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Posts Tagged ‘kiko goats’

It’s been 6 weeks since I last updated this space. Had you given up on me? I hope not, but I certainly wouldn’t blame you. We have been buried in work; farm work, house work, work work. So I’m stealing a moment for a quick update. 

First thing I notice is some changes in wordpress.  I guess I have to figure out how to use this site all over again.  Lovely.

Since I last wrote, we’ve moved house, more or less.  We still own our other place and there is still stuff in it, but we’re not there.  We have downsized house to upsize land.  We’ve gone from 4000 square feet of living space to something like 1200 square feet. It’s….cozy!  Actually, we like it. The utility bills alone have been cut in half.  Somebody give me a witness! Amen.

The goats, donkeys, mules and turkeys are all at the new place.  We have about 4 acres of goat pastures in our front yard, divided into 4 paddocks. We have some more out the back.  We can sit on our front deck and watch the goaties graze and enjoy the autumn evenings.  It’s rather peaceful.

Speaking of the goats, fall is breeding season.  Normally the 4 paddocks would be used for rotational grazing, but this time of year, each of our three bucks is assigned to a paddock and the does we want him to breed are in with him.  The 4th pasture is for wethers and girls we don’t want bred.

It’s a perfect plan….except someone forgot to tell the goats.  It seems that doe goats have preferences.  We woke up earlier this week do discover a fruit basket upset.  Several of the girls managed to get gates open and make their way into another pasture to cavort with a buck other than the one with whom they were assigned.  The boys have all stayed put, happy to welcome the new visitors.

We will have to keep pretty close records this year.  I know we will have one Kiko/Alpine cross. We had planned for our Alpine buck to cover three of the 4 Alpines while our Kiko/Boer buck would cover the 4th.  One of the Alpine girls, however, apparently has an eye for Achilles, our big Kiko boy.  This is not a bad cross and should provide some nice meaty offspring to take to market or put in our own freezer. We had hoped, though, to have Alpines to register. Oh well.

We will have a few other surprises, but fortunately, our Kiko girls stayed put and our Nubians have remained safely we left them.  They probably won’t come into season until December or January, anyway.

I must admit, having three rutting billy goats in the front yard is a smelly proposition. They reek, and will continue to do so until the last of the girls has been bred. 

One other quick update regarding our aquaponics systems.  I had a heart stopping experience with them this week.  The fish, you see, are still at the old house.  The veggies are done for the year, but the systems are still operating as filtration units.  I check on them daily and feed the fish morning and evening.

Earlier this week, I skipped a night because of heavy rains.  I didn’t make it back until lunch time the next day.  When I arrived, I noticed there had been a power outage.  It didn’t seem to be a big deal because the big system in the garage was working fine and all the freezers were operational, as well. 

When I opened the basement door to check on my three tanks down there, though, I was greeted by darkness and silence. A breaker had blown, due to a bad plug (caused by the storm? Maybe lightening?) and there was no power to the fish tanks.  Danger. Danger. Danger.

I switched the breaker to a new one, but still no luck. That’s when I realized there was a bad outlet in the circuit, but it’s trapped behind the wall of fish tanks.  The fish were in obvious distress due to lack of oxygen and filtration.  All I could do was drain the tanks, remove the fish and add them to the garage unit.  It’s been 4 days and so far there have been no deaths from ammonia poisoning or shock from being plopped in a new environment.  And they all seem to be eating.  The tank is a bit over crowded, but not badly and about a third of the fish are small.  Still, I need to get one of my IBC totes operational and get them moved into it.

Once upon a time, I had two tanks of Tilapia, one of bluegill and one of bluegill and Catfish.  Now I have one tank with all of the above.  All I need are some largemouth bass, and I will have replicated a Florida fishing lake.

That, dear reader, is the latest on the life, loves and drama that make up our regular routine here in the ‘burb’. Your life feels calmer already, now doesn’t it?  Glad I could help.

 

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Baby goats are everywhere.  You all know about Curry and Zorro, our two early bird Nigerians.  What you need caught up to date on, is the wild week we’ve had.  I use we, quite liberally.  Apart from my being around to do some bottle feeding and serve as a human hot water bottle, the lion(ess)’s share has fallen to Brittan.

On Monday night, we got to the farm later than normal to do evening chores and were met with a big, er, small, er, plentiful, surprise.  Nya, one of our Nigerian does, had delivered triplets. There were two bucklings and a stillborn doe.  The boys were quite cold, having been born in the pasture on a very chilly night, and one of them was quite feeble.  I put them inside my jacket to warm them up and went to dispose of the little girl’s body, while Brittan worked on milking Nya.  Since she is a first freshener, that was easier said than done and the stanchion was put away for the winter.  So when I got back, I used my knees to hold Nya’s head in place, while Brittan milked out some colostrum.

We raced the boys back to the house and got some of the colostrum down them, but the one little one was still too feeble to eat or stand.  We had real doubts about him making it.  Brittan slept on the couch to keep him warm and feed him a few drops now and then.  Fortunately, he has pulled through like a champion.  He’s still not as strong as his brother, but he improves a little every hour.

This morning, as I’m beginning a meeting here at the office, Brittan calls me. I answered and mostly all I could hear was a goat screaming.  Brittan said it was one of our Kikos in labor.  She gave birth in about one minute while I was still on the call.

I had to rush off of the call for my meeting and tried to call back as soon as I was done.  No answer. I left a message. For two hours I couldn’t get an answer to phone or email, so I high tailed it to the farm on my lunch break.  I found Brittan shivering in the barn with two mamma goats and 4 kids.  It seems that the Kiko had twins, a boy and a girl.  As soon as she was done, Zeta, on of our Nigerians, also went into labor.  She had twin  black and white girls.  Since Brittan had no towels or rags, she took off her shirts and used them for clean up.  She had on a thin jacket and a cold wind was blowing directly on her.  On top of everything, her phone had gone dead so she couldn’t call.  Not a good morning for the woman I love.

I rushed sped home (any excuse to break the speed limit) and got her a sweatshirt and a heavier jacket along with some cloths and her phone charger.  Unfortunately, I had to dash back to work for some mandatory afternoon meetings.  I got an email from her eventually, saying all was well with the new mothers, except Zeta wouldn’t let down her milk, so she had to feed the baby girls regular goat’s milk.  We’ll try again this evening. I suspect I will be on nursing duties tonight. Fair’s fair.

The Kiko babies (father is a Boer, so they’re really crosses) are feeding nicely and will stay with their mamma.  The Nigerians will come home for a couple days and be bottle fed.  Their mother will join the dairy herd.

Our living room now has 4 goats in residence.  Two boys and two girls.  We will wether the boys and probably offer all 4 for sale.  I’m thinking we will keep both of the meat goats since they have outside bloodlines.  We still have three Alpine does and one more Kiko still to kid.  It’s been quite a time.  Did I mention that we love it?

 

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Large Black Hogs

East of Eden Farms and Our Edible Suburb are going through changes.  We’re growing up.  You should expect to see some of those changes in the very near future.

First, our website is undergoing a makeover.  We have enjoyed our site and I know many of you have complimented us on it, but it’s time to kick things up a notch or two.  We have been working with a web designer and really like what we’ve seen so far.  We think you will like it, too.

Secondly, we’re cutting way back on our rabbit population.  Georgia just doesn’t have the market we hoped for, so we are only going to keep our two pair of American Chinchilla rabbits. The Am Chins are a heritage breed and are rather rare.  We will have two or three litters a year and sell as many as we can as pets and to show people.  We will still have a few for meat for our personal consumption and certainly we’ll get plenty of great fertilizer.

Thirdly, we’re making a substitution in the pig department.  While we have loved our Vietnamese Pot Belly Pigs very much, they are just too destructive and frankly, too small. We have 4 to process next month and a litter of piglets due in March.  We will make the piglets available as pets or as feeder pigs once they are weaned.

Pot Bellies have amazing personalities and they make us smile every day.  I never tire of watching them leap up from their hiding places under the straw in the barn, but I’m beyond tired of the craters they’ve created in their pasture.  We’ll have to reseed it this spring at the same time we reseed the mule pasture.

We are replacing our mini porkers with a rare, heritage breed called, Large Black.  I wish I’d done this earlier, but I wasn’t paying attention.  Large Black Hogs do not root like other pigs.  They can graze along side our goats and cows.  They will still gobble up our excess milk and whey, but they will produce serious quantities of meat.  Large Blacks are processed at 200 lbs, whereas a Pot Belly is large at 90 lbs.  A full grown Large Black will tip the scales at 700 lbs plus.  They are docile, attention loving animals, with poor eyesight and big floppy ears (a trait that B is especially excited about).  When full grown, our breeder pigs weigh more than our donkeys and almost as much as our Dexter Cows. We pick up our new pigs on Feb. 12.

Speaking of Dexters.  We are forging ahead with our plans to add a couple more to our herd.  Dexters are our breed of choice as they can supply us with dairy as well as meat.

The sheep are gone. We won’t be raising broiler chickens anymore, but we will sell the occasional stewing hen.  We will keep laying hens and will have turkeys at least one more year.  Our livestock focus will be our goats, both meat and dairy, with some pork and beef as a supplement.

Keep your eyes peeled for the changes in the website.

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If even half of our plan comes to fruition (pun partially intended), 2012 should be the most exciting year yet here in the burb (and out at the farm).  We’ve talked about some of these things and hinted at others, but I thought I’d list them all here as kind of a teaser.

1. We are expanding the garden considerably by adding three aquaponics systems.  In order to handle the extra vegetable volume, we are offering a few CSA shares.  The details and pricing will be made available at the end of this month in a newsletter to our mailing list.

2. The aquaponics gardens will also allow us to add fish to our other meat and poultry offerings.  Fish will have limited availability starting this fall, but will expand throughout the winter and into next year.

3. We will be adding pastured pork to our offerings. Again, this will be on a specific, limited, pre order basis. Our mini porkers will be available in whole or half pig portions. Details in the coming newsletter.

4. Pastured beef. Yes, you herd right (sorry, couldn’t resist a little homonym humor), pastured beef.  We will be taking pre orders in February for a few partners to join us in raising some of the best beef in North Georgia. You guessed it, details coming in the January newsletter.

5. This will be our first year to offer Cabrito/Chevon from our newly acquired Kiko herd. Our does were bred to a Boer herd sire and are due in early Spring. By the end of June any males born will be ready for market.  We may also have a few Alpines available as well, though our great hope is a crop of does to strengthen our dairy herd.

6. Speaking of Dairy, Britttan will be milking 3 Alpines and three Nigerians this year, which means more milk and more yogurt for you.  In addition to the usual a la carte offerings, we will make goat shares available so that you can be guaranteed a regular supply. Thank you, btw, for the emails and phone calls raving about the milk and yogurt from last year.  We love it that you’ve enjoyed your experience.  Just a couple months more waiting.

7. Let’s not forget pastured turkeys.  Feed prices are rising like everything else, so turkey prices will have to go up a bit this year. However, we’ll make it worth your while by having larger birds.  Those of you who have been out to the farm to see Mr. Tom, will know exactly what I’m talking about.

8. We are eggspanding our flock of chickens to provide more breakfast and baking goodness for everyone who’s been begging for more eggs.  Assuming we can keep the hawks at bay, we will dramatically increase egg availability starting this spring. We are also giving share opportunities for those who want a consistent, regular supply.

9. Pastured chicken production will be greatly reduced. We will have the occasional stewing hen available, but we will no longer be marketing broilers.  Stewing hens have better flavor anyway. So if you want to be notified when stewers  coming up, you’ll need to get on the mailing list.

See, I told you this is going to be a huge year for us. We are excited and a little awestruck by the task, but farming is our passion and providing you with the freshest, tastiest meat, dairy and produce in North Georgia is our goal.  As alluded to several times, we have a newsletter going out either the last week of January or the first week of February.  We have a list of everyone who have written to us or purchased from us in the past.  If you want to be on that list, or are not sure if you are on it, you can email us by using the contact page on our website or simply by emailing sam@eastofedenfarms.  Happy New Year, everyone.

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All around the world, children of all ages are beginning to get amped up for the big day. Christmas is not merely, ‘right around the corner’, we’ve made the turn and it’s staring us down.  That’s pretty exciting…for some.

B and I haven’t had much time to think about Christmas yet. Oh, we’ve mailed some cards and sent some gifts, but right now, we have no time to ‘settle down for a long winter’s nap’. Between our bad timing and Mother Nature’s little temper tantrums, we have a lot of work to do.

First, the bad timing. We have pregnant goats everywhere. Except for the two that have already given birth, that is. We wanted to arrange for all our goats to freshen in Feb/March, and several will. In one of life’s little twists, because of a fence problem requiring us to move our billy goats earlier than we had hoped, we have several who are already in the maternity pen.  So, we have to keep a watchful eye.

We’ve had no problem with goats and breeding this year. Rabbits, on the other hand, have all gone celibate on us. It’s the end of December and we haven’t had a single litter yet. Weird. The calendar says we do need, though, to put nest boxes in with the girls, as it’s getting close to time for them to give birth, if in fact the breedings we think are in place, have taken.  No one looks pregnant, that’s for sure.

Mother Nature is also keeping us way too busy right now. We’ve had some torrential rains that have left the pastures a mess.  There is a ton of clean up. We have to move some shelters because the rains were so bad water ran under and the animals are standing in ankle deep mud.

With the cold weather coming behind this storm front, we need to make sure the mules have an escape path, since everyone else does, so we’re putting up a portable shelter today and will build a nice run in shed in Mid January.

Oh, and goat hormones are forcing us to move another shelter. It seems our randy little Nigerian buck, Meshak, can’t stay away from our new Kiko girls, Venus and Serena.  He climbs up on the shelter in his pasture, which is up against a fence, and hops over it onto the pig shelter in the other pasture, then down onto the ground.  It’s pretty creative, except Achilles, our Kiko herd sire, isn’t interested in suitors coming to court his ladies. He out weighs Meshak by 15 or 20 lbs (soon it will be by about 200) and has horns. It’s no contest.  Their last testosterone spike left Meshak with some pretty good scrapes and cuts. For several days, he pouted and nursed his obvious headache, while B tended to his wounds.

He’s healed and love is in the air. B found him back in the other pasture again yesterday.  He’s doing his best to woo Serena (who should be pregnant, anyway). Achilles, ever the vigilant, jealous protector, is not letting Meshak get close enough to do any mischief.

The torrential rains, forced them all into the barn. When we went to check on them last night, Achilles had his girls and two of the pregnant Nigerians in the large stall, while Meshak was relegated to a smaller one which he shared with a dozen laying hens.  He tried several times to make his way into the big stall, but Achilles was having none of it. Meshak, not being totally blinded by lust, wants no part of those Kiko horns, so he would slink back to his stall and wait for an opportunity to try again. I give him credit, he’s no quitter.

Anyway, we have to move Meshak’s climbing frame, aka, shelter, away from the fence so he can’t use it as a launching pad for romance and warfare. That can only end poorly for him.  Eventually, we will make one pasture for Meshak and Jasper (our Alpine buck) and one for Achilles and his Kiko harem. Until then, we must make do.

Sometime this weekend I must, I do mean must, shovel mule manure. But it’s too muddy for me to get the truck down to the compost heap without tearing up the hillside.  So it must wait and remain an eyesore.

It’s time now for me to hit the publish key and actually do the work rather than just talking about it. Oh, did I mention we need hay and straw as well. Of course, I love the feed store so that’s not even a problem. Just more time away from the chestnuts and the open fire.

Talk to you later. If I don’t get back here before Sunday, Peace on Earth, friends. Jesus really is the reason for the season even if He has become politically incorrect.

 

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