Splinting a broken foot

Little black goat kid has a broken foot. I’m guessing Coco stepped on her. The goats rush to share the cow food every evening. She was fine before I fed. I heard her scream and went to check on her and her foot was floppy. I wrapped with self adhesive wrap, splinted it, and then wrapped again. I just hope it’s not too tight. I don’t really know how to tell. I gave her a bc powder and crushed up vitamin c, dissolved in water. Shot it down her throat with a syringe. She is able to move from one spot to another.

The injured doeling with her splint. She is hopping around fine by day three after the injury and the pain seems to have lessened.

Supposed to leave splint on 10 days.

I get all my info for goats from Pay Coleby’s Natural Goat Care. It’s an awesome little book.

I also have her book on cattle.

My favorite book for goat care.

I am still enamored with Fort Clux. I just hauled in a pile of ruined hay and the chickens are working it over, spreading and turning it, looking for food: insects and seeds mostly. As they continue to work it, it will break down into fertile soil for the garden, which I will plant directly in this run after I rotate the chickens out.

The chickens work over a pile of ruined hay. It keeps them entertained, feeds them and provides me with fertile soil for planting.

Today I broke up the opposite run for a fall garden: I plan on putting in mustard, turnip, radish, carrots, cilantro, chives, lettuce and spinach.

My fall garden spot.

The Turkey will find a new home today. He is quite the bully, probably because he wants a mate. He tortures the hens and hogs the roost at night. The new coop and runs are not ideal for him. So I’m taking him to the auction today.

The Turkey has to go. He is headed for the local auction today.

This is the first of several culling decisions I will need to make with my new set up. I’m not sure what the perfect number of chickens is, for eggs, compost, meat and replacement stock, but I look forward to figuring it out.


Chicken musings and things you discover about your husband while installing cattle panels

8:52 am

Slept late this morning. None of the animals seemed to mind and Rocky didn’t get a chicken. Probably bc they are wise to where they can go when he is tied up. I really hope that he is not ruined on chickens.

The hen Rocky got ahold of is still with us. She is well enough to cluck with some outrage when I move her around to clean her cage. I put some hay in with her and insulated the outside with newspaper and the boys’ boogie boards.

I see people on FB selling chicks all the time. Some say they are NPIP certified and others don’t say. I wonder how much money they make. Usually $3 a chick is what they sell for. Rarer breeds are $5. Costs would be the care and feeding of the layers, incubating and care and feeding of chicks until they are sold.

Interesting, but I hate hand raising chicks. I would rather let the mamas do it. I would like some blue egg layers though. I may get some this spring along with some Cornish cross. But not til I get back from vacation in late May or early June. I hope that my hens do better this year with going broody and raising chicks. It was a disaster last year. I think maybe four chicks survived.


Did some figuring. It looks like I’m spending $16-20 a month on food for chickens, including chicks I tried to raise last year. I have to get and sell 10 dozen eggs a month to pay for feed. Or 120 doz per year, or 1,440 eggs per year, or 4 eggs per day, or 28 eggs a week.

Since March I’ve sold approximately 40 dozen or more.

6:25 pm Kenny and the boys got the cattle panels up, making a nice sized corral for the bull. Now I just need to get water out there.

Getting the panels up was not without issue. I am still trying to wrap my mind around the fact that Kenny doesn’t know what a rectangle is AND has the audacity to get on to me for not communicating clearly.

10 eggs

AI Training

On Tuesday, Dad, Tommy and I went to D.L.’s house, about an hour south of us, to take part in a training he was offering on artificial insemination.

DL is our AI tech, having bred my heifer Coco as well as some of dad’s cows. Coco was a difficult case and he helped considerably by housing her at his house with his bull until she took.

However, he said that he stays super busy with AI. In addition, according to his wife Elizabeth, his doctor has advised him to find an apprentice because of some health issues.

There was one other student besides us there: a retired school teacher and friend/neighbor of DL’s.

The first part of the day was spent listening to DL talk to us about nutrition, semen, equipment and supplies.

Then we had lunch (provided by Elizabeth…they are the nicest people), followed by examination of reproductive tracts from a slaughtered cow, and then palpating and actually inseminating live cows.

The hands-on part was very challenging. First, no two cows are exactly the same, as was evidenced by the tracts we examined.

Dad examines the reproductive tract of a cow.

I would not have known they were both reproductive tracts if DL hadn’t told us. It is difficult to identify, even by sight, the cervix, uterus, ovaries and horns of a cow, let alone by feel alone. And that is exactly what an AI tech must do: feel around and THROUGH the cow’s intestinal wall for these highly individualized body parts, while not only trying to picture the general reproductive anatomy of a cow in one’s head but also trying to imagine how that anatomy might be vastly different for the particular cow you are examining.

My first attempt at identifying the reproductive parts on a live cow was a dismal failure. All I could feel was flesh and poop. Then DL inserted a straw in the cow’s vagina. I could feel the straw through the intestinal wall. So I followed it with my hand to where it bumped against the cervix. The cervix felt like a lifesaver! Whoo hoo! I was so proud of myself.

The next cow, however, was a different story. When I inserted my hand, I couldn’t feel anything. It was like sticking my hand through a hole in the wall. Then my glove inflated around my hand! DL laughed and said the cow had gas.

The third cow DL said was about 45 days pregnant. We were supposed to be able to feel a hand-sized balloon on her right side, which was the embryo.

Nada for me. Everyone else felt it, but not me.

In retrospect, I’m thinking that a lot of my failure has to do with size, strength and force. My classmates were all men. DL impressed upon us the need to be gentle over and over again. I may have taken that admonishment more seriously than I should have as I woman.

I think the men simply have more force and leverage to dial back to begin with, whereas I will not need to dial it back but exert more force and leverage. DL kept commenting on my holding on to the bars of the cattle chute as if I was afraid I was going to fall in. Really I was using the bars to help me push into the cow.

Despite my failure, DL said he was pleased with how things went. He begged me not to give up and said that in the spring, when he AI’d some of his own cows, that he would let me know so that I could get more experience. I said that would be good.

Tommy said he was mostly interested in determining if his and dad’s cows were pregnant. He and dad know what to look for now and can begin practicing on their own cows. I may also invite myself over for that.

Both Dad and Tommy said they learned one really important thing: they need to keep a bull.

As a source of income, I think that AI is probably something I could look into. DL is the only person I know who does it within 50 or more miles of me. For the small herd owners, that’s a good deal. It is the mileage that is so expensive.

In addition, DL does a lot of work implanting embryos and playing with breeds.

Then there is the solid benefit to me when it comes to my own stock. I could AI my cow as well as my female goats, moving much more quickly toward a herd with excellent genetics.

Compost Update and Other Musings

So busy the last couple of days. Yesterday I spent all day in AI training.

Chickens have been scratching through the compost. It was still a pretty tall pile this morning so I flipped the top foot or so. It was steaming inside.

I reassembled the pallets and have so far deposited four wheelbarrow loads of manure, hay, straw and leaves inside. Three of those I picked up today. I have decided to be liberal in picking up hay with manure. Who knows what my ratio in the pile is? I’ve read that it can be as high as 30:1. I’ll experiment with what I’m doing a bit.

The chickens are doing a good job of finding Coco’s manure and scratching through it. But they are not finding all of it.

The deer feeder had again reached its dispensing limit this morning. Two hours after I pushed the feed down, it had again reached its limit. I pushed it down again and the chickens are busy making grain drop. Definitely need to raise the whole thing up so that I’m in more control.

One of the two chicks that my buff hen hatched was missing this morning. I found it stiff as a board in their bucket. I suspected it had coccidiosis as it looked sick with a pasty butt. Lots of lessons from this batch: put the hen in a bucket flat on the ground as soon as possible after hatch. Don’t put them in the coop where grown chickens roost.

Rain is in standing heat this morning. I’ve seen Max attempt to breed her once or twice.

I’m pretty sure he bred Bella on Nov. 30.

Coco was showing suspicious signs this morning: very frisky and affectionate; rubbed tail head and hips. I didn’t see discharge or swelling.

Eleven eggs today. Eight yesterday.

I kept 11 in the hatch carton, ranging from lightest at 57 grams to heaviest at 64 grams. The eight for eating range from 56 grams to 46 grams.

Eight things I pondered while doing my chores this morning

Sometimes when I do my chores I’ll take the time to watch the animals and observe things. Often, this practice can lead to more informed management decisions and practices.

Here are eight things I pondered while doing my chores this morning:

1. The insect activity around the persimmon tree is crazy active this morning. I see honey bees, wasps, fruit flies, houseflies, blowflies, grandaddy long legs, butterflies, ants and yellow jackets humming around all the fallen fruit.

It is sunny; temp is 70 degrees on this first day of December. There is still a significant amount of fruit on the tree. One more good rain and it will likely all be on the ground. Conclusion: Persimmon trees in the pastures and chicken yards can feed not only the insects but also the chickens through all of fall. To do: research persimmon trees and how to get them growing where I want.

2. I tossed a gallon bucket of the dropped persimmons and the kitchen scraps, which were mighty slim because we ate out last night, directly into the compost bin. A few hens surprised me by hopping in there as well, relieving me of my worry that they were not capable of flying into the compost bin.

3. The automatic deer feeder had reached its point of needing new feed this morning. Conclusion: it needs a five gallon bucket of feed added every third day if I start with two five gallon buckets and continue with this rate of feeding. Question: Does that mean the chickens are eating a five gallon bucket of feed every three days?? It is possible. This needs more thought since I am trying to move away from buying feed.

4. Adding grain to Coco’s diet has increased the spreading of her manure by the chickens. Conclusion: Manure spreading could be a job for chickens. Question: If I cut back on the chicken food, will they spread ALL of the cow manure? How will this impact the composting system? Which is more important? Also, what about when I wean Coco from grain? Will the chickens still spread the manure then? They did not last year, but…perhaps they didn’t need to because I was also feeding them.

5. It is possible to cut back on the chicken feed by raising the feeder out of the reach of the chickens and by adjusting the timer. I can also control whether the chickens are under foot when I go out to do chores by adjusting the timer to coincide with my chore time. However, when raised, the feeder then becomes less manageable by me….unless I hang it or have a better tripod built. The legs it came with are very unstable.

If the legs could be made fixed instead of simply propped, and wheels added, that could work. I would have to have a step stool to put the feed in and check how full it is. 🤔 Needs thought.

6. The current feeding plan has not adversely affected egg laying, as I collected 9 eggs this morning. Five were pullet eggs. So perhaps I can cut back on grain?

7. I am sure that my compost pile will not be completely full after 7 days. I am not generating enough waste for that. Tomorrow will be seven days since I began constructing this first pile. However, I had a good start on it already, with approximately one third of its contents already gathered. It will take me much longer to construct five piles using only inputs from the farm.

8. Not raking leaves may be better for the chickens. The leaves have made a good blanket in the area where the chickens hang out. My theory: the blanket provides warmth and habitat for insects, or live chicken food. The same is true in every area where I feed the ruminants hay. The hay that is wasted provides a habitat for insects. Moving the hay ring once a week will provide lots of little habitats.

Perhaps this is another less work -intensive way to compost?

Next steps: I will adjust the automatic feeder by raising it up so that the chickens cannot make grain fall. I will also adjust the timer so that it goes off for five seconds at chore time. This will coincide with the unveiling of the first compost pile. Over the next week I’ll observe and record egg production and chicken behavior. If there is no significant change, I’ll adjust the timer again, taking away five seconds.

Feeding the Ruminants

I have to make a trip to town to Christmas shop a bit and I also need some groceries.

Today on the farm I need to do my regular feeding chores, plus move the hay ring and fill the compost a bit.

8:59 am

Feeding the rumies was much less taxing today. No one busted through any fences or gates and for the most part waited for their feed patiently. Some of the goats did not eat all of their Red Cell: Star and Bella.

I also moved the hay ring to a different location. This effectively changes where all the rumies hang out, which I hope will decrease them picking up parasites. I also picked up two 5 gallon buckets of Coco’s manure. I am sure now that she is confined that will turn to three buckets this coming week.

Those buckets of manure I thought to put on top of the compost pile of course, along with the minuscule amount of kitchen scraps and persimmons which I pick up every morning. However, given that none of the chickens have yet discovered how to get on top of the pile, I opted to make a smaller pile nearby. This will give them a chance to scratch through it before I add it to the bigger pile. Tomorrow I will put the scraps on top of it and then in the evening flip it all over into the big pile. Then my daily routine in the am will be to collect poop and straw, pile it beside the bin, dump the scraps on top. In the evening, rake it up and put it into the bin.

I have not considered that I also need to pick up chicken poo. I will probably alternate days on this: cow, chicken, goat, repeat. The goat poo is a problem though, as it is difficult to pick up. It might be best to let it lie and cover with straw.

The little red hen who is my best compost forager, aside from the mama with two chicks, followed me around while I was picking up cow poo. Some of it was quite old and rotted. I think she recognized the pitchfork as an omen of good food. That is exactly what I want to happen with all of the chickens.

I have another pile in the barnyard that may actually be ready to put on my new garden spot to finish curing. The hen with chicks has turned that pile over multiple times.

My trip to TSC yielded nothing but alfalfa pellets. I was hoping for a B12 oral supplement. However, a little more research revealed that I can supplement with B12 tablets made for humans dissolved in water. I ought to be able to squirt that on their feed. So, Red Cell provides iron, B12 and other minerals. Molasses provides more iron. B12 tablets give more B12. Alfalfa provides protein. All the elements necessary to fight anemia.

All of this research into how to cure anemia in my goats has revealed some interesting facts, an utter truth, if you will:

The more I become aware of how the body of a ruminant works, the more convinced I am that there is a God of creation.

For instance, did you know that all animals need vitamin B12 to survive? And did you know that vitamin B12 is found naturally in animal products but not plant products? B12 makes healthy blood cells and helps our nerves to work properly.

Bad news for vegetarians, who must take supplements or eat fortified foods in order to get the B12 their bodies need.

But wait! What about vegetarian animals like cows and goats and other cud chewers??

And that is where the miracle lies.

Did you know that ruminants can’t actually digest the plant material they eat? Turns out they are not really vegetarians at all.

According to Science on the Farm,

“Even though cows eat grass, they can’t digest it on their own. This is because cows can’t make the enzymes needed to break down some parts of plant cells. For example, cows can’t digest cellulose. To do this, they need an enzyme called cellulase. This is why the microorganisms [in their rumen] are so important- they produce the cellulase and other enzymes necessary to break down the parts of plant cells that the cow can’t digest. Many different types of microorganisms live in cow guts, making different enzymes to break down different parts of plants.

The microorganisms digest the plant material and produce short-chain fatty acids, which the cow can then absorb through its gut wall and use for energy. As well as this, the cow also digests some of the microorganisms every day as they are washed out of the rumen into the abomasum. So you could say that the cow’s diet is actually made up of grass and microbes, not just the grass that it eats.”

How complicated is that? And why in the world would a creator go to all that trouble?

Well. I don’t know. Maybe He got bored and wanted to experiment. It’s fun to ruminate, though, don’t you think?

Just some daily chores

I had to again feed grain to the chickens this morning as we didn’t have enough kitchen scraps. Everyone ate away from home last night. I scattered grain in an area that I wanted the chickens to scratch in. May as well get as much benefit as possible.

I also mixed feed for the ruminants: minerals, oats, BOSS, and a glug of molasses. I gave Celine and Star red cell. All of the goats are recovering from anemia after a bout with lice. Star is definitely pregnant and looks like she’s due at the new year. Celine, on the other hand, may have miscarried about two weeks ago, though she is still quite big.

I have been reading that in order to recover from anemia, goats need not only iron, but also B12 and lots of protein. Molasses has a significant amount of iron in it, as does the red cell, in addition to other minerals. I also added a bit of loose minerals. I will probably do the loose minerals only once a week, as I don’t want to overdose on selenium. I may swing by Tractor Supply tomorrow and pick up B12 and a protein top dress.

I was going to give red cell to the others as well but Coco the heifer broke through to the goat area when she saw me feeding grain. I didn’t want her to hog all the red cell up from the smaller goats. Then Celine broke out, too. It was a rodeo.

Tomorrow I will be sure to secure the gate to the goat area and also Celine’s feeding area before feeding. I also may need to collect pans and distribute the feed into the pans, then put pans in the pens. We shall see.

I spent an hour or so this afternoon constructing a compost pile with pallets, following Justin Rhodes directions. My pile is HUGE compared to the piles I’ve been building without pallets. It is clear, from the sprouts in my last batch of compost, that my piles have not been getting hot enough. Hopefully this will do the trick. The pile is not nearly finished. I will need to continue to add materials over the next few days.

In moving the materials to where they needed to be, I did uncover some larvae that a couple of hens feasted on. I continue to be amazed that none of my chickens seem to care for worms. To experiment with this and to see if I can’t teach the chickens how yummy worms actually are, I’ve begun a mini worm farm in a small bucket. I have tons of tiny red wrigglers just about everywhere I dig in the barn area. I gathered up a good number of these to put into the farm. Once these worms get bigger, I will experiment with feeding them to chickens.

Scones anyone? 

Church this morning. Took Coco out on a rope and she enjoyed some grass in other places. She reminds me of a big puppy. She came up to me earlier and bumped me with her head and then hopped up, like she was going to put her hooves on my shoulders. I pushed her back and said no. Later I put a rope on her and led her around the yard, letting her sample grass. If she thinks for even a second I have food she will follow right on my heels, sniff my backside and lick my arms and hands. Really she is too big to do that. 

She and the goats are approaching a truce. They are hanging out closer together. She is drinking all their water and likely stealing some alfalfa pellets now and again. She likes the little pasture. 

She has eaten over a pound of calf starter for two days in a row. On Wednesday, she will be 12 weeks old. 

Took pics of Celine and Star’s offspring to share on Facebook with Anne, from whom I bought Celine and Star. 

During evening feeding Dev said he heard peeping from under a hen. I did not. Chicks are due to be hatched Wednesday. Some could possibly come earlier. 

One of the Buffs is laying. I caught her in the act today. There were six in her nest and the other game hen had four in a nest on the ground. I had thought the game hen had begun laying in the nest. Maybe she laid one or two there. I combined the eggs in hopes one will go broody and to prevent the ones on the ground from getting wet in the coming rain. 

How have I never made scones before? It’s basically a biscuit recipe with goodies added to it. Super simple. And you don’t even have to drop them, though you could. I baked a cinnamon pecan batch in an iron skillet like a cake. Yummy. 

I see this becoming a breakfast staple. 

We got a bit of rain today, close on the heels of me planting turnips and beets in the little garden. Kenny dug up most of the potatoes yesterday. I think there are about two rows left. I planted 1.5 rows of beets and 4 or 5 rows of turnips. 

That will make good food for us and the animals. What we don’t eat they will. They devoured the potato tops.

How to Fail at Christian School

“Even the rich are hungry for love, for being cared for, for being wanted, for having someone to call their own.” 

–Mother Theresa

OMG–School awards day. In the chapel. Woman behind me is Perfect Mom who has taught her toddler her ABCs and has gone through it at least once in a high falsetto voice as we wait for the program to begin.

Apparently awards will go through late morning which was indicated with a phrase on a calendar sent home weeks ago instead of the customary half page note we usually get. I will miss an out of town appointment and another interview. I don’t have time for this and try to figure out how to slip out early. Do I have to listen to every, single award? 

I still feel crappy but at least my nose isn’t draining all over the place. I feel like a fatso with all these perfectly trim moms.

Spilled hot coffee in my lap this am–a whole mug. I smell like nondairy creamer and my thighs are really tender.

Had a yelling match with Dev this morning because he thought it was acceptable to wear clothes that had been wadded up in the laundry basket.

The once-a-week housekeeper who normally helps me keep things sane didn’t do such a hot job this week. I can deal with just about anything except piled up clothes.

I have no relationships with any of the unhurried, well-groomed, well-prepared, in control, smiling, cheerful women who surround me, chatting with one another as if life were perfect. 

The Aerobic Moms are directly behind me, their stringy muscular arms in sleeveless tops. Do they ever eat? And what exactly do they eat? I would love to follow one around and do a food diary on her. Much more helpful than doing a food diary on myself. 

I know I eat crap.

And there is Mr. Smith* with his perfectly lovely wife greeting the elegant Joneses*. These are men I once worked with almost daily in projects that affect the community as a whole, my small marketing firm a helpmate in the business world. But their wives never have given me the time of day. Not then when I was an entrepreneur and not now when I’m a 9-5 employee. Maybe they are too busy planning their manicures and massages. 

And let’s not forget Billy’s* mom who for some reason hates my guts, even though our sons have professed that they are best friends. 

And the Williamsons*. Bob has been less than friendly lately. At one time he had wanted me to work on a project for him and had even emailed me the preliminary information. I get the feeling Melody clamped down on his chatting me up and talking about ways to improve his business image. 

She’s lost a lot of weight and gotten quite trim herself. I suspect she may have had surgery. When I complimented her, she changed the subject. If she’d been dieting and working out she would’ve bragged a bit. 

The principal just brought me Isaiah’s camo hoodie. He wanted to wear it during the awards ceremony. A big no-no.

I think the couple behind me, Perfect Mom who has just made room for Shell-shocked Dad to slip into the the pew beside her, must be going through a divorce. She’s pretty snappy toward him and it sounds like they’re making visitation arrangements.

When the program is over, both my boys have certificates for having made A/B Honor Roll for the year. Not many did; I listened for it. Devyn also got Reading Achievement, Faithfulness and the Athletic Award. Isaiah got achievement in Bible. They both worked hard this year. 

I, on the other hand, seem to be failing miserably at this Christian school. 

I need a better path. I need green grass, sunshine and a cow. 

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent. 

On the Road to Real Food

It has been a very busy last few days. Devyn broke his finger at Isaiah’s game, acting as bat boy. Landyn, one of the kids on Zaya’s team was on deck when Dev walked by with a bat. Landyn swung his bat and sandwiched Dev’s hand between the bat he was holding and Landyn’s bat. It fractured his right index finger. 

I’ve switched us to whole milk…partly because of Dev’s finger and mostly because of the book I’ve been reading by the same woman who wrote Keeping a Family Cow, the Heifer Diary and Real Food, which is about good nutrition.  She goes into more detail about the nutritious properties of whole milk as opposed to 2 percent and skim and especially raw milk over processed. 

I think that tomorrow on our way to Shreveport we’ll stop by Flowing Hills Creamery in Belmont. They have pasteurized, but not homogenized milk there. Might get some. Will have to take a cooler. May even stop on our way home if they’re open on Saturday. 

We started clearing land and fixing the road, making good use of the tractor. It will take Kenny some time to get used to how it works. Right now the road is a bit of mess. As soon as he was done moving dirt around, it rained, making our mudpits even muddier. But K is optimistic still, so I will leave it to him. 

“Oh, I just have to smooth it over again when it dries out. It will get better,” he said. It is a big mess right now. I have decided to trust him.

We cleared a little land, but quickly realized it was too overgrown for even a tractor.

So, we will be getting goats and fencing as soon as possible. We also talked about getting a couple pigs at the end of summer to clear the garden for us. K is gungho about the little garden but thinks the big garden will afford the pigs too much exercise 🤨. I don’t know where he gets these ideas. Anyway, I think I’ve got some piggies located. A nearby Facebook friend is raising pigs and said she’d have some for $60 apiece at the end of summer. Piglets. Fun. 

We’ll probably get the goats as soon as I get paid. I should look on bookoo right now…no luck, except one Boer goat for $500 which is way too rich for our blood. 

I’m thinking about chickens again. K will freak. We had such a bad experience. Well–HE had such a bad experience. All the work fell on him. It wasn’t really fair of me to do that. For now, we can rely on Daddy for eggs. I will ease him into the chickens, once we have the goats, pigs, horses and cow. The horse and cow will require a bigger shelter than whatever shed we build for the goats. The pigs will go into our gardens; which already has shelter or we’ll make out of hay bales. 

Once we get the shelter for the horse and cows, THEN I’ll lobby for chickens on the grounds that it’s downright silly not to have them since we have everything else. We will see. And hopefully they’ll be a bit further from the house. 

Start my new job on Monday. Yesterday, I gave over many of my accounts to subcontractors and/or employees of my clients. I still have three accounts to wrap up. 

Today is my employee’s last day, maybe. If I have to, I can go into my office in the mornings through June 1. That’s really only about six weeks, because of the Honduras trip and summer camp. 

I am looking forward to leaving my job at work. I’m really tired of being obsessed with this little business. I want to focus on my kids, teaching them how to live, feeding them right, making memories with the grands and writing it all down. 

So after doing a bit of research, I’ve found not only the creamery (30 miles away in Sabine Parish) but also a CSA produce and pig farm here in Hornbeck and another in Simpson that also provides grass-fed beef. Need to check out those prices, but the CSA in Hornbeck is cheaper all around than Inglewood and extends into summer with tomatoes.