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Sunday, September 18, 2016

Dealing with limitations and healing donkey milk

It's so hard to go back to the grocery store to buy what you once made yourself....especially with an animal product, 
The taste is better... You know it's fresh and the animal was treated well... You know it's chemical and antibiotic free.. 
Because seriously , believe the labels???
Never!! 
Luckily raising your own meat isn't to hard if you have the right facilities , land, commitment to learn about the animal and the right kind of animal to match your expectations.
Luckily raising our own eggs is easy and I adore poultry and waterfowl ....
Dairy animals.
Totally different story!

The quest for farmstead milk from an animal that can live here without drama!
And without sucking all my time away!
A dairy animal , especially a high production dairy animal, is more than a commitment .. It's more like total devotion! Take anything that can go wrong with a meat animal and double it..
High production = lots of milk = lots of time sucking problems.
It has been a very long , tiring journey my friends! 
And yes, I have limitations! I can not have 1 group of animals take time from my other much needed farm chores and goals. 

If you've read my blog you know I've had so many breeds of dairy goats and tried so many different ways to make them work ... I just can't deal with them, their extensive health issues and their neediness!
You know I've tried dairy sheep which I loved so much better!!! But the wool is a pain to deal with, even as a spinner it's a pain to raise fiber animals for me because of our cedar trees , brambles and the humidity that can felt the wool right on the animal! And shearing is such a tiresome job! A good shearer is almost impossible to find...on top of I just do not have sheep land for a high maintenance wool breed sheep. Most wool sheep breeds are just as delicate as goats when it comes to parasites... A big problem I do not want to deal with!
And yes I tried katathins! The premier miracle hair sheep breed.. And I couldn't stand them! That's been several years ago ...
I do hear they have come along way... But the first 2 I had scarred me! I know many many people who milk them and rave about the milk. But I couldn't get near mine ! They were crazy and feral! 
Hair sheep meat is lean and that breed honestly tasted more like goat without the flavor. It was good.. Just not what I expected from lamb. Which I understand is the way most hair sheep meat tastes.

Since I'm sensitive to milk products with casin and really shouldn't pig out on them.. (Which is what I did with my lovely gallon a day dairy sheep) I really shouldn't have a high production bred dairy sheep anyways..,
Seriously , It was all SO good!!!! Sheep cheese had to be one of the best things I've made! 

So now what?? 
Dairy goats , dairy sheep.., 
And yeah, if you've followed my blog you know I now milk donkeys!! 
My *dairy* donkeys work beautifully here on our land,, also fill the need for a poultry guardian and do not suck my time away ... But...,

I can't make much with donkey milk in the way of dairy products because it lacks casin.
 It takes a long, long year for a Jenny to have a foal.. Then another six weeks before you can milk... And then you can milk for around 6 to 7 months.. The amount you get can vary greatly from animal to animal because they haven't been bred for milking purposes.
We more or less treat it like a medicine really ... It's worth the wait and the trouble if you have health problems!
It obviously can't take the place of the farmstead dairy products I want to have but .., 
It's incredibly healing!!!
And has worked wonders with my digestive problems!! 
After drinking donkey milk for almost four months now I can eat goat and sheep milk products again without pain!!!
If we eat out somewhere off the farm and I get sick , just 1/2 cup of donkey milk and my nausia goes away!
It's amazing!!! And so refreshing to drink!

But ,,, so now I can have cheese again..
After pretty much avoiding it for a year except in very small amounts.
And I still shouldn't pig out on it!
I have missed it so much..
Store bought cheese just doesn't hold up though 😟

After talking, talking and more talking we decided maybe try a cow.. A rugged small zebu cow!! They are about the size of my smallest donkey, can handle tough pastures , provide A2/A2 milk and a much needed lean red meat source! 
They do well in southeast heat and don't have the parasite issues of goats and wool sheep... It would be perfect!!!!!!

But I am so not ready for a cow...
Zebu heifers are expensive... Just not quite ready for that commitment to a cow. Next year if we have another barn built and a handle on how many donkeys I'll be keeping regular then we'll be ready!

But for now... It's St.Croix hair sheep..,
Lean red meat, and yes some people do milk them! And I will try! It won't be like my well bred dairy sheep with their huge capacity and nice soft udders.. But like I said.. I shouldn't pig out on cheese anyways 🙄
They Handle rough pastures and heat.. They Don't even need a shelter!! 
Though mine will have one. 
Low maintenance sheep if I've ever heard of one... They are supposed to do well eating browse and weeds and I have a plan to keep them from destroying pastures in the fall with they start to up root the grasses. 
Now I typically do not believe 'breed hype' but I personally talked to several people that have been raising them for more than 3 years. And I like what I heard... So here we go...

Hair Sheep.... Round 2....


Where oh where will this subsistence farm take us next! 

It's a wild ride!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

A place for Quail

I've always thought of quail as something you raised for your hunting dogs or something people raised who didn't have a lot of land or restricted land that couldn't have chickens...
These are both reasons to raise quail...
But there are other reasons to raise this neat little bird...
They are easy to care for...,
And they are tasty.. For both Eggs and meat!
The eggs are nice , fluffy and light..I love them!
The meat is delicious! Not like anything else we raise. 
And they have to be the easiest things we've ever processed. 3 to 5 minutes per bird!! Total. 
 It takes me 12 to 15 to pluck a pekin duck on a good day , if we slaughter at the proper time before the big pin feathers come in....
and that doesn't include kill time or cleaning out the guts. Pekins and bantam chickens take 20 to 25 minutes per bird .. Not bad!
Muscovies and geese take Atleast 40 minutes per bird. Yeah, it's a lot more meat.. And when broken down its a lot of meals!
But sometimes it's nice to have something so fast to get in the freezer and not as dramatic to kill. Geese and Muscovies do not go down easy ☹️
Makes it harder and sadder to me ... 
But they can't all be breeders and to many males hurt the females. So it's part of life here. 
These little guys... Still makes me sad to kill anything but we are not vegetarian .. 
So these guys do make quick and easy meals. 
Let me start by saying though, they are not a low input animal!
Yes, I said they are easy... Especially if you just want them for eggs. They start laying at just around 8 weeks! Lay around 300 eggs a year.. Feed, water, gather eggs..simple.
The high input comes in with the feed.. 
They need fairly high protein food and eat quiet a lot , as most poultry does.
They can't really even be free ranged because they will fly away .. So all their food needs must come from you.
And they are high input if you want meat or replacement layers. They won't brood their eggs so you have to collect, incubate and brood Everytime you want new quail...,
So why quail for a farm that has no restrictions & plenty of land to raise lesser input livestock?
Besides being easy to care for day to day..
They are high output.. And from what I can see very Efficient!! Steady supply of gourmet meat and different tasting eggs from the other egg layers I raise..
Yes please!
Loads of eggs fit in the incubator.. So even if you just get a 50% hatch rate you should still have plenty of quail. Though I see most people getting 60 and up to 75% hatch rates. Incubating and Brooding birds isn't something everyone enjoys.. If you're one of those people quail wouldn't be a good fit obviously!
Always having to incubate and brood would become a huge drudgery if you hate it.
I happen to really like incubating and brooding baby birds though.. Especially in the winter when I don't have a lot going on here on the farm. 

So Fast eggs, fast meat... Outstanding taste.. Easy care...
All good reasons to give them a try!

Plus I'm able to make good use of all those rabbit hutches I've got!
We tried to raise meat rabbits for 4 years..I tried angoras for 1 year.. High input , high out put didn't work for us that time ... Hoping these will fit in much better! 
Time will tell ... More on them later 😃😃
Have a blessed weekend !