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 πŸ˜€πŸ˜€

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 πŸ˜’ 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 everydayπŸ€— 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 πŸ™‚
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!!!!!