Goats

Sir Loin, our calf hanging out with his buddy. Spice is one of our milk goats.
Sir Loin, our calf hanging out with his buddy. Spice is one of our milk goats.

Over the past several days, I have been making garlic slicing cheese from goat’s milk.

A nice cake of freshly made goats' milk cheese.
A nice cake of freshly made goats’ milk cheese.

I think one of the best things that my family ever did for our farm was to get some dairy goats. I know a lot of people think all goats are smelly and that goats will eat anything. Actually, the girls who are called does just like deer, don’t stink. It’s the bucks (intact males) who will stink at certain times of the year. Another thing is that if you watch a flock of goats, they are very picky about what leaves and grasses they eat. They adore poison ivy. Our place is completely cleared of it.

We got into goats around 2005 or 2006. I think one of the most important things that a person can do, is find a mentor. Also, get a copy of the book “Storey’s Guide to Raising Dairy goats” It’s is by Jerry Belanger. That book will help you so much in raising goats. At this time of year, our babies are all weaned. We bottle raise them ourselves because they don’t wean easily and they do put more wear on their mother’s udder than just being milked does.

Our does are in full production right now. We get about 4lbs of milk per doe, per milking during the peak of their milking. With that milk, our farm makes it’s own cheese, it’s own soap, and of course we have plenty of goats’ milk to drink. We have 3 good does for 3 adults that all live on our farm. Our does get fed alfalfa pellets at every milking which we milk them twice a day.

One thing that I would strongly suggest is even if you don’t want two does milking, and you don’t want to have a buck, get two does. I found that if you get a doe and a neutered male, the male will beat up on the female when he gets older. It’s heartbreaking to have to deliver still born kids because of having had a bully with the doe. If you can find a buck owned by someone else and you don’t want to have a whole lot of goats, you can choose to just breed one doe to the buck.

We love the whole process. It’s such a joy to go out to the pasture and see the girls weaving at the gate, begging to go get milked. It’s also a lot of fun to call the goats and watch our goat stampede happen. All of ours are bottle raised so they are very affectionate with people. A goat that was not raised on a bottle will be much more standoffish,

I could talk more about these much loved members of our farm because there is so much that I could say, but I think I’d better leave that for another post.

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In the Rose Garden

During the summer, I love to walk out into my flower garden and just breath in the smell of my rose plants. They have such a strong, lovely scent that gets picked up on the warm Oklahoma breeze and blown all across my yard. If you are like me, not only do you have an interest in gardening for food, but you probably would love to raise some flowers too. One of my favourites is the rose.

She’s really not as hard to grow as she seems. I have to admit though that there are times when I wonder if a rose I bought is going to make it. There are certain places that are riskier than others to buy your flowers from. I always try to buy from someone who has a money back guarantee if my rose fails to grow leaves.

I always buy my roses in twig form with the roots. I usually try to get them around March because earlier than that, and you have a much high chance that the rose won’t make it. Later than that, and the rose will have a harder time adapting. I got given a Pinata rose this year for my birthday which happens to be in March so it’s the perfect time for a new rose plant. All through the month of April, I kept going out to check on my newest rose.

No leaves. I was starting to worry that she might have been frozen and killed before I bought her. Then today, it finally happened! I went out to check on her. The weeds and grasses had invaded her space. It looked like she couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t see the plant for all those nasty weeds. I garden with no herbicides. I like my friendly skinks, and toads who stay around if I don’t use pesticides.

Any way, I went back into the house because Oklahoma weeds are a force to be reckoned with and the ones growing where my rose bush was supposed to be, were very stickery. I came back out of my house wearing gloves and carrying my handy dandy machete. It was a work of just a matter of seconds, and hello! There she was in all her glory! The little piñata rose which will have orange, red and yellow flowers, had her leaves at long last.

I’m looking forward to seeing my rose garden blossom this year. I have a Blue Girl rose, a Queen Elizabeth pink climbing rose, a generic yellow rose. Then there is my red rescue rose.Why is it named the red rescue rose?

I was working as a janitor one summer at a university in Arkansas. As I was collecting trash one day, I noticed that one of the ladies had been given a bouquet of roses. After her roses wilted, she threw the stems away. The leaves were nice and crisp on the stems still. I felt badly that the rest of the plant was going to go to waste. So, I took just a small piece of stem about 5 inches long with lots of leaves, and wrapped the freshly cut stem in a wet napkin. I then covered that with a plastic baggie.

I took that home with me and put it in a pot with miracle grow potting soil and watered it. I then covered it with clear plastic. I think it was 6 weeks of keeping the soil wet before I removed the plastic for good. I was able to plant my red rose in my garden in 2010 and it has been giving me beautiful red roses for the past 5 years. Not bad for a piece of plant that no one else wanted!

One of the things that I’m looking forward to with my rose plants, is eventually making tea with rose hips. Mmmm! So good!Queen Elizabeth

Life on the farm

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live on a farm or raise your own food that you know was raised right? I’m one of the lucky ones. My family owns a 10 acre farm in Oklahoma and we raise almost all of our own food. I will be posting tips and telling stories about life on our farm, year round. Hopefully, you will get a little glimpse of what that is like.

Our farm raises our food pretty much organically. We raise sheep for wool, chickens, turkeys and ducks for meat. We also have goats for meat and milk and we raise about a calf a year. We have a few gardens as well.

Because we raise our fruits and veggies with no pesticides, we have a wide variety of wildlife on our farm that had fled or died when the previous owner had owned the land. We find some cool creatures now like a frog  who lives underground most of the time. We dug him up when we were doing some planting. I hope you enjoy following along while I try to give you glimpses to life on a homesteading farm.

Some of our flock last year with their lambs
Some of our flock last year with their lambs