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Herd Highlights ~ Ruthie

Posted on January 23, 2019 at 10:20 PM Comments comments (0)


She was our first full fledged bottle baby. Ruthie’s mom, Divine, passed away from hardware disease (despite multiple vet visits) when baby Ruthie was only a few weeks old. It took time and patience to get her to take a bottle. Once she understood bottle = food she eagerly ran to us 4+ times a day.

When she was 2 years old she injured her hoof. Vet said to give her aspirin. We tried all the conventional methods - she would not swallow that huge aspirin. Hmm – bottle, crushed aspirin in milk replacer? Why not? It worked! So, We are pretty sure she would take a bottle to this day.

Ruthie grew up to be a beautiful Angus cow. She loves her neck rubbed, the harder the better, and her back. She gives wet nose kisses to us frequently. She has blessed us with 4 healthy calves. The last one a heifer – Babe! (Who promises to be a beautiful mess just like her mom.)


Herd Highlights ~ Lillie

Posted on January 23, 2019 at 9:15 PM Comments comments (0)


She is second in command of our goat herd. Yet everyone follows her in the pasture. Where Lillie goes they go. Apparently, she knows all the best places to forage. When we want the herd to come in we start singing her name – they follow. Makes our job easier.

Lillie likes her back and sides rubbed. She is an excellent mother. We have heard full blood boer goats will leave their kids in the pasture. Lillie is Kiko. We breed her to a full blood boer Billie. Kiko goats are recognized for their superior maternal instincts, greater parasite resistance, rapid growth rate of kids and, fewer foot problems, fewer health issues and aggressive foraging abilities. That’s Lillie in a nut shell.

She has had triplets 2 years in a row. We supplement with a bottle, but she usually can handle all three until they are a couple of weeks old. She’s due again this spring. Will she make it 3 years straight? Hmmm…


Herd Highlights ~ Opal

Posted on January 23, 2019 at 9:15 PM Comments comments (0)


She is one of the first Dorper Ewes we acquired. We feel in love with her immediately. Opal is quiet, alert, and an easy keeper. Besides her beautiful coloring, her hooves are perfect. (No hoof trimming! Yay!)

She was not real sure of us at first. She kept her distance, sometimes running over other sheep to avoid us. However, this past year was a turning point for her. She understands we are here to protect and provide. Now when we walk by, we can gently scratch her head and back.

Opal has blessed us with many healthy, robust lambs and we are blessed to be her shepherds.


Herd Highlights ~ Gracie

Posted on January 23, 2019 at 9:15 PM Comments comments (0)


She is our oldest and wisest cow. She is full blood Angus. My Grandpa, Erich Domel, gave her to me as a Christmas gift in 2005. I was ecstatic. My very own calf! She tolerated my exuberance and has put up with me for the last 13 years. When Craig and I married she fell head over heels for him. She loves her back rubbed and will tolerate a head scratch. Gracie has blessed us with 10 healthy calves, low birth weight, and fast growers. She prefers to calf at night (much to our dismay), but, thankfully, has never had any trouble. While the young cows kick up their heels, she ambles slowly, taking her time, enjoying her place in the herd.


Farm Escapades 01.18.19

Posted on January 23, 2019 at 9:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Laughter helps..

Calves are adorable. Right? They have such cute little faces, big eyes, ears, and well their babies! We plan for Fall calving. So, this past September/October we constantly checked the Mommas. Who’s showing signs of eminent delivery? Eminent delivery for a cow presents in several ways: Her udder swells to the point of OH MY!, her tail head starts to stick up, and she becomes very restless, not eating, laying down, pacing. So, we go on high alert -should we check her throughout the night? (yes) So when the calf is born its like Christmas! We’ve waited for 283 (give or take) days for this baby!

So our calves are all about 4 months or more now. They know who we are (their slaves) and are used to our voices, movements and so forth. This past week we opened a new grazing area for mommas and babies. (Remember – adorable!) We’ve slaved away repairing ancient fencing, putting in new electric fence, checking everything – exhausting work. The moment is here…. We call the cows –Woooowhoooo- here they come. Their eyes are bright, full of excitement, we walk them thru the gap (what we call an opening/closing in the fence). They immediately start grazing, munch, munch, munch…sigh, satisfaction. Months of work paying off with happy cows.

Wait…. oh no..1 calf wasn’t paying attention. Way back in the South 40 there is a calf who will be panicking in about 10 minutes. Shoot. We scurry to round up said calf (Babe) and rejoin her with the herd. Babe is not having it. She knows there is not an opening (gap) in that fence and she is not going thru it. We patiently walk her back and forth, back and forth 10 plus times. (Keep in mind parts of our pasture are still swamp – boots, mud, not waterproof, ugh). Her adorableness has faded. We are tired beyond measure. WE JUST WANT YOU TO WALK THRU THAT 12 FT GAP AND JOIN THE REST OF THE HERD!!!! Our patience has been tested to the limit and we are so close to walking away- DEEP BREATH – try one more time. We box her in, she calls to momma (Ruthie-who is happily grazing and could care less – no help AT ALL!) We stand still, please LORD, let her walk thru…catching our breath…

Babe, looks back at us. Then, ever so slowly, walks thru that 12-foot gap and joins the herd. We just about fell to the ground/mud. Whew…. too exhausted to care, we close the gap, and head back to the house. A hot shower and dinner are finally in sight. We chuckle and then laugh out loud. After all she’s just Ruthie’s BABE!




Farm Escapades 01.11.19

Posted on January 23, 2019 at 9:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Highs and lows..


We really enjoyed and took advantage of the beautiful weather this past week. The cattle, sheep, and goats all enjoyed long hours in the pasture. Sometimes frolicking, especially the little ones. The lambs jump straight up in the air and kick their legs back, the goat kids run sideways kicking up their heels and occasionally headbutting their siblings. You can’t help but smile at their joy.


We made headway with the high tunnel this week. Our neighbor was available at a moments’ notice and the work began. All 16 rafters are now up. Yay! We think the worst part is over, but we could be wrong, and now the stabilizing, anchoring, and covering will begin. Construction also started on our greenhouse which should be completed next week. So, seed starting will begin in earnest.


While we were erecting the rafters, we noticed our cows all staring in the direction our sheep and goats were grazing, ears erect—UHOH. We hustled over and saw a couple of goats staring at the brushy fence line- double UHOH. We called them in and walked the perimeter. Something wasn’t right. Little did we know…..

We tucked everyone in their pens later and settled in for the night. The next morning, we were shocked and angered to find one of our beloved goat doelings (young female goat) had been killed by a coyote in their enclosure. We will never know for sure how he entered, if he jumped the 5ft panels or squeezed thru, but we do know that coyote’s days are numbered. We respect and understand the balance of nature- predators, prey keep populations in check, maintaining a degree of balance in an ecosystem. But we take exception when a predator breaks into a safe place and we farmers believe in protecting our livestock. He obviously watched us from that brushy fence line and planned the attack. He will be back and we will be waiting. Coyotes are presently the most abundant livestock predators in western North America, causing the majority of sheep, goat, and cattle losses.


Did you know- A predator's eyes are usually located in front of its head. Forward facing eyes (including us humans) allow for binocular or stereoscopic vision, which allows an animal to see and judge depth. Predators need this depth perception to track and pursue prey. A prey animal has eyes that are located on the side of its head. Side eye placement allows for greater peripheral or side vision. This enables the animal to see predators approaching from the side as well as from behind. This vision is very important for protecting an animal when it is grazing or feeding. When goats, sheep and other grazing prey animals put their head down to eat, their eyes rotate to maintain the pupils’ horizontal alignment with the ground. Amazing!



Farm Escapades 01.04.19

Posted on January 23, 2019 at 9:10 PM Comments comments (0)



We both grew up in the country and learned the importance of rain. It was a sin to complain about the moisture. Everybody was silent when the forecast came on the 6 o’clock news. We knew a lot was at stake and if rain was predicted the mood was considerably lighter. We heard countless stories of the drought in the 1950s and we lived thru the 2011 drought, but STILL….we pray that He will turn off the faucet for about a month. However, we know He is in control and we trust Him.


The pastures are literally a swamp. They are overwhelmed with water. Our rubber boots have seen their fair share of action. Going to the barn is an adventure. The cows gather around slipping and sliding. We are slipping and sliding as we navigate thru them. Thankfully, no toes have been sacrificed, no collisions of monumental proportions have occurred. (Yet)


Grazing is not as nutritious this time of the year (hence the barn gathering). Combine that with cold wet weather and the health of livestock is of utmost importance.


As most of you know we moved a little over a year ago from a farm where we raised much of our own hay. We are working on having our hay field ready this year, but thankfully, we are blessed with friends who grow excellent hay. Clean, no herbicides, no GMO, just beautiful grass (variety of coastal, and hay grazer). It is cut at the point of highest nutrition, dried and baled. A lot of physical labor is involved. Once the baler is finished, we then drive thru the field and throw the bales on the trailer, then drive to the barn, unload and stack the bales as high as we can. We stocked up this past year (our backs still ache) and will feed during the remaining cold months, so our livestock maintain health, weight, and vitality. 2019 will see us planting and harvesting again from our own pastures.


It was good to see and feel the sun today. The cows, sheep and goats enjoyed the rays. Lots of sunbathing while chewing their cuds occurred. The rain has slowed our progress on fencing, erecting the high tunnel and planting, but we swallow our frustration and just keep putting one rubber boot in front of the other.





Farm Escapades 12.07.18

Posted on January 23, 2019 at 9:10 PM Comments comments (0)



As farmer’s we obsess about the weather. Constantly checking the forecast, sometimes groaning, but always planning. We have learned to be flexible, but it is not always easy. Patience is not one of our strong suits. We knew our first year at the Walburg farm would be challenging. What we didn’t know was weather would up the ante. Drought. The much-needed rains just quit, but we kept working, planning and praying.


We joined our Ram with the Ewes early spring when the percentage of twin births is higher. Smaller babies, easier delivery, more productivity – it’s a win win. The drought hit hard. Weather stepped in. We had some twins but ended up with lots of singles. Big babies, hard deliveries, pulled 4 lambs. (Thankfully, mommas and babies are thriving.) We consulted fellow sheep farmers and they experienced the same issue. Drought conditions when bred then the rains came late (boy did they ever!) lush pastures which resulted in big single lambs. It’s amazing how weather affects every-single-thing.


We are trying to erect a high tunnel. Once again weather is a determining factor. This rain is not helping. 32 post holes have been dug – 16 on each side of the 30 x 60 tunnel. Back breaking work. Plus, the posts must be level, aligned, exactly 4 feet apart, driven to the same height. Precision work requiring lots of patience. (Did, I mention patience is not one of our strong suits?) Unfortunately, before we could put all the post in, we had to switch gears and prepare for the forecasted 3 inches of rain.


Livestock shelters were checked. Cattle, sheep, and goats shuffled around a bit to make sure all would have cover. Sheep are the easiest keepers in that regard. They huddle together and forget their differences. Cattle have a definite pecking order, but for the most part will share space for the sake of staying dry. Goats on the other hand are a whole different breed. The pecking order is absolute regardless if it’s pouring down rain. They will run the lowest ranking members out from the shelter, turn their backs and munch happily away, while some of their herd stand shivering in the rain. Aargh! Our most important job is to take care of our livestock, especially those in “low rank” positions. So, the “low ranking” goats were happy to be moved to a separate area with their own barn. We now could sit back and enjoy the weather, resting up and anxiously awaiting the next work day. Weather permitting of course!




Farm Escapades 11.30.18

Posted on January 23, 2019 at 9:05 PM Comments comments (0)


A bull elk. That’s our Peace, without the antlers of course. He is our gentle giant that we raised from birth to be our Angus Bull. The first time we heard him call to the cows we had to look twice. He sounds like an elk bugling……

He is a big boy, but he has a big soft spot…Craig and a small one for me. I’ll never forget the time (years ago) Craig came home from a hunting trip. Peace wiggled and danced like a puppy. He ran to Craig…half a ton of pure muscle sprinting towards my beloved husband. I closed my eyes – no way could I watch the collision. Finally, I peeked with one eye. Craig, on his knees with his arms wrapped around Peace’s enormous neck. Who says man’s best friend couldn’t be a bull that sounds like an elk. Peace is even gentle with his off spring, stays in fences and loves his ladies. We say this often – he’s a good boy. A good boy indeed. His forever home is with us and we are very blessed to be his keepers.

This week we’ve been working on two important projects. Spreading manure and preparing to construct a high tunnel. Manure is an excellent nutrient source for fertilizing hay fields. Topdressing hay fields with manure can build soil fertility with on-farm resources. We are not certified organic, but we strive to use everything on the farm to enrich its life. We shovel, scoop, spread a LOT of MANURE. It completes the circle of life. Feed the livestock good and their manure is even better fertilizer that helps grass to grow which in turn feeds them. They grow and in turn provide quality meat for all of us. Now the high tunnel is for something else entirely. FLOWERS! A high tunnel, or hoophouse, is an unheated greenhouse that can help farmers extend their growing season. We grew flowers on our farm in Jarrell. Zinnias, sunflowers, marigolds, lisanthius, bachelor buttons, and more. A little over a year ago we relocated to our farm in Walburg. It’s taken awhile, but we are finally breaking ground to bring back our cut flowers to the market. So, Lord willing, we will have fresh, locally grown flowers available for you next spring!




Farm Escapades 11.23.18

Posted on January 23, 2019 at 9:05 PM Comments comments (0)

Timing is everything

Farming involves timing. A time to plant, a time to harvest, a time to lamb…and the list goes on. So way back in April we joined the Ram to the Ewes so the lambing would start after calving and end before Thanksgiving. We were so clever….

08.26.18 we lambed. What?!? Lambing was supposed to start in October…scratching head. You mean the very 1st day the Ram impregnated a ewe. Wow..ok but the rest will be in October-nope-we’ve been lambing almost every week since then. Missed my sister’s wedding….then eerily quiet until November. Thanksgiving, a favorite time of the year. The leaves change color, the air is cooler *sigh* pumpkins, turkey, dressing…yum. We’ve lambed Wednesday, Thursday and Friday this week. Talk about bad timing. Dottie decided it was Thursday. Thursday she would lamb and he would be big. She would need help…labor started early. She was alone in the barn, she started pawing the ground, laying down, getting up, circling..oh no – not today. We sat with her to observe – she walks up to us, baaa, its today – buckle up buttercup- no turkey for you! When a ewe goes in labor, she may or may not talk, but she will be up and down, paw the ground and when the heavy pushing begins – she will curl her lips and arch her neck. Dottie curled her we go.

We cheered her on “Hurry Dottie, we can still make Thanksgiving” but she stuck to her own timing. 5 hours later..we welcomed her ram to the farm with a final push and a pull from us. Thoughts of family, turkey, tamales and more still lingered, but in the end we were thankful for leftovers, pumpkin pie, a healthy ewe and her baby.