Four Country Gals

  (Beryl, Utah)
Certified Organic Garden, Custom-raised lambs, hogs, goats, Mom's Farm-Fresh Eggs
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Bummer lambs love goat milk

Around here, nothing  goes to waste. Also nothing goes for want. 

Sunday night, we picked up 3 little bummers (aka, dogies) from a neighboring sheep farm. They often have "extra" lambs, either from quads, or with black spots on them.

The first night they stayed in the house in a dog crate, needing to be fed every two hours or so... yes, straight through the night. Our Finnish Spitz had the overnight watch. Every time they yelled, she'd wake us with her whining and barking.

The little girls, (got luck on this) have been moved to their own pen and now walk with us to the milking stanchion. The goat we've been milking for ourselves is now doing double  duty. Each of the little lambs get's their fill from her, as she munches on sweet feed. She also supplements her own little doe lamb.

It's funny, too, because this doe is the one who was totally clueless about what she had done... kidded two little ones, a boy and a girl. We had personally dried them, and put them on the other goat for their colostrum.

It's quite a sight to see one of us walking along from the lamb pen to the goat pen with three little lambs and a Border Collie trotting along behind us. And then to see the little ones hop on the stanchion to get their milk, we've got the "black and white look". Posey is a black goat, and  the lambs are almost snow white.

My only complaint is that it screws up my cheese making plans.


Busy week, shearing, more kidding, aquaponics, and soon time to plant

What a week! With great spring weather,  we've been outside working on projects.  You know  the old adage, work on the farm is never done. Bev built some more feeders for the sheep, and we got those installed. Today we built a creep area for the lambs using pallets to separate it from the general feed area. 

The shearer was here yesterday, and confirmed that we still have 5 more first time ewes to lamb. Looks like we could be lambing into late May. He took all the fleece from the white faced ewes, and we kept the rest.  We're learning that wool buyers don't want any fleece from black faced sheep as they could have spare black hairs running anywhere in the pelt.

 We're replacing our ram (black face) with a white face this year. He  was going to be replaced anyway because we're not totally happy with his performance.

The two first-time goats  chose to go  into to labor simultaneously Thursday night. They presented us with a pair of twins each. Annie, our multicolored doe was clueless on her first, but cleaned and cared for her second while I helped the first get a full belly of colostrum. She had her two early in the evening just an hour apart.

Posey  (our black doe) was the slowpoke.We had figured she'd kid first, but surprise... She waited until about 1am to have her first one. She was totally clueless, and  uninterested in what she had done. Same thing  with her second kid.

Good news was  that Cindy and I were there. We knew better than to leave these two alone. Now, our goat shed is about 8 x 10 feet and slopes from 4 feet to 5 feet roof line. We have to crawl through the door, and then stay on our hands and knees  all the time.  Even after spending the night in there  with the goats, we have no plans to  raise the roofs. The lower line helps conserve heat in the winter.

Cindy has also been working on Phase II of her aquaponics system. She purchased a 275 gal IBC and has cut it into a couple of pieces. It as a real  test to get the pieces into the  greenhouse.  (Note:  the next  hoop houses will have much larger doors.) We had to dismantle the original blue barrel system, and this new one sits in the same place. The barrels will sit on  top of the south side garden box once this year's seedlings are out of there.

Give me a day or two and I'll have some new stories and pictures up on our main web site,


Got lambs, kids, and a NRCS grant

What a week! 

First our ISP gets a little goofy, then our web host does the same... moves us to a new server, and fails to have us change the IP's at the domain registrar. Add to that, one desktop's wireless card fails, as our wireless modem gets a little flaky. 

All that aside, we've got four of the cutest little kids, birthed by a Pygmy who was bred to a Nubian/Boer. Thankfully, she did it all unassisted and is happily raising all four kids.

Lambing is coming along. We've got 12 on the ground now, with one coming in the house every night.  She's been rejected by her Mom, but is in the pen during the day on nice days. At night, she's sleeping in a crate by someone's (usually mine) bed. If I hear a "maaa" I wake up and give her bottle.

We still have at least two goats to kid.They're in their pen moaning and groaning. They're first timers so I suppose we'll be cradling  their heads through the labor process.

On the rest of the farm front, we have signed the contract with the NRCS for our high tunnel  grant.  They're paying about 75% of our costs for two 20x54 ft hoop houses, drip irrigation system, soil management, cover crop and tuition for one of us to complete the Master Gardner course. This has been a two year process.

Depending up getting all our ducks in a row, we could install the hoop houses before May 10 or after September 15. No  way will we sacrifice part of our already short growing season.

With the hoop houses in place, we'll be able to plant in late February to early March, and take advantage of several long season crops. It also eliminates the need to plant seeds into pots and then transplant. That's gotta be better for our garden.

Cindy's working on a much larger aquaponics system, as our tests were good enough for her to proceed. Eventually, our original hoop house (12x20) will contain strictly aquaponics. Those systems are "closed" with fish in a tank, where the water is pumped to the plants and the gravity fed back to the fish. The fish feed the plants, and the plants feed the fish. Any inputs are made by feeding the fish. She's also planning to have red worm beds and feed the worms to the fish.


This week was a whirlwind... or was it a roller coaster?

The week began with lambs on the ground. The bad news is that after nearly round-the-clock efforts, we lost both twins. Mama ewe (named Charcoal) never dropped her milk, even though her bag was about to burst.

First thing Monday, Bev and Cindy had to take Mom to the ER, for fear she had pneumonia. Thankfully it is bronchitis. At nearly 83 each little thing sets her on her butt for weeks. She's on the road to recovery, and by the end of the week, was nearly back to herself, except for wearing before noon. She's up at 5, so that's a pretty good day.

We received news that we have been pre approved for the NRCS EQUIP Grant. That will help us build 2 20x54ft high tunnels. Looks like we are getting about a 70% funding which is pretty good. We'll still have to come up with another $4K to complete the job. We'll get these built after this year's growing season.

Once these are installed, we'll be able to extend our market to Certified Organic seedlings in the spring as well as all the summer veggies for Farmers' Market, and into the late veggies, too. Not sure we can get to a true 4-season operation for a few more years.

 With this grant, we'll be required to take the Master Gardener's course. Sure hope they tailor it to our needs here in SW Utah, where the wind blows daily and we get less than 10 inches of precipitation per year.

By the end of the week, we had 3 live lambs out of 7 born... a really poor start, but considering we had a snow storm, 3 days of wind at better than 30 mph with gusts over 60mph, we were happy to have the 3 we got.

 Now we're waiting on more ewes this week (5 total), and 4 goats, including a pygmy that's broader than she is long.

We need to move more than 80 bales of hay, but want the wind to die down a bit, maybe tomorrow morning. With the three of us, and the tractor, the job goes quite smoothly. Cindy goes up on the stack and drops the bales down. Bev and I arrange the bales for pickup and then one of us (my turn) uses the front-end loader to move 2 bales at a time to the feeding areas, one for the sheep ( who go through about a bale a day) and the cows and goats (who also go through about a bale a day).

 By moving 80 bales one day, we don't have to do that job again for at least a month or so. Two more moving sessions and it will be time to have this year's crop delivered.


First lambs on the ground

The first ewes have presented us with a single boy and a pair of twins (boy and girl). I had to assist a little with the twins, as they were quite large and the second one was in a hurry. The head and one foot/leg was out, but stuck, so I gently pulled from the back of the head and held steady whenever Mama had contractions. The little boy weighed 9.5# and the girl came in at 10#. The other single hasn't been weighed, but he's a big healthy lamb.

 The twins Mama hasn't dropped her milk even though her bag is full, and the teats have been stripped (we did that), so we've been bottle feeding every couple hours during the day, right up until almost midnight. They seem to do ok through the night.

 Wouldn't you know 2 out of 3 of us active gals have to be off the farm today, tomorrow and Wednesday, leaving each of us by ourselves. It can be a bit stressful.

 Back for another round of milk for the twins...




What's with this weather? It's lambing and kidding time...

All winter long, the temperature has been above normal, the precipitation below level, and even the wind hasn't been too bad. 

Now that it's kidding and lambing time, Mother Nature is having her way.  Our sheep are quite pregnant and it's time to shear. Another two weeks and it will be past time to shear.

We've had several discussions with out shearer, and he's been pushed way behind schedule by a series of late winter snow storms, beginning the end of January.

What's the forecast?

Snow tomorrow (Monday), maybe snow again Friday, and the same thing about every 4 to 5 days for the next 21 days. Sigh.

Last year the sheep were sheared just before lambing (like about 3 days) and it's terribly risky. We lost a set of trips that we think was the result of the ewe struggling so much.

This is our first year with goats, having helped the neighbors for a couple of years. Our pygmy dam is wider than she is long, and can barely get through her shelter door. We'll be moving her this week into an unused pig pen, with a bigger door. Don't want to take any chances of chilled kids.

The two Nubians won't be far behind with their first kids. They can still get through the shelter door, so no problem there. Same thing with the French Alpine. In fact, we're not totally sure she's preggie, unless she's having a single kid.

This year, we're a bit more prepared, even having a couple of lamb coats for anyone that may be chilled. We've rebuilt the "teat bucket" in hopes of not having to use it. We really prefer the lambs all nurse from a ewe.

Beginning March 1, we'll be on "kid watch". That means four hour goat checks around the clock, even during snow storms, wind storms, etc. Right after that, it's "lamb watch" for the next 3 weeks.

 Of course, once there are babies, it's all hands to the pens for as long as it takes, whenever it happens. No more rest for us...


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