Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Helpful Husband Extraordinaire!

I love my husband...he's my best friend and indulges my many insanities..Though at times my eccentric ideas and hobbies give him the urge to strangle me..LOL

Seriously though, even when I drive him nuts, he does his best to make sure I'm happy...hence my pen full of dairy goats that I just adore.

Having Dairy Goats makes me, the erratic, unscheduled person scheduled. By necessity, I MUST be on a schedule….If not, the does suffer from being painfully overfull and it’s not healthy for them. They can go no longer than 12 hours in between milkings so I typically milk at 7:30 am & 7:00 pm.

I have a routine which is:

* Place jar in freezer to chill…I will add the fresh, filtered milk to this for further chilling.
* Pack up my “Milking Caddy” that has my spray bottle of iodine based udder wash which is sprayed on until dripping before milking. Fresh towels used to wipe clean and remove all wash. Strip cup in which I milk the first squirts from each side to check for abnormalities. My sterile glass jars/lids, hand sanitizing wipes for me and a Chlorihexidine teat dip used to spray the teats after milking to seal out bacteria.
* Fill up a 2 gallon bucket with Standlee Alfalfa pellets and another bucket of milk stand grain which is mostly whole oats, black oil sunflower seed and a small amount of Dairy Parlor lactation pellet.

Sometimes I manage to find matching shoes to wear to the barn….sometimes not..I’ve found goats don’t care about what you wear and mis-matched shoes are perfectly acceptable milking attire…Though I must caution…If mis-matched shoes are the only thing you can find, do wear SIMILAR shoes! Trying to waddle out, on uneven ground with an arm full, wearing one boot and one plat formed typed flip-flop is a recipe for disaster….My one and only time to do this I managed to step wrong, and me, my full milk caddy and the grain came a crashing down in an awful boom complete with broken glass, and a shower of feed….

I squeeze in the gate, wade through the crowd of goats who truly believe they are starving, dump the alfalfa in the trough for the non-milking gals and while I’m doing this, Sabrina & Tootsie have already run through the gate into the milking area and are waiting on their stands for me.. On bad days, the non-milkers complicate things and try to come in the milk area, which leaves me juggling a heavy caddy, grain bucket and several goats..

To say having help is nice is an understatement! Sometimes when mom is here, she’s helps out. Most times it’s just me.

I must start by saying my hubby has no care, want or concern for the goats, they are strictly my indulgence that he humors me on. He went above and beyond on building their pen for me and often carries out hay or lugs feed bags in for me, but otherwise, he doesn’t interact with them much.

Saturday I was in a scramble, between getting the kiddos set up, bottle feeding the buck kids and gathering my stuff I was running behind and we still had plans to go into town that evening..

As I get half way to the pen, I hear Jerimiah behind me, I assume he’s going to keep me company.

But NO…he wants to help!

I pick his victim…Sabrina. She’s the easiest to milk and the most tolerant. She works for food, so keep her feeder full & she’s happy. Tootsie has tiny teats, is harder to milk and food or no food, you mess up her routine and she’s not going to cooperate.

I do all the pre-milking prep work, give him a jar, a quick lesson and turn him loose while I work on Tootsie…

He looks, gets into a comfortable position and takes his first swing at goat milking…Nothing. Tries again….not much, but better.

For those of you who don’t know how to milk a goat click here for a "How-To" picture guide to goat milking.

Poor Jeremiah & his big hands are having a heck of a time with it…he’s got milk on his hands, the outside of the jar, the stand and I’m literally pressing my face into Tootsie’s side trying to stifle my laughter.

Sabrina, not pleased with this whole ordeal, lulls him into a false sense of security long enough to put her entire foot and part of her leg directly in the milk jar…so that milk of course has to be strained, pasteurized and fed to the buck kids…I surely am not drinking it!

It was such a super nice thing for him to genuinely want to help me out, and I LOVE that about him and I didn’t want to discourage I told him not to worry about the foot in the bucket, I needed that milk for the buck kids anyways..

Then he figures out how to make it work…sorta.

I got my mom to be a hand model for these pics to demonstrate HOW he was doing this..keep in mind hubby‘s hands are more than double the size of hers so you can understand his difficulty… Sealing off the teat with one hand, using the other to pinch out a lil milk. I’m sure only my goat friends are laughing at this and perhaps it takes a goat person to see the humor, but when I peaked out from behind Tootsie and saw this awkward lil process it was almost too much….but I managed to keep control of myself..

That is until Shayla, marched up, did a very thoughtful inspection and said loudly:

“Daddy! What ARE you doing? Your doing it all wrong, let ME show you how to do it!! “

All composure I had thus far had vanished into thin air and I couldn’t help laughing out loud…. I know it’s one of those things that you had to be there, but her tone was one that she would use to scold outrageous behavior like grocery shopping in your…

Thankfully Jerimiah is a good sport & he was able to see the humor of it all and laughed it off with the rest of us….

But, everything went south from there….

A milk war to be exact.

The kids, being the mischievous lil boogers they are, took the opportunity to show Daddy how it was done by spraying him with milk, and of course he just HAD to retaliate…and somehow in all this chaos they ended up spraying me all the way on my side of the milking area.

Forget Nerf, nothing beats the live ammo and firing power of a live milk doe! Jerimiah managed to drench Clayton's ENTIRE face from hairline to chin in milk!!!!

I love my husband, and I know he’ll conjure up some awful form of revenge on me for this blog post, but I just had to share. Seriously, how many guys would come out and milk a goat for the first time in their entire life just to do something nice for their wife? There was even a show on TV he wanted to watch and instead he chose to offer his assistance! I do have a keeper and it’s things like this that make the Tazer Incident forgivable!

Oh and you wanna know Sabrina's thoughts on this whole ordeal?? I think a picture is worth a 1000 words!


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Dramatic Dairy Delima

Clayton & Tootsie
The whole idea that food is grown, produced and worked for is something many kids are clueless about.

To many kids, food comes in packages that are stocked on shelves in stores. They never think that an animal actually DIED for their cheeseburger….that the milk they drink doesn’t just magically appear in coolers, their veggies, like baby carrots don’t come from the ground like that, but rather are quite dirty and go through several stages to become the final, pre-packaged product. Not knowing these things, I can fully understand why lots of kids have wasteful habits as they have no respect or worry over their food.

We did a garden last year that was semi successful until the swarm of mutant grasshoppers creeped in one night and literally stripped it bare in a matter of days….. It was a great lesson for the kids and they had a blast choosing their seeds and watching them grow. This year, no garden due to grasshoppers, but hopefully our new chicks will help with pest control so we can try again next year..

Anywho, when we brought home the goats I explained to the kids that we would have fresh milk from them after the babies were born.

My son, Clayton, was horrified beyond belief!

“But Mommy, I like the milk you BUY..I don’t want goat’s milk, that’s nasty”

“Wait…momma, where does the milk come from?!”

So I explain the udder, milking process ect. ect. I take it a step further by showing him various dairy goat pictures in a FFA book hoping this tactic would simplify things for him by providing a visual..

Instead his horror just grew!

“Momma!!!! That’s disgusting! I will NOT drink milk that comes out of one of THOSE (pointing to the full udder in the picture)!!” My normally quiet, 8 year old boy is nearly shrieking at me in protest!

I try to explain that cow’s milk also comes from an udder, only one that has four teats instead of two, but he won’t be persuaded. He is firm on his view point and nothing I say will change it.

Growing weary with this pointless drama I decide stern & firm is the route to go...

“You WILL try it, at least just once. If you truly do not like it, I will not make you drink it, but I will not have you protesting something you’ve never even tried.”

At this point, Clayton is so worked up he’s almost in tears… Frustrated, I ask him why he’s making such a huge fuss over something that hasn’t even happened yet..

He responds in a stuttering, tearful voice:

“But, but Momma…..I don’t want to. I just ca ca can’t! I can not drink out of the goat’s udder, I only want my milk in a glass!!” At which point he breaks down sobbing!

No, I should not have laughed, but the shock of it all was just too much…

Poor kid thought I was expecting him to go out, latch on to an udder and NURSE!! LOL

No dang wonder he was so worked up and upset, I surely would be too if I thought THAT whole awkward ordeal was looming in my future!

Gave the poor boy a hug, got my laughter under control and explained in great detail the entire process.

“Oh!! I can have it from a glass just like real milk??”

Shortly after this whole drama fest I held true to my word…Had 2 glasses of fresh, filtered cold goat’s milk and had the kid’s come inside to try it. Told them I wanted them to take at least two sips, and if they truly did not like it, they would not have to drink it ever again. I know some parents force foods on children…my mom did with me and brussle sprouts and liver and to this day I gag at the thought of them..If they will just TRY new items, I’m satisfied..Most times they like what they try, but in cases where they truly do not like it, I will not make them eat it….

Anywho…. I sit the kids down at the table, hand them the glasses and tell them to try it.

Clayton: “It looks like milk…”

Shayla: “It’s does not smell funny…you take a drink first Clayton..”

Clayton: “Oh no Shayla…I think we should count to 3, take a quick sip at the same time!”

Shayla: “Okay….if your sure…”

Clayton: “Don’t cheat Shayla and only make me drink it!



Both look up slowly and I’m watching this whole silly tense fiasco waiting for their response…


Shayla: “Maybe we didn’t do it right…let’s try one more time, but take a drink, no sipping”

The process repeats and then I get a declaration, in unison….

“Momma!!! It taste just like REAL MILK!”

At which point you’d think I’d be happy, but the whole thing was just soo anti-climatic for them and you could see it all over their face. The gross, outrageous, horrifying finale they had geared up for just didn’t exist..

Shayla sampled hers again and declared she thought it might have sugar in it (it is sweeter and creamier than store bought milk)

The kids, being the thorough, investigating scientist that they are, made the very serious announcement that they really thought it had to be tried with chocolate before they could say it was good and once that was gulped down (they both finished 2 glasses) the whole thing was old news.

What can I say…they may be silly, they may be dramatic, but their mine and I wouldn’t trade them for anything!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Could The Future of Palentology Come From Noodle??

As some of you know, Tator LOVES sharks and ocean life. This obsession of his started when he was about 18 months old when we watched "Finding Nemo". After that, anything that could swim fascinated him. For a while I was worried the obsession wouldn’t fade in the slightest and his brain would be on a one track route forever. Well, it turns out he is JUST LIKE ME… Obsessive.....some may say I'm Obsessive Complusive, but for Clayton, lets take the less severe route and say he's just a tad on the obsessive side. :-)

Clayton is 8 now, and thanks to Dinosaur Planet, something else has finally caught his fancy:


His love of sharks hasn’t faded, but I’m happy he’s branching out a little bit…even if he is becoming just a lil obsessive on this Dinosaur bit.

With his Shark craze, we bought him books, DVD’s and took him to the Aquarium… And now we’re doing that with the Dinosaur craze… Bless his heart, poor kid has dug all over our property with his digging tools and brushes looking for fossils without much luck. He found old gourd shells and swears they are ancient dinosaur egg shells, but he did manage to find one fossilized sea shell of some sort.

So, for Christmas I hunted the internet and found a place to buy fossils from. He loves the raptors and other predators so I ordered him two claws…One is from a Utah Raptor and one is a Valociraptor claw replica…

Here’s a few pictures of him and Shayla with his shark tooth collection and his Raptor Claws:


Tator's collection of shark teeth, fossilized teeth & raptor claws:

Clayton showing off his fossilized Megaladon teeth:

Hoping to take the munchkins up to Stephenville soon to visit Dinosaur Valley State Park….They LOVED the Dinosaur Museum in Thermopolis Wyoming last spring, so I’m pretty confident they’ll have a blast at Dinosaur Valley .

Shayla enjoys the Dino books and shows, and her big brother is sweet enough to include her in his “fossil hunts”, but unlike Clayton, she is a bit more diverse in her interest and less likely to become obsessed. So, in that respect, Tator takes after me 100%, while Shayla tends to be more like Jerimiah in her varying interest.

Love them both to pieces and I’m so happy they are such great friends

The Goats That Invaded Noodle..

Finally getting around to posting all about the goats. These lil boogers are kind of addicting…I know your thinking “Goats? Addicting?” But seriously they are. They are very dog like, quite humorous and very affectionate. Also, contrary to what many think, they are highly intelligent….to the point of being mischievous. So, you get these furry, fun little critters, but they don’t chew up your shoes or track mud in your house.

Oh and in my case there is that other great bonus…. I have dairy goats. So I get fabulous, super rich and creamy, fresh milk every day. After drinking just fresh goat’s milk for a week and then trying whole, store bought cow’s milk, my kid’s thought the whole cow’s milk was watered down because it simply can’t compare to the goodness of fresh goat’s milk.

Before any of y’all get on an “Ick Kick” let me dispel a few myths for you. Goat’s milk is not nasty. I’m still trying to figure out how on earth it got a less savory rep, but goat’s milk from healthy, well fed goats is FANTASTIC. The key to great goat’s milk is proper care and nutrition and extremely sanitary milking procedures and equipment. Milk can only be milked into and stored in glass or seamless stainless steel. These items must be sterilized. I bleach mine and also sterilize with boiling water. Hands must be clean and the goat must be cleaned before milking. Once milk is brought inside, it’s filtered and chilled rapidly in either an ice bath or the freezer. The end product taste EXACTLY like milk, just creamier and smoother. Goat’s milk looks exactly like cow’s milk, with the one exception that goat’s milk is whiter.

Fresh, raw goat’s milk is one of the most complete foods. It contains vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, trace elements, enzymes, protein and essential fatty acids that are easily utilized by your body. Goat’s milk is digested in 20-30 minutes where as it can take 3+ HOURS to digest cow’s milk

The milk you buy in the store has been pasteurized, homogenized , skimmed and then is “refortified”. This overly processed milk is not only less nutritious for you, it’s also a big contributor to allergies and digestive upsets.

My goat’s milk isn’t pasteurized so it has all that good stuff nature made…nothing leached out of it & then replaced with synthetic vitamins. Plus, it’s fabulous for those who suffer from lactose intolerance & has much more calcium per serving than a glass of the store bought stuff.

Shayla, my 5 year old has severe eczema and respiratory issues. She’s been hospitalized twice in the past year due to pneumonia, is on Singulair daily and also takes breathing treatments. I’ve already noticed a HUGE improvement in her…

ANYWHO, back to the goats.

We started with the Miniature Dairy Goats, Miniature Alpines to be exact. The miniature breeds are created by crossing the tiny Nigerian Dwarf with a standard sized dairy goat. The end result is a goat that is not as tiny as the Nigerian Dwarf, not as big as your standard breeds, eats less food, takes up less space, is easier to work with and has the bonus of fabulous milk production. Nigerian Dwarfs produce the highest butterfat content in their milk of any breed, and they lend this richness to the milk of your miniature dairy breeds. This milk is VERY rich, creamy, and makes fabulous cheese, butter ect. ect.


Meet Tootsie…she is my 3rd generation Miniature Alpine. In the beginning she was a bit timid and shy, but it didn’t take long to get her to warm up to us. Peanuts are amazing for bribing a goat. She is a love bug, but, unlike her sister Keys (who belongs to my mom & is a year younger) she isn’t always on top of your or under your feet. She kidded with twin bucks in December, we let her raise them until weaning and now that they are gone she’s one of my milking girls. She hates for you to be late, loves her routine and is always waiting for me on the milk stand come milking time. Tootsie has the richest, best milk ever….can’t wait to make butter, Greek yogurt and cheese from it. This tiny lil goat is currently averaging about 6 1/2lbs of milk per day. One gallon of milk is about 8lbs, so she’s milking just over ½ gallon per day. Not too shabby for a little goat!

Tootsie as a baby:

Tootsie and Shayla:

Ya know how I mentioned that goat’s are addicting? Well…they are. I had Standard Alpines as a child and thought I’d add just one to my little herd as they really are my favorite breed. Since my mom will take Keys with her when she moves out, I reasoned that Tootsie would need a companion as goats are herd animals and simply can not be alone. So I brought home Sabrina…….

Miss Sabrina

Sabrina is kind of my fixer upper goat. She was severely copper deficient, wormy and pregnant. I’ll post more about her later once I can post some before/after comparison pictures. Sabrina is a two tone chamoisee and she is polled, which means she is naturally hornless and has the potential to produce hornless offspring. Sabrina is the Herd Queen here and she tolerates no nonsense from anyone. She’s a “foodie” and there really isn’t much that she doesn’t like. Her favorite treats are orange slices, any kind of candy and if you ever snuck her a sip of Mountain Dew, she’d be your best friend for life. Sabrina kidded with triplets on March 11, 2011. Sadly the buckling of the trio was stillborn, but the twin does thrived. We named them Lilly & Mina from Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”. Mina was sold as a bottle baby, and we kept Lilly to be a future milker. They are ½ Alpine, ½ Oberhasli. Sabrina has come a long way…she went from this scruffy mess of a goat and after some great nutrition, proper deworming, good loose minerals, two rounds of copper blousing and a haircut I’m really starting to see a huge difference in her. She is currently milking 8 ½ lb - 9 lb of milk per day (little bit over 1 gallon) AND she is nursing Lilly full time as well, so I’m eager to see what her total production is once she’s no longer nursing.

Sabrina and her newborn twins:

The twins sleeping in my lap:

Sabrina wearing a sweater on an unexpected chilly morning after her haircut:

Lilly and Mina:

Shayla and Lilly:

Well……after I bought Sabrina I started thinking about future breeding plans. Originally I was not going to have a buck, I was going to pay for outside stud service. But…living in Noodle has it’s disadvantages…such as being pretty far from anyone I could get stud service from. Then I found Sam….Oh my goodness he was so precious and EXACTLY what I wanted. But he was over 6 hours away one way. Thankfully his breeder is AWESOME and her sister met me half way with him to save me some milege.


Sambo is a bottle baby and actually lived in the house in a diaper his 1st few days home until we had a kid pen and a companion for him. He is a rotten love bug and I just adore him. His registered name is SerbinZiegen’s That Sam I Am, from the Dr Suess book “Green Eggs & Ham” His breeder Carol was so awesome to work with, set up the whole meetup, sent him home with a gallon of milk and a bottle to make things easier and sent me all her herd’s CAE test results without me having to ask for them. Great people and I couldn’t be more thrilled with Sam. He is growing like a weed! At 9 weeks old he was past the 50lb mark and has kept up the steady growth. Sambo is my baby…he loves to snuggle in my lap, steals my flip flops and runs around with them and loves to wrap his head around my neck and just stand there. He is so rotten and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Sam snuggled up in a comforter:

Shayla and Sam:

Sam pulling the drawstring on my sweatpants:

So, I have “Tootise“, the miniature Alpine, “Sabrina“, the standard Alpine, “Sam” the standard Alpine Buck & “Lilly“, the Alpine x Oberhasli…

You know I couldn’t stop there…so I added one more standard Alpine to the mix.


Introducing Bleuberry…..I did not buy her from her breeder, but have since spoke with them & they are great people. Bleuberry was born early and had to be raised in the house on the bottle for a while so that explains her super sweet, people oriented disposition. She will lead without a collar, is very laid back and easy to handle. I met her several months ago and LOVED her. When I went to pick her up though she needed some TLC. Groceries being the biggest thing needed as she was too thin for my taste, she is copper deficient, and she has an eye injury we are currently trying to get fixed up. Due to this I don’t have current pictures to share of her, but once I get her in tip top shape I’ll come back and add pictures of her. She is super leggy (though these pictures don’t show it) is very graceful and I can not wait to have her in milk.


So what started as me having ONE goat, now has me owning my own little herd. I received my CAE test results from Biotracking and I am happy to report that everyone is NEGATIVE!! To those wanting to get into goats, they are fabulous critters but please do be sure to start out with health tested, disease free stock to save yourself some heart ache down the road.

Just for fun, here's a couple of pictures of Shayla being mobbed in the goat pen. They are spoiled rotten lil' snots who also happen to have a love of sweets. Shayla came home from school with a bag of candy and the moment the girls heard the sound of plastic she was surrounded in begging goats. lol



Sunday, April 3, 2011

Chicks of Noodleville

As part of my goal to live a more self sustaining life style, we decided to add chickens to our little patch of Noodle.

My plan was to add them NEXT YEAR, but what can I say… children pressured me into it early! We went into the feed store planning on 5 chicks. I really liked the Jersey Black Giants, but Shayla liked the red chicks….and Clayton SWEARS blue & green eggs taste the best, so we HAD to have rainbow layers…

We left the store with 4 Jersey Black Giants, 4 Americanas (rainbow egg layers), 4 High Production Reds and then just for kicks, we threw in 3 Marans, which are known for laying a very dark chocolate colored egg.

Our Chicks:



I sold off all the rabbit stock, with the exception of one “Yard Bunny”. Rabbits were hard for Shayla to handle and even my sweetest bunnies left me with scars so now we’re down to one, who literally lives in the yard like a dog…He begs for food and is an exceptionally sweet lil’ fella. This left me with several empty, sturdy rabbit cages which are now chick pens.

Shayla holding one of the Maran chicks:


All of our chicks are still mostly fuzzy so I’m hoping that by the time they feather out we will have a coop and run built for them. Our eventual goal is to have them free range during the day for pest control, but until we have the property completely fenced they will live in the coop/run we build and even after we finish fencing, we will lock them up at night to protect them from the coyotes and bobcats.

Here's one of the High Production Reds:


Clayton & Shayla LOVE the lil fuzzy chicks. Both have been very good about checking on them several times a day, refilling their food and water and keeping an eye on their heat lamp.

Claytor-Tator holding one of the Jersey Giants:


Once our lil fuzzies mature I will have the benefit of pesticide free bug control, PLUS super good for you Fresh, Free Range Eggs! I’ve always preferred fresh eggs to the store bought variety, and thought I’d share some nifty facts about fresh, free range eggs vs. commercially produced eggs.

Egg shells are porous and fresh eggs have what is called a “cuticle” or “bloom” which is a natural barrier on the outside of the egg that keeps them fresh for a remarkable time period. When gathering fresh eggs, gently wipe off any debris and store in the fridge. Wash gently with warm water before cracking….by gentle handling and not removing the “bloom” the eggs stay fresh for a really long time.

Everyone knows commercially farmed eggs aren’t that great….poor chickens are housed in tiny, awful conditions and fed nothing but a commercially prepared food. Many commercial raised chickens have their beaks clipped off to prevent them from pecking their pen mates into a bloody mess…but if they had more than these itty bitty cages to spend their entire life in, they wouldn’t peck each other to death…Factory Farming isn’t something I care to support, I don’t approve of their practices and hope to move away from buying factory farmed products until eventually I am able to produce all of my family’s food…

Anywho…..commercial eggs don’t have the “bloom” or “cuticle” that nature so brilliantly provided. Factory farmed eggs are usually run down a conveyor belt from the hens, washed in 110-120 degree water mixed with detergent, chlorine and sometimes ammonia and then to make up for the bloom that has been whisked away by harsh chemicals, they are coated in a clear odorless oil.

Chlorine, Ammonia and Oil….sounds appetizing huh? *Gag*

Here’s another thing to think about….Crack open a store bought egg…what do you see? Most likely it’s an almost clear white and a yellow yolk. When an egg is fresh, it contains carbon dioxide that makes the white look cloudy. The older the egg gets, the more gases escape from the porous shell and the more transparent the white becomes (gets more watery looking as it ages). I dunno about y’all, but almost every store bought egg I’ve cracked open has an almost transparent white…which makes me think…How old is this egg that’s been dipped in chlorine, ammonia and then oil coated?!?!? I’ve cracked 2 week old farm raised eggs and still had some cloudy white color present in the whites, not to mention that very dark, rich colored yolk…

So, you may snub your nose at this and still buy store bought, commercially farmed eggs…That’s peachy with me, but also consider this.

According to the USDA Sustainable Agriculture & Research Education Program, Pasture raised eggs have 10% less fat, 34% less cholesterol, 40% more vitamin A and 400% more omega-3 fatty acids. Pasture raised eggs also contain 30% more vitamin E. Dunno about you…but I don’t think those numbers are anything to sneeze at!

Eggs from pasture raised hens produce positive HDL or “good cholesterol” and lower the bad triglycerides!

Eggs are also one of the few foods that contain vitamin D naturally.

Gotta love the incredible, edible, farm fresh, free range egg!

We bought all Pullets…which are sexed birds so I only brought home females. And if all goes well, hopefully next year we won’t have to buy eggs from the store anymore, AND we’ll have an excellent lil’ crew of bug eaters keeping those pesky grasshoppers, fleas and ticks at bay!