Proverbs 27:27 And thou shalt have goats' milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Goat Mites

Years ago, I had a young Nubian that was not as thrifty as all our other goats.  She had a ruff start in life and I had to do a lot of extra care to get her growing and healthy.  She lived here on our farm longer than most kids goats because I will not sell a sick or unhealthy animal to anyone.  I finally had her eating and growing well and was about to list her for sale, when I noticed she started to loose hair around her eyes.  This puzzled  me as we had been raising goats a long time and this had never happened before.  Soon she had flaky skin.  Her skin seemed thicker and coat looked a little ruff.  Soon she had no hair around her eyes, mouth and nose.  I did some research and found out she had mites.  I tried diatomatious earth and several other natural remedies to no avail.  Back then the off label treatment that worked was to inject   *Ivermectin ,the Cattle injectable kind, once a week for three weeks. (Do your research and try this at your own risk.  It is an off label treatment.)    Here is the quote from the website I got the information from, Onion Creek Ranch site... "There are several different products that can be used to kill mites on and under the skin of goats. The dewormer Ivermectin can be injected SQ, dosing at one to two cc's per 50 pounds bodyweight weekly for at least three consecutive weeks."         It worked, her hair all grew back in nicely and I sold her as a pet to someone.

Over the years I have had a handful of goats come up with mites.  It always seems like it is the goats in my herd that are not as healthy as the rest.  You know.  The ones that need worming more often.  That were smallish when born or don't eat as lustily for a goat.  I have not had the mites spread to other healthy goats in my herd.  Even if they were pen mates before and the *Ivermectin injected  always worked till this year.

This year one of my does started to have crusty skin on her udder.  I thought it was from the weather or her kid nursing to aggressively last year.  Then she started to loose hair around her eyes, mouth and down the back of both front legs.  She also lost hair in between her front legs, in what would be arm pits on people.  I guess leg pits??? If there is such a thing??    :)    You can see it in the below picture.
She also had some sores on the back of her front legs that would not heal no matter what I treated them with.  The sores were from her scratching herself there.  Poor baby.
I had not had a goat with mites in many years, so it took me longer than normal to catch on to what was going on.  I tried the injecting *Ivermectin approach and it did not work at all.  She still was just as bad as ever and for the first time a pen mate that was in with her had them mildly spread to her.  The * Injectable Ivermectin treatment did work on the pen mate.  I was at a loss and did a lot of research and found another treatment that was said to work but was also off label.  It was to use *Ivermectin pour on for cattle once a week for three weeks. (Try this at your own risk.  It is an off label treatment and not approved for goats.)  Here is the place I got this information from and the quote on how to use " IVOMEC® POUR-ON FOR CATTLE
Ivermectin Pour-On for Cattle

NOTE from Administrator: This is a cattle product but is commonly used on goats as Off Label- we use it at the rate of 1cc/20lbs in a syringe with no needle dribbles along the back line from neck to tail- directly on the skin for the control and effective removal of Biting lice and other external parasites. Even though this is also a dewormer, it is not effective as a dewormer on goats- Only as an external parasite control- you still need to deworm your goats for internal parasites. Ivermectin pour-on is the only effective parasite control I have seen that effectively rids the goat of Biting lice- This is equal to Ivomec PourOn"

It worked!  It worked fast and it did not cause her pain like the injections did. 

I treated her about a month ago and now she is slick and beautiful and her hair is all grown back again.

I know as I did my research that was not much out there that seemed to work well for this ailment.  This is what we ended up doing and worked for us.  A light case we used the first forementioned treatment and for the very heavy case, we used the later treatment mentioned.  Once again please do your reasearch and try it at your own risk.  Every goat is different and can react differently to different treatments espeically if an allergy is involved.

Blessings and Happy Farming!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Great Goat Experiment - The Results!

For the first 13 years on our farm, I raised and milked full sized goats.  La Mancha's and Nubian's to be exact. 

I started out all involved in ADGA (The American Dairy Goat Association)  Breeding acording to their showing and breed standards.  We had a herd name and number, papered our animals, tatooed our herd letters on our animals...the whole nine yards.  We kept a reputable clean closed herd.  After a few years of doing this I was exhausted.  It took me and several other family members four hours a day to do all the, milking and goat care.  We ran two separate herds, one pure bread Nubian and one pure Lamancha.  We had over thirty goats. 

One day while I was milking... and so very tired,  I asked myself why I was doing all this... I realized I was not doing this for my family or myself.  All I wanted was enough milk for my family.  I was doing all this to provide good goats for others to show.  Since I had been breeding these goats for several years, I also learned that what ADGA wanted in goats as a breed standard, the things that made them valuable for show points, was not valuable to me.  Although I wanted a nicly put together animal that looked good and held up for years...I also wanted goats that were easy to hand milk and gave a good amount of milk over thier lifetime.  I made some decisions that changed everything on that day.  All our goals for our farm and goat herd were now to make them what I wanted in a dairy goat and hopefully what other small farm milking people wanted as well...I am a much happier back yard farmer for it.  Having goats was enjoyable once again. 

I have found that there is just as much of a market for good back yard milkers, that are easy to hand milk, no matter what breed they are.  It doenst matter if they are pure bred or a cross breed.  (As a matter of fact, over all, I have found the cross bred goats to be healthier and more worm resistant)  In our area if they are from good milk stock they will sell.  Add to that, we still keep a clean closed herd and I usually have a waiting list on baby goats when they are born.  I keep the best of the best and only keep a small herd.  Enought does to rotate milking from year to year.  Enough to not be a lot of work for anyone and enjoyable.   Back then, I found I only needed two bucks and four does to keep my family in milk and genetics going for customers who bought the babies from me.  I would have to change my bucks out every few years to bring in new blood if I kept any does for myself.

In 2011 I was in the market for a new buck.  If I was going to keep any does out of my favorite does for my herd I needed an unrelated buck to breed to them.  So I started researching herds in my area.  I had not shopped for a Nubian buck in a long time.  I found that many of the herds I used to look at stock from, had gotten out of Nubains.  There were no really great herds in my area anymore.  So I thought I would look for a Lamancha.  Same thing.  What I found is many of the breeders that used to breed the larger goats had moved over into Nigerian Dwarfs.  This puzzled me and I wondered why.  After doing much research I found that Nigerians Dwarfs were much more efficient on feed to milk ratio if from good milk stock.  They were also more lucrative, as a good pure bred, papered Nigerian Doe from good milk stock can cost you 600.00 or more in our state.  Add in moon spots and blue eyes and the price goes way up there.  I also learned that they didn't need to be fed grain year round and only really needed grain while milking.  I was intrigued.  I was getting older and had some health issues and was having trouble handling the larger goats.  Also my family no longer needed the gallon a day milk production that my goats each gave.  I prayed about it, did some more research and in 2012 began the Great Goat Experiment.

I sold off my whole herd of full sized goats execpt for my two best milkers.   Twinkie and Bluebell.

It was emotional as I had bred for years to get exactly what I wanted and had some really great, easy to hand milk, back yard milkers.  I did a ton of research and looked at herd after herd online that bred Nigerian Dwarfs.  I looked at udders of certain goats, calling owners and questioning ease of hand milking, teat size, orifice size, amount of milk given and proof of clean herd status.  I narrowed it down to wanting to reserve several does born out of a few very good does, in herds within driving distance.  I took the money from the sale of my goats from my full sized herd and bought four baby bottle fed does.  These were out of four does that had what I was going to breed for.  Ease of hand milking, large amount of milk for a Nigerian and sturdy bodies.  I also bought two nice none related buckings that were out of really great milk does.  (A buck is 50% of your herd, one should always by the best you can afford as you always want to have your goal to be... to improve upon what you have with each breeding you do.)  I could not afford to buy adult goats, so bought bottle babies and raised them up and bred them.  I knew that not all babies out of the moms I liked, would be like their mom genetically and what I wanted in my herd.  I knew I might have to cull some.  But raised them up and prayed for the best. 
The babies grew and freshened for the first time, spring of 2013.  Two of the does did not freshen with what I was going to be breeding for so I sold them.  However Milky Whey and Plenty did have exactly what I was wanting.  So I had two very good pure bred Nigerian Dwarf milk does and two very good pure bred Nigerian bucks out of my initial investment.  I was not able to use the Nigeiran milk much last year as I was bottle feeding so many babies keeping a few to build up my herd.  I kept a very good buck out of Milky Whey to breed to Plenty next year.  

I also did a side experiment.  I just did not want to let all those past years of breeding full sized goats go to waste.  I wanted to somehow preserve my hard work and genetics in my two best full sized milkers and try out some mid-sized goats bred down from my two favoirte milkers that I had kept back, in case the Nigerians didnt work out.  So I  bred a very good Nigerian buck to my best full sized milkers that I had kept, to give me some mid-sized milkers to try.  Out of those breedings I ended up with three does to keep, raise and see how they milked.  Well, this was the spring I had been waiting for!  I bred Amelia and Mini Bell last fall to a full blooded Nigerian buck and they freshened several weeks ago.  I was so happy with them that I went ahead and sent my two full sized milkers that I had kept back off to another farm to be enjoyed. 

Whew...I said all this to share my thoughts and findings on my Great Goat Experiment!

First, I will share about the pure bred Nigerian Dwarfs

I have found they are very sweet tempered and easy to handle, even the bucks when they are in rutt.  I can easily trim hooves and give wormer by myself with no issues.

The bucks and non-milkers do indeed stay fat and healthy on good pasture, when it is growing and Bermuda hay thru the winter(and a handful of grain a day to keep them coming to me easily as a treat.) 

The milking does require way less grain for the amount of milk they give than my full sized milkers did.  Also, this is the first year I was able to make cheese from the Nigerian Dwarf milk.  It makes almost double the amount of cheese as I got from my Nubian and Lamancha milk.  We don't drink a huge amount of milk but use it for cheese, custards and ice cream.  So this milk is much better suited for our large family that makes these products frequently.   We are going thru less than half the amount of hay thru the winter so there is a cost saving there and my feed bill is down by half for them as well.  That is with me having 4 buck now, as apposed to the 2 full sized ones I used to keep and I have six does/milkers now as apposed to four full sized ones I used to keep.  So they are much more economical for our family and saving us hundreds of dollars a year.  Actually, to be very specific, I figured it out... $1,200.00 in grain and $300.00 in hay cost savings a year!

Since I bought from stock that was from proven milk lines, they are giving more milk than I thought they would.  Most people say their Nigerians give on average about a quart of milk a day.  Milky Whey is giving two quarts of delicious, rich, milk a day.  This is her second freshening. 
She is doing this eating two cups of grain a day and two cups of alfalfa and keeping good body condition.  Which I am very impressed with.  She is my easiest goat to hand milk and a very good all around goat. 
She gave me triplets her first freshening last year and triplets again this year again.  She birthed them easily and with out any help.

So to sum it all up.  I am very happy to have made the decision to switch over to the Nigerian Dwarf goats.  I am getting plenty of high fat, tasty sweet milk and they are very good, easy to handle goats.  They have saved me a lot of money per month, something that really helps with a large family like we have.  For our family, good quality Nigerian Dwarfs from good milking stock has been better for us than full sized dairy goats from good milk stock at this stage in our life.

Now for the experiment with the mid-sized milkers...  

Amelia (she got her Nigerian ears from the dads side)  kidded this year, her first freshening, with a single large buck. 
She had a very easy delivery and is a great little milker.  Her udder is nice, high, attached well and her teats have a good diameter and are easy to hand milk. 
Her milk is delicious and she is currently giving a tad over 2 quarts a day and that is as a first freshener!  She gives this much milk and keeps good body condition on 2 cups of grain a day and 2 cups of Alfalfa pellets.  I am very pleased with her and will be keeping her.  God has blessed us.  She has definitely measured up to her moms milking genetics and has been a very good smaller replacement for Twinkie, her full sized mom.

Amelia's twin sister Mini Bell got the La Mancha ears from her mom. 
This was her first freshening as well.  She gave birth to very healthy twins, a doe and a buckling.  She also delivered easily.  Her udder is very nice. 
Her teats however have been harder to milk from.  They are long and narrow.  When people look for an easy to milk goat they want long teats.  Long teats can be nice to milk on but it is the diameter that makes for ease of milking as well.  As when they are larger around they fill with more milk to be pinched off and squeezed out.  So even though Mini Bells udder is wonderful, her teat orifices are large and we get a good stream out of them.  Her teats are long and narrow, so it takes a lot longer to milk her as they fill with less milk each time we squeeze it out.  I am not going to cull her this year because every year that a goat freshens their udder gets bigger, they give more milk and their teats get bigger. (both longer and larger around)  So I will tough it out with her this year and see how she freshens next year.  I expect her to be easy to milk next year.  She acutally is already easier to milk than she was for the first week or so and is not terrible to milk,  just not a breeze like her sister.  Mini Bell is giving just under 2 quarts a day as a first freshener.  She is doing this and keeping good body condition on two cups of feed and 2 cups of alfalfa a day. 

So to sum up the breeding experiment of taking my best two full sized milkers and breeding them to my best Nigerian Dwarf buck to give me some mid-sized milkers...  This breeding yielded three wonderful, smaller easy to handle does.  The two that I bred so far carried over the good milking genetics from thier mom I was hoping for.  They are a little larger than a Nigerian Dwarfs but much leaner so have the same body weight and mass.  So are needing about the same amount of feed to make the same amount of milk as my pure good quality Nigerian Dwarf does I have freshened.  I am glad I did this experiment and can't wait to freshen Calfy, the last doe from this breeding I have not bred yet!

I hope this helps anyone considering buying and milking Nigerian Dwarfs or breeding mini-manchas.  As, if they are from good milk stock, can give you a lot of milk for much less money.  God has bless us so much in this experiment and I believe God led me to do this as it is saving us so much money and so much easier than farming the larger goats for me at this stage of my life.

Blessings and Happy Farming!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Mini Bell's Delivery

Mini Bell, my third and last goat I had bred for spring delivery, delivered on Monday.  She did a great job and easily delivered twins.  A large doe and a medium sized buckling.  They are beautiful. 

As many of you know I scrapped my full sized goat herd for Nigerian Dwarfs.  I did this because we no longer needed a gallon of milk a day, I needed smaller goats so I could handle them easier and that the Nigerians give a good amount of milk, if from good  milking lines, on way less grain. 

Before selling my best full sized milkers I decided to do a little experiment and bred my best La Mancha milkers to my best Nigerian Dwarf buck to get a few mid-sized milkers.  Mini Bell is one I got from those breedings.  So far I have been very happy with both the Nigerians and the mid-sized goats that have been bred and freshened.  I will be doing a post about what I think so far very soon.

Mini Bell freshened with a very nice first freshener udder.  However her teats are a bit narrow.

I am so happy all the goats have kidded.  All the kids have been sold and I can now just enjoy all the fresh daily milk. I can now also focus on my gardening which will need my full attention soon.

Blessings and Happy Farming!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Milky Whey Delivers Again!

Our very pregnant goat Milky Whey delivered yesterday evening.  Carolyn and I went out to milk Amelia and Milky Whey was laying down pushing.  She quickly delivered three beautiful and healthy babies.  Two bucklings and a doe. 

This is the first buckling born. Sorry the picture is so blurry.  All of the babies in the baby pen were being very active.  He is the smaller of the two bucklings but very flashy!

The second buckling born is very sturdy and larger.  Very pretty as well.  White with black legs.
 Here they are together.

I think I am retaining the little doe as I have not kept a doe out of Milky Whey yet and she is very easy to hand milk and is a great little milker.  She is smaller than the two bucklings born but very nice as well.  She is very famine and dairy looking for sure.  She has a few grey moon spots on her!

This is Milky Whey's second freshening.  I really like this does genetics.  She is a sturdy, easy to hand milk, high production, little milk goat.  I got her at Double Durango Farm if you want to see where she came from.  I was so happy with her, her first freshening last year, that I kept a buck out of her (Whey's Waldo) to breed to some of my other does this fall.

I pray Spring in your life is wonderfully blessed as well!

Blessings and Happy Farming!


Monday, March 31, 2014

Amelia's Baby!

Our little ornamental peach tree in full bloom!
Just when I think I have this farming thing down I get a curve ball. 

On Saturday morning I checked our three pregnant goats.  They all ate their breakfast well.  (Sometimes a goat won't eat if they are in labor.)  Amelia and MiniBell did not seem to be in labor at all and went out to graze... but Milky Whey seemed a bit uncomfortable.  She kept getting up and down and changing position alot.  Often a sign of labor.   Her udder was full and tight and her ligament had been very loose for a day or so already.   So, I had Carolyn go out, check on her and observe her every hour.  About the third time Carolyn went out to check, she came running in saying... Milky Whey was fine but Amelia had her baby!  We had not even been checking anyone in that pen! 

It is Amelia's first time to be a mom...
and she had one very healthy, adorable, sturdy buckling.
He looks a lot like her!

I took him away, milked out Amelia and bottle fed him the colostrum.  We will be selling this little guy as soon as I am sure he is nursing well and dehorned.

Amelia is one of my experiment crossbreed goats.  She was the daughter of one of my wonderful full sized La Mancha milkers, Twinkie, and a very good Nigerian buck.  Her udder is nice for a first freshener and her teats a good length for hand milking.  She gave about 20 ounces of colostrum and is milking about the same amount morning and night right now but her milk has not come fully in yet. 

Her full sister, Mini Bell, is due any day, as well as I guess, a very uncomfortable Milky Whey.  So... busy, spring, farm life has started back at full throttle.  I will be milking three goats twice a day once they have all freshened.  The only baby I might keep this year is a baby out of  Milky Whey, if she has a strapping large doe born to her.

I love spring on a farm.  The trees are getting buds and little green leaves.  The grass is growing.  My dad and William are supposed to mow this after noon for the first time this year.
First tulip of the year in my yard about to bloom!

First asparagus!
Garden helper and inspector.

I pray all is going well on your little patch of ground where ever you are around the world.

Blessings and Happy Farming!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Sourdough Bread (from real starter)

We have ground wheat into flour and regularly baked all things yummy and tasty with it over the last many years.  But the one thing I was always afraid to make was real sour dough bread.  I thought it would be to hard to keep a culture alive, especially if I did not feel like baking.  I thought it would be to  much work and very hard to do. 

Then one day I read a study done in Europe on people with Celiacs disease.  People who have to eat gluten free as it causes an auto immune response that harms their stomach and digestive tracts so much.  This article was of interest to me as Zeke has to eat gluten free with his autism.  If he eats gluten, he becomes angry all the time and lashes out with no inhibitions to stop him, has trouble concentrating to do his school work and his tummy hurts often when he eats gluten. 

In the study, I read that many people who had Celiacs could eat REAL Sourdough Bread, made from wheat with a starter, with long fermentation times.  Because... if prepared correctly, most of the gluten is either eaten by the culture or broken down enough thru the fermentation process that it did not cause harm to those that consumed it.  This intrigued me.  As we spent a huge amount of money every month on gluten free products for Zeke to eat and most of them he ate, but they did not taste delicious to him.  So I thought on this for a long time, still reluctant to give it a try because of all the work I thought was involved.

One day a friend and I were talking and she had gotten into making real Sourdough bread from a starter.  She had been very successful keeping the starter active and alive and baking with it for many months.  Ah ha!   A real person to learn from and talk about it with.  I told her about the article I read and asked if she would sell me a part of her starter.  Thank you so very much "J" for gifting me such a precious thing!   Once I had the starter, I went ahead and gave it a go.  Some of the recipes did seem complicated but I did find a few that seemed easy for me to incorporate into our busy life. 
Actually, the recipe I use is very easy and basically I am just babysitting the dough most of the time waiting for it to reach the right size when it rises.  I only physically touch it a few times. 

In most recipes you add the starter to half the flour for the recipe at night and through the night the starter eats on that flour.  Then the other half in the morning.  Let it rise once and baked it. The first batch I made this way did make Zeke have issues and I thought this experiment was a total wash.  But I gave Zeke a month back on a total gluten free diet to get back to base line and then tried again.  My theory was that we needed most of the day to break down that gluten and not just one rise but two.  So made it again having the dough work for a longer period of time and rise twice.  Glory to God!  He had absolutely no reaction to it and I have been baking Real Sourdough bread every week since that time. 

Now, I must put a disclaimer in here telling you, if you have a medical reason for not eating gluten, ask your doctor and try this at your own risk.  But for Zeke, it has worked with out reaction for many many months and this has saved us a lot of money by making bread for him this way and not buying gluten free breads and baked goods anymore.  Actually, It is almost the only type of bread I make now, my whole family eats it!

So here is the recipe that works for us!  Now they say not to use metal in this whole process as it damages the starter.  So I have a large ceramic mixing bowl I use to make this bread and wooden or rubber utensils.  Also you will need to find a place or someone to get a starter culture for making this.  There are places online to either purchase one or a few places tell you how to grow one of your own.

Real Sourdough Bread

The night before:
4 1/2 cups fresh ground whole wheat flour (we use soft white)
3 3/4 cups warm water
1 cup real lively sourdough starter

The next morning:
2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 table spoon honey
1/2 cup virgin olive oil
5 cups whole wheat flour

On the night before you wish to bake bread mix together the 4 1/2 cups flour with the 3 3/4 cups warm water with a plastic or rubber whisk. 
Then I whisk in my starter culture.
Whisking it in well to make sure it is incorporated well and wet and fluffy.  I set that aside and cover with a clean tea towel.  I actually don't measure the starter.  I just put in what I have in my jar, it is a cup or more.

The next day: the first thing I do is  TAKE A CUP OF STARTER OUT of the mixing bowl before I continue.  Yes, the whole bowl is the same thing as starter now.  So I take a cup out now before we add in any other ingredients, so I have starter to make the next weeks bread.  I don't  measure but just scoop some out (a cup guess-ta-ment) and put it in a small clean jar with an over sized lid, that I just set on top of it, so it can breathe in the fridge.  I set it in the back of the fridge till I need it the next week. (If you don't use it to bake with in one weeks time, you are supposed to feed it to keep it alive.  Just mix up a 1/2 cup wheat flour to a half cup warm water and mix in the starter.  Put it back into a new clean jar and let it sit on the counter for an hour or so and then place it back in the fridge. That's all you do to feed it!)  I have actually let mine go two weeks one time with out feeding it and it made perfect bread anyways.  So I guess it is very forgiving.

After you take out your starter and put it up you can proceed.  Mix in the salt, soda, honey and olive oil and then one cup at a time, mix in the flour. 

I use a wooden spoon for this but when I get to the last cup I have to oil my hands and kneed it in because it is so thick. 
I do this right in my mixing bowl till well in-incorporated oiling my hands as needed to keep the wettish dough from sticking to them.

I then cover my bowl again with the towel and set it aside to rise till doubled. 
This will take different amounts of time depending on how warm it is in your house and how active your culture is.  But for me it takes a few hours.

I then oil three bread pans and oil my hands. 

I divide the dough into three equal parts and kind of stretch and fold under a few times till I have a nice longish dough ball/log and place each one into a pan. 

I cover these three pans again with the towel and let them rise till they are to the top or slightly over the top of the pan.  This also takes several hours.
Preheat your oven at 425 and when your oven is hot put your loaves in for 20 minutes.  Then turn the oven down to 375 and let it bake till it sounds hollow when tapped on.  For my convection oven it is only another 20 minutes and it is done to perfection.  (so for me, in my oven the total baking time is 40 minutes all together) Some peoples ovens bake cooler than mine so have to bake it 10 minutes longer.

Once out of the oven, turn the loaves out to cool evenly on a rack and once cool, cut into slices and store. warm out of the oven with a huge slather of fresh salted butter.  YUM!
This bread does not last long around my home but I hear it keeps longer than most breads as it is a true sourdough bread.  I  also hear that as it sets out for several days it makes wonderful toast and great croutons.  But again.  It does not last that long around here.  :)

I pray all your spring plans for gardens and farms are coming along nicely!

Blessings and Happy Farming!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

A Beautiful Springish Day!

Today was a beautiful day.  It felt just like a perfect temperature spring day.  We had to take the day off from home schooling and go out into it.  I cleaned out many of my raised beds and started preparing them for planting.  William and Zeke helped me with two of them, we got a lot done.

I had planted two of these barrels with bunching onions late last summer and wow did they grow and get happy thru the winter.  I have been harvesting them as I need them in the kitchen and they just keep multiplying.

We had a few unusually harsh spells this winter.  Much of the things I could usually winter over outside died.  But while I was cleaning all the dead stalks out of the mint bed there were little new mint leaves emerging!  So we still have mint!

I also cleaned out all the dead ferns from the asparagus bed and found this two inch tall little guy.  ;)

I am planning on making a chick order this week.  I am still sticking with White Leghorns.  As they work the best for our large family on our tight budget.  The feed to egg ratio just can't be beat.  I always keep 2 or 3 Silkies around for hatching out eggs as well.

Our chicken area has not had a break from chickens for at least 13 years.  So we decided to get a whole new flock this go around and give away our current flock in a month or so and let that whole area have a good rest.  While it is empty, we will repair any fencing and the coop in places and clean and disinfect things really well.

In the goat area of our farm we are eagerly expecting kids soon!  I gave away my goats that were in milk last fall so have had the first break in many years in milking.  I have missed the fresh milk but on this particularly colder than normal winter, I was grateful most  mornings not to go out and sit and milk twice a day.

Milky Whey should freshen first.  She was much wider than this but as you can see in the second picture her babies have dropped down almost into position.  :)

I think the next one that will freshen is MiniBell.  She and her sister Amelia are a mid-sized goat.  A cross between a full sized LaMancha and a Nigerian Dwarf buck.  It is both Mini Bells and Amelia's  first freshening and I can't wait to milk them.  Mini Bells first new little udder is coming down and growing as her due date approaches.  No, she is not about to get sick.  I could not get her to stop following me so I could photograph her so pulled some privet down for her to eat.  I caught her with her mouth open!
 Her little udder, growing larger every day.  I am very happy with the teat length of both her and her sister.  Great size for hand milking.

Amelia is Mini Bells twin sister.  (Amelia was born with the Nigerian Dwarf ears.)  Amelia must have been bred a bit later as her tummy is not quite as big.  She would not hold still either.  Here she is battling for privet with her sister.

 Amelia's udder is just coming in now.

I really want to get Calfy bred for fall/winter milk but she has not come into heat at all.  Neither has the other goat I was wanting to breed for then, Plenty.  I might get a break from milking again next winter if I don't get one or both of them bred soon!

Here is Calfy.  Very curious about my cell phone camera.

I really love goats and think that they are wonderful creatures.  They have great personalities.  Especially when bottle raised.  They are very functional on a small farm for forage control, fertilizer, meat and milk.  Great little animals!

Pray your spring farm planning is going well!

Blessings and Happy Farming!