Now that spring is here or at least pretending to be, our to-do list is ridiculous!
My family is pretty used to me starting off our Sunday mornings with a big breakfast and today was no different.
One of the farm vlogs we watch has been ranting and raving about a cowboy cook who is (by the way) releasing his second cookbook this week and well, his style of cooking is right up my alley!
After watching several of his videos last night I had decided I was going to make his biscuits and gravy for our Sunday breakfast today so that is how my day was going to start.
Steve volunteered to do morning chores for me and I made sure to remember to ask him and Aslyn to bring in some eggs from the chicken coop (which I often forget to ask for and then they have to go back out after just coming back in).
While they were doing chores I was getting my sausage browned (we buy a whole hog each year from one of our neighbors.. you can see our pork recipes we make here) and getting my biscuits prepared when I realized I was missing two very important ingredients. Well there goes breakfast. I could have just changed my breakfast plans and made something different but I had been drooling and dreaming about biscuits and sausage gravy since I watched the video last night. Feeling defeated and hungry I put a lid on the bowl that thankfully had just dry ingredients in it, and put the sausage in the fridge.
We decided to get to our projects for the day which consisted of dumping all the water troughs and refill them with fresh water, trimming the goat's hooves, getting weight/height measurements, and taking pictures of the yearlings. Let's just say I didn't get to it ALL but I am pretty proud of what we did get accomplished.
The best way to get small projects like this done is to divide and conquer so that is exactly what we did. Steve started draining/mending/improving the water system, I started on hooves.
Our water system is about the coolest thing I can imagine and Steve managed to improve it further today. I will do my best to explain our setup to give you an idea of how it works. On the long side of our barn we have two pens. one has the yearlings in it and the other has the senior does which we affectionately call general population AKA GP. The dividing fence has a water container on either side of it. GP's water trough is a 100 gallon plastic stock tank whereas the yearlings have a 40 gallon oval galvanized stock tank. The yearling tank has a drain plug de-icer heating element along with a small fish tank pump that has a sprinkler hose that runs into the GP water tank. Last but not least, the GP tank has a hole with pvc pipe in the top of the tank that allows the over-flow water to spill back into the yearling tank. What we end up with is two tanks that are heated by one heater (less electricity right which equals less money leaving the ranch) along with moving water that cycles between the two tanks! Our water stays fresh way longer than stagnant water and the yearlings are often caught drinking from the "spout" as it flows from GP to the yearling tank.
Steve decided instead of using sprinkler system hose to cycle the water to use about 3 feet of the female end of a hose that had previously sprung a leak, that way when it is time to drain the tank I can just hook up a male end of a longer hose (no pun intended there) to drain the water out of the barn. The pump pushes the water into that hose whether it is pushing it into the GP tan or whether it is routed outside the tank using the longer hose.
What does this mean for me? No more syphens (which I am notoriously horrible at starting). I have included a picture of the finished project of our cowboy water tank 2.1 on my blog which also has this podcast transcribed for your reading pleasure.
While my husband was putting his genius mind to work, I was doing the manual labor in the milk parlor trimming hooves along with measuring and weighing everyone.
Hear me out here... it has been WAY too long since I have trimmed hooves. It's so easy to come up with one reason or another why tomorrow would be a better day. My dad used to have a saying that described this way of living as "Never do today what you can put off until tomorrow". Of course he usually used that saying when getting on to me or teasing me about procrastinating on something or another. Well anyways, it has been many tomorrows since I have done hooves which I am quite ashamed about BUT as these girls were coming in and out of the parlor I started noticing something.
Some of them LOOKED like it had been as long as it has been and some looked like it has only been a few weeks since I trimmed them. Four out of the thirteen that I successfully trimmed today barely needed a little clean up or trimming. This got me to thinking. I know conformation is super important as well as udders, attachments, orphice size, texture, and all of that good stuff along with other strengths but for me since I am such a procrastinator, I would like to start breeding low maintenance hooves!
Some of you think I am crazy and maybe I am but good strong feet that require very little maintenance ranks right up there with parasite resistance! I am going to start ranking the girls (and boys for that matter) with a 1 for high maintenance, 2 for average maintenance, and 3 for low maintenance.
I often rank with a numbering system where high numbers are better because when I need to make cuts, the animals with higher numbers are "better" for my herd and get to stay whereas the lower numbered goats can move on to someone else's herd. Sort of like a higher IQ is better than a lower IQ right? These animals that don't make the cut here will make someone else very happy to have in theirs.
I want to start watching the trends of whether or not a 3 male bred with a 3 female produces a 3 kid or not.
Well like I said I got through thirteen goats today before my back had it, my fingers had some small blisters on them and I was just pooped. Just in case you haven't trimmed hooves before I have included a link to my favorite videos on hoof trimming on the left of this post. I have also included links to MY favorite tools to use to get this job done as well.
When I was done trimming each doe's hooves I also measured and weighed them using the measuring tape method. This method consists of measuring your goat using a flexible tape measure. I stole, I mean "inherited", several from my mom's sewing room that I use. The first measurement is taken around the girth of your goat right behind the front legs. This diameter measurement is called the heart girth measurement. The second measurement is taken from the front of the shoulder to the back of the rear leg. This is your length measurement.
After you have your measurements get out your calculator or if you are lazy like me, use the calculator I have designed for you here.
Take your heart girth x heart girth x length and then divide that number by 300. This is your weight. I have attached a video for you to see it in action.
I also have a calculator built in to this site that will do the math for you. You can have my calculator do the work for you by clicking here.
I like to measure and weigh each animal at least once a year just to make sure that if they need any medication throughout the year I have a recent weight on them and height on babies every 3-4 months. Their height and weight not only helps me medicate them but also let's me know when they are getting close to breeding size. There are several different theories in when the right time to breed is and actually none of them are wrong necessarily. I choose to use a combination of the three main theories.
First, I prefer that they are at least 70% of their mom's height. I don't use JUST that method though because since I have cross-breeds sometimes a baby can be 70% of her mom's height within a few months if mom is for example a Nigerian Dwarf and say dad is a Mini-Nubian. I own several examples of this scenario and although this is not the way I personally choose to breed, many breeders do this with success which is why I can't use JUST the 70% rule.
That takes us to the second fall rule. This rule entails breeding your doe in their second fall. If your cute little baby doeling is born in January, September would be their 1st fall and then the following September would be their second obviously. Now let's take a doeling born in July, September is their first fall just like the doe born in January although that January doe has had 6 more months of growth. For this reason I don't rely on the second fall rule either.
With my standard breeds, I can take more weight into consideration. For example, if as a yearling my LaMancha doe is not at least 90 lbs she would stay a dry yearling. This is where weighing them frequently helps you know when they are nearing a safe maturity. This method is not so cut and dry when dealing with the mini-breeds.
I like to take a little of all three methods. If yearlings are at least 70% of moms height, it is their second fall, and I feel they have reached a safe weight then usually they are ready but if I have any reservations my gut always leads the way and so far it hasn't gotten me lost so I won't breed if my gut says not to. That is all there is to it.
Regardless of which method you use knowing your goats height and/or weight. There is just so many good reasons to know these numbers!
We went inside, showered the day away and hubby decided to take us into town where we have this amazing little country diner called High Plains Diner where I usually order something called The Rancher. This meal is my fix of grits and eggs with country (fancy way of saying largely diced and spiced) potatoes. However today is different. I ordered what I have been drooling and dreaming over since last night... biscuits and sausage gravy! It wasn't Cowboy Kent's recipe but it sure did make a perfect ending to a not-so-perfect day.
You can bet your cowboy hat that I WILL be making that recipe (once I make a desperately needed trip to the grocery store)!
I hope your day was filled with