Saturday, August 20, 2016

Here come the Guineas....

This year we found ourselves with only 3 Guineas... We've had Guiana fowl from the beginning. They were actually the first livestock I purchased for the farm! 
They are most commonly used as tick control and for 'watch dog' duties in the USA. Though they tend to be so loud all the time I'm not sold in the watch dog part.. Geese are way better at warning if there's trouble because they have specific shrill screams when there's a threat.. The Guineas just scream all the time!
For organic tick control the hype is real!! There is no better option than Guineas .
Guineas are very loud , obnoxious and tend to be pretty stupid.... They can fly ... But it takes them a couple of years to be able to fly well! So please don't believe all that you hear about them flying helps protect them from predators... Because They typically do things like fly over our fencing and can't remember how to fly back over .. Carrying on like they do , they draw in predators and get eaten...the females also become sitting ducks when they make their nest in the spring .. Typically making it in tall brushy areas , Ofcourse outside the fences.. She will not leave her nest and gets killed protecting it. Many years we've started out with well over 20 Guineas to only end up with 3 or 4 to overwinter. 
If Guineas would just stay inside the fencing with the donkeys & nite guards they would be fine! 

Last year we only had 4 Guineas so I bought in more and I think we had 17 mid summer... By winter we had 4 males☹️ by tick season we had 3...
I was determined to be done with Guineas and never buy more... Then I had several tick bites this year.. Including a bad tick bite early summer which looked to be this.....

Ok... I'll get more Guineas!  But I didn't want to mess with them this year.. I've got to many geese and Muscovies to deal with! I'll get some next year!
Then last week I pulled a tick off my little Jack colt... 
And then I read this....

So here I am with 30 assorted Guineas o the way... Since Guinea Keets typically aren't available until May or June and it takes a couple of months of brooding and raising they aren't ready to patrol for ticks until late summer usually. So I'm better off ordering them now at the tail end of the season so next spring they are ready to work! 
And Since I'm Not looking to pay over hundred dollars for birds and more in feed raising them to be predator food, this time I'll try having them pinioned so they can not fly out over fencing!
I'm getting them from this place... 

For those who may say pinioning is cruel..flying over the fence and Getting ripped apart by a fox or coyote or played with to death by a neighbors stupid running loose dog is far worse IMO!

I will also mention that if you have any neighbors they might not appreciate your organic tick control efforts! 
We have 35 acres and no close neighbors.. But our Guineas fly out of fencing and end up across a pasture and through a wood lot on our neighbors lawn .. Which that neighbor took us to court over them...because we could not control our Guinea under ' livestock at large' they pressed charges.
It was a huge waste of our precious time to deal with this...
And thankfully It was thrown out of court because our use for Guineas , organic tick control, didn't fall into the definition of livestock according to TN law. 
Our neighbor still has the right to shoot them if they are in his land though.. 

As you can see,, keeping Guineas just will not work out if they can't stay in our fencing... And it's my responsibility to keep my animals on my property.
I certainly expect my neighbors to keep their animals on their property too. 

So here's to jumping in with pinioned Guineas and hoping my organic tick control will stay in our fences to do their jobs!

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

I went looking for one Jenny (ok, maybe 2!)

I was in total panic mode as we made our way through Virgina last Saturday. My stomach was in knots.. I couldn't even eat my favorite chips I had picked up for the trip ( if I can't eat chips, something is very wrong!) 
My poor husband thought I was going to have a panic attack.. I thought I might have a panic attack!
It didn't help that I had 10 oz. of pure espresso either!
Five hours Up mountains , through the longest tunnel ever , almost all the way to the west Virgina line and down into a hollow to get to this farm for their donkey sell out..,
And when we walked into the pasture my worries and stomach knots melted away,,, I saw these beautiful , perfect sized girls! All coming over to check us out. Have I found an important part of my donkey dairy dream team???

You see I didn't mean to load up 4 new donkeys... I meant to find one Jenny..  Preferably with a young foal so I could milk her. So Orel and little Varda here below are what made me call in the first place!

I mean... Look at her little face!!! 
But I also left with these 2 lovely ladies...
Lior and Adiva... They were just to perfect.. Super friendly, beautiful coloring and that size I like!
Lior may be bred... Or maybe just a little fatty! I'm sure my jack will let me know before to long which it is!
And I love the rarer colored donkeys...
There's a lot of hoof work got to be done! 
Lior has to be on a diet .. Cause even if she is bred , she's chunky! 
And there will be lots of halter and lead training this fall!! None of these new girls are lead trained! None of them!!!
Luckily they already really like me and we are building trust. Donkeys need to trust you. If they don't there won't be much success in training! Thinking animals.. They are such thinking animals!
If all goes well I'll be milking Orel in 4 to 6 weeks!!! 

Huge blessing. To find the size donkeys I want to primarily concentrate on for our dairy donkey project. With color! 
Color is a pretty important part of what I'm trying to do here too! 
I am so thankful to have these gorgeous girls to work with ๐Ÿ˜€๐Ÿ˜€

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

End of the summer in site!

It's been awhile since I've blogged!
This heat wave we've been having has taken a lot out of me! So has an annoying neck injury ๐Ÿ˜’ which between that and the heat wave I'm very behind on everything it seems!!
Well,,, and traveling over the southeast to find prospects for the dairy donkey herd!
Finding a donkey I can work with and fits what I'm looking for is no small thing! 
We've looked a lot, walked away several times but, it's not been all pointless...
Since having to sell Henna I've added a gorgeous young spotted girl we went to NC to get.
And another gorgeous girl we went to middle TN for! 
Yep! 2 more future milking donkeys!
I hope to build my herd to 6 to 8 dairy donkeys. Concentrating on more production in the fall and winter... Part of our ' take the farm to the next level' plan. 
That's another post ...
Back to donkeys!!! 
The girl from middle TN is older and was full of milk from nursing her 8 month old foal! So she gets a star for length of lactation obviously! 
Unfortunately the sellers didn't want to part with the foal so Nitzie ( short for Nitzevet) will dry up quickly! So I'll have to wait until next year to really milk her. What little she did let me milk I'm looking forward to it! She has a very nice easy udder to milk!!! 
She's also big enough for me to train her to ride. And She's a doll! 
Look at that fringe on her ears!! Adorable! 
She needs halter work and major work on her hooves ... But she was still an amazing find!!!! Donkeys like this certainly don't come along everyday๐Ÿค— if they did my 8 spots for Jennies would be filled! 
Just look at her! 
Kikhl is the new addition from NC. 
Also a blessing to find such a girl like this!! She's young. So I won't be breeding her until next spring . 
Also a sweet heart! She had some nipping habits , like most younger donkeys, but she's already learned not to do that... To me anyways! 
Once she's mature she will also be large enough to ride but it'll be awhile. She's got some halter and leading work ahead of her but she is catching on very fast!! 
Adore her.. She'd get in my lap if she could she's such a cuddly baby and absolutely loves hugs !
There's so much going on at the end of the summer. My April and May hatched Chinese geese are finally big enough to move to a larger grow out pen. 
I love geese! ❤️❤️❤️
Second only to donkeys ...
And on the over side of the farm another one of my husbands rare meishans had piglets!!!! Look at all those cuties.
I could never ever go back to other pigs.
I'm still in amazement at how quiet and nice they are! So docile ...

Out in the garden the produce is still rolling in... Mostly okra and peppers now. Still getting a few melons , tomatoes , squash and cucumbers. 
I harvested our first dent corn already, Lima beans, purple hull peas.
Pumpkins and winter squash almost ready to harvest!

I've been getting tons of canning done!
Carmelized onion and red wine pizza sauce, cucumber and green pepper relish , basil tomato sauce , green beans in duck broth, green tomato chutney, salsa verde to name a few things that are filling up the pantry this year!
And this... 
Salted Melon Jelly!
Best jelly I've ever made! Excellent way to capture summer in a jar ๐Ÿ™‚
So as you can see the blessings and bounties are many!
I'm ever thankful to God for all this and my savior for giving me peace in my mind to be able live such a quiet but challenging life. 
I'm very thankful. 

It's a hot but beautiful summer... But it's end is near. I'm looking forward to a beautiful cool fall! 
Cool weather to work with the donkeys,, fall gardens without weeds! Hopefully some fall goose eggs!!!! Oh I miss goose eggs so bad!!!!! 

Friday, July 22, 2016

My gift donkey didn't work but I'm still grateful

Remember Henna?? 
The big 'gift' donkey??
Well, Im very sad to say She didn't fit in here because she had issues with ducks and geese... Bad issues!! She wanted to stomp them!!
Huge problem since I use donkeys to help keep my poultry and waterfowl safe. They need to coexist in pastures and woodlots because 2 of the 4 areas and the new pasture has a creek or pond that the waterfowl can use better than any other livestock we have. 
Plus my ducks are so excellent at keeping the fly population down.. Nice for donkeys since flies tend to spread disease and make them so uncomfortable!
Such a sweet girl ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ im sorry she didn't work out.
I'm still glad I got her , short time it was, I learned something about donkeys..
And I'm not just talking about her aggressive behavior to waterfowl . Which I admit, really caught me off guard because the other 6 donkeys I've had/have could have cared less about the birds! Who knew??!

Donkeys are such individual, thinking animals.. It takes some of them awhile to trust. 
All of them do not make good guards, or pets or whatever. And some of them do make excellent guards , pets and even excellent dairy animals! ๐Ÿ˜‰
They are just so different from donkey to donkey! And each one needs to be treated and evaluated as an individual. 

Henna had a completley different vibe about her and she much preferred my husband to me. 
Which also surprised me because the other donkeys have always prefered me!

So I learned from the experience and got more comfortable being around a much larger donkey in the process.
I'm happy to say I found her the most perfect home ,,, one without ducks or geese!!!

Learning experiences are always good..
Even if you learn what not to do!

Have a blessed day! 

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Farm Foodie

I know... I don't really like the name 'foodie' either. It sounds a bit uppity , maybe a tad pretentious , which my little country self Is neither!! 
But It's way better than calling myself ridiculously picky....
Add that on to my annoying food allergies... I'm just kinda hard to feed!
In Knoxville , Chattanooga and Especially Atlanta where I worked and played for years finding foodie type restaurants with very specialized appetizers and creative entrees wasn't that hard. As I got older and my food allergies got worse.. That was something different. 

 It's really not hard to make home grown food taste good at all.. But when you eat seasonally it can get repetitive at times and bore the taste buds a little. So here's A little summer foodie meal idea...

Every summer we get these wild current tomatoes that pop up everywhere. I have no ideal how they spread like they do! They are resistant to most of the things that wipe out my other tomatoes early. They have an incredible tomato flavor with a pop of well balanced sweetness!
But we can only eat so many tomato Last year I made a specialty ketchup wild tomato jam that just complemented our sweet potato fries so well.

I still have a few jars left so this year I wanted something different.
I had just made a big egg salad with my favorite white cucumbers , fresh dill and 12 big rich Muscovy eggs I found in a very hidden nest ( sneaky Muscovy!)
Rather than just eat with a sliced tomato on the egg salad sandwich for dinner .. Which my taste buds were telling me 'boring!!!' ...
I made another kind of savory jam that would complement the egg salad sandwich. 
So with a new very fragrant basil in the garden I made a small batch of 
Tomato Lime Basil Jam!!
It's Perfect... Any cherry tomato would probably work well in this recipe.
The recipe, I used the blue book preserving tomato jam recipe, added lime basil and lime juice. Easy!
I'm not in the mood to make bread..not in the summer.  It's just to time cumsumming ! And then I'll be stuck with a big ol' loaf of bread to try and eat the next few days.. 
Solution ... Pumpkin Biscuits! Now being southern I could eat biscuits all day long.
Adding pumpkin to them makes them healthier so I feel better about it when I eat them all day long! ๐Ÿ˜‰
There are still some Seminole pumpkins in the pantry farm last year. Roasted up, purรฉed with wheat flour, lard , little salt and baking powder ... Bake!
Topped with our own homegrown bacon custom cured by Bentons bacon in madisonville....
No bored taste buds! 
Muscovy duck egg and cucumber salad, on pumpkin biscuits with cured bacon and tomato lime basil jam ....
No , no bored taste buds here! At all!

I couldn't get anything this good in any restaurant we've been to in the last 6 years. So much flavor! And nothing to cause an allergy for me.

Farming pays off at the table ๐Ÿ˜€


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Don't look a gift donkey in the mouth

I'm happy to introduce Henna! 
A gorgeous bay colored jennet!
She is truly a gift... An unexpected , fell in my lap kinda gift that I almost refused!
She comes to me from a guy who bought geese from me a couple of months ago.. He liked my donkeys so he was inspired to get one to guard his cattle but it didn't work out..
So he texted me a couple of days ago and asked me if I would take her. He only had her for about a month or so.. Couldn't tell me much of anything about her...
I was hesitant ,,, it was so totally unexpected and I felt positive this donkey was probably a hot mess!
A crazy wild donkey is the last thing I want to deal with..I've got a crazy wild Jack already that needs loads of work and I'm training Rani's Jack colt.
But .... He said she was a big ol' pet ...and she looked so lonely and pretty in the picture he sent.
so off we went , we drive an hour and half north to check her out.
I'm so glad we did.... So I will not look a gift donkey in the mouth again!!
She's a sweetheart! And came right at a time I've been considering getting a couple of bigger donkeys. 
She's a lot bigger than the donkeys I've been working with.. 
If fact Henna is bigger than the donkey I sold last year because I thought she was too big!
I feel much more confident around donkeys now so I'm ready! With the  extra 4 acres my husband is fencing I have the room for some bigger donkeys.
My idea herd... 4 small standard Jennets and 2 large standard Jennets. 
Ofcourse a couple of jacks... Gotta have the boys since stud service is impossible to find here unless it's a mammoth donkey ... So not wanting a mammoth... 
At this time!!!๐Ÿ˜‰
Henna still has a scruffy winter coat. She's 2 years old so she's never foaled. I am hopeful she will be a good addition to our dairy donkey herd.
Oh... And she's plenty big enough for me ride!!!
A little added value there. 
She will need some work and I'm so excited to work with her.
Hoping my husband can get me a corral built this month sometime ( please husband please!!!)
I've been working with my wild crazy Jack using some new techniques I've learned and I'm happy to say that for the first time since I've had him for these 9 months he let me pet him today!!! Really pet him!! Pat his back and all!
A corral would make things so much easier though! 
But back to the Jennets... And Henna..
Isn't she gorgeous!! 
On the sad side of this post .. I sold my mini Jenny donkeys๐Ÿ˜Ÿ
Mini donkeys have never really been what I wanted to focus on.. But I love them!!!
Small standards have been my personal idea homestead dairy donkey for us.
Mini donkeys are so great.. Just so nice and non intimidating! 
I can't keep them all though...We decided if I'm going to get some bigger girls the minis must go on to other homes. I'm very happy to say all 3 minis went to fantastic homes!!! 
A lot of good came from the minis!
Im very thankful I had them because A major thing happened with them.. And with my smallest standard Rani...
With them being small I wasn't intimidated and I gained lots of confidence working with them. I wouldn't be here getting into the bigger donkeys if I didn't start with them!!

The ever changing farm... 
Gotta be flexible. Gotta go with the flow..

The work load is heavy, especially this time of year! So it's nice to have livestock I gain so much joy from.
They really do make the farm a happier place for me.
So praise to God for leading me this way .. 
That's a huge blessing!

And I'm still thinking of how close I was to telling that guy thanks, but no thank you on Henna because I was afraid..
I seriously almost looked a gift donkey in the mouth! 

Till next time! Happy Sunday!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Dairy Donkey # 2 in the making

Yesterday Leeba finally had her foal!
A tiny jennet! And I'm still amazed everytime I look at her. How can anything be this adorable...., 
So Leeba is on her way to being dairy donkey number 2 here!
She's right on the edge of mini at 36.5 in.
Few inches shorter than Rani who is definitely a small standard.
Rani's jack colt Eli is almost 8 weeks old and wow! He is a handful!!! 
We are up to him being off his mom for 3 1/2 hours now and she is giving me a pint of milk on that 3 1/2 hour fill!!!!
That's how much I got of some of my Nigerian dwarf dairy goats for a 12 hour fill. So this is good! Very!
Plus she milks so easy! Easier than many dairy goats and dairy sheep I had.
Donkeys on the homestead aren't for everyone... Certainly dairy donkeys aren't for everyone .. But they are working out so well here. 
I feel like all the other dairy animals I tried that failed here for some reason or another have lead me to being more prepared for this dairy donkey journey on our farm. 
It's hard to realize that sometimes your failures are really getting you ready for something that's better for you.
I enjoy working with donkeys better than sheep,, which I enjoyed working with better than goats!
 God does work in mysterious ways.., I can promise you if 6 years ago someone said ,'you will be milking donkeys' I would have said that's weird and no way!! 
Honestly When we first started the farm I would have said that's weird and no way to dairy sheep! I think my experience milking sheep really helped open my mind to milking donkeys. What a journey!
Wonder if my dairy animal journey will ever lead me to milking yaks???!!!??! Or camels !! Water buffalo?? 
๐Ÿ˜‚husband says NO! ๐Ÿ˜‚
There are limits to our climate , land and finances!!! ( dairy camels are like $8,000! So...Not happening!) 
I've really considered Zebu cows but with my cow milk allergies I'm not sure they would be the way to go even though they  are said to have A2A2 milk as opposed to A1A1 that most domestic dairy cattle have.  
I'm good with donkeys!๐Ÿ˜€ plus it just tastes better than any other milk I've drank!
Also on the farm... My husband has been working for months on fencing another four acres. This started out as an area for his pigs but it's going to be way easier for him to manage the pigs on the front half of the farm... 
Which means that four acres .. With pasture, brambles, a few shade trees and a creek will be mine to use for the donkeys and geese!!!!
I walked over to the new area yesterday while my husband was setting fence post  since I hadn't seen it in a while. 
These two followed me up the road.. They want in the new area too!!! This four acres is directly attached to the main areas I use for the donkeys and geese.. So very convenient for me!
This is the bramble half up on a hill..
The pasture and creek are below ..
He's only got four more posts to set!!!!!
And then we've got to try to get some people together to get the wire stretched.
My donkeys and geese ( Muscovies too!) aren't going to know what to do with all this new space!
I couldn't be more excited! New foal, new donkey to milk soon and new pasture!
We just keep moving right along building up the farm... Projects one right after another!
Failure or success , as always I'm thankful!