Friday, September 22, 2017

Getting Ready for Baby Goats. . . 09.19.2017

It's been a long time coming,  but we are anticipating the birth of baby goats within a month's time.  This road to breeding goats and successful kidding has been a struggle and it's not exactly the struggle I want to share as a blogger and homesteader, but maybe my experience will help another goat newbie.  I feel like it's worth sharing.



Two years ago I bought our Nubian, Luna, who was already in milk.  She was a two year old freshner, meaning that she had just given birth.  All went well that first year with milking and her health. But last year came and we spent the entire breeding season running her back and forth to the breeders home (thankfully, they were only 5 minutes down the road) trying to catch her cycle so that his buck would breed with her.  It was a very frustrating time. 



First, breeding animals is not as easy as just putting them into a pen together.  The doe needs to begin cycling, which for Nubians happens around August and lasts until January.  This doesn't give much of a window of time.  Each time we thought we had a successful breed, the next month she would show signs of heat again and the final time I actually administered a blood test thinking we had won victory, only to get a negative pregnancy test.  Second, I found out goats need to be up on their minerals to actually go into a full cycle.  I was at my wits end and didn't know where to turn.  


I needed answers and quickly.  So, I began researching websites of goat owners that had been raising goats longer than I.  Two sites kept coming up with lots of information; Fiasco Farms and Land of Havilah.  Plus, an excellent book to read is Pat Colby's Natural Goat Care.  The overall consensus of information I read lead me to realize that my goats were not only copper deficient but selenium deficient.

The only way to boost copper is to copper bolus - which is where you stick a gigantic pill down the goat's throat for them to swallow.  I bit the bullet, bought the bolus gun and tried the pill.  YouTube is a great resource for information, but even after watching the videos over and over again, I still didn't get the pill all the way past the back of the throat where goats have some serious molars.  Each of the goats had a nice tasty chomping of a copper capsule.  Uggh!  

Right after this first blousing, I also began administering 1 teaspoon of selenium powder every night.   I was in shock; within weeks this is what I saw.  Mocha went from a dull, dreary rust color to a vibrant chocolate brown, her coat was once coarse and fried feeling was beginning to have a smooth and shiny character to it and she went into a raging heat within two months (I knew this because Doug was going nuts trying to get into the pen with her).



Deborah Niemann of the Thrifty Homesteader top dresses her copper.  Most sites recommend copper blousing every 6 months, but I did find several recommendations that if the goats are in an area where there is much sulfur in the water to copper bolus every 3 months because sulfur inhibits copper intake.  This led me to try three months later top dressing the copper.  This worked well, but some of the copper remained at the bottom of the feed pan.  I think that I will continue to top dress the copper only because it was less stress on this owner and all goats participating.

Fast forward to August and I actually witnessed Luna go into her first heat.  It was a very quick one of only several hours, but it was a start.  I can now see that the health of my animals is on the right track.  Here's hoping she'll be pregnant by the end of the year.



Mocha was actually bred in May to our little Nigerian buck, Doug.  I was worried that she wouldn't be in top health for her pregnancy so I did a few things to help her put as much energy into growing healthy babies as she could.

  • I dried her up from milking as soon as we got the pregnancy results.  Goats can actually be milked up to two months before kidding, according to Fiasco Farms, but like I said, I wanted her putting energy into growing healthy babies, not making milk for me.
  • I began administering an herbal supplement that included nettle, spirulina, alfalfa, dandelion and marshmallow leaves.
  • I began giving her Diamond V Yeast Culture - It improves digestion, muscle weight gain, litter weights, milk production, conditioning, and even survivability in all the various animals it's been tried on.

My girl, Mocha, is getting bigger everyday.  My birthing kit is almost ready.  All that's left is to clean out her stall about a week before her due date.

I've seen slight movements on her right side which I'm hoping is those precious babies getting closer to coming out to meet us.  The farm kids are so excited to hold some baby goats.

I realize this post went rather long, but if it's helped please let me know by leaving a comment.  I would also appreciate hearing any comments on anything else that I need to do to prepare for goat babies.


Friday, September 15, 2017

Canning Tomatoes. . . . 09.14.2017

Oh my!  I just looked at my calender and realized it's really halfway into September.  Has anyone else had that "Awh Ha" moment?    School is in full swing in our house;  I have 4 still participating in our Bibby Christian Academy; one in 9th, 7th, 5th and 3rd this year.   The excitement for beginning a new school year lasted all of  . . . 30 minutes.  No, I'm really kidding. . .  it was more like 3 days!  Lest you think that after 16 years of homeschooling I have it all together, pssshhh - Homeschooling is an ever evolving learning process for not only the students but for momma.  We always begin the new year with an annual "let's burn last year's papers" fire in the fire pit.  That coupled with some really dry pallets made for a very enjoyable evening with delicious smores.




Tomatoes, tomatoes everywhere.  That has been the motto of my kitchen part of August and into September.  When the tomatoes ripen, one must can tomatoes, make salsa (green and red) and spaghetti sauce.  Have I ever mentioned that my hubby my family really likes tomato based recipes?  So, hop in the car with us as we travel to our favorite spot to get THE BEST organic tomatoes.



It's only a 20 minute drive from our home, southbound on the 101.  If you haven't taken the time to travel through the Avenue of the Giants. . AKA - the Northcoast Redwoods. . .you need to!  There is something magical about driving through these towering giants looming over the top of you.  Gene and Ginger Sarvinski are the proud owners of the Corn Crib.


Sunflowers greeted us a we pulled up to the stand.  My children were more enamored with the sweet dog that needed some attention (which I am absolutely sure, she gets an abundance of all day long!)  Our first trip out there we loaded 80 pounds of tomatoes into the back of the van.  While that seems like a lot, it's really only 4 big boxes.   Since, then we've been back for 4 more boxes.  Yes, I am that crazy tomato canning lady!




The girls helped me immensely one day. . . it was homemaking skill learning day.  I'm not sure if they will can food for their family one day, but I sure think it's a skill worth passing along.  It is frustrating knowing that we can buy already processed food so much cheaper than canning our own. .  BUT . . I'm committed to teaching these children of mine a different way of life.  The time went by so much faster this way and it's a memory I will treasure for years.

Every good canner needs good products.  My water bath canner is on the verge of springing a hole in the bottom of it, so off to a flower planter it goes.  I'm due ready for another one anyway.  You will also need a set of tools.  George's favorite tool is the magnetized lid picker-upper - he calls it a "fishing pole," and always asks if he can go fishing with me.



In the end, after a lot of hard work and energy, you CAN(no pun intended) end up with a pantry looking full and stocked for the winter.  Plus, you will have the satisfaction knowing that you put it up with your own hands.  The Lord intended us to work hard. . 


Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. Exodus 20:9

You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. Job 1:10-11

I said in my heart,
"God shall judge the righteous and the wicked,
For there is a time there for every purpose and for every work." Eccl 3:17


Thursday, August 31, 2017

August 2017. . . . Farm Update

August has come and gone.  While everyone else in the nation has been enjoying unbelievably warm temperatures, the Pacific Northwest has struggled with slightly foggy, and much colder days.  This is due to the extreme heat inland in Redding and to the south of us in Garberville.  But that hasn't stopped the Preciouspeas from having a great summer.


Blue skies and slight breezes make for the perfect getaway to Samoa Beach in Eureka.  It has become a new favorite spot for the littles.  The inlet is just the right depth for swimming.  Sand squishing between the toes, sand castle building and maybe even a few gymnastic back flips and cartwheels have been know to happen while we enjoy our days relaxing here.


My mom lives in Sebastopol, so one weekend we decided to hop in the car, drive 4 hours to a hotel for more swimming fun and a chance to view Grammie's collage artwork displayed at a local community center.


Just a few blocks from her apartment was a beautiful community park, complete with a rather large pond (green as it may be).  What fun we had when we found an abundance of ducks, even several momma hens and ducklings.  It just so happens that it helps to have a huge bag of rice cakes in the car to pull out to feed all of these starving hungry said ducks.

Wait a minute?  "Did you say that you just fed the snacks mom had planned for the ride home to the ducks? " Hmmm.. . .   good thing mom was planning on stopping at "In and Out" on the way home for a late afternoon treat.





One Blessed Acre Farm is going to be featured as one of the vendors at the Fig Twig Market again this year.  If you are local, please put this great event on your calendar, November 3 and 4 at the Humboldt County Fairgrounds. 

So, therefore, soap making is in full swing at our house.  HELP!  I'm running out of curing space.  Making over 200 bars of soap takes quite a bit of space to house while it's going through the four week curing process.


Being helpful to friends in need always brings joy to my heart.  Heather had butchered her two turkeys and they needed to be canned.  I have never canned meat before, so not only was it a learning experience for me, it was a time saver for her. 

Have you ever canned raw meat before?  While the process isn't difficult, the actual canning time was long.







My 30th high school reunion happened this month also.  It was an amazing night out with my wonderful hubby. 

We attended a beautiful wedding first.  Just imagine 300 guests sitting on hay bales overlooking our valley with a little breeze blowing, watching and awaiting the bride who ascends up stairs cut into the side of the hill by her hubby-to-be.  The reception was held in the bride's family barn and it was an image straight out of Pinterest or Instagram.  White twinkling lights, white linens with white china and crystal goblets..... appetizers galore, a donut/chocolate bar and so much good food.  We actually left our kids with friends of ours while Mike and I headed off to the reunion.  The kids described their evening to us later the next morning.


High school reunions are interesting. . . . .   I loved seeing that the same old antics that happened when we were young, still happen when we are old.  Every class has that same funny guy who cracks everyone up in the room and in our case we had two!  The biggest lesson I learned over the weekend was how selfish I was during high school.  I feel like I didn't take the time to invest time into getting to know my classmates on a more personal level.  I was too focused on my own goals and desires. . . . I should have taken time to get my eyes off of myself and onto others. 

The Lord has been leading me on a new path. . . one of selflessness.    I have been pondering how to invest more time into others needs instead of my own.  I have recently started using doTerra Essential Oils.    I am absolutely loving the energy I'm experiencing and the kids are enjoying the benefit of the oils at night to help them sleep better.   This company also is doing great things for the communities around the world where they source the plants from to create the essential oils.  

I want to share this new information and company with anyone who is interested in improving their health, vitality, energy levels, stress levels and detoxifying their life.  As soon as I get my website up and running, I will get a link up on the side so I can share this with everyone I can.  My goal is to also incorporate these great oils into my existing lotions and soaps.  So stay tuned. . . 




Monday, July 31, 2017

Crater Lake - Day 5 and 6


One more exploration day at Crater Lake.  I just couldn't resist showing some more amazing shots of the lake.  And, well, my cute kids posing in the snow and at all the lookout spots.  The highest lookout spot is called Watchtower outlook, at 8100 feet.  It was enough to send my vertigo into a rage.  There was no way that a minivan should have ever been allowed on the road, or what they deemed a road made of gravel and a very steep drop off to never - never land.



Final destination before leaving Crater Lake - the gift shop of course.


Dad made all the kids a deal - he gave them $100 to shop with on the vacation.  The object was to control their spending.  He wasn't buying snacks or souvenirs - no begging allowed.  Here was the catch. . .  whoever came back with the most money won an additional $100. 

Everyone was very careful to only spend their money on those items they deemed absolutely essential and by the last day each of them had most of their money still remaining.  Abby quickly realized she had already spent more than the others had so she wouldn't be winning the additional $100, so what's a girl to do. . . well, she bought monster feet.  I think she got the best deal of all.  What 9 1/2 year old wouldn't want monster feet - and pink for that matter!


So, who won you might ask?  It happened to be a certain teenage girl - Hannah.  She was followed by a close second to Lindsay.

Our last day led us on an early morning hike on two different trails.  The Natural Bridge trail took us right along the Rogue River Gorge.  Beautiful, breath-taking boulders with thousands of gallons of water flowing over the top, snaking here and there, getting trapped in caves which were old lava tubes.  If I was a betting girl, Disneyland took their inspiration for their log rides from this gorge.





The Mill Creek Falls trail took us 2.5 miles round trip to two waterfalls jutting out of the mountainside; water flowing right underneath the tree tops.  Then back up to the top of the river where giant boulders created a series of falls and rapids for the river to twist it's way downward. 




Later that evening, the highlight of my day was taking these two littles up to the bridge near our cabin.  There was shallow water in which they could actually play in.  Mind you this water had to be 40 degrees.  George laid down, plugged his nose and dipped back into the water.  His face coming out of the water was contorted due to the extreme cold.  It was quite the sight.  Abby tried to imitate him, but she just couldn't muster up enough guts to dunk her whole head into the water.  It was pure joy!

Another glorious vacation.   We all can't wait to see where Dad takes us next year!


Monday, July 24, 2017

Crater Lake - Day 3 and 4

Diamond Lake was on our agenda for today.  When every last kid is whining to go swimming, what's a dad to do, but find a lake.  He found one, situated about 40 minutes from our campsite.  We could not swim in the river behind our campsite because the current was way too strong - I had visions of children being sucked into the twisting, turning, rushing Rogue River.

The sun was shining, glorious and warm without a cloud in the sky to be seen.  The water was blue, not as vibrant as Crater Lake, but none the less beautiful.  George was the first brave soul to jump in and wade out as far as he could stand on his tip toes.  The girls followed - skittishly, squealing as their bodies hit the 40 something-ish degree water.


We drove over to the other side of the lake, where we found Diamond Lake Resort.  After lunch Dad took the kids on a paddle boat ride around the lake for about 45 minutes and gave momma the last 15 minutes.  That was all that my legs could take.  Feel the burn baby!


When a morning of fishing with Dad led to no fish caught, but lots of mosquito bites, dinner was turned into beer can chicken instead of fried fish.  The rest of the day was spent relaxing.  Grandma and Poppa enjoyed an afternoon of watching downloaded movies from Netflix, while Dad taught the three littler kids to whittle. Several knives were crafted and I did see the makings of a gun at one point.  It was just like clock work every afternoon - like a bunch of baby ducklings following momma- Grandma, Poppa and five children exited the cabin and proceeded to the ice cream shop next to us.


Three of the kids participated in the Junior Ranger program through the National Parks .  This is an absolute must to do if you ever visit a National Park.  Each child gets a workbook to seek and find the answers to word searches, mazes, puzzles and short answers.  Once the workbooks are completed they get turned back in to a ranger.

This time the kids actually got questioned about their answers.  I overheard the ranger ask what their favorite spot at Crater Lake was and to describe the things they had learned while there.  After all the questions were answered, they each got a badge and the ranger officially introduced them as the newest Junior Rangers.