Tuesday, May 29, 2007


I wanted to blog this story last Friday, after it all happened, but time got away with me. Now I almost don’t feel like blogging it at all. But I should update, it’s been awhile.

The goats are settling nicely. I was milking 2x a day and getting about a quart each time. That was until last Wednesday rolled around. I went out at 6 a.m. during my morning routine to let the goats out from their stalls. I walked in to find a stall full of very unusual droppings. It was HORRIBLE. Firefly had diarrhea so bad. To make a long story short I spent 2 days on the phone with people who know a whole lot more than I do. After 3 shots of various things and a good long talk with her previous owner we discovered that it was the hay I chose to buy. Firefly was used to dull, boring grass hay. I bought her alfalfa hay which is a MUCH richer hay feed. Yes, it is the one that is recommended by just about everyone to feed a doe in milk but her previous owner didn’t. She felt it was too rich and the goats overate. Well, sure enough, Firefly was in heaven with this stuff and overate!!! She was miserable. She would moan and strain and hunch over. Needless to say her milk production went down drastically. She is back up to her norm but as of Saturday night I now separate mom and baby for the night. This is merely for selfish reasons and that is so that I can get more milk. During the illness Butter discovered that momma had 2 spigots out of which she could drink which pretty much left me with NO milk. Prior to this Butter only drank from one which left the other for me to milk.

Sure, they weren’t happy to be separated but the crying only lasted 15 minutes or so the first night and as of last night it lasted a measly 5 minutes or less. This morning I got nearly 1 ½ quarts of milk and it seems to increase a little daily. I had decided to only milk at night then since Butter drinks from both teats all day long. It works out nicely.

Here are a couple nice pictures of the goats and farm. The first is a picture I took just this evening of our barnyard. You can see the chicken coop to the right and the chicken run across the whole picture. Next is the woodshed and the building on the left is the barn. Behind the chickens you can see Firefly and Butter; Butter is running across the yard, her ears even flying up. The next 2 pictures are close-ups of Butter and Firefly.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

My Country Story

I want to share with you a little about myself and the reasons why I am so excited about this opportunity I’ve been given to start my own little “farm”. I feel so incredibly blessed to have this opportunity.

See, I grew up in the ‘burbs of St. Paul, Minnesota, typical city corner lot. But my dad didn’t. And in fact his brother took over the family farm which happened to be approximately 2 ½ hours from our city home. So for the first 7 or 8 years of my life our family would travel to “the farm” on a regular basis. I know there were summers that it probably was almost weekly. We learned to help with chores. Their main income was from the diary cows. I remember them having chickens early on but as I got older I don’t remember the chickens much. They milked at 5:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. We all would help, my job mostly was to wash the udders and teats before the milker was put on. I would wait till uncle would tell me who was next. I also helped set up and clean the barn, scraping the center aisle clean and feeding the cows. I LOVED the smell of the barn. To this day it brings back wonderful memories. You know the smell. As you are driving through the country, most people say “Ewwww, what’s that smell?” I say, “Ahhhh, the farm.” LOL

As a teenager we went less often. One of my cousins, my uncle’s daughter (Judy) who is 7 years older than I, married a farmer and lived only a few miles from her family. We got along great!!! We became fast friends when I was in my later teens. At 20 I moved up north to a small town where another relative lived. Here I met a family who became great friends of mine. They were also dairy farmers. I was at their home all the time soaking in the farm life. After a year in Detroit Lakes, MN I moved to Exeland, WI to be near my farming family. I lived there for about a year visiting at chore time as often as I could. My cousin, Judy, and I would talk about me buying a farm near her someday. Right about this time my other cousin, John, who had taken over his dad’s farm, decided he didn’t want the farming life anymore. OH how I longed to buy that farm. The Family Farm!!! If only I had been married and ready, that’s all I could think about. It never happened. (Today it sits empty, no one to take it over, I still want it!!!!) I moved back to the city and started back to college but never really left the country behind. I was really into country, cowboy boots, hat and all. The summer before James and I started dating I went on a big vacation with my mom, we went to Montana!!! We toured one of the famous ranches of Montana, Grant-Kohrs Ranch, as I dreamed. While there C.M. Russel became one of my favorite artists after visiting the C.M. Russell Museum.

That winter I fell in love with a city boy and moved out to Bellevue, WA. I wore cowboy boots under my wedding dress and line-danced with my friends. But after that, superficially the country left, but never from my heart. For the first couple years of marriage I would talk about it a lot, wanting to live in the country. I even took him to visit “the farm”. He got to see first hand what I was talking about. We visited Judy’s during chore time. Kelsey got to go up in the hay loft to see a new litter of kittens; she was only 4 or 5 years old. But that didn’t trigger anything in him. So I just let it go, stopped talking about it and we lived our happy city life. We bought our first home in a tiny little town outside of Seattle. It was definitely the country, but we lived in town on your standard city lot. I drove by farms everyday!! Then we moved back to the big city, Bothell, because we really wanted to be near our Church family. Out in Sultan we were 40 minutes away with no one nearby. For three years we lived in Bothell in our close-knit community. We developed wonderful friendships, started some great traditions and were able to really grow in our faith. After a couple years in Bothell I started to talk about wanting more room for the kids to run and more to garden! Wishing my children had the opportunity to explore nature on a daily basis. Kelsey was really into Little House on the Prairie books and would even tell us how she wished we could live in the country. I’m not sure what the catalyst was in gearing James towards wanting to get out of the city. It could have been his daily 2 hour commute by bus on the crowded freeways but something awakened his roots, the roots of his Kentucky hillbilly relatives! J

It was a whirlwind of activity; I can’t even remember when he first said, “Okay, let’s do it.” So we fixed the house to sell and looked and looked to buy a minimum of 2 acres. We weren’t sure where right away. But we soon fell in love with the Kitsap Peninsula. We hoped to have huge gardens and maybe some chickens. Here we are nearly 8 months into our new adventure and WE are loving every minute of it!!! We have big dreams to really make something of our chicken farming, to live off of our land and animals as much as we can. And someday, maybe someday, James can retire to the farm. But we’ve discovered our market…is at his job.

That’s my story! Now you can get a better understand to why I am SO excited about our adventure.

The first picture is of my brother climbing to the top of my uncle's silo. That was entertainment back then. Also, I want to add that at the ripe old age of 17 my brother took care of my uncle's farm for a whole summer while he took his family on a vacation across the USA. SEVENTEEN, he milked the cows 2x a day, fed and cared for them. Plus I am certain he did field work.

The 2nd picture is the front of the old barn. There were 2 barns, one old one (pictured) and one built as the new milking barn. Probably held 60+ cows. I think my mom was taking pictures of my brothers getting ready to jump out of the hay loft, they'd shimmy down the rope. That's how we entertained ourselves back then. :)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I have DSL!

I no longer have to wait for my gmail log-in page to load.
I no longer have to resize my pictures to upload to blogger or send to a friend.
I no longer have to say "forget it" when I want to go to a website that is taking too long.
I no longer have to listen to the CLASSIC high pitched dial-up connecting noises.
I no longer have to push a button to get online.
I no longer need to have my voicemail say "I'm either using my lovely dial-up or away from the phone".

Will I miss dial-up?
Only because it actually helped me not waste so much time on the computer because it wasn't worth the wait!

Lord, have mercy on me.

Monday, May 14, 2007

They are here!

On Saturday evening, after a full day of barn building, the girls and I put straw in the back of the van and headed south to get the goats. We were home by 8PM with a mama and her kid in the back of the van. They are settling into their new home nicely I think. They miss their bigger busier farm, they had 2 other mama does and 6 kids (slowly being sold off), 2 horses and a yard full of chickens. So our place is quieter. I think they really appreciate the time we sit out there with them and brush and talk to them. I've milked 3x now...morning and evening. I wasn't going to do that but for now I'll milk 2x a day but only on ONE side. Butter, the kid, only feeds from one side of her mama so she is quite lop-sided until I milk her out. It sure is a learning time for me, to figure out the best hand hold and squeeze. I'm glad she is tolerant...well, as long as she has her molasses grain in front of her she is. At each milking I get between 1.5-2# of milk. Two pounds is approximately a quart. That is very little compared to what her very experienced previous owner would get. So I'm hoping each time I'll get a little better at it.
Below is a picture of Firefly looking out the back window of the van. And the other picture is of them in their new home.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Milk Stanchion (stand)

I completed the milk stanchion yesterday which is the milking stand where I'll milk.
Here is what one typically looks like but I fashioned one out of the huge shelving that was along one side of the barn. Basically I just needed to build the head pieces and feed area. The bowl is for feeding them their grain while they are milked. The doors in the background will not be there come Saturday.
I love it!!! It will work perfectly.

I changed the day we get the goats to Saturday. I was suppose to get them Friday evening but begged for one more day. At 6PM Saturday I am to be in Ollala to milk my goat for the first time(so I can get some pointers if need be.) and then bring her home.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

getting ready for goats

have been so busy working on the goat barn and fencing lately. I love the way the barn is turning out. I've made the plans pretty much, with just a little help, and it's looking great. I just can't believe all that there is yet to do and we are SUPPOSE to get the goats this weekend. I just don't see how I'm going to be ready. If I just get the barn secure so they can stay in there until the fencing is done I guess that would work but I'll feel bad for them. All but one of the posts are set and that'll be accomplished today with ease. The children have been helping me with that. They shovel gravel while I tamp and level. Here is what we've accomplished thus far:
This is what we started with. Just a 3 sided shed. Nothing but some shelving inside.

So far here is where we are at. To the left of the window will be a big gate of sorts to enter into the pens. The first pen will be the main one. The second one, behind the white 1/2 wall, will be my kidding pen. Pregnant does will birth there and kids will be seperated from mama's there when weaning is necessary. To the right of the window will be the door into the rest of the barn which will be storage of all sorts and also the milking area. To the right of that door is a post and from there over will be walled off. My milk stand will be right behind that big piece of plywood that is leaning.

This is looking at the feed trough we made. I love how it turned out. This picture was taken before the window was in and before the 1/2 wall went in to seperate the 2 pens.
The trough will be used to feed mostly hay. But one spot on the end will probably have a mineral feeder.

Back to work for today. Will for sure finish setting posts and also will build the rest of the milk stand. It's half done. Then I'll either start stretching fence, hard to do though alone, OR will start putting up the front wall siding. We'll see if I can convince Kelsey to help me stretch fence or not. After all, they are her goats too.

Oh yeah, last weekend I bought what I am sure was my last gallon of cows milk!!!