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!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Video: Pruning and Training Apple Trees

  Winter is here, and with the cold weather comes the task of pruning fruit trees! Personally, I love pruning; can't say why, but I always enjoyed it. It's taken me a few years to really get the hang of what to cut and what to leave, but after much trial and error over time, it eventually became second nature to know what each tree needed.

 Out at the farm, there are currently only two or three fruit trees; one apple tree, and a pear tree (maybe two pear trees). And frankly... They're pathetic. You can prune and baby these trees all you want, but the soil is so bad that the poor things can't get past basic survival. We have plans to create a fruit orchard in 2 -3 years, but instead of planting in the dirt (or clay, rather; since that's what we have...), we're researching the idea of growing dwarf trees in a aquaponic setting. It's probably the only way we'll ever get a crop of apples off this property!

  Do you have fruit trees? What time of year do you generally prune?

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Farm Mom Diaries: Adaptation

  Little Travis is now three weeks old. I'm still trying to figure out how we've gotten this far already, while simultaneously despairing at the long road ahead. I have to agree with everyone who meets him that he really is an easy going, sweet, smiley baby. He eats every 2 - 3 hours, *usually* only wakes up once in the night, and is generally content to sleep throughout the day. Now, this isn't every day routine by any means, but more often than not it is.

  And yet, despite how easy and sweet he is, I still find myself struggling to settle into all of this. I was never a very "motherly" person; growing up, I eyed other people's babies from across the room, but never desired to get very close. Babies always made me uncomfortable in the way they would randomly cry without ceasing, and seemed to have such staunch nocturnal habits. I've always been more comfortable with calves and goat kids; they're easy to care for and to understand. 

  Nevertheless, I'm giving this whole "mothering thing" the best shot I've got. I love this little fellow, but it's still a huge learning curve to handle. For the first week and a half I was constantly in frustrated tears because he would hardly sleep and would always cry as if in pain. Eventually I found out that he takes after his mother and is sensitive to cow milk, which was giving him bad stomach pain. Sigh... I tried going completely off of all forms of dairy, but it was pointless in the end, as my milk supply dried up. So yes, you guessed it; my son is now on Similac soy-based formula. Hoorah. But at least now he's back to being his happy little self, most of the time... I promise folks, he's still an average baby, and I have spent many a night on the couch, trying to get him to go to sleep. 

  As we've come to each new problem, we've managed to solve it in one way or another. Except for one thing: Sleeping at night. Yes, I did say that he usually only wakes up once at night, but it's certainly not always, and it's still a wonky schedule. He stays awake until 1am to 2am, sleeps till 3 or 4am which is feeding time, and then takes a cat nap until 6am. So we're averaging 4 - 5 hours of sleep each night. And for the record, I require 8 - 10 hours of sleep to be any good to anyone. See the problem here? The Caity needs at least 8 hours, and is only getting 5. Big. Problem.

By the time we hit the 2.5 week mark, I was a wreck. Tired, depressed, grumpy, and not feeling very motherly at all. Thank heavens for an amazing midwife though; she concocted a beautiful plan, and now once or twice a week Travis spends the night with his grandma and grandpa (who are pretty sure that he hung the moon), so hubby and I can have a whole night to ourselves. We tried this for the first time on New Year's Eve, and wow... A full night's sleep makes such a huge difference!! So this has at least solved part of the problem. Now we just have to work on fixing his sleeping schedule...

  I'm sure as we go along things will get easier, and I'll adapt to this new role in life. It's just the here and now that's difficult. Everything's new and challenging, and I'm always TIRED! 

 So there you have it. We're still alive; resembling zombies perhaps, but alive. If Travis and I can just figure out a good nighttime pattern, then I do believe we'll be good to go. 

 For now though, I make sure that I have stout tea and coffee at hand at all times.