gloves, two towels and iodine.   The gloves are in case there is a delivery problem and I have to help.  Two towels one for each kid (as you see I was not planning  triplets)  Iodine to dip umbilical cords.   

Cinder cleaning babies
Three hours later she finally got serious and started pushing.   I was going out into the barn every twenty minutes to check for progress.   As I mentioned in the first part of this post I use a baby monitor in the house when I am not in the barn.   Once again, the monitor did its job,  I heard Cinder pushing and went out to assist.  





 

Baby number one was backwards and came out tail first.  It is kind of a surprise to be feeling for a head and find a tail.   Even though Chicory was backwards the delivery went well.  Within seconds, her brother was born.  I congratulated Cinder on a job well done and started to dry off babies.  But wait Cinder started pushing again and low and behold she had another doe who is named Clove.  My goodness, what a surprise to have triplets.  So, I helped dry off babies (this is where towel number three would have come in handy), dipped cords, made sure everyone nursed for the first time, then left to let the new family spend some quiet time together.   Of course I still have my baby monitor on in the house so that I can hear if there is any babies crying in distress.  ;)
Chicory Standing up  


William the pig looking over his gate wondering what all the commotion in the barn is about. 
 

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Just Kidding!

Arielle holding Jasmine
Well here it is April and time for the kidding to get started here at Double L Goat Dairy.


just born kind of confused
We got started on April first by an April  fools by one of the goats.  Do they know about April fools?  They must. I went out to do my chores and low and behold one of my does looked like she was going to kid.  So, of course I was not expecting any kidding for another week at the earliest, which means I was not prepared.   Moved her into the delivery stall, with another of my expectant mothers for company.  Well, on April eighth she finally  kids one day after her due date.     I would say I was an April Fool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Maybe, next year I will fool her. ;)  All is forgive though, she had a beautiful doe and buck kid. 

I tell you during kidding season I get plenty of exercise walking back and forth to check on goats.   I do have a very high tech baby monitoring system that I do use during kidding season.   Actually, all it is, is baby monitors that I bought at the thrift stores.   I hang the base in the barn and I have two other smaller monitors one in the kitchen and one in my bedroom.    I keep those on during kidding season so I can hear new born baby cries or a baby in distress.   The monitors actually work really well,  I have been able to catch two deliveries because I heard it on the monitor.   I can also hear distress cries of babies that have gotten separated from their mommies or stuck in some other predicament. With all that said, I still walk out to check goats every couple hours.

Rosie and Rosemary
delivery stall
Rosie one of my favorite goats decided to kid outside in the sun light today, much to my surprise.  She did not look like she was ready to go anytime soon, but I guess she proved me wrong. 

We have kidding stalls all set up for the goats to deliver in, when they cooperate and kid on schedule.  Each of these two stalls are 8'X12' and each stall has a baby oven in it.   These stalls are well protected from inclement weather, and have a thick layer of bedding on the floor.  I usually put the expectant doe in with a companion goat.   If the goat delivering is a first time mommy, I put a experienced doe in with her.   (kinda like a goat mentor)


baby oven
The ovens are metal drums that my husband Dave made for me.  He turned the drum upside down cut a circle in the top for the heat lamp and cut a door out in front for the babies to  go in and out of.   These baby heater have saved many of babies from getting to cold or suffering from frost bite.  (baby Nubians ears freeze very easily in cold temp.)  This is also a much safer way of using heat lamps.  You do not have to worry about goat knocking them over or breaking the heat bulb so easily.
nursery stall
Once the babies are born we keep them in the delivery stall for 24 hours, giving them time to get on their feet, get acquainted with their mother,  and nurse.   Once they are well on their way we move them to the nursery.  
 


The nursery stall has access to the big outdoors via a ramp they have to learn to navigate.  (Fun to watch).  They stay in the nursery for a week giving them  a little time to grow and learn to use those long legs.  They also, get the opportunity to  start eating hay and grain like their momma.   Once the week is over, and if they are doing well they are put in with the rest of the  herd.  ( if the nursery  is not crowded we do let them stay a bit longer than a week)  As, you can see in the nursery stall the babies have access to another baby heater. (spoiled I know) From the nursery stall the babies can interact with the rest of the herd through the fence, letting everyone get use to each other.  

We still have three more goats to deliver this month and in May the yearlings will start kidding.    This is absolutely my favorite time of year .  Walking  out into the barn hour after hour is well worth the effort when you go out and see those precious baby goats in the barn.  I can not help but have a smile on my face. 

The boys Edward and Navajo
As, I was leaving the barn the bucks wanted to make sure I took their pictures.  They wanted to  make sure everyone knew that it was because of their hard work that we had such great babies.   Good job boys. 
 
I will continue to update this post with photo's of the newest babies so check back, from time to time.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

GRANOLA!

The breakfast of Tree Huggers!

My children love home made granola for breakfast,  and I have to say I do as well.   Since it was a cool, cloudy, windy day in Western Nebraska,  I decided that this Nebraska Prairie Girl would make a batch of granola. 

Nebraska Prairie Girls Granola Recipe


10 cups old-fashioned oats
1 cup ground flax see
1/2 lb.  flaked coconut 
2 cups raw sunflower seed or pumpkin seeds
   or a mixture of both
1 cup sesame seeds
3 cups chopped walnut, almond or pecan
1 1/2 cup sucanut or brown sugar
1 1/2 cup water
3/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup of honey
1/2 cup molasses
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
3 tsp pure vanilla extract
dry ingredients blended
raisins or other dried fruits, if desired.  

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.  In a large bowl combine oats, flax, coconut, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds and nuts.  Blend well.

syrup added to dry ingredients



In a large saucepan, combine brown sugar, water, oil, honey,  molasses, salt, cinnamon and vanilla.  Heat until the sugar is dissolved, but do not boil.  Pour syrup over dry ingredients and stir until well-coated.  Spread into baking sheets or cookie sheets with sides. 
Ready to bake


Bake 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Bake 15 minutes longer for a crunchier texture. (I leave mine even longer, we like it really crunchy)  Cool. Add dried fruit. Store in an air tight container.  Can be stored for 6 months.   If frozen it can be stored for a 12 months.
Ready to eat my favorite part.
We eat it dry as a snack or over yogurt, but my favorite way is with goats milk poured over it.
 
My family loves fall, winter and spring, this is when I do most of my baking.   Come summer however,  I hate to turn on the oven, so not much baking takes place. 
My son Ruben has decided to rectify the no baking in summer problem, he says he is going to build me an outside oven.   Go, Ruben.  I will let you know how this turns out.

Well time to go, it is kidding season here on the farm and I have goats to check. 

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Farm Girl Dresses and Aprons

Many of my friends may not know my number one best kept secret.  Farm Girl Dresses and Aprons.

A close friend of mine about 4 years ago gave me a big bag of sundresses and said," here you should wear these around the farm."   I explained that I really could not see myself working on the Nebraska Prairie in a dress.   Well, I did not want to hurt her feelings so I thought I would give one of  them there sundresses a try.  Well it was love at first wearing.  I could not believe how comfortable it was, I had more freedom of movement then I ever thought possible.   Needless to say since then I have never worn anything else on the farm.   I have de-horned goats, castrated goats and cattle, milked, driven tractors, swathed hay, done chores, gardened, and fixed fence all in my "Farm Girl Dresses".   One thing I have not done is ride a horse in my dress,  I still choose to wear my jeans for that farm activity.   Though if I thought I could learn to ride side saddle I would.

So now to add to this Farm Girl look I have decided to wear my collection of vintage aprons that were just handing in the kitchen on a hook.   Man if I though I could do a lot in a dress, adding an apron  to my outfit made it even more functional.   My apron has become a bucket to haul feed to the chickens.

Feed Bucket Apron
Then while I am in the hen house what better way to carry the eggs back, than in my apron.  It is the softest, safest way I have found to carry such a fragile farm commodity.  Once I met our mail carrier at our mail box and she said," what do you have the folds of your apron?"  I opened up my apron and said eggs,  she laughed and laughed, she thought it was great!


It is amazing what you can do with an apron, the possibilities are limitless.   Once I even lead one of our horse back home that had gotten out, with the use of  my apron.   I just took my apron off rapped it around the horses neck and we walked back home. Now that is functionality.

I have even used my apron to hold garden seeds that I was planting, it made the handiest little seed pouch.   When harvesting my garden produce I do not need to carry a bucket or a basket I just use my apron.  Picking gooseberries, chokecherries and plums from the prairie have never been easier now that I wear aprons. 


Now I know why my pioneer sisters before me dressed the way they did.  It was one of the most functional outfits going.  The only difference in my Farm Girl Dresses and Aprons is I do not have quite as many layers underneath my dress. I do not wear black stocking,  (I do is wear my black wool long johns when the weather is cold).   I don't wear a chemise, corset or petticoats, and I have not donned a sunbonnet upon my head.  But, like my pioneer sisters I do wear my Sunday best to go to the city.   I do my hair, were my city clothes, put on makeup, and even wear jewelry.  You would never know by looking at me in town that I dress in such a way at home.  The chance's of you seeing me dressed this way are slim to none, unless you happen to stop bye unannounced, like the UPS lady, Federal Express, mail carrier, and an unsuspecting neighbor. (I am not sure what they think and I am afraid to ask)

I do not know what you might be thinking right now about my fashion statement.   But I can tell you that not many people have had the privilege of seeing me dressed so fashionably.   I do know this that if Clinton and Stacey of TLC's What not to Wear ever saw me I would definitely end up on their show.   I am going for functionality and comfort not fashion, obviously.

So in closing I enjoy wearing my Farm Girl Dresses and aprons.  I look at my aprons and think how many meals has this vintage apron been part of,  how many tears have been wiped with the hem,  and how many hugs have been given.   So everyday, I wear my apron and I am proud to add my own memories  to those memories left by  those who wore the apron before.