Saturday, April 23, 2016

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Butterfly Came

 This week I made a big, scary, important decision about this blog:

I need to change it.

 Five little words... Yet so much trepidation behind them. For three years I've fought the nagging sense that 'To Sing With Goats' did not fit me any more... I even made a few comments about that here on the blog. But I could never bring myself to change any of it (except make it look a bit more professional). How could I even THINK of changing it!?!? I'm that "Goat Song Girl", for goodness' sake! People all over the world Google the blog name just to find and read me! I've built a readership, established an online name, made an icon of the tag "Goat Song"... Nopenopenope. Can't change this blog, quothe the scared farm girl.

  I've left this blog, and come back to it more times than I can count. Each time I leave, it's because I can't bear the feeling of 'not belonging' in my own online space. Each time I come back, it's because I miss the writing so fiercely, and want to try making it work again. But it never works. You know why? Because every time I try to come back and write regularly, I'm faced with a monster of my own making. This blog is my monster. It's not me... It looks something like me, it even sounds like me, but there's no soul here. It's an empty mask of a person, trying to please everyone who comes, and in doing so she loses herself. I. Can't. Do. This.

  Let me tell you a little secret: I've never held down a "real job" for longer than two months. And I've had quite a few jobs. Even working at the vet clinic, which was a total blast, only lasted precisely two months. The reason? I couldn't be my authentic self at those jobs. I had to follow someone else's rules. Those jobs, even though I enjoyed most of them, were soul sucking. I unconsciously rebel at anything and everything in life that doesn't allow me to completely and joyfully express exactly who I am.

  This blog became that soul sucking job. Something I did every day, did well at, loved doing... But there was an element missing: Me. 

  Granted, this blog used to fit me like a glove. I started it as a young teenager, living under her parents roof in Oregon. Now I'm a married woman, with a 4-month old son, living in the heart of Missouri. I've changed so freaking much in these last three years that it even scares me sometimes. But it's also exhilarating. And joyful. And full of surprises. The caterpillar in Oregon turned into a butterfly, here in Missouri. And the butterfly looks shockingly different from the pudgy bug it once was.

 So, I made the decision. This blog is going to change radically. The old posts will all remain, but the name is going to change, the look is going to change, the focus will slightly change (still lots of farming stuff. But I'll be expanding into other topics as well). And yes, I may very well lose readers when I change it. You make come here and be too freaked out to ever come back. But that's okay. This is for me. I need to stop hiding. Stop masking myself. I am an acquired taste, and not everyone may like that. I am ready though. And I am excited.

  This change will not be immediate, mind you. I want to have this website overhauled by a professional, and that is going to cost me about $3k; which I most definitely do not have right now. But I'll come up with something. It'll happen. After all, butterflies can only wait so long before testing their wings out...


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

  And that, is what life is made up of.

 Two steps forward, one step back.

 I did my two steps forward; Hubby and I moved back out to the farm, and I finally had unlimited internet to write daily!

 However, you may have noticed that the blog posts have been rather -- obsolete, since I made that announcement. I had my one, big, step back.

  I'm sorry for the silence, guys. I've been down and out sick since last Monday! Apparently I've been trying to do too much, too soon after having a 9 lb. baby... And my body has decided that enough is enough! I can barely get up, and when I do I can only stand for 15 minutes before exhausting myself. Stairs are a nightmare. I keep forgetting my own son's name. Passing out is becoming a normal threat. I. Am. TIRED!

  I was supposed to go to the ER last Tuesday for an ultrasound and blood transfusion, but I opted to stay home first just to see if I couldn't rally on my own. However, a week later, I don't seem to be improving so I may find myself in that horrible hospital after all...

 Anyway, that's where I've been, and why I haven't posted. I'm too tired to write any more right now, so I'm signing off here.

 Take care, everyone. I miss you, and can't wait to be my normal self again!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Visits from Oregon

Hey guys, I just wanted to pop in and say that the reason I was gone this week was because I was visiting with family! My mom, and two of my siblings flew over from Oregon, and my grandma drove up from Mississippi, to meet Mr. Travis. Hopefully I was a reason they came as well... But I guess I can see how a new baby is more exciting than the daughter/granddaughter/sister that you've known forever. Anyway, it was a fun week, I think we all enjoyed ourselves, and now I'm settling back into my work routine. I've missed my writing. My day never goes as well when I don't write or do my yoga; and this week has been lacking in both! Time to get back to the grindstone!

 Oh, and P.S.  We're back out at the farm now! You know what that means? Unlimited Internet!! *GASP!* When was the last time I had all the internet that I wanted, WHEN I wanted it!? I'm gonna get so spoiled on this... You might too, since this means I can write steadily now!

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Pinterest Link-up: Small Scale Dairying!

  This week's link-up has a collection of handy links all concerning small scale dairying! Whether you own one goat and want to learn how to make yogurt, are thinking about getting a cow or two, or have a dream of turning your dairying hobby into a business, it's all here! Enjoy, friends.

1. Milk Safety Video {Courtesy of Vimeo and Jim Roberts} - This is part 1 of 3 of some videos that I have loved watching! This fellow, Jim Roberts runs a micro dairy and does a beautiful job of keeping the whole operation clean and safe. If you're wanting to take your dairying up a notch (no matter how big or small you are), then I'd highly recommend giving these a view.

2.The Cost of Building A Farmstead Creamery {Courtesy of} This is an awesome, detailed blog post on what it costs to build a farmstead creamery of your own! Gianclis Caldwell is a great writer and did a very nice job on this write-up.

3.How To Build An Elevated Milking Stanchion {Courtesy of The Flip Flop Barnyard} If you have a cow (or more than one), then you need one of these. Period. End of story. I've experienced using one of these on cows, versus having them stand on the ground, and let me tell ya'... Those elevated stanchions are to die for. No kidding.

4. Four Secrets To Thick, Creamy Yogurt. {Courtesy of Passionate Homemaking} This is the recipe I started out with and loved the results!

5. The Cost of Producing Raw Milk {Courtesy of 'Well Fed Homestead'} Want the nitty gritty details of what it costs to keep a cow or two for milk production? Well here you go!

6.Classic Glass Milk Bottles! {Courtesy of 'Red Hill General Store} - I've never posted a link to something for sale, but I'm such a fan of these bottles that I had to share! These are great; the glass is thick, so they're hard to break, and they look cute! They can be a little challenging to wash due to that narrow neck (no dishwashers allowed on these!), but I've never had a problem as long as I have a good bottle brush.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Farm Mom Diaries: No Such Thing As A Pain Free Labor

  I'm going to come right out and bluntly state that for the most part, Hypnobirthing is hogwash. Water birthing is close to that. Prenatal yoga? Same group. Eating pineapple to take away pain? Oh that goes on the top shelf with hypnobirthing.

  Yes, my friend, I really did try all that. They all had some good points, to be sure, but there was one glaring lie that they all held: That a pain free labor can be achieved. Fellow mothers, you can laugh with me at such an idea.

 I am a wimp when it comes to pain. A total, complete wimp. I practically buy ibuprofen in bulk, and take it almost daily (yeah, I know it destroys your liver and that I'll regret it when I'm old). And while I wasn't stupid enough to believe in such a thing as a "pain free birth", I was sure as heck gonna' try everything I could to at least decrease the pain. I had nine months to research and prepare, and that's exactly what I did. Reading through the books and websites for Hypnobirthing, water birthing, prenatal yoga, and herbal remedies, I noticed the very common thread of each practice claiming that "if you followed their method perfectly, then you too could have a gorgeous, pain free, relaxing birth that you would treasure in your memories forever!" Please read that sentence in a corny, sales-pitchy voice. 

 Well shucks, I don't know about a pain free birth, but I'll sure try it out and at least hope for a more comfortable one! So for nine months I prepped... I did the prenatal yoga every single day, I took a 1.5 mile walk whenever the weather permitted, I drank that nasty raspberry leaf tea twice a day (confession: it's actually not nasty; but after you've had it twice a day, every day, for months upon months, you get really tired of it!), I told the midwife to plan for a water birth, and by golly I memorized that entire hypnobirthing book AND listened to all those CD's that came with it. I know, I know... I sound like such a typical "first time mom" doing all that. But hey, remember the whole pain intolerance thing? 

  December 10th rolled around, and my water broke at 7am that morning. I dilated from 2cm to 10cm in a span of three hours. And you know what I very quickly learned? Contractions hurt LIKE THE DICKENS! Like a good girl, I did everything that I had learned over the months. I ate the pineapple to help calm the pain, I relaxed as much as possible, I did the slow, deep breathing, I got in the nice warm tub... I did it all, but I sure didn't feel like I was even getting mild relief despite all my efforts!

  The irony of it all peaked when I was five hours into heavy labor, and my midwives (by now I had amassed four of them) began telling me to push. Push!?!? I just spent almost nine months reading material that told me that under no circumstances should a woman push if she wants a gentle, pain free labor! And here I was, being told by everyone in the room to push as hard as I could! It was in that crazy, foggy-brained moment that I declared all my learning to be a load of crap. And I began pushing for all I was worth.

 After twelve hours, little Travis was FINALLY born, and I decided that I wouldn't waste my time with that hypnobirthing book again. There is no such thing folks, as a pain free labor. Some people may be blessed to have less painful birth if they're built right and they have a small baby, but I don't think anyone can claim to have had a comfortable time. 

  Now, I will admit that each one of those methods did help a little in some way or another, and the accumulated efforts of it all was probably what saved me from having to have an emergency C-section. The raspberry tea helped strengthen those necessary muscles, and helped me heal completely by 3 weeks postpartum. The hypnobirthing helped me handle the early, less-intense contractions, the prenatal yoga allowed me to regain my original weight and waistline by two weeks postpartum, and the water birth... Actually, the water birthing didn't do a thing for me and turned out to be more detrimental to my situation. Oh, and the pineapple sure didn't help the pain in any form or fashion!

 Moral of the story: save yourself some time and trouble; instead of memorizing the hypnobirthing book, go take a nap. You'll gain more from the nap. 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Breed For The Need: The Nigerian Dwarf Goat

This week's "Breed For The Need" series will be covering my second favorite breed of goat: The Nigerian Dwarf!

The Nigerian Dwarf Goat:

  A breed of African descent, the Nigerian Dwarf has quickly become America's most popular dairy goat. And why wouldn't they?? Knee-high when full grown, found in an array of dizzying colors and patterns, able to be bred year around, and capable of giving up to a 1/2 gallon a day of the sweetest milk of all goat breeds... This pint-sized caprine has earned every bit of its celebrity status. I tried keeping Nigerians a few times, but these little guys are smart as whips and always found the holes in the fence that the Nubians created... Sigh. I did enjoy them though, and would love to get a herd of them going this year!

  While the Nigerian is certainly capable of giving the 1/2 gallon of milk that I stated above, please note that such production is *usually* only seen in the super high quality stock, which generally cost $800 to $1200 to buy. In short, if you buy a $200 doe off of Craigslist, please don't expect to get that amount of milk. She might, and there are still amazing little producers here and there, but the average quality Nigerian will most likely reward you with 1 to 4 cups of milk each day. So buy more than two if you're wanting a good amount of milk!

  Nigerian Dwarfs are subject to the same conformation standard as all the other dairy breeds, but unlike their larger relatives, they have the addition of having a height standard. This is made all the more confusing by the fact that there are three different registries, with different standards. Oy vey. The American Dairy Goat Association and the American Goat Society both require does to be less than 22.5 inches at the withers, and bucks to be 23.5 inches at the withers. The Nigerian Dwarf Goat Association says  does should be 17–19 inches at the withers, with a maximum allowed height of 21 inches, and bucks should be 19–21 inches at the withers, with a maximum allowed height of 23 inches. 

  And yes, you really can breed these pint-sized goats any time of the year! At a glance this sounds like a really great thing, and it is for the most part. The downside to it? Stinky bucks. Standard breed bucks come into rut only during the fall breeding season, and yes they stink too, but at least it's not year around! Nigerian bucks will stink all the time. A lot of breeders tell me that these small fellows have a stronger scent than the big boys, but I won't claim this fact to be absolute truth. But consider yourself warned that it might be, and build your buck pen as far from your house as possible!

Pros: Their small size makes them easy to keep anywhere! They're easy to find, easy to sell (Nigerian kids are the cutest of all goat kids, hands down.), and their wild colors are so much fun! They're great for kids (human ones) to handle, and you won't have to worry about dealing with an ornery buck who weighs more than you. Their creamy milk is to die for! And you'll never be able to buy half-and-half for your coffee again once you've tasted Nigerian Dwarf milk in its stead. 

Cons: Teat size. These girls can be the biggest pain to milk since most of them have teeny, tiny teats. Some have decent sized ones, but most don't. So if you have big hands, or carpal tunnel, then you may want to invest in some sort of milking machine. The "year-around-stinky-buck" thing is also a bit of a con. Keep a good supply of goat milk soap around since that's about the only thing that will get the pungent aroma off your skin! Height can also be a hassle if you want to keep registered animals; you may have a gorgeous doe or buck that would do great in the show ring, but if they grow even a half inch too tall, then they can't be registered! Aargh!

Best Fit For: Anyone who doesn't have a lot of room to spare, doesn't want too much milk, has small children who want to care for the goats, or just likes a wide variety of color! The Nigerian Dwarf is one of those animals that can easily adapt to any situation. If you wanted Saanens, you'd have to make sure you had enough room. If you wanted Nubians, you'd have to make sure that the noise level wouldn't bother anyone. But the Nigerians don't have any of those prerequisites. They're a great choice for anyone, on any level of experience. Just please remember to keep an eye on your fencing! They'll find the tiniest holes and pop right through them!