April 27, 2010

The Future of Food

Watch the movie by clicking here.

I recently watched this documentary and it was quite an eye opener. This fascinating film has actually been around for a few years but if you have not seen it I would highly recommend watching it; especially if you are concerned about the unlabeled, genetically modified (GM) foods your family is probably eating. You can watch the entire film on Hulu by clicking on the link above. The first ten minutes move a little slow in this film but stick with it because it does get better, and more disturbing as well.

You will learn how huge corporations like Monsanto are increasing their control over our food supply, raking in profits from consumers while keeping a controlling boot on the throats of farmers with patent laws and threats of lawsuits. Many of these farmers like Percy Schmeiser claim their crops were contaminated with Monsanto's GM seeds through no fault of their own. That is part of the concern with GM crops, nature does what it has always done and those seeds get spread by birds, wind or other natural means to non-GM crops. This is one of the many problems with putting a patent on plants and animals... on life. The result is farmers get sued and we lose more and more of the genetic diversity of our food.

So what is wrong with that, you may ask. Well this educational film gives some compelling answers to that question. For one thing, not only do we not fully understand the possible or maybe even probable health consequences of GM foods but they are not even labeled to begin with so consumers can make their own choices about whether or not they want to feed them to their families.

So what can you do? First educate yourself on this important issue. Take the time to watch The Future of Food or do some research online. This is something that will affect every single one of us. The second and most important thing you can do is to support your local farmers. Visit a farmer's market in your area. Not only will you find flavorful, healthy, non-GM food for your family but when you buy locally produced food, you will be voting with your wallet that you do care about small farmers and your family's health. You can make a difference!

April 26, 2010

Over 100 Goat Posts!

I just noticed the other day after I posted about Party's new kids that I have made over 100 posts on this blog about goats. That is a lot of goat talk! So just in case you are not totally sick of reading about the goats or in case you missed some of them I decided to post some links to a few of my favorite goat blog posts from the past. You can find them below, or you can click on the different labels on the sidebar of this blog to read more past posts. I also want to thank everyone that has taken the time to read my blog or leave comments. Thank you for giving me an outlet to talk about our farm and goats without totally driving my husband crazy by talking about the goats to him all the time!

Some of my favorite goat posts from the past.

The Lap Goat
Learn about and watch a video of Peeps, our resident lap goat.

Who Me?
Just who did eat the last of the molasses protein tub?

Goat Tears
Nature's pain remedy.

Embarrassed by a Tomato
The goats taste test some mutant butt fruit.

Google Goes to the Goats
Google hires goats...no kidding.

Goats in the Pasture
Catchy Bluegrass song about goats! Love it!

Rose the Goat Gives Birth
Pictures of our goat Rose during and after giving birth to her kids.

Nifty...Don't Ever Do THAT Again!
Nifty the goat almost gives me a heart attack.

Quiet Time with the Goat Herd
Spend some time relaxing with the goats.

Tongue Tied
The goats (and dogs) let me know what they really think of all the picture taking.

Who Knew Goats Were Such Criminals?
It is a goat crime wave.

Doe Code of Honor
For all the goat "midwives" out there about to pull their hair out.

Goat Therapy
No need to pay that therapist all your money, get some goat therapy!

Want to read more about the goats? Just go to the side of this blog, under "labels" and click on "Goats".

Some Goat Care & Management Posts.

Why Goats Should Not Have Pokeweed Parties.

Magic & Revive Treatment For Goats

The Does & Don'ts of Buying Goats

Kidding Kit & Tips for Kidding Time

Symptoms of a Sick Goat

To read more goat care posts like these just go under "labels" on the side bar of this blog and click on "Goat Care and Management".

April 23, 2010

Props To Party

This is Paint Party, well that is her registered name but we just call her Party. She is a purebred Boer doe that was born on our farm. Party is one of my favorite does, she is usually very laid back and doesn't let much bother her. Party is a first time mom this year and since these would be her first kids I was trying to keep a close eye on her before she kidded. I usually set my alarm and check on goats that are very close to kidding several times during the night but in my sleepy haze I must have set my alarm wrong after checking on her at midnight. So it was about six hours later before I woke up to check on her again and it was getting light outdoors.

I went out to find Party didn't need my help or supervision at all (Not that I thought she would). She must have waited that night until I went in the house to start having her kids. Truth be known she was probably thinking "Finally, I didn't think that nosy person would ever leave! Time to get to business!" By first light she had two new, clean and well fed babies, which she was protectively standing over. She would nuzzle and nudge them and it was quite obvious she learned from her mom Hope all the lessons of being a great goat mom.
In fact she must have picked up a few new mom tricks of her own because when my husband Jamey went in the pen to see the new kids she promptly threatened to bite him! Now normally this would be very bad behavior from a goat but to be honest this is a good sign in a new first time mother like Party. She is normally a very easy going girl but at that moment she had new babies and was just being protective of them.

Party also snorted a warning at the cat, which happened to be D.C, our resident goat greeter. She is a cat that hates worm pills and other cats but she LOVES goats...go figure. D.C the cat is a little bit like that person at Wal-Mart that stands by the carts, she is just there to say hi and thank you for being a goat on our farm! If she had thumbs she would probably pass out smiley face stickers to all the new "kids" too. When Party lowered her head and stamped her feet, D.C. got the hint and went on her way to find another goat to greet. The over-protective behavior of Party will get better as she realizes what is truly a threat to her precious new kids and what isn't but personally I am proud of her! She is going to be a great, protective mother and that always deserves props on our farm!

April 22, 2010

She's Got Legs

One of our Boer does Annie finally decided to kid the other day. Annie is one of Trouble's daughters, you can see the family resemblance. I did not have a firm due date on her so I was trying to keep a pretty close eye on her. She had this very pretty 11 lb Boer doeling about 2pm.

The kid sure is a tall, long legged thing, with cute little flips to the bottom of her ears. I think she must have been a model in a past life. She had a surprisingly easy time learning to stand on those long legs and it was not any time until she was hopping around the pen. It will be fun to see how this one grows!

Strike a pose

"See mom, my legs are long but they are strong!"

Oh no! Just born and stalked by the paparazzi already!

April 18, 2010

Still Waiting...

It has been a standoff and still no resolution. Five does still have not kidded. I know they have to be close, their udders are full, their tail ligaments are soft and they all look like they have swallowed a beach ball. Nifty's belly is so big she looks like a good hug would pop those kids out. By my calculations they should have kidded this past week. Apparently these last five does have decided they want to stay pregnant forever. I swear they are crossing their legs as soon as I look the other way. I know that my goats know and practice The Doe Code of Honor, but these girls are really pushing it this year.

If the weather is nice I let them kid out naturally in the pasture, though I will often move the new mom and kids to a covered kidding pen, (especially triplets as they tend to be a little smaller) for the first few days because we do have so many hawks and large owls here. Our livestock guardian dogs are very good and they are alert to predators in the air as well as on land but I would rather be safe than sorry. That is usually what I do but to be honest, after so long I got tired of going out to the pasture every few hours to check on these last five hold-outs so I moved them to the backyard where I could more easily keep an eye on them the last few days. It is actually pretty nice because I can see them by looking out the living room window; not that it is doing me any good because every time I look out at them they are just laying there looking right back at me while smacking and chewing their cud defiantly with a goaty smirk on their face and absolutely no signs of labor to see.

I guess I should not be impatient because it is probably my fault. I have spoiled them with tasty alfalfa, chin scratches and treats but my bribes backfired. I reckon they know a good deal when they have it. I guess that is a good reason to hang onto their kids as long as they can, but I know in the end they will bless us with some really nice goat kids that will be well worth the wait...and wait...and just a little bit more waiting.

They so got me wrapped around their little hoof.

April 10, 2010

Leave it to Hope

To turn our "buck" year around! She did it again and had two beautiful doelings yesterday, bringing our doe to buck kid ratio up to 7 doelings to 10 bucklings. Hope is one of our Boer does. Her registered name is 5605 RB44, but I did not think that was a very personable name when we got her so I named her Hope. She was named Hope because we bought her near Hope, KS. She is an 88% Boer that was six years old this past December.

Hope is an excellent mother to her kids, a trait that is held in high regard on our farm. She has raised all of her kids herself and in fact the reason she has that funny looking ear that kind of sticks out is because she lost part of her ear a few years ago while protecting her newborn kid from a pushy dog.

Hope is predictable, and I love that about her. She has had twins every year with no health problems or complications, and just to be extra considerate of us she usually has them during the day as well. That Hope, always thinking about others! We don't like to over-work our goat mothers here so we typically only breed them once per year. Hope also holds the farm record for most doe kids born! Now I know it is the buck that determines the sex of the kids so maybe she is just lucky but for some reason Hope has girls...lots of them. Out of the ten beautiful kids she has had, eight of them have been girls! She kept up her predictable pattern again this year by having two more girls with no problems at all.

Her first kid born this year is a pretty 8.5 lb brown and white paint with a large, very square brown patch over her shoulders. Kind of looks like she is wearing a backpack, and we have already started calling her backpack as a means of identifying her from her sister. She is resting near her mom Hope in the picture above after filling her belly with colostrum.

This was the second doeling Hope had yesterday. She was 9.5 lbs at birth and is a very pretty tri-color paint. Her head and neck are red, as is the top of her legs but then it changes to black on her lower legs, her belly is also black. She is really a unique and pretty color. I swore I was not keeping ANY kids this year, we are in fact planning on cutting back on the herd some....but this one sure is tempting to keep. I just think she is so pretty. Jamey probably won't be happy to hear that, he says "half our herd are Hope's daughters". Not that there is anything wrong with that, she has some great kids but I guess he figures we have enough goats with this bloodline.

(Hope without all the scruffy winter hair and pregnancy belly)
It is true that in our herd we currently have four of Hope daughters (actually 6 right now counting the new ones born yesterday) and two granddaughters of Hope. That is actually one of the reasons Hope will forever have a home on our farm. Since her daughters are high enough percentage Boer they can be registered as Purebreds with The American Boer Goat Assoc, she has made a huge contribution to building the Purebred Boer part of our herd through her daughters and granddaughters.

Hope has been such a good goat for us and I think if a goat produces lots of kids for you, is always healthy and never causes any problems for years she has frankly earned a lifelong home, which she will have here on our farm.

In the herd Hope isn't a shrinking violet, she is not that herd wimp that needs me to stand over her food dish and guard it from the other goats for her. She gets in there and stands her ground to any of them. She was disbudded before we bought her but she doesn't let the fact she does not have horns slow her down, she has a perpetual small bald spot on the top of her head from butting heads with the horned goats but she don't back down, yet she isn't a bully either. She has never caused any problems in the herd, and her funny, deep "tug boat" (that is what my husband calls her) almost sheep like BAAA makes me laugh. She likes tums and graham crackers and has quite the personality.

One of my favorite Hope daughters, "Dot" also had her kids just the other day. She doesn't seem to be following her mom's record for having doelings I am afraid. Seems she is trying for the opposite, she has had five kids and so far four of them have been boys! She did finally have a doeling this year, she is the kid in front. They were both only a couple hours old in this picture. She does have her mother's excellent maternal instincts though and has been a great mother to her kids.

I am still waiting on Hope's other daughters, Nifty, Heart & Party to have their kids as well as six other does that are due any day. I hope the beautiful weather that was here for Dot and Hope's births sticks around for the rest of them!

April 05, 2010

Is Your Family Dog Leading A Double Life?

Trouble - Dog attack survivor and healthy goat grandma today.

If you are allowing him to run free, especially in rural areas where livestock are nearby he very well may be.

What you are about to read is blunt, and will no doubt anger some dog owners but if a little bluntness and honest reality saves the life of even one dog or farm animal it is worth the few hateful comments I will undoubtedly get from city folk and dog owners. This is a subject that is near to my heart since I lost a much loved goat, one of my first Boer goats in fact and had another one mauled by our neighbor's dogs on our property many years ago before we got our livestock guardian dogs. The mauled goat did survive and is now a healthy and happy 8 year old Goat grandma on our farm. You can read Trouble's story HERE.

Most dog owners don't want to admit that their lovable family pet is capable of the death and destruction of their neighbor's pets, poultry and livestock but too many farmers have proof and facts to the contrary. Farmers, livestock owners and people that love and care about their pet goats, sheep and horses across this country have proof time and time again. Every time they see and bury the mauled and mangled bodies of their beloved animals, or they pay the vet bills and doctor the often horrific wounds your dog caused to their animals needlessly because you chose to let your dog run loose off leash and off your own property.

As more "town folk" move out to the country and see all this space and lack of a dog catcher as a reason to let their dogs run free, those owners need to be educated on the reality that responsible dog ownership does not end at the city limits. Please know that many livestock aggressive dogs are not people aggressive at all, many are friendly family pets.

Dog owners need to be aware that farm animals, such as goats and horses feel pain and fear. Goats can actually be very dog like in personality. They like to have their ears scratched, they get attached to their owners and herd mates.

Can you put yourself in their hooves for just a minute? I can not imagine a more horrific way to die than to be chased and terrorized. To try and run for my life in panic with no where to go, no real chance as my peaceful pasture home becomes a prison with killers on the loose. Killers that are not hungry but are doing it all for the fun of it. To watch my children and family be killed too as my own flesh is ripped and bitten over and over until I can run no more, finally falling to the ground where the relentless killers will continue their agonizing attack on me while I am still alive, bleeding and crying in pain until I finally die in a state of complete fear and terror. Horrific isn't it? That is the horror livestock owners feel when they see their animals strewn dead around the barnyard from a dog attack.

That is what our goats and horses and our other farm animal victims feel when your "pet" dogs come onto our property, into our pastures and barns and kill them. I did not write that to be shocking, but to try and get through to those people that think "oh well it is just a goat, or just a rabbit" that these farm animals are living creatures, with unique personalities and just as capable of affection for their owners as your dog is. They love their babies and herd mates and have just as much right to life as your dog does.

It happens all the time, if you think the numerous links I provided below to videos and news stories about this was over-kill, then consider this is just what I found with a simple ten minute Google search. There are hundreds if not thousands of similar stories and cases of pet dogs injuring and killing livestock. It is not a rare, freak occurrence and it is not a problem caused by just Pit Bulls or Rottweilers.

All dogs, of all sizes and breeds, both male and female, intact and fixed could potentially be a problem for your neighbors and a killer of their chickens, pets or livestock. The only way to assure that they are not is to keep your dog confined to your own property or on a leash. This is much more of a people problem than a dog problem, it is a matter of responsible pet ownership and basic consideration for your neighbors. Too many farm animals have lost their lives because of thoughtless, irresponsible people whose pet dogs lead a double life of loving family pet at home and destructive killer in their neighbors barnyards and chicken coops.

More Information:

Dog Law - Injury to Livestock - Quoted from link: "The two cardinal rules, which apply almost everywhere, are: 1. A livestock owner is free to kill a dog that is killing, wounding, chasing, worrying, harassing, or attacking livestock. 2. A dog's owner or keeper is financially liable for any livestock damage the dog causes."

How to Differentiate Between Coyote and Dog Kills

Dog Laws & Liability When Dogs Worry Livestock (A Must Read For Dog Owners)

DNA Pet Detectives - Now DNA can be used to find canine killers of expensive pets or livestock.

UC Davis Veterinary Genetics Laboratory

In The News - Family Dog Fido Attacks On Livestock Is A Common Occurrence.
Family Dogs Terrorize Sheep

15 Sheep Injured in Dog Attack

Pet Dogs Attack Donkeys

Small Dogs Endanger Livestock Too

Woman Ordered To Pay $9,771 After Her Two Dogs Attack Sheep & Goats

Videos (mostly news reports) about domestic dog attacks on horses and livestock.






A Message To Dog Owners

* ***I did not write the letter below. I came across this letter while researching dog vs livestock laws in my state. It is reprinted with the author's permission and while she asked to remain anonymous (She cited not wanting to deal with the angry reaction of dog owners as a reason) she had the same feelings I do that it is important to educate dog owners on this issue. As someone who has lost a goat and had another mauled by our neighbors dogs on our property (before we got our livestock guardian dogs) this is an issue I feel strongly enough about to display this well written and to the point article on my website/ blog. It IS blunt but frankly I think some dog owners need to hear it that way. ***

The most common predatory killers of livestock are domestic dogs. Even your sweet family pet can wander off to play, start chasing, then biting, and then instincts kick in that you might be too naive to believe your dog has. Unfortunately, your naivety and denial won't save the livestock your dog harms. Livestock owners know this and many will shoot your dog and you'll never even know what happened to it. But don't blame the owners of the livestock, they are merely protecting their beloved animals from a killer you chose to leave on the loose.

Not only do dogs tear up livestock and cause incredible pain and suffering to them, they can "stress" certain types to death just by "running" them. They can chase them into, through, or over fences where they can become tangled in fencing, or hit by cars. "Running" stock can also cause abortion or early births which result in heartache over the loss of babies and dams due to complications. Some livestock is prone to heat stress, and "running" them can cause death from that too. You can be held financially responsible for the monetary losses your dog inflicts.

The reason people buy property and fence it to to keep their livestock in. It is your responsibility to keep your dogs out of their pastures, off their property, and on your own property. Many areas have leash laws and you can be fined. Many insurance companies will cancel your homeowners insurance if complaints are made about your dogs. (And it's a piece of cake for livestock owners to find out who your insurer is.) Once your home owner's insurance is cancelled for that reason, you'll find great difficulty finding another that will be willing to insure you. If you have a mortgage on your home you have to be insured, so you'll have further problems to deal with. And if your dogs are caught doing damage, you can (and probably will) be sued for damages.

If you love your dogs you need to be a responsible dog owner. No one cares what your opinion is about what your dogs will or won't do. Too many livestock owners have FACTS about what dogs will do and are tired of the horror and heartache of dog massacres inflicted on their beloved livestock.

You need to be aware that they care about their livestock as much as you care about your dog. In fact they obviously care more, since they aren't leaving their stock running loose to be hit by cars or harm others property, as you are doing if your dog is running off your property.

Why any dog owner feels they have the right to put others livestock at risk is beyond me. It is the height of disrespectful animal ownership, and shows a total disregard for the rights of others, or any concern at all for their livestock. If you act that way, why be surprised if your dog gets shot? The sad part is both the dog and the livestock would be safe and happy if dog owner would act responsibly.

So if you are a dog owner, the problem or solution starts with you. Contain your dogs on your own property, unless you have them on a leash or in public areas created specifically for letting dogs run. ESPECIALLY if you live anywhere near other people with livestock. It's 2002, not 1500, and other people have rights too. If you can't be compassionate or mature enough to care about the welfare of others animals, at least show enough care for your own dog not to let it be at risk.

If a neighbor has ever had to speak to you about your dogs being on their farm, or running their stock, you are causing major upset in their lives and creating trouble. You may be mindlessly unconcerned, but they obviously aren't. You are risking their stock that they care about and have money invested in. That is not within your rights to do - neither legally nor morally. Apologize immediately, and make *certain* your dog does not leave your property "unrestrained" again.


To Be So Agile

If only we could all be as agile as a goat.