Hot Days in East Tennessee

It seems like every day is warmer than the last one! If you need to get something done outside, your best bet is to do it before 8 am or after 7:30 pm… even so, I still find myself sweating from the most bizarre places. Did you know you can sweat from your calves?

Things are running pretty smoothly at the farm. My goat herd size is easily manageable now. I only kept my favorite goats – Annabelle & kid Pebbles, Sweety & doe Gracie, Molly the Fainting goat, Herman the very little Pygmy wether & Bongo, the Nubian/Boer wether.

Of course Frosty the registered Saanen is the queen (although she doesn’t rule… the littlest one, Sweety – she’s the boss! Frosty continues to give me a quart of milk (2 lbs), twice a day.  Sometimes a little more but that’s fine with me.  I’m still trying to figure out how to use all she’s already giving us!

I get a lot of pleasure from milking her. It’s very relaxing and very rewarding.  I’m still amazed at this “gift” that comes from her.  If things are going smoothly at the barn, she may produce a little more but if things are crazy – like if Sweety is trying to boss her around, she produce a little less milk.  I guess her udder is temperamental!  She’s so different from the Pygmys.. she’s very calm & gentle.  Never acts “starved” like the Pygmys – always comes to her food very nonchalantly – not like, “Finally!  Food!”  I’m very happy with her.  She’s a wonderful addition to the farm.

The horses are getting fat off the pasture.  They’re all very healthy & playful with each other.  However if they see me, they too think, “Yes, food!!!”  What is it with critters?  Is food all they think about?

Summer heat & humidity brought on tons of flies.  One afternoon I noticed how many there was… my poor horses were so covered with them it was like their entire faces were black!  Because they didn’t like the spray (I had to fight them to put it on), and the roll-on was too expensive, I had to find another solution.  Danny at the feed store recommended Python Magnum – these are tags that are attached to cow ears & they repel flies for up to 4 months.  I put one on each side of their harnesses & I am extremely pleased with the results.  Of course they still have flies but I’d be willing to say the tags eliminate 90% of the flies.

The only drawback is that I had to put halters on them – I’ve always been against this practice because anything can happen in the field.. they can get hooked on a fence post, they can hook their rear hoof in the halter while scratching.. any number of things can occur.  And of course something did!

I noticed last night that Daisy June (miniature donkey), had a sore under her chin – who knows how she hurt herself but the halter rubbing against it made it much worse.  She’s penned up now, getting penicillin and ointment & I think she’ll be fine – just needs some meds for a few days along with some TLC & she’ll be okay.  I had to pen up Madigan with her – Madigan worked herself up all night because of this separation – poor thing brayed & pranced all evening!  However, I think Daisy June enjoyed being away from her… Madigan’s the bully & Daisy June is real mellow & quiet.

The 3 llamas Stormy, Major & Big Al are not enjoying the heat either.  I’ve set up 2 large fans inside their shelter.  We turn them off at night and you can be sure that by 10 am the next morning, all three are laying in front of the fans waiting for them to get turned on.  Once the fans are blowing, the llamas stay there until the weather cools down around 4 pm.  Big Al will also stand near the garden hose & wait for someone to come around and hose him down!

Pork Chop & Bacon are enjoying their life…  eating, getting fat, wallowing in the pond – life doesn’t get any better!  Enjoy it porkies… come Autumn, you’ll have to live up to your names!

My 6 Bantam hens have given me over 100 chicks since Spring – however because they’re free roaming, only about 6 of the 100 have made it to adulthood.  Wild animals, hawks, barn rats – all have contributed to the diminishing number of chickens.  I finally decided to have a large fenced in chicken coop added to the barn – hopefully that should be up by the end of summer – it would be up sooner but it’s just too darn hot out there to expect anyone to be working outside!

Right now I’ve got a hen that’s running around with 12 chicks and another hen sitting on 8 eggs.  Hopefully the coop will be built soon enough so we “save” all these cute little guys.  Chicks are so adorable – truly you have to watch their interaction to appreciate them.  They’re not so cute when they’re chickens but it’s nice to be there for the journey from chicks to chickens.

My ducks were prolific this year but not all the ducklings made it.  I really felt sad for this hen… for 30 days she sat on that nest & protected those eggs with her life.  All the while her sons from last years hatchlings stayed nearby & patiently waited for mom to finish her job.  She hatched 9 live ducklings and after keeping them confined for a week they made it to the pond… only to be greeted by a snapping turtle who proceeded to eat (kill) 6 of them before we realized what was going on & set up a trap.  Then mom & one duckling got run over.  The only ducking that survived was adopted by the other hen who was smart enough to stay out of the pond.  All 7 of her ducklings are still happily paddling in the pond!

So it’s been a good summer at the farm.  Life is good.  Everyone is healthy & happy & it still brings me so much pleasure to interact with them.  Being around my critters is therapeutic.  It doesn’t matter how much manure or goat poop that I clean – I still enjoy doing this.

I’m looking forward to Autumn, when the weather starts to cool down and that I can stay outside longer without sweating so much!

It’s nice to be at a point where the number of animals that I have is so manageable.  When in a hurry, I can get everyone fed & watered within 30 minutes.  Add an extra 5 minutes to medicate Daisy June & that’s all it takes.  Of course with fewer animals, there’s a lot less clean up required too!  It’s been all good but its even better now!

I feel so blessed that I have been able to do everything that I had dreamed about as a child.  Life has been good, very good & I thank God everyday for loving me as much as he does.

If you want to contact me, please email me at – I might miss your comments if you post them on my site & I hate it when I realize that I have a comment that has not been replied to.

This will most likely be my last post until Autumn – May you all have a safe & blessed summer and thank you for being a faithful “fan” of my website.  A bientôt chėres amis!

Animated Goodbye Graphic

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Milking goats… world’s best kept secret!

Anyone but me would just say, “I’ve got a dairy goat & I’m milking her”.  But of course, not me… I’ve got to make a novel out of this episode of my life… so here’s my story!

A few weeks ago our friend & priest Fr. William visited with some of his cousins from Africa.  They were amazed that I have goats as pets.  The fact that I don’t eat them or milk them was a concept they could not comprehend.  Pet goats?  What da heck for?

Gabriel explained to us that when he lived at home in Kenya, every morning before walking 5 or 6 miles to school, he had to hand milk the entire herd of about 20 goats.  Sometimes other members of the family (or families), would pitch in but it was just another chore.  Gabriel seemed nostalgic as he related that experience…

So here we are standing around watching the goats & Gabriel asked if he could milk Molly.  Her kids had left a few weeks ago & she was still bagged up pretty solid.  We put Molly in the stanchion and within a few seconds, we had a full glass of warm, frothy milk!  It all happened quite quickly.  No hand washing, no udder cleaning… just squeeze, squeeze & there it was… a full glass of creamy, fresh milk! Gabriel & Fr William thoroughly enjoyed their little treat.  I didn’t taste the milk that Molly gave us… I’m not a clean freak but that was a little too “raw” for me.  I’m sure I just imagined it but I thought there were little hairs in the milk & and maybe some dirt specs.

So that got me thinking that maybe we should “harvest” this milk so I started doing a little bit of research.   I’d found several milking systems but all I had was one little goat – I needed something simple!  That’s when I came across the Henry Milker.   This is a nice little hand made device that uses a little pump, some clear tubing, a large syringe & a Mason jar.  It’s really not worth $125 but then again, it does what it advertises & the fellow told me if I wasn’t happy with it, I could send it back for a full refund.

Poor Molly, she didn’t have a good udder to start with. She had had twins April 4th and they grew big & strong very quickly. They put quite a strain on her bag. When Easter & Lilly left for their new home when they were 8 weeks old, little Peppy realized that he could nurse from her (his mom had been sold a week after Molly’s girls had left). He’d grab a teat and hold on while she tried to “stiffly” run away (Molly is a Myotonic Fainting goat).

I first started milking her & was really enjoying the experience. Although Molly had plenty of milk, it just didn’t seem right to continue to milk her with her teats so distended. I was afraid they’d eventually “detach”. So I started shopping for a dairy goat. Research was unanimous. Saanen‘s are the best milk producers of the dairy goats.

Luckily, less than 10 minutes from here is a small dairy farm that raises Saanens. The next day after chatting with Miss Parker, I was picking up Frosty. Miss Parker & I quickly became friends and within a few days, my husband Scott & I were there learning the process of making goat milk cheese. We felt that everyone should know about this & so Scott put together a website for Miss Parker… GoatsGotMilk Although it is up and running, at this time there’s very little content. We’ll have a “For Sale” page with pictures of each doe & her registration documents. More to come on that!

For reasons only Frosty knows, her production is only about half of what she should deliver. Right now I’m getting about 1/4 gallon, twice a day. Even if this is much less that what it should be, its plenty for Scott & I. We’ve never drank so much milk before! Going from 2% cow’s milk to raw goat milk is quite the radical change but we love it!

Milking is something that must be done twice daily at a regular time. It’s a chore but one that I’ve come to look forward to. I’ve lived in the “big” city most of my life (Montreal) & I’ve had my little farm for about 3 years; still it is amazing to me to obtain this life-giving produce from one of my animals. This is so much better than raising animals for meat consumption!

Here are a couple of videos of me milking Frosty. Please note that all my jars have been thoroughly cleaned; my towels are washed & rinsed in a mixture of Dawn dish washing detergent with Clorox. The components of the milker are also washed with the same solution and so are Frosty’s teats before & after milking. She makes her own way to the stanchion and often times remains there munching even when I release her.

I empty my jar between teats – reason being is that this procedure works well by creating a vacuum.  When the jar is half full, there is less of a vacuum & it affects the speed at which the milk flows.  Note that sometimes I pronounce “teats”, “tits”… not sure how to say it – seems like everyone around here pronounces it differently.  I made the mistake of calling them “nipples” & I was kindly corrected.  But then again, Miss Parker says “Teats” & my neighbor says “Tits”.. whatever!!!

The entire milking is over within 3 minutes.  It takes me longer to prep everything, clean & put everything away than it does to actually “pull” the milk!  Naturally this video is very “matter of fact” but when it’s just Frosty & I, it’s a very therapeutic time.  For both of us!  Frosty gets her favorite food, gets her ears & chest scratched and receives some tasty “Nicker Bocker” horse treats when we’re done!

The secret to good, fresh tasting goat milk is keeping everything clean & chilling the milk as quickly as possible. I don’t have a fridge in the barn but I bring an icepack cooler with me and immediately put the jars in the cooler so they stay cool until they get to the fridge about 20 minutes later. It also helps if you don’t have a stinky buck in close vicinity! Odor in the air will quickly be absorbed by the milk.

So there you have it! I hope you’ve found this post interesting.. please let me know if you have!

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Summer is just around the corner!

Here we are, last week of May.  All the goats that I had up for sale have sold.  I have 2 little ones that are reserved & will be picked up June 12th.  It’s so quiet at the barn now.  When I wake up in the morning, the sense of urgency to feed the “starving” goats is no longer there.  All you can hear now are the roosters trying to out do each other!

Lets see, Sweety & her doeling Gracie, Annabelle & her doeling Pebbles, Molly the fainting goat, the wethers Bongo & Herman & our stud, Billy… that’s all that’s left as goats!  To think that I had 16 or so kids in the month of April!  Well, I sure am glad the “selling” experience is over!  What a hassle that always is.  I hope I remember this when I think about breeding the girls in November!

The last 6 weeks or so has caused me to think about how things can get expensive when animals start needing veterinary care.  First it was Angel the pound hound that was diagnosed with Diabetes (I can write an entire post on that alone!) $500., then Major the Llama went down (he’s fine now… $295 later), then Gracie the goat & her C-Section $250 & lastly Mandy, the MinPin mix we adopted when my mother-in-law passed, $250….  those bills added real quickly!

One fine day after spending over an hour cleaning up the Pot Bellys Dogloos I got to thinking about how much money was being spent on these 3 animals that I rarely saw!  They’re were always sleeping somewhere & only came out to eat!  Lulu was still totally wild although I’d had her almost 3 years!  Grumpy was okay & so was Ms Piggy but they just kind of hung together & stayed away from people.  Then I quickly started to count feeding costs & realized I had spent at least $1200 on these 3 for the last 2 to 3 years!  WOW.. rude awakening!

So I found all three a good home together and since I had the perfect pig area, I went out and bought 2 “freezer” pigs.  This brother (neutered) & sister pair are a Hampshire mixed breed that apparently are the best for this purpose.   Scott named them Bacon & Pork Chops so that we never forget why we got them!  I found that contrary to the Pot Bellys, these two are excellent swimmers and come out of their pasture via the pond.

I’m still trying to reduce the number of animals but only if I can find excellent homes for them.  For instance, I’d love to find a home for the 3 Llamas but only if they can go together to the same place for the last transition of their life.  Otherwise, they’ll stay here and we’ll continue to care for them & enjoy them as the lawn ornaments they are.

Same thing for Madigan & Daisy June, the miniature donkeys that we got in September ’07 (see picture).  Because miniature donkeys here are almost a dime a dozen, its not easy to determine that a future home will be the last home.  It would kill me to know these girls were separated!  They’ve been together since birth and are almost 3 years old now!  They’re at the perfect age to breed but once again I don’t want to get into babies anymore.   I guess they’ll be here for a long time… I’m just not ready to take a chance that someone wouldn’t be as caring as I am.

I almost sold the donkeys a year ago… then all of a sudden I started to wonder if they’d be alright, if the new owner would only keep one and sell the other.. it just broke my heart thinking of it!

We had 2 duck hens hatch several eggs.. Sadly, from the first group, 6 ducklings got eaten by snapping turtles.. (which prompted hubby to acquire a 22 caliber rifle). Only one left in that little family.  As for the other family, this mom is a little smarter & stays closer to home.  She still has 9 beautiful little ducklings following her everywhere!

Our Banty Cochin hens have also been very busy!  We have several families scratching around at the barn.  They’re of different age groups and stay very close to mama hen.  One of the clutches has a mama & a nanny!  These 2 girls couldn’t decide who was going to hatch the clutch so they did it together.  They too are a pleasure to watch!

As for the miniature horses, they continue to be totally adorable.  My guys are all very loving and good horses.  Ol’Blue must be almost 25, Buddy the cremello gelding is about 4 or 5 & then Toffee the baby will be 2 in a few weeks.  They get along great, they’re pretty good with the farrier & they’re beautiful to look at and enjoy.  Scott & I get a lot of pleasure looking into the pasture and seeing Buddy chasing Toffee playfully and nipping at Blue on the way!  The Llamas always look at the horses with an air of superiority!  It’s a beautiful view from our porch!

On a final note I have to add that people are funny… I just recently decided to post a “donate” button on my website because I was spending so much time answering emails & comments from my website.  All proceeds will go to our local animal shelter.. not to me.  In any case, since the appearance of the “donate” button, I’ve had not one single query & I had always had a few every day before that!  Don’t you think people are funny?

Have a good summer everyone & remember to always be kind to animals.. they too are God’s creatures & we’ve been entrusted by Him to always treat them with care & respect.

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The Joy of Selling Online – doesn’t matter what you’re selling!

The part I dislike about having a bunch of little goats for sale is actually selling them.  If you set aside the fact that you really never know what folks are going to do with your animals (you have to trust your instincts here), that is not the hardest part of selling your little creatures.

I don’t know if any of you have ever had to do this.  I’m going to tell you a little about how it goes on down here & although I’m going to keep my stories to those of selling animals, the same thing happens no matter what you’ve got for sale.

I put a lot of work in putting up accurate descriptions of what I have for sale.  I list everything I possibly can about each individual animal.  I also put up pictures & videos & links to more pictures & more videos.  I also indicate what I’ll do for them in the price I list.  Vaccines, worming, hoof trimming….  I’m also very honest about their level of “tameness/friendliness”.

If you compare my animals to any other offered online either via craigslist, my local LSN website or any other out there, you’ll see that my animals look much better than most available.  My prices are very fair & there’s a reason why some doelings are $100 while others are $75.  If you read the description, you’ll clearly see why.

In any case, the reason I’m writing all this is that once you’ve seen my listing, you’ve learned enough for you to make a decision if you want one of my goats or someone else’s.   At this point all you need to do is email me or pick up the phone to make an appointment.  Easy, right?  Too bad that’s not how it works.

Here’s a scenario… Mrs So & So calls and talks my ear off for 10 minutes about how she’s always wanted a goat for a pet.  Then she says she’s been on my website and want’s to know what I have for sale… duh?  They’re all there lady…  After I spend another 10 minutes asking her what she wants (adult, doeling, buckling, etc.), she asks me if she can come now.  Seeing that I want to be accommodating and that I do want to sell my goats, I rearrange my schedule and make sure I’m going to be here when she & hubby arrives.. after all, it’s an hour drive and I wouldn’t want her to show up and I not be there.  Well, do you think she shows up?  Nope.  Do you think she calls?  Nope.  Not only did I waste half an hour on the phone with her but I changed my schedule to accommodate her.  You would think she would have the decency to call to say she’s changed her mind.

Then there are the people that start off right and I send them a Paypal invoice for a deposit.  Lady gets the requests and emails me to ask if I can wait until the end of the week for her to send the payment.  She really, really, really wants these 2 goats but she doesn’t deposit her paycheck until Friday.  Okay.  I understand.  I’ll wait.  And I turn down a sale because this nice lady has dibs on 2 goats.  Friday comes & goes & I have to resend an invoice reminder.  The next day I get an “I’m sorry” email… “I’ve changed my mind”, says the nice lady.

Here’s the best story (& probably the one I understand the least).  Lady calls from Ashville, NC., around 3 pm on a rainy Sunday afternoon.  She really, really, really wants 2 of my goats and asks if she can come that day.  I tell her that she’s at least 3 if not 4 hours away.. wouldn’t she like to wait to start in the morning?  Oh no she says… I really want them & my husband doesn’t mind driving at all.    They don’t have a GPS so I tell her which exit to get off and call me at that point & I’ll give her further directions.  I even hear her say, “Honey, they’re off exit 347 on I40 East!”   She’s so excited she says, she can hardly stand to wait!  Twenty minutes I spend on the phone with this lady while she’s on my website asking me about each goat listed!

At 7pm no one is here and I’m at the barn for evening feed… I call her up and I’m so sure she’s on her way that I just ask her which exit she’s at.  She asks me to hold & I hear her say, “She want’s to know what exit we’re at?”.  The husband comes on and says, “Huh?  We’re not making a 6 hour trip at this time, what are you talking about?”.   At this I say, “What?”  YOUR wife said you were on your way, what da heck?”  He has the nerve to say that he didn’t know his wife said they were coming and by the way, they don’t have any money right now any way.  I kid you not.  This is the truth.

What is wrong with people? I actually posted about this a few years ago – you might want to read about that experience.

People don’t understand that when you reluctantly hand me $100 for a goat that I’ve kept & nurtured for a year, the value of that purchase is more like $300.  All the time & money that I’ve invested in that little creature (not to mention the TLC), adds up to a lot more than $100.  Especially if you’re the person that kept me on the phone for 20 minutes, had me reschedule my day and then spend 45 minutes “shootin’ the sh**” when you pick up your animal.  And that’s if you buy a $100 goat!

Most folks are truly oblivious of this when they buy from private sellers, whether it be animals or anything else you find online.

Don’t get me wrong… I love talking about my pets & I want to be sure you know what you’re getting into when you buy one of my animals but for crying out loud, don’t waste my time.  You know who you are.  I cannot believe that people who don’t have the money can call in the first place!

I did have one wonderful experience earlier this week.  A very nice young lady called – she pretty much knew what she wanted & she also had over an hour drive to come here.  We made an appointment & she said she’d call when she was about 30 minutes away.  And she did!  Then she got here with her adorable little girl and her mom (Gramma).  I almost had a heart attack… this young woman & her little girl pretty much knew all of my goats by name!  You could tell that these 2 had done their homework!  It was such a joy spending time with them!   I hope they read this post…  Thank you ladies for being so informed & knowing what you want!

A man once told me something very wise & profound that I’ll never forget.  He said, “If you want to make a small fortune with goats…. start with a large one!”.

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Kids, kids & more kids!

These last 3 weeks have been pretty busy here at the farm.   It seems like every other day one of my does was popping kids!  Late this afternoon Sweety ended the kidding spree.  Let’s see where we are at…

04/26/10 Sweety (3)

1) Buckling mostly black 1) Buckling mostly white 1) Buckling mostly grey

04/25/10 Cocoa (1)

1) Buckling, gray black & white

04/24/10 PeeWee (1)

1) Buckling black & white

04/23/10 Gracie (1, almost!)

1) Buckling, C-Section.. deceased

04/22/10 Brownie (1)

1) Doeling brown with black trim

04/18/10 Oreo (2)

1) Buckling Black & White (Jethro) 1) Doe all black with tiny white spot on forehead (Twiggy)

04/14/10 Annabelle (Nubian Boer Cross) (1)

1) Doeling almost all white (Pebbles)

04/13/10 Chausette (3)

1) Buckling mostly brown 1) Doe mostly brown 1) Doe mostly white with brown spots

04/11/10 Noel (2)

1) Buckling white with brown spots 1) Buckling brown with black trim

04/04/10 Molly (Myotonic Fainting goat) (2)

1) Doeling tri color (Easter) 1) Doeling, brown & white (Lilly)

Final count… bucklings (live) 9, Doelings 7… not too bad, could have been worse!

I have one doe left, Pepper (Cocoa’s daughter from January ’09) that may be pregnant but wouldn’t be due until September.  Now I have to name all these little stinkers!  Suggestions welcomed.. I’m all out of ideas!  Later this week I’ll get my hubby to help me and we’ll take individual identifying pictures.

Since I’m on the subject of counting, how many goats do I have?  Well, besides these 11 does, I have 1 breeding Pygmy/Nigerian breeding buck Billy, 1 Nubian/Boer cross wether, Bongo & Herman, one teeny, tiny wether Nigerian Dwarf.  Total 14 adult goats & 16 kids!  Geez! No wonder Danny at the feed store loves to see me pull up!

Did I mention that earlier this week & bought a little feeder pig?  I purchased a 6 week old Hamshire/Yorkshire cross sow (Pickles), that we’ll feed & love for about 16 weeks.. then we’ll eat her.  There’s no other way to put it… if it’s anything like eating locally raised beef, these pork chops should be awesome!

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Parasite Control – Effectively & economically!

After this article posted, I received some valuable feed back from a contributor concerning Llama worming.  Please note the following correction…

“In regards to M-worm prevention almost everyone has either returned to Ivermec as a preventative or moved their Dectomax schedule to 30 days as it was subsequently proven that the Dectomax does NOT work on a 45 day schedule and in fact is not as effective as Ivermec when given in 30 day increments.”

This information was confirmed by the vets a University of Tennessee & contributed by:
Deborah Logan
South East Llama Rescue
SELR Giftshop
Adoption Coordinator AL/GA/TN

Thanks Deborah for the important correction!  Friends,  please be sure to visit Deborah’s website & her virtual gift shop

I know posting about this is going to open up a whole can of worms!

We have a lot of animals here and parasite control can become quite the chore.. not to mention quite expensive. We have two office cats, Minou & Sola , three office dogs, Angel, Taz & Mandy, two guard dogs, Diesel & Beulah, and last but not least two house dogs, Mouse & Zipper. These are just our pets… I’ll get to the farm critters later!

Continue reading

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Last Day of Winter at the Farm

Spring is just a day away & the sun has finally decided to show it’s face! Well, not for long as rain is predicted for the next few days.

In the last few weeks I’ve been quite busy answering all kinds of questions left for me in my various comments section. Not only have I helped goat owners (I think?), but I’ve also made several new online friends! Isn’t the internet an awesome media for learning stuff & networking? Just remember folks, whatever I respond is just based on my experience & research. If you have any doubts whatsoever, please contact your vet or nearest veterinary teaching university – there is usually someone there able to answer any of your farm animal related questions.

That being said, I think I’m ready for summer…While we were working in Daytona, Tim “mucked” out the barn & the outside sheds. I cleaned out the tack/feed room and my medical/first aid cabinet. I took out all of the heated buckets and replaced them with my automatic watering buckets. Just that makes everything so much simpler! All I have to do is tip them over for a quick rinse and then just let them fill by themselves!

Winter wasn’t harsh here but it did seem to last way longer than usual. Of all the animals to care for during sub zero weather the rabbits were the most time consuming. Their water bottles were not heated and so twice a day I had to replace frozen bottles. That meant I had to lug hot water from the house to melt the water nozzles! It got to be a little crazy so I found a good home for all of them… except Lattée.

Lattée has been freely roaming the barn area for more than a year. I’m amazed that she hasn’t been caught by something. This little bunny is crippled… one of her rear legs was bent when she was just a fluff puff and she just holds it crosswise under herself. But she can still run fast! Nothing can catch her! Every morning when I open the door to the barn, she’s just laying there in the middle of the barn looking like she owns the place! I hate to admit it but I have a resident barn rat that’s nearly as big as Lattée!

Speaking of rat, this thing is so brazen that it walks across the barn.. doesn’t run! So I set up a live trap to catch it to relocate it (what, me kill it? No way). Well, the next morning, there was this rat in the trap. Big one too.. Had to be at least 8 inches long, not counting the tail! I was about to put it in the truck & bring it to an abandoned barn down the road when I looked at it’s belly… wouldn’t you know it.. she had 2 rows of little buttons (nipples).. which only meant that she had babies somewhere! I couldn’t take her from her babies – so I let her go! The only damage she’s done is to dig tunnels under my feed bins. She doesn’t get into the feed but I leave bowls out for Lattée, so now I just leave out a little more. What can I say? God created barn rats too.

I sold several goats & both Glory & Coquette (who’s due to foal by the end of March). Over the last few years I had accumulated way too many animals & it seemed that my hobby had become a job. I spent so much time “working” at it that much of the pleasure of having a petting farm had disappeared.

I’m still working at thinning the herd – most of my does are pregnant and are due to kid during the month of April. There is no more enjoyable time at the farm than to sit and watch the antics of a bunch of little goats! They can be so entertaining!

I think “Uncle Stormy” the llama, senses that there are babies on the way. He seems to prefer to stick around the barnyard than to roam the 8 or so acres of pasture that we have for the 3 llamas, 3 miniature horses & 2 miniature donkeys.

Still quite a bit of work to do over the next week. All the goats need to be wormed and vaccinated. As do the mini horses & donkeys. My friend, neighbor and farrier will need to come and help me trim 20 hooves. We’ll take a few days to do that… it’s really back breaking doing those little guys!

The llamas will be loaded in the trailer & brought to L & J Farm supply – I need to use his cattle scale to get an accurate weight to worm them. They’ll also need to be vaccinated. Waiting to hear from an expert as to what to vaccinate with. CD & T or horse 8-Way??? In a few weeks, Bobby the shearer will have to come by and give them their summer “make-over”. Fiber sheared & hooves trimmed. These guys need to be handled in a llama chute for this kind of work. Major’s fiber (which is high quality), will be sent to a lady that spins it and makes stuff with it.

The 3 pot belly pigs probably need to be wormed… Another use for Safeguard for horses.. just double the dosage & insert in a Twinkie! How easy is that?

Grumpy & Lulu have survived winter in their “dogloos”. As long as they had plenty of blankets to wrap around, they were fine no matter how cold it got. I got an entire new appreciation for “pig in a blanket”.. these guys really know how to wrap themselves to stay warm. You have to see this to believe it. They were totally “rolled” into their numerous blankets inside their dogloos. These animals are very smart!

My little black Cochin Bantam hen is again sitting on about a dozen eggs. The other 4 hens were laying eggs on top of her.. when I moved her into a safe hen house, she was trying to incubate about 30 eggs! Poor thing! Once she was settled in her new nest box, she sorted out the “bad eggs” and kept about a dozen. Another nest has been started in the hay feeder but none of the hens are sitting on them. If I don’t see some motherly action soon, the pigs are going to get a nice big omelet!

The ducks are ignoring the laying box I set out for them.. every day or so I pick up a large duck egg from the strangest location.. in Miss Piggy’s bowl, under the goat feeder, under the manure buggy… not the smartest animals at the farm.

Before I tackle any of the above chores, I’m going to beautify the barn. Time to remove the Fall Harvest theme (yep, never got to taking those down), and put up plastic flowers, colorful bird & butterfly decorations.. and just spruce it up!

Sound like a lot of work? Well it is but I enjoy every minute of it! If you’re in the area, drop by and lend a hand… the pay sucks but the benefits are great!

Well, enough rambling.. time to move on! Please join me on Facebook, where friends gather and share our crazy love for our critters!

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Zipper.. our Border Collie Puppy

Quick note.. shortly after I posted this story my husband decided Skippy was more appropriate than Zipper… so her name has been changed!

Well, we’re back to Zipper… for some reason we Skipper/Skippy just didn’t work for her!

Let me start by the beginning.    Early December I noticed that my neighbor down the hill had acquired a Border Collie puppy.  This would seem appropriate for him as he deals in cattle.  Buying, selling, transporting…  so using the talents of this kind of dog was natural.  He had her in a 4 x 8 pen that held a doghouse & a bucket of water.

About a week after I noticed the puppy there, I also realized that I never saw Randy take this little dog out.  At this point, I’d stop & visit the puppy every morning on my way to the barn.  I really couldn’t drive by without stopping… she’d sit between her dog house and the side of the pen and very submissively bark & wag her tail.

She had ample shelter but didn’t have a view of anything until whatever it was would pass in front of her.  On her right was the barn wall and on her left was round hay bales.  All she could really see was my driveway.

It was tearing me up to see this beautiful little dog confined this way.  Border Collies are extremely high energy dogs and are meant to work.  One of this dog’s mission is to please humans.  She had no company whatsoever. Mouse would occasionally make it down the driveway and check her out but that was it.
Just before Christmas I called Randy & briefly talked about his dog.  His comment was that she had food, shelter & was not mistreated therefore I shouldn’t worry about her.  He just couldn’t understand that dogs need more.   I finished the conversation by saying that if ever he wanted to part with her, I’d be happy to help him find her a good home.

My visits continued.. at one point I removed her collar.  She had grown out of it and Randy obviously hadn’t noticed that it had become very tight.  Not life threatening but certainly very uncomfortable.  Every day I would tell Scott how bad I felt about the little dog… and every time he’d respond by say, “Christine, you can’t save them all”…

Well, last Tuesday night (January 12th), after I had just stopped and given the puppy a few treats, I pulled into my driveway and saw that Randy had followed me up.  I greeted him with a smile saying, “Are you coming to give me crap because I’m giving your dog treats?”
He responded by saying, “No of course not… I just want to find out if you want her.  I’m having to move and I can’t deal with a dog at this time”.
I was flabbergasted!  I really didn’t want another dog.  Dealing with Mouse was tough enough… a Border Collie?  Not sure I wanted to sign up for a 15 year contract again – especially so soon after Sheba had just passed.  What was I to do?  There was no way this little dog could stay there!  So I said I’d take her!

After my barn chores the next morning I went to get her (she was only about 100 feet from my barn).  She was so excited!  As far as I know, she’d never been on a leash and we did get tangled up several times but we made it to the barn.  She was very skittish and everything around her intimidated her.  She looked at the goats strangely…  then there was this gleam in her eyes and it was like she made a realization… “Hey, this is where I’m supposed to be!  I’ve got animals to gather and herd!  Yay!!!!”

She spent her first day inside the barn area but when I returned the next morning, she was so happy to see me that I just couldn’t leave her by herself.  We decided that if she was a “good girl” she could share the house with Mouse,  our Bichon Frise.

And what a joy she turned out to have around!  She’s a smart dog she is and such a quick learner!  For her first night I tied her on a short leash to the dresser next to my bed.  Besides moving around a lot, she was relatively quiet.  I can’t trust her loose – she has a tendency to get “chewy” – if I catch her in the act, a stern “No!” has her stop immediately but if I wasn’t there, that item would be totally destroyed.

Her and Mouse get along well enough.  Zip wants to play and Mouse doesn’t quite know how to respond to this overly excited, yappy and brave little dog!  They have moments where we either have to scold them or just send them outside.

Zip’s natural instinct to herd and gather has gotten growls and snarls from the rest of the pack…  “Who is this dog who want’s us all together?  What is this all about?”  She also “stares” a lot at the other dogs and it appears she’s staring right in their eyes.  To the big Mastiffs, this can mean a standoff – but it’s not at all Zips intentions.. it’s like she’s saying, “Now what? Now what?  I’m ready, let’s do it!”

Scott & I are happy she is with us.  So what’s another extra muzzle to feed?  In the big scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter.  This beautiful dog needed a good, loving home and she found that here with us.  It also makes me very happy to see that Zip is as attracted to Scott as she is to me.  The first day she was here I thought this dog would never leave my side but she has adapted well and knows her rank in the pecking order with the other dogs.  Now if Mouse can just stop squeeking!

The funny thing about the addition of this new dog, Mouse has become a little more attached and loving towards Scott & I.  Until the arrival of Zip, Mouse would spend most of her day (and evening), outside with the Mastiffs.  It’s like she preferred their company to ours.   Now she’s always with us.

Yesterday Zip’s crate came in and she spent the night in it.  I  heard her whine a little but she calmed down very shortly after all the lights had gone out.  Her crate is not in our bedroom (neither is Mouses’), and I was afraid that she might be a problem – her first night in the crate.. it could have been ugly!  But it wasn’t.. she was the perfect little dog!

I’m amazed at how quickly she learns and how delicate she is with us.  She always comes when you call, practically sits on your feet and gently lifts her front paws.. but oh so gently, and sort of stands against you.  I know I shouldn’t allow it but she’s so gentle about it!  Her favorite toys are my old pink plush slippers!

At this point, the most difficult issue to resolve with Zip might never be resolved because of her natural herding instinct.  She loves to come to the barn but absolutely cannot resist chasing/herding the goats!  She scares them nearly to death!  A few bigger goats like Annabelle & Noelle aren’t impressed but the little ones just run and run.  Zip doesn’t even try to touch them.. it’s just about making them move!  I’m trying to keep her on a leash at my side while I tend to the goats but it’s not easy, not to mention that Zip is just so excited about it all!  I’m going to have to look into the special training she’ll need to make barn visits easier on the goats, and ducks, and chickens, and horses, and llamas!  Zip will try to herd/chase anything that moves when she approaches!

We’re very happy with this lovely dog & I’m sure she’ll be with us for many more years to come!

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Our beloved Sheba 1999 – 2009

I’ll never forget the day my husband & I were sitting on our patio in Wylie, Texas enjoying the hustle, bustle of 4 pesky little Chihuahuas. Dallas, Woody, Murphy & Lucy were the cutest little things! They totally ruled the house! Friends & neighbors would comment on how loving & friendly our little Chi’s were and how they were not like most Chihuahuas.

Amidst the puppy activity Scott said to me, “Honey, I’d really like a “guy” dog!” He didn’t know much about dog breeds & left it up to me to find the perfect pet to add to our already busy canine household. I knew right away he’d love a German Shepherd. They’re big but gentle, protective but loving and extremely smart.

I found a family in Royce City, about 45 minutes away, who had a large litter of pups to choose from. We met the folks and were able to see both the dam & sire of the litter. Daddy was HUGE & scarey looking but he was exactly what Scott wanted in a “man” dog.

Scott picked Sheba (her name hadn’t been chosen then) – or more than likely Sheba picked Scott & off were were to introduce this 8 week old bundle of paws & ears (she had yet to grow into those), to our clan of little fuzzbutts.

We decided to name her Sheba because we’d figure she’d be the queen of the dogs in our household. Well, that was what WE figured. The Chihuahuas hadn’t agreed to that. It didn’t take long to see that Sheba was at the bottom of the pecking order and she didn’t rule… not yet!

Eventually they all got along and became one big clan. I don’t know if Sheba became to think she was just an over-sized Chihuahua or if the Chi’s thought they were under-sized GSD’s but they all got along perfectly!

Through the years Sheba grew into her role as family (and Chihuahua), protector. We traveled in a motor home extensively for a few years as our business led us from one location to another. Sheba always did well and it was a great assurance to know she was always “on guard”. Of course the Chihuahuas were the “first alert” system but all it took was one deep GSD “woof” and anyone coming to the motor-home was immediately cautious.

Probably the nicest thing about Sheba was her devotion & attachment to both of us. Usually German Shepherd dogs are attached to one member of the family. But not our girl. She would get very nervous if one of us left. It was like she felt she couldn’t do her duty as protector if we weren’t together under her watch.

As the years rolled by Sheba just got older… Years of jumping in and out of the truck bed (her favorite place to lay whether it was moving or not), had given her arthritic shoulders. We’d often call her “Hopalong”. However, if she thought she saw something in the field, she was off! She’d love to chase the White Tailed deer but all she ever caught was the occasional squirrel.

We knew Sheba didn’t have many years left with us. German Shepherds start getting old real fast by the time they’re 10 but our girl was doing pretty good. She had a great life & roamed our property at her will. She’d never been chained or restrained in any way. But she did start to slow down and became very temperamental with the small dogs. Earlier this year she mortally wounded Rocky, our 4 lbs Chihuahua. Late this summer she severely hurt Taz, Rocky’s little brother. The relationship with the 2 of them was never the same. Little Taz stayed as far away from her as he could. As a matter of fact, Taz hasn’t been the same since then!

Mid-November we returned from our cruise to find that Sheba had lost lot’s of weight during our 8 day absence. Tim confirmed that she did throw up most of what she ate. We brought her to the vet who couldn’t find anything wrong with her except for a small case of roundworm and a low white cell blood count. She was on antibiotics for 10 days and seemed to do a lot better.

At this time we had brought Sheba to live with us in our house – she had spent the last year living at the “office” with Angel, Taz, Mandie & the 2 cats. She took great pleasure in this “treat”. The only reason we hadn’t brought her in before was because of her incredible shedding! I felt it in my heart that Sheba was seriously ill and thought she deserved to finish her life in the house. She’d been so loyal and loving for the past 10 years, I owed it to her to live with the fur floating all through the house!

She continued to loose weight and vomit everything she dared to eat. We brought her back to the vets and they kept her. They did exploratory surgery to see what was blocking her intestines (the barium radiology didn’t show anything), and only found a horribly inflamed pancreas. Cancer was highly suspected and a biopsy was sent out.

I visited her on Friday the 18th of December. She wasn’t doing well at all. She was on IV and didn’t perk up at all when she saw me. She got up and vomited a pool of blood. I told the vet I was coming by the next day with Scott & we’d let her go…

The vet called Saturday and said she appeared to be doing a little better… Sheba had asked to go out. She was on different meds and the vet suggested we give her until Monday. Well, early Monday morning Dr. Bristol called and said she was going downhill fast. So Scott & I headed up there. I brought her old stinky dog blanket/bed and laid that in the truck bed.

Dr. Bristol brought her out – by then she was just a sack of limp skin & bones. She’d gone from a 110 lbs dog to a barely 60 lbs dog in less than a month. As she was laid there, weak and looking so defeated, Scott started talking to her and she lifted her head and looked in his eyes and I could swear that she smiled at him. It was like when she saw him, a certain peace came to her.

As she lay there in her favorite place in the world, while Scott & I comforted her, Dr Bristol led her to Rainbow Bridge

We had her cremated and her cremains will be disbursed throughout the field where Sheba loved to run and chase squirrels, bunnies and sometimes White Tail deer.

Sheba, we loved you so much… you are missed and thought of often…

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Blondie & Bogart’s first day out!

My little Peewees had been confined to an inside stall since they got here last Saturday.  It is a nice stall, very comfy… lots of fresh hay for bedding, very airy & open but still I knew they were dying to get out.

I had let them explore the barn and they checked everything out – sniffing chickens, looking at the goats looking at them… just looking out at “freedom”

I had even walked them around on a lead and let them nibble on grass & clover… yes, there’s still some beautiful greens out there.  Stuff my goats would NEVER eat!  Spoiled goats… all they want is hay & their morning grain!  Note here to anyone thinking of getting goats to keep their grass trimmed – it doesn’t work.. goats will only eat grass if they have absolutely nothing else!

In any case.. I got my peewees settled in a new pen.  One that opens directly to the barn yard.  I removed the goats that I thought could be a problem (now those goats hate me), left behind Annabelle, Bongo, Herman, PeeWee  & Boo (they’re not interested in the horsies), and of course Ms Piggy.  Their new pen is again filled with fresh hay for bedding (and snacking) and is large enough to accommodate them long term.

As soon as they saw the gate opened & the view of the barnyard, they just trotted out and made it to the nearest clover patch.  I stayed close by  – on the lookout for the dreaded “clover-slobber” but they didn’t react to it so I left them to do what horses do best… browse.

Of course when the sun went down they weren’t anywhere near being ready to come in but I didn’t want to leave them out.  They need to be safe in their pen.  I caught Blondie (oh yeah, they wouldn’t just come to me, I had to catch them), and lead her in with Bogart following close behind.

I got them settled in with a cup of Junior Equine formula and they were blissfully happy to be locked in again!  Fresh Bermuda grass, grain, clear fresh water… what more could they ask for?

I took a few pics.. enjoy & feel free to comment.  I love to read what my fans have to say!

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