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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Some girls want expensive handbags but I want a saddle donkey!

Another new chapter on the farm journey for me...
Saddle donkeys!
This is something I wanted to pursue from the first year of farming and I'm finally getting a chance to now!
Meet Liron , it means 'for me, he sings'
Due to his very loud bray it's a fitting name!
He is a beautiful 13 hh trained riding donkey. I'm excited to get him settled and get all his tack together. 
This is seriously a dream come true.
Hey... Some girls want diamonds and silly expensive purses.. I want a riding donkey! That's just me 😀
I am not a horse person but I am taking riding lessons on a horse to learn balance and riding safety since no lessons on donkeys are available here.
Maybe you are thinking why the heck would anyone want to ride a donkey when you can ride a horse. Nice broke horses are so much easier to find and honestly less expensive most of the time. 
Well, why not? As I've said, I'm not a horse person so it's a mule or a donkey!
Donkey it is! Why not stick to what I know!
I think this may be the most fun thing I've done since training my Dobermans in schutzhund! Possibly even more fun But we will see!
Now I can put all those logging trails up in our woods to use. Of course, I'm looking for my husband a saddle donkey too! Wouldn't be much fun riding all on my own all the time. His donkey will have to be bigger than Liron though!
What does this have to do with 'farming'? You may ask...
A lot! I love the farm and what we do. I'm happy to get up everyday and blessed to be surrounded by such a beautiful place.
I love that we are taking the farm in a new direction.
 However, farming is a lot of hard work and I've said it before... Sometimes the farm/home starts to seem like a job site. 
Burn out can, does and has occurred!
There's a need for recreation and enjoyment. I don't always like to go out to unwind so I'm hoping this activity will be a nice relaxing , fun change of pace from the work of everyday here on the farm. 
A new way to spend time with donkeys is always welcome! 
Fun on the farm.... Now that's the good life!

Finding this donkey was a blessing and we went through some obstacles to get him here from PA. He's a big present from my ever supportive husband who likes to make sure I'm a happy farm girl. 

Wonder if my husband wishes I'd just ask for a silly pricy purse though? Might be easier on him 😉 but that's no fun at all!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The story of quirky Fae ... Milking donkey in the making or not

This is Fae. She's a gorgeous dappled Jenny donkey! 
She's just one example of why I tell people , finding good milking donkeys isn't as easy as it sounds! 
Even the *friendly* ones can have issues! 
Donkeys are really amazing creatures and I love them dearly. Figuring them out can be tough sometimes. 
Getting a totally wild one or an abused one that acts very aggressively isn't in my best skill set! Nor do I have time for this. 
I don't mind untrained donkeys though.
I love working with donkeys and figuring out how to train nice friendly ones but I know my limitations. 

Fae has been here for a month and I've been milking her for 3 weeks. She is an excellent milker! She gives a great amount of milk and is a record holder here! At only 11 hh this is a great amount for a donkey of any size! 
Great udder and she's friendly ... Sort of!!

Now when I go to look at a donkey to buy that's supposed to be *friendly* I don't put to much faith into that donkey being friendly the way I think a friendly donkey should act. 
Friendly to some people just means they might take a treat from you, maybe a little scratch if you are on the other side of a fence and they won't kick at you maybe if you move real slow. 
This is not my idea of friendly ....
Especially for a milking donkey. 

Fae is what I call a kinda, sorta friendly donkey with a lot of odd quirks. For lack of a better description. 
Examples of her quirks; She's fine if you pet her and likes to be scratched, just not to much! 
She will let me put a halter on her but if I do it before milking time she's extra suspicious of me and won't let me milk as much. So if I want to work on lead training I have to do it after milking time.
Some days she lets me milk her out easily with no issue. Other days she acts like I've never milked her before and backs away or tries to kick.
I also have to milk her with my right hand only! If I try to milk her with both she backs away or tries to kick me off .. Yeah, quirky! 

I'm learning her quirks and trying to work through them.
But in all honestly I'm not sure she's got the temperament to be a milker.

I've had dairy goats that just didnt have a temperament for milking and they were bred to be milking animals! 
So it's really no shock to me that some donkeys wouldn't be up to the task. 

She's not aggressive and I do think I can lead train her. 
As a milker, we will have to wait and see! 
I'm certainly hoping we can get the quirks worked out .. Seriously look at the milk above! She's worth the effort. That's over $60 worth of milk! 
Meanwhile I'm a week away from milking Mina. Mina came from the same guy as Fae. I am working with Mina and looking for quirks! 
She's got them but will they get in the way of her being a milker is the question I'm concerned with! And training her jack colt so he doesn't freak out to bad when I start taking him away for a few hours so I can milk her.  Like Fae's Jenny foal he'd never been handled. He's younger so it's not been quite as hard to win him over thankfully! 

But As always, I'm blessed to have these animals in my life... Quirky or not!

Sunday, January 8, 2017

For something to get bigger other things must get smaller

From homestead to small subsistence farm and now to farm business.
Our wild ride in different homesteading/farming ventures has been a blast of successes and crushing times of utter defeats! 
Now this new year,  as I've stated in other posts, brings more changes and it feels so overwhelming but totally exciting.
For 2017 Gods Blessing Farm is now Gods Blessing Farm LLC. 

The milking donkey herd is getting bigger, the addition of riding donkeys and the donkey milk skin care business is a major undertaking.
For this to get bigger other things must get smaller. Management of time is critical. No other dairy animal projects, no additional poultry projects and my gardens will be smaller.
To be honest, Over the years I'm realizing that my gardening and poultry efforts are ...
Well.... A bit to large! 
Ok much to large!!! 2 people do not need to raise over 80 goslings a year with no intent to sell them!
And 2 people do not need the extensive amounts of food I grow in my garden and market gardening is just not anything that interests me. 
So these things get much smaller, some things get eliminated. The donkey herd and donkey milk skin care business gets bigger. The training of riding donkeys take a place here. 
Other dairy animals I wanted ,unfortunately there's no time for me to dedicate there. The donkey milk is superior in skin care and I can't digest other milks like donkey milk so focus has to be on what keeps me healthy and makes the best product. 

I'll raise about half of what I raised last year in the garden and the more difficult things to grow will not be planted. 
I love my gardens and growing but I admit I do not like growing everything. 

I will only incubate some quail next fall for replacements but all other hatching will be left to the birds themselves. Thankfully my Pigrim geese and Muscovy ducks are excellent mothers and need no help from me!

I feel good that we reached an amazing goal of growing over 90% of our own foods here. This year that will be a smaller number. I'm good with that and looking forward to local sourcing from other farmers what I've decided to no longer grow. 
I feel the need to move on to other farm goals and challenges. I feel like these challenges have been put in from of me for a reason and I need to pursue them. 
My husbands farm challenges and goals with the Meishans have also grown and changed somewhat. The Meishan offers opportunities that the American Guinea hogs could not offer. 
Having be given the opportunity to preserve these extremely rare, diverse genetics and get them into the hands of other farmers is a huge undertaking. 
When I saw my husbands breeding schedule for the 2017 Meishans it was terrifying at first look!! 
The Meishans are a big part of the farm business. They are such wonderful pigs that I don't even mind having half our farm be a *pig farm* ! 
They are mostly my husbands responsibility and as the Meishans get bigger other stuff he does must get smaller. It's all about balance and dedication to the opportunity given.  
There's much to be organized, much to be built and expanded and certainly much to be learned with these new farm ventures we believe the Lord has led us too. 
It's a new day.... 
God is Good 

Saturday, December 31, 2016

New website announcements!!

We have much going on for the coming 2017!
The Meishans and Donkeys are certainly taking over here!
We will always have geese , ducks and other poultry for our own use but we are becoming a donkey and hog farm on a much larger level than I could have ever imagined.

In the coming weeks I'll be working on a new webstore and website for our newest and best products yet!
Latte d'Asina Soap and Skin Care!!
Latte d'Asina means the milk of a donkey in Italian. I first found out about donkey milk from an Italian donkey dairy website so it's a fitting name!
Our first batches of donkey milk soap sold out quickly! And more is curing and being made as fast as we can! 
As a professional licensed Esthetician it thrills me to be able to work with such an amazing natural skin care ingredient!!   
As a farmer I'm blessed that I have the ability to produce this milk myself so I know first hand that the donkeys the milk is taken from are loved and fed the best natural foods. And my milking donkeys are chemical free! 
Also my other newest website www.mydonkeymilk.com has been launched! It will be a work in progress for awhile as I learn more all the time myself! It's focus is on caring , managing donkeys and managing them as dairy animals. I see mistreated and misunderstood donkeys all the time. It's my hopes that this site can help people understand the donkey before they buy one and certainly before they try to milk one! And information on why you would want donkey milk. 
I adore these creatures! They deserve good homes and top notch care just like any other animal. Few people realize they are very useful animals to have on a farm. 

As always thankful to God for the wonderful opportunities he has put in front of us! All the glory is His!  

Monday, December 26, 2016

Random pics from a growing donkey milk farm

Christmas was filled with blessings! It was a beautiful day and even though my*big* present won't be here for a couple of weeks I'm having fun with a really nice thoughtful present from my husband. A real camera! Sure I'll still snap cute shots on the phone but wow.. what a difference a real camera makes!! 
Little Ezra and his mom Mina
 Never had a camera this nice either. With the amount of blogging I do, the new website I'm building, our farm website, the farm store revamp and because I love to take pictures of my farm!  My husband thought it would be a great gift.
Gorgeous Phina
 Its got lots of confusing options and buttons but I'm loving it!!
Shani with Jayden in the background looking on
 Much better than the phone pictures!!
Diva and Jayden
 So as all these projects growing, the meishan herd, the donkey herd, our farm and I can't forget my grandson! I love talking pictures of him when he will be still! I think this will be a much used present!
Pretty dappled Fae waiting to be milked
Thanks Husband!! How do you like the pictures??  :-)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Thankful for 2016 and praying for a good 2017

It's been a lovely year. I might even say it's been the best year yet on the farm!
The discovery of donkey milk and how well donkeys fit in on our farm and with my personality has been a huge blessing!
Learning how they think and how to train them keeps me on my toes! They are never boring!
I'm getting a better handle on what and how much I need to grow to feed us all year in our four season gardens. 
Next year will be a very different gardening year than the last few years have been! And I'm looking forward to it!
It was actually 2015 when the meishans entered the picture. But in this year of 2016 is when we were able to add the 2 rarest lines of Meishan in America.. The USDA line and the Illinois line. By the grace of God we were able to acquire the last of these pigs from those 2 centers. 
Never before available to the public , if managed properly the genetic diversity this brings to the table is outstanding! 
The Meishan has a chance of being an amazing opportunity for small farmers looking to raise non distructive , quite , productive , gourmet meat and lard hogs.
Also, for those of us who tire of the slow growth rates of most heritage breeds the Meishan grows much faster!  
If there is a pleasant pig that exists it's this breed!
My Muscovies are still champion baby raisers! 
And we raised over 80 goslings this year.
I had some surprises along the way but over all the geese were wildly successful.
To cut back on the work load and the breeding pens needed. I'll only be raising Pilgrims next year. The Chinese will remain though for their superior egg laying ability. We love goose eggs!
Also this year the addition of the quail has been wonderful! And we added a few more bantam chickens for summer eggs. 
Our plans for dairy sheep were once again put out due to having to up the donkeys because of my health needs for donkey milk and allergy to sheep milk if I don't have donkey milk but we still plan to raise some meat lambs!
The Lord has lead us where he wants us to be. Our farm has developed into something I never dreamed it could. 
It's a praise to GOD in every way. The failures and disappointments have been learning tools to help prepare us. The joys and successes have been amazing and we are grateful!
We will certainly be praying for guidance as we enter the new year to come.
Thank you Jesus 🙂 could not have done any of this without your guidance.  

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Go big or go home!

More Donkeys on the farm... It's a go big or go home moment!
Due to my 3 days no donkey milk experiment that did not go well, we've decided to expand the herd.
This means I won't be able to follow my plans of having dairy sheep to milk or adding Emus. 
It's true that donkey milk has healed my stomach so I'm not nauseous or in pain after I eat. But it's not healed it to the point that I can be without it... Nothing helps like donkey milk. So the donkeys are taking over a huge portion of our farm. 
Donkeys need time. Lots of one on one time to get them to behave like I need them too. Managing them to milk takes even more time, And I've decided to pursue training the bigger ones to ride which also means lessons for me! I'd always planned to eventually do this but now it's taking a higher priority since we have expanded.
It also means our donkey milk soap and lotion business will be taking a front seat As we phase out of the other milks.
Donkey milk is best anyways :-) I mean, if it's good enough for a queen..
So in addition to my already lovely herd of 5 Jennies and 1 Jack.., I have these lovelies joining the farm for evaluation. 
Finding standard donkeys is not easy for me here. There are no breeders.. No where I can just go buy well trained standard donkeys bred for the conformation and temperament I want.
I have to search them out. I'm often lied to about them, And very often they are in bad condition and I spend as much getting them in good condition as I paid for them.. Sometimes more. 
They are all a risk but some more than others!
So meet Shani,, she's bred to foal in April 2017. She is 'green broke' to ride or so I was told. She's a gorgeous sorrel red color!
And she's completely won my heart with her 'hugs'! I'm not kidding ! She hugs me.
Leans into me and wraps her head back to pull me closer. She's absolutely wonderful! And has good manners.
She's a treasure to have.
This is Phina.. Black no light points donkeys have to be my favorites for color. This girl is warming up to me. I really know nothing about her and she was a huge risk to buy. But she's heavy bred and friendly. As she settles in better I'll start working with her in the round pen to see if she knows what a halter is!
Same with this girl.. Huge risk but she's built so beautifully and friendly I had to give her a chance. I call her Jayden 
Now this lady is standoffish.. And at first was quick to act like she would kick me if I got to close. I'm giving her some time to de-stress then I'll try to see if I can get her to come around. Unfriendly donkeys don't usually end up with a good life so I hope she does. We call her Kezia 
She is also bred. I have no other information about her either. 
This girl is a rare beautiful color! A dappled donkey! Never imagined finding one of these! She's got a 6 week foal on her side. The farmer I got her from had no info on her either. She seems kind sorta friendly but is on guard for her baby. I hope she gets comfortable soon because I really need to start milking her!
She is called Fae and her Jenny foal is Fara. Fara has never been handled and is a buck wild kicking machine! I have a lot of work to do!
This is Mina... She's a pretty girl. She came from the same farm as Fae and has a 6 day old jack colt by her side I will call Ezra. She is very protective at this point !! 
Just look at his little face... I'm sure hoping she calms down soon so I can get my hands on that cutie!!

So as you can see, There's no room or time for dairy sheep or emus!!! 
I was a little sad about that at first.. But I can't be sad for long looking at all these gorgeous donkeys and thinking about all that wonderful donkey milk we will hopefully be blessed with! 
I do pray for wisdom , patience and strenth though! As I clearly have my work cut out here...
And I still need a second jack! 

Be blessed and have a great weekend :-)