Saturday, January 29, 2011

Keeping Cozy in the Cold

An new room is now finished in the barn just for babies! Rob's brother does wonderful work and I gave him and idea of what I was looking for to keep our baby goats and lambs warm for the harsh winter and early spring weather and safe. He then made an amazing little room. It's fully inclosed with a wonderful hand made door, exterior window for the natural light and interior window so that the sights and sounds of the barn will be heard. The windows and ceiling are safely lined with heavy plastic to keep the heat from the lamp in. It's amazing to walk in there on these cold days and feel the heat! They are so very cozy warm in their new space!
They are enjoying the nice cozy space!

The room also has custom made grain and hay feeders.

More work is being done with changing the large pens. Marc split the pens on one side of the barn in half and the yearlings are enjoying the new space as well as the Alpines who now have much more room to run and play. The hay drops are getting lowered for the sheep which will cut down majorly on waste and mess.

The Ram pen (once a Billy Goat pen) is getting reworked as well. Right now it's a very closed up space and the hay drop is too high for the sheep. It will be opened up more for light, and made a little bigger for all the Rams to fit much more comfortably. I can't wait to see how it will be when it's done. The return date for Billy the Finn Ram is in late Feb so the pen will be finished by then.

The barn is really coming together for us and all of our farm family! If you get the chance to come and see it please stop in!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Lets talk about honestly......

Today I'm posting sad news as have to tell you all that Puzzle, when purchased her was very ill unbeknownst to us. As many of you know we happily brought home our first ever dairy goat and were thrilled to have stared out herd.

We knew upon arrival at the "farm" that if we chose to take Puzzle that she would be a type of rescue project for us. We are a little known for that and I have to admit Puzzle has taught us a major lesson, one that was very important to for me to learn, "you can't save everything". She was underfeed, majorly, her coat was a mess and she had sad eyes. We thought we were doing the right thing as we loaded her up and headed home.

As we got Puzzle settled in her new home inside out of the cold, cozy with more hay then she knew what to do with and a fresh bed of straw, water at any time that she would want it and grain, which was a big difference from the cracked corn that she was eating when we met her.....She was shy but friendly.

With in a couple of days we knew that she wasn't "right" . She had come from a small herd and was currently on her own until we knew that she wasn't sick. We did let our two new Alpines visit with her in hopes of perking her up but they were not allowed to stay with her for any extended time and honestly she paid them no mind. I had a friend of mine who is a farmer come to look at her....she noticed that she was doing loads of teeth grinding and that she seemed to not care to have her hind legs touched. I called the vet right away!

We are very lucky here to have a large animals vet that works as a team and they are very good with goats and sheep as well. This is wonderful for us and I know many people find themselves with a large animal vet that deals mainly with cows and horses. After looking her over closely and checking on the babies she informed me that her fever was 105* and her worm load was crazy high. She feared then that it was Meningeal worm. This worm is a rotten little thing......It comes from white tail deer who happily pass it along in their droppings for all the snails and slugs to then eat and if goats or sheep and other animals as well happen to consume them while out in the field the problems begin. There hardly ever is a happy ending. It takes many meds and if the animal lives there is often some permanent damage to the brain and spine.

I got the run down on the signs, the meds and the road ahead of us. I worked around the clock. I made more trips then I have ever made threw out the nights to the barn......Suddenly we found her in labor......She wasn't due until late March/early April. I was thankful that I had been studying and quizzing myself on delivering the lamb for the past month. I was as ready as I was going to be and just hoped that their bodies were enough like sheep that I was doing what I needed to. A quick call to the vet was made and she informed me that I would probably have to do all the delivering since she was far to weak.

I pulled on my glove and got set up. She didn't complain, and didn't' baby was out and what I would have thought of as about the right size for the age. Another was on it's way....I helped out a little with that one and is was just so tiny.....stroking her head as she chewed away at hay, very unfazed. I was crying. Telling her how sorry I was as these tiny pink lifeless babies arrived. There was a little bit of a break before number three. Suddenly a gush and out it started....and then, stuck. This one was the bigger of at three and the heart break worsened as I then had to step in, and it was clearly kicking. Thankful my wonderful husband was by my since reminding me that not all things can be saved.

Puzzle never stood again after this.....she was eating find, no longer had a fever, drinking but her hind quarters seemed to no longer function. I called the vet again and did as she advised more strong meds, reposition her a couple of times a day and do some nerve testing. She felt that the worms may have done to much damage but wanted to try one more round of meds. Still nothing. I did a little research on my own and talked to a couple people about sling building. Rob fashioned a great one to her but alas nothing changed and again I called the vet.

This was her last visit to Puzzle. She later informed me that she (not the first vet that came to the house as there is a team of them) knew of the location that she came from and that she was very disappointed that she had been sold and without proper information. She stated that she had a history of treating her. This sadden me and yet, I knew that we had given her a wonderful home for the short time that we had her here at Bakers Acres.

I have learned so very much from this. First off again, I can NOT save everything. I've learned many more questions to ask about current and past health and how they were raised, what foods they eat, where they graze and how to take a good look at their coloring, external body temp, coat texture, smell, feet and teeth. I've become a master of taking an animals temp and giving shots. I also had a heartbreaking lesson in loss, of our animal and of her kids. We however have not given up and although the lessons that I've learned were hard and not ideal to say the least they have made me a better herd/flock owner and hobby farm operator and I'm grateful for that.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Time to Lesson the Blow

Tyce a 4 week old buckling

Not that long ago my husband found a blog that he thought I would really enjoy following, I would like to share this with you because any of you following us here at Bakers Acres I'm sure would enjoy it! So please take a minute and check out - This blog follows a family run goat dairy. And I would encourage you all to read the entry on Jan. 12. I have read if several times over and have had my boys all read it as well.

The farm is located in Mexico NY where currently is very much snow country. I really wanted to make it to their farm to see just how they have it set up, run it, and of course see all the goats that they had for sale. We really had wanted to get there a week or more ago but with the weather and Puzzle not mention our own colds getting there seemed to be a problem. Friday the realization that the sling wasn't changing the condition of her we decided to make plans for Saturday afternoon it was time to lesson the blow and show our boys and ourselves a farm that took pride in the way that they raise their animals and care of them. We headed out!

I need to back up for just a moment to tell you that my two older boys had pockets full of money ready for the trip. After seeing the babies that were for sale they saw two that they really thought would be wonderful to bring home. This was their own money and we felt that this would be a wonderful start for them.

All of us loaded into the truck and off we went. As we neared the farm Rob and I decided that if either of us had any doubt of the care of the animals we would walk away. After all that we had been going threw with Puzzle we weren't going to risk bringing home another sick animal. To my delight it was the kind of farm that you hope you are lucky enough to visit, learn from and bring home animals from!

Jinglebell meeting Baxter for the first time.

I cant' even begin to tell you what a wonderful trip this was. This family run farm was amazing. It ran like clock work. The animals were wonderfully healthy, clean and friendly! I was even lucky enough to be greeted by a roo landing on my head in the barn! Ha it was great! Now to get down to the real secret of this farm, the people. They really were what made this farm amazing. You couldn't have met a more genuine group of well rounded, kind, energetic, welcoming people. Each and everyone one of them from Parents to youngest daughter were a joy to meet. I hope that this will be a wonderful friendship that will carry on.

Jinglebell-Bryce just fell in love with the name!

We were lucky enough to get a tour of the barn, see milking in action, ask tons of question and get loads of information! I hope that we get the chance to go back in the near future and I do hope that they can make a trip this way in the future to see how these wonderful little goats are doing.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Another shade of red

Our Ruby is a different shade of red.

We are very happy to welcome Ruby of Hut on the Hill located in New Woodstock to our farm. She is actually the mom to my first sheep Kizzy and Grandmother to Oreo (Kizzy's baby). We now really have an extended family. We are so very please to have her! If you look closely at this photo that was taking during a past lambing by her previous owner she is wonderfully loving! She has a sweet face with eyes that look as if they are wearing eye liner and the most beautifully soft pink nose ever!

She is a purebred Finn Ewe that is expecting. We are so very thrilled to add to our sheep. Our Finn are extremely loving and social. They can be nervous with stranger but warm up to you quickly. All of our Finn love to be pet and talked to which is wonderful since our boys are in the pens loving them up non-stop!

Ruby has a wonderful history of throwing multiples and her top number is 5 lambs at once! WOW! I'm hoping for 3 because I personally feel that is more about the moms being able to care for them and not feel stretched to thin. This however isn't something that we can control. Finns are know for "litters" of babies at a time. I believe that world record is 9! Wow! Can you imagine!? I'm going to be very happy if everyone is healthy! Our first babies we will be expecting from the mid to end of March! Please be sure to check back with us from time to time for updates on the mama's as the excitement grows with our lambing season approaching!

When Ruby was dropped off Billy our Finn Ram that came to us from Pa and is an out cross (meaning that he is not related to any of my ewes and that was why we ended up in Pa to get a Ram as all Ram's that I could find in NY were related-this is a growing problem that I hope Billy can help with) was loaded up to make "social" call to Hut on the Hill! Mary has reported that he is "having a party" and seems to be very comfortable with the ladies that he is visiting there! I will be so very excited to see the outcome of his visit. He will be returning to us near the end of Feb. where he will be put into a newly designed pen with his buddies! I will soon post pictures of some of the changes we are in hopes of making in the barn.

There is much to be done as Spring approaches and that will lead to a busy lambing and kidding season for us here at the Farm. The excitement is running high as this will be the first year our babies will be born here!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Slow and steady.......

Even with the threat of sever cold weather around the corner and more snow in the forecast the trusses were raised today for the Sugar Shack! Rob his brother Marc and friend Matt got to work in the snow and the wind to get all eight trusses up. This was no easy feat as the trusses were dropped of at the edge of our dead end dirt road in front of house. The truck was too massive and there was to much snow to really have to much more of an option. The guys then had the daunting task of lugging them from down in front of the house up and around to the location threw the snow. They of course managed just fine!

this photo shows Marc up and Matt on the ground

The trusses are all in place now and the fun will so begin. They have the window and door placement pretty much planned and the roof coloring I think has been chosen as dark green. Now to see if we can be the sap run? Spring is a busy beginning for us here at Bakers Acres this year. Not only will the sap be running but we will be having baby lamb and kids being born here on the farm for the first time! The excitement is almost too much. There is much to do to get ready for the season! We can't wait!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

The start of our little heard.....

I've always like the Green Mountains of Vermont and at one time thought I might just see our family end up there before we found our dream farm here at Bakers Acres. We made a trip to Leicester VT in the middle of a nice little snow storm. This was a two part trip and this part was the second. We arrived late at night and enjoyed the fun of a hotel for the night. This our boys thought was just a blast and the excitement of the trip was winding everyone up as tight as a top and finally they drifted off to sleep......

The next morning we approached a beautiful farm nestled into the country side. We were pleasantly greeted by Mr. and Mrs Moore and some of their 10 Children. All I can say is that it was such a breath of fresh air to see a large family that was such a wonderful working unit. They welcomed us into the the home and farm.

The Alpines that they keep and use are for a family run business Garland Goat Soap of Vermont. Please check them out at! We were very lucky to come home with two of their beautifully crafted bars. Not to mention the wonderful Raw Milk that they also sell at their farm. That of course didn't last long in our house as we here in the Baker Household go threw about 5 gallon a week. This was also a test for my boys. I felt that if they could handle drinking raw cows milk then I hoped they would be able to handle raw goats milk when the time came.

One of the Moores daughters was in charge of the goats and we were happy to meet her and hear all that she had to tell us about them. When going to a farm where animals are so well cared for to purchase animals I often wonder just how hard it is to watch them get loaded and carted away to a new farm......this is something that at some point we will have to deal with.....but I'm rushing to that yet.

Meet April she was the oldest of the triplets and looked very much like her Aunt.

This is May! She came second and looked much like her mother.

The third sister had been purchased by the families vet and her name was June!

They are 6 months old and as sweet as can be. They were bottle babies that had been taken from their mothers at birth. I know that this sounds harsh but from all that I have learned and from what the Moores daughter informed us that it was much less traumatic to take them right away then to take them after they had bonded for a week. That made since although I'm sure that I will have guilt over it even though we will put the milk to good use.
After a wonderful tour of the Moores homestead where we learned that the raised chickens, meat birds, processed their own birds, had beefers, a milker, a sugar shack and had the chance to meet the mother and Aunt of our girls the children enjoyed sledding! We enjoyed conversation. It was very nice, very nice indeed. Threw all of this the two kids were walking and playing with us. They have wonderful personalities and we really felt that they would be a perfect fit in our starting heard.
As we loaded our girls and thanked the Moores for their hospitality I felt a wonderful sense of making a right choice. The right choice to add goats to our farm. The right choice to have made this trip. All leading to the great opportunity to meet the Moores. I do hope that our paths cross again as some point......
April and May are settled in nicely and are very cozy in our barn. They welcome us every time we come into the barn and when we let them out they enjoy playing with us all. We hope to breed them this coming fall! We will keep you posted on them as they grow and enjoy the farm at Bakers Acres!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Farmer John and Jason

For the last two days I had been trying to set up a meeting time with Farmer John to see his wonderful goats. He has several listed for sale and I really wanted to try to arrange to get a couple. When I was in contact with him and he offered us the chance to come and see the goats first hand I jumped at it. I was thrilled at the chance to meet him and see just how he does things, ask questions from someone with years of experience and knowledge in an area that I'm just getting started in and that we are so very interested in. The plan was made to meet him around 4:30pm Friday.

Friday arrived and I found myself loaded in the car with four boys, a dog and all that we needed to stay for one night at our final destination point in VT. The problem was that my husband was still in a teleconference and the snow was starting to really come down. As the clock ticked and my worry of never even leaving the driveway started to consume me. Finally he arrived at my window and said we were ready. A quick call to Farmer John to see if us arriving a little later then planned would be ok and we were on our way!

Farmer John is the owner of 110 goats that we later found out were all breed and partner Jason greeted us. John was out plowing as the snow was coming quickly came down around us. It was pretty - all that snow and the soft glow of light coming out of the barn door.

I have to admit I was a little nervous that they would look at us as if we were crazy, arriving in a snow storm for starters, later then we had planned due to the weather and as we started to get out of the car......the trail of children we brought with us...... To my relief they didn't blink an eye and my nerves were set at ease

The barn was amazing. As we walked in we were greeted by all the animals that clearly adored John and Jason. Poka Spot that is shown above was a big hit with my boys. She was nose to nose with all three of the older boys and they couldn't get enough of her.

John has a list a ready for us to choose from, names, parents, milking records tons of info that was really helpful. When it comes right down to it the boys who play a very active role in all that we do on the farm had the final say and for them it was based on looks. Stanton loved Holly since she had one horn and Bryce adored Domineak-and I know I'm killing the spelling here sorry about that. Both with wonderful colors and eager to come when called and both breed.

John and Jason were so very kind as to give us a tour of the barn. The milking room, the milk room the chicken Jason has made some wonderful things that are so useful for the helping the barn run smoothly. They are like a well oiled team. You really should take the time to check out their websites and blogs to see all that they have done, do and how they care for their animals. In my head it what a farm looks like.

As well loaded our troops in the the truck that was pointed in the direction of VT we thanked them again, shook hands with happy smiles on our faces and talked of when we would come back to pick up the girls. As we pulled away I have to admit I was a little sad that we couldn't have stayed longer heard more stories of the work that they do and the plans that they have......I can't wait to go back.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Another Piece to the Puzzle.....

Today we collected another piece to the puzzle that is making our farm complete. We are happy to welcome "Puzzle" to Bakers Acres! She is a Nubian Dairy Goat that came from the small town of South New Berlin that is not to far away. She is about 3 years old and is believed to be breed which would put her due around late March early April. We are very excited to add her to our farm family. We have been talking about Dairy Goats for sometime now and all the benefits that they offer.
Some goat milk fact:
  • Goat milk protein is more easily digested than cow milk protein
  • Goat Milk Protein is known for reducing the chances of contracting diabetes and other health problems
  • Naturally Homogenized

And the list goes on, these are just three that we here on the farm find to be wonderful. Not to mention all of things that you can do with the milk

  • Drinking milk
  • Butter
  • Wheel Cheese
  • Yogurt
  • Soap/Lotion

We have yet to mention the wonderful personalities of these animals. Granted we are only getting started with goats but have found them so very lovable! They are a wonderful addition to the harmony of our farm!