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Progress Amidst the Chaos

Farming doesn’t wait for anything. This is a fact we have been aware of from the beginning, and yet it is something we don’t always prepare for, or agree with. The first frost will come regardless if we’ve harvested the cold sensitive veggies. Birds will take the same amount of time to grow out, so if we have a deadline for them to be ready, we need to start them early enough. Eggs need to be ready for Saturdays, so I should wash them before Friday in case we have an overwhelming amount. And there are so many more lessons that reinforce this fact. Yet we still feel like we are playing catch-up frequently.

With Robert working from home, we both thought we would be progressing a little quicker on some of our projects. Eliminating his commute has given him two extra hours every week day, which has been wonderful for both of us, but we haven’t used it as wisely as we thought we would. We finally ordered our first two batches of meat chicks on Friday. Last year, we had great results with the chicks from Freedom Ranger Hatchery, and we decided to go with them again this year. They will be arriving in late April, and then in mid-June. Once we have our first batch started, we will plan when our third batch will arrive. We are beginning to run low on chickens for sale in our freezers. We will be setting some aside for ourselves, and sell the rest. Unfortunately, due to living in Michigan, we can only raise pastured poultry for three seasons.

In addition to the chicks we’ve ordered, we have a goose who has started setting a nest. She has eight lovely eggs under her, and we are hoping for babies in about a month! We also expect a couple other geese get nests going. The plan is to increase our flock by about 10 geese, sell a few goslings, and have at least five to process for holiday dinners next year. We will also be looking for turkey poults to raise for this year’s holiday dinners. Hopefully, we can do some broad breasted, and some heritage birds as well. Just need some of our girls to hatch some babies for us!

Our sheep are getting rounder and rounder. They were supposed to be shorn this past week, but that has been moved back to this upcoming week. We are really looking forward to this happening so we can see just how pregnant those girls are. With eight pregnant ewes, we would love to have ten healthy lambs. More than that would also be great, but we want all of our girls to raise their babies without too much assistance from us.

Things are moving forward here on the farm. It may be slower than we had anticipated, in light of current events, but there is still progress. Depression and anxiety run in this household, and we are working through that. I am an extrovert, and I love physical contact. Seeing our friends at the market day and not being able to hug them is really difficult for me. Robert is different than me, and prefers being by himself. But he has also been getting a little cabin-feverish. We will come out of this social distancing event as slightly different people. Who knows when it will end.

This post was sponsored by our Patreon supporter Doreen. You can find her lovely hand dyed, hand spun, hand carded, and other hand crafted fiber supplies on her website Goldfish Love Fibers. You can find her on Facebook, Instagram, and probably elsewhere, which I will add as I discover them.

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How We Are Dealing With Coronavirus

To start, I want to apologize that we are adding one more thing to read about COVID-19. I promise this will be fun stuff, and not more PANIC or statistics or anything of the sort. This is just our plan for the next couple weeks. Please keep in mind that as things change, our plans may change as well. Our top priority is keeping everyone safe and healthy. In doing this, we also need to cover our farm expenses, and we will give you a few ways you can help us out!

The first thing we are doing is going to be a Facebook Live video on our farm page every day during this first week. It will be started at around 10:30am EDT. I will hang out with the animals and answer questions about them. Feel free to watch with your kids, or grab your cup of coffee and watch by yourself. If you have questions you would like me to answer, send them at any time and I will do my best to remember to answer them! You can also ask questions during the stream, and I will answer those as I see them.

We are also selling stickers to help cover the cost of feed while our sales are not going to be as strong. You can send us $5 if you are in the US, or $6 if you are international, and I will hand write a card and include a pair of stickers for you! We can take payments via PayPal, Venmo, CashApp, and all those other types of payment options. These are the awesome StickerMule stickers we’ve written about before. LOVE them!

We are also going to have a mini farmers market in our driveway on Saturdays, during the usual farmers market hours of 9:00-1:00. We did it on a whim this past Saturday, and it went well! We had a total of about 25 people come throughout the day. We will be offering mini farm tours so you can see some of the animals. They will be offered as we are able to do so. If Saturday does not work for your schedule, or you’d like a tour with just you and your kids to help keep the space between folks, you can reach out and we can do our best to fit you into our schedule. There will be Facebook events made for the driveway markets, which will last at least until the end of March.

I am doing my best to update our Patreon regularly. We have the new “Sponsor a Ewe” and “Sponsor a Goat” tiers, and most of the animals are still available to sponsor. Becoming a patron for our farm gets you some cool stickers and other farm products, and you get access to extra behind the scenes content!

One really easy way to help us out in a way that doesn’t cost you anything is to click through our Amazon links. Whenever we share products we like, such as this awesome tripod we just picked up, we include Amazon affiliate links. When you click on those, and make a purchase, we make a very small percentage of your transaction price. It doesn’t cost you anything! And it doesn’t matter what you buy, your entire purchase counts for us.

Finally, the biggest thing you can do to help us during this global hiccup is purchase a CSA card. We still need income to keep the farm running and keep everyone’s bellies full. We have shearing day coming up, a probable farm vet visit to make sure all the ewes are in the best shape possible before lambing season, and then we have to pay for fiber processing. These cards do not expire, and can be used on almost everything we sell. All of the details are in the post! We can hang onto the cards, mail them out to you, or you can pick them up at the driveway market.

We appreciate your support, humor, and kindness during this confusing and overwhelming time. We will all get through this together!

This post was sponsored by our Patreon supporter Melina. Find her gorgeous hand dyed yarn on FacebookInstagram, and Etsy, and find her knitting patterns on her website and Ravelry.
This post contains affiliate links. If you click them and make a purchase, we make a little money. Doing this helps keep our farm running.

2020 Uberlist · Goats · Tutorial · Uncategorized

Supplementing Copper for Goats

Different species of animals have very different nutritional needs. This is why there are so many types of feed at local feed mills and farm stores. There are even different nutritional needs between animals of the same species being used for different purposes. For example, broiler chickens need more protein and less calcium than egg laying chickens. Dairy cattle need more calcium than beef cattle. Pregnant and lactating animals need more protein and fat than others. One of the big differences between animals housed together on our farm is that goats need copper, and sheep can easily experience copper toxicity.

First thing’s first, how do you determine if you need to supplement copper? Generally speaking, goats will always need some source of copper. Some of the symptoms goats will show when they are copper deficient are as follows:

  • Faded coat
  • Fish Tail (the tip of the tail loses hair)
  • Hair loss on the face
  • Fertility issues, both in males and females
  • Difficulty during pregnancy and labor
  • Increased susceptibility to parasites

On farms that raise only goats, or keep their goats separate from other copper sensitive animals, the animal caretakers will often give a them a free-choice mineral supplement that contains copper. This is the easiest way of supplementing copper, and can be sufficient for many animals. It is important to remember that these mineral mixes provide a good baseline for the animals, but will not fix a severe deficiency. If you are lucky enough to have a local feed mill, they might be able to custom mix minerals for you.

Another easy way to provide copper is through goat-specific feed. It has the right balance of minerals and vitamins to raise healthy goats. We don’t feed our animals grain regularly, and again we house our goats with our sheep, so we cannot offer the feed to everyone. This also wouldn’t work for people who are raising their goats in a grass fed situation.

Because we have our sheep and goats together, we cannot give them a feed or mineral mix with copper in it. So we go the route of feeding them copper boluses. Our bolus of choice is UltraCruz. They are available in 2g and 4g doses. The larger one is for adults, and the smaller is for kids or very small adults. We dose with the larger bolus about every 8 months. So far, this has worked for us.

To administer the boluses, we skip the balling gun that so many people use. It’s just one more thing for us to drop into the mud, or to shove into our pockets. Our method of choice is to handle the goats one at a time, and give them animal crackers. Most of our animals would sell their best friends for a single animal cracker. They get one cracker, and then we shove the bolus into the back of their mouth, and quickly give them more animal crackers, being sure they don’t spit out the bolus in the process. Of our seven goats we treated this week, we only had one of them spit the bolus out. Thankfully, it’s easy to find in the dirt, and just shove it back in there. The packages all say it needs to be eaten whole, however we have not experienced issues with them being chewed partially before being swallowed. You may have a different experience.

What is important for your animals is that you are aware of their individual needs. Find a local farm vet if you are able, and work with them to figure out what will work on your farm. Do the best you can, and your goats will live happy, healthy lives.

This post was sponsored by our Patreon supporter Melina. Find her gorgeous hand dyed yarn on FacebookInstagram, and Etsy, and find her knitting patterns on her website and Ravelry.
This post is meant to be informative, and is not intended to treat or cure a sick animal. It will not replace advice from your veterinarian.
This post contains affiliate links. If you click them and make a purchase, we make a little money. Doing this helps keep our farm running.

Not Farming Related · Uncategorized

We’re On The Front Page!

Last week, we got a message online from a writer at the local newspaper. He was interested in interviewing us about the unseasonable weather we’ve had in our area lately, and we were more than happy to have him come and visit.

Photo by Brooks Hepp

Brooks Hepp, from Battle Creek Enquirer, came over that evening and we chatted while sitting on some inverted five gallon buckets, in our incredibly untidy garage. He had done some research on us, and asked some great questions. We then walked around the property so he could meet the animals and get some photos.

A few days later, super early in the morning, we received a message via Facebook. We found out we were on the front page! This was way more than we expected, and was really, really cool. We jumped out of bed and headed to the local gas station. We bought them out of Enquirers, and headed to another location as well.

The article was incredibly well written, and had some great information about us. We are so grateful for this opportunity to share more about us. You can find the full article from the Battle Creek Enquirer here.

Not Farming Related · Uncategorized

We Hate Helium Balloons

Pretty intense title, right? Well, we chose to omit some more… colorful… language from it. This should be sufficient to get the point across.

The GRAD balloon we found in the pasture, where the sheep and goats live

So, why do we hate balloons? Several reasons actually. Balloon waste has been found in the great lakes. We’ve rid ourselves of microbeads in most of our cosmetics, but the waste from balloons is going to end up in our fish. It’s killing our birds. Mylar balloons can short out power lines, and electric fences. And the worst for us? Our animals could eat them, and die. There have been several farmers worldwide who have lost livestock because they ingest a balloon. This is a long, drawn out, painful death. They can either suffocate, or the ribbon can get wrapped up in their digestive tract. Could you imagine the pain of having the circulation cut off to your intestines, and then having them ripped open, spilling digestive juices into your body? Gross.

The HAPPY BIRTHDAY balloon we found in our garden

In addition to all the pollution, there is a global shortage of helium. Several party stores have closed because they can’t acquire helium anymore. That sucks, right? Want to know what other industries use helium? Healthcare. Military. Nuclear power. Space exploration. Digital device production. [Source] So not only are we saying goodbye to balloons, we could be saying goodbye to SO MUCH technology, and lifesaving healthcare.

What can you do? STOP BUYING HELIUM BALLOONS! This removes the possibility of accidentally, or intentionally, releasing them. Balloons never make it to heaven, they end up in the pastures of your local farmers. Blow bubbles or sprinkle wildflower seeds instead. Encourage your loved ones to do the same.

Please note that I am not trying to call out any individuals. This is meant to make you think about your impact on the planet. If you feel personally attacked, it’s probably time for some introspection.

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Social Media and When Your Friends Let You Down

The last couple weeks have seen some really intense releases on the big and small screens. People have been talking about the movies and television episodes obsessively, and it’s gotten to the point where I have given up on reading anything online without those topics sneaking in. I don’t really care about either Game of Thrones or Avengers: Endgame, but I’m fine with others finding enjoyment in either or both. What I am not fine with is the amount of free publicity everyone is giving to both of those powerhouses, and getting nothing in return.

Running a small business is difficult. Robert and I are simultaneously farmers, veterinarians, publicists, marketers, landscapers, housekeepers, and so much more. We wear so many hats in one day, in addition to Bob’s full time job, that it’s shocking we manage to get any tasks completed. One of the only things that we can crowd source is our marketing. We have a small handful of friends who share our posts on Facebook, retweet us on Twitter, or leave us comments on Instagram. But the number of interactions we get across a month of posts on all platforms is eclipsed by the number of memes I’ve seen about Game of Thrones in the last week posted on just Facebook. And what are you getting in return for sharing some GoT related posts? Nothing.

We get it. You love these forms of entertainment. That’s awesome! But you know what is more important than entertainment? Your food. We are trying to grow and produce food that is healthy, free from growth hormones and weird antibiotics, and as good for you as it is for the planet. We are trying to make a small impact in our area. And we would really love if you gave the local businesses you support just a little bit of that energy you give to sharing posts from a literal multi-billion dollar industry. Businesses like ours depend on our fans and friends to help us out. We often don’t have a budget for marketing, and hope that something will gain some amount of traction and get noticed. Going viral can take a small business from something that barely pays for itself to a full time income. We don’t expect to go viral for anything we do, but we would appreciate receiving a little love from you.

I don’t want to come across like I am begging for attention. But I am hoping something I say resonates with some of you. Leave a thumbs up or a love on a post from a local business. Leave a Google or Yelp review for a place you really enjoyed. Shop at your local farmers market. Support the people who are helping to build your community. Not just for our sake, but for every small business trying to get a little bite of the pie.

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Applying For A FedEx Grant

Yesterday, I came across a really awesome business grant opportunity from FedEx. I filled out the application and we are now in the first round where people can vote for us. The number of votes are a small factor in deciding the recipients, but we hope to get as many votes as possible. You can vote once every 24 hours until April 1st 2019. Please take a look! Voting is easy, just a couple clicks and putting in your name and email address.